Bill, Ex, family, Trump

Things are getting pretty surreal…

I’m not surprised that things are surreal… Trump is doing all he can to hold on to his power and people in his base are talking about taking extreme measures to keep him in power. And yet it’s very clear that Trump has lost the election and will be forced to leave the White House. Biden is projecting calmness and maturity and other world leaders are looking to him. News sources are showing less Trump more Biden as Trump continues to whine about non-existent fraud and refuses to cooperate with the transition. It feels a lot like breaking up with a narcissist.

To be clear, I never dated or married a narcissist. Bill did, and she employed similarly “nuclear” tactics on a much smaller scale. The damage was pretty extensive and extraordinary and the bitterness lasted for many years. It’s really only been in the last few years that things have started healing.

My husband spoke to his daughter the other night, just before we knew his dad had passed away. She wisely brought up the logistics of going to Ray’s funeral and how it won’t be possible for a lot of people who otherwise would have gone, mainly due to the raging global pandemic. This is a scenario we never could have foreseen even a year ago. I have been wondering how the inevitable funeral for Bill’s dad would happen. Now, it appears it will happen without Bill due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

Last night, Bill got an email from his daughter and she made it clear that she could now see how the explosion of her parents’ marriage had affected so many people. It didn’t have to be this way. I think younger daughter now sees more of the truth, which often happens as people grow up and their perspectives broaden.

The same is going on as Trump is forced to reckon with the realization that he has lost. I have read articles about how he’s now talking about a run in 2024. God help us! But I think it won’t happen because there are other people who want to run… people who hitched themselves to Trump’s star in a bid to further their own careers. And once Trump is cast out of power, he’s only going to find allies in true right wing nutjobs who continue to worship him despite his tantrums. This is what tends to happen to narcissistic types in the long run. They typically don’t have a pleasant end.

I am hoping the garden variety conservatives who supported Trump have had their eyes opened. I’ve seen a lot of people commenting on how “dirty” the Democrats are. I won’t argue with that point. Pretty much all politicians lie and make deals. It comes with the territory. But there are definitely degrees of depravity. I never saw Obama stoop to the levels that Trump has. I never even saw either of the Bushes doing that… or Bill Clinton. Trump is truly in a class by himself, and it’s alarming how much he has divided the people. It’s not unlike a really nasty divorce, complete with false accusations, DARVO, and gnashing of the teeth. It’s embarrassing and horrifying to watch, even from abroad.

Last night, I read a rather poignant opinion piece on CNN written by Richard L. Eldridge, a journalist whose family pretty much disowned him over his negative views of Donald Trump. I could really relate to what Mr. Eldridge wrote, especially these parts:

“Over our love-filled 50-year bond, you chose a hate-filled New York millionaire who has never spent a moment with you, cried with one of you when your dad died, hugged another of you at your mom’s funeral or otherwise cared about you.

I know his supporters, you included, see the version of Trump he claims to be. Here is who I see. A man under seemingly constant investigation while in office. A man who brags about grabbing women by their genitals. A man who — though he denies it — others say calls members of our military “losers” and “suckers.” A morally bankrupt, impeached and now lame duck President.

A man who refers to members of the press — my chosen profession for the past three decades — as “enemies of the people.” A man who mocks the disabled, who basks in the adoration of a crowd chanting his name as he engages in cruelty.”

This is what divorcing a malignant narcissist looks like. When you break up with one, they become very nasty. That’s stressful enough when it happens in a one on one relationship. It’s especially horrifying when the malignant narcissist happens to be a world leader who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. I suspect the coming days will be very scary and surreal, and I pray that people with decency and integrity do what is necessary to contain Trump and his minions before much more damage is done and we become a nation that is literally divided, much like my husband’s family was. If that happens, we most likely won’t be reuniting after fifteen years of silence.

As for my father-in-law… I really wish there was a way we could have been there for him and his wife. I am hoping the funeral can somehow be Zoomed or at least recorded for Bill. He truly adored his father, who was a man worth adoring. It’s breaking his heart that he can’t be at the funeral. At the same time, this morning he told me that he was glad he was with me instead of his ex wife, who would be making the whole thing about her and forcing Bill to calm her hysterics rather than giving him the support he needs and deserves.

