Dear Ann Landers, My Father Had A Hissy Fit

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by jason_els, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I'm asking this question to see if anyone has ideas on how best to handle this situation.

    A few days ago my father asked me to go with him shopping today. I told him I could go in the early afternoon and would be happy to go. Yesterday he tells me he wants to leave around 10:30am. I stated quite clearly again that the early afternoon would be when I could go. This afternoon he knocks on my door at noon telling me he's ready. I told him I'd be there and so got up, showered, got dressed, and when I went to find my father at 12:30pm he had already left.

    How should I handle this incident when he returns? I felt I was quite clear, was ready at the time I said I would be, and still that wasn't good enough for him. I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to go because one of the places he wanted to go was the commissary at West Point where he has a pass to get in and the prices would embarrass even WalMart. Other than that, I just thought I'd go for fun. He has no other appointments today. He did express concern about driving in traffic but I thought I'd offer to drive if he was worried about traffic.

    I'm left feeling like he purposely created a situation in which I would disappoint him by not doing what he told me to when he told me to and I'm not quite sure how to NOT get sucked into that trap of playing this game. I don't believe I was unreasonable and feel he was. Am I wrong?

    In the past when similar things have happened he's been all too prepared to throw his disappointment with me in my face. I wasn't ready when I said I was, he wanted to avoid traffic. In my opinion he changed the rules without telling me so that he could be in a position to create this kind of situation.

    I know I need to move out, blah blah blah. Yes I do pay him a fair rent and I've bought every major appliance in the house, spent 12 years looking after his mother, and renovated half of it without asking for any reimbursement so no, this isn't remotely like a free ride here and even then I don't see how that enters into this particular situation.

    I want to break this pattern. Opt out of playing his game rather than get sucked into it. As always, the people closest to us know how to push just the right buttons to make us lose our temper and that is what he wants me to do so he can feel self-righteous about taking off without me. At least that's how I perceive it.
     
  2. B_houugadunor

    B_houugadunor member

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    Hmmm, I am guessing that if your dad has access to a commissary then there must be a military link somehow, parhaps your father.

    If this is true then I guess he is used to prompt time scales, and regardless of when you said what time you would go, he chose his own timeframe.

    I wouldnt overthink the situation, when he does get back just enquire and say you believed you were going later and you wouldnt have directly not been ready, keep the situation cool and calm and talk about it like adults, if he says he is disappointed in you, remind him it was only a trip to a glorified supermarket and its not the end of the world.

    Keep positive and stay calm :)
     
  3. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    He was only in the military full-time from 1961 to 1968. He was in the reserves for many years following though he's now quite retired.

    Thanks for the advice. I don't want to raise this issue but I'm sure he will. And people wonder why I have such low self-esteem :biggrin1:. It's a forty-one year pattern with me and him. Either I do everything exactly as he wants or I've failed. It's just ridiculous and every time we argue about it he loses his temper though now I'm old enough to beat him up so he doesn't scare me as he used to. It's just really difficult to not get sucked into the same old vortex. I find myself having to defend myself even though I swore I wouldn't get into it!

     
  4. B_houugadunor

    B_houugadunor member

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    I wouldnt worry about his approval, if he has an issue let him have one and dont bother him. Also I hope that when you say your "old enough to beat him up" you don't mean literally, if you do mean literally you should also be old enough to know better than that.

    Rise above it.
     
  5. B_cigarbabe

    B_cigarbabe New Member

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    Jason,would your dad engage in family counseling perhaps?
    Maybe it could help set some ground rules for him,and address the way he treats you,and has treated you.
    I don't see you as having failed at anything. You are one of the smartest,nicest,genuinely caring men,I have ever met!
    Truly.
    cigarbabe:saevil:
     
  6. mindseye

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    How old is he? If he was in the military during the 1960's, I'm guessing he's in his late 60's by now.

    Irritability and impatience are among the early warning signs of Alzheimer's disease. Before taking things too personally and getting upset over the situation, it might be worth going with him to his next physical and letting the doctor know of your concerns.

    I hope it's not anything serious, but at his age, it's a possibility that shouldn't be discounted too quickly, either.
     
