Help me stand to be around my parent for the duration of this visit
December 3, 2021 6:37 PM   Subscribe

My father is not a bad person per se, but he's really quite annoying. I hadn't seen him for over 2 years as we live in different countries. I'm currently visiting him and have another 10 days left. Help me not murder him during this time, please.

He's annoying because he:
1. Constantly boasts about himself and gives himself compliments. For example he's really into photographing local birds and he is constantly going on about how great his photography is, how he is helping so many people get through the pandemic because of sharing his photos on Facebook, how he is winning all these prizes in local art shows, etc. His photos look pretty good but I'm pretty sure that's mostly because he spent $5,000 on a camera and lens. He also exaggerates about his past accomplishments, things he has allegedly done for others, etc This is annoying but bearable. I usually chamge the subject.

2. Also constantly puts down other people, gossips about them, etc. It's like he thinks if he insults someone else he will look better in comparison. This is annoying - I usually say how great I think the other person is and why.

3. Watches my every move and if I say one wrong thing (like thinking a movie stars a certain actor when it doesn't) he will pounce on it, correcting it over and over. Every time I take a bite of food more than what he feels is necessary he makes a comment about my "very healthy appetite" ( I am slightly overweight, he is skinny). If I am doing any little thing he hovers over me and tries to tell me I'm doing it wrong and suggesting ways to do it better (make the bed, scoop ice cream, load the dishwasher, anything). This is the most unbearable aspect of his personality and the hardest for me to deal with.

Please help me survive this! I push back sometimes but the tension just escalates. We do have other conversations that are interesting and fun, he suffered from depression during covid restrictions and says he really missed me and is happy I'm here. But he is a) extremely insecure I think and b) very used to being alone and doing things his own way. I am staying in his apartment. Thank you.
posted by hazyjane to Human Relations (37 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
1. Hotel
2. Go home early
3. Spend time out on errands/in bed "napping"/go see a movie if your area/vax status permits
4. Headphones on as much as possible with soothing music/audio book
5. Every time he makes a nasty comment, try something like "Oh, you." (said in fond exasperation) It gets old fast for the person who is baiting you.

Hang in there.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:42 PM on December 3, 2021 [33 favorites]

Make your own bingo cards to check off for everything that annoys you. I’m sure there’s an app or something for that too. Otherwise, be around them less. Don’t show annoyance, just shrug and say “ok.” People like this want a reaction.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:49 PM on December 3, 2021 [12 favorites]

if you're binge watching something on tv there's less air for them to occupy with their stories or comments. TV and movies are the ultimate "quality time" with slightly frustrating people.
posted by noloveforned at 6:54 PM on December 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding Chrystalinne. If you can make it a game, it will go much better. Maybe start a stopwatch and hit the "Lap" button every time he "won a major award," and "Reset" every time he gives you advice that adults don't typically need. Then you can see how long it takes to beat his record!

(I did this in a brutal training session once upon a time. Class started at 9AM, by 9:07AM I was ready to cry if the instructor said "... if you will ..." one more time. I was about to SCREAM "WHAT IF I WON'T" when, instead, I wrote a little script to add a timestamp to a file every time I hit a button. That switched it from "maddening verbal crutch" to "engaging fidget game"; I probably still have that file somewhere. Obviously your stakes are higher and your investment is greater here, but if you can find a way to make it funny instead of infuriating, I bet it will help.)
posted by adekllny at 7:16 PM on December 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

Any time your dad complains about you doing a task, tell him he’s clearly better at it than you so he should do it, then hand it over and refuse to touch it again. Do this for everything he rants about and he’ll learn that if he complains, he’s just inherited the job.

