I used to love and respect my dad. I used to think he was principled and strong. I used to think he loved me.
Much has happened, and these happenings have taught me many things. Several of which is that all of the above were illusions. Figments of my imagination. Fantasy and dreams.
Recent experience has revealed not only the present but the past. One of the saddest realities I have had to confront in my adulthood is that my father has never loved me. I won't bore you with my long list of remembrances that prove this point. I don't have to prove anything to you. I am only stating that it has been proven to me. I will sum up my realizations about my dad to you, though, just in case it may resonate in your own experience.
The only person who really matters to my dad is himself. Yes, he has worked hard for years to provide for his wife. And himself. By providing for his wife, he can claim this as proof that he loves her and has done his duty toward her. This works for her. There is little more she expects from him. Provide for her in the manner she has become accustomed to and the uneasy truce between them can be maintained. The symbiosis of their relationship explains everything to me about my dad's relationship to me. It was never about me. I have been an attachment to my mother since I was born. He would have never married my mom except that she became pregnant with me. All I have ever been to him is a representation of duty and responsibility. He did for me because it was simply the same as doing something for his wife. It kept her "happy", it met her demands, it shut her up. Which brings me to my first statement that the only person who matters to him is himself. He only pleases his wife in order to "keep the peace" so he can live his life in relative calm as well as pursue his own interests and live his own life. They live separate but parallel existences. It is a business arrangement. A little bit of mutual back-scratching, then they go about doing what they do for themselves. Both are locked in a perpetual pursuit of their own agendas. Separate agendas.
There is no human alive who doesn't fashion some code of conduct that convinces themselves they are "righteous"...i.e. that they are "moral". Some fashion their moral code according to an objective source, such as the Bible. Others just make one up as they go along and construct their code according to their subjective and perverted feelings and ideas. My dad lives by the moral code of the mobster. No matter how angry he may get at my mother, no matter how loudly he may condemn some behavior of hers to her face, no matter the long emotional estrangements from her....let some "outsider" (everyone is an outsider to those two including their children) come along and dare to contradict or attempt to hold his wife to accountability in whatever form and his mobster code of conduct is immediately visible. No one else is ever allowed to "dis" his wife. You make her unhappy and HE is unhappy. You will be yanked on as hard as possible by him in order to bring you back into line and make his wifey happy again. I see this dynamic as yet another iteration of his dedication to his principle of selfishness. If the wife is unhappy....she makes him miserable, too, because she cries, she rages, she whines, she mopes, she sinks into depression, she tortures him with her misery. He sees the only "moral" thing to do is to make her happy again whatever the human cost may be to the "outsider". No one else matters. There is no claim for redress, accountability, or justice that he will admit to be valid. The mobster code of "la familia" applies only to the two of them. The rest of us can rot in hell.
I see my father as Igor to my mother's Dr. Frankenstein. He is simply the club she wields to keep the rest of us in line. She has used him this way for as long as I can remember. I used to believe her lies about how much he loved his children, about what a strong and principled man he was, about how deserving of respect he was. Time and experience have been my teachers. He is as evil as she is. While she abused me with almost impunity, he turned his eye. He has NEVER stood up against her to protect me. Not once. When finally, as an adult, I appealed to him to hold her to account for her evil deeds just once, his refusal was absolute. This proved to me that his claim that had he known how she abused her children he would have intervened was a complete and total lie. He was being asked to intervene now, in the present, for a deed he witnessed himself and admitted for a short while she was in the wrong, and he refused to do the right thing by his family. His dedication to himself....and therefore to his wife....are set in granite. He is immovable. Not any part of his soul is moved by the importunities and pleas of his extended family. No righteous claim can find redress in his court of appeals. His integrity was surrendered to his evil wife many decades ago. He demands from the rest of us a similar surrender of integrity in the name of peace and family. It is a vile thing to behold.
I have no father.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Dad--Mom's evil henchman
Posted by Anna Valerious at 9:51 AM
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Anna, I feel so sad when I read this because there was a time where I behaved very similar to your father. I lived in fear and did everything I could to keep the peace. Sometimes I would try to intervene in the abuse of the children, but that never went well. Instead, I would find ways to turn the abuse towards me. I wish so much I would have gotten out sooner. It has taken a long time to get the strength I have now... I will remain the keeper of the truth. Of course, my kids still suffer, because as you so well described in one of your other articles, they are confused by their father and they believe he loves them "in his own way" - and they feel sorry for him. On one hand he is an abusive dictator - and then on the other, he can be so much fun for them, treating them more like friends and acting more their age (listening to their music, watching their movies, acting like such a fun father in front of their friends)...
