My Father Doesn’t Know Me

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I had a great childhood. I grew up in a Christian home with stable, loving parents who raised my brother and me to love the Lord, leading us in daily morning Bible studies. They both had somewhat difficult childhoods themselves and, as most parents do, they wanted to give their sons a better start in life than what they’d had.

They did the best they could, and I firmly believe that. I’m grateful for my parents’ love and the sacrifices they made for me and my brother.

Many SSA guys tell stories of how distant their fathers were growing up, how cold they were, how harsh or demanding. Mine was not like that.

My father was warm, caring, patient, and merciful. He hugged me every day and kissed me as much as I would let him. He told me he loved me just as often — if not in his words, then in his actions. I remember his often holding my hand just to hold it.

I had a great dad when I was a kid.

Then I became a teenager, and while my father continued to be his usual self with me, I was changing. When you’re in the middle of that change, it’s often hard to understand exactly what’s going on. My voice cracked. I didn’t start to grow facial hair until I was almost sixteen.

Being the youngest in my family and the youngest of my most immediate cousins, I had always been the cute little boy of the family, but now I wanted to grow up. I was tired of being cute. I struggled with my identity and understanding my place in the world and in God’s plans. I slid into depression and became suicidal. I fell into addiction to pornography.

My life was all secrecy, hiding, and lies. My father never approached me to talk about what was going on, to reach into my darkness and pull me through.

My father still loved me, though. He’d look at me across the dinner table after eating and just stare at me and smile.

“What?” I’d ask him.

“Nothin’,” he’d say. “Just lookin’ at you . . . ’cause I love you. Is that okay?”

I’d just roll my eyes.

Of course he loved me. He didn’t know I’d just spent three hours that afternoon jacking off to porn, or that the time I’d spent doing that forced me to cheat on my homework in order to get it done in time.

Sure, my father loved me; he loved what he knew of me.

I read John Eldredge’s bestselling book Wild at Heart when I was eighteen. It was like finding the missing piece of a puzzle that made all of the other pieces come together and make sense. When Eldredge started talking in that book about a man’s father-wound, I could suddenly find words to describe and understand what I’d been bleeding over for so many years.

My father never beat me. He never condemned me or cursed me or shamed me or did anything malicious against me.

But because of his own brokenness, my father stopped growing with me when I entered puberty. He reached out to hold the hand of a ten-year-old boy, even though I was well into my teens. Stares and smiles across the table are great, but when that’s all there is, it leaves a son feeling neglected.

My father loved me, but he didn’t know how to be the father of a teenager or how to guide his sons into manhood.

I wanted to stop keeping so many secrets from people, especially my father. I wanted to start opening up. Later that same year, I told my parents about my SSA. My father took the news well, but he never brought it up again and would only keep silent whenever I tried to talk about it.

When I was 19, I wrote a book about sexual development and sexual issues guys face in their teenage years. It was over 200 pages. I was proud of that thing. My mother read it. My father never did. It was never published.

I wanted so desperately to connect with my father. I was affectionate with him, I never felt embarrassed by him, I tried again and again to become vulnerable with him, to go deep with him, to build some kind of strong, lasting bond with him.

But I was always met with an oblivious response that had the warmest wishes, never going more than ankle-deep.

In my early twenties, I continued to struggle with porn. I stopped being discreet about it. I left the door open when I looked at it. I stopped deleting my viewing history on the computer. I wanted to get caught. I wanted my father to walk in and see what I was doing and be forced into a conversation with me about something other than work or the weather.

It never happened.

He did walk in on me once, though. I wasn’t watching porn, but I was sitting at my computer after a shower one evening, naked and masturbating. My door was closed, but not locked. He knocked.

In surprise, I blurted out, “Yeah?” Apparently, he thought that “yeah” meant permission for him to come on in, so he did. I jumped into my closet with double doors that opened in the middle. I was hoping for the one door between me and my father to hide me, but I’d forgotten there was a full-length mirror on the other door, reflecting my image back at my father.

I put on some underwear as he stepped into my room, asking him what he wanted.

“Is this your laundry?” he asked.

