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I am the eldest of five siblings. I live aprox one hour away from my elderly Dad who still lives at home with one of my sisters. He enjoys being independent with the assistance of that sister who runs errands and cooks. My father is 88 years old and is in remission with Leukemia. My Mom passed away almost two years ago and my Dad has had bouts of depression. Other than that, he is doing fine - does light chores and takes regular walks. He is sharp as a tack and keeps up with all the latest news and World politics.
I have been going to visit him once a week, along with my other siblings. I have never been really close to him at all, especially after years of verbal abuse. Mind you, it was occasional and not every day. He could be extremely nasty with words. And, I do mean nasty. Not only that, I've had his hands around my throat with my head pushed up against the wall with threats of "knocking my G..D...teeth in". I also recall him knocking me off a chair when I was 12 years old and dragging me by the hair of the head. The thing is, I could never figure out what I did for him to treat me this way. I never hung out with the wrong crowd and was always a good kid, never speaking back. My brother and sister closest in age to me have all experienced the same abuse and have issues with mood swings and depression - which I feel is a result of my father's anger. My younger siblings think my Dad is wonderful since they really never experienced his wrath for some reason.
Since my Mom passed away, my father had surprisingly shown interest in my life. I wanted to try to forget the past and be sympathetic for all that he's gone through over the past few years. At first, I began visiting him several times a week and lately, once a week. All was going well, friendly discussions and enjoyable conversations. There would be an occasional "dig" or insult, but I let it go. His nastiness began to resurface all over again. The last time I visited (a month ago) we were having a pleasant visit together and the conversation turned to politics. Out of the blue, he began yelling and saying my daughter was nothing but a liberal this and that and was calling her some terrible things that I can't even repeat here. I was so shocked by this, and for the first time in my 60 years, I spoke up to him and told him to NEVER speak of my daughter that way again. I was angry at myself for not walking directly out the door.
Here's the thing, and I'm feeling terribly guilty, esp being the eldest - I want nothing more to do with him. Absolutely nothing. I just want to walk away. I can't talk to my siblings about it, because the youngers siblings think he's wonderful and the other two siblings (closest to my age) have mental health issues. If I try to talk to them, I'll be told to give him a break since he's been through a lot. I look at it this way, he's just as mean and nasty as he has always been - nothing to do with aging and dementia.
I'm sorry to ramble on like this, but has anyone else had to deal with anything like this? I've really tried and tried, but just don't know what to do here.

In my Dad's case, it's not an issue of dementia, but just his usual anger coming through. I'd like walk away for good, but can't (unfortunately). Great advice from everyone. I'm going to start looking out for myself and distance myself.
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My father has paranoid personality disorder, a result of being abused and neglected as a child. In many ways, he was a good father, but he was often verbally abusive and on rare occasion physically abusive too.

For me, realizing that Dad had problems beyond his control that caused some to most of his bad behaviors helped me forgive him and even build some tolerance to the verbal abuse - at least the minor level stuff. The fact that my Dad was never neglectful (as my grandfather was of his family) helped too.

Then came the dementia when everything got so much worse. I can cope with a lot of the terrible words and threats because that is not my Dad talking - it's the dementia. But sometimes I just cannot take it. I walk away. I tell Dad "I need to leave now, see you later" and walk out the door. I tell Dad "there's no point in continuing this discussion, good-bye" and hang up the phone. I do not feel guilt about walking away and taking care of myself. I do not feel guilt for walking away and not having a big blow out with my elderly father. It's best for him too that I walk away.

If you need a summer break from your father then take it - guilt free! But beware the relatives - many of whom may try to make you feel guilty about "neglecting" dear old dad. You might want to consider taking the summer break but not announcing to anyone you intend to stay away that long. Understand that people who have not experienced abuse or seen your father doling it out will minimize your pain. Don't let anyone else's perspective undermine your own confidence.
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My Uncle was like this a charmer. My Gfather told my Aunt not to marry him but she did. Three children later and a broken up ended that marriage. He didn't abuse my girl cousins but he did abuse the boy. Until the boy was 6ft plus and my Uncle 5ft 6in. Everyone who knew him thought he was a nice guy.

