Marley Starskey Butler | NooNoo | (029) (2019)
Directed, Photographed and Edited by Marley Starskey Butler featuring his brother Keanu. Thoughts written in February 2018 depicting autumn 2017
"I don’t even want to have children anyway".
Sometimes a sentence shoots in to your mind that seemingly has nothing to do with your thoughts. Some say that this is the difference between loud thoughts, and voices in your head. For something to be defined as a voice in your head, often it is a voice that the listener does not want to occur, surprises them, and or does not understand its origins. In this case, the voice shot in to my head because the universe was trying to give me subtle signs, but in the end, became tired of me not listening. One of these signs was my obsession with the song Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. I would listen to it all the time, spread the lyrics to this song with friends, and make colleagues at work listen to it. I am fully aware that there is always a reason I am drawn to songs, there is an energy that I hear and feel, and the meaning will present itself to me at some point. Sometimes this will be right away, sometimes in a few weeks, sometimes after many years, waiting for me to experience the things in life I needed in order to hear the song for the specific reason I was drawn to it.
I had been feeling the kind of sadness that I had not felt before. For the first time in a long time, part of the sadness had elements of family within. I could not identify specifically how, as it was ambiguous and confusing at the time. All historic sadness that had explicit elements of family in its nature before now, was obvious to me in its connection with my childhood experiences. This time though, I could not pinpoint its derivation. There was a specific moment which occurred, where a simple reason for my sadness could be found, but I knew it was not that. My little brother Keanu had just had his first day at university, moving out of the family home. Me and his grandmother/my mother/nan/auntie/foster carer Ena had helped unpack his things on his first day there. I knew that my sadness could be defined as me missing him, not being able to see him as much, or him growing up and flying the nest which I had flew from a decade prior, but I knew this was not the case. That day of him flying was one of the happiest days of my life, I was proud, and full of love for him and his grandmother, despite this, the sadness within me began the following day.
A week later, during a train journey, came the voice in my head; "I don’t even want to have children anyway". Now anybody that has had a conversation with me since I was a teenager knows this sentence makes no sense, because one of my most repeated sentences is; "I have been broody since I was a kid" This voice stunned me because of its integral lie, therefore it forced me to seriously consider why I heard it. I knew that it was voicing an extreme binary point of view, so I looked at the opposite, which was the notion of heightened, almost unreasonable broodiness. I had in fact been residing within that notion, and it had recently become unreasonable. My broodiness had rose and rose, and in the last year had got to the point where every family set up I witnessed would stir this incredible yearning feeling inside of me. Every father and daughter combination, the sight of babies, young siblings, anything that involved fatherhood or family. This rose and rose until it hit a peak and plateaued in to a deep sadness; the day Keanu moved to university.
The ambiguous family elements to this sadness opened itself up to in front of me. In my early twenties I had the realisation that the the reason my childhood had not fostered serious attachment issues, and destroyed my ability to love, was my attachments to Keanu. The unconditional love I had towards him as a baby when he joined the family home was the reason I was able to love as an adult. Without the experience of him I would not have been able to love. I owe him. Why this is the case is a whole other story.
What I learned from the voice in my head was that when Keanu moved out of the family home, it was symbolic, and then somewhere in my subconscious I was scared that I could no longer love. It was not wrapped in Keanu becoming an adult, he was already an adult a year prior, it was the symbol of him moving out of the family home which me and him lived. There was a parallel process taking place in my subconscious, the closer Keanu got to moving, the broodier I got year by year. My subconscious was preparing me for Keanu’s flight, and wanting me to have my own family in preparation so I could continue to have the ability to love. So when this preparation failed and I had no family of my own, I fell in to deep sadness thinking I could not love.
luckily, all it took was the realisation of what my subconscious was doing all these years to centre me. I was still able to love. This then became a new beginning. It became the first year in my life without the subconscious crutch of Keanu being the only reason I have the ability to love another human being. Yes, he was the foundation, but I have that foundation to keep forever and mould in to new experiences and knowledge. I was no longer unreasonably broody, so I developed a healthy relationship with the creation of a family. My thoughts around fatherhood was no longer wrapped up in a subconscious game of cards. It felt like the first year of my life.