Dysfunctional Family Christmas and Giving the Wrong Gift




dysfunctional family christmas
the wrong gift

The Ghost of Dysfunctional Christmas Past ~ Part 2

How come I could NEVER find the right gift for my Mother? I never seemed to be able to make her happy. My Christmas gifts  as well as any other gifts I found for her never had the desired effect one wants when giving a gift to someone.

There was always this disappointment she showed when she opened a gift from me. Her face would fall. She would look uncomfortable. She wouldn’t say much about whatever I had chosen for her. I agonized over what I would get her, and then I worried about it until the day I gave it to her. I dreaded her reaction. I guess I was hoping that her face would light up. I was hoping for approval.

I got so that I HATED thinking about what she might like for a gift and what I should get her. There was so much anxiety around gift giving that I couldn’t actually concentrate on the celebration itself. There was so much “obligation” around all these events that I didn’t understand back then.

My mother never made it easy for me by pointing out or mentioning a specific gift she wanted. It was as if my “guessing what the right gift would be to get for her” was part of what would make her happy. It was a though if she “told” me what she wanted, that would ruin it. In order for the gift to be “special”, I had to come up with the idea on my own, or be a mind reader.

My mother collects Royal Doulton Figurines. Not the cheap kind either. The ones she likes cost upwards of $250.00 each. One year I decided to get her one. It was a lot of money but I really wanted to make her happy.

It worked. She loved it. FINALLY I had done something right after YEARS of giving her a disappointing gift and feeling like I had let my mom down. Her face lit up! She approved! It was an exhilarating feeling of success for me!

There was only one other time I recall where my mother was pleased with me choice of gift for her. It was when I sent her a huge amount of roses to correspond with the number of years she had reached on her birthday. (I can’t remember which birthday, but I know it was over 60)  

When I began my journey out of the foggy darkness, I realized that my Mother sees gifts as a reflection of “love” or a measurement of love.  Gifts “prove” her value. If the giver spends a lot then the giver recognizes her value. Gifts define her. It isn’t the thought that counts in her mind. In addition to that, it’s not only about money and the monetary value of the gift but how well the giver has “guessed” what would please her.  When the relationship is dysfunctional however, it is really hard to guess the right gift.

It seems as though according to her belief system, the gift actually “proves” her worth. The gift proves the givers love and understanding of her.

There is another side of this picture. My mother didn’t give gifts to me in the same way she wanted to receive them for herself. Once again this is an example of how controlling and manipulative people live by two different sets of rules.  The rules that apply to her, and the rules that apply to others.  I always say that narcissistic, controlling and manipulative people don’t ‘love’ by the same rules that they demand love. If my gifts to her defined my love for her and her worth in my eyes then I thought it would stand to reason that the same was true for her when she gave a gift to me. 

When it came to me and the gifts that my mother would choose for me, the gifts always seemed practical or convenient.  She hated those kinds of gifts for herself, but she bought them for me. It seems odd to me that she would buy me gifts that would have disappointed her; gifts that would have “defined her” as less than worthy of a major splurge gift.

In the fog of dysfunctional mother daughter relationship, I could not sort this out.

If my gifts to my mother defined or proved my love for her and made a statement TO her about HER worth in my eyes then it would stand to reason that the same was true for her when she gave a gift to me.

Today I realize that her gifts to me were in fact another way of keeping me defined as less valuable than she was.  Upon closer examination, if my gifts defined my love for her and her worth in my eyes, than judging by the gifts she chose for me, it would stand to reason the same belief actually WAS true for her.  In truth, she was giving me gifts according to her own belief system. She believed that I was not worthy of thought and consideration in the way that I had to prove she was worthy of thought and consideration.

Her double standard (in her view) wasn’t odd at all. It was actually a truth leak about the way she regarded me as “less” than herself.

And in some dysfunctional families, this devaluing belief system is reflected differently for each child! In other words, one child gets the best and most expensive gift imaginable while the other child gets socks.

I don’t miss any of that stuff anymore. I don’t miss the anxiety of choosing a gift for her; I don’t miss bracing myself for the reaction from her; I don’t miss her disappointment or her false definition of love that wrapped around the whole Mothers day, birthday, and Christmas gift giving thing.

