Should I bin my dysfunctional parents?

I haven't posted on here for quite a while but I read the posts each day. As some of you might remember - a year ago I was in a very dark place and suicidal. I have posted before as to the reasons:- emotionally abusive father who constantly belittled and criticised me especially from my teenage years. For some reason he hated the sight of me but adored my younger sister. I had lovely long hair but when I was about 4 he had it cut all off (pudding bowl!) and forced me to wear it short even as a teenager of 15. I was never shown any love or affection by either of my parents (I cannot EVER recall a single display of affection from either of them). My sister, it seems, was his little angel. He used to call her his 'love child' and she got all the cuddles. I often wonder if the reason he loathed me was because my I was conceived out of wedlock and my parents were forced to marry at 21 and 22.

It was hell living at home. Toxic environment. My parents fought constantly and my father would often slap my mother around. But she was a weak woman and allowed herself to be controlled and dominated and never stood up to him. She stood by and watched him destroy our family: he didn't just have a problem with me but just about everyone he came into contact with including every neighbour he's ever lived next to and also work colleagues. He fell out with his sister in 1974 and hasn't spoken to her since. We were forbidden to have any contact with her (my aunt) or our cousins. I have only seen that side of the family once. Then, over the years, he became estranged from the rest of his family - his mother, his brother, his sister, the whole of my mothers family. When he was fighting with them we, as children, were forbidden to talk to them. He hasn't spoken to his brother since 1985 and his other sister since about 1995. As a result of all of this I now have lost touch with my extended family

I was forced to leave home at 17 (he threatened to throw me over the balcony during an argument and that the paramedics would have to scrape me off the pavement!!) and had to fend for myself. I was forced to abandon my university plans, as it would have meant living at home. I started working as a cashier at a high street bank and that was the start of a succession of miserable office finance jobs. At 18 I realised that this was not the career path for me. I had a flair for writing and my dream was to be a journalist. But it would have meant leaving my job to study full time as this qualification couldn't be done part time. As I couldn't fund the fees I asked my father to help but he flatly refused (I was born overseas and there is no such thing as education grants over there!).

So, it was back to the miserable bank job. It was around this time (18) that I saw the GP the first time for depression. He prescribed ADs. From then I had one bad relationship after another, a couple abusive. At 23 I married and had my son at 24. I fell out with my parents before the wedding as my father forbade (yes that's right!) me to marry. So, my parents didn't attend my wedding and my sister (19 at the time) was forbidden to. Neither did any of my other family as I had lost touch with them, thanks to my father.

He forbade my mother to have anything to do with me and she was not allowed to see my son after he was born. My mother did though on the sly. Then my mother had to have a mastectomy due to breast cancer. I decided to go and see my father to make amends as I was worried about my mother. I was forced to apologise to him and he said I was the reason my mother got cancer - all the stress! He saw my son for the first time when he was 18 months.

Relations were strained but I still maintained contact. I divorced at 28. At 29 I had a near fatal car crash - the following year on my 30th birthday I had a massive argument with my father - to do with the car crash and how it was all my fault according to him. I walked out and I haven't seen him since. That was 14 years ago.

The following year I moved to the UK for a new life for me and my son. The best decision I ever made. I met someone in 2004. we bought a house together, but sadly that relationship also ended in 2012. It had all come to a head: Relationship failures; miserable jobs one after another; dysfunctional family; son leaving for uni; house had to be sold. I had reached rock bottom. After begging for help the GP referred me and I started weekly psychotherapy sessions. I was an absolute mess. In 2010 I was made redundant from my last job and I started my own little business. Goodness knows how I managed but it was my saving grace - something to focus on. The business has gone from strength to strength and I now have people working for me. I made a pact with myself that from now on I am to remain single and concentrate on feeling better within myself and growing my business even more. I have set a goal to buy the house of my dreams in a couple of years. That is my focus for now. And of course, my son who is nearly finished first year at uni and comes back to me for the hols.

I haven't seen my parents since I came to the UK 14 years ago. My parents keep on promising to come and visit but they never do. I booked flights a few years back to visit but was told 'it didn't suit them' and I should postpone until it did! Unbelievable, as they hadn't seen me and their grandson for 7 years. Relations still strained between my father and I - we did speak occasionally on the phone over the years. But some things never change - my sister fell out with them at her wedding and didn't speak to them for 7 years after! They had a problem with the table arrangements at the wedding and felt they had been unfairly treated. My sister had her first child last year and made up with them but they have only seen their granddaughter 4 times in the year she was born (why? because everything always has to be on their (his) terms and they want everyone else to do the running.)

