mental health

Being unlikable isn’t always a bad thing…

This morning, Bill and I listened to James Taylor’s new Audible book together. The book, called Break Shot: My First 21 Years, is all about James Taylor’s first 21 years of life, the time before he was famous. I wrote about Break Shot the other day, before Bill had a chance to listen to it with me. I wanted Bill to hear it, since I related to so much of it and I figured he would, too.

After the book was over, we had a conversation about this pressure many people feel to be “liked”. Bill is a very likable person. He’s kind, generous, friendly, thoughtful, respectful, and decent. I, on the other hand, am not always likable. I have a tendency to be loud, opinionated, profane, annoying, disrespectful, and unfriendly. However, one thing I have noticed is that while I may not have tons of friends, the ones I do have tend to be high quality people who treat me well. Bill, on the other hand, has some good friends, but he also tends to attract people who try to take advantage of him. Those people might be “friendly” and “nice” to him to his face, but then they would roll all over him.

Several times in his life, he’s found himself a doormat to others who were willing to make a scene. Or he’d do favors for people who probably didn’t deserve the consideration. More than once, I’ve witnessed him helping people who don’t appreciate his efforts and even criticize him when he doesn’t do exactly what they wanted. It seemed to be lost on those people that he was doing them a favor– he could have just as easily told them to fuck off. In fact, I probably would have, in a less profane way. Bill gave up a lot to those people because he couldn’t stand the idea of not being at peace. It was easier to give in to his ex wife, when she did crazy things, than put his foot down and say no. It was easier to be apologetic and understanding to other abusive people in his life than demand that they treat him fairly, or not take advantage of his good nature. I have often joked with him that he needs to develop a resting bitch face more like mine.

I’ve always thought it was curious that my husband, who would bravely and willingly go off to war, would be so quick to let things slide on the domestic front. Having gotten to know him for the past twenty years, I can see where he’s learned to be so accommodating. Bill’s parents are also extremely nice, likable people who don’t like strife and hate disappointing other people. My parents, on the other hand, were a lot less willing to put up with abuse from others. They didn’t mind having enemies, and they taught me that having enemies isn’t the end of the world.

I think Bill and I are very compatible because we even out each other. He’s made me feel less depressive and angry, and I have prompted him to be more willing to stand up for himself. I have tried to teach him that it’s better to have a few genuine friends than a lot of people who “like” you, but feel no compunction about screwing you over. I’ve also tried to show him that it’s not the end of the world if someone has a public meltdown. In fact, I even told him about a book I read some years ago where this point was illustrated. The book was called Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy People at 35,000 Feet. Written by flight attendant, Heather Poole, it was an entertaining collection of anecdotes about working in the airline industry. I wouldn’t have thought I would take a nugget of wisdom from a book like hers, but sure enough I did. Here is the pertinent excerpt from the book:

What is the wisdom I gleaned from this anecdote? A man was being abusive to a flight attendant who was simply trying to do her job. When she corrected him in an assertive way, he became even more belligerent and abusive and said “fuck you” to her. He probably figured the flight attendant would back off and maybe even offer him a free drink to calm him down. Instead, she leaned over and whispered “fuck you” right back to him. He then proceeded to completely lose control and was escorted off the aircraft. Who was the loser in that situation? It certainly wasn’t the flight attendant. She kept her cool and said “Buh bye.” to the guy as he was dragged off the plane. Do you think she cares if the guy who said “fuck you” to her thinks she’s a bitch? I highly doubt it.

Was what the flight attendant did something a “nice”, “likable” person would do? No, not particularly… but I’ll bet that profane passenger thought twice about using abusive language when speaking to a flight attendant on his next airline experience. The moral of the story is, if someone makes a “scene”, it’s not the end of the world. As embarrassing as scenes can be, it’s helpful to keep in mind that if someone makes a scene, other people aren’t going to be looking at the person who is calm and mortified. They’ll be looking at and probably judging the person who is making a scene. They’re the ones who are out of control, not you. Adults are expected to be in control of their own behavior, and you can’t control anyone’s behavior but your own. If someone thinks you’re a bitch or an asshole for standing up for yourself, they’re not worthy of your company.

