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Heidi LPC
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 234
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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I had an absent father who was also a Colonel in the Air Force

Customer Question

I had an absent father who was also a Colonel in the Air Force and I learned early that he cheated on my mother. He made one sexual advance towards me when I was about 6 and I told my mother who supported me and told him to back off which he did. Then when I was 13 he lied to my mother's doctor about her being an alcoholic and I told the doctor in private that she was NOT an alcoholic. Dad would not let me go stay with my grandparents during my Mom's hospital stay then but let my two smaller sisters go and for 2 months he never said a word to me - very passive aggressive. However all of this still bothers me and as I was getting older he made attempts to be "nice" to me but inevitably reverted to his anger with me which came out usually passive aggressively%
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.

Heidi LPC :

Hi there, I am hoping I can be of some assistance to you this evening... I am sorry you are struggling with this longtime issue...


 

Heidi LPC :

I am wondering if you still have much contact with him or if you have tried to express these thoughts and feelings to him?


 

Heidi LPC :

Also wondering if your mother has/had any helpful observations about the issue?

Heidi LPC :

You have every right to be angry and hurt and to have some unresolved issues. Your description of his behavior sounds very much as if he was sociopathic, or dealing with anti-social personality issues.


 

Heidi LPC :

There are some fantastic books on the subject of healing the inner child when you are wounded in childhood this way. One that I highly recommend is http://www.amazon.com/Healing-The-Child-Within-Dysfunctional/dp/0932194400


 

Heidi LPC :

I would certainly also recommend that working on your self-esteem through some therapy may be useful, and your sister and you may want to speak to a therapist together to find ways to work through your unresolved feelings.


 

Heidi LPC :

I would love to chat with you further about your question, and since you are offline I will await your reply with any further information or questions to share! Thank you for using the site, and we'll talk soon! :-)


 

Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi, Heidi! You have some good suggestions. I just want to heal and forgive and I thought I had at times but it keeps popping up and it's like PTSD.

 

To answer the questions you brought up: No I do not have much contact with him at all. His wife, my stepmother (and there is an issue there, too since he met her before he and my mom divorced and she is very selfish about her own family and also manipulative in my view) sends me Christmas cards and once in a while pictures from slides taken when we were very young which I do appreciate and I am trying to keep this contact going.

 

We don't talk on the phone ever.

 

No I have not expressed these thoughts and feelings to him because I don't think I could without completely losing my composure and breaking out in tears to the point that I couldn't talk. I did lose my temper at him when I was about 18 and accused him of not loving me and yelled and screamed at him that he didn't love me which he of course denied and said he did. And then ignored me again. I guess I couldn't expect a different response from him because of the way he was and it's hard to talk to a screaming 17 year old! He was very distant all my life except for some good memories before I was about 6. I never associated him with being anti-social or having socicopath tendencies but I'll look into that, too.

 

My mother passed away several years ago and all she could ever say about him loving us and her was that he provided for us and that he had a hard childhood so this is spilling over to our next generation.

 

Great advice about my sister and I getting therapy together to work through these unresolved issues but she lives in Colorado and I live in Alabama. I think I'll get the book you recommended and an extra one for her and start our conversation together that way. I can't afford therapy right now but maybe through mental health services I could get some. I will check into that.

 

My only question now is about the sister that hasn't spoken to me in over 20 years. She was angry with me for giving custody of my daughter to my husband's grandparents at a time when I was living at home before my parents divorced and my dad was drinking heavily and being extremely verbally abusive to just everyone. I don't know how to repair that relationship and neither does my other sister. We both have a problem with her manipulation and anger. It may not be repairable unless we ALL go into therapy together and I don't think that will happen. That sister thinks she knows it all and is a lawyer, doctor and psychologist herself. She has a degree in geology! :) I don't know, she's just actually chosen not to have a sister relationship with me and I have accepted it. That's her loss. Although It really is my loss, too.

 

The advice my mom gave me when I moved back home after my divorce, and I think it was good because it worked was to just not say anything to him because then he would focus his verbal attacks on whoever challenged him. Totally irrational. He was so angry. I didn't say anything and actually got some strength and empowerment about that.

 

On a different note I think the strength and empowerment I got from not responding to his verbal attacks showed me that I could control my own actions and responses and react or act independently of anyone or any situation. That has stayed with me. But I'm not sure if the behavior of not responding and the "strength and empowerment" I have felt was just avoidance and myself doing exactly what he did which was distancing my emotions and feelings and core self from a bad situation. Anyway, it worked and I have that skill in my "repertoire" still today, to be able to respond rather than react in a bad situation.

 

I hope this answers some of your questions and I just get a headache thinking about all of this. It feels like a ball of rubber bands that keep bouncing back to me. I appreciate your empathy! Maybe you have a few more suggestions since I've provided more information. I feel like I've written a book! And thank you!

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Heidi, I just ordered the book you recommended. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Heidi, it's getting late here and I am going to go to bed. I'll look for your response in the morning, and thank you.
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.
Good Morning! Thank you for all of this information!! I am tied up here this morning at work, and so I will reply this afternoon with my thoughts and more suggestions!! Great work so far!! We will get this boulder to move and get out of your way!! :-) Talk soon!!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Wonderful! Thanks! No hurry. :) This has been around for about 54 years so it can wait a few hours. Isn't that pitiful? Have a wonderful morning and hear from you soon.

Thank you!

Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi again!! Thank you for your patience, and for all the information!!

