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.

Friday, July 04, 2008

hodge podge post

i can't believe how long it's been since i've actually blogged. i've highlighted a few things here and there, but putting words down has been sparse. i have been journalling and answering step questions for my sponsor, but blogging has been non-existent.

it will be for the next couple of weeks too. we leave sunday for the closest southwest airlines airport (5 1/2 hours away) and spend the night in town and fly monday to portland. we've got 2 nights there and then a week on the california border at my aunt's house. my dad's 5 sisters will all be there and i am guessing that this will be the last time i'll be able to be with all six of them together. they're all getting old. my favorite aunt had a stroke this past year, my dad isn't playing basketball with the kids anymore. he can still shoot and coach, but he told me today he's done playing (which shocked me and broke my heart) and the other four are all just about as unhealthy.

these five women are the last ancestral links (except for one maternal aunt) i have on the planet... they are incredible women. some endured very difficult spouses, addiction, heartache and trials of various types. they come (i come) from pioneer stock. i'm hoping to catalog and record many of their stories this time. we've got a couple digital video recorders and i'm hoping they can just forget they are there and keep talking. i'd hate to think that their stories pass with them. there is so much i want to know.

at the end of that week we have all rented two reunion houses on the pacific coast for 5 days and a lot of extended family will be joining us there. i can't believe how the details for this trip have fallen together. it really feels like a god thing.

i'm hoping to have a real heart-to-heart with my dad while i'm there. i so long to talk theology with him. he still holds so tightly to that old plymouth brethren mindset. i know it was special to him. it gave him hope when so little in life did. but i'd love to show him where it has hurt both of us. i don't think that patriarchy serves the male species any better than the female. only the alpha males who bark and bite really get to thrive in that environment, the rest of us just feel inadequate. i think my father has spent most of his christian life feeling really inadequate. the truly "spiritual man" that was held out had more of my set of giftings than his. that was the diabolical part of this. my mother and i were given the gifts he lacked and required to fulfill his ROLE in life.

it's such an ill fitting cloak and i have shed it. i'd really love for him to also. and if he can't just to understand why i have without labeling me as rebellious, as i have been anything but.

i am also going to tell him that the only thing i have ever truly wanted in life was for him to tell me he was proud of me. i had thought for years (decades?) that it would spoil everything if i had to ask for it, but hope challenged that idea and reminded me that anything worth having is worth asking for. otherwise it may go unfulfilled forever.

the most difficult part of all of this is doing all of it for myself and not for his reaction or response. i am truly walking into this with the hope that i am able to empower myself to break free of the restraints, real or imagined, that have kept me feeling captive to his approval and control. i long to be free.

i don't know what kind of access i'll have to the internet while away, but i will miss your words. if you think of me any prayers for our safety and this situation would be so appreciated. have a lovely couple of weeks!