is it possible to be homesick for a person, rather than a place…?
more fun with dad’s fuckery
months ago, before the debt thing (he’d agreed to be responsible for my brother’s student loan debts years ago though they were in my brother’s name to help build his credit, then when they had their falling out, he defaulted on the payments on it, except that he had already signed and filed court docs about redoing his and mom’s divorce settlement that explicitly included that he would take that responsibility, so now we’re pursuing collections and potentially fraud charges against him over it), he sent a nasty email to my brother saying, basically, “be careful what bridges you burn”. we realized after the fact that it was in reference to this debt.
well, a few days ago, after we began pursuing legal paths to put a lien on his boat as a first step in this collections shit, my brother sent him an email with the same sort of message. dramatic irony and all that.
dad emailed back saying “you know, it’s funny you say that, because if you’ll recall, i said the same thing to you awhile back”
…yes dad. yes, we know. that was sort of the point. *facepalm*
Q:so i was just hoping you had some advice, like i just start stuttering and get really clumsy with my words because my german isn't that good and i read all the racism/white supremacy/feminist literature in english so i struggle to articulate myself when calling him out, and i feel like he knows what he is saying is offensive and he does it anyways... tbh i think he has a mild form of borderline personality disorder. but yeah, any advice?
Well, the first thing I would say is, careful with blaming it on BPD - I know very little about BPD, but I’ve had a couple friends who had it, and have read some of their (often angry and critical) thoughts on the way people conflate BPD and being a shitty person, so. Be careful with that.
Now, for the actual how to deal, I have a couple of ideas. The first thing you need to do is decide how much of yourself you’re willing or able to put into trying to change his oppressive beliefs and behaviors. You obviously know some of my history with my dad, but I don’t know how much I’ve talked about my shifting tactics with him; when I was in my early 20s I would argue with him and debate and try to make him understand the harm he was perpetuating. Eventually, though, I came to a point where I knew I wasn’t going to be able to actually change him. He wasn’t interested in listening, wasn’t going to consider reassessing his fucked-up beliefs. So I decided that it was healthier for me to step back and acknowledge that all my not-inconsiderable skill at debating and phrasing arguments and explaining things was still not going to actually get me anywhere with him, and I would be better-served by reserving the energy I’d been spending on him and using that to better ends elsewhere.
Or, in plain language, I gave up on him.
Your dad may not be such a lost cause as mine. You may be more able to commit resources to working on him than I am with mine. That’s a determination only you can make. But I’d urge you to think about it, and be brutally honest with yourself.
If you decide to keep trying, there are a couple things you could do. It sounds like the two main problems you have in arguing with your father are that you have a hard time articulating at all when you’re angry, and that you have a hard time specifically making your case in German. For the first, scripts are your friend. I’m sure by now you know his most common arguments or claims. So, at a time when he’s not there in front of you and you’re not under pressure, sit down and think through the conversation. ”He says X, I want to respond with Y” - and then practice that. If you have a prewritten script ready to go, it’s easier to just draw on that and throw it out there, than to not only be struggling to speak at all, but have to think of what to say and how to say it.
For the second, again, this comes to practice. But I’m also sure that there are feminist/anti-racist/etc activists out there with their work in German, which might help you be better prepared with the kind of verbiage that works for these issues. I can’t really help you find them - I don’t speak a word of German and wouldn’t know where to begin looking - but there are activists in every country, speaking every language. It’s just a matter of finding them. (Followers, if anyone has any German-language anti-oppression resources, please let us know!)
The other option is the one I personally chose to take in the last couple years of my relationship with my father: refusal to engage. Arguing got us nowhere. He would get nasty and verbally abusive no matter how calm I tried to remain. So I finally told him point-blank that I would no longer engage in conversations about those subjects with him. Ways of enforcing this included changing the subject to something totally unrelated - bonus points for something clearly intended as a “no thank you” topic, like “beautiful weather we’re having today, isn’t it?” or something - stopping speaking altogether until he got the hint and moved on to something else, or quite literally leaving the room entirely. The point is to teach him that his words have consequences, and the consequence for being -ist is that he loses the pleasure of your company and conversation. It also takes control of the situation out of his hands, because *you’re* choosing whether or not to engage on *your* terms rather than him being able to push your buttons and get the desired response.
This will not necessarily go over well, so be prepared for that. If you choose this course of action, you have to commit 100% to it, else he’ll just learn he can wear you down and get his way anyway.
The other possibility, one I never used but could see possibly being useful depending on your relationship with your father, is a sort of withering contempt. He says something racist, you give him a disbelieving, patronizing sort of look and say something like “I’m sorry, could you remind me what decade we’re in? You sound like something out of a history book.” Or you shake your head a little and chuckle, saying “I suppose some people never learn.” The point is, rather than showing anger, make it very very clear just how pathetic you think he’s being.
Only you can say for sure which of these tactics would work best, because they all depend on you, what you’re comfortable with, the kind of relationship you have with your father, and his probable reactions and responses to various tactics. Like, as I said, I never used the withering contempt one because I know my father, and I know such a thing would only throw his rage response up into the red zone, which isn’t something I was interested in dealing with.
Just remember that you can’t save everyone. There are people who refuse to be convinced, and your father may be one of them - and if that’s the case, there’s no shame in adjusting your strategy based on taking care of and protecting yourself, rather than trying to make him see why he’s doing wrong.
Hope this helped some, let me know if you have other questions or anything - and followers, if any of y’all have more insights or strategies, please feel free to chime in.
*sigh* Dad’s email…
you know what’s fucking killing me here? oh, like a lot of stuff obvs, but at the moment it’s the fact that i don’t feel safe posting about this here. here. on my own motherfucking blog. because that…alleged human being has already shown a willingness to laugh at any boundary i try to set that he doesn’t want to respect, he has this URL, i wouldn’t be all that surprised if someone had shown him how to set up a google alert for my dad-bullshit-tag or something, and the first “point” in his email was basically saying “no you’re wrong to treat your blog like a personal space everything on the internet is for everyone”, so pretty clearly, yet again, giving the finger to my attempt to set a fucking boundary around something i don’t want him being part of. Like. Here’s the relevant section.
You and I both know the internet is NOT a diary. Period. Diaries are PRIVATE. This would be more along the lines of me walking into the public library and finding a notebook lying open on the table with all the vile, hateful things you said lying open for one and all to read. Or finding it on page 2 of the local newspaper or or or….
he compared my personal blog
to publishing shit in a newspaper
and don’t give me this “you and i both know” bullshit, you can fucking shove that wherever you’ve stashed your sense of empathy. you and bullies like you “know” that about the nature of the internet. me and my people, though, we know how to respect each other and how to understand the nuances of granular personal boundaries and that whole ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ thing that is so constantly and conveniently overlooked by your type of person. you and i do not both know your personal view of the world, and i am seething with rage that you’d try a cheap rhetorical trick like that to try to drag me into agreeing with you, or rather, capitulating to you.
but the two other things about this email that hit particularly hard
are that he starts it with “it took me so long to respond because i’m so very hurt by the things you said” and that whole song and dance
what IS it with people that y’all seem determined to believe that i just woke up one morning and decided to be a hateful cunt to my father for no reason??????
has it yet occurred to you to wonder WHY i said the shit i said, that those “vile, hateful things” were spoken out of my own hurt that you dealt me long before i had the power to say anything hurtful back to you?
you want me to offer sympathy and feel bad for how much *i* hurt *you*, but you also want to pretend that my “hurtful” words and actions took place in a vacuum, devoid of context.
that fecal matter will not become airborne.
and that he literally ended the email with “whenever you choose to see a different “reality” or “perceive” things differently feel free to call, write or stop by.”
you are LITERALLY TELLING ME that the only circumstances under which i should contact you are if i LITERALLY ALTER MY PERCEPTION OF REALITY TO MATCH YOURS
do you not see how flamingly arrogant and demanding and awful that is? ”i’m willing to work with you as soon as you agree that i’m right” is not a reasonable approach to, well, anyfuckingthing in this universe.
no wonder you’re a republican.
oh sweetheart. *hugs*
Dude, what the fuck?! :(
Yeah…part of what really pisses me off - aside from the usual “I get 100x angrier when someone hurts my loved ones than when they hurt me” thing - is that my brother and I are fairly fiscally responsible, or we try to be. As in, we’d never have taken out those loans without that promise of parental backing, cause we would’ve known we couldn’t afford that shit. So decisions about college were made based on one set of data, and now that it’s too late to like…go back and un-take-out thousands of dollars of loan debt, he gets all “lol fuck you you’re on your own”.
Which is entirely his usual pattern, too. I learned real quick when I was in college, that I *had* to placate him and agree with him and do what he wanted in order to get him to keep the promises he’d made, even for basic stuff like “paying my tuition” and “making sure I have food to eat”. His promises are never promises - they’re always conditional on your unquestioning obedience to his whims.
Just when I thought my father’s entry in the Dick Move Of The Year award couldn’t get any stronger after stalking my blog, disowning me, and calling in my grandmother and his best friend to help badger me over it…
apparently Mom got a call from my brother yesterday, rather freaked the fuck out.
