Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?

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TreeDreamer

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Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« on: October 23, 2021, 09:18:38 PM »
I was wondering if anyone else has had this kind of experience with a parent trying to give them a gift and if it is passive-aggressive toxic like I think?

My mom went shopping a few days ago, and approached me this evening with a few clothing items that she had purchased for herself. She had a long story about how she had found the items, and when she was done with this long story she offered to give me the items instead if I liked them.

I took a look at them and knew right away that they were her style, and not mine. I knew I would never be comfortable wearing them. So I declined, trying to explain that it was more her style than mine, but also tried to thank her for thinking of me nonetheless.

Instead of just understanding that the items were not for me, and respecting my decision, she walked away making a comment that she often makes in situations where I do not want something that she wants to give me: "Well, I will not look for anything for YOU again."

This comment always feels like a passive-aggressive attempt to make me feel bad, and it does make me feel bad. It feels like subtle emotional manipulation. Like a tiny punishment for not accepting her offer. If I question her on it or call her out on it, she just responds with something like, "what? I am just saying that I will not look for anything for you since you don't want anything."

Her rationalization of the subtle jab seems to me to be a classic passive-aggressive technique to act like what she said was no big deal. But to me the implication is there, and it goes something like this: "I am going to write YOU out of my thoughts when I am out shopping because YOU are not appreciative enough and so I am displeased with you and going to make you feel it even if just a little." It feels like a subtle form of devaluation towards me for not accepting her offer, and therefore a toxic behavior that would not occur in a normal relationship.

I was wondering if other people have experienced something like this and if my analysis is right, that she is being passive-aggressive and inserting just that little bit of toxic, passive-aggressive "payback" into the interaction? It just does not feel like something a normal person would say. To me, a normal person would just accept that you have declined and move on without having to make a comment like that, because they would get that other people have their own thoughts and feelings and they would respect that.

Thoughts?


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Bloomie

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2021, 11:48:13 PM »
Hi TreeDreamer - My thoughts... if we really want to be thoughtful toward our adult children we ask them if/what they would like and then we get that/those item(s). We don't buy them things we like and insist they take them or make snide, passive aggressive comments. Because the idea is to please them or encourage them or surprise and delight them that we are thinking of them.

So... your very kind "no thank you" and refusal to go along and accept clothing or items that she most likely bought for herself is a healthy and kind response to your mother's nonsense. You have no obligation to go along with this stuff and certainly have zero reason to feel badly about your response.

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Well, I will not look for anything for YOU again.
a good response could possibly be.. "Okay."  and then you move on with your life.

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TreeDreamer

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2021, 02:26:21 AM »
Hi TreeDreamer - My thoughts... if we really want to be thoughtful toward our adult children we ask them if/what they would like and then we get that/those item(s). We don't buy them things we like and insist they take them or make snide, passive aggressive comments. Because the idea is to please them or encourage them or surprise and delight them that we are thinking of them.

So... your very kind "no thank you" and refusal to go along and accept clothing or items that she most likely bought for herself is a healthy and kind response to your mother's nonsense. You have no obligation to go along with this stuff and certainly have zero reason to feel badly about your response.

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Well, I will not look for anything for YOU again.
a good response could possibly be.. "Okay."  and then you move on with your life.

Thank you Bloomie for your reply. Your response describes the healthy sort of intention that I would think a non-toxic relationship would have when it comes to giving something to another person.

I forgot to add in my post that another reason I thought my mom's behavior was toxic was because she made me feel not only bad about my response, but like I had done something wrong and had to defend myself. So I started explaining (defending) why I did not want the items, which I do not think should have even been necessary. I think that is another sign of dealing with a passive-aggressive person, when they make you feel like you have to defend yourself even though you did nothing wrong?

I wish there was some way to make her see how she makes me feel. I always feel there are strings attached to anything she tries to do for me - either strings of resentment that I did not respond to an item as she hoped, or strings of bitterness that she did something for me and later wishes she had not (like cheerfully inviting me to dinner, being incredibly nice, and then the next day commenting that she should not have done it, resenting that she had done it, and making me feel bad about the entire thing). I feel more like these interactions are some sort of manipulation than a real sincere generosity on her part, but nothing I do to try to explain this to her registers.

Is there any way to get through to someone like this or is this possibly a sign of a deeper rooted problem that is likely incurable?

Thank you again for your thoughts. :)

« Last Edit: October 24, 2021, 02:33:08 AM by TreeDreamer »

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Tinkerbell

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2021, 09:38:47 AM »
Hi TreeDreamer - My thoughts... if we really want to be thoughtful toward our adult children we ask them if/what they would like and then we get that/those item(s). We don't buy them things we like and insist they take them or make snide, passive aggressive comments. Because the idea is to please them or encourage them or surprise and delight them that we are thinking of them.

