Whenever someone says they've experienced a traumatic event, my mind automatically flips to things like: war, rape, violence, a freak accident, or the untimely death of a loved one. In other words - fairly tangible events that have clear and direct impacts on a person's life once said the trauma has occurred. But what about traumas that don't necessarily "happen" to you? Traumas you can't tangibly see or quantify... Life-altering situations that you are more or less born into... Do those count as traumas? And if not... what's the correct word for something like that?
The specific example of this that constantly seems to creep into my thoughts is that of fatherless children. Fatherless daughters, in particular. Lately, every show I've been watching seems to somehow touch on the issue of daughters who were abandoned by (or never knew) their fathers.
For a very long time (i.e. the better part of my time on this planet), I didn't much see this subject as any kind of epidemic or life-altering matter. Kids growing up without fathers in their lives is something that I not only saw all around me, but it's something I've also experienced first-hand. And while I've always considered myself to be pretty well-adjusted and "normal" by societal standards, it was only in my mid to late twenties that I started to really ponder whether or not being sans dad had personally affected me in any meaningful way.
On the one hand, I think I turned out pretty darn great, thanks almost entirely to my mom, who has the strength of a thousand suns. I always did well in school, never got into drugs or excessive drinking, avoided promiscuity, formed meaningful friendships, and am now adulting at a pretty decent level.
On the other hand though, my skills when it comes to things like self-confidence and forming intimate relationships have sort of sucked for years. I'm only now teaching myself to fix these things. Verbally expressing my feelings to others has never been an easy task for me; and although I'm quite content being introverted, I recognize that internally, my demeanor can quickly go...
It's either I wall myself up emotionally, or when I do finally hit my breaking point, the emotional floodgates leave me drowning in anger/sadness. It's nutty. I know. The Libra in me is furious because I should be better at "balancing" my feelings. But it is what it is, and I'm beginning to wonder if the absence of a father growing up has anything to do with my inability to properly express myself in relationships, or overall.
Now, as far as I know, my father is still alive and well. He just never cultivated a relationship with me. I have made a few minor attempts to reach out to him over the years, but to no avail. And perhaps, that's been a sticking point that has driven me to the types of relationship experiences I've had in the past. When I look back on these experiences, the pattern is clear: I would catch feelings for dudes who were either emotionally unavailable or physically distant in some way. We'd be good for a while, and then I would start to feel as though they were pulling away - which would then prompt me to try harder to keep them close. A cycle with which I'm sure many women are familiar.
It's not to say that I blame my absentee father for my failed relationships, but I don't not blame him - if only for the simple fact that if perhaps he had invested a decent amount of interest in my existence or well-being, maybe I would have benefited from a tad more self-confidence. Maybe I would have been better equipped to walk away faster from relationships and situations that did not serve me. Maybe I would have learned to use my voice a little more and speak up whenever I felt short-changed. Maybe.
Unfortunately, there's no real way for me to prove that things would have been better had he been involved in my upbringing. For all I know, he would have been a shit dad, or a bad influence, or a Trump supporter. So, there's no point dwelling on the what ifs at this point. I think the thing I'm wondering now is whether or not it would benefit me at all to reach out to him as an adult? The damage may have already been done - but the logical part of me thinks that if left unaddressed, my future self might continue to run into emotional roadblocks.
Sidenote: Anyone else get teary-eyed every time they see this Fresh Prince scene? Every. damn. Time. Lol.