Invisible no longer
[The second orchid Dick and Nelle sent me for Christmas this year. Dick observed me weep with joy at the beautiful orchids in Longwood Gardens many years ago, when we took him there for a visit, and sent me my first one that same Christmas]
One of the things I love about my father-in-law is that I never feel invisible with him. I mean, the man reads my books in order to get to know me better – and not for any other reason! He does not read my writings to monitor what I say, or to check the validity of my statements and feelings. He reads me in order to get to know me better.
Yesterday, as I was quietly trying to slip out to feed the birds, so as not to wake him and Nelle, I noticed he was lying on the couch in the soft, dawn light reading my latest book. When I returned, he told me he had read the introduction (my chapter), and then made another comment, which showed me he understood something very important about me, and his son.
He notices me.
All my life, I have struggled with feeling invisible. Either, trying to make myself more invisible, or the opposite – doing all manner of actings-out in order to be noticed or acknowledged. Indeed, just recently I realized that it is critical to understand what we all did as young children in order to gain our parents' attention. Those patterns of behavior we developed so long ago, are some of the hardest to let go, and as we become older we need them less and less. In fact, I have started talking about this in my recent presentations. Now, when I ask teachers to consider the ways they were punished as young children, I go one step further, and ask them to think about what they did to gain attention. It becomes a fascinating discussion. Especially since teachers are always complaining that children do this or that "just to get attention." After our discussion about what they did as children to get attention, I am amazed how quickly they understand how important it is for children not to feel invisible. Indeed, we all needed attention, acknowledgement, or validation. It is just a matter of finding out what we had to do in order to attain it!
And, with my father-in-law, I do not have to do very much for him to notice me. Indeed, I just have to be me. He simply cares enough to observe, notice, and makes an effort to find out more.
Today is his birthday. I dedicate this post to him with great love and gratitude that he is in my life, and, indeed, in my home at this very moment.
[Dick fishing in Idaho]
Happy birthday to a father I finally have the very good fortune, and honor of sharing!
A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Happiness is …