Ex, musings

On not being “nice”…

This morning, I was reading a post that I put on my original blog back in 2017. It was basically a top ten list of things that annoy me. I wrote it at a time when I was experiencing a lot of personal angst, which I explained after my vent. At the time, we were contemplating a move to Italy. Bill was asked to take a government job in Vicenza, but taking the position would mean significant inconvenience and a large pay cut. However, we both love Italy and it was an excellent career opportunity for Bill. Also, it would mean he’d have the chance to be a leader again and assume real responsibility. I think not having the ability to make decisions is a challenge for Bill, although it seems like that’s less of a problem now than it was a few years ago.

I was upset about the potential disruption, and feeling totally out of control of my life, so little things were irritating me more than usual. I vented about them in a way that probably made me look like a foul-mouthed, irrational nutcase. That’s my way of blowing off steam, and I do it often. If I had a therapist or a bunch of local friends, I might have vented to them. I don’t have those things, so I vented in my blog. Maybe that post and others like it aren’t “nice”, but writing them keep me sane and probably make some people laugh.

Anyway, as I was reading my top ten list, it occurred to me that some people read my stuff and probably think I’m a massive bitch. And, you know what? They might even be right. I’m not always “nice”. I admit it.

My husband, Bill, on the other hand, is almost always “nice”. He’s a very even-tempered, kind-hearted guy who very rarely gets upset. He almost never raises his voice and I could probably count on both hands the number of times he’s been visibly annoyed with me in the course of almost 17 years of marriage. Bill is naturally a very pleasant person, but he also places a high value on being liked. Unfortunately, always wanting to be liked isn’t always a good thing.

Last year, I got a pissy comment from one reader who tried to advise me on what and how I should be writing. She complained that I wrote “inappropriate” and TMI things, and that I came off as bitter and petty. She’s probably right, although she doesn’t know me from Adam and hadn’t taken the time to understand the context of why I write what I do.

I suspect she felt attacked because of some comments I made about my husband’s ex wife. She is herself a first wife, and I think she assumed I’m “crazy”, because she feels mistreated by her ex husband and his wife. I have a feeling she was projecting her situation onto ours, and assuming that I’m just a mean, nasty person without considering that our situations and the people involved are completely different. I’m sure a lot of people have read my comments about my husband’s ex wife and think I’m the whole problem. I can understand that, even though those people are wrong.

Sometimes nice people aren’t so nice. I’d rather people be kind, instead.

I’m not always “nice”, but I don’t go out of my way to screw people over, nor do I typically lie about major things. I may express unpleasant or unpopular opinions, but that’s pretty much all I do. My husband’s ex wife, on the other hand, has actively tried to ruin his family relationships, not just with his children, but also with his parents. She also tried to ruin him financially. Of course I’m pissed about that, although she was unsuccessful. I’m much less angry with the ex now, by the way. Now that one of Bill’s daughters is finally talking to him again, I find that I care a whole lot less about the ex.

One of the reasons Bill and I get along so well is because we balance each other out. I’m not always “nice”, but I usually try to be kind. People who get to know me soon find out that I have a big heart and empathy for other people. However, I have a low tolerance for annoyance and bullshit, and I tend to deal with it by expressing myself in writing. For a long time, that was okay, as very few people paid attention to the things I wrote. Now that I’ve become somewhat better known, people read stuff and jump to erroneous conclusions about my character. I totally understand that. I think we all do that to some extent. Everybody judges, since exercising judgment is one way to stay out of trouble. On the other hand, sometimes being judgmental leads to problems, particularly when that judgment is coupled with a lack of empathy.

I recently shut down public access to a couple of my older blogs. One of the blogs I cut off free access to is the travel blog, which I know has been useful and entertaining for a lot of people. Many of my regular readers are folks in the government or military community who are either already in Europe or are considering moving here. However, I also have a whole lot of readers from Cruise Critic, because I wrote a couple of very well-received blog series about Hebridean Island Cruises, a niche luxury cruise line that is not often sailed by Americans. Bill and I will soon be taking our fifth cruise with them, so people seek my blogs to read about our experiences in Scotland on a very unusual luxury vessel. If I had left access to the travel blog open, some people would want to read about our experience buying our new car directly from the Volvo factory in Sweden.

Unfortunately, I’ve been experiencing harassment from people who are interested in causing trouble for me. I won’t go into the reasons why they are harassing me. I suspect they feel completely justified, because they don’t think I’m a “nice” person and, because of that, they don’t think I’m entitled to privacy or freedom of expression, nor should I feel free to assert my basic rights.

I also think some people have the erroneous idea that I write to be popular. That’s not true at all. I’ve been a writer my whole life and I mainly do it to stay sane. Bill says writing is my “vocation”. I suppose he’s right, although I think music is even more my vocation than writing is. I am not writing for money or fame, but because it’s simply what I do.