You got picked because you were the good one. I do agree that Dad has some mental illness. You know what they say don't talk about religion or politics. I would stay away. Let him call you and apologize. Tell him that too.
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Thank you to Pepsee and Daughterof1930. This forum is just what I needed. I appreciate your kind thoughts and advice.
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Just chiming to in say I love GA’s thought about contacting dad through writing, calling, or texting (if he texts, my dad will never learn that!) to limit the exposure. With those methods you’re still staying in touch on your terms and you can immediately back away, hang up, if it gets nasty. Sounds good to me! Best to you...
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Hello Gina,
My Dad was mostly quiet around the 4 of us kids. I'm also the oldest, with three brothers.

He always seemed far away in his thoughts and rarely heard us when we spoke directly to him. I remember goofing around in the living room with two of my brothers, and I slipped and said a curse. He didn't even notice so we all started saying curses in front of him.....he was oblivious. That's just how he was.

One time we were all in the living room jumping around like kids do. After a while Dad jumped up like a maniac and tore the house up! Furniture flying everywhere. We hid in a back bedroom, horrified. Then he left the house. He never gave us any warning, never told us to settle down, be quite, nothing he just blew.

I might have been 9 or 10 at the time. Do you know until this day, if a man starts raising his voice, my stomach turns into a knot immediately, and I have to leave. If a guy jumps and starts yelling, I sometime vomit. Crazy right. All from that one experience! And I'm now 52.

I'm glad to hear you're done, good for you. No one should have to be emotionally damaged by other's emotional damage. Enjoy your summer!
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Thank you, Surprise! Yes, my father can turn the charm on and off. For the most part, he can come across as a great guy, but depending on who's in the room, he can easily switch into his nasty mode. Yes, I am treating myself to a break from him. I would have loved to have had a warm, loving relationship with him, but he's nothing more than a controlling narcissist.
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During my recovery from mthr's abuse, I discovered that abusers often seem so sweet to everyone else *but* the one they abuse. I have no idea why, but I don't need to know. I do need to protect myself and my children from abuse in any form. I took several timeouts in my adult relationship with mthr. She finally decided she would not put up with my husband and my rule of treating ME with the respect she did everyone else. She said she'd rather stay home, and she did that in a very dramatic and hurtful way that we successfully ignored for the sake of the children.

As an only child, I was the one called by adult protective services when she became a danger in her community. No one wants grandma running down people on the sidewalk, or curling up in a briar patch and expiring, so we rescued her and placed her in a Memory Care immediately. She's lashed out at those folks too, but they have no emotional ties to bruise.

You have made a good decision to take a timeout - don't let your siblings get under your skin either. A therapist can give you good strategies to head off their ill-conceived comments.
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Thanks, GardenArtist! I appreciate everyone's helpful advice.
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Gina, "going through a lot" doesn't cause the kind of behavior you experienced. Soldiers and law enforcement officers "go through a lot". So do nurses and medical professionals. So do homeless and poor people. They don't necessarily become abusers.

Your father isn't going to change; you can. Walk away and if you want to keep in touch, do it by non physical methods. Call, or write or text or whatever. But don't give him a chance to display uncontrolled hostility and emotions in person.
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Thanks, Barb. Detaching from him, for sure. I am giving myself a summer off from my Dad. I need a vacation from his toxic personality.
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Gina; Dad definitely sounds mentally ill in some significant way.

Most professionals will tell you that an adult child who has been abused or neglected SHOULD NOT do hands on care of that parent.

Detaching with love, walking away, however you want to frame it, it sound like you need to limit your exposure to him. And yes, seeking therapy at this time, is an excellent idea.
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Thank you for your advice. I've taken enough and am ready to walk away at this point. I just wish it didn't have to be like this.
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I agree with Ahmijoy. Yeah, you're dad's been through a lot, but we all have. There's NO reason for physical assault or verbal assault. Your siblings either have never had to tolerate his abuse (lucky them) or they're incapable of understanding it. I understand your feelings of guilt, but you don't deserve them.

GOOD FOR YOU for standing up to him!

If he's incapable or refuses to help himself to be a better dad or human being, there's no reason to subject yourself to his abuse. You owe him nothing. Counseling may help you understand it's okay to walk away--with no guilt.
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Thank you. I have often wondered if he is bipolar. I've compared him to Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde - one moment he's fine and the next, he is angry and lashing out. I appreciate your help.
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It sounds like Dad is bipolar. Has he ever been tested? Sharp mood swings, depression...both are symptoms. You may want to speak with bis doctor and tell him/her what you’ve observed.

If you don’t want him in your life any longer, I can’t think of any reason why you should maintain a relationship with him. He sounds like a toxic, unpredictable person. Your siblings don’t sound very supportive either. If you’ve never gotten professional counseling before, now is the time.
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