I am struggling and could deal with some advice please from people who have been through the same thing. My dad has mental health issues that have never been treated (see above). Growing up with him was stressful and I think his eccentric behaviour, constant lies, mood swings, cruel remarks, put downs, debt etc have definitely left their mark on my sister and me. Now we are older He has never gone out of his way to visit us or keep in touch. I see him once a year and it is strained and I am relieved to get away. My issue is that he is now elderly and ill in hospital. His neighbors contacted me with the expectation that I and my sister should be caring for him. They do not know about how he can really be as keeps up an act of a 'sweet old man' we know that this isn't the case. He also moved almost 4 hours away and I gave mobility problems and it is a huge effort to physically get there. For a long time I feel huge anger towards my dad for everything he has said and done over the years. A part of me also feels sorry for him that he is now elderly and suffering. How do I cope with this? I am struggling and have issues of my own which I believe are because of my difficult childhood. I would be grateful for any advice from anyone who has been through a similar thing. Many thanks.

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I kind of hate that statement "They did the best they could".....relieving people of any "responsibility" and leaving all on the "victim". My mother, perhaps, did the "best" she could, but she created 6 broken, sick kids. I don't really blame her, but I also cannot fully absolve her from a lot of the things she DIDN'T do to protect me or my one sibling from serious abuse.
As people age, they seem so frail and incapable of harm. People who meet them in, say their 70's or later think, "Oh, this poor woman/man, no family around them in their time of need"...and the truth may be that this poor old soul spent their kids' formative years beating the C$ap out of them. We do NOT know what goes on behind closed doors. As I said, People reap what they sow.

No, it isn't fair, but it happens. Often people want to get as far away from their "triggers" as possible. I don't want to see mother suffer, and I won't let her, as far as I can help it, but I WILL NOT put my sanity on the line so she can be treated like a little queen.

Guilt ate at me for years, then one day my therapist said to me "Christ said to turn the other cheek. He didn't say "stand there and let someone beat/bully you to death". I liked that.
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RIGHT ON Countrymouse!!!!!!!

And Amy, I'm in your shoes!

".......did the best they could?" Hmpf!!, not in my case.

Love your last reply Amy, will be thinking of you, this is is sooo hard.  Aging Care has helped me tremendously!
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Thanks Countrymouse that is what I wanted to say only more clearly put.
I understand what you're saying William, we only have one father, mother and some people don't have either however we would have been better off mentally and financially had he left when we were young and we never saw him again. His words and behaviour were more than 'annoying qualities' he can be psychologically damaging. He is old now but the same personality/mental illness is there. There are lots of other things that he did which I don't want to go into but that make it difficult to be around him. It is ok to work on forgiveness for your own sanity and wellbeing but that doesn't mean you have to endure seeing the person regularly.
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The thing is, William - if something is painful to you, it doesn't really make much difference whether that pain is caused intentionally or otherwise - it still hurts, and you'd still better learn how to avoid it. That doesn't always have to be by avoiding it completely - you can, for example, metaphorically speaking, put on gloves before handling it. But thinking "he's old so I mustn't mind if he exploits or bullies or torments me" a) is not reasonable and b) can't last. Sooner or later you'll break down again, and then you'll be miserable and he'll get no practical support from you.
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Okay this is what I heard initially: I see him once a year and it is strained and I am relieved to get away; then I heard things like, never was treated... and I am warming up to the narcissism approach, and understand that it was stated have mobility issues and even 4 hours away could be difficult to manage, keep tabs on aging parent.

Depending on age, even a doctor depending on patient's level of health issues or recent falls or ER requirements, which increase visits to 3 or 6 months. Several thoughts come to mind, and I think all the above comments are spot-on, but have mixed emotions about what I heard because sometimes these parents that are now aging didn't have the best parents either, and did the best they could given their circumstances.

