Fathers can become good at pretending.
Being a father today is not easy. From the moment your wife walks down the isle you know… it ain’t about you anymore buddy! She gets her wake up call when your kids come along so that everyone can be equally disappointed!
My life as a father is an adventure all right, one horrible one after another! (Not really but sometimes it can feel that way.) Yes, we do feel things even though we’re not allowed to. By the time my wife and girls are done what seems to me like riding an emotional roller coaster (sorry for being honest), there often doesn’t seem to be much left for me. Just keep things running and never ever be perceived as being weak or needing anything, especially anything emotional!
Moms feel like so much of what they do goes unnoticed but, risking the displeasure of the female populace, they seem to have a much easier time bringing it up. What do dads do? Clam up. Not all of us but surely most of us? If mom cooks a meal in our home, mom gets thanked for it and rightly so. “You’d better thank mom if you want to eat and live indoors around here!”
I wonder how many fathers go to a job they hate day after day, year after year and rarely does anyone stop the presses and say “Thank you dad (hubby) for working so hard to supply my needs! I know your job frustrates you and takes so much time out of your life but I’m grateful…”
I already know the answer to that from many of you: “But he doesn’t need thanks like I do” or “It’s his job to do that” or “What about thanking me?” Sadly you are the ones who sit across from my desk mystified when he leaves and tell me “It all seemed to happen in a day!”
No it didn’t. He’s doing the What but you didn’t give him the Why. Part of the Why comes from inside of him but most comes from the reason he has that job in the first place… YOU.
And fathers start to numb.
Actually we all start to numb at times. We make the mistake of thinking that the painful parts of our lives are actually compartments. Compartments have doors and you simply close them and live in the rest of the house.
Your terrible childhood, the one who abandoned you, the one who hurt you, the one who should have done the right thing but didn’t…. to go on feeling the pain seems unbearable so you put it in a compartment and freeze it to protect yourself from being hurt. No one will ever hurt you again!
What if your personal pain has to do not with other people disappointing you, but with you disappointing yourself? You were the one who hurt. You betrayed. You sinned. You left. You were weak. You can’t seem to get it right. I can deal with the outside stuff but this gets complicated when shame lurks untethered in the area of personal failure.
Put it in a compartment and freeze it. Hope that it goes away and you won’t have to face your demons and walk through the fire?
The question is this: Can I selectively numb an area of my life?
No you can’t.
If you freeze pain you also freeze joy. You freeze innovation, creativity and change (Brene Brown). You don’t really live like whole hearted people live.
How can some people walk into a situation where they already know they are going to be hurt, and still they do it? Fear on every side and yet they, the whole hearted, make a fearless decision? They climb down into an arena where they will probably lose some skin and smile on the way down? I like that kind of person. I admire a grinning courage in the face of impossible odds! Bring it on! The heck with the cost, what about the possibilities?
You need to realize that when you freeze something you freeze everything. Things that make your life worthwhile don’t grow in ice. They grow where there’s light and heat.
The THAW is incredibly painful so let’s just skip to the kicker here.
When I was a kid I had pretty good frostbite on my hands one winter. They took about an hour to thaw out and the pain was excruciating, but at least I didn’t lose any flesh over it.
Flesh that’s been frozen too long dies and has to be cut away or you lose everything. That’s what happens in relationships. Frozen too long and a marriage dies. Or your work relationships or your friends or kids or …
So it’s our call, yours and mine. Am I willing to risk pain and discomfort in that relationship that I don’t want to lose again? Am I willing to walk towards the chaos no matter what the other person decides to do?
The shame of our past has so infected our lives that every single area is affected whether we think it is or not. How would we even know how much joy is available to us if we’ve never felt it before? Is it possible to live a whole hearted life? Love with no guarantees?
My dad taught me that if I didn’t like what I had I could change it. (Some knucklehead is going to say “So I should change my wife if I don’t like her?”. Don’t be an idiot). No, if I didn’t like my circumstance or behaviour… Change It! “But I don’t feel like it could change… I’ll change when they change… You don’t understand my circumstance!”
You don’t get it do you? Your thinking decides your feeling which decides your behaviour. Period. From the time I was a child I had the personal power that I decided my outcome, my circumstances didn’t. Tragedy happens. People criticize. My own weakness confronts me constantly. But I can change my reality because I can change my thinking. In fact only I can change it, and only you can change yours.
So decide right now if you don’t like the lack of joy in your life? You probably know when you started to disconnect from really living, so go back and walk through the pain where it started. I promise you it is the only way.
Find someone you can trust. Tell them your story.
Thaw out and revive. Sorry, but THISISGOINGTOHURT