I’ve never been one hundred percent behind the whole “blood is thicker than water” saying and I stand completely behind the idea that being family doesn’t mean you‘re exempt from getting cut out of my life. No one ever questions people’s decisions to break ties with friends who drain them or eliminate men from their lives who are no good, but for some reason when said person is a parent, the idea is suddenly taboo, forsaken, perhaps even sinful if you believe you must always honor thy father and mother. But cutting my father out of my life is exactly what I decided to do a couple of weeks ago.
I always suspected this day would come. I envisioned it, dreamed about what I would say, made up an entire monologue in my head even, yet secretly knew I’d frankly never have the balls – or so I thought – to say any of those things, until one day I did. I knew the time had come when I’d sent my father an email asking him why a payment he’d committed to making didn’t go through. Essentially, I asked what was up and whether something had changed that I was unaware of. Rather than give me a straight answer he danced in circles like he was practicing the waltz telling me he was thinking about how he demonstrates love within our family relationship, suggested that I do some introspection regarding how I demonstrate love to my family, and added if I wanted to have a real conversation let him know. I basically read that as an “eff you, holla at me if you have beef” response and proceeded to let him know just how I felt about the love he so arrogantly thought he’d demonstrated to me all my life in a 1,768-word email because I’m a writer and that’s how I communicate best.
To be clear, my reaction wasn’t just about this one, passive-aggressive incident, it was about a pattern of behavior that I had had enough of. And so, after running down all the times I’d felt let down, and his constant lack of consideration for how his actions affect me (like not doing something he said he would), and all the guilt trips he’d taken me on from the time I was a little girl with no heads up that I was packing for baggage I’d be carrying as an adult, I was in Keyshia Cole mode. I just wanted it to be over. I was confident in my decision and frankly didn’t even want a response from him because I knew he would only confirm that I was making the right choice. And sure enough that’s exactly what he did by way of a 90-word note that suggested I should get therapy to find the peace that surpasses all understanding and that I could never dismiss him as my father. Or so he thought.
The thing is, I’d long accepted that the man who contributed half of my DNA makeup was not and never could be a father, and at my age I’m too old for that. The daddy lessons and experiences I missed have already shaped me into the woman I am and I really see no need for that type of figure in my life at this point. Had he always been there, it would be different. But to try to catch someone up on 27 years of a life they missed and then rely on them as some sort of source of wisdom when they can’t even acknowledge their own wrongdoing isn’t something I’m interested in. And clearly neither is he, from the response he sent me when I laid out our relationship for him in black and white. I didn’t go on an emotional rant; I didn’t even call him the names I normally do in my head. I provided a chronological, factual, and logical list that I thought he could appreciate. It included the times I’d been disappointed and shunned and the ways he didn’t fulfill his obligations as a parent while simultaneously trying to blame me for the fact that we don’t have a relationship. The bottom line, from my view, was that it was his job to establish that bond when I was a child, particularly when he lived in a different city. But instead he was too busy trying to prove that I wasn’t his to actually find out who Brande is and how he could get to know her, then taking credit for my accomplishments whenever he could as if he had anything to do with them.
And so, as I deleted contact information of men I’d been holding on to unnecessarily for too long and vowed never to reach out to again when I got a new cell number this summer, I also let my father know that until he was ready to own up to some things and really think about what I needed from him without expecting all these things from me that he hadn’t earned, I wasn’t interested in doing the song and dance anymore. I could do without the phone calls on Christmas and maybe my birthday, if he remembered the date. I’ve had those types of relationships with men I dated. It wasn’t enough with them and it’s not enough from him either.
I believe if we’re going to put fathers and lovers in the same boat and say the way we relate to men is directly correlated to how we deal with our fathers, then I believe we should be able to deal with our fathers the same way we deal with said lovers. No one would advise a woman to sit around and wait for the next disappointment or accept anything less than what she deserves from a romantic suitor and I believe those same rules apply when it comes to a parent. The way I look at things, I’ve spent plenty of time waiting for my dad to come around and at least acknowledge he fell short of being the father he needed to be. It was time to look at the reality of our relationship and be done.
As expected, when I mentioned the situation to my grandfather (his dad), he hit me with the cliché “life is too short” line and said both me and my father should be ashamed of ourselves. I agreed with him on one point. Life is too short. Too short to hold your tongue and settle for less than you deserve in all relationships, including that of a parent and child.
As I told my father, the choice really wasn’t that difficult because it wasn’t like not speaking to him would really be all that different from not speaking to him. What I had to make peace with was being that stereotypical black girl without a father who would be labeled as having daddy issues any time she said something negative about a man. But at least, unfortunately, I have plenty of company.
What do you think about cutting a parent out of your life? Is it any different from ending other disappointing relationships?
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