The Pain of Family vs the Pain of Fibromyalgia

Bet you thought the saga with my father was over, huh? Wrong!

So, first, we had the letter I sent, followed by the thoughtful text he sent…and then silence on the western front.

When we had the family event for my brother’s birthday, I asked my brother if he wanted to invite his father (even Mommy thought it was a good idea). My father decided he would do his own thing with Mitch.

A couple of days before my operation, my father called to wish me luck. It was a very abrupt phone call with no other discussion permitted.

I decided to send some of the photos of my brother and his son (at the birthday party) to my father, as my brother would never do it and I thought he would like them. I didn’t attach a message – they just were.

So, a couple of days ago, I receive an email from my father:

When I was in rehab, you had a letter delivered, which everyone in the room read, attacking both Yvonne and myself over things you know nothing about. We are very upset about this, and therefore if you want any sort of relationship with me or Yvonne, you will write and have delivered both a letter of apology to Yvonne and myself. Dad.

I waited a day (as suggested by my Mommy) so I wouldn’t overreact then replied:

Yes, Dad, I sent a letter marked PERSONAL to you; and you chose to share it.

The letter was not meant as an attack on either you or Yvonne – it was a missive to you (and you only) describing my feelings; the letter was an explanation of how I feel. And I will not apologise for my feelings.

After much thought, I believed that this was the only way for me to communicate to you my point of view. I spent a lot of time and emotion writing that letter so that you could understand me. It upset me to write the letter but I thought it was necessary as it was becoming impossible to approach you alone, and in a non-emotional state (every phone call with you ended with me in tears).

I had hoped that the letter would encourage you to acknowledge my feelings; and allow us to talk about them and your reciprocal feelings. But I guess not.

P.S. I sent the photos because I thought you might want some photos of your son and grandson. Don’t worry – I won’t do it again.

Today, I received a reply. My first thought when I saw the email was ‘leave me alone!’

The whole reason I wrote the letter was so I would no longer be stressed by the situation and here it is, encroaching on every day. And, in my recuperating state, I just don’t give a damn. I hurt so just go away!

Anyway, his email:

Firstly, Yvonne has been my partner for over 20 years, and we do not have any secrets.

Secondly, I do know the difference between writing about feelings and unsubstantiated rhetoric. Writing that Yvonne is alienating me from my friends and that I am only staying with her because I have nowhere else to go is uninformed bull and just plain nasty. This is what I want the written apologies for, after which we are willing to sit down and discuss your feelings and anything else you might want. Dad.

I just want this to end – I had already come to terms with the fact that I would be upset to not have a relationship with my father; but that was more because he is my father, not because of the wonderful, supportive person he is in my life. I have had the time to think about it all logically and unemotionally and decided that I really wasn’t going to be missing anything. But it seemed that this was never going to be over and I would have to deal with the stress of it forever.

So, my reply,after thinking about it for a day, just in case I am being overemotional or overreacting or just plain over it:

As I said in my original letter, concerning the two statements for which you request an apology, ‘…that’s just my psycho-babble – I could have it very wrong…’ and, obviously, you think I have; so, yes, I apologise (you can have that in a written letter).

Nonetheless, I wanted to talk, about the topics in the letter, with you alone (hence the personal letter). It has nothing to do with having secrets from Yvonne. It has to do with how you and I relate to each other.

You have made it clear that you are not interested in ever ‘choosing me…’ so, I guess, following receipt of my written apologies, we will endeavour to preserve some sort of relationship.

And I have two pretty, little pink envelopes with two pretty, little pink cards inside that say:

I am sorry that some of the comments in my letter offended you. It was not my intention.

As I said in my original letter, the comments, which you have described as unsubstantiated rhetoric, were ‘just my psycho-babble’ and that ‘I could have it very wrong.’ Obviously, I did; and I apologise for that.

Can it all be over now? Please?

P.S. For those who were worried, my shoes are all lined up like soldiers along the wall now thanks to my Mommy and Henry (her other half).

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  1. Wow can I ever relate to your situation. I don’t talk to my dad anymore because, Like you, I tried to tell him my feelings and instead of caring about that he was much more interested in my being wrong and his being right. I had to let go for my sanity. It’s just not worth the ongoing pain it causes me.
    Hang in there and know that you are not alone!!

    • Thanks. And, yep, I’ve decided to let it go – he doesn’t care about my feelings (and I no longer want to sit down with him to discuss it – as it will now be like I forced him to do it).

      So, basically, we are back to where we were before I sent him the letter (but with a lot of more tension boiling beneath the surface). He got what he wanted and it’s over. He will continue to play a very minor part in my life and that’s just what will be.

      This time, me trying my best was good enough. I have plenty of other things to throw my efforts at!