Some people think I’m a no talent hack… or that I’m spewing nothing but nonsense or hatred or whatever. They are usually folks who read a few posts and jump to a conclusion. I know for a fact that I have plenty of regular readers who have gotten to know me beyond a couple of irate, profane, venting posts. Some people are also folks who know me offline and have actually taken the time and made the effort to get to know me personally, rather than just judging me. I write mostly for myself, but I also write for those people. They get it.

A couple of days ago, I proposed deleting my Facebook page for this blog. I have a few reasons for making that proposal. I don’t actually use the page that much for anything more than posting links to blog posts. A lot of the people who officially follow the page are my friends anyway, so they can see the links on my personal page. I was getting “likes” from creepy spammer profiles and was having a hard time finding out how to ban them from my page (I did discover how yesterday). But the main issue is that the page is wide open and allows people to monitor me without making their presence known. As I mentioned before, I know there are people who want to cause trouble for me, so I don’t want to make it any easier for them.

I was gratified to see comments from people who like what I do. It’s good to know that some people enjoy my writing and aren’t “out to get me”. I appreciate those who care enough to comment and want to read my stuff, even if it means “joining the club”. I hope that will be a temporary thing, since I’m now considering moving the travel blog, just as I did my original blog. It’s time for a more professional and secure platform than Blogger, anyway.

Although some people don’t think writing is a good use of my time and think these blogs are stupid, they do give me something to do. I know I could probably find something more “socially acceptable” to do with my time, but the fact is, I LIKE writing, and I’m good at it. I know I have written a lot of good stuff, even if I’ve also vented a few times and used language that would make a sailor blush. Nobody’s perfect. Aside from that, how I spend my time is my business. It’s my life.

I try to maintain perspective as much as possible, but I’ve found that being too “nice” and eager to please other people doesn’t always lead to fair treatment or equity. The fact is, a lot of people take advantage of “nice” people, especially when there’s money at stake. My husband is extremely nice, so I’m less so. It’s self-preservation. And… again, being nice is not the same as being kind or decent. A nice person isn’t always kind or genuine. Plenty of people have been taken advantage of by people who seem really nice… at least at first. I’ve learned that the hard way. You might not think I’m “nice”, but I promise you, I’m capable of being fair and seeing multiple perspectives, particularly if I am approached with basic respect. I’m also genuine. In fact, that’s one thing people who have gotten to know me have said they like best about me. You’ll always know where you stand with me.

Sometimes, people take advantage of Bill’s desire to please other people. It’s happened to him repeatedly, and I can’t bear to see it happen again. Rolling over may seem to be the easy thing to do in the face of confrontation, but it always comes back to haunt him. I think recurrent problems are karma’s way of showing us that we have to deal with an issue. Bill has turned the other cheek so many times and it never gets him where he should be. In fact, it only encourages more abuse. Sometimes, one just has to take a stand.

I mostly don’t write for money and consider my blogs my “home”. If I’m in my home and notice people casing the neighborhood, of course I’m going to take precautions to make my home more secure. So, for now, making some of my blogs private is one way to increase security and discourage harassment, abuse, and stalking behavior. But I do hate to do it… I won’t lie. It’s a pain in the ass to lock things down and, frankly, I don’t feel like I should have to, because I truly haven’t done anything wrong or unprovoked. And I’d rather not delete the Facebook page if people truly like it, even if a closed group would allow for more privacy. I’m not sure what else to do, to be honest.

I will keep writing, though, even if it means I go totally underground. So if you’re reading this thinking you’ve stopped me, think again. I’m going to keep doing what I do, even if I change the way I do things.

Standard
Ex

Using my words…

Sorry… I wish I had a really lighthearted and less rambling topic for today. On the positive side, I am almost finished reading my latest book and the review will likely be positive. I might even get to it today. In fact, I’m certain I will. It’s dark and rainy outside and I doubt I’ll be arsed to do much more than read and continue binge watching Under Arrest on Netflix.

Last night, as I was sitting there watching the Canadian cop show, it occurred to me that for most of March, I’ll be here by myself. I’ve done this before, of course. My husband went to Iraq for six months back in 2007. But when he deployed, I lived on an Army post and had local friends. I knew my surroundings very well and could even go home to see my parents or other relatives if I wanted to. I never did do that, except in July 2007 when my Granny died.

Yes… this song is originally by Eric Carmen, not Celine Dion… with a nod to Rachmaninoff. Kudos to Eric for not lip syncing here. It’s rather obvious. Hmm… maybe today will be a music day.

