Sunday, January 31, 2010

Really Mean Old Parents

Hah! I called that one!

Recently, a neighbor complained that the elderly man who lives next door has horrible, selfish adult children who've abandoned him in his time of need and rarely visited.

The old guy is a character and seems nice enough, but then again, so did my narcissistic father who turned me into his emotional caretaker and sucked me dry. I know for a fact that some neighbors and family members called me a horrible, selfish, ingrate because I rarely visited after I left home.

"Who knows?" I told my neighbor. "Bob (named changed) might be an okay guy, but he might be a nasty, abusive parent. There may be a good reason his kids don't visit. Or you may be right. They could be selfish pigs." My neighbor conceded one never does know what goes on behind closed doors.

Well, the door opened wide enough for me to get a peek inside and it wasn't pretty, folks.

The maligned horrible, selfish adult daughter had taken her father out in her car and when I was walking by, dog in tow, I heard her explain - nicely - that she needed to get going because she'd left her dog inside all day and she needed to let him out and go potty.

Bob responded by saying, "I don't give a shit! What do I care? Get the hell out of here?" (This shouted in the ugliest possible tone of voice, complete with flailing arms and twisted facial expression)

"But Dad!" the woman protested.

"I said I don't give a shit about you or your goddamned dog. Just leave, dammit!"

I fled the scene, grateful the old bastard wasn't my father. Now I'm not saying the old coot was a narcissist. Maybe he was just a Difficult Old Fucker. And no, the man does not have dementia. By all accounts, he's sharp as a tack. Some neighbors think he's funny. Maybe he's funny around non-relatives. To his daughter, who came to help him, he was a Really Big Douche Bag.

And you know what I'm betting? He was always like that to his kids, hence the lack of visits.

In witnessing that one minute exchange, I imagined a lifetime of emotional abuse endured by this woman who finally solved her problem by limiting contact. Because of her decision, she may also come in for public scoldings by scandalized neighbors or family members who know nothing of her situation and don't care to, more concerned about voicing their indignation.

Adult children with really awful aging parents who need them after abusing them have few choices, especially if there aren't financial resources to throw at the problem.

The best choice (in my mind): OUTSOURCE...limit contact...make sure they are cared for but don't do it yourself.

If that option is not available, you have my complete and utter sympathy. Really. It's awful to finally come to terms with the kind of parent you have, just in time for said parent to begin declining...further requiring your time and energy. Oh, the tragedy.

I can only imagine the state of mind the poor woman left in as she drove away from her father's house.

28 comments:

Mulderfan said...

I used to try to be the dutiful daughter and would spend the one hour drive home crying, shaking and sometimes pulling over to be sick. At ages 87 & 90 my narcissistic parents just kept getting worse with the verbal/emotional abuse escalating with ever visit. I am presently not in contact because they didn't like it when I asked them to stop the name calling and treat me with respect!
I personally am to the point where I don't care what others think...they haven't walked in my shoes!

Nina said...

Mulderfan...

Oh, how I've come to loathe the term dutiful daughter! While it benefits the parent(s), the risk is quite high to the daughter...not unlike a Tour of Duty in Afghanistan, with the parent acting as the IED. We also suffer our own form of PTSD...no kidding.

I'm sure choosing the option of no contact was not easy, especially considering their advanced age. So they didn't like it when you asked to be treated nicely? Not surprised. Whenever I asked my father not to do something (which was rare)...he immediately turned the tables on me and said it was my fault that I was too sensitive and when that failed, he got all hangdog and began moaning how he could never do anything right or he was all alone in the world.

And no...outsiders have no idea of what you've had to deal with!

Sometimes, I felt like walking around with a sign that read, "Lest you dare judge"

Mulderfan said...

Wow! How did my dad's clone in up in California? I'm too sensitive, I don't understand every family has arguments, I'm affecting their health, blah, blah, blah... What a treat to find someone who HAS walked in my shoes!

Jeff said...

