Monday, September 7, 2015
My father was a narcissist too.
I once had a conversation with my father.
I told him in my teens that my mother hated me and I knew she had never loved me. He shaked his head, "No, No, Your mother loves you!" as if he had to convince himself. I told him, "She has never hugged me and never has one kind word to say!" I responded, "She does nothing but criticize me." He would assure me she loved me but sadly serving as her enabler, would then start saying "Maybe you should lose weight or clean more then your mother would treat you better." With this, he would team up with her to rip me down. He never defended me. Never ever. I burst into tears knowing I would never be listened to.
The abuse he gave me was bad enough on it's own but his betrayal for her, I will never forget. After all this is the man, that knew I was dying in Chicago, covered in sores, weighing near 700lbs, and left my mother every dime ensuring a forever comfortable existence for her, as I took the bus to food pantries and gasped for air in the ER. Those days of poverty I have never forgotten. There is real terror and fear when you realize there may be nothing to eat, or you need a medicine and can't even dream of the money for it. I am sure those who read this blog today see that edge to me where I fear the streets and life destroying poverty. My father failed in one of the first jobs of a father, which is to protect a daughter. Even if someone is over 18, someone may still need help. He scapegoated me too along with her.
He joined her in my abandonment in Chicago. He was angry at me for failing. He was angry over the money borrowed for my college. When you hear me say I would not go to college again, I wouldn't. They paid for half, and I paid the other bills and worked in the dorm cafeterias for spending money. The constant crushing to meet the financial juggernaut, destroyed so much of life for me.
He did not want me to become a teacher but wanted me to be a business person or a more elevated position, but I barely got through college financially as it was. When both parents realized I was not going to get a normal teaching job, for some reason they didn't understand my medical problems and refusals when I explained it to them, it's like they wrote me off for good. My growing weight angered them. He was there too, that day they both visited from their trip to the Mall of America, stopping at my two-room ghetto apartment--I had new traps just put in for the mice and thankfully one didn't appear during the visit,
I remember he sat in the van, and he didn't want to come in. Just like they both would almost refuse to come to my wedding a year later, he acted put-upon. One relative told me they had complained about me marrying and did not want to come and almost refused. He wasn't too disabled to walk in my apartment. He still did flights at stairs at home and there was only 4 steps into my apartment. He sat like a petulant child in the car and then reluctantly came in and sat in our old easy chair by the door. My mother gave me that horrible sneer, forever caught on film, the picture as she met me at the door. In her eyes, is the lifelong enjoyment she had for my misery. The picture is so shocking I wish I could post it here. Sometimes I consider it but I keep this blog anonymous for obvious reasons.
They came in and she brought roast beef sandwiches with cole slaw in white paper bags picked up from some deli on the way. They spent about an hour, on the way home from their shopping trip blast. My mother didn't even sit down the whole time. I remember as they were leaving, she looked me up and down said, "Do you know how big you are getting?" It's disgusting". My father nodded in affirmation. Then she pointed at my worse leg, and said, "You need to do something about that too!". What could I do? I had no medical insurance and was barely getting treatment for asthma and breathing problems via the ER. I was seeing a charity doctor who would prescribe me needed antibiotics, but couldn't afford better care. I had already had multiple hospital visits with one week to three week long stays, for severe leg infections and blood poisoning. The me of today remains in horror, that two parents could see their daughter literally dying, covered in sores through out her whole body having gained hundreds of pounds in a very short period of time and do nothing about it.
Together my parents were a nightmare. It's like they fed off each other. The evil would be increased a notch when they were together. Us kids would be relived whenever one went away usually my father on a business trip, because the tag teaming of child abuse and ranting and raving about what me and my brother did that day would go down. Alone my father seemed more placid, and easier to deal with and alone my mother simply ignored us more.
As I have written before, she would manipulate him, throwing him into a froth, complaining about me and my brother. She usually would instigate this complaining about the housework and things not being clean enough. A spot on the bathroom floor, a droplet on the kitchen floor and all hell would break loose. The smallest sins would be magnified a dozen fold. He would smack us saying "Don't talk back to your mother!" My brother got it worse as I shrunk into the wall, getting all the attention for being a boy but that included beatings for not getting good enough grades and for losing a tool or for making an error as my father did his endless yard, house maintenance/decoration, and computer projects.
