My relationship with my emotionally abusive, BPD father has been strained lately; now, after realizing the extent to which his actions was causing me undue stress, I have cut off contact with him completely. But not having a father figure in my life is causing me stress as well. How do I deal with the pain of cutting my father out of my life?
posted by Kamelot123 to human relations (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ever since I have become an adult, I have had a hard time dealing with my father, have gotten to the point that I would like to cut him out of my life. I am having a hard time dealing with this.
He has always been a hot/cold individual, ever since I was a kid - the good times were good, but the bad times were pretty sucky. He is also rather narcissistic and an alcohol/drug abuser - I suspect he has Borderline Personality Disorder, or something along that line. His ex-wife also thought the same thing.
He is also very confrontational, and I think this is a reason I am very afraid of getting angry as an adult. My alarm clock as a child would more often than not be that of him and his (now ex) wife fighting over the most trivial matters.
He is very afraid of being abandoned - he was against me studying abroad in college, and argued that I was making a big mistake and needed to be close to the family (it was actually the best decision of my life. He now claims that he supported my decision to go, and I honestly believe that he has convinced himself that this was the case). But his actions lately leave the ones who love/loved him no choice but to avoid and ostracize him.
He has never been physically or sexually abusive, but he is able to say the most hurtful/critical things during an argument, then forget about them right after and wonder why you haven't gotten over the fight yet. And the guilt trips he leaves for anyone holding a grudge against him are simply awful - in the past he used to be very good at manipulating others, although now he oftentimes just sounds crazy. I oftentimes felt as if I was the adult in our relationship and he was the child, which caused me to have a lot of resentment towards him that I don't have a stable father figure.
Even if he knows he has made a mistake, he refuses to take any blame and makes excuses for his behavior. He was apparently diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and he uses that as a crutch for every bad thing he has done to anyone in his life. He also alternates between badmouthing everyone I hold dear, and holding them up on a pedestal when they are helping him, particularly monetarily.
His alcoholism has gotten worse since his divorce from his 2nd wife (my stepmom, who I am close to) about 5 years ago. He was dependent on her financially, and has not held a job in I would say at least 25 years. He is now still unemployed, and refuses to take any job that is "beneath him."
I am living out-of-country right now, so all the speaking I do with him is through email. But whether through the written word or through verbal conversation, talks with him inevitably take a turn towards the negative - He would begin speaking ill about someone close to me who is not helping him enough, or badmouthing his 2nd wife - who I am close with and have told him repeatedly is off-limits in conversation. When I was in America, It eventually got to the point where I would have to have a few drinks before calling him him, because simply the punching in his number on the phone would cause me stress. For the past 4 months or so, I haven't been responding to his emails, instead just reading one every once in a while.
He would literally send me up to 10 emails a day, to every one of my email accounts - alternating between how much he loves me/how good the past was when we were a happy family/how I and other loved ones have betrayed him. In the past I told him I was getting overwhelmed by his torrent of emails, and I needed some time without any contact from him to think about things. This caused him to send even more messages, mainly alternating between angry guilt trips and reminiscing about the "good times," when my brother and I were kids. I honestly believe he wishes that we were both little kids again, so that we didn't have a mind of our own yet and would agree with anything he said like we used to. I do not return his emails anymore.
I eventually put him in my email spam filter, but I made the mistake of reading a few lately. Apparently I have no heart since I do not forgive him for his illness (he always claims in the current mail that he "is better now"). I am also apparently the reason for his failed marriage, since I did not try hard enough to convince his ex-wife to stay with him (I still think her leaving was the right decision). I was a mess for a few days after reading these.
Usually when he hurts me, I send him a letter telling him how I feel and explaining to him that I will not be able to deal with him if he keeps this up. I have decided this time not to reply, but instead simply cut off all contact with him.
He has since apologized for those emails, of course blaming the bipolar again. His motto and rationale for his actions, according to him, is that "under the anger is hurt, and under the hurt is love." He knows that I do not read most of his emails, so he puts what he wants to say in the headlines - that stresses me out more.
I'm sure he is drinking when he sends the emails. But reading his emails is like trying to play minesweeper - For ever 5 or 6 good mails he sends, there will be one critical, negative one in the bunch that puts me in a funk for the rest of the day.
My mom is amazing, thank God - without her, I honestly don't know where I would be right now. She actually is on a speaking basis with him, even though he constantly belittles her - I don't know how or why she she does it. She says she feels pity for the man he has become. The way he treats people, I have a hard time feeling even that emotion for him. She is much better at dealing with him than I am.
My mom and brother are angry at the way he is treating me, and my mom in particular says I should not keep in contact with him. But whenever I am around friends who are describing their close relationship with their father, I feel an empty pit in my stomach. I actually have dreams/nightmares in which I am fighting with him/making up with him, and it is driving me crazy. I desperately want to have a father/son relationship, but I just cannot see how I can deal with this man. I could deal if it was just mental illness, but I cannot tolerate the constant negativity and malice he shows to others.
I have decided that I need him out of my life, at least for a year or so, although I am very wobbly on this. I always am tempted to check my spam, although I know for certain that his mails will be in there and the content of the messages will not be good. I would like some advice from people who have been in similar situations with an emotionally abusive parent on how to cope. The stress I am feeling from this is making it difficult to handle my other current life stressors.
PS: I am trying to get into therapy, but there is a looooong wait list and it will not happen for at least a couple of months (I live in Tokyo). I am trying to start a regular exercise routine.