Thursday, August 18, 2005

Daddy's Little Girl...

This is something that I've often mused and therefore, what follows is an INCREDIBLY LONG post. Sorry in advance :)

Girls and their Daddy’s. I can remember, or rather, as LONG as I can remember, I did NOT have a “good relationship” with my father. I also wonder if this is what has caused me (as all of the reknowned psychologists have said) the issues that I’ve had in my adult relationships with guys. I cannot remember living with my father (as my mother and father were divorced when I was 3 and obviously before my conscious stream of memory can recall). My father was also an alcoholic. It took me years to speak those words. I often wondered why I could barely even think those words and could not bear to speak those words. I realized it was because father’s were not supposed to be alcoholics, fathers’ were not supposed to smell of E&J and father’s were supposed to be there. Period. I took those feelings that I kept close to my heart and internally locked them away. Sometimes I would act as if I didn’t have a father, making up stories or telling lies when people asked me what he did for a living.

My father was a General laborer with an 9th grade education who worked---get this---- for the State Liquor Commission. His day consisted of lifting. He lifted heavy boxes all day long. None were heavier than the feeling he put on my heart by not coming to visit or not calling or just not allowing me to ever say that I’m a “daddy’s girl”. He resented my mother because she went to college and would often tell me when I got old enough to understand him about the time when “your mother told everyone that I was a high school drop out….. she dogged me to everyone, including the people she worked with…they thought I wasn’t shit”. ANYONE who knows my mother KNOWS that you can’t even IMAGINE her saying anything as venomous and as mean as that. Especially seeing as though, she was still married to him when he claims this statement was made. The truth was, he thought he wasn’t shit. He was never taught how to love, so he never knew how to give it and didn’t love himself. But there were moments when he tried. He tried. There were “moments” where he was funny and was the Dad that I wished I had, but these moments were too spread apart and too fleeting. I didn’t understand all this until right before his death in 1994. He died of stomach cancer and I do think that the cancer was somehow partially caused by his daily imbibing of alcohol. I was 24.

I’ve often wondered what it would’ve been like to be a Daddy’s girl, to go to Daddy-n-me dances, to have my Daddy come a pick me up and swing me around and call me his angel, for me to be able to depend on my daddy –even if I couldn’t depend on NO ONE ELSE, daddy would be there. I wonder what it would feel like to have a snowball fight on a snowy day with my Dad and have him come in and make me a steaming cup of hot chocolate while we got warm from being outside. I wonder what it would be like to go to an amusement park with my Dad and laugh the day away and have cotton-candy sticky fingers, full hot dog bellies and fruit punch stained mouths. I wonder what it would be like to be proud to introduce my Daddy to a guy I was interested in and not wonder if that guy would see (inevitably) him drunk one day. I wonder what it would feel like to be close and be able to tell my dad secrets and feel protected in his love, as if I had an invincible shield protecting my heart that said “daddy” on it. I wonder.

When I was little, my mother and father supposedly had joint custody. Meaning,I was supposed to live with him for the summer months. This never happened. I believe that my mother, who would NEVER speak badly about him, to me at least, always felt my sadness and felt my pain. She never made me go, and he never fought to have me stay with him during the summer. I think it messed with his “bachelor life” too much. Though when I did visit, he did show me enough respect to NEVER have women around me or in our house and I do appreciate that. My mom saw the hurt in my eyes when my father would come to pick me up, drunk, and how much I didn’t want to go with him at those times. I didn’t understand the slurring of his words or the fumbling or the staggering appearance that he had and it frightened me. So, if he came looking like that, I begged her not to have to go.

He hardly ever made the time for me when I was a child and one of my most vivid recollections of him was when I was 4 years old and he was coming to get me. I was sooo excited that daddy was coming. I asked my Mom to do my hair in pigtails and to put on a dress. It was raining outside, so I got all dressed, coat and all, and waited by the window, hoping to hear the buzzer to our apartment. I waited. And waited. And cried, but I still waited. I watched the rain stream down the window panes echoing the tears streaming down my face. He never came that day or called. I don’t remember the next day or successive days or if he ever saw me until the “next” outing. All I remember is that day, I felt abandoned. My mother took my hand and took my coat off and we went into the dining room and had dinner. It was 8:00 and I’d been waiting insistently, at that window, since 4:00 because “if I just wait long enough, Daddy will come….he’s coming Mom, he’s coming”. I think she probably wanted to KILL my father for making me so sad, but she never let me know. She just tended to my wounded heart.

My mother was and is the best mother. Though I felt she was waaay too strict as I was her only child and I just KNEW she had a life in the nunnery planned for me, she was very loving and gentle. Whenever I got hurt, being that she was a nurse, she would attend to me with the cautious, calm rapidity seen in ER rooms. And because of that, whenever I got hurt when I was playing outside, it wasn’t until I SAW my mother’s face that I would break down. I used to HATE crying in front of ANYONE except my mother. Still do. But nothing she did could take away the pain that my father’s absence left on my heart.

