Toxic Parent

My dad is best described in this excerpt from "Stop Walking On Eggshells" by Randi Kreger.

"If you object to the criticism or try to defend yourself, your loved one may accuse you of being defensive, too sensitive, or unable to accept constructive criticism. Since their very survival seems to be at stake, they may defend themselves with the ferociousness of a mother bear protecting her cubs. When the crisis has passed and the person with Borderline Personality Disorder seems to have won, they may act surprised that you’re still upset…You, of course, feel worse. Only now, you also feel baffled because the person with BPD doesn’t seem to understand the impact of what they’ve done. You may also feel frustrated because they never seem to accept responsibility for their own behavior. This cycle happens again and again."

My dad used fear, guilt, intimidation, blaming, and manipulation to control my whole family. He's poisonous--the kind of person who has you doubting your own perceptions and beliefs. Life with him was a rollercoaster--up and down, for years and years. He'd rage and snarl one minute, and then apologize the next, and expect you to forget all about it. The constant instability and insecurity eventually rendered me completely numb.

I'm recovering now, but I am still pretty screwed up. I have no healthy way to handle negative emotions. I'm sensitive, fearful, and insecure. All of these things are reflected in my relationship with my new husband, whom I love dearly, and for whose sake I am trying my best to understand and overcome my difficulties.

In the meantime, I refuse to talk to my father. He has no respect for boundaries--never has--and although I've asked him not to contact me, I still get emails and phone calls. When that happens, I get a sick feeling in my gut, and start shaking and crying. Any kind of contact with him brings up overpowering feelings of anger, pain, and confusion. He refuses to take responsibility for his behaviour, and acts like any rift in our relationship is my fault.

I am trying to forgive him. I've read a good bit about Borderline Personality Disorder, and I have come to see that his childhood experiences left him horribly empty and insecure. He feels an insatiable need for control, and in his desperation to hide his flaws he forces other people to accept blame for his actions. Fine, whatever, I get it. But that doesn't mean I have to live with it. He's had plenty of chances to change--to take the time to really understand what it is that he does to hurt other people, and how he can stop it. But he always chooses himself over his family, every time. Betrayal after betrayal.

I can forgive him, if only for my own sanity, so that I'm not eaten up with bitterness. But I will never forget what he did, and I will never allow him back into my life.
BookNerd BookNerd 22-25, F 78 Responses Nov 14, 2007

Your Response


Reading your stories has made me feel so much less alone.

My father began acting like a bipolar child when my mother left him a year and a half ago.

She left because of the way he treated her behind closed doors, which is now what I go through. As I'm the only girl left in the house I suppose it has become my 'role' in the household.

As many of you have written of your father's traits, mine is also manipulative, cruel and critical.

The man demands respect, but never EVER gives it. If you challenge his view he will attack yours and your credibility.

This may just be me being petty, but I have always wanted to dye my hair black. He told me that if I dyed my hair black he would sell my dog, my cat and all of my possessions.

I am not so vain and superficial to sacrifice my two best friends to simply dye my hair, but I believe this example says something about his character.

He will twist events and things I have said out of context and out of logic or their intended meaning all together to make himself out to be the victim. He will guilt me for the things he has bought me, such as school books and basic necessities, and spent quite a few months telling me what a horrible person I am. Once even going as far as to say he wanted to put me into foster care.

I have spent the last year of my life battling an extreme lack of self confidence and self worth, mild depression, anxiety and imaging problems.

All because of his criticisms.

I have all of these self doubts through sheer force of will, and have now become numb to him.

He is not my father. I rejected him as kin long ago, and as soon as I leave this house I will have nothing to do with him.

Anyone going through something similar now, here's how I got though it all.

I focused on the things I *liked* about me.

How if someone asked me for help at school, I would be right there to talk them through it.

If there was a fight, I would jump in the middle.

Anyway, I just felt the need to vent a little bit. If you actually took the time to read this, thank you.

If you were just skimming, oh well.


yep! sounds like mine, I'm, how do you say it... "f**ked" now because of him. I can't figure out how he can totally destroy his own daughter and not realise, and still carry on. Uses guilt, I've never asked for anything, everything he has done has been to control me... If I don't do something, or I spend my money on something, I'm throwing it in his face. If something happens, it's my fault, no matter what, which escalates, then I'm even worse for talking back (at 24 years old), most of the time I get kicked out or he reaches out at me (I don't know whether it is to hit me, I'm quite fast but he likes to grab hair and drag), if I try and make some sort of awkward attempt at speaking it either turns into a horrible argument or he yells at me to shut up because hes watching telly/on phone/ reading something/watching a funny video/thinking. I'd never do that! He expects the upmost respect but treats me like a piece of ****. I can't wait to have a decent enough job that I can go away and get a place and not mess up enough that I prove him right and that I can do well without him, I don't want to ever have to come back here once I go. Got too much to say on the subject so I stop here :)

Just stay away from him for your health. Wish you the best.

Just stay away from him for your health. Wish you the best.

I agree with everyone. I think my dad has Schizoid Personality disorder. He goes off for little to no reason randomly. He is cold, and it seems the only time he can talk to me is when he has something insulting, caustic, or something logistical to talk about.

He is emotionally abusive, and I can't stand his presence. I don't know why my mom tolerates his abusive ways to my brother and I. I truly hate him.

A part of me wonders if I should even let him walk me down the aisle when I get married....probably not.

I don't want to pretend when I get enough money to move away and start my new life. I appreciate the basic things he did: contribute monetary funds for my existence. That is the extent. I will probably break even with all the therapy I will need to undo the damage he has caused, making his "contributions to my existence" null and void!

I am thankful to the experience project for letting me know I am not alone.

i hATE MY DAD FOR BEING UNREASONABLE of everything..........WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate him so much............

**** a PD. Do not forgive him. If you are able, and you are both age appropriate, kick his ***! I'm serious. I didn't when I had the chance and I ( at 55 years of age ) woefully regret that I didn't take action when I could have. If you can't/won't do it correctly, don't have children. Bad parents beget bad parents. I fathered no children on purpose.

i know how you dad conrols my family with fear. I cant even talk to him. If my mum says anything that upsets her, he'll just start shouting and swearing and somtimes starts smashing and throwing things. I dont know what to do and i really dislike him

I understand how you feel my father sound just like that. Its also hard to forgive my father on the things he have down to my family. I think you are doing the right thing on making no contract from him. I hope you hang in there with you problems. :)

My dad sure had this disease of the Head..a real abnormal guy..Borderline..or Border cross..he would verbally,psychologically,physically abuse my sweet simple Mum, and me n my younger sister too.He is so darn manipulative,I cant even begin to describe.He would forbid us to visit our family or freinds,or go out with mum..and whenever he was unhappy,which he was with us practically all the time, he would have fits of rage..would throw things around..from food to clocks..and disches galore..hurl the most profane abuses at Mum n us 2 sisters..we were just school kids..small girls, and we saw all this.My younger sister,who is no longer in this world,became so silent and reclusive.I on the other hand started to show him my anger.I really dont know how to forgive such a pathetic loser..who unfortunately became my dad..He spoilt my entire childhood..and my sisters..we separated from him when i was in class 9..but he continues to haunt us..even now.He remarried..abused his second wife..she went away..he wanted to come back to us..and to top it all..he blamed the divorce between mum n him on ME..!!huh????I really dont know what we did in our darned past lives to deserve such pathetic Fathers..and Guys..he was a Gay too..can u believe that.I hate him so much more now..cuz I lost my only sister,recently in a car accident..and she..who was so young..could have lived a happy life..if he was a better dad..I had begun to frgive him ..but now its really difficult.Im no angel..he's outtta my life for good..i aint contacting him ever..He has done enough damage to mum my younger sis n more..he just dosent exist for me anymore..PEACE!!!!

My father isn't manipulative but he makes me live a life of fear. He throws fits whenever me or my brother don't do what he says exactly. He is completely unreasonable,he doesn't know what love is. I wish i could love him but the fear that he shows makes me want to take a couple feet back. Ive completely broken down in tears just because when i thought about him i did not know what he was going to do next. I feel like I'm trapped and no where to go. I'm 16 I have friends i can go to when he goes on his temper tantrums. Sometime when i come back from my friends he gets even angrier. I want to completely depart from him when I'm 18 and go to college without support and never talk to him again. He has caused me to lose all emotions when I get angry. I hope i do not turn out like him and abuse them like he did me. He says he isnt a bad father but he isnt the one to judge. I just wish he could realize so we could have a relationship. I am always willing to forgive just as long as he gets rids of his anger problems.

