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Give my dad a chance?


Seraphim

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I will do the Coles Notes version. My father was an abusive neglectful parent and an abusive spouse to my mother. My mother did divorce him when I was five or six years old. When I was 13 and my brother was 10 years old he kidnapped us from our mother who was our custodial sole legal parent. And he did it to force her to come back to him. She did it of course to get us back. Fast forward 10 years they break up again finally, for good. Because she didn't love him anymore he also destroyed other branches of the family in revenge against her. He refused me and my brother as his children and told us to go away. And for the last 24 years he has pretty much ignored that we are his children.

 

All of that being said my father has two very severe mental illnesses. He has been on and off medication since he was 21 years old and he's 68 now. In the past he had never stuck with a medication. Also in the past 24 years since we have been estranged he has become an alcoholic in that time.

 

The only people he has in the whole world was his father who passed away last year and one of his sisters. His father was his entire world and his father passed away a year ago. So now all he has is his sister who sees him about once a month.

 

In the past year they have found a medication combination for him that seems to be doing absolute wonders. And in the year since my grandfather passed away my father has been reaching out more and more to me and my brother. Even my husband who has barely spoken 10 words to him in 24 years has noticed a big change.

 

I really want to believe that this is a true change in my dad. I really want to believe that for the first time in 47 years I can have a positive relationship with him. There's not a lot of time to do that. My father's not the healthiest person. He has had four heart attacks, two open-heart surgeries and four strokes. And he also has diabetes.

 

I don't know if I should risk the possibility of getting my heart kicked out of my body yet again or that this might blossom into something that I have always wanted.

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Would you feel better if the two of you would reconcile? What "good" you think this reconciliation would bring? What would possibly change? If you think it would help you in dealing with everything that happened to you, than do it for yourself...

Still I think there is a huge risk that you will just retraumatize yourself... I met lots of sick people, but I never saw anybody changed, recovered... Changing is hard even for healthy persons, now imagine how hard, if not impossible must be for people with mental issues, living on medications... sure, they are afraid, lonely, old, sick, they are afraid to die, all these could make them do unusual things, like reaching out, but change them???

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Yes ,that is what I am worried about that he is not truly changed. That he is only reaching out because he is alone. It would be totally within his character to mess us over.

 

Would I benefit from a good relationship with my dad? Yes ,immensely. It would be the final last missing puzzle piece.

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Hi Victoria, thanks for repping me the other day!

 

I think it's a very personal decision. If you start to find yourself walking on eggshells, constantly censoring yourself, feeling down after interacting with him, basically only allowed to communicate through a fantasy where he controls all the rules, then I think you should definitely rethink your decision.

 

Also, keep in mind that stress and conflict are also not good for your father, especially at his age, even if he brings it on himself. You might find that keeping your distance is the most loving and compassionate act you can do for him.

 

More importantly, even though he's mentally ill, I believe his well being is not your responsibility if he brings harm to you and the people you love. Making up with him now will nor erase how he mistreated you from the time you were a vulnerable child, or that he did nothing to right his wrongs decades later. That is just my opinion even if it's a strong one.

 

I think you should act in a way that makes you feel whole and complete. If including your father in your life really helps you, then I don't think you should force yourself to stay away from him. I think you should stay grounded in reality throughout the process.

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Vic, you know he is a very disturbed man. Although this isn't his fault, some of his actions are. That said, twenty, thirty, forty years ago, they did not have the resources or help for people like him that we have today. Even if he had realized what he was doing and wanted to change, he may not have been able to back then and still may not be able to now.

 

People don't know what they have until it's gone. At his age, his patterns are long ingrained and any new found desires of reconciliation or caring could be fueled solely by his own fears and selfishness for what he's lost. In short, time and age might be catching up with him and he's now terrified of losing control (he has severe control issues as you know) and being alone and likely dying alone. It could also be true remorse and a desire to make some kind of amends brought on by the same factors of time and age. Maybe a combination of the two or even more. You know your dad, only you can really figure out the motivations behind all this.