I don't think it is always 100% that the parent intended to be selfish or spread guilt or other problems that may have impacted your growth. Of course, it really depends on the severity and types of issues, but you only have one father and one mother, biologically speaking and often many have neither but have great parents, so I guess what I am trying to say is you define yourself by what you do, and if that means being the better person and overlooking annoying qualities and focusing on finding common ground, then I think that is worth your time.

Once a year. Yea, I just cannot visualize how much you can expect to be relieved when one is talking about being, lets do the math 5 days out of 365 days a year = 1.3% annually engaged. But, I totally get it, sometimes, that is all you can muster. Who knows? Might find more answer is 15% engaged annually = 55 days out of the year, but think it takes more than that. Good luck!
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Thanks Midkid58, your message is helpful. Your right about the same dynamic being there. If we spend a couple of days with him once a year, I start getting flashbacks of stressful/difficult times with him from childhood.
I'm sorry to hear about your experiences with your uncle. Therapy sounds like a valuable thing to do and am glad that it has helped you.
I think it's something I'm going to look in to.
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"Narcissists charm people to use them, then discard them"...a really true statement!
DON'T bring your dad home. The same dynamic that existed in your childhood will still be there.
While it is sad that he is alone and sick, you didn't do this to him. Sadly, in life we reap what we sow. I'd work with your social workers to find him a safe place to live and continue to live my life. You owe him that much, as your father.
When my abusive, mean and horrid uncle died, (he had been in education for 40 years, so you'd think he'd have touched a few lives, right?) there were 20 people at the funeral, if that. I went b/c Mother needed a ride. His own kids were there. The pastor of his church was there. Seriously, 20 people, and nobody shed a tear or mourned a day.
Don't let his past behavior of you define who you are now. Therapy has been a godsend for me--a place to vent, get fresh methods of coping, etc.
Forgiveness may or may not come in this life--that's OK. You need to heal you and sadly, your dad is now getting what he "deserves". I'm sorry for your situation, but do NOT let him guilt trip you into taking care of him now.
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Thanks guestshopadmin, that's good and useful to hear what your therapist says. I have never had therapy for this (I'm in the UK we need to catch up with Americans on this!)
You're right, he definitely charms everyone and then people think the problem is my sister and me! There are social services here and am hoping they can get involved with any care needed.
It's good to speak to someone who understands what it can be like, thanks. And I will use your reply about 'more to the story' if any neighbors etc try to guilt trip.
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Amy, my heart goes out to you. My therapist recommends that any child of a person with a personality disorder NOT do the hands-on caregiving of an abuser (physical or mental). Your own health and his location make your situation difficult if it was a close relationship. Unless the neighbors are ones that are familiar with your back history, they won't understand. Narcissists charm people to use them, then discard them. Short term relationships are manageable. I just told people there was more to the story that I felt comfortable discussing with strangers. The social workers at the hospital will be able to help him find long term care. They may try to guilt you. We all know the truth. Don't take him with you. There are programs to help indigent folks. If you weren't close, he didn't gift you assets that will prevent Medicaid. Hugs to you at this time.
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Thank you Countrymouse, your words have made me feel stronger about handling the situation. I think we will go down and deal with the hospital etc initially and then work out a care plan that is independent of us (my sister and I). I think then I will go back to 'keeping a safe distance' from him which will be manageable as he is around 4 hours drive away.
There are so many conflicting emotions as well as guilt however I feel I need to protect myself first. He has caused so much pain and suffering over the years. In a way I understand that the mental illness is not his fault however his words and behaviour can be so damaging.
Untreated or sometimes treated mental illness can ruin lives and families.
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The part of you that feels sorry for him because he is now elderly and suffering is a good, humane part; but it is not necessarily a very sensible one! Listen carefully to the part that recognises that this man was a poor father and a selfish egotist who now has only himself to blame if he has alienated his daughters. Then weigh up the two sides, and ideally arm-in-arm with your sister work out a care plan that maintains healthy emotional boundaries while providing for your father's reasonable needs.

That he needs care is true. It does not follow that you and your sister must shoulder responsibility for providing for it. Don't let anyone pull a guilt trip on you.
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