Dad the distant, and he doesn't understand why in adulthood I'm still distant

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Wife#2

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TRIGGERS - Not really sure what kind, but I'm sure they're there.

So much confusion around Dad. I love him, I really do. I'm also very angry with him. I've told him a few times over the years that I'm angry and why I'm
angry. But, I still can't lose this anger!

It was a little comment. And my friend's tears. My boss came in from lunch, smiling and putting away her cell phone. She told my friend/co-worker - 'I'm so blessed to be able to talk to my Dad every day at lunch.'

My friend lost her father before memories could be formed. She's usually pretty stoic, but today, that simple statement made her cry. And that it brought her to tears startled her and made me sad for her. Then, I got to thinking about MY relationship with MY father and became sad for myself, also. Except it was followed up with anger in my case.

The fact that boss can talk with her Dad everyday is a blessing. I can't do that. Even if I could, I don't think I would.

Dad and I have a very confused relationship. He is a very good Dad. All of his children love him very much, including me and my step-brother & step-sister. He has lots of very good characteristics. Part of my challenge with him came down to bad luck being his last child by his first wife.

Here's the confusing part about communication. He talks to his sister and his brother often. He talks to my siblings and step-siblings often. The calls may not be long, but they don't have to be because of the frequency. I used to try to stay in touch with him by phone. More often than not, either he acts like I just interrupted him, though he says I haven't or I end up talking more to my step-mom. Now, I love her and everything, but she plays a part in my abandonment, so that's complicated, too.

Anyway, the times he actually tries to call me, he acts like he has somewhere else to go even before he picked up the phone to dial. I always get the impression he's got some excuse ready to go in case I get long-winded. OK, he doesn't like talking on the phone. So, I don't call often.

Then, I get the passive aggressive comment when visiting. Step-mom talks about how HER daughter calls HER EVERY DAY, even if just for a moment. I tell her she's lucky, but feel the unspoken sting of her words. No, I don't call my father every day.

I've NEVER spoken to my father every day, not even when he was still married to my mother! Between travelling for work, travelling to visit family, leaving me with his sister for two summers, deciding to NOT join in the family vacation two other summers, I don't know. How am I supposed to have formed that kind of relationship with him?

So, why am I being found at fault by my stepmother for not having THAT relationship with my Dad? After all, he might have been a custodial Dad except that he didn't want a 'Brady Bunch' family when he married her. And, she is mother to her to kids, so they were naturally with her. And, that left me with my uBPD mother. And, he didn't bother to call ME every day when HE was the adult and I was the recently 'divorced' kid with no choice in the matter.

I do just wonder if I make too much of the fact that he really was a distant person to me most of my childhood. That he was distant literally and figuratively after the divorce. That, even as I became an adult, *I* kept up the same minimal communication patterns, but somehow *I* was still at fault in the situation. Because, I was supposed to have some revelation and know that suddenly, with adulthood was supposed to come an awakening that he loved me and WANTED to talk with me more? That wasn't my experience.

He didn't care enough when I was a kid, why am I at fault now that I'm a grownup?

I've been the foot-note of the family for as long as I can remember.

Oh, yeah, then there was that last kid I had with the old first wifey. She's a lot like her mother. I hate her mother. No, we don't talk much, but I love her bunches (1) and worry about her all the time (2). If only SHE would CALL ME more often and let me know how she's doing. When I call her, she 'fine' talks me. No, I hadn't considered that, as far as I'm concerned because I have never DONE anything to HELP her in her adulthood when things WEREN'T fine that she has no reason to tell me about the crud stuff. I just know there's crud stuff (I ask her sister who she really talks to) and I worry about her. And I sit here NOT calling her and getting my jockey's in a twist because she doesn't call me more.

*** I'm chasing down the rabbit path here, but I think it bears telling the story: One time, when he could have REALLY made a difference in my young adult life, he chose not to. I was living alone, starving because work was hard to get when you have no college degree and no transportation and the only person willing to let me live with them wasn't family at all. I DID tell you that things were bad there. I DID ask for help. You and stepmom came to visit, took me out to lunch where I poured out my heart to you. I even bragged about my sister's visit where she gave me $20 and showed me how to stretch it at the grocery store (feeding me for a week on $20). Nope, you just took me out to lunch (surprise, broke people don't know restaurants in the area because they're too poor to be eating out!), drove me home and left the same day. Then, told the family that I was anorexic because of how thin I was. But, according to you, I might be bulimic because I sure ate well when you were buying. Of course I ate well - I was FINE, just POOR. Thanks again for the one meal in three years during the one visit in three years, even though I was ON THE WAY for you to visit my still living sister and all of stepmom's relatives.

