I am enough - The impact of absent fathers
Quite recently I took a trip to Parc Prison near Bridgend to discuss a potential project I want to run with the Young People in there.
The meeting I had with the appropriate people went splendid and I am thrilled to say I got the funding to work with the young offenders over the coming months! but as I left the prison and walked back to my car I had a strong over whelming feeling come over me.
Over-Whelmed because I thought to myself ‘That could’ve been me’ and ‘ I could’ve ended up in there’
Reflecting on myself and the journey I have been on this past 15 years really made me
1) Appreciate what I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come and
2) Have so much respect for my Mum
And here’s why:
A little over 15 years ago on one dull, gloomy evening my life as I knew it quite literally changed. And my Mum made one of the hardest decisions she would ever have to make.
Up until that evening my life at that point had been going down a very troublesome path.
I had been getting in constant trouble with the Police, getting warnings, cautions and reprimands.
I had been running away from home and slacking and not caring in school.
Looking back now I fully realise that all the above, my behaviour, my actions were all a cry for attention.
Attention from the one person I wanted attention from and ultimately would and never will have attention from - My Father.
As a result of this my Mum got the brunt of a lot of my misdirected anger and energy.
Arguments that resulted in me saying horrific things like I wished she was dead and that she was a terrible excuse for a mother.
Stuff that I can never take back but I said anyway out of an anger and looking back now that anger scared me. Another reason was because she was the one that was there for my anger to be directed at.
No one else was there for me to direct my frustration onto, my Father most definitely wasn’t there and after every verbal, emotional blow I dealt her, she wiped the tears away, brushed herself off and carried on.
And not once did I appreciate that.
But why would I?
I was too consumed with rage at being abandoned by the almighty God that I thought my Father was. The hero I had created.
You see, by him never being around I guess in my head I created this version of him that I longed for.
The Father I wanted in my life to raise me.
To push me on a swing in the park
To teach me how to ride a bike
To show me how to shave when puberty started to kick in
To watch me in my sports day
To cheer me on in my school nativity show when I was a shepherd (True Story!)
To confide in when I had my first crush
To confess to when I lost my virginity
BUT I had to learn the hard way that he would never be that person.
Ultimately I had to realise that my Mum was and always will be BOTH Mum and Dad
(**I refer to him as Father in this only because anyone can be a Father (Insert joke about short sex here) It takes someone special to be a Dad. And that’s something he never was and never will be)
On that evening 15 years ago I came home from school and Mum and I got into a usual argument about my behaviour and the way I was being.
Stuff was said, swearing and shouting occurred and after about 10 minutes, Mum gave up and went into the kitchen to fold clothes and on her way closed the kitchen door in my face.
And that was it.
Thats what changed everything as in that moment I didn’t want to leave it.
I wanted to finish the argument but now I was more pissed off at the fact she closed the door in my face.
I saw red so to speak.
I was already at about 7 on a scale of heightened emotion but in that moment I jumped from 7 straight to 20.
I swung the kitchen door open and saw her kneeling down going through the clothes in the laundry basket with her back facing me and without hesitation I kicked her in the back and stomped her to the ground.
I beat my Mum.
Now before I go any further I know there will be people reading this thinking ‘Connor you woman beater’ ‘Connor you piece of shit’ etc and believe me you would be right to think that. But there is nothing you can think about me or say to me that I haven’t already said to myself or thought about myself.
Also I’m the one that has to live with that for the rest of my life.
Which I will and which I do everyday.
In a way it fuels me every single day when I wake up to be a better person and not be that person I used to be.
Back to THAT evening…
I instantly fled.
I have no idea what thoughts filled my Mums mind in that moment and the moments that followed afterwards laying on the kitchen floor but I have an idea and quite frankly the older I get the more it brings tears to my eyes.
I ran to my best friends house (James) a few doors down, across the road and didn’t say a word of what happened. Just sat in his living room with him watching a movie. But constantly looking outta the window down at my house to see if my Mum was going to come up the road and collect me.
A couple of hours passed and as I looked outta the window for what must have felt like the 50th time to James, I saw 2 police offices approach the house.
I grabbed my jacket and ran out of the house and the female office ran a little bit up the road and just stopped about 5 metres from me, looked at me and said “Connor, Please don’t run”
So I didn’t
I let them put the handcuffs on me
Put me in the back of the police car and take me to the station.
They processed me and charged me with assault and GBH because my mum was pressing charges against me and had made a statement and given photographic evidence of the state of her back and other injuries.
I spent the night in one of their cells in nothing but my underwear and a paper jumpsuit.
The next morning my Grandad (My Mums Dad) came to the station to bail me out and I spent the next few days at my Grandparents house.
Eventually they dropped me back to my Mum and we spent many of days in silence. Not knowing what to say.
I was even more angry with her now as she was, in my eyes ruining my life by pressing charges. I wanted to go to medical school but with a criminal record I most definitely couldn’t.
I went to court and had to sit across from my Mum and look at images of what I had done to her back and listen to that evening play out again in her statement which was read out.
I pleaded guilty and with the grace of a few teachers who believed in me and wrote an open letter to the judge with my grades attached, to show that I was a capable student who was making all the wrong choices, The judge chose to give me a second chance.
