“The Sins Of Our Fathers Will Be Visited
Upon Our Community”
A quick disclaimer: I prepared a rant about how my sons taught me courage in facing my own advancing years and my father's illnesses. I threw that rant out after an altercation with another local New Hampshire resident with issues of his own and made my 'uplifting' piece irrelevant. Instead, I present this one to you.
This rant is about some pretty dark stuff. This is about my own reality and the things I have hidden in my closet. I have all these thoughts swirling around my head about fathers and sons, not repeating the same mistakes that were made and misdeeds that were done to me or that I experienced. I'm trying to keep my 'damage' to myself and not pass it down to my boys while at the same time making sure they have wonderful and challenging childhoods. I want them to be better men than me and there's a war I'm fighting from inside to make sure I don't fail. Every day is a battle. Some battles I lose. Some I win. I hope I succeed more then I fail, but there are sometimes I have my doubts.
Grassy Pond, Father's Day Late Sunday Afternoon - June 21st.
I'm trying to fish with my two sons and wife. The four of us had great success the night before, pulling a dozen fish out of the water the night before and we were trying another spot. Everything was great, until my youngest crosses the road without looking both ways. I panic and I yell at him, saying something I shouldn't have. The moment I said it, I knew it was wrong.
But I'm terrified of anything horrible happening to my sons. I've seen some horrible, gruesome things in my time and I know that bad things happen just when you turn away. I understand that he's four years old, but this wasn't the first time he crossed the street by himself. And people around here ignore speed limit signs.
Short while later, someone who was doing something further down the beach on Grassy Pond yelled at me for yelling at my son - saying I should be ashamed of myself. Which I was, thank you. He got out of his truck and got into my face. His breath reeked of beer and his cigar. In front of my family, he threatened to punch me - which I dared him to do so I knew he would spend the night in jail. He eventually drove away after some bogus posturing trying to prove what a tough guy he was.
One of the other fishermen who was out on the pond in his boat saw the whole thing and asked me about it. We both agreed that there was something more going on then just me yelling at my son. "You gotta teach him right," the other dad said as he was putting his boat on the trailer, "Kids can't just walk out into the road like that." We also agreed that I could have done something else besides just yell at my son. But in retrospect the same guy who yelled at me for yelling at my boy would have yelled at me for not saying something after he crossed the road without being cautious.
So, what really happened that day?
Alone, With His Beer and Cigar...
With absolute certainty this guy was alone on Father's Day, drinking his beer and smoking his cigar while he was thinking about his own dad and his troubles growing up. I'm sure he was taking a dark stroll down memory lane, fixated on all the wrongs done to him by his own old man - or how his father abandoned his family and had to watch his mother or legal guardian stress out over making ends meet.
Then, before he's ready to leave - he hears me stress out over my son crossing the road by the pond without looking both ways. After he finished his can or bottle. He yells at me for doing what he wished someone did for him. Then when I make a sarcastic remark (that's what I do, make funny observation or comment about the absurdity of life) he gets out of his truck and gets in my face looking for a fight - practically begging me to punch him in the face. But how did he know that I wouldn't shove my fishing knife into his gut or his throat?
This guy didn't do himself any favors or any good to anyone else. If my sons are going to remember anything about this - they aren't going to remember me yelling at my son for crossing the road before looking both ways. They're going to remember this guy getting out of his truck and picking a fight with daddy and how daddy stared this guy down.
After staying up all night unable to sleep and obsessing about this event, I was trying to figure out why this character would get so bent out of shape and try and start a fight with another father who yelled at his kid? How does this guy know that I won't come back some other weekend with a loaded shot gun and blow both his legs off or shank him in kidneys from behind if I ever saw him again at the local gas station? Who accosts someone for something like that, who puts his own life in jeopardy over something like this?
After a night of not getting any sleep and my second cup of coffee while talking to my wife about this was this conclusion; this guy must have really been abused by his own father and passed that on to someone else. Alone, drinking beer and fishing must have opened up some old yet still festering wounds.
I was also thinking about the horrible things that were yelled at to me while I was growing up for doing stupid things, and the abuse I experienced during my early teen-years. And the efforts I've made to make sure that the same things that were yelled at me don't get repeated back to my sons, and how sometimes I fail. I love my kids more then my own life, and in the moment of frustration I say things I know I should. Maybe it wasn't how I yelled at my youngest, but what I said that triggered something inside.
It's a war that I'm fighting within to make sure that whatever cycle of abuse and mental illness I may have inherited does not get passed on to my sons. Every day is a battle, and some battles I lose. But I hope I win much more of those battles. But what exactly am I fighting? What are my demons?
Surviving With A Fedora On And A Chin Up...
When I was growing up, I was the black sheep of the family, the butt of everyone's jokes. I was the jack ass. I played the roll of The Goat (someone to blame) when something was wrong and someone else needed to take their frustrations out on someone. Because I was awkward looking and too skinny, I was picked on by a lot of people. For years I was getting beaten at school, beaten at home and had to dodge bullies when walking the few miles home. I heard a lot of crap yelled at me. I was no good, I wasn't going to amount to anything, that I was an idiot.
