Thinking about my dad.


I have only three pictures of my dad, and only one of us together, taken in 1982 (shown above).    He passed away suddenly on June 6, 2016.    I can’t believe he’s been gone for almost half a year.

My dad wasn’t a very good father.  In fact, he was pretty terrible.   A covert narcissist (though I don’t think he was malignant or evil), or possibly a borderline, or maybe both, he was always codependent to higher level, grandiose NPD women.   At least in my mother’s case this was true.   For all of my childhood and part of my adolescence, he was an active alcoholic and often lost control and become violent and abusive.  Sometimes he really scared me.   His punishments could be harsh and cruel.  He also invaded my boundaries in many ways and seemed to expect something of me that I could not be, but I never knew what that was.

Much like my mother, he could never accept “negative” emotions and always seemed to expect me to act happy even if I wasn’t. So I learned how to fake happiness or at least contentment, but was never very good at it. But there were also times that he wasn’t this way (more on that in a minute).

He also cut me off for years at a time once I became an adult, refusing to have anything to do with me when I disagreed with him or did something that went against his wishes.   The time around my daughter’s birth was one of those times (not because of her, but because of something unrelated we had disagreed about).   Because of that, he never met her until she was 8 years old.   He did apologize for his lack of contact with me.

In spite of these behaviors, my dad could also be very loving.  When he was loving, he could be the sweetest and most understanding dad anyone could ever hope for.  While I always somehow knew my mother’s “love” was fake, I never felt that way about my dad.    When he showed me love, I knew it was really coming from his heart because it just felt like the real thing.  My intuition about these things is usually accurate.   Although his rages were usually scarier and more violent than my mother’s, as a person he scared me less.  He was less cold and could even be very warm.  As disordered as he was, my dad had a heart.  I always felt like I could talk to him, at least when he was sober or in a good mood.  At those times he could be extremely supportive and empathetic. He was very protective of me and used to get so angry when anyone else tried to hurt me.

The problem was he was so unpredictable.  It was so hard to discern when he would be nasty or nice.    So I usually waited for him to be nice to me, rather than seeking it out. He was such a conflicted person.

I loved my dad.  I still do.   Today in church the priest talked about praying for those loved ones who have passed on.    Until now, I hadn’t been able to cry about my dad’s passing.   I experienced a lot of other emotions — shock, anger, rage, regret — but I never really grieved.   We hadn’t been close in years.

But today was different, and I sat there wiping away tears and realizing how much I miss my dad, and feeling so sad because we never had a chance to get together before his death and reconcile or come to  some kind of understanding as father and daughter.  There was no closure.   I never even got to see him in the hospital, and I was unable to attend his memorial service.  There was this vast distance between us (I never went No Contact with my dad).   He never got the chance to see how much I’ve changed and grown.   I know he would be proud; he always told me he wanted to see me thrive and be happy one day. I knew he meant it too.

I hope wherever my dad is right now, he has learned a few things and is working out his demons and his soul is being cleansed.  I don’t believe death is so final that you just go to either heaven or hell and that’s it, because no one is all good or all bad.    I think our souls continue to grow and mature and sin can be cleansed even after death.

I also hope he understands that his youngest daughter, who I know he loved in spite of the terrible way I was raised,  has realized a lot about why things happened as they did, and is now using those lessons to become a better and happier person.   A person who has processed enough of this trauma that she can finally reach out and begin to help others.    I hope he is looking down from wherever he is and is proud of what I became.  I hope he knows that I love him and pray for his spiritual freedom too.  In many ways, both my parents were teachers to me.  Harsh teachers to be sure, but I still learned so much once I realized what I’d been up against.   Framed the right way, narcissists can teach you much about yourself, if you can move on from hating them and try to understand why they did what they did and why it was done to you.

Dad, wherever you are, I miss you and love you….in spite of everything.  I forgive you.

21 thoughts on “Thinking about my dad.

  1. Oh wow… your dad sounds almost exactly like my dad! Only instead of alcoholism, my dad’s moods and drastic personality changes were due to him having multiple personality disorder. Today it’s called dissociative identity disorder, but really, he was a multiple if ever there was one.

    He died of a heart attack almost thirty years ago. I still miss him sometimes.

    This is a beautiful post, Lauren. I believe your dad knows. ((HUG))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucky and Lady Q, I envy you both. My father has been dead for ten years, and I have to admit that I don’t miss him at all — that’s how bad our relationship was. I forgave him long ago for the damage he did to me (which was extensive), but I still don’t miss him. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not.

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      • No, of course it doesn’t. Everyone is on their own timetable for grieving, and honestly, I didn’t shed that many tears — just a couple. If it never happens, don’t feel bad — you may be processing it all a different way.

