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Advice about metally ill father, should I go and see him?

(23 Posts)
bluecheeseforbreakfast Tue 17-Dec-13 15:34:08

I am looking for some opinions as to what is a reasonable way to go forward with this situation.

The backgroud is that my dad is schizophrenic and an alcoholic, he also smokes lots of dope. He had these issues to varrying degrees whilst I was growing up and he has bad times and good times as an adult.

My memories of my dad from childhood are not happy ones, he was manipulative, agresive and petty with my mother although he was mostly nice to me and my brother the few occasions he saw us and was well. I was expossed to some really scary things when he was ill, he would say that he was made of metal and as I look just like him the authorities must have engineered me to trick him into thinking he was real.

There were times when I'd wait at the bottom of the street on a day that he'd said he would come (no one had a phone) I'd wait all day for him, so excited to see him and I would be so disapointed that he didn't come.

I understand that some of the times he was a crap father because he was ill but there were stretches of time where he wasn't ill and many years where his scitzophrenia was treated so that he was relatively "normal"

His mental health issues were triggered by drug taking when I was a baby. I feel angry that he had a little baby at home and he choose to go out and take drugs that consequently fucked up his mind.

There have been many times where he has chosen alcohol over me, I have come to except that alcohol is and will always be more important than his children.

I had a baby (a year ago tomorrow!) it was only when I have see how amazing my dp is and how he loves our ds more than anything in the entire world that I have fully realised how fucking rubbish my father was and is.

I was due to go and see my dad in the summer, I called the day before I was die to arrive and my dad was drunk and said he'd been fighting so had black eyes and was barred form all the pubs in town (usually we meet at a weatherspoons for breakfast so he can drink, his flat is pretty vile to visit especially with a newly crawling 6 month old) I said I wouldn't be coming, it was a 5 hour drive and we had car issue so I blamed it on that but truthfully it was because I didn't think my dad deserved to see my ds or me and I didn't want to expose ds to him.

My aunt commented on an unrelated facebook status yesterday "are you going to bother to come and see your dad this time your in the UK?" (we don't live in the UK but are staying in the UK, 5 hours away from my dad, over christmas) I replied "no, not this time ds's wouldn't be able to cope with any more change in his routine!" aunt said "oh nice" I said "but he knows where I am!" aunt said "I'll tell him that he can come and visit when he is out of hospital but I don't think he would be welcome"

I had no idea he was in hospital, I imagine he has been sectioned again, or maybe going through alcohol detox.

I have spent years trying to make an effort with my dad, I have been to visit him 4/5 times a year and often been told he doesn't want to see me as he is getting drunk, he wouldn't see me the day I went to see him just before I was moving to Australia for a year, so he knew that he wouldn't see me for a year, but getting pissed was more important to him.

I never ever want me ds to feel the feelings of abandonment and worthlessness that my dad has made me feel. I don't actually want ds to know that he shares 1/4 of his dna with someone like my dad. I have had huge worries about my own genetic inheritence.

The only thing I can think that my ds can get out of a relationship with my father is the anti drugs/excessive alcohol use advert that he gives.

I don't feel like my father has given me enough love/care/time/support for me to have any energy or willing to help him. I want to focus on my son and my relationship (I stuggle with bad seperation anxiety regarding my dp, I feel like the little girl at the end of the road when he is away for a long time).

Am I a cold and heartless, selfish daughter? wwyd?

stowsettler Tue 17-Dec-13 15:45:05

What a sad situation. Personally in your shoes, I'd be putting the needs of my own child first.
I'm not unsympathetic to your father's plight; to have lived such a car-crash of a life must be utterly tragic. However you are right to focus on your child and your relationship. They are your future. If your father's condition ever improved to the extent that you felt able to include him in your life again - well that's a bridge you must cross when it happens. Myself, I'd never reject it out of hand, but it doesn't sound like he's there yet.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Dec-13 15:50:01

You are a responsible parent in keeping your child away from him.

I would stay well away and keep any children you have away from your dad (he has really been no dad at all to you ever has he?) as well. He is not a good role model for them and remains a toxic parent to you.

Your aunt should stay out of it as well, your non relationship with him is not her business nor should it be her concern. Her meddling is just that.

He has and continues to self medicate his own problems. Some parents really should not be allowed any access to their grandchildren.

