Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Useless Gifts

We welcomed our second child into the world in mid-December. I can't say this enough: No amount of nonsense from the NMIL camp could ever dampen our joy or trample our happiness. As with the birth of our daughter, the birth of our son was exciting, beautiful, and mostly peaceful.

Any hiccups we experienced were derived only from NMIL and her peons.

We did not call NMIL or EFIL, or anyone from DH's side, on the way to the hospital as we had when DD was born. In fact, we did not call them until a few hours after DS was born. That was intentional. I did not want a repeat of NMIL's behaviors from the birth of our daughter in 2009. And I did not trust EFIL and L enough to share any important information with them, because I knew they would, in turn, share it with NMIL. So both parties had lost their privileges. Therefore, they were not included in the knowledge of my labor. I'm not sure that being excluded had any affect on EFIL and L, but I'm fairly certain that it angered NMIL. I don't have any proof of that, I just know enough about her to know that she believes she can treat people however she wants and still get to be a part of their most intimate moments. We effectively slammed the door in her face.

The grudge-holding side of me has no problem with that.

EFIL and L never came to the hospital to visit. Supposedly, EFIL had a cold. If that was true, I was glad they weren't coming. If it was not true, I was glad they weren't coming.

Naunt called DH moments after he hung up the phone with his NM. We were still in the labor and delivery room. She congratulated DH, and then put DH's young cousin on the phone to say how excited she was about the new baby and ask when she could meet him. Nice one, Naunt, you heartless bitch. That move forced DH to have to carefully choose his words, so that he didn't promise her something he couldn't follow-through on. Naunt and her crew were not invited to the hospital to meet DS. I feel badly for the children. I don't feel badly for her.

NMIL was not allowed to visit until the next day. I didn't feel comfortable inviting her to the hospital that night - I decided to make her wait until a time of my choosing the next day, so that I could be showered and mentally prepared for her arrival. She arrived at the hospital the following afternoon with her favorite human shield in tow. I remember sitting up in the hospital bed, after having taken a shower and put on my own pajamas, and greeting them when they walked in. My greeting was stiff and formal. I couldn't wait for them to leave.

Several weeks prior to DS's birth, we had sent out an email to NMIL, EFIL & L, and Naunt, asking that, though we were not expecting any gifts either for the upcoming birth, if they were going to purchase anything it be diapers, wipes, or simple baby necessities. We politely requested that no one send baby boy clothes, as we had been blessed with generous and kind neighbors who had given us an overabundance of hand-me-downs.

Not surprisingly, no one responded to the email.

Let's talk about gifts, Dear Reader. I think you'll see from this post that the subject of "gifts" is a tricky one. I recently re-read Shaun's post about the gifts he received from his parents in Christmas of 2010, and I think he does a really great job of identifying some of the main concerns about receiving gifts from Narcissistic or otherwise self-absorbed people. Essentially, when it's the thought that counts, a Narc's doesn't add up to much. Ns are the Kings and Queens of sending the most unthoughtful, superficial, or otherwise cruel-intentioned gifts of all time. Here's how NMIL handled our polite request about presents for the newest addition to our family:

1. As stated above, she ignored it.
2. She handed me a dinky gift bag with an equally dinky gift in it while saying, "I got this because I thought of you." Then she turned to DH, handed him a bag of candy, and said with slight derision, "I got THIS because I thought of YOU." In other words, "Here Jonsi. I got a small, crappy, insignificant gift for you because that's what I think of you." And "Here, DH, eat some candy. You fatty."
3. DS got a pair of baby socks and a tiny stuffed dog. Wow. How generous. She probably picked them up in the gift shop on her way up to our room. They represented her lack of caring, her non-existent effort, and her conditional love. It was as though she was saying, "You didn't call me when Jonsi went into labor. So here, all you get is this pair of stupid socks and a useless toy."
4. DS also got a powder blue Christmas stocking that read, "Baby's First Christmas." I threw it away when we got home, and here's why: Anyone who knows anything about me knows how important Christmas is to me. Also, anyone who knows anything about me also knows that like to be prepared and had already bought DS's Christmas stocking. Furthermore, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I HATE little blue stockings that say, "Baby's First Christmas." A few weeks before DS was born, NMIL had called DH to tell him that she was "so excited" because she "bought something special for when the baby was born." That lame stocking was a pretty pathetic gift when you consider the hype. It represented how very little that woman knows about me and those I love. It represented her deep-seeded desire for approval from outside-sources: Can't you just see it, Dear Reader? "Oh look at what I got my grandson, everyone! Isn't it so cute? Aren't I just so thoughtful? Christmas is just right around the corner, I'm so clever."

