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Old 03-21-2007, 05:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cutting Family Completely Out of Your Life?

My dad is the out of control addict in my life. He has been evil, manipulating, drugging, violent and verbally abusive for the majority of my life. Sometimes I think the violence ceased only because he is too sick and frail now to continue it. In addition to the substance abuse problems he has Narcicisstic Personality Disorder and many traits of other personality disorder types. He did horrible unbelieveable things to harm us throughout my childhood.

Anyway, I am also an addict who spent many years in recovery before a relapse. I have been on medication assisted treatment for a while now but I am close to being finished..in fact April 1 will be my new clean date. I am married to a recovering alcoholic 16 years sober. There is a little history for you.

But the real issue here is that any interaction with my dad pushes my buttons, makes me feel sick and empty as well as angry, frustrated and manipulated. On the deepest level of my being I want nothing at all to do with him. Nothing. But being an only child of a father with severe health problems as well as substance abuse and mental illness - morally I have not been able to completely sever the relationship. Maybe I get some sick satisfaction out of helping him that I am not even aware of. I know that if I don't pick up groceries or run errands for him I have alot of guilt about it. But mostly I refuse to deal with him when I can avoid it.

For instance, I try to limit things I have to do to help him to once a month. I don't call him or have any contact otherwise if I can avoid it. But without fail, he calls and if I don't answer he leaves mean, accusing, manipulative messages on my machine -or- has the nerve to call my 16 year old son and pump him for information about my family, life, things I say, etc... It infuriates me...but listening to the messages also hurts and somehow adds to my feelings of guilt. For instance, this week he called and said in the message "he just wanted to let us know that he is still alive if anyone cares and he would like to see his grand children". The next step is he will call me at work where I really can't avoid the phone and lay a guilt trip on me about seeing his grandkids or whatever else he can pull out of his bag of tricks.

He lies to me all the time. Recently, trying to tell me he was out of his DOC and can't live without it and I need to help him get an appt with MY family doctor to get his medication. He is not out - if he were out of Xanax after a 12 year 4-6mg per day dose he would likely be very sick or worse. He does things to hurt others. He recently obtained a credit card in my mothers name. They have been divorced for 11 years!! He is emotionally abusive and manipulative. He manipulates my 16 year old son into feeling sorry for him and tries to turn him against me. I hate it. But I feel powerless to change it. I have tried to limit my contact and set boundaries I can live with but they are always tested and pushed.

I am sorry this is such a book. I didn't mean to post so much. But it is a serious and painful issue for me. I have such a hard time dealing with him and the feelings I have when dealing with him. It often feels unmanageable. I guess I wanted to see if anyone else has been in a similar family situation and how you dealt with it? Is there really anyone who has been able to cut such a close family member out of their lives completely and how did you deal with the tangle of feelings and fear that brings about?
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Old 03-21-2007, 06:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have a slightly similar situation with a few people in my life, and what my husband and I have decided to do is just keep contact as minimal as possible. If there is a pleasant exchange we will 'reward' that will some phone calls or another visit. If the behavior is bad... a consequence occurs, which is usually no contact for what ever length of time we feel is needed.
I haven't completely cut off anyone... but I have stopped the emotional drain as much as I feel I can.
I hope that helps you... I think only you can decide how extreme or how lax to be on this. He can only do what you allow him to do to you and your son.
I'm wondering if you ever attend meetings for Adult Children? I think it would help to see how others handle this.
You are worth taking care of...and your son is being affected. That would be my breaking point and it was a few times when I saw my kids being affected by somebody's abusive behavior.
I'm sure that others will drop by with more ideas on this.
I wish you well.

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Old 03-21-2007, 06:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hey Beginagain,
I have a really hard time keeping balance in my life when I spend time around my toxic parents.
I have such a hard time dealing with him and the feelings I have when dealing with him. It often feels unmanageable
Yep. Me too. I have recently been mentally absent from alot and its because my whole life and every emotion becomes exagerated and unmanageable when I spend too much time around them. I lose myself completely.

I can totally relate, what works for me is boundries and spenfing time with them or talking to them on my terms.
The sign of intelligent people is their ability to control emotions
by the application of reason.

