Neverending family drama: I don't know what to do anymore


#1

I have a very unpleasant situation in my family and it is a source of great sadness and frustration in my life. I would very much appreciate your thoughts and advice on what to do and how to handle it better in the future. I have discussed this with people (including in councelling some years ago) but I need a Christian perspective. People tell me I should do what I'm comfortable with, which is not helpful at all. I keep thinking about things like forgivness and duty towards one's parents and wonder if what I'm comfortable with is the right thing to do.

The background of the story is crucial here so I feel I should start with that.
I grew up in a family in which my father was distant and never bothered with me and my brother when we were children and growing up. He always stressed that financial security was the most important thing and that him providing for us was the sign of his love. We always felt like we had to deserve his love and attention but accepted his attitude as normal.

My parents divorced 10 years ago. I was 25 years old when it happened, lived close to home and was unfortunately involved in this just be being there and witnessing what was happening. It was an ugly thing where my father left with a mistress after a series of affairs that happened over the years. My mother was absolutely devastated and it took her good 7years to recover and get on with her life. My brother and I knew that he had an affair but thought that we should not take sides and try to maintain a relationship with him despite everything.

Ten years on I think I made a mistake by accepting his new life because things have backfired.
He and the mistress had a child in the meantime, then got married and had another baby last year. My father is now 60 years old. I am 35, have a lovely husband, a little boy and a baby on the way. I live abroad and go home about 2 times a year. As I have mentioned before, my father has never been involved in my life. Things have remained the same although I have been trying in the last 10 years to build a relationship with him. I am the one who calls to see how he is doing. He never gets in touch to see how I and my family are doing. When i go home he prioritises going to the gym and attending all sorts of social functions before he finds the time to see us. This used to bother me a lot but I prayed about it and decided to do my best and to be loving in the ways that I can without expecting much in return. At the same time I am very resentful for the way he treated our mother and broke up the family.But I have been convinced all these years that if I tried hard enough and got a little bit of something from him that wounds would heal. I have been respectful towards his new family but told him openly at one point that I did not consider his new family to be my family, which I believe is a resonable sentiment given the circumstances, the fact that I am 30+ years older than his children and the fact that I live in a different country.

I went home for Easter with my husband and our son and things blew up. My father came over the day after we arrived and accused me of not caring enought about his sons. This was completely unexpected. He told me I should not come to his home unless I change my attitude. I was absolutely shocked. I tried discussing it but he started accusing me of hating the children and said it is not normal to be indifferent towards 'my own flesh and blood'. I pointed out that he has no interest in his grandson to which he replied that I am genetically closer to my half-brothers than he is to my son. At that point I felt sick and asked him to leave.

I refused to see him for the rest of the visit because I was extremely upset and hurt by this. He called a few times but I was too angry to spend time with him and talk about 'my attitude problem' again. My husband talked me into agreeing to meet before we left so things could be patched up. That was a mistake because as I predicted, my father used the opportunity to hurt and insult me once again. The fact that he learned I was pregnant made no difference and he insisted that there is something wrong with me if I don't love his children and don't consider them to be equal to my brother with whom I grew up and happen to have the same mother. I was absolutely beside myself at that point, told him he never cared about us and called him a dirty old man.

This is where I need your advice on what to do. I am seriously fed up with my father and his selfishness and have no desire to see him or to speak to him anymore. I feel I have done all I could to build a relationship with him but I realise that I have failed. He has seriously crossed the line this time and I just can't accept this. But on the other hand, we are called to forgive and to love. I keep wondering what God wants me to do. I know I have to focus on my family and that my father's issues are essentially not my problem, but I feel guilty for wanting to completely distance myself from him.
I don't know what the right thing to do is anymore.

I expect some of you will rightly suggest that I go into councelling to work through this. I agree that would help but the circumstances are such that I can't do that at the moment.

Thank you for your help!


#2

no advice, but will most def keep you in prayer!


#3

Your prayers are very much appreciated.


#4

You’re now 35 years old with a family of your own who needs you. Your husband and children deserve your time and attention more than your father.

