Bahamian Men And Their Daddy Issues (And Why It’s Time To Discuss It)
So it’s 2001 at the airport and I’m in love with Kandice. I remember because it was the first time my father had really sat me down and gave me any advice. He said, “Kiss the girls but don’t bring any babies home and, for Christ sakes, don’t bring any white women home from Canada because Bahamian women don’t like that.” To be fair, he did break down that I could certainly date a white Bahamian just not a white person…..real niggas know.
I remember bragging about his advice. I joked about it with my friends. I was so proud of his words. It was as if the lord himself gave me instructions as to how to live my life. It’s a core memory I’ll never forget. But, much like the lord, I didn’t follow his rules either….
It wasn’t right that that’s one of few real moments I had with my dad. And, sadly, I fear I’m not alone with my daddy issues.
This is where society expects me to wax poetic about a father that wasn’t in the home. About how my parents got divorced when I was young and my dad didn’t pay child support or love us because of his absence. It’s a racist’s wet dream I’m sure….
Nah, my parents were happily married for years until he unfortunately passed away. 45 years of marriage. My mother, a nurse for 40 years and my father a taxi driver for 42 years. Every night he was at home by 10pm never later. My father believed in being on time. He would have us in Kingsway’s school yard by 7am every morning without fail. Which was perfectly safe because….its not like there was a drowning hazard to avoid…..cause ween had no pool….
My father if nothing else was a provider. 4 kids through expensive ass Kingsway paid for out of pocket. 4 kids in college paid for out of pocket. He worked his ass off to provide us with the ability to be educated at the highest levels. I saw Europe 3 times before I was 27. We were NEVER hungry or without. From the outside looking in I was living my best life…..well, relatively by private school standards. My parents made just enough money for me to grow up broke in private school.
And I know there are a shitload of delinquent fathers out there that have not given a shiny red shit about their kids until they were adults and then got brand new at their reunion. It’s a real thing. But that’s where daddy issues start for us doesn’t’ it?
I said earlier my father lived with us….same house every day of my life. But we rarely spoke. He would drop us to school and then we would be in bed by the time he got home. If you lived in real poverty without a father then trust me, I get it.
Shit, if you lived in wealth without a father I get it. Who am I, with my WHOLE daddy in the house, sitting here typin bout daddy issues. At least I had one I could access. I get it.
Understand that both things can be true. It can be true that those that grew up with NO father battle with that trauma to this day. It can also be true that a lot of us grew up WITH fathers and have just as much trauma. When your dad works that hard that much and doesn’t have the emotional intelligence to articulate “I love you”. Or give you a hug or sage advice while seeing him every day that shit hurts different. You wonder if he really does love you. If he really does like you. And this isn’t some school boy crush….its your dad. Tho, to be fair, I wish it was a school boy crush cause then I could just hand him a note…
I was always trying to impress him.
I’m funny for 3 reasons: I grew up with majority women (and Bahamian women are actually hilarious), humor became a defensive mechanism for my social anxiety….and I wanted and tried in earnest to make my father laugh. If I could make him laugh it was the best day. You couldn’t say shit to me, beloved.
He was so charming, so quick witted. He was my hero. Tall, muscular man with a raspy deep voice. He was my superman. But funny thing about Superman is he only comes when you absolutely need him to….not when you want him to.
At this point I really don’t know what I wanted vs what I needed which is a part of that trauma. It felt weird asking for hugs, for him to throw the ball around, teach me to ride a bike, tell me about the birds and the bees, teach me to drive stick…..literally all things my mother stepped in and did. She covered those bases because she understood. She knew he was working and creating a lifestyle for us that he could never have dreamed of at my age.
But I would sacrifice it all: I would give it all up. The education, the traveling….all of it if we had the relationship my friends had with their dads. Seeing a dad be a dad fucked me up the first time I saw it.
How many of us grew up with zero relationships with our fathers? And zero relationship doesn’t mean he’s not at home or not taking care of his shit or not talking to you. It means we didn’t share thoughts, moments, ideas, love, advice, fun….any of it. Y’all complain about mothers day and how shitty fathers day is but can’t fathom how that queen had to stand in the gap for some of y’all dads on the low. No one made better excuses for my dad than my mom did and I will forever love her for that.
Therapy taught me a lot.
I needed to understand the nuance.
I needed to understand the levels of it all. I needed to understand that I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting more from him while simultaneously understanding why he couldn’t give it. The man had to leave school at the age of 12 to become the man of the house, in the ghetto, after his father died. He worked until he met my mom, got married, had 4 kids by the age of 35 with no therapy, no one checking him on his parenting skills. From the outside looking in it seemed he was doing fucking AMAZING at fatherhood. In truth, with that background story, I don’t know what else I should have expected. This could have REALLY gone off the rails.
Irony is I didn’t want much. Maybe a conversation. To understand what it was in me that was JUST like him that I couldn’t fight and how to handle it. And, make no mistake, I am my mother’s son but I am my fathers child. I have almost all of his traits good and bad and that was NOT the plan. I tried to not be like him. I tried so hard. But I have it all. His impatience, his temper, his humor, wit….shit, even his charm. Cause, to be clear, I’m charming as shit…
I wish we had talked more. I wish I got to know him….the real him not just the surface shit. I wish he had told me that I’d be ok. That he loved me regardless of my mistakes and there were a lot of those. How many of us have never heard our fathers say they love us? How many of us are shaking our dads hands while inside screaming for our dads arms around us? How many of us just wanted them to understand us and our differences? How many of us sold cookies to strangers in order for Kingsway to get a pool to no avail?
I know I’m not alone and I wrote this because I need a lot of niggas to know THEY are not alone. From those without fathers to those whose fathers weren’t in their lives to the rest of us, who knew them, lived with them and still came out a little broken. And no, everything is not broken….but everything isn’t fine either. Kinda like this guy….
Kendrick Lamar released an album last week. He had a song called “Father Time”. A song about his own very real daddy issues keeping in mind his father also lived with him. What was telling was out of all of the 18 tracks on that album I saw screenshots of that song in particular EVERYWHERE on my timeline. Men won’t cry, we won’t bitch and we won’t complain….but we shed our tears in other ways and seeing that song littered on my timelines spoke volumes. Well, we also cry in one other way….
My mom called me in the room and told me my dad had cancer and he was going to die. She said to talk to him and say whatever needed to be said. I did. Sat down, told him everything. That I didn’t think he was proud of me. That I didn’t think he liked me. That I didn’t feel as loved as my sisters. That I only wanted him. In all of this world of things I could want, I wanted him….just him. I needed those hugs. I needed him to throw that ball. I needed those long drives and maybe having a beer together.
He told me he loved me. He said he liked me. He said no one was more proud than him to have me as his son. He showed me texts of him bragging about me. He told me everything about my life that I didn’t know he knew. He told me he was ready to die and that he had done his best to raise us the only way he knew how. With strength, integrity, hard work and always respecting people’s time.
We shook hands like men. We went our separate ways. He went into PMH a day later on a Monday. And he died that Sunday.
I’m saying I loved my dad. I’m saying he wasn’t perfect. I’m saying he was the greatest man in the world to me. I’m saying I wish he showed me how much he loved me.
I’m saying there’s a cost.
I hold no grudges. I hold no animosity. I still love him. The therapy will do what its supposed to do. My mother covers the rest.
He is still my hero….still my superman. Flying above us, up in the clouds looking down.
Sons, talk to your fathers. Fathers, talk to your sons. It’s NOT easy but it’s free and much cheaper than therapy. Let’s be better fathers than ours were and hope our sons do the same. And that’s how you break the cycle. That’s how we all heal.