Every time I think things can’t get any more ridiculous or absurd, someone or something proves me wrong. I never thought I’d watch my country move backwards so fast as I have since Donald Trump was unleashed to wreak havoc on our democracy. It’s bad enough that judges and politicians with no medical training whatsoever see fit to try to eliminate abortion access, as they also refuse to expand social safety nets and access to affordable healthcare and childcare. Now, we have people contemplating shutting down libraries!
A couple of days ago, I read a horrifying story about a rural county in Texas where people were contemplating shutting down the local library. Why? Because in April 2022, seven residents of Llano County, Texas dared to sue county officials, claiming their First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when 17 books were taken off the shelves because they were deemed “inappropriate”.
Some people in the community and local officials didn’t like the subject matter of the books, so access to them was either restricted, or they were removed from the library altogether. These folks no doubt felt they were “protecting the community” from books about race, gender, or sexuality. Obviously, being exposed to that information would only give people “ideas”, causing them to fall into “sin”. In case you missed my sarcasm, obviously, I believe that’s ludicrous. If that’s really how they feel, they probably ought to consider banning the Bible, too.
Some “thinking people” realized that it wasn’t right for certain conservative groups to decide for everyone else what subject matter was appropriate for their public library system. So they sued, and the judge saw things their way. On March 30, 2023, US District Judge Robert Pitman ordered the Llano County Library System to return the books to the shelves within 24 hours. According to CNN:
Books ordered to return to shelves include “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” by Jazz Jennings.
The judge also ordered that the books be listed as available in the library’s catalog. The books are not allowed to be removed for any reason while the case is ongoing. Pitman said, “Although libraries are afforded great discretion for their selection and acquisition decisions, the First Amendment prohibits the removal of books from libraries based on either viewpoint or content discrimination.”
Fair enough, right? The case went to court, and the judge decided. You’d think that would settle things for now, but no…
Rather than just complying with the judge’s orders, the defendants, who had argued that the books were removed as part of a regular “weeding process”, decided it would be better to just shut down the libraries for everyone.
They were pretty sneaky about it, too. They didn’t come out and say they were shutting the library down out of spite. They raised the idea on a recent agenda without naming a specific reason for closing the library. Instead, they described it as a discussion “regarding the continued employment and/or status of the Llano County Library System employees and the feasibility of the use of the library premises by the public.”
The Llano County commissioners and members of the Library Board have appealed the judge’s ruling. They don’t trust people in their community to decide for themselves what they should read, or what books their children should have access to reading. Interestingly enough, I’m certain the people who are for book banning and censorship would identify themselves as “freedom loving Americans.” And yet, they want to dictate to everyone else what should be available to be read in a taxpayer supported community library.
Fortunately, good sense has prevailed in Llano County, and for now, the library will stay open. Yesterday, the Commissioner’s Court unanimously voted to “shelve” discussion of defunding the library, at least for the time being. According to CNN:
“The library will remain open. We will try this in the courts, not through social media or the news media,” Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said Thursday.
That is a sensible comment, indeed, although the commissioners vowed to continue to fight the lawsuit demanding the permanent return of the books. They are obviously terrified that by reading about race issues, LGBTQ topics, or other “controversial” subject matter, the innocent youth of Llano County will veer from the straight and narrow path of respectability. What a bunch of embarrassingly ignorant bullshit that is! As if people willingly choose to be completely different from their peers, so they’ll be mocked, persecuted, or even physically assaulted or killed for simply living their lives!
According to CNN:
In the public comment section of the meeting prior to the vote, 15 residents were allowed to give their opinions about closing the library. Eleven of them were in favor of keeping the library open. Another four said they wanted to temporarily close the library until a wide variety of books were removed from the system – substantially more than the 17 books at question in the lawsuit.
Still, Cunningham insists that the books were removed due to a regular “weeding” process, not because of their controversial subject matter. And to that, I say again… BULLSHIT. 😉 I don’t believe that those books– every one of which had controversial subject matter– all just happened to come up for “weeding” at that specific point in time.
Cunningham also stated in the CNN article that the idea of closing the library came up because of the cost of litigation.
“A public library simply cannot function if its librarians, county judge, commissioners and even the volunteers who serve out of the goodness of their heart, can be sued every time a library patron disagrees with a librarian’s weeding decisions,” he said.
Cunningham said the lawsuit has cost the county more than $100,000 and the total library budget is $450,000.
Well then… if county officials want to avoid litigation, they shouldn’t try to weed out books that all have to do with certain “taboo” topics. People sue when they feel like they’ve been treated unfairly. Treat everyone fairly, and with consideration for their rights, and most of the time, you won’t be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. It costs money to sue people, and it takes time. Most people don’t sue others just because it’s “fun”.
Personally, I’m grateful to Americans who aren’t taking the insane extremist actions of political conservatives lying down. Republicans have gone way too far in the era of Trump. Their ideas are not what the majority of Americans want for the country. I see and hear them bandying about the importance of the Constitution (especially the Second Amendment), but they don’t seem to realize that the Constitution is for every American. It’s not just for straight, White, conservative leaning males who have money.