I am a firm believer that you have to teach people how to treat you. That doesn’t mean being mean, nasty, or rude; it means being assertive and having the courage to stand up for yourself. Of course, it’s wise to pick your battles. Some fights are simply not worth the effort. However, if someone is being an asshole, it’s not wrong to call them out. People have called me out before and, fortunately, I have matured enough to take an honest look at myself and apologize when I behave badly. Everybody behaves badly sometimes, and being apologetic when it’s warranted never killed anyone. But neither has standing your ground when it’s warranted.

Bill struggles with wanting to be liked. He grew up with little conflict. He and his mom are very close and rarely fought with each other. He saw less of his dad when he was growing up, but when he was with him, there also wasn’t much fighting. Bill has a huge, sympathetic heart and he loves to please people. He’s one of the most service oriented people I know. It truly brings him joy to help others, especially when they appreciate his efforts. I, on the other hand, grew up in a family where there was a lot of fighting and selfishness. I certainly didn’t enjoy the fights and, to this day, I get really upset when people yell at me. I can remember having panic attacks when my parents and sisters fought with me. However, because I had those conflicts, I think I’m less concerned about ruffling feathers than Bill is. I know it won’t kill anyone if I piss them off. If they’re reasonable people, they’ll eventually get over it and we’ll repair the relationship with strengthened boundaries. If they’re not reasonable, then the relationship is worth letting go. Not everyone is worthy of being a friend. The older I get, the less time I have for people who aren’t reasonable and decent. I have NO time for abusive, unreasonable people anymore.

So, while we were digesting James Taylor’s early life story together, Bill and I were discussing what we took from the Audible. Somehow, we segued into talking about situations in which Bill has often found himself. It may be unbelievable to those who have never met him, but he is one of the kindest, most understanding, genuinely loving people I have ever met. I look at him every day and can’t believe my luck. He’s willing to give so much… to a fault, really. He’s already been through hell when he was dealing with his greedy ex wife, who separated him from his children, tried to ruin his relationship with his parents, and demanded that he give her much more than she was entitled to. He’s survived that experience and is now thriving. I was with him every step of the way. I remember telling him that this shit with his ex wife was temporary and that he’d come out of it a survivor. And he has. He doesn’t tolerate her abuse anymore, either.

Ditto to when Bill went to war in Iraq with an abusive colonel who played mind games with him, demanded all of his time and energy, and did everything he could to humiliate him. Think Donald Trump in a uniform– completely narcissistic, uncaring about other people’s needs, and selfish. Someone finally stood up to that colonel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Bill who took a stand, but that guy finally did get his comeuppance in the form of a very embarrassing and public firing weeks before he had been planning to pin on as a brigadier general. It was very satisfying to watch that guy’s career go down in flames, knowing the way he regularly treated the people under him, especially while they were in a war zone.

I remember taking calls from Bill when he was in Iraq. He told me his boss reminded him of his abusive ex wife. I knew it was really bad when he compared his boss to his ex. Fortunately, Bill is now thriving after that experience, but it took some time to undo the mind fuckery. And years later, when that abusive colonel wanted to add Bill on Linked In, Bill felt fine about ignoring the request. That guy wasn’t someone who deserved to be in Bill’s life, even if ignoring the request felt like a “mean” thing to do. Bill established boundaries and enforced them. He’s looking after his own interests, as every wise person should. It’s noble to want to help people, but even in a plane crash, you’re told to put on your own oxygen mask first before trying to help other people.

We’ll have other challenges ahead of us that will require backbone and assertiveness. But we’ve already survived a hell of a lot. Sometimes it’s scary to be “unlikable”, to rock the boat and ruffle feathers, and to take a stand. But we’ve already survived so much. If someone doesn’t like us for standing up for ourselves when it’s warranted, that’s their problem.

I often run into people who don’t like me, especially in the military community. There’s often an undercurrent of misogyny in military circles. I’ve seen it directed toward female service members, but I’ve especially seen it toward wives of service members. Women who are “dependas”– overweight, uneducated, entitled women who sit on their asses and spend their husband’s paychecks are frowned upon, of course. But so are educated women who refuse to shut up and color, and dare to speak up when someone is abusive.

