I never knew how, or if, it affected me. I didn’t know my father growing up so I figured if I never knew him, and never went from having him in my life to not having him, then how could it affect me? I never thought about it, I never was plagued when I saw other kids and their fathers, and I never felt different….until recently.
In 2009, I took a trip to Jamaica to visit my dad and left with a foreign but somewhat comforting sense of curiosity. Who was my dad? Why wasn’t he with us? Did he care that he wasn’t with us? Would I ever go visit alone? Do we have any similarities? All of these questions and more were floating around in my mind while I was on the tropical island, and for a few days when I returned home. However, the curiosity disappeared and I went back to my day to day, not phased by any absence.
Fast forward to 2016 when a one year relationship, the longest I had experienced, and one that I cared about immensely, kept getting ripped apart. I would get close, get anxious, and push away, get close, get anxious, and push away, and each time I pushed away I got more and more frustrated with myself. What was going on? Where is this coming from? Where was this anxiety stemming from?
One thing I noticed that was different about this relationship was that each time I pushed away my thoughts wandered to my dad. This was new. This intrigued me. This, although devastated with the loss of someone I cared about, motivated me to find out what was stopping me. What was so deep inside me that was ruining my chances of getting close and sharing my world with people?
When I became consistently upset by the loss of this person due to whatever anxiety I was facing, I came across an expert in the anxiety disorder that I was diagnosed with and began to learn more about the core fears I have. A fear of loneliness. A fear of not belonging. A fear of getting close because that means I will be redefining myself and giving up those fears. A fear of choices because I wanted to be “right” and perfect. A fear of not being good enough, and ultimately, a fear of losing someone else I loved. Many of these themes arise as the child of divorced parents, a situation which can make someone feel as if they were adopted and don’t belong. There is something to be said about issues children of adopted parents face and how these issues affect their lives.