Anna, I hope so much that someday your father can find the courage to finally do what he needed to do for so long - protect you and admit the wrong.
Your description of how you were doesn't remind me of my father's behavior. There is a very big difference that is critical to the dynamic: he is not afraid of my mother. I know this to be an absolute fact. He can be inconvenienced when she is angry or sad...but he is not fearful.
His dereliction of duty as a father can not be attributed to him being fearful. He has no such excuse. He has studied the easy course. He has refused to divert from the study of his own convenience. It is moral laziness (which always ends up in evil outcomes) that has degraded his character.
I cherish no hope of my father finding courage to do the right thing by me. I know him extremely well...and I know I am forever dead to him.
I've finally read something that has made me more sad than angry. The anger is still there, but the sadness is overwhelming.
He has NEVER stood up against her to protect me. Not once. When finally, as an adult, I appealed to him to hold her to account for her evil deeds just once, his refusal was absolute. This proved to me that his claim that had he known how she abused her children he would have intervened was a complete and total lie. He was being asked to intervene now, in the present, for a deed he witnessed himself and admitted for a short while she was in the wrong, and he refused to do the right thing by his family. His dedication to himself....and therefore to his wife....are set in granite. He is immovable. Not any part of his soul is moved by the importunities and pleas of his extended family. No righteous claim can find redress in his court of appeals. His integrity was surrendered to his evil wife many decades ago. He demands from the rest of us a similar surrender of integrity in the name of peace and family. It is a vile thing to behold.
I have no father.
About a year ago, my husband, desperate for his father to show him for once that he loves and gives a damn about him, begged him for some kind of help in the war his mother waged against us. And he got that absolute NO. It makes me furious, but more than that, I hurt for all of the children who come to this realization that not one but BOTH of their parents could give a shit less about them.
I am so, so, so sorry.
I think I've come to my realizations about my parents by degrees. I don't think I could have handled it nearly as well if I woke up one morning and had the truth revealed to me all at once. From about age 12 or 13, I had a nagging feeling about my father that something wasn't quite right. And sure enough, it took me many years to see the full picture. And yet, my mom flew under the RADAR, ever the consummate victim. Now I see that she, too, has been very abusive of me over the years. I never saw this before. I thought it was my job to help her. Now I look back and see all the times she hid behind me ("You're so strong" she would say) while I took his abuse and she went about her merry way. I remember reading somewhere, I'm pretty sure it was on this blog, that it's comparatively easy to break the ties with your primary N, much less so with the enablers, or what Luke 17:3 ministries calls "The Silent Partner"...
With me there was a "Last Straw" event where my mother is concerned, where my life with her ended "not with a bang, but a whimper". Long-story-short: two years ago she learned that NDad had added crack cocaine addiction to his decades long alcholism and the combo proved even more than she could handle (with her ostrich-head perpetually in the sand about him). She had simpered to me over the phone about his "gambling" problem and alcohol addiction and how it was getting worse - wanted me to stage a one-woman intervention. This had gone on for months. "I don't know how long I can take it" she would cry. After spending many hours on the phone talking to AA-counseling types and rehab center people, I finally decided that I would once again don my "savior" persona and go try to help them salvage what was left of their pathetic lives. I walked into that house (a three hour drive from my own house) all bluster and confidence, to "save the day" Mighty Mouse style. Little did I know, he was several years into a full-blown crack cocaine habit. She had only learned this fact herself about a month before - but she DID know about it. She knew he was a crack addict and let me go into their house to try and talk him into getting rehab for (what I thought was) an alcohol problem. It has taken over a year to fully process this, but when it finally hit me, that my own mother would "sacrifice" me in order to avoid dealing with this herself, it's like a little switch on the gate of my heart just went "click" and the key broke off and it can't be fixed. I can't seem to reconcile that she would let me face potential harm, with my three precious children waiting at home (ages 10, 8 and 6 at the time this happened) and all to help restore the lukewarm version of hell-on-earth that she had grown so accustomed to. He could have been high, he could have been entertaining some of his fellow crackhead friends who could have turned on me - my gosh, any number of scenarios could have developed where this could have gone so very wrong. I left the house after being unsuccessful at talking him into rehab (he called me 'crazy' and said I was meddling and claimed that I - I was the root of his problems and that everything was just peachy before I had gotten there) Ugggghhhh!!!!!!!!! So I did leave, and found out about three weeks later that he was, indeed, addicted to crack cocaine. The Herculean efforts I expended since then to "help" my mother have been nothing short of heroic (not trying to brag here - in fact, it's more like an admission of my utter idiocy that I've stuck by her through all of this - geez). And still, it's somehow (in her mind) all my responsibility to put my own life on hold and come to her rescue time and time again. Enough already! The mere title "mother" no longer is the password to complete servitude from me. No Contact - I wish someone had told me about this years ago. Just the thought of waking up and realizing that I don't have to do everything for this selfish woman is so liberating. I feel like there is a possibility that I might actually experience joy in my life! At 42, I feel like I've just discovered that the earth's not flat, but spherical! Thank you Anna, for this labor of love. I have learned so much over the past year or so of voraciously devouring your hard-won wisdom and keen observances. I am just this morning waking up with the burning desire to comment for the first time. I feel I have found my "voice" after all this time. Sorry if I've rambled, but as most here can identify with, I've been on a solitary journey (for the most part) and this blog is like a safe haven.
