A lot on my mind

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
A lot on my mind
Sun, 09-14-2003 - 4:21pm
I don't know where to start, but I really need some clarity on this subject. My father has been married to my stepmother for over twenty years, I have known her my whole life. She is a lot younger then my father. Just recently she asked for a divorce from my Dad. My Dad threatened to kill himslef, he beat himself up, now he is drinking himself into oblivion everyday. I had to talk my own father out of killing himself, it was horrible, but he promised me he won't do it. His best friend had a heart attack when he found out and will probably not make it. My grandfather (my dad's father) died two weeks ago. My brother is watching my dad on the weekend, and other friends are staying with him. It's only been a week, and now my Dad is asking women out on dates.

My sister just laughed when she found out what happened. Noone is really surprised my stepmother left, we were all surprised that it wasn't sooner, but that's not the point. This whole thing really really scares me, I am scared for my father, I do not like my sister's reaction, I don't approve of a lot of stuff my father has done. In fact I do not like him at all as a person, and I'd rather not visit him. He is extremely selfish, and did not help raise any of his kids. I would rather just be neutral in this whole situation, call my Dad once a week to find out what's going on, talk to his friends, etc. My sister and my mom thinks that I am "weak" because of this. I really don't want to do more than this, I am not comfortable with helping out anymore.

This whole thing is just really really sad, I am reminded that I never really had a father to begin with, that I had to behave as an adult at a very early age because he is so child-like. He is really really weak.

I have had to be "strong" my whole life, try to be there for everyone, and not totally disappoint my father. This makes me feel lonely. The thing is, my father totally disappointed me, and the rest of his children. As you can tell I am proccupied. I realize I think way too much, and I should be content that I am doing the right thing, but I am not. I am really scared.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Sun, 09-14-2003 - 11:45pm
Dear Danielle, I have been in your shoes (sort of) and know exactly what you are feeling. My father was never really there for me, either, and was married to my abusive step-mom for 36 yrs. It was very, very hard for me to stay in contact with my father - for one, his wife wouldn't allow him any contact with his kids without her supervision (and I wanted no contact with her whatsoever, so had to avoid my father, too); and two, I had little respect for my father because he never stepped in to protect us kids from her abuse when we were little.

I considered my father to be very weak, and even child-like in his emotional development. He was not selfish, rather the opposite, but child-like in that he would not stand up for his own rights or those of his children. I also did not approve of his choices: staying married to my SM when she brought her sleep-over boyfriend to LIVE in our house, selling out his share of the farm to put everything solely in her name, and more. He was fortunate not to have fallen victim to alcohol, given that he had every opportunity and motive to do so.

In the end, he'd had all he could take - literally. When he fell gravely ill and finally *finally* refused to go "home" to her, my sister and I were able to rescue him from this horrible woman. He lived only six months longer, but those were the sweetest six months I'd ever had with my Dad. He died peacefully in his sleep on Christmas Eve, surrounded by all FIVE of his children, their spouses, and many grandchildren. Surrounded by peace and love.

What I came to realize is that, no matter what shortcomings my father had throughout his life, he truly did the best *he knew HOW* to be a good father to his children and a good husband to his wife. The BEST HE KNEW HOW. That's all any of us can really do - we all come into parenthood, or sisterhood, or marriage, with ideas of how to be be the best parent, sister, spouse, whatever - and that's all we can do. We can never be perfect, nor will we ever meet up to the expectations of others.

My father believed he was doing the right thing in letting his wife discipline his children in the way she chose to do so, and as a *good* husband, he stood by her and supported her choices even if he did not agree with them.

What I'm getting at for you is that maybe it would help you to understand and accept your father's situation better if you looked at it from this viewpoint. No, he was NOT a very good father or role model for you, but given his life circumstances, maybe he made the only choices he knew how at any given time. This doesn't excuse his behavior or choices, but might help you to forgive at least some of them.

So now you are faced with a situation (like I was in June, 2002 when my father fell ill), in which your family wants you to be a supportive and loving daughter in spite of your disappointment with your father. That's very hard to do - been there, done that.

Only you can decide what is the right thing to do. If being more helpful with your father is in some way damaging to your sanity or well-being, then by all means, DON'T. But if you can find a way to let the past go, and understand your father's anguish at this time in his life, then you might find some of the resolution with him that you've been seeking. Try to consider how you would feel if he was successful with suicide - would you *blame* yourself for not being there to stop him again? Of course, you should NOT - his choices are HIS choices and not your responsibility by any means; but are you ready to accept that reality right now?

All I'm saying is to consider the options, consequences on your own well-being, and make the best decision you can. When I was going through the nightmare with my father last year, I found my best support and advice not from my own family, but from my dear fiance - who was able to look at the situation with my step-mother from an outsider's point-of-view, and not be affected by the emotions involved. He helped me to set things straight, to do the *right* thing by my father and for myself, and shut the door on my SM forever.

