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when your emotionally abusive parent gets sick

Community Member

I have been dealing with an emotionally abusive father all of my life and lately everything feels like its crumbling down on me. For as long as I can remember i've been dealing with anxiety and depression and so much of it stems from how my father has treated me my entire life. My only memories of him are bad. When I see and hear him all I can hear is the constant ridiculing and name calling. He's completely torn me down for 22 years and it's like i'm just a shell of a person. I don't trust anyone, I hate myself, I hate my life and I have no friends, all I do is push people away when they get too close because I don't want them to hurt me.

Over the past few months my mental health has been getting worse and worse and I just cant get the bad things he has said and done out of my head, I'm broken. A few weeks ago he went to hospital as he was really sick and since then he has been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis is not looking too bright. I've avoided the hospital as much as possible because I don't want to put on this perfect, loving daughter act that everyone keeps telling me I should do. Two weeks ago, I told my mum how bad everything was surrounding my mental health and my relationship with him and she promised she would help me, but she hasn't. I told her that I'm struggling with being sympathetic to him and what he is going through, because what am I supposed to say to the person who ruined my life.

Today my mum made me go to the hospital and within 2 minutes of being there he started yelling at me for no reason, but then a minute later told me that I should be holding his hand. I refused, I'm not affectionate at the best of times, I just couldn't bring myself to touch him and eventually he told mum to get me away from him. When we left my mum screamed at me saying how selfish and disappointing I am. Apparently I'm the one thats killing him and I shouldn't be able to sleep at night. I wish I could just keep the peace, but I'm tired of pretending everything is good, when it so clearly isn't.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, I don't know if I just needed to vent or whether I should ask where to go from here? I'm mad at my mum for saying those things after I broke down over how dad treats me, but I know this is hard for her and she's all I have. Although, I'm not sure I even have her after tonight. I just can't live this life anymore, I'm so tired of everything.

2 Replies 2

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

It is clear this is a case for family counseling. Even if your parents dont go with you. Start with your GP and ask for a referral.

I actually believe your father has little concept of his abuse in that his behavior is normal for him. If he doesnt learn how it has had devastating effect on you then things wont change.

If you are still living at home consider moving out. Spread your wings and limit visiting but ring often. It is easier to show concern over the phone. Do try to show concern, thats humame, regardless of your memories but you dont have to touch him, thats forced expectations.


Community Member

I’m so sorry that you’ve had to endure ongoing pain from someone who was supposed to care for you.

I also had to endure abuse from my dad over the course of 28+ years. There’s a lot of distance between us now, but it still affects me greatly. I have found talking about it with people I feel comfortable is helpful. Mostly speaking to a therapist has been a game changer. Often we are so weighed down by all the pain, sense of worthlessness, fear, despair, anxiety and so on that we can’t see out. I find speaking with a professional in some cases can open up doors in our mind that we didn’t know were there, helping us to see some glimmer of hope and light. I know it doesn’t feel like it now but I want you to know that pain is a temporary thing, there will be good days and hard days. There is so much to live for and you are deserving of it - you are deserving of love.

I definitely agree that getting some family counselling, especially with your mother will help. It sounds like she is probably a victim of family violence and doesn’t even realise how your fathers actions have impacted everyone around him.

i hope you get some relief soon and be kind to yourself most importantly. You are doing a kickass job just getting through and speaking out.