Filling The Dad-Sized Hole In Your Life

This Man I Call Dad

It was just the three of us for as long as I can remember. The memories I have of a loving caring father are pieced together only from what my aunt has told me. Devoted in the first year of my twin sister and my life, the only year of my life that my parents were married, my Dad would hold us, feed us and play with us. But these fabricated memories are like pictures of me looking on at a man holding babies in his giant loving arms. But I have never felt that.

There have been many conversations over the past few years. My aunt and I have discussed my Dad’s lack of interest or action with no sense of peace at the end. He is a mystery to us.

I am a 27 year-old woman. I am married, have a master’s degree and I have gotten myself through college. For the childhood that I had, I am fairly well-adjusted and compared to most, I have taken care of myself for a long time. When I think about my accomplishments and where I came from, I feel a sense of pride and strength. I am not saying this to brag. I am really not. I am saying this to show the contrast of how I feel about this stranger. This man I call Dad. In his presence I am 8 years old again. I feel nervous and scared. I do not know how to act or what to say. My heart beats quickly and I fake feeling at ease. I have gotten good at that.

The Day Dad Left…Again

Dad or simply father?

I had to. My father remarried soon after my parents’ divorce. I cannot remember much about their divorce, but I do remember speaking to a friend of mine who was going through a similar experience at the time. When her parents got divorced it seemed so straightforward. Her parents had used a team of Los Angeles prenup attorneys to draw up a prenuptial agreement before they got married and so their actual divorce was able to take place really quickly. My friend got on really well with both her parents and despite the fact that they were divorced, they still got on and apparently their prenuptial agreement saved a lot of arguments.

As for my step mom I had thought she was a nice woman, but apparently she was different behind closed doors. My Dad had gotten partial custody and got to see us every other weekend. But even from the beginning of that arrangement I could feel his disinterest. When we went there, my Dad would put us in front of the TV or have us sit quietly and play with a toy. Instead of a bedroom, my sister and I would bring sleeping bags and sleep on his living room floor. I am not sure when the yelling and verbal abuse started but even now, all I feel when I think about those times is fear.

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We were lectured about how badly we made him feel when we did not come to visit. He would tell us bad things about our mother and by the end of each stay we would feel knots in our stomachs. We were always in trouble but we never knew why. The visits became less frequent and then when I was 7 years-old, Dad moved to Florida with my stepmother and step brothers.

I still remember the day he left. The only way we knew was my mother called his landline and got a disconnected tone. She was thrilled, I thought I was too. We celebrated with an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen. As we drove through the dark summer night licking our cones, I remember feeling relieved but also recognized that it probably was not how one should feel when their father left.

Virtually Uninterested Parent

Cold Calls

From then on we got cards on our birthdays, sometimes. We would talk on the phone only if we were with our grandmother or aunt and they passed us the phone. I still remember the dread of waiting for my turn. He was thousands of miles away but something about our relationship made me feel wrong. Relief would hit when I hung up.

As I got older, the wave of panic I felt when having to talk to Dad changed from a child’s fear of a scary man to the fear of talking to someone who had no interest. At the time I did not know why I felt what I did. It is only looking back that I see how reaffirming the rejection was each time I talked on the phone. Correcting my age, or the grade I was in, or even what day my birthday was. By that time I had learned the concept of father but knew that mine was completely different. I felt uninteresting and unlovable.

At Christmas parties, my sister and I would watch the phone pass from one person to another. Each one having a long chat with our dad. He was interested in them. Shame washed over me as I pretended to enjoy talking to my Dad. As I pretended to miss him. I prayed that no one would see through the hollowness. That no one would see how little he cared. I was terrified that if they saw how uninterested he was in me, that they would instantly find me uninteresting and unlovable too.

Can I Fill The Dad Hole?

I wish I could say that as I grew older, I was able to accept it and let go. That I could understand that it was him and not me. But I did not and still struggle with it now. I remember times through my childhood when my sister and I would lay on the living room floor staring at the ceiling. We felt empty.

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We thought about him probably much more than he has ever thought about us. We longed for him to change his mind and come back to form a relationship with us. But even now, after he moved back to my home town, he does not call. I only see him when my aunt invites him to meet with us.

My aunt and I have speculated reasons, perhaps some psychological issues that may be the source of his apathy or unwillingness to try. I would not say that I know what is causing it. Perhaps he truly can not engage. But I have come to find that regardless of the reason, valid or not, he left me empty and all I can do is accept the hole.

