Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bad daughter

My father fell down and broke a rib a couple of days ago. He's OK, was told to rest and take pain medication and all would be fine. He calls once a day and says briefly he's in pain because he's not taking the medication and he doesn't go out and his GF does all the shopping. I say stuff like "How are you? Hope you get well soon. Take that pain medication!"

I'm sure I should be feeling and doing something else. My MIL told me today we should go visit him and bring him something. She's right. That's the decent thing to do. It had just never even occurred to me.

There's something horrifying about that.

If it was someone else, it would have occurred to me.

I don't know if he wants us there. Even in health, we've only visited them at their place two or three times in the 6+ years we've been married and they've been living there together.

And he's the "strong, silent type" narcissist who needs no one and takes help from no one. If I offer to visit and bring him anything, he'll probably decline.

But, on the other hand, his insistence on not taking medication and being in pain and repeating he's not going out might be a message that he'd at least like to be offered help - an echo of his own narcissistic mother's constant manipulations in which she used her illnesses to enslave her children.

My father, to his credit, has always done the exact opposite - the stoic "I can handle it and don't need you or anyone, you just go on with your life" - which always made me feel like a cold-hearted bitch, but I actually had little option except to take him at his word.

So, we decided to at least offer to go see him tomorrow. I'm disturbed that it hadn't even occurred to me. It should have. He's a human being of my acquaintance, after all. I'm disturbed that I'm apparently that kind of person.

I can't really bring myself to be disturbed about being a bad daughter. That part of the equation sounds kind of weird.


  1. I don't think you are "that kind of person". If it were someone else, a friend, you'd be there for them, right? But this is your Nfather, with whom you have A LOT of bad history. It's difficult to be around him, so you stay away. Makes sense.

    1. I guess there's that - he's no fun to be around, so it doesn't occur to me to schedule a meeting with him unless it is somehow necessary. I've only rarely seen him in the past several months, and this works well.

      But there's less empathy for him than for anyone else in the world, it seems. And this is not recent - it's been like this for a long time. I just don't feel for him. Maybe it's something protective.

  2. Oh, come on. If he's calling you about it once a day, he's working you, or trying to.

    Not saying you shouldn't respond at all, just, that's what he's doing, isn't he?

    You know how many manipulative moms it takes to change a lightbulb: "Oh, don't worry about me, I'll just sit here in the dark..."

    - GKA

    1. Wow, yes, I guess so. I guess he'd been doing that stuff throughout my life. But it never worked - he used his mother's tactics without previously having conditioned me in that way - he conditioned me to fear him, not pity him or feel for him. So I don't feel for him. Ever. This elicits nothing. I've always taken him at his word when he said "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine." I've always just let him be.

      But there seems to be a specific extra layer of callousness added to my relationship with him - one that doesn't exist in my dealings with other people. As I said, it would have occurred to me to visit a friend in these circumstances and offer help. For him, I've never felt there might be a need.

      This is intriguing.

  3. ah....the fact "it hadn't even occurred" to you is telling you something respectfully that's really, really important IMO. Not just about you, but about him and how you really feel about this relationship.

    Just sayin'. TW

    1. I think I know how I feel about the "relationship" - there isn't one and I have felt very little towards him for years. There's no love lost there. There's nothing there. Just a polite charade. But I already knew that. Was there something else that I'm being told here, do you think?

  4. It's okay to hate or not have any feelings for your dad. I guess it could mean two things, you never liked him and never will (which is a good thing because your dad is an asshole and a half) or maybe there a few more feelings under the coldness like anger and fear or hope or anything, that are a little too scary to exist right now, to have any feelings at all in the face of him.
    You are not a cold person or some sort of alien. Why does it matter that certain things didn't occur to you? Or I mean, why does it matter in a bad way? Does your MIL even know what is going on or is she the clueless type? If it was me, I think she's in the wrong. I wouldn't want you visiting him at all. He deserves nothing from you and only hurts you. Why on earth would I want you to see him.

    If you are that kind of person, that kind of person is a good thing. Maybe you are that kind of person.

    Your dad's not a strong silent type. He's a psychopathic type. There's nothing there. If you think he's hiding some sort of pain or vulnerability or weakness under his 'strong silentness', he's not. His whole act is all there is.

    I think you're getting there.

    Btw, I hate your dad.

    1. Thank you, Lisa.

      The "strong silent" thing is how he'd like to be seen. So he never accepts any help at all.

      He was an abused and coddled golden child of malignant narcissists. So there is pain under there for sure. He just doesn't quite know what and where it is.

  5. My counselor would teach me ways to interact with people. Then he would remind me that it would work with anyone accept my mother. I found that my not seeing her when she was sick or other occasions mandated by society was a form of self protection. Initial contact may be ok but rapidly things would deteriorate to a place I find I can't cope. The cliche give them an inch and the take a mile stands true. (Metric cliche would be give them a centimeter and the will take a kilometer.)

    1. That makes so much sense! Thank you! Human ways of interacting with human people don't apply here. Which is probably why I've learned not to have human reactions to him at all.

      Which doesn't mean I can't do a human thing now and see how it goes.

      My father will probably decline a visit anyway.

  6. Maybe the "Polite Charade" is getting old for you? Or perhaps the safety of anticipating the above response makes it a matter of stepping-through-the-steps so the real "threat" is defused before you even make the offer-ie, he'll likely turn it down in any event.

    Let's say he DOES say, "OK." What do you think would come out of a visit with him for you? Please don't feel a need to respond-that's just a personal thought for you and you only!

  7. Maybe the polite charade IS getting old and I'm ready to thaw my icy armor and tentatively treat him as a human being? And/or uncover/unleash the deeper emotions I have towards him? Could be.

    I asked if he needed anything. As predicted, he said no.

    Had he agreed to a visit? Nothing would come out of it. We'd chat emptily about nothing with him and his girlfriend for a short while. Then we'd go home.

    But I'd have behaved in a relatively human way.

  8. I think you're unfairly hard on your self. See who you want to see when you want to see them. That's it. Love your writings. Got a NM. and N ex-wife.


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