I needed my daddy, too - or my "dad" in my SoCal home. I mean I had him, my parents stayed married, but he started to sexually abuse me - and otherwise ignore, punish, and humiliate me - when I was real small. There was no chance of praise or positive reinforcement in my family, nor any chance of learning anything good from him.
I wish I had a man for a father. In the best light, my dad was sad and messed up. In the worst light he was a monster.
I wonder sometimes if I love him. I don't know. I don't know what that love would be like. Even though he is long dead - by his own hand, and without ever saying a word about what he did to me - I'm still afraid of him, and ashamed of what I did for him. When I dream about him I feel angry and sad and powerless and trapped.
Powerlessness is the worst. Back then, all I could do was freeze and disappear inside myself and take his abuse. There was no fighting back. It was like a bargain we had - he and my mom put me in the hospital for "brain treatments" (whatever that was) when I fought back when I was four. It could always happen again, that was made clear. Similar hospitalizations did happen again.
So yeah, I needed a dad. Sometimes I found one then, and sometimes I still do; in friends, in my partner, in strangers who I see doing kind and honorable things.
And, (-: sometimes I find a dad in myself. I guess he's the real one.
Thanks for posting this, and thanks to the men who so beautifully and powerfully shared.