  2. Very strange, but after cutting methods of communication off with my own father a couple of years ago, I was in company with him at my sister’s 40th birthday party last weekend. Since I was polite at the party, he thinks that I will allow him back into my life. I will not. After 40 years of giving him the benefit of the doubt, I understand that he has never and will never see me for who I am. The last thing I want to do is get in the way of who he imagines me to be. It’s difficult enough to deal with an invisible illness without compounding the suffering by having a parent point out how invisible the rest of me is, as well. I understand and accept that he loves me as a father should, and I understand and accept that his love is something that he can feel and I cannot and it requires no reciprocity on my behalf.

    Best of love to you and thank you for your vulnerability!

  3. You are way too kind. Be careful that your father does, at times, lift you up and not just always bring you down. Not all relationships, including parental, are always necessary.

  4. I am choosing the pain of fibro over the pain of my family Thanksgiving. Love the song. How do you get videos in your blog? Mary

  5. I have just read all the current and ongoing issues with your father. I had one of these non-relationships with my mother and so understand your frustration and pain. I moved to this side of the world 40 years ago to escape, and although I continued to maintain a ‘relationship’ with her till her death last year, I was never able to discuss anything important with her. An example? When I lost my eldest son in 1999 at the age of 26, and I tried to talk to her about my pain, she said that she thought I was making too much fuss?????? So you can imagine what a minor issue in my life FMS was to her. It wasn’t a personal thing, it was the sort of person she was ….. she never matured emotionally, so always behaved like a child, emotionally speaking, seeing only her own point of view, totally unable to empathise and understand other peoples feelings. You do need to get to the point where you can let go of this struggle, and this is not easy or instantantaneous. This does not mean cutting off your father completely, but treating him like an acquaintance, not trying to force him into an understanding that he obviously hasn’t the capacity for, but accept this fact and treat him accordingly. You seem to have a good relationship with your mother and brother so stay close to them and don’t give yourself away to a father who obviously doesn’t appreciate a kind and caring daughter who wants to be close to him. Giving a wonderful gift to someone who doesn’t appreciate it just causes pain. I do hope you don’t think I am telling you what to do here, just trying to help and give you the benefit of many long years of experience. Many hugs x x

    • Thank you Terri – I think I have got to the stage where he will just be another acquaintance (I hope so, anyway).

      And sharing your experience with me is not telling me what to do, it is helpful and supportive. Thank you.

    • Terri, you described my relationship with my mother to a tee. I am sorry she wasn’t there for you when you needed her the most.

  6. My father and I have always seemed to have a strained relationship. Sometimes I wonder, since I was born a month early, eight months after he and my mother were married, if he believes maybe I’m not his. I know I am because I have his jawline and lopsided smile, etc. But such a belief on his part would explain a lot.

    He favored my younger sister in everything, would encourage sibling rivalry, thought running laps was a great cure for pain, and never sympathized with my difficulties in any area of my life, but instead said I wasn’t working hard enough. I was a type A personality, but I had a learning disorder and depression that were left undiagnosed because he wouldn’t listen to me. And he had a PhD in Psychology!

    He is a workaholic, exercise addict and alcoholic who cheated on my mother. He created so much stress in their relationship her blood pressure got too high and she developed glaucoma in her eyes. He refused to go to marriage counseling with her and insisted she would feel better if she exercised and lost weight! Mom started drinking every night just so she could sleep. I had prayed God would make them stop fighting, but by the time I was 12 I could see the marriage was killing her, so I started praying for a divorce instead.

    My health got worse during my teenage years, but my dad didn’t have much to do with me then anyway, so there were only a couple of times he noticed, mostly because I was out of town and we had to figure out how he was going to take care of paying the doctor I saw. When my grades started to fail in the middle of high school, he yelled a lot. By that time, he had become a non-entity in my life so I just watched his face turn purple and the vein in his temple throb and waited for him to finish screaming and then went back to whatever I wanted to do or to my sickbed depending on what kind of day it was.

    After nearly dying my second year in college, I decided life was too short and married my Air Force sweetheart. My parents had only just begun divorce proceedings that year. At the dress rehearsal dinner, my mom got drunk and began crying and pulled my dad outside and gave him a tongue lashing for all the pain he’d ever caused her. He pretty much looked at her the way I had looked at him during his rants at me when I was in high school. I know that had to make her even angrier, but there was nothing I could do to help. My brand new mother-in-law was sweet and got her tucked into bed that night.

    The man forgot to call me to let me know when his youngest sister, my favorite aunt, had her son, even though he went out to visit them right after. He didn’t come to visit me and my babies when they were born. He didn’t even see my youngest for the first time until she was almost 2 and then couldn’t figure out why she was so shy of him. He forgets their birthdays. The only reason he remembers mine is because it is the same as his mother’s.

