Hey everyone - I've been struggling with this problem my whole life and was wondering whether anyone else has similar issues and has any advice on how to deal with this.
My dad has some serious personality issues and the older I get (I'm a 20 year-old woman), the more difficult I am finding it to cope with his behaviour (weird, as you would think that I'd get better at learning to ignore his fits of anger with the experiences of being older, but they actually anger/upset me more, probably because I didn't realise when I was younger that his behaviour was so abnormal, whereas now that I understand things more it almost has a greater effect on me and is grinding me down).
He can alternate from acting like he is the kindest, most caring person (giving me money, watching the sport with me on TV and making lots of jokes) to literally, within a split second, becoming filled with rage and shouting or being completely unreasonable about the SMALLEST of problems (often not even problems), and eventually reducing me to tears. At the end of it all, I am usually left with the feeling that there is something wrong with me, and that it was my fault, even though I know full well that he is the problem, and then I'll pick myself up, vowing to never again be affected by his mood swings, only to then be sucked in by one of his better moods, forgive him/temporarily forget about his bad side, only for him to unleash his bad side again in full force, and it happens all over again. The fighting, the crying, the feeling bad for something I didn't do. Also, my dad will NEVER apologise for anything that he has said or done; he simply refuses to acknowledge that he is ever wrong.
I know that this has caused long-term problems for me - I am a very negative person, always worrying about everything or potential problems, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to trust, although not many people that I know outside of home ever believe it when I tell them, as I act very positively when I'm with my friends (I don't necessarily even act positively in a fake way, it genuinely comes naturally to me when I'm with nice people). As a result, I feel like I have this dual-personality - this more confident, loud, positive person when I'm at university or with friends, and this more anxious, negative one on the inside and when I come home for the holidays. And having been exposed to so many "normal" people at university, with forward-thinking views who would never treat me the way he does, it makes it that much harder when I come home to be shouted at by a dad that my friends will simply never understand - it is such a shock to the system to be back at home with him (my parents are divorced, so I spend half of my time with him and half with my amazing mum).
So, does anyone have any ideas for what I can do? I've spoken to a few people about this; my (nineteen-year-old) brother, for instance, says that there isn't much that I can DO; he is of the opinion that we have to just accept that our dad is like that, and to recognise that he often doesn't mean the things he says - he thinks I should just ignore him when he starts shouting at/arguing with me. I have tried this, but I find it SO HARD to ignore someone when they are deliberately making arguments with me/choosing to be provoked by the smallest things like an unwashed fork being left in the sink. Believe me, I have tried so many different ways to avoid arguments with him - I've tried the super nice treatment of acting really happy around him, I've tried the more sulking person who is annoyed with him (which often makes him even more annoyed) I have tried EVERYTHING and now, after a more recent episode of him becoming very angry today, I have decided that I simply do not have the energy any more. I just feel so weak and emotionally exhausted.
I feel like I haven't articulated very well the ability that he has to mess with your mind through the way that he acts (like being horrible to me but then answering the phone in a cheerful manner to a colleague), so I'm happy to give more examples. Has anyone had any similar experiences with emotional abuse?