Thursday, January 21, 2010

Love Unrealized: Desiring a Father's Love

About a week ago I was listening to Steve Harvey's morning radio show in which  he and his co-host "Nephew Tommy" staged a phone prank on the father of one their co-workers.  The  phone prank consisted of "Nephew Tommy" (pretending to be a 47 year old work-release  felon at a local college) calling the father of a 23 year old young woman to inform him of plans to wed his young daughter.   After the first 10 minutes of the prank call, the very reserved and corporate-trained African-American  father quickly morphed into a cussin'-meet-me-in-the-street-bout'-it-bout it-Daddy that was about to kick some butt!   

The phone exchange was absolutely hilarious!  Although it was quite entertaining, I thought it was particularly remarkable how protective and extremely endearing the father was of his daughter.  Clearly, this young woman was "daddy's little girl!" Even as I laughed myself to tears listening to the prank call, I thought about how blessed the young woman was to be so loved by her father. As I reflected on the dynamics of that particular father-daughter relationship; I was led to reflect on my own relationship with my father (or should I say the lack thereof)

We often hear about the impact of a father's absence on a male child but I believe it is equally  as difficult for a girl child.   I feel that it is equally as damaging but perhaps it manifests itself differently.  For years, I have personally struggled with a deep sense of loss due to my father's absence in my life.  Because I have always had a strong male figure in the home, I really thought that I was free 0f any "daddy's issues." It has taken me years to finally recognize how my father's absence has impacted my life and relationships. It's only been recently in the last two years that I could even acknowledge that I had "daddy's issues".  But acknowledging my issue was just the beginning; it has taken me 15 additional months to build up the courage to face this issue head-on and seek to begin a process to heal from my past pain. 

Below I have listed the 7 reasons why I have decided to begin the work towards healing myself  of "daddy's issues" and work on building a relationship with my estranged Dad.  

Reasons Why I Want To Heal From My Daddy's Issues....

Reason #1: I want a full and liberated life without fear!
Although my life has been extremely blessed and full, I have struggled with a deep sense of loss and fear of rejection due to my father's absence in my life. It has taken me 35 years to finally recognize how this has impacted my romantic relationships, my need for constant approval and acceptance and even my determination as a single mother to make sure that my only son would have a relationship with his father- at whatever expense to myself- just so my child would have his father in his life.

Reason #2: I want to heal from my fear of abandonment and stop feeling unworthy and stuck!
Most recently, I have discovered that some of my feelings of being stuck have result from a tremendous fear of abandonment. For many years, I have hated being by myself for long periods of time. I have loathe the idea of being alone, being still and being in silence.

Growing up I always had a great relationship with my father's family. I never understood why my father had abandoned me nor why it seemed as if he didn't love me like his own family loved me.  How could he not love me, EVERYBODY loved me, right? But deep in my heart I felt that his absence was some indictment that I was not good enough, lovable enough, or pretty enough to be a "daddy's little girl".  As an adult, I  now recognize that my father's absence didn't have anything to do with my value.  His actions had more or less to do with the bitterness of my parent's break-up that may have caused my father to distance himself from me.   However, as a child  I couldn't process that reality.  As a little girl, I assumed that I was rejected because something was wrong with me and those feelings followed me even into adulthood. For most of my life, I have sought out acceptance and oftentimes the validation of others.

Reason #3: I want to embrace a Love Supreme with my partner without a constant fear of  rejection!
I am an "EXTREME" romantic!  When all is said and done, I truly believe in a romantic love that is magical, passionate, spiritual and secure. It is my desire to attract that type of love in my life. Therefore, I deeply desire to repair my relationship with my father so that I can move beyond my struggle with feelings of unworthiness as well as my fear of rejection. Over the years, I have guarded my heart and took an approach to relationships as "love them and leave them first ."  My thinking was grounded in my fear of rejection.  I positioned myself in my relationships to "leave them before they leave you".

The blessing of my life is that God has always placed great men in my life.   I have dated some wonderful men (well..maybe 1-2 of them were busters) but overall my ex's are  very good men.  However, the common denominator in my past boyfriends is that they all have been emotional unavailable to be in a marriage. Based on my belief in the law of attraction, I must accept the fact that there is obviously something in me that attracts that kind of energy in my life?  I believe that we attract our reflection in many ways, therefore I have to take ownership for the part in me that is also afraid of emotional commitment.  I  will no longer be a slave to a love that is based on "he accepts me" but I want a love that is rooted in fearlessness, truth and a willingness to grow together.

