Growing Up Fatherless
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Although I analyze for a living, I absolutely despise analyzing myself.
However, if I had to go back to the day that triggers an uncomfortable feeling, I would have to say I was seven years old, in the courthouse of my home town, on a cold, fall day. This was the day that my name was going to change. My stepfather had been in my life since I was three years old, and my assumption is that my mother either didn’t want everybody knowing she had two “baby fathers,” or she wanted to make sure I didn’t feel left out being the only one with a different last name.
When we walked into the busy courthouse, I remember seeing my biological father and feeling very excited to see him. I adored my dad, even though I saw him every blue moon when I would visit my grandmother.
When he began to walk in our direction, I had the biggest smile. I was so certain that he was going to pick me up, give me the biggest kiss, and do all the great things that dads do when they haven’t seen their baby girl in a long time. But no…he walked right past me.
Well, maybe he didn’t see me.
I went into the judge’s chambers with “my parents” and at that moment, I only have a memory of raising my hand to say it was OK to change my name. I’m honestly not even sure if that was the reason I raised my hand. My memory of that part is blurry, but what I do remember and forever will is that this is the day my daddy, the man I loved and the daddy I knew, signed away his rights as MY father.
[He] walked past me and I have been chasing him ever since.
Some people will argue, “You’re not a fatherless child because you had your stepfather.” Well I am here to tell you that you can have all the replacements in the world, but if you knew your parent and knew that they made the choice to not be in your life, there is no one or nothing that can fill that void or feeling of rejection. I know plenty of individuals who were adopted and never knew anything about their biological parents, yet they still have a void and feel the need to locate them. Don’t get me wrong, my stepfather was awesome and I even call him dad, but the truth is there was nothing he could do to heal the rejection that I felt as that little girl in the courthouse and the result was me looking for love and acceptance from boys.
I recall my very first relationship. This boy was everything to me. He was the popular jock that everyone wanted and of course, he came with a variety of other girls. Any time that I felt him slipping away from me, I would literally panic and would do just about anything to compete and get his “love” back to avoid the feeling of rejection. Throughout my teenage years and my twenties, I learned to tolerate nonsense and chase men to avoid that feeling. I would be in relationships and if it didn’t work out, I would immediately find someone else to put my energy into because I needed to feel loved.
The Healing process
My healing didn’t come until I went on a retreat with my sorority and broke down as we shared our emotional stories of life.
At the time, I was in a terrible relationship that I could not let go of because of my issues. My Soror gave a sermon and she said that “Sometimes you have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable.” A light bulb went off, and I mentally prepared to walk on an uncomfortable journey. I was tired and I made the decision to be alone for the first time. Uncomfortable was not the word…it was more like torture. I stopped having sex, threw myself into my spirituality, read self-help books and focused on my professional/personal development. I also traveled with supportive friends and focused on my two boys.
When you take the time to be alone, self-discovery can be amazing.
I also took time to talk to my biological father and asked him why he wasn’t around. He admitted he was young and had an issue with substance abuse.
If you truly understand addiction, then you know it’s an illness and there was nothing that a young addict could have done for me, so I understood. Today, I enjoy the friendship that my biological father and I share. I made the decision to forgive him and move-on and I did that for ME. Am I fully healed from not having my father around? I’m going to say no, only because I feel that you never completely heal from bad experiences, but you learn to cope, forgive and accept the things that you cannot change.
I am an Iyanla Vanzant fan and she always says, “Live in your truth.”
My Truth: I am a fatherless child, but that’s not all I am. I am educated, intelligent, ambitious, and a good mother who sought and received the answers she needed to move on. I realize everyone will not get their answers and reasons why, but always “live in your truth” and take the necessary steps to learn and get to know yourself, as well as forgive, so that you can be the great person you were created to be.
Markesha Williams lives and works as a school social worker in suburban Chicago. She writes poetry and is in the process of writing a series of children’s books that deal with African American issues. Williams, who is currently working on her Doctoral Degree in Clinical Social Work, plans to teach higher education and start her own private therapy practice.