Happy Father’s Day. Today is a day to celebrate and honor fathers and father figures and all they have done for us. However, in many cases, fathers have left the family, and their children do not feel like celebrating or honoring them.
I work with women everyday who were abandonment by their fathers during childhood. Their fathers abandonment set the stage for the way they see themselves and others. Their father leaving during childhood caused them to feel unlovable, not good enough, and disposable. Since they fill unlovable, they try to find love and self-worth in all the wrong places. Many come to me feeling angry, resentful, and hurt by their father’s actions.
I decided to write this letter to all the dads who left their children behind. This letter is not about dad-bashing. It is the story I have heard from so many daughters over the years. The heartache and pain they endured wishing their father was in their lives. All the things they’ve wanted to say but can’t due to circumstances. This is their voice. Their opportunity for healing.
How are you? It's been awhile. Or for some of us, it's never been. We are women now. You've missed a lot. You missed so many important moments in our lives. Where do we start? Our birth? When you found out mom was pregnant, you couldn’t handle it. You didn't know what to do. You may have been too young. You may not have had a father figure, so you didn't know how to be a father. Who knows. Some of you stayed in the picture a little longer. You stayed a few years after I was born. At first, things were great. You and mom got a long. Maybe you thought having me would help. Maybe you thought sticking it out would help. Things got tough. You began to fight with mom. You lost your job. You may have had a great job, perhaps the stressors of home got to you. We will never know. What we do know is what you missed when you walked out that door. You missed the numerous firsts day of school. You missed Back to School nights and Open houses. You missed Girl Scouts, sports, holidays, summers, vacations, first dates, graduations and college acceptance letters. The fun and exciting stuff.
You also missed the not so exciting stuff. When you left and didn't pay child support, We had to move out of our home and collect financial assistance. We had to shop at Goodwill because mom could not afford clothing. We had to grow up fast. We had to take care of our younger siblings. We had to be emotional support for our mothers. Whatever childhood we had, was gone. We had to listen to mom cry herself to sleep. We saw her date men who were not good to her, or good to us. We needed to start working at 16 because money was a little tight. Sometimes we missed out on parties and school events to work because we needed to make sure the lights stayed on and food was on the table. We started looking for attention outside the home. We wanted love and affection that we did not get from you, so we started looking in other places. Friends, partners, drugs, alcohol, crime, teen pregnancy or food. Many times we found it in men. To be honest, the men did not treat us well at all. However, we didn’t care. It was a man. It was someone that held us (sometimes), was by your side (sometimes), called us (sometimes), told us they loved us (sometimes) married us, or had a child with us. We didn’t care, we just wanted someone to be there and tell us they loved us because you weren’t there. Although their love was sporadic and contingent, at least it was there.
We can honestly say your leaving really affected our self-esteem and self-worth. We don’t feel good about ourselves at all. We don’t feel that we are good enough for any man, partner, friends, or career. We don’t feel lovable. We feel like a disappointment. We feel we don’t belong.
When you left we felt so many negative feelings. We realize those feelings are still there. Anger, resentment, sadness, grief, shame, fear, guilt, doubt, and betrayal. We are trying to work through these feelings through therapy. Holding on to these feelings is no longer serves us. They are causing us to hate ourselves. We love everyone else more than we love ourselves. We are ready to love ourselves. We are ready to look deep inside ourselves to see how our life has been affected by you leaving. We are not here to blame. We are women now. We cannot blame you because we stayed with partners that don’t treat us right. We cannot blame you for our lack of confidence in going for the job we want. Our childhood circumstances were not our fault. We were thrown into a situation that affected the way we looked at life and interacted with the world. We are ready to take responsibility for our choices in adulthood. We made the choices that reflected how we felt about ourselves. Our past does not have to define our future. We are beginning to realize:
WE ARE ENOUGH!
WE ARE LOVEABLE!
WE ARE SUCCESSFUL!
We get to feel joy, peace, happiness, courage, confidence, acceptance, hopeful, love and trust.
At this point, We no longer care why you left. We can no longer hold on to that story. We are ready to write a new story. If you would like to be in it, and if you would like to rewrite your own story, contact us. You had your own story and that is why you left. We get that now. We have learned it was never about us. You left not because there was something wrong with us, but it was something up with you. We see that now.
Happy Father’s Day!
Feel free to share this letter with a father you know who is no longer in touch with this daughter, however, he would like to be in contact with one day. Perhaps this letter will give him hope and motivate him to rewrite his story. Also share this letter with a woman who still has negative feelings towards her dad and she is ready to address her abandonment issues and low self-worth. Feel free to call me at (510) 250 - 3091 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
I am a therapist who helps individuals who are motivated to transform their inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism into a powerful voice of positive self-talk and self-trust. We help individuals recognize their inner worth, build their self-esteem and speak their truth.