Tell Him/Her/Them About It While You Can

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. His sports column on runs every Wednesday.
Many of you already know that I have been writing a book over the past year or more. Well, this week I got back a first and very rough edit, and I have, for the first time, sat down and read the whole thing.

Here's the deal: In writing so much about my own life, I have found so many places where for so long I have placed blame on others for this failure or that shortcoming. It's not like I haven't worked on resentment in my sober life, because I really have. Or so I thought.

Both of my parents passed away within the past 10 years. My mom was a saint in my eyes, and raised us eight McKagan kids with the courage of the whole Allied Forces in WWII. I think she knew how much I loved her and appreciated all her lessons shared, but did I tell her all this when she was still alive? Surely not like I would now.

It is common for all human beings to experience a traumatizing childhood event. I think when we are kids we have these idealized models of what life should be like and what grown-ups should adhere to. In my case, my own father didn't live up to my idealized "father-figure" model, and I ended up resenting him for the rest of his life.

To sort of throw my dad under the bus now that he isn't here to defend himself is not my intent. There were many things he did in my life that were amazing and righteous. We just didn't have a real knack for communicating, especially when I witnessed first-hand my parents' marriage falling apart. When they divorced, I placed the blame squarely on my dad's shoulders and never looked back.

After I got sober, my wife Susan sort of forced me into having a relationship with my dad again. We had a new daughter, and Susan asked me to try and forgive my Pop so that Grace (and then Mae) could have a grandpa around in Seattle. I'm glad that Susan did this.

I didn't go all the way, though, with my dad. I didn't have the guts or fortitude to address with him alone the things I address in my writing and forgive him for wholeheartedly. Sadly, it's just too damn late.

If any of you have the inclination, or are battling old resentments, may I suggest you write them down and then write about your part in these events that have caused said resentment. It may just do a whole lot of healing. Do this before it's too late.

May I also suggest saying to those you hold near and dear how much they may have changed your life for the better. For those people who may have caused you harm, the only healthy solution there may be just to examine your part in these events. Try to be honest with yourself to a fault. We hate to see in ourselves the things that we judge to be poor character traits in others. So when self-honesty starts to hurt and become really, really uncomfortable, that is when you know you are being thorough.

I feel like I am having a meeting at a sober place right now, so I will stop with this line of thought. I'm just trying to pass on some things I have learned over the past year. Some of you have paid forward with sage words to me in the comments section, and I am only trying to return the favor.

In being a parent myself now for a 10- and 13 year-old, I can sort of see through their eyes their vision of some of my own shortcomings. I get it. I was there once.

But these days, I open my mouth and say how I feel. I tell my girls that they are safe with me, or that they make being a dad an easy thing. They think this stuff is all way too damn corny and question why I am saying these things. I just tell them to store those things away and save them for a day when my goofy words may mean something.

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