Facebook share
LinkedIn share
Google plus share
Twitter plus share
Give Advice
Ask For Advice
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Loving An Abusive Parent

  1. #1
    Member From_Now_On's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    364

    Loving An Abusive Parent

    I am 32 years old, with 2 awesome children and a husband that, while definitely not perfect, treats me like a freaking queen. But my life was not always so full of love and kindness. My parents divorced when I was 2 or 3 and, for a large portion of my life, shared 50/50 custody. My mother constantly struggled financially, and eventually moved to a bigger city, leaving us behind with my dad. Some aspects of this were quite alright. My dad was a little more chill about certain things. My sister and I could bike around the neighborhood all summer, as long as we did our chores and were back before the street lights came on. My dad was a lot of fun, too. He helped teach me how to play guitar, and we would sing songs and play music like we were some warm and fuzzy movie family. My dad has a great sense of humor, too. He's honestly a lot of fun to be around, when he's "up." And he enjoys doing community service type work, being a good neighbor, etc.

    But

    My dad also has a darker side. A really, not great, downright scary side. And I know he can't help it. I know there is just something broken in his brain. I know this. But that doesn't change it. And he refuses to get help. His dark side yells and throws things. It takes your perfectly healthy pet dog out back and shoots it, because your mother and him are fighting over the responsibility of taking care of her. It picks you up and throws you across the room, chair and all, and chucks you against the wall -- because you were sitting on it sideways, and his mood didn't agree with that. His dark side gets drunk and ruins parties. It gets its ass beat by your teenage brother because, spoiler alert, you're not as strong as you used to be, old man.

    My step mom married my dad when I was still very young, they stayed together and had my brother 10 years after I was born. My sister is my fully biological sister, she is just shy of 2 years younger than me. My step mom didn't know how to handle my dad. She would laugh when he was cruel, or walk away. She was occasionally cruel herself, in her own way. Knocking me over with a door because she was jealous that my brother was running to hug me after getting off the bus, and not running to her. Stuff like that. I remember her telling me once to go into the garage and talk to my dad, or he might kill himself. I could go on, but, essentially what I am getting at is, it was a weird life. Definitely not the worst life ever lived, but weird, for sure.

    Anyway, I spent a lot of my preteen years trying to buffer all of my dad's anger. To keep it off of me as much as possible, but also absorbing it to be some weird kind of girl-knight in shining armor to protect my sister. This wasn't especially hard, for the longest time, because most of my dad's anger naturally fell on me. And not because I was a bad kid. I was an A student who loved school, never cursed, didn't kiss/mess around with boys or get in any kind of trouble. However, as my step mom would tell me, it was because of how much I looked like my mother that drove my dad crazy. It didn't help that my mom had gotten me into her favorite sport, as well, before moving. A sport my father refused to help me practice for or watch me play, so I eventually quit that as well. And dyed my hair, to look less like my mom. Nothing worked, though. I also naturally was a mommy's girl, and I missed her, so he would sit me at the table and force me to look at pictures he'd had some P.I. take of my mom, to prove she cheated on him. This is when I was in my pre-teens, remember, at this point he has been re-married to my step mom for several years and divorced from my mom for over a decade. So, yeah. It was bizarre. I tried to tell him I didn't care or want to see any of that kind of stuff, but it only made him angrier.

    So this kind of stuff goes on for years. Really fun highs, like family trips and throwing cool sleepovers, to super lows that eventually lead to my younger sister getting fed up with his tempers as well. For the longest time, he had my siblings convinced that his anger was my fault. I was a bad kid who instigated it. I truly, truly wasn't. But he would do things like read my private diaries that would mention normal kid things, like wanting to go to my friend's house rather than hang with the family, and he would show my younger siblings and have them draw/write mean pictures on the pages. Stuff like that. So they believed him and I didn't dispute it. I figured, if he is mad at me, at least he leaves them alone. But, one day, out of the blue, my dad comes swinging at me, and my sister jumps in and tells him to leave me alone. I'm not sure who was more shocked by this, him or me, but he turned all of his anger to her, in that moment, and quickly had her pinned against the wall. My sister, though, was NOT like me. She pulled her arm up and clocked him in the face. Which, honestly, was pretty epic. As he dropped her, she took her chance to run, we both ran together, I had no idea what to expect, because I had literally never hit my dad back. However, as we were running, my dad grabbed a kitchen knife from the block on the counter and came after us. So, yeah, we knew it was bad. We locked our bedroom door, and ran to our closet, which, by some miracle of God, (if you believe in that sort of thing,) had the knob on backwards so that you could lock yourself in from the inside. So, after he made it through the bedroom door, he tried to catch up with us in the closet. He banged and screamed, but was unsuccessful as my sister was curled up in my arms, sobbing, and I somehow managed to muster up courage to keep the tears in for her sake, be brave, and reason with him to leave, from behind the closet door. Eventually, because he was running late to church, he did leave. Him, my step mom, and my brother. When we were sure they were gone, we crept out of the closet, called my maternal grandparents, and were picked up and taken to their home before he was back from church. After that, we never moved back in with him. We still visited, after some time passed. But we switched to living with my mom, who had moved back from the big city not long before this incident, because of another incident that had happened shortly before this.

