I got off the phone earlier today with the father I’ve talked to once in about a decade. I asked why he’s calling after all these years and he said because it’s my sister’s birthday and he didn’t have her number and I was just speechless. I asked why she would want to talk to someone who was a source of pain for so many years – he said “how have I been a source of pain?” I said, citing just one of many examples, “You twisted her arm until she cried at her graduation in front of her friends and teachers.” (which he did because in the church ceremony before she had read an essay about the person she admired most and it was our mother, not him) I also pointed out the time he stopped by to take us to the batting cages after months of no visitation and I said I hadn’t gotten any sleep and would feel horrible all day the next day, to which he replied without any sign of humor “what do I care, I’m not gonna be here”. He replied that he doesn’t remember either and that they never happened – I said I believe him, that he probably doesn’t remember it, that hurting his kids probably doesn’t stick out in his memory. And I asked him if I had punched him in the stomach and then when he brought it up I maintained it didn’t happen (assuming I hadn’t recently suffered a head injury) would he want a relationship with me?
So he changed the subject.
I talked with him for awhile, mostly taking the high ground (and it may have been therapeutic on some level), and said if he cared about his kids (his new kids) he should look into narcissistic personality disorder (I left off the “disorder” part though). He then got defensive and said I didn’t know anything about him, and I said “yeah that’s usually the response people with narcissistic personalities give”. He then, in the classic fashion of someone with NPD said “when did you get so smart?” (trying to inflate my ego to deflect a perceived attack and assuming my psyche works the way his does).
Lets see what else. I explained for his kids’ benefit what made our relationship impossible and made us hate him, that if someone rationalizes, forgets or deflects blame and never takes responsibility for wrongdoing it makes it impossible for others to forgive them and let go of pain so any harm they do keeps accumulating and can never be resolved. I said “forgiveness requires an act of contrition, the catholic church actually got that one right”. He replied by saying that he has “photo albums full of proof” that he cared, ie he took us to sea world and a few other places when we were very young and coasted on it for years to rationalize bad behavior. I told him all the good deeds and gifts in the world can’t take the place of an apology if he’s wronged someone. So he said he would apologize (but wouldn’t say what for) if we met in person. I told him I had already made clear that this would probably be the last time we talked and that if he had something to say he was free to say it – last chance to apologize. So he said (without even saying “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” that his biggest regret was not “putting up with” our mother and staying. I just laughed and said he couldn’t even apologize without blaming someone else mid-sentence, “I’m sorry your mother was so horrible I left”. My mom is a wonderful person btw who was horribly abused and divorced him and got a restraining order on advice of his parish priest (a catholic priest telling a woman to divorce her husband is like one telling their flock to use condoms, it doesn’t happen often). And despite worsening physical disabilities she was a damn good parent and is the only reason I didn’t end up like my father.
I said that his “apology” was no different than someone, when asked what their biggest flaw was, saying they’re too much of a perfectionist. He didn’t seem to understand (to be fair I doubt he’s capable). I pointed out that he was literally saying that the worst thing he ever did was deprive us of his presence (the ego), and said that was the one thing he did that I didn’t mind. He got angry and said “no you did, you were angry at the time”, to which I said any child in that situation is going to feel bad about being objectified and cast aside and feel abandoned to some degree, but generally not having a source of pain in my life was a positive thing. He maintained several times throughout the conversation that I was angry with him for not calling before this, because I asked why he was calling. I had to correct him several times. In his mind our lives are ruined without him and we would rush to his side in a heartbeat if not for our evil witch of a mother casting her black magic over our hearts.
This is how he lives with himself. It has to be infinitely less work to just own up to your shit and make amends with people. It’s people like him that turn into family annihilators, people who lose their jobs or something and in their mind their family would be lost without them, so they have to “save” them by wiping them out (usually to send them to heaven). Fortunately he’s a milder version of it and just abandoned us and deluded himself.
My guess is his new kids are in highschool now and they’re at the rebellious stage where they a) no longer take his shit and b) no longer feed his ego, so he thought about shopping for some spare kids and remembered he’d thrown out an old pair. Just like he left when we started standing up to him.
A good friend of mine I talked to later asked if he had asked how we were doing or if we were okay, how my sister was doing etc – he never inquired once. That just makes it crystal clear who he was concerned for.
I might blog about it more later, but yeah.