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Updated on December 24, 2010
Powerful son, more powerful than Dad!  That is how it is supposed to evolve!
Powerful son, more powerful than Dad! That is how it is supposed to evolve!
Father and son
Father and son
Two men at peace
Two men at peace
My Dad with Mom
My Dad with Mom
Father (65) and son (38)
Father (65) and son (38)


Hey, let’s face it. As men, we are, each and all, the original motley crew. We’re the guys who stand in front of the mirror and say to ourselves, “Man, what a fat, ugly SOB!” Then we turn to our sweety pie and expect her to see Prince Charming! Hello! How does that work? How does that make any sense at all? Let’s face it. It doesn’t!

Yes, we are the guys who are tough. We never cry. Our claim to fame is never being a whimp or a pussy. And we make sure our sons don’t cry, or we brutally wound them by letting them know what whimps and pussies they are. Yes we are a cruel motley crew.

Yes, we are, each and all, angrier than hell, controlling, and miserably lonely. Yes, there is no one who wants to live with us inside this hardened shell. We cling to the few who dare to get close to us. And we end up suffocating them. Most of the time, no one wants to be around us. We walk into the room, and everyone gets up and goes to another room. Because everyone knows, but us. We are a dying bunch, about ten years ahead of our female counterparts. But so what? We are tough. We will die honorably with a stiff upper lip, a chest hard as nails, so thick the shell, we can’t even hear our own heartbeat. It is sad because we don’t get it that no one wants to rest their head on our chest even though inside we are literally dying for someone to do just that, but we will never fess up, never let anyone see that very soft vulnerable part of our being.

And when we feel rejected, we don’t let our loved ones know about the rejection. We just show them our anger and drive them even farther away. We are not only a motley crew, but an insane and suicidal bunch.

Many of us still live in the last century when prior to the Sixties, it was the standard for the man to dominate, and for everyone else in our life, especially the woman or women we love, to be submissive. And many of us don’t understand why that is not acceptable anymore. We somehow forget our U. S. History 101, which is only a metaphor for the gradual evolution of man and woman kind toward equality, and learning just exactly what that means, especially when it comes to love.

Read St. Paul carefully. He calls us both to be submissive, not just the woman. Yeah, you missed that part didn’t you? He calls us men to gently bathe our spouse and cover her with a white gown, to love her the way we love our own body. There’s some servitude there, that somehow we conveniently miss. Women will say, “That’s a guy for you.” But dammit, we can change that. Yes we can. We can stop conveniently missing the obvious.

When you love, truly love, there can be no better half. It is about each person in the relationship being whole. There really is no such thing as compromise. It is rather a dance, a movement toward consensus, which means to sense with or to perceive together. It is not give and take, but give and receive, which means as men, we are called to learn the experience of loving and being loved.

This is not Dad bashing time. But for us men, he is, after all, our primary model, and it is important for us to revisit that relationship so we can truly honor Dad by being a different man than he was able to be. And even if you say, you didn’t have a Dad, not having a Dad is also a model.

I watched Dad possess my Mom, and I watched her allow herself to be possessed. Mom, for example, could not have friends, either male or female. Well, she could have them, but could not spend time with them. He clocked her every second, her every move, her every breath.

After I left home, when I would come back to Fresno to visit everyone, I soon realized that I could not come back home to visit everyone.  I could only come back to visit Dad. He wanted me to spend every second of every visit with him.  I want you to know, I never really got all of this till just NOW, like last week in a conversation with my youngest sister. 

And I will never forget the day I finally had the courage to break lose, and I told Dad that I was going to see Forest Gump with my sisters.   Dad cried and then told me that I would have all the time in the world to be with my sisters AFTER he died.  I was stunned because at the time, he was not dying!

I have come to realize that he lived every day of his life as if he was dying, and he lived every moment from a place of scarcity, that he would never get enough. And so when I came to town to visit, he would literally capture me and suffocate me, and I would allow him to, to the point that I would get physically ill every time I did come to town.

On one visit in particular, as I was on the way back home, about twenty miles out, I was shocked that suddenly all my symptoms literally disappeared. I knew then that my getting sick had something to do with visiting “home,” but it has taken me to almost this very moment to totally get it, that it was the suffocation and imprisonment that was making me literally sick to my stomach.

In recent months, through the help of Alanon, I’ve come to understand the impact of both my Dad and my Uncle on my life. Both were alcoholics and very lonely men. But Dad was able to look good, while Uncle Herman fell down every staircase there is to fall down in the cities of Oakland and San Francisco. But in both relationships, I stood on my head to make them happy. I loved them dearly. But I ended up thinking that I wasn’t quite good enough for either one of them.

