I have had tumultuous relationships with men. They were the triggers of most of the trauma in my life and they came in every shape and form. These men were father’s, boyfriends, sexual partners, boys in the hallway at school and men I heard about during gossip sessions. They were men that inspired my first daddy poem and they gave me my formal introduction to heartbreak.

The interesting thing about trauma of any kind is it has a delayed response and then a ripple effect. I didn’t realize how damaged I was until one day I couldn’t get out of bed and I couldn’t stop crying. The rejection I felt from men made me believe things about myself that weren’t true and I didn’t know how to fix it. 

It wasn’t until I got into a serious relationship that I accepted that it was time to face and deal with my daddy issues. Here is how I partially fixed mine and how you may be able to do so as well. 

Get Naked 

I think this is the second hardest part of addressing your daddy issues and that’s because you have to be vulnerable. You don’t have any ‘men aint shit’ memes or ‘men are trash’ group chats to hide behind. You’ve got to unpack and figure out why you hate men and where the bitterness stems from. It means revisiting memories that you hoped would decompose in the bottom of your broken heart. It also means accepting that you’re hurt and allowing the pain of that hurt disrupt your body, mind, and spirit.  

I remember writing a daddy poem about daddy issues and being terrified of sharing it anywhere. I felt stupid for caring that my dad didn’t check for me and disappointed that my dad didn’t care enough. 

Talk to Your Dad 

After I finally accepted that I had daddy issues, I knew one of the only ways to fix it was to talk to my dad and have an honest conversation. Since I hated verbal conversations, I decided I would send him an email. I asked why he didn’t call to check up on me and why he didn’t care how I was.

Being the cultured African man that he is, his response that was it was my job to call him. As angry as I was at that response, I had to accept that cultural beliefs don’t die easily and it was unlikely that he would change. I could either let that eat me alive or accept it and move on. I chose the latter. 

Today, my dad and I have a better relationship although he still barely ever calls and it isn’t perfect. I embrace the good times and accept him for who he is. I remember him buying us McDonalds after church on Sundays, teaching me how to cook Nigerian food, and teaching me how to drive when he got back from work at 1:00am.

I remember him making my sister and I dinner and trying to force teach us the keyboard. I remember the joy in his voice when I ran away at 15 and called him after a month to tell him I was coming home. Those memories and remembering that family is sometimes all that you have is enough to help me get over the wrong that I so much despised. 

With that being said, be better than me and try having a conversation with your dad face to face or over the phone. Get naked and vulnerable and tell him things that make your palms sweaty. Also, don’t expect too much as the response may not be as romantic as you plan it out in your head. 

If for any reason you can’t talk to you dad, try writing him a letter although he may never read it. Some people burn the letter after writing it while some keep it somewhere and revisit it later on in life.

Lower Your Expectations 

In order to find peace and let go of the disappointment I felt with my dad, I had to lower my expectations. I had to accept that he couldn’t love me in the way I wanted and my anger or resentment wasn’t going to change that. I thought about how I would feel if he passed away and my welling eyes was enough to make me reconsider my stance. 

Kids hold their parents to unrealistic standards a lot of the time, forgetting that they have their pain, struggles, and trauma as well. With that being said, empathy goes a long way if you want to heal from daddy issues. You may even discover through conversation and digging that your parents have daddy issues of their own. 

Surround Yourself With GOOD Men 

At times, I wonder if all of these ‘men are trash’ girl bands have any good men around them. Sometimes it’s all that’s needed to remind you that just because you have bad experiences with men, that doesn’t have to define your relationship with and perception of men. 

Look for good menand make friends and acquaintances with them. This should serve as a gentle reminder that there are still supermen with invisible capes roaming the earth. 

Also, consider showing them appreciation by getting them gifts. If you want to go for something sentimental that they’re likely to cherish, consider getting a custom-written canvas poem. A daddy poem is the perfect way of saying ‘I appreciate you’ which men may not hear as often as women or mothers do.

On the note, I’m not fully healed and I’m still unpacking, but I have found peace and haven’t died from a broken heart. Writing a daddy poem was therapeutic, confronting my father about my pain was liberating, and accepting his imperfections was the ultimate freedom.

We aren’t born with perfect dad’s neither are we in a society that encourages men to be great dads more than it criticizes them. You, however, can choose to see the good in your dad or appreciate how the pain he’s caused has helped you evolve. If not, you may never know that all men are not trash and many are superhuman.

The Naked Poet