Natalie Demarko

How did you get connected with The Fatherless Daughter Project?

I’m a firm believer things happen for a reason, and my connection with the Fatherless Daughter Project is no different. The day I was introduced to Denna Babul and TFDP, I knew God was telling me something.

The summer between my two years of graduate school at Ball State University I interned for Jon Babul, Denna Babul’s husband. Staying in contact with Jon the year following, he referred me to work with Denna upon my graduation. TFDP was starting to grow and Denna was looking for assistance in furthering the project’s outreach and development. I now work as the Communications Director.

Can you tell us in a few sentences about your personal story of father loss?

My parents were married until I was 18-years-old, but during that time my dad was never really present. He was the definition of an emotionally absent father, and I truly never had any type of father-daughter bond or relationship with the man.

As a young girl, I was always afraid of him and never really understood why. Throughout my childhood, he wasn’t around a lot because of various jobs he took in other states, but my parents stayed married. “They” (and I use that term loosely, because it was primarily my mom who put forth the effort) tried to make things work, but his emotional abuse, pathological lies, alcoholism, addiction and eventual infidelity sadly led to our family unraveling.

On top of it all, I was the one who found out my dad was cheating on my mom, and I was the one who had to tell her. My dad now lives with the mistress who contacted me and revealed his secret life and numerous infidelities.

Today, my relationship with my dad is no different than it was when I was a child-nonexistent. However, on December 31, 2015, I did decide to finally call him after five years and have a conversation with him. Why would I want to talk to a man that caused so much pain? I found the answer through counseling and prayer: because forgiveness is not about the other person, it’s about you. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to have a relationship with my dad, but what I do know for sure is that I have taken a meaningful step towards true forgiveness.

What has been the biggest challenge being fatherless?

The biggest challenge for me was coming to realization of how truly angry and upset I was. On my dad’s online dating profiles, he listed he had no kids. Having a dad choosing to live life disowning us felt like the ultimate abandonment. To this very day, I still struggle trying to get over the fact that my dad denied my existence to get women.

After my parents’ divorced, I really thought I had washed my hands of everything that happened. Man, was I wrong. It wasn’t until I was introduced to TFDP I recognized I had this innate sadness and ache that controlled and consumed my entire being. It’s funny because most people know me as hardworking, motivational, optimistic, and overly enthusiastic, but in reality there was always a part of me that was suffering. TFDP helped me see this and begin my fatherless to forgiveness to fearless journey.

What has helped you to survive?

To be honest, as a fatherless daughter I tend to go to the extremes. Ha. At a young age, I became a workaholic to try and get ahead in every area of my life except my own emotional growth. I turned to running and writing as therapy, and they worked for a while and to an extent they still do.

However, it’s really been in the last year that counseling and establishing a strong and meaningful relationship with God that have changed my life. TFDP book encourages counseling to help start shredding your grief and anger. With that and God’s unconditional love, I’ve been able to slowly let go, seek forgiveness, and reclaim an inner peace.

Is there a special person(s) in your life that has helped you find healing?

Natalie and Family

My aunt and uncle have always treated me as their own. My aunt is always there to talk me through things and to help me grow. My uncle became the father I never had and gave me the love I always needed.

My best friend has grown up with me through everything. Fourteen years later, we are still together and in the best place we’ve ever been. We both are fatherless, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her.

My big brother is literally my other half. Although we’ve had our differences, he’s protected me and provided balance. He’s taught me that in life you have to remember to be kind, let go, and live freely.

And last but certainly not least, words can not even express my gratitude and love for my mom. The most selfless woman I know, she’s given everything to me and my brother. Not only has she gone to the end of the earth to support us, but she’s also shown me what it means to be a strong and independent woman. I owe everything to her.

Where do you shine?

God blessed me with a selfless and loving heart and I shine the brightest through it. I am a burning fire of optimism. By working and living to assist, inspire, and unite others, my light is undeniably contagious.

What would you tell your younger self?

You might not understand things now, but you will create purpose out of your pain. Wonderful change can come from hurt and seek to understand it through God. Reclaim your life. The answers are in you.

Understand if and when you want to reconcile your relationship with your dad, it is a personal choice and one that is part of your own growth and self-awareness.

“When you feel like drowning in life, don’t worry because your Lifeguard walks on water.”

“God’s timing, not yours.”

If you could have a theme song, what would it be?

Happy Girl by Martina McBride

How do you hope to make a difference in the world?

“It only takes one minute to change the trajectory of a life.”

I want to touch the life of every single person I meet. Whether it’s touching their heart, moving their soul, or challenging their mind, I want to have an electrifying and passionate effect on people in order to help them reach their ultimate potential in any and all aspects of their life.

Everyone needs someone to believe in them. Let me be your believer.

Fill in the blank: “The most amazing thing about my life is _______________.”

That God is in it, and if He is for me than no one can be against me. He is working in my life every day, and for that I am extremely grateful.

I hope my story helps another daughter in her own fatherless to forgiveness to fearless journey.

Thanks, Natalie. We are stronger with you in our sisterhood!


You are also welcome to join Natalie, Denna, and Karin at the Fatherless Daughter Project Book Signing!


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