Jun 20- Fathering

Meditation: Headspace, Managing Anxiety #8
Length: 11 minutes
Where: Bedroom, Los Angeles
How It Felt: Motivating

Father’s Day is a hard one sometimes.

I have complicated relationships with both of my parents. My dad is a good dad in many ways, at least he was when I was young, but his alcoholism took over when I was a preteen and he never got a grip on life again. He’s done some very shitty things, but he’s also done some very good things that helped make me the person I am today.

We are not in contact when he’s drinking, though he regularly gets sober for a little while. When it’s been long enough, we sometimes connect. He did get sober long enough to walk me down the aisle and be present at my wedding, for instance, which I will always appreciate.

Steve, being the best partner on the planet, keeps in touch with him most of the time on my behalf, checking to see if he’s alive and ferrying messages back and forth once in a while. My dad understands that it’s incredibly painful for me to try to have him in my life when he’s drinking, but he still is unwilling to make different life choices.

Addiction is a terrible disease. However, when the person has had all the support in the world for decades, we have to remember it’s also connected to a person who is choosing their addiction every single day over the people and experiences their life offers.

Like most things in life, it’s complicated, messy, and there are no easy answers. I have a lot of Al-anon in me, which has helped a lot. I forgave my dad a long time ago, but I make sure to keep up the boundaries that protect my mental health, my family, and the life I’ve worked hard to build first and foremost. That’s done out of love for myself, not out of anger at him. Sometimes I still get angry, but I try to pause and work through it when I feel that way. It doesn’t help anyone to hold a grudge, nor does it help anyone to pretend like he’s not an addict capable of harm and manipulation.

However, there are bright spots to this holiday. Father’s Day also reminds me that I have a loving, wonderful father-in-law who has accepted me into his family with open arms and made me his daughter. I have a man I can call when I need him, who gets excited for my accomplishments and is there to support me when things get tough. That’s a huge blessing.

I also have father figures in my family, especially my uncles, who stepped up and showed me what a great relationship looks like, who were there for me when I needed them, who support me and my life in so many ways. One of those uncles was also there to give me away on my wedding day, which is incredibly special. In many ways, I’m really lucky.

The luckiest thing of all is that I ended up married to the greatest father I know. I never wanted kids, but Steve was meant to have them without a doubt, so I’m so happy he was able to have children before he met me. He loves those kids with every ounce of his being. He takes them on adventures, plays with them, talks to them and really listens, makes sure they feel loved and special and supported. Unconditionally loved. I help him with the structures and boundaries and million-decisions-a-day parts of parenting, and with understanding the girls as they grow into young women, or with insight into what they may be dealing with at their other home (their mom is very similar to mine in mentality and tactics), but he instinctually knows how to love and how to be there the ways a dad should.

It’s beautiful, and it makes me love him even more.

As I said, these feelings can be incredibly complicated, and I’m currently sorting some out, but I’m very grateful to have daily meditation at this point in my life. I feel like I’m really healing from a lot of things in my past I let go of last year or places I finally found closure, and I know these daily sessions are helping to make space in a brain that tends to become very cluttered.

Everything in its time, I guess.

In closing, a few things.

One, meditation is a gift and it makes everything a little easier, a little better.

Two, please remember it’s ok to set firm boundaries with people in your life, even boundaries that mean not having them in your life, even if they are family.

Three, and this is important: I did the breathing exercise on Headspace before meditating yesterday, and the animation was an adorable sleeping cat, and it cheered me up so much. Sometimes the little things make all the difference, and let you know you’re exactly where you need to be. I mean, look. Is this too precious? He snored in and out…