This is the story of Lee. Lee is the result of how damaging a narcissist can be to a child. To explain that we have to start with Lee’s parent’s story. Lee’s father was handsome, wild and thought he was destined for fame. We will call him Roger. Roger at age 19 was skilled with guitar playing, horse riding and catching the eyes of women. One day at a rodeo the young queen caught his eye. Connie was barely 17 but beautiful like no other he has seen. Roger was drawn to her and they fell in love. Well things happened a bit quickly and Connie was pregnant. Roger was not ready to settle down because he still wanted to seek his fame and fortune. However, Roger’s father told him to be an honorable man.
Roger married Connie prior to the birth of their first child, Henry. Both were happy, tired and a bit in shock of how much their lives had changed in a short amount of time. Times were hard. Roger’s charm and rodeo money wasn’t going to support a wife and child. Roger decided to take a job out of the area away from his parents and Connie’s parents. Connie was pregnant their second child and still getting a hang of taking care of a baby. But move they did. Roger one day didn’t come home from work. Connie waited a few days and was scared. She looked for him but couldn’t find him. She was assured by his work he was okay and working, he just was choosing not to come home. Connie finally found a phone and called her father-in-law to come and get her. You see she was running low on money, food and almost 8 months pregnant.
Roger’s father traveled up to Connie to bring her home. Then he went back to find his son. Roger was found in the bed of another woman. Roger’s father was heartbroken as he felt his son needed to be a better father, man, husband, son and Christian than what he discovered. Roger who respected his father came home to Connie and his son. However, Connie was so heartbroken. She felt the ultimate betrayal as he was with another woman and he left her to fend for herself with his child. Anger, sadness, depression, relief, fear and so many emotions ran thru her. When their next child was born, she wasn’t the same. That child was Lee. Lee had a mother that was distant and depressed. She admittedly was more robotic or angry than she was loving at times. Connie never was abusive towards her sons, or any of her children she had in the future, she just wasn’t present.
Over the years Roger and Connie remained married. Roger would sometimes be the husband and father that his father and Connie imagined. Other times, Roger’s narcissism would take over. You see, Roger felt cheated. He felt that Connie and their kids, they had 5 total, took away the future he should have had. He blamed them, not himself, for being stuck. He hated the little town he was stuck in. He hated he was tied to one woman; a vow he never honored. He hated he had to earn enough money to support multiple people so took jobs he didn’t want to do. Roger eventually would leave Connie when all but their youngest was an adult.
Lee, was the one child that while in utero felt his mother’s heart truly break. She changed while he was inside her and experienced the most extreme emotions. Once he was born, Lee didn’t bond well with his mother. She later cared for her kids with as much love as she could. Connie was the mom that attended their school activities and knew their friends. She really did try even if at the time her and Roger were going thru a horrible moment in their marriage.
Lee grew up with a father that could be a great mentor and teach them all sorts of things. In fact, Lee started his own band and was pretty good. This was something that Roger would constantly put him down for or critic him on. After all Lee got closer than Roger ever did on that dream.
Lee also got to see the father that snuck around, poorly might I add, behind his mother back and had affairs in a small town. His father would come home drunk and fight with his mother. Henry the oldest, wouldn’t let the kids get involved. However, they could hear every cruel word about his ruined life. They could hear every hit, wall punched, glass thrown, crying and door slamming. Roger was also good, like most narcissist at spinning everything to make Connie sound crazy or that he himself was the victim. Everything was so confusing in that house. All Lee knew is that neither of his parents wanted him when he was born.
Lee eventually graduated and moved out. He found a woman, Barb; he could not get off his mind and married her. Barb told him one day almost six months into their marriage that she was pregnant. Instead of joy, all Lee felt was fear. Lee didn’t know how to be a father, wasn’t ready to be a father and in many ways still dealt with the mess that was his father. You see, Roger still got drunk and as it was a small town, the locals would call Henry or Lee to come get their father if he was out of control. However, he could see how excited Barb was for this child and tried to be excited to.
Barb and Lee had a bouncing baby boy Joe. Lee had a bunch of pride in being a dad but more fear. He let Barb take the lead in many things because he was so unsure of what to do. Lee didn’t feel he could talk to his mom or dad, so Lee was just alone and lost. When Joe was a toddler he colored on the walls and Lee lost it. He didn’t hit Joe but he was screaming and couldn’t stop. Lee later realized he wasn’t ready to be a father and the fear he would be his father was stronger than ever. Barb who loved Lee talked to him about what they could do. They agreed to move away from Lee’s family to a different state, where Barb’s family lived.
Lee loved Barb’s father Cliff. He was a patient man who could see Lee struggled but never would know how much. Lee tried and most of the time seemed to handle things well in the beginning. However, Lee would find himself losing it over little things on Joe. He wanted that child to be perfect, better than he was. The first time he laid his hands on Joe it shocked him as much as it did Joe. Lee started drinking after then because he couldn’t cope.
When Joe was a teenager it was easier for Lee to blame Joe for making him hurt him. “If only Joe wouldn’t make me do this…”. But Lee saw his father in the mirror each and every time. Lee never hit or said cruel words to Barb. Maybe he felt that is what made him a better man than his father. He only saved the cruelty for Joe. After all, the boy had forced him to become a father. He had forced him to become HIS father. Lee was broken and was blindly breaking Joe in the process. Joe is an adult now.
Lee never escaped Roger; he just passed on parts of his experience to Joe. Now Joe is down a rabbit hole trying to figure out what is wrong with him and why his father hates him so much.
** This is a real story but I’ve changed the names.