By: Revanche

Cutting off my father: update 2

January 15, 2018

Quick recapIt was time to cut off my father who I’ve supported for nearly 20 years. I grieved, then started the process.

For several days, I ignored that manipulative email convincing me to keep helping. After closing my bank account that he had deposit-access to, so that he can’t deposit any cash in an attempt to twist my arm into writing more checks for him, I found calmness in my soul again.

With that protection, I responded to that email with a faux-contrite decline to provide further funds saying that I couldn’t come up with anything extra.

That’s not precisely true, when I have to, I can usually find a way to scrape money together but I’m simply not willing to take a second job to support him again. I phrased that as “I can’t”.

We are truthfully groaning under the weight of our current obligations: a five digit annual bill for property tax, a five digit annual bill for daycare with two increases expected this year, a merely terrifying mortgage, and corresponding insurances but all that aside, he doesn’t need, or get, to know the true state of our finances when he doesn’t care about our well-being. In a world where my Dad loved me, he would have expressed concern for us when I described our faux financial distress even if there was nothing he could do about it. In reality, he didn’t reply for weeks.

My aunt called with an update saying that he managed to find a job that would enable him to make the rest of the rent on his own, so I shouldn’t worry anymore. (Secret: I wasn’t planning to.)

I was inwardly desperate to wash my hands of the whole situation before Christmas but there was still the car with attendant registration and insurance cost. The DMV gods were, as usual, unkind.

Getting the replacement title from the DMV has been a saga. The request was mailed 6 weeks before I needed it but they didn’t tell me that they wanted additional information until 7 weeks after they received the request. “What information?”, queried I. “No one can tell”, they responded. They used a “missing information” code that corresponds to no reasons at all, I’d have to wait for a letter in the mail. Good grief, DMV, get with the times and email me for the love of Mike!

In the end, it was finally revealed that they wanted me to go to the DMV with my ID just to verify I am who I am. On December 20th.


This drove me to getting a AAA membership for the second time in my life, having avoided the expense all these years because hell will freeze over before I voluntarily go to the DMV around the holidays. AAA processed the information and sent the request through again for another 4-6 week wait, so I had to go to on our holidays with the knowledge that I couldn’t be done with this mess until January. FINE. *kicks rocks*

We spent the holiday break somewhat fruitfully, though.

I couldn’t bear the thought of speaking to him so, flying by the seat of our pants (and luck because I refused to call him to ask when he would be home), we managed a visit to the house when he was preoccupied. We  cleared out everything I considered crucial from my old room – quilts from my surrogate mom, my only gift from Grandma, Hulk hands, all paperwork that had my SSN or identification in any way (paystubs from 2008, tax returns from last decade) to be shredded. Five boxes were loaded in the car when I heard him emerge from his room. I literally ran out of there clutching my 33 year old teddy bear (for JB!). DRAMATIC EXIT.

There were a couple WTF moments after that.

First, I ran into my Trainwreck Sibling, shuffling around, who asked for Seamus back. Not a chance in hell. Seamus deserves much better than life with you.

Then, Dad gifted JB with a $50 red envelope for Christmas at our family dinner. After years of not having any money, a month after he’s forced to deal with paying for his own self, he does this? I couldn’t articulate the reasons for my rage at the time but a friend asked me on Twitter for some background and it started making sense:

Background: The red envelope is a cultural tradition. They always flow downward from marrieds (parents, aunts/uncles, older cousins) to younger singles.

There are some social implications there, in the older generation, older marrieds are always obligated to give one with even just $5 no matter what. It symbolizes a wish for prosperity in the new year (when given on Lunar NY). It wasn’t the red envelope that made me mad, it was the amount. I’ve busted my ass for half my life for his lying self. I FINALLY tell him he’s on his own this fall, he chooses to try to manipulate me more instead of being a good person.

Then after all that hassle, which still isn’t done, he acts like he’s some rich bigshot giving zir fifty @*$#!! dollars when he hasn’t been able to make his rent for the past 17 years?

It also ties into all the other times he has borrowed money and stiffed family members, thoroughly humiliating me when I found out, but insisting on giving money at weddings & funerals to “save face”. So he’s willing to spend on his reputation where it’s visible but if he doesn’t have to, well, #*&@ you! This doesn’t even begin to make up for that 5-figure amount he stole from us and point blank lied to my face about.

Thus ended December on a fairly dismal note. Thank goodness for January.

Far too many weeks after the first request, the title is FINALLY here. I’ve been working on crafting a story for him to sign this title transfer and take it to the DMV, and quickly, because I don’t want to pay this coming year’s registration nor do I want to pay for it to be repossessed (my flight to SoCal, asking a friend for help spiriting the car away, then donating it to a worthy cause). It really has to look like it is for his benefit and not for mine. As his track record shows, anything that could help me is speedily rejected in favor of something that would only help him and hurt me.

I’ve set things into motion, now we have to wait and see if he actually complies.

:: Wish me luck? If we have to Bonnie & Clyde the car, any suggestions on what scarves to wear?

34 Responses to “Cutting off my father: update 2”

  1. Sarah @ Couple of Sense says:

    Thanks for sharing the update. I saw the red envelope issue on Twitter in real time and once again your feelings make sense. I find I get the most frustrated when people put up this front for holidays and special occasions but then don’t show up, financially or otherwise, at any other time.

    Take away the dog, HA!

    Best of luck with the title transfer.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the empathy. I wondered if I was overreacting but talking it out real time helped a lot.

      I’m going to be on pins and needles this week waiting to see if he’s going to follow through.

  2. Joe says:

    What can I say? Stay strong. It’s tough.
    My dad lives in Thailand so I don’t have to deal with his antics… Lucky me. 🙂

  3. Best of luck! Man, my first thought with that $50 is that it is going to take a lot of $50 to make up for the 10K in JB’s daycare money that he stole.

    My father tries to control us by trying to give us large sums of money and is genuinely angry that we refused to accept (or our suggestion that he put them in DC’s 529, or give money to charity). Now I think he’s genuinely getting dementia rather than just his normal being a controlling jerk. There was a huge amount of drama last Christmas resulting in us only spending time with DH’s family this past Christmas which was so nice (we were able to get plane tickets in July! the only tantrums were from children under the age of 5!) except for the emails my father sent accusing me of gaslighting him and me being a sociopath, where he cc’d my husband, my sister, my mother, and the author of some book on sociopaths. (I told my sister to convince him that if that’s true he’s better off without me!) I worry about my mom, but I also don’t know what to do.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted…On knowing what’s out there: loosely connected thoughts from vacation with the relativesMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you! That’s what I thought, too. And that it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than 200 $50 red envelopes to repair our relationship.

      I’m sorry y’all also had drama this holiday but lack of adult tantrums seems like a fairly big silver lining.

      I’m with you – if he wants to convince everyone that you’re a sociopath, then it makes a lot of sense to put distance between y’all.

      Is your mom is relatively good health? Does she manage to coexist with him despite his behavior?

      • Re: my mom. I don’t know! He’s always been controlling and basically what Captain Awkward calls “an Alice”, but I do worry that he’s getting worse and taking it out on my mom. She’s stopped calling us on holidays/birthdays over the past year but still sends presents and she will occasionally IM about unrelated things. Another benefit is the stopping of her telling me, “Do X so your father doesn’t feel left out/get into one of his moods/etc.” It is so freeing not to have to tiptoe around all the time. All I can tell myself is that she’s an adult and she’s still sane and she’s making these choices, and I try to ignore the voice that tells me that abused people don’t really have full choice sets. But I have to protect my own family first.
        nicoleandmaggie recently posted…On knowing what’s out there: loosely connected thoughts from vacation with the relativesMy Profile

        • Revanche says:

          *nods* I know what you mean. If she wants to break free (is that even possible?), I hope she knows that you’d be there for her, but you can’t keep subjecting yourself or your family to his abuse in the meantime on the hope that she’ll want to get out either.

  4. SP says:

    Good luck on the car step, and I’m so happy that you have been able to make such good progress cutting him off and moving on. I’m sorry he’s still trying to manipulate them, but proud of you for being strong enough to see through it. (And seamus going back to live with your brother?! HA, yeah right!

    This makes me extra thankful for my family, which has their quirks/imperfections but is generally good to each other / no major mental illness.
    SP recently posted…2018 Goals and PlansMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks – generally I’m both appreciative when people share their troubles in solidarity but also when friends don’t have to deal with similar shenanigans.

  5. Cloud says:

    You’re doing great holding it together in a very difficult situation. Fingers-crossed the car situation gets resolved soon!

    I’ve had AAA for years. I consider it a small bit of insurance against bad car luck at a bad time. We’ve only ever used in on a car parked at our house (two flat tires and, just this year, a dead battery), but they come quickly and fix the problem, which gives me hope that if I ever need it in a desolate parking lot somewhere, they’ll come quickly then, too! (Also as long as you have the membership, always remember to check for a AAA discount at any hotels. It usually gets you the same rate as AARP and the like.)
    Cloud recently posted…Weekend Reading: Links from the Road EditionMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you – I’m hoping the collective hopes of friends will help.

      I don’t mind having the back up plan of AAA, it’s probably better that I have it just in case since we can afford it. And since hotel reservations are always in my name, it’ll help us with the AAA discount!

    • Chrstina says:

      If you’re just using it for emergencies (not discounts), look into getting road hazard through your car insurance. I had a couple of bad experiences with AAA (waited a long time, guy didn’t have the right tool to change my tire so I had to wait another hour), then I found out a similar service is available through my State Farm car insurance for like $2/ month. They contract through local places and both times I’ve used it, it’s been less than a 10 minute wait and the people they sent were very competent.

      • Revanche says:

        Thanks for the suggestion. I’d use their discounts too but it’s good to know of back ups if their service doesn’t work out for us.

  6. Oh, man. What a trying saga this is.

    I’m so happy that you are taking these steps and are moving towards resolution.

