If the thought of Father's Day brings a sting to your heart, you are not alone.

As I was interviewing women while writing my book, When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, I discovered that the "Daddy wound" is very prevalent among women. Little girls who experienced abandonment, rejection, abuse or indifference from their fathers can tend to carry that pain with them throughout their lives.

If  you are one who has never experienced the love of a father, or has been disappointed through unmet expectations or even hurt deeply by your father, you don't have to remain "stuck" in that place of heartache from year to year. You can free your heart from unmet expectations, pain and regret, as Stephanie, and countless other women have done.  

Stephanie's father left her mother and abandoned the family when she was about five years old. Then after he remarried and became a step-parent to his second wife's children, Stephanie’s father started arranging for her and her sister to have weekend visits with him.

“While growing up, it was a rough relationship," Stephanie said. "I was mad at him, and he constantly put both my sister and me second to his new wife and children. From what I can remember, our conversations and visits were always hostile. I was very angry at him. As I became an adult I would get off the phone with him and cry or be really upset. I let myself be hurt by his empty promises to see me more or call more often to stay in touch."

But Stephanie had to free her heart from unmet expectations and resentment that was keeping her from moving forward in life.  Today she knows joy and peace when it comes to her dad because she took a journey of forgiveness that you can take, too.

1. Forgive your father for the ways he has hurt you or not measured up. 

We all have expectations of what we wanted from our dads. And when we realize they are human, and therefore sinners, just like us, we can extend grace for the ways they've fallen short, just has God has extended it toward us. Stephanie says: "It wasn't until I became a Christian that I realized I needed to forgive my dad. I wrote him a letter and said I was finally putting all this behind me. I forgave him for walking out on our family and told him I would like to have a closer relationship with him. He called and said he was shocked that I had held on to the pain of the divorce for so long. He thought I had let that go a long time ago. I was totally shocked to hear him say that! Apparently he hadn't noticed my anger through the years, or hadn't given it that much thought." It was then that Stephanie realized her Dad might never respond to her the way she had hoped. It was then she had to take the second step of forgiving her dad.

2. Face the fact that he may never become the dad you had hoped for.  

Stephanie said her dad continues to hurt her in ways he probably doesn't even realize. "He still makes the same empty promises and says hurtful things, but ever since I've forgiven him, God has given me peace." As Stephanie learned, when you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean your relationship with that person will be fully restored. It just means that you will have peace for having extended forgiveness and you will be able to move forward with life.  

"I was hoping for a healed relationship, but that hasn't happened, and it doesn't affect me as much as it used to," she said. "It still hurts, but I'm able to let it go and walk away calm. I'm at as much peace as one can be with the fact that I will always come as an afterthought with my dad."