This week is Father’s Day and to be honest I’m looking forward to it. Not because of the time I am going to spend with my father, but rather because of the time I can spend with my kids and wife.
To be honest, I am very grateful.
The relationship I share with my wife and children is very good. We spend a lot of time together, we don’t fight often, and for the most part we know how to keep the lines of communication open when things are a little stressed.
This is not to say we never have problems.
We have arguments and issues like anyone. Life is not perfect.
- I sometimes blow it and yell.
- My wife sometimes blows it and yells.
- My kids don’t always open up about what’s hurting them.
- I go to counseling.
- My daughter goes to counseling.
- My wife probably should go to counseling after this school year.
But we all recognize our frailties and try to emotionally navigate these difficult situations together the best way we can.
Of course, not everyone can say that.
I can’t say that about my childhood.
Most guys I help can’t say that about their’s.
Because the truth is we all have some daddy issues and those daddy issues can lead to lasting emotional trauma that influences our ability to connect and regulate our feelings in a healthy way. Of course by saying that it sounds like I’m throwing a whole bunch of dads under the bus.
But I’m not. I’m just being factual.
The truth is most of our dads (and moms) only did the best they could (emotionally speaking). Generally they learned from what their childhood taught them and so acted accordingly.
- Maybe they worked all the time.
- Maybe they hardly ever said I love you.
- Maybe they struggled to spend quality time with their kids.
- Maybe they were emotionally closed off and distant.
Not out of spite or malice, but out of a need for emotional survival.
And so those realities left an impression on their sons and daughters. The pain that was passed down to them was then passed on to their kids. And unfortunately, will get passed down again unless someone finally says stop.
But that’s easier said then done.
Much easier to suppress and pass along your emotions scars than face them.
Much easier to escape the pain through a world of porn and fantasy then come face to face with it.
I know this all too well.
For years I struggled with anxiety. Full-blown panic attacks. So when I met with a friend and shared with him this fact 5 years ago his response was, “Hey Carl, maybe you should see a counselor, sounds like you have some repressed pain you need to deal with.”
“If it’s repressed why would I deal with it. Better out of sight and out of mind. I just need the anxiety to go away”
But of course it didn’t. And so the anxiety and panic attacks continued until I sought out help and met with a professional counselor. And while things didn’t change overnight, things did change… for the better.
- The anxiety lessened.
- The panic attacks stopped.
- I gained more confidence and a better sense of self.
And perhaps the best thing to come out of counseling was the fact that I became far more emotionally self-aware and found a new ability to process things that before I just would have moved right past without thinking.
I share this with you for three main reasons:
1) If you are struggling with porn, sex, or any other maladaptive behavior realize there is a good chance a great deal of that stems from pain you’ve carried around since childhood.
2) Given that fact, don’t fall for the trap of blame and hating your parents for what they did. It may have been awful. But most likely they did what they did because they didn’t know how else to act.
“Hurt people” inevitably hurt people.
3) If you want to stop the cycle, then its on you.
If you want to stop the handed down emotional baggage,
If you wan to stop the self-medicating and soothing unwanted sexual behavior,
If you want to have a family life that’s fulfilling and not draining,
You need to make a change. Because the truth is while you can’t control what happened to you, you can control your response. Get the help you need. Find and build the relationships you want. Seek out the counsel that can help you get there.
Because the best Father’s day gift you can give your kids, is a mentally and emotionally healthy you.