Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Signs of Danger

I'd been wondering why my narcissistic father was behaving himself lately. Was I a narcissist myself for believing it had something to do with applying the advice I found on the net on how to deal with narcissists (Don't contradict them, Don't confront them unless your integrity is at stake, Disengage emotionally, Show interest in them, Don't talk about yourself, unless asked, and you won't be, don't worry)?

Well. He really started showing clear signs that he didn't like me any more and that he resented my existence and "having to take care of me" shortly after my mother died. (He didn't really have to "take care of me" - I was 20 and just living at home because I was a student and going away to college has never been an option since my home is 15 minutes away from the biggest university in my country - but he was clearly angry about me just being there.) I later found out that this was the time he started dating his now girlfriend, only he was hiding it at the time. I suppose it was bad form to be dating just a couple of months after the demise of your wife of 32 years, whose gigantic picture you still had in your apartment, and about whom you still theatrically sighed and wailed to anyone who'd listen.

Then. He subordinated his life to her needs, wants and whims - although she never really asked him to - and demanded gratitude and admiration from her. Anything less, and he'd break up with her and she'd have to grovel. She's away on business 6 months out of every year and he goes with her and then stays alone all day long while she works, which he hates, of course. But, mind you, she's a tour guide in a summer resort, and there are things a normal person would love doing there. Like swimming, sunbathing, reading, walking, maybe meeting some new people.

It's not too far away, at that, and people have remarked to me that it was strange he didn't come after the birth of my second daughter, just to see her, but instead waited for three months until the time was up and his girlfriend was ready to come back. I'm mentioning this because this seemed to be the general expectation, but, as I'd already known about my father's NPD, I never expected him to come, and it was certainly a relief that he didn't. And it made me sure nothing was big enough to get him to come during this time.

So, we have that as a reprieve, as a certainty of 6 months of Very Low Contact for half of every year, no matter what. We look forward to their departure date.

So. Now he's been nice to us again. He's been mentioning my mother again, out of the blue, to my daughter. Nostalgically. And then he mentioned, the last time I saw him, that he was thinking about NOT going away with his girlfriend this year, as he finds it boring there on his own and has nothing to do.

WHAT does this mean? Could there be trouble between them? People with more experience dealing with narcissistic parents, please help me translate his behavior! What does he want? Is he thinking of leaving his girlfriend and preparing to make a Big Comeback into my life, after years of Barely Concealed Disgust at me? How do I, in HIS language, make it clear to him that it's not an option? That a couple of hours a couple of times a week several months of the year is already more than I'm comfortable with? That if he chooses to remain behind, he will NOT be getting constant all-day-every-day attention from us? That he's truly better off with her, because at least he'll be getting his fix in the mornings and the evenings?

And if I was right in my narcissistic interpretations and this is my fault because I've been trying to treat him the only way he wishes to be treated, what do I do now?

Do I have to start being mean to him or something?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (Sorry about that - read my comment and didn't like my lack of editing!)

    I don't know but if he is a full-blown Narcissist, trust your gut. Also: if he communicates disgust to you, and has done so for years, you are much better off without him in your life.

  3. Questioning our own judgment, and doubting our own sanity, must be an integral part of being raised by a narcissist. Now that you are aware of the nature of the beast, the nature of your self-doubt has also changed. Sorry for the crappy amateur psychology, just talking from experience :).

    It would suck to have N Dad around all year long, and you'd certainly have to work on your balancing skills OR figure out a way to cut contact (Are you going on holiday during this time?). But, those are practicalities. Don't doubt yourself. You're a sane person with correct conclusions. Even if you can't feel that now, don't forget it's true.

  4. And apparently I'm not a cold and heartless person either, because your self doubt makes me want to have you a hug and tell you everything will be fine. And kick that bastard :).

  5. You have no control over what he does, you can only control your reaction to it. Also, until this actually happens do nothing. If it comes to pass lay down clear boundaries and go from there when you see how he responds. Most likely nothing will happen and he's just playing the usual narc games. My mother, in particular, loves to get me worrying about things because then she thinks she's in control.

  6. Thank you, guys!

    Mulderfan, I gave it more thought and I think your intuition here is right on the money (I guess after 60 years you have a doctorate on dealing with narcs)!

    I'm going with the notion that it's just a narc game, as he can't honestly believe he'll be getting more attention and be less "alone and bored" if he stays behind. He'd have to hire a live-in nanny for that.

    He was probably just going for "No, daddy dearest, don't go away, you've been so good to us lately so we'll lavish attention on you, as is your due. Let that cold-hearted bitch who obviously doesn't appreciate you enough go without you." But I'll just suggest fun activities he could do there if he keeps bringing it up.

  7. PS, PWC and WAB, I'm not at a place where I'm thinking about going NC (yet). Thank you, I know ultimately that probably makes most sense, but I just couldn't do that now.

    If need be, we can plan long holidays away from here, WAB. That was my husband's suggestion too ;)

  8. Just don't tell him in advance or he might threaten to come with you ;)

  9. That's cool, I *totally* respect that. Sorry, I couldn't help leaning towards the "you don't need contempt in your life" in my comment.

    If you want to stay in contact: some people are able to cultivate something called "emotional insulation" that enables them to spend some time around the Ns in their lives. Have you heard of that? (Sometimes it's referred to as 'emotional detachment'.)

    Nina Brown discusses it in her first book, don't know if you've read it but thought I'd put it out there for what it's worth. I think it's probably mentioned in other self-help books on NPD.

    Best to you.

  10. Well, he'll be gone tomorrow. It turns out that this threatening not to go was just part of his emotional abuse of his girlfriend. When she ignored it and still planned on going anyway, whether he was accompanying her or not, he changed his tune, as she told me, and actually at one point seemed happy to still be invited.

    It was a Narc game aimed at her. Nothing to do with me, except rallying for support, which he didn't get, not by a long shot. I actually told him, back then "As a general relationship rule, the woman's always right, and in your specific situation, your girlfriend is always right."


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