Monday, January 22, 2018

Daddy's got you!

My daughter is turning 25 years old today. She should be happy, bursting with joy as her life is just beginning. She married a beautiful young man, who adores her. She is well educated and has a good job (though it comes with its share of frustrations). She is healthy and she is safe. But she is missing something.

She had to grow up without being able to talk to her daddy whenever she needed a listening ear (other than my own). I can only imagine the pain she felt whenever she needed a daddy hug, the kind only he can give! But like a plant that grows in a room with only one window, she sought the light and she grew, in fact, she thrived.

Raising her wasn't easy though. You see, this peppy girl; high school cheerleader, popular, with friends galore, would sometimes get really angry, at other times very depressed. She would cry sometimes and wouldn't tell me why she was sad. At other times she was happier than a dog with two tails! She was talkative and excitable. As a little girl, she asked a million questions. He middle initial should have been Y. To this day, her inquisitive mind hasn't changed a bit. But as the teen years progressed so did her mood swings and I became concerned. I sought help for my daughter because I didn't want her situation to worsen. I worried that she would not be able to graduate high school, knowing she was so bright. During this time I found out that she had been drinking alcohol, which broke my heart and caused me great guilt. After several months of working with a therapist, she was diagnosed with ADHD. I made it my business to learn as much as I possibly could. ADHD was the culprit that was making my daughter behave erratically; the mood swings, the inattention, anxiety, depression. When she turned 18 and was on her way to college, my daughter made the decision to, in addition to seeing a therapist, begin taking medication. I remember the day she took her first dose. She called me as I was entering the school where I worked and said "MAMI! Oh my God, everything slowed down. All of my life I've felt like I watching everything move around me really fast, and now I can see!!!" With tears in my eyes I responded, "wow, that's awesome!" I couldn't imagine how horrible that must have felt, but that day was the beginning of a new road for her.

Throughout all of these ordeals her Daddy has never known of her diagnosis. He would never understand. He is already burdened with having to survive in a hostile environment and trusting no one. Only recently has he admitted that mental illness is 'real.' He has always cautioned me about false diagnosis and how black children are often labeled with ADHD when in fact they're just being 'kids.' I get what he means, I really do. But I also got to witness my child hurt and then feel better when she was under treatment. So I kept her secret.

She graduated college and then completed her master's degree. Those years were not without drama and scary moments but we got through them. She made it to the other side! Then came the wedding last summer and now she is navigating newlywed-hood along with her loving partner. She has been blue lately though. Being a grown up has proven to be more challenging than she anticipated. She doesn't LOVE her job. She doesn't LOVE the town where she lives. She isn't happy, not "really happy."

I ask her to come, see her dad with me whenever I make my way, way, way up there. But she says no. I wish she would go. I bet she would feel better because her dad has a way to make people feel better. He just does. So I will say to her what I think he would... "All of the answers you seek are right inside of you. Look within. Happiness does not come from external sources, you have to find it inside of you. You are worthy. You are enough. You are smart. You are special. You are loved. You are strong because you are part of me."

So, daughter, today you are a quarter of a century old... go, set the world on fire! We love you!!!