For Father’s Day I hand wrote a five-page letter to my deceased father and told him that when I cross over, please don’t bother reaching out to my spirit. Having him reach out to me, even in death, is a lingering part of my childhood wishes.
This letter to my father began with a quest spurred on by my oncologist during my treatment for this incurable and rare form of uterine cancer. Knowing that dis-ease and healing have more than a physiological element, the oncologist thought that a personal exploration with the help of a shamanic healer could be a part of the formula to keep me on my two feet.
I knew little to nothing about shamanism. Actually, I held onto my Navajo friend’s perspective: what’s with the white people trying to be like the indigenous people? Come to find out, indigenous white folk in ancient Europe had their shamans. Really, it’s not unlike ritual prayer of today. I remember priests making holy signs and swinging silver vessels filled with smoking incense over my head as a blessing. A few friends have asked monastic nuns and/or monks to add my well-being into their daily ritualistic prayer.
With this, I opened my self to a practicing shaman from the Austin Shamanic Center in Texas. The healer, Christina Allen, holds an impressive resume of both academe and spiritual studies.
“Tell me about your condition,” she began our first session.
I recollected my mother’s early death, bits and pieces about my chaotic childhood into adulthood, my round of breast cancer and finally landing on uterine carcinosarcoma.
“The words that come to me are betrayal and wounding of the feminine,” Allen responded to my soap opera life.
Well, yes. I’d agree betrayal and my struggle to take pride in my femininity is a part of my makeup. After all, I was called a “fucking whore” at age 8 by my new stepmother while my father sat in his lounger watching football and gulped a cold beer. I was bounced about assorted family and overheard a relative discussing me as a “problem child.”
In fact, other than those respite years with my godparents, I raised myself.
“Where was your father during this time?” Allen asked.
I had to think about that. Where was he? Like a film in fast-forward, I reviewed the emotional moments he showed up during my childhood. Our time together usually left me in tears. “You’re nothing but a cry baby,” he growled.
This continued into adulthood. I spare you novel-length details. But when Allen asked, “Did you ever feel worthy around your father?” something like a bomb went off within me. It all came together, like a dark comic strip that begins with my father’s impregnation of my mother three months before they wed, and his ongoing anger over her pregnancy with me; two days after my mother’s death he literally ripped me from my grandmother’s arms, tossed me in his new Chevy, and left me with a couple whom I never saw once in my near two-years of life. It was months before I saw him again.
Up until a few months ago, my secret self held onto the moniker, I am not worthy. My father made it clear that I was not worthy of his care and love.
But I am worthy! As I seek to kindle the fire of worthiness, I decided to finish and publish my book and not hold it back because I’m not worthy. I now fight this dis-ease because I am worthy.
Covid-19 and all of the unknowns about this virus halted my shamanic sessions for the time being. My sense is that big changes have begun, so I returned to my protection of home and family and battened down the hatches.
Meanwhile I forgive my father for his parental truancy. Surely, he grew up with issues that turned him into the father that left me behind. I’m okay and have managed to make my way through life with a modicum of success. Yet, I can’t help wonder what life could have been if I had felt worthy enough to go forward with my dreams and ambitions. And the big question remains, would I have better treated my inner femininity as if I was worthy?
Father’s Day remains hollows to me, other than my endless gratitude to Spouse who for over 30 years, splendidly continues the role of father to my daughters.
What to do with the five-page handwritten letter to my father? It will go up in smoke. My left hand will grasp the shamanic black stone as I imagine the healer drawing living energy about my body, singing the song of ancient Peruvian healers to the rhythms of a rattle and feathers to clear the space around me that opens the door to unseen spiritual healing, because I am worthy.