Was something I never had the privilege of being. As much as I tried to be the perfect daughter and fought to be the apple of his eye it was a seemingly pointless endeavor. I refuse to bad mouth him and drag him through the mud because even after everything, I love him more than I can even begin to explain. He has been dealt a really tough hand in this life and yet did his best and always provided for me.
My younger years were spent in a home where there was much hostility, dad was not your typical family man, he had his own agenda. When I think back he wasn't around much and when he was there, he was blurry eyed, vacate, angry and really cold. He was so emotional void. Mum did her best to paper over the cracks, love me for the both of them but I just craved his love. It was a perpetual cycle, the colder he was emotional, the more love I needed. I remember trying to win over his heart so much but nothing I did was ever enough to get his attention let alone his affection. As an adult I now understand a little more, no amount of good school grades, play-doh models or papier-mache masks with sequins on were going to pull a man out of his alcohol-induced coma. It wasn't that he didn't care, he was just too drunk to realise he needed to care.
In recent years things have got better; we talk more, we're much closer. I think he realised some of his wrongdoing and I've stopped expecting him to be something that he will never be. The years when I needed him the most are behind us and to be frank, he fucked it but we've pieced together a kind of friendship. I don't blame him for anything, I'm not bitter - I know it would serve me no purpose. I'm trying really hard to forgive him for the lack of love he showed towards me and I am eternally grateful for all he does for me. I treasure all the fond memories I have of him and the bond we share now. He is so precious.
This dysfunctional relationship I have with my dad has affected me in a multitude of ways though and I'm specifically becoming more aware of how it affects the way I relate to men in my life. They say that a daughter learns about men through her relationship with her father and I'm no exception. Let me deconstruct this for you and explain how my 'daddy issues' manifest;
I have always been that girl that other girls don't understand. I'm the "I just get on better with guys", guys girl. I have always crammed my life so full with masculine energy, obsessively holding onto platonic male friendships. Why? What's the point? I'm trying to fill a void. I'm desperately searching for that one guy in life that no matter what won't leave, hurt me and will be there when I need him. I'm trying to find some emotional support that has some similitude to the love that dad should have given me when I was younger.
I have been labeled crazy more times than I can count. Sometimes I react too quickly and behave like a woman possessed. I still have loads of healing ahead of me and sometimes men trigger emotions within me that I haven't learned to understand or control yet. I will manipulate situations and people so that I can be the center of a mans' world. I have a "dad might not love me but this man will" mentality, determined to have their undivided attention. I am not crazy or possessed though, I'm just someone who hasn't mastered the art of communication, crying out for help.
You're a 'nice' guy - I DON'T BELIEVE YOU! I have witnessed so much toxic masculinity and been subject to so many mind games over the years, that I have a difficult time trusting men. You might be the softest, sweetest, gentled hearted man to walk the planet and yet I would still not quite believe that you had my best interests at heart. Worst than this is, even if you are a nice guy I will push you away because I just don't know how to break down my inbuilt ideals that men are malicious.
If on the rare occasion a man has got through the barriers I have resurrected to protect my heart and we're emotionally and sexually involved with each other, he will need to be brave and patient. My heart is fragile, my mind doesn't think straight and my body isn't as open as some women. I have learned to close like a fly trap when I sense any potential for being hurt. I have an inbuilt self destruct mechanism so even if something is going well with someone, I will ruin it because turmoil comes naturally to me. I have no blueprint of what love should be like.
I have a 'type' and it is causing me unnecessary pain. I always seem to fall for men that are just like my dad - fun, defiant, hedonists. I unconsciously glorify the emotionally unstable. They seem to always be hurting over something, addicts, emotionally broken and unaware of me and my needs - they are familiar. I could never fix my dad or save him from his demons' but I haven't stopped trying when it comes to men I fall for. I unconsciously love them too much, I suffocate them whilst fearing abandonment. I lose myself whilst trying to fix them because there's still a small part of me that believes if I fix them, our relationship will be perfect, and I will have found that man I can rely on.
As I said before, although I contribute these complexes of mine to my dad, I don't blame him in any way. These are my issues and over time I'm working on unraveling them. My challenge now is to stay aware of how my mistrust of men manifests itself within me and work on overcoming that. Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, communication, and empathy are all tools that I have to use daily in order to heal.
I love my dad unconditionally, the bond between a father and his daughter really is one of a kind.