Disclaimer: A big part of me having this blog is to allow experiences to be shared as openly as possible in a safe space. I truly hope that you will be open minded, compassionate and non-judgemental when engaging with this blogpost not only of myself but of the parties mentioned. Reality is always going to be a subjective matter so how I choose to tell my story may not be how the parties see it nor experienced it. This however does not take away from it still being MY lived reality. Now that I’m over sounding like a press release statement let’s get into it shall we:
I have heard the term ‘father complex’ aka ‘daddy issues’ quite a bit in my mid-20s in these brief moments they highlighted how the father-daughter relationship can contribute to how she sees herself and the relationships she chooses to experience. I never really dived deep into the matter but as mentioned in previous blog posts I am trying to get my s**t together so it’s time to unpack (bear with me).
My life has involved two male figures who can be attributed to this role. The first being my biological parent (the man whose DNA I carry. I’ll call him Bio-Parent for this post) and the 2nd my father (my mother’s father who raised me). It is important for me to highlight this difference because that is exactly how I see them, and their roles should not be confused.
Relationship 1: My Father (r.i.p) & I
My father played a big role in my 20 years of life. He ran a business that allowed him to be able to stay at home, so this automatically meant we spent most of our time together. I literally was attached to him by the hip. He was there in all spheres of my life and truly knew me (I will try not to cry writing about him even after 6 years his death still is tough for me).
This is the man who showed me support, constant love, opened me up to new experiences, wanted me to succeed and would almost call me everyday in varsity asking me when I would be coming home. As great as this relationship was, my Dad’s temper would sometimes lead to him being verbally abusive. It’s hard to reflect on this because I don’t want to remember those parts of him, but I must also be honest with myself as they do affect me and how I sometimes view myself especially when I make mistakes, I find myself internally saying I’m ‘stupid’ and wondering ‘why I can’t just get things like other people do’ (his voice has become my own).
This relationship was however a driving force in getting me to push myself into doing things and wanting to always succeed but also made me fear being critiqued not because I can’t take it well but how it was delivered once before left me feeling very low about myself in those moments and questioning my own capabilities. It’s a confusing dynamic to explain maybe I should say it like this; it was weird how the person who built me up could also (sometimes) knock me down a bit. I know this wasn’t intentional on his end, but scars are still scars.
One thing I am learning is though that parents also have their own life stories and how they grew up can affect how they act, it’s not an excuse but it allows for me to be understanding. I think a pivotal thing to mention is that the older I grew (when I started varsity so around 18) if he did revert to being harsh with his words, I was able to tell him what he did was hurtful and there are better ways to express himself (this in a black household is not easy to do but -the older you get the more likely for the parent-child relationship to becomes a bit more friend like where you are not bound by fear or feeling like you are disrespectful for being able to speak up for yourself.
Relationship 2: Bio-Parent & I
It is very hard for me to remember many moments together with just Bio Parent & myself. I don’t know if it’s cause after some time, I have just blocked out some of the memories or if they just aren’t that many to remember. Bio-Parent and I lived in two different cities for majority of my upbringing, but I would frequent that side during the holidays as my extended family lived there so he did get to see me and there was at least weekly contact between him and my Mother regarding me.
I have a ton of anger towards him. It’s hard for me to understand why he choose not to be a active father when the door was constantly made open to him to be one. The last time he saw me which was 2019 he expressed he loved me and all I could respond in was tears (mostly because I was angry and hurt). How can someone say those words to my face but has never once tried to build any sort of relationship with me and secondly uses the reasoning that my Father being a Dad to me as some sort of consolation (I will assume as a way to ease his conscious). I attended varsity and all the jobs I had were in the same city as him, somehow, I thought this would maybe prompt him to want to get closer to me but alas …
Personally, this a touchy subject cause my dad was around but his presence wasn’t.
I have spent years acting like this in and out relationship didn’t bother me, but it does. The questions that constantly pop in my mind are; “If my Dad could love me why couldn’t bio-parent, especially because I am literally a part of him? Why was I not seen as worthy for him to at least try?” Yes, I had a loving Father and I am so grateful for what I had but that doesn’t take away from these feelings that visit me often.
I have come to realise how this relationship made me performative( my thinking; be great in school and then maybe he would have more of an interest in trying to get to know me) in the same breath it also affected my self-esteem a lot (my thinking; why would anybody want to love me, if he doesn’t and is supposedly meant to? Am I not enough? Am I not doing enough?).
It’s hard to fully analyse both relationships, I basically was in a catch 22 situation. One aspect I felt very loved and on the other end not so much. This has reflected in how I see myself I am trying to get to point of not placing my worth on how other people see me (whether they matter or not).
I decided to research on unhealthy father-daughter relationships and found that there are 6 types namely:
Do you think you were able to identify yourself in any of these relationships? Have you truly given thought to how your primary relationship with your father affected who you are now? If there are wounds have you healed them? Are you willing to open yourself up to try too?
People are complex and so are the relationships we have, nothing is black and white. I hope this blog post will get you to have an honest conversation with yourself and if you want with the bio-parent/s in your life. Give yourself the chance to acknowledge how you’ve been made to feel and be patient that the road to healing won’t be a quick fix with this one. Don’t hold yourself hostage over other people’s behaviour.
I can’t end this blog post without acknowledging the crisis we are facing all over the world. These are uncertain and hard times; I urge you to take care of yourselves and follow the rules put in place by those in charge of your countries in order to help protect you and each other. Please try to communicate regularly esp. those in lockdown situations.
I really feel we can get through this together, we just need to bite the bullet and do our part.