The Dirty Little Secret

Photo: Michael Smith

By Tommy Airey

The dirty little secret is that
we are the carriers of all the unfinished
Stories of our fathers. She qualified
the process for me: healing comes only
when we covenant ourselves to
the tireless work of
examining our past,
assessing the pain and
unlearning the patterns.

No matter how much we
fight it or flight it,
curse it or nurse it,
their ghosts will haunt us until
we address it.

We sense this intuitively, but we must
embrace it intentionally. Otherwise, we
continue the cycle, burying ourselves
into cul-de-sacs of comfort and
security, with no outlet.

A life of playing it safe simply won’t
save us. Jung preached it:
Until you make the unconscious conscious,
it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

We can name it boldly: life is lonely. The
busy and banal siphon the living waters
of intimacy. My feelings are my
Inner Teacher though, that
Spark of the Divine within
me that will grow.

OK, I’ll be more confessional:
worthless, unknown, devalued
and alone flood my system—I
transform into a relational prostitute
and peace monger to gain approval—
these, too, are used to construct the
inhumane hierarchy, hidden tools of
white supremacy and patriarchy.

Fear drives conflict avoidance, minimizing
pain with comedy, maximizing my sacrifice
for others’ self-actualization, hoping to
earn medals of admiration. The irritation,
fretting over financial extinction, a life of
obligation, more left-brain masturbation,
years of emotional constipation, escaping
relational interaction— the more I age, the
more my rage has a monopoly, projecting
the fear, resentment and guilt on
to those I love most. The pain is
too heavy so I find scapegoats
to lay it upon. But not for long.

Isolationist strategies don’t lead to prevention.
I need a beloved community intervention.
Recovery can only come in a circle of vulnerability.
These sojourners give me confidence to daily
choose courage and congruency, staying
closely connected to both my pain and my partner.
I refuse to live apart from myself any longer,
reclaiming what’s been lost in the sea of autopilot.

This is what faith looks like, trusting the
process of being rewired into a whole new
self—so I can be present and attentive to the
pain all around me and respond with the kind of
wisdom, energy and passion that it all so
desperately requires. Only then, will
I be freed up to pray, resist and
dance—a second chance around every corner
and beyond. My dad is cheering me on.

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