During my late teens, I dealt with the suffering that comes along with being abandoned by someone who meant so much. I was confused as to why, the first man I ever loved, who I would have died for, just simply left with no words to his biological children, simply left and never ever returned. He missed my Elementary, High School and College graduations. That left a whole in my soul that would not recover until the age of Twenty-Eight when I asked God to help me fix my internal wounds.
I spent most of my Twenties lashing out to the unlucky souls who were enamored with me whether it was a boyfriend, family member or a co-worker. They just didn’t know I was dealing with abandonment at a high level. Although I did not drop out of high school, or end up using any chemical substances, I punished myself in ways that would take me years to work through my own emotional pain and suffering. Bottom line was, I didn’t love me. I thought that I wasn’t good enough because my father had left me. He had left me to sit on a lonely shore and die an unlucky death. I didn’t see the value in allowing people to get to know me intimately. The only man who I loved intimately – emotionally, was my Father and when he divorced my Mother, he divorced himself from his children.
That was an undescribable pain that I cannot tell you about. It’s something like having someone slice up your heart into tiny pieces, and spit on it, then walk over it a thousand times.
Imagine growing up without your father, having him miss your birthdays, and other developmental stages that mean much to you as a young lady. Then image you have to see all your friend’s fathers support them through their teen and young adult years. It’s definitely not the best feeling in the world.
I am writing this article for those fatherless children out here to let them know they will make it and will be okay. It may take time to deal with your situation, but you will make it, and you will seal the hole in your soul.
MY PERSONAL JOURNEY
I was thirteen when my Father left my life, and as I look back on it, it was necessary because of the violent nature of my home life, but it did not make me feel good as a young lady to grow up at an important time without his necessary role in my life. As I entered my high school years, I missed out on valuable time with my father, and although my mother spent countless hours with me when she was not at work, I did miss having talks with my father and the special times as well. I was left with a hole in my soul that could not be covered up. I spent a lot of time with friends and began to soothe my soul with comfort foods, not drugs, or behavioral issues. I ate until I felt better about my self. In other words, food was a temporary bandage I attached to my soul. My heart was hiding underneath all the donuts, sugary foods, chips and any thing I could eat that would temporarily fill my soul.
High school days were spent being very mean to any boysÃ¢Â?Â¦as they were a reflection of the man missing in my life. I used to have conflicts with a few boys who called themselves liking me. Those poor boys really wanted to get to know me, but I remember, my dad leaving and I didn’t want to let any boys get close to me – at all, so I simply ignored them, or challenged them at every contact. I remember my mother trying to get me to date a nice young man and I actually got upset when he came to the house to give me roses. I accepted the roses, but I threw them away after he left. Unfortunately for me, the whole in my soul could not be sealed up with attention from boys. I only wanted my father and since he didn’t have any contact with me, it left me very alone and sad, so I didn’t want an personal emotional connections with any young men.
As I went further along in high school through college, I got into several unsuccessful relationships due to my internal conflicts with myself about my father’s absence. It was unfortunate that I wasted many years being alone due to my conflicted heart which had not been healed, but at age 28, I decided to get real and attempt to speak with my father to resolve the relationship. Although, my father and I had harsh words with each other, it was a beginning and I was proud of myself. But even that connection was not the sealing of the hole in my soul.
Sometimes people feel if the person who have wronged them will apologize, they will feel better and this is incorrect. To my dad’s defense, he did attempt to apologize, but at that time, I didn’t want it. I was hurt. Too hurt to even accept it. I could not hear his words. They were falling on deaf ears. Even though he tried to say his peace, I just could not accept it at that time.
Some time later, I decided to write a letter to my father and as a result, he stopped talking with me. At age 31 I was very frustrated and began to work on me instead since I felt that I had to do my own self-healing and redemption. I found that I could only be accountable to me and that he could only have control of himself. My father wasn’t talking, so I had began using writing and singing to heal myself. I never really had a chance to discuss my true feelings with him until I hit my mid-thirties. At the time that my father and I had the discussion, I had sealed my heart to the point of opening to true love and commitment and that was after years of me learning to love myself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you truly love someone else? I also began to have healthy relationships with men and although I did not find my soul mate, I was truly beginning to live for me and not in the past. I had began a new journey in my life and I embraced it fully.
When I began erasing my past and blaming my father for everything is when things began to change in my life. Why? Because I was being accountable for my actions or re-actions. I got tired of being mad and upset, crying, and blocking true love in my life. Why should I go around mad at the world because my father decided not to take an active role in my life? It was a waste of my time and energy. It was like my soul was dying day by day.
