So Much Anger-Don't Know What To Do
June 1, 2016 3:46 AM   Subscribe

For the single year that my brother was alive, my Dad ran off and left our family. Now my Dad insists on sending the family notices on the anniversary of my brother's death. This is so painful, how can I make it stop?

My brother was born with severe birth defects almost 40 years ago. During my brother's only year of life, my father left for "work" (according to my mother he was unreachable and living with another woman across the country). My mother was left behind to care for all four kids and her very elderly father who was living with us. My brother had to be fed through a tube in his stomach, was in a partial body cast to straighten his limbs, and had to have mucus constantly suctioned out of his lungs and mouth by hand. I have no idea how my mother endured it. She was always exhausted, of course, and had no support and she took out all of her fear and anger and despair on us kids (I'm not blaming her for that, you would have to be superhuman not to). It was just a really, really terrible time in all of our lives. I was the oldest kid in 8th grade.

In the last 15 or so years my father has taken to emailing or texting a picture of my brother's grave on the anniversary (or close to it) of my brother's death. This year he also included the word, "remember."

I may be a bad person for this, but I don't want to remember. Its agony. I feel guilt and pain and so many other things, but mostly I feel such ANGER towards my Dad. I feel like if my brother or any of us were so important to him, he would never have done all of terrible, abusive crap that he did and he wouldn't have left us when my brother and mother needed him so desperately. My Dad , as far as I can tell, is a raging narcissist. To me this feels like a play for the spot light. I am aware that this may not be the case, maybe somehow, there is genuine regret going on, but there seems to be no regret for the rest of the abusive stuff he did to us, just a constant rewriting of our family history in his own head to make himself out to be a great Dad. I don't know if an example is necessary, but in case it is... We had no medical insurance growing up. Once I mentioned this in front of one of my father's girlfriends and he denied it entirely and said we always had insurance. My Mom backs me up on this, we did not have medical insurance. My Dad told his friend right in front of me that I always make up dramatic stories and no one in the family could ever figure out why I do it.

So what can I do about this mostly yearly (some years he doesn't do it, but its pretty regular) occurrence. I can keep ignoring these photo messages, but I really want to confront my Dad. I did once ask him not to send me the pictures because it was painful for me, but he never complies with any of my requests having to do with anything and this request was also ignored. I think that confronting him, might shame him into stopping. Probably that is a bad idea, but it seems such an attractive one to me right now. If it is really not a good idea of me to confront him with my true feelings about this, is there anything I can do for myself to ease this rotten situation or possibly, better prepare myself to deal with the annual bout of rage and pain and bitterness this brings up.

I do plan to get a therapist soon, but wont be able to start looking for one again for about a month. I'm sick of reliving my past, I'm discouraged to be posting yet another anonymous Ask question. I would like to heal and MOVE ON. (I know counseling is essential and I am working on it).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you want him to stop sending these messages, or do you just not want to see them? Is there any communication from him that you would want to receive? Depending on your phone and email provider you should be able to shitcan or otherwise block any and all messages from his email or phone #.
posted by russm at 4:00 AM on June 1, 2016 [11 favorites]

Forget it. There is no way for you to get a narcissist to abandon the stories he tells about himself. His heroic self image is his lifeline and must be defended at all cost.
You won't get a satisfactory outcome. Just more enraging lies.
Use one of the many techncal methods of blocking his missives. Consider blocking him from your life entirely. You'll feel better without the aggravation.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:01 AM on June 1, 2016 [56 favorites]

Whatever your father is (personally I agree there's unhealthy narcissism), he has behaved and is behaving like an ass. Anyone with empathy would not send a photo and missive like that to mother and siblings, omg. (Try imagining seriously doing that and listen to all the WTF your conscience raises: this is why your gut knows it's ego.)

Confronting him won't change him. Narcissists love attention of any sort. It could even spur him on to escalate.

If you would feel better telling him to knock it off, followed up by an immediate blocking (because he likely won't stop), then go for it. Otherwise, just block him.
posted by fraula at 5:01 AM on June 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

The only thing a narcissist truly hates is being ignored. So ignore him. You won't change him or get him to see the light. You won't get closure. Just ignore him.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:04 AM on June 1, 2016 [33 favorites]

I agree with others above: a guy like that, you are not going to get him to admit that he is (and was) wrong. Either he is a narcissist, or (at some level) he knows that he was horrible and is going to great lengths to make himself forget that fact. Confronting him might be temporarily satisfying, just to get stuff off your chest "at" him, but he will probably respond in ways that leave you feeling worse in the end. You can't win an argument with a jerk.

