Daddy Issues Revisited

Two years ago I did a post on Daddy Issues. I was prompted because of a separate post I'd read that had me really thinking about my own father. I remember writing it and feeling like I'd really done something and when I just re-read it in prep for writing this one, I just shook my head. I was ridiculously surface and I even lied a little bit. I mention and then reiterate that my father is a non-factor in my life, so much so that I don't even think about him.

As one of my good friends would say: "cricket, cricket." I don't think I was trying to lie; I think I just wasn't being honest with myself, really. Do I think about my father a lot? No. Do I think about him some? Maybe not directly. But his absence has been such a strong influence in my life that whether or not I'm thinking specifically and literally of him, I'm still often thinking of him.

In one of my most recent counseling sessions, I figured I'd jump in and attack the daddy issues I have. As we talked, the questions my counselor asked me had me reeling. I thought I had been pretty aware of just how far-reaching my daddy issues were but this conversation took me into ideas and places I had never considered. One of them was my hero complex. I've long told people my hero complex makes no sense as it's typically a character trait of an oldest child, or at least a child/person with siblings, but I'm an only child -- well, I was raised as an only child. Turns out, there's a really good chance that my internalization of myself as the reason my father wasn't around turned me into a fix-it person: wanting to save everyone from themselves since I can't seem to save myself from anything. Crazy, right? Ok. Maybe not. But to suddenly have this realization like I haven't been thinking about this on and off for no less than 10 years is really something.

But one thing I mentioned in my session was how I have difficulty separating out my issues, especially and specifically as they operate in relationships, from my daddy issues and my J issues. They interact very well with each other and exacerbate each other. My daddy issues caused me to stay in a relationship that was totally toxic for me and then when I finally did leave that relationship, I took along some more issues that seemed to work very very well with those already existing ones.

It's all playing so front and center for me right now. So much so that I touched on them a bit last night on a date (that I swear was not a date, but my friends have me thinking I'm too stupid to know what a date is, so...) My relationship issues aren't things I would normally touch on on a first date but we jumped right into the heavy stuff (because we have a prior relationship) and thanks to my counseling session making things so salient for me, this stuff just came tumbling out.

And then today I read 2 posts: Daddy Issues and I'll Be Your Pappy: The Silence of the Daddy Issues -- both older on blogs I don't frequent all that much -- dealing with daddy issues and the black community and I had to take a minute. What is it meaning for our community, plagued so heavily with absentee fathers, poor fathers, inept fathers, inadequate fathers, to not talk about it? The only people in my life who acknowledge to me that they only ever hear me talk about my mom are non-black, especially white folks. I've bonded with other black people about our lack of father, but there's no surprise in hearing someone only ever refer to their mothers. The issues are so prevalent, they've become expected in our community and we don't talk about them as the potentially debilitating issues they are.

Having both parents in your life is very important. I've even discussed how important I think it is to have strong and salient male and female influences in your life, regardless of the type of family you have. My classes have taught me a lot about human development and let me tell you: those early years are crucial. More crucial than any other time. Take this into consideration: the way we bond with our primary care giver can and does determine how we respond in relationships much later in our lives. In essence, your primary care giver should be consistent, loving, nurturing, firm and supportive. If you're a single parent your concern is a roof and food. Anyone who knows anything about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs knows this. But if you're the only one who can be concerned with these basic physiological needs -- the most primitive of needs -- you don't have a lot of time to be all those things I mentioned a baby needs to develop a healthy relationship style.

It's interesting to me that when they're kids, we talk about how important it is for boys to have daddies, but it's the women who take the most heat for having "daddy issues" as if men don't grow up and become unable to function appropriately in relationships themselves. In other words, we act like girls don't need fathers until they become women and it becomes painfully obvious how much that was wrong.

