3 Years in the Making

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post.  However, considering I am not finding many other outlets helpful, except for a visit to my therapist for the first time in a couple of months, I am coming back here to air some of what has been going on in my head.

So here is what’s going on, in a short and sweet manner…One that, if there is someone reading this, will allow you to decide if you feel like reading further.  In October of 2012, I officially broke off all contact with my father due to many years of abuse (in every sense of the word).  It is now 3 years later.  I have not had any contact with him, and I have not seen him.  No birthday cards, no Christmas cards, no attempts from him to fix the relationship.  Nothing.  He didn’t even seem to care.  The only clues that I had that maybe he cared were his sudden habit of drinking – when he never used to – and being even more belligerent to his staff at work.

3 years later.  On Friday of this week, I will be flying down to visit him.  At his request, his suggestion.  I said OK.

How does this happen, you ask?  That is a damned good question.  It’s happened so quickly that even I have a hard time keeping up.

To make another long story short, I sent him an email a couple of weeks ago with some unsolicited advice about a business he was helping his brother start in the town where I live (he lives 1,000 miles away).  His brother knows nothing about this town, but decided he likes it because his daughter, my cousin, is now in her first year of college year.  I sent the email to my father with the advice more as an “I told you so” if the business failed, because I was intentionally shut out of all prior planning on it.

My father was apparently very impressed by my input, and suddenly all contact with him was restored.  And part of me is pleased that he likes me again.  That he is proud of me….That I am doing things that make him proud that I’m his daughter.

And a whole huge part of me is disgusted at that.  HOW could I be proud that this man – who did all of those things – is proud of me?  HOW could I possibly WANT to be in contact with him again?  WHY do I want to please him?  Or, more accurately, why do other parts of me want to please him?

And then there’s an even worse part.  One that has tortured me for years, but has turned the heat up several hundred degrees.  What if I am able to be pleased, because those parts know that nothing happened?  What if nothing really happened at all…What have these last 6 years of therapy been about?  What about the last 3 years of no contact with my father?  Did he deserve it?

Rationality kicks in for a quick moment.  How often I dissociate.  The extreme fear I feel.  But…what if the fear is only of being wrong, and not of him?

And then I question the question.

And I panic, because through it all, there is a small part of me – a young part – that is curled in a corner, terrified, asking me why we have to see him again.  He didn’t change over the 23 years we had contact with him…What makes us think he would have changed over the last 3 when we didn’t?

Nothing.  Logic and emotion tell me that there is absolutely no reason to believe he has changed.  And so, despite all of the disagreement about who he is, what may have happened…Or what may not have happened…There is one thing we agree on:

When is the monster in him going to come out? When am I going to do the wrong thing or say something that will bruise his fragile ego? Am I – are we – strong enough to withstand the force of whatever (figurative) blow we may take?

My therapist – J – is not so sure.  Neither am I.  It has been many years, but the last time I visited him, I dissociated the entire time.  I was in a dream state.  the. entire. time.  We talked about the possibility of just not going.  I told her I already agreed to it, because I felt obligated since he is helping me get out of some financial trouble that I am in at the moment, and I do not want him to think I am using him for his money.  Is that bad?  J says it’s not. I’m not so sure.  For years I’ve been so determined to get out of this hole on my own, but it would be so nice to not constantly be in the red.

So, I told J that I was afraid of offending him by not going.  Or embarrassing him in front of his employees if I suddenly don’t go when I said I would.  J pointed out that I was taking care of his feelings.  That I had automatically – without even realizing it – fallen right back into the cycle of taking care of his needs.  She called it icky.  And it is.  It makes my skin crawl.

I feel like a failure for letting that happen and not even noticing it.  J warned me that it may happen again when I’m down there, and I may not realize it until I’m very far into it.  Which begs the question.  WHY AM I GOING?

I feel guilty.  And he already purchased the airline tickets.  And…not going is almost assuring that the monster will come out, while going may keep it at bay.

Then I asked J, how do I know the line between taking care of myself and being fair to him?  To phrase it another way…If I have made all of this up and none of it actually happened (except the fact that he’s a raging narcissist…I know that is true), how do I give him a chance to be a father, within limits, while still taking care of myself?

I’m already numbing myself out completely.  I have a constant compulsion to completely break down, but I can’t seem to let myself.  Even though I’m still safe.  I asked J if going would set myself back many months.  She said she didn’t know, but that she once had a patient who visited his family of origin for a period of time and it was a major setback for him.

I don’t know what I’m doing.  But I do know that I feel more alone that I have in quite a long time.  Ironic considering all of the parts that are chiming in lately.  Let the games begin.