Here in Wiesbaden, I don’t know anyone, and I’m still learning my way around because I don’t like driving in Germany. I mean, I can definitely do it. I drove my Mini from Stuttgart with no problem. I just don’t enjoy it if I don’t have somewhere specific to go and/or someone to go with. I’m not sure what happened to me. When I was a social worker, I had to drive all the time and I got to know rural South Carolina pretty well without a GPS or a cell phone. But here, I have to deal with narrow streets, limited paid parking, and obnoxious Staus. Then, once I park and pay, I have to deal with my terrible German skills. Of course I know the solution is to get out more, but it’s hard to work up the enthusiasm for that, especially when the weather sucks.

In Stuttgart, I knew where things were and how to get around. I did drive sometimes, but not very often. We lived in an area where getting my basic needs met wasn’t a problem, but Bill was also never gone for as long as he will be this time. Getting my needs met is not really a problem here, either. I can walk to the grocery store and the bakery. There’s even a small restaurant within stumbling distance of our house. There’s always Amazon.de, too. And if I really needed to, I could drive my car. I wish I wanted to.

So anyway… it’s now March 10th, and Bill will be gone until March 26th. The whole month is stretched ahead of me. I lost the momentum of my old blog, which still gets visitors every day and even the odd message. Now I have this new blog that I’m slowly introducing. It’s hard work launching a new blog, especially when the old spot was well-established. This is overall a nicer place to write, but it’s not quite broken in yet.

I’ll be honest. I was feeling kind of down about writing as recently as yesterday, wondering why I continue to do it when it causes so much drama and grief. Then I noticed I was getting a lot of hits on a post I wrote on my travel blog back in May 2018. A pizzeria in the German city of Ludwigsburg found a glowing review I wrote of their restaurant and shared it on their Facebook page. Then, very early this morning, my dogs woke me up and I checked Facebook. Yesterday’s post didn’t get any visitors at all, because I didn’t share it. But a friend read my post about Bill’s next grandchild and said she loved it. She described my writing as “refreshing” and “poignant”. Well… that got me in the feels, even if I realize my writing is definitely not always refreshing. Sometimes, I am a true wet blanket… and I overshare, especially when I’m angry, anxious, or depressed.

I read a blog post on a different site yesterday advising bloggers that they shouldn’t write when they’re angry. I can’t say I agree with that viewpoint. I think it depends on what your goal is. If you’re writing a blog for business purposes, then yes, I think it’s best to write when you’re not pissed off. But if you write for your own purposes– to share yourself and your thoughts, then I think writing when you’re angry can be an interesting thing to do, as long as you’re not committing libel or writing hate speech. It beats slashing tires, getting in fights, and driving drunk, right?

I need to write. I realize not everything I write is fun or interesting to read. Sometimes I do write some good stuff that gets people excited. I have many posts on my old blog that people come back to again and again. Some of those posts are positive or funny. A few posts got people upset, but generated good discussion. I’m pretty proud of those posts. The trouble is, sometimes people expect the same qualities every day. They don’t seem to understand that my writing is affected by my mood, and these posts are always off the cuff. That’s what a blog is for. It’s not a book or something that gets edited umpteen times before it’s published.

They’ll read something I’ve written when I’m angry or sad about something and stop “liking” me, or leave me a nasty comment. For instance, I think the mess with the former tenant was very telling in many ways. You see, I wrote many posts on my old blog– over 3200, I think. Most of them had nothing to do with the ex landlady or my husband’s ex wife. My old blog had posts about true crime, books, living in Germany and other places, and even old stories from my childhood or early marriage. Some posts were about nothing. Those posts were obviously not interesting to her. In fact, I doubt she read them. She focused on my venting posts and, apparently, came to the conclusion that I’m “unhinged”. Then she sent me a private message to complain, after having seen how I deal with people who complain about the contents of my blog. Here’s a big hint. Complaining about my blog is a waste of time. If you don’t enjoy it, just move on.

Same thing goes for “Wondering Why”, who complained about how “bitter”, “petty”, and “negative” I am. She read for a much shorter period of time and happened to catch a couple of posts I wrote about my husband’s former wife. They were prompted by conversations my husband had with his younger daughter, who was revealing some heavy and disturbing stuff, which was shared with me. “Wondering Why”, who clearly didn’t know the convoluted backstory, left me a chastising comment about my bad attitude and “negativity”, as well as “advice” on what and how I should write.

I usually respond to people like “Wondering Why” with an open letter and, in fact, that is what I did. I’m sure “former tenant” was also expecting an open letter when she wrote to me. In former tenant’s case, I determined that trying to explain or even just responding would not work. She had clearly taken a side and come to a conclusion about me. Also, I know that she’s very concerned about her privacy, so if I called her out on my blog, even though it really didn’t get that much traffic, she would probably not react well, and the drama would continue. So I did something that I think was ultimately a most “healthy” thing to do. I removed her from my audience.