It's strange. He was so controlled by my mother. Sadly my mother defined me in his eyes as she did with everyone else. I believe she turned him against me totally. It was like he saw me as "nothing". The list of my failings never ended. He called me a loser for being poor and not getting jobs. He mocked both I and my husband at the dinner table, saying we could never afford a trip to Disney World where he bragged spending 7,000 dollars on the trip.
Around the same time my sister decided she hated me after I was into college, things worsened with my father. I had moved back home to do my student teaching which pissed them both off. My health had worsened. Everyday I was treated like I was in the way. Downstairs in the basement while standing next to the pool table being told to do some cleaning project, he said to me, "Your personality sucks!" "No one likes you! and you have a shitty personality!" This attack remains in my mind because he was attacking the core of my being, basically saying he did not like who I was. These weren't thoughts he came up with his own but definitely instigated by my mother.
The me of today wonders, "Why didn't I fight back?" Is there any wonder on my high school student teaching report that while I got high scores on everything, the lead teacher pointed out a lack of confidence. Why did he hate me so much? That bothers me. I was scared of him and nervous which isn't exactly bringing out one's best side. If someone tells you that, where they even hate your personality, there's no hope for the relationship.
However things are more complicated. My father was different. My brother told me that once he apologized to him for being so abusive. I thought to myself, "Where is my apology?" Here while I have attested to his own narcissism and problems with rage, and abuse, I have seen differences between my mother and father that stood out.
He at times seemed to have this little good side in him, where he knew something was wrong about his life and it was not going well. He was a narcissist but seemed to have very brief but fading flashes of insight among the general mode of having none. He would hug us children on occasion. He would try to talk to us, though this was adversely affected by him screaming or hitting at us this the day before. He took us to movies and talked about science fiction and computers with us. Sometimes he would come home from work seminars that talked about life improvement and vowed to change. He wasn't going to scream at us anymore. He was going to try to be more understanding. It never lasted more then a week, but one could see this spark of thinking life could be different. Was this the spark of conscience my mother worked actively to stamp out? I think so.
My mother always had this way of commandeering people and he was totally. Even recently while being NC, during the pop-up visit, I watched my brother online and then my mother's present husband complain about the failings of his live-in girlfriend. I know where that originated. If my mother doesn't like someone or tells people what to think, she can get everyone on board with her hate campaigns. No one ever defends the person she decides to speak against. Even now it troubles me how these dynamics remain so entrenched.
With my father, I have been confused my whole life about the small snippets of good and the very very bad. This was the same man who hit me and threw me in the pool to sink and almost drown, while I screamed. He pinched at me and smacked me all the time. He kicked me in the butt. He respected no boundaries and treated me like trash. He would punch me in the arm if I didn't rake the leaves correctly. The neighbors would call the police seeing him cussing in the yard and smacking us kids around and even sometimes just from all the noise.
That's one of the complicated things about being abused. With the sociopath in the house, she hated me and outside of buying me things never deviated from absolute disgust with me. My father at times seemed to take an interest in me. He would tell me I was smart and talk about his memories. Talk about confusion. However every abuse website talks about this. Even domestic batterers buy flowers for their abused wives and talk nicely to them on occasion, it doesn't excuse the abuse. It doesn't excuse the fact he never stood up to my mother either or did something about the severe emotional and other abuse.
Why did he marry my mother? He seemed to see her as this angel that could do no wrong. She was the leading light in his life and on an absolute pedestal she never deserved. She never hugged any of us or talked to us in any serious conversational way outside of telling us what to clean. I once asked my mother why she never talked to me and never got an answer. I suppose empty shells just have nothing to talk about. She seemed to hate having children outside of her relationship with Mini-Me. One odd dynamic was that Mini-Me and my father had absolutely no relationship, she hated my father. Once she was married and out of the house, she had absolutely nothing to do with him. Even today my sister has nothing to do with my brother. or his children. Relationships weren't just destroyed for me, when life revolves round one person, there's many that go down the tubes.
This doesn't mean he stopped all abuses, but there were times he attempted conversation. He would share some happenings about his childhood such as when his childhood home burned down during the Christmas season when he was just 9 years old or talk about his summer working in Yellowstone Park during college. He absolutely loved Yellowstone Park and this was something I remember sharing joy with him in. So there were those times. My mother never shared anything like this keeping clammed up about her past completely. She never talked to me about anything.
