I watch For Colored Girls again. It is a choreopoem by Ntozake Shange adapted for the screen by Tyler Perry in 2010. It brings me relational comfort. I feel seen through the lives of these women who endure life’s cruelty at the hands of men in their lives. It does not help that I have just watched the Cyntoia Brown Netflix documentary Murder to Mercy, that was done by Daniel H. Birman. Brown shared on twitter that the film was made without her authorization but hopes that it will expose the failure of the justice system in America.
Both films are an expression of childhood dysfunction manifesting egregiously in adulthood. I relate to these films as I do the song Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson. The absence of a father who left or those who stayed but they might have as well been gone. This is not a pity post for Daddyless Daughters. It is a letter to you from someone who understands how it feels for a man to leave a shipwreck of childhood trauma in the wake of his selfish choices. One who has a peek into the other side of peaceful stability.
I am 27 years old and would not pick him out in a crowd. His absence did not bother me before as I had heard the gory stories of his misgivings told to me by those who knew him. It is the ball and chain of his exit wounds that previously left me stranded. A father according to the bible is the head of a home. Forget the interpretation that chauvinists have used to subdue women to disguise their inadequacies. The father defined by God is the head of a home who gives guidance and leadership in the home. Cornelius Lindsey in the podcast Life with the Lindseys describes the role of a father as the foundation of the family. It is not often the first thing people will see but its stability is felt in the structure of the home.
For you, who like me, did not have the stability promised by fatherhood, we have some work to do.
The first is to grieve the loss of his presence or the disappointment of the one whose presence brought you pain. At the beginning of 2020, I did an honest list of every area of my life that was holding me back. Next, a plan on how to bring that to the surface so that I can finally heal. I took the list to the feet of Jesus and began the work towards wholeness.
It is ugly, stinks and there will be snorts. I believe that a father’s absence triggers a seed of rejection, feeling exposed and without protection. When we get into any relationships with this mindset we worry that the person will leave. When they stay, we doubt their intentions and push them away because we have a coping mechanism for neglect.
As a child, I was a chatterbox and laughed a lot. High energy and overt expression of happiness was a way of showing the world that I was doing perfectly well. I was happy and that would make them stay. Recently, a friend mentioned the same to me and ripped the mask from my face. He mentioned that he could see through the hype personality that hides the fear and uncertainty in my life. This conversation happened concurrently with the spiritual work I have been doing to heal the wound of rejection. The time to grieve is to allow the little girl in you release the shame and emptiness of lost daddy dreams.
Once the little girl has had the ugly cry, forgive the big girl.
The person who invents a self-forgiveness potion will be the next Jeff Besoz. I have combed through the mistakes I made acting out on the rejection seed. It is a lot. Honestly, some of the relationships I had were a waste of time for me and them.
The toxic friendships that we stay in because we want someone to choose us. I laugh because I no longer reprimand myself for it. Wear some big girl panties and begin to forgive yourself. When there is any condemnation in my head, I speak out loud, ‘I forgive myself’. The little critic fades into the background with each sunrise (and a cup of tea).
Lastly sis, please, for the love of God, yourself and generations that are waiting on you, do not get into a relationship without (ad)dressing your exit wounds. There is no amount of societal pressure to justify the repercussions of a wrong relationship. People will pressure you to settle down when they do not know the meaning of the word. Deal with every part of you that hurts until you can stand in the sun and are no longer afraid of it.
Do this, not to avenge him for leaving but for yourself and those who chose to stay. Those who brought their own shoes and took up from where he left. For the mothers who bore the brunt of a society that questioned her dignity based on a man’s bad choices. The firstborns who abandoned their childhood to be the heads of the home and have to deal with emotional incest syndrome. Do it because you owe it to yourself.
Health on the inside shows outwardly. One day you will wake up and father’ day will not hurt anymore. It will be a celebration of the men who stayed and did the work. Those who made mistakes and had the gall to stay and fix it. It will be a day when you recognize the badassery of your mother (guardian). When you are ready to let someone in, it will be easy to recognize wholeness and together you will work to rewrite the story for the next generations. One day you will wake up and you will be okay.
Okay, feels really good. I hope you find your way here.