5 Things I Am Grateful My Father Taught Me

Self Improvement :: 5 Things I Am Grateful My Father Taught Me :: Fathers Day Post honoring Fathers :: Forgiveness :: Love :: Compassion for Self :: Returning Home to the Sacred Heart :: Path of Presence :: Evelyn Foreman :: PathofPresence (dot) com :: inspiration

Dad passed away on November 3rd, 2010.

He was never really in my life. He existed, but he was not a dad, nor did he behave like a father. I was raised by Mom as a single parent, and much of my relationship with my father is from his absence. 

During early childhood, he was around until I was 5 years old. When I was 5, Mom brought me, two sisters and grandma (JaPo) to America. A span of 9 years separated us, and I didn't see my father again until I was 14.

As a child, I never thought of myself as fatherless. Mom always seemed to weave in stories of him, and integrated him in conversations. In his absence, Mom raised me to "respect my elders" and "honor my parents." I obeyed and always lovingly held him close to heart.

Mom often reminded me of the fun I used to have with him as a toddler - wrestling on the living room floor and giggling til there were tears in our eyes. His favorite thing to do was tickle me behind the ears - he knew that made me laugh big.  I think this was the first and last memory I have ever had of being intimately playful with my father. Even though he was not present during that period, I held on to that precious memory of us.

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I was 14 when we reunited. He was not as I remembered him, nor was he as gentle as I thought. However, having him around was truly the most difficult and defining experience of my young life.  

My father was not well.  He drank - ALOT. He was a violent alcoholic and, in his altered state, would physically hurt my mother. 

For almost 2 years, we tried to live together as a family. It was not ideal and it didn’t work.  

I pretended at school that everything was normal. Only, my normal were sleepless nights listening to disturbing arguments that came through the wall. My normal was facing cops in the house as they were called on to break up domestic abuse.

The violence and suffering ended when my mom passed away in April 1990. I was 16 and made a self-preserving decision: I wanted nothing to do with the drama.  

In my determination, I focused solely on what mine was to do: school and getting my head on straight.  Opening my heart was not on my agenda, but life had a way of prying me open.  I am grateful for that.

The Healing Process

My healing began from that point and over the years, I have processed, grieved, forgiven, and worked through much of the dissonant energy of my childhood. Like acid, my tears washed my pain away, until I was bone dry.

Through many years of work in the grieving process, I have learned to look at my losses in the eye, and accept them as part of my life.

I cried for all the missing elements of a father daughter relationship that I missed out on.  What is mundane and routine in daily life that might be taken for granted, I never experienced.

  • My heart shattered into a million pieces at the loss of not ever having a bedtime story read to me by my dad, or even having my homework checked.
  • Not once was he able to attend a school performance in support of my interests. I never experienced him ever picking me up from school, or checking my temperature when I felt ill, or teaching me how to fish.
  • I never had anyone threaten a boy to treat me well (or else...!), or teach me how to change the tires, or tell me as a teenager that my skirt was way too short! 
Honring Dad and his memory - Childhood at 4 years old.  Fathers Day :: Path of Presence

These things I can only day dream about. I can brush it off as though I wasn’t missing out on anything, but truth is, fathers have an important role. 

My path and my life is that I just didn’t - I didn’t experience this sort of fathering in my upbringing. As much as I yearned for it, it just wasn’t.

Truth. Reality. Fact. 

Needless to say, I never got to dance with my father, neither while in school dance, nor at my wedding.

My children never had a relationship with their maternal grandfather, nor will I ever have the opportunity to create new mementoes to share and pass on to my children about my father.

Over the years, I learned to excavate what was really missing that normal people take for granted.  In doing so, I’ve accepted them as part of my past and my path, that makes me who I am today. 

Not everyone has the ideal or perfect parent. We do the best we can with what we’ve got.

My life experience of being fatherless, and motherless, are tragic stories. They are large, foundational, core issues that define a person’s personality.

True: These disadvantages need to be recognized in a category in its own, and protected, given special consideration:  like refugee or handicap.  

True: These difficulties are worthy of consideration because the adversity derails a persons dreams in life. Unfortunately, there is no valor or recognition for surviving domestic abuse and neglect.

True: Absentee father, domestic abuse and the dynamic of alcoholism in the family would seem to decimate anyone’s self-esteem and sense of direction. 

But I refused. The rebel within me refused to accept this. I fought back by being the opposite of what society expects of me.  

It is not what knocks me down but how I rise again that defines me.

My stubbornness to give in made me a survivor.  I thrived in spite of adversity, no honors needed. 

