He's quickly becoming a regular guest blogger over here in the HeiferHood, and people LOVE him. Writing about our own experiences can be so healing and cathartic. I'm happy to share Brett's latest blog post, on Forgiveness.
Brett's previous blog posts can be found HERE and HERE. He's a very direct writer and I could not be more proud to call him a friend. As many runners are running to fight anxiety, depression, etc... Brett is working through his own demons. I give him so much credit for not only doing the HARD WORK, but for sharing it with the rest of the world so that maybe someone else, who's going through something similar, finds hope in Brett's situation. Let's talk forgiveness, now, shall we? A great lesson... one which even this heifer needed to hear.
As the yearly parental visit approaches – three weeks and counting – it’s inevitable my anxiety grows. However this time it’s different. It isn’t growing. It’s changed.
Let me put this in context. My anxiety isn’t solely down to my father, or my mother. As far as I am aware it is down, like most mental health issues, to what I call the onion effect; layers of potentially unconnected events that build up over time. However my father is central to mine.
He is now in his early late 60’s. Six foot four he still has a level of physicality which stood him in good stead during his football career. A career that started in his teens and carried on until his mid 40’s. A career driven by his overbearing father. A career that frequently took him away from home. A career that meant every waking hour was spent either playing football, watching football or coaching football. A career that stopped him being a father. A career that, if you didn’t play football, or even want to meant you simply didn’t feature in his world. I remember once saying I didn’t really like football to which I was told ‘what, how can you be my son’.
But I didn’t like football. I tried, I really did. I even played at county level but.... my heart wasn’t in it.
My father and I had no relationship. I didn’t know what to say to him because I simply didn’t know him. I created coping mechanisms and remember distinctly the day he arrived home early. I resented him so much for that. How dare he try to come in the world I had created.
We skip forward and he is visiting me in York. Along with my wife and child we are visiting a railway museum. I’m looking at a full scale model of the legendary bullet train and I see my father standing in front of a huge locomotive. The sheer size of the thing is incredible and he looks dwarfed, but not by the tons of steel before him. For the first time he looks humble. As I talk to him for the first time he actually talks to me about his love of engineering and traction engines. The conversation is brief but enlightening. Maybe football wasn’t his first love after all.
As a father he was pretty much useless. I felt rejected and ignored by him through my childhood, teenage years, adolescence and beyond. I never saw him. Our relationship never stood a chance. He chose sport. Or maybe it was chosen for him.
But something has changed. Whereas previously I felt anger and rejection I now understand that perhaps the life he lived was not his own. Yes, he chose football but his choices were directed by his father who had trained him from a young age. As I watched him stare at that massive engine I actually felt quite sorry for him.
The simple act of understanding, without forcing forgiveness, has allowed me a level of closure. Yes, my father chose to go on football tours, to train and coach far beyond normal career boundaries, my father was a selfish man. But by understanding motivating factors I can at least rationalise the choices he made.
For me, forgiveness isn’t about saying ‘it’s okay, don’t worry, all is now well’. It’s about understanding his choices, because that way I can understand my reactions and that takes me one step further on my journey.
Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47.
He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health. You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.