Now that I know I hate my abusive father, what can I do specifically to move forward?
I grew up in a very violent and abusive home. My father abused me, my siblings, and my mother physically and emotionally until they divorced when I was 13. There was some contact after that because we all needed him to provide money for schooling or medical bills, but he used that money to manipulate and control us in overt ways. For example, "You have to say X to me in order to convince me that I should give you money to go to the doctor." Or, "If you don't do Y for me, then I don't think I feel like giving you money for textbooks anymore." It made me sick to my stomach and eventually I just went without or worked three jobs simultaneously so that I could avoid him more.
Now, I know this sounds illogical, but for most of my life, I
felt guilty that I did not have a better relationship with my father. I remember speaking with a counselor back in college about how I felt like I should
try to talk with my father about the abuse and ask him for an apology so that we could reconcile. I felt badly for years
for not loving him because "after all, he is my father."
Fast forward to now.
I am a 28 year old woman (in the mid-atlantic region of the USA) and I have been working weekly with a therapist who focuses on survivors of abuse for the better part of the past year. I also have been slowly implementing a lot of changes in my life regarding boundaries, safety, and stabilization. I have a long way to go, but I also recognize that I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have a beautiful life filled with making art and music and meaningful friendships with good people. I am struggling with intense depression and anxiety day-to-day, but deep down I feel hopeful that I am going to feel better eventually.
Recently, it hit me (while I was at someone's wedding actually and the father of the bride was making a speech about how wonderful and strong his daughter is) that I don't feel guilty anymore about not loving my father. In fact, I think I can calmly say that I hate him. Or at least that I don't want to have any contact with him ever again.
It was as if I finally saw it with clarity: this man abused me when I was a vulnerable child in ways that have made me terrified to speak about them for two decades -- and he continues to abuse me verbally in horrible ways when I force myself to be in touch with him because I think I ought
to. He has confirmed to me and my siblings that he has no willingness to acknowledge or apologize for any of the abuse. I think two of my four siblings are still speaking to him because they need his financial help or are hoping to receive an inheritance from him when he passes away. But I don't want his money or a relationship with him.
So, I am over it! Or, I want to be. This is where you come in, Ask MetaFilter!
I want to permanently sever ties with my father and move on with my life. I read this previous post
, but I want more. Please tell me:
a) how you cut ties with your abusive parent(s) successfully and in a way that has left you feeling stronger and happier
b) any literature you think I should read on the subject that will give me perspective and empower me
c) if you have any suggestions for a symbolic gesture or ceremonial act I could do to mark my decision (I know it sounds cheesy, but some part of me kind of wants to do this and I would like it to be a little bit more thought out than, oh smashing something or writing a letter to myself).
d) any advice to build on the wonderful comments in the thread
I linked to above that can help me provide myself with the kind of care and confidence that my father did not instill in me
Thank you in advance.