It took me years to get over my fear of giving the wrong gift. It took me years to get over my fear of opening gifts too.  I was so afraid that I would react the way that my mother did, I was more focused on my reaction to a gift than I was ON the gift itself! Once I found the truth at the roots of those fears, each passing year has become easier. I don’t buy gifts OR give gifts out of obligation anymore. I don’t believe gifts are a measurement of love. And since my definition of love has been redefined and I know what LOVE is and what LOVE is not, I don’t live under those two different sets of rules anymore either.

I welcome your comments. Please feel free to share.

Happy Holidays everyone; Bright blessings, hugs and squishes to all;

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts ~Part one to this post ~ Dysfunctional Family Christmas and Being Alone

 The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


119 response to "Dysfunctional Family Christmas and Giving the Wrong Gift"

  1. By: Pam Posted: 30th December

    Mimi, I guess that’s why I’m here because here, I’m not alone.:0)I heard from one neice this year and it was a Christmas Newsletter. I lost my whole family when I required my parents and sister to treat me with respect. No one has talked to me or asked for my side of the story. It was the same way when I was a teenager and a pedophile talked me into leaving home and living with him. No one pursued me, no one even checked into who I was with even though it would have been very easy for them to do so. Everyone waited for me to call and if I’d have been murdered, no one would have known or bothered to find out. Eventually, I did reconnect with my family back then and no one cared about what had happened to me, what I’d been through, it was all about my poor mother. I’m sure it’s that way now. In our last conversation, I asked her why she didn’t try to save me from that man and she said it was because she didn’t have a driver’s license. She said that someone would have come to get me if I would have asked. If the creep would have killed me, there would be no possibility of my asking but that never crosses her mind. In her mind, I did it all to hurt her because it is all about her. She said I need to forgive, Billy. My sister said he was just a young man confused by the sexual revolution. A confused 28 year old, divorced, with a child, working in a porn theatre and sold drugs, seduced by a 15 (almost 16)year old. I’m sure my mom had a great Christmas, sucking up the sympathy. That’s what she used me for from the time I was born. I was too small, sick and such a burden. Poor Charlotte. She did so much to take care of that girl and look at how she was treated by her. The little whore. Now she can’t forgive and leave the past behind. Poor, poor Charlotte. Sorry, I can just hear them and it makes me angry. I hope by next Christmas, I’m not even thinking of them. I know they’ve never really thought about me. It is good to finally have that certainty but it still hurts sometimes. Thanks for letting me vent.:0)


  2. By: J Posted: 30th December

    Hi Joy,

    what a nice xmas surprise!! 🙂 hope all went well on the trip (v.happy to hear about it if you want to talk about it; but no prob if not)

    super-late here (as usual!) but saw your msg in my email so wanted to pop on quickly to say hi & wish you merry xmas & happy new year!

    talk soon

    PS I’ve got a place to move of my own – still moving stuff (bit scared of it but excited too!) can’t remember if you were still around when that happened now?!

    hope you’re doing really well!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th December

      Hi Everyone!
      I just published my last post for 2011. (I will publish one for New Years Day) I can’t believe that my second full year of Emerging from Broken is coming to a close!
      My new post is about Self Esteem and how we learn it. Where it comes from and the how I got mine back.
      I look forward to the conversation! Please read it here and feel free to share it: Self Esteem ~ How did you learn YOUR importance?
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Mimi Posted: 30th December

    Welcome back. I hope all went well on your trip. I’m happy you’ve decided to post again. I always liked reading your comments and your tender nature always shined through.

    I might have mentioned this already but it was my first Christmas without my mother. I saw one sister and her family, and the family only of my other sister. It was peaceful and fun. I didn’t have that dread of going to mom’s that I didn’t even know I had until this year when the dread was absent. I have sent my mother a thank you email for the gifts because we did still exchange gifts. She has not responded. She’s angry because my middle sister spent one night at my house I think. I’m not sure. My family’s such a mess right now, I don’t really know what she’s up to. Oh well!!
    love and blessings everyone,

  4. By: Pam Posted: 30th December

    Hi Joy, I’m glad you’re back. I’m always relieved when the holidays are over. However, this Christmas with my kids and grandkids was really nice. It was the first Christmas with no contact from my family of origin. I tried to block it out but it still krept in. It was a nicer day without them but I guess I’ll always have regrets for what could never be. I hope by next Christmas, we’ll both be able to stay in the moment and have more healthy relationships in our lives.


