Review: My distant father who heals the wound of the father family
Note: Beginning in September 2021, I was offering a certification and training program for people who wanted to expand their work to help others more effectively. As part of the training, they read several of my books, including My Distant Father: Healing the Family Father’s Wound. Here is one man’s reflection on the book and his experience with his own father.
Jed Diamond’s book, My Distant Dad, was an eye-opening and mind-changing experience. I never thought the father wound was so familiar and inevitable. Heck, up to this class I’d never heard of “The Father Wound,” let alone thought about how it affects a person’s physical and mental well-being, and therefore the well-being of those associated with that wound, both present and future Future. I just thought we all have problems and I think we do.
The only time I couldn’t touch or see my father was when I spent four years in prison between twenty and twenty-three years. My father had a few bits and pieces on his file that kept him from being allowed in for visits. That’s why I only spoke to him on the phone for four years, but not often because it was expensive. He wrote almost every day, sometimes pages, usually just a quick note about what he had had for breakfast and said he loved me and missed me and it would all be “old news” soon.
The most noticeable feeling I kept reading this book was gratitude. I am grateful that my father was open to his struggles and bad decisions, of which there were many. I am grateful that he had the mind and heart to teach me everything that was dear to him; Family, joy in those around you, not the stuff around you, and “THE GOLDEN RULE”, do to others as you would let others do it.
He showed me that even the most valuable values can be forgotten or lost, but can also be found and restored. This allowed me to appreciate these values at my own pace and return to them when my own decisions turned out to be wrong without feeling like a failure. I’m grateful for the more subtle influences he gave me, like my fondness for old pickups over old hot rods and older music like James Taylor, Don Williams, Eddie Rabbit, Jackson Browne and all the classic rock music of the 60s and 70s.
There’s an endless list of reasons I’m grateful that I had my father, but I think the most important thing was that he was always there and always present. I always felt that I was valued and essential to him.
I was also very sad about the world because the more I learn, the more I can see how widespread and desperate the suffering is. I have a lot of friends who I assumed were “just” addicts or shit who would never grow up and only take care of themselves. Now I can see that the wound is much deeper than addiction or “dipshitness,” and most of the people I know don’t even realize the depth of the wound. Hence it is impossible to heal. Maybe this is how I can use it in my life and just try to help these people find the help they need.
I also regretted not having known my father better. I was very close to my father, but there was not much talk about certain things, like my grandfather. I knew from family conversations that he was a drunk, violent, mean husband and father, but also a fantastic mechanic in his day.
When I was young, ten to twelve years old, he lived in an older ward on the ninth floor, about eight blocks from my house. My friends and I rode our bikes there and called the intercom, went to the elevators, ate Grandpa’s lemon drops and looked out at the world from his balcony. He often talked nonsense, like asking us to get a bike out of the closet that wasn’t there, and there were burn marks all over his couches when he fell asleep with a cigarette.
I later realized he was just drunk but never the mean violent guy I’d heard of, and in my memory he was weird (even if he didn’t want to). He was gracious with an endless supply of lemon drops and didn’t bother ruining our dinner. I wish my father could have shared his experience with his father. He even kept a journal of his thoughts and dreams for himself and the world. I will try to keep a journal of insights for my children and future generations to review.
I really loved reading the portions of entries from Jed’s father’s diaries. He was a very talented writer himself in his own diaries. With the eloquent words and structure, everything he wrote had a poetic flair. His poems were future-oriented for his time. He was a pretty amazing man, if not always an amazing father.
My own father was an obsessive Disney movie fan. He loved Pollyanna, the Swiss Robinson family, and every other feel-good classic that Walt Disney had ever made. Even so, he always complained that almost every movie started with the dad being an asshole and eventually becoming the good, loving, supportive dad. Maybe there is more reality behind it than he thought. He often used the films as tools; (We have played “the happy game” many times), analogies for our lives that I think probably made it easy to believe that it would get better because it would be fixed at the end of the movie.
I believe “Slow Medicine” is what I have received all my life. My parents may have made choices that harmed them and us, but they also taught us how to do it and become a better person through it. Your support from your bad life choices and my own made me never judge anyone because you will never know how they got there. They showed me that love, support and care can overcome and heal addiction, past and present pain, and almost any human condition. It can bring joy and satisfaction, and reduce the father wound for future generations. At least that would be my hope for my children, grandchildren and the world.
In conclusion, I am increasingly impressed with the details of Jed’s life and even more impressed with the choices he made that led him to his calling. I look forward to reading more of his books and deepening the experience and teaching. I am really grateful to have Jed as a neighbor and mentor and to be part of this tribe he brought together, and we continue to create together. I also wish my memory was as good as “mind like a steel trap,” as they say. This is about saving the world.
William “Billy” Potter, the Zen plumber
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