By: Revanche

Cutting off my father: update 1

November 29, 2017

Stepping back from familial obligations: update 1 I knew this would be a multi-step process but who knew it’d require a Trello board of its own. I’m assuming there will be more updates after this.

My first step was to tell Dad that the support has to stop. I legitimately tried to call and speak to him like a decent human but when he didn’t pick up, I took that as a sign to just leave him a message and emotionally shift the burden. That night, I also emailed to make sure that if the voicemail wasn’t heard for some reason, he had the email, I know he checks that.

He didn’t respond for a day but I wasn’t waiting around for a confirmation.

On to step two, realizing that the move has turned our lives upside down and this was collateral damage – I can’t find my car title anywhere. ARGH. After several fruitless searches, and annoyingly finding a digital copy of the title but not the physical copy, I sent off to the DMV for a duplicate title. Waiting for it is torture but it’s given me time to strategize. (That thing is going to turn up when the duplicate arrives, I just know it.)

Third step, stop making the same mistakes.

I wasn’t in the right mental space to take his calls when they finally came and I normally firmly believe in following your gut on phone calls – never pick up unless you’re ready. You can’t take back what you say in anger or haste. I often make exceptions for Dad because he’s Dad and when will I ever be in the mood for whatever nonsense I have to deal with when we talk?

No more.

It’s now clear that my brother’s playbook is Dad’s playbook. It’s effective if you grant the premise, that you care about the player as much as they care about themselves. They’re really good at convincing you that you do, too, playing on your human empathy and plying false gratitude. It’s really sincere, if you don’t know better.

Now I do.

When I refused to engage on the phone, an email arrived. For the first time (and maybe last because I LIKE being right) in my life, I was angry that I was right. A teeny tiny part of me still hoped that he would take the opportunity to make the right call. Hope dies hard.

You see, just a couple days before I’d explained to a friend why I hadn’t taken or returned his calls – having had this revelation, I predicted (maybe unfairly) that he was going to try to persuade me to give him more time or more money and I didn’t have the patience to hear that without blowing up. If I blow up, that probably blows up my chances of getting him to sign the title to transfer ownership. Besides, I had given him all the information he needed: I don’t have money anymore – it needs to pay for JB’s therapy, I was instructed by the lawyer to stop supporting, and I’d be sending his November contribution back to him. That covers all the bases – other than acknowledging my message, there was nothing else to discuss unless you wanted to push back.

He SHOULD have said: JB needs therapy? Take care of your baby! I’ll take care of myself. What he said instead was textbook manipulation. The salient points:

1. He confirmed getting my messages, he’d tried calling me back, is JB sick?
2: You’ve supported me and your brother for so long and carried this burden for so long, we appreciate it so much.
3: Don’t send back my Nov contribution, I’ll send YOU more to cover most of the rent, if you could please help me out with the rest of it for this month. I’ll send you 3/4 of the rent for the next three months, if you can just kick in the last 1/4, and I’ll definitely find a new place to live by February. I should have taken care of this before but definitely will find something by Feb. Please hang in there just for three months, at $500 a month, and definitely I’ll find a cheaper place.
4: I’ve had really painful teeth so I had to get dental work done and it was so expensive that I didn’t have money before but that’s taken care of now. So I’ll definitely be able to move out by Feb.

Here’s the translation:

  1. Faux concern: Act like you care.
  2. Faux agreement and gratitude, false empathy: Keep acting like you care. He expresses undying gratitude so he must feel it. He grants my premises, all of them, that I can’t keep doing this, agrees that he was wrong not to take care of this before. This way, I can’t say that he doesn’t appreciate everything I’ve done and won’t appreciate the further things I will do. This is a set up for ….
  3. The promises, plus a new plan that benefits only him. See how he deftly ignored my “I have no money because I need it to take care of your grandchild – the child that I carried and birthed and am responsible for”? It’s a total dodge. Instead he presents me with a step by step plan that I should definitely go for because it’s definite. For sure. Promise. PINKY PROMISE.
  4. The empathy hookback and “guarantee” – He was in pain so he had to take care of it, only a monster wouldn’t agree to that being a priority. This also answers the question of why he hadn’t taken care of this three months ago according to the last deadline I’d given so I can’t object this time. If life hadn’t happened to him, he would have had money for this before and he totally will now because life won’t happen again. Not to him, not this time.

