I always find it interesting when I listen to people reflect on memories from early childhood. Try as I might I don’t remember any hugs nor kisses, and the words I love you are missing as well. I have always loved my parents but at the same time I have harboured a lot of resentment towards them. I have never sat down in a darkened corner, reflected and asked myself why – until now.
This blog is the contents of my mind. It is not a carefully selected marketing plan with a beginning, middle and an end. I write about what I think and I think differently everyday. When I started writing I had the vision of the Sleepwalkers and the Daydreamers, two distinctly different types of people who behave in two distinctly different ways. I believe that I was once a Sleepwalker and today I am a Daydreamer. I think my writing may have lead the readers to believe that I have a derogatory attitude towards people I believe fall into the category of Sleepwalker. I just want to put the record straight and say that I do not believe this at all. The vast majority of the people who are close to me fall within this category, and I have nothing but love for them. Sure I get annoyed at their insistence of maintaining the status quo, but that is their choice. You can take a lot of things away from man but you will never remove his right of choice.
A few weeks ago I attended the Landmark Forum. I thought that it would be another self-help training course that would give me ideas on how to improve my life. The course did not disappoint, but what I learned was far more important than I could have ever envisaged. This wasn’t self-help to improve your life, this was a lesson about life itself. During one of the sessions the coach told us that every one of us is likely to be incomplete with one or both of our parents. The participants were just nodding their heads completely oblivious to the damage that this incompletion has caused us throughout our lives. You see when you are incomplete with one, or both of your parents, you create stories that are with you throughout life. In these stories you continually berate your parents for a lack of this and lack of that, whilst blindly acting exactly the same way with your own offspring. It also affects your identity and how you interact in all of your relationships.
During the break I rang my father and was in tears as I told him that I had abandoned him when I was a child. He never showed me any love or affection and I decided that if I were not worthy of his attention then he would receive none of mine. Then as the years ebbed away I talked about him behind his back. I told everyone who would listen about his faults as a father. While I was telling him all of this I suddenly realised something that was so pointedly obvious I have no idea why I had never seen it before. My father was not a bad father and in fact he had done a great job with the skills that he had. When he adopted me I became his first child. I didn’t come equipped with a how to manual and so he took his parental rulebook from his father. When I look in the mirror I see a beautiful man who has had, and continues to have, a very successful life. My father and my mother are both responsible for that. So instead of berating them for lack, I should shower them with love for what they have done. I told him that he was amazing, that I loved him, asked for forgiveness and held out the possibility that we could have a great relationship from that day forth.
So if my father received his parental rulebook from his father then isn’t it safe to assume that I also received the same battered pieces of paper? Am I fathering my son in the same way that caused me to abandon my own father year’s prior? The lineage has to stop somewhere and revisions to the parenting rulebook need to be made by someone. Well I am up for the challenge, and would like to create a little bit of history, but it is going to be tough.
I don’t live with my son anymore. I get to see him for a few hours on a Thursday afternoon and one overnight stay on a Friday. On top of that I work abroad a lot. My goal is to be able to earn a living doing something that I enjoy, that also allows me to spend more time with my son. I am confident I will get there, but it will not happen overnight. When I am with my son I am always talking about the things that I have learned and always asking him questions about his life purpose and goals for the future. At the moment he is content with just being a child and has no interest in the teachings that I am trying to force into his ears. But one day he will be ready to receive the parenting rulebook and let’s hope he gets the new and improved edition.
Becoming complete with your parents takes honesty and courage. You need to tell your parents why you feel that your relationship is incomplete. There will be something inauthentic about your relationship and you need to dig deep to find out what that is and be honest when you share it with them. Finally, offer a possibility of a new way of being in the future. If your parents have passed away then you can still complete the exercise but write them a letter instead. I saw people stand up and read their letters to their parents and it was a serene experience.
Are you incomplete with one or both of your parents?
Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney (cc & flickr.com)