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  • Writer's pictureDana Arcuri

Healing Father Wounds

On Sunday, June 18, 2023, it's Father's Day in the USA. Today's blog post is dedicated to my beloved father. Although he had passed away in May 2019, his beautiful soul and unconditional love still lives on.

The information in this blog is a combination of excerpts from a few chapters in two different books of mine, plus new content. The main excerpt is from my book, Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith in the Dark. The ending of this post includes excerpts from my sixth book, Soul Rescue: How to Break Free from Narcissistic Abuse & Heal Trauma.

Facts About the Fatherless

The credible USA statistic about fatherless children makes it clear there are devastating effects for the long-term. This is not an updated representation of the present moment. My best guess is that the statistics have most likely tripled by 2023, if not more.

There are countless reasons why our father's end up missing from our lives. Your dad may have passed away during your early childhood or teen years. Your father may not have recognized you as his child, which is the case for some dead-beat dads.

Your father may have been physically present, but emotionally unavailable. Your dad could have been divorced from your mother. And the list goes on and on and on. Regardless of whether your dad was actively participating in your life, absent for most of your life, you are estranged from him, or some other reason, there is a strong chance you are struggling with a father wound.

The end result is that as an adult you may now be dealing with trust issues in your relationships with other people, you may have abandonment issues, you may have always felt as if you were not good enough, or you may have experienced various types of abuse in your family unit.

The picture below is my dad with me and my four older sisters in 1967. I am sitting on my dad's left side. I am the little girl with my mouth opened and who had super short hair. My long hair had been chopped off by my narcissistic mother who used these types of cruel tactics to hurt me. I share details about this in my book, Soul Rescue.

Healing Father Wounds

We don't want to go through the pain from our past to get the help we desperately need, but we must face and deal with the pain from our past in order to find the hope and healing we desperately want.” ~ John Finch, The Father Effect

From early on, my dad was absent from my life. At the age of two, my parents divorced. Except for visiting him a few weeks out of an entire year, we didn't see each other. Although, it may not have been intentional, he became a stranger. It left a deep hole in my heart. I desperately wanted my father's love and acceptance.

Communication with my dad was almost nonexistent. I frequently wrote to him and sincerely desired to have a close relationship with him. Months would go by without hearing from him. I couldn't help, but wonder, did I matter to him or was I easily forgotten?

To my surprise, on a crisp winter day a birthday card arrived for me. Filled with excitement that my dad remembered my birthday, I excitedly tore open the envelope. Carefully scanning the words on the card, my heart sank when I read, “To my lovely granddaughter.

While I may have been quite young, it didn't stop me from feeling hurt and confused. It was like reopening a festered wound. It stung badly! Completely crushed, I questioned, “Why would my father send me a card for a granddaughter when I'm his daughter?

Divorce rips families apart. It can scar children for life. Little girls need their daddies. When fathers are absent in their daughter's lives it can cause emotional insecurity. Often, this leads to girls growing up to desperately yearn for love, self-worth, and acceptance. There's an unquenchable longing, emptiness, and pain, which only our Heavenly Father can fill.

In my case, I lived over 30 years unaware of God being the source to fulfill my yearning. Without biblical knowledge, I sought people and things to fill my emptiness and pain. Looking for love in all the wrong places may sound cliché, but it's the truth. Typically, it only resulted in additional trauma.

A Divine Appointment

A divine appointment is a “meeting” which was inspired and led by God. Sometimes Christ plans divine appointments in which we can serve Him as we go about our daily business. The Lord arranges specific people to cross our paths at the perfect time and place for a perfect purpose. It could be to enlarge our territory, to minister to a hurting soul, or to bless someone. Or a stranger could be used by God to encourage us, inspire us, or to help us in some way. A divine appointment is never a coincidence, nor an accident. Instead, it is a glorious intervention.

In 2017, when I scrolled through Twitter, I noticed a tweet. It grabbed my attention because it involved father wounds. An author and filmmaker, John Finch, shared about his own father wound. Intrigued to learn more, I started following him on Twitter and Facebook.

Soon, we became friends on social media. We had a lot in common: We were both authors, Christians, and we suffered a father wound.

In the summer 2017, I had the honor of being invited to John's book launch team for The Father Effect. One perk included getting a free copy to read before the actual book release. From the first chapter, I was glued to his story. It shared John's personal journey of growing up without his dad and how it negatively influenced every facet of his life.

