I swore I would never be like him. I dressed differently. I didn’t drink. I broke the cycle. But no matter what I did, I still have become like my father. It’s taken me a lot of years to admit it, but now I know that it’s okay.
Have you swore that you will NEVER be like your parents?
But then we become them. And it scares the hell out of us. Recently one of my clients described how she can’t stand herself because sometimes she is like her mother. In fact, she said that she hates herself for it.
Why do we think this way?
Honestly, if I could be like my mother, that would be a great thing. At 77, she’s still she’s still energetic and creative, she’s caring to a fault and she forgives easily. She is gracious, she loves technology (most days) and she watches Netflix. Most of all, she has a sense of Faith that is unyielding.
But my father, that is another story. For years, I thought of him as a monster. I was angry and I was bitter. I hated him. Even though he died a long time ago, the residue of his anger, his abuse and his alcoholism left me thinking that there was nothing good in him.
Then I saw glimpses of him in my own behavior. And I hated myself.
It takes a lot of energy to hate yourself. You really have to work at it because we’re not geared to be so hard on ourselves. The more energy you invest in hating yourself or parts of your parents, the more preoccupied you will be with it all.
Becoming who we are meant to be means that we take the best and the worst of what was given to us. If you want to create a great future, you have to find a way to make peace with your past.
Who you are is a mixture of both of your parents, your environment (everything you learn from your family, your friends, your schooling and your jobs) and your choices. Maybe one of your parents had cancer. You are not destined to get cancer. You are different. Your environment can be different. You can make different choices with your diet, your exercise and your outlook. You may live a long and healthy life because you took better care of yourself.
When you can learn from the best and the worst of your parents, that is the day that you begin to live your own life.
I have learned a great deal from both of my parents. My only regret is that my father is dead, and he can’t be part of my life anymore. With time, and some good therapy I have been able to see the good qualities in my father. When he let his guard down, he was caring. He swore like a trucker, but then he could laugh and have a great time. He lived without a shirt and had a good size man-belly, but he lived life on his own terms. And he had some wicked demons that drove him to drink hard and take out his pain on others.
Sure, at times things weren’t pretty with my dad. But I miss him. He was a builder and there was a part of him that could look past what is and see what can be. I love that about him and I wish that my kids could be around him on his better days.
When you spend all of your energy hating someone (or hating yourself), you can’t see past it. When you let go of your pain, disappointment and unfulfilled expectations you begin to see life differently. You will learn more about yourself when you relax and allow yourself to be who you are.
No, you don’t have to wear the droopy sweats, have a beer belly or a comb over. You can do life on your own terms when you learn from your folks, both from their best and also from their worst.
Seven invaluable things I have learned from my parents
1.School is overrated, but go anyway. My parents never went to University, but that didn’t stop either of them from learning everything they could to better themselves and provide for our family. Even at 77!
2.Don’t be afraid to start over, just don’t keep making the same mistakes.
3.Keep learning, but don’t just read books. Let life be your teacher.
4.Make your dreams happen in your back yard. Maybe you dream of owning a bigger home, or an acreage. If you always live for what might be, you will never be in the present. Instead, make the most of your backyard. Plant yourself where you are and do everything you can to thrive… at your job, in your relationship, in your community.
5.Don’t let someone else tell you how to live your life.
6.Call your family. You may have experienced some hurt along the way, but if you can connect with them, do it. Your family may not be perfect, but if they have some goodness in them, they are worth it.
7. Don’t make deals with your demons. Let them go. Just do it.
*Adapted from Lessons from a Saskatchewan Boy, August 27, 2014.
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Keep it Real
Photo by Adam Butler