Talking with a friend today, we got to a subject I avoid: my dad. Well, how when dads leave us as kids, the way we feel and how it impacts us for years to come… As an adult, I get it now: he wasn’t capable of being a parent, and didn’t know how, and quite frankly, was told to get lost by my (amazing) no-nonsense mom.
When I think about that time in my childhood, it’s kind of blurry. I had a dad in my life, around the house. Then my memories skip to when he wasn’t around. I don’t have strong feelings from that time, I was kind of just gliding along like it was no big thing (mom: maybe I acted out or something, but I have no recollection).
The feelings of rejection and being abandoned came later. Much later. And with those also came anger, worthlessness, confusion.
I had what most would call a normal home with family that loved me, including a step dad who turned out to be soooo much better than the “real” thing, and a mom who worked hard and sacrificed a lot for us (despite my ignorance to this fact). For all intents and purposes, I had a good life.
Well here’s the thing: when someone who gives you life, DNA, biology (you get it) leaves your life, and you’re a child who is still learning what love is, looking for where you belong, who you are…you take it personally. Maybe not at first, or like others, maybe all at once, or whatever…it took me awhile, but eventually I felt it. I felt defective, broken, unworthy.
Why would he leave me? Wasn’t I special? Wasn’t I good enough? Wasn’t I enough?
As an adolescent, I still saw him and his side of the family from time to time. As I began to learn more about him, and got to know him better, two things started to happen: I began to understand that he was NOT capable of being a father and I decided that he should have tried harder. Why didn’t he try harder?”
Anyway, long story short…despite the fact that it was best for me in some ways, his leaving/being kicked out shaped me for years, still impacts how I conduct myself, and influences who I am. That being said, I’ve worked through a lot of it, and I no longer feel so angry. I’m sad for him, after all, he missed out. But he does the best he can within his own limits. And it’s not just me, I wasn’t the problem. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am enough.
But along the way, those feelings of worthlessness and abandonment led me to make poor choices at times…so tell yourself (or someone who may have had a similar experience):
- You didn’t do anything wrong
- Dad has limits, he can’t do more.
- It’s not about you, though it feels like it, it really isn’t.
- You are worthy of love and belonging.
- You are enough. Just as you are.