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5 Affirmations To Heal From An Absent Father

Yes, you have wounds, but you don't have to give power to your past.

Inspiration

I read a quote once that said, "You don't have relationship or marital issues, you have single issues." In other words, sometimes, what may appear to be an issue between you and your partner could very well be the manifestation of a deep-rooted issue from your past.

I know this all too well because there have been times – single and married – when my past has been the very thing that caused fear, worry, anxiety, and/or hesitation when it came to love, dating, and relationships.

You see - my biological father was the first man to break my heart because he was hardly, nor was he willing to be, a part of my life. Much of our relationship was comprised of lies and broken promises. I can literally count on one hand how many times I've actually ever seen him in person. Although I've done a lot to work through my feelings and the healing process, I can admit there's a direct correlation between that situation and my relationship experiences.

For many of you, like me, maybe it was an absent parent or maybe it was the lack of love you received from your mom or dad. Maybe you experienced the unbearable grief of the loss of a parent. Maybe your parents divorced or maybe you were adopted. Maybe you witnessed or experienced some type of abuse. Whatever happened, it's possible that it's causing you to feel reluctant, resistant, fearful, or even hopeless when it comes to love and relationships.

Nevertheless, I've compiled a short list of positive realizations, mantras, and affirmations because I want all of us to refuse to give power to the past that tries to keep us from the love that we deserve:

"I can only begin to heal what I’m willing to confront."

It's interesting because I thought I was pretty self-aware when I was single, but when you're in a relationship and especially when you're married, it's as if you're looking into a mirror and you can see a reflection of who you were, who you are, and who you're becoming. I definitely had to re-commit to doing more self-work not only for the sake of having a healthy marriage, but to also help heal some of my personal issues that were starting to show up as marital issues (what I like to call "red flags").

We have to be honest and transparent enough with ourselves and admit what makes us cry and what makes us angry or even bitter. I used to act like it didn't bother me knowing that my father wasn't around, but eventually I had to cry it all out and admit that I was hurt, angry, and I felt abandoned. At times, I felt bitter, but I refused to allow the bitterness to rot within me and control me.

I've had to own up to the fact that I don't always feel strong. I've had to have some tough conversations with certain people. I've had to forgive even when I didn't want to, and I've had to ask for forgiveness. I've had to ask for help, and I've even gone to therapy including couple's therapy. I've had to write and recite daily mantras to remind myself that I am enough. I've had to pray, read the Word, feed my faith, and constantly remind myself of who I am and whose I am. I have and will continue to do what needs to be done in order to heal and prevent my past from having a hold on me.

"God makes up for the losses and disappointment by providing me with what I need."

i.gifer.com

When Eric and I started dating, I quickly realized that our family dynamics were almost completely opposite. For example, he was raised in a two-parent home and he knew both sides of his family, whereas I was raised in a single-parent home and never knew my father's side of the family. That's not to say that either situation was worse or better; rather it was just different.

Nevertheless, God made it so that the man I married had a loving father, who eventually became the father-figure I never had. God not only blessed me with what I wanted in a husband, but He also blessed me what I needed as well. Can my Father-in-love (FIL) completely replace my dad? Of course not. However, because of the love that my FIL shows me, I'm able to at least experience a glimpse of what it feels like to have a dependable father. The same is true in other areas outside of marriage: God can make up for your lack of family with a group of friends who end up becoming like family.

"When it’s real love, they will love the real me...all of me."  

I can admit that I carried some baggage into the relationship when Eric and I first started dating (as did he because men carry baggage too). Some of the issues, I had pushed down so far within me for so long that I didn't even realize they existed until after I got married. Whether it was because of my childhood experiences or past relationships, there were things I was dealing with emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

It can feel a little intimidating and scary knowing that you're carrying certain burdens, because you don't know how the other person will react. However, I knew that if Eric was going to be my husband, then I had to be completely honest with him. When I was able to finally share certain things with him, my husband didn't judge me for it, and more importantly, he didn't run away simply because of it. Much of what I went through made me the woman I am today, and obviously he was in love with that woman…flaws and all.

What I loved the most was the fact that he was more than willing to help me unpack that baggage and leave it where it belonged…in the past. Consequently, our love journey has helped reveal and heal some of my deepest hurts.

Ultimately, God is the source of our peace, but I like to think that He uses my husband and I as vessels to bring about peace for and through each other. The thing about intimacy is that it takes you to a deeper level beyond just the surface. There is something undeniable and euphoric about being connected to someone in such an intimate way. I am most vulnerable when I'm with my husband. So, on those days when I don't feel like being the "strong, black woman", I don't have to be. I can just be me.

Trust that you, too, can experience intimacy on a deeper level with the person who's meant for you. It's one of the sure signs that you're meant for each other. Like they say, "If you can't be real with the one you love, then who can you be real with?"

"I will not allow my past burdens to keep me from my future blessings."

i.gifer.com

Many times, we're hesitant about opening up and experiencing new things or new relationships simply out of fear and/or frustration from past relationships and experiences. Because I experienced so much hurt in the past, I wanted to refuse to believe that a guy like Eric could be as genuine, caring, and faithful as he is.

Then, when Eric got married, the topic of starting a family became a frequent source of tension in our home. We would get into heated debates about when we should start proactively trying to conceive. I wanted to wait and I refused to get off birth control, but he was more eager to start the process. It wasn't until later when we realized that the argument was less about having kids and more about our lack of understanding each other.

After further introspection, I eventually realized that not only did I prefer to wait to have children because I wanted us to enjoy being newlyweds (which we definitely do not regret now), but I was also afraid. I was afraid that my husband was going to do to me what my father did to my mother…bail out and leave me to raise our children on my own. Plus, the fact that my father had abandoned me and I knew how hard it was for my mom who raised two children as a single parent, I subconsciously associated having children as being a "burden", whereas my husband saw it as a "blessing". I was allowing my past to dictate my present situation even though it was clear that I was with a man who truly loved me and wanted to have a family with me, and had no plans on leaving me.

Nevertheless, the thought alone overwhelmed me and triggered emotions and reactions that I had to work through. Because of that, it changed everything about our relationship in a positive way, and it yielded a greater and better understanding for both of us.

"Just because I never saw it doesn’t mean I will never experience it."

Growing up, my mom was never married, and a lot of my friends that I grew up with came from single-parent homes. Even in my personal relationships, up until when I met my husband, every guy I dated prior to him had lied, cheated, and/or did something extremely hurtful and devastating.

The good news, however, is that even though we can't change what happened in the past, we have the power to change how the future looks. Now, my husband and I get to be what I didn't always see…a loving, healthy, and happy marriage. (Note: I didn't say perfect). Just like this quote says, "Marriage is the collision of two histories, but you have to be willing to create your own history." So, that's what we're doing…breaking generational curses and creating our own history.

Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Be open to things you've never experienced before and trust that it's possible for you too based on God's will for your life.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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