First of all, I didn’t want to go see a psychologist just because I would say, “Hey, I’m sick. I’m not crazy.” Well, you know, in hindsight, maybe I was crazy, too. I don’t know. When he found about my relationship with my father, he suggested that I go home and do what is called an empty chair procedure. What that means is you place a chair in front of your chair. You pretend you father is sitting there, that you’re five years old and you say, “Why did you bring me into this world if you didn’t love me? Why don’t you love me? What’s wrong with me? What have I done wrong? Why am I treated this way?” So in essence my father never played with me. He never said he loved me. He never put his arm around me. He treated me like a piece of furniture. I was present but I wasn’t of any value to him. We just had a bad relationship, and I hated him.
My strong suspicion is that I was an unwanted child. I think I was a real surprise to the whole family because my brothers were like fifteen years older than I was. So I think my parents’ attitude was, “Well, we’re finished raising a family,” then at an inopportune, very difficult time for a lot of people (1939), right before the second world war, I came along. Having a baby at that time may not have been the smartest thing to do. It may have been an accidental thing.
I went home that day, after seeing the psychologist. I did the empty chair procedure. I asked my father all these questions. Then I was to get up and sit in the chair and answer the questions. This didn’t make a bit of sense to me, but I did it. When I sat down in the chair, I realized that he had loved me to the best of his ability. I don’t know why I knew it. Everything he did was to provide food, clothing, and shelter. It was just the warm, lovey dovey stuff that he didn’t have. He wasn’t intending to harm me. He just didn’t know any better. So he gets an A+ in terms of trying to be a good father, but an F- in terms of actually doing it.
It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve forgiven my father. I realize that I too am not a perfect father. There aren’t many perfect fathers around as I understand it. It’s not surprising that we have deficiencies as fathers.