I’ve Just Learned That My Father Is a Narcissist, and I’m Angry!
Narcissistic people are often described as self-centred, manipulative and arrogant. Sadly, they have the power to destroy your life!
I’ve just discovered that my father is a narcissist, and I still can’t believe it. My father is in his late 90s, but don’t let that fool you. This is not some doddery old man who doesn’t know what day of the week it is. In fact, my father is kind of a miracle man, inasmuch as he’ll be getting his telegram from the Queen in just a couple of years, but he’s still the fittest person I know. He swims every day of the year, regardless how cold or wet it may be, and many days during winter he’s the only person out there in the icy cold water. After his swim, he gets on his stationary bike and pedals away for 30 minutes, then finishes off with some stretching exercises. He plays golf on a regular basis and can hold his own with golfers 20 and 30 years younger than himself. He doesn’t need to wear glasses, he certainly doesn’t need a hearing aid, and he even has all his own teeth! He lives in his own home, mows his own lawns and tends to his garden himself. Every day he gets into his car and takes himself shopping and out for lunch. And, to top it all off, he is an excellent cook and is perfectly capable of taking care of his home. Yes, I sound proud of him, and in a way, I am.
If that’s all there was to my father I’d be thinking I’m a very lucky woman, but unfortunately there’s a lot more to him than being super-fit and having his own teeth. I’ve just discovered that my father is a narcissist, and I am very, very angry. I’ve spent my whole life wondering why he treated me, my mother, and my siblings the way he did. Until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know what a narcissist was, and it was only when I was discussing my father with a very close friend that she decided to tell me the truth about him—that he is a narcissist. I naively had to ask her what that meant. After she explained it to me, I immediately went online and did my own research. I just couldn’t believe it! How could I not have known? I had so many of Oprah’s famous aha moments that I was literally in shock.
All my life I’ve thought there was something wrong with me: There had to be, because why else would my father be so cruel and vindictive. The question I’ve always asked myself is why did he hate me so much? Because he certainly did. I couldn’t understand how a parent could intensely dislike their own child; how they could humiliate their children, beat them mercilessly, and intentionally hurt them for sometimes no reason at all. I put it down to the fact that he worked very hard, which made him stressed and tired, and he always had something to worry about, whether it be the weather, finances, pending visitors, and so on.
But now that I know the real answer, I feel resentful and so angry. All the years I’ve wasted trying to work out what was wrong with me; why was I so unlovable that even my own father hated the very sight of me? I knew it had to be me that was the problem, but I didn’t know why. The knowledge that I was so bad and unlovable has affected my whole life—the relationships I’ve been in, friendships (or lack of), my lack of self-confidence, the self-loathing I’ve always felt, and even the guilt of not being able to get on with him (especially now that he’s an old man). Perhaps worst of all is the fact that I’ve allowed him to enjoy himself at my expense while my children watched on. This has been my life, but it’s been their lives too.
Of course, there have been those times when he’s the sweetest person on earth; understanding and kind, making me think that he really wasn’t so bad after all. This same man is truly loved by his friends and other family members. He would do anything for them and they would do anything for him, but his generosity has never ever extended towards his immediate family. If only his friends and family knew what we have lived with, his cruel humiliations and vicious physical attacks, I wonder what they would think of him. If they saw him verbally abusing my mother and physically and emotionally abusing his children, would they still think he was so wonderful?
I realise that now I know this new truth I have to find a different way of living my life. I have to take a good look at myself and try to understand that it was never about me—that this is and always has been his problem, and that we have been his innocent victims. How does one start again? All the things I’ve believed about myself are not true. And what about my mother and my sister? They both died very young from cancer: is that because of what he put them through? The overwhelming sadness, thinking that perhaps they might still be here had we known about narcissism. Would we still believe we were the useless, fat, lazy, worthless pieces of garbage he said we were? I don’t think so!
My thoughts are now about my own family and the damage I’ve unwittingly done to them. I won’t be visiting my father anytime soon, but because he’s acting so needy I do speak to him on the phone. I’m sure he doesn’t know he’s a narcissist, but it seems to me that he’s on his very best behaviour now that I do know. Strangely enough he’s become very loving of late, saying he loves me, that I’m a wonderful daughter, that he doesn’t know what he’d do without me. Perhaps he subconsciously understands that I’ve already got one foot out the door, and the other is just itching to follow. I won’t desert him now because that would be cruel, and I’m not him. As for me, I guess I need to start being really honest with myself; I’m not the person he says I am, I never was, and from now I’ll do my very best to ensure he has no influence over my life at all.