Little Old Man With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

My dad is broken.

18 years ago he had a heart episode that left him brain damaged. Not in a way an average person would notice. He just has some short term memory issues and he’s rather frail.

All the way up to that day, my dad was loud and bold and malignant. If he was talking; chances are he was lying. Or he was telling one of his kids how much they suck. Which leaves the only other topic of conversation that my dad was interested in. Him talking about how great he was.

My dad is broken now because of brain damage, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t broken before he got sick. I think my dad was broken from the beginning.

It used to be that I felt guilty about how I felt about my dad. Every once in a while, I could pull up some feelings of real compassion for him. He’s a human being. I feel compassion for the other humans. I don’t LIKE a lot of them, but I do feel compassion for them.

The last time that happened was in 2006. My uncle died, my dad’s older brother. I wasn’t close to my uncle, but I didn’t dislike him NEARLY as much as I disliked my dad and his other brother and sister.

At the funeral, I watched my dad walk down the church aisle with his remaining brother and sister and the three of them holding hands. They are all very small and for a moment, I saw them as children, and I felt this overwhelming burst of compassion for my father. I felt more for him than I had felt in years. Decades even.

We were living out of town at the time and I could only get one day off of work. We had to start driving home as soon as the funeral was over. My dad’s side of the family is rather large. The lobby in the church was practically shoulder to shoulder, but I wanted to say goodbye to my dad before we left. He was standing and speaking with some of his cousins.

I put my hand on his shoulder and told him we were leaving.

He didn’t acknowledge that I had spoken.

He’s fucking old, right? I figured he hadn’t heard me. So I told him again.

He turned and looked at me with this dismissive look. A look that I hadn’t seen in many years but recognized INSTANTLY. “I heard you the first time”.

I got that cold all over feeling. I knew this face. This was the face that said “Why would you even TALK to me? You are not worthy of talking to me. I have a goddamn audience right now…people who I actually WANT to be around”.

I don’t think I said anything else;. I just turned and left.

FUCKING REALLY????  ONE time. I felt compassion for him ONE time in years and he managed to squash it in under 5 minutes.

I was so angry on the ride home. This brain damage didn’t fucking change him at ALL. All it did was make him quiet. He was still the same person; that same malignant father still lived in his old man body.

I didn’t know about narcissism back then. I couldn’t put a name to his behavior or my reaction.

Beginning to understand narcissism has not been easy; it hasn’t been pain free. Understanding narcissism scares the fuck out of me and frustrates me so badly because I am who I am because of narcissism. I started out HATING that knowledge and have come to accept it. Even if I am damaged, I still like who I ended up being. I just need to let go of wondering who I would have been if I had had a father who was capable of caring for me.

Understanding has also allowed me to let go of some of the guilt. I still feel a little guilty that I don’t love my dad. I suspect I always will. Mostly though, I understand why I don’t love him and that is freeing.

I hope that he is happy at least some of the time. I don’t want him to physically suffer in any way.

That’s the best I can do.

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  1. @isojustdid says:

    I’m sitting here bawling because your story mirrors many stories of my own. We think WE are the broken, unworthy ones, but we aren’t…not really. I hate it that you are going through the same journey that I am, but it does help to know you aren’t alone. When I win the lottery, I’m buying an island and you’re invited to sit on the beach, enjoys drinks and figure this shit out with me. It’ll be my own little Island of Misfit Kids.

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      Oh man..I’m dreaming about that fucking island right now.

      And I’m sorry it made you cry! But like you said, it feels comforting to know that I’m not the only one who understands this.

      Reply
  2. Kareña K (@karenak) says:

    My dad wasn’t one of the worst kinds of narcissist, I managed to marry one of those instead. It was hard growing up never feeling good enough but I thought I’d got past all that as an adult. Apparently I hadn’t,falling for the charms of one of the most insidious types of narcs, a gaslighter, liar and perpetual spendthrift who eroded my self worth and effectively cut me off from the rest of the world. He progressed from the long term emotional abuse to actual violence when I finally realised he didn’t care about me at all, drew a line in the sand and stood up for myself. I’m still fighting a bitter divorce and after 6 months of counselling I’m back in control, though I am still prone to anxiety and high levels of stress it isn’t totally debilitating, which it was for most of the last two years. The damage will never be undone, but I have survived it and hopefully I can start to rebuild the shards of my life soon…please soon

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      Sweetness, I hope things turn around for you soon! It got a little dusty in our office when I read your comment.

      I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I think strength comes with experience. You’ve gone through a LOT, I hope you find that you’ve gotten stronger from it.

      Reply
  3. “Even if I am damaged, I still like who I ended up being. I just need to let go of wondering who I would have been if I had had a father who was capable of caring for me.”

    Replace “father” with “mother” and that’s me. Your story about your Dad at his brother’s funeral reminds me of the time I smiled at my mother through her kitchen window (I was standing outside with her husband and my husband grilling some food, and she was in the kitchen) and she looked up me and with a mean face gave me the finger. It took me a looooong time to stop making that mean something.

    I am working towards truly accepting that everything that has happened in my life was supposed to happen exactly the way it did…that it was a *gift* even. Because when I go down the road of “it shouldn’t have happened that way” I torment myself.

    Reply
  4. Ronnie says:

    Change the word Father to Mother and I could have written the last three paragraphs.

    I joke all the time that I’m not sure what you do to be a good mother but I know what you do to be a bad one.

    I remind myself regularly how much one nasty look or harsh word can affect my kids for years to come.

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      Hahaha…I get what you mean about the bad mom thing. I can do that as well.

      And yes, just a look can damage a kid for a long time

      Reply
  5. With him and at least two of his siblings being assholes, I have to wonder what their parents were like and what happened to your dad when he was a kid… often severe neglect and abuse leads to that type of illness. Not that that is any excuse for how he treats you. But I mean he was probably screwed from the beginning. You should be proud of yourself for breaking the cycle and growing up to be a good person in spite of how your dad treated (and treats) you!

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      My grandmother was a horrible HORRIBLE woman. My grandfather was sweet, but he was totally under her control. They were both raging alcoholics and my dad was abused in many ways by his mother. I understand PERFECTLY why he became the man he did. I can even feel bad for him that it was so terrible for him.

      He was still our parent, though. We still needed a father. He just wasn’t able to be one. I guess I could try to forgive him…but I honestly do not know how to even begin that process.

      Reply
  6. Anonymousy says:

    Wow, I’ve got so many stories like this with my Dad. This just reminded me of the time I left a party at his house, and because I’d apparently done something he didn’t approve of, he barely said goodbye. This was about 8 years ago (I’m almost 31 now)..and it was the beginning of a big realization for me.

    It occurred to me that he just doesn’t think of me as a real person and doesn’t really know how to love anyone. That was really upsetting, but also kind of freeing, as you said. It meant it wasn’t my fault and that I could stop trying so hard to get his approval. And it meant I could start being honest about how I felt. I tolerate him. That is all.

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      I am so glad you figured that out at a young age! That is wonderful! I’m also very sorry you’ve suffered..it sucks ass.

      Reply
  7. Such a sad post. So well written. I think a lot of parents from that era tended to treat their kids as a piece of property not a real person. Lucky we can choose our friends.

    Reply
  8. Such a sad story. Probably because so many of us can relate. Our parents aren’t perfect. Just as we aren’t perfect parents. But it’s good to recognize that you are you and you don’t have to love anyone just because they’re you’re family. Hugs 🙂

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      No..I am far from being a perfect parent. But I do love my children and I value them. I never want them to feel unwanted.

      Reply
  9. Robyn says:

    I have this theory that people don’t really change past a certain age. They just concentrate. Like raisins. If you were sweet all along, you get a bit sweeter. And if you were sour . . .

    I am glad that you are at a space where you wish him to be happy and without pain. That’s a little further than I have managed to travel.

    Reply
    • RageRuth says:

      good theory!

      It’s not that I don’t feel resentment or anger, it’s just that he’s so quiet and frail. It hardly seems worth the debilitating anger that I felt toward him for YEARS.

      It occurred to me that he could die and not a single person on the planet would care. At least not very much. I find that incredible sad. It doesn’t make me love him..but I do hope that he’s at least comfortable.

      Reply
  10. Emma says:

    I’ve only started to realise that my father is a narcissist.
    It scares me because even writing the way that I am I feel I am talking about myself too much.
    My nan died a couple of days ago ( my mums mother ) and his narcissism has never been more apparent to me.
    Taking pleasure and thriving on drama and negativity, is just foreign to me, when I was younger I saw it as my dad always being there in the bad times now I see it differently, it was my boyfriend who gingerly mentioned to me about the narcissism and when I looked it up its like every thing that has been written is my dads life story.
    I remember when I was at school at an early age I showed him a picture I had done that I was proud of and he said its good but remember there’s always someone better then you out there, at the time I was upset but brushed it off as he just wants me to try harder.
    I need to help my mum and I currently live at home, I don’t want my mothers and his relationship or mine and his relationship to turn bitter and sour.
    There have been happy times I’m sure there has, but I worry about the funeral as my dad walks with a stick now and I don’t want him to turn it into a show about him.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      First of all, you SHOULD talk about yourself. We deserve to talk about ourselves! I’m so sorry you’ve got to deal with that, but I am finding that it is truly better to know, even if it is very uncomfortable or painful. I suggest to just keep learning all you can and if you have access to therapy, go and just talk to someone about it a few times and see if it helps. Personally, I’m finding it helpful and actually caught myself saying nice to myself this morning.

      I hope your dad doesn’t make the funeral all about him, but he probably will try. That’s what they do. Assholes.

      Reply
  11. physicist says:

    I hope that my kids will let go of the guilt feeling
    I have ‘chosen’ that person to be my husband… That is in fact not true I was lead into marriage and was too weak to run away

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      I’m so sorry. I feel bad for you. I hope they let go of the guilt as well, it will gain them nothing. Please don’t view yourself as weak, we all are doing the best we can do and if you’ve been able to survive in that type of relationship, I don’t see how you could be weak. I hope the very best for you.

      Reply

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