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Scylla Rhiadra

The Men Who Have Made a Difference in Your Life

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So, @Amina Sopwith has noted that today is International Men's Day. I think it would be a good thing to celebrate that by highlighting the men in our lives (however you may gender yourself) who have made or are making a difference.

I'll start, with four men (I could add many more), two from RL and two from SL.

First, my dad. My father is a passionate idealist, and really smart man, and accomplished at pretty much anything he's undertaken, but more than all that, for me, he was the one who, from as far back as I can remember, made me feel as though I was someone whose existence was important, and valuable, and something to be celebrated. When I was a kid, my dad would watch for signs of the things that most interested me, and he would nurture these in me, and encourage me to pursue them. My father strongly supported (emotionally and, at times, financially) my choice of education and career. It was he, more even than my mother (who is also wonderful), who saw the first stirrings of my interest in feminism, and bought me my first feminist book (Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex; OMG it was a slog, but it changed my life). So much of who I am is his fault.

Next, my RL partner. I won't talk much about him, because he really wouldn't want me to, but I will say that in providing a loving and endlessly supportive place for me, he has helped me achieve a kind of emotional stability that I really needed. Wherever he is, is home, and that home is always a place where I know that I have space to move and explore and grow, and that what I say, and what I believe, will matter.

In Second Life, I have  a number of men friends, old and new, but I'll start off with an old one. He's a bit of a goof, he tells terrible jokes, and he says and does things that have me facepalming constantly, but he is also someone with whom I feel entirely comfortable and free to be myself, and to whom I can say practically anything. He has forgiven me much that probably doesn't merit forgiveness, and there is no one with whom I more enjoy slightly idiotic rapid fire banter. He's pretty much a constant presence in the background of my SL, IMing me to say utterly stupid things that make me laugh. Just knowing he's there makes a difference. (And I'm not going to tell him I posted this because it will give him a swelled head, and he's bad enough in that regard already.)

And finally, a newer male friend whom I've known for, I guess, a little less than a year, but who is sweet, and unassuming, and affectionate, and takes me dancing, and even flatters me that I've changed his mind about things. He chatters at me excitedly about his passions and interests, and said just last night that I was "kind of his SL bestie." It may be an illusion, but he helps me believe that my presence in SL is making a bit of a difference to someone else. And that makes a huge difference to me.

So, who are the men who have made a difference in your life?

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My Dom/husband, whom I met on SL, and whom I miss every day.

My brother, whom I also miss every day. 

My grandfather. I miss him every day too but he had a good innings.

My son. God I love him.

Mr Harrison. I wouldn't have applied to Oxford if you hadn't made me.

The male staff members at my son's nursery. They are the best and my son adores them.

My driving instructor from years ago. Thanks Stefan, I know that wasn't easy, even if you did make a lot of money out of it.

My boss. You're a gem.

My male friends for being, between them, every single possible incarnation of what it means to be a good man.

I guess my dad. I miss him too, not for all the right reasons but ultimately I guess he did his best. 

 

 

Edited by Amina Sopwith
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My first RL husband introduced me to a wider range of classical music than I knew; I'd always loved it but knew no-one well who had an equal interest.  He also shared my love of story-telling, and encouraged me to build a village out of Plasticine, with its own backstory.  Oh, and he loved the woollen cat I made for him, which made me feel appreciated.  Until I met him I honestly was never loved, and although it wasn't an ideal romance it gave me a real sense of what it meant.

My oldest friend in SL doesn't play any more so we communicate in other ways.  We've helped each other in various ways without ever meeting in RL.  I know I could trust him with my life and vice versa.

My latest friend gave me the first substantial conversation I've had in months, which was astonishing and unexpected, and he is pivotal to a new direction I'm taking in SL.  After all this time there are still new things to discover. :) 

Edited by Garnet Psaltery
Edited the font.
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Edit: Had some nice stuff here, but then the thread turned to abusive dads, and then abusive moms and I don't want either of my parents mentioned in in this thread anymore. 

Edited by Beth Macbain
Thread went negative, as per usual.
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3 minutes ago, Beth Macbain said:

My dad, without a doubt, was and still is the greatest man I've ever known.

This. All this for me. He was a real asskicker, take-names-later type. I cannot count the number of times I hated him for it, and today, I cannot possibly thank him enough. I am who and what I am because of him most of all and I genuinely like what and who I am.

