I read the following post Schadenfreude and as much as I didn’t want to reply, I couldn’t help myself, but given that I knew my reply would resemble a post, I decided I’d simply do just that.
As a child born out of wedlock, I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to have never known my father. Actually, had mother had her way, I would have done just that and probably gone through life thinking my step-father was my father even though he’s light-skinned of mixed Jamaican and Chinese heritage. She’d pulled off that lie for five years until my father found her/us.
After coming to know my father and two of the eight total children he’d fathered, I was both happy and confused at my existence since I didn’t fully understand the full life dynamics that come with ‘external’ children…My father was married at the time of my conception. My father was good to me and my two siblings, but I didn’t realize there were still five more of us whom I’d yet to know or meet. That would come about well into my adulthood. Correction, I met my oldest and now deceased eldest brother when I was about 13. He was a nice guy and was saddened by his passing because I never had the opportunity to really know him unlike the two immediately above me.
During the years I’d spent shuttling back and forth to my father’s house, I came to see and know a man I actually disliked. He had an affinity for women making it rather difficult for me to form a bond with any of them since I wasn’t quite sure they’d be around from one weekend to the next. The two above me no longer lived with our father, so I ended up being there with him or whatever woman was in his life at the time.
Unlike, the father(s) mentioned in the referenced post, my father acknowledged all of his children; however, he was still no real father in the true sense of the word. He ruled with an iron fist with the “it’s my way or the highway” mentality and imposed strict and sometimes unrealistic expectations of his children. He disowned my brother above me because his children they were bi-racial and to date has yet to acknowledge their existence. He additionally refused to allow my brother into his home because my brother grew locks and my father vehemently disapproved of this hairstyle. My sister, the eldest of the three of us was disowned for the same and additional reasons.
As I got older, I questioned and challenged my father’s actions toward his children because it was wrong. My father was and remains a devout member of the Pentecostal church and prescribes to its many dictates; well, those accordingly to how he wants to interpret them. I’ve read the Bible, conferred with those who are also of his particular sect of Christianity, in addition to other pastors and nowhere in the Bible or in my conversations does it say it’s okay to disown ones children due to one’s personal beliefs, prejudices, or thoughts on life/society.
To date, I’ve met all but one of my siblings and maintain a relationship with three of them. To date, I am the only one of my father’s children that speak or have a relationship with him. He has successfully estranged himself from his children with his bull-headed, rigid, and often down right insulting ways. It’s a crying shame that a man; a father would treat his children with such disdain and disrespect. His actions have also distanced him from his grandchildren.
Some irony to my father’s antics is that he has embraced my daughter who is also bi-racial, which I gave him some serious grief over. Of his children, I’m the only one who does not have his last name and I’m the only one who he has a relationship with. I have and continue to argue and challenge things he says because I’m not afraid to call bullshit. I’m also the one he calls when he wants something that’s out of his limited budget. For someone who’s pushed just about everyone away, he’s the one who needs someone close to him the most – He lives in Jamaica and I’m in the US. The two of his children that reside in Jamaica have nothing to do with him.
I have limited respect for my father as father because he’s failed so miserably at being a good one even when he had the chance to be. I still wonder what it would have been like to have never have met or known him. He came into my life when I was 5 and I left the UK when I was 15, so he was only actively in my life for 10 years. I saw and spent time with him upon my return in 1986 and we maintained a long distance relationship for a while until he once again pissed me off and after that time, we were estranged for about 10 years. It wasn’t until 2007 when he and I actually started communication again and I was 39 at that point. So, here I am pushing 47 and have had a short and somewhat strained relationship with the man who help put me in this world. I can’t say I love the man and I can’t say I hate him. I maintain feelings of a familial connection and wish him no harm. Somewhere deep in his abyss is a sad, hurt, and broken boy who never healed and he took his pain out on his children, wives, ex-wives, girlfriends and ex-girlfriends, and most importantly himself and lost some of the absolute best relationships he could have had in life. I allow him to take no credit for my successes in life. What I do, do is credit him for some traits and qualities he’s passed on be they good or bad. I couldn’t choose who my father was and I accept who he is, but what I can’t and won’t do is minimize the negative effects both his presence and lack thereof caused. Fortunately, I’ve long since resolved and moved on in order to stop carrying the emotional baggage I had.
Sadly and unfortunately, there are no lessons or training for being a parent; though I wish there was. I further wish that men who help create children take care of them in every way possible. Children need their fathers as much as they need their mothers and any man who fails to live up to the responsibility that comes with his title is a poor and lame excuse for a man.
Yea, I said it!