I've struggled with the question of my personal identity all my life. It's something I've kept to myself for the most part until now.
My identity as an individual, as a boy, as a man, as a husband and as a dad was shaped by my own father who abandoned my mom and me when I was 18 months old. I'm not looking for sympathy. And I certainly don't have the toughest dad story out there. Many have experienced extreme trauma at the hands of or because of their father.
My experience with my missing father who walked out and never came back, never called, never wrote and just dropped off the radar was extreme, but its effect were more subtle. The scars are very real and they show themselves from time to time and have effected the way I view myself.
This has touched the way I relate to other people, the insecurities I have felt and the way I saw the future. I admit it.
That started to change last year when I heard a sermon from our pastor where he kept repeating, "Remember Who You Are. Remember Who You Are. Remember Who You Are."
I did find my father when I was in my late twenties. He was wealthy and had another family and was living in a posh house in southern Florida. He disowned me during our thirty-second conversation. I felt a combination of anger and sadness and felt a deeper wound to my personal identity.
It was a feeling that stuck to me like a brand burned into my back that said I was worth less than others. That feeling was like a big monkey on my back that would kick its legs into my side anytime it wanted.
It's a feeling that I never volunteered for and never wanted. I wanted to feel normal like other people. I would for a while and then the monkey would kick me in the sides.
I think I found the answer. It's not who abandoned me and threw me on the trash heap that matters. It's the one who picked me up and who adopted me into his family.
Has the cycle of bad fathering been broken? I think so. I pray that I've learned from my father experience.
I'm thinking of all the kids from single-parent families who are struggling with the identity issue. What can I share that might be helpful to them?
That's why I'm trying to write and share this. We can learn from each other's experience.