is available online at http://www.WantToKnow.info/070924findinghealingwithfather "For my father and I, both expertly trained in the self-defense
of hiding our hearts to cover up our hurt, our current relationship is
somewhat of a miracle. We are both finding out together that love is
stronger than steel, and that the pain of the past can be put behind us.
For men in this culture to be more interested in being close than in
being right is indeed something to celebrate!"
-- From essay Finding My Father
is a moving story of powerful healing between son and father. This
inspiring essay shows how even the thickest walls between people can be
broken down when one person decides to make a sincere effort and take
responsibility for their part in the drama. A big thank you to my good
friend Scott for sharing this most beautiful transformation story. For
more empowering ideas on taking responsibility and shifting from the role
of victim to that of a creator, click here. May
your days be filled with meaningful connections and powerful
very best wishes,
Fred Burks for PEERS and the WantToKnow.info Team
interpreter for Presidents Bush and Clinton Finding My Father
work, Scott. Now it's time to find your father."
I participated in a retreat with my Mom in 1991, those were the last
words the facilitator spoke to me. Find my father? What did he mean by
that? Somehow I knew healing my relationship with Dad was vital, but how
to go about it was another story. At the time the gulf between us seemed
insurmountable, and I did not take the facilitator's words to heart. My
feelings of being criticized and rejected by Dad were my deepest
Before he was 30, my father fought in World War II, became a
doctor, and married my mother. Their first two children were girls, and
then I, the final one, plopped out. I can imagine my father's excitement
about having a son, someone to guide from boyhood to manhood, to continue
the family name, someone to be proud of, perhaps even someone to follow
in his footsteps. In my early years I was the apple of his eye, and he
was my knight in shining armor. We played sports and games, and often
went fishing together.
adolescence approached, however, it became abundantly clear that my feet
were hell bent on following another path—any path but his! In
school I was having behavioral problems. I was feeling all kinds of
difficult feelings about myself and my life, feelings that I needed help
sorting out and understanding. I expressed my inner angst by becoming a
class clown and rebel, defying any and all rules.
credit, I was very creative and original in my acting out. I also
displayed signs of brilliance in the subjects I was interested in. But
when report card time rolled around, I was filled with dread. Having my
parents read those things was a very traumatic experience for me.
Sometimes I was punished. I got more upset each time my parents'
disapproving magnifying glass was focused on my poor grades and
attention getting schemes. I responded by doing more things that would
bring me disapproval and punishment.
Eventually, I learned that I would be treated less harshly if I
punished myself, so my inner critic was born. My parents saw me being
hard on myself, and so eased up on me. Self-reproach is a great
protection plan, and being skilled in guilt and self-criticism was a
large part of the shadow side of our family tradition.
Dad had no idea how to deal with me. He grew silent and distant,
erecting a wall and pretending that he didn't care. That was even more
painful to me than my mother's voiced disapproval. I hated him for that,
and expressed my anger just as covertly, by also pretending that I didn't
want anything to do with him. We lived under the same roof, but we were a
thousand miles away from each other.
continued to have trouble with school until the time I chose to drop out
and pursue my interests in music and metaphysics. I became totally
focused on my spiritual growth, the quest for enlightenment, and
God—a fact that sent shivers through my father's mind. My father,
somewhat of an atheist, had given birth to a son who was thumbing his
nose at intellectual, practical concerns, and doing the "God" thing.
While I don't believe my spiritual searching was simply an expression of
my war with my father, he sure took it that way. There were many hard
feelings between us, feelings that hardened into cement as time went
much of my twenties, I went about my life without much of a relationship
with my dad. We had stopped trying to change each other, but the walls
remained, thick and cold between us. We had both written off the
relationship as incapable of improvement.
