In the Shadow of Our Fathers

In The Shadow of Our Fathers

“The past isn’t dead; It isn’t even past.”

William Faulkner

Some Recent Reflections:

A simple visit home. Family. Mother. Sister. Father.

As my plane takes off, I head back home. My new home. Far away from what I knew as a boy.

I leave burdened. Full of anger and sorrow. So much I wanted to say. And didn’t.

My anguish blossomed long ago in old caverns full of dark memories. Not of abuse – at least not overtly. My parents tried hard – at least as hard as they knew how.

But a living, growing soul needs to feed on light – nurtured by parents who care for your well being but also model and teach you how to thrive. How to see yourself full of possibilities. Not disabilities.

I look in the mirror these days and see my father. His worries and anxieties carved in my face as if chiseled by an invisible hand – his hand.

I now wonder what I’m made of. Am I really a man or the young boy back on the farm?

I don’t know if my father really knows me. Father memories seem to matter more to me these days – more than my mother memories.

I have tried so hard to grow up – to stand tall and confident. In my worst times, I see a darker side of myself – imprisoned by beliefs that stop me short and limit hope. A life sentenced and doomed to repeat old patterns of doubt – self-doubt.

I use to watch an old show called the “Rifleman.” Story of a young man raising his boy – a single parent. This man – the rifleman – taught his boy love and integrity – he fired on anything in the way of his boy and the life they had together

What an inheritance this young kid would someday have. His father’s rifle. Full of power and wisdom. A final gift to his boy – who would someday learn to fire just like his old man.

I watch my own boys grow. One older, one much younger. I hope to give them gifts they will never forget – that speak of my own love and integrity.

I wonder if I have a rifle to give them.

As my plane lands, I contemplate whether I’m made of the right stuff. Enough strength and nurture to win my boys over – and convince them they are great boys and men. Full of potential.

I worry about whether I’ve really grown up – do I have what it takes to fight and win? To be a father who gives his boys grit and resolve?

Have I grown up enough to be a partner to my wife – the kind of man she can respect and admire?

Have I matured into a man of stature or do I mostly resemble the hurt kid who grew up silent – holding in his hurt and fearing the man who raised him?

How far have I really come in life?

What kind of man have I become? I would give anything to know I have moved past boyhood fears and into the confidence that great men possess.

But maybe I am just a reflection of the manhood my father past on to me. Maybe when I look in the mirror and see my father’s face, I am really him.



About Doug and Leslie Gustafson, MFT's

As writers, speakers, therapists and coaches, our mission centers on working with men, women and couples who want a more fulfilling life by living out their true vision and passion. We have written the book Amazing Intimacy - Create A Spectacular Marriage In and Out of the Bedroom as a how to guide for love, sex and passion. Ultimately, we all have an incredible potential we have only partially discovered and fulfilled. This brief journey in life gives us the opportunity to realize and pursue this exciting potential.
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