my dad’s contributions
parents always make contributions to their children whether good or bad. These are formative instances with my dad.
one time i asked my sister, 10 years and 1 day my senior if she saw dad as a good dad to her. she emphatically said yes. she went on to describe many of the things he did. he must of been taken over by aliens by the time i came around because that was not the dad i had.
i don’t think the alien came from a foreign planet or even a foreign nation. no, the aliens came right from his own house. you see i believe that the 5 children that came before me had made him a worn out and tired man. the routine repeated on a daily basis: wake up, get the kids up, get yourself ready for the day, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, sit in your chair, have dinner, go back to your chair and often fall asleep, wake up, get ready for bed, go to bed , repeat. that with six little hellions and soon to be seven, could wear anyone down.
discipline was often by the hand to the rear as if i needed to clarify. it happened often enough but not often enough. with one exception.
something had happened. i can’t precisely remember what, but i seem to remember it had to do with a broken window. dad would line up the kids walking back and forth as if that would extract a confession. in modern times i think we would have preferred some good old fashion waterboarding. whom ever got found guilty or claimed guilt would stay behind to receive their punishment and the rest of the troops were dismissed (my dad was a marine.)
this day, knowing that i had done the deed and being far too truthful, i fessed up to doing it. dad came and stood in front of me. he had an intense look of frustration and anger that burnt into my memory. I can envision to this day.he pulled back his foot and kicked me in the shin! it hurt and i reached down, grabbed and nurse my shin, now in pain.
i felt traumatized and the kick left a bruise. i said to myself, at a time where i must have been about 12, and vowed that if he ever laid a hand on me while i have this bruise, i would ride my bike across town to the police station, about a 20 – 30 minute bike ride away and report him. fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, he didn’t lay a hand on me in that time period. being from a different time period, i wonder if it would have mattered. good came of the happening that’s the last form of physical abuse i ever remember on any of us kids.
fast forward probably another 3 years or so, dad still held sway over us kids. dad had done something to me to piss me off. we stood face to face, at a comfortable distance in the hallway. in someway, verbal or non verbal, i expressed my anger. he answer in a louder volume than talking but less than yelling, “you can’t get angry at me. i’m your father!”
no wonder i lived in a house of emotional cripples. those rare times we could recognize an emotion, we weren’t allow to express them. not to mention the main expression of emotions from my parents was happiness by my dad, during an up part of a football game. negative emotions were strictly verboden.
with all of this as a backdrop, is it any wonder i struggle with authority figures. i had poor modeling. if i get out of line, i get kicked in the shin. no wonder i struggle with something so simple as asking my boss for a day off. i live in fear of what may happen, the proverbial kick in the shin.
so, my dad was not the perfect dad. whose is. i just wish he had been more of a teacher so i be a little less frightened and feel a little less clueless of the world around me.
in this day, i am called to compassion. my call for compassion is not only for me and my brokenness due to these events but also for my dad’s inability to handle these situations, because of his brokenness.
my dad’s inability to handle just about any situation points to a high level of brokenness. he didn’t deserve that. i find that sad for him. he obviously lacked the tools to handle parenthood. not having those tools not only crippled his ability to father children but also the ability to participate in healthy relationships.
finally, i get a healthy serving or two of self compassion, myself.
i get it both for the physical expression of anger and frustration and the lifelong impact it had on me. that feels sad. i can rap myself in love and comfort my inner child for a serious and unnecessary overreaction. my proverbial shins are safe from kicks.
i also get to comfort my inner teenager letting him know that the expression of emotions including bring-me-down emotions are perfectly normal and perfectly acceptable. i can rap myself in love and comfort my inner child for a stifling of acceptable emotions. my proverbial emotions can and will be expressed.
through me and my expression self compassion I can move myself closer to healing those old childhood wounds.