David Freud

This is my story – David Freud, Artist, Brighton Circle

How did you find out about ABoB?

One of the Brighton ABoB men who’s also an artist came down to have a coffee with me. I live in Worthing. He actually wanted to talk to me about helping with fund-raising. I did a 24 hour paint-a-thon for ABoB and also invited some of my wealthier friends to a fund-raising dinner in Brighton.

What happened next?

First of all, I went to one of the Homecomings for the young men where they talk about their experiences with ABoB and are honoured for their positive qualities. It was so delightful. I was so happy to see young men, who had often had challenging lives and backgrounds, being celebrated with such warmth and passion. I saw them being cherished and that filled me with a desire to get more involved.

How was the ‘Beyond The Hero’ weekend for you?

I was completely unprepared for that weekend in the muddy woods in 2012. But I survived! I had trained as a psychotherapist but I didn’t know anything about this rites of passage work.

Particularly important for me was that I managed to find some peace with my father who had died a year earlier. This allowed me to let go of so much emotional baggage and go much further into myself. I grew up without a father around and I was unacknowledged by him so there was a lot to process!

I found a group of men that I felt safe enough with that I could take down some of my protective shell. It made me understand that secrets and pride weren’t serving me. And then I could let in a bit of love too. So many things opened up for me afterwards.

What was the main effect of growing up without access to your father?

My self-esteem was very low. ABoB really helped me with that. I started to be able to speak from the heart without always checking to see that I was saying the right thing for everyone. I had learnt to please people. I edited out my vulnerability. From ABoB I learnt that it was okay to make mistakes and that I wasn’t going to be demonized for it afterwards. They opened that door for me.

How were the weekly circles for you?

It was wonderful to have men there who would model speaking from the heart for me. This lifted a blockage from my throat. These are men who have become my best friends, my community. They are invaluable. They are people that I feel loved by and show love to.

Has involvement with ABoB affected your paintings?

I am freer there too. I was able to let go into being more of myself in my paintings. My next show has been inspired by some of the work that we do in ABoB. It’s about triggers and blind spots, areas that we’re constantly looking at in ourselves at the meetings and during weekends. We look at our behaviours – for instance potential violence – and see what other options there are. This supports both the older and younger men.