I was handed a 3 year suspended sentence meaning that I couldn’t get in any trouble for 3 years (not even a warning) and if I were to do that then my record would be wiped clean and I’d get a fresh start. If I were to get in trouble though, during that period, even as much as a warning then I would be going straight to a Young Offenders Institution (Most probably Parc, Hence the overwhelming feeling I had the other day in the sense of that could have been my life) I also had to complete 120 hours of community service.
Shortly after all this, my Mum convinced my Father to come over and talk to me.
To answer some of the questions I wanted answering.
He took me to KFC and over a bucket of chicken he told me what I done was unforgivable.
That I couldn’t come and live with him because quite frankly he was scared of what I would do to him.
This broke me as a teenage boy because all I wanted was to be raised by my Father.
To be loved and nurtured the way I thought a Father should.
I was destroyed because I felt like I wasn’t good enough or deserving enough of his love and affection.
So I decided to go off to University for the 3 years as that would keep me out of trouble as i’d be away from Newport and the gangs and trouble I was involved with.
Good plan right?
During that time away it really hit me of how bad I had messed up in the past when I obtained a job as a student ambassador on campus and had to have a DBS check as the job involved working with young people who were interested in going to university. To no surprise my DBS came back about 2 and a half pages long, full of warnings, cautions, reprimands and a conviction.
It then dawned on me that this was something that could really hinder my future chances of success and growth.
3 years later passed and I graduated and went on to secure my first professional acting job which once again required me to get a DBS check as the job involved outreach work with young people. To my surprise and utter joy this DBS came back blank.
No cautions, No warnings, No reprimands and No convictions.
Tears filled my eyes when I looked at it because I was quite literally looking at my second chance.
A second chance to be a better version of ME.
The point I’m making is that if my Mum hadn’t conjured up the courage and strength to ring the police and report my actions back 15 years ago I wouldn’t be sat here writing this story right now.
My life would have gone down a completely different path.
I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for her actions.
Not once did I appreciate the fact she never minded my broken parts. She WAS always and WILL always to this day be there to guide me and help me. And I took that for granted.
There are so many young people out there who no doubt have the same insecurities that I had from the result of an absent father.
What have I done?
Why aren’t I good enough?
What is wrong with ME?
And these insecurities are manifesting themselves in behaviour that is toxic and destructive. Be that physically, Mentally or a combination of both.
If my story can do anything then I hope it can shine a light on there being second chances if you have made mistakes and if you want that and are willing to work for that then second chances can and will be granted and that you must never, under any circumstance blame yourself for absent parents not being around because ultimately they are the ones missing out because they are the ones that will never experience the beautiful journeys and triumphs that you are all on as human beings, growing and evolving day by day.
On the other side of this, I imagine there are many parents out there just like my mum who are torn on what to do and feel like all hope is slowly draining away.
Please remain hopeful and don’t give up as my Mum never and the result is not only a successful career for me but a successful relationship for us and it took us 25 years to build that but we are now in a position where we are not only Mother and Son but we are really good friends who give each other advice, go on lunches and days out and watch Real Housewives of Atlanta with no shame and a bag of popcorn and a bottle of wine between us. (Another true story)
She showed courage and strength when there was no courage and strength to muster.
If she can do it then so can every single parent out there that are going through similar issues.
And I can only imagine that it will be the hardest decision you make and yes I hated her for it for a long time but now I look back and I thank her because I needed her to make that decision.
Through our greatest adversity, Our biggest growth happens.
And man oh man have I grown.
And that growth is down to her.
Ironically a little over 2 years ago on Mothers Day of all days, whilst waiting for a train I saw my Father at the station for the first time since that infamous talk in KFC. And as he stood across from me on the platform with the handle of a dual buggy grasped in his hands and two young babies sat in there I just looked at him, he looked back and I saw a look in his eye that I instantly recognised.
And in that moment, I put my headphones back in my ear, grabbed my luggage and boarded the train to go back on the acting tour I was currently on at the time.
It took me 25 years to get to that point where I realised that I didn’t need him. I never needed him and I’ve got to a point where I’ve graduated university and I’m a professional actor following my dreams and none of that was down to him. Its down to that unbelievable woman at home who never gave up on me the way he did. Who stuck around and fought so hard to give me the best possible upbringing. And by God did she succeed!
I felt sorry for him in a way because he never got to experience my first sports day or my first starring role as the shepherd in primary school (Still a true story) or see me defy the odds and graduate or see me get engaged to my beautiful best friend or build an unbreakable bond with my younger brother which goes beyond a brotherhood.
He never got to witness none of that and for that fact I’m sorry because he never got to experience the joys in my journey and maturity. He never got to see the best parts of me and the memories I made and the relationships I built.
I felt sorry because I know when I’m eventually a father I will cherish all those things.
I will be the best Dad in the world because I know what its like to blame yourself and think as a child you’re not “good enough” for love and affection and I will NEVER make my child feel that.
To every child/young person out there who are feeling or have felt like that, just always know that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
And I hope this blog can encourage people to remind themselves of that.
Never let those insecurities consume you.
When I eventually have children they will feel Love, Patience, Affection, Encouragement, Nurture, Laughter, Joy and so much more.
Mum, To quote Keala Settle “This is me”.
The man I am now.
All of the above.
And it's all down to the love, patience and courage you showed in me.
I wouldn’t be the man I have grown up to be if it wasn’t for you.
It took me over 25 years to realise, but I never needed a Father because I had the best Mum and the best Dad a child could ever ask for.
I had YOU.
So Thank You
And I Love You