My radical idea: that I no longer had to have a relationship with my father, the man that allowed my mother to abuse me, and never once came to my rescue. This radical idea came to me after a year of therapy. I had been in therapy before, with a therapist that ensured me that I needed to view my mother and father as “flawed” people, and that would cure the feeling that I was only alone in this world – a feeling that came to me about age 5, and never really left. I had no idea what normal looked like, but something in me always knew that our family life was way distant from everyone else’s normal.
When I was growing up, my mother was an alcoholic. She also suffered from narcissism and borderline personality disorder. I was an only child for 10 years, so I was the sole focus of her abuse. Later, after my two sisters were born, I was the family scapegoat. My mother’s abuse came in physical hitting, anger and hurtful words. I lost count of the number of times she told me she hated me and that my birth had ruined her life. All the while my father sat there passively and did nothing. I can still clearly see him sitting in the living room of our house, reading the newspaper, while my mother flung abuse at me. Later, when my sister’s and I confronted our father about our mother’s drinking and abuse, he would just shrug his shoulder and said “who is she hurting?”, as a way of not dealing with it.
Long after I left home, my mother played fast and loose with her medication for emphysema and eventually she died, while undergoing a transplant operation. And for several months afterward, our father leaned on us with phone calls and conversations, until he met another woman. He married her and he allowed her to drive a wedge between us.. She particularly disliked me, especially after my uncle left his entire estate to me. My father tried to get the will overturned in his favor, and he didn’t speak to me for about 2 years. During that time, he had open heart surgery, which he and his wife decided not to tell me about. I was obviously the villain because I wouldn’t hand over that which my uncle wanted me to have. He showed up at my uncle’s house, shortly after his death, and confronted me directly, about what he was going to get out of this. I forgave him and thought it was likely his greedy 2nd wife who was pushing him.
After about 10 years, his second wife died. There were weekly phone calls again, but never did he inquire about what I was doing, how my husband was doing or anything pertaining to our lives. It was always about him. He told me that he eschewed the club house in his senior community, because they just sat around and bragged about their children and grandchildren…. leaving me to conclude that he felt that my sisters and I weren’t worth talking about. After his wife died, he ended up in the hospital a couple of times, and I rushed there to oversee his care and to coordinate with his Drs. One time, when they put him on a special diet, I was there for over two weeks, making him bland but edible food that he could eat. Did he thank me? No. It was just expected that I would show up and do what needed to be done.
Soon he had another lady friend. He gave her gifts for her birthday and Christmas. Three years ago, he told me that “everyone” down in Florida, where he lives, was sending just one card, for those with birthdays around Christmas. He didn’t have the time to shop for a card for my birthday (Dec 15th) and instead sent me a Christmas card, which an Oh-by-the-way, birthday greeting in it too. He did the same to my sister. We weren’t even worth a card, in his mind. It finally opened my eyes to how little he cared about us. He never once worried about our lives, our feelings, and what damage my mother did to us, the result of his enabling her.
So I made the radical decision to drop him from my life. He is a toxic person to me and I realized that he no longer earned a place in my life. Someone else would have to deal with his emergencies and listen to him complain about his life. He has written me a number of letters, which I have thrown in the trash, unopened. He sent me a birthday card last year that went into the trash, unopened. And radical as it may seem, I don’t feel a thing about it.