This is where having a husband may prove useful. Until you’re ready to have contact with your father again, have him run interference with you on the phone. He doesn’t have to lie; he can simply tell your father that you’re not ready to speak with him. Your father will get the message. Don’t completely burn bridges, however, because circumstances might change and you may one day realize that you’re able to have your father in your and your family’s lives again.

Just my thoughts. Good luck, and I’ll keep you in my prayers.


#5

Forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to let them keep hurting you (and yes, I learned this from experience). It seems that on some level you always thought that if YOU did the right things, he would change. I understand that perfectly; I spent a long time trying to "earn" the love of my late mother. I only began healing when I realized that it wasn't me, that I couldn't change how she was. It wasn't entirely her fault -- it had to do with the way she was raised, and the family situation when I was born.

I believe that sometimes people can be toxic to you, and you have to cut the ties so that you can heal and have your own life. I'm not saying you cut off all communication and never even send him a Christmas card -- only you and your husband can decide how much contact is acceptable. But he's made his position clear, and you shouldn't let his behavior disrupt your wonderful family. Forgive him, yes. Tolerate his behavior, no. And I would tell him why you won't be visiting any more; perhaps in a letter, if you can't talk to him on the phone or in person (and it sounds like he won't let you say your piece). It may not make any difference now, or indeed ever. But maybe someday it will sink in.

Just remember, your husband, your children, and your own emotional health have to be your priorities now. He's made his choices.

Blessings to you.


#6

:)

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:1, topic:239218"]
I have a very unpleasant situation in my family and it is a source of great sadness and frustration in my life. I would very much appreciate your thoughts and advice on what to do and how to handle it better in the future. I have discussed this with people (including in councelling some years ago) but I need a Christian perspective. People tell me I should do what I'm comfortable with, which is not helpful at all. I keep thinking about things like forgivness and duty towards one's parents and wonder if what I'm comfortable with is the right thing to do.

The background of the story is crucial here so I feel I should start with that.
I grew up in a family in which my father was distant and never bothered with me and my brother when we were children and growing up. He always stressed that financial security was the most important thing and that him providing for us was the sign of his love. We always felt like we had to deserve his love and attention but accepted his attitude as normal.

My parents divorced 10 years ago. I was 25 years old when it happened, lived close to home and was unfortunately involved in this just be being there and witnessing what was happening. It was an ugly thing where my father left with a mistress after a series of affairs that happened over the years. My mother was absolutely devastated and it took her good 7years to recover and get on with her life. My brother and I knew that he had an affair but thought that we should not take sides and try to maintain a relationship with him despite everything.

Ten years on I think I made a mistake by accepting his new life because things have backfired.
He and the mistress had a child in the meantime, then got married and had another baby last year. My father is now 60 years old. I am 35, have a lovely husband, a little boy and a baby on the way. I live abroad and go home about 2 times a year. As I have mentioned before, my father has never been involved in my life. Things have remained the same although I have been trying in the last 10 years to build a relationship with him. I am the one who calls to see how he is doing. He never gets in touch to see how I and my family are doing. When i go home he prioritises going to the gym and attending all sorts of social functions before he finds the time to see us. This used to bother me a lot but I prayed about it and decided to do my best and to be loving in the ways that I can without expecting much in return. At the same time I am very resentful for the way he treated our mother and broke up the family.But I have been convinced all these years that if I tried hard enough and got a little bit of something from him that wounds would heal. I have been respectful towards his new family but told him openly at one point that I did not consider his new family to be my family, which I believe is a resonable sentiment given the circumstances, the fact that I am 30+ years older than his children and the fact that I live in a different country.

I went home for Easter with my husband and our son and things blew up. My father came over the day after we arrived and accused me of not caring enought about his sons. This was completely unexpected. He told me I should not come to his home unless I change my attitude. I was absolutely shocked. I tried discussing it but he started accusing me of hating the children and said it is not normal to be indifferent towards 'my own flesh and blood'. I pointed out that he has no interest in his grandson to which he replied that I am genetically closer to my half-brothers than he is to my son. At that point I felt sick and asked him to leave.

