The relationships you didn’t have can affect your life a lot. Growing up with a father who is physically or emotionally absent leaves a hole in your soul that leaves an imprint on your relationships as an adult.
According to family and marriage therapist Jed Diamond, you can heal a “father’s wound” and break the cycle of pain, misunderstanding and loss by learning what belongs in the past and what belongs in the present.
What is the father’s wound?
Diamond describes a father’s wound as the psychological, relational, and physical injuries that arise from growing up with an absent father. “Imagine a hole in your soul shaped like your father.” This absence affects your self-esteem, your ability to build good relationships with others, and even your physical health. For example, if someone is overweight, we usually attribute it to poor nutrition. But perhaps the reason lies in the lack of love when that person grows up, in a hole in his soul that has never been filled. According to Diamond, we often overlook the link between physical problems and childhood in our culture.
I saw and loved
Diamond says a child needs their father’s presence, unconditional love, and constant care. To be seen and loved as you are: we all have that desire, and that desire never goes away. Even a surrogate father figure, such as the uncle or grandfather you are close to, cannot heal your father’s wound. This support helps, but does not take away the pain – the loss of your real father. A wound that needs to heal remains.
Father hurt in relationships
In women, a father’s wound often manifests as anxiety, pain, depression, and feelings of loss. This past hurt permeates current relationships and is sometimes a cover for unresolved anger. For men, it’s the other way around: they are more likely to experience anger, as a kind of mask for the untreated pain and fear that lurks beneath. Understanding these wounds allows you to explore problems in your current relationships in a different way. Instead of acting out of anger or fear that your partner will abandon you, ask yourself where that anger and fear come from and look at their roots in your past.
A father’s wound in relationships manifests in two different ways. There is distance and anger that push your partner away from you. Or you always need confirmation from your lover, which makes you very dependent. Both are caused by insecurity that arose in the past, when you did not get what you needed as a child. Knowing this can help you begin to understand why you struggle with certain issues. Instead of blaming yourself or your loved one, make room for the healing of the father’s wound and your current relationship.
On the way to recovery
The first step to healing your father’s wound is knowing that there is a solution, you can heal that hole in your soul. This creates hope for your current and future relationships. The second step is commitment: the courage to figure out how to treat yourself and the will to really work on it. The third step is support from someone who has already gone through the healing process and can guide you. Finally, you really need to understand and realize how important this is to you. No matter how difficult your current relationship is, know that you don’t have to give up, because healing the past can also heal the present.
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