I don’t use libraries much myself these days. I prefer to just buy whatever I want to read. However, there were many times in my life when having access to a library was a Godsend. Libraries should be safe, sacred places for people to expand their minds and access the information they want and need.
No group on either side of the political spectrum should have ANY right to dictate what is, or what is not, appropriate reading material for everyone else. And yes, that goes for the extreme leftists, too, who feel like they need to edit and censor classic books to suit our more “modern thinking”. That’s not cool, either.
Years ago, I got hooked on the old comedy show, Mad TV. I still laugh at some of the hilarious and decidedly not politically correct skits and sketches they did on that show. One that is sticking out in my head this morning is “That’s My White Mama”. That sketch was a parody of the 70s sitcom, That’s My Mama, which was about a single Black guy whose “tart tongued and opinionated mother” wanted him to settle down and get married.
That’s My Mama aired 39 episodes from 1974-1975. I was two years old in 1974, and we moved to England in 1975, so I didn’t see the show when it originally aired. I do remember there were reruns in syndication, but I never actually watched more than an episode or two. I probably would have liked it. My mom told me that when I was very young, the only show I liked on TV was Good Times.
I am old enough to remember That’s My Mama, and years ago, I got the joke when comedian Artie Lange created his parody of that show. Again, I didn’t see it when it originally aired, because I was in Armenia. But I saw the reruns.
As I’m thinking about that sketch, I’m also reading about Artie Lange’s life. He’s yet another funny man who’s experienced a lot of sadness and tragedy in his life. It seems like some of the most hilarious people have the saddest real life stories. Lange has struggled with drug addiction, run ins with the police, poor academic performance, mental health issues, physical health issues, and a father who became a quadriplegic after he fell off a ladder and broke his back. It’s amazing that even in the wake of so many personal struggles, Lange was still able to be funny.
Yesterday, I wrote about how Ex has apparently had a very difficult time letting her adult children spread their wings and fly out of the nest. I mentioned how, when younger daughter got married, Ex repeatedly called and texted her during her honeymoon. There younger daughter was, probably doing certain things for the very first time, and Ex was interrupting her with invitations to go swimming and eat pizza. That was just one of many revelations we heard about; there were many others and, of course, I’ve been observing for over 20 years. This is a “mama” who doesn’t want her children to live their own lives on their own terms.
This morning, I noticed that Ex was back on Twitter. Someone was trying to organize a group trip to Scotland for all the Twitter folk who like to watch Outlander. Naturally, Ex, who has made no secret about her “dream” of visiting Scotland, expressed a desire to participate. A bunch of people– mostly women, from what I can see– seem very excited about the prospect of the event.
This would really be amazing although I feel like a wallflower already… I think I’d feel like one in person, as well.
Bill told me that he and Ex rarely went to “nice” restaurants, because Ex felt uncomfortable in them. They also couldn’t afford to dine in nice places, because Ex was constantly buying stuff– everything from depression glass to new cars– off of Bill’s single paycheck.
When the organizer said she should “save her pennies” to afford the trip, Ex wrote:
Yes but how many?!?! I’ve got three autistic children and desperately need other things, a computer, a car, acting scholarships for my daughter… how could I possibly?!?!
Um… she has five children, four of whom are legal adults, and two of whom are married, and have their own families in other states. Her youngest is 16 years old. He has severe autism, and obviously needs his mother’s help, which he actually gets from Bill’s older daughter. The other two “autistic children” are adults, and they both function well enough to go to college. One of the “children” she writes of is my husband’s 31 year old older daughter, who is reportedly in graduate school, so Ex can sponge off of her student loans.
I also find it interesting that Ex includes needing “acting scholarships for her daughter (who is supposedly also an autistic ‘child’)” as her responsibility. Especially when we learned that Ex’s eldest child actually won a scholarship to an acting school in New York City, but Ex sabotaged it. Now she wants her youngest daughter to find an acting scholarship in Scotland? What if she actually did find one? Would Ex let her go without trying to fuck the whole thing up for her?
Another poster wrote this:
I hope I can make it. I am still not working. I really want to go. And I haven’t even got my passport yet so that’s gonna take some time being out of work is not fun but my rotator cuff injury dictate what I do at this point.
Seems to me that if this person (who is not Ex) has this many obstacles, she should probably not plan on going and focus on improving her situation so she can make realistic plans. I only included her response, though, because Ex followed up with this comment:
I’m with you! I’m about to have surgery on my ankle/Achilles tendon!! Ugh…
And when I read this, I couldn’t help but remember Artie Lange’s funny parody. I said to Bill, “Does she need surgery because she broke her foot off in one of her children’s asses?” In all seriousness, it doesn’t surprise me to hear that she needs surgery. She broke her foot when she and Bill were married, because she was gardening with bare feet. I’ll bet it’s the same ankle that is causing her issues now.
Ex’s final statement on this event, upon learning that tickets to the event in Scotland were “limited”, was this:
Oh Lordy… tickets limited and everything eh? I’m guessing no room for wallflowers after all?
Hmmm… a ploy for sympathy, perhaps? Or some other “pity play”, as H.G. Tudor would put it?
