Monday, June 8, 2009

What Makes My Narcissist Dad Tick

We're approaching SIX MONTHS that my Dad has not bothered to contact my daughter (his granddaughter) or myself after he canceled attending a Christmas gathering when my husband's family was visiting. What led up to the cancellation was a big convoluted mess (Holidays Leading to the Last Straw 2008) of my Dad trying to control Christmas and then realizing he didn't have control and gossiping and lying to other family members about the situation. He iced the cake by not visiting during Christmas, emailing, " ...we will have to pass on coming up to your house. I don't think now would be a good time in lieu of what has gone on." What all his lying, gossiping, and manipulating!? Is he too embarrassed to face my husband and me?

At any rate, no matter how pissed he is at my husband or me or the situation, he has NO RIGHT to take any of this out on my daughter. What in the world has this little toddler done to him!? He has made ZERO effort to contact her, to see her, to develop a relationship, or ANYTHING. Christmas came and went with NO CALL, NO CARD, NO GIFTS... her 2nd birthday came and went... Easter came and went... nothing. His self absorption is AMAZING. Which is leading me to this poignant excerpt from What Makes Narcissists Tick by Kathy Krajo pgs. 83-84:

Extreme self-absorption is another red flag. Unless a narcissist is a "doting" narcissist who keeps a "star" child he's exploiting under a microscope, just ask him about his family. You will be astounded at what he doesn't know about them.

That's the dead giveaway.

To test a person, write a basic character description of each member of his immediate family. Note things like whether this person is religious, excitable, highly motivated -- that's all, just basic stuff that anyone who sees them regularly should know about them. If you ask a narcissist to match each character description with the family member it belongs to, he will gape at you as though you just asked him to show the derivation of E = mc2.

It will astound him that you would expect him to know such things about his wife and children.

Because you know more about cartoon characters than a narcissist knows about the members of his immediate family. For, he can learn nothing about what he willfully, relentlessly, and reflexively pays no attention to.

Narcissists are notorious for being unable to remember people's names or to even recognize their faces outside the usual setting. That's because people all look the same to you when they all look like this.

[drawing of a girl's face blanked out because it is a mirror showing the narcissist flexing and posing in the mirror that should be her face.]

In your encounters with them, you make sure you get 100% of their attention while giving them zero of yours. So, what did they say? Anything? Did they even get a word in edgewise? If they did, you didn't hear it.

A narcissist may, for example, recognize her son in the home but not when she runs into him in the grocery store -- giving him a stupid stare as he approaches, until he clues her in by saying, "Hi, Mom."

Here are some other illustrative examples from narcissists I have known or heard about:
  • Does not know how to spell his daughter's name.
  • Never had any idea what kind of grades his kids got.
  • Does not know his wife or children's birthdays.
  • Has never visited the major Website his/her child/sibling published.
  • Does not know how old his children are.
  • Does not know that his daughter was a National Merit Finalist.
  • Has no idea how good his kids are at any sport or other activity.
  • Does not know what perfume his wife wears.
  • Has never read the book his child wrote.
  • Never does learn the names of the students in his/her classes.
  • Cannot get the names of people "with two first names" straight. (viz. Jean Paul, Howard Dean, John Kerry, or even John Edwards.)
  • Does not know the names of his children's spouses, let alone his grandchildren.
  • Has never shown up to watch his son play varsity sports.
  • Does not know what his children majored in at college or what degrees they earned.
  • Does not know whether his teen-age son/daughter is dating.
  • Has never met the boy his teen-age daughter has been dating for three years.
One could hardly be less interested in a fly on the wall.

This description fits my Dad perfectly-- the Narcissistic King. For the longest time, I know he couldn't tell you the name of my company (he might not be able to even now, and I have had it for almost five years). He has no idea what I do on a day to day basis, how I live my life, what I enjoy doing, who I am, what I studied in graduate school, or practically anything about me personally. He recently admitted he doesn't even remember a guy I dated for 3 years (we had visited with my Dad countless times) that had asked me to marry him. WOW!

He will walk away when I am in the middle of a conversation with him-- or he will abruptly change the subject. The conversations are actually him telling stories about topics that are so bizarre (buying luggage, random people he's encountered, his remote control), long & drawn out, and repeated over & over. His stories seem to be noise to cover up any silence or to stop any MEANINGFUL conversation. But, no matter what, he always dominates the conversation... and the topic will never involve anything that has been going on in your life or about you.

