I’ve apparently been sent a “gift” for Christmas from Brother through our father. Earlier this year Sister also used our father to deliver a “gift” on my birthday. These are two people who have expressed nothing but contempt for me in the past, have nothing to do with me in the present and for whom my future has no place. People who don’t like me, don’t give me things. But these do. So what I am to make of this seemingly conflicted, crazy-making behavior?
It’s never overtly spelled out but I think I know what I’m supposed to do, what my prescribed role is and what my unspoken expected response should be in all this: forgive, forget, move on (which is to say, reset back to default) and receive this “gift” in lieu of acknowledging, much less resolving any of our problems and, further, as a down payment to justify future abuse. This is giving a “gift” the same way a fisherman “feeds” a fish — always with strings attached.
And I could let bygones be bygones as long as any were actually gone but these one-trick ponies remain unchanged. The trick in play, the sort that use this strategy and the intended outcome it’s designed for is described quite well here by Sam Vaknin.
The terms “false asceticism” and “masochistic bookkeeping” in regards to “meticulous accounting of everything he gives and receives” are particularly resonant in this case. For instance, if I bought us lunch one day and Brother picked up the tab the next, he’d demand I pay him the difference (that he took the time to calculate) for how much more the food he paid for happened to cost as though I were a selfish ingrate exploiting his morally superior generosity. Thus, as Sam details, “he [internally] seethes and rages against the lack of reciprocity he perceives in his relationships”.
And still does to this day, the better part of two decades of no contact later, if the odd little messages he’s been dropping in the mail to me over the last year are any indication. Those of them I dared to read ooze thick with resentment. Exhausting narratives prattling on as though nothing untoward had ever happened to estrange us and sprinkled with backhanded comments, just like Mother used to make. And like her, the inclination never occurs to ask how I am or anything to do with me because they do not care and cannot be expected nor depended on to.
It is from this wellspring of hatred thinly veiled by feigned indifference that I receive a “gift” — our father as audience, myself as wayward prop in this staged performance, this seemingly benevolent act that unenlightened dupes review as “nice gesture”, “bighearted” and more of what it’s not.
Bottom line: do not accept “gifts” (aka. favors) from people who do not like you. That’s fucked up because they’re fucked up and there’s no good reason to keep fucked up people in our lives unwilling to help unfuck themselves.
If my siblings want to be part of my life, they have two options: 1) compel Mother to want to resolve our problems or 2) cut her out of their lives entirely. Aside from the suicide non-solution, these were the same options she left me with.