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Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

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Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby chocolatepastry » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:37 pm

As far back as I can remember, I've always had a strained and awkward relationship with my dad. My younger sister feels the same. But at this point, it's SO awkward, I'm almost certain there's more to it than that, but I can't put my finger on it.

I'm in my 20s, married, moved away from home, graduated from college, etc., so it doesn't really affect me much anymore. But whenever I have to talk to my parents about normal life things (such as who's visiting where for the holidays, or even just general life updates), I dread it. It's so, so awkward. I can even feel myself talking with a deeper/lower, quieter voice with less emotion because expressing my true bubbly voice is too different, too awkward, too... something.

Growing up, my dad was pretty authoritarian, and it's always kind of been "his way or the highway", and if you didn't do what he said or did something he didn't like, you'd get screamed at. He'd apologize almost every time for losing his temper, but the effect stayed, and it didn't really get better through high school. So I think at least part of this feeling is fear.

But there's something more to the awkwardness which I can't quite place. I know that the most awkward thing of all to talk about with my dad is boys. And like, I'm married (straight/female). Obviously I dated a boy. But I don't even want to acknowledge that I dated my now-husband around my dad. For some reason saying that I'm married is fine, but when I was dating guys it was so so so awkward to talk about it. In fact, I didn't even talk to boys in high school because I didn't want to be accused of dating a boy, or have to tell my parents that I was dating someone. My dad never said I couldn't date anyone; which is why I'm confused why I feel this way. I almost cried the first time I went on a date with a guy in college and had to tell my dad, even though it was a really short and very platonic date (we didn't even hug lol). I didn't tell him about most of the dates I went on, and I only told him when absolutely necessary (i.e. "I'm dating a guy I'm thinking about marrying and you should probs know").

Is this some sort of deep-rooted reaction to a childhood trauma I don't remember? Or maybe a mix of a bunch of emotions? Or maybe a reaction to something subconscious I'm not consciously perceiving?

I am not aware of any sexual assault that I suffered as a child, or physical abuse of any sort. I'm lucky that way. But I almost wonder if something did happen that I can't remember for the awkwardness to so strong to weigh both me and my sister down every time we have to talk to our parents.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby xdude » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:32 am

Hey,

I can only make a guess and it could be wrong. Perhaps your Dad grew up with the don't feel policy in life. Plenty of men grow up with that story of you are not allowed to feel anything, be tough, work, do for others, etc. A dad I love you message can sometimes go a long way with such men.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:01 am

chocolatepastry wrote:Growing up, my dad was pretty authoritarian, and it's always kind of been "his way or the highway", and if you didn't do what he said or did something he didn't like, you'd get screamed at. He'd apologize almost every time for losing his temper, but the effect stayed, and it didn't really get better through high school. So I think at least part of this feeling is fear.


This is chronic emotional abuse, which is as damaging as any other kind. You probably always guard your feelings carefully around him to protect yourself. Saying that you're dating someone reveals that you have feelings for them, and that goes against all you learned when you were a child. I'm sorry you went (are going) through this.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby xdude » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:41 am

I disagree. A lot of men go through chronic emotional abuse. Don't feel, don't have any feelings. Just do things for others. You are valued for what you do for others.


Have you tried to reach out to your dad? How did that go if so?
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:05 pm

You disagree that chocolatepastry was emotionally abused by her father??? Read what she wrote. Screaming at his children throughout their childhood when they don't do exactly what he wants? That's emotional abuse, pure and simple.

I don't understand what you're talking about. Are you trying to defend her father?? She's the one asking for help and advice.

Why should she "reach out" to someone who has abused her for her whole life so far to the point where she can't even be a happy person around him?
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby xdude » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:10 pm

Of course, and yet nothing changes if we assign blame.

What I can write is the my father and I often disagreed, but we found common ground in the middle. It took both of us to let down our guards, to find a place where we can talk.

Also... yes fathers have emotions too. It is not an excuse. It is a call to who breaks the stalemate, because that what is going to happen (a stalemate) if nobody does. Sad but true thing that some fathers (and mothers) are abusive because they believe they are trying to help their kids be tough enough to face the world they faced. It's probably misguided, but if you look below the hood a bit, there might be someone there who cares.

Amazing things happen sometimes when you push past what is front to see below a few layers.

Shorter version - if she wants a deeper relationship with her father, it's going to take some outside the box thinking and approach.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:57 pm

She's not asking about how to have a deeper relationship with her father. She is asking why she has this overwhelming awkwardness and change in her behavior around her father, and wondering if it's a deep-rooted reaction to a childhood trauma, and my answer is YES. There could also be additional trauma that she doesn't remember, but what she described is abusive enough to result in what she is describing.

When a parent has been abusive, then yes, one can assign blame--the parent can be blamed for the damage they caused to a defenseless child, purposefully or not, and the long-lasting effects it has on their life. Someone who kept screaming and then apologizing knew they were not behaving as they should, and never did anything about it.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby realityhere » Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:08 pm

My view is you're both adults now. Assigning blame isn't going to accomplish anything.

You can change the terms of your relationship with your father, if you wish to. Since you still have an ongoing, albeit fear-based, relationship with him, you're likely to have ongoing interaction with him throughout your life. Is it possible to see a therapist who specializes in family counseling? A professional can help you learn how to form a better relationship with him, going forward.

If your dad doesn't want a better and more loving relationship with his daughter and continues as-is, then you'll know you've given it your best shot and can move forward.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:39 am

I would recommend finding a therapist who specializes in childhood trauma to help you sort this all out first, and then you would be better able to decide how you want to handle the relationship going forward.
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Re: Awkwardness w/ dad so strong it's overwhelming

Postby xdude » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:40 pm

TheGangsAllHere wrote:I would recommend finding a therapist who specializes in childhood trauma to help you sort this all out first, and then you would be better able to decide how you want to handle the relationship going forward.


Despite what I wrote, I do agree with you on this. Someone abused does need to work through the painful parts first. That takes time and sometimes a therapist. I do hope long term they can work something out between them. But understood your key point, it's valid.
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