Wedding Woes

Stop lying and find ways to avoid him.

Dear Prudence,

My father [sic] in-law has severe mental health issues and a history of violent behaviors, stalking, and delusions. He is medicated, but he is still clearly “off.” My husband’s family has expressed concerns about relapses. He has delusions of grandeur about becoming a big novelist like George R.R. Martin. He gets aggressive when he talks about it. He has been arrested for trespassing at the houses of publishers and literary agents and sending harassing, threatening messages. At a family function, I quietly mentioned that I recently got my book published. I had no idea he was around. Later on, he said that he overheard me and would like the name of my editor, publisher, and agent. I panicked and told him he must have misheard—I haven’t written a book. My husband’s family agreed not to say anything or let anything slip. They agreed that what I did was the best response, because he wouldn’t accept “I’d prefer not to divulge that information” as an answer.

Eventually, he confronted me with the release page for my book, including publisher and agent information. Prudence, what else could I say but that it’s not me? I feel bad playing with his already tenuous sense of reality, but what else can I do? I feel like I’m too far to turn back now. I’m worried that I’m being ableist, but his transgressions are on record, in the family *and* the news, and they are severe. How do I handle this going forward? Do I keep lying? Do I avoid all family gatherings he might be at? Was I wrong for lying in the first place?

—Gaslighter?

VarunaTT

Re: Stop lying and find ways to avoid him.

  • Where is your spouse I this? It’s their father they need to be more involved in how to handle this. 

    Continuing to lie is likely to work and it’s probably going to make the situation worse. Tell the truth, don’t divulge any information, give your editor and publisher a heads up he is unwell, and find ways to limit contact with FIL. 
    VarunaTTMyNameIsNotei34short+sassy
  • What Charlotte said.
  • LW needs a CTJ with their husband.  Basically, LW is expected to continue to enable their FIL which could be to the detriment of their career.  What?  

    At this point, LW needs to take their agency and put their foot down with the situation, which may mean they stop attending events where FIL may be present.  They also need to do what banana said regarding their publisher.  If they are working with a big enough publishing house, even if it's just one arm, their agent has people to fend off LW's FIL.  I'm sure he's not the only deranged wannabe writer they've had to tell to take a hike. 
    ei34OliveOilsMomshort+sassy
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    What PP said, but in addition, I think that since FIL is medicated, family members should reach out to the doctor to let him know how FIL continues to act while medicated.  It sounds like his meds need to be adjusted and letting the doctors know, could hopefully help them get the levels correct.
    VarunaTT
  • It is not ableist to look out for your own safety and sanity. Talk to your editor about what's going on. And talk to your husband about how he and his family can intervene, both in this specific situation and regarding his father's mental health generally. It feels like you're kind of being left to deal with this alone, and that isn't fair. 
    image
    VarunaTTshort+sassy
  • I wonder if LW has an out in the type of book that they published.  Not all agents/publishers publish all genres.  If FIL wants to publish fantasy and LW published children's lit, they could simply say "my publisher only specializes in X and you want to publish Y, so they wouldn't be able to help and there's no point in you contacting them".  And if he insists, just keep repeating that.  When I worked for a children's publisher, I sent out a lot of rejection letters with that kind of script.  

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