ManWeek #4: Another Word for Father

I found a small urn today
   it held the conversations which
for you
   fell from my mouth like riddles

The story of my disappointment carries the
   weight of broken doors
and YOU?
   You wait on the other side
All conflict aside
   All affection left at the doorstep
Was that what it WAS all for?

You were never there, never there
   I searched for a tract, for even the smell
of where you had been
   Finding instead
      the anger in me in me

I have never shown this poem to anyone else. It was written 12 or more years ago, but its fury still takes my breath. I am only sharing it with you because of the astounding bravery of others who have written so eloquently during ManWeek. In fact, it was Age Conte’s post this morning that tipped me over the edge.

Obviously the relationship with my father is nothing like what I have read in the posts of others this week. In fact, it is non-existent. We have not spoken for a decade – and I can honestly say, now, that I am not bitter about this. In fact, it was a conscious decision on my part.

And while we often hear about the importance of fathers and the often difficult relationship that men have with their dads, I can also tell you that they do not define the person you become (unless you allow it to). Now I am not saying that my own father was a bad man – but perhaps he was just a man, with all the attendant weaknesses, honours, fears and hopes that we are all prone to. Perhaps he wasn’t the father that I wanted, but like Age, in my dad I did learn “everything about what my journey to manhood has to involve”.

And this is the point. It is MY journey. No one can do this for me. No one can take away the pain or embarrassment or own the joy and excitement that comes our way. The best we can do is the best that we can do. And the worst we must learn to live with – and maybe, just maybe, forgive.

Participating in ManWeek has been both confronting and humbling. It is far harder to do than you might imagine. And while this #ManWeek campaign appears to be an echo chamber, think for a moment about what you can do to change that situation – how you can extend or continue the conversation, open it to those men who need to hear/read these stories. And if you want inspiration, check Mark Pollard’s site for a list of great posts. Check also Harry O’Brien’s article.

But at the end of the day, if any of this has helped just one person, then that is reward enough.

2 thoughts on “ManWeek #4: Another Word for Father

  1. Very moving. My biological father still doesnt know I exist. My family knows, and knows to keep it from him him. For. The rest is my decision. You’re far braver than I, as I’m still unable to articulate this.

  2. Gavin, very honest post.
    I think we share a similar sentiment; in all the good and even bad parts, we see ways to make better people of ourselves – like a warning sign we can always sense check against. The best part is (like you said) is that YOU are always in control of it.
    Cheers for the kind words too.

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