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Survival Stories: Halimah DeOliveira

Thursday September 21 is Rape, Assault, Incest, National Network Day also known as RAINN Day. Instead of using a television series or providing an anecdote from my personal life, I sought out a speaker who had lived through the experience. I came to know Halimah DeOliveira through the Circle of Greatness Academy. She sponsored my attendance to a Ladies Only Brunch in Philadelphia in a moment where I needed the positive energy. I would have never guessed that she experienced and survived everything that she had. After losing her biological father at the age of 2, her mother remarried and her life changed. She shares her story in this live interaction, in hopes that another young lady hears her story and gains the power to use her voice against her abuser. Press Play to hear her survival story.

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Let’s Talk about SEX…EDUCATION

About a month ago I reached out to the traphisticated change agents of KIMBRITIVE, Kimberly Huggins & Brittany Brathwaite to do a collaborative call in regards to Rape, Assault & Incest National Network Day. That topic isn’t exactly in alignment with what they do, but they still agreed to talk with me & I’m glad they did.

We talked about everything from whether or not our families had the tools to teach us about sexual health in the home, how both the public & private education systems didn’t support our curiosity or provide vital health information, and that sometimes even those we THINK are qualified to answer our questions really aren’t.

They told me how they fill the gaps for young people that they wished had been filled for them & taught me a thing or two about healthcare, reproductive justice as well as Curls, Condoms & how the products in our hair impact our ovaries. And they introduced me to Darla, the brown Vulva, cause representation matters! So if you missed it, hit play below & leave a comment & tell us what you think, what you learned & who you shared this with.

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Put ALL the cards on the table, or End Up with a BIG JOKER

I shared this screenshot over a year ago. After finding out the guy I was seeing had a child and realizing I had never asked.

See, I had already identified my problem pattern when it came to men. I liked intellectual assholes. You know the type, they can hold a conversation about any topic you’re interested in & the moment they know something you don’t, they wanna make it a teachable moment and make you feel like a toddler instead of their equal. Am I the only one?

Well, seeing this post resonated with me. I wanted to make sure I was asking the right questions. Tumbling over in my mind the thesaurus of inquiries I had committed to my rolodex & getting the important answers.

The next time we met he told me he was a Dad more organically. Drag & Drop all those “important questions into my mental trash bin.

So it was funny to me to find that post amongst my screenshots as I was clearing my phone for space today.

I learned about his childhood. It was similar to mine. Absentee Dad, due to narcotics & incarceration. A sibling here a sibling there. Going months to years between visits and even those memories weren’t always the best. We shared a fear of being hurt and it took A LOT to make either of us angry. Well a lot more for him than myself, but I felt safe with this person. He felt familiar. We had similar backgrounds so I thought I understood his trauma. More importantly, I felt he understood mine.

It’s funny how wrong I was.

To BE continued…

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Fatherless Fathers Day Chat

A couple weeks ago Life Coach Latisha Carr approached me with the idea to do a Father’s Day Brunch for women who have lost their Dad’s or grew up without one. I thought it was a dope idea, put some feelers out there and got a decent response. However, many of the women interested in participating lived nowhere near us, and 10 days just was sufficient time for them to make proper travel arrangements or us to plan and execute with care. So instead we decided to do this live chat where we could engage with our audiences about our experiences being Fatherless & ways to cope.

We hit an unexpected technical difficulty and were unable to be dual hosts as intended. HOWEVER, we persevered and navigated via both IG Live & Facebook to keep the conversation going.

Me: Tish How old were you when your Dad Died?

Tish: I was 23 when my Dad died. It’s still been a lot for me to process, but he wasn’t necessarily a present Dad before then either. So I’ve had a lot of Fatherless Father’s Days.

Me: You mentioned weddings making you miss your Dad, & thinking of who will walk you down the aisle, how do you get through those moments?

Tish: I don’t know, I have uncles and brothers and really good friends so I haven’t decided who I think will walk me down the aisle just yet, but I do think about it when I attend weddings.

Me: I know you’re big on self-care, what tips can you offer to other women who are grieving or dealing with the loss of their Dad?

Tish: For me, I choose to log out of all social media on this day just to protect my peace. It’s hard for me to see other people’s post so I choose to stay off social media this day. Another tip is writing. Journaling, writing down what it means to you to be a Fatherless woman. Sometimes writing things down is a way to ease what you’re dealing with because we sometimes have a tendency to bottle it up.

