The Man I wish I Knew by Shalena D.I.V.A.

It has been 11 years since my father passed away. Prior to his death I despised him. I spent years being angry over how he used to physically abuse my mother and how he abandoned me when I was four years old. I also found fault with my father’s life choices. I used to always ask my mother how the smartest man I knew could have allowed drugs to ruin his life. Before my father began abusing drugs, he was a mechanic in the United States Airforce and was later accepted into The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. As the drugs began to slowly consume my father, he dropped out of business school and became extremely violent towards my mother. Eventually, he left home and never came back. I spent years yearning for him and looking around every corner hoping to bump into him.

I finally reconnected with my father in 1995, after years of not seeing him. When he finally saw me again, he had to do a double-take because I was only four-years-old with afro puffs when he last saw me. Yet, I stood there before him as a teenager with a long silky Wrap hairstyle. I fondly remember spending Christmas with my father and his wife and family in 1995. I really felt good about having my dad back in my life because I really loved him although he was absent for most of my life. Things were going well until I got a fateful call from my stepmom in July of 1996.

While in Minneapolis for the LEAD Summer Business program, my stepmom called to inform me that my father had full blown AIDS. He contracted the HIV virus through intravenous drug use. Nothing could’ve prepared me for that news. I became angry with God because I felt as if a dirty trick had been played on me. God knew how badly I wanted my father back into my life and how happy it made me to finally be reunited with him. How could God take my dad away from me—again? What turned out to be a promising summer of opportunity turned out to a summer of bitterness, sorrow and anger.  In light of my father’s ailing health, I tried to redeem lost time, but every attempt seemed futile. My dad would always disappear for days at a time. When I learned that my dad continued to use drugs after he found out that he had AIDS, I was livid. He was making no attempt to help himself. I refused to accept his lifestyle so I “cut him off” although it hurt me deeply. In 2001, after I graduated from Duke University, my father passed away. We never made amends.

As I reflect upon my father’s death, I now realize that I wasted valuable time judging and assuming things about him. I assumed that my father did not love me. I later found out that my father assumed that I was ashamed of him because he led a vagabond existence as he neared the end of his life. This is why he always disappeared whenever I came around to see him. Although my father caused much pain in my life, he contributed so much more and I’m realizing that he wasn’t so bad after all.

Yesterday, I wrote a list of things I was thankful for. Surprisingly, my father topped the list. I was thankful that God chose him to give me life. No matter what happened in our relationship, I was a part of my father and he was a part of me. I was also thankful for the times my father taught me how to read at a very young age. He’d give me a shiny fifty cents piece every time I finished a book. (When all was said and done, I was a rich four-year-old!) My father always stressed the importance of education as well. He was my driving force to succeed in my academic pursuits. It is because of him that I was the first in my family to graduate from college. Most importantly, through his death, my father taught me never to judge anyone.

Although we may not always agree with a loved one’s life choices, we should make every attempt to love and appreciate them as best we can. We never know what someone is going through or what has forced them to make certain decisions. If you have an estranged relationship with a loved one, try to make amends if at all possible. Don’t be like me—wishing you could turn back time.

We should hug our loved ones extra tight and let them know how much we appreciate them. For those of you who have recently lost a loved one and you’re trying to cope with their absence, try to be strong and find refuge in fond memories. These memories will help you to heal and to appreciate your loved one’s life.

Do you have a similar story you’d like to share? Are you coping with the loss of a loved one? Please share your stories and thoughts with the rest of us. Your words could encourage someone else.

Be blessed,


P.S. Remember, everything has beauty—including YOU. It just takes a true D.I.V.A to see it!

© 2014, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Personal Branding| Content Marketing| Product Creation. All rights reserved.


  1. Jasminecowley on July 7, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    i was given this site by a “uncle” of mine today because he thought it would help me with what i am feeling.
    my father left when i was only 1 years old. he took my pictures, my birth certificate everything. it wasn’t until i was at least 6 years old when i would ask about my dad. my mom is a single mother of 3 at the time and she told me all these things about him. bad things, you know like, he would trap her inside the house, wouldn’t let her see any family or friends.

    i really didn’t know what to think because i was only 6 years old. once i turned 7 my mother kicked me out because i didn’t want to listen to her or clean my room. silly as it was. before all that happened she showed me where he had lived, And i went to go look for him. i knew he was married with 2 other kids. but i went anyways. i went knocking on the their door. his wife answered the door with this confused look on her face, i told her who i was, i was balling my eyes out. she took me inside & asked me if i wanted some eggs. i said yes.
    while i was eating i was watching her children smile and watch t.v, my father walked through the door and just looked right at me. his wife pulled him aside and told him something. he came back to me and sat at the table he said ” jasmine?” i looked up at him and just started crying. it makes me tear up now just thinking about all this. he was wiping my tears telling me it was going to be alright, telling me i wont let you go.
    he goes and grabs the phone. i was so scared something bad was going to happen so i followed him into the bedroom, yet he didn’t know i was there.
    he had called family services and told them what had happened. i wasn’t paying too much attention till i heard him say in his own exact words ” i can’t have her here, i don’t want her here”
    i was stunned, I’m a 7 year old who went looking for her father and he sends her away. i didn’t know what to do. i stood there. his wife pulled me away and told me to stay where i was. family services came, said they were going to take me back to my mothers. i was screaming and screaming for him to let me stay with him. he wouldn’t even look at me.
    on the ride back to my moms i sat in a ball crying. my mom started yelling at the people who had taken me home, saying “she doesn’t want o be here take her to her fathers!”
    i felt unwanted. like i was worthless. but now. i am turning 18 years old in december. i haven’t seen my father since that day. i still feel undeniably rejected by him. i cry every now and then. i have been in and out of foster care, but im back at home with my mother. and im happy, some of the time.
    i get so angry sometimes, so jealous because i see all these girls with their fathers, & they take them for granted. i would give anything to have the love of a father.
    i was recently told by my mom that he wanted to meet up before i turned 18, and i don’t know what to make up of it. she is going through court with him for back pay on child support he hasn’t paid. and i feel like he is going to try and get me to talk my mother out of it.
    he’s never wanted to have contact with me. until now, im scared. but i read your article and you said “Although my father caused much pain in my life, he contributed so much more and I’m realizing that he wasn’t so bad after all.”
    i don’t want to lose a chance to have that fatherly love, but i don’t want to be hurt like you were.
    i just wanted to share a bit of my story with you is all.
    I’m very grateful that you would read this and at least try to respond to me.
    thank you so much for letting me share my story.
    Jasmine Cowley

