Tag Archives: abuse

Real Authentic Men – Forgiveness

All of us have had something happen to us that makes us mad, harbor anger, bitterness and resentment.  Events have occurred in our lives that have been turning points.  People are human and born out of sin and because of this; we collide with others and often react or do something that hurts another person, intentionally or unintentionally.  The fact of the matter is, the choices we make will affect others, seen or unseen, knowingly or unknowingly.  It is part of living here on earth.

As I reflect back on my life, many things have been said and done causing deep wounds, emotional hurts and some have paralyzed me to my core.  I feel like I walked around with a huge target on me.  I often felt like I was the poster child for how to screw up a boy.  In looking back at my life, it has not been a pleasant one on many levels.  My good memories pale in comparison to the bad ones.  So what did I do with all of this?

Most of my young and adult life was about taking whatever happened to me and just stuffing it.  I was resilient in my ability to just take and take.  My self-esteem was zero and even though I hated all that had been done to me, I just accepted this was my life, I was getting what I deserved and no one really cared so just suck it up and take it.  Because of this, I became a very angry and bitter young man who hated everything and everyone.  I would find something about you I did not like and that was it, you were dirt to me.  I did not want you around me, nor did I ever want to see or speak to you again.  I pretty much alienated everyone around me.  Bitterness and anger shaped me into something I never imagined.

I attended different churches since the 5th grade.  I heard to be forgiven you had to forgive.  That was the basic message and I never thought much about it.  After I got married, started having a family a friend of mine took me aside and said, “I think you have some serious issues you need to deal with.”  Of course, I got mad and dismissed what he said and being the person I was, I became angry with him and did not talk to him for quite sometime.  Looking back, I know God was trying to show me just how damaged I was.

Finally, I came around and went to talk with him.  We sat down and I went through a very exhaustive inventory of my life.  This included writing down hurts and pains I experienced, people who hurt me in various forms and my responses to all of it.  In the course of that day, I began seeing myself for who I really was and it was not a pretty picture.  My list included incest and physical abuse by older male cousins, rejection from other men in my life.  Names and curses flung at my by most folks from where I grew up.  I had a father who was sometimes present but absent.  There were pages of items listed out.  To see all of it written out the picture was clear for me.  It had all taken its toll on me and I had allowed it to shape the person I was.  I had allowed all this horrible stuff to gain control of my life and it was what fueled me to get through my days.

As we went through the list, I do not think he really had a clue about the extent of what I dealt with.  He talked to me about forgiveness and holding onto all that pain, hurt and anger and the power it held over my life.  We talked about how forgiving people did not mean I would forget it, only God was capable of that.  Forgiving other is agreeing to live with the consequences of their sins.  We discussed how I could live such a different life, a life of freedom if I was willing to let go of all of this stuff.  After talking for hours, it finally made sense for the first time in my life.  The true meaning of forgiveness.

We spent the rest of that day going over page after page, naming each hurt and pain and the persons involved.  I made the choice to sincerely forgive every person and event that occurred.  At the end of that day, I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.  I felt as though I had spent years and years of my life weighed down by a boulder.  Now I felt like the boulder was taken away.  This had been a tough day, one that should have occurred years ago.  That night for the first night in a very long time, I slept peacefully and soundly.  .

As someone whose goal is to be a real authentic man, I want to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me as well as ask forgiveness of those I have hurt.  As a real authentic man, you own up to your mistakes and fix what needs fixing.  If you have wronged someone, make it right as best you can.

As a husband and father, I want my wife and kids to know that I make mistakes all the time.  I own up to them and ask for forgiveness.  If I hurt them with something I say or do, then my response is to go and make it right with them.  It is hard to admit offenses and we were wrong, but I believe more honesty and sincerity comes from admitting you made a mistake and asking for forgiveness.  When we are forces to admit we did something that hurt another person and that it was truly wrong, I think that gets you to stop and think about it a bit more than you usually would.

