We have all dealt with it, whether we want to admit it or not.
You know what I’m talking about. That guilty, worried feeling you get when you’re trying to de-clutter and clean up and you debate whether or not to get rid of something that someone (doesn’t matter who) gave to you (doesn’t matter when) for whatever reason. You don’t want to seem rude or ungrateful, but you just don’t need whatever it is. Perhaps you don’t even use it. Maybe it’s been sitting on a shelf or in the back of a closet for the last six months just taking up space. Or even worse, perhaps it’s getting in the way or making things difficult for you.
You know you want to get rid of it, but you can’t help but feel guilty, after all, someone spent their time, energy and probably their money on. Even if you know you’re not using it and you know you likely won’t ever use it, you still feel guilty. And as if you didn’t feel guilty enough, this guilt is for many people, intensified by the gift-giver’s upset with your decision to get rid of something they gave you.
“You got rid of it? What?! But I gave that to you!”
We’ve all heard it, and most likely, we’ve all felt like shit for it at one point or another. Nothing makes you feel more guilty after giving something away than being accosted by the gift giver with shocked, angry and upset exclamations. If your gift-giver is especially dramatic, expect to feel ten times worse than you would have otherwise.
I used to struggle with giveaway guilt a lot. I was, in my opinion, a pretty empathetic person, sometimes too empathetic. I remember being constantly worried about what everyone else might think or feel all the time. It was consuming. I was constantly worrying about these things and the only one who suffered for it was me.
I can’t deal with clutter and junk. I begin to feel very disorganized and quite frankly, distressed, when my living area isn’t neat or organized. It has a severe emotional toll on me. I get depressed and I stop getting things done as quickly as I should. I have seen a noticeable difference in myself between an organized and a cluttered living space. Clutter and junk is stressful. Even if you aren’t tripping over it in the middle of the floor, it’s stressful and can affect your mood. For me, it has a huge influence and because of that, I don’t hold on to things for very long, including things I was given.
I appreciate the things people give me with good intentions. I really do and I would never get rid of a gift I received the next day or be blatantly obvious about it. But if I don’t use something, it’s in my way or it’s just collecting dust then I’m better off without it. If I get rid of something you gave me, it doesn’t mean I hate you or don’t appreciate you. It just means that I needed to purge my life of excess to stabilize my feelings and emotions. A gift is just a thing. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Even if I don’t keep the gift you gave me, I still remember that you thought enough of me to give it to me in the first place, and that is what should matter. Don’t take it as a personal attack or an insult. Just realize that this is what I need to do to keep my life streamlined, and stop myself from getting overwhelmed. And if someone else gets rid of a gift you gave them, their reasons are probably similar.
Imagine someone gave you a giant coat stand. You are living in a small home. Every time you go from the living room to the stairs or the bedroom, you trip over this coat rack. You try moving it, or even rearranging the other furniture around it, but still, you keep tripping over this coat rack. After a while, you begin to get irritated with this coat stand. Every time you see it, you get annoyed, and by now, you’ve tripped over it so many times that it’s scuffed up, knicked and damaged. It’s a sore sight, for sure. But still, you keep it. After all, it was a gift and you wouldn’t want to hurt the giver’s feelings; you care about them. So for months, you continue tripping over this stupid coat stand, over and over, perhaps even injuring yourself a few times. You’re stressed out about it. You hate that it’s in your living room. You hate tripping over the stupid thing, and you don’t even like the design, but still, you don’t want to hurt the giver’s feelings.
You shouldn’t punish yourself for the sake of sparing someone’s feelings.
But if the giver cared about you, which they likely do, since they cared enough to give you a gift they thought you would like, do you think they would want you to feel the way you do about the coat rack? If they care about you, they wouldn’t want you stressing out, feeling anxious, frustrated or upset, especially by a silly coat rack. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, don’t need it, or it’s in the way, get rid of it. Of course, it’s best to do so tactfully to spare feelings if you can. “Oh, the coat rack? We used it for a little bit, but a friend of mine was recently divorced and moved into an apartment with absolutely no furniture. We have the closet in the entryway, and I knew she could use it more than we could.” Of course, there might not always be a tactful way to explain something missing, but you can always be honest. If the giver is upset with you, they shouldn’t be, and if they are, that is their issue to deal with. Not yours. Don’t let your decisions and life be ruled by the fear that you may upset someone else.
It took me three months, but I finally wrote a letter to Golden Corral, the restaurant that accused me of starving and neglecting my child due to her health issues and small size. This was the first time anyone had ever humiliated and hurt me over my daughter’s special needs. Here’s a copy of the letter I sent. I feel sick even thinking about everything that happened that night. I am completely disgusted and sickened by everything that transpired that night. I hope they will take action to prevent this from happening to another poor mother and her special needs child.