Even as I grew older and came to live with him because my mother moved to Florida at the beginning of my senior year in H.S., I was resistant to being around him. I was living with him for a consistent year prior to going to college and I can say that in that year, a lot of growing occurred. I was pretty much on his own. My father provided a roof and food and small contributions of money here and there. My mother sent me money to my bank account every month which sustained the majority of my needs. By this time my father was “on disability” due to a worker’s comp back injury that he had sustained 5-6 years prior. So, all he did was collect a check and hang with his other drinking friends. He said I was secretive and I said nothing. I tried to be out of the house as often as possible and because my father was one to come home and drunkenly take over ANY conversation while I had company (no literally, he’d sit there and NOT LEAVE….for an hour if he wanted to…..and I DARED not ask him to leave. I did that one time with disastrous consequences. He proceeded to say, in front of my male company “what? Can I leave?!! This is my muthafuckin house!!! You don’t tell me to leave……” I was so embarrassed. All I could do is grin and bear it. So, I was ALWAYS trying to be OUT of the house.

Needless to say, I do think that because I have never seen a truly good father/daughter relationship, that I was more unsure of myself, and lacked in self-esteem growing up. Those are things that I feel girls get from their fathers in a different way than girls get that from their mother. Father’s give girls a feeling of security, and a feeling of completeness. Meaning, a man can only give you a man’s perspective on day-to-day trials and on life in general. My mother can only give me a woman’s perspective, and you need both to complete the circle. I have learned a lot from my male friends and counterparts and have completed that circle for the most part, as best I could. If I have a daughter I know that she will not have the type of father I had. She’ll have those daddy-n-me dinners, she’ll go to a museum or to a Opera with her dad, and she’ll learn to be treated like a lady by her dad.

My father taught me a lot and I have had to do much soul searching to come to grips with what was and what wasn’t in regards to our relationship, but one thing I do know is: I am my father’s daughter and I love him still… faults and all, there is some of him in my mannerisms, and occasionally in my attitude. But what can you do with the hand you’ve been dealt, but keep playing.

So, what do you think? Give me your opinions on how you think the absence of a father in a daughter’s life affects her and her subsequent relationships with men. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Knockout Zed said...

Damn Disco,
That was definitely deep. A lot deeper than you and I normally go with each other. I thought you were amazing before I even read this story, and now even more so. IMHO, I don't think your experiences with your father screwed up your romantic experiences. I think the cats you were seeing fucked those up!!! But, that's just me.

Msnhim said...

This is so touching it took me a minute to gather my thoughts.. here i go

My parents separated when I was about 11 but I was lucky that my Dad was always in the picture. He wasn't the best "person" in the world for he had many faults ( lying, cheating, drinking) but when I needed him he always made it his business to be there.. To this day I can call him if there is ever anything I need and he will figure out a way to get it. i have forgiven the person that he is. I love him no matter what and I am still very much a "Daddy's Girl"

Now as far as my choice I men when I got older , I married a man who is the total opposite as far as the bad parts but who is exactly the same when it comes to being there for the kids. I never ever wonder if one day he and I go our separate ways whether of not he'll be there for the kids cause I KNOW that he will. My relation ship with my father taught me what I wont except in a man. No Lying, cheating man will ever be excepted by me. It just wont happen. And I guess I have to thank him for that. He always taught me to NEVER depend on a man for anything. That I can do everything on my own and I should be with a man cause I want to not cause I need him.

I'm sorry your relationship with your Dad wasn't what it should have been but we women are strong and we make choices base on life experiences, your relationship with him has taught you something, I don't think you would make the mistakes he made with your kids or with the man you choose to be the father.

Sorry its so long but the post hit home.

Zantiferous3 said...

*sigh* What can I say? Your mother is an RN? So is mine. You were 24 in 1994? So was I. Several comments that you've left made me think we have a TREMENDOUS amount in common. This post... seals it.

Please... read these two entries... they too, are INCREDIBLY long... so I apologize in advance.

After you do, you'll know why this post leaves me speechless. Just... speechless.

Robyn said...

@X: I e-mailed you at the e-mail address....let me know when you get it....there was just too much to say after I read those....I'm still in shock.....we DO have alllllot in common girl!

Robyn said...

@msnhim: you couldn't have said it better. If I have a daughter, she will be soooo lucky cuz my husband is a GREAT father to our son so I know with a girl, he'll be equally as wonderful....and these men who choose not to be in their child's life do NOT know what they're missing! :-) thanks sweetie!

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