A Prince at War
One daughter's battle with fatherlessness.....
Last week I was instructed to take a questionnaire by my new business partner. She doubles as a childhood friend. I loathe those "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" binaries extremes when thinking about the way I interact with the world because they seldom apply to each and every situation I encounter on a day to day basis. And in most cases, the results are so different from the person I want to be it's almost depressing. But because it was her and I didn't want to start our business venture on an uncooperative foot, I obliged.
Since I have turned forty, I have been on a quest to become my most authentic self. Which in laymen's terms means I have actually started being honest with myself about the good, the bad and the ugly of who I truly am. Before now, I have often times presented myself to the world in a way that I considered palatable and pleasant to the overwhelming majority of people I encounter. I honestly thought that altering my personality was easier than dealing with the potential backlash of projecting my true self. But, I couldn't have been more wrong. Lying to myself and the rest of the world is exhausting.
The results from the questionnaire determined that in business I am an analyzer who is best suited for developing systems and managing data. I didn't need a questionnaire to know this about myself. Truth is, I have always been an analyzer but I have squelched this part of my natural genius because I associated it with jerkish, anti social behavior and masculinity. In short, my father.
Like many girls, my father was my first love. For the first three years of life, I was the quintessential daddy's girl. My parents' divorce, my mother's move back to their hometown, his refusal to ever live there again and a decade's long dispute about visitation and child support payments caused a lot of wear and tear on our relationship. For years I blamed him while he blamed "the system" and my mom for our strained relationship. But the blaming slowly dissipated as we came to grips with the fact that we were both living with chronic, potentially terminal illnesses. At some point, we implicitly agreed that our energy would be best spent focusing on the days ahead rather than rehearsing what once was or wasn't.
Through this shift of energy and effort, my father and I have built a friendship that I haven't experienced since my mother passed. I'm so much more like him than I ever wanted to admit. I always knew that we shared the same wide toothy grin, cocoa scented complexion, broad nose, and birthdate but my anger towards him wouldn't allow me to see how similar our thought process was until recently. My anger towards him wouldn't allow me to hear how much of me is in him. Consequently, the resentment I had been carrying around like a security blanket veiled my eyes from seeing the God in him.
As I come to see myself for who I truly am, I have also come to see him for who he truly is, a survivor. As a boy, he was forced to endure and survive Jim Crow and as a young man, he was obligated to serve and thankfully survived Vietnam. Unbeknownst to them, the U.S. government sent a prince to battle before he learned to wear his crown properly. I now know that war I often found myself fighting against him as a teen and young woman was actually a war of guilt and regret that he has conjured within himself for not being the kind of father he wanted to be. We have both waved the white flag of surrender against one another and joined forces in the war against our true enemies; prostate cancer, HIV, PTSD, and depression. Together, we have won countless battles and with continued time and patience will win the war.