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I am feeling increasingly estranged from my father who is…

I am feeling increasingly estranged...
I am feeling increasingly estranged from my father who is lives independently but is ill and older.My mother recently passed away and this has created a huge divide. My mother an father had a toxic marriage that was impacted by endless secrets, cheating, hiding money etc. Ten years ago my mother opted to add me to her checking account. I had zero interest in that, nor did I have any access to her account. I refused to keep a checkbook in my home because I wanted no part of their money squabbles. If my mother needed me to pay something she would give me one check, I’d pay it and that was it.
When my mother was dying she was preoccupied with money. Whenever my father would leave the house she would call immediate to discuss only one thing. Money. Specifically keeping what she had away from my father. She begged me to go to a lawyer with her to write a will. I refused. I did not want to side with my mother against my father. My mother drove herself and made the will alone. I went to my father and asked to speak with him in his own time. I wanted to ask the both to go to a mediator to sort out family issues. I couldn’t rat out my mother to my father but I hoped if they had to sit face to face with a professional they might at least start the conversation. Well, my father would not even spare me five minutes to tell him my concerns. He was too busy. He forgot. I reminded him. He made excuses. He ignored me.
Meanwhile my mother was dying. I didn’t want to answer the telephone because every time it was— remember this account, don’t let your father get this mail, please clear out this account, put it in that account. How much is there? Tell me again how much is there. Count it. Count it again. I’d TRY to change the subject— Mommy, what is your favorite childhood memory. What’s your favorite place on earth. She’d always say she has no time for that, or she was too tired. Then she’d perk up. Count it again before your father gets home. Before she was dying I’d refuse and hope that she’d talk about something else. Once she was dying I’d do what she asked again and again and I felt like I was going to lose my mind. Then my father would start to argue about some trivial BS like he told her to exercise and she didn’t, or why no one had cleared it with him to buy a new vacuum. (She’d asked for one and I’d bought it with my money, not theirs)
During that time my father saw the checkbook in their house with my mother’s name and mine. He has since insinuated that I have everything— her bank (he said).
Of course he never asked, nor would he listen, that I never wanted my mother’s money. I wanted a mother, or a father for that matter, who would stop bickering and just act ‘normal’ for a while. He’s never cared that I adamantly refused to go against him. My mother left everything to me, but I am her only child so that isnt surprising. She left her car to my daughter and he gave me the keys and asked me to put it on my own insurance but then turned around and said I would have trouble from him if I don’t have the gift in writing. My mother was alive and he was present when she gave the car to my daughter. The car was never his, it was titled strictly to my mother. I can’t even stand to look at that car anymore. It brings up such bad memories. I do have the gift covered by my mother’s will. But God knows I cannot imagine having to fight my father legally. In the midst of his threats and innuendos he has stated that he is upset that my daughter never calls him. She has had no relationship with him since young childhood. He makes no attempt to reach out to her whatsoever. I do not push contact, but neither do I discourage it or bad mouth him. He had multiple other grandchildren, most of which he doesn’t know their names, and surely could not recognize them. Yet he heaps blame on my daughter for not calling him and handing over her report cards and giving him updates on her life. I refuse to push a relationship. My father had questionable relationships with women in his past and if I don’t do anything else as a mother I try very hard to keep her safe physically, emotionally and any other way. He has absolutely nothing good to say about us. Except when speaking to strangers then we are wonderful. Or when he needs our assistance. We, my husband and I, always attend to his needs if he asks. The innuendos and nastiness are making me want to walk away from him for good. I know he is older and has no one else— no close friends or family outside my sister and brother that I found in the last decade or so. He has no relationship with either of them beyond the superficial either. Please help me begin to deal with this in a healing manner. It drains me and overwhelms me every single day.
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Answered in 8 minutes by:
12/14/2017
TherapistJen
TherapistJen, LCSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3,831
Experience: Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Verified