I think America needs calmness, love, and support, too… It’s nice to see leaders of more sensible nations offering it to Biden in the hopes that we can all come together and live peacefully. I’m going to try not to be distracted by Trump’s tantrums or disturbed by the delusions of his base… but I can’t help but be very concerned about what’s going to happen before January.

Mary Trump talks frankly with Katie Couric about her uncle’s loss.
Standard
Ex, psychology

D.A.R.V.O.

Now that Labor Day is over, it’s time to get back down to business. Labor Day is, after all, sort of the symbolic end of summer, even if technically summer ends the third week of September. I love this time of year for a lot of reasons, but I especially love it for the weather. Although it’s typically still really hot where I come from, September means that cooler temperatures are coming. In Germany, that means cool, crisp days, sometimes with sunshine, and sometimes without. And since COVID-19 has made traveling and going out such a pain in the ass, I look forward to weather that makes me want to be a hermit. Home is where I do my best thinking and ruminating.

This morning, I’m thinking about a neat little trick abusive people do whenever people call them out for being the assholes that they are. This toxic technique is super common, although if you’re not expecting it, it can take you by surprise. I’m writing about DARVO, which I have written about before. It’s one of those “chestnut” topics that is always useful. The term was coined in 1997 by Dr. Jennifer Freyd at the University of Oregon. It was traditionally used in situations involving sex offenders, but it works quite nicely in other situations, too. In fact, in my other article about DARVO, I pointed out that Donald Trump regularly engages in DARVO. South Park even made a plot about it. Bill Clinton also engaged in a bit of DARVO back in the 1990s, when he was called out for his sexual dalliances with Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones. Remember? He famously said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” regarding 21 year old Lewinsky, who was later painted as a whore and became the butt of many horrible jokes for years.

Um… yes, you did, Bill.

So what is DARVO? It’s an acronym that stands for DENY, ATTACK, REVERSE VICTIM and OFFENDER. Say you’re in an abusive relationship. You’ve been on the receiving end of verbal harassment for years and you’re just about at the point of accepting that you “deserve” the harassment somehow. Your abuser is quite certain that he or she has you under control. But then a little spark of self-preservation sneaks in. You listen to your abuser’s latest rantings and think, “Wait a minute! This isn’t really all my fault! The abuser did this, not me.”

So you raise an objection. You can raise it in a quiet, non-confrontational way, or you can be more assertive or even aggressive about it. The abuser suddenly realizes that a light is being shined on their bad behavior. Their lightning fast reflexes at deflection cause them to come back at you.

They can’t risk having you call them out on their bad behavior, and they are neither mature enough nor responsible enough to take ownership of their actions, so they vehemently deny your claims. Then they start attacking you, often with whatever accusations you have made toward them. That’s where the REVERSE VICTIM and OFFENDER part comes in. Suddenly, just as you were starting to take some control of your life, you’re back in the role of defending yourself against the abusive person.

Bill Cosby denies being a rapist.

This scenario has happened to me a lot over the years. Fortunately, I’m not as attractive to abusers as some people are, but I’ve still had to deal with it. I think a lot of us have, on some level. Many people have even engaged in this technique themselves at one time or another, but the decent among us try not to make a habit out of it. It really is a dirty trick– completely unfair and demoralizing– and those who are weak and don’t stand up for themselves soon stop having the courage to speak up when they are being mistreated, for fear that they’ll be the ones blamed.

When I met my husband, he was convinced that the failure of his first marriage was mostly his fault. As I got to know him, he started telling me the stories about what happened. The longer we knew each other, and the more I saw his good nature and extremely responsible character, I realized that he had been lied to and lied about to MANY people, even including people related to him. Unfortunately, his ex wife can be a convincing liar to those who don’t know her. She had people turning their backs on Bill, convinced that he is an abusive monster, even though most of them had never heard his side of the story. For a split second, she even had Bill’s own mother wondering if there was a grain of truth to her lies. Fortunately, Bill’s mom is very smart, compassionate, and kind, like her son is. She was the first to be on Bill’s side, advising him to divorce Ex.

