The Power of a Championing Parent

Father’s Day is almost upon us. And as I was flipping through my inpatient journal earlier this week, I came across a letter that my dad wrote to me while I was in treatment for anorexia, and I was so touched, and wanted to share part of it with you.

“Please just be Caralyn. She’s really a great person. We love her just as she is. Be happy. Be healthy. I love YOU!”

And reading that, it sparked me to reflect on the huge role my dad played in my recovery.

I don’t think, as a society, we talk enough about the importance of fathers.

Every single one of us has a need for that rock in our lives. A protector. A provider. A role model. A dad.

After all, fathers are the earthly examples of our Father in Heaven — the closest thing we can experience to the “abba” relationship we all have with our Creator.

This Father's Day, I'm reflecting on the invaluable role my #dad played in my #recovery from #anorexia. It's time we talk about the importance of fathers. #fathersday  #family #catholic #faith #edrecovery #parenthood #god

During my stay at inpatient, I was able to go on “Family Pass” for an afternoon. This happens well into the second month, when you’re “stable,” and you have the option of going on a day trip somewhere with your parents. You leave after breakfast, and have to be home before 8pm. It’s after “Family Week,” where your family comes to visit, and you go to family therapy together to heal. And Family Pass is the final bow on the package, finishing off a week of healing and forgiveness.

Anyway, my brothers had to leave right afterwards because they were in college and medical school. But my parents stayed, and for Family Pass, we drove the rental car to Sedona, Arizona for the afternoon.

We stopped at the Church of the Holy Cross — which is this interesting church that’s built into the side of a rock.

This Father's Day, I'm reflecting on the invaluable role my #dad played in my #recovery from #anorexia. It's time we talk about the importance of fathers. #fathersday  #family #catholic #faith #edrecovery #parenthood #god

We got ice cream, went to little artisan shops in town, ate at Olive Garden for dinner, and just kind of, enjoyed being together with all the cards on the table. There was no more deception. No more lies. I had come clean, and for the first time in about two years, we were together without me carrying this huge secret, while actively destroying our family.

And it was really really beautiful. It just felt right.

When we were driving back to the facility, I remember I was sitting in the back seat, my parents in the front. And my dad pulled out this cute little crystal figurine of an owl taking flight. He had picked it up, unbeknownst to me, at one of the little shops we visited earlier in the day.

He gave it to me, and he told me that got it for me, because, in his words, “I believe you will fly.”

This Father's Day, I'm reflecting on the invaluable role my #dad played in my #recovery from #anorexia. It's time we talk about the importance of fathers. #fathersday  #family #catholic #faith #edrecovery #parenthood #god

My dad and I have this special connection with owls. Growing up, when I was a little girl, every night, my dad would tell me a bedtime story — and the main character would be an owl. And so these “Owl stories” were our bonding time. He said he’d be sitting at work, and would be thinking up that night’s storyline. Every night it was something different, always with a moral or lesson at then end, and he’d always let me be the one to pick the owl’s name.

This Father's Day, I'm reflecting on the invaluable role my #dad played in my #recovery from #anorexia. It's time we talk about the importance of fathers. #fathersday  #family #catholic #faith #edrecovery #parenthood #god

“Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away, there lived a little owl named…..”

So for my dad to give me this little owl figurine, as a token of his belief in me — it meant so much.

There I was, right on the cusp of a new beginning. Just starting out on my recovery journey, like a baby fawn learning to walk. I was scared, unsure of the future, uncertain of my own strength and ability to live this new -scary- way of life. I still had fear, body image issues, terrified to reach my weight range, and college and thereafter was still one giant question mark.

I didn’t believe in myself.

But my dad did.

“You will fly.”

And as per usual, my dad was right.

My dad has taught me a lot of things throughout my life – from his dadisms, like “Perturb to learn,” or “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Or the most recent: “Advocate for yourself.”

But that day in the car, driving through the desert of Arizona, he taught me, not only to believe in myself — but he reminded me that — despite the astronomical setback of anorexia I was currently smack dab in the middle of, trying to get my head above water — he reminded me that this wasn’t “it” for me. It didn’t define me, my worth, my value. And this certainly wasn’t the end of the story, but rather just the beginning.

He saw the good, even despite everything I had put him through during my anorexia.

And I’m crying as I write this, grateful for such an incredible man I have the privilege of calling dad.

So, dad, Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for always being my rock, and believing in me, even when I couldn’t do it for myself. It is because of you, your love, and your confidence in me that I am who I am today. I love you.

This Father's Day, I'm reflecting on the invaluable role my #dad played in my #recovery from #anorexia. It's time we talk about the importance of fathers. #fathersday  #family #catholic #faith #edrecovery #parenthood #god

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30 responses to “The Power of a Championing Parent”

  1. It was wonderful that all your family supported you coming for family counseling, including your brothers. A father is very special and helps define who you are. Caralyn, you are flying! You never know how far you will fly.

    • You’re right about that, Sheree. I’m so glad you also had a wonderful father. Thanks so much for stopping by and i hope you have a lovely weekend. Hugs and love xox

  2. My father was the finest man I’ve ever known. He wasn’t big on conversation, but I learned how to live my life by watching how he lived his. He had an uncanny ability to understand how things worked. He’s probably walking the streets of heaven right now, looking for something to fix.

    • Aw, Rollie, thanks for sharing that. Sometimes the best lessons are learned through example. i love that. so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

    • I never thought of that, but you’re absolutely right! it was a very fitting stop along the way! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  3. I agree. Sometimes dads don’t get as much credit as they deserve but they are the quiet strength that holds us up and through the tough times. Cheers to you and your dad!

    • Isn’t it just so beautiful!! thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ He’s a good egg for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This was a beautiful tribute to the first man in your life. Every father teaches us things, and the lessons are incredibly powerful, whether good or bad. You are blessed to have a dad who showered you with good ones.

    • amen to that! i’m so grateful for him! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  5. Hi Caralyn,
    I just came across this in my aol email inbox, from last June.
    You probably will not see my reply, but I feel compelled to write it anyway.
    I loved reading your thoughts! I, too, had a wonderful supportive dad. He always encouraged me when I was down and said the most uplifting things to me. Reading what you wrote brought me to tears as I remembered the special times that my dad and I had together. I miss him so much! Thank be to God for giving us such wonderful men! I am so glad that you have your wonderful father and that he cares so much for you!

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