Writing at Ebony, Ebonie Johnson Cooper explores the pain of her father’s absence and the healing she’s found by reconnecting with him.
It had been over 25 years since I last communicated with my biological father. As far as I was concerned, I was fatherless after the man who raised me died. So when I spoke to him this September, it was like talking to a stranger.
My mother and my biological father “Rick” were never married and I spent time with him infrequently as a small child. I vividly remember my 5th birthday party because it was the last time I saw him. My mother, my soon-to-be stepfather, and Rick spoke in the kitchen of my grandmother’s house about our new family structure that day. I was told Rick had an open invitation to be a part of my life, but I never saw him again. Whenever I asked why Rick wasn’t around, I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone. I was a child; I was to remain in a child’s place. On the rare occasions I did make phone contact with Rick, the conversations were cold and his verbal promises to come see or send me gifts were never kept. My desire to have my biological father in my life was met with constant disappointment. I grew bitter and angry. Why would a father willingly choose to be absent from his child’s life?
By the time I hit adolescence, I accepted the fact that Rick had no interest in my life. I learned to function as if having a great stepfather meant I had a “real” father. After all, my stepfather loved me enough to adopt me so I’d have his last name—there should’ve been no daddy issues there, right?
The truth is, I was angry. I was hurt. I longed to feel wanted by Rick. These feelings translated into subconscious self-sabotaging behavior with men. I believed a man would always leave me and I wasn’t good enough. I pushed men away as a test to see how much they would fight for me before they gave up and left. Tragic.
Read Ebonie Johnson Cooper’s entire piece at Ebony.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.