Some people will say men are tough, men are unshakable, they can get through anything. I was one of those people myself. When I was younger I never saw men cry, even at funerals, it was a rare sight. I was the opposite, I was so emotional that I thought something was wrong with me, so I hid it the best I could..holding all of my emotions inside.
Self love was the farthest from my mind. I went off to college, met some new friends, had some fun, learned a little. Still self worth was nowhere it should have been. Made some sacrifices to fit in which I learned later that I would regret. Every mistake I made, it was a bigger hit to my self esteem; everything looked good on the outside, inside I hurt.
Then I met a girl. My first “love”, which for a kid with low self worth I found out was a recipe for disaster. More poor choices were made and my depression got deeper and deeper. Once the inevitable end came to the relationship I literally cried with relief. I knew the end of the relationship meant I had to move back home, which made the failure in me come out even more. So the running began.
I moved to South Carolina, I had a blast. 19 years old, single, playing softball every weekend. Things were fun, until they weren’t. What was I doing with myself? What was next? And then depression it again. So I ran.
I ran back home. My self worth felt non existent, until I got a call. A cousin of mine was going out for her 18th birthday, she invited me out with some of her friends. I decided to go for it – a night out was what I needed. Turns out that the night would be life changing for me; I met her roommate. A beautiful red-head, brave enough to show me a huge bruise on her butt. Here I was; low self confidence especially when it came to self image and this girl was showing me the side of her butt. Seeing her smile and laugh about it made things look easy. So I took a chance.
June 12, 2010 – the most anxious I have ever been in my life. So many things were going through my head, but my thoughts kept coming back to this is the first day of the rest of OUR lives. So many happy thoughts, this red-headed woman has seen my high and seen my low and still wants to be with me; I can’t believe this is happening. I, of course, couldn’t even get through my vows without choking up and she just smiled at me and said “It’s ok love”. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. Here I was, in front of everyone we loved, and I messed up on the most important words I could possibly ever say and she lifted me up.
Fast forward a couple years April 25, 2014 my wife is now 33 weeks pregnant. Normal appointment counting down the weeks and I get a call from Amy she said “I have to stay overnight for some observations; Mom is here could you come down so she can go home.” No problem, of course I would be there for my wife and baby. So the drive down to the hospital some those thoughts came into my head, Am I ready? Will I be a good dad? What will this baby do to us as a couple? What will happen if I make a mistake? Will this kid even like me? Little did I know I was going to find out sooner rather than later. When I went into the room, I saw a very scary sight…room was dark, no tv, machines everywhere, my wife had more IV’s in her arms than I could count. But her smile – she flashed her smile at me and I was met with that calming feeling again. She then told me we would not be leaving the hospital without our baby being delivered. She said my face went white but I felt excitement, nervousness, scared and worry all wrapped into one. I thought I had a couple more weeks to prepare for this but the time was now. I had to finish growing up now knowing I would have someone else to care for. And feeling that slight pressure helped me in a way, those doubts turned into growing confidence – no more questions, they turned into ‘I will be a good Dad’, ‘This will make Amy and I stronger as a couple – we will learn from our mistakes together.’ ‘I AM READY.’ It was strange how the doubt faded away so quickly. Even with all the upcoming pressure of being a new father the weight was lifted off my shoulders. April 27th my daughter was born an unbelievable moment, tears of joy flooded over me. Incredibly proud of my wife and our daughter Clara Elizabeth.
Bumps and bruises along the way for all of us. Learning everything that came along with being a new parent. The highs became so high and the lows started to disappear. We loved it so much we did it again. Gordon was born April 24 just a couple years later. Now having two kids around the age of two was a bit more of a challenge and pushed us at times and still does to this day, but in the end we are happy with our family of four.
Through the years outside interference would come in – death, job demotion, financial stress, illness, and the list goes on. Prior to marriage and fatherhood, all of these would have put me into a deep spiral. The obstacles still stung hard, but I knew I always had my family. Amy was a voice of positivity when it was most needed.
When my wife was introduced to Lisa Thompson and Self Love Beauty I was incredibly happy for her. This was an outlet for her to meet other women that needed to hear the SLB message. Little did I know, that message was not just meant for women but for men as well. I loved hearing Amy talk about SLB and the work they are doing. So I started to follow it more and read some blogs, listen to some podcasts and watched youtube videos. The messages were incredible uplifting and some were right along with battles I had faced in the past. To be able to hear that other people go through it too is reassuring that self love and self worth is a daily battle. Sometimes help is needed – Oh, Infinite Love youtube videos are my favorite learning tool. While some gear more towards women I still find the message intriguing and relatable.
I was so intrigued that my wife and I volunteered to help at an event in Traverse City in early 2019. Not knowing what to expect, I was immediately met with a hug from Lisa to break the ice. I told myself ‘this is where I needed to be today.’ Seeing the uneasiness of the teens attending the conference that day took me back to when I was a teen. With every speaker and every class they returned from I saw them relax more and more. Just the little things like walking around the room, most when they entered the room at the start had their heads down and soft spoken. At the end of the day with the main attraction the Cat Walk they walked with outstanding confidence. Emotional me couldn’t hold it together I cried seeing the transformation from an afternoon with the amazing speakers. The message was heard loud and clear for many of the girls in attendance.
I loved it so much that I made sure when a Daddy Daughter event took place, Clara and I had to go. Seeing the excitement in Clara that day made me so happy. She was incredibly nervous on the way down with lots of questions; Will there be anyone my age? What will we be doing? What if I mess something up? As the event progressed her grip got a little less tight from my hand, she started to enjoy herself more and more. She did not want to leave when I told her it was time. Incredible turn from just two hours earlier the questions of the trip home was much different; What was your favorite part Dad? Will we be able to do something like this again? Did you know all that stuff about the cars Dad? I can’t wait to tell my friends at school what I did last night.
Continuing your education of self love is so important. My family has taught me so much, kids are honest with you to a fault but also keep you in check. My amazing wife has kept the positivity flowing now for almost 14 years. I would most likely never been introduced to the Self Love Beauty message. Without these people in my life, my path would have for sure have been different. I am so glad to have taken that phone call that night of my cousins birthday; it changed my life forever.
Contributor Writer Kyle O’Connor is a working dad to two children and husband of 10 years making my way through a journey of self worth and confidence. He strives to bring awareness to both topics to males while trying to break the stigma, while raising my children to do the same.
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