For everything else, grey rock him. He’s trying to get a reaction. Don’t give him one and he’ll get bored fast of trying.
posted by Jubey at 7:23 PM on December 3, 2021 [11 favorites]

Best answer: You be a grey rock. That article talks about narcissists a lot but the technique really takes the wind out of anyone's sails. He thinks he knows the best way to scoop ice cream and do chores and take photos and everything else? "Okay, I'll keep that in mind." He also knows how much you need to eat? "Hmm, maybe." AND he's better than everyone else? "Oh, huh. I wouldn't have noticed." Put that nonsense on autopilot so you can stop spending all your mental energy trying to engage with it like it's real conversation. Then you'll have more coping capacity left over for taking care of yourself instead of the only solution your brain can come up with being to stab him (I say lovingly and with full understanding of why you'd feel that way).
posted by teremala at 7:29 PM on December 3, 2021 [40 favorites]

Best answer: He sounds like giantly projecting so just take everything he says as an echo of the judgmental self critical voice he himself carries deep inside. No wonder he boasts so much when others must be constantly critiquing him behind his back in his mind - he’s loving himself out loud cuz no one else will! He must be feeling really empty and unlovable. This lets you understand him on a deeper level without connecting deeply per se. You will recall this about him after he passes away and wish his soul well.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:32 PM on December 3, 2021 [48 favorites]

That is a long time to be cooped up with someone! Even if you get along! Do you guys have any activities planned?if he's trying to get close to birds he would have to be quiet right? Or go to a local bird sanctuary so he can get more pics? Hiking?
posted by emjaybee at 7:42 PM on December 3, 2021 [7 favorites]

In a similar situation I faked a sudden urgent work assignment that kept me in the local library for a few hours a few days in a row.

I’m not proud of it and it’s probably more passive than what a psychologically healthier person would do. But I didn’t have the heart to be honest because their feelings would be hurt if I asked for a little space, and their reaction would annoy me. It bought me enough space to use some of these suggested methods and got me from “I am going to harm myself and others” to “sigh, they’re at it again!”
posted by kapers at 8:12 PM on December 3, 2021 [10 favorites]

Oh also I exaggerate how into running I am, make sure I’m noticed going out the door in my running gear, do a light 1/2 hour jog and then sit in the woods on a rock alone with my phone for another 1/2 hour or so.
posted by kapers at 8:20 PM on December 3, 2021 [34 favorites]

if you can possibly afford it, don't stay at his place. The dynamics of "you're living in my house" are FAR more complicated than a visit between equals, and engender all kinds of unnecessary friction.

Having a hotel room to retreat to means that the time you're spending together is by choice (make sure you give him a choice too, don't just come and go according to your own convenience.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:03 PM on December 3, 2021 [7 favorites]

I have this issue with my Da.

I have now started letting him know that I will be saying "DING!" when he says something hurtful or mean.

It gets pretty funny after a bit. Even he laughs.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 10:56 PM on December 3, 2021 [11 favorites]

This thread is really sad to me.

I'm wondering if you want a real human connection with your father or you don't. You wouldn't be a bad person if you don't, but if you do -- why not drop your dukes and try for it?

1. You see the whole photography thing as just him kissing his own ass, but it's important to him and he's serious about it -- isn't there anything interesting about that topic? Couldn't you say, "Yes dad, great shot! How did you (whatever)?" Or "this one is my favorite because (whatever)" If nature photography is just completely without interest for you, you could ask him what he likes about it, or is he worried about his camera getting stolen, or how bout them Dodgers -- anything really.

2. Gossiping about other people could be a way to try to foster closeness between you, you're the in-group, they're the out group. Or maybe he's just being mean. You could compare views about other people that are positive, "remember when" type stories. You could tell him about a situation in your life and ask what he would do. You aren't obligated to do that thing! Or if he says something mean, just say "that was mean."

3. "Thanks, dad, I got this." "Oh interesting." If he is completely overbearing, how about, "when you tell me how to scoop the ice cream, I feel like you don't think I am an adult who knows how to do stuff. Why not let me do it my way?" And for "healthy appetite" type maybe-jabs, no response at all.

This guy doesn't sound like an abusive or narcissistic asshole who deserves only the gray rock, to me. Gray rock is pretty unkind, and a last resort. People can break out of the behavioral ruts of parents and children, if they want to. Be kind! Be direct! If you want to, love him.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:21 PM on December 3, 2021 [31 favorites]

