When Kendall was 8 years old, her father showed up to her private elementary school and said to the teacher, "I'm here to pick up my daughter." As Kendall naturally began gathering her belongings, she noticed that her classmate was doing the same.
"I saw his girlfriend's daughter gather her things," Kendall remembers. "[My father] told her to come on and they left the classroom."
Kendall had been left behind. That unforgettable act brought a wave of emotions she can clearly recall now so many years later. "I felt so small. I felt lonely, I felt embarrassed, I felt replaced," Kendall says in the above video. "It made me feel 'less than.'"
As an adult, Kendall still can't let go of those powerful feelings. "I believe I have a fear of being abandoned. I feel like even when people are nice to me, it's not really how they really feel," Kendall says as her voice cracks and eyes well up. "I'm always waiting for the way they really feel to come out and for them to decide they don't want to have anything to do with me."
Daddyless daughters like Kendall often struggle with a similar fear of abandonment, says relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant. While some daddyless daughters become promiscuous to try to fill the void left by their absent fathers, others build up walls to prevent anyone else from getting too close and hurting them. Kendall says she did the latter.
"I have walls up the size of Fort Knox that I would really like to work to try to get down, but I just have huge trust issues," she tells Iyanla.
As a result of her father's behavior, Kendall says she has avoided relationships and developed a strong sense of unworthiness. "The horrible story that I tell myself when no one else is around is that I can't be loved," she admits, with guidance from Iyanla.
"That is the 8-year-old's story that you are now choosing to live," Iyanla says gently. "Do you understand that at this point, it's a choice? So why would you choose to believe that you are unlovable as opposed to opening yourself to experience love?"
"It's easier not to," Kendall answers.