“With or without the love of your father, you are and always will be deserving of love yourself.”
As a woman who grew up with the absence of her father, even when he was present; growing up as a “daddy’s girl” proved to be a fantasy, more so than a reality. Attached to my father’s hip as a child, I was devastated to learn of the kind of man he truly was in my older adolescent years. It was not until I was a pre-teen, that my understanding of who my biological father really was became clear. Not knowing who his daughter really was or would grow to be; he would tell me I would not amount to much, I would be a teenage mother, and I was overweight. My father stole from me, hit me aggressively, and I grew up witnessing verbal and physical abuse within my household. Up until my parents got divorced as a pre-teen; I grew up with his comments and actions making me feel unpretty, devalued, and without much worth. I later found comfort, guidance, and love from a mentor who took me in as a daughter. Through his strengths, investments and limitations; he taught me what love from a father does and does not look like.
Today, I am still learning what love looks like to me as a woman who was raised under mixed messages and many faults from the men she thought were meant to protect her and love her unconditionally. While I am unpacking, unlearning, and learning new narratives; I am growing more and more confident of the woman that I am and the type of love that I want, need, and deserve; alongside the type of love I want, need, and deserve to give.
This post is a dedication to the girls and women who are learning to love without their fathers. I have learned quite a few lessons throughout the years. Because learning is an everyday process and opportunity, I want to share some words with women who are also on this life’s journey with me and are also learning to love with the absence of the man who helped to bring them into this world.
Continue reading for 10 lessons I have learned with regard to learning to love without the presence of my father:
- Make amends with your father.
- Understand your worth and value is not contingent on your relationship with a man or woman.
- While it is hard to understand what love from a man looks like because your father never expressed it to you-trust that you are deserving to feel good and any time you are made to feel crappy-that is not love.
- Talk to others about their experiences with their love story/stories and share your experience with yours as well.
- If you don’t take the time to work through your feelings of abandonment, resentment, and insecurities; it will become present in your intimate relationships and you may push the one you’d like to be close and stay close to you away.
- The partner who is deserving of all of you will love you in-spite of your limitations and want to be part of your life and build with you-without being forced or guilted into doing so.
- A person who is truly meant for you and you are meant for will not run away at the first sign of complications and challenge.
- The relationship status and dynamics between your parents does not have to be indicative of how your relationship with a significant other will be as well.
- Seek mentorship and guidance from a role model that you would consider to be “father-like” to you if possible.
- Love starts with you.
1. Make amends with your father. It’s harder and more draining to hold anger and resentment in your heart for what he has done or continues to do. I know the pain you feel from him may run deep. And, while it is important that you hold your father accountable to his mistakes, if you can’t find it in your heart to make amends with the man who brought you into this world; whether he is deceased or alive-your subconscious may occupy negative spaces in terms of endearment for others; especially your partner. You will cry, you feel rage, you will demonstrate compassion, and then you will be upset again. Process just how much the absence of your father impacted you-don’t run from it. Trust, in time the pieces will fall where they need to. Rage is part of the healing process. Forgiveness does not mean you are not holding him accountable and that you forget what has happened: forgiveness means you are giving yourself a chance at living in a more constant state of peace. In some cases, fathers will recognize their mistakes and do their best to rectify their limitations with you as you bring it up to them. Give the future of a different kind of happiness a chance.
2. Understand your worth and value is not contingent on your relationship with a man or woman. Your worth and value is based on what and who you know yourself to be. NO man or woman can and should determine your value for you. I know, sometimes our relationships or lack thereof with our fathers makes us feel unworthy or incapable of receiving love. I too spent quite some time thinking, how could a man love me if my own father does not? How could I understand what love from a man looks like, if I never understood what love looked like from my own father? Real questions! But you have the answers! You know what love looks like in other aspects of your life. Hold onto those teachings and feelings. Never forget that true love of self-starts and ends with you.
3. While it is hard to understand what love from a man looks like because your father never expressed it to you-trust that you are deserving to feel good and any time you are made to feel less than by a partner-that is not love. Seek to build relationships with those who build you up, not those who allow you to doubt yourself and live in a state of fear, insecurity, and challenge most days of your precious life. There are some elements to love and relationships that you are aware of and others that you are not aware of, nonetheless; talk about it and learn as you dig deep into the world of the unknown! Once you believe and work hard to accept that you are in fact deserving of love and it is not contingent on your relationship with others, but contingent on yourself-not only will you know you are deserving of love, but you will set standards and boundaries for your love that you will never be lowered because you know!
