communication, condescending twatbags, Ex, narcissists, Twitter

“More! I want MORE!” The tragedy of wanting everything NOW…

Like my title? It was inspired by Police Academy. I was thinking about the scene in that 1984 film, when all the hapless new police academy recruits are doing physical training, and the busty blonde Callahan is counting sit ups as she wails, “More! I want MORE!” The cadets all groan in unison as they heave their bodies on the upward count, another painful sit up done. I probably should have rethought that, though… Given today’s topic, maybe Veruca Salt would be a better inspiration for a title. It’s too late to change the title, though.

Some people are never satisfied with what they have…

This morning at about 3:00, Arran woke up and wanted to be fed. I think the combination of taking Prednisolone and being a beagle mix has made him ravenous and insatiable. He’s eager for his meals, and he’s eager to help us eat our meals. Although it’s obvious to us that he’s feeling a lot better than he was a month ago, I wonder if it’s a special kind of torture for him to always want to eat. But then he jumps up on the bed and snuggles with us, begs for a walk, and kisses me. Of course, I came to the rather sick realization yesterday, that one of the reasons he was licking me was because it happens to be my special time of the month. To a beagle mix, I probably smell like a rare steak right now. Sorry… I know that’s gross, but it’s probably the truth.

This theme of excess and never being satisfied with what one has is on my mind again today. Last year, I reposted an article I wrote about the Duggar family back in 2012. At the time, they were still talking about having more babies, and I wondered why they couldn’t just enjoy what they had. I mean, 19 children is quite a quiver full, right? They’ve done their part to repopulate the world with Republicans. Why not just enjoy the children and grandchildren, instead of trying to have more? In that post, I remembered how, when I was a small child, I would ask my mom for more food when I hadn’t finished what was on my plate. My mom, being ever the grouch, would say “Why don’t you eat what you’ve got?” Then I would try to enjoy what I had, and that would frequently be enough for me.

As I listened to Mrs. Duggar talk about “gifts from God” coming in the form of more children, I began to think she was sounding very unsatisfied. If I were to follow her reasoning about wanting more children, I would think she was pretty ungrateful to God, who had already “blessed” her with 19 precious “gifts”. Why not enjoy those children, most of whom were still under 18 at the time, instead of begging for more? More gifts that, by the way, she wouldn’t be taking care of… because we all know the daughters raise the Duggar children. But, thankfully, Mrs. Duggar’s womb finally cried “uncle”, and she’s now done birthing babies. Hopefully, she’s enjoying being a grandmother, because it appears that the “gifts from God” are no long forthcoming from her womb.

According to Twitter, Ex, like Mrs. Duggar, is unsatisfied with what she has. There she is, a woman who supposedly has so much, if you go by her tweets on Twitter. She still seems to think she is entitled to more than what she has. This is how she describes herself on Twitter.

Mom: 5+2 amazing people, 3 autistic, 1 nonverbal, 5 grands! Autism advocate, writer, seaglass lover & fibro warrior! I VOTE; you?

But then she has this very idealized view of what love should be. And even though she is a mother of five and a grandmother, she feels the need to promote an image on social media, interacting with strangers instead of tending to her own family. They apparently aren’t enough for her, if I’m to assess her latest comments. Lately, she’s been going off about student loans. I saw that she recently commented that she no longer owes them. But I also know that she made her daughters take out loans and used the extra money on herself. Then she posts this:

Me: M.Ed. Specializing in Educational Leadership with years of experience working in global higher ed and k-12 special education, about to embark on a PhD. You: ? I do not consider myself above others; rather, I’m grateful for the “Liberation of an Education”©, which all deserve.

Ex dropped out of high school and got a GED, then took about twenty years to finish a bachelor’s degree, which she finally did seemingly because, years ago, I wrote an email to her. I pointed out that she lacked the education and experience to diagnose my husband with mental health issues, which she had been doing for too long. Next thing we knew, she was back in college, then supposedly getting a master’s degree, which we’ve been told she doesn’t use professionally. Even back then, she was talking about going for a doctorate someday, but if you know the truth about her, it doesn’t seem feasible. Now… she DID work for a university, but not in any high level capacity. We were told she was released from that position for doing something “inappropriate” with funds. So, I think the above statement is a liberal stretch of the truth. Yes, she has worked in “higher education”, but it was as a glorified clerk. And yes, she has experience with special ed, but it’s only because she has a son with autism and has done some volunteer work with local organizations.

It’s not that I think Ex is dumb. She isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with her intellect, and if she put her mind to it, maybe she could earn a doctorate, although it probably wouldn’t come from a top school. However, doing that would mean several years of sacrifice, paying lots of money, and submitting to peer review, which I know would be very difficult for her. Then, what would she do with that degree? Does she want to teach or do research? Or is she just after a few initials after her name that she can flaunt on Twitter, or whatever follows it when it inevitably collapses? Isn’t there a smarter way to get that regard she’s obviously seeking? One that doesn’t involve years of study, high tuition bills, and more debt?

