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Update: Coming out as Poly to my Dad..Dealing with aftermath...Thoughts? (long) - Page 2

post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post

Coming out as poly is sort of like coming out as GLBT. Parents don't understand and tend to freak. They're likely to throw a temper tantrum about it, and say all sorts of things.  I take the "Savage Love" school on that. Parents should be given around a year to get used to the idea and to throw their fit. You should tell them "This is who I am. This is how I am living my life. You may not approve, but you need to know the truth. I expect you to treat me politely and like an adult." You put up with their BS temper tantrum for about a year, and then you withdraw if they can't act like adults after that.

 

Your dad has pulled the "walk" card on you, in order to get you to fall into line. Don't. Tell him that you love him. Tell him that you have to live your life. Tell him that when he wants to accept your family as it is, and can act kindly, he is welcome back into your life. Tell your Grandmother the same thing.

 

I'd also give them some information about poly. There really isn't a PFLAG group for polys, but there are some good books.  I'd send them Sex at Dawn (for the research) and The Ethical Slut (for the relationship how-to and ethics). You probably have your own favorites, though.

 

You didn't do anything wrong. He's acting like a five year old. So is Grandma.


Excellent advice, all of it! I don't want to excuse your father's appalling behaviour, but I do think it's fair to give him some time to process things. A year sounds like a good time-frame.

 

I think you've handled this with remarkable grace and maturity. hug2.gif

post #22 of 39
Thread Starter 

You people have been so wonderfully supportive, I know I keep saying thank you, but really it means so much joy.gif

 

To answer some of your questions...

 

I am an only child. My mom and dad divorced before I was one and Dad got custody of me. My mother was absent through much of my life but we are recently attempting to reconnect. I was raised mostly by my grandparents, but Dad decided to move us a state away when I was 13 to be closer to his spiritually like-minded friends. 

 

My Dad follows a branch of Native American Spirituality, my grandparents were Jehovah's Witnesses, and I am Pagan. While I would love to educate my father with books and resources, I know from experience it wont work (especially with titles like those, lol). When I told him I was interested in Paganism, there was a similar butting of heads, after which I gave him some materials to read. Poor thing! They made him fall asleep eyesroll.gif

 

I'm fully prepared to give him just as much space as he wants, but I do like the idea of sending him Christmas cards and pictures of us being a healthy, happy family. I'm not sure how he would take it though. I could see the gesture being warped around to something like I'm rubbing his face in how happy we are without him, which would not be my intention at all shake.gif

post #23 of 39

I know I suggested letting it go and not responding, but I have to say, your response was perfect. Really. Hugs again!

post #24 of 39

I think you're behaving admirably!  It takes a lot to remain emotionally cool when you're being verbally assaulted.

 

I hope this doesn't seem like "standing up for him".  But you said you were kind of confused as to why he interpreted this as a "final stand".  My reading of his email was, he was aware of your private life.  Perhaps not fully understanding of the way you were living it, but at least aware that you were not "living the average lifestyle".  That some how you knew he knew, he knew you knew, but that you never talked about it out of respect for his position on the situation.  But now you've chosen to "throw your personal life in his face" by sending an email outlining every detail for that "non-average lifestyle".  In doing so, he now feels compelled to act on something he thought you two agreed not to discuss. 

 

I'm not saying he's right, I just felt like I understood why he thought it was a last stand and wanted to share with you. 

 

I'm sorry you're experiencing this.  Parents that don't understand their kids are separate and their own person, are very hard to deal with on an ongoing basis.  :(

post #25 of 39
Thread Starter 

I think there may be some truth to that from his point of view. He has often said things to me like "I know you better than you know yourself. I'm your father, I know everything about you." Always with a vague threatening undercurrent that seemed really out of place for the light hearted conversation we'd be having. Although I wasn't aware of any sort of unspoken agreement about my sexuality, he might have thought there was one.