As I read the story about his dad being emotionally absent, I related to the negative feelings of having a distant dad. Rejection. Unworthiness. Unlovable. Turning page after page, tears streamed down my face. I was blown away that someone understood my painful father wound. For the first time, I didn't feel so alone or empty. John's captivating message touched my heart and soul.

The Father Effect helped me view my situation in a new perspective. I realized that my dad grew up with a father wound. His dad did, too. It may go far back to generations from long ago. How can father's love their children if their own dads didn't openly express love to them? Most fathers have a mindset dictated by our society that they're a "good" dad if they work, provide for their family, and keep a roof over their heads. The average man doesn't know their children, young and old, don't really need money and gifts. Instead, what they yearn for is their dad's love, attention, and a father who actively participates in their lives.

Children need their daddies. They need their father's undivided attention, affection, and adoration. After 50+ years, this had been missing in my life. It left a father wound. It hurt badly. I wasn't even aware of how it became toxic to me and everyone around me.

Through the years, it had a way of making me feel unworthy, unacceptable, and never enough. If my own flesh and blood couldn't spend quality time with me or participate in my life, was I of no value? These are the hard questions we ask ourselves when our dads are missing from our lives; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

On rare occasions when my dad visited me or contacted me, which wasn't often, it was as if this carefully placed bandage over my heart was viciously ripped off. Blood oozed everywhere. Underneath lay a festering wound. It couldn't be healed if it were not addressed or brought to light.

Suddenly, I'm that frightened little girl who's torn, confused, and broken. She wants to run and hide. My father wound haunted me. It became the most traumatic experience in my life. Despite what my mind said (move on), living without my dad wrecked me. Time does not heal all wounds.

Year after year, my father wound snowballed out of control. I became a very angry, bitter person. It impacted every single relationship, including with my husband and kids. Sometimes, I lashed out at them during moments of distress.

Hurting people can hurt other people. I'm not making excuses. Rather, I'm stating it like it is. When people hurt inside, they can find unhealthy ways to cope. While some people may turn to drugs or alcohol to dull the pain, my vice was a hardened heart. It created a wall to divide myself further from those who did care about me.

God Restores Broken Wounds

The reason God used a divine intervention for John Finch to cross my path was for five purposes. First, the Lord used John's book to minister to me. Second, God used John's father wound to soften my heart for my own dad. Third, Christ had plans to nudge me outside my comfort zone to visit my dad. Fourth, the most important factor was to restore my relationship with my father. Fifth, by choosing to forgive my dad, I was the one set free.

After reading The Father Effect, I was glad that God transformed John and led him to forgive his father. The powerful message in the book was one of hope, healing, and forgiveness. No doubt, it gave me a lot to think about.

At the forefront of my mind was that I had to take responsibility for my own behaviors and actions. I realized that someday, I would come face to face with Christ. Everything I've done in my life would be judged by God. How could I expect to receive forgiveness if I refused to forgive my dad for not being the father I needed?

This burdened me. It struck me like a bolt of lightning. Perhaps, it was my wakeup call to make necessary changes? For me to reexamine myself, my past, and my future. To come to terms with the fact that I hadn't worked through my unforgiveness towards my dad.

In November 2017, I received a phone call that threw me into a tizzy. My sister invited me to join her and our three other siblings on a getaway. They planned to celebrate Christmas early with our dad who lived out of state. A festive holiday celebration to spend quality time together.

The sheer idea of it sent my heart racing! Stubbornly, I told her that I wouldn't join them. Digging in my heels, I remained resistant. Still hurting with a father wound, I had a dozen legitimate reasons to not see my dad.

Out of nowhere something strange happened. Everything to do with forgiveness and humility crossed my path. I kid you not, it seemed like all of the songs on the radio were about healing broken relationships or humbling oneself. I'd scroll through Facebook and trip upon a post about forgiving one another. Or I'd watch a movie about people reconciling their relationship.

Unexpectedly, God started softening my heart. He even went as far as using red cardinals. A savvy way to grab my attention. A sign of God's love. The rich red shade of a cardinal is a true demonstration of God's love for us when Jesus sacrificed His life to give us life. The red cardinal symbolizes the red blood of Jesus on the cross.

