The first time I heard this song it literally took my breath away. I am reminded of it as we approach another Father's Day observance. It's never been a favorite holiday for me. Not that I don't love my father. Not that at some level he didn't love me. He just never really knew me.
My father contracted presenile dementia and didn't know me by the time I was 15. When he was still healthy and I was quite young he was already grappling with this second child who was displaying obvious gender dysphoria. My father was a simple man from a country upbringing. He was a man of great integrity, but also of strong programming about what was right and what was wrong. There was no acceptable tribal program that explained how I was expressing. He wanted me to fit in. To buck up and to face the world as the example of the masculine power that he was demonstrating. He was a star athlete with a son who couldn't catch a ball if his life depended on it. He wanted me on the field or court while I longed to be at the barre or on the stage. I recall watching the inner battle between the love he felt and the aversion he barely concealed.
Scriptures tell us that the sins of the father are revisited on the son. Properly understood this means that the tribal perceptions that are passed on generation to generation often cause enormous pain to those who come along and do not fit the mold. To most the tribal program is nothing less than survival. My father wanted me to in reality hide what he feared I was in order to survive in this world. That came from caring. That came from love. It also came from generational ignorance. Neither one of my parents fully accepted my expression. Neither one of them wanted for me the pain of how society would judge and revile me. I do not fault them for that. I know they did the best they could from the parental programming they themselves were reared.
I really am not the son my father wanted, though he did not live long enough to fully know the extent of that. I embrace today that I was not born to be the son my wanted. I was born to be the son I am. I was born to love and to accept my father the way he was. I was not born to fit in or to pass. This realization is giving me a Father's Day in which I celebrate the Dad I lost so long ago. To celebrate the step-father that embraces me and my husband exactly as we are. To celebrate the father energy in me which is known and actualized as I choose to show up authentically, honestly, radically as who I am.
This Father's Day I show up for myself, owning and embracing the perceptual system into which I was born, while also transcending its bigoted and ignorant limitations. With neither parent left on earth I choose to hold for myself the very best that they had to offer me. I choose to focus on the level of love that they were able to express. And I choose to parent myself in ways that are nurturing, loving, compassionate, and wise.
I am not my father's son, and in embracing that fact, suddenly I am.