Parent Therapy

I called my father this morning just to say hi. He told me that he was very upset because he and my mother got into a giant argument last night. Apparently, things got very heated and he said he was afraid my mom was going to hit him. This is absolutely mind-boggling if you know anything about my family (long story short, my father abused my mother for many years during drunken rages, but had stroke last year and stopped drinking and is pretty calm now and my mom would literally never hurt a fly). I tried to explain to him that my mother has A LOT of hostility towards him (rightfully so) and that he has to be more patient and less critical of her.

Then I called my mom to hear “her side”. She said that she just lost it during the argument and felt like she snapped. She said she finally walked out of the room and went to bed because she felt like she couldn’t breathe. This has been a recurring health problem of hers lately that I am thinking might be attributed to stress. I talked to her for quite some time and told her my opinion, which is this…

For whatever her reasons were, she decided to stay with him through all those years of abuse. No one, least of all me, thought my father would EVER stop drinking, but he did. Now, he is not currently going to win any father of the year or husband of the year awards, but things are much better than they were before. As far as I see it, my mom has three choices: 1) leave him now, which I know she won’t do 2) continue their relationship like it currently is and continue having health problems that are stress induced 3) learn to communicate with him and develop a civil relationship that ultimately is beneficial for her, for him and for our entire family. This is definitely “practice what you preach” advice because I had to make that choice in regards to my own relationship with my father. After the stroke when he became sober, I had to decide if I wanted the years of disappointment and bitterness towards my dad to continue or if I wanted to try to move past it and develop a relationship with him. I am a realist and know that I can’t just forget the terrible things he did when I was growing up, but I am grateful to have the chance to make some new, happier memories with him now. I have also had years and years (15!) of therapy, which I think has helped immensely when it comes to this.

I just worry about my mom ALL the time. I am scared something is going to happen to her because of the constant confrontation with my father. Stress affects your body in so many ways and it is really starting to cause noticeable health problems for my mother. I hate that the tide has turned and that I now worry about my parents the way they have always worried about me…it’s really hard.