Coming out to a mentally ill parent

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 8:18 PM GMT
    Despite the number of posts I've made and the date that I joined, I've been coming here for a while now. You guys always seem to have the best advice for any situation, no matter how strange it may be, so I figure I might as well give this one a shot.

    At the moment, I'm out to about 90% of my friends and one (gay) cousin. I'd like to be out to everybody I know by the end of April.

    I'm not worried about the other 10% of my friends; there was just never an appropriate opportunity to tell them.

    I'm also not worried about my mother. When my cousin was disowned for being gay, my mother was the only person in the entire family who stood up to his parents for him, so I think I'm set on that side.

    What I am worried about, or rather, absolutely horrified of, is my father. He has borderline personality disorder and has made his hatred for "the queers" well known throughout the delightful years I lived with him. Unsurprisingly, he also has a propensity for bursts of explosive rage. It took me 18 years to figure out how to speak to this man without making him angry.

    I expect him to freak out when he finds out. The advice I see most often is to be the responsible adult in that situation and let him figure it out for himself because he'll come around eventually. Problem is, the way that I learned to speak to him was basically, when he starts raising his voice, I just raise mine even louder. This more often than not puts him into sort of a puppy dog mode where he acts horrified and astonished that I would hurt him in such a terrible way. I can brush off that sort of bullshit.

    Because I am almost 100% positive that he will not handle this well, I'm going to have to say that the calm and rational approach isn't going to work for me, but I really don't think the yelling approach is going to work either.

    What am I supposed to do?

    Despite all the awful things my father put me through, I still love him and don't want to lose him, but I'm feeling like this can really go in only one direction. icon_sad.gif

    If you guys can come up with anything, I'm all ears.

    Thanks
    -Paul
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 8:59 PM GMT
    The only thing I think you really can do is just understand that he's irrational. It seems as though you have a grasp on what you can expect from him and already know how the situation is going to play out. Most often anticipating an event is just as bad as the happening and you end up putting yourself through it twice. You can't control how he will react and most likely you won't be able to change his mind; I wouldn't even try to, it would probably just make the situation worse. Just remind yourself that you have people who love and accept you for who you are. Take care.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 11:17 PM GMT
    MnKid84 saidThe only thing I think you really can do is just understand that he's irrational. It seems as though you have a grasp on what you can expect from him and already know how the situation is going to play out. Most often anticipating an event is just as bad as the happening and you end up putting yourself through it twice. You can't control how he will react and most likely you won't be able to change his mind; I wouldn't even try to, it would probably just make the situation worse. Just remind yourself that you have people who love and accept you for who you are. Take care.


    ^^^Ditto^^^
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 11:20 PM GMT
    Hamburglar said...
    What I am worried about, or rather, absolutely horrified of, is my father. He has borderline personality disorder and has made his hatred for "the queers" well known throughout the delightful years I lived with him. Unsurprisingly, he also has a propensity for bursts of explosive rage. It took me 18 years to figure out how to speak to this man without making him angry.
    ...
    Sounds like he's closeted, and the mental anguish from the closet has caused his disorder.
    Make sure you bring that up when you finally tell him. icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 11:30 PM GMT
    I've read a bunch of different stories with situations similar to yours and you know what, it might go terrible. BUT, ive also read stories where people THOUGHT the parent would act upset, and they actually took it very cool since it was their own kid. I've also read stories where at first they were upset, but most did come around. You just have to express to them that your still the same person, and you know what, it's not the end of the world.

    Good luck!! icon_smile.gif

  • TheIStrat

    Posts: 777

    Mar 22, 2011 11:38 PM GMT
    Tell him with a therapist sitting in the room
  • misternick

    Posts: 234

    Mar 22, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    You'll know what to expect best, but sometimes people surprise you. (From what I've heard) it's different when it's your kid.

    Depending on his personality type, maybe it'll be helpful to be sure and leave him an escape route so that he doesn't feel cornered. If he's given to outburts, then cornering him and hitting him with a good shock might not be a great plan.

    ...also, you don't always know if it's going to be a shock... although I think it's usually moms that have that one nailed.

    On the other hand, there are guys who, when not cornered, run someplace safe where they have time to come up with an absurd rationalization that makes you the bad guy and them totally justified in being a cowardly ass. I've seen this one and the toughest part about it is how long it can drag on. If you care about the person then that might factor in too.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 11:44 PM GMT
    Borderline pathology is .... as you know and have experienced... quite tricky, quite difficult, and quite draining.

    You are expecting a freak out.... I probably would if I were you also... Given that ppl with Borderline processes tend to idealize and devalue people in an alternating fashion... he may fly off the handle immediately, and when he realizes he has alienated you, he will probably try to come around and tell you how sorry he is? (I'm wondering if this pattern sounds familiar to you?)

    I can only tell you what I know from working in therapy with borderline patients.... when you disclose something, be prepared for a reaction. BUT... also, be prepared to hold your own.

    If your dad has a melt down in that moment. Stick to your guns, be CALM, be collected, and most of all be confident and hold your boundary (I know, this is not easy when you're coming out to your parents). But with your dad's personality .... holding a boundary can actually feel stabilizing to him.

