Epiphany on the highway
Epiphanies never seem to arrive in convenient places. My latest arrived at 10pm in my car on a drive back from Massachusetts. I hope it changes my life; and, I believe it will. Life change is often the result of a small change of view – a tiny shift in perception. Then “whammo” the world looks different, and dominoes are not automatically falling over each other the way they once did. Old broken places feel as though they might just heal. Slot A no longer painfully connects to Tab B. Life feels possible in a new way because of a little something that someone said –a wisp of overheard conversation – a remark in passing. Suddenly the scales fall from our eyes; and we feel that a part of our lives have been somehow adequately explained for the first time. And there is both joy and peace.
Let me stop talking in riddles and tell you the tale. I was listening to an interviewer speak with three doctors who had authored a book together. It is called The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers by Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins.
These men are all African American men from inner city Newark who had met in high school, become friends, and vowed to each other that they would succeed in life. They are all active in their community, and have written about their histories in two other books : The Pact (the adult version of their story) and We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success ( a version for grades 7-12).
They all had experienced “fatherlessness”. Their book, The Bond was written by them and by their fathers – a chapter each. Publisher’s weekly says “The book includes chapters written by the authors' absentee fathers, who, refreshingly, do not make excuses for their shortcomings but give insights into their failures-including their own lack of a father figure-and provide an understanding that humanizes them and enables their sons to forgive them.”
OK, I am about as far from these guys as one can get. I am a much older white woman from New England, Polish Catholic, blue collar roots. My dad was in the home.
But sometimes I wished that he were not. My relationship with my father, up to and beyond his death, has been both complex and difficult. I have memories of him that are wonderful and memories that are horrifying. I have struggled to understand the language of forgiveness, what it means to find the phrase that allows me to let go of the sense of loss, the memory of injury – the phrase that allows me to understand that abuse from him wasn’t about me. The phrase that allows me to no longer live from the wound. Healthy roots do not grow in woundedness.
So, over the years, I have done what anyone yearning for freedom from this would do – I have done both sensible and foolish things. Everything from prayer and therapy (sensible) to pasta and chocolate (foolish). But, through a lot of work spiritually and psychologically, I found myself free from most of what I call “the afterburn”..but not all.
But oh how I longed to be – to not have the endless recitative available on demand on endless brain-loop about the catalogue of injurious things that he did. I just couldn’t understand how the loving father and the abusive father could have lived in the same skin. My head got it. My heart did not.
OK…let’s cut from here to the front seat of my car this past Sunday, when the good doctors were being interviewed. I was interested on all sorts of levels, not the least of which was the fact that 3 young men were so openly tackling emotional issues (bravo!) but also that the issue of reconciliation with a father was the topic.
One man spoke of a particularly difficult father – and he said : “I finally realized that he had just lost his way.”
I pulled my car over to the side of the road. …..”he had just lost his way”? Could this explain my father, as well? Could it be that he had lost his way, too?
Oh Lord, that described it – my father was not 100% abusive, nor was he 100% loving – somewhere in his own history of having received bad fathering, he lost his way. In his heart I believe my father wanted to be a good man, was in fact a good man – which is why any abuse always seemed so impossible to understand. But that is what brokenness is – losing ones way – not walking the path that is known as right. Falling in the darkness of ones own soul. Losing the way.
There is no blame in that, no need to punish back in that – and no denial of the abuse in that. For some reason those words allow me the freedom of letting go of the part of my relationship with him where he had lost his way. Where he thought being cruel was being strong. Where he mistook force for authority. Where I was victim.
I hope this is helping at least one other person who is reading it. Epiphanal phrases are often very individual. If nothing else, check out the book. The Bond".! Read about The Three Doctors
The struggle to make sense of various parts of our lives is part of living conscious lives. The struggle for awareness, the yearning for freedom, the climb from abuse to wholeness – all are a part of the best moments of being human. What waits on the other side is joy.
Please share your epiphanal moments here – you never know – what gave you insight may well help another woman out here who is waiting to hear exactly what moved you to a deeper and healthier place. Was it a word? A phrase? A moment?
Some blogging epiphanies:
Click here for a writing epiphany from Cheryl’s Musings
Lara at Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom writes about her epiphany about taking risks
Kit Topazwrites here about having had a health epiphany related to allergens and diet.
In Parenting After Adoption, Rebecca tells us of an epiphany she experienced around her adoptive child’s fear of attending church
Carolyn, in i Becoming a Woman of Purpose, tells of her epiphany about life-coaching.