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Bolt from the blue

(43 Posts)
ChortledTheLion Thu 02-Mar-17 23:29:15

So the background to this is that I have been NC with my dad for nearly 35 years. He and my mother split up crimoniously and he was violent towards her in the final days.

One of my earliest memories is her picking me up out of bed when I was about three or four, in the middle of the night after had had hit and she fled as if for her life through the night, pausing only to get me. She ran a few roads away to the house of an older lady and her daughter who ran the nursery I attended from home.

Various bits of twattishness ensued- going bankrupt to avoid paying child support and ensuring that the house my mum and I lived in was repossessed as part of the bankruptcy, refusing to see me without his new partner even when ordered by the court (after a social worker sent into observe the situation reported that his new partner was emotionally abusive to me in the sw's presence and in front of my dad), getting married on my 13th birthday and sending me a piece of cake through the post, sending me letters about his DSD's pony and family holidays to Tenerife whilst refusing to pay child support etc.

He tried contacting me fairly half heartedly a few times over the course of the years. Used to sit outside my secondary school in his car watching for me, got his partner (who worked in. City centre shop) to approach me once, emailed me when Friends Reunited was first a thing, called me after somehow obtaining my number after my mum died (I suspect the humanist celebrant I engaged for the service was socially connected to him and passed on the number, either that or a school friend of my mum did).

I did make a more sustained attempt at contact about 10 years ago, to see if their was anything there to be either salvaged or ignited- met a few times over the course of a three or four months. Realized that few if any of the circumstances of the relationship breaking down had changed and until things did shift, it would just go round and round. It was also obvious he was serially cheating on his partner, as he had done on my mum, and as an adult, I was very uncomfortable with that. (To be clear, it broke down when I was about 7, and he & my mum became extremely acrimonious, and after he refused to see me without his partner despite the court ordering that contact should be me and him only. When I got back in touch with him his stance was that it was much more my fault than his that things hadn't worked out then, my mum had practiced parental alienation until I rejected him and I should have resisted that harder).

Anyway, tonight DH came home from work, and after the initial pleasantries where exchanged and dinner decided on, he sat me down to tell me something obviously fairly serious. Upshot being that someone from kind of search/detective agency had phoned his best friend looking for me, on behalf of my dad, as 'her dad isn't that well". DH's mate declined to pass on any details but took number saying he'd pass it on and we'd be in touch if appropriate. My guess is that it's because DH's mate was his best man at the wedding, one of the witnesses and the search person got the details off the wedding certificate (we moved since getting married).

Anyway, I'm not sure what to do. I've had a lot of therapy last few years and have come to terms with things pretty well.

To be honest, I'm a bit sceptical about whether he is ill/how ill he is. Partly because well, a search person would say something like that to get a connected person to relent re passing on details, and because my dad was an inveterate liar.

If he is ill, I do remember saying to my aunts years back that I wouldn't have the heart to say no to a deathbed request. Her response was "That's just because you don't want to be that kind of person. You don't have to do it". I was a bit taken aback by that, but now that it might have happened, I realise partly what she meant by that I think- if he does that, it's just all about him again, not about you, he had plenty years to give rebuilding a relationship with you a decent shake, this is just about putting you in a position where you can't say no to what he wants (he is very manipulative- also very charismatic, machiavellian and good looking so gets away with it with many people, especially women).

My current thought is to get DH to phone the search woman back, ask her to stop contacting people (in case she chases up various aunts, cousins, school friends etc). And maybe to get to ask point blank "How ill is he?".

Beyond that, I don't know. My first feeling was profound sense of relief that all the darkness that started that night my mum ran into the night with me might finally be gone for good-I've always had a sense of foreboding that he might make my world come crashing down again somehow, although therapy, good friends and a good husband have eased that feeling. I know I don't want to get involved with his second family in any way- with one exception, they have generally been pretty awful to me, I was always pretty much Cinderella in their eyes, and I know his wife would be very against me having any place in his life, as she always has been. My other feelings aren't that apparent yet, although I can tell emotion is running quite high within myself, so spent a bit of time tonight clearing decks of stuff to me done Friday-Monday. Partly in case of possible mercy dashes, but mostly in case a lot of old deep distress NC emotions rears up.

If he really is at death's door, I would probably be able to go see him briefly, on his own, to say goodbye. Anything other than that, I don't think I want to face it. I was used to this kind of high drama when I was growing up (running into night, homelessness, kidnapping one time, disappearances, he tried to have my mother committed once). I realise he is probably a narcissist and enjoys being the centre of a swirling pool,of destructive chaos. I've worked hard not to have that kind of life, to heal the damage that an early life like that did and get a good, kind, enjoyable happy life together. I don't want to be sucked back into the drama.

How do I handle this?

