Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Adopter Gets His

Admittedly, I'm stuck on a groove. Trying to get a handle on my job as only child and caretaker to my narcissistic adoptive father, who has Lewy Body dementia. He lives in a special unit of an Assisted Living facility. In short, I'm seething with resentment because I'm the only person in his life and I am responsible for someone who never acted like a parent. Instead, I parented this child-like man since I was a child.

So why didn't I cut him off? Because I was so caught up playing the good adoptee and being overly responsible and rushing around trying to cater to him that I didn't even realize until ten months ago just how screwed up he was...and I was. BTW, he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder about a year ago. Finally.

You reap what you sow.

You get what you deserve.

You get as good as you give.

What you do comes back to you.

I'm sure I could come up with some more, but why bother? Okay, just one more. He had it coming.

Oh, the irony!!!

Just the other day, I posted about a disturbing chat with my Dad. He confirmed my adoptive mother didn't like talking about it with me because my curiosity about my heritage was not important, that it hurt my mother to discuss it, that he thought adoption was ugly and "leaves a bad taste in your mouth" and that my mother didn't like to think of me "that way" and would rather pretend I was theirs.

So....

Dad called yesterday and sounded like his old-pre-dementia self. He was lucid and said he'd just realized he'd been imagining things. I explained he was having hallucinations and that it was part of his "problem" and did my best to reassure him.

Apparently, I wasn't sympathetic enough because he said peevishly, "You don't know what I'm going through. This is terrible way to live and all you can say is, Uh uh, I understand (imagine mocking in girly voice). But you don't. You'll never understand what I'm going through."

And then he went on to say he never knew what was real and what wasn't and how maddening it all was.

Well, how about that.

The man who...

(a) said my curiosity about my adoption particulars was not important,
(b) informed strangers I was his biological child (in front of me),
(c) told me I was a German Jew because he admittedly wasn't paying attention to the social worker (I'm Hispanic, my birthfather - or, "the man who made you" as he's usually referred to, was a blond Mexican national with German ancestry),
(d) told people I looked like my dead adoptive grandmother (again, in front of me)

To recap, my Dad said I'd never understand what it was like to not trust your environment because, who knows, it might not be real.

Well. How about that?

Of course, I wanted to say, "How do YOU like it, Mister? It sucks, doesn't it? You try living in make-believe world for four decades and then we'll talk."

Of course, I didn't. I'm not cruel. That would probably consitute elder abuse.

I must have spent all evening thinking up witty comebacks. None of which I'd ever dare utter.

But the whole thing IS rather karmic. Subject your adoptive daughter to a life of lies and pretense and what do you get in return? Hallucinations. I mean, how fitting is that most cruel of punishments?

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19 Comments:

Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Nina...There is nothing fair about living with a narcissist. Its all about him. Always has been and always will be. His world starts and ends at the tip of his nose.

He has no empathy. Empathy couldn't have died within him because I doubt he ever had it to begin with. Yet he is still human and although he does not have the capacity to reciprocate dignity and respect, you and his caretakers end up giving him that. It is more than humanly fair. It is divine!

You can only take him in doses - small doses because you would wear out, become impatient, or just go bananas otherwise. He will never understand his own condition and in some ways that is okay as long as you don't have to deal with him daily.

When he does finally pass on, whatever you feel for him, I hope it will never be guilt. You did more than any other daughter would have done in my opinion or should ever have to do.

1:31 AM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

One of the last things I said to my mother was, exactly "You reap what you sow."

She wasn't pleased.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Aurelia said...

Nina,
I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I hope someday you just say out loud all the things you want to. If you never feel you can, always know you can write it here on your blog and we'll still read it.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Leroy, I really like that. The world starts and stops at the tip of his nose. And thanks for the kind words, You're right. I can only take him small doses and thank goodness I sold his house and we have money to pay for such a good facility. The weird thing about my Dad is that he comes off so jovial and kinda sweet. He's not a bad, mean man. It's when you engage him in conversation or in life that it's only him that matters and that he simply cannot connect to another person in a meaningful way.

Elizabeth: I'm glad you said that to your mom. If she wasn't pleased, mayshe she got it...just a little...as much as a narcissist is able to grasp their problem.

Aurelia: I guess that is why I blog. To say all the stuff I can't in the real world. It's quite therapuetic. When I started blogging, I didn't realize how much support and insight I'd find from people like yourself who take the time to read and comment. I LOVE reading comments.

10:07 AM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I hope I didn't make him out to be a mean man Nina. I know many people with personality disorders and they can be very charming and engaging initially, almost in a grooming way, to get what they want, which is attention toward them. Its as if they trap you and then you have to fight your way out, if you can.

At least he can be okay with surface stuff, just not anything meaningful as you said. I guess if that is where he is at, that is probably all he will ever be able to offer too.

Love reading your story. Thanks so much for sharing so much of yourself Nina.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

Nina,

why do I think you are off meeting your mother now, am I confused?

It's soon though isn't it.

Wow, more of the magic of adoption at work with your adad. Spooky

11:30 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Leroy...No, you didn't make him sound mean at all. I just thought I'D made him sound that way. When he gripes, he does it in a poor-me-victim-sort-of-way. You really describe that grooming lure quite aptly. Last night, my husband made the nightly phone call to my dad as I was out w/daughter and later he said, "Wow. I told your Dad something and he actually listened and replied." How pathetic is that? That it's such a big deal that this man actually replied to a statement. Normally, he doesn't.

JOY...Next weekend flying to L.A. Argh. Gonna have dinner w/niece, coffee w/half-sister and a short meeting w/birthmom...also attending a Bat Mitzvah, seeing a childhood friend AND seeing my Dad. Crazy.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Mom2One said...

Nina, I don't even know your father and I have no right to say one word about him BUT (you knew that was coming, didn't you?) from the small amount I know about narcissists, I bet he wouldn't even "get it" if you told him (as you would so deserve to!) "how does it feel." I suspect someone I work with of this exact thing and whenever I've tried in a very diplomatic way to point things out, he somehow, someway ends up turning them around, once again, to where it's anyone else's fault but his. Same with my first husband. God, it's infuriating though, isn't it?!

Anyways, Nina, all of this is to say that I can only imagine how frustrating it had to be to grow up with this. Yikes! And how utterly frustrating to be taking care of your father now. Sending you strength through the internet, trying to anyways. What else do we have, huh?

I feel like I'm failing at words today; if I say (anytime) anything off base, just let me know.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Mom2One...Actually, you wrote just the right thing! BTW, therapist Nina Brown began doing research on narcissism because she too was working with someone like the person you're stuck with and she ended up writing a book called "Children of the Self-Absorbed" which is very good. It has some tips on how to deal with a narcissist so if you end up having to spend more time w/him and find yourself too frustrated, it's pretty good as well as interesting.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Mom2One said...

Ohhh, I have to spend a lot of time with him. I don't say a whole lot about work online; kind of paranoid about that whole deal. But yeah. So I'll have to read that book; thanks for the tip. Let's just say I really need that one. REALLY need it.

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