Alexis Ali

I know this article is a bit depressing. I wish I had a more encouraging ending. All I can say is that I am working on it. And if I can leave you with anything, it is the idea to keep trying to accept and let go. No matter what you face, or what is causing your emptiness, keep looking for healing. You will find that there are a lot of things in life that can fill you up.

There is a popular quote that goes something like this – “When the student is ready, the Master will appear.” It is unclear who is the student and who is the master here but what is certain is that the reader’s request for us to discuss the issue of “Emptiness,” has rich teachings and opportunities to learn for all of us. As was the case with the first Contributor in this emptiness series, Alexis Ali has shown a most vulnerable side of herself in this post. Alexis lives in New York and hold a Master’s degree in Linguistics. She is a freelance writer, sings and has a love for photography. Alexi is our main short-story series writing and have done two series for us to date: “The Unfortunate Life of An Interesting Woman,” and “Adele’s Pattern: A Journey to Redemption.” This, however, is her most intimate – responding to your request for openness on a feeling that many try to fill – successfully or not.

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57 thoughts on “Filling The Dad-Sized Hole In Your Life

  1. […] with you our readers was clear. As the months went by, she did and let us into some of her deepest, most vulnerable places. Today, Alexis offers this Christmas greetings to one and […]

  2. delainemyles

    wow so sad, I have never had a stable “dad” figure in my life. Whenever I see posts like these I always get emotional

    1. Ms Claudette

      It wasn’t our intention to make you sad – so I hope you are not. The intention was, among others, to make people like you (and I) know that you are not alone. Namaste. πŸ™‚

  3. […] family all around the table, we found it also hollow. Those of you who read my last piece about a father-sized hole will understand why. So this led my sister and I to pursue tradition with more zeal than most kids […]

  4. So sad… Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are welcome and thanks for visiting. πŸ™‚

  5. This is sad but at least you are an inspiration for those people who might be filled with despair and cannot seem to move on.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Again, thank you. πŸ™‚

  6. This story is so moving. It must be so tough to bear. You are strong

    1. Ms Claudette

      On Alexis’ behalf, thank you so much. πŸ™‚

  7. What a moving story. My parents divorced when I was young, and I always felt my father was disinterested in me, but I got lucky, my mom remarried and that man taught me what a dad truly is. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ms Claudette

      We share so that at least one other might either share their story as well or know that they are not alone. Thank you for helping us let another know that they are not alone. Namaste. πŸ™‚

  8. so sorry to hear you had to go throught this. My grand-children are pretty much in same boat their mom gets them one to 2 days a week and their dad on every other weekend if he has nothing better to do. The rest of the time me and pop takes care of them. thanks for sharing your story

    1. Ms Claudette

      On Alexis’ behalf, the author of this post, you are most welcome! πŸ™‚

  9. Sorry to hear this i can feel your heart breaks . Please be strong and be proud to yourself because you handle it well.

    1. Ms Claudette

      On behalf of Alexis, the author of this article, thank you very muchQ πŸ™‚

  10. Sometimes you wonder if the issue with your dad goes way back to how he himself was raised. Hope you will continue to find healing and give love to others!

    1. Ms Claudette

      That’s a question that the author of this post, Alexis, would have to answer but I would venture to say that you are onto something! Thanks for raising that. πŸ™‚

  11. I was brainwashed after my father and mother divorced. I was so convinced that my father hated me and wanted nothing to do with me, even though I seen him almost every weekend. We have such a strong relationship now and I’m so grateful. Keep working on it and know that YOU are enough and you don’t need your father to prove that. <3

    1. Ms Claudette

      That is such a powerful sharing for our Alexis! Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

  12. I’m so sorry to heard this, I really missed my dad, he is far away from me.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I corresponded with Alexis earlier today and she is so moved by all the feedback and responses to her post. Thank you so much for your care and do hope you will be in contact with your own Dad soon. πŸ™‚

  13. What a sad story. I am very thankful that my parents took care of us while we were growing up. Up until now, my siblings and I and even our kids are very close to them.

    I like Alexis’ positive approach to this. She is working on looking for healing and that there are a lot of things in life that can fill her up.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, her approach is really a great one! Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  14. danavento

    Claudette “Filling the Dad-Sized Hole’ Just truly expresses your range, your voice and your emotional capability. KUDOS on being great at it all ..