I suppose I’m glad to read that she’s not making plans to go to Scotland, in spite of having so many needs. In the past, she would have just gone, regardless. One time, she went on a trip to an LDS temple, instead of paying the mortgage on the house that she and Bill once owned, and she eventually let go into foreclosure. She claimed the Lord would provide, as she went to the temple, where she claimed that Heavenly Father would not let her spend her life alone. This was a very typical response she had to any serious responsibility she had– the Lord will provide… or maybe more accurately, someone else can be guilted or suckered into taking care of the problem. It never seems to occur to her that her actions have consequences that affect people far and wide. Her choice to go to the temple, rather than pay her mortgage, helped cause the house to go into foreclosure, which affected Bill, and by proxy, also affected me. And I’ve never even met this bitch in person!
I can see that Ex doesn’t care too much about flying anymore, either. One of the excuses she gave Bill for not allowing us to have visits with his daughters was that she was terrified of letting them fly, due to terrorism and the prospect of them dying in a plane crash. I guess she’s over that fear now, since it no longer suits her purposes. 😉 Of course, the real reason she didn’t want them to visit was because she couldn’t stand to allow them out of her sphere of influence, and she was afraid they might want to live with us instead of her and #3. She couldn’t bear the idea of them bonding with their other parent, and getting a break from her relentless ploys for attention and demands for complete obedience and control.
I realize that Ex is mentally ill, and she has real issues that stem from her own traumas. However, I also know that Ex is fully aware that her behaviors are wrong. How do I know? Because she doesn’t let that extreme “control freak” side of her show on social media. Based on what she puts out for public consumption, she’s a devoted mom, and super friendly and “cool”. If you know the truth about her, though, you realize that this is an elaborate facade, designed to recruit new victims.
It also occurs to me that the person who is organizing this event to allow online friends to meet offline is really opening herself up to potential exploitation. But then, I guess one does that whenever one meets someone in person. You just never know what lurks beneath the surface of a person’s outer layer. By all superficial appearances, Ex is a very “normal” person. But the reality is, she’s anything but normal. She has raised four of her five children to adulthood, but she’s still clinging to them and using them to form an identity. She’d like them to treat her like a child and give her that idyllic childhood era back. But she’d also like to be in charge, call all the shots, make all of the decisions about money, and have the ability to kick people out of the house and lure them back in at will…
Younger daughter briefly mentioned that Ex did kick her out of the house once. But then, when younger daughter got married, she wanted to intrude on her honeymoon and get her and her new husband to move back to where she lives… perhaps even in the same house! All I can think of is that it’s a miracle that younger daughter is so functional and sane, given what she’s been through in her life. She truly is a model of resilience.
Well… I’ve probably gone on enough about this. I never got around to practicing guitar yesterday, so I think I’ll log off and tend to that. Besides… I spend too much time fascinated by Ex. Don’t want her to break her foot off in my ass.
The featured photo comes from our new lighting projector… Isn’t it pretty?
We had quite an interesting weekend. It was our first in over twenty years without a beagle in the house. I miss Arran’s presence already. His presence was a constant, because he clung to us. He wanted to be with us all the time. Now, there’s an empty space on the Zane memorial rug, and no one is waiting to help me dry off after a shower. Noyzi only visits on occasion, when he wants something or is curious about a Dodo video on YouTube. I swear, Noyzi used to be terrified of the television, but now he LOVES watching animal videos. It doesn’t matter what kind of animal it is, either. Somehow, he just knows when there’s a critter on TV, and he wants to watch it. I’ve found that turning on animal videos is one of the best ways to summon him.
We went out twice, which we used to do all the time, but had gotten out of the habit of because of COVID-19 and Arran’s cancer. We are slowly getting more acquainted with Wiesbaden, which is crazy, since we’ve now lived here longer than we’ve lived anywhere else in our marriage. But again– the craziness of the past three years has caused us to be somewhat delayed in getting to know our environs.
I notice that today is the 20th, which is also the day three years ago, when we tried to adopt a new dog and failed spectacularly. I don’t want to dwell on that memory. I almost wonder if Arran’s recent passing wasn’t a way to help us forget about that tragic incident that ended in an innocent dog’s untimely death and a lawsuit… which fortunately didn’t directly involve us.
We also talked to Bill’s younger daughter a bit. Every time we talk to her, I’m alternately stunned by how kind and bright she is about some things… and how “stunted” she is in other ways. We shared some more with her about how Bill and I got together, and my mom’s hometown, Buena Vista, Virginia, which is where Southern Virginia University is. My mom is an alum of Southern Seminary, which is what SVU was before it was taken over by LDS businessmen. I explained to younger daughter that I knew the wife of one of the businessmen who started the LDS version of my mom’s alma mater. I didn’t get too far into it, but I suppose it will eventually come out about how the invasion of Mormons kind of changed the local culture. Maybe it’s for the better, as that area used to be pretty depressed, although it was, and still is, also beautiful.
