Dad treasured his wood furniture. Every week, he’d break out the Pine-Sol and polish his tables, his bedframe and his Lane cedar hope chest. He cherished his wooden possessions so much so, that when we were younger, he placed a strict “No touch!” policy on me and my siblings.
While Dad was never diagnosed, looking back on his behaviors I believe he had some form of OCD. If one of us kids was even an arm’s-length away from a wooden dining chair or God-forbid his hope chest, Dad’s body would tense up and he’d scowl, “Get out of here. You’re too close.” Dad literally feared a scratch or ding. This deep connection to his possessions always struck me as odd. I remember thinking to myself, Why do we have this beautiful dining room set if we’re never allowed to use it?
Regardless of my Dad’s quirks and flaws, I have always been a daddy’s girl. Dad is one of the greatest loves and teachers of my life.
So when Dad died eight years ago, I was crushed. My first instinct was to hang on to everything he owned and cherished, but I knew I didn’t have the space. And so, I got rid of most of his larger pieces (including the dining room set I never had a chance to eat on), but decided to keep his hope chest.
It felt odd taking his hope chest home. For all my childhood I was barely allowed near it, and then it was in my bedroom. I put a doily on it for protection and dusted it a few times a week. I’d get out the Pine-Sol every few weeks. I was always nervous about something happening to it and doing right by Dad.
Fast forward a few years. My family and I decided to move from just outside of Boston to the Tampa Bay area. Somehow in the move, the chest got a nick in it.
Although the size of the ding was smaller than ¼ of a Cheerio (Think: the size of scratch that an ant would leave, if it could), it felt like the size of a baseball. I felt guilty. Disrespectful to Dad. I’d go to sleep staring at the big horrific gaping hole (don’t we love the illusions of guilt?) and would pray to Dad, I am so sorry. I understand if you’re upset. I’m careless. I should have done better.
Fast forward again. This time to a few months later. I was on a call with my spiritual mentor April who’s also a psychic medium. Seemingly out of the blue she said, “Honey. Your Dad is here. You keep hurting yourself every night. What are you doing to yourself, sweet child? It has something to do with a piece of furniture. Did something get wrecked? Your Dad is saying he doesn’t care. All he cares about is you. You need to stop being so hard on yourself.”
Tears poured down my face. I cried and cried some more. In that moment, I released it all. The anxiety Dad gave me as a child. The need to be perfect and follow his rules. The false idea that Dad is up in Heaven upset about a furniture scratch (I mean really, in hindsight how crazy of me to think that Dad has the ability to travel pretty much anywhere he wants and enjoy the freedoms of afterlife, but instead he’s worrying about a small dent on a piece of furniture).
Today, Dad’s cedar chest is in my bedroom proudly displaying its ding. Sure, I could sand it down. Put polish over it. But why? It’s a perfect reminder that mistakes and imperfections are only perceived and that my loved ones in spirit aren’t spending their time sweating the small stuff – and neither should I.
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PS – Here’s a self-forgiveness affirmation, “I release the past and the weight it has brought me. All that exists is now.”
PPS – Oftentimes we let a perceived bad experience sour the way we look at a person, place or thing. For example, the waitress accidentally spills the tray of waters on you, and you decide never to return to that one Mexican restaurant. You were wearing your green socks the day you got fired, so you’ve sworn off green socks (not hard to do, but St. Patty’s Day does find us once a year). Grab your pen and journal. Is there an opportunity to create a new story with that person, place or thing? Perhaps you could go order some carnitas with friends and create a new positive memory, or wear green socks while you give an epic presentation? This activity will remind you that you hold the power to write your own story.