Aries

Lost mum a year ago, Dad is dating

4 posts in this topic

Hi all. I am hoping to get some insight, advice, anything on this. Sorry for the long post, it has helped to get it all down. 

My mum had various physical health issues, as well as Bipolar disorder and alcoholism. She struggled for the best part of a decade with this and repeatedly tried to take her own life. The last two or three years she would end up in an alcoholic coma for a week or so at a time and would stay in hospital for months. She would come out of hospital and the cycle would start over again. We got used to her pulling through, and we knew she would never stop drinking. We tried everything to get her to stop but she just had too many demons. On my Mum's last visit to hospital early last year, we were told she was in end stage liver failure and was about to pass away. So despite her long term battle it was a severe shock when my mum passed away just a few days later. I later found out from her hospital notes that she had known for months that her life was coming to an end but had not told us. My mum had already slipped into a semi-conscious state when we got to the hospital, so we didn't really get to say goodbye. 

The odd thing about my family is that despite her problems, mum was the centre of our universe. Each of us, my Dad (who was still married to my Mum after around 30 years together) my brothers and sister, still loved Mum. She was an absolute nightmare, our personal adult lives were falling apart. She could be absolutely vile to each of us, but we leaned on one another for support and were mostly very close. It is worth pointing out that Dad actively encouraged this undying loyalty, we were very much lead by example. 

Recently, almost a year to the day of my Mum's death, Dad decided to join a dating site. He did not ask me or my brothers and sister our thoughts on this. Rather he decided to call and drop it on each of us, with different reactions all round. I stewed on it for a few days and started a calm discussion which turned into a huge row. He didn't understand what the issue was, and tried to justify it by saying it could take a year for him to actually find anyone he wanted to meet. We didn't talk for days.

Despite the row, two weeks later he called to say he was going on a date. We are now three weeks after this first date and he is spending four nights a week with her and staying over once a week. He has been spending as much time as he can with her since day one. I can't bring myself to call him, he doesn't call me, he sends a text to check in every few days. He knows what the issue is but he is determined to plough on and is clearly smitten with this woman. On the odd occasion I have bumped into him from seeing other family members, it is awkward and I can't look him in the eye and leave devastated each time. I feel so angry and betrayed. He apologised initially for signing up to the dating site without speaking to us but this apology means nothing because after he found out myself and my brother were not ready for it, he was still pursuing dates.

Initially I was upset because this was too soon, to see a woman with my Dad where my Mum used to be. Now it is just as much about my Dad's decision to pursue a relationship knowing it would devastate me and my brother. I realise to many people this will sound incredibly selfish, and you may say he is likely lonely and deserves to move on, especially after what we actually went through with Mum. But I can't help but feel that as a father, he could have managed just a few more months of being a little bit lonely (his whole family are constantly around him) and given his adult children the time they asked for to get their head around the idea of him dating, and avoided the upset.

It's like he is a completely different man and because of the way he has done this, I resent this woman before I have even met her. I am not ready for this, especially not for the pace it is developing at. This is not an easy thing to consider but I am so upset and betrayed by him I have considered cutting off contact completely. I cannot see a way forward with this new Dad who doesn't consider his family's feelings before making huge decisions a year after the death of their mother after the hell we went through. Our relationship feels ruined and I can't see a way back. 

If anyone has been through something similar and can offer some advice or guidance I would very much like to hear from you. 

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Dear Aries,

My deepest condolences and sympathies on the loss of your mum. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know its hard. And harder still to see your dad dating and now being attached to this new woman who is not your mum. Your feelings are completely normal and understandable. We all grieve differently. And you are still very much mourning your mum as you should.

Please know you are not alone. I lost my father last year. And I know it would be hard but if you can find a way maybe reach out to your dad. Let him know how you feel. Maybe he would consider family counselling or joining a support group together. There are other resources in the community or through church that you could try as well. Because he is your dad, please don't give up on him. We all need a dad even a dad that doesn't do what we want. Don't let your anger and resentment distance yourself from him. I'm sure he needs you as much as you need him. I know its easier said than done, but I would try. Losing a parent or spouse is very devastating and I don't know if any of us know how we will behave till it happens.

Sorry to hear how you feel. Keep posting here and let us know how are you doing.

Sending you all my thoughts and prayers.

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I'm sorry for your loss.  Despite some of the negative experiences you had with your mom, she was a prominent figure in your life.  It's perfectly natural to feel hurt when the other parent "moves on" before you're ready for that phase in your life to begin.  

Everyone grieves differently, and this can cause tension in a family.  Although your dad doesn't need your permission to start dating, he does have to honor your wishes about how involved you want to be in that relationship.  I understand you would have liked more time to absorb this information before he put himself out there, but it's possible he acted on what he needed at this stage in his grief.  I don't know if he told you at the most appropriate time or not.  I don't even know if there are rules to that.  But by letting you know each time a development happened suggests that he does care about your feelings.  Maybe he didn't time it right.  These steps are often confusing and we choose the best we can at that time.  Maybe he was worried any negative reactions would affect a decision that he needed to make.  Or maybe it's just his decision to make and isn't something the kids have a role in.  Honestly I don't know.  Just throwing possibilities out there.  Whatever the real answer is, you have a dad who loves you.  Whomever he dates or however soon he does it doesn't actually change who he is as a father.  He'll always have more faces to him than just the dad one, and it's important that he understands he has these different lives outside of his kids.  

I can't tell you how to feel.  It's good that you're exploring these feelings.  I guess for advice, I'd just suggest to talk to him openly about how it makes you feel and to let him know you need time to warm up to it.  No arguing, no anger directed at your dad during these talks, just an opportunity for both of you to express what you're going through.  By avoiding him though, it's only going to intensify your feelings and cause more distance.  When you're more comfortable with this, maybe try to get to know this woman if it does develop into a lasting relationship.  I mean, as of now it could just as easily be a fling.  Only time will tell.  But usually when we get to know a little about the person we resent we start to soften, b/c they become more of an individual than that *person* we don't like. 

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Sorry for your loss. It sounds like your family experienced a unique environment where the adversity imposed by your mom became the glue that kept it all together. Kind of how groups of people who experience natural disasters or other traumatic experiences together form a lifelong bond. That said, there is a side to this that may be prevalent in your fathers mind. It may be that despite his love and loyalty for your mom he is quite relieved to be with another woman who does not carry the issues and drama that your mom did. Also, your dad is what, late 50's mid 60's??? At some point past 50 most people begin to feel their mortality especially after a number of friends and family (spouse) pass away. This usually instills a  sense of urgency to life and the drive to fulfill delayed goals and personal needs. Your dad has a lot less time for living than yourself and your moms passing may have amplified that reality exponentially.  For some it can be a frightful wakeup. So you might casually bring these things up with your dad and see if these things weigh on his mind. Not only would it be comforting to him that you care but also open a door to better understanding his perspective.

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