 

Past history with him says that even though this medication combination is working well, that he will eventually stop taking it again. That's common. Once people start feeling better, they start thinking they don't need it anymore. It's a hard thing to realize that you have to be on something for the rest of your life. Especially meds for some mental or emotional problems. you have the whole denial thought process of "there's nothing wrong with me" combined with the stigma of "crazy". For someone your dad's age, he grew up in an era where men had to be men, suck it up, man up and do it. A brain chemical imbalance that requires medicating implies "you're not man enough" to deal with it yourself. So he's got that to fight as well.

 

Vic, the best thing I can think of to tell you it this: You're still holding on to a lot of past hurt and anger towards him even if you don't realize it. Find forgiveness for him and his past. Let it go. Have hope, but don't get your hopes up. Have no expectations. Live in the moment with him and enjoy what you can have, when you can have it. See the person in front of you now, not the person you've always wanted him to be. He might be your father, but the little girl's dream of a daddy is out of reach for you both. That's been gone for a long time now. Instead of wishing for that old father/daughter idealism, why not try forging a new friendship with him instead. By dropping your expectations and dreams, and accepting him for the flawed individual he is, you can do that and have a positive relationship with him. It also might be the key to building a father/adult daughter relationship that could become what you both need now.

 

hugs sweetie

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Yes ,you are right he is a very disturbed individual. And yes ,in the past there was so much stigmatism attached mental illness and they're even still is now.

 

While I have done a lot of forgiving over the past year and a half in therapy and even before you are right there is anger there. There is a lot of anger there. So I do still have a lot of letting go to do.

 

I guess too I still have to work on validating myself more. There is still is a small part of me that is a little girl dying for daddy's approval and love .

 

And I just want to jump in feet first and kind of embrace this new thing because that is my way to be rather impetuous. But then I think of all the times that I have been burned. I am a natural optimist and always long for the best.

 

But maybe the best thing to do is to wait and see how it progresses and maybe talk with my counselor about it. It either has potential for great happiness or great sadness, as everything does.

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Your dad might be a wreck, but I think he's always loved you the best he could and best he knew how. I think the trick for you with your dad is going to have to be a little bit of emotional distance. That little girl part of you is what's going to get you hurt and hurt the worst. She's been stomped on so much, that's what she looks for now along with wanting daddy's love and approval. If you can remove that portion of it, you will take away his power to hurt you so deeply. After all, you're the one that gives him that power. So take it back.

 

I agree with talking to your counselor about it. You've come a very long way and worked your butt off recently. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe you're not trying too hard, or doing too much all at once. Make sense? Wait a bit, see how he does, if he's really going to stay on these meds and work on what you need to with your counselor. If things keep going well, (and I hope they do!) maybe then you can start easing into the relationship with him. Jumping in full bore is going to get you hurt again. He's not capable of giving you what you need and want right now. At some point, I think you're going to have to talk to him about the past and how it's made you feel. I really believe it will be healing for both of you and it will be what you need to put the last bits behind you. It has to be when you're both able to do it though.

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Yes ,you are right the little girl portion of me which is so impetuous, forgiving and essentially a very loving person is the one that's going to get kicked in the face. I'm not quite sure how she still happens to be that way after being stomped on so viciously many times. And she cries out for justice and love. But she also has incorrect boundaries. So with my counselor I've been learning correct boundaries and using my adult voice to call calm that little girl. I have to remind her that I love her, I care for her and I am her protector now. No one can hurt her ever again.

 

I will say though my father has thrown a spanner in the status quo.

 

I will say though you do have me pegged! Lol. I do love a challenge and in anything I do I play hardball or go home. I do need to lighten up on myself. This is also something that I am learning.

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I am sure you would benefit from a good relationship with your father, but expecting him to be a good father after who he has been his whole life and have a normal relationship him I think is just not possible.

I think what you can do, if that would make you feel better just have a talk with him, let them know how you felt all these years and let him know that you have moved on with your life, you turned out fine, "forgive him" if that would give you any kind of a peace, but getting involved with him again, that would be just dangerous, you will just hurt yourself again...

