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.


  1. Woohoo! You have come to a great realization. The first part about feeling guilty, you were well trained to take the blame and feel guilty for what he projected on to you. He was either taught this by his parents or he is the one that is bored and wants off the phone. Glad you sorted out that your husband was not referring to you. I know that is a struggle I experience. If my husband makes a comment I assume he is blaming me. I need to look at the possibility that he is not by asking questions. Another possibility that I have had happen to me is the other person says 'I don't want to bore you' and the expected response is 'Oh no you are fine there is no need for you to hangup.' It becomes a complicated game of statement and counter statement that if you don't play according to unspoken rules you end up being the bad guy. Makes no sense to me but I am kind of WYSWYG (What You See Is What You Get.)

  2. I understand WYSWYG!I was forced to take my father at his word and I didn't read between his lines because, I guess, it was less painful that way, but I became incapable of reading between the lines and playing the game of tact.

  3. interesting little tactic, huh? It's no wonder us CoN's feel "crazy" or "wrong" when they do this! Projection is the narcs middle name! lol

  4. "I thought it had to be my fault."

    Sigh. (Understanding sigh). I've had these conversations with DH before. "It's not your fault, DH, I'm not blaming you."

    You've been trained to feel that way - that everything is, indeed, your fault.

    With DH's NM, we've had an interesting problem where she'll keep him on the phone for too long, past the point where he is no longer interested in what she is saying and even when he's told her he has to go! (A couple examples - on the way to the hospital to have our baby, while we were in the middle of buying a car, and right after he asked her to therapy with us). Each time, it was about HER and she wanted DH to know that without a doubt.

    What is really interesting to me is that those were two completely different tactics that were essentially being used for the same reason: to make you feel guilty, in the wrong, and bad about yourself.

  5. Yep, both engulfing and ignoring narcissists affect their kids negatively. In purely practical terms, though, it's MUCH better for the N in one's life to be like my father than like your MIL! The phone conversations would have lasted up to 10 seconds! ;)


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