(1) Yes, you send gifts. You email when more than two months have gone by without communication. You call sometimes - see note above about that. You hug me when I arrive at your place and when I leave. YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE IT CLEAR THAT I AM NOT WORTH VISITING. All my siblings are, Ireland is, Italy is, but not your youngest blood daughter. Hell, I thought providing you with a grandson MIGHT, just MIGHT. convince you that I am finally visit worthy. NOPE. Not me. Not the footnote. Still not worthy of anything except your empty worry.

(2) You worry. ()*^*%&^%*^)*^ your worry. Really, Dad. Sit on it and rotate like a record. Because worry is a word that implies two things - one, you don't think I'm capable. Two, that even if you THINK I'm capable, you're pretty sure I'm going to )*(^)*(^& things up and, since you're not doing ANYTHING about it - teaching, advising, practical helping - WHO CARES???? WHY should I care about your worry if it's stagnant, sitting in your back yard, talking it over with your wife, then IGNORING the next step of actually DOING anything about it. Oh - Third - not communicating with me in a real, loving, constructive way to find out HOW I'm handling it, whatever *it* is.

This turned into a missive. I'm sorry. If you've read this far, I've realized this became a vent of anger and hurt feelings over the vast valley that exists between what Dad thinks our relationship should be and what it is - and how little he's willing to make a difference or help me bridge that valley.

The last visits with Dad went like this, in order of most recent to oldest:
* I drove across 3 states with my child to YOUR house to visit for a week. (Just months before, you drove across the country to visit Stepmom's family. You realize how bad this sounds and justify it because they're all getting older and may die soon. So, my youth is the reason I'm not visit-worthy anymore. Ok.
* I drove my husband and me and our son to your house for a visit for Christmas (GC brother's bratty kids made that uncomfortable for me). It is after this trip you tell me that you can no longer visit me as I live too far away and travel is too difficult.
* You drove down to visit the adult grandchildren. That would put you only 1 1/2 hours away, so you stopped in town for dinner and stayed at a hotel. You left the next day while I was at work.
* I drove my husband and me and our son to New York, then down to your house for a visit afterward.
* I paid to fly you and Stepmom down for a birthday party for my son. You stayed for a weekend, in a hotel (which I understood).
* You and stepmom drove down for a visit the month after my son was born.

I'm not worthy. I never have been. Even the incentive of producing a grandson wasn't enough. Because, shortly after I had my son, the next generation - your GREAT grandchildren began coming. Now, my son, your 11th if you count all the different steps (and you say that you do) is old news with two blood great grand-sons and a great-granddaughter. Oh, my (step) granddaughter - born first in her generation - is not worthy either. She has only met you twice and while she thinks you're nice enough, she has no real idea who in &)(*&)( you are.

See, Dad, you got lost in HER relative shuffle. SHE has two blood great grandparents alive, not counting you and Mom and stepmom. She has all four blood grandparents alive - and then she also has me - AND I AM WORTHY to her. She may not have blood siblings or cousins yet, but that will come in time.

I matter more to my stepdaughter's daughter than I do to you. Not because of what I do for them, not JUST because we live in the same town, but because they consider me worthy of their time and love. And I don't guilt them if life got busy, so they didn't call me for a week or three. I do invite and ask them over and call them, making it clear I miss them when time goes by - NOT GUILT. And I don't practically hang up in their ear even if I've just done something nice for them and they don't thank me on MY schedule and to MY standards. It happens, and I let it go and love them still and call them still - NOT bringing up the nice thing I did. That's what I thought unconditional love was.

If I'm worth writing off because, while you were in Italy you were kind enough to buy me a purse and send it to me for my birthday and I didn't call RIGHT AWAY when I got it and life got busy because we'd JUST got our power back on after a week without, then, fine. That's just how it is and now I know even better that it's your terms or I'm not worthy. So, I guess I just won't be worthy. And, I reject your guilt because of it. Maybe because I'm still too PO'd over a lifetime of the same treatment.
Breathe. The rest of life can be established once you're sure you can breathe.

