A Letter to the Narcissist – No. 44

A LETTERTO THENARCISSIST-PETAL'SLETTER

 

To My Father,

This is it. The first totally honest account of my early life…or at least parts of it. Normally, if I admit I can remember it at all (which is a rarity), I’ll create altered versions of it. Altered to make me look better. Altered to gloss over things I’d rather keep buried. Altered to better prove whatever point I’m trying to make. Altered at your behest.I’m not sure what people here will make of this or what they’ll think of me by the end, but it is what it is I suppose.

I was born to two parents; a first child. You say I was a wanted child…but you abandoned me at a restaurant because I was crying too loud. I was a few months old. You didn’t want me then. And then you did. You came back. What made you change your mind? Why did you come back?

I don’t remember how old I am, and since this is an honest account I cannot make something up. I was very young. Possibly somewhere between three and four. We are at an ice cream parlor. You tell me to keep a secret and I’ll get as much ice cream as I want. I parrot that Mom told me that “we don’t have secrets, only surprises.” You said the reason Mom thinks that is because she’s not the brightest bulb, and that you hope I am bright enough to understand. All but the extremely dumb-witted have secrets, and only attention whores tell. I, not a stupid attention whore, kept the secret and ate ice cream until I threw up in the parking lot. (That was the last ice cream reward.)

I am in preschool. I learned to read at 2 and a half, but my teachers react to that proclamation with condescending disbelief. They believe I only memorized the words from my favorite books. Imagine my ire. I read the front page of the town’s local newspaper to my preschool class. Those teachers never doubted me again.

I am in kindergarten, and you just came home from narrowly surviving 9/11. You proudly recount your heroic tale of survival-complete with how people were jumping out of the buildings from above, and how the pathetic idiots surrounding you in the smoke cloud were begging for God and their mothers to save them (you said this part with a chuckle). You to this day call that day the luckiest day of your life.

Mom lost yet another baby. How many has it been-two, three, four? I honestly don’t remember. I think that it’s a sign that I’m meant to be an only child. I could live with that. A family friend asks what happened. I calmly explain that another baby died and that I don’t know why she keeps trying when it’s obvious they will just keep dying. I’m only six, and Ican see that. (What is it that you always say? Ah, I remember…the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.) My mom heard me. She started sobbing. I don’t think she spoke to me for a week.

I forgot. I forgot the lie you told me to say. I got distracted and forgot and told the truth. I remember the look you gave me. It was positively murderous. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember that for weeks or months after (it felt like years), whenever I got in the car, the only song you would play would be Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth.” Your sense of humor, I guess. The lyrics were burned into my mind by the end…particularly the part about that if you tell the truth you’ll see your problems multiply.

You’re teaching me to ride a bicycle. You teach me on a concrete parking lot. I fall on the pavement every day, usually more than once. This is no father-daughter bonding activity. You’re frustrated and often screaming. I try my best but still I keep falling. I fall even with training wheels on. My knees look like miniature war zones. I get a scar on my elbow that is still visible now. Eventually I flat-out refuse to ever get on a bicycle again.

My brother needs stitches. He fell off his trike. We go to the emergency room and you order me to be like a marble statue. No tears, no emotion. No embarrassment for you. I stare at the wall, still and silent as an effigy.

I’m 9 years old and I have 3 pet chickens. We brought them back from vacation in the country. We meaning my mother, my brother, and I; you were working and I only asked Mom’s permission to get them. Your glare could freeze lava. But then you smile. I have those chickens for a year and a half. I name them. I spend every day after school playing with and feeding them stuff from the garden. Then one day my mother tells me that you want to kill them and if I don’t let you you two will get into a huge fight. You suggest it might be bad enough to cause a divorce. I am a child; I fear my parents divorcing like medieval peasants feared the plague. So you chop their heads off. You get your revenge for my impudence a year and a half ago. You have Mom cook them and serve them for dinner that night. Why waste perfectly good meat, after all? I watch you and her and my brother and your friends eating my pets. I announce that I’ve decided to become a vegetarian, walk out of the room, and slam my bedroom door. You come after me. You tell me that if I really cared about them I wouldn’t have let you do it. But since I did not there is no excuse for my behavior. You made me go back downstairs and apologize to your friends for my misbehavior. I did. You won…but you lost. Because I never took a bite of that meal, and I did become a vegetarian. It bothered Mom even more than you. Because her guilt consumes her.

