While I’m certainly not a professional, I’ve dealt with my share of narcissism throughout my life. Unfortunately, many people have endured far worse than what I’ve experienced, and some have been damaged beyond repair. Whatever we can do to help others toward the light in the darkness can mean the difference between their giving up and holding on.

My primary theory is that malignant narcissism is at the heart of the world’s dysfunction. I’m convinced that we’re dealing with the chaos of the world’s trauma, shame, and pain. It’s the gift that keeps on giving—with the worst possible repercussions, and it spreads through the universe like a poison. I believe this suffering, which leads to more suffering, is a cycle we can break with recognition, empathy, and a genuine desire to change.

So, I write this from the heart.


As you likely already know, narcissistic abusers can be parents, lovers, siblings, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, co-workers, employers, teachers, etc. Many of us are unwittingly drawn to them because of their familiarity. Awareness of malignant narcissism is critical since we have long-term contact with some of these people, which can amount to significant damage.

Reading and participating in narcissistic abuse recovery groups has taught me that there’s a difference between people with full-blown NPD and those who get “fleas” from narcissistic abuse—the latter having acquired the narcissistic abuser’s strategies and behaviors to cope and survive. There’s a spectrum, I believe, with varying degrees of impact. Some narcissistic abuse survivors don’t seem to exhibit any of the behavior they were subjected to, while others appear to have inherited every trace of it.

In short, while experiencing narcissistic abuse, we’re often dealing with a person’s trauma response to the abuse that they themselves experienced. Victims of narcissistic abuse can become so defensive that they, too, can become hurtful.

There was a time in my own life when despite the general empathy I had for others, my privileges made someone else’s struggle unrelatable to me. I took for granted that I had a good job and a career and that in my recovery from substance abuse, I wasn’t struggling. Relapse was not a temptation, let alone a threat. Many would say, well, you worked for those things. Yeah, I did, but the fact that I was able to shouldn’t have blinded me to the reality that it was hard and damn near impossible for those who didn’t have the advantages I had while growing up. My expectations of others at the time were unrealistically high, and I didn’t understand it when people fell short of meeting them.

I mentioned empathy a couple of times now because that’s an essential factor here. Empathy is what sets the recovering victim apart from a hopelessly disordered narcissist because it is empathy that makes us want to do better and play fair. We’re eventually willing to relinquish the narcissistic “payoffs” because we care about others. In my experience, I’ve found that as long as we have empathy for ourselves and others, we can rise above many of the character defects that burden us and make us a burden to others.

And to be fair, I’m not sure I’ve ever dealt with anyone who had a total lack of empathy, but they’re out there, and they’re dangerous.


In my view, most narcissistic abusers do what they do out of insecurity, fear, and habit, and they can be oblivious to what’s causing them to act as they do.

These narcissists are ashamed of who they are, so they manufacture an image of who they want to be. That’s where the obsession with one’s self-image develops—and whatever the narcissist stands for becomes part of that façade. It becomes necessary for them to buy into and sell their superiority because, in the narcissist’s conscious or subconscious mind, there is no in-between when it comes to superiority and inferiority. Equal isn’t an option, and they don’t want anyone to see them as inferior. Damage control becomes a survival strategy and an automatic response to any threat to the ideology that comforts and, quite frankly, saves them.

In terms of fear, I think one thing narcissistic abusers often derive from their experiences is that there’s not enough of what’s good to go around, which may even be the case in their family environment. They then take that fear out into the world, believing, again—perhaps only subconsciously—that there’s a limited amount of love, attention, money, success, fame, and so on, no matter where they go. More for you means less for them; therefore, everything becomes a competition. With this mindset, it is difficult for them to genuinely support others and easy to fear that those “others” might succeed at their expense. You want them to root for you, but they’re more likely to sabotage you with discouragement and disinterest.

Perceived threats to a narcissistic abuser can be enviable traits, such as someone else’s popularity and influence, or even unenviable traits, such as an illness or disorder that another person may have to endure. People begin to pay more attention to the afflicted or popular ones, which can trigger an alarm for the narcissist. It compels them to redirect the attention they’re not getting so that the focus is back on them.

Sometimes, narcissistic abusers reject others simply for being different. There are circumstances where a child has mental or physical health issues, and a narcissistic individual will perceive that as shameful because they think it reflects negatively on them, or they see it as a weakness from which they must distance themselves. Sometimes, parents or relatives deny the problem or blame the child rather than support them. To a narcissist, that behavior is an affront to them. The main concern is, What will people think?

