Friday, August 23, 2013

A letter to that hurt child inside most of us

A good friend of mine wrote to me last night and asked if I could help her out. She remembered that I had written a blog about the feelings I had toward my bio dad and his decision to not be a part of my life. She asked if I could send her links to those posts so she could give them to her college-age daughter to read—she’s having similar issues with feeling abandoned by her father and trying to figure out her feelings.

I was surprised when I sat down to write a letter to her daughter how much advice I felt I needed to give her to help her to deal with such a painful part of being a young woman who feels like her own father doesn’t want to be around her. I began to slowly see every male relationship in my own life and realize how much that hurt and abandonment affects those relationships.

It brought up a lot of feelings I didn’t realize I still had. And it really made me look at myself and see how that one painful relationship paved the way for years of self-torture and self-deprecation.  

Combine that with a healthy dose of other bad relationships and it’s no wonder I ended up where I was—rock bottom and hating myself, embarrassed of the person I became.

I realized that feeling “less than” as a young girl, defined every relationship I had or will have. That’s why that John Meyer song “Daughters” is so powerful to me even though I think Mayer is a DB. We all know the power a father has over his daughter, but we don’t always fully appreciate how much damage can be done with an unhealthy father/daughter relationship.

I worry about how my own daughter will navigate the world—how she will deal with the constant “here today” and “gone tomorrow” her own father seems to bring to her life.  I pray the good outweighs the bad and he can turn things around with her and make her realize she’s worthy of love from a man.  

I can only hope that I am providing the healthy mother/daughter relationship that my children need to become “normal” adults with “normal” love lives.  I’m sure I’ve done a few things to screw up my kiddos, but I’m doing the best I can.
See, not all bad fathers produce bad kiddos

Here is a bit of wrote I to my friend’s daughter—maybe it will make you realize something about yourself, too.

Dear Young Lady,
Sorry to hear you have to deal with so much. It’s not an uncommon issue really, but I know you probably feel like most people don’t understand.
I remember when your mom …
I understand why she allowed you to have a relationship with your dad despite his selfish nature. Her brain doesn’t work like your dads and it’s hard to understand how anyone wouldn’t drop everything to be with his kids. I know my brain doesn’t work that way either.
You have to realize that his actions have absolutely nothing to do with you. It’s hard to understand that until you have children of your own. I know you adore your brothers and feel a responsibility to them, but it pales in comparison to how you will feel about your own children.
I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me—why would my bio dad not want to be around me? What could I do to make him realize I was a good kid?
I finally started to figure things out when I was about your age, but it never really clicked until I held my daughter for the first time and I realized there isn’t anything in the world that could keep me away from her—not even for a day. That’s how normal people think. That’s how my brain works. That’s how your mom’s brain works, too.
My advice to you is to define your boundaries so that you don’t allow yourself to get hurt.
…If they wanted to see me or the children, I would gauge the situation and see if it was something that would cause me stress. If it was complicated and required me to jump through hoops or make myself feel stressed or uncomfortable, then I didn’t do it.
And when they just showed up or called and wanted to see me or do something, I learned to say, “Let me think about it.” That gave me time to look at the situation. If they said, “just give me an answer now,” then my answer would always be “no.”
Take time to set up your life and find your routine, then you can decide where your dad fits into your life—you don’t need to fit into his. He is a grown man and your father, and if he really wants to be a dad, he can figure it out. He’s a smart guy. It’s amazing what people are capable of when they really want something.
Just remember, if he really wanted to do what it takes to be a good father, he would already be doing it and you wouldn’t be in this situation.
Always be honest with yourself and don’t worry about hurting his feelings by saying “no” or “I’m busy, maybe we can do something later.” From here on out you have to protect yourself so that you can have healthy relationships with other people in your life.
Your relationship with him is going to affect all of your future relationships, so you need to find a way to give yourself some kind of peace. I highly recommend talking to a counselor or social worker who deals with family counseling.
A counselor can see things you cannot. They also offer great advice and will help you find a way to articulate your feelings and come up with a good plan for how to deal with this part of your life. You are going to have strong days and weak days, and a counselor can help you with that.
You don’t want to end up like me and afraid that everyone is going to leave you and that you are not good enough for anyone—that you are not worthy of true happiness and real love, or that you are unlovable and understand why people can’t love you. You have to understand your feelings are just as important as anyone else’s.
You may not even realize you have these feelings inside you—that’s why I suggest counseling.
Just remember, everyone deserves to be happy. You are worthy of real love. You have to redefine your relationship with people who don’t treat you with respect and real love.
Trust me, your life is full of people who truly love you. Most of the people I am closest with in my life are not blood related to me. I learned to redefine the term “family” and choose my own family based on three things—they have to love me for who I am, I have to love them in a healthy way, and they have to treat me with respect.
Focus on you future and getting yourself to where you want to be in life. It may be that you have to deal with this situation with your father before you can move forward. But once you clear out the bad, you will be able to make room for good. And as long as you carry around the bad, you have no room for good.
And once you start clearing out the bad, you will probably find yourself crying for no reason—that’s good, it means your body if finally letting go of those hurt feelings.
Take care and please feel free to contact me any time you need someone to talk to.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Escalades, Entourages and Me

