God the Father, and My Father
By Robert Burney
"Our traditional cultural concepts of what a man is, of what a woman is, are twisted, distorted, almost comically bloated stereotypes of what masculine and feminine really are. A vital part of this healing process is finding some balance in our relationship with the masculine and feminine energy within us, and achieving some balance in our relationships with the masculine and feminine energy all around us. We cannot do that if we have twisted, distorted beliefs about the nature of masculine and feminine.
When the role model of what a man is does not allow a man to cry or express fear; when the role model for what a woman is does not allow a woman to be angry or aggressive - that is emotional dishonesty. When the standards of a society deny the full range of the emotional spectrum and label certain emotions as negative - that is not only emotionally dishonest, it creates emotional disease.
If a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional, because the people of that society are set up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their emotional needs met."
"As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger.""Human beings have also tried to apply realities of the physical level to the Spiritual level with the disastrous result that humans have come up with an image of the God-Force that fights wars. This image of the God-Force, with the characteristics of a war-like male, is completely out of balance because it is not the image of a balanced male warrior - it is the image of a male with no feminine side."
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
We buried my father this last weekend. He had gone into the hospital almost two months ago as an emergency admission. A gall stone led to several surgeries and uncovered other problems. He was in the hospital suffering from numerous complications - in a situation that contained no dignity and much pain. It was a blessing last week when congenital heart failure cropped up and took him within a couple of days. The things he was suffering from previously could have caused him to linger for weeks and weeks.
He was 80 years old and had lived a full life. All of his family members got a chance to see him while he was still lucid and able to communicate. I went to visit him in the hospital in Phoenix several weeks ago after doing a workshop in the Bay area. I was able to get some closure of a sort - to tell him I loved him. He couldn't say it back to me. He has never been able to say he loved me.
My father was an emotional cripple. A man who had learned that real men don't get scared or hurt or sad - real men only get angry. I wrote a column about how as a little boy I was terrified of him - and how sad I was about my relationship with my father - for Father's Day in 1997. (Emotionally Crippled Fathers - a sad tragedy of the masculine)
I had actually done much grieving about my relationship with my father - and his inability to treat me in a way that felt loving - years ago. I didn't actually have a lot of grief at his passing last week - some, but not a great deal because of that previous grieving. There was actually more grief for me in seeing my family members who have no recovery, who have no understanding of how wounded they were by his behavior, in pain over the myth of fatherhood they were still empowering.
The most damaging thing about our relationships with our parents growing up, is that we incorporate the messages we received from them directly - and indirectly through their behavior and role modeling - into our relationship with our self. It is not possible to develop healthy relationships with our parents if they do not change and get into recovery themselves. We can certainly get healthier in our interactions with them - but we cannot develop healthy relationships with anyone who is not getting healthier themselves. We can however heal our relationship with ourselves by taking power away from the old tapes and emotional wounds their behavior caused us to incorporate into our relationship with self.
This is what I am focusing on as I write this. A dysfunctional level in my relationship with myself that still needs some healing. This is a level of wounding that came not just from my relationship with my father - but also with the concept of God the Father I had imposed upon me as a child.
The Old Testament concept of a punishing, judgmental God the Father - a god with a human ego who created humans to adore him - is an abusive, ridiculous concept in my opinion. (I share some of my beliefs in this regard - along with links to articles focused on different aspects of my beliefs - in my December 2004 Update Newsletter.) That masculine image of a God is - as I say in the quote from my book above - an image of a male with no feminine side.
That image of an angry patriarch has been a fundamental component of the template for the way men were trained to express their masculinity and deny their feminine side in Western Civilization. The similarities between the way our fathers treated us and the image of the judgmental, abusive God the Father has been devastatingly wounding to not only many men in society - but also the many women who have tried over and over again to win the love of the emotionally unavailable, abusive males that were recreating the ways they were wounded in relationships with fathers who were emotional cripples like my father.
The combination of the reality that my father did not ever treat me in a way that made me feel that I was lovable and worthy, but rather the very opposite - along with the concept of a Father God who would send me to burn in hell forever because I was inherently sinful and shameful - are at the core of the toxic shame that is the foundation of my codependency. I have been working on healing - and have made great progress in eliminating - that shame about my being in the years of my recovery. I count my codependency recovery as beginning on June 3rd, 1986 - so I am coming up on my 19th CoDA anniversary.
There has been however, a dark corner deep within me where the feeling that I am not lovable or worthy - that I am somehow defective - has still been causing me to sometimes engage in self sabotaging behavior. I still have some terror at the core of my relationship with myself at fully opening up to believe that I deserve Love and Joy and abundance, some resistance to fully embracing being alive - and because of that terror I have periodically found myself justifying some behavior that is hurting me.
I deserved to be treated better than my father treated me. I certainly didn't deserve the emotional and spiritual abuse heaped upon me by a shame based religion. And I need to stop indulging myself in this self destructive behavior - so that I can more fully honor and respect my self by treating myself in a way I deserve to be treated. Today I am leaving that behavior behind. Today, May 31st 2005 - to honor that I deserve to be treated better than my father was capable of treating me - I am going to commit myself to stopping the self abusive behavior that directly relates back to how his behavior wounded a little boy many years ago. Today I am going to defy that stupid ridiculous concept of an angry male god the father by stopping the self sabotaging behavior that I have until now been powerless to stop completely. Today I make this commitment to myself - to treat my self with Love and respect in all my behaviors. I commit my self to accessing the power available to me from my Higher Power to be more Loving to my self - because I deserve that Love.
Next in series:Quantum Physics - expanding my Spiritual paradigm