Okay, hold up. Backstory first: my brother and I both went to college - I did 4 years at a regular university, he did one year at university and two years of a culinary academy program - and the family took out loans to make that happen. Some of the loans were parent loans, but those were supplemented by student loans in both mine and my brother’s names. However, Dad had always said that that was basically just for show, that he wanted us to start building our credit by having a debt in our own names that payments were being made on, even though the money for the payments was coming from him. He paid mine off bulk-sum several years ago - he’d told me it was a damn good tax year for him so he had the cash and wanted to clear it, but Mom said something about him refi’ing and rolling several of those kinds of loans into some larger loan account or something, idk, I just know that according to the student loan program, I’m clear.
Not so, my brother’s loan from Sallie Mae for his culinary school. Which Mom and Dad had been “splitting” - and by splitting I mean Dad deducted half the monthly payment out of Mom’s alimony, which was totally not okayed by the courts or their MSA, but whatever - and which, as part of their recent alimony-buyout settlement thing, he agreed, in writing, signed and sealed by the court, to take “sole responsibility” for that loan debt.
So anyway, yesterday Mom got a call from my brother. Because he’d gotten a call from Sallie Mae saying “hey this hasn’t been paid and you need to make immediate arrangements for payment now.”
And as far as anyone can tell, that’s basically my dad just deciding that since fuck us kids for not being little obedient clones of him, he’s going to stop paying on that loan entirely and screw Nick over, since the damn loans are still technically in his name.
Mom’s going to call her attorney on Monday and see if she can get some kind of formal notice sent that he’s in violation of a signed legal agreement and that she will take him to court to enforce that agreement if necessary.
But seriously, dude? Go back on ten years’ worth of promises to everyone about major financial decisions just to spite your son?
Fuck you with a rusty spade, you enormous piece of liquefied cow feces.
To remind myself of my rights in the face of gentle shaming for allowing my father to cut me out of his life
I am not obligated to meet my abuser on his terms in order to heal/continue our relationship.
I have a right to draw reasonable boundaries and enforce them.
I am not obligated to keep a toxic person in my life just because I got half of my genetic material from him.
Men are not an alien species incapable of understanding emotions who deserve to be coddled and never asked to do the difficult work of communicating in a healthy manner with other people.
Not-men (women et al) are not responsible for using our magical powers of emotion and intuition to manipulate the men around us into pseudo-healthy relationships.
Excusing verbal abuse by saying “a man arguing with a wife or daughter is kind of like bringing a knife to a gunfight, so we sometimes just yell and say shitty things” is NOT OKAY.
Emotional abuse is generally far more than just yelling at one’s kids.
Just because you choose to “work around his pride” in order to stay friends, doesn’t mean I should, can, or will do the same.
And on that note, a friend’s relationship with an emotional abuser is not REMOTELY comparable to being said abuser’s child.
Request for feedback
A chunk of my reply to Steve about my dad and all that bullshit:
If you think saying things that cause irreparable damage is a bad idea, have you considered telling my father that? He doesn’t have a private blog for everyone to creep on, so you don’t see the things he’s said, but believe me, he’s said them. I didn’t just wake up one morning and spitefully decide to hate my father and say nasty things about him. So maybe he should’ve thought about the damage he was doing at any point in the last 20 years or so, rather than playing the victim and having everyone jump down my throatnow, about the thingsI’ve said, which were said not to him (unlike the many things he’s said to me over the years) but were said well away from anywhere he should’ve been, to my own social support network of friends, simply to vent some of my anger and bitterness and hurt over some of the things he’s said and done.This is, incidentally, why I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry at the assertion that ifIhurthim badly enough he’ll push me away. He’s done enough to push me away several times over, well before this incident. But I set it aside - did my venting elsewhere to stay sane (like, for example, on my personal blog!), because there was no way I could just keep it all inside and pretend nothing was wrong - and did my best to have a good relationship with my father nonetheless, precisely BECAUSE I remember and honor the good times and the things he’s done for me. And yet now I’m being punished for daring to need to speak to my own friends, in my own space? Give me a break! How does that sound reasonable to any of you?I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know how to reach y’all. If I’d wanted Dad, or Tutu, or you to see the stuff I blog about, I have y’all’s email addresses. I know where everyone is on Facebook. But I made the deliberate choice to keep my feelings confined to arenas away from the eyes of my family.And yet my dad went snooping, waltzed past the boundaries I’d asked him to respect, found the things I’d so carefully never said to him precisely to AVOID having this kind of blowup over it, things I’d kept separate because I love my father and was doing my best to still have a good relationship with him, flipped his shit at me, and then acted - and obviously told everyone else this version of events, too, as y’all are following his lead on this one - as if it was all my fault. So, what, I should’ve just never ever spoken about my life to anyone, ever, anywhere? Or is it that I’m not allowed to even think these things or have these feelings?For a man who’s all about “personal responsibility”, he’s awfully reluctant to take responsibility for his actions, both the past actions that I blogged about, and the recent actions where he went all stalker-y on my blog. Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to; don’t eavesdrop on conversations if you’re not sure you’ll like what you hear. But no, it’s not about his choices to poke around my blog and dig into things I was keeping to myself - it’s about my choice to seek support from my friends. That’s the true evil here. That’s the problem. Therefore it’s my fault for “saying things that cause irreparable damage” and “hurting my father”. Not his fault for “being an emotionally-abusive alcoholic” and “reading my blogs after I’d asked him not to”.
