I was either going to be obedient and submit to the will of the Lord of my life—Jesus, or my will, ruling it myself: sacrificing the joy and wholeness of my being. I needed my relationship with my daddy, this was healthy. And had not our years of estrangement been resolved, the attitude of resentment, uncertainties, assumptions, fear, lack of peace and all of their cousins would’ve transmitted to the next generation—my children and their posterity. Daddy wasn’t bulging for he was set in his ways. Someone had to be the “big” person and STOP the madness: that was me. During those years, I sought not psychiatric attention. Conversely, I sought the face of the Lord. Yes, by His grace He did help me. (Read more in my forthcoming novel).
The letter continues . . .
In line with this, theorists claim that “participation by the father in a secure and consistent relationship with his daughter, which is emotionally warm, stable and democratic, seems to provide a highly significant ingredient for feminine development. Such paternal behavior as consistent discipline, for example, seems associated with affiliations in young girls”. Also, the more consistent the interplay and interactions involved between the father and daughter, her feminine role becomes defined and “the more adequate will be her identity”.
As a result of the absence and lack of the different paternal facets, this created an impact on and influenced my personality development. Moreover, during that time what you witnessed in my behavior was self-withdrawal, feelings of rejection, along with overt depression. That explains why I in all probability acted out aggressively a lot of times and chose to seek affective relationships with other males, regrettably experiencing intimacy and sensational seeking in an improper way. Psychoanalysts theorize that a father’s reinforcement is significant in his daughter’s personality development. Also, they say that a father is responsible for establishing the development of sex-role learning in his relationship with his daughter. Should there be any lack the daughter’s inclined to gravitate to sensational seeking . In short, sensational seeking refers to an individual’s behavior as he or she experiences by gravitating to objects or things, real or imagined, for gratification . For example, I experimented by smoking cigarettes, marijuana and drinking hard liquor amongst other things, a type of pseudo gratification.
I’m definitely not implying or projecting fault. Conversely, the gathering of this data is a matter of reclaiming behavioral and personality adjustment. I simply learned how to “change old habits of discounting” which means that I was determined to turn a negative situation into a positive one. I would subsequently accomplish this modification by “taking responsibility for my behavior and transacting in to an adult in nourishing ways”.
Neither one of us knew at that time that a “fathers own history is a significant factor in determining his behavior. And little did we know that inadequately fathering or paternal insufficiency may be a reflection of underlying conflicts with his relationship with his wife or would be a result of his unresolved problems with his own parents”. Currently, I am reading this book called, “Born to Win” and according to the authors they assert that “[a]t still other times they, [meaning the parents] use behavior from their own childhood that is, withdrawing…manipulating, etc.”. In essence daddy, what we experienced during our childhood development into adulthood situations was the basis of generational patterns of behavior that neither one of us was aware of. Nonetheless, I thank Father God that I made it through my adolescent life course experiences. But that just marked the first painfully emotional hurdle, there was another imminent.
Daddy, I must say that my young adulthood course of life was the most excruciating transitional and transactional time for me. Not only was I conflicted in my emotions towards you, at times I still needed your sound advice. In addition, I graduated from high school; shortly thereafter I became pregnant and then as you know, was married. It was also sort of a paradoxical moment in time for me because I had to make the decision either to repeat a negative, destructive script of parenting or modify my parental behavior. After all, I had to consider my family then.
Looking back, I was so naïve. I didn’t even know how to buy maternity clothes. I was fearful in many respects and aggressive. After your first grandchild was born, I subsequently had thoughts of and at times caught myself repeating the way I was raised. Theoretically, this condition is based on Transactional Analysis, a psychoanalytic term, but in this case refers to the “outward expression of the parent ego state”. You see a parent ego state “consists of any and all of the actual parent figures incorporated by a child”. This means that when you and I were children, we picked up behaviors, certain words, attitudes, dialogues, gestures, postures, stances and saw mental images of our parents or other significant adult figures that influenced our life. Then as we became adults, subconsciously we transacted those ego states from either our influencing parents or other influencing adult figures, for instance, a grandparent, aunt or uncle .
In other words, these influences from childhood have a tendency to emerge in our adult or parent phases. In line with this, the authors of the above-noted book stated that “[t]ransactions from the Parent are especially evident in child rearing. And in many cases people automatically tend to rear their children as they were reared”. Another important fact the authors asserted was, “[p]eople not only incorporated their parents’ behavior, but they also incorporate a set of parental messages that are later heard in their heads like tapes”.
For example, I thought yelling at my child while angry was normal because I heard and saw you do it. Yelling however, is an example of a child ego state manifesting from an adult’s body. As an adult, I heard what the inner parent was saying, “[b]ut most frequently the inner dialogue took place between the influencing parent and the child”. These are simply replays of what I saw expressed in your actions, instructions, etc.
Also during that time, the negative messages outweighed the positive ones. To add, I suffered with “conflicting inner dialogue” meaning that there was an ongoing battle between my parent or adult ego state and the child ego state. When I thought that my situation was getting better my stressors would increase. Subsequently, when I thought the mental conflicts were somewhat subdued, I found out that I was pregnant with our second child. I felt so helpless, because I didn’t know who to turn to. In moments of distress from my marriage or while disciplining our children, I sometimes responded via the child ego state or as a child. At other times I responded as an adult. As of this day daddy, this conflict still goes on, but the struggle isn’t as extreme, rather it’s more regulated. My behavior and outlook has been modified so much and I’ve helped so many people particularly females, with how to cope with their ego states and you would if on earth, be extremely proud of me.
In closing, I remember that day when you curiously asked me if I had graduated from college. I laughed so hard because you then swore up and down that you had in your home a copy of my college degree. Well daddy, I’m very well on my way to obtaining my degree. May 2012, I will participate in the University of Maryland, University College’s graduation ceremony. I must say that all of the self-help books, my college studies and empathetic college professors have helped me a great deal to accept those things that I could not change, and courage to change the things that I can regarding my personality. Father God is the source to all of that of course, and as you are well aware, that statement is an excerpt from **the Holy Scriptures.
As the curtains of heaven are gradually closing, I want you to know that I am not taking for granted the information I’ve shared with you. Undoubtedly, I am actualizing this wealth of knowledge as well as being a model for those whom I come in contact with, especially for your grand, great grand children and my supporting husband. I love you daddy, still I’m alright and headed in the right, positive direction. Goodbye daddy.
Thank you Father God for this opportunity to share this letter with my dad.
Sincerely with love,
Your beloved daughter, Joanna
**Reinhod Niebuhr, Philosopher