I come from a long line of unemotional, uncomfortable and non-relating people. We lack communication and understanding and the need for one another. I use to think that this was just a normal way to live. That every one was similar in actions. It has been a long journey and some very deep soul-searching to find my way out of the blackness of that abyss. And I am not sure I am quite free from it yet or if I ever will be.

I never knew either one of my grandfathers, My grandfather on my dad’s side of the family left before I was born. I remember once when I was very little I was with my parents in a grocery store parking lot and my dad became more quiet than usual. When I ask my mother what was wrong she told me that my dad had just seen his father, they had walked right by each other without saying a word. That was as close as I had ever come to meeting him. My grandmother married another man soon after the divorce. That man adopted my father thus changing his name and of course that of his future children. His step father and his mother had another son who quickly took up most his mother’s attention. The step father left soon after without me ever knowing him either, even though I bear his last name, as do my children I will never know anything about this man. I always had a hard time understanding how a man could just walk away from his family. Not caring about his own blood. But it happened on both sides so I just figured it was what men did. They left.


My dad’s mother had a lot of mental issues. She was frequently depress and quickly angered. When she married her third husband it was under the agreement that there would be no sex what so ever. It was something she had no interest in. He agreed and they had separate bedrooms when they moved in together. But after a few months she decided that she did what sexual relations with him but he never came around. This caused a whole series of fights and arguments and resentments. The Summers I spent with them were always very strange. She was very abusive to my father when he was young, locking him in a closet for long periods of time. Sending him to bed without eating, telling him he was nothing and that he was just like his father. She told him that he was the reason his father took off and also the reason his step father has left. Her third husband was always known to me as my uncle. He was a good man, very nice and kind. He always took time out to talk to me and help to build model airplanes and fly kites. My grandmother seldom spoke to anyone. When she did she was usually fighting with my uncle.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was also gone long before I was born. I did meet him on two occasions. Once when I was five and again when I was in my early twenties. He seemed like a very nice man even though I was told he wasn’t. He married his second wife who according to my mother hated the family and refused to let us visit. Again not sure what kind of man would just walk away from his family. I later learned that it was the family’s choice not to see him. But that means nothing to a young boy with no sense of who his family is. My grandmother would marry again to a man who I would also call uncle. I never stayed anytime Summers at their house. I only saw them at family get together’s which were far and in-between. She never talked about my grandfather to me.


My father was always distant. The only time he was ever actually there was when he had you bent over the end of the bed giving you the round end of a strap. He never held an actual conversation with me ever. He was a religious man and that seemed to be his only interest. I tried talking to him, but his answers were always very quick and short or he would tell me to talk to my mother. Punishments started at the end of a paddle or belt and ended with a house restriction, some of the restrictions lasted months. Arguments in my house were always kept behind close doors. Emotions were controlled and suppressed. My father was not a social man, I can’t recall a single one of his friends. His own brother lived just minutes away and still we seldom visited. Our entire family lived no more than an hour away and still our visits were limited to church gatherings and deaths. Birthday celebrations were creations of the evil world and therefore forbidden. Yet something so simple and could have brought a family more together. Celebrating the life of a child makes that child know how much he is loved. You can preach that they should be shown it every day but let’s be honest, they don’t. Not in the same way an entire day just for them makes them feel. But the religion my family grew up in was never what one would call kid friendly. It fed of my father’s cold exterior.

My mother at one time I believe was more open with her feelings but the marriage hindered any kind of reaction. By the time I was in my teens my mother had lost interest in me all together and my father and I never spoke. I have three siblings. Two sisters and a brother. My brother left home in his teens and as much as I would try to build some kind of relationship with him he would disappear from all of our lives soon after and we would never see or hear from him again. My parents got a phone call one afternoon from the police in San Diego telling them that they found their son’s body washed up on the shore. They wouldn’t take the time to drive down to identify the body. It was too much of a hassle. They would never even call me to see if I had heard anything.


My sisters both were married right out of high school. We would eventually move to the furthermost ends of the country and carry on a relationship only through texts and the occasional phone call. Always initiated by me. Once I left home at the age of 15 neither one of my parents ever called to see how I was doing, neither one cared. Nor would my sisters. When my grandmothers and my parents passed away I never went to the funerals. We were nothing more than strangers by then. Just as that body that washed up on the beach, my family just doesn’t want to be bothered.

