So first off, let me caveat this entire essay by saying that I am not a medical doctor. I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, though I have seen my fair share of both. I’m just a simple woman that absolutely hates the phrase “daddy issues.” Despite having more than a few myself (mine was an alcoholic, philandering, emotionally distant man child, totally incapability of taking responsibility for everything that has gone wrong in his life) I still find the term too broad and dismissive. In my opinion, it’s the same as calling someone crazy. You completely discount someone’s unique situation when we brand someone with one of these all-encompassing, catch-all phrases. With very few exceptions, no one trauma in our lives defines our character and value system, just like no one victory can.
And that isn’t to say that “daddy issues” aren’t a real and viable thing. They are. For both sons and daughters, how a father does or does not parent very strongly shapes how a child develops. But those issues are as individual as the person experiencing them. Two children growing up in the same house will react to the same parenting styles (or lack thereof) differently based on birth order, intelligence, emotional IQ, and other equally important mitigating factors. To assume that some girl sleeps around because she has daddy issues negates the fact that she may have other reasons for searching out love. Or simply bypasses the fact that she just really likes sex. It happens.
In my case, my “daddy issues” drove me to become an ice queen. I’ve been told this by more than one boyfriend, and since that number is relatively low for someone my age, I tend to believe it. Elsa and go nothing on me in the cold and unfeeling department (or so I’ve been told). I have successfully whittled my emotional repertoire down to the extremely black and white pair of angry and happy. When depression rears its ugly head, I add angry’s well-known cousin grumpy to the mix. I am the consummate pessimist. I whole-heartedly believe that if you always expect the worse from any person or situation, you will either be sadly proven correct or delightfully proven incorrect. Win-win.
Interpersonal relationships are and have always been a complete and total mystery to me. When I was a kid, my parents got divorced. My dad misunderstood the actually meaning of divorce and thought that when he left my mom, he also had to leave my brother and me. It was like one day my dad was my best friend and then next he was gone. Over the course of my life, this scenario would be repeated – and not just with men. Many of my friendships have died because of a disappointment that couldn’t be forgiven – I never forgive and am easily able to forget the person behind the disappointment. And every disappointment adds a layer of ice and an additional three inches of necessary personal space (I’m up to about 4.5 feet).
So, does the term daddy issues adequately describe my situation? Or am I just crazy? Either or neither could be correct, but it doesn’t look at all of the reasons I have turned out the way I did. It’s the same for anyone else who gets labeled thusly. It’s imperative that we stop labeling each other in such far reaching ways. We want people to acknowledge us in our individuality, so why do we insist on grouping each other in a way that removes their individuality? Especially in terms not accepted by medical science?