My elderly father - diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder years before developing Lewy Body dementia - continues his rapid decline. He can hardly form a coherent sentence now. With the loss of speech, so has much of his power to diminish me, his only child.
He can no longer interrupt me or abruptly change the conversation back to himself. He can no longer make up stories that I'm his natural daughter and not his unnatural, adopted one.
But he's not totally without the ability to lob a good zinger. On the first day of my most recent visit he managed to say two things:
--"I don't like your hair. It looks bad."
--"Why do you look like that? Is something wrong with you?"
Okay, the poor man has dementia and I should give him a break. He knows not what he says. Well, this may be true but this is the kind of stuff he always said...back to when I was a sensitive teenager and his frontal lobes were still intact. The words stung. It was all I could do not to rush to a mirror and check my hairdo. I asked my daughter if I was slouching or had an unpleasant look on my face. (No)
So here's what happened. I couldn't bring myself to visit him the next day. I just couldn't. The idea of being in the same room with him filled me with unspeakable dread. I needed 24-hours to recover. And recover I did. By Sunday, I'd pulled myself together and managed to have a reasonably pleasant visit, although brief because of his sad condition.
I no longer obsess about my father: why he acted the way that he did; why he said the things he did; why he could never see me or hear me; why he'd been so...mean. Nor am I any longer consumed by guilt. I no longer fret about my lack of any true feeling or warmth toward him. I longer worry about what the staff at his board-and-care-home think about my infrequent visits...nor do I feel the need to explain why I don't have the same father-daughter relationship that some of their other residents seem to enjoy. Simply put...it is what is is, folks.
So it was with total surprise that, finally, today I can say: I have my life and it no longer includes my father's toxicity.
And then I was catching up on past comments and found this:
JBH has left a new comment on your post "Guilt Trips":
I am glad to have read these posts! I am a clinical therapist in need of some of my own help w my parents. My parents are in their 60's and 70's, respectively. I am in my 30's, married w an 8 mo old and a 2 1/2 yr old.
If this comment doesn't highlight the insidious, destructive powers of a narcissistic parent, I don't know what does. Even someone trained as a clinical therapist is not immune to the trauma such parents inflict.
JBH also wrote:
I have revelations daily about it but I cant seem to let it go.
I want and wish I had great relationships w both my parents but sadly, I dont. And I have to keep telling myself its not my fault.
JBH....it's a temporary and necessary phase...the revelations, the relentless rehashing of the past, the not being able to let go. Maybe you're in the grieving phase, mired in guilt...and getting ready for the angry, furious, why-did-I-get-stuck-with-these-losers-for-parents-phase. The chronology of the phases matters less than actually allowing oneself to actually have real, authentic feelings...to safely reach the other big side of this mess!
If it's possible for ME to let go...after hoarding so much baggage there was hardly room for me...I'm pretty sure it's possible for you to let go, too. Eventually. After a lot of hard work.
And it's not your fault! Never was.