Wow. Susan has always been a shitty gift-giver. Joe used to be superb at choosing presents, but then he got married and Susan took over and that was the end of that.
Quoted excerpt is from here.
My mother didn’t give gifts to me in the same way she wanted to receive them for herself. Once again this is an example of how controlling and manipulative people live by two different sets of rules. The rules that apply to her, and the rules that apply to others…If my gifts to her defined my love for her and her worth in my eyes then I thought it would stand to reason that the same was true for her when she gave a gift to me.When it came to me and the gifts that my mother would choose for me, the gifts always seemed practical or convenient. She hated those kinds of gifts for herself, but she bought them for me.It seems odd to me that she would buy me gifts that would have disappointed her; gifts that would have “defined her” as less than worthy of a major splurge gift.If my gifts to my mother defined or proved my love for her and made a statement TO her about HER worth in my eyes then it would stand to reason that the same was true for her when she gave a gift to me.Today I realize that her gifts to me were in fact another way of keeping me defined as less valuable than she was. Upon closer examination, if my gifts defined my love for her and her worth in my eyes, than judging by the gifts she chose for me, it would stand to reason the same belief actually WAS true for her.In truth, she was giving me gifts according to her own belief system. She believed that I was not worthy of thought and consideration in the way that I had to prove she was worthy of thought and consideration.Her double standard (in her view) wasn’t odd at all. It was actually a truth leak about the way she regarded me as “less” than herself.
So the best story I can tell about Susan’s gift-giving was the year I was getting married. I had gone to their house to have dinner, by myself, which probably means my husband (at that time, my husband-to-be) was traveling.
After dinner, I was talking about wedding plans and so on. Now, we got married in October, so presumably this has to have been at least September, but probably even earlier in the year.
At one point Susan looks at Joe and says, “Should I ask her?” Joe says, “No, she’s got enough other stuff on her mind.” Susan replies, “I’ll ask her.”
Susan then explains to me that she has gotten my name for the annual gift exchange, and wants to know if I would like one of these? And she shows me a vest she has sewn — you know the type. It is made out of tapestry fabric and has some kind of Santa Claus holiday print on it and it is very folksy and it is just obviously absolutely not my style at all.
So what do you say to that? “Geez, Susan, what on earth would make you think I’d ever wear a thing like that?”
Of course not. You’re a guest in their home, you’ve just been fed a nice meal, you say, “Well, that’s very nice.”
I even wore the damned thing a couple of times, and I think when someone complimented me on it I gave it to them.
It was the first time I realized that Susan was manipulative. The words I came up with to describe it were, “She asks questions in such a way as to get the answer that she wants.”
Or, as in the first part of the story — with my brother, who gave an answer she didn’t want to hear — she just ignores it.