The elephant in the room for all with abusive relatives

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    So I wrote my dad a short (paragraph long) letter explaining that since he doesn't want me to contact him anymore, I will respect his wishes. I told him I loved him, but that only if he wanted to talk to me in a respectful way and contacted me first would we have a relationship. I wished him well and it had a cheerful, but sort of firm tone to it. So you'd think I wouldn't worry that he will call again and be mean.

    The problem with these people is that they don't respect boundaries. Although I think my letter will infuriate him because I took away his control over me (my inheritance and putting up with listening to hos swell he is and how rotten all of "you kids" are) I am afraid the effect on him WILL wear off. With my mother, she would hold a grudge forever. My father tends to get softer as time goes on, however, his phone calls after his extreme abuse and subsequent cutting out a child are not apologetic. More than that, they are like "You were still horrible, but I'm doing you the honor of talking to you again. I want to forget about this now. So because I choose not to discuss it again, it's over. Your wishes don't matter."

    I hope he doesn't do this to me. If there is one adult child who may get his wrath forever, fortunately, it is me as I am the family black sheep. However, I still worry when the cell rings that it's him and I breathe a sigh of relief when I see it's not. I know he'd never call me with respect and I am not ready to face more of this crapola and I may never be ready. I mean, I love him and dwish him well, but...I just am not the same person I used to be. I just plain CAN'T put up with abuse anymore. Period.

    So the elephant in the room now is my father. Unlike my sister, who will never ever contact me again unless I do it first, he could. And it's a mild stress. And as time goes on there is a bigger and bigger chance that he will. And nothing will change...he is 90, after all. I suppose, due to his age, if he calls me first and does not curse or tell me I'm a loser, I would let him talk and say "Uh huh" "yes" "ok" and "I love you. Bye. Have to go." But I don't think he will give me that normal conversation.

    So...hopefully it will be so far into the future when he calls that I am ready to take him on in the calm, measured way I did this time...and with the ability to just move on.

    It is sad when you have to hope your DNA collection will all leave you alone so that your life can stay peaceful and good. I feel that, even if he sadly passes soon, I have made my last words to him that I love him in spite of everything. I put it into writing.

    The saddest thing to me is that my father had it all...he was a successful pharmacist, well off, had kids that started out nice and not screwed up (although that changed as time went on), he saw the entire world, he has wonderful grandkids from me and my Sis and even has great-grands he chose to never meet...but his life could have been perceived by him as a wonderful, full life. Not to mention he is 90 and still sharp. But he chooses to see his life as himself never being appreicated, his kids being disappointments whom he couldn't brag about, no interest in the grands or great grands, my mom divorcing him...he is still bitter, his whole life is a bust in his mind.

    I feel for the personality disorder that he has (Narcissism) which blocks him from being able to look back and say, "I did it all. I have no regrets." He could have had so much love from so many people, but he repeatedly abused those who did love him and gave him many chances and did not try to have relationship with his children's children. His big beef is, "Your brother never married so MY NAME WILL DIE OFF! HOW DO YOU THINK I FEEL?" Yeah, bro didn't marry.

    It is sad to feel this way about a life that was always so filled with riches and good luck (health-wise).
  2. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Awww, MWM, I can see this has really been tearing you up all week, of course it would. First having your check stolen and cashed, dealing with the police, tracking everything down and now with your father the way he flipped out on you because of all of it. My grandfather is the same way. Everything and anything turns out to be me all my fault. He will find some way to blame me. I feel your anguish.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thank you, my friend. Yes, you do understand. Thank you for that. Gotta run to work. I answered YOUR post too ;) Have a good day!
  4. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Haha, I just saw! Have a great weekend!
  5. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Whether he is a full blown Narcissist or just highly developed traits is of no matter to you because he acts "as if". It sounds to me that you have been able to come to terms with "he is who he is". That is a good thing because nothing is worse than living on that tight-wire hoping to see change. HIS choices of not being involved with other family members are just one part of the narcissistic personality. "My way or the highway because I am all knowing". Add in manipulation an control and you know you are dealing with a dysfunctional personality. You are absolutely right that they do not respect boundaries and you have established yours, but somehow it seems hateful or against society to see these traits as they are and put boundaries in place to protect you and your life/emotions from being harmed by someone who can not respect them - especially a parent/child. And when you are dealing with a personality disordered person this can be quite maddening, especially when they are related to you. Anyone else in the outside world we would, after a while, permanently walk away. We should be able to safely love our birth family. When/if dealing with difficult child father, perhaps it would be better to take an attitude of "I will not try to make sense out of nonsense." And then use other coping mechanisms that work for you i.e. not picking up the phone/returning the call. I think it is one of the most painful situations to deal with to accept that our parents may not love us. (in this case because a narcissist only loves themselves and only cares how those attachments reflects on them, because he is personality disordered)

