Trying to shake off pain of rageful and now drunk dad

Justmehere

Moderator
My father was at times very angry and physically abusive. There are other times he was actually pretty good at the whole Dad thing. He drank now and then, usually was chill when he had a beer in his hand. Didn't strike anyone as problematic drinking. His father was an alcoholic and we grew up with some awareness that it destroyed the relationship between my father and my grandfather. My father's anger was well known as being a big issue. It only worsened over the years. In the alcoholic family system, I was the scapegoat. Target. Black sheep. As an adult, many have apologized for enabling my father and allowing me to be abuses as a child, and yet no one has stopped enabling him. I mostly moved out to stay with a friend's family by 16. I did very well at school... but a few years later, as an adult, my father decided one day, quite out of the blue, I was no longer his daughter anymore. He would not act as if I existed. He cut me off. For many years, we did not speak. I tried, he was unwilling. About 8 years ago, I decided to stay at my parent's house for Christmas, as invited by my parents. My father and I spoke. My sister in law came in yelled and screamed about my leashed dog being there at my parents house, which she knew would be the case long before she came over Christmas Eve... and 8 months later, my brother expressed he felt he had a choice between my father and his new daughter, my sister in law, or me. He felt he had to choose him. Everyone in the family system supported it. My brother used to say he was the "golden child who could do not wrong while you were the black sheep that could never be perfect enough."

My mother and I have maintained a complicated relationship.

This year, my cousin died and my brother, who had pretty much no contact with my cousin, flew out to attend the funeral. My father and mother did too. Super weird. My father started acting friendly, and my bother, distant to my father.

1.) The extended family was there, all saying they had forgiven me (for what?). I didn't ask, too much to take in. First family event in 8 years. Too much to have all these weird conversations. I was just trying to get through. It was really hard to hear about all the events I wasn't invited to attend.

2.) My father is a drunk. Blazing alcoholic. Wet brain. Seeing my mother around it, who also grew up in an alcoholic home, was shattering. Just shattering. The man I knew, all the good and bad, is mostly gone under a blur of drunkenness. Extended family confirmed they were concerned as well, it's been going on awhile... and f*cking bought him alcohol.

3.) My brother and I spoke. Just us. He said he and my father do not speak, and it was a recent change. My father went after him. "He always used to go after you. I thought I could control him. He had never directed it to me before. I now understand why you responded the way you did." He explained he cut off our parents from watching his children every day - they had been taking care of my brother's kids in the pandemic while he and his wife were at work. No more. Suddenly, my mother is only allowed access 30 minutes once a month. No access for my father. (I told him I would support those boundaries and any safety boundaries he needed.) My brother will not even let her around the kids because she won't even admit, never has, that my father has a problem. My brother was really super indifferent about maintaining contact with me. He point blank said he wasn't against it or not, just felt indifferent and sucks at staying in touch. I sent an email about a conversation with our mother about my father's drinking, just as an FYI, and threw out a bone I'd like to stay in touch. No response. That's been my only contact in 6 months.

4.) My sister in law reached out to say she was glad we connected, her kids ask about me. I send a friendly reply. That was it.

5.) My father is now "allowing" my mother to admit I exist and is doing other things to sort of be a little nice about me. It's super weird. He's mellow drinking. But as I explained to my brother, likely facing withdrawls that is making the rage worse... and thus for him to lose it or grab a beer at 9am and it will get worse until he gets help or dies.

My mother usually spends Christmas with me, but the pandemic has canceled that plan. She is lamenting about how horrible it is to be alone during the holidays without family - despite her putting me through that to please my brother. She's told me for years to go "find your own family" - something I have utterly failed at doing. Now she's in bad shape spending holidays alone with him. She doesn't think he has any problems, that this is all a "little disagreement with your brother" and yet sobs she can't see her grandkids but denies anything is wrong. She's super dissociative and affected by trauma from her childhood and sometimes she struggles to know what day or year it is... Trying to talk to her about any problems about anything is very difficult. Even small problems like anxiety about a winter storm take a lot of carefulness for her to actually talk about. Big stuff? Simply not possible at this time.

