Her dad was at least half right - I wasn't listening to anything he had to say if I could help it.
This lead to me eventually telling her that if she insisted that our relationship be about the two of us AND her parent's "requests", then despite how I felt, I needed to walk away before we all got hurt extremely deeply. This kind of situation would be hard enough to deal with if we'd lived close to each other, but I didn't stand a chance in a relationship-by-proxy, with dear old dad at the controls, from 2800 miles away. We had been planning a Christmas visit, with me traveling out there and staying in their home for a few days as I normally had a 2-2 1/2 week break at Christmas. Once he determined that he didn't approve of "the pace", he came up with a lie to thwart the plan. I'd bring up alternative scenarios, which he'd manufacture new lies to thwart, from "I'm ashamed of our home" to "We're too busy then" - when they had an entire week off. Total lying snake of a man. I'm a stickler about honesty. Lie to me once and you decrease the value of every future word that'll ever leave your lips headed in my direction.
Then, I learned of a concert date that her family had booked in Topeka, KS (not at Westboro Baptist - as fitting as that may have been) that fell during my Christmas break. I told her I was gonna come there to see her, even if it were only for an hour or two. She said, "Lew, I really think you need to talk to dad about that first." I snapped just a bit, and I said, "No, no, no! Not coming to see him. I'm coming to see you, and I don't care what he thinks about it, or even what the President of the freakin United States thinks about it. This isn't his home. I don't need his permission. I need yours. If I have that, I'll come to see you when I want to, where I want to, and why I want to." Within a couple of weeks, this KS date "mysteriously" disappeared from their schedule.
All of this lead up to her pleading with me to make the phone call to her dad which I described in the last article. It was keeping me chewed up all the time, but having already fallen in love with her, walking away would've been brutal.
After the big telephone blowup between me and the patriarse, she and I were both hurt, but we trudged along for a couple of weeks, still growing closer in various ways, but always waiting for the next bomb to drop. I knew she cared about me, but she was so incredibly afraid of her own emotions (just as she'd been taught to be) that I seldom caught any glimpse of them. That made things more difficult for me.
A couple of weeks after the phone fight, the artist I toured with performed on a Christian music cruise to Mexico, so I was stuck on a ship for a week. I only called her twice, VERY briefly, from Mexican ports during that week (those few minutes ended up costing me about $40 - yikes). She wasn't the same, so I knew she was getting worked over. I later found out that her papa's buddies (people she'd always thought were "godly" and she respected - I was wary of ANYONE her father called "friend") were now helping him out, heaping their own doses of guilt on her hoping she wouldn't lapse into "rebellion". By the time I got off the ship and really got to talk to her, she was someone else...cold, distant. We struggled through a week or so where she'd have lukewarm days, and follow it up with the cold distance in the next call. I could always tell when someone had been in her ear. When I couldn't take it anymore (I don't like tap-dancing), I said, "Ok, something's obviously going on. Please tell me what it is." She told me that she felt like we needed a week's break from each other - no calls, no contact - to reevaluate and see where things stood. I said, "This isn't your idea is it?" She swore up and down that it was. I knew better. (A few months later she admitted that it was the result of constant pressuring from her parents and their friends - her dad had been continuously telling her what a "dishonorable" man he felt I was, how I had no respect for authority, that she needed to take a week away from me to "hear from God", all the typical patriarchal BS. She said there was little reprieve from it and it overwhelmed her with guilt)
I gave her the week she asked for. I was flying blind, and in my then ignorance of the patriarchal dynamic, I held out hope that her heart would win out. Was I stupid or what? I now realize that given the dynamic, one man on the other side of the continent against every person of significance in her life pouring buttloads of patriarchal guilt on her, I didn't stand a chance. Her week off to "hear from God" was designed to be a week for her to figure out that she needed to end the relationship if I wouldn't submit to her father. No more, no less. I stood less of a chance of coming out on the good end of the deal than Keanu Reeves has of ever becoming a good actor - and that's saying something.
Her requested "week off" ended on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving. We spent several hours on the phone that day, and both of us shed lots of tears. I asked, "Are you willing to make this work?", and her response is heart-breaking even to this day - "I don't see how this CAN work." Translation: "Unless you submit, my family will always fight us." (Remember this from Part Two?... "But Lew, they've fed me and sheltered me and cared for me and clothed me!...I owe it to them to do things their way! I HAVE to do this their way!")
