I am the baby of my family and my parents separated when I was 2. I never realized how much that had an affect on me until my dad took his last breath. Out of my sisters, I was the only one that had no real memory or connection to my dad. The part that was really crazy to me was that all my life he lived and worked in the same city that we were raised in. How could you not want to see your children or get to know them? I don’t think I even discussed him with my closest of friends. But it hurt!
When I was 16 my mother received mail regarding child support and of course this was the day I decided it was time to confront my dad. I didn’t care whether he liked what I had to say, cared about what I had to say, but he was definitely going to hear it. I called the only number they had listed for him and it was his work number. When I called his boss answered and was delighted to connect me to him, which kind of through me off. How can YOU be excited about his daughter calling? My dad came to the phone and I hear “Hey Baby!”. Huh?, Baby? i thought. I spoke up after a brief pause, “Hi, this is Jameelah and I would like for us to have lunch”. He agreed. The following week I caught the metro down to his job. I didn’t know what to expect because all I knew were photo memories. I walked into his basement office and was greeted and hugged by co-workers like they were apart of my family and watched me grow up. When my path cleared I saw a man about 5’10” walking towards me. He looked like the photos I remember but weak and frail. Out of his mouth came “WOW, there’s my baby!”, And I cried. Yes, I cried. I had never heard my father call me anything, nonetheless a term of endearment. Even in my anger, for that moment I was daddy’s little girl.
We had lunch and I decided to do exactly what I planned, discuss my feelings of an absentee father and to ask the questions I needed answered. Why did you leave? Why did you not come back for us? How could you be in the same city and miss every birthday, holiday, graduation? Why were we not important? He was shocked that I had so much to say but he took it and once I shut up responded, “I’m Sorry” There was soo much more that came out that conversation that day, that we ended up meeting for lunch every month thereafter. I also learned that day that my dad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and chronic kidney failure.
For 10 years we got to know each other a little more. My honey was the only friend to ever meet my dad. He even made his way across town to be at the hospital the day our son was born. For that I felt good that after 23 years he was finally accepting his role as a father and grandfather. Now if I could only get him in a room with my siblings. Which was hard because he wasn’t ready to face that guilt. In 2006 after 6 months of fighting infections from dialysis, he passed. And for those 6 months I was right by his side and my honey supported me every step of the way.
In the time I spent with him I learned that my anger and feeling abandoned only hurt me. As I reflected on my past relationships, they all ended from my fear of being abandoned. That same feeling from my dad not being there, when I thought he should. I am so happy that I faced my dad and was able to move forward. I would not change my decision for anything. I realized space is a necessity in all relationships. You need space from your partner, space from your children, space from family. Doesn’t always mean there is trouble in paradise. Sometimes, it even makes the relationship stronger. Let Go and Let God!
Do/Did you have daddy issues? Are you scared to address them? Have a phone conversation, write a letter. Trust me, its worth it.