Jolted by Death of Emotionally Unavailable Parent

I am a writer, yet I’ve been having a hard time expressing my feelings about the death of my father. He died on Sunday, October 26, after overmedicating himself with morphine because he was in so much pain from the most aggressive kind of cancer in his back. The morphine shut down his kidneys, and he lasted less than a week. My dad was a pseudo-devout catholic. He didn’t believe in suicide, but maybe on an unconscious level, he hoped to permanently stop the pain.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco[2]

Dad tried to take Mom’s hand, the only way he could respond to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

He was a bitter person, often jealous of the success of others and constantly on the lookout for a quick and easy way to make money. My father never told me he was proud that I finally got a book published. He never said he loved me, but once, and that may have been because of all the medication he was on. Yet for all his flaws, my dad tried to show his love through action by fixing things, not always well, and by occasionally offering his sage advice, not always wise.

My dad protected his vulnerability with a crotchety, cantankerous, rude, loud, and antisocial personality.

A therapist told a friend that when her father died, she was so distraught because he never fulfilled her expectations of what a father was supposed to be. I wanted the perfect “Patty Duke” father, always there, always listening, always a kind and supportive word. But my father was more like Archie Bunker, so it has been an unexpected jolt to mourn him so deeply.

Death allows the introspection of things we wouldn’t normally consider at other times

The moment I saw my dad’s body on the hospital bed, lifeless and without breath, everything came pouring out of me. I hugged him and sobbed so hard that I felt horrible stabbing in my chest, like the pins and needles feeling when I had pneumonia, 100 times worse than when my leg falls asleep. I think I released so much hurt and emotional pain, that the toxins hit my system all at once.

Dad-Christmas 2010

George Valentine Rodriguez Christmas, 2010

I think it’s better to lovingly share feelings and clear the air than to die with any regrets. 

While he was alive, I didn’t feel accepted by my father, but then, I couldn’t accept him, either. But forgiveness? Well, I don’t want to die with any regrets, and it seems silly to hold a dead person accountable for my own feelings. Also, I had to forgive my dad because the alternative was to hold onto the same bitterness, anger, and disappointment he held onto all his life.

Forgiveness is accepting what is and not hoping for a dying person to change.

I understood my father a bit better once I let go of the subconscious need to see him become the father I always wanted or to hear him say what I wanted to hear. My dad was a product of abuse, poverty and neglect, just like me, and through the understanding of generational patterns, forgiveness was all the easier to give.

Despite the flaws of your parents, what is/was one good thing about them?

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6 Steps to Help Overcome the Need to be “Taken Care Of”

via 6 Steps to Help Overcome the Need to be “Taken Care Of”.

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Why Do We Hurt Those We Love?

Why Do We Hurt Those We Love?.

via Why Do We Hurt Those We Love?.

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How to Change a Negative Mindset

No matter how positive we want to appear,
others can easily see through our negative attitude.
Pink Rose-Black Spots

Photo by Alexis Bracamontes

Negativity is a pattern, a learned behavior, that unleashes something painful on the world. After several severe car accidents, I didn’t realize that my chronic pain turned me into a chronic complainer, and as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I didn’t see how I turned into a constant blamer and whiner. But when the physical pain ended, and before therapy began, I still didn’t see the impact of my negative mindset on myself and others.

Negative MindsetSharing without malice is merely clearing one’s plate, often a form of resolution of some sort. However, those who act upon their ill thoughts and add in bitterness, vindictiveness, or rage create a feast on which negativity feeds.

Even without acting on or voicing it, negativity has an adverse effect on the negative thinker and their unwilling victims.

Most often negative criticism is based on jealously and insecurity. I used to easily Ugly Reflectioncondemn the happiness, appearance, possessions, or talents of others based on my own feelings of inferiority and disillusionment. I had a tendency to paint over the goodness of others so I didn’t have to see the qualities or accomplishments that mirrored what I lacked. My plague of negative thoughts weren’t worth it, especially because they were a waste of energy and only gave me brief gratification.

As an abused child in a constant state of hopelessness, I carried the pattern of negative thoughts into adulthood. Looking on the dark side had become a habitual part of my behavior and served as a form of self-sabotage–a way to talk myself out of doing things I had been obliged to do. My perennial bad moods kept me from experiencing failure with my ‘what’s the use’ attitude, so if I didn’t do something, I couldn’t fail at it. Negativity kept me from attending social events so I didn’t suffer failed relationships.

Pensive Girl

Photo by Kristen Stokes Photography

Long term trauma caused immense stress and a host of effects which I prolonged by focusing on intrusive negative thoughts and unhealthy behavior patterns. I brought my negative state of mind into adulthood because I had yet to accept the reality of my past, was unable to clearly define who I was, and I was frightened of who I would become rather than positively working on the woman I could become.

End the Negative Mindset

  • The moment you recognize a negative thought, clear it by inwardly saying, “I choose to only think positive, and I replace it with this thought.” Then envision what you really want to do or say. Give it some emotion to help your positive thought manifest into reality.
  • Learn to verbally share your feelings in a non-violent manner and confront the object of your negativity. I admit that it would have been far more constructive to simply express my hurt or disappointment with a person, but I couldn’t stand the hit my pride and ego might take.Angry Person in Balloon
  • See the person or situation in your unhealthy thoughts or feelings in a new light. You don’t have to stress yourself by holding negative thoughts because someone is mean or abusive. Visualize them in a pink balloon representing love, and see them float up into the cosmos, far away from you. One of my favorite borrowed affirmations is, “I only see people with eyes of love, and only people with eyes of love see me.”
  • What do you fear the most? When you successfully define what you fear and move beyond it, you get a natural high that helps to keep you in a healthier, more powerful mindset, bringing you out of depression and into a more proactive life.

Someone will always be more accomplished, better looking, or well-liked, and it took me a long time to realize that even with a positive attitude this would still apply. My low self-image didn’t allow for change, but as I appreciated my own self-worth, I began to experience my thoughts in a different light. Anyone can create a world of amazing possibility with a new and positive mindset.

Flourish [3]

This article is the first post based on my forthcoming book, The Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse for adult survivors who have yet to end abuse patterns. Future posts may not be based on my book or written by me, but will be relevant to abuse survivors.

 

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