(Closed) Pretty long: Considering reaching out to my estranged father…

posted 6 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
1844 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

  You have always given really great advice to me when I’ve needed it, so I’m going to try to do the same for you.

  Part of it comes down to if you’re ready to accept any response from your dad, positive or negative. My cousin was estranged from her father for years (for different reasons). They reconnected, things were going well, but when she made a decision that went against what her father wanted…he dropped her. Are you prepared for more (or less) than what you hoped for? If he wants a relationship with you and your Darling Husband, are you prepared to handle that? Or, if he doesn’t want anything to do with you, are you comfortable with that?

  In terms of your mom, I think you would be doing the right thing by telling your mom what you’re going to do. I think if you are clear with your intentions, she may be hurt for a little bit, she might be angry, but hopefully, she would understand that you do want to get to know him a little. It’s not saying that you’re replacing her with him…you want to know a little more about your background. If she didn’t want you to have any contact AT ALL, she wouldn’t have shown you the FB pictures.

  It’s a really, really tough situation. I would definitely continue to give it some thought. Keep us posted.

Post # 4
2104 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Shoot, part of me wants to say that he’s an adult and if he wanted to pursue more of a relationship, he’d call for more than just wanting some papers signed by your mom.  But the very end of your post makes part of me think it’s possible he may want to develop a relationship with you.  He may feel some regret when he looks back upon his life and realizes what he gave up and missed out on, but he may also think that things are damaged beyond repair and thus isn’t putting the effort into seeing what could be.  

I think taking some time to meditate and do some soul searching first might help a little… think about the repercussions (both good and bad) of possibly bringing this man back into your life.  If he lets you down, will it have been worth it?  If he exceeds your expectations, if you have any, will you be happy or just more pissed at how much he screwed up?  Make sure you’re making a decision as much with your head as with your heart.  

If you do want to reach out a little more, maybe start by asking him if he’d be interested in slowly rekindling a relationship with you.  Good luck, whatever you decide.  I can only imagine how torn you feel over this.

Post # 5
494 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I think you should give it a shot.  You’re right – what do you have to lose?  Either he will continue to behave selfishly and you will think to yourself “Well this isn’t worth the time” or you will develop some sort of relationship with the man.  It sounds like this is something you would like to do, something that you have given a lot of thought and I think there’s a strong possibility you might kick yourself further down the road if he passes away and you never made an attempt.  Something similar happened with my father – his Dad was an alcoholic and they never had much of a relationship and OMG he was just devastated when the man died.  He still talks about how he wish he had tried to get him know better later in life.  Your Mom might be hurt but your relationship with her will always be a million times better and more important than the one you have with him.

Post # 6
580 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@UpstateCait: I read it! 🙂

I think my advice will be clouded by my own experiences. In my case, I’ve tried with my father. He still sees me as the little 6 year old girl I was when he last saw me properly. My mother threw me out when I was 17, I tried to reconcile before she died and she rejected it. At least I tried!

So, bearing that in mind, you may want to think about how you would feel if you didn’t reconcile if something happened. Of course your mum may be upset, but you have to think about what you want, I think.

Best of luck either way.

Post # 7
2786 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

OK, so let me start off by saying your mom sounds beyond incredible and strong, and I love women like that who kick ass and do what they have to do, especially since she did it at a time when it was nearly as “accepted” as it would be today.

Secondly, let me say that while I have people I am very close to with similar situations I haven’t been throught his myself, so my advice and thoughts are clouded by own experiences.

A lot of things in your post stood out to me, but the two that really did are a) you know how much your mom has done for you, and you truely appreciate and cherish her for it, and b) you still have a lot of anger towards your dad (don’t blame you one bit).

I have a lot of confidence that your mom knows all of this. If she is even half as wonderful as you describe her as being, I honestly do think she will understand your need to know your dad. It’s only natural, especially as we get older and start our own families to want to understand where we come from…and makes us who we are. You’re not looking to be BFFs with the guy…you just want to get a better idea of who he is, and what that side of your lineage looks like. Honestly, tell your mom everything you just said, and while it may still  bug her, I honestly do think she would understand. She sounds like someone who truely wants what is best for you, and wants you to  be happy. She might not have an easy time with it, but I do think she’ll come around.

