For my daughter’s 21st birthday she was informed a trust fund was being set up in her name by her grandfather (my father) but she would not be able to access it until she showed more maturity and interest in attending college. My daughter, feeling it was unfair that her brother got to access his right away (because he has made better choices and had “proven” himself) found a way to access the money anyway. Apparently there was some loophole she found out about (I have no idea how) where she could override the stipulations put on the fund. It wasn’t illegal what she did, but was probably unethical.
While I understood her feeling like she was being treated unfairly, at the same time I understood my father’s concerns and agreed with him she wasn’t mature enough to handle such a large sum of cash and it would have been better to wait until she was older.
We were right. She wasn’t ready to handle it. Within less than two months, almost all the money was gone and she can’t even really say what happened to it. My father’s wife (my “evil stepmother”) is impossible to deal with–cold, condescending and intimidating (although she does take good care of my dad). She is a narcissist who scares both me and my children to the point we are all hesitant to call my father. She acts as a kind of gatekeeper and talking to him means going through her first, so none of us ever call him, although we’d like to. She also intercepts any mail or email that is sent to him. Nothing gets to him unless it goes through her first.
Anyway, after Molly accessed the funds, my stepmother was so livid that she wrote me a letter letting me know she would never speak to my daughter again. I think her rage was not only due to my daughter’s dishonesty (anger which I can understand), but also because, as a narcissist, she hated knowing she’d been “outsmarted” by an upstart kid. My stepmother has always taken great pride in thinking she knows more than everyone else.
It’s incredibly sad that this malignant, heartless woman has managed to separate me and my children from my father (and their grandfather) through her intimidating, condescending words of judgment and disapproval. But that’s what narcissists do–they divide and conquer. Unfortunately this sort of thing is nothing new in my family: my entire family is splintered and fractured like a broken platter, with factions of relatives not speaking to or intensely disliking other relatives due to the rampant narcissism that runs like a cancer throughout the bloodline.
A few of us, such as my son, yearn for unity and healing in the family. My son, very touchingly, recently expressed to me his wish to initiate a huge family reunion one day when he can afford to do that. I didn’t want to tell him this would probably never work, since even if everyone attended (which everyone would not), the drama would be as thick as tar. He is so naive sometimes! But he has also made contact with some distant cousins that even I barely know through social media and is now good Facebook friends with one of them. I commend and admire him for this.
This morning I received an email from my father, which I’ll paraphrase. First of all he thanked me for my Thanksgiving wishes (I didn’t dare call him because I’d have to deal with his wife, so I just sent him an email). Next, he told me I would be receiving a check in the mail soon (I have no idea for how much). That made me wonder if he is about to pass on (no one in the family informs me of such things). After all, he is in his 80s and suffers from worsening Parkinson’s disease and is almost completely physically disabled. He also has had heart issues. His wife is his full time caretaker and narcissist or not, he would be in a nursing home without her. Although his mind appears to be intact, he sometimes has trouble translating his thoughts into coherent words, and he physically he is completely dependent on her.
Frankly, I was gobsmacked I would be getting anything at all. Although I believe he does love me in his own way, I was under the impression I was being totally cut out of any will (due mostly to his wife’s influence and her ability to turn others against me, the same way my real mother does).
But the next part of his email made me feel like I’d been punched in the stomach. In it, he said my daughter (his granddaughter) is a slimey, sneaky liar and will never change. He said his wife wants nothing to do with her (which I already knew but makes me wonder if he feels the same). While I already knew how my stepmother felt about my daughter, seeing the child I love described this way hurt me A LOT. I can understand their anger toward her, (and I myself have often wondered if she is a narcissist herself but I don’t think so) but seeing these words in print was not only horrible but also, inexplicably, made me feel overcome with guilt and shame. Sure, I wasn’t a perfect parent (and sometimes a pretty lousy one), but I tried my best. Her father is an MN and I believe he really did a number on her mentally. But I still feel guilty as if her behavior is MY FAULT. I feel a shame so deep I didn’t even answer his email — I simply didn’t know what to say.
Since my divorce, I’ve been in terrible financial straits. I work extremely hard and hate living like this, but due to my Aspergers, PTSD, and pervasive self esteem issues that keep me from being able to “pull myself up by my bootstraps,” I constantly struggle to just keep the bills paid, never mind having any disposable income to do the sorts of things that normal, middle class people do. So the news I will be receiving money that might relieve some of these problems should make me happy. *
But it doesn’t. It’s not because I don’t think I “deserve” an inheritance or gift, but because of how ashamed these two make me feel as a human being: ashamed for having a daughter who has “wronged” them and keeps getting in trouble and never seems to learn from her mistakes (although I think that is changing), as well as for other mistakes I have made that were unacceptable to them (such as allowing my MN ex-husband to move back in with me for 7 years, until I finally gained the courage to kick the malignant jackass to the curb last year). They are extremely judgmental people and judge me and my daughter harshly for our poor choices, but I have not gotten much credit for anything I’ve ever done right.
It’s very complicated and I can’t even talk about my feelings in a coherent way. I feel like I’m in some kind of emotional labyrinth I can never escape. It’s all so confusing. I feel so guilty right now and I don’t even know why. I long to call or write my father and ask him about his health (because I do love him and care very much) but am terrified of my stepmother’s interception and harsh judgment and how profoundly he’s been influenced by her. He may pass away soon, but I’m afraid I might not even be informed when that happens. Somehow, I feel like I’ve been bought off…maybe I am wrong. I can only hope.
But on the bright side, at least I can reassure myself that feeling this much guilt and shame means I have a conscience and am not a narc. Because sometimes I think I inherited the family disorder too.
I really need to stop caring so much what my FOO thinks of me. It really doesn’t matter, does it? I just need to approve of myself.
* This really didn’t belong in this article because of its focus, but I want to use the money (or some of it) to take classes in web design, CSS, SEO and how to blog professionally. I would love to be able to quit my day job to be able to write full time.