Thoughts On My Father’s Death

I’ve long wondered if I would feel as I expected I would feel upon hearing the news of my father’s death. I feel as I expected I would.

My experience of the man was limited to his embodiment of his mental disorder. There was never in my lifetime anything more to him. Everything about him was a fabrication, an elaborate lie that he struggled to maintain in some manner self-consistent enough that it would not collapse under the weight of cognitive dissonance. The identity he projected for the world to see was fabricated, and his knowledge of others consisted entirely of the lies he told himself about them — people were, to him, whatever he needed them to be in order to maintain the consistency of his fantasy self image.

My role in his life, in fact for all of my “family of origin”, was to be the scapegoat. The traits my father possessed and despised, he disowned and projected upon me. Once disowned, no longer associated with his view of himself, and instead components of his view of me, he could safely express his hatred of them with no trace of self loathing to weaken his narcissistic fantasy. As a very young child I was often confused by this; I would hear his descriptions of me and find no evidence anywhere outside of the family home that I was even remotely similar to the person he described. As an older child I wasn’t so much confused as I was convinced that one of us was bat shit insane. For a time I wasn’t sure which of us it might be, because while I was unshakably convinced that I was none of the things he described me as being, my mother (also the embodiment of disorder) quite vocally agreed with him and my sister’s actions were consistent with the supposition that she believed me to be all of those things, too.

I’ve written a few times about my childhood fantasy of The Dope Fairy, a beautiful and sweet young woman I would meet at the pleasantly appointed insane asylum where I would eventually end up. It was because of my self perception being so completely at odds with who and what my family told me I was that I was convinced that if I weren’t crazy already I soon enough would be. I was really looking forward to meeting The Dope Fairy, too. She would greet me every day at my favorite place under an expansive shade tree and give me pills that would make life seem very pleasant. The other earnest professionals who worked there would somehow magically defuckerize my head and I would go on to live a happy life in which no one told me I was despicable and the world would for the first time in my life make sense.

I sometimes wish it could have worked out that way. As it stands, the world has never made all that much sense to me and it’s only getting more nonsensical with each year that passes. There are still those about who would gladly tell you that I’m a despicable bastard, too. So it goes.

I would later come to learn that it was never me, the person I am, whom my father hated. That’s an important distinction for the offspring of a pathological narcissist to make: It is not me who is hated because I am not known to the narcissist. Not known at all. I just happen to be the victim upon whom the narcissist has projected his own most hated traits, and not because I deserve to be that victim. It’s also a very dangerous distinction to make, because the fact that it is not me who is hated doesn’t matter at all if I expose myself to and so can be harmed by the narcissist. Does it matter if it’s truly you the narcissist hates if he’s conspiring in a plot to murder you? Not in the least does it matter. Your very real self will die right along with the narcissist’s disowned traits.

Yes indeed, just five and a half years ago my father was indeed conspiring with my mother to kill me, and Amethyst, too. He wouldn’t do the killing himself, but he was very much an active and willing participant in the plot and did his part to set up the conditions for it.

I never had a father. All I had was the embodiment of a mental disorder. But he was the embodiment of a mental disorder that wanted to see me destroyed and worked to bring about that end many times and in many ways over the years. He caused and participated in causing great harm to people I love in the quest to destroy me. His death was the one and only thing that could guarantee that he would never harm another again, and for that reason I am very happy to know that he is dead.

Though he did a lot of harm in his long quest to destroy me, he failed to accomplish his ultimate goal and is now on his way to a hole in the ground or an incinerator. Good riddance, old man. I’ve won.








18 thoughts on “Thoughts On My Father’s Death

  1. sunsetdragon

    When my father died I felt free. Free of what i was supposed to do because he was, after all, my Father.
    Congrats. on winning.
    People say one can not live holding bad feelings towards others.
    I say bull crap, can too.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      Thanks! Winning is good, I think. One down, one to go.