My brother needs stitches again. He’s about 9 now, and he fell on the playground. You won’t let us leave the house until my brother stops crying. It’s a good thing my brother’s injuries weren’t too serious, because it took over 15 minutes.

The standardized test scores are back again. I don’t even have to look. I know what they say. 90+ percentile in every subject…except Math. Soon my brother will have 90+ percentile scores in everything. Then you and he can both laugh and call me slow. As always, you show me your own glowing report cards to compare. Maybe my brother will get the money in my college fund…you’re no longer sure if I’m smart enough to attend, let alone get a Master’s Degree like you.

There’s a girl in my class. She’s the ONE person who gets higher grades than me in the entire class. But second-highest grades in the class won’t get me an award at the end of the year. Second-highest won’t get me your praise. And besides denying me the one thing I want more than anything in the world, this pretentious little brat annoys me daily by correcting the factual errors in my FICTIONAL stories. I want her to swallow cyanide. Instead I blame her for cheating. I say I saw her doing it myself. I am a model student, very innocent-looking, and well-behaved. And I’ve been honing my skills since kindergarten (usually by making up more exciting-than-what-really-occured stories about what happened in my day). Everyone believes me. Besides, you were one of the school’s biggest donors (always helping out the community, you). She never had a chance. Anyway…I don’t remember what happened to her, but I do remember that I got the award. Sweet success.

I’m in therapy. I have no idea what age I was. I don’t like this therapist like I did the last one. Dinah was nice and fun and let me do the activities she wanted in the context of an imagined story I made up, where the brave young heroine (that’s me) had to overcome all these obstacles in order to win. This one always wants it HER way. She wants me to do a puzzle. I HATE puzzles. I politely tell her so and that I don’t want to do it. She insists. I refuse. She refuses to listen. She has the nerve to actually put her disgusting hands on me and drag my hands toward the puzzle. I oblige her and pick up the puzzle…and throw it at her head. Talking clearly doesn’t work with her. I tried. Let’s see if violence does the trick. You would never tolerate this behavior. Why should I have to? And I am not her slave. She will NOT make me be her slave. She tried to, but she will never succeed.

The moment of release was brief. Then chaos ensued. A room full of adults were asking me why I did what I did, you included. I calmly told them why. Everyone exchanged these weird looks. The therapist, obviously getting her revenge for that puzzle to the head, sends me to be evaluated for something serious. I knew it’s bad when it ends with “personality disorder.” That means your entire personality is diseased. A cancer. Something that must be cut off and thrown away to save us all. I started crying and apologizing then, but it wasn’t going to cut it. I was going to the psychiatrist.

You came to my room in the middle of that night, alone. I said I wasn’t crazy. You said I was saying the right thing now, but I had to DO the right things to get out of this. Then you spent the entire night teaching me what to say and how to say it in order to get out of that psychiatrist’s office without being diagnosed with anything. It worked. I was free. And I vowed never to do anything that utterly stupid again.

I overhear you talking to your friend. He asks how my brother and I are so well behaved, and speculates that you must beat us all the time. You laugh, and say that you’ve never laid a hand on us-you’ve never had to and never will. All you need to do is take away your approval and we fall into line.
I am sixteen, and you and Mom are getting a divorce. It’s ugly. Ugly in more ways than I can explain here. Through looking through her emails (which are MUCH easier to figure out the password for than yours), I find out about all kinds of shit, including multiple affairs. I hate her for leaving, for giving up. I spend a year helping you spy on her, telling you everything she says. I hear her crying at night. She thinks I don’t, but I hear.If this is love, I don’t want to be loved. I don’t want to love. People love what you can give them. And when you can’t or won’t, they throw you away like garbage. I will be nobody’s piece of garbage. Nobody’s fool. Neither will you. Neither, I believe, will my brother.

