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.
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.
That's a long time to live in fear. Read on...
I didn't know, until years later, that my brother and I would be my father's greatest, life long secret ever.
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.
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,