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How do I cope with incredible anger in parent?

(22 Posts)
crumplebutton Wed 29-Jun-11 20:06:22

I've name changed for this.

My father is the angriest person I have met and I feel pathetic that I still can't cope with him and how he makes me feel at 45. He is 78 and well enough in himself except for high blood pressure funnily enough, lives on his own and has his own house still.

He is totally surrounded by paperwork and feels constantly overwhelmed by it all, most of it is unnecesarily convoluted but you can't tell him that. It's almost as though he has to cling on to it all otherwise he would have nothing to do.

Visiting or ringing is an utter nightmare, he just spews vitriol down the phone at me -not usually actually about me but all the banks, gas board, electricty, post office etc. You can't take anything from him because he doesn't think I'm capable of dealing with and he's always being hyper critical of everything and anything I do.

Saying all that, I do really care about him but he makes me heart race in fear when I have any contact with him and just hate feeling like this. I did see a counsellor years ago and she basically said that I need to change the way that I react and deal with him as he is not going to change his behaviour at his age. She said that he unwittingly knows how to press my 'crumple button' hence my user name for this.

Anyone had similar experiences or can shed any light on coping strategies?

Sorry for ramble and thanks for reading!

crumplebutton Wed 29-Jun-11 21:05:16

Anyone? or am I the only one with a deranged Pater confused!

Carrotsandcelery Wed 29-Jun-11 21:12:22

My father is very similar - I completely sympathise.

I love my dad dearly and he is adored by my dcs too. He does loads to help us as a family and is keen to spend time with us.

He does have a fierce temper though. If someone at the bank or the gas board etc winds him up he just explodes and if I am the one in the house when he blows then I am the one who will get it.

He can be extremely scary and doesn't hold back with his opinions.

As a child he was also very violent but he has not been like that since I have grown up.

People outwith the family don't understand the hold he has over me. I would find it very difficult to say no to him or to disagree with him. Friends over simplify it and say, "You are not a child anymore." or "Just tell him how unreasonable he is being" and stuff like that. They just don't get the complexity of it all.

I am sorry I don't have any coping strategies. I am very interested to hear what others suggest and what out of the suggestions are really possible for people in situations like ourselves.

HelloKlitty Wed 29-Jun-11 21:14:18

Oh I thnk you'l get some really good informed advice over on the relationship board....he sounds very dificult! Has he gotten worse lately?

crumplebutton Wed 29-Jun-11 21:19:21

Thank you for your replies!

He has always been very negative, pessimistic, miserable and angry (!) but since my mother died a decade or so ago he has got worse - I guess because she filtered out a lot of the bad stuff.

Carrots, I agree that people don't understand that you cannot reason with them or switch yourself off from being afraid.

Can I cut and paste this into relationships Klitty or do I have to type the whole thing again!

pawsnclaws Wed 29-Jun-11 21:46:23

Poor you. Can I just say that my dad is generally a very gentle soul but seems to get in a temper when his blood pressure isn't under control. He recently had to change medication and had a nightmare temper for a week or so until it started to take effect. Just an idea.

crumplebutton Wed 29-Jun-11 22:28:23

Might be worth checking, although if I ask him to calm down he seems unable to comprehend that he is even angry so getting him to recognise the problem might be a challenge especially at his time of life!

begonyabampot Wed 29-Jun-11 22:33:56

similar, i moved 400 miles (not because of him but it helps) away and will not allow him to have power or manipulate - he is not a pleasant man.

SagaciousCloud Thu 30-Jun-11 08:38:43

Don't know if this will help but, I heard an interview with Griff Rhys Jones a while ago, discussing his anger issues. Apparently he had no idea how much his ranting affected those people around him. His PA was very affected by his angry outbursts, but until this program Griff really didn't know this.

Perhaps your Father is the same, and the only way he will know is if you tell him! Perhaps a letter is the way to go.

I have to say that if it was my Father (and it was in the past, he has mellowed fortunately as he has got older), then I would reduce contact, as I did when my dad was in a ranty phase.

crumplebutton Thu 30-Jun-11 09:30:00

Sagacious, we had a huge row a few months back - the first in many years - and I did tell him how frightening he was when he was angry. He seemed appalled at the time and although the row was awful it did help to have told him how I felt.

I spoke to him last night and sadly he seems to have forgotten all his promises not to get so angry sad. I implored him to calm down but to no avail, he did say between blasts that he wasn't angry at me though (just the world in general).

Problem is it makes me not want to speak to or see him as I end up feeling so wretched. His ranty phases are unfortunately are a permanent state of affairs!

Playdohinthewashingmachine Thu 30-Jun-11 09:33:17

Send him a letter. Tell him all the things you love and like about him. Then tell him what you've said here - his ranting makes you not want to call or visit, and you're going to start acting on that if he doesn't sort it. Be clear that it doesn't matter if he is angry at you or at the world - it still affects you.

Could you do that?

crumplebutton Thu 30-Jun-11 10:39:13

After the argument I did send him a card. I didn't say that I was sorry for what I had said but I did say that I was sorry we had argued. Told him that I loved him and that I just wanted him to enjoy his life, his children and his grandchildren.

He was very glad that I sent the card but I cannot say that it changed his behaviour in any shape or form.

