All men are bastards

I hear time and time again on the Twitter that all men are bastards, typically from women who have had a hard time with one bloke or another.

As a single guy I know one singular truth: There is little less attractive than negativity. If you expect I am going to treat you badly, if you decide that no matter who you choose to chance your arm on the result will be heartache, if you write off my goodness due to your negative experiences, I’m probably not going to:

1) Ask you out, or;
2) Spend time with you, or;
3) Treat you particularly well.

There are no perfect men. So get that idea out of your head. Men make mistakes A LOT because we don’t understand what goes on in your head. But, NEWS FLASH, there are no perfect women either.

And I think that is maybe the difference between men and women. Men understand that their woman will be flawed. She will have bad habits. She might be a little bit neurotic or needy. She won’t have a perfect body. She might be carrying a few extra pounds and she might get angry or upset about a little thing. We expect and accept this. And we work through the bad points because the good points are in there for the patient man to find.

Women, a lot of women, expect their man to be a mind reader and to be the absolute perfect man. We will do things that will hurt you, not out of spite but out of clumsiness. We’re basic creatures and we sometimes struggle to grasp the complexities of womankind. Don’t hate us for this. And don’t think it’s intentional, because it probably isn’t.

Accept that we get things wrong more that we get things right, and show patience and understanding for our simple minds. Not all men are bastards, and if you go on like we are it’s a huge turn off. We abhor negativity. Don’t expect a man to stick around, or even approach you in the first place, if you’re already labeling him as a bastard.

We don’t like it. And we won’t like you.

A nice day for a white wedding?

My brother gets married in August this year. Invitations have been sent. My mailbox is conspicuously light. I’m not invited. This probably should bother me more than it does. It’s a significant life event. Of the four brothers he has I’ll be the only one absent. He’s making a commitment to someone and I’ll not be present to witness it.

I should probably care more than I do – I do care a little bit – I’m sad that it has gone this way, but I cannot stand by and witness him marrying a woman who made him choose between her and his son. I cannot stand by and wish him ‘all the best’ when I know that an innocent little boy doesn’t see his dad because he chose a woman over his boy. After all we have been through.

I can’t be a party to this decision. I think it is wrong on so many levels. Am I to go and celebrate this happy union knowing that history is repeating itself? Am I to go tell them both how pleased I am for them? That I wish them every happiness? I am many things but I am not false. I can’t pretend to support this.

I do wish him well. I wish him the very best of luck because I think he needs it. The woman he is marrying is a harpy and she won’t be satisfied until she has her claws in him permanently.

 

Forgiveness

“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”

Sometimes words are easy to say but the message, the advice, behind them is difficult to take. I saw these words and they were immediately relevant, instantly important. I have a lot to move on from. I have a lot to move on for. There is a future out there waiting for me to step into but I am anchored in the very recent past.

Try as I might I have yet to be able to shrug off the awful things which people did to me and to others. But it’s necessary for me to be able to move on. Because, you see, hate is baggage, and carrying around hate for people – well hate is a strong word, but carrying around this negativity isn’t good for the soul.

So here goes, forgiveness.

I forgive you for the terrible way you treated her at the end. You meddled and you plotted and you schemed and you made her desperately unhappy. Then you climbed on the grief-train and wallowed. Despite your incredible selfishness, I know you feel guilt, and I know that in your own way you are sorry for what you did. I forgive you.

I forgive you too, for the way you treated her. All she wanted was to be free to live her life without your spiteful jealousy. She never, ever, would, but I forgive you.

I forgive you for the way you treated me and my brother. I asked you what you would do differently and you said you would do exactly the same. Despite your arrogance, I forgive you.

I forgive you for your efforts to deny a son his father. You realised your mistake. You realised the fight you faced. You never apologised. But I forgive you.

And I forgive you, oh brother of mine. On behalf of your child who cannot forgive you himself, and who doesn’t even recall who you are and what you look like, I forgive you.

It’s time for me to move on. I cannot dwell on the past. I cannot allow the petty behaviour of people to keep me down. I’m going to make an effort to allow transgressions against me and against the people I care about to be forgiven. Because, unless you can do something about them, you just gotta forgive them.

Who are you going to forgive?

Twitter isn’t real

Twitter, despite what you may think, is not real life. It’s a medium for communication – in tiny meaningless chunks – with little or no substance. Time and again I see fallings out and bitching, and the odd self-styled messiah with his sycophantic imbeciles hanging on every word.

