I work with women who have father wounds; they've either been abandoned, neglected, abused by their fathers or perhaps most damaging of all, he's been woefully inconsistent. After 200 interviews regarding the impact of fathers, I learned that they impact the way women see men, money and themselves. In order to heal the way their father-daughter dynamic is replaying in their adult lives, women must come to believe in their own worthiness. Whether the wound shows up as a lack of boundaries, falling in love with potential, a fear of loneliness or isolation, I've found that the root often traces back to unworthiness. Our childhood core belief system stays fiercely protected so even when we're going to yoga, therapy, and reading back to back books, we can still find ourselves in an unhealthy relationship that is eerily familiar to the last three unhealthy relationships we had. How is that even possible?
Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. --Pema Chodron
There are practical steps and journal prompts women can use to begin the work of bringing their core belief system to the light. I always like to start with:
Because my father wasn’t around, I tried to...
Because my father wasn’t around, I became...
Because my father wasn’t around, I assumed...
You can replace "my father wasn't around" with whatever is truest for you. "My father was abusive" or "absent" or "an addict" etc.
Once we understand what we came to believe about ourselves as a result of our relationships with our fathers, we can illuminate the lies we've been telling ourselves. Suddenly the lies come pouring out: that we have to earn love. That love has to be hard. That we have to be strong all the time and vulnerability is a sign of weakness. That being an alpha means we can't be with an equal. That we can't confront people who hurt us. Once the lies are exposed then we can start telling ourselves the truth. That we are worthy of every good thing on this earth. We are worthy of love that feels good, especially from ourselves.
When we say no to what hurts and hold boundaries with potential mates, we can finally stop the cycle and give ourselves and our daughters permission to choose healthy love.
Keep discovering what you've been believing. There are clues all around you; in your relationships, your friendships, your home, your self-care routine. What do you believe about yourself? Every choice you make reveals the standard you accept. And in my experience, women with father wounds have a hard time saying NO. They feel starved for love, affection, attention, so they say YES to crumbs--because when you're starving crumbs look GOOD.
But there is so much more love out there than most women with father wounds have given themselves permission to experience. Good, kind, loving, honorable men EXIST. We don't have to settle for potential and abuse. Saying no is a crucial part of dating. So start saying no, correcting people and holding boundaries. Let people earn and prove that they are worthy of your time and energy. Start booting these boys out to make room for a man. If you are dating you should be saying no....OFTEN. No. This isn't enough accomplishment, honorable behavior, love, commitment, support. This isn't enough kindness, gentleness, faithfulness.
You know what you need. So use your voice and get your needs met. You deserve it.