When I was in my early twenties and very lost in my ideals, I met a woman who was a lot like I was. We married and had a child. I was in a lot of legal hot water over my actions caused by my drug use. I knew if I was to give my son any kind of life I had to pay my debts to society and clean myself up. I went to jail for a long time and when I got out the only job I could find was offered by a friend in Maine. My wife had moved on and in with another man while I was on the inside and I was once again drowning in the abyss. I tried contacting her but she had moved and her family would not tell me where. She passed away shortly after I started work on the East coast. No one ever bothered to call me. My parents were asked to take temporary custody of my son while the courts tried to locate me, they refused. I would never see or speak to my son again.
I tried a couple of times to reach out to him, but even for a new generation in this blood line, he can’t be bothered. He reminds me of my father a lot. Spitting image in a mirrors reflection.


I did know my great grand father for a short period in my life. I would spend time with him after school while my parents worked and my siblings had full school schedules. He was a very loving and kind man. He often hugged me and told me he loved me. The last memory I have of him was the day after his funeral. The aunts and uncles got together and tore his house to shreds. Arguing and fighting over who got what. I sat up in the tree in his front yard crying as they yelled and screamed over a box of tools and some old dishes.

So fast forward to my present life. Married with four children. Life is pretty good these days. I still struggle to communicate. I am quiet at work and have a hard time being comfortable around people. I find myself forcing conversations. Even with my own son I find myself wanting to say so much but just not being able to present my feeling into words. It’s easier with my daughters, they sit next to me on the couch and grab my arm and put it around them. They demand my attention. They are great communicators. I hope they never lose that and I hope my son can find it.

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I hope that in the next life, whatever it may be, I will be a different man. I hope that in this life my children grow up not to be like me. Life is learned. Patterns in character are handed down. What we learn in our childhood sticks with us our entire lives. My father never escaped that closet he was locked inside of, and he raised his children inside of it as well. He used it to shut us all out and in return put us all into our own emotional prisons. I am sure he didn’t start this life unfelt, it’s generations old. But it has to end somehow, with someone. Or we’re doomed in the solitude of a bloodline lost and a family name that was never ours.



About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
This entry was posted in Enlightenment, Life experience. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A LIFE UNFELT

  1. Relysh13 says:

    Thank you for sharing this. You truly can be the one to break the cycle. Your children won’t have to grow up to write articles about their unfeeling father.


  2. TRUTH: Life is learned. Patterns in character are handed down.
    NOT TRUTH: What we learn in our childhood sticks with us our entire lives.

    WHY? Because in many ways my dear friend my story resembles yours. Except that I was excessively beaten while pregnant with my first child, I died of complications from that birth and found myself looking down at my dead self wanting to live. I had a baby girl in a mothers arms who sold me off to her friend when I was 14. In those 3 small moments of death, I made my mind up to undo all the programming of my first 16 years. It hasn’t been easy. But it has for the most part been successful. I still carry the intrinsic goodness that one never ever loses. I AM NOT THAT GIRL, she is dead. I don’t live there anymore, neither do you, neither will your children so long as you love them. Love them so much it hurts, and all other things will unfold exactly how the universe wants it to. Love is the key to change and healing. I loved a baby girl I gave birth to when I was 15, she is why I am a new me. She and my sheer will and determination (just as yours) to do differently than was done to me.

    This was such a beautiful share Paul. I thank you with all my heart for showing what is inside your mind. How you feel by your previous life experiences. You seem to have learned from them so well, now let them go and start your new line of “the hopeful and happy”.



    • paulsdahlman says:

      Yes my friend. Life for me is much better these days. I still struggle with people I don’t know very well. But with my family and close friends I am a different person than I use to be. I think for most people social characteristics are developed in their youth. It takes extreme conditions to alter that and you certainly have had a few of those. You made it through however and reconstructed yourself. I admire that deeply.


  3. Mari says:

    I identify with so much of your story. I wish I still had my old blog up so that I could share with you some of my experiences. I’ve felt disconnected from “family” too and to some extent, I still do. Which is what’s compelled me to do for my children most of what I felt my own parents lacked doing for my siblings and me. All isn’t lost. As long as we are living things can change. I don’t know your beliefs but I hope that you give yourself a chance to have a little faith in that things do change in unimaginable ways, sometimes. I enjoyed reading your post.



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