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Category Archives: Dads

Me and My Pharma Cocktail Took a Little Trip


I took a trip I haven’t taken in a while.

It was three hours, from Virginia to North Carolina.

To see my dad.

It meant the world to him and he was grateful and happy.

Regardless of the short distance between us, we haven’t spent much time visiting with each other. The last time I saw him was two years ago in the hospital after my suicide attempt.

I think this weekend I learned what it means, not to be a dad.

But to be a son.

 
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Posted by on 11/13/2016 in Dads

 

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Dad Issues, Part 2 – Me, My Dad, and Our Religion


dad_001

From left to right- my younger brother, me, our dad, my younger sister, & someone’s elbow.

This is the second part in a series of self discovery by looking at my dad, and our relationship. Be sure to check out the first post on the connection between our angerThese posts are a way of thinking out loud to discover if there is a connection between my dad and my depression. 

*     *     *

I don’t resent my dad. And I don’t intend for these posts to shame him on the www.

He always provided for our family. He never physically abused my mom and never cheated on her. He never drank and he never came home drunk. In fact he came home every day after work, whereas a lot of his friends probably took to the bar and the strip club…even if they were married. He conducted himself like a gentleman.

Dad was a family man. He took our family camping each year. He raised me in the Baptist church and modeled Godly principles. He served his country for 21 years in the US Navy as a submariner. He’s retired three times since then. Certainly a hard worker with a work ethic as impregnable as steel. He will always be an honorable man in my eyes.

*     *     *

This post is a narrative on the role religion played both in my life and in the relationship between my dad and I.

The Baptist Church and Hell-

DB-f108r-d2l

Dad and I had a tenuous relationship exacerbated with the issue of church. I grew up in the New England Baptist church. Yeah, you know, fire-and-brimstone, burn in hell if you do one thing wrong. Set those furnaces to BROIL for this guy! Start the barbecue, baby, this party’s about to get started!

Understanding this Baptist view of Hell is important because it was a major deterrent and tenet of my church.

So, also having a huge inner self-critic (Type 1 enneagram), really made things ride high on the scale of suckwad . I grew up with a huge guilt complex (still live with that, good times) and fearing my actions would earn me an eternity in napalm. You know that stuff has to extinguish itself, right? The jelly burns until there’s no more jelly.

Burns through clothes.

Through eyelids, lips, and scalps.

Down to the bone. I suppose it could disintegrate bone and teeth, too.

The cool thing I’ve learned about the fire in hell is that it never goes out. Kind of like those war memorials of the eternal flame – like the JFK memorial. You’re just doused in it. And you burn for the rest of your existence with no relief. Yeah that mess scared me as a child.

Even more as a grown man.

That was such a great deterrent to being unsaved. Screw that mess! Burn in hell for eternity, or live in a place with no brokenness, sadness, hurt, or pain?

The answer was easy. SAVE ME LORD.

Now in reality I didn’t decide to be born again for this reason, but growing up in the Baptist church had a huge impact on my growing up.

Here’s a few ways- 

We always fought about church-

I remember that my dad and I argued pretty much every Sunday after church about things like-

♦  Why I had to go if I didn’t get anything out of it?

♦  Why I couldn’t wear jeans and had to tuck my shirt in (I HATE tucking my shirts in, call it slovenly, it works)?

By the time I signed up for the Marine Corps, I was ready to get out and live my own life, free from the guilt of Baptist Christianity.

I have a huge guilt complex-

I’m really glad you asked about that last part…you know…that part about guilt. Guilt is a HUGE part of my personality.

Just shy of 42 years old and I am starting to outgrow it and put it in its place. I don’t know where this came from but I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere between me being the oldest child and the tenets of that little Baptist church in southeastern Connecticut. I’ve talked to other “oldest children” and they seem to be able to relate to this idea.

I don’t think it’s the fault of my childhood church, rather it may have been the way I interpreted what was preached. There didn’t seem to be any raw compassion.

There was a lot of friendliness, but there wasn’t any talk of real world issues.

THAT’S IT! No. Talk. Of. Real. World. Issues.

real talk_if you really knew me_001

No talk of struggles with porn.

No talk of suicide.

No talk of brokenness.

No mention of…

“I’m hurting and I need your help”

“I can’t pay my electric bill and don’t have food for my kids”

“my wife cheated on me and I can’t handle these feelings”

“I am constantly angry”

You know…no talk of real talk. It was all so perfect and I never felt like I fit in.

