For those of us that have divorced parents, hiding emotions and “toughening up” becomes the air you breathe to fuel your body, heart, soul and mind on a daily basis. When people ask about my parents and find out my mom raised my sister and I, I immediately get looks that wrap me in a ribbon of “Daddy issues” that form a massive tight bow around my neck. A ribbon I try very hard to untie myself from all the time.
Being a daughter, a first–born daughter at that, has been hard for me. Being the responsible one, the one who needs to oversee all household duties when your mom is not around, be the strong unemotional one when all you want to do is cry on the days you feel sad, is difficult. So, instead of trying to wiggle myself comfortable in the dress of girlhood, I decided to figuratively wear the pants because it was easier to maintain.
Pants are durable and protected my emotions from the harshness of life and of being in relationships. Pants were simple and never left anything open to assumption. Pants made me believe that although biologically I was a girl, strength equaled assimilation into a manly role. I thought this in my head but was this what I really wanted for myself? To change who I was in order to be seen as strong and less feminine? Equating strength to a gender role without context was my first mistake.
As a fatherless daughter, sometimes we try and fill the void of a silhouette-looking father figure in our lives so we either seek this role elsewhere or adopt a manly role over and above just being ourselves. Not only is this emotionally exhausting but losing one’s identity becomes a mental boxing ring we contend with all the time.
Being a fatherless daughter means just that, nothing more and nothing less. This does not make you less of a girl or less of a person. Instead, as humans, we need to realise that we are emotional beings and embracing emotions and situations that tug at our heart strings is part of living a balanced life.