Ex, musings, narcissists

What a crappy weekend I had…

If you read yesterday’s travel post, you might know that I was felled by some kind of stomach virus over the weekend. It started with a fever, progressed to vomiting, then watery diarrhea that continues today. I do feel somewhat better this morning, although my guts are still rumbling and my head hurts. However, I’ve been up for about two hours and so far, have mostly managed to stay off of the toilet. That’s already an improvement over yesterday.

One thing I have noticed about this virus is that it seems to have made my sense of smell super acute. Last night, Bill came into the bedroom and smelled like he reeked of beer. He’d only had one. I could also smell the carbon from the stove all the way upstairs when Bill made me some mashed potatoes. I also notice that I can really smell the laundry detergent more than usual. If I weren’t 49 years old and living the sex life of a nun, I might think I was pregnant. But that’s definitely not possible.

So here I sit on a foggy Monday morning. The sheets are in the washing machine, because they definitely needed refreshing after the weekend. I was in bed the whole time, hence my decision not to write a post for this blog yesterday. I couldn’t really think of anything to write about that would make me feel better. Let’s face it. A lot of my material is not all that uplifting. I suppose this blog could have used an uplift after Saturday’s book review. I guess I can be grateful to the sickness for helping me finish that depressing book at long last. 😉

The weekend did have a few moments of levity, though. For instance, yesterday, I decided to watch a couple of episodes of The Love Boat that someone thoughtfully uploaded to YouTube. One of the episodes was about a special dog show, in which a dog would be chosen to be the face of dog food brand. Our dog, Noyzi, was previously terrifed of the TV. He comes from Kosovo, so he’s being exposed to a lot of things now, that other dogs get exposed to when they are much younger.

Anyway, one of the guests on The Love Boat for that episode was a fluffy white dog named Tundra. Noyzi took a liking to her and immediately perked up when she was on the screen. It was hilarious to watch him. He still hasn’t seemed to figure out that the figures on the TV aren’t going to come out and attack or play with him. Just a few months ago, he would run out of the room if a man was on the screen. As you can see, he does that less now, especially if there are dogs to watch!

I think he’d like to be Tundra’s boyfriend.
Tundra definitely has a new fan.

I also watched Gimme A Break and WKRP in Cincinnati. I’m glad I was around when those shows were on TV, especially WKRP. Even 40 years later, it’s still a hilarious show that never gets old. Even the music they used is timeless. I would not want to relive my childhood, but I sure do love the stuff that was on the radio in the late 70s. Hey… what do you want? I was a little kid! Also, I had spent three years in England and, prior to that, had no memories of the United States. At that time, it seemed like an unusual place. Now, it seems like an unusual place for entirely different and much sadder reasons.

On a snarky note, and because I’m feeling kind of mean… I took a peek at Ex’s public social media the other day. There was a time when it would have pissed me off to look at it, but now I’m just amused and somewhat sad for older daughter, who bears a striking resemblance to Bill’s mom. Ex posted a couple of pictures of her, along with some schwag she got from a “box of the month” outfit. Ex’s latest thing is her claim to be descended from an aristocratic clan from Scotland. And you know, she may very well be a descendent of the Scots. Lord knows I have lots of Scottish ancestry myself. It wouldn’t be unheard of.

On the other hand, I’m not sure she would know for certain what her clan history is, since she was adopted, and even if her bio mom told her about any family history, I’m not sure I would trust that source. According to what I’ve heard, Ex’s bio mom gave her up because she’s a product of an affair and bio mom’s husband didn’t want to raise some other guy’s child.

Interesting that she’s suddenly so hot on Scotland, though… and that she has the money to spend on “boxes of the month”, when she ripped off her children’s college loan money to pay for household expenses. But that’s none of my business, of course. 😉 I was tempted to leave her a comment about how much older daughter looks like her *real* paternal grandmother, whom she hasn’t been allowed to see or talk to since she was a small child. But I decided I felt sick enough as it was.

One thing I’ve noticed about people like Ex… they all seem to have a compulsive shopping habit. Many of the most dysfunctional people I’ve known have had a shopping habit that was downright destructive. When Ex and Bill were married, she was always buying useless crap like Disney plates or depression glass, claiming she would later sell it and make a killing. But all that happened was that it piled up in the house, and made big credit card bills that they couldn’t pay. It used to drive Bill crazy, since he was chronically underemployed in those days, mainly because of where they were living, the location of which was entirely of her choosing. She chose it because of the lifestyle she envisioned, not because it would offer plentiful work opportunities.

