Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Don't Want to be Your Obligation

A few weeks after NMIL's non-visit for the holidays, EFIL and L put in their obligatory Christmas visit with us. They ensured that they would only be able to stay for an hour, just long enough for us to open our presents, because they decided to come in the middle of a blizzard. DH told his EF he would rather reschedule the visit because he didn't feel comfortable asking them to travel in such bad weather. EF said, "No, it's fine." DH told him he wanted them to come a different day so that they wouldn't have to rush the visit. EF said, "No, it's fine."

But that was precisely it, Dear Reader, the fact that they were coming during a major blizzard was not fine. DH was not happy with it. He wanted his father to visit long enough to take off his shoes and hang up his coat. He wanted his father to want to see the babies and spend some quality time with us. He wanted his father to be safe and stay home, so that he wasn't risking his life to come and give us presents. His father didn't care about all that, he didn't care about DH's feelings. EFIL just wanted to get the visit over with. He made that clear, in his apparent unspoken rush.

So EFIL and L drove down to our house, a forty-five minute drive, in a wicked blizzard, so that they could stay for an hour and lavish us with hundreds of dollars worth of gifts. But you see, their act of gift-giving was not the same as NMIL's. Or, rather, NMIL's lack-there-of. EFIL and L give gifts simply out of obligation. I once saw their extravagant gift-giving as a means of generosity. Now, I see it as a way to shut people up. "See?" They say. "Look how much we care about you! This is six hundred dollars worth of caring!" That was all they could offer us.

Well. Six hundred dollars and a couple of underhanded comments.

You know what would have been a really great gift? A really thoughtful and meaningful one? A gift that surpassed all the others? A copy of the video they had taken at our wedding. I have a feeling we will never get that though, because we aren't worth their time.

L asked if she could look through the wedding photo album I had finally put together. "Sure," I said. I was just the tiniest bit excited that she actually expressed an interest in it. I thought that meant something.

We flipped through it. Quickly, as they were on a severe time budget.

The only thing L said? "Oh. There aren't any pictures of NMIL in here."

Well, that was annoying and intrusive. "Sure there is," I said. "There's one. Right here." And I flipped back through the pages and pointed to it. I didn't defend our right to have pictures of whomever we wanted (or didn't want) in our wedding album to L because it would have been useless - there is only one picture of NMIL in the wedding album because pictures tell a story and she wasn't part of ours. Neither DH nor I really want to recall her presence at our wedding. And, even if we had wanted to, there weren't many photos of her anyway. I had asked our photographer to focus mainly on DH and I, rather than guests. She obliged. She only took photos of guests who were in the picture with us. NMIL hadn't been in any photos with us because she hadn't actually been "present" that day. And how's this for Karma: The photographer took photos of me dancing with my father. She took photos of DH dancing with various members of my family. But when NMIL asked DH to dance, the photographer's camera overheated and she didn't get ANY of the two of them dancing.

When L finished overtly pointing out what terrible children she thinks DH and I are, we went back to the living room where DH and EFIL were talking. L wanted to take some pictures of EFIL holding the babies. She did. Then she took some of DH, EFIL, and the babies. She did not ask me to get in the picture. I don't know that excluding me was intentional on her part, but I do believe the purpose behind taking pictures in the first place was an obligatory one. I believe she only wanted a photo of EFIL and "his grandchildren" so that she could post them on her refrigerator at home as proof that they interact with us.

The snowflakes had barely evaporated from their hair before they took off. They had fulfilled their "obligation" to us.

14 comments:

  1. Now this sounds more like my father and his GF... Luckily, I might add.

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  2. Short and not so sweet. Lucky break, if you ask me!

    How did a nice guy like your DH survive being surrounded by such a dysfunctional bunch of losers? Glad he escaped their clutches at such a young age!

    The blizzard part brought back memories for me. The Friday my DH died there was a horrendous blizzard. My NPs were still driving then, but I told them to stay put because I'd lost one person I loved and didn't want to lose anyone else. With the help of a friend and my cousin, DD and I struggled with making arrangements and had the weekend from hell. By Monday everyone was back at work and I was alone.

    DH died on February 29th and the NPs finally showed up for his memorial when we scattered his ashes on the golf course...it was May 5th!

    When I once mentioned to NM I could have used some support, she replied, "You told us not to come." In retrospect, I realize they had never offered to come!

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  3. I'm impressed you knew exactly where the picture was. I'm even more impressed you put it in. I've actually cut pictures.

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  4. P.A. - I've read about your father on your blog. He's no walk in the park!

    Mulderfan - I'm still trying to figure out how DH survived having such crappy parents. I think it has something to do with his resilient nature and his amazing emotional capabilities. I think his is a case of nature vs. nurture. His nature was stronger than his nurture and it won.
    I'm sorry that the blizzard story brought back such painful memories for you. It is so terrible for me to imagine the pain you must have felt, realizing that your parents didn't care about your pain (and worse, were happy for it!) They had never offered...sounds like DH's NM alright. "You told me you didn't want help with the wedding!"
    "No, bitch, you just never offered."
    Sigh. Big hugs Mulderfan.