  5. By: mary Posted: 30th December

    I am going to give myself a gift this new year and be more assertive when it comes to any abuse from anybody. To learn to address it then and there and not shut down. Let joy in and get the stink out. Give myself time to get to know people at my own pace and not get down on myself on the days I find that hard to do. I have been through a lot and I need allow myself the grace and peace to sort it out as much as I can, I deserve it!
    I am going to garden more and meditate in it. I am going to do more art and writing and help my spirit vibrate! I am going to do all I can do to feed and restore my soul so I have strength to handle negative situations better.
    I am going to gift myself back to myself, the me from me has been taken from me too long. My true indentity is to have peace and harmony and I am determined to have that. I will allow no one in my personal space who can rob me of my soul again.
    I have worked hard to get here and want to continue to climb upward.
    I want to fill my life to crowd out and not leave room for past crap as much as I can. I want to leave behind what isn’t and never was, a healthy family of my origins.
    I disinherit all that is evil in my lineage. The sad, mad family story is over. Time to turn the page and live the rest of my life out on my terms.
    Not being left an inhertance did me a favor. It allowed me to finally cut the cord.
    I will let sadness melt into gladness. That I don’t have to be part of an illusion anymore or look at the mirror they held up of my image trying to make me see what they tried to force me to see. It was all in their minds to let themselves off easy.
    I was a child and they were wrong!
    I will give the child me all the nurturing I need and heal one day at a time.
    I am going to find my potential that has been stifled for one reason or another. I will not self-sabotage!
    I am done with evil!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th December

      Hi Mary
      I love your attitude! I love that you are going to gift yourself back to you! I love all the wonderful self loving points you have posted here!
      YaY and thanks for sharing this!
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: joy Posted: 30th December

    Hi Darlene..

    Merry CHristmas..and Happy New Year.. I have decided to come again..hopes its alright.. this topic hits home very much. I can relate to the dysfunctional creeping into Christmas..

    I had the most quiet Christmas of all. Not one call.. Me and my cats danced around and celebrated Christmas as only we can..

    About the gifts.Till about last year, I was taken up in the hustle and bustle that everyone gets involved in with this holiday ..but never seemed to come out the better.

    No matter what gift I would buy for my mother.. while I was still in all that dysfunction.. was enough .. never was good enough..never could compare what my lawyer sister or rich electrician brother bought her. she was sure to point out the price tags to me and tell me how cheap I was ..

    IF I sent her flowers.. they made her sneeze. IF they were fake flowers.. they were crumpled. If it was fruit. .it was all dented. This was her reply. She would always add to her complaints that she doesn’t want anything from the daughter she never wanted.

    Christmas continues to be a very triggering time for me as while all can’t wait to see what they would get .. i was waiting to see if I was able to give a gift she.. my mother would like. I never could.

    Her gifts to me were clothing or other. never anything I would want to wear but always something she insisted I wear. Mom wanted me to always be ridiculed so she bought me things that were not popular for our times..

    Hugs love and prayers


    Dear J..

    Want to let you know I got your greetings.. I have been hiding away dealing with stuff of life and trying to get some of my health back from the trip..I appreciate your thoughts and after much thought on my part decided I want to post here again. i have lots of friends.. . nothing wrong with having friends who get what I have been through



    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th December

      Hi Tracy
      Thank you for sharing. I can relate to your comments. Awareness around this issue is what set me free, but it took several years so hang in there. This year was the best one yet. I felt tremendous excitement about both giving and accepting gifts from my husband and our kids. I was not anxious when I opened mine or when they opened theirs. Last year was the first year that I noticed a huge improvement in myself, but this year I finally didn’t really “think” about the whole thing and I noticed new things this year. Our kids were all very excited about the giving part of this holiday season.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Joy
      Welcome back! I am so happy to see you again. Thank you for sharing about your christmas and gift giving exp. I am really happy to be rid of the anxiety of the dysfunctional, never good enough stuff that I lived with in my family or origin. Christmas was a triggering time for me for a long time but finally (as I said above) I am totally free of all that stuff from the past and I have loved Christmas the past three years!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Tracy Posted: 30th December