    I say all of this to say this: My dad has problems, obviously. I know that. I have kept a safe distance, but, for many years, I had him in my adult life to some capacity. I would visit, from time to time, and it was mostly good, because he would be in good moods for those visits, and I could leave if he wasn't. So this worked out well enough for me, until a few years ago, when another big episode happened that involved my sister and brother and step mom. At this point, I just realized that the toxicity he had was just never going away. And the longer we all left him in our lives, the more he would continue to infect it with drama and danger and it was just...draining. Plus I had two kids that I didn't want tangled up in all of it, by this point. And my husband was more than sick of the craziness and, being protective of me, wasn't really thrilled with being forced to act cordially and be around the guy at all. Which, honestly, I can't blame him for.

    Now here is the part that makes things the trickiest, for me, these days. My sister has a very, very weak spot for my father. My brother, unfortunately, has grown up to be very much like him. So, for me, my life has largely been by my sister's side, mostly. Wanting to protect her, the way a big sister does. And I have had to be very cold, at times, in my distancing from my father, and forcing her to stay away from him. When my brother got old enough for my dad's anger to be directed at him, and I had my own place, I offered my brother a place to stay or come to. But my brother only took this offer up from me once, and usually would argue that our dad wasn't all the bad, (between the all out brawls the two of them would have. *hard sigh*) So, keeping my kids apart from my dad's messes, and this weakness of my sister's, has pretty much been my biggest concern. For an example of what I mean about my sister, about 2 weeks after that kitchen knife incident, my dad called us and asked us to come home. I said no, but he got on the phone with my sister and did his manipulation magic on her, and before I knew it, my sister was pleading with me, telling me she wanted to go back. I refused to let her, and luckily, she wouldn't go without me. He has always been able to manipulate her with his sad stories and tragic apologies. And, for me, that just doesn't affect me the same way. I feel bad for him, and I know he IS sorry, in his own way. But he isn't going to change. And, if it was just me on the line here, fine. I could still visit him off and on. I know my limits, I don't let myself get sucked in. Etc. But my sister can't handle it. She lets herself get tangled in his dramas and moods. So, after the last big event that happened in our adult life (I've avoided explaining it just for length purposes) I decided we finally just needed to ex him out entirely. So I took lead and made that hard break. And my sister agreed, much easier than I expected, and made the final break as well. It has always been easier for her if I am the "bad guy," and I don't mind taking that role, if I have to.

    So that brings us to now. It is about 3 years since that last event. My step mom and father have been divorced for a couple years now. My brother lives with my step mom, but is still in contact, off and on, with my dad. My sister and I visit my step mom and brother, occasionally, but have remained removed from my dad. And now I'm getting older, and my kids are older, and the grief and loss for the good parts of having my dad around, and knowing how much fun he would have with my kids, it cuts me. I don't talk about it much with my husband, because he is more than happy to have my dad out of our lives. And I get it. And I am too. I know it is for the best. But you can't just unlove someone. You can't just turn off your feelings for your own dad. Especially when his faults are so much the result of factors he didn't have much control over, (mental illness.) And I wish I could see him, sometimes. I wish I could sit in our old living room, where he now lives alone, and play on the grand piano, or sit on the couch and sing Tracy Chapman while he plays guitar. I wish I could walk through our back woods and hear about his life and all the things I've missed. And tell him about my kids and how cool they are. If it was just me on the line, I could handle that. But I know, if I reconnect with him, on any level, it will bleed onto my sister. And she will feel obligated to re-engage with him. And she can't handle it. It will absorb her life and she won't be able to keep her boundaries. And she lives alone. And, as messed up as it sounds, I almost expect that someday my father will likely end his life. The thing I don't know, is if he will take anyone with him.

    So that's the meat of it all. And, I don't know, guys. I know this is a weird post. Like, what am I even asking here? Honestly? Just to be heard, I guess. Just to type this all out and get it out of me to people who don't know me and aren't personally affected. I just miss my dad, y'all. And I know he's unhealthy and I'm not saying I will go visit him. But I can still mourn his absence and wish life had dealt him a different, more manageable hand, that could have worked out for the better. I hope he finds happiness and doesn't feel alone. I hope he knows I don't hate him. That's all.

