Of Love and Liberation


Whose love did you crave the most growing up?

Who do you think you needed to be in order to get that love that you craved?

In A Tribe Called Bliss, Lori Harder writes, "I find myself sitting in a sea of people all gathered together inside the LA Convention Center in hopes to take our lives and business to new levels. I love learning and am an eternal student of life, so I eat this stuff up. The facilitator is tall, good-looking, captivating, and ever-so-slightly intimidating, so we are all listening intently. We’re talking about why we have the desire for certain things and titles and why we have the motivations we have and he asks the question “Whose love did you crave the most growing up?” I sit there thinking for a minute . . . Well, I think I craved my mom’s love the most, for some reason. Then he asks, “Who do you think you needed to be in order to get that love that you craved?”

You say yours, I'll say mine.

Three.

Two.

One.

My dad.

Who do you think you needed to be in order to get that love that you craved?

Here's my story.

As a child, I adored my mother. I wanted to be just like her and have 5 children. I wanted to use cloth diapers and have a daycare. I wanted to read books to my children and cook baked beans. I had a very, very detailed plan.

When I was a teenager my parents found Amway. My dad was committed. He had all the tapes and would even pay us $5 for each book we read from the Amway list. One night, dressed in a white long-sleeved collared shirt and black dress pants - and black dress socks - he stood in our living room, in front of his portable white board and gave me "The Presentation".

At some point during "The Presentation" he looked me in the eye and asked, "What's your dream?".

Without hesitation and with much excitement about his rare and genuine interest in my thoughts and my dreams I answered, "I want to be a mom!"

I'll never forget how he put the cap back on his dry erase marker and said sternly, "That's not a dream."

Of course now, as a 40-something-year-old I understand that when you're married just a few days after turning 17, have your fist baby less than 90 days later and have 5 children by age 28 (which is what my parents did), the romantic notion of growing up and being a parent as the ultimate dream is a little - less than amazing. I can see that now.

But when I go back to that night, sitting on the couch and remember the way he pursed his lips and shook his head and capped his pen and raised his eyebrows and told me that being a mom is not a dream - I know that is the night I became lost to myself and lost in a sea of trying to be everything that everyone else said or thought I should be. All the while trying to figure out what I could do or be to be loved by my dad.

A few weeks after he passed away I sat on the phone crying to my sister Kate.

"I'll never know" I sobbed, "If he thought I was a good mother."

That dream I had since childhood. The only thing I ever wanted to be good at. The part of me I thought he rejected.

"Oh, My Dah-ling," she said (She is from New Zealand, so you can imagine the accent).

"Dahling, my dad didn't think I was a good mother. In fact he told me I was a terrible mother!"

I gasped.

She laughed.

"But that didn't matter, because I wasn't his mother. I was his daughter. And he absolutely loved me as a daughter."

Yes.

Yes.

I've looked at the data (letters, cards, books) and over and over the evidence points to this truth.

My dad loved me as a daughter.

In the moments and days and weeks following my conversation with Kate, I leaned in to the truth of being loved - full stop - with no requirements of what I needed to be more or less of in order to attain that love. And as I did I found freedom to explore what it means to be me. Yes, I had to learn to be myself as I un-learned being what I thought everyone else wanted or needed me to be. Being myself requires almost daily exploration and discovery because it has been so very, very long since I've allowed myself to completely do so. It's a wonderful learning process full of curiosity and grace. It's catching myself over and over with questions like,

"Did I just say Yes again out of fear of rejection when I really meant No?"

"Did I just say No because I am being stubborn and I really meant Yes?"

"Am I coming at this from a place of abundance? Or a place of need?"

"Does this feel like I am growing into more like me? Or am I hiding?"

"Is this my authentic voice?"

Authenticity - yes - you know me and root words. The root of this word is author. To be authentic is to be the author of your own story. To live authentically is to actively and creatively design something - that is you!

Dear Heart,

You can stop trying so hard to be the person you think you need to be in order to be loved and accepted.

You

are

loved.

Period.

As I was writing this, I was listening to piano hymns on YouTube in the background, and this song came on.

Thank you, Dad.