 

 

I've also been doing a lot of reading and soul searching and stumbled across something called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It seems to me that my father fits a lot of the criteria. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, though. Do any of you have experience with this?

post #26 of 39

 

On the money front, rather than seeing it as a sign that money is more important to them than you are, it may be a sign to them of something else -- that you can't take care of yourself, you need other people to bail you out, that your priorities are of, etc. It may not be about the actual money to them, but what your need for the money symbolized to them.

I could be wrong
post #27 of 39

Even though I can see where your father is coming from in that my belief system also says it is morally wrong, I cannot grasp the disowning you (even though he claims he isn't), abandoning his grandchildren, and taking personal affront at your behavior. The emails you sent were calm and well thought out. You could not have been more diplomatic, as far as I can see (and, remember, I'm coming from a very traditional/Christian perspective). You are an adult and you have the right to make your own decisions. I am sure he is concerned about you, but he'd be happier if he just let go.

 

If my child told me they were doing something like you are, I confess I would feel it important to tell them how I felt about it, but I would not abandon them nor my grandchildren. Even now, my children sometimes do things I don't agree with (they are teenagers). I tell them how I feel, but let them make their own choices. Perhaps the best thing you can do right now is love him and accept that he is what he is. It is possible that he'll have a change of heart in how he treats you after more time has passed.

post #28 of 39

I can't help you with the NPD thing, as I've only ever heard of it in passing.

 

Relationships with parents are hard.  It sounds like you told him to try to do the right thing by everyone.  And I can scarce think of a better way you could have worded those letters.  So kudos, and hugs.

 

I think he's afraid.  It sounds like he is afraid that this will turn out badly for you, and he's afraid for you, and thus (by extension) for himself.  There are many reasons that a person could fear the consequences of a poly relationship.  (I'm not trying to convince you that you shouldn't be doing it, it sounds like it's working quite well for you and you're in a relationship where it will work in the long term . . . I'm just trying to see his viewpoint, to see if I can help you see his response differently.)  Maybe he can't imagine a poly relationship working in the long term (especially if his relationship with your mother failed).  Living with one other person is hard, living with two is probably harder.  Maybe he fears that this will somehow make your daughter become "abnormal" and affect her life negatively in the future.  Maybe he is worried that you are secretly unhappy with your decision and want to be convinced out of it.  Maybe he's worried for your soul, if he believes that what you're doing is a sin.

 

It also sounds like he's taking it personally that you're not taking his advice.  I can definitely relate to this, as this has always been a theme in my relationship with my father.  On the other hand, my dad recognizes that it's just that: advice.  It's not a dictum.  And even if I do make a mistake, and he did try to warn me about it, everyone has to learn some things for themselves.  He knows this, and even says it.  So it's not really the same.  But I suspect that there is a similarity, which is that he feels he really does know some things better than me (and chances are that some things, he does), and when I don't listen it pains him to see me make a mistake (in his eyes) that was preventable.  He's trying to save me from myself.  Maybe a little offensive, but I'm trying to learn to see the love behind it.

 

It is in some ways like coming out as GLBT, and that means you might have to accept that he may be willing to hold out forever for you to realize that this is not really who you are.  I have a trans friend whose mother insists on calling him "she".  It's not accidental.  She also tries to convince him that he was so feminine as a child . . . I think it's because she really loves him and thinks that this is a choice that's going to make him unhappy.  He doesn't feel that it's a choice, and also feels that it would make him a lot less unhappy if she could just accept it.  But it is as it is, he can't change her reaction just like she can't change the fact that he's trans.

 

I think the only thing that you can do is allow him to see (maybe try to convince him to look so he can see?) that it IS working for you.  There's no guarantee he ever will, and if he does it might take a very long time.  It's possible that 20 years of a stable, happy, poly relationship would not strike him as sufficient evidence that it was an acceptable life path.  And if that's the case, there's certainly nothing you can do to change that for him.  It sounds like he is trying to express his love but also set up boundaries . . . (please don't take this the wrong way, I'm still just trying to see where he's coming from) like you would do with someone who has an addiction that they have told you they don't want to get rid of.  Maybe if you imagine it that way - if you had said all the same things, but substituted "heroin" for "poly relationship", would his reaction have been the same?  Would it have been appropriate in that case?  Because chances are pretty good that he considers poly relationships to be just as scary and dangerous and self-destructive as heroin.  Again, I can't make this clear enough, that's not my opinion.  But it might be his.  If you look at it from that perspective, can you see the basis of love that (probably) underlies his words?