So I just suffered inside.

I felt like the black sheep-

I felt like a circle trying to fit in a square.

I never felt a connection between church and my life. I felt so OUT OF TOUCH with it all. It seemed SOsososososo isolated to me.

I felt outside and evil for thinking, acting, and being something that was SO out of touch with my church. In actuality, I probably thought things that a lot of other folks there thought and struggled with.

I felt shame because of my lust.

I felt evil because of my language.

I feel like a let down to the people around me. 

In fact, if you REALLY knew me…

I always felt like I was either hiding something. Or faking something because I felt it would earn my dad’s approval. It wasn’t his fault. I always thought my dad and mom were perfect. They never hit each other and I don’t remember them fighting until their separation. They never cussed at us or berated us. They never had affairs. They never drank. They were both good, good parents.

And along with the Baptist upbringing, I never felt like I could measure up to their example. In fact I remember one day my mom told me that I woke them up cursing at the top of my lungs in my sleep. I remember my mom saying something like that meant I do it in when I’m awake. And she was right.

[“I hear the secrets that you keep…when you’re talking in your sleep”]

I felt a huge amount of shame and guilt. That afternoon, after I got home from school I wrote my first suicide note at my desk with a razor blade out.

That’s what my religion did for me.

“The opiate of the people”.

Thanks Karl Marx.

Lessons Learned-

Let’s wrap this up F Troop

♦  Openness and input. I don’t want to force my daughter to go to church. I’d like to think of it as encouraging her and explaining the benefits to her. I don’t want to it to be a “you’re going as long as you’re living (visiting) under this roof.” She should be able to see some importance in going. Some goodness in her life. It ain’t easy getting up to an alarm clock on Sunday. But amen brother, it helps me to be a gentler, self-sacrificing human. I also want her to feel her input is welcome and regarded. If she doesn’t feel she is getting anything out of it, I would prefer to have a discussion with her, instead of some mandated directorate sent down from me to her.

♦  Try not to give up. As a child, my religion reinforced my already huge guilt complex. For the past several years, I have become a member of a church where I feel like my needs are being met. We call it our hospital. It feels good. I’m glad I found my way there.

♦  Admit your humanity and imperfection to your kids. I try to remember to tell my daughter my imperfections whenever I can. I don’t want her to grow up with the guilt complex I had and still struggle with. I tell her when I’m wrong and I apologize. I give her examples of times I’ve jacked things up. I constantly tell her it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and don’t repeat them. She’s seen me give a reckless driver the bird and has heard me cuss. She knows I have a temper. I slip. She knows that. And she knows it’s wrong. She also knows that I’ve been humbled because I try to admit my imperfection to her.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post, my friend. How has religion impacted who you are today? I welcome your thoughts in the Comments section. 

 

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Father’s Day Funny


Coffee mug showing Darth Vader holding his hand out with quote  saying, "I am your father."

Luuuuuuuuuuuuuke.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 06/21/2015 in Dads, Humor

 

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I’m Getting Her PTSD. Pt. 4 [POEM]


How do you relate to the people in your life with PTSD?

This post is part of a series of poems dedicated to my girlfriend. She has PTSD and severe anxiety and you will understand her story with each post. Each time I learn something about the mental conditions she lives with, I add a “part” to the series. Please read the previous verses. Each can be found at these links – Part1, Part 2 and Part 3 of her story and the lessons she’s taught me.

Photo of abandoned girl with her legs crossed and her head in her lap.

Remembering all those children of fathers whom they have never had the chance of knowing. I am praying for the emptiness in your soul to be filled with peace.

Fatherless Day-

She sat next to me, as the fathers all stood,

And her soul crashed onto the rocks.

Because she’s never known hers, in all of her years,

Through all of life’s punches she blocks.

My soul is torn, as I stand up,

Next to my beautiful daughter of ten.

Through the pain and the hurt, the tears and the loss,

I’d throw down, I’d do it again.

I feel her pain, and it humbles my soul,

The feeling is so hard to take.

To be humble and proud, as I stand in the crowd,

When she’s sitting there in so much pain.

She doesn’t speak a word, but she rubs my side,

She is so strong and helps me along.

She tells me to keep fighting, to be there for her,

The daughter who I sometimes feel I’ve lost.