Here’s what I know about Bill. Since we’ve been married– almost 18 years now– he has almost never raised his voice to me. He’s never even come close to raising a hand to me. He comes home every night when he’s not on a business trip. When he is on a business trip, he calls or emails and, in fact, he was faithful to his ex wife until the day their divorce was official. He has not missed paying a bill since we have been married, and when he has been responsible for doing or paying for something, he’s been quick to accept responsibility and do the right– and fair– thing.

Bill is widely known and well-respected in at least three military communities in Germany and one in Italy. When he had to change companies in 2017, he was the first one interviewed and hired for the company he works for now, and he would have been welcome to go work at any of the places he’s known in Europe. When we had to move in 2018 because his contractor job turned into a government position, Bill was specifically recruited by his current boss. He was also asked to become a government employee and stay on where he was working, but it would have meant accepting a lot less money for the work he was doing. He’s a valuable asset to his employer and is regarded as an excellent employee. He’s extremely easy to work with, hardworking, honest, and very well-liked.

However, just like Ex, someone has spread a different narrative about Bill. This person has falsely accused him (or really us) of all sorts of nefarious bullshit. Some of their claims are flat out ridiculous and easily debunked. This came about when Bill objected to being ripped off of a substantial amount of money. Their first approach was shaming us, with a little pinch of trying to make us feel sorry for them. When that didn’t work, there was denial, attacking, and bald faced lies. Somehow, my super responsible, kind, honest, fair-minded husband was being portrayed as an actual thief and vandal because this person felt entitled to rip him off and assumed that he wouldn’t object. Apparently, they forgot that war is literally Bill’s business. It’s how he makes a living.

We don’t actually miss the money, but we can’t, in good conscience, let them get away with stealing from us. Letting them take that money doesn’t just affect us; it affects other people, too. So we reported them and called in the law, which led to the DARVO attack. I’m now patiently waiting for justice, because I know we are in the right. But that doesn’t mean that the DARVO attack hasn’t left me stung and very angry.

I am angry on many levels, and at several people who were involved in this situation. I am angry with myself for tolerating the abuse for as long as we did and for not going with my gut instinct, which told me to avoid these people in the first place. Trust me, I have learned a lesson. And I am angry at things beyond my control that are delaying our ability to move on from this fiasco and reclaim our lives.

I’d like to be able to write about this topic freely, but I can’t. Not yet. But there will come a day when I can.

Standard
narcissists, politicians, Trump

“Life is just one damned thing after another…”

A little mood music for this post… it seems kind of trite today, but I like the attitude.

Years ago, my older sister Becky played the above song for me. It’s called “Excuse Me”, and it was written and performed by Amy Arena, whose personality seems to be a lot like Becky’s. Much like Amy Arena, Becky is physically very small (much smaller than me), but she has a big personality… and an artistic temperament that people seem to love or hate. She has issues with authority figures. So do I, for that matter, but my authority issues aren’t as acute as hers are. I remember I was newly home from Armenia, and Becky told me she had this CD, which came out in 1995. We shared a hearty laugh over “Excuse Me”, which was enough of a hit that it actually has an official video. I was going to share the video, but only one person on YouTube uploaded it and it’s not of very good quality. But if you want to see it, you can search YouTube and there it is… and Amy Arena is there in all of her brash, bitter glory.

I liked “Excuse Me” enough that I went on Amazon and searched for Amy Arena’s album, which someone was selling used. I bought it and listened to the whole thing, which Becky had played for me when she first exposed me to “Excuse Me”. There’s another song on there called “Cheeseburger”. It reveals Amy Arena’s lack of singing prowess… although the lyrics are clever and funny. Becky doesn’t eat a lot of meat, so I know she relates to this song as it describes a vulgar cheeseburger in nauseating detail. Amy Arena is making a statement about how gross and out of control some people are… and how gross meat is if you don’t like meat. And frankly, I wish I weren’t a meat eater, because it is pretty gross. Maybe I’ll be a vegan in the next life. This bit doesn’t have anything to do with the theme of this post, other than to get the musically inclined to listen to Amy Arena’s cynical wit.

