How do I get over guilt of leaving my aging father's house?


I am 24, a Grad Student, and I want to move in to an apartment with my best friend.
My father is near 70, has congestive heart failure, but can function by himself. He has been depressed on and off since my mother passed away when I was 18. He has 8 kids, 6 of which are from exwives and live in another state. I am the youngest and have been the primary care giver since my mom died. He's been telling me he's dying and I have to take care of him since I was 15.
Yesterday I told him I kind of want to move out in the fall, but that I would still come by and help him out. The thing is he is mostly self sufficient, but he often plays up his illness to have me do things for him like mow the lawn, do laundry, get him sodas, ect. I do not mind doing these things for my father, but he guilts me in to doing them instead of asking, and gets mad if I do not do them on his time, and then frequently will be well enough five minutes later to go play golf with his friends or do other things.
This place is a bad place for me to live, especially now. I am very busy with school work, and I teach and have a second job. I'm busy, often. Sometimes he wakes me up at three a.m. by talking loudly to the dogs (he has six). I can not have a social life because the dogs are unruly and use the bathroom all over the house, and my father doesn't wear anything other than a robe and underwear. He gets mad when I go out, and berates me for it, even while he discusses the wild things he did as a twenty something year old. He is prone to saying racist and sexist things that make me uncomfortable and won't stop when I ask. I am unhappy here, and it has led me to being depressed for long periods of time. He is controlling. Last summer he tried to make me quit my job because he had a staph infection. I feel like I'm losing out on an important part of life, and his death is my only escape and that makes me feel even worse. Then he wants me to take care of the dogs when he dies, and though some of them are old, and won't be around long (which I hate thinking, too) whenever one does pass he picks up a younger one. He could still live for ten more years, or even more, which is great, but at the same time I feel trapped. I want to go on to get a Ph.D and am willing to obtain it somewhere close, but I also want to experience having my own space.
Am I being selfish? I caught him talking lowly of me on the phone, saying I was "breaking promises" and how he suspects I stole 500$ from him (I didn't). I need a home life that is calm, collected, and emotionally supportive and i am not getting it here. I feel like an angry teenager. Am I wrong to want to move out? I want to still help him, but live my own life. Has anyone else gone through this? How did you handle it? What did you do? Does this make me a shitty person?

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I think you should definitely go and do not feel bad about it. If it helps think if it this way-you are not helping your Dad by staying. You could be enabling his co-dependent behavior and his tendency to hoard dogs. You can move out and still be a good son-daughter(?). Maybe, probably, even better because you will be happier. Please do not let him guilt you into things. Be strong. Be kind but be strong.
Let us know how it goes!! Good luck!!!
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Thanks for the support, everyone.
Jeanne, I would leave now but I'm waiting to amass enough money for the rent, down payment, and furniture.
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Leave. Don't wait until Fall. Don't ask permission. Give notice. Offer to help make other arrangements. Then leave.

I know that you have only the best of intentions and are acting in love, but you are enabling your father to behave in ways that are not in his best interest.

Your father could live another 20 or 25 years. Do you plan to give up your life for him that long? If not, what are you waiting for?
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I agree. You should move out. My daughter is 22, and I plan to protect her from her father's care as long as possible. She is very good to both of us, makes us laugh, and nags us to get things done, but I don't want her to give up her youth any more than is necessary. To be honest, I don't want to give up MY youth to my husband's illness, but I'm 66 and can't really complain so far.

You should probably see a counselor to come up with strategies to get him to accept that he has to hire some help, and to help you process your guilt. You do have some responsibility to your father, but that doesn't mean ruining your future career and ability to support yourself and your own family.

Your father is somewhat like a child. That means that you should do what he needs, not do every little thing he asks for. He will get angry at you, and you need to learn how to hear his anger without letting it control you. If you can learn to do that, it will make you a better parent someday.

On your profile it says his problem is depression. Is he on antidepressants? that could be a big help - maybe for you too!! DRUGS!

If you're a shitty person, then so am I. My husband could live 30 years! The way he is now, that would be fine, but I know he'll go downhill, and that won't be fine. The way I deal with my fear of the future is to make sure that I am having fun now. You should make sure you have a life now.
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i would move out in a heartbeat. personally i wouldnt live in a dog kennel. you and dad may have become accustomed to the dog odor but to an outsider it would knock them off their feet. your dad shouldnt have cried wolf till he really needed help. you can never relive your 20 somethings, dont waste it on a demanding old guy and his nasty animals.. just my opinion.
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