I stepped out rocking a boner under my skivvies. “Yeah, it’s mine,” I said, and I took it from him.

He said nothing and walked out normally, closing the door behind him.

Did he see me? I thought to myself. There’s no way he could have not seen me!

At first, I was nervous, shaken up, unsure what to do next. But soon my anxiety gave way to hope; this was pretty much exactly what I’d wanted to happen. I’d wanted my father to see me in my most vulnerable state and for him to receive me and affirm me. I’d hoped he had seen me naked.

I waited for him to approach me so we could talk about what had just happened.

But he didn’t. It was never brought up.

I was very open by this time about my SSA, my faith, and a lot of other issues. I didn’t mind putting everything out on the table if needed, and I made sure my father knew this. But I didn’t want to force anything on him. I wanted him to meet me where I was, to ask to see whatever was in me, to show some interest in me, in what I was going through, and in whom I was becoming.

But instead I got silence. Just a bunch of smiling stares across the dinner table.

Not long after this, my mother left him for another man. As the mess of that affair splattered beyond anyone’s control, she said that my father was a nice man but could never be intimate. She was tired of a shallow marriage. I disagreed with her adultery, but I understood what she was saying.

A year or so later, my dad picked me up from work one night and drove me home. I had to be honest with him about how I was doing, and I told him I was struggling with some kind of SSA-related issue. I don’t remember what it was now.

My dad replied awkwardly, “I don’t want to hear this, Kevin. Don’t talk to me about this.”

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll say I’m fine and tell you a bunch of lies then.”

My dad was obviously uncomfortable. He squirmed. “Well, don’t do that, either.” He forced a chuckle to lighten the mood.

“This is real life, Dad. I’m being honest with you,” I said.

But Dad kept quiet and stared at the road. He wasn’t smiling.

Last year, I went back to the USA to visit my family — mainly my dad. He had developed a kind of dementia much like Alzheimer’s, as well as another kind of mental disorder which affected his ability to understand and use language. His condition was declining at three times the normal rate. He wasn’t even seventy yet, but had to live with my brother and wasn’t able to work or drive anymore.

Things are still that way now.

When I first saw my father last year, he seemed to recognize my face, but he had forgotten my name. I don’t think he knew I was his son. I told him, but he soon forgot again. He was emotionally stable and seemingly normal at first glance, and we could even have a decent conversation, as long as the topic was light and I spoke slowly. But it was soon clear that he had gone downhill pretty far.

I look back on my relationship with my father over these last three decades, and I can see that my father did truly love me. He did his best to be the best father he knew how to be. But he was also a very wounded man, wounded in ways that nobody knows because he’s never told anyone. The effects are all there, but nobody knows the cause.

And it was these wounds that kept him from loving me in ways that I needed.

My father was never malicious toward me, but his wounds hurt me over time. He loved me, yes, but I often wondered if he ever really knew me, and if he would still love me if he did.

Now my father obviously doesn’t know me, at least beyond some vague memory he might hold onto for warmth in the back of his mind. And now that I have gained so much healing from my Heavenly Father, I look at my earthly father with compassion, wishing I could do something to help him, to pull him out of the pit of pain and the fog of dementia he’s in.

All I know to do now is pray. That’s my only hope for him.

What was your relationship with your father like growing up? Has it changed for the better or worse over the years?

* Photo courtesy Adrenus Craton, Creative Commons.

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  • Fred

    I got really lucky with my parents. I only knowingly struggled with SSA for probably 3 months before I told them. They both said exactly what I wanted them to. Our views on homosexuality are almost identical.

    It’s weird, I had some qualms about telling them even though I already knew they both loved me and the Lord enough to understand what I was going through. As a result of the positive experience, I still find coming out to family extremely easy, and, as I’ve stated recently, I’m about to come out to a friend/crush for the first time.

    I thank God every day for having the absolute BEST parents to struggle with this alongside. They aren’t perfect, but it really helps. I don’t know if this will help anyone out there, and I’m sorry if I sound spoiled, but if you’re on the fence about telling your dad about your struggle, I’d say pray and do it! If you’re that close to doing it, the fears you have are probably just holding you down with what could be an incredible experience.

