Triggers – Growing Up with an Unavailable Parent

When you were a kid, did you ever cry while you were alone because your parent didn’t want you? I remember a sadness that would bring me to my knees as a kid. An ugly cry with a pool of tears, hyperventilation, and a pain inside that was indescribable. My father didn’t want me, and I didn’t know why.

Then, when you were in your teens, did it turn into anger and denial? For me, he was a piece of shit and not worth my time. But still, sometimes when I was alone, I would cry. At this age it was sadness, pain, anger, and a lot of bad decisions on top.

As an adult, do you pretend it doesn’t bother you anymore? Like, you are older and past it? I did. I thought that I was too old to still feel this way.  Yet things triggered me despite my avoidance and denial. I didn’t talk about it because it was embarrassing. I was a 40-year-old woman who was still disappointed she didn’t have a dad growing up. I honestly thought something was wrong with me. I was so sick of feeling that way. Once I was aware of how these triggers were affecting my life, I had to find a way to “fix” myself. That’s when I found that there wasn’t anything “wrong” with me. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. There are so many people, who had different circumstances of an unavailable parent, but had the same effects as I did, well into adulthood.

I learned to manage my triggers by understanding it was never my fault that my father wasn’t there. I wasn’t responsible for the choices he made. Growing up without a father didn’t need to define anything about me. I made his absence mean something about me. I made it mean because he wasn’t there, my life would forever be lacking. So, when I would see people who had that connection with their father, I made it mean I was missing something. That may have been true as a kid, but as an adult, “I” am everything I need. I am my strength. I am my teacher. I am my own hero. Learning to break the belief that my life should have been different, I should have had a father, is what finally freed me from the triggers.

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