I refused to see him for the rest of the visit because I was extremely upset and hurt by this. He called a few times but I was too angry to spend time with him and talk about 'my attitude problem' again. My husband talked me into agreeing to meet before we left so things could be patched up. That was a mistake because as I predicted, my father used the opportunity to hurt and insult me once again. The fact that he learned I was pregnant made no difference and he insisted that there is something wrong with me if I don't love his children and don't consider them to be equal to my brother with whom I grew up and happen to have the same mother. I was absolutely beside myself at that point, told him he never cared about us and called him a dirty old man.

This is where I need your advice on what to do. I am seriously fed up with my father and his selfishness and have no desire to see him or to speak to him anymore. I feel I have done all I could to build a relationship with him but I realise that I have failed. He has seriously crossed the line this time and I just can't accept this. But on the other hand, we are called to forgive and to love. I keep wondering what God wants me to do. I know I have to focus on my family and that my father's issues are essentially not my problem, but I feel guilty for wanting to completely distance myself from him.
I don't know what the right thing to do is anymore.

I expect some of you will rightly suggest that I go into councelling to work through this. I agree that would help but the circumstances are such that I can't do that at the moment.

Thank you for your help!

[/quote]

Contra Mundum,
You have my prayers. Now the part that will be less helpfull:). I would sit down and right to your dad just how you feel about everything. If you Love him tell him so, but also let him know what it is you expect from him and if he is not able to do that then you for the sake of self and family (your husband and children) you will have to limit what contact there is with him.


#7

con't

Also gennectics really do not have much to do with how we feel about others. And the fact that his other children and 30 + years younger and you have limited contact with them has a lot to do with the fact that you are not nearly as close to them as you full brother.Pray and if you write this all out for him be sure to let him know you Love him ( the fact that this bothers you so show that you do), but that you will not allow him to hurt you emotionally any longer nor will you allow him the oppertunity to hurt your children.


#8

[quote=**agnes therese
[/quote]

;7846273]Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to let them keep hurting you (and yes, I learned this from experience). Forgive him, yes. Tolerate his behavior, no.

I think I never really understood the difference between forgiving someone and tolerating their behaviour. I do see it now but still don’t understand how I can forgive him without putting up with his behaviour. I think this is crucial for me to heal so if you could maybe explain this a bit more and suggest what steps to take I would very much appreciate it.

**OneGodOneChurch,**I will think about writing him a letter sometime in the future. Knowing him it will probably not make a difference but it might help me at least. What you said about him hurting my children is spot on. I don’t want my children to suffer because of this. He does not hold back and I have seen how his mother and him fought for years. He is doing the same to me now, it seems like their crazy relationship is being played out again but he is now in a different role. My grandmother found a way to hurt me and I can see my father getting to my children in a similar way. There is no way I will let this happen. I come from a seriously dysfunctional family :eek:


#9

Thank you for coming here and sharing your story, I will pray for you!

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. I am sure you have heard stories of great forgiveness haven’t you? I know I have. Think of parents of a murdered child. I have heard great stories where they told of their journey and that over time they grew to forgive the murderer. This is wonderful as Christ calls us to forgive.

However, the parents of the victim and the murderer probably don’t go out to lunch, have coffee or talk on the phone weekly. So you see we are obligated to forgive but that does not mean we are obligated to be in a relationship with someone.

You already have great distance between your father and yourself both emotionally and geographically. Perhaps keep the door open by sending a Christmas card or birthday greeting once in a while and leave it at that. Sending a little religious toy for his children too or rosary for their birthdays would be sweet too. It is not their fault that their parents are who they are and perhaps you can be a light of Christ for them even though it is from a great distance.

Hope this helps a little.


#10

[quote="Monicad, post:9, topic:239218"]
Thank you for coming here and sharing your story, I will pray for you!

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. I am sure you have heard stories of great forgiveness haven't you? I know I have. Think of parents of a murdered child. I have heard great stories where they told of their journey and that over time they grew to forgive the murderer. This is wonderful as Christ calls us to forgive.

