In the movie “City Slickers” the venerable and grizzled cowboy named Curly, uttered the now famous line of “just one thing” when referring to the secret of life. When asked what that one thing is, Curly would only repeat the previous line. It was for us to go out, experience life, and find that one thing for ourselves. That one thing for me is LOVE!.
I love my father more today than at any other time period in my life. I make that proclamation due to several experiences that we’ve shared together over the past six years. My 76-year-old father told me that he loved me for the first time in March of 2007. It was the same day that I came home after spending 28 days in our local hospital’s Chemical Dependency Unit. Kind of an odd time to tell me that he loved me but I remember thinking “hey, I’ll take it” There have been several other endearing moments shared between my father and I since then. There is another reason that I feel a deeper connection with my father today. Last year, after a particularly emotional heavy session with my psychologist, in which I talked exclusive about my father and recalled some of the brutal encounters that I remember from my childhood, I sat exhausted and slumped back on the couch. Looking at my psychologist, silence lingering between us for a few minutes, I eventually broke the silence by saying “I wonder what my father’s childhood was like.” After another moment of silence, he responded by saying “I believe that he showed you”. I left our session with those words pulsing in my mind.
The generational cycle of child abuse lives and thrives among us today. What happened to me at the hand of my father, I am certain, also happened to him at the hand of his father. For that alone I am sympathetic toward my father. He has suffered from gastrointestinal problems and esophageal reflux as long as I can remember. I can see how that would manifest over time when your own childhood trauma was bottled up and buried deep in your soul. What happened to me at the hand of my father was absolutely wrong. Adults know better. Adults should to control their actions. If he was having trouble controlling his actions, he should have sought help. All the evidence is there. Its been tucked away for 51 years. Bits and pieces recalled and shared in my therapy sessions over the past 9 years. The evidence has aged, as anything would over a half century. Sketchy sometimes. Missing pieces here and there. But the core of the evidence remains vivid in my mind, in my body and in my soul. I can feel it now as I write. My fingers are shaking and my heart is pounding.
I have walked this earth for a smidge over a half Century and I have come to realize that I have never loved anything or anyone unconditionally. Not my children, not my wife, not my friends and not even my beautiful unconditionally loving Weimaraner who worships the ground I walk on. Why? To protect myself maybe. Fearing that I might not be loved me back. I might feel hurt. Bad things might happen to my family and as long as I maintain an arms length posture, I will have a back door escape should any bad things happen to them. I am no longer a victim.
Today, I am a survivor. I am motivated to work on opening my heart so that I can experience love in all of its essence. “Don’t be afraid to be weak. Don’t be too proud to be strong. Just take a look into your heart my friend. It will be the return to yourself. The return to innocence”. – Enigma, Return to Innocence I have listened to the lyrics in that song by Enigma over a thousand times. They are simple and pure. I will remember them as I seek to love my kids, my wife, my parents, my friends and my fellow man…unconditionally.