    Last year he called me to tell me how sick his mother was becoming. The oldest of his two younger sisters had been living almost constantly with her for a couple months to care for her, with respite aids coming in. So he was planning to go up for a couple weeks to give her a break. He is not the nuturing type. I asked if he was sure he could handle it and he said he was sure with the hospice “nurses” there so much they would be fine. After hanging up with him, I called my aunt to get the details. A hospice nurse was on call to help with medication questions and hopefully to come quickly if something became urgent. Otherwise, on weekdays there were two hospice aides that were there, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That still left evening and the whole night when grandma would wake up every hour with some various need. I knew my dad could not handle that.

    I figured out with my husband a way he and my kids could do without me for a little over a week so I could go with dad, learn the ropes from my aunt and she could have a week off. I was careful to take all my meds and supplements, workout and shower and nap while the aides were there, and try not to stress when my dad did things like disappear for 24 hours on business he had forgot to mention ahead of time that he had in the next state over (that happened twice). When he was dropping me off at the airport he actually thanked me because he had not realized how much work would be involved. And when he drove back later that month and brought the things grandma wanted us all to have, he heaped things on me and the kids, but he kept the one thing from the old country she had told us she wanted me to have.

    When she passed later that year, I was too sick to go to her funeral. When I called him this year in the beginning of the month that was coming up on the memorial date to ask him about the headstone ceremony I was not able to reach him so I left a message. When I got home from a trip a few days later I found a message from him saying he and his sisters had decided to do it early the previous month. He hadn’t thought it would matter to me so he hadn’t called to tell me. I haven’t been able to call him back for several weeks because I don’t trust myself.

    The only thing he thinks matters about showing how he cares for his family members is material items and money. So I know when I remind him it was my husband’s and my 25 anniversary this year he will want to know what we want for our special present, especially since weren’t able to give him any gift ideas for a few years. I’ve decided I’m so upset I’m going to make him pay. I’m hurting a lot physically with my fibro this year, so I want a top of the line, massaging, heating, adjustable air support, adjustable incline bed which costs about $5,000 U.S. It isn’t enough to make up for all of it, but it’s a start.

  7. I am saddened to know that a lot of “us” have had similar problems with family, especially parents. It’s really depressing to find my circle of supporters getting smaller, but the ones that still support me, will continue to do so. They get it.

    I accepted my relationship with my parents will always be strained years ago, especially my relationship with my mother, but there was a glimmer of hope when I got sick that things might change. I gave it a chance, hoping that they really wanted to help, but again, it was all about my mother, what she wanted to do and how much she was being inconvenienced. The glimmer must have been a flash of lightening.

    I wanted to discuss things with my parents face to face and after four counseling sessions as to how to approach them, I did. I stated my feelings, what my illness is, and my limitations and got no response. My mom did what I expected and told everyone else “how dare I tell them what I ‘expect’ of them.” After all, they are helping me.

    So, our relationship is the same way it’s been for 30+ years. We converse every 1-2 weeks and talk about things that don’t really matter. As soon as she complains about how my sisters are raising their kids, or how busy she is, or why I’m not getting betters or being more active, I end the conversation. Leaving the issues be is a lot less stressful than trying to fix issues that will never be fixed.

    It’s up to me to take care of me and move forward. Since I never really had a relationship with my parents, I don’t miss it.

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  9. It seems to me your father wants it his own way. I know you would like a relationship with your father, but what i read in his letters is that he has no other family only Yvonne. Take a good look into the situation he hurts your feelings, he stress you out, he wants you to appoligizes for telling the truth. Did you notice my sentences He, He, He, meaning your father not a laughing hehehe. No longer does your father care about your feelings ( if he ever did).

    Time to let go of him & be less stressfull in your life. You have enough problems without having him giving you more. Time to start thinking of yourself & stop worrying about others. Believe me he is not worth what you are going through. Glad you got your shoes fixed. Lots of love going your way.

