Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Official Confirmation: I'm Not Crazy

For those in the Adoption Triad who read my blog, apologies. This IS off topic, but I feel I need to get this down in order to understand my relationship with my a-father and, more importantly, help me figure out what to DO to deal with him a way that's healthier for ME.

Here's the thing about having a narcissistic parent: You're never quite sure because at the end of a chat you're so twisted around it seems YOU might be the one who's crazy.

A psychologist confirmed that my father is narcissistic, incapable of anything more than shallow feelings. Yet, yet...is he really, honestly and truly? If a scale for narcissism existed, would he be a five? A ten? Just how bad is he? Could there be something else wrong with him that could account for his strange behavior? After four decades of confusion, frustration and denial, these questions are suddenly important.

Thanks to Elizabeth, fellow adoptee and daughter of a narcissist, I FINALLY have the confirmation I've been looking for. And not only that, I now have insight into some of his perplexing behaviors...and what role I've played...and how I've managed to survive his wrath.

Elizabeth (www.ihateadoption.blogspot.com) suggested the following website: www.narc-attack.blogspot.com from which I linked to "How to Recognize a Narcissist" written by Joanna Ashmun who says she writes from personal experience. Her observations were astounding and shockingly familiar. I hope she doesn't mind being quoted:

It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of narcissists' lack of empathy. It colors everything about them. I have observed very closely some narcissists I've loved, and their inability to pay attention when someone else is talking is so striking that it has often seemed to me that they have neurological problems that affect their cognitive functioning

EXACTLY! BINGO! This describes my father PERFECTLY. In fact, over the years, when medical professionals have met my father for the first time they later asked, when we were alone, if he always behaved that way, disturbed but unsure what to make of it. It's like he talking AT someone but not connecting .

From my personal experience, and from what I've seen in the clinical literature, narcissists don't talk about their inner life -- memories, dreams, reflections -- much at all. They rarely recount dreams. They seem not to make typical memory associations -- i.e., in the way one thing leads to another, "That reminds me of something that happened when I was...of something I read...of something somebody said...." They don't tell how they learned something about themselves or the world. They don't share their thoughts or feelings or dreams. They don't say, "I have an idea and need some help," or "There's something I've always wanted to do...did you ever want to do that?" They do not discuss how they've overcome difficulties they've encountered or continuing problems that they're trying to solve (beyond trying to get someone else to do what they want).

Several times, in an attempt to understand what bothered me about my a-dad's communication style, I transcribed our phone conversations. I showed it to my therapist. She said it was very strange, that he seemed to lack to the ability to think abstractly. These chats took place before he had dementia. When I read the above quote, the lights went off. My father has never made typical memory associations. Every bit of what he says begins with the word "I...." and it is all very concrete and limited to a one yard radius with him as Ground Zero. I like this. I don't like that. I have a doctor's appointment. That woman drives me crazy. I don't like this TV show because there's too much blah, blah, blah and no action...a sort of unfiltered, stream of consciousness that is hard to follow.

A striking thing about narcissists that you'll notice if you know them for a long time is that their ideas of themselves and the world don't change with experience; the ones I've known have been stalled at a vision that came to them by the age of sixteen.

Yep. My a-father is the same man he was when I was a child. It's as if he's frozen in time. He did not have a mid-life crisis, never suffered from existential angst. Saddest of all, he failed to gain any new insights or wisdom that comes with age. My sixteen year old daughter is wiser and much more reflective than her grandfather. It is like she is a different species. Or HE is.

It is also essential that you keep emotional distance from narcissists. They're pretty good at maintaining a conventional persona in superficial associations with people who mean absolutely nothing to them, and they'll flatter the hell out of you if you have something they can use or if, for some reason, they perceive you as an authority figure. That is, as long as they think you don't count or they're afraid of you, they'll treat you well enough that you may mistake it for love.

This is the quote that blew me away. I'd always wondered how my father, who alienated everybody he ever met, managed to have a 36-year marriage and never reject me. I think I finally get it. My a-mother was cold and domineering and no doubt an authority figure. Even my a-mom's friends have said he was afraid of her. He was an only child and his mother probably gave him the kind of attention he needed. That is, until I was old enough to become his narcissistic supply. My a-mother would quickly tire of him and order him to talk to me instead. And while all these years I've listened to him and have been compliant and complicit, I've always kept my emotional distance. I suspect he's never rejected me because he knows I'm all he's got and I'm a damn good problem solver and financial planner. He's manipulative. VERY manipulative.