People take these 140char bursts of communication to heart. They use them as barbs to attack and harass others. They take what people say on the internet seriously.

Time and again I see people raging over some imagined slight on Twitter and I’m aghast at how personal people take such things. Unlike real life Twitter has handy tools. Two of the most important are as follows:

  • UNFOLLOW
  • BLOCK

If someone is giving you a hard time, or if someone is talking trash about you, AND YOU DON’T LIKE IT, use the handily available tools and remove those people from your (virtual) life.

I do sometimes wish that real life had those buttons. It’d make life so much easier if you could just erase someone’s ability to harm you with the click of a button.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: Twitter is a meaningless yet useful tool for communication. Don’t take it so seriously and you might get out alive.

Fatherhood III

What I am going to tell you now is what got me thinking about being a dad, having a dad, and the important relationship between father and son in the first place. Parts one and two are intended to give an idea of where we came from, what we experienced, and why this situation just does not sit right with me.

I am no longer speaking to my brother. I cannot bring myself to speak to him. He’s getting married in August and I have no intention of being there. Harsh? Maybe. Will I regret it? That’s possible. Do I feel like I have a choice? No, certainly not.

I discussed previously what happened when me and my brother were younger. I was 13, he 11 when our dad decided to abandon us. This decision by him, that we innocent children had no influence over, has affected both of our lives. How could it not? There was nothing positive that came out of what he did. We have both suffered from his selfishness. We continue to suffer, perhaps in different ways.

Later in life Tom’s mum tried to stop me from seeing him and I fought as I should be expected to do against that. He’s my son, and he needs me in his life. No one is going to stop me from seeing my son. Knowing from personal experience just how detrimental it can be for a child to not have a father I was not prepared to put Tom through that. My brother had that same personal experience.

Years later my brother met a girl. They split up, he met another girl who quickly fell pregnant. He then rekindled his relationship with the first girl who knew about the pregnancy. The baby was born and girlfriend, who had become fiancée by then, made her feelings very well known. She hated that child. She hated everything about him. He was such a beautiful happy little boy too, yet she hated the very air that he breathed.

Eventually things got so bad that fiancée stopped brother from seeing his child.

If someone told me that I could not see Tom they would be cast aside before the words had left their mouth. Him? No, he accepted it. Accepted that this awful woman would not allow him to see his own child. Despite what we went through. Despite the fact that we didn’t see our dad. Words cannot describe how angry I am with him.

Last year this beautiful little boy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Has ever a boy needed his daddy more…?

A man who chooses a woman over his child is no man and is no brother of mine. Not when such a man can claim to have experienced, first hand, such action taken against him when he was a child.

Fatherhood II

In 1990 I was thirteen years old. An awkward teen with a younger brother, living with my mum and her new partner in Grimsby. I was never very happy. I resented the new man in my mums life. I idolised my Sgt Major dad. He was living in Germany or Belgium, had been living in Canada, and despite the distance was never far from my thoughts. My dad had remarried a German woman and I had a second brother, Josef. I never saw dad very often. He was a whole other country away, but he would write to me and in the summer we would go see him in whichever country he was currently making his home.

Thirteen year old me received a letter in 1990 from my dad. In it he explained that he would not longer have anything more to do with us whilst we lived with my mum. I’ve asked mum about this letter. All I remember is my gran coming over with the letter (he didn’t trust mum to give it to us) and me being sat in a wicker backed chair. I don’t remember the words. I don’t remember the tone. I don’t remember anything about the letter other than the core message; Alan, you will never see your dad again. He has decided he no longer wants you. You are rejected. You. Are. Alone.

And I had never felt so alone. My sour relationship with my stepdad meant that door was closed to me. My mum, I’m sure, saw this as validation of her opinion of the man. I couldn’t talk about it. What thirteen year old boy in the early nineties could discuss how he was feeling? Instead I internalised those feelings of loss. I withdrew. I had put all my eggs in one basket. It didn’t matter about my mum, about my brother, about school, friends, anything. I had my dad. It took me a long time to come to terms with just how central he was to my existence.

And then suddenly, he was gone. He made the conscious decision to abandon me. To reject me.

