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  • Writer's pictureMad Black Dad

Showing My Work

If you don't learn from the past, you gon run that shit back… or whatever that quote says. These days, I find myself at one of those intersections; recall history and try something new (hopefully) or run that shit back and possibly leave this bit of healing up to Dom and Dionne. I previously mentioned that I am “doing the work”. This time I feel it’s important to discuss some of that work on a slightly deeper level. I feel like I have to show more work. I remember in high school math classes, we had to show our work when providing answers to questions.

Here’s my work.

** Out of respect for my family, I won’t disclose too many specifics **

My dad is NOT close with his brothers and sister. He’s the oldest, but they weren't raised together. He was raised by his grandmother (my great-grandma) while his siblings were raised by their mother. As he explained it, when my grandma (his mom) married my grandfather, they left him with my great-grandma. I’m sure my grandma will have a different story, but I’ll probably never hear it. I do know it provided a level of trauma for my father, and though he may never admit it, this made him bitter. I believe to this day, he still harbors some resentment. He can be in the same city and never speak to them. He’s selective about contacting them... In his defense, so are they. I think there’s a barrier that may be too painful for either side to address. I’ve seen some of the fallout firsthand.

Hold that thought.

My mom is the youngest of her siblings. A couple of them were well into adulthood by the time she was coming of age. They often share stories about growing up, and for the most part, all of their stories align. But the devil is in the details. I know well enough that the untold stories are the ones that hold new truths and alternative experiences. My mom’s side will talk to each other, but they often sweep certain things under the rug, they fail to validate feelings, right certain wrongs, and struggle to affirm the ones that need it the most. Some perspectives that deviate from a certain narrative are dead on arrival, in hopes to maintain a rosy appearance.

So, here I am… at the intersection of ignoring and denying. As I consider the kind of relationship I want with my birth family (not Leah, Dom & Dionne), I wonder… TF am I supposed to do with this shit? Based on my quick history lesson, you could probably guess where my previously stated examples would lead me.

Here’s where my work begins

For most of my life, I did not speak about my feelings, but through some therapy, some writing, some maturity, and support from my wife, I'm talking more than ever. I’m communicating better too. It is still a novel practice for me, and sometimes my delivery comes off harshly, but I'm moving in an honest attempt to address the hurt that I tend to collect. I’m a work in progress, I will get better with time and effort. I look at my relationship with my brother and sister. It is inconsistent at best and in many ways, it mirrors my dad’s relationship with his siblings, even if the origins are different. I consider how I too at times, behave like my mother’s side and sweep issues under the rug or fail to affirm the ones that need it the most.

I apologize y’all… I will work to do better.

I cannot predict the future, but my goal is to foster healthier and safer spaces with my relatives. Spaces where we can uplift each other as well as hold each other accountable with love and respect. Spaces where we can shed light on the dark secrets that plague not just ourselves, but the ones that loom over the entire family tree(s).

I think about Dom and Dionne, who is about the same age difference as my sister and I. As they get older, they’ll naturally begin to rely on each other. If they were to follow my current example… well, they’d have some issues. So I have to do better, if not for my parents and siblings, than for my kids. I hope they inherit my best traits. Let’s get to work.


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