Join us on the Healing Porch. There is room for everyone. It's a wonderful place to just be. Alone or together. You are welcome on this porch!

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sanmagic7

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hey, wife2,

sounds to me like your anger is totally justified, and i'm glad you were able to get at least some of it out.

i don't understand, either, why some of us are held to different standards than others by people who you'd think would love and care about us simply because we are who we are.   i've had so many people with unrealistic expectations of me in my life, including my dad, that it makes my head spin.  he was the one who programmed me to be perfect, completely out of touch with the human side of myself.  he died when i was in my 20's, so i have no idea what my life might have been like with him in adulthood.

and, i've ended up with plenty of anger toward him.  i'd work thru a layer of it, think it was done, then a bit later, there would be another layer i uncovered and i'd be pounding my bed again.

you know, wife2, you don't deserve this kind of treatment.  not for any reason.  at all.  he's wrong to treat you like this.  that's not how a dad treats his daughter, not how he talks to her, not how he hints/guilts/disrespects her.  that is not unconditional love.  it sounds to me like he has some kind of agenda underneath his actions, but that is no excuse.  none at all.

i'm mad at him for treating you like that, too.   grrrrrr!!!  i'm sorry he continues to hurt you, and that you're in such pain.  if i had my magic wand, i'd make all those awful feelings go away, as well as all the hurtful words and actions.

since i can't, i can only offer you the love of a friend, and a warm cyber-hug.  it's the best i can do, but i wish i could do more. 
learn something from everything.

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Wife#2

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Thank you for that cyber-hug and friendship! That really did mean a lot to me this morning.

I thought about calling him this weekend, but you know what? I'll do the perfunctory call on Thanksgiving - unless he's gone down to my niece's house again this year (they're closer and visit-worthy often). Otherwise, I'm not going to worry about it. I'll talk to him when I call the others, I guess.

Now, I've got a post on how Mom can try to guilt me and ruin my ability to really relax on this holiday. I've got to claim it back. My husband is trying VERY hard to help me. I love that man!

Too bad he loves my Dad and thinks the world of him. It makes it hard to talk to hubby about Dad issues. At least I have THIS place and friends like you, SanMagic!
Breathe. The rest of life can be established once you're sure you can breathe.

Join us on the Healing Porch. There is room for everyone. It's a wonderful place to just be. Alone or together. You are welcome on this porch!

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Andyman73

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Wife#2,
Gonna shake the dust and cobwebs off this, if okay.

I'm 44 yrs old. My parents have called me less than 2 dozen times since I left home in the fall of 1992. I've called them a thousand times over that same time frame. Now we do text a little bit, every few weeks. I can't speak for my brothers. Many things happened over the years and I would hear about it through the grapevine. Future axw forced me off mainstream social media, 8-9 years ago...so I can't even use that to stay up to date. And they have never ever just stopped by to visit...from 4 miles away. Not one single time in the 19 years I've lived where I do. 
Been 41 years and not free yet. Most recent 21 years in abusive relationship/marriage...trying to escape

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Wife#2

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Oh, Andyman, that's really horrible! Dad has always had the excuse of geographical distance as his reason. Your parents just ACT as if that was so. I'm so sorry this is your reality!

I used to laugh that my mother thought roads and phones only worked in one direction - from her children to her. She and I went through a few rough patches that led to no contact, then very low contact. We're still minimal contact, but we do both call each other from time to time. She comes to MY house for holidays, at my invitation. She doesn't understand why we refuse to meet at her apartment anymore. The reality that my son is so allergic to her cat that he cannot be in the same confined space more than 5 minutes doesn't seem to sink in. But, at least we do see each other, now that she sees that there are TWO lanes on most roads.

It wasn't until I became blunt with both parents that they began to reach out more often. Then, I did the most passive aggressive thing I could think of. I refused to call either one until they called me at least once. Nearly a year went by with Mom - and then it was to try to guilt me into helping her medically because she was feeling lonely. For Dad, over a year went by. That's when the emails started appearing semi-regularly. Not the group emails everyone else got ( I was accidentally forwarded one by a sister), but at least they were something. It's been over a year since this post. The only thing that's changed is the date.

