Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who's to blame?

Years back, when my addictions were just starting to ramp up, I had gone to see a councillor over my feelings of depression. He went into my childhood and then suggested that I confront my father over the issue's of emotional abuse. I mustered up the courage to do so and spoke to my fathers over my perceptions of injustice and unfairness that seemed to fill my life. I'm not sure what his thoughts were but his response was that he had done the best he could and so be it. He did not apologize for the past nor take responsibility for my current problems. In the next session with the councillor, we decided that my father would never get it and that I didn't need to have a relationship with him.

Working the twelve steps, I discovered that I am the only one that is responsible for my problems. That I would not be able to blame anyone for who I was or how I behaved. All that stuff rested squarely on my shoulders. So I accepted that responsibility, did a ninth step with my father, speaking of how I had spent a lot of years blaming him for who I was and would no longer do that. I shared a bit of my story, of where my drinking got me and how AA had changed my life. When I was done, he looked at me and said, "I don't know what the big deal is, years back I quit smoking so you can quit drinking. It's simple. Just stop." So I decided, again, that my father would never get it and that I didn't need to have a relationship with him.

I still needed help to fully release all the anger and resentments I carried in my relationship with my father. After bing able to do so, those resentments were replaced with something akin ambivalence. I was able to move past all those memories and again tell myself I would never have a relationship with my Dad that went beyond Christmas and birthdays.

Thomas Moore, in his book "SoulMates" wrote the following paragraph:

Questions about evil and suffering are the most profound mysteries we can tackle, but blaming our struggling human parents for these utterly deep mysteries distracts us from our own responsibilities. The result is that we lay a huge burden on our parents and other relatives, one thy cannot bear successfully, and we also avoid facing the mysteries of evil and suffering in our own lives, and as our own individual, life-shaping challenges. James Hillman has made the interesting observation that by divinizing our parents, we dehumanize them. Or, to put it another way, when we idealize the family, we also demonize it. When we resolve our own questions of absolute meaning by reducing them to family dynamics, ultimately blaming our parents for life's difficulties, we dehumanize our parents and oversimplify the challenge of our own existence.

The advice given to me, from the chapter in the big book titled "The Family Afterwards" is:

Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle.

My father owes me nothing. Nor do I owe him anything. That is a beginning.

Photo Credit: Unitopia


An Irish Friend of Bill said...


U2 - Dirty Day - ZooTv Sydney

great song about father-son dynamics

Lou said...

Hank, so glad you are back! You're reasoned and introspective writing always holds my attention.

Strangely, this topic was something I found myself emailing another blogger about (her history of sexual abuse from her father). I wondered why her therapist had not recommended she confront him. Seems that in some situations there is nothing to be gained. Like they's complicated.
I do feel that once the effort has been made, we don't "owe" any more.

Sorry to hear about the job loss..hopefully it is one of those events that will be for the best in the long term.