    I can really relate to this. No gift I gave was ever good enough. Of course I had to love everything I got, or else. Gifting to my family members was strictly enforced – I was required to spend a set amount on each family member, even though the same requirement was never imposed on any one else in the family, especially when it came to me. Of course “I” created the added burden of having the nerve of being born during the holidays, so it was my fault anyways (I mean this sarcastically – though that’s sure how it made me feel). The last Christmas and birthday gifts from my Mother was about when I was 10 or so – junk that no one wanted, or she possibly stole, I don’t know. I have a lot of bitterness about the whole gift thing.
    Gift giving always sends me into anxiety attacks. Will they like it? What will they say? etc. Though these days I only give handcrafted gifts to friends – but I’m always wracked with anxiety over their reactions, or more accurately, what I imagine that their reaction will be. No matter the overwhelming positives from my friends, I just can’t shake the almost paralyzing fear I have about gift giving.

  8. By: Kate Posted: 29th December

    My sister’s big thing is outdoing by giving x-mas and birthday gifts. I cannot afford to compete. So it is irritating. I just gave my parents pretty new lap throws while she got them cell phones. My dad will take that from her, after decades of “damning” the cell phones and putting me down for mine. (I don’t dispute the need of having cell phones.
    She literally planned a beautiful plant-center piece to arrive at our home the day that my adult children were arriving because it would make HER look good! I will send her a belated gift of a bottle of lotion and bath gel made by my friend who does aromatherapy products. She wrote asked about my “Christmas” saying that she played in the handbell choir (sore point with me–she knows I don’t go to church anymore due to abuse) and I wrote back and said that I sang a solo, O Holy Night, in the cathedral with a relative who is an organ performer. She had no more comments. (Of course, it was the wrong denomination–they are anti-catholic) She gets a lo tof information from my kids and my mom, and then writes me and asks for the same information, and I know she already knows the answers. I say little, and for once, have learned to talk about ME, not others.

  9. By: Mimi Posted: 29th December

    I simply love to laugh so I always welcome humor. I find it in nearly any situation, even inappropriate ones; then I try to contain myself at least a little. I’ve actually had to sort of put the brakes on at times when there’s tension, so I can realize the depth of the events or emotions at hand, or not cause hurt feelings because I tried to take the lighter road. Hope that makes sense??

    Jeez, I commend you for enduring that without having a “high speed come apart”! (that’s what we call it in our house). I think I even felt a bit of anger for you at the disregard and horrible words of your siblings. I’m sorry it hurts so much. And, it does hurt incredibly. I’m the youngest and the black sheep ~ I feel pain from it and that’s likely why I felt a little anger reading your post. The pain I’ve felt from situations like this is excruciating. And, life changing. I wonder if I’ll ever view myself as a loved human being that’s deserving of respect. I can talk a good game, but deep down, I still linger in the pain of these kinds of scenarios. Not always, but it’s so much brainwashing to reverse, sometimes it feels overwhelming. Love to you Mary!
    blessings all,

  10. By: Brenda Posted: 29th December

    3 gifts stand out. A mother’s day gift for her and my mother in law. Mom is a large person, MIL much smaller. On clearance I found a very cute blouse for MIL. I spent full price on one for Mom, but it was not as cute. I tried, but size won over cuteness that year. My mother bitched and complained that I loved MIL more than her cause her top was cuter.

    A BD gift for me. A 3.50 sweater on clearance in an ugly gray/green color. A Christmas gift I had to share with my grandmother (I lived with at the time)—a stainless steel garbage can for the kitchen. Exciting, and then, I had to share it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th December

      Welcome to EFB. Wow. this is exactly what we are talking about.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: FoggedIn Posted: 29th December

    I laughed out loud at your comment ‘she taught me love was finding the perfect gift’ that’s so true! I feel myself in that trap all the time. It’s gotten me in financial schtook that false truth!