I have debated contacting your company for a while regarding one of my experiences at your restaurant. I was really shaken up and upset by what happened and I feel that I need to let you know.
I visited your Anchorage location when I was on federal jury duty. I live three hours away from Anchorage, but was staying in a hotel with my friend and my nine-month-old daughter. We thought it would be fun to go out to eat, and I had always enjoyed dining there any other time I had visited Anchorage.
My daughter was diagnosed with failure to thrive, along with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy in August of 2011. She was and still is, much smaller than most babies her age and has special health concerns. These issues, quite frankly, are no one’s business but mine and my family’s.
My daughter would go into frantic fits if she was in restrictive clothing such as socks or a coat. Most likely a sensory processing issue, which is common with children who have her issues. Because of this, we wrap her in blankets when we go from the car to indoors. We did the same thing that we always do while we were visiting your restaurant. We wrapped her up snugly in blankets and carried her in and took the blankets off when we got inside.
Our server asked how old my daughter was, and not even thinking about her small size, I told the woman she was nine months and she looked shocked and I instantly regretted telling her.
While I was up getting my plate at the buffet, a waitress approached my friend to talk to her about how we need to have a coat on my daughter and that she’s just trying to look out for the little babies she sees and how she hopes we aren’t offended, but she wanted to let us know that the other waitresses were talking about calling children’s services on me because we didn’t have a coat on her (we used the blankets as I described) and because of how small she was.
When I returned to the table, my friend told me what happened. When the waitress came back I asked her what was going on and she told me. I was so upset I couldn’t stop crying. This was the first time I had really gone out and done anything with my daughter and this was how I was being treated. Waitresses criticizing my parenting, threatening to call the authorities and staring my daughter and I down during our visit. I couldn’t even eat my dinner, I was so upset. I was going to ask for a refund but I was so angry and hurt that I couldn’t even speak to my friend without sobbing, let alone speak to a manager. I was so upset, I felt like I was going to get sick. We ended up leaving without eating our dinner and I cried the entire way home.
There are children in this world that have special needs that the general population may not understand. I understand that and I do my best to make my daughter’s issues known to those who they are relevant for. However, I should not have to give a medical history to my server at a restaurant. Nor should I be persecuted, gossiped about and tore down for something they obviously knew nothing about. I was appalled at how I was treated and even now, three months later, I still cannot believe that my daughter and I were treated so poorly.
Needless to say, we have not returned to your establishment, and nor will we. Our experience and the lack of understanding and compassion has left a sour taste in my mouth that I don’t know that I will ever be able to get rid of. You may consider further training for your employees in regards to how these issues should and shouldn’t be addressed. I would hate for another mother and child to experience the horrific treatment that I did while I was at your restaurant.
Samantha Van Vleet
I haven’t updated since I posted about Ava’s diagnosis.
Sometimes it still feels fake. Sometimes it still feels like a really cruel joke and someone’s going to jump out from behind a wall and tell me I’m on candid camera. Unfortunately, as much as I wish this were true, it just isn’t.
This isn’t a joke.
I can hope and wish and beg and plead all I wanted, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is now my reality. Try as I may, I can’t change that anymore. Maybe I never could. All of the “could have” “should have” and “would have’s” in the world can’t save me now… No matter how hard I wish they were. Sometimes I wish I was a kid again. Life wasn’t complicated and bad things just didn’t happen… Except, the reality is, bad things DID happen… But children don’t see those things or understand those things.
Ignorance is bliss.
Ava is lucky, in the regard that she has me for a mom. I know it sounds conceited, but biology is my field. It is the subject I have studied and studied for years. I may not be an expert, but I understand more than most people do about it and I don’t need every little term explained to me. She has the benefit of having a mother who is more capable than most of understanding, dissecting and interpreting the things that are affecting her health. This is a positive thing for her, but sometimes I think its negative for me. Maybe if I didn’t understand these things, it wouldn’t hurt so bad, or sting so much. If I could just accept the dumbed down version the doctors use to explain it to those who don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t be so terrifying.
I find myself going back and forth. I know everyone tells me not to feel guilty. Not to feel as though I am to blame, but even if I’m not to blame, I still have guilt. I go back and forth from wanting to hold Ava close and never let her go… To wanting to be as far away from her as possible. I go from sad, and sorry and compassionate… to finding myself saying “I didn’t sign up for this..” or even worse, wishing I had just stopped with two kids, and never experienced this kind of grief. And then I feel worse. What kind of mom thinks like that? I love her more than anything, but even though I love her, it doesn’t make reality’s cruel punch to the face hurt any less.
