Randi Kreger has brought the concerns of people who have a family member with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to an international forefront through her best-selling books, informative website, and popular online family support community Welcome to Oz.
The Day I Realized My Father Was a Narcissist
Today's guest blog is by Taylor Joy--Randi Kreger
"The moment I walked through the door, everyone swarmed around me, smiling, wanting to know who I was. I'm like a rock star in my industry." He flashed me a grin.
"Hmmm," I said, half-nodding.
"Yeah, the president of the company shook my hand..." I barely listened as he went into painstaking detail about how secretaries and estimators swooned at every word he said, how he wowed them with his detailed knowledge of engineering, and how he was certain they were going to give him the Big Order any time now. He carried on for almost an hour about his great sales skills, his youthful looks, and the great deal he got on a Cadillac Escalade lease.
Normally, I had two ways of coping with these types of one-sided conversations: I either tuned him out or I fed his ego at appropriate points in the conversation. However, this time neither of those coping strategies was helping. Today, I realized that something else was deeply, deeply wrong.
I was lying in a hospital bed with my newborn daughter squirming in my arms. I was speaking with my father, the narcissist, who barely noticed his new granddaughter.
For the past year, I'd been uncovering the painful truth that my mother likely had borderline personality disorder. I'd understood why my father had wanted to escape a relationship with a woman who'd punched him, kicked him, alienated him from his children, falsely accused him of abuse, and (worst of all in his mind) ruined his star-producing career opportunities with her divisiveness and badly-timed tirades.
I'd slowly begun rebuilding a relationship with my father. I had assumed that he was emotionally broken from years of coping with a borderline wife. In every conversation, he nearly wept about the pain he'd suffered in his marriage. But he'd proudly pointed to his career accomplishments; things he'd done in spite of the abuse. His self-esteem must be shattered, I thought. I should build him up as much as I can. During every conversation over for the previous year, I tried to think of positive things I could say about him.
He'd started calling me often.
I loved every minute of it. I thought I was finally getting to know my Daddy! This was the Daddy I'd once known as a little girl---the Daddy who'd showered me with gifts on weekends and disappeared into Sales-land during the week. The Daddy who dressed us all up for church and told the pastor about all my good grades. The Daddy who bragged about me winning the science fair and going to state-level competitions. The Daddy who was glad I was an actress but wanted me to be a Senator. I thought, "When he heals from the divorce, he'll start wanting to know me too. I just have to wait my turn."
I'd heard about narcissism, but believed it couldn't apply to him. He was better than that. I never thought that Daddy had any problems that couldn't be solved by distancing himself from my mother.
It never occurred to me that, as my Father, he should be seeing if I was okay. I was, after all, raised with an abusive mother.
However, as I lay on the hospital bed, holding my day-old baby (listening to my father pontificate about how much he hated Sarah Palin) I allowed myself to look on all of those memories with adult eyes. I realized that when he had showered me with gifts, he always wanted me to say he was "the Best Daddy in the World," even when a gift didn't fit or was age-inappropriate.
When he bragged about us at church, he was nominated for Father of the Year. Twice. When I'd won the science fair, he'd say, "She gets her brains--and her looks--from me." In that moment, I realized that my function, my role, was always to build him up.
I held my baby tighter. I wanted him to leave.
"Oh, I brought a present for Cassidy!" he said.
"Really?" I perked up and wondered if I'd overreacted. Cassidy is my oldest daughter. She was three and LOVED him. She'd only seen him twice, but asked about him all the time. She was convinced that he was the Best Grandfather in the World. "Are you going to see her?" I asked. She was staying with my in-laws while I was recovering from a C-section.
"Oh no," he said, "I thought you could give the present to her. I really don't know your in-laws, and I don't want to interrupt their time together."
"But dad," I said, "You drove seven hours to get here, and you're not even going to see her?"
"Well, I had to make the sales call anyway," he said. "Now, let me show you how this works. It took an hour for me to pick it out--Cassidy will love it...."
He pulled out a cheap, plastic toy piano, and started gushing over how good of a "tone" it had. He talked about it for half an hour. Like he was selling it. My heart sank--my mother-in-law had just given Cassidy a small, toddler-sized piano that she'd saved from when she was a little girl. My father didn't know that, because when he called he never asked about Cassidy. Or me. Or the new baby growing in my belly.
Except, that is, to ask me how I was going to lose the baby weight.
After he finally left, my husband took the baby to the nursery, put his arms around me, and let me cry. I couldn't believe what had happened. But I knew the truth--my father was fundamentally unable to care about anyone but himself. Right then, I committed to being the best parent that I could to my little girls and to protect them from becoming objects to feed his Narcissistic Supply.
And I threw the plastic piano in the trash.blog comments powered by Disqus
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