My father was VERY verbally abusive when I was growing up. He had his favorite insults, which are burned into my brain: “scumbag”, “liar, cheater, stealer”, “do nothing taker”, “loser”, “thunder thighs”, among others. Ever since he stopped drinking a couple of years ago, his behavior has improved immensely, but he still uses insults regularly. Oftentimes, they are directed to women on TV. His new favorite word is “bimbo”. Although I am glad to not be the direct target of his insults, it still makes me very uncomfortable because he has a wife, two daughters, and two granddaughters. I have admonished him before about using this derogatory language in front of my nieces, but he just continues to do it.
I attempted recently to help my parents downsize their house and move closer to my sister and me. My mother was very interested and even excited at the opportunity. It is an understatement to say my father was NOT. He barely would even entertain the idea and because I was the person who introduced the topic, he became angry with me. One day he told me that he and my mother got into an argument about moving and yelled at me that I “ruined his life”. A couple days later he called me a “scumbag daughter”. Both of these comments were completely unprovoked by me.
It REALLY bothered me for several days that he told me I ruined his life. Obviously I can see the irony in this statement, considering he ruined the majority of my childhood with his alcoholism and abuse. It also hurt my feelings because I was honestly just trying to help them by telling them about the opportunity to live near their grandchildren, who they are with every day. I also feel so bad now because I could tell my mother was genuinely excited at the idea and my father was so nasty about it. He was completely unwilling to compromise and when my sister tried to have a conversation with them about it at the dinner table, she said he got irrationally mad and lunges towards my mother. It is just unacceptable that he is using insults and fear to manipulate us and still has most of the power in our family. I am just as guilty as my mother and sister of not putting him in his place. We all just let him get away with what he says and how he acts.
AND the worst part of it all? He forgets. He says these hurtful, horrible things and then claims he doesn’t remember. A few days after he made the comment about me ruining his life, I brought it up and he was like “I didn’t say that”. It doesn’t seem like gaslighting, he genuinely seems like he doesn’t remember. It’s so frustrating. How do you hold someone accountable for something when they claim they don’t remember even doing it? I don’t know if he is lying or genuinely forgets, but it honestly doesn’t matter because the damage is done. Every time I start to feel comfortable in a normal father-daughter relationship with him, he does something like this to remind me that it will never be a normal relationship and I always need to be on guard with him.
He told my mother that he wants to continue living in their house and die there. He will most likely get his way about that, at the expense of the happiness of his family.