When that beer spilled, my world opened. His reaction called me to release myself from bondage by standing up for my son the way I wished my mother had done for me. And really, this scenario is all too familiar. No wonder it elicited such a strong response from me.
My kids have spent a lot of time at my parents’ house because my kids would go over there a few days a week whenever I had to work and they weren’t at their dad’s. This past year I was informed by my daughter that my father yells at her and throws a hissy fit whenever she spills something (which is fairly often there and more so than at home. This I find interesting). He will beg to know “how old she is”, questioning her capacities and making her feel stupid for doing something that wasn’t necessarily her fault. There is, afterall, a thing called gravity that sometimes comes into play. There is the fact that she’s a fucking human being who runs into things, spills and breaks things, makes mistakes. And it made me angry and sad for her the way I was angry and sad for me growing up. Because there was never an apology on his part. There was never an acknowledgement that he overreacted and in the process hurt people’s feelings. As a parent, it’s very easy to lose your temper. I know I certainly do. I forget to put things into perspective. But then I try as much as possible to own up to it, reassuring my kids how much I love them and that I’m simply doing my very best just like I know they are, too. And my mom… she never spoke up for us. She never spoke up for herself. She allowed a man who otherwise wished to have no part in his children’s lives tear us down for essentially doing nothing wrong. She allowed him to deny her of all she does to make up for what he doesn’t do, playing both mom and dad, by overriding her sense of calm compassion with his raging tyrants.
So isn’t it ironic that I have watched the same story play out right before my eyes now, in my adult life, where roles have merely been shifted or reversed? Have you ever found this to be true in your own life and noted the parallels?
It really is amazing how we continue to place ourselves in the same roles and situations time and time again in order to be some place in which we are comfortable–we don’t want to be UNcomfortable! Because it reminds us of all we don’t know. We’d rather pretend to know. And so we are doomed to wander this world without ever fully being a part of it; without ever really grasping our place in it and our potential to love and to forgive. Rather than wave our white flag and admit that we are unsure of ourselves, that there may be a chance our way of thinking and responding to situations is problematic, we choose instead to believe we have been wronged. We choose to place the problem outside of ourselves. We choose to reject the other person’s humanity and thus our own. Our perceptions exist merely as one way of looking at things, not the only way. We must open ourselves up to this certainty or face disappointment after disappointment, failed relationship after failed relationship.
If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, no wonder I’ve felt so out of my mind in my relationships. But if I am to stop these patterns from continuing, if I am to ever adopt a more progressive way of solving problems, then it is absolutely necessary that I step back, as I have done, to examine myself more closely and to ask myself these questions: What qualities in a person am I traditionally drawn to and Why? On the surface it may look one way, but What are they really there to show me?
And so I wave my white flag which is tarnished and tattered and heed to the wisdom found in a fortune cookie, “There is no mistake so great as that of being always right”. My father can’t stand to be wrong. And it seems pride and arrogance are qualities I’m attracted to. Big egos. No wonder. But yet I resist. I resist because I am on the higher path. A mountain is made of many winding roads. And this is just one of them.