Sunday, September 18, 2011

9/19/11—Being Just Like Dad

Today's Draw: The Emperor from the Llewellyn Tarot. What were the qualities your father wrote upon the slate of your life? Are you flattered to think you might be like him, warts and all? Would you proud to have someone like him as your mate? Or is it all more complicated than that?

I don't like the Emperor. And it's not because he's an authority figure and I'm a rebel. Part of it is because he's the essence of all that is masculine, so much so that he always comes off to me like a manly man on testosterone. TOO male. Which is a total turnoff for me. 

Of course, this is just my interpretation of him. The generally accepted interpretation is an authoritative figure. A man of power and leadership. Protection. Leadership. And, yes, a strong masculine image. 

Another way the Emperor is usually described is as a father figure. And that's where the other part of my issue with him comes in, especially when he comes up in my readings for myself. When I think of my father, I think of a man who was largely absent growing up. He was in the military and, a couple of times, he spent one-year tours away from the family. Other than that, he traveled a lot. And worked very hard. So he wasn't around. And when he was around, he was a pretty intimidating figure. 

To be clear, my father was a good man. He saw his role as a provider, not as a nurturer. And he provided for us well. He rose to the top of his command and retired as a two-star general. But while my mother was the disciplinarian and could give a good walloping, my father was the one that scared the shit out of us...haha. I don't recall him ever raising a hand to anyone, but they somehow managed to instill within us a fear of what might happen if he did. So you just never pushed anything so far that you might find out.

Also, in many ways he wasn't the father I would have picked for myself. I would have picked a father who was more attentive and involved in the family dynamic. Even when he was around, his head was somewhere else. Or he was fixing one of the cars. Most of what concerned him, as I said before, was providing for our family. That's what men of his generation knew to do. Expectations are different these days. In his way, he did better than his best to give us what he thought was his job to give us. On top of that, he was a faithful and affectionate husband to my mother and highly respected among his peers. So I don't resent him. I got my work ethic from him. My analytical mind. My charm and sense of humor. So many gifts. But still, I have to say, I didn't get what I wanted when it came to having a father who made me feel valued and loved. 

So there it is. And for many years I felt conflicted about feeling that way. But I'm coming to own that now. We can have someone in our life who we know gave all they knew to give, and still not have it be the right kind of giving for us...still not have it be enough. We don't have to walk around and pretend our parents were perfect. We can acknowledge them and see them for who they were without all the polite whitewashing that happens throughout their lives and continues long after they're dead. People are not just one thing or another. They're a whole bouquet of things. And my father can still be a respected, honorable leader, while at the same time being an emotionally negligent father. No whining or blame. Just a truth that feels better to me than the whitewashed truth, because the whitewashed truth does not honor my reality. And growing up in a situation where the reality I wanted for myself wasn't honored, it's up to me to honor it for myself now. 

So this is the stuff I think of when I get the Emperor card in a reading. I dread getting it in a love reading, while most women would be happy to get it. But a man fully like my father wouldn't be an acceptable mate for the woman I am today. Many of his qualities are great, but I want someone who's present and honors my world in the way I would honor his. And when I get the card in a personal reading, I cringe, because, again, I think of my father and all the qualities of his—positive and negative—I've inherited. I can't look at this card without thinking "powerful, authoritative and absent." 

And it's that last part that, even though he's been deceased half my life, still "hurts" a little. I wish I could say differently, but I can't. I feel it so deeply wrote on the slate of my life that the echoes of it still hold their consequences today. And, hey, everyone's got something like this...some scribble cast early in life that still holds power over us today. This is mine. And darned if I'm not reminded of it every time I see this card. What is your tender spot when it comes to your father?

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