    J – you made me smile with your answer to Mary – i use humour to cope and self flagulate so I get your wave length 🙂

  12. By: Mimi Posted: 29th December

    BTW, I want to reinforce that although it’s been tough to find genuine people face to face and where I live, it’s been a TREMENDOUS relief to find them here. I hope I didn’t negate anything or anyone here with my statement above. I truly love this blog, and have found such genuine people here whom I’ve come to depend on like great new friends. Just wanted to point that out!!
    And, thanks for all you do Darlene!!
    Much love to everyone,

  13. By: J Posted: 29th December


    I forgot to write earlier – the part about your brother saying “you’re next!” really got to me. There were many quite descriptive words that sprang into my mind upon reading that, but I’ll be good for once & self-censor instead of writing them 🙂

    I just re-read your post – hadn’t noticed the extreme generosity (eg underwear offer).

    Your story from childhood also took me back to a song from my christian days that was actually called “dandelions” weirdly enough (don’t remember lyrics too well, but was basically the “Disney” version of your story, shall we say… well, except with a christian slant, so perhaps “veggie tales” version would be more appropriate?!)

    Hmmmm…. anyway enough random memories from me.

    And once again, I nearly forgot to add my congrats on your upcoming “grandma-ness”! 🙂

  14. By: J Posted: 29th December

    Glad to hear it Mimi – thanks for taking the time to say it! 🙂

    Seeing as my comment was Simpsons-inspired, I just thought of the one where Homer becomes friends w/Ned and yells out from the front row at church, “Hey Flanders! I saved us some kick-ass seats!!” (That always cracks me up!)

    Also when Bart substitutes Iron Butterfly’s “Inna-Gadda-da-Vida” for the organist’s hymn music – Reverend Lovejoy saying, “Now we have ‘In the Garden of Eden’ by I. Ron Butterfly”, cut to 17 minutes later the elderly organist passing out cold!

    Ok enough Simpsons/church jokes – this’ll probably be a looong post otherwise!

    Personal note – took more stuff into my new place today! Now got a bunch of dvd’s and some books in there. Getting closer! 🙂 Moving in soon was actually what my father was nagging me about in my earlier post (when he’d just woken up & I still hadn’t been to sleep). Was roughly the last thing I needed; but proud of myself I haven’t used it as an excuse to NOT do anything (far too easy to do sometimes).

    Hope everyone’s doing well!

    PS Mimi, forgot to mention above the feeling is mutual! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    ha, I think I’m gonna be the frontrunner for the “smily abuse” award 2012! BRING IT ON!!!

  15. By: Mimi Posted: 29th December

    Thanks for making me SMILE!!! You often do!!

    You’re welcome. I sure hope 2012 is better for all of us!!

    Love and peace,

  16. By: Pam Posted: 29th December

    Mimi, Thanks for your sweet reply to my comment. I’m better this morning. My healthiest relationship (other than my husband) is a friend from highschool, also. I knew her before the sexual abuse so I think the boundaries we set were healthier than in most of my relationships after. I really had no self-protection after that and any good friendships depended on the other person respecting me because they were respectful people. Like my husband. There is very little common respect in the world.

    Robin, I wasn’t raised as a Christian but I think my kids felt what you feel. Somehow, I led them to believe that people in the world respond to love and kindness in a positive way when often, they just take advantage. They sure weren’t nice to Jesus! I don’t know why we expect more but we do.

    I’ve known those emotional vampires too and they are the most difficult to deal with because they hurt for the joy of it. In a way, I think they are doing much the same thing that people who cut themselves do. They need pain to remind themselves that they are alive because they are emotionally numbed out.

    Jesus said we need to be as wise as the serpent and as innocent as a dove. It’s hard to maintain that balance. I think there are peole in the world that we should treat lovingly but with the love God gives us rather than an investment of our own heart. I think if we fully invest our heart in God, He’ll give us what we need to protect ourselves and not become like those who hurt us. Anyway, that’s what I’m working on. I’m babbling a bit. Somedays, I’m just tired of it all but that will pass I know this is a stage I’m going through and I will begin to reconnect to people and hopefully, when I do, I won’t be like an innocent dove with no wisdom about evil. I think I finally get it. I’m just a little nerveous about putting it in to practice.

    Thanks to both of you for sharing your hearts with me. The love and respect you’ve shown in your comments go a long way to reassuring me that there are loving people in the world.:0)


  17. By: Robin Posted: 29th December

    Hi everyone!

    Thanks to everyone for your support. Everyone’s responses were very helpful.