  7. bimmli

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    Jason, I don't think you're going to like my solution....you have to leave home. At your age you should have your own home and life. Considering your father was in the military, he probably keeps high standards. I wonder if some of his frustration is that you are living at home.
    Although it isn't easy to start a new life in your 40s, it is doable and in the long run you will feel much better about yourself, regardless how your father makes you feel.
    Good Luck!
     
  8. hockeycock

    hockeycock New Member

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    I agree with you that you shouldn't bring it up. And if he tries to pick a fight, don't engage. Think to yourself "Zen, Jason, Zen!" A charitable assessment of the situation is that he got impatient and left without you. So I'd come up with a party line and stick to it, and refuse to argue it. For example, "It's too bad you left before I was ready. I would have really liked to go with you." If he calls you a decadent, late-rising bastard, just shrug. It sounds like he wants to escalate this minor inconvenience into a battle in an ongoing war. The trick is to prevent that from happening.

    I don't know how good of a shape he's in, but it could be that Dad is uneasy about you taking on a "Dad" role in his own home. You cared for the man's mother and renovated his house. Getting older and not being able to do some of the things he used to be able to do doesn't help. No one likes having to be taken care of.

    Unless you have some extraordinarily important reason to stay, I, too, think you have to get out of there. I lived with my dad for two weeks while I was between apartments a couple years ago. It was amazing how quickly I turned right back into a depressed teenager. Then when I moved back out I was my old happy-go-lucky self again. Tell the ungrateful bastard to hire a nurse.
     
  9. headbang8

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    I'm sure you two have shared a lot of game-playing pettiness in your day. But frankly, Jason, this doesn't sound like that. It's classic early Alzheimer's.

    You've looked after his mother, paid him rent and renovated his house. Do you also want to nurse him through dementia?

    Get out while you can.
     
  10. Hippie Hollow Girl

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    Jason,

    This sounds pretty familiar to me. I have a father in law that your dad reminds me of. And he is only getting worse. I also have a 40 year old brother in law that is still living at home.....and I am sure he can probably identify with you.

    What I have noticed about men like my father in law.....husband.... etc. is that when they are ready to go, they are ready to go......They hate waiting around on anyone. So, when they are ready to go.....they expect you to come get in the car that minute. My brother in law does the same thing.....when it is time to go anywhere he goes and jumps in the shower. This drives my father in law nuts......and he will leave without him.

    Unfortunately because your dad has the access (I.D. card or whatever) to the commissory...., he has the upper hand in this. Next time....try to make sure you are showered and ready to go before he comes and tells you he is ready to go. Because obviously he isn't waiting around for you to shower. Or next time.....tell him you will be ready in 30 minutes......but that isn't always going to work. He might not wait on you if he doesn't want to wait.

    I am sorry that this is happening to you. Sometimes people are a little on the control freak side.

    Your dad lost out too. He missed out on your companionship. It really isn't fun going places alone (that is my opinion).

    If you say anything to your dad......I would tell him that you really wanted to go, and you thought he understood that you needed to jump in the shower.....and when you went to get in the car you realized he was gone......and how dissappointed you were......because you were really looking forward to going shopping at the commissary and just hanging out with him. I would go for making him feel bad for him leaving you. Don't get into the yelling and screaming and name calling.

    The truth is.....you had your chance to go.....you just pushed the limits a little bit by jumping into the shower. And he didn't have the patience to wait around on you.

    I think you are going to have to deal with this crap as long as you live at home. I know I have to deal with stuff like this everytime I go home to visit my parents......or even when I go visit my husband's parents. But if I want to go somewhere and I get left behind.....I have a car and I can go by myself.

    Hope this helps.
     
  11. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Well, he's always been irritable and impatient with a hair-trigger temper.

    He refuses to seek counseling of any sort, thinks it's all a load of bullshit. My mom asked him to go 30 years ago and he refused. My sister asked him, I've asked him. Both my sisters are therapists and I've been seeing shrinks since I was 8. He still thinks it's bullshit.

    No, no joke what I said about beating him up. He used to get into rages when I was a kid and just hit me. Even broke down my bedroom door once to do it. When shit went wrong in his life he took it out on me. I wrote about this in another thread but it's beside the point. I'm trying to learn how to opt out of his games and this one out of his playbook I'm not sure how to avoid.

    Thanks!
     
