More than 20 million children are growing up fatherless. Charlene, 28, used to be one of those children. In her first blog, Charlene shares her experiences as a daddyless daughter and as a guest on Oprah’s Lifeclass!
I’m a Daddyless Daughter
After over 15 years of inconsistency and complete absence, my father and I reunited and began building what I feared to be a relationship. I was 24-years-old and fresh out of undergrad and at the time, he was a few years free from drugs. Allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to simply say hello to him slowly blossomed into conversations by text, a fishing trip, a better understanding of his addiction and many, many dry attempts at “getting together soon”. For five years, we pretended we were building, but really, we just talked about it. I would never initiate contact because I was fearful that at some point, for reasons including, drug relapse, alcohol abuse, the desire to be elsewhere or even death, that he would leave me after I had invested so much attention in him. So, I tried not to, until I accidentally told him that I loved him back. I have an unfinished poem about this, describing how disgusted I was at myself for being so careless, and that’s when I realized that I might have some “daddy issues” worth dealing with.
This year, before submitting my entry to an Oprah Lifeclass episode about women who grew up without fathers, my dad and I hadn’t spoken or seen each other in two months. I was beginning to feel the effects of the roller coaster and I don’t care for those in the literal or the figurative sense. Less than two weeks went by before one of Oprah’s producers called me to hear my story, something I thought no one would care to hear. In fact, I have just recently become comfortable calling it “my story”, when for so long, the details- the pain and truth were all my secrets. Sometime later, producers called to arrange a filmed interview and shortly after invited me to participate in the show. Though nerve-wrecking, the experience gave me, and later my father (as he was invited for a filmed interview) a platform to openly discuss an issue that had been suppressed by circumstance for so long.
Participation in the show opened so many doors of communication for my father and me, which has proven to be most important. Personally, it has opened my soul to recognize and receive beautifully-spirited people, like Tunette Powell, whose identifiable personal past and book, The Other Woman, has given me the motivation to turn the momentum I acquired from the Lifeclass experience into a life-long journey. After convincing myself for so long that I was okay with the fact that a father was one thing in life I would never experience, I am finally able to recognize him as a family member and this is big. I still worry he’ll leave me. I still blame him for some of my brother’s struggles. At times, I still keep my distance but I am still learning. I’m still growing. This is all part of my life-long journey.
Charlene, who lives in Chicago, will keep us updated on her journey! You can follow her on Twitter at @SeeCharTweet. Leave a comment or send her a tweet to show your support!