I was born a blue-eyed blonde who was the apple of her daddy’s eye. But shortly before I turned 3, my mom packed her friend’s car with some essential belongings and left town with my older brother and me … while my dad was at work. He had no idea what was coming. None of us did.
We were always safe, and Mom took very good care of us. But for most of my life, I experienced a haunting loneliness that I couldn’t explain and didn’t understand until more than 37 years later. My mother had kept me from my father. She had been abused as a child, and she was very confused about men and their behavior. She adored my three uncles, but didn’t really trust any other men … including my dad.
So she poured herself into being a mom and helping others. A very creative woman, she spent her days cooking and baking and sewing beautiful dresses for me with all kinds of ribbons and bows. How I loved to dress up! But life wasn’t always simple, and most lessons were painful.
Being from a divorced family was much more unique in the 1950s than it is now, and apparently something for a child to be ashamed of. I didn’t realize that until my Bluebird Troop visited our local radio station when I was 7. The announcer engaged in a live interview with each of the girls. I was so energetic – all twirls and smiles – and so excited to get to be on the radio. When the man came to me, he asked the same questions he had asked of the others, but there seemed to be something very wrong with my answers …
“What’s your name?”
“What does your daddy do?”
“Oh, I don’t have a daddy.”
The expression on the nice announcer’s face changed drastically, and he quickly removed the microphone from in front of me and started talking to the next Bluebird. I was immediately flooded with an overwhelming sense of shame.
It was clear to me that I’d said something terribly wrong, but no one told me what it was. And I was too afraid to ask. So I filed the experience away under an enduring belief about myself: “There’s something drastically wrong with you, but no one will tell you what it is. No one will give you the slightest clue. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself.”
I’ve never forgotten that day, nor the sadness of my dad’s absence. In my little-girl mind, he’d left me for unknowable reasons, setting the stage for my belief about my perceived faults and my conclusion that I would always end up alone.
Excerpt from Ephesians 5 Romance: the Truth about Love
by Dr. Debi Smith
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