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Three questions. How can I be a father until I feel like I’ve become a man? How can I become a man until I finally leave the boy behind? And, inevitably, how do I leave the boy behind without understanding where he came from?

I want to become a father. I ought to be able to say I’ve become a man, by now. I feel as though I shouldn’t have such a problem with the boy behind me. I’ve been sifting through these memories in hope of finding an answer, perhaps, but I was always aware that there isn’t a single easy answer, and that finding any answers wouldn’t alleviate everything overnight.

I’ve uncovered a huge amount of repression and doubt, but knowing that or releasing that hasn’t turned around all of the damage it had done. In fact to some level I feel more vulnerable to something happening and influencing me right now, after exorcising so much guilt and baggage, as if that stuff was so thickly laid it protected me from any new ‘issues’.

Getting married has given me a shield, a strength which came out terrifically on the day itself, and I have found myself rolling my ring while making conscious decisions that I might not have made before, but that highlights the major deal – nothing is going to change or improve unless I do something about it.

Uncovering these feelings or deeply buried frustrations is clearing out the debris of a confusing, misunderstood and bewildered growing up, it’s making it easier to think about it and hopefully easier to straighten it all out in my head, but it’s not the end.

Retrawling the memories is how I understand the boy, but becoming a man is down to me putting that understanding to use. The boy is the past, the man is right now, the decisions and the actions I take now, and I can’t become a man by expecting the solution or the feeling or the confidence to leap out of an exploration into my past.

The man is now, I have all the power right at my fingertips to be the man I can be right now. The father is the future. And the sooner I take those opportunities and make use of the strength I’ve found in my own understanding, the sooner I can be ready to call myself a father.

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About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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