Thursday, June 30, 2011

Something is rotten

The official stories of my family of origin are so ludicrous that, now that I think about them, more and more of them seem certain to me to be covering up lies.

Take the story of my conception. My mother told me once, in a whispering tone of voice, that nothing was wrong with her and that they'd been trying to have a child for 12 years because my father had a low sperm count. You can only find out you have a low count by being tested. My father recently told me they'd only been trying for 2 years and there were no real problems. It makes no sense. But his official story has changed.

My aunt told me the official story as it was told back then. My mother conceived a few months after my aunt, her stepsister, 13 years her junior, gave birth to her son. This was after 12 years of marriage. What a coincidence, right? Amazing! Only, not really. Because he felt the need to explain it, authoritatively, in such a sappy, insane fashion, that it has "FAKE" written all over it:

Allegedly, my mother held her newborn nephew and this finally got her hormones going, so she conceived!

Yes. That was the story. That's his official explanation. If you think it's ridiculous, you're not the only one.

My reconstruction of events: they've been trying for 11 years without success; they've been tested and he has low sperm count; perhaps they've already tried to use his sperm, but it's failed; he's refusing to use a donor's sperm, which makes her unhappy, but she's hopeful and won't press the issue; then, unexpectedly, her baby sister, 13 years younger, has a baby, and my mother is pushing 40; suddenly, she grows desperate and manages to persuade her husband to allow her to have a baby too; he agrees, but no one is ever to find out that he was the infertile one. She goes along with that. And much more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inches and yards

I'll never learn. A narc's criticism is based on projection. Period.

I believed my father when he said, and he did so often, that I was ungrateful and couldn't understand enough was enough. One of his favorite phrases directed at me was "Whenever I give you an inch you take a yard". It was for things like being too cheerful and bouncing and jocular after he joked with me a little. I never actually asked for much.

Here is a great post on how it is the narcissists who always take a yard. You give them some kindness, a bit of a compliment here, some loving behavior there, and they smell blood and instantly attack for more control over you. I've seen it with my father. I tried placating him, once I understood he was a narcissist, by being extra respectful and kind and offering him drinks when he dropped by and never talking about myself and asking about him and his childhood and listening to him. He stopped announcing himself. I signed a polite, kind message with "love". He gave me the silent treatment for forgetting to let him know we've arrived safely, something that wouldn't have happened earlier. The nicer you are, the weaker they think you are, and therefore they attack, thinking they'll get more control.

Because that's all they know and want. Control. They don't understand kindness and love as anything other than weakness.


I tore down walls and exposed dark closets to light

Literally. Instead of old, dusty, dysfunctional closets, I now have a big, open space, filled with light, which will be our kitchen/dining room/living room. And the kids will have their room!

I had horrible anxieties surrounding this. I expected the ceiling to come crashing down (none of the walls were supporting walls). I expected the neighbors to call the police (they're nice and I informed them in advance). Nothing happened. It's beautiful. The perfect beautiful home for my family. All we've ever wanted.

And it occurred to me. I was nervous about investing so much in our home because it's legally his and he could take it away at any time. But the thought came to me as I was looking at that big open space full of light. This is my home. It's mine. We switched, it was just an oral agreement, but it's valid, and I'm sticking to it. The only reason we didn't switch properties legally was because my father would have to pay a tax (I wouldn't, because according to the local law I'm next in line to inherit his property anyway, while he's not next in line to inherit mine). This is my home and no one will throw me out of here without a good fight. We won't move out. We'll prove that we agreed to switch. We invested a lot in this apartment. We increased its worth by a lot. It's ours.

Sure, he could still try. But I'm not afraid any more. If he does try, I won't just say "Sure, Dad. You can give and then take away, you can agree to something and then pretend it never happened, you can do it to me again, like you always have, because your name is on a piece of paper." No. I'll go to court. I'll get it all out in the open. Everyone will know who he is. He'll be exposed. The walls of his world will come crashing down and his dark closets will be exposed to the light. And that's what he fears the most. So, even if I legally might not be certain to win, I might not have to. He won't want to face the truth publicly. He won't send the police to have us evicted. That kind of stuff looks bad. He's a narcissist, not a psychopath or a sociopath.

The worst case scenario? He sends the police, we refuse to move out, I sue, we go to court, I lose. At least I will have fought for my family.

I don't know now what I was afraid of. The walls are down, the light is in, and nothing happened. It's beautiful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


So I forwarded my father some birthday pics that I received from my ILs. Mostly, my aunt and I wanted to conduct an experiment to see how quickly they ended up with her and with what message. But, also, I didn't want to be a bitch. Unnecessarily.

His response to me was profusely sugary. He's been signing everything with double messages of love since I stopped signing mine with our usual family signature that included "love".

Sure enough, my aunt was sent the pictures immediately. His message to her stated that "My girlfriend asked Pronoia to send us the pictures so she did". Does this mean that Pronoia should have sent pictures without being asked? Or that if he'd asked, she wouldn't have sent pictures? My aunt probably gets the version of our relationship in which I'm a cold, ungrateful daughter, which is why it was phrased like this.

I wonder why I keep thinking what he's thinking and expecting him to be fair and think well of me if I'm being fair and nice to him. Expecting him to acknowledge I'm being nice to him despite his unkind actions. That's not how he operates.

I fee like upsi's latest post must be meant for me. I feel reproached from both sides and I don't know what I personally want. I want to enjoy life with my family and think about nothing else right now.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I sent my father some beautiful pictures.

