Note from Eric: When Mitch realized his anger at others was really displaced anger towards his Dad, he decided to do something about it. He found that the best way to renew his relationship was to try to express his own love to his Dad first. It wasn’t easy, but over time, love won out. A great story about renewing any relationships in our lives, told by Mitch and his Uncle Dan.
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MITCH: I was over at my friend’s house last year, a really good friend of mine, and I noticed every time him and his dad would come together in a room they’d just kind of give each other a big hug and a kiss, and his dad would leave by saying “I love you,” you know, and just me, coming from my father, I never got any of that, you know, I never got a hug or kiss or even “I love you,” you know, and I just felt a big hole in my heart almost, just thinking about “that’s what dad’s should do to their sons” you know, and I just felt like I missed that my whole life.
DAN: Mitch’s dad is my older brother, and Jack…Jack is a carbon-copy of my dad. And my dad and Jack both had a tough time of expressing love to their kids. I mean, there was never any doubt that my dad loved me and I know Mitch’s dad loves him, but it doesn’t come naturally to Jack to express that.
MITCH: I was angry at my dad, but at the time, I didn’t realize who I was angry at and I was living with my Uncle Dan and we would get into huge fights over little things.
DAN: He got really ticked off at me and a lot of other people and it was kind of like “Where’s this coming from?”
MITCH: After awhile went by and me and Dan’s fights kept going on, I went to a service with Dave Wilson talking and talked about his father and displaced anger and at first it didn’t click until he brought up the visualization of pulling the rope in, pulling back to see where the anger’s really coming from and he was talking about his dad, how his dad got him angry since his past history with his dad. You know, it came to mind, right then, that I was really angry at my dad and the whole time I was taking it out on my uncle.
DAN: I told Mitch at one point, “If you’re gonna get this affirmation from your dad, you’re gonna have to teach him. You’re gonna have to challenge him on this whole ‘I love you’ business and see what happens.”
MITCH: He told me to take the first step towards my dad and, you know, start saying “I love you” to him just on conversations on the phone, cause I didn’t get to see him much. And first, it was a little hard for me even to say, you know, and I finally got up the nerve to say it and he didn’t reply back the first time. He was just like, a pause on the phone, you know, and then “All right, good-bye.” And that even hurt worse.
DAN: I’d be sitting there waiting, “Come on, Jack, just say it! It doesn’t cost anything to say it back to the kid. And time after time, Mitch would be waitin’ and for it and he wouldn’t hear the words he needed to hear.
MITCH: I actually challenged my dad and I said, “Dad, you know, like, why don’t you say this? You know, I mean, like, I’m you’re son, you’re supposed to say this to your kids.” And he kind of gave me a response, he’s like, “Who are you to tell me to do something?” you know, like I’m just his son and he’s the one who tells things to be done. He didn’t know what to say, actually, after I asked him that. He didn’t know why he didn’t, you know. But after that conversation he actually said it afterwards and every conversation after that it seems to get, since I challenged him, he would begin to say it, “I love you” and stuff like that at the end and he really meant something. And now, recently, he’s been saying it before I even get to say it.
DAN: Slowly, but surely, it began to change. And the really cool thing was that Jack came out and visited Mitch last December and spent a lot of one-on-one time with Mitch.
MITCH: That weekend that he was there was probably the best weekend me and my father have ever had in our lives and we just…he showed a lot more affection towards me, you know, we’d just give each other hugs for no reason when we were in the room, we’d sit together, we’d hold hands. Actually, one night, I just…he was in bed, and I came up and I just actually went and laid in the bed with him, and it was just, it was really wierd at first, but he just turned over and just wrapped his arms around me and just, it was just a really good feeling to have that happen from your dad. Ever since that weekend, he’s just been, every time we see each other, he’s just, big, open arms, big hug, you know, saying “I love you” and, I don’t know, it’s just been a great relationship since then.