Now if I hadn’t predicted exactly what he would do and say, I might have believed him.

The problem is that he’s shown me all of these separate pieces before. I was convinced that he cared. I was convinced that he had been doing his best. I believed that he would do his best going forward. All of them put together now were supposed to be powerful, but stealing from me put a crack in the facade. We all know what he should have said, and this was none of that.

There’s nothing in there about how he’s going to get the money, there’s nothing concrete about how the Life Happened bit won’t happen again. Nothing, most importantly, about how he’s an adult who can handle his business so I can care for my very minor child.

As a friend says, play chess if you’re up against a manipulator, and that’s looking a lot like what we have here. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. You know how that goes.

Fourth step after succeeding at Step 3 – Find positive things to offset my fresh anger and disappointment. My soul needs nourishing and that means looking for good things in the world. I checked on all my ailing friends to make sure they’re fed. Researched investments options for a cousin to hide escape assets from an abusive SO. Made dinner plans with some good friends, and paid up all our bills possible. Made a transfer mistake and got a fee waived.

Fifth – on to my aunt to confirm that she will do me a favor and deliver the cash to Dad. That way he can’t avoid cashing a check from me, and he can’t pretend he never got it.

Sixth – formulate a plan and cover story to convince him that taking the car as a gift benefits him, not me. He’s not stupid – there’s a strong possibility that he’ll refuse to accept the transferred ownership because if he does, he’d have to pay for insurance or registration. I have to manage the optics for him long enough to get him to do what I need for a change. If I show my cards too early and show that I’m truly cutting him off before I get that done, he may very well refuse to sign the title.

While I’m waiting on that, seventh – check my credit report to make sure that nothing has been opened in my name, and research a credit freeze. This will seriously cramp my app-o-rama credit card churning style because the credit reporting agencies charge $10 for each freeze AND for each lift. Ugh. I’ve already reviewed one of my credit reports to ensure that it’s clean, and the TransUnion one is clean so that much is a relief. If nothing else, I will probably freeze all my reports for as long as it takes to complete the decoupling.

I hadn’t had time to respond to his email because of all the above research so of course, he took my silence for consent and carried on with his plan, depositing more money into that account. That leads me to …. Eighth – realize a day too late that I should close the checking account that he has the account number to. He doesn’t have access to withdraw money, only deposit, but it leaves him an avenue to try and send me money and say “but you have the money, can’t you just pay the rent this month? (and next, and next)”.

Ninth – It was out of general caution that I only shared our address with one person I’m related to but now that looks like great planning. None of my relatives know how to contact friends who might have my new address, either. I’m also using a post office box address for mail, too, so they won’t be able to give up my home address. This links to protecting my credit report. Even if he has my SSN, not having my present address should make it harder for him to apply for credit in my name.

Hard as it is to believe, as I type this from my comfortable home, I actually feel guilty that I’m pressing him to get out there and fend for himself. This may need therapy because have I not toiled enough for ten people by now? Why on earth do I feel guilty? He’s got the support system of his relatives even if they are disgruntled at him, they won’t abandon him (like I am?) and he’s got some income. He will have to figure out how to be fine, and I shouldn’t have to suffer more just to make that a reality.

:: Can you send “hurry and send it” vibes at the DMV for me? And also some good luck with the title signing business?

Updates: I immediately ran into resistance and manipulation (2)

29 Responses to “Cutting off my father: update 1”

  1. I am glad you’ve been able to steel yourself from your father’s manipulations and I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible for you.
    Yet Another PF Blog recently posted…All The Clothes I Bought This Year Part 2My Profile

  2. SP says:

    This sounds difficult, but I’m impressed with your strength and resolve. Congratulations on taking these big steps and moving forward with your life. I hope the worst of it is over.
    SP recently posted…Bits and PiecesMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      It very much is difficult, and yet there’s a part of me that can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel that makes it worth it.

  3. Sally says:

    Credit freezes: I froze my credit because I “may have been” (stock cya language) hit by the Equifax thing. None of the credit bureaus charged for the freezes–apparently the freeze cost charged is determined by state law. It was very easy for me in a no-charge state– I did it online at each of the credit bureau websites. Transunion and Experian sent me my unlock codes via postal mail; Equifax provided it onscreen. I haven’t had cause to unlock any of them yet, but– actually freezing your credit could easily be done very quickly. Less than an hour combined.

    About your father and the transfer: good luck. My concern for you is that since you’ve already put him on notice that he’s cut off, he’s going to be suspicious and/or drag his feet on further changes if he thinks any part of it is up to him. If he doesn’t sign and take on ownership by a certain date, are you prepared to take possession of the car yourself and either get it to your own home, sell it, or donate it somewhere for the write-off? Perhaps telling him that if he doesn’t sign, it means he won’t have a car at all will get him to proceed. Whatever you do, I personally wouldn’t tell him why or go into the reasons. With uncooperative people, I sometimes think that providing any additional information just gives them ammo for a conversation you don’t need to have. It makes them think that if they can counter your reasoning or keep going over their own reasoning, you’ll change your mind. If it’s not up for discussion, why give them any more to discuss than you have to?

    About the feelings… what you’re doing is a hard thing, and it goes counter to a lot of the programming you were given throughout your life. There is a situation in my own life regarding my extended family over which I’ve had to reframe guilt as unhappiness. I started out with a lot of guilt, but have managed to get to where I don’t feel guilty about the situation and what I’m doing– I don’t have control over the situation, and what I’m doing is the right thing for me and my family, even if others don’t agree. I do feel unhappy about it. I wish that the variables were different. I wish it was possible for me to fulfill the expectations and also protect myself and my family. But unhappiness… I can live with unhappiness more easily than guilt. Maybe challenging that guilt when it crops up and trying to reframe it would help you, too. If you try it, I hope it does help.

    • Revanche says:

      California charges $10 per freeze for us, and $10 each time we want to lift it so I’m working on better timing for that.

      Your concern about the transfer is totally valid! I have the exact same concern, and so I have told him that the car will have to be sold unless he wants me to sign it over to him instead. He hasn’t bothered to respond so I’ll give it another week and then I’ll check again that he knows he either has to take ownership of it or I’ll have to take it back with me over Christmas.

      I really like how you’ve reframed that feeling of guilt, thank you so much for sharing it. I’m going to give it a shot and see how it helps.

  4. Reece says:

    You are doing hard things……give yourself some grace. Great job taking care of you and your family. Also, I agree with an above commenter–advise your father if he doesn’t sign the car transfer title you will be taking the car back, and sell it at a great price to someone who could really use the help. Win-win.

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you, you make a good point. I would be far kinder to a friend going through these things than I remember to be to myself.

      Thanks for the support.

  5. Joe says:

    Stay strong. Things will be better once the process is over. It’s tough.

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you. I’m taking it step by step like a project to keep myself on track and from having too many feelings about it.

  6. Linda says:

    I’m not sure how I missed this post, so apologies for the late comment. You’re doing a hard thing, but you’re doing it for totally valid reasons. We’re all here to give you the boost you need when you’re feeling down about your decisions, or when you’re angry about being in this situation. Giving you another {{{hug}}} because you probably still need it.
    Linda recently posted…Staring down the inevitable?My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      No, thanks for hanging with me during this whole saga. It is emotionally much more difficult than I expected so all your support is so valued. And oh goodness the anger. It’s definitely there.

  7. […] She’s starting to do it. She’s cutting off her deadbeat father. […]

  8. Jeannie says:

    I’m new to your website. Just wanted to say stay strong. You’re faced with an extremely difficult situation and I admire your strength & resolve.
    My own father has shown troubling signs in the last few years, losing most of his side of my parents retirement fund in risky business ventures and showing very little remorse for doing so without consulting my mother. I’m hoping he will turn around, but it seems there’s a certain ‘pride’ or ‘saving face’ element to it and he just isn’t willing to stop. Just the other day, I found out he’s invested what little inheritance he received at my Grandpa’s recent passing in another one of these business ventures. It’s making me very afraid, and quite heartbroken for my mother who worked so so hard her entire life.
    All the best to you.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the support. There’s very little that’s easy about this even though I know it’s the right thing to do.
      I can empathize with the position you’re in, that whole “saving face” crap was a huge part of Dad’s excuse for what he did and it wasn’t something I could argue with.
      I truly hope you can disentangle your mom from the consequences of his actions, though. I feel for the spouse who is stuck in those situations :/

