As my Facebook feed starts to fill up with Father’s Day messages, posts, memes and the like, a message of my own:
This Father’s Day, please don’t preach about all the wonderful Godly fathers out there and praise and acknowledge them. Having a Godly, life-affirming, confidence-building, loving, supportive, or even living father is not part of all of your congregants’ reality. To those of us whom this scenario isn’t our truth, such messages serve as a trigger to remind us of what we did not/do not have.
Having a living child to be a father to is not every father’s reality either.
This Father’s Day, get real. First, recognize the fatherless. Second, agree that sometimes, fathers suck. Everywhere we turn, we are reminded, thanks to the retailers who bombard us with advertising, about Father’s Day. This can be a trigger for some of us. Acknowledge the many, many children who grew up never knowing their father, whose father abandoned them, whose father abused them, whose father was completely absent from their life as children – either through abandonment, addiction, death, etc.
There will be times when hearing the words “God is father to the fatherless” and “God is your father” will not bring comfort to those who never had a father. Acknowledge this.
Mention those who have lost their children. Losing a child means being a father in spirit only. Grief fills their heart every anniversary, Father’s day, Mother’s day, Christmas, special event, their child’s birthday, etc.
This Father’s Day, I won’t be going to church. I don’t have much hope that the sermon will change.
But, maybe someday the messages will, church: because it’s high time they did.
The summer issue of Geez magazine is out and my article is on page 8. I’ve reproduced it below Dexter’s picture. Can I just say, seeing my name in print never gets old.
Animals as Healersby Kathy
“You’re as ugly as a mud fence on a rainy day.” Forty years later those words still ring in my ears. When I was in my ‘tweens, I lived in a situation where I was physically and emotionally abused on a daily, or near-daily, basis by every other home occupant.
This “home” had rabbits I would play with. Looking back, I realized that this play was an unconscious attempt to find respite from the abuse, self-comfort, and obtain from animals the love I didn’t receive from the humans in my world.
Cal Henze, a self-employed therapist in Calgary, Alberta, comments on animals as healers. He says, “Small animals provide something for the child to care about, a place to invest and a place of safe and unconditional intimacy. They provide a physical companion for the child to cling to and trust as he or she faces the darkest places of emotional pain.”
One might even call child-animal bonding a form of therapy.
“Cats and dogs, unlike other complementary therapies… are not ‘therapeutic tools.’ They are in the truest sense of the word ‘co-therapists’ in their own right,” says Avshalom Beni, founder and director of Humans and Animals in Mutual Assistance, a non-profit animal rescue organization in Israel. Their philosophy is that animals and humans help and heal each other.
Shortly after I moved to Calgary, I took a role as a dog-walker for the Calgary Humane Society. I’m not sure who benefited more. It was a lonely time in a city where I knew only one other person, but walking the animals helped.
Another type of animal companion is the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) service dog. PTSD symptoms include re-living the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares and avoiding event reminders. Survivors are often nervous, anxious, and hyper-vigilant. They sleep poorly, startle easily, and experience physical symptoms like digestive disorders and chronic pain.
Evidence has shown PTSD survivors with service dogs report symptom reduction and decreased reliance on medication. In fact, according to Effectiveness of Psychiatric Service Dogs in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Veterans, psychiatric service dogs (PSD) given to PTSD survivors help in a variety of ways, including practical tasks (such as finding keys), emotional care in stressful situations, and companionship both at home and in social settings. Having a PSD, according to this study, is not merely another therapeutic tool in the PTSD symptom management toolbox, but rather a combination of treatment, companion, and caregiver.
A person with PTSD struggles to feel safe, comfortable, grounded, and believed. PTSD service dogs help in these struggles. Further, the dog’s training enables it to respond to flashbacks by giving a gentle nudge to bring the person back to the present.
Animals love us, teach us how to love, provide a sense of stability, and provide healing. Because of this, whether they’re trauma dogs, emotional support animals, or the family pet, animals are more than tools, but lifelong, loving companions who are there for us, often in ways the people in our lives aren’t.
A beautiful comment yesterday left by a new reader to my blog made my day.
I’m so glad I found this. Trying to find advice for cooking (and eating) while chronically ill seems downright hopeless somedays. I can’t really eat out and there are veryfew storebought convenience meals I can eat due to my allergies, yet making a full course meal usually ends in me collapsing 1-3 times. My boyfriend is so used to finding me on the kitchen floor at this point that he doesn’t bat an eye. I really do love cooking, though, so it’s awesome finding someone else out there facing similar challenges with wisdom to share.
Thank you so much.
This is why I started my food blog.
*Note some of the recipes do take longer to prep. Save those for days when you aren’t flaring, or can enlist help.