    I.E. the "Black Sheep" : remember the black sheep is only the sheep that is different from the others. So being the black sheep in a very dyfuntional family is actually a complement. It always amazes me how the so-called black sheep is usually the one that is somehow loudly announcing to the world (even if it is just in how the family member carries themselves) that there are huge problems within the family. I think in the psychiatric world it is called the "target patient" while everyone else is busy pointing out the problems of the "target" it purpose is to keep the focus off whatever other dysfunction is going on within the family.
  6. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I totally get it. My mother is abusive and mean spirited. She did have a horrific life in Nazi Germany. Married a GI to escape the past ( you can't). He turned out to be an abusive drunk. The 3 kids she gave birth too made her feel trapped in hell. She did not speak much English and was totally dependent on my dad. She became an alcoholic in order to cope. A day does not go by that she does not remind me that her horrible life was partially my fault.

    I have learned to tune her out, repeat the mantra " It is her not me", I acknowledge that her life has not been easy (takes the wind out of her sail), change the subject, get off the phone/ leave. Does it hurt? It used to. Now it is just tiresome. I put up with her, because she is in her 90's and she is the only mother I have.

    You are free to do as you please about your father. Things changed for me when I asked myself if I would have any regrets when she died and I had gone no contact.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, first of all, yes, all three of us siblings (and we NEVER see eye to eye) know that Dad is a full blown narcissist. There is no trait listed that he does not possess. Not one. You can not even talk to him about anything but himself or he will space out and not even do the polite "uh-huhs" that most people do. He is only happy when he is the center of attention. He also has an abusive temper. Not only does he say, and has always said, horrible things to us, but he has shoved a poor elderly woman at a dance because HE lost his coat and blamed her. I don't know the specifics, but the group who saw him was horrified. He never took the blame, just ranted as Sis and me about how she made a big deal out of his "little shove." He was abusive to anyone he brought into his life. Nobody was ever spared. Why his girlfriend put up with him for twenty years after my mom left him is a huge mystery to me.

    My Dad DOES love us though, to the extent that a narcissistic person can love. That means he can only care so deep and no deeper.

    I would never tell my 90 year old dad I'd never talk to him again due to your stated regrets. In fact, he told ME never to contact him again and then when I tried to call back a few times he would not answer. So I wrote him a short note and dropped it in the mail explaining that I would respect his wishes not to contact him and that he could certain contact me, but that he had to be respectful to me, as I am to him. That may be too much to ask of him, but since I wrote that invitation, I will not feel guilty if he dies and we haven't spoken. It was his decision. I'm done kissing anyone's behind only to be put down and in tears. Not happening. He knows where I live and my phone number and does not have to scream at me.

    My dad's favorite saying to all of us was, "Not one of your children have given me one moment of pleasure. NOT ONE!"

    Yet I know he loves us as much as he can.

    It was my mother who did not love me and, yes, it hurts, but it is not worth how hard I tried to get her to love me and it didn't work in the end. I have learned never to throw myself at anyone again just to get affection. And I don't feel bad about not contacting somebody who asked me not to. My family-of-origin is a sleeping lion and best to let sleeping lions lie.
  8. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    My mom gets really ticked off that I don't get upset at her constant put downs. It takes all the fun out of it for her. I get the I will write you out of my will speech. I took her copy of the will and redacted anything with my name attached and told her that now she did not have to worry about it anymore. She literally spluttered. I never laughed so hard in my life.
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    This is me and my mother.

    Yes, it's tiresome.

