For some people, the word “happy” and “father” should never be in the same sentence. Except, perhaps, to say they are happy they escaped from their father. So when many people are firing up the grill to celebrate with dad, you may be relieved that you aren’t.
If you were abused as a child, emotionally or physically, chances are your feelings of self-worth have been damaged, and that low self-esteem continues to cripple you in adulthood. Even if you survived abuse without obvious outward harm, your past can make you prone for finding partners who are also abusive. You may unconsciously seek out partners who manipulate and dominate you the same way Daddy did.
You may think you’ve developed a thick skin so you can put up with any abuse heaped upon you. You may think if you can just make your abusive partner (boss, friend, relative) happy, then you will be happy, too. You may think that if you can control your environment, including all the people in it, then you will be okay.
But the fact is, how your feel about yourself and relate to others as an adult may be the result of how your father (or mother) treated you as a child.
Did your father:
- Make fun of you, humiliate you in front of others, embarrass you?
- Continually promise you things he never delivered? Refuse to show you any affection?
- Treat you as his personal property, ordering you to obey without question?
- Dismiss any ideas, thoughts or opinions you might have with contempt?
- Never show up for any family events or school functions you were involved in?
- Fly off the handle into incontrollable rages?
- Treat your mother like a doormat?
- Abuse you verbally, physically or sexually?
Ask yourself, “If this person weren’t my father, would I have put up with his behavior?” Of course you didn’t have a choice when you were a child. But now, as an adult, if you are still suffering from your father’s abuse, it’s time to take stock. Is the emotional torment you undergo worth maintaining a relationship with your tormentor?
There are all sorts of issues to weigh—you only have one father, and you have history together. You are family. You don’t want to seem like a heartless jerk if you severe ties. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by guilt.
But sometimes there comes a point where being without a father is healthier for you than maintaining a toxic relationship. Of course, this is a decision only you can make, or make with the help of a therapist. If your father’s day isn’t so happy, consider what you can do to remedy that.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contacts.