ChortledTheLion Thu 02-Mar-17 23:33:17

I am certain that I owe DH's mate a good few drinks next time we see him. He handled it very well and has been very supportive since (he was aware of the background circumstances to a reasonable extent in case my dad pitched up at the wedding).

MilesHuntsWig Thu 02-Mar-17 23:35:25

Oh wow. That's a lot for you to process.

I think I'd ask my DH to find out more about the actual situation before deciding TBH. In parallel I'd try to work out what's best for you out of this situation. He clearly doesn't care that much as he's demonstrated repeatedly, so you need to think hard about what you need. Is it closure? Is it distance?

Sorry- I don't think there's an easy answer to this. Good luck. flowers

Kr1stina Thu 02-Mar-17 23:39:27

So your first reaction, on hearing that he was perhaps dying, was one of relief ? I think that says it all. Why would you want to see him? How would it help you ?

You owe him nothing.

He's had years to apologise to you , try to make amends . He's never done it. That's the kind of person he is.

GoodLuckTime Thu 02-Mar-17 23:39:48

Er, stay away? Or at least consider it.

OP it sounds like you have done an amazing job of overcoming and coming to terms with a very difficult childhood.

What's important here is you. Prioritise yourself. Let the feelings come (and go). Explore what you need to.

Consider your options.

It is possible, indeed reasonable, probably even advisable you just ignore / stay away.

You don't have to visit him even if he is dying, and that doesn't make you a bad person. He has treated you, his child, terribly, repeatedly. You owe him nothing.

The only reason to visit is if you think it is right for you.

Otherwise, you can just stay back, and wait for the confirmation after he has died (if he is dying).

You sound aces. Look after yourself flowers

ferriswheel Thu 02-Mar-17 23:40:23

Omg. That sounds awful.

First of all, cuddle up to your husband and concentrate on the here and now.

Second of all, I can kind of relate to your mum, small children and an emotionally and mentally abusive partner.

Third of all, my friend told me about a scene in the film The Holiday. Apparently there's a woman who says something like, 'you don't stay friends with a guy who you caught with a girl.'

For me that translates to, 'you don't stay friends with a guy who was okay about treating you like crap.'

Lastly, obviously it is up to you, but I hope you don't meet up with him.

And very lastly, but either way I'm sure you'll be okay.

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 02-Mar-17 23:47:59

Your have it right about him loving being the centre of attention in a swirling pool of chaos. I am sure that in his mind there will be some Oscar worthy death bed performance of him coming good after all these years and you tearfully forgiving him and saying "I love you Daddy" before he finally and peacefully slips away.

Lets face it, even if you did go, that is not how it would happen at all.

I think that the idea of your DH calling the detective person and telling them to fuck off is the right one. Telling them that you have no contact by your choice, that you do not want him to have your contact details and that they are not to bother you or your family and friends again.

Then see if you can get in with a counsellor asap to help you process all this.

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 02-Mar-17 23:50:54

Oh and a thought occured that this is far less about him wanting to see but more I suspect about him hating the fact that you couldnt give a toss about him or his shenanigans. That you are not in the least bit bothered or affected by his scheming, narcissists hate that more than anything. They are OWED attention and love by everybody, and anyone who doesnt give them that is like an itch that they cant scratch.

ChortledTheLion Thu 02-Mar-17 23:53:13

Thank you. All your responses are very reassuring to me. I can take my time and work through this- there is no need for me to be bounced into a snap decision.

Must say, DH has been amazing tonight. We cuddled up and watched lots of funny/cute videos as well as talking about things for a bit.

These were the two best videos:

basket of purring kittens
Japanese little old lady who lives on a cherry blossom mountain with her two cats, both of whom study by distance learning

Lots more cat videos tomorrow I think.

I think that thinking about staying loyal to the memory of my mum, will help me work out what is best for me in a roundabout way. It always hurt her to see me distressed, and because I never wanted to hurt her, that would help me not to hurt myself (back when I was a bit more fucked up by my past). That will be a handy bulwark against the emotional,blackmail aspects of this.

It is though isn't it? It's emotional blackmail again. You spend most of your time round healthy people and you forget what it looks/feels like a bit.

HumpMeBogart Thu 02-Mar-17 23:54:46

You could ask your DH to ask the detective where he is. If he's genuinely at death's door, he'll be in a hospice or hospital. Could you / your DH then call them and ask for details of his condition? (I don't know if they'd provide that information over the phone?) Once you know the actual circumstances you might feel more able to make a decision.
Whatever you do, I hope you'll be ok. You sound very strong and like you have lots of RL support. I read the start of your post with tears in my eyes (poss hormonal!) - what a horrific time you and your brave mum went through. flowerswinex

HumpMeBogart Thu 02-Mar-17 23:57:45

Forgot to add - do prepare yourself for more nastiness. It's one thing saying a quiet goodbye to this man; bear in mind that he may want to blame you for things in his life having gone wrong, or even say horrible things about your mum. I think if you so see him, you might need to be prepared for something like that.