Like once a therapist told me kids with abusive parents are "orphans", they have no real parents, this parents never offered what parents should offer, so the best you can do with them, just accept the fact that you are "orphan" and "bury" them, he just can t be your father, the father you always wanted, since he has never been all this time... just let him go...

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Correct boundaries are absolutely imperative here, as is a very firm grounding in the here and now. You are no longer an eight-year old girl, and he is no longer fulfilling the function of 'father' in your life. He can't mess you over without your consent, by which I mean that it's important to remember, right the way down the line, that anything he says or does is about him and not you.

 

I always had a terrible relationship with my mother; however she's been close to death a couple of times in the last few years and it really brought it home that, no matter what my thoughts about her WERE, she was my mother and the only one I'd ever have. I personally found it very important to reconcile (even if only in my own mind) while she's still with us. I have several friends - who had similar difficulties with their mothers - who were unable to do this, or to let go the bitterness, or to attain forgiveness (which, as we all know is something we do for ourselves).

 

Don't worry too much about your father's motives. That's his stuff. Think about what some kind of healing of the relationship would do for you, and your own peace of mind - if it's achievable. That's your stuff. Of course, it may not be, and withdrawing from the relationship again is something you need to do for your own sanity. The kind of parenting you'd expect from someone aged 68 to another adult is not AT ALL the same as would be appropriate when you were both much younger, so keep your expectations realistic.

 

What also might be helpful would be to attend a few Alanon meetings - they are very valuable in helping you to disentangle the alcoholism from the person, and to keep your serenity no matter what.

 

(((HUGS)))

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You and I have talked at length about this...Just not long ago you had told me painful things he had more recently said to you.

 

I don't think he has changed. Not only that, but you know he gets off his medications because he does enjoy the other side of the illness. He is both predictable and unpredictable.

 

I wonder if you've ever really grieved that which has gone missing from him. What he wasn't able to provide you, what he still hasn't, but yet you fight for it. I do not think you will find peace unless you stop fighting for it. It doesn't have anything to do with defeat or "giving up" but just acceptance of his (grave) limitations. You don't have to cut him out, but I think the limited contact was serving you well. He's never going to be able to go back and heal the past. And he's never going to be what you needed 30, 35, 40 years ago. Not even entirely to do with his limitations but also the dynamics change massively as the two of you age.

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Vic, only you can decide whether this is something you need to do or not, but I suppose you have to ask yourself whether a relationship with your father is something you need enough to risk how much he might end up hurting you.

 

Yeah this is something only time might tell.

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Great, very descriptive and emotive posting, Victoria66!

 

I really want to believe that this is a true change in my dad. I really want to believe that for the first time in 47 years I can have a positive relationship with him. There's not a lot of time to do that. My father's not the healthiest person. He has had four heart attacks, two open-heart surgeries and four strokes. And he also has diabetes.

 

I don't know if I should risk the possibility of getting my heart kicked out of my body yet again or that this might blossom into something that I have always wanted.

 

So... you want more of a relationship/connection with your Dad, you're worried that you may not have much time, and you're worried about it going badly.

 

You have a support network, in terms of your husband, your other family (I guess) and your counsellor. You reach out more to your Dad, that could feed through to extra load on yourself and your support network. Could be hard on your husband and your family. Your counsellor will have supervision, and their own support network, plus coping with difficult emotional stuff is part of their role/training.

 

What options do you think you have?

 

Do you want to attempt some sort of reconciliation before it's too late?

Are you happy right now with how things are, and how things could progress if you don't change anything?

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Well I know I can't let him go. To me that is defeat. And defeat does not exist in my vocabulary.
Well, whether you want to let him go or not, one day he will be gone and you will have no choice in that.

