Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Rite of Passage

I've been with my girlfriend now for about 18 months. So much has happened it seems a lifetime. Not in a bad way. Time has not dragged, but I have the unshakable notion that so many events cannot happen and so much love and trust cannot be accrued in such a short time.

Before this relationship I was something of a bachelor. I was a 31 year old self employed martial artist. I wasn't badly behaved but my life was very different. Thinking back, I was lost. 

I did not dislike being single. In fact I believe strongly that until you have found the right person you should choose to be single, and bloody well enjoy yourself. Entering a relationship and dogmatically, blindly holding onto it even if it doesn't work is not the way forward.

"Easy for you to say Med. Mr 'When you know, you just know!'"

Not so actually. While for the most part I enjoyed being single, there were times that could only be described as crises.The culmination of loneliness, fear of said loneliness, futile attempts at success in career and love, unstable home-life, poor living conditions and irrational existential episodes brought about a short to medium length period of my life that I do not wish to repeat. 

People mock the 'mid-life crisis' quite a lot. They see older fellas in fast cars and think "criiiiisiiiiis". I was guilty of this once or twice myself. But if these events are anything like I experienced then a) They are not funny and b) All power to them.

I have no stats, but I think men in general do not take care of their mental health very well. Our standard response to poor mental health is booze or mockery. When faced with this crisis though, I needed to take more drastic action. Yet at no stage did it occur to me that I should go to the quack, which I have paid for with my taxes. 

Instead I researched self help, motivation and positivity. Usually I can't hack very much of this generally american dominated industry. But I did what I recommend any of you do should you be in need of a little help in this way. Research a buttload of it. Listen to as much as you can stomach and take action straight away to turn your brain around.

I digress; the original motion for this post was to talk a little about what it's like to be a new dad with a ten year old.

In a lot of ways that I didn't expect, the boy 'found' me. If I was lost, he was definitely key to navigating my way back to the right path. I had never wanted or needed children in the past. Not in the sense that I felt a yearning or a biological clock ticking away. But it would seem that, that was exactly what was happening, to an extent at least.

Interaction with him used to be a lot easier, because originally I was his Aikido teacher. So on the mat I was strict, and off the mat I was just an adult that he knew.

Now everything I say has consequence. Every position I take on every subject is analysed carefully and every tone of voice I take has an influence on his upbringing. This is so easy to forget and quite tough to maintain. It is also irreplaceable in ones life. If men have a final right of passage it is simply to be a true father figure.

I say father figure because being a father is as easy as... well you probably have some idea of what I mean by that. Actually taking on that responsibility is hugely different. I never wiped his bum when he was a baby, or helped him with his first steps. But how he grows now, in his formative years is partly up to me. This is one of the best things in my life, and yet I have never found a bigger challenge.

The mirror that is held up by having this responsibility is ruthless. It tells you exactly what you think of yourself. It shows you completely naked, casting aside your self image for the immature bullshit that it is worth.

The growth and beauty that you witness is incredible and profound. You share a part of yourself that may have hidden from you until this moment.

This experience is refreshing and beautiful, if you are up for it.

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