Bad Birthday

They happen every year and you have come to dread the appearance of both your own birthdays and mine. You would much rather neither taken place if you are entirely honest. The day is spent treading on eggshells as you await the inevitable argument and dressing down that you will receive. The annual sense of disappointment will happen again and again and you hope somehow it will change, but it never does.

Let’s begin with my birthday. You dedicate time and money to making my birthday an enjoyable and memorable occasion. I dedicate a degree of energy to ensure that it is memorable, but for the wrong reasons. You plan something special to mark the occasion and go to considerable lengths to organise a surprise party or a trip out somewhere you believe I will like. You scour catalogues and the Internet trying to find that gift you hope will make me break out in a smile. Most normal people will be happy with half the effort you put into pleasing me on my birthday. Not me. The occasion may involve a grand day out and a spectacular gift but just as it did last year and the year before that, it will end in an argument and us lashing out at you.

On the face of it, one would imagine that just for once we would get throughout the day without causing some kind of drama. After all, the day is all about us. Exactly what we like and what we want. People wish us happy birthday, they send us cards, they give us presents and you run around lifting and carrying for us (even more than usual). The spotlight is firmly on us. We drink up all this fuel but still we want more. Every single second has to be about us. Do not expect us to thank you or anyone else who provides us with a gift. Remember, we are entitled to receive them. We may have received gifts of twenty people but you know that all we will harp on about is the person we did not get a gift from whom we expected to. That becomes the focus of our irritation. The brilliant and thoughtful gifts are left to one side as we rail against this one person who has not bought us something. It does not matter that they send a card, it does not matter that we did not send them a gift on their birthday (and never have done), and it does not matter that nobody else would expect this distant relative to send such a gift. We will raise it and repeat it and rant about it.

Woe betides you if you do not give to us the exact gift we expected. If you fail to do this we will comment and lash out at you. You cannot possibly love us since you did not give us the right gift. We conveniently ignore the fact that what you have brought us is still a wonderful gift and we actually do like it. That is not the point. It is not the gift we wanted and you will be subjected to our scathing remarks. If by sheer dint of exhaustive effort you manage, against all the odds, to work out what we want (don’t expect us to help you by explaining what we want, we expect you to know this through telepathy) and give us the right gift, do not expect smiles and thanks. We need to make a scene. Instead, we will remark,

“I see you finally got it right. It does not really make up for all the years you got it wrong does it?”

You can never win when it comes to providing us with gifts. We will always want to put you down no matter what you have done and irrespective of the effort and expense that you have gone to. We will always be unsatisfied and this will manifest in us giving you a dressing down in front of everyone at the party, or storming out of the venue at some sleight. Every year you will hear the same stinging accusation ringing in your ears,

“You’ve ruined my birthday. Again.”

When it comes to your birthday the position is just as bad. We will routinely pretend to forget about it. Do not be fooled by our repeated apparent memory lapses. We have minds that remember everything and our powers of recall are spectacular. We know your birthday is on the horizon and with most things with us it generates two reactions. On the one hand we resent the forthcoming anniversary because it is a day geared towards the individual, namely you. It is not about us and we cannot stand that. It is rare that you ever allow the spotlight to be shone on you (by now you are so used to having to point it at us, you give up on it ever being fixed on you) but you do hold out the futile notion that it might still be done on your birthday, of all days. We find this galling. This is a day that will be about you and thus where will we get our fuel? Its approach generates dread and horror inside of us.

Conversely, we relish your birthday because we know, despite every previous disappointment, you still hold out hope that this year it might just be different. You pray to your own personal god that please, just for one, the day can pass without incident and you can enjoy yourself. You are not particularly bothered about doing anything special, perhaps a meal out somewhere and the gift need not be expensive, just so long as it exhibits that some kind of thought has gone into it. Your thoughts are based on hope as opposed to expectation. It will not be different because we need to spoil it; we need to make you feel upset and demeaned. To achieve this there are various things that we will do on your birthday.

