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Feeling increasingly bitter and sad - please help me think differently

(12 Posts)
shandyleer Thu 23-Jun-11 14:46:00

I've just posted this in AIBU, but at someone's suggestion, am doing it here also, so sorry for double posting.

I don't know if I am BU or not, but I can't stop thinking about the whole situation. If I am BU, can you help me to view things differently? I have posted bits and pieces about this before so apologies for any repetition.

My parents divorced when I was 11. My mum's actions caused scandal in the circles in which they moved. I elected to stay with my Dad, and did so until I left home for uni. Dad and I had a very close relationship, there was nothing we could not speak about, we got on very well.

When I was 15 Dad met his current partner. She is 20 years younger than him and has 3 children (although only admits to having 2). They have never lived together. Her and I were not particularly close, partly because we didn't see much of each other, but we never actually fell out. I always felt she disapproved of me in some way but never knew why.

Over the years Dad and I have remained close, even though I now live 200 miles away from where I grew up. I am his only relative so I did feel guilty at not seeing him as often as I could, but I was happy that he had the companionship and care of his partner.

Shortly before Xmas Dad was diagnosed with Crohn's disease so he moved in with his partner for the first time in over 30 years. Shortly after that, his partner was diagnosed, totally out of the blue, (never smoked, always ate healthily etc) with lung cancer. About two weeks after her diagnosis, her son rang us to tell us that his mother no longer wanted my father around as she could not care for him. Dad came to stay with us - him thinking it was for a fortnight only, us knowing it was permanent. Each time a fortnight would pass, Dad would mention returning, and she would say she wanted to be alone for another fortnight.

I'm amazed at her duplicity over this, I think she should have told him the score up front and not be stringing him along.

Just before Dad came here, he wanted Dh and I to attend a meeting with him and his bank manager, and during the course of the meeting, I found out that he had left her the larger part of his savings, plus he was leaving money to her sons - none of whom he knows any better than she knows me, none of whom he was instrumental in bringing up, and none of whom he has ever seen regularly. I was really shocked - NOT because of the money aspect, but because it seems that he holds her in higher regard than both me and my children.

A couple of weeks ago we took Dad to visit her at the weekend (he was "allowed" to visit as one of her sons was also staying). We dropped Dad at her house, and went on to stay at my Mum's. No sooner had we got there (at about 11ish on a Friday evening) than DH became seriously and suddenly ill (he does have lots of health issues), so we rushed home again and he was admitted to hospital. The following morning my Mum rang Dad to tell him what had happened and to say that he would probably have to stay on with his partner a few days longer than originally planned. The partner answered the phone, my mum told her what had happened, and her response was to start crying, to say that she hated me, that I was bone idle, had never done anything in my life, and I was just waiting for my Dad to die to get him off my hands and to get his money.

I can't tell you how upset I was to hear such awful things - but worse still, is that she has since told Dad what she said, and he has said absolutely nothing to her. When I asked him why, he started to make excuses for her and to say that she was sorry. I can't understand why he would let her say such things about me without defending me. I can't stop thinking about it, and about all her other recent behaviour. Dad continues to talk about her as if she has done nothing wrong - he doesnt seem to realise I don't want to hear anything about her, neither does he realise how let down I feel.

I'm feeling increasing hostility towards her, but I also feel more and more bitter towards my Dad. I don't want to feel this way, but each time I try to rationalise my feelings, it seems she has "won" in every aspect of the situation. How can i not let this fester? I have spoken to my Dad about the whole name-calling incident, but as I said, he made excuses for her and now acts as though it never happened.

shandyleer Thu 23-Jun-11 15:44:31

Anybody with any wise words to stop me becoming even more of a bitter and twisted old hag? smile

garlicnutter Thu 23-Jun-11 15:44:37

What an incredible run of bad luck! I'm so sorry for everyone concerned.

YABU, imo. The woman has a painful, debilitating and almost certainly fatal disease. You are wrong to equate money with love: your father can leave everything to a donkey sanctuary if he chooses to - and might even do, if his will makes the family rifts worse. Perhaps the sons are less able to look after themselves than you are, or, alternatively, are brilliantly gifted and he wants to afford them opportunities. Whatever, it's his dying wish. Surely you can respect that?

I am very sad for all the troubles in your family, and for the immense strain it must be putting on you. But I think you're making your own stress worse by playing power games, or at least wanting to.

As the only reliably healthy person in the middle of all this, I'd strongly recommend getting yourself a counsellor. You really need someone sensible to dump your angst on. Good luck.

shandyleer Thu 23-Jun-11 15:46:53

Cross post Garlic, thanks for reply. Why do you think I'm playing power games?

garlicnutter Thu 23-Jun-11 16:15:31

it seems she has "won" in every aspect of the situation

Almost the whole of your post is about winning, losing and resentment. Tbh, I think it's totally understandable given the strain you are under - but that should be your focus, not 'winning'. I reckon you need to admit and manage your own anxieties and stress levels, rather than seeking to lay blame for it.

Typing this quickly & could have put it better. I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

oldwomaninashoe Thu 23-Jun-11 17:04:22

You say in your post you haven't "seen as much of him as you should have", do you really know the basics of your fathers relationship with his partner?

You are his closest relative , his only daughter, and perhaps the outburst from his partner was as a result of the fact that she feels you have not "bothered" with your father as much as you could have?

I am only suggesting these as reasons for the outburst. You must remember she is in effect terminally ill with a dabilitating disease and probably feels more than stressed.

Did you give your "opinions" on how your Father intended to leave his money when you went to the Solicitors. You may not have actually said much, but odd comments and body language can give off a "vibe". Perhaps your Father conveyed his feelings /your reactions to his Partner.

What Shandyleer said his money being his to bequeath where he wants is pertinent.

Think hard about your feelings in all of this and you are being a little unreasonable. You , no doubt are experiencing stress in all of this but remember you are not the only one.

I don't suppose either you or your Fathers partner will feel exactly like "winners" in all of this

shandyleer Thu 23-Jun-11 17:22:59

I think I get you Garlic, but I'm not sure how to go about managing stress levels, do you mean by counselling?

oldwoman, I think I know the way their relationship works, in as much as anyone on the outside of a relationship looking in can. I tried to see him as often as possible, bearing in mind he lived 200 miles away and I had the children/dh's needs to juggle. We also spoke 3/4 times a week, and now, of course, he's here. And, no, I certainly didn't say anything about how he had chosen to leave his money.

Mobly Thu 23-Jun-11 18:02:21

OK, firstly it's OK to accept what you're feeling but you have to move on from it. You cannot control other people. No-one has done anything bad. It seems everyone is suffering.

Your dad is probably not going to want to upset a dying woman- can you not understand that?

Try looking at things from his persective.

terrafermez Thu 23-Jun-11 22:54:00

shandyleer I feel for you. This is a complicated situation with a lot of moving parts.

It is very hard to deal with some of the things our loved ones expect of us, without any awareness of the effort we are putting forth on their behalf, while they are in their failing years. It is always hard to be taken for granted, and you are being taken for granted and gratuitously insulted by some parties on top of it.

My advice on the aspect where you are putting forth effort to care for your dad and it seems to go unrecognized and unappreciated, is to try to think of your efforts now as a sort of opportunity to return the gift of the selfless care your dad gave you growing up. This phase of your life will have an end date too, and when this phase does end you can reflect on your actions with satisfaction.

You were never wrong to live your own life. That is what a child is supposed to do. There is nothing to indicate you are, or ever were, a bad daughter by not being immediately on hand to wait on your dad hand and foot through th years. What is being said about you isn't right, especially since you are caring for your dad in a way your dad's partner actually never has.

