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#1 of 32 Old 01-05-2010, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've started putting context around this email from my father, but I could fill a book trying to explain it. Here's the short story... my father called me more or less out of the blue on the Saturday before Christmas and we spoke for about an hour. I was out of town trying to visit family for Christmas and I had a stomach bug on top of it. His mother had died the week before. We got disconnected (or he hung up on me). In that time he seemed angry at my mother for things she did during their marriage (which ended 20 years ago) and seemed to be blaming me. This was apparently sparked by the fact that my mother attended his mother's funeral, which was some how both a horrible thing for her to do and my fault. He was also accusing me of not hugging his wife goodbye on two occasions, both 5+ years ago. I have no specific memory of how or if I told her goodbye either visit. I don't have many positive feelings towards his wife, based on how she treated me as a child when I was in their home, but I honestly doubt I was specifically being malicious. He kept coming back to whether or not we should have a relationship at all. I was hurt and shocked by the phone call.

Before calling him back, I spoke at length with my minister about it. I didn't and still don't want to end my relationship with him. However, I felt he was asking me to chose between my own mother and his wife, based on how they had each treated HIM, and I had no clue how to respond to such a bizarre conversation. In the end I sent him this email:

Quote:
Hi Dad,

I'm sending this to both email addresses I have for you. Please let me know that you received it.

I would like to finish our conversation from Saturday. However, I cannot give it the attention it needs right now. We returned from <out of state> last night. We each took a turn with the stomach bug last week, including my turn while <out of state> over the weekend. We're having our very first Christmas in our own house this week. I need to concentrate on my girls and my husband right now.

I know that you are grieving the loss of your mother. I think of MawMaw often. I am very saddened by her death. I'm wishing I'd managed a trip to <the city where my grandmother lived> with DD2. I went 3-4 times during DD1's first year and 1-2 during her second. Travel during my pregnancy and with newborn DD2 has been quite difficult, and I had not made it there in over a year. I'm sorry she was never able to meet her 14th great grandchild. I was very sorry to not be at the funeral.

I think it would be best if we got a bit more distance from her death before you and I have a conversation with such long term consequences as whether or not we will have a relationship at all. I'd like to continue the conversation in February so that I can give it the attention it deserves.

I hope that even in your grieving you are able to have some happiness this Christmas.

Sending love and light,
Sage
He replied a week and a half later, on New Years Day, with this:
Quote:
Sage,
I received both of your emails. The first wave that came over me is
relief. I have finally recognized the truth...though it's been glaring in
my face for years.

The truth is we don't have a relationship. We are connected through DNA
and history. Essentially, our relationship has been on life support for
most of the last 20 years and I think it would be best for us to
acknowledge the truth and pull the plug.

The turn of events accompanying my mother's death <unless I'm missing something, he really means the fact that my mother came to the local to her funeral> served as a reminder of
the many reasons my marriage to your mother didn't work. Your email
demonstrates (and reminds me too much of your mother) that I cannot live
within the orchestrated, cerebral confines necessary for there to be a
relationship.

I have foolishly been carrying a guilt for not being allowed to be a Dad
to the <my mother's name> children. I wasn't allowed the privilege while married and
certainly not since. Believe it or not, I truly tried more than you may
know or remember. Anything I did had to flow through your mother's filter
and I never measured up. For me to think that somehow I can favorably
influence adults was mere projection and reflection...a mirage.

The truth is you don't know me...and I don't know you. Let's just leave it
at that.

<his name>
I am so incredibly hurt by this email. I'm 29 years old. My parent's divorced 20 years ago. I've been married for 10 years. I've contacted him numerous times in those years. How could he possibly see me as only my mother and not myself? I have not responded. I have no clue how or if I should respond. I don't know if I should be telling people (specifically my extended family on his side who I am in contact with and my younger brothers with whom he has less contact then he has with me). I don't want to let him off of the hook here. And honestly, I just desperately want my father to love me for who I am.

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#2 of 32 Old 01-05-2010, 12:44 PM
 
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I think you'll need to edit and paraphrase his email to you to fit in with the User agreement.

I'm so sorry he's acting this way. It may be hurt, or it may be how he really feels. He's saying that he never felt like you were his, I think. I imagine that would hurt to never really feel like you have true access to your child. Maybe he had different visions of how his family would be that never got satisfied and now, with his mother gone, it's all becoming too much for him.

I don't know what I'd do. Probably just respond that I'm sorry he feels that way and that you'll be open to talking when he is, or just respond that you'll try to contact him in a few months and if he still feels that way, you'll respect his wishes to cease contact. Or, just acknowledge that he'll never love you the way you want and let him go. It seems like there's a lot of hurt there, you're not crazy about his wife, he's oversensitive and possibly toxic, you get along with your mother, just try to heal from the loss of a living parent.

His words would hurt me too. The seem very callous and selfish. He's dropping you, ok, but your children too? How's that supposed to fit into his vision of how things would be in a perfect world. It sounds like maybe your mother filtered things for a reason.

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#3 of 32 Old 01-05-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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I can relate so much to your situation. I'm so sorry, it is very difficult to go through. My dad and I used to be very close when I was young, like 10 and under. But I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood dealing with my father laying all the issues he had with my mom on me, and it really took it's toll.

For my dad, I could never do enough to show him he was loved and appreciated, and after an incident a few years ago, he basically decided that I was too hurtful to be allowed in his life anymore. (Short story: He had moved to Costa Rica. I planned a trip to Disneyland with the kids for dh's birthday, and my mom was coming to help watch them. Dad decided to come visit, and he thinks I should have either canceled the trip or told my mom she wasn't coming so he could come instead. I had a non refundable package, and was going to be gone for 5 days out of the month he was here. We never saw him that whole month because of this.)