I decided this year to bite the bullet and that my son and I should visit as my folks are not getting any younger. However, my son has flatly refused as he says they have made no effort to visit us. This enraged my father who began furiously texting and emailing my son and I. He even phoned my son and bad mouthed me to him as he suspected all this was my doing. When my son told me I exploded...not sure if it was due to the therapy I've been having but something inside me snapped. I told him that he was despicable and a sad and pathetic excuse for a father and that he had ruined our entire family and the he had f***ed up my childhood. I had never told him this before.

Of course, he then penned me a vicious personality attack email saying that I was a failure and that I bail out of everything in life and that no man wants to live with me and that I am a huge problem - even my own son thinks I'm a problem (absolute lies). He said that unless I apologise and retract my text he is going to consult his lawyers with a view to suing me in the UK for defamation!! I replied to his email with an equally vicious one saying he needs professional help, is suffering from delusions of grandeur and a persecution complex and how he has systematically ruined and estranged our entire family and he still continues to do so. Now he is messing with my sons mind.

I know they are my parents, but I don't think they will ever change. I am sad each and every day as I will never know what it feels like to have 'normal' parents or a family for that matter. There is always that lonely little girl inside me who yearns to be nutured, to be loved, to be wanted, to be part of a large and loving family. Why are they like this? I think I have to cut them out of my life for good but this makes me very sad for my son as well as for me.

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28 Replies

  • Hi Ziggy, I have read your post and you explain your situation well.

    I will just say what I think, which is that sometimes with people like your father (and my mother) it is just not worth telling them how you feel about them as they are incapable of responding in a "normal" way; if you wait for them to respond normally you will wait forever as they are not capable of it .


    The way I cope with this is to see them as being "ill" or "less than functional" I know it is a terrible feeling in that we all naturally crave some sort of recognition from them. Please give up trying to do this; it really isn't worth it and you have to understand he is just not capable probably through some selfish personality disorder but at the end of the day it doesn't matter what it is ; he is not capable. Don't feel sorry for him though but DO feel sorry for yourself as it will be you who has suffered the most from this although your mum could be suffering as well, it is difficult to say.

    You have made a good life for yourself. You have a son who you love. Oh gosh how I relate to that "lonely little girl" thing; but the only way to deal with it is to do the best you can to repair the damage within yourself and to reach out to people OTHER than your parents. An unfortunate facet may be that there is some damage or vulnerability which is always there; there definately is in my case but I do my best to minimise it and heal the wounds as much as I can by seeking things from elsewhere and also attempting to provide them for myself. It doesn't always work of course and there will probably always be vulnerability.

    My advice Stop putting effort into you dad though there is a chance like I say that you may be able to make some sort of a better relationship with your mum if the opportunity ever presents itself; don't have any great expectations of it as there are unlikely to be great results but it may shift your focus a little or give you a little of what you have needed.

    Thanks for sharing your story Ziggy ; generally it sounds like you're coping and moving on and this account does sound sort of retrospective; like you know what you need to do and you have moved on but you are possibly just aknowledging the sadness of the situation and wishing it were different.

    Gemmalouise Xx

  • Thanks you so much GemmaLouise. What you is spot on: After I split up with me ex partner he said I am a very nice person but am vulnerable, I had never thought of myself as vulnerable but lacking in confidence...low self esteem which I have always tried to mask all my life. I am a naturally shy and reticent person but would always try and be the opposite in social situations, so in effect something I'm not. I have never felt 'normal' always the odd one out and that there is something wrong with me. That no-one really likes me and people are always judging me.

    This probably explains the fact why I feel uncomfortable in most social situations and mostly prefer my own company. Up until now I have always been in a relationship. When one ended I would actively seek out the next one, whether suitable or not. It was as though I've been trying to find security, happiness, approval, acceptance in a man because I never got that from my own father. It is complex because although I have always sought out the affections from a man I have secretly always despised them. So, once I am in a relationship after a while it is always the same thing - I become cold and turn off them and it is only a matter of time before the relationship falters.

    I have been single now for 2 years and to be honest I don't know if I could ever have another relationship. You are right I'm damaged and vulnerable and I think this will always be the case. As far as my father goes I think he himself is most definitely mentally ill. I know he will never change.

  • I really do understand so much of what you say and having that "vulnerability" seems to make everything very complicated. It seems to bring issues of "power" into a relationship in that we are dependent on someone to give us that thing we lack and there is therefore always a compromise. All we can do is keep on working on understanding ourselves Ziggy and genuinely thinking about increasing our sense of intrinsic worth as I think this is the core issue. It is easier said than done and I'm still struggling with it myself X

  • Hello Ziggy

    Sorry for all the pain you have suffered over the years with a family that seems to have caused so much grief.

    My family history is so much the same as yours and now I have made the break and even though I am now 64 this year I feel I left it to long to make that break for a past life that I would not wish on any other animal on this crazy world.

