How I made peace with the fact that I will never make my father happy

Guest post by SonyaG
Darth Vader fathers day card by Etsy seller beyondtheinkuk

I could go into long detail about my dysfunctional family dynamic. Suffice it to say my father is extremely controlling, and has a vast history of violence and manipulation to get his way.

When I was sixteen, he had made his mind up that I would go to med school. In his last fight with me, he roared “If you live under my roof, you will do as I say.” Something clicked in my teenage mind. Self preservation kicked in. That night, I packed two gym bags and cut all contact for the next ten years.

It was tough. I was heartbroken. I was basically homeless for a while — couch surfing and going through a string of toxic boyfriends. I didn’t quit school. I worked full-time too. I found love. I healed. I grew. I began a fulfilling career (not med school!). Eventually we bought a house and so began a new journey as a Mommy.

At this point, I established tentative contact with my parents. They are still dysfunctional. They still try to manipulate me. But I am changed. I am strong. I am profoundly happy.

A month ago was one of the few times a year I saw my father. He (once again, unfailingly) brought up med school. At this point, it is laughable. Realistically, I am almost forty. Even if I wanted to become a doctor (I don’t) I would practice only ten years before retiring.

Later, in the car, it hit me. He does not want me in med school because he thinks I would make a good doctor. He does not want a successful career for me, so that I can feel accomplished and do good. (I already have that!) It’s that he can’t accept that I didn’t bend to his will. I stood up for myself. I defied him. He can’t accept this “defeat.”

I will never make my father happy, because he doesn’t care about my own happiness.

It was momentous. All the cliches about feeling free, about a weight you didn’t know was dragging you down lifting; they are true.

This is a very personal revelation. And while I’m sure you’re all very happy for me, I couldn’t objectively understand the pressing urge to write my story. And yet, it wouldn’t stop. I needed to get this realization out there.

And then I finally understood why…

I know my father has issues. I’ve learned to deal with him, to be remote but understanding, to forgive. Mostly, his barbs don’t hurt much anymore. I have perspective, I can see when it is manipulation. I have based my whole life on going my own way. I understood that he was not pleased with me, and I was okay with that.

But I never really believed it. Deep down in my core, that young girl still cowered, still thinking that if only she did more — did better — maybe he might love her. I thought I was over it. Honestly. And now, I’ve suddenly realized that I wasn’t, despite doing all the “right” things for me.

So my point is; to all you survivors out there, to all of you working to find yourself, who are doing what they need; Keep at it. If you know it’s the right path for you, be strong. Even if deep down there is this niggling unconscious doubt, be yourself. The fault is not yours.

If you make it a way of life, some day you will actually believe it.

Comments on How I made peace with the fact that I will never make my father happy

  1. Wonderful post!

    The other side of “I will never make my father happy” is “my father will never make me happy” or another way, “I make me happy”. By accepting that you cannot make your father happy you release yourself from his reaction being what you need to have happiness. By the sound of it you have it already regardless of him and his actions.

    This rang so many bells, maybe you’ll find this website as usefull as I did:

    • Thank you! I like that! “My father will never make me happy.”
      Hmmm. I’ll have to think on that, it’s so engrained in me that kids have to please their parents, not the reverse. Still more growing to do!

      Yup, I know the website and the toolbox is awesome. I’m at a stage past that I think. I don’t really need advice on how to deal with them, I manage that well. There’s just some really really deep stuff that is (finally) getting resolved in me.

      Thank you!


  2. Hi I can relate to you and your struggle with your father.
    My father was very manipulative and I rebelled aged 16. Like you 10 years passed before I established contact again and we managed a good relationship for the last 11 years of his life.
    Unfortunately my youngest sister proved as manipulative and again I walked away, breaking contact with my mother, 3 sisters and two brothers.
    20 years layer I have contact with 1 brother and 1 sister whilst rebuilding a relationship with the second sister.
    My youngest sister ‘poisoned’ my relationship with my nieces and nephews and also a 3rd brother.
    Now, today, I am preparing to attend a nephews wedding on Sunday and am determined not to allow her to upset things.
    I have a gorgeous daughter, son in law and 4 lovely grandchildren. The absence of family has ceased to have any affect on me or my life. I am proud of what I have and do not miss what I don’t, or never had.

    So glad you have achieved peace of mind and a sense of self worth.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story! I can relate so much. While my dad was never violent, he’s controlling, manipulative, and a master of passive aggresiveness.
    I also moved out after an “as long as you live under my roof”, a few weeks after I turned 18 and forged my own life. I kept in touch, but distant. Then I let him back into my life when I had children, and I noticed how much I did not miss him!
    Now I live very far away, and only talk for a few minutes once a week, it’s the only way I can handle it.
    The part about him not “accepting his defeat ” is spot on.

  4. I just want to say thank you for sharing. I’m so, so glad for you that you’ve found happiness, and that you’ve reached understanding about your relationship with your father.

  5. Not sure if you still view this site since it was posted 3 years ago but I was hoping you could offer me some wisdom and guidance. My father is very much like yours, controlling, manipulative, wants me to go to med school, and mentally abusive. I am almost 19 years old and I am not allowed to have a job and I am only allowed to see my boyfriend of two years for about 8 hours every month, so 72 hours every 8760 hours in a year. He calls my boyfriend rude names to me and calls me all the screwed up insults he can think of. I could leave and live with my boyfriend, or any other friends but I won’t have the money to buy a printer or school supplies and the computer I use he bought for my college so I don’t know if I can legally take it if I do decide to leave. But I can’t do it anymore, I’m depressed and often wonder how nice it would be to just end it all and take my life so I no longer have to be in here. I’m constantly called fat, stupid, b*tch, p*ssy, you name it, he’s probably said it to me. He lectures and yells at me hours a day to where I can’t even work on college stuff cause I’m busy crying and getting massive head aches because if it. If I didn’t care so deeply about my boyfriend and 2 friends I would’ve killed myself years ago. I’m at a loss. I would really appreciate your help.

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