Another beautiful thing occurred as my reconciliation in my soul happened; I began to work with youth, in Chicago, with youth development programs. These programs forced me to face my own past, as I coordinated a girls mentoring program and worked with one-on-one counseling. In the counseling sessions, we got “real”. Meaning, we had to be truthful about everything that was occurring in the session. I asked my clients to be honest, which meant, I had to be honest, about my life as a woman, and as a human being. Those sessions covered good decision making, communications, personal goals and good coping skills. This is an area in which I feel God designed for me to personally develop my own coping skills with being abandoned by my father.
Another great thing about the sessions is that I had an opportunity to talk with an on-site counselor and I had shared with her, my struggle, with my own personal relationships, specifically dealing with being abandoned. The one time we did speak, it helped me to examine my life, and also being able to forgive and make steps towards reconciliation.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe I was lucky to have worked with youth or that the counselor, just happened to be there. I believe that was all in God’s plan.
As I went along my personal journey, I took steps in my faith to let God lead me. One day, I was going through my stack of books and decided to send my father, a care package. The package was a nice letter, and a few self-published books that I personally wrote. I included an audio CD of my work. It kind of saddened me that all this time, he had not contacted me and had missed me performing for the first time and all the achievements I had made as a budding writer, but I also realized that after 18 years of silence, it might have been very daunting for him to speak with me. Perhaps he was very ashamed and did not know what to say or how to sayÃ¢Â?Â¦that he was indeed sorry that he had missed out on the developments in my life.
Life does indeed go on and I had not perished from his disappearance. I had flourished with the foundation created by my family and myself. So, why should I continue to live in the past and hate him forever?
The turning point for me being fatherless came as I began to open up lines of communication and I am not going to lie, it’s a work in progress. My father has begun calling me recently, every now and again. He’s very timid in his approach because he knows he has hurt me deeply on all types of levels but I have told him that we simply have to start one day at a time. There is no way that he can erase the missed birthdays, or personal developments. I don’t want him too. I realize that that is something that can never be replaced. I know that he gave me the gift of peace during the years he was away. Why do I say that? Instead of us having negative interactions, he simply walked away. It is not the best thing but I have had to accept it. Would it have been better if he stayed and we argued and not listened to each other? I’m not sure that it would have been productive.
Fatherless children nationally are going through personal journeys that may be worse than what I’ve experienced and I just wanted to let you all know that you can and will make it. Recently, as a writer, I came across a young student and she mentioned she grew up without her father. She was very upset. I told her to tell me all the positive things she have attained without him and she gave me a list of things. She said she felt better talking with me and knowing that she was not alone.
Examples of some of the negative effects of fatherless children: Prison time, violence, drugs, running away, prostitution, these are just a few samples of what can happen to children who grow up without a father. Some have self-hate so deep that the cannot see any positivity and they lean towards things that will bring them down. Why? Because they feel unworthy.
As a woman, it concerns me that so many children I come across are dealing with this at a young age. Many families are broken up for various reasons and I want to leave a few tips for those who are fatherless.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
-Do not blame yourself, it simply is not your fault.
-Try to keep lines of communication open, if possible.
-Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
-If it is a violent situation, wait it out. The person may not mentally or physically able to be there as your father.
-Change your mind with positive attributes.
-Try to remember the good times.
-Leave the past in the past.
-Be as open as possible.
-Talk it out with someone – a pastor, a close friend, or counselor.
-Let positivity be your key to the healing.
In closing, I guess I’m pretty lucky that I did not drop out of high school; my mom was not going to allow that. I never picked up a needle, a bottle, or any substance as I saw a lot of friends destroy their lives that way. I never had any real mental problems, I simply was too busy and involved in positive things in my community and in my artistic endeavors to be. Maybe that was due to me growing up in the church. I believe it had to do with my volunteering as my mother had me heavily involved in many activities as a young lady.
I will encourage any readers to get their fatherless children involved in the Big Brother/Big Sister Programs or any mentoring programs. It is always good to have your child around a positive male or female role model. This will keep them focused on positive things. Don’t forget to look at their skills or interests. That might be a good source to keep them on a good path in their young lives. I hope you find a nugget from this article to inspire you if you are dealing with this very serious subject that has impacted, not only African-American families, but all Americans.
Fatherless children can over come their past with unconditional love, self-realizations and healing through open communications and the hole in the soul can be sealed up never to be opened again. Remember, it all ends and beings with you. So don’t live your life in misery, deal with the fatherless issue and live a beautiful and productive life. It can happen if you make the necessary steps for change in your life.