Disclaimer: this post is deep, personal, emotional and may be a little painful for some to read so there... you’ve been warned. If you’re not ready for some heavy material, you may want to revisit this later.
Also, it has little to nothing to do with sailing or our travels.
I feel vulnerable sharing this but I’ve chosen to anyway. In reading blogs, I have discovered as others write some of those deep- unsaid thoughts or feelings, it makes me feel less alone. Conversely, reading blogs of those different than me has helped me understand the inner workings of their minds. Maybe, I see a new twist on a political view I don’t hold or get compassion for someone I otherwise wouldn’t have. As always, my goal is to bring glory to God and help someone.
Also, I feel the need to interject that I am not looking for any pity or sympathy here. Some of this makes me feel pitiful enough- I don’t need yours too, k thanks!
I’m going to talk about daddy issues.
“My dad has never been in my life.” That’s what I tell people. It’s pretty true but not entirely. I only really have a few memories and the info I’ve heard from others, which is extremely limited.
He wasn’t in the room when I was born. That was my mom’s decision, not his. He didn’t pay child support. I hear he showed up with gifts a couple times but he was never consistent. I remember getting a blue sleeping bag from him- not sure how old I was. When I went to sleepovers, I always made sure to tell people, “my dad got this for me.” As if he was part of my life; it made me feel important.
Around the time I was born, my father was part of a trio of dudes smuggling large quantities of cocaine into the states from South America. I always pictured him akin to Johnny Depp in the movie “Blow.” Some type of glamorous drug dealer.
I had a bad dad. Not a bad man, from what I hear, despite the whole drug dealer thing. He just didn’t do the dad thing. I’m not unique, more people than not these days have daddy issues. Honestly, I think I would take my lack of dad over the abusive kind or the present but aloof dad any day.
When I was 10 years old, there was a point where my mom, I imagine, got fed up. Phone calls were inconsistent. Visits were practically non-existent. And still no child support. He came to visit our home around this time which was the last time I saw him. Shortly after, I was given the choice if I wanted to continue seeing him or cut things off.
I somewhat remember the phone calls being awkward and choosing not to continue to talk to him. At 10, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know I needed him. I held some resentment about this for a while. Blamed my mom. I realize now why she did what she did. She was being a protective mama bear.
When you don’t know a parent, you wonder things about them… What brings you joy? What do you do for fun? Where do you live? What’s your favorite ice cream? Have you ever found love? Do you think about me?
Shortly before I left for Wilmington, my paternal grandfather passed away. It got me thinking… if I was going to see my dad before HIS funeral. Would I have to wait until then to find out the answers to these questions?
I sent a card and some pictures of me and the girls to the funeral home. It was my first (attempted) contact with him in over 20 years. A week after sending the card, I discovered a mugshot online of my father, age 53, and an article about how he had recently been arrested with large amounts of prescription meds, heroin, scales and paraphernalia. The article indicated that this occurred in very town I was about to move, Wilmington. I guess his career hasn’t changed much over the past 35 years.
The people that know him tend to think I am better off without him. I get the sense, when I talk to people, that they are thinking, “let it go,” “get over it,” “it’s not worth the brain power.” I don’t entirely disagree. But, those daddy wounds go deep. He is blood; it means something, to me anyway. It’s easy to get caught up searching for answers that only God can provide.
During the 4 months we lived in Wilmington, I found myself looking for him. Looking intently at people and ruling them out, “his eyes aren’t brown,” “not tall enough,” “too young.” One day, my GPS routed me right to Pender County Penitentiary, where he had been detained. I thought I was in the right location (I was about 3 blocks off.) I got out of my car. It was a Saturday afternoon and family members were showing up for visitation with sweet tea, casseroles, deviled eggs and such. Confused, I stood there, stopped in my tracks, wondering if that would have been me if the cards had fallen differently. Even though he was no longer there, in those moments, I felt close to him.
“I am with you always.”
Not having my father in my life has had a profound impact on me. I looked for love in all the wrong places. Those poor guys never stood a chance. No one could fill the void left by not having a dad. Despite all of it... I love you, dad. I forgive you. I don’t need or want anything from you but I would like to know you. We have more in common than you probably realize. I’ve struggled with drug addiction and have been in pain and unable to love or receive love. I imagine not having your daughter in your life would be a source of hurt and guilt but maybe check who’s dishing that out, because it’s not me.