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Old 03-22-2007, 06:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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When I originally cut my brother out of my life, I viewed the decision as permanent. Although in some respects it was a very healthy choice for me, there was also a nagging..."you might regret this one day" message floating around in my head. That bothered me. But maybe that was me just holding out hope for a relationship I wanted, but didn't have with him. Kind of like seeing the potential vs. how it really is!

As I journeyed through my recovery, I opted to view it as, he is out of my life for now. It leaves the door open in my mind that perhaps one day we'll have a meeting of the minds and be able to get beyond past hurts.

I doubt that will happen, but I feel better knowing that I'm open to the possibility. I can always make it a permanent decision at a later date if I need to do so.
What I have shared in this or any post are my opinions, based on my perception and experiences.
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Darling, change your and your son's phone numbers. Just because your father is "old and feeble" that apparently hasn't affected his ability to be cruel, manipulative and abusive (he is abusing your boy by trying to get your son involved in matters best left to adults).

For my safety and sanity, I also had to spend some time away from my family. I didn't show up for Easter last year, which was practically scandalous!! I needed time to become stronger, so that I could deal with them.

Because I have two small girls who love their family and have very close connections with them, I don't feel right keeping the girls away from them. And, now that I've become a little stronger, I can let my family's "jab"s just bounce off me. I think they may be backing off, because I don't react the way I used to, thus taking away their satisfaction.

I think it would be good for you and maybe also your son to go to an ACOA meeting, or maybe Al-anon, if those are available. You are worthy of living life without having be walk on eggshells every time the phone rings. The constant anticipation of "the next time" is stressful, and is probably draining your energy, even if you don't notice it.

Give yourself some time away. The old man will find a nurse, doctor, or someone else to abuse in the meantime.

No Storm Can Shake my innermost calm
while to that rock I'm clinging...
Since Love is Lord o'er Heaven and Earth,
How can I keep from Singing?

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Old 03-23-2007, 10:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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A few months ago I cut off all contact with my Mom. Its been hard...I am an only child and I have always been pretty close to her. For the past 8 years or so, things are just progessively getting worse and worse, and I decided it was time to step back. So when I moved cross country, I changed my number and haven't talked to her since. I am still very very close to my Dad, who I talk to everyday. They live together, so even though I am not communicating in any way with my Mom, I still kind of feel like I can check in on her if I start to feel guilty about her wellbeing. She is still drinking heavily, and has not attempted a rehab program again, so I guess in the end, I feel like my cutting off contact hasn't really done much for the whole situation. It's time like that when I need to remember...I am doing this for MY health...not hers :0) It really has been calming and peaceful for me, and for someone in your situation, it sounds like it too might be a good choice for you to make. Best of luck in whatever you decide...just remember, do it for YOU and your family.

*Ahimsa :0)
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Old 03-23-2007, 11:44 AM   #7 (permalink)

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I didn't cut family out of my life, rather my mother did. Her whole family is just bonkers. My grandmother (mom's mom) was an alcoholic, and very ill with emphysema for the last 5 years before she passed away. Family relations had never been pleasant, and Thanksgiving and Christmas were uncomfortable.

My mother has 3 siblings, and they drink, and then fight. They pick on each other, backbight, and gossip maliciously. It got to the point where we stopped going to family functions. They would 'pump' me for information too when I was a teenager, so nosy. Offer me life advice when they had to move home and had creepy boyfriends from the internet...ugh. We only went to visit my grandma while she was sick. After she passed away, the family has fallen apart. We take my grandpa out to dinner when we want to visit, there is no contact between my mom and the rest of her family.

My mom went through a lot when she did this...she felt guilty about 'cutting us off' (me and my siblings). I learned you can have your own relationships with the 'healthy' family, and you don't miss the unhealthy ones at all. I lost all respect for my aunts and uncles after they way they fought while my grandmother was dying...I say good riddance to their drinking and maliciousness. So does my mom. However it happened, she's not like them, and she feels much happier knowing she took responsibility for her life and happiness, by cutting off her family. The only aspect you can control about your family is whether or not to have contact.

