Just like the legendary Greek hero Perseus, each time I slay a demon in my life, I find another one standing defiantly in my path. I have had to face and conquer the fear and loss of losing smoking, drugs, alcohol, my career, my marriage and my home. Each personal battle was tough, but it seems there was always something bigger and badder just waiting for me around the corner. I now face my biggest challenge and one that Perseus would understand. I am battling with the demon known as the fatherless son.
During my time at the Landmark Forum I was coached that most people walking this earth will be incomplete with one, or both, of their parents. In order to become complete we had to speak to our parents and tell them exactly how we had been feeling over the years, ask for forgiveness and offer up a new possibility. I spoke to both of my parents, but firstly I spoke to my Dad and covered the conversation in my blog post Pick Of The Week: The Parental Rulebook.
I am writing this blog post from Las Vegas. I am working out here for 8-weeks during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) as a writer for PokerNews and PartyPoker. This is the second year that I have worked at the WSOP and for everyone involved in the poker industry it is the only place to earn money at this time of the year. The schedule means that a lot of parents are away from their children for a very long time. This absence brings about a dilemma that I am struggling to find the right answer to, but am determined to get it right: not just for me but for other father-son relationships in the world.
One of the reasons I felt abandoned by my father when I was younger was because he always worked abroad. I never saw him and when I did he showed no warmth, love or affection. I never realised it back then, but I must have harboured a deep resentment towards his behaviour throughout my life. Ironically you become your parents as you grow older, but just like the alien in the movie The Thing you become more of an hybrid rather than just a carbon copy.
I have found myself working in a trade that takes me abroad for long periods of time. I am 37-years of age, and although this is not my one true calling, for now I love what I do and the experiences I have. When I am home I want to shower my son with love and affection (this is the difference between my father and I) but I find it very difficult to do so because of my divorce. I see my son for 3-hours on a Thursday and an overnight stay on a Friday. I just can’t seem to cram in enough love and affection during this time. When I am working away I feel guilt. My parental instincts tell me that I should be at home, but what would I do to earn money and fill in the other areas of my life that a son cannot fill.
This week my son rang me and told me he missed me. He wanted me to choose him instead of my job. If I loved him why would I choose to be away from him? It was the toughest phone call I have had to take in my life. I imagine fathers and mothers around the world have had similar calls. After all you just need to look at military service to see that poker is not the only job that takes you away from those you love. I have left one job before. I was extremely unhappy in my work and fortunate to be offered a years salary to leave. That gave me the confidence to find something more aligned whilst allowing me the security to look after my family financially. So I know I could leave this one as well. I can just walk away and find something else and yet I don’t want to. So this then conjures up the age-old debate of whether or not I am being a good father?
So here I am standing at the edge of the sea. The mighty Gorgon stands in my way and my son is shackled to a little island just offshore. The next question – just like Perseus face – is what the hell do I do next?
Do you have a job that takes you away from your family for long periods of time? How do you manage and find the right balance?
Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney (Flickr.com)