I’ve talked about my dad in my Facebook group a little, but not much, publicly. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I suppose he’s one of the factors that led up to me moving to New York to begin with. It’s hard to say when it all started, really, because I was carrying around an illusion for so long that I only realized what reality was when that illusion was completely shattered.
I thought my dad was a normal, albeit bumbling dad of the Homer Simpson variety up until last spring. There’d been some red flags, which were few and far between, that had popped up over the summer prior, but I just shook them off. But today I can say, without question, that my dad suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder of the highest order, complete with delusions of grandeur. I’ve never seen anything like it and it still boggles my mind every time I see it in action.
It was two summers ago that things started to get a little crazy. He’d become increasingly more and more right-wing fringe religious, and he started sending me erratic text messages telling me to take all of my money out of the bank and buy enough food to last for six months because he thought Jesus was coming back in October. When I tried to talk to him about it, rationally, it was like he wasn’t even hearing what I was saying. At the time, I just chalked it up to religiosity, shrugged my shoulders and tried to avoid the subject.
After a series of bizarre and unfortunate events which included him marrying my mom’s first cousin, basically allowing my grandmother to die from neglect while she was sick with the flu (I seem to be the only person concerned with the fact that she was staying with him and sick and couldn’t get out of bed for three days, and he had the presence of mind to text my aunt and tell her he didn’t think she was going to make it but never bothered in that time period to take her to a hospital or call an ambulance, after her bank account was conveniently drained of $80,000 that was meant to take care of her assisted living expenses, but that’s a story for another day), and me breaking up a fight between my step-mother-cousin and my grandmother at my other dead grandmother’s funeral lunch, I finally went into a state of emotional shock after realizing that essentially, every interaction I’d ever had with my father in my entire life was never genuine, and was, in fact, just his way of manipulating me and using me as a means to an end. The person I thought was my father never really existed.
I wasn’t really able to function for three days and then decided to pursue therapy. I also sent my dad a 5 page letter essentially giving him an ultimatum – grow the fuck up or never speak to me again – to which he did not reply to for 3 months and later denied having received at all.
You’ve heard me mention many times how difficult 2016 was – that was a big part of it.
The culmination of this lovely journey occurred when I told him I was getting divorced and he told me, for the second time, that “to follow the man is to follow God.” Because apparently, when you’re obedient to your husband, that’s when everything is great. When you’re not obedient to your husband, that’s when you have problems. “Maybe you should try grounding yourself in the faith you were raised in.” “I’ve found my own kind of faith and I’m pretty happy with it,” I replied. “There is only one God.” Uh… what? He didn’t even bother to ask me what that faith was, or what it entailed. He hasn’t bothered to ask me a single question about myself since… well, I don’t know. I honestly can’t remember any time we’ve ever had a conversation that wasn’t purely surface level since I was 17.
Shortly before I was to move to New York, he baited me into meeting him for lunch so he could ambush me in a BBQ restaurant parking lot and give me his version of a charismatic Christian exorcism complete with speaking in tongues and having a two-way conversation, out loud, with the demon that allegedly has hold over me.
Nothing screams parental love and acceptance like being forced to participate in your own exorcism. And that was just for getting divorced. If he knew I was a practicing psychic and teach people about metaphysics and the occult? He’d probably try to burn me at the stake. Or maybe not… I was born with a vagina so I’m basically a second-class citizen in his book.
I’ve been here for almost two months now. He’s texted me three times, but never once enquired about me or my emotional well-being. Most of the time I don’t bother to respond. My stomach turns when I see “Dad” show up on my phone. He just texted me this morning to ask me for my address so he could send a birthday card. On the up side, he didn’t forget my birthday for a third year in a row. On the downside, I really don’t want him to know where I live – not that he’ll ever set foot here in Satan’s den. The only place I could have gone that would be worse in his mind is California.
There’s so many more undesirable qualities about my father. He’s racist. He’s homophobic. He’s a liar, and a thief. He’s a manipulator who has used his own children as tools for destruction. He’s concerned with no one but himself. These aren’t accusations. They’re cold, hard, observable facts supported by mountains of evidence. My father is, quite literally, the worst human being I have ever personally known.
It’s taken me a really long time to accept the fact that he’s mentally ill and that there’s nothing I can do or say that will make a difference. Trying to have empathy for a person who is incapable of feeling empathy is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m not really sure that I’m there, yet, or if I ever will be.
The scariest part of it all, to me, is the fact that this man started his own church. There’s a group of people who sit and listen to what he has to say on a weekly basis. Now, how many people is questionable, since he can’t tell the truth, I can only assume that the numbers are exaggerated. But still. That’s terrifying.
I’ve been seriously considering cutting him off completely. I don’t feel any sort of emotional connection to him. The person I thought I had a mild emotional connection to was a figment of my imagination. The thought of what I will lose by cutting him off isn’t what makes me sad. It’s the thought of what never was.
That’s the hardest thing to swallow when you’re raised by mentally ill parents. Mourning the childhood you never had, and the relationships that you will never have. There’s nothing you can do to change it, you can only accept it and let go.