Secondly, in terms of your dad. You might never really get to know the “him” he was when he was with your mom, or even when you were a kid. Alcoholism changes a person..as does any addiction. And the person he was is probably not the person he still is. Odds are, frankly…he’s probably going to let you down if you place any kind of expectations on him….and since he’s your dad it might be really hard not to. Of course he loves you and cares about you (as evidenced by your last paragraph), but like you said….he cares about the bottle more. As I’m sure you know, alcoholics are selfish people.

If you honestly think you can handle having a relationship with him without giving up any of yourself, then I say absolutely go for it. I just think you should tread so carefully because I think you stand to get hurt here, and I’d never want to see that happen 🙂

Post # 8
4803 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

That is a really tough one, and I certainly wouldn’t fault you if what you choose is not the same as what I would do…but if I were in your shoes, I would want nothing to do with him. My dad’s father is a lot like yours – took off after divorce, never contacts them, when they do talk he always wants to make it about money, and he has shown absolutely zero interest in the life of my dad or me and my brother, his grandchildren. Just a few years ago my dad re-established contact with him, and my dad still calls him occasionally on holidays, his birthday, etc. I’ve met him a few times. But despite my dads efforts, his father still is never the one to intiate contact. My dad calls on his dad’s birthday, but he never gets a call or card or anything on his. And when he does talk to him, yeah, it’s all about money and his life, he turns every conversation back into one about how hard his life has been. Honestly, the man sickens me.

So I guess you just have to ask yourself is potentially dealing with all that…you putting yourself out there, with the high possiblity of him making zero effort back, and your mother probably being a bit hurt, are worth the chance at having a relationship with him. To me, it wouldn’t be, based on how he has always treated you (and your mother – I’d feel pretty defensive about his treatment of her if I was in your shoes). But I’m sure that is easier for me to say as someone who is close with both of my parents. Like I said, I wouldn’t fault you if you decide to try, he is your dad…but I don’t think I would do it.

Post # 9
827 posts
Busy bee

I wouldn’t reconnect.  He doesn’t deserve it.  Stay on your mom’s side and don’t do anything that could just lead to more heartache.  I don’t believe people are obligated to love their parents or keep trying to have a relationship with their parents just because they’re their parents.  If they don’t deserve love, you don’t give it to them. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that my response is likely biased (I would love to have my father out of the picture), so make of it what you will.  

Post # 10
4193 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

Would you be comfortable sharing what you posted with your Mom? At first, I was going to say- share the second paragraph. Then- you really should share the third with her, too- about the love and respect you have for her, and how you don’t want to do something that would hurt her.

You’re correct that neither Darling Husband or your Mom might support your decision to reach out- but yes, this is something for you. It sounds like you might regret not trying, at least. Good luck!

Post # 11
1029 posts
Bumble bee

My dad and I have a very similar relationship due to very similar circumstances, so I totally know how you feel. My parents divorced when I was 13 or 14 (I’m 24 now), and my dad and I were never really that close to begin with. He would drink and get very violent towards me, my sister, and my mother. He was either completely cold and distant or yelling and screaming. I was very upset about the divorce at first, but I knew it was for the best at the same time. Luckily, my mom found a wonderful man and has since re-married, and I consider him more of a father than my actual father is.

Now that I’m a grown woman, I have no idea how to handle the situation with my dad. He moved halfway across the country to live with his girlfriend, so I never see him. I think the last time I saw him was for my college graduation 2 years ago. We call each other on holidays but that’s pretty much it. I don’t think our relationship will ever be anything more than an awkward 20 minute phone call once every 6 months. My sister won’t even speak to him. She was older and witnessed a lot more abuse than I did.

