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What do you do? One toxic parent

(8 Posts)
onequestion Wed 05-Oct-11 19:51:20

I have namechanged for this as I think it outs me a bit to friends on here.

Basically my father can be pretty verbally abusive and has been all my life. To my mother and siblings too, but I seem to bear the brunt. It has been a really toxic relationship for me and done a lot of damage - I'm too fat and ugly for him, I make a mess of everything, all I've ever done is make work for him, etc. etc.

It took me many years to move out and also not be scared of him and yet I still have a lot of nightmares about him and pretty low self esteem. However, I have a fantastic relationship with my mum.

The problem is that I can hardly bear to have a relationship with him and in fact wouldn't except that he and my mum are still together (despite him not always being very nice to her) and that isn't going to change. He's retired so always around so basically if I want to see her (which I very much do), I have to see him.

Sometimes he's fine, although I'm always on tenterhooks, but I've come to stay for a couple of days to help my Mum out with a fair she's running and he has just blown up at me because I didn't answer the phone when it rang (had my hands full). Proper shouting, looking furious with me. He does this over the littlest things and despite the fact that I'm 35 I burst into tears as soon as he left the room. That's pretty common.

I just don't know what to do anymore. He scares the crap out of me; I'd be happy never seeing him again, but I can't just not come home. I know my mum is sympathetic to me and is willing to occasionally travel to see my alone but she is getting older and finding it hard to make the long journey. She hates that he does this but is scared of him herself. Is anyone else negotiating this issue - where you love and like one parent and find the other impossible? I just feel so sad that I'm a grown woman and still having a problem that blighted my childhood. I'm so ready to move on from all that.

Sorry this is long blush. I needed a rant and would love to know if anyone can suggest a solution.

storytopper Wed 05-Oct-11 21:03:37

Sorry that your dad has blighted your childhood and is still making you so unhappy at age 35.

Your dad is mostly at fault but your mother should have protected you from this. However, if she hasn't in the past, she's not likely to tackle him now.

How well do you get on with your siblings? Do you discuss the situation with them? What is their opinion of the situation?

spottypancake Wed 05-Oct-11 21:07:17

You need to cut yourself off from him emotionally so that he can't hurt you anymore.

My parents are like yours, but fortunately divorced.

onequestion Wed 05-Oct-11 21:16:41

Thank you story. I do agree my mother should have protected me, but ultimately I think she hasn't out of fear of him. But it does make me sad. I wish she had done but I've had to accept it's beyond her.

My siblings - well, we don't talk about it I suppose, because it upsets everyone and they get angry at me more often than not because they want to pretend none of this exists. They don't see my parents very much at all, but I haven't been able to cut myself off in the same way. We've come to a sort of silent agreement that we won't discuss it and I fear a big family argument if I bring it up.

Spotty, any idea how I do cut myself off from him emotionally? Because I'd pay someone for that type of knowledge wink

I'm glad your parents are divorced. I imagine that can be a huge blessing in some situations.

Thank you both for replying.

beatenbyayellowteacup Wed 05-Oct-11 21:39:30

What is it exactly that upsets you? Is it because you feel like an inadequate little girl again? Is it because you are frustrated because he doesn't treat you with respect as an adult and he is plain rude - you wouldn't take this from anyone else?

If it's because you are a little girl then that needs exploring. If it's because it's so frustrating that he is rude, then maybe standing up to him as an adult (not rudely, just firmly) will assert your own rights.

I think the (first) key to disconnecting emotionally is to understand why he upsets you.

He sounds like an inadequate, self-absorbed, unkind man. And yes, your mother has enabled him to treat you so poorly, and this has affected you into your adult life. It's important to lay the blame where the blame belongs - fairly and squarely with them.

Maybe bringing everything out into the open with your family is an important step as well. It's a very real part of your family. The fact that you feel they get angry with you is sad. Do you feel like you are bearing this on your own? Your posts sound a bit like you feel responsible for your family - not making your siblings unhappy or angry, you absolve your mother for not protecting you because she wasn't up to it...where are your rights in all of this?

storytopper Wed 05-Oct-11 22:12:08

Teacup is right. You are being kind to your mother by continuing to see her in the family home, but you aren't helping yourself by allowing your father to erode your self-esteem. Do you have other aspects in your life that make you feel good about yourself such as a job, other interests or relationships?

What can you do about your father?

-Challenge him about how he treats you and your mother - only you will know how aggressive he is likely to get and whether you feel strong enough to cope with it.

-Continue to visit the your mother but resolve to ignore him. You must know yourself that his comments are ridiculous, e.g. telling you off for not answering the phone quickly enough.

-Visit your mother in her neighbourhood, but outside of the family home - meet up at a local cafe or somewhere like that. If your dad doesn't like it - too bad.

You owe your father nothing. Stay in touch with your mother if that's what you want, but don't let it ruin your life - you deserve better after all these years.

Positivechanges Wed 05-Oct-11 23:45:14

I used to have a very similar relationship with my father however in the past 12 months our relationship has changed beyond recognition.

He used to make me cry when he said I was fat, a waste of f...ing space, full of s.... In fact every time I saw him it ended in tears. My mother never stood up for me because she has to live with him.

My attitude towards him has now changed. He still tells me how fat I am. He still sniggers when I say actually I'm the perfect weight for my height. He still swears at me and is generally abusive. I no longer rise to it. I just smirk at him and let it wash over me and I can honestly say it no longer upsets me.

I have realised that he has the problem - not me. He is the weird one. He is the insecure one. He is the one full of s.... Although I have always realised this, I had previously allowed it to upset me but by looking at him with pity (and calmly confirming my point but not retaliating if he continues) and just not rising to it or allowing it to upset me has changed our relationship beyond belief.

I no longer hate him. I actually quite like him (despite the fact he is very abusive).

Good luck - it's not a nice position to be in but you only have one set of parents and it is worth trying to build a relationship with them

Orellia Wed 05-Oct-11 23:58:43

Why can't your meet your mother in neutral environments? Or she can come to your house?

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