Tuesday, 21 November 2017

J Journey from Addiction

Father Wounds…

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So many of the people I know, in recovery or broken or hurting, carry with them still what can be called Father Wounds. According to psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, the term “father wound” is not an officially recognized clinical term, it is used by many mental health professionals in identifying the origin of numerous emotional and behavioral conflicts in spouses, singles and children. These difficulties can be the result of failing to have a strong, loving and supportive relationship with a responsible father, or as a result of modeling after and then repeating significant weaknesses of the father such as selfishness, excessive anger, emotionally distant behaviors or indifference to the faith.

I am struggling with my own father wounds. My father is almost 80 yrs old and is in terrible health as I write this. I am visiting he and my mother at the assisted living community where they now live. I was on my way to take my oldest son to move into his dorm at college as he starts his freshman year, when I received notice that my dad wasn’t doing well. His blood pressure had dropped and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  His health has been on a slow decline for a number of years since he was originally diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy. He is also progressing further and further into a state of dementia where he occasionally knows who we are and where he is. The cycle has completed from receiving care from my parents to providing care for my parents. The emotional impact is more than I expected.

In my life prior to entering what I call recovery, I disassociated myself from my parents and especially from my emotions. I was able to stay somewhat engaged with them through surface interactions and limited relationships. Now, that I am in recovery, that is all very very different. Each day, I find myself overwhelmed with the intensity of my emotions. Whether a memory, a song, a word, an interaction…any can trigger an immediate onset of sorrow, pain, joy, concern.

So now I find myself back where I started, and the intimacy of the emotions are unlike anything I have ever known. The reminders of longing I had for my father and mother. The abandonment I felt when I was sent to my aunt and uncle’s house. The isolation and loneliness time alone in my room or whatever place I could find to spend in hiding. The shame of my early experiences with sex and how I knew I couldn’t reveal that to my parents for fear of complete exclusion.

Wounds that haven’t healed. They are so immediate and apparent now. And in my recovery I have come to realize that I have been holding on to anger and judgment for my parents. How I was waiting for them to save me and it never happened. The realization that they are broken, too. Their stories are different than mine and just as painful if not more so. I am awakening to the Father as the only one who can heal these wounds…ones that I don’t have to pass forward. I pray that I can end those here and experience restoration with my father. He’s a man, like me. One who did his best and did his worst. I am thankful for what I can hold onto from him. The depth of his kindness for all people no matter their story, his faith in God despite his own personal and physical struggles, his unswerving love and support for my mother even when he didn’t agree with her behavior.

I love my dad. I will miss him. I am thankful for what I have that came from him and for what I can hold onto from him.

Columnist: Keith Baker

KL Baker is a Christ-follower, husband, father, writer, sponsor, and corporate flunky living with his wife and two boys in a suburb of Houston, TX. Writing is an important part of his recovery from addiction as is counseling, accountability, sponsoring, and working the 12 steps. He is working on a new blog and a new book tentatively titled "Lazarus People."

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