If you find out he's genuinely very ill and where he is, could you write him a letter?

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 00:03:28

I realise that there might be even more twistedness at play here- this is close to the 8th anniversary of my mum's death. He know's when she died and he also knows I quit my job and moved back to my hometown to look after mum in her last few months (she had breast cancer). It could be coincidence, but it could be the thumbscrews coming out.

HumpMe, PyongYang Kr1stina and Ferris- you are all right, once a narcissist, always a narcissist. Proceed with caution.

Miles and Goodluck thank you for reminding me to put myself first in this. I need to take my time.

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 00:11:45

The scary thing was that after the initial relief, there was still that little girl elation- Daddy loves me after all. Except he doesn't. He loves himself. No-one else, never has.

I do believe he feels feelings of love when he's around me, but it doesn't mean anything, or translate into anything like loyalty, protectiveness, concern. It's just a pleasant feeling, like having a glass of wine or something.

I did also feel a little bit like I'd won a game of chicken. He blinked first. Which is ridiculous. Your feelings about your parents really need not to be as juvenile as that.

My life really is very far from his, in a lot of ways. I don't think anyone who knows me would blame me for not seeing him.

I do feel a bit sad that he might be dying. But not anymore than if I see on the news that someone has died, or hearing that someone's pet is ill.

Was more worried initially when DH started telling me about it that his mate's dad had taken a turn for the worse (he had a stroke last year). That was my first thought when he said his friend called, I was like "Oh no" because I thought I knew what was coming, and DH's mate will,be gutted, because he is really close to his dad. Their relationship is what father and child is supposed to be like.

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 00:24:47

The thread about stock phrases for narcissist just explained why it felt like a game of chicken.

I just need not to engage with this. I've been a bit worried about why I'm not more upset, as if I am some sort of monster. But I'm not, I just know the drill. And I stopped playing that game ages ago.

I think I will binge watch a box set this weekend and just try to move on. Might get back in touch with the counsellor who helped me after mum died if I still feel a bit wobbly come Monday.

Thanks for helping me work this out. It is pretty simple really. It's just not getting caught up in the echoes of the past.

Kr1stina Fri 03-Mar-17 00:36:49

He's never been any kind of parent to you. In fact he's brought a lot of grief and pain to your life and to those you love.

You are not a monster to have emotionally detached from him. It was probably essential for your emotional wellbeing.

So it's just fine to say " that's a shame ". Because he's not really anything to you now.

And because you have been drawn onto his games so many times before, you are tired of it . You have left that part of your life behind and moved onto something better and happier.

Having cancer / whatever doesn't make him a different person. It just makes him a narc with cancer. You don't get a personality transplant with the diagnosis.

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 00:50:25

That's true.

HumpMeBogart Fri 03-Mar-17 01:02:05

Good for you, OP.

Just a thought but maybe write a letter anyway - for you NOT to him, saying goodbye and explaining why you're not visiting. It might be helpful to have it down the line if you feel any regrets. I'm a big believer in saying goodbye to things and people - even the nasty ones. An acknowledgement that they've gone and you're moving on, sort of thing. Feel free to ignore if this doesn't chime for you!

And enjoy your box set smilebrew

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 01:15:54

Wrote this letter and posted it under a previous NN about a month ago HumpMe. I wonder if I had an inkling of what was coming.

Have written him various (usually angry) letters over the years to help process my feelings. Never sent them. Posting that one on here in January did feel like like a huge step forward. Especially given how sympathetic the responses where- they took away a lot of the hot, bitter shame I had buried alongside so many of my feelings.

The first person I really ever spoke to about it in real life was a guy called Gordon I met at University. Was very drawn to him, but it wasn't sexual. Turned out his background was similarly screwed up in extent but in a different way. I remember nearly freaking out at a party for some reason, Gordon noticing, taking me to his room so I could be somewhere quieter. And we talked most of the night, and then he held me as I cried. Just a hug. Gordon, if you are out there, thank you. You saved my life that night. I was headed in a bad direction and finally being able to talk to someone about it turned me round. Especially as so many other people might have tried to take advantage of that and you didn't. I remember you said to me "He doesn't deserve you in his life". Thank you. That was what I needed to hear so badly.

And thank you everyone who has told me that same thing tonight. It's what I need to hear tonight too.

shadowfax07 Fri 03-Mar-17 01:30:10

OP, I feel for you, as I can imagine my father doing exactly the same thing in a few years time, my parents were divorced acrimoniously too, and my mum later died of breast cancer.