One thing I learned when I was in my graduate program– which was full time and took three solid years– is that I am capable of getting a doctorate if I want one. I took many classes with people who were either doctoral candidates or already had terminal degrees. They were my peers. For me, the knowledge that I’m smart enough, and capable of higher education, is sufficient. I’m satisfied. Graduate school, in my case, was in some ways a waste of time and money, because I don’t use the degrees in the way I expected to. In other ways, the time and money were very well spent, if only because I proved to myself that I could do it, and I learned skills and knowledge that are applicable in everyday life.

But I know I don’t need to earn a Ph.D. I’m fifty fucking years old, and I have nothing to prove. I also realize that I don’t have talents for either science or business (public health), nor do I particularly want to work with people (social work), nor do I want to analyze literature (English). So pursuing a Ph.D. would be a true waste of time for me. It would simply be for vanity’s sake, and people in the military community already dislike me enough for being an “uppity liberal woman.” (I’m sort of kidding… because at this point, I don’t care what people in the military think of me.)

Ex seems to think that having a doctorate will make her a more lovable, interesting, important person. I think that if she did get a Ph.D., she would become more insufferable, obnoxious, and arrogant. See this related tweet:

You cannot degrade the value of higher education, that implies exactly what I referred to… privilege, value, social standing! Every human being has their own capacity for learning; education should be based on ability to succeed rather than one’s ability to pay for it. 1/2

This woman denied her three eldest children the typical high school experience. All three of them dropped out and got GEDs, like her. Her eldest got a degree from the university where she was working before she was fired. Older daughter got a degree from a very expensive private art college, which she no doubt had to get huge loans to fund. Younger daughter didn’t finish college, but had to pay back loans she got at her mother’s behest. I don’t know about #3’s kids. I think their daughter is in college. Ex has made many comments about her desire for her daughter with #3 to study acting… as she apparently also hoped for former stepson and younger daughter. I think she has a dream that one of them will be rich and famous, so she can ride their coattails. She doesn’t seem to realize that a career as an actor, particularly a famous one, is fraught with pitfalls. One only has to read Jennette McCurdy’s recent book to understand that reality. But, on the other hand, her kids are at least used to being around narcissists, because they have apparently been raised by one.

Even though she seems to hope her children will someday be rich and famous, Ex is presuming to be an expert on education, a field where making a lot of money isn’t really a thing for most. And Ex is not a teacher. Younger daughter has told us that she was frequently told to “figure it out”, when she needed to know something. Her mother, who is trying to make people believe that she’s this benevolent, open-minded, intelligent person, denied her and her siblings the right to normal childhoods.

This next bit is truly ridiculous, as my husband still has an aversion to any kind of boxed convenience foods, thanks to his years of living with Ex… I don’t see her growing her own food. She doesn’t cook or clean; those duties were fobbed off on Bill’s daughters, whom she never even bothered to teach any skills. They had to figure it all out for themselves.

Sad that our governments [she is referring to the UK’s government] have utterly lost their minds. I want to immigrate to Scotland, don’t mind being poor and having to grow the majority of my food! I’m poor here… everyone is poor here because of policy. Everyone except that damnable 1%… we all live in debt to survive.

I would like to tell Ex that when Bill and I met, we were both broke and heavily in debt. I had student loans, a car loan, and credit card debt. He had child support, credit card debt, a car loan, and recovery from a bankruptcy and foreclosure he went through with Ex. When we met, Bill’s credit rating was in the 400s. Now, it’s in the upper 700s. Today, I have no credit card debt, no student loan debt, and no car loan debt. Bill owes some on our Volvo, and his credit card. If he needed to, he could pay off his debts today. It took years for us to get to this point, but we’re now here. And we’re going to stay here for as long as we can, barring any catastrophes.

Yes, it IS possible to live with low debt loads, as long as you don’t have chronic medical problems. You simply have to make managing and controlling debt a priority, do some planning, make smart choices, and practice some discipline. We’re not in the “damnable 1 percent”. We aren’t rich, but we’re pretty comfortable. We work together as partners, and are committed to not be drowning in debt. Consequently, we have been able to enjoy a lot of the things Ex claims she covets. And no, we don’t live in debt to survive, although we used to do that. We made changes so we don’t have to do that anymore. We also don’t have kids, largely thanks to her. Kids are expensive. She has five of them, and one will probably never be able to live on his own. Imagine where she could be if she’d simply been satisfied with what she had twenty years ago and set a few goals, instead of wanting and trying to have it all. Maybe she could have even had it all at some point… just not all at one time.

This could be Ex’s theme song. It’s a great song, and maybe inspirational to some. But if you focus on having it all, you miss out on enjoying what you already have.

I get the impression that Ex lives as if she will die tomorrow. So, instead of taking things as they come, she wants everything NOW. And she wants us to believe that she is worthy of having it all, when the truth is, none of us can have everything. Even super wealthy people typically lack other things in their lives, like stable relationships with mentally healthy people who aren’t trying to use them for their money or influence. Like, Donald Trump supposedly has a lot of money and power, but he still wants more, doesn’t he? He’s not satisfied with being married to an ex model, owning hotels and golf courses around the world, or even being a former US president. And yet, he continually wants more. Ex is not that unlike him, is she?

Anyway, I think we can add this Ph.D. ambition to Ex’s long list of desires for her life… like a fence for her house, a therapy dog, a trip to Scotland, unlimited wealth, unconditional love from her husband and kids (which really doesn’t exist, unless you’re a dog), and an idyllic house that looks like one she saw in a snow globe. 😉 Nothing to see here. It’s just another typical day in paradise for a garden variety narcissist.

Queen’s lyrics to “I Want it All”…

Adventure seeker on an empty street
Just an alley creeper, light on his feet
A young fighter screaming, with no time for doubt
With the pain and anger can’t see a way out
It ain’t much I’m asking, I heard him say
Gotta find me a future move out of my way
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now

Listen all you people, come gather round
I gotta get me a game plan, gotta shake you to the ground
But just give me, huh, what I know is mine
People do you hear me, just gimme the sign
It ain’t much I’m asking, if you want the truth
Here’s to the future for the dreams of youth

I want it all (give it all I want it all)
I want it all (yeah)
I want it all and I want it now

I want it all (yes I want it all)
I want it all hey
I want it all and I want it now

I’m a man with a one track mind
So much to do in one lifetime (people do you hear me)
Not a man for compromise and where’s and why’s and living lies
So I’m living it all, yes I’m living it all
And I’m giving it all, and I’m giving it all
Oh oh yeah yeah ha ha ha ha ha
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
I want it all

It ain’t much I’m asking, if you want the truth
Here’s to the future
Hear the cry of youth (hear the cry of youth) (hear the cry of youth)
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want it now

I want it all yeah yeah yeah
I want it all, I want it all and I want it now
Oh oh oh oh oh

And I want it (now)
I want it, I want it
Oh ha

Songwriters: Brian May / Freddie Mercury / John Deacon / Roger Taylor

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expressions, music, obits

April truly is the cruelest month for some people…

I woke up this morning to read a gorgeous, heartfelt, loving tribute my cousin, Clark, wrote for his wife, Chris. Today would have been their 38th wedding anniversary, had his wife not passed away on April 10, 2022. My cousin has spent the past fourteen months taking care of Chris, who had cancer that spread throughout her body. I know my cousin and his family have faced cancer too many times. What makes the timing of this loss especially cruel for this couple is that Chris passed just days before their daughter’s wedding. But, as my cousins in that part of my family are very devoted to their Christian faith, they did note that Chris probably had the best view of her middle daughter’s spring wedding.

I’m not the most religious person myself, but I like to think that Chris was watching her beautiful middle daughter walk down the aisle to her new husband. It’s a comforting thought. As we’re all in need of comfort lately, I see no harm at all in believing fervently that Chris is celebrating among the angels with other loved ones.

A few days ago, one of Bill’s high school friends also departed this life. His circumstances were very different than Chris’s. Mark decided to die on his own terms. I don’t know the exact details surrounding Mark’s death, other than that he committed suicide. He evidently left no clue to his family and many friends that he was choosing to die. Based on what’s on his social media, many people were left in total shock and grief. I see that in the days before he died, Mark tied up some loose ends. He spent time with friends and loved ones, and took pictures, which he posted on his profile.

While I am generally in favor of letting people exercise free agency and self-determination, I can’t help but wonder how those people who spent those last moments of Mark’s life feel about his decision. Granted, there is nothing they can do about it now, which probably makes this even worse for them. Maybe it’s pointless to be angry about Mark’s final actions on Good Friday. I can only speak for myself when I say that Mark’s decision probably would have devastated me, if I had known him better. As it was, I never met the man in person, although I know Ex knew him. I wonder if she knows what he did. I’m not about to tell her, of course… But I do wonder.

Even though I never met Mark, I have been affected by his decision to kill himself. Bill hadn’t seen Mark in many years, but he remembered him fondly and was still upset by his decision to kill himself. I have been here to comfort him, which means that Mark’s death touches me, too. Yes, there were tears shed for him in our house, if that matters to anyone.

Bill and I both understand that there were obviously things going on in Mark’s life that must have been too much for him to take. What went wrong was obviously none of our business… and, when it comes down to it, death is something we all have to face at some point. Maybe it gave Mark comfort to go out on his own terms. I am a bit concerned for his survivors, though… especially the ones who were there at the end. He apparently never let on to what he was planning, and he never gave them a chance to voice to him how they felt about it. Maybe they feel cheated or angry… although so far, I’ve seen nothing but an outpouring of love and good wishes. Personally, while I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes fantasize about doing what Mark did, I also think it was kind of a selfish thing to do. But then, I also remember that it was his life, and when it comes down to it, he wasn’t obligated to live for anyone. As far as I know, he had no children and was no longer married. His parents predeceased him. Maybe he just felt “done”. Or maybe he was very depressed or suffering from some ailment no one else knew about. I guess we’ll never know.

This morning, I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits from North Carolina. People are hitting a post I wrote back in February about a man named Chad Carswell. I had read about him in the Washington Post. Mr. Carswell was making news for needing a kidney transplant, but refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. To be honest, I wasn’t, and am still not, very impressed by that choice. However, I do recognize that not getting a vaccine is his choice to make. It’s his life.

My post about his case was admittedly a little snarky and, perhaps, even kind of rude. It’s been interesting to see the delayed reaction to that post from early February. I can see that the people who have found it are sharing it and clicking it repeatedly, also hitting the disclaimer link, and even my travel blog. I’m not sure what they’re looking for. My mind hasn’t changed about that situation, although I still agree that people should always have the right to make choices. That right extends to everyone, though. A surgeon has the right to refuse to perform surgery on someone who isn’t medically qualified to have surgery. I don’t know what’s currently going on regarding Chad Carswell’s case. It’s none of my business, and frankly, doesn’t necessarily interest me at this point in time. But obviously, something has triggered people to read my post about him. I do wish him well, even if I disagree with his decision not to get vaccinated. Hopefully, his decision doesn’t lead to his loved ones and friends mourning his passing in April, too.

Anyway, since death is on my mind today, I decided to record a song. I actually discovered this very simple song by John Prine only this morning. I thought it was kind of poignant and fitting, given how many losses I have experienced this April and in past Aprils… For some reason, April really is the cruelest month. It’s the month when it seems like so many people have died senselessly in school shootings, bombings, wars, suicides, and due to illnesses… As I watch flowers and trees literally bursting into bloom on a daily basis, I can’t help but think of people who have departed life in April, or have had their lives completely changed or ruined due to someone else’s choices. So below is my rendering of “I Remember Everything”, which was apparently released after Prine’s untimely and gruesome death from COVID-19. It gave me some comfort to sing it, even if it may not be among my better performances.

Incidentally, Switzerland is a place where people can legally choose to die… and it does appear to be a heavenly place to be in some areas.

I tried to do another video featuring my homely, middle-aged, mom-bodied visage on camera, but I couldn’t get the video to sync properly with the audio. I don’t look particularly great on camera as it is, and wasn’t wanting the video to look like a poorly dubbed martial arts film from the 70s. I got tired of screwing with it and decided to just use some photos from our visit to Switzerland last summer. The shots are of Lakes Zurich and Lucerne, which I found very peaceful to look at. “I Remember Everything” is yet another song I could probably do on guitar if I put my mind to it. Maybe I’ll try that at some point. But for now, here’s my latest musical effort. I hope someone enjoys it. I’m sure John Prine would have appreciated the chance to get vaccinated against COVID, although I really don’t know how he would have felt about it. I do know that a lot of people miss him, including relatively new admirers like me.

Edited to add… It occurs to me that John Prine died in April, too… and I just discovered another one of his songs. This one was about what he planned to do after death. It made me smile, especially since the chords are super easy and I could play along with it. Wonder if this is what came to pass for him when he did finally die in 2020…

I can actually play guitar to this one, and it’s quite fun to do so!

Now, as it’s Thursday and we’re about to leave town, I better close this post and get on with my chores of the day, such as they are. Gotta vacuum, you know… and walk the dogs.

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Ex, family, mental health, psychology

When Grandma gets canceled…

I used to read Slate Magazine’s advice column “Dear Prudence” fairly regularly, especially when we were still living in the States. I remember reading Dear Prudence in the Washington Post, too, especially when it was written by Emily Yoffe, who wrote an awesome book about adopting a beagle from BREW (Beagle Resource Education and Welfare). Bill and I have adopted three beagles from BREW ourselves, so naturally I wanted to read What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner (2005). I remember Yoffe also famously wrote about competing in the Mrs. America pageant just for the sake of the experience. That was part of her “Human Guinea Pig” series for Slate. I probably ought to read Slate more often. It might annoy me less than The Atlantic does, with its daily doses of depressing articles about the rapidly degrading state of the world and how it’s never going to get better.

Anyway, this morning, a Facebook friend commented on a column by Dear Prudence. Dear Prudence is currently written by Daniel M. Lavery, who was born Mallory Ortberg and raised by evangelical Christians. I may have to read more about his story. I had not heard of him until today, but apparently he is well known and regarded as a writer, especially in transgender circles.

The topic that so intrigued me this morning is entitled “My Daughter Cut Me Out of Her Life! She didn’t even tell me she’s pregnant.” The letter that prompted the headline was from a mother, distraught that her formerly pleasant and cooperative adult daughter got married to a “controlling” man. Ever since the wedding, daughter has been much firmer with her mom– in fact, Mom thinks her daughter has “turned into a different person.” Recently, the daughter stopped taking her mother’s phone calls and texts. Below is the letter in question.

Dear Prudence,

Since my daughter married “Chris,” she has turned into a different person. It started on her wedding day, when she got drunk and screamed at me for “always putting her down” after I made a (not insulting!) comment about her non-traditional dress. That was four years ago, and things have gotten worse since then. She and Chris have spent every Christmas with his parents rather than me and my husband, she ignores calls and texts, and she has gone from attending every pre-pandemic family function with thoughtful gifts on birthdays to missing all but funerals and sending gift cards as Christmas presents. She has spoken to us twice since February, and on one of those occasions ended up screaming abuse at us until my husband hung up.