    Emma, I loved what you said about really living by feeling. It made perfect sense. I have felt quite often that I didn’t have the right to really live. Everyone around me made me feel like my life was a privilege that they allowed me and that I was a great imposition on them. But I’ve realized that God gave me the gift of life and only He can say I don’t deserve it, which He’d never say. People don’t have the right to limit me in any way and I see that now.

    Darlene, you were right. Out of these feelings of anger and hatred I feel like my life is more in my control because I’m not just floating around in the fog. It’s painful and strange to feel all of this but I’m just going to let myself feel. Numbness is no way to live.

    Pam, our experiences sound very similar. I’ve felt the aches and pain all over and everytime I do I know that I’ve turned my anger inward. Sometimes I try to transfer the anger I feel toward those who abuse me anywhere but where it belongs just because it feels safer to do so. But when I feel that pain I remind myself of who I’m really angry at and I tell myself that I’m entitled to my anger and the pain usually goes away.

    I also find that the abuse comes from every direction like you described and the wounds keep being inflicted and it seems like I can’t get away from it. But I noticed that people who want to hurt me do so when they sense that I’m open. If I’m more closed off and less friendly (which goes so against my christian upbringing) people don’t feel as free to attack me.

    Just yesterday my boss who is abusive came in and I kept waiting for him to give me my assignment, but he started small talking. For a while I was closed off and gave one word answers to his pointless questions, but then we began talking about movies we had seen recently and I opened up and let my guard down. As soon as I did that my boss started talking about work and all of these things he wanted me to do, but none of it was important or urgent and it turned out we can’t complete anything until Friday. It’s kind of hard to describe what happened, emotional abuse can be so hard to define, but the whole thing was about control. It angered me that he wouldn’t just get to the point. Instead he pretended friendliness and manipulated me emotionally. I believe that he likes to engage in what psychologists call emotional vampirism where people feed off of your negative emotions. He is always trying to evoke an emotional response in me when my emotions have nothing to do with work. When he asks me to do something I get right up to do it and he’ll stop me and ask, “is this okay?” What am I going to say, no? He’ll ask me 4 or 5 times until I’m frustrated with it and then he’ll walk away. That jerk!

    I really think that growing up in a christian environment makes us more vulnerable because we want to believe the best in people and believe that it’s good to help people, but the truth is people do not deserve the benefit of the doubt and are inherently evil. On a previous post someone mentioned a website that listed types of control that people use. On that same website there is an article about the Harvard Project. It was very interesting and showed how easily people can justify hurting other people.

    Wow…this is a very long comment. 🙂

  18. By: J Posted: 29th December


    don’t tell me you forgot the 11th commandment – “thou shalt not take advantage of shopping discounts”?? (I believe it’s written somewhere in the back) 🙂

    Very sorry to hear about your sister. I really admire what oyu said about not being in the dark still, but obviously doesn’t stop it from stinging like a b*tch. Thinking of you.

    That’s really cool though about your old schoolfriends – especially the timing of it! 🙂

    take care of yourself, and I’ll throw in a “hear hear!” for everyone in terms of finding healthy, positive relationships in the new year (and beyond!)

  19. By: Mimi Posted: 29th December

    I’ve felt that too. You’re not alone. I’ve felt all out anger hanging around in my mind for days on end as well. It stinks, and at the time, I had little control it seemed. My outlet has become writing. It somehow lifts weight off me like magic. I don’t necessarily feel it at the time, but within the next day or so, I can feel my spirit is markedly lighter. I’m just recently realizing if I don’t write, (particularly if I’m in mental anguish or emotional pain) I can be more fragile, angry, emotional, etc. I don’t want to bleed on people around me who aren’t involved. Writing has helped me control the bleeding. I welcome that too. I hope you find some peace soon. I can’t stand it when I’m brimming with anger and hatred! It darkens the days for sure!