Things all began changing four years after that facilitator told
me it was time to deal with Dad. Finally taking the facilitator's advice,
I wrote my father the below letter, and he wrote one back. Two human
beings with a history of separateness began to cross old, outdated borders
and to get to know each other.
have been thinking a lot about you these days, and I want you to know my
thoughts. It seems to me that in my pain, confusion and my struggle to
define myself as someone separate from you, I rejected you entirely,
along with everything you stood for. Lately I've been seeing that in my
rebellion, I have set aside a part of myself that has not been allowed
to develop and that can make me a more whole person inside. I have come
to regret that rebellious side of my personality and I am setting out to
tried to teach me, by your example, how to be a disciplined, reliable
provider for oneself and for a family. You showed me how to live safely
in the world, with a sense of security and structure. You modeled
success in ways that I did my best not to emulate. And I am feeling very
sorry about that. It was as if I turned away from your most powerful way
of showing me that you loved me—the way you lived your life.
I can sense that my work in the world, my relationships with women and
my sense of self-esteem are all affected by this stance. I am working
diligently in my life to develop within myself the qualities you tried
to pass one to me. Ouch! It's hard for a thirty-two year old with Peter
Pan Syndrome to become an adult. But my life does depend on it.
you are a part of me, and it's time I stopped resisting that and started
accepting and working with the gifts you have given me. You have passed
on to me a legacy of character traits that are my missing link in my
development as a person.
love you, Dad. I don't want to wait until you are on your deathbed, or
until you are gone, to feel and to express that. You have given me so
much. I want you to know, as late as it may be, that I am beginning to
receive and to learn from you and your life. Growing up is a scary
thing, but I'm getting there!
Sending the letter felt like a huge, but necessary risk. How
would he respond to such a bearing of my soul? I waited for his reply,
nervously opening up the mail each day. Each time the phone rang, I
imagined it was him. What would he say to me? What would I say to him?
Would my letter make a difference, or would I end up regretting that I
ever reached out? Ten days after I sent my letter, I got his response. I
opened it up and started crying after the first sentence, right there in
the Postal Annex.
letter has touched me deeper than I can ever convey to you in words. I
cried like a baby during and after reading it. You have come a long way,
farther than you realize! Scott, don't berate yourself for rejecting me
and my values and my world. It was I who rejected you when you didn't
conform to what I wanted for you. Rejection is something you learned
from me! I blame myself. Don't forget, I was supposedly the adult, and
you were the child. I should have handled things wiser and more
Scott, listen to me very carefully. Let's not dwell on the past,
except if it can help us understand the present and prevent us from
making the same mistakes over again. As I said before, you have come a
long way, and I have reacted to your changes very positively. You say
growing up is scary and difficult. Please remember, I am still trying to
grow up! Let's help each other.
Scott, I love you very much. I always have! I hope any scars are
temporary and reversible.
read the letter again and again. Who was this wise, tender, approachable
man? Was this my father? I called him up. "Dad, I got your letter." "And
I, yours, Scott." We both fumbled for words, but couldn't find any.
Finally, my father said, "Scott, I'm all choked up right now. I can't
seem to talk." "I feel the same, Dad." Another clumsy, but heart-filled
silence. We both managed to say, "I love you", and then had to get off
the phone. The feelings were too rich for words, but a new beginning was
visited my family soon after that. My time with my father was sweet and
meaningful. I found myself genuinely interested in him, his past, his
dreams, his regrets. I asked him questions as if I we were just starting
out. We had some significant catching up to do.
speak on the phone often these days. It's not always easy to talk to
him. I question at times how much to reveal, and what to talk about.
Sometimes it flows, and sometimes it feels awkward. We are profoundly
different in our beliefs, our lifestyles and our frames of reference.
But we are two men relating to each other in the present, not burdened
by the past, expressing our caring and support. For my father and I,
both expertly trained in the self-defense of hiding our hearts to cover
up our hurt, our current relationship is somewhat of a miracle. We are
both finding out together that love is stronger than steel, and that the
pain of the past can be put behind us. For men in this culture to be more
interested in being close than in being right is indeed something to
celebrate! The holiest place on earth is where an ancient hatred has
become a present love
. -- A Course in Miracles Special
Scott Kalechstein is an accomplished musician and
healer. To take a look at his fun and inspiring website, click here.
See our collection
of inspirational resources at http://www.WantToKnow.info/inspirational
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