And I can’t decide whether to hate you or thank you for all you’ve taught me.

I realize I broke one of your rules writing this letter. I know you think that thinking about the past is what makes people so unhappy, and that we should always be looking forward, not backward. I realize but I did it anyway.

Because if I don’t do so at least occasionally you’ll own me.

Because I strongly suspect your piece of “wisdom” there was at least half you deflecting blame. If we don’t think about it, we can never point any fingers in your direction. But well-played. Very eloquent and philosophical, Dad.

With perpetually mixed feelings,
Petals

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25 thoughts on “A Letter to the Narcissist – No. 44”

  1. How utterly sad. And for a father to kill and cook his daughters pets is so cruel. Heartbreaking. I am so sorry this happened to you. Your father was a bully and weak. Maybe you can forgive him – maybe you can realise that HE was the damaged, weak, pathetic one to do what he did. Very, very sad.

  2. Wow, it’s been a while, but it was interesting to read this again.

    Since I wrote this, I decided to do an experiment under the protective guise of online anonymity. First, I searched internet forums, found a Borderline and a Co-Dependent, and brought them to a more private messaging service. Then I got us talking about our lives and what made us the way we are.

    It’s certainly led to some fascinating discussions, that’s for sure. And a lot of drama.

      1. NarcAngel-

        Haha, it certainly is. 🙂

        And while I shan’t totally fulfill your fly-on-the-wall desires, here is an interesting tidbit from a conversation with the Co-Dependent.

        He had offended me (if I’m being objective, accidentally), and so I told him, and I quote “You are probably the most pathetic brown-noser I have ever come across in all of my days. Agreeing with everything anyone says. Telling everyone exactly what they want to hear. Pretending to like everyone. You’ve sold your soul for mass adoration, and the hilarious part is that people STILL don’t like you. Maybe because they know both your act and YOU are a phony.”

        His reaction?

        (a) In the moment…

        He went on a self-hating rant in which he said that I was right about all of that, that the world would be better off if he had been aborted, and asked if there was anything else I hated about him.

        (b) More recently…

        He told me that THAT was when I earned his trust and friendship. To him, that genuinely was a green flag instead of a red one. And that was when I truly learned the severity of his disorder.

        Now I get to learn bit by traumatic bit what happened to create someone who thinks like this, and what it’s like specifically to live in his head.

        This is the mental stimulation of a lifetime, just so you know. 😀

        Was your mother a Co-Dependent?

      2. What is the trauma that causes his co-dependency Petals? I am curious to know how it differs from your upbringing?

      3. MB-

        Well, he is gay in Indonesia (I live in the US, but this is via the internet and he speaks near perfect English), and has highly religious parents. He doesn’t like to talk about them very much, but I do get the sense that at least one is narcissistic if not both, and they’ve always favored his younger sister because she’s more high-achieving. And they would throw him on the streets if they knew he was attracted to men. (He’s only 16.) So he’s lived his whole life knowing no-one will care about him for who he is-only for what he does for them.

        And in addition to his parents, some provinces in Indonesia still flog people for homosexuality. So he heard from his society and his religion all his life that he is an abomination. I bet it didn’t do wonders for his self-esteem.

        As to how it began, I quote him: “I don’t know when it start, but it seems to be born out of strong desire to have friends I could count on. So I start changing myself according to what I think the people and crowd want from me to make them like me (because being liked=gaining a new friend), and they did like me, so I keep doing that again and again.”

        (Yes, both the Co-Dependent and the Borderline are self-aware thanks to yours truly. :))

      4. Thank you so much for answering Petals.

        His situation does sound traumatic to be sure. I can relate to having a need for people to like me and think I’m “nice”. However, I don’t go as far as co-dependency.

        I cannot imagine how bad it must feel for that young man to be living in fear just for being himself. What a difference geography and culture make, right? Being in the US, it’s easy to forget the atrocities that others in the world must endure.

