I’m writing to ask your advice about what I should do about my Dad. We haven’t spoken in almost eight years, and for as long as I can remember I have wrestled with this. There was a particular incident that preceded this, but with more perspective really it was just the straw the broke the camel’s back and almost the excuse I needed to cut him out of my life.
We were not especially close during my childhood, my parents divorced when I was eight and he lived and worked abroad and visited sporadically. That said I did love him in the way a child loves their parent but as I grew up I realised how awful he made me feel a lot of the time.
I have recently been diagnosed with adult ADHD. This has been both really difficult to come to terms with and a massive realisation about why I have such wide-ranging shortcomings, despite years trying to overcome them. In order to come to this diagnosis I have done a lot of researching, and I am convinced that my Dad almost certainly lives with the condition too. It goes a long way to understanding his more difficult behaviour and the circumstances he has found himself in throughout his life.
However outside of his now much more understandable traits that have ended up leaving quite deep scars; he has also done and said some really awful things. He told my mum when she was on maternity leave with me that she would no longer make any decisions as she wasn’t contributing to the household income. I found this very difficult to swallow but have no reason to believe she isn’t telling me the truth as when we were children she tried really hard to shelter us from some of my Dad’s behaviour, genuinely wanting us to be able to have a relationship with him.
Obviously this is just a snapshot, and it’s difficult to give a broader picture of a 30-year relationship without this turning into a novel. The dilemma I struggle with it this: I feel immense guilt at cutting him out of my life and it’s something I think of often, so is that really better than not having someone in my life that I’ve found to be a destructive influence in the past?
I’m really hoping you can help me with this as I so want to move forward with the rest of my life.
Hear Viv's answer to this question on her podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.
Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately, Viv cannot reply to your emails personally.
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