 

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3 thoughts on “3 Years in the Making

  1. ((Kashley)) It’s good to hear from you, I often wonder how you are doing. OK, first, you did not make this up. I remember suspecting the abuse, two years before you recovered memories. There are too many markers in your feelings, behaviors and reactions for me not to believe that something happened. Even if you are not remembering it correctly down to every last detail, I have no doubt you were abused by your father. I also understand how insidious those doubts can be from the inside, so I want to be clear that from the outside this in NO way seems like a fabrication.

    As for the shame about wanting his love and approval? I also understand that. If it were someone we were not related to, we would have only hostile feelings. But I had to come to terms with the fact that as much as I do not want my mother and father to be important to me, there is no way around it. Our relationship with our parents is one of the most profound relationships we have, it literally shapes our brains and deeply affects the person we are. We are biologically driven (by milleniums of development) to form a bond and a relationship with our parents. Part of the reason abuse by a parent is SO terrible is because of that fact. We are driven to stay with them for our survival, no matter what kind of parent they are. So of course his love and approval feels important.

    As for going. I get the whole feeling guilty and not wanting to use him for his money BUT he’s your father and care is supposed to flow from him to you and without obligation on your part to pay it back. I would also argue that you would possibly not be struggling financially if not for the cost and toll of healing on your life. Healing from something he did to you. I don’t have any problem with him paying, inadequate a restitution as that may be.

    I am concerned about you going. I can hear and see so many signs of it being about his feelings, and how he’ll behave and what he’ll think and how will he look in front of other people… another terrible effect of abuse is that our fathers never allowed us to have any boundaries, they overran them, overstimulated us and then dumped us back on our own, The relationship was programmed during a very sensitive developmental stage to be all about their needs. We weren’t allowed to have any. So we, and our very legitimate needs, can so easily get lost. What about your feelings? What about your well-being? You are not responsible in any way for your father. If he is hurt, or angry or embarrassed, those are his feelings and his problem. He will survive having those feelings. He has shown no concern for you the last three years, but that hope that this time it will be different is SO strong and so hard to kill. I think this may be a circumstance where your T’s opinion should weigh heavily. She is more objective and more able to assess in this situation than you are.

    I have a very close friend who underwent horrific abuse at the hands of her parents. She is still in touch with them, but almost every time she sees them it is followed by a suicide attempt or at a minimum, deep suicidal ideation. As important as the relationship can feel, it is not worth your life. Your first duty, as is your father’s even though he fails miserably at it, is to your well-being. It’s really ok to put yourself first. My apologies if this was too heavy handed but I am also concerned. But know that I am supportive of whatever decision you make, these are difficult waters to navigate and whatever you decide to do is ok. Please take good care.

    xx AG

    1. Oh, AG, how long it has been! I hope you have been well.

      Thank you, as always, for your valuable input. No, it was not too heavy handed. My T asked if she could give her opinion, too, because she felt strongly enough that she wanted to tell me not to go. She thinks that I don’t quite have the mental/emotional strength to deal with a visit like this without having major dissociative episodes. Even though we’d had a 2 month break between sessions, I suppose she was able to develop her opinion based on how I immediately made all decisions based on his feelings.

      What’s so…almost delusional about this is that he has seemingly turned on that charismatic charm that narcissists are known for. And he’s using it to manipulate me… And I KNOW it, and I’m STILL going along with it! I guess in the hopes that it’s not just part of his skill set to woo people over to his side so they can do his bidding…But that it’s because he genuinely means it. And the hope that he genuinely means it, of course, generates a million more reactions.

      Why am I going down there…. knowing that I very likely will not come out of this unscathed? What kind of desire is this? Curiosity? Attention-seeking? Confirmation of my past? In a twisted way, I do think that some part of me hopes I’ll have those “classic” reactions to him and the environment to almost re-awaken the part of me that believes. This is very dysfunctional, indeed.

      And then there’s the flip side. That I go and I’m absolutely fine. I think that would almost be worse, in a way. I’d question even more. Your words of confirmation help, AG…They really do. More than I can even say, actually. So thank you. And I am going to hold onto them in those moments where my mind is tormenting me, punishing me, for ever having believed such atrocities in the first place. I will hold on to what you have said.

      T minus 3 days.

  2. Kashley, I was so glad to see a post from you, BUT I’m now wondering how you are doing and if you did indeed go to see your father. I understand your questioning of memories and if they were made up in your mind. I was talking yesterday about those same doubts I have about my “memories”. I am confused and can’t comprehend my reactions, primarily physical, when recalling the memories. Anyway, I just wanted you to know I understand the struggle, but more importantly, I hope you are okay. You’re such a brave person!!!
    Lisa

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