As my mom began to tell me the details of how my 21-year-old cousin found herself in another really whack relationship, tears began to swell up in my eyes. After getting off the phone, I cried because I knew that I could call my cousin in that moment, tell her that she deserves so much better and ultimately it wouldn’t mean a damn thing if she didn’t believe it herself.
You’ll often hear jokes about women with “daddy issues” but the effects of an absent father are very serious. You are literally missing a piece of you. Even if your dad was around, but he wasn’t really around, the lack of his unconditional love will leave you looking to fill that void by any means necessary. I’ve heard beautiful stories of women who say their dad was the first man they loved, but what if the first man you love doesn’t have the capability (or intention) of truly loving you back?
I didn’t know my biological father growing up, and I don’t think there’s any greater heartache. For the life of me I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that you could help make a child, and seemingly have no desire to be part of their life. Was he really that cold-blooded? How could he live his life normally knowing that he has a child who needs him? It’s not even about being there for financial support—it’s about nurturing the seed you gave life to.
No matter what you been through, you deserve love simply because you were born. The desire to feel loved, wanted and cherished is very real, but you shouldn’t give yourself permission to deal with anyone’s BS to prove that you’re worthy of being loved.
I think the first step to healing is forgiving your dad for not being there. If you’re like me, you might even have to forgive your mother as well for the role she played in the situation. The great thing about forgiveness is that it’s for you. It allows you to let go of baggage so you can live freely. Writing is therapy for me, so I recommend writing a letter to your dad. As you pour out your feelings, you might discover some emotions you didn’t even know you felt. When you’re done, tear it up, burn it, mail it to him— whatever you choose—you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted.
Also, let go of any negative feelings that you may have towards him. There’s no need to walk around with that energy because it only hinders you from moving forward.
For those who have found themselves in detrimental relationships in attempts to fill a void, I challenge you to think higher of yourself. This is where self-love comes into place. You can no longer value someone else more than you value yourself. Your time is precious. Shit, your presence is a gift in itself. Stop allowing boys to treat you any kind of way. You don’t deserve that.
In fact, don’t even date until you’ve allowed your heart to heal. That might sound extreme to some, but when you haven’t addressed your feelings of abandonment, you’ll find yourself going above and beyond for someone who’s not worth it. You stay in relationships longer than you should because dealing with another man leaving is too much to bear.
I know firsthand this not an easy process and it will take some time. However, it wasn’t until I really confronted how I felt about my dad’s absence that I understood my worth—daddy issues and all.
Ashley White is a regular contributor at She Writes Life. When she isn’t unnecessarily shopping for home decor, you can find her thoughts on life, love and relationships here on She Writes Life. Follow her musings on Instagram @ashley_unscripted