You never meant to hurt me. You never wanted me to feel ashamed of you. You never intended for me to feel unworthy. Those were not your intentions. But Dad, your suffering led me to encounter my own.
I am so proud of you and the man that you have come to be. I never knew this man before, and I can say I never thought I would. You surprised me. In fact, you surprised a lot of people, and we are all so proud that you are free from your addictions now. You are sober, and you took responsibility for the wrongs that you did. When you did that, you gave me the permission to take responsibility for my suffering as well.
My suffering looked different than yours, but both stemmed from the same root. Your suffering caused me to learn four lies that I believed were true—until now.
1. I wasn’t worthy of love.
Dad, when I was born, you gave me your undivided attention. You got down on the floor just to roll a plastic ball around with me.
You loved me, until you didn’t anymore. Somewhere along the way I lost your love. Actually, it was stolen from me. Alcohol and drugs were the villain of our love story, and I couldn’t defeat them.
When they swallowed you, you became someone I didn’t know. You said things I couldn’t understand, and so it began. I began seeing myself as unworthy, undeserving, and completely incapable of being loved.
The truth is: I am worthy of love—but it doesn’t start with you. It starts with me loving myself. I had to learn to love myself after you were stolen from me. I love myself enough now that I know my worth is not found in your love for me, but rather the love that I have for myself.
2. If a man drinks alcohol, he must be an alcoholic.
Dad, because you were dependent on alcohol and I witnessed so many dangerous incidents with you being intoxicated, I developed a fear of alcohol. Dating has become nearly impossible for me. A lot of men interact with alcohol in some manner, and because I struggle with so much trauma from my experiences with you, I put those fears onto them.
The truth is: not every man is an alcoholic. I had to understand that alcohol does not equal alcoholic.
3. I had to reach perfection to earn affection.
Dad, because I fought so hard for your attention as a girl, I thought it was normal for me to have to fight for affection from men. Love has been a relentless battle my entire life.
Whether the affection be from men or from friends, I always felt that I had to be the perfect friend, or the perfect girlfriend. I mutated, turning away from myself into this person that I thought people expected me or desired me to be. I soon realized just how dangerous that really is, and how miserable I would be if I spent the rest of my life living that way.
The truth is: I had to learn who I was in order to receive genuine affection, but I didn’t have to earn it. It was natural when I became confident in my personal identity.
4. Trusting is difficult to do.
Dad, I had lost trust in you. I had lost trust in the first man I ever loved, and that made trusting anyone else extremely difficult.
So, I guardedly lived on the surface with people. I was afraid of allowing others to get too close, and this way, if they left, it didn’t sting so much.
I pushed people away, harshly sometimes. Not because I didn’t love them, because I was afraid I was being loved too much. This became my defense mechanism.
I wanted to live in isolation from relationship—but I couldn’t. That’s not living. It took me 24 years to finally be free of fearing close relationships.
The truth is: Trusting people takes courage, and trusting is brave. I love myself enough now to know that if others love me, I can accept their love offering. A basic need in life is love, and it is okay to accept help and love from people and build deep connection.
Daddy, I am not sharing this to make you feel ashamed, I am sharing this to help others understand that addictions don’t just affect one person; they affect all of us.
You have a testimony, a success story, and you’ve grown beyond this darkness. People admire your growth and that gives you the ability to help them help themselves. They need you.
You could prevent another young girl from learning these lessons.
Thank you for taking responsibility for your actions, because it has allowed me to be set free from all of these side effects I was living with. I am proud of you beyond words.
I love you so much,
Your Proud Daughter
Author: McKenzie Darling
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis