December 27, 2011

ERP is derailed by major family issues and disappointments.

How many of you would say that you have a “happy family”?  I mean, no family is perfect – but how many of you would say that overall – your family is pretty normal and healthy?  I’m curious to know.  And – to add to that – I’m not sure what “healthy” means either so it will be interesting to see your comments about this. 

I just had THE MOST horrible Christmas EVER.  But, I also had a few real “light bulb” moments, and I actually – weirdly enough – feel pretty free. 

I’ve written in the past about my family dysfunction.  And it has just gotten substantially worse in the last two months since my Mom died.  I’ve written about how my Mom is the “rock” of the family.  Well, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined how much my life would change without the influence of my Mom. 

My Dad and I have always had issues.  I don’t know why.  We mix like oil and water.  I don’t like what he stands for, and I think I intimidate him because he is a HUGE bully......and I actually stand up to him.  For as long as I can remember – I have been scared of my Dad.  But I’ve never actually been able to figure out why exactly.  What exactly is it – as an adult – that he could do to me?  My Dad and I have had MAJOR disputes – one that actually resulted in me asking him and my Mom to leave my house.  I didn’t speak to them for over three weeks.  He wrote me an “apology” letter saying how much he loved me and a bunch of other crap. 

I have no idea what it looks like to be in a “healthy” family.  Which, I’m sure is one of the reasons I have ROCD and HOCD.  What does that even look like?  And how – as someone who hasn’t had “healthy” modelled to me as a child – do I even learn how to “do” healthy??????  Anyway – I digress. 

Everything that has transpired between me and my family in the last few months could fill a thousand page novel, and is WAY to much to write about here.  The details would take many posts.  I am tempted to do that though – so you get the full affect of what has actually occurred so that you understand why I actually did what I did in the end.  I just don’t have the energy for that now though.  Sorry.  (So OCD of me!)

It started with my father informing me about a week before Christmas that we would not be allowed to mourn Mom over the holidays.  That Christmas was to be a “happy time” and nothing else.  Interesting.  So – this is the first Christmas without my dear, giving, wonderful mother, and we are not allowed to feel sad. 

But the major issue that happened is that on Christmas Eve – with about 15 guests over at our house – my sister-in-law informed me that my Dad was officially in an intimate relationship with a supposed “friend” of my Mom’s (very long back-story here too), and had been for several weeks.  For those of you who aren’t well-versed on the situation THIS MEANS THAT WITHIN ONE MONTH OF MY MOTHER DYING – MY FATHER HAD EMBARKED ON ANOTHER INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH A WOMAN. 

I was crushed.  I had seen it coming like a freight train, but wanted to believe that my father would make better choices than that.  Obviously not.  I then looked at my brother who said to me: “You have a choice.  You can accept it or suffer the consequences.”  REALLY????? Not "I'm sorry - it sucks that you had to find out this way.  I'm sure it's hard for you to hear that." or anything like that.  Just a threat.  Go figure.  He's cut from the exact same cloth as my Dad. 

I removed myself from the situation, and my brother followed me up to my bedroom and proceeded to tell me that I am a drama queen and push everyone away.  What ever gave him the authority to give his “expert” opinion on that – I’ll never know. 

I was beside myself with sadness, anger and disappointment. 

After the company left – my Dad came up and told me for himself.  He confirmed exactly what my sister-in-law told me.  I told my Dad that I wasn’t happy, and that I was very uncomfortable with the situation for many reasons.  He proceeded to lose it and tell me that I could either be happy about him and his new woman – or leave the family. 

That’s the “Coles’ Notes” version.  And really – that’s the important stuff. 

I left my parent’s house on Christmas morning at 6:30 AM.  I left a note for my Dad on the kitchen table, and I went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. 

You see – for as long as I can remember – this has been my Dad’s M.O.  If I ever confront him about something that is upsetting me – he threatens me.  He threatens to “disown me” or just says “accept it or else”.  No wonder I’m scared of him.  My Dad said to me on Christmas Eve night that I am “too vocal”, “too emotional” and “that I need to learn when to keep my mouth shut”. 

The light bulb finally came on.  I am just not meant to be a part of my family anymore.  I can’t live with my Dad’s veiled threats anymore.  I am sick of being held hostage by his abuse. 

And I am glad to be free. 

I’ve been pretty consumed with emotions though since this happened, and really don’t have the emotional energy for ERP.  I realize I need to get back at it – but I think I will wait until next week.  I have a session with my therapist next week (though I emailed him and let him know what has transpired) and wow – I have A LOT to plod through here. 

But I feel free!!!!  I feel free from my Dad and sibling’s threats!  They can no longer control me!  And it feels so good. 

My Dad has never acknowledged my OCD.  But he always conveniently calls me the one with the “emotional problems” when I don’t properly fit into his nice little box of expectations.  It’s so funny – because my sister has gone to therapy for over 15 years but for some reason she still has credibility in his eyes.  Not sure why. 

I am angry.  And sad.  And oh so disappointed.  And I have moments where I doubt myself and think “what am I doing to contribute to this relationship?  What have I done to make him treat me like this?”  But I just have to turn to my good friends and they quickly remind me that I HAVE DONE NOTHING TO DESERVE this. 

I’ll probably write more about this later.    


