On a warm, clear California morning, the Saturday before Father's Day 2017, a group of therapist colleague pals and I gathered for brunch.
After several months of dealing with a challenging landlord and his stressful office construction project, we decided to meet up at a cafe near our office for some well deserved "us" time to relax and connect.
I had just seen the wildly popular "Wonder Woman" movie with Gal Gadot the week prior. Still on a "high" from the girl power message of this movie, I found some cute Wonder Woman sunglasses on Amazon and wanted to bring each lady a pair as a fun gift.
(P.S. Go see this movie if you haven't - it really does rock!)
After a relaxing mimosa brunch, lots of shared laughter, stories, and good vibes, I decided to take a stroll around the village to do some shopping. As I stood at the counter of a favorite shop to check out, the sweet cashier enthusiastically stated/asked, "Have a wonderful father's day tomorrow! Any special plans?"
My usual go to has always been to smile and say, "Thank you and same to you. No, no special plans." However, something inside me gently shifted, I felt a nudge to respond more truthfully this time. I took a deep breath and with a smile, simply stated, "Thank you, that is very kind of you to say. However, I do not celebrate Father's day. But if you do, I hope you have a really fun day!"
As a woman who did not have a healthy father (see my blog, "Not All Father's Deserve to have a Father's Day for more on this) this response felt more authentic and self honoring to my heart.
The cashier looked a little startled, and then suddenly teared up and said to me, "You have no idea how much that means to me to hear you say this. For 38 years I've felt like I was supposed to say "happy fathers day", but I had a rotten father who was a really nasty person and I don't celebrate the day either. Thank you so much for saying this; I feel free not to have to say that ever again! Hope that wasn't T.M.I"
And, with that, she launched herself from behind the counter and gave me a big hug (my turn to be startled).
As we chatted for another moment, a young man in his early 30s-ish sidled up to us and said, "Not trying to eavesdrop or butt in, but I don't celebrate either. My partner and I give each other happy dog dad day cards, but my own dad was a jerk, and my partner's dad rejected him, and I think you ladies are beyond for talking about this."
This led to a beautiful conversation where I learned more about them, and also shared that many years ago therapy helped me move through and heal my own dad trauma.
I was also able to give both of these folks book recommendations and referrals to colleagues at my office for their own support. And I was happy to extend some time to answer questions about the work that I do, and the work that my colleagues are doing to help others heal their own father trauma.
It was what I call a "Gift in the Wound" moment.
And now, here it is, the morning of Father's Day. This is no longer a day I dread because I have made peace with my past and have found comfort in the loving relationships I have in my life. However, because this is a day that can be so challenging for so many, I thought to pass this story along here for those of you who may not celebrate this day either.
If you are a person reading this who also experienced a painful relationship with your own father, or never knew your father, I truly hope this helps you heal just a little bit. Please know that you are not alone on this day. There are many fatherless daughters and sons who stand in support and encouragement.
If you are a woman who would like to connect with an authentic, inclusive, kind and healing group of other wonder women, please join us this fall for the Shine Women's Retreat in Laguna Beach, CA. for a weekend of connection, restoration and fun where every woman is warmly welcomed.
Finally, for those who do celebrate Father's day, and were blessed with a great dad, may you enjoy your day, and/or memories of your dad if he has passed. I love knowing that there are wonderful fathers being celebrated in this world today, even if that was not my experience.
And for those of you who do not celebrate Father's Day for whatever reason, may you also have a wonderful Sunday doing whatever it is that makes your heart happy and at peace.
I'll sign off by quoting these wise words from Wonder Woman herself:
“YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU BELIEVE.
YOU HAVE GREATER POWERS THAN YOU KNOW.”
As always, you are welcome to share in the comments below.
This is a safe space and all voices are respected. Each story is important and powerful and helps light the path of healing.
Wishing you a very peaceful day. And to you dads out there who are doing it right, enjoy your special day - we need more examples like you!
P.S. Here we are at our Wonder Woman Brunch - silly sunglasses and all!