    • You’re blessed by your parents, Fred. I’m glad you have that story! Indeed, not everyone is so “lucky.”

    • Joshua Johnson

      “They both said exactly what I wanted them to. Our views on homosexuality are almost identical.”

      Just curious if your parents offer any explanation as to why they believe you have SSA and what course of action you’d take as you navigate it.

      • Fred

        Well, I basically explained to them how I felt and how my relationship with God was more important to me. For some reason, even as a little kid, I’ve always been able to talk about really deep concepts with ease. I’ve been told MULTIPLE times that I could be a preacher (I’ll leave that decision to God’s plan). So when I explained it, they were both confident in my stand on it and were extremely sympathetic and proud of me.

        Some people, including one of my parents, said that they kinda figured it could be possible, but that I don’t really act SSA. As far as why, even I don’t really know. I’ve had a fine relationship with my father, which I know isn’t typical of SSA guys always. “Why am I SSA?” Is not a question that anyone has been able to help me answer as of yet, other than that God will obviously use it.

        And most of the people I’ve come out to, including both my parents, basically said, “you seem to understand it really well. Don’t act upon it.” Or, as my dad put it, “You know you can’t go that way, right?” I said of course!

        The very best part, though, was when my Dad said, “Google it. You might find other people like you out there”. I refused, but he kept bugging me to do it. And that, my friend, is how I found yob!

    • Kevin Frye

      I’d have to agree with you about telling our parents. It’s definitely worth the risk.

  • bluzhawk

    “I look back on my relationship with my father over these last three decades, and I can see that my father did truly love me. He did his best to be the best father he knew how to be.” But it feels like a lost opportunity, doesn’t it? My dad was never the hug and kisses kinda guy like yours, but he was a good man too. Looking back, he did everything a father should and he had no vices as far as I know. I know he loved me and my brother cause he treated everyone good. When diabetes started taking his limbs and eventually his life, we’d sit together at the end but neither of us could talk about anything that really mattered. I’ll always believe he wanted to as much as I did but neither of us did. I probably could have helped him more but I was too self centered growing up. I carry good memories of my dad but still, it feels like a lost opportunity. There’s more to life than being a nice guy, but there’s worse things you can be.

    • Kevin Frye

      Very true. There is more to life than being a nice guy, and there are worse things, too. I love that my dad was a nice guy, and I want to be that as well, but I want to be more than just that.

      • bluzhawk

        In a lotta ways I’ve become like my dad. I wanted to, but being nice only makes things easier for others, never really better. Being nice can also disguise that you don’t genuinely care. Like loving everybody can mean you don’t really love any one individually. Sometimes I still fight the thought that God’s love is impersonal like that.
        Good memories of dad, but I’m wanting more too, I’m looking for the real thing.

        • Charlie Isbell

          Bluzhawk/Kevin, your statements really hit me! I’ve spent a lot of time and energy wanting to be “nice”. Maybe I thought being nice would make up for my lack of masculine essence with other people. And you are so right Bluzhawk…being nice only makes things easier for others. It doesn’t confront sin or help with the gaping hole I was trying to fill inside. And being nice, on some level, means not making a difference in your world or really grabbing of hold of what God wants to do in my life. I’ve started to give up on being nice. Like you guys, I want something more.

          • bluzhawk

            Being nice is ok if it means kind, but it can also mean un-offensive which is lame. I don’t know about you but found being nice covers up a lack of courage or commitment to really love others and live. I know I don’t want my tombstone to say “he was a nice guy.” They called Jesus a lot of things, but don’t think nice guy was ever one of them.

            btw Charlie, your post above was really good. How you pointed to Christ was so encouraging.

          • mistaken identity

            I was a lame, un-offensive bloke for far too long. God is graciously and gradually restoring my vertebrae. I came by it so naturally from my mother. But she just passed away a couple of weeks ago and had so little to show for 92 years and decades “in the kingdom.” I originally chose to be like her because my dad was often so offensive, odd, and irritable.

          • bluzhawk

            My condolences about your mom’s passing MI. If she loved Jesus, who knows how many people Jesus touched thru her. For better or worse, we’re the product of the good and bad of our parents but I think Charlie is right above. We’re not victims, Jesus changes everything and can turn any of the screwups of ours or our parents to good.

          • mistaken identity

            Thanks blue! Charlie is definitely right. Jesus can transform anything. He could have done so much more for my mom if she had given him half a chance.

          • Charlie Isbell

            Hey, Blue. Thanks for the kind words. For me being nice was what you said above…it covered up my lack of courage and fear to take risks and live. I never thought about this before, but it was also a form of manipulation of others. I figured if I was always nice, then it would make people like me. So I was nice when they were nice and nice when they were mean. I thought I was being godly, but now realize I was just self-centered and scared.

          • bluzhawk

            “…it would make people like me.” You nailed it Charlie. It’s a form of protection isn’t it? As long as you can hold onto your self image as a nice guy, everything else that happens can be justified. I’m self-employed and would take it as far as when people didn’t pay, what mattered more to me was being the nice guy, not whether I got paid. It’s stupid but also a self-deception. I was the only one who thought I was the nice guy. Turning the other cheek when people smack you has nothing to do with being nice.

  • I couldn’t help but weep for you Kevin, as your story made me think back on my tempestuous relationship with my father. He had come back from Vietnam a broken man. He was not in combat but served in the medical corps. It was his job to identify dead GIs through their dental records. He became an alcoholic and womanizer. My mother caught him with the woman who would become my step mother. I despised her, because she tried to insinuate herself as my mother. Still though, she helped him with the trauma of Vietnam and his alcoholism. More importantly however, because of her, my father introduced me to God.

    I was distant from him because I was raised by my mother, who didn’t have any religious instruction in the house (she had been molested by her own father and became a drug addict). Just when I needed him most was when my best friend committed suicide, and my step mother told me that David was burning in hell. I refused to see either of them again. I told them I was gay out of spite, hoping my father would go all holier-than-thou, so I could hang up the phone on him and never speak to him again (that would show him). Instead, he said “I know.”

    I think those two little words saved our tenuous relationship. Still he doesn’t want to talk about my past or David Wells. He says that I am just beating a dead horse (very John Wayne of him). He doesn’t seem to understand that these things shaped me, forming the very man I am. He was very proud of me when I spoke of my sexual assault and had defended myself, but then quickly changed the subject. He doesn’t seem to understand that I can do all the things that a man is supposed to do, but it has to be forced.

    When my stepmother died in 2009, I still felt a lot of hurt. I didn’t even go to the funeral, reacting as though he had lost a nickel in the street. That hurt kept me from my father and my two half-sisters. Maybe it was my own pride, I don’t know, but it is something that I will always regret.

    • Kevin Frye

      Man, that’s intense. It’s amazing that you still developed a strong commitment to God in the midst of all this.

      • Thank you for this, but if I had known that I wasn’t alone in my struggles, and that I didn’t have to live the way I was ‘supposed to’, maybe I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes.

  • mistaken identity

    It is painful to read that Kevin. I’m sorry for your dad and for you. It is comforting to observe how much favor and honor your heavenly father has given you though.

    • Kevin Frye

      Yes! I could write another whole post on just how God has filled the gaps in my heart that my earthly father left. Maybe one day.

  • Steven Michael

    My father is loving and tries to be support, but is inconsistent in it. I’ll tell him that I feel like I’ve forgotten stuff from school and he’ll say, “You don’t forget anything. Your mind is like a steel trap.” Then he’ll remind me how to work the later for the 50th time…

    I struggle a lot with the fact that my family is not open about our personal issues. My coming out became more of an announcement than a conversation. And while I haven’t TRIED to get caught with porn, I’ve sometimes wish they would catch on and say something to me. There have been a few times where there was a good chance that they noticed something, but have never talked to me about it.

    Part of me wants to be my dad more into my life and my struggles, but it’s just so much easier for me to talk with friends than to break the 30 years of an unspoken “we don’t talk about ourselves” rule.

    • Joshua Johnson

      “I struggle a lot with the fact that my family is not open about our personal issues. My coming out became more of an announcement than a conversation.”

      Same on both.

      • Steven Michael

        Sorry to hear that. I know how though it can be to finally be vulnerable and then have no one say anything about it.

    • Kevin Frye

      I tried breaking that unspoken rule in my house, and I made it loud and clear. My dad would just sit there with a look of pain on his face, and my brother would yell “SHUT UP!” or make some joke out of my issues. Maybe it was awkward for them to hear me addressing this stuff, but I put the ball in their court.

      • Steven Michael

        That shows great courage. I’m sorry that it didn’t go well, but at least you tried. I have not put in that much effort.

  • mike

    My father I suppose was worse but can one really compare. When I was a kid he was just there. Like a piece of furniture my father didn’t interact with me, never expressed any verbal or physical love, nor offered any guidance. When I was a teen my father began to drink to deal with his depression. Not only was he absent emotionally, but I began to hate him for even being around. I blamed him for my SSA.
    You do not say Kevin, but as a teen did you end up blaming your emotionally absent dad for your SSA? Do you still think if he had helped you navigate puberty better you might not have SSA?

    • Kevin Frye

      I’ve never blamed my dad for my SSA. I’ve always thought my SSA was more about my relationships with my peers than with my family. If my dad had been more intimate with me and more pro-active in my life, it might have changed a few things, but I think I would have still been attracted to men on some level.

  • Joshua Johnson

    When I first started reading your post this morning, Kevin, my heart was at first full of warm fuzzies for you and your dad. Your relationship with him seemed normal as far as I can tell, at least normal for a typical American. I guess my own when compared to your growing up, is more unusual. From what little I know, my parents met in southern Cali in the early 70s, mom from rural Oklahoma, dad from a Chicago suburb. He was in Vietnam (I saw other guys’ comments about their dad having been there too) and didn’t see combat, but was in the K-9 unit (no idea what that is). They eloped, and I know I was a planned child, being first born and first grandchild. I remember my dad being a sweet, charming man, and my parents had friends. I think he had a job as a security officer after trying to start a home for wayward boys. No idea what happened to that place.I remember being with my dad, and we have family pix to prove it, and he was always smiling when he was around my little sister and me. I never saw my parents fight, and my dad was never cross me with me, or spoke abusively. Looking back, I know he was distant and detached. I also suspect he married an emasculating woman. I have memories of being in kindergarten or whatever, and my dad was growing increasingly distant from his family. He eventually met a married couple who started a cult. It was known as ‘Freelove Ministries,’ in the 70s & early 80s. I was raised in a Protestant Christian home, but things got weird when he’d bring people over to baptize in our swimming pool. His cult leaders had a *compound* of old houses in downtown Sacramento and my sister and I would go there to hang out and swim with the leaders’ kids. This cult sucked him right on, and before I knew it, I was fatherless. Mom never talked about it, or got any kind of help or counseling, and she never dated as far as I knew, she just poured herself into dual roles as mom, and dad as breadwinner and business executive. My dad taught me how to ride a bike, but it ended there. I know he liked sports and being active but there wasn’t a *dad* figure anywhere to be found. I also believe my dad was more fond of my sister than he was of me, which led to become unhealthily attached to mom. He quit bothering to be a parent completely by the time I was 11. We moved out of state so mom could be near her parents, my uncle and aunt and cousins, which made things difficult because my sister started being molested by mom’s dad, and I was struggling with my own SSA and acting out with my cousin. Dad showed up out of the blue when I was in 8th grade and offered an extremely feeble, puny excuse for amends. He gave me a Christian book to read and my mom chased him off after a couple days, and he went back to his group. Over the years, mom would never mention him, and would paint that side of the family as strangers. I just drifted through life pretty much, resenting God as this awful, messed up father-figure. Fast forward to 2005, my sister began communicating with dad (the leaders allowed him to have a basic cell phone and access to the internet), and I was kind of jealous, and angry about it, especially since he told her that I “missed out” on not wanting to have a relationship with him. I was stunned. That communication b/t them ended about a year later or less, and at that time she began dating a good Godly guy that she would eventually go on to marry. It was around 2012, and I was nearing the end of a long term, same-sex relationship (a pretty platonic one for what it’s worth), and I started to miss my dad. I accumulated old photos of him and me as a toddler and placed them in my bedroom, and did the same in 2014 when I eventually got my own apartment. Now, in 2017, I still have the photos, but I don’t care much about it. I’m FB “friends” with a woman who knew my dad (and mom) and left the cult when they got abusive, but she’s a likeable woman, tho agnostic now, but she and I don’t talk really. I’m the only unmarried cousin, other than the 2 unmarrieds on my dad’s side, and my dad will cross my mind occasionally. He’ll be 72 in Sept and is probably in good health despite him basically being brainwashed and what my mom refers to as being “institutionalized.” I turned 40 in Dec, I don’t date (I’d like a boyfriend, but can’t justify it Biblically), not part of any church, no friends, I work full time, and sometimes joke to myself that maybe joining a cult, too, would benefit me. I would definitely say I became a born-again believer/regenerated believer about 4 years ago, when I became aware of a Creator God who loves me, and my love of life became extraordinary, like I was given new life – and coincidentally thought I’d fallen in love with a dude – but I still have that “father wound,” as well as other emotional childhood scars that I don’t believe will ever be healed, like attachment disorder or something as well as commitment issues, probably deep resentment and anger as well as feeling current general emptiness and isolation, things I clearly recall experiencing when I was 9,10,11. Life has lost its color recently and I sometimes just want to disappear and fade away. Sad and morose, I know.

