The boys have the week off, so we decided to go to my parent’s cabin in Tahoe. After inviting 3 other families to join us and confirming the dates with my mom, I almost screamed when I found out a few days before departing that my mom had given the cabin away to some friends from Hawaii.
Reading the remorseless email from my mom, I felt the same dismay I experienced as a child when she stood with her arms crossed while my step-father beat me. Luckily, I had just returned from a weekend at Interchange Counseling Institute devoted to trauma. During the weekend, I had released any need for love from my parents.
Working through my childhood traumas, I realized that I did not need the love and approval of not only my mom and step-father, but also my deceased father. In one exercise in somatic healing, I role played with Meg, an intuitive and powerful woman counselor. She played my father who was leaving for his second tour of duty in Vietnam. I gripped her legs with all my strength begging my father not to abandon me.
“Don’t leave me, Dad. He’s going to beat me,” I pleaded desperately.
Meg wedged her free leg on my shoulder and tried to wiggle loose.
I tackled her and screamed with anger, “Daddy, why are you abandoning me?”
The three year old me could not have understood my father’s obsession to be the first Asian American General in the US Army. My child-like mind hadn’t experienced the kind of trauma that had blindsided my father when as an American citizen, he was imprisoned in the Internment Camps during World War II.
Looking back, I understand why my father felt the need to die for this country. In a way, he sacrificed himself for me and my brothers, so that we might some day be completely accepted as Americans.
“I love you, son,” Meg whispered as she stopped struggling to escape and chose to embrace me.
After the 30 minutes of struggling, tackling, crying, and loving with Meg, I felt lighter. A space opened up for me to love my father in a way I hadn’t since I was three. Experiencing these insights in both mind and body set me free from reacting to old distress patterns.
My mother’s decision to allow my step-father to physically abuse my older brother and I might have been born from similar trauma. Her decision to withdrawal emotionally from her sons might have been a self-preservation strategy born the day my father went missing in action in Vietnam.
I choose to love my mother, father, and step-father regardless of the decisions they have made in the past. I choose to love my country regardless of the decisions it made in the past. True freedom lies in loving the present moment without resentment from past events.
It occurred to me that being “born again” might refer to becoming one’s own father and mother–from releasing the people who happened to bore us from the socially constructed illusions of what makes a good parent. I love my parents, but I no longer need their love or approval. As cliche as it sounds, I am my own man.