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How Do I Escape my Father’s Influence?

From the U.S.: My father is the most critical and hypocritical person I’ve ever met.  Everything must be his way even if his way is stress-inducing.  He does everything for a reason, but no one else thinks.  Everyone makes his life harder, but he never causes problems.  Everyone else causes themselves problems, but his problems are worse.  No one appreciates him, but it’s justified that he does not appreciate anyone else.  Etc.

Everyone- myself, sister, mother, relatives, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, clients, strangers, etc.  There is no one he has never said a negative word to or about.  He is judgmental, pessimistic, and controlling.  My therapists, teachers, friends, sister’s friends, mother’s friends, his sister, etc. agree.

This extends to trivial things or things of common courtesy.  He questions, scolds, and threatens us.  This often turns into screaming fits followed by muttering as he stomps around.  During extreme tantrums, he gets physical with me or especially my little sister knocking us down, holding us on the ground, leaving bruises, hair pulling, kicking, slapping, breaking things, etc.

I’m 25.  Every day is a struggle due to mental and physical health problems for which he has no empathy.  He refuses to believe he causes me stress.  Based on reflection, research, and discussions with therapists, my mother, and others, I’ve concluded my father is the root cause of my constant fears of criticism and rejection, low self-worth, negative thinking, obsessive behaviors, and interpersonal conflicts.  Based on comments I’ve received, I sometimes worry I’m turning into him.

Since elementary school, I’ve wished my parents would divorce.  They are finally separating, but I’m concerned he will remain present by calling and visiting.  I’ve attempted to move away multiple times since high school.  I return home because staying in school or financially supporting myself is challenging.

As I get older and he induces more suicidal thoughts, my hatred turns violent. I wish that he could experience my psychological and physical torment, I could hurt him the ways he has hurt us, I could hurt him other ways.  Sometimes, I even wish that I could kill him or he would die.  I have never self-harmed, harmed another person, or planned to so I trust I will never act on these impulses.  Still, these thoughts worry me.

I don’t want him in my life or on my psyche, but his presence and damage seem permanent.  How do I escape his influence healthfully?

You may be right that your father has caused many of your problems. You may be right that continued contact with him is painful. But if you think he needs to change in order for you to feel better, you are leaving him in control of your life. At 25, you are old enough to change the nature of your relationship. You may not be able to stop him from being negative. But you can certainly change your reaction to him. You can set yourself free from his influence and go to school and/or get a job so that you can be independent.

You mentioned that you have a therapist. I urge you to take your questions to that person. Good therapeutic work will help you develop the skills you need to free yourself from your father’s toxicity and to move on in your own life. If you haven’t been specific about the level of your father’s control over you, do take your letter to your therapist. It is an articulate account of how you feel. Having that information will help your therapist know how to proceed. I urge you to go deep with your therapist so you can take charge of your life. You deserve it.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie



from Ask the Therapist http://bit.ly/2RVs9al
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