Younger daughter talked about her decision to go west for college. Ex had been vehemently against it. She brought up all sorts of “reasons” why it was a bad idea for younger daughter to go far away for college. She had wanted her to stay in New England, live at home, and commute to college.
Younger daughter said she used to think her mom was “worried” about her, but now she knows she just wanted younger daughter around to take care of her and provide income in the form of college loan money. I caught a look of bemusement on younger daughter’s face as she spoke of older daughter, who still lives with Ex and takes care of their youngest sibling, who has severe autism. Older daughter is back in school, and younger daughter said something along the lines of, “My mother doesn’t care that my sister is $100,000 in debt. It’s not her name on the loans. She just wants someone around to take care of her and relieve her of her responsibilities.”
I couldn’t help but practically explode as we were responding to younger daughter. I told younger daughter that although I barely know her, I was so proud of her for having the guts to chart her own course. What she did took a lot of courage and determination. She made decisions that led her out of years of misery and practical “slavery”, borne out of fear, obligation, and guilt. Younger daughter is stunningly astute, as she tells us about how her mother uses guilt to maintain control of her adult children.
We learned that when younger daughter had her wedding, Ex couldn’t leave her alone, even when she was on her honeymoon. She tried to get younger daughter and her husband to move back east. And while younger daughter was hours beyond taking her vows, Ex was sending her constant texts, trying to get her to go to the hotel where they were all staying and go swimming and eat pizza.
Ex complained bitterly, even when ex stepson (Ex’s eldest) and his wife temporarily moved to the east and were living just an hour away. They weren’t close enough. They didn’t come by often enough. She wanted them to live in her home with her, even though it meant NINE people under one roof… in a house that couldn’t accommodate them.
On the surface, it sounds like Ex “loves” her kids too much, but I think she just wants an army of people who will do the work for her. She wants people to control, and is constantly trying to guilt her kids into taking care of her fifth child, who will almost certainly have to move into a “home” at some point.
Then she said something that really surprised me. She said that Ex, who had been trying to discourage younger daughter from going to a LDS owned college, found her daughter with #3 “annoying”. And #3’s daughter wanted to go to a school close to home, where she could be with her friends from high school (high school was a privilege denied to Bill’s daughters– Ex made them drop out and be “homeschooled”, and didn’t allow them extracurricular activities other than going to church). Ex wanted her to go out west, and live near younger daughter. I wonder if that was because she was hoping to influence younger daughter somehow, via her younger sister. Or does she really want that distance? The whole thing is so bizarre. The kids all had such different and inconsistent upbringings. The only thing they all had in common was chaos.
Ex also made a comment about how her eldest son went to jail… It was probably just an arrest in which he spent a night in jail, due to being busted for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She suggested that younger daughter might do the same thing! And here’s younger daughter, who is very sweet, innocent, responsible, and religious. Of course she wasn’t going to experiment with drugs! Naturally, that was just an excuse to keep her from launching and living her own life as a capable adult.
The more I hear about this stuff, the more impressed I am with younger daughter’s resilience and resolve. She is amazing. And I can see that she is determined to give her own children a better childhood than what she had. She pointedly said that she doesn’t want her children to be burdened with having to take care of their severely autistic uncle. Then, she added, “half-uncle”.
As someone who also grew up in “chaos”, albeit that of a different sort, my heart goes out to Bill’s daughter. I don’t know what it was like for her to grow up with Ex as her mom, but I do know what it’s like to have a mentally ill parent who is hyper-controlling one minute, and batshit nuts the next. And I know what it feels like to have a parent who seems to want to maintain that familial connection and control as they also do things that are extremely repellant and violate boundaries. Calling your newly married adult child while she’s on her honeymoon? What the actual fuck!!!
All I can do is shake my head…
I might be tempted to write about this on RfM, but I think after that very unpleasant exchange I had there the other day, I might have to look elsewhere for support. Or maybe I’ll just write about it here. It’s probably just as effective.
I have come to realize that I really don’t like controlling people… but I especially can’t abide overbearing, all knowing, overly helpful women. I think it’s because they remind me too much of my sister. That makes me sad, too, because I would like to have better relations with my family. I would like to be close to people, other than Bill. But I can’t seem to get there… and every time I try, it ends in disaster. So here I sit, thousands of miles away, feeling “divorced” from my own family, just as Bill divorced Ex and his kids to save his own sanity. Maybe that’s why we get along so incredibly well.
I still thank Ex every day for “dumping” Bill. He makes me very happy. I think, after we have a vacation, we’ll start looking for another dog who will hang out with me and make me feel less isolated and alone.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might know that I’m a big fan of Dr. Les Carter’s excellent YouTube channel, Surviving Narcissism. This channel, which he runs with narcissistic abuse survivor, Laura Charanza, is all about healing from narcissistic abuse. I’ve read and reviewed several of Les Carter’s books, and Bill and I have both gained insight from watching his videos. Dr. Carter has a calm, friendly, reassuring demeanor, and while I don’t know if he’s still engaged in private practice in Texas, I do know that he’s helped so many people by being available on YouTube.
