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Recovery: How a good dad sees it

I have a growing appreciation for young people who are patient with my fatherly advice. While plenty of folks seek me out for this, others are subjected to it without asking or being sufficiently warned as to how candid I can be.

On my good days, I am patient and accepting of where folks are and what they struggle with. On other days, I want to hurry the process along. I want to shake them and say, “That thing you’re all messed up about? It doesn’t matter. You just think it does!”

It really is all in how you look at it. If you view yourself as the world does, then maybe those extra pounds matter. Maybe it matters that you live in a mobile home or that you never went to college. Maybe it matters what kind of car you drive or how much money you have.

But those are clichés. Deep down we know they don’t matter.

There are a whole lot of things we don’t talk about that don’t matter either. Maybe they only matter to you because you’re ashamed of them. If you look at those things through the eyes of a good father, their significance changes:

Maybe you’re stuck in things you used to do. Maybe you did some really bad things. From the perspective of a dad, those were mistakes. Those were shortcuts you sought. Those were things you thought were necessary. Fix what you broke. Make amends where you can. It matters so much more who and how you are today.

“I did then what I knew to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

Maybe you hated your body because the world or a monster taught you to. Maybe you cut or burned it. The relationship between scared and scarred is a powerful one. Maybe you were promiscuous and it’s left you feeling bad about your body or your worth. From the perspective of a good dad, those were attempts to release pain and be loved. No need for judgment there.

You are beautiful to me because your sexuality is no part of my assessment. Forgive yourself and raise your standards. Love should never be earned. You deserve to love and care for your body. I promise you it’s clean even when it doesn’t feel like it. If we’re going to feel whole, we can’t throw away parts. We have to heal them.

Maybe you turned to drugs and alcohol because life was too hard. Maybe addiction took you places that were worse than the nightmares you sought to escape. From the perspective of a good dad, you deserve to be free of anything that hurts you or takes away your freedom. Staying stuck in how low you’ve gone will just take you down further. There’s always a new bottom to hit.

No good dad looks down on a person unless he’s helping to lift them up. Rise up and reach out. Get clean and sober by any means available. Find people who believe in you and what you can become. Look for them in the halls of AA and NA.

Maybe you just feel lost a lot. A good dad would say something like George Bernard Shaw did, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Even when I knew that what was taught to me about me was not true; I still needed a lot of help finding what is true. The belief that you are not good enough is a lie that sick people taught you.

You deserve to see yourself through the eyes of a good dad: You are full of potential and a unique set of strengths. Seek out kindred spirits. You easily see the good in others. Let them teach you about the good in you. If you don’t have any kindred spirits, write to me and I’ll answer when I can:

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