So... your very kind "no thank you" and refusal to go along and accept clothing or items that she most likely bought for herself is a healthy and kind response to your mother's nonsense. You have no obligation to go along with this stuff and certainly have zero reason to feel badly about your response.

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Well, I will not look for anything for YOU again.
a good response could possibly be.. "Okay."  and then you move on with your life.

Thank you Bloomie for your reply. Your response describes the healthy sort of intention that I would think a non-toxic relationship would have when it comes to giving something to another person.

I forgot to add in my post that another reason I thought my mom's behavior was toxic was because she made me feel not only bad about my response, but like I had done something wrong and had to defend myself. So I started explaining (defending) why I did not want the items, which I do not think should have even been necessary. I think that is another sign of dealing with a passive-aggressive person, when they make you feel like you have to defend yourself even though you did nothing wrong?

I wish there was some way to make her see how she makes me feel. I always feel there are strings attached to anything she tries to do for me - either strings of resentment that I did not respond to an item as she hoped, or strings of bitterness that she did something for me and later wishes she had not (like cheerfully inviting me to dinner, being incredibly nice, and then the next day commenting that she should not have done it, resenting that she had done it, and making me feel bad about the entire thing). I feel more like these interactions are some sort of manipulation than a real sincere generosity on her part, but nothing I do to try to explain this to her registers.

Is there any way to get through to someone like this or is this possibly a sign of a deeper rooted problem that is likely incurable?

Thank you again for your thoughts. :)

Hey Treedreamer! You are 100% right, this isnt healthy loving behaviour from mom to child. Obviously she bought the items so you could thank her and give her compliments. It is very common that people with a PD dont necessarily buy or do things for others but they do things for themselves. You´re story is a very good example. You are left confused and maybe you feel guilty, but the thing is, she just couldnt deal with your ´rejection´. I say ´rejection´ because thats probably how it feels for her. I dp think there is something wrong with her because this is something my uNPBmom/uPBmom could´ve said to me.
I have a child and if I want to make him happy I buy something that he likes, and because I know him very well (and because he interests me) I know what he likes. Also, I am happy when he is happy, so when he tells me ´sorry mom I dont like this shirt´ the reaction will be something like ´Ohh no problem sweety lets go to the store and find something you like instead! thanks for your honesty´. I think that those kind of answers only can come from healthy healed people who don´t project their own shortcomings on others/their children.

It´s hard to deal with but just remember you have nothing to do with her toxic behaviour !

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M0009803

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2021, 11:17:31 AM »
This is a very common reaction in dysfunctional families.  Happened to me many times over the years during the holidays (usually) and birthdays.

I would get a gift from uPDM and uPDSis that they "chose", which had little (if any) emphasis and thought on what I liked.  They chose something they liked, with the expectation you would approve.

Of course, when you don't react the way they expect (happy and thankful), they create drama because it was expensive or go into passive-aggressive mode.

Gift-giving by PD individuals is always a minefield.   

From my perspective, the optimal option is to have a no-gift acceptance policy when it comes to PD individuals. 

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moglow

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2021, 11:36:11 AM »
It's very passive aggressive and at the same time for her apparently it is normal. My guess is she went through the whole search scenario as a justification for the purchase, and at the same time hold you accountable for her efforts. It feels like more doomed if you do, doomed if you don't - accept the items and she's demanding accolades over and over for having bought them for you. Decline and you're ungrateful, seen as disdaining her efforts.

Mine used to do that, buying me this, giving me that - things I'd have never purchased or asked for, not my style or just things I don't want or need in general. Mother saw it as her limitless generosity and me as ungrateful when they invariably ended up in the donations box or simply disappeared. She'd literally wander my house commenting "where is the xyz i gave you" or "what did you do with ...if you don't want it I'll take it back!" There was just no nice way of telling her, our tastes and coloring aren't the same and I'm never ever going to wear that!! She took it as a condemnation of her personally rather that accepting that we're two different people.
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FromTheSwamp

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2021, 03:35:04 PM »
I don't think she bought the items for you at all.  I think she bought them for herself, decided she didn't want them, and rather than return them (admitting she made a "mistake"), she turned it around to be a gift she bought for you.  She's giving you her unwanted things and expecting you to thank her for it.  It's a total PD move - pass on garbage, which is all valuable garbage by their definition because it comes from the PD and all their things are valuable.  Then they also get the enjoyment of making you feel bad about it. 