That was typical behavior hundreds of years ago—the result of clinical ignorance and/or superstition of the times, but it hasn’t entirely vanished all these years later, despite our society having a better understanding of these issues today.

For a dysfunctional narcissist, everyone in their family and circle of friends must be normal by their standards. Every member of their family or circle must also validate and reinforce whatever they think, say, and do in order to nurture the notion that their perception is always accurate. That’s crucial to them because their deepest fear is, if they are wrong about that, what else are they wrong about? And can they possibly be wrong about everything they believed to be true? They may not be ready to examine any of those possibilities.

Narcissistic abusers withhold support, validation, admiration, attention, and approval from those they perceive as threats or competition or anyone who challenges the reality they’ve constructed. They reject, bully, intimidate, humiliate, and kick perceived enemies when they’re down. These heartbreaking actions can crush a person’s spirit and leave them with paralyzing trauma and fear. Malignant narcissists often demonize someone because they don’t have the same power over that person that they so expertly wield over others.

Character assassination is most definitely in the narcissistic abuser’s wheelhouse, and they excel at it. They rewrite history, spin false narratives, mischaracterize, mock, and blame their chosen targets. There will be people within the narcissist’s social group playing both sides, as well, which becomes a never-ending drama. Too often, people want to be on the side they figure is winning, more popular, or simply more rewarding. They may even fear the narcissist and remain loyal rather than become another target. As victims of narcissistic abuse, we may also feel a sense of loyalty to the abusers, and we may wish to protect them. Denial becomes a method of survival for us, too. It doesn’t help that narcissistic abusers can be charming. We may find them so lovable and irresistible that we’re desperate to be wrong about them.

Nor does it help that none of us are perfect people, unwittingly allowing abusers to bring out the worst in us. When dealing with manipulative behavior, we sometimes make a bad situation worse with our reactions or simply by tripping over our own flaws and insecurities, thus taking the bait. (If I had a dollar for every ridiculous thing I’ve said in those circumstances—well, you get the idea.)

Sadly, too, we often genuinely love a narcissistic abuser and hope we can help them. It’s wise to remember that people who want to recover will do the work required to repair themselves. People who are not aspiring to change may not be willing or ready to examine themselves, acknowledge their mistakes, take responsibility, and begin the process of learning, growing, and healing. If they are not there yet, and you confront their behavior, they’ll likely act as if your question or statement is shocking, offensive, or absurd, and they’ll think you’re the one with the problem. The moment you put them on the defensive, it becomes even more critical to discredit you to themselves and their circle of family and friends.

It won’t matter what you say to them or how kind you are; your words will not move a narcissist who isn’t ready to change. You think you can meet them halfway, but if believing you, understanding you, and finding a way to co-exist peacefully with you doesn’t work with their agenda, they don’t compromise. Even if they care about and respect you, the extent to which they care has to be greater than their need to be perceived in the most flattering light.

The payoff they’ve gotten from selling their narrative is a lot to give up because they’d have to be willing to risk losing the false alter ego they created to survive. It’s easier for them to dehumanize a perceived enemy and rationalize that this person deserves their retaliation, no matter how vicious it is. They can’t afford to put themselves in your place and understand your emotional pain or see how they may be the ones who caused it.

Narcissistic abusers may call you selfish if you end the relationship or leave their group because they don’t realize what they’re asking you to do is tolerate their constant disrespect and abuse. But that’s okay. Those in their corner will agree with them that you’re selfish, and that’s okay, too. Maybe someday, they will be able to see things objectively, but don’t confuse someone you can save with someone you need to save yourself from.


I mentioned bullying above because bullying is a form of narcissistic abuse and can be debilitating for targets who are deeply connected to their emotions. These people may be strong in most situations, but bullying distorts their self-perception and leads to kindhearted people becoming more sensitive and insecure—often hating themselves. People don’t necessarily realize it when they contribute to the erosion of a child’s self-worth, but kids pay attention to how people treat them, and they get the message loud and clear. Abusers intentionally or unintentionally break our wings so that when we don’t fly, they can say they knew we never would or that we might have succeeded if only we’d listened to them.

Sadly, most of us already have an underlying fear that people won’t love us for who we are, which, through suffering from narcissistic abuse, gets distorted into the notion that no one will ever love us—period. That’s often one of the things people fear most in life, a fate worse even than death, and many young people out there are killing themselves for that. They fight to cope with one trauma after another until they reach a breaking point and can’t cope anymore, and then they shut down. The message is I’ve had enough; I can’t do this anymore. I’m out.

