The hidden cost of pride

They say that stubborn pride is the longest distance between two people. In the case of my childhood, my father and finance, pride hijacked all three.

My grandfather was so damn stubborn. As his grandchild I never saw that side. All his grandchildren ever saw was his goofy sense of humor, hugs, playing marbles and yahtzee and cracking jokes non-stop. He was ridiculously silly when we were around. Grandkids allowed him to be who he most likely really wanted to be and was deep down in is heart. I got to see the unfettered version of a very loving, caring and funny man. Now that I think about it, it probably was how he ultimately wished he could’ve been as a father.

In his career, his work, his marriage and as a father, he was one of those guys that was always viewed as having his shit more together than “anyone else you’ve ever met,” yet in his personal life with regards to his own immediate family, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Of course he loved his wife and kids dearly and he made sure they had the fundamentals covered – food, shelter, etc. – but his stubbornness hurt his loved ones more than he would ever let down his guard enough to know. To him, like most men in his generation, emotional vulnerability was nothing short of unacceptable weakness. There was only one way to do everything, and it was the way of the hard ass. My grandfather was on a constant quest to get approval for his existence from his own emotionally abusive parents and never got a chance to realize it so he projected that on to his own children….my father and his brother. How could my dad and uncle ever win in that situation as kids?

This stubborn pride, those family remnants, carried over to my dad with a vengeance, but this round was distorted and twisted up inside an extreme creative who was riddled with inner turmoil and war-torn PTSD from Vietnam. This lit a voracious forest fire under his addictive tendencies (alcohol, opiates, cigarettes), which he would ultimately slowly and painfully succumb to in January of 2020.

This made my father such a complex person to deal with. My sweet, creative, empathetic, highly intelligent dad carried a burden of shame, guilt and lack of self-worth unlike anyone else I had ever known and it’s all because of his relationship with his own father….following in the footsteps as they say.

Because my dad was constantly shamed by his dad his entire life for just being his creative self, the parental toolbox my dad was given was so beat up and broken and rusty with hardly anything useful inside of it. When it was time for my dad to exercise his ability to parent two emotional and sensitive boys (my brother and I), he had no tools to do it….couple that with wartime-infused PTSD and my brother and I didn’t have a chance in hell at feeling good about ourselves from the get-go.


This insatiable pride my dad had, he carried it right into the handling of his career and how he ran his finances. We were always cash poor. Always. He had hated working for other people at someone else’s company. He hated being told what to do because he was more often than not way more intelligent and creative than his bosses and his pride would not let him put up with that shit.

The problem with this is that while he chose the path of working for himself, he was horrible at marketing his own talent and creative work. Why? He had no self-esteem and too much insecurity, thinly veiled as pride.

The economics of our household were terrible. You could cut the air with a knife if my dad couldn’t find work, (which was often). My childhood was full of tension, unhappiness, stress and my dad was a constant ticking time bomb of sometimes maniacal anxiety any time money was discussed. You NEVER brought it up at the dinner table. If you did, you’d get put on blast about how hard he works, how we are disrespecting him and how much we all need to appreciate what we have…which in principle I agree with, but in approach, it alienated all of us kids and cemented in us that money should be associated with misery, stress and our own worthlessness or ability to ever have any of it.

This was our foundation for finance growing up.


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