Also, I think you might have to tweak your goal of "heal and move on." These memories will always be with you, and you will probably always (very reasonably) have something like sadness, something like anger, and various other negative thoughts about your father's behavior. What you can do in therapy is to get where those thoughts and feelings, and the past in general, don't feel huge in your life.

But for now, block the f*cker's emails and texts! Good luck.
posted by sheldman at 5:31 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

You probably cannot stop him, but in case it happens to be helpful for you, here's what someone in my life does in a similar situation with a horrible parent:

- Asked her politely, one more time, to stop contact him as it is painful for him
- Ever since then, if she contacts him despite his request, he donates money to a charity supporting a cause that she hates and he supports.
- He's since recruited some friends and family to join the effort, so every time he hears from Horrible Parent, he has the satisfaction of knowing not only that he's turning his pain into something useful, but that the effect is magnified by other people who care about him.

He's said it gives him a feeling of, if not actual control over her terrible behavior, at least a sense of control over his own response to it. He likes knowing that he can make something positive happen from something otherwise entirely negative for him. Maybe there's something like that, if not precisely that, that would allow you to feel some control over the situation ?
posted by Stacey at 5:32 AM on June 1, 2016 [24 favorites]

Do you have, or want to continue to have, any kind of relationship with him? If you are ok with cutting contact, I would absolutely be tempted to send a scorched earth confrontational email and then immediately block him. But that is me, and I have difficulty in holding my tongue when I'm angry. I'm also more ok than most people about torpedoing relationships that I'm getting nothing out of.

It's a nuclear option though, and you won't ever get him to admit he's wrong. It's more about the satisfaction of getting it off your chest before you go no contact.
posted by tinkletown at 5:39 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Does he need to have your email or phone number?
posted by xm at 5:42 AM on June 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

If it's that you just don't want to see the messages, you should be able to set up an email filter that automatically deletes any messages from him with an attachment. Perhaps even (depending on your email program), any messages specifically with a photo attachment, rather than just any attachment.

But I imagine the need to confront him is not just so you won't keep seeing the photos. Have you tried writing him a letter really explaining how much his behaviour hurt you and your siblings, and how it has affected you now as an adult? You don't have to send the letter, but putting it all on paper might be cathartic.
posted by lollusc at 6:03 AM on June 1, 2016

Restraining order? I don't know if it's legally possible for this, but if it is, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to get one in place.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:09 AM on June 1, 2016

I'm so sorry to tell you that the release you're seeking in a confrontation will not turn out as you hope. Your father will not get it. He'll never get it. He will certainly never change his behavior based on anything you could possibly say to him.

If you accept this fact, then the only thing to do is figure out how to manage the unwanted communication. If all communication is unwanted, you should be able to use a combination of a technical fix (blocking his number) and a legal fix (restraining order) if necessary. If not a restraining order, then maybe an old-fashioned letter as a means of informing him you're cutting contact, and why.

This is what I did three years ago, and it's working. I'm sleeping better, I have much less anxiety, and best of all--I don't have to talk to the person, EVER! This effective solution came after years of my trying to get her to acknowledge her behavior (nope), apologize (nope), or even have a conversation about it (nope). I realized I couldn't change her because she's incapable of changing. Literally incapable. It's not her fault. But that doesn't mean I have to want to be around her. And you don't have to be around your dad, ever. Block his number, send him a letter saying you won't talk to him until he does x, y, and z (but don't expect those things to ever happen), and then you've put the ball in his court.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:23 AM on June 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think that confronting him, might shame him into stopping.

Yeah, you already know this, but this man has no shame. He left your mother with a disabled infant to shack up with someone else. The man cannot be shamed.

