“My father is the perfect example of all the things I don’t want in a man…”
When I was a little girl, I used to watch Tyler Perry plays all.the.time. My very first and last play I saw live, was Madea Goes to Jail at the Fox Theater in Detroit. My mom decided to take me, and coincidentally it was on Fathers Day. It had also been about 1 year since my biological father had gone to Prison. I appreciate my mom for doing that for me. Since I’m older, on Fathers day or any day that brings about negative feelings and emotions, I know to do something to shift the narrative of what that day meant for me.
If you’re like me, having grown up without a dad, this day may or may not trigger some uncomfortable thoughts and emotions.This past fathers day however, I stayed home. Mainly because I’m still in-quarantine. But I also did some reflecting, crying, and processing of some difficult emotions. So, at this point in my journey, I’ve come up with at least 6 Things My Absent Father Has Taught Me.
1. People are people
When my father first went to prison, my siblings and I didn’t receive any real help to process the grief and life change in general. But people in my family felt it was necessary for me to have a relationship with my father. I wasn’t old enough to think for myself for real, so being encouraged to accept collect calls, read letters, and visit my dad was, on the surface…ok. It wasn’t until my great-aunt had passed away that I’d had enough of being treated like I was the reason for others mistakes. Or that I was obligated to deal with people that caused me stress or to feel some kind of way just because we are blood-related. And I say blood related, because as I have grown, I decided who gets to be considered my family, blood or not. You don’t get to disrespect me or project your wounds onto me just because you refuse to do your inner healing work.
2. Boundaries are Important
Apparently, at age 19, no one was going to make the decision for me to finally begin detaching from my dad altogether. When I did, I was being questioned by some family members as if I was the one who had committed the murder. But nevertheless, I made the decision and stuck with it. I started by reaffirming to myself why I made the choice in the first place when I thought to respond to any of my dad’s messages or messages he’d send through other family members.
The truth is, it was not easy setting these boundaries. I had no sense of direction to really implement them. I knew it had to be done though. First thing I did was tell myself “Yes” and tell others “No”
3. I need love that doesn’t require me to suffer for it first
That struggle love gives me very much “ghetto” and it upsets me and my homegirls. For the sake of my mental, emotional, and spiritual health, I like my love stable, nurturing, fun, passionate, and protective. I recently shared with a guy friend of mine that I wanted to refrain from using the word “vulnerable” after we’ve expressed our feelings for or to one another. Vulnerable literally means “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” If I’m opening up to you, I shouldn’t have to worry about whether my love will be thrown back in my face or used against me. Shouldn’t have to ride or die to prove my love is worthy enough. So keep that struggle love…
4. Self-love is the best love
I’ve tried avoiding resonating with the labels of “the black sheep of the family” or “the outcast”. I’ve spent years of refining myself to avoid “backlash” or negative opinions of others. And within those same years, I’ve been unhappy. Also dependent on the need of validation and approval from family. Circumstances of living back at home encouraged these thoughts and behaviors. But to reiterate, nobody was going to make the decision for me; to love myself as I truly am and aspire to be. Remembering that loving myself was my solution to these issues, helped me establish independence, use tools from therapy, begin retracing my ancestral spiritual roots, and more. If I didn’t bet on myself, even in my darkest times, I wouldn’t have been able to write this blog sharing my truths with you.
5. Apologies mean nothing without changed behaviors
My dad has spent then last 15 years “apologizing” with “buts” following them each time. Now, since he’s in a predicament where he can’t physically show me, I understand the limitation. Since that’s the case, you would think maybe trying to obtain sound advice or resolve any issues I may have had with his behaviors prior to him going to prison would be the next step in developing our relationship right? Nope. Let’s just say that it’s best for my mental health to maintain no-contact all.
6. Daddy Issues are Real
Chile, I don’t even know where to start with this topic and my experience. So ima just keep it real; I’ve looked for my dad in other men. A very underrated rapper once said “I’m not that good at handling you good n*ggas. I mean I’m not that hood, but I can manage hood n*ggas” and since the environment I had been in nurtured and bred emotionally unavailable, misogynistic, hyper-masculine black men, the selection of…the idea of something…different, was slim to none. So it took me beginning to face my shadows #shadowwork to began seeing how not having a stable father figure in my life influenced me to make some self-destructive decisions, admit that I have struggled with low-self worth, confidence, and more.
Father wounds cut deep in the black community. From mothers having to take on several roles when being a single-parent, to co-parenting with someone who’s not the easiest to “get along” with. Not all black fathers are created equal, but it’s safe to say that the figure is needed in the home, especially in the developing stages of a child. These are topics you an research to get more insight on, but I want to know what are you experiences with having an absent father? #BeUnspoken in the comments below.
P.s. I want to thank all of you for checking out this blog post, it really took a lot of “you got this” and “woosah” to write it.