Healing a Man's Father Wound
Only a father (or a surrogate or substitute father) can affirm a man's masculinity and make him feel that he's a man. Neither fame nor fortune nor all the women in the world can ever do this for him. Only a father's love can.
But what if our father was absent, as was mine? He was physically present but not emotionally. He was uninvolved in my life, which I perceived as rejection, and then I in turn rejected him. I "killed" my father too. Not literally, of course, but as far as I was concerned he was dead to me. In doing this I shot myself in the heart. And everywhere I've went for years I searched for the love I never found from my father.
So where's the answer?
First, I need to acknowledge the fact that I had or have a father wound and need healing. As long as I deny this I can never be healed.
Second, I need to get in touch with my pain, express my deep anger and sob out my well of buried grief over the loss of the father's love I never had. Counseling with a male counselor, participating in a psychodrama (role play) group, prayer for inner healing, and having a couple of soul brothers with whom I can share openly and honestly has helped bring much healing.
I can only be loved—and healed—
to the degree that I am known.
Third, I need to continue to build healthy relationships with healthy men. No woman could ever affirm my masculinity or teach me to love myself as a man. Only men can meet my unmet father need.
As long as a man depends on a woman to make him feel good about himself, he is still emotionally tied to his mother's apron strings. All a woman can ever do is confirm what a man already feels about himself. That is, if he rejects himself as a man, he will likely be attracted to a rejecting woman. Or if he loves and accepts himself as a man, be will be attracted to a loving and accepting woman who will confirm what he feels about himself.
Fourth, to be affirmed by men—who become father substitutes—I need to find men I can trust and let them know me as I truly am—warts and all. Every one of us has a dark side. I need to take the risk and share my dark side to these men I trust—men who will know me fully and accept me as I am. It is through their love and acceptance that I learn to love and accept myself. But as long as I keep my dark side hidden, I will never feel fully loved. I can only be loved—and healed—to the degree that I am known. This may be scary but there is no other way.
Fifth, because I am a spiritual being, the bottom line to feeling fully loved is to feel God the Father's love at the very core of my being. Herein lies the deepest healing of the masculine soul. Thus I need to come to God through his Son, Jesus Christ, confess all my dark side to him, ask for his forgiveness, and accept him as Lord of my life.
I then can learn to feel closer to God and experience his love as I get closer to healthy, accepting men and feel their love. As God said, "If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us."2
NOTE: I need to realize that so many women also have a deep father wound. Only when we men are healed are we able to appropriately affirm women so they, too, can be healed of their father wound.
1. Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat, P. 65.
2. 1 John 4:12.
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