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I’ve become the object of an obsession.
And I’m loving it.
In fact, it is the reason I did something I would normally never do: I booked a one-way ticket to Minnesota. In the dead of winter.
Let’s be real: there are so many good reasons for never moving to Minnesota, and here are the top three:
- I’m a solar-powered creature.
- I’m a Californian.
- I’m a Californian.
Need I say more?
But sometimes, life launches you head-long down a path that you would normally never “choose.” So in three short days, I will be boarding a plane with a one-way ticket bound for Minnesota. In the dead of winter.
This startling news prompted a few concerned California friends to send me screenshots of the temperatures in Wisconsin and Michigan the last couple of weeks. I had to chuckle. I didn’t bother to correct them. As a native Californian, I too have been fairly oblivious to that vast northerly expanse of land that lies somewhere between California and New York. But in three days, all that will change. In fact, many points of reference will change.
All because of an obsession.
But no need to worry. This is one of those healthy obsessions. Maybe even a redemptive one. And this is why I’ve given full permission to Mark, my new “BFF”—Biological Father Forever—to obsess away.
As I sit here, computer on lap, surrounded by plastic bins, boxes, and suitcases, strewn all over the in-law cottage that I’ve been staying in, I feel stressed by the chaos and imminent uprooting. But I find solace in re-reading yesterday’s email from Mark:
This note is just my feel-good reminder of our awaited reunion, this New Chapter characterized by nurturing, BONDING, allowing me to be your father, you writing and getting well! Characterized by traveling, learning, laughing. And every one of these underwritten by love. This is why this waiting period until your arrival is so tough. And the weather…well…we’ll keep you warm!
All my love to you, my LDF! (Loving Daughter Forever)”
I’ve read it many times, and my eyes still stumble over the phrase: allowing me to be your father. As I mentioned in my previous article, I’m still digesting this. I just never imagined that at the midpoint in my life I would get to be re-fathered. Or that there would have even been a yearning for that. Or a delight in becoming an obsession.
Mark confessed his obsession 10 days ago:
“I know we’re going to enjoy our new life together. I don’t understand the dissonance that colored your relationship with your dad. You are so worthy of love, support, and kindness.
Every day I feel SO blessed that you’re in my life. Maybe the universe has finally meant for us to connect, so that I can help fill that open vessel of your heart. You have done that for me. And I feel so purposeful, single-minded in my desire to restore that balance in your life your dad couldn’t. This impulse is the most overwhelming drive, capturing my focus and dedication as nothing in my life before has inspired. You’ve become my cause celebre. OK, I’ll risk sounding obsessed. If the goal is helping my daughter, I don’t feel bad about it.”
So, dear reader, I’ll let you decide: is this an unhealthy obsession? I mean, wouldn’t you be inspired to move from California to Minnesota (or Michigan or Wisconsin) if you were the recipient of such emails? (And you had no job, home, or children to tie you down?) Oh yes, and if that person’s obsession intersected with your own obsession?
And my obsession is all about achieving a new degree of health and vitality in 2020. When this new decade dawned, I vowed to myself that I would no longer settle for living with this chronic and mysterious left-sided pain that has haunted me for several years. No more settling for living in survival mode. No more settling for this piece-meal, do-it-yourself healing journey.
Apparently, the gods, the Universe, or whatever you want to call that force that orchestrates life, heard me. Because they sent me Mark and his wife, Alice. The part of me that is not accustomed to such responsive deities has wondered what fairy-tale I have jumped into. I suddenly have a “Prince Charming” in my life. And he’s married to a queen he respectfully calls “The Sensible One.” And they have invited me to be the guest of honor in their Queendom. (Mark is a smart man and acknowledges and honors the Queendom.)
Admittedly, if I had the privilege of sole authorship over my fairy-tale, it would not take place in Minnesota (or Wisconsin or Michigan). It would most certainly take place in a Queendom somewhere below the 41st parallel, preferably in the Mediterranean region. But I want to be mentally open to the wonderland that might await me in the Queendom of New Prague, MN.
But of course, I’ve had my moments of doubt. How many times have I still heard the whisper in my head that this is “too good to be true”? There is still that part of me that anticipates losing the glass slipper, or eating the poison apple. Or even worse: finding out that Prince Charming is really just a frog. (Why do we easily mistrust the good, but not the bad?)
However, in contrast to fairy-tales, I don’t have to win the prince through my beauty or my charm or my grace. I only have to give myself permission to receive. In fact, this Minnesota chapter of my life will very much be a practice in the art of receiving. And not just receiving support and medical assistance, but receiving fathering. The kind I never had.
This is what I shared in an email to Mark:
“You’re “obsession” with me is 1000x more pleasurable (and more fulfilling) than any glass of grappa or oozing lava cake could ever be! It has just been so far out of my orbit. My primary experience with my dad was that of trying to be as invisible as possible in his presence, lest his ire get ignited. So it was a relationship of damage control—nothing containing the “normal” elements of a father-daughter relationship.”
And now, Minnesota offers me a chance to have a new experience of fathering and to rewire those neural pathways. In fact, this is the declaration from the Queendom:
“There’ll no longer be any feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, dearth of love, need to earn love, as it will be given freely and in abundance. The heart is a muscle and we’ll see that it’s well exercised, oxygenated, and nourished. And no propitiation here. Your well-being is your gift to us. Nothing could be more precious or desired. Don’t think of your new life as a fairytale, it’s very real with a plan in place with a team of determined supporters to achieve a set of goals. And we can’t wait to have you here with us.”
So maybe this isn’t a fairy-tale. Primarily because I am not about to be “saved” by a prince, or even my BFF. I will be saved by my choice to co-create this new reality. It is not about Glinda the Good Witch waving her wand; it is the outcome of my powerful intention for resurrection that I spoke of in a previous article.
Minnesota isn’t really about fairy-tales or obsessions. It’s about consciously building a new framework for my life. And the welcoming in of fellow builders. It is about the choice to lean into the magic, into the field of possibilities. It’s about a choice to create new neural networks required for health, the choice to let go of unworthiness in the practice of receiving.
Actually, maybe there isn’t any magic here at all. Except for the magic that’s unleashed through the power of a decision. In fact, during Mark and Alice’s visit in December, Alice shared her belief that this serendipity was my own creation: “You sent out a clarion call and we heard it. You made the decision to open a door and we responded.”
I am reminded of the 3 C’s of life that Mark shared with me in the first weeks of our correspondence: choices, chances, changes. “You must make the choice, to take a chance, if you want anything in life to change,” he had written. “This is what propelled you on your new journey.”
So, maybe I do have true authorship of this kind of fairy-tale. And maybe we are all potential designers of these stories. Perhaps the key is in how we respond to life. I could have responded to Mark’s first emails with skepticism, trusting the “it’s too good to be true” voice. I could have chosen to be wary and cautious, rather than give in to the impulse to invite Mark and Alice to visit me after only a week of email exchange. But I didn’t.
I said yes to that impulse to invite them. I said yes to that longing in my heart. I said yes to the three C’s.
Maybe that is how all fairy-tales really begin. With one unwavering yes.