And now, he is so self absorbed that he could care less about developing a relationship with his granddaughter. He DOES have a relationship with his step-daughter's child, however. I like how Anna Valerious of Narcissists Suck puts it, "The actual mechanics of how the NPD grandparent will misuse their relationship to their grandchildren will vary. Generally, they will either over-value or under-value the grandchild as a means to get to you." Definitely my Dad is under-valuing my daughter as a means to get to me. He has shown minimal interest in her since she was a few months old and continually blames everyone and every thing but himself for the lack of relationship he has with her. On the flipside, his step-granddaughter lived in his house for her first SEVEN YEARS, and he dotes on her to this day.

Although I am saddened by the fact that my daughter will not have a relationship with her grandfather, I am also content with the status as my Dad is a KNOWN DANGER. He has treated me as if I am invisible. He's treated our relationship with such carelessness and disregard. He is tremendously critical, judgmental, and nit-picky about everything I do that I can't win. And he tries to control me and treat me like I am a 10-year old child. Again, quoting Anna Valerious in Narcissists Suck, "It is imperative to let yourself know that, without profound evidence to the contrary, your narcissist parent is a narcissist still. You must let yourself know for a fact that your Nparent can not be trusted with your most precious responsibility, your children. If you allow contact between your children and your Nparent it must never be out of sight. Never for a moment leave your child alone with this serial abuser. They only need a few moments of alone time to inflict damage. A whisper, an insinuation, a pinch, a look. If you consider yourself a responsible parent you will never, ever leave your child alone with your Nparent. Ever."

So, at this point, I am AMAZED, simply AMAZED, that my Dad has not taking ANY time or effort to formulate a relationship with my daughter... I am also very much at peace with not talking to or getting together with him because I DO NOT want to subject my daughter to his dangerous personality. I want her to have unconditional love-- love that is surrounded by safety, security, and peace. He cannot offer that. I have wished to find that love with him since I was a young child, and I have been unsuccessful. I have been unsuccessful because that type of unselfish love is not possible from a completely self absorbed narcissist.

Six months has past, and I am sure another six months will pass and my Dad will continue to tell family members that he is waiting on a call from me and spread a few more outlandish lies about my husband, myself, and so so sadly my daughter. If he only put as much effort into a relationship, getting to know his 'loved ones' as much as he does to gossip and control, he would have so much richness in his life rather than distention. But this is how he views the world-- through his self absorbed glasses.


  1. oh goodness..i thought I had a narcissistic mother!! but ur dad is unbelievable!! i feel 4 u so much..:( i do..i know the horrible hole in ur heart, the heart of a little girl, that just asks, "why? why can't you love me?" idk if that ever goes hasn't for me..only by having true love surround you will u feel some relief..and from God of course who will give you everything u need..hugs

  2. Thank you for the support and understanding. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out. Hope you're having the happiest of holidays! :)

  3. Thank you so much for posting this and for your blog in general. I'm a licensed therapist and it's taken me years (and a new husband who is not oblivious nor tolerant of this stuff) to help me see what is really going on. Through my divorce and now the recent death of my ex-husband, it was all just about my father. He wasn't there for me, never called to ask how I or my children were, nothing. Life is always about him and he being right about everything. If you question him or call him on something, it is really your fault. I could go on and on, but it was a huge, giant wake-up call to start looking back at my whole life and what garbage I've put up with and fell into because of how he raised me. When you open your eyes and see all of the self-absorbed trends and drama he created, it is shocking how I could ever think it was me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your brutal honesty. It's so nice to know I'm not crazy or alone in this journey. Bless you!

  4. You are so very welcome :) Your Dad sounds like my Dad almost to a "t". And I love how you put it, "... it is shocking how I could ever think it was me" Me too! I was always seeking his approval, then always being ignored, dismissed, or accused of something else. Time and time again I thought that I must approach him differently, talk about something more interesting, or change something to get him to approve, acknowledge, and care. So pitiful when I look back on it as it was a fruitless effort as you can't get through to an NPD. Their viewpoints are so selfishly driven, and they are motivated by self-interests only. So tough. Anyway, you are so welcome for the blog entry-- and THANK YOU for taking the time to comment. All my best to you! Bless you too :)