Unfortunately, no matter how well adjusted you are, it's hard to help someone else be well adjusted and honestly, I know from experience that their issues can easily either create or cause your own issues to surface. Though the research I've read says essentially that if you're able to have healthy relationships, you can help teach someone else how, I know that in practicality, you gotta be really invested to make that happen and the consequence of not being successful can be devastating. Not to mention that none of the research I've read indicates that you can help them have a healthy relationship with you.

I've got no answers on this one. Well, maybe a few, but that's not my point. I hope that moving forward, as we talk about relationship issues in the black community, we can start talking about them in different ways. One, in terms of the real and salient problems that absent fathers are causing. Maybe not in terms of putting fathers back in homes (though that needs to be a real goal) but how to empower those of us who see ourselves suffering now that it's a little too late to fix it. And also talk about how we make our relationships in the black community better from both sides. Whoever writes a book on how to have a better relationship that's either directed at both sexes or hits those daddy issues head on and acknowledges the real role they play will get all my support. It's really not as simple as thinking like a man, acting like a lady or being from another planet or whatever the hell else one trick dog and pony show we try to pass off as legitimate.


That Girl...: Deluded and Persistent

It's been several weeks since I started this ongoing thing. Posts about "That Girl" -- who is often someone we know, but sometimes ourselves.

"I Want You Bad" girl...

This girl is tricky. It's kinda hard not to relate to her. We've all met a guy who we wanted really really really really bad. Some of us know how to take a deep breath and assess the situation. Others of us need a little help in that area. And let it be said early on that I know this girl can also be "that guy"

I got to thinking about this girl weeks ago, but then I read this post by Frank Love: "How To Deal When The Interest Isn't Mutual"

Frank has such a compassionate tone in his post that I really had to think harder about the way I view this chick. She's the one who calls/emails/texts/tweets/facebooks a guy she's interested in several times each day. She laments to her friends how he never returns her attempts at reaching out and that even when he does he's short with her. Or that she tries to set up times for them to get together and he's either unresponsive or flaky on setting times and keeping them.

Her friends will most likely offer words of support and encouragement. Offering every viable explanation for his flakiness and unresponsiveness except the obvious one: he's just not that into you. The one friend who tries to offer some semblance of perspective gets shut down and cut off. That girl will run back to her other friends and go on and on about "how dare she try to suggest something is wrong with me..." the extreme ones will even try to suggest that maybe the friend has it out for her in some way. She'll come up with all the past occasions when "something just didn't feel right..." No one likes being told that the way they're seeing the world ain't quite on target with what's actually happening, but "that girl" has such a visceral reaction, everyone quickly learns it's best to just let her see what she wants.

Like I said, Frank's compassion in his writing had me stopping and thinking. I'm quite literally the antithesis of this girl. I took an early dating lesson to heart: I don't chase. I've gotten mixed reviews on the effectiveness of this method. Many of my guy friends have told me over the years that it can be a bit intimidating. In any case, watching "that girl" chase a guy who clearly doesn't want her only furthers my resolve not to be her.

However I get how it can be: you think this guy is great and would love to get to know him better, but even more you want him to get to know you better because you feel like you'd be awesome for his life. On the surface, that's not all that bad but when you're constantly putting forth that effort and not getting anything back, it can be a problem.

I may be too intense with it, but I'm here to tell you that if he doesn't respond to you initially, repeated attempts at getting his attention will not work. More than likely it will only drive him further away. I like Frank's explanation on this: (paraphrase) it's ok to let him know you're interested, but if he's not returning evidence of interest, have some respect for yourself and find someone who will.

I've not had a lot of success with these girls as friends. For one, I don't have the patience to support delusions. I mean we don't gotta talk about it, but I can't just keep acting like I don't see the red flags and for two, I'm always an easy scapegoat. I'm ALWAYS the first one to get cut off for keeping it too real. I can say that I almost wear it as a badge of honor these days and put my own, perhaps ironically deluded, spin on it: I was such an awesome friend she had to let me go be an awesome friend to someone else. ;)