How Do You Move On When Your Dad Abandons You?

Pascal Janssen

It’s taken almost ten years, but I am finally learning to let go of the disappointment thousands of young girls share in – the kind that comes from a father who has abandoned them.

For years I struggled unknowingly. My inability to let go manifested in many ways that I’m only just beginning to realize.

It crept into my friendships and dragged many of them through the dirt. It lurked in the shadows of school, in my grades and in my innate desire to succeed. It took my hand in a tug of war every time I fell for a boy and won.

Never once did I think I wanted to do well to prove a point or to validate that I could live with a gaping hole inside of me. I never thought that it was me who sabotaged the many close male friendships that I formed.

I never realized I was secretly dedicating my whole life to proving I was the exception.


I don’t know too many daughters of absent fathers who can say their lives haven’t been affected. In fact, come to think of it, I don’t know any. (If you are reading this and can strongly argue that your experience hasn’t negatively impacted you please comment below because I would love to hear about it).

Don’t read this and think just because your disappointment doesn’t manifest in the same way mine does that it doesn’t manifest at all. Maybe you’re the opposite.

Maybe you’ve had four or five or ten different relationships, none of which you hold a single complaint about. If this is you, ask yourself this: Why do you jump from relationship to relationship? Is it because you’re masking your fear of being alone, again? Are you trying to find a father figure in an intimate relationship?

Or, maybe you are a little like me. You’ve been living in this world for almost two decades and for the life of you haven’t been able to find, land, hold, form – whatever you want to call it, one lasting or serious relationship. If this is you, ask yourself this: What are you expecting from a potential partner? Are you expecting too much? Are you even ready for a relationship? Do you even want one?

A huge turning point in my journey through therapy has been learning to understand that my needs (just like yours) cannot be met by any one single person. This is why we have more than one person in our life. This is why we have any combination of a Mum, Dad, Brother, Sister, Nan, Pop, dog, cat, fish, rock, friends, best friends, girlfriends, guy friends, everything.

I had to learn the hard way that we only feel disappointed when we expect too much from someone. When they don’t give what we expected, or what we think we need, we make the fatal assumption that they don’t care. Often it’s too easy to mistake their best for “they make no effort” or “I just don’t think they’re as invested as I am” just because it is different to our best.

It’s taken my whole life to realize that this isn’t the case.

Equipped with the tools and ability to self reflect, I, just like you are, am able to put the past behind me. With a deep breath in to calm me down when a panic attack is coming, I am able to let it go. And not just metaphorically.

Through meditation and yoga I have slowly been feeling myself physically let go. With each breath out I feel lighter, my shoulders less tense. My heart feels bigger, my eyes feel wider.

I am a true believer in that everything happens for a reason and that every obstacle you face in your life has lead you to where you are today. Every heartbreak and every night you spent curled up in your bed feeling like the world was caving in on you was a tiny bump on your road to happiness.

It was not a roadblock.

Just remember, nothing is permanent and this too shall pass. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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