There was a couple of years that I was beaten regularly. There were weeks when I was locked away in a concrete room with little to eat and a jug to use as a toilet. After dealing with my bout with suicide, my depression and loneliness were turned to anger and a survivor’s instinct. Then, years later I was homeless, either living in an old tent hidden away on state preservation land on in an old Chevy. I knew what it was to work out of those hardships, sometimes tackling two jobs while going to school full time while living in an abandoned mill and making it more livable.
Someone said to me that I've experienced a lot of cruelty, and not much love. I can't say as though I don't disagree. I honestly think that the memories of these events what keep me going now, trying to overcome those voices that still ring in my ear or roll around in my head.
I'm not a martyr, nor am I alone. I've spoken to a lot of you who have had similar experiences, and I think that's why we all gravitate toward each other on the net. I feel as if so many of us come to The Retroverse looking to start a new tribe or a new country - or even a new family, belong to something better then where we came from. A lot of people who come to these forums are hurting deep down inside, and hurting people hurt others. Like a lot of you, I took to emulating our on screen heroes, choosing someone who faced danger and hardships with humor and wit, (And an excellent choice in wardrobes?).
And some of us have the same questions about taking the best from the past and making a better future. Which brings us here after all the darkness and hardship we've witnessed, how can we shelter our kids from that and raise better families. I don't know all the answers, but I know we don't have any other choice but to try. Here's why;
I've been thinking a lot about the quote "The Sins Of The Father..." and tried to find the whole quote and what it means. I found this while searching...
Question: The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son a thousand times?
The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son. This is simple if you look at the way in which we teach our children then we teach them to sin as we sin. Thus they watch our ways everyday to figure out how to behave and if we do not set appropriate examples they do not learn appropriate ways. Then to introduce the things that society teaches the children experience the sins of the father in multitude. with each passing generation the world decays in morals and the children decay in moral values a little more thus showing this exact statement the signs of the father shall be visited upon the son a thousand times. we see this everyday and will continue to as long as we do not stop the way the world functions.
So this brings me to my thoughts on Fatherhood, dark as they may be.
There is inevitable hope and optimism that arrives with being the father of a newborn baby and all of us should try to hold on that for as long as we can. When both my sons were born, I thought about how they were going to change my life and how I could never be sad or angry again. Few years later, I'm yelling at either one of them for jumping on the bed or fighting each other over their toys. There are times when I hate yelling at them because I know I've failed, and there are times I have to yell at them to stop them from hurting themselves or staying out of danger.
I almost always regret yelling or just raising my voice. There's that moment in so many of our lives when we wake up to the realization that it's possible that we might do the same damage to our children that had been done to us. Not all of us faced violence and abuse. There are some of us who have had our heads filled with nonsense and garbage. Then there are others who are expected to succeed where our fathers failed in sports. Then there are many of us who suffer from a form of neglect by being allowed to play video games and eat junk food all day when we're not in school. The world is not a better place because we keep perpetuating these behaviors.
How can I end this cycle? I'm overly aware that what I do now will effect my kids for the rest of their lives. I feel huge amounts of almost crippling guilt about everything I've ever done wrong and there are indeed times that I've wondered if these three people would be better off without me. There are times when I'm so paralyzed with guilt and depression that I wonder if my own nonexistence would be better. I want them to be the best people they can possibly be. I don't want to be what mess them up.
But leaving them is no solution either, as you can tell by the rise of social problems that plague or society today. Absentee fathers are as much of a solution as building more jails is a sufficient way to prevent crime. If we don't figure out how to be better parents, or just better people in general and over come whatever issues we were raised with - the people who will suffer won't just be us or our spouse and children, but the people around us. The people who suffer will also be those in our community, work place, random strangers that torque us off.
I have no idea how to better answer the question about how can we do a better job then our bad parents or just a good of job as some of the good parents some of us were fortunate enough to have. All I can say is that I relate to those who are asking those questions.
We're all looking for answers, but I have none to give. Besides suggesting that we all just keep trying. I'm looking for answers, but all I keep finding is parts of the questions from my own past.
The answer begins with sometimes shutting up and not getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Words hurt, just as I've been demoralized by a complete stranger and incapable of working today at 100 percent, I'm sure some of the things I've said to my kids did the same thing. For everyone bad thing we say, we need to re-enforce the love we have for them by encouraging them a thousand times. I need to repeat over and over to my kids how proud their mother and I are of them and how they can over come any obstacle. We also need to change our tones of voices. Sarcasm can hurt just as much as anger, and can be twice as confusing.
We should take comfort in knowing that we've been wronged and that there's danger. We know where all the traps are and we know the wrong things our parents did. We need to just not do those things again. All we need to do is to be the parents to our kids that we needed. Not the parents that we WANTED, but the parents that we needed.
How can we help each other more? How can we be the solution to the problems we discuss on our forum and make the world better place for our families and children? Let me know in this thread...