Can You See Me?

By Tamera Wimbish

I was never used to someone staying in my life. When I was only 5, I remember watching my mother day in and day out going from her job at Safeway back home, showering and getting dressed to go to the children’s hospital for her night shift. My mother has been a single parent since she had my older brother at 17 years old. She worked hard long sleepless nights to make sure food was on the table, clothes were on our backs, and anything we ever asked for was provided. What she couldn’t account for was the cold spot in my heart for the way I view men.

My father was never in my life and this has had a very negative impact on the way I think and act towards male figures in my life. Growing up and watching my friends’ fathers pick them up from school, or going to my cousin’s father’s house made me wonder why my father didn’t want to be a part of my life. Why was I never good enough to have my father come pick me up from school? Or how come my father didn’t want to pick us up on the weekends? I didn’t know I could be so young with so much emotion weighing heavy on my heart. To this day the emotional burdens of my father’s absence still dig holes in my heart. But it wasn’t until early April of 2016 when my emotional pain reached its peak.        

It was a cool day out and I was so excited. Senior picture day was approaching and I had so much to get done; hair, feet, and nails. I started my day off by going to my friend Janae’s’ house because she is really good at doing hair and I wanted to get curls in for my pictures. Later in the day I met up with my boyfriend at the time, L.C. L.C and I had been together for about a year and a half at that time. He knew all about my issues and why I was so reserved when it came to men. Me and L.C went everywhere together no matter the place, we were like Bonnie and Clyde—ride or die, inseparable.

The only thing I had left to do to prepare for senior pictures that day was to get my eyelashes done. The bus arrived with the oil fumes burning high in the air, and as L.C. and I   entered the bus to be seated, I saw a man who looked so familiar to me. I just couldn’t get over it. He was a dark-skinned man with long dark brown dreads and he was as skinny as could be. He looked about 6’2, with a bizarre scar on his chin which reminded me of my dad…

And then it clicked: I’m staring at the man who gave me life.

I hadn’t seen my father in about two years. I know two years, 730 days may seem like a lot, but honestly, I don’t think features change that much. My father sat on a bus right across from me not even noticing that he was looking at his own daughter. Nothing about me had changed except for the length of my hair and my style. I was so anxious, words rushing through my head. I wondered the whole ride until he gotten off if he even noticed me, but there was no way he hadn’t  see me, especially when the most natural thing to do is to look at the people that enter and exit the bus throughout your ride. Most people can’t help but to look up or be forewarned about people getting on or off the bus because you’ll always hear a “beep” when you tap your Smart Trip to enter the bus or when you hear the automated voice say, “Alabama and Irving St” when you’ve reached the next stop.

I was so crushed and I felt a deep emptiness inside of me that day. I was so upset just looking at the person who I always wanted in my life, the person who needed to be there for me yet wasn’t, and he didn’t even recognize me. How can a man go days, let alone years, without wanting to be in their child’s life? How can a person go so long without reaching to his children? Is it too much just to ask how school was or what did you learn in class?  

I can actually say that the first man to break my heart was my dad. It’s not that he made me an emotional wreck–which he did–but him not recognizing me, not noticing me enough to even say my name, let alone give me a hug just hurts. I know that my mother tried her best to play both roles and I don’t mean to discredit her in any way, but honestly nothing can make up for his absence. Nothing could replace him spending time with me and brother. The fact that he didn’t reach out or even notice me for that matter made me feel unimportant to him in his life, or just unimportant in general. He made me feel as if nobody cares. If my own father doesn’t care about me, how could I ever believe that anyone would ever really care about me or the way I feel or why things upset me the way they do.

Sometimes I honestly wonder if he even wanted to have children, or if he ever valued having me as his daughter. I mean what was I missing, really? I always questioned myself. Like what was I doing wrong in my life for him to not want to be in it? So now today, I’m stuck in a position where I feel as though I have to learn how men think. Why do men do the things they do? Are all men the same? These are the continuous things that run through my head daily all because of the once space in my heart that holds the broken pieces my father has left me to rebuild and reshape on my own.

With everything happening so fast I didn’t want to rant on to L.C about the issues that resurfaced once I saw my dad. I kept the pain shielded behind my smile because I didn’t know how that conversation would flow. Later down the line, I did mention to my older brother that I’d seen our father and how I felt during the time, but I tried to keep the conversation to a minimum because of all the emotion that came with it. I just think men are dumb. They don’t know what they want, ever, but they know how to mess everything up just by doing so little. This is what my father has done to me. Without him being there, something so simple, it has left me with this feeling of hatred and mistrust for all men.

I always had dreams about being a daddy’s’ little girl or having my dad pick me up from school from time to time. Not having him around has made me completely reevaluate life and the way I view things. For me, things will never be the same until I come to a resolution to put the hurt aside that I’ve allowed my father to cause. I can never be “in love” or have my “dream weeding” because it won’t be the same.  The man that’s supposed to walk me down the aisle. The man that’s supposed to give me away to my husband. That will never happen the proper way. I never had that father where I looked up to someone and observed the characteristics that I would want my future husband to have, and I have never been able to imagine him giving me off to my man at my future wedding. His hidden shadow in my life has forever scarred me, but as of 2017, the way I see it, some things are meant to be and others not so much.

The only thing I can do from this point on is move forward in my life, continue to grind and work hard to build my career and my brand, and shine past reality and all of the ugly truths that it come with it. I have a family who depends on me to make it happen for us all because I am the first in my family to make it to college. I do believe my  pain will heal, but for now I’m still walking with this empty space in my heart that my dad left me behind.

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