Since I can remember, I have always had a very difficult and strained relationship with my father because of his behavior. Now that I am older, he is trying to reach back out and connect with me, but it just doesn’t feel right. I explained to him that it is hard to forget all that he has done, and his response was to tell me that he doesn’t know what I am talking about and that he did nothing wrong. He wants me to just forgive him and move on, but I can’t. I can’t forgive what I experienced or how I feel. And he makes me feel as if my pain and my experiences are not valid. I hated growing up without him in my life, and it hurts me to have the nonexistent relationship that we do, but I hate him. I do. And I accept that. And I don’t believe my feelings towards him can be changed. Sometimes I feel that he manipulates me into being open to him and a relationship with him. I’m so confused! I want him back in my life, but then I don’t want him back in my life because of everything he’s done, but at the same time, I feel that everything is my fault.
I am really sorry that the relationship with your father is strained. And I am so very sorry that you were put in situations, because of your father, that made you grow up faster than you should have. And before we go any further, I do want to let you know that your feelings and pain are valid. Now, the first thing that popped out at me was your father dismissing your concerns. Him not showing compassion, remorse or concern for your concerns is very telling. He is obviously showing you signs that he hasn’t changed and that he truly believes that he has done nothing wrong. Riddle me this, if your father believes he has done nothing wrong, why does he think the relationship is strained between you two? Does he think you are the source of the problem? If so, that isn’t a good sign!
I am afraid that if you were to establish a connection with your father that it would be a mistake. I truly feel that you would be setting yourself up for disappointment if you were to re-establish any type of relationship with him. But, if you were to go into a relationship with your father with your eyes wide open, knowing that he would not and could not give you what you needed from a father/child relationship then you would be okay. But would you really be okay if you were settling for an okay relationship, a relationship where you could not be yourself, express yourself and your feelings without being made to feel guilty for feeling the way that you do?
When it comes to feelings, we all feel the way we do for a reason and those reasons usually deal with boundaries that aren’t respected and the people who do not respect them or situations that encroach upon our boundaries. And you said so yourself, he is invalidating you and your pain. There is no good ending to this other than you accepting your dad for who he is and acknowledging that he will not change and that he will never be the man you need him to be. And just walk away, love yourself, heal from this experience and mourn the father and the healthy relationship you deserved.
And if you think he is manipulating you, then he is. Trust your instincts! You do not want to be in any relationship with a person who uses manipulation, guilt and gaslighting to try and control you. And that is exactly what your father is doing. He is mentally and emotionally abusing you and you cannot let him. You have to stand firm, love yourself more than you want a relationship with your dad and move on! And there is nothing wrong with the way you feel, it is completely natural. You have been abandoned by the person who was supposed to be there for you, protect you and care for you. And instead of doing that, he actually made your life harder. And instead of acknowledging his wrongdoings he is blaming you.
Yes, he is mentally and emotionally abusive, so I vote no on you establishing a relationship with him. Do you honestly think that having him in your life will enhance your life or your happiness? The answer to this question will help you decide what to do in this situation. But I do want you to know that there is nothing wrong with putting your needs first, it just means that you love yourself more than you love your father, and that is how it should be. Loving yourself enough to erect and enforce your boundaries but also loving yourself more than you love anyone else because at the end of the day, no one can care for you or love you the way that you can for yourself. You may find people who come close to being able to give you the level of care and love that you can give yourself, but no one can love you or care for you the way that you can, trust and remember that.
And please do not think of any of this as being your fault because it is not. We cannot make choices and decisions for others and the boat your father is in is all from his own wrongdoings. So, you take care of yourself and love yourself and consider taking a step back from your dad and focusing on healing from your experiences with your father. It may take some time to heal and forgive, but I know you can do it.
And the forgiveness is not about your father, it is about you. It poisons us to go about life hating and resenting other people and I want you to live your best life here while you can and hating and resenting someone else will not allow you to do that. So, if possible, consider reaching out to a licensed counselor and welcome them along your journey of healing, as you have me. Do not worry about your father and just focus on yourself. And I hope you know that you are always welcome and loved here at DearSpence. Wishing you peace, love, and happiness.