He lives in another country (for the last 3 or 4 years), and I have seen him for a total of about 48 hours. Everything is my fault or my mother's fault. He has said that we can come to visit him, but that there is no reason for him to ever return here to visit us. (However, tickets for 4 to Costa Rica aren't cheap, and dh has a fulltime job.) Apparently me, my sister, and his two grandkids who adore him are not good enough reasons for him to come here. I emailed him on Christmas and haven't heard back. I had emailed him a month before that and never heard back.

What hurts me the most is the lack of unconditional love that is supposed to be there. From my perspective, there should be nothing anyone could do, me included, that would cause him to never want to see me again. But that's not who he is. I know he loves me, but he just can't deal with my refusing to be codependent in the whole "you are the most important person in the world" trip he apparenly needs to be able to function.

The only healthy thing you can really do is express your disappointment, and leave the door open if he ever changes his mind. I have found anything else to just be beating my head against a wall.
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#4 of 32 Old 01-05-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I can't read this and not respond. I think you put this post in the write place. This is a real and extremely painful loss.

My situation is different, but I do have experience with estrangement. I have a marginal relationship with my family, and a semi-estranged relationship with one of my siblings, a brother with whom my childhood was very symbiotic (we are 19 months apart). For at least two years but probably closer to five he did not talk to me at all. He did not accept my phone calls, ignored my emails, etc. etc. He has since talked to me only under extreme circumstances, and with much disdain for me. He also refused to come to my wedding 10+ years ago. He recently got married, and his wife has built some bridges...but honestly the only reason we were even invited to their wedding, I am sure, is because I wrote my brother's wife an email asking her point blank if we would be invited (which was probably rude, but I needed to arrange for travel). I hadn't ever met her and didn't even know they were engaged until a week before that...and that was just weeks before the wedding. I also have since learned some things that make me think that she didn't even know of my existence, and knew perhaps nothing at all about me until around the time of the wedding, maybe around the time of the email. I know the things that she must be being told about me are all very one-sided half-truths and probably very, very ugly. When my brother talks about me, it is like he is talking about a stranger. The "me" he has built up in his mind is not the "me" that anyone in my life knows. Not even me.

I'll give you just one example. When I was around four or five and my brother was three or four, my parents had left us under the care of our older sisters. I had a pair of scissors, apparently not well supervised, and I was going to cut something *for my brother* that he asked me to cut. He had his hand in the way. I asked him to move his hand a few times, and he did not. I warned him that if I was going to cut, I would cut him unless he moved his hand. Remember, I was just four or five years old. My motor control was still being refined. Anyway, I have this vivid memory of his hand looking like it was moving, and I thought, "okay, I can cut." But his hand hadn't moved, and the scissors began to close before my brain could process that I needed to stop. I sliced off the top of the finger, and I was immediately horrified and devestated. He ended up having to have his finger stitched up at the hospital. This was at least twenty-five years ago, and my brother still has not forgiven me. He truly in his heart of hearts believes that I cut him on purpose. He actually believes I am an evil person, with evil in my heart, and that I tried to harm him from the get-go. My mom has definitely fanned these flames too. My brother still thinks that my last words before I cut him were "I am going to cut you." Well, maybe, but I was trying to warn him to get his hand to move. How he can't see that, after explanation and after all this time, I don't know. But that is just one small example of thousands.

Anyway, the estrangement is not my decision. It is my brother's decision, and it is a terribly hurtful rejection. I have lost both history (his part of it) and a part of myself.

I think your situation would have to be even more painful because this is the parent-child relationship. I know that even though my parents and I are not estranged, our distant and unstable relationship is perhaps even a bigger wound than my brother's full on estrangement...which is a deep, raw wound. Even though you are an adult, this is your daddy. Even as adult children, it feels like our parents are "supposed" to take responsibility for the crap they feel about the relationships they had with us when we were just children. Afterall, we were indeed mere children. We look at our own children, and see how hard we work to create these healthy, loving relationships, and we feel the weight of responsibility when things aren't good. How could our own parents put that on us? How could he not see you as his little girl, and want to protect you from his own failings?

When I read your dad's letter, I hear an immaturity and, like you heard, an inability to differentiate his relationship with you from your mother. That's not fair, but it is the case. This is all on him, honey. None of this is really about you.

I don't think there is a magic cure. It sucks, sucks, sucks, and I am angry at your dad just reading this. I am glad you are processing this with your minister.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#5 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 09:45 PM
 
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I can relate so much to your situation. I'm so sorry, it is very difficult to go through. My dad and I used to be very close when I was young, like 10 and under. But I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood dealing with my father laying all the issues he had with my mom on me, and it really took it's toll.

For my dad, I could never do enough to show him he was loved and appreciated, and after an incident a few years ago, he basically decided that I was too hurtful to be allowed in his life anymore. (Short story: He had moved to Costa Rica. I planned a trip to Disneyland with the kids for dh's birthday, and my mom was coming to help watch them. Dad decided to come visit, and he thinks I should have either canceled the trip or told my mom she wasn't coming so he could come instead. I had a non refundable package, and was going to be gone for 5 days out of the month he was here. We never saw him that whole month because of this.)

He lives in another country (for the last 3 or 4 years), and I have seen him for a total of about 48 hours. Everything is my fault or my mother's fault. He has said that we can come to visit him, but that there is no reason for him to ever return here to visit us. (However, tickets for 4 to Costa Rica aren't cheap, and dh has a fulltime job.) Apparently me, my sister, and his two grandkids who adore him are not good enough reasons for him to come here. I emailed him on Christmas and haven't heard back. I had emailed him a month before that and never heard back.

