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“Ope, She’s Got Daddy Issues” – A look inside using art to heal my abandonment

I am no stranger to being an advocate for how much art can serve as a healthy coping mechanism in life. Throughout the years art has helped me through some of my toughest times.. giving me peace in times of chaos, self-love in times of heartbreak, joy in times of thriving, and therapy in times of anxiety.

Most times I paint pieces that are colorful, joyous, and filled with “lighter elements”… likeee.. my many cloud paintings, the oodles of wildflowers, and of course the bright sunset colors.

However, sometimes I also paint strictly for the purpose of healing.. and with intention to cope.

The Meaning Behind This Painting (and it’s title)

The year of 2022 started out with a bright outlook on a relationship with my father. To summarize a very long story, my father abandoned us frequently throughout my childhood and even adult life, and that abandonment has played a huge role in my self-esteem and overall inner belief of relationships- giving me a constant doubt of “am i lovable enough for someone to stay?”

At the end of 2021 my father came back into my life and made promises for a better relationship. He cried with me as he told me how he was here to stay.. he wasn’t going to leave again, and he regrets all the memories we’ve missed out on. As a girl who has craved her father’s attention and love her whole life, I was ecstatic and feelings parts of me comforted with love (despite the ones closest to me warning me of “getting my hopes up.”

To my PERSONAL surprise (but no one elses… lol), as soon as the new year of 2022 began, history repeated itself and I was once again abandoned with no explanation.. no conversations.. and no effort of that promised father daughter relationship.

I was, of course, heartbroken.. parts of me felt stupid for being so naive.. other parts felt disappointed, but most parts of me just felt extremely sad and still left craving that relationship with someone who doesn’t think twice about it in return.

I promised myself that I would make it a priority to work through my abandonment issues, even if it meant accepting things, I have suppressed my whole life, and even if it meant implementing difficult boundaries to tell someone I care about “no.. you may not enter my life in and out and leave as you please, and I DO actually deserve better.”

Decision to Use Creativity to Help Grieve

As I mentioned above, I find art to be EXTREMELY therapeutic and healing for your mental health. Sometimes it is difficult to fully uncover the deep feelings you have surrounding hurt or trauma, and i have personally found that incorporating creativity allows me to process.. and grieve.. and feel freely, without that immediate and internal block that wants to protect and suppress again.

(I will fully admit, I blocked out a lot of bad memories from my upbringing…most likely because, as a child, I did not want to accept that the people I loved and looked up to were capable of such hurtful things.)

Even though I had been disappointed by my father many many many times in my life, THIS time.. as a 30-year adult, was the first time I was fully accepting it, and also deciding I didn’t deserve it. (Rather than making excuses like I had always done)

I decided to really evaluate my upbringing and the efforts of my father and process them for the first time ever.. even if they made me sad and disappointed.

That’s where this painting comes in.

I found an old box of belongings from high school and stumbled upon a letter from my dad.

The Process of My Painting

One day I was in my basement, and I found an old box of belongings from high school and stumbled upon a letter from my dad. I vividly remember receiving this letter and crying so hard that day. However, I know that as a young 16-year-old, there was no way i actually processed the complexity of this letter.

So here I was.. 30 years old, reading the letter for the first time in a long time.. aaaaanddd.. crying again. (lolol) I read through every part of the letter and thought about my feelings at that age. I thought about my dad’s feelings, and if the statements he wrote were true, or if they were false promises (just like the ones he recently gave me again) I thought about how at that age I clung onto any bit of hope and love I could find in that letter, ignoring any of the parts that were disappointing and confusing.

And then, I felt everything i needed to feel, and used art to help me do-so.

First, I began freely painting

I just started blending colors, no purpose.. no perfection. just really letting myself think and feel.

Second, I analyzed and deconstructed the letter

I cut out parts that made me feel sad… parts that made me feel proud… parts that confused me… every bit of it.

I processed every sentence of that letter, some of it still being confusing, but none the less.. actually processed.

Third, I started painting things that reminded me of my dad

Sunflowers and moons. It sounds simple right? (lol) but growing up my dad always sang that song “you are my sunshine to me” over and over, and at one point gifted me this dancing sunflower that sang the song, and don’t you know I clung onto that flower any time he was gone. The moon part, i’m not sure it has much sentimental value.. (maybe it does and i haven’t figured it out yet lol) but my dad had this moon tattoo on his chest, and any time i saw crescent moons I always thought of him.

Painting these elements weren’t exactly intentional or planned.. they just kind of came to me, and as I mentioned, I really wanted this to be therapeutic and without pressure.

The more I painted, the more I felt and honestly… it was nice to come to terms with a lot of these questions I’ve had.

I eventually got to a place in the painting where I answered those questions, covered up the parts that no longer felt confusing, and felt as though I really dissected a huge memory of mine.. in a brand new way.

Now you’ll see the painting as a flower with cut out pieces of the letter, some faint, some more prominent.

I’ve decided to sell this piece because who knows, maybe someone loves the look of it, OR, maybe someone will read these words of mine and this painting will serve as a reminder to them…

  • a reminder that your feelings are valid, and it’s okay to feel them.
  • a reminder that healing is difficult, and it can stir up a lot of hurt.. but you are so worth it.
  • a reminder that anytime is a great time to start. Did I expect myself to still be dealing with these daddy & abandonment issues at 30 years old? No.. I didnt. Whoopsieeee.. that hit me in the face for sure! (lol) But at the end of the day, there is no right or wrong time to heal and grow. All that matters is that you are.
  • Lastly, a reminder that just because someone doesn’t show you the love you crave, does not mean you are not worthy of that love.

I chose to name this piece “Ope, she’s got daddy issues” because 1. humor is apart of my coping lol. but 2. because honestly, I do. and that’s okay. I’m working on them, and painting my way through them, and I’m using my “daddy issues” to maybe help someone else out there with them.

So that being said… I hope this has helped you in some way, and thank you for taking the time to read words from my VERY passionate.. emotional… artsy heart.


your artsy friend who is rooting for you

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