  20. By: Mimi Posted: 28th December

    Hi All!
    Of course, I find myself with a gifting story as well. Similar to others, my mother judged gifts by how much a person (me) likely spent, and heaven forbid I got it on clearance. Which incidentally, I never did because heaven forbids it, apparently. She has actually come down a notch or two on the unspoken demands as she’s aged. I think the truth is, she’s a thrifty shopper when it comes to buying for others (not for herself however), so how can she condemn others for being the same way. I remember one Christmas my sister who was a new young bride at the time, got a royal ripping by my mother for buying some clearance items for Christmas gifts. My mother told her how selfish she was because she had just bought herself a nice camera a few months before Christmas. In my eyes, it’s entirely anyone’s prerogative how they choose to spend their money. Who really has a right to dictate that?? What’s mine is mine ~ Period!! It’s me who has the privelege of deciding what I do with it. (For the record, I’m just solidifying this in my mind which is largely the purpose for saying it!) I would like to add that, although what’s mine is mine, I try to be as generous as possible. My mother was anything but generous, so, I make purposeful efforts at doing the polar opposite of what my mother would do, in nearly any situation!! OOOPS, I just realized I referred to my mother in past tense, as if she’s dead. She is not. She’s alive and well, and still very stingy!! 🙂

    I get discouraged too at the lack of truly good people in the world. I have very few close relationships/friends. And, the ones I do have are people I grew up with from elementary school onward. Our roots run very deep and are interconnected it seems. I find it difficult to meet new people who are genuine, trustworthy, empathetic, sincere, etc. I am blessed to have come from a very small town/school. Only 60 students in my class and we were a very tight group. My 25 year class reunion was this past fall and it was such a welcome relief that we could get together as if not a day had passed. It really did help me realize there are still good people left; my root people. The reunion came right on the heals of my very very best friend (my oldest sister) and I having a falling out. I’ve really lost her altogether. We spoke nearly every day. Now, not at all really. She moved 500 miles away in the fall also. We used to do a lot of stuff together. She was my greatest treasure. I cry as I type. I miss her so much. She was here for the Christmas Holiday. I didn’t see her at all. As I write, she’s traveling back to her home 500 miles away (from what my other sister said anyway). Her kids and husband came to my house on Christmas eve for a few hours. She did not join them. It’s really okay, just a few remnants of emotion that still hang on. I would rather know the truth and wade through the junk that accompanies that truth, than be in the dark still, and I was in the dark; sort of snowed by her. Pam, I hope in 2012 you will be blessed with some new relationships that are fulfilling; with people who respect your boundaries. I hope it for me too. 🙂

  21. By: FoggedIn Posted: 28th December

    The gift thing is bonkers isn’t it. It’s like life is all about walking the tight rope with my mum. I recall several painful occasions where I had chosen a gift for her and had her basically turn her nose up while looking down it at me and scoff.

    When I was about 5 I brought her a blown glass fish ornament. I’ll admit it was kinda ugly (now that I look back) but mum hated it, and made that clear. As a newly out of the home teenager I made her a card full of photos and gushy statements (I admit I wrote them for her benefit and to pelase her, they were all things I knew she thought I SHOULD feel but I didn’t feel them in my heart)she looked at me like I’d slapped her and she was wondering if this really was IT. She’s actually kept this card and trotted it out to me recently to show she’d kept it…that was nice I guess…funny that I only saw it as ‘that card I made to shut her up on Mothers day’.

    Then later on in life working minimum wage and living in a rented property by myself I had stretched myself to buy her what I thought was a beautiful broach. Silly me – it was made of silver and paua and she hated it. She looked blankly at me and then said, you know I hate paua…I thought she hated paua jewellery, as in necklases and earrings. I’d picked it because she’s into wearing flouncy scarves and the colours she tends to wear I thought would look really pretty wih the broach. She told me to take it and get my money back. EFF YOU I THOUGHT.

    I’ve always had trouble buying her presents and I always felt anxious handing them over. Thankfully really this is no longer an issue. She doesn’t buy me presents anymore for my birthday or christmas because she says ‘it means I don’t feel pressured to buy her anything’ – I know it’s actually because she hated the gifts I was giving and didn’t feel they measured up the ‘quality gifts’ she could afford to buy for me.

    What’s odd about the gift thing too is that I was trained to NOT show any kind of less than rapturous reaction to any gifts I got. So it was ok for her to behave like a mean spirited ungrateful bitch but I better bloody not do the same!