I have the same questions that you do. Should I try to make my dad a bigger part of my life? It’s been almost 12 years since the divorce, but I’m not ready to pretend everything is okay yet. It’s really unfortunate though because I would love him to meet the man I plan to marry or at least know he exists. They have a few similarities (which kind of worries me) and I was hoping resolving things with my dad would make the similarities between them less unsettling. My boyfriend isn’t abusive like my dad, but they have similar mannerisms, and whenever my boyfriend is distant or angry, I instantly associate that with how my dad was, and I don’t want to go through my whole life doing that.

I’m hoping when I get married and have kids, he will try to be more involved with me in order to get to know his grandchildren, but who knows. Neither my sister nor I have and kids yet, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I wish you all the best with whatever you choose to do. You don’t have to contact him if you don’t want to, especially if it doesn’t feel genuine. I don’t know if you feel this way as well, but I’d rather have no relationship with my father than a forced false one. Feel free to message me if you need to vent or commiserate. 🙂

Post # 13
1513 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

definitely a tough situation to be in 🙁 i really applaud you for being so caring to your mom and being so open to even considering forgiving/reconnecting with your dad. i say that you should have a long, honest talk with your mom about all the things you are feeling and wondering and even what your concerns are for her… and i definitely would say you should try to spend sometime with your dad, even if nothing comes of it, at least you know you tried.

i cant completely relate to your situation, but i will say there was a long period of time i would not have called my father and i “close”. we lived in the same house and he was married to my mother, but i would go weeks without seeing him. when i did he was often exhausted and/or cranky (or when i was very young, drunk. he quit when i was 6 or 7, but i still remember those times clearly). i felt my father was a provider, but my mother was my only true parent.

when i was graduating high school, she started really pushing for my dad and i to reconnect and we tried a little. within a year she had passed away and i was left with only him. i am thankful that we had built some sort of foundation before that, because it really helped me build a realistic set of expectations for our relationship going forward. i know that my dad loves me and i know the ways in which he is limited as a parent. i dont expect him to be a parent like my mom was, but i have been thankful for these last 10 years that i got to know and understand him.

i know my situation is totally different, but i share it because i often used to play the “what if” game and imagine it had been my dad who diied instead of my mom, and honestly if he had at that point, i feel i would have been left with nothing but regrets and old stories of a man i barely knew.

Post # 14
6019 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2017

@UpstateCait:  Ok I only read your original post so far… This hits so close to home. My father did not drink which in some ways makes it even worse. As much as I do not agree that there is any excuse for not being there for your children I think it at least gives an explanation when a disease like alcoholism is involved. It truly is a sickness and becomes the main focus for someone who suffers from it. My dad didnt have that. He just didnt want to be a parent to put it bluntly. I almost wish there was something I could blame his absence on and there just isnt. My mother raised both me and my sister on her own for the most part. My little sister has more memories with my dad than I do. He was not around for majority of my younger childhood and it was not until my sister was born that he started to grow up some. My parents were always on and off but there was a small period of stability when my sister was first born. After that it was back to him being in and out of our lives which to me was worse than him being gone completely. I took the brunt of things between my sister and I. She was so small…so when the fighting would happen and the yelling and abuse would go on I would take my sister into her room and play music and dance or do something silly and loud so she was unaware. But I knew. It wasn’t until she was older (around 18) and we were fighting because she did not agree with my choices and basically said I had no reason to struggle as much with certain issues that I struggled with, And at that point my mother explained to her that htere was a lot of things she didnt know about and it was all thanks to me. After that things changed and she got it, but I guess thats besides the point lol. At the age of 18 I hit my breaking point with my father and was sick of him only being around when he wanted to try and discipline me, it drove me mad that he did nothing to help us but wanted the respect and authority of being my father. So I just broke one day and told him very simply “I will always love you, you are my father, but I will not always agree with you and I sure wont always like you. you will never ever again tell me what to do in any way shape or form. Period”. And from that point on for the next few years (about 5 or 6) we just did not talk much. It was not until my son was a few years old that I decided to get over it all and reach out to him. So.. with alllllllll of that said, here is what my thought process was…

