Are you ready for some honesty?
See, I ask this because the interesting part about writing honestly is people have their own interpretations about this. Then again, the reason I write about this or the reason I write about any of my life is to expose my truth. I write about my life to be unafraid.
I do this because by exposing myself or my thinking, I have learned to uncover truth. I have learned to understand more about the roots of my thinking. I have grown to understand the roots of my emotions and the roots of my behavior.
I have come to the understanding that the truth is not always happy. Truth is not always easy. And yes, truth is raw and emotional. However, truth is also inescapable. Once revealed or better yet, once we’ve accepted the truth then we come to an understanding of truth, which leads to acceptance, and furthermore, this leads to a personal sense of relief from the burdens of thought.
Part of why we pick apart our old memories and part of why we look to find accountability is because we have emotions. We have feelings and complications. Whereas, relitigation of the past is what leads to our confinement, acceptance is what allows us to leave the past behind and lead us towards freedom.
We come to an understanding that there is only one truth. Anything else is an interpretation. This means anything else is only an opinion. And opinion is not truth. Interpretation is not truth. Perceptions can easily lead to misconception (or should I say misperceptions) and therefore, we submit ourselves to inaccurate versions of us and our truth. This is why we look to defend ourselves. This is why we submit to imaginary threats. We hold onto ideas that can cripple us. However, I see no reason to deny thoughts or feelings. Even the uncomfortable ones.
In fact, I invite them to expose them. I invite my assumptions so that I can challenge them. There is a fine line between perception and truth. As well, there is an open door between personal enslavement and freedom. What I mean is there is a misunderstanding of personal entrapment and an idea that freedom from self is a possibility. However, in the mind, we can often be both the prisoner and the warden.
Nevertheless, there is a process I go through each year between December 24 and 29. The process has changed throughout the years. The emotions have matured, adapted, as well as improved. However, there is a process nonetheless. I call this my personal days of awe. This is a time of reflection and a time to remember. This is not the typical end of the year thinking. No, this is a time of reverence. This is a time for memory but more to the point, this is the time I acknowledge the loss of my Father.
As of this year, I will have traveled around the sun a total of 31 times since then. That’s a long time. It has been 31 years since The Old Man passed. I have grown both physically and emotionally. I have matured. I have seen good things and bad things. I have had my share of failures and success. I have had my share of achievements and losses. There are moments that I am proud of and admittedly, there are moments of shame.
I think about the unearthed root structure of a tree. I think about the roots of my upbringing and the depths of my past. This is the birthplace of me and my ideas. This is where I gained my lessons and learned more about my personal biases. In addition, I tie my insecure dysfunctions to the roots of my past. I tie them to the inaccurate teachings of misperceived lessons.
I tie this into the idea of what it was like to be a kid. I connect this to ideas of when I’d bring my report card home and to seek approval and acceptance.
I tie this to my needs for attention and my needs for acknowledgement and validation. I tie this to my need to be heard as well as my need for reassurance. I assign these ideas because of the lack thereof. I tie this to my guilt and my fears of anticipation. I tie this to my connections of shame, blame, guilt, fault and rejection.
We learn about these things. Emotions are innate. Feelings are teachings based on ideas, opinions, connections with memories and past experiences. It took me a long time to understand the difference between my thoughts and my feelings. It took a lot of growth to understand the difference between feelings and emotion.
I have always wanted to please my Father. I have always wanted to show him “Look, see?” And again, I tie this to my need to feel his approval. I suppose this is because he was always my hero. The Old Man was my introduction to manhood. He was my teacher of what a man should be. And as such, I never assumed he had flaws. He was my Father. We called him Pop in my house. And God, did I want to please him. I wanted to make him proud.
There is an idea about parenthood which goes unsaid. We tend to forget that parents are human. We tend to hold the lessons we learn as gospel. Right or wrong, surface level or deeper, the things we learn in our earliest years are the deepest roots we have.
I often write letters to my past. I suppose this is because our relationship was never easy. I suppose my need to please my Father stems from my old ideas that I could never please anyone, let alone my Father.
Then again, these ideas are based on old, troubled memories. My ideas are based on old recollections that have been stunted since I was a kid. They have also been mutated by emotion and altered by the shades of time. In order to move freely, I had to learn ways to resolve through change.
It has always been interesting to me when someone passes away and those who were closest look back to pretend the relationship was unflawed. I say this because it took a lot of growth to become honest about my past. It took decades to announce my Father’s name in anything other than total admiration. It took a very long time for me to separate myself from the wrongs between us. And equally, it took years of growth to disown the problems I assumed were mine.
It took me a long time to understand that my Father was only human. And like me or like any other human in this world: The Old Man had faults and flaws. He had insecurities and frustrations. He had bouts where it seemed as if he could relate to the ideas of depression. And again, it took years of growth to be able to say this. It took strength to say this without thinking that I was being disrespectful to his name or memory. The truth is we all have faults. We all have moments of weakness. We all have times when we say or do the wrong thing. We are all capable of saying mean things. Or better yet, we all say things we wish we could take back.
The unfortunate part is words can seldom be unspoken. Oftentimes, the words that are left unsaid are the words we carry with regret.
To say I love you to someone, even if they know or even if they know this deep down and the words “I love you” are unnecessary; truth be told, to me, these three words are a representation of freedom.
The words “I love you” also represent forgiveness.
Sometimes, when we tell someone “I love you,” we also forgive ourselves. We pardon our troublesome memories. We pardon our past. We forgive the quarrels and let go of the unresolved tensions. We do this so we can breathe. We do this so we can step forward and live without the burden of unsolved (or unsolvable) histories that have influenced the way we live, love, laugh and learn.
In the opening paragraphs, I explained about my days of awe. This is a time for reflection. This is a time when I celebrate my Father’s life. I celebrate the memories that have left warmth in my heart. I celebrate my growth and honesty and the separation between ownership and understanding.
I still have the need to please my Father. I still want to make him proud. I want to create and build and make something that leaves a mark on this world. It used to be that I wanted to do this to prove to him that I was capable and that I was good. But not anymore.
Part of the freedom I’ve seen in my life comes from the understanding of self. And it is me. It is I. It is my thoughts and my perceptions that have changed the face of my truths. Freedom from overthinking leads to freedom in life.
Also, by allowing people to be human instead of holding them to unrealistic standards is an entryway to freedom. So is surrendering the unsolvable remnants of our past. So is forgiveness. And so is our new path, untaken.
See you tomorrow, Pop.
I have some things I would like to share with you.