Hi Nina

I've just discovered your blog. As I read it, I'm beginning to credit the possibility that my mother had a strong narcissistic side to her (up to now I've considered her behaviour to be consistent with OCPD). I recognise in this post the concern about how cutting off from a parent (which I eventually did) could turn a PDer into a PR campaign against you. I wondered if this has been something that has happened to you?

Nina said...

Hi Jeff...

Just want to make sure I understand...you mean the parent would begin a PR campaign against the adult child who detached?

If so, that really didn't happen to me as while I emotionally detached and made myself much less available to my father..no longer at his beck and call...I did not sever contact as I am an old child and I was his power of attorney and therefore responsible for managing his care the rest of his life.

In the past, my father has told some lies about me - namely that he'd paid for my college education and depleted his retirement savings - which was shocking. My parents had refused to help w/even a $50 loan and family members thought I was a horrible, terrible person.

However, some readers have shared their experience of having their narcissistic parent turn against them...big time...after they sever contact.

Suffering through this, I believe, is especially difficult for adult children of such parents because we tend to be Major People Pleasers, we seek approval from outsiders. That said, the only thing one can do is stick to the path that is best and healthiest for YOU...and block out what other people say. Rarely do outsiders care all that much...at least in my experience with vocal family members who wanted ME to care for my father instead of placing him in a facility...my family never bothered to call or visit my father ONCE after I'd placed him. They seemed to like the drama and not him at all!

Mulderfan said...

Hi, Jeff
At one point, 20 years ago, when my father invented a horrible story about my husband, I had the audacity to contradict him and walk out when he started using foul language in front of my little girl. Following that incident I was basically disowned until they needed me during a family crisis two and a half years later. My parents spread the lie to the rest of my family and everyone cut me out of their lives. My dad's twin snuck over to see me about six months into this drama and apologized, but said I had to keep his secret because he was afraid of my dad...my uncle was 70 at the time!
So yes, I've been the object of a "PR campaign" but, like me, none of the relatives involved are presently having anything to do with my parents.
"What goes around, comes around."

Jeff said...

Nina

Yes, that's what I mean. I think I've wrongly picked up on:

'Unfortunately, the only way to manage the narcissistic parent or grandparent is to haul out the bolt cutters and cut the chain and say, "bye-bye!"'

Cutting off seems a recurrent and major topic for those exposed to PDers, but yes, I've read some more of your background now. I will continue to catch up on your blog (as I have come to with forums), so being a return visitor, I shall say hi for now! I seem to be reading more and more on PD, and there (at least, currently) doesn't seem to be a great deal of blogs like yours out there. Your efforts to rationalise such emotionally charged experiences are really appreciated. It's taken me years to face finding out more on PDs, which I feel inevitably compelled to (and I appreciate others may not). I wish I'd known what I know now many years ago. And I wish there were more and better information out there - you're providing an important plug in a huge gap. Your term 'outsiders' gives me an ominous feeling about how private and hidden all this is.

Mulderfan:

Sounds dreadful. My goodness - the power and energy that must need to be invested in all that muckspreading. Why did your family swallow it all? Or was it about taking a side out of fear? Has there been any attempt to regroup now they're out of contact with your father? Have you recorded this episode on your blog?

Mulderfan said...

Jeff, If there's one thing I've learned about narcissists, it's that they are master manipulators and can be, as is the case with my father, bullies. My family never talked about "unpleasantness" so after I returned to my assigned role the incident was never mentioned again. Just recently, my younger brother, who in therapy and struggling to cope with our parents, apologized for his part in what happened all those years ago.
Like you I regret not having the information earlier but am thankful for the support I have now.
Yes, I have detailed some incidents in my blog, including this one.
I also write about how I am finally breaking free at age 64!
Remember the old saying, "Knowledge is power." Keep reading and researching, don't be afraid to seek help and remember you are not the one who is flawed.

Susie said...

My parents always joke that it is "the responsibility of the youngest daughter to care for them" [aging parents] when they can no longer care for themselves. I wonder if it is REALLY a joke to them? It doesn't seem like it sometimes...
If not, I plan on severing ties with them as soon as I am able to! I am NOT getting stuck with them in any capacity; even if they are homeless I don't think I would risk putting myself in danger like that.
-Susie

Nina said...

