Every birthday, every holiday, every death anniversary (2, so far), any and every random day that a memory of my father enters my dreams or my conscious mind has sat differently for me. Sometimes the anger has taken a front seat, sometimes heartache, sometimes adoration. Much of where I happen to be pulled in that moment has depended on that day’s events and what associated memory it triggered.
For example, if it’s been a day where I’ve opened the door to a rich session with a client because I happened to offer the exact philosophical possibility that the client needed in that moment, then I may have waxed nostalgic about how my father taught me the value of developing one’s macro life lens through the sharing of his own highly abstract, Sagittarian musings with me, passed down to him by our scholarly, Jewish ancestors.
Or if it’s been a day where I’ve been in the throws of my paralyzing panic disorder, driven by early-childhood complex trauma, then I may have experienced anger for my father’s inability to have nurtured anything beyond my intellect.
Or if I happened to come upon one of my father’s favorite, quintessential, old pot-smoker songs on the radio — Like a Rolling Stone or Birdland — I may have shaken my head and smiled while my taste buds flashed back to my father’s favorite munchies-inspired, semi-pureed concoction of creamed chipped beef, over-easy eggs, toast, and cayenne pepper (because the gospel of Andrew Weil says black pepper is bad for your joints). Or his other favorite, more sensible hippie breakfast of wheat germ, granola, and applesauce.
Or if I happened to come across a TV commercial advertising a Hepatitis C drug, I may have relived my heartache over my father needlessly dying from a completely preventable cancer because his shame around being an addict hindered him from seeking care decades sooner.
But something has shifted for me in recent months as I have continued to do my deep trauma work. I am starting to feel an unfamiliar cohesion among all of my parts.
Today, I can say that I like, dislike, love, and hate my father. All of the above, all at the same time. To be able to hold all of these feelings simultaneously, makes this the most grounded, sanest, and internally peaceful Father’s Day for me to date.