Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon

By Holly A. Phillips — @OrangeJulius7


It’s been 10 months since I’ve talked to my father. I haven’t seen him in two years, and it’s been about 10 years since I’ve spent a holiday with him.

I don’t have his address (it’s somewhere in Kentucky), and the last e-gift card I sent him for his birthday went unopened (and I kept getting automated emails reminding me about it).

Shortly after my 16th birthday, my dad bought me a car, took me to lunch, and told me he was moving out. He left that night.

I can’t and won’t say that I had a bad childhood. I didn’t, and I know my parents worked really hard, and sacrificed a lot to make sure I had the things I needed.

In fact, my dad and I have mostly had a friendly relationship over the years. We have a lot in common; we are both writers and techie-nerds, and we love to laugh.

But I wish he would have been there when it really counted—to scare the shit out of every guy I dated, to teach me how a man should respect a woman, and to give me confidence in my achievements.

My dad is a subject I told myself I’d never touch in this column or on my blog. I know he’d hate me for it. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a woman with dating issues is usually suffering from daddy issues, too.

Multiple studies over the years reveal that women without a solid father figure are more likely to be desperate for male attention and sexually promiscuous, have an unplanned pregnancy, and perhaps go through a divorce.

For years, I never thought I had these problems. I actually thought I’d beaten the statistics—didn’t have daddy issues!

But the dots started to connect.

I’ve dated men who abused or manipulated me; I had an unplanned pregnancy, which resulted in an abortion; and I have terrible self-esteem.

I don’t recall my dad ever being happy for me or proud of me. Graduating from college, getting a job, buying my own car… none of those things ever earned his approval.

Many times, they seemed to piss him off.

He started setting rules that made it so we couldn’t see each other—bringing up past court battles with my mom or saying he doesn’t drive on holidays. I spent years working around his rules; I just wanted him to support me and love me.

But last summer, I’d reached my breaking point and I finally stood up for myself. I told him the words I’d let build up inside me for years.

And in return, I got silence.

I’ve been through therapy and am still trying to resolve the question that haunts me daily: if my own father won’t talk to me, love me, or be proud of me, why would anyone else?

Even though we are both adults, I hope that he can understand my feelings, tell me he loves me, and we can move on as a family.

No one can fulfill the relationship a daughter has with her father, and I’m still wishing that ours can be resurrected.

If you’re able to see your dad this Father’s Day, or even talk to him, thank him for being there when it really mattered.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have that option.

Read more about dating with daddy issues on Holly’s blog, TheBitterLemon.com.


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