A Father's Absence
I often hear a girl’s first glimpse on how to be treated by a man should come from her father. Well, one might say if you did not grow up with your father, it is hard to know how to be treated. Since I did not meet my father until I was a teenager I dealt with identity issues. I did not realize right away that I had an issue, but shortly after moving away for college I found myself not being sure of who I was. I also found that I had an issue with rejection and feeling like I was not good enough.
I met my father for the first time two months shy of my 16th birthday and I was already dealing with questions of why he was not around for my childhood, especially after I found out that he had other children; both younger and older. Although I found myself struggling to cope with that reality, I still tried to have an open mind about the possibility of having a relationship with my father.
What happens when you start to allow yourself to become a little vulnerable and then all of a sudden the parent who was not around for the majority of your childhood decides to disappear for the second time after a year of meeting you? This time I had just started my senior year of high school and I was trying to figure out my plans for college. I was looking forward to my prom, graduation, and all of the other special senior moments, but I was not able to fully embrace the season that I was in because in the back of my mind I was thinking about my father who randomly stopped all communication. I managed to get through my senior year and head off to college.
What happens when you feel yourself starting to grow as a young woman in a new environment such as a college campus, but deep down you are unsure of who you are? What happens when your father does not affirm you as a little girl or help shape your identity? This is when I started to notice that I had feelings of rejection. I would try to hold on to relationships even if I knew they were not good for me, because I had a fear of the other person leaving my life. I was waiting on other people to affirm something in me that should have already been affirmed by my father. I began to feel like I was not good enough, which then allowed me to accept or settle for less than what I knew I deserved.
What happens when you have never heard the words “I love you”, “you’re beautiful”, or “I am proud of you” from your father? Well, I started to look for validation from the wrong people. I started to realize later on how some of my relationship choices were due to the fact that I was looking for love or trying to fill a void. Until I was an adult in my mid-twenties, I did not realize the magnitude of how not hearing those words affected me.
I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was dealing with insecurity issues. Even now, there are times when I find myself doubting my abilities or decisions. It is not always easy but I am learning to affirm myself, to walk in boldness, and to speak life over my situations. We all have a choice where we can either choose “faith” or choose “fear” and I have decided that I will walk by Faith.
I want to remind you that regardless of your circumstances, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Whether you grew up within a single parent household, a household where your parents were divorced, a household where one of your parents may have passed away, or a household where abuse may have been present, I want to let you know that those experiences do not define who you are. It is also okay to acknowledge if those situations caused you any type of emotional trauma or pain. You should acknowledge the pain, release the hurt, and allow yourself to heal. Then give yourself permission to become the best version of you.