Lee Wolfe Blum is a close friend and I'm so excited that she is sharing her story here today about healing in her relationship with her dad. She is one who lives out the truth of her latest book titled, "Brave is the New Beautiful".
I know her blog will inspire you and touch your heart like it has mine.
“Daddy look. Daddy watch!”
Standing on the diving board, I would yell as loud as possible hoping he would turn his head, hoping he would watch my dive or my flip and reward me with a smile. His face lit up, his gap-toothed grin, and his eyes looking into mine was all I wanted.
Our relationship, my dad and I, was a story of misses. Missed intentions and missed moments.
Born the third child, the message said often, was “Lee is our accident child” or another frequent one, “Tables aren’t made for five…Roller coasters aren’t made for five.”
I made the family five. My personality, full of the energizer bunny-like energy, a mouth that never stopped talking, and an extremely tender heart, was not a match for my quiet father of few words. He liked order and routine. I liked spontaneity and creativity. Like arrows shot backward, we repeatedly missed each other.
I made the family five. My personality, full of the energizer bunny-like energy, a mouth that never stopped talking, and an extremely tender heart, was not a match for my quiet father of few words.
He liked order and routine. I liked spontaneity and creativity. Like arrows shot backward, we repeatedly missed each other.
Daddy, don't you see me? Daddy look. Daddy watch.
As I grew older, my home life exploded into a disaster of divorce, multiple homes, and then new fathers. I began to shrink, to disappear, and this shrinking manifested itself into a life-threatening eating disorder.
Let me be clear, my parents didn’t cause my eating disorder. Eating disorders are a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. But, I will say, the struggle to be seen in a family full of chaos did play a role.
We didn’t get each other, my dad and I. We were like two people stumbling in the dark trying to somehow see each other. And it almost never changed. We were tangled in a mess of misunderstanding. This relationship also deeply affected how I viewed God.
Most dads aren’t trying to hurt their daughters and his intention was never to hurt me or to wound me. But what if he would have asked me this, “Hey, how am I missing you? How am I showing up for you? Is there something you need from me?" Would that have helped me?
Yes. During my teen years, I would have rolled my eyes, but it would have helped.
Now I am a 45-year-old mother of teen boys. Has it changed? Is our relationship better? YES! I am able to look back and see that he loved me in the only way he knew how. He loved by providing; this is what he was taught.
I needed talking. I needed a relationship. I couldn’t express this, and he couldn’t see it.
But in my 20’s we sat in a therapist’s office and laid it all on the table. The hurt, the pain, the mean comments that wounded my young soul. Both of us in tears.
And the best gift he ever gave to me, and one he repeatedly offers…apology.
He apologized for how we missed each other, he was willing to see me finally. To see how his words wounded me and apologize for the pain, this was the balm that began to heal our relationship and grow a new healthy relationship so many years later.
Why is this important?
Because he never gave up on me and he showed up.
Two instrumental behaviors that show your daughter you love her. And still today, he does this. He tells me every time I talk to him, “I am so proud of you, baby girl. I love you so much. I love the woman you are becoming.”
That gives me life. That covers all the pain that was once so deep between us.
Today I honor my dad. A man of very few words. A man that loved me fiercely even though it took me a lifetime to see it. Don’t let that happen to you and your relationship with your daughter.
The BRAVEST thing you can do today are these two things:
1. Admit your wrongs. If you have missed seeing your daughter, if you have said things that might have hurt her or wounded her, apologize. Make amends with her. Take off your Superman cape and look her in the eyes and tell her you are sorry.
2. Talk with her. Ask her, “How can I see you? How can I be there for you? How do you want to be seen by me? How am I doing as a dad?” (if you can’t sit down and do this, write her a letter, an email, a text…anything!)
We, as women, connect through relationships, and by fostering a good relationship with your daughter, you are helping her not only feel safe and seen, but helping her in her future relationship with her husband and her relationship with God.
She might not answer. Keep asking. Keep pursuing her. Be relentless in your seeking out of a better relationship with her. No matter what age she is.
I am a living example, dads, that these relationships can be healed.
My encouragement to you is to be brave. Bravery is not jumping out of a plane, but pursuing a better relationship with your daughter. I promise you won’t regret it.
I am standing behind a podium now, a grown woman with her first book release, and I scan the room just like that little girl at the pool. Is he there? Will he watch? And in the back, with his body leaning against the stack of books, I see a gap-toothed smile. I see him, he showed up. He continues to show up.
“Daddy look! Daddy, I did it!” I want to yell across the room.
But I don’t have to now. Because I know he sees me.
Lee Wolfe Blum is a speaker, mental health practitioner in the field of eating disorders and author of Table in the Darkness: A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder and the recent Brave is the New Beautiful: Finding the Courage to be the Real You. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three teenage boys.
Be sure to also check out 'The Dad Whisperer' Podcast episode where Lee shares more on the topic of daughters longing for their dads to see them.