After Oz

I truly believe that there is not another person out there who can completed us. I also believe that this goes for parenting as well. No parent can give their child(ren) everything they need. Every child will grow up and be able to look at their parent(s) and point out what that parent did not give them in order to be a complete person. It does not matter if you are a single parent, or a married couple, you will fall short somehow. The degree to which parents fall short varies greatly.

This is not say that you are a wretched and horrible excuse for a parent. This is just a fact of life. To bring some balance to this fact, look back at your parent(s) and I’m sure you can identify one thing they did not provide for you. A stable home, financial security, emotional security, acknowledgement, lessons in sex, relationships, help with homework, advocating for you, consistent health care, one on one time, acknowledgement for achievements, the list of possibilities goes on and on.

When one is enmeshed, they will tend to blame or hold grudges. How do I know? Because I have done so, to one degree or another, with my parents and siblings. However, last week I was able to finally see, and act upon, a bigger picture that has been emerging over the last year or so.

Last year I became “romantically” involved with someone who I had a painful past with. When I decided to become involved with him again, I knew that nothing would come of. But I just couldn’t walk away from this persons sudden change of heart. In part it was my intense attraction to him, and in part I felt that there was unfinished business to take care of. Curiosity got the best of me, and sure enough, everything ended quickly and more painful than ever.

As usual my therapist guided me through this experience and I vividly recall saying to her, “I know this has nothing to do with him and everything to do with my father. M is my father and I want to get to the bottom of whatever this is between me and my dad”.

For the next 15 months, I revisited my father’s anger and expectations and how I felt as a small child exposed to such rage. As a result, I expanded my own compassion towards myself and began to see who I genuinely am with more clarity. Since others serve as a mirror to who we are, I am now able to see my father with more clarity than ever.

I see his pain, his unmet needs as a child, his passions, and his love. From a place of individuation, I can clearly see that my father showed his love for his family through working 16 hour days so that we would never go without. This was and is his way of showing love and I can see this without minimizing my unmet needs.

The way I see it, my father gave me what he could in the way that he could. Instead of blaming him for what I did not get (emotional support), I can acknowledge him for what he did give, and pick up where he left off by giving myself the rest of what I need.

You see, just like no romantic partner can complete you, no parent can complete you. This is the job of every child and individual. To identify where their parents job ends, and your begins. This is becoming your own loving parent.

I remember hearing those words “be your own loving parent” and feeling so sad about it. I grieved the loss of never receiving from my parents what I needed. I grieved the loss of the parents that I never had. It felt like an orphan just thinking that I now have to be my own parent.

But now, it’s much richer, and full of love due to the fact that I can see my father for who he is instead of who he is not. I can appreciate what he has to offer and how he shows love and take responsibility for my part in this relationship. I can thank him for a foundation on which I can (re)build upon and customize in order to meet my own needs.

When I realized this I called my father and with loving tears, had the deepest conversation I’ve ever had with him. I told him that I had to focus on my healing over these past 3 years and this is why I had to create some distance between me and the family. I let him know that I am doing much better than before thanks to the distance and intensive counseling. I told him that although I have thanked him for everything he’s done, I wanted to thank him for who he is. I listed everything I appreciate about him, and how I feel closer to him than every before.

Our conversation felt complete as he thanked me, and although I was worried over his current health issues, I was grateful for the love I felt on the other end.

As for M. I can’t say I’m thankful to him for that crappy experience, but I can say that I am grateful for being able to acknowledge that, had I not decided to tackle that demon, it would have taken much longer for me to reach a place of healing with myself and my father.

I’ve been told that when I dedicate myself to something I go all out. In the area of healing, I can definitely say that this is the case. As scary as it’s been, I have taken the journey to Oz through dark forests, and with the help of loving supportive people, have faced the Wicked Witch of the West on more than one occasion.

So what happens to Dorothy after Oz? We shall soon see.

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