When I turned 18 years old, my Dad decided he didn’t want to be a Dad anymore. I was not surprised. My father had treated me like I was less than his daughter since puberty (complete with this epic slap in the face when I was 15) and yet there was still something upsetting and sobering about his actions on this particular birthday that I’ll never forget. My eighteenth birthday began with an upsetting conversation about college and my lack of self-sufficiency (I was still in high school, mind you). It continued with my father’s verbal abuse of my mother for “siding” with me (Mom: “Knock it off. It’s her birthday”), and it ended with my father getting drunk at my birthday dinner (which almost didn’t happen) and slurring negative commentaries on the ungratefulness of his children.
His children. Right.
Accordingly, at the end of freshman year of college, my father called me in the middle of the night claiming that my world-class education for a “useless” degree was costing the family too much money. He told me to withdraw from my studies the next day whether I liked it or not. The guilt from this phone call made me feel, at best, dirty– dirty for getting an education, and to my infinite chagrin, I did. I dropped out the next day, right before my final exams. I was the top of my class, and I would have graduated this year.
We all got ‘em, and, no, we’re not all hypersexual with men double our age, and if we are, stop shaming us. This demeaning association is a form of “slut shaming” and needs to stop. Stop contributing to a stigma. Yes, I have daddy issues. No, I don’t need your Freudian analysis. I need you to help me heal.
There is no shame in having “daddy issues” and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise. We cannot choose our parents upon coming into this world, but we can choose the steps we take to mold and mend the clay of our broken hearts into whole ones.
We women have many complicated relationships with our fathers, and oftentimes the love shared or unshared with our fathers in our youth, infiltrates our capacities to share or not share love with other men in our adult lives. Oftentimes, women that subconsciously feel this sense of abandonment from their fathers seek an older, father-like man in their adulthood. Others, like myself, may have gone altogether cold to the idea of an intimate relationship with a man, as the one man that was supposed to be there for us through thick and thin didn’t actually want to be there.
Now, almost 4 years after I’ve withdrawn my studentship, I sit in a coffee shop after a 12 hour shift wearing socks with holes in the toes, twice glued glasses and a small, black coffee (milk was extra) telling a story I have never told to anyone. It’s the end of another day – another day of trying to forget my past. Another day into the new, cleansing future, one of which I am building without the help of a loving parent. One of which I am building all by myself.
It’s a lonely life, and it’s a righteous one. I live every day with the conviction that I’ll go back to school, and though I may have to be the one giving myself pats on the back at the end of the day– I will have succeeded despite incredible adversity, and not having the support of the one man that’s supposed to love you unconditionally (that is, before you meet the love of your life), is incredible adversity. Don’t discount it. It’s hard, but you will be loved and be loved again. I promise you. Just keep moving forward.
I am with you, my sisters. Let us heal together.