It’s baffling. The more stories that are submitted the more I realise that hypermasculinity and emotional suppression among males is truly a widespread and unanswered problem. This anonymous contributor has shared her story of how she sees her dad and she too, certainly does not appreciate the lack of emotions.
It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I really knew my father.
It’s not that I didn’t have a father growing up. In fact, he was always present, a figure sitting on the couch watching the 7 o’clock news, walking through the door after work, pottering around the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon.
But while he may have been physically there, in so many other ways, my father was absent.
My father is very much a product of his time. Born in the 50’s, he had grown up with different ideas of what it meant to be a man. Stoic and reserved, he was often distant.
He showed little outward affection but I was reassured of his love through small gestures, an occasional pat on the head, a quick hug every now and then.
As the years went by though, he became more reclusive, drawing into himself and further away from his family.
He spoke very little and over time, the conversations grew smaller and smaller. While we made attempts to reach out to him, our efforts became more disheartened with every lack of response we received and they slowly subsided over the years.
He threw up a wall around him, one that even my mother, his wife, could not overcome.
On the rare occasion that he did express anything, it was often his displeasure, an angry outburst followed by a lot of tension.
It became stifling and incredibly exhausting to live in a household like that, unsure of how to behave, completely unnatural in a place where we should have been our most relaxed.
Not long after my 20th birthday, I had done something to trigger my father’s anger.
What I had done was trivial compared to the response it elicited.
I won’t go into detail of what my father had said or threatened me with, but suffice it to say, the words he hurled at me were things I never thought I would hear, most of all from my father, the one man I believed would never break my heart.
The following day, I was in my room when I heard the front door open, the click of the lock announcing my father’s return home from work.
Without a single moment’s pause, he dropped his bag at the door and came into my room and gave me the tightest embrace I have ever received from him, a constant stream of apologies issuing forth from him.
It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realised that the tears on my face were not solely my own.
As he cried, for the first time, I saw my father not as a parent but simply, as a man.
He had been dealing with his stress for so long, quietly, uncomplaining, because that was what society had taught him what a man should do, to just put your head down and get on with the job.
I saw how much he had sacrificed for the people he loved and how acutely he felt these things but never let on.
I saw a man who was burdened by a number of different pressures but kept his silence, only to have it all come bearing down on him at once.
In that moment, I realised that he was simply a man, a man who felt things, a man who should have felt comfortable enough to open up, if not to others, then at least to his own family.
For the first time, I really saw my father for who he was and I wasn’t angry or upset anymore.
I only wished he hadn’t shut us out because no one should ever have to go through anything alone.
If he thought he was showing courage by bottling his feelings as he kept trudging on, then he could not have been more wrong.
He showed true bravery and became more human in my eyes when he finally confronted everything that had been bothering him.
Since that day, his thoughts and emotions have been on clear display. He refuses to hide behind pretences any longer, having already lost so much time with his wife and children previously.
It took a hard lesson but I have never felt closer to my father before.
Growing up, he was always my father, a formidable figure, a parent. Now, he is no longer just my father, he is my dad more than ever.