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Hi I'm Bernadette

Here’s the cliffnotes…

I am a former vegan Caterer turned Relationship Engagement Strategist. I did not meet my father until I was a freshman in college. As a result of our lack of relationship, I believed I needed to bend over backwards to prove my worth in mediocre relationships. I thought those relationships would show me the love I was missing from my father. Spoiler alert: they didn’t. A coming to Jesus moment on my birthday revealed that if I was the common denominator in these mediocre relationships, the love I so desperately wanted needed to come from me first. I needed to change. And change I did. What I learned in that season has culminated into what I call the HEAL framework.

The full story…

I was born in Boston and raised in Brooklyn. I’m a Brooklyn girl through and through. I spent some time living with my extended family. There, I got a glimpse into what having a father figure in the home was like with the presence of my grandfather, who I affectionately call “crampa”. I couldn’t pronounce my g’s when I was little so that’s what I called him and it stuck.

Most of my childhood and young adult life was spent, just my mom and I. I didn’t know what my father looked like and our relationship was basically non-existent. We spoke maybe twice a year, if that much. I would always daydream about what my father looked like and the type of relationship that I could have with him. It was usually a mash-up of the characters Uncle Phil, Heathcliff Huxtable and Carl Winslow. I didn’t officially meet my father until I was 18.

The simple truth is that my father didn’t choose me. Up until recent years, I believed that meant that I was unlovable and that there was something wrong with me. I didn’t realize that holding those beliefs about myself affected every decision that I made. I made it my business in every relationship to prove my worth by bending over backwards to do whatever was necessary to keep a man, completely neglecting my own feelings in the process.

Relationally, I’ve had two pivotal points in my life; one that held me back and one that set me free.

The pivot point that held me back was my first heartbreak. Experiencing that my freshman year of college was the closest I ever came to the pain of not being chosen by my father. I was completely shattered by the loss. Thinking back on my childhood, I spent years stamping down my feelings of not being “chosen” and masked it with my attempts to be the perfect child. I had never really grieved my father’s absence. That heartbreak was so devastating that I decided it was the first and last time I ever wanted to experience it. My solution was to never be vulnerable in a relationship again.

For 15 years, I chose being mildly detached in relationships I had no business being in. Why? Because I believed if I risked exposing myself to the kind of love I truly desired and it didn’t work out, I would not be able to recover from the loss. I decided it was better to be in a mediocre relationship that would inevitably end and be prepared for that loss than to be in a healthy loving relationship with my equal and not know the outcome. Knowing my relationships were doomed to fail, I still bent over backwards to prove my worth.

The pivot point that set me free happened after my last failed relationship. No surprise there! I had finally become sick and tired of not finding what I really wanted in a relationship. After my come-to-Jesus moment, I discovered that because I was the common denominator in all of my failed relationships, the answer to why my relationships didn’t work needed to start with me. I decided at that moment that I was going to figure out why I chose to be in mediocre relationships that didn’t fulfill me. It took some real introspection, grace, forgiveness, wrestling with myself and tons of research to get to the bottom of it, but I did. The quality of my relationships has changed drastically because I chose to finally be intentional about my healing.

I chronicled my journey. In doing so, I discovered a lot about myself and about the commonalities amongst women with fractured father relationships. It turns out that a lot of the decisions we make are in response to our feelings of loss about our father’s absence. Even the decisions we don’t think are related. I know that if I had known then what I know now, I would have made better decisions at every stage of my development. So now, through the HEAL framework, I teach women with fractured father relationships how to step out from behind their coping and defense mechanisms masquerading as their personality and start accessing their authenticity so that they can begin to experience the amazing relationships they deserve.