Oh, and I think my sister (the email forwarder) let a cat out of the bag that she wasn't supposed to. She told me that my father complained to her that he would find it very difficult to forgive anyone who missed his 80th birthday party. The reason I wasn't supposed to know that was that the only candidate to likely miss that party would be me. So, why was he saying this to her? And why would she share it with me? Even if he was kidding, that was incredibly insensitive. And, if it wasn't true, why would she say it? At this point, when I shared that comment with my husband, he and I both reached a 'that's enough - that's the final blow' stage.

We haven't confronted my sister (did he REALLY say that?) or my Dad (how could you? and with sis and not me?) about it. But, the reason I believe that it was both true and supposed to stay between him and sis is that Dad has been overboard lately in letting me know that I am loved, am 'still part of the family', calling about twice a month and emailing the no-call weeks. I have cried a lot over this whole situation. That has angered my husband - because of how hurt I must have been to be brought to tears. It's still hard to talk to him or my stepmother. But, I do still call and do still talk to them. Call me a sucker, but I do still seek their love and approval, even when all the evidence is that I am and will always remain the forgotten one, the footnote. Yes, the time is now to say the one I keep avoiding - the regretted accident.

I can't give good advice on this. I'm still in the thick of hurt feelings. What I can say is this. Find your truth. Find your worth in yourself. They haven't validated you in 19 years, they aren't going to. We will, those of us who are getting to know you or already know you now. We will. You are worthy, you are valuable, you do matter! To us! Maybe a break with no contact can help you discover this worth. Just resolve to NOT call or text them until after they reach out to you. Then, when it takes months, you have your answer of where you stand with them.

People won't always be honest about how they feel. But, they will generally, unintentionally, be honest with how they treat you. The actions (or lack of actions) speak volumes about where the relationship REALLY stands.  :hug: So, with that in mind, here are some hugs, so you know that YOU are real, you are WORTHY and I care!  :hug:  :hug:
Breathe. The rest of life can be established once you're sure you can breathe.

Join us on the Healing Porch. There is room for everyone. It's a wonderful place to just be. Alone or together. You are welcome on this porch!

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Andyman73

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Wife#2,

Things have changed...and I have also learned the reason why...They've had some hard truths to face, more so mom than dad. And she's made huge inroads into her changes...She admitted to being a self-righteous type personality, with narcissitic tendencies.  I just learned very recently, that dad had given her an ultimatum and she took it to heart. She said it has taken her a few years to move through that, but can see the changes being reflected back by those around her.  I only just learned this, in the past few weeks. I know her faith is what made that possible.

I had mostly had real connection with my dad, as an adult child, and have learned that many things were said and done at mom's behest. He was kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place.  So, while things aren't "great", I can definetly see that this will be a challenging period of growth for the 3 of us. Since they have learned of my abuse history, including future abusive ex wife, they have been quite different with me. They have been educating themselves through both their church and other resources. They were never blind to abuse, and always helped in any way they could. But it's only since I shared my story with them, that they realized they had been abusive as well. Just not in ways most people would have recognized as abuse while raising my 2 brothers and I. For me, that is HUGE!. They have taken me by surprise with the effort that they are putting into this...see...they are raising 2 of their grandkids, fully adopted them..who had suffered abuse by my one SIL, an abuse victim herself.  What blew me away was they actually asked me some questions about my niece's behavior, in relation to the how csa/r and dv abuse effects kids. They never ever asked me anything about anything, where my experience and knowledge trumped theirs. And they have 16+ years of college between them.

They have been sharing with me, in the past few weeks since I first posted on your thread, things from their own childhoods and family history. These have been really eye opening for me. While it does not excuse their behavior one bit, it gives me insight into the hows and whys of their own actions and choices. I've learned that I am a 4th generation DV victim/survivor, on both sides of my family. So...yeah...

One thing that I never knew, or even thought of was that they stayed away because of my wife.  While that doesn't account for the years I wasn't with her, it certainly makes sense for the past 19 years. That, and some things that have happened in my family over the years didnt' help at all.

