“Life is too short to waste on hating myself, I won’t waste another day.”
It’s a line from one of our family’s songs. It’s just about my favorite line.
It’s a line that, after having written it, led me straight out of my church, a cult we’d lived in for just shy of 11 years.
It’s a line that, as we sing it in concerts, resonates with parents and kiddos alike whether they’ve heard us before or not. I’ll sing it with tears in my eyes. I simply can’t help it. Every, single time.
I look out at the people in the varied audience and see a few parents sigh, look down, or look me straight in the eye with the recognition that they want to believe it as well.
Sometimes I look certain parents in the eye after we do a concert, and I can feel their questions.
The life that I know that I have is quite short. I don’t want to spend it on self hatred.
But leaving the indoctrination of self-hatred behind is excruciating. It hurts. Many of us have had the idea that “nothing good is in me” drilled into us from such an early age that it can seem to be in our skin.
Self hatred is a crippling disease.
Shame is it’s name. The lovely Brene Brown says that the difference between shame and guilt, respectively is “I am bad” verses the thought that “I did something that was less than my standard and need to correct it.”
For me, after 38 long years of genuinely believing that I was a piece of shit, my wife proposed therapy.
My gut cried out, “See, you’re ruining your family and now you’re in for it.”
It made me feel like a disgrace of a man. It made me feel that, once again, I was a disappointment that, were I to be “out of the way” then the lives of those I love would be better.
The thing is, you can’t just shake off shame. It’s called the swamp of the soul. It’s a deadly and treacherous wasteland that perfectionism and self-righteousness are birthed from.
Living with it, and doing the *guy* thing of grunting through and trying to “make things work” was taking its toll.
It simply wasn’t sustainable.
So 4 months ago, I went to that first therapy session. And gratefully, it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life.
Now I’m a couple months in on a pretty intensive journey of treatment, tackling darkness and leaving it behind.
So, is this just a humble brag?
No, I really hope not. Rather, I want you to know that your kiddos are watching.
I want you to know that it’s ok to be broken, vulnerable and fragile in front of them.
It’s no easy feat to break down crying in front of those you love and try to protect, and put your power on the line. You risk judgment.
To my amazement, they’re encouraged. They want me to have a healthy heart and mind.
I believe that it’s because they want to have a healthy heart and mind.
Which example would we prefer to lead with: Stuff the emotions and pain to just “get by,” or to dig deep, admit that we need help and revolutionize our thinking?
I’ve had to ask myself whether or not I actually want to believe that I’m a worthy human, a worthy parent and have some self respect. I’ve been having to look myself in the mirror and decide if it’s actually *safe* to not think that I suck.
If I actually respect myself, will I still get things done?
If I actually value myself and my time with honor, will I still make things right?
Shame was my driving force.
I’m not by any means on the other side, but now being multiple months in, here’s a few beautiful side effects I’m beginning to see.
1 – an ever decreasing desire for self abusive behavior.
2 – a major decrease in the desire to numb and self-medicate.
3 – clearer and less confusing communication with my partner and children.
4 – more trust growing between all family members.
I won’t gloss over the fact that therapy is hard work. It can be brutal some weeks. But its good work. Concluding, clarifying and moving forward can give us the freedom to actually belief that we have a life that is truly *worth* the living.
Life really is far too short to waste on hating ourselves. Take the stigma off of your family’s idea of asking for help and show your kiddos that it it’s a perfectly helpful and outright good thing to do.
Enjoy the song and read on below the video for a couple of resources.
In a later post I’ll discuss the benefit of *secular* therapy specifically. See below the video for a resource we find particularly useful.