To the Fatherless Daughter,
Hey. I know it. I have “daddy issues”, too. We’re not alone in this. I’ve always been a fatherless daughter. My father is a violent man with a strong history of abandonment. Don’t get me wrong. I do have good memories with him. However, the bad times were awful and hard to bounce back from. I spent the majority of my childhood trying to earn his love and attention in whatever ways I could, from theater to soccer to leadership programs.
I let these dark times become a defining moment in my history. I was not Sofia, the girl who won a respected leadership award and was top of her class. I was Sofia, the little girl who saw violence too young and whose father never wanted her. I titled myself unloveable and worthless. I called myself damaged instead of brilliant, resilient, and kind. I allowed people to treat me like the piece of dirt I was. And I kept it all to myself.
My “daddy issues” were my own little secret. I let people go on believing I lived a charmed life when I was actually placed on suicide watch by a therapist, whom I detailed to at the age of 14 of how I wanted to kill myself because I so desperately wanted my father’s love and I could never figure out how to earn it. I told people I didn’t have a father because I couldn’t bear the look on their faces when they would learn that he walked away. The look made me feel somewhere between a piece of unloveable garbage and a pitied, needy little girl.
I’ve since chosen a different path than tragedy. It’s one of hope. I’ve decided to recognize my father as an emotionally handicapped person. I’m sure he does love me. I’m sure he did try his best, but fatherhood is not a destination that is obtainable for him. I’m not blaming myself anymore, but I’m not blaming him either. I’ve chosen forgiveness so I can be free.
We can’t lose hope. We can’t let this be where we end our book. All these bad parts, all these shattered pieces, are only a chapter in your life. I know it may feel sometimes like it’s the whole story, but it doesn’t have to be. It was easy to continue living my life with this broken past as my foundation because it was familiar and I could use it as an excuse not be my full self.
We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
If I could change something in my life, it would not be this. Living in southern California, I witnessed several devastating wildfires. They destroyed peoples’ homes. They demolished places I spent my childhood and turned it all to ash. We all mourned during these times, those directly afflicted by the fires and those who weren’t. About six months later, a beautiful white flower would break from the ashes. Soon, the barren places, scarred by flames and ash, were covered in white flowers. These flowers could only grow from soil ladened with ash. Something this beautiful could never exist without the devastation. Thus, is my life. Thus, is yours.
Instead of writing a story of a shattered girl, I started writing a story of a girl who learned to fly by the grace of God and those around her. I was able to be raised solely by an extremely powerful woman. I become a beloved granddaughter of the World’s Greatest Man.
I collected fathers. They were men who were father to other daughters and chose me. Some of them were men who chose priesthood and took me under their wing to teach me the love of the Father, Most High. Others were men who were never fathers, but chose in those moments to become one. They were my Heaven on Earth because they rescued me in many ways, especially from myself.
My dear Fatherless Daughter, we have seen so many blessings. We may have been so centered on the shadows around us that we forgot about the light in our lives. We do not need to turn down the dark road because it is familiar.
I know what the media says about women who grew up fatherless. They paint us somewhere between an emotional train-wreck and sexually deviant and, in any case, not worthy of love. Neither of these are true. Neither of these ends of the spectrum need to be part of your story.
You are deserving. You are worthy of love. You deserve kindness, prosperity, joy, and love without needing to earn it. You deserve your spot in the universe. You deserve to be heard. You are important. You are needed. You are more than your past. And most importantly, Fatherless Daughter, you have never done anything to deserve this.
I hope you know above all that you are loved. Somebody out there knows the pain written on your heart. Maybe it will never be understood, but you’re not half a person for it. I believe you will go on to do great things. I believe that you will be loved wherever you go. I believe in your wildest dreams. I believe you’re going to be okay. I believe that being fatherless is not your story, but rather, the way you rise is your greatest adventure yet.
Don’t close the book.
A Fellow Fatherless Daughter