Thank you for replying everyone, it brought a lump to my throat that strangers can be so kind.

crumplebutton Thu 30-Jun-11 10:41:13

I didn't say that the anger didn't want me to call or visit so maybe I should make that more clearer to him?

I'm all upset again this morning at how sad his life is and how much it affects me sad. I just want him to be happy and enjoy his life, want him to want to be around us - he never visits - far too busy shouting at people hmm.

Playdohinthewashingmachine Thu 30-Jun-11 12:12:16

It is possible that he is too self-absorbed and too old to change.

It is also possible that he just doesn't realise - he thinks it is ok to sound off at you cos you are family, and you know he isn't angry at you so that makes it alright.

It would be good to make your feelings very clear to him, in case it is the latter.

But he may not be really capable of change, or may not want to. In which case your only option is to change how you react to him and how much time you spend with him. Which is hard, and sad, I know.

begonyabampot Thu 30-Jun-11 14:13:16

it isn't nice. I'm fed up at times with my husband ranting a bit - at traffic, workmates, travel airports in particular. he doesn't seem to realise that though it's not directed at me, i'm his captive audience who has to listen to and deal with his displeaure. Really pisses me off and I end up having to be extra calm and non judgemental and ranty to balance it up.

crumplebutton Thu 30-Jun-11 16:27:02

Yes definitely too self absorbed and old to change I fear.

He doesn't have anyone else to off load onto except for me which I find very hard as I'm crap dealing with anger (mine or other peoples).

Think I need to develop a thicker skin. Must be very hard being married to an angry person begonyabampot! Not sure how my mum ever coped tbh.

begonyabampot Thu 30-Jun-11 17:36:35

He's actually a great husband, I'm very lucky - just sounds off sometimes when I'm the captive audience. My father on the other hand...

orangescissors Thu 30-Jun-11 17:39:41

I have the same problem with my dad, and he's 85 and I'm 51!

Luckily my mother is still around, but she has her own health problems, with hip replacements etc so I help out a fair bit. My dad's health is reasonable (apart from a few problems with mobility which he is too bloody minded to give in to) but otherwise he is an absolute nightmare. He is opinionated on so many subjects that people dare not bring up or it starts him off on a rant, if you stop listening he starts shouting, but the worst of all is that he can be very aggressive.

He can be particulary aggressive to my mother, blaming her for anything and everything and I know he's hit her in the past. My relationship with him actually improved after the most awful, horrendous row I had with him about 10 years ago, where I threatened to cut all contact (and did for a while) but I am always conscious of my mother, who gets very upset by rows etc so I tend to tread more lightly with him than I would like to. She always defends him and if pushed, will nearly always take his side in an argument.

He is 85, he's always been the same and he will never, ever change. The only way I have found to cope and have some sort of relationship is to detach emotionally from him. I have done this, I go through the motions, I am a good daughter, but I am no longer emotionally involved.

Hope this helps and doesn't sound too hopeless!

singforsupper Thu 30-Jun-11 17:45:34

My guess is the feeling you have is the same as you felt when you were a child. Your counsellor should have dealt with this problem far more sensitively. It's not about you changing, it's about you understanding that he is, essentially, being abusive. He can't help it (I will be shot for saying this on MN), he probably has narcissistic personality disorder which means he can't see the impact that it has. The world revolves around him.

It is very hard to realise when people are abusive, especially when we have spent a long time with them. Try reading Beverly Engel's 'The emotionally abusive relationship'. It will also help with future relationships, to disengage when or if other people treat you this way.

I was told the same thing, to toughen up, to change the way I react, but it's impossible to do unless you understand the motivation that drives a person like that. My Dad was the same too.

begonyabampot Thu 30-Jun-11 17:49:03

I always clashed with my dad and wouldn't let him walk over me but it was emotionally draining and I also had to detach - it help that I live 400 miles away. He wears everyone down and no-one wants to spend any time with him and his negativity and manipulation. My siblings look out for him and spend some time with him now mum is dead but it is only out out obligation, none of us like him or love him really - it is very sad that he has ended up like this. It scares me to think you can have this kind of relationship with your children, especially when I look at my own who are still young.

crumplebutton Thu 30-Jun-11 17:53:46

singforsupper, I agree he is being abusive although not maliciously if you see what I mean. I know that he loves us, but uses me as his emotional punchbag. I told him that in our row and he just snorted derisively. The world definitely revolves around him, he is not interested in anyone or anything else but weirdly he spends a lot of time trying to sort out his affairs to benefit us in the future.

I will take a look at that book thank you.

Begony, I look at my children and frequently ask them if I scare them - the thought of them feeling about me the way I do about him terrifies me.

singforsupper Fri 01-Jul-11 10:11:14

According to the book, most women tend to fall into a victim pattern after being exposed to emotional abuse as children (whether directed at them, or witnessed). It is quite likely you are not scaring your children but doing the opposite - allowing them to see you as passive. Whether that becomes a problem or not I don't know.

It sounds as though your Dad wants you to run around after him, as your mother did before. He's drawing you into his abusive pattern. Try to disengage for a while and see what happens. When he gets angry with you, assert yourself briefly and walk away. The ladies on the 'support for those in emotionally abusive relationships' thread may have some ideas on how to do that.

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