Prana Shakti, Partnership, Pregnancy, Parenthood, Preparation, Power and Pranams.

My personal Path of Practice:
Prana Shakti
(the creative & pulsating life force within me), Partnership (a love story of two people who consciously choose one another every day), Pregnancy (Grace in my belly revealing herself through this growing baby boy who lives in my womb), Parenthood (The highest calling of them all), Purification (of all self-defining labels accumulated along the way) Preparation (for a new life, a new calling and for the birthing of all this woman has yet to become, experience, learn and know), Power (to fully stand in mine as a wife, mother and creative woman) Pranams (daily gratitude and humble thanks for my beautiful life and blessings along the way).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Forgiveness, Love, Family & Thanksgiving


As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself feeling grateful for so many things in my life. In sharing personal stories of difficulty or pain turned triumph, my prayer is always one of intending to reach, inspire, encourage or empower someone reading these words. If putting myself out there making myself vulnerable to judgement or anything else means a payoff of someone's life taking a turn for the better, then it was worth it...every time. With that said, this is the miracle I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving.
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I've always loved my father. As a matter of fact, he holds the standard and is the model of what a man is and should be in my eyes. Single handedly, I love him more than anything else that exists in my world.

I always felt close to him and always knew that he loved me more than even his most obvious loving affections could ever express in words. 

When I was a little girl, I worried so much about my father being alone during the holidays.  Somewhere I drew my own conclusion that he was so in love with my mother and never recovered after she ended things because they were in two different places in life. Not only did I spend the first part of Thanksgiving and Christmas worrying about my father being lonely and away from his family, I always had to wait for him to call me because I was told he didn't have a home phone number. This was my way of being in relation to my father and it never stopped until Oct of 2000...or was it 2001? Anyhow...

I recall the phone call that my father would be flying into Austin for a short 24 hours to speak to my brother and I...something important. At the time, I was doing a lot of acting and had actually been working on set for a month or so right up to that very night when I drove from the movie set to a hotel near the airport where I was met by my dad, brother and my brother's wife. 

That moment for him was clearly stressful and upsetting and what would soon be revealed would leave me in shock for quite some time before I was able to really understand what I was about to be told.

So clearly I can see the look on his face while hearing his words "you can slap me if you want. I understand." in his shame-filled apology. Even in that moment I didn't understand. I didn't understand what I was being told, where it came from, why my dad was so sad and troubled and why he was genuinely looking at me asking me to give him what he felt he deserved. The mere thought of my father hurting like that hurts me even now.  

What actually happened (as oppose to the stories created around that truth) was this:
My father and his wife separated and there was an affair that resulted in two children. I am one of those children.

What I've spent the last several years trying to understand is how a man can love his children so much yet hide them, literally, and in such a verbally calculated way for over 36 years (I'm 33, my brother is 36). Only recently have I started to understand how shameful he must have felt considering the culture he grew up in and how my grandparents taught him yet this is a prime example of how much fear can govern our lives. Until a few weeks ago, my father had never seen his eldest son and his daughter together, ever. My father is 71. My "new" brother is 43. I am 33.

That's a long time to live in fear. Read on...

Over the course of my entire life, he was always present as much as any other set of "divorced" parents who lived in different cities/eventually different states could be. I didn't know what I didn't know. There was a step father who made an appearance and one who was there for the long haul and another who legally adopted me in a court of law after my mother was killed and I'm grateful for them all. My dad however, even though he wasn't there to make my breakfast, always made sure we knew we were loved. When he came to visit, he would stay with us at our home where he and my mother and step father all interacted peacefully and lovingly. I didn't know what I didn't know.

I didn't know, until years later, that my brother and I would be my father's greatest, life long secret ever.

And then he got caught. 

What I found out through a letter from the step mother that I never knew I had, who had been there all along even through my years of worrying about my father being alone, was that there were hints over the years and one day, she hired a private investigator and soon there after, she had proof that children were involved in the deception from decades before. 

