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My father left when I was a little girl.
He didn’t come around for a few years and then only popped up sporadically. It’s been 26 years since I’ve seen him. A few years later, my stepdad packed up his sh*t, walked out, and never came back. He left a note explaining to my mom and I that it was him, not us. I saw him a handful of times before he died.
I guess some men just aren’t cut out for fatherhood.
I didn’t realize until much later that I have “daddy” issues…or abandonment issues. Doesn’t everyone? These traumatic events from my childhood had me believing that all men eventually leave. I was sure of it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in every romantic relationship I’ve been in, I was afraid they would leave. Sometimes I pushed them away, without really knowing why.
Once I started reading more about these abandonment issues, I realized that all of my past relationships exhibited the signs.
I had trust issues. I didn’t fully trust any of my partners. I was constantly worried that they were cheating on me, or lying to me. I had a hard time believing them when they said that they weren’t and reassured me that I was the only one.
I picked mostly unhealthy partners. I picked men that were not emotionally available, didn’t treat me well, didn’t make me a priority, or didn’t make me feel safe. I was in most of these relationships just to be in a relationship.
I often confused sex with love. I thought these two things were mutually exclusive. I used sex to trick myself into thinking any of my partners truly cared for me. This confusion had me looking for love in every wrong place.
I had a hard time establishing healthy boundaries. It was difficult for me to stick up for myself. I often let my partner make all of the decisions in our relationship.
I was scared to be vulnerable. I had a hard time talking about my feelings honestly and with transparency. I found myself saying all the right things to appease them, no matter how far from the truth those things actually were.
I know now that I was terrified to be alone and I would do almost anything to make these men stay. No matter how hard you try, you can’t keep people who don’t want to be kept. All these years later, I learned that none of these men were meant for me and I was not meant for them.
Self-awareness is a powerful tool. It has been my favorite part of getting older. I can now look back at my past experiences subjectively and realize why I made the choices that I did. I didn’t make bad decisions because I was a bad person. I made them because I went through trauma as a little girl and I never addressed it. With this self-awareness, I have been able to overcome and heal from that trauma.
Finally, at 42, I’m in a healthy relationship with a man who brings out the absolute best parts of me. He knows about my trauma and gives me the space and courage to talk about it. He lets me be myself, even on the days when I’m not at my best. He reassures me that he’s not going anywhere and makes it so much easier to trust.
Everyone deserves a partner like him and I hope that you all find one.