You would laugh if you knew how many times I’ve written, edited, discarded, and rewrote this post. It is a very slim, razor-edged balance you need to strike when writing on a public blog about very personal issues, especially when those issues involve other people. But, honestly, it’s pretty rare for a problem to crop up in our lives that doesn’t at least brush against someone else, right?
So, I am going to do my best to present my opinion in a manner that’s fair to everyone involved. My father is an unreasonable person, and that specific trait nearly sends me over the edge all the time.
I like facts, discussion, debate. I don’t like name-calling, insults, dragging up the past to use as a weapon, and talking over someone so loud, they can’t get a word in edgewise. Turns out, those are pretty much the only tools my father has in his toolbox.
I moved back to Austin six years ago, and for the first time in my life, I began to develop a relationship with my father based in reality, not a little girl’s fantasy. Let’s just say, it was kind of a let down. This went so-so in the beginning, but as time went on, I was getting into more and more arguments with Dad. Like a lot of the people his age, he is a racist. He would say terrible things about people of color to me, and no matter how often I would tell him that makes me uncomfortable, he wouldn’t stop. He would cherry-pick news stories to provide back-up to his position; he’d get furious when I countered them with other stories that negated that same position. He doesn’t like women, and he’s happy to explain to you the superiority of the male gender over the female one, even if the audience is his daughter and granddaughter.
When Trump came along, it really drove a stake into the heart of our relationship. Turns out, Trump is a lot like my dad — racist, sexist, greedy, hypocritical, and dishonest. Because he feasts on an information diet of Facebook and Fox News, my father was armed and ready to fight me about politics whenever he saw me. I tried pointing out a few discrepancies in his “logic” a couple of times, but when he can’t compete with facts, he just resorts to calling me names.
There were a few things that happened that sealed the fate of our relationship that I’m not going to get into. The specifics don’t matter that much when the result is simply, we shouldn’t be around each other, and for a few years, we didn’t have any contact with each other. Then came the ice storm, which forced me to take in both my father and his sister. And then my brother moved to Austin. And through him, my dad and aunt get to disrupt my household daily.
My brother is dealing with some pretty rough setbacks in his life, and my father is trying to capitalize on that. He calls in the middle of the night to send my brother to get a hamburger for him, or to yell at him for some perceived slight. He badgers him constantly about getting a job, and when my brother was getting a paycheck, making him pay for Dad’s fast food and gas. When my brother broke his foot, he tried to talk him into suing me (my brother was working for me) even though I have text messages showing my brother slipped and fell, breaking his foot at my Dad’s house. When I confronted my dad about this, he seemed genuinely confused about why this would upset me.
I’ve learned over the years, there isn’t much I can do with this type of person. I’m not interested in trying to maintain a relationship with someone just because we’re related. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to keep his toxic presence from being able to reach into my home through my brother. I imagine until my brother arrives at the same conclusion I did years ago, I’m just stuck with this situation for the time being.