(This is the fourth episode in my father wound series. For an overview of the father wound, click here. For my father wound story, click here. For how father wounds impact our relationships, careers, and health, click here.)

Do you think father wounds are obvious?

That you can only have a father wound if you had a ‘difficult’ father?

Or do you think successful women can’t have father wounds?

There is a lot of misinformation about the father wound online, from what causes one to how it impacts us.

In this episode, I set the record straight by sharing the top six father wound myths I’ve encountered and the truth behind each.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

Why Father Wounds Matter

I often see folks minimize the importance of father/daughter wounds:

“It happened so long ago. Why do I need to talk about it now?”

But in my 25+ years as a psychotherapist, I know the profound impact father wounds can have on our present lives. We’re often just unaware of it, which leads us to the first myth.

Myth #1: Father/Daughter Wounds Are Obvious

A number of folks seem to think everyone who has “daddy issues” knows they have them.

In my experience, this isn’t true. (I didn’t know!)

Father/daughter wounds do not always manifest as obvious dysfunction within the relationship with your father figure or within other relationships.

In many cases, the problems are subtle. Especially if emotional neglect was involved.

My father was emotionally unavailable, but he was dutiful. I didn’t realize I had a father wound because he didn’t abandon the family by leaving. It took years of therapy for me to realize how his lack of emotional presence and interest in me had a massive ripple effect on my romantic life.

Subtle behaviors, like a father physically being there without being emotionally present, can still impact us.

Myth #2: Successful Daughters Don’t Have Father Wounds

When we see successful people, we often think their success is a sign they don’t have any unresolved emotional issues.

Looking at successful women, the myth is everything is fine.

I can tell you for sure this is not always true.

What I’ve seen in my therapy practice and experienced myself is that a lot of women compensate for not getting their emotional needs met by a paternal figure by excelling in other areas of life.

I was always very ambitious and thought it ended there.

After I examined my father wound in therapy, I realized much of my ambition had been fueled by wanting my father to see me. I wanted him to think I was smart, even though I knew I was. I wanted him to be proud of me.

Why?

I was the youngest of four daughters, and I thought my father wanted a son. I was his last chance to have one, and I thought he was disappointed because I was a girl.

It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that my mom told me he never said anything about being disappointed with having daughters.

Meanwhile, I had spent decades achieving and succeeding to prove I was better than any son he could have had.

I don’t regret my ambition, but when I reached the “top of the heap” in entertainment, I realized I wasn’t going to get what I was seeking in accomplishments. I had more work to do around my father wound.

After I did the work, my successes felt more like my own because I was driven by true desire. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone.

Myth #3: Only Absent Fathers Cause Wounds

This is a major myth. Father wounds are caused by many situations and circumstances.

Emotional unavailability, neglect, overly critical or demanding behavior, and abusive behavior from physically present fathers can cause significant wounds to daughters.

(This applies to sons as well, but I am more well-versed in what happens for women, which is why I am talking about father/daughter wounds specifically.)

Myth #4: Father/Daughter Wounds Are Less Serious

Some people downplay father/daughter issues compared to mother/daughter issues.

But father/daughter issues can have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself and how you behave in your relationships. It can profoundly affect our identity and emotional development.

It often impacts who we choose as an intimate partner, too.

I call this repeating relationship realities, because we repeat what is familiar to us, even if we swear we’ll never end up in a relationship like our parents.

It sneaks up on us, too.

Since my father was emotionally distant, chilly, unavailable, and never talked, after learning about my father wound, I went for men who were warm, talkative, emotionally reassuring, and affectionate.

The only problem? Most of them lived on other continents.

Instead of being emotionally unavailable, they were geographically unavailable.

As my therapist pointed out, these relationships left me feeling the same way: a deep state of longing. Which is how I felt in my relationship with my father.

To uncover any repeating relationship realities you might be experiencing, download the guide.

Myth #5: Father/Daughter Wounds Require Direct Conflict

Some folks believe overt conflict or direct mistreatment needs to be present to have a father wound.

But father wounds can be created even without a ‘difficult’ father.

As I mentioned, subtle dynamics like lack of communication, inadequate support, and unexpressed expectations can leave daughters feeling misunderstood or undervalued. It’s just harder to put a finger on it and say “This harmed me.”

Additionally, you can have a father wound even if you never knew your biological father, or if he was only in your life for a short time. Father wounds can be caused by the presence or absence of any father figure in your life.

Myth #6: Resolving a Father/Daughter Wounds Requires Direct Communication

I sent out a survey to see what you all wanted me to address in my upcoming father wound course, and many of you expressed feeling like you missed the boat on being able to heal.

Whether your father has passed away, abandoned the family, or you’ve gone no contact, you can still heal.

Reconciliation, if it’s possible (or even advisable!), can be beneficial. And closure and recovery can be achieved without the father figure’s involvement.

Healing is an inside job. It’s about our internal experiences, our limiting beliefs, our unresolved injuries, and the understanding we develop through therapy or personal growth.

Part of the process is also understanding how having an unhealed father wound is impacting your romantic and relational history, and what you can do about it.

But the most important thing is raising your awareness about what drives your behavior because we’re often unaware that a parallel process (called transference) might be going on.

Transference is when you have an amplified emotional reaction or response in the present driven by unresolved feelings from your past.

When you’re experiencing transference, you become unconsciously activated by a person or situation, and your amplified reaction is being fueled by an earlier experience that is in some way similar to the current situation or person.

We must tend to these earlier injuries to avoid acting them out in our adult relationships. Because we can only talk it out or act it out, and talking it out is much more productive.

Download the guide for a few questions you can ask to get a better idea of which relationships or situations may be causing you to have a transference experience.

I hope understanding the truths behind these myths has helped. Let me know if you gained any new insights in the comments or on Instagram (@terricole), and feel free to share any other misconceptions you’ve seen or had about the father wound.

Don’t forget, if you want to dive deeper, you can enroll in my father wound course! We start June 19, and I would be honored to guide you through the process of integrating your experiences and healing.

I hope you have the most amazing week and as always, take care of you.

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