All of the recent drama involving the Duggar family has really caused me to reflect on the real damage that narcissistic parents do to their children. While it’s impossible to know when Josh Duggar really started going off the rails, or whether or not his deviant attraction to harming children is something natural or nurtured, what is very clear to me is that Josh and his siblings no doubt suffered abuse from their parents. It’s easy to see that Jim Bob Duggar has narcissistic proclivities. He clearly runs that family like his own mini cult, and there are a lot of conditions set upon the children. The ones who don’t toe Jim Bob’s line are pretty much cast out of the family.
Jim Bob has a public persona that is carefully crafted to fool people. He comes off as “nice”, albeit very much in charge. But behind closed doors, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s got a very different personality. And children who grow up under the control of someone as controlling as Jim Bob clearly is, will definitely struggle as they become adults. The public can see this phenomenon in action as the oldest Duggar children are breaking free of Jim Bob’s mini cult. I noticed that Joy Anna Forsyth appeared to be extremely distraught last week during Josh’s trial. It was as if she was finally learning some truths that she found overwhelming and upsetting. But I think it’s important to understand that she grew up in a family system in which information was tightly controlled and filtered. And now, she’s realizing that she’s been kept in the dark and fed a lot of shit for years.
Yesterday, Dr. Carter visited an interesting topic on his channel. The video, titled “How Narcissists Transfer Their Pain Onto Their Children” really hit home for me as I watched it this morning. All of the familiar tactics narcissistic parents use to desperately maintain control of their children were spelled out in Dr. Carter’s video. Then, he explains, in a comforting and kind way, that adult children have the power to make changes. They can make their own choices, even if it feels like they can’t. They just need to find the courage to do it. It’s not unlike the discovery Dorothy makes in The Wizard of Oz, when she’s told that all she has to do to go home again is click her heels three times. She always had the power. She just had to find the courage to use it.
Of course, making adult choices means living like an adult. And that can be extremely hard to do when you’re an adult child of a narcissist. First off, children who are raised by narcissists are never taught healthy ways to enforce boundaries. They are subjected to abuse, which can encompass everything from verbal rages to physical blows, as well as mind games, threats, and using other people to promote agendas. I would imagine that in a family like the Duggars, there were plenty of mind games played– tactics meant to keep everyone off balance and unsure of their place. Children who grow up with that kind of a family system never learn to trust themselves, and after awhile, they become numb to the abuse, which only sets them up for more of the same treatment.
Secondly, children who are raised by narcissists are taught that if they try to go their own way, they’re “disloyal”. Narcissistic parents are in a lot of pain, and misery loves company. So the narcissistic parent will do all they can to make the children feel like they can’t leave that system. They will try to make their children feel incompetent. If that doesn’t work, they will call into question their children’s love and loyalty. Children raised by narcissists who don’t become narcissistic themselves will feel guilty if they move away from that system. Their parent(s) may accuse them of abandoning them or being disloyal. But one of the first things every child should learn is that they should always be loyal to themselves, first. And if changing is a healthy thing to do, they should be able to do it without being made to feel guilty.
Jim Bob Duggar controls his children– especially the adults– by holding things like money and housing over their heads. In the wake of Josh Duggar’s conviction, we’ve seen several of the children make statements. It’s very telling which of Jim Bob’s adult children are free of his financial constraints. They are the ones who are making it clear that they condemn Josh’s actions. The children who are still depending on Jim Bob have to be publicly loyal to him. They aren’t allowed to criticize their brother or their father. I am sure the most important Commandment to Jim Bob is “Honor thy Father and they Mother”– especially thy father. Katie Joy, of Without a Crystal Ball, covers this topic regarding the Duggars.
As many readers also know, my husband was married to a woman whom I very strongly suspect is a narcissist, and she has five children who have been subjected to her abuse. For years, my husband was prevented from speaking to his daughters. One of the daughters broke free from her mother’s grip and moved clear across the country from her. They are still on speaking terms, but it’s pretty obvious that she’s learning the truth about what happened. Likewise, Bill is also learning about what happened during the time he wasn’t in contact.
My husband’s older daughter still chooses to live with her mother. My guess is that she does it because she feels like she must. I think she’s been led to believe that she can’t survive on her own. But she also takes care of her profoundly autistic younger brother, because Ex doesn’t do it. I suspect that she might speak to Bill if circumstances were different. I met her, and she struck me as a very loving person. I think she mainly doesn’t connect with Bill because she knows that Bill is strong enough to survive. He isn’t alone. He’s got me, his mother, and his younger daughter. I think she might also fear facing up to the fact that she and her siblings have been controlled, lied to, and abused by their mother. I know from personal experience that recognizing that someone has abused you can lead to anger and depression. It’s not a nice feeling to realize that you’ve been victimized. I suspect that older daughter might wish to spare herself that pain.
Also, if older daughter was to leave her situation, her brother could suffer the consequences. It would legitimately cause serious problems for him, and for Ex, because older daughter reportedly does all of the work. It’s possible that she can’t live with the potential guilt of forcing her mother to take care of her own son. I think she also legitimately feels for her mother, too, even though she really should be focused on living her own life on her own terms. She’s an adult, though, and that is her choice to make. I just wish she understood that all she has to do is click her heels– pick up the phone– and there are people who would gladly help her get out of her predicament. Bill would be at the front of the line. Again– she should be loyal to herself before all others, because she is the only one who has to live with herself and her decisions.
