“Kids have a hole in their soul in the shape of their dad. And if a father is unwilling or unable to fill that hole, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed.”- Roland Warren
This past weekend, I watched the Oprah Lifeclass called, “Fatherless Sons.” I found it incredibly moving and I shed a few tears while watching the show. I’ve written before about Fatherless men and women and I truly identify because I consider myself to be a Fatherless daughter. I was fortunate to grow up with the love of a stepfather, but my father wasn’t in my life from a very young age.
My tears as I watched the show was because I can identify with the pain and the hole or wound that it created in your life. My father is no longer with us. He passed on about two years ago and I had a hard time reconciling that we will never repair our relationship. I can remember feeling this terrible guilt that I didn’t try to initiate a relationship again. I’d tried several times throughout my teen years and early twenties only to have it fall apart after a few interactions. There seemed to be too much resentment on my part and animosity on his part in response to my resentment. There was too much emotional distance to cross and no one was trying to be the bigger person. I expected him to be because he was the parent so I gave up. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t, but I find comfort in knowing that I did my best at the time.
As I was talking about the show with someone close to me, I was feeling a bit raw and honest. My words surprised, because I’ve never been fully honest about my feelings.
I said, “The saddest thing to me about not having a relationship with my father is that he knew nothing about me. He didn’t even know my favorite color. If someone asked him my favorite television show, he wouldn’t know. I didn’t want anything from him. I just wanted him to know me. And, I think he missed out on a pretty great person.”
Once I said them, I felt very sad because it really was that simple. I just wanted him to get to know me and for me to know and understand him. I remember once that he told me that he stayed away one Christmas because he didn’t have enough money to buy us presents. Now, I realize that he never understood that I didn’t need his presents. I needed his presence.
On the show, a man explained why he left his children. He said that he had an image in his mind of who he was supposed to be for them. He felt unworthy of being in their lives because he couldn’t meet his image of the ideal family man for them. Iyanla Vanzant said, “The kryptonite for men is inadequacy.” She explained that if a man feels he’s not good enough or can’t get it right that it can be the reason why he walks away. She later touched on how the fatherless child may think that the father is off enjoying his life when, in reality, the father is suffering.
The audience was filled with fatherless sons and some wept openly as they discussed the damage caused by abandonment by a parent. Personally, I have found some peace in understanding who my father was and I have been able to forgive him for his absence. After his death, I found evidence that he loved me and thought about me. He kept things that I didn’t even remember from my childhood. I still struggle with the wound created by his absence and I think all fatherless children do, even as adults. It’s hard to recover when someone who is supposed to love you makes the choice not to be in your life. But, it is possible, when you begin to understand that it had nothing to do with you, even though it should have. If you get an opportunity to watch the replay of the show, I recommend it. The healing begins when you acknowledge your pain. If you can’t forgive your father, at least, free yourself from the pain of feeling unloved.
“Forgive yourself for believing that is something lacking in you because he wasn’t there.”- Iyanla Vanzant