Ben Parkes, 38, yoga teacher, Trowbridge
How did you know about MKP?
A friend told me. It was seven years ago and just the right time for me.
What stage in your life were you at?
I was lost and disillusioned. My marriage had ended. I had started with AA and realized that I was an alcoholic. I was asking myself what it was to be a man? I didn’t feel like a man. I’d split up with my wife because I told her that I wouldn’t have children and she really wanted children. I loved her dearly and this was heartbreaking. I didn’t know how to put it any other way at the time. I also didn’t understand why. I had started drinking because it was all so painful.
What were your ideas about being a man at that time?
The role models of men all around me were about football, fighting and shagging. I felt like a complete outsider in these man stakes. I didn’t have any good male role models around me who cared and loved me.
Did you know anything about the NWTA weekend?
No, and I was really fearful around doing it. But I trusted my intuition for once.
How was the weekend?
I learnt where my power was, and how powerful I was. I found out how it felt to be a man and to stand on this earth. It restored my warrior and also my self-belief. Men there were loving, accountable and they also challenged you with love.
Did you get in touch with feelings that you weren’t expecting to?
I reclaimed my grief, which had been locked away. I found power in my anger. I had always mistrusted men because my unhealthy relationship with my father. I thought they would damage me like he did. I put my soul into the hands of these men, which was a terrifying experience. In return, I received love and support.
What effect did it have on your relationships?
Well my learning with my dad is ongoing. We’ve had quite a few confrontations. I harnessed my rage to find my power. I was able to feel a lot of joy afterwards. I was shiny and bright. I went in a boy and came out a man. It was the first time that I’d really felt like a man.
How were the i-groups afterwards?
Very important. I changed my work schedule to fit them in. For me, they provided maintenance re my changes. I’m still learning to be a man and what that means. And a human being.
How did you become a yoga teacher?
I’d had loads of jobs including being journalist but somehow my self-belief was never there. But after the weekend, my confidence gradually grew. And I moved into teaching yoga.
How about your relationships?
I have three children now with my partner, Tara. Doing MKP work allowed me to realize that it was a fear of becoming a father like mine, this prevented me becoming a father before. I got stuck there. The two boys came after staffing NWTAs and the girl came without that!
How do you see the future for yourself and MKP?
One of the places that MKP has allowed me to step into – is leadership, which was another foreign place to me before. This kind of leadership means stepping into the kind of life that I have envisioned for myself – one of compassion, meeting the neighbours, connection as well as stepping up to the plate around leadership in terms of standing up for what I believe in. I started a father’s group. And joined a singing group. I also lead the i-group sometimes and I want to learn to do other leadership roles within MKP so that I can bring some of this support to other men.
As far as MKP is concerned, I’d like there to be more i-groups so more men can access it. Also more Open Evenings so that we can invite other men along. I’d also love there to be one permanent MKP centre so that we can run weekends there.