My therapist was onto something.
I'd been so busy reading self-help books on HOW to emotionally detach from my demanding narcissistic parent (adoptive father) that I'd skipped an important step: the grief stage.
Added to the fact that my a-dad IS a narcissist is the knowledge that some social worker actually PLACED me in his home. (Almost everybody notices there's something OFF about him from the start...you can watch them back away). Once there, I was fed and sheltered until I was old enough to become his new narcissistic supply. I suspect my a-dad tried this out on a-mom, but failed to understand that she was both domineering and
self-absorbed, so she won that battle.
When I woke up from my Happy Adoptee Fog, I woke up to lots of other things, too.
It was like opening your eyes one morning, hung-over, only to discover lots of really ugly guys in your bed.
One of them was the realization that I'd spent most of my life in quiet, compliant service to my narcissistic father. That, in four decades, it was possible that I'd never been allowed to finish one sentence, one thought. That, in his eyes, I existed not as a unique individual, but as just a warm body with a set of very patient ears.
Upon waking up, I went straight to anger.
Then read like mad about narcissism until it became an obsession.
And after all that, I'm feeling a bit frustrated why I haven't made more progress. Why can't I find true emotional detachment? Why can't I let go? I'm better. Lots. But not quite there yet.
Could it be that I missed a step? Like my therapist suggested? My therapist said the reason I often feel so churned up, unsettled and, well, utterly chaotic after an encounter with a-dad is that it probably triggers feelings I had as an isolated, only child, when my needs were not being met and I had no idea why, and that there I was, imprisoned with this incapable person. Which is scary.
And then she said I get to feel sorry about that. To allow myself to "grieve the loss." Instead of repeating, "I do not care" a hundred times after I hang up the phone, drained, to sit down and let myself feel the pain. So I did. And it was sad. And so pathetic.
As part of this exercise, I thought I'd transcribe and post a phone message a-dad left some time ago. Today, it's almost
funny. (Equally funny, I actually SAVED it). "Nina, this is Dad.I was in the bathroom when you called and when I finally got out, you hanged up on me. I can't get to the phone because you call TOO DAMN EARLY!Six O'clock! MY GOD! Call about Seven O'clock. That would be more like it! I'm trying to call you to get things straight with these damned phone calls. You call too damn early. My God. I'm still in the bathroom when you call. For God's sake. Call at seven like you used to do it. Bye. Dad. "
Never mind that over the years I've tried to tell him that seven o'clock in the evening is a bad time for me because I'm cooking dinner or I'm driving the girls around or on homework patrol or going out with my husband or seeing a movie. He doesn't get it. God forbid I disrupt his bathroom schedule. My schedule doesn't matter. His granddaughters don't matter.
Only the narcissist matters.
And I'll tell you one thing the narcissist does EXTREMELY well.
Train their children.
Labels: narcissistic parent; narcissism and the elderly; children of narcissists