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daughter

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2021, 06:21:58 PM »
You're describing a common NM scenario, "gifting w/strings", where it's supposedly a "gift", but it's actually a hand-me-down, because NM doesn't want it anymore, and a discard, because NM wants to be rid of it, nonetheless, we DDs are expected to be greatly enthused and overtly grateful for these NM-rejected items "gifted" that don't reflect our own preferences. My NM did this constantly to me, back when I was still DD'ing, except her "gifts" were already worn, used, and/or damaged goods, that I'd never even buy new.  No items could be returned or exchanged.


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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2021, 11:52:03 PM »
 :yeahthat:

What everybody else said, 100%! Well, she’ll never go shopping with YOU in mind again, well, because it’s clear she never did in the first place. My mother would also play these ridiculous games with stuff. Give me craptacular “gifts” that were completely her cast-offs or stuff she would have bought for herself that I had said I did not personally like, which led to her doubling down on buying me that sort of gift for years, or had some other passive-aggressive jab to them, or were just her being plain cheap. So you either take the crap and be over-the-top grateful, or well how dare you! Either way it’s an insult.

I agree with Bloomie. Oh, you won’t shop for me? Okay. Thanks for sparing me the bother of being your personal Goodwill.

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blues_cruise

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2021, 10:08:19 AM »
It's the textbook response of someone whose emotional development is stuck at a very young age and who ties their self worth to gift giving. The ego must be protected at all costs and if it perceives 'rejection' (which on your part was in reality entirely healthy and kind assertiveness) it feels like an attack and they get defensive and nasty. It's very immature.

I would imagine that the whole exercise was intended to make her feel great about herself, even if she wasn't consciously aware of this motive. There was no thought given as to whether the clothes were in your style, whether you might wear them or whether you needed them. It was all about her.
"You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become." - Carl Gustav Jung

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou

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Hazy111

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2021, 10:32:24 AM »
This is a very common reaction in dysfunctional families.   

 :yeahthat:

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Sneezy

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2021, 02:07:57 PM »
I don't think she bought the items for you at all.  I think she bought them for herself, decided she didn't want them, and rather than return them (admitting she made a "mistake"), she turned it around to be a gift she bought for you.
This is what my mother does.  Even with food!  Her senior living complex includes meals and she will take too much food, but then she feels guilty about throwing food away, so she gives it to me.  I've lost count of how many stale cookies and semi-rotten bananas I've brought home and promptly thrown away, because I no longer feel guilty about throwing away food.

My mom will take anything that is "free" because she feels a need to accumulate stuff, but a guilt in throwing stuff away.  So she gives it away and we are all supposed to feel grateful.  The last time I took her to church, there were paper masks available for anyone who needed one.  She even squirreled away several masks into her purse (even though she has more masks than she will ever use).

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2021, 09:13:28 PM »
Instead of just understanding that the items were not for me, and respecting my decision, she walked away making a comment that she often makes in situations where I do not want something that she wants to give me: "Well, I will not look for anything for YOU again."

Oh lord. So she went shopping FOR HERSELF. Bought items FOR HERSELF. Then so very *generously* offered (HA.) to give them to you. And then when you decline, she acts like she went out especially to buy them for you? Ridiculous.

Yes. She's being totally passive-aggressive. I suspect she was angry that you didn't "mirror" her (i.e. pretend to love everything she loves), in addition to being robbed out of getting to play "the wonderful, generous mother who showers you with gifts*." 
(*that are not actual gifts)

And yes, my mother has done something very similar.

Every year my middle school hosted an "8th Grade Dinner." It was a sort of informal graduation thing just before the end of the school year. Everyone dressed up and we went to the nice country club in our town and had dinner. The thing most people were excited about was picking out a special outfit to wear. My friends and I talked about what we were going to wear for months. My birthday was the month before the dinner. The morning of my birthday, my mother gave me my gifts, one of which was a dress. It was absolutely HER style and the kind of thing she dressed me in when I was younger. (Brown, floral, shapeless, ugly.)

HER: Do you like it?
ME, knowing this is a trap, and I can't say no: ...yes.

Then she excitedly says, "I thought you could wear this to the 8th grade dinner!"

Again, let me reiterate that the thing EVERYONE was excited about was picking out something special to wear. NOT having their mother pick something out.

So now I had not only lied and said I liked a dress I didn't like and was never going to wear, but she was going to try to make me wear it to the dinner. In front of other people.

I didn't usually stick my neck out back then, but I was just so disappointed that she was going to try to horn in on this experience. So I very sheepishly said, "Oh... well... I was hoping I could pick something out to wear?"

