Last week, I wrote a post about how I feel at times about being a single dad called Uncle Dad. I have been blown away by the response. Not only was it one of my most read posts, but the offline response from guys in similar situations has really hit me. What I have come to realize is that what I have felt and thought for years about myself being a failure or a loser is not unique to me. I had one friend tell me that there are times he doesn’t want to call his kids because he feels like such a failure. Another friend shared that he feels relieved sometimes when his kids aren’t able to come for the weekend because he knows he won’t have to deal with the transition from mom’s house to his house. It sounds like we are horrible, worthless fathers for feeling this way, but it’s important to acknowledge how the circumstances influence those feelings. Regardless of why we feel that way, it is incredibly hard to share that with anyone else because of how shameful it feels to admit it and for fear of being judged.
What I have realized through the response is how important putting yourself out there, even if it’s terrifying. When I wrote that post, I felt relieved because I was able to dump the weight I was carrying into words. But hitting publish was a different story. I was nervous because I had no clue how it would be received. After all, I wasn’t offering any answers, just talking about how I felt with the hopes that someone could relate. The cool thing is that in my effort to let other single dads know they aren’t alone, I discovered that I’m not alone either.
Isn’t that a lie we all buy into at some point in time? That we are the only one, a misfit, an outcast, a weirdo, or that something is wrong with us. When you feel that way, it’s like someone sucked all hope out of your soul. I know when I find myself in that place it seems like I’m suffocating. But we aren’t alone! No matter what you are going through, I guarantee there are others who have or are experiencing the same thing. The challenge is finding someone brave enough to put themselves out there and share what they are feeling. I’ve learned that what helps me the most sometimes is knowing I’m not alone, especially in circumstances that don’t seem to have any answers.
Some of the strongest communities are those that offer people hope by helping them realize they aren’t in the fight alone. I have witnessed this in churches, recovery-based groups, and even families. The more authentic and real the community is, the more they adhere to the philosophy that “it’s ok not to be ok”, the more healing and restoration can be experienced. I’m convinced people aren’t as concerned about finding answers as much as they are with feeling acceptance and belonging. It can be hard to find, but once you do, you’ll never want to let it go.