Yesterday, I wrote about how for years I felt not good enough, and I talked about how I reinforced my childhood trauma and reinforced those beliefs by reliving and retelling stories from when I’d been hurt.
And for years, really until very recently, that’s all I could see and feel and think about when I thought of my father and my childhood, all the things that had been wrong.
And I blamed him for all my insecurities, when something went wrong in my life, anything at all, I could trace it back to my childhood and to him.
And that’s really a very unfair thing to do to him and to myself. I ended up with no ownership of my own mistakes, never learning from the things that happened that went wrong because I just blamed.
How can you make life better when you are at the mercy of your upbringing and your thinking. You can’t. You stay stuck. That’s why you have to open yourself up to a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing things. And that’s what I did.
Because let’s be honest, my Father isn’t a monster. He’s a lot like many of that generation in Ireland, hardened by poverty and deprivation and lack of opportunities and the generational trauma of conflict, The Famine, and religious sectarianism.
I had narrowed my vision of my childhood so completely to only see what was wrong in it, I couldn’t see, feel. remember the happy, loving, funny, joyous times because that didn’t fit with the beliefs I had installed.
That’s the danger of believing what we think, because we’re so often wrong or misguided. I’m not saying my father wasn’t vicious with his words and his fists sometimes, absolutely he could and often was but he was doing the best he could and sometimes his best was actually great.
He didn’t smoke or drink or take drugs, and nowadays he’ll enjoy a good whiskey. He loved the countryside and would happily spend all day in the woods foraging, he especially loved picking hazelnuts and we’d all fill bags and bags of the treasure to take home. He loved the sun and loved being out in the open wearing nothing but a small pair of shorts to get tanned.
He loved to read and would spend hours reading his favourite Harold Robbins and western adventure novels.
He worked hard, he never missed a day at work and was always hustling. At weekends he’d be out cutting turf or cutting down trees or labouring. His work ethic was incredible.
There was a softness he didn’t let anyone else see but it came out when he was around his big dogs, so long as they were behaving.
One summer, we had a week’s holiday in a caravan park in Portrush and it rained every day and so we played board games and card games every day and while he didn’t play all the time, when he did, we had great craic because he had to win, he would cheat blatantly and obviously and laughed about it. Until he got beaten fair and square and then he’d retreat but we had fun as a family sometimes.
He worshipped his father and mother and was devastated at their loss. When his Dad died, he taped the funeral service and played it over and over again for months and occasionally years later. I’m sure that tape is probably still in his house and he knows exactly where it is.
He was good looking, he looked a lot like George Best, they could have been brothers, and he was vain about his looks, but he was good humoured about his vanity and would joke about being better looking than Rock Hudson, my Mum’s favourite film star.
I do believe he loved my Mum, even if I don’t think he was a good husband, I think he loved her in his own way and he was heartbroken when she died.
Just reading over that list, its obvious I got so many great things from him, my love of the countryside and nature which is so important to me. My love of animals and especially dogs. I’ve never smoked or taken drugs, I love the sun and I love to read.
I have that softness he never allowed anyone to see, but I wear it proudly, my empathy and compassion is a vital part of who I am and I use it to encourage people to open up and heal from their wounds.
The man I know today is not the fiery, quick to anger, quick to clench his fists and lash out man I remember from my childhood. He’s that and so much more, the need to control is still there but the softness is more evident too.
He would still like to control his family’s lives, after all he is always right, but I can now talk to him around these things rather than butting up against them. I have control over my life, I set boundaries and I enforce them so we can have a relationship without him trying to push me around.
I’ve allowed myself to see that my Father is not a monster. He wasn’t then either. He’s just a man who had a lot of flaws, and he didn’t know any better than to take his frustrations out on his children and wife.
My beliefs got in the way of my seeing my father as anything other than the man who destroyed my life for a very long time. Once I started clearing all the old negative emotions I’d been holding onto for dear life, I could see my past and him more clearly.
None of us are all bad, or all good. We’re all composed of both and depending on the circumstances and motivations we can change who we are and how we act on a daily basis.
I know we can all do better, I choose for myself to do better every day. I’ve learned that its possible and its the best thing we can do for ourselves. To let go of the past, of the hurt, the shame, the blame and move on.
Because holding on to the past keeps you stuck there. Let it go and come into your present.
And when you drop the old beliefs that have kept you stuck, the world will look new to you, full of possibilities you never before knew were open to you.
PS. If you’ve suffered with something all your life, if you’ve fought weight issues, depression, anxiety, addiction, or simply a feeling of general dissatisfaction with how your life is unfolding for you, and you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. It’s natural to feel that a solution is almost impossible.
That’s part of what keeps the problem in place.
But real lasting change is possible.
Think how it would feel achieving your goals with far less resistance, whether it’s dropping excess weight, gaining freedom from depression and anxiety, being a rockstar in your business or career, or excelling in your personal relationships. You can do it, you have no fears about staying stuck and not moving forward anymore.
See yourself fully present and grounded, living with total fulfillment and satisfaction with how life is unfolding for you, with no regrets, as you carve your own path forward, moving forward always forward, no looking back .
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