Hello, I'm A Black Woman With Daddy Issues

"I must be content with the fact that my father may never admit his wrongs..."

Photo Credit: Photo: Cade Martin, Dawn Arlotta

| August 01 2017,

03:03 am

I remember on my 10th birthday, my father took me to the Dollar Tree and let me grab any toy and arts/craft supplies I wanted. He was big supporter of my imagination and that place was my pride and joy. So much has changed since then. Nowadays, I find myself calling him by his first name, and listening to the music he raised me on more than I talk to him. #DAMNSHAME.

After my last argument with my father, I kept saying to myself:

  • We talk about the deadbeat fathers in black families, but we never talk about the physically present, but emotionally absent and shut-off fathers who live with us. The fathers whose past of trauma and pain were never worked through, and ways of discipline closely align to abuse. I’m sure there are mothers out here who exist, too.

  • You can’t be a half ass parent and expect a solid relationship with your children.

  • I don’t know where we went wrong, but all that I knew was that the trauma he faced growing up shouldn’t have determined the way he treated me.

  • As that beautiful post I saw once said, "Their trauma should never validate your abuse". Never, sis. Those ass whoopings and discipline talks he thought was working were actually all the more reason why you wanted to get away from him.

To be quite frank, I’m fed up that I'm even here in this moment.

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A father should set the standard of unconditional love in how his daughter(s) are supposed to be treated. His relationship, or lack thereof, with his daughter(s) will definitely impact their future relationships with men. Notice I didn’t say it would deter their relationship with other men. Just because a woman has "daddy" issues doesn’t mean she won’t be able to maintain a healthy relationship.

Everything a woman hears and sees from her father, from his opinion on women to the way he treats women, will impact their relationship. And his word—his word is his bond. That is because for women, the words the men speak in our lives, their honesty, their lies, the respect or disrespect they hold, is an important factor in the actions they show us and the way we see them.

This is about the struggles of one woman’s relationship with her father. Perhaps, this will be the realest sh*t and most personal piece I have ever written because I know there are more women than me in this situation. Young women who can’t really grapple with the words to say to their fathers, or perhaps, words that are falling on the ears of a deaf man who is too stubborn to hear their cry for an opportunity to reconcile their pain.

If there were any words I could muster to say to my father and he would listen I would say:

I never had to worry about having a father figure. I always had to worry about dealing with a man who was cold.

It hurts when I look at you.

You’ve known me for 22 years of my life and there are some things I still don’t know about you. I know that you are southern, geechie as hell and you communicate through old skool music. The music of soul, funk and ‘80s R&B is a part of the blueprint to the man you are. I love that part of you.

I noticed the sacrifices you have made for our family as a youngster, even when I didn’t understand and respect all your decision at times. They were indeed sacrifices that have built the character of the woman I am today. This is the man everyone around you admires. The working-poor man who is big on “privacy,” raising his kids right and setting an example. He’s the end all, be all to advice, and a hard worker who everyone looks to. I’m not here to dim the light for people who look to you as their hero. Like all heroes though, you have your flaws.

Some of the things I’ve encountered with you over the course of my life have made me question myself as a black woman, my worth and my ability to love. Maybe it was that time you said dark-skinned women only look right with maroon colors on their feet, or that time you were overly obsessed with hair length and beauty. Maybe it was that time you told me, mama was the darkest woman you ever dated.

I was very young when these things were said, but I paid close attention. Perhaps you may have thought you were just dropping gems, but you were implanting little seeds of issues of colorism and self-esteem in my head early on. Of course, most of these questions I had would follow after our heated arguments and, at times, physical altercations.

A lingering pain I still feel today. I can’t help but to think about my experiences, and the things I never want my future daughter to bear:

  • I hope she never has to fight her father.

  • I hope my daughter never has to be dragged by her hair by the hand of the man she loves.

  • I hope she never is called a b*tch by the man she loves.

  • I hope she is never has to decipher discipline from abuse?

  • I hope she never is blamed for the pain her father holds, and the mistakes he refuses to address.

  • I hope she’s never called a worthless piece of sh*t and has a drink thrown in her face.

  • I hope she never gets choked out and is afraid to speak up when the cops arise, out of fear of punishing her parent.

  • I hope she is never threatened by any type of weapon by the man she loves, because who better than her father is supposed to protect her from the men who, unbeknownst to them, leave scars on her heart?

  • I hope my daughter never is blown off or discouraged when she decides to address the issues affecting her sanity.

  • I hope if she ever has to defend herself, she can put an end to her trauma.

  • As her mother, I hope I would never be caught in a position where I have to choose between my daughter and husband in the fight for understanding.

  • I hope she never has to hear the words “I love ya, I love you so much, hear?” from the man who showed her that love hurts. I never want her to hear "I love you" as an apology.

  • I hope she won’t ever feel like just because someone gave her life, she owes them a relationship.

What she will learn is that repeated cycles of trauma does not end trauma. She will not be forced to love anyone who brings her pain, because relationships like that are not healthy.

I can't help but to think that if I was dating a man who has treated me in the same way my father has, many would disapprove of my relationship. In the words of my daddy, “Let a n*gga put his hands on my daughter or disrespect her, and I’ll kill him”.

I just have one question: Where was he when I needed to be saved from his hands?

It almost amazes me how good my father was at checking everyone but himself on bull. For a second, his manipulative behavior had me thinking I was the problem. Yet, my only problem was figuring out the reality of the situation. I remember telling my grandma how upset I was with him and how the things he's done, I can't seem to shake. I told her love is not suppose to hurt! She replied, “Sometimes it does.”

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In that moment it was me realizing that I am not his trauma. I am not his test doll, and I will never condone another “love tap” from any man who loves me.

At times, I cringe when people tell me “your daddy raised you right,” and “I know he must be so proud of you.” It makes me cringe when people don’t understand the truth and make assumptions based off the one facade of a man they see. It makes me cringe to know that my father cannot own up to his wrongs, and is not willing to get the help he needs.

I've decided that it is okay if I choose to love from a distance.

I was reading a novel the other day on how to gain peace from broken pieces. I discovered a quote that rings true to me.

"You wait until you are old enough to move away, hide from, or flat-out deny that you have anything at all to deal with "these people." But sooner or later, you realize that whether you are a block away, a state away, or on the other side of the world, you cannot deny the fabric of your being."

—Iyanla Vanzant

What I learned is that while we might not be able to deny the fabric of our being, we don’t have to wear fabrics with torn foundations. I learned that my healing process begins with acknowledging my pain, and knowing I don’t stand alone. I’ve learned to try and understand that some things may never change.

I must be content with the fact that my father may never admit his wrongs, even though at times, he tries to erase them. I must be content with knowing that at the tender age of 51, he still may need to learn to cope with his own pain. It’s OK for a black man to be fragile! It's also OK for a black man to heal!

I must be content with protecting my energy, and knowing I have to forgive and forge a new path for peace. I hope other women like me can too.



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