I do understand your position, especially after your sister dropped that birthday related bomb on you. My younger brother is basically at that point with my parents too. He knows it takes two, so, he said yesterday, that the ball is in my parents court, and they need to make that move. But parents had told me recently, that they've been getting the same cold shoulder from their own siblings. So you can see how a family can fracture and the cracks continue to spread through each successive generation.

When I first told them that my marriage is officially dead and buried, and that I was leaving her, they were overjoyed. I had no idea how much this had been weighing on them over the years. I thought so much between us was from the past, but in reality, that is just a small part of it.  And wife was a huge part of it. I don't know who these people are, but I think I can accept them as suitable replacements for the parents I used to know.  I will have to lean heavily on my faith, and my online community friends (hint hint, you guys here!  :bighug:)

Thank you so very very much for sharing with me. It moved me to tears with your pain, but also with your courage. I understand that for some...NC is the only option.  I would gladly be a part of your family.  And you are not a sucker for still seeking their approval. Okay? So many of us do, even without any trauma in our lives.  So...I give you my approval, wholeheartedly, without reservation.  You are worthy, too!!! And I care!!!  :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:
Been 41 years and not free yet. Most recent 21 years in abusive relationship/marriage...trying to escape

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sanmagic7

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andy, good to hear from you, to know you're well, and that you're beginning to have a better relationship with your folks.  perhaps this is all on the verge of breaking the cycle, especially with their new 'children'.  i'm just glad you're feeling better about it and have been able to tell them your story.

wife2, all i can say is i miss you, and hope you're doing ok.  love all around, and hugs, too.
learn something from everything.

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radical

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I'm sorry W2.
You really don't deserve how you have been treated.

I was similarly treated by my mother in adulthood, and I recognise all those painful comparisons and paradoxes, each one of which would be explained away, if I'd raised them with her.  Our relationship has been painful and difficult all my life, and she has always been very defensive about her very different treatment of me.

Things have been different for the past year.  She won't be around much longer, we both know that.  It was acknowledged by the whole family that last Christmas will be her last.  I've been very glad to feel like one of her children, to feel valued, but it doesn't take away everything that came before.

One of the biggest things in her 'avoiding' me was guilt, I believe.  I doubt she could ever admit to herself how harmful her behaviour was, but now she at least recognises that she let me down.  Being in contact with me over the years made her feel bad, and I'm sure she put that on me, but I believe the real reason is that contact with me made her feel bad about herself.  She liked to talk to others about me as if she was a loving mother, but most of what she said was undermining of me and covering her lack, to others and to herself.

I'm not suggesting our situations are the same.  I recognise the pattern you describe of adult child neglect, (for want of  a better term) of stark differences in treatment  and in attitudes towards other family members and the way she behaved towards me.  It would have been easier on me if there had been no pretence that she felt the same way about me as she did towards my siblings, if she hadn't spoken to others of her concern about me, as if the distance came from my end.  When we spoke I always felt that she was already preparing to get off the phone as soon as possible, and it always hurt. 

So I wanted to acknowledge the pain of a kind of covert rejection rejection, even though the reasons and the forms it can take, can be very different.

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Andyman73

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W#2,
I never understood this kind of family dynamic in others. Not until my memories returned, and I began to see the truth in my own childhood experience. And how it translated into the adult child relationship with my parents. And while I know many others have had outright betrayals and truly horrific treatment by their parents...and I don't mean mental and emotional abuse type, but truly interfereing with their lives. The non-physical interactions really take a toll on us. The comments, looks, reactions, snubs, you name it...the weight those things carry far outweigh the physical.

I am forging a new path with my own parents. While we may never get to the truly happy healthy relationship, we are making progress to a solid good relationship.  I wish all of you could experience something similar in your own relationships. I know some of you have been treated so badly that this just isn't possiple, so I wish you all peace. I don't believe my parents will ever truly understand or accept the depths of the abuse I endured, from them or any other source.  As they are learning more, I can tell that they are feeling more hurt for me, and I appreciate that.  I have to let this make it's own way, I know they don't really believe that they abused me, and to me, I will have to be okay with that, for now.  They have at least accepted that they did things back then that truly weren't acceptable, and certainly would get them in trouble in this day and age.
Been 41 years and not free yet. Most recent 21 years in abusive relationship/marriage...trying to escape