Update on my note to dad...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by witzend, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You probably remember my writing a note to my dad last month after learning he had bypass surgery last winter (and having been called callous because I didn't know about it... however that works. I had said:

    "I just heard about your heart surgery last week. I'm sorry to hear that you were so ill, and glad you have recovered. I'm sorry that things are still so bad between you and I after all these years. I do love you."

    I got a card about a week ago from him. I think it is the first I have ever received. He told me all about how sick he was last winter. Period. He did sign it "Love, Dad", but that's as close as it got to depth. He described several other complications he had as well. Things that have happened to me which made me a big hypochondriac complainer (his words), but were life threatening to him.

    I asked husband what he thought about why he wouldn't say anything in return to me about the health of our relationship, and husband said he thought my dad wasn't capable. I asked if he meant that he wasn't capable of saying that or what? He said he thought that my dad wasn't capable of feeling any real love for anyone other than himself and while he may think he loves me out of obligation, he really hasn't given in a thought, and isn't capable of understanding the concept, let alone care about the hurt it has caused. husband has known my dad for 25 years, so I think he's entitled to his opinion. It sounds about right.

    husband and I also talked about my mom's role in this. husband feels that my dad is so hopeless and mean that my mom won't ever try to defend anyone from him. I agree, and my reaction to that is that she is a shallow woman who lets others be bullied rather than protect those she supposedly "loves". Not doing what you can to protect someone when they need help is just as bad as abusing someone. It just comes in a prettier package. Overall, I'm actually more angry with my mom for her inaction than I am for my dad's narcissism.

    So, all in all, it was about what I had expected if there was any reply. It was "all about dad." He doesn't want a relationship with me any more than I want one with him. It works well that way, and I am not at all upset by the note.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Its nice he at least took the time to write back.

    The difficult children' bio father has been suggested to be narcissistic. It fits. And it also helps me to not paint him in a negative light to both the boys - I beleive he loves them to the extent that he is capable. To you and me, that's hideous, but I beleive he just doesn't have the capacity to truly love other people. Even when he does demonstrate his "love" for others, there is an underlying reason for himself why he's doing it. It is actually the trait that makes him a good nurse.

    Sounds like you have a good husband, too, who sees it all pretty clearly.

    Take it for what it is - most likely, a note of endearment from a man unable to do any better. As for being angry with your mom - I'm with you - darn right you ought to be. Just cause your dad isn't capable of doing any better doesn't mean you didn't deserve better, and she possibly could have protected you from his harshness.

    Hugs. Hope its a good day.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Shari, you could have been describing my dad to a T. The funny thing about L in this is that her dad is diagnosed narcissistic. He gives her money so that is a good attachment for them. But, maybe that is why she understands my dad and thinks it's ok. She's never spent any meaningful time with a man who actually loves her. Present boyfriend included.
  4. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Your Dad's note does sound very narcissistic. Unfortunately your husband probably has a good handle on your father and his abilities/lack thereof. I'm sorry; it's such a hard thing to come to grips with. Being angry at your mom is understandable too, although she may have been so intimidated or abused in other ways that she didn't go to bat on your behalf. But whatever the situation, in spite of both of them you have become a warm, loving, balanced human being with your own family and relationships. And that's to celebrate. :)
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My Ex is very much like your Dad. His indifference sent the oldest two easy child's to a shrink and as a result I forced myself to have a conversation with him explaining that they were teens and needed to know he loved them etc. It was all very softly delivered info making sure I didn't put him on the defensive. His response was he bought our daughter a watch and
    took her to DQ for a thirty minute visit. He never did reach out to our son. He honestly believes he is a "good Dad". :confused:

    His fifth wife (yes, 5th) is a nice woman who has taken time to tell the children that their Dad "just can't be what they want" because ??? "he was an only child".

    They, like you, have adapted. It's a shame. DDD
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Witz, this is my husband in a nutshell. I no longer protect the kids from the way he is. Now that they're adults I figure they can handle it. But Lord help him if I see/hear of him mistreating them cuz he's gonna catch it from me, and it won't be pretty.

    Odd thing, I did all that "protecting" but really, I don't think it did any good. I'm pretty sure by the age of about 10 they had their Dad's number. And relationships began to deteriorate from there. Sad.

    My kids respect their Dad because I require it. But they don't have to put up with his behavior. Nor do I fault them when they tell him off. (and they have) He did this to himself/them and has no one to blame but himself.

    Your Did is unable due to his issues. Your Mom I suspect, may have cast herself into victim role and now feels comfortable there.

    So they both lose out on a terrific daughter. Lose/lose for them all the way around.

    Although I am surprised that he even bothered replying. Have to admit in the back of my mind I'm wondering if he's not trying to make you feel guilty. That would be my husband's MO.

  7. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    My dad is similar in that it's always all about him, even when I was in the hospital with a heart attack. The difference is he is capable of love; he just doesn't know how to deal with it. So he doesn't. The other difference is I don't think my dad does it out of guilt. He's always looking for sympathy.

    I tried for years to accept him as he is. Only meeting for lunch during the week so there was a designated start and end time, etc. That worked for a while. But, as life became more complicated for me and he turned it into all about him, I couldn't do it anymore. If he couldn't grow up and handle his part of the relationship, I wasn't interested.

    Bottom line is, I was tired of being hurt again and again by his selfishness.

