My Father’s Example

This is a difficult blog to write. I never want to hurt anyone and I try to always see my part, my responsibility in situations. So with a very sad and heavy heart I write this, my truth.

I am grieving. I am trying so hard to make sense of how a relationship that I devoted my attention and dedication to working to “get right” can come to an end. I am looking from every angle, and I DO see where I could have done things differently, been better than I was, found more of me, honored more of me, held My Ex to a higher standard, for me. But why didn’t I?

My 13 year old daughter has been affected by this loss as well. She found a book of poems by Rupi Kaur called Milk and Honey. They spoke to her, not necessarily specifically related to this situation, but assisted her with her process, and she shared with me this poem.

 

Every time you

Tell your daughter

You yell at her

Out of love

You teach her to confuse

Anger with kindness

Which seems like a good idea

Til she grows up to

Trust men who hurt her

Cause they look so much

Like you

 

-to fathers with daughters   by Rupi Kaur

 

As I was lying in bed tonight, feeling sadness and grief, I began to think of this poem and my father and what did he teach me about how I should be treated.

Before I go on it is important for me to say I love my father dearly. I still see him at times through my younger eyes, him as a volunteer firefighter and him as a hero. I see him as smart, and capable as he provided for our family through many resources like a garden, making maple syrup, hunting, building, steady job and much more. I really respect the man he was. Sadly I don’t know much about the man he is today because I have chosen to be less invested for my own reasons.

As much as I have always admired him, I have also come to see he wasn’t able to be the father that I needed to feel nurtured, loved, valued, or important.

I am reading that poem and wondering if I haven’t carried out its exact meaning? Did I carry out the teachings I learned to my current situations? Have the men I’ve loved, did My Ex, “look” like my father?

I remember vividly sitting in the TV room with my father as a child watching a movie and he, at the end was moved to tears. This had a powerful impact on me. This man who seemed to have a difficult time being vulnerable, connected, could now feel deeply.

Fast forward to my life now. My Ex would share music, stories of sport figures, (30 for 30’s galore, that’s an ESPN documentary show for those who don’t know), news from his home in Ireland, his history and all would touch him deeply and move him many times to tears. His heart is true and pure and I would in turn be moved by his passion.

One of the reasons he left, the main reason he left, is his confusion about passion, or the lack there of in our relationship from his perspective. Love and companionship overflowed, passion remained dormant for him.

So I ask, have I created in my present what existed in my past? Did my father “teach” me to accept what is in my present? Seeing a passionate display but not the ability to connect passionately seems to be the common thread.

I often joined my father gathering sap to later turn to syrup. Stood beside him in the garden, picking the vegetables that had grown. I would ride into work with him so I could be with him, near him. I wanted to have a relationship with him and be close to him and I understood it needed to be on his terms. He didn’t participate in what interested me. I joined him.

I loved being with my Ex. It made me very happy to help at his work, go to the pub to watch sports, head to the driving range and attempt golf, ultimately be with him. I truly enjoyed him, his friendship and the companionship. I believe he wanted me there with him as well.

But as I stated earlier I have looked at what I could have done differently in this relationship so a different result could have occurred. Did I have a life of my own? I did ask My Ex to join me for a movie or other activity and he would often opt out. Was I just creating the same experience that I had learned with my father? Did my father teach me how to have a man treat me? Did I learn I needed to join a partner and not hold them to the same standard?

And please, don’t hear this as blame. My life. My choices. Still I am working with the information I have been given. My father was in many ways back then, as I stated, my hero. Today I see him as a man. I understand he has done the best he can with the examples he was given and the information he has gathered in his life. But what did I learn?

In truth, I’m attempting to sort this out. I want to create a different story than the one I have been telling in my life so far in partnering relationships. I believe I have to continue to examine my actions, my thoughts, so I can disconnect from what I have known, to create a new path directed by new information and new behaviors. I know I have to start by asking the questions. I’m not sure I have the clear answers yet or if I do, I’m not yet willing to see. Each day I am surrendering my desire to fix me, so I can be open to new information, new plans of action, to new love, to a new start.

I love my father, so very much. I love My Ex, very much.

I want a different poem. I want a different knowing.

Relation-What?

I was lying awake last night and thinking about the many people in my life. Their faces, personalities, how they move in and out of my life and I began to realize RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD!!!

I have the skills to participate with individuals with varying intensities; I’ve been working on this for years. But I began to think about what it takes to navigate each relationship and the specific nuances that occur in each one.

