Hey, my name is Ryan and together with my daughter, I wrote a book called Big Bad Dad.

“Be brave, don’t show weakness, don’t show fear, don’t be so sensitive! Why are you crying?”

Those are a few statements I have heard so many times through my life.

It was statements like that throughout my childhood from peers all the way through my adult life that made me feel like there was always something wrong with me. I had it pushed into my brain that it was a bad thing to show emotions or sensitivities. I never knew how to deal with my emotions when they came up, I never had the tools or the ability to sit in the moment and understand what I felt and why.

So I would often run and not face them and hurt myself to feel something else.

My whole life  I have been told by so many people that I am too sensitive…. and it wasn’t until a couple years ago I learned that what I thought was my biggest weakness at the time, turned out to be my greatest strength.

I struggled my whole life with running away from feeling anything.

I never let anybody see behind the curtains or see the times I would be home alone with my face in a pillow crying for unknown reasons. I often looked at myself as pathetic, a wimp, and lost. So through my teenage years, I developed the only coping mechanism I knew and I turned to self-harm via drugs and alcohol. I figured if I numbed myself, I wouldn’t have to feel any of the emotions I had inside and became a person people feared so they would see how strong I was even though I was still broken on the inside.

I lived my whole life this way up until a handful of years ago when it was time for me to face it and learn how to love myself and become who I really was. I found myself at my rock bottom and I did the work and I asked for help, for the first time in my life I turned to others to help lift me up and there were so many people ready to do so. Through speaking with others and learning about myself, I began to love myself and understand who I was and realize there was nothing wrong with me. I learned that the way I feel and what I feel from others around me is one of my greatest strengths, my compassion and empathy make me a better father and a better person.

I have learned to sit in my moments of intense feelings, understand them and take a lesson and not dwell on them and live in the past. This is all because I finally reached out and grabbed a hand when it was offered.

Amazing things do happen when we reach out. A few months ago, we had a book published called Big Bad Dad, it was a book about breaking down stereotypes and a father that looks macho and tough on the outside who is actually very sensitive and playful on the inside. So I put my insecurities aside, my embarrassment of what others think, and my lifelong struggle with fear of being the center of attention. I decided that for something great to happen, I had to take a jump, and lead by example for my daughter so I put on a princess dress and her and I sat in the middle of a busy bookstore and stood behind our accomplishment together.

If it wasn’t for that moment of facing every fear I had this amazing opportunity with her would not have happened.

I sit here and realize that I wouldn’t have had the amazing experiences that I have had with my daughter if I wasn’t so sensitive, and my greatest hope is that as she grows she will see that we are able to face fear and we are able to take any of our weaknesses and turn them into strengths because she is built exactly like me. She feels everything around her, and everybody’s energy, she loves everybody in her life with all of her heart and she always puts herself out there completely.

So my biggest lesson with her, and my reason for doing this and exposing who I was is to use your voice and talk… it is okay to ask for help because many people are where you are. If there is one thing I can say to people that are hurting and feel like there’s nowhere else to go is just speak it; whether it’s to a friend or even a stranger, just take the pain that’s on the chest and speak it. And through this process believe that there will be ups and downs but there are so many amazing things in this life to come.

It took me many years to get to where I am and I always tell myself that it’s about progress, not perfection.

Ryan