Toasting the Blame Documents
Leftovers. Sometimes they’re wonderful. Then there are the other times. They just sit there in the refrigerator waiting for me to do something with them. In reviewing my blog posts this past year, I couldn’t overlook unfinished business I still have with my father.
It isn’t as though I’ve been twiddling my thumbs. When I read Blaming Daddy?, Parts 1 and 2, I’m astonished at how far I’ve come. Especially since I didn’t set out to go there. When I began this blog I was still in anger mode toward my father.
Finally getting clear about how he wronged me was, however, an unexpected gift. It helped me see the levels of complication that likely fester in every family with a parent or even two who are ordained clergy. If I didn’t ‘get it’ there was a good reason: What happened in my family and in my father’s family of origin wasn’t simple.
I remember wanting desperately to have a simple life like almost all my friends in school. That wasn’t going to happen in a million years. And, of course, their lives weren’t all that simple. Still, I didn’t realize back then what a tangled web I’d been born into. There’s something about that added clergy-layer that seeps into every relationship and expectation that comes my way.
Having said that, I don’t believe it’s impossible to untangle the web enough to bring clarity and focus. Which is precisely what I’m still after.
But today isn’t about starting down that path. It’s about celebrating the progress I made this year. In particular, I’m ecstatic about having written my Blame Documents! It still feels like a ton of bricks rolled off my back. Why? Because this unexpected turn of events did several things for me.
- First, it changed my relationship with my husband. Not that he wasn’t understanding; he was, insofar as possible. But something was missing on my side–resolve and determination to name truth no matter what it cost. Letting go of my shame. Turning the spotlight where it belonged. Accepting my responsibility, but not one shred more than truly belonged to me. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, this freed my husband to be an ally rather than a concerned, sometimes angry onlooker who wanted to help, but couldn’t.
- Second, it gave me an agenda I didn’t know I had. I hadn’t thought about my childhood experiences as an agenda waiting to happen. Yes, it was important, and I would surely talk about it. But what then? The discipline of sorting out my adult responsibility from my father’s responsibility clarified the ‘what then’ question. I’ve only scratched the surface.
- Third, it clarified how I can make a difference in this world. In short, I need to keep the main thing the main thing. I follow a number of dedicated bloggers who do just that. They never stop reminding me that they have a mission: what it is, why it’s important, and exactly how they’re doing their part to move it forward. Bottom line for me: What happened in my family isn’t what I’ll now put ‘behind me.’ It’s what I intend to keep front and center as I think about this coming year.
- Finally, writing the Blame Documents exploded a huge dam in me. I didn’t anticipate this. It just happened. Yes, I’m still who I am! But my inhibitions and fears, though still capable of popping up when least expected, have been reduced to a more manageable scale. No cold sweats most of the time about what I’m writing. No desire to jerk something back before it becomes public.
For all these reasons, I want to raise a toast to the Blame Documents!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 December 2014