Often, when people feel that desperation, getting beyond thoughts of suicide is only the first hurdle. From there, it’s a long haul to reclaim themselves and their capacity to love.

That’s right. Our ability to love genuinely is also affected. We ask ourselves, What’s wrong with me? We can’t fix it or explain it, and we can’t stop it. We sometimes imagine we’re crazy or going crazy. We get completely lost and unsure about many things. Underneath it is a chronic sadness that never really subsides, and shame overwhelms us.

Awareness and acceptance are the first steps to most self-help, and that’s very much the case here. It takes time and requires ongoing self-maintenance, but we are generally more powerful than the obstacles that derail us. In this instance, I’m not talking about chemical imbalances or illnesses beyond anyone’s control; I’m talking about things that are beyond our control simply because we didn’t understand them at the time.

I advocate awareness because it’s easy for people to use our idiosyncrasies against us. Longtime endurance of narcissistic abuse leads us to question our judgment and sometimes acts to prove that the negative assessment of ourselves is correct. We may be attractive, intelligent, talented, or whatever, yet we fear we are inferior and unworthy of love and success because the people we want to love us—the narcissistic abusers—are incapable of genuine love. And if we are the reminder of their shame, they fear us as much as they fear the true selves they’ve buried deep.

We become more understanding as we become more aware. We learn to examine our actions and motives and not fear what we find. Again, we don’t have to be perfect, and none of us are. More important is the desire to recognize and correct hurtful behavior as we move forward.

When we choose to break the cycle, we learn to spot trouble from the get-go and avoid it. Even better, narcissistic abusers will tend to keep their distance because they’ll realize they’re not able to manipulate and control us.

The good news is we are always healing, as individuals, as friends, as a family, as a nation, and as a planet.  As part of that process, we continue to expand our consciousness, and we wake up every day one step closer to who we are meant to be—the best person we can be under our everyday circumstances.


This blog contains numerous excerpts from my forthcoming memoir, Grateful to Be Alive.


Grateful to Be Alive:

My Road to Recovery from Addiction
By D.K. Sanz

Do unsettling truths bring harsh judgment? They do, but the price of denial is steep.

D.K. Sanz’s storybegins in the drug-infested New York City streets of Woodside, Queens, during the tumultuous HIV/AIDS pandemic of the 80s and 90s. It offers a glimpse into how a now often-overlooked pandemic impacted Sanz’s nuclear family. 

From her earliest days, Sanz was the easily forgotten stranger, always a little out of sync with the rest of the world—a tough but naive kid and aspiring writer.  Her triumph over illness and addiction includes amusing anecdotes and nostalgic, heartwarming memories.

Grateful to be Alive delves deep into Sanz’s confessional self-sabotage, self-destruction, and the harrowing downward spiral she almost didn’t survive. Her never-before-told story ranges from recklessness and impudence to empathy, forgiveness, and love.

D.K. Sanz has since published several books, primarily poetry but also a novel, and she continues to work on sequels and an all-new fantasy series. You’ll find some of her poetry at the end of this book.

Whether struggling or not, you will find Grateful to Be Alive is a story of hope, of defying insurmountable odds, finding joy, and a gradual transition toward authenticity and becoming the person Sanz always wanted to be.

First ARC copy review:

“When you begin this book, you will not put it down. You will immediately be drawn into Sanz’s bold narrative of a woman, throughout her life, passing through “every forbidden door,” as she says of herself. It is a book of continual growth through experience, defeat, and triumph. The prose is swift, concise, full of irony, truth, and poise. You will not find a more startling, revealing memoir. Highly, highly recommended.” ~ J.T. Masters

If you are interested in obtaining an ARC copy, please e-mail me at

Photo credits:

Feature photo of narcissist shadow image by Thanks for your Likes from Pixabay 

Spirit nightmare dream image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Blindfolded woman in mirror image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Man in mysterious whisper image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

Dove/hands/peace/freedom image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay


Smear campaigns. Some of you are familiar with them. It’s when someone is desperately trying to destroy another person’s reputation, beginning with his or her credibility. It’s not a situation where one caring person is confiding in another out of concern. It’s a hateful mission where the motives are insecurity and a need to do damage control.

I often speak out on this subject because I’ve seen it happen between friends (really frenemies), coworkers, lovers, and family members. The saddest thing is when it goes on in a recovery group where everyone is there to work on themselves and help each other. Why would you isolate and destroy vulnerable people who have likely suffered from narcissistic abuse and are working to correct learned behaviors?

