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......there was a little girl who got left behind by the person who was most important in her life.

As she grew, the dream which consumed her was to feel close to him again... she longed in deep pain for the security she once felt in her daddy's arms.  She wanted him to say it wasn't her he was leaving by walking away.  She did not have skills to soothe herself when he became a voice over thousands of miles, no longer arms to embrace and cheer.  

He moved closer, but the vast distance was never lessened.

Her sadness became a shadow which walked in her shoes with her.  The shadow told her lies she didn't want to believe, but refuting them was shouting into a vast tunnel of wind. 'You're not lovable,' the shadow wind howled.' 'I'm a precious child of God!' the girl screamed into the storm, and the wind cackled.  She repeated her assertion under her breath nearly constantly, her words did not feel true, and the mocking wind seemed endless and powerful and sure.  She didn't exactly believe the wind, but her own words rang hollow to her ears.

As she grew, she still felt small, and the shadow wind moved inside of her.  The shadow's truths did not feel true, but she had little strength to contradict.  In time, the shadow's words became as good as true because she failed to find a way back to the connection which had once given life to her soul.  If she was unworthy of love, it hardly seemed possible to love herself.  Force it as she might, it never felt genuine.  She hardly felt real. Try as she might to be real, it never felt true.

She thought for sure that the shadow would get bored and leave if she ignored it.  She was wrong.  It was far more tenacious than she.

In time, there were repeated events not of her own making (or, so she hopes), where her life became as precarious as it always felt.  So nearly gone once and again and again, never quite sure why she was scooped back into life.  Perhaps for some, life gets sweeter through such experience, but for her, it just became more confusing and difficult.  A song she'd sung over and over again with the radio had a line which one day stood out for her, 'and you bleed just to know you're alive.'  There had been so much blood leaked and replaced - was that why?  And what if even bleeding didn't help her know and feel alive?  

She wrestled for several years, allowing herself to feel the pain within, hoping that by not ignoring the shadow inside that she could make peace, and that it would relax its hold on her.  They got to be on a first-name basis, but it wasn't gone and it rarely took holidays away from her.

At some point, she got a notion that maybe if her beloved father could see some of the pain that she'd feel less invisible, more real.  But he confused that for her trying to blame him.  So now she was doubly un-seen.  Unseen in what had always been invisible and also misunderstood for her plea for him to help her learn to love herself and feel real.

She was asked to stop and she did.

Seven going on thirty, they used to say.  Now it hardly seems possible that she's nearing fifty and is still fundamentally not more than seven in her heart, trapped in a time and a loss she cannot escape.

A moment came when it was clear that all the healing that was ever to be with him had already transpired, and she came to understand that they were not equally important to one another, and honestly must have never been.  Some of the sting of the pain softened with that insight.  She had enough adult in her to understand that things aren't always as we'd prefer.

By now, the shadow has become more real to her, in some ways more real than she is to herself.  In looking for love, she's continually found more shadows, always replicating the severed connection... So many guises but all the same story elements.  Always, she is not held as precious as she holds her beloved.  Always there is nothing to be done but shrug and move on.  She keeps telling herself there's a way to break this pattern, to free herself.  Perhaps it is yet to come by Grace.

Originally posted to MsGrin on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Positive Intention and Lovingkindness, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I read this and then I left (20+ / 0-)

    because I was not sure what to say ... it hurt so much to read.

    But then I came back because I wanted to just be with you in your need to express your pain and maybe in your hope to get out of it.

    Virtual hugs to you.

    PS .. do you still live in the Austin area? I plan to move there next month ... maybe the tea and cookies can be real.

    "I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night." Greg Martin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

    by CorinaR on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 01:23:36 PM PDT

  •  Wow! (11+ / 0-)

    It's unfortunate how things over which we have no control can happen to us and go on to impact us for the rest of our lives. I know how it hurts when the ones who should love you the most simply don't. We have to realize that the only person we can change is ourselves, that we can't make those other people behave as they should. I truly hope that you are able to break the pattern and free yourself, but I think it will come only with hard work and not grace. I totally mean for this to be supportive and not offensive, so I reluctantly mention that you might benefit from an excellent therapist. Love yourself first and realize that you are worthy.

  •  I read this once and it resonated... (12+ / 0-)

    I know it sounds a little like something that should be emfbroidered on a pillow, but there is actually great truth in it...

    Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with everything they have.
    Your father did the best he could, even if it wasn't very good or what you needed. He is flawed and was that way before you were born.

    We are all born perfect, deserving perfect parents who give us unconditional love. Not a single one of us has ever gotten that and some - like you - got even less than others. There is no good reason. You didn't deserve it. There are just some parents who don't have the emotional resources to properly care for their children and we're left to finish raising ourselves.

    There are two books I can recommend:

    I hope you find some peace.


    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

    by 1864 House on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 01:37:02 PM PDT

    •  Nice (10+ / 0-)

      You are correct on all counts.  And I know he's done his best, and on many levels, I'm totally ok with that.  But it hasn't helped me to shed this weird skin.

      And I did get unconditional love from my grandmother and I was truly, truly blessed by that reflection of divinity.

