Can anyone relate to any of this? BPD mother's effects on me as an adult

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jennsc85

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Just for the record... I'm in therapy. It's more of a "venting" situation now, but at my next visit I'm going to ask for some concrete strategies for myself and for the feelings I'm having. I've been building all this up in my head and I've had no "safe place" to vent about it where I feel like someone really truly understands and I guess I wanted to see if I'm alone in how I feel about some of these things (because these are the things about myself in which I feel VERY alone)

My mother says I'm cold, hard, am all on the surface, never feel anything deep, mentally fragile, no wonder no one wants to be around me, too bad for my kids, they'll end up hating me like I hate her, etc.

Sometimes I wonder if she's right. I feel like a really horrible person a lot of the time. But when I think about it, a lot of it can be related back to my childhood with my mother.

I spent my entire childhood waiting for a crisis. My mother thrived on crisis. I always felt somewhat safe when something "big" was happening (good or bad) because it distracted her from me and I felt excited by all the chaos. Now as an adult, I find myself still "excited" by crisis type situations. That's awful of me, isn't it? I feel totally okay when there's something big happening and I want to be right in the middle of it.

I've always gotten very irritated when people tell me I'm "young." I have a strange complex about this. When I was 7 years old I was mediating arguments between my parents and when I was 10 I had already read 3 books about panic disorder and talked my mother through panic attacks. I felt ages older than I was (and I still do!) I almost get offended when people say I'm young because I feel like they're saying I'm inexperienced, immature, etc. when really I felt like an adult when I was in 2nd grade!

I am very fixated on my appearance and I've been diagnosed with OCD so I know that some body image issues can come with that, but my mother constantly criticized people and made fun of them when I was a kid. She still does. She made crude comments about their weight and appearance and as a kid/teenager, whenever I'd join in with her, I felt closer to her... so I did. She'd actually pay attention to me and laugh with me! And I still have trouble getting away from that as an adult. I'll think mean things about people and I HATE myself for it. I don't even mean to and I try to never voice it, but it's like my 13 year old self is bonding with my mother in my head. I hate it. I don't ever want my kids to pick up on that.

I feel so anxious about how I appear to others. I mean, devastatingly anxious about things that I say or how I appear. My mother never even realized how she appeared to others. She would talk, talk, talk (incessantly, and about off topic things) and as a kid I could tell that the other person wanted to say something but my mother just steamrolled over them with her own talking. It embarrassed me and bothered me and I did my best to not be like that but I've gone the polar opposite and worry TOO much about how other people are feeling.

I've worked so hard at this, but sometimes I still slip... as a kid, I learned to lie to my mother. I still do sometimes but I've tried so so hard to keep it to just her. She would explode if I told her something totally inconsequential like that I had a juice for lunch at school. I didn't want to hear the tirade that followed so when she asked I'd lie. If she asks me to do something for her now as an adult, I try to just be honest and say "NO I'm not doing that" but sometimes I concoct a story instead. I've done this with others by accident and forced myself to go back and tell them the truth no matter how silly it was. I'm an adult! What's wrong with me?!

I know this was a novel, I guess I was just looking for someone to tell me that maybe they've felt something similar to any of this mess.

Thanks, guys, if were able to get through any of that!

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practical

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Re: Can anyone relate to any of this? BPD mother's effects on me as an adult
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 09:42:27 PM »
You have really figured it out yourself, the things you describe relate back to your childhood, and take time to undo, to make yourself feel safe without what used to be successful coping mechanisms.

My mother says I'm cold, hard, am all on the surface, never feel anything deep, mentally fragile, no wonder no one wants to be around me, too bad for my kids, they'll end up hating me like I hate her, etc.

Sometimes I wonder if she's right. I feel like a really horrible person a lot of the time. But when I think about it, a lot of it can be related back to my childhood with my mother.
Those are projections, they are her stuff. My M did the exact same in relationship to me having kids and it started when I began to individuate which she fiercely resented. What she really was trying to say was "You are not as much of a dutiful daughter as I want you to be!", unfortunately I'm still insecure around children because her voice is still stuck in my head.