I found out the worst news recently and cannot process it. My daughter is pregnant, and not only had she not told us, but she didn’t plan to. I only found out, mortifyingly, because a friend saw something on social media and asked me about it (I’m not on social media). My husband and I tried getting through to our daughter, but she has changed her personal number and only Chris answers the house phone. When confronted, he told us that she no longer wanted any contact with us, and that “they” did not want us in their child’s life. My husband accused Chris of controlling our daughter, at which point Chris hung up. I have since called and pleaded with him to let me talk to my daughter, but to no avail. He has always been a cold person, but I never thought he would do something like this. I know that my daughter has some responsibility for her choices here, but I agree with my husband that Chris seems to be a powerful influence in isolating her from us in this extreme way. We are at a loss as to what to do from here. I cannot bear the thought of never meeting my own grandchild, and part of me can’t believe that our daughter would be so cruel as to follow through with this plan to keep us from them permanently. Is there anything I can say that might get through to Chris, or that I could put in a letter begging my daughter to reconcile? My husband and I miss the sweet, warm girl that we raised, and feel as though we’ve lost her to a cold, angry stranger.

—Heartbroken

Prudie gave the usual excellent advice. But what really stuck out to me was my friend’s comment. She wrote that the letter “smacked of ‘missing missing reasons.'” Prior to today, I had never heard of such a concept. I decided to follow the link my friend shared in her comment. I found myself on a blog page about parents and children who are estranged. It appears that the blog, Issendai.com, is mostly about psychology, and in particular, estrangement between parents and their children. I will have to explore it more thoroughly today.

The post my friend shared is entitled “The Missing Missing Reasons”, and it’s all about how parents of estranged children seem to “miss the boat” on why they are cut out of their adult children’s lives. These parents will say their children “never gave them a reason” for the estrangement. But then, after they start talking or writing, they reveal that their children actually DID give them a reason. It appears that the estranged parent simply didn’t acknowledge the reason.

In the above letter, the distraught mother claims that her daughter became someone she doesn’t know anymore after the daughter got married. She blames Chris, the husband, for the daughter’s change. She makes him out to be an abuser who is trying to prevent her from meeting her own grandchild. But if you read carefully, Mom also claims that her daughter “got drunk” at her wedding and yelled at her mother for “always putting her down” after the mom made a “not insulting” comment about her daughter’s unconventional wedding dress.

Just that initial part of her letter makes me think that “Heartbroken” has a habit of discounting her daughter’s feelings and expecting her adult child to defer to her. I suspect she might be the type of parent who think she’s always right and always deserves respect, even when she, herself, isn’t behaving in a respectable way. In her letter, I don’t see any acknowledgment from “Heartbroken” that she may have caused her daughter hurt or offense, even if it was completely unintentional. Instead, she assumes her daughter’s husband is entirely to blame for this estrangement.

Even though Heartbroken writes that her daughter “has some responsibility for her choices”, she doesn’t seem to understand that, as a competent adult, her daughter actually has complete responsibility for her choices. She isn’t a child anymore, and her mother is no longer the boss of her. It could be that Chris is helping her by screening her mother’s calls, but unless he’s the worst type of abusive monster, my guess is that he’s not doing it because he’s a control freak. He’s probably doing it because his mother-in-law is a possessive control freak who doesn’t see her daughter as a fully functioning adult, capable of having and expressing her own feelings and making decisions about who will, and who will not be, in her life. And unfortunately, until that unborn baby she’s carrying is also an adult, she is also capable of making choices for her child, which could mean that Grandma gets “canceled”.

I have some empathy for both sides of this situation. First off, I am a youngest child with family members who have historically discounted my opinions and treated me with contempt and disrespect. Fortunately, of all my family members, my mom has always had the most regard for me as an adult. In fact, when I was a child, my mom often expected me to be more adult than I was. She was in a hurry to see me grow up, because she had made it plain to me that she hadn’t expected or wanted a fourth child (me). I turned out to be a pretty good kid overall, but I had an attitude and wasn’t exactly genteel, high achieving, or well-behaved around her friends. Consequently, I often heard hurtful stories about how obnoxious I was as a toddler and small child. Some would say I never outgrew those traits, even though overall, I really wasn’t that difficult. I never got arrested or pregnant, and I finished high school, college, and graduate school on time, and with little help from anyone else, other than financially.

In my case, my mom became a lot easier to be around once I became an adult. She would probably say the same about me. I’m probably much less annoying as an adult. I certainly require less from her, so she can just be my friend. I notice my mom was also a lot less annoying once I got married. I think she was afraid I’d never be able to launch… or find a suitable mate. Bill turned out to be very acceptable and we’re doing fine, so Mom has relaxed a lot. I think it also helped when she no longer had to deal with my dad or keep their business from tanking.

