Friday, November 04, 2011

THE PAIN OF BEING FORGOTTEN

Many of us have spent birthdays or some gift-giving holiday forgotten about by that person who we thought was our special someone or worse, by one or more of our family members. After the initial shock or dismay of realizing we’ve been forgotten wears off, we experience that questioning period and ask, how could this have happened? Many of us answer that question by feeling compelled to make excuses for the other person’s bad behavior and obvious indifference towards us. After all, how could someone who loves us treat us that way? We feel embarrassed and reluctant to say the truth out loud!

Next comes the anger usually followed by either an ugly confrontation that leads to lame excuses being made by the other person or silence where we let our feelings fester in silence. At this point we have a decision to make. Either we read the writing on the wall and like ourselves enough to say thanks, but no thanks and move on or we commit ourselves to an unsatisfying one-sided relationship where the mold has already been cast. For those of us who have taken the road of departure, the reality of how harsh living that way was, is seen in full when we finally meet someone who truly does care. That person will remember birthdays and special days just because they really do love us and seeing us smile is all they need or want. Unfortunately, I've yet to have that experience with this magical, mythical, mystical creature, but I haven't given up hope yet. Perhaps Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny can help me out.

Being forgotten about by our families is a little more complex. As an adult I can count on my brothers not acknowledging my birthday. After all I have revealed about them, I'm sure that comes as no surprise. The surprise is when they do remember me and call to wish me a happy birthday. That mold was cast many, many years ago and remains virtually untouched to this day. Sure, I have mixed feelings about it. Yes, part of me would love to have three older brothers I feel love me and care about me, but a bigger part of me would feel skeptical towards any such display. The coup de grâce in being forgotten for me is having my own mother forget me. Sure, I could mark it on her calendar, but why bother when she doesn't look at the calendar? I could ask her if she's forgotten something, but why bother making both of us feel bad? Suffering in silence is the name of that old familiar game where my family is concerned. It's too late to change, so all I can do is recognize our shortcomings and accept them. And because I like myself and haven't gotten to the point of forgetting my own birthday and Christmas, I always buy myself a present.

6 comments:

  1. When I was 10, my parents joined a religious cult that forbid us to celebrate any and all holidays. I can sympathize with your feelings of being forgotten. Although my situation was a “mandatory forgetting” I understand your pain of being forgotten all too well. I’m proud of you for buying presents for yourself! Hugs to you

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  2. Adi, I can't even imagine what it must have been like being raised with no gift giving...did that include birthdays as well?

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  3. sad how as the years go by I have come to be surprised if anyone family or otherwise remembers my b-day anymore..
    It hurt at first,but the day has become what I make of it, now that expectations are gone.

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  4. no one can hurt us quite like our own flesh and blood. they do it effortlessly and without thought of eventual damage to our psyches.

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  5. Great post. (Sounds like a spam comment, I'll expound.) My Aunt Vi made birthdays a big deal. She had LOTS of friends and 6 siblings, all the cards/gifts she got and sent. I saw my future that way. HA! Once I saw the hypocrisy of some family members, was teased at school, verbally abused by my brothers, my future looked bleak in the "like Aunt Vi" dept. and when I turned 16, Aunt Vi insisted on a party (I wanted to be off with my lover.), my brothers totally forgot so the 23 year old brother took out a $5 bill and gave it to me, forcing my 24yr old jerk brother to do the same. I swore then and there:NO MORE BIRTHDAY PARTIES. And that was in fact my last. When I got into my 40s I hoped to resurrect the card giving, but none of my friends were into that--it failed. After my bff started forgetting my b'day--it was "screw it." Now the USPS is going down, Aunt Vi is dead (she and Mom only cards I'd get and AV had to guilt my mom into it), "screw it." My partner never forgets, she will never forget. That IS a special thing and I don't take it for granted, but I am not an island with her and a large part of me sees how little I REALLY mean to my remaining family and friends. People who know me the least seem to want to remember me the most...how do you think THAT feels? What can I extrapolate from THAT? My problem is my own making in the friends arena---I am drawn to people who wouldn't care about such silly things as b'days, yet I am somehow hurt by being forgotten. NOW at 54, my family who are fine with not thinking about me can go to Hell, and such friends? Eh, whatever, I will work on not thinking about them.

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  6. I think we all get slack and distracted and forget things that are important to people we love. I actually think in many cases it is forgivable and that really the source of our pain in these situations is our own expectations. That said I also feel the pain.
    Once, many years ago, my mother was overseas on my birthday (she who normally would cook a scrumptious birthday dinner) and I looked forward to hearing from her and waited for a call that never came... I was REALLY UPSET! She thought the pay phones in the US were just a bit too hard to operate and figured I would know she was thinking of me...
    My brothers are another story, and I am about to write a blog about the disappointments of family. There is a general apathy that is really quite hurtful and missed birthdays are only the tip of the iceberg!
    I'm sorry this stuff is hurting so much and though it is not much consolation in the moment remember the people who contribute from a distance and know that we comment cause we care.

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