I am very fixated on my appearance and I've been diagnosed with OCD so I know that some body image issues can come with that, but my mother constantly criticized people and made fun of them when I was a kid. She still does. She made crude comments about their weight and appearance and as a kid/teenager, whenever I'd join in with her, I felt closer to her... so I did. She'd actually pay attention to me and laugh with me! And I still have trouble getting away from that as an adult. I'll think mean things about people and I HATE myself for it. I don't even mean to and I try to never voice it, but it's like my 13 year old self is bonding with my mother in my head. I hate it. I don't ever want my kids to pick up on that.
This was a survival strategy for you as child, it was the one way you felt seen by her and sometimes a habit like this can be hard to break despite it having outlived its usefulness and despite you hating it. You'll see it referred to as "fleas" http://outofthefog.website/what-not-to-do-1/2015/12/3/fleas and it can take a long time to unlearn, as it is something that used to give you safety, so you kind of have to go against your instinct, against your younger self who still things she needs this to feel safe.

You were heavily parentified, hence you helping your M during panic attacks, and it isn't a good place to be in. Yes, you felt old beyond your years, at the same time part of your childhood was taken from you. I was the therapist for my M from a very young age on, and it is one of the things that still makes me angry at occasion, because I was burdened down with knowledge way beyond my age, with trying to hold my parents marriage together, with having to be cheerful all the time.

You'll find your way out of this, the key is you already have identified the issues and what is behind them, and those are huge steps, and you were able to take them as you are self-conscious. Belief me, you are not a horrible person, if you were, you wouldn't care about any of this.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

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Amadahy

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Re: Can anyone relate to any of this? BPD mother's effects on me as an adult
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2017, 09:48:51 PM »
I could have written much of your post.   :) It's weird (in my case) because I, too, mediated, problem-solved, guided adults and yet realized a few years ago that I felt incredibly immature in ways - and have been working on resting in my own power.  One aspect is the difference between being reactive (responding to crisis - which for years had a certain rush!) vs being observant and slow to respond, if response is even needed.  I came to this point because I felt short-circuited, literally jumping at the least noise, being super-sensitive to sound, etc.  I had to learn a new way to survive, but in doing so it has helped me step into assurance of my own capabilities in a deeper way.  Does that make sense?  It was long and uncomfortable and is on-going. 

I realize I'm addressing only part of your post - others will have good advice about other areas.  Let me also say your mom could be projecting her insecurities onto you (i.e., being a hard person,etc) because that's easier than her taking responsibility.  Sure, sometimes we get "fleas," but the ability to self-reflect means we can learn better ways, so take heart!  Hugs and warm wishes!   :wave:
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jennsc85

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Re: Can anyone relate to any of this? BPD mother's effects on me as an adult
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2017, 10:11:32 PM »
Practical- I feel insecure around my children too! I can't figure out what the happy medium is. My mother asked me to chores to an extreme. Like, clean the entire house while she sat down and read a magazine. I remember how resentful I felt about her just sitting there and ordering me around and inspecting the corners to make sure I vacuumed everywhere and then reaming me out for not doing it correctly. It makes me sometimes not want to make my kids do anything! I'll ask them to pick up and then I hear my mother and I get really confused and upset. It makes me really angry for not having a better parental role model for what to do. My dad felt bad for me after they got divorced and when I visited him, he didn't make me do anything chore wise because he knew what I did at home.

Sorry... I'm on another tangent all together here.

I feel like the fact that I recognize these things about myself is a good sign because my mother doesn't recognize any of those things about her own self.


Amadahy- I've felt so abnormal about the crisis thing for years now, it's comforting to know that someone else felt similarly to me. If someone at work asks a question, I feel like I immediately need to respond. And sometimes there's no reason for ME specifically to respond to everything. I've been trying to slow it down and think and process situations before I get all riled up about them. I see everyone else being calm and there I am wired and I realize I'm in "crisis" mode over something totally inconsequential. I think it's going to be an uphill battle, for all of this, but I really really want to be a better person and a better mother for my children than my own mother was. I worry so much that I'm doing wrong by my kids and that they'll hate me when they're older. I want all these "fleas" sorted out so I at least know how to handle them. I suppose that realizing and reflecting is the first step, though, so at least I'm on the right track.

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daisy.m.d

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I am just going to say, I was always waiting for a crisis too. Then I could shine. I just sucked at real, everyday life. I did become hard as a way to survive. I have let that go. Practical says it best, that you are not a horrible person because, if you were, none of this would matter to you. My mother and I also bonded over being mean girls for the same reasons as you. Something that makes me shudder though those thoughts still come into my head. I replace them with kind thoughts or meditate. I don't believe them anymore. Feel free to write a novel or two. I read every word of your post and it was not difficult. It was interesting and insightful. You do not have to be easily digestible here. I do not like to write but I find I can on this site. It is healing to make what has been largely internal, external. It feels kind of scary, but it feels good. At least for today. Good night.   :wave:

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Nominuke

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(my kids)'ll end up hating me like I hate her, etc.

That's the exact same line my Ndad and GC Brother used on me when I stood up to them. I've heard my Ndad use it on my GC Brother too when he didn't comply with one of the various demands to maintain the pretense that my Ndad is the best human being in existence. I've tried pointing out that if I did hate him then it would be because of how he has treated me, but as far as I can tell that just went way over his head. So I came to the conclusion that really it's just a threat to get you to comply to their needs.

It really is horrible how a N will twist everything for their own needs, but that is exactly what they do.

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VividImagination

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Interesting discussion. So with that threat, do you think the parents who have used it truly believe you hate them, or is it just guilt-inducing manipulation?
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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Spring Butterfly

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My mother says I'm cold, hard, am all on the surface, never feel anything deep, mentally fragile, no wonder no one wants to be around me, too bad for my kids, they'll end up hating me like I hate her, etc.
  you hear this in your head But what you go on to describe is anything but. You go on to describe some pretty deep feelings, someone who is resilient, and I challenge you on the statement that no one wants to be around you. What you are hearing is the terrible inner critic and Pete Walker's website has some ways to deal with the inner critic that helped me greatly and might help you too.

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I spent my entire childhood waiting for a crisis. My mother thrived on crisis. I always felt somewhat safe when something "big" was happening (good or bad) because it distracted her from me and I felt excited by all the chaos. Now as an adult, I find myself still "excited" by crisis type situations. That's awful of me, isn't it? I feel totally okay when there's something big happening and I want to be right in the middle of it.
not awful at all, it was a learned behavior in an attempt to cope, an escape, a distraction. It can be unlearned and replaced by healthier habits.

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I've always gotten very irritated when people tell me I'm "young." I have a strange complex about this. When I was 7 years old I was mediating arguments between my parents and when I was 10 I had already read 3 books about panic disorder and talked my mother through panic attacks. I felt ages older than I was (and I still do!) I almost get offended when people say I'm young because I feel like they're saying I'm inexperienced, immature, etc. when really I felt like an adult when I was in 2nd grade!
lightbulb moment for me! Thank you for this. It makes sense though being beyond your years as a child with your childhood stolen from you, forced into the role of an adult far too early it seems like a natural reaction to bristle at being treated or talked down to like a child. On the other hand it can feel very infantalizing  which is another form of emotional abuse. In my case uPDm and enF use both as it suits them.



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If she asks me to do something for her now as an adult, I try to just be honest and say "NO I'm not doing that" but sometimes I concoct a story instead. I've done this with others by accident and forced myself to go back and tell them the truth no matter how silly it was. I'm an adult! What's wrong with me?!
another learned behavior. The other thing this brings to mind is how much do you feel have you separated an individuated? so much of what you describe seems to indicate you are still very much emotionally entwined. She's still very much in your head and you still care or seem to care very much about what she thinks of you.
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SunnyMeadow

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My mother says I'm cold, hard, am all on the surface, never feel anything deep, mentally fragile, no wonder no one wants to be around me, too bad for my kids, they'll end up hating me like I hate her, etc.
Sometimes I wonder if she's right. I feel like a really horrible person a lot of the time. But when I think about it, a lot of it can be related back to my childhood with my mother.

Jennsc85, I have so many feelings when reading your posts. I can relate to so much of what you went through that I have an angry reaction reading about your mother. As I sit here thinking of a reply, I want to fill this space with swear words and sarcasm! Something about her brings out anger in me. I feel sad that you've had to deal with her your whole life.

