Mostly everyone who knows me very well knows that I was raised by my father (who adopted me at age 6, and who is no holds bar, my DAD... he raised me and I am so grateful for him) and my mother who I was born by. Less know of my biological father and his sometimes serious mental illness. This caused him to not be very keen at being a husband to my mother who left him, nor a father to me who he lost custody of, nor a son to my grandmother who he continued to abuse until almost the day she died.
|Bill and I in 1976.|
I will say that while I had plenty of anger towards him for many years, mostly he just made me feel sad. And that is primarily the emotional response he elicits from me to this day. Sad to see such wasted life, (but really, was it wasted?) such anger and violence living within such amazing potential. He really is very intelligent, but it sits idle when it could have been something spectacular. Then I remember that this is his journey and I truly don't know the bigger purpose of that, and try to give up on controlling it once again.
And I also know that this is part of my journey in life, to come to peace in my own heart about mental illness and homelessness. To know how much I can help...and when I should stop. Two things that send me over the edge in this world are these two issues and I've always been drawn to both. Oddly enough, I was drawn to the issue of homelessness from a much younger age. And it ends up that my biological father becomes homeless many years later. Nothing in this life is a coincidence, in my opinion. These are all lessons and there is always a space in the darkness in which to grow toward the light.
Life doesn't seem fair sometimes. But we do the best that we can with what we have. I have tried to make his life better. But I think as many of you also know, you cannot control what anyone else does no matter how hard you try. And in the end, I exist because of him. And I know that he loves me, even though he couldn't be a father. He's part of what made me who I am, and I am grateful.
Sometimes people make mistakes, sometimes people can't be what you want them to be for you. But they're not here to "be" for you. Sometimes we can't be what we expect ourselves to be. But, at the end of the day, I know that I have tried my best to be true to myself and to be as good as I can to those in my life. I believe we owe it to ourselves and the ones we love to show up and follow our hearts and sing true.
For the last ten years, when I see a homeless person on the street, I see this man first. And, then I see a human being with a story all of their own. You have not walked in these human being's shoes, nor do you know if you would have survived as well if you did. I know that is one thing that I have always thought about my personal connection to homelessness. I could not have survived as well in his shoes. You may not understand homeless people or feel comfortable around them but please try to hold your judgement. None of us can judge them. We haven't been there. They are meant to have their own journey in this life...and maybe some of them are meant to make ours more complex, more authentic, more meaningful.
If you truly open your eyes and your heart, who knows what you may see? I see a fragile yet strong human being. And, if nothing else...that's enough to be kind. To forgive. To love.
|Bill and I in Sacramento in 2013.|