I was scared, too. Scared to death that my SM would find my father and complete her promise to kill him (literally), scared that my father would weaken and want to go "home" to her, scared that my Dad would die before rediscovering the strength and love he had deep down inside, and most of all, scared that he would die before I could get to know him again and feel the love for him that I should have had all along.

I see your Dad's wanting to date other women as either a very good thing and a sign that he's beginning to deal with the grief; or the worst, as a death-wish - to go for everything that he can no matter the consequences. Which is it, do you think? Either way, it is his choice. You can advise him, encourage him, and love him, but you can't ever blame yourself for his actions.

In the end, you know you have to look out for yourself and your family (your spouse and kids) above all others. Even your Dad. Sounds like it's been ingrained into you from a very young age to be "strong" for your father, and he's expecting that same obedience from you now. OK, so be strong. Strong for YOURSELF first, and if anything's left over, be strong for your Dad as he deals with this difficult time in his life. My DH (the fiance I spoke of earlier) often says, "You can't help others if you can't help yourself," and I believe that to be so true. If you give all your strength to help others, then what's there to support you?

Hope I've helped. At least to let you know you are not alone.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Wed, 09-17-2003 - 9:24pm
I'm sorry about all that. I never had a REAL Dad either. I know what its like.

I think your Dad will manage just fine on his own, though, without this younger woman. It is hard for a lot of people to be alone. I think its normal to not want to be alone, to want to have a mate in life. So his bad feelings are not really "abnormal".

Your sister and mom think you are "weak", well that is just their own negative interpretation.

I, too, don't like to visit my Dad. I feel that I do it, because I care about him even though he wasn't the best Dad there was. I mean, there are other things I would rather do than visit him, but its bearable on occasion.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
Fri, 09-19-2003 - 3:57pm
I got the feeling that you feel sorry for my father, so I will give you some more background. A lot of people are fed up with his "woe is me, my life is so horrible, everyone has been so horrible to me" stories. My father has been saying this crap ever since I can remember. My first memories of him were sitting outside with beer and cigarettes telling me how horrible his life is. He is still doing this today. All he has ever done in his life is sit outside and feel sorry for himself (just with beer now, he did give up cigarettes). He has never done anything to improve any relationships in his life, he never even tried to have a relationship with any of his six kids. I don't know why my brother is taking care of him, my brother is an exceptional person I suppose. If six kids and two ex-wives and soon to be three do not want to have a relationship with him, doesn't this say something?

He never met one of his kids until she was five years old, he doesn't remember any of our birthdays, he let four of his children get beat up by their stepfather until they were bloody. He doesn't know the names of all of his grandkids. The list goes on and on.

My father never once asked about my grades in school, he never once asked whether or not we had enough clothes, shoes, or beds to sleep on (we didn't at times). He was building a brand new house, buying brand new cars, putting in a $35,000 pool in at the time. He did threaten to take my mom back to court to get back the ($350) a month in child support. My mom was making about $7/hour, and we live in the Bay Area,CA. We qualified for welfare, but she never took it.

So, do you really think he is "normal"?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
Sat, 11-01-2003 - 10:29pm
My father's situation is getting worse. He is drinking heavily, smoking, taking a large amount of medication (legal and maybe not legal). He drives around at night looking for his ex-wife, walks outside in his underwear screaming in agony, he threatened suicide again. He was put in a county medical facility for that, but talked his way out the same night, and is continuing his escapades. His neighbor is going to call the police the next time he is seen drinking and driving, and his ex-wife got a restraining order on him. This is the only way we can have him admitted to the county medical facility. Why on earth do we have to wait until he attempts to hurt somebody else before we can get him help? Isn't the drinking, smoking, medication, hallucinations, and repeated suicide threats enough to have him on observation for a full day? I guess it's not.

I really don't know how the county medical facility let him go.

I really hope he gets help. He lies to me when I talk to him. The only way I discovered any of this was through someone close by who has been watching his behaviour on a daily basis.

Avatar for leslie2353
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 11-03-2003 - 7:44pm
Medications turn anyone in a cuckoo stage. Maybe he doesn't even know what he's doing to himself. Another reason why I won't take medications because of side effects. Then if you don't take them anymore, you get relapse (?) and that's just as bad as when you were taking them. His doctor who prescribed those medications to him, should know the symptoms (if those were) before he end up KILLING SOMEONE. This sounds like my neighbor.

He went to jail because he won't let go of his ex-wife. She sent him there for spousal abuse. I guess that's not the same thing as drinking, smoking and taking medications. Does he live alone?