I'd block his phone number if I were you.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:28 AM on June 1, 2016 [37 favorites]

Sometimes it seems like an oversight that Hallmark doesn't make a card that says "Fuck off, you asshole."
posted by puddledork at 6:33 AM on June 1, 2016 [31 favorites]

If you don't want to cut off all contact forever (although I would strongly consider this option), you could block his phone number and email a few days (or weeks) before the anniversary of your brother's death, and unblock them a few days (... weeks ... months) after.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:35 AM on June 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another option between complete blocking and no blocking is to filter messages to a specific folder and then try one of the following strategies:
1. Schedule a specific time (once a week? once a month?) to check the folder and process the messages. This at least contains the potential for upset and you can mentally prepare + schedule something nice for yourself afterward. And, of course, you can completely choose not to check it the week/month of your brother's death.
2. If you have a friend who is up for this (I would totally do this for a friend!), ask a friend to take over the folder checking for you, and to forward you anything you would want to see, and trash anything gross/terrible without telling you.

This is a lot easier to do with email, so I would probably tell your Dad you've dropped your texting plan and just block him from texting you all together or something like that unless there's an important reason he needs to text you otherwise.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:39 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

You've asked him nicely not to send these kinds of messages to you (and your siblings and mom, wtf, seriously) and he's refused. His ego is such that he believes that he knows better what you need/want from this exchange than you do, and there's not a lot of talking someone out of that kind of selfishness.

Other commenters are correct: he probably won't get it. He's completely without shame in this regard, and you know it. Talking to him about it may actually be an escalation, since he's likely to dig in his heels.

So if you still wish to confront him about it rather than just ignore it, if it even stands a chance of getting through that thick skull of his, it will probably have to be something more akin to an intervention or ultimatum rather than a conversation. If that's something you're willing to do, here's how I might go about it.

Before speaking to him, you'll need to figure out what you're willing and able to do to remove yourself from this behavior and the hurt it brings you. This might mean blocking his number/email for a few days, or it might mean cutting off contact with your dad completely. Are you willing to do that? Will you allow contact to be reestablished if he apologizes and stops the behavior? If so, do you have a sibling willing to facilitate that contact? You may want to talk to one or more of them to figure this out beforehand.

If/when he does it again, if possible, sit down with him in person (or FaceTime/Skype), make some introductory small talk, and tell him you have something important you want to talk with him about.

Then don't ask; DECLARE that he is not to send you pictures or reminders of this painful time in your life ever again.

Tell him exactly why in the most clinical language possible--that he cannot possibly know about how hard that time was for you and your siblings. Tell him that while he is free to do what he wants to commemorate the anniversary, you have your own way to remember and honor your brother and that time in your life, and that you will not be included in this yearly grief pageantry any longer. Tell him what the results will be to your relationship if he does not stop.

I don't want to tone police you, but as much as possible, try not to come at this from a place of rage. The others up thread are absolutely correct that if he feels like he's getting a rise out of you, that will only feed the fire. Aim maybe for "I'm 100% done fucking around here" with a healthy side of "profound disappointment".

Important: If he tries to interrupt you, hold up a hand to stop him so you can finish. If he doesn't stop, hold up two hands. If he doesn't stop after that, leave or hang up. If you make it through the talk and afterwards he wants to try to convince you you're wrong, stay silent, hold up a hand, let him know you're not engaging on this matter any further.

Say you've said your piece, and you have no more to say about it. You've delivered your message, and you hope it's been received. Then finish your coffee, make whatever pleasantries seem appropriate, and go home.

If he does it again after that, follow through with what you promised. Good luck.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:42 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I did once ask him not to send me the pictures because it was painful for me, but he never complies with any of my requests having to do with anything and this request was also ignored. I think that confronting him, might shame him into stopping.

It won't. You know that. The desire to rail at him is at its core a desire to reach him, to make him see. He will never see.

I do plan to get a therapist soon, but wont be able to start looking for one again for about a month. ... (I know counseling is essential and I am working on it).