I wish i could get some advice

This is not advice, but when it comes to my Dad, I tell him that if he would just apologize that maybe we could have a relationship. But he refuses to admit he's done anything.
I hope you can take some advice by reading some of these stories. Some people have turned out successful through leaving and making their own life. I hope this gives you some encouragement.

I will kill my dads that's all you guys need to know

I was a top kid then my dad made us move from a French place in Canada to an English place in Canada. He always hated me and yells and make those bigs eyes like he gonna rip your neck off... But I will do to him the worst things in the world even if it cost my life

Please do not do this. You have your whole life ahead of you. He's not worth it. In time you will become an adult and leave him. Then it's your choice whether or not you want to cut him out of your life. He would be gone for you and you would not be in jail.

I understand your rageful anger. It is quite appropriate and normal.

I will kill my dads that's all you guys need to know

I was a top kid then my dad made us move from a French place in Canada to an English place in Canada. He always hated me and yells and make those bigs eyes like he gonna rip your neck off... But I will do to him the worst things in the world even if it cost my life

I do feel your pain. However, I trust myself and the people I love, the decisions we make, our feelings and so on. But, in front of him, we have to control anything that comes as natural to other people.

Call me a harsh f**king b*tch(and I'll admit that I'm indeed one), but once I grow up, I'm getting the hell away from him, and taking my loved ones along with me, and cutting off every form of contact I could possibly have with him. Deed poll, optional. Emigration, NECESSARY. The world doesn't revolve around him and his ego. I really at this point, don't give a flying f*** about him, or what he thinks of me, now and even then.

Thank you so much for your story, I think I now know a little more about what problem he is likely to have.

"He", by the way, is my father.

I have faith in the future, I simply hope that it doesn't get any worse.

i have a father who never take responsability of his actions, he left us,a nd never auspport his kids, never assumed or felt love feelings towards his kids, i despise him for all the damage he caused me, and i blame him for everything in my life , he's the reason of all my personal issues.

Same here.

Damn i thought i was alone with my anger...I always considered myself strong...i dont care if someone insult me....but when my dad insult hurts a LOT...I need time to recover...

oh my god!! what u wrote it what i would say if i were more articulate.

oh myy god.. and the fact that all these other ppl feel the same way.. id on't know.. i ask u, what are father so .. just so... AHHHHHHHHH!!!

but again. i totally relate. i really do. i really do! can someone help? who?

Wow, I can so relate to these stories, and they are written so very well!

I'm 51, and the only way that I know my dad loves me, is I hear it through other people! He wanted to be respected, and thought that the only way to insure that, was for us (my brother and I) to be afraid of him. We were the good kids in the restaurant....only because we were too afraid not to be. I still remember sitting in a restaurant waiting "forever" for our food to come, and having absolutely nothing to do. Can't play with your spoon, just "sit still and be quiet." And so I'm feeling rotten, and look up to see an elderly lady coming over to our table smiling...and I just knew what she was going to say: My, but your kids are just being so good! (*sigh)

Booknerd, yes, my dad did not allow us to express anger towards him, so I was pretty stifled for a long while, too! I remember once that I couldn't keep a "blank face" anymore, so I made a mockingly sad face while he "chewed me out,"...... and he never even caught on to what I was doing! My brother and I couldn't ask questions or explain, he was in charge, and that was it! And he also used fear, guilt, intimidation...... etc. Absolutely!! Nothing like humiliation to make your kid do what you want them to do!

And he is still Jekyll/Hyde.... I called him one day last week, and just happened to say that I had meant to call him the week before, and he went into a kind of tirade: since you're unemployed, why DIDN'T you call me last week? Are you just too busy being unemployed? Blah, blah blah blah.... Alright, so what do you want?! By the way, I was riding my bike....why would you call me when I was riding my bike? Can't you call me at another time of the day?! OK, so what are you calling about?! >>> And then today, he tries to "make up" for what he said before, and actually makes a small joke....!

He has no emotions except anger, and is as mean as he can be, as often as he can be. He never thinks about how what he's saying is going to make me feel...he just "spouts off." And if he actually thinks he made a mistake, he just goes around it, and moves on. He has no ability to analyze himself or consider how he makes me feel when he talks.

