he said‘my absence is strong and warm,it will holdyou.it will teach you how to miss.how to be without.andhow to survive anyway’-nayyirah waheed, how my father raised me
I always told myself that I’d never take my own life because of another man. I thought women who do that lacked self-worth. But little did I know that I would be one of these women I looked down on. Although, to my defence, I can say my scenario is a bit different because the man I tried to take my own life for was not a lost lover or boyfriend but my very own father.
Many times I’ve wanted to die. Growing up to realise that my dad has abandoned me, the suicidal longings have always been a great part of my life. But I’ve never had the guts to go through with ending my life.
However, on this particular Monday morning, things changed. I found myself looking for things that I never knew I was searching. I was scrolling through my social network timelines to ease my boredom, not knowing that I’m about to scroll through an imminent heart-shattering and high-impact discovery that would open an old wound that I had tended to for so long…
I saw pictures of my father and the family he left my mum and me for. I saw how he had been living it up while I had been residing in the trenches, while I constantly begged and pleaded him to be a father in my life. I saw how his first born daughter with the other woman just matriculated and received a congratulatory beautiful brand new car from him. And what about me, his eldest daughter? Five years ago I passed matric extremely well and I never even heard a congratulation from him. I thought I would maybe earn his love, and perhaps making it into one of the top universities in the continent would get him to want to come back. All that I ever wanted from my dad, he could do it for my half sisters but never me.
“…the scar tissue around my heart, in the shape of my father and with stitches in his name, tattered violently…”
And it also dawned upon me that it’s not that my dad was ever incapable of being a good father, he just one day chose not to be a father to me. It broke me, the realisation that I was not the selected daughter to be a worthy recipient of his fatherly love. His rejection sent through waves of unworthiness in me more than any “goodbye” that I’ve ever heard. That’s when the scar tissue around my heart, in the shape of my father and with stitches in his name, tattered violently and became a deep wound. I found myself bleeding out the silent, deep sobs of the little girl who spent every night of her childhood begging God to bring her father back. I became the girl who went to school every morning with eyebags that carried her rejection and abandonment by the man who once saw her as the apple of his eye.
And that’s where my courage to end it all came. I found myself swallowing the bottle of pills one by one. I pretended that they were a pack of sweets, to sweeten the bitterness of the ache that lingered in my throat. I didn’t count the pills; I just saw the container having less than a quarter of the pills remaining. Maybe it was 15 of them that I had swallowed or maybe 20? I couldn’t be sure. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was the abandoned little girl, and the man who was my whole world didn’t want me anymore. My father was like my orbit and his ceasing to exist meant there was no longer anything suspending me in my galaxy. So I emptily and patiently waited for my disappearance.
And this is how I tried to take my life because of a man whom I’ve never been able to get over his walking out of my life. It has been two decades, and I guess this sort of abandonment one can never walk away from because it hurts much more than when it first happened.
Writing Myself Back to Life…
But I will write myself back to life. I will write myself back into existence. I will draw back my orbit with my own words even if the words never make up the structure of my father. I will write and bleed until there’s no more blood to bleed out, and there’s no more pain to write about. I will write until my own words make up lullabies that my dad could never sing for me…
Because it is words that I’ve grown to know longer than I’ve ever gotten to know my own father. It is words that make up sacred books with God telling me, “My little girl, it is alright. Never will I leave nor forsake thee.”.
So perhaps it is in writing and words that my solace comes.