Susie,

If it's just you and your brother..generally speaking in society...it's assumed it's the daughter who will do the duties...even if the son reaped all the benefits, as in the case of your family. (Although not always)

Luckily, you're ahead of the game and can see what looms ahead and do whatever you think you need to do to protect your sanity!

haz said...

hey nina and all i definatly have narcisstic emotionally abusive parents, im 27 and am temporarily living at home with them until i wait to start a new job, when i do i will permantly cut contact with my father, its killing me being near him, i have so much anger towards him its hurting me not to express it.

Anonymous said...

It's so good to know I'm not alone! My ill 84-year old father takes PLEASURE in trying to make me feel like a bad daughter every Saturday when I call him at 6 am (8 am his time). He's always been narcissistic, sexist and controlling, but now he doesn't even try to hide it. My brother has made it his life's work to reinforce the Bad Daughter/Good Son scenario to my father. My family's PR campaign is in full force to denigrate me at every opportunity. My plan is to not be a victim for these bullies to abuse, but to keep calm and cool and give them no information about my life for them to exploit (which will surely frustrate them (one for my team!). I don't want to hurt my father by being right, so I'll take the bullets as long as he's alive. After that, I plan a total disconnect.

mulderfan said...

Anonymous, I have resumed LC with my Nparents after my Nfather contacted me because my NM has had a series of illness (all minor). I have made a point of not resuming a regular phone call routine. Now I call only when I feel strong enough to deal with their BS (in other words ignore it!). They no longer expect my Sunday evening call and that has, for some reason, made them a bit more reasonable to deal with. It puts me in control and makes me feel better!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to have found this site as I have been going out of my mind with a troublesome parent. I fit into the dutiful daughter category who mother hates. My brother is wonderful of course and she has given him large amounts of cash. Once he got his hands on the money he moved to Australia. My mother gives out the sweet little old lady routine but has been cruel to me all my life. I have now taken the decision to cut her off completely although I haven't told her this. I hope I have the courage as she is making me very ill. Any advice on how to kick the old bag out of my life would be most appreciated.

Anonymous said...

My mom and I were never close as she is emotionally unavailable to me all of my life. Added to that were the constant criticisms and put downs. Even with that, when she became ill I took her out of a horrendous situation and got her the best medical care. Now she is in much better health but still uncaring and miserable. Interestingly enough, when she talks to her friends or other relatives, she is angel.

I've done my job; making sure she is safe, and caring for her health. My job is not to try to make her into a happy person. She is selfish and miserable and I am ready to get the bolt cutters and cut the ties to a once a week call. I'm done with the lifelong neglect and abuse.

Anonymous said...

I cut my abusive Nparents off last November (It's now almost May) and I don't miss them one iota. ALl I "miss" is the shattered dream of what I HOPED they'd be which was never ever going to become a reality. I have 3 older brothers. Only 1 talks to me. The other 2 golden children (read:wimps) decided to tow the party line and ditch me.I feel a sense of peace for the first time in my life. A huge weight taken off my shoulders and I am feeling a higher self esteem and greater capacity to view exactly what I endured in a clearer light; cementing the decision in my mind and heart to REMAIN absolutely NO contact basically forever.Sure, when they die,, I'm gonna be all bummed out but not for missing THEM but for missing what I thought and hoped and wished they'd be: parents who loved and accepted me for who and what I am: a painter. Parents who constantly criticize and obligatory family visits fueled NOT by 'wanting' to see them but out of GUILT and the dreading as day approaches: I will NOT miss one bit. I miss the dream. The false hope. I may not have the parents and 2 brothers I'd dreamed of but one thing I CAN control is being a good person to ME; taking care of ME and putting me 1st for a change. It feels good. Give it time. on't give in too fast with breaking NC because it takes time and peace does ensue. And remember: people,generally, do not change. Their nastiness came about in a well-rehearse insidious onset.It's ingrained and YOU are the receiver. That's the role NP have assigned for you.Go back and you'll be resuming tat role of scapegoat. For me: NEVER again. Ever.It's over.They're dead to me.I can't even say the word Mother without feeling resentment.But I can say the word "FREEDOM" and know what that feels like. It feels good.

mfp said...