The tech barrier got to be a bit much at that point so I didn’t continue with the last question I had, but the conversation did go on organically between Tish, myself and our live viewers.

 

We discussed what inspired Tish to even want to do a brunch for Fatherless women in the first place. She shared with us that she had some cousins who also experienced being Fatherless and it was something they intended to do together, but they moved a distance apart and were never able to carry through with it. She said many people go out and have cookouts and it can be difficult for those of us who don’t have Dad’s and having support is important. It made me realize that I had not ever thought to consider my own cousins as a source of support in Fatherlessness. It was something we never talked about until they started reading my blog, and now I get to build that source of support for those of us who are open to it.

We briefly touched on access to therapy and other resources to cope with what it feels like to be Fatherless and how it isn’t always available to the community that needs it. I shared one of my favorite Jill Scott songs THE FACT IS (We Need You) and how it highlights that as Independent was we can be we still need men to be fathers and active members of the community.

Our ultimate goal was to support other women who are dealing with Fatherlessness, but also to gauge who would be interested in attending an actual sit-down Brunch next Father’s Day. We had a handful of women interested in attending the brunch and when asked what they would like it to cover, they mentioned topics like Forgiveness, and never being able to see their Dad. Things I’ve covered over the years on this blog. Things that I could also continue to benefit from, one viewer, a friend of mine from my days in education, suggested we do a brunch for Fatherless students so that’s an opportunity I’m excited by.

If you missed it, don’t fret, just be sure to join the conversation next month. I’ll be releasing that topic in a few weeks. And you can still view the conversation and read other people’s comments on the Daaamn Daddy Facebook page. If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to experience at a brunch for Fatherless Women on Fathers Day feel Free to share them in the comments!

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Feeling Unprotected in the Workplace & Why it triggered Me

A couple months ago I had a moment at work where I felt unprotected. Someone called, I transferred them; the person I transferred them to placed them on hold. She had attempted to transfer them to someone else, but that person’s line was busy. She asked me to take a message. I picked up and said in the professional way I get paid to say things “Thank you for holding. May I have your call back number please?”

That’s when things went LEFT and fast. “NO! I’m not giving you a call back number so you can continue to ignore me!” I tried to explain but he just yelled then called me ignorant when I asked him to calm down. I hung up. He called back, but because there’s no Caller ID, I answered. “Good afternoon Blah-Zé-Blah Health Center” He called me stupid. I hung up. I looked up at the woman who signs my checks; the woman who asked me to get this call back number, in disbelief. She shrugged and smirked.

The phone rang again. “Answer it” she said “You don’t want to miss an important call.” she added. So I did.

Same pleasant greeting I get paid for. It’s him. Yelling. I said “The person you need is still on another line, please hold. He screams “NO, I’M NOT GONNA HOLD.” I press hold anyway. She looks at me shocked, and offers to go tell the person he needs to hang up their other line and answer this man. Before she can move the phone rings again. He’s not on hold anymore.

“Answer it” she insists. “It might be important” she adds. But I know it’s not.

That blinking red line 5 tells me it’s him again, yet still, I answer; because she signs my checks and though we don’t have caller ID, she thinks it might be important. I answer.

Same pleasant greeting that I’m paid to give. It’s him again.  I was told to “SHUT UP!” Called “Incompetent” and every time I placed him on hold he would hang up and call again before I could tell the person he needed, to answer. And she continued to make me answer that phone. I had never in my life felt so unprotected! OR had I?

In that situation I grew frustrated because as an aspiring business owner, I know the key to great customer service is ensuring that my staff feels safe and valued. I was continuously verbally attacked, while my boss stood there and watched. When all we needed was Caller ID and he wouldn’t have been able to continue to verbally assault me without cause or consequence. I also would have hoped for her to grab the receiver and say “Don’t talk to my staff like that” but apparently, she was more afraid than I.

I knocked on my coworker’s door to let her know I NEEDED to take my lunch break. She took her time.

So I sat there, blood boiling, nerves rattling, in the lobby of a mental health clinic on the brink of a mental break down. I tried to compose myself and write down how that situation made me feel so I could share it along with suggested solutions (like WE NEED CALLER ID) with my supervisor.