In fact, in some ways, the educated women get even worse treatment and less respect. It’s usually from insecure men who can’t stand the idea that a woman might make him look stupid. Of course, there are a lot of people like Bill in the military, too. Some service members are true heroes in every sense of the word. But some are abusive and disrespectful to everyone they think will take it without a fuss. I’m less likable because I protest when people are shitty to me, and I don’t mind speaking my mind. Could I be more likable by sitting quietly in a corner? Sure… but what’s the payoff? Someone who pulls a jock strap over my face? No thanks… I don’t want to be “liked” by that type of person, anyway.

Sometimes being too accommodating really stinks…

You may not like me. Lots of people don’t. Plenty of people find me annoying on many levels. Those who know and take the time to understand me usually find out that I’m not a bad person at all. I have my good points and my bad points. I don’t suffer fools, and I don’t tolerate a lot of bullshit. But I’m a good and loyal friend to those who deserve it, and can tolerate my idiosyncrasies. I may not be as “likable” as Bill is, but I also don’t tend to be crapped on by people for very long. When people crap on me, I tend to answer in kind somehow. If I were more like Bill, I doubt our marriage would survive because there would be no end to fending off people who want to take advantage… especially Bill’s ex wife. He needs a partner who will call bullshit and risk being in the dog house without being abusive and exploitative. In that sense, I think we’re perfect for each other.

But I would never be cruel enough to use liquid heat on someone’s jockstrap. That’s truly a “dick” move.

Those who would like to read Heather Poole’s book can follow the Amazon link. I am an Amazon Associate, so if you purchase through my site, I will get a small commission from Amazon. But there’s never any pressure. I share these books because I think they’re worth reading.

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musings

Wow! So close!

This morning, as I was transferring an old book review to this “new” blog, I noticed the hit count on the original Overeducated Housewife blog on Blogspot. I was surprised and a little saddened to see that I came very close to passing an impressive milestone on that blog, which represented almost nine years of writing. Behold!

Imagine… I would have hit one million views in 2019 if I’d just left this blog open for a few more days!

I know a lot of people don’t think writing is a productive use of my time. I’m certain there are people out there who think my blog sucks… Actually, I KNOW there are people like this. They mainly consist of folks who don’t like what I have to say or just think I’m stupid, arrogant, condescending, or whatever, but there are also others out there who simply can’t stand it when women share their thoughts, especially when the women are bright and articulate. I’ve run into this attitude a number of times, especially in the military community.

Bill and I were talking about this issue last night, as the derogatory term “dependapotamus” came up in our conversation. I’ve blogged about how stupid that term is a number of times, but for those who have come in after the opening credits, allow me to offer a quick explanation. There’s a group of people in military communities who refer to military wives as “dependas”– short for dependapotamus, since, according to the stereotype, so many women who marry military guys are fat, unemployed, and only in the marriage for the Tricare benefits and the opportunity to buy Coach bags at a discount at AAFES. There are even several Facebook pages and groups dedicated to making fun of so-called “dependas”. Although there is some truth to the stereotypes and sometimes the observations are funny or clever, it’s been my observation that true “dependas” are pretty rare.

The paradox of being in the military community is that a lot of people complain about “dependas”, who are supposedly fat, uneducated bitches who sit around on their asses, eat bon bons, watch daytime TV, spend their husbands’ paychecks, and cheat on their men while they’re deployed. And yet, if you’re not a “dependa”, and you’ve launched a career, gotten an education, make your own money, have your own ideas, and are smart, that’s also a problem. A lot of people in the military community– men and women included– are extremely threatened by smart women who express themselves, especially if they’re also attractive. So this group of people will try to tear down and silence those who threaten or offend them, whether or not other people feel the same way.

I ran into this situation about four years ago. It was Valentine’s Day 2016, and I wrote a review of the restaurant where we celebrated. Some guy in one of the local Facebook groups– not someone I knew personally, but someone who had made rude comments to me before about my writing and the name of my blog– posted this in response:

What was especially funny was that a lot of people had my back and told the guy to simply scroll past…

At first, I was a bit stung by the above comment. But then I thought about it and responded:

Yeah… kinda mean, but he asked for it.

