Saturday, March 1, 2014

On Why My Father is a Narcissist - Part 1

In my last entry, I shared a basic timeline of events that led up to my eventual estrangement from my N father.  This entry is much more of a reflection post on why I believe that my dad is an N. I don't know a lot about my father's side of the family, aside from the N paternal relatives with whom I am estranged.  However, from the bits and pieces of information that I acquired from listening to family conversations and gossip over the years, I came to the conclusion that my father did not have many positive role models when he was growing up.  He was mostly raised by his maternal grandmother in Jamaica, after his mother decided to go to England and make a life there for herself while my father was very young.  He did see his father from time to time, but his formative years were spent in his grandmother's care. When he reached his late teens, he spent more time with his father because his father was a prominent business person in the community, and my father became an employee at that business, once he graduated from high school. I strongly believe that my paternal grandfather is a Narcissist whose actions modeled to my father that it was ok to have a lack of responsibility to family, and that it was ok to womanize without facing any consequences for that type of behavior.  I am not going to blame my grandfather for my father's actions, however, I do believe that positive parental role modeling is important to children and influences their values, morals, and decision making. I am going to discuss my grandfather's behavior and how my father's behavior has been similar.  I am not going to talk much if at all about my father's mother because she was not in the picture for the most part.  I have never met her and I don't know anything about her as a person.

While I don't know much about my grandfather's past in Jamaica, I do know that he engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle and did not value having steady, committed relationships with women. To my knowledge, the only woman with whom he had a long term relationship and then married is my narcissistic step-grandmother.  With those other women, my grandfather had at least three children.  He and my step-grandmother also had five kids.  He also had several affairs early in the marriage, and produced at least one more kid from one of those affairs.  To my knowledge, I have at least nine paternal aunts and uncles. Because my grandfather settled down with my step-grandmother, he was an active father to the children they had together, but he did not play a hands-on role or take on much if any responsibility to the kids that he had prior to that marriage or to the child from the affair.  Most of them were raised by their mothers and grandparents.  From my observations, my grandfather never faced the consequences of his irresponsibility to his children and his wife.  What I saw when I was growing up was that most of my aunts and uncles visited my grandfather and step-grandmother and had a desire to stay in contact and be part of the family. But I definitely think that they must have held some resentment and anger toward my grandfather because of his willfully negligent behavior and self absorption.

My father's relationship with women and also with his children has been very similar to that of my grandfather.  My father also engaged in promiscuous behavior.  Before he met my mother, he had a son with a woman whom he was not in a committed relationship.  After meeting my mother - the only woman with whom he has had a long term relationship and married - he still slept around in the early years of their relationship and had at least two more kids.  While he was an active parent to me and my younger full siblings when we were in our early childhoods, he was not an active parent to the kids he had with other women.  I think that he had some knowledge of how my half-sister was doing and a couple of pictures of her. But other than her, I don't believe that he knew very much about the other kids.

When I was in my mid-20's, my mother told me that there was a time when she and my father tried to reach out to his oldest son, because they wanted to offer some support.  The mother and stepfather initially agreed but then decided that they didn't want my father to have contact because it had been a long time and they no longer thought it was a good idea for him to be in their son's life.  After hearing that information, I can't say that I blame the mother and stepfather.  They did what they thought was best and were only looking out for what they felt was the best interest of the child.

Years later, my father had an opportunity to meet one of his other kids, this time it was the daughter that I mentioned above. This was a strange situation because my paternal relatives stuck their noses into a situation for which they should not have gotten involved.  They were always in-the-know about my father's behavior and that he had kids with other women before coming to the US.  Over the years, they made sure to stay at least superficially informed about the welfare of those kids.  There were times when I was a child and then a teenager that they would make comments about them, basically letting me know that they were out there and that it would be nice for me to meet them at some point.  I didn't think much about my half siblings other than to hope that they were doing well.  But I never really had a strong desire to meet any of them.  So when I was 18 years old, it came as a great shock to me that my paternal relatives had gotten in touch with my half-sister's mother and had convinced her to let my half-sister move to the US to live with them.  At first I couldn't believe that they had crossed that boundary, but then I remembered who these people were and how meddlesome they were when they had an agenda.

Once my half-sister was in the US, I got the opportunity to meet her.  By that time, I was not in regular contact with my paternal relatives, but I did sometimes visit with them.  My Aunt Mary (AM) stopped by my apartment along with my half sister and we got to meet each other in a quick visit.  After I met her, my father ended up meeting her when AM took a trip to the city in which my father was staying to gamble.  I thought it was highly inappropriate for my sister to meet our father for the first time, under those circumstances, but I didn't find out about any of this until after it had occurred.  My paternal relatives lack boundaries, are very nosy, and love knowing things about other people, so doing this gave them just another opportunity to get their supply.

Although I was not present when my father and my half-sister met, I heard that my father was very happy and couldn't stop saying "my daughter".   I was neutral about my father getting the chance to meet his daughter, but I was also aware of how he could come across since he lacks boundaries about appropriate behavior and wouldn't even have taken into consideration that he should try to tone down his demeanor. I could see him giving her multiple hugs, kisses on the cheek, and asking her all kinds of questions about her life.  He would have just expected her to completely embrace him and demonstrate as much excitement and energy as he did in that moment.  I really can't picture him having any regard for how she might have felt to meet a parent who had been absent up to that point in her life.  If she had expressed being uncomfortable with the situation, he would have said something like "Uncomfortable, you must be joking.  This is your father", just reaffirming how much he lacks empathy for other people and thinks that he is deserving of a certain type of response from others.  If she had said that he had never been around and that she didn't consider him to be her father, he probably would have been shocked to hear any of that.  His expectations of others and his unwillingness to reflect and take stock of how others might view him negatively or with indifference, would have made him completely clueless as to why his own daughter whom he hadn't seen in fifteen years might not have much respect for him or be thrilled to see him.

To be continued...

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