My sister is very petite and, if you don’t know her, you might think she’s cute, quiet, and shy. But get her going, and you’ll soon find out that there is a lot more than pussy in those “tight fittin’ jeans”. Bwahahahha… I’m kidding. Quoting my pervy friend, Weird Wilbur, whom I “met” on YouTube. Wilbur remade Conway Twitty’s song, “Tight Fittin’ Jeans” and turned it into a song about a man who gets more than he bargained for when he had casual sex with a woman he met at a bar. Becky doesn’t have any diseases that I know of, but she does have a quick wit and sharp mind, and she can be fierce if you tangle with her. I know this from experience. She’s tiny, but mighty, and you don’t want to fuck with her.

No, Becky isn’t like the “gal” in this song, except that she’s not what she seems… I can relate. I’m not what I seem to be, either. I’m sharing this song because I think it’s funny… but the truth is, there is always more than pussy in those tight fittin’ jeans. Not that I wear tight fittin’ jeans these days…

I suspect yesterday’s blog post, which I titled “We wish you would just leave”, might be considered “click bait” for some people. I can see by the stats that some people clicked it just because they wanted to know why I titled the post, “We wish you would just leave”. It’s a title that sounds dramatic, and I know I have some readers out there who imagine that I’m the type of person who gets asked to leave a lot of places. I suspect I have some readers who were even salivating at the idea, because some of them seem to think that I’m always the source of trouble. Some of them might even be hoping I’ll be asked to leave Germany. And here’s a hint… if that ever does happen, I’m probably not going to be telling you about it. Here’s another hint. You clearly don’t know me as well as you think you do, but I probably know you better than you realize.

The only time I remember specifically being asked to leave somewhere was back in the early 1990s, when I was about to be interviewed for a job with United Consumers Club. I was newly graduated from college and had no idea what UCC, as it was called back then, actually was. I watched the presentation given by the proprietor and was kind of shocked and horrified by it. Basically, the job entailed cozying up to people at events and trying to talk them into joining an incredibly overpriced building materials and furniture “club” under the guise of saving money by being allowed to buy things “wholesale”.

UCC might have been an okay deal if you’re doing many thousands of dollars worth of remodeling and buying a lot of furniture. For most people, though, it was a complete waste of money that came with a contract that was extremely expensive and difficult to get out of. If I had successfully gotten hired for this job, it would have been my duty to convince people to join up and waste their money. I think I’d rather clean up roadkill.

Well, the United Consumers Club proposal sounded a lot like bullshit to me, even though I was only 22 years old. So, being kind of blunt and feeling legitimately aghast, I asked the interviewer, who was also the owner of the franchise, if this was a “hard sell” operation. He immediately became offended and asked me to leave the interview. That reaction, of course, told me all I needed to know… I didn’t need his piss ant $22,000 a year job, anyway. 😉 It was clear he was expecting his prospective employee to kiss his ass and accept any abuse he threw at them as he swindled decent people out of their hard earned money. The fact that I boldly asked him if he was running a hard sell operation made him realize that I probably wouldn’t take his crap. He moved on to the next person, knowing that someone in the group would eagerly accept his shit for a few crumbs.

Yeah… bunch of bullshit, this is…

Years later, I was watching TV at home in northern Virginia, and an ad came on for an outfit called DirectBuy. I had never heard of DirectBuy, but the concept sounded familiar. I did some digging and discovered that DirectBuy was, in fact, the old UCC… and that until about 2007, UCC had prided itself on never advertising and only picking up members entirely by word of mouth. A lot of people fell for the hype and wound up locked in iron clad contracts that ripped them off for years. I began writing a bunch of articles about DirectBuy and got some nasty comments from people who didn’t want me to expose their business for what it really is.

Notice on the actual video at YouTube, a franchise owner tries to do damage control. He doesn’t like the light being shined on his sleazy business.
“It’s a hard sell pitch…” That was exactly what I asked the franchise owner in Richmond. His response was not to answer me, but to ask me to leave. I was “bad” for recognizing what he was up to and calling him on it.

There are a lot of bullies in the world who think they can get away with shit by being threatening, confrontational, accusatory, and shaming. In fact, there’s even an acronym for this type of behavior. It’s called DARVO. DARVO stands for deny, attack, reverse victim, and offender. I’ve seen it in action a lot of times. I suspect most of us have. When you run into a certain type of person and it becomes clear that you’re catching on to who they are and what they’re really about, they vehemently try to thwart your attempts to reveal them. They deny that they’re the problem, start attacking you, claim victim status, and suddenly you’re the bad guy. Most people are left bewildered and shocked after such a vicious reversal. Decent people will start to question themselves, wondering if they really did get it so wrong. But after awhile, it becomes even clearer that you’re not the asshole stinking things up here…

Even South Park has addressed DARVO.

If you want to see DARVO on a global scale, just watch the way Donald Trump behaves. He gets called on his egregious shit all the time. Not once have I ever heard him take responsibility for what was legitimately his mess to clean up. Instead, he blames someone else. Right now, according to Trump, it seems to be Barack Obama’s fault that the coronavirus crisis is so out of control in the United States. Trump is just a “victim” who inherited Obama’s mess. Yeah, right. Unfortunately, a lot of very stupid people believe wholeheartedly in Donald Trump and will defend him until their last gasps of breath… unaided by the ventilator that isn’t available to them because they listened to Donald Trump and conspiracy theorists instead of scientists and people who know something about medicine.

I guess this is still a thing… or at least it was before the coronavirus struck.

I’m suddenly reminded of something else that happened in college. A hypnotist came to campus to entertain everyone. Sure enough, he was very good at his job. He called up people to the stage and proceeded to put them under… but not everyone fell under his hypnotic spell. A few students were stage assistants to the hypnotist and if they noticed someone wasn’t falling for the act, the unmoved students were escorted off stage. That was done so that they didn’t ruin the show. In fact, the hypnotist did get one guy I knew to dance like a crazy person in front of all of his classmates. It was hysterical, and he was completely unaware of what he was doing at the time. Later, when people kidded him about it, he was pissed off and annoyed. But he’d volunteered to be hypnotized and he fell under the spell… and put on a hell of a show for his friends.

I think bullies of all kinds are sort of like hypnotists. They use their overbearing personalities and willingness to throw people under the bus to get what they want. They “hypnotize” people into thinking they’re stronger and more powerful than they really are. They rewrite history, and try to inflict guilt on decent people who attempt to hold them accountable, and reveal what and who they truly are by simply being themselves.

I make for a convenient scapegoat for some bullies, because a lot of people find me too outspoken and obnoxious. On my old blog, it was usually because I wrote frankly about my husband’s ex wife. On this one, it’s because I write about Donald Trump… and other bullies and abusers. Because I’m not a fan of “call out culture”, I don’t usually name names. But the guilty among us still don’t like it when I write about my honest impressions of things. I figure, the guiltier they are, the more vociferously they object and protest… and the more obsessively they stalk, rewrite history, and cover things up to make sure the narrative is to their liking.

Well… as Amy Arena sings, “Just excuse me. Excuse ME!” for being someone that not everyone likes. And excuse me for disappointing some of you because no one actually has justifiably asked me to “just leave”. You know why? Because I’m not the enemy. The people that Donald Trump blames for his daily failures and moral shortcomings aren’t the enemies, either. A lot of them are very decent people just trying to do the right thing. It’s not good to let greedy, arrogant, dishonest people get away with ripping off others. It’s easy to let things slide and not upset the apple cart. It’s a lot harder to call bullshit… and sometimes people act badly not because someone else deserves it, but because they’re greedy bullies who throw tantrums when they get held accountable.

Standard