My earliest memory of my Father is when I was about 6 years old, washing his gold Cressida, man I loved that car. My 6 year old mind was convinced that it was the fastest car there was, that and the fact that my Dad sped pretty fast when we drove in it.
Driving long distances with him was my ultimate pleasure in life, much to my mother’s demise because often he’d collect me unannounced, they didn’t live together, he’d tell my mom to give me quick bath and off we went. On the road I remember him saying “look at how fast we’ll overtake this truck” and with a swift change of gears we’d blaze past it in no time! It was magical, he got away with speeding because he was a policeman, I suppose as a man of the law it’s highly unlikely that you’d get in trouble with one of your own. He had friends everywhere too every one knew him.
He’d make a few stops in town and greet friends, which unsurprisingly happened to be mostly women. I concluded it was just how he was. I’d always wait in the car when he did that, afraid I’d be left behind when it was time to leave. He’d tell me my duty was to safeguard the car make sure no one did anything to it, I took my job seriously.
Often he’d leave so long I’d fall asleep, but when he came back the adventure would start again and all would be forgotten.
My father was a large man, very stern often harsh and was mostly feared. There was something about his presence that commanded respect, he carried a gun and I suppose that made a contribution to the above. He was good at everything, he passed on his love for reggae, his horrendous dancing skills and his free spirit. The only place he fell short was in how he loved my mother. How him and my Mother became an item will always be a mystery.
I could never understand as a child why they fought so much about my father’s “female friends”. Deep down I resented my Mom for that, what was her deal anyway she’d always fuss about how long my Dad would keep me whilst he ran his unending errands, and after one of their fights my Dad would stay away a really long time. After a few weeks the Cressida would come speeding in, with it came groceries, I suppose the women in my Mother’s time cared nothing for flowers. They’d make up and things would be okay for a while until my Dad started with his usual antics and that roller coaster continued for a few years until my Mother became more religious, bought a house, qualified for her degree and showed my Dad the door for the last time.
It seemed no amount of groceries could save them because no matter how often he’d come, how much he’d buy, my mother would send me to collect the groceries, exchange a simple greeting and he’d leave.
His lack of consistency was due to the fact that he was a Casanova of note, the man could charm his way in and out of anything. It’s how he charmed his way into my mother’s heart. Unfortunately it would also be the reason why he’d get the boot. As s result we’re still trying to locate all his offspring. We’re on 8 and counting.
As an adult my parent’s relationship unintentionally taught me the following:
1. Men are unstable
My mother used to tell her friends how sick and tired she was of my dad, how he’d go in and out of his life as he saw fit not once considering how she felt. I’d hear these conversations and cared nothing about their fights but I’d miss him terribly. I couldn’t dismiss my mother’s point of view however, She was right and as much as I’d loved him, I hated this game he played with her heart, with her time and mine with it. I made a mental note that said “don’t trust men, they don’t stay long”
2. Apologies are meaningless
My Dad knew his way around my Mother well, he knew what to say to make her laugh. He’d maneuver his way back into her life with grand gestures but his behavior stayed the same. Until my mother stopped being impressed, she wanted more that items she herself could purchase she wanted him to change, no apology was enough if it meant the situation stayed the same. She loved him but not at the expense of her heart
3. Men are not dependable and Independence is a women’s best form of revenge
My mother was very quiet. She was a doer, she hated lazy people, she hated stagnancy she was on a constant move. She worked hard to buy a house, finish her studies and buy a car(she later lost it in an accident). Her best revenge was getting her life in order. She used to say “You don’t depend on a Man! You get your own things you work hard! But don’t make a mistake of depending on a man!” I wished I could roll my eyes at the time I didn’t understand, I missed my Dad. “That low life you call your father, is gone, thats what men do”. My Mother taught me independence is a women’s most powerful tool. She did it in the most bitter way.
4. Solitude is peace
I never saw my mother with another man. Not once. I wouldn’t be surprised if none approached her out of fear of my Dad, the guy was scary. She missed him though, I didn’t understand their relationship but I knew it was him she longed for. But she’d tell me being on her own was how life should be. She’d tell me she never wants to be with a man again in her life. “being on your own brings so much peace” she’d say.
“Parents are our first example of how to communicate, develop, and maintain relationships, especially with another gender,” Noni Ayana M.Ed., sexologist and relationship expert, E.R.I.S. Consulting LLC, tells Bustle. “Many of us have come to develop a set of expectations, using our parents relationship as a blueprint. Whether parents know it or not, their children are watching, and developing their own ideas. I find that parents don’t often discuss the process of what it means to be in a relationship, and children draw conclusions based on what they see, as opposed to what they know.”
My parents tumultuous relationship left me scarred and it played out in relationships. My inbuilt mistrust, my drive to not depend and my fear of men and so the walls grew higher and love stayed farther. It was only when I went to therapy that I could slowly unravel this mystery and make sense of my predicament.
I don’t think my father knew what damage his actions would cause.
As I became an adult I started to ask more questions about my fathers upbringing. I was desperate to understand him, to locate the root cause of his dysfunction. I had to go as far back as childhood, by that time He and my Mother had long passed and I needed answers. Why was he the way he was. I came to a shocking discovery.
My father had a very difficult upbringing, his parents separated when he was still a young. When his Mother left he was still young and was left to the care of my grandfather who was quite the disciplinarian and he was raised by a very harsh stepmother, often robbing him of food, he was neglected as a child. My grandfather apparently owned taxis and only came home a few times a month. The abuse carried on for a long time. My grandfather eventually found out. He sent the woman packing but by then the damage was already done. And he would suffer for generations to come.
My father loved me the best way he knew how. He like most men was broken and he didn’t know how to make that right. I wish I had more answers, I wish he would have been honest with me before passing about what in his childhood broke him. I wish he would have received counseling or therapy before meeting my mother. I spent so much time being angry I not once thought about the reason behind it all. And when I found it the pain had no place. I had to let it go.
WE NEED TO BE THE GENERATION THAT STOPS MAKING EXCUSES AND THE GENERATION THAT HEALS OUR CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS NO MATTER HOW HARD THE PROCESS IS.
What did your father do that you need to forgive? Maybe that journey needs to start now.
We need to forgive our fathers because they didn’t know better, we need to understand they did what they knew was right at the time. We need to forgive them because harboring feelings of resentment means we’ll continue the cycle of bitterness and that will be given to our kids and the cycle will never stop. We can do better.
Forgiveness is hard, it takes time. It’s a process but the Bible says
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
The journey begins when we let go and we embrace change and maybe we won’t get it all right the first time but we’ll definitely try and we’ll be better for it.
Life is art