by Wendy Keller, author and inspirational speaker
My Dad took off when I was four, for reasons that I can’t really blame him for now that I’m an adult. I scrounged him up again when I was 28. That didn’t turn out so well in the long run.
An author who is a literary client of mine calls that a “father wound” and he believes it’s pretty common in our world: a father who wasn’t there physically, emotionally or financially – or one who was there but caused deep damage to our little psyches as kids.
When things go wrong in human relationships – with women or men – I tend to eventually deduce there’s something wrong with me. I’ve noticed a lot of people do the same thing. That’s when you believe you are essentially, at your core, just “not enough”. Maybe somewhere deep in your heart you wonder, “Is there some defect in me that is causing this challenge in my life? Maybe this is all I deserve.”
I battled these kinds of feeling pretty much since I was that four-year-old little girl, wondering why no one would tell me where my Daddy was or when he was coming home.
In the decades that have followed, here’s what I’ve figured out to help me deal with it. If you’ve dealt with a “Father Wound” too, please jump in and share your tips. This is one of those subjects few people ever talk about openly because it is fraught with feelings of shame and vulnerability. I figure as a blogger, that makes it my duty to discuss openly.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Sometimes, things that happen are my fault, and sometimes they aren’t. I may never know for certain which is which, but there’s no harm in being brave enough to look honestly at how I have contributed to the circumstances of my life in a fair, realistic, self-loving, honest way.
2. The bottom line is this: we are ALL enough. We’re all worthy of being loved for who we are. We’re all capable of loving another person. We’re all capable of doing good while we’re here hanging out on the planet. Seize every opportunity you get to do something good for yourself or another person.
3. It’s important to find a balance between loving and caring for myself and loving and caring for others. Too much other-love and I could become an enabler, co-dependent, a martyr, a fool. Too much self-love and I can become blind to areas where I need to grow as a person, or ways I could treat others more kindly.
I’m sure there are many lessons to be learned from each of our Father Wounds. I wish my parents had never married, but since they did, I wish they’d had the ability to work out their many problems without causing so many for me. I wish my former husband had figured out earlier that his behaviors would cost him two marriages and impair my daughter and his other children for a lifetime. Sure, we can all work through the childhood damages we all get, but what could we accomplish as individuals, as citizens, as a species if we didn’t have to?
No matter what mistakes our parents made, we can forgive them if we so choose and because of that forgiveness, we release the strength to manage the impact they’ve had on us.
For all of us, I repeat this admonition: You are enough, you are lovable, you are worthy of happiness, joy, peace, love and compassion just as you are right at this moment.
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“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis”?