However, the parents of the victim and the murderer probably don't go out to lunch, have coffee or talk on the phone weekly. So you see we are obligated to forgive but that does not mean we are obligated to be in a relationship with someone.

You already have great distance between your father and yourself both emotionally and geographically. Perhaps keep the door open by sending a Christmas card or birthday greeting once in a while and leave it at that. Sending a little religious toy for his children too or rosary for their birthdays would be sweet too. It is not their fault that their parents are who they are and perhaps you can be a light of Christ for them even though it is from a great distance.

Hope this helps a little.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: I was going to suggest this. Send a card on Christmas and on his birthday and on the kids' birthday (if that is what your family does) and keep your contact on that level. No more. I will pray for you.


#11

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:8, topic:239218"]
I think I never really understood the difference between forgiving someone and tolerating their behaviour. I do see it now but still don't understand how I can forgive him without putting up with his behaviour. I think this is crucial for me to heal so if you could maybe explain this a bit more and suggest what steps to take I would very much appreciate it.

[/quote]

Say you had a brother who managed to get addicted to drugs, and later on several occasions stole money from you to buy them. You might forgive him the money he's taken, but you probably won't leave him alone with your purse again, and insofar as it is possible without causing harm to your family, you might try to get him to get help.

It's harder to forgive the sort of things you've experienced than a few dollars, but the idea is similar. It may be possible for you to put the past behind you, but until he's shown that it's safe, there's no reason to let him near your emotional purse, so to speak. That is, it is probably a good idea to accept that things CAN improve, and try not to hold his past actions against him to the point where you deny the possibility, but it probably isn't a good idea to assume that they HAVE improved until he's shown he can be at least civil to you and your family.

Kind of a forgive, but don't forget sort of thing. You are in my prayers.


#12

I do not consider it coincidence that I have not visited this site for awhile, but did today and knew I had to answer you. First, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I have had very similar family situations, and I know they are truly heartbreaking. Realize that basically, this situation is a chaotic mess, one that you did not make but must deal with the fallout, but cannot fix. Many people do not understand this, which is equally heart breaking. I think your father is feeling very guilty. Deep down he knows he did not and is not behaving in a manner God would approve. He is taking it out on you. Hand his stuff back to him and pray. It sounds like God has blessed you with a beautiful family of your own. The advice to focus on them is right on. It also helps to remember what the Medjugorje visionary Ivan said about divorce. He said the Blessed Mother said you can see Satan’s influence in the world by the high rates of divorce. Also, one of his tactics is to divide the husband and wife and go after the children one by one. This statement was truly enlightening for me, but it is still horrifically painful. There is a purpose to this.So few understand that children of divorce can truly be a beacon of light. You know exactly why the Church’s view of marriage is correct. In many ways you know more than children of intact families do, who often embrace the world’s view of divorce as “not a big deal”. Yeah, right.
I am praying for you along you and the others. Offer up your suffering and prayers for the Blessed Mother’s intentions for peace and salvation of the world, and she will pray for you.
God Bless. Write back anytime.


#13

[quote="jilly4ski, post:10, topic:239218"]
:thumbsup: I was going to suggest this. Send a card on Christmas and on his birthday and on the kids' birthday (if that is what your family does) and keep your contact on that level. No more. I will pray for you.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

Though, I'd also pray a daily Divine Mercy Chaplet for his soul.

I wonder why your opinion suddenly mattered to him? weirdorama. It sounds a little like he's fighting guilt by redirecting it to you. But, he sounds really immature anyway.

Just pray for him. If he has food and shelter, that's where your obligation ends as a grown daughter. (in this situation). You can talk to your priest about that if you want.

Fr. Emmerich has a neat book about co-dependency called Detaching with Love

12-step-review.org/

He was a spiritual retreat master for Mother Teresa.


#14

I completely agree with the advice that forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to let them continue hurting you.

The behavior you described sounds pretty out there to me. Maybe he's viewing his young children as a chance to do things right this time and it offends him that they maybe viewed as "dirty" because of the circumstances of their conception. He might be trying to blame everyone for any scandal involved except himself. He seriously needs to evaluate his role in this whole mess and make ammends where necessary.

