The Father/Daughter thing: Dad told me he loved me....
.... aged 79, after I had apologised for some of my judgemental and dismissive attitudes. His profession meant he was away throughout most of my childhood, leaving our mother to raise us. She had her own 'stuff'; abandonment featured heavily in her life, so no surprise that she (and he) picked someone who wasn't going to be around that much. All this is factual, not 'good' or 'bad'. It just was.
I spent most of my early adult life, dating a series of boy/men; both of us trying to get from the other what we had not received as children. Now, after a good deal of hard work, I am much more conscious of this pattern, and am in a relationship; with myself; however touchy feely that may sound.
THE ADDICTIVE DANCE
The father/daughter 'thing is THE most significant relationship (apart from the one with the mother) for a girl/woman. Patterns set in childhood are set to repeat in adult life. The distant absent father is likely to prompt the grown woman to pursue absent, non-committal men. She thinks she wants 'intimacy', but the reality is, she is frightened of it, as he is. The two embark on an addictive 'dance' which is, of course familiar, but often, deeply unsatisfying for both parties.
My dad and I are now close. After I apologised for some of my attitudes, and said I understood why he made the choices he made (his marriage to mum had its fair share of ups and downs – with both sides playing their part), and was able to share some of my own struggles, in his kitchen, with the uncontrollable Labrador looking on, his eyes filled with tears. Not overly demonstrative; he's a Yorkshireman, we managed a hug, and I remember his arms around me, and mine around him. We did not have to 'say' much; there was a healing and a reconciliation. I would describe it as a 'coming home'. I treasured, and treasure that moment now.
CHOICES RATHER THAN COMPULSIONS
Our choice of career/profession can also mirror our unresolved childhood struggles. Until we begin to face these often uncomfortable truths, then often, we are doomed to repeat our patterns over and over again. Once we start the reflective process, there may be no dramatic change in circumstances, as we are all complex and multi-layered, like a Bake Off cream slice. I am still freelance, and I ADORE my own space, but I am more conscious of what motivates me. I can now make real choices, rather than act compulsively because something unresolved needs to be healed. I attribute this to a good deal of therapy, which continues, and some god (whoever she is) given courage to sit with myself no matter what.
THE EXAMINED LIFE
I know not all of us lead examined lives. But despite the pain, and the deep discomfort, I am glad I chose 'the road less travelled'. The phrase was coined by M Scott Peck, and was the second self-reflective book I ever read. It's another truth, that many of us do not choose to examine our internal lives; but those that do, often because the pain gets too much, find that being 'conscious' can, on balance, be more of a blessing than a curse. The first, by the way, was 'Families and How to Survive them', by the late Dr. Robin Skynner and John Cleese. Both have been out for years, but are worth an Amazon buy.
PRECIOUS PATERNAL LOVE
I don't go to dad for more complex emotional support, I have others who can meet that need, but I know he loves me deeply, as I do him, and I am able to accept him as he is, and vice versa. It's taken a while, but I got the father/daughter relationship I have always craved. The knock on effect, is an ability to accept myself as I am and where I am. Very precious.