Don't plan to get a therapist - get a therapist. Don't work on it - do it.
posted by headnsouth at 6:47 AM on June 1, 2016 [13 favorites]

Block his email address or create a filter that forwards it to a folder Labeled "Terrible Spam" that you never check. If he needs to reach you he can call you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:08 AM on June 1, 2016

If you think it might be helpful to read about the experiences of others who deal with narcissistic parents, the Reddit community Raised by Narcissists seems to have a strong commitment to providing support. They also have a wiki -- here's the page on how to block calls and texts for various OSes and carriers.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Why are you still talking to this person?
posted by jbenben at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

i totally understand wanting to make a parent who constantly gaslights you just stop or tell the truth or be different, but that's not something you can have. you can't control him, you can't make him admit to be awful, he'll never say the right combination of words to make you feel any sort of closure or settling. the only thing you can control is you. the best thing for your mental health is probably putting up barriers between you and your father. only you know how strong those need to be. keep repeating to yourself that he doesn't have the right to hurt you and do what you need to do to make it so he doesn't.
posted by nadawi at 7:22 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

First, it is perfectly okay to cut this man out of your life. You have my blessing.

If he's in your life because your Mom took him back, and you're putting up with him to maintain peace, then think about those goals, and delete all incoming emails from him.

If, however you could give a rat's ass, and you absolutely don't care about a relationship with him, and you realize that 100% he's NEVER going to get it, but you still want to, then go right ahead and unload on him.

Me, I'd send a Reply All email back to him about this horrible practice.


You have some crust sending this bullshit out to me about Kevin. While you were with your mistress a continent away, living it up, I and my siblings were living through the daily hell of caring for Kevin. Your wife didn't have you to comfort her or support her. Your children didn't feel safe, loved or cared for in your absence. Kevin suffered, Mom suffered, we suffered. You? Nothing. I have asked you repeatedly NOT to send these reminders. The memories of that horrible time are scorched into my being, I don't need to be 'reminded'. You might. I don't.

Frankly, I see this as a sick ploy for attention and some kind of acknowledgement, wholly unearned I might add. I put up with your sorry ass for Mom's sake, but I'll be goddamned if I let this go one more year.

Knock this the fuck off. You have NO RIGHT to any condolences, you selfish, narcissistic asshole.

Then I'd go about my merry way.

Understand that he won't be abashed or ashamed or anything you're hoping for. But if it makes you feel better to say it, in front of God and everybody, then I say, more power.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:00 AM on June 1, 2016 [32 favorites]

The only thing a narcissist truly hates is being ignored.

QFT. This is way above the level of anything I have ever dealt with, and I am probably a petty and sad person, but if you can remind yourself of this, it will probably help you avoid a situation where you get hurt. Telling him off is feeding the beast, he loves the attention and the opportunity to steamroll you and your feelings. So starve the bastard instead, and help yourself stick to it by knowing that it's the one thing that makes him doubt himself. I would combine this with blocking or the technical solutions others have mentioned, because I have found for myself that it's so hard to ignore the temptation to tell someone off when you get a particularly nasty missive.

I also think Stacey's solution is lovely.

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this, and I hope you take good care of yourself.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:06 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Your dad sounds like a textbook narcissist. Advice to ignore is the best advice here. Block him. Toss his letters. Don't answer his phone calls. Don't confront him and don't seek closure. He can't give it to you.

You are not alone. Definitely check out r/raisedbynarcissists and find a therapist. I'm so sorry you're in the club.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:43 AM on June 1, 2016

Echoing what everyone else has said. Do not confront him; it will have precisely zero effect on him, and it will only make you more angry and sad and frustrated. Cut him out of your life, full stop. I also like Stacey's friend's way of dealing with it.
posted by holborne at 8:47 AM on June 1, 2016

I wouldn't confront, I would block.

If I had an absolute need myself to confront, I respond with "I remember because I was there, unlike you." THEN block.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2016 [10 favorites]

Naw, don't confront him. He can't be shamed: he has no shame. He's begging for you to try.

Here's something to remember: he is technically the father, here, but in name only. He's never moved past toddler stage emotionally. You're the grownup in this situation.

Nevertheless, I suggest deliberately reverting to an earlier stage of life whenever he pulls this crap, and engineering a kind of fun, kidcatharsis. I thought of this: Draw a picture of his face. Take a huge pair of shiny sharp scissors bought specially for the purpose and slowly and lovingly reduce the picture to linguini with the scissors. While you do it, imagine him sending that "remember" message with all kinds of hope in his black, stinking heart. Know that you will always deny him what he wants. Know that you are smarter than him, and that never ever ever will you respond to another of his idiotic attentionseeking gambits. Put the strips of paper in a metal bowl and set them alight with a long fireplace match. Do the Dr. Evil laugh at the top of your lungs.

