Q: Sadly my father passed away recently and left everything to my half sisters, and nothing for me. I feel guilty because although I am grieving, I am also really angry. I always felt he was only ever proud of my half sisters and this has bought up lots of feelings from my childhood. How can I get over this feeling of inadequacy?
A: It’s hard enough losing a parent with all the grief and loss it entails. But having to deal with being left out of his will as well must have totally side-swiped you. No wonder you feel angry and confused. First of all I’d suggest you take some homeopathic Arnica (for the shock – it doesn’t matter if it’s weeks or even months afterwards) and some Ignatia (for the grief). You may find these remedies intensity your feelings of hurt and grief but that’s fine – let it all out. You probably need to cry and sob and rage and scream for a bit.
Then, when you feel ready, I’d suggest you ask this question. Am I willing to give my father control of my life? Who knows why your father behaved the way he did and, at some point, you may be able to feel compassion for a man who clearly did not know how to love unconditionally. However for now you need to take care of yourself.
People can say and do horrible things; they can be cruel and unfair. But, ultimately, it is up to us whether we allow them to have power over us. It is our choice whether to believe what they say and let it ruin our lives, or whether we turn round and say, ‘What you believe or think of me is up to you. I want no part of it.’
And yes, this applies just as much when someone is dead as when they’re alive.
It might be worth working with a psychotherapist or counselor to unravel the tangle of emotions you’re feeling. I also heartily recommend the Penninghame Process – who offer week-long intensives that can unravel painful relationships and less than idyllic childhoods.
You may find it helpful to work with those childhood feelings of inadequacy. Imagine yourself as a young girl – a beautiful, innocent little girl. What would you say to that child? Maybe write her a letter pouring out how you feel, looking back at your childhood, at what she went through.
Another exercise I find useful is called ‘cutting the ties’. Imagine yourself sitting in one circle, your father in another. You can talk to him but he can’t reach you. Tell him exactly how you feel. Now pause and see if he wants to speak back. Sometimes this can be hugely revealing. Listen. Wait. See what comes up. Now realise that you and he are tied together by a cord that stretches from your solar plexus to his. Tell him it’s time to cut the tie, so you can be free to live your own life, by your own rules. Take a pair of imaginary scissors and cut the cord. Try not to cut it with anger but with a sense of freedom. He no longer has any power over you.
Now move on with your own wonderful life.