Difficult to continue relationship (inc. ghosting) with Dad

W

WhiterShadeofPale

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Joined
Oct 4, 2015
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26
#1
Hi all - looking for some advice on a longstanding issue that I can never rationalise. I've always had a less than close relationship with my Dad. Although he had some moments of kindness, he was pretty detached from us growing up (in contrast with the rest of my family). I find this quite hard to reason with - I think he does love me and my brother but perhaps didn't know how to be a parent or had some unresolved issues that meant he couldn't fully emotionally commit. I don't know much about his early life apart from the outlines (I know his parents died in his twenties and he had another long-term partner before my Mum). I grew up very shy and dependent on my Mum and grandparents.

My parents went through an angry and drawn out divorce when I was 10-11 (now in mid twenties), during which my Dad drank a lot and went into violent rages against my Mum, including threatening to crash a car when we were all inside which was quite traumatic. Normally he is a quiet and awkward man who can be charming and very intelligent but he also has a Hyde personality that is angry, egocentric, mean-spirited and manipulative (at many times childlike). At the time I took the whole situation quite stoically on the outside but I think it affected me more than I ever discussed with anyone and I became more and more withdrawn at home and at school.

After my parents divorced we would spend every other weekend with him (which then became once a month) but we never really emotionally bonded and my brother and me would spend most of the time in our room playing computer games with each other. I was very isolated in my teenage years and hated school, living a sort of inner life - with my Mum at work most of the time my older brother was my only real present role model. I never rebelled or got outwardly angry against my Dad - it was more a case of absence of trust and closeness, like an distant relative rather than a father.

This has continued until the present day, where we have an outwardly friendly relationship that doesn't really go beyond small talk. He is more content and mellow than he was, has found another partner, and seems like he wants to be closer to me now than he has shown in the past - but I still feel slightly uncomfortable with him and not able to reciprocate when he reaches out. I act in ways only with my Dad that I would never act with other family and friends - e.g. not replying to text messages/calls, saying I'm busy and can't make meeting up. And this year it has gone even further as I have pretty much ghosted him since Christmas and only spoke a few times on the phone.

The more I grow into adulthood, the worse his past behaviour looks and I feel angry with the way he treated my Mum (when you are a child you know something is wrong but just accept it because that's what 'adults do') - even if he was in a state of deep mental distress at the time I can't rationalise loving someone who could act violently towards her, it is just so far away from who I am and the husband and father that one day I would want to be. Can I accept what happened just because it was a long time ago and he may have mellowed? I can't rationalise how detached he was when I was a child and resent not having someone to encourage and support me while I suffered in silence.

I feel like a lot of personality has developed in opposition to this period and part of his character - I'm a very calm, quiet person who will avoid conflict at all costs rather than speaking directly and is overly anxious about not wanting to upset others (including in my relationships). Whereas he can be quite vain about his intelligence and jealous, people say that I'm modest and sometimes too modest.

I know that he loves me, but I don't know how far he understands or regrets what he has done in the past. Half of the time i feel angry towards him and the other time pity. I've always been too scared to re-open what happened. I feel like when I go and see him I am performing a duty or service or going through the motions rather than because I want to. I sometimes wonder how much I would care and regret if I broke with him and if I should feel guilty or angry. Perhaps it's because I never had a chance to be angry at him at the time because I was a scared kid. Or because even though he's my Dad I feel like I have high moral standards and I just can't respect him as a person for some of his behaviour.

Sorry this has ended up a lot longer than I expected but I hope this makes sense and that there may be people who have had similar experiences.
 
calypso

calypso

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#2
I know that he loves me, but I don't know how far he understands or regrets what he has done in the past. .
I think that is the key thing in all this. He doesn't get it and so you feel your feelings are not likely to be taken seriously by him as a result.

I think you might like to take a step back, have a long think, perhaps create a strategy and follow through. The strategy could be that you will attempt to get him to understand, or you will only talk with him on the phone once a month or whatever. The reason I say this is that you seem to be quite conflicted and not sure what to do next. So take the reins of power and deal with this on your terms perhaps.

You might come to the conclusion you don't want anything to do with him and if so, that is fine too. But you need to be in charge of your actions to give you strength and that can mean that you change your mind later if you wish too.

