For this Flashback Friday moment, I would like to take you back to a time when all I knew was hopelessness and depression. From age 9, to age 23, I struggled with depression and major abandonment issues, that haunted every corner of my existence.
It wasn’t until this year, 2014, that I finally came to terms with the truth of where it all started.
It was summer time, 1998, and I’d just turned 9 years old. It must have been less than 2 weeks after my ninth birthday, because I remember it was still August and right before school time. I also remember considering the irony of the fact that, I would meet the man that donated sperm to create my existence, right after my birthday; particularly because, he’d never even said happy birthday to me.
I remember thinking, “I wonder if he even knows my birthday?”
Actually, now that I think of it, I remember asking my Aunt Phyll, “Do you think he even remembers my birthday?”
And I remember her saying, “I’m sure he remembers your birthday, Shaquana.”
I don’t know if I said it or not, but I surely remember thinking that I didn’t believe her. I also remember thinking, she, who rarely sugar coated anything, probably felt so bad for me, that she lied to make me feel better.
I remember, it literally came out of the blue! My mother called my aunt’s house, where I’d spent the weekend, to tell her that she was on her way to come get me. She said, she was with my father (whoever the hell that was) and they were en route from Family Court. He was coming to meet me. So, I needed to get dressed and ready to meet her downstairs, and the man I never knew.
I remember, demanding to be able to come back to Aunt Phyll’s house afterwards, because I didn’t want to go home with them. I remember being sooo angry. So hurt. And, thinking back, now, I felt betrayed by my mother. How could she bring him here? How could she interrupt my chill time with my favorite Aunty Phyllis, to meet the man who never gave a damn to come meet me? I didn’t want to meet him. I was fine without him.
In fact, all of the years that had past, and among all of the times the discussion of being dad-less came up, I never felt left out or lacking. I always felt grateful for my mother and happy that he chose to stay away, since he never bothered to stay in the first place. At a very young age, I understood when my mother told me that she was all the mommy and daddy I would ever need. And I believed it.
Until, she screwed it all up by introducing me to that man. I went back and forth with Aunt Phyll, the entire time I got dressed, almost crying to her, to not make me go. I didn’t want to go. I really, really didn’t. She didn’t like him anyway, she could just tell my mom she wasn’t sending me down there.
And then, or so it felt, she flipped it on me. She told me that, even if I didn’t like him or want to meet him, I should give it a chance. I should just give him a chance and see what happens. That would the first of hundreds of times adults would tell me that, I should give him a chance. I didn’t agree by far, but I went with it. I reluctantly dressed and went downstairs to face the moment, that would change the rest of my life.
Five and a half years later, I was raped, at the age of 14, by a man who was about 24 years old. I remember thinking, while he was on top of me, pinning my arms down, and kissing me with his cigarette breath, “where is my father?” I remember being haunted by that question every moment of my life since, until this past summer.
Where was he, when that man took away my innocence? What was he doing? Was he thinking of me? Did he care at all, if anything bad was happening to me? If he knew, would he have done something to stop it? To prevent it? Would he have hurt the man, who so severely, hurt and hindered me? Couldn’t he tell or feel something bad happening? Couldn’t he save me?
After he was done with fighting me and satisfied that he’d taken just enough of my dignity and self respect, the who I was raped by, got off of me and put on his boxers. He sat on the left end of the bed, near the window, and lit a cigarette. He turned to me, after taking his first pull, and proudly smiled at me, telling me, “I love you.”
Outside of my brothers, no man had ever told me he loved me before. At least, not that I remember. So, in that moment, when the man who forced himself on me and his wickedness into me, told he loved me, I knew for sure that no man would ever love me.
I was not lovable. That’s why, my father knew where I was and wanted nothing to do with me. That’s why, my father left in the first place. That’s why, boys my age didn’t like me enough to ask me out. That’s why, I only received attention from older men, who only wanted me for sex. That’s why, I was alone for not putting out.
That’s why, I deserved for a man to force me to do things, that I begged him not to. That’s why, the first man I ever had sex with, forced me to have sex. That’s why, the first man to tell me, “I love you”, was the same man that stole my virginity, my self worth and my sense of self. Or so, I thought.
From the day I met my father, at nine years old, I was officially forced to struggle and tackle the repercussions of abandonment. Truthfully, had I met him or not, I was going to be forced to deal with my daddy issues, one day. Nonetheless, at the young age of nine, I’d become a master compartmentalizer, and he was in my box of unnecessary.
Early on, I understood that with or without him, I would be okay. I was going to eat because I’d been eating. I was going to have a place to live, because I’d been had a place to live. I was going continue breathing because I’d been breathing. With or without him, I was going to be good, because I had my mom.
The problem with his reentry into my life was the fact that, I had to face the existence of his reality, in spite of his inconsideration of my reality. When I’d never met him, I could pretend he was anyone, from anywhere and had any real reason for not coming back for me. I could pretend like he didn’t know where to find me or maybe he couldn’t find me because he was dead or locked away. I could pretend.
Once I knew him, I was stuck with the reality that the man who never came to meet me, was in fact just a train ride away, in the same borough, breathing and living fine. And, in fact, he knew exactly where I was, who I was with and could care less to come back for me. He simply didn’t want to enough, to actually do it.
On this Flashback Friday, I reminisce about the pain of being an abandoned child. And I bask in the reality of being a survivor of that pain. In spite of abandonment, rape and living with the repercussions, I still stand!