My Slovak father and I left Banska Bystrica, Slovakia on Sunday, at 6 am. We arrived in Aalst, Belgium past midnight. An 18 hour drive. Tuesday morning we already headed back. I had just enough time to handle the most pressing administrative matters, before we faced an other 18 hours in the car, this time surrounded by boxes full of books and lots of Belgian beer and chocolate. No, we are not switching to importing Belgian delicacies, they are gifts to hand out at the wedding that’s coming up on the 20th of August.

My Slovak father and I are digging deep into all things psychological. So the trip became quite therapeutic. I think we really put my childhood on the table and vice versa. There’s of course something about the small confines of a car that’s speeding along at 140 kms per hour that lets you focus on a conversation. In fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid.The fact that it’s hard to make eye contact when one of you is driving, may be a benefit (less shame, more disclosure) or a down side (there’s more emphasis on the words and less on revealing facial expressions).

We didn’t just talk about ourselves, we also discussed the work of the therapist Irvin D. Yalom, lots of studies and the differences in the needs of men and women. Oddly enough we came to rather similar conclusions as this article I spotted this morning. I think -one’s doesn’t want to blow one’s own horn too much- we are both good, solid therapist material.

None of the fears I talked about in a previous blog post were confirmed.

As to authenticity, even though we are no hierarchical equals, we are in a vertical relationship, and my respect for him sometimes makes me steer clear of certain topic, I agree when I truly agreed, and I disagreed when I truly disagreed. In fact, I believe that if you respect people you owe it to them to point out when you disagree with them.

11 random things I found out:

  1. My Slovak father definitely has it him to be a great coach/therapist, if he keeps studying, which he will
  2. His English is remarkably good
  3. The same goes for his driving skills
  4. I am not religious in any regular sense, while my Slovak father does derive a lot of stability and strength from his faith,  but we have lots of values in common.
  5. You have to order the gulash soup when you are travelling through Germany. Those highway restaurants are tourist traps and schreklich expensive, but it’s worth it.
  6. I feel waaaaaaay more stress at the register of a restaurant (I suck at small talk), than I am when I voice my disagreements with someone.
  7. Both my Belgian family and my Slovak family are givers, not takers
  8. It helps to be authentic if you prepare to be authentic
  9. We went to an outdoor Catholic mass at a local chapel in Erembodegem, Belgium, and I immediately saw that the local priest kept looking at my Slovak father. Afterwards the priest came over to ask me who he was. They were united in their faith without any audible conversation taking place. I do believe that the most essential messages are conveyed non-verbally, and that our brainwaves somehow interact with those of others.
  10. Staring at wide landscapes opens the mind.
  11. Self-disclosure does trigger self-disclosure.

Live an authentic day!