If you do want to have contact with him may I suggest that you write him a letter and articulate a lot of what you have in this post. You wrote it very well and its very clear. The virtue of a letter is it gives you time to think, write exactly what you want to, and gives him time to think before responding. Just a thought, it might not be your thing.

I wish you well.
 
E

emzz

Guest
#3
Hi all - looking for some advice on a longstanding issue that I can never rationalise. I've always had a less than close relationship with my Dad. Although he had some moments of kindness, he was pretty detached from us growing up (in contrast with the rest of my family). I find this quite hard to reason with - I think he does love me and my brother but perhaps didn't know how to be a parent or had some unresolved issues that meant he couldn't fully emotionally commit. I don't know much about his early life apart from the outlines (I know his parents died in his twenties and he had another long-term partner before my Mum). I grew up very shy and dependent on my Mum and grandparents.

My parents went through an angry and drawn out divorce when I was 10-11 (now in mid twenties), during which my Dad drank a lot and went into violent rages against my Mum, including threatening to crash a car when we were all inside which was quite traumatic. Normally he is a quiet and awkward man who can be charming and very intelligent but he also has a Hyde personality that is angry, egocentric, mean-spirited and manipulative (at many times childlike). At the time I took the whole situation quite stoically on the outside but I think it affected me more than I ever discussed with anyone and I became more and more withdrawn at home and at school.

After my parents divorced we would spend every other weekend with him (which then became once a month) but we never really emotionally bonded and my brother and me would spend most of the time in our room playing computer games with each other. I was very isolated in my teenage years and hated school, living a sort of inner life - with my Mum at work most of the time my older brother was my only real present role model. I never rebelled or got outwardly angry against my Dad - it was more a case of absence of trust and closeness, like an distant relative rather than a father.

This has continued until the present day, where we have an outwardly friendly relationship that doesn't really go beyond small talk. He is more content and mellow than he was, has found another partner, and seems like he wants to be closer to me now than he has shown in the past - but I still feel slightly uncomfortable with him and not able to reciprocate when he reaches out. I act in ways only with my Dad that I would never act with other family and friends - e.g. not replying to text messages/calls, saying I'm busy and can't make meeting up. And this year it has gone even further as I have pretty much ghosted him since Christmas and only spoke a few times on the phone.

The more I grow into adulthood, the worse his past behaviour looks and I feel angry with the way he treated my Mum (when you are a child you know something is wrong but just accept it because that's what 'adults do') - even if he was in a state of deep mental distress at the time I can't rationalise loving someone who could act violently towards her, it is just so far away from who I am and the husband and father that one day I would want to be. Can I accept what happened just because it was a long time ago and he may have mellowed? I can't rationalise how detached he was when I was a child and resent not having someone to encourage and support me while I suffered in silence.

I feel like a lot of personality has developed in opposition to this period and part of his character - I'm a very calm, quiet person who will avoid conflict at all costs rather than speaking directly and is overly anxious about not wanting to upset others (including in my relationships). Whereas he can be quite vain about his intelligence and jealous, people say that I'm modest and sometimes too modest.

I know that he loves me, but I don't know how far he understands or regrets what he has done in the past. Half of the time i feel angry towards him and the other time pity. I've always been too scared to re-open what happened. I feel like when I go and see him I am performing a duty or service or going through the motions rather than because I want to. I sometimes wonder how much I would care and regret if I broke with him and if I should feel guilty or angry. Perhaps it's because I never had a chance to be angry at him at the time because I was a scared kid. Or because even though he's my Dad I feel like I have high moral standards and I just can't respect him as a person for some of his behaviour.

Sorry this has ended up a lot longer than I expected but I hope this makes sense and that there may be people who have had similar experiences.
Hi there and well done with your excellent portrayal of a self-centred narcistic father I could have written this post myself! I broke my heart more than once chasing my father for his love, he's dead now (11 years) and the day he died I was relieved I didn't have to chase anymore, I'm learning in his death to forgive him but I can never forget how the lack of his nurturing has effected me, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, no confidence but and its a good but with therapy and medication there is loads of hope and I'm doing ok, be confident none of this is your fault follow your gut feelings and do what is best for you! takecare.
PS: double whammy, my mother is the same as he was!