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8 minutes ago, Beth Macbain said:

God, I miss him (them) so much.

Amazing story, Beth. Your dad sound absolutely wonderful. (As does your mother!)

You're so lucky to have been a part of who he was, and what they were together.

 

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52 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

My son. God I love him.

Awwwww. 🙂

And Stefan sounds pretty cool too. One of the reasons I've never learned to drive is terror at the thought of having to learn.

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55 minutes ago, Garnet Psaltery said:

it wasn't an ideal romance

I don't know many that are (although Beth's parents sound as though they came close).

I don't know that we're any of us really "built" for "ideal"? Humans are way too messy. But somehow, out of all that chaos and turmoil, and miscommunication and conflicting goals, love can emerge. And that makes all the difference in the world. I'm always a bit amazed at the capacity people sometimes exhibit for even loving me. But that they do is why I'm so immensely grateful for the men on my list.

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Oh, this'll be easy, Scylla.

First...Dad.

He's been ever-present in my decade of storytelling here, so that shouldn't surprise anyone. He was passionate, pragmatic, highly skeptical and, though he'd never admit it, an idealist. He was the best at what he did, whatever it was, and he could do anything (except run his business like a damned business, a deficit I clearly inherited). I wouldn't say he made me feel as though my existence was to be celebrated, but more that it was a gift to be appreciated. It took my parents nearly 20 years of "trying" to produce me (and only me), so there was no doubt in my mind that I was appreciated, but it was not a free ride. Both Mom and Dad admitted that trying to produce me had been challenging, but also a lot of fun, so "don't get a big head over it".

It was clear from early on that I would take after him, not mom. I loved getting my fingers in, and was curious about, every damned thing. I provided the perfect excuse for Dad to haul out his inner child, and for Mom to proudly proclaim she had two children, born 50 years apart. "Hi, Kids!!!" was her daily affirmation of this. Until I moved away to graduate school, he was my constant companion in chaos. Years later, I would have the great and nervous pleasure of hiring him to help my design team. I didn't reveal our relationship (the company president knew) until people started thinking it was impossible for two people to be so very odd without sharing genes. I am my father's daughter.

It was bittersweet when Alzheimer's took him away. Bitter in that the magnificent man who'd raised me was fading away, but sweet in that the little boy inside was playful and happy to the very end. He was the best playmate I'll ever have.

My ex-hubby is pretty cool, too. I don't know what he saw in me and if you ask him now, he won't know either. For the dozen years we were together, he was a reliable sounding board and tolerant of my odd sense of humor. He was self confident enough to be an idiot in broad daylight, taking pressure off me and endearing him to my father (who paid him handsomely to marry me, and demanded the money back at our divorce). I received bittersweet news just this morning. He's been promoted to nearly C-suite level in his company and will be relocating, with his family, to the Twin Cities. I've been "Aunt Maddy" to his four kids, and co-confidant to his wife, so this will be a serious loss for me. I may finally have to make good on my promise to start hosting get-togethers for friends and neighbors, as my parents did when I was young. It's difficult, it's exhausting, I don't like it, but it's good for me.

Mac (my pseudo adopted, 25yr old asshat) is making a big difference in my life. There appears to be nothing I can do to stop it. I blame Dad for starting me down this road by caring for him when he was little. I can't forget seeing Mac sitting in his lap when he was barely two, while Dad read books to him, and watching Dad haul out his inner kid for a third lap around the joys of being a child. Like so many of the remodeling projects Dad started and never finished, I'll pick up the hammer and saw and keep working on Mac. To his credit, Mac, like every other man who's important to me, tolerates me. Maybe that's all it takes to be special to me?

In SL, @Parhelion Palou has probably made the biggest difference. He doesn't know it, he won't believe it, and we can all laugh at how he did it. Years ago, he gifted me the "Li'l Devil" avatar. That's all it took, but he was the one to recognize and act on it. His inner child (he has the male "Li'l Devil") saw the potential and I'm powerless to resist it.

@Beth Macbain Dad first saw Mom at a bar (Dirty Helen's Sunflower Inn) in Milwaukee, in 1947. He told his buddy "That's the woman I'm gonna marry." Two weeks later(!), she proposed to him. Four years later (?!) they married.

