I don't even know where to start.
When I published "A Brutally Honest Talk About Why I Had to Disappear As a Dad Blogger," I thought I'd get a couple "Been there!" comments and a few "Parenting is tough, hang in there" words of support.
I don't often get nervous publishing a post, but I was nervous hitting "Publish" on that one. Parents don't admit that they don't always love being a parent (at least not in a serious way). Dads certainly don't talk about being vulnerable and going to therapy. And a dad blogger who gives dad advice sure as hell doesn't say "hey sorry I was gone for months, I was kinda screaming at my kids." But I needed to say it. And I was hoping maybe it would resonate with someone out there.
I was so glad to be wrong. It wasn't someone. It seemed to be everyone.
Guys, I really love all of you. And I want to give you all a virtual hug.
Because not only did you read a 1,900-word confession, you made sure to reach out afterward. You felt what I was saying, and many of you said that it rang true because it was just like what you were dealing with as a mom or dad.
Out of privacy, I won't, of course, list names here. But here's some of what I heard over and over:
- "That sounds just like me"
- "I thought I was the only one!"
- "Thanks for talking about this. I've been having a tough time myself."
- "I've thrown my share of things."
- "I know that exact feeling. Of being angry and not knowing why."
Initially, it was a relief just to see there were others out there who had lost control at some point, who were mad all the time, who were dealing with some hardcore emotions that we, as parents, just don't talk about much.
But then, as more messages came in, I also started to get the sense that I had stumbled upon something bigger than myself. My story was a very personal one — and I shared it because I try to be very honest with you since I can't ask you to trust me otherwise. But here were so many of you saying "hey, me too!"
What I discovered is that there are many parents out there who are dealing with anger, depression, isolation, and not feeling like themselves anymore.
If you feel like you're the only one who has gripped their child too tight because you've just had it, you've got company.
If you feel like no one understands where you're coming from about why, for no reason, you snap at your kids for doing nothing wrong at all, you're wrong.
If you think it's not worth talking to someone about any of this because it would sound stupid, I'm saying right now, I've got proof that far more people are dealing with it than you think.
Look, I'm one example. I'm still in the middle of it all, figuring out my next steps. And what worked for me certainly isn't foolproof. But whether you're a dad or a mom, I can tell you with certainty that it feels better to address your frustration and anger and lingering sadness. That might mean doing what I did, which was finding a therapist. Or maybe for you, it means having some long talks with your partner and adjusting expectations so life is more manageable. Or maybe you find a way to unplug for a long weekend, both from kids and online, so you can start to figure out what is really bothering you. Please don't do what I did for too long — pretend it's just a bad day here and there. You know the difference. You do.
I can tell you that 10 times out of 10, when I got angry, it was not for a good reason. It was just a trigger.
I don't know if you've been dealing with something for a month or a year or for what seems like forever. I'm already proud of you for even considering doing something new to work on it. And please, please remember - you can still be a great parent while also being a human being who is having a difficult time emotionally. You're not a failure as a dad or a mom because life has snowballed on you and you've hit a wall. It means you need help. At least I know I did, and I am very sure I did more than my share of things on the #ParentingFail list. (I assume there's a list.)
Parenting is not a Facebook photo album. It is some real shit. It is hugs and first words and Santa and school buses and all of that, yes. But it's also irrational crying and sleepless nights and meltdowns and missed milestones. And the latter means there are some real emotions going with that. I didn't do a good job, for a long time, realizing how that was impacting me. I hit a wall. The wall hit back.
And now I'm putting myself back together again.
I'd love to hear from you! It's been uplifting and humbling to hear people say they might start counseling or have a conversation with their spouse after reading my last post; I'd like to think it was an incidental push in the right direction.
Maybe today is the day you decide to start talking about what's going on. Because now you know you won't be alone.
As it turns out, we're all in this together.