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Growing Up Without a Dad: Getting Used to Unanswered Questions

by Dalila Abdelkhalek 3 years ago in parents
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Everything I Never Said Before

He left, and instead of leaving me empty he left me filled with unresolved emotions. Filled with anger, and with doubt, and with guilt. He left, and in doing so he branded me with a mark that went so deep I still feel it.

I'm guilty. Guilty of secretly hoping he’ll reach out, knowing all too well that he won’t, knowing all too well that even if he did, I wouldn’t accept him back in my life anyway. Also, knowing all too well that if I would, it would break my mom.

You know, for years I said that I didn’t care about the situation, that I didn’t even think about it, or that it simply didn’t matter. I didn’t care that I had no father to give my Father's Day presents to. I didn’t think about it that he wasn’t there to teach me things only a father could, and it definitely didn’t matter that yet another year had gone by without him reaching out to me. They say that if you repeat something over and over again you’ll start to believe it. It’s a shame that didn’t apply here.

And believe me, I tried. Repeating it over and over again I mean. I still do. Not because I like fooling myself, but rather because I’m not the one who was hurt the most. It was my mom who was lied to, cheated on and my mom who had to raise a child by herself—something I know she didn’t sign up for.

I know she signed for "sticking together in sickness and in health, until death do us part." So did he. Which is why I don’t understand it. How can you look someone in the eye, in front of everyone you know, and say those words if you don’t mean them? How can you just leave that person behind and run off with someone else? And more importantly, how can you leave your child(ren) behind? How can you just create life, and not care about it the slightest bit?

I’d like him to tell me why my mom wasn't enough. What could another woman possibly give him that she wasn’t able to? Why did he leave her? And why did he leave me?

For years I was convinced that there must be something wrong with me. For years I assumed that he must’ve seen something in me so terrifyingly bad, he had no option but to run. For years I blamed my mom for opening the door, letting him through and changing the locks. I blamed her for being so strong she didn’t need him, not seeing that I did.

Now I’m thanking her.

I'm thanking her for showing me that if someone wants to leave, help them do it. Help them to get the fuck out of your life because with them still in it, you cannot grow.

And I do want that. I want to grow larger than the void he left in me, larger than every good thing he could ever imagine, and larger than the fears that go with ambition and proving someone wrong.

He was wrong. I know that now. In the same way, I know that every parent who ever turned their back on their child(ren) is wrong—wrong to think that it wouldn't have an impact, wrong to think that we're not worth the trouble, that we're replaceable or simply insignificant.

We're not.

And we will show you.


Thank you for reading! I truly hope none of you found this story relatable. I hope no one grew up feeling the way I did, but unfortunately, I know that plenty of people have been through the same thing, if not worse.

But please, if there is one thing you take away from this story, let it be that you are enough—a thousand times enough.


About the author

Dalila Abdelkhalek

a 22-year-old girl, born and raised in Amsterdam, with many interests.

One of them is writing.

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