 

Not that I think any of that necessarily makes it any easier to actually DO anything about his reaction.  But it might help it not be quite so hurtful, I hope.

post #29 of 39

I can really see both sides and I am a bit surprised that people here are seeing your dad's e-mails as something really far out there. I thought his response was actually rather calm.

 

I think you are working from such different world views that they simply cannot be reconciled. You dad feels you are being selfish and hurting your child. You feel what you are doing is just fine and that your dad is not accepting enough. (If I get it correctly.) So, in the end, you both will keeping feeling like each os right and the other wrong. I just don't know where you can go from there. I think it is unreasonable to think your dad should accept your choicec, just as I think it is not realistic for your dad to think you will change something just because he says so.

 

I still think that many (the majority) of people would have reacted worse than your dad. It also seems there are a lot of old things coming up in what he is writing, and none of us know enough to comment on those.

post #30 of 39
Originally Posted by LessTraveledBy View Post

I can really see both sides and I am a bit surprised that people here are seeing your dad's e-mails as something really far out there. I thought his response was actually rather calm...

I still think that many (the majority) of people would have reacted worse than your dad.                 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow, LessTraveledBy, how much worse could it be without being fully abusive?                                                                                                         

post #31 of 39

Hey OP, I don't have any advice for you but I wanted to offer my support - you sound like a really lovely person, and I am sorry your father is being so harsh with you. You didn't derserve that reaction. 

 

Love and Blessings.

post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post

 

Wow, LessTraveledBy, how much worse could it be without being fully abusive?                                                                                                         

 

Unfortunately:

 

Calling CPS

Calling her employer/partners employers

Going to the neighbors and getting them stirred up

He and Grandma could call every. single, day. (several times a day) yelling and screaming

 

And that's without really thinking about it.  It's fairly easy to make someone's life a living hell without ever laying a hand on them.

 

 

post #33 of 39


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katwoman View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post

 

Wow, LessTraveledBy, how much worse could it be without being fully abusive?                                                                                                         

 

Unfortunately:

 

Calling CPS

Calling her employer/partners employers

Going to the neighbors and getting them stirred up

He and Grandma could call every. single, day. (several times a day) yelling and screaming

 

And that's without really thinking about it.  It's fairly easy to make someone's life a living hell without ever laying a hand on them.

 

 



Any of those things would be abusive, although not physically violent. And the CPS thing would be illegal (not that anyone would do anything about that, probably). I just don't see anything 'calm' about the Dad's response. Fortunately, Swanvalkyrie seems to have a good understanding of boundaries....likely learned on her own during her adult lifetime. :) I bet if Dad/Grandma started calling/screaming, a phone block would go in, stat.

 

Hope it's going well, OP. Would be curious to see how it unfolds as the months go by!

post #34 of 39

Would anyone be open to talking with me via PM about living a "poly" lifestyle? I'm very nonjudgemental and would like to hear and understand from someone who has chosen this lifestyle and is comfortable talking about it. 

 

Thanks :) 

post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post


Any of those things would be abusive, although not physically violent. And the CPS thing would be illegal (not that anyone would do anything about that, probably). I just don't see anything 'calm' about the Dad's response. Fortunately, Swanvalkyrie seems to have a good understanding of boundaries....likely learned on her own during her adult lifetime. :) I bet if Dad/Grandma started calling/screaming, a phone block would go in, stat.

 

Hope it's going well, OP. Would be curious to see how it unfolds as the months go by!



Then you are blessed.  (I'm not being sarcastic at all!)  You seem to have grown up/are surrounded by people with really good boundaries. 

