Enabler father, Father's Day struggle

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sambellscoup

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Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« on: June 16, 2021, 10:51:19 AM »
My father is an enabler. TW for descriptions of abuse and toxic behaviour.

...

My mother abused me through my preteen and early teenage years in ways that could be described as borderline sexual abuse. I disclosed this to my dad eventually and he is still with her but said he'd understand if I didn't want anything to do with her anymore. But after a while she gaslighted me about these memories of course, and he didn't do anything about getting her or himself into therapy or make any real effort about changing anything. He just wanted the dust to settle so he could carry on with his life as conveniently as possible.

She also verbally abused me and my siblings horribly although I was eventually her favourite target and she continued the verbal abuse with me through adulthood via the phone. In childhood, dad would walk in on her doing this, then turn around and walk right back out and not come back for hours. Even though all he had to do was tell her to shut up and distract her from bullying us, but he was too wimpy to even do that.

My paternal grandmother, who actually loved me unlike my mother, died last winter but I couldn't attend the funeral due to pandemic, and my mother tried to send me a close-up photo of her in her coffin. I rejected the "offer" and she then went on a tirade against my aunt (grandmother's daughter and carer who has also always been good to me) and then my father, aunt's brother, went along with it and badmouthed her to me until I shut up about my mother's behaviour. Nice manipulation tactic, dad.

So I've had all this crap to deal with on the one hand...

But on the other, dad tried to be better towards me when my grandmother died, other than the thing with covering for my mother by dumping on my aunt. He started calling me weekly to check on me and persuaded me to tell him whatever was bothering me (unless is was about NM). In a vulnerable moment, I told him I was down about my Narc brother giving me the silent treatment through all of this (I had the audacity a year prior to set a boundary and stick to it), he then told my brother off (a rare thing given he's the GC) and advised him to get back in touch with me, which he did sort of. I realised afterwards I wish I'd not said anything because I'm actually better off without him in my life, but I guess on the other hand I was afraid of him possibly being aggressive towards me if I made it home any time soon to visit grandmother's grave and breaking the I've was a relief at the time.

(Side note, one of my sisters (HPD) has since then decided to shun me for the same reason my brother originally did: I set a reasonable boundary and stuck to it.)

In his phonecalls, my father frequently talks about how "time don't stop" and basically hinting at death and dying and stuff, which is a big trigger for me.

After all that, in March I started to suffer dissociation symptoms and was in a very bad place, and my father's weekly calls despite his generally good intentions (I think) became a trigger that set me off earlier and earlier in the week before the call would actually take place. I was beginning to feel quite ill and not cope. My husband then called him on my behalf one day and explained I was struggling and needed space, and my dad was supportive of this and more than happy to go along with it and leave me be.

So... Fathers' Day is coming, and my mixed feelings are making it very hard to decide whether to send a card. On the one hand, I feel I need to start letting what remains of my family connection fizzle out, for the sake of my sanity. I hate my father's enabling and feel furious when I think of it, and I hate how he silenced me confronting my mother's most recent disgusting behaviour. On the other hand, he's agreeing to give me space at the moment and won't force me into contact, he was talking generally kindly to me in the phonecalls (even though in the end it was a trigger just being in touch with him), and he isn't trying to gaslight me about my mother's sick deeds of the past (although he's happy to distract from her current behaviours and sacrifice others for the sake of doing so).

So I'm really really stressed about writing and sending him a card as it's a continuation of contact where I would rather let things fade away, plus I might be risking triggering myself... but on the other hand, he was nicer in recent months and he's not all bad generally, and I feel like not sending him one will be seen as punishing him despite him doing some things better recently.

I'm leaning towards not sending one, but scared of how the toxic idiots in the family will use this against me. I'm really stressed.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2021, 10:53:03 AM by sambellscoup »

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FromTheSwamp

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2021, 11:26:06 AM »
I understand the struggle.  You should do whichever makes you feel less uncomfortable.  I send cards.  It's easier on me than not sending one, so I do it.  It keeps the illusion of contact with nothing of substance behind it. 

If you choose to send a card, don't feel like you need to wade through a bunch of father's day cards at the store.  That is triggering for me.  You can use a card with a bland pretty picture on the front and scrawl happy father's day and your name on the inside. 

A card is not a promise of future contact.  It's just a card.  And if you choose not to send a card, it doesn't have to mean anything much there either.  If anyone has the gall to ask you why you didn't send a card, you can brush it off saying Father's day snuck up on you this year and you forgot.  And then feel free to forget forever more.

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athene1399

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2021, 12:40:53 PM »
I am sos prey all this is going on. It sounds overwhelming. Maybe do a pros/cons list of sending a card versus not and see if that helps you to decide.