I literally have nothing good to say about such sick, demented, stunted people who would do any such thing to their own flesh and blood. Disgusting. Yes, I consider her parents disgusting people for having done this. May God be merciful to them when they answer for this evil.
So...On that night, we broke up.
Over the next couple of days, I felt compelled to wash my hands of any wrongdoing on my part, and decided to call her parents and offer an apology for any real or perceived "sins" against them. It literally made me want to vomit, as I didn't, and don't to this day, feel I wronged them in any way. I just thought it was what a man trying to live a decent and blameless life should do. I almost choked and gagged on words that I didn't truly believe were merited, but I got those words out. It went uneventfully with her mother (her father wasn't home when I called) - even though her mother is equally as disturbed as her father, neck deep in the apostacy. Her father returned the call, I said my words, he acted as if he deserved those words and more, and all hell broke loose again, culminating in these loving words from his royal patriarse-ness (in Canteen Boy voicing again)...
"Yeah! That's right, Lewis! Not such a big shot when you have to come to someone else's playing field, are you, huh?! Not so fun then, is it! That's right! Can't have it like you want it now, huh?!"
The man would need at least a dozen promotions to be a jack-ass. I WANTED to say, "Dude, if this WERE a playing field, I'd physically steamroll your sniveling, weasely crack like Armageddon was a freakin vacation day and bury your ignorant head in the dirt! I wish to God I COULD get you on a playing field even if only for a minute!" But the truth is, what can you say to such a moron?
At this point, I decided to completely end my fight for her and give up any hope of salvaging the relationship. Later that night I sent her what amounted to a concession email, a "goodbye" type of thing, crying over every word. Like I said, I loved her, and this hurt. About an hour later, she replied to my email in similar fashion, having obviously written from turmoil that she admitted to freely in the text.
And that was that. An amicable, but painful, break-up for us both, but with the necessary closure to move forward once healed. This was the night before Thanksgiving (my lifelong favorite holiday), and the next day, my folks and I were going to spend it together, just the three of us, with Mom making my favorite comfort foods, and the two of them helping me lick my wounds in togetherness, quiet, and peace. Needless to say, I slept little that night. Broken hearts aren't the most efficient of sedatives.
The next morning, I awoke to find the following in my email...
I must confess amazement at your email message to **** this afternoon after our conversation earlier today. I was left with the impression (which I conveyed to ****) that you were willing to wait for her and willing to do whatever it took to pursue a relationship with her. I'm sorry for the way things have worked out.
Certainly not the expected outcome.
I don't understand your fear of our intrusion/involvement in yours and **** 's relationship - particularly in light of the fact that both ***** and I adopted a hands-off approach to it. We had little to say, and only came up with one reoccuring concern - the fast pace of the relationship. Our concern over the fast pace of your relationship with **** coupled with our hands-off approach to what went on could hardly be construed as unfounded or manipulatory.
I want to again reaffirm that **** made her own judgements and decisions about the future viability of your relationship based upon her exchanges in phone conversations with you - NOT the input and/or "manipulation" of her parents. Her decision to pull away didn't come from us...and there is NO "other guy".
We were as surprised as you. She has, however, received a steady stream of advice/council from well-meaning friends, family, and acquaintances along the road that led her to re-evaluate - as have you.
If you truly didn't want to do anything to hurt **** , I can't understand what would lead you to have conversation after conversation with her that were obviously deeply emotionally troubling to her. It would seem that at the first hint of emotional pain she exhibited, the conversation would have ended or headed off in a different direction. As an outsider who was not privy to your conversations, it looked like you were trying to get her to ignore instead of embrace the one request of her parents.
In closing, we don't harbor any ill-will toward you. I was sincere in extending forgiveness to you for real or imagined offences. It's a relationship that didn't pan out. We all entered into this thing with the idea of an exploration to "see if it could work". It didn't.
I hope that we can all get past the discomfort and pain of the moment and be loving and civil to each other as God intended if/as our paths cross in the future.
PS - I won't be offended and will understand if you choose not to respond.