I remember talking to a close friend who was having a hard time with her overbearing father, and she asked me how I coped with my father, as she hated hers. I told her that for me, the opposite of love wasn't hate, it was indifference. He had been indifferent to me for so many years (he sent me a postcard and some cheap sandals from his honeymoon when he married his OW, we didn't even know he was getting remarried), that I was finally indifferent to him and his wishes.

He was invited to my elder niece's christening, he was a complete stranger to me.

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 01:43:30

That's it Shadow- the pain's gone, the fear's gone, the anger's gone. There are a few shadows and echoes of the past (if you don't mind me putting it that way). There's just a mixture of "Eh, this again?" and "Thank fuck this is nearly over".

I'm a bit worried he's not that ill, and might turn up on DH's mates doorstep having found out the address from the search woman. But then he'd only be embarrassing himself really. And then I'd just be a bit mortified for me and annoyed that DH's mate is being bothered with this when he's got enough going on (sees his dad most days to help with rehab/give his mum a break). And my dad has been so keen to paint himself as a pillar of the community/church type the last decade or two, I doubt he'll want to crack the facade now. Plus he's too lazy/self-centred.

Sorry about your dad by the way Shadow.

PyongyangKipperbang Fri 03-Mar-17 01:47:58

Do you think that if you actually sent him that letter then it would make you feel better?

Because I cant help thinking that it might. After all these years you actually telling him how you feel, regardless of whether he takes any notice and tbh its doubtful that he will, at least you will know that you stood up and had your say.

Ending it with a clear statement that you will never see or be in contact with him ever again might make you feel that you have taken back a bit of the power he still holds over your feelings.

ChortledTheLion Fri 03-Mar-17 02:03:43

I don't think I want him thinking he means as much to me as he did when he did the things that caused me all that pain years ago Pyongyang. That letter was like an volcano of long buried pain bursting to the surface for a final time. It festered for so long. I feel kind of clean inside where that abscess used to be.

After my attempt to re-establish a relationship ten years ago, I did tell him if he tried to contact me again he'd be hearing from my solicitor, that this has been my one concerted tempt as an adult and it had shown me that there was nothing there worth pursuing.That did feel big at the time. In was down in a blinding cold rage. IIt did help me start to deal with things properly. I'm glad now I did tackle it-wouldn't have DH (couldn't have trusted a guy or sustained intimacy) or be even slightly placed to handle this is I hadn't faced it square on over the last ten years. I think that letter was my final salvo in that.

They say that about narc boyfriends though don't they-that they sense when you re finally getting over them and give it their best shot at reeling you back in just as you are scenting freedom. Maybe narc dads are the same.

Anniegetyourgun Fri 03-Mar-17 05:53:50

You're right. He doesn't deserve that much insight into your heart.

Do you really think there is any chance he would make a sincere apology even on his deathbed? He doesn't sound like the type, to be honest. And it would still all be about him. It wouldn't be said in order to make you feel better.

It's a bit worrying in a way that a detective agency will just happily go finding people who have no wish to be found. I wonder if they have a code of practice sort of thing which would stop them reporting back if the person they're looking for made their wishes known? For that reason it might be wise - via your solicitor perhaps? - to get in touch with them, just to close this down.

Kr1stina Fri 03-Mar-17 07:13:46

The hope for a sincere deathbed apology is based on

1. The fact that he actually is dying - when in fact he just might have a diagnosis of something bad but live for months or years

2. That he has the capacity to reflect on his behaviour, decide he is wrong and have genuine remorse for that

3. That he has empathy for the OP and insight into what it must have been like for her.

3. That he wishes to make things right in a way that is best for the OP and not for him.

Nothing about his approach so far shows any of the above. There no reason to think that he has changed in any way . It's all about him and what he wants, when he wants it.

I know that deathbed scenes of reconciliation are a lovely idea in movies. Not sure they work IRL.

What I suspect would happen is that he gets to say his piece about what a hard life he's had and what a shit daughter and wife he had. And the OP can't even argue with him because who could be angry at a sick / dying man ?

And he wasn't worried about peace and reconciliation when the ex he had treated so badly was dying of cancer, was he ?

Or ten years about when his daughter tried, yet again, to reconcile ?

I'm wondering if his current wife has left him and he's looking for someone to nurse his through an illness. Because rest assured, this approach is about him and not about the OP.

PyongyangKipperbang Fri 03-Mar-17 08:38:46

I understand. Some people might feel a sense of relief at finally telling their abuser (because thats what he is) the damage they caused, but I would probably feel like you do. It was just a thought.

It's a bit worrying in a way that a detective agency will just happily go finding people who have no wish to be found. I wonder if they have a code of practice sort of thing which would stop them reporting back if the person they're looking for made their wishes known? For that reason it might be wise - via your solicitor perhaps? - to get in touch with them, just to close this down.

I wondered this. Have had a quick google and cant find any hard facts. It doesnt seem right that its legal to employ someone to find a person regardless of whether that person actually wants to be found.

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