"Honor your father and your mother.."


#1

I am struggling so much right now. I am having some problems with my family, but I'll leave that for another post. What I'm most concerned with right now is my dad.

My relationship with my dad has never been a good one. When I was a little girl, he was my world, and all I wanted to do was make him proud. I don't know when that changed, but now the only honest feeling I have towards him is indifference.

When I was 12, he moved to the States because of work. The rest of my family stayed here, so we were apart for 7 years (though we always visited during summer) until I was done with school and my mom and I moved to the States with him (my brother stayed here, he's 9 years older than me). Eventually we moved back to Peru, and about 3 months ago he moved to Ecuador also because of work.

That's the "practical" story, so to speak. The emotional one is far more complicated. My parents' relationship has always been far from perfect. In fact, it's been a disaster. I'm so happy my dad is gone again because seeing them together is too painful for me, it crushes me. Problem is that, well, my whole family has a problem with my dad. My brother has a lot of resentment towards him, as does my mom, so now that he's away it's easy for them to be completely indifferent towards him.

I feel completely indifferent, too. But my guilt pushes me to try to stay in touch with him. But whenever I do, I feel like I'm stretching out my arm, but instead of helping him come out of his constant spiral of negativity, he pulls me down with him, and always brings me so close to drowning. He's a very lonely person, and constantly tells me I'm the only one he can count on, the only thing that keeps him going, that without me it'd all be over. I get sick when he tells me that...I feel sick right now as I type that.

I know I'm supposed to love my father, but I can't. All I can do is resent him, all I feel for him is...nothing. I rarely remember he exists, and when I notice this, guilt chokes me up. When I talk to him all he has to say are complaints about my brother or my mom...he always tries to talk to me about his relationship with my mom and how it's in ruins. Yesterday he forwarded me 2 emails he wrote to her "just so I could read them" even though I asked him to please not do that because it wasn't my place to read that stuff. I tried deleting them, but I couldn't resist them temptation, so I read a little bit of both. In them he said stuff about how she had once made him happy, 32 years ago. They were emails full of resentment and self-pity, and even though I stopped myself from reading the whole thing, after reading one line I felt sick and wanting to cry.

I know I'm supposed to love and honor my father, but I can't. Every day I resent him even more for pushing me to be a sinner by making me hate him. Im so scared of him becoming so depressed that he'll just give up and...die. I hate that word, I hate these thoughts, I hate feeling in my heart that the only thing I'd feel if he were gone would be guilt. Neither pain, nor sadness...guilt. Guilt because I would've been the only reason why he kept on going...which means that, if he gave up, I would've failed. Does that make any sense? I don't understand it, I'm confused as to how I feel.

But anyways...enough rambling and self-analyzing. I just...don't know what to do. Am I going to hell for feeling this way? I feel like no matter how many times I go to Confession for this, it will never be washed away. I will never be clean from this sin. It'll be a constant, because he's a constant. As long as he exists, I'll be sinning. And once he's gone, that sin will be printed in me forever. And I feel disgusting for worrying about this...it's such a selfish worry. But, God, I can't care. I want to care about him, but I can't. Please help me, please pray for me...and pray for my dad. He is very, very alone.


#2

How sad. It sounds as if your father has some severe emotional (and possibly psychiatric) problems, things you couldn't do anything about unless you were a licensed psychiatrist (and even then, you wouldn't be able to effectively treat a member of your own family.)

Who knows what made him this ill? But that isn't your responsibility. It's not your responsibility if he is lonely because of circumstances of his own making.

You can, however, set healthy boundaries and maintain contact without getting sucked into the dysfunction. Listen to your feelings when you are interacting with him, and if what is being said sounds manipulative or implausible, set a limit and stop listening for the time being. You don't even have to say that you are stopping listening because he is being self-pitying or manipulative. Just stop listening when you notice it. Things may turn out very well if he notices that any time he tries to do those things you stop listening, but expect it to be a long learning process.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to sharpen your facility of discernment and perseverance here. For example, you initially believed you shouldn't have read the copies of those e-mails, and that was a good decision. Opening and reading them anyways at your father's insistence just showed your father that he can wear you down to do his bidding, so to speak. That teaches him nothing, just that he can continue to manipulate and dominate. It's like feeding a puppy table scraps because he's demanding them. Pretty soon, you have a puppy that has learned that if he continues to be a pest, he will get a table scrap. Maybe a good thing to have said would have been, "No, I'm not going to do that," and just press the delete button. And if he asked you if you had read them, you didn't have to provide him with a reason why you didn't. You could just say, "no, I didn't." Sure, he'd raise Cain at first. But pretty soon he'd get the idea that he can't manipulate you into doing what you believe you shouldn't do.