After handing us her useless gifts, She stayed for twenty minutes and chatted with DH about insignificant things. She instructed SIL to take photos of DS. Everything in me was screaming not to let her do that, but at the time, DH and I were still under an agreement with each other that she wouldn't lose her picture-taking privileges until I caught her in the act of abusing them.

NMIL did not speak to me that I can recall, save for a few superficial comments. I listened to her chatter at DH for a few minutes before my aunt arrived to visit. I couldn't tell if NMIL was more relieved because then she was no longer obligated to speak to me, or uncomfortable that someone else from my side was present. SIL, as per usual, symbolized a ghost-like entity, having no real substance to represent her presence in the room. I don't even recall if she held the baby, but my instincts tell me she did not. She mostly just stood in silence, acting on her mother's orders and snapping away photo after photo of our precious child. No doubt, so that NMIL could go home and upload the photos to immediately send out to all her friends as evidence that she is special.

She is not special.

She is as useless to us as her gifts were. She offers us as little as she offered us that day, or that she had ever offered us. Nothing had changed, she was as superficial as ever. She continued to prove that her way of "moving towards a healthier relationship" meant ignoring all of the problems and sweeping them under the rug. I assure you, Dear Reader, that for me, the rug was sitting atop a mountain of shit. I can only imagine what DH's pile looked like, having that useless woman in his life so much longer than me.

If you're waiting for a slam-bang finish, Dear Reader, I'm sorry to disappoint you because there isn't one. Though I haven't yet gotten us up to speed in our tale of Narcissism, I will say this: The above recollection represents the first and last time NMIL ever saw our DS.

It was the last time we saw her before going NC in April of 2011.

4 comments:

  1. Thankfully, my NPs started, as NM put it, "saving themselves the trouble of buying gifts" about ten years ago and began cutting cheques instead. Of course, then the bastards try to tell you what to spend your "gift" on!

    I happily cash these cheques because I figure I bloody well earned the money!

    Giving them gifts was even more fun. They were put down, handed back, ignored or tossed out. That's when I started taking them out to snooty restaurants but look where that just got me!

    Your NMIL is a bitch! Sounds like she's tried to destroy every joyful occasion you guys have ever had and she's too damn stupid to realize she's just shooting herself in the foot with her own son! Thankfully, her obvious attempt to drive you guys apart has just brought you closer together, so make that "dumb" bitch!

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  2. Oh, my gosh! I read the first paragraph of mulderfan's response, and gasped, "Yes!" And there is no way to MAKE them see, no way to FIX it, no way to change it, because they believe the problem is you.

    I read through with my "before" eyes, and thought, "Don't be so hard on them. They're trying." Then I re-read with my OPEN eyes, and remember the desperate need to maintain those boundaries, because narcs don't take a mile when you give them an inch, they take the whole planet.

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  3. I think gift-giving is haute narcissisme. It's passive-aggressiveness as art; a medium in which the message can be subtle yet create an extreme impact on the receiver. It takes quite some time before one can find the (black) humor in such displays. I definitely saw it here:

    If that was true, I was glad they weren't coming. If it was not true, I was glad they weren't coming.

    Furthermore, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I HATE little blue stockings that say, "Baby's First Christmas."


    Thank you for sharing these experiences, though. I think the more our stories get out to others, the more support and validation we feel.

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  4. Whew, must feel good to have the story out there and caught up to the present. What strikes me about these recent entries leading us to the present is that feeling of entrenchment - that the inklings you felt early on became full blown alarm bells, and her behavior in reaction to you sticking to your guns has been an entrenchment of her own "guns" if you will.

    What I find challenging about the inevitable fallout when you start holding your boundaries and saying "no" is that the N reaction makes what could be a mild conflict into a battle, which just leads to further entrenchment.

    It's great, though, to see you both carving out a life together free of the deceit and manipulation.

    xo
    upsi

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