Sunday, March 13, 2011

How it all started

In a way, I admire my narcissistic father. Compared to his own narcissistic mother, he was a dear. He was somewhat aware of how utterly evil she was and tried, at least nominally and explicitly and in the official statements he made ("Live your own life" "You can tell us anything" "Whatever you choose in life is fine with us"), to parent differently.

My paternal grandmother, "Maka". I remember her vividly. Have you seen Disney's Little Mermaid? Remember Ursula the sea witch? Obese, scary, vain, with tentacles that smother and her collection of "poor unfortunate souls" whose life she sucked out and left them half-dead, shriveled, and miserable in her cave? Even when I was a little girl, I always thought of Ursula when I thought of Maka.

The fifth and youngest child of a poor widow who worked hard to keep them all alive, she understandably must have been deprived and neglected. And I understand how she had the conditions to develop NPD and grandiose fantasies. But nothing justifies what she did to her family.

Her husband was a classical enabler. He took her out of penury, and then did everything to please her, and nothing was enough. He took and then quit job after job, each more glamorous-sounding, and still she had complaints - the town was too provincial, he did have a personal chauffeur but the money wasn't enough for her jewelry, the apartment the company provided wasn't in the very center of the city... Nothing was ever good enough.

Then the children came. My father was the first and her Golden Child. Then came his poor sister, the Scapegoat, who was sacrificed at the altar of the Goddess.

I don't know what they hid, and they hid a lot, but judging from what they TOLD people as funny stories... I can only imagine. One funny story was about how Maka was resting and her enabling husband took care of the baby girl. She woke up at night and woke her up, so he spanked the 2 month old repeatedly until she learned not to make a peep at night. That was a cute funny story, often retold, even once recently by my father, oblivious to my shocked expression. Another cute family story: the little girl learned to talk late because when Maka was resting, her enabling husband TIED UP HER MOUTH so she wouldn't make any noise and disturb her mother.

Everybody had to serve and admire the Goddess. Her gigantic picture, taken when she was 19, hung on the dining room wall. It looked like an idol in a shrine. My father was the good son, and was praised and bragged about and he knew how to please her. My aunt tried desperately to please her too, but nothing she ever did was good enough.

The poor woman slaved away for her mother, even as an adult, even when she was grudgingly allowed to marry a poor boy utterly dependent on and in awe of this sick family. She still spent entire days and often nights too serving her mother, while her husband was alone at their home. Before this "marriage" she was forced to have an abortion and break up with a decent man who would have taken her far away from them. Probably BECAUSE he would have taken her far away from them. She was told she couldn't have kids "because of her heart condition" (she had none; her mother invented it; she wanted to stay her daughter's only baby). Even when her parents died, my aunt was still living in an invisible cage. Still alone in their apartment, still a shell of a person, empty-eyed, eventually successfully drinking herself to death. "Cirrhosis of the liver", says on a medical chart I found among some old papers. This was, of course, a secret, and my father would never acknowledge any of it.

My mother managed to sever... well, extend somewhat the umbilical cord between my father and his mother and my Maka hated her for it. They moved several streets away and they "only" had to come bow to the Goddess every evening. Once they went to the movies instead and my father LIED to his mother about it the next day, inventing some silly excuse. My mother said "No, we went to the movies" and that caused a scandal and my father was mad at her!

When I was born, he focused on me instead and my mother was relieved. They no longer went to his parents' every night, because they smoked there a lot and it was no place for a baby. He "only" had to phone her every night and report everything he'd done that day.

I was his new focus. In a creepy way, he tried to turn me into a new version of her. I'm sure he had a very ambiguous attitude towards her: he depended on her praise and attention, but he also resented her conditional "love" and the lack of freedom and the neglect and the need for constant service to her. So he dumped that on me. He "did" things for me, implying that he was treating me like a princess, that he was acting like my servant. I never wanted that and it made me feel utterly uncomfortable, but he insisted on things like driving me to places and preparing and serving food for me, to the point where my independence in these things seemed like a threat to him. But he also exuded an air of resenting the things he was doing and how he wasn't even expecting gratitude, but said with a hurt expression, as if implying I wasn't grateful. 

So, through her conditioning, he became the mirror image of her narcissism - hers was overt, a constant need for admiration and service. His is covert, a constant unspoken need for admiration FOR HIS SERVICE to someone. First it was his mother. Then my mother. Then me. Now it's his new girlfriend, with whom he's broken up several times because "she doesn't appreciate everything I'm doing for her enough". I understand. Poor woman. But - better her than me. She's a big girl. She could easily get out of it if she wanted. I did.

1 comment:

  1. My mother is similar to your father in that she plays the role of the martyr and wants to be worshipped for the slightest act of service. And no amount of thanks is ever enough. But then she flips a switch, and all of a sudden, overt admiration for how special she is is demanded. She will make the most horrible confessions, and then expect praise and soothing words. It is disgusting.


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