It was father’s day yesterday, a day that has had no real meaning in my life for many years. I knew it was coming, but as I woke up yesterday I had forgotten all about it. Later, when I remembered, my only thought amid all the cheery messages of the day was to reflect on all the not so good dads. Lift your game, I thought.
I’m not sure what it was – the disappointment of missing out on the role and the reflection that ensued, or if it was a final consideration of family matters – but later in the day I cut the tie in as formal a way as you can these days: by social media.
There’s no doubt that the disappointment I felt on Friday made me more sensitive to my situation. As I do, I sat down to figure things out. One of the things that involved was to reflect on my values. I’m strong on that stuff. I may come across as a cynic sometimes but I remain an idealist. I can’t do much about the world around me, but it’s different when it comes to myself.
I didn’t want to be angry or bitter. I don’t believe in those things. I didn’t want to act from personal affront. I wanted to be reasonable and rational and honest. Ultimately it meant that I reflected on my recent journey and what that meant to me. I needed to articulate it to make it real.
To my surprise I found myself typing out a Facebook post in which I admitted that I had been homeless for a while, before going on to explain how that had changed me.* I hesitated before hitting the Post button, but the time was right. This was something that had to happen and was always going to happen. Now I can put it behind me.
Over the next 12 hours I got a lot likes, but not one comment. I understood that: what can you say? And I knew that the likes were an acknowledgement of my honesty and a sign of support. I appreciated it.
That lightened the load, but then I went further. I suppose I should have done this long ago. I went through all my Facebook friends, weeding out those I have no contact with anymore or any real interest. But then there was my sister and my father. I’ve spoken to neither of them for nearly two years, but there’s a family bond. But then I was sick of the pretence. I’m not going to contact them. I’m certain they won’t contact me. And you know what? I’m not really interested in them anymore. And so I deleted them from my friends list.
These things are the past now, and I’ve put them away and looking forward.
*As some of you will know, I spent a patch of a bit over a year being homeless. It wasn’t a bunch of fun, but it probably wasn’t as scarifying as some of you imagine. Nonetheless, there were many low moments and times when I wondered if I’d ever escape it. Having endured I set about re-building my life, which has been slow going but steady.
Not surprisingly, I realised that many of the things I thought important before seemed less so after. I had a simpler, less pretentious view of life than before. My basic character was unchanged, but I found I saw people differently. No man was my superior – but none my inferior either.
We all have a story, not better or worse, but different, though value judgements are rife. We tend to apply labels because it’s convenient, but most labels are arbitrary and ultimately meaningless – rich/poor, superior/subordinate, black/white, etc. It’s what’s inside that has value.
This is not easy for everyone to understand. I’m not playing by the same rules as before, and see more directly than I did then. For me it’s simple: I don’t want to pretend to be anything than what I am, don’t want to fake something I don’t feel, and don’t want to be anything less than totally authentic. Ultimately this is what I want to be – open and honest, for better or worse.