Edited by Madelaine McMasters
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14 minutes ago, Alyona Su said:

I cannot count the number of times I hated him for it, and today, I cannot possibly thank him enough.

lol

There's an element of this with my dad too. When we argued, he was a juggernaut. He convinced me that he was right only maybe half of the time -- and I'd get soooo frustrated I'd become irrational and emotional, and even on the verge of tears -- but I never lost sight of how he felt about me. And even those experiences made me stronger.

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4 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

Oh, this'll be easy, Scylla.

Your dad, and your ex, and Mac have, for me, become like favourite characters from a much-loved novel I like to dip into every once in a while. And it's always obvious to me, whenever I do, how much the narrator cherishes and loves them. Which is, of course, part of their appeal.

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2 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

lol

There's an element of this with my dad too. When we argued, he was a juggernaut. He convinced me that he was right only maybe half of the time -- and I'd get soooo frustrated I'd become irrational and emotional, and even on the verge of tears -- but I never lost sight of how he felt about me. And even those experiences made me stronger.

Dad was also a juggernaut and incredibly good at provoking self destruction. He was right well more than half the time but was most instructive when handily winning an argument while being knowingly wrong.

I'd walk down to the beach now to kick some of his ashes around, but Lake Michigan has taken the beach, and some of him (I have more ashes in a jar here somewhere) away.

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1 minute ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

That amazes a lot of us, Scylla.

You'll have noticed that I have yet to post a thread entitled "The Madelaines Who Have Made a Difference in Your Life."

😎

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Mr. Sennhenn, my teacher in high school English and Literature.  He was a little, wizened martinet who constantly challenged me in a subject I thought I was already pretty good in.  Remember John Houseman's character of Professor Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase"?  Like that.

Neil Armstrong.  I met him before he became the First Man on the Moon, but after he'd become one of the first astronauts.  He taught me that heroes and icons are also just regular people.

Richard Feynman.  I never met Doctor Feynman, but I learned from him to never stop being curious and asking questions.  Along with him, Doctor Martin Jischke, one of my engineering professors.  Dr. Jischke would pick up a piece of chalk at the start of class and begin at the left side of the room with a first principle, like F=ma.  From this, he would fill all the boards with one equation after another, lecturing nonstop clearly and without notes, until at the end of the hour he had explained how to design a rocket nozzle, or an airplane wing.  He taught me what Knowing Your S*it looks like.

Robert A. Heinlein.  Another man I never met, but whom I have always admired and learned from.

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Oh boy! I don't know my father. He left when I was three, after having an affair with my mothers teenage cousin. I saw him rarely until I was ten, but have only unpleasant memories. He lives a mile away and we are strangers. My grandfather died suddenly when I was seven. My mother had men friends for a long time but I never got on with any of them.

This all sounds very dark, and yet........ my growing up made me strong, and independent. The only person I could rely on was me. I had to fix things. I learned skills, often the hard way. It made me a survivor, and so my father, by being who he was had a profound positive effect on who I am. Had he been around, there would have been conflict.

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16 minutes ago, BelindaN said:

Oh boy! I don't know my father. He left when I was three, after having an affair with my mothers teenage cousin. I saw him rarely until I was ten, but have only unpleasant memories. He lives a mile away and we are strangers. My grandfather died suddenly when I was seven. My mother had men friends for a long time but I never got on with any of them.

This all sounds very dark, and yet........ my growing up made me strong, and independent. The only person I could rely on was me. I had to fix things. I learned skills, often the hard way. It made me a survivor, and so my father, by being who he was had a profound positive effect on who I am. Had he been around, there would have been conflict.

Well, I'm a little saddened by your story, Belinda. But I can't be sorry about what it has helped make you, and who you've become.

Anyway, hugs. 🙂

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my grandfather, who I spent a lot of time with growing up as a child. My grandfather had the time to teach me the how and why of things

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1.  My dad for adopting me and never making me feel any different to my brothers and sisters.  I have never recovered from losing him.  I talk to him all the time and feel cheated my youngest will never remember the man he was named after as he was only 9 months old when the cancer took him.  

2, 3, and 4  My wonderful amazing sons.  All so unique and different in their own ways.  

5  My SL Partner of 10 years.  The man I can talk to about absolutely anything and no matter what he won't judge me.  The man I can have a real humdinger of a disagreement with and know that is ok and we will hash it out with no bad feelings. 

6. My SL bestie.  Another man I can talk to about absolutely nothing for hours on end and it he makes me laugh when he knows I need it.

