I have tried to talk to my father about the problems with our relationship since my first child was born over 20 years ago and although he pretends to listen to me, he never listens to me. I know this because he never tries to change anything about it. My father is emotionally unavailable. Not just to me; I believe he is emotionally unavailable to everyone. He sent me a birthday card this year and it said how he had all these fond memories of me. I wondered if he knew who he sent the card to? What memories? But I am tired of asking and last year when my father called to ask “if he was able to arrange it”, could he stay with us and attend our daughters graduation, I told him that I was tired of having the same old discussion with him; seeing him just hurts because it is a big reminder of his disinterested in me and how he delivers that same message to my kids about them. I told my passive abusive father that our relationship was pretty much “no relationship” and I was tired of telling him how much he discounts my kids by cutting them off and never listening to them when they are talking. I told him that I was tired of constantly being reminded that I have never been important in his life by his lack of interest in my life.
I told my daughter about my decision and because of the frustrations that all my kids have with their grandfather, she understood my decision. I told him (and my daughter) that he was welcome to come to the event, but not to stay with us in our home. There is of course way more to this story, and years of dysfunctional history behind this decision but for the purpose of this article, I am going to leave it at that for now.
Last month I got a letter from one of my half sisters. We have our emotionally unavailable father in common but we have different mothers. I think I was 16 or 17 when my sister was born; we have never actually lived in the same home or even in the same city or province and don’t really know each other all that well but like all good victims living in the dysfunctional system of victim mentality, I covered up for my father when it came to my half sisters (and to everyone else for that matter) and even believed all my own lies up until about 7 years ago when I faced the truth about my life and my dysfunctional parents.
There are a few things that I want to point out about her letter that are very common to the dysfunctional family system. Please keep in mind that my half sister is a victim of the family dysfunction and in this case she is just as much our fathers victim as I was.
The following letter was sent to my daughter with a CC to me because my daughter made a comment to my father on facebook about him not seeing his family in Western Canada (where we live) and my sister decided that my daughter must not know why he isn’t visiting us. She decided (falsely concluded) that I had not told anyone that I told my father I didn’t want him here. She waited three months to ask Katie about her comment on facebook and she attached a screen shot of the conversation on facebook to refresh everyone’s memory. Here are the relevant parts of the letter she wrote to Katie and I; (I only took out the first part which was specifically to Katie)
“Hi Katie and Darlene,
I thought it would be better to go straight to the source, so here we go. The discussion was on March 22. It’s in the attached photo so everyone’s memory can be refreshed.
Katie: I think you should ask your mother why your grandfather hasn’t visited you, because it’s not what you think. You should specifically ask what happened on the most recent attempt when he called her and said he wanted to come for your graduation. I don’t think you got the message. And I think you’re old enough to be allowed to know what’s happening, perhaps it’s time you make your own decisions.
Katie, you should also know that the last time I visited you guys – which I know was a long time ago but hey I barely have money for groceries, let alone travel that isn’t being paid for by work – your Mom told me that our father was the Mom she never had and how lucky we were to have such a caring Dad. Darlene you talked to me until 2am one night about all the things he did for you through the years. What happened?
Darlene, you don’t owe me anything. But if you are willing, please explain what happened and why you are poisoning your family against the man who stood up for you when you had a teacher who was bullying you at school. Who changed your diapers and your kids’ diapers. Who like every other human is not perfect but who loves his family as much as any person ever could.
And my response;
“I no longer have that rogers email address but Katie forwarded this to me today
You seem to think that Katie doesn’t know the truth about this. (and I will never know if YOU know the truth about this because Dad is a master of twisting things or leaving enough out to make himself look better) I am very honest and respectful with all my kids. After years of asking Dad to listen to me and stop changing the subject constantly to be about him, I told him that I didn’t want him to visit anymore. It was a constant reminder of how absent he was throughout my life. Dad doesn’t know me and he never bothered to. You mention that I told you the he was the mother I never had. I did say that but it was only for the short period of time when Katie was born. Just for that time he helped me so much but that does not make up for the constant pain he caused by his passive abuse and lack of interest in me or my kids. I told all of my kids that they could make their own decisions about relationship with grandpa but for me I was done. I guess the final straw was when he was last here and he started picking on Amy and all three kids were very effected by the way he cuts them off and never wants to hear what they want to tell him.
It sounds like the only story you know about me is also one of the only ones he ever tells. (the abusive teacher story) but you don’t know the truth about that one either because I could never face it in order to repeat it. It was Dr. Quenelle who threatened mom and dad that it they didn’t get me out of her class that he would get a court order to get me out of it. (Dad didn’t want to confront the principal and make those waves) Dad told that story as the hero, but he wasn’t the hero. The Dr. advocated for me.