    <3 Getting Ready for a First Date

  2. #2
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared
    Age
    53
    Posts
    37,857
    Gender
    Female
    You sound very much like me in my 30’s. Trying to find a way to love my dad. What I came to realize over the decades was I was done with his crazy and abuse. Just done . Some part of me loves him but the majority is “ meh whatever. “ I see my dad once a year at Christmas and I call him now and again. Even though it is all his fault for not taking his meds and he was born with a chemical imbalance it doesn’t give him the right to abuse people. Period. It took me decades but I stopped feeling bad for him.

    I hope you come to peace soon. ❤️

  3. #3
    Member From_Now_On's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    364
    Thank you for your reply. <3 Your signature mentioned a son with Asperger's? My oldest daughter was diagnosed Autistic at about age 3, (she would probably be considered as having Asperger's, if that diagnosis was still given.) So I am definitely feeling a kinship with you. I think that is mostly why I posted. Just to get these words out of me and feel a connection. I think, in general, my attitude with my dad is much like what you described. Logically, and outwardly, I am right on that page with you. But, underneath that tough shell, there is definitely an ache in my heart for what is lost when you make that final break. Anyway, thank you for reading. And for your comment. <3

  4. #4
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared
    Age
    53
    Posts
    37,857
    Gender
    Female
    Originally Posted by From_Now_On
    Thank you for your reply. <3 Your signature mentioned a son with Asperger's? My oldest daughter was diagnosed Autistic at about age 3, (she would probably be considered as having Asperger's, if that diagnosis was still given.) So I am definitely feeling a kinship with you. I think that is mostly why I posted. Just to get these words out of me and feel a connection. I think, in general, my attitude with my dad is much like what you described. Logically, and outwardly, I am right on that page with you. But, underneath that tough shell, there is definitely an ache in my heart for what is lost when you make that final break. Anyway, thank you for reading. And for your comment. <3
    Yes, Aspergers as a diagnosis no longer exists, they are just Autistic. 😀

    I feel you on the sense of loss. The loss of a parent that was never a parent and the loss of childhood and innocence.

  5.  

  6. #5
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    22,961
    Gender
    Female
    My heart goes out to you and your sibs. You've recognized that some people are best loved from far away. As painful as that is, you have your own family to protect, and exposure to your Dad, even as an adult, has proven dangerous to all concerned.

    Have you ever worked with a counselor about any of this at any point? If not, there may be no time like the present. I realize that that sounds trite, but you are an extremely intelligent person, and you are likely to make very good use of such a resource. It's what you've deserved your whole life--someone who you can trust and confide in without feeling the responsibility of controlling a reaction.

    This doesn't diminish your trust in your husband or sibs or anyone else, but rather, it respects their roles in your life without burdening them and your own conscience about the stuff you want to express.

    It's a natural occurrence for abused children to still feel love for and connection with an abusive parent. That's not 'sick' or 'wrong'. It's just something that can feel burdensome even while it can be voiced and heard by someone who is trained to hear it.

    You mentioned a diary. Did your experiences with that cause you to give up journalling? I ask because you are a talented writer, but I can appreciate that some things don't feel safe to write.

    Head high, your feelings are valid, and you are smart enough to recognize the difference between emotional draws and actions. That's a rare and healthy skill.

  7. #6
    Gold Member Skeptic76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    California
    Age
    43
    Posts
    579
    Gender
    Male
    Wow...I could have kept reading this post for hours. When you said you left stuff out for brevity’s sake I was PISSED, lol. Your perspective and thoughtful treatment of some very real and very complex dynamics is expressed so well - like a novel!

    You haven’t asked for advice so anything I say is unsolicited and admittedly comes from a relatively unrefined man...if what I say isn’t helpful, is way off base or comes across as super basic it won’t hurt my feelings - my hope (and also my best guess...you don’t seem like a person who takes things very personal) is that I don’t hurt yours either. What I noticed in your post were the comments “I have had to be...forcing her to stay away from him” in regards to relatively recent interactions between your sister and father. Also “I decided we should...” in regards to what you believed to be best for yourself and also your sister in regards to the current relationship status with your father.

    To be very clear, your gut instinct and your conscious choice to protect your younger sister from your father’s episodes of blind rage when you were just small children reflect a degree of noble selflessness, loyalty, courage and honor which I aspire to today. You were so brave, and considering the polar opposite charisma and fun family times he also provided, it must have been an even more confusing/conflicted/complex situation for a child than it is now...and it’s still super fraught with a whole orchestral suite of emotion. Wow.