Oh my god I cannot even.
So I get an email this evening
from Steve. Honorary-uncle of sorts, Dad’s bestest friend from high school onward. Pretty good guy. We’re about half-half on political stuff, he’s way too pro-gun and anti-tax but he’s always been willing to back me on certain issues when I would go head-to-head with dad over it.
Anyway, this email is about how Dad “had a few drinks and told me about your blogs” and so “I went out and read a bit myself, thought about it awhile, and decided to email you.”
JFC WHAT IS WITH YOU PEOPLE AND THE TOTAL LACK OF RESPECT FOR MY FUCKING PRIVACY??????????????
And I know that means Dad actually had to link him to them, of course. I send the man a giant email about how I’m not okay with this violation of my privacy and I do not want him here, he is not welcome here…so he links other family members to it.
Cool story, bro.
Also, fuck you.
And the rest of the email is “your dad is an asshole sometimes but he’s not as bad as he could’ve been, he’s still Your Dad, you shouldn’t be burning bridges like this” and that sort of thing
OKAY I DID NOT BURN ANY MOTHERFUCKING BRIDGES THAT HE HADN’T ALREADY THROWN THE TORCH AT
I may have chosen not to piss on them to put them out, but the fire was started before I got there.
CHRIST what is WITH you people?!?! I want to fucking scream. I want to physically grab each one of them and shake them and yell in their damn stupid faces until it gets through their thick skulls that THEY ARE NOT WELCOME TO TROMP THEIR MUDDY FUCKING BOOTS ALL THROUGH MY BLOG AGAIN AND AGAIN ESPECIALLY AFTER I’VE SAID DON’T!
Just because you are males of the next layer up on the family tree doesn’t give you a free pass to enter my spaces at will. Your “familial rank” does not give you an override on my boundaries.
I’m going to reply to Steve because I’m too angry not to. I’m going to be polite and explain shit because I genuinely like and respect him. But it’s just fucking infuriating because haven’t I fucking hashed over this exact shit enough times already? No, once more for the nosebleed seats, I guess. Yes, my dad had his good points. No, he’s not nearly as bad as he could’ve been. No, that doesn’t cancel out the fact that he’s a drunk with anger management issues and an emotional abuser. Actually, I *can* blame him for the ways in which he’s contributed to my dysfunction, thanks very much. Also, I AM working on fixing myself, and if you got the impression that I’m just sitting around being a whiny piece of shit that just complains about Daddy without ever trying to fix my scars and un-learn the toxic-ass shit I internalized from him…what the fuck blog have you been reading?
Like I said, I don’t think saying things that cause irreparable damage are a good idea. No one profits from it and if you hurt your father bad enough, he will push you away for the rest of your life. You might think that’s a good idea now. I promise, later in life you will regret it.
If that’s what you really think is going on here, you have been
gravely misinformed flat the fuck lied to, and I am not going to sit here and quietly listen to you moralizing to me based on a version of events that has no connection to reality whatsofuckingever.
another nasty email from dad tonight
this one was…worse somehow. like the gaslighting bullshit was strong enough to make me start doubting my experiences and emotions again, and that hasn’t happened in a long time. shook me up pretty badly tbh.
so i’m writing my response to him finally. saying the things i need to say, and after that, it’s over. he ended his with basically ‘if you’re ever ready to grovel and admit you were 500% wrong and i was 6000% right, you know where to find me’, and i’m ending mine with ‘and if you’re ever ready to grow up and take responsibility for your actions, likewise.’
my hand hurts and i’m tired and kinda hate everything right now.
i’m going to put my response email up as a google doc because i’d like feedback on it before i hit send so please if anyone is willing to take a look inbox me or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and i’ll send you the link.