Monday, October 29, 2012

The kitchen towel

The story of the kitchen towel is a great example of the reoccurring moments of getting a weird 'present' from NM.

We met, and NM became very cheerful, announcing that she intends to give me a kitchen towel as a gift.

(Note: It is difficult to find good kitchen towels. Most of them look nice, but don't absorb water, which I would want to use them for. I have only 2 that can be used for anything other than decoration.)

The kitchen towel she waves in front of me looks like the old-fashioned water-absorbing one, but I get suspicious. So I ask whether it is an old one from her collection of 'good kitchen towels' (which I would really like to have). I then tell her that I don't need another kitchen towel to consume space in my wardrobe, only if it serves its purpose.

NM is surprised. She becomes sad and wants to know why I refuse accepting a gift. I slowly repeat the sentence above.

She gets more confused and then proves me that it in fact does absorb water, by pouring water on a plate and then wiping it. I become even more suspicious.

I sort of blurt out OK and tell her that if that is the case, I do accept it, and think that I might get rid of it anyway.

The punchline: She explains that it must have belonged to someone else who hung it on a clothesline to dry, since she found it in the dirt. The proudly announces that she managed to wash it three times, so it must be clean. And adds, in an I-will-be-deeply-hurt-if-you-reject-my-wonderful-gift voice that of course if I don't trust her washing abilities, I can reject her gift, and she will be very sorry and sad.

Minus points for me: I took the freakin' towel.
Plus point for me: I will give it to the homeless, along with the clothes that she sometimes dumps on me.
To practice: Saying no for 'gifts' like this.

Why didn't it seem this weird when it was actually happening, as it seems now? I mean how disgusting this whole idea is? Giving your child a 'gift' that you actually stole from someone else (I know, it fell off, but still, what if they weren't home and would be looking for it? And now I sort of feel responsible), and it was on the ground, in the dirt, and you want them to use it on your clean dishes that you eat from? This is gross on so many levels.


  1. I always have to question anything my NM gives me. I also have to question when she asks if I like something. I can't say "yes" or "no." I have to know why she's asking.

    1. I'm learning how to question now. First it seems unusual and wrong for me to question my mother's intent. And then I realize, that it is the most reasonable thing to do.
      Good that you do that!

  2. Wow. When it comes to crappy gifts, I have a long way to go. I just can't bring myself to believe I deserve anything real or nice - or that I need it in the first place.

    I'm now wearing a jacket my NF bought me. He said it'd been a "sale." The jacket is very obviously second-hand, I mean frayed and slightly damaged and just so obviously very used.

    It was disappointing to discover that a) of course, he'd lied and b) he bought me a cheap second-hand jacket, but I'm still wearing it because c) I don't think I deserve to buy myself a new one. That I'm entitled to a new, nice-looking jacket.

    When it comes to "stuff," I haven't even begun healing.

    One good thing - I immediately throw out suspicious-looking toys he gets for my kids.

    1. You DO deserve stuff. And you DO deserve good and proper stuff.

      I've read at several blogs that narcs tend to give second-hand or no-value stuff as presents. Your NF seems to be no exception to this.

      You deserve a nice-looking jacket. Just as anyone else does. (and I know this is easier said than done)

      I am absolutely sure that you can imagine a jacket that would look awesome on you. Search for it. And when you see it, buy it. For yourself. If you feel unable to do so, drag someone along and make them convince you that you do deserve it. It helps ;)

      (this is how I bought my second musical instrument for myself, I actually had to have a musician friend stand beside me chanting "Scatha-you-do-deserve-this-now-buy-it!" And now I'm very happy playing it, and didn't regret buying it.)

      Good that you have a good eye for deciding what your kids can get and what not. It means that you can do it :)

  3. It is sad to me that things like "gifts" can be used in their sick little wars.
    The towel was gross. And stolen. And she was proud of it. And when you wouldn't lower yourself and take it (because frankly, that's what you deserved in her mind, a dirty stolen dish towel) she got angry at you for it. Sick and gross.

    1. Thank you for the affirmation. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who finds it gross.

      (And I vaguely remember being in situations like this and not finding them gross at all, since I was conditioned to accepting sh*t and being compelled to treasure it and pay for it heavily. I don't want to be like that anymore.)

  4. ^Second all the above.
    Scatha, Look, you DID do something HUGELY different here: YOU QUESTIONED. Something you would never have done before. IMO, that's huge "over-all" step. Really. Your frame of reference is changing, slowly but surely. In this respect, I'm not simply referring to the towel but how you NOW VIEW transactions of any type with her. In effect, the towel is a "stand-in" so to speak for how you view her, yourself, your INTERACTION with her, your relationship with her.
    IMO, that represents a significant shift in your paradigm, in your internal world as it played out in your external world. No small feat for any of us!

    1. THANKS! I didn't think at first that this was a step at all. I guess I should read one of my older posts that describes injunctions and drivers... I had the 'perfection' driver installed, and I guess I felt that I even have to heal perfectly.

      Thanks for pointing it out that I am actually doing better. It feels so great now :) And you are right, before I wouldn't have questioned it. :)

  5. I think you made great strides by asking a few questions and not worrying about displaying the towel for your NM. Back in the day, I would have pulled it out of the drawer for every visit and pretended to treasure it.

    Give yourself a break. Most of us got where we are by taking baby steps which is way better than no steps!

    Best gift ever was the $1000 my NPs deposited in my bank account to help cover my gas when I was running to their place several times a week following their car accident. It was one of their backhanded putdowns because I can well afford gas but they love to pretend they have way more money than I do. This was a couple of months before Xmas and in the interim they would call now and then asking me to pick up (and pay for) things they needed...a microwave, a VCR/DVD player, a toaster, various grocery items, underwear for NM, etc. Gas was costing me around $75 a week.

    Here's the cool part: When I got my Xmas cheque they added a note telling me it was less than usual because they'd DEDUCTED the $1000 they had already "given" me!

    1. Thanks! Now that you mention pretending to treasure stuff, I used to do that also. :) I am now proud of myself that I didn't feel the need to do that at all :)

      OMG. I became angry just by reading the gas money and deduction part. They are all the same, aren't they. They are like the perfect accountant ever, keeping in mind every cent they gave you. And then wanting to make you pay. The price is double, for the gifts.

  6. Sometimes I choose to pick my battles. Taking it then planning to give it away to me is a totally acceptable solution to the immediate problem. As a suggestion, the reason it didn't seem weird at the time is you probably played out the same scene before. First step is questioning yourself and your situation.


Comments are welcome!