[My original catchy title for this essay: "Mothers from Hell, Fathers from Hell, & One Almost Effortless Weight Loss Tip." - too long, so I've had to shorten it!]
Like so many of us on the planet, I had a “father from Hell.” I’ve spent more than a little time in my life thinking about how rotten he was and how much damage he did to me, my mother, my brothers and sister and then also, Heaven help us all, to his second and third wives, step-children, and my half-sister.
Fortunately, a few years ago, I managed to put together in written form an item in which I enumerated the gifts my father had (inadvertently) given me. It was surprisingly long, and I have to say that thinking it up and writing about it was an exercise that helped give me a slightly different take on the nature of parents and parenthood. Hmm. And personhood, I suppose you might say…
I suppose to be fully truthful here, I must also add that the gutwrenching experience of going through a divorce has helped me to … soften up … and be readier for some of these amazing and powerful “letting go” abilities I seem to have picked up in middle age. Then too, while getting counselling around the time of the marriage break-up, I learned some things about my father that helped me grasp that there were reasons why he was the way he was. He had not come out of nowhere… None of us do, hmmm?
For the past year or so, one of the recurring themes in my life has been mothers from Hell. There appear to be quite a few of them.
Now, I do a lot of reading (really a lot!), and plenty of writing too (these are among the “gifts” from my father, who loved to read and always had plenty of good books around).
I also take full advantage of self-help, personal growth experiences such as the Landmark Forum and the Art of Living courses – both of which I highly endorse and am convinced pretty much everyone I know could derive considerable benefit from (the former with one or two qualifications; I’ve written about the Landmark Forum, so you can read about my experiences with it).
One of the gems from the Art of Living courses was this:
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is a choice.” (1)
Chew on that one for a moment, Gentle Reader…
Our parents (and/or our spouses and/or our employers, in some cases) have the potential to mess us up quite a bit.
It’s up to us (as adults) – to stop the abuse – which in so many cases is really mental self-abuse…
We re-play and re-play endlessly our nasty childhood tapes/memories and/or more current negative “scripts” – wallowing in self-pity and self-flagellation, and revelling in our own victim-hood.
Ugh. Whatever turns us on, hmmm??
Wonderfully wise, witty and inspiring writer Anne Lamott had a character in one of her novels say, “Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” (2)
This is so brilliant. It is so true!!
There are large and unprecedented developments taking place on Planet Earth these days (only a slight understatement, hmm?).
Our helping (and healing) energies and efforts are sorely needed.
Get thee to a bookstore (or library) and start reading Eckhart Tolle, would you? The Power of Now – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment and A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – will blow you right away.(3) In the best possible ways…
I mean it.
Change begins where YOU are.(4)I mean that too.
Enough for now…
Yikes! I almost forgot the almost-effortless weight loss tip!! Here it is:
Start being honest and forthright with someone (or even better, everyone!). Start talking. Start telling the truth. Women have long known that conversation with a woman friend can mean the difference between craziness and sanity – between drowning and being brought safely back onto shore.
Men need to learn this too.
Talk – talk – talk. Tell some truths.(5)
And come away feeling 10 pounds lighter.
I mean it…
P.S. I do highly recommend the book Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn (New Society Publishers, 2007) for all men, women, mature children interested in understanding patriarchy and its long and nasty legacy, and any other creatures capable of reading books (have I left anyone out??). I think it is a very, very important book for all of us to read….
(1) There is an essay with that title on this blog, too.
(2) Crooked Little Heart, Anne Lamott, Anchor, 1998.
(3) Whatever your religious faith – or utter lack thereof… A New Earth is the more recent book of the two, and perhaps the better to start with…
(4) Also emphasized in one of the Art of Living courses…
(5) Do be a wee bit discriminating about those to whom you spill your guts; not every single person on the planet is equally well-intentioned. Tons of us can be trusted! Just not every single darn one… Your own guts will give you good guidance…