Just before The Child came into my life, I had a mentor named Ted. He was the Father I Never Had. He was introduced to me by my friend K who said his advice had changed- no, actually saved- her life. I could see that she had placed him on a pedestal. I was fascinated.
I wondered if I too could win over Ted. Would he even bid me the time of day? He was a "rock star," so to speak. My friend K was the type of woman who easily attracted men. She was born to attract men. Ted was not a romantic interest for either of us, though- he was a mentor, a Father. He was a motivational speaker- that's how K discovered him.
When I first called him and introduced myself, he reacted exactly the way I wanted him to. He took me under his wing. I became an instant daughter. He invited me to call him daily. He lived in LA. I ran up huge phone bills talking to him, but it was worth it. He told me how to live my life. He gave me a solution to every problem. He began a process which should have occurred during my childhood: the growth of my self-esteem.
Clearly, Ted liked me. He was very impressed with what I do for a living and with the fact that I was extremely independent and good at handling my finances and other affairs. I thrived on Ted's approval and appreciation. My own father had never voiced the approval that I was now receiving from Ted. My own father had never spoken to me with the affection that I now heard in Ted's voice.
On a daily basis, he helped me examine the way I was living my life. He gave me logical solutions to whatever problems cropped up at work or in personal relationships. He taught me about boundaries- a hitherto unknown concept for me. He taught me how to serve others while still being true to myself. He taught me to be reasonable. He always said that he tried to teach people to "live comfortably with unresolved problems." In other words, he taught people how to live in peace, despite whatever issues presented themselves.
Probably the most valuable gift he gave me was a kind, loving, yet honest reality check on my biological family, my place in it, and the limitation on what I could expect from it. He taught me how to "clean up my side of the street" and leave it at that. He taught me how to make meaningful amends without selling out. He taught me an unbelievably powerful method of making amends to a person who has died, and I have passed this technique on to many other people who have also used it successfully. Ted was the wisest person I have ever met. His advice was sound; in some cases, I didn't find out until years later how sound it was. He never charged a dime for his advice- I only paid the long distance phone charges, which I totally controlled because I was the one calling him.
K and I nearly fainted when we found out that Ted was coming to our city to speak!!! We fought over which one of us would pick him up at the airport. She won because of my work schedule. She was so nervous about meeting Ted face-to-face that she wrecked her car on the way to the airport!
I understood, because I too was a nervous wreck about meeting Ted (although fortunately it didn't show in my driving!). What if he was disappointed by the way I looked?! Surely he had conjured up an image of me in his mind. Would I disappoint him? I donned my best outfit, topped by the leather coat which I rarely wore and spent lots of extra time trying to look my best. My friend K always looked fantastic, like a model- I had to attempt to compete with that standard.
Then, when I was finished with work, I went to the hotel to meet Ted. It was an earth-shaking event. Really, it was like meeting my father for the first time! Ted showed far more enthusiasm for me than my father ever had. And I heaved a silent sigh of relief when Ted whispered, "I just knew you were gorgeous- I could tell over the phone!" Was I ever glad I had spent all that time fussing with my hair.....
You might be thinking that this story is going to take a slimy turn for the worst, but it didn't. Ted remained My Father. In fact, he wanted to meet the guy I had been going out with. When we failed to co-ordinate their schedules, Ted insisted on talking to him on the phone! I listened in on the conversation during which Ted had the guy jump through hoop after hoop, like any caring father would. I was touched that Ted warned him to proceed slowly with me, thinking of me as a deer in the headlights....(My own father never would have done this.)
It never works well to place a human being on a pedestal, as we all know. Humans are fallible. Shortly after his visit to my city, I faced a life-changing decision- the decision of my lifetime. Ted had a very strong opinion about which choice I should make. Although I understood his concerns all too well, I disagreed with him. I stopped calling Ted. He was worried, and started calling me when I stopped calling him. I didn't return his calls.
Nine months later The Child was born.