Paralyzed With Resentment
October 10, 2008 2:30 PM Subscribe
How can I stop thinking about my father's bigotry, hatred, and intolerance?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
With the impending election, emotions are crazy right now. My father (and mother), a die hard Republican, is driving me crazy. I know that Republican does not equal racism or intolerance, but my father is a racist and intolerant. He knows I am voting Democrat this year and we are both tense and on the offensive. I rarely discuss politics with him because it's useless. He is unable to engage in civilized conversation. He mostly yells, interrupts, storms out of the room, and bullies me.
Differing political ideology isn't the only thing that is bothering me. I can't stop thinking about the time (three years ago) he told me he thought faulty parenting caused my cousin to be gay. I can't stop thinking about the time when he wanted to join the KKK, and had literature on his desk about the KKK. I think he was a member for a short time. Other things keep running through my head: The time he told me people that wore Malcom X hats were idiots. The endless and numerous lectures that black people were only looking for handouts. The time he accused my mother of raising my sibling and I as "nigger lovers".
In the last several years he has toned down his language, but I know he still holds these beliefs. He rarely used the N-word around growing up. He never denounced homosexuality outright. He has said, I don't care what gay men do, but some of them "do disgusting things." I hate him for it. He has sent me derogatory, racist emails and YouTube links denouncing Obama. He and my mother think all Democrats are "mean and hateful" and "will bite you on the hand if you let them." They also claim that Democrats are either looking for a welfare check, have class envy, or are elitists. I take all of their opinions as a personal attack and feel paralyzed by it. My chest hurts. I get headaches. I'm stressed. I've started clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth for the first time in my life. I feel like my father is a monster in a way. Who is this man that raised me? I'm ashamed. I'm envious of people that have normal relationships with their parents. At times I feel I don't want my kids around him, even though he never says anything hateful around my kids. I visit my parents almost weekly. On one of the latest visits he apologized for sending me emails. I never complained about the emails, he just apologized out of the blue.
I'm looking for coping strategies. I wish I could forget about his ignorant ways and accept that he is only fearful. How do I continue a relationship with him without feeling defensive and angry? I'm going crazy. I resent my mother for loving and marrying someone like this. I resent her for sharing his views. I'm on the defensive with both of my parents. I live 10 minutes away. I cannot cut ties. My father and I have had a very strained relationship for a long, long time. He was abusive in my childhood, all the way up to my late teens. Some years were better than others. The running theme was that my father never cared about my opinions. He isn't, and was never, interested in my life. In my dreams, aspirations, or thoughts. I don't think he respects my profession or my gender. I expressed interest in returning to school for my graduate degree. He asked, "What for? and "Why would you want to do that?"
I'm afraid of him in a way. I'm afraid of confrontation. I pleaded with my husband not to put an Obama sticker on his vehicle because, "I didn't want to deal with my father's bullshit."
Even if he wasn't a bigot, I'd still have the past abuse to deal with. I don't blame them for my problems but I do have resentment that surfaces on a regular basis. I'm in my mid thirties now. I've been to months and months of therapy. I thought I had all of this behind me. My father and mother are not without their good qualities. I want a relationship with them. Cutting ties at this stage in our lives would be painful, I think. I do try to avoid them. I don't call my parents as much as I used to. I sometimes blow off visits. I mostly dread visiting them. I'm ill at ease when I'm there. When I speak with my mother on the phone, I'm not myself. I'm afraid of what they might think. I'm afraid that they will judge me and think poorly of my decisions.
How do I cope? How can I be around them and stop being so defensive and angry? How can I relax? I want to be the enlightened person that can maintain a relationship with them without wanting to scream, or hate them.