It is NOT your fault your dad is like this, it truly is not.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Dec-13 15:53:09

You need to come to the realisation as well that he will not change for you or anyone else. This is who he really is. It is not your fault that this person is not the dear and kind dad you so want him to be. It is okay as well not to keep wanting his approval any more, not that he'd ever freely gave or would give this anyway. His primary relationship is still with drink and drugs.

LEMoncehadacatcalledSANTA Tue 17-Dec-13 16:01:17

Your aunt sounds like that word that you sometimes get on autocorrect when you type in aunt!

It sounds like you had a really dificult time in your childhood - i totally understand why you would find it to be around your dad just now. Your aunt was out of order - and should have told you your dad was in hospital and why, then you could have made a decision if you wanted to vist, and then she should have bloody respected your decision not to visit.

OK, so it wasn't your dad's fault he had schizophrenia, and maybe this contributed to the drug taking, of they fed off each other but one thing is for sure - none of it was your fault!

It sounds like you have made a good life for youself and your family and thats quite an acheivement, many people can't move on from such a difficult childhood. Maybe you would benefit from some counselling, then you can make a decision re what to do about further contact and be ok wiht it, I can see that you absolutely shouldn't feel guilty for not visiting and be at peace with your decisions.

Your aunt can keep her beak out!

Joysmum Tue 17-Dec-13 16:01:54

My mum cut contact with her mum because of her mental issues. I never met her, she's now dead. I don't regret not having met her.

I've cut contact with my grandfather and step-grandmother. I don't regret it, me and my family aren't missing out on them because they wouldn't bring enough into our lives to make it worth the negatives.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 16:02:50

Am I a cold and heartless, selfish daughter? wwyd?

Absolutely not.

But I would go and see him if I were you. For your sake, if not for his.

IrishBloodEnglishHeart Tue 17-Dec-13 16:06:58

You are not cold and heartless, definitely not.

My cousin has recently gone no contact with her mother who is a long term alcoholic. It has taken years of hurt to get to this point, it is hard to cut off a parent even when they haven't been much of a one to you. Lots of guilt there. However, it comes down to self-preservation and doing what is right for you. If you don't want to see him, don't. Ignore your aunt, it is very wrong of her to make such comments. Look after your baby and yourself.

bluecheeseforbreakfast Tue 17-Dec-13 16:24:02

Thank you so much for your replies, it is so hard to find unbiased support or opinions, my mother is angry about the way my dad treated her and me and d-bro, my dad's family understandable are worried about him and want him to have something to look forward to (a visit from me and the baby) My dp is angry that my dad was so crap when I was younger and it's too much to go into with my friends.

Thank you LEM, I have a fairly ordinary life, I don't want drama or excitement, just a happy loving home for my child and the occasional treat smile My mum spent my teenage years worrying that I would find a dp just like my dad but I always kneww that the most important feature in a dp was that he was the exact opposite of my father. I am happy to say my dp is! My brother is the high flyer out of the 2 of us, he has an amazing career, travels all over the world, he is sprty and handsom.

In terms of the genetic side of things I was chatting to my cosin (on dad's side) we were laughing that my dad would be the last man in the entire world that you would choose to be a sperm doner but my brother is everything you would hope for in a son, so I try to remeber that my ds looks like my dad but he also looks like me and my d-bro and he is just as likely to have my d-bro's life or my lift than he is to have my dad's life.

In a way I want to write a letter and tell my dad how I feel but I think that his MH is too fragile at the moment to deal with the harsh truth. I am much more inclined to let things lie for now.

My dad has had some fairly sane/sober times in his life, if and when he reaches that stage again I will take ds to meet him.

Part of the problem was that I kneww that my dad was "ill" when I was a child, but I had no idea people could be ill in their minds, I assumed he had cancer or a tummy bug or a cold, no one explained to me properly what the matter was. If my son is old enough to understand I will explain to him and tell him it is a bloody stupid idea to take hulucinagenic drugs!!

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Dec-13 17:37:25

I would not write him a letter as it could well be a wasted effort on your part. He will not likely acknowledge any wrong doing on his part and could even use your words to verbally abuse you with.

A good rule of thumb here is that if he/she is too difficult/toxic for you to deal with then he/she is certainly too toxic for your both vulnerable and defenceless child. Your dad has not altered his ways and has indeed continued to self medicate his mental health problems using drink and drugs.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 18:03:30

If you found out where he is, you could ask the staff whether it is safe to take your child.

bluecheeseforbreakfast Tue 17-Dec-13 18:14:06

It isn't so much just if it is safe or not, I'd imagine a quick visit would be safe even if I had to keep my super wiggle baby on my knee the whole time.

