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I met my dad for the first time about 3 years ago and it was the strangest thing ever. He hugged me like he knew me, but to me, this was a tall, brown-skinned stranger hugging me. To be honest it was really awkward and slightly scary. I mean, I have never hugged a grown man before! And as I think back to that day, sadly I still think he has not stopped being a stranger.
I have never really known my dad. I grew up in a single-parent family and the concept of a dad is not really something I’m entirely into. However, it is something I wish I had experienced. When I was young I would always hear my friends talk about the things that their dads did for them. You know, like take them for vacation trips to the Coast or buy them gifts. I could never understand that. For me, it was, and always has been, my mum who did all these things. It did not really bother me back then honestly, because, I guess, I was probably too young to understand it. Too young to look deeply into the differences between the stories my friends told and mine.
The whole ignorance is bliss idea really worked then, I was better off not digging too much into things. As I got older though, in high school, it was completely different. I think the older you get, the more you start paying attention to things and questioning a lot. This is exactly what I did. Now the stories started to bother me. Why couldn’t I tell similar stories? Why couldn’t I talk of two parents like everyone else? Initially, I chose to assume that my dad was dead. I mean, that made more sense to me. However, a part of me knew I had two parents, yet I had no clue how my dad even looked! I won’t lie, I was really annoyed and upset at my dad. How can you have a child, and be alive, but have nothing to do with that child? How could you be around and not bother to know, and be a part of your child’s life? How could I accept that my dad was alive and had nothing to do with me? So the only way to answer these questions in my head was to just assume that my dad was dead.
It was hard to live without my dad and with the assumption, I made about his death. Sometimes people do not really realize how such things can affect a person. They do not realize how it can build something inside someone that is just not right. That is exactly what happened. Unfortunately, all the bitterness and anger that I had towards my dad changed its course. I found myself directing these bitter emotions towards myself. My reasoning all changed and now what kept on going through my mind was, “It has to be something about me that has kept him away.”
I started to think to myself, “people don’t just cut off their child like that unless there is something about that child that they don’t like. There has to be something wrong with the child.” You know, the mind can really mess you up! It can build up an entirely different scenario than reality. I really believed, (and probably still do) that it had something to do with me, something was most definitely wrong with me. I tore myself apart trying to figure out what exactly it was that he did not like about me that led him to completely cut me off.
I will not lie, those were the worst years of my life. When asked about those years, I would say I hated high school mostly because of what I did to myself. I went through years of self-hate, self-loathing, self-doubt: pure and utter dislike for myself. I had the lowest self-esteem, and out of this, I cultivated an enormous fear of rejection and abandonment. I stopped trying to keep friendships because I thought there was no point – humans do not stick around anyway. This is still something I believe, maybe not as strong as those days, but unfortunately, years of believing it led to imprinting this belief on my heart. I guess it is true what they say, a lie repeated over and over becomes the truth.
As I sank deeper and deeper into this new reality that my mind had made up, I became really depressed, and I ended up picking up a method of coping that was not the best. I did not think the best of myself, did not really care about myself, and I started cutting myself. In my mind, it helped to focus on the pain that was on the outside of me, rather than focus on what was going on inside. The pain from cutting was a great distraction for me. It went on for so long that I began to depend on it. If anything stressed me out or made me uncomfortable, cutting was my way out. It was to me what drugs are for others. Honestly, it was just as addictive. Once you’ve picked up the habit for years, it becomes hard coping without it.
Cutting left more than just physical scars on me. So when I met my dad and he acted so casually and at ease, it did not help or fix whatever had already been broken in my heart. Meeting him was not enough to undo the damage done by his absence. After our initial meeting, there were so many times I wish I had never met him. I feel like meeting him did no good, but added more salt to the wound. It actually made things worse, because, 3 years later, I still don’t have a dad. I just have a stranger whose last name I share.
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