Healing the Wound of an Emotionally Absent Father
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"Melanie" came to me because she wanted to work on the emotional abandonment by her father. Although she was 34 years old, smart and attractive, none of her relationships with men ever went anywhere. She saw a connection there. Even before her father gambled away all money and left the family in poverty when she was 9 years old, he had no regards for her feelings. After his divorce from her mother, she was "kicked to the curb".
He was a man of big promises - and he never delivered. For example, he told Melanie that she could spend the summer with him, and then he casually called it off. So we first tapped on a tsunami of pain and grief and frustration:
Even though my father always, always let me down...
Even though my father said: "I don't know what you are talking about" when I reminded him that he had promised me to spend the summer with him...
Even though there is this deep pain in my heart because my father never noticed me, never paid attention to me...
Even though I have been waiting my whole life for my father...
When I asked Melanie for a specific memory, she came up with a scene when she was 7 years old: She was standing in her father's bedroom at his bed, watching him while he was asleep, "dead to the world". She was waiting for him to wake up, and there was nothing she could do to get his attention.
Intense feelings of sadness, being lost and utter defeat came to the surface, trapped in her thighs and pelvis.
(This memory shows that it is not always active abuse or severe trauma that hurt a child. If a static scene, an image contains the whole painful essence of a relationship, that is enough to cause deep wounding.)
When the emotional intensity came down from a 10 to a 5, I got the intuitive hunch to do a memory enrichment rather than continue tapping, and Melanie loved the idea.
A memory enrichment is an act of creative imagination that changes a painful memory into something beautiful and profoundly satisfying. This is not just turning it into its opposite, but lifting it to a higher, often metaphysical level.
Now Melanie is standing at her father's bed, but he is waking up. He tells her how happy he is that she is there, and that he can't wait to play with her. That feels good, but what the little girl really wants is that this lasts forever. So a Fairy Godmother shows up, waves her magic wand and asks the little girl what she wants.
"I want that the happiness with my dad lasts forever!"
"Granted", says the Fairy Godmother.
Melanie was very happy with this and exclaimed: "I can actually have what I want! That is so strange."
In the second session we worked on a deeper layer of the father issue that had come up during the week: the anger, the rage.
Melanie: “It was all about making himself comfortable; he never considered other people's feelings. I wasn't even allowed to have feelings." The intensity was at a 10, and a memory came up.
Even though I feel this intense rage and anger, and I am infuriated when I think of my father....
Even though he promised to buy me these special sneakers, he sent me some discount brand...
Even though I am not worth it...
The intensity had dropped to a 6, and I asked her what the remaining anger was about.
Even though I always got the bare minimum, but I needed so much more...
Even though I am deeply disappointed that my father never made any effort to build me up...
Even though this remaining anger is stuck in my neck and shoulders...
Melanie was feeling much better.
At the beginning of the third session Melanie reported that she had experienced a car accident. No injuries, but the car needed minor repair. She had told her father about it in a phone call - and there something surprising happened.
"He was caring and concerned! He has never been like that before. And then, can you believe it, he just sent me a check for $1000! I am floored. That was more than the bill for the repair. He never, ever has been generous in the past."
(I love it when things like that happen. It shows that changing the energy of one person changes the whole energy field around her.)
In the forth session, we worked on a very painful father memory that Melanie titled "Kicked to the curb".
Right after the divorce, her father picked her up from school. There was a lady sitting in the front seat, and Melanie crawled into the back. This was obviously "his lady", but the father had never prepared her for this. Thinking of this scene, intense grief, sadness and anger were coming up for Melanie, and she felt it as heaviness in her thighs.
Even though my father just walked away from his family after the divorce, and my heart it torn...
Even though I could sense his love for this woman and he never really loved us, and that hurts so much...
Even though I was no longer daddy’s little girl, he just kicked me to the curb...
After this tapping round, Melanie had a big, though crushing revelation: "My father had no attachment to me! He probably loved me in his own way, but there was no sense of personal responsibility, emotional care, or concern. I have tried to fix myself my whole life so attachment can happen - and I am still doing exactly that with my boyfriends!"
We tapped on the shock and the devastation of this awareness, and how she has been attracting "fragments of love" over and over again. At the end, she felt profoundly different. "More feminine, more in my body. Love might just show up. I am enough." What a breakthrough.
In the fifth session, we worked with another very painful memory: the moment when her father told her he was moving out. She was standing at a bus station with him, and he said casually: "Your dad is going away for a while". That was it.
Even though I froze in shock when he said that...
Even though there was no preparation, I had no idea what was happening, and why...
Even though I still feel that grief and sadness and anger in my solar plexus....
The intensity went somewhat down, but not that much. So I asked her what her feelings were about the words "for a while". (He had said that he would leave for a while). Melanie had never thought about that, and she reacted strongly to it: "This was cruel, torture. I kept waiting for him to come back, but he never did. And a part of me is still waiting."
Even though a part of me is still waiting for my father to return...
At the end, Melanie declared that she or any part of her was no longer waiting, and that was a huge relief.
As for the boyfriends, Melanie is no longer putting up with "fragments of love." Recently, she talked on the phone to a "gorgeous looking" man who had caught her attention at an online dating service. He was nice, smart and charming too. However, when he said that he just wanted "fun" and not a serious relationship, she dropped him. Melanie: "I would not have done that in the past. I always tried hard to get them emotionally involved anyway, but it never worked, and I only got hurt. Stepping out of this pattern feels so good.”
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Carna Zacharias-Miller is a certified EFT practitioner in Tucson, Arizona. She specializes in the childhood trauma of missing mothers and absent fathers.
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