  1. Ugh, that sounds just terrible. Your father can make his choices, but you don't have to like them, and giving you ultimatums while you are still grieving is cruel.

    My family is fairly functional, and still my parents have a terribly messed up relationship. They have about the worst communication skills I have ever seen. As a result, I have very very poor communication skills as well. I'm working on it.

    Nearly everyone I've ever gotten to know well has some (or lots!) of dysfunction in their family. I'm sure "happy and normal" exists, but it's not really the "norm" after all, as far as I can tell.

  2. I think we OCD types try to find a cause, reason, and ultimately a fix for the problems in our lives. A very wise friend told me recently about a long ago conversation with her then therapist about her relationship with her father that went something like: he can think what he thinks, and you can think what you think - and they don't have to match. And that's ok. You don't have to change his mind and he doesn't have to change yours. And that's ok.

    The concept is hard for me. I'm overly focused on other people's opinions. But, I think what you've accomplished is very smart and brave. You don't have to be emotionally invested in his opinions. I think OCD is ultimately about trusting ourselves and the world without relying on our checks and the comfort of other people to make us feel better when our thoughts take over.

  3. What a terrible Christmas. :-( I am so sorry to hear how awful it was ... but I have hope! I love that you stood up for yourself. I wonder if, years from now, you will look back on this Christmas and think "YES, that was when things started to change!"

    Again, I'm sorry about your mom. Thinking of you and praying for you.

  4. POC, I can't even imagine. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. But, I am glad you're FREE!!

    And as far as healthy family, definitely not mine. We're happy, as long as we're mostly passive-aggressive and/or co-dependent! Fun times for all! :|

    Sending hugs and prayers your way.

  5. POC, I am so sorry you had such an awful time with your family. But, wow, you took a BIG step and you're free--and that is WONDERFUL! You took yourself out of an abusive situation. Your friends are right when they tell you you did not do anything to deserve how your dad and brother treat you.
    My family is very messed up. I lived at the mercy of my mother's opinion of me for many, many years, and the opinions aren't good. I have managed to break away for the most part, but I struggled a lot with doubts about it.
    I think the OCD makes us feel overly responsible for everything, including how others treat us and what they think about us. And we are not responsible for those things.
    I will be thinking about you and waiting to read your next post when you feel ready.

  6. Aren't all families dysfunctional in some way? Mine sure is, though the outside world would never know. But I am very grateful that even with our issues, my family is well-meaning and would never intentionally hurt each other.
    I am sorry to hear of your situation and agree that you have done what you need to do for your own health........separate yourself from this source of heartache. You are in my thoughts!

  7. I'm so sorry that Christmas brought more unhappy times for you, but glad that you recognize that expressing an opinion doesn t make`you a bad person.

    Could it be that if anyone has an emotion other than the one your dad has at the time, they merit the title of 'emotional'. You sound like you have spent a long time trying to be allowed to have your own feelings. Have others in the family taken on more passive roles? either agreeing with your dad right up front or just not stating any opposing feelings but remaining quiet? In my family of origin, i was the suck-up, quiet one and while it caused me less pain at the time ( i didn't get hit as often as i could have, because i just jumped and did whatever i was supposed to), but in later life i have had to deal with learning to have opinions of my own, learning that it's ok to not like my mom much, learning how not to be depressed.

    And yes, you can still have a functional family. Make being able to talk thru problems and stuff with someone a high priority on your 'what i want in a spouce' list, and then practice this skill when you can. Do some reading about functional families (either biographies of good parents/ families, or self help books). Another thing that helps is to be able to apologize and mean it when something goes wrong. I had to learn this as my mother does not and did not ever apologize and actually mean it. (she apologized once in a letter to me and then ended up telling me it was my fault she acted the way she did.

    Your therapist may also have ideas. You do not have to end up like your family of origin. I have a much better marriage than my parents do (or at least i think so). And my kids and i have good relationships too. I am on polite speaking terms with my parents and spend most of my time with them listening to them, as that keeps the peace :).
    But this took some time and therapy and some 'apart' time to get to.


  8. Thank you SO MUCH everyone for your words of wisdom and support!!!! It is amazing - I feel SO GOOD!!! I don't know what that says about me, but I'm trying not to let OCD attach to it and analyze that feeling.
    Jackie - I agree that me leaving and my intent (to not contact them for a while) is going to be a springboard for change.
    Tina - I agree - OCD really has a tendency to latch on to this kind of thing and believe me - I struggled for a long time with feeling like this was all my fault and that I could somehow do something to change it. I'm not saying that I'm perfect, but this is a pattern that has formed with me and my Dad for many, many years. Back when I was a child and he was the adult. Thanks for sharing your story - it helps to see that I'm not alone.
    Karin - wow did you ever have some helpful insight!!! I think what happens with my Dad is exactly what you said - my Dad for some reason feels threatened by me....whether it's because I disagree with him, or I make him feel guilty (or some other negative emotion) and so he lashes back and tries to threaten me to shut me up. I suppose that is text book abuse - not sure. My father never apologizes and means it either! Which is funny because when we were fighting last weekend he said to me "I always apologize and you NEVER apologize." Yeah. Probably because I know he doesn't mean it!!! Plus - I honestly don't think I do anything to deserve how he treats me.
    I will give everyone an update in my next post.