  1. We forget about it completely. If you mention at 6pm that evening that it is your birthday we will lash out at you by explaining how busy we have been at work or that there has been some other pressing matter which means that it has slipped our minds. We deliberately forget about it and we will not countenance you criticising our omission.
  2. We organise something lavish but we know it is not something you will actually like. As usual, you put a brave face on it and fix a rigid smile to your face. We know what you are really thinking because we know it is not something you like. In fact, it is more likely that we have organised something that we enjoy. We do this so that everyone else can see what a grand and delightful gesture we have made and we drink in his or her admiration. It also enables us to poke at you repeatedly suggesting that you don’t like it. We are goading you into making a tiny admission that it is not quite what you expected and then we erupt in self-indignant fury as we castigate you for being ungrateful after all the effort we have gone to.
  3. We buy some token gesture and point out that your 43rd birthday is not really something to celebrate is it? It is hardly a milestone. We then use this to remark on your advancing years and point out your various flaws.
  4. We organise a lovely birthday for you but spoil it by turning the spotlight back onto ourselves. We turn up late, we flirt with a guest or we manufacture some drama so that everyone is looking at us and not you. We complain at waiters when there is a family meal out, when there is not actual need to do so. We want to make a scene and wrench the spotlight back over to us.
  5. We remember your birthday and spend it doing what you want and we are pleasant to you until early evening when we deliberately pick a fight with you over absolutely nothing. The fuel we gain from this behaviour is all the sweeter as we have built you up, your guarded behaviour has melted away as we appear to have done everything that pleases you. We are waiting. We are waiting for you to feel good and happy and then we will cast you down so your emotional reaction is all the more heightened.

This behaviour is not just reserved for your birthday although we enjoy ruining your birthday the most. We do this with the birthdays of our children, friends and family. We hate it being about someone else and we hate seeing him or her being happy. In our world, nobody else is allowed a birthday and we believe that every day is our birthday and everyone should recognise that and act accordingly.

We know that you would rather your birthday be erased from the calendar. It is always a horrible day in one form or another and you would rather it not take place. We put a big red ring around it in the calendar in our mind and scribble next to the day the words, “ Special Fuel Day.”



  1. He full filled my wish for my last birthday and gave me a trip to Arizona. We went a month later. On the first day we went for a hike. I’m in much better shape than he is. And then he tripped. It was nothing, he didn’t even fall. The result of this was complete silence for the entire trip. 4 days. I was on my own and made the best out of it, drove around, did sightseeing, went for lunches and dinner alone while he stayed in the hotel room and watched tv. He started talking again on the flight home.
    He also gives presents days or weeks early, does the same with his kids. It’s never a special day.

    1. Did he try to guilt you (silently–using wounded eyes, etc.) into staying in the hotel with him, as HG did on that ski trip?
      Brava to you for going out and doing fun stuff anyway.

      1. Thank you, Violetta.
        Wounded eyes – hahaha, exactly. And wounded everything. Slow movements, slumped body, grief… no anger, though, that one came later when we were back home. As usual I couldn’t figure out what he wanted me to do. I asked if I should stay with him in the hotel, no answer. I asked if he wants to come with me to dinner, no answer, etc. I had to get out of that room and away from him because I felt suffocated. Those 4 nights in bed I would only see his back. He had built a wall out of pillows between our bodies. No words, no intimacy, nothing. As if he was dead. Scary. I’m guessing that whatever we do in those situations is wrong.

          1. Thank you K. These articles are very helpful.
            Currently, I’m 9 days into the “final” discard (I caught him cheating) with no contact. I’m still learning about this horror.
            The silent treatment hurts the most. Not too long ago I went through weeks of silence. He had taken me out for a fancy dinner and wouldn’t stop ranting about his ex-wife while getting drunk. He also tried to get the attention from a woman at the table next to us. She was there with her husband. She didn’t react. For just a second I rolled my eyes, and that was it. 6 weeks of silence. It also happened to be his daughter’s birthday that day. I should’ve known…

          2. My pleasure Evon
            I am very sorry that you have caught him cheating and for all of the other abuse that you have been through, as well. It’s very heartbreaking and frustrating because we don’t understand what is actually going on.

            It looks like he was triangulating you with his ex-wife, the woman at the next table (embarrassing) and his daughter’s birthday. The eye roll may have been challenge fuel mixed with wounding, hence the 6 weeks of silence. I am happy that you have found narcsite; you will get your answers and support here. These articles may prove helpful, too.


          3. K, I truly appreciate your kind words, thank you very much. I’m so glad I found this site, I’m obsessively reading every article and comment here. I had a weak moment today and missed him so much. But then I went onto this site and read all those posts again. I feel sick to my stomach, but it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. I’m mad at myself that I let all this abuse and craziness happen for so many years.
            But – I’m proud of myself that I always rejected when he asked me to marry him. Or move in with him. Or take the money he offered so I could stop working. Or take his car so I wouldn’t have to buy a new one. Or have a child with him. I don’t even want to imagine what the situation would be now if I would have accepted all those “generous” gifts. It’s a relief to know that I can still trust myself

          4. My pleasure Evon,
            Narcsite is great and you are going to love it here. Keep reading and posting your way through the weak moments and, if you break No Contact, don’t beat yourself up over it; you just get back on the wagon and keep going forward. Eventually, the pain does go away.

            No Contact (NC) + accurate information + time = a recovered individual.

            I remember feeling angry at myself, too, for putting up with years of abuse and craziness but we didn’t understand what was really happening and the confusion keeps you stuck. You were smart not to have gotten married, moved in, had a child or took his money or car. That’s all binding and ever presence which makes it harder to escape. Focus on yourself and learning all about NPD so you can reduce your Emotional Thinking (ET). You should trust yourself, because you have found your way here and things will get better before you know it.

          5. Thank you, K. I still feel like a zombie in the fog. But I’m fighting the ET with as much distraction as possible. I do not want to think about him anymore. I’m forcing myself to go out and meet and reconnect with my friends whom I neglected for many years (due to isolation tactics). I’m realizing how much I missed them!

          6. My pleasure Evon,
            Good for you, go out with your friends and enjoy yourself. Go to the movies, out to eat or for a cup of tea/coffee. That should cheer you up and help with the ET. One step at a time.

  2. The birthday thing.


    Every year without fail, my dad would not so much as say happy birthday to me, he would either sulk, be depressed and give me
    the dreaded silent treatment. Or, he was yelling like a crazy person and screaming at me and my mum and some of my siblings. Normally me.

    So, fast forward to now and new narc asks when it is my birthday, I tell him I don’t like to celebrate birthdays very much and he presses me over time for my birth date. So I give it to him.

    Anyway…. 3 days after the first time we made love (love! Ha!!), It is my birthday.

    I waited all day for a happy birthday from him, because he was always so attentive with his correspondance. First time I’ve felt excited about my own birthday in a very long time.

    Nope. Nothing. Thanks narc!!

    I said nothing about it, of course!

    So, it is my birthday in a few days and I am not very excited about it.

    Birthdays! What is the point of them, I say! (But in my head, I still jump and and down in excitement, like a little kid!!!).

    Very, frustrating.

  3. Hi HG,

    What about when the narcissist sends you a text the day before your birthday and you are a shelf IPSS? He didn’t mention my birthday. Did he actually forget that my birthday is tomorrow and sent this text today, ignoring saying happy birthday to me at all and thinking that my birthday is today instead of tomorrow?

    1. I am not in a position to answer as I do not know what was in the text as you have omitted to include that detail.

      1. My apologies, HG. Here is the text sent on the day before my birthday. I think he actually did forget or thought it was that day but it was not. Or it was a regular text to keep my interest. He did tell me that he routinely forgets birthdays. Maybe he actually did this time. I’m not sure.

        Hey haven’t talked in a while

        Hope all is well

        Heading from one thing to the next

        Just saying hi quickly


        1. This is a hoover. His narcissism deemed this approach the most effective. He did not remember your birthday but decide not to mention it. He did not recall it because he has no sense of accountability to you for your life and its events. There was a Hoover Trigger, the HEC were met, you got this hoover. He did not need to mention your birthday to hoover you, of course his hoover may have met with more success if he had mentioned it.

          1. Hi HG,

            I’m not sure if there is a typo or I didn’t understand. You wrote:

            “He did not remember your birthday but decide not to mention it. He did not recall it because he has no sense of accountability to you for your life and its events.”

            Is it that “he did remember my birthday but decided not to mention it?” But then you wrote he did not recall it because….”

            How could he decide to not mention my birthday if he did not remember it?

  4. Most holidays are bad but Christmas is the worst. I’ve decided this year I’m taking the tree down a week early. Of course that might start a fight, lol.

      One of my children’s narc Father’s birthday is christmas day, my other child’s narc Father’s birthday is new years. The last few years have been disasters. My son even commented that his father throws the biggest fits on Christmas. My son and I are considering giving both the narcs and their families the formal holidays to fulfill their bs issues, and maybe just doing a christmas vacation during their school winter break. There has got to be a way to reestablish happiness for the season. And I am trying to figure it out as well.

  5. haha .. My ex loves being cruel on my bday. she broke off the engagement on thanksgiving and left (never saw it coming). Ran off and enjoyed her time with her new source and slandering me. She came back tried with me while doing this shit. I found out. She discarded me officially after I kicked her out bc of what she was doing… She posted a nice fb post on my bday a few days later with the new girl.

    The year prior she didn’t even get me a card.

    The year prior to that .. I was studying for finals and it was midnight so she said she’s going to bed. I heard her talking in the bedroom and I’m like wtf ?

    I walk in she’s on the phone. I stand there in disbelief and go “are you serious? it’s my birthday..?”
    It was like 12;07am by that point and her response was
    “It’s not your birthday anymore”.
    Yeah bich no kidding lol

  6. In the beginning the birthdays were horrid (his and mine). However over time I began to celebrate my day. I bake my self a cake and make myself a dinner and celebrate me despite his fits. This year he bought me a porch swing. I tried to not be overly joyous.

    His birthday, I stopped even trying to get him a gift after the response of “what the F*** is this ” became too common. I’ll send an e-card and give him an orange balloon. I’ve lost the ability to fuss over making life perfect for he who is never pleased. If he wants a gift he is free to buy himself one.

    I suppose after reading your blog for hours now, I’ve learned a lot. No wonder he’s feeling more depressed than ever, me not caring and growing very thick skinned has taken a lot of his fuel. So much to think about…

      1. Hi HG ….Yes, oops. New to the blog and after reading Bad Birthday I coincidentally stumbled upon the email you post here and my subconscious noticed the 1909 — so I came back to this article and posted happy birthday as a question lol (didn’t see all the other comments oops again) — but narcissists do like their names and / or birthdays embedded in everything don’t they? — emails, passwords — I bet all of us here could collectively deduce at least one of your secret passwords, haha, shall we try? Actually, no time!! I’m too absorbed reading EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE here because each one hits soooo hard to the heart …yet magically heals!!

        I’m early into my escape and until I figure out my next move, this is the perfect place to hide, merci beaucoup, Fuel for Love.

  7. He didn’t even buy a card, nor wish me happy birthday. I bought him a good pressie for his, although I never actually got to give it to him. I wish I had, I’d have replaced those batteries with a hook-up to a live power cable & sat back & enjoyed the fireworks ;)

  8. SO totally true: Special occasion, add narc, event ruined!

    Every. single. time. Wow.

    Both my matri-narc and the NTEAN (narc to end all narcs) have Sept. bdays, virgos, tho I don’t believe.

    *This* year my holiday season won’t be ruined by that loser. Never again! I’m delighted, sorry not sorry dearest perceptive author ;)

  9. I did a reading. It is still 1909 here. A card accidentally flipped out. It was the Devil…2nd time this has happened. First was in an email that I sent. Fn crazy. Unlike the first reading where the Emperor as a clarifying card happened, the Hanged Man reversed came up. The Devil is sometimes known as the card of addiction. The Hanged Man upright denotes becoming (hogtied) and being held accountable for one’s actions. Reversed, it means that one is being set free.

    Universe, help us all.

  10. On an added note now that I’ve read some posts
    1. Love…not all Septembers are full logic…full emotion here although I am starting to feel a little less emotional…not sure if this is good or not.

    2. Other than the 30th birthday I do recall several ruined b days especially in the past 5 years in which I felt that DN purposely waited until my birthday or right around to devalue me, discard me, hurt me in some way.

    3. I also recall DN acting like he should be treated like King the entire day and if anyone did anything to displease him, he would remind them of the day. He was even upset this past year that I didn’t text him on his birthday to tell him happy birthday even though he was on his honeymoon in Mexico at the time…really!?!?!? At the time he text me that I thought it was a joke, now I know it wasn’t.

    1. Hi AlexZ. My astrological observations are of a biased sample: only men I’ve encountered in my life. I’m sure there is a much broader color spectrum than my own experience.

  11. HG!!!! How did you know it was my birthday yesterday? I almost posted yesterday but decided to take off from the drama to celebrate me, myself, and I. I did give myself a present though. I sent my ex an ” I have you by the balls” text (LONG STORY). I know this probably gave him some fuel but I honestly think it gave me more fuel than anything. Still a little shaky about it bc he does still intimidate me but I can’t and wont let him know that any more.

    I will be completely honest, Dark Narc gave me an amazing 30 surprise birthday party at the wineries. It truly is a cherished memory. I do however recall that whenever I did bring it up he always patted himself on the back and said how amazing he was that he did that and pulled off such an amazing surprise (this was after I already gave him a surprise 21st and 30th prior to…but who is counting). Either way, whether it was true or just fuel…it was a grand birthday! Now I make sure I always travel on or around my birthday…pat myself on the back this time.

