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Our relationships with our fathers will have a significant influence on how we see men. It will determine whether we think they are trustworthy. It will influence whether we will be fearful of being abandoned by men. Through our father’s eyes we look at ourselves – this is how we imagine men will see us. Do we measure up? Or are we always going to over-compensate to make up for us not feeling worthy. And how much bad treatment will we take simply because we fear being abandoned?
If we are lucky enough to be treated by our dads like Princess Cheesecake, the One and Only, but with respect for our separateness, our entire view of ourselves changes. We expect more for ourselves, and we are faster to dismiss relationships that are toxic for us.
Wanting our father’s approval is a very normal desire for a little girl of any age. I remember how my father ridiculed people with normal fear, so at the age of six I decided I was not scared of his pack of ferocious Alsations. They did not eat me, so there must be some truth to the notion that dogs smell fear and will attack. But that experience of trying to impress my father meant that I could not connect to feeling fear. I did not know that I had fear of abandonment triggers, as I simply could not connect to any feelings of fear!
Leoni decided that she would have to be her two sisters’ caretaker. Her dad told her as the oldest they were her responsibility to make sure they were not bullied. So she built herself a bulletproof, tough attitude. ”It was very hard to make friends, as I did not let anyone see the real me. I was longing for a relationship in which I was accepted. I did not realise that my relationships kept failing because my bulletproof attitude meant I was pushing them out of my life. I had to learn all over how to let people see the real, soft me inside.”
Sandra’s dad died when she was very young. He was her hero. They had fun. He was one hundred percent on her side. She tried to recreate that relationship all her life. Problem was that …