Saturday, March 1, 2014

On Feeling Humiliated By My Father...And Putting the Situation Into Perspective.

In my entry, Decision to Go No Contact With My Father, I shared comments that I had originally posted over on Caliban's Sisters, that kind of gives a brief timeline/description of events leading up to my no contact decision.  In those comments, I shared a story about visiting my father in "05" in a city in which he was staying so that he could gamble, and how a couple of incidences that happened there permanently changed my view of him.  In this entry, I am going to share another incident that happened during that visit.  It was an incident that left me feeling humiliated but also provided yet another lesson on a narcissistic parent's inability to genuinely empathize with his child.

For the visit, I and my half-sister spent a little less than a day with my father before heading back home.  On the morning of our departure, my father and one of his high roller gambling acquaintances decided that we should all have breakfast at one of the restaurants at the casino...on the high roller's dime of course.  My sister and I had also brought a little money with us for the trip, but my father had promised, while we were still planning to visit him, that my sister and I wouldn't have to worry about anything and that he would make sure that we were all set with a hotel room and meals, once we arrived.  Once we actually got there and he greeted us,  we realized how hollow his words had been.  My father barely had a penny to his name, and of course, he wasn't able to rent a hotel/motel room for us.  He told us that he figured that we could just spend the whole day walking around and seeing the sights.  I wasn't really surprised about this change in plans because when my father originally told me that he planned on taking care of our expenses for the trip, I wanted to believe him, but I knew that he most likely wouldn't be able to keep his word.  My sister and I knew that between the two of us, we also didn't have enough money to pay for a room and that we only had enough to pay for a few meals. We had no choice but to get back on to one of the Greyhound buses to go back home or hang in there and make the most of the visit.  Against our better judgment, we decided to go along with our father.

So the morning of our departure, while eating breakfast at the restaurant, my father's high roller acquaintance and I conversed for a little while. From the little I knew about him, he didn't seem like a bad guy, and I had to wonder why he even socialized with my dad since they seemed to be complete opposites.  Anyway, during our chat, he asked me about college, my grades and what my plans were after graduating.  When I told him that I was doing good in college and that my grades typically ranged from high As to Bs, my father who had been watching us and listening to the conversation, interrupted and started questioning me about my grades.  He basically told me that I should be getting all As and that there was no reason to get any lower than that. I can't remember much of what else he said, but I do know that the gist of his rant was to express disappointment in what he saw as a lack of academic effort on my part.  When he was finished, his friend looked at me not really knowing what to say.  I just smiled and acted like it wasn't a big deal, but I was definitely angry about my father's behavior. That wasn't the only time that he had done that. Before that incident, there were times in the past, when he was still involved in my life, that he would question me about my grades and make me feel like I wasn't trying my best.  If I brought home an A- on a quiz/test or homework, he would question me about why I didn't get an A+ instead. I could understand if he was disappointed that I got a C or lower, but he was never satisfied with anything less than me getting the highest marks.  After my father's rant, I felt really low as I continued to eat my breakfast.  I didn't say much for the rest of the meal, but I did look at him from time to time, feeling completely disgusted by his audacity.

After reflecting on my father's behavior, after breakfast, I realized that there was no reason for me to feel humiliated and worthless.  This was a guy who had made bad decision after bad decision in his life.  He had done everything to sabotage himself and had reduced himself to not even having enough money to buy his children a decent breakfast, yet he had the nerve to berate me over grades for which many others would have expressed just the opposite.  Most other people who knew the importance of giving credit and acknowledging effort would have said things like "good job" and "keep up the good work". Given his sorry state, my father should have been the last one to ever criticize my efforts.


  1. Hi BC,
    I've been following the story and I can really relate to that feeling of how a parent can make a child feel worthless and the humiliation of doing so in front of others. That is wonderful you saw what he was doing and can reflect on it now and piece together all his behaviors.

    My mother said that about my grades as well. If it was a 98% out of 100, she wanted 100. It was not good enough. And I often wonder why they did this, when I asked my mother why she said stuff like this she told me it was to motivate me to do better. It didn't add up because when I did better it still wasn't enough. I think my mother learned from her family as well.

  2. Thank you, TR. I guess trying to humiliate their children without hesitation, especially in front of others, is a N parent tendency.

    "when I asked my mother why she said stuff like this she told me it was to motivate me to do better. It didn't add up because when I did better it still wasn't enough."

    Yep. None of our efforts are ever good enough for them. They impose certain standards and often have unrealistic expectations of others, while at the same time feeling exempt from having to meet any expectations that others have of them. If I had asked my father that question, he would have said pretty much the same thing.

  3. It IS a narc tendency, especially if you make him feel challenged in any way. YOur father also seems to have sadistic tendencies. He want's to be 'on top'' in the dynamic, no matter what. Your achievements will make him feel "lesser"; this is an inner dynamic in HIS head and has nothing to do with you. The hardest thing for us to wrap our heads around is the idea that the antipathy they feel toward us in fact has little to do with us. Unfortunately, society expects us to be tethered to these people 'for life.' UGH.