    Sad to say my break is very much a complete break. I moved home and isolated many family members that did me no harm. The reason I did this was my wife and I did not want something to slip and put our new life at risk, one slip would loose us the eventual peace we have found where a new life has beckoned and we have grasped with our very soul.

    If the problems are so severe all I can suggest is make that break and start again. My wife s family knows where we are, although all of my family we understand most probably feel we are dead. Now I will never know if my family including sisters etc are still living and to be honest I do not care, my obligation is to Us and there is no place for an uncaring self centred , greedy family. It was the best thing I ever did and now I wish I had done this sooner.

    If you decide to do a complete split, try and remove yourself from Council lists, you do not need to change your name just make ommisions and spellings etc. Be strong and determined. If you make that decision and never look back.

    Look towards a new birth for yourselves. We all deserve a new start no matter how old we are. Do these changes for yourself and be very strong and determined

    All the best

  • Thanks Bob. Sorry to hear about the battle you'v e had with your own family. It is so sad but it is the way it is. My parents live 10 000 miles and I'm glad of that. I have decided to cut my mother and father out of my life completely. My mother is actually a very nice person and quite harmless but after 44 years with me dad she has become totally brainwashed by him and has no mind of her own. She fails to see that he has ruined our entire family and still continues to cause problems with the few members left (me, my sister and his 2 grandchildren). She still stands by him.

    He is a nasty piece of work and seems to be lacking in any human feelings and emotions. He is filled with bitterness and hatred and all he wants to do is fight, especially with his own family. He hates to see others happy. There must be a medical term for this - psychopath perhaps?

    Although, I am sure I need to cut them out of my life completely I am still filled with incredible sadness, emptiness and regret for what could have been and what never will. I dread occasions such as Christmas. I am trying to focus on my business and my keeping fit at the moment and being there for my son who is at uni. I suppose I have to accept that this is my lot in life. These are the cards I have been dealt.

  • I am sure you mother does see it but if she admits it she has to recognise that she has been a failure and her whole life has been a lie. She can't do that can she? x

  • Hello Ziggy

    With me it was my mother and my father could not handle the ways my mother acted, He was a weak person who to the outside world was a friend to everyone although to me would rather find fault with me than stand up to his wife and my sisters. Who in my eyes are very evil. Eventually my father died and my mother just did not want a wayward son, in her eyes have any form of meaningful relationship. Sibling rivalry when not checked can become very unpleasant especially with it going on for fifty years. It became in the end a situation where I wanted my final years in total peace and not have the upset of people who looked on Me as a punch ball to bang around anyone who would listen.

    As I have mentioned in the previous note, now that the split has been made and we live in our dream home, a small cottage with all positive things we have craved for and have been denied to us for so long

    All I can suggest from my heart is get out of this type of treadmill and live your life away from the negativity that seems to follow you around as it can be a situation that will eat you up and spit you out without a care. We all have a life to lead and our actions can make life more like what you feel you are entitled to, run in a splint for that alternative life passage.

    All the best


  • Hi Ziggy it is awful when your parents can't be supportive isn't it? I know that feeling well. I agree: stop trying to get approval or expect it from them as you are flogging a dead horse. Try and be yourself in relationships, warts and all. There is nothing wrong with you having low self esteem and confidence many 'normal' people do. Ok in normal situations it is difficult but in relationships with those you trust try opening up and letting them see the real you. I find I pick up on those people who aren't themselves and pretend to be something else and if I do you can bet your bottom dollar lots of others do too. The most important thing you bring to a relationship is yourself which includes being true to yourself. That's what people respect. That is something I have learned through a long and often painful life. It's very difficult I know to show the real you but you can't feel accepted until you do. It does involve taking risks which are scary but it's the real you who needs to connect with people. Is this making sense? Hope it helps. xx

  • Thanks coughalot1, unfortunately I think I am just to damaged and vulnerable to have a relationship. I have spent the last 26 years in and out of relationships and and it always boils down to the same thing. I will have to content with my cat for company :-)

  • I'd say your father probably had an unhappy child hood himself, & hasn't ever been able to deal with that emotionally, & has taken that forwards into his adult life..He maybe can't show love himself, because he maybe was never shown it as a child..If he was abusive to your mother then she would have to adopt a character trait in defensive, & she would have to let him control & dominate her because fighting back would only make his emotions worse..So it is common for the woman in a situation like that to be seen as weak, but I'd suggest she had no choice..My mum has just come out of an abusive relationship & her abuse was all mental abuse, but i did see the change in her personality as she changed to try to find a way to lessen the abuse....I think in a situation like yours someone has to accept, that the other people at the moment can't help how their acting or have acted in the past..For example if you could accept that your father might act like he does because of his past, & so he maybe can't stop himself because he's not aware of it, you could look at the same person in a different light..We all say things we don't mean in the heat of the moment, so someone has to try to resist getting heated to then be able to do something about the situation....That person sounds to me like it has to be you, & you seem to already be doing the best things possible..I'm a massive believer in doing things we personally love doing, & having goals & that's where i reckon we're gonna meet the right people/partners for us..So it's just a matter of time, & work which your already doing..A good tip i would give straight away is for you to never respond/reply negatively back to any of his e-mails or texts, in fact don't respond to any of his negative texts/messages/e-mails etc at all, & only reply/respond to a positive message or a neutral message..You can of course contact him but if he tries to turn it negative, then give it a week or two before trying again....I'm not saying his past is a good excuse for him to have been like he was & still is, but it might be the why & so at least you would know that it isn't you.