The whole thing is getting to me. I'm depressed, alone, dealing with so much crap in my life. I have been through horrible trauma 100 times worse than anything my father did. But all this is what I am having nightmares about lately. I don't know what to do with all of this. I wake up at night sometimes in a panic about it. I don't know what to do. I have no delusions or goals that I can stop my father from drinking or change anyone in this effed up family. I have solid boundaries in place. I have very little contact. I live far away. But I'd like to respond somehow, engage, but I don't think it would be reciprocated. Knowing this, I'm trying to just shrug it all off, find whatever is family for me... which I'm failing at...

I have been through so much crap, so much... and yet this, of all things, is the one thing haunting me right now. I can't seem to find footing. I'd welcome any thoughts.
 

Friday

Moderator
I have been through so much crap, so much... and yet this, of all things, is the one thing haunting me right now.
Of course it is.

Anniversaries aren’t just for Trauma-versaries. The same gut feeling associated with “I need to start storing food for winter”, or buying presents, or cleaning house in spring, or getting ready for work in the morning? Just as easily attaches meaning, in-season & time, to other expected things.

For years and years and years you’ve had this painful clusterf*ck thrust upon you will you nil you. It makes total sense your -everything- is girding for war, right now.

My best advice is to soothe it like skittish horse. Nothing to ready for. Nothing to get het up for. This year? Is different. Shhhhhh & there now. As needed. Steady hands, and calm voice.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
It's amazing how much this subject rips me apart to even visit. My mother called to inform me my uncle died. One I had not seen for many years because of this whole cluster that is my family.

What do you want to do? And what do you want to happen?

Pie in the sky, I want to have a relationship with my brother. Most of the time, I kill that wish. Hurts too much. Even more, I want family. Whatever that means anymore, I don't know.
My best advice is to soothe it like skittish horse. Nothing to ready for. Nothing to get het up for. This year? Is different. Shhhhhh & there now. As needed. Steady hands, and calm voice.

This makes sense. I have said just these words to a skittish horse... and my being is running for an outlet.

Watching everyone around me reel from "holidays without family" due to the pandemic is super bizarre because uh, been there done that and have the scars on my heart for it. I have a whole mess of coping skills to endure it.

Being the family scapegoat sucks so much.
Yep. So much.
 

ms spock

Sponsor
It's amazing how much this subject rips me apart to even visit.
Well not to me as I have similar issues. It's that social connectedness familial stuff. It's all encompassing. Attachment issues are huge for me.

My mother called to inform me my uncle died.
So there's the shock of that which is upsetting. So that on it's own is a lot. I am so sorry that you lost your Uncle.

One I had not seen for many years because of this whole cluster that is my family.
And there is the over arching grief that comes from being familyless in so many ways. I am so sorry that you have the pain of not having contact with your Uncle because of the widespread family issues which have you being the scapegoat.

Be kind to yourself, if you can, it's a lot to be dealing with on top of everything else. You have had a lot.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
I just got pocket dialed. All of them, drunk dad, his grandkids, my mother, all hanging out again. Like nothing happened. I'm of course still being blamed for my father's issues and not included because that's that. It's not even being blamed on the easy out of the pandemic.

Of course this was going to happen. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner...

I've been told for many years this is alcoholic family behavior. Yeah. I know.

Once again, I'm in a dark dark place. I can't shake it off. My mother is sending Christmas gifts and I ask she cancel them. I'm tired of her trying gift me out of the pain. I don't want gifts. I want the pain to stop. I want to stop being hurt by them.
 

Simply Simon

MyPTSD Pro
I’ve really wanted to respond to you here, JMH, so I’ve kept this tab up since the thread started, but I still haven’t found the energy to say everything I want to say to you.

My mother has become increasingly lacquered in sentimentality as the holidays wore on. She even got weirdly wistful around Christmas (our family is very, very Jewish? Orthodox in my childhood—big time). She and my father bought a house with my cousin, who is newly divorced and has joint custody of her two girls. All that is to say she inhabits a house with more family than she has since I was 16.

