When a Father Leaves: Adolescence and Abandonment

Girl stood looking towards the distant seaIf her heart is broken, maybe it’s because her father broke it first. Her inability to accept herself is probably because he told her that she would never be good enough for anyone or anything.

I am a young lady that grew up without a father. I would watch enviously as friends celebrated father’s day, wishing I could do the same. I remember spending hours imagining my father coming back and telling me how he has missed me in his life. I imagined conversations and holidays that I knew would never happen. I could not fathom why I was never good enough for him to call daughter. If I am not good enough for my father, how will I be good enough for anyone else?

This began my journey to self-loathing. As an eight-year-old, I would spend hours drawing circles around the areas I wanted to change. As more and more people around me commented about my weight and unattractive features, I began to obsess about my image. I moved from dreaming about plastic surgery to experimenting with ways to lose weight. People around me were too busy to realize that I had begun experimenting with diet pills, binging and purging, and starving myself for days on end. All I could think about was being skinny. Maybe if I was smaller, I would be sexier. Maybe if I was skinnier, more people would love me. Maybe if I was skinnier, my father would come back…

My strong desire to be loved strained my relationship with food, and began to take a toll on my mind. I would find myself crying for hours on end, not even sure what I was crying about. I began hiding from the world, thinking of ways to give myself an early exit. At that moment I did not realize that I was suffering from depression. In all honesty, I thought that’s how life worked: some people deserved happiness, and some didn’t. I was one of those that didn’t deserve it. I was not popular, and I didn’t fit in with anyone in my family. I was a constant outcast, and this pushed me into further isolation.

My isolation made me desperate. I wanted someone, anyone to love me. I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere. So I clung on to the first sign of love that presented itself to me. It always came in the form of an abusive relationship, but that didn’t matter to me. I allowed people to cheat, because at least they would come back to me. I justified the physical abuse, blaming myself for saying or doing the wrong thing. I endured the emotional and psychological torture, because at least I was not alone. Any attention I received was better than nothing at all. I would run away from any “good guy” because someone like me didn’t deserve anything good.

Today, I’m a work in progress. I still have food issues that make me border on an eating disorder. After six different combinations, I have found antidepressants that are helping to pull me out of the dark shadows of my mind. I still find myself afraid of relationships, scared that I might end up in more abusive relationships. I try to keep my mind occupied with small happy thoughts, which will one day lead me to some form of happiness.

ros limbo share your storyI was first diagnosed with depression in my last year of university. From that day on, my life changed. I have tried over four combinations of medication over the last two years. I try to focus on the positive: my love for God, writing, and yoga. I am lucky to have family and friends that support me even when they don’t understand my struggle.  

Ros keeps a blog at memoirsofavirginprostitute.blogspot.com.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Steph

    August 7th, 2015 at 3:21 PM

    I’ve never read a story that felt like mine before.

  • Joanna

    August 7th, 2015 at 4:02 PM

    It must have been very difficult for you as your father left when you were very young that could create lot’s of unresolved issues later on in life, especially because you didn’t have any contact with your father so you couldn’t really talk to him and ask why he left. It is good to hear that you are working through your issues and making progress. It is very important that you seek therapist’s guidance who will help you to work through your issues.

  • Sally H.

    August 8th, 2015 at 5:00 AM

    We never realize as parents in the moment the value of our words and presence. Be intentional with your time. Ask the tough questions that we know our teens are asking.

  • Thomas

    August 9th, 2015 at 5:17 AM

    The one thing about this that bothers me the most is that there are a lot of fathers who would still like to be involved in the lives of their children after a divorce or whatever but they are not given the chance to do that. They are kept away from the kids out pf spite and not only does this cause the dad so much pain in his own life it is easy to see that the kids almost never recover form this type of abandonment either. So maybe there are some other issues that should be examined in these cases too.

  • sandra w

    August 9th, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    It feels weird how things that would on the surface seem to have very little to do with each other can actually turn out to have everything to do with that pain and loss that one experiences as a child.

  • Ramona

    August 10th, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    There are a whole lot of single mommas out there who have had to step in and take the place of both parents. There are grandparents who have done the same. There is just no excuse to leave someone else holding the ball with something that is most obviously your job and your responsibility

  • Al

    August 11th, 2015 at 4:05 AM

    The same things could be said about when mothers leave at a pivotal time in the lives of their children

  • Bryant

    August 11th, 2015 at 12:45 PM

    Having a two parent home, while the ideal, is just not the norm anymore. I do not in any way advocate for ignoring your children you have to make an effort to remain a part of their lives, so that they never feel like they have lost something so integral in their lives.

  • Cheryl

    August 12th, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    It is so sad that we often look to ourselves to wonder how we could have made different decisions for someone else. We have to learn as adults that most things would not have been changed for any reason, that this is solely the responsibility that left, and never should the blame be placed on the child. And if as a parent you see your child taking ownership of those issues, thinking that if only this would have been different or that that things could have been saved, then you have to let them know that this is not their fault, or they will carry around this presumption of guilt with them forever.

  • Campbell

    August 14th, 2015 at 7:42 AM

    No one would ever like to feel that he or she is being abandoned, and it has to be exponentially more difficult in this adolescent stage of life.

  • Lola

    August 16th, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    isn’t it sad that the actions of one person can reverberate for so long and have such tough ramifications on so many others? We think that the decisions that we make in life impact no one but us, but that is so untrue

  • Eddie

    October 14th, 2015 at 2:29 PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Sometimes I feel so alone that no one can understand the depth of my depression. Afraid to tell people how I feel . I see no way out but to suffer alone in my pain. Always putting up a smile so no one will find out about my pain. In a morbid sense of pleasure. A tormented soul.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    October 14th, 2015 at 4:12 PM

    Dear Eddie,

    It might help to talk to a mental health professional. If you return to our homepage, http://www.goodtherapy.org/ and enter your zip code into the search field, you will be able to bring up a list of therapists in your area. From this list, you can view our members’ full profiles and contact them for more information.

    You are also welcome to contact us for assistance in finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Jenny

    February 19th, 2016 at 6:30 PM

    I am always so impressed by people who have developed the insight to see the connections between their suffering and their original wounds. For me, there are these longings and painful things that many of us have, but the I don’t have a clear sense of why and I seem to misplace where the longing comes from and think I am sad about the present instead of the past. I am very impressed by your courage and your self-exploration.

  • Jaquelina

    March 27th, 2016 at 12:28 AM

    I have a similar story after being abandoned by my dad after moving through 3 countries.
    Aged 11.
    Never got over it.
    Had eating disorder.
    Now 40
    On meds for depression
    So its interesting to see the cause of depression is really in us somewhere. Its hard finding the beginning sometimes.

  • Ann

    March 27th, 2016 at 7:13 PM

    Thank you for writing down your story. I’m currently in therapy because this is exactly what has happened in my past as well. I could’t find a way to clearly explain my feelings and thoughts because they weren’t organized at all. But now I can, thanks to you writing it down so well! I also understand my own reactions and thinking pattern better now.

  • Patrick

    April 20th, 2017 at 6:07 PM

    My father abandoned me when I was 6 and I never saw him again till.i was 26..Had huge impact on my life and at 55 I am finally feeling good about who I am and am comfortable in my own skin.I still have lows and need to have good cry often but feel I am as last movong on..Hang in there anyone with similar story. …Patrick

  • Jessi

    May 4th, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    My story is something similar. So, I completely understand.

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