It can always get worse.
When I wrote my last post, I thought it couldn’t get any worse than it already was. I learned very quickly, it could and it would… Several times.
I just wish I could trade places with her.
I’m feeling a lot better now.
I spent quite a bit of time reading over narcissistic personality disorder… A lot of time… Not just articles… Psychology texts… Books written by professionals… Everything I could get my hands on… And it describes everything I have endured with her to a T. A narcissistic is, by themselves, difficult to handle. A narcissistic mother, is impossible. And it seems that the experts all agree on one thing. The only way to deal with a narcissist is to not. Cut them out, be done and move on, because they won’t change. They guise the manipulation as concern. They mask the attacks as indifference. And if all else fails, they resort to self-pity and helpless victimhood.
I know, I’ve quoted this article before, mostly in passing, but the more I read and the more I learn, the more I begin to see how blatantly obvious it should have been… But that’s the amazing thing about narcissists. They’re so skilled, thought out, and quick, that they leave others in disbelief that they could ever be anything less than splendid.
“Narcisstic mothers do not have children for the same reasons the rest of us do…. They have children so that the children will love them unconditionally, not the other way around. They have children to do things for them. They have children to reflect their false images. They have children to use, abuse and control them….For the narcissistic mother, each step away from her is an absolute act of betrayal….they train their children to believe that they are the ideal mother. Any evidence to the contrary is to be kept secret at all costs. They will behave much differently toward their children in public than they do at home…. Narcissistic mothers don’t stop being narcissists when their children become adults….These mothers steal their kids’ childhoods, identities and future healthy relationships. They will keep on taking and sucking the life out of their children for as long as they live, if their children allow it.“
No matter how many times I have read that single post over the last few years… It always hits me and hits me hard. Sometimes its eye-opening. Sometimes its nauseating. Sometimes its comforting. Knowing that this isn’t my fault.
In a family with a narcissistic mother, there’s a few crucial roles, and different members of the family play out different roles. There is, of course, the narcisstic, dominating all of the family dynamics and functions. Then, of the children, there are usually two different “types.” Sometimes there’s more than one child that fits the label, but there’s the “golden child” and the scapegoat. The scapegoat and the golden child are nearly identical. They both have that fear of the narcissist mother. They’ve both been trained. They both know the consequences of displeasing the narcissistic mother. The difference between the two however, is that the golden child will do whatever it takes to please the narcissist, even if means sacrificing his or her own happiness, sanity or priorities to do so, thus becoming the favored child. The scapegoat however, has given up in their attempts to please, and usually lies at the end of the narcissistic rage, and all of the narcissist’s [problems are the scapegoat’s fault.
The control does not end at adulthood.
The narcissist has had plenty of time to perfect their craft. They have learned how to push buttons and have conditioned their child into bending to them, no matter how it will affect the child personally. Unless you have dealt with one, it’s hard to understand how deep the disorder lies, and how twisted and complicated the actions behind it are. This article gives a brief summary on some of the characteristics of a narcissistic mother.
To sum it up…
“Everything she does is deniable. She violates your boundaries. She favoritizes. She undermines. She demeans, criticizes and denigrates. She makes you look crazy. She’s envious. She’s a liar in too many ways to count. She has to be the center of attention all the time. She manipulates your emotions in order to feed on your pain. She’s selfish and willful. She’s self-absorbed. She is insanely defensive and is extremely sensitive to any criticism. She terrorized. She’s infantile and petty. She’s aggressive and shameless. She shed her responsibilities to you as soon as she was able. She’s exploitative. She projects. She is never wrong about anything. She seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings. She blames. She destroys your relationships. As a last resort she goes pathetic.”
If you have the time though, it really is worth reading through that website. It was incredibly eye-opening and prompted even further reading.
I came up with a sad, although accurate metaphor to describe the situation.
A narcissist is drowning. She refuses to learn to swim and longs for someone to save her. The problem is, she’ll drown anyone who comes close enough to help. You are left with two options, leave her there to drown, or drown alongside her. Both decisions are painful. Both decisions hurt. But only one decision is preserving.
It may be sad, but it’s true, and that is why the guilt will no longer eat away at me. Cyndi, at So Much More Than A Mom, sums it up perfectly when she says, “It is incredibly difficult and painful…. she raised you to blame yourself for everything. But it is necessary to put the blame where it rightfully belongs.”
And that is what I will do.
