Well… last night– yesterday afternoon Arkansas time– Josh Duggar’s charges became public. He’s been charged with two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography. I suspect that was what the whole Homeland Security raid was about back in November 2019, when the feds busted into Josh’s car dealership office. This was the statement released by the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Arkansas.
Back in 2015, when Josh’s pervert proclivities first came out, I had some empathy for him. At that time, his crimes against his sisters and the babysitter were reported as having happened in 2002, when Josh was himself still a child. I reasoned that at 14, he was the same age Elizabeth Smart was when she was kidnapped. People were calling Elizabeth Smart a child. I reasoned that in 2002, Josh was also a child, and should get some consideration for that fact. The fact that he was a male and doing something very wrong didn’t change the fact that Josh wasn’t yet an adult.
In 2015, Josh was NOT a child, but when the news about his crimes against his sisters first surfaced, we hadn’t yet heard about his extramarital affairs with other women or his penchant for viewing pornography as he lectured everyone else about family values and Christian decency. He is a liar and a hypocrite, for sure, and he was back then, too… But I still wish that when he was still just a fourteen year old boy, his parents had done something real to help him. He might have still turned out to be who he is today, but at least they could say they gave helping him an honest try. Instead of getting him some therapy from a real counselor and trying to treat his issues, they shaved his head and sent him off to do hard labor with a family friend.
When I was studying for my MSW, I had a professor who worked with sex offenders. He was an interesting guy, who had a lot to say about the subject and his years of experience within it. He explained that the sex drive is an incredibly powerful impulse and extremely difficult to control in some people, much like eating or drinking. That does not excuse sex offenders from being held accountable when they victimize people. However, it may offer some kind of an explanation. A person with a deviant sex drive is not like you or me; they don’t think the same way because they have a true mental illness.
That being said, I think Josh Duggar is a total creep and a hypocrite, and I would not be surprised if he is a full blown narcissist. He’s done bad things that have affected many innocent people in so many negative ways. I suppose the American public is, in a strange way, kind of complicit in the fact that his crimes have escalated, because he was not really held accountable six years ago. In 2015, Josh was outed, and that should have led to REAL treatment for his problem, as well as restitution that involved something other than attending a fundie “treatment” program. However, the Duggar family franchise still continued. Josh was not on any of the shows, but he was still pretty visible, and he and his wife continued to make babies, which were shown off to the world. It was as if they were counting on (see what I did there) the whole thing to blow over. And, honestly, I think it was getting to that point, although I suspect Counting On is on its last legs, anyway.
I also noticed that Jim Boob and Michelle were also sneaking back into the spotlight. I have no doubt that if Josh hadn’t been busted, they would have eventually found their way back to the show as more prominent fixtures. I absolutely hold Mr. and Mrs. Duggar responsible for not taking proper care of their children– especially Josh and the sisters he violated when he was fourteen. They did nothing to protect or support their innocent children, nor did they get appropriate or effective help for their child who hurt them. Seems to me that money and fame was more important to Boob, and Michelle was simply doing what she was trained to do… be “joyfully available” and follow her man. I wonder if Michelle blames Anna for not being a “good enough” helpmeet. If Anna had only been a better wife, Josh wouldn’t have been tempted… but I think we all know that line of thinking is nothing but bullshit.
A lot of people are writing about Anna Duggar, claiming that they don’t care about what happens to her. I think if they care about Josh’s children– and people really should, in my opinion– we should also care about Anna. She’s very likely going to have to deal with raising that brood by herself, especially if she stays married to Josh. It’s going to be very difficult for her, and she has a big job to do, making sure she does her best to see that none of her children with Josh turn out to be like him in any way. I’ve always thought Anna was a decent mother, although one might question a woman who keeps making babies with a known pervert. But Anna was raised and conditioned to be “joyfully available”, and there is no telling what kind of abuse Josh put her through when the cameras weren’t rolling. Add in Jim Boob’s obvious control issues and the way he treats anyone who doesn’t do what he says, and you have a very scary situation for a young woman, especially one with so many children to care for.
On one hand, I’m relieved for Josh’s children that he probably won’t have much access to them. On the other hand, I also know that it’s hard to see your loved one– especially a parent– being accused of very serious crimes and locked up. Josh’s children are totally innocent, but they are probably going to have to live with this infamy for the rest of their lives. It’s going to affect everything. I imagine when they get older, wanting to find a mate or possibly a job. There will be people who won’t want to associate with them because of who their father is and what he’s done… and allegedly done.
In any case, my sympathies are definitely with Josh’s children. I do have some empathy for Anna, too. She’s got a tough and scary road ahead of her, especially given that she’s pregnant again. I hope this will be the last baby she makes with Josh. And I hope people in her family will show her kindness and mercy, and help her… because I can already see that a lot of people in the public at large have no regard for her at all. I am sure that having been married to a narcissistic type like Josh, she’s used to people not caring or being kind. Remember, Josh famously took a nap when she was laboring at home, birthing one of the older kids. But it’s still a hard way to live, and I think that someone so obviously victimized by a notorious abuser should rate more understanding.
One thing that Bill and I have learned is that these kinds of problems don’t tend to go away when they are ignored. It’s hard to face the truth and all of the unpleasantness that can come with a situation like this. Doing the right thing is difficult and scary. However, if you don’t nip it in the bud with some very decisive and effective actions, it will get worse and more innocent people will be harmed. Eventually, you will end up with a much bigger problem than what you started with.