    1. Ms Claudette

      I was tempted to take a bow but this was not my writing. πŸ™‚ Alexis Ali wrote this piece and yes, I do have a fantastic group of Contributors. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

  15. What a beautiful post! My dad passed away just before I was born. I’m not sure that dad-sized hole is supposed to be filled or just becomes a beautifully broken part of who we are <3

    1. I too lost my dad AT A VERY EARLY AGE 4yrs so I didnt really know him. I can assure you there is a hole though! when you see and hear other children talk about their dad, when you need that strong male presence in your life to give you a hug or even chastise you as a teenager. When you graduate from college and look at all the prod daddies and even grand pas and …Well you just have that hole.

      When you start looking for an uncle or close relative to walk you down the isle…when you have your own children and they have no maternal grandpa…every single one of those days you feel that hole.

      Yet ….I decided long ago that i have a Special daddy, in heaven who never leaves me or abandons me even before I understood the scriptures. Powerful story, thanks for sharing Claudette!

      1. Ms Claudette

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your perspective! Truly appreciated! πŸ™‚

    2. Ms Claudette

      I think that was the point that she got to in the end – but we have to allow people their process. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  16. victoria

    really a touching story. I really love my parents after reading this story

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it reminds us to be grateful for what we have, relationship-wise, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

  17. I salute you for staying strong with that situation. Hoping for the best for your family.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thanks you on Alexis’ behalf. Namaste. πŸ™‚

  18. As I child I can imagine you would ask yourself why. I would hope when you become a parent that you realize that it really was him and not you.

    1. Ms Claudette

      On Alexis’ behalf, thank you for your words of encouragement Beth! πŸ™‚

  19. I’m always thankful for my parents but especially after reading things like this!

  20. When my Dad was alive he was very much around and although we fought like the dickens-I always knew he loved me. Then 13 days before my 16th birthday-he died of a massive heart attack–I have felt empty and yes a bit guilty ever since (I am now 65)-even though I was at camp when it happened. I did get to say goodbye–I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for you. Emptiness is a horrible feeling.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Michele, first let me say thank you for sharing that snippet of your life with us – and a very profound one it is. Also, thank you for the smile – I have never heard that phrase before – “fought like chickens.” πŸ™‚ Emptiness is indeed a feeling that is challenging to endure and Alexis, the author of this post, has been doing an excellent job of growing through the feeling. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us. Namaste. πŸ™‚

  21. Elizabeth O.

    What a story. That’s so moving, I hate it when kids think they are unloved because of their parents. That’s so wrong. And the scars that you leave a child will be with them until they grow old. Sigh.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Well, our Alexis is 27, she is still working through this – according to her. It is very wrong but it is a story that is, unfortunately, repeated every day! πŸ™

  22. Such a sad story, I’m so sorry for all the tragic things that happened.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Looking for the bright side in Alexis’ sharing – her experience has most certainly made her a very strong woman.

  23. Oh, my heart breaks for you. Any man can become a father but it takes a real man to be a dad x

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are absolutely right on that score Claire! πŸ™‚

  24. Very sad. I was blessed with two active parents and I’m so grateful for that each and every day!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, you were indeed blessed Heidi and we are so glad that you were. πŸ™‚

  25. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. My Dad worked long hours so he was gone a lot but we always knew he was coming back home. I can’t imagine not having him in our lives. Congrats on what you have accomplished so far!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Isn’t she just remarkable our Alexis? I really love her and what she continues to do in her life. Thanks for affirming her. Namaste

  26. It’s so sad that with each phone call the rejection became more apparent. That’s not conducive to any kind of healing!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Liz, i try not to read my Contributors’ pieces to early, aside from an initial glance to see that we covered the bases. When I went through Alixis’ last night, I was weeping! That was indeed the most touching part for me. Thanks for stopping by!

  27. This is heartbreaking, I am so sorry to hear that you had an absent father I was raised in care from the age of 10 and have done so many things that I am proud of what I have accomplished without parental guidance.

    1. Ms Claudette

      And I (Claudette) am very proud of you to Ana! i read her snippets most days and see you working to continue filling the spaces. Much love and blessings to you! πŸ™‚

  28. This is so sad. I too had an verbal abusive dad growing up due to alcohol.

    1. Ms Claudette

      That’s what happens when we do not deal with our “challenges” and end up turning to “stuff” to fill the holes – alcohol, drugs, food, etc. Many cultures, generation, ets do not believe in counselling so the children end up paying the price. Thanks for sharing Tara. πŸ™‚

  29. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    How sad. My dad worked a lot when I was young, but at least he was around.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it is sadly the truth for many people – now adults – and it is the cause of much emptiness in many. Thank you for sharing your experience and commenting. πŸ™‚

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