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.

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