After I learned about my “addiction to love” I was led to a book called the Wounded Woman about the fractured father-daughter relationship and how it wreaks havoc on our future relationships. I had already heard about the “longing for Daddy” that comes up when we pine away for an unavailable man. If your father was absent either emotionally or physically you will gravitate toward unavailable men because that’s your experience. The author, Linda Leonard, also asserts that a girl’s relationship with her father can result in her being either a “guarded amazon” at one end of the scale or an “eternal little girl” at the other end.
The former is the over-achiever who has taken on masculine qualities to get ahead in business or some other competitive field. Often, her father wanted a boy or made his daughter know that his love was conditional on her achievement. The eternal little girl (that’s me!) is a woman who feels herself inadequate and mistrusts her own ability to take care of herself because her father was weak and/or unavailable. This could be an absent father, an emotionally unavailable father (that’s mine!) or a father dominated by an overbearing and critical mother (mine, too).
The Wounded Woman is not an easy book to read as it’s written in psychology speak and I prefer plain language. It does give much insight, however, into the importance of the father/daughter relationship and the devastating effects that can have on future relationships with men. I’ve never had a satisfying relationship with a man because I was carrying around so much baggage from my childhood. And my father won’t change. This is another false belief of the daughter of the emotionally available man: that if she just tries harder, does better, is better, her father will show her love. I can tell you it doesn’t work that way. My father is completely closed off to emotions or warmth and that has nothing to do with me. He’s now exhibiting the same behaviour towards my two daughters and I feel as though I’ve had enough. I’m reducing our visits because I can no longer abide the lack of attention and affection toward his granddaughters. They deserve better and so did I.