All Over the Map

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Maybe it is the hydromorphine pills that I have been taking this week for a neck injury but my mind is all over the map. I feel like a person who is sitting in the passenger seat of a car, having a conversation, and then gets distracted by something that passes by. In our household, we yell, ‘Squirrel’, when that happens.

I originally wanted to write an article about fathers, since Father’s Day has arrived, but I realized that I didn’t write an article about Mother’s Day and I didn’t want to be unfair. By the way, I love you Mom!

There was also a nagging feeling that writing about fathers could bring up pain for some people. Maybe their father has died, or they didn’t know their father, or their father was predominantly absent in their lives or their father was there, but not so easy to be around.

In the world of psychology, a discussion about fathers could dredge up some pretty significant unresolved childhood trauma that can be triggered on such an occasion. Fathers come in all sizes, temperaments, kinds and characters. If you had a remarkable, amazing, present and wonderful father, that is a blessing and we should be very grateful.

For those whose experience with their fathers wasn’t so great, I thought maybe I could write about how I am a firm believer in nurture versus nature. Yes, we are born with certain traits, characteristics and tendencies that formulate who we are, but the nurture theory has more to do with our environment and our experiences, which I feel has more of an impact on our childhoods. That means there is hope that positive change is possible.

I was just watching a show yesterday where a teenager felt that their parent did not love them because the parent was always away on trips. It turns out that the parent was receiving treatment in the hospital for cancer and they were trying to protect their child from knowing.

We form a story about our relationship with our parent that grows with each passing day. Sometimes the story is not really the reality. The reality is usually that the parent deeply loves the child but the parent is dealing with their own unresolved issues that is hindering their ability to parent effectively.

If I was writing an article about fathers, I might say, to any of the Dads who are not on speaking terms with his children, that there is a powerful link between the happiness of a child and the love of their father. When a child does not receive acknowledgement, acceptance, compassion or caring from their father that the child may grow up to have resentment, inability to trust, unresolved anger or sadness without even realizing that it is coming from the broken relationship between themselves and their father.

Am I ever glad that I decided not to write about fathers because I would have to get into the discussion about how sometimes fathers have been driven away from their children, via divorce, separation or broken relationships and that the father may have made several unsuccessful attempts to connect with their child. I would say not to lose hope.

Even as grown adults, children may have become estranged from their fathers. Although the father may have reached out, to make peace, they may have been rejected, over and over again, and eventually gave up trying.

There is a powerful bond that exists between a father and his child that will always exist, even when those on both sides have decided to end the relationship. The problem, though, is that can leave a hole, the size of a crater, in the heart of everyone involved.

If I could have one wish on this day, I would wish that even one father could reach out to his child or one child could reach out to his or her father to simply say, ‘I love you’ or ‘I am sorry’. Fathers sometimes feel that they have to work so hard to provide nice things for his children when all the child really needs is time and attention.

I love the quote, that I believe was first uttered by Dale Carnegie, to imagine that everyone has an invisible sign around their neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’. That is what I feel almost every human being needs.

Adults are only children in bigger bodies. Unresolved issues from childhood can have a detrimental effect on the present and future of that child. It can impact their relationships, their ability to parent, their ability to love and their ability to form healthy, lasting connections with others.

If you are a father who has lost touch with your son or daughter, physically or emotionally, I hope you have the strength to take that step to reach out – again. The results of your actions may or may not end well; however, didn’t it already end badly? What do you have to lose?

If you are a son or daughter who has lost touch with your father, physically or emotionally, maybe today can be the day that you reach out or forgive. It doesn’t guarantee that you will get the results you want, but it will mean that you at least tried to mend what has been eating away at you and that you have taken action. People can change and hearts can soften, over time.

If I was going to write about fathers I would say to never give up on believing that you can heal your relationship with your child. Since you are the one who is older and hopefully wiser, I would say, keep trying… You are so important in the life of your child.

For anyone who has lost their father or grandfather I hope you allow yourself a moment to grieve the loss and then do something meaningful to remember them. You can still send messages out into the universe, like releasing one of those floating lanterns. They would likely hug you and tell you how they are so proud of you, if they were still here…

I hope you can all enjoy this day and find the good in it – somewhere. There are always blessings in our lives, if we look hard enough. What are your blessings?

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there, including my Dad. I love you Dad!

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me.’ ~ Jim Valvano

Disclaimer. This article in no way replaces the advice, treatment or care from therapists or mental health care professionals and is intended for entertainment and enlightenment purposes only. Please feel free to ignore every word of this weekly, Sunday column, or perhaps use it in some small way to improve the quality of your life. Thank you for reading and have a great day!