  3. Dear Petal,

    That was a hard read.
    But I’m thankful you shared it; you seemed to reach a point in your journey where you felt strong enough to look back while moving forward…reading that gives strength to other people.

  4. There you have it-children living with narcissists. They pay attention. They remember. They suffer. Despite what they may say, and even though you tell yourself they dont, or that theyll be better off if you leave once theyre older.

  5. So this is how it happens. Child abuse disguised as a proper upbringing. My heart is heavy for Petals and all those she represents. Reading HGs story is going to be difficult and I cannot even imagine what is required to write these accounts.

    I want this to be recognized for what it is: abuse. Awareness needs to happen! These children should not be allowed to remain in these environments. Child protective services would step in if a child is being physically or sexually abused, but mental abuse? Undetectable. Insidious. Tragic. I know a child right now that is living this, yet what can be done? There’s no proof, no basis. A completely silent epidemic HG! Beyond frustrating! Where does it end?

      1. NA
        Unfortunately, this is a single parent family for the time being, anyway. And when it’s the mother that is the narcissist, it adds another layer. Fathers wanting custody much less being given custody is a challenge. It’s so sad.

      2. Petals and MB

        I just meant in the situations where that is possible.

      3. Petals
        I wondered if you had children, but was pretty sure of the answer. Ha! Since I read your letter, I’ve gone back and read some of the older comments. I’m intrigued by you. Seeing your comments and reading your letter has given me a perspective I haven’t seen before. So interesting from a female perspective.

        Your disdain for the Empaths is palpable! Not that everybody must have label, but are you a Super Empath or a Greater or something else? If you don’t want to answer, I understand. I’m just curious.

      1. Petals
        From your letter, I got the impression that you have become a narcissist or at least developed some highly narcissistic traits as a result of this abuse. Did I misinterpret?

  6. Well, that was decidedly unsettling.

    I have a niece and nephew whose mother is a narcissist, I believe. My brother shares 50/50 custody with her, and she is taking him to court in August to go back to having primary custody.

    The kids want to live with my brother, but the last time they were to go before the judge, my ex sister-in-law manipulated them into feeling guilty, and it was settled out of court to share custody. Actually my niece was old enough last time, but my nephew was not (to go before the judge). In August, they can both go before the judge, if they can stay strong enough against her tears and whatever else is thrown at them. Unfortunately, the court date falls on her week to have them. I referred my brother to the technique you discussed in GOSO on January 30th about dealing with emotional thinking.

    My family always worries that my niece and nephew may become narcissistic themselves, but I see no evidence of it. For instance, my niece loved acting like a mother to her younger brother when he was little, and it bothers my nephew when my niece is manipulated by their mother.

    I assume that they would already be narcissists if they were going to be? What kind of behavior would they exhibit? My niece is 12 and my nephew is 11. Also, any other recommendations related to helping them stay the course and telling the judge what they want to say?

      1. Oh…sorry! Petal, your insight would be great! I am new to the site…

      2. Dana-

        Your niece and nephew, from how you’ve briefly described them, sound like they’re displaying empathetic traits. At 11 or 12, if they were in danger of developing that way, they would likely be displaying signs of narcissism already instead, though they would perhaps not be full-blown narcissists yet.

        You’ve almost certainly seen children who are showing signs of narcissism. The school bully, the cliquey “mean girls,” the kid who is an angel within the earshot of adults but entirely different alone or with those weaker than him/her are a few common examples of children with strong narcissistic traits (most of whom will become narcissists as adults if there is no intervention). Lying (most kids will lie occasionally, but frequent lying is a sign), cheating, a lack of genuine empathy for others, and obsession with and exaggeration of achievements are a few traits a child with narcissistic traits may show.

        If you didn’t recognize anything at all in the letter above as familiar in regards to your nephew or niece, they’re probably okay.

        And if you want HG to answer something, it’s best to address it to him specifically. 🙂 Like how I’m addressing this message to you.

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