Naturally, she completely flipped out. Ripped the dress out of my hands, told me I was an ungrateful brat, and that if I didn't like the dress she'd just return it. I apologized profusely, told her I DID like the dress (ugh), but it was too late. She stomped out of the room, and I spent my 14th birthday feeling guilty and wondering what I could have done differently, (other than wearing the hideous dress). And she really did return the dress... not sure if that was out of spite or if she knew deep down I didn't like it, but was fine with trying to guilt me into wearing it anyway...

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2021, 11:27:21 PM »
Cat I have a similar dress story... she dragged me all over the mall in eighth grade because in her mind I had to have a red dress for my confirmation. She had a red dress in the 1960s, so it was the law for all time. There weren't any red spring dresses in anything close to my size. I guess it wasn't popular that year. All the other girls would be in pastels and I just desperately wanted to fit in for once in my life. My protests were brushed aside if they were even heard at all. It HAD to be RED because that's what you wear for confirmation. She gave up after literally hours and I found something I was happy with, but tragically on our way out we passed a red dress. It was bright bright red and made me look even skinnier than I was, because it was pretty revealing, made for someone older than 14, but you guessed it. The dress I liked went back, and I wore the red one. The next year the dress code explicitly said pastels only and no spaghetti straps. So humiliating. Mother insisted I was the only girl dressed appropriately, and made a stink about the dress code when it was my sister's turn to be confirmed.

I remember her saying, as a fauxpology for keeping me at the mall all day, "I'm sorry nobody appreciates my heroic efforts to dress you well!" :dramaqueen: Yeah, she called herself heroic. For being completely selfish.  :stars: Just like the OP's mom going shopping *FoR hER*. My mother learned nothing from her repeated experiences of being so very unappreciated. It was always everyone else's fault. It really does sound like yours is cut from the same cloth.

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Seven

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2021, 09:32:29 AM »
CMC,

I wore my baseball uniform under my confirmation dress because I had a game the same afternoon. So somewhere in the universe there are pics of me in my confirmation dress with my uni on under it, practicing batting with a baseball tied around the laundry line outside.

I hated dresses.  And I hated the way my mom wanted me to dress.  Her color combinations.  I actually had a lot of hand-me-downs from my BROTHERS who were 7 and 10 years older than me. 

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Tribe16

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2021, 12:21:06 PM »
My mother does (did, since she's no longer speaking to me) something similar with advice. She is very opinionated. I have learned it does no good to argue with her. So instead, I get quiet and let her rant. When she's done, she is waiting for total agreement or nothing. Since I can't give her what she wants, I say something like "I see you feel very strongly about this, but for me, the world is not so black and white". Then she throws her hands in the air and makes some comment like "In my family (her FOO) we discussed things and appreciated other opinions. Obviously you do not." and storms off.

In answer to your original question, I would offer IMHO that is 100% PA behavior, and nowhere close to normal and healthy. Your instincts are correct.

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2021, 04:01:16 PM »
All the other girls would be in pastels and I just desperately wanted to fit in for once in my life.

I felt this so much back then, too. It was such a small thing, but since they were only interested in what THEY wanted, forget it.

I was shocked one year when I observed my SIL opening Xmas presents as a teen and telling PDmil flat out, "I'm not going to wear these, so you'd might as well return them."  :aaauuugh:

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jennfr

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2021, 04:22:26 PM »
I was wondering if anyone else has had this kind of experience with a parent trying to give them a gift and if it is passive-aggressive toxic like I think?

My mom went shopping a few days ago, and approached me this evening with a few clothing items that she had purchased for herself. She had a long story about how she had found the items, and when she was done with this long story she offered to give me the items instead if I liked them.

I took a look at them and knew right away that they were her style, and not mine. I knew I would never be comfortable wearing them. So I declined, trying to explain that it was more her style than mine, but also tried to thank her for thinking of me nonetheless....

Passive aggressive yes.  It's both exactly the opposite and also the very same as my own mother's approach. 

I learned as a kid that anything I might ask for, for myself, I would not get.   Other things as well, but especially clothing.  And would further get berated & shamed endlessly for having wanted it.  For hours or days.  Until she would finally decide to "give in" and offer  me whatever I had asked for... and of course by then I fully didn't want it any more; even if she got it for me, at that point I would hide it away in shame at it.   And, me no longer wanting it, of course confirmed to her that she had been correct.

(As a young adult, when I became a believer, I came across the line in the bible to the effect that no parent, if their child asked for bread, would give the child a stone instead.  That verse puzzled me for quite a few years, because of course that would be exactly what would happen with my mom; whatever I might ask for, she would set out to convince me I wanted/needed something different.  I think offering actual stone instead of actual bread had simply never occurred to her.)