    She has made a will leaving everything to my brother - even though he refuses to have anything to do with her - and she still expects me to phone her and visit her. Why do I do that? It's because, as you say, she's the only mother I have. Will I grieve when she dies? No. I grieved more for my affectionate cat. My mother doesn't 'do' affection, only bitterness and self-pity. My brother says she has created the life and the relationships that she deserves. He's the king of detachment when it comes to my mother. haha.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Lucy...I did not grieve for my mother. She hated me and did not mind showing it. Part of this was that I called out t he family on their stuff, even as a small girl. Part of it was that her mother (my grandma) adored me and stuck up for me over her. Maybe my grandma should not have done so, but dysfunctional families do not work together and my grandma gave me the empathy and compassion and any stability that I have today. I still feel grief over losing my grandma.

    As for my mother, I grieved way before my mother died for the mother I wish she had been, but that wasn't her.

    At her funeral I was there trying to comfort those who she had been nice to and who were really grieving. None of my kids went to her funeral. They had barely known her (her choice).

    I will grieve for my father. We had a relationship...albeit a bad one. But it won't be the grief of a child who misses a loving parent. I will never think "Now that he's gone I miss him." You can't miss what you never really had.

    About his dang will, I told him that it's his money and he can do whatever he wants with it. I did not say what I really felt which was he is NOT going to control me with the will, but he can't. It is sad when parents try to use that to make their grown children do what they want. It is even sadder when grown children do it because of the will.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  11. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    MWM, there was a time when we believed our families' way of seeing the world was legitimate. We believed that who they needed us to be for them took precedence over who we needed to be, for ourselves.

    That is over.

    Our families don't know what to make of us now, because we are no longer looking the other way when they say or do something inappropriate. Because we are no longer overlooking the wrongnesses, we do not carry the shame of the things they have believed were true. Not about us, and not about them.

    It's like the elephant in the room turned out to be strong and wise and friendly and warm, once we befriended it. Once we stopped being afraid of it, it told us true things.

    And we were free.

  13. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

  14. cubsgirl

    cubsgirl Well-Known Member

    Oh MWM your post really hit home with me. My mother is a major narcissist and does not love me in the least. I haven't talked to her in 20 years - it has been a far better 20 years than the previous 20 when I lived with her. She put down everything I did and always talked about how I made her look bad. I am definitely the black sheep of the family and always was since about age 5.

    My dad and I have a pretty good relationship now that he divorced my mom (when I was 23) and has remarried a lovely lady. He, however, is all about the money and how much he makes and if his kids make a lot of money. I don't because I am on disability and he is just now coming around to accept that.

    This is the long way of saying I totally get your post. Hugs to you - I think you're handling it in a healthy way.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry. You have made the right decision. Hold firm.
    My mom was slightly like that, with the exception that on top of it, she drank and became more verbally abusive. She had a tight-knit group of drinking friends who were her "support" system. Underneath it all, she was ill-prepared for the responsibility of kids and shouldn't have had any at all. She would have made a great party-planner. I remember thinking several times that if I had met her as a stranger at a party, we would never meet again.
    Sad but we can't control our roots. Just our futures.
    Take care.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    MWM, I am so sorry that your dad made it necessary to write that letter. I think the letter is amazing though. You definitely have come a very long way from wherever you were as a young adult breaking into the world from a very dysfunctional family. I think your father is missing out in a MAJOR way by cutting you out of his world. I KNOW your mother's life would have been better and richer in the important ways if she had not treated you so horribly.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Susie.

    You have to understand narcissism though. The people are capable of cutting people, anyone, out of their lives and not looking back. In my father's case, I have always placated him and begged and played the game before to get him to talk to me again. I won't lie. Some of it was the inheritance. It certainly was not his loving as he has never been loving. Then I started doing dialectal behavioral therapy and studies mindfulness, Wise Mind and radical acceptance to a science. I decided to set boundaries toward everyone in their interactions with me because I lived with so much abuse. You can get used to it. I WAS used to abuse. But inside a bomb was starting to light. I didn't want it anymore. I hadn't done anything to deserve that sort of meanness. I'm not perfect and I made mistakes, but I tried apologizing each time I caught it. Trust me, most of the time my DNA collection did not accept my apology, but they did make sure they felt I was 100% responsible for any altercation, which gave them the right to continue the abuse. The funny thing is, with my mom, which was way before I realized I didn't need to be abused, I even apologized for things I hadn't done, just because she said I did them. She made up something I did, I apologized for it and took 100% responsibility. Now I kind of laugh at those days. I did this all through my 20's, 30's and even my early 40s. I got better in my 40's and started to catch on as I turned 50. Sad it has to take so long.