 

In my family, everything I listed would have been considered normal behavior, not abusive.  (Abusive in our family is a whole other level.)  So, it's all about where you come from.  I was just throwing out my thoughts as to add a different dimension to your original statement about it not being relatively calm. 

 

But I do want to add that I don't think the OP was "lucky" that her Dad "only" acted the way his did.  As an adult that knows about good boundaries, I'm saddened by his behavior towards his daughter.  Just not surprised. 

 

 

post #36 of 39


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by makalani View Post

Would anyone be open to talking with me via PM about living a "poly" lifestyle? I'm very nonjudgemental and would like to hear and understand from someone who has chosen this lifestyle and is comfortable talking about it. 

 

Thanks :) 



Not me, but some of the books mentioned in this thread will probably provide you all the insight you could want and then some. :)



Quote:
Originally Posted by Katwoman View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post


Any of those things would be abusive, although not physically violent. And the CPS thing would be illegal (not that anyone would do anything about that, probably). I just don't see anything 'calm' about the Dad's response. Fortunately, Swanvalkyrie seems to have a good understanding of boundaries....likely learned on her own during her adult lifetime. :) I bet if Dad/Grandma started calling/screaming, a phone block would go in, stat.

 

Hope it's going well, OP. Would be curious to see how it unfolds as the months go by!



Then you are blessed.  (I'm not being sarcastic at all!)  You seem to have grown up/are surrounded by people with really good boundaries. 

 

In my family, everything I listed would have been considered normal behavior, not abusive.  (Abusive in our family is a whole other level.)  So, it's all about where you come from.  I was just throwing out my thoughts as to add a different dimension to your original statement about it not being relatively calm. 

 

But I do want to add that I don't think the OP was "lucky" that her Dad "only" acted the way his did.  As an adult that knows about good boundaries, I'm saddened by his behavior towards his daughter.  Just not surprised. 

 

 

 

I hear you. I am blessed in that I'm reaping what I've sown. I earned my MA from Boundaries College with a field school in Family Of Origin, minor in Friends and Lovers. I hardly get any more vampires at all.
 

post #37 of 39

hug2.gifTo the OP. I do not have any advice, but I wish you and your family all the best. I think it's wondeful that your children will grow up with MORE people to raise them and love them. How can that be a bad thing?

post #38 of 39

Any update from the OP about her relationship with her dad...and all that? Hope you are well!

post #39 of 39
Thread Starter 

I know this was years ago, but there was some interest in how things panned out. Just wanted to update those who were interested. 

 

Unfortunately, my relationship with my husband did not last, for many reasons I'd rather not go into here. Suffice to say that all of the stress from various events in our lives made it very clear that we were not compatible. I am still with G and we are very happy together in a more traditional relationship. Some members of my extended family heard about what happened, apparently I was the talk of the town for quite awhile. They made an effort to reach out to me and let me know that several of my father's siblings had been "kicked out of the family" in their younger days for dating outside their race :(  It made me feel a little better to be continuing a family tradition, lol.

 

My father had made no effort to contact me until recently. He had my aunt message me through facebook and tell me that he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, he suffered a mental breakdown after the death of his girlfriend. He's been diagnosed as bi-polar and put on medication. She said he wasn't ready to talk to me yet, he needed awhile to get used to the meds, but that when he was up for it he'd like me to call him, and he'd also like us to write letters to each other. That was about a month ago, I haven't heard anything since.

 

To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about resuming contact. All this time of not speaking has allowed me to reflect from a distance on our relationship, and realize how incredibly strange and damaging my childhood was because of his behavior. His diagnosis has cleared up many questions, but it also makes me nervous that he will try to use it as a way to excuse himself from any blame. I do feel for him. It's heartbreaking to lose a loved one. But I am so hurt and angry about the past. I don't want to continue our relationship the way it was, with his needs and feelings trumping mine. And I certainly don't want to be used for comfort. 

 

I'm unsure of how to set healthy boundaries in this situation. How can I overcome a lifetime of hurt and be there to comfort someone who wasn't there for me?

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