The Aging Narcissist
What are the chances of being adopted by a child-like narcissistic father and a self-centered mother, both without an empathetic bone between them?
What are the chances of having both those parents developing dementia?
Today, it hit me.
No wonder I was feeling depressed (and not writing much) over the last couple days.
My oldest daughter just turned sixteen. And while celebrating this momentous event, her birthday also served as a reminder that 15 years ago, my adoptive mother fell down the rabbit hole of Alzheimers. She died seven years later. Somewhere in there, my paternal grandmother developed Alzheimers and I was forced to handle that situation because my adoptive father was too child-like to take responsibility. After one (glorious) year respite from my job as manager of my a-mom's care, my father began to act more strangely than usual, developing a nasty, fast progessing dementia called "Lewy Bodies."
And here we go again, except this time it's worse because my father has no other friends or family but me, me, me 24/7.
As he makes his rapid descent into this awful disease, he's getting more needy. He calls at four a.m. to ask for a shipment of candy. He accuses me of not visiting for two years (it's been several months). He shouts into the phone, "Please don't forget me! I'm so lonely!"
Before you go and post a comment about dementia and behavior, I know. He can't help it. It's the disease. Sort of. It's just taken his normal (for him) behavior and ramped it up. He's always demanded constant attention. He's never had any empathy for me or for others. He's the kind of self-absorbed person who was abused as a kid, never got over it and stopped maturing, and looks to other people to provide a steady stream of attention. He the child. Me his supply source. Now he the dementia patient. Me the emotional caretaker. Again.
I am a cesspool of resentment. His neediness is overwhelming.
There is no solution. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is no wellspring of love and gratitude for my self-absorbed adoptive father. I'm not sure if it's possible to love someone like that. I act - diligently and morally - on his behalf, handling his finances, overseeing his care, calling him every single day without fail. Yet. I feel so guilty sometimes. Aren't we supposed to love our parents? I have no love for him.
And here's where the adoption part comes in. Every once in a while, I wonder...why did my adoptive parents adopt? While my a-mom was a widely confirmed party girl, she was also practical. She married my father, I believe, because she was a divorced Catholic woman with no money or prospects. He, for all his issues, had a steady job. I remember her being very impatient with and dismissive of him. He was exhausting to be around. Did she sense there was something off about him? Did she hope a child might change him? Make him act more like a man than a child? If so, he never grew into the job.
And while my dad has never SAID he expects my gratitude for being adopted, he ACTS that way. Like it's perfectly normal that the daughter he mostly neglected would stick by his side, handle every rocky situation and cater to his needs.
No wonder I'm seething.
All that ugly stuff said, I'm MUCH better at not falling all over myself trying to prove myself, being overly-responsible, calling him back two seconds after he calls me, rushing around in a meaningless flurry of unnecessary activity. Because that's how I used to behave. He TOTALLY controlled me. This man I don't even like. Now, I continue to take care of him (sigh), but I've put up some boundaries, respond according to the situation and, believe it or not, can hang up the phone after a difficult conversation and, mostly, forget about it a half hour later instead of stewing for days.
Every once in a while, I have a bit of a "relapse" (and blog about it). But that's the trouble dealing with an aging narcissist. They only get worst and the whole "unfairness" of it all can be overwhelming.
Labels: narcissistic parents