You asked me what happened? Well I woke up and faced the truth and stopped telling myself what a great dad I had. The truth is that I never really had a dad. He didn’t even keep in touch with me after my parents got divorced. Barely a phone call and no answers to my letters. And the phone calls were all about you and (my other sister) anyway. (And there is a LOT more than just this truth). Who changed my diapers?? You say that as though that gives someone “rights” ~ I doubt that you know any of the truth about my childhood. (except his three favorite stories; the zoo and the monkey, the chocolate bar sales and the dr. story) You only know what Dad has told you. (and I can tell from your email that he has told you very little even about the last few years) Think about it.
Relationship takes two and the burden of it should never rest on just one person. Dad has reaped what he has sown. Don’t blame this on me.” Darlene
I never received any response to this email I sent my sister and Katie who also replied to her making it very clear that she knew all along what was going on (and more importantly Katie addressed her own issues with her grandfather which had nothing to do with this event), didn’t get a response either. I would guess that my sister was shocked to realize that Katie knew the truth all along but I would not be surprised to find out that my sister would only use that knowledge as “proof” that I had brainwashed and “poisoned my family” very efficiently.
Key Points: My sister says; “Katie; I think you should ask your mother why your grandfather hasn’t visited you, because it’s not what you think. You should specifically ask what happened on the most recent attempt when he called her and said he wanted to come for your graduation. I don’t think you got the message. And I think you’re old enough to be allowed to know what’s happening, perhaps it’s time you make your own decisions.”
My sister is SURE that Katie does not know anything about why my father didn’t come to her graduation. The fact that she thinks Katie “didn’t get the message” refers to the phone call where I told my father that I didn’t want him staying in our home. My sister assumes that Katie was not told about that phone call and that Katie is “old enough” to be told what is going on so that she can make her own decisions regarding having a relationship with my father. My sisters shows how she doesn’t even consider that this could be anything to do with our father doing anything wrong? My sister is very sure that I am the bad guy here. My father obviously left out all my REASONS for saying I didn’t want him to stay in our house. I was very clear in my communication with him in that phone call. My father left out any of the details that could cause him to be held accountable. My sister only has one side of the story but she is sure that she knows the whole story because that is how the dysfunctional system works. We don’t question everyone or even consider that there may be another side to the story but instead automatically believe the one who has the most power in the relationship.
Then my sister goes on to “prove” to Katie that I have always said my Dad is the greatest and that I can’t just change my mind now by telling her about a late night conversation that took place years ago when I was still living under the dysfunctional family RULES. Under those dysfunctional family rules I didn’t think that I had a right to change my mind when it came to things I had once said were “wonderful”.
And then my favorite paragraph of all; “Darlene, you don’t owe me anything. But if you are willing, please explain what happened and why you are poisoning your family against the man who stood up for you when you had a teacher who was bullying you at school. Who changed your diapers and your kids’ diapers. Who like every other human is not perfect but who loves his family as much as any person ever could.”
She says that I am poisoning my family against the man who stood up for me when I had a teacher who was bullying me… a huge lie of a story that I use frequently in this website because it is such a great example of how this whole dysfunctional family system thing goes. And then the diaper thing! (I changed her diapers too.. if she wants to live by those rules.) This is the best that she could come up with to prove that my father loved me? This example bursts with “obligation” and that I own him something, but what I see from her example is the proof or the “truth leak” that my father doesn’t love me because those are the only examples that she has that show my fathers love for me. She thinks those things prove he loves me and that he is a good father to me! Her definition of love is messed up. I don’t live by that definition of love and I feel sorry for her that she does.
I never told my sisters about my childhood because I thought it would be unfair TO THEM. I didn’t tell them the truth about my father because I lived in the false belief that it was BETTER for them if I went along with the lies just like for so long I believed it was better for me too. They believe that I am the problem and I never stuck up for myself to prove anything different. I kept all my fathers dirty secrets and now I am the bad guy… AGAIN, but I know it would not have mattered if I had not kept those secrets. I would have been the bad guy anyway.
I used to think that my 2 half sisters had a much different experience of my father then I had. I thought that he was better able to be a parent when they were born. I even told them that he was different with them because we had different mothers! I also thought and believed that I should have or could have been a better daughter so that he would have loved me. Today I don’t think any of that is true. My sister is a victim of this dysfunction just as I am; she prefers to live in the false comfort of the fog.
She says that my father loved me the best he could?? How the hell does she know that? The best he could according to who?
And I am so much happier now that I don’t live in that horrible fog anymore. They can have all that dysfunction but as for me I escaped it.
The cycle is obviously not going to end yet, in the rest of my family.
Please share your thoughts. Please remember that this is not about my sister but about the lies my passive abusive father has convinced her of. She is a victim of the whole thing too and I have no doubt she lives in a lovely thick fog storm. After all, she thinks the fog master is a wonderful father.
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time
The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing –