I hated you for a long time, even before I knew how powerful the word hate was...
Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us. We don't replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways. The inability to overcome resentment probably constitutes the single most devastating impediment to repairing a disintegrating intimate connection, family rift, or severed friendship...
It was the summer of 1995 when smiles would consistently run across my face every-time I saw my daddy. You drove your red convertible Thunderbird through the small town of Allendale, SC with your 5 daughters that you had with three different baby mamas. I was the baby. At 6 years old, only thing on my mind was running around my parent's house and tearing things a part; hence how I got the nickname "Rambo." I remember when I couldn't get my way with mommy, I ran to you, and with open arms, you gave me anything I'd ever asked for. As the baby of the family, I got away with a lot of things, but also found myself getting the most beatings too. Our family seemed perfect in a 6 year-old's eyes, but I soon found out that it wasn't. At 7 years old, I watched you walk out on my mother, leaving her to raise two daughters alone. Seeing you now only on weekends, and sometimes weekdays after you get off work. Nonetheless, at 7 years old, my eyes still would light up when I hear we are going to Daddy's! Weekends turned into seeing you one day out the week, which turned into my mother relocating to Mullins, SC, which turned into seeing you only during the summer time.
Confused. Aren't mommies and daddies supposed to be together forever? Who am I to talk to when I'm being bullied by boys at school? Who will come with me to my Father-Daughter dance at school? I never asked my mom why daddy left us, because I didn't want to see her sad reaction from the questions. Summer is approaching and I get to see Daddy! Excitement, happiness, and anxiousness take over my little body until the day we leave. My mom drops us off for the summer at their meeting place in Santee, SC and it's just like old times except mommy doesn't stay. She greets him with a hello Bernard, gives us a kiss and she's on her way. I finally see my daddy and we laugh, hug, he gives us big kisses and presents to show us how much he has missed us. He tells us on the ride back to his house that, "just because mommy and daddy aren't living together anymore doesn't mean I don't love you. We still both love each other very much but just decided to live in different cities." My sister is 3 years older than I am, so she is grasping the divorce more than a 7 year old would, who is still just full of excitement to be in the presence of her daddy. I think it was "being the youngest syndrome." We go back to my parent's old home for the first time since the split, I still have my own room and so does my sister. Daddy kept everything mainly the same, as far as family pictures still up, teddy bears still on my bed and my Nintendo still in the same place. Everything was the same to me. The entire summer we stayed up late, laughed, played games, went with him to play his number, sat on his lap to drive down the street, and went back to school shopping! We said our goodbyes at the end of July and went back 3 hours away to mommy.
It was this specific summer, I was approaching the 7th grade, and I noticed my mom hadn't told us to start packing for my dad's house like she normally does. Odd. I ask my mom can I call daddy to see what day is he coming to get us cause school just got out and it's time to start packing. She knew I loved my daddy, she knew I loved to be around him, and she knew it would crush me because I looked forward to the summers being spent with my dad and telling me this summer I couldn't go would be devastating. And it was. "Your dad isn't coming to get you girls this summer." It wasn't immediate resentment or hate, I just wanted to know why? I wanted to call and ask him was everything OK cause I was his baby girl. He didn't pick up for me. And the next day either...and days turned into months, months turned into 6 years. I hated him. He missed my father-daughter dances, he missed muffins for Dads, he missed my first varsity cheer-leading game, he missed my entire middle school and high school year, he missed seeing my good grades, he missed my school prom, he missed my first job. It was years of neglect, unhappiness, and depression because he suddenly stopped being a part of my life.
