Monday, August 12, 2013

On Daddyless Daughters...(Part Une)

Oprah, the Great, did a two part Life Class called "Daddyless Daughters". In this series she explored the woes of women raised "daddyless". Daddyless was defined a couple different ways in the series but the only one I'll focus on in this post is the absent father because that's the category I fit in.

My story is not unlike most children with absent fathers. At some point between my conception and birth my father decided I wasn't worthy of his presence, time, love, etc. I grew up without him. I remember meeting him at some point...I think I was about 7 or 8 and he came around for 2 days I believe. It could be my child mind making time seem drawn out but I definitely remember him spending at least the entire day with me. I remember being so excited. He showed me videos of my older brother playing football and told me how we'd love each other when we met. I knew of my younger sister who was by his wife at the time. He gave me his number and said I could call him whenever and he'd be there yada yada yada. This is where memory gets fuzzy because I can't remember if it was the next day or weeks later but I remember him coming over again to have a talk with me. I don't remember any of his words but he said what I now know to have been a goodbye because I didn't speak with him for years after that. Anyway, I called him and I remember his wife hanging up on me sometimes, or sometimes leaving me on hold so long I eventually hung up, or telling me he wasn't there...which could have very well been true or he could have been doing the whole "shaking his head no" in the background or...whatever. [She later apologized for her behavior btw.] I remember I finally gave up calling...probably with my mother's encouragement.

So I continued my life daddyless. Growing a hatred for him, it wasn't something that consumed me (at the time) but it was there.

When I was "graduating" from 8th grade I wanted to call his mother and tell them how I "did it without them" because, you know,...graduating 8th grade is a big accomplishment and all hahaha. My mom gave me a phone book and told me her name and street...ain't that some shit, I had to find my biological grandmother in a phone book...but anyway, I looked it up and gave her a ring. She answered and after some initial introduction she knew exactly who "her grandbaby" was *eyerolls*. I told her how I was graduating 8th grade with no help from any of them...she promised me she'd be at the graduation if I told her the day and time. I obliged. She showed up and brought him with her, and he brought my older brother. I finally met my sibling I'd heard so much about! [Now would be a good time to tell you that I knew exactly where he was, he my older brother and he my father. You see, Detroit isn't that big (especially when your older brother is one of the best athletes in the state) and my older brother played football for a team that my aunt's new husband coached father also coached the team. My brother played football with my older cousin and another one of my cousin's went to the same high school. He was "hidden in plain sight" if you will. I later found out that my new uncle had confronted my father about it which I think has something to do with why he showed to the graduation.] I was immediately enamored by my older brother...I always wanted to be able to say "my big brother gone kick [insert boy's name] butt" hahaha. Perhaps too much television but the idea appealed to me lol.

Anyway, I'll cut out some details but this was the beginning of attempts to build a relationship that lasted throughout high school. I found out I had another brother, who I call my "ghetto twin" because I'm a month older than him. I found out none of my other siblings knew about my existence, which my father blamed on the fact that I moved to Texas. Which I did move to Texas when I was an infant because my single mother needed assistance from her parents who were in Texas, I had been back in Detroit since I was 5 but he gave them the impression that I just got back ha! I grew a relationship with my siblings. My father got married to another woman and had another child (he should seriously be neutered). Then it all ended. It ended about a week after my high school graduation. He was bitter he didn't get a ticket to in my defense, I only had 5 tickets and I graduated in a park. Everyone was welcome but tickets guaranteed a seat under the pavilion while those without tickets had to sit on the grass. Secondly, even during our 4 year "relationship" he still wasn't a star dad so of the top 5 people that helped me get across that stage...he didn't make the cut. Supposedly he came but left before I could see him. The week following my graduation was a banquet for a scholarship I was awarded. The banquet was $100/plate and I got two tickets. The perfect number for my mother and little sister (my mom's second child, who I was raised with). I didn't mention it to him because I mean I really didn't mention it to anyone since the tickets were so expensive. Well this was another blow to his ego because the owner of the foundation that gave me the scholarship was mutual friends of his and my mother. So the lady (who my little sister calls Auntie) mentioned his absence at his daughter's honor. He called me upset because he wasn't invited despite "everything he's done for me" and how he "could have helped me out in college because of blah blah blah connection". I'll just say Mama Bear handled that situation and I've never spoken to him since.

Now, I've never wanted to admit being hurt or lacking something because of his absence. I felt it would be disrespectful to my mother who did an amazing job, if I must say so myself :) I also had a very active grandfather, uncles and later a stepfather who were all willing father figures to me. In college an experience made me finally admit what I had known...I was scarred by having an absent father.

During college, I (let's say dated to spare my mother's feelings) dated a guy. We were not serious and it was fun. One time, I forgot why, I asked him something about if you could tell when a girl was raised without a father...he said, yes. I asked how and he said "you [general] just can." He later went on to actually date a girl who was raised in a two parent household (of course we had other differences and in fairness they were a better 'fit'). This is not to vilify him because I agreed to the terms and conditions and was fully aware of what we were (or weren't) but the situation changed me. It was the single experience that made me admit my issue...self worth. It has to be the bright neon sign plastered on most daddyless daughters' forehead right? How could I get over it without confronting my father? [I was not, and still am not willing to do that.] Why did my father's absence make me feel bad about myself despite my mother's, grandfather's, step-father's presence? I needed someone to put it into words...

insert Oprah...

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