      I appreciate the recommendations - the book I have been reading really sucks so far (although it got pretty good reviews in Amazon).

      The present time feels a lack of peace, and I'm taking the opportunity to go back to the original source of my discomfort.

      One of my favorite quotes is 'human love, though it meet no return, is never poured forth in vain.'  I remind myself that it's ok to love even when that is not reflected back.  I can just feel it and allow it to be (without having to act on it).

      "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

      by MsGrin on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 02:02:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  {{MsGrin}} (5+ / 0-)

        Let me just say that there are other little girls out there who know how your little girl feels.  Sometimes its not a father but a mother who causes scars that can't be healed.  The players may be different but the effect is much the same.

        I had a good daddy.  He, too, was scarred by my mother.  We survived her together.

        My grandmother was the source of love that kept me among the living, she gave me what my mother couldn't, what the men in my life wouldn't.  She gave me the unconditional love that all little girls need.  Now I try to live up to her example with my own grandchildren.  

        Thank all the deities for good grandmothers.  They make so much that is bad in life more bearable.

        "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

        by Got a Grip on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 11:18:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ahhhhhhh (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Got a Grip, churchylafemme

          Thank you, (((GOG))), yes.

          The moment which originally caused sufficient pain for me to have my eyes first opened came after 9/1/01 when my grandmother died of pancreatitis. We had just buried her ahead of 9/11 so I was deeply numb already when the whole nation experienced life-wracking jostling and devastation that matched the shake up in my psyche from her loss.  That's when I first understood that the mother I had bonded with originally was not my mother, but hers.  I would not have survived to adulthood without that experience of unconditional love.  Not just bearable but possible at all in my case.  I had the amazing gift of my grandmother until I was 35.

          Remarkably, my mother has become capable of insight in her golden years, and now at least glimpses the impact her emotions made on so many. It's quite magnificent to see because I had believed it impossible.  I have also gained some reprieve and insight from perspective of the early challenges of those around me.  As consumingly devastating as my mother's angry, boundarilessness was, it has occurred to me how important it was that her intentions were always positive,  It is entirely true that at no time did she ever want anything but the best for me.  There were plenty of elements which were annihilating, but that particular piece was deeply important.  I've seen others more recently who had similar intensity in their upbringing but tinged with a malignance which makes my head spin.  That, also would have been unsurvivable for me, and I had something I could survive.  I know the circumstances and inheritances which shaped my mother's earliest experiences, so I have deep compassion for how her intensity came to be from the accidental level of violence (stemming from the death of her grandparents in a literal fireball explosion) which set her up by a sense of loss her whole being could simply not contain.

          I've survived and I have not passed the legacy I inherited to another generation.  I choose to believe that some level of my healing has filtered its way back up through the generations.  I know completely and with certainty that my birth and existence were a gift to my grandmother of the same magnitude that her life continues to be to me.

          I am so glad that in your case you get to pass the glorious goodness you received forward.  I haven't figured out how to complete my own circle by doing that yet.

          "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

          by MsGrin on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 03:03:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'll take a look too (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MsGrin, ladybug53, suesue, 1864 House

      Peace is good.

  •  ((((((((((((((((((((Ms Grin))))))))))))))))))))))) (8+ / 0-)

    Honey, I love you.  

              Much Love, Many Hugs and Abundant Prayers,

    I'll email.

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 03:36:27 PM PDT

  •  My fiance's Dad left her family (8+ / 0-)

    when she was 12.

    When she's at her most vulnerable, that pain comes to the fore, and it is visceral.  I feel for her, and I feel for you as well.

    I will send this to her, so that she knows she isn't alone, and that it's okay to feel hurt, and to feel wronged, because you both were.

    I hope you find some peace.  

    You're a very good writer.

    I'm not an atheist. How can you not believe in something that doesn't exist? That's way too convoluted for me. - A. Whitney Brown

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 04:04:04 PM PDT

  •  No Matter What the Pain Never Goes Away! (7+ / 0-)

    I am nearly seventy and still the old feelings come back quickly if I let it.  Deciding not to helps.  Therapy gave me coping skills for which I am thankful.  

  •  For me it was my mother. I was 4. It was Christmas (8+ / 0-)

    Eve. It never occurred to my father when he asked her to leave on Christmas Eve that it might impact the three of us children.

    I learned that I had to recognize and mourn that loss. Growing up in America, where it is all about the flag, apple pie and motherhood, without a mother was all the reminder I ever needed to know how worthless I was. I mean, if your mother can't love you, who can?

    Somewhere along the line I realized that it wasn't all about me. That it wasn't a rejection of me - it was a rejection of my father. She never knew me well enough to reject me. And as I aged, I began to see why she would reject my emotionally unavailable father.

    The only life in which we play a central role is our own. To others, with rare exceptions, we are peripheral characters and don't influence their behavior half as much as we would like to think we do.

    Not to say it doesn't hurt and cause years of self-doubt, but once we recognize what a loss it creates, and consciously mourn that loss, we have a chance to create a self-image, and a life, that we want.