I am happy to walk away with my sanity and heart intact. 

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Some would value a large bank account, real estate, and other assets as accomplishment in life.

I value my accomplishment through the ability to live in the space in my heart, despite everything else.

My biggest goal was (and still is) to not allow hardships to jade me. Instead, I allow difficulties to teach me what I need to learn. 

Defining My Own Experiences

Rather than allowing adversity to define me, I have learned to shift my thinking from the corporeal to what the underlying plan and conspiracy is for my soul’s growth. Rather than staying down, I got up and lived my life.

The Souls Conspiracy

 Dad, Brother and me   ❤️ c. 1974

Dad, Brother and me  ❤️ c. 1974

I chose to believe that what happens to me is truly important and worthwhile. Admittedly, my life has meaning because I give it meaning.

Everything - absolutely everything that happened did so for a purpose. I am who I am today because of every decision and indecision, every step and non step I’ve taken. This I own.  

I choose to believe that what-so-ever happens to me is a gift to open to a greater awareness of living, and the life that breathes me!

As life happens TO me, and I live it unflinchingly, life unfolds and happens THROUGH me, AS me.

I believe that as I have control over nothing or no one but myself, my actions and my thoughts, I choose to positively believe that life truly happens FOR ME.  

This IS my soul’s conspiracy. Everything in my life happens FOR ME. 

What I deem as good, bad or indifferent, easy, difficult, in the flow or was a great challenge is irrelevant. It all happens and unfolds for my soul’s best and highest evolution.

What happens to me happens for me.  This is my soul’s conspiracy to see me reach my highest potential as a spiritual being in human form.

Choosing to believe this with 1000% faith and conviction grounds me in the firm foundation to living a positive life.

Honoring Dad

From my father, I learned valuable life lessons and I hold them dear to my heart.

In honor of Father’s Day, this post recognizes my father, father figures of all sorts, and (of course) the great Father within. Writing this allows me the privilege to look back, count my blessings and be grateful for all that has come to pass, all all that is now harmonious about my life.  

I can honestly say to my father, "I wish for you joy, peace and happiness. Thank you for teaching a whole lot about life in your own way." I lovingly hold him in the sacred space and safety of my heart and prayers.

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.
— Anne Sexton

My father and I were on a truly sacred path. His role in my life informed and influenced me to be who I am today. It was not an easy or harmonious path, for that matter. But, I’ve accepted it. Over the years, I have integrate what was to what is, bridging my past to my present.  In doing so, I am better for it and here is what I learned.

Five Things I Grateful My Father Taught Me

(1) Everything in Moderation

I have learned that balance is key to happiness. When I am off balance, I always need to come back to center. Anything done excessively or too quickly throws my equilibrium off and I become a crazy woman. 😊 (Can you relate?)

There was one thing my father did excessively, and that was his drinking. Alcoholism is a debilitating and terrible disease. It ruined his life and it tore his family apart. It altered his judgement and made him violent. Drinking problem aside, I don’t think he knew when the problem snuck up on him. That is the cunning reality of this disease: the vail is thin between having a great time in an altered state and living in escape. 

Turns out, balance is really important to me.  Seeing how topsy turvy, upside downy chaotic life can be for someone who has an excess of drinking and a scarcity of tools available to deal with it has caused me to polarize to the middle way in life. 

Everything in moderation is key to living a balanced life.  From food, to activities, to study of any sort, my sense of safety brings me back to homeostasis.  

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(2) Choose Wisely

My dear beloved late mom, bless her soul for her role on this path! When an alcoholic is present, the codependent in the relationship is also present.  The symbiosis of the addicted and the enabler made their marriage work for the entire duration of their relationship. 

Actually, their dynamic was quite dysfunctional, as you can imagine, like a cart going along with square wheels.  Somehow, they decided that was what they were in for.

It was a difficult and arduous journey indeed for them both. Their marriage was full of drama, violence, running for safety and there truly was never a dull moment. 

From the onset of a very early age, the parental dynamic and my own experiences has instilled in me the importance of choosing the right spouse.  I was adamant about not creating a situation where my children had to live without a loving and inspiring father figure.

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I wanted nothing to do with being a spouse to a partner who was absent in his own life.  And so, with the intention of finding Mr. Right, my journey of dating was one that was challenging and enlightening. I had to overcome many ingrained obstacles to manifest a spouse that would fit the bill of a loving husband, and inspiring father to my children. 

(3) What Love is Not

This point may seem facetious but it is not meant to be.  As my father was mostly absent in my life, I began to realize that even without seeing one another, we had a strong and powerful bond.  