Now, in my closet, I have a rain jacket that I've worn to shreds, but which I still treasure.  It came from when I was a young adult, at the time I was starting to develop some insight into my mom's actions.   A little bit. 

Having resolved to spend some peaceable time with Mom, I'd gone to a store with her.  I saw this raincoat, at a nice price, and liked it.  I drew Mom's attention to it, saying, Gee Mom, isn't that a nice jacket? Don't you like it?   (YOU like it.  Don't YOU like it?)  --- and then, more or less went off to look at something else.  She then basically pursued me around the store, telling me how she can't afford to buy it for me ("No, of course not.  I just thought it looked like something you might like...") -- and ended by purchasing TWO of them, one for her and one for me.   !!! 

I did not do that on purpose.  And, I was glad for the coat.  But at the time it opened my eyes to that aspect of her behavior.  Because I knew that, if I had shown her the coat because I liked it, much less actually asked her to purchase it for me, not only would i NOT have received the coat, but furthermore I would've never heard the end of it.  To the point I probably would've been ashamed to ever wear any raincoat for years!  (Yes that did happen with other stuff.)

More recently, Mom called me up asking for "permission" to send me a bunch of supplements, minerals vitamins etc.  I said, No, I don't take many & I get my own.  She insisted, this one is so so important and this other one is so hard to get, etc etc.  I told her, in that case she should keep them for herself etc.  (Wound up having to end that call as she got too worked up insisting that i Must take megadoses of vitamin C...)  I did tell her I did not promise to take anything but she can send what she wants.  So she did.   Then when I took one that  made me ill, I realized that in past, same supplement at lower dose had always made me ill.  The next time she called I told her this.  But she could not accept that i, my body, me, I do Not need supplementing with this mineral, of which she believes that SHE is in need. 

What it really comes down to, both for my mom and I think many of our bp-mom's, is a deep-down inability to accept that Her Daughter can be Differentiated from herself.   And thus, when we don't accept/like/want the item they chose for themself, or when we want something they didn't, to them it's not merely a preference, but rather to them in some small but significant way a Rejection of the core of Them.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2021, 04:27:17 PM by jennfr »

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2021, 08:27:49 PM »
More recently, Mom called me up asking for "permission" to send me a bunch of supplements, minerals vitamins etc.  I said, No, I don't take many & I get my own.  She insisted, this one is so so important and this other one is so hard to get, etc etc.  I told her, in that case she should keep them for herself etc.  (Wound up having to end that call as she got too worked up insisting that i Must take megadoses of vitamin C...)  I did tell her I did not promise to take anything but she can send what she wants.  So she did.   Then when I took one that  made me ill, I realized that in past, same supplement at lower dose had always made me ill.  The next time she called I told her this.  But she could not accept that i, my body, me, I do Not need supplementing with this mineral, of which she believes that SHE is in need. 

Wow... yet another "PD thing I didn't realize was a PD thing." Years ago, PDmil got a subscription to some supplement service (I think it was something she saw in an informercial on late night TV) for herself and then decided everyone she knew needed to have them as well. She finally quit buying them, but for years we got boxes and boxes of individually bagged "daily" vitamins. As if we couldn't choose for ourselves what we wanted to take and when.

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workinprogress2018

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Re: Is this passive-aggressive or is it normal and healthy?
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2021, 07:00:10 AM »

What it really comes down to, both for my mom and I think many of our bp-mom's, is a deep-down inability to accept that Her Daughter can be Differentiated from herself.   And thus, when we don't accept/like/want the item they chose for themself, or when we want something they didn't, to them it's not merely a preference, but rather to them in some small but significant way a Rejection of the core of Them.
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I agree with this assessment in relation to my uBPDM. Appearance is incredibly important to her, which includes clothing, hairstyle, etc. For years I received clothes for my Birthday, Christmas that were what she wanted me to have/thought I 'should' like and not what I actually liked.  All her taste and not mine. She doesn't like me having shorter hairstyles and every time I see her she's rude about it. I almost want to shave my head just to prove a point. That it's just hair, I can do what I wish. There are no 'rules'. I also resent the over the top praise, compliments and approval when I have a longer style that she thinks is what I 'should' have. It will never stop.

I was also thinking that buying us clothes can be controlling. I had a uPD partner at one time who was staying at my place for a week. One day I got home from work and there were new clothes laid out all over the bed, none of which I liked or would choose and it was demanded that I try them all on immediately as she was tearing at my clothes to get me ready for trying on. I was expected to be grateful. I refused. It didn't go down well.