My dad has been my biggest fan for as long as I can remember and I his. After he suffered a ministroke, a mysterious abrupt change in his opinion of me strained our relationship beyond measure. The situation has been unbelievably painful for me. Sometimes I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by these feelings and thoughts. When he occasionally sends an email with confusing mixed messages, it causes me to doubt myself and my self-care decisions around the situation. A voice says, “This is your dad. You MUST respond. The right thing to do is respond! Hurry up! It must be ASAP. Did I mention this is your dad we are talking about?”
At times like this I have learned to affirm, “Thank You, God, for this growth opportunity.” I am usually making a face when I say it, but that’s okay. Regardless of facial expression, the statement is sufficient to start the healing process in motion … again, but only deeper this time. The growth opportunity has been the ability to come to terms with the extent of my self-abandonment over the course of my life.
I called my friend Cordelia (56) because she is a dear friend who holds a space for me to process ongoing feelings about my relationship with my dad. Additionally, in the past year, we have been experiencing freakishly parallel issues in our lives, even though we have entirely different circumstances. As is often the case, she blew my mind. She shared her latest mantra that was her variation of what Glennon Doyle wrote in Untamed: “I would rather disappoint you than abandon myself one more time. I am not willing to abandon myself. Not. Even. One. More. Time. I f-ing love you. I would die for you. But to engage in conversation with you is to abandon myself.”
I sit with the thought of disappointing my dad. I compare it with the thought of abandoning myself one more time. Which is more destructive to me?
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