Wednesday, July 23, 2008

pushing through the crust

i have enjoyed a season of peace and tranquility recently and i am hesitant to move past it. it feels like the crust that cools over the top of the hot lava and begins to turn to stone. hiding the heat and tumult that is lying just below the surface. last fall was so intense. so deep and so important. what happened after was the product of the hard soul work i had done, but very little has been done since that time. i've been content here on the surface and have enjoyed to joy of looking forward instead of within. deep within. (photo source)

i sensed last week though that i was avoiding things. that i was disengaged somehow. it is not normal for me and i know it signals a need for the next layer of the onion to be examined.

our holiday was magnificent. we were honored and graced with so much abundance it made me giddy. i know it will be one of my childrens most cherished memories. they will never hear the waves of the ocean without being reminded of that trip. it was truly special and i am very grateful.

i am sure that the lava bubbling below the surface now has much to do with my father and my own personhood. if there was a low to this trip it was seeing how unhealthy he has become. not just physically either. some days we were like two flies trying to find their way out of a trapped room, both banging on the screens and trying to escape. a couple of times he snapped and it caused me such sadness.

there were some sweet moments, but so often they were clouded by his inability to be present and i was reminded far too often of my own proclivity to isolate and withdraw out of fear and insecurity. there were also far too many times when i saw the parallels between my beloved husband and my ornery father. and the ache that created in my heart as i realized i did marry a man so much like him in the inner places, and yet so very different on the outside. i was able to identify the deep wounds that seem to reopen so frequently in my interactions with liam - shadowed pain that i react to instinctively. there were times this was so clear it took my breathe away.

i tried to sit with it and understand the deep triggers this engaged in me without lashing out to hurt those around me. most of that time was spent looking at my toes in the sand, agate hunting on the beach. my mind a whirl with comebacks, indignation and the deep desire to escape the pain.

there was a moment my father lashed out at me publicly and my aunts were able to see my pain and sought to comfort me. i was able to process my deep desire to stand up for myself and speak to my father about all that i have wanted to say for years. i just knew that i didn't want to have any of it clouded by anger, cruelty or childish behavior that would taint my message and keep him from hearing me. talking with them, and liam helped prepare me as i knocked on his bedroom door.

i asked him if we could talk and he turned off the golf game. i acknowledged how difficult our relationship was and how simply he seemed to be able to relate to my sister. i spoke of the pain that comes from that, but understood that it was just as difficult for him as it was for me. he explained that his frustration with me stemmed mainly from my assumption that i always knew what he was going to say. i guess it was a bad habit i inherited from living together for five years. cutting to the quick instead of having to listen to his meandering instructions. i guess it was my way of reminding him i was really smarter than he was... i apologized and committed to trying to listen.

i then told him that what i had always wanted from him was for him to be proud of me and how i spent my whole childhood trying to reinvent myself to get his attention by doing the things that he liked, hunting, fishing and sports. i said that i was sure he always wanted a son because it seemed he was only able to relate to me when i was participating in more male activities and how hard it was for him never to just notice me for who i was and say things like "you're a really good mom and i'm proud of you." or things like that.

i left a gap hoping for some affirmation. it never came.

so i ventured into freedom. i knew that i would never get this chance again and that my motivation in this was not dad motivated, it was self motivated and i needed to separate myself from the subtle control i have let him exert over me in the past.

i then told him that most of all i wanted him to understand that my choice to use my gifts wasn't seated in rebellion. the most diabolical part of his control was the arrogance he lorded over me in judging that god was on his side theologically. it was never openly acknowledged, but i loathed the fact that in his mind i was thumbing my nose at him and god by making the choice for ministry i have made.

i was able, calmly and clearly, to talk to him about this and explain that there are many people in the kingdom who take scripture seriously who come down on the opposite side of his views. that i wasn't trying to change his mind and he could believe forever that i was mistaken, but that i wanted him to understand fully that i was not being rebellious. that was the burr that had rubbed me raw. i was really proud of myself for remaining calm, not hitting below the belt and not shaming him in any way. i spoke my peace, challenged him and his memory (especially of my mother and her gifts and spunk), honor myself and finally cut the unhealthy chord that tied me to him.

i left gaps in my explanation for him to talk and a few times i reminded him that i wasn't trying to change his mind and that i was okay if he never, ever supported me in this. strangely enough, i meant every word of it, and it became more true as i gave words to it. i realized that it is his loss. god will restore what the locust have eaten.

to his credit at the end of our conversation he did say that he would pray about it. i believe he will. i am more sure that the holy spirit, if he is open, can do far more than i would ever be able to accomplish.

so i didn't hear my coveted "i'm proud of you" or even a hearty "i love you", but i am truly okay with that. i just know that i have some inward work to do in this area to reclaim the places of me that have been lost to the many years of neglect and denial.


Hope said...

I am so very proud of you for taking the chance and for having the courage it takes to do so. I got a sense in reading this that you turned a corner in owning your story. you go girl!

Sarah Louise said...

Oh, honey. I'm proud of you for doing that hard work. Sending hugs. Redeem that inner geography! You are doing hard work, my friend.

For many years, while my parents were far away (geographically) I found mother and father substitutes. Now that they are nearby, I have to learn to create relationships with them--not an easy task.



wilsonian said...

I'm so grateful that you've had this opportunity. There is so much wisdom in what you write here. It is certainly time to cut that cord. And as much as it brings freedom to you, it will also bring freedom to him.

Yay you!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bobbie. To be able to say what needed saying in a healthy way is amazing and inspiring. And to be able to continue without hearing the things that you wanted to hear... you left what was your dad's dysfunction where it belonged, with him to deal with as he will. Courage and "Ruthless Trust" as Brennan Manning says.

Sounds like your dad needs some time to digest and, as you say, to let the Holy Spirit work on him some. After so many years of rigidly holding onto his perspective and dogma, he must need time to ponder your point of view.


Judi said...

bobbie, i am so very proud of you, what you said and how you said it!!! you did exactly the right thing, God was clearly in this with you.

the gaps are painful, but the ball is in his court and you are free.

i agree with hope, you turned a very sharp corner!!!
May God continue to lead you in His peace and identity!!


Patchouli said...

sister/friend/mentor/: he may never change his mind or heart towards you--and that is his loss. Strength of heart and beauty in truth are your banners.

bobbie said...

-turned a corner in owning your story

-Redeem that inner geography!

-time to cut that cord

-Courage and "Ruthless Trust"

-the gaps are painful, but the ball is in his court and you are free.

-that is his loss.

Thank you wise and wonderful friends! Your words bless and encourage me!! This journey wouldn't be the same without you!

Deb said...

I'm sorry you didn't hear what you hoped to hear but how wonderful to be at a place where you can be okay with it.

daisymarie said...

What a powerful and meaningful conversation. You've lived with this for a while, I pray that the healing continues and that grace will bring a closeness unknown to your heart.

Jennifer said...

I am proud of you for having such a brave conversation. I didn't get to do that with my dad except in my mind. May peace and healing continue to flow and may you be so very okay with yourself--with no second-guessing.

Rob Carr said...


I can't think of anything to say but "Wow."

Togenberg said...

I am proud of you!

You did wonderfully, as well as you could, healthily and genuinely. It's all you could do. I am so happy for you.


(Books should have arrived by now btw)