Thanks very much for writing this, BookNerd! Very powerful!

BPD or NO BPD. I will never accept that as an excuse for my father's behaviour. He's just selfish and he makes me sick.

Go baby!

This is my father too. Growing up the whole family walked on eggshells around him. During dinner he would tell everyone what he thought and the way it was. He would tell us what kids were taking advantage of their parents through weddings, college, etc. and that we should not take advantage of him. He would say he was going to spend all of his money before he died. He was always pissed off and most of the time we didn't know what about. "Is dad mad"? "Yes you left your comb on the sink". "Watch out, Dad's on a cleaning rampage". He would do disgusting things like chase you around the house with a bug or something he picked out of his face. He's old as dirt now and still acts like he's really special and intelligent, and talks about his opinions on everything which is usually wrong. Still talking about his money at every chance "I have money coming out of my eyes", "I'm donating my money when I die", "Look, I just bought this _____ for $$$$$$$$$$$". I have nightmares about him at least once a month. This week I had 2 nightmares including last night when I woke up shouting: "Get me out of here!!!" I can't stand anything about him.

Yep, this is my father too. He has fibromyalgia, which would be hard to live with but it's no excuse for him to not be a father to us. I've grown up learning how to act around him to avoid him getting mad, walking on egg shells around him at all times, having to keep everything inside because I had to always be happy around him, even when he was miserable. He isolated me from my friends, hardly ever let me leave the house other than for school, and has shut out the rest of my extended family and make it all seem like he's the victim. I hate him. I want out. I'm 20 years old, going to school and the only reason I'm still coming back is because of money. He's judgemental and treats my brothers like **** too. Hopefully this coming year I will move out and be done with this.

I am so sorry to everyone out there who is suffering with a parent who is like this. It's hard and scarring :(

I relate to this also. My dad is pretty much as you described, and he acts pretty much creepy. He says unusually bizzare things to himself in a whisper or will say it while walking away. It's usually a creepy comment directed towards me or another family memeber or just a creepy comment in general. He also screams out loud "oh god it hurts" in the mornings to wake everyone up. And weird things like that. He also acts like an idiot and talks in a demeaning baby talk type way. He's a creep and an *******.

Many of you are saying to "get away" but what he does is sits in a chair all day infront of the window watching people come in and out. He sits there on the weekends and plays solitare and if you come down the stairs he will say something negative to you or keep you around or make you feel guilty or scream or nit pick a problem.

What I do, is don't listen to his threats, I'm physically bigger than him now, so he doesn't mess with me physically anymore - he knows I could beat him up. So basically, I turned the switch on him and stop responding to his threats for the most part. It's a constant battle and a constant fight with him. He threatens to call the cops, kick me out, and stop giving me money, I always say do it then, but he never does, it would reflect poorly on his "image" I think. I've gotten him to change somewhat, but he is the same guy on the inside, he knows im willing to scream and fight back. He controls my financial funds right now, but I'm hoping to get enough financial aid to move out into my appartment soon thank god. Also, when I was getting close to moving out by getting another part time job he'll say stuff like "slow down" and he's all said things to me like "you can stay here as long as you want". It was a trick, everything he does/says is basically a lie and a trick.

He is a ******* *****, ****, creepy. I don't care that much about emotional scars, I want him to die, if he was dead, I'd be happy. Once I'm out, I'm cutting all ties with him, I will never be around him again and will be able to breathe for once in my life.

My dad ids about 82 yo and falling apart after 2 partial strokes. Walks holding onto walls. I recently reconnected with him after several years of no communication. What lead to that was we were at dinner and he asked me if I would do CPR on him- he hugged his chest and kissed the back of his hand. When I said that's disgusting, he said to me, my husband and 2 adult children: "I have something to say to you" - "Go to Hell". So we didn't talk for several years. Just recently we reconciled and my parents want to get together again here and there. I have had nightmares about my dad at least once a month since I was 10 years old. This week I had 2 nightmares about him and woke up yelling "GET ME OUT OF HERE". My mom ignores all the bullshit he says and is happy we are seeing each other again. Because he is so old, I feel we should have a "fragile" relationship rather than nothing at all. Believe me, if he dies I will have to wear dark sunglasses because I will NOT BE CRYING.

