Everyone alive has a biological father.
I have one too. I was hearing the familiar ring of Skype, but this time my body felt heavy and tension swirled in my throat.
“Is there a way I can avoid this call…?” I thought to myself.
But there is another part of me that knows when I choose to show up to face my life, even when it is bothering me, I transform. . ,
I allow myself more freedom. I allow the old wounds to be seen and cleared out, kind of like a good dusting in a room full of cobwebs. First the air gets all polluted and musty, but then, when the dust clears, the room sparkles and you can BREATHE!
Not everyone received the holding, love and support that we would have wished from our fathers. We may have needed more protection, more attention, more guidance or more structure.
Inside, It’s typical to have an impression of who we wanted our dads to be, and compare it against who he is.
It is natural to make such comparisons. And, healing starts when we begin to notice that gap, and allow each other to be who we are. That includes being allowed to wish things were a little different. It is all workable.
Here is some support for those who need a little extra love while working with the father that was.
1. Feel the truth of your feelings.
In all honesty it is not necessarily convenient to feel my heart break, anger and sense of lack today.
Feeling the full spectrum of the truth of our emotions by sensing them in the body is the key to freedom and a rich life. The trick is to turn towards what is arising and investigate while staying present and awake. When an emotion is particularly stimulated by thoughts I like to keep my eyes open, and do this work in community if I can. Finding mentors who literally held me in a sacred container while I had these strong feelings was such a profound gift for me. Find someone who will not try to fix or change you but will allow you to be, and hold space for you to feel.
2. Communicate if you can.
For me, it was the pain of many failed attempts at romantic relationship that drove me to connect with my father.
I had an intuitive knowing that if I did not clean up my side of the street with him, that I would continue to act out unhealthy patterns with the men I loved most in my life, causing chaos between us, and causing me to lose them in the long run.
Luckily, my dad had recently remarried and him and his wife do a lot of personal work together. I called his wife and set up a time to talk with them. We did it therapeutic style, about one hour at a time. His wife generously served as a mediator of sorts but she is highly trained and skilled at being a neutral party. Find someone who can offer this to you if possible.
We had significant rifts to repair, and continue to work on connecting in ways that work for both of us. I am so happy to report, years later, how much easier and enjoyable our relationship has become.
Take time, deep breaths and care to be very respectful in your communicating. Some rules to stick by include the following:
- Find a therapist or skilled person to mediate.
- Speak in “I” statements - “I feel _____ when you say / do _____. I prefer ____.” It can seem really contrived at first but ultimately prevents more damage.
- Let the other person know what you heard them say. You may be surprised how much you can miss, especially when the sympathetic nervous system is running hot (think, the feelings of stress). It feels so good to KNOW you have been heard!
Finally, let it be imperfect. These are guidelines not rules.
- There needs to be room for mistakes. After harm comes repairs. If done effectively, in a way that is safe for everyone, you can become closer for the rifts. Kind of like weight lifting, the little tears can make for stronger muscles through repair.
- Set a time to talk free of distractions. Set a max and min amount of time. It's easy to bail out early or get lost in process. A time limit can help with that container.
- It doesn't have to be all heavy. Be you. Make jokes, talk about the ups and downs in your life that you are comfortable sharing.
3. Ask, “How am I holding myself?”
Maybe the most important suggestion is to hold YOURSELF in loving kindness - to find a core of strength, kindness and structure with your own being.
To show up for yourself, and to be generous with yourself. Make the day you talk with your father a self care day and give yourself what you need. If you get stuck stop, ask what your body needs, keep asking until you get something concrete, and give the body what it is asking for. Today, my body needs more water. Let it be as simple as it is. If you get stuck go for the basics… food, water, connection, sleep, nature and movement are great places to start.
My favorite exercise to remind myself that I am infinitely supported is to lie flat on my back on the earth and saying in my head “I am fully supported. I am truly supported. I feel the support of the floor (ground/ earth etc).”
A sad truth is that some of us don’t have fathers to talk with, even if they weren’t perfect. You can still do this repair work with a trusted mentor or therapist. Try writing or role playing the conversations. Family constellations can also be very powerfully healing work for fathers who have already passed on.
4. Ask for a message or a paternal ancestor.
I like to call in support from my lineage. I realized I was working almost exclusively with female guides both in my imagination and in life.
Often lineage does not have to mean blood line, although it can be really powerful to just go through and honor each paternal relative that you had contact with in this life, even if they were not what you wanted them to be. I had a really difficult time finding a paternal ally this, so I ended up working with the qualities of the male bear - fierce, protective and strong.
Here are some basic instructions for calling in your support.
No matter who you are, take the day to contemplate the archetype of the father today. We all have our best qualities and our worst. Feel the feels. Focus on what you want. Live into it.
I have heard gratitude is the highest form of prayer. If you can, give appreciation for the father. He is part creator of life! In doing so you shine a light on what you want to make more in the world.
Sending you love,
Compassion + Integrity = Powerful Leadership - What's your vision for the world?