Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology, relationships

“To have good friends, you must BE a good friend…”

When I was a junior at Longwood College (now Longwood University), I had a really nice roommate named Angie. I went through many roommates when I was in college– I think seven, in all. Angie and I got along the best; she was a very considerate person. I remember telling her I was really glad we were such good friends. And I remember that Angie said, “To have good friends, you must BE a good friend.” I was honored that she ever thought of me in that way, although I think that a lot of bad people wind up with good people in their lives.

I wish I could report that Angie and I are still in touch, but she sort of dropped off the face of the earth at some point around 2007. I don’t think she ever bothered with social media, which makes her smarter than a lot of people, including yours truly. I sometimes think about her and wonder how she is. I hope she’s doing well. I’m thinking of Angie this morning as I ponder something I saw on Ex’s Twitter feed this morning.

Although I think that in a perfect world, Angie’s quote would work well, I know for a fact that a lot of good people are super attractive to narcissists. Because many good people are more empathic than other people are, a lot of really selfish, mean-spirited, exploitative people do end up with good people in their spheres. Since empathic people are so concerned about the welfare of others, they wind up trapped in toxic relationships with narcissists. Even when a good person recognizes that they are being victimized by someone with nefarious intentions, they often still get trapped in situations in which no one can win.

Narcissists are experts at DARVO– that is Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. When they get called out for doing something shitty, they frequently gaslight their victims. Most narcissists, especially ones as old as Ex is, are very practiced at turning around an accusation so that the person being wronged and having the courage to speak up, ends up being the one who is demonized.

A couple of days ago, I posted about how narcissists will take revenge on those who hold them accountable. I wrote about how I think that the Sussexes may try to get even with the British Royal Family by becoming estranged and withholding access to the young Sussex children. That may or may not happen– as the British Royal Family is pretty powerful. However, I have also seen this dynamic happen in less famous and powerful families. One parent in a narcissistic family system feels entitled to weaponize the children and keep them from the other parent, or the opposing parent’s extended family. This is a means of temporarily maintaining control.

Of course, that happened to Bill, and when he tried to confront Ex about it, she accused him of being a terrible person who horribly abused her and their children. The reality is, he simply couldn’t take Ex’s abuse anymore. He didn’t want to live in poverty, do low-paid, second and third shift assembly line work in factories, and have his life completely controlled by a woman whose personality seemed to change by the hour. He didn’t want to deal with a woman who treated him like a sexual predator, when he couldn’t be further from being an abuser. In fact, the opposite was true. Most of all, he didn’t want to be married to someone who didn’t love and accept him for who he is. Ex wanted someone else, and she was constantly trying to get Bill to change who he was to suit her whims. Even when he did something different, Ex wasn’t satisfied. She would accuse him of trying to be cool, or something like that. Above all, her shit never stinks. It’s always someone else’s fault when something isn’t right.

My old friend, Ken Turetzky, has a great song about the “her shit don’t stink” phenomenon.

So, as you can see, Ex isn’t a good friend. And, it appears that she doesn’t have any good friends, either. This was what she lamented about on Twitter today.

It IS sad… and she’s right that she doesn’t trust people. But aside from that, in order to have good friends, you have to BE a good friend.

To be a good friend, you have to have good intentions. You can’t look at people and determine their worth only in terms of what they can do for you, or how they might influence other people. A quality friendship is based on mutual respect and admiration, honesty, and genuine regard and concern. There must be give and take, fairness, and consideration for the other person. I know for a fact, Ex isn’t a good friend. She doesn’t have consideration for other people. She is good enough at FAKING concern, but only toward people who don’t know her. Those who do get into her “inner circle” are eventually abused. And when they’ve had enough abuse and try to back away from the relationship, she accuses THEM of being abusive.

Unfortunately, if a person has been trapped in an abusive system like that long enough, their thinking can get distorted and they can experience “trauma bonding”. That is, the victim can attach to their abuser, not because the abuser is good to them, but because they are chasing the “high” of the good times, and they think they either “deserve” the abuse, or they can’t live without the abuser. Narcissistic abusers can be very charismatic and charming, and they can be convincing as they make the case that they’re victims. They are also very good at being threatening and foreboding. A narcissist won’t hesitate to tell a victim that if they leave the relationship, they’ll be left with nothing.

