Felt emotionally ambushed by Eparents/PDsib at Christmas

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FoggedFrog

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Felt emotionally ambushed by Eparents/PDsib at Christmas
« on: May 03, 2021, 01:37:22 PM »
I've been thinking about something that happened back at Christmas. Because it's one of those things where I'm not sure if I'm overreacting to or misreading things, or if this was a genuine violation of one of my boundaries.

For some context: I was already grumpy on Christmas, so maybe this affected my view. But I was initially excited to have my parents over. I moved into a new home and they could finally visit me at my place for the first time in my adult life (in my previous place I was in for over half a decade, it was physically inaccessible to them, so I always had to go visit their house). You have to hike up flights of stairs, so I asked them to please scale down the gifts (they always go overboard every year even though they technically can't afford it) because my partner and I didn't want to have to go up and down the stairs over and over. They ignored this request, so we all got workouts spending about 30 mins doing repeat flights up the stairs. [[!!TW: diet, foodstuffs, etc!!]] I am trying to lose weight and they traditionally give me so many desserts and candies. I said please don't get me so much. They brought literal BUCKETS (like the plastic ones that ice cream comes in) of cookies! Initially I put what I could in the freezer because it was literally a many months supply of cookies, but eventually a few days later I just completely trashed everything. [[!!!End of TW!!!]] So the day started with me feeling very ignored and unheard already.  I asked my parents if we could eat a good meal, talk, laugh, just enjoy each other's company and I felt that wasn't too much to ask. I know I can't control how people want to celebrate the holidays and no way is "the right way," but we've always celebrated the way my parents want to with the reason that it was their house. I thought that also extended to me and my house. These aren't such big deals, but give context to the mood I was in.

The main point: As we were opening presents, I got to a small mountain of tiny wrapped gifts labeled for me. My heart instantly sank. These said they were from my younger nieces/nephews, who I haven't seen in many years. This included some who are so young that they can barely write their own names yet. I opened them one at a time and honestly I got angrier and more upset with each gift. Each gift was a makeup item, items that I have no interest in and brands that are signature to PDsib. I instantly knew these "gifts from the nieces and nephews" were actually from PDsib (I have been NC with PDSib for 10+ years). Some of these makeup items were unsealed. I felt...violated. Offended. Oldest (adult) nephew was over and I tried to act like it didn't bother me for his sake, I didn't want to ruin Christmas for him. However, afterwards my partner confirmed to me that it was obvious in my facial expression that I was uncomfortable.

I know maybe my Eparents were put in a tough position if they were given gifts "from their grandkids" to give to me. But I feel like there were other ways they could have approached this. Like....given me a heads up and told me beforehand what was going on? I feel like I'm constantly being ambushed like this and put on the spot. Like everyone in the family wants to get a reaction out of me, even if its a negative reaction. Would it have been so hard to pull me aside and say, "PDSib wrapped some gifts for you and they are supposed to be from the kids. It is an awkward situation but oldest nephew is excited about it, so maybe we could talk about what we could do?" Except as always, my parents seemed that I should be absolutely delighted to get such gifts. Like it does not enter their mind that this could be a major violation of my boundaries. And for extra context, this has been a tactic of PDSib growing up. Instead of apologies (they neverrrrrr actually apologized to me in their entire life), I would get gifts - gifts that I didn't want and were purposely ugly. I would get a brown thick curly sweater with bright green and orange dots on it, and PDSib would say, "Here, you deserve this." That was suppose to be an apology. Eparents would say at least PDSib was trying and I should accept their apologies. I also got some gifts in the 2 years after going NC. I think PDSib's way of trying to hoover me back into the fold. It didn't work because I think PDSib always failed to realize that I repeatedly "forgave" them and kept along in the circus for so long because 1) I was a literal child who had no choice, I went NC at 19, that was as much as I could put up with in my adult life; and 2) for my parent's sake. Not for PDSib's own sake. I honestly think me going NC was one of the most shocking moments of their life.

Hindsight, now I realize from more recent events certain things after my Eparents have reconnected with PDSib and relayed the message that PDSib wants to "make up". I'm betting that they got together around Christmas or before Christmas. I had assumed oldest nephew had given my parents the gifts "from the kids." Now I'm wondering if they knew the whole process. I wonder if they were there with PDSib and encouraged them to give me gifts. Received the gifts directly from PDSib and happily agreed to give them to me without a second thought. And from PDSib's perspective, a buttering up before Eparents revealed the desire to reconnect. Which makes me angrier and even more violated and straight up betrayed. Even after 10+ years of NC with PDSib, after eparents going to therapy, reading self-help books, us having family talks about mental health, narcissism, enabling. And what hurts most of all, is all the talks we've had about the abuse (physical and emotional) that I suffered at the hands of PDSib. It is like they truly are mentally incapable of understanding that I want NOTHING to do with PDSib everrrrrr. It has been 10 GLORIOUS YEARS and I intend to keep up the trend! Meanwhile they've expressed that their (short inconsistent bursts) of NC with PDSib were torture and suffering. I'm sorry but that has nothing to do with me. I'm fine and content, and again I guess I am just now realizing like an idiot, that they truly do not understand how I can feel I have a full satisfying life that is peaceful and content without PDSib. After 10 years!!!