Once I was relieved for my lunch break I sat in my car in the parking lot on the phone with my mom in tears; recounting my frustrations and the woman who made me answer got in the car parked next to me and rode away, seemingly unaffected.

I had to ask myself, of all the times people have called a phone and been nasty with me, why had this time in particular, struck a cord?

I realized that I had a history of having my sense of safety broken. I’ve shared before that witnessing my sister’s father have conversations with my mother where he had an abundance of bass in his tone, makes me despise people talking to me at certain levels.

How he and I had a physical altercation when I was 14 and my mother watched, paralyzed from the kitchen, not knowing who to defend. How she made me apologize for putting my hands on a grown man and hurting his feelings by telling him “He’s not my father” When he had in fact “Done more for me than my father ever had” And what she taught me whether she meant to or not is that it was ok for me to feel unprotected. It was acceptable for a man to talk to me with too much bass in my mother’s home and decide to strike me for disagreeing. But it was not ok for me to defend myself with my words or with my hands in her home. Because I was a child and I needed to stay in a child’s place, even if someone was attacking me; be it with words or brawn. She taught me what it felt like to be unprotected, so I had to learn to protect myself.

 

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Forgiveness

Ok, Let’s talk about forgiveness. When I received the idea for October’s post on “What Make You Who You AreKori asked me if I had any animosity toward Buddha I wasn’t ready to address it, but I did.

Two weeks ago I posted that he said “Happy Birthday” and I responded and how that was a big step for me. I was on such a birthday high I chose to “forgive” him first in this 31-day Forgiveness Challenge I’m participating in. But did I mean it?

A few nights ago I was having a conversation with my gentleman friend and he said “I don’t think you forgave him.” As tired as I am of having this conversation, I decided to hear him out. He said by not responding to Buddha about where I was spending my birthday I was still being guarded and unwilling to let him in. True, but does that negate forgiveness?

Everyone wants to tell me that my lack of desire to interact with Buddha means I haven’t forgiven him. No one hears WHY.

Kori hit the nail on the head about animosity. In all my blog posts and conversations, I neglected to address one of the most painful parts of my problems with Buddha; claiming me.

I jokingly discuss how I expect my cut of child support arrears first if he ever hit the lottery, but sarcasm can’t sugar coat the child support notice I saw in the mail a few years ago.

I was home from college and my mom and I went to check the mail at one of her rental properties, which was also our old home.

He requested the claim for child support be thrown out because “He is not my father.”

Not My Father Now

I remember how empty I felt reading those words. So many questions. *Why wait til I was over 18?* *What about all those hand made “Love Dad” letters?* *What changed his mind?*

Too much to process. Then AND Now. Whether the decision was motivated by money or a moment of anger, I don’t know. But if it wasn’t bad enough to be an absentee Dad, he had to add insult to injury and petition the court for paternity of my full grown adult ass and deny he ever owed me a relationship to begin with.

I don’t respect that. I can’t, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t forgiven him.

I chose to forgive him for me, so that I could let people in again. That doesn’t mean HE gets to be one of those people. I forgave him for me, because all “Happy Birthday”s at least deserve a “Thank You” that doesn’t mean we need to celebrate together. I forgave him for me, because one of the best things he ever said to me was his presence may have done more harm than good and I believe the same rules still apply. Sometimes you have to let people love you from a distance and as long as you aren’t holding on to hurt anymore, I don’t let others dictate how you forgive.

A daddy is supposed to teach you how to decide which boys/men are worth your time. He taught me that he isn’t worth mine.

My gentleman friend said if we ever have kids together, he’d probably sneak and let Buddha see them. That didn’t even upset me. I’m not threatened by his involvement in the lives of children I don’t have. And as long as he doesn’t let them down like he did me, I would let it continue.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Until then, #iForgiveHimOnPurpose

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Telling the Truth in Television: How Survivor’s Remorse is Getting it Right

Season Three of Survivor’s Remorse touched on so many pertinent issues. Colorism. Abortion. Rape. Not having a living Will. A carry over issue had been something near and dear to this blog. DADDY ISSUES.