My main motivation is purely scientific curiosity. It enables me to conduct an experiment. I wonder if my aunt - and all the others he keeps in touch with more frequently than he does with me - will be forwarded these pictures and in what manner. I want to know how he uses pictures and other information he gets from us. My aunt is as curious as I am.

Secondly, he has made a much better attempt at communication today. He sent me an email personally, in which he forwarded all the birthday photos he'd received from my aunt, followed by just a little polite and sugary chit-chat. This is an improvement. It felt kind of normal and sane to send some photos to him in response. Like something members of a functional family would do too.

I feel like I'm rambling. I haven't slept in 40 hours. I couldn't fall asleep at all last night, I kept imagining we were being thrown out of our apartment (we're just about to begin a phase of acute and costly redecorations, which will truly make it the perfect home for our family).

If my father indeed has a network of acquaintances in front of whom he badly wishes to appear as a doting father and grandfather, and for which purpose he asks me for information about and photos of my family, this is actually good news. Throwing us out of our home would not sound good to them.

I don't know why I feel like the weak one here. We have an agreement according to which I use his apartment, and he uses mine. They have the same market worth. My weakness, I guess, lies in the fact that this apartment means something to me and my family and that we've invested something in it, financially and emotionally. And I know that narcissists will sometimes take away something they can just because they can and because you want it.

No more rambling. Off to sleep. The big apartment project starts with its realization first thing in the morning!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Boring Me

I've heard it too often to count. My father doesn't want to "bore" me with long or frequent phone calls. When he calls, he asks how we are and what we're doing and then says "I don't want to bore you any more" and hangs up abruptly.

And I used to believe him, only too well. I even went so far as to completely internalize that insanity - I FELT GUILTY about being so obviously BORED with my father's phone calls that he apparently felt he had to make them ludicrously short.

I was even defensive about it. After a phone conversation that took all of 10 (ten!) seconds, my husband asked "What kind of a phone conversation was that?" And I was sure he was BLAMING ME for being such a cold and cruel daughter that my own father felt he had to hang up after 10 seconds, so I actually snapped at him and tried to defend myself! It was only recently that I asked him "You actually meant him? He was the one you thought was not communicating in a normal way?" He replied "Of course. What did you think?" I thought it had to be my fault. I thought I was so obviously selfish and self-absorbed that people just didn't really want to talk to me for long for fear that they were boring me. And I was sure I must be boring the socks off them, too.

Wow. I'm only now realizing some of the effects. I don't call people to just talk to them. It doesn't feel right. There has to be a practical reason for every conversation. If I miss someone, I'll call them only if I can invite them over for a meal or coffee, at a very specific date. Or (Dear God!) if I need a favor. Because that's something concrete and practical. I actually lost a friend once because I never called her on the phone. 

But neither am I cold, cruel, and easily bored nor am I boring and difficult to talk to. I'm only boring to my narcissistic father because he's narcissistic and I've never really been a good audience (too many opinions of my own, not enough silent worship, not easily hurt by his criticism, and, perhaps most importantly of late, noticeably happily enjoying life in my family of choice with no drama at all). He doesn't want to talk to me. And it's not my fault. And I can talk to other people. I can actually pick up the phone and call my aunt, my cousins, my friends, and just... talk. Wow.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Flying Monkey Air Raid

I just got a very disgusting message from my father's girlfriend.

First I'll quote it in its entirety and then I'll shred it to pieces.

"Pronoia, how are you and what are you doing? How are the children? When are you going on holidays? I haven't been working too much. Only two or three days a week. The two of us are getting along quite well. It would be nice if you'd send us pictures from the birthday party. Greetings to all."

My comments are green:

"Pronoia, how are you and what are you doing? How are the children? When are you going on holidays?

This is my father's voice here. The "polite", impersonal string of random questions that mean little and that could have been directed at any acquaintance and that show no interest in the answer.

I haven't been working too much. Only two or three days a week. The two of us are getting along quite well.

Red alert. Among the small talk, I see what's going on here. Before they went away, she'd complained to me about the horrible abuse he'd been subjecting her to. I listened and validated her and told her, when he wasn't listening, that she could write to me any time for support if she had problems because I understood. She must have told him about this and he must have seen that we were getting too close for his taste. So, obviously, he turned his charm back on with her, and is once more the good, gentlemanly boyfriend to her, which makes it possible to enlist her as a flying monkey in his battle against me. I'm flattered. I must be a worthy opponent. He's being nice to her AND he wants me to know that.

Actually, I'm lying. All this is hurtful and painful for me. But I'm not a wimp, remember? I'm a warrior, etc. I'm hurt both by his behavior (expected) and hers (not so expected; but should have been; after all, she's with him despite knowing she's being abused: why would she think the role of a flying monkey would be beneath her if she lets him get away with far worse?)

It would be nice if you'd send us pictures from the birthday party.

And there we are. Right at the end. The only reason for this message (she never writes to me; there's no need to; I barely correspond with him; she communicates with me only in her Flying Monkey role). He wants the photos of the birthday party of the birthday girl whose birthday he never congratulated us on because he was sulking. It's beneath him to ask. He probably thinks they are his due, and is offended I hadn't sent them myself. It would be nice if I sent them - and it's not nice that I haven't sent them. This is not even a request. A request is: "Would/Could you please send us pictures?" What (s)he wrote here is a thinly veiled reproach: You haven't sent your father the pictures from your daughter's birthday and that's not nice! 

These are his words, written in his style. I don't even want to necessarily accuse her of participating in this, before I ask her. It wouldn't surprise me if he was the one writing these messages. She might have just let him. Or not even that.  