Or, you know, if that's too Tim Burton over-the-top, do some other ritualistic satisfying thing. Go buy yourself your favorite expensive pastry every time this happens. Go buy a Lego set and put it together. Go see a big dumb movie. Do a thing that's fun for you and a little bit special and reserved for only when this kind of infuriating fatherbitchery happens. (Also enthing Stacey's awesome suggestion--but I think you need to treat you first and foremost.)

See, because here's the thing: I tried forty times to confront and shame, and I was finally forced to conclude that attempts to shame sadists only give them more spank fodder. This particular father type can't be shamed and really loves for you to try.

But what he can be is ignored. He'll step up the stupid bids for your attention if you ignore him, which is actually good for you because every time he comes to you begging for drama, he's handing you all the power. You get to deny him and do your special fun-for-you thing. He does not get to do his fun-for-him thing. It's not the cinematic "closure" you're imagining, but it's satisfying because it's real. Everybody commenting above is right. He really can't, does not have the capacity to, feel regret about his past behavior. He'll never be able to remember it or understand what he did. It was a super adaptation for him during his youth and middle age, but it's a bit of a bummer in old age because it's caused him to ruin every human relationship he's ever embarked on, and now he's alone, stomping around staring in mirrors and wondering where everyone went and trying these pitiful ways to get people back thinking about him and interacting with him.

Depriving him of attention is the only way to cause him the pain he deserves.

It's also the best way to observe him out from behind the glittery Oz curtain of his dad status. He might never figure it out, but you will, and that's all that matters: the fact is that though once he had power because you needed him, now he has none because he needs you. The tables have turned.

After you go through a couple of cycles of him trying for drama and failing to get it and you quietly observing and working through resentment and rage, you'll probably stop being so angry with him and start to find him pathetic and sadly funny. That's the best he can hope for. If you can get over being angry at him in time, maybe he won't die alone in his own excrement and be nibbled on by rats, but if you can't and he does, don't feel bad: he's earned it.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:55 AM on June 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

Everyone has good advice here, but make sure you don't misread the reasonable advice not to try to get the response you want out of him as "don't be angry."

You can be angry, you are justified in being filled with a mighty and righteous anger. Feel free to write the scorchingest letter, write epic battle poetry in an Orc-like language manufactured entirely out of rage, go find a place where you can kick and punch the shit out of something (do this with a trainer, though, so you don't break your fingers and toes) and scream. Write a one-act play about how you give his eulogy to a stunned crowd. See if your city has one of those places where you can pay for 15-minute increments in a room full of junk and a baseball bat. Let it out.

There's just no point in actually handing that energy to him, because he's an expert at turning that stuff back at people, and it will do real damage to you when he does. Be glad that you can't beat him at his disgusting game, because that would mean you were a monster and you're not.

Once you've managed to vent the very worst of the pressure, figure out if there's any way you can direct that energy toward something good for someone. Maybe look into Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or a charity/org that helps provide respite help or support for caregivers, local food bank, library programs, whatever. Pick a little something you can funnel that anger into when it flares up, and if it also happens to distract you and help somebody, you can count that as good works you put out in the world to negate a little bit of that asshole's toxicity.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Sometimes it seems like an oversight that Hallmark doesn't make a card that says "Fuck off, you asshole."

Thankfully, CafePress has filled the void. I particularly like this one.

Also, I am so sorry that you have to deal with this - your dad sounds like a complete bastard, and I nth cutting him out of your life completely if you can bear it.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nthing therapy, and to include mom on your topics list. Taking out pain on children is also not okay, even if you may have empathy about it.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:05 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

If I were you, I'd text him back a picture of himself, with the words "deadbeat dad," and then block his number. I'd find that satisfying. I think you should do whatever is going to be most satisfying for you. You're not going to teach him a lesson or make him regret his behavior. So do what's going to make you least unhappy, and don't even concern yourself with how he's going to feel about it.
posted by decathecting at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Your father was abusive to you as a child, and he continues to be abusive to you now. He will never treat you decently because he does not have any decency. If you cannot get therapy, the safest and healthiest thing for you to do is block him.
posted by snickerdoodle at 10:28 AM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cut him off. If you want, tell him off first, but only IMMEDIATELY before cutting him off/blocking him/whatever. You don't need to read/hear any more of his crap and he doesn't deserve to have his abandoned and abused family as an audience.
posted by destructive cactus at 1:47 PM on June 1, 2016