17 years old. Working 2 jobs at Bi-Lo and Food Lion, it's almost high school graduation time. Phone rings. "Heyyy girl, it's your Daddy!"... WHO? Click. By this time, my mom is 4 years happily married to my stepfather who did an amazing job in raising my sister and I. He stepped in and didn't take the place of my Dad, he did 10 times better than he did. My mom was beautiful, happy and enjoying her marriage. We gained two step-sisters, a step-brother, a step-grandmother, and a whole lot of cousins! We were good! At 17, I hated my dad, none of my older sisters spoke to him. He barely kept in touch with anyone. We found out he had new women in his life, but we really didn't care. As graduation approaches, something in my heart told me to stop being nasty and invite him to graduation just to see if he comes. Surprisingly, he does. (Along with one of his new gf's) Now, it's something about being the youngest of your family, you always have a type of baby syndrome; rather it's being spoiled, whining to get your way- SOMETHING! So although I didn't see or talk to my dad after all those years, when I saw him again at my high school graduation, I still ran into his arms like I was still seven years old. He gave me $100 and we headed to graduation. It's almost time to walk across the stage! I knew exactly where my family was sitting so I wanted to glance up to see their big smiles, but I notice my sister shaking her head instead. My dad was gone. He didn't even stay to see me walk across the stage... As I get my diploma afterwards and meet with my family, I'm like, where's daddy? The words that came from my sisters mouth crushed me. "Bernard told us to tell you that he loves and he's proud of you but he couldn't stay." Torn.
You've been accepted to Claflin University for the Academic School Year 2007. Wow. College! Everybody talked about college, but it's finally here and I'm going! Orientation weekend coming up and I did my financial aid, all my paperwork is signed we are ready to go. We get to the financial aid office and my mother looks upset. I hear her ask Ms. Johnson, "Are you sure it isn't anything else we can do?" We get up and leave. I'm looking at my mom like are you ok? What's going on? Can I move my stuff in my dorm now? She tells me we didn't get approved for a school loan. This is the weekend before classes start, I have all my belongings in the car and you're telling me that I can't go to college? We tried calling everyone for a co-signer but they all said the same thing, "we will be denied too." It was only one person we knew for a fact who owned homes, cars, never had an issue with credit, always paid cash for his things and managed his money so well; BERNARD aka DAD. We had to call him, we had to ask; no...I had to ask the man who I resented, who walked out on my high school graduation and walked out of my life; I needed my daddy, I needed him to be the dad that I see on television who spoil their little girls and give them anything they wanted. In the back of my mind, I said it's no WAY a man can say no to his daughter's education! That would be beyond cruel, that would be unforgiving if he tells me no. And that's exactly what he said, NO.
It ended up working out and I qualified for some grants to attend college and I had to do work-study to pay my tuition. For once in my life, I was happy. As I'm enjoying college and dating, I notice that I'm allowing all types of men into my life. It was a good feeling, I've never experienced this type of "love" before from a man, and I didn't want it to stop. Guys would show me the love that my father didn't and I liked it. I found myself letting men inside my life to fill an empty void that I had. I'm always getting angry when they piss me off, and then it's on to the next. Relationship after relationship after relationship and in each relationship, I always found myself angry, starting arguments, being defensive, clingy and dying for attention from them. I kept re-experiencing and reliving my past of being fatherless in ways that affected me emotionally, physiologically and spiritually that eventually led to destruction. I'm now looking for love through sex. I'm filling the void of not having a father love me through sexual acts with different men. It's still not enough, so as I'm cursing you out, something inside me is still hurting and I can't figure out what. Being a young woman in college, with no father was a lot to handle. When I ran into situations of threatened to be killed, I couldn't run to my dad because he wasn't there. When I would lay up with men and feel their every emotion from being connected in a soul-tie, I couldn't go to my dad and tell him how I'm feeling. Growing up without my father damaged my brain, my emotional well-being, my thought process, my actions, my words on how I treated people; men especially.
What causes the unhappiness that underlies resentment?
- What we feel people did to us that was unnecessarily mean, hurtful, and thoughtless.
- What people in our lives did not do for us that we feel they should have done.
- When we feel the people in our lives have not done enough for us.
