Can we fast forward through Father’s Day, please?
It’s Father’s Day. It’s marketed as a day of joy and celebration of fathers and many of you will be celebrating joyfully with loved ones on this day. And yet today may anything but a day of joy and celebration. It may be a day of grieving or a day of haunting memories. Many of you (and myself included) will be struggling today for so many different reasons, whether it’s about your own father and/or the father of your child(ren), or your role as a father. For so many reasons, this day can be a difficult reminder or “trigger” of the passing of a beloved father, or a painful, difficult reminder of divorce, abuse, strained relationships, infertility, absentee fathers, fathers who rejected LGBT+ children, or complicated situations such as step-families, foster families, adoption. Perhaps there are other reasons not even listed here. We cannot know all of one another’s stories, nor do we need to. We can know that today, like all holidays or days of honoring, can be a day many of us wish we could push “fast forward” through. And as “Debbie Downer” as this sounds, it is important to be aware of this because, if not you, or like you, likely someone you know is silently suffering and we can be mindful and compassionate in our interactions. Before we automatically say “Happy Father’s Day” or tomorrow “How was your Father’s Day?”, can we greet someone in a different way? “Hey! How’s it going today?” “What did you do this weekend?”
Fortunately I have been practicing mindfulness and compassion work long enough to help me to cope with the “triggers” of trauma and be with arising difficult emotions. My mindfulness practice and training has helped me immeasurably which is why I love to teach and coach others. Some of the additional ways I personally cope is to stay away from social media around holidays or Father’s Day to avoid seeing all the ways others are celebrating in joy. It can trigger my haunting memories and spin me in a direction I do not wish to go. Instead, I practice being my own inner superhero and partake in the things that bring compassion, love, and peace to my mind and heart today, like every day. I will also practice gratitude for what is present in my life that provides joy.
Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, whom I have mentally adopted or chosen as my father figure, said:
“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”
“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
“There is no way to peace – peace is the way.”
You, too, can always return to your own inner resources of love and compassion to be with difficult emotions. You are not alone. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be at ease. May this day, and every day be filled with love, including loving yourself from your own well of well-being. Please let me know if I can help in any way. ~Dee DiGioia
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