Forgiveness is not easy by any means.  I still deal with the hurts and pains of what has been done to me.  The anger, resentment, and bitterness I once held onto are gone.  There are days I have ill thoughts or feelings towards those who have hurt me in the past, I remind myself I have already chosen to forgive them, and I left it with God.  I do not want anger and bitterness controlling my life.  I want to be free from that.  People hurt us and it leaves scars of all types.  Release people to God and allowing him to deal with the things they have done.  It is not my responsibility to get back at them, I rest in knowing that someday they will stand before God and be held accountable for their words and actions.  I am ok with that and I rest in the fact that they no longer hold power over my life.


Losing a Father

This has taken me a long time to get to this point, but it’s something I need to get out.   First let me say, no my biological Dad is not dead in the sense he’s no longer living. He’s still alive, just not a part of my life.

Maybe I should have titled this “sins of the fathers”.  For my Grandpa wasn’t much of a Dad himself.  What I can tell you about my Grandpa is he and my Grandmother married in their teens because he got my Grandma pregnant.  They were homesteader’s kids whose parents were trying to survive in Montana.  They had 6 kids, my Dad being the oldest boy, but 2nd in the family.  My Grandpa worked on the railroad while Grandma waitresses at a little café.  The stories I heard growing up included my Grandparents caring more about their own friends and the bar than actually being responsible parents.  Can you imagine what would happen with 6 kids unsupervised?  Chaos, fights and trouble ensued for sure.  I know when my Dad was as young at 1 his parents chained him and his older sister either to their bed or the front porch so they could go out drinking.  When they returned if they had, had an accident in their diapers they got beat for it.  When he was older, while his parents were gone he and his siblings got into some alcohol, got in a fight and he ended up getting hot ashes from the stove poured down his back leaving permanent scars.

My Dad only made it through the 8th grade and then quit school.  He lied about his age and joined the Navy.  Later he was dishonorably discharged due to fights and anger issues.  Upon returning home he got a job working on the railroad.  He became an engineer, while working he spent his time read encyclopedias and the dictionary.  My dad was a self-taught man.  He could fix vehicles and build pretty much anything he wanted.

My Dad was 29 when he got married and 31 when I came along.  When my mom was pregnant with me my Dad told my mom he would not be around when I was born, he did not wish to have any part of it.  He was in fact hundreds of miles away when she gave birth to me.

When I was little my Dad switched careers and became a cross-country truck driver until I was in high school.  During high school he returned to the railroad and continued until he retired from it.  When my sister and I were young, during the summers we took turns traveling with our Dad on his truck around the country.  By the time I was in the 4th grade I had traveled all over most of the United States. My Dad chose a job driving truck because he did not like having a boss watching over him, he did not want a boss who could check up on him.

My Dad really never wanted to be held accountable to anyone for any reason, he has always wanted to do whatever he wanted and never be questioned for it.  His ways were right and to hell with you if you questioned him on any it.  I’ve never once ever heard my Dad say he was wrong or apologize for anything he’s done.  Growing up the motto my Dad’s families held dear was “children should be seen and not heard”.  You were never to question anything he ever said.

My Dad was not one to express himself by any means, other than when he was mad or upset and then a stream of obscenities came spewing out of his mouth.  Any time he was working on a vehicle or project and things didn’t go according to plan, I would see him start cussing and yelling and if he was really mad he would pick up things and throw them.  Thankfully it never got thrown at me.  This was witnessed again a few years ago when my sister and I were home with our kids and my Dad was working in his shop on a project and it wasn’t going well.  Suddenly words and things start flying as he showed all of us how angry he really was.

The only affection my Dad ever showed was towards my mom, she got a kiss and hug and once in a while they would hold hands, when it came to my sister and I, we got nothing.  The only time my Dad wanted me around was if he was home and he needed help working on his truck or vehicles.  I hated this and wanted nothing to do with it, but he would force me to come out and help him.  If I would try to take off I would get yelled at and told to come back.