Well, my snarky response apparently caused what some military folks refer to as massive “butthurt”. Because the next thing I knew, I was blocked. That suited me just fine. In fact, I don’t know why this genius didn’t do that in the first place. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I seriously don’t go out of my way to irritate people. If I bug you, by all means, block away! Don’t torture yourself reading my stuff! But… don’t try to silence me, either, especially if you’re in the military and value the right to freedom of speech, thought, or expression. If you’re serious about protecting those rights, you have to let people express themselves freely, even if you find what they say offensive. However, I also think that if someone is annoying, abusive, or irritating, you have the right to end the pain. You’re not obligated to interact. For now, anyway, we all still have a choice.

Wise words.

In any case, I wanted to make a point by sharing the hit count from my first blog. I came very close to a million hits on that blog. Quite a few of those hits were made by repeat visitors who don’t mind me or my opinions. That means some people value what I do, and that’s a really good thing, even if other people think I’m an arrogant asshole who regularly leaves shitstains in the form of multiple blog posts on the Internet.

With that said… I’m going to repost an article I wrote in 2015 about “dependas”… In it, you can see actual evidence of what I mean when I write about certain people in the military community and their attitudes toward smart women. It’s pretty sad.

Vaguebooking… and “dependas”

Recently, a retired lieutenant colonel named Dave Duffy wrote an op-ed for Stars and Stripes about how military families need to get over their entitlement issues.  LTC Duffy and his wife own a couple of smoothie shops and were recently called out for not offering military discounts to service members’  spouses and families.  Duffy’s piece was a reminder that business owners have the right to offer discounts to whomever they please.

Frankly, I agree with Duffy, although I think maybe he might be forgetting that spouses and family members are more likely to be buying his smoothies than service members are.  While he has every right not to offer discounts to them, in the long run, extending a discount to military family members might go further in helping him promote his business.  But overall, I get his point and agree with it. 

I grew up the daughter of an Air Force retiree who owned a business and I understand some of the challenges small business owners can face.  I also realize that it pays to remember who’s buying your product.  Duffy’s editorial spawned a blog post written by a male military spouse who pointed out that alienating spouses and family members is unwise.  While I didn’t agree with the male spouse’s entire posting, I do think he was spot on when he reminded Duffy and other readers that it’s more often spouses and family members who have the time to be sucking down smoothies. 

Both of these posts about “entitlement” issues seemed to have stirred up a hornet’s nest of responses.  Yesterday afternoon, I came across yet ANOTHER post about family members and spouses feeling “entitled”.  That post, written by Carl Forstling, spawned a huge number of Facebook comments.  I made the mistake of reading them and came away feeling disgusted by the number of people in the military who refer to spouses and family members as “dependapotamuses” or “dependas”.

A “dependapotamus” is a derogatory term used to describe a spouse (generally a wife) who sits on her ass and bitches about her “entitlements”.  A “dependa” is the shortened version of that term.  Basically, it refers to women who ride their husband’s coattails and try to wear rank while they sit around eating bon bons all day.

Now… I am not saying so-called “dependas” don’t exist.  They certainly do.  I think they represent a fairly small population among spouses, though.  It is really disheartening when a spouse or family member dares to make a comment on a posting about “entitlement”– and generally they are just asking for a basic modicum of respect– and some jackass in the military automatically refers to them as a “dependa”.  These guys– and it’s almost always a guy– refer to spouses and family members in the most vile manner.  It makes me sad to think of people like my husband having to work alongside people who have this attitude.  Have a look below for examples of what I mean.

Exhibit A: 

Why should I respect someone for sitting on their ass when their spouse is deployed? Give me a fucking break. They’re not doing a damned thing, and they knew what they were in for when they married in. Oh your spouse is deployed. You’re probably cheating on them anyway, and spending all their combat pay. Cry me a river.

