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Don't know why I feel the need to post this

(35 Posts)
FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 10:43:15

Probably because I'm crying and there's only DD4 (1) around - very lovely but not especially comforting.

I've just sent an email to my lovely step-mother, who I haven't seen or spokent o for about 4 years, to ask her if I can arrange a time to call her or correspond via email to talk about my shitty arse of a father.

I haven't seen my dad for about 3.5 years now since he lost interest in my children. He hasn't sent cards or presents for them, but my step-mother has. My step-mother has powered the relationship between him and us since she gave up trying to have children a few years after they married. It was her than ensured that, as teenagers, we actually saw him regularly. Not him - he was bored of us.

I've had about 6m of twice-weekly counselling this year and have realised that I've been pretty depressed most of my life because of him. I get depressed every time a birthday or Christmas happens, waiting and hoping he'll get in touch, however much I tell myself not to get my hopes up.

He usually remembers to get in touch on my birthday, but only just - this year I had a text at 11.40pm saying 'phew, just in time! Happy birtheday'. My brother's birthday was remembered earlier on in the day, but was just acknowledged by text as well.

He rings about four times a year to moan about having no money or about his health - never to actually see how I am. He says it's too far for them to come and visit us (2h drive) but asks if we (with 4 small children) could go and stay with him! I rang him and asked if he'd like to meet up somewhere half-way between us this summer - somewhere where the children would be distracted and it wouldnt' be too intense. To expensive, he said! I'd chosen somewhere free to get in, and he reckoned he couldn't afford the petrol angry. Although I think actually he is just a coward and used the money as an excuse.

He really is such a fucker, and I could do with years of very intense counselling to not feel depressed about it repeatedly, but I don't feel I have the time to invest in it right now having four young children.

Anyway, it was DD4's birthday a couple of weeks ago and my Step-mother sent a lovely card with a long note in it, which she had done for the last DGC's birthday, and for which I had sent a long thank you letter addressed just to her, not to my Dad.

I don't want to break off contact completely with my Dad - he is my children's grandfather and it's not my place to end any chances of them having a relationship with him ever - they need to know their place in the world. But I would like to have some sort of closure on my relationship with him so I can get on with my life without constantly pining for his love.

A few friends have suggested me trying to build on my relationship with my step-mother as a way of keeping the lines of communication open, but making it clear I don't want to have anything directly to do with my dad anymore.

So, I've thought about it, and thought about it some more. And this morning my 3 oldest DDs are with my parents and DH has gone to work, and I have just done it - I've just emailed her and now I'm crying and hoping I've done the right thing. I've just thanked her for her continued and loving interest in the children and told her I really appreciate it, and told her I'd like to talk to her about Daddy (sorry for that childish word - when my mum remarried, we fell into the habit of distinguishing between my step dad and my real dad by calling them Dad and Daddy respectively) and could she suggest a good time for her.

MagNacarta Sun 18-Oct-09 10:49:11

Not sure I can be of much help, but I can at least identify. What you said about birthdays and christmas rings so true with me, I used to spend the whole day wondering if my Dad would ring. In the end I broke all contact with him, long before I had children. He knows he has gc's and I thought he might get in touch, but he didn't. Tbh I have found life a lot better since I stopped all contact, it's a lot easier to know you won't get a phone call and to concentrate on being happy with the people who do care about you.

Alibooobaandthe40phantoms Sun 18-Oct-09 10:51:26

Flamingo that is so brave of you, and I think you've done the right thing.

I hope she replies and that this is a positive new start for you.

I think it's really positive to understand where your depression is coming from, or at least what the triggers are. It's something I'm in the process of working through myself at the moment and I'm finding it very cathartic.

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 10:56:29

Thank you both. I know no one can help, but a bit of handholding when you're crying can be helpful, even if it is via cyberspace!

MagNacarta - that's exactly what I thought it would do. If I'd told him to not try to speak to me, I thought I might not feel upset if he didn't ring as it was my choice. But I know from my counselling that there is a bit part of everyone's identity which is bound up with family history - knowing who you are. My dad's parents were horrible too, but I still feel some sense of connection with them, and even a level of sadness that they've died and I'll never know them as an adult. I wouldn't want to be the person who created a permanent breakaway from my dad for my children's sake IYSWIM. I know that it may happen anyway, because of him doing it, but I don't want my children saying 'we never knew our grandfather because mummy broke off all contact with him'.

Ali - thank you for saying I'm brave - that means a lot!

SqueezyCheesyPumpkin Sun 18-Oct-09 11:31:58

FB - I get where you're coming from sad I have a sort of similar situ with my own father. I don't get remembered on birthdays or christmas, if I didn't call my father I'd never hear from him. It's a long story but there are so many reasons why I know exactly what you mean.