Another example: My dad didn't talk to his own father for 8 years, and me and my siblings were never allowed to visit him. As an adult, I've met him, I don't feel I've missed out. There was a reason my dad stopped talking to him, and I don't find a drunk grandfather pleasant. I'd rather have a few family members to talk to, then be a part of the whole clan of dissapointments.
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Old 03-24-2007, 03:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i havent spoken to my father for several years, the only contact ive really received from him in the last few years were guilt trip letters and photos of himself on my birthday. i made the choice when i realised at 13 that he was never going to change and was always going to see me and my family as the problem rather than his own two hands, he still hasnt changed but thats his loss and his shite, not mine. hes an alcoholic (well thats the label) but hes also a sociopath, rapist and violently disturbed person which really shook my trust and faith in humanity to the core and robbed me of a healthy upbringing. i think the alcohol and drug abuse he did to himself resulted in his madness and treatment of myself and my other family members to be so traumatic and cruel. still, he gave me an experience of what not to be, an experience of what to avoid. i choose to never see him and dont want to ever see him again for the rest of my life, ive made it clear and will againif needs be to other family members that i will not be at any event even a wedding i dont care if he is there. and i will never let my children be in his presence, i will never keep my mouth shut to future partners of my sister if they have kids and my father could be near them because he is a psychopathic madman and i am not exaggerating though it can always feel that way when my life was the horror telemovie i denied it was all those years, i think its important to always put first the value someone places on you as a human and as a beautiful child of god/the universe/the flying spaghetti monster....to put that first before any family ties, to relieve any guilt or shame out of a sense of owing because you dont owe anyone anything and noone owes me anything. but i have the power to shape my own life and the right to decide what sort of people i want in my life. THE CHOICE is always mine now that i am an adult. i still see my mother and sister and even though there are issues there of insensitivity, intense denial and sometimes hurtful verbal behaviour i feel loved and respected as a human and choose to be with them by practicing detachment and using my program and Faith. it helps to have good friends, some of which ive found in recovery to fill that void of lost parents and family. there are needs which have to be met, some stay frozen but most can be healed through reaching out, through meetings, through the gift of sponsorship and above all through learning to really know and love yourself which will nourish you more than any absent caregiver in your life ever could. peace and love. oh yes and also find some time to lighten up and laugh cos this stuff is serious hardcore stuff. so with y'all
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Old 03-24-2007, 06:19 AM   #9 (permalink)

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I love my father but I don't have a lot of contacts with him
at the moment. Even if i go visit my mom. There's a bondary,
but still more like a wall. I say hello to him as if i would say
hello to any stranger out in public.

Even with a lot of recovery in me , being clean and sober
over a decade. When my father gets into his moods.
I would still come home and stay in bed for days. Pretty
much the samething I would do when i was a kid or a teen.

I stayed away for a long time. But it breaks my mother's
heart. Even this past week my mother came to visit
me instead. i usually visit my mother once or twice a week

When I got sober, i just thought that I had the problem.
That I had the dis-ease and my father's drinking wasn't
any of my bussiness.

Will....I've changed and my father still hasn't.

No i can't continue to blame the man for the way I lived my life
but damn....it affected me.

While i do understand that god sent an adbrasive person into my life
to make me a finer person.....nat ah, this man will sand paper me
down to nothing.

I still love my father very much. I can't be around him for too
long thats all, especailly when he's drunk and mean.

I'm smooth enough today, thank you very much.

Last edited by SaTiT; 03-24-2007 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 03-24-2007, 07:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for all the input so far. Sometimes you feel like you are walking this road alone even though logically you know you are not the only person in this situation. I so relate to the "horror show" comment - I have often felt that way looking back on my childhood. It doesn't really seem that I was "safe" anywhere.

I am trying really hard to hold my boundaries and do what I can live with. Yesterday he had to go to the doctor because of a problem with his pacemaker/defibrillator implant. I did not rearrange my life to take him but I did show up at the appointment mostly because I wanted to hear the truth about what is going on vs. his trumped up version of how he is going to drop dead next week and I should feel horrible for not bringing the kids over more often - horrible terrible ungrateful daughter that I am.

Anyway, it appears he is going to need surgery to replace his current implanted AICD sometime in the next 6 months. Dread is all I could feel. I know that probably sounds awful but you would have to see the soap opera that plays out. I have been through this 3 times already. He has had a very weak heart for years now. Sudden cardiac death - revived, respiratory failure and on the ventilator for several days - got better, faulty pacemaker defibrillator that shocked inappropriately - survived. Those were real crisis moments but you wouldn't even believe the number of times he has lied to us about the AICD shocking him, or chest pain or I can't breathe just to get attention.

It becomes all about manipulation to see how much attention, concern, pain medication and anti anxiety medication he can get his hands on so he can stay messed up the entire time. Not to mention the fact that he is so hateful and mean to the staff at the hospital that they literally called me last time at 3am because he wouldn't "behave". I had to talk to him like he was one of my children. It all makes me nauseated to even think about it. He makes me out to all the staff to be this cold, uncaring, calloused daughter and they look at me like I am some kind of freak for not caring more about my dad.....all the while petting and catering to him. Ugh. It is hard.

I just get so darn mad when I hear him act like that. He beat my mother almost every day of my childhood. Breaking bones, bringing blood and wrecking the house. If I cried out in fear or expressed any kind of emotion about it he got in my face, spanked me, locked me up in my room or as I got older turned his fists on me. He burned our house to the ground when I was 8 years old. Every cherished toy and doll...gone. He got away with it and did it supposedly because HE couldn't bear the "memories" of that house and I don't know how many times I heard that he did it for "me". But it was all about money and power and manipulation. I could go on and on. I have had to keep so many secrets...secrets a child should never have to bear. So why I have any guilt about my contempt for him...I don't know. I know it isn't rational but it's there.

I will keep working on me. That is all I can do. Thank you for giving me an outlet and for sharing some of your own feelings and triumph in similar circumstances. This is a big huge issue for me and I don't think I will feel healthy until I have found the strength to really deal with it all the right way.

Gosh...another book. Sorry. But it feels good to talk about it..right out here in the open.
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:06 AM   #11 (permalink)
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man this is heavy ****, i just want to send so much love peace and strength to everyone and say that we are a testimony to ourselves to even be sharing here, we are beautiful and strong and going to be ok, will be am ok.
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Old 03-31-2007, 07:32 PM   #12 (permalink)

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yes. i stopped having anything to do with my dad last July. I am better for it as well. i didn't say anything. just the last time we were on the phone and he started making fun of me because of my wrecked relationships with men in my life, and as he laughed i realized he is much to do with why my relationships with men are so ******. so i hung up on him. he tried to call back, but i didn't answer and he got the message that i had no desire to continue to have anything more to do with his sickness. He's an A. Mom's dead. He was a mean ******* and i have had to do a lot of emotional work to deal with the pain and anger he fostered. I have been able to forgive him and i tell my daughters that just because i don't want to have anything to do with him, doesn't mean they can't continue to have a relationship with him. so they call him and see him occasionally. i am not trying to "punish" him, i've have just had enough and i look at it like i live thousands of miles away from him. i have peace now and as they say, if it is good for the family it is good for the alcoholic!

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-08-2007, 07:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Yes, know that cutting your father off for all of the emotional, physical and spiritual abuse IS an option for you. Many of us have done it as a way to survive.

You can do it if it's interfering with your ability to heal, and to have a healthy and fulfilling life of your own. And he's given you plenty to heal FROM, god knows.

If things don't change, consider cutting off contact and writing him a letter letting him know why you're doing it. He's abusive and manipulative even now, and it seems that no one has ever called him on it.