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Sneezy

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2021, 01:06:37 PM »
A card is not a promise of future contact.  It's just a card.  And if you choose not to send a card, it doesn't have to mean anything much there either.
Yep, if it's easier for you to pick out a generic card and pop it in an envelope, do that.  Then it's off your mind.  But if you don't want to do that, then don't.  I am really not a fan of these holidays that seem to be all about supporting the Hallmark card industry.  Do whatever makes you feel ok and relieves your stress.  Hugs to you  :bighug:

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moglow

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2021, 01:17:14 PM »
Under the circumstances and feeling you might second guess or beat yourself up if you did nothing, I would tend to look for a simple generic "thinking of you today" card or possibly something that triggers an actual happy memory with Dad. Enabling he may be, but it kinda sounds like your relationship with him isn't at an end. I say this because I've beat myself up far more over what I didn't do with / for Daddy than I ever did over the stupid crap I allowed from mommie dearest all those years.

No harm no foul, and certainly no judgment whatever you choose. Go with what YOU feel and know to be best.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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sambellscoup

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2021, 03:09:05 PM »
Thanks for your responses. It's been so messy in my head. Thinking a little more about it, with regards to all the PD family members, they don't actually care about it on a genuine level, any big deal they make out of it I have to remember it's just a behaviour that's part of their disorder. They'd just be seeing it as something to weaponise against me, when it's really none of their business.

Maybe what I need right now is to not force myself to send anything on this particular occasion, but to also not tell myself it strictly has to be the end of all future cards. Maybe right now it's too triggering and maybe in the future either I'll feel different and be able to keep mental distance while maintaining a "greeting card relationship", or maybe I'll realise that going NC or extremely LC is all I can handle.

My father might not be all bad, but he's still married to a sadistic abuser who still behaves horrifically at the most sensitive moments in life, and he still makes excuses for her, and honestly just knowing that alone makes me feel kinda sick, and I have to work out whether I can deal with that fact or make any peace with it going forward... But for the moment, I think I do need space, and that involves sitting this one out?

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lavalove

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2021, 03:28:55 PM »
I'm sorry.  The conflicting feelings you describe are familiar to me.   These holidays :roll: can really suck.  Thrift stores or dollar stores sell packs of blank cards for $1 or less.  I use those and simply write "Happy ____ Day" in it.  Nothing more.  Others ask me why I do this, but it get me what I need for myself with minimal acknowledgement, effort, or emotional or monetary investment.

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moglow

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2021, 04:10:00 PM »
Do what you need for yourself, and don't think for a minute you owe anyone an explanation for it. And honestly, should some feel compelled to demand an explanation that's probably all the more reason they aren't / never were owed one.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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Leonor

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2021, 07:07:40 PM »
Hi Soup,

I sense that your discomfort is coming from FOG: the Obligation to send a card on a holiday; the Guilt over not feeling warm and fuzzy towards your father; the Fear over what others will say (namely, abusive mom, flying monkey siblings and enDad).

Not a good reason for contact.

Your discomfort around your father is a mistrust grounded in experience. He hasn't really earned your trust. You've seen him abandon you, tear down his sister, and cower in the presence of your mother, who has tormented you for decades.

So now he makes phone call or two. Okay. But that doesn't outweigh his massive failure as a father.

Have you heard of Kris Godinez? She's awesome. One of the points she makes that stick with me is that your head will tell you stories (but he's doing the best he can) and your heart will tell you stories (but he says he loves you) but your gut won't. Your gut always tells the truth.

Listen to your gut. Tend to yourself this Father's Day. Besides, he's got two other offspring who can send him a card.

Gentleness to you.

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Kiki81

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2021, 02:17:52 AM »
Lot of good comment here for you.

Progress is made when you press forward through the feelings and do what is intelligent and practical, healthy and self supporting. What's the worst that happens if you don't send the card?

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sambellscoup

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2021, 06:03:55 AM »
.Your discomfort around your father is a mistrust grounded in experience. He hasn't really earned your trust. You've seen him abandon you, tear down his sister, and cower in the presence of your mother, who has tormented you for decades.

I think you've got the nail on the head. I hadn't pegged it as mistrust, but yes of course it is! It's only dawning on me how manipulative and truly dishonest he is so he never has to face any inconvenient thoughts or take uncomfortable actions. His priority is his desire to continue living his life the way he envisions it and not have to change any of that, especially since divorce would "look bad" in his eyes (nowhere near as bad as remaining married to a pervert who tormented his daughter but shhh, we won't tell anyone that).

One very important thing he fails to appreciate is that if any one of his kids has a kid if their/our own, as far as I understand it I'll be obliged to report my mother to the police in case a vulnerable child is left in her care. I'll certainly be informing the parents-to-be before they come up with some "Soup is crazy just ignore her" kind of story.

I absolutely do not trust him to protect any grandkids from her.

If merely talking to him on the phone was enough to set off some strong trauma symptoms, there's something very wrong. I may need to do more digging to find it all, but certainly the point about mistrust is a big one that I hadn't put my finger on before, so thank you. There can be no true relationship without trust.

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sambellscoup

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Re: Enabler father, Father's Day struggle
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2021, 06:11:09 AM »
@kiki81 the worst I guess is my PD siblings sending me abusive messages about how horrible I am for not doing so. And I guess as painful as that would be, I can delete the messages and block them.

Perhaps I need to look into quietly blocking a few more avenues of contact while things are quiet and there's no pot being stirred!