Saturday, January 29, 2011

In Search of A Father: My growth without mine.

For some time I've been contemplating my non existent relationship with my father and whether I should pursue one or not. Just a little background, I have never had a relationship with him due to his lack of presence and efforts. My mother raised me to know who he was and often let me know that he loved me, but he just hadn't grown up yet. Not excusing him, but that explanation actually got me by as a kid. However, I found what my mom said harder and harder to believe as I myself began to grow up. Her comforting words replayed over and over in my head every time I'd see a daddy and daughter holding hands or the image of a father walking his daughter down an aisle to marry. I never dared ask my mom why I couldn't have those things or if I'd ever, mainly because I knew it would be painful to answer and probably more painful for me to ask.
The lack of presence from my biological father was long ago replaced with my grandfather's. Although my view of men has struggled because of it, I worked to not let his absence determine my lifestyle or my future as a woman. I've crossed a few milestones and been happy with myself but there was always a hint of pain in my smile. There was always an elephant in the room but I dared not ask about it or say "I wish my father was here." Valentines days came and went but every time I was greeted by an admirer with candy or flowers, I imagined that my father could do the same. He never did. Not one Valentines Day or Christmas. And when Father's Day rolled around, I was unaware of the holiday and ignored any sign of it. He never shook hands with my first boyfriend or gave scowling looks to my second and third. I was not greeted or congratulated at my graduation. I was not given a proud hug when I was accepted into college. Nor was I given a speech about boys and academics as I moved into a co-ed dorm.
Through all the years and events I seemed to manage with grace. I never questioned his absence because of those words my mother told me when I was smaller, "He loves you. He just hasn't grown up yet."
A week ago, I looked at a calendar and realized my birthday was a week away. Not any birthday, my 21st. Another milestone. As I thought and planned a series of events I got an erie feeling. A feeling I've never had before but still it felt familiar. My thoughts, I'm about to be 21 and I've never heard my father wish me a happy birthday. This would make sense if he had passed when I was younger, but he is alive and well. I tried to comfort myself by replaying my mother's words in my head but it didn't work. I grew angry and then sad. With the words repeating one thing stood out to me, "He hasn't grown up yet."
"He hasn't grown up yet, but I have," I said to myself.
I've grown into a woman. I live well. I'm working to better myself everyday. I'm not the same kid. I can no longer be persuaded into believing that my father isn't around because of lack of growth.
Growth, I thought about that word long and hard. I'm no longer biting my tongue in fear of being hurt. I will dare to ask "Where have you been?" I will take a stand until I am noticed and appreciated as a daughter, his daughter. I will show the love that I've always longed for in the hopes that it's returned, and if not, I can still say that I made a grown up decision to try.
My decision was to try to contact my father in hopes of building a relationship not because I want him to wish me a happy birthday but because I want him to see my growth. Hopefully it will inspire him to grow. And instead of him being around for a milestone in my life, he can be one. I have yet to contact my father, but I plan to soon.

To Be Continued...

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