Anyway, she’s pouring out her guts about how sad it is that we can’t be together. It’s not that I don’t get invited to anything exactly so much as they finally stopped inviting me to things because they knew I wouldn’t come or even respond, as they—the family as a whole, except for my dear cousin they now live with, which is its own can of shit worms—refused to not invite my brother.

I find her naked sentimentality repulsive on so many levels, but talking about what a terrible shame it is to be separated from her family during important events was just too much. I couldn’t believe she didn’t have the sense to think about her selfishness before saying such stupid shit to me of all people: me, who was an outcast as a teenager for not wanting to live with her rapist, who drew the line so long ago that if they wouldn’t choose me actively, they were choosing him actively.

Again, there is so much I wish I had the energy to write back. I’ll just leave it at this for now.

The kind of grief that comes from banishment is enormous and abiding. Even if you cut all ties completely, it mutes it a little, but it cannot extinguish the grief nor close the schism created by that grief.

As my therapist so kindly said, I will always carry the burden of this open wound so long as the people who perpetuate this grief and I will live. It never stops. It is not resolvable. I am tied to them forever, and nothing can undo that.

I wish I could say something that might bring you more comfort, but the truth is, the best news I can try to impart to you is the truth that I know. You are not alone.
 

ms spock

Sponsor
My father was at times very angry and physically abusive.
So there's that...

Which causes one type of insecurity and confusion...
There are other times he was actually pretty good at the whole Dad thing.
Then there's this causing mass confusion as well.
He drank now and then, usually was chill when he had a beer in his hand. Didn't strike anyone as problematic drinking.
But his absence was always there...

He was so absent because of his own pain... or whatever...
His father was an alcoholic and we grew up with some awareness that it destroyed the relationship between my father and my grandfather.
So he had no capacity to be a Father as he never learnt from his own Father on how to have relationships. He didn't know how to be in himself. So he had to medicate himself so he could be there. So really he was never really able to be there. So there's that loss of his Father never being there with him, he never being there with you. And then him putting his stuff onto you and really making you pay for being unfortunate to be a small child in his sphere.

His unresolved stuff has become what you struggle with. It's terribly toxic.

I am hoping what I did. Not having children and trying to resolve my issues will flow on to the next generation. That it will assist in intergenerational social change in terms of trauma.
My father's anger was well known as being a big issue. It only worsened over the years.
All that pain emanating out. As the scapegoat you have been conditioned, socialised and melded to feel responsible for that and at times to pay a high price for his feelings.
In the alcoholic family system, I was the scapegoat.
This is not a positive legacy to have had, to be the family scapegoat.