What hurts me the most is the lack of unconditional love that is supposed to be there. From my perspective, there should be nothing anyone could do, me included, that would cause him to never want to see me again. But that's not who he is. I know he loves me, but he just can't deal with my refusing to be codependent in the whole "you are the most important person in the world" trip he apparenly needs to be able to function.

The only healthy thing you can really do is express your disappointment, and leave the door open if he ever changes his mind. I have found anything else to just be beating my head against a wall.
Oceanbaby, I am so sorry to read this. Your dad's behavior IS shameful and totally self-absorbed and selfish. Just keep reminding yourself how lucky you are to have turned out the way you did and how lucky your kids are NOT to know this man. WOW to the whole.
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#6 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Flower of Bliss View Post
I've started putting context around this email from my father, but I could fill a book trying to explain it. Here's the short story... my father called me more or less out of the blue on the Saturday before Christmas and we spoke for about an hour. I was out of town trying to visit family for Christmas and I had a stomach bug on top of it. His mother had died the week before. We got disconnected (or he hung up on me). In that time he seemed angry at my mother for things she did during their marriage (which ended 20 years ago) and seemed to be blaming me. This was apparently sparked by the fact that my mother attended his mother's funeral, which was some how both a horrible thing for her to do and my fault. He was also accusing me of not hugging his wife goodbye on two occasions, both 5+ years ago. I have no specific memory of how or if I told her goodbye either visit. I don't have many positive feelings towards his wife, based on how she treated me as a child when I was in their home, but I honestly doubt I was specifically being malicious. He kept coming back to whether or not we should have a relationship at all. I was hurt and shocked by the phone call.

Before calling him back, I spoke at length with my minister about it. I didn't and still don't want to end my relationship with him. However, I felt he was asking me to chose between my own mother and his wife, based on how they had each treated HIM, and I had no clue how to respond to such a bizarre conversation. In the end I sent him this email:



He replied a week and a half later, on New Years Day, with this:


I am so incredibly hurt by this email. I'm 29 years old. My parent's divorced 20 years ago. I've been married for 10 years. I've contacted him numerous times in those years. How could he possibly see me as only my mother and not myself? I have not responded. I have no clue how or if I should respond. I don't know if I should be telling people (specifically my extended family on his side who I am in contact with and my younger brothers with whom he has less contact then he has with me). I don't want to let him off of the hook here. And honestly, I just desperately want my father to love me for who I am.

As much as you want to dad to love you for who you are---it is clear by email (and phone conversation) that this is never going to happen. Your dad is totally selfish and self-absorbed. He's also immature. What father (or person for that matter) still hangs on to crap that happened 20 years ago---and worse, when the object of his issues/anger/whatever this is--is a child.
He seems like he'd be a really miserable person to be around--his email is really sick, you know? Just hateful and cruel. Run the other way--don't respond and let this go. It's painful, I know--having been through something similar, but really, let it go and put your energy into your healthy family.
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#7 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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I'm sorry to crash from New Posts... but he sounds mentally ill. When I started reading your post my thought was "Jeez, lady. His mother just died. Cut him some slack." But after reading what you had to say, and then his email, the only possible conclusion I can come to is that he is not a healthy individual. While it is probably really hard to cut him out of your life, I would think about your kids, and if having this sad and twisted individual in their lives is in their best interests. That might make it easier for you to accept the inevitable: that he is not a well person and probably quite poisonous to your self-esteem and your life.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#8 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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Just one thought, when people die, especially immediate family, it can really ramp up dysfunctional behavior. So don't do anything irreparable because things may calm down and stabilize in a good place in a year or so

I'm sure, sadly, your father does feel the way he says he does at some level but I bet it's magnified a thousand fold by the loss of his mother.

Time may heal some of his grief to where he can be a father to you again.

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#9 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 10:20 PM
 
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I think that I would let this lie for a while. He is clearly having issue with unresolved feelings from the divorce and then grieving over his mom's death.

I wouldn't say to totally cut him out of your life or cut him slack, but give it time. He may come to realize his own mortality and want to have a decent relationship with you.

His letter was terribly hurtful, but perhaps cathartic for him in his frustrations to be a good parent but to him kept on the sidelines (as my mother was).

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#10 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm still sorting through all of this. At the moment I'm leaning towards sending a reply that basically says that I do and always have wanted a relationship with him, and the door is open if he wants it at a later point. I may add the cavout that that can't include a relationship where he continues to drag up how my mother wronged him during their marriage and his second wife (his secretary and mistress when he initiated the divorce) saved his life. Our first conversation about what my mother did wrong in their marriage was when I was a young teenager (and he told me things one should NEVER tell a child), and we've had several others, all started by him since then. This last one was the first time it sounded like he somehow blamed me for my mothers actions. He plays the victim role about their marriage, and in life in general.

At the moment I don't intend to tell my brothers or my mother about any of this, as I think it would hurt my brothers and I don't want my mother to feel guilty for showing up at her ex-MILs funeral (my grandmother was a wonderful loving woman, was her MIL for 11 years, and was the grandmother of all 3 of her children). My fathers recent behaviour would have horrified my grandmother, and in part, I fear he simply waited until she was gone to do it. I also plan to contact at least one of my aunts (his sisters) soonish and request that they keep me in the loop of family news, as my father does/will not.

Just to clarify, my father has never met either of my children. Shockingly DD1 (3 years old) has never asked me about my father, and so, short of having seen some pictures, she knows nothing about him. I haven't seen him in about 5 years. He moved from one state over to across the country during my pregnancy with DD1 (in fact I figured out he'd moved in my conversation with him hours after her birth when I called to tell him she was here). His parents, siblings, and large tight knit extended family mostly all live one state over from me, and as an adult, I have tried to stay in touch with them and visit them when I'm in state, although it's still about a 1.5 hour drive from where my mother and ILs live, so I don't always manage the trip during our short visits. The visits to see them are always emotionally hard on me. With his parents, there was always the elephant in the room that I had no clue what was going on with my father, which they'd prefer pretend wasn't true. When not with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles all go on and on about how disappointed they are in him for his lack of being a father to me and apologize for it, which is both affirming for me and awkward at the same time.