Her heart aches and yearns, for a father she’d know,

A man whom she could call dad.

And I want to take it, make it all go away

The abandonment and the sad.

So I’ll honor her, and her tenderly tough soul,

And the selflessness she always gives.

And hold her hand, through this painful day,

And the heartache through which she has to live.

She’s grown on me, and taught me her life,

My mouth hangs open in awe.

For I’m getting her condition, her PTSD

I’m beginning to understand it all.

Thank you for reading the fourth installment of this poem. Please pass it onto those who are missing their fathers today.

 

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Why Doesn’t My Daughter Love Me?


What Did I Do That Was So Horribly Wrong?

silhouette of dad and daughter holding hands on the beach That’s what it feels like. It feels like she doesn’t love me.

“Of course she loves you, you’re her dad” they almost jeer from the side like some frenzied Colosseum.

I see her every two weeks from Friday through Monday morning when I drop her off at school 50 minutes away.

I call. I text.

And no answer. This is my trigger.

I’ve felt like a horrible dad since last September. Probably even before that. You all know what happened last September when this trigger hit the hardest it’s ever hit. 

It’s one of the hardest demons for me to face as it lifts its cowl and I see its razor incisors dripping to gnash.

I Abuse Alcohol.

I drink.

I’ve been drinking regularly.

I’ve become really good at that.

I escape.

The buzz kind of numbs the pain. Sometimes it backfires. Like when you zip tie your neck to your bedroom closet’s doorknob and fist a bottle of sleeping pills down your face.

I Get So Angry

I get angry because I subscribe to blogs where women write about their dads. Some good, some bad. They miss them or they remember how good they are to them. The good ones call and stay in touch with their girls…their kids. Even the bad ones; their daughters still yearn for a relationship with them. It’s their biggest dream.

You know how painful it is when you call or text and YOU KNOW there will not be any response?

Do you know what kind of strength that takes?

How deep the wound of worthlessness continues to open?

How much the nine inch nail is driven?

It’s one of the worst pains in the world. I wish it on no one.

I’ve Read Books.

Maybe I Should Practice What They Preach. Maybe I shouldn’t have read them at all.

Divorced dads books on a shelf

What I Hang On To.

A fellow blogger framed it perfectly for me. I can’t quote it or remember who it was but the gist of it was, “even though my mom and dad were divorced, my dad delivered flowers to me every Valentine’s day for the past [#] years. No matter how far away he was. No matter how busy he was, the flowers showed up with a note EVERY single year. Because of that I know he never forgot about me.”

‘Nuff said.

Do any hurting sons/daughters have advice for me? Thank you for taking your time to read this.

 

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Dad Issues – Part 1(?) – Forgiving my Dad’s Anger


remember my dad’s weapon of choice. A thin leather belt.

Sure, I remember his good qualities, too. But those aren’t the ones that cause us to alter our psyche in a harmful way are they?

I’m going to start with a short disclaimer – I don’t resent my dad. And I will not slam him on the www. He always provided for our family. He never physically abused my mom and never cheated on her. He took our family camping each year. He raised me in the Baptist church and modeled Godly principles. He served his country for 21 years in the US Navy as a submariner. He’s retired three times since then. Certainly a hard worker with a work ethic as impregnable as steel. He will always be an honorable man in my eyes.

 

The Struggle is Real-

But I’m looking for deeper meaning in the relationship we’ve had as father and son. I’ve been examining the connection between he and I to help me understand who I am. Why I am the way I am.

  • Why am I so angry?

  • Why am I tired all the time?

  • Why do I hold onto bitterness and resentment so easily?

  • Why do my relationships fall apart?

  • Why do I find it so hard to communicate when it’s the hardest to communicate?

  • Why do I struggle with lust/porn/sex addiction?

Sure some of these are unique to me. Then there is the ole argument of nature vs. nurture. I’m interested to know the difference. The issue that largely consumes me is my mental health. Particularly depression. Was this handed down to me from my dad? If it was, I’m determined to break the chain. It’s so hard to do if it’s your everyday reality. It almost feels like I have to die and be reborn to be rid of it. The struggle is real. On the other hand, if it wasn’t handed down to me, then I’m the first link and must prevent a chain from being built with my daughter.

Yes I’m a replica of both my mother and father, but I’m interested in focusing on the dynamics of a son and his dad. Particularly because I’m a dad.

