Yesterday, someone asked me why I make this thing so personal…..
First, understand that every time I write, I try to put a small piece of my heart in it…EVERY TIME. What I lack in writing prowess (and that’s a LOT) , I try to make up for in pure access to my soul. I do it because I have this weird sense that if I keep things honest enough, if I keep them pure enough, and that if I can address my own pitfalls, that maybe I can help someone else skip right over the ones in their path. I guess, you can say that ultimately, I do this to leave a positive mark on the world. I know that sounds corny, and cliche’ and all that, but it’s the absolute truth.
I never want to come off as too “soapboxy” so I try to tie things to my experiences…my shortcomings…my failures. The cool thing is, though, that I equally try to share my successes, my triumphs, my overcomings (Is that even a word?)….Sometimes I try to do it with humor, sometimes I try to attach as much of my own pain to the page as my meager skill set allows. Whatever I feel, I try to share with you….No holds barred. ‘Cause we’re family.
And THAT’S why I make this thing so personal….
Now that that’s out of the way…. (whew) let it be said that I am far from an authority on the perfection of the art of fatherhood. I am FAR from a perfect dude. I ASSURE you, that I was not born with the knowledge of the power of my words.
Knowing that, here’s a bit of soul baring….a bit of a confession.
As ashamed as I am to admit it, on more than one occasion, I spoke to my daughters out of pure anger, without weighing the potential carnage that my words could deliver upon their mental landscapes. There was a time that I did not understand the pure, raw force with which words could be delivered. I now see that they can be delivered with the unwavering hand of a skilled surgeon, or dumbly wielded like a blunt instrument in the hands of a mindless brute. Either way, without proper temperance, the damage can be great.
When I DID finally begin to grasp at a few straws of understanding, it was not a realization that came with any comfort, THAT’S for sure. My eventual epiphany came with fierce, prolonged and brutal realization. Making a long story short, (or shorter than my typically long winded nature allows) …It hurt. I mean it HUUUUURRRRTTTTT. I began to realize that my little girls held my words in the highest regards, and in return for this trust, I was sometimes planting the seeds of self doubt, self loathing, and low self esteem in the fertile fields of their minds. All because I didn’t take a few moments to gather myself BEFORE dealing with them. They placed within my hands the power to either help them realize their limitless potential or stifle their growth, and I was unknowingly pouring wet cement on the flowers of their minds. It took me a while,, but I’ve learned a very simple fact : A few minutes of unbridled anger can equal a lifetime of pain. No matter how little math you’ve taken in your life, you can see that that equation doesn’t balance.
Now, allow me to insert a bit of a caveat. My love for my girls was, and still is, without question…only my knowledge was suspect.
That being said, though, it really didn’t matter where my allegiances rested. The results of my actions did. The effects of my words and my actions always outweighed the grandest of intentions. There were times that I went into my dealings with the girls like a mad bull in a China shop filled with red vases…and delivered my words with just as much skill. Before I had even the slightest of inklings of what I was doing, I saw faces drop, jaws shake, tears break free, and a bit of glimmer in their eyes fade to nothingness.
Yeah, sometimes, in my zealousness to prepare my daughters for the “real world”, and the harshness of it, I would swing for the fences when I should just hit a sacrifice fly. Sometimes sugar coating things is not a bad thing. You know, I think all of us Dads are like that to some extent. Sometimes,we forget the power of our words, and we wind up doing harm and wreaking a havoc that far outlasts the echoes of our voices.
My Mama always says, “When you know better, you do better.” Consider this my helping you to know better; not as some guy reading about it from some psychology book, but from someone that understands what it’s like to be in the trenches, and sometimes feels COMPLETELY overwhelmed and ill prepared… just like you. Now, all that I ask is that now that YOU know better, that you balance that equation from earlier…..DO BETTER.
Don’t worry, though, all of this stuff is just between us, and I’ll never admit that I don’t have all the answers if you don’t, but together, maybe we can come up with more than just “Man”d-aids and we can all make a Positive mark on our worlds….. I’m here to help. Scout’s honor.