It would be a 10 hour round trip on the train. We are in the UK for just over a week, just the travel time would take up 2 days, then a day to see my dad and crazy aunt. I am lucky to have lots of lovely friends and family in my home town and to be honest I'd much rather spend the time with them.

The other issue is cost, it would be the price of the return train journey, taxis to and from a hotel/the hospital, a hotel for the night, dinner out, we will have no car seat, ds's routine will be disturbed.

I don't think ds will get anything out of the trip, I don't want to go, dp will do what I want regarding seeing my father but he would rather spend with my maternal family. My dad would love us to go, and really me and my brother (who never ever goes to see our dad which is more than fair enough!) are all he ever did or made, he never had a real job never mind a carear, never had his own home, hasn't had relationships since he was in his early 20s. I just need to work out in my head if my fathers joy at seeing us outweighs the time and money (both of which we could spare but have ither things we'd prefere to spend the time/money on) that we would have to put in.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 18:18:46

Would you ds appreciate a photo later in life, of him and his granddad? Maybe?

It is quite likely that your father would not experience much joy from seeing you. He might from seeing his grandchild? Maybe not.

One horrible thought. It is possible that you may not get a chance to see him again.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Dec-13 18:20:33

The cons outweigh the pros markedly here.

You do not want to go and he is not worth all the effort required in getting there. Indeed your time would be more productive spending it with your own friends. You need positive and life affirming role models around you.

"My dad would love us to go". That sounds like your mad aunt talking, its not your dad saying this is it?.

Even a quick visit is fraught with both problem and difficulty. What would you get from such a meeting anyway?. Why would you want to see him at all, I fear that you would be disappointed yet again by him.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 18:25:33

Yes, she is likely to end up disappointed with the meeting, as in yet again, she may feel that he lets her down.

But a situation like this is about giving as well as receiving iyswim.

"He is not worth all the effort..."
That is harsh.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Dec-13 18:27:34

Harsh yet but apposite. People should protect themselves from dysfunctional relatives.

This would not be tolerated from a friend, family are no different and the person driving contact now seems to be the OPs aunt for her own selfish reasons (enabling).

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 18:29:15

family are no different from friends?

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Dec-13 18:31:12

In this respect, yes. I would not tolerate this from a friend, family are no different.

Again the aunt is driving contact here for her own selfish reasons, not the OP. The aunt is certainly not acting in the OPs best interests.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 18:53:20

Family are never the same as friends to me. Close friends do come close though.
Would I go for this dad? Yes. A close friend. Yes. Other friends, probably not. No.

IamGluezilla Tue 17-Dec-13 18:55:33

I agree about the aunt. In the normal order of things an ill parent will be looked after by their children, only if they are of your Dad's standard does the task fall to the parent's siblings.

Your aunt probably feels that she is picking up your slack and is trying to offload. Interesting how your brother is let off the hook, but that's by the bye.

When you examine her motives it shows her primary interest is not you, not even your Dad, but herself.

Meerka Tue 17-Dec-13 19:03:29

I would suggest seeing your father as long as it's not too far out of your way or too difficult - and given that you're only here a week and its 2 days out of the week, it is too difficult.

If you come for longer or a different place then make the effort. But as it is, let it lie.

As someone posted though,it is possible that he will not live much longer. This is something you would have to live with; but he could also go on for years. I do think you have to put yourself and your immediate family, plus your own wishes, first. Send photos, sure. That's a reasonable compromise.

In summary, act with compassion as long as it's not at the expense of your own well being and in this situation, I think it would be at the expense of your family to go and visit him.

gobbynorthernbird Tue 17-Dec-13 19:06:04

I have a similar issue, although my DC is a lot older than yours. I really wish, for her sake and mine, that I hadn't pushed for a relationship. It has been damaging and depressing for us all.
Well, except my dad, but he doesn't give a shit.

bluecheeseforbreakfast Tue 17-Dec-13 20:39:51

I havn't been told of any life threatening issues, my sad is only just 50, but I guess alcohol/drugs can have a big impact on life expectancy.

I don't think ds would benefit from a photo, in our direct family I have adopted siblings, a step father, ds has a great-step-grandfather who is ds's middle name sake, there are so many fantastic people that if my biological father died before my ds was able to understand his existence I dont think ds would miss a photo.

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