    Judy - It wasn't my picture to dispose of, though I wanted to. I'm thinking someday, when DH gets in touch more with his anger, he'll be the one to go through and take that photo out and rip it up. Believe me, I didn't want it there. I put it in the album because I thought DH would feel hurt if I didn't. It's for him to take it out if he wants to.

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  5. DH & I are so fed the FUCK up with the idea of birthday and holiday gifts as simple wealth transfers - "ok tell me what you want and I'll buy it" is NOT thoughtful. The amount it cost is NOT the point. Annoying! The other day, DH joked "we should just add it up for the rest of the years and pay each other the difference so we'll be even for the rest of our lives and not have to worry about gifts anymore if that's how they're gonna be!"

    Sad to hear that it was so stiff and rushed. I don't know which is worse, NMIL's controlling terms or EF/L's meaningless forced ones...

    xo
    upsi

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  6. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing to keep, for that day when the anger is gone because it doesn't matter anymore... Being angry at the parents is a double-edged sword. After all, they each contributed half the DNA. It bothered me that by hating them I felt like I hated me, especially when people would tell me how much I was like my NM, which they meant as a compliment, but they didn't know the private NM. And I saw a lot of her in me. A huge amount of work helped me disentangle my emotional dependence, and that actually helped the anger dissipate.

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  7. Mulderfan, that's heartbreaking! But not having them there for "support" was certainly the less horrible option.

    Jonsi, I agree, but I'm sure you can appreciate how, when you're dealing with a narc, being treated like you're a social obligation he can barely be bothered with beats being treated like you're the missing piece of his heart which he must get back whatever the cost!

    My father did the exact same thing once - came in the middle of a blizzard to bring gifts, two hours too late, with his GF, and then seemed offended, though not really upset, that DD had other plans later on, and he only had a hour or so with her. The only difference is that his GF bought the nice gifts. He seems to go out of his way to bring horrible gifts that we must throw away.

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  8. Upsi - Wealth transfer is exactly what EFIL and L do. They ask us what we want and then go out and get it for us. It takes the thoughtfulness right out of the gift giving. When I first learned that was how they gave gifts, I was very uncomfortable with asking for things. I would much rather their "gifts" be their time, their effort, their respect. Eventually, I have a feeling they'll stop with the monetary gifts too, when they realize they aren't getting their way.

    Judy - Either way, I'm leaving the picture deboggle up to DH to decide. If he wants to get angry, it's his right to feel that way. There is a part of me that hopes he does. I think if he got really angry with his parents, he might actually feel better in the long run and stop blaming himself for their bad behaviors and poor parenting.

    PA - I can see what you mean. In some ways, EFIL and L are the lesser of two evils. You're right, EFIL puts up a hell of a lot less of a fight when it comes to "wanting DH back." He never really seemed to want him from the beginning.

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  9. Yeah, my father seems not to have wanted me at all eiher, once I was out of the perfect little doll stage. That is indeed the more convenient option. It still sucks, but it's the lesser of two evils for sure.

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  10. Judy I don't think hating them means you hate yourself. you hate THEM. and i dont think DNA has anything to do with it. cause i think narcissism is some kind of horrible accident, not something you inherit. it's not a part of you. it's some kind of epidemic of cruelty that fucks people up. i mean come on, they do HATEABLE things. theres really nothing to like about them. everything they do is mean and sour and wrong and annoying and causes all my hair to stand up. you have to hate them and the things they do. if theyre not the perfect example of something to hate and be against, i dont know what is.
    i swear sometimes i feel murderous towards them. i want to kill them. but i can't do that. and i probably wont cause they're so not worth it and i would feel very bad and i know i dont really want to. i don't because i'm just not one of them! simple as that. they're gross.

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  11. How "convenient" not only in terms of the timing, but the additional narc supply: "Look at the LENGTHS we went to to ensure we were able to make sure our DS (your husband and of course, indirectly YOU, little agent of-horror of horrors-HONESTY/normalcy) would be indebted to us! We traveled through a BLIZZARD to get there! See how self-sacrifing we are! ANYTHING for "family!"

    Please pardon me while I choke down the disingenuousness of his foos crap. Woman you are a delightful "terrorist" to the narc family system, a joy to your FOC and a joy to follow in your blog!

    Thank whoever, coming from a totally evil narcmother to an island of sanity called my late DH: It's the support and unconditional love from our partners who see reality clearly, support and encourage us, understand the dynamics and our struggles as we release ourselves from these perverted family systems.

    Tell it!!

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  12. Lisa: I have to agree with this - "i think narcissism is some kind of horrible accident, not something you inherit"

    Anon - Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I think the point you make about EFIL and L's feigned interest in our lives being all about their over-inflated egos and need for attention makes so much sense. Thanks for reading. I'll keep telling it like it is!

    Hugs to all,

    Jonsi

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  13. My parents are just the same. It has hurt me for so long...they don't want to exert any kind of effort at all to be a part of my life. I don't understand and I wish I could change it. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  14. Anon - I'm very sorry to hear that your parents won't put in the effort to be a healthy part of your life. That's incredibly heartbreaking. Know that you are worth so much more than that. I've been finding, more and more, that there are a lot of really amazing people out in the world who had horrible, crappy parents. You're worth more than what your parents could (or couldn't) give you.

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