My father had a very high IQ. For some reason I remember being told his IQ was around 140. Sadly even his intellectual interests and abilities were completely different from my own. There were times I wanted to understand things he understood but was unable to. He didn't understand how my Aspie mind worked. There are things I figured out he never could have done so and the mysteries of math and computers remained a giant fog to me.
He was a computer and math genius who even got a full-ride scholarship at an esteemed Ivy League university. Imagine that, he was angry that his own children were not showing such academic prowess, but in his poor choice of a wife, it's not like we were getting academic stimulation and time to study. He won awards all through school and was even written up in newspapers for winning academic contests as a child. I believe his narcissism could be rooted in the fact that he never could do no wrong as a child. He was a shining star. I saw in one old newspaper online where his parents had a birthday party so big for him, they wrote about it in the newspaper with Aunt Confused playing the accordion. He was only 7 years old.
He never went without a job, so my later economic troubles were not understood. I flunked math all through school, and barely passed it even having to take the general mathematics exam that required 71 percent to pass ten times so I could get my college degree. One friend has theorized to me that my father was an Aspie, but I disagreed with her. His skills to make in the world were too high, he never faltered like me socially. He was not like the Aspies of Silicon Valley with great computer skills and social failure. He succeeded socially. He was a well-liked boss at work with a smile on his face and when he died many old employees showed up to his funeral even though he had been disabled some years before. My mother never would have put up with a socially awkward Aspie who could not make money. So no, there was none of the same social problems or any of the rest.
One thing I noticed when my mother was not around, there were rare times my father treated me far better even into adulthood. He talked to me different. Today when I analyze this, it happened after he got sick. I am not sure if was because he wanted someone just to talk to him or if it illustrated any real feelings for me. I remember saying to people, "Why does my father get nicer when he is sick?"
After my first no contact was ended, around 1993-4 right before I moved away to Chicago, I commuted to a job where I had to bypass my parents house and a few times I stopped to visit, when my mother wasn't there, he talked to me almost like a human being. That probably was the closest we ever got. My mother was not there and was at work But then that was the time where it looked like I may still have a career and find a normal life. He was cooking and teaching himself to draw and exploring alternative medicine to help with his health problems. I discussed all those topics with him. Even then when I think back his accolades and excuses for my mother stayed the same. Did he like me more because I seemed like I was going to do well back then? This was the time I had my art teacher job at a juvenile home and it seemed career and otherwise, I might be okay.
As I got sicker and poorer all that goodwill disappeared. All it took was one job lay-off and even he threw me away and I was written off as a "loser". I moved to Chicago to get my residential counselor job and to stay off the streets which angered him. But what else could I do? He refused to help, I was facing homelessness and he was from the sink or swim school. My mother filled his mind with bad thoughts about other people including me.
What kind of man allowed a fat Aspie daughter to go work and live in the hard streets of Chicago? He had absolutely no fatherly concerns for my safety. There was no empathy for my troubles even from him. He was part of the picture of my severe medical neglect. There was total selfishness in that he only cared about his own health problems. He wasn't visiting me in the hospital either when I almost died of those deadly leg infections. He was healthy enough after being disabled to travel to Florida and Disneyworld and that notorious Mall of America so while he died at the age of 57 during that time he was healthy enough to have done more.
Sometimes I ask myself "How could someone influence someone to treat their own daughter so badly?" But he definitely had no qualms in doing so. One thing that bothers me to this day, is asking "Why did he treat his sister so badly? Why did I grow up hearing absolutely no empathy for a woman who was domestically abused?" This gave me a weird view of relationships. It's like I was taught that men were not supposed to protect women at all. My father seemed to have a weird view of women, and would scoff at any female tears saying women only cried to manipulate. There seemed to be a hatefulness for femininity or any "softness". This makes sense he married the hardest coldest woman who never cried. There was no Daddy's Little Girl stuff to my life. When I see that stuff it's like a punch in the gut, just like the "Mother always loves you" memes on Facebook. It's like I was another male child but one that wasn't quite good enough for basically not being male.
Another conversation stands out to me. I left the Catholic church when I was 18 and joined the Unitarian church. Today of course I am a Christian but back then that is where I was. I kept my mouth shut about this but my mother found out. When I told my father, he said, "That sounds like something you would do!" When I lived at home, they basically told me stuff like "My house, our rules" and forced me to go Catholic Mass even when I had passed the age of 18.