If I had been good enough for Uncle Herman, he would have stopped drinking. If I had been good enough for Dad, he would have spent more time with me. He would have noticed the fear in my eyes when he talked to me and figured out a way to make me feel safe and loved by him without imprisoning me and suffocating me. He would have encouraged me to fly, to be free, and to be my own brand of man.

Yes, obviously there was something, or a lot, missing in our relationships with Dad. I Thank God that I have been able to fill in those missing pieces for myself with other male relationships. I thank God that I learned how to give to my son exactly what I yearned for from Dad.

Each of us can become aware of the missing piece or pieces in our relationships with Dad, not to bash or convict him, but to compassionately forgive him, because he he did not have the piece to give, but we now, as grown up men, can grow that piece within us, and give that missing piece to both the men and women in our lives, big and small.

So what are the gifts we are called to give this Christmas?

First of all, we do have a strength that is connected to our testosterone and our “manliness.” We want to learn just exactly what that strength looks like and feels like. It is the strength that allows us to grieve, to cry, and invite those we love to also grieve and cry over their losses.
And for as long as it takes. There is no two minute rule here.

It is the strength to say NO when our own limits and boundaries are being violated. In recent years, I could have been much more honest with myself and the family and respectful of my limits, when it comes to money management. But I wasn’t. I wanted to make everyone happy.

It is also the strength to acknowledge the limits and boundaries of those we love. It is the strength to resist our perhaps genetic urge to penetrate, to take over, to capture, to win over. It is the strength to transform the competitiveness in our relationships to an invitation to those we love to be who they are. There is plenty of room in our relationships for both ourselves and those we love to be top dog! Remember, when you win in a relationship, the other person becomes a loser!

It is also the strength to stay connected to those we love at those moments when they are not either able or willing to give us what we want. For example, when we are all turned on and ready to go, and our partner has the perennial headache, we do not have to roll away. We can breathe, enjoy our sexual charge, and stay close without any demands. It feels a lot better than rolling over to the very very edge of the mattress. It is amazing that we do not fall off the bed, we roll so far over.

As you breathe, believe it or not, that sexual energy will permeate your entire body and actually leave you feeling as if you did come. TRY IT before you “toss” this away.

This strength we possess as men is the strength to really listen when it seems like our partner is telling us that it is over. They may be telling us that, or they maybe telling us a whole bunch of other important “stuff.” Like I am dying in this relationship..

Sadly, it is also the strength to let go when it is clear that our partner is asking us to leave.

For me, that was the most difficult decision of my life, to really hear finally that she was asking me to leave. I felt so kicked to the curb, so dismissed, so unappreciated. My dreams were shattered. In my own alleged mind, I had given EVERYTHING. And she had gladly taken it all, and now I had nothing left. Nothing left, but my cruel sadness, that semed to becoming from a chasm in my soul so deep that eventually I realized my sadness had more to do with me and my life than it did the ending of our relationship.  I mean the fact is I had lived fifty three years before we met.

So it is also the strength to shift from the hurt of broken relationships to looking at what is so so so painful in my life, pain that I continue to drag around like a ball and chain, and pain that drives me to make everyone pay even those who have absolutely nothing to do with my pain. And for us men, most of that pain is connected, directly or indirectly, to our relationships or lack of, with Dad. Again, this is not about blame, but recognition. So we can heal, for crying out loud and stop blaming.

For years, even going back to my childhood when I would sip from my Mom’s highball, I have covered my pain with alcohol. At one point, when my son was in high school, I was smart enough to stop drinking for seven years. Why, on earth, did I ever go back to drinking, I will never know. I can only assume it had to do with pain which for whatever reason, I did not want to face. Fortunately fourteen years later, before I die from alcoholism, I am sober once again and learning how to be in relationship with men and women and with God as a way that is healing for both myself and those I love. It is the manly way to heal and to live.

You may not have soothed your pain with alcohol as I did, but do not fool yourself. Each and all of us find some form of chaos, insanity, or craziness, whatever you want to call it, to escape the pain of being a man in a world that tends to be ignorant of what it means to be a man.

Our biggest pain that we continue to refuse to face is our incessant sacrifice of our sons and daughters to the gods of war. Too long to go into here--for another hub. But we are destroying the lives, not of the enemy, but of our very own, and we do so very little to assist them coming back to their humanity. We leave them to suffer every day the horrors of war in the name of freedom, in the name of patriotism, and in the name of duty. We are so so so archaic when it comes to this entire issue. But a topic for another hub, on another day. I am just pained by what our sons and daughters suffer, and you can read about it in the comments that veterans make to some of the blogs I have posted about war.