  • Hi Dave, thanks for your reply. You are right about his childhood - his father used to beat him and his siblings and put them down. He used to constantly tell my father that he was nothing and useless and wouldn't amount to anything in life. But that doesn't excuse my father for the way he treated me. I had a crap childhood but I've never taken it out on my son, in fact quite the opposite, I've always done my best to boost his self-esteem and do all I can to ensure he has better prospects in life than I did at his age.

    I see what you are saying about my mother but she didn't have to stay with him. Most other women would have kicked him to the curb decades ago for destroying their family. I can never understand why she stood by and said nothing as he emotionally abused me day in and day out. She has been living a miserable life for the past 44 years because of him yet she still stands by him. Crazy!

    This is the probably the reason why I have such a problem with arrogant and controlling men!

    Yes, you are right I shouldn't have responded to his emails and texts. I have always ignored them in the past, but something just snapped and I told him exactly what I thought of him - I know I shouldn't have but it felt good to get it off my chest!

  • You are right what you say in my opinion ziggy it doesn't excuse your father for the way he treated you at all, & i was in a very similar situation like you was when i was young..My father abused me mentally/physically, & his father abused him mentally/physically..Maybe the chain of my dad's abuse went way back to his great grand dad or even further, maybe it all stems from the second world war (which my granddad fought in), but at the end of the day i just like you did found a way to "break" that chain of abuse..So you have something inside you, that wouldn't allow yourself to become an abusive person yourself..I think you've achieved something truly amazing i really do, & your son is lucky to have you..I don't know what made your mum stay with him for all those years, & there could be many reasons..My own mum stayed with 2 different men that abused her one way or the other, & my older sister stayed with a guy for years who we knew abused her even though she denied it..At the same time though i know a lot of guys in the reverse situation, but if we try to look back & make sense of it all we get no where..Most people i know that have been through similar to your mum, don't actually know why they stayed for so long in abusive relationships..So to use my father as an example i don't excuse the way he treated my mum & myself at all, but i have figured out the why he did it & have accepted that..To me my dad couldn't help it for what ever reason, & i will never know the reason or reasons even though i have had it out with him..He still believes he was a great father & husband, & that it was all my mums fault..I know better & i can see he's learn't nothing at all from his past or his mistakes, so i no longer hate him but feel empathy for him..I was stronger than him or maybe i used more will power I'm not sure what it was, but i did something he couldn't do which was break the chain of abuse no matter how much of it i got myself..Your obviously stronger than your father & mother, & that's why i mentioned about you having to be the neutral one in the family if you want to try to get your father to change..You obviously can control your emotions & feelings whereas your father can't, so your the only one who can refrain from being negative etc..I have seen it happen where if one person can do it, then it can "rub off" on another "eventually".

  • My mother never accepts how abusive my so called father was towards me. I now have CPTSD as a result of his behaviour. He is long gone and good riddance to him.

    I hope you can find peace with yourself and concentrate on you and your son. I wouldn't give your family the time of day, but what about your sister? Can you build a relationship with her?

  • Thanks trekster22. I know it sounds awful but I often wonder what it would be like if he was dead and you know our family would be so different...happy. My mother could come and visit us freely here in the UK (she has never allowed her to) to and I could go back home and visit without the fear of problems and fighting. It would be bliss. I do have a sort of relationship with my sister across the miles.

    I have decided to cut my parents out of my life. They are 66 and 65 and if they have not changed their ways by now then I don't think they ever will!

  • Hi trekster - I didn't know what CPTSD is so looked it up last night and OMG it is me to a T. I ticked just about all those boxes. Have you have any type of therapy and has it helped at all.

  • Ziggy those feelings you just expressed sound absolutely understandable and healthy to me. I do understand as well why you told him what you thought of him; no harm in that as it probably did do you good though it won't change him.

    Although I agree there will be damage and vulnerability don't say "never" to another relationship. Just be sure to have worked through your issues as much as possible; in my case there is a lot of work to be done to become more focussed onto myself rather than others as this has been a bit of a life long pattern for me.

