Wow so because I am going to post this letter I went back and revisited it. First of all this letter was written February 22nd 2016. It feels like lifetimes ago this happened. We reconnected on June 12, 2010, had a relationship via e-mail, never saw one another in person, until around January of 2014, and around that time I was at the height of discomfort with my disease and seeking understanding and lashing out at the things I couldn’t make sense of. It was around this time he cited that I was exhibiting frightening mental states on a public platform, and reminding him of my mother. And that was it for us. I didn’t have it in me anymore to be abandoned again. I chose not to abandon myself and my needs in the name of reducing anyone else’s discomfort.
I lost a relationship that I had always dreamt of with a father, I called off a wedding to a person who was the safest place I had, her and her family. I risked harming my children, and miles and miles of criticism from others. I was more alone than I have ever been in my life.
One of the things I didn’t realize until re-reading this today is that it was something in the book Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert that helped me write my way to my own closure. This morning as I am reading some of the things that felt so amazing to hear from him, and then some of the things I wrote, and some as we fought, it tears the wound right open.
John Rexford Wilson (my father) died on December 28th at 11 am. He died from tuberculosis at 70 years old. He did not believe in the healthcare system. My brother stated they would be scattering his ashes at the Grand Canyon, and that he would keep me updated. He didn’t. I was not included. Once again the illegitimate. But in the end I chose to let go of him or my ideas about him, and any relationship we did form, because it was the healthiest thing for me.
My mind is trying to tell me now as I read the few nice things he said to me (the things I would try and gather the crumbs of to make something whole that didn’t exist), that maybe if I wasn’t so difficult I could have maintained a relationship with him until he died. We could have left on good terms. Time and time again I see people as this their biggest fear when it comes to not abandoning themselves. But what if we have a negative interaction and then the person dies. Well that is exactly what happened here. But only if you focus on the time we were in contact. What about when we weren’t? Wasn’t that his responsibility? Wasn’t he the parent? He just spoke so pragmatically about it all, about how men are and in those days. Like no big deal. Like it wasn’t a big deal to me. He didn’t allow any space for my feelings, and this is why I’ve dedicated my life to trying to allow space for people’s feelings, and to have enough room by doing my own work to be able to do this. It has taken lifetimes of healing.
It is so interesting that all of this comes up for me at the Grand Canyon. I never even thought of this. It all just came together right now. And about how I just met Elizabeth Gilbert and thanked her and why I cried so hard when I did.
Here I am at the Grand Canyon, where my father’s ashes are possibly spread, and feeling all of these things, that I didn’t know where they were coming from.
Here it is, full circle.
I was reading the end of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic” this evening. The section on Trust. Where she speaks of the difference between martyrdom and the trickster and how to find “lightness” in the pursuit of your passion versus a commitment to “being the tortured artist”. I for very many years had been committed to my suffering. It is the only way I knew how to be until I didn’t. I have contemplated greatly over the subject of “too much introspection” and your words on the matter, and your feelings. I have gleaned a lot from that in terms of finding balance in my own life. I wanted to thank you for that. I even use it with my clients in private practice. It is true you can overthink. However I happen to appreciate the way that I think things through and it has served me in my pursuits.
Today I completed the first day (my orientation) at Wheeler clinic. I was recently hired as a senior clinician, heading a team of people in efforts to ease the transition of foster children who have struggled exceptionally into their new homes with their families. This is my first “big girl” job with a real salary and benefits and all of that good stuff. At 35 this is my first time knowing what it feels like to not struggle financially and to feel secure. In addition to this over the past couple of years I have done some amazing self work in leaving old wounds behind and finding a “lightness of being”, one that I never even imagined could exist. I feel as if I will finally write the way that I have always known is in me, I just have never trusted myself enough. Trust has not come easily for me. One of the most glorious parts of getting to talk to you was recognizing the writer in me that I believe came from you. I believe I have lots of parts genetically that came from you, and I am grateful for them.
