I’ve dedicated a lot of time toward unpacking the power and impact of my daddy issues complex. I’ve used this blog and website as a venting board, of sorts. Dissecting the nature of my insecurities, pathologies, personal lies and skeletons, and their relation to my absent father. All of that dissection has led to my ability and willingness to confront and redevelop my broken relationship with my father.

I’ve never underestimated the significance of his still being alive. The power in my ability to still be able to talk and work it out in person. This is a major privilege that many people have not, will not and can not be afforded, highlighting its worth that much more. Nonetheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that my work with him in person, for now, is done. 

Below, is a letter I wrote to him, less than two months after searching him out and finding him. I never got to give it to him or read it to him. He avoided conversations like this, at all costs. In such, it isn’t until now, in which I’ve moved on from working things out with or through  him, to working things out on my own, that I’ve been ready to post this letter.

I’ll just add one more thing. As I read this letter, over a year later, I am astounded by my then maturity. Far before my physical mind had shown up, my spiritual was clearly aware of what I was really doing when I refound my father. Now that every part of this letter reigns true in the physical world, I am so grateful. I’ve grown. Soooo much.

I’m so proud of you Shaquana! You go girl! And s/o to this blog. I have a platform to say all the words no one, including my father, ever wanted to give me a chance to say. One way or another, I will be heard. How about that?!

February 5, 2014

Dear John, Father, Dad, Daddy or something like that,

This is a letter that I suppose is a long time coming. I have been running away from all of things I have needed and perhaps, somewhat wanted to say to you for so long. At some point, all of the questions, confusions, anger, resentment and detriment wrapped itself into a ball inside my soul, that grew with me and my consciousness. Quite honestly, I knew since I was in high school that I was screwed up over the whole absent daddy thing. But I refused to allow myself to accept, acknowledge, let alone move past that.

I was taught that you hold onto grudges and never let anything go. At some point, I suppose I decided I was never going to forgive you for leaving me. For never picking me up to hang out. For never calling me or seeing me on my birthday. For always seeming to want my mother more than me. Or any woman for that matter. For never proving that I was loveable, beautiful and worthy of your love. At some point, unconsciously, I made up my mind to never forgive you for making me hate myself. For making me unloveable.

There was a while where I was known and maybe even praised for my ability to hold a grudge, people often making note that no one else could hold one longer than me. I prided myself so long on the fact that I could say I’d went more than three months without speaking to my brother, while sharing the same room as him. In essence, now that I think of it for the first time, you were my favorite person to blame, resent, hate and scapegoat.

So part of the necessity in getting this out now is for me to acknowledge where I once was emotionally and mentally with regard to my understanding of and relation to the relationship I have with you. It took me years to get to this point. Years of slowly chipping away at the very strong wall of anger and despair I built up, for what I considered was on account of you.

I now realize, literally within the past week of I silence I’ve undergone, that I was harming myself so much more than I ever realized, by holding onto the anger and hate I had against you. Instead of allowing myself to feel, embrace and move past the feelings I had about you and our absent relationship, I buried them, as deep as I could and shoveled judgement, blame, resentment, and unforgiveness on top of them to keep them deep and unreachable, convinced this would save me.

Then at some point, early on in my teenage life, I fully realized I would need to face the demons of my past in order to be the person I knew I wanted to, deserved to, and was destined to be. That’s when I also recognized how difficult and emotionally challenging that might be, so I craftily made out a plan for my life that began with working hard, led to success and then ended with me working all my past stuff out. Particularly the strong negative cloud of abandonment and unworthiness darkening my skies of opportunity. So yea, the plan was to get my life together then work out my daddy, mommy, and self-love issues, etc. Unfortunately, it sooo does not work like that.

I realized very quickly after getting to college that when you’re as emotionally and psychologically challenged, per se, as someone like myself, and maybe even for anyone with closets upon closets of secrets, denials and severe disappointment,  that there is no amount of climbing you can do to get away from those closets. They will easily transform into suitcases and travel with you everywhere you go, weighing you and everything you do, down with it.

My second semester away at school, in midst of experiencing immense misunderstanding of my evasive misery and subdued depression, which was unbeknownst to me, I surely thought I’d never outrun my past. My unworthiness, I was officially convinced, was ingrained in me, so much that two hundred and thirty plus miles still wasn’t enough to outpace it.

So somewhere between freshman year and junior year, I found out that there was a path to redemption of self and for the past four years, I’ve been travelling on that path to get where God ordained me to be. I realize now that when I started working on loving myself when I was thirteen years old, that was really the true beginning of the journey that has led me here, over ten years later.

And so, me finding you, us getting to know one another and embracing what time has defied, has been in essence, all apart of an essential journey in leading me to learning how to love myself. You see it took me a long time to even pretend to entertain the idea that you not being in my life and my feelings about you and your absence and everything that I subconsciously convinced myself came with that, had anything to do with my lack of love for myself.

