my man, who suffers from depression and has a hard time being around people, left yesterday to attend the graduation of our youngest son, chih, who’s receiving his masters in education.
the change i’m seeing in brian is astounding. he decided to make this trip just the other day. on his own, with no prompting on my part. there was a part of me, of course, that wanted to go with him, but with trips ahead of me, and with my mom in the condition she’s in, it wasn’t going to be possible. and more than anything, seeing him make this move on his own was significant.
he gets to show up. he gets to show up for chih. and more importantly, he gets to show up for himself.
you see, my brian struggles with depression. which means there’s a part of him that really doesn’t like himself. deep down something from his past eats at him and he can’t stop his ego from telling him that he’s not loved, that he’s not worth anything, that memories from his past can’t be repaired or erased. he’s been stuck in this place of self-loathing and emotional pain for years.
the seed of his self-loathing was a deep dark secret that he’d been living with for years, that he didn’t want anyone to know – his father was an abusive alcoholic who threw hard objects at him and his mother, and he struggles with the memory and the guilt of not being able to protect her. he started to water this seed of shame with internal tears of sadness, because his father told him ‘boys don’t cry’, and one day he just couldn’t hold it in any longer. the emotional pain he endured as a boy -that seed had grown so big there was no room for any self love.
you see, my brian suffers from a broken heart. and when your heart’s broken, it has a hard time fighting that ego -that part of him that tells him he’s worth nothing. his heart knows his goodness, his heart wants to believe, but it’s broken and his father’s voice is powerful. his inner voice focuses on all the bad stuff, and his true self, that loving boy who lives deep within, is just now starting to love himself.
that little boy, so worthy of love, is starting to show up.
yesterday he got on the plane. and tomorrow he gets to stand amidst the crowd of people and cheer for his son. he gets to scream at the top of his lungs, “yay, chih! we love you!!!”
each of our children is an extension of brian and me. chih, of all our children, is most like his father. he thinks like brian, walks like him, even sleeps like him -with one leg out of the blanket and a hand between his knees and the other under his head.
brian gets to show up, hug his youngest son, and tell him he loves him, that he’s proud of him. he gets to tell him that he means the world to him.
he gets to tell him what a remarkable young man he is.
and maybe in doing so, he’ll realize what a remarkable father and role model he is.
and when i think about it, showing up and being there for chih is indeed a way of loving himself, for the first time in a very long time.
and that’s huge.