Mystery package!


It drives me crazy when I get one of those orange slips from the Post Office saying I got a package or certified letter but am not there to sign for it. Being the worrywart and catastrophizer I am, I always imagine the worst. Is the IRS auditing me? Did someone die? Is it an eviction notice?   What kind of bad news is it anyway?  I mean, it HAS to be bad news.  Right? What else could it be?

Well, to be fair, I’ve also received certified letters for JUNK MAIL.  Those just get thrown out when I finally go to the trouble of driving to the post office and turn in my slip.  And then I get really mad.  Why are they wasting my time (and theirs)?  Why would anyone send junk mail that way anyway?  So, it could be that.  It could be junk mail. Please God, let it be junk mail.   I’d rather be annoyed than get bad news.

I was actually sleeping when the notice came. I think I remember hearing a vague knock on the door, but I wasn’t awake enough to register it in my head as something real at the door.


Of COURSE, when I woke up, it was 10 minutes past twelve, ten minutes too late for me to go to the post office to fetch whatever catastrophic news I was about to receive. And of COURSE, the Sender was left blank.  Grrrrr. So I went online to the USPS website and typed in the long number on the back of the slip.  I HAD TO KNOW.

Well.  It turned out the sender is from the city where my dad lived and his wife still lives. You may recall my dad passed away June 6th of last year. I still have no idea what I received, but I’m thinking it might be some of the old pictures of me and other things I’d requested from his wife months ago. Maybe it’s even that pastel portrait of me at age six! I’ve wanted that for a long time but I was sure it was thrown out with the trash. It still may have been. I still have no idea what  I’m getting, but at least now I know where it’s coming from so it most likely has something to do with my dad.

I really hope I’m getting some of those old pictures or my portrait. Fingers crossed!

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.

In spite of our differences…


My dad wasn’t perfect and I don’t idealize him or his memory.  Lord knows, he wasn’t a great father.  In fact, he could be a pretty lousy father and he even admitted it later on.  But I loved my dad.  Deeply.  He was my rock, even though he could erupt at any moment like a volcano.  And I still love him, no matter what kind of “baggage” we had together.

My dad wasn’t crazy about Catholics, even though he married a lapsed Catholic woman (my mother).  I was sent to a Catholic school starting in 5th grade, for two reasons–the first one being that the public schools in my area weren’t very good and I’d get a better education at a Catholic school (Catholic schools are notorious for providing an excellent education and they do value a well-rounded worldview).  The second reason was because I was being bullied in the local public school.

In my Catholic school, I found a refuge away from the dysfunction at home.  I loved my school, and I loved the Friday masses, even though I was not allowed to participate in Communion.  It sometimes felt like my real home.  The nuns there took me under their wing.  I thought they were angels and (except for one of two of them who could be mean) I was always in awe of their kindness and compassion.  I loved the quiet and peaceful way they moved.  I loved their softness. I loved the way they seemed not quite of this world. These were the qualities I was starving for, coming from a home full of anger, chaos and sharp edges.

Because of my positive introduction to Catholicism, I was always attracted to it, in spite of not agreeing with all of its doctrine.    The Church has changed a lot over the years, since Vatican II, and embraces science rather than denies it.  Science, too, is about the truth.  I feel that the Catholic church is the “thinking person’s Christianity.”  Of course, I know it’s not the only one.  I know denomination doesn’t matter; it’s a matter of personal preference.  I love the liturgy and the history and the mystery of Catholicism.   But that’s just me.

I do have issues with their stance on abortion, birth control, women in the priesthood, and homosexuality.   But these things don’t affect me directly.    I believe with all my heart that the Communion wafer is not just symbolic.  Every time I partake of the communion wafer, I feel filled with the Holy Spirit and know this is Jesus’ gift to his people.

In April of 2015, after nearly a year of preparatory classes (RCIA), I became a Catholic during the Easter vigil mass.   My father, in spite of his misgivings about the Catholic church, gave me this Benedictine Crucifix, which hangs in my room across from my bed, so Jesus is always the first thing I see when I wake up.

Thank you, God, for giving me my new faith, and please help strengthen me in that faith, especially now when I’m in so much turmoil. And thank you for my Dad, who although we had our issues, was able to put aside his prejudices and give me such a beautiful gift from the heart.

On losing my dad.

Me and my father, Summer 1983, Dallas, Texas.