Greetings to all."

Again, I don't know what to do. As soon as he gets his hands on the pictures, he'll send them to all his "friends" to prove how he cares about his daughter and his granddaughter. I don't mind that too much, as he's not on FB or anything, these are just private emails, and the only unpleasant aspect of that is that it was difficult for two persons of mutual acquaintance to believe me at first when I "came out". They were sure my father loved me so much. But it didn't take long even for them to See.

I don't feel he deserves the pictures from the parents of the birthday girl to whom he didn't have the decency to congratulate the birthday in the first place. I was going to keep quiet about that, because I didn't want to acknowledge that I was hurt or even noticed this. But he knows what audacity it is to be asking for the pictures now. Which is why she's the one asking. My husband says "Just send the photos to her". Which might be just the appropriate response.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More fun correspondence

I actually missed some of the fun correspondence my aunt forwarded me.

It's very moving for me. Very. When she told me about it, she sounded more offhand about it, but her reply to him was so meaningful to me on so many levels. I realized she actually really stood up for me in the whole business, like my own mother never did. I realized she's not afraid of him, like my mother and I were. I realized my aunt probably actually really loves me. This is something astounding for me. I'm actually crying. I've never felt so strong. There's a real person who really loves me. Even though my father accused me before her. It made no difference.

So here it is. My father apparently asked for photos from my daughter's first birthday (which he didn't call to congratulate her on because I'd failed to inform him of my safe arrival). Presumably she asked why I'm not the one sending him the photos, to which he replied:

"I can only hope to get these photos from you.

Pronoia forgot to send me a message with only two words: arrived safely.

She will see when her children grow up, and then go somewhere, how she'll worry if they arrived. She doesn't understand that children remain children for the parent even when they grow up and become parents themselves. To them they are always just their children."

Yup. That says it all. JUST their children. Who belong to their parents and must obey them or face horrible consequences.

Notice how the first two sentences are supposed to be connected logically? Pronoia forgot, and therefore I can't get photos from her? Because, of course, I'm punishing her by never speaking to her again. Naturally!

She replied:

"Come on, N,
Whoa, you're heartless!!!! (this is difficult to translate - it's actually between "heartless" and "hard on someone" - in this context, it sounds like a semi-jocular reprimand, so I went with "heartless")
I understand well the forgetfulness of "children" because it reminds me of my own youth a lot. (so grateful for the quotation marks here)
My own children are like that too.
Unlike you, I never wait.
I call.
I recommend you do the same - if you worry, call her :)"

This is so refreshingly honest, direct, and sweet.

I couldn't help thinking how angry he must have been reading that. But there's nothing he can do to her.

The email I quoted in The Saga was a reply to this. Inadvertently, I pulled an in medias res on you. The fun part, in this new context, is his explanation of why he didn't just call: he won't call me to make sure we're safe and alleviate his worries, because he doesn't want to "bore" me, BUT he'll never speak to me again, because that's acceptable? More acceptable than "boring" me? It's OK to never speak to your daughter again and not congratulate her on her child's first birthday on purpose, but it's not OK to "bore" her with a short phone call? Does he actually believe he's fooling a single human being?

Not a Wimp

One of my mantras is "I'm not a wimp".

And I'm not. But I may seem like one (to myself?) at times. Because 1) I've been taught that only wimps do what's good for them, and strong people take abuse and destroy themselves in different ways and 2) I've been taught that a single little mistake will lose me parental love forever (see the latest silent treatment stories for proof), so my every confrontation with anyone is preceded with bracing myself for the worst possible outcome.

Which means I'm careful when choosing my battles. I won't stand up for myself (only wimps defend themselves, strong people can take anything) but I have to stand up for general ideals, and then I'm prepared for, say, losing my job if I refuse to do something immoral for my boss.

And then nothing happens to me. And I feel like a drama queen, creating drama over nothing. But it's not my drama. It was my narcissistic father's drama. And it was real. The slightest perceived offense and I no longer existed.

It's surreal to begin to understand that normal people don't function like that. That the world is not populated with people who will shun you, fire you, destroy you, over the slightest mistake or disagreement.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Saga of the Latest Silent Treatment

This is embarrassing to write. I'm afraid people will just tell me "It's your own fault for not cutting ties with a person who treats you that way". But I have to be honest here and tell the tale of the Latest Silent Treatment and how, apparently, my father Won.

In my culture, it is relatively customary for parents of adults to still worry about them and wish to be informed when they have arrived safely at their destination after a trip. My very normal aunt has the same expectation from her very normal very adult kids, who don't have a problem with it, so I know it's not an insane request. But my father is.

A day before we were going to visit my ILs for our daughter's first birthday, my father sent me a message saying, and I quote "If it's not too hard and if you remember, please let me know when you arrive."

Translation: If sending a message to your father is too hard or you forget, then you're evil and reprehensible.

I forgot. Here's the story of that and of how I even learned I was getting the Silent Treatment in the first place (again, I didn't even notice he hadn't called on my daughter's birthday. If his girlfriend hadn't sent me that insane message, I'd never know I was being "punished". No communication with him just feels like normal, pleasant life).
So he wouldn't call me to ask if we arrived safely (something normal parents would do if their kids forgot). No, instead he chose not to wish his granddaughter Happy Birthday and start trying to recruit an army of Flying Monkeys to Put Me in Line. He called my ILs and complained to them. Then he wrote to my aunt, telling her he was angry with me. She wrote back saying he shouldn't be so hard on us and he should have just called us. She forwarded me his reply. I have to share it because it even made my very calm husband angry. Well, I'll share the highlights, the rest is boring cliche narc talk. My comments are in green:

"I'm not too hard on them, I was raised that way. I don't know who Pronoia takes after, it's as if she hadn't been raised by us."