Incidentally, a Facebook user named Thriving Forward wrote and shared a very informative post about why Anna has stayed married to Josh and continued to have babies. Thriving Forward is herself a survivor and escapee of the fundie cult Advanced Training Institute (ATI), founded by Bill Gothard. ATI is the fundie Christian belief system the Duggars follow. The post is public, and you can find it by clicking here.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on the Blogspot incarnation of The Overeducated Housewife entitled “The Ex is Much Like Wile E. Coyote”. I was inspired to write that post as I realized that a lot of Ex’s big plans eventually fall apart, much like they always did for Wile E. Coyote on the Road Runner cartoons. She has a way of coming up with really big ideas, but somehow, they almost always eventually lead to failure, if not outright disaster. Unfortunately, Ex is great at convincing people, so a lot of innocent folks have been harmed by her big ideas.
When I wrote that post, back in the fall of 2018, I was under a lot of stress. Most of it had nothing to do with Ex. However, because Ex has caused me and a lot of my loved ones considerable pain over the years, I couldn’t help but engage in a bit of snark. That post attracted a comment from a person calling themselves “Wondering Why”, who took exception to my habit of “trashing” Bill’s ex wife. This was the comment left for me by “Wondering Why”:
I have to wonder why you see the need to publicly trash your husband’s ex, repeatedly, on your personal blog. Why do you air such personal business? There is so much negativity coming from you in many posts, and SO much TMI info. So much of it is simply inappropriate. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you need to write it and then publish it. Write it to get out your angst, but seriously, let it go already. You come off as snotty, petty and bitter.
I think I know who this person was. As I have mentioned before, I carefully watch who visits my blog. I could see that this person had visited several times and had even engaged me in chat once or twice. She has since moved to Germany and is a member of a group I run. She once told me that she’s a “first wife”, and I think she assumes Bill’s ex wife is a normal and “nice” person, and that I’m just a mean, bitter, second wife who is picking on her. I can see why she thinks that, based on only reading a few posts.
However, my negative opinions about Ex didn’t form in a vacuum. They are quite well justified, and venting about them helps me maintain my peace in an insane situation. The truth is, Ex does a lot of destructive things that complicate life for many innocents. Her crazymaking has a tendency to make people myopic– they can’t see the big picture and get stuck in her lunacy. It’s painful and distressing to watch if you’re a decent person, which Bill and I are.
Believe me, nothing would have made me happier than if Bill’s ex and I could get along and cooperate for the sake of family. She’s made that impossible, and now that younger daughter is older and talking to Bill, we’ve learned that this is how she treats most people who get close to her. She somehow convinces the most vulnerable people in her life that they can’t live without her, even as she fucks up their lives.
I have noticed that “Wondering Why” now acts like she didn’t leave that comment, and I have never confronted her about it. She’s friendly to me in the group I run. However, I did respond to her comment on the blog itself, as did a number of regular readers who know the backstory about Bill and his ex wife. In fact, that comment spawned several posts, because I was irritated by the hypocrisy and tone of it. This is a personal blog. It’s not always going to be light and breezy reading. If that’s what you want, get a subscription to Reader’s Digest.
Anyway… this post is not so much about a random commenter’s uninformed opinions about my character and posting habits regarding Ex, as it is about Ex’s harebrained schemes that always seem to backfire. Ex does a lot of really impulsive and ultimately stupid things, a lot of which have lasting and very negative consequences. It would be easy to ignore her dumb decisions if they only affected her, but alas… they affect a whole lot of people, as I recently mentioned in my post, Ripple eff-Ex Volume 2. Case, in point, Ex’s foolish decision to convert to Mormonism.
Back in 1997, Bill and his ex wife were living in Arkansas. Bill had temporarily left active duty and, despite having an international relations degree from American University, he was working swing and third shifts in a factory. They were broke, and Bill was constantly working to try to keep things running. Meanwhile, Ex was doing everything she could to ruin their finances and fuck everything up.
During that time, Ex, who also had a friend who was LDS, noticed a “beautiful” family at a restaurant. Or, at least this is the story I’ve heard… I’m not sure if this really happened, or it’s just a fable that sounds good. Ex supposedly noticed how well-behaved, happy, and peaceful the family appeared to be. They said grace before eating, and looked like they all got along so well. She allegedly complimented them on how nice they looked and they told her they were Mormons. I’m not sure if I believe this is exactly how it happened, but like I said, it sounds good. The upshot is, Ex unilaterally decided that she wanted the family to convert to Mormonism.
Bill was desperate to save his marriage, and he knew that Ex was going to do what she wanted regardless. He agreed to join the church. So Ex contacted the LDS church, who sent missionaries. I’m sure they were only too delighted to have a golden contact family– that is, a family who came to them willingly for church membership, rather than having to be convinced to join. Even though Bill loves coffee and booze, he willingly gave them up to make Ex happy. He jumped through all the hoops and got “endowed”, meaning he became “temple worthy” and was deemed good enough to wear the special undergarments that supposedly grant super spiritual powers. Ex also became temple worthy, and the two of them went through a special religious ordinance called “sealing”.
I have written about LDS sealing before, especially in my old blog. It’s a very big deal to LDS church members. The ordinance takes place in a temple, which only the most devout church members can enter. They even have cards with bar codes on them that indicate whether or not a person is “temple worthy”. The members have to answer questions before the cards are granted, and they have to keep them up-to-date.
So, Bill and Ex were sealed “for time and all eternity”. Aw… isn’t that romantic? I’m sure when they got sealed, they were happy to know that their family would be preserved forever, even in the afterlife. During the ceremony, Bill and Ex also got special new Mormon names. Ex doesn’t know Bill’s name, because she’s not cleared to know it. But Bill knows Ex’s name… which is actually the same name all of the women who got sealed on that day at that temple were given. Same as the men. Every day, a new name from a special list is chosen, and everyone who goes through the temple on that day gets the male or female “name of the day”. Because Bill and Ex had two daughters together, as well as Ex’s son from her first marriage, who, at the time, was using Bill’s surname and being raised as if he was Bill’s son, the children were also sealed to Bill– “for time and all eternity”.
Sealing, according to the Mormon tradition, technically means that after we’re all dead, Bill and Ex will still be married. This is where/things get a bit complicated. Mormons take sealing very seriously; however, the rules seem to vary or change depending on who a person is and who they know. I have heard a number of different things about what happens when a couple divorces and/or one person resigns their church membership. It mostly seems to depend on who’s involved with the temple divorce and who’s in charge of the church.
There was a woman who used to post frequently on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. She had an abusive ex husband whom she married when she was very young. She was “sealed” to him, because that’s what good and faithful Mormons do. But their marriage fell apart because he repeatedly assaulted her. She tried to get a temple divorce from her ex husband. This is a separate thing from a legal divorce– it’s something the LDS church does for women.
A temple worthy Mormon man is allowed to be “sealed” to more than one woman. All he has to do is get a sealing clearance indicating that he and the next wife are both worthy. But for women, it can be a hell of a lot more complicated, because women can only be “sealed” to one man, and getting unsealed, while technically possible, can be extremely difficult if one doesn’t have the right connections. Well, the lady on RfM has repeatedly written that even though she’s tried for over 20 years to get the “temple divorce”, the church would never do it. You can read more about this here. She also wrote that her hairdresser, who is “well connected”, got her “cancellation of sealing” in just a few weeks.
Take Marie Osmond, for instance. In 1982, she married and was “sealed” to Stephen Craig, who was a basketball player at Brigham Young University. They have a son together, but split up after only a few years of marriage. Marie later married Brian Blosil and, I can greatly assume, was granted a “temple divorce” so that they could be sealed in the temple. Marie went on to have two more bio children with Brian, and adopted five others. All of those children would have, presumably, been sealed to Brian Blosil. Marie later divorced Brian and remarried Stephen Craig. I’m sure that she and Stephen were resealed, simply because of who she is. For rank and file people, though, this is not such an easy thing to accomplish.
Bill officially resigned from the LDS church in 2006. When he resigned, he got a letter from the church letting him know that his name was removed from the church’s rolls and all blessings and so forth had been revoked. They also sent a cute little pamphlet inviting him to come back to church and get over being “offended”.
One would think that resigning from the church really would mean that he and Ex were automatically temple divorced, right? Not so fast. Again, it seems to depend on who you are and who you know– and probably how much money you give to the church.
Bill does not have any issue with his ex wife being sealed to someone else. In fact, he’d welcome it. When he resigned from the church, Bill even put in his letter that he supported allowing Ex to be sealed to her current husband, #3, who joined the church at Ex’s behest. But we also know that even if a former spouse has resigned from the church, church officials will send a letter to the former spouse if the actively LDS ex spouse wishes to be sealed to someone else. The letter invites the ex spouse to provide any reasons why his or her LDS active ex spouse should not be allowed to get re-sealed. Of course, any opinions given and the details provided aren’t an instant veto. Church officials make the final decision, although they might take into consideration any info they get from the Exes who respond to their queries. It’s just one more way they can get dirt on their members.
Some years back, when Bill and Ex were still squabbling over her decision to cut the children off from Bill (which really shouldn’t have surprised him in the least), Ex mentioned that she was going to try to get their sealing cancelled, so she and #3 could be sealed for “time and all eternity”. I remember early in our marriage, that always bothered me a little bit… because while I’ve always believed sealings are a bunch of hooey, I didn’t like the idea of Ex thinking she still had a hold on Bill. Now, of course, I don’t give a flying fuck what she thinks. I know for a fact that Bill won’t be uttering Ex’s secret name in the Terrestrial or Telestial Kingdoms (cuz I know neither of them are Celestial Kingdom material). But… I also know that Ex never managed to get that temple divorce. I always figured that she never tried very hard, probably because being sealed to Bill is a good thing to throw in #3’s face when she thinks he needs to be brought down a peg. You can’t tell me that Ex never compares #3 to Bill… because that’s what she does to everyone. She is a pro triangulator, and will happily stoop to whatever low depths she can sink to in order to keep people in her sphere compliant with her goals and wishes.
Well… recently, it came to light that Ex had, in fact, tried to get that temple divorce. Younger daughter explained that she and #3 had tried and failed to get permission to be sealed, and they appealed all the way to the First Presidency of the church. That’s about as high as it gets, folks. But the church refused to give her the sealing cancellation for a couple of reasons. First– either one or both of them were not “temple worthy”, meaning they weren’t following all of the rules and paying the necessary tithes to get into the temple. Second– Bill could always decide to rejoin the church, at which point, all of his “blessings” would be reinstated. And younger daughter added that Ex was told that even if the church did allow Ex and #3 to be sealed, Bill’s children and ex stepson would NOT be sealed to #3. Only their two children together would be sealed to #3. Evidently, because of that, Ex stopped trying to get the temple divorce. Obviously, being sealed to #3 was less important than having another thorn to stick in Bill’s side over their divorce. And if she couldn’t steal Bill’s daughters in the afterlife, what good was jumping through all the hoops? I doubt she cares much about #3, anyway.
The best part of this story? It turns out that younger daughter did not want to be #3’s daughter for time and all eternity. Once the temple divorce idea was finally put to bed, she said, “So that means I’m going to stay sealed to my dad? Good!” Of course, she was not speaking to Bill at that time. But it does his heart good to know that younger daughter never forgot him, as Ex had claimed she had.
So… like I said, Ex is much like Wile E. Coyote. She comes up with brilliant plans that she doesn’t think through completely, and they very often end up turning to shit. The decision to joint the LDS church, which I’m sure was a way of getting Bill to be more like her fantasy ideal of a good husband and maintain control over the children, has blown up in her face many times. In fact, the LDS church even served as a way for younger daughter to escape her mother’s clutches. Church members, noting the way Ex is, helped younger daughter out immeasurably when she needed to get away from her mom. And they have tried to help older daughter, too. Unfortunately, older daughter remains stuck… at least for the time being.
I always have a lot of empathy for people who post on RfM about the whole “temple divorce/sealing” issue. I know that subject causes pain, particularly if one is a believer in the church’s teachings. But even if one is not a believer, it’s kind of hurtful to think of your spouse being “sealed” to someone else, even if it’s a bunch of religious mind fuckery. On my original blog, I posted about this subject when, back in 2012, someone on RfM posted about how he was sealed to his first wife and his second wife was upset about it. Here’s what he wrote:
I am in a really difficult situation and would really love to hear from others on my problem. I was raised in the mormon church. I went every Sunday. As a kid, I held all of the leadership roles one could hold. I didn’t go on a mission because my “testimony” just wasn’t there. I rarely expressed my thoughts about the church because it felt so fake. I got married instead at the young age of 19. We had a civil marriage and got “sealed” in the SL temple exactly one year later, in June. Our first child was conceived that same month and born 9 months later. We had another one 18 months after that. Life seemed to just roll along. I just did what I was told. Finally, after 22 years of marriage, I found a reason to take a job in another city and so I could commute (and get out of the situation as much as I could). Little did I know that the end of my marriage came after only a year or so of commuting (BTW, we got pregnant again, unplanned, and #3 child was born just before I started the new job). After one year of commuting, I met someone and fell in love. She was non-mormon and didn’t really know much about the religion. We moved in together and I told my wife I wanted a divorce. She was very angry at first but then we finally ended the marriage.
Now for the problem:
My second wife and I have been married now for almost 8 years. We live in a different city than my kids (750 mi away) but we get to see them fairly often. My 10 yo girl spends time with us and loves her step mom. My ex (still single but has a BF) and I get along, no real problems at all. My older girls, now married and have small babies of their own, are warming up to us again. The problem is that my wife wants me to divorce my ex in the mormon church. She is adamant about it and says that our marriage will not be complete until I do this. We don’t practice the religion. Heck, I met with a SP 9 yrs ago when we were living together (and before my divorce was final) and told him everything. I don’t even know if I’m a member of the church anymore, and I really don’t care. I have two main concerns: 1. Opening this “can of worms” will cause a huge issue between my ex-wife and I where we have things working just fine right now. I don’t want to create problems that will be costly down the road due to our 10 yo. 2. My kids are STRONG believers of mormonism. If I do this, they will surely find out, and everything we have worked for will be ruined as far as my relationship with the older kids is concerned. If I lost my relationship with my older kids (and their kids), I would hold my wife accountable and would never be able to forgive her. I’m in a tough spot. Would love to hear from anyone who has been in this or a similar situation, or you just have thoughts about it. Also, I have no feelings for my ex wife. My wife sometimes thinks that I still have feelings for her. I don’t. We are friends to the extent that she is the mother of my children, and I want to just keep it that way. We only communicate when it comes to the 10yo. Thx.
My heart went out to this man and his second wife, so I left this response for them (remember this was circa 2012– things have changed since then):
I empathize with your current wife. My husband and his ex were sealed after they converted. Unlike you and your ex, my husband and his ex do not get along. His kids are very estranged and TBM and he hasn’t talked to them in 7 years. She has remarried, but as far as I know, the sealing she has with my husband is still intact (i.e.; we haven’t gotten anything from the church about a sealing cancellation, though my husband did resign a few years ago). For the first few years of our marriage, it did kind of bother me, because I figured the ex was still thinking she had a claim to him… She had told my husband that she had never wanted the divorce and didn’t want to be married to her third husband. I didn’t think he’d ever go back to her, but that sealing thing was just stuck in my craw.
But oddly enough, as the years went by and the ex did some truly mean and hateful things to destroy my husband’s relations with his kids, I started to care a lot less about it. The LDS church is a bunch of horseshit anyway. Besides, my husband has made it very plain to me that he doesn’t have any loving feelings for his ex-wife. That was visibly clear one morning when I accidentally happened to mention her name in the bedroom when we were about to have sex. He immediately lost his hard on. After that, I knew she was absolutely no threat and their “temple marriage/sealing” meant absolutely NOTHING to him. And that’s really all that matters to me. As long as he doesn’t have any thoughts of reconnecting with her, I’m cool. Of course, in the years since that bedroom incident, it’s been made even clearer to me that he would never get back with her. He hasn’t spoken to her in over five years.
Maybe your wife needs to spend some time among us here in exMormonland… It really is a meaningless thing if you don’t believe in the mumbo jumbo. It sounds to me like your wife just needs to know in no uncertain terms that the fact that you have kids with your ex wife doesn’t mean that you still have romantic feelings for her. I think it’s great that you two can be civil though. Believe me, I wish that was how it could have been with my husband and his ex. Total estrangement from his daughters has been very difficult for him.
Thx specifically for your reply. I’m sorry to hear about the relationship your husband has with his kids. That is very sad to me, and I hope things turn out for the both of you the way you want them to. I really appreciate your insight to this whole mess. It has helped a lot.
And my reply:
I’m sorry my husband has a bad relationship with his kids, too. But that has a lot less to do with Mormonism than it does with the fact that his ex wife is just unreasonable and crazy. She did the same thing to her first husband and the son they had together and will likely do it again when she and her third husband split. And I’m pretty certain they will split eventually, though she may prove me wrong.
I hope my husband’s daughters someday figure out what they’ve thrown away and come to their senses. But even if they don’t, I hope they find peace. My husband and I are very happy and though it’s been hard for him not to have contact with his daughters, he knows that they’re young women who have to find their own way.
I wish you luck with your situation. It sounds like you’re fortunate enough to have a reasonable ex wife and a good relationship with your kids. That’s a blessing. Your wife probably just needs to be educated about Mormonism. Once I learned about it, it really helped me get over the sealing lunacy.
Wile E. Coyote, I tell you… Ex has a special gift for fucking things up… especially for herself! And friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg, which is why I continue to occasionally “trash” my husband’s ex wife on my blog. She is certifiably nuts, and she has hurt a whole lot of people… and continues to do so. Happily, she can no longer hurt Bill or me. And now that younger daughter is older and has gotten out of the toxic fog, she’s well on her way to being “vaccinated” against Ex’s fuckery, too. It’s bad enough when your mom is nuts… but adding ridiculous religious bullshit to life, which is already complicated and tough enough, really makes things harder than they need to be. That’s very unfortunate, as #3 once said to Bill when he said he wouldn’t be spending Christmas with him and his ex wife in my father-in-law’s home but, instead, would be coming home to his wife. I may not be “sealed” to Bill, but I love him dearly and I’ve never abused him. Living with that “for time” has got to be better than being shackled to an abuser “for time and all eternity”.
I guess when we’re all dead, Ex might be wandering around listening for Bill to call out for “Leah”… and she might be waiting a long time for a man to pull her through the veil. 😉 Of course, since Bill turned his back on the “one true church”, maybe we’ll be in Outer Darkness. I suspect that will be a more interesting place than Mormon Heaven is, anyway…
I am reposting this book review today because it’s relevant to today’s fresh blog content. It was written June 2, 2016, and appears here as/is.
Several years ago, I read a great book by Dr. Karyl McBride called Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. McBride is a very experienced psychotherapist whose mother was a narcissist. Due to her own upbringing and the issues she faced growing up, McBride learned a lot about narcissism and has become an expert on the subject. In 2015, she published another great book, Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family. I just finished the book this morning and I think it’s an excellent tool for men and women who are in the midst of a high-conflict divorce from a narcissist.
As some regular readers of this blog may know, my husband was once married to a woman we believe is a narcissist. She definitely has a high-conflict personality and went out of her way to make things difficult when she and Bill were splitting up. I wish Dr. McBride’s book had been around win Bill and his ex wife were divorcing. Even though reading it might not have changed the outcome in their situation, it would have shed some light on some of the behaviors we observed in Bill’s former wife and the two kids they had together.
Dr. McBride does an outstanding job of explaining what narcissism is. Many people have the misconception that narcissism is about being extremely vain and selfish. It’s true that vanity and selfishness are aspects of narcissism, but narcissistic personality disorder goes way beyond simple self-centeredness. Narcissists lack empathy and crave adulation and attention. They overestimate and exaggerate their abilities while tearing down the people around them. They go to extreme lengths to meet their endless need for narcissistic supply and they hurt good people in the process.
If you are unfortunate enough to be married to a narcissist, you may find yourself losing inches of your life in support of the narcissist. Your hopes and dreams become completely lost as the narcissist’s hopes and dreams become the center of importance. Your health, financial stability, and self-esteem will suffer. If you have children with a narcissist, you may find yourself constantly fighting parental alienation tactics.
One thing I liked about McBride’s book is that she teaches readers some effective communication skills that can be used with children. She explains that children can’t process their emotions the way adults can. They may lash out and say things they don’t really mean. Many parents will retaliate by getting angry and dismissing or discounting their children’s feelings. Children of narcissists are especially at risk. What McBride advocates is using very basic therapeutic skills to communicate with children who are upset or angry.
Here’s an example. If a child is upset that you won’t let him or her sleep over at a friend’s house, he or she might say “I hate you!” Many parents might have a knee jerk reaction to that statement and say something like, “Yeah? Well, I hate you right back!” While that response might feel good and seem justified at the time, it’s not constructive. The situation will only get worse as the child feels like he or she isn’t being heard or respected. There will be mounting frustration and the situation will likely escalate.
Instead of saying, “I hate you right back!” you could say, “I’m sorry. It sounds like you’re very upset. Why don’t we talk about why you’re upset and what we can do to make things better?”
When the child explains why he or she is upset, you could paraphrase what he or she says, making it clear you’re listening. Then the two of you can come up with a solution. Or not… the point is, instead of yelling at the kid and reacting in anger or annoyance, you can express empathy and show respect. Then, the child might eventually learn to behave in the same manner.
All of this may seem unrealistic to some readers. It’s easy for a trained therapist to say that a parent should show empathy and respect. And I’m sure that McBride knows parents are humans who lose their tempers sometimes. The point is, she offers a new way to communicate. Children who have a narcissistic parent have it tougher than other kids do. They have a parent who doesn’t respect them and treats them like a possession rather than a person. Non-narcissistic parents can ease the situation by learning how to communicate respectfully.
I also liked that Dr. McBride reminded readers that they should never badmouth the child’s other parent, even if the child is complaining. Kids complain about their parents, but they don’t want to hear other people complain about them. Like it or not, the other parent most likely shares DNA with the child, so when you criticize the other parent for being a jerk, it can come across as a personal insult to the child. McBride advocates always taking the high road, at least until the child is mature enough to understand other perspectives. And even then, it’s probably best to keep the badmouthing to a minimum.
Now, I write all of this realizing that I badmouth Bill’s ex wife all the time. However, we have no contact with Bill’s kids. I am not their parent and they are both now grown women. Bill is their parent, and he hasn’t actually spent time in person with them since 2004. Sadly, they are both strangers now. But when he was able to see his kids, Bill didn’t trash talk his ex to them. (Edited to add: Bill now speaks to his younger daughter, and she does understand the different perspectives now.)
That brings me to my next point. As many readers may know, sometimes people who divorce someone with a high-conflict personality may end up losing contact with their children. I think this happens especially often with men who marry narcissistic women. I think McBride’s book would have been stronger had she addressed this phenomenon. Also, she doesn’t really explain as much about how to deal with narcissists themselves. Her book was more about protecting children. Unfortunately, if you have joint custody with a narcissist, it may be difficult to employ some of McBride’s strategies. If your narcissistic ex has sole custody, as Bill’s ex did, you probably might as well forget it (and for the record, I think Bill was unwise to allow his ex to have sole custody, but he was naive and trusted her).
I think Karyl McBride’s book is a worthy read for people who are divorcing someone who has a high conflict personality. I’d probably give it 4 stars on a scale of 5.
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A few days ago, I wrote a post called “Waiting for ‘contact'”. It was inspired by watching Statcounter and noticing that people sometimes hit the same post over and over again, then go to my contact page. Sometimes, they go there repeatedly, as if expecting to find something new, when all there is on that page is a form to fill out if you want to send me a private message. There’s no “about me” post there, or anything, and the comments on that page don’t automatically get published. Or, at least they haven’t been yet. 😉
Sometimes, people will read posts repeatedly, but come in through the back door. That is, they access my blog via a seemingly unrelated post, then go to another post. I notice that seems to be happening regarding a post I recently wrote about Debra Hunter, the Florida mom who was sentenced to a month in jail for purposefully “coughing” on a woman who was filming her meltdown at a Pier 1 store. That was one of the posts that I decided not to publicize on my Overeducated Housewife Facebook page (which, once again, I am considering deleting).
That’s right… sometimes I deliberately don’t share posts on social media. I would say probably 98% of fresh content and a lot of reposts do get shared on my personal page and the OH page, but every once in awhile, I will write a post and not put it out there. I do that, because I don’t relish getting into fights with people over what may be unpopular opinions. I realize that’s kind of cowardly of me, but there are only so many hours in a day and I have only so much energy. I try hard to explain how I come to my unpopular opinions, but I’ve found that many people don’t care about the hows or whys of how I come to my viewpoints. Instead, they simply want to argue or “correct” other people’s opinions. And since this is my blog, and we’re paying a good sum for the business plan so I can have certain plug in tools (and not because I’m selling anything), I figure I have the right to run it as I see fit.
But I do pay close attention… and I have noticed this person in Florida who seems to be coming in through the back door. He or she is repeatedly hitting a post entitled “A Man’s Got to Put in Overtime to Get Me Off“, which is mostly about Jenna Ryan, the real estate broker in Texas who was whining about the potential for her to go to jail for storming the Capitol, but also references a line and notoriously funny scene in Eddie Murphy’s film, Coming to America. Then I notice that the person searches internally for Debra Hunter, and is probably visiting a post I wrote about a woman who was made viral for melting down at Pier 1. The Hunter post was never shared on my social media and, so far, has remained quiet. But this person comes back and searches… perhaps looking for more dirt or controversy or whatever. So today, after a couple of weeks of this treatment, I’ve decided to add something new to their search about Debra Hunter on my blog.
So… what do Jenna Ryan and Debra Hunter have in common, besides going viral on the Internet and having a lot of perfect strangers wishing for their lives to be destroyed by infamy? To my mind, I don’t think the situations are that comparable. Jenna Ryan, you see, actively boasted about flying in a private jet to Washington, DC, where she would be meeting up with thousands of other people with the explicit intent to interfere in the congressional proceedings certifying Joe Biden as our 46th president. This wasn’t a matter of people who were peacefully protesting, either. Several people died, and many more were injured. There was also quite a lot of property damage, particularly to the Capitol building itself, as well as psychological damage done to the rest of the country.
Jenna Ryan was in the thick of it all, lustily cheering on the destruction and actively participating in it. When she was later held legally accountable for her actions, she complained that it “wasn’t fair” that she’s facing a jail sentence and fines, since she was only “following her president”. She outwardly stated that she hoped Trump would grant her, and her calamitous buddies, pardons for their outrageous behavior. Quite predictably, their orange “zero hero” did not come through with any pardons, so they’re all going to have to face the legal music. Jenna Ryan complained about that, too, whining pitifully about how she was “duped”. How is it that such a “gorgeous” and “successful” real estate broker (in her mind) wasn’t smart enough to see what so many of us could see so plainly from day ONE of Trump’s time in the White House (and really, prior to then, too)?
Ryan has steadfastly refused to take responsibility for her willfully and wantonly dangerous actions. I haven’t checked on her lately, but for several weeks, she was quite gamely sparring with all comers on the Internet, releasing videos, talking to the press, and just basically being a shameless asshole.
Debra Hunter, by contrast, fell into Internet infamy due to an incident in June 2020. A total stranger caught her on camera, having gone off on a Pier 1 clerk. The stranger, a woman named Heather Sprague, claims to be medically fragile and she was mightily upset by hearing Hunter’s harsh words at Pier 1. She claims, but to my knowledge, never proved, that Hunter had been ranting for fifteen minutes or more as she ignored her child doing a “potty dance”. Then, when Hunter noticed Sprague filming her, she quite understandably got pissed, flipped her off with both hands, and “coughed” on her. That caused a problem for Sprague, who says she’s been treated for a brain tumor and has health problems, and is also the mother of ten children, some of whom are also fragile.
Now… I don’t condone what Debra Hunter did. I don’t think yelling at clerks is good behavior. I also don’t think coughing on someone deliberately is appropriate, even when there isn’t a COVID-19 pandemic happening. I do think she should be punished for her actions. However, unlike Jenna Ryan, I have not seen Debra Hunter promoting herself for weeks on the Internet or in the news. In fact, even though this incident went viral almost a year ago, I had not heard of it until Hunter was sentenced. And when I did read about it, I saw many horrifying comments by total strangers condemning Ms. Hunter’s character and wishing death and ruin on her. I thought it was extreme.
And then, when I watched the video of Hunter’s court proceeding, I heard Ms. Hunter express remorse and saw her tears. I heard the anguish in her voice as she described what her life has been like since Ms. Sprague decided to put her on blast over an incident that, frankly, wasn’t her business. There were also circumstances in Hunter’s case that I felt mitigated the situation somewhat. She was under a good deal of stress due to a house fire, as well as slow progress in building a home for her family. While yelling at a clerk is not good behavior, customer service is part of the clerk’s job, and dealing with irate and dissatisfied people, unfortunately, comes with the territory.
The judge in Ms. Hunter’s case said that she hadn’t shown any regard for her “victim”, Heather Sprague. But I did hear Debra Hunter apologize to Ms. Sprague and acknowledge that she had faced troubles in the wake of their unfortunate meeting. I saw Ms. Hunter cry, and it appeared her tears were real. In fact, the judge even told Hunter to calm down on more than one occasion. And although the judge didn’t recognize Ms. Hunter’s contrition, to me it was pretty apparent and honest. She also outright stated that she was ready to accept whatever punishment Judge James A. Ruth handed down. That makes her VERY DIFFERENT from Jenna Ryan, who seems to think she shouldn’t at all be held accountable for her actions at the Capitol on January 6th.
Many people in the comment sections were labeling Debra Hunter as a narcissist. They based that label on a story about how she’d behaved on that one day at Pier 1, when she was being videoed during a stressful moment. Jenna Ryan, on the other hand, has actively engaged in promoting her story, has told egregious lies (mainly about her level of financial and romantic success), and has brazenly claimed that she’s owed special treatment for her illegal actions.
To me, Ryan’s behavior is highly narcissistic. Hunter’s behavior, while rude and potentially dangerous (but ultimately not physically harmful), is not necessarily narcissistic. Hunter was once caught on video melting down, as many of us do from time to time. Ryan, on the other hand, was gleefully and willingly showing herself committing crimes and fully expecting to get away with her illegal actions. She has engaged the press with much gusto, and was all over Twitter insisting that she did nothing wrong.
I took the time to watch most of Debra Hunter’s court proceeding, which is posted on YouTube. I doubt most of the people condemning her and wishing death and destruction on her family did much more than read and react to headlines. And I felt badly for her, because what happened wasn’t just affecting her personally. It was affecting a whole lot of other people who were completely innocent– everyone from her children, who weren’t being allowed to play with their friends, to people in Florida who happen to share a name similar to Debra Hunter’s and getting death threats! By contrast… Jenna Ryan has eagerly reached for the spotlight, like true narcissists are wont to do, so I doubt many innocent people are being mistaken for her in her community. A lot of us know who she is by now, and would recognize her in a parking lot or a store… especially since she probably doesn’t wear face masks.
It’s true, I’m not a big fan of jailing people, particularly for minor crimes in which no one has been seriously injured or sickened, or there’s been little property damage. Debra Hunter wasn’t infected with COVID-19, so her meltdown last year didn’t make anyone sick… except for the fact that deliberately coughing on people, especially when there’s frank spittle involved, is really gross. I think it’s right that she pay a fine and reimburse Ms. Sprague for her rapid COVID-19 test. I think it’s right that she seek help from a therapist and perhaps do community service and serve probation. Jail is overkill, in my view.
Now… Jenna Ryan probably would benefit from a stint in jail. I think she deserves it, if only because she’s been so delusional and offensive. But I don’t necessarily think this incident should ruin her life… nor would I be angry if she didn’t go to jail. We have way too many people locked up in the United States, and a lot of people are getting rich off of other people’s misery. I think it’s time we came up with something more productive, less expensive, and better for society.
But that’s all probably a pipe dream… so I’m going to close now, and go have breakfast. And I hope this post is a satisfying one for those who come in through the back door of my blog.
I have just finished reading Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, And It’s Time to Get Real About It, a book for male victims of abuse written by Ann Silvers, MA, a counselor who practices in Washington State. Silvers is herself a former abuse victim, but she is also formally educated in counseling and has a speciality in helping both men and women survive and escape abusive relationships. She’s been practicing for over 30 years.