It happens a lot. A friend of mine is a target of this right now. I’ve been a target myself in the past.

For some, including me, the obvious solution is to get out of this person’s circle abruptly, if necessary. If it’s impossible to avoid them entirely, I’d have as little contact as I can manage and refuse to participate. It’s easy to let them charm you when you’re hoping to resolve things, but confiding in them or pouring your heart out is usually a mistake. Just protect yourself. Let them say you abandoned them, rejected them, whatever they need to tell themselves. You don’t owe them a damn thing.

You may say, it isn’t right to have to sacrifice other relationships in a group by removing yourself. I think of it this way. Anyone successfully recruited in some war against you has never been in your corner. Your real friends will come to you. They will have your back and likely sever ties with the character-assassinating troublemaker. Sometimes people will go along with the narcissist to remain part of the crowd (like high school), but that’s not your problem. People believe what they want to believe.

I know it seems unfair, having to surrender without a fight. This person gets to win, and you don’t get to set the record straight. Let me repeat, TOXIC, as in detrimental to your health and well-being. Not worth it. If you’re dealing with the kind of person I’m talking about, you can’t fix it. The more you try, the worse it will get. Think “troll.” Yes, it’s like dealing with some internet troll. You’ll never get them to see things your way or empathize because they don’t really care about you. They’re not able to put themselves in your place. They’ll even take pleasure in your pain.

Humility is your friend here. Let your ego take the hit and move on. You trusted the wrong person. Cut your losses. You’re going to get good at this, and you’ll soon know to avoid these people like the plague, so you’re never in that predicament again.

Experiences like this are traumatic, but they help you learn and grow. They force you to look at whatever part you played in the whole mess, even if it was merely taking the bait from time to time. When we do that, we can easily say and do things that are ordinarily beneath us and, in doing so, strengthen the narcissist’s case. That’s why I say, drop the ball and run. It’s a trap, where you’ll always be damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

You’re dealing with dangerously fragile egos here. Because of what they experienced in life, they consciously or subconsciously, came to believe there is not enough love to go around. They see attention and admiration as a limited commodity. They need to feel they are more worthy and deserving of those things than you are, and second to none. They have to tell themselves they are the favorite, numero uno, the chosen one in every scenario. There are many reasons you may pose a threat. It can be anything. The damage control they do is to convince themselves and others that you are not better or more worthy because if you were, they couldn’t handle that. Underneath it all is an inner child seething with rage.

I’ll share a little story that explains, on a much lighter note, about taking the bait. My mother-in-law used to criticize me on unimportant things. She’d say something like, “She has everything in that diaper bag except the kitchen sink.” That would upset me because, like all new mothers, I wanted to believe I was handling things well. Instead of getting upset, I could have said something like, “Oh, no, the sink’s there. Check the zipper pocket.”

Here’s the key. It’s no fun for them if they can’t bring out the worst in you.

I’ve found it helpful, too, to figure out how I might have handled things better and how I can come out a better person. That’s not to say you weren’t a nice person before, or that I wasn’t, just that we are always striving to get better. What I’m saying is, when people tell you, “don’t lose the lesson,” that’s the critical part. That’s how you win. Continue to do the next right thing, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Live your best life and strive for greater understanding. What’s going to happen is, people will eventually know not to mess with you.

Feature photo by alan9187 from Pixabay


“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”— Plato

*WARNING* Possible spoilers

5 stars *****

When I first opened this book on my Kindle, I figured my rating would be four stars, tops. The book’s subject, Donald Trump, has been distressing and depressing most of us for years, and we know why.

However, it doesn’t suffice to say that Mary L. Trump has done a great job covering this subject.

Everything she wrote was entirely believable and relatable. I loved the family anecdotes, especially the one about the holiday gift exchange. Family dysfunction is typical. We can all laugh about it, but, beyond silly, meaningless gifts, the level of dysfunction in the Trump family was brutal and overwhelmingly tragic.

Considering how the Trumps treated Mary, her parents, her brother, Fritz, Fritz’s wife, and Fritz’s seriously ill child, it surprised me to note how fair she was to the perpetrators of what I’d call highly traumatic narcissistic abuse.

Now, there are stories written out of anger and a need for revenge. There are also stories told with raw honesty, and as much compassion as the author can muster. I felt that Too Much and Never Enough came straight from the heart. Resentment seeps through, yes. How can it not? But the way the author has attempted to understand the people around her speaks volumes.

