’tis the damn season

Christmas was unexpectedly an absolute shit show. I was feeling completely okay about it this year, it being low-key and all, and somehow it descended into a total nightmare and brought up so much painful stuff for Nina and I. I ended up feeling so physically and mentally unwell on Boxing Day I could barely move off the sofa all day and have been in regular contact with R, who I’ve seen on and off for acupuncture since I was 21 and who has supported me through some of my darkest times, sending crazy texts full of shame and despair. He has been a lifeline and yet also not enough. I hadn’t realised till now that seeing K either side of Christmas has really helped me get through the last 5 Christmases. It’s been really hard not having a session to hold out for because it means there’s no end point where I can put down some of this shit.

My dad is just fucking awful – rigid, cold, cruel, abusive, sadistic, narcissistic. And I am flooded with shame and guilt when I think that about him. I wish I could just hate him. I wish I hadn’t been conditioned to automatically turn myself bad when I think and feel negative things about him, because as an infant and toddler I had to do that in order to preserve the attachment and survive. I’ve spent so much time in therapy unpicking the legacy of my relationship with my mum, and yet my dad is also so incredibly damaging and hurtful and so responsible for how I am, how I struggle, how I feel about myself and others. It breaks my heart that he was the safe one, the stable one, the one I turned to, and yet he broke me too. He isn’t safe at all. He never has been.

He is also horrible to Nina. I know I’ve written about this before but this year his behaviour has become so obviously unacceptable to both of us. He shames and belittles and criticises her constantly. He calls her stupid and lazy and tells her she won’t get a job and will end up homeless if she carries on how she is. He swore at her in TK Maxx after inviting her to go Christmas shopping with him and she spent the whole time she was with him a couple of weekends ago texting me to tell me how mean he was being. I hate how he speaks to her, how he mocks her and invalidates her. She has a huge allergic reaction every time she is at his house, which is ostensibly caused by the huge amounts of dust in his house (he cleans once a year at most) but is really her body just screaming “NO, this place is not good for me!”

When we got home on Christmas Day she was distraught, saying she thinks he hates her and that he doesn’t care about her at all. For Christmas he got her a tin of spaghetti hoops, an avocado, a bag of cheese puffs, some scissors and a set of coathangers. What.the.fuck.??? She is nearly 14 and there are a million things she would have liked. And it’s not even really about the gifts, because if she was met emotionally by him and we had a fun, warm time full of love and care when we were with him she wouldn’t care – it would just be an eccentric set of gifts from him. As things are though, the “gifts” symbolise how shut off and fucked up he is, and how he is totally unable to relate to anyone. They weren’t joke presents. He thought she would like them and she had to swallow her disappointment and pretend to be pleased.

I felt absolutely wrecked when we got home. Smashed into tiny pieces inside and drowning in shame. There is no love there, no warmth or joy or even niceness. It is flat and cold and distant. Any humour is mockery. And he just shows off and competes over everything. It is like being with a 6 year old boy. As Nina said, he didn’t really do anything wrong that day, but he is just not a nice person and he doesn’t know how to be with people, how to care, how to love. We spent 4 hours when we got home talking about him and how awful he is and how shit our family are and I let Nina cry and rage about it, but what a fucked up Christmas. I’d rather have been just the two of us a bit bored then have spent time with someone who makes us both feel so shit and let down and guilty.

It kills me to write bad things about him. We basically have no family without him, apart from my half sister who we are not really close to although we have chatted more this year than in previous years, but is no family better than this? If this was someone else in her life, her dad or my partner, who was nice and funny 10% of the time but abusive and cruel the rest of the time, people would be horrified that she still saw them when they were clearly wrecking her self-esteem and leaving her feeling worthless.

The triggers of Christmas will recede, but the need for action over this will not and so I am left with a sickening dilemma. Do I pull back further and leave myself unsupported and Nina with even less family? How do I pull back?I don’t get anything good from him but he does help practically sometimes, making food and helping when things at home break. But the way he complains and belittles me when he helps out, I just want to be free of needing his help. It’s hard though, as I can’t afford to pay for help with odd jobs and things. And I am still so scared of him that I never stand up to him. I am genuinely terrified of confronting him, disappointing him, enraging him, hurting him. It is clear I would rather Nina get lectured and sworn at and belittled than call him out on his behaviour and that is not something I am proud of. I am sure he is incapable of changing because he doesn’t act intentionally, he is just repeating patterns and behaviours he grew up with, but how do I pull away without telling him what the problem is?

I only know I can’t keep going like this. I hate that he thinks he is perfect and that everything mentally and physically wrong with me is caused by my mum. He kept coming up in therapy at the start of lockdown but I couldn’t go there, not properly there, with stupid remote therapy, so that trauma work is on hold till K and I can meet, which might not be till autumn. I need her to help me find a path through this that isn’t sacrificing mine and Nina’s well-being. She has never felt so far away. I feel so alone with this and it is even worse having had 5 Christmases of holding out for December 28th or 29th when I could take all the muddle to K that I am now on my own with it again. I talked to the friend I’m in a bubble with about it yesterday afternoon and she was lovely but she is not K and I couldn’t show just how fucked up this leaves me.

It is December 28th and I am done in despite having had 10 days off work. I think I’m coming down with a cold and I just need a break. A proper break. I have felt suicidal and anxious and in a constant state of dread since we got home on Christmas Day. 5 hours with my dad did this to me. I don’t want this anymore. And I can’t see a way out.

21 thoughts on “’tis the damn season”

  1. I felt similar this Christmas, although in my case it is another situation. Still my father is also like a little child and sometimes I am that as well, it seems. Or it is just how I feel because of what was.
    This year I worked through most of my past on my own and also other things which broke me. Sometimes it was better than other days. Two years ago I didn’t even know anymore who I was or whether I was even surviving the next year. Always waiting for the next year to be the last. This year for the first time since my early childhood I felt good about being alive. At least sometimes, although I am already scared again, just thinking about my birthday next year, wishing I was far a way again. Now I found back to myself, a still hurt and often instable self, but with hope again and dreams about better days, while I wasn’t able to dream before or only reliving traumatic past events. It is sad to hear that your holidays also didn’t went as you might have wished or hoped. My thoughts are with you and your daughter. I wish for you that things will get better soon and you won’t feel or be alone. 💜💓

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  2. What a horrible time for both you and Nina, and it must feel like you’re between the rock and a hard place with your dad. Do you think you’ll get in touch with K at all?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks lovely. It’s so tough as a solo parent with such limited family to not *need* him for things, but at the same time I hate having to ask for his help or letting Nina spend time with him… No, I won’t contact K until the break is over in March or she resumes in-person therapy… Hope you’re okay! xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sorry I even asked they, it was insensitive of me to suggest it. I’d momentarily forgotten your very brave decision to not go there and how you tried recently but it didn’t pan out as you’d first hoped. It all came back to me when I saw other people’s’ comments and remembered. I’m really sorry you’re bearing this alone right now, I have so much deep respect for single parents. You work doubly hard at it ♥️

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      2. Please don’t apologise, it was a totally valid question to pose. I just know I can’t go back to remote therapy so even if it helped for a while I’d end up in the same situation. I’ve been working with an amazing woman for TRE and she asked me to get a GP letter saying I need to continue in-person work even if we end up in lockdown/tier 4 where I am, so that’s a good source of support xx

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  3. So sorry love. It’s hard enough to have one damaging person, but when both parents are the shits it’s the absolute worst. I feel so muc like you…my father was a sadist as well….

    I’m sorry Christmas was so hard for both of you. Here’s hoping the rest of your holidays go more smoothly….xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Yeah, it’s super tough, isn’t it? I find it so hard to accept how bad my dad is because then there is no one… I hope you’ve been ok and managed to have as good a Christmas as possible with C x

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  4. I’m sorry you are feeling so down. I’m feeling lonely myself and Christmas for some reason just brings up all my stuff, year after year, and its easy for everything to spiral.

    I have thoughts about the father situation, but not sure if this is helpful or not. Anyway. I have a lot of difficult people in my life too, though its different as well. And I used to be quite difficult myself but am hoping that I’m now less so, after all this therapy. I never meant to cause harm but was overly honest and didn’t realize how I was hurting people. Anyhow. I would have appreciated anyone telling me when I said something hurtful, though people don’t do that of course.

