“ I live here in this body my parents made.
This is my soul’s address.”
Dear Sweet Reader:
I am writing this article in honor of my parents, in celebration of my many years of recovery and as a gift for those of you who want to make peace with your parents(even if your parents have died). I truly believe that if we want to be emotionally and spiritually mature people we have to come to terms with our parents.
I’m 66 now and for so many years, decades even, I blamed my dad for dying young in an industrial accident and my mom for losing herself so completely in his death and, therefore, dropping my hand. This sad and somewhat dramatic story has followed me into many years of therapy and personal growth trainings all around the US and Canada (and I’m so grateful I have had the resources to do that therapy and that it worked…). It really had to be “ALL ABOUT ME” until I had enough of me present as an adult, to really integrate so many parts of this old story.
My idea of how we “let go” of an old story is NOT that this story, this profound piece of personal history, is erased. I think we let go by integrating our stories. Enough layers have been processed, felt deeply and released that now I have an entirely new perspective. I have internal parents that are healthy and available most of the time.
Here, in my sweet, deep heart, my parents live in innocence and gratitude today – the same way I live in their hearts. I am free to really love them. THEY ARE THE “GOOD ENOUGH” PARENTS OF A “GOOD ENOUGH” DAUGHTER.
They are often accessible to me, sitting right beside me even now. They don’t have bodies but they show up as wonderful invisible presences whenever I think of them. They love that I am writing this article in their names. They say “it’s about time, Patti.”
This place of peace is not a constant place – an old memory of my sense of abandonment by mom and dad might grip me and send me to my knees at any moment. It is, though, that I know I will continue to return to this no blame/no shame place; a place of loving how it was with them in the past and now and deep within me.
When I consider my parents as their own people and remember what their lives were like before me, my compassion soars. I also know that they are the only parents that I'll ever have even though they have passed on. When I was about 40, it occurred to me that “I'm a grown up and it's up to me to undo whatever issues still reside in me from my parental background.”
I can no longer think “my mother was one of the most controlling women on earth” without noticing that I am her daughter and that fear and control has been and sometimes still is, a dominant force in my life.
I can no longer think “my dad abandoned me by dying” without looking at the myriad of ways I abandon myself and others or without seeing that his death was really not about me; it was his destiny and it was between him and his own Source.
Of course, my parents truly impacted my life, challenged me and in some ways, even broke me. Still, coming to terms with this is a central part of my stepping into spiritual and emotional maturity, as it is for all of us. They did not cause my pain; they pushed some buttons already living inside me since I arrived here on earth. They were the vehicle through which my healing happened.
Deeper down, this is all about my relationship with the God of My Understanding.
Does God abandon me, ever? Does God drop my hand when my world gets really messy OR is it me that drops God’s hand? Am I willing to truly trust God’s will for me OR am I fearful and controlling, always wanting to run the show? I wish the answer to this question was I ALWAYS TRUST GOD'S WILL over my own will. However, my capacity to align my will with God's is growing yet remains imperfect. At any moment, I want to grab that wheel back.
The gift of my recovery has shown me that my Dad’s physical death and absence from my life and my mom’s precarious emotional balance had a powerful impact on me. It brought me “home” and still does. I HAD to reach out, beyond the context of family into the void and to God. How lucky is that? I’m pretty sure I would not be nearly as intuitive or compassionate without my own story and my suffering. David Whyte, the great Irish poet, suggested that when you meet someone who is really a deep and beautiful soul, ask them about how they’ve suffered. I'll close with one of his poems.
By David Whyte
“Where Many Rivers Meet”
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again