I haven't solved this problem but mostly what I do is completely ignore it and just accept it will never change. It is his birthday in a few days and for the first time ever, I am making a silent stand and ignoring it completely because that is how he treats me.

I just dismiss the fact that he is pretty crap and concentrate on my relationship with step mum and (step) brother. I wish it were different but it's not and it never will be. He probably won't even notice that I am ignoring his birthday.

You just have to get on with your own life. I think your letter to her is fab though, she sounds really nice. Men like this would never get through life without women like your step mum because they would just not give a shit about people and become very lonely.

I think the most important thing though is making yourself happy, surrounding yourself with people who treat you the way you want to be treated and the way that they treat you, friends, family, partner, whatever. That works for me because no matter how much my father pisses me off, I know I have a great DH and great friends that I can lean on smile

mistermister Sun 18-Oct-09 11:53:00

Flamingo, sorry, can't offer much practical advice, but just to say that you sound like such a lovely person, obviously thinking of your children first and foremost, how unselfish you are! I would drive from one end of the country to the other if it meant seeing my daughter's children if I were him, so that is no excuse. It's wonderful that you get on so well with your step mum, definitely keep the communication lines open there. Sorry I can't offer much advice and I wish you luck/happiness for the future. smile Have you tried writing a letter to our dad explaining how you feel? Good luck, Flamingo.

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 11:56:09

Thanks Squeezy.

My family and friends are wonderful - I couldn't ask for a better circle of people who care about me and who I care about.

But, being a control freak, I can't fathom the idea of just letting the relationship wilt away, as it has been doing the last few years. I'd rather be in control of it and actually saying outright:

"this is it! I will put up with no more upset because of you forgetting about me. You're no longer part of my life. I'll keep in touch with my Step-mother so that you have a way of being in touch with your grandchildren if you ever re-develop your interest in them or if they ever (for some bizarre reason) want to build a relationship with you, but I no longer want you as a part of my life. Good bye."

And do you know, I've never actually articulated that that is what I really want to say. I haven't really known what I want to say up until now, or do, I've just known I don't want things to continue as they have done. But just reading what you three have written, and writing and thinking more about it because of writing is really starting to clarify exactly what it is I want to do.

mistermister Sun 18-Oct-09 11:59:07

I am so sorry for typo, flamingo, meant to say your dad, many apologies.

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 12:01:36

x-post mister. Thank you - what a lovely post!

I've written, and not sent, several letters to my dad telling him how I feel. But I know it would break him completely. I actually know he loves me and my brother, but he is an alcoholic who had a very shit childhood himself. He could have counselling to try to sort it out, but he's in his fifties and it's more than too late now. He'll never change and some of it isn't his fault. He's a coward and is very selfish. I think he's only still married to my step-mother because they didn't have children and she's very independent - he gets bored of responsibility.

But because I know how he came to be this way, I know that it's not all his fault. My brother and I turned out ok, despite everything, so he can't be inherently bad. He's just a very flawed man who has had a crap upbringing, an alcohol addiction and who has learnt to be very selfish, not understand how to love, and to not understand the true joy that can come from loving and being loved sad.

I swing from thinking 'yes, I'll write and tell him how I feel - who cares if it hurts him - he's hurt me enough' to thinking 'but I do actually love him and so why would I want to hurt him, and I know it really, really would hurt him', and then swing back again! It wouldn't change him.

I don't know, I just think I need to do something to protect myself from the continued upset every time I hope I'll hear from him and don't.

I'm lucky I've got a step-mother with whom I can keep some sort of relationship going.

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 12:03:32

Also, when I do speak to or email my stepmother, I'd like to ask her how the situation looks from his point of view. All I can see is a selfish pig, but maybe she sees someone crying every now and then, like I do, because he's made such a monumental cock up of his life and doesn't know how to love and is missing out on his grandchildren's childhoods just like he missed out on his children's childhoods because he doesn't know what to do to make it right and, even if he does, he's too much of a coward to do it.

mistermister Sun 18-Oct-09 12:09:04

Flamingo, it's apparent from reading your last post that it's not clear-cut and there are so many underlying factors here. Perhaps he feels things have gone too far and he doesn't know how to turn things around? Perhaps he feels that he's caused too much hurt and it's too painful to face reality? Just guessing here hmm. Perhaps you could start by writing him a very upfront but heartfelt letter and say at the end that you want a response because you know he cares enough to at least afford you that. At the end of the day, you can only do so much - you obvisouly love your dad and are doing your utmost to put the pieces of your family "jigsaw" together. I will log back on tonight to see if you've had any other suggestions. Please have a good day, Flamingo - you deserve to! smile

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 12:25:31

He really won't change, mister - he's been like this for too long. It might mean he starts keeping in touch for a few months, or even a couple of years (he did this when my DD1 was born) but he'll soon get bored and stop bothering again. It's too much effort for him because he's so selfish.

