I watched part of the Oprah Lifeclass online, entitled Daddyless Daughters. Did you catch it? It was a really good show that had me thinking about the ways my father not being in my life over the years has impacted how I’ve been as a woman in this world. Here’s the background (a very short version): At this point in my life, my father and I are not speaking. A couple of years ago I realized he changed his phone number and did not give it to me. When I got in touch with him and confronted him about it, he said I had his email address– as if that should be okay. Can you imagine how hurt I was? I was heartbroken. This came from a man who, for most of my life, was absent, even though he only lived one county away. I remember when I was in college we were starting to have a relationship, getting to know each other, but after some years it just didn’t pan out. And I can admittedly say, me telling him my true feelings about him when I was an adult (you weren’t there, we should try to be friends since we don’t know each other, you should really spend quality time with my siblings so they won’t miss out like I did), might have made him feel a certain way. This is probably especially true for when I was in my teens and I frankly and angrily told him how crappy of a parent he was.
So now, here I am, still, a daddyless daughter. I’ve realized over the years that people, including my dad, can only do the best with the knowledge and skill set they have. He did his best, and while that did not live up to my expectations, it was all he could do at the time. I also realized that his shortcomings and lack of parenting were never about me; no matter how much he may or may not like me or what he did or did not do. His actions and decisions are a reflection of whatever was and is going on with and within him.
As I watched the online Lifeclass, I reflected some more on my “daddy issues.” Does out-of-sigh-out-of-mind really work? Only temporarily. Have I really allowed myself to feel painful feelings about my daddy situation more recently? Probably not fully. The steps to healing that Iyanla Vanzant mentioned during the show are in bold. My responses about my daddy situation are underneath the bold text.
Steps to healing:
1. Tell the full truth about your feelings and what you’ve done to compensate for it or hide it.
I am hurt by my father not being in my life, and I have felt as if I did not matter. I have tried to compensate for this by not completely acknowledging my feelings about being hurt, by acting like I don’t care, by having difficulty trusting others, and by having a wall up that has prevented me from showing my true self for fear of being rejected.
2. Be willing to give up the story you’ve been telling yourself and break it all the way down to 10 words or less.
My story has been: My dad doesn’t care about me and doesn’t know how to be a father.
10 words or less: My dad doesn’t care and wasn’t there.
3. Forgive yourself for the things you told yourself about yourself as a result of your father being absent.
I forgive myself for believing that I don’t matter. I forgive myself for not disclosing my true feelings to others in healthy ways. I forgive myself for hiding who I truly am. I forgive my dad for not being present.
4. Reclaim the part of your soul that has been missing. Redefine who you are as a woman, not as a little girl missing her daddy. Re-create a new story based on truth and how you want to live your life.
I reclaim the part of my soul that is missing (masculine love, masculine protection and providing, being a daddy’s girl, having a model of what a man should be and how a woman should be loved). I am a woman who lives in and speaks my truth. I am a woman who brings much to the world, no longer held back by my past. I am a woman, who is a beloved child of God. I am loved and loving, I am hope-filled, I am open and honest, I am protected, I am responsible, I am nurtured and nurturing, I am creative, I am compassionate, I am confident, I am entrepreneurial, I am joy-filled, and I am forgiving. Though my dad was absent, God is present within and around me. I have everything I need, and I learn as I continue to grow.
Such a simple yet emotionally difficult exercise (#4 was hard for me). Do you have daddy issues? Are you a daddyless daughter? Try the four steps to healing to begin your process of becoming who are truly meant to be, instead of a woman living in the pain of a little girl missing her daddy.
Also, check out Oprah.com (Lifeclass) for more resources, including those on Fatherless sons.