I've done lots of reaching out to my father in the last 10 years, calling him, sending him photographs of my children and scanned photographs of my brothers and I with him, emailing, etc. I was really hurt by his lack of reaction to the birth of DD1, the pictures of her I sent to him, and so on. I had it in my head me having children would result in us being more in contact, not less.

As a result, I was more protective of myself with my second pregnancy and "only" sent him a pregnancy announcement in the mail (a Valentines day card made by DD1 signed from all of us and "new baby due August 2009) - to which he never responded at all, an email with ultrasound pictures saying she was a girl (to which he also never responded), and an email announcement of her birth with pictures (again, no response). He did call me the week of her due date and ask if he'd "missed the news" of her birth. We spoke for about an hour. It was the last time I spoke to him until the day his mother died.

I'm having lots of trouble grappling with his email. I look at my girls and can't fathom anything that would make me want "pull the plug" on our relationship. I watch my girls with their Daddy and mourn all that I have lost. It's just heartbreakingly horrible.

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#11 of 32 Old 01-08-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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I'm sorry, Sage. It sounds like your Dad has a lot of issues. I wonder if mental illness plays any part in that.
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#12 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 12:06 AM
 
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With the additional history, you may be right. It is probably not fixable.

I'm sorry. I know what you mean about watching yourself or your partner with your kids. The moments where you realize what you have missed cut deep.



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#13 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 12:06 AM
 
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His e-mail makes it sound like he doesn't even see you as a person, that he's projecting all his issues with your mother onto you. The idea that he could never measure up, I could see someone feeling that way when newly divorced and with you as a child. But he has had plenty of chances once you were an adult and trying to get him to know his grandchildren and the filter of your mother shouldn't really even come into play at this point. It sounds like he is just too concerned with his own view and how he feels other people see him to really recognize what he is doing. I hope he eventually can get a new perspective.
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#14 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 12:20 AM
 
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm still sorting through all of this. At the moment I'm leaning towards sending a reply that basically says that I do and always have wanted a relationship with him, and the door is open if he wants it at a later point.
I would not do this. I think it might backfire. Though it doesn't seem like this situation could get much worse, I think if you just didn't respond it would just justify his totally irrational belief that you are somehow to blame for everything in his life. I would just let it lie, and who knows: maybe he'll have some sort of deathbed conversion and apologize. I wouldn't hold my breath for that... but I also wouldn't engage him right now.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#15 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 12:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would not do this. I think it might backfire. Though it doesn't seem like this situation could get much worse, I think if you just didn't respond it would just justify his totally irrational belief that you are somehow to blame for everything in his life. I would just let it lie, and who knows: maybe he'll have some sort of deathbed conversion and apologize. I wouldn't hold my breath for that... but I also wouldn't engage him right now.
That's my debate. I don't want to engage him and start some arguement and open the door for him to say more awful things to me. However, at the same time, not responding feels like consenting or even agreeing. I don't want this email to be our last contact ever. I hate to even imagine that possibility.

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#16 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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That's my debate. I don't want to engage him and start some arguement and open the door for him to say more awful things to me. However, at the same time, not responding feels like consenting or even agreeing. I don't want this email to be our last contact ever. I hate to even imagine that possibility.
To be totally blunt, I think that responding would be stooping to his level. It would be making your relationship on his terms: a series of go-nowhere emails where he gets to be awful and you get to feel bad. I think that by replying, you're consenting to his version of events. If you just let sleeping dogs lie, you're taking back your dignity in this relationship, and not giving him the chance to continue to berate you.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#17 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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I am so sorry that you are facing this. My dad and I had a similar "tiff" almost a year ago, although not NEARLY as big as this one (although I did think he was cutting me out) and it was horrible. Just horrible.

His email sounds selfish and like he's letting himself off the hook. Wrong on so many levels. You deserve to be loved and cherished 100% and unconditionally by your father. If he cannot or will not do that..... that's his issue, his fault, his loss.

Again, I am so sorry.

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#18 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 03:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I'm thinking about hte mental illness comments and wondering. I wouldn't know if he had such a diagnoses, and honestly, I doubt he'd seek out help or diagnoses anyway. One of my brothers is bipolar, diagnosed at around 19 years old, now 26. I wonder if my father does have some mental illness. I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse... It might mean that in his heart he doesn't really hate ME for what MY MOTHER did 20+ years ago, but it might also mean that in a way he IS the victim he's always claiming to be...

I guess I'll never really know. It's hard to just not know where this will end.

As much as I feel like just letting it be and letting go, I'm really struggling here. This is my Daddy. He might have sucked as a father, and I've felt hurt by his behavior, threatened by the sheer existence of his wife and her children that he raised instead of us, rejected, and on and on, but I honestly never once doubted that in his own way my Daddy loved me.

It's just shattering. I'm falling apart. I'm furious and so hurt. and I am mourning the loss of my grandmother.... and my sweet wonderful DH is having health issues, and...

I just can't process it all.

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#19 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 04:46 AM
 
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Sometimes we have to look at things clearly and realize that what we want is not the same as what is, and move on. I really understand that you want your father to love you and have a relationship, but the fact is that he is not the man to do this. I think you can waste precious energy and emotion trying to create an illusion of something that is just not going to exist.