This has a nice example of the limbic system and how the trauma is within you. How that dsyregulates you.
Target. Black sheep. As an adult, many have apologized for enabling my father and allowing me to be abuses as a child, and yet no one has stopped enabling him. I mostly moved out to stay with a friend's family by 16. I did very well at school... but a few years later, as an adult, my father decided one day, quite out of the blue, I was no longer his daughter anymore. He would not act as if I existed. He cut me off. For many years, we did not speak. I tried, he was unwilling. About 8 years ago, I decided to stay at my parent's house for Christmas, as invited by my parents. My father and I spoke. My sister in law came in yelled and screamed about my leashed dog being there at my parents house, which she knew would be the case long before she came over Christmas Eve... and 8 months later, my brother expressed he felt he had a choice between my father and his new daughter, my sister in law, or me. He felt he had to choose him. Everyone in the family system supported it. My brother used to say he was the "golden child who could do not wrong while you were the black sheep that could never be perfect enough."
Even thought he can say it, he still doesn't get it.
My mother and I have maintained a complicated relationship.
You've done well. That's really tough from my perspective.
This year, my cousin died and my brother, who had pretty much no contact with my cousin, flew out to attend the funeral. My father and mother did too. Super weird. My father started acting friendly, and my bother, distant to my father.
Something changed in the family dynamics and the family toxicity started on a different path through the family. What role did your cousin play do you know?
It was really hard to hear about all the events I wasn't invited to attend.
That's really painful
2.) My father is a drunk. Blazing alcoholic. Wet brain. Seeing my mother around it, who also grew up in an alcoholic home, was shattering. Just shattering. The man I knew, all the good and bad, is mostly gone under a blur of drunkenness. Extended family confirmed they were concerned as well, it's been going on awhile... and f*cking bought him alcohol.
No one's role is allowed to change. So even whilst they acknowledge it they will reinforce it.
3.) My brother and I spoke. Just us. He said he and my father do not speak, and it was a recent change. My father went after him. "He always used to go after you. I thought I could control him. He had never directed it to me before. I now understand why you responded the way you did."
That's kind of bittersweet though, isn't it? But it shows how toxic that family system is - if one of my blood is being savaged and scapegoated - it's a relief it's not me - until it is a problem - when it becomes me.
He explained he cut off our parents from watching his children every day - they had been taking care of my brother's kids in the pandemic while he and his wife were at work. No more. Suddenly, my mother is only allowed access 30 minutes once a month. No access for my father. (I told him I would support those boundaries and any safety boundaries he needed.)
You are always the one there, being reasonable and responsible and supportive. That is most noble.
My brother will not even let her around the kids because she won't even admit, never has, that my father has a problem. My brother was really super indifferent about maintaining contact with me.
Watching you being shredded has meant he had to disconnect from his feelings of connection with you. It was the only way to survive in your family.
He point blank said he wasn't against it or not, just felt indifferent and sucks at staying in touch. I sent an email about a conversation with our mother about my father's drinking, just as an FYI, and threw out a bone I'd like to stay in touch. No response. That's been my only contact in 6 months.
That's really tough.
4.) My sister in law reached out to say she was glad we connected, her kids ask about me. I send a friendly reply. That was it.
She's enmeshed in it and when she screamed at you when you were there - she was trying to get you back into the scapegoat role - so her husband, your brother was out of the scapegoat role.
5.) My father is now "allowing" my mother to admit I exist and is doing other things to sort of be a little nice about me. It's super weird. He's mellow drinking. But as I explained to my brother, likely facing withdrawals that is making the rage worse... and thus for him to lose it or grab a beer at 9am and it will get worse until he gets help or dies.
This is no fun for anyone.

Th unexpressed grief of this future is a huge burden to the next generation in my opinion. Most likely having to watching him most likely progress in his alcoholism and die. It's tough going.

It's hard to change. I am so much trying, committed, doing what I can, struggling, and I am just hanging in there. I am in that flight, fight, freeze thing so much. I am trying to come out of it.

And you know how hard this is, so unless, for some reason, he really wants to change, nothing will change. You as the scapegoat, can see why folks get so attached to their racism, homophobia, bigotry and prejudice - it alleviates that psychic pain - or discharges it.
My mother usually spends Christmas with me, but the pandemic has canceled that plan. She is lamenting about how horrible it is to be alone during the holidays without family
And there's you not living without family at Xmas but most of the time. So it's not easy.
She's told me for years to go "find your own family" - something I have utterly failed at doing.
Seriously that does my head in. What a mindf*ck. Your Mother telling you to find your own family. When she is your family but also she isn't your family. No wonder you are waking up with nightmares.
Now she's in bad shape spending holidays alone with him. She doesn't think he has any problems, that this is all a "little disagreement with your brother" and yet sobs she can't see her grandkids but denies anything is wrong. She's super dissociative and affected by trauma from her childhood and sometimes she struggles to know what day or year it is... Trying to talk to her about any problems about anything is very difficult. Even small problems like anxiety about a winter storm take a lot of carefulness for her to actually talk about. Big stuff? Simply not possible at this time.
So you are still the scapegoat and still parenting your Mother as well. That makes it very hard. You are wanting to progress and sort things out, growth up, progress through the developmental stages of life, and you can't because there is no capacity for your Mother, or your brother, to go there for/with you.

