My Father called me in a rage. He was name calling, threatening and very mean. He refused to give me any examples and I advised I felt blindsided. I believe now it has to do with confronting him about physical abuse when I was a minor. I thought it went well he admitted it without deny or excuses, he did not apologize, but it did not get hostile and said ‘I love you’ when saying goodbye. He has been distant. But he started bringing up the past and telling me how I am not good enough. He’s been very angry and bringing up my step-sisters baby shower. I do not remember saying I couldn’t go and them changing the date. And they apparently changed the date for me??? And then I still didn’t go. This is the first time in 1.5 years that I was made aware of an issue. I truly do not remember the date being changed. I got her a really nice expensive gift off her registry and wrapped it and made sure it was there before her shower so she could open it. I’ve been told I did it out of spite. I don’t understand the anger. Her and my step Mom never went to my baby shower and I never made a deal about it. They didn’t get me anything off my registry. I would have had to drive 5 hrs to the baby shower and for mine it was a 10 min drive. I am not a spiteful person. I had very good intentions. I can’t ever seem to please my Father and I never feel like I am enough. He threatened if I bring anything up or start anything at Thanksgiving I will never be invited to his house again (my childhood home). I have never had a confrontation at any holiday party. I am unsure how to proceed. I know if I don’t go to Thanksgiving he will be angry and there’s a chance he won’t celebrate Christmas with me or my family. I thought about commuting 3 hrs to just go for 2 hrs to please him and so my children can see family on Thanksgiving. He accused ME of being manipulative and I remind him of my Mother, I am my mother and I’m just like my Mother. I am finally in a place in my life where I have realized what affects his physical, emotional, verbal abuse has caused. I honestly didn’t realize how bad it was until this last phone conversation. I needed to peacefully confront him about the past face to face and since he’s been with his wife I am unable to hangout with him one on one. I believe they are codependents, but he’s a grown man. I think he’s angry I did it in front of his wife, but I was unable to speak with him alone. It was not before an event or holiday. I have forgiven him, now he’s retaliating.

You may be a glutton for punishment. You seem to be continually tolerating abuse. Abuse by relatives is still abuse and it should not be tolerated. It’s not okay to tolerate anyone’s abuse. Not from a father. Not for a mother, not from a sibling, and so forth. No one has the right to abuse you.

Mental health wise, it may best to limit your contact with your family. They seem to be always upset with you. Nothing you do is ever right with them. I suspect that it has probably been this way for a long time.

Your confronting your father about the abuse may have made things worse. It may or may not have been the right thing to do. Since, I don’t know the details, it’s difficult for me to comment. Sometimes, confrontations are not appropriate. Again, I don’t know the specifics about what happened, but it may have been better to have not said anything at all.

You mentioned that this latest issue might disrupt your Thanksgiving. You’re worried about them causing a scene or confronting you during the holiday. The question becomes, why would you go? It’s unclear to me why you purposely choose to spend time with people who abuse you. Are you only going because you are worried that they will cut off ties with you? Or punish you in some other way? If so, it would seem that you are motivated by fear. That would indicate that they still have power over you. They have power over you because you allow them to have that power.

In the case of your father, you’re worried about how he will react so you give in to his demands. Your concern about his reaction seems to be what’s motivating you to behave in a particular way. That’s the kind of power he may have over you. If so, it’s wrong and you can change it.

This is the ideal problem to work through in counseling. Many people find counseling helpful for these types of problems.

The reality is this: your father abused you. He continues to abuse you. You don’t have to tolerate it. If you do change your behavior towards your father or other members of your family, they’re going to be upset with you. Even if they are upset with you, you have to do what’s right, what’s best for you. Sometimes that can be difficult which is why I’m recommending counseling to help you learn a better way to navigate this difficult family dynamic.

As for going to the Thanksgiving dinner, I can’t make the decision for you but you should never knowingly put yourself in an abusive situation. Maybe do what you want for Thanksgiving instead. Try being with people who love and cherish you, instead of with people who are angry and attempting to manipulate you. It would make for a much more pleasant holiday. Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle