I remember a conversation with a good friend of mine about Daddy issues. We had both struggled with mental health challenges, both considered ourselves strong capable women, so were equally surprised and annoyed to realise that we both had issues with the father figures in our lives. It all felt terribly predictable and very uninteresting.
Long story short, my father was not very nice. He caused untold pain and damage to so many people in his choices and actions. I decided at the age of 18 that I had finally had enough of his toxic behaviour and walked away from his influence. No big drama, I simply chose peace. I stopped calling him (he never called me) I stopped going to see him, and after 6 months of no contact I returned the “from dad” Birthday card. And we never communicated again. It was that simple. Because the one good thing about a relationship with a person who only thinks of themselves, a person who can not connect with another human on any emotional level is they really don’t care. It is the reason he has walked away from so many of his Children without a backwards glance.
Now in all honesty this does still pain me slightly. Not that he isn’t in my life, just that he couldn’t care just enough to try and build bridges, to at least attempt to care. It would be nice to think that I was important or special enough for him to at least ask why I wasn’t talking to him. Perhaps at the time I was hoping to trigger a response. It may have changed my internal dialogue just a little?
But I also now recognise this as the behaviour of somebody deeply wounded themself. Open hearted, undamaged people don’t walk away from people with that kind of ease. Over and over again this man has turned his back on friends and family.
Unfortunately, my father’s treatment of me left quite a big scar. I did not realise this until much later in life. I carry a very strong dialogue of not being enough, not being special to anyone, of not being loved or loving. I automatically protect myself from pain by feeling nothing, because when you repress one emotion, you repress them all. I trusted nobody, wouldn’t let anyone in. As soon as a relationship became tricky, I would run a mile. I was too scared to commit to anything, anyone. And the biggest scar he left me with was one around self-respect, boundaries and self-worth. I had none of them and allowed my body to be abused over and over again. Not the best daddy legacy to be sure.
I have battled with a great deal of shame around this, as I never wanted to admit that the actions of this man could have such an impact on my life. It felt like despite walking away from him he still had hold and power over me. I repressed these feelings for so long, they festered down in some deep place, covered up by a pretence of me being a woman in full control, I was confident, I was wild, I wasn’t constrained by the limitation’s society put on me as a woman. But in fact I was hurting, I was vulnerable and I was dishonest about how I really felt, because I didn’t know how I really felt, because real emotions were not allowed in or out.
There were a few cracks along the way where some actual real feelings started to seep out, but it was childbirth and becoming a parent myself that finally opened up that wound for it to come out in all its messy glory. I basically lost my mind for a couple of years, and since then have been clawing my way through it all one painful lesson at a time, and I finally feel like I can come up for air. I can feel again.
Over the years when various people have found out I don’t talk to my dad I have been told again and again that I should get back in contact with him, that I will regret it when he dies, that I should make peace with him. And this is where things get interesting.
I have made peace with my father. For me, my work with ho’oponopono helped me to release the pain and resentment I held towards my father deep down. It helped me to see him as the damaged person that he really is. I feel compassion for the child that grew into the man that hurt so many. And I never once had to rekindle a relationship with him, because even with this compassion, forgiveness and understanding I have for him, I also know that the damage done to him is for him to heal, not me, and that I don’t have to allow his toxic energy back into my life to prove this fact.
On February 13th 2020 my father died. I know this because my sister made a different choice to me. For her own reasons it was better for her to stay in contact with him and his current family. When I found this out I waited to feel something. I waited for some pain, perhaps a feeling of regret, or loss. None of these things occurred. It feels weird to know that he has finally died, but not bad. I feel relief for my sister, I feel compassion for his youngest daughter who is the only child still part of his life in any meaningful way. I hope with all my heart that he died peacefully as I don’t wish him pain. I am accepting that he will never now take ownership or responsibility of how much damage he did. I didn’t realise that I still held onto emotions around this, but when I shared this thought with my sister, and as I write this now, I feel overwhelming sadness at just how much he hurt us, how he hurt me, how much bad this man did. I don’t feel angry, I feel deep deep sadness, and it is only now he is gone that I finally feel safe to let it out. Because that hurt is proof that I care.
I see other people whose fathers die sharing their love, their grief, their loss, and all of this is firmly rooted in love. I grieve the fact that I have been denied this opportunity. The opportunity to love and be loved, to grieve the loss of love and connection. I grieve the fact that I do not feel fully able to share this grief with my family, because shared pain actually creates love.
I do not grieve the passing of my father; I do not regret not rekindling a dialogue with him. I love myself too much to put myself in that situation. But his passing has brought up a grief in me for all that I missed out on. I wish that he hadn’t hurt my mum so much that she was not able to find love again. I wish he could have felt love and affection for his grandchildren. I wish I didn’t mirror his actions for so long in self-preservation by closing myself off to love and connection.
My father’s death is going to be another layer lifted off of me. It is a timely reminder to love fiercely, to connect, to reach out, to be compassionate and loving. It is a reminder to live life to the full, to fill my days and therefore my heart with love and joy.
I must admit I feel uncomfortable with this sadness, I am still working through that, I think I repressed so much pain and sadness in my childhood that it is still coming out, but I feel at peace to know that he is gone. He carried and inflicted so much pain in this world it is a blessing to release that energy. It is a blessing to not feel anger towards him, but now is my time to offer compassion and love to myself. I will go back to ho’oponopono and do more work on myself so that I can offer myself the same level of love, compassion and forgiveness I offer my father.
I am sorry
Please forgive me
I love you.
I say this mantra for myself, and for all others who are feeling pain, be it from the past or firmly in the now. All energy is the same; grief, pain, anger it all stems from love, you just need to dig down and find it.
If you are struggling with grief, with old wounds, if you have conflicted emotions, or crave a release then perhaps the energy of ho’oponopono can help you in the same way that is has helped me. Please reach out and ask for the help you deserve to free yourself from painful emotions that hold you back.
Go forward with love and lightness towards a life of love and deep connection.