    I, too, have a difficult relationship with my father, whom I haven’t told about our pregnancy and do not plan to. I’m setting up boundaries, yo. No need to subject our little guy to the shitshow that is his grandfather…

    Cautiously optimistic that things are going to resolve well with the car for you! Fingers crossed.
    Done by Forty recently posted…PF Chat: Tax Cuts and Jobs ActMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you – it’s been a monumental exercise of patience! But as long as there is progress, I am keeping hope alive. And thanks for the support. And YAY FOR A NEW LITTLE ONE!

  7. Laura says:

    OMGosh. It’s not over for you. I hope you get the title soon. Once the car issue is resolved then your financial issues with him are done (ignoring the theft)? You can close the book then? I remember you were helping with the rent. I’m assuming that since he now has a job, your helping with the rent ended?

    Girl. I feel for you. I admire the hell out of your strength and resolve to put yourself and your own family first. Even in American culture that’s hard to do. In yours it’s even harder. I’m hoping this is resolved soon for you. Hugs.

    • Revanche says:

      No, it’s not over by a long shot. I stopped helping with the rent at the end of last year, there are a few more areas I have to remove my help systemically. Thanks for the empathy & support.

  8. Cindy in the South says:

    I hear you, my dad, and I am almost 58 yrs old, abandoned my mom when she was pregnant with me, in a tiny, Southern town. He met me only once, when I was a year old, so, of course, I do not remember him. He did not want me to carry his last name, and that just was not done in the deep rural South over a half a century ago. He dropped dead of a heart attack at age 52, and I had to read about it in the paper. I am his only child and I was not listed as all in the obituary. I am cursed with his genetic heart issues. Although I feel like, for the most part, I have managed to survive the emotional trauma associated with him, I cannot escape my hereditary medical history….sigh. So, yea, I understand how you feel about your dad. You did the right thing.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the empathy, as always, Cindy. I feel for you and your experiences with your own father – it just doesn’t seem right that their choices affect us so badly. It does sound like your mother and your children had and have good strong relationships with you, though, so I tip my hat at your ability to do well despite his issues. I hope the best for your heart health <3

  9. NZ Muse says:

    Scarves … I have one in sort of various geometric shapes of varying shades of blue I’m quite partial to 😉 I think it would be a good look for a B&C escapade.

    But seriously. Painful, but necessary – hoping and wishing for a speedy process so that you can move on to the next thing.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Productive worrying vs pointless spiralling: How I stop myself from freaking out about moneyMy Profile

  10. GYM says:

    Sorry to hear that this is not over yet. Lunar new year is coming up, I wonder if he will be doing the red envelope thing again. I have a post coming up about my dad as well. In short, he hasn’t met his first and only grandson and doesn’t seem interested to. It would be nice if people who have children actually care for their children and not want to hurt them, the world would be a lot less messed up.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks, I have to resign myself to the knowledge that it’s going to be a while, but slow and steady is better than rushed and unfinished.

      I’m sorry that you also have similar issues with your dad toward your son – my dad is also pretty disinterested in his only grandchild. He pretends to give a hoot in person but he’s never made any effort to actually spend time with zir.

      I sure wish the basic parent-child bond was a real and consistent thing.

  11. Sandy L says:

    good luck convincing him the title transfer was his idea. Sending good vibes your way. So great to hear the plan is moving forward slowly but surely.

  12. Matt says:

    I wish you all the luck with this saga – sounds like its slowly if not painfully going in the right direction. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do something like this and it really truly sounds like you’re handling it calmly and rationally. I don’t have any great suggestions on getting him to sign title on the car, unfortunately.

    You have the support of your readers – keep going you’ll get through it all before you know it – one step at a time!
    Matt recently posted…Pressing the reset button!My Profile

  13. Anonymess says:

    Adding my voice to the others wishing you the best, sympathizing with your predicament, and shaking their heads at your father’s behavior.

    And also clapping in delight that your list of crucial items included Hulk hands. Yesssss.

  14. I find the updates of this monumental cutting-off extremely satisfying. I’m sorry that it’s so difficult, but it’s such a triumph that you’re doing it all despite the difficulty. Eyes wide open, you know the car thing won’t go through without a hitch, so I hope you figure out a way to make it “look like it is for his benefit and not for mine” – to minimize the hitch factor. Crowds are bursting with applause, cheering you on to the finish line of this quest for freedom from such a negative force.
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Getting Away From “All-Or-Nothing” CompulsionsMy Profile

  15. Wow! That’s a story and a half.

    I know some of what you speak… the family guilt thing. Was plastered on me in the past. Well, the past is gone, and I have a good distance nowadays…

    Reminds me of a quote from Groucho Marx: “Happiness is a large warm loving family in a distant city.” ha ha.

    Going back… my father tried as hard as he could to dissuade me from marrying the person I wanted to marry. Then when I went ahead, he didn’t come to the wedding or talk to me for two years. Eventually we got over it, but it was really hard when it was going on. Been married now 19 years…

    Anyway, you are on the right path. Stand up for yourself as you have done, and be strong and centered… and things will go well.

    Best of luck.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the kind words and sharing your story. It’s incredible how many people can relate to unkind and/or unsupportive parents, and I’m glad that we’re still managing to make good lives for ourselves despite all that.

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