Hi, I’m a grown-ass woman with daddy issues. All of my life he’s put me down. He literally never says anything kind to me or even asks about my interests. I felt so badly being around him that a few years ago I tried to separate from him totally. He is disabled and practically an invalid, but he had his wife (2nd marriage) to take care of him. Then a couple of years ago, his wife died suddenly. I am an only child and I stepped back into his life out of compassion and obligation. He has the money to hire full time caretakers to meet his basic needs, but since I am his only family, I thought I would feel guilty for not having any kind of relationship with him. And I also thought that other people would see me as a bad person for not at least visiting him. I come from a community of people that take care of their elderly parents right down to changing diapers if need be.
So I established some boundaries and I thought things were safe for a while. I visit him once a week, and my husband comes with me. My dad thinks my husband is wonderful (and has said so many times, but never, ever praises me for even the smallest thing), and my husband is good at filling the void in conversation and keeping the conversation on “safe” topics (my dad is very opinionated and defensive). But even with those boundaries in place, my dad still manages to get his digs in. I will think we’re in a “safe” zone and out of nowhere he’ll just put me down.
I know what he is saying isn’t true. My dad doesn’t really “know” me because he hasn’t shown interest and I don’t open up for fear of giving him more ammunition. He doesn’t know that I started a business 5 years ago. He would call what I do (coaching) a load of crap. He doesn’t even know that I work so he calls me a lazy for being a stay-at-home-mom who has older kids in school. He doesn’t know I’m a certified personal trainer and exercise regularly, so he puts me down for not being athletic. He still digs into all the insecurities I had as a kid. He says I’m not pretty and I don’t have friends (totally NOT true). I know the mean things he says aren’t true, BUT it bothers me that he would say them at all. My husband and friends say that he is just jealous and/or insecure.
I don’t really care WHY he says the things he does, he’s got all kinds of psychological issues that drive his insecurity, but I don’t know what to do with someone that I’m trying to be kind to (by giving my time when I really don’t want to be there), who purposefully tries to make me feel bad. I was reading an article about childhood emotional and verbal abuse recently and that’s exactly what he did to me, and is still doing to me. He withholds praise and puts me down so “I won’t get too full of myself”.
I’m afraid if I confront him about what he’s doing, that he will get defensive (in his mind he’s the greatest parent ever) and also that he will know that he’s gotten to me and will double down on the insults. Right now I don’t acknowledge them at all when we’re visiting but stew about them later.
Do you have any suggestions for how to handle him, and how to think about this differently so it doesn’t hurt? Honestly, I can’t wait for him to finally die. I fantasize about spitting on his corpse and poking him with sharp things when he’s in his casket. I fantasize about getting up at his funeral and telling everyone that I really despised him and what he did to me. I know this isn’t healthy, but it’s the only outlet I have right now (so maybe it IS healthier than taking it out on myself).