Corrective reflections

I haven’t heard back from my father, which isn’t a huge surprise but is a disappointing effort. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say, but there was a moment during the week I wondered how he would feel if he heard there was something wrong with me. I contacted him not from affection, but from the sense that it was the right thing to do. At the back of my mind, I had realised – I think in light of John Clarke’s unexpected death – that anything was possible and that I’d rather (and should) know, than not. Of course, something could happen to me too – what regrets might he have in not taking my hand when it was offered to him? Let’s hope none of us find out. Now it’s done.

It was my middle nephew’s birthday on Friday also. I keep in contact with him, as I do his older brother, and sometimes his younger sister. I sent him a card for his birthday. He sent me a message thanking me when he received it, then ended with a “love u”.

I was surprisingly moved. We’re as close as we can be under the circumstances, and he is a gentle-hearted, sensitive soul. He’s a very good-looking boy, but lacking in confidence which makes him rebellious sometimes. We’ve always been close and I think he treasures the support and belief I show in him. I am one of the few meaningful male figures in his life and as such he looks up to me.

It’s an uncommon feeling for me, but welcome. Still, I am of that generation who finds it hard to respond to displays of affection. I told him I loved him too, knowing that I would never have been as open as that in the first place. He’s got that all over me, and it’s an example I can learn from – one of many.

I touched on many of these things last week, and spoke to Donna about it during the week. I feel sometimes as if my battles have changed me in ways that I regret, which was the thrust of what I wrote last week. I am aggressive by nature, and the circumstances I’ve endured have brought that out and more, so I thought, to the point that I had become hard. I was almost phobic about it.

Not true, said Donna, not true at all. In fact, she said, I’m a gentler man than I ever was before because I’ve been rebuffed and had to reflect on that and re-build. She told me how sometimes she would be annoyed by me because I had it so good and thought little of it. It was my just entitlement. Now that’s been rubbed off, and I’m a better person for it.

She seemed to believe I was pretty much the same person as before, just my situation has changed, and so too then have some of my behaviours. She likened me to an “authentic letter in the tatty envelope” when once the envelope was brand new. Returned to sender too many times, I joked. What was important was inside the envelope she said, and that was just as true as ever.

In fact, she went on to elucidate al the things I have to offer when I could come up with nothing. Emotional intelligence she said, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness. I was unselfish and decent and honest too, reliable and trustworthy and generous. Above all I was authentic. She went on in very generous fashion herself, and I choose to note them down here for myself. I may doubt it, but the perspective of someone like Donna counts and bears remembering.

I was much reassured by her words. I felt as if she had pricked a notion I had begun to get carried away with, and it made me lower my eyes and consider how I am viewed more widely. I know at work that many of the floor staff see me as kind and friendly and considerate and that’s enough for me.

Later in the week, Donna sent me this link. I’m glad to think I might be most of those things, if not all of them.


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