I shouldn't care and normally don't think about them.
Of course you should care, somewhere. This is your life, this is your story, this is your father.
That is your sister, or your own brother...and there, right there, are all the wonderful things that might have been, the honor and cherishing and strength for each of you that never happened, and the terrible things that did happen, instead.
Parts of your story are ugly, like so much of my story is ugly.
But there is something that happens to us when we face that part down. It has something to do with honoring ourselves and with honoring what is. It has to do with seeing and believing. What happens to us matters. We don't have to make it all right, we don't have to blame or punish ourselves when it is ugly.
Whether we are hurt or blessed by our stories, whether we are hated or cherished or ridiculed, this is our story, the good parts and the bad parts too.
It matters that you find what is most sacred for you and your family during the time when you lose your father.
That is the story, those are the values, that will travel the generations.
Our siblings are our witnesses, just as we are theirs.
But we are all engaged in a kind of deception, defining ourselves and one another through the roles each of us was required to fill so that our families could achieve some kind of balance around the core issues of the dysfunctional parent.
It's like we're zooming at top speed through a place where nothing is clear. There are no road signs. Nothing is dependable. Everything changes, instantaneously. The rules are different from one day to the next, from one minute to the next, everything revolving around the needs of the dysfunctional parent, and it's crazy making. So, we wander around, knowing there is meaning here, but unable to recognize or lay claim to or take comfort from it.
There is no reliable way to judge the meaning or the value of anything. There is no concept of sacred.
There is no concept of self.
Everything revolves around the needs of the dysfunctional parent.
That's the nature of the place where we grew up, just little kids.
Just little kids.
But that is okay.
We survived that, and we can do this.
Setting the intention to honor the relationship with the parent or the sibling, and all that it taught you (or me) is a good place to begin. Honoring what it meant, good or seemingly bad, to have that person in your life in that role opens the scars and shamed places so we can see the truth in them and heal them.
Honoring the times they handled it well, and honoring our surviving the times they did not handle it well ~ or we did not ~ we need to make those parts of our stories our own.
No one can hurt or shame or weaken us with true things we already know. It is only where we are not sure, where we have protected ourselves from knowing what really happened ~ those are our areas of vulnerability.
We need to have nothing to hide, nothing to protect.
That's a biggie. I had lots of work to do around that one. Way down deep where we are afraid to see true things, the message seemed to be that I had lived against my mother's wishes. That was the message I took, the thing I taught myself. That I had been judged against, that somehow I had lived anyway, that I had to make amends.
That I was not legitimately here.
How sad, and how enraging.
And how pitiably, stupidly wasteful, that such things happen. But they do happen, and they happened, to us. Our job is to face down the wrongnesses. Life is a precious thing. We are so blessed, to be here.
We are here on purpose.
Our dysfunctional parent was wrong.
Once we can see and know that?
Challenging and changing who our abusers taught us we were takes bravery and courage and a belief in the rightness and triumph of the white. In dysfunctional families, we are all one another's abusers, because each of us reinforces the reality taught by the dysfunctional parent. Accepting that takes a different kind of courage, a deeper level of understanding and forgiveness of self.
That is where I am, now.
In the beginning levels of that.
It is so horribly sad, and so wasteful and stupid, to need to go through all this. But at the end, there will be love and the power of love, I just know it.
Over time, I think we begin to really get it: There was nothing personal, nothing sacred or real or right about those namings we were named by our dysfunctional parent. There is no reason to believe now, in what passed for values or truths in the hatred-fueled family system the dysfunctional parent required.
There is such freedom in knowing that.
We see the wrongness. We see just how wrong, just how ugly, our story is.
It's like winning the jackpot, to understand this in our bones.
Anger blinds us.
Fear blinds us.
It is better to confront what is under there, protecting us from some hurt we thought was forgotten.
We learn how invested we are in believing what we thought was true. It is a scary thing to go into the world without a map.
But here we are, flying.
So...sincere honoring is something that happens in the heart. Those things that facilitate honoring, I would do, when the time comes that you lose your father. Those things that make a parody of honoring either yourself or your father or the relationship between you, those things I would not do.
But only you can know what that will be, for you.
I have lost my father, already.
When I did, he came to me in a dream.
