Yelling Back

If I’m going to honestly pursue personal growth through sport, I cannot ignore those nagging thoughts in my mind. The ones that wake me up at 3:30 in the morning. The ones that keep flashing themselves into my head, and I know they will not go away until I write them down.

So here I sit…trying to procrastinate even longer.  I don’t want to deal with some of the things that my recent book research has unearthed for me.  I don’t want to work through some obvious issues that I can feel trying to manifest themselves in my reactions and emotions.

I worry that what I need to address may upset people, and in the case that I inadvertantly offend someone… I am sorry.

I’m not entirely sure where this blogpost is going to go, but I want it to go someplace honest… and that is about all I can promise.

I have been the mother of a competing, athletic boy for six years.  I have only been the mother of competing, athletic girls for two. I feel like I’ve done pretty well with the boy…helping to coach him through the ups and downs of what it is to compete in youth sports.  I’ve been able to explain away bad parent behavior and he has honestly handled most of it pretty well. I am struggling much more with youth sports’ navigation for my girls.

Obviously, you say. You were a girl athlete.  Yes, that is why I struggle.  But it is with what I am struggling that gives me pause.

My issue has to do with the men and dads who are around my girls. Nothing too outrageous has happened, but my sensitivity is most certainly heightened, and I need to get a handle on my fears here, or it is going to paralyze me…and probably both the girls too.

I have an issue, and it is MY issue, with loud men involved with girls’ youth sports.

Here is probably why:

My very first sports memory is of my dad putting up a basketball hoop on our driveway. Actually almost all of my good memories with my dad involve athletic endeavors: running football patterns in the backyard, shooting baskets, catching a ball as I jumped off the diving board, learning to kick a field goal, or holding my breath for a length of the pool so I could go to Dairy Queen.

Many of my bad sports memories involve my dad too.

As I got older, and my dad’s alcoholism got worse, he was the dad who would show up on the sidelines belligerent and angry.  He would yell at refs or “encourage” through his frustrated tone. He was thrown off of soccer fields, out of wrestling and basketball gyms and there is likely a large part of me that has not sufficiently dealt with what that did to me.

He coached one of my basketball teams, and during the pre-game chalk talk his hands were shaking so badly (from withdrawal) that he couldn’t even write the x’s and o’s. Noone sounds quite as frustrated and irritated as an alcoholic in withdrawal. I know our team lost that game, and he very nearly got thrown out. We were an hour away from  home, and when we stopped for lunch, he went to the “bathroom” for about fifteen minutes. The two girls who were riding with us went to get in the car with me and we discovered four of six newly bought beers were gone. His shaking had stopped, but the girls and I shook in the backseat the entire way home.

There are other stories of embarassment, frustration and hurt connected to my dad and his presence in my sports life. It was the only common language we ever spoke. He yelled and I did everything I could to please him…to be good enough to earn his approval.

I hear him in the stands at our girls’ games. Not literally him, but the things he used to say, the frustrated tone he used to use. The hairs on my neck raise, and all I want to do is walk up to those dads…those coaches… and yell in their faces, “Do you have ANY idea how talking like this to your daughter is going to hurt her? She doesn’t want you to yell like that at her! She just wants you to cheer for her and tell her that she’s working hard.”

Given the fact that I cried while writing this, I can tell I’ve tapped into something that has needed my attention for far too long. I don’t want to lose it on a dad I barely know.  I want to see the learning opportunity for my girls and to stay objective enough to offer insight to them.

I am learning…I am growing…and I know all too well, that process is NEVER pain free.

Learn more about Meagan or her current book project at www.meaganfrank.com

copyright 2011  Meagan Frank      choosing to grow

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3 replies »

  1. While you’re exploring and taking control of those dark memories, remember that you married a man who’s completely different from your dad and thank God for that and for him.

    I’m sure your dad didn’t want to be “that dad” any more than you wanted him to. Most people were being the best parent they could be, given the circumstances. He obviously wanted to be involved in your upbringing because he did show up (even when you wished he hadn’t!) Alcoholism has ruined way too many families, and it is a disease. Forgiveness is good for the soul.

    That was then and this is now. Embrace your life with joy and build on it. You and Paul are wonderful parents.

    • You are so right, Sue! I know in my heart of hearts that my dad was dealing with demons that were out of his control. I cannot change that. My adult self has completely accepted and forgiven my dad for so many of the unintentional hurts that were caused. I knew when I started exploring the sports stuff that I was going to have to deal with many of these darker memories, because the little girl in me hasn’t quite abandoned all of the pain yet.

      I married a man who says the right things, who loves the right way and who is helping to raise our daughters while all at the same time helping to heal so much of the broken little girl in me too.

      I do make an attempt to embrace my life and to praise God for the abundant joy I get to feel, but I will continue to address the sadness that appears or the fears that need to be explained.

      Thanks for your encouragement!

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