10 years on, ”then it got weird”


Think about your close friends, how often do you see them? Maybe you’ve seen them every month for the last ten years… Pretty bloody unlikely isn’t it! Life gets in the way, family, kids, work, Netflix, other stuff comes up, and we don’t have that regular contact with the people closest to us? Stuff gets it the way, right?

I’m very lucky that I have sat at a Men’s Table for ten years; we’ve met once a month with the same group of men 120 times. We are outliers because this is not the norm and men don’t do this kind of stuff. In fact, with today’s lifestyles, community and connections are often a second thought.

Stop and think about that… why are we really here? Some of the best times I have had have been sitting around a table with friends and family with home cooked food and some great wine. When you think about genuine, open, honest connections, other things like getting a project in on time, getting a pat on the back from the boss, watching an amazing TV drama, or buying a new car, all pale into nothing much at all.

Sitting with this amazing group of men started quite clunkily in a private room, upstairs in a restaurant on Crown Street in Surry Hills, Sydney. We fumbled around with what to say and we had some very basic guidelines we used to make sure we were talking about what was really going on. The number settled at twelve men, which has turned out to be the magic number, and each man committed to turn up at least nine times a year. The restaurant closed and we moved the venue around a bit but we struggled to find the right, private spot; so now the Table, now known at MT1 meets at each other’s homes.

Over ten years we have been privileged to become a brotherhood, a group of men travelling through life together. One thing I can say is that over the ten years, every single man at the Table has been on the rollercoaster of life; not one man has escaped some kind of shit going on in their life. We have all shared and supported the weight of death, separation, financial stress, business failure, divorce, struggles with children, more death, isolation issues, self doubt, depression, anxiety and a host of other painful and very human issues. Phew, it sounds grim doesn’t it! I can assure you that it would be grimmer if I was not sitting at a Table. If I was a man trying to navigate some of those issues on my own, life would be pretty bleak. I am thankful that I have a place where I can put my feelings on the Table and by doing that my life is lighter.

So you are probably thinking, “Well that sounds like one big pity party”, and you would be wrong to think that. We have cried with laughter at our Table many times. We have also had moments of clarity and brilliant resolutions where men have had a change of heart, or a shift in mindset, and gone on to change their situations, and changed their lives around while being supported to do that. We have seen men totally unburden themselves of some pain they have carried around with them for decades, maybe since they were a child.

The Table is a place where burdens are lifted, a place where the other men can help you clear your table of the ‘dirty dishes’. I’ve seen men walk out of the room lighter, happier and free of some pain they walked in with..

We have cried, we have hugged, we have supported each other at the Table and between Tables. We have also laughed; we have laughed out loud together as a group of men, as a group of brothers. Every time I hear the phrase “then it got weird” I smile to myself and my heart warms because there was a moment in time, a time at the Table when a man told such a great, funny story that we have now adopted that phrase at the Table. I’m smiling now as I remember the story. I smile every time I hear that phrase from any of the men I sit with.

Come and find out more about The Men’s Table at one of our Entrees. I promise it won’t get weird 🙂

~ Ben Hughes

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