I highly recommend Dr. Carter’s video to anyone who has known the pain of growing up with a narcissistic parent. Adult children of narcissists have been raised to believe that they aren’t their own people. They have been raised to act as objects– tools to be manipulated and used by their narcissistic parents. Children lack the ability to control what happens to them, but adults can deviate from the paths they are set upon. It just takes courage and some planning, and the knowledge that choosing one’s own path can be painful. I’m sure that Jim Bob’s adult children who aren’t kowtowing to him anymore are denied access to their younger siblings, who are still trapped in the Tinkertoy Mansion. With every passing day, total freedom is closer– because eventually narcissists lose their psychic fiefdoms. Either it crumbles very publicly, as it is for Jim Bob right now, or it ends because the narcissist eventually becomes incapacitated or dies.
No one should have to wait until the death of a narcissist to reclaim control of their lives. I would love to see some of the independent Duggar siblings completely break free and start their own family traditions, perhaps even with each other. There’s nothing to say that they have to tolerate control from their parents– or really, their dad. They’re adults, and those of them who don’t rely on Jim Bob’s money can do whatever they want, within legal boundaries, anyway. It doesn’t make them bad people to live their lives on their own terms, either. It makes them healthy adults.
Last night, I was on Facebook, reminiscing with fellow Longwood University graduates about a wonderful professor we all knew. In my case, she was the very first Longwood professor I met when I came to orientation during the summer of 1990. I was immediately impressed by her optimism and enthusiasm. She was friendly and fun and dynamic, and it was all 100% genuine. She really set an exciting tone for me during those early days at Longwood. I’ve never forgotten it, or her. She was the first of MANY excellent professors I had in college.
For many years, this professor taught speech and theater. I was an English major, but I had double minors in speech and communications, so I did end up having her for one of my classes. I always remember her to be a wonderful, kind, and energetic role model.
During my junior year at Longwood, I had this professor for a course called Interpersonal Communications. It was a large class, so after class began, she decided to split it into two sections. She wanted me to take the later section, which was co-taught by a teaching assistant. I had a conflict, though, because I was also taking voice lessons in the music department, and my lessons were scheduled during the time the other section was being held. Voice lessons were arranged privately between teacher and student. Obviously, my Interpersonal Communications professor had looked up everyone’s schedules, saw that I didn’t have another scheduled class, and figured she could just stick me in the other section.
I don’t remember why we did it this way, but I ended up attending both sections of the class. On the days I had my voice lessons, I went to the earlier session. On the other days, I went to the later class. It worked out fine, and I got an A in the class, although I wonder what would have happened if I’d had a job or some other commitment… but then, it was Farmville, Virginia in the early 90s, and jobs weren’t that plentiful in those days.
This professor’s class was always interesting. I remember she had people come in to speak to us. One day, a physical education professor, notorious for being a very tough grader, came in and told us about how he and his ex wife had lost a child to leukemia. I didn’t have this P.E. professor myself, but I remember my friends talking about how difficult his class was. When I heard his tragic story about how he’d lost a child and it ruined his marriage, I saw him in a very different light.
The professor also told us a lot about herself, and her history. I distinctly remember her talking about her first husband, the father of her sons, and how he was a severe alcoholic. My father was an alcoholic, so I empathized a lot with her story about her ex husband. One day, I wrote in a paper about my father and this professor gifted me with an insightful book about how to deal with alcoholics. I ended up passing it on to my mom, and she was so very grateful, because the book was helpful to her. I also remember going to this professor’s home one Saturday, along with the rest of our class, and being treated to a wonderful home cooked brunch. I still remember her delicious breakfast casserole.
Suffice to say… I have some very warm and fuzzy memories of this professor, and my college, where I got an excellent education in a supportive environment, and found so many lifelong friends. The professor is still living, but is currently in a nursing home/assisted living housing. Her health is declining. So we were all in this Facebook group, remembering her, and I was really enjoying all of the stories and memories… Someone shared her mailing address so people who love her can send cards to her.
And then, he showed up…
There’s one in every crowd, isn’t there? That person who just has to come in and shit on everything. That person who has to break wind in the middle of a room where there’s nothing but good vibes, sunshine, and fresh air. I’ll call him Dick, because frankly, that’s what he is. But that’s not his real name.
I kind of knew Dick when we were students at Longwood. We were both involved with the radio station. It was an activity I had really enjoyed and had a knack for doing. My junior year, someone nominated me for music director of the station. Dick was also nominated. He had ambitions to work in radio. I probably did too, although I don’t have the same kind of overbearing, domineering personality that Dick has.
I remember that Dick had rather forcefully inserted himself in the business at the radio station. He used to lecture everyone about the FCC regulations, warning the disc jockeys about not playing music with swear words, lest we get a “$50,000 FINE!”. I don’t remember why he was lecturing people, as at the time this was happening, he didn’t have any kind of official authority. We were all volunteers anyway.