  12. earllogjam

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    Jason,

    I don't get why your dad asked you to go shopping when he can drive himself if he wanted to go in the morning. Does he need you to go shopping with him for some reason? He does drive OK I am assuming.

    Anyways, most people have their idiosyncrasies and I'm sure your dad is no exception. And since you live together you can't avoid dealing with it. It doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Your dad got tired of waiting for you and went shopping on his own. When he gets back just say "How was the commissary? Sorry, about missing you earlier." And just leave it at that and just be big about it.

    If he goes into a tirade just calmly say that next time you'll drive, "When do you want to go again?". It seems like it's a rather trivial matter to get worked up about.

    After a certain age I think you are just set in your behavior and thinking so I don't think arguing is going to make any difference.

    BTW, what's the big deal about shopping at a commissary? The ones I've been to have been like stripped down versions of Kmart. Is the West Point one filled with hunky cadets?
     
  13. jeff black

    jeff black <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I was actually thinking the exact same thing. Keep an eye on him because his irritabilty could have also been caused by a small stroke, which has left him a bit confused and irritable.

    Either way, it's possible he may just have wanted to follow his own time and rules.:smile:
     
  14. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Jason seems to say this is a problem of long standing, one of temperament and not of physiology.
     
  15. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    He asked me to go a week ago. He wanted to go yesterday but I couldn't and told him that last week. The first stop was to get a closet organizer for the kitchen. He felt he could use my help getting one.

    As to the driving, well, he's from Boston so that's a matter of opinion...:biggrin1:

    Indeed. In itself it's not a big deal, just part of a larger one.

    I can't drive. His car has a DOD sticker to get. Since 9/11 West Point has been closed to the general public. I usually have to show them my ID even if I'm not driving but not always since my father was a captain in the navy and they tend to not question officers too much.

    The prices! Very dirt cheap for most items. Better than Wal-Mart and better quality. I thought he'd like me to go to help with the closet organizer and spend time and I can buy stuff at the commissary, which is helpful to me on my very tight budget.

    And all those corn-fed cadets in tight slacks don't hurt either.

    I'm just disappointed and frustrated that he decided he couldn't wait half an hour even after I told him three separate times I'd be happy to go in the early afternoon and he left right after the clock hit noon. Had he said the night before he couldn't wait until 12:30 or 1pm or whenever then I'd be OK with that. But to tell me that time would be fine and then take off anyway is just obnoxious and immature.
     
  16. thk8plus4u

    thk8plus4u Member

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    STAND YOUR GROUND.
    He needs to know that your rules are to be abided by,
    just as you followed his (I'm sure) when you were younger.
    He must show respect, or end up never knowing his own son.
    It will be his loss if he continues to ignore your wishes and do
    things his own way. If he continues, he is sure to end up a
    sad and lonely old man.
     
  17. earllogjam

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    You know what Jason, I think if I had a choice I never would have chosen my dad either. What are you to do? I just had to accept my dad for who he is, accept the fact that he wasn't going to change for anyone, not let it upset me so much and move on. It was either that or an ulcer.

    Corn fed cadets huh?
     
  18. JustAsking

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    Jason,
    This thread is full of some very good advice. I don't think I could add to it without actually knowing you and your father.

    I do have a question, though. How did you turn out so articulate, level-headed, and interesting with such a difficult father?
     
  19. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    What I can do is what I have done and that is forgive. I forgive him the years of physical and mental abuse, the mercurial temper, cheating on my mom, taking me with him drinking, and a whole lot of other things. What that has done, much to my surprise because it's one of the hardest things I've ever done, is made me indifferent to him. I don't hate him, really I don't. I don't love him either. If he were someone else, I wouldn't choose him for a friend. Without question there are worse fathers out there. I'm not claiming I'm the king of bad dads.

    What he did though, was to leave me with no self esteem, a very bad self-image, a feeling that sex was dirty and bad, and a complete lack of empathy. We have little in common though I'm more like him than I'd care to admit. Identifying and reshaping the parts of my psyche that are like him I'm working to change and that's OK. We all have things about ourselves we don't like. I'm lucky I can recognize when I pattern my behavior after his.

    Oh indeed! West point is the most beautiful of all the military academies. It's placement over the Hudson is magnificent and on July 4 they have concerts in a bowl overlooking the river complete with fireworks set off while the orchestra plays The 1812 Overture. It's one of the few venues in the US where you can hear it complete with Howitzer, as it was originally written, and let me tell you, it's a moving experience. The river is so steep on either side at that point that the shock waves from the fireworks and the Howitzers just echoes forever.