      There’s really only one person on Earth for whom I harbor ill will, and it’s for one who makes Mommie Dearest look almost benign by comparison. That said, harboring ill will ain’t killed me yet. 😀

    1. happierheathen Post author

      My mother’s only concerns are that her monthly income is about to fall by two-thirds and the house and property that are now solely hers cannot legally be sold. They did all kinds of illegal and toxic dumping all over the property so until that’s all remediated she’s stuck with the place. Even then it’ll bring less than land value because the new owner will be forced to raze the house.

      Seven years ago, Amethyst and I went out there thinking the purpose of it was to correct those problems. They didn’t get solved because that wasn’t the rat bastards’ true purpose for luring us out there. If there were a rational person in my mother’s shoes, right about now she’d be regretting the hell out of reneging on that deal.

      So, yeah, she’s probably a bit deflated. 😀

  2. cocosangel

    My mother who was the abuser, dies 5 years ago. When she died, I did not attend her funeral. For a while I felt relieved. Because I thought finally I am free of her and her demands. She was cunning and had a mental disorder, where she thinks she does not do anything wrong.

    I am glad you have won. And that you have survived. Like Ruth, I don’t believe when people say, that it is your parents, and should be forgiven. Well if they couldn’t check their mental illness for the sake of us, (children) then I don’t see why, I should bother.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      PS: I got interrupted and so forgot this part: Forgiveness is essential, but absolution is not. You forgive for your own benefit, so you’re not dragging around hurts that can only erode your health and happiness. But you don’t absolve abusers of culpability because all that gets you is more abuse.

  3. theinfiniterally

    This explains a lot to me about my own family of origin. We’re lucky we have you, yes we are.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      You got a narcissistic parent or two? At one time I thought that I was the only one who knew about what it was like “being me” (in that regard) but then I found that there were names for their disorders and there were many others like me (in that regard). Then I wished there weren’t because no one should be born into that shit.

      1. theinfiniterally

        I definitely came from the perfect setup for my current situation. My dad seemed to be very unhappy with the three of us (mom, brother, and I). We couldn’t do anything right. He threatened to leave every once in awhile and had fits and pouts all the time. My brother became the embodiment of everything he hated, or at least to him he did. I moved out and suddenly became the good child in his eyes. All these years later and we can’t figure out what was so bad about any of us. We were tame, well-behaved kids who never did anything wild or out of line. We were much ‘better’ than our friends, if better is something you can be. My mother was a faithful, caring woman who tried and tried to make our family work. What I think bothered him is that we became shy and reclusive and it didn’t reflect well on him. I don’t know if he cared what other people thought of us or just what he thought.

        1. happierheathen Post author

          It’s certainly not mine to say, and no one could from just a single paragraph, but those sound like narcissistic traits to me. (The threats, fits and pouts are typically known as “narcissistic rage”. There’s a wikipedia article about it if you’re interested.)

          One of the many vital things for me in my recovery was to realize, understand, and accept that none of the feedback I ever received from my parents was valid and the worst of it was actually the very rare praise or expression of affection. Narcissists fear abandonment, so when they perceive (correctly or not) that a victim is escaping, either by physical flight or by emotional detachment, they surrender a gift of some kind: praise, affection, a tangible gift, or moral support in some other conflict in the victim’s life. The victim then turns back toward the narcissist, perhaps out of a sense of obligation, or maybe (and more likely) desire for more positive interaction, and the narcissist is then free to continue laying on the shit and abuse. Thus, even the positive feedback I received was false because it wasn’t about whether or not I deserved it, it was only a cheap trinket used to keep me from achieving emotional detachment.

          Myself, I was always better (less fucked up) in my parents’ expressions of their views of me when I was far away. In person I was the worst kind of shit, but two months later on the telephone I was somehow more tolerable. When a visit was planned I was actually (given to believe that I was seen as) pretty okay in the lead-up to it, but I quickly became the worst kind of shit again in person. Just like every human being who’s ever lived or ever will, I was making the best decisions of which I was capable at the time — but even knowing that I’m still amazed by how long I put up with it.

          1. theinfiniterally

            Yeah, I kinda lead towards the N with him. My mom still insists though that he really loves and cares about us, then there are those times he goes the extra mile to help out. It seems to make sense that they are just the token ‘keep you around’ efforts.

