It’s taken me 38 years, a bunch of the wrong guys, two waffles, this Kelly Clarkson song, and a strong cup of coffee to talk about it. I’d like to talk about my Dad leaving me. And your Dad leaving you.
Sometimes Dads leave one big time or two and then we never see them again. Sometimes they hang around and leave us over, and over, and over again. Emotionally, physically, one thing is for certain – they. just. leave.
Just saying it makes me feel nauseous.
However it happened, when the one guy who’s supposed to have our back and nurture our heart takes a good look at us and says “nah”, it feels like a huge, gaping hole in our chest. We spend a lifetime of “how the hell did I get in this mess again” moments and wonder what we did wrong. Either way, we feel unloveable, and either way, when any good thing happens, we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Here’s the thing: we keep replaying old wounds as many times as we need, trying to get the ending we want.
It took twenty years of relationships that hurt for me to grow enough, get mindful enough, and get enough counseling to realize I was just re-playing the relationship with my Dad.
I wanted that warm kind of love where the person is there for you no matter what. You can see it in their eyes. You can hear it in their voice. You can feel it in the words they choose to use when they talk with you. They just… show up for you.
Even though I wanted that, I could never seem to find it. I analyzed the guys and criticized myself. Maybe I should be thinner. Sweeter. Less opinionated. Work on my bitchy resting face (which was totally not even a thing 20 years ago BUT I HAD IT, YOU GUYS). It’s so hard to be undiagnosed.
I wish, I wish, I wish I could find the most perfect way to say this that would pierce right through to the center of your heart. I want you to get it. I want you to stop hurting. I want you to see this.
It was not your fault.
The things he did, the things he said, the way he absolutely could not seem to get his shit together enough to be there for you in any consistent way….
It was not your fault.
In fact, it had nothing to do with you. Like how the color of a plane will not make a person unafraid to fly. The plane could be painted the most perfect, glittering color with the most perfect shading. It could even have the most perfectly organized, safest flight plan to the most perfectly beautiful places on Earth. Filled with the most perfect luxurious seats, tables, trays, beds, and staffed with the most amazing, charming, wonderful, people on Earth. Every single person on the planet could be in agreement that this is the perfect plane to fly in. And it will still not make a person unafraid to fly. They simply will not get on that plane.
And they will handle that decision in one of two ways: they will turn around and leave, or they will approach the door and step back over and over again unable to find the strength to stay or go.
It’s not the plane’s fault the person doesn’t want to fly.
It’s not your fault your Dad didn’t want to be a good parent.
It’s not your fault your Dad didn’t know how to find the strength to work through his own shit so he could be there for you.
It’s just not your fault.
And… PS…. you are not destined to be alone. You are destined to be loved. And that journey, dear one, starts with the tallest mountain first: learning to love yourself.
You are so brave. And so, so loved.