I also remember that he was constantly ordering people to play new music instead of whatever they wanted to play on their shows. A lot of the music he wanted people to play, quite simply, sucked. But he was bound and determined to be in charge, and was trying to force everyone to do things his way, even though the station only had ten watts of power and could only be heard within a six mile radius of the school. He wanted to take over, come hell or high water.
I remember that Dick set his sights on vanquishing me in our mutual bid to be music director. He harassed me when I was on the air and complained about me to the station manager. He got his male radio station friends to gang up on me, even blatantly getting them to publicly endorse him during our meetings. His friends were popular and into music, but they were otherwise slackers who didn’t really give a shit about their educations.
I had worked very hard at radio, taking time slots for shows that no one else wanted. At one point, I was on the air from midnight to four in the morning on Saturdays. I did those shows because I truly loved radio, even though I’m not naturally a night owl and people weren’t always listening at that hour.
And then Dick came in and RUINED it. I have not forgotten that, nor, if I’m honest, can I say that I’ve forgiven him for being such an insufferable control freak and shitting on an activity I enjoyed so much. I’m not very good at forgiveness.
I couldn’t stand Dick, and since I was not as resilient or assertive back then as I am now, I ended up quitting the radio station so I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. I regret that I did that now. In fact, even then I hated to do it. Unfortunately, once the radio station was overtaken by Dick and his cronies, I just couldn’t stomach it, or him.
Of course, today I would politely tell Dick to go fuck himself. Therapy is a good thing.
I never forgot Dick…
So last night, there we were, posting our memories about this beloved Longwood professor. In comes Dick.
Do you know what that asshole did? He related a story of his own about the professor. He’d had her for a class. Because she was a very caring and engaged teacher, one day she pulled him aside and asked him why he wasn’t participating in class. And Dick wrote that he told the professor he’d already read all the books she’d assigned when he was still in high school. He related this story in a smug, superior way, as if we should be impressed.
Then, to the rest of us, he wrote that Longwood isn’t a prestigious school like the University of Virginia or Rutgers University (Dick is from New Jersey). And that none of his employers ever cared that he went to Longwood.
Before I knew it, I posted “You were a total jerk in the 1990s, and I can see that nothing has changed.”
Someone else asked him what he was doing in the group, since he had such disdain for Longwood. Clearly the rest of us love the school, even if it’s not the most prestigious university. And, actually, Longwood is a pretty good school, especially for teachers, although there’s a lot more to a good college experience than reputation and acceptance rates. My husband, Bill, is a graduate of American University, which is a well-known, prestigious school. But he marvels all the time about the wonderful experience I had at Longwood, and the fact that I still know professors and fellow graduates almost thirty years post graduation.
Dick’s self-congratulatory post about how “above” Longwood he is, especially in a thread about a wonderful teacher, was bad form and totally out of place. It reminded me of something Donald Trump would do.
Maybe Longwood isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic school for many people. Dick has no right to come in and take a dump on other people’s good memories about a beloved professor with his negative, pompous, arrogant bullshit.
Dick responded to me. He wrote, “I don’t remember you at all.”
I’m not at all surprised that he doesn’t remember me; and, in fact, I am relieved. So I wrote, “Good. I’m glad you don’t remember me. Let’s keep it that way.”
This morning, I noticed that Dick’s comments were deleted. I hope he got deleted from the Facebook group, too, since he obviously has such a low opinion of our alma mater. What a narcissistic asshole!
Although maybe it was wrong for me to call Dick a “jerk”, it was obviously something he needed to hear. Or maybe it was just something I needed to tell him. I know I wasn’t the only person who couldn’t stand him back in the day. Based by the reactions he got last night, I’ll bet I wasn’t the only person who was shocked by his comments about our teacher. I’m sure a lot of people were suffering in silence.
Obviously, Dick hasn’t matured beyond who he was thirty years ago. But I have done a lot of growing… and I have Longwood, in part, to thank for that. It’s too bad Dick wasted his time at such an “inferior” school for his prodigious “gifts” and “talents”. Wish he’d gone somewhere else.
And now for a somewhat related segue about narcissism and how the universe allows us to fix recurring situations…
Bill and I have both noticed that sometimes, the universe gives you a way to fix wrongs from the past. Last night, I got a chance to tell “Dick” that he’s a jerk. I wouldn’t have ordinarily called him a jerk. Ordinarily, I would have used more profane language. But, because I was commenting in a thread about a wonderful Longwood professor, I decided to keep my comments rated PG. Yea for self-control! That’s something of which impulsive narcissists don’t have much!
Bill and I have had a lot of dealings with narcissists. Each time we deal with someone who is narcissistic or has a “high conflict personality”, we get better at handling or flat out avoiding their bullshit. Slowly, but surely, we’ve found ways to deal with difficult people more effectively, and in a healthier, more assertive manner.