I wandered in to say what pH Indicating Socks just said. Be kind. Wish I had my dad.
posted by crw at 12:20 AM on December 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses and advice which is helpful. Just to reassure pH indicating socks and crw, I am being extremely kind. I have given him many thousands of compliments on his photos, for example.
I wish you had your dad, too, crw.
posted by hazyjane at 12:47 AM on December 4, 2021 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: I've also shared his photos on Facebook saying how great they are so he can get compliments from my friends, and have spent hundreds of dollars getting some prints matted and framed so I could hang them around my house. Believe me, I'm being so kind! I don't mind the boasting or gossiping so much though they are annoying. But I can't stand the breathing down my neck criticising my every move and bossing me around! There are gender issues at play here also which don't help.
I think the best advice is to spend a bit more time independently from each other. I'm also going to have to address it with him when we're both in a good mood and see how that goes. If that doesn't work, grey rock it is.
posted by hazyjane at 3:07 AM on December 4, 2021 [21 favorites]

I get this. It's hard to be with someone you love who also annoys the shit out of you. It's possible for you to treasure their presence and want them to be well while also allowing yourself to be frustrated by the things that are legitimately frustrating! It sounds like he's struggling and needs you to support him, but you can't pour from an empty cup, so refilling yourself with energy by spending time apart is important.

That said, I think it is a good idea to take on board the idea of reflecting back to yourself why he's doing these things. He probably sees his overbearing attitude as being "helpful" or trying to involve himself in the chores as well. He might think of the comments he makes as proof that he cares -- after all, if he didn't care, he wouldn't say anything at all, right? I know I do the same thing sometimes and have to catch myself when I realise I'm being annoying or actually making it harder to get the job done. He sounds desperate for your praise and your attention and that's a lot of pressure to deal with.

If it were me, I would pick my battles. When I have the energy, I would reroute his criticisms into conversation. If he tells you how to load the dishwasher, try "thanks dad -- how do you usually do it? Can you show me?". He wants to get involved and share the chore, so let him involve himself sometimes. Maybe there are ways you can divide the chores up to do things together rather than you doing them and him hovering around giving you advice. Ask him to chop vegetables or fluff the pillows or whatever and use that time to talk or bond.

Are you going out anywhere together? Maybe you need to break up the routine more. Pick an activity for every day so you're not just rattling around in his apartment, it will give you things to talk about. Maybe go bird watching together or something.

I think there is a middle ground between gray rock and enabling him. Maybe this can be found by just taking a breath in the moment and remembering why you're there in the first place.
posted by fight or flight at 4:29 AM on December 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Time apart will help.
When he is telling you how to scoop ice cream could you: stop, set the scoop down, look him in the eye, smile, say "I love you dad," and carry on. If necessary add "I got this" or "I would really like to do it my own way."
Alternatively lean into the gender thing and burst into tears, "it's so hard when you criticize meeee ...." Maybe he'll start being more careful to avoid tears.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:33 AM on December 4, 2021

Best answer: Is he my in-laws?

Because they do the same hovery nitpicky scrutinizing overbearing stuff, with the added bit that I'm a mom and it's open season on how I parent my child.

I love them, I do, but it's a boundary stomp that crushes the relationship.

In my experience, there's not much point in noodling about in my head why they do it.

The important thing is to limit, or even stop, the behavior, because it's damaging to relationships. Few things push people away like being treated as if they're a child.

So you need him to stop hovering as if you're still a kid. And he does not need you to manage, humor, or manipulate him into being less overbearing. That's you treating your dad as if he's a child.

Instead, I simply have calm conversations among fellow adults. "I know you're trying to help, but when you do X, you're undermining me in front of my child." "I think we're getting stir crazy and bickery. How about a drive?" "Y'all, I'm hearing an awful lot of opinions for the only person cutting up fruit. Is it smaller?" (That one gets a laugh.)
posted by champers at 4:51 AM on December 4, 2021 [5 favorites]

Go for so many walks. Schedule time every day where you are an adult in the world, independent of him. (You don’t have to say this is what you’re doing)

I have a 4-day limit on visits with my dad because otherwise I end up incandescent with rage over really basic stuff. You are doing great!

When he looms over you, stand up and move elsewhere.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 4:52 AM on December 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

There are some similarities of my relationship with my dad here. Here's what has helped me:
1. I schedule short visits. I know this doesn't help now.
2. I do go for runs or do yoga in my room to get a little 'me' time.
3. I make time for activities where he can show off his talents/ knowledge. We both garden, for instance, and he's way more knowledgeable than me, so we'll talk about gardening. At Thanksgiving I asked him to make some shelves for me and we worked on that together.
4. I call him out seriously when he says anything mean about me (and sometimes about other people). I call him out jokingly when he's being a control freak about how I'm doing something.
5. I have come to recognize that he's deeply anxious, something I never understood when I was younger, and have tried to cultivate more empathy for him which has actually helped a lot.

Good luck! Ten days is a lot, take time for yourself!
posted by geegollygosh at 5:29 AM on December 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Grey rock is a valid technique for getting the mental space you need to react the way you actually want to. It's not a cruel all-or-nothing thing you can't ever go back from. The OP was describing intense emotional reactions that indicate a burn-out level where there really simply might not be any more niceness or understanding left to pour into the situation. If having a bland non-response available helps them get through a few hours without letting each subsequent remark from the dad making their emotional state worse, it's good for them–and good for the dad too if he's actually an okay person who just has some really vexing behaviors that are in need of strong boundaries. You don't have to call it grey rock if you want to reserve that term for total a shut-down defense against a true narcissist, but here the dad is hurting them and there was no reason to think they hadn't tried being nice and supportive for a long long time before now having this extended visit and suddenly finding that the prior distance between them had been what was allowing them to recharge sufficiently to have that kindness to offer.
posted by teremala at 5:32 AM on December 4, 2021 [27 favorites]

(Caveat: I’ve been in similar situations and I’m not often able to do what I propose below, so I’m writing this up for myself as well.)

What happens if you reframe his behavior in your mind
- as a great workout for mindfulness and compassion. So many instances to practice; it’s like a ball machine for practicing tennis.
- or trying to find the best possible motivation for the particular behavior as it happens and respond to that instead of the behavior itself. We never truly know why someone does something, why not make it easier for you to keep on being kind.
- pretending you’re an anthropologist in the field, or an alien trying to understand humans (you might want to watch “Galaxy Quest” as inspiration or as a backup plan to cheer you up if the other strategies fail), observing and mentally taking notes. This persona would also help asking him about how he does things proactively, reducing the probability of him criticizing you and serving as a pressure valve for him and more agency for you. He’s telling you because you decided to ask, not because he sees you do something “wrong”.

And yes, take breaks to be apart from each other and recharge.
posted by meijusa at 5:38 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My dad is your dad, but with a hefty dose of narcissistic personality disorder thrown in. I asked a question about how to deal with his pathological lying earlier this year.

What I have done is make sure to never spend more than 3-4 days with him on a visit, do some grey rocking, and remind myself that the delusions of self-grandior and the nasty gossip/putting everyone down and the harping on my health are him projecting his insecurities all over me, and attempt to find compassion in the moment

I'll be frank it doesn't always work, even with short trips. Sometimes he says something particularly egregious and I lose my cool. I'm not proud of it but eventually there comes a breaking point.

And this is because I have spent a lifetime - nearly 40 years - dealing with this man's behavior. To the two commenters above who expressed sadness about this question, my heart really does go out to you. I wish you had your dad too, crw. But please remember that for those of us who struggle with our relationships with our parents to the point where we are asking AskMe for help about how to endure their presence, it's because we have spent years - decades - putting up with behavior that makes us feel frustrated, drained small, less-than, and miserable. This question is not being asked in a bubble of one visit; hazyjane has undoubtedly spent a lifetime dealing with variations on this behavior and has tried her best (as have I with my dad) to make it work, be kind, ignore the nasty gossip and the hovering and the judgmental comments. It's death by a thousand cuts. Please don't guilt trip someone who is struggling to manage a difficult relationship with a parent. I am jealous of you both, who seem to have (or have had) great dads such that this question makes you sad. You two are lucky to have great dads. Many of us don't have such luck.
posted by nayantara at 6:59 AM on December 4, 2021 [67 favorites]

O.P., may I ask why this visit is so long? Is there a non-refundable plane ticket involved?
posted by BostonTerrier at 9:35 AM on December 4, 2021

Oy, my sympathies! In this situation, I have sometimes just ... stopped. Stopped what I was doing entirely, and looked at the person straight in the eye. And looked. And looked. And just let the fucking awkward HANG THERE for a good long while, and then either turned away and did something else or continued what I was doing. I make them be the first person to speak again, and if they start with the "What? What?" I give them another long look and say, "I think we're both pretty aware of what, and if not, you'll figure it out."