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  11. families are not always the best supporters. my problem was with my three nieces. the oldest one was almost 30, i had raised her from the time she was 15 till 18 and even after that she would come and stay with us when she needed a place, her and her kids and her boyfriend.. and i have to twin nieces about 22..
    I recently came out of a bad marriage back in 2004 and moved in with my current boyfriend a month later..I got sick about 4 yrs after being up here and in the last 2 yrs it has gotten to its worst.. my boyfriend is also chronicly ill with various things.. his mother had passed away 3 yrs ago and things had gotten a little easier on us. on and off during my 8 yrs here we have had my oldest niece staying here frequently on and off when she needed too and one of the twins with her two kids and her boyfriend at one point who we had to go to great lengths to get out because he was stealing our meds and other things from us..anyway we got them all out and it was just us for a while and then me and my boyfriend had another setback after his mom died so my oldest niece moved back in with her boyfriend.. she was supposed to be doing the cleaning in exchange i was paying her $80 every two weeks for the work.. her boyfriend would do work around the house but would not accept anything, he was to good for her.. anyway she would take charge or try to and make my boyfriends daughter do most of the chores then she had a fit when she wouldn’t do them.. in exchange for them staying here it was agreed her food stamps would be used for the household, well when this happened she went on a fit that we werent buying any food for them only for us and it wasn’t fair she did everything and we did nothing.. she always kept telling me that i was just lazy that i needed to exercise more.. everything finally blew up one night and they moved out.. i have had some heated conversations with all three of them, they claim that my getting sick is because i moved upstate here with my boyfriend if i had stayed down state i wouldn’t have gotten sick.. and they didn’t even believe that i was really as sick as i said i was.. so after alot of argueing needless to say i now have no contact with either one of them and there is alot less stress and alot more peace and quiet in our lives now.. my relationship with my parents is strained because of it but at least me and my mom are on a texting relationship..
    so we shall see how life goes.. sometimes its best to cut family out of your life.. i do have contact with my 3 children who i left with their father when i left the youngest is now 16..

  12. another incident was just recently my brothers wife was in the hospital for brain surgery to remove a tumor.. nobody would tell me how she was doing so i called the hospital myself and talked to the nurses station and all they told me she was doing ok and i asked if i could send some Buddhist statues to help aid in her healing and she said fine.. when my brother found out he flipped, he had my mom text me and give me holy hell.. he said he almost got thrown out of the hospital because i called and that no one but him was aloud to get information on his wife but him but yet her family was aloud to go see her. he has not talked to me since, he barely talked to me to begin with anyway in the last heck knows how many yrs..also with my youngest sister, she and her husband had taken guardianship of my oldest nieces 3 daughters about 8 yrs ago, she worked 2 jobs and had 2 boys of her own to raise so me not really having a job other than at the time me and my boyfriend and his mom worked at the “fair circuit” selling clothing and jewelry, I would go down to her house for like two weeks and then come home for a week or so and go back again to help her with the kids and during the summer they would come up to my house for the whole time so it was easier..well she had been having some marital problems and was taking it out on the girls blaming them for ruining her marriage, she became depressed and very stressed and such and she may have started using drugs i’m not sure.. anyway.. about 2 yrs ago her husband started taking the girls over to his parents who were the ones who watched them when i wasn’t down there and after i got sick that i couldnt go down anymore, they started spending weeks at a time with their “grandparents”.. about a 6 mths or so ago the grandparents secretly filed for adoption of the girls and didn’t tell anyone until the papers were handed to my sister and her husband… when she found out she flipped out on me saying i had something to do with it, that i helped them get the girls away from her and stuff and she hasn’t talked to me since..the girls have since been granted the adoption and now are in a loving home with the grandparents, although i dont get to see them because i can’t travel much i do call them about once a week..
    last thing with my oldest sister, when i left my exhusband of 20 yrs in 2004 she gave me such shit and told me i had no reason to leave because i had it made, i didn’t have to work or anything.. but she didn’t have to live with him or his mental and sometimes physical abuse and after 20 yrs id finally had the courage and said id had enough of it.. she then gave me hell for leaving my 8 yr old son there with him. i couldnt take him with me at the time i was mentally unstable and at least with his father he had a roof over his head and food and his sister and others to help look after him..i do regret not taking him but i was in no position to take care of myself let alone a child at the time… she also told me back in 2001 when her son enlisted in the army and was enlisted to go to iraq that it should have been my son because he was a useless piece of shit that had no life and her son had a future where mine didn’t.. i have forgiven my family for alot of the shit they have treated me over the past but i have learned now that it is time to think of me first and keep that stressors out of my life.. my boyfriend and his daughter leave a very meager, humble, hermit kind of lifestyle and that is the way we like it..

    • It just seems to take a while to learn the lesson!

      • yes it does sometimes the hard way. but we are better off for it now and happier that we are living our life our way without the conflict of anyone we dont want in our life.. we have enough to worry about with our illnesses we need to save our energies on taking care of ourselves and our house and the hell with what anyone else thinks of us anymore.. I just regret that it took so long to learn and we lost so much in the process..
        I think the best thing for the relationship for you and your father is for you to distance yourself from him also as others have said and concentrate on the good people in your life your mother and brother to help you get a hold on your disease and to cope with it better.. living with chronic illness is hard, it takes time and alot of strenght to deal with.. there is a saying chronic illness isnt for sissies…
        be strong.. many hugs to you and all fellow suffers..
        much LOVE and METTA

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