I’ve never mastered the art of letting go. I’d like to say I’ve gotten better at it over the years, and in some aspects I have, but it’s still hard. I am one who likes to hold on until the bitter end, even when things CLEARLY are over. I could say that I don’t know where that comes from, but that would be a lie. I believe it stems from my childhood.
Now, I am not going to go into some blaming session toward my parents. They are good and decent people. Did they make mistakes? Yes, but we all do. Did they purposely cause lasting trauma in our lives? Absolutely not. Did their decisions have a lasting effect regardless? Yes, some of them did. I have a good relationship with both parents today. That took work and lots of forgiveness (and still takes work and forgiveness) but I am thankful for what we do have.
My parents divorced when I was almost a teenager. To say it was traumatizing would be an understatement. It has caused some issues. All of the talk in recent years about having “daddy issues” has become a joke of sorts, but, it does not lessen the truth of it. I think lots of people have “parental issues” that still affect them today.
Back to my story. I won’t go into explicit detail, but, I will say that I was daddy’s girl. When my parents divorced and my dad immediately married another woman, I was left crushed, devastated, confused and very, very hurt. In my mind, he abandoned us. He abandoned me. I was left feeling (as most kids do) that somehow part of this was my fault and if daddy really loved me then how could he leave? Fast forward to my teen years and seeking love in boys who didn’t know the meaning of the word. Fast forward to college years and picking guys who were slime balls (not all were, but most were). Fast forward to trying to get my life right with God and marrying a guy who used to be a huge player, but, told me he was changing his life around and getting right with God. He wasn’t. He didn’t. The marriage was a long-lasting fiasco and complete “hot mess”. The best thing to come out of that union were my kids. Fast forward to my divorce. It caused within me such devastation that took me years to get over. Fast forward to me dabbling in relationships post-divorce. The incidences were few and far between but I will say that I did experience deep, deep heartbreak again. I also experienced going out with men who would consistently disappoint or hurt me. Ultimately, nothing has worked out so far. But, I still have hope in spite of it all.
How does this all relate to daddy issues? Answer: the abandonment. I felt my father had abandoned me and I spent an entire marriage trying to “fix” that abandonment by marrying someone similar to my dad in some major ways, but, that someone also treated me badly. You see, I was trying to stay married to someone who was unavailable to me. Someone who would leave. Someone who was not a good person. Why? 3 Reasons: (1) By staying in the marriage I was subconsciously trying to fix my parents’ marriage. If I could stay married, I’d somehow “win” by avoiding divorce. (2) I didn’t want to somehow disappoint God by getting a divorce. (3) Because subconsciously I felt a I didn’t deserve any better. Deep down, I felt like something was wrong with me because the person I had loved with all my heart in my early years, (my dad) had left me. If I wasn’t somehow “good enough” for my dad to stick around for our family, then, I must not be worthy of love or good treatment. I couldn’t have rationalized that at the time. I was in the thick of it and often when you’re in the middle of an unhealthy situation, you’re not able to see how bad it was until AFTER you’re free from it. And because I’d been unconsciously operating this way for so long, I didn’t know any better. Therefore the unhealthy pattern was strung through my post-divorce relationships (or attempts at relationships) as well. It took some counseling to realize it. I began to see that I always chose someone (whether a good person or not) who was not fully available to me (whether physically or emotionally or both) and of course the relationships or dating situations ultimately never worked out.
What can be done to change the cycle? First, be AWARE of the cycle. Second, when you realize you are going down the same path, catch yourself earlier and earlier so that you can “let go” and proceed in a different direction. It is actually going to take work. You will not be perfect at it. But, you will begin to see that harmful pattern sooner and sooner, so that you can stop yourself from going down that old road. The other part is realizing that you deserve GOOD. You deserve a healthy relationship with someone who IS emotionally and physically available. Someone who will treat you well. Someone, who, although not perfect, is balanced and emotionally healthy and will invest in the relationship WITH you.
What if you feel that you cannot navigate this on your own? You may want to go to a licensed professional counselor who can help walk through this process to find healing and make healthier choices. There is no shame in it. I realize there is still a stigma around going to counseling or therapy, but, think of it this way… If you are injured physically in some way, you go to see a physical therapist. If you are injured emotionally, you should see an emotional therapist. We are multidimensional human beings and therefore must care for ALL parts of ourselves. You’re worth it.
Hope this has helped someone.
~ Kay Dee © 2018 “The Art of Letting Go”