Regardless of what's going through his head, you aren't responsible for any of it. You ARE called for forgive, but that doesn't mean he gets to continue this sharade. I'd definitely put some boundaries up until HE makes changes.

As for the younger siblings, it would be really nice for you to have a relationship with them and it could be a wonderful thing for your little ones also, especially because they are so close in age. I just have no advice on how that can happen anytime too soon given the situation.

I WOULD definitely start praying for your father and his chosen "situation" asap and with frequency.

Praying for you!


#15

My prayers are with you, and I truly hope that your father has a conversion in his heart.

I tried to find some Christian advice (specifically Catholic), and this was the closest I came: abusehelpspiritual.com/honorparents.html

The author cites Samuel, 19:20 and says, : "It becomes obvious that honoring one’s parents means living a life following God regardless of how one’s parents live. The reality is, the only time the words “honor” and “obey” are completely interchangeable is when we are referring to God. Since God is perfect, honoring and obeying God are one and the same.

When we place our faith in man, even our parents, we set ourselves up for disappointment, since as humans we are by nature fallible. If one’s parents follow God, honoring and obeying them are almost one and the same. However, if one’s parents do not represent a godly moral code, then it is not only acceptable, but necessary, to depart from their practices and follow God. It is by living a godly life that one brings honor to one’s family and name."

I hope in some small way this helps.


#16

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:1, topic:239218"]
I
This is where I need your advice on what to do. I am seriously fed up with my father and his selfishness and have no desire to see him or to speak to him anymore. I feel I have done all I could to build a relationship with him but I realise that I have failed. He has seriously crossed the line this time and I just can't accept this. But on the other hand, we are called to forgive and to love. I keep wondering what God wants me to do. I know I have to focus on my family and that my father's issues are essentially not my problem, but I feel guilty for wanting to completely distance myself from him.
I don't know what the right thing to do is anymore.

I expect some of you will rightly suggest that I go into councelling to work through this. I agree that would help but the circumstances are such that I can't do that at the moment.

Thank you for your help!

[/quote]

I clipped your original post because it was long and I wanted to have enough space to respond. I know this is going to be hard for you to hear, but this man may not have ever really been attached to you or your brother, or your mother for that matter, the way that normal people would be. You say he had more than one affair - and then left your mother and married one of the women he had extramarital sex with. And that he never really acted like a father to your brother or to you. And now he is asking you to pretend that his offspring with this woman are like your brothers?:eek:

What I thought of is this: His wife is pressuring him to cut you out of any possible inheritance so that their kids can benefit fully from anything he leaves, such as a life insurance policy. It may seem as if he wants you to accept his kids as your brothers, but that's not really the aim. Or, he's simply a narcissist and wants you to pay him the honor he feels he is due. Either way, he's trying to manipulate you into doing something he wants you to do. Not caring one iota about you, your life, your health or his grandchildren.

In my opinion, he tore up his father card when he left your mother for his mistress. You have NO reason to feel guilty for not seeing him or continuing any relationship with your half-brothers. Of course it is not their fault, the whole mess lands squarely on your father, but since he made these kids with the woman he screwed around with while he was still married to your mother, he's really got a lot of nerve in pretending that there is no sin in what he has done.

I wouldn't bother with a letter unless it helps you to get your anger out. I don't know if you've ever gotten righteously angry at your father. It might be time. The resentment comes from allowing someone to treat you badly. I know a lot about that. :( Once you stop allowing him to impact your life, you'll let that resentment go. You know what they say, resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. It eats you up inside.

Take your dad just as he is, with no hope of change. Is that someone you would want to spend time with? If not, then just live your life. Continue to support your mom and your brother, and don't spend much time fretting about your father. If you can do some short-term therapy, to help you grieve about the creep of a father you have, that would be helpful.

I hope your husband's father is a good grandfather to your kids. And I will add you to my prayers. When difficult people are our parents, it's a very tough thing to cope with.