My husband's father came to him in a dream, when he died.
When I lose my mother, only I will know what feels right in that time. For today, all I can do is honor myself and my feelings to the degree that I am able to do that today, understanding that will change.
I am loving this part of healing.
When my father died, the time after devolved into a series of shocking and unforeseen things. Mask after mask fell away, each one uglier and less believable than the last, as my mother twisted what was left of us to mirror her viciousness.
I feel fortunate in so many ways. But ours is an ugly story.
There are no heroes, here.
I am working through it. I will know when I am through because when I am, I will see, not only myself, but each of my sibs, as the heroic figures they are.
It is all about the healing.
So, until that time comes for you and for your father, there is no way you can prepare. So many things will change.
You can only open to loving him now, which you are doing.
You are learning, I think I see you learning, to question the validity of the roles you were required to assume in your family of origin.
I think I see you battering away at the roles assigned to your father, and to your freedom to love and appreciate one another.
I think I see him hearing you, loving you, listening to you.
This is a good thing for us to do, because we come away from it cleansed of shame. We have already acknowledged our secrets and unsure places and so, there is no possibility that anyone else can trick us or shame us into accepting those roles again. When we are healed, the roles no longer echo for us and so, they lose their meaning.
That is what is happening with your sister now, I think.
She might even believe that what she was taught about you, that the black sheep role you took on, is real. Maybe, she is trying to unhook from her role, too. Or maybe, her role has worked so well for her that she cannot let it go.
To me, it seems that both of you are calling across a place so filled with echoes and reflections that you cannot see one another or yourselves clearly. That you are both engaged, that tells me there is an emotional investment, some heart to heart commitment there on both sides.
There are ten thousand ways for this to resolve.
I think you are doing really well. It is a scary thing, to go public to our families. When they say no, we wonder whether they are right about us. Then, having refused to accept their old judgments and conclusions about us, or about how things were, having risked their censure to clearly state our take on things, we discover they no longer have the authority to judge.
And then, it becomes pretty clear to us that whether they judge us or not, good or bad, never did have any bearing on what was real, at all.
And we remember that good and bad are judgment calls. And that how we judge a thing depends on how we see it.
Once again, we are bounced back into trying to ferret out what is real about anything we thought we knew.
I think this is very true.
Shame is a key for us, a marker along the path of self reclamation. Through it, through exploring its genesis as you are doing now
we learn where our interpretation of self has been dependent on someone else's interpretation of us. But here is the thing. Each of us is who she is depending on where she is and what she is doing and what she has been taught about her value or talent.
In reality, deep down where it matters, the self is a privately held, individual, uninterpretable thing that can flow any direction, like water.
We behave and believe as we have been taught to, and somehow, think that is us. That is just a collection of beliefs and behaviors, and all that stuff is changeable. If you were whisked away to another culture, you would eventually come to be more like them than like the you who exists here and now.
We see where we have given our power away. The power we gave away to fit in was the power of self definition.
And that is really the only power any of us has.
Where have we glorified ourselves with power that was not legitimate? Where have we come to hold ourselves in contempt? Tricking ourselves in either way means we lie to ourselves a little bit, and over time, the lie grows. We don't know what is true about ourselves, anymore.
Our locus of control is out there, not in here.
It seems to me that if we can try to see through the static, we can learn what it meant to us to grow up as we did. Then, we can reclaim our integrity of self. I think we can choose kindness and compassion, not just for ourselves, but for each family member.
It is not mandatory that we choose compassion.
I just think that once we own up to our hurts, and to the things we have done that shame us, then we can hold ourselves in compassion, because we did not set out to hurt anyone or ourselves but somehow, that is what happened.
Compassion for the other guy happens on its own.
Forgiveness and self reclamation turns out not to have been about them, after all. Just as the abuse was impersonal, so does forgiving it turn out to be impersonal.
For me, this is true so far.
Still, we need to be honest. We need to acknowledge where and by whom and for what reason we were hurt, and we need to do the same for where and how we have hurt our sibs, too. We need to understand what it cost us to take on those roles we took on, and what it cost them to have that role already filled.
We all did the best we could know.
Maybe, we all are still doing the best we could know.