    The meltdown may cause an initial meltdown followed by a period of calm, or idealization..... I would use those periods to try and talk to him as rationally as possible. If you reach a point where he no longer can hear you... tell him you'll talk with him when he has calmed down.

    This may be an extended conversation that you'll have over days or weeks. But eventually it will be done and life will resume....

    Feel free to message me if you like.... I'd be interested to know sort of the more detailed way that your dad exhibits borderline personality... maybe I could be of more specific help then.

    As someone else said, you can always try telling him with a therapist present, if that's possible for you all.

    Good luck!

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 12:18 AM GMT
    Life isn't 100% what you want...
    Sometimes be glad you have 90%....95%....

    My parents were dead by the time I was 19....so never had the chance to come out to them.......and it never really has bothered me.......NEVER.


    Since your dad is "unstable"......let it be.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 12:25 AM GMT
    "Dad, I want to talk to you about something important to me. I'm afraid it might upset you, but you are an important part of my life and i want to be honest with you."



    Maybe he'll surprise you.

    Good luck.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 9:55 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    Hamburglar said...
    What I am worried about, or rather, absolutely horrified of, is my father. He has borderline personality disorder and has made his hatred for "the queers" well known throughout the delightful years I lived with him. Unsurprisingly, he also has a propensity for bursts of explosive rage. It took me 18 years to figure out how to speak to this man without making him angry.
    ...
    Sounds like he's closeted, and the mental anguish from the closet has caused his disorder.
    Make sure you bring that up when you finally tell him. icon_wink.gif

    HA! Yeah, that's a good one. If you could hear some of the things he says about women, you wouldn't be doubting his sexuality. Honestly, I wish I could unhear a lot of those things. icon_lol.gif

    ThelStrat saidTell him with a therapist sitting in the room

    He hates everyone in the mental health field and refuses to go to therapy. icon_neutral.gif My mom used to make him, but he insists there's nothing wrong with him and he gets angry if you oppose him on it. icon_rolleyes.gif

    He's a handful.

    MnKid84 saidThe only thing I think you really can do is just understand that he's irrational. It seems as though you have a grasp on what you can expect from him and already know how the situation is going to play out. Most often anticipating an event is just as bad as the happening and you end up putting yourself through it twice. You can't control how he will react and most likely you won't be able to change his mind; I wouldn't even try to, it would probably just make the situation worse. Just remind yourself that you have people who love and accept you for who you are. Take care.

    The more I think about it, the more I imagine you're right. This sucks.

    Next time I see him is the weekend of April 30th, so I guess I get to dread this until then. icon_confused.gif

    Fantastic. icon_mad.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 10:01 PM GMT
    Have faith- Take a deep breath and just calm down, no use worrying over something that hasnt happened yet.
  • monet

    Posts: 1093

    Mar 23, 2011 10:14 PM GMT
    Tell him in a letter. That way you don't have to be present for the drama.

    Talk to him after he's had a chance to calm down.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 10:36 PM GMT
    Because of the profile pics, i keep thinking Hamburglar and MnKid84 are the same person, and therefore weird when he/they answer his own question.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 10:45 PM GMT
    Bale02 saidBecause of the profile pics, i keep thinking Hamburglar and MnKid84 are the same person, and therefore weird when he/they answer his own question.

    We look absolutely nothing alike...... lol
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 10:52 PM GMT
    Hamburglar said
    Bale02 saidBecause of the profile pics, i keep thinking Hamburglar and MnKid84 are the same person, and therefore weird when he/they answer his own question.

    We look absolutely nothing alike...... lol


    I agree, nothing alike.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 23, 2011 11:35 PM GMT
    Knowing his illness how important is it for him to know? Just make sure you're not alone. Your mother or siblings present would be best.

    Best of luck to you.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Mar 23, 2011 11:44 PM GMT
    Hillie said Knowing his illness how important is it for him to know? Just make sure you're not alone. Your mother or siblings present would be best.

    Best of luck to you.


    My gut reaction totally... Why tell him? Maybe eventually, but you are telling so many people right now, why not wait? If he finds out from another and you have a confrontation, then deal with it, but why look for "fire" at this point in time?

    Good luck to you, keep us informed. It sounds like you are a grounded and pretty reasonable guy.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 24, 2011 12:23 AM GMT
    But the black and white! The hair! the covered face except eyes!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 24, 2011 1:23 AM GMT
    Hillie saidKnowing his illness how important is it for him to know? Just make sure you're not alone. Your mother or siblings present would be best.

    His behavior can be awful, regardless of who's present. It could be my mom, sister, even a friend. He would still act like a total ass.

    Anyways, my mom hasn't spoken to him in years and my sister avoids him to the best of her ability. I'm the only one who still keeps in (relatively) regular contact. icon_redface.gif

    I can't explain it, but I do want him to know. I don't like the idea of leaving him in the dark. icon_neutral.gif

    Bale02 saidBut the black and white! The hair! the covered face except eyes!

    No matter how many times you say it, we're not gonna look any more alike.