By Guest Writer Ben Gear
Father’s Day is finally here but when it comes to my father I couldn’t care less. He doesn’t exist to me. For all the years he wasn’t there, situations he judged, support he withheld. He doesn’t exist to me. Six or so months into sobriety when he stood me up for coffee because he couldn’t fit me in before his flight at the very end of his week-long stay in town, so, he doesn’t exist to me. As if he hadn’t inflicted enough pain, he tried to convince one of my sisters to distance herself from me because I “have wasted my life partying with drugs and alcohol.” He doesn’t exist to me. Not only had he removed himself from my life but he was now trying to convince my sister to do likewise. What man does that? What father does that? He cannot exist to me.
Recently, he has reached out via phone call, text, email and on Facebook commenting on posts and via messenger. There’s enough going on in my life at this time that requires me to be mentally and emotionally present, so ignoring him has been effortless. But then, AA kicks in.
Harboring resentment is a dangerous place for an alcoholic because it darkens the view of my spiritual path and chips away at a structure I’ve been building: a new life. Declaring that my father doesn’t exist does not make it true, and turning my back on a situation does not make it go away, so I take his call. He sounds so chipper and I want to vomit through the phone but I agree to meet with him because, as the saying goes, through is the only way out. I have no clue how to navigate this interaction with tact.
I needed advice from someone with experience with an absentee father and the justifiable loath to go with it, so I called my daughter.
After many years of being an absent father, I am grateful to have a relationship with my daughter. I tell her about the plans with my father and ask, “Why and how were you able to let me back into your life after all those years?” With great wisdom she replied: “No offense but I have parents who are there and take care of me. I didn’t have to have any expectations from you being back in my life. I know you’re my dad and you love me, and I love you, but I have to let you love me your way so I don’t get disappointed or hurt.” Daughter knows best.
Without knowing it, my daughter is practicing Surrender by not attempting to force or deny any feelings towards me and just allowing me to love her in the way I know how. The result has allowed me to cultivate our relationship without apprehension or fear. Now we have one.
What she has done for me, as it pertains to my own father, is encourage me to just surrender to the situation as it is. If I live and let live then what will be, will be.
Expectations of amends and atonement only set me up for resentment and disappointment, a self imposed weight I need not bare.
There is little difference between my father and me. Perhaps in reaching out, my father may be indirectly asking for the same grace my daughter has extended to me. I did not foresee a lesson in Surrender coming in the form of my 18 year old daughter, but this serves as testament to how the implementation of the Practices have yielded recurring blessings.
This is Living Hope.
Ben Gear is a writer in his hometown of Chapel Hill, NC. He can also be found charming dinner guests at one of Carrboro’s fine restaurants. Ben is a father, a lover of people, and tries to inspire everyone with his consistently cheerful disposition. He is very committed to his recovery and is proud of his 18 months of sobriety. Ben will be writing about his journey through spirituality, sobriety, and personal growth on his upcoming blog Perfectly Imperfect.