  9. Oh, I’m so glad that you are doing this! From the outside, it’s hard to understand the guilt that plagues you – but I believe it, and I pray for your strength to withstand it and to keep carrying through with what is so patently the right thing to do. Be assured that this is a false guilt – the product of a life-time of manipulation.
    This is the first I’m hearing about your stress with JB. I am very sorry to learn of it, and I wish you all very well. I hope that health will flood in once this terribly sick relationship has been severed.
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Reflections on My Mother’s PassingMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, and the support. I’m sure you’re right about the source of the guilt, and I hope that removing the toxicity from this part of my life will do wonders for all of us.

  10. GYM says:

    Stay strong 🙁 It’s really hard when our parents act more immature than we do. Know that you are doing the right things and are guided by your own values and beliefs now because you are an adult.

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you. It’s still hard to reconcile who I thought he was with who he apparently is now but that can happen even while I’m protecting my own family.

  11. Sandy L says:

    Narcissism. There is a saying that my mom uses when describing certain family members with this egocentric world view. “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is also mine.” The original saying is “one hand washes the other”. The narcissist view however feels entitled to people sharing with them without the flip-side to be true.

    One narcissist I know would always marvel at how I would always get a helping hand from lots of people when I needed it. But I always help others out when I can so they are happy to reciprocate. If you don’t ever selflessly help another, then why do you wonder that it doesn’t happen to you? But that’s just it. They only see what they’re not getting, not what they are not giving.

    Hopefully the car title transfer will be seen as “gift,” not as something being taken away.

    You are in pretty deep, so I expect it will take a while to get to 0. Good luck. It is the right thing to do and you are taking all the right methodical steps to get to the finish line. Keep thinking of your own child and immediate family and you’ll be able to stick with the plan however hard it is.

    I also totally understand the guilt. The fact is, you are resourceful enough to find a way to continue to support him if you wanted to. It may be at the expense of your own health and that of your child, but you do have a choice and you’re choosing not to continue supporting someone who depends on you. Even if they totally deserve to be cut off, even if they are selfish, even if they take advantage at every turn.

    You are the rock everyone relies on and you are taking that away. But to that I say, you can still be the rock, without lending financial support. Unfortunately, most of the time, these people don’t want help on how to help themselves. The guilt is real but will fade. People are resilient and they will find a way to make do. I don’t support people who’s other sources of handouts have dried out and somehow they’re managing without me. I didn’t stay close enough to them to know how they do it exactly, but they still have a roof over their heads. Who knows maybe they even stooped low enough to get jobs again, GASP! I cringe when I think of how much money would’ve went into the black hole if I didn’t have my own children and mom to think about.

    • Revanche says:

      That’s too true. I remember once I was going to give him back someone’s reimbursement and he said “keep it, it’s family money”. It was only $20 but it definitely gave me a funny feeling about how exactly he viewed “our” money because I certainly didn’t think of it that way.

      It’s true that the guilt stems from being pretty sure I could find a way to support him but I am no longer willing to make the effort nor to sacrifice myself or my family for him. It’s not worth it.

      I can hardly stomach the thought of seeing him again after this, after all these lies and discoveries, but I’ll have to find a way to deal with it a little longer.

  12. You are doing the right thing for yourself, and your family. It’s so difficult, and challenging emotionally, so stay strong & focus on the end goal. And, self care. Think of a few things you can do for yourself, on hard days. Reading for 10 minutes alone. A cup of tea with a friend. A walk in the park crunching dry leaves. Listening to your favorite song on repeat. 10 minutes of meditation.

    Big hugs. You’ve got this.

  13. Kris says:

    Sending all the good vibes and throwing up a prayer or two, too! This is so hard but I’m glad you are doing it. It is not easy, either emotionally or in all the physical steps it takes to do it.

  14. Laura says:

    How awful that you’re having to be the only adult in your relationship with your father. What ended up happening? Who got the car? Did they move out? If so is he speaking to you? How did your relatives respond? Do they think you should have let him stay? How is your child? I want to rest easy knowing something at least went your way.

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