  • Brian

    I don’t have a father. I mean I do have one but I don’t have a relationship with him at all. Never did. I haven’t talked to him in 11 years actually. Honestly, I don’t really care to have a relationship with him. I only have a relationship with my mom–her and my brother. I feel like once my mom passes on I’m going to feel lost in this world– lost and alone. I don’t have any friends. I don’t really know what I’ll do when that “moment” arrives. I feel like my whole world will fall apart by then.

    • Joshua Johnson

      I’m sorry brother.

    • Kevin Frye

      Gah! That’s hard. I’m sorry you have no relationship with your dad. I know it’s hard not having any friends (I’m in the same boat, dude), but I hope you can find strength and fulfillment in the Holy Spirit and trust Him to hold you up even when you have nobody.

    • BR Dude

      Better days are yet to come. Believe in that. You are not alone. I still have the same issue, but I managed to survive until now.
      God looks over us. Believe in His faith, and shine your light in this world: things will get better!

  • A Friend

    As who has struggled with homosexuality/SSA FOREVER, I I always assumed it to NOT having a father. He was loved by many–respected by the community–and always felt cheated by not getting to know him when he died when I was a year old. My mother never remarried, and my male interaction was zero–sans mean family members on my maternal side. After reading these stories, I’ve come to realize I was not thinking clearly. I recently opened up totally with a Christian brother, and being able to be honest has helped me face the battle feeling wanted and appreciated by another male–the road to healing. The thing that made me realize how Christian brothers need to be good listeners, is once we can say, “I’m gay/SSA/struggling/fill-in-the-blank,” they’re there to guide and listen and hug. Sounds like I’m no alone!

    • Kevin Frye

      Yep! Other people don’t always have the right words to say, but being willing to listen and trying to understand can make a big impact.

  • Charlie Isbell

    Guys, Like the other commenters, I had an awkward relationship with my father. I could not relate to him. Wasn’t mechanical, manly, etc. I never felt like much of a man. So I’m glad for a safe place here for us to write the painful experiences that we share. Like many of you, I carried the awful truth of my sexual attractions to other men alone. I didn’t tell anyone about it. Who would I tell? Being a christian made it even more isolating. So I find it very comforting to hear these stories, because it means we aren’t alone. I’m not alone.

    But having said that, I want to encourage you. We aren’t victims, and you are more than your past experiences. I used to feel like I was the sum of all the hurts and disappointments from past years (and sometimes the hurts from this year). I could never be the man I should be, could never earn my father’s respect or the love of a good woman. I thought if only I had been more masculine or had a different relationship with my father, I would have turned out normal. But the Bible tells us that in Christ we are new creations…complete and whole. Sometimes I don’t feel the truth of that. I don’t feel complete and whole. And yet it is still the truth whether I feel it or not. If you are in Christ, you are a complete man!

