Who knew the universe had this for me to learn?
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In the past couple years, after decades of struggling, I came to a peaceful place in my relationship with my dad. I stepped back and accepted it “as is.”
My father was someone who could love deeply without having a deep relationship. This was something I had not fully grasped or understood before. How was that even possible? But, as his life was pared down—by circumstance, his limited mobility, his age, the end of his third marriage—he became less distracted by his own life and drew his attention to mine, and what I had created with my husband and sons, in a way he never had done when I was younger. That doesn’t mean we suddenly had long meaningful talks or that hurts of the past were erased from memory. But he loved us fully. He adored my boys. He was thrilled that I had found my soulmate. I was able to give to him, take care of him, and pay attention to him after years of resenting that kind of expenditure on my part. When I accepted him I realized that years of wishing it to be different had only created years of deep disappointment and that the change in my heart was very healing.
Acceptance has made the past week much easier to bear. No holes to fill. No arguments left unwon. No expectations unmet. I have no anger towards him. I am only feeling love, and a calm and an understanding that truly would have been unfathomable to me a few years ago.
A few days into the week with him gone, as this awareness of my own inner peace washed over me, I realized that this is my lesson to take forward into all my relationships. Why only accept my father? Why not my mother or my sister or an old friend? Why not just accept everyone for their strengths and weaknesses and let the negative stuff fly right by me?
So yesterday, when Mark and the boys went off to play at the river (they left me in our still, quiet house; the only hours I’ve had to myself in over a week) I meditated on that. I meditated and chanted to myself: “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I pictured all the people in my life. And I sent my open heart to them. And then my meditation changed. I kept repeating “I love you,” but suddenly I saw myself. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
I grew up judgmental and a perfectionist. I come from a long line of bitter grudge-bearers, folks who because of one angry event, or maybe a whole slew of them, cut ties with friends and relatives till the day they died. That’s something I’ve considered.
Acceptance. I have spent so much energy on anger over the years and anger is so debilitating. In the end, it’s my own self that is needing that acceptance and love.
I would not have believed this to be a lesson from my father. And yet, here I am today, stepping out of a lifelong mold.