Writing In Bed

Getting Past "Daddy Issues"

If my parents’ divorce cheating me out of anything relatively significant, it was most definitely the opportunity to grow up with a less cynical set of beliefs about men.

It’s true, for me at least, that your relationship with your father will have something to do with the way you deal with men when it comes to your personal relationships. Also, how you interpret that relationship affects how you get along with the people you date. I realize that not all women exclusively date men, so it’s possible that some of this could apply to those relationships as well. For now, I can really only speak to the ones that have been grinding my gears ever since I took that class in 7th grade when I learned what goes into where.

I saw my dad do some awful things to my mom, especially behind her back. I knew about his girlfriends and I was there when my mom opened his briefcase and found pictures of them. I was there when my mom learned he was seeing one of the moms in the PTA and I was also there when instead of dropping me off at school, we drove to his job where she confronted him about what he was doing. He sat nonchalantly in the backseat and opened a Tootsie Roll wrapper. He showed the wrapper to me because it said, “Please help the mentally retarded” (this was back in the ’80s) and he gestured toward her.

Maybe that is why I react so strongly whenever I hear a guy call a woman “psycho” just because she is heartbroken. I have talked about this before in the article “Heartbroken, Not Crazy” and I feel very passionate about the way some women aren’t taken seriously when they are very upset about the way they have been treated.

We will absolutely have a reaction if someone we have feelings for does something that hurts us and doesn’t apologize. We hate being written off as crazy or dramatic.

I was thirteen when I last saw my dad. He came by to visit us after another long period of not seeing him, and I didn’t want to leave my room. I had locked the door and hid under a blanket because I was too scared to face how I would react to seeing him. I let my uncle come in when he knocked and he talked me into coming outside. Once I saw my dad, I hugged him and I cried and I felt embarrassed about it. He then promised to come over again to take my brother and I out somewhere and spend time with us.

He broke that promise and we didn’t see him at all, not even on the days he swore he’d visit.

For my seventeenth birthday, he called and asked if he could see us. I said no, but it didn’t end there. He continued to feed the pay phone from which he was calling with quarters just to tell a bunch of horrible things about my mom. I shot back with reminders that he had done zero to support us at all, that he left us poor and living in a horrible apartment full of roaches, and that very few people helped us out when we needed them the most, but that she worked her ass off for us. I let him know that I absolutely would not forgive him for hitting her (there was some serious domestic violence involved) and that if he ever showed his face, I’d hit back so he’d know how it felt.

He laughed at me.

A couple of days later he called again and he pleaded with me. He said he had a picture and swore that I’d written, “I’ll always love you.” I told him I didn’t remember. He asked to visit and I refused to see him. Finally, I asked him to never call again and now all I remember is the weak sound in his voice when he said he’d never bother me again.

The way I spoke to my dad that night is an attitude that hasn’t changed for me. When a man hurts my feelings, I try to push him out of my life before he can get rid of me. And if he is the one who rejects me first, I am devastated, confused, and depressed. This pattern has only been curbed in recent years by some very top notch individuals who somehow have had the keen gift of tolerating my emotions and knowing that they can often be fleeting.

One guy I dated was there during my quarter-life crisis and rather than blowing me off altogether, he maintained a good friendship and even encouraged me to grow in my own business projects. He was there for my 25th birthday when I drank myself stupid to the point that he had to follow me when I walked away from our watering hole with tears in my eyes, angry at him because he wouldn’t love me back. I still can’t figure out how anyone could be so patient with me.

These days, I have an odd friendship with a man I rarely get to see. We chat often, and he’s already put up with me trying to push him out of my life about two to three times. Every day I feel like I don’t deserve his friendship and I constantly remind myself to curb the nutty speeches and just appreciate his kindness.  So many other men haven’t even flinched when I’ve walked away from them, but he remains sweet and supportive.

So this is what people are referring to when talking about “daddy issues.” When I’m faced with a tough choice to make about keeping man in my life, I find myself feeling the way I did when my dad broke my heart and the fear kicks in and I want to get rid of him before he gets rid of me, and sometimes I want to be the one who hurts him back just has deeply. These are thoughts and reactions that may never go away, but I do know that being aware of them now has made a huge difference keeping the outbursts at bay. I went for many years never recognizing the patterns, but now that I see them, I force myself to be more conscious of my choices.

When I’m mad at this friend I feel strongly about, I slam the brakes on my crazy train. I try to remember that he has no idea what things upset me, and that if I care for him to know, I can explain it. Even better, I can keep it to myself and evaluate it because it’s not his burden to carry. If anything, knowing these things about myself gives me a better idea about the kind of man I want to someday love, and he will have to be nothing like my dad.

Featured Image via Wilson-Brothers.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/Allisondraisthebomba Allison Hansen

    I had a very similar situation growing up and do the same things when I feel hurt. It’s definitely a hard hard cycle to break.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Andlikethecatihaveninetimestodie Heather Mckown

    I also have daddy issues…I’m the same with friends or people i am dating..if they do something to hurt me once, i break off the friendship and or relationship and never talk to them again. sometimes they don’t even know what they’ve done. And in relationships i always break up with whoever i am dating before they break up with me. The first five months that my girlfriend and i were together i broke up with her 6 times or so…but she always said we had to remain friends at least because i was too important to her to lose as a friend too. Now we’ve been together for five more months without a break up and i know that i love her and can trust her and that she loves me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.estep Jeff Estep

    My wife falls into this category, though she also has issues with her mother. Of course, when your father was never in your life and your mother gave you up to your grandparents and moved across the country, that will cause some issues. Tack on the fact that 90% of the men in her life have hurt her in various ways and you’ve got an emotional firestorm on your hands. I’ve stuck by her though. Through every crying fit to every attempt to push me away, I’ve been there offering solace or waiting for the storm to blow over. It’s a tough thing to deal with at times but very much worth it in the long run. I know it’s not easy for her either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cassiev Cassie Varian

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Means a lot and makes me think about how I relate things that have happened to me to relationships.

