Roots: A Teenager Learns About The Effects Of Fathers

Dec 28, 2017

This week on Dayton Youth Radio we have a story about a teenage daughter's relationship with her father. It's from Alexis Jones, a senior at Centerville High School.

In 2016, at the beginning of my junior year, I had a crisis.

It started when my mom met her new boyfriend. They were both from the Dayton area so they spent a lot of time together, and they decided to move in with each other. I had no say in their decision

Even though the house we moved into was spacious, my home life still felt crowded. You see, ever since my parents got divorced when I was three years old, it's always been just my mom and me so I was not happy.

I’ve always been quite, sensitive, caring, a little different.  I enjoy my own company. I love being alone and just listening to music or reading a book, but this was different. I didn't feel that my mom and I were as close as we used to be.  I felt really alone and I crashed.

One morning I just woke up feeling terrible.

I felt trapped. I was losing control and felt suffocated. My life did not seem significant. I didn't see any point in my existence. These thoughts led to an emotional breakdown and I had to be hospitalized.

I was in the hospital for only a week. Though it was not the most pleasant time of my life, it wasn't all terrible.

After I was released, I continued with my therapy. I went three times a week for a little over a month. There were tons of questionnaires about my background, personal life, and mental processes – I realize now that they were all an attempt to get to the root of my issues.

I remember one day, we were in group and the lead nurse was asking about our relationship with our parents. When she got to me, I just talked about my mom. She noticed I didn't mention my father so she asked “Well, what about your dad?”

I didn’t really say anything because my dad isn’t a part of my life. “

Why?” She asked. “Is he a drug addict, incarcerated - are there legal restrictions?”

I just shook my head as a response.

“Oh,” she said – “He’s perfectly capable of being in your life, but chooses not to – so he’s just a jerk.”

When I heard those words my stomach dropped.  That was the start of my journey of understanding my issues and what caused a lot of them.

My dad has another wife, two other children; he has a stable job and is able bodied. Yet he has not chosen to be a part of my life.

The last time I saw my dad was almost eight years ago. I went to visit him in California; I stayed with his new family for three weeks. It wasn’t pleasant, and I’ve never gone back.

He sends me money once a year to cover holidays and my birthday. It’s a straight money transfer from his account to my mom’s and then she transfers it to mine. There is nothing intimate or personal about it. Other than the annual monetary gift, we never speak. I have no relationship with my father and never really have. Throughout my life I was always content with it just being my mom and me - well at least I thought I was content.

In reality my father's absence from my life has harmed me in more ways than I realized.

For one, I don’t trust men.  Whenever I’m interested in someone, as much as I want to get close to them, I can’t. My inner feelings contradict how I behave. I think it's safer for me to not engage - to keep my distance - to not get hurt.

I often feel that the world would be better off if I was invisible. That I am an inconvenience. Because of me, my mom is a single mother, and my father sees me as just a financial obligation. Logically, I know that this isn’t true. But logic doesn’t rule my emotions. It is truly hard to overcome feelings of abandonment and rejection, even if it wasn’t done deliberately. But I am working on it and I realize that before I can fix anything, I have to understand and acknowledge the root of my problems. And I think I’m almost there.

Alexis Jones is a student at Centerville High School. Special Thanks to Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website:  http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.