What did that mean to us, how did that work, what happened to us that might have turned out differently had we been able to be sincerely grounded and present in our lives? Once we can see how we are put together, and why we needed to do that, I think we can see our way to sincere reclamation of self.
We reclaim our legitimacy, in that we reclaim portions of ourselves once given over for the sake of connection, for the sake of trying to fit in, for the sake of trying to make it all work, somehow.
I think we are doing really well with that.
I think it is scary to challenge those roles we took on. If we could go back to those times when we were just little girls (or little boys) thirty to fifty pound little kids with no clue about how the world worked, we would understand a little more about how we took on those roles we did, sacrificing something legitimate about ourselves to do so.
I am sure we all made the best choices we knew.
I believe you are working through something that will conclude with your reclaiming something sacred ~ the legitimacy, I mean the really sacred legitimacy and rightness and value and joy of your relationship to your father.
Legitimacy of self, then.
I am excited for you.
Unless we are a family who celebrate and strengthen one another, we are not required to share those things that are sacred to us with those whose intent will be to disparage us, to trap us somehow into those old games of scarcity thinking.
The territory of the heart and the integrity of the self ~ these things are sacred ground. We are learning this is true, I think. It is like an echo of the wonder of being here, of being alive.
I think about this where my mom is concerned. D H says that, however I decide to handle things at that time, I need to remember that I will be vulnerable to all the same roles. There are many ways for the old games to begin.
It will be as difficult to say no to those old roles as it was to learn the how and why of saying no to our addicted children.
I think that is what is happening to you, now.
And I think you will come through with flying colors because, important as our family members are to us, our feelings for them are pale shades of what we feel for our children.
And we are coming through that fire.
I think that these flames, this business of thinking our family of origin issues are bigger than they are ~ I think those flames are reflections, not real things at all.
I think that is true.
There was a time when I thought that healing meant there would be no emotion where family of origin were concerned. Then, I understood that to be "numb". Under the numb was true regret at the way I loved them, and the hurt of the loss of what we all might have been to and for one another.
That is where I am, mostly that is where I am, now. Then, I remembered I am not the one who insisted on the relationships we have with one another, now.
I forgot I have no power to change this for them, but only for myself.
That is all I know about my own situation, today.
We need to be wise, and we need to be wary in these times.
We need to honor and cherish and strive to be kind. What they do or how they see is none of our business, really. There are some times when I am so thankful for whatever little pieces of it that I can see.
How sad it all is, given all we might have been to one another.
Your sibs are separate issues from your father's relationship to you in his life, and it would be best to see them as separate from your father's relationship to you after his death.
Totally separate things.
I think he relates and he has tried to be kind to me. I doubt by the time he goes there will be any regrets or anything left to say
I am happy for you that this is so. Fathers define us to ourselves in a way no other person ~ not even a lover or a child ~ can. Over time, I have read the changes in your feelings toward your father, and have seen corresponding and healthy changes in how you seem to be defining yourself. Even in this post, you are clarifying what is real and determining how you will respond to the sacred finality of your father's death with sincerity.
That is such a big step.
I think maybe you are sifting through the old ways you once believed and that you are finding the holes in all of it.
Remember when we were posting about Leonard Cohen's Halleluiah?
About the cracks being how the light shines in.
I love it that you posted that your father has been kind to you, and that he has taken time to listen, and to hear you and that you have taken and given the time to hear and be heard
You are coming real, and real is good.
Your perspective is changing. You seem less afraid of the sister's power to name you. It seems to me that you are questioning her power over you and that you are beginning to see that, real as it felt, it was never real.
Her interpretation of you is her illusion. That you both feel a kind of fascination with one another means the story is not over.
That's what I say.
Know that we are right there with you in the spirit of things. I believe in you, and in me, too.
We get comfortable with the reality of the walls we've constructed to keep ourselves safe, never realizing we built them ourselves. One day, we get it that are not keeping ourselves safe, but imprisoning ourselves behind those walls we built. All we can do then, once we have seen the sham of the walls, is name them for the illusion they are.
Like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, right?
They never needed him, at all.
That seems true to me.
At one time or another, we realize we are free of something we did not know had imprisoned us.
I'm still figuring all this out too, but that is how it seems to me.
I learn so much about myself through posting to you.