2/23/19: Same Elephant.
Updated: Feb 24, 2019
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So, it's not that things get easier. You just become harder to disrupt. Hi, this is coach MK and this is the morning mantra.
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Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.
Today's mantra is "Same elephant. Same elephant."
Today's mantra is a response to a listener request.
"Hi Coach MK! Wednesday is the anniversary of my father's death. Without going into details. He sucked. I tell myself that I mourned the father I never had long before he passed. But honestly, I still struggle on days like his birthday and Father's Day. The anniversary of death is particularly hard because I get really angry it brings me right back to his funeral, and hearing what an amazing guy he was and apparently a wonderful grandfather to his step-grandkids after he sobered up later in life. To this day, I'm still like 'who the eff are they talking about??" After the anger passes I feel like I'm a terrible person for even having these thoughts. I tell myself "it wasn't that bad, It's not like he beat us." Anyway, I would love mantra to get me through this day and to have in my back pocket come Father's Day."
All right. One of my favorite sayings is that "the green green grass on the other side of the fence is fertilized with bullshit." When people die, shovels come out for all the bullshit we pile on top of their graves. for the neglected child, they might as well hit you in the face at that Poo-covered shovel; it is just cruel.
Now, let's gently tease these spaghetti strands apart :
1. parenting is hard for sure. But your experience is different. It is different. You had a crappy dad who failed you, full stop. You deserve better. He gets no grace there.
2. It is easier to be a grandparent than a parent. I say this lovingly with all my children piled in bed with my mom in the next room right now. As a grandparent you have zero responsibility, which makes it way harder to screw up. Seriously. It is a low low bar to be a good grandparent: show up twice a year, bring toys or candy, smile, listen, hugs leave. That's it. Honestly in most scenarios, you don't even have to be good. You just have to be not terrible, not unpleasant.
3. alcoholics are deceitful. It's part of the disease. They hide the drinking and surround themselves with enablers who demand everyone ignore the big drunk elephant in the room.
4. This is the hard one. I work with several recovering alcoholics. All of whom have screwed up their children in various ways the lengths to which they will go to really make amends with their children. It's astounding to me.
Truly astounding. Doesn't sound like your dad did this with you? So this is why I doubt that he truly changed. Sobering up and changing are not same thing. If he had changed. He would have started with you, family therapy and real outsized efforts to fix things. It's easy to be terrific, step grandparent. Again, you don't even have to form a real connection with anyone. I doubt anyone got more of him than you did. They just got a better show. the person referenced at that the funeral, he never really existed. Those people didn't really know him. They didn't have a real connection to him. He never failed them because he was never let them come close enough. He never put himself in a position where he could fail them. And if these people aren't going to hold him accountable, and it doesn't sound like they did, in his lifetime then they cannot hold you accountable for the feelings of loss his neglect created now that he's gone.
5. If your dad was abusive, toxic or main during your childhood has never taken responsibility for how he hurt you and the legacy of neglect continues to harm you to this day, you owe him and his memory nothing. Focus on yourself and get what you need no-guilt allowed.
Please please I say this lovingly if you aren't in therapy now get into therapy immediately and deal with the damage this man did to you. The feelings you described in your Email are precisely what therapists are for: touching on the root of your anger and working with it until you are undisrupt-able. Consider a support group like Alanon. Meet other people who carry similar burdens. It's okay to not be okay. You aren't responsible for the damage he caused, but you still need to fix it.
Back to the mantra: in these moments of anger, if you feel like others got something he denied you, remind yourself: "it's the same elephant different show, the green green grass on the other side of that fence was fertilized with bullshit." It doesn't get easier. But with time and therapy, you will become harder to disrupt.
You are coached, you are loved, and you ARE winning at life.
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