    Often a period on your own is a very positive and productive thing as it will allow you to work on understanding where your feelings have come from and strengthening your own sense of worth.

  • I feel how sad it is that your parents had an inability to meet your basic needs for respect, love and mutual enjoyment and that as a result your own life has been blighted. I think you were right in telling your father how you feel about him but as that made little positive difference I do think the healthy thing now would be for you to stop trying to win his love or even have a reasonable relationship with him as you never can. It is sad that he is such a bully and sad that your mother was so desperate to keep his love that she passively allowed herself to be bullied by him. It is sad that you feel you are so damaged that you can never form a good relationship of your own - but I don't agree at all with that idea!

    As a woman who felt put down and unsupported despite good material care in childhood, it has taken me many years of therapy to come to terms with the past and grieve, and finally now, at 63 I feel I am over it. As a psychotherapist I have worked with many people who had pervasively damaging experiences during childhood but have been enabled to move on from the past. I feel that at this point in time you are not there yet. You have acknowledged how you feel towards your father but you are still raging. That is good because it is natural to feel rage towards the people who were meant to meet your needs but failed so miserably: however in time perhaps you can let go of the rage and grieve for how damaged your parents are themselves.

    The cycle of damage from one generation is tragic but the only way to break it is in time to come to see it as it is - not the fault of any one person but the result of a complex interaction between what has happened to each person and the needs they have been left with as a result. Your father still had the needs of a child and his own rage has made him damage those he most wanted to love - his wife and children. Your mother was so needy that her own childish needs have resulted in her willingness to let herself be treated as a doormat rather than risk losing the person she turned to for love. The combination of your parents unmet needs resulted in their inability to meet yours.

    The situation has so far been tragic but need not ruin the remainder of your life. As you express your anger and then instead begin to realise how sad it all is you will be able to grieve - for your parents, for yourself as the child you were and for the way your adult life has been so damaged. The more you grieve the more you will be able to see what has happened as nobody's fault in particular but as something that occurs when people are damaged but fail to understand the effects of that. Your ability to understand can result in you breaking the cycle of abuse and your son can find he has a much better parent in you than you had in your own parents.


  • Thanks so much for this Sue - I cried and cried when I read it last night because you are so very right. It's the 'bigger picture' isn't it? Something I often lose sight of as I am always so bogged down in the moment. I only recently learnt that my father had been abused by his own father so it all made sense the way he was with me. I can almost feel sorry for him. But, what I don't understand is why was he so different towards my sister (4 years younger)?

    My father doted on her and she got the love and affection that I never experienced. It was so hard as a little girl to comprehend why this was so. Was it (bizarrely! ) because she was prettier than I. Blonde straight hair (I have curly hair, he hates curly hair!). Was it because my parents had to get married because my mother fell pregnant with me? I don't know the reasons but I felt rejected..the black sheep from an early age. My sister was not constantly put down and belittled the way I was. Why was this? I still to this don't understand why she was his little angel and I was the odd one out ..froggy eyes as he called me.

    In the last email my father wrote me he really went to town. A whole page of telling me what a failure I have always been, can't keep a job, relationship, what a problem I am and have always been. It was bad timing really as that week I had just had my last psychotherapy session. I had been feeling good about things for a while and the depression had even started to lift. Now I feel like back to square one almost and my mood is dipping by the day. I may need to look into private therapy. I wish I could just press a button and make it all go away, but it won't. It never will.

  • Hi Ziggy & lovely to meet you

    First of all a huge pat on the back to you as it sounds like you are doing an amazing job with your son going to Uni and you starting a business and also staying sane through that awful upbringing so very well done to you, you're doing amazing !!

    I had a similar childhood to you and grew up with a bullying and abusive 'father' he doesn't even deserve to be called that. My mum has stood by him all his days although they actually divorced along the way but she went back to him many years ago for companionship! I agree with you ... too often abused kids can get the blame that they automatically grow up to then repeat the learned behaviour of abusing their own kids ... wrong!! I would never harm a hair on my own kids head as I love them too much and I'm just not that rotten a person

    I personally don't think you should apologise for any of your reactions to your father, you owe him nothing .... nothing at all ... he is not worthy of your thoughts as he has never been there for you & has caused so much pain & destruction for you

    I was very needy & vulnerable in relationships and would settle for anything as I had no self esteem, not now, I value myself very highly & you must do the same as you deserve love & kindness

    We have to choose men carefully though, I have been searching for a mans love and attention as a substitute for my fathers love that I never got but I've ended up settling for one heap of rubbish from men

    I also don't understand my mum one bit, standing by this man who she seems to despise but does everything for him down to even opening his can of soup for him! She's a servant to him but she goes along with it so I blame her too

    I wish you only the very best as you deserve it

    Big hugs and best wishes

    Lesley x

  • Thank you for your kind words Lesley. Yes, you describe your mother as a 'servant' to your father and that is exactly what mine is. They have been married for 44 years and he has NEVER once helped her with the housework. He has cooked a meal perhaps half a dozen times and never washed up a plate. She serves him his meals and if he doesn't approve of the way she's cooked his food all hell breaks lose. I can remember once she had overcooked his fried egg and he threw it against the wall!!

