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My Father

by Cam M 3 years ago in parents

All the Times I've Been Estranged from My Abusive Father

Me from the Month My Dad First Refused to Speak with Me

It isn't up to the child to reach out to the parent.

I've been estranged from my father for nearly seven months. This isn't the first time we've been estranged and, undoubtedly, it won't be the last.

I've noticed something over the years I've spent refusing contact with my father: I'm always the one to step away. I'm always the one to reach out to reconnect. I'm ALWAYS the one to forgive him.

I'm nearly 30 and I've cut my father out three times... all for very serious reasons. However, the first time we were estranged, it was by his own hand.

I was 16 and had just come out to my parents as bisexual. My father was and remains biphobic. He told me he would never support me if I "decided" to be this way. He refused to speak to me, even to pass food at the dinner table, for six months. It wasn't until I lied and shoved my ass back into the closet that he even considered speaking to me again.

The first time I cut my father off it was for one and a half years. My parents had just separated, my father was facing assault charges, and often shit-talked about my mom. My siblings and I often had to tell him to knock it off. This time he took it too far and I had enough—not only called it out, but left immediately. (Considering we were in the car and parking at the grocery store, and I got out before we stopped, I gather he took me seriously.) I wouldn't speak to him again until I had moved and finished college, and was about to be homeless without his help.

The second time I cut him out of my life was when he sold some of my belongings. It was stuff I had in storage that he had no business opening, going through, or selling—TV, dishes, furniture, all gone for small change. I had to buy my own TV back for $12. That lasted two months until I felt sorry for him when he got a bad flu bug and desperately needed help. He never apologized.

The third time is now. We spoke seven months ago, but it started a month before that. It started over $10. I was in a rut with work, out of money, and asked him for money for a pack of eggs and a package of toilet paper. He could have sent me $3.50 for the bus to go to the food bank for all I cared, but I just needed some kind of help.

He responded weeks later saying he was sick and had no money... and followed it up with accusing me of being lazy, entitled, and "looking for a handout." Over $10. I told him I had no idea he was sick, as he never told me any specifics about his life and only ever brought up hard times when I needed help. I asked him why he was holding me to a higher standard than he'd ever lived in his life. He's been on disability for my whole life and working backbreaking hard labour cash jobs on the side since I was a kid. How can someone like that, who always had money to binge on alcohol and weed and new guitars, turn around and say he can't give $10 to their child? I told him then that I would think be bothering him again with my needs.

He returned with a sob story about pancreatitis that was all healed, and berated me for asking why he didn't tell me when I didn't tell him everything either (specially begrudged that I didn't tell him I was having breast reduction surgery until my appointment was confirmed). He also claimed I was lashing out like a child and told me I was too self-important and just not working hard enough to survive. He guilt-tripped me more by saying he was so hurt and didn't know what to do.

So I went over the things that had been happening in my life. My girlfriend had sudden hearing loss and had to take meds that weren't covered by our drug plan, I had a bad UTI, depression acting up, money we'd set aside went to bussing, DRs, and meds, a friend was in crisis, and to top it off, both my girlfriend and I got the flu two times in a row. I had reached out to my dad when I really needed help.

More guilt trip. Holding money he'd spent on me a decade ago against me (including paying for part of my dental work). He then implied that if my girlfriend was worth anything, she'd drop everything, go to my hometown five hours away, and work for my father. This is where it's clear dad thinks my girlfriend is in fact a boyfriend. Calls her "he," misspells her name to appear more masculine, and implies that a boyfriend should be willing to support a woman, no matter what "if he's any kind of a man."

I correct him, knowing that this is where shit will hit the fan. I tell him she won't go work for him and that her reasons are hers alone, not his to judge. I reminded him that paying for dentistry is a normal thing parents help kids with... and that if I'd known he'd hold every little bit of money against me, I'd have never asked him for a penny.

"How was I to know ___ is not a man? I do know the difference from men and women after all... some just don't." There it was. Along with some choice words he'd implied, I don't know the difference between men and women... my girlfriend is trans. My dad implied that she is actually a guy and I'm just pretending she's a girl. Re-reading the rest of his message now, as I write this, has me seeing red. It hurts and infuriates me.

He finishes his retort with something about how my siblings, especially my older brother (half-brother) needs help too, and by asking my father for help, I'm taking away from them somehow. My father kicked my older brother out before he was 16, so any help he was planning on lending him is tenuous at best, especially legal help.

I told him he'd known I was dating my girlfriend for over a year, I brought up how he'd shunned me when I came out, and told him I avoided pronouns when talking about my girlfriend because I was afraid he'd have the same reaction as back then. I reminded him of how he'd been a year before... still stubborn and still selfish, but we didn't fight. We spoke often and about all sorts of things, he'd encouraged me to continue my work, and I felt close to him like I hadn't felt since I was a kid. I told him that this manipulation and holding things against me that have nothing to do with me hurt.

I blocked him on Facebook. I was distraught. He'd reacted just how I thought he would and I left the conversation, berating myself for trying to contact him at all.

Seven months later and I find myself wondering if I should unblock him, tell him I hope he's doing well and taking care of himself. I wonder if I should fill him in on why the right turned out the way it did. Anything to not miss him because he's still very much family, getting older, and I am so scared I'll lose him before he passes (without ever telling anyone he's sick).

The scary thing is I know this is what he wants. I know he wants me to forgive him and let it go. I know that if I do that we'll have another big argument in the future and he'll, once again, have one daughter less. Maybe it'll be when I tell him I'm going to marry my girlfriend or my first novel becomes a bestseller. Maybe it'll be when we adopt or when some other big life event comes up. Maybe it'll be my grandma's funeral... I can't trust that he won't make an issue out of something that any other father wouldn't blink an eyelash out of.

So children, especially those of us who have manipulative or abusive parents... know that it's not your job to keep the peace with your parents. It is their job as a parent to BE a parent.

All this being said... I've never once been estranged from my mother.


Cam M

Trying to make it past 28 and hold onto my loved ones.

Canadian, blonde, and determined like a mofo.

I do commissions. Email me at [email protected]

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