7. Jurgen Klopp.  The man who lifted the hearts of half my city and made us believe.

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What will become clear in this thread, if it isn't already, is that someone needn't be a positive influence in your life for you to extract positivity from them. 

In such cases, the credit goes to...

...you.

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7 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

What will become clear in this thread, if it isn't already, is that someone needn't be a positive influence in your life for you to extract positivity from them. 

In such cases, the credit goes to...

...you.

Quite true.  I nearly mentioned my second husband, who put me down every day and liked to demonstrate painful martial art techniques on me.  From him I learned never to let anyone treat me like that again, no matter how much easier it would be to stay, or how scary the big world can be without a partner.

Edited by Garnet Psaltery
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The title of this OP just says Made A Difference and doesn't specify good or bad difference. So my eye twitched a little and my foot tapped, because several men in my life made huge impacts on my life but in negative ways. But I realize that the intent of the post was probably to highlight the positive, and I think I can keep this to being a net-positive comment.

I never knew any of my grandfathers or uncles. The only man in my immediate family circle was my father. Dad was an abusive alcoholic, but he was also just incredibly brilliant and talented. He was a grumpy bigot too, which makes this next part all the more strange and wonderful. Dad had three daughters, no sons. Despite his horrible positions about race, he never once made any of us girls feel less than because we were girls. Quite the opposite. We were expected to do our best and succeed. There were never any qualifications about doing well for a girl. Being a girl was no excuse not to do something. I am so grateful for that gift. I was an adult before I realized that the rest of the world didn't necessarily feel that way.

Okay, there was the male high school guidance counselor who flat out told me that girls can't be engineers, which is of course one reason I chose a double-major, one of which was mechanical engineering... So there was that affect. :)

My ex-husband and I remain friends, although we speak infrequently. One of the fun differences he made in my life was that through his work we travelled Europe for weeks and sometimes months.

My SL ex-partner (met in SL) is my very bestest friend forever. Quite simply without him in my life I would literally be dead. I think that qualifies as a difference.

Edited by Seicher Rae
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41 minutes ago, Seicher Rae said:

My SL ex-partner (met in SL) is my very bestest friend forever. Quite simply without him in my life I would literally be dead. I think that qualifies as a difference.

Yeah, I'd say that qualifies, Seicher. I think we all owe him thanks for that.

There is sometimes this odd assumption, almost a cultural meme, that a woman's bffs must, necessarily, always be women -- as though there were some truth to the old notion that a man and a woman can't become close without sexuality in some way interposing itself. Sure, frequently that kind of relationship can spring from one that was, at one point, romantic or sexual. But the funny thing is that many, maybe even most of us, have really close male friends. We just tend to think of ourselves as the "exception" to rule that we are ourselves actually disproving.

46 minutes ago, Seicher Rae said:

The title of this OP just says Made A Difference and doesn't specify good or bad difference. So my eye twitched a little and my foot tapped, because several men in my life made huge impacts on my life but in negative ways. But I realize that the intent of the post was probably to highlight the positive, and I think I can keep this to being a net-positive comment.

Yes, the whole rationale behind International Men's Day, and in a different way, International Women's Day, is a bit odd unless you think about it. No one is "good" by virtue of the fact that they belong to one gender or another, and it's a bit silly, on the face of it, to celebrate "men" or "women" for the mere fact that they are men and women.

The real justification for International Women's Day (about which I have frequently posted here, on 8 March) is maybe reasonably obvious: we're celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of women to a culture that, until pretty recently, was willing to give them little scope to participate outside of the domestic sphere, and was slow to acknowledge when they did. So, that makes some sense.

International Men's Day to me makes sense only in the context of rethinking, at some level, what men's accomplishments and contributions are. In the "good old days," those would be things like winning wars, exploring and conquering, building big or exciting things, and making history-changing discoveries. Now, I think to some degree, it's about redefining that role and celebrating the fact that men can do those things, yes (for good or ill), but they are not limited to those sorts of things. Now, their accomplishments can be things like nurturing and teaching children, supporting women, building a more just society -- things, some of them anyway, that used to be the woman's sphere. That's incredibly cool, that we can now celebrate a man, not merely because he's a successful businessman or politician or engineer, but because he's a great dad.

I hope men understand that this isn't a diminishing of their social role. I honour them for it.

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