How should I deal with my Dad?

I am 17 and my parents are going to get divorced in a few months once my brother and I turn 18. My father isn't as bad as he used to be but he emotionally abused my brother, my half-sister and I growing up. He has anger issues and was prone to out bursts of anger. He was/ is very controlling, demeaning, narcissistic, aggressive and is very much a bully. Now that I am getting ready to go to college and things with him and my mom are going south he is trying to change, understand what he did and how he made me feel and fix the things.
My problem is that after so many years of his flying off the handle with me at the drop of a hat I don't trust him. Sitting in a car talking with him, and him expecting me to open up and try to work things out causes me immense anxiety. He's being kind but I don't know how long it will last, if he will loose his temper, if I am safe, if I can find it in myself to forgive all the pain and fear and helplessness he made me feel. I want to get away from him, and never open up again. To run away and never let him in or let him hurt me ever again. I tried for years to be who he wanted me to be. To read every mood, situation, and nuance he gave off and to please him. When I was in 7th grade I realized I would never be able to please him unless I gave up who I was and pretended to be the mindless perfect daughter he wanted me to be. I hardened my spine and told him that I wasn't wrong, stupid, ignorant, insignificant, naïve, or worthless just because I didn't agree with him or match his image of correctness.
Now, just as I am given the chance to truly distance myself from him he is trying to make amends and change. I know fixing things is the right thing to do, but I am sick of giving myself away for his sake. I feel as if him acting now after so many years is a slap in the face if not a power play and I feel used, manipulated, unwilling, and tremendously hurt. And I simply don't know what to do moving forward.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • As you should with any guy, make him prove his actions long term before you trust him. Anybody can play nice for ten min.

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What Guys Said 1

  • if you're 17, why's it say 18?

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What Girls Said 1

  • Can you be honest with him and tell him that any kind of real relationship will have to take time, that he has to earn back your trust?
    What you are saying is entirely realistic and normal for the circumstance. It could take years of work on his part to deserve your trust again.

    I hope he is in therapy to support his long term change, but family counseling could be useful too. You could have a safe place to express some of these issues with out the fear of him exploding.

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