And for that reason I avoided emotional connections for a long time. I still do. If you don’t connect you can’t be hurt. If you don’t give yourself to someone they cannot reject you. I didn’t realise I was doing it, being cold, keeping people at arms length, but when I look back over the last twenty-five years I know that is exactly what I did.

What my dad did to me had an impact which has lasted twenty-five years and may last twenty-five more.

In part one I discussed how Tom’s mum made a decision to stop me seeing him. And how I refused to accept that decision, how I fought against it. Always in my mind as I went through that awful experience was the long term effects upon my son if he didn’t have his dad in his life. Having experienced first hand just how terrible that is, there is no way I was going to allow Thomas to suffer the same.

Fatherhood I

One of the most frustrating, rewarding, humbling, enlightening, difficult, joyful jobs any man can do. Being a dad is probably the most defining element of my existence. Suddenly, ill equipped to deal with life’s dramas and struggling to look after yourself, someone else is thrust upon you.

In 2007 I became a father to Thomas. Things have not been all sweetness and roses. Things have been difficult, painful, hurtful. I’ve tried to do my absolute best but I’m always wracked by the feelings that my best is just not good enough. I’m no longer with Tom’s mum. It was just entirely natural to assume when we split that he would live with his mum and I would see him when I could. A part-time dad, a weekend dad, absent father, call it what you will. I went from having each and every day Thomas to seeing him twice a week. He really struggled with it too. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him. People talk about the resilience of children, but this was all he had known and then, through no fault of his own, through no choice of his, due to someone else’s actions, someone else’s words, another’s decision, he – just like that – loses full time access to his dad.

I struggled. Christ I did. I remember coming home from seeing Tom after I first moved out and being torn by such an extreme sadness. A despair like which I hadn’t ever felt before and wouldn’t feel again for some odd years. It’s grief, quite simply. It’s a loss. Of a life, of an opportunity to be the best kind of influence. You go from steering the life of your boy to being a casual observer as others do that for you. You go from being able to guide and nurture to being a spectator. The person who means the absolute world to you and suddenly because of a relationship breaking down you’re shut out.

Its funny, because you try to then get on with your life now that you’re a part-time dad. You have time to kill and a void to fill. You do this through other interests, new relationships, moving on, living your own life. From time to time you drop back into the life of your child. I remember feelings of such guilt seeing Thomas after a week, or even just a few days and knowing that I had moved on with my own existence. I had accepted that he was now a facet of my life, no longer the focus.

I remember speaking to Tom about something, I can’t remember the details, but I’d said to him, “but we don’t live together anymore.” To which he replied, “Yes but you live in my heart and I live in your heart.” I was stunned into silence. What do you say to something like that? The kid is five and he grasped the very fabric of our relationship on a level which this bumbling old fool could not? It makes me happy-sad to think back to it. Even after three years. It’s one of the things I will always remember. A snapshot in time where I realised just how incredible my boy was.

In 2012 Tom’s mum stopped me from seeing him. She pulled the plug and just like that I was no longer allowed to see my boy. I remember it keenly. Sadly I think Tom does too. At some point he is going to have questions about that period – that thankfully short period – of our lives. It was mere months before common sense prevailed but it was damaging. I remember hearing something said along the lines of [to Tom’s mum], “if you stop him seeing Tom he won’t fight it, he will just accept it”. For reasons I will come onto in Fatherhood II that was never going to happen. When I was thirteen my dad stopped seeing me. And, that decision made by him without any thought of me, was the defining point in my life. It has affected everything I have done since. It turned me into someone uncomfortable with emotion. Someone uncomfortable with showing feelings or form relationships. If you don’t feel you can’t be hurt, right? I guess that what happened to me twenty five years ago was, in some respects, the catalyst for what happened in 2012. Recalling the damage which was done to me by my dad I was not prepared to visit that some trauma upon my son. It’s time to break the cycle. I don’t want Thomas to suffer as I have and, in turn, visit that suffering upon his children.

In the end all you can do is try your hardest and hope for the best. Hope that no matter how much you fuck it up things’ll work out okay in the end. Hope that your child will grow and develop and be more than you could hope for him to be. You have to just keep your fingers crossed that despite the unintentional emotional damage you do, things are gonna be alright.

My Blog

I wanted some place to write stuff down which overruns the 140 character Twitter limit. This is it. I’ll try and keep things interesting and short enough to hold your attention. I’ll always appreciate any comments from anyone who happens to drop by.