The last time I saw my dad I was maybe 18 or 26 or 21. Honestly I don't remember. There are tons of gaps in my childhood and early adult memory.
I love that about her. That she can remember all the in's and out's of her life which such clarity and detail. Things like what grade she was in when her classmate ran over her wrist with a backpack. Which piano recital it was where her class played the theme song from "Indiana Jones." That one time when she was five and swore that a tall, dinosaur shaped creature with all of it's bones showing came through our living room and sat on our couch. If you ask her about it today, ten years later, her story does not change from the very first time she told me about it. Yes, it did and does still freak me out. Yes, I do believe that she saw something. We moved within a year of that experience.
As it turns out I'm not so lucky. I don't remember all the little details of my childhood. Some would blame it on me simply not having the best memory. Perhaps they're right, however I believe it's due to childhood trauma. I can't remember the name of most of my teachers. I can't remember when I got my first period. Hell, I can't even remember my favorite color or favorite food growing up.
Here's the punchline though - For all the things I can't remember one thing I'll never forget is how it felt to grow up without a dad. This seemingly meaningless part of me can't be neatly folded up and placed away in a closet. It's always there, just out of the way but always there, like a shadow, always present even on the sunniest of days. I can't let go of how it felt to be abandoned as a child and likely never will.
Yes, I realize that just upthread I mentioned that I saw my dad at some point for the last time between the age of 18 and 26. It was an awkward reintroduction kind of meeting put together by him and my mother. I don't remember what we did or if we all went together anywhere. Did I hug him at any point? Was I happy to see him? I don't remember. What I didn't mention to you is that before this meet up, the last time I saw him was maybe around the age of 3? 2? 1? Blastoff.
Blastoff into a fucking lifetime of insecurity, desperation, attitude and anger. Feeling so very unwanted, I mean, if your parent leaves you must be fucked up, right? Yes. So fucked up that in fact you either play the royal bitch role to the "weaker" kids in your class or you desperately weasel and fake your way into popular groups where you never felt comfortable or accepted because your mom was a single parent struggling, always struggling to do her very best with the money and cards she was dealt. I always ask myself if she shuffled the deck, but I digress.
Perhaps that is why I'm such a loner now. I don't feel at ease in groups of really any kind but you'd likely never know it unless you learned to pick up on my cues, like leaving a party early. I'm great at being a chameleon for a little while. It's a talent, really. You see, when you are abandoned by a parent you learn how to take your gifts and magnify the shit out of them. People think that you are smart, funny, strong. Inside you just feel so empty, unloved and unworthy of the shit "everybody" else has access to.
Take the time I begged to hang out with a girl and her family from a dance team I used to be on. Every opportunity available I wanted to run over to her house. I mean hell, they HAD A HOUSE. A house that had an older sister PLUS a fricken dad in it. I know my mom was likely hurt but I was trying to be a part of something I never had. A complete family unit. A Dad. I'll bet they ate meals together and had movie night or some shit. I'm not jealous.
This is why I'm so thankful that my daughter has such an impressive memory. When she is older she'll be able to remember important things like when her dad took her shopping or she spent the night at her granny's house. She is blessed to have two grandmothers by the way. I think I just might have successfully raised her because surely, if you have memories of great times and people that love you so much they'd never dream about abandoning you, there's no chance of trauma, right?
My hope is that when she is 21 or 26 she doesn't have gaps in her memory due to me being so traumatized that I abandoned her along the way.
To the beautiful brown girls that were abandoned by a parent and have holes in their memories and their hearts, I want to let you know that you aren't alone. Your pain is my pain and mine is yours. I know that you are in a place of healing and coming to terms with just how affected you were and are even still in your 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's. You no longer have to twist and turn yourself into something you aren't or try to fit in anywhere you can just to fill the void of not having both parents in your life. Being left behind wasn't your fault nor was it even about you. Open up the internal cage you've kept the real you locked up in and be free.
Thank you for prioritizing yourself,