Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Public Pride and Secret Shame

I was his public pride. My existence was proof of his fertility, my achievements were proof of his natural talents, and his public protestations of fatherly devotion were proof of his love for his offspring.

On the other hand, my very existence was a daily reminder for him of his secret shame, his infertility. I must have been like a slap in the face, just by being me, so different from him and his family of origin.

(I've just spent an hour going through his old photos - incidentally, I'm the one keeping them, he's not really interested in anything involving his narcissistic family of origin, all dead now - photos of him as a baby, toddler, young man, of his sister, father, mother, grandparents, great-uncles and others. I look nothing like any of them. As do my children, who noticeably take after myself, my mother's family, and my husband and his ancestors.)

He must have had a deep ambiguity towards me from the very start and I must have internalized it. On the one hand, he overdid the "devoted father" thing. He probably felt it was necessary to keep others from suspecting anything - but most people I know just found it weird and over the top. On the other hand, I've always felt a dark undercurrent of danger emanating from him, telling me not only "you should be as I want you to be" but also "you shouldn't be."

I can't begin to imagine what raising a donor-conceived child does to a narcissist. And to that child. There's a whole chapter on cloning as the most suitable reproduction of mini-mes that narcissistic parents so desire in Clone being: exploring the psychological and social dimensions by Stephen E. Levick. My father was the golden child because he looked more like his mother and was the more "handsome" of the two, according to her. My aunt was scapegoated for looking like her father and thus not being as beautiful as her mother.

Then, on the other hand, if it is indeed true (and I'm almost positive it is), then I sort of feel for him. And somehow feel that, given the situation, he did relatively well. He could have been much worse.

Why did they never tell me? My mother was once going to tell me something "when I turn 18" but then claimed she didn't remember what it was when I asked her about it on my 18th birthday.

Did he want to protect me from knowing I'm not his, poor me? Or protect himself from people knowing about his infertility? Or a mixture of all that?


  1. Hi Pronoia
    Admittedly while not all donor offspring have a narcissistic non-biological father, the questions you raise at the end are pretty much the same for nearly every other donor conceived offspring I know. Thankyou for sharing.

  2. Hi, Damian! I'm actually a lurker on your blogs, but didn't want to voice any of this in the donor-conceived world officially until I'm 100% sure that this is true.

  3. No worries and nice to meet you. I was talking to some others about this and donors. Typically we have a few classes of donors; altruistic, those that do it for the money, and those that do it to spread their genes. I would suspect that perhaps some of the latter might fall into the narcissistic category.

  4. i'm not sure about what you mean by what having a donor-conceived child means did to your dad. in my opinion, he was crazy before he had you and was always crazy. i'm not saying he wasn't like, i don't know, offended by the fact that you weren't his (like that even matters) but i'm still pretty sure he would have hated you regardless. i don't think it's your 'not-his-ness' that incites such hate in him. it's your humanity. narcissists are too crazy to be complicated. they hate it when you're scared, they hate it when you're..i mean, they just hate you. you can't ever be yourself around a narc.
    anyways, how would having a donor-conceived child do anything to him when it was HIS choice? you were there by HIS choice. biology doesn't matter. do cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends love you less because you are not related or less related? no. i'm not saying having fertility problems wouldn't be a painful thing to deal with if i suddenly heard i was infertile...but that would be my problem. and if your parent was infertile, you, as a adoptee, would be living proof that that didn't matter because they found a way to allay that situation. they found a child and raised it as their own and loved you. their love would not be any less and i am pretty sure love has nothing to do with biology.
    also, i don't understand what you feel for him for. are you alluding to some pain and suffering? narcissists don't suffer. that's what makes them inhuman. it's our belief that they suffer that causes us to feel guilty and sorry for them in situations where we have done nothing wrong and in fact they've damaged us. we try to belief oh, they have suffered so much, there must be some secret internal pain, blah blah blah. truth is, we have NEVER seen any proof of this. they don't suffer. they INFLICT suffering. you have no reason to feel for your father. you have not done a thing wrong. your father doesn't deserve any sympathy or understanding.

    and yeah, you must know that i don't think he has done relatively well. are you kidding me? it's like if i say, "oh, i didn't get hit by lightning yesterday so i'm happy." your father did a horrible job. in fact, i don't think there is much room for getting worse. your father could have done a HELL of a lot better of a job. i think there was a LOT more room for improvement than there was for any worsening, like miles of sky versus maybe a milimeter. relative to WHAT, pa? he could have done all kinds of things, good or bad or random. but he didn't do any of those. he did what he did. and that's what counts.
    and in my opinion, he was a horrible gutless freak deserving absolutely NO goodwill.

    I'm not saying this idea/development isn't important. it's important to you, obviously, to know the truth and what you really think. it just doesn't explain his behavior.

  5. (okay, sorry this is so long. i had to split it into two.)

    and finally, why he didn't tell you...well it definitely wasnt to protect you! *snort* your father couldn't give a shit about protecting you! to protect himself...from pain he doesn't even feel. my only guess is it's 'cause he's crazy. narcissists don't think like normal people. whatever it was, he never for a second thought about how telling or not telling you would affect you. their reasoning is beyond our reach. that is for absolutely sure. my guess is that it isn't important to him. i bet if somehow it came out into the open, he would probably wave his hand and say it doesn't matter, like, "oh, that old thing?" that is how narcs treat everything from the past. NOTHING is important to them.
    so in conclusion, whatever the reason was, it had NOTHING to do with you. he probably didn't even think about it. he NEVER looked out for you, he NEVER cared about you, and your ties to him, whether biological or not, didn't matter. he NEVER knew you, he couldn't know you to save his life, whether you're his biological daughter or adopted daughter or his cousin. you really can let him go and focus on your self, the self that he never saw, addressed, or validated.

  6. Yes, if it isn't one thing it's another.

    A mirror version of your situation is really pretty similar in outcome: a parent who says, "You resemble me, so your genetic makeup and experiences must be the same as mine. As my cloned self, you are my second chance to get it right. Therefore I will give you the advantages I never had, not because you deserve them -- certainly not -- but because I can best enjoy them through you. Therefore I will punish you for failing to resemble me and especially for not using my gifts to you as I wish."

    Either way, it's "How dare you be something other than me?"

    - GKA

  7. The secretive nature of your conception is a big issue for me. The fact that your parents needed to use assisted-reproduction is not shameful, but they seem to act like it is. Why the secrets? Sometimes we keep them to avoid hurting someone, but I doubt that was their motivation. We mainly keep them because we feel shame, and we can't bear letting anyone else know, whether it's about something we did, knew, felt, etc. I can understand not telling a child that someone donated DNA to make them--because they're too young to understand, but an 8-year-old can grasp it if they have a general idea of where babies come from. Even if they underestimated you and waited a few years, then, OK. But to backtrack, as your mother did, when you turned 18? Protecting your dad's shame. So he's not the sperm-king of the world. In his N mind it means he's not the grandiose person he must be to justify his existence. Look at Seal, Heidi Klum's husband. He met her when she was newly pregnant with their oldest child. You can tell that half of their daughter's genetics come from a different man from her father, but she has always been Seal's little girl. There would be nothing wrong with your dad having a pang of sadness here and there about you not having his eyes or his dimples, but a decent father would want you to know you were HIS regardless of all of that. I do think that even if you were genetically his, he would have found a reason to treat you like you just weren't enough. Don't give him the excuse (even in your own head) that it was OK to be less than good to you because you weren't technically his. And the fact that he wasn't as awful to you as other parents have been to children doesn't mean your pain of having an N parent is any less real or palpable.


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