(Strong language alert ahead for Church Lady types - yes people, I have faith in and a relationship with Christ, and don't particularly like strong language, but I'm also not plastic, and sometimes the shoe, or in this case, the word, fits)
He should've replaced "Blessings" with "Bullshit", because that's what this email was. Even my ex will tell you that there's nothing truthful in it after "Lewis:". It was a figment of his demented imagination.
I've never known a level of anger similar to that which coursed through my veins when I read this. I mean, it was over, for goodness sake, yet he had to pee even on the fenceposts of the break-up to mark his territory and establish his dominance. It would've been too much for him to have just shut the hell up for once in his life and leave well enough alone. I've never known a bigger fool.
There HAD to be a response to this. Later, I let my folks read it, and my little southern spitfire Mama wanted to chew the man a new orafice or three. I told my folks that I needed to respond to this, and asked them to pray with me about how to respond. After we prayed, we discussed it for a bit, and I decided that I had to respond HEAVILY. I needed to jolt the man, if for no other reason than to get him to ease his dictatorial iron grip over his family. I was still trying to think about her future - and that of her sisters.
My response began as follows...
What is this????!!! What possible good could have come from this email, *******??? Once again, in your attempt to be "honest", you let your mouth or fingers have the upperhand over wisdom. I don't believe anything you say to me and there was nothing to be served by writing this, except maybe one last hurtful parting shot at me. You have chosen to belittle and demean my opinions and concerns in our every encounter. Why does everyone realize this but you??? At what point are YOU the problem???
Other choice sections I offered were...
You refuse to acknowledge that your way of doing things is completely crazy and lacking in logic to all others, not just those in "my loop", and certainly not foolproof.
You choose to refer to an event that my family lived through, suffered through, and had to recover from over a period of several years as my "lollipop", insulting my entire family by default in the process. You, sir, are the one who is far less than honorable. Your attitudes and decisions are poisonous, controlling, destructive, and leave people feeling less for having encountered you. You attempt to make up for your own personal weaknesses by subjecting those around you to your "authority", thereby making other people pay for your own poor decisions. My choice to go ahead and end this had to do with a definitive realization after talking to you yesterday. Whatever it would take could be summed up by you being out of the picture. That's what it would take. I now understand that there is no way that I can, or want to, be your friend.
I love your daughter very much, but I can't, and wouldn't, deal with your hurtful, condescending manner toward me for very long before things would get ugly. That isn't fair to ****, and I'm certainly not going to subject myself to your "leadership". I don't need your help and I'm not going to allow you to make my life miserable.
These recent experiences for **** and ******** are just the warm-up act for events that will follow if you don't allow your children to become adults. The very fact that, at age 23, you think you need to help **** so much doesn't speak well for your work in preparing her for her adult life, and it's just downright creepy. There are so many things she doesn't know about how the world works, and at her age, that's a shame. It suggests to me that there are many things that you don't know about how the world works, which is a suspicion I've had from the get-go. You have no concept, NONE, of just how far from normal your way of thinking is, which probably explains your need to disregard or belittle the concerns and opinions that I've had.
From what I have gathered in snippets of my conversations with both you and ****, it seems that trouble follows you guys. **** even suggested that your own church was working AGAINST you in a particular situation. Proverbs 16:7 says "When a mans ways please the Lord, even his enemies are MADE to be at peace with him". That's pretty absolute. At what point are YOU the problem?
*******, I never want you to contact me again in any way. Ever. I will pray for you and I have to love you, and I have to find forgiveness, but I don't have to include you in my life. You will be on my blocked senders list. Don't call my house. When you entered the picture you brought turmoil into the lives of everyone in my world, and turmoil into what had been a VERY happy relationship between your daughter and I. I am inviting you to leave. I don't want to be hurt by your "honesty" and "wisdom" ever again.
The above is just a collection of snippets. Trust me when I say I showed a tremendous amount of restraint. I could've written the man a novel, which MUCH stronger language, and still not adequately covered the expanse of his ignorance or of the issues at hand.
Needless to say, Thanksgiving, which had always been my favorite holiday, has been permanently scarred. That one, in particular, was awful. I could barely eat any of the wonderful comfort foods my sweet Mama had made for me.
I'll get into the fallout of this in Part Four.