    The guys in their crew cuts are quite hot (for twinks), in great shape, and very polite. It takes great effort not to look too long.

    Heh, nice illusion isn't it? Actually LPSG is the only place I speak freely though that's changing. Like I just told someone else here, I'm not who I was six months ago. Something happened then I never thought would and it forced me to change. I'm glad it did.

    Both my parents are very intelligent people with masters degrees. My father, despite his issues, is pursuing a doctorate from Oxford right now. Like both of my parents I'm very verbal, barely mathematical. Different from either of them, I'm more worldly (like my grandmother), more subtle, and circumspect. Being of questionable sexuality quickly endows a smart kid with these talents if only to hide himself from the world. Boarding school was my refuge. When my parents began throwing things at each other and suing each other for custody on bases of child abuse, misfortune, adultery, and other things, I was away at school and the friends I made there became my family. I consciously arrived at boarding school, indeed was thrilled when my parents wanted to send me, wanting to be someone else and so I did. Those 4 years I spent emulating the boys and girls I admired as my parents didn't seem worthy. What can I say? I was 13 and 13 year olds don't know everything. My friends taught me to be less judgemental, more openly loving, and appreciative of the people in my life who make a difference. Needless to say, many of the kids I went to school with were good-looking and rich, and I do mean very rich. Old money rich. While my family (on my mother's side) was rich, I was comparatively poor to some of my classmates. My grandmother, old codger that she was, promptly got me interested in genealogy. While they may be rich, few had such remarkable pedigrees and, in her day, that counted for something. It didn't count a whit to me because nobody gave a shit about money where I went. Boarding school, and the very rich scion of my family, is where I also learned that money doesn't buy happiness. I knew so many fucked-up kids with so much money it's unreal. We'd get stoned or drunk in the places the faculty don't go and tongues would start wagging. Hell, the first girl I loved was heir to an enormous fortune BUT she had been molested by her father who was also an alcoholic who hated her mother. One night she cried and I just held her under the archway of her dorm. She'd never go out with me because she was terrified of sex but she just needed someone to love her and I did. When people you respect are in pain like that, nothing else matters. She killed herself 2 years later when she was in college but I like to think I was a gentleman. As much as I wanted her I didn't want to take advantage of her and so I didn't. Her name was Laurie Bamberger. If that last name rings a bell, you're on the right track (please note that the deceased have no right to privacy under US law). I'm one of the few people who keep her memory alive and I loved her dearly.

    So I guess the difference is that I don't shield my heart from the loves and needs of others like my parents do. That's caused me no end of pain. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is not smart in this world, but perhaps it is wise. Either way, it has made me a better person. Two psych hospitals and countless shrinks later, I'm finally accepting who I am and not tailoring myself to each person, including my family. If you want to see who I am then talk to the folks here I met in NYC. Maybe they can tell you, as me talking about it is rather a forest-for-the-trees venture. Right around six months ago something important happened to me that I never thought would again. Though it didn't work out, I got a few wonderful things from it and learned, finally, that it was OK to be me and fuck anyone who doesn't like it.
     
  20. DC_DEEP

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    At your age, you have to effect a change in how you deal with your father. You aren't still a 13-year-old, you should NOT allow him to treat you like one. It should not still be a battle of the wills with him holding the upper hand. You have got to start dealing with each other like two adults, and not necessarily two related adults.

    I don't know the details about how the two of you made your decisions about what time to leave for the shopping trip (why he felt it necessary to go earlier, why you felt it impossible to leave earlier) but you should have set a specific time - not a nebulous "early afternoon." You should have a talk with him about that specific incident, and tell him something like "Dad, I'm not really OK with how that turned out. We need to set some limits and guidelines for dealing with each other." Then be honest and firm. Tell him what you feel is acceptable, and what is unacceptable, and what you expect from him. Insist that he do the same.

    After that, no excuses - you both have to stick to your parameters.

    And you absolutely MUST hold him to the same standards you would to anyone else who is not related to you. You don't choose your parents the way you choose your friends, but you can make decisions to keep or not keep ANY person in your life.
     
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