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.
The Christmas season – now barely held at bay by the monsters of Halloween lest it begin after the smoke of Independence Day clears – is a stressful time of year for many people. I’m not one of those people. But even I feel a palpable sense of relief on Christmas Day as though the Yule Log were a metaphor for a difficult bowel movement.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are mass migrations during some of the worst weather conditions of the year in order to reconnect with families, exchange gifts and open old wounds. Mix the blood sport of Black Friday and the impending deadline, guilt-driven, mass media drumming, last minute Christmas Eve shopping into this generalized manic-depressive social malaise and you’ve got a season of survival more so than that of celebration. Pa-rum pum pum pum! 🎶
The despairing citizen victims of Metropolis shout at Superman as he retreats from the battle with Kryptonian war criminals General Zod and his super-minions, Ursa and Non, that they put themselves directly in harms way of. Apparently too stupid to understand the situation, these dumb beasts chose to crowd a fight that was destroying the city around them rather than running for their lives. Zod and Ursa mock Superman – as well they ought – for making liabilities of the throngs of morons demanding and taking for granted that Superman will protect them as they willfully meander into this meat grinder like moths to a flame. And Superman’s reward for disappointing these ingrates with unreasonable expectations of and taking him for granted: disparagement for not being good enough to give enough.
It’s never enough.
Re-watching Superman II, I imagine an alternate ending to this scene playing out with Superman laying waste to all these deserving victims, Zod looking on initially with shocked horror as everyone is summarily incinerated by eye-lasers, iced by freeze-breath and crushed beneath jagged, broken slabs of their own beloved city, but then Zod’s expression turning to an understanding, even approving, smile. Superman might never be good enough no matter how hard he tries to be but he could certainly be bad enough just as he is.
I’m a freeloader. I like to use a lot free stuff. Seems like ever since Microsoft provided Internet Explorer for free in order to undercut (and eventually destroy) Netscape, a lot of fellow netizens have come to expect, even that they’re entitled to everything for free. Including being catered to while contributing absolutely nothing in return.
Among the many things I freeload are a lot of add-ons to extend Mozilla Firefox — the browser that rose from the ashes of Netscape. As a web developer, there are certain productivity tools that have become indispensable to me. They’re also frequently built by volunteers who choose to share the fruits of their labor and personal time investment. When this freeware happens to malfunction for whatever reason, I might be disappointed but I also understand that I use it as-is, having offered the maker no incentive whatsoever to pay any attention to my demands of them.
The Firefox Quantum Add-on-pocalypse
Earlier this last year, Firefox forewarned developers of a critical update that would essentially reinvent the browser: Firefox Quantum. It would also leave out many key technologies, especially the now legacy add-ons API that many of the tools I use were built on. So it was imperative that developers port their extensions using the new WebExtensions API. However, as the date of this impending Add-on-pocalypse™ approached, it began to sink in that these extensions I took for granted weren’t going to make the cut.
Some devs were explicit about their intention to let their projects die. The guy that thanklessly maintained Tab Groups put out a detailed statement with his final update listing all the fucks he no longer had to give and why. Others struggled to upgrade or create replacements, given the new API limitations. And a few features quietly ghosted away.
The first strategy Sam mentions is the child isolating themselves from the narcissistic parent, reaching away for and adopting other, more suitable parental figures. This has become my strategy by consequence as much as by choice.
I’ve always said that my siblings and I essentially raised ourselves, Mother being more like an absent roommate than a parent and us, mere meal tickets used to wine and dine her boyfriends on the child support garnished from our father she unceremoniously discarded. Brother went to school wearing shorts and rubber boots, whatever he could find. I, myself, duct taped my shoes and tried to modify old clothes. Sister was excellent at scrounging for edible things not deemed off limits to create inventive food items from. All while we were berated as ungrateful, spoiled brats that didn’t do enough for Mother if we were paid any attention to.
One of the final exchanges Mother and I had from several years ago, illustrating a narcissistic response to boundary-setting and probably drawing to a close this series of blood-letting.
At this point in my recovery, the anger that fueled my interest in understanding narcissism in order to heal from and move beyond the destructive role it’s played in my life seems to have been more or less exhausted. Oddly enough, EMDR therapy seems to have helped diminish the bad feelings and ruminations or maybe that happened to be coincidence. Perhaps the shared experience of Donald J. Trump exemplifying to a staggering degree textbook traits of a severely malignant narcissist as he stumbles about on the world stage to everyone’s horror has led to demystification of the disorder through sheer burnout. In any case, the dull ache of loss and emptiness I once felt has become a quiet space.
As such, this entry has been collecting dust with my waning motivation to develop it but I feel that it’s important to complete this dysfunctional family portrait in their own words if only to see it all laid bare, ending properly with the source from whence this transgenerational madness flows and revolves around.
Press outlets should stop publishing the word “Trump” and instead replace it with “President of the United States”, “US President”, “POTUS”, “US Prez”, “#45” or some generic title reference pertaining to the office.
Few things appear more perplexing than a someone aware of and seeking recovery from narcissistic abuse in full-throated support of “unpresidented” Donald J. Trump, a man that a significant number of psychologists have been compelled beyond usual ethical constraints to point out the pattern of malignant narcissistic behavior of (behavior that could also be explained by drug use, dementia or syphilis). After all, wounded healers that we are have sought answers that we’ve sacrificed for to move beyond the suffering we happened to find ourselves in and many of us share what we’ve learned so that others might do the same. That any of us could or would become enamored with a prime textbook example of the very thing we struggle to liberate ourselves from seems beyond the pale. And yet it happens.
I’m not a natural born shopper. Perhaps I’m too cynical – perceiving adverts as little more than pretty lies by default, gross manipulations seeking to appeal to my most monkey impulses – or too neurotic – I will take the time to calculate the cost/weight ratio of food or factor in how effectively dog shit can be removed from shoe tread, variety presenting a kind of assessment hell – but, whatever the case, the imprint didn’t take to make me a good American consumer — the true measure of our public education system. So I’m dubious of any effort made by any sort of marketplace to either become or convince me that it already is my one-stop shopping destination. Amazon has become one of those things.