My father was there for most of my life. I'm now 18 years old and my parents broke up a marriage of 19 years. My father didn't know how to be a dad. He verbally abused me and messed me up all my life and I have no idea how to move on. How can I move on without hating him?

Answer

Like you, I grew up with a father who was verbally abusive, and I hated him for that. I also had a lot of anger toward my mother for letting it happen. She had sacrificed my sister and me to his name-calling in order to spare herself from it. When I married a wonderful man in my 30's, I thought my pain was finally over and I would finally know joy.

When I had kids, though, my childhood wounds re-opened as agonizing memories were triggered by interactions with my sons. I loved them so much and would never hurt them or let someone else hurt them and, therefore, the rage I felt for my parents intensified. I desperately needed it to stop so I could enjoy the present moment and all my blessings.

When I made a conscious decision to forgive my parents, I was finally able to let go of my anger. I realized how my thoughts were keeping me stuck in the role of the fatherless daughter, the victim, and the hurt little girl. I decided to stop blaming my dad for everything that was wrong with me and take responsibility for my life.

I knew I wasn't the names he had called me—fat, worthless, and stupid—but I didn't know who I was. I became determined to figure that out by working on myself spiritually, intellectually, and physically. I set forth on a journey of self-discovery by spending lots of time in nature, writing in my journal, volunteering in my community, and developing daily spiritual practices: meditation, conscious eating (I became a vegan), and exercising.

One of my favorite quotes is from the Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi, and I ask it of myself whenever I get frightened of life: “Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” Forgiving my parents has allowed me to escape my self-imprisonment and experience new-found freedom. I had been the victim for far too long, and it was a role that had become safe and familiar. Liberation was scary because it put the responsibility on me. Yet, I've never been happier.

At 18, you're ripe for your own journey of self-discovery. Don't let your father define who you are. Take back your power and figure that out for yourself. Do the work now so you won't have to do it later, having wasted so much precious time. Don't remain in that cell any longer.

Dr. Robin Smith says, “Adulthood is to finish the unfinished business of childhood” so now you're ready to get started. I wish you the best!

Updated on August 9, 2019

Original Article:

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