It’s nearly my third anniversary. Not one I’d normally choose to celebrate but one that feels significant nonetheless.
3 years ago after a period of feeling increasingly down I found myself crying at my desk right in the middle of some mundane work task or other. Proper wrenching sobs coming from deep, deep down, so hard in fact that they hurt physically as well as emotionally.
This was the catalyst for visiting my GP to start on a course of anti-depressants and to get on the waiting list for my local NHS Talking Therapies group.
I made a decision very early not to hide this from my children. I wanted them to understand that like a broken leg, my head was a bit broken and I needed to help mend it. Since then frankly I think I’ve bored the hell out of them talking about feelings, sharing, empathy all of those good things that us stoic men are not supposed to show the world.
I’d like to think I’m decent dad (always room for improvement right?) and as well as taking care of my kid’s material needs I’m encouraging them to be open about their feelings both positive and negative.
This was brought into sharp relief last night over my teenage son. Love him to bits, but god knows he knows how to push my buttons all at once. He’s been having some issues at school, nothing major just minor disruption as they like to call it.
There was a lot of back and forth arguing and then I humped off out with the dogs to calm down. While I was walking I had time to think and realised that some of the things he’s saying sound like me. A little bit too like me for comfort.
I realised that what he needs for now is not me/us to be on at him constantly. Yes, he needs to understand the boundaries that we as his parents have set but more importantly we need to let him grow, to give him space to work out what is important to him and the mechanisms and strategies he’s is going to develop to make the life he wants.
So I told him all of this. He expected shouting, I talked gently. I explained that I love him very much but we’ve reached a point where as close as we have been he needs his space now to be himself.
And really the other thing I realised is that I need my own space. Working full-time, kids, pets, wife, house and all those other things that take your time doesn’t leave a lot for yourself. By giving my son emotional space, I get some back for myself.
When I have space then I can grow as a person to.
This is the first thing I’ve written in three years. It’s no co-incidence that my creative ability stopped as the tablets took hold. Feeling level is ok, it smooths out the bumps but the apathy and lack of feeling has me screaming inside.
I’m going back into therapy to see if I can finally get of the medication and accept life for what it is and myself for who I am.
I’ll finish on something that struck me this morning when I was suddenly struck by the need to write this down.
Picture a heart. Look at the bottom where it joins. That’s me and my son. Look how it grows apart as it moves up, creating space but the turning in, curling down to join again.
That’s us. We are moving apart to find space, never not loving each other, just respecting our needs. We will come back together; our relationship will be different but with space for each other.
If we don’t acknowledge our feelings and talk things through, then that heart will break and be unable to be repaired.
Nobody should have to deal with that.
Thanks for reading.