And more importantly, I feel good about the decision. It wasn’t easy to make, but it feels like a weight has been lifted, and that despite the pain it causes, its for the better.For me, and for my children. As Cyndi said… The behavior does not stop once the child reaches adulthood. It will continue throughout the child’s life, or until the child no longer allows it. There is no middle ground. There is no playing nice. In the world of the narcissist, it is all or none. They’re playing a game, and there is only one rule; they will win at all costs.
Danny has been a non-stop fuss bucket for the last three days, and at first we couldn’t figure out why. I checked his mouth last night, and lo-and-behold, he’s got a tooth popped through on his top gum. Then, this morning, Dan tells me that he has THREE teeth coming through. I didn’t believe him, so I check, and he doesn’t have three teeth coming in, he has FOUR teeth coming in on top! No wonder my poor baby is miserable! He’s been really clingy, and just wanting to nurse all the time. He’ll nurse long enough, and hard enough, that I end up getting let-down three times in one nursing! He usually never nurses that strong! My poor little guy.
Blueberry is adjusting well. He does really great with the kids, although sometimes I wish he WOULD turn around and claw Maddi when she’s mean to him. Maybe then she’d understand he dosen’t like it, and she’d stop. But no, he’s too sweet. He lets her get away with it. He really likes Danny though, and curls up with him a lot. And Dan is his favorite. He curls up with Dan a lot, which is funny because Dan tries to tell me he dosen’t like cats, yet he plays with blueberry just as much, if not more than the rest of us!
School is going okay. I’m kind of losing my motivation. I just don’t enjoy my classes because they aren’t what I’m interested in, you know?
I got all of my coursework to begin my childbirth educator certification. Which, I am super excited about. I also got my breastfeeding counselor coursework, and birth and post partum doula coursework as well. I’m so excited for it!
Anways, just a short update!
Be sure to check out my review blog. I’ve got a few giveaways going on over there! We’re giving away a Medela freestyle breast pump, a woombie, a juppy baby walker, and a surprise giveaway for nursing moms!
Okay…. Long story, but bear with me.
We got blueberry (our orange tabby cat) after he was abandoned on someone’s porch in Indiana as a kitten. He’s the sweetest guy ever. We even brought him back to Alaska when we moved up here.
Anyways, when my mom and step-dad split, things got really ugly. I mean, REALLY ugly. Curt didn’t want to keep the cats (blueberry and lily) and he told me that if I couldn’t find a home for them by 3:30 they’d be gone. I couldn’t take them, because I was living with Curt at the time. I found a friend of Dan’s to take them, and I called Curt. It was too late for lily. He already offed her. But blueberry was still alive. I drove home so fast and got him! I almost cried when I gave him to Hannah, but she’s a really nice girl and she loves animals.
Anyways, Hannah and her boyfriend broke up in August, and her boyfriend (also named Dan) was keeping the cats. Anyways, Hannah moved to Hawaii two months ago, and when her ex, Dan found out she had a new boyfriend, I guess he started getting really mad and telling Hannah that he didn’t want to keep the cats, even though Hannah was giving him money for them. She told him to call me and Dan and have us take Blueberry because she knew we would take good care of him.
Dan B. (her ex) called my Dan a week ago, and Dan forgot to tell me. Anyways, i got ahold of Dan B, asking when i could come get blueberry and whatnot and he told me he already got rid of him. I practically begged him to ask whoever he gave him to let me have him back. I offered to give him/them twenty bucks and reimburse them for any food or litter they bought. Dan B seemed like he didn’t want to ask for him back and said it was weird to ask for them back, but he said he would. Hannah even tried pleading with him to get him to tell use who he gave blueberry to.
The next night I texted and asked if there was any word on blueberry. He said “Nope.”
Anyways, i decided to post something on craigslist looking for blueberry, and then on Dog Gone news (a program our radio station has to help people find their pets). I saw a link to the animal shelter and on a whim I thought I should call. I almost didn’t call because Dan B had said he gave them to someone, so why bother with the pound?!?
Anyways, i call, and the people at the pound tell me that they DO have a cat matching blueberry’s description at the pound and that he had been left there with another cat in a rubbermaid container. And the other cat matched the description of the other cat Hannah had. The f***ed up part was that he put the food on top of the hole in the tub and they couldn’t breathe and the other cat (not blueberry) died!!!! But blueberry managed to move the food away through the hole so he could breathe!