To me, even though I am pretty disconnected. That's a massive psychic wound.

So that's sad and perhaps a little bit lonely?
The whole thing is getting to me.
I am really not surprised that this is so. It's a lot to be with. It's terribly sad when intergenerational trauma and family dysfunction are what you get to sit with, without or with connection. It's really shitty.
I'm depressed, alone, dealing with so much crap in my life.
That lack of family connection can be profound.

So it might be sitting with that, accepting it and then starting towards a practice of self compassion or radical acceptance. It's a profoundly sad journey in my mind. I can't almost do it, but now I have read David Burns's book I see that connection, grief, depression and sadness about my family as one of the best things about me. Showing my true and highest ethics and morals, even though it doesn't change how my family is with/without me.
I have been through horrible trauma 100 times worse than anything my father did.
The things your Father did and your family dynamics primed you for PTSD.
But all this is what I am having nightmares about lately. I don't know what to do with all of this. I wake up at night sometimes in a panic about it.
So the thing is if you have struggled with other stages of development as you move to another stage then all the pain from the previous ones reverberate together. It makes it tricky to negotiate.

I don't know what to do. I have no delusions or goals that I can stop my father from drinking or change anyone in this effed up family.
But to me it's a mammal thing. The wanting of family. The urge to be bonded and with others of your social community.
I have solid boundaries in place. I have very little contact. I live far away.
You have done it as best as you can do. But getting it right or the best that you can do, doesn't mean it feels good. That's what is so confusing.
But I'd like to respond somehow, engage, but I don't think it would be reciprocated.
That's the killer - not engaging or engaging - both are really hard. I am hoping to move out of the cycle of numbness/disconnection so at least I am here in this now.

For trauma - intergenerational trauma - there's often not a sense of being loved and present - so I am trying this one now. I did it three times yesterday. Meditation: Calling on Loving Presence (18:18 min) - Tara Brach

Tara Brach talks about trauma a fair bit in her talks which you can see on YouTube and her website. I sometimes listen and find it very comforting to have what I am going through at least known, seen and acknowledged.

Knowing this, I'm trying to just shrug it all off, find whatever is family for me... which I'm failing at...
With the traumas that you have... so based in family dynamics...that is most understandable.

I struggle with this so much. It is connected to my profound sense of dissociation, derealisation & depersonalisation.

And it's not surprising that you can't shrug it off - there's millions of years of evolution of how our nervous systems are hard wired for social connectedness.


So I perhaps spend more time talking about this rather than doing it. But then that's not true as the way I am relating to myself is changing.

The problem is when you start this you have to deal with this...

Some people find that when they practice self-compassion, their pain actually increases at first.


By doing so we reinforce the habit of self-compassion – giving ourselves what we need in the moment – planting seeds that will eventually blossom and grow. So yes I am really hoping and waiting for the blossoming and growing.
I have been through so much crap, so much... and yet this, of all things, is the one thing haunting me right now. I can't seem to find footing. I'd welcome any thoughts.
This to me, is the core, most difficult stuff.
The kind of grief that comes from banishment is enormous and abiding. Even if you cut all ties completely, it mutes it a little, but it cannot extinguish the grief nor close the schism created by that grief.
I tried to deny this for the longest time and recently have revisited this, and owning this means I am not as profoundly dissociated. I am trying to stay with it but I can only do it for short periods of time.
As my therapist so kindly said, I will always carry the burden of this open wound so long as the people who perpetuate this grief and I will live.
I wish I had had a therapist that kind and wise.
It never stops. It is not resolvable. I am tied to them forever, and nothing can undo that.
Yeppers. But better to be honest about this
I wish I could say something that might bring you more comfort, but the truth is, the best news I can try to impart to you is the truth that I know. You are not alone.
Really when it comes down to it, that's what I can really offer as well. You are not alone. At all. But that isn't much help when you are in this stuff.


If any of this doesn't resonate with you, then please ignore it. It's just an offering for what a profound thing that you are dealing with at this time.

I tried to write something meaningful but I don't know if it comes through.
 
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