Dads Lifting Dads

Dads Lifting Dads

I was naked on the shower floor, shaking, uncontrollably crying and all I could think of was how was I going to be a Dad.

It was a little more than a week after my daughter Betty was born. We were at home, and I remember my body feeling sore, I couldn’t get warm, and my body began to shiver. I didn’t know if it was severe sleep deprivation or if I was getting sick. In that moment I thought the best thing for me was to go and have a hot shower.
As the water from the shower began to heat up, my body was now uncontrollably shivering. I was in pain, my body so sore as I got under the hot water. Then it happened I was hit with a wave of overwhelming emotion, and I fell to the ground.
Naked, shaking and now uncontrollably crying all I could only think of in that moment.
‘How am I going to be a dad?’

As the emotions subsided and my body began to warm up, I picked myself up off the shower floor and I bottled that experience up. I shoved it deep down inside myself never to see the light of day. I was ashamed, I felt guilty, scared of being judged and I honestly did not understand what had happened to me.

How did I get to this point?

Growing up and still to this day I have only ever seen my Dad cry twice. The first time he hid in the backyard, away from the family. The second time was in front of me, he walked away without saying a word and came back to apologise for crying moments later. I can only imagine in those moments my dad felt ashamed, felt like he wasn’t a man and felt like he was letting me down. What my dad didn’t understand in those moments, I was able to see him be vulnerable, I could tell he was hurting and all I wanted to do was to help.

During childhood, I was never told to man up, to stop acting like a girl, that boys don’t cry or to be a man. My trauma was never about what was said by my parents, it was never about what was said by Dad during those moments, but it had everything to do with the actions I witnessed. Kids will pick up more on your energy and what you do, a lot more than what you ever say. I was witnessing how to suppress your emotions, an action and response that served me for over 30 years.

What I did not understand in that moment almost 4.5 years ago after the birth of Betty, my body was forced to release over 30 years of suppressed emotions. Feelings of inadequacy. Feelings of not being enough. Feelings I had bottled up for years purged from my body as I lay naked on the floor of the shower.

As Dads, as parents what we need to understand is that boys who are unable to express their emotions, will grow into men who are unable to express their emotions who become dads who are unable to express their emotions raising boys who are unable to express their emotions.

My healing begun not when my body purged 30 plus years of emotions but when I began to share my experience, when I began to break down the stigma around men and emotions, when I began to normalize these conversations and when I embraced that true strength lies in vulnerability.

We don’t need to just bring awareness to this cycle, we need to be the ones that break this cycle. Dads, if not us, who? If not now, when? Our kids, our partners, ourselves, need to embrace that we are not perfect, to show we are human and to be real.

Dads, its ok to show our emotions. To free the child we first need to begin by healing the parent.