Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: daughter–estranged uncle incest.
Nicole: This is so fucked up!!!
Danny: I am so sorry for this LW
Nicole: I mean!
Danny: and also like, I get why “they’re both adults” feels relevant, inasmuch as it means your estranged brother did not assault a child
Nicole: WHAT A PROGRESSION OF EVENTS
Danny: but … it’s still incest!
Nicole: and also did not know your daughter as a child, it sounds like?
Danny: incest isn’t automatically fine just because everyone’s an adult!
Nicole: I think I’m supposed to be OK with Consensual Adult Incest but it’s gross. Like, should be legal! Gross.
Especially since I think your brother is doing this TO upset you
Danny: yeah I don’t think we need to put either of them in jail in order to say this is a taboo for some excellent reasons
and again, unless your daughter is 18 years old and just left the convent
I really, really don’t think you need to be so worried about “not saying anything” or protecting her feelings right now
it KIND of sounds like she just … told you? for no real reason?
like, it’s not as if they’re together now
Nicole: Right. Also, we have solved the “should I become unestranged from my brother” question for all time
Danny: just “ha ha, meant to invite him to your birthday party, but we ended up going out for a few weeks instead”
“wild story, right?”
WE SURE HAVE
Nicole: WILD INDEED
Danny: I think becoming, not estranged necessarily, but temporarily not-in-contact with your daughter is a good idea right now
Nicole: You can have a fight with your daughter over this
I give you permission
But yes: space first
Danny: “This is really hurtful and upsetting. I need some time before I’m ready to talk again.” is a pretty mild response to “Hey Mom, I went out with your brother who hates you”
yeah I mostly want to encourage space because otherwise I think it might be tempting to say a lot of stuff to your daughter that you maybe actually want to say to your brother
Nicole: Yes, indeed.
Danny: but I’ve got to say
if it’s me
I’m not talking to my daughter for … we are probably looking at years
and I *like* my brother!
but I would like him a lot less if he slept with my adult daughter.
Nicole: I would leave the door open with her in case of a fulsome apology
Brother is dead to me
Danny: Which he WOULDN’T, to be clear
Nicole: Your brother is so sweet! So is mine.
They would not do this.
Danny: and I might be able to accept an apology without being ready for coffee
Danny: “I appreciate the apology, but I still can’t get the image out of my head, so in order to keep from feeling like I’m indefinitely punishing you for something you can’t undo, I’m going to continue taking space from this relationship”
this is a bell you really can’t unring
which is a big part of the reason we don’t sleep with our family members!!!
you should be double booking therapists right now
Danny: you have my permission to like … cut people in line and steal parking spots right now
Nicole: Absolutely. Work out some feelings.
Danny: but yes! tell your daughter you are upset and take all the time you need
she knew you were estranged from him! she knew who he was!
she definitely didn’t mistake him for someone else