    As I sit here I realise that I feel sad and a bit hard done by that my mummy ‘doesn’t want’ to get me even a small token of a gift for atleast my birthday…then I hear her voice in my head saying words to the effect of “If you expect things you won’t get them” and “If you ask for things you won’t get them, you should just wait until maybe we want to get you that thing” (mindreaders eh? No wonder I have trouble asserting my desires and explaining what I like or want at times.) oh and then there’s the other messages I got about myself – I’m selfish, self centered, spoilt, have a sense of entitlement and I’m ‘very lucky to have what I had – she didn’t have the lovely things I had when she was a child’.

    BTW Sherie here – wanting to protect myself as I sort through all this and gear up to do the work required. I could just imagine the fall out if mother got hold of this website and twigged that I’m ‘her Sherie’

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th December

      Hi Foggedin
      About your last paragraph, if you expect you wont’ get etc… that is really great work. In my process I went a step further with stuff like that. My Mother taught me that stuff. That doesn’t make it true. She also taught me to expect the perfect gift by her own example! She taught me that LOVE was when someone figures out the perfect gift. None of that is true either. When I looked at things this way, I really started to see the mess that I was taught. Mixed messages, rules that applied only to her/them etc.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Mimi
      It was amazing when I started seeing the double standards that you write about here. Seeing the two sets of rules helped me to break free from living under them. I think that kids grow up (talking about my mother now) (having lived with those two sets of rules) and very often can’t wait to be on the top end of those rules when they have kids of their own, thinking ‘finally I am going to be the one who is loved’ not knowing that all along they were taught the wrong definition of love in the first place.
      Thanks for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Pam Posted: 28th December

    Jen, I know we aren’t but it has taken me a long time to identify all of the ways they abused me and taught me to accept it as normal treatment. I’ve lost a lot of relationships in the last few years as I began setting boundaries. I really didn’t have many healthy relationships. I’m at a hard spot right now, as I need to seek out new friendships but at my age, that isn’t so easily done. Unfortunately, there are a lot of abusive human beings in the world and there are times when I think what we do best is hurt one another. I have difficulty in wanting to keep my defenses up and sometimes, find myself thinking it isn’t worth it.

    I’m blue about an old friendship and wondering if the way I am valued by this friend has changed or if I just see it differently. I don’t want to be overly sensitive and I only want boundaries, not walls but I’m having a hard time finding what the correct balance is. I’m also, tired of loosing people.

    Thanks for taking the time to encourage me.:0)These feelings will pass, I know but right now, I guess I just have to feel them.


  23. By: Jen Posted: 28th December


    Just wanted to say I totally empathize with how you feel about your parents setting you up for a lifetime of abuse. Once they blur the line of right and wrong in your life, it’s hard to draw them for ourselves as adults to keep ourselves safe.

    I am not a human punching bag. I am not a doormat. There, I said it.

    And neither are you!

  24. By: BettyJean Posted: 28th December

    Part of healing is being able to just say it! All our lives we are reprimanded for not saying the right thing, for being selfish, for being stupid, etc. etc.
    The last thing I need to hear is watch your mouth! If I have to worry about that – and I do – then I might as well keep it shut. Same old same old children should be seen amd not heard! Whe you are moved and actua;lly feel that feeling and blurt it out you don’t mean that no one else hurts – you mean – look at me right now – I am screaming in pain and I need immediate attention!
    Imagine how you feel when another authority figure (mommy) says – you are not the only kid here ya know- what makes you think you are so special- you selfish little brat. Stand down – you are nothing!
    That’s what you hear – no matter what is said that is what you hear!

    Even though you know what you did was wrong intellectually, you do exactly what you did as a child – you internalize it.
    Being an intelligent being I apologize but then I go away! I don’t have time to stay and take care of my inner child ! I just don’t have the time or patience to work on me right now. I can’t and I won’t but it becomes obvious that I must, doesn’t it?

  25. By: Pam Posted: 28th December

    Robin, I don’t know if it is hatred toward everyone that I feel but sometimes, I just ache and hurt all over because I’m so tired of the struggle. If my parents were the only ones to abuse me it wouldn’t be so bad but they set me up for a lifetime of abuse from others. I attrack people who are just like them. It gets to where it is just easier to stay alone but then I get lonely and I know it isn’t good for me to isolate. I’ve spent my whole life trying to understand and recover from my childhood with new injuries taking place almost, all of the time. I think I’m sometimes, to tired of it all to even bother with hatred.


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