 

“Hi I’m Chris”-

“Hi, I’m Chris. I’m 41 years old. I served in the US Marine Corps for four years after high school. I taught high school for nine years, and am now about five years into my second career. I’ve had an unsuccessful marriage. I have beautiful nine year old daughter. I live in a 2-bedroom apartment with my bunny, Vanessa and am thousands of dollars in debt. I’ve survived with depression since middle school. Last September I hanged myself.” Some story.

So back to the belt…

 

Triggers-

My dad had a rule: we got spanked (leather to skin, no pants up folks) for every toy of ours that was laying around the house when he got home. I remember one night (while sleeping in the top bunk) my dad came in and started whipping me while I was under the covers. What did I do that was so horrible that it would make my dad want to do that to me while I was sleeping? I vaguely remember it being because of a toy truck that he found lying about. Trigger.

I remember another time I was in sixth grade and caused some destruction in the boys bathroom while goofing off with a friend of mine. That night my mother and father took me into the basement.

He took his belt off.

He told me to drop my drawers and gripped my arm to keep me in place.

I remember 13 lashes before I passed out.

I woke up in bed to my dad crying over me, apologizing, swearing he would never spank me again.

He never did.

My dad also had another tool he used to punish my brother and I. He made us box each other. Not for entertainment, but to teach us a lesson.

He would get sick of us arguing with each other – trigger – and he made us stand toe-to-toe and hit each other. ‘Course we never did. We just stood there and sobbed, saying we didn’t want to. That’s when he would get behind my younger brother and wrap his own hands around my brother’s fists and punch me into the wall.

 

The Code of Hammurabi-

I’ve been thinking lately that these events may rate the category of traumatic events. I’ve never thought about them that way. But I’ve been reading how some mental illnesses may stem from traumatic childhood events. I’ve tried to scan the microfiche of my life library to see where this applies to me. Is this where my depression comes from, or is it genetic?

I never held these things against my dad. I never felt he needed to be forgiven. It always seemed justified. “It only happened a couple of times.” I was in the wrong. The practical punishment seemed to fit the criminal’s crime. You know, eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth Hammurabi style, baby!

I never saw them as anything I needed to bring up in therapy, but maybe I do. Either way, I think I answered where my anger comes from.

Stay tuned for more in this probable series…

 

Lessons Learned-

I’m a list guy. A bullet freak. An itemizing, categorizing, trying-to-be-organized-ball-of-mess. Lists and bullets force me to think and process. They force me to find a deeper meaning. I’m going to view this as a living list and reflect on this often. When something comes to me, I will add it to the list below.

Here goes –

  • Hitting. Just because someone is hit as a kid, doesn’t determine they will grow up to be a hitter. Even though I was subject to physical discipline, spanked, etc., I never once did the same to my daughter or step kids. In fact, I’m not physically confrontational and hate fighting, etc.
  • Love. Loving someone is not just shown in what you do, but what you don’t do. Though my dad “hit” me as a kid, he did so many other things to show his love for me. Do I condone the way he did things? No. Do I handle things differently? Absolutely. We always try to correct our parents’ “mistakes” don’t we? In the end causing our children to correct OUR mistakes with them.
 

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Worthless


(TRIGGER WARNING)

1960984_10202491171814159_485584771_o (1)

it ain’t no screem no cry for help

when you find yourself at the end of a belt

when she don’t answer the phone

and you can’t talk to your girl

give up it shouts

punching your ribs

blind sided kidney sucker punch

spent

hopeless

the warrior down for 1…2…3!!!

all sporks melted in resentment

at Her

for injecting her with Her queen venom

stay strong for her, dad

you fight

don’t you dare give up on her preciousness

you call and leave messages

every

day

if that’s what you’re blessed with

fight the fight

put down the drink

show her strength

that you remember her

never forgetting her while you’re apart

out of sight, FOREVER in mind

in heart

show her you remember

show her your dedication

be the best dad that you can for her

while you’re not there

and she’s still there

keep her visitation room clean and tidy

clean her every other weekend clothes

stocked Lunchables in the fridge

for when you take her to school

what do you do

when you feel like you’ve abandoned

her?

writing through tears

and fears

of losing her forever

loser dad, not there, not present

how much will I miss out on

quality not quantity

fight the noose

the depression

the specter

slashing my achilles with His knives

Lord please give me your strength

 
 
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