What his parents did to him can't be referred to as being "raised" but that's beside the point. The fact that he's angry and confused by my behavior and feels like I'm a different person than the one he "raised" is a huge compliment and proof that he knows he can't control me and he knows it.
"Me and my late wife weren't like that." Followed by a story on how they went to the post office to call their mothers as soon as they arrived to the seaside.

He may have been fully controlled by his narcissistic mother, but he's appropriating my mother here for his purposes. She never really called her parents and I have heard her say so repeatedly. It was only at his insistence that she'd do the same as he and call her mother on arrival.

"Perhaps times have changed, and I'm still living in another, older time, when parents were respected."

So there we are. This is not about worrying, it may not even be entirely about control. It's about "respect" as it always is with narcissists. He's offended that I forgot. He wouldn't call himself to check, because he doesn't really care or worry. The only emotion he's capable of is being offended.

"Perhaps you're right and we should bore them and call them, but I try to avoid it. I know she's busy and I don't want to get in the way. Even when I want to drop by to see them I ask them if I can come first, in case they perhaps have some other plans or business :--("

This is the part that made my husband angry. The hypocrisy aside (I don't want to bore her, because I'm not so important, but I'll get angry if she forgets, because I'm so important, more important than Birthday Girl on her first birthday), there's an outright lie there. No, he doesn't call to check if we indeed have other plans. He did at first, but he dropped it altogether. He just drops by, not to "see us" but to wait while his girlfriend is in class. He drops by at a time inconvenient for us, late in the evening. When his girlfriend has no classes, he won't come at all, for weeks at a time. 

The SAD FACE at the very THOUGHT that we might DARE have other plans or business is the SCARIEST part of this message. It's a fake message to someone who loves me, and STILL it's showing. Can you imagine what's actually in his head if he'd WRITE that to my aunt?

The silent treatment went on for 10 days. I wondered what to do when we got back and the next opportunity for "normal" communication came up. I chose to ignore the ignoring and wrote a message to let him know we got back home, like I normally would. He chose to interpret it as his victory, sending me a sickly sweet message in reply. My husband told me to save that message as proof to others, who don't get it, that it's all a fake game. Going from "angry" to saccharine in a beat is not something normal people do. 

I'm not sure I did the right thing, but I just didn't want to engage in the game. Let him think he won. I wanted him to understand that if he has a problem, he's supposed to TELL me. I'm not interested in reading between the lines of his girlfriend's messages or being "scolded" by other family members. I'm not interested in him believing I'm obsessing over whether Daddy's angry and why, oh why? I'm not sure I made him learn that. But ignoring him would have clearly said I noticed him ignoring me. And I'm so dead set on not being vulnerable to him that I won't acknowledge to him or myself that I have even noticed that he wouldn't say Happy Birthday on my daughter's first birthday. And I might be hurt. But it's too stupid to be hurt about anything a narcissist does, so I won't acknowledge that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shaping Narratives

Kiki has a great post about what her novels had been trying to tell her all the time, even before she Saw her mother for what she was.

When I was 16, I wrote a Gnostic play in which the most vividly depicted character was the false god, the petty, evil, tyrannical, jealous, vengeful Demiurge who demanded worhip.

There was also the Unknown Real Father who actually fathered Adam's soul, because the Demiurge is, of course, sterile - he cannot create life. Only appropriate it and imprison it. So the Demiurge takes Adam over and lies to him that he is actually the one who fathered him.

The play ends with the Demiurge brainwashing Adam into worshipping him, the only real Daddy.

I promised myself I wouldn't let myself get carried away with the rumor of being the child of a donor, but this struck such a deep chord within me, something I've felt in my bones all my life. Something I seem to have written about long ago.

I might even settle for the whole "child by an unknown donor" story as a symbolic truth for my life. Not necessarily literally true, but more than so. Literarily true. If I were to write an autobiographical novel now, the main character would be the child of a donor. Even if this did not actually happen in my life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where do babies come from?

My mother's stepfather answered my question "Where do babies come from" with "A doctor puts them in the mommy's belly" when I was little. When I told my father about it, he seemed too upset and irritated over this, and said "From now on, ask me about everything you want to know".

The reaction seemed excessive for "I don't like it when others lie to my kids about the facts of life", which I thought was all there was to it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

He's NOT my real father?!

My aunt told me something quite interesting at our daughter's birthday.

Her mother (my mother's stepmother) told her that my mother had used with a donor's sperm conceive because my father was infertile. Now, my aunt says her mother was not the most trustworthy person in the world, but there's still a possibility that my mother's husband is not my biological father.

There are details that would corroborate this. I was conceived during their holidays, when they were both almost 40. My mother told me about my father's fertility issues once - low count (that doesn't suddenly get better with age, does it?). They named me after her aunt that allegedly helped with the procedure.

It would explain some other stuff as well. Like how come he resented me so much and wanted to appropriate me so badly at the same time. And how she would feel guilty and thankful about him accepting another man's offspring enough not to make waves about his fathering.

I have no way of knowing except taking his DNA sample without him knowing. I can't just ask a pathological liar, can I? My husband thinks nothing good can come out of taking someone's DNA sample behind his back. I don't know.

I only know I've started having fantasies about my REAL father.

The silent treatment from Grandpa instead of Happy Birthday

I think my mistake was signing my last text message with "love". I was feeling good, life was great, he was far, far away, we were exchanging a light text message every week or so, and I felt God's love pouring through me and into everyone.

But a narcissist sees other people's love as a confession of weakness.

He usually expects me to inform him when I arrive whenever I relocate, so he wouldn't "worry". It's pretty much standard procedure in my culture to send a short message saying "We arrived safely" to one's parents, but I seem to forget that a lot. I seem to forget him a lot, for some strange reason.

So, on my daughter's birthday, I didn't let him know we arrived at my ILs safely. I forgot. We were having a good time. Then we arrived at the summer house which is near them. Then I got a message from MY FATHER'S GIRLFRIEND, saying Happy Birthday to Baby.

And then another message from HER, in which she was playing the role of his Flying Monkey and in which I could recognize his usual cold vocabulary: "Your dad is here too. He called to wish Happy Birthday to Grandma and Grandpa (my ILs) and received the information that you arrived safely". Translation: Your father wanted ME to tell you he's offended because you didn't inform him of your safe arrival, and that's why he called your IN-LAWS to ask THEM - and probably complain about you - and he congratulated THEM on their granddaughter's birthday, but he WON'T do the same to you, you ingrates!"

I learned from my aunt that he corresponds with her and other distant family members and acquaintances far more often than he does with me and he informs them of my whereabouts, making himself seem like a caring father. That's why he's after the information so much.

It's been a week now. I'm not going to call and neither is he. I wonder how this will end. If I send a casual message, it might seem like I've lost the "war". If I don't, it might seem like I've noticed that he's ignoring us in the first place - which I have, but I don't want him to know that.

Friday, June 10, 2011


It's my second daughter's first birthday today. I feel joyful and proud. We'll celebrate with loving family on Sunday (only my maternal aunt and cousins on my side, yay!) and I can't wait for everyone to shower my baby with attention and love.

But I also feel so desperately guilty when I remember my first daughter's first birthday. The little I do remember. I was suffering from depression and nothing made any sense and there seemed to be no reason to celebrate anything. Sure, we had a birthday party. I just remember feeling out of place around all these happy people. I don't think I took any photos. In fact, there are very few pictures of my daughter's first year of life. Very, very few memories in my mind too. Just one long, dark, gray, hollow, bleak day.

I didn't use to feel guilty about my postpartum depression. I used to think I did the best I could to be a good mom to my child, depression notwithstanding. But now I know that the most basic, most fundamental piece was missing in her early childhood. The joyful love of her mother. I did feel some love towards her, although I blocked it and denied it out of "honesty". It was a sad, desperate love, full of pity towards my poor child who got stuck with a mom like me, a cold, selfish person incapable of warmth and nurturing.

I know the difference now. And I try to make up for it now. But I can never bring back those years. I just have to hope for the best. I have to stop doing the ACON thing where, if I haven't done something perfectly, it's over and ruined and I messed up my Big Girl for life and nothing I ever do can make it all right now and I might as well give up trying. No. I'll just keep doing the best I know how and hope and pray she'll be a strong, secure child who knows she's loved and worthy of love.

Back in school

Last night I was back in school again. I hadn't passed geography, history, and math, and now all my subsequent education is invalidated.

This anxiety dream has been recurring for years. I recently realized it meant I was missing an important step in my emotional and social development, and this invalidated my whole seemingly normal adult life with my family of choice.

But it means something else too. I hadn't faced problems and issues I was supposed to deal with in the past. I just ran away from them. I left my father and married my husband, but I hadn't dealt with him in my mind. I just sort of tried to forget him and the fact that I ever had a family of origin.

Last night, one thing was different. Instead of panicking and becoming depressed because I was supposed to study for high school exams with kids and a job and a thesis, I started dealing with it. I realized I had new, adult tools at my disposal. I knew where to get information. I didn't have to rely on the teachers. I could employ a tutor to help me.

Growing up means I am now an independent adult who doesn't have to be afraid any more. I can handle it easily now because I've really grown strong.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Had my very first FIGHT with DH yesterday

We've been together for over 11 years and we just had our first fight yesterday.

And I'm so happy and proud!

Until I started going through these reflections and changes, whenever I had any negative feelings about anything happening between the two of us, I'd go into silent polite wronged martyred victim mode, which made him feel accused of being a horrible abuser for things like raising his voice or saying a relatively generic swearword in a moment of irritation or just feeling irritated or less than perfectly happy, or anything, really, because I used to interpret anything less than perfect happiness on his part as a veiled attack on myself.

He'd react by asking me to just openly tell him off if I felt wronged, instead of playing poor silent polite indignant wronged martyr, and I thought he was asking me to be a scolding witch! I didn't want to "fight". 

Yesterday I said some things openly in a raised voice. For the first time in my life, I think. Things I didn't dare really think, because they sounded narcissistic in my head. Things like wanting to feel more appreciated for everything I did for our family and wanting more support in it and more help. He said all I needed to do was tell him - not even "ask" - because he's not a mind reader. I, already calmly, said I felt guilty about leaving home to do my translation work and leaving him alone with the kids and then feeling the obligation to simultaneously feed them and hold them and do everything when I get back, and feeling overwhelmed and resentful. He said the guilt was really only my thing, as everything really was fine while I was away, and all I had to do was tell him what I wanted him to do when I got back.

I said something hurtful after he made a negative comment about our (very challenging) one-year-old. I apologized. He said "I had it coming. You were right to say it." Then we laughed. Then we had the best sex ever that night.

So we had the first fight ever. Yay!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I only now made the connection.

My father is a narcissist. He looks down on sexually desirable women as potential mates and sources of supply. He's essentially a misogynist.

I've always felt uncomfortable with acting and looking feminine and desirable. I have no problem with my womanhood and sexuality, just appearing feminine and attractive.


I could hope to earn a modicum or a semblance of respectability and being taken seriously as a person and a human being only by being "one of the boys."


Now to unlearning it.

Invalidation by comparison

I have a very hard time feeling like I have the right to harbor any negative thoughts about my upbringing. Sure, it was obvious that I was never truly loved, and I was lied to, manipulated, used as an object to get narcissistic supply from and through, abused in some ways, and quite possibly badly spanked as a very little child, which I still can't know for sure and never will. But I can't complain, because many out there have had it much worse.

See, whenever I had any complaint in childhood, it was invalidated by a comparison. If I complained about my early bedtime (7.30 PM, as I recall, until I was 10 or so), I was told about a very distant relative who made her daughter go to bed when there was still sunshine outside. That would shut me up. I was lucky in comparison and should be grateful. And there was always someone who had it worse, however far away and little known to me, so they could always shut me up.

Now I do it to myself. All the time.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Never Missed Them

I used to think that the fact that I never missed my parents when I was little proved that I had a wonderful, stable upbringing. After all, my mother was a psychologist and I read some books and they all said securely attached children don't miss their parents much.

I didn't miss them at all. Once, we were all away, as a class, for two weeks, at 7 years old. At some point, all the kids broke down and started crying, missing their parents. I tried to pretend I did too, but failed miserably. I guess I always knew I was different - I thought I was callous and cold at the time. Then I thought I was very securely attached. Now I believe otherwise.

The more you interest them as a source of supply, the more they hate you

Interesting study:

"The present study suggests that heterosexual men's narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward heterosexual women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women. The results suggest that narcissistic hostility is associated with a group's potential to provide or withhold gratification rather than ideology about a group's sexual orientation or conformity to heterosexual gender roles."

My mother's psychological problems?

My mother was quite possibly bipolar. I didn't think it had anything to do with anything until I read that upsi's brother is bipolar. Is it a possible effect of having been raised by a narcissist? Does it make you more susceptible to narcisssists? I've tried doing research and came up with nothing. Thoughts?

I remember my mother taking sedatives at times and, when I asked her about it, she said she was "manic-depressive", as it was called then, and had trouble sleeping in the manic phases.

When I was trying to understand my postpartum depression, I asked my father if my mother ever suffered from it, or from depression in general. He said no, she was so happy when I was born, and loved me very much. I then asked about her BPD and he said I must be mistaken. She had no such thing.

So, yeah, he's lying. I've no idea why. It makes no sense. I guess it's a precaution with him - better lie, just in case. Or a mental habit.

Was she raised by a narcissistic mother, as I'm beginning to seriously believe now? Did she have BPD and is it in any way connected? Did it make her more susceptible to a narcissist's charms? Was she severely depressed at times? I do recall times when she just vegetated in front of the TV, dejectedly; and other times when she was highly energized and cheerful. It could only have been Bipolar II, and a relatively mild form at that, judging from my research. Did my PPD have anything to do with this? Did she have PPD too that my father's hiding from me? Am I more genetically prone to depression because of this?

Does any of this have any connection with anything? Or not?

So many lies, so many things I'll never know. Any little thing I remember or uncover has to be treated as a potential mine for meaning.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Anxious. Paralyzed. Lonely. Oh My.

My husband's away for the evening. He's a musician and has a gig tonight. This means I'll be alone with the kids.

For some reason, this causes anxiety for me. There's a burden on my chest and I can't quite breathe right. I feel sad and lonely and like I can't do anything now, because I'm paralyzed. I don't even know what it is I should be doing or what I'd like to be doing. When I was younger and living with my parents, on nights like these I'd go out and get the hell away from home. I guess the urge remains, even when the reason is no longer there. My husband provides the stability and quiet contentment in my home. When he's away, I'm all nerves.

My daughters are playing together wonderfully. I'm preparing dinner for them. The evening air smells of spring flowers. And I feel like running down the street, screaming in horror. It's like the world's about to end and this is a calm before the storm and the sky will rip apart any moment now and a demonic face across it will accuse me of doing everything wrong. Now and throughout my life.

Writing this down helps.


The only thing my mother seems to have been concerned with in my father's behavior was his alcoholism. She wanted him to get help with that, he refused and said he'd sooner divorce her. She let it go.

The funny thing is, I was grateful for my father's drinking. He always drank slowly and barely seemed intoxicated at all, but his disposition became a bit milder and more cheerful. And that was it. It was a hobby that kept him busy and happy.

I understand the drinking. It was the one "freedom" allowed in his parents' home. He and his sister could drink all they wanted as long as they made no waves. She eventually committed what can only be referred to as suicide by alcohol. This was concealed, of course. I only found medical reports on cirrhosis of the liver a couple of years ago. I only know that when I was staying with her, I was sent to buy two bottles of vodka every day. And that there were times when people had to go help her because she was "out" owing to her "heart condition", but she smelled of alcohol.

I understand this. Alcohol has a special significance for me too. I was also allowed to drink as a teen, together, with the family, and separately, with my friends. It seemed like a fun thing to do, but now that I look back, I realize that no one drinks on a whim. When I grew up, I no longer drank like a maniacal teen. I went for years never having more than a drink or two. I went for weeks, sometimes months, never having a single drink. But it was always there. This special meaning behind alcohol. And there were times I actually got intoxicated in my adulthood, I have to admit.

