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.