  • http://www.facebook.com/audsey Audrey Leihser

    Wow, thank you for sharing this. I bet it was difficult to put into words just how you felt when this happened with your dad. I think one of the worst things about daddy issues is that sometimes, in less extreme cases than yours, we become comfortable with the way our fathers treat us (even if we hate it) because it’s what we have come to know. And when other men treat us the same way, even if we dislike it, we accept it because it’s what feels comfortable. I’ve been struggling with that for years and am still searching for someone who will acknowledge and respect my feelings in a way that neither my dad nor step-dad ever have. I like what you said about not making nutty speeches, just learning to appreciate the kindness. I’m going to start doing that too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.leathead Mary Jeanette

    Thank you so much for this,, it hits close to home. Oddly enough, it gives insight into why I treat the most wonderful man in my life with a cold heart at times. Athough I know I stand responsible for my actions, I know that the poor choices my father has made throughout my life has greatly effected my relationship. I have also realized that being aware of this will only improve those outlandish thoughts that some times pop into my head and those “psycho” moments that are really just expressing a brokennheart. Thank you!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=854330156 Katherine Baker

    I totally empathize. I went through something very similar, only I had an amazing boyfriend who knew me when I was still in contact with my dad, and has stuck by me after. Because he saw what I went through he’s very good at reminding me to disconnect him from my dad because the two are nothing alike. My problem is with other people. When I get angry I cut them out of my life. I also have some unreasonable expectations of people. These are all things I need to work on, but this article really resonated with me and let me know I’m not the only one who’s like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwetzel Demi Wetzel

    Thank you for sharing. I know a lot of us joke about daddy issues but they are a real thing. A real, serious,scary, and complicated thing. And those without them will never understand. However, I think it makes us gals a little bit stronger each time we overcome something daddy related.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lorehorrible Lorehorrible Ciora

    great headlining picture choice. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisrmiller Elisabeth Miller

    I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s so hard to recover from things from our past.

  • http://www.facebook.com/WritingInBed Marianna Tabares

    Thanks you guys. I’m really getting a lot from your comments. And I especially appreciate it when men contribute their ideas. It’s great to know they’re reading our stuff here. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1169280960 Brittany Anne

    Oh my goodness. This is so eerily close to my own relationship with my father. I am so sorry anyone else had to go through this sort of ordeal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkgrapefruits87 Lauren Nespoli

    I’m sorry about your relationship with your dad. It’s very different from the one I have with my dad, yet I sometimes push people away before they can hurt me too. I have no idea where/why I learned that. I’m glad your guy friend didn’t let you push him away. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.degrandpre Lisa de Grandpré

    I feel you. I never had a great relationship with my dad. It’s just hard sometimes to get away from feeling like a victim in those situations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513458955 Kaitlyn Shore

    I hear you. Dads can be the shittiest – I know mine can be awful and it sounds like you’ve been through a lot – I’m happy you are strong enough to even say this stuff. You’re a genuinely likable person and even though you’ve been through this tough stuff, I’d say you’ve come out better than your dad could wish to be.
    If there’s something that helps me get through my “daddy issues,” (and I’m aware for some people this would make stuff a hell of a lot worse, so ignore me if that’s the case) it’s to look at the men who are genuinely good fathers and remind ourselves that not all guys are bad. Some are actually quite excellent. I guess good dads give me hope cause mine is such a failure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SilviaJuncaC Sílvia Juncà

    Think about how lucky you are for having such a friend that won’t give up :) I’ve recently met a guy friend of a friend and we have this awesome conection (friendly way), I’m really working on not shutting myself and let him know me. Though it’s hard for me I totally appreciate his interest and kindness towards my persona. And maybe it will help me deal with “everything” when I get to meet The Guy :) Best wishes to you, lady!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joni.sopha Joni Mimi Sopha

    I absolutely have the feelings you went through with your father but it was more so towards my mother but because of what happened my dad was also very closed off. When I read the story my heart got heavy and I got teary. Because I wrote something along the same lines as this today. So weird. All the best Marianna.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508371039 Rayan Khayat

    Thanks fro sharing Marianna. This was inspiring.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001751714971 Dani Christopher

    thank you. throughout my life i’ve been confronted with the appalling ways males treat females and then call us psycho or spread rumors around that discredit us–and everyone buys it. as a kid i’d always thought that kind of crap went away when men stopped being able to throw their wives/mistresses/daughters into mental institutions with no real grounds, but unfortunately our “modern” society still does not address the abuse of females at the hands of our male counterparts. i don’t think it’s even fair to call them daddy issues, because really they are male issues that all females are victims of at some point in our lives–from family members, at work, at school, from significant others, from strangers. we are not crazy for being outraged at the ways we’ve been treated. in fact, we are the only ones who aren’t crazy, because to think it’s acceptable to treat anyone that way, especially wives/daughters/girlfriends whom a man claims to love, is just morally depraved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=547592222 Jessica McLaren

    “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” — Oscar Wilde
    This is my fav Wilde quote. I have a similar story with my father. I don’t think I will ever forgive him.

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