More threads by Chip


Hi i'm a 20 yrs old male.

I live at home with my father, my parents are divorced. I have always had problems dealing with my father. He always sighs, acts beat up, looks down, like he's a big victim and everybody abuses him. Something else that's important to note is that to him, what's most important is to feel significant, he always boasts and lies to feel good. That itself is not that bad, because i can just deal with it by acting like i'm totally impressed and compliment him, and so I don't end up feeling bad. But what IS bad is that he will lie speaking with absolute certainty, even if I'm talking about something absolutelly important, like changing school for instance, just to feel good. He talks like he is wise and if i don't listen to him or disagree he shakes his head and says AH! (as in: I have warned you, the ball is in your court). He speaks like he is so wise but he is always wrong. Whenever I feel bad, sad, depressed, he will act more beat up, more depressed, more sad, to the point where i couldn't act that depressed even if i tried! He spins every situation like I'M the reason why he's so unhappy. Now logically, i know that he is just trying to feel significant, but my body doesn't believe this. I always end up feeling bad when he does that (which is all the time). I can't sit him down and tell him, trust me i have tried more than 100 times, it doesn't work. He will again squint his eyes and look at me like I have no clue what i'm saying, or he might walk away, grind his teeth as if i were a pain in the ass again.

Now I know how to not feel bad when he boast; just compliment him and act impressed, be humble. But I don't know how to not feel bad when he acts beat up, walks around and when I pass him he sighs. What am i supposed to do with that? My natural response, 4 years ago, was to get really angry at him. Then he tries to act extremely beat up to like get my pity which aggravated me even more. He is relentless into doing this, and is extremely daring and stubborn, if i ask him to stop he's going to do it even more. So I was basicly "living" angrily 24/7. How else could I keep my power? I find it extremely hard to be motivated, and with every day that passes, it gets harder. My body feels it's useless to get motivated because I always lose it right when he shows up. Whatever I think logically is irrelevant as my logic has nothing to do with my feelings: I can rationalise anything all I want, but my body doesn't care. Now I spend most of my days contemplating how to do this, it's quite complicated, but I'm not gonna write for 100 hours describing everything he does to always leech my energy and demotivate me. I have tried going to live with my mother but she doesn't want to. She's been hurt, she was always sick when she lived here, so was my sister. Now they moved out and they're fine.

Only if I act like the superlative of a shy, meak wussies, my father then might start having that wussy smile as well. But I got tired of doing this 5 years ago. Before, I had a lot of problems getting friends and just simply talking to people because I would ALWAYS give my power away, which made people disrespect me. But it's still this way to some extent. Basicly, if I demonstrate any sign of maturity, power, humor, being in a good mood, feeling talkative, excited, motivated, he will act annoyed, tell me to stop trying to act like a grand garcon (a big boy), he discourages any sign of these.

What's funny is that, when I release all the negative tension he's put inside me, by being assertive, I feel soooo good inside and much more sociable. I'm constantly trying to find a way to deal with this issue though. I listened to tons of self-help programs, but to no avail. Although I keep on looking, hoping there is something.

When someone is being treated badly by another person, if the person who is treated badly just goes on with his way, he will have motivation. Now if the other person acts like YOU'RE the one who's treating him badly, you end up with no motivation and it's the other person who ends up with it. The best way I can describe this is perhaps with a metaphor: If someone kills the other person's whole family and then acts like they are the ones being abused!!! Having this happen once in a while, I can cope with. But this is ongoing and I find it very gruelling to get my life moving in this environment.

A situation which illustrates this very well is when my friends come over and HE (my father) starts making fun of me. Someone who's killed your whole family makes fun of you in front of your friends. Now my friends laugh of course which aggravates me like crazy, when I tell him to buzz off he starts acting hurt and walks off, and my friends ask me why I treat him so badly.

See if a person demotivates you verbally, that's motivation cuz your body views it as a challenge. But when someone acts like you're hopeless, acts like you're the cause of their suffering... You end up feeling very guilty and depressed.

So how do you deal with a person that is extremely cruel like that?
How do you keep him from demotivating you?


mental "victim"?

I just had a few questions, because it's hard to think of what it must be like for you without these things in mind...have you finished high school, and if so, are you persuing either a college degree or a career at this point? Have you thought of moving out on your own, or getting a roommate? Do you think you could have your social activities away from home, since it seems to sap the fun out when your dad's home? From what you've written, it seems your dad really wants you to look up to him, regardless of why. Maybe letting him know which things you DO look up to him for will allow him to focus upon those things and not so much the unimportant, made-up, or exxaggerated things.
My mother is almost the same way., She always attributes whatever is happening in my life as being parallel to hers in some way, and invariably, the conversation turns to what she is feeling, not what I need to discuss. To turn this around, I have tried the minimalist approach. Say exactly what you need and when you need it-- all up front, and do so in a manner that is forward and mature. When he starts to deflect and turn the attention to himself, state nicely that you will be glad to talk to him about his problem, when he finishes this discussion. Or, you can not get into long discussions about things that are of no importance. You can do the "that's nice" or the "hmmm..." responses to let him know that you've listened but are not really interested in going forward with the conversation. Maybe these can help?--Poohbear


Victim Mentality, help

Hi Chip,

This is a very, very difficult situation you are in. You live with your father who indeed seems to be a leech (like you wrote yourself). I can fully understand that.

