“I grew up a poor boy in Louisiana”… That has always been my preface. It was a way of downplaying any accomplishment that I’d ever achieved. I like being in the background, trying not to get noticed. But, a few years ago, I was blessed enough to meet a great friend that told me that it didn’t matter. She was right. Why did I feel the need to introduce myself that way? Why don’t I like to be seen?
My father and I have never had a great relationship. Growing up, he constantly criticized the way that I talked, walked, and stood. He told me that I was lazy, fat, stupid, and unworthy of anything better. Sadly, I believed it. I felt that if my own father thought of me that way, so did everyone else. Isn’t he supposed to love me?
Parents are like gods to children. They have all of the answers and all of the power. They don’t make mistakes. When I was 17, my parents divorced. A part of me was happy, but another part of me hated that he left us to fend for ourselves. While he was off living a better life, we were left to find food and survive. For 10 years hate filled my heart when it came to him. How could he do this to us? He was supposed to take care of us. He was supposed to do everything right. What was so wrong with me that he couldn’t love me?
But years later, things changed for me. It was my 32nd birthday. The age that my dad was when he left us. I remember thinking, “Hell, I don’t have all the answers, so why would he?” He wasn’t the god that I believed him to be. So, I reached out to him and hoped to connect with this human being. I was surprised to find how open he was to talking. We seemed to connect on a different plane now. I was a man and so was he. My biggest question to him was, “why?” Why did you leave us? Why don’t you love me? His answers surprised me. He said that he always has and always will love me. He apologized for his mistakes and for leaving us. He felt that his criticisms were a way of protecting me. He didn’t want me to have that come from strangers. He was just a man that did the best he knew.
We talk every day now and he’s become my best friend. We talk about his childhood. I’m getting to know HIM. Not the man that I thought he was. And he’s getting to know me. I love you dad!