Fathers Day

Tony Ryan - Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tomorrow is father’s day so I thought I would write about my father.
I believe that our parents so shape how we perceive or experience love. They are our first relationships and if we don’t understand them we are likely to never fully trust life and relationship.

I love my father and always have. However our relationship has taken to me to such extremes of emotion. Joy, bliss, safety, security, fear, worry, confusion, aggression, bitterness. I could go on and on with all the emotions and thoughts my father has stimulated in me.

My belief about love is that it is eternal and is about essence connections that we most likely have little or no control over. For some reason we seem to be drawn or connected to some people and even some activities more so than others. In many instances there seems no rational reason for the attraction.

I believe I have a deep and rare connection with my father. I believe the conflict and depth of emotion felt is due to this connection depth. This is where the second aspect of love comes in for me. This relates to what we do have control of. Understanding the emotions and experiences born from the connection with the other person.

I believe it is much harder to love when the connection is deep. Far easier to handle experiences of moderate depth and power. So for me my relationship with my father has created much pressure and confusion. However I have never doubted the beauty of my father’s essence even though at times he has.

I believe he was born with a rare gift to feel things more deeply than most. Even now he amazes me with the depth of emotion that he can feel and generate outwards. However as a small child this gift provided him with many overwhelming feelings. Whilst his first few years were bliss at around the age of 5 his mother experienced what we now know to be post natal depression.

Her condition had her become very emotionally self absorbed. My father had the love from his mother severely restricted for no apparent reason. In my grand mother’s journal she described how little Max had gone from being an angel to a devil. That she had no idea why and couldn’t handle the change. Not long after my father was sent to stay with relatives and then to boarding school.

This restriction of love would have hurt any child. However for my father with his sensitivity it was an ever more dramatic turn of events. At boarding school things got even worse. Already insecure he was placed in a class where he found it hard to keep up with the other children.

The nuns at the school had no tolerance for slow learners back then and he was strapped and beaten on many occasions. Just as hurtful was the continual criticism that his teachers loaded him up with in front of his young peers. Later in life it was discovered that my father suffered from dislexia, another condition that was not really acknowledged back then.

Whilst these experiences may seem normal to many my father is only now beginning to regain his self esteem. He has found it very difficult to learn or undertake activities outside of his comfort zone. Further like most Australian men he has been conditioned his whole life to be strong and tough and not show his emotions.

When I was growing up I so remember the strength in my father. However whilst he was a big man and always seemed to project typical Aussie bloke toughness it was his inner self that I felt the most strength from. When he was in a good place it was to me like the world was a wonderland. However if he was out of his comfort zone I sensed a different energy. I would feel guilt , shame and anger that I now realize emanated from Dad.

One of the classic examples was when I used to visit our family factory. Dad was a director but was mainly found in the workshop where he happily worked side by side with the many Italian and Greek migrants that were employed at the time. As a young boy whenever I visited the factory and Dad was in the workshop I was so uplifted. The people there loved him and Dad felt accepted and respected. This allowed his true nature to shine through.

However if I would visit him and he happened to be in the office it was a completely different story. I would sense a different man. It was like my father’s body was inhabited by a stranger. On refelction now and on conversations with Dad it all makes sense. Dad has never felt intellectual and on the office side of the factory even his own father judged him as stupid. My father used to feel so fragile under this judgment and his energy reflected this.

As a child I had no rational knowledge as to these emotional shifts. Further my father like most father’s in those days did not want to hurt his son by admitting weakness. Little did he know how much hurt the confusion inside of me was creating. I think even now I still have stored experiences that can flare up due to the conflict within my father and the confusion I had stored.

So in a drawn out way I suppose I am drawing a picture as to why I have felt the range of emotions I have with my father. However as conflicted as I have been over my relationship with Dad in my heart I know him to be one of the most intuitively intelligent and compassionate people I have ever met. This has always been owned in my heart but until recently has rarely been stable in my body and mind.

So my message for father’s day is to encourage everyone to treat each day like father’s day. To really value your father’s and for that matter mothers and all people who are connected to you. For love in essence is the connection we are gifted with to each other. But to live with this love freely we must continually meditate on all of our experiences in relationship. To continually understand the people and experiences we are in relationship with.

To Dad this writing and the accompanying pictures are your father’s day present this year. You are soon to turn 80 but in my mind our love is as fresh and pure and strong as it has ever been. Whilst you are my father you are also my friend and companion and inspiration.

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