(Photo above courtesy of Candace Caballero)
Candace Caballero’s Buddhability empowered her to face her childhood trauma and heal her relationship with her father.
My Buddhability journey began while I was pregnant in 2019. I struggled to connect with my baby and felt terrible about it. This was a completely different experience from several years before, when I had felt an immediate connection with my daughter. I was now carrying a boy, and that terrified me. It forced me to deal with a horrific event I had tried to forget.
Just before my fourth birthday, my father was responsible for the murder of my mother. He was a fugitive until I was 16. I spent most of my life trying to block out this trauma just so I could survive. I compartmentalized all events in life into good and bad, and I simply tried to ignore the bad, including my father.
I came to realize that I feared having a boy because I knew he would grow into a man who is one-quarter my father. I had negative thoughts that he would commit heinous acts as my father had. I knew I shouldn’t think this way, but I couldn’t help it.
Toward the end of my pregnancy in May 2019, I was introduced to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Through attending my local Buddhist meetings and studying Buddhism, I learned about family karma, and realized I had the power to transform the cycle of abuse and trauma that plagued us. I began to see my father as a traumatized individual who didn’t know how to cope.
I began to see my father as a traumatized individual who didn’t know how to cope.
In September 2020, I learned my father, who had been imprisoned since I was a teenager, suffered a second stroke and was transferred to the prison hospice. I felt compelled to call him, but when I did and heard his voice for the first time, it was cold and defensive. I was left feeling more hurt than before. I often discussed my father’s situation with other experienced Buddhist members. They explained that there was a profound reason why he was in my life. I thought that I might eventually develop compassion for him, but never could I think of him as a perfect father.
I decided to chant for his happiness and peace, and after some time I began to feel heartfelt appreciation for him. I realized that he was the catalyst for my inner transformation. He’s part of the reason people take me seriously and why I have grit. The experience with my father has also helped me to encourage others with similar hardships, especially young women with father issues whom I seem to attract. Through encouraging others, I’ve developed unconditional love for myself, and I have him to thank for it.
Through encouraging others, I’ve developed unconditional love for myself, and I have him to thank for it.
Exactly one year after becoming a part of the SGI community, I received a text from my half-sister informing me that it was our father’s birthday. With my newfound appreciation, I called and wished him a happy birthday and thanked him for putting me on this earth. “Thank you, sweetie,” he said. “I’m glad your mother and I put you on this earth too. I am so sorry about everything, and I never stopped loving you.” After hanging up, I felt a sense of peace come over me. This was our final conversation.
On Dec. 18, 2020, my father died. The peace I felt in my heart was actual proof that I had transformed my family karma.
My Buddhist practice and study also helped me realize that all those delusional thoughts about my son came from a place of fear, not love. He is my child, as he led me to this practice. He is now a lovely 2 year old. He is such a sweet little boy who adores his older sister. My daughter taught me what love is, and my son solidified that love by teaching me how to love others unconditionally.
Now, I even have a relationship with my four other half siblings from my father’s side. We catch up on the last 30 years and I’ve shared how Buddhism has positively impacted my life. This year and next year, I’m determined to live a life of courage that inspires others.