Money and Manipulation

by Loolwa Khazzoom • July 7, 2010 • Family Secrets

It is just shy of 6 am. I went to bed just over four hours ago. I have woken up once again with my thoughts circling around and around about my father. Maybe if I say it to him this way, that way. What to do what to do.

My heart hurts. Literally. It’s been going on for a few weeks. The pain exacerbates whenever I have these circling thoughts about my dad. Just over a week ago, I learned about the broken heart syndrome, where a broken heart (which I have about the situation with my dad) causes a heart attack, mostly in women. I’m frightened that my dad’s toxicity may end up causing me a heart attack and killing me. Which might make my dad happy in his twisted way, because then we’d be joined in suffering, his ultimate form of bonding, and he would have claimed my life, which he strives to own.

My dad is literally making me sick.

Shortly after my contract ended with the organization that brought me to Los Angeles, my father started emailing me, fairly regularly, telling me how worried he was about me because he knew that I am self-employed and therefore unable to qualify for unemployment, and am I OK, and do I need help, and he wants to help me, and he’s not sleeping well because he’s worried about me, and I should let him know if I need help, yada yada yada.

Sounds loving and caring, right?

But that’s just the Sirens playing their pretty harps. Oh how do I explain the manipulative madness that is my dad? He makes more noise than contribution. He strives for worry points – in other words, if his face is all contorted from worry, and he’s not sleeping, and he’s all twisted in knots and miserable on your behalf, then he is actually helping you out. When in fact, during your time of need, he is making it all about him. So that you end up not only having to deal with your own crap, but also taking care of his emotional duress, purportedly generated on your behalf.

If heaven forbid you should fall for his antics and think that maybe, just maybe, this time it is genuine; and you ask for his help, he ensnares you in a trap of control and dominance and humiliation. So when those “I want to help” emails started coming, I ignored most of them, sending back the occasional vague and neutral reply that thanked him for his concern and let him know I would tell him if I needed his help.

But after two months of his persistence and my increasing desperation — as my bank account tanked, and my credit cards maxed out, during the launch of my company — I asked my dad for a loan, promising to pay it back as soon as one of the bank loans came through for my business. That’s when I got the email (seriously, how did I fall for it again?) that my dad doesn’t have that kind of money, but that he wanted to make sure I knew he was not abandoning me, so I should tell him everything that was going on in my life, so that he could help me figure out how to manage it.

Gee. Usually he dangles a couple hundred Benjamins in front of my face, in exchange for his offer to control me. I politely thanked him for his “consultation” offer and informed him that was not the kind of help I needed, but that I would let him know if that changed.

I continued to get emails about how my dad wanted to help me think about things. I also got the occasional $100+ check for the Jewish holidays. Confirmation that my dad had at least a little money to spare, but that it had to be on his terms and for his reasons, not when I actually indicated that I needed help. Oh yeah, and when one of his checks bounced, I got a whole lot of noise about whether the bank charged me, and if so how much, and no you know what never mind, he’ll send $50 to cover it. Eeking out the brownie points instead of just sending the damn check.

As my company developed collaborative relationships with multinational corporations; as I scheduled radio interviews on local radio and national television; and as various service providers stepped forth to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to my company launch, my dad was sending me emails encouraging me to go to the welfare office and get food stamps. In fact, once he was so excited about the urgency of this helpful idea that he sent an email on a Jewish holiday, despite being observant, and told my mother to call and suggest the idea to me as well.  

Meanwhile, my dad owns three homes in two countries, and around the time of our email exchange, he shelled out dough to remodel the condo.

I grew up with my dad saying he had no money. I’d ask for something I needed – like, you know, a hair dryer – and he would tell me he didn’t have the money. Which is why I spent years sitting perched in front of a heater vent for an hour at a shot, drying my hair. But then all kinds of money would suddenly be available for something else – ie, something my dad deemed worthy.

As my mom was on the verge of foreclosure and bankruptcy, my dad assured us he was scrimping and saving and living on fixed income and unable to do this and that. We thought this time it was for real. Then he lost close to $1 million in the bank crash. Who the hell knew he had that kind of dough? I couldn’t believe I fell for it again. So I have learned never to trust when my dad says he has no money. The man puts on a good show.

As I write this post, I’m realizing that I’m angry. I’m angry that I can’t talk to my dad about any of his behaviors, because he responds with refrains like, “I won’t be your whipping boy” and “I won’t be put on trial,” instead of considering his behaviors and their impact on those around him. It’s like a man punching you in the stomach but then getting all outraged when you tell him that he has just hurt you. My dad is the perpetual victim.

I hate the way things are so muddy. I think that’s what manipulative behavior does. It’s not clean abuse, but twisty abuse. The rhetoric is all about love, as it always was when my dad was abusing me as a child. It makes me constantly question myself, feel bad, wish things were different, offer the benefit of the doubt for my dad’s intentions, and try to find a way to stay connected without falling prey to the toxic crap. I think it would be much easier if my dad was just a cut-and-dry asshole.

One Response to “Money and Manipulation”

  1. A friend
    Dec 11, 2010

    Hi Loolwa—Three lines about what is wrong with your Dad:

    You didn’t cause it.

    You can’t fix it.

    You aren’t responsible for it.

    The only way your Dad will change is if he, for his own reasons, wants to. Otherwise he will stay the same. All you can do is get on with your own life. You want to get to the point that when your Dad pulls his shtick, you laugh and say “there he goes again”. For the rest, look up “Class B personality disorder”. (The book “I hate you, don’t leave me” is good.) My advice, and that of anyone who experienced these things, as I have: Let go. Best of luck.

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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

Holistic Media, Marketing, PR

Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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