Exhibit B:

I take offense at the continued use of the derogatory term “dependa”. It’s that bullshit that makes wives get their hackles up. We are more than simply “dependents” and it’s about time that we stop referring to spouses and children as such. To call someone by such a term is deliberately negative and does nothing to further any kind of discussion. It also discounts anything that spouses do for their families. This seems to be a term particularly used by men, though I’ve heard women use it, too. So since you’re a guy, I’m going to say this: all male soldiers who are married with kids would lose their shit if their wives stopped doing all the things they do and taking care of all the things they take care of during deployments and TDY assignments. Wives are much more than “depends” and while what we do seems like it’s not a lot, you’re not there to know when you’re gone. If I get sick during a deployment, I still have to get up and do all the stuff I do every day, sick or not. I still take care of the house, the kids and sometimes I get a moment for myself. I personally don’t want special accolades. But when my husband is deployed, my kids are sick and I cannot get someone to help me out by cutting my lawn so I don’t get a citation from the HOA or the city, simply because nobody in my neighborhood is military and doesn’t get that my husband can’t just “do it when it gets home”, I get pissed and think that I’d like a little recognition for the fact that I hold the house together when he’s gone and I’ve got no one who “gets it”.

And a response to Exhibit B: 

I notice you are overweight and obviously don’t take care of yourself. You are literally a dependapotomus. Of course you’d take offense.

Exhibit C:  

i spent 24 years in the AF. i was commenting on all that my wife did while i served and all the things she went through as a dependent. And yes, she does deserve the respect I give her because of it. Just because you are too stupid to understand what a military dependent goes through, doesn’t mean their service member spouse doesn’t. I have no lack of personal identity because I choose to share an account with my wife, which has nothing to do with the conversation, anyway.

Response to Exhibit C:

I’m pretty sure that she does deserve your respect… and she also has your balls in her purse. Anyhow, whether or not she is entitled to anything special because she changes diapers and watches Real Housewives while shopping for Coach purses online with your money is the topic of the question here, and when some dumbass military wife thinks she should be entitled to extra discounts or her little feelings are more important than everyone else’s because being a military wife is just the hardest thing ever, myself and pretty much every intelligent person ever, well… we just facepalm.    

The guy who wrote the above post got into it with a woman who claimed to be a very successful “dependent”…  Their banter was pretty epic.

Exhibit D:

Newslfash: I’m not a dependa, I’m labeled a “dependent’ because the military labels me as such. Beyond that, I don’t rely on the military for a thing. I have a very lucrative career and don’t need nor want my husband to “support” me. And I’d rather businesses save their discounts for the people who really need them, however, when they insist because they know my husband and me I accept and say ‘thank you’ then move on about my day. Want to label me over that? Go right ahead and see how much I care. 

The guy who wrote this article is clueless and it’s probably why he is still single. Come back when you have some real experience to back up this garbage.

The poster in Exhibit D and the guy who responded to Exhibit C got into quite the Facebook cat fight.  And then, some other dude named Jake jumped into the fray with this…

Well aren’t you just a self absorbed fucking cunt. Your husband probably married your stupid fucking ass for your money, damn sure didn’t do it for your personality. Every thing i hear from you is how much money you make. Go fuck yourself with it how about that? I’d love to say it your face if I could, i’d love to have a long heart to heart with your husband too about how much of a cunt he reeled in.

To which the well employed spouse wrote in Exhibit E:

LOL Jake. That all you got? Cunt? Really? HAHAHAHA wow. Big man you are calling a woman a cunt. BOO HOO. Am I supposed to cry? Get mad? All I can do is laugh at you. WOAH!! Hold on. He called me a cunt. OH NO! LMAO. What a child. 

Here is a piece of advice for you: Build a bridge and get over it little boy. I’d love for him to have a conversation with your CO. There are eyes everywhere… Oh, but wait you are a FORMER Marine whose checks were signed by THE NAVY. FORMER Marine. Huh. Like anything you write could ever matter to me. Do you really think that? 

Entitled much? Who are you to hand out passes? You’re just a pathetic little boy. Sheesh. Angry much? The VA offers free therapy for people like you. Use it. Please.

Good night now. Have a real life to go live… you should go get one for yourself, too. Oh wait! Almost forgot to sign off…

Signed,
“The Cunt”

And finally, we have Exhibit F:

Let’s just make it simple. Obviously there are too many damn dependa with lack of comprehension which the majority are claiming they should be entitled to something being married to a military personnel because they think they are special and have the toughest job. If you completely disagree, just write the congress. Afterall, you are married to the military. Otherwise, accept the fact that you ain’t entitled for shit you didn’t earn and get it over with. You want entitlements? Join the service. Besides, why bitch in whine in social media when you can talk to their chain of command and address your concerns? Do you guys even know FFSC, or MilitaryOneSource? Go talk to them and find out. Sorry ass dependas!