            The fact that N’s can manage that positive feedback freaks me the fuck out. I’m highly paranoid right now and it worries me who else in my support system, especially in my family, could really be a Narcissist. I don’t live with any of them, so it’s easy for them to use the distance thing to lure me back toward them.

            Man, gotta say, I love talking to you about this stuff. I feel all kinds of pressure (and guilt), real or imagined, to just write this stuff off and put up and shut up. Like I’m making mountains out of mole hills or imagining mental conditions. My therapist is great, but even with her, I have this feeling like she wants things to be able to work in my marriage. Maybe I’m just projecting. Now I’m just talking at you, but anyway, I really do appreciate your talking about this stuff.

            1. happierheathen Post author

              I’ve never met one in a relationship with a narcissist (who wasn’t already plotting an escape) who didn’t say that there was a good person somewhere behind the bad behavior and mistreatment of others. It’s patently obvious to the rest of the world that good people are not abusive and abusive people are not good, but those in orbit around a narcissist will gladly say that the abuser is good and, often, that someone who has been abused by the narcissist was somehow deserving of it.

              Those in a narcissist’s orbit quite often don’t even realize that by defending the narcissist’s actions to a victim they’re participating in the abuse of the victim. But sometimes they do realize it, and are acting out of fear because they’re ancillary victims themselves, or are acting out of malice because they’re co-conspirators. I no longer concern myself with distinguishing the motivations of those who participate in the abuse of another because there’s nothing at all that can lead me to absolve them of culpability anyway. I just add ’em to my shit list and keep on keepin’ on. (My shit list is where I put people I’m going to forget, not where I put hurts I am going to remember.)

              “… write this stuff off and put up and shut up” would be the correct approach only if the real problem is that you’re just imagining mistreatment that doesn’t exist, but in all other cases it’s the wrong answer. Being an adult, you have every right in the world to choose those with whom you will associate, and, conversely, those with whom you will not. You don’t have to justify or rationalize or explain because as an adult you have the right of autonomy, and anyone who can compel you to justify, rationalize, or explain is one to whom you’ve ceded that right. It might not feel that way going in, but it will surely feel that way before you’re done. If I can put you on defense, then your every action from that point forward is mine to control because until I’m done you must react to me. You don’t have any other choice — you must either block my blows or bleed from the wounds I inflict, and in both cases I control you. You can bet everything you’ve got that every fucking narcissist on Earth knows this and uses it to maximal advantage with every victim just as often as possible, as it’s their default position. Of course it is: it is a real life demonstration of the narcissist’s personal power.

              If it happens that my perspective is helpful to you, I’m really very glad for it. It means that something good can come from all of the bad that has been imposed into my life, and that makes it an honor to me to speak my piece. Take care, my friend, and keep on keepin’ on.

              1. theinfiniterally

                Every day when I wake up lately, I ask myself “is this the day?” Today I wondered what would constitute ‘the day.’ Maybe it is just that: finally internalizing that “you have the right of autonomy, and anyone who can compel you to justify, rationalize, or explain is one to whom you’ve ceded that right.” No matter how hard I try, I can’t let go of the idea that I must explain myself. And that is such an emotional subject suddenly that I’m going to drop it this morning because I’ve got places to be and things to do.

                My brother and I are working on our mother. She truly wants to retrain her brain. It’s just been so, so long. I know that won’t make you give her a pass, but I feel like speaking up for her anyway. I worked up the gumption to tell my brother and her that I don’t want to live with them. So I am developing some boundaries and I won’t trust blindly, no matter how badly I want to.

                Your perspective is extremely helpful. To myself and others. Know that.

  4. Roadkill Spatula

    Your family life sounds like it was very weird. I’m always impressed by the kinds of things friends have survived. Human resilience is amazing.

    My dad died in 2010. He had his issues (he grew up with an abusive alcoholic father and a schizophrenic mother), but his heart was right, he was affectionate, and he had integrity. I wonder what kind of background your dad came out of, to make him choose to be so manipulative and destructive.


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