In 2012 I invited my father to Thanksgiving dinner. He accepted the invitation and drove more than 2,000 miles to make it to the dinner table. It was the first time my father and I had a Thanksgiving together and I was born in 1965.
If you knew the history of my family, and especially if you could read my journals or hear the thoughts I had about my dad throughout my life, then you would know what a miracle this Thanksgiving dinner was. To put it in context, this is only the 5th time in my entire life that I’ve been face to face with my father.
The short story is, I had no contact with him throughout my entire upbringing. I met him in person for the first time when I was 22 and I spent most of my childhood alternately wanting desperately for him to come “save me” and hating his guts for leaving me. No letters, no phone calls, no nothing…only my mind creating stories of how my dad did me wrong and therefore, “I hate him”.
Well, that version of our relationship is old news and a new relationship has taken it’s place. This is only possible because we both sat face to face (February 2011) and he asked to be forgiven. He explained himself. He let me ask questions and tell him my side of the story. This only took a couple of hours. Since then, we have started a new relationship that is mutually beneficial and rewarding.
I came across a quote this week by Bruce Barton: ”Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstances.”
It was highly difficult for me to sit with my dad as an adult. I was overwhelmed and flooded with a lifetime of painful memories. But I also have a lifetime of other memories: the nights I prayed that I could have a relationship with my dad and the nights I claimed that I was ready to let it go and forgive, that I was ready to move on. I was being presented with the opportunity and I had to swallow a lot of old pain, anger and anxiety in order to effectively seize the opportunity that was being presented.
By facing the incredibly difficult task of forgiving my father and letting go of the past, I remembered something important. Most of the time we are stronger than we think we are and sometimes we have to come close to losing something we value before we dig deep into our resources and access all the strength we have.
The following TED video: Beverly + Dereck Joubert: Life lessons from big cats is a powerful demonstration of that intangible force we can all access when something is truly important to us. Be sure to watch it to the end…it’s a little disturbing at one point but then becomes very inspiring.
If you want support in letting go of the past and creating a new story, sign up for Sheri Zampelli’s newsletter at sherizampelli.com. Learn about public presentations and private hypnosis sessions that can help you use your story to galvanize your life purpose.