I tried to find him a gift he would love for his birthday. It was always hard, he was picky and it didn’t seem to matter what I got him……. if it came from me, he would find a problem with it. I had listened to him for weeks leading up to this day….waiting for him to mention something he was in need of or wanted. Socks, I know that he mentioned socks. Not like socks are exciting, but at least he had mentioned them. I was sure this year….maybe this year he would just be thankful.
Just like every special occasion, this was his birthday and I tried so hard to make him happy. The presents were wrapped nicely and we were excited to wish him a Happy Birthday. As he opened the presents from the boys he thanked them and hugged them. He seemed to be in a good mood, but I found myself holding my breath as he ripped the paper.
“Please like them.” I pleaded with him silently.
I used to love giving presents, but not anymore. I felt shame! No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t pick something that he liked. “I am a bad gift giver”, I thought.
This year was no different, he immedialty began insulting the socks.
“How much did they cost?”
“They are too much!”
“I don’t need them, I needed snowboarding socks.”
I was so upset that I snapped back, “Just another way I failed again.” My heart sunk with my head. I lowered my eyes feeling like a failure again. “I should be able to get this right. We have been married for 18 years….why can’t I get this right?” I asked myself.
I was full of shame and I didn’t know how to win. If I didn’t get him a present I felt like I was being a bad wife, and if I did get him a present I felt shame because no matter how hard I tried I could never choose the right gift. I wanted to disappear into my room and cry, but I didn’t want to ruin the day.
I did take a few minutes to myslef to figure out what was going on. I was not proud of my first response, so I got control over my shame and went calmly.
I found him and said, “Every year for Christmas, birthday’s, anniversaries I try so hard to get you something nice because I want to make you happy. I love you, but you are never happy with what I get. I just don’t know what to do.”
Years of ungrateful left me with a trigger
Still to this day I don’t understand why he could never be thankful or grateful for gifts that I gave him. For years I took it personal and without really knowing what was happening I became afraid to give gifts. I felt so much shame around gifts. I would take responsibility when he hated them.
I would ask mysefl questions like: “Why couldn’t I pick good gifts? What was wrong with me?”
Giving gifts became a trigger, I was afraid that the receiver would hate what I had to offer. For a long time I stopped giving gifts as readily.
Giving the first gift to my new husband
I was more than nervous when I gave my new husband the first gift. It was Christmas 2014, we had been dating for a few months and I wanted to give him something nice, but I was scared to death. This was the first time I really recognized the damage my ex-husband had done. I was a nervous wreck. I planned, and thought about what to give. Then I doubted my decision over and over again. Every day I thought…. maybe I should just take it back. Even after he opened it and loved it I still worried.
Over the years I had taken my husband’s ungrateful, mean attitude about gifts personal, and I had taken it as something that I was doing wrong. That somehow I was just ‘A BAD GIFT GIVER.’
The worst gift giver ever
The incident above with my first husband happened on his 40th Birthday, and Ironically today is my new husbands 40th birthday. It has been over 3 years since my divorce, and I still struggle with giving gifts. I have to talk myself through it because I am so worried that people will hate what I have to offer. Slowly…..I am changing old patterns and letting go of the fact that my ex-husbands inability to accept gifts graciously NEVER had anything to do with me.
Even if I was the worst gift giver ever I didn’t deserve how badly my ex-husband made me feel when it came to gifts. I realize that It is our responsibility to be grateful …..even when we receive things that we don’t like or need. It was his responsibiity to handle things in a kind way even if he didn’t like it.
His inability to accept what I had to offer, never meant that what I had to offer wasn’t enough. ~ Norma Zaugg
What I have to offer is enough an what you have to offer is enough, WE ARE ENOUGH!