I am sure I am not alone when I admit that there have been times in my life when I have taken a circumstance as a curse and I became a victim. I can also admit that I recognize when something has happened (that either I created or caused or another person has) and I take 100% responsibility for where my thoughts, actions and beliefs are around it.
We all have a choice. In the end, no one can make us feel a certain way unless we let them. This isn't to say we will not have bad days...moments of anger, frustration and sadness...but it comes down to choice. We cannot blame anyone, we must stand up for it and take 100% responsibility for our thoughts and feelings in order to move forward in a healthy way.
What I am about to share with you is a lifelong journey. We all have a journey and you might just find your journey is similar in one way or another. It is a journey of many moments of wonder, doubt, fear and most of all of hope. One that has taken decades to realize. The key here is to appreciate the journey, even if it is one that takes decades.
I've wanted to share this for quite some time now...but based on the fear that I would hurt two people I love so dearly, I put it aside and didn't share it openly. Yet when we hold back what is inside us...we can create even more struggle. Getting our thoughts out (in whatever way we can)...will release an area of our life that is ready to be healed. The longer we stuff the emotion inside, my belief (like Louise Hay) is that it will find a way to come out somehow - typically in illness or disease. (DIS-Ease).
So here goes and as I share this, I offer love and respect to all people I will mention today. I also hope for you that it will provide a door for you to find peace and healing in an area of your own life.
In December of 1976 I was born and named, Tara Louise Kenzie. My mother and father were both very young and they both came from very humble beginnings that involved many many difficult days that many of us wouldn't be able to relate to in this lifetime. They were doing the best they could with what they had available to them and it didn't end well for them. They parted ways and a short time later, my mom and I were on our own. A time in her life that was very difficult for sure, and my biological father was about to experience decades of pain as he wouldn't see me for over 38 years.
Not long after my mom had gone through this very painful break-up, she met a man named Ron. He showed my mom the love she longed to have and he accepted me as his very own child. When I was 8 years old, I was their flower-girl at their wedding. Shortly after they were married, I asked if he could adopt me so that I could have the same name as the both of them. They agreed and I became Tara Louise Zimmerman. Ron (my dad) was the only dad I would ever know. He filled that role in a way that is hard to explain without getting emotional, because when I think of this role he took on. He made it look simple, but I would bet that it wasn't as simple as he made it look. I respected him throughout my life (still do...likely more today now that I am an adult and know how challenging being a parent can be at times) and have always loved him for the grace, compassion, warmth and guidance that he provided to myself and my mom as I grew up and eventually had my own children. I always believed that it takes a very strong man to come into our lives and support us in every way.
Fast forward to January, 2016. The day I never saw coming...even though I had thoughts about it...I assumed it would be me to make the first move, but anytime I attempted to - I would feel a sense of being paralyzed. I received a facebook friend request from my biological father (Bill). When I received that, I found myself feeling fear. Not fearful of him, but fearful of my reaction...this was it, I had the chance to know who he was...and how he has lived his life the last (almost) 40 years. The thought of that was scary for that moment. "What ifs" started coming up for me.
Instantly I thought of my dad (and my mom). I drove to their house that evening when they were both home from work and I talked with them about what just happened that day. I knew that they deserved to hear it from me (and not through facebook) and they deserved for me to be there face to face, not over the phone. After an emotional discussion, they expressed their feelings and wished me well on my decisions. The next day I accepted Bill's friendship and tiptoed into this new territory. His family began requesting to be a friend including his daughter (whom I later found out, wasn't his biological daughter and he raised her just like my own dad did). I continued to look into who he was, some similarities were very clear, especially our looks (and also including our thought process and our belief around personal growth). It became apparent to me that decades later he had done a lot of work on himself and he made the decision to change his life, despite his rocky youth.
For a few months we would write to one another. I was asking his family about him as a way to understand more about who he was to those who loved him most.
I later found out that his health had been failing. He was (and still is) going for dialysis 3 times a week and he is in need of a kidney. I never felt pressured to meet him, but I knew that in order to be certain that I wouldn't ever have any regrets, it was up to me to make a decision. For so many years of my life, I was always looking to others to help me make decisions, but this time I knew it was up to me.
The day came, I made the decision to plan to meet him. Thing was, we live in different provinces so it meant that I would either get on a plane to fly 2 hours or get in a car and drive 17 hours. I talked with my very supportive husband and he said yes when I asked if he would go with me.