    As far as men goes I think I am finished with them! This is the longest I've been single (2 years). Yes, I have also been very needy and vulnerable in relationships and have always ended up unhappy, with the wrong type. Unlike my mother, though, I have always extricated myself from a miserable situation whether it be a relationship or job.

  • Can relate to so many of the feelings in this Lesley; though my circumstances were not exactly the same there are many similarities and also in how things have affected us.

    I think realisation is the first step to recovery though and really accepting that we are not intrinsically bad and do deserve what other people have; namely being treated and treating ourselves with respect and care.

    Thank you for sharing as I find it really helps me X

  • Hi Ziggy sorry I am so late coming to your post. I think everyone has made good points here. You had an awful childhood and your Mother too should have protected you from

    Him, most Mothers protect their children, so she too is to blame. It's not just your

    Father, although he sounds a bully. My advice is stop spending or Wasting your

    Energy on them. He probably will never change and your Mother is still relatively

    Young too. They are so far awAy anyway that I'm sure you would rarely see them.

    Would you think about writing to both of them and confronting them with your

    Issues, tell them that you are hurt and angry and unless they change that you

    Cannot see the point of keeping in touch.

    Alternatively you could see your Father as unstable bully and forgive him and minimise

    Contact with them. I feel you are a long way from forgiving them, but you might

    Need a time of therapy to do this. If you cut them out of your life, it may be short term

    Better for you, but in research has found that those who did not have a good

    Relationship with their parents suffered more post grief depression when their

    Parents died. Thank goodness I had good parents, not perfect, but they did their

    Best. I have had to forgive a lot in my own life. My siblings were not supportive when

    My marriage broke down, but forgiveness has bought me peace.

    Ziggy you have done great so give yourself lots of praise and forget the horrible

    Things your father said, treat him like a lunatic and a clown and disregard him.

    Well done on raising a great son and starting your own business . If you need any

    Advice on how I managed to forgive my family, I will share what helped me.

    Don't rule out another relationship, give yourself time and we all change


    Hannah x

  • Thanks Hannah, I have been thinking about doing what you said and writing them both a long letter. The problem is they will never change. My father just doesn't get it. I told him in a recent email that he must be the common denominator - he is the reason why he has fallen out with every single member of his family and why they want nothing to do with him. But, he just doesn't see it and blames everyone else, it's never his fault.

    I think this is the start of another long fall out as he says I must apologise to him (or else he's going to sue me for defamation!). I am definitely not saying sorry for speaking the truth. My son says he is an irrational idiot and couldn't care less whether he never sees them again!

    I know what you are saying about post grief depression. I am sure that this will definitely be the case with me. But, what can I do? How did you manage to forgive your family?

  • Ziggy I am just responding to your last message. I have had such similar experiences with my mother and how she reacts to things. Your dad is basically throwing his weight around like a bully would and is basically threatening .How on earth can he sue you for defamation of character anyway? If he wants to waste his money let him do it. Think of it like a childish tantrum and a way to control you to fit in with how he sees things ie that he is the centre of the universe and everyone should serve him.

    Your son is right but course he is a generation removed and you have grown up with it so it is different. I have noticed the same thing with my niece. ( I never married or had children due to being too much of "mum's little servant, caregiver and shadow".)

    My mum regularly makes angry threats; mainly that she won't see my niece (or someone else) ever again or that she will cut her out of her will (my neice has money of her own and doesn't give a toss about my mum's money!) ; in my mum's case one minute someone is in favour the next minute they are the devil incarnate. I was the "golden girl" by the way like your sister.

    It is no better a position in that your sister has probably allowed herself to be totally controlled like I did. My own sister has actually made a success of her life financially and career wise; she tended to be the one who was put down rather than me as I was always so good; but nevertheless the "fear" of what could happen to me and what happened to my sister and my dad kept me constantly walking on eggs shells and afraid.

    Both of us are damaged, although I would still much rather be me and all that I have gone through than my sister but that is mainly because I do like my character which is very sensitive and compassionate and my sister has always been aggressive and inclined to be very shallow and self centred, though some of this could be her reaction to the way things were in the family. I have spent my life in therapy and analysing the situation in order to get better and my sister hates therapy and actually doesn't like me very much as she just sees me as "weak" which I don't.

    My advice is that if you do write them a letter to throw it in the bin afterwards. He is not worth it.