I went through a similar process for years, then someone very wise showed me how to reframe the whole thing in my mind. My mother was never going to love me and I could not change that. It was not my fault - I was an innocent child and the issue was hers, not mine. I could have blond hair (I believed for years that having brown hair was the reason I wasn't loved) or be thin (I believed for years that I must be fat - which I was not - and that if I were thinner, she'd love me), but she was never going to love me. Never had, never will. It's a fact, and I am totally at peace with it now. It is sad, but only for that little girl who was unloved, not for me as an adult who has processed it, accepted it, and moved on.

I had to let go of that unloved little girl, love myself more, and seek the relationships that I wanted elsewhere.

Nobody else can be your biological father, but other people sure as heck can take up part of that role in your life. Find uncles, friends, neighbours, teachers, community members who fulfil that need in you for a fatherly love and acceptance. Let the man who is your biological father go, and accept that he cannot be and will not be what you want him to be. Once you face it, and seek that love elsewhere, you will free yourself from this endless search for something that you cannot have.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but it is the truth. I found it incredibly liberating to face that truth and embrace it. I hope that you can find peace with this.
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#20 of 32 Old 01-09-2010, 02:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flower of Bliss View Post
As much as I feel like just letting it be and letting go, I'm really struggling here. This is my Daddy. He might have sucked as a father, and I've felt hurt by his behavior, threatened by the sheer existence of his wife and her children that he raised instead of us, rejected, and on and on, but I honestly never once doubted that in his own way my Daddy loved me.
I completely understand this. It is exactly what I have gone through, and it is so hard. I know my Dad loves me, but I also know that it is own limitations that make it difficult for him to have a relationship with me. It is definitely a grieving process, and I encourage you to treat it as such.

As far as whether to email him or not, I try not to focus as much on the other person's reaction (over which we have no control), but rather on my intention and what I feel is healthy for me. For me, it felt much better to make clear to my father that I love him and that my door is always open. I wanted to go to sleep at night knowing for sure that he knew that. I do know there are situations in which it would open you up to more grief, and you have to decide that for yourself. It is a vulnerable act, but one that made me feel much more at peace with the situation.
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#21 of 32 Old 02-04-2010, 03:43 AM
 
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I am going to disagree with most of the replies and suggest you try to read what your father is not writing.While his letter does seem a bit harsh, I wonder how much of it is an immature way of dealing with his own guilt and grief - perhaps with some encouragement from his second wife. He spends a paragraph telling you he wanted to be a better father (though he doesn't give one explicitly, an apology may lurk in there somewhere). It almost sounds like an insecure child's plea for reassurance - "you don't love me so I won't love you anymore."
I agree with Violet2 and with your own reply. I would not sever the possibility of a relationship in the future right now. I would go with what you mentioned...telling him that the door is open if he wants a relationship later on. Sure, there's a possibility that there is mental illness or there is no hope...but perhaps he has poor coping skills - and his mother's death has overwhelmed him - on top of losing his mother, your inability to be there, him faced with his failed marriage again, a reminder of his being a crappy father, obviously a lot of anger toward your mother...
Again, I am sorry for what you are going through. After not having him present for most of my life, I am slowly building a relationship with my own father. I understand how difficult it can be to build one almost from scratch.
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#22 of 32 Old 02-19-2010, 07:40 PM
 
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I read the thread and couldn't sit here silent because I think there are some things you need to know.

First of all, I am so very sorry this has happened. You're right: he is your daddy. Your daddy - he should be right there in your life, helping you with your own issues, not this depressed and depressive figure in the shadows, not really living at all. And you know, it's okay to feel very, very sad about this, as his daughter - we never let go of our parents: something he now has the opportunity to grasp with the loss of his own mother... We're always connected. One cannot "sever" a relationship with one's family - no matter how hard one tries. The fabric of time and space in our world will connect us closely for as long as we live, and depending on our beliefs, after we've died as well.

The problem is not with the connection, but with our own humanity. Human beings can be very spiritually and mentally healthy, or, they can be unhealthy in that regard. While I agree with some previous posters that bipolar disorder - or manic depression (which to me is a much more accurate and descriptive name for what is essentially a series of highs and lows - something I dealt with in my teens) - might well be at play here. But I don't like boxes very much, to be honest: they don't allow for much play in the human condition. So, I will go further.

Your Dad is having some trouble. It sounds like he's been having trouble for a very long time. At some point in the distant past, in his life - most likely in early childhood - he's had a series of events happen, or he has been treated a certain way by someone that made him this adult person who behaves this way. What I can say is that the person was not you!

Now throughout his life, as you say, he's been trying to divert as much responsibility for everything onto other people as he can. Essentially, that is what is known as "not growing up" really! Normally (and this seems to have been hijacked a bit by our overly litigious society recently, but whatever...) as we grow, we take more responsibility for ourselves, our actions and the situations we find ourselves in. When things go wrong, a healthy person can examine the situation (eventually) and admit fault on some things and at the very least, develop an understanding of what might have happened.

Your Dad sounds like he prefers the other route: placing all blame on others because that way, he does not have to examine himself. To do this with one of his own children certainly would signal that in fact, he has never learned how to be responsible. Because bipolar/manic or not, his letter demonstrated a depth of will and decision regarding the relationship between you that was most certainly not accidental, but willful. His life may have led to depression, yes, but this decision making of his is not all depression - it's irresponsibility as well.

You must have a lovely mother. Oftentimes, your father's type of people marry their partners expecting to be mothered (or fathered) and then of course, in their immature minds their own mothers are never good enough, so their partners cannot be either. So, throughout relationships, the partners get the brunt of the blame and often get at least emotionally abused by a person who just isn't able to have a proper grown up relationship. Ironically you might, in the end find that your paternal grandmother has something to do with this...

