AMORE’ (Daughter): Emptiness. This word carries so much weight even though the very definition means nothing. How does that even work? A lot of events in our lives can cause this feeling. For me, it definitely started after my dad left.
As I got older, my feelings for my dad changed all the time. I wanted him to be a part of my life and I wanted him to just leave me alone (maybe this was typical teenage stuff). I was mad, sad, frustrated, excited, happy, relieved, all the feelings when I would see, talk or think about him. The teenage years are pretty formative, am I right? For myself, I just wanted to feel wanted and accepted and loved and worth more than I felt. Now – Let me say this. I was in church ALL the time. It was like my second home. My best friends were there and every waking moment I wasn’t at school or working, I was at church. I led worship, Bible studies, small groups, everything I could be involved in, I was. I don’t know if I truly understood the love of God until I was much older. You read about it and repeat it while you are on the stage, but to actually FEEL it and COMPLETELY understand His love for me didn’t come to me until after I had my son. Teenagers’ first reactions probably aren’t going to be the spiritual kind, you know? Mine weren’t and my parents were HEAVILY involved in the church. I didn’t think my dad cared about me really because he wasn’t around. In fact, he kept moving further away from me. Even as a child, I didn’t have the “normal” dad. He would work during the week and then leave to sing on the weekends most of the time. So, what would make me think that he would want me? He told me he loved me over the phone and when he saw me but his actions spoke louder to me.
I didn’t get the daddy daughter dances, dates or anything like that. We made the most of the time we got when I was younger but as I got older, I had a life and really didn’t think I needed my dad to come around. To be honest… I didn’t really know the love of a father or care to learn it either.
When I started dating, I realized then how desperate I was and how empty I felt. If anyone gave me attention, good or bad, I would cling to it. I just wanted to stop feeling so empty, so I would try and fill my life with whatever I could. I was so desperate for the feeling to go away, that I would do anything I could so that I wouldn’t be left alone. Even if it meant going against what I knew to be wrong or unhealthy. I allowed abuse in all forms and told myself that THAT was love.
When you are so young, people tend to think you adapt quickly. Trust me, we do. We get in the routine and we live day to day like nothing has happened, especially in the beginning. But the emotional toils… that’s when they start. We don’t understand fully what is happening or how to express what we feel because we know that it’s not changing the situation. We take on that guilt, that responsibility and it turns into something that weighs on us more than we can bear. We try everything to make it go away or to fill it but the feeling never goes away. You still feel all of the emptiness. Because how can you fill a void that only one person can fill?
DALE (Father): Emptiness is a human condition that can cause depression, despair and even alienation.
Dec 26th 1998 became the longest day in history for me and in a lot of ways , still is.
As I left Albany, GA heading north, thoughts of failure , despair , and defeat overwhelmed me. Thoughts that my best wasn’t good enough flooded my mind. Being good enough was already a struggle that I tried to keep hidden by always showing up and doing my best. When you’ve lived with “that’s good, but” … throughout your childhood, it can cause a lot of insecurities that follow you into adulthood.
As I continued to drive, thoughts of why, what if’s, and if I had done this or that would it have made a difference, flooded my mind. Nothing is more humiliating than trying your best and then being told it’s not good enough and that settling is not an option. Before my grandson arrived on the scene, there were only three things in my life that I truly cared about: my family, my relationship with Christ , and singing . Now I have 4, lol ! As I drove back to TN, I felt as if all of these had been stripped from me and there was nothing I could do about it. Where do I go from here? How do I make the best of a horrible situation?
I will tell you this and I am not proud of it. I allowed fear to dictate my response to my circumstance. When the enemy knows your deepest fear, he will certainly use it against you to control and manipulate you. My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t get to see my daughters again and that they would hate me and never want a relationship with me. To be honest with you, there were times I was lead to believe that. What an empty and hopeless feeling.