I was in it, the pit / you were in it, the pit
This post really hits with me especially where I have been at lately. I feel like the flat feeling is me 90% of the time. So much so that I am like how long have I been here? The isolation that is baked into the world these days makes it feel like you are swimming upstream to counter it. Even beneficial things like exercising, getting help etc seem like work and it is hard for them to feel good even when you know they are good for you. I think the biggest help has just been knowing I am not alone with this or any of the feelings. Kevin thanks for giving such an accurate voice to much of my daily inner monologue.
I really love this space, and genuine love for you Kevin for being so open and vulnerable in such a candid way.
I felt like I was sleepwalking through parenthood, expecting more but not knowing how to feel more enthusiasm. That it would come in time, but actually left unattended it got deeper and more like shovelling glue. Always tired, impatient, guilty, shameful and empty.
Missing my old life and friends terribly.
Absolutely there were huge gains from being a dad but my mental health was in the bin so I couldn’t value any of them long term.
Also, not a qualified therapist, but I have done a lot of research and deep diving my own mental health journey. All stemmed from my own childhood, the lack of emotional support, the guilt, shame, humiliation of traumatised parents who didn’t have a clue or the will to change how they themselves were parented. Ultimately I just felt like a worthless, loveless piece of shit. My first thoughts upon being given our son Frank for the skin to skin cuddle was “I hope he’s not disappointed.” I don’t know how anyone else felt, but looking back now that’s an awful thought to have in what’s meant to be the greatest moment of any man’s life.
And that is not the perspective to parent your children from.
So I got into the ‘where is this coming from?’ and to begin loving and parenting myself in a way I’d never been shown. Rather than feeling ashamed of having mental health difficulties, age old generational shutting up and shutting down just made people sad sick and lonely,
I invested time and energy in myself and talking openly about it. It did and still does involve getting up before anyone else, (not easy when sleep deprived) there are still days I can’t be arsed so I stay in the warm bed and rest. I just feel less guilty about that now too.
journaling my thoughts really helped. I ended up filling 10 A5 notebooks that sit unread by anyone in a drawer.
Exercise is key, movement of any sort, especially outdoors, walking in forests, trees are incredible for a sense of peace and lowering blood pressure. Connection to others, fellow dads at school, running groups, yoga sessions, music, walking clubs, real time relationships as well as online interactions like this.
Volunteering with a dads local support group got me the most life affirming real time relationships with people I would never have connected with. And ultimately to find Kevin and this group. We’ve since climbed Snowdon and Scafel Pike, done a Triathlon and walked around the lakes.
I’m looking at setting up mens and boys back to the wild nature therapy sessions, using my experiences and observations to make mental health support, real, accessible and more targeted towards mens instincts when wanting to heal. We need to feel supported and enabled to find our own strength and take back control.
If anyone is new to fatherhood and struggling and feeling isolated, I’m in Liverpool, so if any dads are not too far away, can meet up for a brew or walk/jog.
I really needed this exact newsletter today. Thanks Kevin, and all the other dads
“Let’s get to work”. Love that.
This topic resonated strongly with me. Focusing all my time on work and the kids and the house and feeling guilty or indulgent for thinking of taking a few hours to play golf or go for a run (much less than a few hours). I guess I’m saying it’s worryingly easy to forget partners and ourself.
But nothing changes of nothing changes. Finding a social sport is a huge priority - the social element to keep me honest.
Anyone know of any good organisations to loom into for amateur sports (rugby or football) in the UK…?
There's a quote from LOTR that I think perfectly captures how I feel sometimes.
“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” - Bilbo Baggins.
I'm not a dad, but I identify with what you/your commenter are talking about. It sounds to me like he's looking for external conditions to bring him joy. What I'd point out is that while those things make life easier, they don't tend to be sources of joy. So what does? What I keep coming back to, in my own life, is self-love. You can have everything in the world, but if you don't have self-love even the finest foods will taste of ashes. If you do have self-love, even the most dire of circumstances won't be able to drain your well of joy. You will, on occasion, have off days. I actually posted about that myself just yesterday. But if you really love yourself, those days will pass and the default will be joy.