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to be angry with my dad

(10 Posts)
madmarriedNika Sat 30-Aug-08 23:20:54

This is long- be warned.

Bit of background- my mum & dad divorced when I was 6, it was very messy and only recently have they talked like adults to each other and can be in the same room. My dad struggled to "move on", had one long-term girlfriend then split, since then has had a series of intense 2-week style "this is the love of my life" relationships, that then seem to go wrong. He openly longs for a longlasting relationship, and doesn't cope well on his own or seem to enjoy his own company much. He is a musician so lives a unusual life, never anywhere for long & doesn't know many folk where his house is. He is happiest on tour with his buddies, when at home he sinks into depression and is now (finally) receiving some help for "mild" alcoholism.

Since I was 6 throughout childhood we'd see him every sunday, and at uni and after we'd have regular phonecalls always on a sunday. Increasingly he used these to talk about all his probs, often saying that myself & my sister are the only ones he can really talk to. We'd listen patiently, try to be supportive, offer suggestions etc.

I now live with my family in NI, he is still 'based' in Dorset. We see him about 3 times a year- he's always welcome over here and we still speak at length every week (which if I'm honest I sometimes dread). I booked a week to visit family in England, which was just a couple of weeks ago, bringing DCs with me. Timing was organised to ensure both parents weren't working so could see lots of us. But... a week before we flew over dad phoned saying he'd met "THE most special lady" on a dating forum- they'd met up and been inseperable since. My sister and I barely dared to hope this may turn out better than his last few relationships (he has a habit of going out with much younger and often emotionally fragile women) but Dad seemed so happy- and suddenly the phonecalls stopped. Eventually I managed to meet up with them both for a few hours one of the days we were over- he was so besotted with her he barely spoke to us. She seemed lovely and I actually hoped may be better suited to Dad than his exes...

10 days later still nothing from Dad, we assume he's still "loved up" and off the radar (usually we have frequent texts/emails as well as weekly long phonecalls). Suddeny today he calls when I'm out and leaves a message saying "it's all gone to shit". This follows the identical pattern of his last previous "flings" but he is very emotional and gets incredibly down... Personally I do feel his pain, BUT I am also angry that after him going on at me so much that he wants/needs to see more of me and get to know his grandchildren that we were effectively ditched 10 days ago- but now he wants (& expects) to cry on my shoulder. He is not a teenager & I am not his mum. Am I right to feel angry, or should I just let it go and carry on trying to support him?

thumbwitch Sat 30-Aug-08 23:26:28

I think you probably know the answer to this really - you have picked up the pieces time and time again with him, why is it really any different this time? but OTOH, do you want to carry on picking up the pieces again and again for him?

He sounds pretty selfish imo; have you tried telling him you are peed off at his behaviour?

madmarriedNika Sat 30-Aug-08 23:28:58

To be honest I would love to break this pattern and would love to tell him how I feel- BUT he is very emotionally fragile and I would worry he'd harm himself. So I guess I do know the answer really- just carry on picking up the pieces and try not to feel put out about how we were pretty much ignored once he had a new love interest. I do so wish he'd grow up but have a feeling a habit of a lifetime isn't about to change... I do feel sorry for him too

thumbwitch Sat 30-Aug-08 23:34:43

there you go then - caught in a caring trap, you know you can't leave him to just get on with it because if anything bad happened to him you would just rend yourself with guilt.

But, accepting that he is a selfish immature git might go some way to relieving the irritation you feel! You are right, it is v. unlikely that he will change.

BUT <again?> I think you should still tell him that his behaviour was unacceptable. Don't let him get away with it scot free (treat him as though he is a teenager, since he behaves a bit like one).

madmarriedNika Sat 30-Aug-08 23:37:52

Thank you for good advice, Thumbwitch. Feel a bit less angry already. You can't choose your parents can you...

BlueBumedFly Sat 30-Aug-08 23:40:52

YANBU honey and I know where you are at.

Your Dad is being selfish in the extreme, you made your holiday booking and he chose to put his new relationship above the special week he could have had with you and your DCs. You can only do so much, you have your DH (DP) and DCs to care for and worry about, he sould be supporting you as well, not just loading you with all of his problems.

I spent my childhood (OK, gonna spill what I never spill often) waiting for my Dad to want to spend time with me. After my parents divorced he was always off with the new 'love of his life'. Now I am an adult with my own DCs he is needy and clingy and it drives me mad. I have two step-DDs and one DD. He treats my step DDs like they do not exist and pretends that he is the most wonderful grandfather to my daughter. It is rubbish. I told him at my wedding that unless he wanted to take on my whole new family (step-DDs) he could ** off that very minute and never return. He was OK with them for a while but once I had had a new baby he is rubbish with them, it stinks.

Our whole phone conversations are about him. His health, his financial situation, his girlfriend etc etc.

I was really angry the other day when we were talking about money and he asked why we had to pay maintenance to my DH's ex for the kids... 'does she not work?' was his question. I asked my Mum about it and she said he paid the bare minimum when we were kids.

Don't get me wrong, he is not some poor man with no money. Oh no, he is a fine, well off member of society who is a total snob. I get so angry, but he is my Dad so I give in.

At the moment I am ignoring emails that start 'dear stranger' as I have not called him for a week or so. Apparently this new invention called the telephone only works one way and he obviously cannot make any outgoing calls to check if I am ok.

So, after all my waffling YANBU, and I sympathise with you, I have had this all my life. I have to remind myself that I cannot change him and have the right to walk away whenever I want, I owe him nothing. In the meantime I do my best to help and listen but I make myself forget the moment the phone goes down, I have my family to worry about and care for. He never so much as worries about anyone else but himself.

As for 'mild alcoholism'??? A close friend is an alcolic and either you are or you are not. In her wonderful words to me often:

'Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

madmarriedNika Sat 30-Aug-08 23:52:24

Blue- thank you for your message- I really do feel for you. The quote is perfect too- from the Desiderata am I right? I have it somewhere, I used to look at it often when younger..

Yes I think there is definitely an inherent selfishness about our Dads!! Self-centeredness too. Like you all our phonecalls are just about him, it drives me mad. His GP caught him on about the alcohol- he had to have blood tests for something and they happened to check his liver enzymes in this and found them to be far from healthy. Having found him is his house alone drinking whisky at 11am this wasn't a huge suprise to us, but of course Dad although saying he does need some help won't admit it's a big prob...he certainly hasn't given up drinking altogether..as he lives on his own it's hard to monitor him... His alcohol counsillor should very good though and I know it's a big step for him to even be seeing one...

I still hold out hope that one day Dad will listen to himself and have a life-changing enlightenment that might make him happier with his lot...and maybe realise our role shouldn't be quite what it is currently

luckylady74 Sat 30-Aug-08 23:57:58

Having to parent your parent is never easy and it's gutting when they let you down. sad

BlueBumedFly Sun 31-Aug-08 00:00:05

I agree with you hun whole heartedly. The first step of getting treatment for alcoholism is admitting you have a problem which can only come from inside a person. It is a very personal decision to have to come to.

I don't think my Dad with change, I just try to cope better, worry less and listen like a bloke - selectively!

In the meantime we can hope and listen and support but not feel bad for not being able to change them, we never will so it is a waste of time and energy trying.

I am sure then know we love them so (even in the face of adversity) so that is going to have to be enough.

pamelat Sun 31-Aug-08 12:25:59

He is acting like the child isn't he, he needs to stop and think about what all of this does to you.

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