I need to protect myself, and not hurt him, but I'm not going to go out of my way, or put me at risk of more emotional damage, by trying to rebuild a relationship with him because it just won't work.

I just need to put a proper end to it without hurting him too much ie. say what I suggested earlier and not what I'd really like to do which is say 'fuck off out of my life, you are an arsehole'!

I'm not responsible for him, but I am responsible for myself and my children and I need to find the best way to protect my children and myself. I think that speaking to my step-mother will help me confirm what I want to do.

And writing (and reading) here has been helpful as I am very tearful about it. MN handholding is a wonderful thing!

anonymous85 Sun 18-Oct-09 14:39:31

Goodluck! Fingers crossed it all turns out ok grin I think it's awesome that you have done it, for all you know he might want an opening just doesn't know how to go about it.

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 22:03:42

Now I don't know what to do!

She emailed me back. Not desperately friendly, but I could put that down to her being tired! She said: "Any way what's up with Daddy? Let me know what is bothering

And now I don't know what to say, or even if I want to say it. It felt like a big first step just emailing her in the first place, and now I don't feel able to do the next bit...but I've kind of got to.

I can't just ignore it. I can't just email back and say 'you know what? it doesn't matter any more'.

But it took enough courage to email her in the first place, let alone do the next email. Do I tell her what I'm feeling first? Or ask her what my Dad's feeling?

I kind of want to say:

"Thanks for replying. I'm very grateful that you make such an effort for the girls on their birthdays and at Christmas, but can you tell me why Daddy doesn't? And why he doesn't for my birthday, or my brother's? Because it really, really hurts, every single time."

I've got lots more to say, but would that work as an opener? I'm not sure if I want to leap right in with "I think I don't want to have any more contact directly with Daddy from now on". But she's very busy - I feel bad putting her in this position really.

Oh sad

Alibooobaandthe40phantoms Mon 19-Oct-09 00:06:31

I can understand you being hesitant, you used up all your courage to just send the first one!

Slightly odd that she has said 'what's up with Daddy' - surely she must know that you haven't seen him?

I think that those couple of lines to start with would be good.

Deep breath, chin up - you can do this. And however it turns out, you will feel better knowing that you tried.

<squeezes FB's hand>

moondog Mon 19-Oct-09 00:14:13

What a poignant post.
Your step mother sounds like a wonderful woman, one who acts like a grown-up should.I'm sure spilling it all out to her will help.

TheDevilsKnickers0nMaHead Mon 19-Oct-09 00:55:13


"Thanks for replying. I'm very grateful that you make such an effort for the girls on their birthdays and at Christmas, but can you tell me why Daddy doesn't? And why he doesn't for my birthday, or my brother's? Because it really, really hurts, every single time."

That sounds like the perfect way to start.

I know how you are feeling, I know how much it hurts.

<Holds fb's hand and offers galaxy choccy>

blinks Mon 19-Oct-09 02:24:10

flamingo- i grew up with an alcoholic father and alot of what you say strikes a chord with me HOWEVER, from my point of view, reading your posts, my honest reaction is to ask you why you're still putting HIS needs before your own?

i obviously don't know your step mother and i understand that in a situation where the giving of love is rationed, you might cling to a relationship that has some warmth but i worry that you're trying to achieve the unachievable. your stepmother is very much part of your father's problems as she is still in a relationship with him and judging by her response to your email, is somewhat in denial of the facts.

just as it's impossible to truly reach or change an active addict (and to an extent a non active addict as recovery always comes first), the partner of an addict is often co-dependent or enabling the addicts behaviour. simply by not being upfront and honest about his drinking and his behaviour towards you (which it has to be said is utterly lacking and monumentally dreadful- you deserve so much more than he offers you), your step mother is enabling his behaviour to go on... feel free to pity and understand him but don't put his or her feelings first.

you have every right to ask why he behaves this way and you deserve decent and honest answers. you may well not get them (i would put money on a woolly response that makes you feel silly for bringing it up) but that's another matter.

FlamingoBingo Mon 19-Oct-09 08:15:05

Thank you again.

blinks - I'm not putting him before me, I'm just considering if it will really help me to lay into him, and send him a message telling him what a pig he is. Do you think it would? Or do you think it would still leave me full of anger and sadness and make him feel awful too?

It's interesting you say that my step-mother sounds like she's in denial. I wonder if she is. It does seem a bit like she hasn't noticed that he hasn't seen us for 3.5y and not even met two of his grandchildren.

