“Not you Mike! This can’t be happening to you! not you fam!” is what a friend said to me when I told him about my crumbling marriage, he continued, “If it has happened to you, then I am never getting married”. As much as that was flattering in some weird way to be put on a pedestal, the ensuing sadness was equally shattering.
That is the problem of being set or setting someone else on a pedestal. The fall is normally akin to humpty-dumpty’s fall, it’s quite hard to put you back together again.
“To thine own self be true” is my life’s philosophy, taken from Act I, scene III in William Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet,” where Polonius tells his son Laertes, ” to thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”, It closely resembles the Greek axiom “Know thyself”.
Most philosophy and religion is steeped in that cry to know yourself, the true you… The you who stares back at you when you stare into the mirror after you’re done with the masks you wear in order to interact with other people.
The interesting thing about being on a pedestal is that you have to consistently hide your weaknesses and fight them, sometimes in secret or even alone in the Darkness.
I continue to battle with my own personal demons; I have days when I’m victorious and there are days that one simple trigger and it all comes crushing down on me like a house of cards. The longest I’ve stayed clean is 72 months and the feeling of relapsing after that is disheartening. You become so discouraged and wonder if there is any reason to continue with the battle.
There’s an interesting idea I stumbled upon called the Diderot effect – which says that people tend to purchase more things to match their initial purchase and replacing their old stuff. You buy a nice pair of Nike, and the moment you wear them with your old pair of jeans, the jeans look out of place, so you end up buying another pair of jeans and the cycle continues with other purchases.
We tend to behave in ways that echo our identity; how we see ourselves. In James Clear’s book ” Atomic habits“, he states therein and this is a gross paraphrase that habits that stick are the habits that are consistent with our identity.
So how do you see yourself? Who are you? What kind of father are you? or better yet, what kind of dad do you want to be?
A Diderot effect when it comes to acquiring behaviors would mean us continuously acquiring new traits that match a prior change that we would have made in our lives.
I believe we all have an ideal we aspire to as Dads, I know I do, and the question is what steps are we taking to achieve them? Something has definitely got to give. If we are to be the dads that are impactful in the lives of our kids, then there might be things in our lives that we might need to say an emphatic NO to.
We might even need to rearrange some priorities in our lives to make that a possibility. For example if we want to be there for our kids, then we might need to pick up habits that are consistent with the kind of father who is there for his kids.
For me, the desire to stay clean and free is so that I can be the kind of dad that isn’t encumbered by such and which led me to joining a support group to hold me accountable. I continue to learn that one is never fully out of the woods, it’s a daily battle, Sisyphean in nature almost.
What kind of dad do you want to be? Then pick up the actions and habits that are consistent with that identity; and in equal measure shed those ones that are not consistent with that vision you have of yourself. All the best in your pursuits – I’ll keep you updated on my journey.
Share the kind of dad you want to be and the actions you’re taking towards that endeavor and/or the ones you’re ridding yourself off.