Father’s Day, Facebook nominations, PTSD, black dogs, suicide and children. All these things have come together in my mind today to cause me to sit down and write. For what reason? I really don’t know. I think it’s my little effort at raising awareness of a few things without having to concede to involving myself in Facebook chains.
In any case, I write.
It’s ironic that as I settled in to do so, a notification pings telling me my friend Darren Cathie has nominated me for 22 push-ups for 22 days on Facebook. It’s a Facebook nomination thingy that is designed to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Darren, who is no more than 60 kilograms ringing wet and I assume has two good shoulders, may well be able to do 22 push-ups all at once but me?… ME?! If I could do 10 I’d be pretty happy. I might have to take advantage of the ambiguity and drag out my 22 push-ups for 22 days. I reckon I would be able to handle that.
Raising awareness of such things is fantastic of course. The PTSD 22 push-up effort and the similar chain for male suicide recently, have certainly made their mark over the last month. If you are a person of around my age and demographic (social media addictions included), I imagine you would be well aware of these two social virus feeds. Whether or not that is a valuable awareness is up for discussion.
I call Darren’s nomination ironic because earlier today I was expressing my views on this social media phenomenon and the fact that chain letters and nominations are not really my thing. In defence of my negativity, I was highly commending many of my friends who were fearless in expressing thoughts and feelings that I would normally only ever reveal to my very dearest. As the PTSD chain requires 22 push-ups, the male suicide equivalent requires the expression of a personal view or experience before embarking on the copied text containing statistics around male suicide of blokes up to the age of 45.
I’ve learnt things about my ‘friends’ which in some cases, I would never have imagined. Despite our alleged acceptance and more open-thinking about that big black dog there’s still a hell of a lot to learn about people we thought we knew.
Anyhow… I digress. Kind of.
There are a whole heap of things merging together in my head to bring me to what I am intending to say; mental illness, PTSD, suicidal-middle-aged-males, black dogs…. They kind of come together for me today because it’s Father’s Day and I’ve had such a good one.
I spend a good part of my Father’s Day really happy and really pissed off. It’s always been a mixed-bag of emotions.
I was really happy that my three children made the effort to do things with me today that I wanted to do (not necessarily what they wanted to do). They spent time with me, loved me, chatted about my crap, gave me some very thoughtful gifts and wrote me the most mature messages I have yet received from any of them. They’re lovely, and like most dad’s I’ve heard from today, I love them more than I could possibly express in any form.
However, I was really pissed because I always spend some of my time pissed off on Father’s Day. Pissed off with my father.
At 42 years old, he committed suicide. I was twelve.
I’m now 49 and my brothers are 47 and 45. At least we all appear to have made it through the worst years! For years and years, I never told a soul about dad. It’s been quite an interesting journey actually, observing the change in thinking and attitudes to a point where I’m willing to share the fact. Admittedly, the passage of time in my own life no doubt makes it easier to share.
So for 37 years I have not had a dad for Father’s Day. And it pisses me off.
He hasn’t been there for me for 37 years and he has missed out on years and years of good life in which he could have enjoyed my successes (and consoled me on my bugger-ups). Not to mention the 21 years thus far that he would have enjoyed his now seven grandchildren.
“So dad, I love you, you were a hero to me as a little boy, I wish you were here, I wish I could have shared the love of my own children with you… and you bloody-well piss me off as well.”
Back to the good bits. I’ve had such a lovely day. I’ve done some of the things that remind me so much about the good things in life; spending time with good people in good places. Best of all my children have been lovely to me and restored my confidence in how much they love me.
Fancy missing out on that.