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Visiting parent = anxiety trigger. Help?

J

jojeba

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2014
Messages
18
Location
London
I'm from abroad and have been living in the UK for a decade now. I love my
life here. I also love my family but my rare time spent with them proves to be my biggest trigger for anxiety. My father has come over to stay with me for a couple of weeks; it's a big trip for him and it's exciting but after one day we have run out of things to talk about.

He's a good man and I love him but our lives are completely different. And he's a one sided conversationist. While I ask him questions about his life he asks me nothing about mine; he doesn't ask about my job, my love life, my plans. Basic stuff parents should want to know. He just chats away about the minutiae of his own life and doesn't enquire about the things in my world.

This disconnection makes me feel lonely when I'm with him. And I feel my previously dormant anxiety building. I can't be my full self because so much of my life is irrelevant to him or simply does not compute. We are doing a little travel together while will be lovely but I know it will wear me out. We are related but can't relate and that's a difficult place to be when you are spending so much time in one another's company. I am trying to coax friends to come hang out with us to take the pressure off. I can't say "hey I might just have a couple of nights of not seeing you". That would sting and i would feel very guilty. We only see each other every couple of years. I already feel like a horrible person thinking any of this and feeling this way.

Plus I don't feel I can broach any of this with him because I know he will see me as dramatic, or difficult, and it will make everything more awkward... Because of course, I cannot change him. We are who we are and we are very different and disconnected.

I want to give my dad the experiences he deserves, but without wearing myself out in the process. Any tips for how to control my anxiety so I can be a better daughter?
 
Last edited:
AliceinWonderland

AliceinWonderland

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14,164
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People like that are wearing to be with, whether they're family or not. You're very kind, and dutiful, to want to make it a good trip for him, but don't neglect your own needs in all this. You're right, you're unlikely to change him, but personally I think you'd be quite a saint to tolerate two weeks of him showing no interest in your life, and him talking endlessly about the minutiae of his. I think you should spend time doing your own thing for the sake of your wellbeing, I don't think that's unreasonable at all, you shouldn't be expected to drop everything cos he's staying. And yes, invite others along to spend time with you if you can. And spend time on the phone with people who are interested in you and your life, and who you can chat to and offload to.

I am concerned you are putting what you feel he 'deserves' above what you deserve. Why does he deserve to be endlessly listened to and shown a nice time, whilst you don't deserve to have any interest shown in your life and the things that are important to you? I have to limit time spent with people like this, or my mental health suffers (and yes, it's my parent too, so can't be totally avoided). So, as you've no choice about it being a whole fortnight, I'd advise as many short breaks out of his company as you can manage. Even if it means making up excuses like a friend in need of a visit, or something you need to go out and buy. You never know, he might also appreciate a bit of time to himself.

I do feel for you, it hurts when a parent doesn't show that interest in their child's life that would be normal and expected. I think it's important to recognise that there's likely to be a loss and a sadness about that, and a hurt and an anger sometimes.

But I can't stress enough that your needs, and your mental health are important in all this. Please try to get what you need out of this visit, not let it all be about him. Good luck :peace:
 
J

jojeba

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2014
Messages
18
Location
London
People like that are wearing to be with, whether they're family or not. You're very kind, and dutiful, to want to make it a good trip for him, but don't neglect your own needs in all this.
Thank you so much for taking time to reply. That means a lot and has made me realise that yes, I have every right to put my own needs at the forefront too. I'm working today but we're meeting straight after work for dinner. I think I'll be upfront and tell him that I need some time for myself as well and then work out some nice plans for the dates we are spending time together, to make it seem fair. I know he will understand, and frankly, if he doesn't, then so be it. I won't be good company for him anyway if my anxiety is skyrocketing. I'd rather spend less time with him and enjoy it.

Appreciate your kindness and support. It has really helped. xx
 
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