A couple years ago, when my siblings and I lived with my dad, he abused me. Occasionally, his girlfriend did, too. My mom ended up taking us out of there. Whenever the situation is brought up, my dad gets mad and tells me how bad we hurt him. I want to scream that he is not the victim, but I can’t. I need to talk with him about this so I can move on, but I don’t know how or if there’s even a point to trying. Is there a chance he might understand or listen? If not, how do I move on?
It breaks my heart to read about your abuse, and I am grateful that you want to be free. The truth is this: Your father cannot liberate you from your suffering. He does not hold the key to your healing. If you focus on soliciting an apology from him, you are likely to be disappointed. Waiting for him to mature and take responsibility just lengthens your suffering.
Begin the process of healing. Right now, when he argues that he is the victim, your brain argues back. It says that you are the real victim. That’s natural, because you are still grieving what was done to you. At some point, you will let go of suffering by letting go of being a victim. Do this by allowing him to claim that title while you rise above it. You are capable of shedding the past. Take another step toward transformation by putting the abuse in context. It was one life experience. You are much more than the sum of what has happened to you. You are also the power, clarity and self-love that can overcome what has happened. I believe in you.
My fiance and I have spent many Saturday mornings drinking coffee and reading your column. Now, it is one of our favorite weekend traditions. We are both looking forward to being married this July. Do you have advice for maintaining a loving, authentic connection for the long term?
Yes, keep those coffee dates calendared. Conversation nurtures emotional intimacy. When you share opinions and information, you initiate a connection. Guide the conversation toward feelings (those on the surface and the deeper feelings related to your struggles with the topic or issue) and your connection will strengthen. Your bond is further reinforced when you open up about your vision for what you would like to see happen regarding the topic at hand. While one of you talks, the other listens and shows understanding. This sets the foundation for a loving, authentic, long-term relationship. P.S. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!
You recently wrote: “Passion and purpose are the result of being engaged with your vocation, a calling that aligns your talents and dreams with service to the world.” I almost cried when I read that. My jobs have been extremely unfulfilling. I value the security that my occupation offers, and that makes it hard to leave. I’ve gone to a career coach, and although she helped me overcome some trauma, I am lost when it comes to finding a job I am happy with.
A job is employment that pays the bills but is not the center of a life. A career is a lifelong profession that provides opportunities for advancement, increased responsibilities and higher wages. It becomes the focal point. A vocation inspires you, serves others and fires up your passion, but may be unpaid. Yes, that means your job is not the problem. You yearn for a juicy, passionate life. Find a creative hobby or volunteer with a life-giving nonprofit. Once you invest in your passion, the purpose of your job will be clear.
“It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction,” said Pablo Picasso. Are you ready to be on fire from within?