I’ve experienced a strange array of emotions since my father’s death on Monday, June 6th. To be more accurate, I haven’t felt too much emotion at all. I used this event to take two days off from work, but not really to grieve, just to reminisce and remember the good times my father and I had together. And yes, there were many good times.

I know the things I’ve written about my parents in this blog haven’t been too flattering, but that’s because of the subject matter of this blog. Essentially, I write it for myself and nobody else. I feel no shame in saying the things I have said, none of which were untrue. And I never identified them or used any real names. I can’t deny they simply were were not very good parents, but for this post, I’ll just leave it at that.

In recent years, my father and I haven’t been very close. Although my father was most likely a Covert Narcissist or a Borderline, he was not a malignant anything so there was no need to ever go No Contact with him. On many levels we were able to communicate and understand each other. I always felt deep down that he really did love me, or at least tried his hardest to love me. As a young girl and teenager I worshipped him (although there were times I grew very angry too, and would tell him I hated him).

During my teens and even into my early 20’s, we always got together on the weekends and it was always a fun, exciting event, no matter what we decided to do. He’d take me out to my favorite restaurants and let me order as much as I wanted to eat, without criticizing my weight or making me feel self conscious. He took me on road trips and all kinds of day-long excursions. I always looked forward to our time together and always felt he took a genuine interest in the things going on in my life. I felt comfortable talking to him about my problems and concerns, when I never felt that way talking to my mom. I knew my dad was far from an ideal parent in many ways, but I did feel his love for me.

In recent years, geographic distance, lack of funds to travel, my dad’s progressive Parkinson’s which made movement and speech increasingly difficult, and personal differences have caused us to drift apart. He remarried in the early ’80s, and his current wife hasn’t always approved of my lifestyle or values. The last time we spent any time together was in 2005. That is a very long time–a long enough time that any intensity of feeling you may once have had begins to fade, even if it’s your own parent.

I knew he hadn’t been well for a long time, due to his Parkinson’s and other problems. But my father tried to take good care of himself, and his extremely devoted wife did everything she could to help him. My dad always, always carried a positive, upbeat, can-do attitude about life and aging. I spoke to him on the phone every month or so (sometimes a bit less) and no matter what else was going on, my dad always sounded happy and contented, and always happy to hear from me.

When I got the phone call from my mother on Friday, I knew his time on earth was coming to a close. His kidneys began to shut down on Saturday and he was admitted to hospice, where he died on Monday. When the call came, I wasn’t surprised. I thanked my mother for letting me know, hung up and remember just feeling sort of…nothing. I went about my usual activities, albeit with a bit of wistfulness. I did spend some time thinking about him, and looking at old photographs of the two of us. But I didn’t feel anything resembling grief or bereavement, and I didn’t cry.

I went online to find out if this lack of feeling was normal. I felt a lot of guilt for not feeling more emotion, for not being able to cry. I read about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief. The first stage is Denial, which is often accompanied by emotional numbness, similar to PTSD. But I wasn’t in denial! I knew my father was dead. I just wasn’t particularly upset about it. Of course I wasn’t happy about it; I just didn’t feel too much of anything. I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me. When I went back to work this morning everyone wanted to hug me and comfort me which was strange because I just felt…normal. I just wanted to get busy working.

Tonight I think I feel a little more emotion. Not exactly sad, but wistful and nostalgic which is close enough. I rummaged in my closets for more photos, and I found the lovely one of us taken at his home in the summer of 1983 when he was still active and in great health and I was young and sporting big 1980’s hair.

I feel grateful for the good times my dad and I shared. The times we laughed together, watched a movie, ate a delicious meal, took a long drive, and had a heart to heart talk (yes, we did even have those sometimes). We had the same offbeat sense of humor and love of the random, shared a fascination with geography and science, and loved all sorts of word games. No, he wasn’t a great parent, but he wasn’t the worst either, and he was aware he wasn’t a good parent when I was a kid. We had love for each other though, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

Maybe I’m unable to cry because my C-PTSD makes it so difficult for me to access and feel my emotions anyway. I’m going to talk about this in therapy tomorrow.
Or maybe it’s just normal to feel an emotional distance when you and your parent haven’t seen each other in 11 years, and is really nothing to worry about.  I feel some regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to see him one last time before he died.

Dad, I am thinking of you, and I know one day I’ll see you again.