When I was in the 5th grade my Dad decided he wanted to join AMWAY and so he and my mom left and went to a conference in Kansas City, Missouri and came back and got involved.  Part of what they were told was “it would look better for them as a family if they went to church”.  So we started going to church as a family.  My Dad went a few times and then he was done.  He was there the day my sister and I got baptized, but he never went again until years later after I had started my family.

When I was little I wanted a Dad who was involved in my life.  I wanted a Dad who took an interest in me, who would play with me.  When I went to school and started getting teased and made fun of, my Dad was not around, he was off traveling the country.  There weren’t any other male figures in my life.  My Mom was raising my sister and I.  When kids started hitting or punching me, I wanted my Dad to come and make it all better, but he was gone.  When I started getting molested I secretly hoped somehow my Dad would figure it out and come and rescue me, but he had no clue. Most of my birthdays he was never home, special events or activities I was involved in he was absent.

When I was a freshman in high school amidst the pain of rejection, sexual abuse and being bullied at school, during a homecoming football game, some guys during half-time took me and dumped me into a dumpster as parents and other students passed by.  This was a breaking point for me.  I went home that night and determined I was going to end my life.  I contemplated blowing my brains out in front of the school or going out in some horrific way to show how angry and upset I was.  A few days later, I was home alone and I tried to kill myself by taking a bottle of pills.  My Dad actually happened to be home at this time and so when my parents found out what happened came to the hospital.  When my Dad showed up he said, “I don’t want you to die, I do love you,” (that was the last time my Dad ever told me he loved me and that’s been over 25 years now).

Over the years I have sent letters to my Dad asking him hundreds of questions, wanting to know what he thinks about me, is he proud of me, what had he hoped for in a son?  Was I a disappointment to him, had he wished for something else?   Why would he have helped to create me and then wanted nothing to do with me.  I’ve gotten no responses.

Despite wanting my Dad to engage with me and actively be involved in my life I never got it.  It hurt and still hurts to this day.  There are days the pain of it all just wrecks me.  I have to stop and deal with my anger, hurt and pain.  Sometimes it’s more than I can take.  It’s very much wounded me and shaped who I am as a man, husband and father.  As a little boy I remember thinking I have to do this on my own, there is no one for me to count on.  I have to take care of myself, because no one loves me enough to do it.  I can also remember vividly telling myself over and over how I would never be anything like my parents, especially my Dad.

Going home over the years has never been an easy thing for me.  I always feel like I am more of an intrusion in my parent’s life than welcomed.  The stress level is high and there have been many fights and arguments over the years.  My Dad still has not changed, and at this point never will.  Even my own children have begun to notice all of it in the last couple of years, wondering what’s going on?  They can tell how incredibly stressed I am around my parents.  Generally for the most part I end up spending as much time with my friends as I can and keeping my time with my parents to a minimum.

In the last couple of years I finally came to the realization, this is insanity.  I can’t keep doing this; it’s not healthy for me or my own children.  What I needed I never got and can never get it.  I needed a Dad who loved me, protected me and wanted me.  I was hurting, angry, lonely, defenseless, I shut down when I was little and looking back there are clear signs that something was terribly wrong and those signs went unnoticed. I’ve had to make the choice to say enough is enough and not allow my parents to be a part of my life any longer.  I have lost hope and stopped praying it will ever change.

I lost my Dad from a very early age.  It’s been one of the hardest things to work through in my life.  In not having a father I know what being a man, husband and father isn’t, but in my attempt to be a man, husband and father, I have had to go about it on my own.  I will never allow this to pass on to my kids.  I made a vow when I was little that I would be nothing like my Dad and to this day I am nothing like him.

If you are a Dad, please, invest in your children, they need you an active part of their life.  They need a Dad who can show affection, express himself and tell them every day how much they are loved and valued.  Find out about your kids, if something seems off, most likely it is, ask questions and keep asking.  Don’t allow what happened to me to be what happens to you and your relationship.  Your kids are counting on you.