Monday, May 13, 2024

Parental narcissitic abuse at birthdays and holidays: so much hypocrisy, toxic shame and gaslighting

 


Hello friends, lots going on around here, as I source the toxic shame and CPTSD from bio parents and two stepparents and their new families. Yesterday was Mother's Day and it was  hellish for me. Not because of my husband or children. They're the joy of my life. The pain came from the fact that I didn't have a mother or father.  Only demanding, parentifying, exploiting, abusing, shaming, neglectful, manipulative, gaslighting authority figures. It brought up very unpleasant memories and realizations that their combined narcissistic abuse was particularly bad around holidays and birthdays and celebrations. 

The disparity between how I was celebrated (not at all, really) and how I was expected to celebrate others, particularly their golden kids, is appalling. I don't remember my birthdays being made much of a deal except by grandparents. There's a picture of me at two with my cake while my mom has inserted herself, posing and  my dad basically has my arms behind my back in a death grip. 

I recall one party only at the beach (no dad or his other family). Mom is running around in her bikini. That was a fun party. However, I was throwing and hosting parties for my parents by age 11. I recall my dad saying he wasn't going to make a deal over me because he wanted me to stay humble. While he and his wife had lavish birthday parties every year for their boys. 

My mother has actually told me that she spends tons more on my sister than me. She wants me to know, I guess, how little I'm valued. A few years ago, I got a shirt from a free table from one of her food pantry visits. Yes, they live off food pantries. It was too big, wrinkled, unwashed and still smelled like a thrift store. I was informed that sis got a new laptop. I'd given her flowers, expensive chocolates, and a new phone. Which she promptly lost. 

For one birthday, I'd taken her to the doc and she was asked what she was doing for her birthday. In front of me, she said "my family is taking me out to dinner." I was not invited and never have been. I was told that I could take her out to lunch in a day or two,  for her birthday, as she knew I had to get to work. For my birthday that year, I got a text with emojis. 

I was not invited, as in a guest to their parties. I was expected to attend every party and bring big, pricy gifts which I could not afford and didn't have time for, being in college and working full time.  I recall them getting annoyed when I brought a homemade gift. And another time when I was unable to be present due to time constraints. My dad was really pissed off about that. So in guilt I rearranged and made it work. Both he and his wife were very cool with me. My grandma, (God love her) said snarkily to me, "you'd think it was a holy day of obligation." It was. 

Christmas was really rough. I recall my dad screaming at me because I went to try on my new sweater from gram and gramp after dutifully asking his wife. I missed a few moments of the elders opening their gifts. Mind you the other kids were off playing their toys and not paying any attention to the elders. Grama chimed in and told him to chill but I was already in tears. No apology ever from him. 

I thought maybe I was misremembering but my husband whom I was dating remembers them making enormous deals over their other kids birthdays and nothing over mine. They even did it to my eldest daughter who had the temerity to be born a day after my bro St. "Mike". We celebrated their birthdays together ( he was 10 and she was 2) and his nibs pouted and sulked the whole day because Molly got some attention that he felt he was due. 

My father scolded me for having a group party because Mikey was left out. He wasn't. And the party wasn't just my idea. I  guess I was supposed to feel guilty because people wanted to celebrate my sweet little girl. My husband was so angry that he vowed to boycott all future parties involving their kids. I was so proud. Wish I'd had the courage to do that. 

The weirdest time was one I just remembered and had never considered. When I was 14, my dad and stepmom gave me a slot car set. I hadn't asked for it. It was okay but certainly  not what I wanted and not an appropriate gift for my age. Of course their boys were always pestering me to play with it. And I had to set it up for them and play with them. I just realized a month or so ago  that they had spent all the money they had for their boys gifts but still wanted to get them this race car set. So they just gave to me, expecting me to "share" it. And they got bonus added hours of free babysitting too. I gave it to them after a year or so. Which is probably what their parents expected anyway. 

I was gaslit about that for years and gaslit myself. My dad was pretty misogynistic and not one to get boys gifts for girls. In fact, he had an awesome Lionel train from when he was a kid that I would have loved to play with. I've always loved trains. He never let me play with or even encouraged me to take part. It was just him and grampa. Grampa was the one who let me use it when dad wasn't around. 

But I got the last word. Mikey, who had been entitled and catered to so much, grew up to be an adult baby who doesn't take care of his kids, lives off welfare, doesn't work and spends all his time and money on his hobbies. I say his  money but actually it was Dad's money. He sold off most of his stuff to fund Mike's hobbies and gave him money every day for $13 cigars. (He didn't even know my grandchildren's names). 

When Dad passed I asked for the train set. Mike had taken pretty much everything else that was left (family silver, coins, guns) and didn't want  me to have even the train. There was only the engine, coal car and a few pieces of track. Dad had sold off the rest so Mike could buy his axe heads. Yes he had an axe head collection. Don't ask my why. Kind of like Bert from Sesame Street and his paper clip collection. Only more expensive.

Well, I got the train and it was with great delight that I passed it on to my grandson, who adores steam trains more than life itself. And I enjoy playing trains with him. Is it enough to make up for being left out all those years.  Yes and no. The past will never be any different than it was. But I can change the now. I do things differently than was done to me. Not prefectly, but to the best of my ability. 

And my real family, my husband, children and grandchildren, make up for it every moment of every day, as Mister Rodgers says, "by just their being themselves." 

 

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