I was sitting in my college English composition class during discussion barely listening, just staring at the wall. My teacher wanted a hand count of how many of us were raised in “single parent homes”. I raised my hand up, along with a few others. In the middle of my absent-mindedness I heard the teacher say, “Keiona? You don’t act like a child who was raised in a broken home”.
‘Umm what, lol? What am I supposed to act like? A savage?’ I wasn’t surprised with her reaction though. It was typical. Like my mom couldn’t raise a child that exceeded people’s standards by herself? Like yeah, of course my upbringing was no fairy tale but don’t count me out that easily. The reality of the hardships in my life is what pushed me not to be a stereotype.
Let me give you some background. I was born to 16 and 19 year old, gang-banging, set throwing, red bandana wearing parents. Both my parents were a part of the Bloods gang and were bounty hunters. I was never supposed to exist, my mom never cared enough to even throw my dad a glance but I was made one drunken night during a gang party.
After my birth, my Dad wasn’t in my life, all he knew was the streets. He sold drugs to take care of himself and as a result I only saw him 3 times during my childhood, in between his prison sentences. My mom on the other hand was a troubled teen with anger management issues and her own messed up family history. She was not ready to be a mother, especially without the support from my father. These circumstances along with other issues eventually led to years of abuse and ultimately my positive mindset on life.
When I say my childhood wasn’t a fairy tale, it seriously was not pretty. Until I was about 9 years old, I watched my mom get abused by my younger brother and sister’s dad. The abuse became an everyday thing, and it turned my mom into a very angry person, leaving her patience for me very slim. I didn’t have to do too much and I’d find myself being beat until I couldn’t cry out anymore, sometimes I didn’t have to do anything at all. It felt like I was always in trouble, for everything, no matter how hard I tried to please my mom.
As a child I exceeded academically because I was scared of what a grade lower than ‘A’ would bring. I was quiet, anti social, and timid. All the tiptoeing around the house trying to avoid my mom made me detached from the world. I found myself spending the most time under my bed cradling myself. You’d wonder how I became a strong minded female after going through all of this.
Put simply, my mom’s hate for men after her abuse and failed relationships is what first shaped my opinion on men. I watched my Mom get beat on for years; guys were seen as violent creatures to me. She always told me, ” giving yourself to a man won’t make him love you Keiona, they all want one thing and that’s sex”. She told me to think of myself as a queen, that was always ironic to me. The same person who made me feel like I wasn’t good enough was the one telling me to think of myself as a queen.
The very same person who beat the confidence out of me and made me timid was the one trying to help me out when it came to guys. I must admit with me and my mom’s very strained relationship, I thought I hated her. It was this same hate that fueled me to be anything but like her. I could see all the mistakes Mom was making. Giving herself to these guys to try to make the “happy family” she never had, accepting the abuse cause she “loved” him so much, spending more time in the streets than with her kids.
Eventually I was so consumed in the hate I felt for her that it overtook my timid personality and my main goal was to be better than her at everything possible. I was confident that I could be someone everyone was proud of.
I didn’t look for love in guys, regardless of my father’s absence. I never became a delinquent; instead I made it a point to try and excel in everything I did. I found peace in writing journal entries even if that meant only the paper in my journal knew how I felt. I also found peace through religion, but that’s a whole other story.
My advice to black females raised with no father in your life is… Don’t let a man’s absence in your life effect you negatively, father or not. Instead, think of that strong woman you have in your life no matter how much you both might argue, and disagree. If being raised by your mother alone meant that your family wasn’t wealthy don’t doubt how hard she worked to provide for you through the struggle.
Thank the queen who saw enough worth in you to not give up. Don’t let hate, anger and sadness consume you and lead you to go looking for the love you never received from your father, in the wrong places. Your father and “your man” play two whole different roles.
If anything the absence should make you strive to become the strong, intelligent, independent woman we are all capable of being. Look at the situation as his loss. If he was a person worth knowing he would be there, so most likely his presence wouldn’t have done you any good anyway.
PLEASE never doubt yourself like I did. I spent years feeling like I was a worthless waste of space. Find something positive about yourself and then build on it. Build up your heart’s opinion of your self-worth. You are beautiful, you are smart, and you are important no matter how much a person tries to belittle your existence. Never settle for less than you deserve.
In learning these things, I am now working on my happiness, and finding satisfaction with myself. I worked past me and my mom’s differences and now we are trying to build a strong relationship. I forgave her. As for my father, he was released from prison a few years ago but my relationship with him is still a work in progress and we are still not that close.
You can’t love someone until you learn to love yourself. Get your education, do big things, and make yourself proud!