Just because a father is physically present doesn’t mean there’s a father and son connection. But that also doesn’t mean there isn’t a desire to for one.
As CJ goes on a vulnerable trip down memory lane, we learn that he not only yearned and craved a connection with his father, but that when it felt most impossible and nonexistent, as a kid he used his imagination to fill the void.
Even though things might not have turned out as he hoped with his father, this short excerpt holds space for all the young boys and men (and their fathers) who still may not be able to see eye to eye.
Growing up, there was a very clear standard of what boys were and were not allowed to do. I was not supposed to play with dolls. Couldn’t have too many female friends. I needed to play sports and lift weights. Certain colors I shouldn’t wear. I shouldn’t wear tight clothes. I was expected to act a certain way, like talking with a deep voice, not high-pitched and walking a certain way, no swinging my hips too much.
My mother always dictated the clothes that I wore. I liked European cut clothes. Not too tight, but not baggy like American cut. I was drawn to that look. But to her, that look wasn’t masculine enough. She made me get a size a bigger than I wore. She told me what colors not to get. To wear this and that.
I remember seeing a calendar when I was younger that had a picture of a father and a child playing on the beach. I looked at it and I remember thinking, “I wish I had a father. I wish I had a great relationship with him.”
For some, masculinity is modeled by their fathers. But I didn’t have a good relationship with my father. Up until now, that’s still the case. At a young age, my father has always had a bad temper. He liked to scream, yell, and curse. He finally calmed down when I developed depression. I think then he felt like he fucked up and decided to calm down and change his behavior. We still don’t look each other in the eyes. And despite the time, I just don’t have a good relationship him. But I craved it growing up.
I remember seeing a calendar when I was younger that had a picture of a father and a child playing on the beach. I looked at it and I remember thinking, “I wish I had a father. I wish I had a great relationship with him.” I still question that. I wonder what it would be like to have a father you can hang out with, discuss, play sports with. I yearned for it, but I never got that type of relationship.
So, I used my imagination. In my mind, my father was a part of my life; we went on trips together, like football games. I used my fantasies to fill the empty space and experience that I never had with him. That was somewhat comforting. I never got to the point where the fantasies weren’t enough. But the older I get, the more I come to terms with the fact that I will never get to experience a father and son relationship.