Anyway, what awful things for a mother to say to her child. I'll bet she doesn't realize you keep your emotions bottled up because of her! I do the same because of my mother. Growing up, if I was crying for any reason she would say with a sour, acid tone....WHY ARE YOU CRYING?!  :pissed:  Well gee, maybe because I hurt myself, feel sad or just had another nasty verbal jab thrown at me?? Or maybe because I'm a little kid?

I understand what you wrote about waiting for a crisis. My mom still loves a good crisis, anyone's crisis will do. As a teen I got wrapped up in the drama too for exactly the same reason, it gave my mom and I something to talk about that wasn't me. As I've gotten older I grew out of the crisis thing, I don't want that in my life now. Calm is better!

Your mother does not deserve even a tiny fraction of your time. She is toxic, mean and belittling, I can see why you want to protect your children from her. Please protect yourself from her!

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rosalieaprile

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I have so many fleas from my childhood,  but being a mean girl is the one that makes me cringe the most. Vampira is so caught up in appearances, and she would put people down about how they looked at the drop of a hat. It is something that became so ingrained in me that I would immediately look at a person and pick out every possible flaw before they opened their mouth. I was always armed and ready with a mental insult (I wouldn't ever comment on someone's appearance out loud, which I suppose is a good thing).

The reason why this hurts me to this day is because I was a commiserating mean girl to one of my sisters. Vampira had it out for her (long story that I didn't find out about until a few years ago) and would say the most vile, hateful things about her to me on a regular basis. There were times when she was too rude  for me to even engage, but there were enough occasions where I would laugh and say things that made me just as bad. Although my sister is a full blown narc now herself, I often wonder if my behavior somehow contributed to who she is. 

I also have the catastrophe flea; everyone says that I excel when things get down to the wire, but I'm sure that comes from the constant crisis mode that my family as in. Now that I am completely no contact, I have to rewire my brain not to be constantly on edge ready to pounce. When I was still in the FOG I thought that always being ready for a disaster was the norm. Even the most minor things would cause me to lose my mind. Even when there were happy things going on she would find a way to invent a crisis (my graduations from college and law school and my wedding come to mind). I'm working my way through catastrophizing every thing through therapy but its really hard to realize what I've done to my life as a result of constantly being on guard and ready to run.

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jennsc85

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I am just going to say, I was always waiting for a crisis too. Then I could shine. I just sucked at real, everyday life. I did become hard as a way to survive.

Yes! This is me, exactly. I feel like I know how to contain a crisis and want to feel every bit of it. I want to come out being the person who other people recognize as being helpful. I feel so awful when I think of it that way. I hope one day I'm able to separate that way of thinking and retrain myself. It's not a very peaceful way to be, always waiting to jump up and be in the middle of stress.

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jennsc85

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Interesting discussion. So with that threat, do you think the parents who have used it truly believe you hate them, or is it just guilt-inducing manipulation?

I have wondered this too. I don't think my mother believes that I hate her. And I don't. I don't wish anything bad on her, I'm just totally indifferent. But I don't think she believes I hate her because she believes she's a good person in her core and how could anyone hate her? I could be wrong in that thought though. I feel like the only times she references me "hating her" are when I'm refusing to help with something or not responding to her. So that makes me feel like it's a manipulation.

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jennsc85

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Rosalieprile- I am the same way with appearances and I hate myself for it. I was so used to hearing negative comments about EVERYONE for all my life that as an adult it seems like second nature to be very critical of others. I try really hard to bite my tongue and have an internal dialogue with myself but then I still get upset for even thinking it in the first place. It's actually comforting to know that so many others feel or felt ready for a crisis--I've felt so alone and abnormal in that feeling and only recently connected it to what it is.

Sunny Meadow- Its interesting how PD parents react to that type of emotion. My mother LOVED it when I cried. She still does. She says it makes me seem "human" and that absolutely enraged me. I really hope I can get away from crisis mode because it is not a peaceful way to live and I've been living it for all my life.

Spring Butterfly- you have the best resources! I am going to check out that website. Thank you for all the validations that I'm not this horribly crazy person that I feel like I am. It's interesting to me that the age thing(being offended by being called young) is something that others have felt too. I mean, at 15 talking to me like a 15 year old was totally appropriate but where I felt like I had so much life experience already it felt like I was being talked down to. I still feel like that as an adult, well into my adult years! It's definitely a me problem that I need to figure out.