The conversation that stands out to me, sums up a lot to me. I was sitting in the car with my father with just the two of us and I told him, why and how I had left and told him, "I just do not believe in Catholicism.". He basically went into this spiel telling me how people join religions for cultural and social reasons. "No one really believes it! If you lived in China, you'd be Buddhist, it's for social cohesion. I really do not believe in Catholicism but I go along with it to keep your mother happy." I was very very bothered by this. I said to him, "How can you be a religion and go to Mass every week for a religion you don't even believe in.?
My father's religion was more science fiction. He even used aloud to me once that God could be an alien being with superior intelligence but he bordered on agnostic beliefs. His personal notebook full of phone numbers had this quote typed out on it on the front page: "Nothing Exists But Atoms and Space, All Else is Opinion Democritis 460-370 BC." I am not sure what he would think of the me of today. He probably would joining in the disgust of someone in the family being a Christian.
To me this is an example of the thought control that a narcissist can hold over another. Everything was about pleasing my mother to that man even to the point of the suppression of his own religious beliefs and thoughts. How could one keep silent about so much? My mother's second husband even ditched his life long Methodism to join the Catholic church at her bidding. In other words, my mother's control of people even supercedes God's in their minds. What of God? I couldn't bring up religious issues with either of them. My father busily told me to keep my mouth shut about any religious questions.
One thing about my personality compared to my father's is he would chide me constantly for being too idealistic. In some ways this was true, I didn't know how the world really worked but his put-downs for being a "flowery hippie". "hippie-dippie" and "flower-child" did not include any real lessons about the world. I was seeing far more of the world working with incarcerated youth, gang members and living in the neighbors I did then any of my parents ever did. There seemed to be part of him very angry that I held to the things of conscience and simply did not conform. He was always angry at me for not submitting to him and to my mother. He told me constantly I was "too weak" and "too sensitive".
When I read People of the Lie, and read about the couple where one was in thrall to the other. It described my father to me. I wrote about this on the People of the Lie article.
"One thing about my father is while he was a narcissist too, he was in thrall to my mother, same as Hartley the milquetoast weak husband to Sarah in "People of the Lie." Notice how Hartley did Sarah's bidding at every step even as she insulted him emasculated him and called him nothing. He reacted with depression but still never challenged her. My mother and father screamed and yelled at each other without fail, with my mother making constant demands of my father, leaving him no energy for anyone else but in the end whatever she said went. I can't even recall one time where he made a stand against her or didn't submit to her wishes. This is true for my entire family come to think of it. I am the only one who has ever "rebelled".
His "thralldom" to my mother allowed him to be led by the nose into even worse behavior. Peck goes into thralldom of evil in this book and says that Hartley was in thrall to Sarah. Charlene while more of a borderline type sociopath also too expected complete control in any relationship.
My father would have his rare moments were it seemed he wanted to change to be a better person but it vaporized under her spell. There were times he tried to get close to me, but she would shut it down in an instant. She had a way of goading him on and having him erase all his vestiges of kindness encouraging meaner and colder behavior. To please her, he chose wickedness. He put her on a pedestal treating his own children like objects but he made this choice to submit to evil.
I believe this is true. Even the religious aspects of following his wife's religion he really did not believe in was part of this being in "thrall" and seeking to please.
One close friend met my father acouple years before he died, and has told me, "That is the saddest man, I ever met!". I would agree that something in him did seem very sad and lost. When he got sick, he seemed to have some regrets. But even far before that he was not a happy person.
When I look back, and my health conditions are far worse then his and came at a young age, even his health problems don't explain his object misery and constant anger. I used to wonder "What brought out all the rage?" Was he repeating child abuse he had suffered? Anyhow he was such an angry person. He would brag about being a perfectionist, well that I believe was part of the problem. Everything had to be perfect and when it was not, he would get very angry at the world, others and himself. Of course my mother worsened this side of his personality, basically three children suffered under the perfectionism yoke.
I cried and cried when he died, but I had grief over the relationship that should have been too. I feel like he was someone else taken away from me by my mother. Sometimes I have considered who people could have been without the wicked influence. I saw the brief moments even admist all the abuse where he wanted more and where he seemed to want love, and to be close to us. However his desire to please my mother, superceded all this. I remember seeing an early letter he wrote her when they were first together and he is so eager to please in wanting to do right by her and fixing up their apartment. Even as a teen reading this letter, I was troubled and just shook my head. I wish he had been able to see me outside of my mother's eyes.