Together we made the decision to drive out to meet him with our 3 kids. We planned it as a trip to see areas of our country we haven't ever seen and had a destination in mind. My mom and dad didn't know at that time (which was the very hardest thing to ever do)...but I was respecting their original wishes from January that they didn't want to know details of our communication with one another. I respected that this wasn't anything to do with them, this was my life and I had to be ready to step into my own adult life to make these decisions without their acceptance or approval. (like I said, this was the hardest part, because it felt like I was hiding something about me that was important - and they know everything about me)
And we left...we took a few days to drive out, enjoyed some sites along the way. The night before we planned to meet Bill and his wife Diana, we enjoyed dinner with friends. They (Kevin and Cathy) were friends I had met online a few years ago in a personal growth group and we hadn't met in person before either...ironic, but it was as if they helped me see how wonderful it can be to meet people in person after communication online as the first sort of communication. I felt like I knew Kevin and Cathy already...and I do believe our souls did know one another, we just hadn't met in person yet. They wished us well and we said our goodbyes, they became the couple I would keep in touch with through my next days as well, they continue to be angels in my life today.
That evening before I went to sleep, I knew that I felt a sense of peace. I told my husband, Cam that I had no expectations of how things would go the next day. We can often have such high hopes or expectations about something in our life, only to feel discouraged or disappointed if it doesn't go as we expect. And other times, we can expect the worst of a situation and we create a story around it, which only helps us focus on the negative...and this often proves to us that we were right to assume it would go bad. So I went into it with absolutely no expectations and was promising myself that I would go with how I was feeling in the moment, not about what I was expecting.
The day we met (exactly a month ago today - August 13, 2016):
I would by lying if I said it was easy. In part I still felt a sense of guilt that my mom and dad didn't know. To be truthful, it was one of the hardest things I've done. My "courage muscles" came in that day...you know when you hear about 15 seconds of insane courage? Well that is what it was for me (and likely for Bill also). It was awkward at first, we both didn't know what to say or do...but as we let go of that initial feeling...we took time to sit down at their kitchen table and we chatted for several hours. His nervousness was apparent - but I am sure we can all agree that if we were in his shoes and this was the first time you would see your biological child in 4 decades, you would be nervous also.
We continued to enjoy conversation and got to know one another more and we left shortly after. The next day my husband and I knew it was time to start our journey back home. I remember feeling such a sense of calm and peace, but was also feeling a bit sad. Sad that this man, now in his 60s would be so far away. He became a part of my life that I can't explain. Even though we haven't known one another all these decades, we are still biologically connected. The gift of meeting him, brought so much hope. He demonstrated what is possible when people make a conscious decision to change their life. He wasn't forced, he wasn't told what to do, he made a conscious decision to change the way he was living his life in order to create a better future for himself.
Bill taught me so many lessons. He taught me that being a victim of circumstance only holds us back from truly living fulfilled. He taught me that being patient with how life unfolds is about surrender at times, rather than trying so hard to control it. He taught me that even through years of pain, sadness, suffering and anger that we can find the positive in it all. He taught me that if we work on ourselves and we love where we are even when it is hard to love where we are, that great gifts are available to us when we are ready to receive them.
My mom and dad taught me so much also...most of all how to grow up with values, with the ability to have compassion for everyone, no matter where they are or where they've been. They have helped me to see what love really is, how it feels and what it looks like. They have taught me gratitude for everything I have and everything I may have wished for but never got. They have taught me that love is stronger than what many of us assume it is.
As I complete this piece, I am filled with so much joy and love. My heart is feeling so much peace. I feel like the luckiest daughter in the universe...which helps me to be a much better mom, wife and friend and business partner to others. We never know what others are going through, we also never know exactly where they are going tomorrow, so we must be present and in the moment, as we may not get the same moment again - we all know that life is short. Judgement isn't our job...when we judge another person for their choices, we are judging ourselves. When we can remain open and filled with love for other humans for where they are and what they are going through...we create more peace all around. 100% responsibility starts with me, starts with you. We can either be a victim of our circumstance or we can be 100% responsible for our actions, thoughts and beliefs. No one can tell us how to feel, act or be...it is up to us - each of us to feel, act and become the person we are meant to become!