My father is angry, my family is upset, and I feel responsible. What can I do?
September 14, 2011 7:10 PM Subscribe
My father has anger issues and my family's reactions makes me feel like everything is falling apart. Can I do anything? If I can't, what can I do to cope?
posted by anonymous to human relations (23 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
My father has anger problems. He gets mad easily, and with more anger than I used to believe a person could have. It’s scary and embarrassing, and sometimes he takes it out on family pets, which horrifies me.
Ever since I was little, my family would tell me I'm his favorite and that he never gets mad at me. Whenever there was bad news, I was asked to deliver it. And I would because I thought it was my role to make sure he didn't get mad at them.
Now that I'm an adult, it's only gotten worse. (For the record, I do not feel at all like an adult.)
I feel like my family expects me to stand up to my father and tell him what is and isn't appropriate, but the only thing I've learned in life is I can't control other people. I can only control my reactions to them. When I point this out, my family sees it as siding with him. At their request, I wrote him a heartfelt letter and asked if he would go to therapy. It helped for a while, but he dropped it and is angrier than ever.
He has used me as a weapon before, which hurt very much. My mom frequently thinks I'm upset with her or think she's stupid, or other awful untrue things, and trying to convince her that isn’t true can be difficult. I have asked him to stop and it hasn't reoccurred, but I'm always holding my breath.
I absolutely don't think his behavior is okay. However, I also don’t think some of what my other family does is okay. My mom asks me for advice and drags me into fights when they're going on. I have begun trying to take a stand on this by telling her I'm not qualified or I don't think it's fair to involve me in their arguments, and every instant of this has led to her accusing me of betrayal or ganging up on her, which also hurts very much. I have been told that these refusals are not acceptable, and I now second guess the confidence I had in choosing to back away.
My sister and father especially do not get along, and has gotten into verbal fights with me because I won’t agree with her that he’s a horrible father. He has made a lot of sacrifices for her and gives her anything she wants. This is no excuse for his angry behavior, but it’s disheartening that she often tries to convince our mom divorce him while he pays for everything in her life at the expense of his retirement. I suspect she wants it to be black and white where it isn’t.
What is the right thing to do? I would make it better if I knew how, but instead I keep fantasizing about moving far, far away and never answering the phone again. I see my family doing hurtful things to each other and feel hurt, and I’m sure I must be hurting them too in my own ways without knowing. I don't want to do that.
I know therapy is often suggested here, but any books or sites that might be helpful to get started with?
Even just responses to repeat to myself or others would be really helpful. Thank you.