DADDY CONTRIBUTOR: Ishna Hagan

Unlike The Unhappy Wife book, Daddy is not written by me. This anthology includes stories written by women, who felt it important to publicly re-tell narratives centered on their relationship with their father. Each woman’s purpose is similar, yet different. Every Friday, I invite you to read about their reason why.

Today, meet Ishna Hagan, author of “The Deprivation of a Father’s Love,” which describes the impact of physical and financial abandonment.

1521808695783Why were you inspired to contribute to this book? I like to be onboard with any project Katherin takes on. I know it’ll be good, and she is great at executing and bringing it all together. I also know for her anthology, I could offer an honest story about my and my father’s relationship. Furthermore, I write. Everything fell right into place.

What is your father-daughter relationship like now? My dad and I are cool. I visit him and will take my 3-year-old daughter to see him. I always have a place to stay and food when I’m in town.

If there is one thing you could tell your father what would it be? I wish we were closer.

What do you hope your story accomplishes? I hope fathers do better to be honest. I hope they hear our cry for improvement. Also, I want to encourage women to be conscious of with whom they procreate. It’s a game-changer. (Ask me how I know).

What are you working on currently? I am currently working on my music review website, Just One Thing. Like music? Please visit.

ishnaIshna Hagan creates marketing-driven website copy and e-commerce stores for North American businesses. She is also a published author—most notably for her article “Gulf Residents Protest, Brace Themselves for Effects of Oil Spill” (National Newspaper Association, 2010) and for her WUSA9 online news reports. Ishna has one beautiful daughter and is a proud Howard University graduate.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Hagan, The Rhode Island Center for Justice. This organization partners with community groups to protect legal rights and to ensure justice for vulnerable individuals, families, and communities. The Center provides free civil legal assistance to low-income Rhode Islanders, engages in key impact litigation affecting the rights and wellbeing of thousands across the State, and conducts legislative and policy advocacy on behalf of the communities. 

The eBook version of Daddy is available now for pre-order!

The paperback version of Daddy is available for order here.

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Saying “F*ck you” versus Releasing Expectations as a Way to Deal with Rejection

I was introduced to rejection when I was born. My schizophrenic mother abandoned me in an apartment when I was five months old. As a result, I had implicitly learned that sometimes people give up on you when they are incapable and life is unbearable.

When I was seventeen, the cycle repeated. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t belabor the point. But, in 1990 my dad gave up his parental rights, once again teaching me the same invaluable lesson: people give up on you when they are inept and life is too much.

Like many people, I developed some coping mechanisms. I began to read people and interpret their actions. Any slight rejection equaled an abandonment warning sign, and warranted a preemptive, “F*ck you” before I thought the other person would pack up and leave.

You don’t want me in your life? So. I don’t want you in my life. Deuces!

You’re rejecting me and my personality? Nope. I’m rejecting you and your personality.

aloneFor a very long time, that’s how I functioned. It was unhealthy. It was immature. And it left me by myself in some ways, because eventually, when you hand out a round of unwarranted “F*ck yous,” you’re bound to be left standing in a circle by yourself.

I had to change.

About six years ago, I learned to release expectations instead. Many people have wondered how I can release expectations of people with whom I share a relationship? The answer is not easy.

First, I recognize that people can reject parts of my personality, but that doesn’t mean they are rejecting me. Next, I write these words: I release expectations of name-of-person, until I feel liberated from the situation. Then, I remind myself of these things:

Saying “F*ck you” means leaving a person alone, forever and ever. Releasing expectations requires letting go of who you think that person is supposed to be.

For a long time, I thought my mother in-law would be like an extended family member for me. I envisioned her visiting every year and doing grandmotherly things with the girls. Listen. That hasn’t happened. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times she’s come to see us. It feels a lot like rejection. Now, of course I would never disrespect my MIL. But a former me would’ve just left her alone. Instead of doing either of those, I have released my fairy tale like expectations of our relationship. When she calls, I’m happy to hear from her and if she doesn’t, that’s okay too.

Releasing expectations means allowing people to be who they are.

This might seem to be the same advice, but I see it a little different. Allowing people to be who they are means less judgment on my part. For example, during much of my marriage, I wondered, Why doesn’t my MIL call? Why does she need a personal invitation to visit? Why won’t she just act like my grandmother and schedule a visit? These are all judgments about how she interacts with us. And it’s quite simple, if I’m judging, then I’m not allowing. Who my MIL is, is who she’s shown herself to be. That’s perfectly fine. At this point, I allow her to be who she is, free from my criticism. I don’t expect her to be someone she is not. Think about it. Don’t we all want to be accepted for who we are in this moment?

Saying, “F*ck you” means the door is closed and locked. Releasing expectations symbolizes an open invitation.

My former self would’ve definitely perceived her actions as rejection, and then met it with a closed heart. But not today. My MIL is welcome to visit our family anytime she’d like. I have no ill feelings and I hope that she will. But again, I don’t expect an action either way.

Let me know what you think. Is there ever a time when releasing expectations just isn’t good enough? You know I’m happy to hear your thoughts!