There were two children involved, who he had hidden the existence of from his entire family including from the son he had previously before meeting my mother. My step mother made my father get on a plane and come clean with us and saw to it that he did the same with his other son, who I had never even met. In many ways, I'm sure the moment had to be a relief for him; getting caught that is...even years after the fact.

I always knew about Michael and as a matter of fact, I don't recall ever not knowing of him. My theory is that someone  must have slipped or maybe there was a photo or something I saw but it was sort of brushed off over the years until months after that short visit when I started asking questions. The woman who had loved and taken care of my father all along answered them and straightened out my confusion when she clearly stated that nobody ever even knew he had other children. 

I was a secret.

I was the object of deception.

There have been moments when I felt I was robbed of my entire Middle Eastern roots, heritage and family...and of my big brother. Furthermore, they were all robbed of knowing me and my love.

There's been a lot of internal peace made since this discovery. Strangely, while I had many questions and tears, I always forgave my father even though I never agreed or understood how it was ever even possible for him to hide such a thing. How terribly difficult it must have been to carefully compose his words and to not share what his other two kids were up to with the other people he loved. What might have filled one child's heart full of anger, filled mine with sorrow when I thought about how much he's felt he's had to hold in all of this time. As it turns out, my father had his first heart attack within a year of my birth...he was 38 or 39 when that happened. He's had a few heart attacks and a stroke and experience upper respiratory problems as well as diabetes he's had for years and his more recent fight with cancer. I find it both interesting and heartbreaking that he's held so much of his "heart stuff" in yet and it's the very part of him that seems broken. I don't find this to be coincidence.

In teaching yoga, I often talk about using the breath, the exhalation in particular, to release anything you have held onto; anything you have felt you weren't allowed to voice or express. I have no doubt the stress of holding  and hiding secrets in his heart affected and has compromised his heart. For one day in his life, my greatest wish for my father is to know what it feels like to be secret-free and to experience a full exhalation knowing how much he is loved...and forgiven. 

I met my brother Mike just a few weeks ago and it was beyond anything I could express with words. It's a moment that I wished for all of my life. I always carried him with me, he was always on my life goals list; "meet my brother, Mike" but I wasn't certain it was going to happen because it was never fully in my power to make it so. Now, he's a real living beating part of me and it made my entire year meeting him and beginning our relationship in my 30s. What's more is that he feels the same and we are all on the same page of starting TODAY; from this moment forward.

Since this recent visit, I've been gifted with knowing the possibility exists for my father to take yet another step in sharing me with those who are still alive in his family but more importantly, another step into his living freely. Too many secrets for far too long. Both my brother and beautiful step mother have sent me photos and emails expressing that never again will my photo be taken down when company comes over nor will there be an elaborate story made up of who the girl in the photo is. "You deserve to be known" they said. Should the day come that I ever meet any of my Iranian family I will consider that a blessing, but this is my father's journey now. He must find the strength and the courage. He must forgive himself and allow the love to circulate where it hadn't existed before.

He's still the most amazing man in my eyes. His love for me is so rich and after all this time and through all of growing pains into my adult years, he honors and knows where to meet me when my strong, bull-headed warrior side comes out as well as when my most tender and sensitive side, that's full of love to give, stands boldly.

I guess a daughter always loves and forgives her father. We all make mistakes but the thing is, we say we care about someone or something yet when the going gets tough, we fold our commitment, withdraw our love and turn out the light so to speak. Whatever it is within me that holds true when it's not always easy, I might owe to my mother. Where ever it comes from, I'm so grateful because it's allowed me to love my father through this entire journey and it will sustain that love if he ever finds the courage and comes clean in sharing our existance or not.

Every day gratitude.
Count your blessing.
Tell someone someone you care about how much they mean to you.
Be courageous.
Be loving.
Be forgiving.
Admit when you are wrong.
Give and accept apologies.
Be unafraid to take chances; unafraid to love.
Stand not for what's happened in the past but for what's possible today.

Love All Ways,
Sanieh

3 comments:

  1. so beautiful and encouraging, thank you for sharing your heart :)

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  2. In many ways I can relate to this. Thank you for your honesty Sanieh, I respect that very much.

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