The Doctor's In!

Dr. Greg explains why he didn't just give up on his father.

on Apr 8, 20130

 

During the past few weeks, I have received a flood of correspondence from people telling me that they identify or are touched by my story. So much so that I have not been able to respond to every one, but please know I do see them and am extremely moved.

The journey I am on with my father on the show was in no way planned or scripted as some have questioned. It was sparked by some statements he made during that infamous 70th birthday lunch. After that lunch I was advised, even insisted, by several well-meaning strangers to do one of two things -- tell him off or never speak to him again. But, I knew neither one was the way to go for me.

Telling my father off would only have me doing the very same thing to him that he had done to me all of those years. All it would do would be to put him on the defensive and prove me the ungrateful child who had not grown up.

Cutting my father off was a strategy I took when I was in my early 20s and allowed me to establish my own life separate from him and other members of the family who were connected to him. But after 17 years, I had matured significantly and was able to reunite with him (and the others) when he was hospitalized with a nearly-fatal heart incident.

After the lunch, I recognized I had some demons of my own the needed to be exorcized.  I began having nightmares that brought me back to those horrific times of my youth. So rather than running from those monsters, I put my own training to use and decided to face them. I called my dad and asked him to meet me to talk, but before we did, I went to a therapist so that I could get help in strategizing my approach.

16 comments
KAYAKINGGIRL
KAYAKINGGIRL

Dr. Greg, I am so proud of you! I am glad that I stopped by to read your blog and see your thoughts about the situation with your dad. I think your dad is trying very hard to take responsibility for his mistakes and to be in your life. I have issues with my own son who totally has some weird memories about his childhood. It is really hard to do your best and to have your children express an opinion that is contradictory to how you see yourself. I still want you to review the work of Elizabeth Loftus on false memories. They are extremely easy to create and impossible to tell from reality.

I enjoy the show and look forward to watching you work with your clients, your spouse, and your dad. Best wishes!

Carol

pyin
pyin

I am so glad to hear your take on how you decided to handle your father. Needless to say I am among those who think he is a real prick! However, I understand coming to acceptance with a parent that seems to think they did everything right when in fact, they have been abusive. I have the same situation with my mother. I too, have had nightmares in adulthood that put me right back there as if it is happening now. In my dreams I panic and have to wake up  and tell myself it is just a dream.

 

Although most people do not believe that your father deserves "forgiveness", I understand that forgiveness or acceptance, is for you and not for him. It does not give him a free pass. It is your willingness to let go that is healthy for you. I heard a speaker one time say "at some point you have to give up hope of having a happy childhood". I realized at that moment, I needed to let go. I realized that I kept wanting or expecting my mother to magically be something she was never capable of. Letting go was for me, not for her.

 

She still lives in denial and probably will until the day she dies. She has lost a relationship with most of her 5 children. Even after most of us having nothing to do with her, she does not accept or see that it is her own doing. she still plays the victim and often talks about how hard her life was. If she can stay the victim she doesn't have to take responsibility. She seeks pity but doesn't get it. Unfortunate for her she is alone. Everything is a game of manipulation.

 

Good for you! I agree that what you have chosen to do is healthy. Most people do not understand that - but I think it shows strong character on your part.

sharonabney
sharonabney

Dr,

What you said about the 'DOGBUFFER'  hit a nerve. I thank you.  Heard many shrinks , including your colleagues , that wasted my time stating '"THE OBVIOUS. as an example. I never thought I could ever be challenged cerebrally by a SHRINK, for Gods sake!!! Its a new feeling, and I don't know if I am enjoying this!!  Mental masturbation is not something I look forward to. lol I would love to hear your analysis on my head. Could be interesting. I am curious! Curious, but not stupid!! In closing, You have no idea how  much hope you are giving to the masses, especially the most deserving gay community. Thank you and keep up the good work. 

tilmont
tilmont

Hi Dr. Greg,

 

Thanks for letting others know it's okay to be human.

KatKreations
KatKreations

Dr. Greg:  I was deeply and profoundly moved by your interaction with your father.  When he opened up about his father using a fist on him, I just cried.  I simply sat in front of TV and cried!  It's like a vicious circle ...his father and now him.  The cycle must stop and I am sure it has.

BigFanofDrGreg
BigFanofDrGreg

Dr. Greg,

 

Your part is the best "reality" television I have ever seen, and I have been watching them, much to my cynical husband's chagrin, since Survivor.  It was very difficult to watch you sitting there with your dad.  I am grateful you have Kevin in your life for support (and Elizabeth Taylor).