Unless someone is actually psychotic, it doesn't take too many instances of this for them to back the fuck off.
posted by cyndigo at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was going to suggest grey rock since he sounds like he's dealing with some amount of narcissism (not diagnosing him - it's a spectrum and everyone has some narcissism). I see it's been suggested.

You mentioned gender stuff and it strikes me that classic father role stuff involves a lot of teaching - do you think maybe he thinks his criticism and correction is him teaching you "like a good father should"?

In my own family, assertiveness with the goal of change has never really worked. But what does work is grey rock and playful/upbeat boundary setting. For example, I had given myself a pixie cut and then saw my mother for a family vacation. I mentioned giving myself a dramatic haircut (as I'd previously had long hippie hair) and she said something critical that I can't remember now - it's too short, it doesn't look good, something like that. I just let out a half scoff, half laugh and said "nobody asked you!" And went right on with whatever else was going on. A little pushback, with no expectation of solving it, because I'd already tried that a lot and someone dealing with narcissism is often way, way too defensive to receive any constructive criticism of their own that would make space for meaningful change.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:59 AM on December 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

"Hey dad, you did a great job raising me as a child. You helped me become the responsible, awesome adult I am today... Which means that I really don't need feedback on [x] unless I specifically ask for it."

If applicable to your situation, this response is a) a kinder and b) puts your father in the position that he is undermining his past efforts if he tries to give unsolicited advice (etc.).
posted by oceano at 10:04 AM on December 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

The important thing is to limit, or even stop, the behavior, because it's damaging to relationships. Few things push people away like being treated as if they're a child.

So you need him to stop hovering as if you're still a kid. And he does not need you to manage, humor, or manipulate him into being less overbearing. That's you treating your dad as if he's a child.

Just want to second this in the midst of a kind of victim blame-y thread. Of course you want to have a real relationship with your dad; that’s why you want him to stop doing these relationship-destroying behaviors. Parents so often don’t realize they’re refusing to engage with their child as a person (whether they’re a child or an adult), which is far more toxic than ignoring his not-engaging-with-you-as-a-person for several hours a day. Humoring and entertaining this behavior is possible if you see him for a few hours every few weeks, not for days and days in a row. It takes soooo much energy and leaves emptiness in its wake. It’s a narcissistic relationship. Relationships without mutual respect are hardly relationships, emotionally.

Setting boundaries that upset people in the moment (“Dad, I have the dishes under control. If you keep criticizing how I’m doing them I will be leaving the room.”) is genuinely the only way to get your relational needs met. I think grey rocking works for this purpose too. In less-narcissistic narcissistic people it’s a way of training them out of their bad behavior. The non-response is the boundary. It’s less clear and they might not understand but you don’t have to be a relationship-saving superhero all the time just because your dad acts like a jerk.

Im sorry you’ve had to put up with this your whole life! He doesn’t deserve your patient attention, so lucky for him he’s got it.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:44 AM on December 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

Can I recommend Captain Awkward?
She is very good on how to handle Family That You Love But Don't Like Very Much Right Now.
posted by BlueNorther at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I mean this kindly: he almost certainly finds you infuriating too. In fact, perhaps some of his mannerisms are ways of dealing with you.

I really do mean this kindly. It’s how I manage my irritations with my parents.
posted by redlines at 2:28 PM on December 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Different tack -- would it help if you told your father something like "when you say things like that, you make me feel unwelcome here?"

This worked well for me because it pulled at two different threads -- this relative's need to be "better" than other family members/hosts and his need to impress his guests. That, and greyrocking, and many well-timed sojourns out of the house, helped my husband and I knuckle through many visits (eventually this relative did something unforgivable and that was thankfully that.)

(Obviously if this would set off a guilt tsunami, don't try this!)
posted by sm1tten at 3:09 PM on December 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have an older relative who sometimes drives me crazy with similarly insecure behavior. I have a couple of coping mechanisms. Putting them into words is kind of heartbreaking, I'm acknowledging some grim truths to myself. But they do help me and maybe they'll help you.

First, I try to turn my frustration into empathy/pity. He's puffing up like that because he feels as if he hasn't achieved enough. He trying to impress you and/or he's desperately trying to convince himself he's lived a worthwhile life. It's sad to see any older person grasping for validation like that, but it's worse when it's someone you love. The kindest thing you can do may be to act impressed, to bolster his tattered self-esteem. Focus on the stuff he's done that you do admire and maybe volunteer that you're impressed with something BEFORE he brings it up.