I am so sorry to hear of all this pain for you..for so many years. It seems as if your Mom was on the right track with her worry and care for you around the money based on how your father has handled himself and continues to who you whom he is. I can hear how difficult it has been for you to set a firm boundary around your father, but you absolutely can. When you set that boundary then he cannot permeate you, your daughter or your relationship with your husband. You are absolutely allowed to place limits around what you will accept from him and if it is too tough to her the constant bad mouthing then protect yourself either by not seeing him or letting him know you will not engage in any conversation with that tenor. You may begin to heal and feel free once you feel strong enough to set whatever boundary feels right for YOU.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
But what can I say to him when he berates me about my daughter not calling. I need something that expresses that I am not allowing him to blame her for her grandfathers behavior. What can I do besides ignore him between health crisis situations and other emergency needs.

You just said it perfectly....Dad, I am happy to talk with you, but if you speak poorly about my child or berate her in any way, then I will not continue the conversation or time with you. If he continues then you end the conversation by leaving or ending a phone call. It can be said politely but with firm boundaries. You don't need to sit and be a part of any of it.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Thank you. What can I do to feel better about this money situation. Every vacation I take, everything I purchase he insinuates that it is my mother’s money. He doesn’t bother to notice I work eleven hours a day and my husband does too. I feel like showing him credit card bills. I haven’t even filed for her pension (which is now mine) because I feel so sick about doing it. It’s not what I wanted. I wanted my mother. The LAST thing I wanted was to have money squabbles. By the way, we are comfortable, definitely not wealthy but far from struggling.

It isn't any of his business and you don't need to show him anything and yes you should file for her pension. I understand you wanted a mother, but she left you what she left you so rather than see it as a bad thing, use it, save it, enjoy it and free yourself from the bondage of it! It was her only way for her to show care for you...not how you desired it, but clearly her only way she was capable. Don't need to answer any questions from him about it or squabble.

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Let me know your thoughts.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
It’s just really tough to deal with listening to him accuse me of the one thing I never in my life would do. Grub over money or lust after someone else’s ‘stuff’. I live in a modest house because that’s all I need. I drive a 10 year old car because that’s what I want. I

Why let him have that power over what you know to be true about the kind pf person you are. Put a stop to the conversations by ending them as I suggested above.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I’m getting to the point I can’t stand this man. I think he even thinks I got a new car because I take really good care of it. I feel like I need to say— you know that is my same old car I just had it detailed. This really is horrible

You are choosing to engage in it all and yet you say you can't take it...make the choice to disengage from it all.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
But the line is my problem— talk to him only in emergencies. Call on holidays? Then I also have to deal with family members who can understand how I can leave my 90 year old father behind. This is not what I’d want for the elders in my family. But I don’t see an option

You can have as much contact as you desire and the minute the conversation turns bad then you remove yourself from it.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I guess I’m feeling guilty because I don’t want any. Every time I try he starts in on these things. I feel bad because of his age, I reach out, he’s nasty and then I kick myself for picking up the phone.

It is a hard spot for sure...you are done with it all but the guilt keeps you there. So find the happy medium and keep it minimal with a firm boundary within it all.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Im trying to do this pension paperwork and I just can’t bring myself to do it. It almost feels the equivalent of ill gotten gains. Logically I know that isn’t true but I FEEL like I’m going into their battlefield. It makes me sick to my stomach
Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Im wrestling with this and he is there sure that I am spending her money and having a good time. Any ‘good time’ I’m having is good time we worked for.
It is what she wanted for you. See it then as truly a business transaction.
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I’m going to try. Its embarrassing being part of this family. I’m glad my daughter isn’t mixed up in this. I hate that I was/ am.
Hold your head high. Take what is rightfully yours and set a boundary for yourself. You can do this. As you know if you need me again in the future please request me by starting a new question and writing for therapist Jen only. I wish you the best. Please take a moment to click the rating faces to rate my support. As you know you are not charged again for doing so but without it I do not receive credit for my support.
TherapistJen
TherapistJen, LCSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3,831
Experience: Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Verified
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