I think my Dad ruined me because he demonstrated to me at an early age that people who love you are suppose to believe in you and champion you. He didn’t sing my praises to over exalt me, but he always told me when I did something clever. He scolded me when I acted an ass, but he always talked to me about the way the world worked and how I needed to navigate it to be successful.
My father dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. Yet, it is him who taught me about life, about self-esteem, about working hard, about being a good parent, about how the world would attempt to f*** me over continuously because I was an intelligent, strong, independent Black woman and how I would be unloved for most of my days. He was a high school dropout – yet he saw far into my future and tried to pour in me resolve to stand the storm.
I remember the first time I saw my Dad cry, I was five years old and he was explaining to me that he was sad that I was going to grow up to be a Black woman and no one would value how brilliant I could be or respect how amazing I was. I didn’t think I was amazing, but my Dad thought I was amazing. Before and after my parents divorced. To him, I was fabulous! I think that love held me together for a long time. Long after he died.
The one thing that he did that set the expectation for relationships to come is “believe in me”. So I believe that if someone loves you romantically or platonically in friendship – THEY CHAMPION YOU. THEY SUPPORT YOU. THEY CHEER FOR YOU. YOU ARE NOT A SECRET THEY HIDE AWAY, YOU ARE SOMEBODY THEY ENDORSE PUBLICLY. THEY LOVE YOU OUT LOUD. THEY ARE KIND TO YOU. THEY RESPECT – WHO THE HELL YOU ARE – WHERE YOU’VE COME FROM – WHAT YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH AND APPRECIATE WHERE THE HELL YOU ARE TRYING TO GO.
To me that’s love. That’s unadulterated, real love. I give it as good as I receive it. I always champion my friends, family and even some lovers. I always want people I care about to win at life. I try to be a Blessing and not a harsh lesson in their life. I love through my good deeds, kind words and empathy.
I often wonder who could I have been if I had a solid support system? Where could I have gone in my career if I had someone to truly “lean in”? What could I do and how endless are the possibilities when you are truly loved and supported? What does that look like? How does it feel to have that type of security in your heart and mind?
I wish my Dad was alive so I could tell him, you were right — I had so much to bring to the table. I wish I could tell my Dad, I try so hard to be a kind and good person. I wish my Dad was alive to hug me and just to confirm or validate the fact that “I TRIED”.
I wish my Dad was alive so that I had someone who would dig deep and in those times I cannot muster the energy to cheer for myself, I’d hear him yell “Erica, you got this. I’m here, Girl! It’s Dad. I believe in YOU!” Then I could see his million-dollar smile, again.
Everyone wants someone to believe in them and love them. Period.