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VividImagination

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she believes she's a good person in her core and how could anyone hate her?

Or she pretends to believe this in an attempt to convince others. That's what my mother did.

I feel like the only times she references me "hating her" are when I'm refusing to help with something or not responding to her.

Like a small child would.

Much research has been done on the extreme emotional immaturity and/or arrested emotional development that PDs show. Maybe if you begin viewing and setting boundaries with your mother like a toddler, you may see some progress, at least on your end.

It becomes much less personal and frustrating when you view it as a type of social emotional developmental delay as opposed to "why does she do this to meee?"
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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jennsc85

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OK this may be slightly off topic but...

I took my mother to an appointment this afternoon. She was fine. She was 10 minutes early. We're sitting in my car and she demands for me to say one nice thing about her. I honestly couldn't think of a thing.

She carries on and demands me to say something. I tell her that I don't feel that I need to answer that.

She starts sobbing and yelling "SAY ONE GOOD THING ABOUT ME."

When I can't formulate even one thing, she says I'm sick, troubled, and now she knows how truly mentally ill I am.

I'm shaking and crying now. Why do I keep putting up with this? I told her that if, when I pick her up (she has another appointment after this) if she's carrying on like this she'll have to find alternate transportation. She accused me of threatening to abanadon her.

I feel sick. Not just by what she's said, but because I really can't think of one nice thing about her. She kept saying how there are so many great things about her and how good of a mother she was to me as a kid... but I feel like all the bad has overshadowed any good. I hate that she put me on the spot like that. I hate myself for putting up with it.

Edited to add-- I got some text messages from her after she went inside her appointment. She told me that the way I cling to bad thoughts is toxic and she feels sorry for me having to live with it.

As upset as I am, since discovering OOTF, I actually don't feel like this is my fault. Normally when a situation like this happens, I question everything about myself. Am I mentally ill? Am I toxic? Am I a horrible daughter? But I kept saying in my head "I didn't cause it, I can't control it, I can't cure it"
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 03:13:34 PM by jennsc85 »

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Spring Butterfly

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"but I feel like all the bad has overshadowed any good" this is a healthy viewpoint since no one is entirely good or entirely bad. But being put on the spot, forced, demanded to come up with an answer it's just uncalled for and stems from her own insecurities as a person. I'm sorry you had to go through this.

Tempting to just turn around and say "you go first"
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VividImagination

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You're making progress!

This was a trap. She was looking to start drama . Most likely because she had some toxic feelings inside, needed someone to unload them on, and picked a fight with you to give her the excuse to spew.

I wouldn't give her the option of next time. "Mom , you said that you feel that I'm toxic and mentally il. For your mental health, I'm going to allow you to take some time off from me so I can work on myself. Once I'm able to handle things again I'll contact you."

Then stick to it and allow her accusations to blow up in her face.
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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jennsc85

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Vivid imagination- that is the perfect response! I am going to practice saying it a few times and use it the next time something like this happens, then try to stick with it. It might even be easier for me to text that to her because then there's no worry of her refusing to get out of the car or something.

Spring Butterfly- I wish I'd come up with that on the spot! I was just so baffled. It was over nothing. She was chatting about the weather then al of the sudden, the demands to say something kind. It caught me so off guard.

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VividImagination

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Definitely text, then turn off your phone. :D
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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Nominuke

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Interesting discussion. So with that threat, do you think the parents who have used it truly believe you hate them, or is it just guilt-inducing manipulation?

In my opinion it's manipulation based on the truth from their point of view.   

It's hard to say but I don't think with my Ndad he really appreciates that it is his actions that have caused my opinion of him. So he probably doesn't really understand why I act the way I do towards him (other people in the family were/are fully paid up members of the cult and just went/go along with pretty much anything he did or said). With my Ndad it always seemed to be one of his last ditch attempts to get his own way. He would always lament how if I didn't accept something how I would understand when my own son started hating me and giving me the trouble I had given him. So in some sense I think he feels betrayed by me being me and no longer being with the program.

Of course when he says it from my point of view it sounds like he's saying "Yeah your kids will hate you if you do what I do to you to them" and that makes it hard for me to accept that he can't possible realise that what he does hurts. He's yet to reply to the last time I pointed this out to him - that was 6 months ago and I've had pretty much zero contact since.