 

Long story short: my parents divorced when I was 6. My father was not really interested in children, least of all girls. He always had something else, kept me at arm's length and, like you, I desperately wanted my father to love me and be my Dad. But, he simply was not capable of that and he did a lot of things to me that he should not have, simply because of his own selfishness. After the straw that broke my back, I cut him out of my life. I did not want to see him or speak to him. It was surprisingly easy, since he had made sure he moved far away. These being the days before Internet, phone calls were expensive, letters and packages were too inconvenient. Eventually, I'm not sure when, he started drinking more and more. When I was 30, I decided to get back in touch with him because I had lost my last family member, I wanted family and thought maybe I had been too harsh with him. So I tried, but the only thing I learned was that my father was an alcoholic who still kept me at arm's length and to all intents and purposes, we were strangers. And he was weirdly OK with that. I mean, he expected me to love and adore him and be the devoted child, but he seemed to think he didn't need to do anything in order to get this treatment from me. Anyway, I couldn't take it and once again cut him out. Once again, way too easy to do. He is now not in the best health but I don't care. I know that if I go running back to him that he's not going to give me what I've always wanted, that he isn't capable of it and while he may be scared or whatever, it's not my problem to fix or my fault to apologise for. To be honest, if he died tomorrow it would make no appreciable difference in my life, except giving me the relief that he could never do anything to hurt me again. I would never have to worry that he was going to darken my doorstep. Which is sad. I envy people who have good relationships with their parents. But kind of like someone above posted, at some point, I had to accept that neither of my parents were capable of being the people I wanted them to be and that I was an orphan, firstly because my mother was dead, but secondly because even if she was still alive, she would not have mothered me in a healthy way.

 

So Victoria, I guess my advice to you is: what can you live with? If you decided you didn't want to "take the bait" and attempt to develop a better relationship with your father, could you live with yourself if he passed away? Or, would you kick yourself that you didn't give him the benefit of the doubt/try again, just one more time? It sounds like you have a good support system in place, no matter what you decide. If you do decide to try again, so long as you go in baby steps, you will be able to bail out if it's too much/nothing's changed with him/he's hurting you in a way you didn't anticipate. I tried to speak with my mother just before she died and let's just say that didn't go the way I had thought it would. While I felt horribly at the time, she gave me the gift of understanding that I wasn't crazy, I hadn't been imagining things even if she couldn't give me the gift of telling me she loved me (just once, it was obviously too much to ask or hope for). Either way, Victoria, I don't envy your position. We are so conditioned in our society to "honour thy father and mother" but what if your parents aren't honourable people? We all have to struggle (to greater of lesser degrees) of where the line between honouring our parents and honouring ourselves is drawn -- and who is the one drawing the line.

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Great, very descriptive and emotive posting, Victoria66!

 

 

 

So... you want more of a relationship/connection with your Dad, you're worried that you may not have much time, and you're worried about it going badly.

 

You have a support network, in terms of your husband, your other family (I guess) and your counsellor. You reach out more to your Dad, that could feed through to extra load on yourself and your support network. Could be hard on your husband and your family. Your counsellor will have supervision, and their own support network, plus coping with difficult emotional stuff is part of their role/training.

 

What options do you think you have?

 

Do you want to attempt some sort of reconciliation before it's too late?

Are you happy right now with how things are, and how things could progress if you don't change anything?

Well , no I have never been really happy with the way things were. That was his decision to alienate me. When I was 24 he told me to go away I wasn't his daughter anymore he had "new kids". ( my cousins) He moved in on my mom's brother's wife ,broke up their marriage and ended up living with my former aunt and my cousins. He destroyed my mother's brother's family in revenge against my mother. He couldn't kidnap me and my brother anymore or use me and my brother against our mother because we were too old . So he looked for other targets. So it was entirely his decision to alienate his own children. And he alienated us because he wanted to hurt our mother through us. Then it just became the way life was.

 

But if anything is going to change I would have to put in considerable effort. He lives 3 1/2 hours away from me. He doesn't drive anymore due to health issues. He needs a scooter to be able to get anywhere. His last stroke destroyed his balance so he needs the scooter. He is virtually a pauper living in a ghetto. I would have to do everything.

 

Would I do everything if it would being a good result? Yes.

