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I greatly miss the relationship I had with my father and cannot accept his death and feel empty within.
About the Questioner
Philosophy: In a worldly sense I am a HINDU. My Family background and education has taught me to be citizen of the World. My religion is Love, Simplicity and Peace.
Hopes and aspirations: To live in a peaceful, Creative world. To enjoy the Beauty of Nature and to live a settled, happy Family Life.
I leading a happy married life with a simple, hardworking man as my husband. My problem started when my father died in 2004 due to a sudden heart attack. I was greatly attached to my father, he was my best friend in life and turned out to be my best guide, friend and philosopher. Our father-daughter relationship was the most beautiful aspect of our lives. So complete, so fulfilling, so full of life. He was an intellectual giant, always inspiring, always imparting knowledge, always protective in this harsh world.
Reply by Coach Doris Jeanette
I understand you will ask me to remember him with pride and to follow his guidelines but it is all futile... The child inside me is not ready to accept his absence. I am angry at this world, with God, with myself. Why have I not taken good care of him? People are so boring to me, I don't want to talk to them. I miss that private world where things were pious, loving, gentle and soothing. I know my children and my home need me but I am empty within. I miss Papa too much. Looking forward for your precious advice.
You are indeed a dear and lovely person. Your attachment to your father was a healthy attachment in your early life. You need to hold precious this emotional connection forever. Ideally, everyone needs this type of secure, solid, loving attachment with both our mother and our father. There are many psychological studies that show children need close physical attachment and emotional attachment in order to flourish later in life. As a matter of fact, children will die if they do not receive enough physical and emotional love.
However, this early childhood attachment must move and change as we grow up. Unfortunately, I have found that the parents who are good at attachment are not so good at letting go of their children. For example, my mother was excellent at loving me and unable to let go of me and allow me to grow up and feel secure on my own.
An essential part of the journey to self-realization and self-actualization involves letting go of attachments. Happily, I discovered Buddha in one of my college courses and was delighted to learn my first lesson in letting go. Buddha is the expert in letting go of any and all attachments that are burdening you down. Just as the seasons of the earth change, so must you change and rearrange as a human being on the earth.
I remember looking out of the window at the end of my first year in college. I felt, just like you-- empty, heavy, unhappy. I had become attached to the beautiful, strong, loving tree outside my window. I did not want to leave my tree, my friends or my room. I wanted to stay there forever. An empathic person can easily become attached to love, good feelings, objects, trees and people!
Yet in reality, you cannot hold on to anything. It does not matter if it is good or bad, loving or unloving. Letting go is one of the most powerful skills you can learn if you want to stay healthy, happy and strong. Always let go. Let go everyday. Let go now! The moment you try to hold on to anything is the moment you stop flowing and growing. When you hold on you are trying to control the impossible. Trying to control reality creates the unnecessary suffering Buddha was referring to.
It appears that you are holding on to an image of the past as well as the reality of the past. By this I mean that your father was not so perfect and pious. You have him on a pedestal and that is not where any real human being belongs. I tell my clients when they try to put me on top of a pedestal, "The only way off a pedestal is down. If you put me up, the only thing I can do is fall off!" When one person is on a pedestal, above the other, the energy exchange between them is unequal. This inequality means there is an unhealthy attachment. So this is the unhealthy part of your relationship with your father that you need to let go of.
You say, "The child inside me is not ready to accept his absence. I am angry at this world, with God, with myself. Why have I not taken good care of him? People are so boring to me, I don't want to talk to them." To begin your healing process, you need to continue to express this confusing combination of frustrations, feelings, judgments and thoughts. Allow all of these truths to move, change and rearrange. You need to discover and recognize the different energies so you can let go of frustrations, thoughts and judgments. In contrast, you need to feel your authentic emotions. Once you experience your emotions, your vital energy will start to flow so you feel more alive and less empty.
Many students of Buddha take his words too far, as students of all great teachers seem to do. By this I mean, while you do need to let go of the unhealthy attachment to your father, you do not need to let go of his love. The loving energy you shared with your father needs to be deep in your heart as the fertile ground for all other love to grow from so you can flourish as a separate and whole person.
Once you allow your energy to move, instead of trying to hold on to the image of your father, you can sort through what is healthy and unhealthy as you experience your truths. You will then be able to let go of the unhealthy attachments, which are making you sick and miserable. And you will keep the healthy love as precious crystals around your neck to help you live life more fully and richly.
One of my life goals is to take my mother's love and share it with the rest of the world. I view this task as part of my soul's purpose. I need to give the love I received away to others so the whole world can become more loving. Perhaps you could think of your father's love in this way?
Then it would be your responsibility to receive his love and freely allow it to move through you so you can share it with others. When you do this, I suspect that you will be completing what you came here to do. Letting go will accomplish the task.
Action Steps To Letting Go
- Study Buddha's words about letting go and use his life as a model.
- Do transformational work where you practice letting go of control in safe places with safe teachers. For example, the experiential, outdoor Nature Workshop, Oct. 23, 2010, Oct. 23, near NYC and Philadelphia. Readers of Cultivate Life! Get a $50.00 discount by putting NATURAL in the coupon box and signing up before October 9, 2010.
- Engage in continuing education on the topic. You could sign up for the upcoming teleseminar, "Letting Go, The Secret to Moving Forward," just created to share what I know about the art and science of letting go. Learn to move forward from any unpleasant situation, event or relationship interaction by letting go. Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 PM ET, USA and costs $29.97. Everyone who signs up gets an mp3.
Doris Jeanette is a licensed psychologist with 34 years of clinical experience studying the emotional energy dynamics in relationships. She loves to help people break free from the chains that bind them so they can give their gifts away for the highest good. Sign up for her free weekly newsletter, "The Vibrant Moment
Coaching copyright © 2010 Dr. Doris Jeanette
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