My abusive parent kind to me these days, why can't I just move on?

I don't know if I'm posting in the right place.

My father abused me verbally emotionally and mentally from a very early age (did it to my mother and sister) and was occasionally violent. There were death threats, use of weapons, a lot of invalidation emotional neglect and cruel put downs.

I was very scared of him. We all were. I spent my life self destructing in various different ways and in much fear. This was most of my life until my late 20s and early 30s when he started to acknowledge some of what he did ( he doesn't remember it all, only the abuse of me as a small child and says that as a teenager and 20s I was v.difficult and that maybe I perceived myself as abused then when I wasn't. He also cannot remember assaulting my sister at age 14 with a knife)


He still occasionally screams abuse at my mother in front of me and he puts my sister down a lot but he has told me he feels guilty about hurting me as a little child. I have been in and out of treatment with BPD and complex ptsd for over two decades now (back when it started he dismissed it as attention seeking and faking). I think he feels guilty.


I have forgiven him because I don't want to hear grudges against him but I am v boundaries about spending time with him. Because I hate the way he treats my mum and my sister. And I know he still has a temper. It wasn't asserting boundaries because he and my mum would minimise a lot and tell me to stop "founding off."

The thing is, I feel a sense of shame that I'm still struggling so much with my emotional health. So many issues with trust, feeling worthy and feeling safe etc and I still self destruct. Dissociative symptoms are less but haven't gone 100%. I know I have made progress since I started trauma therapy and DBT, but I also feel bad because really my dad is lovely to me now.

I should be fine shouldn't I? I don't want to cause my dad guilt . He has done more than enough to repair things between us although when under him abusing my mum and sister I am tempted to cut contact. Maybe to make him realise how damaging he is being to them. They are high functioning compared to me but they do struggle and I feel angry that they have to feel bad.

But for me...I worry I am milking this somehow. My symptoms are real but why aren't I better?


I will say that I had serious bullying at my primary school and was sexually assaulted by more than one person at different stages of my childhood. My sister tells me dad was mildly inappropriate with her in her teens, making comments about her developing body and once got his penis out at her but he never did anything sexual with me that I can remember (although I completely repressed what my grandpa did to me as a 3 year old until I was told about it later, so my early memories aren't complete. So I may still be a mess because of that .

I struggle with binge eating very badly and I feel like am trying to fill a void inside which I had been feeling since I was very young . I struggle with a sense of self and of identity and shame and social anxiety even paranoia which can get quite bad at times. To the point I lost a really good trauma therapist a few months ago and I kept seeing invalidation and that they were disbelieving me when they weren't .

I'm now with a different trauma therapist. Only had a few sessions. Seems very nice but am not quite ready to really trust her yet. I've held back. I know I shouldn't but I had 4 years with last therapist individually and 9 months with them in group, and I've only had a month with this new one!
 
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StillPen

MyPTSD Pro
@StrawberryFields, welcome to the forum, although I am sad for what brought you here. Keep working with your new therapist. It takes time as you know, to build that trust to be able to open up.

In my mind, from what you've shared, dad is still abusive with mom and sister, that by itself is possibly keeping you from moving on (it would me). That damage alone is enough to keep you in therapy. Until he has stopped all forms of abusive, with all family members, admitting fault, showing remorse and making efforts to change...I see no reason to place that expectation on yourself. It must be very painful to watch that continue with your mom and sister.

Glad you have shared and hope you find support here.
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
Phew if we could “just move on” there would be no need for this forum. We’re all here with you. It sucks, it’s real, reasonable even. I mean it’s the most formative years of your life. When your learning everything from reading to coping strategies. It makes sense not to be over it.

You’re father obviously still has a lot of work to do. He’s still abusive. it’s nice that he’s taken some small accountability but it doesn’t undo the trauma. He’s dismissive that’s a regular they really don’t want to admit shit do they. My parent has selective amnesia as well, you’re the better judge of what happened and how it made you feel than he is. I was also a teen with “behavioural issues” yeah no shit after what I went through. Also a little more age appropriate than parents with behavioural issues aka abusive behaviours.
 

Friday

Moderator
One of my fave analogies:

Throw a glass on the sidewalk.
Apologise to it.
Do the shards magically reform into an unbroken glass?
What about if you’re reeeeeally careful with every other glass, or only use plastic, or, or, or? Does that go back in time and unbreak the first glass?

Actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are profound, permanent, or long lasting.
 

caroline_13

Confident
I should be fine shouldn't I? I don't want to cause my dad guilt . He has done more than enough to repair things between us although when under him abusing my mum and sister I am tempted to cut contact. Maybe to make him realise how damaging he is being to them. They are high functioning compared to me but they do struggle and I feel angry that they have to feel bad.

But for me...I worry I am milking this somehow. My symptoms are real but why aren't I better?
The abuse is still happening, you're still somehow feeling that you are the problem.

You're not the problem. I agree with so much of the other responses that have posted.

Minimize the contact as much as you can: you cannot fix other people.

You cannot fix other people. You can only help yourself.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I also feel bad because really my dad is lovely to me now.

I should be fine shouldn't I? I don't want to cause my dad guilt . He has done more than enough to repair things between us
I could have written this. My dad was an abusive *ss, all of my life. At some point, though, he started trying really hard to patch things up. He was kind, careful with what he said and did, and just a generally nice person to be around (I never cut him off, but my sister did, and she cut me off, too, for maintaining contact with him).

I am tempted to cut contact. Maybe to make him realise how damaging he is being to them
Do what you need to do, but do it for YOU. For me, the relationship I needed was the one between him and me. Setting boundaries for yourself, so you don't tolerate being treated in an abusive way is also essential. It took only twice of me walking out when he raised his voice for him to stop.
My symptoms are real but why aren't I better?
We don't just get magically better once we've done some therapy and the person who was the cause of our issues is nice. There are years of trauma built up, and you don't just get rid of that overnight.
You’re father obviously still has a lot of work to do. He’s still abusive.
This is true. In my situation, my dad was no longer abusive in any way to me, and I thought it was important to maintain the relationship (and was grateful I did when he died).

I also made it clear whenever he said a negative thing about my mom that I would not hear that. That he would not get my time or attention if he continued abusive talk.
 

sylvie

New Here
It’s not that simple sadly😔 The actions of people we trust and depended on, who are supposed to protect us hurts us to our core and stays embedded in there as well as our subconscious. We grow up thinking what they have taught us is right because they are the parents and as their children we are supposed to do as we are told and have no say. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you will figure out what you need 😊 Take care.
 
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