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Dear Fatherless Daughters,
Father’s day is slowly approaching and I know how hard this time of year can be for you. Everywhere you turn you are bombarded with reminders to celebrate your father. Suddenly walking down the stationary aisle in Wal-Mart triggers childhood feelings of not being like the other kids who had dads. You find yourself in that familiar place of being on the outside looking in.
None of the messages scrawled in the Hallmark cards resonate with you. You are not forever thankful for the lessons daddy taught you. He was never there. He doesn’t mean the world to you. You have the same reverence for him that you do for a complete stranger.
Even still, there is a longing. Deep in your most vulnerable places, tucked away under the woman you are, is a little girl that longs to matter to her daddy. She yearns for him to pick her up, swing her around, and express his unconditional love.
No matter how old you get, the hole in your heart created by your father’s absence still aches. Especially on Father’s Day.
As you struggle to make sense of why your father chose to limit his role in your life to sperm donor, here’s what I want you to know:
1. You are not alone. It might feel as if no one understands you and what you are going through. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are countless fatherless daughters who share in your struggle. We understand you. We are here for you, and on Father’s Day, we will cry with you.
2. You don’t have to deny the pain you feel because your father left. It hurts. It hurts when you were a little girl waiting for him to show up and it hurts even when you are a grown woman who knows he will never show up. Cry all you want. If you need to snuggle up with your favorite pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and throw yourself a pity party, do it. You are entitled to feel your hurt. Just don’t let it consume you.
3. No other man will ever fill the void that your daddy left behind. You will be tempted to soothe the pain of being discarded by finding a surrogate to replace your father. This never works and you will always be disappointed. Just as no woman wants to play mommy to a man she loves, no man wants to spend forever with a woman who is using him to sort through her daddy issues.
4. Don’t define who you are based on your father’s decision to walk away. Just because your father couldn’t live up to his responsibilities does not mean that something is inherently wrong with you. He might not be able to see the gift that you are, but there is no need for you to be blind to your worth too.
5. Don’t hoard your love because you fear being abandoned again. It doesn’t matter how proudly you wave your ‘I don’t need anyone flag’, you were meant for love and refusing to share yourself with others hurts you most.
6. It might not seem like it, but there will come a time when you muster up the courage and forgive your father. This doesn’t mean that you have to forge an awkward relationship with him where you pretend that nothing ever happened. It simply means that you let go of your hurt and stop living life as a wounded child.
7. There are people who will tell you that you should let go of your hurt and get over it. It’s OK to tell them to back off. They mean well. They just don’t understand that even after you forgive your father, every now and again, like say Father’s Day, your wounds will re-open a little bit. No need to panic. Just give it room to breathe until it re-heals.
8. You don’t need your father to feel complete. I know right now you feel life dealt you a crappy hand by giving you a dead beat dad. Ditch that thought. Whatever you feel the world is withholding from you, look deep inside and you will find it in yourself. If you are looking for love, then love yourself. If you are looking for acceptance, then accept yourself.
Don’t spend your time focusing on how your father abandoned you. Instead, remind yourself of how you were able to make it in spite of his absence. He might be gone, but you know what, you’re still here.
Another Fatherless Daughter