Toby Lockyer, 41, Maths Teacher and Yoga Instructor, Oxford Circle
How did you find out about abob?
A friend told me and I saw this sparkle in his eye. I didn’t go to any of the introductory evenings – I went straight on the ‘Beyond the Hero’ weekend. I have always been interested in societal change and personal growth so it seemed a good idea.
How was the weekend?
It opened my eyes to different ways of thinking. For instance, I understood how positive it was to express sadness and anger – emotions that I’d seen as negative before. I’d read about it but I hadn’t practiced this before.
It was an incredible weekend. I felt a deep connection within myself with what it is to be a man. I’d never really had that. I grew up with three sisters and two mothers so I’d learnt a lot about feminism, and how to treat women but not myself and men. In fact, I feel that doing ABoB is my finest feminist work. I trust women more now because I have learnt to stand up and say my truth. I don’t have to suffer silently.
What did you take away from the weekend?
It taught me that I still have something to say. Looking at myself, I may be white, middle-class and privileged, but I still have a valid truth. Before I was suppressing what I really felt and doing what I thought I should do. I learned a middle way.
I learned to connect differently. My relationships with women have improved. I am in a relationship that I don’t think I would be, if it weren’t for ABoB. I broke a pattern of relating where I was always needy and they were always ambivalent as a result.
I’ve also been in counselling with my dad. I’d already been in counselling with my mum.
Have you done other training weekends with ABoB?
Yes, I have and I’ve grown with those too. I’ve done leadership training and can feel myself stepping up. I have also staffed other weekends as a volunteer. It’s a combination of growing myself and supporting other men, young and old, to expand.
And how were the weekly meetings?
I didn’t realize there was so much learning to gain in these weekly meetings. We grew our circle for a year so that we would have firm foundations. I always felt that I was a better person at the end; a better man.
How did your relationship with ABoB develop?
In the second year, I committed to a few more organisational things like cooking for everyone and organising events.
And you became a mentor yourself?
Yes, I did but it was very tough for me. I’m a perfectionist and I had expectations of how I could support this young man and transform his life.
But it didn’t turn out that way. He stopped communicating with me half way through. I was disappointed and needed to rebuild things.
It was a big learning curve for me and I will take a lot of insight into the next mentoring relationship.
How do you see your future with ABoB?
Very much in the direction of training new men. That’s where my passion lies. I see myself being a part of ABoB for years to come. I feel much more connected to men in general now.