When I first met Bill, he made many alarming statements about his relationship with Ex. She had him believing that he was dangerous, and that he’d profoundly harmed her. He believed that the divorce was his fault, and he was sure that I would see the situation in the same way Ex presented it. But the more I got to know him, the more I realized that he is not an abuser at all. He’s an empath, and a very good friend to those who will allow him to be a friend. Although we do have occasional spats, they’re usually caused because he doesn’t want to be assertive and explicitly define his needs, not because he’s a mean, abusive person. And now that Bill talks to his daughter, we can see that he never was the whole problem. Ex treats her children– who are in her inner circle, at least for a time– just as badly as she treats her husbands. And I’m sure that if she ever has had a friend who got close, that friend was treated similarly badly. Ex keeps her relationships superficial for good reason. Because beneath the surface, it’s really ugly.

Hell, I have even experienced trauma bonding myself. A few years ago, I actually was against moving out of the house we rented from a very high-conflict landlady, because I worried that the next landlord could be even worse than she was. At least I knew what to expect from her, right? Of course, now I know that my thinking was skewed by four years of psychofuckery, and dealing with this very intrusive, manipulative, and controlling person whose dealings with us were dishonest and exploitative. Our current landlord is nowhere near as disrespectful and unfair as she was. Yes, we pay much more rent, but it’s totally worth it, because it’s a much nicer house, and we get to maintain our dignity and privacy. But I still marvel at how I had initially balked at moving because I was scared. That’s a form of trauma bonding.

The same “trauma bonding” dynamic happens in abusive friendships, marriages, employment, and romantic relationships. Narcissistic abusers can’t risk letting anyone get close, because then they will see the mess that lurks under the facade. It would be one thing if Ex was open to allowing someone to help her clean up the mess, but she can’t do that. She doesn’t trust anyone, and is fixated on a false reality that she’s created, because reality, to her, is simply too painful to acknowledge.

Likewise, now, when I look back on the four year period in which we rented a home from a high-conflict landlady, I realize that just like Ex, our former landlady was very focused on the external. Every project she undertook was about curb appeal and surface image. She never did anything, at least while we were living there, that would improve the actual experience of living in that house. We weren’t important, because we were already in the “inner circle”, and ripe for abuse. She wanted to attract new victims for when we were discarded. So all upgrading projects that were done while we were living in that house were done for cosmetic appeal or the landlady’s convenience. Moreover, it didn’t matter to her if we were inconvenienced as she completed these projects. I did read that after we left, and before she got new tenants, she updated a few things in the house– probably using the money that she illegally tried to rip off from us. But I’m sure those upgrades were minimal and mostly cosmetic. I doubt, for instance, that she bothered to put in a modern toilet that didn’t backup all the time. Instead, she got a new dishwasher. Dishwashers are great, but toilets are essential, and I think that having a toilet that doesn’t take two or three flushes to clear would be better than having a spiffy new dishwasher.

So anyway, I don’t think that Ex is a good friend, even on a casual basis. She isn’t capable of being a good friend, because she is much too fixated on herself. She’s not a good partner or a good parent, either, for the same reason. She was never able to psychologically mature beyond early adolescence. It’s really sad, actually. I would almost feel sorry for her, except that I know she has hurt people I love. Aside from that, I actually think that it’s rare to have a lot of extremely true friends who are very loyal. Those types of relationships are very special, and they have to be nurtured. That’s why I tend to hang out with dogs. 😉

Noyzi is a pretty good friend.
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family, healthcare, music, musings, religion

Redemption…

This morning, my guitar lesson on Fender Play consisted of learning “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. For some reason, I had the hardest time getting the opening riff right. I could do it if I focused on it and played slowly, but it took a couple of times. I also found it easier on my acoustic guitar over the Acoustasonic, which was a lot more expensive, but somewhat harder for me to play decently.