My mother has BPD and she is a wonderful, kind person, and a damn good mother. She would have mood swings and things, but I could forgive her because she was a good parent and did her best.

I think having a terrible personality ontop of BPD is what makes a person a bad parent.

Meanwhile, my mother is not mentally ill in the slightest, and yet he's a complete jerk. He pretty much ignored me my whole life while verbally abusing my mother, then he gets mad when I don't listen to him or want to take his advice. In my head I'm thinking "What? So now I exist?"

And you know the worst part? He's not even sorry. He think he's right and that I'm somehow wrong. Um. Who ignored and neglected who here?

At least my mother is sorry for her BPD incidents. My father will never apologize, let alone admit he's wrong.

You don't have to be mentally ill to be a bad parent.

I have been out of the army for about a year. My wife takes care of me I'm an injured vet and i love her but no matter what I do it's good enough for my father It's almost to the point I wish I would of died. I can't seem to please my father. A very interesting person. I was army and he throws marine corps in my face. Just thank god for my wife. Been told should of died three times and my dads gets mad at me when I tell him becouse he says I'm pulling down the famliy.

Your Father sound somewhat like my mother. I guarantee, if you gave him a million dollars, he would still not be pleased with you! Just let him suffer and die. That's my answer.

I don't hate my father, I just resent him. I'm 36 years of age and due to a few bad choices I have ended up living back at home. In theory I could afford to move out. I have a good job with responsibility and wonderful friends but my father does not keep well and there are two big dogs which need constant care and attention which I am sure he got to keep me here. My father can be a great guy but he manipulates me and gives me guilt trips should I even try to go and do something out with the old sleep/work/caring for him/sleep cycle. For instance I recently started seeing a lovely man (after not dating for 5 years) and you would have thought the sky was falling in. After a couple of dates he had me moving out and getting married and him going into care. I cannot even take the dogs out for longer than an hour without a comment - where were you, you were out for longer than normal?? If I want to go out on my motorbike he goes on about me having stuff to do and I end up guilty, frustrated and even more full of resentment.

Don't get me wrong, I love him dearly deep down, but I really can't stand it anymore. I am living a life I don't want. I am naturally adventurous and love to travel but he always puts this and hence me down. I sometimes wonder if he is really my real father - we seem so different in attitude. He makes every excuse not to do things and then moans about not being able to do things after. AAAAARRGGHHH!!!

But I worry that now the manipulation has started to succeed in it's aim and is beginning to break my spirit. I want to go, I look at apartments for rent, I amke plans to go and see them and then I wimp out. When does this end? Do I really have to wait until he dies? Sometimes I wish I could just not be here and it would all be over but then I think that it cannot always be like this. There will be a time when I can have my life back. I only wish it was sooner rather than later.............

That's my mom. She pretends she can't do anything. She won't do anything, won't take care of her own dogs, fish, etc, she won't bathe or brush her teeth, she hasn't shopped for clothes in probably a decade. Then she sits there like a lump and all she does is sleeps and watch tv. As soon as I see her she is demanding in a manipulative way for me to do things for her that she could have easily done herself. I used to be afraid when she'd tell me she was going to use the car bc she shakes when she drives. But then after many years, I figured, I should just let her get in a wreck and die. Who cares anymore.

My dad is exactly.... and i mean EXACTLY like that!

Can totally relate.

It's amazing how many people can be feeling exactly what you are, but in the moment, you feel like you're the only piece of **** in the world who has the extreme misfortune of being raised by a PATHETIC *******.

I was always a mama's girl until I had to live with my dad, because my mom couldn't prioritize her kids and her new boyfriend. After that, I became nobodies girl. There's always been awkward tensions between me and my dad. I just feel so stressed out when I'm around him, my body will literally turn into knots. This is due to years of reprimanding, verbal and physical abuse. I have ******* had ENOUGH. He likes to refer to himself as a "functioning alcoholic", however, we've never been able to communicate for more than maybe an hour without arguing. Some functioning relationship that is.

Maybe that's a lie, It's actually a complete lie. My dad definitely has his days when he's cool! It's like wtf.. is this really my dad :D??! i lovee him, he's not a ******* PSYCHO. so when I have to deal with the few days, or hours, etc. Of the "cool" dad it really makes me hate him even more when he goes back to his usual fuckhead ways.

I seriously can't take it anymore.

If he's in an argument with someone else it gets taken out on me every time. Even if I havent done anything wrong for weeks. It somehow gets re brought up, and that turns into another fight. And I honestly don't know how to take it anymore.

He's ruined ******* friendships, granted maybe they weren't great ones if we're not still friends, But the fact that he thinks he can put My friends down too?? Really baffles me. He hates all of them because "they do whatever they want" or "They walk all over their parents." **** you. They can have civilized conversations with their parents without having to worry about being bashed as a person. I ******* hate this guy, I can't wait to graduate it will honestly be the best thing for our relationship. I feel bad for my 5 year old brother who has t oconstantly watch us fight, it doesnt make him want to come over, he already ******* hates it here.

my father is exactly the same as your dad. if we made a small mistake, he'll automatically scream at us and curse us. then after a while he'll apologize to's a cycle that left so many holes in our hearts. once we told him what he's doing to us emotionally but he just turned it around and told us that it was our fault that he got mad. part of me want to rip his head off but part of me still wants to cling to him, he's my dad after all. but i'm so it really my fault? i lost all my confidence..before i was so confident with myself..i have dreams, goals, but now i just want to stay in my room. I'm so afraid that if I make another mistake he'll yell at me and curse me. am i a bad daughter? is that why he's yelling at me? I'm so lost..

my dad is like that. im sixteen. for years i have hoped and needed his approval, but i have given up hope. i live with him, and my mom. no matter how much we wish we can change our parents, we cant. my dad is very insecure with himself, and that is why he acts like he does. i hope you recover. i hope i will too

Reading these stories makes me so sad for everyone posting but also gives me some relief because it is comforting to know i'm not the only one who has had to deal with a father with mental health issues. I don't know anything about BPD really but the kind of behaviour associated with it sounds JUST like my Dad.

When I was 1 and my Mum was pregnant with my brother, my Dad was cheating on her with his now wife- she is the most evil person I could imagine btw, its like she's out of a film or something, but that's not the point...he left my Mum when I was 1 1/2 and she was 7 months pregnant with my brother, he took all of her stuff and locked her out of their shared house. His mistress had a miscarriage shortly after this and he blamed my Mum for her miscarrying, even though my Mum had done absolutely nothing and was dealing with being left by her husband whilst being pregnant and also her Dad had just died too. I only go into this much detail to show the extent to which he is crazy and will go to insane lengths to blame people for stupid things to try to deflect attention from what he has done.

I am now 23 and although I have managed by some miracle to find an amazing boyfriend who couldn't be more different to my Dad, I am still haunted every day by everything that's happened over my life with him. I have had on and off contact with him throughout my life, less as i've got older as every time I have been around him or been in touch in some way I always go into a downwards spiral, he is unfailingly stubborn, selfish, manipulative, uncaring and like a lot of you have said, he loves playing the victim. But point any of this out to him and he either ignores you completely or will turn it round somehow to say i'm 'playing the victim', even though this is exactly what he does.

He's never accepted any responsibility for anything he's done, he has alienated his entire family and doesn't speak to me or my brother. I want to stop trying to get in touch but I think its an underlying bond you have as Father and daughter that makes you keep revisiting it- why is he like he is? why doesn't he care? does he know what i'm like now? Does he feel guilty? Does he love me? etc.....these questions will probably never be answered since he is more desperate to appear in control and right than to get to know 2 of his children.

I just wonder if you guys know if this sounds like BPD as you have experience with men who are suffering from it. Like you said I have only recently realised how abnormal he actually is as a Father, I just used to think he was mean and weak but now (and i'm studying psychology) I am starting to realise there were/are mental health issues there.

My Mum is the best Mum I could imagine, she has taken all the crap in her stride, she never puts my Dad down, has sacrificed so much to raise us by herself with NO financial support from my Dad at all and she is always consoling me when things with him go wrong (which they always do). I don't understand why he could be so nasty to and about someone who doesn't have a bad bone in her body. Over my life he's claimed that my Mum is 'poisoning' me and my brother against him and it makes me so angry because he's done that himself and he also knows that she isn't like that.

Everything he says seems to be thought up to intentionally cause maximum self doubt and maximum pain, and he is just squeaky clean....yeah right!!