Second, remember that he's going to die and you're running out of time with him. Seriously, assuming you outlive him, the day will come when he's just gone and you'll never be able to talk with him again. As crazy as he may make you now, you'll probably miss him a lot then. Think about all the times you won't be able to talk to him, and maybe that will make talking to him now a little easier.

It's certainly fair to address his criticism of you, but I don't think much good will come of you trying to call him on his boasting. I think you're better off trying to make him feel better about what he has accomplished and encouraging him to accomplish new things, rather than telling him you're fed up with his ego. Anybody who boasts that much is probably in a pretty fragile state. His ego is a big balloon, all puffed up but with a very thin skin.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:00 PM on December 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is my in laws, but you sound much warmer than me as is so this advice is probably already redundant for you.

I take really really good care of myself in the days leading up to the visit- recharge and decompress in advance. Then I/ they arrive and I make sure when the situation is new, I am feeling fresh, I have emotional energy to expend, they haven't yet had time to find new ways to push my buttons or say something really-quite-hurtful-when-you-think-about-it, I "smooth the waters" before there are any waters to be smoothed.

I am the loveliest for the first little bit, so enthusiastic, interested, chatty prompts about whatever they want to (mostly) monologue to me about, create all the lovely visit memories on that first day or so, set the tone, and then I can just gradually (in a non-obvious way) withdraw to cope with the long haul and be a bit more bland and grey wall-y when needed under the guise of settling in/getting comfortable. In my experience self absorbed people don't really notice as long as they got what they needed up front and get drips of it here and there, and I find it so much easier to be world's best daughter-in-law off the bat than a few days in when I'm feeling both angry but also a bit guilty for not rising above their insecurities.
posted by hotcoroner at 6:20 AM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ursula Hitler's comment reminded me of another heartbreaking-but-real thought: the number of times you'll interact with any given person in this life are finite and, moreover, statistically calculable. If you see someone once per year and anticipate one/both of you living fifty more years, that's about fifty more visits. If you see each other every couple years and one of you is older...? Eventually it'll be the last time you get to/have to do this, though you may not know which that is except in retrospect. I'm not necessarily saying "cherish what you've got," just the factual truth of "this too shall pass."

(PS I hope you're doing okay there.)
posted by teremala at 8:27 AM on December 6, 2021

Best answer: Here to second what nayantara said. I suspect the people urging you to not be so "unkind" have never had to deal with the pain of a narcissist or narc-adjacent person as a parent. I will be doing a much shorter visit to my narc mom and even in a visit of just a few days (absolutely my limit) I will most certainly need to grey rock, play NPD bingo, fake a run every day, and say "You might be right!" with a wicked smile and dead eyes many many times.

I think people who have not been traumatized by someone like this as a child can't really wrap their brains around the fact that this behavior is only mildly annoying on its surface but triggers an entire cascade of memories. Memories of being small and vulnerable and being made to feel unsafe by being unseen, invalidated, criticized, and perpetually having to have the person who is supposed to be your caretaker need to replace you as the center of everyone's energies and focus. It is corrosive to your soul, but often no-contact creates double the problems. Be strong, hazyjane, you got this. YOU ARE NOT IMAGINING IT. Arranged activities, movies, naps, and if it suits you, alcohol +/- the occasional xannie.
posted by SinAesthetic at 1:05 PM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you again for all the responses which helped greatly. It was quite validating that some of the answers mentioned narcissistic traits as that's something that has always been in the back of my mind about my father (my sister also thinks this). Anyway, after I posted this and took on board the responses the rest of the trip ended up going great. I talked to him about the fact I needed him to back off and stop hovering over me telling me what to do, and that actually worked very well. He stopped! And the stress relief from that helped me cope with the other issues without too much bother.
Spending time apart each day also helped massively. As did basically having my feelings validated here by so many very kind responses. Maybe this will sound ridiculous but I really do think the emotional intelligence I see displayed on Askme that means I and so many others can feel heard, understood and helped by a bunch of kind strangers on the Internet gives me hope for humanity. Thank you so much for that.
posted by hazyjane at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2021 [6 favorites]

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