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  • Writer's pictureZendrik

Father's Day

Written in January 2020.

I’ve just finished teaching my third healing training course in a row with only women present. All my life I have so often been the only man in a yoga class, or meditation group. Men seem to be largely missing when it comes to the frontline trenches of spiritual work and self discovery. The heavy lifting is mostly being done by women.

During this last training, which was an exploration of energy healing, but also a deeper exploration of our own wounds and scars, I started choking up when I was sharing my own programming, the expectations, and judgment, from my father. I had no idea that it was still such a deeply ingrained patterning. We all grow up with the subconscious assimilation of our parents’ and caretakers’ expectations and their belief systems. One of these is gender politics: What is the role of a man or woman in society?

As a young man I had fought with my father for many years to get his approval and support for my life path. He had been proud of me, and stuck by me during many of my shifts, from wanting to be a human rights lawyer, to being a psychotherapist, to being an artist, to being an “esoteric healer”, whatever that was. He’d heard about my success in this field from others. But I was still young, and I burnt out after 18 months, and left the “job”, and started making art again and busking music in the streets of Cape Town for my daily bread. And then went to live in the woods.

In all our meetings over those years, the central theme of our conversations was:

How will you support a wife and children? In his eyes, I could only be a real man if I was able to do that. He wanted me to stick to something, to become successful at least in one thing. In my often tearful eyes, my concern was: I have to find myself, follow my passion, carry on exploring, what is life? Of course, my mother was influential in this, a scholar of Jung and Zen, she had instilled in me Joseph Campbell’s central premise: Follow you bliss. I spent many years as a starving artist, carving wood and stone, whilst practicing my instruments, daily yoga, meditation and journaling. I ate rice and beans, and lived a simple life, collecting rain water, and cooked on a wood stove. I started traveling, restless, got into some bands.

My father had cancer, and saw that his life was over, and began to give up his great expectations of me when he saw that I was happy, that I was fulfilling my spiritual and emotional goals, and that I was able to earn my living in 5 different ways. I was still in no position to support a wife and children, but he saw that I had some sense of security, and gave me his blessing eventually, before he died.

The core wound that men carry, I believe, is the expectation from your father, your family or community, to be a man. For some of us that means, boys don’t cry. In our capitalist and economic-growth-obsessed society it also means the pressure to go out and earn a living, and become a provider and protector. That life itself is not safe, and abundant. All fathers themselves grew up on this modern industrial slave planet, where we owe taxes and pay rents, just to live.

The capitalist-industrialist dream is based on the nuclear family, the worker support unit, the unpaid labor of women who maintain the worker’s emotional and domestic world, while he slaves away for the bosses and owners, grinding, and wishing away half his life, from 9 – 5, and Monday to Friday, waiting for the evening, the weekend, the few weeks of holiday per year. Is it not possible for everybody to create a life from which they don’t need a holiday, to do work that they love, and to be free?

The central core wound of men, is just that, we are men. What does that mean to you? And now all we are good for is heavy lifting. Women can look after themselves, society rewards it. As a feminist and goddess worshiper, I also feel that other deep wound that men carry: we are not women. We are cut off, from an early age, from our mother’s embrace, the gentleness, the warmth and nurturance of the feminine, as we are pushed out into the competitive world, to become a man. Gender polarization has caused a deep wounding for all of us. We all carry the burden of Being a Man, or Being a Woman. No wonder, for the kids today it’s fashionable to be gender fluid.

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