Okay, hands up all of you that idolized your father or mother as a child? Or later a teacher, a lover, a mentor, a spiritual leader, a TV or movie star, a rock star? Okay, that’s pretty much all of us…
THE SEARCH FOR LOVE
I want to tell you about my father. He was a handsome man, and compared to my mother, had the patience of Job. He would play with us – thrilling games with real repercussions, like Cougar and Bucking Bronco. Crying was for sissies. Once (with our agreement), he put my little brother Billy and me in his bakery oven, with its rotating shelves and the pilot flame on, to dry us off after we walked in the wet, sloppy snow to his shop. And then he closed the door for a second, opening it to cackle with glee just like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Disturbing? Yes, I guess so. They sure taught me a lot about not allowing my devotion to outweigh my fear. But as an adult, I realize these games have also taught me to take challenges and accept risk despite my fear.
Dad was also a WWII veteran (although never thankfully experiencing active duty) whose pillow was stolen in the first week of his training and so he slept without one for the rest of his life. He would rock us on the big rocking chair, loudly singing dirty (for the time) army songs he learned, making my mother’s face pucker with distaste like she had sucked on a lemon. And he would draw pictures for us to identify and read me stories in his monotone reading voice every night.
So yeah, my dad was the fun parent, and I will admit to idolization. My best friend through childhood and I decided that we wanted my dad and her mom to get married when our crankier parents would one day magically vanish and all of our dreams could come true.
In a family of six children, I got my dad to pay attention to me through sheer will. I demanded it and fought for a larger share from my little brother and my big sister. I even went to my brother’s soccer practices and games and took karate so that he wouldn’t get one more moment of attention than I.
Somewhere through the ages of 10 through 12, I began to see my father for the ordinary, flawed human being he was. He was still the fun dad, but I began to understand that he wasn’t perfect and the only time I ever seemed to get attention from him was when I was wildly juggling plates or performing death-defying feats of my amazing love for him. I also saw that when he became angry with me, it felt like it was a flash out of nowhere, and was just as quickly gone. While his anger was never without reason, it hurt like heck, because sometimes I just didn’t understand why he called me out when all I wanted was for him to see me.
Just as all my mom wanted was his love. She ricocheted between longing for him and hot pursuit — to hurt and resentment when his attention turned elsewhere.
When my father fell off the pedestal I’d placed him on, my foundation cracked. I learned through my parents' interactions, that love was a game of cat and mouse. Like many women, I began a series of relationships with men, not based on equality, or mutual love, but on attaining the unattainable. That elusive thing that my father could never express to my mother in the way she needed to feel it… love.
I longed for and chased after men who didn’t want me, or couldn’t give me what I needed. I didn’t see the good men who did want me and would gladly give me what I was needing — for a long, long time.
And so in my search to feel better — and yet not allowing myself to believe that I would be well and whole only when I loved myself first — I put my faith and devotion into unhealthy love relationships. Others put their energies into achieving great heights as they climb the corporate ladder, or jump from one diet craze to the next, or from one psychic or healer to the next. All because we don’t believe that all the answers are waiting for us if we would only stop the merry-go-round and see our own divinity.
I believe (and this may yet prove to be my own limiting belief) that healing our Self is work. Hard work. There is no magic pill, no number of mantras we can say, no intimate connections we make, no religions or spirituality we can practice, or healers that can fix us if we don’t believe we are worthy.
There is tremendous value in all things we do in our attempt to heal ourselves. It stirs us up and raises our vibrational energy. This churning gives us the opportunity to feel what we are ready to face. If we are brave enough to look at the hurt through a lens of gentle self-love, perhaps we can let go of what has kept us in its grip.
I’m grateful to every tree that has given its life so that I may continue my search for understanding and wholeheartedness. My path has been cleared through pen on paper and deep nurturing conversations with trusted souls. They shine healing light on parts of myself I did not know existed. Although these pieces I have reclaimed this way have been hard-earned, they are now firmly rooted; they cannot be unlearned. And yet, the hardest part — still — is to believe that I have all the answers and all the power I need, within me.
AWARENESS AND WORTH
I may have said before that I have these polar opposites personalities living inside of me that I’ve really only cottoned onto and accepted in the past few years. I have come to know these personalities through my journal.
One is the sassy, independent, and incredibly powerful Queen persona. I believe I was born to be her. She is kind and benevolent and gives freely of her largesse. She says, “I am here to serve, but I am also a valuable commodity, and if you overstep my boundaries, you will know it.”
The other is an Indentured Slave persona and she was given to me in my childhood. She labors and bemoans what others have, and will not allow herself rise up because she believes she is chained by her fear and unworthiness. She is kind and giving, but all she gives comes with strings, “Look at me, love me, rescue me, give me whatever you don’t need, for I am worthy of nothing more.”
Which one of these sides of me gets to feel FULL, SENSUOUS, OPENHEARTED, INSPIRED, and THANKFUL, do you think? These feelings are how I know that I am following my path to my heart’s desire.
More often now, my Queen is leading, and I feel the Indentured Servant’s chains loosening. The Queen will help her rise up and bring her along, for both parts will always be with me.
I know there will always be another rung to climb on the ladder of grace. I may not make it to the top before my life is over, but that’s okay. At least I can finally see that I am ascending – and that I am worth climbing for.
- Who or what have you put on a pedestal and idolized, only to see their/its imperfections? How did it make you feel?
- How have these experiences rippled through your life?
- Have you come to recognize a pattern of searching for the unattainable? Write about it.
- Do you agree that the deep lessons in life are hard-earned?
- Where are you in your progress towards recognizing and celebrating your value and your inner knowing? How has this discovery impacted your life?
kathy mercure is a promotional storyteller and storytelling workshop teacher. She helps businesses and people to tell their stories. Writing From the Heart is a journey to unlocking, unblocking and healing your stories so that you can let go of the old, write new stories, and live the life you were meant to live.