So, my mom and I went in the next morning. We would have gone in the same day, but I hadn’t called them until 15 minutes before they closed, so there was no way I would have made it to town before they closed. Anyways, I was so nervous. My heart was racing and my head was pounding. I almost feel silly being so worked up over a cat, but I was just so worried about him! And he’s part of our family! When we went into the shelter, the worker at the desk was actually looking at the craigslist ad I had posted for blueberry when I still believed that Dan B. had given them away to someone. She told me she’s almost positive that the cat they had was ours. I held my breath and when we walked into the cat room….
It was blueberry!!!!
I was so elated I almost cried! He didn’t see us at first, and he just looked so dejected and scared…. but as soon as he looked up, he saw my mom and he just lit up! He practically attacked the cage door and meowed at us until he was let out and then he just wanted us to hold him! It was just awesome! I can’t even describe how good I felt about it all.
Anyways, the lady at the shelter was awesome, and didn’t even charge us to take him home, which really helped, because we needed the money to get Blueberry a box, and some food and litter.
Blueberry had to fight to live for almost ten hours before the workers got there and freed him from the rubbermaid tote that became a deathbox for his friend, who died next to him. Can you imagine how he must have felt? Struggling frantically for almost ten hours, all the while, his best friend dying right next to him, and when she did die, the tote being so small, that he was forced to stand on top of her until the workers arrived at the pound and were able to rescue him?! I can’t imagine the fear, the panic, the adrenaline rush he must have been feeling.
And you have no idea how enraged I am that someone did this to Blueberry. I don’t care who you are or what your problem is, you NEVER take out your anger at another person out on an innocent animal who has done nothing to you! It’s completely messed up, and I’m sorry… But no decent person… Animal lover or not…. Does that to an animal. And why would he lie to me and tell me he had already given them away…when really, he still had them and took them to the pound an hour or two after I got ahold of him.
I’m just so glad Blueberry is okay. His claws are messed up and a couple of them are falling out, mostly likely from when he was struggling and forcing his paw through the hole in the box.
He’s bounced back to normal though. He was skittish at first… But he’s doing much better.
I’ve been kind of lazy about updating lately. Sorry. My bad.
Things are going better on this end. Danny is feeling MUCH better, which I am super thankful for. I was so worried about him. Turns out he had the staph AND a strep infection at the same time. Definitely not cool. I’m just glad he’s okay.
On a lighter note, my little guy has a tooth! It’s just a teensy weensy tiny little thing, but it’s still a tooth. You can’t really see it, because it’s just the tip, and its barely out of the gum, but its there! It’s exciting but it makes me sad at the same time. He’s almost nine months old. It’s about time he got some teethers going!
Maddi is speaking much better. She still has issues pronouncing things, and trying to use words (she prefers to whine and cry… which she doesn’t get away with anymore). She just has to stop being lazy. She dosen’t like using words, and it’s pretty obvious she’d rather just grunt and get what she wants… But that doesn’t float anymore, not that it did before, but we’ve become much more strict about the no-whining-and-grunting-policy.
I’m struggling with my weight again. Don’t really know what else to say on that subject. Except that I’m struggling and I feel like I’m huge. Regardless of what everyone says and what my husband thinks. I know I’m not fat, in my logical mind. But I also know everyone’s lying when they say I’m not fat. I hate these feelings. But I knew they’d be back eventually, and quite frankly, I’m tired of fighting it. I knew that as soon as danny needed me less for nourishment, that this is what would happen.
On a much happier note, Dan was working our taxes… and I’m freaking excited. We’re going to get enough back to pay off ALL of our debt, AND have some left over. Which is awesome. I’m excited. I can’t wait. We’ll be able to pay off EVERYTHING (except the house). So this means, credit cards, collections, and our car! I’m so flipping excited. This is going to make our lives MUCH easier. Maybe we can even start building up a savings.
On top of that, I’m thinking I might adopt our next child. I’ve been putting a great deal of thought into it. I haven’t decided for sure yet, but I’m thinking I will. I’d really like to. I may, I may not. We may decide to try for our own, or adopt. I know we’ll adopt eventually, but we may or may not adopt our next child. It depends on how much we’ve saved up, and whether we’re in a bigger house, or what not.
Anyways, that’s my blurb.
Today kind of sucks.
I’m trying not to let it get to me, but today is one year since I lost my baby. It’s really hard to not get upset. I know that I wasn’t that far along… But it still hurts. It makes me really sad and I have a hard time with it.
I’m trying to be positive and think about the things that happened positively… Like that I became even more resolved to fix things with my husband (at the time we were having problems) and I got pregnant with Danny shortly after… And if I hadn’t had the miscarriage, I wouldn’t have had him… I try to think of those things to keep me from being sad…
But it still hurts.