My childhood sucked, but it is the past. There is nothing I can do to change it. And he cant either. I knew no matter how horrible he was to me as a kid I would not be able to live with myself if something happened to him and we were still on bad terms. He is not getting any younger and I have a child that does not know his grandfather. it was a choice I made to just let the past go. It was not a process for me it was just a choice. I never really dealt directly with the things that I didn’t get from him, but instead found my own fullfillment through therapy and prayer. I will never get what would be needed from him for me to really get closure and that I think was what I needed to accept. Being angry did not help me. It hurt me more. So I let it all go. I accepted whatever relationship I could get from him, not because he deserved that from me but because doing it any other way is just not who I am. I am not him. I am not ok with not being around for him as he ages. I also know I would regret it if I never tried. At least I will always know I did the right thing and my actions are actions I can live with no matter what. We have a good relationship now. It is not the traditional father daughter relationship but its pleasant and now that I am older I do feel he loves me in his own way and ironically he is a fantastic grandfather which of course makes me very happy. My mother was always of the mindset that it was our choice to make. She apologized for her role in things as far as my childhood goes and given all she did for me it was an easy choice to forgive her for her shortcomings when it came to choices regarding my dad. So for me that aspect was easy, she left it up to me and I handled things as I saw fit. I feel like if your mom respects you as an adult and as her daughter she will just be supportive. it is understandable that she may struggle and there may be some hurt feelings but you have to do what you need to do to be ok with yourself and your choices. Regret is horrible. sometimes unbearable. So as long as you are making choices that make you happy, that is all that matters. Youc annot control how he will react but if you try you can at least find peace knowing you tried and it was not because of your own refusal that you guys did not reconnect. I am very happy I tried and things worked out as best as they could.

Good luck and I hope you find some peace with this situation. Its such a hard thing to deal with but I think you have a good head on your shoulders and will handle it as best as you can. Thats all you can do! good luck girlie!


Post # 15
1274 posts
Bumble bee

That is a tough situation to be in. Hugs first 🙂

I think maybe your mom would understand. She was the one who sent you the photo from Facebook of your dad right? Maybe you should take that as her way of extending the olive branch. She wanted you to see that photo. I think I would have a conversation with your mom and let her know how you are feeling (a lot of your first posting could be shown to her as PPs have said). Your mom sounds like an amazing woman who raised a wonderful person, that’s you! Even though you were treated not so well by your father, your post is one of compassion and understanding and wanting to give someone a second chance to get to know them. I think it’s brave of you. I hope that if you do choose to reach out, that your father will realize what he’s missed out on. I can’t speak on the alcoholic front – but I guess it’s always possible that people can change or get help.

I also think that getting to know your dad’s family could be a good thing, for you and your soul. It’s not their fault that your dad turned out the way he did and unfortunately because of his decisions, they’ve lost out on time with you too. I’m an only grandchild on my mom’s side too, so I imagine it was hard on them. 

Whatever you choose, be strong and keep us posted, there’s a lot of support here if you need it. 🙂 

Post # 16
513 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

If I had been writing this to you last year I would have advised you to leave it alone BUT at this point in my life I guess I would tell you to reach out IF it is what you want and feel….

My own father left when I was 13 and the divorce went on for almost 10 years due to various things – he did not want to see us and eventually I stopped seeing him altogether… roll on 25 years and and after opening my eyes to my mother realised that all the things I had been told as a child were not the 100% truth about my father!!! after 25 years of no communication I felt in my heart that I needed to make contact – we now talk on the phone and email as we live in different countries but it is a relief to me to FINALLY get his side (and I am well aware that there are 2 sides to a story). 

My father is now 75 this year and will give me away at my wedding 🙂  life is so short and I lost all those years due to a multiple of situations that were controlled for me by others!! 

Do what is RIGHT for you and you alone in this so that you will have peace in your life. 

My mother is still dealing with my revalation that I am in touch with him and now chooses to keep her distance from me!! But again I knew this prior to contacting him and was prepared for any outcome. 

Good Luck

The topic ‘Pretty long: Considering reaching out to my estranged father…’ is closed to new replies.

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