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Sins of the Fathers

By | Emotional Intelligence, Spirituality in Addiction Recovery | 9 Comments

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!” – Rumi


I had the recent privilege of attending a “Soul Retreat Gathering” hosted by The Hero’s Journey Foundation . It was held at a wonderful place called, Anubhuti Retreat Center in Novato, California.

The long weekend was fashioned after a “Soul Tavern” where in the tradition of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey work, we gathered to invest time for renewal and discovery for the next phases of our lives. A space to, “Renew intentions that bring us more fully alive and reactivate our capacity to make ourselves useful in this ordinary world.”

What made it especially meaningful for me is that my oldest son, Tyler attended with me. Our family chose names for Christmas gifts last year and I picked Ty. I thought it would be nice to do something different together and when the weekend experience came onto my radar, I secured two places in…The Tavern.

Neither Ty or I knew exactly what to expect and as was pointed out on the introductory evening by the facilitator and master storyteller, Michael Mervosh, what we expected probably would not occur and what we came for was not for our individual selves. Something else would happen.

Michael was right and what did occur, another gift of my recovery and life-time.

Intergenerational Wounds–Sins of the Fathers

My story has carried with it the trauma and the wounds of both my namesake, maternal grandfather and my father committing suicide when I was a baby and then young boy, respectively. While I don’t really think we humans completely “let go” of central themes and issues in these life times, we can lessen and soften their impacts on our here and now living through the choices we make.

Somehow as Providence would have it, I found it necessary years ago to leave my family after nearly 20 years of marriage through divorce and the confusion of my addiction. A choice I regret, but convinced at the time, the right thing to do. Ever since, and increasingly as the years pass, I have felt as if I perpetuated the sins of my fathers on to my sons via my own inner tug-of-war of abandonment and survival.

The Tavern–and Tyler–offered up a different interpretation of the story for me to consider. During the course of our work over the weekend, Tyler pointed out, “Dad, you’ve got an agenda here”, and he was right. I wanted Ty to have a way of getting at the inner struggles of what…I was projecting onto him, my own abandonment issues. I wanted to say to him again how utterly sorry I am for not having the strength and good integrated health to stay with the family, with him, his brothers and Mom and work through it.

Getting At It and the Gift of My Son

At one point Tyler was poised to leave the event provoked by my often awkward effort to “get at” the work. I have a strong tendency to bring Court Jester energy to gatherings with complete abandon, something that makes Ty and most others very uncomfortable. The combination of my largely unconscious antics, but mostly Ty’s willingness to “stay with the process and work through it” led to our breakthrough.

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The gift to me from my gentle and caring son, Tyler through The Tavern is that the sins of my fathers are not mine. Ty showed me through his graciousness and patience that I can give the “sins of the fathers” and their illusory burden back to my Dads, and while Ty may have some of his own individual work to do, he has given my sins–back to me. He made it clear that we can accept what has happened and be present with and for each other and Live for today.

While something still and always will live in me to try to protect and “save” my sons, the truth is that Tyler is his own man on his own Hero’s Journey and an admirable and accomplished journey it is.

I have eternal gratitude to the The Hero’s Journey Foundation and especially my son, Tyler who showed up in a place he wouldn’t have chosen for himself and stayed in that place until its gifts could be received with gratitude. You can’t find a better man.

I love you, Ty. Thank you, my beautiful son.