The first time that I ever talked to a therapist, was right after I separated from my ex-wife. I felt like it was time that I tried to find some answers as to why I was the way I was, why I acted and reacted certain ways, and why I felt the way that I did. One of the first things he asked, was what I was like and what my ex-wife was like, so explained to him about who I was and what I was like, then what my ex-wife was like. Then, he asked me to tell him about my mom and dad, and what they were like, so I did.
That’s when I received a response that changed my life! He said, “So, you’re like your mom, and you married your dad?!”
My mind was blown!! I was like, “Holy Fuck!” It was absolutely true!
The craziest thing that came through for me from this revelation, was that growing up, I didn’t want to be anything like my dad, and couldn’t really explain why. I mean, I knew, but he was so well respected in the community, by his peers, and his co-workers. He was even the mayor at one time! The thing was, they didn’t see the side of him that I saw.
I did everything I could to avoid being like him, but what resulted was me attracting someone just like him. This time, it was in a spouse, and nobody got to see the side of her that I saw either… It brought up so many thoughts, feelings, emotions, and memories flooding back at that moment that it was overwhelming!
I knew right then that I wanted to dig deeper into this, find more answers as to why I was like this, and how do I make changes so I don’t continue this for myself, but most importantly, for my children.
That’s when I started really looking inward, but also having deeper, more meaningful conversations. Life was a consistent blur of surface level bullshit, talking about how busy we were, what the weather was like, or if I watched the hockey game last night. When I started having conversations about how I was truly feeling, what I was going through, mistakes I’ve made, and struggles that I’ve had, that’s when I really start connecting to others.
I remember the first “real” conversation I had after that call with the therapist. It was with a long-time friend from high school, and we were meeting after many years of not seeing each other. As we started talking, I started to share what I was going through, what I’d been through, the emotions I was feeling, and who I truly was and wanted to be as a man, and he listened. When I was done talking, it was silence… but then he said something that rocked me!
He said ”Me too bro”
Just hearing those words, changed something in me. I knew from that moment that I’d been lacking connection in my life, true authentic connection, with my ex-wife, my kids, my family, my friends, and everyone in my life.
I had changed. I felt different. I was going to connect with others, and I was starting with the connection I wanted the most, my kids.
The more I talked openly to them, the more they talked to me, and what really made the difference is when I truly listened to them. Not just to respond or give advice, but to truly listen to hear them. That made all the difference in the world!
I was walking with my son one time, shortly after the separation, and he said to me, “Dad, you’ve changed.” I said, “Oh yeah? What do you mean?” and he said, “you don’t yell anymore, you even hardly get mad anymore. It’s like, you actually listen now, and I don’t have to be afraid to talk to you anymore…”
They’ve seen, felt, and lived the benefits of how real, open, honest, and vulnerable conversations can change people’s lives for the better. They’ve witnessed their dad become the father they needed most, as well as the father he needed most.
I made a pact with myself that I would do everything in my power to do the work on myself, learn from my mistakes, heal my wounds, and not pass any more of them onto my children than I already have.
I will be open and honest with them, so they know who I am and where I am coming from, and provide them with the resources they need to be who they are meant to be, without the conditioning of their parents and generations past…
They continue to see a counsellor regularly, as a safe space to connect, to reflect, without their mother and I, which will continue to deliver on that promise, and will for as long as it takes.