"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,” 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.
The 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
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 parent.