September 5, 2017

Why Dads detach

Note: It has been a while since I have posted a blog.  I apologize for being out of rhythm while I am on the road with the Cycling for Recovery cross country awareness campaign (http://cyclingforrecovery.com).  I working diligently on getting back into my weekly blog rhythm.  

I have been reflecting on many of the conversations I have had with moms over the past few weeks about their husbands detaching from the support, education, and decision-making process. Many of these moms have hung learned to go solo in dealing with some of their issues with a child’s addiction and have expressed a quiet frustration about it.

While I am not a psychologist, I am a dad and a man, and I have some thoughts around this issue.

In anger and frustration stemming from their inability to fix or manage the problem to their definition of a desired outcome, many dads completely disconnect from the problem. Once they experience a repeated inability to fix the problem, their failure to control or manage it becomes so great, they simply decide they are not dealing with it anymore and detach themselves physically, though not emotionally, from the problem.

Dads have a funny way of responding to problems they cannot manage, control, or fix. The pull away and move on to something they can.  This explains why many dads become “too busy” to get involved in educational programs or parent support groups.

What we don’t see or realize is their hurt, disappointed, and frustrated in their inability to take care of the problem. Dads don’t know how to express or manage their softer emotions, other than through anger or detachment; both those behaviors are designed to protect them from revealing their true emotional state or display what is perceived to be weakness.

Anger is simply a manifestation of hurt.  The greater the anger, the bigger the hurt. Many men, me included, believe that hiding our hurt demonstrates toughness and resolve, when instead it reveals our inability to be vulnerable and authentic in our pain.

I struggle with, being authentic, humble and vulnerable. I believe I need to show a hard, tough, driven exterior and, through my resolve, my ability to maneuver around life’s painful places. It is hard for me to reveal the pain, failings, and disappointment I experience in myself. In the process, I don’t allow myself to find safety and protection in the love of others I need most; as a result, I miss out on the opportunity to heal and grow under the blanket of that love. By missing out in this experience, I struggle to offer true love to others needing similar protection and safety from me. After all, I cannot offer what I haven’t experienced.

It is a difficult place to operate from, having to protect ourselves from our own fears of failure and allowing ourselves the opportunity to receive what we need most from those most capable of giving it. This is what divides many parents struggling with addiction’s chaos, the inability to love, protect, and support each other.

Dads, if you are struggling with your pain and your hurt, you need to share it with someone you love and trust. You need to learn to find a way to trust that love enough to reveal your inner struggle. It is where healing begins in a very difficult place. You are not weak or broken or flawed, you are struggling to cope with a pain that requires something bigger than you to get through.

Moms, when your spouse reveals himself to you, listen and listen some more. Let him share his pain, let him find safety in telling his story, and allow him the space to reveal who he is in the struggle. You don’t have to have the right words or say anything special, you just need to allow him the space to find comfort in sharing with you what he is going through.

As the two of you begin the healing process, which requires complete safety and protection in each other’s love, you will eventually find a process for collaborating on how to support each other through this painful and difficult time.

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Beginning August 28, 2017, I began the Cycling for Recovery addiction awareness cross country cycling trip.  The mission behind this trip is to raise awareness to the issue of addiction in our communities while providing a message of hope and love to those struggling with addiction in their lives.

I would appreciate your financial support for this project.  To learn more or to donate, please go to: http://cyclingforrecovery.com. Thank you!

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About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.