Simply put, it is clear that you were raised in a dysfunctional family, and you developed coping skills that helped you to avoid conflict and to manage the frustrations and pain of an unavailable father and a mother who tried to manage, but who clearly was unable to take control. This probably created great anger that you will want to express, and you may want to begin a dialogue with him to get it off your chest and give him one more chance to respond and repair it. I highly doubt he would even know where to begin, though... as your mother's observations about him having had a rough childhood is something he never dealt with and probably never will. Some people just don't know how, and don't want to learn out of fear of what they might find. You, on the other hand, don't want to make the same mistake--- and are going to work through it... and I congratulate you on wanting to find peace!

So many people are wounded by poor parenting, and so many choose to repeat the same mistakes, never looking past their own history and being doomed to repeat them. You are not alone, by a longshot. The remedy to the pain is to analyze exactly what you needed and didn't get, why that was, and to grieve your losses, be angry about them, and eventually to make peace with it... while making a conscious effort to give yourself what it is that you need now. So, let me ask: what were you cheated of? What were you always left hoping for? What effect did his distance have on your self-esteem? And what would you want him to know now, before he leaves the planet, that you may regret never having said?

You have one chance to live; this you already know. My motto is "Have NO regrets." Something you might find helpful is to write, stream of consciousness-style, everything that you want your father to know and take your time to do it. Revise, rewrite, etc... until you feel it is absolutely correct. Hold nothing back, as the damage is already done to you... and now it is your turn to take this heavy load off your shoulders and place in squarely back on his. You will find that by releasing your regrets and anger and pain, the burden will begin to lift. Now the final piece: you never have to give him this letter, if you so choose. Or, you will. But this decision will come later. The act of writing it will be cathartic in itself, and will bring it all to the surface so that you can toss it right off the cliff... and begin anew.

You have the choice to decide how you want to live from this point forward. Do you want to attempt to repair any of these relationships? Or do you want to just sort of "trust the journey" and see what happens? Your sister is holding a grudge, and she feels self-righteous about it; this is her option. You can tell her it hurts and you miss her, but ultimately it is her choice to let it go or not. Your father may never come around; his dysfunction sounds thick and embedded. Yet, it may do him a bit of good to hear that you want to find some peace despite his inability to love you as you needed to be loved; he may get some peace by the contact you initiate, as well. Not sure!

As for your own family, the daughter you mention, you didn't say if you have contact or not. But, if you do, then your sister's opinion is a mute point. Otherwise, maybe there is more work to be done there?

These types of personal awakenings are some of my favorite situations; when you know better, you do better. When you identify the missing pieces and actively search to find them and put them back in place, you can finally become wholeheartedly who you want to be and were meant to be. And, THIS time, it is on YOUR OWN terms, and not at the hands of someone who was responsible for your upbringing, but hadn't any clue about the serious nature of that job. You are now going to take control and give up your identity as a victim of circumstance. Take your power back, and begin now!

I am so glad you ordered this book; you will see what I mean once you start reading it! Let me know what thoughts my reply brought up for you, and I am happy that you have decided to begin this process of resolution!! :-)

Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 234
Experience: Licensed Professional Counselor
Heidi LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Well, WOW, Heidi. You have hit the nail on the head so to speak. I definitely do need to start writing and sorting out my feelings and needs my father never gave me, and you're right. He is so deeply embedded in his dysfunction that he may not even know the hurt he caused all of us. I may send him the letter that I eventually come up with or not. I know how cathartic writing it out is - at least I've heard that it is. I always have "to do" lists and I'm amazed what I can do when I get all of my "to do's" done! As you said my father probably has no idea how to respond except maybe to say I'm sorry. I feel badly that he has lived his whole life as he did. He missed so much. This sounds like something I need to get writing, as you recommended. I guess it's good that I can feel badly for him and see what has happened that I want to stop immediately or at least quickly.

 

I do have contact now with my daughter and it is great. She is an amazing child. Put herself through school and got her Masters while holding a full time job and having a new baby! That is focus and I am so so proud of her and I let her know all the time! I want her to know how special she is to me and to everyone she meets and to her son, my grandson, who is four now. In fact she has had therapy because her father - whom I was only married to for about 4 years - was a messed up piece of baggage and she found out through therapy that she married her father - this was after she was divorced recently. She's one smart kid. And amazingly enough I married my father, too. Who was her father. OH, what a tangled web we weave.

 

I know I have the choice to decide how I want to live but I surely needed some guidance as to how to get this rubber ball pulverized! :) Thank you so much and the book has shipped already and I'm looking forward to reading it and getting that letter going!

 

You are a very compassionate and thoughtful person and I have never talked with anyone about this before and received such empathy and help.

 

Thank you so much! If I run into a knot that I cannot undo myself will I be able to contact YOU again? I hope so. And now, to begin! I see the sun shining already! Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could give you a big hug!

Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.

I am so glad to be of some help--- truly!! And yes... the fact that you can already feel sorry for your father will be a huge piece of your resolution; many people can never (or just refuse) to forgive the errors of their parents... but forgiving is actually one of the healthiest ways to get resolution. It doesn't mean you will ever forget, but that you refuse to allow the past to have anymore power over you. EXCELLENT WORK!!!

So glad to hear about your daughter; once you all put the hows and whys together of these patterns that have repeated themselves, you will eliminate them from your generational map!! You are definitely on the right road there!!

And, anytime you'd like to share your thoughts or ask another question, or to just fill me in on your progress, just put my name at the front of your query and it will be directed to me! And you can reaccess this string of comments in the "my questions" tab at the top of your screen, as well!!

Can't wait to hear what you think of the book--- and I send you a big hug right back!! Trust the journey... and enjoy this new awakening period!!!!! :-)

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