”Go to hell.”
At least that is where Lashanda Matlock would like her pastor father to go.
In a heart-wrenching and equally scathing open letter to her preacher father, Bill Adkins, Matlock outlines the pain he caused over what she claims was his absentee dad status in her life. She says she grew up as an upper middle class southern girl in Memphis, Tenn., just five blocks away from her father’s Greater Imani Church, but he never cared to see her.
At 6-years-old, Matlock says her mother received a cease and desist order from Adkins requesting that she stop trying to communicate with him. However, Matlock says Adkins would visit her elementary school but never approached her, preferring to watch “from the shadows.”
The consistent rejection was something that hurt her dearly:
By age ten, I was a figment of my own imagination. I didn’t exist, my last name was a lie and all records of me were buried in a black hole.
I learned to cope due to a wonderful mother and extended family who always made me smile. I never wanted or went without anything, even a pair of designer Salvatore Ferrragamo heels for my 13th birthday. I had a good childhood, but the lies kept piling upon one after another.
As I reached into my teens my face became the exact image of a man I never knew. I met other illegitimate siblings whose stories were all the same. Rumors spread and I became a topic at dinner parties and for bored housewives. I never wanted the attention, only to be a part of his life. To have a dad like everyone else, and like any child, to have a father’s love.
NewsOne reached out to Matlock, now 33-years-old, for comment, but she declined to be interviewed for this article. WATN 24 in Memphis interviewed Adkins about his daughter’s harsh words and denied having her out of wedlock.
“First of all, I was not married. She’s 33 years old and that was 1979. I was not married. I was not a pastor of a church. I was a Radio Announcer at WLOK Radio,” said Adkins.
Over the weekend, Matlock, who works as a freelance blogger for ChicagoNow, received an outpouring of support from her Facebook followers, many of whom do not know her.
That Matlock chose to express her anguish in such a public fashion reveals how some people use social media to release their pain. It’s a form of self-medicating cyber-therapy that shields the user from having to actually face the person who caused their anguish, according to Jaclyn Cravens, a professor in couple and family therapy program at Alliant International University in San Diego whose research focuses on how people use social media to deal with their relationship challenges.
“It kind of depersonalizes very personal issues, so we feel less inhibited to share personal information about ourselves because we can type it up, we hit send and we don’t see people’s facial responses and don’t really have to worry about how people initially respond to it,” Cravens told NewsOne. “We can put it out there without feeling as vulnerable as we would be with face-to-face communication.”
As for Adkins, he would prefer a more personal discussion and even invited her back for a visit back home.
“I want to do whatever I can to help her, and if it’s acknowledgment that she wants, I’m willing to give it to her,” Adkins said. “I responded to her in email today and I simply said, along with my other children and my wife, come to Memphis, let me introduce you to the entire congregation.”
Given that her open letter has been shared more than 5,200 times since it went live last week, Matlock may have already gotten the recognition she wanted and shows no indication that she would even be interested in making a trip. The ending of her letter says it all:
“So to a man who is a stranger and yet my father I say this: “Go to hell.” But, he’s already there, isn’t he?”