His being angry at this juncture then makes perfect sense. Your own mother couldn't meet his demands for mothering, so now that his actual mother is gone, he has unresolved feelings of anger toward your mother for not having been able to take over the role. Since his own parenting needs were not "met" he's not going to be able to be a father to anyone else either...

So probably in a misguided attempt to reverse time and put himself back in a childlike position, he discards you. Because if he is a father, then he cannot be a child...

I do think this has been precipitated by the death of his mother, this latest "thing" - but the rest of it, well, that's probably simply the way that his upbringing has left him. Ideally the death of his mother will help him to grow into the adult he needs to be. You might find actually, that in the coming months he has to re-examine himself and the way he has been living and actually can finally escape the small-child-psyche he's been carrying about with him for so long. Alternatively, he might try to make his current wife even more motherly...which will probably lead to marital strife and probably another divorce...

Anyway enough conjecture! The main thing to take away is that this is NOTHING to do with you as a daughter. You have every right to feel mad and hurt. It's not because you're a bad daughter, and it has nothing to do with your mother, who was probably a really excellent wife in the end. He's likely still hurting because deep down, he knows that and actually wants to become a man...

*HUGE hugs* mama. It'll all be okay in the end. XxXXxX

Mama to Josie , lost 10/10/08 at 37.4 weeks .
and my rainbow baby, Isobella Mai ...born 1/12/2010 ! in profile...
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#23 of 32 Old 02-19-2010, 11:43 PM
 
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I come from a different place, so I might be projecting. (I did not talk to my dad for years. Our relationship now is much more different.)

I do not understand why your mom went to the funeral. There is hard feelings between your dad and her. It was HIS mother. She should have been more respectful and visted when he wasn't there. If she has been part of that family I am sure she could have manage a visit to the funeral home when he was gone. Or said her good byes at another time. No matter how much part of the family she has been, she should have put her needs to the side for him and HIS family.

Remember your dad is greiving. Grief can bring up a lot of raw emotions from other situations.

My mom did interfer with my dad's parenting. She was minipulative, emotionally, and verbally abusive. It took me many years to see how my mom created a lot of the situations that she blamed my dad on.

1. My dad wanted to co-sleep. She wouldn't allow it, it would spoil us
2. My dad hated CIO.
3. MY mom would tell my dad he was a failure because we would cry to long.
4. Many little ideas that he had were wrong. I could go on on the ways she did interfer with the relationship. Her way was the only way (this does not absolve my dad's bad behavior).
5. Your mom might have interfered more than you realize. Little ways of her disrespecting, belittling, or countering his parental decissions.

I have a feeling your dad has felt for a long time disrespected by your mom. Then your mom showed up to his mom's funural. He felt even more disrespected. She did not take a momment to think about how that would make him feel.

You gave exsuces why you didn't make time (some what understandable) to focus on him when his mom died. I can see how he feels a kick in the face. It is not what you intended but I can see how he would feel second when he needed to be put at a higher priority.

You tell him in his grief of loosing his mother (your grandmother) you can't give him the time. Personnally "I can give it attention right now" would have been a kick in the face! How would you feel if your mom died and your child/husband said "I can give it attention right now." I would be hurt!

You could talk about how your first Christmas in your new home is more important that talking to him. You want him to be excited for you but you can be sorry for/with him-- that is how he read it. I honestly would feel majority crappy if anyone one would tell me that while I was grieving.

You mention you manage an out of state trip but to his home, you could only think of her often --- I can see how he feels that these other people were more important than him, his mom, and their grandmother. His mom is only an often thought.

I do not know all your entire story but that letter that you wrong, putting me off until February, after my mom died would have hurt. For me, it is saying you could not stop for a few minutes to grieve with me about your grand mother.

I am wonderding if he feels that you treat him with the same disregard as your mother did. This might no be right but that is how he feels.
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#24 of 32 Old 02-20-2010, 03:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, further updates, and replies to recent post...

First off, I've decided to start therapy. I had my first session last week. I'm teetering on the edges of depression and really struggling day to day. I think all of this was a huge factor, but not the sole cause. It all happened when I was 4 months postpartum and already pretty shaky emotionally. Some health stuff with my DH (not life threatening, but life changing for he and I) is another big factor.

Adding context to my email... My father called me the day of his mother's death (though not in the 2 days she was in the hospital and he was traveling to see her). We spoke very briefly. I'm about 7 hours away by car from where my grandmother lived, and have a DD who was 4 months old as well as a 3 year old. It was a Friday at about 5pm. In that call, he said that funeral arrangements were not yet made, but it would likely be early in the week, and he'd get back to me. I stammered on about hoping to go and trying to figure out if I could. Needless to say I wasn't exactly collected and thinking straight. He also said that he wanted to tell my brothers' himself and asked for their phone numbers - yep, he didn't know where they live or how to contact them.

I called him Saturday numerous times to find out about funeral arrangements, and confirm that my brothers (who only live about 1 hour away from the funeral) had heard the news. He never answered or returned my calls. I called again on Sunday. Finally Sunday afternoon I called one of my aunts, who gave me the info about the funeral, which was to be Monday morning. At that point it was really too late for me to go, and my aunt went on and on about rain and not bringing my little ones, and waiting to come later when my grandfather could really visit with the girls. I really struggled with the idea of not going. I seriously considered driving Saturday or Sunday even though I didn't know funeral plans, but my DH couldn't come, and I really didn't think I could go alone and handle my girls and myself without his support. I asked my aunt if she knew when my father would be leaving town, hoping that I could manage to go midweek to see them even if I couldn't make the funeral. She had no clue. In the end I told both of my brothers myself. Neither had heard from him at all. By then, neither of them made it to the funeral either.

Considering that I'd called numerous times and left a couple of messages, I expected a call back from my father eventually, and was still considering going on Wed or Thurs. DD woke up late Tuesday night puking and we entered stomach bug craziness for the rest of the week.