It occurs to me that both of these readers probably meant well. They both reacted in very typical ways people act when they encounter someone whose opinions make them uncomfortable. How many times have we encountered someone who is upset and suggested that they, “Calm down!” Let me ask you this. Does it usually work when you suggest that someone should “calm down” when they’re emotional? Does it usually help when you advise them to “let it go”? It seems like the obvious thing to say, but in my experience, it usually pisses the upset person off even more. Even if that is ultimately the pathway to peace, they may not be ready to take that step.

Both “Wondering Why” and “former tenant” criticized me for airing my thoughts on my blog. I thought having a place to air my thoughts was the whole purpose of writing a personal blog. “Wondering Why” went as far as to tell me that I don’t need to share everything I’m thinking (duh). I’m guessing that she was herself someone’s first wife and my comments hit too close to home. She probably assumes my husband’s ex wife is a normal person. The fact is, she’s not. If she were, I certainly wouldn’t be writing about her. I wouldn’t need to. Normal people don’t unilaterally refuse to let the fathers of their children have relationships with their kids. It might be one thing if she only did it to one man, but she’s done it to two, and we have it on good authority that she treats number three pretty badly, too. Aside from that, since Ex falsely decided she was “done” having children, I didn’t even get to have children of my own. While I understand that I might not have had them anyway, it does feel like that choice was “taken” from me. Life isn’t fair… I get it. It still sucks. Mind if I vent about it on my personal blog?

It upsets me that my husband is only now rebuilding his relationship with his 25 year old daughter, when they should have had access to each other all along. It saddens me that when he sees her in person, it will have been about fifteen years since they last saw each other. But all I’m doing is writing about it. What’s wrong with that? This blog isn’t about anyone’s situation but mine!

I can’t explain the situation with the former tenant. She clearly has a good relationship with the ex landlady. I don’t know enough about her to know for certain why she has a good relationship and I don’t, although what I do know is that she’s much younger than I am, has young children, and is very attractive. When she lived in Germany, she had a job, which got her out of the house. That meant ex landlady could come over and check things out to her compulsive heart’s content without causing upset. Ex tenant didn’t stay as long as we did, and she befriended ex landlady’s daughter. By contrast, I never even met ex landlady’s daughter, don’t have kids ex landlady can play Oma to, and, perhaps most importantly, didn’t try to buddy up with the landlady. It’s not necessarily because I didn’t want to be friends. It’s more because we just didn’t click.

I also get the sense that maybe former tenant is very concerned about what people will think, whereas I am mostly less concerned about that. I think people who are overly concerned with image tend to be less authentic because they’re always concealing things. It might be because I’m a lot older than she is, or it may be because I have a very different personality. In any case, she seems to have come away with the idea that I’m the sole source of the whole problem. I will accept responsibility for being part of the problem, but I won’t take all the blame.

I don’t have girlfriends to gossip with, so I will write about this stuff. No one has to read it. She should have stopped reading it before complaining about my content. The first couple of times she complained, I edited for her. This last time, she forced me to take action. It felt like she was trying to censor me in my own space. I also really resented her condescending tone toward me. It was clear to me that she doesn’t take what I do seriously. She’s not the first person who hasn’t taken me seriously, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to continue to entertain that kind of disrespect on my space.

Now… if this makes me “unhinged”, “unhealthy”, “bitter”, “petty”, “angry”, “mean-spirited”, “bitchy”, “obsessive”, “snarky”, “condescending”, or “sarcastic” (all adjectives people have used to describe my persona on my former blog), alright… I can even own some of those adjectives. However, I’m also a basically nice person with interests, talents, and even a couple of loved ones. When I complain about people like Ex or former landlady, I do so with cause. I think most people would be upset if their spouse was denied access to children from another marriage. Most people would be angry if their former landlord withheld three quarters of their security deposit to upgrade their property, rather than to pay for actual damages. Like I said… better to vent about it than slash tires.

I am far away from my family and friends, and my culture… and I often feel like a lot of those people aren’t really in my life anymore and never will be again. I spend a whole lot of time alone, while, at the same time, not wanting to engage with anyone because so many of them end up not “clicking”. It takes a toll on my mood. Writing is one way I sort things out for myself. It’s basically a healthy thing to do, too, especially since it doesn’t involve drugs or violence. If my writing doesn’t do it for other people, I wish they’d simply move on, rather than try to dictate to me what my subject matter should be. I’m sure former tenant felt compelled to stick up for her friend. I can understand and respect that. But she had no right to act like a “minder”, imply that I’ve got “issues”, and try to censor my writing.

I realize that ultimately, moving the blog is probably for the best, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in mourning somewhat. This mourning comes at a time that would have already been difficult. I’ll get through it, but truthfully, being here sucks sometimes. It would suck much worse in other places, I know… but acknowledging that doesn’t change the situation much. I’m still going to be here all by myself for the next 16 days… two down already. See? I’m already looking on the bright side.

Standard