My Father & I

Dad 327 January 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the death my father.

I found myself counting down the days, as the 27th approached. 20 years felt significant. I was going to write a blog on the day sharing some reflections on my relationship with him. But when the day finally came, I found that whilst I do experience writing as deeply cathartic and healing, on this occasion it was potentially going to be a way for me to escape from the emotions that were coming up. And so, writing about it faded into the background.

I was having lunch with a dear friend last week, our conversation soon led to us talking about our parents. I mentioned the 20th anniversary. I told my friend that what really struck me was how much I have changed over the past 20 years, and that the 26-year-old that I was when my father died is a distant memory. If I had changed so much over the years, then my father would have certainly done the same, had he still been alive.

It is impossible for me to accurately imagine what my father would be like had he still been here, or what the nature of our relationship would be like. It often feels like he is frozen in time, whenever I think about him. And it feels unfair to both of us to apply the eyes of yesterday to our relationship of today; albeit a non-physical relationship!

As the past 20 years have unfolded, I have come to see my father through the lenses of three chapters – childhood, adolescence and adulthood. More

Advertisements

My Mother & her Gay Son

Some days it feels just like yesterday when I boarded a late night Nigerian Airways flight from Lagos to London. It was January 1988. I was 19 and all I thought about, as I stared out of the airplane window, was: “At last, I can finally start being me. I can finally start living my own life”.

What I did not anticipate back then, was that I carried a huge amount of shame about being gay. Leaving home had not taken away my pain; it had simply travelled with me. It would take me another eight years, before I experienced my first sexual encounter with a man. Until then, I simply denied the ‘gay part’ of me by taking refuge in daydreams and in a church, where on most Sundays, the pastor condemned gay people. When I finally left the church, I embarked on searching for ‘the one’, which sadly only led to one-night stands and ‘short-term’ encounters. I excelled in my career, travelled continuously and found many other outlets to help numb my pain. More

The Fear of Being Authentic

Ade - LagosI have often struggled with the issue of being ‘the authentic me’ when in dialogue with members of my family of origin.

The issue of ‘Is all of me welcome here?’ is always at the back of my mind. Somewhere along my life journey, I came to believe that I had to censor being myself in order to be fully accepted. And somewhere along that journey, that belief became – ‘that’s just the way it is’.

For a long time that approach was satisfactory, however over the past few years, it has been a hard struggle to maintain the facade of it all.  In most cases, I have found that I resort to a default position of putting my head in the sand, hoping that the situation goes away… but sadly, it does not…. And like Bill Murray’s character in ‘Groundhog Day’ I find myself reliving an exhausting and unfulfilling scenario. More

“This above all: to thine own self be true”

In late September 2010, I visited Nigeria with the purpose of reconnecting with my mother. It was not a journey that I had planned to take, but I had reached a point of where I knew that if I was truly committed to living an integrated and congruent life, then I would need to come out to my mother all over again.

I had come out to her as gay, 15 years prior and in the years that followed, the subject was never discussed again. I knew she was hoping that I would grow out of it. And on my part, I simply did not want to relive the painful events of the night I had come out to her. More

Dance with my mother

To be in her presence is to take off my shoes
and dance wearing the shoes of another
For my shoes are seen as not good enough
my shoes are seen as damaged
my shoes are seen as flawed.
More

Family and the Longing for Authentic Validation

About 10 or so years ago, a close friend and I had as our catchphrase, ‘I don’t need validation, I am validating Me’. I cannot help but smile as I reflect on our pride as we paraded around singing our theme tune to ourselves and anyone who dared cross our path. Our catchphrase was at some point replaced with a line from the Destiny’s Child song “Independent Woman” – ‘I depend on Me’ (said with raised eyebrow and hand gesture – hmm, actually maybe I just made that up, but you get my drift!). We’d been burnt by so many who crossed our path, from family, friends, lovers to work colleagues and somewhere along the line we had decided to develop thick skin and freeze out anyone whom we felt could potentially hurt us.

What I now know many years later is that having that catchphrase was my attempt to protect myself from the pain of longing for validation, that somehow never came in my youth. And on those rare moments when it did come, never recognising it through my lenses of low self-worth and that feeling of being eternally flawed. More

Previous Older Entries

Discover your authentic Self

Share your OutTale with us

Love Me As I Am – The Book