 

I know he has been a horrible horrendous human being and in a way he is getting exactly what he sewed in life. I still cannot cannot get over the fact that he is my father and I love him. And my heart breaks with pity for him. I have heard how abused he was as a kid. Even worse than myself. And that breaks my heart. The fact that he is so severely ill ,mentally ill and physically ill breaks my heart. I am an extremely empathetic and compassionate person. And an extremely forgiving and loving person especially with family.

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Yes ,I cannot live with myself unless I gave him every chance possible to redeem himself. I suppose I am taking on too much of everyone's issues and their chances for success or failure. But I feel overwhelmingly compelled to make sure he has every opportunity to redeem his relationship with me and my brother. I feel if I don't do that I have failed in my own existence.

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I will do the Coles Notes version. My father was an abusive neglectful parent and an abusive spouse to my mother. My mother did divorce him when I was five or six years old. When I was 13 and my brother was 10 years old he kidnapped us from our mother who was our custodial sole legal parent. And he did it to force her to come back to him. She did it of course to get us back. Fast forward 10 years they break up again finally, for good. Because she didn't love him anymore he also destroyed other branches of the family in revenge against her. He refused me and my brother as his children and told us to go away. And for the last 24 years he has pretty much ignored that we are his children.

 

Based on the information you're giving it doesn't seem your parents were motivated in the way you say they were. For instance, most couples go through the 7 year itch which is when the relationship gets kinda boring. I bet your father tried to get love through your mom, and when he felt he wasn't getting enough he used his one tool called abuse. Then if he still didn't get it, he would give up and be neglectful. So then your mom starts checking out and prioritizes the kids. This makes him feel like he's losing his wife and his kids so he's more neglectful. And since you're mostly with mom anyway, you two feel like even more neglected. By around year 7 she files for divorce, taking both kids with her. He lets her leave with his kids, which he probably still supported for 7 years. Then something snaps in him, and he realizes after 7 years that he let his wife walk away with his kids.

 

At this point a person with more tools than just abuse, would try to woo the woman back. What does he do? He kidnaps his kids. Clearly still using that lone tool in his toolbox. By this time your mom is still not married and having to raise both kids by herself, so yeah, kidnapping turns into blessing in disguise. At least your dad cares enough to kidnap you, which is more than what she'd get from a step dad. So then, I doubt either of them was that in love to happily marry again, but I bet both of them did it for you and your brother. Your mom put up with his abuse, and your dad put up with not getting love from her so that both of you could have parents. 10 years later, you brother is 20 and you are 23, you're both out of the house. Why does your mom need to put up with his abuse now, and why does he need to remain unloved? It's probably likely he formed a connection with your aunt during this time. She probably wasn't too happy in the relationship with her husband and liked the attention your dad gave her. So then she divorces and goes for him.

 

He then tries to get the love he was missing from her. He tries to be a dad to her kids, they're not his kids but still, he's going to be the dad he couldn't and try to get the love from those kids he felt he couldn't get. And besides, he put up with your mom and in the end his kids left, so now he's trying to relive his life and get it to work correctly. So when you come back while he's doing this, he doesn't tell you how he feels, no. He looks for a tool, finds abuse, and then says that you're not his kids anymore. If he really felt that way, he wouldn't have put up with your mom or you two for 10 years after getting a divorce. Your parents knew their relationship didn't work at year 7, but even after getting a divorce, they got back together and stayed married at year 24. That's a long time to sacrifice for two kids when you already know the relationship is bad.

 

So, I think your dad loves both of you, but he's horrible at using other tools. You should meet with him but do so without expectations. He will more than likely try to abuse you. That's the only tool he's got, but you can try to overlook and look after him, and appreciate him for whatever good remains in him. Correct him like a child and tell him not to be abusive but don't take it personally. Appreciate him for the good he does and give thanks to him. I recommend laying down rules for him for how to interact with your family and giving minor consequences should he fail. This relationship needs to build with whatever time you have left and eventually the love should return. But if you take his abuse personally, you will break up again. And yeah, he probably doesn't have new tricks. I wish you good luck with this if you choose to try a relationship with him.

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