Another important gift we as men can give, is the gift of love. But I must start by being aware that I am loveable. I must start by allowing myself to be touched by other’s love for me which will lead me to the awareness that God loves me more than I can ever comprehend. I’m not just writing some nice sweet piece of spiritual or religious crap. If each and every day when you and I awoke, we let it in just how much God loves us, there would be no more war: no more war between between countries, between couples, individuals, families, neighborhoods, political parties, religious denominations, the so-called haves and have nots, no more war. This “dream” doesn’t have to be a panacea. It can be an individual “project” that each and everyone of us can practice each and every day, assuming that somewhere along the way, a critical mass event will occur. It certainly can’t hurt anything or hurt anymore than it already does. As men, we have nothing to lose here and everything to gain or regain, our rightful place as healers and lovers.

My gift of love includes having my fears, my sadness, my grief, my losses, my vulnerability, so I can allow those I love to have theirs. It is not about being a man. It is about being capable of loving and being loved.

My gift of love INVITES those I love to be in relationship with me. It is not demanding. I hold myself accountable. I do not become the bean counter for those I love, implying that I am better than they are. Just remember if you are better, at some point, you become a pain in the neck to the people who have to look up to you and who experience you looking down at them.

You might have guessed. My Dad was an accountant. Yes, professionally Dad was a respected accountant and made good money at it. But he tried to make it work for him in his relationships and it didn’t. And whatever our profession is, it works well in our work, but not in our relationships. For example, I cannot be a therapist in my relationships with loved ones and family. What I can be, what all of us, as men, can be are partners. We can let those we love see, by our behavior, by our behavior, yes, by our behavior (not our words) that we believe we are in the relationship together. I am no better or no worse. No one looks up to anyone, but we stay on level footing with each other so we can dance the dance.

When, as men, we hug a stuffed animal or we hold an infant, or we carry little ones around and comfort them when they are out of sorts, we feel something inside of us. Those feelings are not coming from the stuffed animal obviously, nor are they coming from the little ones. Those feelings are inside of us. They are telling us that we are indeed a LOVING bunch.

The only thing that will happen to you if you attempt, in even a small way, to give any of the gifts mentioned above, is you will sob and sob and sob and eventually cry your eyes out. Because deep inside, we yearn to give these gifts as well as to receive them. And if you cry your eyes out, you will no longer be able to see, or judge or criticize. You will only be able to FEEL what it is you have to give and what it is those you love have to give to you.

Maybe ironically the gift we can give is to allow ourselves, as men, to be captured by those we love, and we can sing these words to those we dearly love. I have no idea where these words come from, but they fit the melody of the Christmas carol, “Bring A Torch, Jeanetter Isabella,”
and they speak to the gift we can bring to those we love.

You, my love, have captured my heart
You, my love, are food for my soul.

Sing to me the songs in your heart
I’ll treasure them
I’ll hold them close to mine
Singing my heart’s delight to you
Our songs forever more will be.

The melody for "Bring A Torch, Jeanetter Isabella"


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    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Yes, G-Ma, I know you from other comments and I assume I am notified when you post a new hub. I will double check on that because it is important to me to read your hubs.

      I have no problem speaking my hub out loud and present this kind of information and emotional sharing in the classes and trainings I provide at the risk of folks thinking whatever they might think!! But you are right, writing a hub filled with this content and emotion is a safe way to share what otherwise you might not. I am too old to hold anything back. I am all growed up and can't get into trouble anymore. And I always some woman reader will be inspired to write the woman's version of anything I write from the man's limited eyeballs!!

      AND I am sure Tom really enjoys you following him around. He likes to be stalked!!

      TOM, I am glad you like the song. It is the song that inspired the hub, "May I Have This Last Dance." I am wondering now, if I posted it there as well, and if not, I am going to do that right now!! Manheim Steamroller Christmas 1984 has the best rendition. I would have uploaded that, but I do not think there is a way to upload straight audio. And I could not find a You tube of Manheim 1984. It is a touching song. Initially a waltz in the 1500's, later a French Christmas Carol (1850's), And now an adaptation with new words by Vern!!

      THANK YOU GUY AND GAL for reading and commenting

      Peace, love, hugs, 50 a day boosts the immune system.


    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      "No one looks up to anyone, but we stay on level footing with each other so we can dance the dance."

      vrbmft...I loved this line a lot! ! !...:O)

      Hi... I am G-Ma Johnson here on the HP and tho you may or may not know me I have read many of your hubs w/o commenting for my own silly reasons...but this one got to me...