Hugs and strength to you

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Old 04-09-2007, 11:21 AM   #14 (permalink)

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Wow. This has been painful to read. My heart goes out to all the abused children on this thread. I am so sorry, BeginAgain, that you have had to go through what you have been through with this. I wish I knew what the answer was but of course I do not; I am just saddened for you and what you went through as a child, it's heartbreaking. I am reminded of something a friend of mine did, when his dad was on his death bed. He made a list, like of the things you shared above, such as burning down the house, etc, and he took that list and read it to his father, all the things that the man had done to him during his life, the child abuse, substance abuse, etc, in other words he confronted him about everything, just read it off like a laundry list. And he said it was tremendously healing for him. And I think it helped the father too, because at the end he asked my friend for a hug goodbye, which is something he had never done. It's so weird how when people feel guilty about things they have done they will do more bad things and make it worse. I don't know what I would do if I was in your situation, but I know you are entirely justified in cutting him off, based on what you have said.
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Old 04-11-2007, 04:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yes I do feel on some level as if I am totally justified in cutting ties completely and I do think that after moving past it a little, that I would be a healthier person and I would have a happier overall family dynamic. Everyone in my life really has great dread about having to visit, being involved or being asked to do anything for him.

But the guilt gets me every time. I have come a long way in the last 10 years or so. I no longer feed into the crisis, disrupt my life totally and turn everyone and everything on it's head to respond to his issues and crisis situations. But....GUILT - that ugly word. It creeps into my gut and in the end I take on whatever the responsibility is of the moment. Coming up soon we have a trip to Emory for a follow up eval and scheduling surgery to have the AICD/Pacemaker replaced. It is always an ordeal with him sneaking pills and taking his pills when they are already giving him pills....then he stays practically comatose the entire time which extends the hospital stay and makes it harder on everyone.

As far as confronting him. I have. I do from time to time, though I don't know why I bother. He is 100% textbook Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Everything he says and does is the gospel. Everything I say and do makes me an idiot. Even if you are presenting the facts there is a different version of the facts that nobody else ever heard...and he will quickly cut you to the bone to make the point that whatever the issue HE was the victim and YOU were the perpetrator _OR_ your choices don't measure up to his expectations.

It wouldn't have happened if you had not......... That happened because your mother......... You involved others in the family business and that caused it to happen......... You're not treating my grandchildren properly they should have..................... Your son is 16 years old, you need to buy him a vehicle immediately.... Don't you tell anyone about this or......You can fill in the blanks. I think you get the picture.

It is so bad that the very idea of a visit causes me to have a physical reaction to the emotions, tension, anger and contempt that lives inside me. For that reason I limit myself as much as humanly possible. I saw him this past weekend for about 1 1/2 hours, had my rock of a husband and my two kids with me to soften the blows because he doesn't act up quite as much around my husband. That was the first time I've seen him in 2 months or longer. It was uncomfortable and my mood was noticable dark and I felt ill the rest of the night.

So for now...I allow myself occasionally to go through this hell. I know that I have a choice. If I could just figure out how to move past the guilt of not helping a man who can no longer drive, no longer has any outside friends and has no contact with family other than me. I have no brothers and sisters. My parents are divorced. All my cousins, aunts & uncles are in prison, drug dealers or addicts or both. I extracated myself from their world completely when I first got clean in 1992...but it has not been that easy to pull away completely from him.

I know I am rambling. I know the answer I think. I am just looking to share the mess that lives in this situation with someone else. It does help to talk about it and get feed back from people who do understand and can offer good suggestions or even just sympathy. Most of my friends don't get it. They have these normal - great relationships with parents they visit often.

Thanks to all for reading and responding.
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Old 04-17-2007, 07:50 PM   #16 (permalink)
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There are people in this world who will blame others for all of the bad things they do in life.

Rapists will blame the victims, their attire, their actions.

Pedophiles will blame "their disease"

Even murderers will find a reason why they simply couldn't avoid taking another's life.

Would you feel guilty with them too? If they attacked your daughter, molested your son, killed someone you care about in anger? At what point will you let go of the guilt, BeginAgain? At what point does he get a wake-up call that his behavior isn't going to be accepted if he wants to see you & others at his doorstep?

What does he have to do before you'll realize that you are the GoodGuy (well, goodgal) here, and he is damaging you?

I really, really do understand the guilt, but working through it and getting rid of it is a fight that's worth fighting. The freedom it can gain you is so life-changing. I've been there too, and the difference in my life is like black and white.

Hugs and strength to you

"Tell me, what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?" --Mary Oliver

"Action is the antidote to despair." --Joan Baez

"False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities." --Derrick Jensen
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