Getting Past My "Daddy Issues" To Live A Life Of Restoration - Kristian Stricklen (Little)
To be honest, I can't say my dad was never there. Actually, he was always there. Well...he was and he wasn't. My paternal grandmother made sure that I always knew that side of my family and that I always saw my dad. You see, my father struggled with drug addiction so he wasn't really capable of being the next Mike Brady and we definitely weren't the Brady Bunch. When I was young I adored my dad. He was the coolest guy on the planet to me. It would be years before I would begin to realize all the "dad-like" things he wasn't doing; how angry it would make me, how hurt I would be.
My dad eventually got married, had more kids and overcame his addiction. However, my siblings can't relate to my story. While he still struggled for many years they don't understand the feeling of abandonment that I felt. I never felt like I was a priority, like my needs were ever even considered as part of his household's responsibilities. It was always left up to my mom or other family members to take care of me. And that pissed me off. It made me bitter. And so, I began to adapt. I began to create a wall around myself so I would no longer care. And for nearly 20 years my daddy issues directed my life's path.
I decided that I would depend on no one. I was in control and I would make life happen for myself. So in 2001 when I ran into my high school friend Robert, I was so not ready for the ride God was about to take me on.
Rob was my friend, he had his own established relationship with God, his own business. And three beautiful little girls from two previous relationships. Funny thing is, right from the beginning it was something about him that reminded me of my dad. Regardless of that or maybe because of it, I was determined that our relationship was going to be solid. I did my best to cultivate a positive relationship with his girls and their mothers. I never wanted them to feel left out the way I did. I used my life and my experience as a litmus test.
Except this time it wasn't going to end bad. After dating for eight months we decided to get married. But we just weren't ready. While the break up was both of our fault, for my part, I focused on everything but us. I was so caught up in the image of us, I lost sight of us. And I was devastating for me.
But Rob and I did have a friendship - and a true connection - and God continued to draw us together. As my friend, Rob had always told me to give my father a chance to restore our relationship. By this time, my dad and my step mom had divorced and remarried and he had successfully overcome his addiction.
My dad did attempt to recreate a relationship with me, but I was over 30 years old and was not feeling him trying to be my "daddy." I was grown now and he had missed out. We just didn't know how to relate to each other and, I didn't care. Or at least that's what I told myself.
In 2007, my life changed again when I and my "friend" Rob became parents to the light of my life, my son Jacob. After a high risk pregnancy and a premature birth, I was now facing motherhood alone. My dad once again tried to reach out and once again I wasn't having it. I had too much on my plate to deal with it and I just chose not to deal with him. However, a few months later my sister called me to tell me that our dad was heading to surgery for a liver transplant. I was in shock and the thought of possibly losing my dad without resolving our issues was now a stark reality. Thankfully, my dad and I were able to have a great conversation prior to his surgery and began to build a solid relationship.
While my relationship with my dad was going well, my relationship with my son's father sunk to new lows. It was also during this time that I was given the news that my precious son had autism. Being a single mother is hard enough but being a single mother to a child with special needs is extremely difficult. Especially with no support from the other parent. I felt like my life was spinning out of control but at the same time I knew God had more for me. I began reading I Declare by Joel Osteen and started speaking positivity back into my life. Once I stopped concentrating on my problems, my problems began to disappear.
Three years ago I turned 40 and decided to host an autism fundraiser. I had no idea that by giving back that I would receive the greatest gift of all. True restoration. To my surprise my dad came to my birthday party and Rob came to support our son. Since that day my dad and I have a weekly call and have continued to get close.
So much so, he walked me down the aisle and performed my wedding ceremony with Rob and me one year ago.