Once I got past the opening riff, which isn’t that complicated, but requires concentration and focus until muscle memory kicks in, the rest of it wasn’t too hard. The chords are pretty easy, although there is one spot that requires muting, which is still kind of tricky for me. But, I bet when I venture downstairs, Bill will congratulate me, because I think he could easily guess what I was playing. I always consider it a win when he recognizes the more recognizable songs.

A nice cover of this classic… I love the Playing for Change series.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about redemption. I’ve even written about it a few times. I tend to be in favor of redemption for most people, although there are a few exceptions. For instance, I tend to be less redemptive toward people who have hurt me or someone I love. I wish I could be more high-minded about some of these things… but, alas, when you prick me, I bleed.

The weird thing is, I think I am more forgiving toward criminals than I am people who are just assholes I know personally. Like… I would probably have more compassion for someone on death row than my husband’s former wife. That seems kind of backwards, until you get to know the type of person my husband is, the type of person I am, and the egregiously bad things that have happened to him and his family since he invited Ex into his life. And yet, Ex is still walking around, free as a bird, and only too happy to exploit those who are closest to her.

I often have a lot of forbearance toward the mentally ill. I’m pretty certain that Ex is mentally ill. I know she’s been hospitalized a couple of times for her issues, and I know that she’s had medical/physical issues that have caused her to be hospitalized, although I suspect some of those were purposely done for attention. I know she had a terrible childhood, and was abused horrifically by people she should have been able to trust. The people who should have loved her, treated her so badly that she passes along that bad stuff to others, who might love her more if she weren’t such a toxic person.

Why is it that I have some empathy for people that make the news because they went “viral”, but not for Ex, or other people who have crossed me personally? Maybe it’s because I have my own abuse issues. Mine are not as bad as Ex’s by a long shot. My parents conceived me and stayed married, and I was exposed to a loving family– albeit an extremely religious and quite politically conservative one. I don’t know many of my mom’s relatives, because she had such a small family and her parents died when I was very young. But my dad came from a large, loving, very southern family. They were close-knit, even though they were also pretty dysfunctional.

This week, I found out that the wife of one of my cousins suffered a very severe setback after having a hysterectomy. She experienced vomiting, severe headaches, and other troubling symptoms that led my cousin to take her to the emergency department of their nearest hospital. It was there that my cousin’s wife’s two brain tumors were discovered.

Making the situation worse is the fact that this cousin’s mother (my aunt) died of a primary brain tumor, back in 1995. His father and older sister also died of cancer. And now, it appears that his wife has a primary cancer somewhere that has caused metastasis to her brain. There was a lot of swelling around the tumors, which the doctor estimated had existed for a few months. And since there were two of them, the doctor says that they are the result of metastatic activity. Usually, with a primary tumor that originates in the brain, there’s just one. Metastatic brain tumors are a lot more common than primary tumors are.

A couple of days ago, my cousin’s wife had surgery to remove one of the tumors. She came through the surgery fine, and pathology will determine how to treat the other tumor. Everyone was delighted to hear that she was able to Facetime with family after the procedure was done. Still, the tumors’ existence was a devastating shock to everyone.

I found out about this situation because my aunt sent out an email to the entire family, asking for prayers. I am not a very religious person, but I don’t mind sparing positive vibes and good thoughts to my friends and family. I did send my cousin a note of support. He’s a nice man, even though we are very different in terms of religion and politics. I appreciate that he’s willing to accept me for who I am, rather than trying to bend me to his way of thinking, like some of my other cousins have done.

Before she went into the hospital, members of their immediate family– my cousin, his daughters, baby granddaughter, and their significant others, gathered around in t-shirts they had made. They held up signs of support for my cousin’s wife, who was smiling in her wheelchair. She’s still a very beautiful woman, and although I’m not close to her, I have always liked her. I admire how close she is with her daughters. She and my cousin just celebrated 37 years of marriage.

It occurred to me that if I had a brain tumor, it’s likely Bill would be taking care of me alone. Even if I were in the United States, I’m not very close to my immediate family. My sisters are much older and spread out around the country. We have never been the type to wear matching t-shirts or study the Bible together. In fact, I rarely talk to my sisters beyond birthday greetings and the odd private message from one of them.

I’m not sure I’d want my family wearing matching t-shirts if I had to go into the hospital… I doubt I’d want pictures, either, although maybe loved ones would. I don’t know how many loved ones I really have, though. Like I said, I’m not that close to my family anymore. Physically, I’m distant, and emotionally, I am, too.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to be one of those people who hangs around for a long time. I could be wrong… in fact, I kind of hope I am. But I doubt there will ever be a need for people to rally prayers for me. Even if they did, it would seem uncomfortable and strange to me. Some people might say that because of my lack of a need for “redemption”, I might not be heading north when the time comes for me to depart this life. In fact, I have a feeling some of my family members might even think that about me. I don’t feel like I belong with them anymore.

I look at Ex and see all of the damage she’s wrought, not just to herself and her immediate family, but also to so many other people. I see her spreading lies and promoting a facade, and I don’t feel like she’s worthy of redemption. I’d sooner wish for a convict to be redeemed than my husband’s former wife. That’s probably because she seems to get away with a lot.

I think it may also be because I watch a lot of Snapped, and Ex reminds me of so many of the women that are on that show. To my knowledge she hasn’t killed anyone yet, but Bill told me, more than once, that she had said she should kill him… usually when she thought he was sleeping. And now, I see her using people, just like she always does, for her own personal gain, and not being held accountable for it at all. Every time I try not to care about her, I get dragged back into the mire by something else she does.

Ex is probably the kind of person who would make matching t-shirts for her family and hold up signs, in a show of solidarity… but that’s all it would be. A big show. I don’t think my relatives are putting on a show. I know they love and care for each other deeply, and I admire that… although I don’t feel all that comfortable with it myself. They’re really into church. I am really NOT into church, except the less intense, more secular/social version of it. Ex used to be into Mormonism, but apparently only goes now when she needs something.

I often look at some of my family members and wonder how we ended up related. I seem to have taken after my mom’s side of the family, except for my tendency to be outspoken, funny, and musical. My dad’s family is a lot of fun… but they pray a lot. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve never really felt that kind of spirit myself. I feel a different kind of spirit, I guess.

I know I’m a hypocrite, because I don’t think I’ll ever see Ex as worthy of redemption. I know I should. Bill’s daughter, who has really suffered due to Ex, has outwardly said she tries to be forgiving and understanding. That’s her mom, of course, but she has suffered more because of Ex than I ever will or could. Even Bill has basic forgiveness for Ex… but when it comes to her, my heart stays pretty hard. I am sorry she was abused, and I have basic empathy for the bad things that put her at a disadvantage when she was young. But she never seems to learn from her mistakes and do any serious work toward being a better person. She was hospitalized for mental health issues, yet she still exploits anyone close to her, and she still makes terrible decisions that she puts huge pressure on other people to have to live with. Her decisions often lead to disasters, yet people still do what she says and allow her to enslave them. I don’t understand it at all, and it’s distressing to watch from the sidelines.

Anyway… I’m glad I learned “Redemption Song” today. I still need to practice it a lot, but once I get it down, it’ll be a good chestnut. I could probably have it pretty well wired in a few days if I work at it. I’m glad for that, but learning that song also gave me food for thought before I wrote today’s fresh post. Before my lesson, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what to write about and was considering taking a one day sabbatical.

In unrelated news… our robotic lawnmower isn’t working properly. Bill spent a couple of hours re-laying the boundary wire in our back yard, because the robot keeps giving us fault loop errors. Now, I’m wondering if the power supply is malfunctioning. I kind of wish I’d just bought a regular mower a couple of years ago, but I have to admit I like the robot and I hate mowing. Hopefully, we can figure it out soon, so I won’t have to keep using the weed whacker to cut the grass.

Today’s featured photo is one of some horses that escaped their pasture and ran through a village… Bill and I looked at renting a house near where they were. It doesn’t have much to do with the post. I just think it’s a cool photo and I don’t feel like finding something more appropriate.

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