I am still terrified of my father

I want to start by saying I am so grateful for finding this forum and a huge thank you for anyone who listens to what I have to say.
My father has been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia ever since I was 2. Up until I was 5 we lived in a toxic environment, with my alcoholic grandpa who openly expressed his hatred towards my father and my grandma who began to suffer from bipolar. My parents divorced when I was 5 and I went to live with my mom, but I still maintained a relationship with my dad. He was the best thing of my life in the small fragments of time when he was okay, when he was on his meds and he felt alive. But those moments were unfortunately pretty short lived.
When he skipped his meds, his whole state of mind began to crush down and he continuously lived in psychotic breaks. His psychosis was always centred around my mom and I being kidnapped, beaten up, tortured, sexually assaulted and killed and so he always felt he needed to protect us and save us. Si ever since I was very young he would show up to my school, follow me on the streets, tell me I’m in constant danger, video call me obsessively up to 30 times a day, demanding to see my whereabouts and then proceeding to tell me my room doesn’t look like my room and it’s actually a dungeon, my mom is just someone who looks like my mom and actually plans to kill me and so on.
Because of all of this, I began to deeply fear him, fear that he would do something to my mom and I or to himself. I tried to be resilient, to always care for him and make sure he doesn’t hurt us or himself. I had to be careful with every word I said, in case it could come bite me in the back later, I had to absolutely be intact and cover any bruise from playing and running outside with other kids because that could’ve been interpreted wrongly.
I did my best, but it was never enough. An incident happened when I was around 15 that made me cut off any sort of contact for an entire year. I can’t really go into detail, but he trapped me inside his house and I thought I was going to get killed during his most awful psychosis I have ever witnessed. I had to beg him to let me go and eventually I escaped, but I have never been more scared in my entire life.
I didn’t want to see him again after that. But since I was still a minor, he could require periodic visits with supervision and police in public places that I would be forced to go to, which seemed dreadful to me. So I decided the better option would be to start taking to him again, to kind of keep him on a close watch and try to do as much damage control as possible.
Those couple of years were the worst of my life. I was still incredibly scared of him and he never got better after that incident. He continued to ignore any sort of boundaries I expressed, call me obsessively, show up to my house and school, calling teachers asking if I showed up with bruises and cuts and so on. I began to feel physically sick, as well as mentally. I would have panic attacks a couple times a week, along with nausea and migraines. On my 17th birthday he showed up unannounced and refused to go away for hours on end after I told him not to at least 10 times and had the worst panic attack of my life. I cut off contact with him after this, since I could not take it anymore.
A couple of months after that he committed suicide. He jumped from his 4th floor, broke a lot of bones, spent a couple months in a coma and eventually managed a recovery (of sorts). I am 18 now and haven’t seen him since.
For the most part I am better now. I went to therapy and I managed to get my anxiety disorder under control, even though my nervous system is still a mess. But I am also rattled with guilt and cowardice, since I can’t bear to see him. I am terrified of him, I begin to shake just at the mention of him and it still affects my life.
I can’t leave any phone call unanswered, fearing something might have happened. I hate surprises and I’m afraid of answering the door, even if it’s just to take some takeout. I didn’t have a boyfriend until now because I couldn’t be in a man’s presence without feeling scared and completely shutting down. I am overall still scarred and even though I am better and still go to therapy, there are days like these where I feel incredibly guilty or relieved and I don’t understand my feelings, and I need someone who has been through similar things and can really understand.
I understand this is quite long and I apologise, but thank you for listening.


I read this book a long time ago: Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships Basically, you have the right to live the life you want to without fear and guilt. You have the right to feel safe and free.


Thank you for sharing your story. You have been through so much and so early in life. I’m sorry.

I am hesitant to comment or porvide advice on your life. But I know that there is no reason you should feel guilt or cowardice about your lack of relationship with your father.

Suppose that you and your father are drowning. The first thing you would need to do would be to help/save yourself and THEN your father (if possible). I would offer that you focus on helping/saving yourself right now. Continue to go to therapy. It may take many, many years for you to heal enough - and that is OK. I think your father would want this, too.


Dear Poppy,
How heartbreaking to hear of your dysfunctional relationship with your Father. (He definitely has his own issues to deal with!) Unfortunately this isn’t an easy situation or solution. My coach tells me “to be safe and sane” in relationships. What does this look like for you?
You need to take care of yourself first!!!
You have strong negative feelings which is understandable considering what you have been through. Working through accepting these “feelings” are hard and not the real you.
Setting up boundaries like you have is important. READ books like “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” by Leslie Vernick and “The Body keeps the score” by Bessel van der Kolk.
My husband has experienced extreme trauma from his dysfunctional family especially his father. He is getting Trauma Therapy which I think would be important for you, not just regular therapy but someone who is good in trauma probably CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and PTSD (Post traumatic Syndrome).
Wishing the best and prayers as you deal with these difficult feelings and work through the extremely difficult trauma. You can do it but it takes lots and lots of time and work.


Poppy I wanted to add that DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy may even be better than CBT as it focuses on intense emotions.

Take care of yourself!

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Im so sorry you have had to suffer this way. The symptoms you describe sound like a trauma response. Id raise this possibility with your therapist. I agree that DBT is very effective treatment for emotional awareness, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and interpersonal affectiveness. Keep a protective bubble around yourself. You need to focus on your healing. Youll learn to hold him in your heart while keeping your boundaries. I admire you’re ability to recognize that you need help and to seek it out.

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I’m very sorry for everything you’ve gone through.
My partner of 6 years has similar delusions around me and at times did things like you mention. A little lesser extent but obsessed about me being in danger and raped, and same thing if i had any normal injury or symptom it would trigger him, and calling and checking and bought me self defense items etc. For me the hardest part of loving someone so sick, is it’s very scary the unpredictability of them- their mental state and the extremes. You care so much for them, but they’re just unwell in those times, and it can have very negative effects in your treatment from them, or downright traumatizing events happen in your relationship with them. I do always try to remember they are so overwhelmed and dealing with relentless extreme stress, they’re suffering, and that over the top level of anxiety and fear makes them act in the extreme ways they do. They’re reacting to something they feel is scary and very possibly real, and they don’t really want to be dealing with it either; panicking, and miserable like paranoid schizophrenia makes them, but they have it and untreated those are the symptoms. That doesn’t change you have to be aware of how that all impacts you or even could endanger you, and take care of yourself too. I’m always deeply concerned for him and he gets so sick and i can see how distressed he is. I ultimately had to step away physically, but i do answer a lot of calls from him still. Hard part with his situation is getting proper professional care (so many bad drs) and people in his life enabling things that destabilize him, and medication compliance. I’m so sorry for everything you’re feeling and the confusion, and know IT IS very heavy. Taking care of yourself is right, and having deep trauma from those intense experiences is almost inevitable, feeling scared, and love and worry about him simultaneously still is also valid. I feel you. And it can feel confusing because there is truly a lot going on. It’s not simple.

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