    And sometimes that means recognizing that the absent parents we so wanted to love, and be loved by, were irresponsible jerks.

    •  A friend of mine in elementary school (8+ / 0-)

      very helpfully explained to me that I didn't have a father...
      I very sincerely tried to reason with her that this did not make any sense... Her answer to my situation was to recommend that I be saved.  At 7.  Kinda made organized religion a lot more suspect for me.

      After 20 years of work on this, I feel a lot less whiplash than I did formerly, but certain events can point me toward being a puddle (which is when I know I need to go back and explore all this again).

      Truth is that my dad did his best.  As you say, I'm more peripheral than I felt I was to him back when I was the apple of his eye.  He's not a jerk, he's just insecure and a bit myopic.  And he believed I was stronger than I was because I had a great act that way.

      I was stunned to see this is the first diary I've written since the ranger gig came along.

      I appreciate your words.

      "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

      by MsGrin on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:01:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You write so beautifully, I could only wish that (5+ / 0-)

    expressing and sharing the pain would make it go away, but I know that won't happen.  I can recommend a book by (I think) the greatest American writer since WWII, Paula Fox, 'Borrowed Finery'.  Her early life of abandonment by both parents, off and on, finally led to a series of wonderful novels.  It might make you feel less alone.  

    Armed! I feel like a savage! Barbarella

    by richardvjohnson on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:37:50 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, Richard (5+ / 0-)

      writing does do something even if it doesn't extinguish the discomfort.  It does make it more tolerable by lessening frustration.

      I'll look up the book - sounds moving, thank you.

      "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

      by MsGrin on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:44:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another book recommendation (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MsGrin, churchylafemme, 1864 House, wader

        I'm not saying you are exactly like her, or would be diagnosed with any of her diagnoses, so there's nothing personal in this recommendation except that the abandonment she felt when her Dad left her Mom sounds very similar to your story.

        The book is: "The Buddha & The Borderline" by Kiera Van Gelder and it is heartbreaking but also illuminating in how she reacted to her situation and how she overcame it. You may find it helpful...I truly leaned a lot from this book, although I'm not in that situation myself.

        I'm so sorry for what you went through, and I admire your courage in being able to write and talk about it. I wish you well, and hope that you find the peace you are seeking...

        "It is never too late to be what you might have been."--George Eliot

        by DianeNYS on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:36:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The grace is there (8+ / 0-)

    it is in your beautiful words, which convey so very much more than perhaps even you know.  My heart aches for you, but I am so very grateful to you for writing this.

    Thinking of you tonight.  Love, nw

    Be sure you put your feet in the right place; then stand firm. ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by noweasels on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:17:57 PM PDT

  •  I am the mother of... (7+ / 0-)

    a "little girl" who is walking in similar shoes... she is now 20 and working out her shadow father issues...

    I will be showing this to her tomorrow...

    Peace, my friend...

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:48:31 PM PDT

  •  Wishing you peace. Wishing you love. NT (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsGrin, wader, churchylafemme

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 07:37:56 AM PDT

  •  Empathy and more for you and your journey (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You do come across as being made from malleable, strong material  - but, heck: you're still human, after all :) .

    This story applies to so many people in situations involving loved ones who were not even their parents, I feel - yet, you've also described things in such a way to make your own situation deeply clear and equally open to personal evolution wherever you take it.

    My spouse has a shadow father, but he passed away relatively young - before she could even define the issue within her.  I've tried to help her understand this for many years, after it became apparent to me - but, a side-effect seems to be a form of armor that doesn't allow for help to filter through as anything but attacks and accusations.

    Nowadays, this condition rules her personality and feelings, as she is increasingly hardened to sharing feelings and exposing her perceived vulnerabilities with each passing year.  What was once a young woman with emotional acceptance and trust issues is now someone who sees reasons to angrily blame others on a constant, daily basis for . . . not living up to her expectations in random ways.  This situation can create a shield around one's heart and head which filters even help and concern, turning them into perceptions of attacks and lack of caring.

    Glad to hear your own path seems to be running in a positive direction for you.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:29:35 PM PDT

    •  if by positive you mean... (0+ / 0-)

      ensuring that there's sufficient abrasion that I cannot be unaware of the deeper pain.  ;-)  I believe that will ultimately be what allows it to process and dissipate.  i can dream.  evolution seems like it has some capacity or potential for improvement.

      your wife is extremely fortunate to have your compassion and understanding.  may she know the peace and comfort waiting to be discovered in her home.

      "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

      by MsGrin on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 09:10:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like to believe that now you have trapped (0+ / 0-)

    this shadow on virtual paper, that you have significantly reduced it's power over you, and in your life. You don't know it yet, but you have done something wonderful for yourself, and possibly for other people too hurt to communicate their pain.

    You will resolve this. If you were unable, you would not have been strong enough to reflect on this thought, much less share it with humanity.

    I have great faith in your inner strength.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 07:27:21 AM PDT

    •  Most kind (0+ / 0-)

      ...have been working on it for decades now.  am generally in decent acceptance, but feelings can flare, and do.  it's a dance.

      "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

      by MsGrin on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 09:03:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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