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How to Honor My Dad's Life With My Own

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There's no beginning to this post. If you've watched The Good Place, it will be a bit "Jeremy Beremy," but I'll try to be as straightforward as I can. My entire life has been ruled by what I "should" do, how to do things, say things the right way. Coupled with a healthy dose of consistent depressive disorder, I've been treading water most of my life to remain functional and independent, which I've been successful at. Good job, good house, a cat that mostly likes me. However, treading water doesn't lead to fulfilling or satisfying relationships with others and it doesn't lend itself to dreaming big or focusing on myself. Through all of that the one constant I had in unconditional love was my father. Always level headed, with a smile or a hug. Supportive and kind. Funny and loving. Although, I couldn't (or didn't want to) tell him everything that was going not so right in my life, I felt like I could be myself with him. I felt safe. 

My dad died nearly a month ago without warning. He had no health issues that we were aware of. But, there was a ticking time bomb and we didn't know enough to stop it. If you remember how John Ritter died, a faulty aorta which can lead to a fast and unexpected death. My dad died the same way. Looking back, the family is of the thought that both my father's dad and grandfather probably had the same issue (they died at 55 and 65).

I didn't talk to my dad regularly, but I would go out once a month to have dinner at my parent's house. We went to religious services together a few times a year. Once or twice a year he would drive out to the City when my mom went to visit friends out of town and we would go for dinner at a restaurant he liked and sometimes out to a movie. But, because he wasn't a daily/weekly presence in my life, it's easy to forget (or ignore) he's gone. I sometimes have to force myself to remember. I'm lucky in that I do have two voicemails on my phone, as well as some recordings he made and even some old family movies of him as a child.

But, lately I've been thinking that it's time to take ownership of my life and move on from the things I should do and focus more on what I want to do. That's what he wanted more than anything - to be happy. And since I haven't been happy for so long, I feel even more compelled to make that happen. It's a double edged sword. Finding my joy now that he's gone and I can't share it with him is heartbreaking. But not finding my joy now that he's gone feels like I'm not honoring him, that I'm taking his legacy for granted. There's the added concern that I won't be able to find my joy at all because I'm just such a mess as a person. 

I have a therapist who I like and I've been circling around this topic for a couple of weeks, though this is the first time I'm articulating it. I thought it might be helpful to get input from others who might be in the same boat and how you picked up the torch (so to speak).

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13 hours ago, Bing said:

move on from the things I should do and focus more on what I want to do.

Absolutely!  I agree with this 100%!

I don't recall living as I "should" (from my parents) but rather choosing my own path.  I did go through the "shoulds" from church teachings that I grew up with although not instilled by my parents because they didn't attend church, I broke free from that in my 40s, and attend a different church now that doesn't indoctrinate like the other one did, I find much more freedom/grace in this one to be who I am created to be!

How to pick up the torch...give yourself permission...

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