Friday, September 12, 2008

Emotional Vomit

Have you every had one of those out-of-body moments when you are completely aware that you are speaking and acting in a way that you know you shouldn't but you just can't stop yourself? I seem to have those moments a lot. Not in any perverse manner. Mostly when I'm interacting with family members. Now why is it that we can be so kind and mature to complete strangers but when it comes to our own family we behave like two-year-olds?
I had one of those moments just this evening when I went to offer up some fatherly advice to my 17-year old daughter. Well, she wasn't really asking for advice. But, I had committed myself to give it and I wasn't going to settle for anything but complete and utter victory. Mission accomplished.
I soon watched myself saying everything that I shouldn't..."you should be more grateful"...."you don't appreciate how well you have it"...."I work my fingers to the bone for you". It was like I was caught in a bizarre twilight zone of cliches!
Now, I think I know what it takes to be a kind and compassionate father. I see them every day. I read books about them. I even recognize when I'm not one and know what I should do differently. And yet I still find myself dry-heaving the simple and cutting emotions of a cave dweller.
But I hold out hope. Some day, starting tomorrow, I will catch myself in the first burp of emotional debate and plug the dike. It won't taste all that great to me but I'll spare others the mess.

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