Over the years, my relationship with my father has ebbed and flowed.
In the last couple of years, due to the boundaries that I have put in place, our relationship is the “best” that it has ever been.
Our time together is primarily on my terms, and my dad is on his best behavior when my fiance is around, so we are hardly ever alone.
There are many stories that I could reference to explain why our relationship has been so volatile.
To sum it up, due to his controlling nature and random bursts of cruelty, there have been times when I had had to completely cut off contact, primarily after a horrific moment when I was seventeen years old.
After that moment, I went to college and built a life without my father’s financial or emotional support.
There was never a time when I asked for help, and it always felt like I was completely alone when it came to my family, who have always been distant and considered me to be the “black sheep” in the family.
Yet even with all of our history, I was somehow still hurt by his words several days ago.
I shared several engagement photos with him in the assumption that my father would react like any other human, with a “beautiful!” or even a “nice.”
Nope. What I received after I sent him a couple of photos was the following:
“Can’t say that I’m a fan of these pictures. Not your colors, in my humble opinion, you don’t look your best at all, and they aren’t traditional by any means.”
I read the words in utter shock and didn’t respond.
He then continued to say, “I would have had (my fiance) in darker slacks. Your colors seem odd, and I think you should have straightened your hair instead of curling it. That would have looked so much better. Just my humble opinion.”
It appeared that my father, who hasn’t bought a new item of clothing since 1997, had become a fashion expert.
His words should have been no surprise. After all, this is the same man who constantly told his ex-wife that she wasn’t beautiful without makeup and that I would never be in a happy relationship because I had dated “too many” people.
Our engagement photos were taken on a mountain range, and our colors were earth tones to paint you a picture. My fiance and I are far from traditional, which is far from shocking for anyone who knows us.
But none of that matters.
What matters is that my father gave me a glimpse into what I can expect. We are moving forward with our wedding, which will contain many things he will dislike and judge.
I’ll be honest. I cried after receiving those texts from him. I cried very hard because I have been hurt time and time again by my family.
I cried because I already have a mother who I haven’t seen for ten years since she moved to another continent, and for a moment, I thought that my dad could put me first.
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His words were a reminder that he will share his opinion and that unless I set strong boundaries, he could tell me on my wedding day that, “in his humble opinion, my dress is absolute trash.”
Throughout my entire life, I have been given my dad’s opinion. Why I shouldn’t go to college, why I should follow his religion, why I was damned if I didn’t, that I was going to hell for not saving myself for marriage, the list goes on and on.
In the coming weeks, I will have a conversation with him to let him know he has to respect the reality that we have a non-traditional wedding that may not align with his strict religious rules. If he cannot adhere to our wishes, he does not have to attend the wedding.
This experience was a reminder that even as someone who constantly practices and preaches the importance of boundaries, I am susceptible to the people who continually try to cross them.
Carrie Wynn is a relationship coach on narcissism, overcoming abuse & trauma. You can follow her on her blog at carriewynn.com.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.