My relationship with my dad is crap. I can't articulate why. I'm already in therapy, but my therapist is on vacation and I won't see her again for another few weeks. Help me out, if you can, in the meantime.
One of the things my therapist picked up on is my tendency toward verbal diarrhea, which is a large cause of my problems with my dad, so I am going to try to keep this as concise as possible. I have been seeing her for about a month and I'm pretty happy with it so far, I am also on Celexa. I have a history of depression/dysthymia. I did read this
, some of it applies but not all, I don't think.
I'm 28. My dad and mom are divorced; he moved out right after I went off to college, and they got officially divorced I think 3-4 years after that. He remarried someone last month, and he and his new wife are clearly extremely happy with each other. My parents grew apart a long time before they split up and were obviously unhappy; my dad says he was depressed but didn't have the willpower to do anything about it at the time. (After moving out he sought treatment and is better now.) Most of my memories of my dad from growing up are of him being silent and grumpy and lying on the couch watching Star Trek. I was afraid of him, though he never yelled at me or hit me or anything like that. My dad does not really remember any of this and thinks we had a great relationship during this time period (despite me telling him otherwise on numerous occasions).
Between the time when he moved out and into his own apartment, and this past August-ish, when I stopped speaking to him, we had many serious discussions about my direction in life and my financial situations, most of which resulted in my feeling extremely guilty and crying. Again, he never said anything abusive, I think it was mostly tone of voice and/or my own carried-over childhood issues. What with my verbal diarrhea tendencies, he learned a lot about my state of mind during this time period, because I basically told him in painful detail everything that ever happened to me; depression, relationships, being broke, etc. I got married, moved 500 miles away, bought a house (down payment was a loan from Dad and his new wife - his idea - also complicating things) and we had a son in October 2010.
Around August, I got tired of feeling like crap every time I talked to him (because every conversation was turning into a serious discussion about money/life direction), and sent him an email saying that I would not be speaking to him until I could get my shit in order. (I HAVE continued to send him pictures and status updates on his grandson, just nothing about myself.) I then attempted to do that for four months by myself, got nowhere, found that I wasn't actually really missing talking to him, and went into therapy/antidepressants in December. Dad's wedding in late December (which we did not go to, because he didn't tell us early enough for us to be able to plan for it and we were out of PTO) resparked conversation between us.
I have since sent him about 5-6 emails, in which I have explicitly stated multiple times that I am tired of having discussions about college/life direction, and tried to spark conversations about other things like movies and interesting links I found on the internet and food, and he has replied to each of them with little to no replies to my attempted conversation starters stating that it's really awkward and he misses me and just wants a personal close relationship like we used to have. The thing is, the "personal close relationship" was entirely one-sided and unhealthy.
Complicating matters a bit is religion. I'm an atheist, and he knows it, and we have had extensive discussions about it. He raised me Methodist, sounded much more like a deist when he moved out and stopped attending church, and now has married a very religious woman and has started reattending church and saying things like "I'm praying for you." For Christmas, out of nowhere (and this was NOT anything I had given any inclination of wanting), he sent me a set of religious relationship advice DVDs. It was like $75 and they're just sitting on my desk staring at me making me feel guilty.
My therapist says that I should understand what is/isn't people's business, and if someone asks me a question that isn't their business, especially if it's a written request, I should just not even acknowledge it. However, it's more difficult to do this with my Dad, where the thing that I don't want to reply to is the entire body of the email.
We're set to visit in April, because he hasn't seen his grandson in about a year. I'm mostly doing it for the grandson reason, at this point I have absolutely zero interest in seeing him, or having the inevitable personal heart-to-heart conversation I know he is going to try to push, and I don't know how much more explicitly I can say "I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THAT." (If my son was older I'd consider putting him on a plane by himself to see his grandpa.)
So, my question is, what can I say to my Dad? I feel terrible because this year, I want to finally be happy, and I'm trying really hard to get into a happy, relaxed, accepting-of-self mindspace (I think that's the biggest part of it, for me), and I'm finding that my vision of a happy me doesn't actually include him, but most people would take my Dad's boundless concern about my finances/career/life plan/etc as a positive thing, right?