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Being his daughter, I asked myself what I am to learn from my father?

Strictly from a behavioral standpoint, from my mom, I learned what Love is, in addition to sacrifice, commitment and devotion. From a behavioral stand point, I learned from my father what Love is not.  

It is a fine distinction. When you love someone, you don’t abandon them, you stay engaged; when you love someone, you seek help, and not give in to your inner demons; when you love someone, you must show your love.

Actions speak louder than words. If you do not know how to show this love, you must be willing to learn, and take appropriate action.

As a parent, if you are unwilling to take loving action, your relationship will be doomed from the consequences of in action.

My father is not the bad guy, he is not a demon. He was a by product of his system, and a result of his own processing to the environment in which he was grown. I choose to believe he did the best he could. Perhaps being absent was his way of protecting his little girl?

Albeit, Love speaks in many ways and languages.  For me, brutality and neglect is not an expression of love. It is important to define what Love is for oneself and to know your boundaries in any relationship.

(4) Improve: Work on Myself

Self improvement: this one I love. Whether real or perceived, the Type A within me relishes self improvement as I get a sense of control. 

 Life is unpredictable, messy and chaotic. Control is an illusion.  And the only thing I truly have control over is the willingness to work on myself.

I can do nothing for you but work on myself...you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!
— Ram Dass, Be Here Now

I firmly believe that as we all live through our own lens, we see things from our perspective (upbringing, learned behavior, culture, environment, etc).  This may or may not serve us well.

Emotional intelligence and self awareness come hand in hand and directly influences our perspective in all matters.  

Some people are born with a high sense of emotional intelligence; others, not so much.  Each and every person would benefit themselves and others in life if they would simply work be willing to work at improving themselves.  

Rather than worrying about what the other is doing, we’d make good simply by minding our side of the street.

BLIND SPOTS  We don’t know what we don’t know. Our emotional blind spots are just that - we cannot see them. These blind spots are obstacles we must overcome and compensate for.  Only problem is, our ego refuses to admit that we have any. 

When we think we know something, we truly believe that we are indubitably 100% correct. Truth is, unless we are mindfully humble, we don’t know that we have any blind spots.

Discovery of blind spots comes one of two ways: (1) someone tells us we have them or (2) life tells us we have them through a series of lessons.

Being open to our own awareness and accepting the possibility that there might be something larger at play than meets the eye can greatly alter our attachment to being right. 

As I work to improve myself, I am constantly deepening my awareness of possibility and compassion for others (and myself).

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(5) Love the Gifts Before You

Gosh, life itself is such a gift.  Anywhere on the path, even when I struggle, I become present and grateful once again when I stop to acknowledge the wonder of life.  

Many times, we may all get caught up in stuff: drama, situation, problem solving, making money, etc. As soon as I realize I may be caught up, I pause.  

Focusing on my breath, I allow new oxygen to infiltrate my being. Like a cleansing rain, I breath in life!!  Just thatbactuon alone reminds me to consciously, intentionally and energetically open my heart again to the great Love before me.  

I give thanks for my problems. In doing so, I become even more grateful because it means that I am alive - a willing participant in this game we all Life!

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Life affords us many gifts. Even though I may be reluctant to admit it when I am in it, challenges are a path to greater possibility. It is the opportunity afforded to me only because I am alive. 😊

Today, in honor of Father’s Day, I thank my father for teaching me much more than words can describe. I honor his Soul and his Spirit and I am so grateful for who he has been to me.

My relationship with him, exactly as it was, shapes who I am today. Because of this, I am blessed.

It is my opinion that one never truly becomes free (as a soul and as an adult) until he or she accepts and assimilates their life story.  

Parents and the parental dynamic is integral to our healing journey home to ourselves.  We must work out what is inharmonious and what didn’t work in our life to process, release and weave in what does works.

My experience of losing my faith (and myself) many times in the jungle of life has enabled me to find myself with great courage time and again.  Each time, I return home to my heart, stronger, and with greater conviction of the blessing that is life. 

RELATED: 7 Powerful Practices of Courage You Need To Master On The Journey Home To Yourself

When we breath in and allow, live and let live, and release others, we free ourselves to a life of possibility.

Happy Fathers Day to fathers and father figures everywhere!!  

Please Raise Awareness and Share The Love ❤️

My prayer is that this post provides value to you, to your sacred relationships and to your every day living.  Please share as you are called...

  • What do you remember most about your Dad?

  • What was his biggest contribution to your life?

  • What did you learn from him?

As you feel comfortable, please share about your paternal relationship.