Knickers, moondog and Ali - I think I will send that first email. My DH is around a bit today so he can support me. But I need a plan of what to do next, when she replies. If it's wooly and upsetting as blinks suggests, then I'll maybe send a harsher one.

OMG, I can't believe I'm doing this. Right, I'm sending it now.

FlamingoBingo Mon 19-Oct-09 08:18:13

Done. I added "I'm not sure how much longer I can put myself through that pain year on year - it's not good for me or for my children." to the end to lead into where I eventually want to be.

moondog Mon 19-Oct-09 10:42:28

Good for you. Better out than in. You've said how you feel. How they respond is theri ussue, but you need to say it or it will continue to poison you.

blinks Mon 19-Oct-09 11:07:08

Flamingo, it is of course absolutely up to you what line you take with him and your stepmother and if you feel that this email might help you, then you're doing the right thing. I suppose what i'm trying to say is that you must accept that youre not taking to people who have clarity of thought. If they did have clairity of thought they wouldn't be in the situation they're in. Fully functioning adults don't stay in relationships with addicts or remain active addicts and not see their children.
they're never going to understand or accept what you've gone through and the extent of your emotional distress... to do so would bring into question their bad decisions.

By 'putting yourself first', I mean to protect yourself and your children from the distress that they cause. It's ok to be angry in this situation and i don't think you should be too concerned about what effect that anger might have on them... you have a right to feel very cheated and angry but think about what YOU will achieve for YOURSELF before tackling them... by building on a relationship with a woman who will always put the feelings of your father first, you may well be setting yourelf up for more of the same frustration and misery.

Expect nothing from them and make your decision based on that as you cannot change how they are. Unfortunately some things will always be unfinished business and i think accepting that and moving on is the best case scenario.

Good luck with the email, i have my fingers crossed for you.

FlamingoBingo Mon 19-Oct-09 12:57:28

She has sent me a very thoughtful and insightful reply. And now I have to decide whether I say 'I know that's how he is, but I can't keep letting it hurt me' and then find a way to say I don't want any more contact with him, or if I make an effort to keep in touch. She wants me to make an effort. She says he's not a proper person unless he has money because that's how he shows love - by giving people things - and he has no money now because his business has been hit hard by the recession. He can only focus on one thing at a time, and at the moment it's making money. And she's right - this is how he's been his whole life. Lots of money = lots of contact with him. No money = very little contact with him.

And that is the point - he's been like this his whole life and he will never change and I will never stop being hurt by his behaviour unless I stop having anything to do with him.

I agree with what you're saying, blinks, but I do love him. I yearn for him to be a proper father to me, and I have to weigh up the risk of being continually hurt by him until he dies if I invest in trying to have a relationship with him; or in hopefully putting an end to me being hurt repeatedly but also putting an end to any chance of a relationship with him in the future by saying I want nothing more to do with him, or by telling my step-mother that I want nothing more to do with him, but that I want to keep some lines of communication open by still being in touch with her, as she's been so kind and a real peacemaker.

I think he is a sober alcoholic now, but that doesn't change the reasons he became an alcoholic, nor explain why he is such a shit still now. I think the money does explain it, and it's helpful to see it that way.

Apparently he's also upset that we didn't 'drop in' on their house on the way when we travelled 4h to go to my best friend's wedding when I was suffering from the early stages of my 4th pregnancy, and when they're house is nothing like 'on the way'. He has no sense of reality, like you say.

And now I don't know where to go from here right now. I don't want to tell my DH what I've been doing because he worries about me so much, and I feel like I don't want to tell anyone close to me, actually. I've told one friend - a very, very close one. I will talk to her, and what's being written on here is extremely helpful.

blinks Mon 19-Oct-09 14:16:46

no-one can make that decision for you flamingo.

i would suggest taking some time to think about it following her reply. i think you should crack the lid of off it a bit by telling more people about what's going on... allow people to help and support you and try not to worry about being a burden on them- that's what friends and family are for.

take your time- you don't owe him anything.

i have to say my gut reaction to your step mother's reply was that no matter how nice she is, she is still enabling his behaviour by not taking him to task on it. not seeing you because he has no money is absolutely ludicrous and the fact that she knows this but is encouraging you to look past that and continue a relationship speaks volumes.

it's not good enough and that needs saying.

i understand you love him flamingo- it's a horrible situation and one that my husband and i have both been in recently so i empathise to the max. don't look too far into the future though- just deal with what's on your plate just now.

OrmIrian Mon 19-Oct-09 14:22:52

Oh flamingo sad You dad sounds very much like my late-FIL. Selfish, self-centred, self-obsessed. The chaos he wrought amongst his 3 children is still present even today - 40yrs later. And everyone always forgive him.

I think the e-mail sounds good. Good luck.

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