In connecting with some of my closest friends recently, the concept of “and” versus “or” has been a recurring theme. What exactly do I mean by this vague intro? I’m referring to our humanness, the dichotomy and the inherent juxtapositions that live within us. I’m sure many of you can remember being taught a version of the following: a human is either good or bad, rich or poor, healthy or sick, happy or sad, honest or deceitful, attractive or smart, etc. These may not just have been taught to us verbally, but also in the messages that surrounded us in headlines, TV shows, magazines, school literature, et al.
But here’s the thing, I can’t think of anyone who at some point in their life has either been this or that. Today, I’ve been both happy and sad, and I’ve often been known to laugh while crying. Although I am an incredibly honest person, I have had to use the lies of omission to protect myself in unhealthy work environments, and I’ve also learned I often lie to myself, mainly about my own potential.
I really needed to use and embrace the “and” this last Father’s Day. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles my dad had many good traits, but he also had many not great ones.
As Father’s Day approached, friends sent love and concern as to how I was doing on this first holiday without him. But I wasn’t sad. My dad was a mean and selfish person to be around later in life, and I had to be hypervigilant as to my own behavior so as not to upset his apple cart. The daily stress to my mom and myself was palpable and made a lasting impact.
I realized, even though I loved my dad, I did not miss him or long for his presence on Father’s Day. This realization broke my heart, but it also opened me up to see my dad in his totality. He wasn’t given the tools to cope and age with grace, so I know he did the best he could with what he had. From what I learned in watching his downturn as he aged, it empowered me to focus on the tools that would solidify my foundation, not decay it.
Seeing my dad for all his “ands” enabled me to learn from him rather than put him on a pedestal. It doesn’t mean the pain isn’t still there for me or that the love is any different, but in many senses I am grateful.
In what area of your life can you see the picture more fully and embrace the “and”? Feel free to share with us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.