If your dad's partner was the best person in the world, or the worst person in the world, either way you could see where she might say some really awful things being under pressure of her own illness. She's taking her feelings for a lot of things out in your direction. That's not right either, but what can you do? Try to see it as not being about you at all. She doesn't even know you and maybe in her mind that makes it less mean to say mean things about someone she doesn't really know. In any case, it truly is not about you - she's just lashing out.

Nor is it wrong of you to notice that the relationship between your dad and his partner is an odd one. They never lived together, then when they finally did - suddenly there was a reason why he had to leave and still they did not live together. It is odd, but it must have suited them, more or less, for the level of relationship they wished to have, or else it would have ended.

But it is beyond the pale that, never having lived with him and hating to have him in her house for even a few days, she would accuse you of being a terrible person/daughter. !

My own dad spent a good deal of money on the home carer he hired in his final years. He was zealous in guarding his independence especially from his daughters, and would not let us help him. He feared we would put him in a home. So, we urged him to hire someone to come in every day, and he did that. It ended up that she extracted a good bit of money from him, and was driving around in a flash car and getting him to pay some 'school fees' for a course that was imaginary. It was pathetic and foolish, but it was also - really - what he wanted. He always liked to feel he had the upper hand of control and was in a position to bestow things. His failing health and independent adult daughters (horridly eager to help) took that all away from him. His carer was 'needy,' but she restored to him that feeling of being the one who has something to give. It's a good job he died when he did, because he was not rich and would shortly have spent all his assets and been in difficulties. He would then have really hated every moment of living with his daughters, and made all our lives hell. He detested feeling indebted or having to be thankful.

Based on that experience, my thought is that your dad wants to go on his terms and giving the money where he is giving it, even if there is something odd and sham about the situation, is about how he feels about himself. His leaving it this way makes him feel good about himself somehow. Even if she and hers are really ungrateful for their good fortune.

Your dad seems to not be the type to explain his thoughts or actions. You must wonder about lots of things here. I would.

Bottom line though, I think it is best to practice detaching yourself as much as you possibly can - from their relationship, from his actions, from what he is doing with his will - all of it. Try to focus like a laser on what you want for your life to be, the words and actions you want to be the owner of, when you are looking back on this time. Myself, I found this very, very hard and unfortunately must recall several rows with my dad, but no other path forward worked at all, and in the end I stopped attempting to seize the wheel from him, gritted my teeth, and let it happen as he wished. I did keep a journal so I could rant whenever I really needed to.

Hope there is something of use in this post. best wishes.

garlicnutter Fri 24-Jun-11 01:10:26

I do agree, shandyleer, that the girlfriend's remarks are more about how SHE feels than about you particularly. I also agree you need to focus more on your internal feelings of self-worth and self-love. I know it's hard to do, all the more so when there are so many people needing your support, and this is why I suggested a counsellor.

When somebody lashes out at you verbally, it's far more likely to be about stuff going on in their own head than what they're actually saying to you. In this case, you know the woman's in deep distress and has many, many reasons to feel angry & upset. Once you have the detachment to see an attack for what it is (a generalised anger spill), it's fairly easy to listen to it calmly without feeling got at.

Having someone to dump on - if not a counsellor, then a friend who won't join in with your outrage & despair, but just listen - is probably essential for you right now. You're going through a hell of a lot. You might also try adding some soothing-type exercise into your week (swimming, yoga & dance work for me) and getting a meditation CD. You have to use the CD, though!

Take a few long steps back, get help where you need it, and remember to take care of yourself!

Deep breaths, and best wishes.

shandyleer Fri 24-Jun-11 20:13:45

Thanks again ladies. Your post is particularly insightful terrafermez, appreciate you taking the time to reply in such detail. Most of you here (and on AIBU, but in slightly more forthright fashion) are giving advice along the lines of "deep breath, cut some slack and focus elsewhere" so I'll try.smile.

FabbyChic Fri 24-Jun-11 21:49:30

Have you managed to get him to change his will yet?

Im sorry but I would talk more to your father and ask him if he is defending her because he agrees with what she has said?

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