Saturday, September 29, 2012
I have known for a very long time that Riley is narcissistic. Combine that with the fact that he doesn’t have a clear sense of right and wrong. He constantly insists that if something is right for him, then it is not wrong for him to do whatever that something is. No amount of reasoning can get it through to him that if something is wrong then it is wrong for everyone including Riley.
Weekends are always chaotic here in this little house. My grandson and his wife are off from work and the little ones are not in school. Things can get very noisy and confusing. On one particular day, we had addition family visiting from out of town creating even more chaos. The children were yelling and Nicole was making a valiant attempt at calming them down. She wasn’t having much luck. In the middle of all this, Riley emerges from his room and appears in the living room.
“I want a snack. RIGHT NOW!” Riley bellowed over the other loud voices in the room. I quietly got up and got him some cupcakes and a glass of milk. I took them to his room and set them on his table. Then I asked why he had been so loud and couldn’t have just asked me to step into the kitchen with him. His response was that no one was paying any attention to him and so he wanted to remind everyone that he was important. I shook my head and left the room.
The next day, when things were back to being the quiet normal workday, I asked him if he understood that his behavior was wrong. I reminded him that he was not a child, but rather a 70+ year old man who had the capability of simply asking me to fix him a snack. He proceeded to tell me it wouldn’t have had the same affect. That he got the attention of everyone in the room and I reacted immediately to his demand. He got what he wanted so his behavior was right for him. He continued to tell me that just because I thought he was wrong, did not make him wrong and he didn’t care about what was wrong or right for me.
Keeping the peace between me and Riley requires a delicate balancing act. On one end of the scale is his inability to see that he’s being a jerk. At the other end, is me trying to keep my temper intact while not agreeing or caving in with his demands. Actually, most of the time the scale is tipped in my favor because to keep it perfectly even means that he gets away with everything he wants. I make sure there is just enough anger to let him know I’m not going to tolerate his childishness. I’m much like a parent who makes sure the kids know that screaming in the grocery store for a toy will not get them the toy. But, if they ask politely they just might be accommodated.
I’ve heard from others that the alcoholics in their lives have similar selfish traits. There is no way to get through to them because they have their filters on that prevents them from hearing what we are saying. Alcohol shuts down the ability to be reasonable and objective. Those capabilities are housed in the front lobe of the brain which is the first part of the brain to be damaged or clouded by alcohol consumption.
When we see before us a person that we once shared reasonable, rationale, humorous, insightful, enjoyable conversations, we tend to forget that the current person before us is not using the same brain functions as they did in the past. It’s hard to remember that the alcoholic cannot reason out situations. They do not have the ability to use good judgment. It is extremely frustrating. We often get glimpses of the original person, but as the alcoholism progresses those glimpses are fewer and farther between.
As I’m writing this post the entire house is quiet. Everyone is still asleep. These quiet times when I can write don’t happen every day or, even, every week. I want to take advantage of the quietness while it lasts. Riley comes into the kitchen. He stands at the end of the counter and asks where his coffee is. I tell him I haven’t started it because I wanted to finish this post. I say those words as I stop typing and get up and start the coffee. I pour in the water and load the coffee basket and am just about to push start when Riley says – “You don’t have to do it right now. It can wait until you’re done.”
It takes all my strength to not tip that balance scale until it hits bottom. I want to scream at him – “Are you kidding me! You wait until I’m done making it to tell me NOT to make it??” Instead of screaming at him, I turn and look at him with that look. All the women reading this know the look I’m talking about. All you men reading this know that look from seeing it on your wife’s face. It’s the look that says it’s time to shut up and leave the room.
With the noise of the water running and shuffling of canisters, etc, the great-grandkids are now up and asking for chocolate milk, wanting their coloring things set up and needing attention. Oh well… my quiet time is at an end. The little ones are so loving in the morning, I am happy they are awake.
In a few weeks we will move into a larger house with Riley and I being in the downstairs and the rest of the family upstairs. It’s the perfect set up for us. Riley will be out of his room more and able to get his own coffee. I won’t worry about waking anyone up because they won’t be able to hear what’s going on downstairs. I will have a dedicated office where I can write my posts without interruption. I’m hoping it will be easier to keep my balance scale level in this new environment.
at 8:33 AM