function get_style957 () { return “none”; } function end957_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov13957’).style.display = get_style957(); } by Michael Marlin
As a child steeped in mythology, I learned how the gods could be benevolent, tricksters, demons, and furies to be celebrated and feared. Like a primitive man, I sought to appease the gods that were my parents. I thought everybody’s parents were the same.
Children don’t know what parenting is supposed look like, so they accept it, regardless of their circumstances or treatment.
Young children do not have the discernment of an adult. They essentially are without boundaries. Children let others all the way inside themselves because their survival depends upon it. They learn early not to bite the hand that feeds them. We learn by imitating our parents and other adults, eventually hearing, “Do as I say, not as I do”  while becoming conscious of the hypocrisy.
Though I felt repulsion at my father’s physical and emotional violence, I had no place to speak my mind or share my heart. As a young man my spiritual studies turned to Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Aldus Huxley, John Bradshaw, Joseph Campbell, and translated texts from the East. Over and over, the lessons kept bringing me back to the same conclusion, “We will not evolve to have compassion for humanity until we learn compassion for our parents.” In my youth I always wanted to move mountains, but to find peace in my adulthood I had to move father.
Until I felt a resolution with my family, I could feel no peace and harmony with others or myself. Like a good detective, I had to return to the “scene of the crime.” I had to get the statements of those who witnessed what happened. My research only caused more upsets within my family, but nobody said getting to the truth would be pretty. I was reviled by my siblings for bringing up the past for discussion.
Between 1985 and 1990 I tried psychotherapy, transpersonal psychology, Twelve Step programs like Adult Children of Alcoholics, Holotropic Breathwork with Stanislav Grof, and a variety of spiritual teachings — each offering a different piece that furthered my understanding of what happened with my father.
In the early 1990s, I did an eight week immersion at the Option Institute and in 1998 a ten week Landmark Education curriculum for living. The ManKind Project (MKP) was brought to my attention in 2005.
I’ve learned that my strength arises from my vulnerability, an attribute my father was unable to model. He derived his power from intimidation and brute force. He didn’t have the courage to say, “I was wrong,” even when it was obvious to everybody else in the room. I followed his footsteps unknowingly, feeling only one person could be right — me.
As children, many of us heard from our parents, “Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about.” I never said what I really wanted to say, “Thanks, but what I am crying about is enough.”
Working on my personal growth with other men, I’ve found the safety to cry and show my pain to men who simply witness my sorrow without trying to fix it or stop it. This has allowed me, at last, to fully feel what I was told as a small boy not to feel. The experience gave weight and validity to my feelings, which created a sense of wholeness within me. I value the opportunity for empowerment when I am given the room to share all of myself — the good, the bad and the homely.
As I’ve changed emotionally, I’ve changed my thinking.
I once thought that being a man meant having courage, but courage doesn’t come from dominating others; it comes from dominating one’s own fear in any circumstance, regardless of how frightening it may be. For me, the fear of being wrong had created a sense of being unwanted. When I sit in circle with other men, I feel a sense of belonging to something larger than myself, even larger than my ego.
With all that I’ve learned over the years, I reached a place of compassion for my father, even if I never fully understood his motivations. I no longer felt a need to know why he did what he did as I came to accept, acknowledge and admire the man for whom he was. My projections onto him, both “godlike” and “fiendish,” were dismantled and laid to rest. This process brought me the peace I’d sought for more than thirty years.
My dream is that this new model of mentoring through compassion and understanding one day will no longer be new, so raising children through fear and domination will be the distant, forgotten nightmare.

michaelmarlin Michael Marlin, the son of teachers, has been a circus elephant groom, world class juggler, community founder, inventor of a patented lasso toy, author and illustrator of The Contemplative Navel, tree house dweller, photo-journalist, performance artist and the creator of the world’s first human light show, LUMA.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. – too.