    I decided "no more from anybody." I started with 37 and it has been nothing short of at least a short-term miracle.

    I am tired of being controlled by my father's money, and I don't even know what he has and it doesn't really matter. We will be fine without his money, but I'm not fine if I allow him to scream at me, yell at me, call me names, blame me for his own mistakes, and cry like a baby at 61. I'm the head of my family now and I deserve to be treated with respect...yes, mutual respect. I also have to be respectful, at least in my morality. My father has said the most horrible to things to us and never apologized to any of us. At the same time he makes absurd claims that none of us dared challenge such as, "I was a great father." (canned laughter) "I took you to Florida every year" (he never took me anywhere. Gaslighting. Making stuff up. He took my younger siblings a few times).

    I have no interest in challenging his "great father" or "I took you on wonderful vacations" or "I paid for everything" (I mean, he kept a roof over our head and food on the table, but was controlling about it). I don't want to fight with anybody anymore. I also will not cut him off. I made it clear in my letter that if he wanted to contact me, I would be happy to hear from him, but that he had to talk to me with respect. I told him I wanted to make it clear that I loved him a lot. I wanted to make sure I put that in last.

    Since he can't accept even a reasonable request or mild "demand" so to speak, as most personality disordered people can't, he may never call again. It is up to him. I will send him a Channukah card saying Love Pam. I am not cutting him off. I am telling him that I am tired of being abused. Last time we spoke he was literally screaming so loud that I put the phone down and everyone in the room could still hear him screaming and abusing me.

    The funny thing is, nobody except people in my DNA collection abuse me like this.

    Your family is who loves you for who you are, not because of DNA. At least, not in my own personal definition. My father is 90. I could have waited for him to pass away and gotten my inheritance. But I don't even want it anymore. My family will be fine without it and, as my father has been healthy and people sometimes live well into their 90's these days, I will choose peace and respect for myself over the money, if indeed he disinherits me (shrug). If he does leave this world soon, and I wish him many more healthy years, I can honestly know that the last thing he heard from me was "I love you." I carefully wrote my letter so that I would not have regrets.

    Thanks again, Susiestar :)
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good job MWM. You set important, life changing boundaries. I believe that gives us peace of mind. You've shown enormous courage and self respect. Bravo!
  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    "I hadn't done anything to deserve that sort of meanness."

    This is great.

    I have done this! It's only been since I was able to see how deeply disrespectful it is to both people in the interaction to "smooth the waters" by taking responsibility for something I did not do that I was able to stop automatically doing that.

    "I also have to be respectful, at least in my morality."

    I love this.

    Ha! I can see your imagery so clearly here with that "canned laughter" !!!


    I like this because there is no anger in it.

    I don't think it is so much about the money. I see that same dynamic at work in my family.

    Here is an interesting thing: My mom and my sister (from whom I would not inherit, and who is younger than I am anyway), are both very much in to who gets what and who has more and who...I am not sure how to describe it. As I read through your interpretation of what has been happening as you came into clarity regarding the underlying dynamic of your relationship with your father, I could see my own relationship to both my mom and my sister.

    There is that same feeling of expectation, of "push."

    I am still angry about all of it, about the waste and the meanness and the pointless hurt of it. Just lately, I am coming around to a different perspective, and find myself letting go of resentment and even, anger.


    Like your sister, mine cut off the relationship (supposedly reluctantly), sometime last year. She told me then that "the Lord" would bring us back together if that was His plan, but that she had done all she could to "help" me, and was done.
    Though I am not aware of anything in particular the Lord has done to change things, apparently He has, because like yours, my sister has started calling, again.

    My mother is not calling.

