Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
Tonight, I held a private funeral for Daddy. Just me and him. I’m feeling much lighter now, much better. I’ve released most of my anger, if not all, and a lot of the hurt I’ve been carrying. And a lot of tears. I understand things in a different way now. I was just getting the edges of it earlier tonight as I was contemplating the ritual, but now I see it all.
After venting last night to my private friends’ list, I heard from Kelley Harrell (www.soulintentarts.com) who suggested I try the h’o pono pono ritual for releasing and healing. This is a ritual used in Hawaiian shamanism, but I’ve found lots of Christian, Jewish, and Wiccan friends using it recently to heal different relationships. In spite of having it sitting on my desk, it didn’t cross my mind to incorporate it into my private funeral service until Kelley mentioned it (thanks, Kelley—I appreciate the wisdom).
My private service took place amid candles, a small bonfire, and a ritual circle on my new patio that Daddy never saw. Prior to the releasing ritual, I called Daddy forth for a long talk. Not physically, of course. Just his energy in the Ether. He had some things to tell me, and I had a few things to tell him, too. These were not things I could have talked to him about before because he wouldn’t have heard it. Too close to the bone…or to the heart. A few times before, I tried but he shut me down. It wasn’t a place he could bear to go.
Now, he can tell me. Now, I can understand.
Everything goes back to Daddy’s relationship with his mama. I really hate to sound like Freud, but true in this case. The one thing he wanted was her love/approval/ acceptance. That’s one big package it’s all wrapped up in. She never gave it to him, and of course, with her death a little over a month earlier, why keep hanging around trying/wishing/hoping for it to happen?
She never valued him. He had the audacity to be conceived, to be a trap. Even though he was in his 60’s and needed a birth certificate to get his Social Security before he knew the circumstances of his birth. No matter what he did, he couldn’t make his mother value him. The money he gave her that he didn’t give his own family, the home place he bought back for her while borrowing money from his inlaws, the land he gave her that I wasn’t supposed to know about, the debts he paid off for her and his siblings, the work he did for her, the constant kowtowing…. Nothing was ever good enough for her or good enough to get her to approve/accept/love him (which is what he passed on to everyone around him who loved him—the only thing he knew to pass on). None of us could ever do anything right or enough to be valued, though my brother’s being a preacher came probably as close as it got because it made Daddy look worthier (he’d hoped) to her and her church cronies if he had a son who was a preacher.
So when your mama seems to think you’re unworthy of her affection, you either accept it or reject it. Rejecting it would mean perceiving her as a bad mother. Perceiving her as a bad mother would mean you’re never going to be loved/accepted/approved of. So you accept it. Mama thinks you’re unworthy? You’re unworthy.
And that means that not only you but everything and everyone who makes up your own world and all the ways and people who define your identity because they’re part of you, well, they must be worthless, too. You’re never good enough, therefore, the family you choose and sire isn’t good enough either. The grandchildren might be good enough if the bloodline outside the family is better than you have to offer, which means they’re worthier than your children. Maybe. People who don’t have your bloodline don’t have your lack of value, therefore, they might have more worth than those you’ve chosen as family. (Grrrr….and the countless relatives I saw Daddy bail out of jail over the years while his own kids would have rotted in jail if we’d ever brushed with the Law!)
As for those chosen as your family, they should know that the only way to be loved is the way you were taught…prove it…constantly. Every day, every minute. No matter the cost. You can’t simply be loved for who you are. You must always prove yourself worthy, always be tested for your worth. Because he never could break the code on what it took to get that love from her. Nothing was ever enough for her and therefore nothing could ever be enough for him. The answer eluded him so he couldn’t give what he couldn’t find.
I also explained something to Daddy tonight…why I didn’t come around more in the last couple of months. Because even though he didn’t value himself or anyone who loved him—because that’s the message he had since first at his mama’s knee—I chose to value myself and my daughters and not put us through the emotional wringer where we always felt like dirt by the time we headed back home. He felt time drawing nigh and kept that glimmer of hope that his mama would somehow at the last minute give that love she’d withheld for 80 years, but I think as that faded, he became more desperate to have all of us prove our love for him in impossible ways.
I have a much better understanding of it all now. We were all far better people than deserved to be treated that way by our ancestry and we could all have been very happy, but he spent his life trying to win her love without simply deciding she was wrong about him…or any of us…and walking away from her. We were all lacking in her eyes, and we felt it in every breath for all our lives. Especially him. An impossible place to be in, and one he’s left his own kids to work through. Of never feeling any of us were good enough, no matter how much we did or how much we succeeded at. It was his legacy, his birthright.
One I refuse to inherit now.
I married a man who had more in common with him than I’d ever dreamed, and I repeated a lot of lessons I learned early on, stuck in that circle. I spent a long time trying to be what Daddy wanted and later what my husband wanted, and instead, in the past couple of years, I stopped trying to win acceptance (Daddy’s or anyone’s) and instead I’ve done what Daddy could never do: proven a parent wrong. I have value.
He can see it now. In spite of what some might think, it’s not too late.
I understand it all now. I can see it clearly. I can re- lease the anger and the hurt of never being good enough, and I can know now, fully, that never being good enough to be loved just as I am was his issue, not mine, and his mother’s issue, not mine.
I love my daddy, but I’m free of the burden he carried.