I would love to reconcile with my dad. But I need to see repentance.
I grew up in a Christian home. I should clarify, my mother’s faith was always an inspiration to me, but all I saw with my father’s so-called faith was hypocrisy and using the Bible as a weapon against others.
Then one day, my mother came to me weeping over my father’s actions towards her. She had nowhere else to go, as over the years she had become more and more isolated, and bought into the lie that as a good Christian woman she shouldn’t talk about her marriage issues with anyone and cover her husband’s sin.
She came to me out of sheer desperation because the emotional abuse had got so severe. I was shocked but strangely not surprised. I guess I had always seen my father’s antics, just was surprised how far he had taken things this time.
I begged mum to go get help from another Godly couple we know (who have been a true blessing to her through this!) I begged mum to not go back to my dad but to separate from him. Enough was enough. I told her his behaviour was abusive.
Meanwhile, I confronted my dad directly. I heard his side of the story.
I tried pleading with him initially to go get counselling. He agreed to do so, only to twist their words and use them as validation for his behaviour! I was so horrified.
At that point I realised that he was emotionally manipulating everyone (including me)! I had never seriously thought of my dad as being manipulative, I think because growing up he used overt control and didn’t need to be subversive with me about it!
I realised at this point that pleading with him would only serve to further his cause. He wanted compassion and he wanted allies. He would just continue shifting goalposts and deflecting issues until he wore me down.
So I took a firm stand against him. I told him I would never agree with him, that what he was doing was sin and he was in a dangerous place with God.
At first he was angry with me, and then when he realised I wouldn’t sway from my convictions he told me that I didn’t have to agree with him – but I had to ‘accept’ what he was doing.
It’s just a play on words – in his mind acceptance will just flow on to agreement, and I have seen so many people fall into this trap with him already. They tell him they don’t agree, but they continue to have a relationship with him in the hope that one day he might magically change his mind. Meanwhile he tells everyone else that these people agree with him that my mother is a horrible person! These people (including family members) foolishly try to walk the path of neutrality, and they don’t realise they HAVE by default chosen a side…the side of the abuser!
I told my father I would not accept what he was doing. He threatened to not come around anymore if I was going to ‘lecture’ him every time he did (translation: disagree with him and call him out on his sin) and I told him perhaps that was best. At that moment he freaked out because his threat was just a bluff. Then he pulled out all the stops – accusing me of being a self-righteous, judgemental Christian with conditional love. According to him I was giving him ultimatums, I was threatening to cut him off (even though two seconds before HE was threatening to not see me anymore!) I was wanting to punish him. It was insane and heavy. He became desperate and bullying. After this altercation I told him repeatedly (and respectfully) to give me time and space and he refused. He attempted to bulldoze my boundaries about four times and in the end my husband had to step in and tell him he wasn’t welcome in our lives until he ‘pulled his head out’.
So now here I am. I haven’t spoken to my father in a while now. He refuses to repent or show even remorse. He has lied repeatedly. All the while he has played the victim which makes me so flipping angry, when all that has happened is a result of his choices! He has always blamed everyone else for his problems, and now he is out of control.
I feel a strong conviction in my spirit to have nothing to do with him. Until he repents. IF he repents (which I sadly fear he may never). Not to punish him, but to protect myself and my family from his evil.
Now I am struggling against the enormous pressure to resume a relationship with my dad despite his sin and lack of repentance. I hear “but he’s your dad!” Apparently, it’s acceptable to cut all toxic relationships from your life EXCEPT if it’s family. And yet it’s family that can do the most damage if they are toxic.
I feel other people’s judgement, that somehow I am not a loving person because I can’t accept my dad for “who he is” and forgive him. I judge myself worst of all. I am constantly at war with myself, battling the lies my dad has spoken over me (judgmental, self-righeous, punishing him…)
I can forgive him, but I cannot comprehend a relationship with him if he is unrepentant. I don’t even know how that can work. It sends my soul into turmoil at the thought of it. I get fearful and anxious at the thought of him being in my life given his toxic behaviour.
I sometimes battle with intense anger. I wonder why I am the one with all the expectations on me to make the situation ‘right’ when I am not the one who caused all this mess – my mum and I are victims of it. Yet NO ONE except for me has stood firmly against my dad to defend my mum. All these people who know my mum’s character and can vouch for it…yet they keep trying to ‘love’ dad into repentance. It sounds so Christian, but it’s so twisted, and dad is lapping it up. It hurts my heart and I feel so alone sometimes.
It’s so jolly hard to decide not to have anything to do with your own father. I didn’t take my decision lightly, or impulsively. It’s even harder to deal with another Christian’s pressure to reconcile. I will say though, that my closest friends have been very supportive and understanding of my position and that is a true blessing.
I would love to reconcile with my dad. But I need to see repentance. Why is that so polarizing to Christians?!?!?
Thanks very much to Porcelain Warrior who gave us permission to publish her story as a stand-alone post.