      It is wonderful to see men expressing how they really feel gently and lovingly, but I wonder if it is because it is online? I know this form of writing is really good for me because I have a hard time saying out loud what I truly feel in my heart. It is sad and actually has become easier as I age, the lessons of Time are many.

      I believe each generation of parents has a hard time teaching, showing, living a life they want their children to know. My parents were raised in the depression and were used to having very little ,as many of us have had to learn, but they grew with the times , experiences and God was always a big part of our life's, which seems lost today.

      I just want you to know that women also have had lessons that we didn't approve of, and so may be why changes came about. I can't even begin to tell you what I was told was "just the way it is"...I remember when I got married (once was enuf) I wasn't allowed to use my own name on anything, it had to be Mr.& Mrs. John A Doe...PERIOD...

      Anyways I didn't want to make this too long, just to let you I was following Tom around (ssshhhh) and that is how I found you...I like what all 3 of you have printed here is nice to know you are around...all of you...God Bless and Thank you...

      HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011...:O) Hugs G-Ma

    • justom profile image


      7 years ago from 41042

      Vern I totally forgot to mention how much I enjoyed the photos and the music was awesome. Really that was the first thing I noticed but you have a way of taking me away from from those usual thoughts. Thanks for turning me on to some music I wasn't familiar with! Peace and Love!! Tom

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hi Tom

      Thanks for reading and reflecting and commenting. The gods of war is a little pinch from my interest in mythology and I know just enuf to not know anything!!

      I had an interesting Christmas with my family. I wrote this hub on Christmas eve and it was the most peaceful Christmas Eve I have experienced for a very long time. Then around midnight a bunch of family crap ignited!! Thank God, not at the house I was staying, but then Christmas morning, I really got triggered and had a minor meltdown for a short period of time. Then recovered myself!! As families we are sometimes like Christmas fruitcakes!!

      I'm glad my hubs get you talking about this "stuff" because as men we need to talk about it and share with other men about it so we can in the present tell the people we love that we do love them and treat them lovingly as well. I just got back a few hours ago. I don't know if I can write a hub about my christmas experience, but I might.

      Peace and Love, Tom


    • justom profile image


      7 years ago from 41042

      Hey Vern, I saw a bit of that in my dad too. My mom could have friends but only while he was at work, which didn't seem odd to me. I can't remember my dad ever drinking more than a few beers in a years time, if that but my mom loved her beer and was the one buzzed nightly. I also didn't find that to be a big deal because she didn't get violent or bad in any way. She just had fun with it. That may be why I used to drink to have fun and drink over sorrow, which means I drank a lot. I just figure they did the best they could and I tried to take in the good stuff and overlook the bad. I don't remember my dad ever actually saying the words I love you, to me or really to anyone. I never understood that but I tell Justin I love him every day of his life and will do it until I can't. Vern, man you bring out stuff that really makes folks think and I love you for that. I'm not usually good at talking about this stuff but it is important. If I could make a suggestion, I noticed you used the term Gods of war. Years ago a band called Pink Floyd did a song called Dogs of War and that song changed my terminology. God gave us free will and we (some of us) choose to fight. I'm not blamin' him for this mess:D Great hub as always and reading 50's comment made me feel like I got 2 for 1. Love and Peace brother!! Tom

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hi Amy

      I am glad you liked the hub. It was somewhat of a ranting hub and I just published it without too much concern, but I knew it came from a place of passion and energy even though I was not sure it all fell into place in a way that readers would read!!

      The so-called GREAT depression has influenced generations in such interesting and perhaps debilitating ways, even to the extent of some of us living life luxuriously when we really could not afford to as a sort of backlash. And I do have a genuine sense of healing with my Dad and have had several wonderful healing dreams.

      We are sitting down for Christmas lunch. Thanks again for being so supportive of my writing. Be sure I know when you publish your hubs. This a wonderful community.

      Merry Christmas, Amy

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Dusty, I may be joining you or I will set up a similar dwelling here and we can exchange homes for our respective time away from home!! I have very little left in the way of material possessions and that is perfectly OKAY. I do have relationships with very special people who love me and who I love and that is all the "furniture" and "furnishings" all the "possessions" I need or will ever need!! I am rich and wealthy in the most lasting sense of rich and wealthy.

