My father told me he loved me four times in my life. Only one of those four was "out of the blue"; the other times surrounded funerals of family members.
On four unique days in my life, I wasn't seeking the love and approval of a male. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Daddy's Princess. After puberty I sought whatever male would smile at me and pretend to care for me. My need for some form of male acceptance led me to make stupid decisions in my life, and for a few years it seemed that those stupid decisions would compound on themselves.
I got lucky. I always had a voice in my head reminding me that I was never gonna find what I was looking for. Granted, that voice got ignored a lot, but it never shut up.
Over the years, I ended up in a series of unhealthy relationships. At times, those relationships became abusive. When they weren't abusive, I was frequently being taken advantage of and taken for granted.
My story is not like women who eventually end up beaten to death or take their own life. In the end, I never received the love and acceptance I wanted from my dad. What I did find was that my own self-worth was gonna have to be enough in place of a void left by a father that couldn't -- or simply didn't -- open his heart to his only child.
There are times when I feel the loss of a stable foundation of love from a dad, but for the most part I've learned to rely on myself. The anger is gone, as it is pointless to carry around, and as I lost him to cancer. It's hard to be angry at someone that can't defend themselves and can't make amends.
And there are those four days I have to cherish. It has to be enough... so it is.