Needing a father figure in my life was always a problem that weighed heavy on my heart and mind while I was growing up.
I didn't understand why I couldn't have the perfect life, with the perfect mother-father-daughter family.
At a young age, my mother and I left my biological father and came back to her hometown to be close to family and friends.
Although I wasn't with my father, we had brief phone conversations here and there over the years, filled with empty promises of meeting and having a relationship.
I always had hope.
My mother and I settled down, had a place to ourselves and spent the next few years just the two of us. From what I remember, it was some of the best years of our relationship together.
I didn't really have thoughts and feelings about my father or having a father in general. The only time I really thought about it was when he would call.
My mother then began dating again, and before I knew it, I had a step-father in my life. Although I was happy to feel like a "real" family, I started thinking more and more about my biological father.
This is where things got bad for me, and as I got into my teenage years, it only got worse.
I think when people hear the words "daddy issues," they automatically think of someone who becomes promiscuous and lusts after older men, trying to fill a void in her life.
I always used to hear "she must have daddy issues" associated with girls who were like that.
For me, this was not the case.
I became angry, rude and uncontrollably emotional. I fought with my parents a lot, and at one point, even became rude and emotionally abusive to the friends and family I loved.
I had a lot of questions didn't have answers. It frustrated me beyond belief.
I had a lot of family who went through similar situations, but their advice didn't help me. I didn't want to listen.
I couldn't be happy for myself and for what I had because I was too busy focusing and harping on what I didn't have. I always thought there was something better on the other side.
I worried that when I was older, I wouldn't find love or allow someone to love me all because of the lack of love I felt from my biological father.
I spent a good 14 years with my stepfather until two years ago.
Two years ago, everything fell apart.
My stepfather and mother ended their relationship, and once again, I found myself in a world rocked with chaos, emotions and lacking a father figure.
I didn't understand why this had to happen to me ... again.
I had intense feelings of regret and was constantly worried that I didn't appreciate my stepfather enough for everything he did for me.
I was resentful toward my mother for a very long time, and when my relationship with my stepfather started to fizzle out, I became resentful toward him too.
I started resenting people who had the so-called "perfect family" I always longed for.
I became uncontrollable, and it wasn't pretty -- not to mention fair to myself and others.
I was angry, and as a result, began partying too much and suffering from frequent emotional breakdowns.
After some much-needed advice from family, I decided to get some counseling to try and work through the problems I was facing.
After finishing my counseling session, I realized what I needed to get on the right track was right in front of me all along.
Although I only hear from my step-father every once in awhile, he was a great guy and a big part of my life for 14 years. Although I rarely called him dad, he was the best father figure I could've asked for.
I am thankful for him.
As for my biological father, I hear from him from time to time, as well. Although I don’t remember a lot about him, I am told that he was a great person and that he loves me.
Despite the fact that I never had a lasting relationship with either of them, I still love them too.
It took a lot of time and (sometimes painful) energy to accept the fact that my life was never and would never be picturesque, but that's OK.
No family is as perfect as a movie would make it seem.
Every family has its flaws and strengths, and learning acceptance is a profound strength in and of itself.
Throughout my fight to accept the fact that my family would never be "the norm," I learned a lot about myself and life in general.
This is what I learned as I healed through my "daddy issues":
1. It's not a problem to go through life without a stable father figure.
Yes, I would've loved to have one, but if you spend your life wishing for something you don't have, you'll never learn to love and appreciate the things you do have.
2. You don't truly need one to be happy and successful.
Your happiness is determined by you and only you.
3. We waste precious time and tears crying over things we cannot change.
Embrace your truth, live your truth, love your truth, and know that your truth will always be different from someone else's.
4. We cannot keep blaming our problems on the absence of a father-figure.
The excuse can only be used for so long.
5. Our time and energy should be focused on the people we do have our lives.
Just because I lacked a father figure, doesn't mean I was lacking for anything else.
6. We need to appreciate the precious time we get to spend with our families.
No matter the size of the family, each family is unique and precious.
7. Our families make countless sacrifices for our happiness.
I am fortunate to have three strong, independent women -- my mother, my aunt and my grandmother -- in my life who raised me and shaped me to be the woman I am today. They sacrificed so much for me, and I plan on showing how grateful I am for the rest of my life.
8. We can't keep our guard up to people who are only trying to help.
I always had a wall up blocking people from getting to know the real me. My uncle, who was ever present and ever supportive, broke through those walls and helped me cope through all of life's struggles.