When my father called me it was the next Saturday. He had already gotten home (to NC, about a 3 day drive?? from me). He did not want to talk about his mother. In fact, he didn't mention her at all, besides to say "the funeral". He wanted to yell at me about my mother, and somehow by extension myself. He even said several things that resulted in me telling him, in tears at the sting of such bizarre accusations, that my DH and I are in a monogamous relationship!!! Whether or not she should have gone to the funeral, I sure as heck didn't send her. I'm not responsible for her actions, during their marriage or now. Honestly, I don't think it occurred to her that her attendance would upset my father. I find it hard to believe she attended with any malicious intent at all. They've been divorced for 20 years, and I don't think they've seen each other or spoken since my wedding 10 years ago. I doubt she has a clue that he's still carrying around old stuff about their marriage.

FWIW, my mother was a very AP mom. We were BF for 18-30 months each. We coslept, never did CIO, she used gentle discipline, etc. As a child post divorce, my brothers and I were treated very poorly at my father's house. We were yelled at and threatened often; his wife screamed things in our faces about our mother (mostly related to our vegetarian diet and how it "could get us taken away from her," but also about what a generally awful person she was); if we cried, she'd say "Do you want me to give you something to cry about?"; my youngest brother at about 4ish was terrified of showers, but was forced daily showers when there; I was forced full glasses of milk with every meal, which make me sick; my step mother often "got sick" while we where there and lay in bed demanding my father take care of her; she used the n word liberally; etc. I could go on and on. Most of this was my step mother, but my father stood by her. We did not have regular visits there (that was his doing, he even moved out of town and later out of state without contacting us about it at all. We'd find out months later.) By my teen years I refused to spend the night there, after an especially bad incident.

My mother has rarely spoken to me about my father as a parent. She'll periodically mention us looking like him/his family. She encouraged me to actively include my aunts on his side in my wedding planning. In the last couple of years as I've had my little ones she's done some reminiscing of her years as a mom of littles that mention my father, but not name calling by any means.

My mom's not perfect. I don't think she was necessarily a great wife to my father, nor was he a great husband to her. They are both undoubtedly better off apart. I'm not calling my mother an angel here. I assure you. Really it's just not about her. I'm not taking credit for her actions.

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#25 of 32 Old 02-20-2010, 05:34 AM
 
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Sage, I just saw this in recent posts and can't not respond.

First off, BIG hugs. It is heartbreaking to read, and I can't imagine being in that situation. I think you have made very wise choices so far, but the heartbreak is undeniable.

I don't really have any advice. I have a not-so-great father, and all I've ever wanted is for him to love me for who I am. I have been awfully messed up for a lot of years because of his problems and inability to love me the way I need to be loved; only in the last 5-10 years have I really begun to figure out what all of them were. I'm grateful my dad is *trying* to be a good dad and grandfather now, so it's really not the same. But I know that longing and it brings me to tears.

I hope the therapy is helpful and that you can find wholeness even without what it seems your father is incapable of giving.

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#26 of 32 Old 02-20-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flower of Bliss View Post
Ok, further updates, and replies to recent post...

First off, I've decided to start therapy. I had my first session last week. I'm teetering on the edges of depression and really struggling day to day. I think all of this was a huge factor, but not the sole cause. It all happened when I was 4 months postpartum and already pretty shaky emotionally. Some health stuff with my DH (not life threatening, but life changing for he and I) is another big factor.

Adding context to my email... My father called me the day of his mother's death (though not in the 2 days she was in the hospital and he was traveling to see her). We spoke very briefly. I'm about 7 hours away by car from where my grandmother lived, and have a DD who was 4 months old as well as a 3 year old. It was a Friday at about 5pm. In that call, he said that funeral arrangements were not yet made, but it would likely be early in the week, and he'd get back to me. I stammered on about hoping to go and trying to figure out if I could. Needless to say I wasn't exactly collected and thinking straight. He also said that he wanted to tell my brothers' himself and asked for their phone numbers - yep, he didn't know where they live or how to contact them.

I called him Saturday numerous times to find out about funeral arrangements, and confirm that my brothers (who only live about 1 hour away from the funeral) had heard the news. He never answered or returned my calls. I called again on Sunday. Finally Sunday afternoon I called one of my aunts, who gave me the info about the funeral, which was to be Monday morning. At that point it was really too late for me to go, and my aunt went on and on about rain and not bringing my little ones, and waiting to come later when my grandfather could really visit with the girls. I really struggled with the idea of not going. I seriously considered driving Saturday or Sunday even though I didn't know funeral plans, but my DH couldn't come, and I really didn't think I could go alone and handle my girls and myself without his support. I asked my aunt if she knew when my father would be leaving town, hoping that I could manage to go midweek to see them even if I couldn't make the funeral. She had no clue. In the end I told both of my brothers myself. Neither had heard from him at all. By then, neither of them made it to the funeral either.

Considering that I'd called numerous times and left a couple of messages, I expected a call back from my father eventually, and was still considering going on Wed or Thurs. DD woke up late Tuesday night puking and we entered stomach bug craziness for the rest of the week.

When my father called me it was the next Saturday. He had already gotten home (to NC, about a 3 day drive?? from me). He did not want to talk about his mother. In fact, he didn't mention her at all, besides to say "the funeral". He wanted to yell at me about my mother, and somehow by extension myself. He even said several things that resulted in me telling him, in tears at the sting of such bizarre accusations, that my DH and I are in a monogamous relationship!!! Whether or not she should have gone to the funeral, I sure as heck didn't send her. I'm not responsible for her actions, during their marriage or now. Honestly, I don't think it occurred to her that her attendance would upset my father. I find it hard to believe she attended with any malicious intent at all. They've been divorced for 20 years, and I don't think they've seen each other or spoken since my wedding 10 years ago. I doubt she has a clue that he's still carrying around old stuff about their marriage.

