Over 50 Year Old Men Count Too
By Mark Bradman
I’ve grown up for most of my life in the mistaken belief that, as a man, I’m expected to take care of everything myself. Women and children, of course, need my help and support, but I just grit my teeth, “Toughen Up”, and “Be a Real Man”.
Even as the world has slowly started to acknowledge that men may be human after all (thanks to courageous men like John Kirwan speaking out), I’ve still felt this only applied to younger men, not 50+ men like me who “should know better by now”. Whatever ‘mistakes’ I may have made through my 20's - 40's, I should have had my life sorted well and truly out by the time I’m 50 yo. And yet, what I’ve actually found is a whole new set of ‘problems-without-easy-answers’ to have to deal with:
Care of my ageing parents, and their inevitable mortality
Failure of my own physical capacities – eyesight, hearing, memory, hips, knees, etc
When do I retire? Do I even have enough money to retire…?
What am I going to do? Do I even exist unless I’m ‘doing’ (as I’ve been trained to ‘do’ from an early age)?
What is my ‘place’ at home, or is it just the domain of my wife and kids? Where do I fit?
Fortunately, I’ve learned that my 50+ years are just another ‘transition’ in life, my next step – no less challenging than other transitions I’ve had to negotiate over the years – such as stepping out of childhood into adulthood; raising a family through my ‘mid-life’; now heading my way towards retirement – just new pitfalls to dodge… or fall into…
I’m grateful to the Men Being Real workshop for giving me the opportunity to:
To be heard, valued and accepted regardless of what I’m facing in life
To be able to speak what lies ‘unspeakable’ within me
To be able to develop connection and friendship with other men irrespective of my age – it’s never too late…
In the words of another participant:
“I have no regrets from my decision to attend Men Being Real except that I didn’t do it 30 years ago! Or even 1 year ago!”
If you’re a man reading this, perhaps, this is the right time for you to give yourself the space to explore your own ‘transition’ in life, whatever that might be for You?
If you’re a woman reading this, perhaps you can pass this article onto a man you know who might welcome the opportunity to view his life’s struggles in a new light?
Mark Bradman is a member of the Essentially Men Education Trust Network and previously worked for the Trust as the Programme and Marketing Coordinator