And secondly, I’m married to a man who was estranged from his daughters. One adult daughter is still estranged. The other has reconnected, which is something I never thought would happen. Younger daughter has explained a lot about why the estrangement happened. When she and Bill started talking again, he approached gently and listened to her. In her case, the estrangement wasn’t so much because it was what she wanted. Her mother pretty much forced her to disconnect and filled her and her sister with fear and doubt.

In that process, I was painted as “the bad guy” because Bill stopped putting up with his ex wife’s abusive bullshit. I also made for a convenient scapegoat as a so-called home wrecking whore. Meanwhile, Bill approached Ex with calm assertiveness rather than meek submission or outright aggression. I’m sure that was infuriating and frustrating for Ex. She once even commented on how his tone had “changed”. She didn’t like it, because she was used to deference. And she blamed me, when she should have realized that he had simply recovered from her toxic bullshit and had made up his mind not to tolerate it anymore.

It took years, but that calm and gentle approach is paying off as Bill strengthens his ties to his daughter and her family. Meanwhile, it sounds to us like Ex is being shut out of at least two of her five children’s lives. And this time, the estrangement isn’t because they were forced– it’s because they’re now adults and they have chosen to disconnect, to some degree.

Ex is the type of person who will send an email full of emotional blackmail, blame, rage, and begging in order to get her way. She’s manipulative and disrespectful, and expects her children and other family members to kiss her ass. She has a one dimensional approach to relationships and sees them only in terms of how they relate to her, without any regard toward how her actions and behaviors affect other people. Meanwhile, she does everything she can to present a facade to the rest of the world about what an “amazing” person she is. It’s all a lie, and it’s obvious to most people who have any situational awareness.

I’m not saying I think “Heartbroken” is like Ex, though. She may have been a much better mother and may be a superior specimen when it comes to simple humanness. But in her letter, I read the words of a woman who blames other people for everything and doesn’t have much self-awareness or personal insight. For instance, she legitimately may not have meant her comment about her daughter’s wedding dress as an insult. However, that was clearly how it came across to her daughter. We can’t always control how people interpret what we say or do, but if someone does take offense to something we say or do, it’s his or her right. And then, we weigh whether or not we care about their being offended. If we care, maybe an apology or explanation is in order. If we don’t care, then fuck ’em, and we reap the consequences.

In this case, it sounds like Mom cares that her daughter has cut her out of her life. She doesn’t want to be canceled from her unborn grandchild’s life. With that being the case, she may have to humble herself and be a bit more introspective. She may have to alter her behavior and show her daughter more respect, or at least acknowledge that some of the things she’s said and done in the past have been hurtful and caused offense. If she isn’t willing to make that concession, she may stay canceled.

Most normal people don’t like being estranged from others, especially close relatives, like a parent. I’m sure “Heartbroken’s” daughter thought about it before she cut off her mom. She may have determined that being separated from/no contact with her mother is less painful than enduring her mother’s recurrent intrusiveness and disrespect. When a person is still a child, they have to tolerate a parent’s disregard and disrespect. But the wonderful thing about being an adult is that we all have the ability to make choices for ourselves. And it sounds like that is what “Heartbroken’s” daughter has done.

It may turn out that this relationship can be salvaged. The letter writer’s daughter may be a reasonable person, and she may welcome her mother back into her life if Mom starts treating her with some basic respect and civility. But it sounds like she’s not going to deal with her as she is today, and she’s not going to subject her child to her mother’s repeated disrespect, either.

The reason I think it’s been a pattern is because “Heartbroken’s” daughter mentioned it at her wedding, of all places. It was her day– a day I’m sure, drunk or not, she definitely wasn’t wanting to spend arguing with her mom. Then, the mom made the comment that she didn’t think she was insulting her daughter. But her daughter clearly took the comment about the wedding dress as insulting– on her day– and, more importantly, pointed out that it wasn’t the first time. So this has been an issue for a long time… and now that daughter has her own family, why does she “need” her mom? She doesn’t… at least not in the most basic ways. She’s a grown and functional person, with a husband who supports her, and soon a child of her own whose needs she will have to consider. And her mom, God help her, is still thinking only about herself and her needs as a mom and grandma.

I have cut some people out of my life. It wasn’t easy for me. I think about all of the years I spent with some of the people I don’t talk to anymore. I have some great memories. But after awhile, the good memories are outweighed by bad ones, and feeling traumatized and angry after multiple toxic interactions. After awhile, healthy people tend to make the decision to stop drinking the poison and put the bottle aside… I’ve done that, and it’s overall been a good thing… even if I do still have some great memories. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t listen if someone indicated that they wanted to talk to me, and it was an actual conversation involving more than one perspective. I think “Heartbroken” is firmly focused on her own perspective and how much she hurts. Until she realizes that her daughter was also hurt, she probably won’t get anywhere.

I think if “Heartbroken” is willing to open her heart and her mind, let her daughter know that she hears her and is willing to try to change the way she communicates, she may find her daughter is more willing to include her in her life. But if she just wants to blame her daughter and her son-in-law, I’m afraid Grandma is gonna stay canceled.

