I thought I would feel vindicated when my children finally figured out their narcissistic father. Instead, I just feel sad.
The younger two have known for a while who and what their dad is. Not much has changed for them.
My eldest is the one I’ve worried about. My ex always spent the most time with my eldest, because he was athletic. His skill gave my ex the excuse he needed to coach baseball and basketball, and to spend copious amounts of time watching youth sports. This son is now 26 and when my ex and I separated, he remained close to his dad. In the first 2 years of our separation, my ex began grooming my son. He would call him frequently to meet for drinks, he would discuss the meaning of life and other deep issues my son likes to ponder, and he’d play basketball with him. My son commented that he’d never felt closer to his dad, clear evidence that he was being groomed.
As time went on, as I grew stronger and more independent, my eldest struggled with who he was, how he fit into both of our lives. It was really hard to watch. Since his dad’s life philosophies are the opposite of mine, my son struggled with what he actually believed, who he really was, what was important to him. Apparently, he has finally figured it out.
I had plans to hang with the kids on Sunday. We made the plans a few weeks ago. Today my eldest texted me, stating that his dad had just asked them to go to dinner at Mom-Moms (the dads parents), and the other 2 boys had said yes, and he wasn’t sure what to do. We texted for a bit until he said he didn’t want to go to Mom-Moms’ because “it feels like it’s for appearances”. At that point I called him, and he told me what he’s been discovering. He told me that his dad was upset that the boys hadn’t spent Easter with him. When he reminded his dad that they had spent Thanksgiving with him, and part of Christmas, his dad continued to complain, playing the victim role. This got my son thinking. As he thought, he realized that his dad never tries to see him and, on the few occasions he does, it seems to be when others will bear witness, like holidays. He went on to say that he is extremely uncomfortable with his dads family and does not want to spend time with them. (I did giggle at this one and said “why do you think I was always sick when it was time to go see them?” They are awkward, antisocial, gossipy…….yet highly religious. Ugh)
I knew this was coming. I knew that his dad was grooming him (i.e. love bombing, in a non-sexual way). As all narc’s do, his dad stopped paying attention to him once he felt the boy was sufficiently groomed. Were I not in the picture, this probably would have been enough to keep my eldest under his thumb. What my ex didn’t count on was that I was going to bring the boys together as often as possible, as consistently as possible, while allowing them to be who they are, express their own thoughts and opinions. As a group, my 3 sons, my Daughter In Love and I spend time together laughing and enjoying each others company. We do so at least once every other week, more often if everyone’s schedule allows. We’ve also vacationed together, and will be doing so again a few weekends from now. In contrast, the only time the boys are with dad is when there is an audience, like holidays. Further, the dad bought a vacation home at the beach last summer, with the help of my eldest son who is a mortgage broker. Despite the fact that dad is at the beach house every week, he has yet to invite the boys, unless there is an audience.
I suppose what it comes down to is this: the 2 younger boys never had a “relationship” with their dad, so nothing has changed for them. My eldest was his dads’ favorite, and he thought his dads feelings for him were real. It has slowly dawned on him that his dad has been using him all along. That’s got to suck.
I thought I would be happy on this day. I thought that my children understanding who their dad is, deciding not to engage with him, would be a victory for me. Winning. As it turns out, it is simply a loss for everyone. Including the narcissistic dad.
This turn of events proved fortuitous to me. Recently I’ve been pondering forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive a narcissist? How do I forgive someone who took years off of my life, put me through hell and continues to jerk me around whenever he gets the chance. In yet another example of a cliche, I am aware that forgiveness is for me, not him; that forgiveness makes my life better. So, is feeling sorry for him forgiveness? I no longer feel rage whenever I think of him. In fact, I rarely think of him, unless reminded by one of my boys. Is that forgiveness? I don’t think it is, but I do think this might be the 1st step on my journey to forgiveness. I will keep you posted. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to write that I truely forgive him.
I guess in the end, just as I am a middle aged female cliche, he is a middle aged narcissistic male cliche. As everyone has said all along, he will end up alone, blaming everyone else for his circumstances. As my sons and I move on, dad will remain stuck in the same old patterns; the same state of victim hood he claims is his. Terribly sad.
I however, will smile today. I hope you do too.