My father walked out of my life 25 years ago. When I was 12, he disowned me and my brother who was 18 at the time and had gotten into a horrible accident. How does one deal with the fact that not only did their father walk out of their life but disowned them like it was nothing?

Answer

That was such a profound and thorough rejection you endured and, no doubt, shaped who you became. It would be unrealistic to think that you won't be sad, angry, and despondent about it at times throughout your life. That's completely normal.

The only way to avoid the heartache would be to numb your emotions with alcohol or drugs (legal or prescription). However, there's no way to selectively dull our emotions. If we seek to deaden our anger or sadness, for example, we also kill off our joy and excitement. Therefore, it's much healthier to deal with all our feelings every single day with a routine that's positive, pro-active, and focuses on self-care. Writing in a journal, talking with friends, being in nature, meditating, praying, reading, exercising, and being gentle and loving with ourselves is critical for us fatherless daughters.

If you've built a purposeful life in the past 25 years with a loving family, supportive pals, and meaningful work, you've done an amazing job in spite of your hurt. You've been successfully dealing with your dad's rejection and you should congratulate yourself. The philosopher, Immanuel Kant, said that there are three essential elements to a happy existence: 1. have something to do 2. have someone to love and 3. have something to look forward to.

If, on the other hand, you've struggled in the past 25 years to construct a purposeful existence, it's time to see a therapist. You've suffered long enough and need professional help. You may be clinging to your father's rejection as a way of denying life, protecting yourself, and avoiding rejection. In therapy, you may need to dig deep and figure out why you're holding on to his rejection so tightly and how it serves you.

Once you get started and take control, you'll feel empowered. I wish you well.

Updated on February 1, 2020

Original Article:

Fatherless Daughters: How Growing Up Without a Dad Affects Women
By McKenna Meyers
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