You are not alone. Many women and men lived with fathers who were disengaged, uncomfortable or simply lost when it came to parenting. Now as an adult woman, you continue to harbor the feelings of the beautiful little girl inside who wanted her father to hug and affirm her. The problem for you now is twofold. First, you never had your longings filled and you still love with the sadness from that loss. Second, when a girl (or boy) yearns for affection and acceptance from her father and doesn’t receive it, she subconsciously blames herself for wanting those things. Eventually, this blame turns to anger and feelings of self contempt or even depression move in. Remember, God creates children with inborn needs: to feel accepted, loved and cared for. These aren’t wishes, but needs. Thus, when they aren’t met, the child feels only partly whole. The good news is, you can move forward and get past this.
Here’s what I would do. Read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters from the viewpoint of a daughter. At first you will feel angry, wondering, why read this because my dad never gave me these things? That’s the point. These are all things that you wanted but never got. You need to face them. You need to admit to yourself that you wanted your dad to “be your hero, protect you, stay connected, etc.”, but that he didn’t. Then- and this is important- you need to let yourself grieve what you didn’t get. Looking squarely at your hurt allows you to grieve it and move past it.
Then you have more work to do. Once you face the fact that you had specific (and good) needs, that hose needs weren’t met and have allowed yourself to feel sad about them, then you turn to God and ask very specific things. First, you ask Him to be the Father you never had. Ask Him to show you what it feels like to be loved by Him in a fatherly way. Make your requests personal and real. I understand that you don’t want to grow close to him because of your experiences with your own dad, but ask God for these things anyway. The really cool thing is, He will give you what you need, regardless how you feel and He will turn your heart around. You don’t need to force it.
This process takes time so be patient with yourself. I encourage you to keep a journal of your feelings and keep writing. Don’t worry about having cruel feelings toward your dad- you feel the way you feel. This doesn’t mean that you don’t love him or respect him. These are just your little girl feelings. When you go through this process, amazing things will happen to your heart. You will feel more free, you will heal past hurts that you didn’t even know you had and- you will learn to love the little you who didn’t get what she needed. God will do all of this.
There is a wonderful book called The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender but it is written fro women who have endured sexual abuse. Even though this may not be part of your past, many of the hurts that you had from your needs not being met are the same. You might want to check it out.
I want to remind you of something that you already know: your father loved you. He didn’t know how to show it because he either never received much from his childhood or because he was afraid. Who knows? You probably never will. He is a broken man who probably did the best that he could and if he knew how he failed you, he would feel great remorse. Just because he couldn’t parent well doesn’t mean that he didn’t love you.
Stay courageous in this journey. It is a great one and I promise, God will come through for you.