Let's just say, the Messiah sure had a unique way to get to me. He met me smack center in my mess. Oh boy, did He get to me! It became a wrestling match. One by one, He gently broke through my stubbornness. Those rigid walls of anger and bitterness were shattered. They were replaced with empathy, compassion, and love for my dad. Who can do that, but our Savior?

This transformation was remarkable. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt, I needed to visit my father. In December 2017, my four siblings and I headed up north for a Christmas gathering with our dad. Prior to our arrival, I had a lot of trepidation. My father battled advanced Alzheimer's. There was a chance he wouldn't remember me. What if our visit was a big disappointment? What if he had negative feelings towards me, especially since I hadn't contacted him for over six months? Once we arrived and unpacked our belongings at the hotel, we visited our dad. My heart raced with nervous energy! Silently, I prayed, "Lord, I know that I'm doing the right thing. No matter what happens, good or bad, may it bring You glory."

As my siblings and I waited for our dad to open his door, I stood behind them. Part of me was scared of the unknown. This walk of faith truly tested me. I felt strong about doing the right thing, but it didn't mean it was easy. Actually, it was the most difficult decision I've made in my entire life. To lay down my will, my unforgiveness, and my years of hurt. To release my father wound to Christ.

When my dad opened his door, he welcomed us to come inside. Then he took time to give warm hugs. As he approached me, his voice was filled with joy. He hugged and kissed me, saying, "Dana, I'm tickled pink that you're here!"

For the next two days, I walked on cloud nine. My father was a changed man. His usual business demeanor was gone. He was gentle, kind, attentive, and affectionate. Repeatedly, he'd stop what he was doing, wrap me in his arms, and tell me how much he loved me. It was an awesome answer to prayer!

During dinner, before we enjoyed our pizza and salad, my dad said grace with an added prayer. He thanked each of my sisters and I for taking time from our hectic schedules to spend with him. Openly, he said that he was sorry for being a selfish man when he was younger. He said that he wished things could have been different when we were younger. He showed genuine remorse for not being the father we needed. With heads bowed in prayer, he thanked God for our family, for restoration, and for Jesus being the center of our lives. His beautiful prayer touched my heart. It was authentic and meaningful. Most of all, those were the words I waited a lifetime to hear. To know that he was sorry for not always being there for me, but he was grateful for our present moment.

As with most weekend getaways, it was filled with a whirlwind of activities. On Saturday, we went to a Christmas musical, which was wonderful. Afterwards, we ate dinner together and enjoyed going down memory lane chatting about our fond memories. In a blink of an eye, it was time to say goodbye to our dad before us girls drove back home. Saying goodbye has never been easy for me. It brings a flood of emotions. Like each time I visited my dad as a child or teen and had to leave. I dreaded it. The hardest part is knowing that this time could very well be the last time I see my father. He's in his eighties and not in good health. Having aging and sick parents has become a challenging part of my season. It's painful, yet I try to treasure each moment together.

As my father and I hugged to say goodbye, I told him how much I loved him. With tears in my eyes, I said it was great to see him and I would miss him. Suddenly, I felt like that little girl standing in the airport getting ready to board the plane. I dreaded leaving my father. I hated saying goodbye. There was a lump in my throat. Quietly, I told myself to be brave. To be grateful for the time we shared together. Overall, the choice to reconcile with my dad has been the absolute best decision of my life. It's changed me. It's a special gift. It's healed me. It's filled me with peace. Hope prevails!

Perhaps, you've only known a dad's hands that harmed you or his words that cursed you? Or he was emotionally distant to you? Whatever shape the father wound marred into your heart, understand that your pain is valid. No matter how great or small, a father wound is one that desperately needs healed. If you have a deep father wound, I pray for you to release it to God. Give Him your hurt, frustration, and disappointment. It may or may not mean that you restore your relationship with your dad. Each person's situation is different. Yet you can take a closer look at how broken relationships impact your overall wellness. You can stop the cycle of dysfunctional relationships. You can make positive changes. You can decide to be free from your painful wounds. Today, may you bravely choose healing and freedom in Christ.

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” Psalm 147:3 (AMP)

Hidden Blessings in Disguise

Sometimes, along our spiritual journey we can experience hidden blessings in disguise. In March 2019, one morning I awoke with my dad on my mind. It was a heavy feeling, which I couldn’t shake. Something deep within my spirit whispered, “You need to call dad. Something is wrong.

