Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hey, you selfish people! I've got something to say to you!

Yesterday I wrote on my FaceBook page: “Sweet Violet is annoyed at selfish people who think their immediate petty concerns and personal biases are more important than loving and supporting members of their families on momentous occasions.” Several people agreed with me…and why not?

I have a friend who is getting married soon…the countdown is now being ticked off in days, it is so close. Three weeks before the wedding, the Matron of Honour, the bride’s sister, announced she would not be with the bride before the wedding helping her prepare, because she had “other plans”!

Hold on! Other plans?? WTF??

It seems that the bride, assuming her sister knew that being Matron of Honour was not just an empty honorary title but includes the honour of helping the bride with the last moment preparations, neglected to specifically ask her sister to help her prepare. The sister actually told the bride “if you had asked me back in June, it would be different but now I have made plans of my own…”

OK, I don’t know if the sister thought the bride had let her off the hook or if she honestly didn’t know that helping the bride was part of the duty she accepted when she accepted her part in the wedding party or if she felt slighted because the bride neglected to specifically ask her to be her personal attendant before the ceremony (that is why they are called “bridal attendants,” people…because you tend to the bride!), but the fact that the sister would not rearrange her schedule to properly fulfil her obligations—and help her sister—qualifies the woman, in my book, for the title of “Unmitigated Bitch of the Year.” Getting her hair and nails done with a sister-in-law from out of town (for this wedding, nogal,) has a higher priority than being with her sister as she prepares to wed for the first time? I do not think so!!

The bride, of course, is very hurt by this and her fiancé is, predictably, angry about it. But one thing the sister (and co-conspirator sister-in-law) are probably not realizing is that their behaviour is terribly revealing of the selfishness of their characters. The bride, hurt by what feels like an abandonment and a betrayal, is seeing certain of her family members in the harsh and revealing light of reality and, while she does not like what she is seeing, she is a smart woman and she is learning lessons from this. By this act of casual cruelty these women have shown that their own petty concerns supersede the bonds of family: making sure they are coiffed and manicured, that their own personal appearance is flawless, obviously comes before helping their family member, the bride, shine her brightest on this, her most special day.

Another friend of mine is getting married in just a few weeks, and much of her family has told her they will not be in attendance, including her parents. Why? Because she is not marrying a person of whom they approve. Now, I have met the affianced and I think it is a brilliant match. They complement each other where it is needed, they share enough interests to not be in regular conflict…and the love between them is palpable. But because The One is not one they would have chosen for their daughter, her parents are staying away on this momentous occasion. They have a bias against the chosen one and, truth is, it doesn’t matter if the bias is based on race, age, gender, religion or anything else, it is a bias and hugging their bias self-righteously to their breasts is more important to them than their daughter’s wedding and future happiness. How myopic and self-absorbed can these people be?

I have some friends who, like me, were cursed with a self-absorbed, self-centred, narcissistic parent. Some of them were so unfortunate as to have been saddled with two narcissistic parents! Believe me, a parent who thinks s/he is the centre of the known universe and everyone else exists to serve their wants, needs, and whims, is a pretty tough way to grow up. And, sadly, narcissistic parents don’t let go when their kids reach adulthood and go out on their own. Many narcissistic mothers see their kids, particularly their daughters, as extensions of themselves and are relentless in their attempts to exert control over them, no matter how old they are or how far they move away. They will manipulate other family members, lie about the “errant child,” create crises in which they appear to be the maligned victims (and the “errant child” the perp), and even go so far as to try to sabotage their child’s relationships with her own children, partner, and sometimes even employment. The happiness and well-being of the targeted child is considered only insofar as it directly affects the parent: in any contest between the parent’s wishes being fulfilled and the offspring’s happiness, invariably the parent sacrifices the child.

This kind of narcissism is not limited to family dynamics and when it is, it by no means operates only from the parent down to the child. Children, particularly adult children, can be just as destructively selfish and self-interested with regard to their parents. At one end of the spectrum are those who simply abandon their parents without cause (or with causes they have created in their minds in order to justify their abandonment) and at the other end are those who engage in elder abuse, even worse, in their quest for personal gratification and fulfilment. In both cases, though, these are people who lack compassion and empathy for others, particularly members of their families…oftentimes a specifically selected member…and who happily seize their own happiness at the expense of others.

My friends are getting married but in both cases, their days will be tarnished by the knowledge that people they love and care for do not love and care for them enough to set aside petty concerns and personal biases and join together in the celebration of their happiness. If you are a person who has refused to attend a wedding because you have some issue with one of the participants (or even a guest…perhaps your ex and his new bride are going to be there) I urge you to rethink this…your behaviour on this one day will be forever remembered. Your absence in the wedding photos…or worse, your sour, disapproving face…will forever be a reminder to your loved one that you refused, for just a few hours, to put aside your biases and ill feelings and share your loved one’s happiness. You will not only will forever tarnish the joy of the event and its memories, you may well rupture your relationship with your loved one for the rest of time.

Here is what I have to say to you: Grow up! Suck it up! Quit being so self-absorbed and selfish! There are things in life more important than your petty concerns, and the rest of your child’s life, your sister’s future happiness, your son’s marriage to the love of his live…all are more important than a bias or a prejudice you may well reverse at a later date. You cannot, however, later reverse your rejection and mean-spiritedness on that special day…so grow up and put on a happy face and celebrate your loved one’s special day. There will be plenty of days in the future for you to resume your spoilsport ways.


  1. I love this article as I love all your articles thank you for articulating what I feel in my heart!

    your prodigal daughter :-)

  2. Excellent and accurate writing.

    Larry Vashon

  3. This is an outstanding piece of writing and expresses my sentiments so well I shouted - YES! at the end.

  4. I caused a fight with my older sister (60 I am 58) we are so different, once she said to me that she was 'sorry she wasn't the sister I wanted' I was sorry too, sorry that I showed my disappointment and hurt from her actions.. my mother made her center of the universe and that is where she has always been and will be.. your posting of your thoughts helped me.. 50 years of hearing all about 'her' is enough.. that I was one who gave and gave and she took and took hurts.. BUT one can learn, even at 58.. again thank you.


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