Year of Firsts

The first year of loss is a special year. I once went to a yoga and grief workshop. The yoga instructor (also a grief counselor) said that there is a reason why they don’t recommend you make big, important decisions for that first year after you have suffered a great loss, be it from a death, divorce, etc., because there are measurable changes in how your brain works.

So, in the Year of Firsts…

  • Thanksgiving, check
  • Christmas, check

Lot’s of daily things to get through, but I guess the next big holiday will be Mother’s Day…

Your Year of Firsts:


my dad is a narcissist

I guess dad has always been a bit of narcissist, but Mom took the brunt of it, and she sheltered us from what she could. That is not to say that Mom was perfect, or didn’t make mistakes, but, even as she aged, and before she died, she cared about us, and our lives. In fact, before she started her two days of seizures from which she never later woke up from, some of the last words she said to my sister were not to cry – she didn’t want us to cry because she was dying. (Love you Mom!)

This whole thing is important for me to understand. I always wondered how I could marry a sociopath/malignant narcissist (thankfully, now my ex), and how cliché is it to find out now that it’s probably related to patterns from my father. I had no clue, but I’m thankful for this added perspective.

Information on the web is hard to find, so much of it is extreme, and we weren’t exposed to extreme – whatever dad’s personality issues where when we were young, they didn’t appear overtly destructive to me, but more related to apathy or a lack of empathy, I guess a more silent destructiveness. That is, until now, as dad is ageing. Google narcissism and demetia together, and all sorts of hits come up, mostly things written by adult children trying to care for these difficult elderly adults. There is at least one study possibly linking narcissism to frontal lobe dementia.

Looking at one list, they list that narcissists require loyalty, and they keep score. This hits home – dad is obsessed with whether a person is either “for or against” him. When we argued for care for mom, in his mind, he took that as being “against him”. And he does keep score – that part of his memory is intact. In 2013 when I was actively looking for ways to get mom into assisted living, that was the beginning of him turning against me in an angry and evil way, which has done nothing but elevate since that time.

He also remembers things wrong, but mostly in terms of interpreting interactions incorrectly – usually interpreting them the way he prefers. I’ve seen this consistently with all types of interactions, and is one reason he can’t evaluate medical decisions properly – everything he hears is about how it will work out the way he hopes it to.

Empathy, introspection, humility, evaluation have become nonexistent.

I don’t think of my childhood as being scarred by my parents. They made mistakes, but I found ways that provided me structure and support. I’m not sure my sisters can say the same things.

I understand the person my mom became when she had dementia. I do not understand the person that dad has become, and that tells me that I didn’t understand the person that he was. They say that frontal lobe problems cause behaviour changes, but this doesn’t feel like it’s all just dementia, this seems like more of something that was already in him. I think I have some reading to do:

Reality Check … whose reality???

I wrote Dad a letter. Told him that striking me was unacceptable. Asked him never to do it again. I just wanted a record of it, I wanted to protect myself, even though I knew the effort was futile.

Dad’s response to my sister is that I’m wacko, completely off my rocker, that the incident never happened. I am not surprised by this.

Dad appears to have “lost” the two weeks between Mom’s passing and Thanksgiving. This has surprised him, but none of us. One night when Mom was in the ER for a few hours, he thought it had been months. He has been regularly confusing his time lines and not remembering when significant things happened. Unlike Mom’s dementia, he cannot accept that he is not correct, whether he is unwilling or unable, I don’t know.

His reality, on so many different levels, is not the same as ours.

He has had a bunch of doctor’s appointments since Mom’s death which he has either taken a taxi to (once), or my sisters have taken him (I can’t do it anymore, he is too angry with me, I challenge his independence the most). One of his issues is that he has an abdominal aneursym. This would have already been operated on if he were healthy, but he is not healthy, and it sounds like it has grown further.

After his last operation, he woke up with full blown Parkinson’s and unable to walk well. At least they diagnosed it as Parkinson’s. It’s pretty clear that if he has an operation, chances are that he will never be able to live alone at home again. (He shouldn’t be alone now!) In his reality, he will have the operation and heal up fine and all will be well. Legally, he is in full control of his medical decisions, though he has lost a lot of executive function. He will make his decisions based on his reality. Very worried.