But, as soon as you try to get close to them, they'll say that you are too demanding -- and, if you ever say "I love you," they'll presume that you belong to them as a possession or an appendage, and treat you very very badly right away.

After my mother died, my Dad dated like crazy. He got Viagra and tried to tell me about his sexual exploits and conquests, which I refused to hear. I had to forcefully remind him that I was his daughter and that his behavior was unfatherlike and inappropriate. He'd date intensely, for a bit, then he'd turn against the woman de'jour. One day lovey dovey, the next he loathed and despised her and had to "get rid of her."

If you should be so uppity as to express a mind and heart of your own, then they will cut you off -- just like that, sometimes trashing you and all your friends on the way out the door

I'd seen him turn against his only counsin, someone he'd grown up with, then a succession of "friends." Something always happened, relatively quickly, that ended with my father saying, "He thought he was hot shit," or "She's always talking about how sick she is, blah, blah, blah. What the hell do I care?" I suspect what happened is that the accused tried to talk about themselves for a change and my father could simply not tolerate this.

Which leads me to....whenever I've tried to test the waters and talk a little about one of my experiences say, like the time I was nervous about going in for a scary medical test, he got hostile and aggressive and demanded to know what would happen to him if I died. I asked wouldn't he be worried about his poor granddaughters and he got angry and said, "Forget them. They've got their father. I've only got you."

After a lifetime of neglect, my a-father has become even more emotionally needy and clingy as he ages with dementia. For the first time, he ends every phone conversation with, "I love you so much," (in the way lovers talk-gross) when he's never said it before. It nauseates me. It really does. It's pathetic and transparent, this final attempt at manipulation. Maybe there is a part of him that finally appreciates me - he says he does (also for the first time), but I suspect it's because he knows I'm the one in charge of his care. Just the other day, I once again tested the waters and tried to talk a bit about myself and he immediately got hostile. No wonder I never dared.

Labels:

26 Comments:

Blogger Joy said...

wow, Nina, what a lot to deal with, shows to go how far you can leverage adoptee guilt.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Joy, Yeah! You're going to be on the Adoption Show! Saw it on an email alert. Cool! Felt yukky all day since writing this post. It's such an awful subject and I feel almost guilty. But not quite. Have struggled trying to separate the two issues: having a narcissistic parent (which can happen to anyone) and, of course, being adopted. But the two ARE linked because a social worker gave him a pass because she spent all of 20-minutes with my a-parents and that's disturbing.

7:58 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Nina...it has been a very twisted life for you to say the least. The people who raised you had such significant inadequacies that they could not develop healthy relationships so you were left to fend for yourself to discover what could be. Getting to where you are now came with a price but I can tell you are much healthier than having to live with and deal with your aparents on an ongoing basis.

Having read you blog for a period of time, I can see your struggle between dependency, co-dependency, independency and interdependency - and it is somehthing you still struggle with by standing your ground by maintaining boundaries.

It is actually remarkable (yeah I know its one of those "doctor" terms) that you have come so far. You could have easily slipped into a long term domestic violent relationship had you not left home early and went to college.

I admire your ability to put boundaries on your afather. Keep it up Nina...short visits.

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Mom2One said...

Oh, Nina. He's just so awful. Good for you for doing all the hard work you've done to heal from his abuse. This really got me:

"what would happen to him if I died. I asked wouldn't he be worried about his poor granddaughters and he got angry and said, "Forget them. They've got their father. I've only got you.""

Wow -- talk about COLD. The narcissists that have influenced my life -- my maternal grandfather, my first husband, my boss -- haven't been THAT bad. Sheesh!!

No, they really should never have been permitted to adopt. It's sad.

~ Judy

4:39 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

LEROY & JUDY...Thank you both for your continued support. I just wrote this really long comment back to each of you, then accidentally deleted it and now I have to run. BUT...this sounds funny but I actually appreciate hearing from a neutral third party just how cold and awful my father comes off because he's like a con artist. He SEEMS to be such a jovial guy and SEEMS to be so down-to-earth...until you spend more than five minutes with him. In a way, putting him in an assisted living facility was a double blessing because, for the first time, I heard from the nurses just how needy and demanding and mean he can be...and manipulative. He once demanded paramedics for an alleged heart attack, then perked up because he was getting so much attention. When the head nurse reminded him that the paramedics were down the hall, he flopped back on the back and pretended he was gasping. I always suspected he did this sort of thing. I think his frontal lobe dementia made him less inhibited to do it in front of other people.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous mia said...

