Originally Posted: March 16, 2010
Occasionally, I look at my phone and wish that he’d call. Wish that I could get his opinion on guys, on politics; Wish he could’ve walked me down the aisle. Cheered me on at my first track meet.
As a little girl, I fantasized about laying my head on his chest, imagined him sitting in the audience at all of my milestones, calling me a Princess and helping me grow into a Queen. I remember looking at Mr. Huxtable (Bill Cosby) and at The Rock (Family Matters). wishing that I had a tall, strong, wise, financially secure, sober man in my life.
I remember his promises, and I’d eagerly await their fulfillment with a hope that never died and I’d be disappointed every time, except for that one time he bought me that Pink Barbie Corvette Powerwheel.
Fast forward 25 years, and he’s disappeared, and no one knows how to find him. I’ve considered checking the obituaries in both cities where he’s rumored to be, just so that I can at least pay my respects when he passes.
Who knows if he was punishing me for the problems he had with my mom. I have never judged him, because I don’t know the circumstances that caused his absence. Of course there is no excuse… but I always find a way to justify/excuse his behavior. Last I knew, he moved on and became father to another woman’s kids & they had a baby boy together, a little brother, 13 – 14 years my junior… but I digress.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the absence of this one man – who was 50% responsible for my existence has impacted me. I wonder how much of this is evident in most women who grow up without fathers?
(1)I am attracted to older men. (Didn’t even look at a man unless he mets this basic requirement).
(2)I have never had a good example of how women should be treated. (Many of my ideas came from books, movies, and “glimpses” of other people’s healthy relationships).
(3)I have never had a good example of how a man should act. (This was another one that was based on trial and error – over the years, I think I have a pretty good idea based on what NOT to do.)
(4)Intense need to feel protected. I’ve always been attracted to physically strong men and I have to feel emotionally safe/protected, otherwise I look for the nearest exit.
(5)Strong sense of independence. Because my mom was a single mother, I learned to be self-reliant and to never depend on someone else to meet my needs, especially a man. Even when in a relationship, I do have expectations, but I always have a plan for if someone doesn’t meet those expectations. I also understand from many fatherless women that one can become strongly dependent and needy/clingy. That’s not the case for me, although I love/need lots of attention.
(6)Need to feel secure and constant reassurance. This goes with the need to feel protected thing.
(7)Highly competitive. Not sure if this has anything to do with it, but I have to win. Losing is physically painful for me. This may be just my own quark.
(8)Very forgiving of black men. I’m overly protective of not only my father, and wouldn’t allow anybody to say anything bad about him, but of most black men. Even when they are wrong or there is a need to criticize them, I find myself wanting to shelter them & “fight” for them. I experienced this during the Presidential campaign season, anytime anybody would say ANYTHING negative about Barack, I’d say, “Hold-on” and even today, I can criticize him, but have a hard time listening to others do the same. I experienced it during the OJ Simpson trial (and found myself saying that even if he did do it, he deserved to get away because of all of the racism in this country – sad, right?). I am one of those women (we need a 12 step program) who can come up with every excuse in the book to justify problematic or unacceptable behavior (especially for black men in prominent positions).
I haven’t had children yet, because I’ve been so scared to have children with a man who would put my baby in the same situation that I grew up with. It’s easy to say “don’t be with men who will be horrible/dead beat fathers!” but one never really knows. They come from all classes and some of them have very impressive resumes. I can count on half of one hand the number of actively involved fathers I knew, and that number dwindles even more when we talk about two-parent households.
I’ve been blessed to find a partner who not only knows about my “daddy issues,” but who helps me to address the issues that it has caused and the occasional situation where it seeps into our relationship. He also allows me to grieve and to express my feelings. He also grew up without a dad and we often compare notes (many of the things I listed above, he would agree are issues for him too). I felt the sadness when I got married, and I think that it will intensify even more when/if I have children because they won’t have a biological grandpa. But that’s neither here nor there, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.