I am late to this post, but wanted to thank you for writing about this particular topic. My dad and mil are both narcissists. They suck the joy out of everything, the family members all know this, although some are in denial and would never verbally admit it. As they get older, needier AND meaner, I loathe thinking about what will happen when they get to the point where they cannot take care of themselves. I think about this often, feel badly about it, that from the outside, I look like a bad daughter, since I do not appear to have a close relationship with these master manipulators (who strangers consider, "nice" ppl). I always end up reminding myself that ppl don't know what I have been through, how hateful these family members are to their own. That they have played a large role in why they are now in such a lonely situation. Whenever I see an elderly person who is alone, I often wonder to myself, did their adult children abandon them, and if so, for what kind of reason. Ppl with NPD are very good at hiding their true colors when they want to, only those closest to them know the truth.

mulderfan said...

mfp...you just described my life! The "meanies" are 90 and 93 this year.

I've had two emails from retirement home personnel telling me what a joy they are! I'm sure they think I'm a monster because I haven't been to see my NPs since they moved there, well over a year ago... thankfully, I no longer give a damn about the judgement of others!

Anonymous said...

I have a 84 yr old father.
He never came to a school play, parent-teacher conference, church activities, and didn't even bother to come to my high school reunion. He didn't bother to come see his grand children when they were born. He did have time for his partying, friends, going out, hunting, fishing, doing what he wanted to do. I am now almost 60 yrs old. I work full time and have medical disabilities. Other than trouble with walking, he is very healthy and takes no medications *he uses a walker*. I'm facing heart surgery in a few days. Today my father called; husband explained I am tired and am napping. He calls back in 2 hours "you are still in bed?". Because I had to leave work, I was faint, my heart makes me tired. He skips right over that fact that surgery is in a few days to remind me that he has several home repairs that I have not yet fixed for him. I am barely awake, incoherent from fatigue, but he talked/rambled for 30 minutes. Normal for him, he seldom lets anyone else talk anyway, he just needs an audience. I take care of his home, laundry, bills, food, cleaning, errands, work a 40 hour week, have my own home. Nothing matters but what he wants, with no waiting. I tried several times to tell him I am facing surgery in a few days, he doesn't even HEAR me, he instead changes the conversation to whatever is on his mind, upcoming vacation, whatever that will require ME to take care of. There is no one else to handle his affairs. He has alienated almost every other relative; they try to avoid him. This isn't aging, he has always been this way, it has just accelearated the past few years. He is well-off financially; yet doesn't understand that I have to budget vacation time with him for my hotel rooms and expenses. I have told him outright "I can't afford the trip" yet he continues on with making plans, heedless of my financial restrictions.If he wants it to happen, then I must manage to make it happen because his wants come first. I love him, he is my father, but he is exhausting me to the point of collapse. He refuses any mention of paid help or outside help, "we don't need anyone else to handle this or that". If you do not answer the phone every time he calls, he calls back every 15 minutes with his messages becoming more and more abrupt and questioning why I am not immediately available to take his call. He belongs to a church and has good friends, so he isn't a shut-in with no one else to entertain him. Whatever is going on, if it is unpleasant or will inconvenience him,then he skips right over it to bring the conversation back to HIM. At his age, he deserves every bit of happiness and good things in the world; he has earned that right. But his lack of consideration for me just drains my soul.

Anonymous said...

It is so unfair and sad that people criticize us for not being in contact with our parents, and never stop to think that maybe we have a good reason for staying away.
But who cares what stupid people like that think? I am certainly not going to waste any more of my time and energy on my parents. They have been consistently horrible towards me, and have always taken advantage of any opportunity to make me feel bad.
When they get old and frail, they are on their own. When I was young and vulnerable, they completely abused the power they had over me. Maybe sometime they will become vulnerable themselves. If so, they will be barking up the wrong tree if they ask me for help. My sister who prefers to remain in denial can have the "fun" of taking care of them. If she chooses not to, they are SOL.

Lynn from Pittsburgh said...

Hi,wow..so nice to see there are other grown adults that are going through the same things as me.My parents are in thier late seventies and are so so mean to me..they have six kids,three they adore,one they kinda like because she lives a wonderful and wealthy life and two of the children,my brother and my self they really hate. My brother and I are good people ..why we are the chosen one makes no sense. I have always been respectful though , they have never ever been a part of my life or showed any interest in me in any way,now they are hateful and abusive,I have thrown in the towel.iI am so done with them. It hurts a lot.i have three grown children and three young grandsons that are the biggest joy and love them more than anything in this world, they are my everything. Everything I do is with and for them so I will never understand how my parents have always cared so little about me since I was born. Never ever being a patt of my life or wanting me to be happy. The biggest joke is my mother claims to be this wonderful Christian lady who help and is kind to every stranger she meets.
How do I move beyond this pain?

Anonymous said...

"How do I move beyond this pain"
I wish I had the answer to this. I don't think the pain ever leaves but as time goes on, for me personaly, it doesn't sting like it use to.

My whole foo are narcs and a family member contacted me through someone else to tell me that one of my narc parents is ill. My thought was why would they want me to know since they don't give a damn about me and have nothing good to say about me anyway.

So of course I haven't responded nor will I unless they put me in a corner to were I feel like I have to respond. I can hear the foo saying to others and each other how "cold" Iam to not contact my nparent. My nparent has had plenty of time to call me and apologize before they got ill but has chosen not to. But of course, I'm the B**** because I couldn't deal with their ill treatment of me anymore and went nc with all of them. They are all so twisted mentally.

Anonymous said...

If I got started on my narsey parents you just would not believe that I associate with them.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I will share! My father is 82 but tells everyone he meets he is 92. He gets taken advantage a lot from people who borrow or steal money from him. He almost loves it when they rob him so, he can chase them down and have them put in jail. He spends lots of money on filling buildings he owns with junk (outdated computers, comic books, old barbies, used shoes and ect.) It just all sits there for years unless he has someone move his stuff from building to building in other cities because, he may open a restaurant or store or something. He ants to be noticed by all women and usually gets hugs from them. When he has been ill I have taken him in and when home health care came he loved the young girls who stayed 30 minutes and wanted me to buy gifts for them and cook them steaks. I work for months around the clock to help him live and I get no thanks. Although, he is divorced from my mother for 32 years he still is judging her. She was a saint to stay with him. He had girlfriend after girlfriend when married to her and after her. He judges everyone's religion and speaks harshly of them and how perfect his church is. Lots of spiritual abuse going on with him. When with him he judges everyone he knows then tells you what a great christian he is. He tells me how screwed up I am if I tell him not to criticize others beliefs. He plays the t.v. as loud as it can go and will not face that he has a hearing problem. Blows his nose every 5 seconds and wads up the kleenex and stuffs in the couch or guest bedroom bed. Farts and burps openly and if you suggest that he goes to the bathroom he gets mad. Talks nonstop about bad things that have happened to him the past 50 years. That is my age so, he is unaware that I may have had any problems ever. Sees me as my mom or other sibling and want to correct me about their so called faults. Now, my mother wants me to buy her all kinds of clothes and trinkets every time that I see her. I see her often and she is 81. she begs for stuff in stores and will cry in the store if I limit her to just a few things. She wants the most expensive of clothing, bedspreads, purses, rugs...I explain my debt and she still asks for things. I suggest to pay for medicine or food and important things but, she never needs help with that. I have actually just overcome that problem with her this past year. I had to start saying no. I went through hell with her...mostly feeling guilty and her bad mouthing me but, I got through it. She now limits what she asks for. She got married and that helped my life too. Now, my dad gets sick every few months and I get him through it but, I am realizing that my health cannot take his disrespect so, I am going to let him stay in a rehab part of the hospital next time. I have 3 other siblings that will not take him in. I could go on...but, if I could say anything to my friends in need "like not be burdened with what is not normal and what you cannot do or handle." Ask God to remove the guilt because, he knows that you have tried your best and have been unappreciated."