      I continue to appreciate the depth of your sharings and the honesty and the humility. I continue to grieve from a distance your losses from war. As a fellow citizen, I believe I am called to be accountable for our decisions to send our sons and daughters to war, sacrificing you to the gods, is how I put it. It is archaic and AWFUL, speaking of shock and awe. I have a strange guilt that I never fought. I did alternate service as a CO for two years and I am glad I did not go to Viet Nam, but I also feel guilty. A strange mixed bag.

      Thanks so much for your sharing and your support. Continue to look forward to sharing with you. We are also animals, so your animals are just like people. And you know that. They even die the same we do, with the death rattle breathing at the end, etc.

      So for now, thank you again for your precious comments and have a wonderful Christmas day with your loved ones. They are faithful to you, aren't they. YEP! Even Jack!!

      Love you and peace


    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Although you wrote this piece to men, as such, it affects women. In my quest for understanding, I came to realize that everyone comes from a different set of life experiences influenced by their own family dynamics, genetics, upbringing and even generational differences. My parents grew up in the Great Depression, which colored their lives in many ways. My mother was temporarily split from her nuclear family at a very young age to live with relatives due to economics. This experience was very traumatizing for her and affected her ability to vest her happiness and security fully in family life. Knowing this made it possible for me to understand her issues. I appreciate the fact that you explain that in your quest to understand your father, your intent was that the knowing brought you healing and your intent was not to blame. This is a beautiful expression of love...for your father, yourself, the women in your life and your children...everyone you love. I think Dust's heartfelt, beautiful commentary is clear evidence that your words will effect many in a positive way. Thank you

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Vern, so this is Christmas? and what have we done?

      Today marks the beginning of the end of chaos, rudeness and unforgiving pushing, shoving and trampling of folks by their peers to get what they must get to perfect the giant hole in their credit cards at all costs? These are the same peers who would be called to set on a jury to pass judgment on you or I had we ended up accused of something we may or may not have done. Scary thought, is it not? While I love people, all of them, only in a brotherly fashion, there are a few that are "Agape" loved, but that list is short.

      To be honest, the greater portion I've never met, they are people just like you, that hold a very special place in my heart because they are able to reach in and squeeze through a crack in the hardened shell and touch the part that makes me need to cry.

      I grew up with dad getting out of bed at 0400, mom cooking his breakfast and packing his lunch and he whisked off to work in the dark. Then his wife would get us up and run the same drill and send us off to school. She didn't like me and sill doesn't, but I don't remember ever liking her much either. Nonetheless, that ritual was carved in our heads that life was going to be that way, the wife caring for the needs of the bread winner. Needless to say life left the 50s behind and women changed what it was they were or were not going to do. 8 years in the Marine Corps and some interesting events twisted my mind up to where no body liked me much. Like my dad, he never talked about his duty and the fact he was an island jumper during his stay in the Marines and fought on several islands only to be moved to the next that was yet to be taken. I found later he was shot through the left forearm and it was just a meat hit and after packing the wound and 2 weeks aboard ship, he was redeployed with a supply of bandages to change the covering every few days. He made it to the great wall of China where he served walking armed guard in the event China was to rise up or Japan was to try and drag them into the war. That lasted until his ship home, at the surrender of Japan, brought him home. His brothers and sisters were the ones who told me that.

      It was a short time after I moved into this hole in the ground that we became friends, he visited often and we sat outside around a fire and talked. He had cancer, he didn't say. So one day he came and asked would I stay with him a while to help him stay home and out of the care unit at a nursing home. I went and stayed and his wife stayed gone. We talked for hours on end. I dressed him every day I got him in the shower seat everyday, I cooked for him, wild game I had brought every day. He talked about the depression and how the rabbit and deer brought back memories. He died in his sleep after only 12 days. So much was left unsaid. I understood his actions in those short days, the answers to why he was such a hard man on me growing up. Why he let me drop out of school after the 8th grade, as it came out he did as well and like me he got his GED in he Marines and in the aftermath of the wars we both went on to use our benefits for higher education. He stayed married to the same wife through times I would not have stomached, because the Bible told him to. My first marriage failed because I was drunk or high 24/7 trying to hide from the contents of my mind. My second marriage ended in a car wreck. After that I just stayed to my self. It seemed that life was different and all I saw were lies. I've got past that and found happiness living with animals and alone here in my bunker; living a humble life of Salvation Army and Goodwill furnishings, no silver or plates that match but are one at a time acquisitions of old world stuff hat I really liked. I have dynamite crates from old mines for end tables and book shelves. In short I found less is good enough and most needs are really wants. If I ever meet a person of values like mine I might let them stay.

      Enough! as I see I'm not sure if this even pertained to your article at all, Just call it my 30 minutes of to finger typing of what came to mind, Peace and love to you, dust


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