Did you know men without positive role models often grow up at an emotional disadvantage? Of course you did. Not only that, but the ability to connect in meaningful relationships also suffers. Wonder why you’ve been divorced a few times or just unable to hold onto a girlfriend?
Thank your dad.
It’s Okay To Ask Why
I grew up in a household dominated by my father. He used physical presence and silence to control my mom, and us kids. We couldn’t say a peep about how we felt; even if we were hurting – emotionally or physically. Breaking silence only meant more discipline or emotional abandonment.
I didn’t know any better. Maybe you’ve been there and know how crappy it is. Of course, when you’re just a little dude, you don’t know that it’s crappy. You think you’re being a lil man, all tough and everything.
It’s not until you’ve been kicked in the balls a few times as an adult that you begin to realize something was messed up. But what? Well, we were meant for relationships. Yep, that’s the way God created us. We weren’t designed to be alone, or silent or thinking that sucking up pain meant we were tough.
He Walked Off
I remember the day my brothers and I were being typically rotten and fighting like we always did. My mom had had enough, and whatever it was that set my dad off, I recall the fear of thinking it would be belt time again. Instead, his expression flattened out and tears streamed over his cheeks. It scared me even more.
He walked out of the house and started out along a stretch of railroad tracks. My brothers and I chased along begging him to come home and promising we’d be good. Although he came back later that day, but we didn’t stick to our promise, and he went back to dominating.
Why The Reaction?
My dad had a pretty hard childhood, and no emotional connection with his dad. That left him in a fix because not only did he not know how to get along with my grandfather, but it started a pattern of him not knowing how to get along with me. Of course, for years I continued that same pattern with my own.
When people can’t or won’t communicate, their responses to life become out of sync. For men, that usually means staying quiet until we erupt. Sometimes that eruption is violence against those around, or it’s a walk down the tracks, but either way, its way far from middle ground’s healthy resolution.
Other times, when men don’t explode, they implode into addictions, depression or suicide. When given no tools to ask for help or talk about the hurt, we allow irrational responses to dictate the desperation. Yep, like walking down the tracks.
I’m not sure why this came to mind, but once my brothers and I wanted to give our dad something for Father’s Day. Since we’d never seen a loving relationship or even nice behavior towards us, we weren’t sure how to show him that we loved him.
I bet I wasn’t more than ten years old, but we figured we’d give him a trophy. Surely that would be okay. No talking, hugging or shows of emotion. Just a chunk of molded plastic, fake gold tin and a laurel wreath held in place by a long screw bolted to a piece of fake marble.
We were cleaning out closets after my dad died. I found that busted up trophy in the deep corner of a spare room closet. I hadn’t thought about it then, or I guess after that Father’s Day, but that trophy never saw the light of day. Why not? Well, because men don’t know how to share what they feel. Whether it’s a trophy, a kind word or a hug, we’d rather not be exposed, so we don’t have to dispose.
It’s never too late to correct the slanted perspective that being vulnerable and transparent in how we feel isn’t “manly.” The example we should be looking to is in our ultimate alpha male, God the Father.
If you’re a harda** like I used to be, then coming to understand spiritual compassion and strength is important. There is freedom from your past that allows you to live a blessed life going forward.
But before you can release yourself from a dark legacy, you gotta forgive those who hurt you. Maybe it wasn’t your dad, but whoever it was, living or passed away, must be forgiven.
You don’t even have to say it to the person because forgiveness is not for them, it’s for you. It frees you from the act and the person, and gives you the authority to live free from darkness. Give it a try. You’ll be amazed.
No kidding, no trophies, and no more walking down the tracks
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts about Tracks And Trophies: Neither Bring Dads Back Home?
Do you think men are stuck in their family’s behavior (good or bad)?
Do you find it hard to drop the hard shell and talk openly about how you feel?
What’s the difference between being tough and being protective?
Any other thoughts about this?
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