When I was 6 years old, my father had an affair. He divorced my mother, married the other woman and raised a family with her. I rarely saw him. My mother insisted that I spend time with my half-brothers and sisters and would invite them over often. In retrospect, I’m grateful because as adults, my siblings and I have a wonderful relationship. The problem is they adore my father. I have nothing good to say. He abandoned my mother and me, and rarely acknowledged me as his. I want to have an honest conversation with my siblings but fear it will create a split. Advice?
It’s the split inside you that needs healing. Your father left because of his own shortcomings. Let him take full responsibility for his emotional failure. Believing things like, “He loved his new family better,” or “I wasn’t good enough to be loved,” are attempts to shoulder some of your father’s weakness, your indirect (and unhealthy) way to be close to him. Do you see? Your mind has decided that if you can’t share in his love, you’ll secure his approval by making him right. Taking that route only works if you also let yourself be right. Like this: My father made a choice to leave that says everything about him and nothing about me.
Settling into a new perspective also means acknowledging your siblings had a different experience and letting that be okay. Listen to their stories about your father. Drink in their happiness. Think of this as a spiritual practice. When the sweetness of your siblings’ experience cracks your heart open, breathe in the beauty. Say: “I’m grateful to hear your joy.”
Can’t get there? Try saying this: “My relationship with dad was so different than what you have shared. I’m glad to know that you were happy.” Speaking like this is a way of staying present as the adult you are now, instead of interacting with your siblings as a wounded child. Both possibilities exist within you, as in all of us. Spiritual maturity requires that we speak as an adult in the present moment, not as the wounded child of our past.
I’ve dated a lot but have only been in love twice. I’m just not that attracted to most men. I like intellectually stimulating conversation and men who are comfortable in their own skin. The men who ask me out are either emotionally needy or narcissists. I don’t know what to do.
Live your best life. Being partnered isn’t a life essential; it’s a life experience. Plenty of people have mates but are not in love. Some people who think they are in love are drowning in infatuation. Other couples are best friends, lovers and life partners, until they’re not. It’s the nature of impermanence. Nothing is forever. Not even your fear that you won’t meet the right mate. I’ll bet that after a date or two with an annoyingly needy guy, or after listening to a friend kvetch about their partner, you’re glad to be single, right? Ah, nothing lasts—not even the desire to be in love. So stop feeling star-crossed. Let love happen—or not.