FOR the longest time, I prided myself on not being like the other fatherless daughters—the ones whose symptoms are ridiculed and meme-fied online. I wasn’t promiscuous; I did not supplement the attention of boys for the affection never given to me by my father. I always thought most men were like Republicanism—bland, unimpressive, and best dismissed if only they didn’t make themselves so loud.
I found solace within my own identity, the affection I showed myself. The self-esteem issues I suffered surely came not from thoughts of inadequacy because my father had left his family. I also never personalized anything he had or hadn’t done during the short while he was in my life.
I wasn’t like those other fatherless daughters. I was better, right? I was mature enough to be completely indifferent. I didn’t care and would never.
I didn’t care—except I so desperately wanted to be free of all the tags and labels and titles stuck on me by other people. ‘Alycea Gayle’—who was...? I often flirted with the idea of having been born nameless and with my ethnicity never revealed. I thought of being able to have decided later who and what exactly I was for myself.
I so desperately wanted to escape those labels; it was like trying to extract myself from a rat trap only to realize my tail was caught beneath the metal. Only after I’d done so, only after I had yanked my tail free, would I truly begin to feel like myself.
I didn’t care—except for the fact that though I had seldom been wronged by others, I trusted no one to help me thrive in what would be my new life as an adult in a year and a month’s time except for myself. “I’ve got it!” said with an irritated grumble was my catchphrase--even though I failed more times than I’d succeeded doing things on my own.
I didn’t care—except maybe I did. I might not have suffered from crippling inadequacy or looked for father figures within other men or sought sexual comfort within their arms, but I was still, ultimately, just like every other fatherless daughter with a fractured identity. How would I repair it?
I don’t believe my issues were ones that I would be able to solve with a workshop or course or overpriced therapy session in which the fluorescent overhead lights would distract me from what I was supposed to be speaking about. None of that would help, because so long as I still possessed the very labels that made my skin crawl, so long as I had to be addressed by them and write them down and stick them onto myself, I would continue to be traumatized-- right out of the work I’d done to undo all that.
So, much like many of my solutions, I decided I would rid of those labels. Discard them to never be revisited again. I mean, how hard could that be? My father had done the same.
Alycea Gayle, a senior in high school lives in Washington, DC and writes a monthly blog for Esther Productions Inc.