    So let’s share our stories. We need to! Let’s comfort one another and help lift each other’s burdens. I loved reading Kevin’s story, because I can relate to the hurt and the longing and how completely real Kevin is (although I’m pretty sure Dad never saw me with a boner). But remember that regardless of the relationship you have with your earthly father, you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. You have the most perfect father that ever existed….our father in heaven. And He has always loved you. For many of us, the broken relationships with our fathers will never be completely mended. But in Christ, we are not just a bunch of SSAers. We are victors in Christ! For those of us hurting over broken relationships with our fathers, remember Psalm 34:18

    “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

    -Charlie

    • Kevin Frye

      Thanks for the encouragement, Charlie. It’s definitely needed and so true.

  • Weston

    Hey guys. So I just recently came across this blog within the last month or two, but I have to say it was exactly what God lead at the right moment. Tom’s story was perfect, and then so many others on here have been great also.
    But anyway, thanks Kevin for summing up something like this. My family was nearly perfect as well from the standard point of view. Both parents involved in my life. Yet my father never discussed anything remotely intimate with me at all. The reasoning stems from a similar standpoint by his father, and his father before him. A curse that reinforces itself with each generation.
    When I look at the situation, I see my father, himself, still as a little 10 year old boy. He is indeed a very Godly man who provides for his family, etc. But how could he lead me into manhood when he was not comfortable in that role himself?
    My household had further issues due to heavy female dominance, but I see so easily how the same threads weave through each new man in the line. I feel that is where even just recognizing this in ourselves gives us the awareness to address this in our own future generations. Although our earthly fathers are imperfect, the Heavenly Father becomes our guide for masculinity. And is that not even greater?
    But I am with all of you in this feeling of need for acceptance from men in life. Even just asking for a razor when it became time felt so hard and wrong. At first I blamed my dad for this, but God has since shown me that I cannot blame him for something he was not given the ability to provide. Reading your story showed me the parallel lines that are in the the stories of so many men. We are not alone in these feelings and it is so good to know and actually discuss…not just assuming others feel that way too.

    • Welcome to YOB, Weston! Glad to have you with us. So many parallel lives to be found in this community. Looking forward to seeing your story unfold here, too.

  • Eddie

    In other posts, I’ve already mentioned my dad and how he is wired (INTJ, Enneagram 5). You mentioned Kevin that “Many SSA guys tell stories of how distant their fathers were growing up…” Again this sums up my dad pretty much. I come to realize via therapy and mostly talking to him that his “expression of love” was severely limited. He was one who expressed his love through acts of service or more to the point acts of providence. In his mind, he was being a “loving” husband and father by being the breadwinner and providing a home, food, clothing, etc. for my mom, brother and I. He did this without failing becoming a proverbial rock of our family. But that unwavering demeanor also failed to show me the emotional love and support (hugs, kisses or accolades) I needed growing up. It got to the point I focused on just trying to get him to acknowledge what accomplishments I could muster. It was just over six months ago, I came out to him about my SSA. Fortunately, he didn’t disown me, but he doesn’t me to come out of the closet anymore than I already have. Is our relationship better now than beforehand? To a degree, yes as we seem to talk more when we’re alone. But it has been so many years, I just don’t know what is still salvageable as to our relationship. In retrospect, when I was a young boy, I just wish I could have found a father/big brother surrogate to take his place. I know that sounds terrible, but my dad didn’t harbor any resentment or rivalry with my supposed alternative male role models.

    • Kevin Frye

      One of the things I’m learning by being a husband and father myself is that it’s really, very hard to be those things and to fulfill those roles well. It’s the most draining experience I’ve ever had… and it doesn’t end. It’s every day for years and years. There’s no end in sight. I think I understand men better now who have so much trouble connecting with their wives and children at home. Often immense sacrifices must be made in order for a father to even spend an afternoon at home with the kids. It hurts. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. I don’t know how single parents do it, and I don’t know how parents do this life without Jesus. That struggle, that difficulty doesn’t justify a father’s failure in parenting, but I think I understand it a little more now and I’m able to extend a little more grace to the men out there who are just trying to support a family and remain faithful and have little else leftover at the end of the day to give to anyone. That goes for my own father, too. I used to just judge and complain about him, but I can see now some of the struggles he was facing.

