Saturday, January 8, 2011

To the Adult Kids with "Daddy Issues"

Dateline, a news show on NBC had a powerful story on tonight about a man who dared to forgive the men who murdered his parents. Brooks Douglass was not only witness to his mother and father being shot to death but he was shot twice and his sister was shot and raped. Mr. Douglass and his sister had to go to court nine times over the course of two decades to get proper justice for their parents demise. One day Brooks was visiting a local penitentiary in Oklahoma and decided to ask to see his parents murderer. As convict and former victim talked suddenly Brooks forgave Glen Ake. Brooks father was a minister and preached of forgiveness. Finally he was able to forgive the man who changed his life forever. Eventually Mr. Douglass went on to make a film about his experiences titled Heaven's Rain.

Yesterday evening I spent hours searching for my father on the internet. I do this unexpectedly about once a year. Though I have his full name, birth date and social security number I have yet to find him. Dubious would be the best way to describe my attitude toward paying one of those family finder websites. At some point, when I'm really ready, the help that I need to find him will come. Truthfully I don't necessarily want to be reunited with him. It would just put my heart at ease to know if he's dead or alive.

My dad was what you'd call a bad man.He was haunted by addiction, mental illness and his own family of origin dysfunction. My dad could also sing, play instruments, play basketball and cook. There are only two good memories I have of spending time with him. The rest of the memories are haunting but no longer drive my own potential dysfunction. Now I just feel sad when he's on the forefront of my mind. I was once told years ago "you just want to feel sad" when I brought up my woundedness about my dad. Though that statement hurt, it was at the time correct. My own addiction was in full swing & I couldn't deal with the ghost of my dad in a healthy way.

After I got sober I dealt with this issue in therapy. A certain peace nudged its way into my sorrow, making me understand that in the end it was in my best interest my father was out of my life. For years my lamentations about him were brief. In the last year or so though I've thought of him. Not with sadness or even confusion. Just curiosity. Mainly I'm curious if he's alive and what ever happened to him. It would also be nice to know more about my relatives. I think I have an aunt named Barbara. Is she dead? What about family disease? Are there stories of our people that I could pass on to my own family? Where in Africa did we come from? How did we get our last name. Isn't it funny to have a last name and not even know why you have it?

My dad deserves forgiveness. I deserve to know what happened to him, even if he doesn't care what happened to me. I cannot ever trust this man, but I am at peace with his mistakes of the past. That doesn't mean I never feel pain. Real love is not all squishy happy fun time. Real love is feeling the wound to heal it, setting boundaries for safety. Okay so I never really had a dad. There will always be that missing piece, there is no getting around that. Like Brooks Douglass's remarkable story, I can let myself have the pain, even share the pain, but know that only in forgiveness will I be able to have a life, my life, the one my father and mother created with the Universe.

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