A “Dad-Shaped Hole” in My Heart

Father’s Day approaches, and although I rejoice in the wonderful Dad that my daughters have, I take no such joy in my own.

He was an unsolvable mystery to me. He married my mother when she was seventeen and they had me when she was nearly nineteen. My only impressions of him as I grew up came from family members who shared stories of his selfish, immature treatment of Mom during their short marriage. He seemed unable to connect emotionally with others, and from an adult perspective, I wonder if he may have been somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Soon after my birth, my mother divorced him and married her next husband. He was the one I would think of as “Dad” until that marriage dissolved when I was about six or seven years old.

My father checked back in briefly when I was fifteen; traveling from Memphis to Tulsa to sue for my custody when my mother temporarily gave my guardianship to my manager. I was a professional singer living in Oklahoma with my manager while my family stayed in Washington.

He strode into the courtroom, acting as his own attorney, and seemed totally oblivious to the realities of the situation (no, my mother was not giving me away) or any emotions I might have about meeting him for the first time. He lost his case, but my manager graciously invited him to her home to meet with me. I sang for him for the first and last time in my life, and tears came to his eyes.

Silly me; I thought we might have connected. Continue reading

Divorce and Absent Parents

Two Parents Fighting Over Child In Divorce ConceptNot everyone has these issues, but as a child of divorce and emotional abandonment, I have a few strategies to help bring your children through a divorce in a healthy way. 

Some of these strategies I learned from my mother, who actually did a wonderful job of avoiding saying negative things about my father. However, she was only able to do that by not saying much at all.  It was like he didn’t exist.  I shared my younger half-sister’s father for a few years and didn’t really know the difference until that marriage fell apart and it became clear to me that “He” was not really my father at all.  I was a little too young to ask many intelligent questions about my father, and a bit too involved in surviving the fallout for a few years.  When I was seven, my mother married again and I had another step-father to deal with.

As I mentioned before in this blog, my father was never part of my life and that was his choice.  I reached out to him after meeting him at age fifteen.

Continue reading