Keep in mind that your dad is getting older. Meanwhile, you and your surviving siblings are growing up, doing interesting things, coming into your strength. Even your mom is probably functioning better than she was before. He's feeling his power slip away with each year. That's why he's still pulling this shit, to reinforce his own waning sense of authority. Refusing to acknowledge it--treating him as irrelevant--is the worst blow you can deal to his insane ego. I highly recommend it.
posted by praemunire at 2:32 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

First, I'm so sorry that you went through that. You must feel so frustrated and powerless since he keeps bringing this up.

My first suggestion is don't interact. I would drop contact with him altogether, frankly.

One thing that it might make you feel better to know is that the more a narcissist acts like they are being GREAT, the more they know deep down that they were being terrible. And it also means like they suspect that other people can tell how terrible they are. So paradoxically, him bringing up your brother means that he feels like shit about it. He's just too broken to really acknowledge it in any normal human way.

So the fact that every year he tries to guilt you, and act like he was there for you, actually means that deep down somewhere he knows that he was a totally shit person. That doesn't mean you have to feel sorry for him or anything. But you should know that I doubt that even he thinks he did the right thing.

If you do want to make him stop this, there is a strategy that might work. I do not recommend it, and I think you should just not engage, BUT since his behavior shows that this is a sore spot for him, you might be able to discourage this particular behavior. The strategy is that you basically have to make him think that you're all completely fooled and think he's Dad of the Year. Contact him proactively and compliment his parenting of your brother. Go way over the top of what a normal person would expect you to say. Tell him what a great dad he was and how much your brother was lucky to have him. Tell him how you are so glad he remembers and reminds you because he was your family's rock. You can be fairly ridiculous because, well, narcissist. He's not entirely in touch with reality.

The reason why that might work is that if he thinks he has fooled people into thinking he's a good dad, he might cool it with the bullshit campaign. He might also become incredibly enraged if he can tell that you think he was a shitty father, and that you are lying to his face. It's kind of a crap shoot. However, when I have felt like changing the behavior of a narcissist, this kind of obscene flattery is how I have most effectively accomplished it. But I also did not care if they got angry with me.

If he weren't related to you, the best strategy would be to be incredibly boring and uninteresting but not at all threatening. But since you're his kid he always will see you as a potential source of reassurance about his greatness. It sucks.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:20 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can completely understand your urge to tell him off. That year is such a painful memory, and it would be so enraging to get those messages.

I think confrontations like this are worth it when the impact you want to have is on yourself -- to hear the truth said aloud, to prove to yourself you're not scared of the other person, to mark a turning point in what you're going to put up with, that sort of thing. That doesn't sound like why you want to say something.

It sounds to me like you want your father to really hear how hurt and angry you are and to act in an appropriately apologetic / abashed / deferential manner. I can completely get why you'd want that; I think anyone in your shoes would.

Unfortunately, if he's a real narcissist, your father won't hear and reflect on all that pain and anger you felt and still feel. He may not even listen or let you finish speaking. He won't reflect or apologize. He won't acknowledge your anger as justified or give your pain the love, compassion, and sympathy it deserves. Your cries will fall on deaf ears.

Then there are the possible downsides. He might deny it and lie about how much he helped. How enraging would that be? He might conjure up some way to turn this around on you, a counterattack. Like some evil wizard, he might craft some twisted lie with just the tiniest barb of truth, enough that it'll actually pierce you and stick. ("You never did love him, did you? You were too focused on your crush on that cheerleader. That's why you so resented having to help with poor little Kevin and the rest of the family.") And because you aren't a narcissist, and you actually try to be a good person, you'll be vulnerable ("oh god, I DID have a crush, could he be right??") even though what he says would be both unfair and untrue. Then there is whatever relationship fallout occurs (e.g., he tells your mom and she guilt-trips you, making you enraged with her as well).

It sounds to me like it wouldn't be worth it, but maybe you feel like you'd be impervious to his reply and would get a benefit from hearing yourself tell him off. In any case, I'm very sorry for what you've been through with this tragedy, and how your dad and mom reacted.
posted by salvia at 10:34 PM on June 1, 2016

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