I would go so far as to say that Too Much and Never Enough is the most compassionate perspective you will ever get about this president. His enablers will never have this level of empathy for him. They are merely using him to their advantage. The same way his father did. I’m not saying Mary Trump wrote this book to help her uncle, but I think she wanted to help America and the rest of the world fully understand what we’re dealing with here.

To that end, she provides an extraordinary explanation for everything we see, and if you’ve been paying close attention to what’s been going on, it all makes perfect sense. If you’re familiar with narcissistic abuse, it makes even more sense. And she’s not giving him a pass here. She makes it painfully clear how dangerous it is to keep Donald Trump in office. I’m not giving him a pass either. Yes, my heart broke for him a couple of times. The book has made me more sympathetic toward him, but I have more sympathy for the rest of the world, dealing with the fallout of his tragedy.

A broken, terrified child is running our country. As Mary Trump stated, he’s still seeking approval from his dad.

In my opinion, he’s likely punishing him with a madman’s fury by punishing usall of us. It doesn’t matter whether we support him or not. He will punish anyone and everyone in any way he can.

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”— Edmund Burke

In conclusion, I do wish everyone would read this book. I hope those who support Donald Trump will read it and see it for what it is and not merely an attempt to slander or humiliate him. It’s only possible if they approach it with an open mind and heart.

Maybe it’s too late for Donald Trump to get the help he should have gotten so many years ago, but he can still do the right thing and step down. Either way, we need to get him out of there.

“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”Michel de Montaigne


Brave Wings is a new online magazine that focuses on the human condition—whatever we experience in life that helps us learn, grow, and evolve. Sharing perspectives about healing and empowerment can be exciting and helpful, but we also want to provide entertainment and fun while sharing the beauty of creativity.

Some of the topics we will cover:

Adversity, anxiety, artist(s), authors, books, writing (editing tips and experiences), childhood, classic literature, codependency, compassion, creativity, depression, dreams, ego, evolving, feeling unworthy, fiction pieces and excerpts, fun, giving back, gratitude, grief, growing, healing, hope, humanity, humility, humor, inspiration, interviews, judgment, learning, letting go, life, loss, love, mental health, narcissism, oppression, panic attacks, parenting, passion, poetry, politics, prejudice, reading and reviews, recovery from addiction and trauma, relationships, religion, romance, sadness, self-sabotage, self-care and self-love, shame, stigma, stress, and tolerance.

For entertainment, we are interested in short stories and book series (all genres). We’re interested in humor.

For creativity, we may be interested in photos, handmade products, something that showcases your talent.

Content for submission will include blogs, videos, audios, slideshows, and photographs. Please see the submissions page for instructions on how to submit!

We will not pay for submissions at this time. However, we will always share your work on our social media sites, and we encourage all contributors to share magazine contents submitted by others on their social media sites. Helping one another with exposure is what will make this site work.

In addition, we will provide the following for all contributors to the magazine:

A listing in the contributor section, where more information (links, etc.) will be added with each contribution. The most frequent contributors may also have a few of their books, products, or recommendations in the listing.

The opportunity by contributors to submit news that provides opportunities for artistic communities, as well as their own business events and significant personal news, all of which we will share on our social media sites.

Access to the chat room (as a moderator, if they prefer), and the ability to hold monitored topic meetings to promote their talent/business.

For those privileges, you must be a regulator contributor. There are no deadlines. However, you must have contributed at least twice with acceptance and publication.

We do intend to have a community that includes a discussion forum and chat room where we can present topics hosted by contributors.

Our Announcement page will provide news of available opportunities within the artistic communities, including contests and contributor events.

We will post book reviews that are submitted by contributors, but we don’t assign books for review.

We will post interviews by our contributors if they are relative to our platform. If you feel you are a good candidate for an interview, contact us at

If this venture is a success, we may eventually monetize and pay for content.

For those interested in getting involved, we may also need editors, site moderators, group moderators, page moderators, etc. who will have contributor status. Those most involved will be given domain e-mail addresses for the magazine. We have four more available, so if you love this idea, the opportunity is there to get as involved as you’d like.

Another thing I’m tossing around is whether we’ll have a group or newsletter for interested parties, so please, please, weigh in with your thoughts about everything! All suggestions are welcome!

Please visit our site at, and feel free to follow or subscribe.

Please like us on Facebook and connect with us on Twitter!

Photo by KH Koehler Design


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unsplash-logoDiego PH

I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls


© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.