It started with Bill’s ex wife. She is an extreme narcissist, and Bill’s years with her have severely affected us both. We still talk about her, although not nearly as much as we used to, since we’ve managed to process and completely recover from the damage she wrought on Bill. She still comes up today, though, because Bill has been talking to his younger daughter. Bill’s daughter is still extremely affected by her mother’s narcissism. She still talks to her mom, so she still gets injured by her. And then there’s all those years she spent growing up with her mom treating her like a possession/servant, rather than a separate human being who should have been allowed to be a child.
Bill and his younger daughter were kept apart for many years, so every time they Skype, they have a lot of ground to cover. The Ex inevitably comes up in every conversation… and with every conversation, new and shocking things are revealed. Last night, as I was reeling from “Dick’s” nerve, Bill was hearing the latest about his ex wife, and how she continues to use and abuse the people closest to her– especially the people she’s birthed. And she apparently HATES #3, but stays with him, because otherwise she’d either go on welfare or– horrors– be forced to work!
We really shouldn’t be shocked by Ex’s shenanigans, though. She’s just doing what all narcissists do. They behave in shockingly self-centered and inappropriate ways, leaving more reasonable and empathetic people with shaking hands and nausea, or maybe just a sick sort of amazement and head shaking at their incredible nerve.
I shouldn’t be so shocked when I hear stories about how, when Bill’s two daughters were growing up, they’d spend hours doing the laundry, folding and delivering the clean clothes. Ex would address the girls while looking at her cell phone. The piles of laundry would be sitting on her bed, and Ex would say, “Well, this is all fine and good, but you should be putting the clothes away for me, too.”
Younger daughter, to her credit, refused. She and Ex butted heads about a lot of things, because even though younger daughter is as kind and empathic as Bill is, she’s not a doormat. I saw this tendency in her when she was a child, and I remember telling Bill that I knew she and Ex would fight a lot as she came of age. At the time, I thought younger daughter was like her mother.
I knew she’d eventually get in touch with us, and I dreaded it, because I figured she’d try to manipulate us the way Bill’s former stepson had. But it turns out that, actually, younger daughter is a very good person who, underneath all of her empathy and kindness, has a backbone and a limit to what she’ll tolerate. And she very wisely got the hell out of her mother’s house as soon as she turned 18.
Unfortunately, older daughter is now 30 and still cleans her mother’s house, does the laundry, babysits her younger, severely autistic brother, and languishes with student debt that her mother forced her to take out and share the excess with the household. Older daughter doesn’t get along with the 18 year old daughter Ex has with #3, and she told Bill’s younger daughter that she was so happy because she’d gone into her sister’s room to change the sheets and suddenly realized her sister was at college.
Yes, it’s a shock that older daughter, who has a college degree and life skills, is still enslaved by her narcissistic mother and changing the sheets for her younger adult sister. But you get what you settle for, right? Ex’s daughter with #3 is allowed to go away to college, because she stayed in state, and Ex can exploit her student loans, just like she did with Bill’s daughters. But Ex didn’t want younger daughter to go to BYU… in fact, she even told younger daughter that she hadn’t turned out the way she was “supposed to”. She wasn’t supposed to go to BYU and marry a guy from Utah. She was supposed to stay close to Ex, so Ex could keep using her for doing chores and getting narcissistic supply.
Bill doesn’t mind talking to his daughter about Ex. They need to compare notes. That lessens Ex’s power, since younger daughter can get information for more credible sources than her mother, who lies and twists the truth to suit her agenda. Yes, it keeps Ex in our sphere, but we get better at dealing with her and laughing at her ridiculous antics, rather than getting upset by them. Just like last night, instead of suffering in silence when “Dick” stank up the room, I called him a jerk for hijacking our thread and making it about himself and his alleged superiority. Honestly… was he expecting us to be impressed by that? I’ll say it again. What a narcissistic asshole!
And, those of you who read my protected post from a couple of days ago, might also realize that I dealt with a similar troublemaker, who was stirring up shit in my wine group, by kicking her out and blocking her. I didn’t give her a chance to cause more trouble. She was literally making me feel physically ill with her toxic bullshit. So I kicked her out, dusted off my hands, and now, things are a lot more peaceful and stress free for me… and probably others who had suffered in silence.
I’m certainly not perfect. I have a lot of neuroses and complexes. I have a lot of hang ups that stem from my “troubled past”. I continue to work on them, though, and I think I’ve made some progress, even if it’s not always obvious to my readers or other people.
Maybe I shouldn’t have called “Dick” a jerk, but it sure felt good to do that, rather than suffer in silence. He needed to be called out for his self-important comments about how Longwood was “beneath him” and a kind, caring professor, who’d regarded him and her job enough be concerned about him, was “unworthy of teaching him”, since he was so well-read, skilled, and talented and belonged at a “better” school.
Likewise, I don’t have to suffer in silence regarding Ex… or toxic people in my wine group who don’t know how to behave like good citizens, rather than stirring up shit and sabotaging what I’ve built. There was a time when I might have let the troublemaker in my wine group shut me down, just as I once let Dick shut me down. But those days are over. I’ve evolved. Clearly Dick and his ilk are the same jerks they were 30 years ago.
And now, that we’ve learned and evolved, Bill and I can help younger daughter free herself from her mother’s craziness, too. What a good feeling that is.
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