I think about the basics, communication, connection/interest, compassion, love, time, energy, empathy, enjoyment, and investment to name some. Working with these simple concepts, for me, create the basis of each relationship. And yet as I look deeper at each person I realize I have a whole other bag of goodies that seems to come into play.

You see there are these wonderful things called “my baggage”. It’s this grouping of emotional components that I bring with me based on past experiences. In this life, and others, if you are so inclined to believe in past lives, which I do. Also running a close second are these annoying expectations, realistic or not that seem to want to have a voice in each relationship.

Let me talk first about expectations. I have come to understand through my emotional work, it is best to approach each experience, relationships included, with no expectations. If you are able to do this it eliminates the feeling of disappointment and disillusionment, allowing for the avenue of joy. For me to enter into relationships with no expectations has been a difficult and complicated walk. How do I give and expect to receive nothing in return? Does this mean I am ignoring my needs, desires, wants?

I guess I had to come to a place where I was willing to give, from my heart, from my desire, with no need for a response. It was giving from a place of love instead of a place of need. Often times in the past I have seen myself give so that I could get my needs met. I would say, “I love you” just so I could hear it back. Give a hug so I could feel a hug. I would be showing love to feel loved. Connecting so I could feel connected.

Entering without expectations began to mean to me that I would extend myself and give when I was willing to receive nothing back. This is hard!!! I have grown enough emotionally to truly want to show someone love or kindness without feeling as though I needed something in return, and still I have come to understand how I must also fill my needs.

I have been able to recognize, when I want to give to get, it is important for me to first fill my soul. There are many ways I have learned and continue to learn to do this for myself. A TV show, a walk, exercise, a movie, a bath, a nap and many more ways fill me so I can give without expecting something back in return.

And still I have learned I need. Sometimes I need a hug, a reassuring conversation, someone to tell me I’m pretty. I believe in those moments it is my responsibility to myself and the other person to acknowledge it is MY need. “I am needing a hug, can I have one?” It allows me to be emotionally present and vulnerable with another person, fostering connection, compassion and love. It also allows for someone to determine if they want to give. Just because I have a need doesn’t mean one individual is responsible for meeting it. Here is an example. I learned to not ask my ex-boyfriend to hear my emotional concerns during a major sporting event. It either needed to wait or I found someone who could be present with me in that moment. You see if I expected him to put aside what he was doing because of my immediate need to talk, I knew I would be disappointed. It set us both up, and I was the one putting us in that position to fail. I began to realize I loved me enough and him enough that I wanted us both to be successful. I could ask if we could talk later or simply find someone else to listen.

On a similar note, I’m not going to ask my friend who has no interest in sports to be excited or even enjoy going to a sporting event with me. I have tried this and have been frustrated because she wanted to talk fashion and movies and I wanted to watch the game. It’s learning to match people and needs together so relationships can work at their best.

So now the heavy load…. BAGGAGE. It seems there is a dance between expectations and baggage. Kind of a comes first, chicken/egg, expectation/baggage sort of thing. As I stated earlier, our baggage is what we carry around from past experiences that have left an emotional imprint. We have the opportunity, through our relationships and experiences, to lighten or add to our load. I see people pass through my life and can feel an emotional response, sometimes superficially and sometimes deeper. Each passing allows me to face a past emotional experience that has left hurt, sadness, anger or any other emotion but love.

These emotional experiences we carry with us, from our children, parents, friends, teachers, partners continue to impact our present day relationships. I have recently come face to face with a feeling of not being good enough. I’m not sure where it originated, and for me it isn’t important. I know that I want to be willing to process that feeling that radiates, consciously or subconsciously, through friendships, work, partners, children, everywhere. You see, I don’t seem to unpack my baggage. What is in my bag travels with me into each experience. The component that varies is what specific individuals bring to light for me.

In this light I have the opportunity to face the emotion and attempt to heal so I don’t have to keep revisiting this issue in destructive or perhaps ways that are not as successful. Literally taking out the “clothes” that just don’t fit any longer. I want to have happy, mutually beneficial, respectful, giving, loving relationships. I can have these wonderful connections as long as I am responsible for me, my needs and approaching people with love. I am grateful for the people that come into my life and provide me the chance to take a closer look at myself and acknowledge where I need to heal. It is a gift, because I want to learn and understand myself. It’s sometimes very hard, very painful, and very sad. I also know and have experienced pure joy, exuberance and love in many of my relationships. The difficulty that can accompany spending time with people, getting to know them, allowing them to know me, is worth the lessons and the love.