As I said in the previous post, this blog will be different, as I do not want to spend time talking about achievements. However, I do think it is important to tell my own story. I have NEVER told this story before. It is a bit scary, but I am going to do this anyway. I know I am not the only one with a story like this, and you should know why I do what I do.
Daddy Issues: It’s Not a Simple Excuse
“Daddy issues.” I really don’t like that term. It is often used to explain why a woman is having difficulty in relationships or why she is choosing the wrong guy. The problem with this phrase is that it makes one assume that if I had a good father, I would not have these relationship problems. This is simply not true. One can just have poor judgment, self-esteem issues, or inability to look past the dating pretense. Honestly, I despise the term because I actually have “daddy issues.”
My parents divorced before I turned 5 years old. My only memories of my parents together are on the holidays or when my father came to see me. I knew they were not a match made in heaven and I never had any dreams of them getting back together. Yet, it didn’t mean that I didn’t want to see my dad. He spoiled me, and I loved every minute of it!
My dad wasn’t nice to a lot of people, but he undoubtedly loved to me. One day, on a visit with my dad. He told me we are not going out for lunch. You are going to eat lunch at home as you do with your mother. I was young, but I knew with him, I would get exactly what I wanted. I stood and watched as my father made a sub sandwich for me. He asked me every step of the way what I wanted, and I told him. He asked if I wanted to have mayonnaise on it and I said yes, knowing full and well I hated mayonnaise on my sandwich (don’t judge me!). I looked at the finished product and told him I didn’t want it. The next thing you know, we were walking down the street going out for lunch. I don’t apologize for one moment for that day. I liked going out to eat and still do. It was a father-daughter moment that I will never forget. Unfortunately, it was among the last I would ever have.
When my mother and I relocated to Florida, I did not know that it would be the last time I would ever see my father. We lost touch rather quickly after the move. One day, my father did reach out, and we spoke for about 5 minutes. He told me he couldn’t talk long, but he would call the next day at a specific time. The next day came, and I forgot all about the call. I was too busy playing outside, doing what kids do. I never heard from him again. I kept blaming myself, thinking, “Why didn’t I remember and stay by the phone?” This was a remarkable burden for any kid to carry. The problem is that this kid carried it into her adulthood.
The Long-Term Ramifications
As an adult, I couldn’t trust that people would actually stick around. I always planned for their inevitable departure. I began to look at most people in my life as temporary. This meant that I did not want to invest much in any relationship. I focused on myself a lot, and it was hard to make real connections with many. It was in my early 30s that I realized that I wanted more than to be isolated and without friends or a real relationship.
Cherishing the Love Around Me
It took a while for me to see that I had a lot of people who genuinely loved me. I had a family that wasn’t going anywhere. While I didn’t grow up with my father, I had uncles that were the best father figures I could have. They showed me what it meant to be dedicated to your family. How a father makes sacrifices to ensure that everyone is cared for well. They drove me back and forth to college. They would rescue me when my car battery died – more than once! Their consistency in my life was a stabilizing force. The amazing thing is, they are still there for me even as an adult. I love them for that!
I started cultivating my friendships and now have friendships that go back more than 20 years. I can’t say that my father hasn’t left a hole, but it has undoubtedly been filled with wonderful alternatives. My faith in Christ and the love of God has done so much to help me realize that I am loved, I am cared about, and I matter to someone, God – my heavenly Father.
My Life’s Purpose
Throughout my career, I have watched children carry the burdens that their parents created. Children wondering “what I can do better so that my parents would love me more?” Children left in foster care, wondering “when will my parents bring me home?” Children caught in between custody battles trying to make each parent feel wanted. This should never be a child’s burden!!
A child’s only job as a child is being a child. They will have time to be adults and deal with all of the issues that come with adulthood in due time. They only have one time in their lives to be thoroughly cared for by their parents, and other nurturers. Only one time to know what it is like to have all their needs met without question. Only one time to live without a care in the world.
As adults, we need to own our issues and make better choices for ourselves and for our children. I know this may sound preachy, but when I remember my own pain and disappointment over my parent’s decision, I become passionate about advocating for the kids who are suffering the same.
Children are a gift from God. We should treasure them and give them every opportunity to be healthy individuals. Give them the chance to enjoy their one and only chance at childhood. Let them grow with the love and support they deserve from us. Let them just be kids and not our burden carriers.