By Angela Borders and Joe Borders, MFT
-Jun 16, 2018
For many, Father’s day is a time of joy and celebration, but this is not the case for some. Whether it be because of a loss, a difficult relationship, or any other number of reasons, this can be a day full of difficult emotions for both fathers and their children. Maybe you have or had a hard relationship with your dad, or maybe you are a father yourself and are struggling with some difficult emotions around being a parent. Let’s talk about this.
Whatever You’re Feeling is OK
First of all, it’s important to know that whatever you might be feeling is normal, valid and ok. You may be feeling sadness, pain, relief, grief, a confusing joy (maybe it’s bittersweet, or maybe it’s unclear why you feel it), anger, or anxiety. This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows how varied and complex your feelings might be, and again, we want to stress, that this is completely normal. There is no such thing as a “bad” or “wrong” emotion, and that can sometimes be hard for people to understand and embrace. Even emotions like anger that are often regarded as negative are normal and even healthy, helpful emotions When processed in a positive way.
Joe notes here that he often talks with people about depression in this regard. We often think of depression as an outright negative emotion. It’s true that depression sucks, but it is also one of the ways our bodies tell us something is wrong and needs to change. Just like physical pain keeps you from breaking yourself, difficult emotions alert you to problems and motivate you to do something about them. So, rather than trying to force yourself to feel differently, or to suppress “negative” emotions, try instead to accept them, work through them, and come to peace with them.
What to Do With Hard Emotions
Now, of course it’s important to distinguish all emotions being valid from all actions being valid. There are many ways, healthy, and not healthy, to act on difficult emotions. Lashing out at others, self-destructive behaviors, and resorting to physical violence, are all things that just create more challenges and pain. Instead, look for healthy and productive ways to channel those emotions. You might try creative expression through art, music, and writing, physical activity through exercise, and social connection in a space where it’s acceptable and appropriate to work through difficult, possibly even hurtful, emotions if needed. Maybe join a support group, go to therapy, or talk with someone you know who really understands the situation and can weather the heavy material—ie a very close friend rather than a boss or stranger.
If you are struggling with difficult emotions around father’s day you might consider grief counseling or relationship counseling. The important thing when looking for an outlet for your emotions is to find something that works for you, that has a positive effect on all involved, and that actually addresses the emotions you are experiencing. It might not be helpful, for example, to spend hours painting or drawing if you don’t find any healing or enjoyment in that activity. However, for another person the very same activity that brings no aid to you could open doors to peace. Everyone is unique, and so you should be patient with yourself in finding what works for you.
Some Ways to Cope
Many have found all sorts of growth and personal benefit in working through a multitude of emotions in the following settings:
- Art therapy
- Therapy with animals
- Music therapy
- Writing therapy
- Support groups
- Talk therapy
- Discovering/exploring new interests
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and again what works for you might not work for another person and vice versa, but we hope that the ideas here might be helpful.
Be Kind to Yourself
Many holidays can be tough for people suffering a loss or who have difficult family relationships, but things like Father’s day can be especially upsetting. Be sure to be kind with yourself and acknowledge that any pain you may be feeling is ok, and maybe try to plan ahead if you can. It might be a good idea to plan specific activities to keep your mind occupied during the day, or it might be a good idea to stay home and give yourself the space to grieve, if you are able. However you want to spend the time, and however you best process, just be sure to know that you are valid, Father’s day can be hard, and your feelings are normal and ok.
We hope this post brings some help, and we wish you peace and kindness in your day.
If you or someone you love is in a hard place, you might consider finding a therapist. SacWellness is home to over 190 therapists in the Greater Sacramento area, including Gold River, Antelope, Auburn, and Roseville. On SacWellness you can find lots of therapists who work with issues like grief counseling, relationship counseling, and others.