I’ve lived my life under the assumption that I don’t need you, that I never needed you. You were never truly there so how could I actually miss you? We moved away when I was 5 and you were never a constant in my life again. I thought this never affected me because I was too young to really remember you being there, even with the few and far between visits we shared throughout the years after. The broken promises of trips and gifts. The missed phone calls on Christmases and birthdays. I felt I was stronger than to let it affect me. I didn’t need you, because I never had you.
But it did affect me. I’ve never wanted to use the term “daddy issues”. I’ve never wanted you to affect my future relationships with men, to have that power over me. I don’t want to be weak. I’ve never wanted to admit to feeling abandoned. Feeling as if this person whom you love wants nothing to do with you. When you’re 5 years old, you can’t rationalize this away. You can’t think to yourself, “it’s him, not me.” I didn’t know you had mental health issues. I didn’t know you had such terrible anxiety that you would cut off contact with the people you care about for weeks or months on end. I didn’t know how pathetically you held onto your past relationships, never really moving on, never finding anyone else. All I knew was you leaving. And being a completely self-absorbed 5 year old, the only reasonable option was that it was me.
I know better now. I know those things about you that make you do the things you do. I’ve accepted the fact that you simply cannot be the father that I wished you could, that I needed. You never will. I know you don’t have bad intentions, that on some level you do care. But your brain doesn’t work the way other people’s brains work. It twists things and makes you uncomfortable, anxious, and scared. Sometimes I wish you’d let me in so I could know your suffering, but most times I’m fine being at a distance.
I’ve accepted our relationship and you for what you are. But the feelings of abandonment don’t just go away. They come back now and then. Something will trigger me and I’ll resort back to feeling like that abandoned and alone 5 year old girl who wasn’t good enough. Like a puppy whose owner leaves it at home alone for the first time, I get panicky that they aren’t coming back, that they don’t care.
I’ve felt it slightly from small, seemingly harmless instances like when a boy doesn’t text me back, or a friend can’t make time for me or my boyfriend doesn’t want to hangout. All reasonable things that happen to everyone in their daily lives. Yet it can affect me differently. Then when something big happens, like heartbreak, it can hit me like a ton of bricks, knocking the wind right out of me. I can’t just feel the pain of what’s happening right now, I feel all the pain I’ve ever felt all at once.
I’m learning though. I’ve started to be able to tell the difference between the emotional pain that I’m feeling because of a present experience or a past experience. I’m learning to leave that emotional pain in the past along with my romanticized version of what I wanted you to be. The boy who didn’t text me back wasn’t that important to me anyway. The friend who can’t make time for me is just genuinely busy in their own life and is doing the best they can. My boyfriend not wanting or being able to see me when I want doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Heartbreak can’t break me; I have too much love in my life to pine over the loss of one.
So, these are the things I wish you knew. I wish you knew I needed you but that I don’t anymore. I wish you knew how you hurt that 5 year old girl, and how you hurt her over and over again throughout the years. But I’ve learned it doesn’t have to negatively affect my future relationships and that all that little 5 year old girl needs once in a while is a hug. A hug to let her know that everything’s going to be okay, that it wasn’t her fault, and that she’s worth sticking around for.