    I know you are feeling terrible at the moment but I do believe it is possible for you to have a good relationship in the long term. You will have picked people who suit your self esteem at the time and as you develop more then you will also pick people accordingly and so things will work out differently.

    Gemmalouise X

    PS My mum did what your dad did the only time I ever challenged her. It was horrendous. I was suicidal over it but the way she treated me was so dispicable it did me good. I had always thought up until then that I was different that I was special and that she would not do that to me, but she did and in a big way.

    What I did in the end was not apologise for what I said but apologise for the fact that she was feeling hurt and upset.

    What I had said by the way was not even "rude" it was just a comment defending my dad over something; it was something like my saying I don't think he's as bad as you say he is" or something like that. All hell broke loose. She threw a torrent of abuse at me like your dad has at you. Said at least she worked for a living, that I was a total failure, a scrounger, a misfit in society and stuff like that. It's just their way of defending their position on the world. She then maintained this position of animosity for weeks , she told other family members that I was killing her with the stress of what I said , that it would be my fault if she had a heart attack (she had always made me feel responsible for whether she lived or died so this affected me greatly at the time) and also that I was becoming more ill (she told my sister my illness was getting worse and she thought I needed to be admitted into the mental hospital) ; but luckily by this time I had a better relationship with my sister and my sister told me and said to take no notice, that she did not believe I was getting worse but better which of course I was !

    I now just think of her as I say as being "ill" having remained like a 5 year old emotionally and it helps me understand it isn't really to do with me at all though of course it has affected me dreadfully.

  • Thanks Gemmalouise, he has actually just this minute sent me a very long and rambling email, in reply to my last email more than a week ago.

    Like his last message it is awful. He says I am a bitch just like the 'hag' of his older sister who hasn't spoken to him since 1974. He says I must shut up from now on and if I don't then he is going to come to the UK and 'sort me out.' He also says that he has now disinherited me and I will not get one penny of his hard earned money. He gets banging on about how every man I've had a relationship with has left me (actually it was the other way around - I have always been the one to ditch). He is still suing me for defamation unless I retract my text and apologise. He keeps mentioning I must never publish what I have said about him - he is paranod about this for some reason. It's a joke because it's nosecret what he's like.

    I know I need to just ignore all of this but it still hits me to the core and it hurts. Those feelings of rejection & abandonment re-surface. The desperate need to feel accepted/wanted/loved. I know it's just a case of tit for tat at the moment but it still hurts.

    Your sister sounds very much like my sister. She has been very lucky in life (some may not see it like that). She married a multi-millionaire years ago. Though she got off lightly as a child compared to me - she is still damaged by growing up in that toxic environment. But not as bad as me.

  • Ziggy I am so sorry to hear this as it does hit at our deepest wounds and our need to feel loved.

    Could you try doing what I did and apologise for the fact that he is feeling so bad and say you would not him to feel so bad but for him not to realise that you have not actually apologised for what you said? (Sorry I do need to edit

    this; if you genuinely think he is psychopathic and would "sort you out" then

    this may not be appropriate behaviour; I note he has been violently threatening before and his language sounds more violent than what my mum would use. She did go round the house slamming doors and crashing saucepans and shouting and screaming a lot but has never been sadistic or violent in any real sort of a way if that makes any sense)

    So with this proviso is he is "just" narcissistic i can tell you sometimes you would be surprised they can be a bit "thick" like that and as

    they are so self centred they think that you have actually apologised for what you said!

    If you think it fits why not try it saying something like "You know dad I've realised it really does make me feel very distressed if you are distressed and I am really sorry I made you feel like that" or words to that effect. That is pandering to their massive ego's but not diminishing yourself as you have not apologised for your actual words and of course you still mean them.

    I don't know though if your dad is "just" narcissistic or worse? My mum is definately just narcissistic but if it is narcissism then they just cannot tolerate being challenged on their view of things as they see is as an attack on their very selves and will defend till the end. It isn't giving in in my opinion to play them at their own game in a way and pamper their ego which is what they crave without compromising yourself.

    If it is more a case of psychopathic behaviour though they are different and I understand it is a lot worse and I would just think about getting away for ever if that is the case and I really feel for you and feel a bit "silly" about my own problems in comparison as there has never been that violent edge. So sorry for you Ziggy. Please keep strong. You don't deserve it and don't believe him.


  • Hi Gemmalouise, no he would never come over and be violent. He used to give my mother a slap sometimes (she would have bruises!) when they argued but he was never extremely violent as such. Having said that one of my earliest memories was of him chasing her around the flat with a knife. He threatened me with a knife in an argument when I was 18. He used to give me hidings as a child - over his knee - sometimes so bad I went to school with slipper imprints on my backside. Gosh it's all coming back now. He's a bully more than anything.