....their ideas of themselves and the world don't change with experience; the ones I've known have been stalled at a vision that came to them by the age of sixteen.

Holy spot on batman!!!! I never fail to walk away with greater understanding of my own situation by reading your blog Nina. I wish you didn't have to experience this stuff but it is so comforting to know you are here. What a gift you are.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Mia, Children of Narcissists! We are survivors, aren't we? And it is comforting to know we are not alone in our very strange experience. Was very disturbed yesterday thinking about how utterly weird my Dad was and is and that I was (sort of) raised by someone who many would consider pathological. Then wondered why I was so obsessed with chronicling his pecularities and concluded that when battling alien life forms one should identify the species. Sorta like the beginning of the movie Alien or the end of Independence Day.

8:16 AM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

Nina I'm glad the Blog I mentioned helped you.

Yes we are true survivors.

Narcissism and adoption. It is amazing we are still here, alive and kicking and sane.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Elizabeth, It REALLY helped. BIG thank you. Connected all sorts of weird dots. PULEEZE post fabu Paris pics of yourself!!!

4:34 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

Hey Nina,

You may want to check out Alice Miller's book "The Drama of the Gifted Child", which is about children of parents in narcissistic crises. One thing she notes is that children of narcissists often become therapists...

2:38 PM  
Blogger MomEtc. said...

I worked for a narcissist and my father became both narcissitic and paranoid after a head injury. Thank god I was able to get away from them both. I wish you the best. People like this are a freaking nightmare.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

BB Church...Yes, I have discovered Alice Miller and her insights are a revelation. Thank you! In fact, I'm gonna blog about her now.

Mometc., Yes...getting away from a N. is best...and they are a nightmare. I'm glad you were able to protect yourself. I've heard that head injuries are horrible in so many different ways. Had no idea that one could be self-absorbed after such a trauma. Wow. How SAD, especially if your father hadn't been that way before. I'm sorry!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

Nina... I've read this so many times since you posted this, and also checked out that other blog you posted. Thank you so much.

When you get a chance, on a different topic, could you please drop me an email at babygirlm1963@yahoo.com or send me a message on MySpace if you're over there? Thanks.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

recipe secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket piano -
rocket spanish -
satellite tv to pc -
smtp 2 go -
spam bully -
spyware nuker -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the stop snoring exercise program -
the super mind evolution system -
trading stock indices -
truth about abs -
turbulencetraining -
turbulence training -
twitter annihilation -
twitter rockstar -
twitter traffic machine -
ultimate content creator -
ultimate font download -
ultimate wow guide -
video piggy -
vincedelmontefitness -

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
web investigator -
win clear -
win spy -
yeast infection no more -






3d covers -
500 scrapbooking sketches -
acid alkaline diet -
acne free in 3 days -
advanced pc tweaker -
apple patch diet -
art of approaching -
auction inspector -
av advance -
build a nice store -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
catch spouse cheating -
chikara reiki do -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
copy that game -
cure gout now -
Auto Content Cash -
Banner Ad Blueprint -

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Copy Paste Systems -
Every Other Day Diet -
Farm Ville Secrets -
Plugin To Green Profits -
Rapid Mass Traffic -
Tinnitus Miracle -
Tweetomatic Profiteer -
Woodworking 4 Home -
24 Hour Internet Business -
Blogging To The Bank -
Burn The Fat -
Earth 4 Energy -
Fap Turbo -
Fat Burning Furnace -
Fat Loss 4 Idiots -
Foex Auto Money -
Hemorrhoid Miracle -
Legit Online Jobs -
Magic Of Making Up -
Magni Work -
Micro Niche Finder -
Plr Article Software -
Pregnancy Miracle -
Software Submitter Pro -
The Affiliate Code -
The Diet Solution Program -
Truth About Abs -
Zygor Guides -
dl guard -
dog training online -
driver checker -
driver robot -
drop shipping wholesalers -
earth4energy -

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

earth 4 energy -
easy backup wizard -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error fix -
error killer -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence nuker -
ex girlfriend guru -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final uninstaller -
fitnessmodelprogram -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
flat to fab -
forex grid bot -
get google ads free -
get paid to draw -
get this off my chest now -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
heartburn no more -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
honest riches -
learn photoshop now -
linden method -
malware removal bot -

