The first time I was called a “whore” was by my father. I was a preteen girl, not old enough to understand the word’s definition. My mother had always told me we were Pentecostals. Some people said we were ‘holy rollers.’ No one had ever told me I was a “whore,” until that youthful summer day. When my father yelled what he thought I was, his outburst made me question who was right. Was I a Pentecostal or a whore? I haven’t spoken with my father in over five years. The last conversation I had with him, he called me a “whore.” Twenty years later, I knew exactly what the word meant and I knew what I was. My soul isn’t based in a religious affiliation. I’m ambitious with my sole aim directed towards being a good person. And I’m definitely not a whore.
Women aren’t born whores. Little girls don’t sit playing with their Barbies fantasizing about how much money old blonde hair, turned out Barbie can make Pimp Ken. Women are born as daughters.
In my ignorant judgmental twenties, I went to a wedding where a woman younger than I married a man twice my age. I remarked, “She has Daddy issues.” I was stupid. When you point one finger at others, three fingers point back towards you. I am a daughter once marred in ‘Daddy Issues.’
And yet, I never wanted these ‘issues.’
Every Father’s Day, I avoid Facebook. I hate the pictures splattered across my news feed showing girls with their daddies. They are littered with the caption, “Happy Father’s Day to the Best Dad in the World!” Girls are dressed up, brightly gleaming with love, as they head off with their fathers to a celebratory steakhouse dinner. They’re documenting the memorable times spent with their good fathers.
I want to be one of you. I wanted to dance at my wedding with a dad, not my dad. I wanted to dance with the little girl vision that I wanted to have in a father. The image he portrayed in my head would have been happy for me. In my mind’s eye he would have told me, “You deserve to be loved. You look so beautiful today.”
He only told me I was pretty once. He said the words after I gained a hundred pounds during my sophomore year in college. He said, “You aren’t a bad looking girl when you’re thin.” That’s it. A lifetime of tearing me down never found redemption in his one pathetic attempt. I am pretty, fat or thin, asshole. I am your daughter. I should have always been pretty to you.
Women wear the saddle of horrible childhoods, and in adulthood hot irons brand them with the words ‘Daddy Issues.’ I ask, is it their fault? Should women be to blame because the men who were supposed to love and nurture them are saturated with ‘Grown-Ass-Man-Issues?’
Therein lies the root to having ‘Daddy Issues.’ Little daughters grow up symbolically covering the dirty tracks for their Daddies. These grown ass men have their own issues, and they place the issues on the backs of their daughters. These men are not capable of being good men, and they usually fail miserably at parenting.
Yet, we (women) take the blame for their inability. Our abuse becomes a joke or a condition. We wear the labels of our fathers’ issues. We take the mistreatment in seeking the father figures we never had. We set out looking for love because we were never loved from the beginning.
I own the fact I sought love and attention. But, I am not responsible for my father’s ‘Grown-Ass-Man-Issues.’ Those are his burdens to bear. He is, and always was, a horrible father. The best decision I ever made was to stop being his daughter. His ‘Grown-Ass-Man-Issues’ was a constant stabbing knife to both of his daughters’ hearts. There comes a time where you pull the knife out, wipe the blood off, and walk away. You bandage the deep wound and heal.
The last two nights, I curled up next to my husband. When he found me at 21 years old, I was a Vodka soaked mess. The routine is to always say, “I love you, goodnight.” Two nights in a row he added special words, “I love you. I am so proud of your writing.” I’ve waited all my life to hear those words from a man.
“I love you. I am so proud of your writing.”
That comment should have been spoken over twenty years ago. I’ve always been a writer. The love should have been natural.
Even though those words never came from my father, they came from a good man. A man who has embraced me, a man who has picked me up off the floor when no one else would. As much as I appreciate finally hearing those words, there is one feeling which has risen out of the smoldering childhood ashes. I am finally proud of myself.
I lived, survived and thrived being brought into this world by someone who has ‘Grown-Ass-Man-Issues.’ His issues didn’t end up defining me. They didn’t break me. They made me strong, caring, empathetic, and capable. Most of all, they showed me exactly what kind of parent I never want to be.
Today, I leave behind the words ‘Daddy Issues.’ They were never my issues, they belonged to a grown-ass-man.
They are my father’s ‘Grown-Ass-Man-Issues.’