I'm a well-adjusted person plagued now by anger and disappointment re: her absentee father. Should I pursue therapy, or go about this a different route?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a long and complicated relationship with my father (haha, who doesn't?). My family came over to the United States from the former USSR about twenty years ago, when I was four years old. For the first year or two, my father was around pretty much the entire time, and we had our typical nuclear (though very poor immigrant) family. Then, my father began traveling frequently back to the "motherland" for what I understood to be business, but really, I have no idea. He would come back home every once in a while, but it got to the point where he was gone more than he was home. I know a child's mind can't really comprehend the passage of time. To me, it felt like he came home once or twice a year. It may have been more often.
When I was eleven years old and my sister was sixteen, my mom moved the three of us several states away from where we lived, at the suggestion of her long-time friend, and for cost of living reasons. My dad came back into our lives one more time, this time when I was thirteen, and stayed for a couple of months. He did a few projects around our new house, set my mom up with a leased car, and rang in the New Year with us. He took driving lessons and passed his driving test. By the time his license came in the mail, he was gone. I haven't seen him since. He's reached out to me a few times, and he's called, though infrequently. When I was college-aged, he sent me a few emails of poems translated into English. He sent me a text message once, which only said "I LOVE YOU," to which I had to respond with a "Who is this?" because I didn't even recognize the phone number. He responded only with his first name. I haven't heard from him directly since. When I was fifteen, many years after my parent's marriage had seriously dissolved, my mother filed for an uncontested divorce, where she had to put an ad in the paper to prove that she'd searched for my father, since we had no idea of his whereabouts at the time.
Growing up, I never felt particularly upset about my father. He very clearly favored me, to the point that he and his family (his mother in particular) ignored my sister's existence. But I didn't feel an emotional connection to him, I didn't fret when he would go away. I would be glad when he came home, because he brought me gifts from his travels. I didn't pay much attention when he tried to speak to me and my sister about anything serious.
A few years ago, my sister confessed to my mother and me that she had recalled repressed memories - memories of being molested by our father, of inappropriate touching. Though I don't have any such memories myself, my father did sneak up on me on several occasions during my childhood, snapping pictures of me in the bathtub and in the shower. I came across one of the pictures several months ago, while looking through a stack at my mother's house, only to take it home with me and rip it into pieces.
I've spent most of adolescence and my short time in adulthood not thinking about my father. When I got married, I made the conscious, easy decision to leave him out of it. I've been married close to three years. He only found out about a year and a half ago, because my cousin spilled the beans during an angry phone call.
But now, I feel anger all the time. In the past couple months, I've been thinking about my father constantly. The other night, I had a dream that he was hospitalized nearby. I dreamt that I drove over to the hospital, and confronted him - I went off about everything he'd done and not done over the course of my and my sister's lives. I had this fabulous cathartic moment. And then I woke up, and all I could feel is disappointment, and then this rush of frustration that it had only been a dream.
I wouldn't say that I have "daddy issues" -- I have an excellent relationship with my husband. I am not worried about being abandoned. I know he is nothing like my father. But I feel like this anger has taken over my thoughts, and I don't know how to release it. I often think about how a parent can practically ignore their child's existence. I wonder if I have half-brothers and sisters somewhere else. I know that I definitely, 100% do not want to find or speak to my father.
But I also feel like therapy is an incredibly narcissistic endeavor. I don't know how it would help me, or if it would ever be a worthwhile pursuit. I feel like I'm well-adjusted. How would therapy help me? Or else, how else can I attempt to overcome these issues?
tl;dr: I'm a well-adjusted person plagued now by anger and disappointment re: her absentee father. Should I pursue therapy, or go about this a different route?