Monday, April 18, 2011

Ramblings on The BroHood and ManHood

There is something that I will always be no matter what... a brother.  No matter how hard I try, I will never out-grow it, I will never move on to something bigger and better.  From the moment I was born, until the day I die, I will always be someone's brother.  There is no changing that.  

Being a man, on the other hand, is not a given.  There is only one influence that is able to validate your rite of passage into manhood. It is not the prostitute or stripper your friends paid for to "usher" you into your manhood.  It's not how fast you can round the bases with your girlfriend. The only influence that can do this for boys is that of a father-figure.

Before I continue, I should point out that I have a very high level of respect for step-fathers.  In fact, I had a high level of respect for mine growing up, and I didn't even meet my BioDad until my early twenties.  But when you build your reputation, and the basis for who you are and what you mean to an individual on an intricate bed of lies, then it only takes one piece of truth to unravel it all.  In a very unspecific way, that is the best way I can explain my lost relationship with my step-dad.

To quote John Eldredge, the author of Wild at Heart, "Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow to the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father."  

I feel overjoyed (sarcasm) that I was able to connect with my BioDad and lose my relationship with my step-dad around the same time. It was like I looked up one day, and I was suddenly fatherless. Now, if my step-dad was a fraction of the man he spent years convincing me and others he was, then he would still be in my life, and I wouldn't have had a need to start this blog. But he isn't. He's not even the opposite of the man he said he was... he's nothing. The last time I bumped into him, I had zero emotional response.  I actually was surprised at how much I didn't care to even look at him. Why? He became a stranger to me. How can I hate him when I don't even know him?  

My BioDad is another case all together. Most of my anger towards him was because of how he was vilified by my mother. Am I excusing him? Not at all. Did she take his kids from him? Yes. He told me he left the state because he was so angry that he was going to do something violent. So, maybe I should be grateful he didn't make me motherless, but he didn't put out the effort hot be in our lives.  Until I was in my twenties, I had NO conscious memory of him, and no idea what he looked like. I could have walked by him and never knew it.  Since he was never around, he doesn't know how to be BE around. He went from missing to absentee.

UPDATE: While working on this post I received an email from my BioDad saying that he's moving to Cali in 2 weeks.  I don't know if I have a reaction to this, or if I just want to have a reaction to this.  I am disappointed, and I want to keep from the cliche "Fine, I didn't want you around anyway!" reaction.  

All this to say that i am a 30-year-old father of 2 with daddy issues I may not be able to get resolved.  There is a missing rite of passage in my journey to manhood.  

Why doesn't a brother have the ability to become this influence in a young man's life?  He just doesn't.  Consider the situations where you hear these phrases:
"You're the man of the house now." 
"You're not my dad."  
"Heir Apparent." 
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."  

How does a brother validate or usher a boy into manhood?  Can they?  What is so significant in the relationship between father and son that when that relationship is broken, or damaged, both parties suffer.  I have mentioned in a previous post, I have had trouble with my relationships with one of my brothers, but this was not a relationships I ever felt internally and deeply hurt by.  Yes, I was angered by them, but they would never send me to therapy.  

I have recently been hit by the realization that phrases like, "He's not heavy, he's my brother" and, "Am I my brother's keeper?" have limitations.  I am not only human, but a flawed human.  I can only handle so much.  I can only forgive so much.  I can only forgive what has been asked of me to be forgiven.  I am working on forgiving in the face of continued offense.  I'm working on it.  

I may not be able to resolve my daddy issues, but I still hope to resolve my brother-issues.  

I realize that this post was all over the place, but I had to get it out of my head to think straight again.  Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to join the discussion and leave a comment. 



  1. I used to think all "broken families" were similar. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized just how lucky I was with my version of a "broken family." I essentially had two dads: my dad and my step-dad. Both were involved in my life. Both loved me. And I loved them both.

    It's when I read something like you've written here that I realize not everyone is lucky enough to have one dad, much less two.

  2. Hearing your situation makes me feel good that others in a similar situation (on paper) had a better experience. I am glad this was good for you. I am at a place where I am conscious of what is missing; like an amputee. I have learned, and am still learning, to make it without.

    I did have a great childhood. It was just damaged beyond repair when I was a young adult.

    Thanks for stopping by, i hope you'll do it again. -JB

  3. Although I personally have not experienced the same things in regards to my father I can't tell you how much I appreciate your openness about your situation.

    I don't know if I would be able to be as open about things if I was in a similar situation.

    Thanks for keeping things real. I think that's one of the things that makes your blog so great.

  4. Thanks for you comment. Sometimes, this is the only thing in my head, and I have to get it out to shake the cobwebs loose.

    Stay tuned. ;-)

  5. JB, I came here by way of Doubting Thomas, he linked up both up to his love or money post. I've read Wild at Heart and it candidly changed my life. I had a loving father until I was 26 years old and he perished in a work accident. Was he perfect? No. While aiming for things he fell short and that was ok, it wasn't all his fault. As Eldredge points out, father woulds are a perpetuating cycle. It's difficult to be a 'good dad' (if we can even define that) if they didn't have anyone to learn from.

    I know that he did the very best that he was capable of doing. While the wounds that were caused have been a work in process to heal I can unequivocally say that his positive influences in my life far outweigh the wounds that were there, though those wounds have permeated multiple areas of my life.

    We share many of the same aspects of manhood, I look forward to reading more.


  6. It is so excellent that you are actually struggling to figure this out. Ignoring this issues, which every man has to some degree, leaves us locked into repeatedly making our same mistakes, or repeating the mistakes of our fathers.

    I belong to a men's group and we recently met on this topic. I was amazed at how many different versions of the father-son story there are, and how "normal" or even uneventful mine felt in comparison. Perspective. I strongly recommend trying to find a group of men with whom you can meet in your area.