Something to note about being raised without a dad is that you hold on to any and all male figures. Their importance is inflated. For better of for worse. Teachers, mom’s boyfriends, coaches, uncles; they had the ability to make a big impact. Thankfully, I was blessed with many positive male figures.
My Godfather, Terry, and his father-in-law, Buddy, were probably two of the most solid male figures in my life. The Clingan and Kinder families always welcomed me to their homes and made feel like another member of the family.
I don’t know the men in my family well. My maternal grandfather, who also recently passed away, and two uncles have always been kind and generous towards me. Emotions are tough in the Hickman family. Complicated. We’ve never been close. Not sure we know how.
Daniel’s mom’s family has some examples of truly Godly men. GG-Pa (John), JP, Diego, Tommy and Grand-Pa Mike. They love well with their words and deeds. They show up for one-another. Drive for days to see one another, to lend a helping hand. There is something harmonious about it.
Dads matter. A lot. So, if you are a dad and you are present, fighting the good fight... Bravo. It’s a good, good thing you are doing. If you are a dad and you screwed up and your children don’t want to talk to you, keep pursuing, keep loving, keep trying. And, if you are not a dad at all; you can be kind and loving and still make a difference.
Piece By Piece
To say my husband, Daniel, is the best daddy ever would be pretty cliche. Plus, I mean, there are loads of great dads out there and we are less than 4 years into this whole child rearing deal. But truly, I feel like I hit the husband and daddy jackpot. Surely, I can say this... he is loving, caring, available and he makes decisions based on what’s best for our marriage, our girls and for our family.
When you decide to marry someone, it’s hard to know, really, what your signing up for. You start off with normal married people stuff like how the dishwasher gets loaded and how or if the toothpaste cap goes on. You start to settle into your roles, rituals and routines like who takes out the trash, where we do the grocery shopping and what time we have dinner. When you throw a baby in the mix, with two personalities and two different ideas about discipline, nutrition, safety and care taking in general, things can get hairy. It takes compromise. Relinquishing control. I can see why many marriages split up in those early years.
Staying on the same page is paramount. With busy lives, this can be extremely challenging. When we started boat life, we implemented a weekly family meeting with topics such as Jesus, finances, parenting, goals and dreams. It has helped a lot, especially getting out of survival mode in the parenting area. We share how we’d like to deal better with things or how we disagree with how the other person handled something. It’s super helpful and way more mature than I ever thought I was capable of.
Bottom line, I’m super grateful to have an attentive, caring partner to do adulting with. He is a great communicator and keeps me from shutting down, which is typically my go-to.
There is a Kelly Clarkson song that makes me think of Daniel and the joy of watching him love our girls.
“He'll never walk away,
He'll never break her heart
He'll take care of things, he'll love her
Piece by piece, he restores my faith
That a man can be kind and the father should be great”
-Piece by Piece, Kelly Clarkson
I can only speak to my own issues but a dad relationship often mirrors the relationship between a person and the Lord. It’s something worth examining, meditating on. I think, with my lack-of-dad scenario, it may actually be easier to come to a sense of awe and wonder of the Lord. I’d imagine that having a douchy dad may make that difficult. I don’t know.
“You are perfect in all of your ways.”
-Chris Tomlin, Good Good Father
Maybe you are always trying to please, be perfect, do more. Maybe there’s feelings of fear and intimidation. Maybe you don’t trust God. Or, maybe you are like I was, picturing a God far away, unapproachable, wanting Him desperately and feeling He doesn’t want you. All the same, having an underlying current that you’ve pushed him away. These dynamics are numerous, complicated and can be all sorts of dysfunctional.
Maybe you can picture Jesus sitting at your kitchen table, having a cup of coffee, like best friends. Through lots of work on myself, I’m discovering how to not push others and God away. I’m learning how to not expect perfection from myself and others. My quiet time with God and meditation has been instrumental in this. I have learned to have a healthier posture before the Lord.
Today, I believe and I hear, “I want you, come to me” and can stand confidently in that truth. What do you need to hear from your Heavenly Daddy today?
“I see you”
“I love you”
“You are enough”
“I’m pleased with you”
This topic is way more complex than a 1500 word blog. I will end with this: Jesus came as an example of how to be a Godly Man. Humble. A Servant. Your Daddy in heaven is pursuing you. He is the Healer of broken relationships. The Giver of grace. Keeper of promises. Mender of shattered hearts. So so Faithful. So so Good. He will never let you down. Hold on to that TRUTH. Happy Fathers Day.
Let your light shine.
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