    What I wonder though, is how much you should be “forcing” or “deciding for” your adult sister. Certainly you still love her and still desire to protect her, but at what point would it be beneficial to let a grown woman make her own choices (as unwise as they may seem to you) and thereby learn her own lessons? Maybe it was simply word choice, and maybe it’s none of my dang business because you just needed to vent, not get some rando’s opinion...but other than your gift for word craft and storytelling- that’s what stood out when I read your post.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself here. Would love to read more of your posts.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Cloud Nine
    Posts
    39,021
    Gender
    Male
    Sorry to hear this. Excellent you have found your happiness with your own family. Try not to continue the role of family hero. That simply perpetuates the dynamic. You did the right thing distancing yourself.

    It's ok to hate an abuser. If you want you can think of it as hate the sin, not the sinner. It's also ok to recognize that he is your father and therefore part of who you are. Honor that part, but stop being a rescuer. It seems like you've come to terms for the most part with all of it and that is good.

    At some point you may need to recognize that not everyone has this hallmark type of childhood. When you realize that you survived an abusive father and a mother that did not protect you, you will realize your strength.
    Originally Posted by From_Now_On
    I am 32 years old, with 2 awesome children and a husband that, while definitely not perfect, treats me like a freaking queen.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    2,283
    I'm sorry for all the burdens and baggage you carry. I know your load is heavy. I carry them, too even though my stories are not the exact same as yours.

    I too have great memories of so many good times I've had with toxic people in my life whether family or friends. I would love nothing more than to revert to those good old days once more. I too know the good side of several past people in my life and I'd give anything to recapture and relive those happy, nostalgic memories.

    While I often times feel wistful as I remember the goodness in some people, in my mind, I splash cold water on my face to give myself a rude awakening. This rude wake up call reminds me of why the relationship was toxic, dysfunctional, extremely abnormal and why it failed. Then logic sets into one's brain. This logic is yet another reminder as to why you parted ways with the perpetrator. They are poison for you such as your parents; especially your father.

    Whenever you feel regrets and your mind wafts back to good times you and your siblings shared with your father, know that all those good times and the goodness you saw in your father were overshadowed by all of his cruelty to you, your siblings, cruelty to animals and making your and your siblings' lives a pure living hell. When you pound that message into your brain, you will be convinced that you made the right decision to stay away from your father and you did the right thing to keep your sister away from him, too since she has a soft spot for him. Do what makes sense such as making sound, very intelligent decisions which you have already.

    Some people can enforce strong, healthy boundaries with mentally ill people whereas some people need permanent estrangement in order to finally arrive at peace in their lives.

    I've had to cut certain people out of my life forever in order for me and my immediate family (husband & 2 sons) to live in peace, tranquility, calmness, harmony, stability and normalcy.

    Think reasonably, sensibly and logically. Become unemotional when it comes to making serious, intelligent, very final decisions. Emotions cloud your judgment.

    Btw, my maternal grandfather was beyond cruel to my dear mother. It was her decision to remain estranged from him and when he died, she wasn't fazed in the least. No guilt. What goes around comes around.

  10. 05-16-2020, 07:36 PM

  11. #9
    Gold Member East4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Europe
    Posts
    790
    Gender
    Female
    Thank you for sharing a sincere and intimate experience. In the face of severe adversity in your childhood, you were able to build a family and raise children. Kudos for that, you sure carry a strong soul to be able to shake off the burden you endured in childhood and create a normal life for yourself.

    Every child needs to love their parents, so do not feel bad about loving your father. But you have to realise that you want to love a good father. Which unfortunately is not what your father is. Internalise the good father within yourself, love and "father" yourself like a good father should have done. You were deprived from this opportunity and you miss it, which is normal. But your actual father will never be able to love you the way you crave. But you could recreate the father figure within yourself and love yourself instead.

    Do not go back to your father, you will only be hurt and disappointed again. The same goes for your sister.

    Lots of luck.

  12. #10
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Cloud Nine
    Posts
    39,021
    Gender
    Male
    Agree. Do not write him letter or shower him with love. Why reward abuse? You found peace within yourself and that's all you need to do...never understood the 'reward the abuser' mentality. Hold your own and maintain your boundaries.
    Originally Posted by East4
    Do not go back to your father, you will only be hurt and disappointed again. The same goes for your sister.


Videos


What Does Betrayal Do To Relationships?

What Is Good To Know About The First Date

Online Dating Websites Most Frequently Used By Older Adults

Blogging Helps New Moms Handle Parental Stress

What Do Men And Women Want In A Relationship?

Benefits Of Online Education
Give Advice
Ask For Advice

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •