The other day, Bill shared on Facebook what is today’s featured photo. The past few weeks have been very weird. Bill and I have been spending a lot of time at home together, as he works from home, and we’re not really able to go out and do stuff like we would ordinarily. Fortunately, we really get along. It’s been a pleasure to hang out with Bill every day since mid March. Neither of us are narcissists. That’s why this situation works out so well for us. It would not be like that if Bill were still with his first wife.
This morning, I listened to Jess Stanley’s latest video, “What Are Narcissists Doing in Lockdown? What Should YOU Be Doing?” For many reasons, I’m pretty certain Bill’s ex wife is a narcissist. I could present a list of reasons why I think she is a narcissist. It starts with her insistence on treating human beings like coveted objects who can be weaponized and ends with her dogged determination to be “right” at all costs, even at the point of cutting off her nose to spite her own face. Ex is a tyrant, and she will go to incredible lengths to maintain control of anyone unlucky enough to be in her sphere. It makes me sad, because unfortunately, good people are attracted to her. And she has a knack for trapping them in misery until they finally have to be “mean” and break away from her. She punishes anyone who leaves her sphere by turning others against them, spreading lies, and even coming up with elaborate schemes that could get people hurt or even potentially killed.
Seriously… those who have read my earlier posts about Ex might recall some of the crazy stories. She even got her eldest son back in touch with his bio dad (her first ex husband) because I pointed out to her in an email that she cuts her children off from their fathers every time she divorces. She claimed her first ex was a dangerous psycho (he wasn’t and isn’t), but just because I pointed out the obvious to her, it was okay for her to get her son back in touch with his dad (he never should have been separated from his dad in the first place). I’m sure that if #3 ever does anything egregiously insulting to her ego, she’ll do similarly desperate things to show him the error of his ways, even if it’s ultimately damaging and stupid and causes irreparable harm to her or her “loved ones”. I put loved ones in quotes, because I don’t think she is capable of what we think of as love. To her, “loved ones” are possessions.
So… this morning over breakfast, I asked Bill what he thought it would be like to be locked down in quarantine with his ex wife. He shook his head and said, “Oh, she’d probably come up with some stupid idea or big plan that would cost money but never come to fruition.” Then, as he sat down with his bacon and eggs, he said, “Or she’d sit there and complain non-stop about not being able to go out, whining about how the government is oppressing her.”
Ex has a habit of getting big ideas and putting them into motion. But she isn’t very good at planning things, so her ideas would often fall apart or be overcome by events. She was big on multi-level marketing schemes. When she put her mind to making them work, she was sometimes successful. But then she’d get bored or attracted to something else, and the whole thing would fall by the wayside, even after they’d spent thousands of dollars. Bill said they lost a lot of money when Ex sold Mary Kay cosmetics and then decided she didn’t want to anymore because it was oppressive to women, convincing them that they needed makeup. Ditto when she decided to try Nutrisystem and then gave it up after she concluded that the weight loss plan was all about forcing women to look a certain way. My guess is that these things were just harder than she’d planned or she got bored.
When Bill and his ex wife were on the verge of splitting, Bill would occasionally go on TDY trips. TDY, for those who don’t know, means “temporary duty yonder”. It’s basically a business trip. It can last days, weeks, or even months. Bill does them now, even though he’s retired from the Army, and he doesn’t enjoy them much unless I go with him. It basically means he does his work, eats alone or with co-workers, and goes to bed. But, when he was married to his ex wife, he enjoyed TDYs because it meant he’d have peace and quiet. He’d have extra money that she couldn’t squander. He didn’t have to worry about who he might be coming home to in the evenings. He really never knew what her mood would be. She might be in an okay mood and things would be alright. Or she’d be enraged about something. Or she would become enraged over some perceived, mysterious slight after Bill got home, and then he’d have to deal with the fallout of that.
Conversely, Bill and I get along great and enjoy a lot of the same activities. We have similarly eclectic tastes in music. We like similar movies and TV shows… or, maybe he is just very willing to let me watch what I want. That’s probably closer to the truth. We both like drinking wine and beer and eating good food. Ex doesn’t drink alcohol and eats a lot of crap from boxes. She’s not interested in culture, history, literature, or fine arts. She likes country pop, Disney, and hoarding things.
I respect Bill’s work. He respects mine. I give him peace and quiet during his work time so he can get things done and attend virtual meetings. He lets me write in peace and gives me privacy when I record music, although I don’t do much recording when he’s home. I’m too self-conscious. We eat meals together, happily, and when he’s done working, we hang out and listen to music. That makes being “socially isolated” easier to bear.
But if Bill was still with Ex, I have a feeling she would go out of her way to screw with Bill’s livelihood. Why? Because that’s what she did when they were married. Ex was jealous that Bill had a college degree and made all the money. So she would try to sabotage his work by not coming home in time for him to go to work. He’d be there with the kids, waiting for her to get home from her job or hanging out with friends. She’d often show up late, making him late for work. She’d deliberately do things that would threaten his work, even though she depended on his ability to make money. Then, when something bad would happen at work because he was late, she’d berate him for that, too.
I imagine if he’d had to telework with Ex around, she’d be doing the same kinds of stuff. She’d do passive aggressive things to make it impossible for Bill to be productive. Or she would allow the kids to make a lot of noise or bother Bill while he was working, chatting with colleagues, or engaged in virtual meetings. If he protested, she’d accuse him of being selfish or tyrrannical.
When Bill saw his daughter in March, they compared their experiences living with Ex and commiserated. It turns out that for all of her worry about Bill “taking the kids” from her and/or winning them over to his side, they pretty much figured things out for themselves and went that way naturally. And when they were able to, they split. Well… except for Bill’s older daughter, who has apparently been convinced that she can’t be on her own. She’ll be 29 this year, and Ex has threatened to throw her out of the house on more than one occasion. But she stays there anyway and takes care of Ex’s youngest child, a boy with severe autism who will probably never be able to live on his own.
Once her children get older and more independent, Ex treats them as badly as she does her spouses. Bill’s daughter spoke of being browbeaten into doing what her mother wanted, even when she knew it was wrong. It was simply easier to do what Ex said than try to fight back. It was much less trouble to give in to cognitive dissonance than do the right thing. When younger daughter finally decided she wanted to leave home and go to college, Ex did all she could to get her to change her mind, including overdosing on pills. And when younger daughter fell in love with a guy from Utah, Ex was against it. Utah is not near New Hampshire, so a marriage would mean her daughter would leave her sphere of influence and, likely, much better self-esteem and mental health. Sure enough, that is what came to pass. Getting away from the toxic fumes of narcissism was a real mental enema for younger daughter, as it also was for Bill.
I think about Ex awarding herself sole custody of the children and all but $600 of Bill’s salary when they first split up. Today, he probably would not have let her do that. He would have insisted on shared custody, and he would not have given her money for her eldest child, who wasn’t his kid and should have had contact with his dad… who should have also been paying child support. He would not have given Ex $2550 a month for years. He had the power to say no, even then. But Ex had convinced him that her word was law and there would be hell to pay if he didn’t conform to her wishes.
We had started talking about being locked down with Ex… and I would imagine that the situation the world is in right now would have been unimaginably hellish for Bill when he was married to her. It was initially kind of a funny topic, but then it got pretty serious. Ex, and people like her, depend on people to do exactly what they want them to do. They get ugly in order to get their way. They rely on people who don’t want to make a scene and want to be seen as cooperative. Somehow, they convince people that they must do what they want. I’m sure when I said “no” to her demand that I spend Christmas with her in my in-laws’ house, it was a terrible shock. But she wisely realized that I wasn’t going to be her puppet. So then she started punishing the children for that, too. It would be easy for me to blame myself for what Ex chose to do. That’s what she relies on people to do. But this is all on Ex, who must be in control at all times.
You know who else I think would be hell to quarantine with? The Duggar parents. Yesterday, I read a story about how Ma and Pa Duggar monitor their children’s Internet usage, even the children who are legal adults. They put apps on the computers and phones that show every Web site the children access. And– they claim the adult children welcome this! She says they encourage the kids to come to them to talk whenever they have a “bad thought”. What’s a “bad thought”? Is that when teenaged Michelle mows the lawn in her bikini and the neighbor blows a huge load? As bad as Ex is, I think Jim Boob Duggar would be even worse. Imagine it… being trapped in a house listening to Michelle’s baby voice, not able to drink or watch porn. I think it would really suck.
Bottom line… it would not be fun to have to stay locked down with a narcissist. They are very controlling people and they manufacture drama under the best of conditions. I am grateful that Bill and I get along and that neither of us are narcissists. Otherwise, the COVID-19 crisis would be even worse that it is. I’m also grateful that unlike Ex, Bill doesn’t have any firearms in the house.
I don’t have any love for #3, but I don’t envy him right now. He’s already reportedly in poor health. I hope he can survive being locked down with Ex. She might just drive him out of the house with her batshit bullshit.