Sunday, June 17, 2012

...And A Father Was Given To Her ~ A Daughter's Tribute

Before the age of 8 I had no father.  I didn't even have a grandfather.  My biological father had abandoned his family, us, before I turned 2 years old, and with him went a set of grandparents who, I was told, as it was, chose to stay out of the picture anyway.  My mother's father had died long before I entered this world.  So during my formative years, I had no concept of what a father was, or the importance of what a father represents and gives to a young girl's life.  The only knowledge I had of the father role was as a distant witness to the relationship my cousins and friends had with their fathers. 

From a young girl's mind and heart, I didn't yet have the capacity to understand the emotions that arose within me as I watched other children and their fathers interact.  It wasn't until much later that I could identify and name that what I was feeling was longing, a yearning desire, and with it a sense of confusion from a sense of being isolated from what other children had.  A sense of missing something important that I should have too, but could only watch from the other side of the glass.

Unfortunately, when my step dad entered the scene, when I was 8, I had already experienced, too much, the darkest nature of men.  For me, that is the only definition I had to go by.  And by definition, how I viewed men in general, and myself as a female in relation to the male, was already taking form within me, and was ruled by nightmares.  Through my eyes, men not only abandoned their children, they also crossed lines through the form of physical and sexual abuse.  To say I was distrustful by the time my step dad arrived would be an understatement. 

Understand, my dad wasn't made aware of any of this until I was well into adulthood.  All he knew was I was a troubled little girl.  My mother didn't even know.  Not only did I hold the dark secrets of men in silence, but even if I could speak of it, I had no words in my vocabulary to cover the magnitude of my experiences with them.  So this new man, this "stand in" for a father, as I initially viewed him, this stranger who entered my house and my world, was, from the beginning, viewed from a place of very real fear.  The thought that I needed to protect myself, and couldn't with a man in the house, forced me to keep my defenses up, always on guard, with antennae out, watching for any sudden discrepancies of behavior, and/or energy.   

My a good man.  I sit here in tears so profoundly grateful for his goodness.  For without that innate goodness that lives within him, naturally, as a man, and my experiences with that goodness, I wouldn't have been able to see another view of men.  By simply being who he is, I learned, slowly, that there are men in this world who can be trusted.  It was a slow process for him to finally win over my trust.  And he did that without even knowing why my distrust was in existence.  He was the very first man I gave my trust to.  I'm not even sure he is aware of just how precious that is, and what that says about him as a man, and a father.

One vivid memory stands shining, of a night when I finally stepped the rest of the way into giving my trust to a man.  And it is that night, that I knew for certain, that this man, was in every way, my dad.  For the first time in my life, I knew what it was to have a father --

I had snuck out of the house late one night after my parents had gone to sleep.  I wanted to be with my big sister and her friends, and didn't know why I couldn't stay out with her.  At some point, she told me I should get back, so I reluctantly snuck back into the house, and as I made my way through the living room, I heard the door from my parent's room open.  I hid behind the wall in the kitchen, which blocked the view from the hallway where I heard the footsteps of my dad.  I heard him check the front door, and then all I heard was silence.  Then, suddenly, he stepped into the kitchen.  I flattened myself as much as I could against the wall.  He walked a short distance away from me, then turned.  My heart was beating wildly, but when he turned around, and my eyes adjusted to what he was wearing, it stopped pumping, and I felt myself gripped by an unreasonable terror. 

He was dressed only in his underwear, and it was just he and I standing alone in the dark.  I knew I was in trouble anyway, for disobeying him, but that trouble paled in comparison to the unbidden question that arose in my mind, "Am I safe?"  I couldn't move, and when he finally spoke, he asked, "Didn't I tell you that you couldn't go outside?"  It took me a long time to speak, but I finally squeaked out an answer, "Yes."  I heard him sigh, and then he said, "Go to bed, Cindy.  We'll talk about this tomorrow."  I ran as quickly as I could to my room, and when I got there I don't know how long I stood, in a daze, waiting for the knowledge that was slowly hitting me to settle in...

I was safe.  I was safe...with my dad. 

From that moment on, I let the guards go.  They were no longer needed to defend me.  My approach to my dad changed.  I found myself opening up more, feeling freer to express who I was with him. 

The poem below is dedicated to my dad, the only father I've ever known...and the first man to lead me toward the light of healing. Simply by being...a good man.

Without You

How could you know,
when a young girl
stood before you,
that her dwelling place
was the dark side
of the moon?

She had no words
no voice
to be able to name
all the shadows
witnessed in men.

How could you know
that for her
you were a kind
suddenly appearing
from the light?

You offered her another
view of the moon
a place of hope
within her
she never knew.

You did not know
it was you that
led her to the light
offering her a hand
and from there
she could finally see
the Sun.

Without you
and the love you gave
she'd still be standing
lost and forgotten
in the dark.


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