A few months ago, I read and reviewed a true crime book about notorious Mormon child killer, Lori Vallow Daybell. The book I read, The Doomsday Mother, by John Glatt, is about a woman who professed to be a devout Latter-day Saint. She was beautiful and charismatic… and apparently, she was also more than a bit crazy. Lori Vallow Daybell was, at one point in time, just a toxic person who did things like alienate her children from their fathers. She had her son from her second marriage, Colby Ryan, daughter, 16 year old Tylee Ryan, and her adopted autistic son, J.J. Vallow, and professed to be a dedicated, loving, devoted mother to them.
But then she got involved with Utah sexton and doomsday Mormon author, Chad Daybell. That combination– Lori’s high conflict, narcissistic, paranoid personality, mixed with the doomsday visions of Chad Daybell, proved to be deadly for her children, who were brutally murdered and buried in a pet cemetery on Daybell’s property. Daybell claimed to be preparing for the “end times”, and he wrote about his views in his books, of which Lori was a devout fan. Together, they would also bring about the death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy.
In February 2020, when Lori Daybell was arrested in Hawaii, and was later extradited to Idaho, she was deemed too mentally ill to stand trial. Now, she has finally been declared mentally sound enough to answer the criminal charges against her. After months of being confined in a mental health facility, Judge Steven Boyce, who had ordered Daybell to undergo treatment so that she could assist in her own defense, has declared her mentally fit enough to stand trial. She is now scheduled to be formally arraigned in court next week. She and her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, will stand trial together early next year.
The Daybells, who married in 2019, are being charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, in connection with the deaths of Lori Daybell’s children 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, as well as Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Ms. Daybell also faces charges in Arizona for conspiring to kill her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, with help from her now deceased brother, Alex Cox. Mr. Daybell has already pleaded not guilty to the charges, while Ms. Daybell hasn’t yet entered her plea. Last month, Judge Boyce denied Chad Daybell’s legal team’s request to have his case separated from Lori’s.
At this point, not much has been reported about Lori Daybell’s actual mental state or what treatment she has been undergoing. I can’t even imagine what mental healthcare providers had to do to get Lori Daybell ready to face the charges against her. I would like to know how one is deemed fit or unfit in cases like these.
I remember back on June 20, 2001 (my birthday), when Texas mom Andrea Yates was in the news for methodically killing her five children by drowning them in a bathtub, I had some sympathy for her. Yates, by most accounts, was a good person before she finally succumbed to mental health ravages caused by post-partum psychosis. She was legitimately and obviously mentally ill, and she couldn’t help the delusions that led her to kill her children. Hers was a case that certainly warranted an insanity defense. I can’t even fathom how truly awful it must have been for her to restore her sanity. Andrea Yates has even been offered the chance to leave the mental hospital, but she has declined to go.
I’m not nearly as sure about Lori Daybell. To me, she comes across as a woman with a very long history of hurting people. She probably was legitimately mentally ill when she was captured, but was she that ill in the years leading up to her violent crime spree? I really don’t know. I made a point of not following this case when it was hot news, but I am now interested in watching how it will go. I hope and expect that Lori and Chad will spend the rest of their lives in prison. I think that would be just, in this case. Their crimes were absolutely horrific, especially toward poor J.J., who was just a kid and was probably tortured before he died.
I’ve mentioned before that the reason I didn’t want to follow this case closely was because Lori reminds me a bit of Bill’s ex wife, although there are definitely some differences between the two women. Ex, at least as far as I know, hasn’t committed murder. But some of their behaviors are eerily similar. I realize that there but for the grace of God go we.
My best wishes and good thoughts go to the people who have survived the horrifying crimes allegedly committed by Lori and Chad Daybell. I can’t even fathom how absolutely horrific this must have been for them. I know they look forward to seeing justice done. Chad Daybell will face the death penalty, but the prosecution hasn’t yet indicated whether or not they will seek the death penalty for Lori. Generally speaking, I am against capital punishment, but I must admit that I won’t lose any sleep if these two get sentenced to death. That doesn’t mean I would vote for it if I was a juror, since I think the death penalty is wrong. But if either of these two happen to get that sentence, I certainly won’t be attending any protests or writing any letters.
I think Lori and Chad Daybell are very sick people… but they are sick in a way that medicine can’t cure. I hope they won’t ever see the outside of a prison again.
Back in 1982, a fantastic song by the Alan Parsons Project came out… and forty years later, it’s still relevant and cool. In fact, I never realized how prescient the lyrics for “Eye in the Sky” would be for me, personally. And the intro, “Sirius” just makes this an epic jam. “Sirius” is like the dramatic storm before the realization of what you’re facing. Listening to this live version, I can understand why Eric Woolfson did a lot of the singing for this band. Still… these lyrics are so meaningful when you’re dealing with a narcissist.
Don’t think sorry’s easily said Don’t try turning tables instead You’ve taken lots of Chances before But I’m not gonna give anymore Don’t ask me That’s how it goes Cause part of me knows what you’re thinkin’
Don’t say words you’re gonna regret Don’t let the fire rush to your head I’ve heard the accusation before And I ain’t gonna take any more Believe me The sun in your Eyes Made some of the lies worth believing
I am the eye in the sky Looking at you I can read your mind I am the maker of rules Dealing with fools I can cheat you blind And I don’t need to see any more To know that I can read your mind, I can read your mind
Don’t leave false illusions behind Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind So find another fool like before Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving
I am the eye in the sky Looking at you I can read your mind I am the maker of rules Dealing with fools I can cheat you blind And I don’t need to see any more To know that I can read your mind, I can read your mind
I was an English major when I was in college. I wasn’t particularly good at being an English major, mainly because I didn’t enjoy analyzing fiction. A lot of the books we read didn’t interest me. I also didn’t want to be a teacher, and the program was really geared for English teachers. I probably should have changed majors. But, since I didn’t switch, I came out of college knowing something about looking at words and deciphering their meanings. One thing I learned is that you can make a strong case for a lot of things, even if your interpretation isn’t exactly what was meant by the person who did the writing. I think “Eye in the Sky” is one of those songs that can mean a lot of things to different people.
When I look at those lyrics, I think they mean that someone has either figured out how to manipulate someone else, or someone recognizes that they are being manipulated. Lately, I have been feeling a little bit like “the eye in the sky”, watching from afar what has been going on with my husband’s former wife and her sketchy dealings with his family. It turns out my instincts were correct. Ex went to see my husband’s stepmother because she was hoping to squeeze her for money.
Fortunately, it turns out that SMIL wasn’t as vulnerable as she might have seemed. My husband’s sister asked her mother about the visit, and she learned that yes, Ex did request financial help. SMIL wisely turned her down. But then Ex went out and bought a bunch of packing materials for SMIL and told her to use them to send her any items that she wanted to “pass down”. Naturally, this really hurt SMIL’s feelings. She was hurt that Ex so brazenly asked her to send her stuff, which, knowing Ex, would just end up being sold on eBay.
I admit that I was pretty upset with SMIL for trusting Ex and allowing her in her home, since she should have known full well what she’s about by now. I’m not close to SMIL at all, but I still don’t want to see her being taken advantage of, especially by my husband’s ex wife. I am very relieved that she didn’t give in… or, at least that’s what she says happened. I doubt she’s lying, though, since she admitted that Ex hurt her feelings by openly soliciting heirlooms from her ex husband’s family. Sheesh! The attitude of entitlement is just astonishing!
In any case, I’m not stupid enough to think we’re out of the woods. It concerns me that Ex was tweeting about her “mum”– a 71 year old woman who just visited the Golden Gate Bridge. That describes SMIL. And Ex was asking about how to buy a photograph to “send” to SMIL. I doubt she would actually send her anything, because Ex is very greedy. But, if by chance she ever did send her a gift like that, there would be an expectation of “reciprocity”.
Reciprocity is a concept I learned about when I was studying social work. It’s the idea that if someone gives you something or does something for you, you “owe” them something in return. Many people fall prey to this mindset, and people like Ex will exploit it to the hilt.
Don’t get me wrong. Reciprocity can be a very positive thing. It can help foster a sense of cooperation and community. Mutually beneficial relationships are at the heart of every successful collaboration where everybody wins. But– when someone toxic abuses that concept of reciprocity, it can be a very damaging thing. Suddenly, you might find yourself beholden to someone, even though you never asked them for “help”, or a gift, or anything else.
Narcissists can use reciprocity to get what they want. They extend a kindness and then, all of a sudden, they’re demanding a payback of some sort. You might hear things like “after all I’ve done for you” or “I gave you such and such; the least you could do is help me out with this”. Then there’s “negative reciprocity”, which is when someone “pays you back” with retribution of some sort. Ex is all about reciprocity, both the positive and negative types. Whenever someone has said “no” to her or held her accountable, her response is to do something damaging.
Take, for instance, Ex’s actions in 2006, after I sent her an angry email. She had gone on the warpath, having asked Bill to talk her son out of moving out of her house. She called up Bill and demanded that he withhold child support from former stepson. She didn’t want him to have the money, because he was planning to use it to move out of her realm of control. Bill refused, and then demanded to know what was happening with his daughters, since Ex had refused to allow him any contact with them. Ex’s response was to send a hateful email to Bill, along with all kinds of mean comments about me. At that point, I had only met the kids once– back in 2003 (and actually, to this day, that is the only time I was in their physical presence)– but she told Bill they hated me and thought I was a “bad influence”. Then she asked him not to tell me what she’d written, to “spare my feelings”.
Bill told me what Ex had written, so I wrote her back, and my email pointed out all of the toxic, horrible, abusive things she’s done. Ex’s response was to get her son to reconnect with his natural father. And actually, we weren’t that upset about that, since bio dad should have always had a connection to his son. But I think she was upset that this didn’t make Bill angry, so her next step was to get ex stepson to secretly reclaim his original surname, while he was getting child support from Bill (at age 21). I found out what was happening because, like I said, I am the “eye in the sky”. Bill busted the lad, whose response was to permanently cut off all communication. That was “payback” from Ex for not accepting her demands– negative reciprocity.
She is not above using positive reciprocity, though. Like, for instance, she will let SMIL see Bill’s long lost older daughter after years of no contact. But, in return, she expects to be treated like SMIL’s daughter. She expects SMIL to be loyal to her, instead of Bill, her stepson. She expects SMIL to give her money and heirlooms. And, if SMIL doesn’t comply, she will take Bill’s older daughter out of contact again. Older daughter, bless her heart, is at age 30, willingly going along with this. I suspect it’s because she knows that if she doesn’t, she will be cut off from her mom and Ex’s “severely autistic son”. And if older daughter isn’t there to look after her brother, who knows what might happen? Actually, I suspect that if older daughter ever leaves Ex, Ex will find a way to put him in some kind of permanent care. Sadly, that might actually be the best thing for him. Ex is just that toxic. Or maybe she’ll keep him at home and something terrible will happen. I suspect that Ex uses the fear of that to keep older daughter in line, even though her brother’s welfare is not her responsibility.
This situation could also be the beginning of Ex’s use of the “door in the face” technique, also known as “rejection-then-retreat” method. The “door in the face” technique is when a person makes an outrageous request that will almost certainly be turned down– say, asking for thousands of dollars for a new fence or a therapy dog– and then, after that, making a smaller, more reasonable request that might be granted, and that was the person’s actual target all along. Ex was rejected this time, but now that she’s given SMIL a taste of having older daughter back in touch, maybe she will weaken at some point and give Ex money or gifts. Or, it could be the beginning of the “foot in the door” technique, which is getting someone to agree with a moderate request (ie; allowing the visit), and then talking them into a larger request.
Personally, I think any exposure to Ex is dangerous for anyone who has ever given her supply. She is like an addict who is chasing a high. She’ll keep coming back for as long as she’s physically able. She doesn’t target Bill anymore, because she knows that he has me around to talk sense into him. Frankly, at this point, Bill would never help her again anyway, because his eyes have opened widely to who she really is. Even if I died or we got divorced, he’s DONE with Ex. He wants nothing to do with her. It wasn’t always like this. When we first married, Bill took pains to be kind to his ex wife. He wanted a civilized, amicable relationship with her. I remember him telling me on many occasions that he wished her no “ill will”. But then, as the years passed, and she treated him with contempt and did her best to ruin his relationships and sabotage his successes, he realized that their relationship was unsalvageable and could NEVER be amicable. And now that his younger daughter has told him what went on when she was growing up, that relationship is even more severed.
This morning, I read yet another AITA column on Reddit Ridiculousness. It was about a woman who had an affair, causing her to divorce. Her teenaged daughter was shattered by her mother’s infidelity. The woman married the man with whom she had an affair, then had a son with him. The daughter has been estranged for six years and has no desire to meet her brother or stepfather. She also shuns her mom, who has told her that she needs to meet her brother if she wants a relationship with her mom.
Someone commented that she didn’t even need to read the responses, since her “narc” mom had done the same kind of thing with an ultimatum. Below is the comment she left, which really made my heart go out to her. Ex has the same “transactional” attitude, and is quite fond of the ultimatum– bartering valued family relationships for attention and supply, and money, of course.
I don’t even need to read this. My narc mother had a similar ultimatum with my whole family: they had to have a relationship with her in order to be allowed to have a relationship with us children. Everyone ended up having to choose not to know us kids anymore for their own safety. It caused me to have a HUGE extended family that I know nothing about, and now there are so many people that know and love me that I don’t feel like I can approach because even though they’re family and I know they’re great people, I just don’t know them.
I left the above poster a comment, and this was her response. It’s like these narcs have a fucking playbook! Tragic for her brother! Tragic for Bill’s older daughter, who is being held hostage and acts like a slave.
Yep. My dad lives across the country and we are slowly learning about each other every chance we get, and unfortunately my brother (who lives with mom in still another far corner of the country) hasn’t been able to make the choice to take any chances to try to do that.
Watching Bill reconnect with his long lost younger daughter has been a rewarding, yet heartbreaking, experience. Because she always had him… and if she was only allowed access to him, she could have had a very different life. Or, at least a very different childhood and adolescence. But, I am so heartened to see that younger daughter isn’t like her mom, and is determined not to be like her. She is stronger than Ex is. Ex used to complain about her adoptive mom using similarly damaging and abusive– transactional– tactics on her. But now, we see, she learned a lot from her mom. We also know this is learned behavior, as Ex was adopted. So, just because younger daughter has a narcissistic mother, she doesn’t have to follow in her footsteps. She has told Bill that she is not going to go that path. All I can say is BRAVO! Thank God she found better role models.
Well, once again, it’s time to bring this entry to a close. We have another lunch date today, and I need to get dressed. I am truly glad that Ex didn’t score any funding from SMIL, and I’m heartened to know that SIL is being vigilant. But I also know that Ex will try again. So I will continue to be the “eye in the sky”… although I would rather not be. Maybe it’s not my responsibility to be so vigilant… but I genuinely am concerned. Also, I genuinely despise Bill’s ex wife, and I want her to stay away from his family. If that makes me “mean” and “selfish”, so be it. I’m human, and I have personally had to pay for some of Ex’s bullshit myself, simply because I love her ex husband… a man who is, thankfully, very deserving.
I apologize in advance for going a bit off the rails in this post… I’m still kind of triggered by how all of this turned out, although I would say we mostly have had a happy ending of sorts.
This morning, I watched a YouTube video by Exmo Lex. I’ve written about her a couple of times in the past year. She’s an ex Mormon whose husband’s family disowned her and her husband because they don’t want to be LDS anymore. Although the video below is about Mormonism, I was a little triggered by it for other reasons, which I will explain in the following paragraphs.
Some regular readers may know that my husband, Bill, and I have been through a similar situation. Bill’s kids disowned him when they were still minors. One of the children, now an adult, and ironically an active member of the LDS church, has resumed a relationship with Bill. The other adult child remains estranged, although she and her mother have no problem continuing to glom on to Bill’s father’s family. Personally, I think it’s very sad, because one would think after so many years, these people would catch on to the fact that Ex is only interested in relationships that benefit her. It’s happened over and over again… that all too familiar cycle of abuse. And the one thing that really punctuates it is the complete lack of respect and regard for other people’s boundaries that Ex demonstrates time and again.
I KNOW that eventually, Ex will discard the people she’s reconnected with; although she never totally severs any connections– probably due to a fear of abandonment and constant need for narcissistic supply– she also never stays close. There is always some kind of eventual falling out that leads to her victims’ eventual discard. But the discards, unfortunately, are never permanent. She always comes back like a bad case of herpes. And she comes back, not because she loves, or even likes, her targets. She comes back because she needs something. Usually, it’s money, or someone else to do her dirty work.
This post wasn’t supposed to be just about Ex, though. It’s about red flags, and signs that indicate that a relationship is “toxic” and needs to be ended. A few days ago, the person who runs the Reddit Ridiculousness Facebook page shared a recent entry from Reddit’s popular AITA (am I the asshole) page. It was about a woman whose husband’s family regularly excluded her from family dinners, while they welcomed her husband’s brothers’ girlfriends. The poster got angry because, once again, she was being dissed. So she decided to go to the same restaurant where her husband was dining with his family and have a steak. Naturally, this upset her husband and his family, who no doubt realized that this was a rather pointed indication that the OP was tired of the disrespect. Still, the husband had the NERVE to get pissed off at his wife for having a steak in the same restaurant where he was dining with his parents and brothers and their girlfriends. Here’s a link to the original post on Reddit.
When I read this the other day, before the update about her leaving her husband was posted, I was reminded of the time Ex “invited” Bill and me to his father’s house in Tennessee for Christmas, and how totally disrespectful it was. Back in 2004, Ex had decided that this was the best way for Bill to enjoy “visitation” with his kids. She and #3 and their baby would be in attendance and there would be stuff going on, making it impossible for Bill to bond with his children and/or influence them in any way. When this happened, Bill and I had only been married for two years, and Bill still hoped he would be able to stay in his daughters’ lives. He knew that if he didn’t attend the holiday gathering, his ex wife would punish him.
For several weeks, I debated as to what I should do. After all, I am Bill’s wife, not Ex. And since I am Bill’s wife, those were now my in-laws, not hers. Yet, here she was, inviting Bill to his own father’s house. It really infuriated me, not just because of her fucking gall, but also because Christmas 2003 was spent with my family, and it had not gone well. I knew that if I went to the Christmas gathering at FIL’s house, and had to spend several days with Ex, yet another holiday would be ruined. I also knew that Bill’s kids weren’t interested in getting to know me, and would never have the chance to get to know me during that trip, which we also couldn’t afford, due to the enormous amount of child support Bill was paying. So, I finally decided that I would not attend. We didn’t tell the in-laws or Ex, because we didn’t want her to cancel the trip. Bill wanted to see his daughters. We knew that part of the reason she had cooked up this little scheme was because she wanted to get a look at me and an idea of what she could get away with.
So I stayed home, and Bill went to Tennessee alone to see his kids. It turned out to be the LAST time he would see them until March 2020, when Bill was finally able to visit his younger daughter in Utah. During that visit at Christmas 2004, younger daughter refused to speak to Bill. #3 was a perfect asshole to Bill, treating him with disdain in his own father’s home. And Ex bent SMIL’s ear about how I had “snubbed” the family by refusing to come. By the time she was finished, Ex had SMIL blaming ME for that fiasco. I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t plan it, nor did anyone even ask me what I thought about it. I was just expected to show up and smile, no matter what.
Many people told me I should have gone to that Christmas gathering and tried to be friendly with Ex. I remember on RfM, a poster took me to task when I wrote about this situation in 2011. She claimed I had “made up” the story, and it was my fault that everything fell apart. This was what the poster got from my anecdote:
You are making this up – you did not cooperate and you will never know what kind of effect it would havehad. You thinking it would have had no positive effect is your way of justifying what you did. Right or wrong – you will never know. When it comes to my ex having a relationship with his kids, I will never get in the way, but I am not like a lot of ex’s I have heard of.
You may have had a positive influence, but you will never know. I am a bit inclined to agree that ‘no good would have come of it’ it is pretty clear that was your intention all along – based on results.
I am also certain you would not have had a good time – you had no intention of doing so. You can only control you and making shit up to justify your behavior is only that – making it up.
Then, when I pointed out to the poster that she doesn’t know me or the other people involved, she insisted that I was in the wrong… and was making up this story. She reiterated that it was MY FAULT that Christmas 2004 was a disaster, because I didn’t cooperate with Ex, turn the other cheek, and let her treat me with disrespect. The person did eventually come around after hours of arguing with me and other RfM posters, but it took some real doing to convince her. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are programmed this way. They think that giving in to controlling manipulators, who are abusive and mistreat other people, is the best way to attain peace and positive results. I eventually told her to fuck off, and this was her response.
No attitude at all, I am just saying that she was so sure it would be bad that she got to be right. Sheesh – tell me to fuck off if that makes you feel better. IMO this is a case of an unwillingness to be accountable. The outcome may have been much more positive had she set boundaries while still going. One will never know and speculation is all that is going on here. IMO pridefulness got in the way of everything. The end result is that her DH has no relationship with his children and IMO that is a tragedy.
Feel free to blast me, but get accountable here and stop acting like the victim.
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t the one who had come up with this plan. No one asked me for my opinion about it. I was just ordered to show up for it, even though it was incredibly disrespectful and inconsiderate on many levels. And the reason I was being expected to show up was supposedly for the kids’ sakes. But honestly, how many kids really want to see their stepparents on the biggest holiday of the year that badly, especially if they don’t have a relationship with them? It would have been one thing if they knew me and were eager to see me. But at that point– and still today– I had only met them in person once. My not being there wasn’t going to make any difference to them. It would only matter to the adults– FIL, SMIL, and Ex, and Ex only wanted me there because she wanted me to be in a controlled environment where, she expected, I would rein myself in and not cause a scene. The in-laws just wanted permission to invite Ex so they could keep seeing the grandchildren. My feelings didn’t matter, because in their minds, I was the interloper– even though I had NOTHING to do with the divorce. It was as if because I came second, I should simply tolerate blatant disrespect as a matter of course. Well, that’s simply not in my DNA anymore.
And actually, I don’t think I was “acting like a victim”. In fact, I avoided being a victim, because I could see through Ex’s scheme and didn’t show up like a lamb to slaughter, setting myself up for yet another shitty Christmas. There is no way Ex and I would have gotten along, because Ex isn’t a normal person, and she wasn’t willing to cooperate with Bill on any level. What kind of person invites herself to someone else’s home, demands to be allowed to stay there, even though it’s her ex husband’s family’s home, and then demands that her ex husband and his new wife show up to observe the biggest holiday of the year? It’s absolute lunacy! And it took incredible nerve and entitlement– as well as willing flying monkeys– to pull it off. In the years that followed, Ex tried to get Bill to sign papers that would have allowed #3 to legally adopt the girls. Of course, I doubt Ex would have filed the papers, because that would have meant no more of Bill’s generous child support. As it was, she got the girls to legally change their last names. BUT… SMIL has forgotten all about that, and has allowed that bitch into her house again. She has apparently believed Ex’s lies about her own stepson.
When another RfM commenter wrote that she wasn’t sure if I did the right thing, I responded with this:
I am not asking anyone to “agree” with what I did. The fact is, a lot of people didn’t agree with what I did. I second guessed my decision myself for awhile, until it became very clear that the Christmas gathering was a trap set by a narcissist who sought to control me and my husband.
Here are the facts. My husband’s ex has a long history of putting people in awkward situations and exploiting them. A year before my husband and I met, the Ex served my husband divorce papers at his father’s house over Easter. The children were there for “that” little spectacle, too.
I did not plan that Christmas gathering. I was just expected to attend, whether I wanted to be there or not. Visitation of the kids was an issue that was between my husband and his ex wife. I had nothing to do with it. I am not their parent and THAT was made abundantly clear from the very beginning.
I would have liked to have had a relationship with them, but I wasn’t about to have one on my husband’s ex wife’s terms. That would have set us up for years of her violating boundaries.
It seems to me that if the Ex wanted me to “bond” with her and her husband, along with the kids, she would have picked a holiday with fewer expectations, less religious significance, less pressure, and less stress– say, Memorial Day or July 4th. She would have chosen a neutral location. She would have asked ALL of the adults who were involved if they agreed with the arrangements, instead of just expecting everyone to comply with her demands without question. She would have approached this situation with a lot more respect for EVERYONE, not just me.
When someone advised me to ignore the woman who kept telling me how “wrong” I was to skip the Christmas gathering, she wrote:
That’s not what I’m saying, what I am saying is that her attitude and attendance could or could not have made a difference. His children have been told to demonize her and she did not show her face to present anything different. Had she gone and chosen to act like an adult, they would have seen she is not thehorrible person their mother has told them she is. They did not get that chance because she refused to attend. I am just not one to say that pouting, stomping your feet, and saying I will not set aside my own pride for the sake of my husbands children is a good thing. You all can say that all you want, I just don’t agree.
ETA – Many divorced couples are setting aside their differences and attending events together in order to create a win/win. My ex and I do this, my daughter and her ex and her new bf’s ex do this. It’s a healthy thing IMO – it shows that adults can set aside their differences and create something better.
Mmm’kay… so “acting like an adult” means that I should simply tolerate abusive bullshit from my husband’s ex wife? That means that we give up precious vacation and family time to put up with her schemes, no matter how completely horrible and sick they are? My mental health doesn’t matter? Wow… unbelievable. I might have agreed with the poster if Ex was a normal person. She’s not a normal person, and this wasn’t a friendly invitation. It amazes me that this person is so sure that, not knowing any of the people involved in this scenario, we could all just come together in harmony, and that the whole thing hinged on me. What was really important is that Bill was able to see his kids. I didn’t need to be there for that. And I don’t think I was a victim. I think Ex is an enormous asshole who uses her children and other people to feed her need for control. She should have sent the kids on a plane, but she refused to do that. She had to be in the middle of it, controlling everything. Sorry, but as an adult, I don’t have to sign up to be under her control. Fuck that, and fuck the poster who apparently thinks that having a “golden uterus” entitles Ex to call the shots.
Someone finally spelled it out to the clueless poster who blamed me for the Christmas disaster. She wrote:
“My husband was trying really hard to nail down visitation with his daughters. He truly loved his kids and wanted to see them, but his ex kept shooting down all his proposed visitations. “
His ex was making it difficult for him to see his kids.
You’re projecting your situation on hers, and then condemning her for not being able to do what you were able to do, bigred. THE OP was working with a deck stacked against her. There was never going to be a positive way out of this one – the ex was clearly not interested in keeping things civil and wanted to be in control of everything (right down to dictating how she’d be staying in OP’s DH’s family home!)
She was right to back out of the situation to keep herself out of the equation. Remember – they’re not her kids, and he doesn’t have primary custody, so the term “stepmother” would be so incredibly loose as best that she had no right to get in the middle there.
There was a history of problems, and she rightly stepped back out of them.
The ex poisoned her kids against the husband, and used the OP as fodder for more negativity. The OP couldn’t have done a single thing here, other than make things worse if she stepped into it.
There was a lot more to that post. I’m still kind of triggered by it, even though I wrote it eleven years ago, and it was about an incident that happened in 2004. It’s not easy being a second wife and stepmother. It was especially hard for me in the early days, because so many people assume that second wives are abusive homewreckers. Bio moms and first wives are often automatically assumed to be victims, when that isn’t always the case. Ex uses that “First Wives Club” idea to promote her own agenda. One person wrote this– again assuming that I caused this shit, and projecting their thoughts onto our situation. I promise you, I didn’t cause this.
Whenever I hear the term ‘alienation’ I see it used as a way to trivialize any legitimate feelings the children have and lump them all on the ‘offending’ parent.
If my dad left my home, moved halfway across the country, and started a whole new life with some stranger, spending more time with her than me (as a daughter myself, I have no doubt that these girls saw this as ‘dad loves her more than us’ thing) I think I would be hurt and angry too.
I doubt the ‘evil ex’ had to do much, if anything, to ‘get’ those girls to write off their dad. I also have to wonder how much of the craziness/anger with the ex has to do with her being upset that her children are so upset.
I know this shit usually takes two, I just always have to wonder what the other side of the story is and whythis dad had, according to the story, spent so little time with his kids in the last 2 years. He got married and had not one, but two kids with this woman. Did she just turn crazy after the divorce? I’m sure he played no part in it, he was just an Innocent bystander, right?
Sorry to say this, knotheadusc, but as far as those kids are concerned, you ARE an interloper. You got involved with a man who was already in a committed relationship, a father/minor daughter relationship. The kids haven’t been ‘alienated’ by a wicked ex, they are human, and for all intent and purpose, you stole their daddy. At least that’s how it feels to them.
So, the above person hasn’t heard of people in the military, who usually have to move at least every three years? Ex also moved after the divorce. She went the opposite direction, and lived in a state where there are very few military installations. She demanded so much child support that we couldn’t afford to visit. The courts weren’t involved in their divorce, other than to approve the filing, and we didn’t have the time or money to use them to force her to allow visitation. And after a divorce, Mom can get remarried, but Dad can’t? And somehow, this is all MY fault? Ex demanded the divorce, and I didn’t even know Bill in person when it happened. Later, we learned from younger daughter that Ex had pretty much forced her and her sister to be alienated. They weren’t naturally inclined to be that way.
While I appreciate that it’s human nature to “armchair general” other people’s actions, knot and I are the only folks here who where there and know the entire story. It is not so cut and dried.
I reentered the Army toward the end of my ninth year of marriage to the ex. Even though our marriage had almost deteriorated past the point of no return and I was living in a toxic environment, I was still willing to save it (for the sake of the children, no less). I was offered (really ordered) to an assignment in a neighboring state, and I asked (really begged) her to pack everything up, get rid of the money-pit house that was falling down around us and go with me. She refused.
We were geographically separated for five months before she served me divorce papers. In that time, she succeeded in packing up and sending out all my things, removing pictures of me and my mother from the house and from photo albums, telling the kid’s teachers and other Ward members and Bishopric that I had just “left”. She tried to convince my family that I was a sick and abusive misogynist, and some of them bought it. I began to see that she was shaping an environment whereby I’d be isolated from family and friends, and the only way to break that isolation would be to comply with her demands, reenter the toxic environment, and “shut up and color”.
Read Orwell much?
Two months after serving me papers she packed up the kids, abandoned the house (oh yeah, I was paying the mortgage too) and moved to AZ. Why? Don’t know–neither of us have any family there. However, her move created a complex problem set to visitation. First, I just started a new job and people aren’t successful in their jobs if they are never there. Then there was distance–I couldn’t have my kids over every other weekend or go see them for that matter, just “on a whim”. Economics. Knot did mention that after paying the mortgage, alimony and child support I had about $600 left over, right? Still, I was able to see them five times during those first two years.
The I moved to VA and got married. 9/11 became an excuse for her to deny my requests to fly the kids to the East Coast. If I wanted to see them, then I had to come out there. She was the mom and “knew better”. Frankly, I didn’t have the money or the time to take her to court. And losing my job over it briefs well as a Lifetime Movie script, but it really would have been irresponsible.
So the Christmas idea was all hers, brought up while we were negotiating visitation. She played it off as a “win-win”–they’d get to see their parents, and knot and I could be there too (she never said that the kids wanted to see me or their stepmother). I didn’t want to do it at first. I’d known the ex at that time for over 18 years and understood what she intended to do. She was shaping my parent’s house as a “killing ground” of sorts. She was bringing her husband and the kids she had with him. So, if knot and I showed up, the ex would monopolize all my parent’s time, bring up the past (remember when we…), and do all she could to probe knot while pushing her to the periphery. Her husband was there to enforce loyalty binds and he did so, working his best to take my kids’ attention from me. Christmas was miserable, and later I told my parents that I would never do that again. But it was the only way to see my children.
This has all been a bunch of TL;DR, but life is about making choices and dealing with the risks involved. I made choices and accepted risk that other folks may disagree with.
But they weren’t there.
Incidentally, Bill recently sent his younger daughter– the one who wouldn’t speak to him during that Christmas visit– a box full of goodies. This morning, we got to see a video with her and her two kids. When we were in France last month, I found a block of gingerbread flavored chocolate, which came with a little wooden hammer that can be used to break the chocolate into pieces. The kids love it! And they were so adorable, saying hi, smiling, and waving. Bill is going to tell his daughter how to make a kugelhopf, since we sent her a form. She thought it was for making juice! You see? Sometimes, these stories have happy endings.
I really didn’t mean to write about this again today… but Exmo Lex’s video about red flags and the Reddit Ridiculous post really brought it all back to me. Conventional wisdom often turns out to be wrong in some situations. I know I was right not to give in to Ex’s manipulation tactics. I was right not to let her control me, or really, to allow her anywhere in my presence. She’s toxic; the red flags are there, and as I wrote in that post, someone has to stay out of the vortex… or on the side of the quick sand pit. I just wish we hadn’t been put in that situation in the first place. Sometimes, being “nice” and cooperative only leads to heartbreak. You often have to use your head to avoid hurting your heart. That’s my motto, and the moral of the story… and with that, I will close today’s post. If you made it to the end, thank you very much for reading.
The featured photo is one of the places Ex says she wants to visit… we were there in August 2019, long before I knew this was one of her “dream” destinations.
Happy Sunday morning, y’all. The sun is back in Germany. I don’t know how cold it is outside, but all the snow we got on Friday and Saturday has vanished. Bill and I have a lunch date for later, and I’m working on booking lodging for our upcoming trip to Italy. We will be going to Parma, Florence, and Lugano, among other places, at the end of the month. The trip includes wine tasting, and I’m sure, plenty of food. I’ll be sure to bring my “fat pants”… which means I could bring pretty much all of the pants I own. It’s nice that we can do these things. I plan to enjoy doing them for as long as possible.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a post I titled Love bombing 101… lather, rinse, repeat… That was kind of a continuance of another post I wrote a month ago called The seaglasshole is at it again, which was about my husband’s ex wife’s “crowdfunding campaign” for a new, secure fence for her 15 year old “severely autistic son”, who runs away. For months, she’s also been tweeting up a storm about finding a “service dog” for her son.
My husband was married to this woman for almost ten years, back in the 1990s. He was her second husband. One of the problems they had in their marriage was that she had a habit of spending gobs of money on things they couldn’t afford, and didn’t need. At the same time, she insisted on handling the money, even though she wasn’t the one earning it. She also insisted on living in a small town in Arkansas that didn’t offer the kind of work Bill was qualified to do. As you might have guessed, these decisions led to financial ruin.
When I met Bill online, back in 1999, he was flat broke. He lived on about $600 a month, having lucked into a cheap apartment near the Army post where he was working. Ex took most of his salary, which covered child support, alimony, and the mortgage payment on the dwelling they bought that would eventually go into foreclosure. He also went through bankruptcy while they were married. While I could blame Bill for not being more assertive in his dealings with Ex, I have come to realize that she’s one of those people who can be a holy terror when she’s angry. She’s also very manipulative, and knows how to wheedle money out of people, even when they really can’t afford to give her money. Or… in the case of my husband’s stepmother, really shouldn’t be giving her money because they live on a fixed income.
When they were still married, Ex had a habit of buying stuff on eBay, ordering elaborate snacks from Swiss Colony, and making large purchases without discussing it with Bill, or even waiting until he had a full time job. One time, Ex bought two cars without Bill’s input– a van for herself and a Miata for Bill. Another time, she bought new furniture, carpeting, and ordered landscaping while Bill was on National Guard duty. At the time, it was his only source of income, since he had just (temporarily) left active duty, mainly at her behest. During the four years he was off active duty, but still in the National Guard, Bill was working low paid and unsatisfying jobs in factories, because that was all that was available for him at the time in the Arkansas town where they lived. She didn’t care. In fact, she often did things to try to sabotage Bill. Like, for instance, if he had to work one evening, she’d go out and leave him with the kids, then get back late, which would make him late to work. And, of course, she also got him to become a Mormon (temporarily), which required tithing 10% of his income.
She finally decided to dump him when he got sick of the hand to mouth lifestyle and went back on active duty. Or, maybe her plan wasn’t actually to dump him. She said she wanted to force him to “rock bottom”. She set up her confrontation at my FIL’s and SMIL’s home in Tennessee, over Easter weekend in 2000. FIL and SMIL took the kids out for ice cream, and Ex dramatically confronted Bill about his alleged (and imaginary) “hatred of women”. She wanted him to go into counseling with his LDS bishop. Bill declined, since he doesn’t hate women and didn’t need counseling for that… (although I might agree that he could have used support and counseling for other reasons). When he declined, she said, “Then I want a divorce. I’ve already found a notary and drawn up the papers.”
Bill was distraught. He didn’t want to divorce, mainly because he didn’t want to lose access to his daughters and former stepson. He loved them, and as a child of divorce himself, he knew that divorce would be hard for them. Also, he was heavily under the influence of Mormon bullshit, particularly the popular saying that floats around the church…
“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”David O. McKay
He asked Ex if she didn’t think he was a good husband and father. And her cold response was, “Maybe to another family.”
So, much to her shock and dismay, he agreed to the divorce. There they were, on Easter Sunday, driving to the notary public in Tennessee, signing the paperwork. I’ve heard that Ex locked herself in the guest room at my in-laws’ house for hours before they made the trip. Bill held her hand the whole time on the drive to the notary’s house. And then, a couple of months later, it was a done deal.
A year later, we met in person. This year, we will have been married for 20 years. All I can say is that I’m glad he decided to divorce her. He’s a wonderful husband, and it’s one of my deepest regrets that we couldn’t have children together, thanks to Ex’s decision to convince Bill to have a vasectomy (which he later unsuccessfully had reversed). But honestly, we have a great life… and we get a lot of joy just being together and loving the many rescue dogs we’ve had over the years. Lately, I’ve actually been feeling grateful that I don’t have to worry about children in today’s world, anyway.
The one time we had a visitation with the kids, it was June 2003. Ex was still “Mormon”. We had two beers in our fridge because, after all, I’m not LDS. Bill’s younger daughter saw the beers and slapped him across the face. She was nine years old at the time. I was shocked. If I had ever done that to my father, I would have been knocked into the next millennium. But Bill just sat there looking sad. Later, Ex sent Bill a nasty email demanding more life insurance coverage (he had a $500,000 policy, and she wanted $1 million). She mentioned in the email, regarding the beer, “I’m so glad that at least you didn’t drink in front of YOUR SON (ex stepson– who is actually #1’s son).” In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t have visitations. Imagine the stress.
Bill now has an excellent credit rating. He’s thriving in an interesting and well-paying career that suits him. Though he lost contact with his two daughters and former stepson, one of his daughters has figured out that her mother is abusive. She now talks to Bill all the time. The other one, sadly, is still mired in the bullshit and, at age 30, still lives with her mother, taking care of Ex’s “severely autistic son”.
For years, I’ve been writing about this… and it’s only been recently that I’ve been paying attention to what Ex does online. I used to avoid looking her up because I didn’t want to be angry, even though I was angry, anyway. Now that Bill’s children are adults, I’ve been watching her. At first, it was entertaining, but now I do it because I’m afraid she’s going to exploit my husband’s stepmother. As I wrote in my “Love Bombing 101” post, I’ve seen evidence that Ex has been grifting money from SMIL. And while that’s not directly my business, I don’t want to see Bill’s other family members wind up having to pick up the pieces when Ex drains SMIL dry, the way she did Bill.
The other day, Bill contacted his sister and told her about what we’ve observed. Ex went down to see SMIL last month, and just after that visit, I noticed that the crowdfunding she had going, asking for funding for a fence, was gone from her social media. I posted screenshots of the crowdfunding campaign in the other post, since I’m sure it will be deleted soon. Today, I have screenshots of some of her latest public online activities. Notice how many pleas she makes for items that aren’t really “needs”– photos, books, puppies, gin and gin glasses (guess she’s not Mormon anymore)… as well as flirting with Mark Hamill and other people she admires. And yes, lots of bragging about her supposed relations to famous Scottish families (Ex was adopted).
It’s been interesting watching Ex in action. You see, I’ve been exploring my own ancestry, and I’ve discovered that I’m pretty Scottish myself. Both 23&me and Ancestry say so… I don’t claim to be related to any famous Scottish families, but I do know I’m related to a whole lot of Scots (and Brits and Irish people). And we’ve actually had the chance to go to some of the places Ex says she dreams of visiting. Perhaps if she hadn’t been so keen on her wants back in the 90s, she could have been to some of these places and seen them firsthand, instead of scouring Instagram and Pinterest for stuff to dream about. Perhaps she could have also taken her “beloved” children with her on these trips, so they could also explore the world. But no… there were too many other pressing desires… like treats from Swiss Colony, Disney plates, and depression glass.
This may seem like a “mean” post. But Ex has been getting away with her shit for years… and it’s mainly because no one directly calls her out on this stuff. We did clue Bill’s sister in to what we’ve observed, and advised her to keep an eye on her mom. Ex may still do some grifting… but maybe if it gets bad enough, SIL can get law enforcement involved. Because I don’t think Ex will stop until she’s forced to stop somehow.
Well, I need to close this post, because Bill and I have a lunch date. I need to get dressed and put on my face. I suspect some people will think it’s wrong that I’m exposing Ex in this way… but I’m just so tired of sitting by and watching her spread her lies. Ex is a liar, a grifter, and exploiter. I’m glad no one but her contributed to her crowdfunding campaign. I’m going to do what I can to stop Ex from turning herself into SMIL’s next cash drain. The seaglasshole doesn’t practice truth in grifting, and I’m tired of seeing people I care about being used by her.
I often think of my husband’s dealings with his abusive ex wife as being akin to being trapped in a can of soda that is being shaken. You know what happens when you shake a can of soda. The bubbles get agitated and pressure builds. If someone happens to open the can while it’s agitated, the liquid spews out all over the place, making a huge mess. As we were talking about the most recent situation last night, I was reminded once again. It’s like dealing with a can of soda that has been shaken. Once you’ve been exposed to such a situation, it can replicate in similar situations. You learn habits that might not be the best for dealing with problems. Instead of taking a deep, cleansing breath and being mindful, maybe you’ll explode, like a can of Coke that was just used as a maraca.
This morning, I read about Will Smith’s decision to resign from the Academy in the wake of his decision to hit Chris Rock during his performance last week. I’m sure that this decision wasn’t an easy one for Smith to make. In fact, I’ll bet he’s had a difficult week. I don’t necessarily think he’s wrong to step down, in spite of his Oscar win. What he did was very seriously fucked up, although many people are still saying that Smith was only standing up for his wife. But, as I read about the decision Will made, and remembered what happened at the Oscar Awards ceremony last week, I was suddenly a little bit “triggered” by an old memory. Seeing Chris Rock being hit on live television reminded me of something that happened to me in 1993.
It was June, and my family decided, for some strange reason, to rent a beach house in Corolla, North Carolina. My parents, my three sisters, my brother in law, my baby niece, my brother in law’s brother, Mike, and my ex friend and my sister’s ex friend, Peggy, were all there. The house was very full, with many different personalities in attendance and a lot of alcohol flowing. I was twenty years old, and would be turning twenty-one in a matter of a couple of weeks.
I remember that at that time in my life, I wasn’t getting along with my dad. Actually, for most of the time he was alive when I was an adult, I didn’t get along with my dad. He was often abusive to me, although I’m not sure I recognized it at the time. Add in my sisters and their strong personalities, my brother-in-law, who loves watching us fight, my former friend and Peggy, as well as a baby, and you have a potential recipe for disaster. To make matters worse, I had PMS and was about to start my period.
One night several days into the “vacation”, we all went out to dinner, and my dad was really getting on my nerves. I made some snarky comment that was directed at my dad. I don’t remember what I said, but my sister’s friend, Peggy, heard it and apparently thought I was talking to her. Suddenly, all hell broke loose. The next day, my sister’s friend suddenly decided to leave. I remember she had given me $10 because I had planned to make dinner the next night and she asked for the money back. At the time, I didn’t understand why she was leaving. I had no beef with her.
All that day, my sister was being shitty to me. She wouldn’t tell me what her problem was. I finally lost my temper and confronted her. She said she was mad at me. My dad, who had been drinking, decided to break us up. He stormed over to us and took me into a room, where he proceeded to berate me for two or three hours. At one point, he hit me in the face, HARD. I was shocked and told him that if he had been someone on the street, I could have him arrested for assault and battery. And then I told him that if he ever raised a hand to me again, I would have him arrested.
He exploded. His face turned beet red and he said, “You go right ahead! Call the police!” Then he made some comment about how I lived in his house and I could just pack up and leave. At some point, I hit my arm on something and developed a really nasty bruise.
I remember that no one helped me during that confrontation, which left me really upset and feeling completely worthless and stepped on. And then, by that point, I’d started my period, which is probably why I was so irritable and made that rude comment in the first place.
My sisters later came in to talk to me. The one who had been mad at me explained what had upset her so much that this huge blowup happened. I told her that I hadn’t been talking to or about her friend, and if she had just asked me, we could have avoided this whole thing. The scene was embarrassing and traumatic, especially since there were a couple of people there who weren’t family members and had witnessed this Mommie Dearest moment between my dad and me. The worst part of it, though, was that the next day, my dad acted as if nothing had ever happened. My sister ended up losing contact with her “friend”, who turned out to be not such a good friend after all.
Five years later, my dad lost his temper again and threatened to hit me. I reminded him of the last time he hit me and what I said to him. He backed off and then started screaming at me. I ended up leaving. Unfortunately, at that time, I was kind of paralyzed. Though I was 26 years old at the time, I was living with my parents and had nowhere to go for more than a night or two. Not long after that, I got on the right depression meds and finally managed to start making plans to get out of my parents’ home. I needed to for their sake, but especially for mine.
Every once in awhile, those old memories resurface. I get “triggered” by certain things. I think watching Chris Rock being slapped by Will Smith was very triggering for me. And the more I think about what happened, the more I realize how wrong Will Smith’s actions were. I think it’s right for him to resign from the Academy. I hope he gets some help for his issues.
Then I started thinking about Chris Rock’s actual joke. Yes, it was tasteless. I don’t really find jokes about other people’s looks funny, as a general rule. But then I think of all of the jokes my favorite comedian, George Carlin, told over the years. I remember when he described former second lady Marilyn Quayle as looking like Prince Charles. I remember jokes Joan Rivers used to make about celebrities and their looks. Don’t even get me started on Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, and Don Rickles! I’m not saying it’s “PC” to make fun of how people look, but comedians have always done it. Kids do it on playgrounds. It’s almost like it’s instinct.
And while I think it would be good if Chris Rock and his fellow humorists came up with other jokes, I also realize that when it comes down to it, Rock was comparing Jada Pinkett Smith to a beautiful woman. Demi Moore, who was the lead in G.I. Jane, was in her prime at the time. She was strong, badass, and gorgeous. Yes, she shaved her head for the role, but she was still amazing looking, even if the film itself was kind of stupid.
Jada, herself, even said that she didn’t give “two craps” about what people thought of her bald head. So why was Will Smith so enraged? His profane tirade after slapping Rock also brought back terrible memories. I wouldn’t want to see that again. I think if there’s any chance that Will Smith would ever feel so entitled to walk up on a stage and hit someone like that, he should not be part of the show. This isn’t to mean I think he should be canceled, per se… If he gets some help and learns to control himself, okay. But that was traumatizing for me to watch on video. I actually chose to watch it, knowing what happened beforehand. I’m glad it didn’t take me by surprise.
In any case, watching that event unfold– a triangle involving Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Chris Rock– reminded me of that “shaken can of soda” sense I get sometimes when we talk about Ex… or I’m reminded of that time in my past, when I was regularly having to deal with my dad and his tendency to be violent when the mood struck. Maybe it’s a mild form of PTSD I have, because I realize now that I am no longer able to tolerate abuse. I react badly, as if I’m “saturated”, when there’s abuse afoot. What Will Smith did was definitely abusive and traumatic, not just for Chris Rock, but for everyone who watched it unfold. He reminded me of my dad… and that is not a good thing.
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