“Colloquially, daddy issues is used to make fun of a young lady who presents herself a certain way to men causing her to come off as clingy, angry, and emotionally unstable.”
I was 4 years old when it happened. The day the man who was supposed to love me unconditionally rejected me and my life changed forever. I still remember it like it was yesterday. My father walked out of my life that day and was never to be seen again. He didn’t die or get sick, he just chose to be absent from my life. Although I was a little girl, I processed the situation very quickly. My response was to shut down. From that day forward, I chose to not speak about my dad, not to ask my mom about my dad, and to just move on throughout life as if my dad never existed. I really thought I had it under control because I didn’t need him, right?
20 years later, I realized that maybe I was wrong. Maybe I actually did need my father. But my 4 year old heart still ached in my 24 year old body. So instead of trying to find my father, I searched for that unconditional love he owed me in men. The problem was, they didn’t owe me that love nor could they give it to me. That type of love is reserved only for the relationship of a father and a daughter. But I didn’t have a father, so I couldn’t get it from him so I would continue on my search until I hit rock bottom.
It only took me 4 years to reach that bottom. That place where all I could go was up. That place where I realized that no matter how much I shut down, no matter how hard I ran from the pain, and no matter how much I tried to make myself believe I was fine without having felt that love from the person who was supposed to give it to me…I couldn’t escape the emptiness in my heart that caused me to make the horrific dating decisions I had consistently made in search for that missing piece; my dad. The journey I experience to reach bottom wasn’t a pretty one. It was characterized by desperation, wasted time, wasted energy, a confused identity, and complete brokenness; all because the man who was supposed to love me first decided that he didn’t want to. How was that my fault? How was that even fair? How was I supposed to even overcome an inflicted pain that wasn’t caused by me?
So many women are in this place. They have the same questions I had at my bottom and they have no idea where to begin in conquering these issues. Colloquially, daddy issues is used to make fun of a young lady who presents herself a certain way to men causing her to come off as clingy, angry, and emotionally unstable. Because this term has been watered down and used out of context, the people who suffer from it fail to realize how detrimental it can be to their life. For me, it shaped how I viewed myself which made others view me as less than as well. Since I saw myself as worthless because I wasn’t worth my father saying, I dated that way. So instead of feeling like a prize that should be earned, I felt like men were the prize and I had to win because if I didn’t win, that meant I really was worthless. So I accepted the poor treatment because I thought that’s what love looked like. I chased men because I didn’t chase my father, maybe that’s why he left. And I had to have someone at all times because I had spent a childhood without the love of a man, God forbid I continue to do that. I spent my teens and most of my twenties dating in this unhealthy way, all because my daddy issues shaped my dating life. At 28, I finally said enough was enough and decided I would no longer allow a missing father to continue to be the excuse behind me hating myself and not seeing the greatness that was within me. I decided it was time to conquer my daddy issues, once and a for all. I had to dig deep and do some heart work. Here’s how I did it.
“God never gives us what we don’t need. If we didn’t need a father, He wouldn’t have given us two parents…”
- Understand you have a void…I really wanted to believe that I was okay without my dad. I completely shut down and told myself I didn’t need anything from him, but I was wrong. God never gives us what we don’t need. If we didn’t need a father, He wouldn’t have given us two parents, it would’ve just been one. We need both in order to cultivate the love needed for us to be whole. If we don’t have both, we have to heal from that loss because if we don’t, we will try to fill that void with all the wrong things. I tried to fill it with men, sex, partying, and drinking. These were all temporary fillers that usually left me feeling worse. When I finally reached rock bottom, I accepted the fact that I had a void wasn’t my fault, but it was my responsibility to fill it or I would continue to be empty.
- Understand no person can fill it… The common thread in many women trying to heal from their daddy issues is their persistence on trying to fall in love really quickly in hopes that they will feel the love their daddy never gave them. This results in a few things. 1) They have a guy that is actually a good guy but because they’re holding him responsible for the love their dad never gave them, he ends up leaving because they become too much to handle. 2) They end up dating a guy just like their father. Someone who is as old as their father or someone who is as ratchet as their father. 3) They build an irrational wall up that tells them all men are dogs. Then they go and date men who are actually dogs just to support the irrational wall they’ve built because it’s easier to cultivate the image that all men suck than to open up their heart. Opening up their heart runs the risk of being hurt again like they were hurt when their daddy left or didn’t give them the love they needed. All these scenarios can be avoided when you realize no person can fill the void your dad created. Only your father on earth can fill it or your Father in Heaven.
- You must face the devastation…I am currently 29 and I am just now facing the devastation of not having a father. It took me 24 years to finally look that pain in the eye and admit how deeply it hurt me. I still struggle with it, I probably always will have remnants of it, but I can say that facing it feels much better than trying to suppress it. Not everyone’s story looks like mines but that doesn’t mean you don’t have daddy issues. Maybe your dad passed away, maybe he was present but he was an alcoholic or he was abusive, maybe he was a hard working father in the household so he never gave you time or attention, or maybe he gave you time and attention but it was negative attention because he was extremely hard on you and lacked affection. All these things can cause daddy issues. For you to move forward, you must face the pain that it caused. You must let your guard down and be okay that you’re not okay. It took me a while to admit that I missed my father, that I hated watching tv shows where people had good dads because it made me emotional, that I truly yearned to meet my father and develop a relationship and forgive him for his abandonment. If I only had that chance, I would be so thankful. I didn’t want to admit it for so long because I am a strong person. Admitting that would make me weak. Admitting that would also be letting him off the hook for leaving me and that wasn’t fair. All those things may be true but we all know life isn’t fair. God chooses us to go through certain things because He knows what we can handle. We must believe that with His strength, we can handle all things. So look that devastation in the face and handle it. You deserve to be free from that burden.
“It takes a community of wholeness to heal your heart.”
- You must not only face it, but you must heal…If you cut yourself, you’re not just going to look at the wound, you are going to take active steps to heal. You’ll get some peroxide so it doesn’t get infected, a bandaid or stitches, and you’ll monitor it to make sure it heals properly because you don’t want any complications. The same goes with emotional healing. Facing the devastation is only the beginning, now you must take what you know and work towards healing. Don’t go back to those temporary fixes to cope. Don’t call the guy over to have sex. Don’t go out with your fiends and get white girl wasted. Don’t go work yourself to death to avoid the pain you feel inside. You aren’t healing, you’re hiding (See post Are you Hiding or Healing for more). I chose to put my nose deep into the bible and prayer. I also reached out to a few of my life coach friends so they could help me along with minsters at my church. It takes a community of wholeness to heal your heart. Don’t just rely on yourself because you can’t do this alone. You didn’t create this void alone so stop trying to heal it alone. Now don’t twist my words because you should definitely NOT go and get yourself a man to help complete this process with you. This is self work. For those in a relationship or married, you can lean on your spouse but not too much. You really want to use the professionals in the field of emotional healing and go to your Father in Heaven because He really knows what you need. But however you choose to do it, just know it’s necessary to heal fully or it will cause complications in the future.
I hope I freed some people today because I know these steps helped to free me. I don’t want you to keep scratching the surface on deep rooted issues, I want you to dig deep and discover a person within you that you never thought existed. This can only happen if you do the work. You can’t be whole if there’s a void. You also can’t take shortcuts to fill that void. Deal with the discomfort now so you can be comfortable and free later. Trust me, you owe it to yourself to be whole and a fresh, new you.
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