"What we traditionally have called normal
parenting in this society is abusive because it is emotionally dishonest.
Children learn who they are as emotional beings from the role modeling
of their parents. Do as I say not as I do,î does not work with
children. Emotionally dishonest parents cannot be emotionally healthy
role models, and cannot provide healthy parenting.
Our model for what a family should be sets up
abusive, emotionally dishonest dynamics."
"As a child, I learned from the role modeling of
my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger....."
"In this society, in a general sense, the men have
been traditionally taught to be primarily aggressive, the "John Wayne"
syndrome, while women have been taught to be self-sacrificing and passive.
But that is a generalization; it is entirely possible that you came from
a home where your mother was John Wayne and your father was the self-sacrificing
The point that I am making is that our understanding
of Codependence has evolved to realizing that this is not just about some
dysfunctional families - our very role models, our prototypes, are dysfunctional.
Our traditional cultural concepts of what a man is, of what a woman is,
are twisted, distorted, almost comically bloated stereotypes of what masculine
and feminine really are."
An incident happened when I was about 11 that I didn't understand until
several years into recovery. At my grandmothers funeral I started
crying hysterically and had to be taken out of the funeral home.
I wasn't crying because my grandmother had died - I was crying because
I had seen my uncle cry. It was the first time in my life I had seen
a man cry and it opened the floodgates of all the repressed pain I was
carrying. Of course, I went right back to repressing after
that because I still hadn't seen my father cry and he was my role model.
Dance of Wounded Souls
The belief that it is unmanly to cry or express fear is part of the
prototype for what a man is supposed to be in our society. Most men
are programmed to keep their emotions (except for anger) bottled up in
a concrete bunker inside of themselves because that is what they learned
from society and from their role models. Some men, of course, go
to the other extreme and because they don't want to be like their fathers
are out of balance in not being able to own their anger - these men usually
marry women who are like their fathers.
Growing up with fathers who were emotionally crippled by their role
models and society's beliefs has damaged us all. Men can't be emotionally
honest with others because they don't know how to be emotionally honest
with themselves. Subconsciously they don't have permission to own the whole
spectrum of their emotional palette. It takes a lot of work and willingness
in recovery to change the emotional programming we received in our childhoods.
And it is vital to do that work because being denied access to emotions
denies access to our hearts and souls - denies access to the feminine energy
within. A man who has his emotions dammed up in a concrete bunker
within has a dysfunctional relationship with his own intuitive nurturing
feminine energy and, of course, with feminine energy of those around him.
That is, of course, one of the curses of codependence that women experience
- men who don't have a clue what feelings are. If Dad was emotionally
unavailable then a woman is attracted to men who are the same - in an ongoing
attempt to prove they are lovable by changing an emotionally unavailable
male into one who is available. And if Dad was emotionally available
it was often in an emotionally incestuous way (surrogate spouse) so in
that case the last thing a woman wants (on a subconscious level) is a male
who is available emotionally - because the burden of feeling responsible
for Dad's feelings was too heart breaking.
There is an additional way in which women are wounded by their fathers
that I have never heard, or read, anyone talk about. It is a devastating
blow that many daughters suffer on a subconscious level. It comes
at a very vulnerable time and contributes more evidence to the message
that there is something wrong/less than about being a woman that most girls
have already received in ample supply from society and the role modeling
of their mothers.
This happens when girls start developing a female body. Their
fathers, being males of the species, are naturally attracted to the awakening
feminine sexuality of their daughters. Some fathers of course act
this out in incestuous ways. The majority of fathers however react
to this attraction (which in shame-based western civilization is not acknowledged
as normal but rather is so shameful that it is seldom even brought to a
conscious level of awareness) by withdrawing from their daughters, emotionally
and physically. The unspoken, subconscious message that the
girl/woman gets is "when I turned into a woman Dad stopped loving me."
Daddy's little princess is suddenly given the cold shoulder, and often
is the recipient of angry (sometimes jealous) behavior from her father
- who up until that time, often, has been much more emotionally available
for his daughter than for his wife or sons.
In a healthy environment an emotionally honest father could recognize
that his reaction was human - not something to be ashamed of - and also,
not something to act out. He could then communicate with, and have
healthy boundaries with, his daughter so that she would know she wasn't
being abandoned by her Dad.
Whether your father was John Wayne or a milquetoast, whether you are
male or female, your father was wounded by his role models - both parental
and societal. Even if he was relatively the most healthy man
on the planet, he was still wounded because civilized society is emotionally
What is so damaging about being raised by wounded parents is that we
incorporate the messages we got from their behavior and role modeling into
our relationship with ourselves. At the core of our being is a little
child who feels unworthy and unlovable because our parents were wounded.
In order to heal our relationship with ourselves and achieve emotional
honesty it is vital to take a realistic view of how our fathers, and mothers,
wounded us. That is necessary in order to heal the relationship with
the masculine and feminine energy within us so that we can be our own Loving