book reviews, mental health, narcissists, politicians, politics, Trump

A review of Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, by Justin A. Frank, MD…

When Donald Trump was still POTUS, I bought a bunch of books about him. I haven’t managed to finish them all, even though he was voted out of office in 2020. I’m an avid reader, but I can’t read books as fast as I once did, when my eyes weren’t so old and I didn’t need to nap so much. Besides that, I find reading about Trump alternately infuriating and terrifying, even though he’s also a fascinating character. It shocks me that he’s able to get away with what he does, although it now appears that special super power could soon be about to end.

From the beginning of Trump’s “reign”, I have believed very strongly that he is a narcissistic sociopath or a malignant narcissist, or something of that order… I remember hearing back in the 80s what a scumbag he was, but at that time, I didn’t really care too much. I was a kid. Now that I’m middle aged, and see the damage that can be wrought by corrupt leaders who are so power hungry that they completely lose sight of responsibility and decency, I care a lot more about Trump and the many people who emulate and admire him.

In late March 2020, I downloaded Justin A. Frank’s book, Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Frank is a psychiatrist with several decades of experience in practicing and teaching psychiatry. According to his page on Amazon.com:

Justin Frank M.D. is a highly regarded psychoanalyst and teacher. A clinician with more than thirty year’s experience, Dr. Frank used the principles of applied psychoanalysis to assemble a comprehensive psychological profile of President George W. Bush in his 2004 New York Times bestselling book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President (HarperCollins). His newest book, Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President is being published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster on October 18, 2011. 

Dr. Frank currently writes a biweekly column for Time.com. He also contributes to HuffingtonPost.com, DailyBeast.com and Salon.com, and is a frequent writer and speaker on topics as diverse as politics, film, and theater. He is Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, and the co-director of the Metropolitan Center for Object Relations in New York.

Dr. Frank did his psychiatric residency at Harvard Medical School and was chief resident at the Cambridge Hospital. He was also awarded the DuPont-Warren Fellowship by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Frank lives in Washington DC.

As you can see, Dr. Frank has written several “on the couch” books about presidents. I haven’t read the other books, as before Trump came along, I didn’t care very much about politics. It’s been said that no person is 100 percent “bad”. I suppose that if I could say one thing good about Donald Trump, it’s that he has motivated people like me to care about who is leading the country, and whether or not they are fit to be in such a position. I have never thought Trump was “fit” to be president, although I do remember thinking he’d do better than Ted Cruz. At this point, though, I think I was mistaken about that.

After I finished Mary Trump’s book about what led the people of the United States to elect her corrupt uncle, I decided to read Dr. Frank’s book. I thought it would be a good follow up. I was right, even though Trump on the Couch was published in 2018, when Trump was still parking his fat ass in the White House. Even though Trump lost the election in 2020, he’s still very much in the news, still affecting our lives with his blustery rhetoric and uncanny ability to stimulate people with the worst of values to act in destroying our democracy. Trump will never change and, in fact, I think he’s gotten even worse. Dr. Frank explains why that is, as he introduces readers to Trump’s psyche, and what caused him to turn into the unhinged orange nightmare that he is today.

Trump on the Couch starts with Trump’s story, from the very beginning. Frank writes about Trump’s family history and the dynamics that shaped Donald Trump. I noticed that Frank seems to place a lot of emphasis on Trump’s Scottish mother, Mary, who left her homeland at age 18, fleeing the poverty she was raised in during the early 20th century. Mary Trump (Trump’s mom, not his niece) came to New York and found work as a housekeeper and nanny, until she met up and coming real estate magnate Fred Trump, Sr. They married, and had five children: Maryanne, Fred Jr., Elizabeth, Donald, and Robert.

Frank explains that Mary Trump was quite reserved under normal circumstances, and she had servants to do most of the housework. Consequently, she wasn’t a very “hands on mother”, even when she was healthy. But, when Mary gave birth to Donald’s younger brother, Robert, she almost died due to severe hemorrhaging. She had to spend many months resting, and afterwards, was left in fragile health. According to Dr. Frank, this less than devoted mothering had a profound effect on Donald, who was a child who needed a lot of attention. I found myself copying and sharing some of the passages from Frank’s book explaining this:

He was also kind of mean to his little brother, as Frank notes:

He was a creep, even when he was a child.

Because Trump was such a bratty little bastard, his father, who was quite strict, but mostly absent, decided to send Trump to a military boarding school. Trump went to New York Military Academy, where he ended up doing somewhat well, because it was a place where being ruthless and competitive was celebrated. But being at boarding school further separated Trump from his mother, and exacerbated his anxiety about maintaining control in every situation. Frank also writes that he thinks Trump may have a form of dyslexia, which makes it hard for him to comprehend language the way that most people do and causes more anxiety, which makes him less empathic to other people.

I noticed that Frank focused a lot on the psychodynamic aspects of mental health evaluation. His theories came across as very Freudian to me, with a lot of emphasis on Trump’s childhood and parents– particularly his mother. I found his observations to be interesting and mostly accurate, although I’m not sure the Freudian approach is always the best one when analyzing people today. But then, I know I don’t have Frank’s expertise or experience. Frank also frequently mentions the Austrian-British psychoanalyst and author, Melanie Klein, who was also very much influenced by Sigmund Freud. I wondered what approach Carl Jung would have taken toward Trump.

Frank follows Trump’s life to his time as POTUS, where he notes a lot of the antisocial and, frankly, unacceptable attitudes Trump brazenly displays toward women, people of color, or anyone else whom he doesn’t consider a “winner” of some sort. I enjoyed the analysis of Trump’s childhood the most interesting part of the book, as Frank explains how Trump’s upbringing helped make him in to who he is today. Once again, I found myself sharing astute quotes from the book:

There were a few times when I found Frank’s observations rather alarming, even though Trump left office. A lot of people would like to see Trump re-elected in 2024. I fear that outcome, because Trump can’t be controlled, and if he has nothing to lose, he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He can’t legally run for a third time as president, but he made it very plain during his first term, that he’d like to change the laws so that he can stay in power for the rest of his life. And Frank makes it plain that Trump is the type of person who absolutely hates to lose, and can’t tolerate playing fairly. He has no sense of honor or decorum.

Dr. Frank’s book, Trump on the Couch, is very comprehensive, with detailed chapters on what he thinks makes Trump tick. He includes an extensive bibliography, as well as a glossary, that includes some Trump specific terms that explain certain traits and behaviors specific to Trump. One reviewer on Amazon.com recommended reading the glossary before reading the book. I don’t think that’s a bad idea. The reviewer also included this comment from Frank about Trump’s behavior and other people’s reactions to it:

“Idealization is the product of extreme splitting, beyond the simple internal world of good and bad, and into one that is ideal and awful. It transforms the perception of reality into something better; it may lay dormant in the unconscious and emerge when one falls in love or has a baby. Just as lovers see themselves – their best selves – in another, the electorate usually idealizes their candidate for higher office. Thus, Ann Coulter sounded like a betrayed lover when Trump signed a budget that didn’t include funding for the wall he promised her. When people feel understood by a leader – or by a therapist – they idealize that person. Trump’s base felt that he understood their frustration and pent-up rage, so they idealized him more than any American president in decades. He promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and destroy the self-centered elites. They [Trump’s supporters, not the self-centered elites] idealized him so much that he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote, and no one corrected or contradicted him. They loved him: never have there been such long lines at campaign rallies as there were at Trump’s. He tapped into unconscious recall of the infant’s love for the parent, who can magically understand the child even before he has words” (pages 245-246).

However, because this book is hostile toward Trump’s image, I feel quite certain that Dr. Frank’s analysis comes only from books, interviews with people who know or have been exposed to Trump, and watching the way Trump behaves in public. He clearly didn’t interview Trump himself, which I think would make it difficult for his “diagnosis” to be taken as seriously as it might. And some people will read this book and think it’s “unfair”, because it’s biased against Trump. It’s quite obvious that Justin A. Frank is not a Trump admirer. But he does have to sell books to make the endeavor worthwhile, so my guess is that he sort of pandered to the “base” who would be interested in reading this book.

Overall, I found Dr. Frank’s analysis of Donald Trump to be accurate and interesting. Trump on the Couch is a quick and easy read, and will probably offer “confirmation bias” to those who are concerned about Trump’s influence on people. I do think it’s worth reading in 2022, even though it was written when Trump was still in office. Trump has made it clear that he’s not giving up on another run at the White House, even though he’s currently plagued with serious legal and financial issues. Dr. Frank makes it plain that people like Trump don’t change, and tend to get worse instead of better. Trump himself has said that he’s basically the same person he was when he was about eight years old. Let that sink in… and vote accordingly.

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complaints, controversies, LDS, mental health, narcissists, social media, YouTube

Self-preservation and the “gift of fear”, rather than bigotry…

I kind of don’t really want to write this post, because I have a bad feeling that it might be controversial… But I saw something yesterday that annoyed me a bit, and since it’s been kind of a difficult week anyway, I figure I might as well post about it.

Some time ago, someone out there in Facebook Land encouraged me to follow Father Nathan Monk. I think it might have been someone in the Duggar Family News group. According to his “about section”, Father Nathan Monk is a best selling author, “depressive humorist”, and former priest. He often posts things that are wise, funny, and insightful. However, there are times when he’s a little too “woke” for me, and I get annoyed. I know at least one time, I unfollowed for awhile. I think last month it happened, and I took a break for a month. Recently, his posts started popping up on my feed again. I mostly enjoyed them, until I saw the one below…

Naturally, he got many comments from people who completely agreed with his take on why so many people don’t like Meghan Markle. Lots of people were jumping on the bandwagon that people “hate” Meghan just because she’s “black”. I noticed that anyone who disagreed with any part of Father Nathan Monk’s post was immediately piled upon by other posters, seemingly eager to shut up the lone dissenter. People were calling the guy a bigot and a misogynist. Granted, he did turn out to be a Trump supporter from Britain, but even that doesn’t necessarily make him a bigot. I thought his comments regarding Meghan made a lot of sense, his political preferences notwithstanding. To me, it just proves that not all Trump supporters are necessarily crazy or stupid. They just haven’t reached the conclusions that I have, for whatever reason. Like the guy posted, “it’s okay to disagree.” I don’t know why he can easily see Meghan Markle’s issues and not see Trump’s, but then, I don’t know anything about him. Maybe he’s right about Trump and I’m wrong, although I doubt it. I suspect he just cares more about money than I do.

Now, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might know that I’m not one of Meghan Markle’s fans. My dislike of Meghan Markle has absolutely NOTHING at all to do with her racial makeup. I couldn’t care less about that. I don’t care that she’s an American who had the audacity to marry a British prince, either. I think people should be allowed to love and marry whomever they choose. And I also think that Harry should have been allowed to chart his own course in life, as we all should. I watched the interview Meghan and Harry had with Oprah Winfrey, and a lot of what Harry said made sense to me. I’ve always liked him, and when he and Meghan first got together, I was genuinely happy for both of them. I cried when I watched their wedding, especially at this part…

The man who sings the solo never fails to bring me to tears. This is just beautiful. I was even inspired to make my own version of this song based on this interpretation, which is one of so many over the years.

Here’s proof that I watched and loved their wedding, and this song…

When I heard this and watched the wedding, I had high hopes for this union.

What surprises me is looking at the congregation and not seeing that much emotion… but it is Britain. If I had been there in person, I would have been sobbing. That rendition is– indeed– glorious!

Below is what I had to say in late November 2017, when Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced…

A screenshot from my original blog in an entry posted on November 29, 2017, so you can see that I’m not making this up… On another, unrelated point, I see that the post in question was about 85% about a certain lurker from Colorado. And given that it was late 2017, when we were having serious issues with our ex landlady, I now know it was the former tenant, spying on me and reporting her findings. I had titled the post “Snoopin’ and poopin’,” and that was definitely what she was doing. Sorry… I know I should forget about this, given what happened to former tenant, but it still really pisses me off.

As you can see, I had nothing bad to say about Meghan in 2017. I thought she was pretty, and Harry seemed happy. I did not give a shit about her race, and in fact, the two people I posted about her resembling are famous and beautiful WHITE people. But even if they were Black, it wouldn’t matter to me.

In May 2018, a few days after Harry’s and Meghan’s nuptials, I posted this :

See? Nothing derisive here about Meghan’s skin color.

Also from May 2018, I had written a post about gun violence in the USA, and added some comments about the royal wedding between Harry and Meghan. Again, totally positive and hopeful comments from yours truly.

Are these comments racist?

And finally, two more comments from October 2018, when Meghan announced her pregnancy… Nothing negative or racist here, either. And here’s a link to my post about Harry’s interview with Oprah last year. I had sympathy then, too, even if, by that point, I was liking Meghan less.

I’m not going to claim that there aren’t a lot of racists out there who don’t like Meghan Markle only because of her skin tone. I’m sure there are plenty of small-minded people who think she had no business marrying a British prince simply due to her being a biracial American woman with middle class roots. My point is that not all of us dislike her for those reasons. And just as it’s not right for people to make assumptions about others due to things they can’t help, like their skin color, it’s also wrong to assume that people are racist just because they’ve come to conclusions that you haven’t. I would gather that coming to that conclusion, even if it’s just for well-intentioned “woke” purposes, is just as wrong as stereotyping people due to their skin color is. In other words, people who instantly cry “RACISM” when someone says something disapproving of Meghan Markle are really not much better than the gossip mongers.

H.G. Tudor, who has been notably relentless and snarky in his observations of Meghan Markle’s behavior, put out what I think is a pretty good video. The main idea is that no, we don’t know her… but people who DO know her have spoken about her behavior. How many more people need to speak up before people realize that not everyone dislikes her due to her skin color?

I don’t like Meghan Markle because I don’t like her behavior. She makes my “cluster B” chimes go off. I’m not the only one who feels this way. And we’re not wrong to have these feelings, because we have had exposure to narcissists, and experience has taught us that these types give off signals that are triggering. Once you’ve been around that type of person, you can pick up on the vibes. Even though I get those vibes– mainly those of hypocrisy, fakeness, and self-centeredness– I totally get that I could be misinterpreting. Experience has told me that I’m pretty perceptive, and my perceptions are often right on target.

There’s a reason that people have this “sixth sense”, by the way. It’s part of self-preservation. Back in 2010, in my old blog, I posted about a book I read called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It was recommended by a YouTuber who called himself Lithodid Man. I blogged about the video by Lithodid Man, and he eventually found the post and left me a comment. Below is his video, which is now twelve years old…

Lithodid Man, who is an atheist, talks about being approached by a very insistent evangelical proselytizer who was trying to wear him down and get access to his minor son. He explains that he had read de Becker’s book, and it opened his eyes to the manipulative techniques the guy was using to get Lithodid Man to agree to let his son go to a church group.
An excerpt of my 2010 post about The Gift of Fear.

Gavin de Becker’s book is about recognizing when your senses are telling you of a threat, and acting accordingly, and in your own best interests, to protect yourself from harm. Our culture often pushes us, through peer pressure, to think one way or the other, to be agreeable and not make a fuss, to not be a “Karen”, to always cooperate and not make any waves… And people who are manipulative, narcissistic, or otherwise up to no good, are only too happy to exploit those pressures we live under to be nice at all costs.

Being nice is not a bad thing, but one shouldn’t be nice simply because it’s the path of least resistance. Sometimes, those instincts are DEAD ON… and tragically, we don’t realize until something heartbreaking has happened. For more on this, read any of my posts about Bill’s ex wife, and what has happened because he was “too nice” and too afraid to upset other people. Granted, it hasn’t been all bad. If he hadn’t married Ex, we might not have gotten married. Some other woman would have almost certainly treated him a lot better and he probably would have stayed married to her, even if the match wasn’t as compatible as ours is. But a lot of people were hurt because Bill ignored “the gift of fear” and didn’t listen to his instincts. He has told me on many occasions that on his wedding day to Ex, he had a voice telling him not to do it. He ignored that voice and suffered the consequences– kind of like Diana, former Princess of Wales, did. He learned a lot of tough lessons. Some of them have rubbed off on me.

Here’s another example. For years, I was quite vocal about how much I dislike Mormonism. I still dislike it, but feel less compelled to speak out about it these days, mainly because Bill’s younger daughter, who is LDS, now talks to him. I know that there are really good people in Mormonism. I knew that, even when I was more outspoken about Mormonism. My disdain for the church had NOTHING to do with the people within it. I don’t dislike people simply due to their religious beliefs. If that were the case, I never would have married Bill, who was still LDS on our wedding day. It was the institution and doctrine itself that I saw as damaging, because it was used as a tool to separate my husband from his daughters. He wasn’t “worthy” to be their father or baptise them, according to Ex and the church itself. He didn’t believe in the church’s teachings, so he was less fit. This, even though Ex was the one who was abusing and neglecting their children, and Bill himself.

So I determined that I don’t like Mormonism for that reason, not because I’m overall a religious bigot. And I also know that the Mormons aren’t the only ones who pull that shit… they just happen to be the ones who have affected us directly. I don’t like the other religions where those kinds of divisive practices prevail, either. In fact, I’m not that big on religion as a whole, but I especially dislike really restrictive, controlling ones where everyone has to believe and think the same way, and criticism isn’t allowed. Does that automatically make me a bigot? I don’t think so. But some people insisted that I am one, no matter how much I tried to explain my reasoning to them. Thankfully, most of them are now out of my life. Likewise, my disdain for Meghan Markle has nothing to do with her skin color or race. It’s because I recognize problematic behaviors that I think are toxic.

It annoys me to read posts like Father Nathan Monk’s, that presume to lecture everyone about being “racist” against Meghan Markle and discounting why people might not like her. First of all, she is a very public figure. She chose to be a public figure. One could argue that making that choice, in and of itself, is kind of a narcissistic thing to do. Yes, there are famous people out there who aren’t really all that “public”. I’ve read and heard about Meghan Markle’s desire for “privacy”, and yet she’s still everywhere.

Sure, I could give Meghan a pass for attending the Queen’s funeral, and even the Platinum Jubilee, but she’s clearly been trying to monetize her association with the British Royal Family. She still uses that title– the Duchess of Sussex– even as she publicly disdains Harry’s family and disowns her own family. This might be easy to ignore if these folks were regular citizens, but they aren’t. The British Royal Family is extremely public.

While I’m not generally a fan of saying, “you knew what you were getting into”, I do think that Meghan had to know that she wouldn’t be living a private life if she married Harry. It’s not even like she was like Diana. Diana was 19 years old when she got married, and didn’t even have a college degree. Meghan was a divorcee in her late 30s when she and Harry got married. And Meghan is certainly old enough to remember Diana, and what happened to her. Moreover, other people who married into royalty have been harassed– Sarah Ferguson definitely was. Camilla Parker Bowles was. Even Kate Middleton was. So, in that sense, she wasn’t alone… and wasn’t really treated that differently, other than the fact that Meghan is biracial and American. I’m not saying it’s right that the press harassed these ladies. What I am saying is that they were all being pursued and treated similarly poorly by the press. Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, is the only one I don’t remember being messed with as much by the press. Maybe it’s because she was involved in public relations herself, if memory serves.

I don’t know Meghan Markle personally, and almost surely never will. So, the fact that I see her behavior as obnoxious and don’t like it is irrelevant, anyway. It’s not like I’m sending her hate mail, or even posting a lot of toxic stuff about her. I don’t even hang around with a bunch of girlfriends and giggle as we drink wine and trade catty gossip about her. I just pick up on these toxic vibes that I can’t ignore. I still wish Meghan and Harry luck with their marriage, particularly since there are now children involved. And I even hope that the two of them prove me wrong and have a long, successful, and happy marriage. I would be even happier if Meghan stopped seeming so artificial and tone deaf to me. And yes, I will continue to write about my observations of her behavior as I see fit. But, whether or not people believe me, my feelings have nothing to do with Meghan’s race. And to make that sweeping and insulting judgment about anyone who has criticisms of Meghan Markle is pretty lazy, limited, and disrespectful, in my view. People are going to “do themselves”, though… so for the sake of my sanity, I’ll try to ignore the bullshit and drive on.

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book reviews, mental health, narcissists, psychology

A review of Fullness: A Memoir, by Azure Moyna…

This morning, I did something I haven’t been able to do in a long time. I read an entire book in one sitting. Amazon.com tells me I downloaded Azure Moyna’s 2020 book, Fullness: A Memoir, in April of this year. But I only just got around to reading it. I started reading it a few days ago, but fell asleep before I got through the first chapter. That’s not because of the writing, but more because, lately, I tend to fall asleep when I try to read.

I woke up at about 3:30am this morning, partly because I needed to use the bathroom, and partly because I’ve been upset about a few things. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. So I started reading Moyna’s story about her issues with compulsive overeating disorder. I soon realized it was one I could relate to on many levels. I kept reading and, six and a half hours later, I was finished with the book. I found it very compelling and well-written.

Who is Azure Moyna?

Azure Moyna grew up in the 1990s in the Bay Area of California. She has a younger brother named Jake, and until she was twelve years old, Azure’s parents were unhappily married. In descriptive, engaging prose, Azure describes the hell of being raised by her parents. Azure’s mother is described as manipulative and neglectful, the victim of domestic violence perpetrated by Azure’s father. Azure’s father is described as super intelligent, the recipient of dual doctorates in engineering. He was also the worst kind of bastard– an alcoholic, malignant narcissist who treated his ex wife and children with utter contempt. As a child, Azure and Jake were sent to “watch TV” while Azure’s father beat the shit out of her mother. Meanwhile, Azure’s father would say the most vulgar, demeaning, insulting things to his family members, especially Azure, who struggled with her weight from an early age.

Making matters worse was the fact that Azure’s mom and brother were able to eat whatever they wanted and stay thin naturally. But Azure took after her father, a man who had once been fat, but somehow lost the extra weight. Azure was never able to get thin enough, in spite of dieting and exercising. She had an addiction to food, and would eat to soothe herself after witnessing the horrific abuse her father perpetrated toward her brother and mother, or experiencing it herself. She was constantly shamed, belittled, and humiliated by her father, who would buttress his abuse with threats against her life. Once, when she was a child, police officers came to Azure’s school to ask her about her homelife, as Jake had told a mandated reporter that he was being abused. When the cops asked Azure about her experiences at home, she lied to them. They knew she was lying, but she wouldn’t crack and tell on her father. The risks were too great.

Because of her weight– and probably because she lived in California– Azure experienced a number of truly mortifying incidents due to being “fat”. As someone who has also struggled with my weight, I could relate to her pain, although mercifully, I was never treated nearly as badly as she was. What made things especially bad was that she would get horrifying comments from total strangers or people she was paying for services. She never mentions what her highest weight was, although she does mention a few sizes. Again, I’m sure that because she was living in California, where people seem to be especially concerned about their body images, it was probably much worse than it might have been somewhere else.

In spite of being fat, Azure managed to marry a nice man named Sean. Sean is cute, of Filipino heritage, and Azure says people couldn’t believe she was married to him, because he was good looking. I relate to that commentary, as a couple of my relatives told me that they were surprised by how cute Bill is. Pro tip– that is a really shitty thing to say to someone. Although he’s straightened out by the time Azure connects with him, Sean has a history of abusing drugs and was once in a car accident that almost took his life. He had been driving under the influence. Apparently, that brush with death prompted Sean to ditch drugs, although he does continue to drink alcohol.

The book’s format

Azure Moyna titles each chapter of Fullness with a food that has caused her significant angst in one way or another. The chapters are short and engaging, with a story involving the chapters food title. The stories are set at different times in Azure’s life, childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, with some vignettes flashing back to earlier times. For example, in a chapter titled “Mr. Goodbar”, Azure relates the heartbreaking story of visiting her grandmother’s house and not being allowed to enjoy the treats freely offered to her brother. Grandma, who is petite, tells Azure that she doesn’t take after her side of the family, and she should stop complaining and enjoy a piece of grapefruit while Jake eats donuts.

The family then goes to Sizzler, where Azure’s cousins and uncle make fun of a morbidly obese woman they see carrying a full plate of food. They warn Azure that she will suffer the same fate if she doesn’t lose weight. After the humiliating dinner, which Azure wasn’t able to eat, they visit a dollar store. Azure impulsively steals a Mr. Goodbar, stuffing it into her pants and sneaking it out of the store. She eats the candy in the bathroom, hiding the wrapper in the trash. She thought she’d gotten away with it, but then her mother demands to see her clothes, where she discovers the telltale melted chocolate stains. Soon, Azure is marched back to the store to confess her crime and pay the cashier, who then lectures her about stealing in front of other customers.

Other chapters are similar, with stories that left me furious for Azure, and the many adults in her life who failed her when she was a child. She doesn’t shy away from using the language she probably heard, especially from her father, who was truly a vicious, vile, contemptible man who was good at charming people. Behind closed doors, he terrorized his daughter and abused her in so many ways. Food was the one substance that comforted her, as everyone around her treated her like she was defective and totally undesirable.

Recovery

One day, Azure learns about compulsive overeating disorder and sees herself in the symptoms. She seeks out a therapist and finds one online, a licensed counselor named Sylvie who specializes in eating disorders. Sylvie actually seems pretty competent to me, and I was surprised to read about how successful their work was, at least at first. Sylvie pushes Azure to stand up for herself and recommends antidepressants and Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings. Azure doesn’t agree with either of those treatment modalities.

I was a little surprised by Azure’s attitude regarding antidepressants. When I was in my 20s, I took antidepressants for several years, and once I found the right one, it was life changing for me. But according to Fullness, Azure tried one dose of Prozac and quit. I can speak from personal experience that Prozac isn’t a wonder drug for everyone. In my case, Wellbutrin was the right medicine. I’m surprised she wasn’t encouraged to try other antidepressants. I was also a little dismayed to read that she got a prescription from a family doctor instead of a psychiatrist. I think a psychiatrist would have been a lot more helpful in this instance.

As for OA, I can understand why the 12 step modality wasn’t necessarily helpful for Azure. I used to attend ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings, and they were only a little bit helpful for me. I also had the unfortunate experience of meeting an abusive creep in those meetings. I’ve written about that situation in this blog, so I won’t describe it again here. Suffice to say, that situation kind of turned me off of 12 step meetings.

The therapist also recommended an inpatient program, which Azure didn’t think she could do because of her job. I can understand that, as well, as the program that therapist suggested was three months in duration. However, because Azure wasn’t willing to take any of Sylvie’s recommendations, she basically got “fired” as a client. I’m sure that was very disappointing for Azure.

Overall

I found Fullness very compelling reading. Azure Moyna writes well, and her story is very relatable to a lot of Americans– especially the parts about what it’s like to be overweight in a culture that reveres thinness and encourages people to see being thin as the only measure of a person’s worth or beauty. Azure is clearly younger than I am, so she hasn’t reached that stage of life at which people stop judging her “hotness”. What seemed to really help Azure was becoming a mother and losing her father. She had spent her whole life trying to satisfy a man who would never be satisfied. It’s a shame that apparently no one told her to simply go no contact with him, because he had absolutely nothing positive to offer her. Like all narcissists, he used her and targeted her for abuse, gaining fuel by targeting his ugliness at her.

I think this book would have been stronger if Azure had written more about how she managed to overcome her problems. Most of the book is about the horrific abuse and humiliating situations she found herself in due to her dysfunctional family and her problems with food. I think a couple, or even a few, more chapters would have been useful in explaining how she got better. She is now working as a “coach” herself, but she doesn’t really offer any insight as to how she got to that place.

I just checked Amazon’s reviews. At this writing, there is a single one star review, supposedly written by her brother, who claims his real name is Ryan. He says she has maliciously maligned their family, and unfairly painted their father in a bad light. His writing is pretty poor, but if there’s any truth to what he wrote, there is obviously more to the story. I also raised my eyebrows when Azure describes herself as “HUGE” because she needs a size 16. That is not a small size, but it’s certainly not huge. But again, she lives in California, where maybe a lot of people do see size 16 as huge. I would invite Azure to go spend some time in Missouri or Mississippi, though… because the cultures there are very different.

I do think this is a very interesting book. It’s basically well-written, and some of the stories are jaw dropping. Quite a few of them pissed me off and reminded me of similar experiences I’ve had. I think a lot of readers will like this book. However, as I’m sitting here thinking about it, I think she should have written a few more chapters and included more about how she got better… and how that serves her today. It seems like a lopsided, incomplete book, even though I found it hard to put down.

On the positive side, I think it’s great that Azure Moyna has written about compulsive overeating disorder. It IS a real eating disorder that affects many people. It doesn’t get enough press. And I do think there will be a lot of people who will feel recognized by reading this book. But I also think this book could be better. On a scale of one to five stars, I think I would award four– because it was so hard to put down, and because it’s a memoir on an eating disorder that needs more coverage. I will warn that this book could be pretty triggering for some readers, especially those who can’t handle vile language and descriptions of abuse.

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Bill, Ex, marriage, mental health, relationships

“Quick! Eat this before I give it to an animal!”

Here’s another life lesson, courtesy of the late, great George Carlin… Please keep in mind, this is just one way of looking at things, and it comes from my perspective. Your mileage may vary.

Years ago, when I was still in high school, I bought a bunch of cassette tapes by the late George Carlin. They were mostly his concerts from the 1970s and early 80s. I was a new fan, having been introduced to Carlin by HBO (Home Box Office), which I watched incessantly as a child. That probably explains a lot of the stuff I write about as an adult.

George had a funny routine he did back in 1981 called “Ice Box Man.” It was included on his album, A Place for My Stuff, which I listened to repeatedly on cassette as I drove from Gloucester, Virginia to Williamsburg, on one of my many work assignments there. In that routine, he talked about how it was his job to monitor the refrigerator and freezer. Naturally, that led to him making many nutty observations about humans and their relationship with the food they store in the fridge.

“Close that Goddamn door!”

I was reminded of Mr. Carlin this morning, as Bill and I were discussing a blog post I recently wrote titled “The latest big dream job“. It was yet another post about Ex, and her many elusive dreams. You know the old 80s song, “Don’t Fall in Love With A Dreamer?” Well, it’s sage advice, especially if you want to keep your sanity. Dreams can be a lot of fun, or they can be a distraction. Or, if someone is hellbent on following an unrealistic dream, they can quickly turn into a disastrous nightmare.

As we were talking about the prospect of Ex jetting off to an exotic place with the son she says has severe autism and runs away from home, Bill said he could only imagine what living with her is like these days. She has so many big ideas. Sometimes she tries to implement them, but they are almost always overcome by events, or somehow, her enthusiasm wanes and she loses interest. Often, when he was still married to her, that eventually meant being poorer, but not always wiser. If you’re the type of person who is responsible and likes a little stability in your life, that kind of shit gets old pretty quickly. It would be easy to be caught up in the dream at first… but then, hundreds or thousands of dollars and wasted hours later, when the dream falls apart, it’s not so much fun anymore.

So what has this story got to do with George Carlin and his “Ice Box Man” routine? I’m getting there.

Back in the late 80s, Bill was a young man who wasn’t very sure of himself. He doubted his appeal to women, and had this really low sense of self-worth. We have a few theories as to where this low self-esteem came from, but to make a long story short, it kind of made him a sitting duck for an abuser to exploit. Enter Ex. She spotted him, alone, in his mid 20s, reasonably handsome, and an Army officer. Her first husband was an enlisted guy, and for whatever reason, he wasn’t ringing her chimes anymore. I suspect she saw Bill as someone she could mold and manipulate, someone who would help her follow and achieve her dreams… someone with more earning power.

Well, I’ve written plenty about what happened after that. What I want to focus on today is the moment Bill decided to “eat food that someone was only going to throw away…” That’s where Carlin’s “Ice Box Man” comes into the story.

Carlin says:

...’Cause there’s a bigger responsibility. And that is getting into that refrigerator and deciding which things need to be thrown away. Most people will not take that responsibility. Most people will just go and get what they want, leave everything else alone and say, “Well, someone else wants that. Someone else will eat that” Meanwhile, the thing is getting smaller and smaller and smaller and is, in fact stuck to the rack. Well, I’ve got to go in there and decide when to throw things away.

“Chocolate pudding? Does anyone want this last chocolate pudding? I have just one chocolate pudding left. It’s only pulled away from the side of the dish about three inches all the way around. And there’s a huge fault running through the center of the pudding. Actually, it’s nothing but a ball of skin at this point. Does anyone want a ball of fault ridden chocolate pudding skin? I’m only going to throw it away.

A lot of us have experienced this, haven’t we? Especially those of us who hail from the United States, where we have big refrigerators, and parents or grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. People who have been deprived tend to be very averse to “wasting” things. It doesn’t just apply to food, either. It can apply to inanimate objects or even relationships. As Jim Bob Duggar liked to say, before his family fell from grace, “Buy used and save the difference!” If you have a shitload of kids and not that much money, it makes sense to buy things used, especially if there’s a lot of good use left in the item. It makes sense to eat what you have before buying more food. Or, even better, learning how to garden so you can grow your own food. Waste is not good, is it? Of course, you have to use up the item before it goes bad or falls into disrepair.

But a lot of us aren’t like this, and we pass up things when they are more appealing. As Carlin observes, “Well, someone else wants that. Someone else will eat that.” And no one ever eats it, but they don’t throw out the item that is wasting away in the fridge, shrinking from neglect, turning different colors, growing fur, or whatever. They don’t toss it, because they can’t bear losing the chance to “waste not, want not.” Even if passing on using the item would ultimately be better for them in the long run than trying to use it would be.

At one time, I’m sure that chocolate pudding Carlin speaks of was appetizing and delicious, smooth and creamy and sweet. But after weeks of neglect, it shriveled up into something ugly, unrecognizable, and in fact, potentially dangerous to one’s health. Ahh… but still, even when it’s clear that something is beyond its freshness or not particularly appealing or appetizing, a lot of us still won’t throw it away. Bill recently cleaned out one of our fridges, and he tossed an unopened jar of pickles that we bought when we still lived in Jettingen, four plus years ago! I have lots of over the counter drugs in the house that are two or more years beyond their expiration dates. Last night, I was looking at flea and tick meds for Arran that expired in January 2020. I didn’t use the meds, but I also didn’t throw them away! They’re still in the closet as I type this! I will be tossing them in a few minutes.

Over almost twenty years of marriage, I have often asked Bill what the hell he was thinking when he decided to pursue a relationship with his former wife. Don’t get me wrong. She’s probably the perfect mate for someone. But she was clearly not a good match for Bill, even if she was the most mentally stable person alive. They have very little in common, other than having gone to the same high school. They don’t have similar interests at all. He likes to go to nice restaurants, listen to alternative music, brew beer, read good books, and live within his means– but in style. He likes working for the Army and doesn’t mind the chaotic lifestyle that can come from that. Ex has a lot of interests, but none of them really aligned with Bill’s. Her big dreams never seemed to mesh with Bill’s reality and desire for stability.

According to Bill, once she had him hooked, Ex turned into a different person. Ex often made fun of Bill’s interests. She denigrated him in front of other people, and shamed him when he expressed goals and desires for his own life. She had completely different goals, and would not work with him. In fact, she often sabotaged his efforts to get ahead. Her idea was to be the Queen Bee, and he was expected to be a Worker Bee. So, in her mind, he had no right to make decisions for their life together. That was solely her job.

Some people would find this quality in Ex very attractive, as they don’t know what they want, and it can be comforting to be with someone who doesn’t mind being in charge of everything. But knowing Bill the way I do, I think that the chocolate pudding Ex promised quickly turned into a ball of pudding skin. Still, he held onto that shriveled up pudding skin for almost ten years before he finally decided to “throw it away”… He mistakenly believed she was the only person who would find him attractive. When they got together, he even saw himself as shriveled up chocolate pudding, waiting to be “thrown away”.

Carlin continues:

Do people do that with you? Offer you some food that if you don’t eat it, they’re only going to throw it away. Well, doesn’t that make you feel dandy? “Here’s something to eat, Dave. Hurry up, it’s spoiling!” “Something for you, Angela. Eat quickly, that green part is moving!” “Here, Bob. Eat this before I give it to an animal.”

There was a time in Bill’s life when he had very little confidence, especially around women. Although he’s always been a very pleasant, likable, attractive person, he somehow got the message that he wasn’t appealing to other people. He was shy, and reluctant to approach women. But, like a lot of people, Bill also hoped to marry someday, and have a family. Ex presented him with that possibility when she showed up on his doorstep in Germany with her toddler aged son. She was friendly and charming, and willing to relieve his loneliness. They knew each other from their high school years. In his mid 20s, Bill was watching his contemporaries get married and start families. Ex was offering him that chance, and he wouldn’t have to put himself out there to get it. She was pursuing him, which was flattering and deceptively made starting a family seem “easy”. And… he also felt kind of sorry for her. She told him horror stories (probably false or exaggerated) about her first husband that stimulated the “white knight” rescuing aspect of his personality.

So, even though they weren’t a very comfortable match, Bill decided to marry Ex. In retrospect, it seems kind of crazy–like taking a chance on eating that ball of shriveled up chocolate pudding skin and hoping it doesn’t make him sick or kill him. And yet, people do that all the time, don’t they? They take a chance on that questionable food from the fridge, some of which they may not even be able to identify anymore.

Carlin says:

…Perhaps the worst thing that can happen is to reach into the refrigerator and come out with something that you cannot identify at all. You literally do not know what it is. Could be meat, could be cake. Usually, at a time like that, I’ll bluff. “Honey, is this good?” “Well, what is it?” “I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks like…meatcake!” “Well, smell it.” (snort, sniff) “It has absolutely no smell whatsoever!” “It’s good! Put it back! Somebody is saving it. It’ll turn up in something.” That’s what frightens me. That someone will consider it a challenge and use it just because it’s in there.

“Honey, is this good?”

Then there’s the concept of “leftovers”. I think about how I wound up spending a year of dysfunction in college, because I needed a roommate. I found myself agreeing to live with a woman with whom I was completely incompatible. And, in fairness, she agreed to live with me, and she probably feels about me the same way as I do about her. Yet, we still agreed to be roommates. This wasn’t because we were “simpatico”, but because we both needed a warm body to occupy our dorm room.

It was quite a year. We survived, but not on particularly friendly terms. I guess you could call us “leftovers”. We were two people– not friends– who needed someone to share a room and hadn’t ended our first year of college with a buddy with whom we could bunk. It wasn’t a good match, and I’m sure we were both equally glad when the academic year was over and we didn’t ever have to see each other again. It’s one thing to do that when you temporarily need a roommate. Bill had his share of incompatible roomies, too. But it’s really not a good idea to start a marriage with that mindset, especially when children are in the mix. Marriages are supposed to last most of a lifetime, even if they often don’t.

Carlin says of the food in the fridge:

It’s a leftover. What a sad word that is. Leftover. How would you like to be…a leftover? Well, it wouldn’t be bad if they were taking people out to be shot. I might even volunteer. But, y’know, leftovers make you feel good twice. D’ja ever think about that? When you first put them away, you feel really intelligent- “I’m saving food!” And then, after a month, when hair is growing out of them and you throw them away you feel…really intelligent- “I’m saving my life!”

I have often pointed out to Bill that, while he definitely suffered, having married Ex when he didn’t really love her, Ex also suffered. Because who wants to be the charity project of someone who just feels sorry for them? Ex used to complain to Bill that he didn’t love her enough. Bill would try to show her that she was wrong. Of course that never worked, because she already knew what he didn’t want to admit. He hadn’t married her because he loved her and wanted to be with her. He married her because he’d pitied her, and himself… and he didn’t have enough self-respect to give himself the chance to find someone more compatible. He also didn’t have enough respect for Ex to give her the same opportunity, thus sparing themselves and their children a lot of pain.

Bill had made the mistake of regarding himself as a “leftover”. He also regarded Ex as a “leftover”. And he had decided, with her agreement, that they should try to make it work, even though there were many signs that it was not a good idea. Getting married to another warm body simply because someone is willing and available is not exactly a great way to start a family, is it? I mean, many people have done it… and some may have stayed together for many years. But how many people find happiness that way?

It works in the movies sometimes, but not so much in real life. Like having an ill fitting shoe, or a dental crown that doesn’t quite fit right. Maybe it functions, but it’s not comfortable or pleasing. You end up with blisters or inflammation that makes you miserable. Or maybe, to keep with the food theme, the leftovers take away your hunger and keep you from starving to death, but leave you with diarrhea or heartburn. Not all leftovers go together, you see. Who wants to mix cherry cheesecake with stinky cheese, roast beef, and peanut butter?

There’s more to Carlin’s brilliant “Ice Box Man” routine, and I highly recommend that you listen to it, especially if you haven’t heard it. Carlin was a wise, observant, and brilliant man, who was also very funny! I have learned a lot from him over the years.

As for Bill’s formerly “Ice Box Man” approach to marriage, I would say that not all is lost. He came away from that experience with a lot of wisdom and insight. He has a daughter who has come around after years of estrangement. He’s got three grandchildren. And he has the satisfaction of knowing that he was able to survive some pretty horrifying shit. Now, he’s thriving, and he’s found someone with whom he is very compatible… ME. 😉

God knows, I have often thought of myself of a leftover, too… so I am very happy to have found the right person against tremendous odds. Especially if you know how and where we actually met… but that’s a story for another day.

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celebrities, Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology

The latest big dream “job”…

The featured photo is one I took when Bill and I visited Venice, back in 2013… Ex probably could have had that herself, if she hadn’t been so hellbent on “punishing” Bill for not dancing to her tune.

It’s Tuesday, and once again, I’m finding myself reluctant to write too much about current events. I’ve been consuming all kinds of “news”/infotainment about politics, and the aftermath of Trump’s time as our “POTUS”. I just don’t feel like going there today. My mind is still on Jennette McCurdy’s book, and how much it resonated with me. I am fortunate, in that my own mom wasn’t like Jennette McCurdy’s mom was. It resonated with me, because I think Bill’s ex wife is a lot like Jennette’s mom was.

A really good interview about Jennette McCurdy’s book, I’m Glad My Mom Died.

No, none of Ex’s kids have been professionally involved in show business. But I do remember when the kids were young, we would hear stories about her hopes for them to enter showbiz. We’d hear about her wanting ex stepson or one of Bill’s daughters to audition for movies, or get involved in the performing arts. Recently, she’s been tweeting celebrities about her youngest daughter wanting to become an actress and hoping to go to a “conservatory”. I think I’ve included those tweets in earlier posts here, so I’m not going to repost them in this entry. But yes, she’s posted about that, and she’s included comments about how she wants one of her daughters to marry Keanu Reeves or someone similar. She is fixated on fame and what she thinks is “quick money”. Bonus if it’s someone else doing the work, while she enjoys the benefits of being the “mom”.

Recently, Ex has gotten back to posting on Instagram. A few days ago, she posted a few new agey “positive” memes. On the surface, the memes appear to be very nice and edifying. I’m sure the strangers who look at them, and know nothing about her, think she’s just this really kind, loving person. Below are a few recent examples:

I don’t pay a lot of attention to Ex’s Instagram, although sometimes, I do check out the comments. I definitely stopped in my tracks when I read the comments on the one about traveling before retirement… Behold:

Now… there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about travel. I did it for years, before Bill and I could finally make the dream come true. However, given the life that I have with her ex husband, it does strike me as crazy that Ex is now posting pictures of memes that reference Italy, and wistfully commenting about how much she’d love to travel with her youngest child, who has “severe autism”. She has repeatedly posted that he runs away, and for that reason, she needs a fence for her backyard. More than once, in this year alone, she has posted crowdfunding attempts to get money to finance building a fence. She has posted repeated claims that no local charities can help her, and no gadgets or gizmos designed to stop her son’s escapes have worked.

It’s possible that Ex’s post about wanting to travel is just “shit” she posted** for whatever reason** just to get a reaction– any reaction at all– from her followers. Still, I can’t help but pause. She’s commenting that she’d like to travel the world with her son, who has severe autism and, she claims (falsely, I think), that he doesn’t speak at all. Someone suggests that she start a blog about traveling with her autistic son. Her response is, “Yes… I’ve been giving it serious thought… but I need money to make it happen.”

I smell another kickstarter… and probably one that will go as far as her fence fund has.

I reflect on the stories I’ve heard from Bill and younger daughter, about the money Ex pisses through, buying worthless crap online, or taking road trips, often to see her unsuspecting victims. Then, she will try to grift, as she did last spring, when she brought Bill’s older daughter to his stepmother’s house and asked for money and “heirlooms”. Bill’s dad died in November 2020, so his stepmother has been grieving. I’m sure she’s pretty vulnerable right now. To her credit, she did tell Ex that she couldn’t help her with money. That was when Ex gave her boxes to put things in that she’d like to “pass down”. My guess is that anything Ex got from SMIL would end up on eBay.

Let’s also not forget that the only reason she even knows SMIL is because of Bill, yet she completely denied Bill any access to his daughters, from 2004 onwards. It’s only been a few years since he and his younger daughter reconnected online. He has managed to see her in person just once since then– in March 2020, just before the pandemic hit with a vengeance. He has met his older two grandchildren. Both he and his daughter CRIED when they reunited, and younger daughter explained that she was forced to send a letter disowning Bill. She says her mother literally stood over her and dictated what she would be writing. And she removed all traces of Bill from their possession, and goaded them into legally changing their names when they turned 18. But there she is on Instagram, posting memes about what speaking kindly to a human can do. The cognitive dissonance is astounding.

It’s hard to know where the truth lies regarding anything Ex says. She posts these “lovey” comments about her son, and how much she adores him. Then she posts about how he breaks her heart and makes her life difficult. She posts about how her son needs a fence to stop him from escaping home. Then she posts about how she wants to take him around the world and write about how he sees it. And she doesn’t post as if it’s a pipe dream, per se. She actually states that if she could fund it, she’d do it…. again, with a teenaged boy with severe autism whom, she claims, runs away?

Based on what we’ve heard, it’s true that her son runs off. That was confirmed by a more truthful source. So how awesome would it be if she and her son went to– say– Venice, Italy, and he decided to run off into the many vast crowds that descend there? It would definitely make for an adventure. Maybe it would be one she could write a good story about… Would the stress be worth it? I don’t think so, but I’m not Ex. We clearly have vastly different priorities in life.

Bill told me that Ex has always had a lot of “big dreams”. She often starts working on her dreams, using money and resources from other people. Bill did, for example, fund Ex’s forays into Mary Kay and Nutrisystem. He said she actually was doing okay with Mary Kay for awhile, but then abruptly decided the organization exploits women. So she quit selling Mary Kay, and she sold her inventory back to the company, at a substantial loss. The same thing happened with Nutrisystem. She decided after buying the food that it was too much about victimizing women. More money down the drain.

This would all be fine if it only affected Ex. But, as you can see, there are other people in Ex’s life who are impacted by her whimsical decisions. Four of her five children are legal adults now, but one is still in that gray time period between adolescence and adulthood, when someone can vote, but not drink a beer. Two of the three other adult children have moved out on their own, but one still stays at home and figuratively wipes Ex’s ass for her. And then there’s the baby of the family, the lad with autism, who is the star of so many of Ex’s pleas for money and assistance.

Speaking of assistance… what about the therapy dog she’s been posting about? More than once, she’s written about how pricey therapy dogs are, and how she can’t wait to train one to serve her son. If they’re jetting off to Italy so she can be an autistic mommy travel blogger, won’t it be difficult to get a dog and train it? Yes, therapy dogs are used in Europe, but they aren’t as widespread here as they are in the US. Moreover, there are places here where therapy dogs– even the ones that are genuinely certified, and not just “emotional support animals”– are not allowed.

I’m sure that Ex has heard, or maybe has even seen, the lifestyle Bill and I enjoy. We seem to have a lot of what she wants, except we don’t have children. It’s mainly because of her that we don’t have children, since she convinced Bill that he should give up his fertility because pregnancy was so “hard” for her. Obviously, it wasn’t that hard, since she subsequently had two more kids with her third husband. And she’s never going to change. She’ll always be chasing her dreams at other people’s expense. Or her dreams will abruptly change, and she won’t feel like she should answer for that.

Jennette McCurdy has said that her mother had wanted to be an actress. Jennette’s grandparents wouldn’t put her mom in acting when she was a child, nor would they support her career aspirations. So, when she was a helpless child at age six, Jennette’s mom decided that her daughter would be an actress, whether she wanted to be or not. Jennette happened to have the looks and talent to make her mother’s dream a reality. And she was put upon to keep working to keep the dream going, so mom could enjoy the perks and the money that came in. I see Ex as very similar to Debra McCurdy. Someone with big dreams that she can’t really fulfill… but is always looking for someone out there to make something happen for her. And then, inevitably, it won’t be enough, and she’ll have no qualms about tearing that person to shreds. Meanwhile, she’ll put it out to the masses what a “great” loving mother she is… and what a fantastic empathic humanitarian she would like to be. It’s one hundred percent bullshit, isn’t it?

I just hope the damage to Ex’s children won’t be too severe, as it was to Jennette McCurdy when her mother died, and she realized the truth.

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