Things I wish my father knew…

If you haven’t been following my blog then have a look at my family situation before reading this post if you have time. If not, I’m sure you will catch up soon enough.

My father was hospitalized for something minor a few weeks back and this prompted loads of inner turmoil on my end. Unlike the situation with my mother I haven’t officially written off my father, but I never see him. Because he is so involved in his own life and taking care of my half brother which he made with a woman that is roughly the same age as me.

Yes. Sounds a bit like a far fetched dramatic soap opera but sadly it’s all true. Even the story about her slashing his tyres and burning his clothes.

After I ended the call with my gran and told my husband the story, he immediately asked if I wanted to go through to the hospital and honestly my gut answer was no.

My father has been a part of my life from the very beginning but essentially he is a stranger to me. Or actually, more accurately, I am a stranger to him. I didn’t turn out the way he expected and I’m pretty sure he is highly disappointed. I am not religious. I didn’t marry the man he expected me to. And I am not good for his public image.

My father is known in psychology textbooks as an ‘enabler‘.

I lived with an abusive mother and a father that enabled her to abuse me.

And yet my father does not see the part he played.

He not only enabled her bad behaviour but also enforced his own brand of abuse. Namely shaming on the basis of religion and gender stereotyping.

As long as I didn’t attend his church…I was going to hell.

As long as I was a daughter I would never have the same amount of respect that a son would automatically earn.

I am not able to have an honest adult conversation with my father, because everything always comes back to religion (which I am not against, but not involved in). But there are so many things I wish I could tell him, if only he would listen.

I wish he knew how I longed for him to take me away from my abusive mother. I wish he knew what a difference it would’ve made in my life to have someone in my corner. I wish he knew how hard it was for me when I finally realized that he too was part of the problem. I felt like an instant orphan in that moment. I wish he knew that there are many times I wish to talk to him honestly and open but every single time I do, I get shot down with a Bible verse and a back handed comment because owning up to the truth is just too much for him.

I wish my father knew the gravity of his actions. And while people (myself included) will argue that he is aware, a big part of me knows that he is so self involved that the abuse was a by-product of that and not the actual intention. I wish he knew how long I waited for him to change. I wish he knew how I PRAYED for him to change. I wish he knew how having BOTH your parents abuse you feels to a child.

I wish my father knew my daughter. She is the most amazing, soft hearted, funny and gentle soul. I wish my father could step outside his closed minded way of thinking for one second and see the child he helped create for who she really is.

I have had a deep raging anger towards my father for many years. At this point my defense mechanism is in over drive and to spare myself from any further heart ache…I feel nothing. But a longing for what could’ve been.

I wish I had a dad that knew what my favourite meal is. I wish I had a dad that knew I love to sing and dance when I’m home alone cleaning the house. I wish I had a dad that could sit around a fire and tell people warm funny stories about my youth. I wish I had a dad to call when times are rough and I just need someone to say “come over, I will take care of you”.

For the most part I get along fine without either parent, but the hard times and the dark times often bring out the sense of longing. And I envy my adult counterparts during this time. Wish I had a dad to call when I have an emergency…sadly not.

I wish my dad knew and understood that the minimal contact between us isn’t because I’m ‘punishing’ him or because I hate him. The silence is because I was neglected and abandoned and so learnt to live without him.

If your knee-jerk response is ‘why not call your dad?’ then you know nothing about paternal abuse. I know who my audience is. And my heart goes out to each and every one of you. You might feel alone but here is this blog to show you that there are others. And we are here, carrying the same silent burden that you are.

I share these words here because I know someone reading this can relate. I’m sharing this to put it out in the universe with the hope that some good will come of it.

I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within. 

First off,that is obviously not an original title. That is taken from the famous India Arie song,but it is just so fitting that I couldn’t help but use it to describe this post.

While I was sleeping a natural hair movement started taking root in South Africa and though I caught on very late I did participate albeit only for six weeks.

So just in case you didnt know,the South African apartheid regime initiated this horrible thing called the pencil test by which people of colour were divided by the sleekness or lack thereof of their hair. This was but one of the apartheid practices that sadly still divide our country and our people. People with ‘kroes’ hair are looked down upon and subsequently they spend hours straightening their locks. 

While I understand that this must’ve been intense for the people in the apartheid era I dont exactly connect the dots in the year 2017. I was never subjected to a pencil test. But funny enough,the first people that made me conscious of my hair were my own parents. I wasn’t allowed to go out with ‘that bush’. My mother would bitch and moan every weekend while doing my hair,as if it were a battle to be won. When I started doing my own hair I was ill equipped,I wasn’t taught how and I didn’t have the right tools or products. When I was 19 I chemically straightened my hair for the first time. I thought it would wash out…it did not. I was mortified. Instead of curls I ended up with waves.

Then I moved out of my parents house and I was free. I was free to do what I wanted,with my clothes and my hair. And I chose to keep it straight most of the time. I then went on to marry a white man. The first person I dated ‘outside of my race’. And he wasn’t even really phased about this hair story. I sat every weekend with my rollers (hair curlers) as usual and when I went to bed I used either a scarf or a swirlkous. My husband is now familiar with the `limitations` my hair has and during winter he often makes jokes as he is running to the car screaming MY HAIR IS GOING TO MINCE,but its not meant in a derogatory way. He has dated white women with sleek straight hair and now he is married to me with not such straight hair and there are no issues. Every couple of weeks when I do wear my hair curly…and I complain about it..he always says he likes my hair curly,as if to say I don’t have to straighten it for him. But I don’t. I prefer my hair straight.

Curly hair vs straight hair

The ‘problem’ I have with the natural hair movement is that now I am a target. I’m seen as a conformer. But as a person who does not feel pressured by society to have straight hair,why does using my flat iron make me a ‘slave to society’ when it is my personal preference? 

The other ‘problem’ I have is the grading system. Unbeknownst to me,they have names for the type of curls you have. And I fear that there are women aspiring to have curls that their heads will never grow no matter how much they twist and coil it,regardless of how long ago they threw their relaxers and flat irons away. 

We all experience life on our own level of understanding. I have had so much shit happen to me that I honestly cannot sweat the small stuff. And in my opinion hair makes it on to the short stuff list. You do what makes you happy. There are so many women wearing make up,glueing false nails on their fingers,dyeing their hair,tinting their eyebrows and altering their appearances in some way or another.Some are doing it because of pressure and others do it because this is their preference.

I followed (at least attempted to) the natural hair movement for about 6weeks. And I stopped because I was tired. And broke. It actually costs a lot more to be natural. I bought flexi rods and new products. And then I had to find time to use all these new things. No more wake up and go,I had to actually spend time in the bathroom fluffing my bush just the way it wanted. My hair was weighed down and my ends were suffering. The naturals might argue that I needed to experiment with different products etc but honestly,I have had this hair for 31 years,I know what it wants. And it did not enjoy being constantly washed and fed products and being combed. I have now gone back to my usual ritual,which consists of a once a week wash and deep condition followed by an old school roller set and then a flat iron. 

I am not completely anal about my hair. I wash and go when I don’t have time but I prefer having my hair straight because its low maintenance and effective. I don’t have to change my hair to suit anyone so I wear it in a style that suits me and only me. 

So I admire the curly bushes on facebook,and I support the movement but I am not a follower. I only hope that this will continue to be a positive uprising. I sincerely hope that this isn’t yet another way to divide us. Respect someone else’s choice as they do yours above all.