    • Annie W on July 8, 2010 at 10:46 am

      Wow Jasmine. I am so sorry about your experiences. Like you, my father left when I was young (age 6). Like you, I was raised by a single mother with 3 kids. Like you, my father wasn’t there for many years. There were times we thought he would be there – he would make a date to see us but then wouldn’t show up. I being the oldest, knew what was happening & it probably had the most impact on me.

      Like you, I wanted to have a present, loving, earthly father like all the kids that I saw and knew. I believed that having a good father would make everything good and the bad times, better – because in my childish thoughts, two was better than one, right? When I was in my early teens, I wanted to get to know my father. I told my mom and while she didn’t encourage it, she didn’t block me.

      Unfortunately, after almost a year of contact & interaction, I began to see why my mom did her best to keep us away from him. He was immature, unstable, and just using us to get to my mom & get in good graces with his family. After breaking contact – this time of my own – I tried again to reach out in college. Needless to say, that while I hoped he had changed, it wasn’t the case. I don’t have any contact with him now & after much time & through God’s healing & delivering power, I’m really okay with that and have no desire to see him. I wish him the best in his life & I pray for the best in mine.

      There are some things we won’t understand until time passes and we get older. As you approach your 18th birthday, you probably can look back with your relationship with your mom & see things differently than when you were in that situation. Raising kids by yourself is not easy & especially with more than one. I encourage you to talk with your mom about your father. If not totally comfortable, maybe talk with some others who knew your father. Find out what kind of person he is before making contact. Use the information you gather to make your decision about whether or not to contact him.

      Although the results weren’t what I hoped, I am glad that I did get to know my father. That way, I wouldn’t continue with this ideal father in my mind, which would ultimately influence how I interact with other men, including my future husband. For a while it did disenchant me, but like Shalena said, God filled that void, like ONLY GOD can.

      I pray that you will find peace & healing in whatever areas only you, your pillow, & God knows about. I pray you get resolution to not only your situation with your father, but also your mother, and to rejection in general.

      While it may take some time, things do get better when you confront the issues of your past & move on. While you may always tear up, as I am writing it, you will eventually get to the point, it doesn’t hurt. Not hurt, not indifferent, but really at peace. Love you & take care!

    • Mikenda Early on July 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Jasmine my heart goes out to you, I can really related to being rejected by your father. My father never was in my life were I can remember he and my mom divorced when I was proubaly around one years of age because he wanted to be with another family. I tried countless times to have a relationship with him but he always were to busy or didn’t want to be botherd. So I found myself making bad choices trying to replace that love. But I thank God that he showed me that he is my true father and he wanted to raise me all by himself. I want you to take a minute right now as read this and thank God for being there for you even when you didn’t feel him he was there. While you where in foster care and I can only imagine how hard that was but God is going to use that expierence to make you a strong woman of God. As you are on this journey ask God if it is time for to ask your dad those questions of why because until you do that pain will always be there. Never think you didn’t do anything wrong I commend you for taking your voice back. Email me anytime I really would love to see the finish product because know that thruogh pain there comes greatness we just have to go for it.

  2. ShalenaD.I.V.A on July 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Jasmine, where do I begin? I teared up as I read your response because I felt your pain. People don’t realize how impactful harsh words and experiences can be for a young person. Although we may get over the initial pain, those harsh words and feelings lie dormant in our minds and subtlely influence how we feel about ourselves. For me, although I never showed it, I was so insecure and always felt like I had to be the best because I wanted people’s approval because I didn’t always feel like I had my father’s approval.I’m glad that you reached out to me because you have to deprogram your thoughts. Although your parents may have mistreated you, it was not your fault or something you did. You are a beautiful person who is worthy to love and be loved. When a father rejects his daughter, it’s very crushing. And unfortunately many young women, including me, look for love in all the wrong places to fill that void. I pray that God keeps you and doesn’t allow anyone to prey upon and take advantage of your vulnerability.

    I don’t know what your father has in mind or why he wants to meet you, but I think you should meet him on your terms because you don’t need a repeat of what happened before. That will crush you. If you can, try to find out why he wants to meet you. Then decide, if you want to meet him because everything still seems raw to you right now and you don’t need any more pain.

    However, you can start the healing process by asking God to help you forgive your parents. The only way you can be whole is to forgive and heal from your past pains. And only God can do that.

    Please fill out a contact sheet under the contact ShalenaD.I.V.A tab so we can talk offline as well. I want to hear from and help you, my little sister.

    Be blessed!

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