Now I get it. What alcohol does is provide me with the illusion of connectedness in a universe I was otherwise disconnected from. It was when I realized who my father was and what my upbringing was like that alcohol lost this special significance for me. Because, see, the disconnectedness is really the illusion. The illusion my father fed me. I can indeed be connected to the people I love. I have unblocked that. My father never has. Nor did his sister.

No confrontation.

Reading about the experiences others have with the narcs in their lives, I feel very lucky to be seen as unimportant by mine. I don't know what I'd do if I was constantly persecuted and stalked and hunted down like a missing piece of the narc's heart that he can't live without, every time I exhibited a bit of independence. I'm sure it would have to end in No Contact and all the potentially difficult consequences for my FOC.

My father and I have ceased pretending we cared for each other a couple of decades ago. But we are on polite terms. And I plan to keep this up for as long as it is possible without compromising my integrity.

As it is, I feel, more than anything, like a diplomat dealing with an insane tyrant of a country in possession of nuclear weapons. I may not like or respect the tyrant, but telling him that would not be wise. It would do no good to anyone.

We don't have a relationship and don't really pretend we have one. But he must be getting the illusion of something that makes it worthwhile for him to have any contact with me at all. What?

The illusion of having a daughter and granddaughters? As long as it's only an illusion and he gets no unsupervised time and very little supervised time with them, I'm fine with that.

Our home as his waiting room for an hour or two, twice a week, six months out of the year? That sounds more like it and it's annoying and I'll have to work on strategies to make it rarer. But there's just something about telling one's father - or anyone else, for that matter - "No, you can't come, because I find your presence annoying" that just doesn't agree with me. I've been able to turn him away a few times by making other plans, which confused him greatly, as people having lives outside of him is a difficult concept to grasp for him. I'll need to work on boundaries in this area starting next October, when I'll see him next, I just don't know how to go about it in practical terms yet.

I can't think of anything else he's "getting" from me. When we lived away, we never saw him. It must be the waiting room service he gets. Oh well.


I persuaded myself this sort of stuff didn't matter at all, so I didn't pay attention to it. But now that my kids are growing, I'm beginning to notice what a horrible gift-giver my narcissistic father is.

He makes a big fuss about how he's going to bring something to my older daughter. Then he comes, ceremoniously, grandiosely, like a king bestowing some special favor on his lowly subjects, and brings... used, dirty toys that are falling apart and that we have to throw away. Or something cheap and plastic whose only function seems to be to make a lot of noise and annoy us. Once he wouldn't tell me where an obviously used, decades-old toy, muddy and falling apart, came from.

"Did you buy it?"


"Where did you get it?"


"Was it an old toy of mine that you found in the attic?" 


"Where did you get it?"


I only recently did a little rewinding and realized I was grateful for basically being turned into a dumpster by him. His girlfriend is into healthy eating and is constantly buying food-processing appliances. He once brought us, on a special occasion, a food processor that seemed convenient for making baby food. Except, when I tried it, it didn't work. Then, once, he asked me if I wanted a juicer to make juices for my baby when he visited for the first time when I was pregnant with my first. I said no, I'll be nursing and then offering water and whole fruits. What do you know? He brings a juicer. Who knows what was wrong with that? It doesn't matter. What matters is that it doesn't matter what matters to me.

And these were the best gifts we ever received from him which I felt I had to be grateful for.

I know you are, but what am I?

I only realized it when I saw the words written down. When my father, in a completely unfounded way, insisted "we were obviously neglecting our daughter, depriving her emotionally and turning her into a mentally unstable person. We kept her in a prison where she was lonely and deprived," he wasn't talking about us. Of course. He knew nothing about our parenting. He was talking about himself and what he must have known, on some level, that he was doing to me.

Gotta love projection. It's the only way we can get information about narcissists, as they lie so much about themselves and factual history. It's through what they accuse others of that we can understand how their minds work.

I was only interesting as a little doll

They bought me a crib and doll-like clothes. (My father actually told me with glee about how a female colleague of his gave birth to her fourth son at the same time he got me and how she looked with envy at my baby pictures in which I was dressed "like a doll". I was horrified. I told him "You deserved the tomboy you got".) They bought me lots of expensive toys, meant for older children. My father controlled how I played with them, like he controlled everything else.

Then, when it turned out I wasn't a doll and had a brain and mouth of my own, I was ignored. I only see it now. When I was a teen, I thought I had cool parents. They never asked much about school or my life or my friends. I was allowed to come home in the wee hours of the morning and could drink and smoke pot almost with impunity. True, I didn't get clothes, or a bed, or much of anything, but I didn't need it. I went to the theater for free (student pass), read books, hung out with friends. I thought of myself as very lucky.

I have thousands of photos from the first several years of my life and none from later periods, except those I took myself.

Now I see I went from controlled and engulfed to ignored in a heartbeat. Being ignored was too wonderful to notice there was anything wrong with it!

It was only when I got married and moved away that the degree to which I was no longer existent to my father as a human being became obvious even to me and triggered depression and with it, eventually, healing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Power of Prayer: Or How I Started Setting Boundaries With NF

Now that I look back, I can only ascribe it to an act of Divine Providence - because I sure as hell didn't know what I was doing at the time when I had my first and only serious confrontation with my narcissistic father. And yet it worked out quite well. I still shiver at the thought of all the ways in which I could have messed it up. I had very little understanding of how NPD works at the time and only a suggestion made by a member of a family forum that my father might be suffering from it.

