One of my favorite sayings and one that has had life changing impact on me is "Change your mind, change your life." (This quote is loosely related to one by Norman Vincent Peale "Change your thoughts, change your world.") This concept is easy to see if you think about the future - if I change my outlook then my future will reflect this changed thinking. That makes sense and I have seen it work in my life, almost like a miracle every time I make the effort to change in my mind.
The idea of changing the past was a new one for me, one that I got to experience firsthand when I was 35. I always thought that the past was the past, water under the bridge, something to move forward from. In my case, I had this mental image for as long as I can remember of my Dad leaving me, walking out of the house, out of his marriage with my mom and out of his role as my Dad. I held onto that image and the emotions surrounding it for about 33 years. Even when I saw him every weekend, when I spent my time growing up around him, his new wife and his new family. The only thing I could see was his leaving me. Like being with someone but not being there - lights on but nobody home - that's how I would define our relationship.
So I did a brave thing when I turned 35 I decided to change my mind about the situation. I decided that his leaving was the only thing he could do at the time. I saw it for the first time as an act of love, to remove me from a bad marriage, from an unhappy couple and from an ill-prepared Dad. I decided in that moment to let down the wall I had built around my heart "for protection" from what he had supposedly done to me and an amazing thing happened.
I felt the flood of 33 years of unfelt love rush over me. As if it were waiting just on the other side of that wall I had built and fortified year after year. I felt the love the only way my Dad knew how to give me and it was overwhelming. A past, barren of my father's love was suddenly drenched in unreceived emotions finally finding their way home.
In that moment my past transformed. My relationship with my father transformed. It was as if my life was re-lived but this time with a happy ending. I called him that night and told him that I finally felt his love and I knew it had always been there, waiting for me to open my heart to receive it. We both cried together, tears of joy as decades of love given was finally received. He kept saying, "I tried so hard, I tried so hard."
It took a few more years, but after decades of avoiding him, I moved to South Florida to be with my Dad, to share our lives and the love that was always there waiting for me to change my mind. The mind is a powerful force. I hope that I can always find a way to use it for good in the world. I love you and finally my life is enriched with your love.