 

And speaking of Kevin, I would LOVE to see more of you and Kevin interacting.  The shopping excursion to Inheritance was funny, as was the tour of your house (a Bravo video). And the anniversary at the bar!!!  I don't think any of this could have been better with professional writers.  

 

Next time I want to see the two of you giving the house tour TOGETHER.  You guys are really funny.

 

Cheers!

Your Big Fan

AnnTurta
AnnTurta

GREAT episode. The scene with you and your father where you show him the photo was really intense.

patricia.garner3
patricia.garner3

Your humanity is so moving and profound.  I love your show, and I'm sure many have told you that it transcends the damned trends of reality tv.  I am learning from you.  I hope your marriage is a masterpiece, and continued success on Bravo, and in life.

nicole.lea.509
nicole.lea.509

First let me say that I really, really enjoy this show, and I really like the person and the Dr that you are ... there is something child like, and innocent about you, and I find it endearing.

 

Now the heavy stuff ... I have to say that in watching your story with your father, my own psychic stuff became activated as my child hood experiences are the same as yours, and like you these pains followed me well into adulthood. Unlike you however, I care not to have a relationship, on any level with my father, nor my mother. Like you, both of my parents are in denial about the atrocities they mercilessly perpetrated against me as a child. I have also had the same AHA moment as you however, with a different resolve.

 

You said it perfectly, I realized some time ago that my parents were too weak to confront and own the reality of their dark side, so yes, it becomes a matter of psychological survival for them however, .... it will not be at my expense. Do I forgive them for their lack of courage, responsibility and honor of me, as their child? Yes, but I will never forget, and they will never be a living part of my life because here's what .... The reality is that because they cannot own the behavior, and accept the consequences of their actions, they also cannot grow and change. If they cannot grow and change, nor can our relationship truly heal, grow, and change.

 

As people, our ability to grow and change has everything to do with QUALITY of the relationships we are actively engaged in, and maintain. I realized that in order to "maintain" my relationship with parents, then a part of myself would always have to be checked at the door, namely the part of me that they hurt and damaged ... sorry, but it is time for my little girl to heal, and that cannot be accomplished by living with those who have harmed me, most especially when they deny responsibility for it ... You teach people how to treat you, and staying is like telling them its Ok what they did ... I forgive them, but it is not ok ... We the viewer get that your Father is in denial however, you enable his denial by maintaining a relationship with him. Your acceptance allows him to forget, and forge ahead in self deception however, your absence in his life is the reminder HIS PSYCHE needs in order to learn the lessons he is on this Earth to learn. YOU ARE HINDERING YOUR FATHER IN EXPERIENCING THE FULL CONSEQUENCES FOR HIS ACTIONS.

 

Your father can lie to his own mind because MIND only knows the past, as we chose to remember it, but he can't lie to Psyche .....

 

Dr. you need to realize something I learned the hard way .. A large part of your Father's shift in the way he presently treats you, is the result of the natural shift in Power once a child grows up. Your father is not nicer to you now because HE IS NICER. Your father is nicer to you know because he no longer has the Power of parent over you, it is an unconscious shift, not a conscious choice, and my point is this, as I know from experience .... If God forbid, you should ever find yourself in your father's care, as an adult, I promise you he would do it ALL TO YOU ALL OVER AGAIN, and again  I speak from experience.

 

As an adult, due to financial circumstances way beyond my control, I found myself living with my mother temporarily.... and to my shock and dismay, I found that the monster still lived ... IN HER.  Mind you, in the years prior, my mother had been a completely different person ... so I thought. She was kind and loving to me as adult, in spite of her denials regarding my childhood. Like you and your dad, we spent time together, having dinners, etc, and while the past was not resolved, we managed to get along well in the present, for many years ... until that fateful time when I would need her help, and went to live with her..... Our dynamic reverted right back to my childhood, and although I was an adult, I was being humiliated, threatened, and disgraced all over again .... it was HORRIFIC.

 

And I remember thinking " but I thought she wasn't like that anymore" ... it had been literally 20yrs past. And then I realized that my mother, nor my father had ever really changed, or mellowed out as I had thought ... they simply lost their Power when I became an independent adult, and their persona's shifted as a result. Abuse is all about Power, and when I returned to my mothers home as an adult in need, it was like being her child again, and she had her Power back ... and she used it... heartlessly.

 

So I urge you to really reconsider your relationship with your father, as he has not changed, and if for some unforeseen reason (as it was with me) you should ever find yourself in his care, I can almost PROMISE YOU that the abuse will happen again. If you think being abused and degraded as a child was hard, then I assure you that you would never want to relive it as an adult because the sense of degradation increases by 100 fold ... take of yourself, and please take heed to what I have said.