#17

P.S. YOU did not fail!!! HE did!!! YOU have nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about!!! Please do not feel that you have failed in any way. You have gone above and beyond. You deserved a loving, close relationship with a father who loved you and who loved and cherished your mother and did not betray her. You didn’t get that. He could not give you that. But you have your husband and hopefully your FIL who are good men. It’s your father’s failing, not yours!!!


#18

Thank you ALL so much for your replies. I slept better last night after posting about this problem and knowing that people will pray for me.

I think that distinguishing between forgivness and tolerating behaviour is crucial for me. The way I was raised is that I was taught that I have to put up with all sorts of things in the name of love. I have had many conversations with my aunt about this over the years and she would always agree with me but would without fail say at the end that yes, this is not fair, he is a strange man and a dissappointment, but that he is my father. That would mean that I just had to get on with it, cry it out but never even think about cutting him off. That kind of thing was simply unimaginable in my family. My brother still thinks *I *should try harder to find a way to communicate with him. But my brother lives very far away and does not have a family. I bet he would not put up with half of the things I did if he had children. having a family of my own has completely changed my understanding of things and lowered my tolerance for bs.

I think I actually have forgiven him for being a creep and a bad father. I don't really dwell upon that too much, except when he causes an argument and old issues are mentioned again. Fortunately, nowdays that 'only' happens about once a year or so. I am a grown woman and my childhood is over. It was not great but I know it could have been worse. I have learned from bad examples in my family and am determined to be a good mother. My husband is great and super family oriented. I have truly been blessed in that regard.

I think that what I have to do next is pray and stop thinking about him and his feelings and move on. I don't hate him but I most certainly don't love him anymore. I don't wish him any harm but also don't desire to have him in my life. I think my daddy and I have reached the end. I might send a Christmas card and wish him a happy birthday. We'll see.

I will go and get some councelling when I can in order to grieve properly as Julianne suggested. I need closure. But I feel more calm already. It helps to hear that I am not crazy and evil and that this is not my fault. I know I am easily manipulated and need a bit of assurance.

Thank you all so, so much for taking the time to read my long post, to reply and to pray for me. I really appreciate it.
I'm going to Mass now and will pray for all of you too.


#19

I guess that I am going to be the voice of dissent. Your father's behavior and attitude toward you seems to have changed greatly* after* you told him that you couldn't view your half-brothers as brothers. Of course he is hurt and upset by this. Regardless of how they came into this world, they are still children and still innocent, and have done nothing, save being born, to deserve your callousness. The only possible reason that you would have said such a thing to your father was to hurt him, so don't be upset and surprised to find out that he IS hurt. This may not have occured to you, but the reason that this is especially hurtful to him is because you are his daughter and he cares about you being a part of his life, which now includes your half-brothers, who are in fact your brothers.

I have a half-sister who is 15 years younger than me. Considering the fact that I left home at age 18 and moved many hours away, I have not had the same type of relationship with her compared to with my sister who is 3 years younger and who is my whole sister. I always refer to her and think of her as my sister though. I don't think of her as being anything less. Even though we are genetically less related, in many ways it always blows me away how much we have in common. Even though we don't see each other often, I love to spend time with her and hear from her, and have nothing but the best wishes for her.

Don't let your youngest brothers be the symbol of and the recipients of your bad feelings toward your father. It is very understandable that his distance in your growing up years and then leaving your mother for another woman really hurt you. That needs to be between you and him without dragging them into it. Somehow you need to work your way through those feelings of hurt and disappointment, and realize that your parents' problems are not your fault and to forgive your father for all of his failings. You never did this. You just pretended like everything was okay. It obviously wasn't and you are still hurting. I promise you that if you do go to counseling and do work on those feelings, you will feel better and I do think you will find a way to have a closer relationship with your father, which it does sound like even he wants.


#20

I agree with this poster. Your feelings are what they are. You can love and forgive your father without being in contact with him. Write him a letter, expressing your love and other feelings, and tell him you hope he loves you in spite of your differences. The focus on your husband (who sounds wonderful) and your own dear children.

And keep an open mind and heart…at some point you may find you are ready to be more open to him and his family, and things can be mended. Your family doesn’t have to be like the Waltons to be a family.


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