  • Gabriel

    My story is similar to yours when it comes to the point I know my father tries to be the best he can and not much with words, but he tries with his acts to sure his love towards me. But, my parents for divorced because my father was having affairs with men. I was a kid and knew that. We lived in different houses, so I grew up wondering does he love me? Does he love more the other men, since he’chose’ then? It was very hard to me. I know he loves me but we’ve never had any deep talking, he doesn’t know anything​ about SSA, depression and all other struggles I’ve going through. I pray he after all this time has learned to deal with his SSA, he doesn’t have access to things like YOB, as I can. And maybe some day when this gets all settled we’ll be more able to demonstrate even more love to one another.

  • Daniel Steven

    Wow. Thank you, my relationship with my dad isn’t the best, but he wants to fix it. You made me realize the importance of that. Thank you.

    • Kevin Frye

      You’re welcome, Daniel!

  • Alan Gingery

    Ouch! I am moved as I read this…don’t know what to say…I just feel strongly the pain of having a dad who was so wounded so that he couldn’t operate deeper than a safe level. He did love you, but he wasn’t able to communicate it, and now, there is no chance to change it.

    My story is similar, but details with vastly different. Neither my dad nor his father ever touched their sons affectionately. So I missed out on the possible affirmation of my dad’s love through touch. My dad never communicated his emotions. There was no heart-to-heart talks with my dad. He didn’t use words to affirm me or my brother–never once heard him say, “Good job or I’m proud of you.” Missed out on that possible way to communicate that he loved me.

    And my dad could criticize. I still can remember shame and anger today over some of the things he said…although I think I have forgiven these things now that I am an adult. He had been a jock and I was a sensitive artistic kid. He just didn’t get how to relate to me and never could affirm my interests. He only understood his interests.

    The primary way he showed his love for us was the same way his father had shown love for him. He was available for us and did things with us. He took us hunting and fishing and camping. He taught us how to tie fishing flies and to work in cars as well as other numerous skills. He gave us his time and attention.

    I am sad that I never felt his love until I became an adult. Things changed then. I forgave my dad and I began to affirm my love for him both in affectionate touch and in words. And amazingly he returned both my physical affection and my verbal affirmation. I spent 15 years working with dad and we became really good friends. He still doesn’t express his emotions much, but we learned to appreciate each other. Those 15 years were a gift from God to me. It was very healing to me.

    • Kevin Frye

      I’m glad you were able to patch things up a bit and build some good memories with your dad. A bit late, sure, but better than nothing.

  • BR Dude

    Wow Kevin, such an emotional story!
    Like many others here, I had an absent father. Not like he left me and my family, but he was there just to pay the bills, nothing more.
    I struggled with this a lot. He never taught me how to behave, how to do “man stuff”, how to acknowledge the beauty of the female form. I had to figure this on my own.
    My father never hugged me. When I would walk to him to strike a conversation, he would always be silent and not say a word. It was awkard.
    As years went by, I realized I couldn’t change his behaviour about all of this. Instead, I tried looking at his perspective: as a child, my father recieved the same treatment from his father, “men don’t really talk”.
    As much as I find hard to say, it saddens me and I kinda blame him a little for not being the father I wish I had, the father who took me to trips, to go fishing, to watch a football game. But I’m at ease right now. It is his way, so I accept it.

    • Kevin Frye

      It’s true that we can’t change our parents. It hurts, but the best thing we can do is to love them anyway, forgive, and press forward.

    • Eddie

      I can relate to your story quite a bit BR. My dad fashioned himself as the dutiful breadwinner of our family. However, as I started out in life he yielded all the child rearing to my mom. So you can imagine she was a major influence in my upbringing. Like I mentioned, I think I would have sought out a surrogate father/brother figure to help me in my upbringing to be a man. Fortunately I think on a relative scale I’m rather “butch” for a guy and I like traditional guy stuff, but I’m still drawn to having guys around for personal (strictly platonic) companionship.