“Permission to Feel the Loss”-By Wayne A. Young – Port of Harlem Magazine

Barras used a personal story to suggest that is possible to find a surrogate to fill the void left by an absent or disconnected biological father.

Unlovable, promiscuous, and over compensating are three of the many feelings that the mostly female group expressed as they talked with Jonetta Rose Barras about growing up without a meaningful connection with their biological father, or a relative who grew up without such a relationship.

Barras, the author of “Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl: The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women,” opened the 90-minute Fatherless Daughter Reconciliation discussion with a game of charades. During the brief activity, the participants then acted out such feelings often expressed during her workshops by women who feel the loss.

As part of A Port Of Harlem Spring at the Alexandria Black History Museum, the noted periodical writer continued to share the story of her mother having had multiple mates and how even her siblings who had a different biological father sometimes inadvertently “made me feel so different.”

Ironically, it was Barras’ grandfather, maybe feeling disconnected from a biological child with whom he was not raising, urged her mother to connect Barras with her biological father. She met him for the first time when she was 36 and did not warm up to him or feel welcomed by his other children. “I felt rejected twice,” she continued.

“You have to give yourself permission to say this situation matters to me without receiving any judgment from others,” she said with strong conviction. “You have to make a consistent effort to deal with the loss.” She then recalled, as her eyes became wet, the daddy-daughter love she had with one of her mother’s mates. Later Barras used the story to suggest that is possible to find a surrogate to fill the void left by an absent or disconnected biological father.

Some of the participants expressed the resentment others often share when they attempt to connect them with their biological father. Another participant shared how her relative would not attend the event because she felt no need to connect with her father. Dr. Tracie Robinson, who works with Barras’ Esther Productions to conduct similar workshops, explained, “every one processes the loss and the reconciliation in their own time, she just has not yet recognized the lost.”

However, Robinson says that after processing the situation some, like herself, decide they don’t want to have a relationship with their biological father. Robinson, whose doctorate is in Transpersonal Psychology, says her biological father was around for special occasions, but the father who raised her, “was there all the time.”

After the smiles, laughter, and wet eyes, the participants were not in a rush to leave. Many continued to chat and some exchanged numbers after the event that Port Of Harlem purposefully held the Saturday before Father’s Day. Father’s Day, says Barras, “can be like a jolt or an electric reminder that ‘I don’t have that.’ It can be a painful time.”

NOTE: Barras will conduct a free and similar program with Robinson, THE GIFT: An Interactive Arts Healing and Reconciliation Experience, October 21, 9:30a to 2:30p at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Ave NW, in Washington. For information, contact her at Esther Productions 202-829-0591.

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