Reason #4: I desire to take my life's work to the next level and live a life of truth!
I have been a social justice activist and leader for  more than 20 years. My life's work has been dedicated to helping those that have been marginalized and broken yet at the same time I have discovered my limitations in this work due to my own brokenness.  As I grow and develop to the next level personally, I know it will impact my life's work.

Reason #5: I want to move out of my state of self-denial and anger.
Two years ago as I was listening to a Mary J. Blige song in my car in which she sang about her brokenness  from not having a father.  As I listened to the song, I arrogantly thought to myself, "Why would a grown, successful woman like Mary really worry about that at this age? C'mon Mary you are just TOO old for that!" I thought to myself, "Why do women worry about having a father?  Well, I am glad that I certainly don't have that issue." Ironically, two days later I received an out-of-the-blue phone call from my father (up until that time had he NEVER called me and I had only seen three times in my life)- informing me that he was coming to Atlanta to visit me. Oh boy! did the universe open Pandora's box and FORCE me to face my biggest fear. I had "Daddy's Issues". This interaction with my Dad uncovered an emotional issue that  was buried so deep that I denied having it in the first place. I really didn't know that I had "Daddy's issues".  I know that at this stage in my life, I want to forgive my father so that I can move forward and replace years of anger with the power of love.

Reason #6: I want to feel like Daddy's Girl before my life journey is complete! Needless to say, I think all girls want a father's love and approval. All of us imagine having a Daddy to walk us down the aisle, to screen our dates, or make us feel protected. As old as I am ,I still desire to feel the love from a father. Most importantly, I desire to fill this emptiness so I can expand my love for myself.

When I was young my father's family would show me pictures of him on visits down south with my sister that was a only a year older than I. Although I pretended to enjoy seeing the pictures of my father and sister, the images were actually very painful for me to see. I remember thinking to myself, "Why does he not want to see me? What' wrong with me?" In some way or another I think that family experience has had me continuing to ask that same question all of my life. "What's wrong with me?" The fact of the matter is there is nothing wrong with me, but there has been something seriously wrong with my interpretation of the experience. I now recognize this is part of the foundation of my faulty thinking around feeling stuck and unworthy. 

Finally, my understanding of being "daddy's little girl" has shifted. and expanded.  My TRUE father is really God.  I am a child of the living God. In the midst of a brokenness, due to my earthly father's absence,  God 's love offers me true acceptance and liberation.  However, I know that my relationship with my father mpacts me greatly.  There is a wound in my heart that must be healed. Fortunately, I feel that as I learn to forgive and love my biological father it will strengthen me spiritually, thus deepen my relationship with my heavenly father God.  Forgiveness opens a space for healing to take place.

Reason #7 I want some sense of closure from my childhood pain!
I feel that developing a relationship with my father will allow my spirit to feel more liberated in loving myself as well as helping me to be more open to embrace the love of a man. I know that it is time for me to resolve my feelings of brokenness, rejection and abandonment from my father's absence. I know that this relationship isn't my only struggle but it is may be able to open up my process of self-healing since it is the issue that I have feared the greatest.

In 2010, I plan to live a life of truth and liberation.  Truth for me means dealing with my life's challenges as well as the blessings.  I hope that maybe as I  share my deepest fears and vulnerabilities in such a raw and public way this process will help me transition my life to that which I truly desire-a life without fear.

Maybe I will discover that it's not that my father didn't or doesn't love me but it just may happen to be -A LOVE UNREALIZED. 

I will keep you posted as things develop.... 


JustBeInc said...


This is beautiful!! I am so blessed to read this today this week marks the 9th anniversary of my step father's death and I have only in recent years come to terms with it. Although I, like you grew up with a strong male in my life, I suffered from "daddy issues" too. You are so blessed to have your dad around for you to reconcile with. I've never known my real father and the only father I've ever known died thinking I didn't love him the same. I know for a fact, through experience, every single thing you are talking about and I pray that you find everything you are looking for, because no one deserves it more!

Reginald Eric Brown, II said...

Hello cousin Latosha! This is Eric (R. E. Brown, II) and re-meeting you a few years ago was such a positive experience, I couldn't help but wonder where you were the whole time!

It really says something that you've been able to let go of the anger/sadness/misdirected guilt concerning your father's absence. Was there ever a period where you said to yourself "well it is his loss if he chooses not to connect with me?" You being able to forgive says sparkling things about your character and I'm sure Uncle Abe appreciates it too. Looking forward is the most important thing I've learned. One can't start over - but changing direction is always within reach.

You have a knack for leadership and you're super smart! I hope to get to know you better in the future!