"The Unforgiving Son"
In this piece our friend Dark Skin continues relating his experience as an incarcerated parent, and the impact of his incarceration on his children.
"What is the recipe for an unforgiving son?"
My second oldest son, D. is probably the most angry with me. Why? I only know some of the reasons: 1) I abandoned him, which is the obvious one 2) I was absent from his life when he most needed me 3) D wanted to, like the rest of his siblings, know why I left him to fend for himself???
No matter what I tray to say , do, or request my siblings to assist with to gain D's trust back, it don't work. D is bent on being angry with me so much that, he won't even talk with me over the phone, or in person. However, D and I did have alone moments on two occasions; Once while hae and I had a visit along with his brother, J and when he came to visit me in Fishkill Correctional Facility (FCF) ini 2009.
The earlier visit was 1998-99, and probably the most memorable and nerve wracking for me because, like his brother J, he didn't express his anger, or frustration to me. I guess he was too young to discover the language to tell me what I have done, or am doing to him by not being in his life. But I knew he wanted to give me a piece of his mind. I could read the non-verbal messages coming from him.
D was about 12 during our first visit, and he didn't give me eye-to-eye contact during the entire visit, only periodically, which I witnessed when he would glance at me when I was asking him a question. I said to myself, 'Damn, he has my eyes, it's like looking into a mirror.' Of course, I cried.
All of my children have strong features, so I was a little nervous about staring them in the eyes, it scared the soul of mine with a deep feeling, very deep. I was trying to find the words to express my deep sorrow and regret about leaving my second-oldest child, but I couldn't locate any vocabulary to say to my son, D, that would make him forgive me for abandoning him at a time when he needed me most. No words.
I looked across the table at my sista, K-boss, for help, but neither did she have the answers nor speech to assist me. So for about an hour, I talked about superficial matters, like his favorite foods, sport, and did he have girlfriends?
'I felt stupid'
For the rest of the visit, which was from 9:30Am -2:30Pm , I cowardly stayed away from the real questions and answers I knew D wanted me to give him. Please forgive me, D, for abandoning you, and leaving you our there with no protection to guide yourself through life. I was a coward! I was less than an animal because animals do not leave their cubs, or the likeness of them which they have birthed. I helped bring you into this world, you are a part of me, and I failed to nurture, nourish and protect you.
D and I don't talk with one another for the above reasons, but I am not giving up on my son, D. i am left with the memories of our second visit at Fishkill Correctional Facility where he and I discussed his pain concerning how I hurt him. My wife and I looked at one another like- this is what we feared for a very long time, our children confronting us with our shortcomings. It was my turn to be checked by my child.
This experience was one of the most painful events I have ever tasted. But, the way D stared to the ground, refusing to give me eye-to-eye contact, confirmed my curiosity as to how much I really f#$%!@ up. The one time, during this emotional visit, that D did look me in the eyes was when he straight up asked me, " Why did you leave me all alone?"
If I were to even try to answer my sons question, I knew he wouldn't accept the reality of my past lifestyle, so I dodged his question and offered an alternate reply; "Son," I said, looking him directly in his eyes, "I won't lie to you ever, but the way I used to live- using drugs, hugging the block, and selling illegal substances, diverted my attention away from my real responsibilities, which was to tend to you and your brother. I failed you, that's the truth, and I am asking for a chance to do the right thing by you." Tears invaded my plea and I wasn't able to complete, or express my thoughts to my beloved son, D.
For the rest of the visit I tried finding out how my son D felt about me, but all he would express was his disapproval of my abandoning him and his brother, J. (My fourth son was born while I wasn't home!) and my response was the same; I got caught up in a drug war. I kept thinking to myself: what is the recipe for an unforgiving son? I had no clue how to win my son back. [crying]
When my wife, son and I sat outside in the yard during our visit, I asked my wife, "What's he like at home?" She said, "He works, and doesn't hang out much like you did!" I felt good about her response, but I was concerned about the deeply rooted anger I detected coming from D because of what I've done to crush his heart by abandoning him. As a father, not always right, I vowed that visit, that day, to find the answers I knew I must learn for the benefit of healing myself and my son, D.
Today, seven years later, my son D and I do not speak over the phone, nor do we communicate through the mail. I tried to reach my son, D, on several occasions by sending messages with his mother, my siblings, my other sons, and calling his cell phone by three-way, but to no avail. D was making it clear, he wanted no parts of my love, or affection as his biological father. <more tears in my eyes <heart>
The most hurtful feeling I felt, from my own actions, was when my son posted this message online (I believe it was Facebook) "Daddy, f@#! you...!" <uncontrollable tears >
When my siblings informed me of the message all I could do was cry because I knew why my son was venting, or publishing such anger towards me. In a strange way, I was not upset with my son for saying hurtful things to me online because I, through my past behavior, earned every bit of the reactions from my son, D. However, I knew right then and there, I must work harder to get back to my children before losing them to their own misguided and unchanneled frustration because of what I've done by leaving them to the streets.
MESSAGE TO MY SON - D
I truly do love you, son! Let there be no mistaken or question of my love for you; however, I am also a victim of my father abandoning me. This is no excuse, son, but do I have any credibility whatsoever by telling you how my father, whom I've only physically seen maybe three times, abandoned me? My father NEVER reached out to me since my twenty-five years of imprisonment, not once! My father has NEVER sent me any funds to my account so I could purchase food! My father has NEVER asked about my welfare since my bid.
Son, during my twenty four (24) years in the streets, my father has NEVER given me one red-red-red cent, not one, nor did my father EVER show me one ounce of true love. But, I do recall one day, during a 1983-4 summer, when my father took me on a trip to New York City, taught me to hold a 22-caliber handgun, and gave me a lecture on the 'do's and don'ts' of the mean streets of NYC. What I learned later, which made me mad as hell, was that my father's real purpose for taking me to NYC was to make it appear that he was legit by having a child in the car so the police wouldn't suspect him as being a drug smuggler. My father had place me in danger, and used me as a cover up so he could buy his drugs without interruption. <crying>
Unless we [you and I] break the cycle of abuse, son, our family will continue to partake in the cycle of abandonment.
Have you sat down and asked yourself: "I wonder what my fathers' past life was like?" Have you ever given thought to the matter of how I truly ended up becoming a drug addict while I was home with you? Are you really up for the painful journey of not having a father in your life?
Finally, son, know that I am not a perfect father, nor am I claiming to have the right to make you love me, but I am pleading with you to at least sit with me to learn my past from me, not anyone else. As you read this message of love, I pray to Allah that you are moved to give me an opportunity to be a better father to you before I am returned to the creator [Allah] Again, I love you! <crying>