Anon @ 7:40 am,
No, you certainly didn't ramble. Your comment is rational, clear, honest. You have my heartiest and most enthusiastic encouragement to sever the ties, cut the cords, fly free. Those two people whom you call "parents" have stolen enough of your life. Claim what is left for yourself and those you love. Your children deserve to have all of you unsubdivided by your leeching mother .. and father. All the best.
Thank you again, Anna, for the words of encouragement. I commented on your current post as well, "NowIGetIt" is me. I don't know much about these blogs and exactly how to participate as a commenter. But anyway, that was me, too, and I felt a huge burden lifting as soon as I pressed the send on both of these!
I have learned so much about my childhood and early adulthood and the dynamics of my parents' marriage and how NDad's NPD shaped all of us. I have one younger brother, "the golden child" and he was spared most of the later catastrophes. He is now blissfully unaware of all of the underpinnings of this disastrous pairing (mom and dad) and they all colluded for many years against the "black sheep" - me - who asked all of the questions. "How can Dad (minister, with a Master's in Counseling) be so hateful, judgmental, critical, angry, envious, etc.?"
He surrounded himself by congregations of sheep who didn't see what I saw and who would have come to his defense if I had dared to bring any truth to light. They all had (some still have) him on a pedestal. He stands in a pulpit every Sunday, having somehow extricated like a Surgeon some precious hours of sobriety from the alcohol and crack cocaine, so that he might ascend to his throne and be looked upon as some kind of authority by those seated below him. Whew! It is all too metaphorical and creepy!
And I, like many I've read about here, had my reality constantly doubted. Entire events and conversations were fabricated out of thin air to the point where I thought there must be something wrong with my memory. And how many times, when I would stubbornly say no I'm not taking that, I'm not accepting that, they would say, "oh, why can't you just let the past go?" with a tone of utter disgust and incredulity. They called me overly-sensitive, like it was a mortal sin to have feelings.
No support, no real love, no truth.
No more! If I could circumnavigate the earth to the exact point that is as geographically far away as I could get from them, that's where I would go! LOL!
I've run into this dynamic in my own family. My oldest brother was my mother's yes man to aid in the destruction of his younger brothers. Also, I live in an area of the country which I see as having an inborn collective narcissitic streak. In this area they hate outsiders, worry only with facades, and will attack you when they hear the least truth. I believe from my experiences living here that Narcissism can become an accepted part of one's culture.
I feel for your situation with your father. I've also had to come to terms with finding out that what I thought about my mother was mostly a craftly illusion that i was under the spell of for years. My moment of awakening was seeing my mother look over the coffin of my dead sister to cuss her out. Very sad.
Anna, you're telling me what my Psychologist told me last week. THANK YOU for this post.
I get it now. My dad's behaviour FINALLY makes perfect sense - here I was thinking that, on some level, he must love me. And so his actions would constantly surprise me, and would defy all logic I could apply to them.
But when I realise that he DOESN'T love me, AT ALL, it all becomes clear.
HE NEVER STOOD UP FOR ME ONCE, either, just like you. Not only against my mom, but that time that 17 year old guy punched me in the chest in front of him. Or when he loudly pointed out, in public, that my dress was transparent and you could see my underwear (and then refused to lend me his blazer to wear). Or when I was raped, and he refused to report it to the police.....
It can't be love. It isn't love.
This is so true. My mom was a narcissist. The things she did that were wrong and hurtful goes on and on. My dad motto was keep mom happy. This was to make his life easier. Whatever mom wanted reasonable or not I was expected to do. The purpose of my life was to keep mom happy so his life would be calmer. Such dysfuntion
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