  12. I don’t care who is trying to ruin my birthday I still love it!!! No one can take that away from me. But it was another day that ended in tears. I always had hope for a day without drama but I never got one. She planned a weekend getaway and it started out great and then the games started. I got the silent treatment and the rolling over in bed and withdrawal methods. Happy birthday to me!
    Special Fuel Day made me laugh! 😂😂I can see you circling it in your calendar HG

  13. Asshole. I don’t have birthdays anymore. But Narc tried to mess mine up in the morning acting depressed about not being in his father’s will.

    I told him to go back to bed I was going to the gym. I am sure he went through my things in retrospect. He did take me to a 300$ dinner, and this is w/o alcohol and bought me a beautiful gold Unicorn brooch which I still have and will wear it well.

  14. Every holiday was ruined one way or another from one narc or another!! Never realized how many I have had around me my whole life until I started reading your blog and books HG! In fact I still get very anxious with the oncoming of any holiday or birthday celebration!!

  15. Happy Birthday HG, hope all you desire comes to be.
    Would have sent a gift yet lack of information will keep that from happening.

  16. She wanted me to handle a situation a ceŕtain way and lie I told her I wouldn’t lie if asked. I did find a way around the situation, yet it wasn’t approved by her, hence forth lost all rights to having a birthday recognized from that point on.

      1. Happy birthday hg 🍸🍰💐🍹☀️
        My 1st n – 15th sep
        2nd n – 2nd sep
        4th n – 1st sep
        Bithdates i mean
        Virgo not for me

      2. Personality disorders come in every astrological sign. I’ve collected all 12. Yet Virgos seem to excel at being the high functioning ones. Maybe because the sign operates completely on logic, 0 emotion.

  17. Happy belated birthday, HG, if it is in September. Made sure I found some little token for ya….oh, here you go, a BALL POINT pen…..and it’s indigo inked. ***yes, yes, I know you like black fountain. Yes, yes, I know, I hate ball points too. But you didn’t get me the snow globe I wanted.*** ;-)

    So true, HG, this is a pretty consistent sign. Saw this one in my ex. It needs to be put in the diagnostic manuals, sign #58, narcissists are “birthday bashers”.

    1. I have the snow globe but i wanted to hand it you in person so that gives you time to obtain the fountain pen.

      Yes the term birthday basher is a good one.

  18. Haven’t celebrated one sense I was 15, this one never worked with mine once he found out I didn’t celebrate, yet I still remember his comment on his present he received I just picked it up and tossed it in the fire and looked him dead in the eye, ya if looks could kill, never did try that one again with him, he made his point very clear.
    As always HG you are straight to the point, hell for a moment you even took me back to my 16th birthday, which never happened to my great disapointment.
    First lessen in Expentance is the first step to disappointment.

  19. I am truly sorry for ruining Your birthday :( please forgive me for how stupid I was :( Is there anything I can do to make it up to You? Do You fancy to treat me with silence treatment or perhaps You’d like to visit Your bolt hole or a drink with a new secretary? Anything at all?

      1. Thank You ;) tell me how would You like the next one? Fire in my eyes? Passion? Adoration? Goose bumps under Your touch? I bet You’ll paint a nice picture

  20. And as a young child I hated my birthday because my mother would complain that she had to take time out from her busy schedule to organize a party…the horror…she had to spend a Saturday afternoon having a bunch of children overrun her house, she had to feed us, she had to provide cake, she had to fake-smile while I opened the presents they gave. Of course she also had to do the same when it was my sisters’ birthdays, and she didn’t enjoy that either.

      1. Oh she made (and still makes) her wishes known in advance. One year she wanted a day at one of the wineries out on the east end of Long Island (I was still drinking then & got rip-roaring drunk the night before her birthday and she was mad as hell at me the whole day, then spent a month after saying her special day was ruined because I made her angry); another year she wanted tickets to a play, I spent good money to send her and my father (orchestra seats) to a Sunday matinee & dinner in Manhattan after and she bitched that it was raining & why did I make her go in the rain.

    1. Cara I have never thought of that before! Thank You so much for pointing it out my mum was exactly the same! Before dad left he tried his best though. I always hated and still hate my birthdays… so is for Valentines as for my narcissistic exes…

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