Anyways....I don't know if I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. I ended up thinking Christmas was ruined. At the same time, I felt guilty about feeling that way. Wasn't that ungrateful? Many would give anything to have a family to celebrate with. And no one can be perfect. Maybe I'm reading and overthinking this wayyyy too much. I would appreciate an objective perspective if anyone would be willing to offer it. But I am simply thankful that I have an understanding place to vent if nothing else. Thank you.

[I apologize for the length, I always end up writing so much!]

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Starboard Song

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Re: Felt emotionally ambushed by Eparents/PDsib at Christmas
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 03:42:34 PM »
Quote
Anyways....I don't know if I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. I ended up thinking Christmas was ruined. At the same time, I felt guilty about feeling that way. Wasn't that ungrateful? Many would give anything to have a family to celebrate with. And no one can be perfect. Maybe I'm reading and overthinking this wayyyy too much. I would appreciate an objective perspective if anyone would be willing to offer it. But I am simply thankful that I have an understanding place to vent if nothing else. Thank you.

I don't think you are making a mountain out of a molehill: that is a pejorative phrase meant to criticize someone for exaggerating. You experienced a real feeling of violation, and you need to take real steps to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. Respect that need.

But I do think it is important to maintain your focus. You cannot fix the past, but you can take action to make things go better in the future.

You've clearly learned how good it is to be free and clear of your PDsib. If you learned today that your sib had said such-and-such about you, you probably wouldn't be upset and fired up. It sounds like you are good and solid NC, no longer caring about what that sib thinks. That's healthy disconnection. But if I told you today that your sib had said such-and-such about you, that may upset you more because I brought the sibling into the room, so to speak. That is what your parents did to you, and I understand why that hurts.

Regrettably, your parents just do not and -- probably -- will not understand. Many of us go for decades before realizing the truth and the solution, so I sadly conclude that it is normal to not get it. That makes me think that the real solution for you is to learn to just not care: they brought unwanted gifts from an unwanted source? Smile and throw them out before sunset.

It is very important they not betray your privacy or badger you about the relationship, for instance: those are things you must prevent or end. But these slights are bound to continue in some degree. It is a good idea to add this one to your checklist for future special occasions: "Mom and Dad, I do not accept gifts from PDsib, and I need you to promise not to deliver any, however they may be labeled." If you go that route, do it just in time: such conversations often get "forgotten" over the course of a year.
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason    |    Emotional Blackmail, by Susan Forward

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FoggedFrog

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Re: Felt emotionally ambushed by Eparents/PDsib at Christmas
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 06:33:15 PM »
Thank you Starboard Song, I greatly appreciate your words of wisdom and I take them to heart. I have been trying out LC with the rest of my FOO and I feel great. Then I feel guilty for feeling great because I'm sure their feelings are hurt. But I think these are normal complicated emotions to have. Definitely next holidays if we still get together at my place, I will need to lay down the law with no exceptions. It hurts that I even have to do that but I suppose it's a tale as old as time around here!

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stowaway77

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Re: Felt emotionally ambushed by Eparents/PDsib at Christmas
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2021, 11:23:11 PM »
What a terrible situation. My heart sank more and more as I read your story. I also have a PDsib that would use gift giving as an abuse tactic too so I understand what it's like. You are not making a mountain out of a molehill. There's a reason why you've established boundaries, there's already a history of abuse there and it's absolutely understandable that you would be feeling this way. Your PDsib was probably gleeful as they wrapped the presents and got their kids to write their names on them. You couldn't win in this situation. As soon as your parents handed you the presents, you were screwed. You couldn't decline the gifts without looking like a douche and you couldn't open them without being insulted. Your PDsib is so calculating and manipulative and their purpose was the humiliate you. That is not ok. I really feel for you.

People who haven't been through this experience would NEVER understand. You can try and tell them the story and explain all the past behavior, and about narcissism, etc. They just won't get it. So my advice is to not try and talk to others about it unless you're pretty sure they'll understand. Otherwise they will accuse you of overreacting.

As for parents, they probably won't understand either. I'm trying to figure out why but all I can say is that there are certain parents that value family harmony above all else. And you're disrupting the harmony so yeah, you deserve what's coming to you. You should have a real serious talk to your parents about no contact. No contact means they can't give anything to you of any kind, even if it's labelled as from their kids. (honestly they should've known that your PDsib bought at least some of the gifts, especially for the young kid who could barely write their own name).