In addition to the new position I have my own private practice that is thriving and for being a clinician fresh out of school I have a lot of people referring to me, and the consistent feedback is that I am helping people move further in their journey toward growth than they previously have been able to do. It is rewarding and I never would have gotten to this space without the entire process of self-doubt, fear, and a degree of introspection (not to be confused with rumination). Without that whole journey I would not be at the space I am in now. I was thinking about this tonight, and my heart got heavy. It got heavy because you’re missing out on all of it. This is not even the most important part of the greatness that I have created in my life. My children. I have 3 intelligent and phenomenal human beings that I helped create and they are beyond wonderful. Everyone feels their children are wonderful, as well they should, but these kids are so special. They bring so much to the world with their kind hearts and very bright minds, and that is just barely scratching the surface on them, and again you’re missing out on it. Then I thought to myself this is probably mostly a projection and not a reality because its all subjective to each person’s own human experience and I doubt that you feel or realize that you are missing out. Not because you don’t have the capacity, you most certainly do, but more because of your commitment to the choice you have made and as you told me at the time you were not interested in rehashing any of the past but only to move forward. I desperately thought I could be willing to take any amount of being allowed to know you no matter what the cost to me. But the process by which all of my feelings existed is natural, wondering about a great many things that I never understood is natural. It is not only natural but also warranted without it causing shame to me or that my process is invalid.
Of course I hurt. Of course I wondered why we were not in touch, or how you didn’t wonder about me and how I was doing. Of course I wondered if it was that necessary to never have contact with my mother again, to pay the ultimate price of not also being able to know me. Especially since those things never needed to be connected, they could always have been independent of one another, thought maybe that at one point felt impossible, or maybe that never mattered anyway and it really is more of just a choice of yours. Of course I wonder all of these things without it being shameful or wrong.
I could sit and tell you all the wonderful realizations I have had and sell you this idea of everything you are missing out on, but ultimately that process is about me and nothing to do with you and how you feel. The fact remains that I would try to be impressive to you in some ridiculous effort to feel loved. It’s what I’ve done with everyone I have ever come across to try and earn their affection with my merits and my effort. An exhausting pursuit to be sure, and also that has nothing to do with real love. Real love allows space for all of the parts of someone to come fully into their being in whatever process is needed. That is the kind of love I needed to find to become comfortable in my own skin. I had to stop searching for it from a million different resources that looked like a well in the middle of a desert, only to be dry at the bottom when I lowered the bucket. Ive been doing that process my whole life when all the while just over the next hill was an entire ocean. I am sailing right now and smiling and my heart is still heavy that you’ll never be on this boat with me. For whatever reason that is. I won’t tell myself its because I was too sensitive or I was out of line by expressing pain in any way shape and form. I won’t deny myself those feelings they are mine, and they are valid. But what I do take back is any amount of making you wrong or hanging onto any anger. I release myself from that prison. I don’t need to understand. I wanted to see or know or be a part of your process or feelings or anything with you. A romantic notion to be sure that is again more about me and my heart and the way that I work, than it is about anything I have missed out on. I am not missing anything and I do not need anything. I want to share my thoughts and my mind because it is the truth of my feelings and for no other reason than that.
As with most things in my life I moved very quickly through being terrified having Crohn’s Disease would turn me into my mother, or that it would ruin the rest of my life. At the time it felt like a death sentence, at the time I felt afraid and alone. I see that person now and only have compassion for her, a compassion that it appeared at the time you were not able to find. I would like to say i would just move forward and embrace your pragmatic probably well-meaning advice and renounce taking what happened so personally, but again that would deny myself the natural process I was having, and it would allow me to accept a relationship that was also unhealthy, one that was based on the convenience of you experiencing an aspect of me without knowing much about the real story, like reading only a chapter in a book and making a decision about it’s value. In real love we don’t get to weed out the undesirable aspects or parts of the story and keep the ones only that we want. If you need to chalk me up to emotionally unstable by association of your experience with my mother, if that is the process which you need who am I to stop you.
Amidst the wreckage of all of the old versions of me and many dysfunctional relationships has emerged a person who is powerfully influential to the world. A person who refuses not to feel every inch of everything even when it burns. I am a writer and I choose to only be grateful for getting some of that from you, but the credit for getting to the place where it can begin to come to life is all mine, and at least I get to know that. I get to know that. I will always wonder about a great many things with regard to you, but everything that truly matters is within me and I am ecstatic for this existence that I would not have without you. I can thank you for that regardless of what feelings may come and go.