Saturday, March 30, 2013

Just cut ties.

This contributor wishes to remain anonymous. Here is her story:

I found your blog this morning when I was looking for resources on how to break ties with a "toxic" parent. Thank you for providing a healing place to so many. I wanted to just get this off my chest and talk to someone about it. My grandparents are from a completely different era and don't agree with my decision.

My father raised me, so I was Daddy's Little Girl. He did wonderful things for me, like took me around the world, took me out to a restaurant every Friday night, and built me the best dollhouse ever (it had carpet and electricity!!!). However, he also used to hit me (splitting my lip once, bruising me a couple of times, and leaving welts regularly), call me names (he called me a bitch last year when I brought him a pet for his birthday, stupidly thinking it would patch up our relationship), and threaten to leave me on roadsides many, many times, even while on vacation 600 miles from home. Last winter, he screamed at me in a public cafe for dropping my cell phone (which I paid $20 for - it wasn't an iPhone or anything). I was as humiliated for him as I was for myself.

When I moved out ten years ago, we grew more distant and I'm convinced he's developed Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He contacts me by phone once every two or three months and has replaced me with 2,000 Facebook friends. Conversations increasingly became more about him, and he no longer asks how I'm doing; I have to volunteer it. When I smile and say, "Hey, I really like my new job, by the way (I recently received a great promotion that is providing me with some direction in life, so I'm very excited)," he says, "Oh. Am I supposed to ask you how you're doing?" He bought me an iPad for my birthday last year and I sent him a quick email from my graduate class last fall telling him how much I loved it -- I was using it at that minute to take notes, and it was working perfectly. He wrote back, "If I had known that's all you were going to use it for, I woudn't have bought it for you. It was a waste of my money." He is a genius at twisting my gratitude into guilt.

He had a heart attack a few weeks ago and when I called him to say hi and check on his health, it ended horribly. I told him I loved him and he said sarcastically, "Yeah, it really shows." I flipped out. I wrote him a letter last night that told him I recognize all he's done for me, but like anyone else, he has to earn the respect of others; it is not owed to him just because he's my dad. I closed it by saying "It hurts me to do this, but I cannot be in contact with someone who emotionally and verbally abuses me so often that it affects how I work, how I interact with my pet, my boyfriend, my friends, etc." I've lost a lot of sleep over it, too, so I guess it affects my health as well, though that seems like a stretch. He's very depressed, lonely, and not doing well financially, plus he's a functional alcoholic (his drink of choice is Scotch Whiskey) and I've tried to be sensitive to these things, but our relationship is beginning to affect other happier areas of my life now.

I am unsure if I did the right thing -- after all, he's my dad and I was his little girl -- but it's the first time I've stood up for myself. I hope it'll earn his respect and he'll see beyond the self-absorbed fog that hovers around him. I dunno.

It's tough stuff. I know parents are only human too, but they should, at the very least, act like adults.