FWIW, my mother was a very AP mom. We were BF for 18-30 months each. We coslept, never did CIO, she used gentle discipline, etc. As a child post divorce, my brothers and I were treated very poorly at my father's house. We were yelled at and threatened often; his wife screamed things in our faces about our mother (mostly related to our vegetarian diet and how it "could get us taken away from her," but also about what a generally awful person she was); if we cried, she'd say "Do you want me to give you something to cry about?"; my youngest brother at about 4ish was terrified of showers, but was forced daily showers when there; I was forced full glasses of milk with every meal, which make me sick; my step mother often "got sick" while we where there and lay in bed demanding my father take care of her; she used the n word liberally; etc. I could go on and on. Most of this was my step mother, but my father stood by her. We did not have regular visits there (that was his doing, he even moved out of town and later out of state without contacting us about it at all. We'd find out months later.) By my teen years I refused to spend the night there, after an especially bad incident.

My mother has rarely spoken to me about my father as a parent. She'll periodically mention us looking like him/his family. She encouraged me to actively include my aunts on his side in my wedding planning. In the last couple of years as I've had my little ones she's done some reminiscing of her years as a mom of littles that mention my father, but not name calling by any means.

My mom's not perfect. I don't think she was necessarily a great wife to my father, nor was he a great husband to her. They are both undoubtedly better off apart. I'm not calling my mother an angel here. I assure you. Really it's just not about her. I'm not taking credit for her actions.
Please understand, I said I was coming froma different place for a reason.

Yes your dad is acting badly. I did not have all the back information. I still don't think your mom should have gone to the funeral. That IMO was wrong. THAT doesn't mean your dad is acting right but it was disrespectful of him.
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#27 of 32 Old 02-24-2010, 10:46 PM
 
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Wow, I'm really sorry, that must have been very shocking and hurtful to get that e-mail, particularly since you have been trying to have a relationship with him. Some people can't be there for us, for whatever reason. It sucks when it is someone you want to be close to, like a dad. It's hard to come to a place where we have to accept that we just don't have that "daddy" person in our lives. I could go on and on about some similarities to what you've said, but I'll spare you the details except to say that I could imagine getting this e-mail at some point from my dad, but he passed away suddenly 7 years ago. He had only met my two year old twice, even though he and his wife had tons of $ and traveled frequently. He also put all of his $ in her name and left us nothing, he probably had millions. I tried to have a relationship, there were even times when I thought we were ok, but I think it was wishful thinking. I have had to come to a place where I realize I didn't ever have a "dad" in the storybook sense, and move on. Had he not died I might still be trying, and probably still getting my feelings hurt. I'm sad for you because I can understand what this feels like, and I guess if I can offer anything it is just to say that you really can't change him, so just decide what you want to offer him as far as a relationship goes, if anything, and try to accept what the relationship is and what it will never be. He isn't rejecting you, he is rejecting his role as a parent. That says a whole lot about him, but it is nothing bad about you.
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#28 of 32 Old 02-25-2010, 02:52 AM
 
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I've read this thread and I hope some of this helps:

First off, you have done nothing wrong. As a daughter you have always been his, and obviously an attentive one at that. The fact that he can't see how wonderful you are is his loss. You are or at least should be so special to him. You were unable to go to the funeral and seeing as how he did not even contact your brothers, I believe that your mother going almost in the stead of you children was not wrong. I have been to several funerals where ex wives were at their former MIL funerals and if they had children between them it was totally acceptable.

Also. I believe that a mental illness is highly probable. He does sound immature and childish yes. But one thing you have to understand about bi-polar especially if that is what he has, speculating here, is that they have at times an "all or nothing" mentality. While depression is a deep seated issue his needing reassurance from you is almost to me a cry for attention. I do believe that his mother's death is increasing his instability. In the email he seemed to me to be manic. So perhaps he may feel differently later and even regret what he sent to you, though he may never tell you that.

I think you should discuss this in therapy and get some advice on this. The situation is tense, to say the least. But he is your father and I know you feel as though he dumped you... But if it were me... I would try and try. In a way I would almost want to confront him, I am not saying you should. But what I am saying is... I wouldn't go away. He may feel like he can walk away from you... But make sure he knows that you won't walk away from him...


I wish the best for you dear. Hang in there. :s::

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#29 of 32 Old 02-25-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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I wish i could hug you. I wish i could help in some small way. I totally sympathize with you. I am pretty much dealing with the same problem with my own mother. I wish could make it better. We deserve parents who loved us, Even as adults the desire to love and be loved by our parents is so overwhelming it's heart breaking.

I'm left with the feeling like I want to ask my own mother, WTF did I ever do to you? I was only a child and you are holding me hostage for something I didn't even do to you. Comparing me to individuals that as a child I couldn't even remotely begin to understand, compare with or generally hold my own against.

It's just so...painful. My heart is with you Mama.

 

 

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#30 of 32 Old 02-28-2010, 04:11 AM
 
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What did your minister have to say about all this?

Hugs to you for having to go through this terrible ordeal. I hope you are surrounded by other friends and extended family to help create the loving, healthy family you never had for your kids.

Keep the door open, but I wouldn't invite getting my feelings hurt again so soon by replying.

Kudos on getting therapy.

Create a healthy distance from your dad for now. Recover your strength and resources to be 100% to your DH and kids. THey are your true priority. If your dad has issues, he'll deal with them when and if he ever feels he has a problem. Which might be never. So don't put your life on hold.

Sign hanging in Albert Einstein's office at Princeton: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.
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