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Father Issues


geek_usa
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I feel as though I don't actually like my father. I know that's a terrible thing to say, and it makes me feel guilty, but ever since I've known him he's been prone to anger, alcoholism, perfectionism and denialism of his own faults.

He's always gotten mad at me for the smallest mistakes. He is also verbally abusive. He will call me things like "retarded" (or, my personal favorite, when he asks "are you retarded?" and I tell him that's not nice, and he responds with "I didn't say you are retarded. I asked if you are retarded." Yeah, that's much better.)

And while he's always criticizing everyone for every little thing they do, he refuses to accept responsibility for any of his own actions. He frequently gets drunk and starts verbal fights in the house with my mother. Then, he blames the rest of us for making him drink and refuses to accept that he chooses to drink. Once after physically hitting my mother, he was ordered to go to rehab. But that didn't help him at all because he pretty much told his counselors that he's totally fine, and apparently they took his word for it.

After he hit my mother, my siblings and I had to go to a foster home for a while. Instead of taking responsibility, he blamed his own children for saying bad things about him to the social workers, despite the fact that I didn't even say anything about him to the social workers and I protected him as best I could. I was probably only 9 or so at the time.

But, the part that makes me feel guilty is that he's not that stereotypical "abusive father" you see on TV who doesn't give a rat's ass about his kids. He cares about us a great deal. Most of the stress that drives him to drink is caused by work, as he has been trying for years to get his company to work out so that he can provide for us. He tries so hard to make our lives better, so that's why I feel guilty when I admit that I don't even really like him despite what he does for us.

I just can't stand his anger. Whenever something needs repairing around the house, I make sure I get to it before he does because he gets easily frustrated and if he has troubles repairing something, he will get angry and blame the rest of us for breaking it.

He is out of the country very often on business trips. The ironic thing is that he feels guilty for not being around more often, but I actually prefer when he's gone because then life is easier for me. No yelling and screaming. I dread having to pick up the phone when he calls, because I never know when he's gonna call drunk and yell at me for something from the other side of the world.

He also cannot accept that I have my own personality and don't want to be like him. He wants me to join the Navy because he joined the Navy, even though I do not care to join. He wants me to like the same music he likes and is angry when I don't feel like listening to his favorite CDs. He wants to choose what I do when I grow up. He wants me to be an engineer and a business man just like him. I really don't want to do either of those things. When I was younger, he never accepted the fact that I like to draw and was not supportive at all. There I was, about six years old sketching my favorite superheroes, and he'd tell me to stop drawing and do something else because he doesn't want me to be a cartoonist or something like that.

Because of all this, I am usually very quiet around him and we don't converse a lot. Usually, even the most innocent things I say to him can be used against me somehow, so I don't say much. I've never let him know how I feel towards him because I know it would cause more problems than it would solve.

Because of him, I have for years associated father figures with fear, coldness and strictness. I would even be kind of scared of my friends' fathers. It took me some time to realize that that is not what typical fathers are like. I'm even kind of uneasy when I see father-son relationships in television and movies because of him.

I think that he has also contributed to my social anxiety disorder. Because of him, I associate authority figures with fear, and so I am afraid to talk to them. I am often very shy around my boss and teachers, even though they are nice and welcoming people.

I don't even know what question I'm asking here, if I'm asking one at all. Maybe just how do I deal with this? I know he loves me very much, but at the same time I just can't make myself like him. I might love him (as you are supposed to love your family), but I can't say that I like him. What makes it sad is that he really wants to be pals with me and always talks about how he wants to do this and that with me and wants to hang out all the time. I'd like that if he were a totally different person, and I fear that makes me callous.

Edited by geek_usa
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Well, for what it's worth, I don't think it's a terrible thing for you to say that you don't like your father. The things you describe don't add up to a likeable person. And I know what it's like to have a parent who you don't like. I don't like my mother, at all. She's cold, manipulative, verbally abusive, and narcissistic. But, at the same time, I love her because she's my mother. It's confusing. It's easy to feel guilty about it. It's tough to deal with.

I'm not sure I have much in the way of advice. I can't say I've really figured out how to deal with my mother. The best advice I ever got, though, was to have boundaries when you deal with the person. Interact with them when you feel up to it, and don't "guilt" yourself into interacting with them when you don't want to. If they get angry, or say or do hurtful things, walk away. If you can bring yourself to do it, tell them (calmly) why you're walking away. If not, just walk away. Get out of the house. Distract yourself with something you enjoy.

Most of all, try to recognize that everything your father does is his issue, his choice. Sounds like you already understand that pretty well. But I guess what I'm saying is to try to remember that you should not feel guilty because he chooses to act like someone who's not likeable...

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Yeah, we don't get to choose our families, fix them very much, or trade them in for new ones ...

Maybe the best we can do is to grow beyond them, without losing the ability to love them. Certainly we're not required to spend the rest of our lives with them and enjoy it.

My dad's a good man. And he's a grumpy old cuss.

And how much I like him, at any given moment, depends a lot on which part _I_ focus on.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the responses, guys.

Yeah, I guess one of the reasons I feel guilty is because I've never let him know about how I feel, so I feel as though that makes me somewhat dishonest and fake. I just pretend everything's fine.

But, at the same time, I don't think he's one of those guys you can just "talk it out with". In the majority of instances, talking about a problem with someone is the right thing to do, but I don't feel this is one of them. It'd just start a lot more problems.

A lot of times after my parents have a fight, my mother will ask me if we should stay with my dad. I really hate that. An adult should not place that decision on her child.

But I always answer "yes, we should stay". And, to be honest, the only reason I answer with that is because our family has financial struggles, and I feel that if we moved away from my father, he would have to split what little money he gets between himself and child support or whatever.

And, seeing as we already get very behind on our bills and such, I don't think we could take another financial hit like that. Not without seriously changing our lifestyle. It may be selfish, but I don't want to have to give up any material wealth.

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