This first edition book was released in September 2018 and appears to be a product of self-publishing, as it was published by an outfit called Silvers Publishing. In spite of the fact that it’s apparently self-published, Abuse OF Men BY Women is an excellent book. It’s surprisingly comprehensive, well-organized, and readable.
Why did I read this book for male abuse victims if I’m a woman?
There are a couple of reasons. First off, I have master’s degrees in both social work and public health, and if I weren’t “The Overeducated Housewife”, this might be considered professional reading for me. As it stands today, I just find it interesting subject matter. Secondly, my husband’s first wife abused him. Bill and I have been married for 18 years, and I’m still learning about everything that happened during their marriage, which lasted almost ten years. Although he’s come a long way since we first met, the healing process has been long… and a lot of people have little empathy or regard for men who have survived abuse.
Since I have both an educational and real life background in the subject matter Ms. Silvers covers in her book, I thought it would be interesting to read her thoughts on male abuse victims. More people need to realize that women are not the only ones who get abused in relationships. Unfortunately, it’s much harder for men to get help when they are in toxic relationships with women. A lot of people don’t take them or the issue seriously, or they assume the man is lying. I have seen firsthand the psychological and physical scars my husband bears after his first marriage. I take this issue seriously, and I want others to know more about it.
This book’s strengths
One of the things I noticed about this book that may be a plus for some readers is that the concepts are broken down into easy to digest pieces. Silvers has an easy to read writing style that takes little effort to navigate. I think that is especially important in books such as this one, since the people reading it are likely to be in trouble and upset. The book is very comprehensive and realistically covers a broad array of topics that male abuse victims may face. For instance, Silvers confronts the reality that not a lot of shelters will accept male clients, even if they need somewhere to go after they escape. She even admits that if a man calls the police for help, it could backfire, and he could wind up the one in trouble with the law. But she also reminds readers that if they don’t ever ask for help, there is a 0% chance that they’ll get it.
I liked that Silvers covered the many ways men can be abused. A lot of people wrongly assume that men, who are often bigger and stronger than women are, can always fight back when a woman gets physical. That’s not always true. Aside from that, some women use weapons… and there are also times when the woman uses other means of getting her way. She may, for example, use her femininity to get sympathy from others. She may alienate children or family members, or engage in financial or legal abuse. As I read Silvers’ descriptions of the scenarios that can arise in female to male abuse situations, I found myself nodding my head. Almost all of them have happened to Bill.
Silvers explains that men may have to accept that some people won’t believe that he’s a victim, but they may end up pleasantly surprised that the public attitude is changing. Bill’s ex wife turned the children against him and even tried to convince his parents that he’s an abusive, woman hating pervert. However, Bill’s younger daughter, who was estranged for years, eventually recognized that her mother abused him. And her parents were not swayed by the Ex’s lies, either. His stepmother took a little more time to be convinced.
This book’s weaknesses
Overall, I don’t think Abuse OF Men BY Women has that many weaknesses. It’s a well-written and useful book. It’s practical, engaging, and easy to read. I guess if I had to offer a complaint, it might be that, to me, the book has a somewhat academic feel, not so much in the writing style, but in the way it’s laid out. There aren’t any graphics or charts, per se. The chapters are arranged as if they were done for a university thesis, rather than a book to be read by laypeople. The lone one star review on Amazon mentioned that the reader had been expecting journalism, rather than a self-help book. I knew this was a self-help book, so I don’t have that complaint.
I think Abuse OF Men BY Women is a useful tool for men who are in abusive relationships. I don’t know how many men in this situation would take the time to read a book like this one. I think it’s more likely their caring female companions, who get involved during or after the abuse, probably will. For instance, I noticed that some reviewers on Amazon were not men in abusive relationships; they were women who were involved in some way with men who had been abused (family members or new significant others). I have learned a lot about this issue myself, having been married to Bill. This kind of extra reading makes it easy for me to talk to him, even though ideally, he should talk to someone who is licensed to counsel him and isn’t directly involved, as I am. But this kind of book does make the problem easier to understand for me, and I suspect it would have been helpful for Bill when he was still in an abusive relationship.
Silvers writes like someone who understands the problem very well and has done her best to cover every angle. I like that she does so in a way that isn’t derogatory, either. Other books I’ve read on this subject have a tone that is unflattering toward women. I remember one book I read years ago was published in Ireland, and the title (which was later changed) was, That Bitch: Protect Yourself Against Women With Malicious Intent. While most abusive women are, in fact, legitimate bitches much of the time, I don’t think that title was appropriate. It’s hard to take a book seriously when the very title is a misogynistic insult. I suspect the publishers determined that the good information in that book was not being read, since the title was so antagonistic and, in and of itself, somewhat abusive. On the other hand, I remember reading another book, over 20 years ago, that was entitled Let’s Face It: Men are @$$#%\¢$: What Women Can Do About It. I remember not being very impressed with that book, although I’m sure the title attracted plenty of attention and helped make sales.
Anyway… Ann Silvers is much more professional in her approach, and that’s what makes her book more useful, in my view. Abuse OF Men BY Women is not just a book about offering sympathy and bashing males or females. Silvers offers practical and realistic advice, and even warns that sometimes doing the right thing can lead to unpleasant consequences. For men, sorry to say, calling for help can be legitimately risky. On the other hand, if more abused men would stand up to be counted, they would more likely be taken more seriously and have more access to the help they need. We’ve got to break the stigma against male domestic violence abuse victims. I think this book helps do that, so I highly recommend it.
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