Anyway… I’m going to have to read more articles on Issendal.com. I’m glad I took a minute to read about “missing missing reasons”. It’s a concept that I think affects a lot of relationships involving high conflict, immature people who lack insight and introspection.

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mental health

I know you mean well, but…

It bothers me when people blast boiler plate social media statuses reaching out to the depressed and suicidal among us. It probably shouldn’t bother me, since I know their hearts are in the “right” place, but it does. I read such a status this morning. I personally know the woman who posted it, and I’m absolutely certain she meant well when she wrote that she knew “life can suck” sometimes, but it’s also “amazing and beautiful”. I’m positive that she also meant it when she posted, “you are loved.” And yet, somehow I still felt kind of diminished when I read that status, even though I’m no longer depressed.

I have a hard time believing it when most people post those kinds of statuses, particularly when they didn’t write them themselves. It’s hard to feel like something came from the heart when it’s been rehashed by hundreds of people. It’s not just trite suicide and depression “support” statuses that bug me, either. It’s those kinds of posts about any illness or social ill. People share them, but don’t really mean them… and they mainly do it because they want to feel better about themselves, not because they want to help other people in pain.

I have been suicidal before. It was a long time ago, and I haven’t felt that despondent in many years. There was a time in my life when I felt like shit every day and it didn’t seem like it would ever get better. In fact, it did take months before I stopped feeling so downtrodden and exhausted by living. It makes me sad to remember that time, since I was still very young and I had so many opportunities ahead of me. There were things I could have done that would have taken me to exciting places– places different than where I am now. Where I am now isn’t awful by any stretch, but I can’t help but be wistful remembering that I spent my mid twenties feeling like packing it in. I remember thinking that my twenties were supposed to be the best years of my life, and yet I felt so crummy. How would I deal with my thirties, forties, and fifties if I felt so shitty at what was supposed to be the prime time of my life?

I probably wasted a good two or three years feeling horrible, even though I was getting treatment at the time. There were many days when I fantasized about suicide, since as far as I could tell, the rest of my life would be just as bleak and hopeless as that time seemed. I remember thinking no one cared, even though there was some evidence to the contrary. I also remember people not wanting to talk about depression. I remember being told that I shouldn’t talk about it, either, and that all I really needed was God, more exercise, better nutrition, or St. John’s Wort.

Fortunately, at that time, Facebook didn’t exist. I didn’t have to read trite blasts on social media about how life is beautiful and someone out there “cared”. I think on a basic level, I knew that life was beautiful– but to me, it seemed like it was beautiful only for other people, not for me. And I knew that people “cared”, but when I was in that state of mind, it seemed more like they cared because I was a burden to them. They wanted me to feel better, because my depression was “catching”, or somehow made them feel anxious or guilty. It wasn’t about my feelings; it was about theirs. Then, when I felt better, they could go back to not caring anymore. I now realize those feelings aren’t really accurate. But that’s how they seemed when I was depressed.

I guess that’s what really bugs me about those kinds of posts. They make sense when you’re mentally well or not in a desperate situation where it seems like things are really bleak. They don’t make sense when you’re not thinking clearly. I liken depression to a thick, heavy, dark burka… stifling, uncomfortable, exhausting, and opaque. It’s hard to see beyond the thick, suffocating folds of the burka, how life can be “beautiful” and “amazing” some time in the future. When you’re buried in the thick layers of depression, you can’t imagine anything beyond that heavy cloak of despair. At least in my case, no amount of someone telling me how amazing life is was going to make me understand or believe it.

Trite statements against suicidal ideation make it seem so easy to just “get over it”. It’s like the person who wrote it says, “I know you feel like shit on a daily basis and things seem hopeless and aren’t getting any better, but I ‘care’ and I want you to keep living, even though you’re in pain. Life is beautiful!” And then, feeling good about themselves, they go away while the depressed person is just sitting there thinking “WTF”. Is that person really going to be there to help walk another person out of despair? I know some people will do it, especially if it’s their job, but in my experience, most people won’t. When it comes down to it, a person has to have the will and the energy to take care of themselves, and some people don’t have either of those qualities.

What if life is truly not beautiful? You say you “care”, but you’re just someone on social media. Could I really call you in the middle of the night when I’m feeling especially desperate or despondent? Would you really want to hear from me when I’ve got the non-stop tapes running in my head, telling me how futile living is and how rotten I am? In the case of my friend who posted that status, maybe I could… if I had her phone number, which I don’t. We live in different time zones, anyway. For a lot of other people, I doubt I would take them seriously and I know that if I did call them, they’d be annoyed.

Life got better for me when I started taking the right antidepressant. Four days after my first dose, my mood improved markedly. I started feeling like the burka was loosening until it finally fell off. I was able to make plans and get out of the situation I was in that had me feeling so down and helpless. I continued treatment for the time I was in graduate school, then within a couple of years of graduation, stopped taking antidepressants. I literally don’t feel the way I used to. I still get depressed and anxious, but it’s not that heavy, dull, stifling burka. It’s more like an ill fitting windbreaker. It’s like my body chemistry is permanently changed. But that’s how it is for me. I was very, very lucky. I don’t know if that’s how it would be for someone else, and I can’t judge them for the way they feel, since I am not living their lives and I’m not in their circumstances.