    He is definitely a narcissist or some other psychiatric condition! He is a psychiatric's dream. He will not tolerate anyone challenging him or having a difference of opinion. He is always right and that's it. He comes across as being very confident and assertive but deep down he is really insecure and thinks everyone is out to get him (persecution complex). He is also very vain and always looking at himself in anything with a reflective surface.

    I hear what you are saying but saying that to him but at the moment I am just so angry and also very stubborn and there is no way I'm going to make him feel better about himself because he's so deluded he will think that 'he's won'

  • Hi Ziggy, yes I understand. You need to do it your own way as that is important and our parents may well be different or ourselves slightly different.

    My mum has to "win" but I actually felt like I had won (freedom for myself as I have no desire to "beat" anybody anyway!) by changing my attitude towards her internally and not exactly showing it externally, but it had changed. She did not notice the difference in me even though I am quite different but it is

    important to me as I feel free in myself and I understand the situation now.

    I can completely understand your anger Ziggy. I notice from another post that your therapy has just ended and I wonder if it is all coming to a head for you now and you are "facing up" really to all that happened? It is the big showdown I think. I sort of had that with my mum. Although I actually said very little to her. (it was possibly one minor comment which she then took badly as I had never challenged her and then all hell broke loose and she "punished " me relentlessly when I "challenged" ie disagreed with her slightly)

    My sister has had a showdown with her which went on for months as my sister would not back down but in the end it was me who was suffering from all of that as my mum got more and more extreme and kept offloading onto me about it. It was difficult for me because I completely agreed with my sisters viewpoint of course as my mum is irrational, but my own way of dealing with it is NOT to confront her as there is simply no point. My sister did back down in the end (as I knew she would have to) but her partner at the time refused to see my mum and told my sister not to either

    . We both (sister and myself) do still maintain contact; me more than sister. Reason being why we both do is that she is old and deserves respect and care just for that and for the physical pain she is now in and for the very fact she is my mother and the only one I have so I need be grateful for that as she is the best she can be.

    Like I say I see her as being somehow incapacitated emotionally and seeing in that way rather than it being about me makes it easier and is in fact the truth. I actually find it quite interesting sometimes listening to her stories and how she "re-invents reality" in them. I can see all the twists and turns now but I have never bothered to challenge really as it is pointless. I just hold the phone away from my ear a lot of the time when she starts.

    Sometimes though it does get to me and I get distressed. This evening I realised she was going on about all the places she has been with people and me thinking to myself that "all that time I did not have a life; I was focussed on you and you were focussed on yourself". It makes me feel a little angry but I've just come to the conclusion I am not an angry person; it is not that I am suppressing it or turning it inwards now (though I do sometimes) I thought "Aha... yes I can see how all this has happened now" and I keep having those "Aha "moments. I like the fact that I can secretly feel any way I want and she does not know and still thinks of me the same.

    I do feel I did not have a proper life because of her and that at 55, 56 nearly I have missed out on all of those 20's, 30's , 40's. no job, no career, no children , no stable relationship; infact really really dire and desperate "relationships"; if you can even call them that as it was so so very very desperate and I mixed with people you would never believe that someone like me could mix with and did things that you would never believe that someone like me would do in order to survive. By that I don't mean sexual things particularly but just that I was so desperate I couldn't feed myself or anything and I met a lot of mixed up people and tried to get care but it all always ended up very dire because they had complex[ psychiatric problems themselves.

    And all that was desperately desperately sad, and i know it could have been otherwise. I am intelligent and feel I could have had some sort of career but I am ok now doing a tiny bit of voluntary work though still very anxious about it. I have bad back and neck problems; spondilitis/arthritis and/or fibromyalgia; noone really knows ; i have bad bladder problem as well.

    Its difficult as she is old and ill and has a lot of guts in some ways and is also vibrant and entertaining despite her faults. I wonder how I will feel when she dies. I don't want either of my parents to die. She has been "threatening" to all my life and yet at 87 she is still carrying on and is feisty and strong to say the least! When she was very ill 3 years ago I secretly hoped she would die. I am still scared of her outliving my dad as she is very controlling and we are all "on hold" unable to act in any way with anything as she has tight reins (or in her case "reigns" as in "queen") over everything. She does seemed to have loosened up a bit though recently and actually ironically is pleased that I am improving. She also keeps telling me recently how much she loves me (which I always knew anyway) but it is a narcissistic love, a love for herself and what i can give to her mainly but at the same time I think there is possibly something else there as well; a genuine relief that I am a little better (though she would never see her part in any of it)

    End of post for now Ziggy. Just reminiscing really. I WILL miss her when she dies but I think I am strong enough to cope now and I guess I will always say that I love her despite all that she has done to me though maybe that is because her charisma and conditioning worked so well on me, I can't be sure.

    Gemma X

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