    My sister likes to call at the most unexpected times. Whether I answer or not, it sets me on edge and brings all this back up. Her message at the last call was that she loves me and is going to continue calling. It left me feeling...dominated, somehow. It would be easy enough to put it away if she would stop calling. When she does this, I feel like someone so rotten for not being who I have always been.

    That's why I really like what you posted about respect.

    I get that.

    I am not there yet, but I get that.


  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh, Cedar, we have sooooooo he same way of seeing things, I think.

    If my sister calls me, I think I will tell her that we have tried many, many times to work it out between us, but that maybe it's just best if we keep in low contact. Yes, I'll use that expression. Every time we talk too often, somehow she gets furious at me and cuts me off, without allowing me to even explain my point of view, and it is just too stressful and hurtful. The first time she did it, I was in my early 30's. I was so mortified because I loved my little sister so much, and she had not explained why she was doing it, that I kept calling her to try to get her to talk to me. She kept letting the phone just ring so, in tears, I drove over to her house. I tried to get her to open up. It's comical now that I think about the scene.

    She is peeking from out of her drapes telling me to go away, she won't answer. I got so frustrated I took off my white tennis shoe (I can still see it) and threw it at her door, hitting it with a dull thud. Those were back in the days when I had more borderline traits than I do The next thing I knew, the cops were there telling me that my sister felt threatened and I had to leave. Me, who never hit anyone in my life and she knew it. Anyhow, as I backed my car out of the driveway, it So I was stuck in her driveway with the cop looking on and my sister peeking from behind the drapes of her house. My husband had to come to start the car. It was a scene out of a sitcom, really. Me with only one shoe on, holding the other one, getting out of the car, saying to the cop, "I would leave, but my car stalled" and the way he tried to hide a smile. I think he thought it was all sort of a joke.

    That was the beginning of her using the cops to control me when we were in a cut off. If I dared call her or even sent her a letter trying to reconcile during a cut off, she called the cops and said I was harassing her and, yes, a cop would stop by. She must have done the cops thing ten times. I mean, tell me, how can you have any sort of rational relationship with somebody who does THAT? A few times the cops acted apologetic. She kind of got a name for herself for calling so often.

    Still I believed she wanted to try and we tried once I moved out of state with each attempt ending with her cutting me off and she even called MY police a few times (we were friends with the police in our small town and he asked me if she had mental problems and she had told the cop that I did). I told him that I had a mood disorder, but that she had problems too, but would not admit it. I'm sure he believed me.

    Every time she cut me off, I cared less and less and expected it more and more. Last time I kept our texting "fight." That way I can look at it whenever I am tempted to call my sister because we DID have some fun times. After I read it I am always shocked anew at how vicious it was. She kept calling me a borderline, although I actually never had that diagnosis. It is ME who thinks I had traits. And I think she does as well, if not more than me. She was trying to bait me too, but I wouldn't let her. She brought up all kinds of stuff and I just have no desire to try again. It will not end up good.

    I mean, if she wants to talk once a week for maybe ten minutes, ok. That's it. But I think this time she will NOT call because I just did not respond to her baiting and namecalling. In the past, I did. But, as often happens, as this kept happening throughout the years it bothered me less and less which inensified her attacks to get a response out of me other than silence because I really don't like hanging up the phone on people. She'd yell, "ARE YOU STILL THERE?"

    I would say, "Yes."

    And as more years slipped by I stopped answering the phone that often if her name popped up. Finally, once, not too many years ago, she told me she had researched borderline personality disorder because she wanted to get along with me...she missed me...and wanted to see if it was (You can't make this stuff up). She concluded I didn't have borderline personality disorder...that her nutty boyfriend did, however. I was touched that she cared about me enough to try to get along with me in any way she saw fit so I just blew off her method and tried again. Sure enough, it didn't work. She did it again. And in our last conversation, in spite of having told me originally, that borderline did not fit me, she told me five times in that last text convo that I had it.

    Oh, well.

    Another joyous story of my DNA collection...lolol :)

    Sorry to steal the topic. Your post hit a nerve.

    I'm so glad that I am the "borderline"in the family. Otherwise I may be "normal" like the rest of them and, truly, that scares me. A lot.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014