Yes… although sometimes life really may not be worth living. I respect that possibility, too.

I also don’t like it when people ask suicidal people to live for someone else. I think suicidal people have enough guilty feelings without being told that it’s their duty to keep living for another person. I might waver a bit on this if the suicidal person is a parent. After all, parents bring new people into the world, and they have a responsibility to see to their children’s care. But… even in those cases, I see suicide as more of a terminal event than a selfish act of self-pity. People die of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or any other manner of physical ailments. Depression is no different. I don’t see it as the “common cold” of mental illness. It’s more like a chronic disease, like diabetes or lupus. Unfortunately, sometimes people die of depression, just like they would any other disease.

There are many hurdles to getting over depression. First, there’s the idea of picking up the phone and calling a therapist. For me, that was the toughest part. I had to find one who could help me, and that seemed like a really daunting task. Fortunately, someone I knew at the time had a lot of experience with seeing mental health professionals. He recommended the psychologist who helped me feel better. I haven’t spoken to that guy in many years, but I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He may have even saved my life. He was one person who said he would help, meant it, and followed through with real assistance. But even with that recommendation for an excellent therapist, it took me weeks to make the phone call to arrange for my first appointment. I was terrified and mortified. I happened to call when the therapist was on his annual fly fishing vacation, so I had to wait two weeks.

Then there’s the idea of paying for therapy, which if you don’t have a lot of money, but you do have a lot of anxiety, can seem petrifying. I was lucky enough to be working at a job where I made good money, and I lived with my parents, who didn’t charge me rent. But if I weren’t in that fortuitous situation, it would have been much harder for me, especially since even with insurance (an individual policy I paid for with money from the job that had contributed to my depression), the medications I needed were very expensive. Also, I had never used civilian health insurance before, so I wasn’t sure what the process was. That’s a skill they really should teach in high school– how to use health insurance and why it’s so important.

You have to work up the energy and commitment to try to get over depression… and when you’re feeling apathetic and worthless, it hardly seems worth the bother. So… I guess, when I read a trite statement by a well meaning person reminding me that “life is beautiful” and “someone cares”, it just seems kind of dismissive and maybe even a little bit rude, especially when we live in a country where lawmakers don’t want to help people who need to be helped. People talk about wanting to prevent suicide… or abortion… but when it comes down to it, they don’t want to take action that would make choosing life more feasible. Instead, a lot of people would rather just toss the mentally ill into prison or condemn them for being lazy or self-centered.

I’m going to segue briefly, because I recently came across something not akin to depression or suicide, but still kind of illustrating my point. A couple of days ago, I read about a woman named Jamie Jeffries, who claims to be pro-life. She posted on Facebook about how she’d talked a mom out of having an abortion. Six months after the baby boy was born, CPS took him into their care due to neglect and abuse. The family put Jeffries down as the next preferred placement for the baby. Do you know what Ms. Jeffries’ reaction was to that? Have a look…

Mmmmkay… so you feel just fine about talking a woman out of having an abortion, even though she was ill equipped to care for her baby. But when the shit went down, you were not willing to help her. Shame on you, Jamie.

I know a lot of people would ask why the mother didn’t put the baby up for adoption. Many people don’t consider how difficult that is. Just because the mother wasn’t ready to take care of a baby, that doesn’t mean she was prepared to give away her child. Maybe that would have been the more moral thing to do in some people’s eyes, but it might have still been impossible for her. It’s a lot to ask. Others would condemn the mother for having unprotected sex when she wasn’t ready to have a baby. So she made a mistake. Are you perfect? I don’t know what the circumstances were that put her in the situation she was in, but she’d already made up her mind and had come to the right conclusion that she wasn’t ready to be a mother. Then Jamie Jeffries tried to “help”.

Anyway… this piece isn’t about abortion, per se, nor is it really about suicide. It’s more about people making promises they can’t keep. It’s like Captain Lee on Below Deck saying “Your mouth just wrote a check that your ass can’t cash.” (he’s full of these kinds of profane sayings– I find them very funny) People often say they care and will help. But when it comes down to it, most of their “mouths write checks their asses can’t cash”. Where does that leave the person for whom they mean well?

I am always grateful to those who want to help and mean it. If you really mean it when you say a depressed person can call you day or night, then good on you. If you mean it that you’ll drive someone to a doctor’s appointment, listen to them cry, help them pay for their healthcare, and, if they’re pregnant and considering abortion, do what you can to help them care for their baby, then I have nothing but respect and admiration for you. But in my experience, most people who make these claims aren’t serious. So, when I see something like that posted on social media, I think it’s often more about them feeling better about themselves and looking noble than actually wanting to help someone in need. And that’s probably why I feel diminished and put off when I see those kinds of well meaning “feel good” statuses posted on social media.

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