I got my new insurance card in the mail Saturday. Robby, laughed and said, “Now you’re considered a real person in America.”

I haven’t had health insurance since I split with my ex four years ago. I’ve been lucky and only had a few minor trips to the ER and a few doctor visits during that dry spell. But what Robby said stuck a chord with me because I was treated differently when I didn’t have health insurance.

I couldn’t get a decent doctor to accept me as a patient even though I would offer to pay in advance—no insurance, no appointment. The doctor I did see was nuts, and I decided I was better off just hitting the urgent care office.

I don’t really understand what happened in our country when we felt it was okay to look down on people who can’t afford health insurance. As a matter of fact, I’ve realized this week how some people don’t think they have to treat other people with respect.

For example, I had to go to the T.I. concert in Savannah last week. I was the only media person invited and I was promised backstage interviews with all the talent—rapper T.I., EVE and Ashanti.

The EVE interview went great—she was very sweet and friendly and her handlers weren’t too bad.

Then with the Ashanti interview, I was turned away before the concert because they were running late. Then after the show, I had to wait for about 45 minutes and had to bully my way back into the dressing room. This is standard and I didn’t feel singled out—I just hate feeling like my time is not important.

Then, she wouldn’t turn to face me while I was talking to her—she was busy fixing her hair for photos. I said, “I guess I’ll just start asking questions and you’ll keep fixing your hair?”

Okay, I know I’m just a newspaper reporter, but come on now. Really?

I thought "she's one of those celebrities who refuses to make eye contact." I was relieved when she did finally turn around and look me in the eye while she was talking. I asked my three questions and left-- I realized I was getting tired and ready to go home.

T.I. still hadn’t shown up and I was really getting tired of being backstage. I started looking around and noticed that there are a couple of different groups of people backstage at a concert.

There was the entourage—of course that was the biggest group there since it was a hip-hop/rap concert. These are the people who don’t really have a purpose but find a way to seem important.

There are the people who are so star struck that every little glance at a celebrity makes them jump around and giggle—even grown men.

Then there are those of us who would just like to see the celebrities, ask a few questions, get a photo or two and go home, and if that doesn’t happen, then it’s no big deal.

I know there was definitely a time in my life when I used to look down on people. I didn’t understand that we have little control over our lives and the paths we may be forced to go down. I didn’t know that 
everything could change with the blink of an eye.

I never would have thought there would be a time when I was divorced with no health insurance and getting government assistance for my children’s health insurance. I never would have thought that I would have to start over financially and have to struggle so much. I mean, things like that don’t happen to good people who make good choices, right?

When you’re broke, it’s easy to envy people who have money. Sometimes I think, “If I just had a little more money in the bank, then life would be so much easier.”

I don’t doubt that’s true and I would be happy to try that experiment, but we all know life doesn’t work that way.

I would rather be broke than broken. I would rather be poor than treat people poorly. And I would much rather be right here where I am than back in my old life where I was miserable and not living the life I was meant to live—even though that life had a healthy monthly pay check, retirement fund and health insurance.
I never thought I would be backstage at a rap concert feeling sorry for the biggest star there—yes, I’m talking about T.I. who showed up very late and struggled to get out of his Escalade while everyone stood around staring at him in shock.  

Just because you pull up in a big shiny new Escalade doesn’t mean you have life figured out or that you are living it right. But, I’ll give T.I. and Tiny the benefit of the doubt and say maybe they were just exhausted from the tour.

I may not have much in my bank account, but at least I know I am a good person and I’m trying to live my life right.

But what’s more important, I now know that just because someone doesn’t seem that they are trying to live life right, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying. Maybe her downfall is not all her fault?

All I know is that you can keep your Escalades and the entourages. I’ll take my simple life and my little plastic insurance card. Of course, if money does happen to fall out of the sky, that would be okay, too.