Updated: Jan 12, 2022
One of the most painful experiences of my life was watching my dad walk out of the house at 7 years old and not come back. It caused a deep fracture in a 7-year-old boy’s soul who was stroked to sleep by his father every night to see him leave like that. It’s my earliest and most vivid childhood memory. My best friend was around, we were playing upstairs. Mum and dad were fighting as usual and it all came to a head. I remembered it was cold and the heavy front door shut like a great loud bang and I was standing there watching the whole thing in the hallway.
Psychologists will tell you that what happens to us until the age of 14 pretty much shapes the rest of our lives and our relationships and this experience and others certainly shaped mine. I remember watching a video by Michael Brown who wrote a deeply profound book called the Presence Process in which he said “If you want to know how you really feel about God, bring to mind your birth father and the feelings that come up with him.” For me, those feelings were of deep anger and this blocked me for so long. I created a shell around me and I didn’t let anyone in. I shut off my emotions and didn’t trust anyone let alone another man. I got in trouble at school, had brushes with the law and didn’t want anyone telling me what to do or how to live my life.
It’s funny now looking back when I mentor others I can see so much of my own journey in that. When I first met Chris and Paul my mentors I was very wary of them. I had a very cocky attitude, I was young, I was starting to make money and I was using a lot of surface-level things to cover up my insecurities. I’ll never forget Paul coming over to my house and talking with him in the kitchen and he told me about his dad. How his dad was basically like his sperm donor and how Paul had run away from home at 14 because of abuse. He was the only person I had ever met in my life who told me a story like that and I could relate to. I didn’t say it but deep down I thought “this person gets my anger. I can learn from him.” It wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing but I thought I want to be around him more. I want to hear what he has to say more. I think the best mentorship journeys are like that. It starts with the relationship, with a friendship, with a bond, with someone looking at your character and going “I can learn from you.” I come across hundreds of life coaches, therapists and counsellors every year and while they may have all the paper certificates on the wall, the old adage rings true…”You can only take people as far as you have gone.” When I met Chris and Paul I thought I needed help with my business because I lived my life outside of me. What I really needed was help with me. I didn’t realise I didn’t have a foundation in myself. I didn’t realise how much the demons of my past still haunted me. How much the narcissistic damage I also received had impacted me.
I often say to people that I didn’t have a dad when I was younger but I got two later in life and this isn’t to put anyone on a pedestal but I have never met people who have been as committed to me as they have. I have been angry, spiteful, prideful and tried to sabotage the relationships because I was acting out my childhood. I expected to be rejected so it was “I’ll reject you first before you hurt me.” and I modelled that in every relationship. But for some reason, they kept coming back. Kept loving me, kept giving me the firm words that I needed and kept giving me the hugs I didn’t get when I was younger. I found fathers long after my birth father had left and if this sounds a bit deep and heavy, well…that’s because it is. Most of us think our confidence issues or self-esteem struggles or any challenges we have with stress are surface-level issues solved by a bit of meditation when they just aren’t. 99% of our problems stem from our upbringing, from the influence of parents, siblings, spouses, friends and co-workers. The smallest hurtful thing said by a friend at school or a teacher’s rejection can leave an indelible mark in our psyche that means we don’t apply for that new job we want or we don’t feel good enough to find a partner in life. I know this and I struggle with this in myself every day.
Dr Morgan Scott Peck one of the pre-eminent psychologists of his day, says in the Road Less Travelled that when a patient enters therapy the therapist takes on the very real role of a parent and I completely concur with this. Both through being re-parented myself and now learning to parent others. We simply can’t transform and transition alone just like we can’t learn to walk alone. We live in a world that espouses rugged individuality and is becoming increasingly narcissistic and that causes deep factions and splits. Where are the villages? Where are the communities? Where are the true mentors? Where are the strong men? Where are the strong women? This is what I have worked the last 14 years of my life to change. I didn’t have a family when I was younger and I thank God and his grace that I found one later in life. This isn’t about bashing parents or families. They haven’t had the parenting themselves. Most people think parenting is giving kids a roof over their head, food to eat and shelter and yes that’s an important part of it. But the emotional, mental and most importantly spiritual development of a child is the foundation. The best parents ought to be mentors, coaches and counsellors but there is no license to be a parent like there is for driving a car so most crash without even knowing it even though most are well-meaning.
We’ve encountered this at Lighthouse when helping people grow it is most often the families and friends that resist that person changing the most and we get trolled because of it.
Through opening up, I also opened up my heart to God where before I couldn’t even say the word. Realising that everything cannot come from nothing, that there had to be a catalyst to this all, there is too much design, too much intelligence, too many “random” co-incidences for this all to happen by random. You wouldn’t walk into a forest and find a cake and say it appeared there over millions of years by itself. Through great resistance and also encouragement from my mentors, my journey of searching for absolute truth led me to Christianity because out of everything I looked at it was the most solid. The Sikh faith I grew up in had so many holes everywhere and nothing else encouraged me to examine scientifically and test what I believed. Christianity is like nothing else because of the evidence that backs up its claims and if you genuinely search for the truth I believe you’ll find it too. I had so many biases and prejudices and didn’t even believe in God for most of my life. But it was the process of healing a deep wound from childhood that helped me to do that. I would not have been able to heal in the way I am beginning to without a relationship with God.
Everyone needs help, everyone needs support, most are too proud to admit it. I was. Let alone to open up to an ultimate Source of everything. An ultimate mentor. I’m writing this in the hope that someone reading this may also reach out for help when you least feel like it. If you’d like to chat with me I’d be happy to help.