What has helped me (Sam)
“The help of others”….their support, understanding, a shoulder to lean on and the ability to just listen without judgement, is and has always been instrumental to my wellbeing and psychological state. This stuff is not always in front of your eyes but on those rare occasions when it happens or I witness it, I am always surprised and genuinely moved. And I consider myself extremely fortunate to have a loving partner, she is always compassionate and adores me and reminds me that I am a decent man (still beyond me at times).
‘The human heart can see what is hidden to the eyes, and the heart knows things that the mind does not begin to understand’, – Philosophical saying.
Women’s perspectives › Broken Men
I’ve been watching the What Makes a Man DVD all day. They are all very good but I particularly like the Brendan Fletcher segment. Something that really struck a chord with me was the term ‘broken men’. I don’t even recall who used this term. As a social worker of 30 years standing I have met many, many broken men (and women of course). I also meet many broken men in my own life, including my partner who is himself the wounded son of a broken man. He is also struggling with his mental health because of the brutality and sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of the Marist Brothers in Parramatta, NSW in the 1960s and 70s. I feel for him desperately but I have also had to take on the role of being a carer for him which has impacted significantly on the quality of my own life. I bet there are many women out there who are in the same position.
As these men age and become frail they need care themselves. I know many women and men of my age who are thrust into the role of being full-time carers of their own fathers who were abusive to their children (due to their own history of abuse) or partners who are distant and possibly abusive due to their history of relationships with broken men (and broken women). The older generation are very unlikely to seek help but I hope projects such as this one can encourage the younger generation to find the support they need to break the link between broken fathers and wounded sons. This DVD should be compulsory viewing for teenagers of both genders – of course with the support of caring teachers or school support staff. I’d like to think that the systemic and personal abuse suffered by my partner is something that doesn’t happen any more but I know from my work role that this is probably a fantasy. In fact, young men (and women) are increasingly locked out of employment roles that provide an opportunity for them to contribute their skills and capacities to families and the broader community due to the degradation caused by economic and political factors.
I really appreciate the effort that this project has taken to identify the issues discussed in this DVD.
Men’s groups › Why men need men’s groups (Leonard)
I attended my first men’s group in Sydney back in 1984. That experience proved such a life-changing event that I have been involved in men’s work ever since. I have found, and continue to experience, tremendous strength in men’s groups. Growing up, I was taught to keep my feelings to myself, especially sadness and pain, so to be connected to a group of understanding men who hold space for one another to share thoughts and feelings is truly a sacred experience. I never have to be alone when I face problems about health, relationships, children, careers, or anything that matters. The old way of manhood was to tough it out and handle problems alone. We’re meant to be connect to counsels of men.
As a psychotherapist, I lead groups for men and run workshops on a range of topics about masculinity: establishing male friendships; walking the path of the hero; connecting with the male spirit; and becoming the fathers we desperately wanted. Each group experience teaches me more about myself. In the process, I have gained humility and wisdom, acceptance and love.
I’d love to open a dialogue about other experiences in men’s groups.
I am a passionate advocate for Men’s Groups, and personally support men around the world to create and sustain Men’s Groups. Check out http://www.mensgroup.info and let me know your thoughts.
Thanks Leonard and Brett,
I, too, was facilitating mixed groups in the early 80s (mostly women attended) when men asked me to do men’s groups. They knew there were ‘men’s groups’ at the pub, golf course & footy ground but they wanted to have an opportunity to talk aobut being dads, married, separated and a place to share feelings. I still run the occasional group.
Things that matter › Mentors, Guardians and Friendship. (Sam)
My uncle passed away six years ago and is still sorely missed by me (he was also my friend, mentor and guardian).
He once said to me about friendship (and he repeated this often to me over time), ‘your friends are a reflection of you and your character and not by valuing them alongside wealth, status, politics, ego, religion or measuring yourself against them…..no, he would say, absolutely not……a friend is a rare human being in one’s life, they are to be cherished, as if you are caring and responsible for someone’s young child. For true friendship is constant and without prejudicial boundaries, generous in spirit, carries a compassionate heart and lives in our minds alongside the endless thoughts we have….because you, my dear friendship…..always will have a place to belong amongst those many thoughts I carry’.
And then he would say this to me….
‘And also remember this Sam….there is no specific process or finish line with friendship, the relationship is an ongoing and unfulfilled duty, even after you are gone. For friendship is also a series of endless lessons for each other and like education it never ends’.
My uncle was the only immediate family male member I had growing up from boyhood into an adult. He was a difficult man at times (under the constant strain of looking after me) and wasn’t very easy to live with (replacing my father and being my guardian), but he did provide me with solid, honest and good advice about friendship, generosity, compassion, sincerity and being a decent person in society…..much more then my father ever did and still today I haven’t met anyone as giving (as my uncle was), with this sort of precious and valuable advice….something we all should have as human beings, men and hopefully someday as good mentors in our community (to pass on).
Your description of how your uncle related to you encapsulates the essence of what relationships are about in my view. Your mention of ‘being a difficult man at times… and wasn’t easy to live with’ resonates strong with me. Of the many conversations I have had with young people who had previously been involved in the criminal justice system and in their words ‘have made it’, I would consistently hear in answer to my question [What do you think made the greatest difference?], ‘someone believed in me.” Often that someone was not the easiest person but invariably this person was at all times, fair and respectful. Words such as tough, hard and challenging were mentioned in the same breath. This person, in your case your uncle, allowed you to feel okay about who you are. Nothing else matters.
Brene’ Brown suggests that those who ‘manage life’ just accept that they are vulnerable human beings, but still worth loving. You might enjoy looking at her You Tube video – google Brene’ Brown TED.
thanks for you story.
Being a New Dad
First and foremost , the adventure of “being a new dad” is a new and all powerful sense of focus and love.
It has left me with less time and energy to entertain the “little stuff” but also more time to consider and put into action the bigger stuff like what kind of man am I going to be for my son.