Through the years, from my teens to my adulthood, I’ve had an ‘inner knowing.’ It is when you know about a specific situation without having to be told. Nobody informed me about my father, nor his medical status. I didn’t receive any updates or information from my siblings.

During this time, I had been no contact with my entire family of origin. Due to my dad’s advanced Alzheimer’s, his severe cognitive impairment, and my sisters who triangulated my relationship with my dad, I had stopped contact with him.

Truly, it had nothing to do with my dad. More so, when you go no contact with one relative, you can end up no contact with other relatives, especially if there’s ongoing manipulation from the narcissist and flying monkeys.

The reality was that even if I had called my father, visited him out of state, or sent him cards, there was a strong chance he wouldn’t know it’s me. Or my siblings would interfere by stealing my cards or letters that I had sent to my dad and dispose of them without him knowing.

In June 2018, when I drove out of state to visit my father, he didn’t recognize me or my husband. It wasn’t until I gave my dad gifts when he realized who I was. As he unwrapped and admired a framed photograph of him and I, suddenly he had a moment of lucidity. Excitedly, he exclaimed, “Dana! It’s you! You are here. I’m so happy to see you!

Instantly, my dad wrapped his arms around me to give me a warm hug. It was a memorable moment that’s forever ingrained in my mind. This memory of my dad fills me peace, especially after what transpired on the morning of March 13, 2019.

On that morning, intuition prompted me to contact the residential care facility where my dad lived. He had been transitioned into hospice care. Feeling unsettled by my inner knowing, I picked up the phone, dialed the number, and gave the receptionist my dad’s name for who I wished to speak to. Nervously, she stuttered, “Ummm…let me get the supervisor.

Then she placed me on hold. My heart raced with uncertainty! I silently prayed, “Please let my father be fine.

When the supervisor greeted me on the phone, I inquired about my dad. In a detached tone of voice, she confided, “Your father passed away on March 11, 2019.”

As tears poured down my face, I asked, “Was he in physical pain? What are his funeral arrangements?

Hesitating, the supervisor deflected, “I don’t know your father’s funeral arrangements. When he passed away, he wasn’t in physical pain. We sedated him with medications."

She could deny that she was unaware of my dad’s funeral arrangements, but I knew for a fact that nursing homes have on file specific funeral arrangements. Following this phone call, my husband contacted several residential care facilities to inquire about their protocols. Each facility confirmed they must have on file the patient’s arrangements for death, funerals, and/or memorial arrangements.

I had no doubt that my sisters were behind this illicit scheme to prevent me from knowing facts pertaining to my dad being on his deathbed (they never informed me), my dad passing away (they intentionally withheld vital information), his memorial and/or funeral arrangements (not a single relative informed me), and withholding legal information about my dad, including me being his beneficiary in his trust fund (they didn’t inform me for close to two years.)

My sisters repeatedly created discord between my father and me. They would sneak behind my back and purposely manipulate whatever they could control. They created smear campaigns against me on Facebook YouTube and Twitter.

They spent years harassing me. They manipulated me, spied on my website, and social media accounts, oftentimes writing cruel remarks. They tried to destroy me, my reputation, and my writing career. And they call themselves ‘good Christians.’

To add to my turmoil, my siblings abused whatever power they had, especially with my father’s estate, his trust fund, and his medical care. This was another slap in the face to me. It was their way to punish me for speaking the truth about my psychologically abusive birth family.

Following the painful news of my dad passing away without my being informed, I deeply grieved. I cried a river. I mourned for what my siblings stole from me; the chance to say goodbye to my dad. I lamented for the father I never had; my mother and siblings spent a lifetime triangulating my relationship with him.

I cried for my inner child who had spent five decades trying to heal painful father wounds. In the midst of my loss and grief, I felt relieved that I had visited my dad in June 2018.

On that visit, my father shared personal stories with me. To my surprise, I had never heard about them prior to this. He discussed how he loved writing poetry as a teenager, which I didn’t know.

He shared his war stories and the trauma he experienced in the military. He even talked about his own father wound and how his dad had a father wound.

On that meaningful visit with my dad, there were times when he’d forget who I was, and he didn’t recognize me, nor did he recognize my husband. My father graciously said, “I apologize, but I don’t know who you are, but I appreciate you spending time with me.

On the last day when my husband and I were saying goodbye to my dad, he reverted back to a childhood state. Filled with fear, he trembled, “I’m scared. I don’t know where my room is. What if I get lost? What if I cannot find my way back?

