(Song Dedication: Here I Go Again by Whitesnake)
I have decided to return to Wales for my Biological Father’s Memorial Service.
The initial decision about whether it was even a decision to be made was the difficult part. Once the dialogue began between my husband and I whether I should attend or not it became clear; boiling down to how will I feel if I don’t go rather than if I do go.
The rest has all been stuff, a checklist of must-do’s and to-do’s and prioritizing what is within my realm of capability and what needs to be set aside for a later time when I have more space to breathe.
The last trip I booked for the UK, I had the luxury of revelling in months of slow planning. One weekend we would plan accommodation for London, the next train and car transportation, the following weekend where to stay in the Welsh countryside. I loved most of that planning and enjoyed crafting a trip that our family would never forget. This time, this trip is being planned for only one traveller. I will return on my own.
This time around I had some context to build from and luckily so was able to apply my small familiarity with Central London and the comings and goings of train travel to access the Welsh/English boarder that I had no idea I would be returning to so soon. My memories are still so fresh from our April long weekend in Presteigne where I was reunited with my Father for the first time in 17 years. I was blindsided by how quickly his health slipped and his life slipped away from this world only 2 months after we physically said our good-byes. Our son, saddened by the sudden loss of his Grandad exclaimed in disbelief, “But I only saw him once?!” And I could fully appreciate where this sentiment and feeling of unfairness was coming from.
I realized in my work over the past two years that in order to have my life just as it is right now – to each finite detail – there had to be absences. What I mean is, had my father not struggled with his own childhood trauma that lead to addiction, I would not have been put on this particular path where my Mom remarried a man who wanted to adopt me as his own daughter. How that family welcomed me with open arms, loving me as their own. I would then not have moved to Quesnel. I would not have met the friends who have shaped me, the teachers and coaches who motivated me and believed in me, or my husband who by his own turns and twists of life also crossed my path in Quesnel. This place I grew up, left to find myself and ultimately returned to making it a home of our own for our family. I realize my childhood was far from perfect, but it was in my hometown that I found the support I needed to heal; when I was finally ready to drop my armour and take a good look at the wounds I had been secretly hiding from most of the world.
I wouldn’t trade any of it for I see how even one of those traumas, challenges or fuckups has lead me closer to who I am meant to be in this world. For them I am as grateful as I am for the joys, the abundance and peace I also have in my life.
In short, to accept all this good I must endure the bad as equally and to the varying degrees that it occurs. There is no light without the dark.
As I fumblefuck my way through his concept in this given life I more often than not seem to bobble and mishandle, but as I get older my recovery is faster and there are moments of sweet grace where I find my poise and I stand tall and strong in knowing who I am and what my values are. Responding rather than reacting.
This past two weeks has had its fair share of bumbles as I feel inundated by hurdles. I clear one only to feel my footing barely recover in time to make the next one, perhaps knicking it with a knee or full blown running straight through, knocking it down completely. I was never any good at actual hurdles. Not my event, I was more of a jump into sand type gal.
I own this about me and forgive myself for it. Some things I just can’t do.
I’ve recently been faced with some very trying personal interactions in my life on top of losing our dog of 12 years and my Father passing 5 days later and then planning my return and psychologically preparing myself for his funeral. When I spoke with my therapist yesterday I said how shit the timing was for difficult conversations and she flipped that woe-is-me inclination on its ear. She offered an alternative perspective countering with, “No! This is perfect timing to be dealing with all of this! It is perfect!” I looked at her a bit sideways and let her explain. She encouraged me to see that when someone is in a place of loss and grief you resonate on a different frequency. That I could agree with. She went on to suggest that the people who also have similar values and context will resonate there with you too. I also agreed. The people who are not on that frequency right now will have difficulty communicating with you. It is up to you what you will do (or not do) about it – perhaps simply accepting that it is of no fault of my own or their own that this is where we are in our respective headspace is enough to summon the acceptance needed to move through this otherwise hard time with a little less resistance. I pondered that for a moment to wrap my brain around what she was saying.
She saw the lingering bewilderment as the cogs slowly turned in my brain. I admitted that I had lost myself in some of these trying interactions and was disappointed in my own setback. She smiled warmly and reminded me what we have been working on as an underlying thread this whole time…for over a year…You don’t owe anyone anything. You, just you, are enough.
Then something clicked. At first it was relief because when you think you do owe people parts of yourself you get bogged down in shoulds, guilt and anxiety. That was old me. When I released myself from others expectations of me, I was lighter, better aligned, grace, peace, calm and presence surrounding me like a white light. I wasn’t going back for my Father’s funeral because I owed it to him or anyone else. I was going for me. I didn’t stick out a trying marriage for over a decade because I owed it to my husband, I stuck it out for me and we prevailed because my efforts (and his) were coming from a deeper place of knowing. It was actually when we were going through the motions of doing this or that, intellectually keeping score, that our marriage suffered.
I became cognizant of what she was gently coaxing me toward as I slowly stepped each leg over my own self-imposed hurdle. I don’t owe anyone. And they too do not owe me. There’s little to fight about when you let that idea resonate. This is not meant to sound hopeless like Metallica Nothing Else Matters. This is meant to diffuse the ideals that we place upon our selves and others and know that when we do something for another person it needs to come from a place of generous light and peace, not from a blackhole of expectation (and we all know what blackholes do…they are never meant to be filled).
I have found my peace and released the anger and resentment that followed the dialogue I chose to engage in. I own my shit. I know there cannot be light without dark. There cannot be alignment without misalignment. There cannot be give without take. But it is what I choose to give and take that is my choice. I choose acceptance. I choose love. I choose peace. I choose to forgive myself in all my imperfection. And the gorgeous thing about this is the people who will choose to get in that ring with you when the bell sounds for another round. They will be the ones who simply have your back without secretly wondering whether you will have theirs.
And although I will be travelling to the UK for a week all on my own, I know deep down that is only a physical aspect. I am far from alone, with the encouragement and lift of others who believe in me and know I will be okay. No, I will be better than okay. I am going back for my Father’s funeral but that’s only part of the picture. I will travel by plane and train, I will sleep alone, I will find space in my own being while immersed in the bustle of London, I will stand proud at my Father’s service and thank those who were close to him and cared for him so I didn’t have to worry, I will travel to Northern England with my uncle to scatter his ashes along with his Mother’s at his Father’s childhood home and then I will return to my family after a week of only dealing with me and myself, eternally grateful for their support. Their unconditional support. And I will be better for it because they will too.
I suppose that might be the one payback we may see someday when we invest our time and energy into a relationship. The growth in another which is ultimately the growth in ourselves. So maybe this wasn’t about owing nothing, maybe in the end this was all about seeing how full circle our actions and choices are for ourselves and others.