4. Talk to others about their experiences with their love story/stories and share your experience with yours as well. A major lesson I have learned throughout the years is that every single love story is different. While there is great health and importance in keeping elements of one’s relationship private, there is also beauty in talking about the journey of love that is full of faith, highs, lows, transitions, growth, set-backs, accomplishments, heartbreak, persistence, investment, confusion, insecurities, confidence, and much more. Keeping all of your thoughts, experiences, and questions to yourself prevent your growth in the heart department. I understand that it can be difficult to be vulnerable with others (and sometimes ourselves) and trusting others is not easy for many-but you can’t keep love; something to self that is meant to be shared. Through conversations, people will provide you with perspective of your blind-spots, provide you with new ways to engage in particular conversations, challenge your approaches and thinking, and provide you with affirmation that you are on the right track with what you are thinking, and more. Take a chance and have the conversations that will contribute to your life in a priceless way.
5. If you don’t take the time to work through your feelings of abandonment, resentment, and insecurities; it will become present in your intimate relationships and you may push the one you’d like to be close and stay close to you away. Life can be tough and full of challenges that may impact our lives negatively-I know it has for me. However, you need to reflect on your shortcomings given life circumstances and work hard to look in the mirror and assess where you are, and most importantly, how and why you got to be where you are. Once you do the work through reflections, conversations, reading, counseling, etc.; implement intentional change through consistent action. It is one thing to know of your challenges and something different to actively work hard to ensure that certain faults are no longer present in your relationship. You can and will be able to tell your partner just how important they are to you and express your fears of losing them without being overly dependent and needy and feeling like you are weak-so long as you address the insecurities head on.
6. The partner who is deserving of all of you will love you in-spite of your limitations and want to be part of your life and build with you-without being forced or guilted into doing so. Your partner will accept that while they do not know what it was/is like to be you given the difference in both of your life experiences, they will commit to being your partner in life-hoping they don’t cause you the same pain you once felt at the hands of your father or another loved one. There will be times when you will not trust the love your partner has to give you and you will feel like you can’t love them the way they would like to be loved. Keep pushing and working at it. You will learn about yourself in and outside of the relationship and if your partner is one you would truly like to commit to, you will not give up simply because it is challenging. As you learn, ask questions and check in with your partner and loved ones. They will be patient, kind, respectful, compassionate, considerate, reflective, intentional, and caring—you will also do and be the same for them because you understand the greatness in what and who you both are as individuals and together.
7. A person who is truly meant for you and you are meant for will not run away at the first sign of complications and challenge. You will both invest in the work that needs to be done to be understanding of each other. Neither of you will always get it right, but the point is that both of you are constantly trying and are determined to work. People do have limits however to how much they can stand, so it is imperative that you consistently communicate because that is the only way to be and stay on the same page. Don’t just list what your tough experiences in life were, talk to your partner about the impacts of the pain you have felt and how the impact your decision making and thought process. Let your partner into your core. It is easy to make judgments on what one does not know, be sure there is no room for confusion but an ample amount of room for growth.
8. The relationship status and dynamics between your parents does not have to be indicative of how your relationship with a significant other will be as well. While we are the products of our environments; once in our consciousness, we can control our preventative and responsive behaviors. Engage in the difficult yet empowering conversations of the dynamics of your parent’s relationship with them if possible. You decipher what bits of information you are deciding to take in and how you would like to move forward with the information gathered in mind, and you lead your life that way and do so.Be honest with yourself and those in your space.You will make mistakes as you process what you witnessed and attempt to create new normals for yourself, but keep going! You can break certain negative cycles that have taken place in your family, so long as you keep putting in the work.
9. Seek mentorship and guidance from a role model that you would consider to be “father-like” to you if possible. Some women may be without fathers because the fathers chose to be absent, however some women are without fathers because their father passed away. Either dynamic can be painful, but you don’t have to feel alone and fatherless. If you have the opportunity to do so, take the time to build a relationship with an uncle, family friend, your grandfather, or an individual you had met on your own who can provide you with the appropriate example of what healthy love from a man looks like so you are confused less. Love is never physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually abusive. Chivalry is not dead and having boundaries and standards is admirable and required.
10. Love starts with you. I said it before, but the journey through love and letting someone in starts with you. You are smart, compassionate, hard-working, ambitious, full of life, and you matter! Never forget that and never allow your light to be dimmed! Learning to love others and oneself is a process. You have to ask yourself, do you truly love yourself? What is it about you that you love and what about you do you wish was different and why? Is your heart ready for love? What is getting in the way of you and your heart? What has contributed to your ability to give and receive love? Is intimacy and something real something you truly want? Are matters of your heart something you are truly ready to work through and work for? Taking the time to assess and build your own levels of self-love is everything. From there, you will understand your level of commitment to self, and as a result, be in a position to commit to others and not walk away at the first sign of challenge.
With love, we are able to empower and uplift the faintest of hearts with optimism and purpose, and with false understandings of love, we are able to tear down and destroy through manipulation and intentional heart break. Your father may not have been able to show you just how special and amazing you are and assist you in setting standards for the way you deserve to be treated and influence the ways in which you view yourself, but know and trust that you are more than deserving of love and capable of giving love. Be kind and patient with yourself along the journey.
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