Calmly, I comforted him. I hugged him and assured him, “You are safe. The staff who works here will help you find your room. Everything will be okay. I love you, dad. I’m going to miss you.”

For one final time, I embraced my father in my arms. Choked up, it was hard to talk. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. On that summer afternoon when I said goodbye to my dad, my inner knowing was certain that this was the last time to see him alive. My gut instinct strongly sensed it.

I spent a long drive home reflecting on gratitude. I was grateful to have the opportunity to spend such a special weekend him. I will treasure it forever. As peace washed over me, I chose to focus on the good.

My dad loved me and I loved him. My father wound had fully healed. Nobody could steal this me. Not even my toxic siblings who despised me.

Angels Unaware

Fast forward to June 2019, one month after my dad passed away. On a sunny afternoon, my husband and I were strolling on a path in the park. Unexpectedly, I noticed a small rainbow in the sky. It looked more like a prism with gorgeous shades of red, orange, green, blue, and yellow. What mystified me was that it wasn’t raining. The weather was perfect.

Intrigued by the colorful prism, I snapped a few pictures of it. Later on, I shared the photographs on Twitter. Instantly, two of my friends sent me private messages. They both confirmed there was an angel next to the rainbow in the sky.

When I took a closer glimpse at my pictures, I could see an angel. My two friends said they believed this was my dad’s soul in an angelic form. They believed he was watching over me. One of my friends who’s an empath shared, “I sense your father has sent you a message. He said that he loves you and he’s proud of you.

This incredible experience was touching and emotional for me. At once, tears slipped down my face. I considered it a beautiful blessing in disguise. I may not have been able to say a final goodbye to my father, but he blessed me by this divine angelic sign.

I felt the presence of a God upon me. An unconditional love and light surrounded me. It’s hard to articulate a spiritual experience. Those of you who’ve also had angelic encounters or divine signs, you know what I’m talking about. It is super miraculous.

There is something so much bigger than us. We may not always visually see it with our eyes. Yet energetically and on another dimensions, there’s a Higher Power on a spiritual realm.

Angels are fascinating spiritual beings. They not only serve a role as special messengers, but they are also warriors on behalf of us to protect us. I have experienced many angelic encounters in my lifetime.

See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and to lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you.” (Exodus 23:20 NLT)

My spiritual awakening prompted me to listen to the soft voice within me. To trust myself and my gut instincts. To know my intuition will never lead me astray. A Higher Source has my best interests at heart.

Fast forward to 2023 when I had a powerful energy healing session in which my dad's spirit came through. His good sense of humor cheered me up! What fascinated me was the divine signs that he revealed to me and the energy healing practitioner. On that evening, we asked my dad's spirit some important questions. My dad's soul gave us clarity. He solved the mystery of many situations that had happened secretly amongst my sisters and stepsisters. The one word he stated about my sisters is "corruption." They may think they tricked me, but I know what they did. I know the truth. I can rest with the knowledge that God sees and knows everything. In time, I have no doubt that my siblings will all reap what they have sown. In the meantime, I am the one who has a clear conscious. My soul is well.

I may not know you or what you have experienced with your father. Perhaps, your dad was not a part of your life? Or he was physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually abusive towards you, your mother, and/or your siblings?

I know how hard it is to have a father wound. I know the pain, the tears, and the shame of having an absent dad. As you can see from my blog, healing my father wound has taken me over 50 years to do so. It was long, difficult, stressful, and it had filled me with anguish. On a brighter note, I am now in a very good place in my life. I have done the grief and trauma work. I am happy, at peace, and excited for what's ahead of me.

Today, I pray for you to seek emotional support. That you may have someone trustworthy to talk to about your father wound or whatever you had been through. To unpack your traumatic events with a trauma-informed mental health professional or a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, such as myself or someone else.

May you find the courage to be the person who breaks the cycle. If you were judged, choose understanding. If you were rejected, choose acceptance. If you were shamed, choose compassion.

Be the person you needed when you were hurting, not the person who hurt you. Vow to be better than what broke you - to heal instead of becoming bitter so you can act from your heart, not your pain.

If you are interested in checking out any of the books listed above, here are the links on Amazon. The Father Effect by John Finch

Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith in the Dark by Dana Arcuri

Soul Rescue: How to Break Free from Narcissistic Abuse & Heal Trauma by Dana Arcuri

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