How can I cope with past trauma?

I feel like I have abandonment issues due to my father not being in our lives much. He was in the military. I feel like now I let men treat me like crap due to not feeling loved from my father. How do I not effect my life now?
Asked by Lucia
Answered
12/06/2021

I can tell by your statement that you are in a lot of emotional pain due to a lack of engagement with your father while growing up. Also, you are correct with the connection between an absent father in a girl/young woman's life and low self esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and shame because we tend to blame ourselves for parental shortcomings rather than look into it deeper to see that a father or mother is not who we have thought they were or should be. The low self esteem usually comes from negative core beliefs we have about ourselves in relation to past trauma and past neglect. I would want to provide emotional support for you while gently challenging you to look at some of the negative core beliefs you have been carrying for many years, and to help you shift perspective into thinking highly of yourself. Addressing negative views of ourselves that are typically not very accurate to the real situation, or are generalized like thinking it is our fault that dad did not come as he promised he would. This can help you to feel an emotional separation between yourself and your father and learn that his behaviors are not a reflection of your level of importance, and how this is related to your father's mental space he was in during your formative years. We want to come up with a reason for why a dad would not show up in our lives and most children turn that anger and disappointment inward to try to make sense of things. The irrationality of blaming ourselves becomes ingrained in us over time, yet it is never too late to work on the way we view past trauma. 

 

The trauma from having an absent father in your life does often become much more important and we feel the negative effects of this as we age. To say that you will never feel emotional pain as a result of his absence is not rational. However, seeing his actions as his own and not blaming yourself for his lack of engagement. So many kids start to believe that they are not good enough or there is something inherently wrong with them for the absence...as we all like to have some kind of reason for someone else's behaviors. If a child is not informed at that time why their parent is not around too much or at all, that it is problems within the father or mother and not the child, it can help to be a buffer and this usually leads the kid to be able to see it is not because of them. Leaning to other people for validation is normal to a degree, yet I am thinking you would do well with a therapist like myself as I like to get at the deeper issues, such as low self esteem and low self worth, core beliefs like I am not good enough. I would use cognitive behavior therapy with you to look into those core beliefs you may have held onto for many years. I hope I have the opportunity to work with you.