You also write: "I have tried going to live with my mother but she doesn't want to. She's been hurt, she was always sick when she lived here, so was my sister. Now they moved out and they're fine. "

It is sickening, sucking energy to live with a person like your father. He does not take any responsibility towards his own behavior, but puts that on you. It is like a little child, yelling for attention day and night: you get crazy.

I think you can do two things:

1. Move out and use all the energy for your own now;

2. Somehow try to deal with your father. Frankly, I can only think of one 'trick' that once worked for me when I was in a similar situation. But... you must benefit from this otherwise it is useless. Keep that in mind!

Can you try to consider your father as a sparring partner (like in boxing)? Forget him as a father, throw away the guilt he has given you and will give you.

Once I dared to do this when I was in a huge argument with my brother. As always he put the responsibility completely in my shoes. There was no use talking anymore. So I said: "I have the feeling you ..... "(can't remember anymore).

Then the usual crap came towards me: "It is not me, but you, bla bla bla bla bla". Normally I would start arguing about that, but that is absolutely useless: Me and my feelings were just being intimidated.

So I said: "Moreover, I think you are a ..... !!"

My brother tried to intimidate even more by his bla bla bla-talk, even more agressively.

And then the last one. I said: "Moreover, I think you are a huge ......!!!!!"

And then it stopped. He went away since his This-is-all-your-responsibility-crap did not work anymore.

It is the only time I felt better after a talk with him.

It comes down to keeping your own point of view, stand for that and when it is being questioned, exaggerate until the other person literally disappears.

It is like plugging your feeling into speakers. They cannot handle that.

Perhaps this is useful for you.


Victim Mentality, help

moving out may not be an option for you, but if it is maybe it's something to consider to get a little bit of space bwtn you and your dad... why can't you stay w/ your mom? you said she's been hurt... by your dad presumably? then what does that have to do w/ you? you said they're a lot better right now (mom & sister) so maybe it would help you too to stay w/ them... if you are in college, can you get into residence? that might be another option to build up your own life around school, friends on campus etc. It sounds like the conversations w/ your dad just go in circles, w/ him feeling bad, then you feeling bad, then him again and on... which can be very frustrating and basically gets you nowhere. When did you parents divorce? Maybe he feels abandoned by the rest of his family and takes consolance in you... and you give him exactly what he wants in that he ends up being the victim. As much as he needs a support system you need one too, so even if you're continuing to live at home the best thing you can do is try to not let it affect you by having your own life- I know that's easier said than done but those are his problems and not yours. Why pretend like he is right, the 'best', the victim? It doesn't work, even if that's what he wants, but its feeding the cycle, kind of reinforcing him to keep on acting the way he does... You have to set your own boundaries and make it clear what you're willing to put up with and what's not okay. But you have to be consistant w/ this and it may be hard to do so at the beginning, but it will pay off in the end... lastly, can you go talk to someone to get some support for yourself? at school like a cousellor? It may help you become more assertive, more sure of what the boundaries are and finding stategies that work for the both of you....
Re: Victim Mentality, help

Oh dear, I hope I can resurrect this thread. I'm living with a "perpetual victim" at the moment. He's my husband of 17 years. What Chip originally described is so true of my husband. His life attitude is basically "everyone is mad at me, I don't do anything right, I'm always wrong, everything is my fault, poor me, the whole world is against me." He is clinically depressed and threatens suicide every time we have a misunderstanding or a fight. Yes, we do make sure he is alright but once we (my kids and I, 18 and 12) called him on it and handed him the phone to call suicide line and he refused. He also refuses to get himself any help beyond taking an antidepressant (which doesn't work, btw). He's "tried it all and nothing works".

I remember one episode after a particularly bad fight: he literally lied down on the stairs going up to the bedrooms and just moaned for half an hour because he "just wanted to give up". What am I supposed to do with that????

What is complicating things is the fact that (I just found out) I am an HSP. So when he goes into that mode it just totally overwhelms me and I want to shut down.

Does anyone have any tried, practical ideas on how to deal with such personality and how to circumvent the "victim mode"?

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I totally agree. It's almost a form of emotional abuse. And I am pretty good at not getting pulled into the game, but it sure affects the kids.
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