There’s a lot more where this came from, but you get my point by now.  Bill is now retired, so I no longer have a dog in this fight.  I have noticed, however, that spouses seem to be damned if they do, damned if they don’t.  If a spouse has a job or an education, she is belittled for that.  Last night in a local Facebook group, someone vaguely got called out for referring to their education.  The poster doing the calling out wrote this…

Nothing funnier than a venter who is hell bent on proving that their IQ is bigger than their Fat A$$

Now… the guy who posted this never actually identified the person to whom he was referring.  My guess is that I am the one he’s posting about, though, probably because in another post, I linked to this blog, which is called The Overeducated Housewife.  Of course, since the dude “vaguebooked”, I don’t know for sure if he meant me.  But I am going to assume that he did, just so I can explain something to the people who read this blog and think I am “bragging” about being “educated”. 

First off, if you read the comments above, a whole lot of guys in or affiliated with the military seem to have no respect for so-called “dependas”.  These are women who, according to them, have no purpose other than pumping out babies and living off their husband’s paychecks.  They are scorned and vilified by people in the military community.  Some vocal guys affiliated with the military seem to have this attitude about just about every military spouse.  I have to wonder where they get this outrage.  Some of the hatred reflected in their posts make it seem like they wish these women would all just fuck off and die.  It’s kind of chilling.   

But then, if you’re someone like me, you also get outrage and derision.  Apparently, it’s not cool that I went to school and spent two years abroad working in a developing country.  Clearly, I need to “remember my place” as a humble “wifey” to my husband.  I shouldn’t draw attention to my accomplishments, which have nothing to do with wearing rank, having babies, or riding my husband’s coattails.  I achieved them before I got married, after all.  

I am formally educated because I was trying not to become a “dependa”.  I met and fell in love Bill when I was in grad school.  I intended to have a career when we met and after we got married, but things didn’t work out that way for me.  So now I have three degrees, which we are still paying for.  I don’t need three degrees to do what I do every day.  If I had known years ago that I would be marrying a military guy and moving all the time, I certainly would not have bothered with grad school, so having this “education” is superfluous.  I don’t necessarily feel smarter for having it; in some ways, I feel dumber. 

On the other hand, I probably would not have met Bill if I hadn’t gone to grad school.  Maybe I’d still be waiting tables.  Who knows?  The point is, I got my education because I was trying to launch myself, not because I want to belittle others by lording my worthless degrees over them.  And it is very frustrating to have done all that and still get referred to as a “dependa”, even though some of the people who use that term would claim they aren’t talking about people like me.  The rest would just emphatically remind me that I’m “not special” and not deserving of any respect.  

I’m not really sure how spouses of military members can win.  It seems that you’re either an uneducated baby making machine who is trying to carve out an undeserved identity by marrying a military guy with “status”.  Or you are a pompous bitch who flaunts her education and reminds people that she had a life before she was married to a military guy.  Those who don’t fall into either of those categories are given a silent command to just sit down and shut up.  Seems to me if you dare to express yourself, someone will promptly try to put you back in your place.  The message is, “Don’t ask for respect for being a military spouse.  And don’t try to improve yourself, because you’re not special.  You married a military guy and that doesn’t entitle you to jack shit, including basic respect.”      

Anyway, yes, this blog is called “The Overeducated Housewife”, but it’s not because I’m trying to impress anyone.  I write blogs.  That’s how I spend much of my time because I don’t have a full time job, friends, hobbies, or kids.  Maybe you think I’m wasting my time or that my life has no value.  The title is meant to be ironic, though.  Though I have a good life and am very happy to be married to Bill, I can’t say that this is what I envisioned my life to be.    

The vaguebooking guy who made the above comment eventually followed up with this…

Just find it really comical how often people mention their education in an attempt to justify their stupid outlook or opinion

I don’t have a lot of respect for people who call someone out, but don’t have the backbone to be specific and tell the person they’re calling out what’s on their minds.  Maybe I have no right to say that out loud, though. 

(Incidentally, the vaguebooker was the same guy who was upset that I wrote about Valentine’s Day and felt the need to shame me for sharing my thoughts… Man, it really bugs him that I live and breathe.)

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