My father was physically abusive to me, I swore (at age 14) that I would never love a man like my mam loved my dad because I saw how badly he treated her and she stayed with him! What harm did I do to myself? How can I repair it?

Answer

You need to give yourself a break and tell yourself a different story. You didn't harm yourself. You had harm done to you. You were physically abused by your father and further abused by a mother who didn't protect you. You were betrayed by the two people in your life who should have taken care of you. That is a huge mountain to climb, and you should congratulate yourself for having survived it.

How about re-framing your narrative? It could be something such as: I survived a terrible and traumatic childhood and so I naturally wanted to protect myself from more pain. Now, though, I want to open myself up to the possibility of love. Unlike other women who re-live their past and try to fix it by picking a guy like their abusive fathers, I know that a man like my dad is the last thing I want in my life. I'm healthy enough to see that.

I recommend you work with a therapist (cognitive therapists are goal oriented and strive to get results in a reasonable amount of time). It will probably be very scary for you (rightfully so) to move into romantic relationships. It may be a slow process for you to trust someone and be vulnerable. In the meantime, take good care of yourself. Find meaning and joy in your work, with your hobbies, and through your friends. Don't make finding a partner the sole focus of your existence because it may be extremely hard to do.

I'm so sorry you had to endure such a damaging childhood. What happened to you should never befall a kid. I wish you peace and joy as you move forward. I hope you'll be kinder, gentler, and more admiring of yourself.

Updated on August 3, 2018

Original Article:

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