Of course, pray for him. Pray that God relieves him of whatever it is in his personality that has served to alienate him from family and friends. And then leave it in God's hands.


#3

Run as far as you can, take your family with you and leave him.

Stop having any kind of relationship with him. Break any ties, change phone number, email other contacts he may have. Think of him as being dead. He is killing you and the rest of your family. With his actions. Whatever you do try not to feel guilty because you are not he is! He probably knows you are a very sensitive person in the first place and exploits it to his advantage manipulating you.

Unfortunately Stockholm's syndrome is very powerful. Plus the honor your father and your mother bit is too. Don't honor a tyrant and despot that's what he is and not a father so no it is not a sin. Find a psychologist that can help him cure his personality disorder or alleviate it.

Its hard but must be done.

Hope that everything goes well.


#4

[quote="odile53, post:2, topic:246677"]
You can, however, set healthy boundaries and maintain contact without getting sucked into the dysfunction. Listen to your feelings when you are interacting with him, and if what is being said sounds manipulative or implausible, set a limit and stop listening for the time being. You don't even have to say that you are stopping listening because he is being self-pitying or manipulative. Just stop listening when you notice it. Things may turn out very well if he notices that any time he tries to do those things you stop listening, but expect it to be a long process.

[/quote]

This. It's all about the boundaries.


#5

Please do not allow your father to draw you into his personal problems. It is like trying to save a drowning person - they will drown you as they grab on and pull you under unless you know what you are doing. You KNOW from how you feel that listening to him complain about others and triangulate about your mother and brother is WRONG. When he starts to talk about others, tell him, “Dad, I am going to need to go now. I can’t talk to you about someone who isn’t here, that’s GOSSIP.”

I know personally how destructive this is - you end up in the role of therapist and that is in no way healthy. I saw it clearly myself one Sunday, as first my dad and then my sister called me, 2 states away from the town they both lived in, and each called ME to complain and gossip about the other one!!! I told my sister, “you have to STOP doing this,” and called my father back and told him the same thing, “DO NOT call me and talk about my sister any more, I can’t do anything from here and I just get angry at both of you!” Things were cool for a while but I really didn’t miss the drama because the way you feel when you talk to your dad is how I felt after talking to either my dad or my sister - all torn up inside. And they felt better! As does your dad after talking to you!

Don’t resent your father, just set boundaries! You will feel better immediately! If you can get ahold of the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, please read it. It helped me a lot and helps every time I re-read it.

You can do it! You can have a different relationship with your dad but you are going to have to draw the line with him and stick to it!


#6

But anyways...enough rambling and self-analyzing. I just...don't know what to do. Am I going to hell for feeling this way?** I feel like no matter how many times I go to Confession for this, it will never be washed away. I will never be clean from this sin. It'll be a constant, because he's a constant. **As long as he exists, I'll be sinning. And once he's gone, that sin will be printed in me forever. And I feel disgusting for worrying about this...it's such a selfish worry. But, God, I can't care. I want to care about him, but I can't. Please help me, please pray for me...and pray for my dad. He is very, very alone.

laural, feelings are not facts. every time you go to confession with true contrition-- sorrow for offending God-- the sin is washed away. furthermore, there's a VAST difference between the feeling of revulsion and the feeling of vengeance. your post reads as someone who's revulsed by a parent who is emotionally disastrous. NOT as a person burning with vengeance. you don't wish harm to befall him. THAT would be the sin.

pray for him. pray a lot. you hope for him salvation and even some peace in this life. and draw healthy boundaries. and stick to them.

(occasionally i find myself feeling angry at a person for breaching my boundaries, but usually what i find upon examination is that i LET it happen. i get mad at them because I can't say no! that's not fair to them nor is it honest with myself.)


#7

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