I realize that this article is for adults dealing with their parent's new mate, but I sincerely need advice, and I don't feel like anyone really understands me. I'm a sixteen year old female, and my father is dating a woman who I am not a fan of, and I'm not sure that I can support their relationship. My mother, whom I was very attached to, died five years ago; her death has been very difficult because I relied on her for everything, she was my "real" parent, and my dad was more of an accessory at the time. My father used to be extraordinary when I was little, from birth to around age seven I loved my parents equally. But around age eight, my Dad didn't seem to love me anymore; he'd go to work, come home, and wouldn't really talk to me or acknowledge my presence. He'd ask me if I got my homework and chores done, and if I had fed the dogs, but that was all for conversation. But, when my mom got cancer when I was ten, we had a bit more of a relationship, but only really when other people were around.
After my mother died, I became an extremely angry, irritable person--I pushed everyone away. My father didn't try to console me, or grieve with me, he passed me over to therapists and psychologists because he couldn't deal with my "irrational behavior." It's been a long struggle for me; I've dipped into severe depression, anxiety, and was hospitalized two years ago. I feel like I've gotten better--I like myself now; but it feels like the earth is shaking beneath my feet once again. My dad's found a girlfriend.
He's dated a lot since my mom died--he started dating six months after her death, and hasn't been without a girlfriend since. I've been somewhat accepting of his dating before, but this girlfriend is different-- their relationship has entered into my life. They've been dating for eight months, and it's been a rather turbulent relationship.
You see, every month or so, she pulls a fit over something-- they have this enormous fight, where things and words are thrown, and both of them are rendered useless for about a week or so. During all this, my dad is completely torn apart. And then, after a week or so, they get back together, and she has a tighter grip on him than ever-- she pulls him farther and farther towards her, away from me.
And for the past couple of months he has been spending all his time with her, eating dinner with her family almost every night, all his money on her-- and I can't help but to feel abandoned and isolated.
.... And still all of this I could tolerate, but now he's taken down all the pictures of my mom throughout the house. He says "it'll make Nicole (that's her name) feel awkward," but what about what I feel? The only time I've ever been truly happy was when my mom was alive, and now that all the pictures are gone I'm starting to wonder if I've ever been happy.... If there has ever been a time when I've been loved. He put all the pictures in he attic, but I got them down and put them in my room because it's my duty to remember, and otherwise it feels like I'm completely alone, and have always been alone. Those pictures symbolize the past, and the past surrounds me; it feels like I carry all the grief now, and it's such a heavy burden to bear. It feels like he's forced me to carry the past all by myself, and it'll kill me, it's too hard.
And I don't think he loves me, or has ever loved me... I think once upon a time he loved the idea of a daughter, but he's never loved me.
I don't know what to do, please tell me what to do.
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replied March 24th, 2014
Extremely eHealthy
Hello,

I am sorry you have been forced to bear such a heavy burden from such a young age.

It isn't in the least unusual for seven year old girls to become more attached to mother and less attached to father.
I don't question your exact recollection of events but there is probably some details you have forgotten or mis-remembered.
Even if your memory of events at that time is perfect and in perfect chronological order it would be impossible for you to know everything that happened to your father, to his work or to his relationship with your mother.

No kids know everything about the family, the parents and the lives each of them leads outside the home or while the kids are at school. Because you don't know everything the natural conclusions you reached are probably wrong; you might be a bit wrong, you might be quite a bit wrong or you could have missed the target by a mile.

I don't know what information is missing so I don't know the answer. I can tell you my girls stopped bothering with me when they were about seven unless they wanted something of course. It made me feel like an accessory.

In truth I welcomed the respite because I worked long hours and nearly always was tired and distracted when I got home. Both of my daughters could justifiably claim I didn't love them because at the time their understanding was that of seven year old children and they will remember those thoughts and feelings for the rest of their lives even though their adult selves now know differently.

I can tell you I regret letting those times slip away, I regret putting work first and I regret welcoming the time each of the girls got interested in the sort of things fathers aren't interested in.
Also I was a spoilsport because I didn't approve of seven or eight year old kids being fashion slaves and dressing like sexy little adults. Not only did I believe that was very bad but I hoped my kids would be more sensible than to allow advertising to work on them. My wife supported the girls and I was frozen out.

I have to admit I didn't like my kids all of the time but I don't remember a time when I didn't love them.

I expect it was a similar experience for your dad as it is for most dads of girls.
You will find as you get older men aren't really very mature and most of the time they are scared half to death about stuff seven year old kids don't even know the existence of.

I expect your dad has loads of regrets that adds up to a heavy burden he has to carry for the rest of his life. If he thought about stuff too much he would probably never stop crying so he does the most obvious thing and tries to bury it.
I expect you remind him of your mother so he probably doesn't like to look at you too much either.

Your dad's dating habits were initially driven by two needs; first to divert himself so he couldn't think about your mum too much and second because people, especially men need sex and some need it more than others and find it very difficult to function without it.

All this might help you understand a few things about your dad and the way lots of men are but it doesn't excuse the fact he has been selfish, cowardly and ill-mannered because he put his own needs before yours, because he dated too soon without seeking the approval of his daughter and probably a host of other things and now he has been insensitive about your mother's pictures. I think your mother's picture should be on display in the house and if the girlfriend is made uncomfortable she is definitely the wrong woman for him.

I would like to think if me and my daughters faced the same scenario I would be less selfish, less cowardly and less ill-mannered but I would probably be too scared.

I think it would be a really exceptional father who could ignore the fear and make the necessary sacrifices it would need in order to get things right.

You have little choice other than to accept your dad is a long way from perfect. That is easy to say but it made your journey much longer and harder than it should have been. One day your dad will realise the additional pain his selfish ways caused you and he will regret it.

Of course you must remember your mother because if you don't her life will be meaningless but you don't need a host of photographs to remember her; she wouldn't want you to build a shrine to her but just to remember her and some of the experiences you shared together fondly. She gave birth to you and you are and always will be a part of each other because no one will ever be able to break that bond. As long as you live well and do your best to be the person she hoped you would be you will be honouring her memory and carrying it into the future.

In about three years you will have a measure of self-determination. Now you don't have to do anything but be the best person you can manage to be and rise above the adversity represented by your father's love-life. At 15 you can be quite self-sufficient if you want to be so you can mostly avoid them if you need to or want to. I expect you have lots of education to catch up on too.

It is difficult for me to tell you what to do but I can tell you two things to do.

First download a short verse that contains a great deal of wisdom and reassurance. It is called the Desiderata and it has provided a great deal of comfort for countless people.
Second, be determined to live each day from now on without wasting valuable time and effort on guilt trips, daddy-bashing or excessive sadness. Your mother would initially have been quite flattered at your reaction to her death but I think she would now be alarmed and dismayed by the time it has taken you to begin living again. You are almost a woman but you know so little of how to be a woman.
"Keep living until you feel alive" is my advice.

I am sure you will need more advice sometimes or need to discuss things with somebody sometimes. It seems like you haven't many friends and no close family so any time you feel like it you will find us here or you can send me a personal message if you prefer.

Best wishes,
Verne.
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