Sainbury
Sainbury

Wow! I'm very impressed that you figured it out. I was married to two men that were on opposite sides of the spectrum. My first husband was very abused and neglected by both his parents. His parents died in an auto accident when he was in his early twenties so he never got a chance to confront them.After 7 years of marriage we went to marriage counseling. The therapist finally said to him, " You are in your 40s now. How long are you going to use this as an excuse for your behavior?" That shocked my husband very much but in the end he didn't  turn a corner and we ended up divorced.

 

Many years later I married a man somewhat older than me who had a very complicated relationship with his daughter. She felt that he had been very abusive to her growing up. She was determined to get him to admit it.

 

I learned two things from these experiences.

1) Even if the person that abused you admitted everything it doesn't fix the damage that was done to you and you don't feel any better. You don't really need validation for what you know you experienced. You already know it wasn't your imagination.

2). If the abuser has been able to evolve and straighten out some of their problems, then they can't admit the abuse and still live with themselves. Admitting their abuse would completely destroy the fragile self image they have cobbled together to cope.

 

A huge kudos to you for figuring this out. None of the people I was around was able to and so they are all stuck.

Ambeingme
Ambeingme

Dr. Greg,  I admire your courage in your relationship with your father.  I also was amazed at the photo of him as a child and how you were able to draw him out because of it.  There has been horrific child beatings (I was a recepient also) but like you, I understood the background of my parent and made allowances for it.  It has left a mark on me, but my parent was also a victim growing up.  Hopefully that cycle will break down with all that is out there now to help those in need.  I cried watching your show, it sure hit a nerve for me.  May all work out for you and your dad.    

Wayzata
Wayzata

Hi Dr, Greg,

I have followed your story with interest since the show started and  am so sorry that you experienced such abuse from the person that you are supposed to trust the most.  You are very brave to confront your father.  Although I found it difficult to watch him deny his actions, I understand as you said that it was his way of protecting himself. I just cried when I saw this segment of the show.

 

You are a very special person and one to be admired.  I wish you all the best moving forward and hope that continued healing can take place with your father. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

brushwud
brushwud

I am so sorry for all of the abuse you endured at the hands of your father.  He does love you though.

2wisehands
2wisehands

Dr. Greg, 

 

I ADORE you! This show is the BEST Bravo show EVER!! It's insightful, funny and FO RE AL! I admire your courage and grace under pressure! As the surviving daughter of a narcissist mother who physically abused me I know the value of therapy! I, too, started having nightmares in my 40's!! I had a successful life with many ups and downs but had NO CLUE why I had these nightmares. I applaud your practice and wish all the Housewives would give you a call. LOL!! Without a good listener who is educated in the dangerous territory of the psyche it can be a cold, dark world for those of us attempting to live a GENUINE LIFE as HUMANS! You are kind, funny and HELPFUL. What you did for your father in last nights this episode made me cry. I learned alot. Thank you.

evolniklaw
evolniklaw

Dr. Greg, I'm so very proud of you for stepping out on the ledge, not backing down and in the end being willing to take the leap even if your father couldn't. He mentioned prayer, I'm praying that God will show him what he did and give him the ability to do whatever needs to be done for both of you to be healed. I was sexually and verbally abused by my dad(5-8yrs old). He never acknowledged what he had done. In my situation God gave me the grace to forgive and realize that I could only change me. You are a beautiful person and a great example to those dealing with childhood abuse. Seeing you reach out to your dad was so moving. I want to encourage you to know when to let go. You already know this, but you don't owe your dad anything. Being healthy yourself is the best thing you can do, period. I just love you. Renee

janet.dubry
janet.dubry

Dearest Dr. Greg,

As I watched you trying to communicate with your dad and get him to acknowledge anything he had done to you as a child, my heart broke.  I myself have attempted to address things with my parents as well.  I feel you are right in that they are unable to acknowledge anything.  It would be much to difficult to look themselves in the mirror, so instead, they look at you as the problem.  I also believe it was a generation thing as well.  Back in the "good ol' days", you didn't spare the rod.  It was common place to beat or whip your children.  So when I heard your father say quite nonchalantly something to the effect of you being whipped and had some disdain towards you for even bringing it up, was just so devastating.  I felt as if I was experiencing my own conversation within my family, all over again.  So if nothing else, I want you to know that you are not alone.  You were and are the better person for doing your part in discussing it with an open heart.  You are a wonderful man and I'm sure an awesome therapist.  Keep up the good work in what you do for others, and for yourself.  XO