This season M.Chuck is in court mandated therapy to deal with her anger. In therapy she came to realize many of her issues lead back to her relationship with her mother. And that relationship is strained, because her mother has denied her the identity of her father. M.Chuck, like so many people I know in real life feel that not knowing their father means a piece of them is missing. The writers didn’t just tap dance around the issue. They let her slowly uncover this root throughout the season; be it by therapy, or hard learned lessons following a night of partying. Real people don’t just wake up with Daddy Issues. Real people don’t automatically relate their emotionless sex lives with Daddy Issues. Real people have o look inward and self-reflect. To me, M.Chuck felt like a REAL PERSON coming to terms with her REAL ISSUES.

mchuck-in-therapy

And as much as I look forward to continuing M.Chuck’s journey with her, she isn’t the only character with Daddy Issues. Another way the writers room got it right is that they haven’t been one dimensional. No two Daddy Issues are identical. That was evident in witnessing Reggie’s story unfold.

restless_reggie

Reggie is a relatively young, married, black man with a career in Sports Management. He’s from a rough New England neighborhood in Boston and has no interest in looking back. He doesn’t want his uncle buried in Boston. He doesn’t want old Boston friends at the Funeral. He Doesn’t want his cousin/client visiting Boston, even for a wedding. For Reggie, his past is that for a reason and all that matters is moving on up. It’s almost as if he fears returning to Boston will turn him to a pillar of salt, and one we learn his Daddy Issues, it begins to make sense. Reggie knows his father; grew up in the house with him and his mother’ yet he still has Daddy Issues. He tells his wife that his father is the embodiment of the word “CUNT”. Unlike M.Chuck, Reggie has no desire to face his Dad or resolve anything. He’s even discarded any photos of the two together. Reggie’s Daddy was abusive, and although he is a young, married, successful black man; nothing seems to be able to undo that hurt. Not even leaving Boston behind.

survivors_remorse_s03e10_still

Reggie was able to leave Boston, because he manages his cousin Star athlete Cam, who is the center of the show. Cam is a well-loved family man, a little bit of a momma’s boy, and being a pro-athlete still doesn’t make him exempt from Daddy Issues. In the beginning of the Season he eulogizes his uncle detailing all that he had done for him, saying “He was everything a father should be” That line resonated with me because that’s how I feel about my own uncle. Cam, similar to myself knows who his father is and describes him as a deadbeat. Not too many examples are given as to what qualifies him as such, but the closing scene of the finale helps it all make sense. (Don’t worry I’m not going to spoil it) In addition to having Deadbeat Daddy Issues, Cam seems to experience some regret around a decision, or lack thereof he made surrounding his own parenting choices. Children aren’t the only ones with Daddy Issues. Sometimes being faced with becoming a Daddy has it’s own set of Issues.

Intertwined with all the comedy, Survivor’s Remorse is unburrying some deep seeded Daddy Issues for its characters & making these characters into Real People.

If you resonate with any of their stories of have your own to tell, feel free to email them to DaaamnDaddy@gmail.com

I look forward to Reading your “Dear Deadbeat, …Love, Star-Athlete” letters.

dear-daddy

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Managing the Pain of Living

September is Pain Awareness Month. I discovered this when researching what resources could be the focus of the bulletin board at the Mental Health Clinic I work at.

*Pain is a warning sign that indicates a problem that needs attention*

This week I experienced a different kind of pain. After finding myself TWICE engaged in draining discussions with “patriots” “protesting” Colin Kaepernick’s Protest, I along with the rest of the world was reminded why he’s been protesting to begin with. This pain let me know there’s a deeper problem than his right to protest, that needs attention.

My body can no longer stand to watch live executions courtesy of Dashcams & Facebook Live. The Audio triggers migraines so I read the subtitles as the images proceed in silence.

“Somebody lost their Daddy today”

My head aches. I drove straight to work from three states away and worked an 11-hour shift so no doubt I’m fatigued. But my sleepiness did not cause today’s head pains. Nor did my dollar menu diet. This, this was STRESS.

“Somebody lost their Daddy today”

Continue reading Managing the Pain of Living

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3 lessons I learned from Queen Sugar

If you’re anything like me, you spent at least two days of this past week watching the two-night premier or OWN’s newest series Queen Sugar. Three things stood out to me that I look forward to better understanding throughout the series.