    It sounds like you've come to terms with this and are at a good place. I think we expect our mother's to protect us more than our father's and it hurts a heck of a lot more when they let us down. I understand your anger there.

    They've missed out on a lot. If they weren't so nasty to you, I'd almost feel sorry for them.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You know, I have to give credit where credit is due for my dad. He worked hard all his life. He sent all five of us to parochial schools on a working man's wage and sometimes that meant that he had to work several jobs. He wasn't a bum. He was and is a drunk, and a mean one at that. He only beat us when he was pushed, and I say that fully aware that was no excuse. Only a measurement that it happened only to some of us and only occasionally. It wasn't a regular weekend thing or every time he got ticked. We just didn't have any examples of love from him. I think that is what makes it so hard for some in the family. The only way to feel like you were getting anywhere with him was to treat him like he was the big hero and the answer man, so everyone was always tripping all over themselves for his approval.

    As for my mom - as ticked off as I got at my kids, I was also a warrior mom, and heaven help anyone who had the nerve to badmouth or pick on them. husband included.
  9. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Ya know witz - I thought about this post a long while before I responded. So take it for what it's worth.

    1) I don't know how old your dad is - but there is a generation of men who 'loved' their families by working hard to provide them with material necessities. It is their 'love language' if you will. My father is one of those men.

    2) I don't know your dad - but men in general are NOT deep thinkers or feelers. To get some men to acknowledge, let alone verbalize an emotion is almost beyond the realm of possible. My father is one of those men. I have never really seen or heard much in the way of deep feelings from him except toward my own children - his grandchildren.

    Men our dad's ages were never expected to 'nurture' their children really. It just isn't what dad's did. It's sad - but it's a fact.

    3) As people age they do in fact become more narcissistic and often hypochondriacs. I suppose as we approach death we become more aware of our own frailties.

    None of these things negates your hurt or desire to have a close loving relationship with your dad. I just hope that in pointing out some generalities, it helps to understand a bit where your dad is at. It helped me to understand that my own dad is a product of his own upbringing and culture. It helps me to remember that our parent's shortcomings are really NOT about us - but more about them.

    I think sometimes age softens men. It did my own dad and father in law. Perhaps they do come to a place of realization. My hope is that your dad will get there too.
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    GG, I appreciate your thoughts, and it's not that I haven't heard them before. I disagree with them. It was more acceptable for men of their generation to be that way, and more acceptable for women of my mother's generation to tolerate it in everything that they did. But there are two problems I find with that playing into real life, though. (by the way, he's 80, and I am nearing 50. He's the oldest of four, I'm the youngest of 5.)

    1) Not all men of his generation were like that. Many men worked hard and were able to show love to their families.

    2) It's a shortcoming that was never addressed because 50 years ago society found it more acceptable. Forty five years ago it began to be less acceptable and everyone has to grow up sometime, even what was then a 35 year old man.

    He told me the last time I talked (fell out) with him that my sister-in-law went to him and told him how messed up my brother T was because nothing T did ever made my dad proud of him. All five of us kids did very well in school, weren't in trouble with the law, had homes and families, but her depiction was totally accurate. T is the only of us to have any kind of degree, and is a "househusband" because his wife earns a ton of money and he can't keep a job. Dad puffed up his chest and told me "I told her that I never was and never will be proud of my kids because perfection is the least I expect of them." WTH! He was totally serious and it is totally accurate. We can be perfect, and he will never be proud of us because that's his low measuring point. Because his children must at least all be perfect. Mind you, everyone else's children and grandchildren get kudos for every little thing that they do because they are not "his".

    Sad to say, with my dad, it's pure unadulterated ego. But you are right that it was more acceptable 50 years ago. But the man hasn't worked in 30 years and is living on my mother's siblings' inheritances. It was time for him to give 50 years ago up a long time ago. But I would have been happy with him having a clue when someone told him 15 years ago that we all were messed up because he has no pride in us. It didn't even dawn on him that he could do a small thing to make us happy, all he could do was justify our pain with his need to feed his ego.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  11. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    "I told her that I never was and never will be proud of my kids because perfection is the least I expect of them."

    I'm sorry witz. This is way beyond being a generational thing. This is just plain being mean and controlling. This is above and beyond the inability to say the words "I love you". He's deluded.

    *sigh* It's so hard to come to terms with having messed up parents.

    Again I'm sorry for you.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Yep, he was pretty proud of having come up with that idea, and of having the opportunity to verbalize it twice was more than he could have hoped for, I'm sure.
  13. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    It really is a shame when our parents can't be the parents they should be. I'm in the same boat with my mother. I guess I'm lucky that we have a relationship at all but it is strictly on her terms. I'm just not becoming an adult enough to put my foot down and say this is what I am and what I am doing with my life. Accept it or not.

    Your dad has cheated himself out of his kids. He'll ultimately lose the love and respect of his grandkids and great-grandkids if he hasn't already. His loss. Not theirs.

    I hate that you don't have a relationship with your family. I know that hurts but the reality is they are the losers, not you. As the saying goes, you can choose your friends but not your family. However, it doesn't go quite far enough -- you can choose to stay away from your family and, sometimes, it is the only option that is viable. Who knows, maybe one day they'll see what a truly wonderful person you are. If not, then stick with your friends who do love and appreciate you (including us).