There was almost an entire decade, I’d say, where I absolutely convinced myself that I loved myself while carefully taking note of how no one else around me appeared to be able to do the same. I mean seriously, from like fourteen to like yesterday I was convinced I loved myself. Until I realized that I didn’t love myself. That I didn’t know how. That I was still the same thirteen year old girl convinced that she was not worthy of love. That underneath it all, I still believed that if my daddy couldn’t love me, what man could.

Many things, if not all things some way or another, I found a way to tie into your absence. In not forgiving you, or even acknowledging that there was something I needed to forgive, or work through, and/ or being unwilling to work through anything, disabled my ability to grow from what there was to learn in your absence and left me stifled in repetitive self-destructive life circumstances.

I understand now that this was and is not even about forgiving you. It is about forgiving myself for allowing your absence to work as a device that chipped away my being rather than strengthened my core. I know it’s a different understanding of accountability and responsibility and yet, I feel confident you understand what I mean. Your accountability is to God and yourself only, even as my parent. If you in fact stay in accord with your accountability to God and yourself, you will inevitably be able to maintain any goals or responsibilities you hold as a father.

Similarly, I am accountable to only myself and God. Moreover, I have no ability to dictate the nature of anyone’s actions or any circumstances but my own, so I can hold no liable expectations of either. I don’t have a right to say I expect this and that from you, I can only tell you what I need and be confident that whatever I receive is what I was supposed to have at that moment and that God will guide me to all things sustaining for me.

I am sorry for holding onto my anger and hate for so long. I am sorry that I would never allow myself to embrace the love I had for you, in deep fear of the backfire of the emotional rejection by way of your absence. I am sorry that I refused to see any love in the things you did or didn’t do. I am sorry I couldn’t let you love me, then and sometimes, even now. I am still working through much of the muck that has trecked through my life as result of my silent unacknowledged beef with you. Nonetheless, I have made very tremendous breakthroughs in regards to being aware and acknowledging my emotional discord with you.

Last week, something was triggered in me that made me think of every man, boy, or fellow I’d ever interacted with that made me feel uncomfortable. Since the first night I knocked on your door, and quite honestly, quite a time before then, as far back as when I first met you at age 9, I recognized a very silent and muffed out voice of discomfort within me. I never felt comfortable being in a room with a man alone, including you.

Since then, what has happened to me throughout my adolescence into my adulthood, is that this discomfort has grown considerably. And yet, now that I am acutely aware of the fact that it is abnormal, so to speak, to feel discomfort while in the presence of a person, male or not, let alone your father, I silence that discomfort even more, with silent hope it die out. When we were speaking in the room alone, something shifted in me and I told myself somewhere deep down that I wouldn’t be a victim anymore. I wouldn’t silence my discomfort any longer.

So from there, I experienced a deep influx of emotions and I decided to let them play out, while seeking Divine guidance, until they led me to the understanding that was embedded in that experience. I initially felt like it was all tied to you, that I should be upset with you, and perhaps even take claim against you. I had no idea for what, other than that you were somehow tied to the extreme and deep seeded discomfort I was feeling and I needed to blame someone. I quickly took note of my feelings and fell back into a state of understanding and reflection, steering far away from judgment and blame.

I can discuss the meat on the bone in person. This letter was meant to honestly tell you how much I love you. I really do. And that scares the living crap out of me! I’ve been abandoned, hurt or beaten by every man I’ve ever loved, starting with you. Outside of my brothers who have inflicted physical and other harm on me, I have only always been hurt or left by men I love. I’m learning that much was the same for my mother, and it seems, even her mother before her. So this abandonment and fatherless pathology is chronic and pervasive. It isn’t something that seems to want to slow up either.

So that’s where this letter comes in. And this talk. And our relationship. I’m not whole but I have many of my pieces back together and I am definitely in a more healthy spiritual place to feel confident in my ability to truly get through and passed the past. In ways that will make my children and children’s children healthier and better functions of God’s love and majesty. Ending the pathology of abandonment and silence is one piece of the puzzle to ending the disease of hate and unworthiness.

I’d like to learn to love you unconditionally next. I am confident that as I am now working through the inhibitions that were once blocking me from loving myself,  that I will soon be able to successfully learn how to love myself unconditionally so that I can fully love everyone else, unconditionally. I want to work better to dismiss my expectations and measurements for you. I want to trust myself and God that you are here to continue in guiding me on my journey toward God’s destiny for me. I will continue to build my resistance to being tormented by what was, could, should or would have been.

I thank you for being my father. I thank God for the wonderful blessings you bestowed upon me from your spirit to mine, without ever having to be there. Thank you for being one of my first teachers. Thank you for always loving me, even when you didn’t know how to show it and I wasn’t ready to receive it. And I thank you for teaching me how to learn to love myself. Thank you for teaching me that I am and always have been worthy of love, beauty and God’s wonderful glory. Thank you!

With the deepest of love and sincerity,

Shaquana Gardner