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

marketing on the fringe -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
meet your sweet -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
my online income system -
negative calorie diet -
no adware -
one minute cure -
one week marketing -
online pickup secrets -
partenon -
pc on point -
perfect optimizer -
perfect uninstaller -
pick the gender of your baby -
power cash secret -
profit lance -
publicrecordspro -
public records pro -
push button marketer -
quit smoking today -
registry easy -
registry easy download -
registry fix -
registry winner download -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket spanish -
rss power plus -
sem business blueprint -
silent sales machine -

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

spam bully -
sports betting champ -
spyware cease -
spyware nuker -
spyware remover -
starting a day care center -
the bad breath report -
the cb code -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the super mind evolution system -
traffic travis -
truth about abs -
turbulencetraining -
turbulence training -
twitter affiliate cash -
twitter decoded -
video piggy -
video web wizard -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
wedding speech 4u -
windo fix -
your bill killer -
you will get paid -
zygor guides -
20 day persuasion -
advanced pc tweaker -
adware bot -
affiliate naire -
apple patch diet -
article submitter -
art of approaching -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
cold sore freedom in 3 days -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
copy that game -
cure for bruxism -
cure hemorrhoids -
cyber link pro -
dl guard -
driver checker -
driver robot -
drop shipping wholesalers -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy backup wizard -
easy click mate -
easy photo biz -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
epinoisis -
error fix -
error killer -
error smart -
evidence nuker -
fap turbo -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final uninstaller -
fitnessmodelprogram -
fitness model program -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
flat to fab -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
heartburn no more -
hippo jaw -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
honest riches -
hot video squeeze templates -
instant website creation -
jump manual -
keyword research pro -
linden method -
malware removal bot -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
meet your sweet -
micro niche finder -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
muscle gain truth -
my traffic strategy -
nasty dirty money -
negative calorie diet -
no adware -
pc optimizer pro -
perfect uninstaller -
pergola plans -
pick the gender of your bady -
plr ebook club -
pregnancy without pounds -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

profit lance -
publicrecordspro -
public records pro -
questions for couples -
quit smoking today -
ready made review sites -
reg genie -
registry easy -
registry easy download -
registry winner -
registry winner download -
retrievea lover -
reverse mobile -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket italian -
rocket spanish -
roulette sniper -
rss ground -
secret affiliate weapon -
secrets book -
spam bully -
spyware cease -
spyware nuker -
spyware remover -
spy zooka -
starting a day care center -
tattoo fever -
team idemise -
the bad breath report -
the cb code -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the rich jerk -
the super mind evolution system -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

turbulencetraining -
turbulence training -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
wedding speech 4u -
windo fix -
wrap candy -
zygor guides -
7day ebook -
360 fix kit -
advanced pc tweaker -
adware bot -
affiliate naire -
art of approaching -
beating adwords -
believe and manifest -
blogging in action -
body building revealed -
burthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
cheat your way thin -
cold sore freedom in 3 days -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
convert 2 ev -
cure for bruxism -
cure hemorrhoids -
digi cam cash -
digital media solution -
dl guard -
driver checker -
earth4energy -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

earth 4 energy -
easy backup wizard -
easy member pro -
easy tv soft -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error fix -
error killer -
evidence nuker -
fap turbo -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final uninstaller -
fitnessmodelprogram -
fitness model program -
flatten your abs -
gamers testing ground -
gov auction -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
gov records -
herbal hair solution -
homebre ware -
home job group -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
inteli gator -
joanas world -
joyful tomato -
kidney stone remedy -
learn digital photography now -
learn elements now -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

linden method -
lose man boobs -
malware removal bot -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
meet your sweet -
muscle gaining secrets -
muscle gain truth -
niche adsense themes -
ninety day powerseller -
pc optimizer pro -
pregnancy miracle -
pregnancy without pounds -
privacy control -
publicrecordspro -
public records pro -
quit smoking today -
reg genie -
registry easy -
registry genius -
registry smart -
registry winner -
registry winner download -
retrievea lover -
reverse mobile -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket italian -
save my marriage today -
secrets book -
seo elite -
spyware cease -
spyware remover -
spy zooka -
stock assault -

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HELP! I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia xyzrxyz [url=http://www.buypenisenlargement.com]penis enlargement[/url] xyzrxyz and being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forum! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. xyzrxyz [url=http://www.male-sexual-styles.com]penis enlargement[/url] xyzrxyz They’re coming back now. xyzrxyz [url=http://pills.buypenisenlargement.com]vimax[/url] xyzrxyz Please send help! nitip [url=http://www.male-sexual.com/vimax-pills.html]vimax[/url]

4:17 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home