Anonymous said...

This man was truly a Malignant Narcissist. Years ago, I worked in a nursing home and there were a few elderly residents who rarely or never received any visits from their adult children. I found this very strange - even sad. That is, until I started hearing from these children, one-by-one. "My father raped me when I was a child while my mother turned the other cheek." "My parents abused me physically, psychologically and emotionally all of my life." Etc., etc. I then got it. But ironically, at the time I was in my early 20s and didn't even realize just how much I had been abused by my own Narcissistic parents. It took me another 25 years to FINALLY come to terms with all of their abusive treatment towards me since the day I was born - and as the family scapegoat, I honestly cannot tell you how I managed to escape this very toxic cult. But I finally did. I am now in LC with my mother and NC with my siblings. I am healing each and everyday. I cannot believe that I actually survived this emotional holocaust.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that I have stumbled upon this blog. I also have a narcissistic 87 year old father. I suffer from years of emotional abuse and have PTSD. I am the only known living victim of one of the world most prolific serial killers and my real emotional pain was caused by my father. For year I bought into the crap he fed me about my mother. He told me how he regretted marring her and that I would have been a better child if he had married his other girlfriend. My father used to take me to meet his girlfriend and even asked them to take me shopping when I was a teen. I asked him one time why he did not divorce my mom if he was so unhappy. He replied, "I don't want to have to split my property, this is a 50/50 State you know". My mom was so very depressed and it was not till her death about 8 years ago that I fully understood she was his victim and not the problem. They never split and never divorced. They fought daily and I would cry myself to sleep every night. I am one of those adult children that seeks approval and is a people pleaser and have no idea how to "say no" to people. Now my dad is an old man that is nice to all the other people in his neighborhood and treats me like an old sock. My husband goes down to help him and I go visit him about once a month. I know the people that live near him (he lives on a farm, non-working dairy farm)all think he is the nicest man alive and must think I am a horrible daughter. I just had to stop trying because it just hurts so much to know my own father thinks more of his friends and neighbors than he does of his own daughter. I do have a brother and my father has done a good job of making sure our relationship is strained. He likes to pit my brother and I against each other. He lives on the family farm and all my life I wanted to live there because I have such good memories of spending the summers on the farm with my grandparents. My husband and I were helping my dad and doing a lot for him. My husband even stayed there and remodeled one of the small homes on the farm for him. We were making plans to use the back 40 acres for planting and my father decided to let the neighbor raise horses on 25 acres of it. When I told him how hurt I was that he would let a 25 year old neighbor fence of the place rent free and not bother to say anything to his own children about it his response pierced my heart " I can do what ever the #$%@##** I want and don't have to tell you a @#$%## thing" My father has what seems to be some sort of early dementia because he forgets the simplest of things but he is pretty much independent and a dependency hearing would only cause problems. We were going to just sell our two houses in the city and move into the house my husband remodeled to keep an eye on things and help him. Now we have decided not to do that. I just want to live my own life stress free and without crying every day. I just had to stop caring to save my own sanity and my own family. For so many years I wanted my father to recognize me. I ignored my own children while in search of my fathers love. My children are adults now and I am in therapy and trying to rebuild the relationship I have with my own children. I have to be cautious that I do not repeat history and have had to rethink my retirement dream but I am starting to feel like I have value. Just to make it clear, my father wanted us to move down there we were not trying to take advantage of him. He hates to live there alone.

Anonymous said...

Well it happens here in the UK too! My eighty year old mother hangs up the phone and verbally abuses me if I don't drop everything and do what she wants. She has no interest in me or my work and family. She is a manipulative, hateful woman. I am going to win this battle though. There are carers coming in twice a day, she is taken shopping once a week, my sister drives 240 miles round trip to take her out to lunch every 4th week and I visit each week to get her pension and pay her bills. I have unplugged my home phone and am doing no more. That's it. Once a week and I have told her. The end.

hurt in my heart said...

Thank you for this blog. It helps to know I'm not alone.