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comment by PTR
PTR  ·  313 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 11, 2018

I recently received a viewing of my uncle's domestic violence and divorce hearings, about 2 hours of footage disseminated by said uncle in full to family in an emailed plea for financial support and to "set the record straight about the court's obvious bias and the manipulation of my ex-wife." I've never seen someone so disillusioned. He really thought the court's tapes would paint him in the best light.

This guy hasn't made more than $600/month in 20 years and forced his ex-wife to never seek employment because of their Christian family values. All 8 of his minor children have restraining orders against him, and he'd voluntarily ended visitation before that (while still arguing to claim them as dependents). Has never paid child support. After the separation, the old home burned down due to fire hazards that were named in a previous hearing with some evidence pointing to arson. He had kept all the family's photos, and they burned too. And on, and on, and on. It's grotesque.

He represented per se, and I have never seen someone come across so poorly, so unprepared. The judicial disdain in the courtroom was palpable. He tried to explain how the "physics" of knocking his wife over and prying their sobbing daughter out of her arms were actually not as violent as it sounds. That the force he exerted on her must have been equally returned by her according to well-known scientific principles, and so she abused him just as much as he had abused her (if not more since she initiated the action by keeping their daughter from him in the first place, he says). Kept offering a photomontage of his children as evidence. Called the proceedings a modern-day example of Hitler/Stalin-esque kangaroo courts when the photos weren't admitted.

I won't even talk about the emailed jeremiad he sent.

You, dear reader, might be assuming this is a drug situation. Or mental health. Or blind hatred. It's not. This is just another example of my white trash Evangelical family (as I wrote about in my last Pubski contribution).

The shit of it is, nearly everyone in my family supports him. Whole-heartedly. My cookie-baking, British-royalty-loving, Rick-Steves-reruns-watching grandmother has written his ex-wife hate mail. Several times. Wife-initiated divorce in this culture is ungodly, sinful. The near unanimous consensus is that his ex-wife should have stayed with him, that she's lied to ruin his life and poisoned his kids against him as well. Not even my mother's spoken to her nieces/nephews to judge the situation from their perspective, and like...there are a lot of witnesses to the shit he's done. Eight kids. Yet, this is entirely framed in Biblical wife-husband terms, and Evangelical patriarchal norms means that argument's been won by male figures since Abrahamic times. Divorce is recent and secular, not Christian.

I'd cut them all off if I already didn't see them so irregularly. I know my family's crazy. I know religion has caused it. I barely got out. But now I have an excellent job, a fantastic and supportive wife, and in our early 20s we have the makings of a life on our own now. We want kids, and we definitely don't want them exposed to this lifestyle.

So Hubski, does anyone else have a background in this culture? Something similar? Does anyone have advice for cutting out a truly dysfunctional family? What are your stories?

kleinbl00  ·  312 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've never had anyone as bad as your uncle in my life. But I'm basically sundowning my family.

When my mom left my dad without so much as a note (we got the FBI involved - she was utterly incommunicado for a week) she called me and my wife picked up. I told my wife to tell her I didn't really feel like talking at the moment. It was glorious - she didn't call me for two years. Then she had a stroke and I felt guilty so I called her.

It was a mistake.

Robert Frost said that "home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in" and my family made it clear from when I was a small child that they didn't owe me shit. On the other hand, I've built myself a lovely family. I'm still unsure it's real. And the end result has been that the stuff I used to shrug off about my own family now bugs me to the core because I've conclusively proven to myself that it's unnecessary, it's cruel and it's not the way families are supposed to be.

I'm sure social workers and psychologists would pillory me for this, but follow your bliss. Surround yourself with the people who make you happy. The people who make you unhappy? They have to meet you on your terms.

"No, ma, I'm not coming to Christmas. When I was at the wedding it was clear I was in an environment that viewed my wife as less than human and I'm never subjecting myself or her to that ever again. If you want to come see your granddaughter you can come out here where I don't have to worry about the toxicity. Sorry. I'm happy now and that happiness is something I cherish."

PTR  ·  308 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Surround yourself with the people who make you happy. The people who make you unhappy? They have to meet you on your terms.

I appreciate this. Moving forward.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  312 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Robert Frost said that "home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in"

Familial obligation doesn't equate to familial support. Experiencing that at the moment.

veen  ·  312 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My mom cut off contact with her dad a few years ago. He was always kind to me and my sister, but was always manipulative towards my mom. Then his wife died, and all that was left after grief was bitterness, so he became even more of a manipulative jerk to my mom.

It still took her two years of exhausted headaches / migraines after each visit before she could cut him off. Family is hard to let go of. Personally I wanted her to cut ties way earlier - you might owe some family a helping hand, but you don't owe them your life or your kids.