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        • Thank you. My father was dying for so many years from multiple health problems that I had a long time to think about how it would affect me when he finally died. My instincts told me that it wouldn’t affect me much, if at all, because I had divorced myself emotionally from him to keep him from doing any more damage to me (I was messed up enough already and I just couldn’t handle his negativity). But I had a close friend at the time who had suffered abuse from her father compared with which my experience was like a day at the beach, and when her father died she went through a genuine mourning. It seemed odd to me, but I hadn’t yet gone through the experience myself, so had no way of knowing how I would react when the time came. As it happened, my original instincts turned out to be correct; when I got the call from my sister that Dad was gone, I had no emotional response at all. It was pretty much as if I had read an obituary in the newspaper for someone I barely knew.

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          • That’s how I expect I will feel when my mother dies, Bluebird. Of the two, my mother was the most abusive parent to me.

            Hmm… actually, that’s not completely true. My dad was almost as abusive as my mother. The difference is that my dad had multiple personalities, and one of his personalities was a good, caring dad. My mother, on the other hand, only has the one malignant narcissistic personality, which she hides, much of the time, behind a fake nice mask. But my dad had a personality that was actually really good, not just fake good. That’s the personality I miss.

            However, my dad’s good personality disappeared forever when I was twelve. His remaining personalities were horrible. I don’t miss them at all.

            I was 34 when my dad died. I had been no contact with him for over 8 years. I grieved terribly, because when he died I had to face the reality that the “good daddy” I had been expecting to return for 22 years, was never coming back.

            I’m sorry you had such a horrible dad, Bluebird. You are such a cool person. It’s amazing to me how people like you and Lucky Otter, Katie, Prairie Girl, and so many others can turn out so great, despite having horrible parents!!

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            • Well, in fairness, he wasn’t always horrible. In fact he was a lot like your dad in the sense that he was capable of being very nice when he wanted to be. He was totally unpredictable and you never knew what he was going to be like on any given day (sound familiar?). And since I never knew what to expect, I spent my childhood and adolescence walking on eggshells and trying not to make him angry. It was stressful just being around him because he could fly off into a rage at any moment. But when he was in a good mood, as happened occasionally, he could be really nice. He could even be a lot of fun. So he was not all bad, not by a long shot. The problem is that the damage he did to me when he was in his bad moods really screwed up my personality. I still suffer the repercussions, all these years later.

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            • I know what you mean about suffering the consequences all these years later! People who’ve had a fairly “normal” childhood don’t seem to be able to understand that. They think we should just “let go of the past.” Wish I could, but the past won’t let go of me!

              This is true, even though I have reason to believe that my dad wasn’t my biological father. Last year I had my DNA tested by ancestry dot com, which is supposedly very accurate. Turns out that my dad’s races are nowhere in my genes. Which was a shock to discover at my age!

              When I was five my mother took me to see an old boyfriend of hers, and when he told her “you have a cute little girl, she looks like you,” my mother replied, “no, she looks like you!” I always wondered about that. I guess he was my biological father.

              Life can get complicated when your parents are narcissists..

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            • So your dad might not be your real dad? I was just telling Bluebird how much I hate it when people tell you to just move on from the past, they have no idea what rejection and abuse by your own family feels like. You can’t just get over it. You never really do.

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            • That’s pretty much what things were like with my dad, Bluebird. Walking on eggshells. He might have meant well (sometimes) but the uncertainty of never knowing how he’d be was crazymaking.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I have no patience with people who had normal childhoods telling me I just need to “get past” the abuse. If my father’s abuse had been physical rather than verbal and emotional, and I had ended up in a wheelchair as a result of it, no one would be telling me to just get up and walk away from the wheelchair because the abuse happened a long time ago and it’s time to get over it. Some people seem to think that if your scars are invisible then they must be imaginary. (This is why I almost never talk about my past with anyone other than people like you and Lucky Otter — people who know very well that the aftereffects of abuse don’t magically vanish in response to our attempts to move on.)

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            • They sure don’t just go away. I too lack patience with people who tell me to “just get over it.” They are usually people whose families did not reject or abuse them. I also see red when I’m having a problem and people say, “why don’t you ask your family for help” as if that’s a given. It hurts when I hear that.

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            • Linda, your dad was mentally ill but your mother was character disordered and evil to the core. Your dad might have been abusive but with all those mental illnesses, including having alters that took over, he probably wasn’t in control of himself. From everything you have said, it sounds like your mother sounds like she knew exactly what she was doing.

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            • Thank you for understanding. I hate it when people think I’m just holding a grudge (which I don’t do) or wallowing in self-pity (something I avoid at all costs). No one would be happier than I to let go of the past and move on, but as Linda/Lady Q pointed out, sometimes the past doesn’t let go of us.

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