College went by pretty fast, it was full of ups and downs but I made it. College graduation is approaching and I'm going into serious panic mode of should I contact and invite my dad. The Holy Spirit had to be in me all of these years because as much as I hated him, I always found myself crawling back like I was 6 years old. What made me upset the most is that when I would reach out to him after years of not speaking, he would always act like we talked everyday. "Heyyy baby girl, how was your day?" Um, sir... I haven't spoken to you in months-years, how is this the first thing you ask me? Nonetheless, I always went into baby girl mode and still somehow ask him what I needed to ask. Now after years of resenting him, I never disrespected him and addressed him by his name like all my older sisters did. I always said, Dad or Daddy, even at 25 years old today. "Dad, I graduate this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. from Claflin University which is 1 hour away from your house, would you like to attend?" The response I got from his end of the phone was something I didn't expect to hear...
"Rambo I am so proud of you, I know I haven't been the best father to you and your sisters, but I was going through a lot. I always had you on my life insurance and on my will to get properties after I am gone. I started back going to church, and I'm working on being a better person, i'm even cutting back on my Budweiser's. Britt, I would love to attend your graduation, Oh! And i'll come early so we can all go out to breakfast at Ryan's before the service. I'll be there at 8:00 a.m. Saturday. Love you."
Speechless. The one man who I loved and resented at the same time gave me an apology for the first time in years and I am now 22 years old. At the back of my mind, I was so happy, but then again, this is my dad; the man who always lied about coming to get us, the man who didn't see me walk across the stage 4 years prior, the man who is known for leaving out people's lives without a goodbye. I'll believe it when I see it. Saturday morning comes around and all my family is in town for my big day. Nothing from Dad yet. Mom asks, "did you call him?" Yes mother, he's not picking up. I'm not going to let this get me down, besides I was used to this already so it's whatever. We still decide to go have breakfast at Ryan's and who do we see sitting in the parking lot at 8:11 a.m. before us? Daddy! I was so happy to see him like a kid waking up on Christmas morning. He said, "you thought I wasn't coming huh?" I sure didn't. He handed me a graduation card, and I said no you give it to me AFTER the ceremony so I can know you stayed to see me walk across the stage. We laughed and headed to the ceremony. I must say God works in mysterious ways because that year, my dad stayed to see me walk across the stage and my graduation card had $500 in it that he presented me after graduation.
|Mom, Nephew, Me, + Daddy at Ryan's!|
|Back when I knew nothing about eyebrow's or make-up Jesus. College graduation! I did it! ;-)|
As I transitioned into an adult, I started researching more about anger, resentment, and learning how to let go. I forgave my father and now we have an "OK" relationship. He still sometimes forgets to check on me, but I made it my duty to look past that and reach out to him because he is now a lot older and he will need his daughters to take care of him. I sometimes still find myself getting angry, defensive and having spoiled ways, and when I get into those moments, I simply ask for prayer. I'll ask my boyfriend, my Pinky Promise sisters, my close friends who are now ministers and disciples to simply just say a prayer for me because this was a huge part of my life growing up and it's something I still struggle with today. I'm doing a #21DayPrayer fast where I study scriptures on anger, hurt, and resentment and write it down in my prayer journal and just meditate on it. One of my new favorite scriptures that helps me deal with my anger issue is James 1:19, "know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." I had to ask myself what was the root of me being so angry, defensive, and wanting everything my way? Studies show that women who grow up without a father are more likely to be angry and bitter.
I learned that resentment embodies a basic choice to refuse to forgive, (the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.) All my life I resented this man, and because of this, I never had peace in my life until I ultimately forgave him for his wrongdoings. I clinged to be "right" about everything at all times and never be told I was wrong, because I didn't have peace with myself. I hung on to painful feelings of neglect, rejection, abandonment and hurt because I didn't know of any other way to grasp these perceptions. I had to learn to let go of resentment because if I was to continue, it would only bring chronic disaster in my current courtship and later in my marriage. I had to tell myself that moving forward I am going to always show love, be kind, and be slow to speak and slow to get angry. I had to build up relationships/friendships based on love, support, nurture, and kindness. Letting go of a resentment is not a gift to the person you resent. It is, rather, a gift to yourself.
Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."