Daddy Issues_A True Story
We finally reached the canteen and sat on two plastic seats outside. We were not about to go into the cramped, hot, noisy place with voices running into each other along with bodies of hungry people trying to pass the haphazardly strewn tables and chairs.
It was a particularly hot March day and lectures had seemed to go on endlessly at least for everyone except for me and the cute guy in front of me. We were in that phase where we were still getting to know each other and we could not get enough of it. We were also gaining notoriety as the class lovebirds because we went everywhere together and spent half of all our classes gazing into each other’s eyes. Now, looking back it would have definitely served us better to have paid more attention to our lectures.
One of the several people who passed us on the walkway that led from the lecture hall to the row of canteens greeted.
We were in the view of everyone who passed sitting out there on those plastic chairs outside Calabar Kitchen waiting to be served but we didn’t mind.
“Mr and Mrs B,” another person greeted
“Heeey Bossman, the Boss,” Mr B responded.
I couldn’t wait for him to finish shaking the other guy’s hands and exchanging excessive platitudes so my fingers could be restored to their rightful place, playing in the circle of his palm.
We were never not holding hands. Something about his hands always just felt right and I never wanted mine to be anywhere but in his.
“Hi” I said, waving at my roommates as they passed
“Hmm hmm love birds”
“Ahn ahn you guys are here”
“Bee Bee what’s up?” my boisterous roomie Julie broke from the group to shake my boyfriend’s hand. “Iyawo how are you?” she said to me before re-joining the group.
He finally rattled the servers enough to force them to make time for us despite the lunch hour rush. He always knew how to do that. If I had been there alone, I would probably not be attended to for another thirty minutes.
“Good afternoon sir.” I greeted one of our older classmates.
“Who is that man?” My boyfriend asked with a serious look on his face
“I don’t understand?” I asked confused
“Who is that man?” he asked again
I looked at him suspiciously. I mean true we were still getting to know each other. We had been just friends for only two and half months before we started dating. We had been dating for just about the same length of time so there was a lot of him to know but I did not imagine he was the weird kind of insecure guy he seemed to be displaying at the moment. “ I don’t know. He is just some elderly man I always pass on the staircase”. My hostel was a mixed hostel. The male section was on a different wing from the female section of the building but we had to share the main staircase.
“Yes but who is he to you?”
I was getting seriously irked. “He is nobody, I don’t even know his name. Why are you asking me all these questions?”
“Are you sure he is nobody?”
“Yes.” I replied my exasperation showing clearly in my voice.
At this point, I didn’t even care that the long awaited steaming bowls of pounded yam and Egusi for me, and Fufu and Afang soup for him were finally being placed on the table. He even stopped to make requests for a hand wash bowl, water and Coca-cola.
I was not ‘liking’ him very much at the moment. I was in fact drawing certain conclusions about him that would be very fatal to the relationship.
He washed his hand in the water bowl, dipped two fingers in the Afang soup, fished for a periwinkle and sucked at the shell.
My pounded yam and Egusi had lost all its appeal. And to make matters worse he had that look on his face like he was trying to figure something out. What in the world could he be trying to figure out about some fifty-something year old man that I greeted sometimes?
“You know if he means nothing to you, then why do you keep doing that?”
“What?” I asked fully angry.
“Did you notice that you pulled your hand out of mine the moment he walked in? Why? And this is not the first time it is happening. Last time we were walking in front of the medical centre and my hand was on your shoulder, you shook it off the moment you saw him.”
I was about to protest but I looked down and saw my palms clasped primly on my laps. I did not remember removing them from his nor did I remember putting them on my laps.
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I am very sure of this. It has happened several times. I was trying to figure it out. I purposely waited for it to happen again so I could point it out to you.”
“Yes but I don’t even know the man nor do I care of him enough to worry about what he thinks of me.”
“Baby, I believe you but it still doesn’t explain why you always act like your father just walked in every time you see him. That was why I was asking if you knew him from somewhere.”
“It doesn’t make any sense. If I didn’t see it for myself, I would never have believed you.”
“Yes, but why though?” he said peering at me as if trying to read something on my forehead.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense.”
I went on to worry about it a lot more that day and the following days. I began to be more observant and I caught myself in this a few times too. Which was weird. There is a lot about my relationship now looking back, I realize was a bit much, but I had no such qualms then. I was in love and enjoying every bit of it. There was no logical reason for me to act that way. Furthermore, I was (am) a Christian with a very active relationship with God.
I did have and acknowledged having in the past what was termed as Daddy issues. I grew up in a polygamous home with a father who worked out of town. So, he was more like a visiting dad that was also sort of my benefactor. My mum used to worry a lot about the effect of his absence on me. I did not appreciate that fear growing up. I dismissed it because I assumed that I was growing up just fine without any problems. I never gave it a thought. But a little later it definitely showed up and it was messy. Not as bad as it could be but it wasn’t good. When Jesus came into my life, the Holy Spirit started to expose to me deep issues I had that I either thought were normal or did not realize how bad they were. I was cold, detached and heavily guarded. I did not expect any love or attention from anybody. I never let anyone in and if I did, I was very quick to shut them out at the slightest provocation. I had crushingly low self esteem and believed that if anyone ever truly got to know me, they would see that there was nothing to like. I kept all relationships at surface acquaintance level. I thought being called cold and unfeeling by a boyfriend in a past relationship made me cool. But it wasn’t. I was just unsure, afraid and detached. Little by little day after day God worked in me until I grew up into a better, more evolved, self-assured person with a healthy self-esteem who went on to develop great friendships and relationships with awesome people. Because of this I thought everything was just fine. That was why this event came as such a shock to me.
What I learned, the human mind and human make up is one complex place and it takes a lot to plough through all that. The only person that can help us figure us out and lead us the right way is the one who made us. If we try to go at it alone we would be a bunch of messed up human beings, having issues come up in our relationships that we can’t even trace and that leave our partners befuddled. These things mess up our relationships, both romantic and platonic ones. And this process once begun is an ongoing one. We would always need the Holy Spirit. We would always need to be submitted to the help of God as he works in us day by day to be better and better.
If you are like me and you grew up with an absentee father, in whatever way, whether emotionally or physically, please don’t assume, there is definitely a lapse in there. The amazing thing is, I know from experience that God is the best father there is. He goes into the details when he works in us. He envelopes us in love that no human can replicate. He created fathers for a reason and when they are not there or when they do not operate by the wisdom of God and don’t quite get it right, they will leave some gap and it will affect our lives one way or another. But God knows just how to fix it. No matter how big the issue is; it could be far more serious and saddening than mine; and no matter how little it seems please take it to God. Do like I did:
“Dear Lord, I am discovering things about myself that I didn’t know were there. I believe there is a lot more than I see right now. You made me for yourself, I am your workmanship, I ask for your help my father. I ask for your healing where I have been broken, I ask for your life to build everything that is stunted. I ask my dear father that you go into the detail Lord and cover up any deficiencies in me. I am so grateful for your enduring unending love and your grace through my Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you my father in Jesus name. Amen”
It was a starry night. We had taken a long walk and decided to lay on the tarred road beside the admin building. My hand in his, we gazed at the stars together
“You know that thing with that man you mentioned the other day?” I began
“I think it’s some sort of daddy issues.”
“I know,” he replied
“I prayed about it.”
“So did I”
“I trust God.”