“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.

Dr. Herby Bell is a Recovery and Wellness Coach and owner of Recovery Health Care, an integrated approach to wellness and addiction recovery in Saratoga, California. For more information please call 650 474 9411 or Email: herbybell@me.com.  Connect with me online too:  Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Chris says:

    That’s a beautiful story. Two people working to improve and appreciate. Sometimes the journey is convoluted but the end result is what counts. Kudos to the both of you!
    Chris Wants You To Read…Addiction or Dependency? Does it Matter?My Profile

  • Wonderful story Herby. Nice that you had the opportunity and time to work through the issues with Tyler. I can relate to your feelings of regret. Divorce can feel necessary at the time, yet looking back those feelings of what could have been have surfaced for me from time to time, especially when I think about how divorce has affected my kids. Those special moments with our kids are priceless.
    Cathy Taughinbaugh Wants You To Read…How One Women Overcame Her Descent into Teenage Drug AddictionMy Profile

    • Herby Bell says:

      Thanks, Cathy for acknowledging that wondering…longing. Just is. You’re a wonderful and kind reminder that we’re not alone in this spectacular sea of feelings. Here’s to more of these special moments.

  • Amy Edge says:

    What a great story. Thank you for sharing. This was a timely post for my life. Live for the day is a great perspective for us to live by. I really need to remember this each day.
    Amy Edge Wants You To Read…Treatment Centres in BCMy Profile

  • A colleague forwarded this article to me, perhaps suggesting there might be a nugget or two I could find – and he was correct :). This recap of your experience with your precious son is lovely, warm and intimate. I appreciate your humbleness and respect for your son’s wisdom. Regardless of the age in years of our children, they are often the ones who teach us the most! That has certainly been my experience anyway…

    Thank you again for sharing this. Many blessings on your journey.

    • HerbyBell says:

      Laura, Thank you for these heartfelt words. I had a chance to look at your website and thank you too for the wonderful work you are heading up, and doing admirably. Here’s to learning more and blessings to you and yours.

  • Molly says:

    Beautiful story. I think the worst pain of all is the awareness that my own actions or choices have caused deep pain or harm to the beloved child of my womb. It is a brutal thing to accept and process through. I love how you were able to see your son on his own Hero’s Journey. What a game changer. Thank you for sharing.

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