  1. Blue & Ralph-Angel Bordelon. Ralph-Angel is literally down to STEAL to provide for his son. He’s clearly unable to provide for himself & there are some hints at a criminal past. No matter his past, he’s trying to a present and nurturing Daddy as best he can and protect Blue from the stresses of adulthood before his time. He butts heads with his aunt Violet on the thin line between preserving childhood and coddling a child to ruin. Because apparently, Ralph-Angel himself was placed on a pedestal as a child and now he’s “Wrestling with a world that ain’t got no pedestals for him.”blue-ra-kenya
  2. Micah & Davis West: We don’t see much of these two in the opening episode. However; what we do see is interesting enough. Davis appears to be the type of father content with showering his son with money because “This our real life. Ain’t it good?” Micah however seems to be grounded enough to see past the money and face his father’s flaws. He courageously expresses his disappointment when he tells his Dad directly that he doesn’t need him. He seems to have enough of a moral compass to know when another man is no longer worthy of leading him. I’m interested to see if Davis can regain Micah’s trust.i-dont-need-you
  3. Earnest Bordelon & Charley Bordelon-West: In the season opener we learn that Charley has an MBA and although he doesn’t directly ask for it, her father need her help. He reminds me of my own grandfather when he hits her with the “Hey Baby” style “Just Checking on You” call. She seems like a family oriented woman, but knowing her Daddy needed her help, she put her position as her husband’s manager first. She arrived in town too late to make good on her promise to give her Daddy all her time. And is casually referred to as his “California Girl”. It’s unclear if it’s due to her college & marriage life or if she grew up there separately with her mother. Her emotional reaction upon arrival & her apology at the end of the episode brought some to tears. She appears to have a special relationship with her Daddy opposed to her siblings and I’ll be looking to learn how that came to be.

charley-apologizing

BONUS THOUGHT: Every Aunt VI needs a Hollywood in her life.

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Ghost the Ghost Dad

Last night, I came late to a discussion among young college educated professionals about the show POWER.

The conversation started as a debate of Tasha’s loyalty and Ghost’s lust. The women felt Tasha went above and beyond to be loyal to Ghost, while he took a hiatus from his real life to live a fantasy with his high school sweetheart.ghost-angela-fantasy

While the women in the discussion found it admirable that Tasha chose to protect her kids by refusing to cosign & hive Ghost access to funds they set aside for the children; the men were appalled that she had the audacity to deny him access to funds HE worked for.

Power Season 3 2016

The conversation got heated.

What interest me most about reading through these opinionated exchanges were their thoughts on Ghost as a Dad.

The argument was made that Ghost is an absentee Daddy.

Rebuttal; he’s separated from his wife so distance is to be expected.

Counterargument; Ghost can’t use the separation as an excuse, because Tasha encourages him to spend time with the kids without her.

Rebuttal: Ghost works two jobs to provide for his kids therefore he CAN’T be absent.

That’s where I chimed in. It appeared to me that most of the men felt like providing was adequate parenting and the women in the group quickly pointed out the many specific scenarios in which Tasha had to say “Yo Ghost, Lil’ Man wildin’ come get him.” Because clearly Ghost is too busy to see the signs of an outburst himself.

power-ghost-say-it

 

One of the women in the discussion, took specific issue with Ghost’s methods of discipline. She was disappointed that their son raising his hand at his mother only warranted a talking to, but calling his father’s mistress out of name called for Ghost putting his paws on him.

 

The men felt that their son was out of line and in “grown folk’s business” and this woman felt passionate that any teenage boy would be upset with their Dad for mistreating their Mother.

One of the guys responded “Bad husband doesn’t automatically mean bad father.”

That wasn’t the first time I heard that statement, and under some circumstances, it’s true. Some men don’t allow their shortcomings as a husband/significant other to affect their relationship with their children. However, Ghost doesn’t qualify as one of these men to me.

Reasons why are as follows:

  1. He’s only physically present by their mother’s request
  2. He was uncomfortable when his son prolonged their embrace.
  3. He’s willing to jeopardize funds set aside for the children’s future to fix his past.
  4. He brought his son to learn his business, but pawned him off on someone else.
  5. He thinks providing financially can replace a loving interactive relationship

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At the end of the day James “Ghost” St. Patrick is human, and just like real dads, this Fictional Father is Flawed.