My father, who had had almost no interaction with us since we got married almost five years prior to that, and showed little interest in his granddaughter in her infancy, suddenly started noticing her when he dropped by to "see" us (to while away the time until his GF's class is over and he can pick her up). She was now 3 years old and, I see that now, a budding source of narcissistic supply. He started playing with her, in an irritating, controlling way that had me saying "Let her put that Lego where she wants to" and "She CAN TOO paint the sky that color if she wants to" often, but overall, I was happy. I'd felt orphaned until then and I felt my child had no maternal grandparents at all.

I mostly let them play for the hour or two twice a week that he was at our place. As I had trouble communicating with him, I basically just didn't engage him in conversation at all and surfed the net while he was here. I was also pregnant with our second child and, as we spent almost 24/7 with our daughter, I actually welcomed the opportunity to relax a little while she was playing with her grandfather. Usually, there's nothing wrong with that, right?

Then, once, once, we needed him to babysit for an hour and a half. 90 minutes. When I got back home, he was playing with her, and then he abruptly and arbitrarily left, in the middle of the game. She cried. She was three and the game was cut short abruptly.

But his narcissistic brain had another explanation cooked up. He phoned me later and said that we were obviously neglecting our daughter, depriving her emotionally and turning her into a mentally unstable person. We kept her in a prison where she was lonely and deprived and this is why she was upset to see him leaving. Apparently he meant to say he was the only one who ever paid any attention to this poor soul and this is why she didn't like to see him leave.

He dared conclude we were neglectful parents based on observing what we did while he was playing with her for a total of, say, 10 hours? My father somehow thought it proper to attack me as a bad mother, annihilating the basis of my parenting, while I was 30 weeks pregnant with my second? And based on nothing?

I shouted that at him, said 'thanks for your concern, good bye' and hung up.Then I posted this on a family forum with a little back story about my own childhood (which I then saw as somewhat too controlled but mostly too coddled with him as the overly doting, active, involved father) and his own childhood (which I even then clearly saw as dominated by a narcissistic mother - my grandma was the textbook case no one could miss). A wonderful woman who had a narcissistic husband diagnosed my father in one short post, and wrote so many things describing him so thoroughly that I thought she must be psychic.

He came by later that week and I only had time to read up a little bit on NPD and still wasn't convinced he had it. I had no idea how to confront him. I mostly detached from him emotionally and was basically interested in establishing some very important boundaries. And even that was fuzzy in my head.

So I prayed. I prayed like mad to be able to say the right things.

When he came, I was calm, collected, somewhat cold. My voice was strong and deep. I did almost all the talking. I didn't argue or defend or justify or explain. I attacked. I said "Your comments were completely out of line. You have no right to criticize another adult's parenting, and without any solid concrete evidence whatsoever. I am not interested in hearing anything like this again."

He might have mentioned something about his own parenting, which prompted me to confront him, for the first and last time, because it made sense only then, about it. I told him the only things I remembered from my ideal childhood with all the walks in the park and whatnot were a few unpleasant instances. Like the time he was angry because I went for a walk with my maternal grandparents at age 5 instead of with him. (Because, apparently, I was supposed to remember we'd "agreed" to go together, and then I was supposed to tell my grandparents, who were watching me, "No, I can't go with you, I'll stay home alone, or you can't go either, because Dad has to take me out!")

He went pale. Then red. Then pale again. He was going to say something, but I didn't let him. 

"That doesn't matter now. I am interested in having an adult relationship with you. I love you and respect you now (I did feel like it at the time, mostly; it felt like the right thing to say at the time) and I'd like to see us interact like the two adults we are." 

He made a feeble attempt at protesting this: "But you'll always be my child. I can't see you as an adult."

It failed. "You'll have to", I replied.

He never mentioned parenting again. Over the time, there were other topics I forbade (whether or not we took the children out for a walk today, what happened to what old blanket in the other apartment, whether or not we're going to install another landline) and he obliged every time. He may sulk a little, but he never mentions it again. And I ascribe it all to this critical first confrontation. And the power of prayer.

Male narcissists and gender

I got an email from my father this morning and am now translating that other narcissist's novel. Some similarities stand out eerily now for the first time.

They gladly talk about the men they know, turning casual acquaintances into good friends, if these are powerful or high-ranking or wealthy or educated or possess whatever quality will make the narcissist look better by association.  

This does not apply to women. The women around them are something like accessories. Objects. Something they possess and dominate, but unworthy of mention, especially in relation to "qualities" they can brag about.

My father wrote about a "friend" - a former landlord they went out on one outing with - a sailor, naval officer, now retired and vice-whatever, who knows everyone and is very respected and well-liked, a very good friend of his, whom they see every time they go to the summer resort where he and his girlfriend are now. The entire email was about this man. There were photos attached, in which two women were also visible, the man's wife and my father's girlfriend. Not to my father, they weren't.

The author describes every casual male acquaintance in detail, listing his excellent qualities, brags about him as a good friend who'd do anything for him, and this goes on for 400+ pages. Somewhere between the lines, you can make out he also has two children with a wife (?), but this is in no way clear. He also mentions a former girlfriend who he physically abused (!), but only as part of a story about how his "good friend" who is the son of a famous politician and a rich and influential man, helped him track her down once. Sick stuff.

My father will not only never love me or see me for who I am. He will also never see me as a potentially respectable human being, simply because I'm a woman. Nothing I accomplish will change that.

His sleazy displays of affection for my husband, though, show that he's intimidated by him. As irony would have it, my husband, a musician, is actually pursuing my father's dream career, which his horrible parents talked him out of, as it didn't sound prestigious enough at the time.