    Your father sounds quite clueless and isolated, and as you are saying, he’s just repeating odd and hurtful patterns which he learned. I wonder if it would be possible to tell him when he makes a hurtful remark. You would have to be firmly in your adult, which is hard with family. But sometimes telling someone when they say something hurtful or are acting inappropriately, if that can be done without shaming, helps the person to pull back. For the gifts – could you casually let him know that your daughter would like a box of chocolates next year for example? Could be he has no clue how to buy a present? When people don’t know stuff, but on some level do want to be there as family, you have to spell stuff out. In my own experience anyway.

    It is hard though. My ex used to give me odd grocery items for Xmas, and he meant well, as these were things he liked (e.g., a cheap curry paste he’d found). I have almost no cupboard space and like quality food, so after a few years I told him no groceries as presents and that problem did stop.

    I guess only you can know in your situation though. It sounds a bit black and white, the way you are describing it – either a huge confrontation or a complete cut-off. But maybe it is so, if he gets abusive or outraged at any feedback. I just know with people who are odd, I have had luck with stating things simply that I need them to do differently. Not global – e.g., be nice, but specific, e.g., that statement hurts my daughter’s feelings.

    I’d also definitely draw a boundary around time spent with him, by you or your daughter. Say one hour, max?

    Hoping you start to feel better as the year turns.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts and insights. I agree, I don’t think it is a matter of cut off completely/leave things as they are (though the former is appealing at times) but it is hard to pull back to protect Nina because that would mean she didn’t spend time alone with him, which she currently does. Because he is OCPD and totally lacking in self-awareness I don’t think he will change even if I talk to him. I’ve tried a few times (e.g. asking him to stop talking to Nina about calories and weight (he is obsessive!) because it’s damaging for her and telling him not to have a go at her about Maths, but he doesn’t change because he cannot see he has a problem… So I think talking to him would likely trigger me enormously and not make any difference. I think reducing ‘s time with him is the best thing for now, and then maybe giving it more thought when I’m back in therapy next year x

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  5. CB, I’m so sorry to read this for both you and Nina but I am glad you reached out here on WP. It’s that old saying “you can choose your friends but not your family”.

    I’m quite sure you won’t be reaching out to K whilst the pandemic is still with us but know there are people here who are willing to listen it might be virtual but I for one care and you have my email if that would help.

    Sending much love and light x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your support little fairy. I won’t reach out to K, you’re right so it is good to know this space is here. I hope your festive season has been as okay as possible this year xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh love. This sounds bloody awful. I am so sorry to hear you both had such a rotten time. Poor N. Honestly cannot believe your dad would think those are ‘gifts’. But you’re right, gifts are unimportant if there’s love and care and warmth. It’s awful that N is being treated badly by your dad. I’m guessing it’s a big reminder of your own childhood. Neither of you deserve this. It’s so hard knowing what to do. I understand the practical support you receive from dad. Is it possible to reduce contact further without totally cutting off? Sometimes no family is better than an abusive one. And you and N are family just the pair of you. I’m sorry you haven’t had K to help this year and understand what a lifeline it feels having a session to head towards. This time of year is hard enough without extra misery heaped on. Try and be gentle with yourselves. Maybe take a drive to the beach again. The real positive I see is that you and N have been able to talk and cry it out TOGETHER. Sending hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks RB. It is really so hard because of the practical support – he doesn’t do that much now, but enough that it would be expensive without (fixing bike, mending loo, etc.) and it is hard thinking of never having a break from N if she doesn’t spend the night there anymore. I think to reduce contact between them for now and think about it more when the winter is over as it’s always a hard time anyway. And you’re right – at least N can tell me and cry about it as I didn’t have that. I hope you’re okay and sending hugs to you too x

      Liked by 2 people

  7. your father is NO FATHER .how nasty how horrible .it helps a great deal too have a good cry Runny Snotty Nose .i was abused as a child .peopled never see the every day effects ..my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com twitter.supersnopper MARK

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  8. How bloody awful CB! The gifts? Seriously? What was he thinking! And how awful that you have to deal with the barrage of nasty comments! I am sending big hugs! Hoping you’ll be ok, when do you see K again? xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks Carol Anne. I’m on a therapy break till at least March as I couldn’t cope with online therapy, so I won’t be seeing K anytime soon. I have other support though. I hope you’re okay xx

    Liked by 1 person

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