I’m sure Ex’s shopping habit has something to do with trying to fill a void within her. There’s a part of her that may feel empty or depleted, or perhaps second rate. So she cheers herself up by buying stuff she can’t afford and doesn’t need. And she leans on other people in her life to pay for all of her useless crap, which they often can’t do, because she sabotages them. I don’t know for certain this is what happens in her home now, but I would bet money that’s how it is… because that was how it was for Bill. It was as if she was threatened when he succeeded. And based on what we’ve heard, that dynamic hasn’t changed.

Believe it or not, there’s a part of me that feels a little sorry for Ex. She’s never satisfied with what she has, and always has to show off her “stuff”. It’s as if she is consumed by getting people to admire her for having “stuff” and this facade of cheer. But it’s all an illusion, and the vast majority of people don’t give a fuck about it.

If she hadn’t hurt Bill and his family so deeply and profoundly and had such a direct effect on my life, I might have genuine compassion for her. But I know too much about the truly evil things she’s done. That, and I know that everything she posts on social media is to enhance her facade. She cares much more about what other people think of her image, than loving the people who are close to her. She makes her children’s pain about herself. Below is a direct quote from her… (again, this is entirely public stuff– I did nothing nefarious to get this intel.)

Och aye!!! JE SUIS PREST!!! What a treasure trove! I think my new favorite color is purple!! Swipe to see what kind of treasures have arrived as my bonnie daughter, B, and I unbox our latest WeeBoxes! (As you can tell, we have a hard time letting go of the boxes from months past!!) From our favorite cookies, to a gorgeous tartan shawl for B, see the types of goodies we enjoy each month! That one little purple box each month is the most exciting day for us. I have a severely autistic child and he requires so very much of our time and our spirits that often sadness and frustration rule our days. This little peek into Scotland reminds us that one day we WILL find a way to travel to the home of our ancestors and walk the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh and the beaches, scattered with ancient memories. We are of the Fraser du Lovat clan and long to learn more of our family.

This– from a woman who forced her older children to leave high school and start college courses so they could take out loans, and she could coerce them into giving her the excess money. And now she’s made them pay back the loans all by themselves! What she doesn’t seem to realize is that if she had only been a team player, she could have gone to Scotland a bunch of times. Bill and I have been there four times so far!

And how very sad it is that she blames her sadness and frustration on her severely autistic child. Especially since we have it on good authority that Bill’s older daughter is the one who actually takes care of him. Ex pressured my husband to get “snipped” because pregnancy was so hard on her, but then she remarried and had two more children, one of whom is apparently the source of daily “sadness and frustration” for her. She’s never been one to enjoy what she has… she always has to go for more, even when there are tremendous risks or there’s no logical need for more. Oftentimes, it leads to needless pain and suffering for other people.

Anyway… that’s enough about Ex. The more time passes, the less her antics really matter to me. And I don’t really care too much that she’s blowing money on Scottish schwag. It’s none of my business. But if she had been a better partner to Bill, she probably could have gone to Scotland and picked out her own schwag. And she could have done it unhindered by a special needs child who causes her so much daily “sadness” and “frustration”.

I just realized that I’m suddenly feeling much better than I did even just a couple of hours ago. Maybe today, I can even eat something besides potatoes and bananas. So, on that note, I will end this post, and get on with my chores for the day. Hope your Monday is a good one.

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narcissists, psychology, royals, videos, YouTube

The Body Language Guy takes on Meghan Markle…

Some time ago, I ran across some entertaining videos by a heavily accented man named Jesus Enrique Rosas, otherwise known as “The Body Language Guy”. Rosas regularly makes videos about celebrities and analyzes their body language. I get a kick out of him, because he’s got great energy and charisma. I must admit that his accent is also interesting. I probably listen to him longer than I might someone with a less exotic (to me, anyway) accent.

I don’t know much about Rosas. I have no idea what his qualifications are. But I have noticed that he has an awful lot to say about Meghan Markle, and most of it isn’t very complimentary. He’s also kind of witty, which I definitely appreciate. It’s not hard to make me laugh, but if you manage to do so with style, you get extra points from me!

The below video was the first one I saw Rosas make about Meghan Markle. He thinks he has her pegged as a narcissist. Behold…

Is he onto something? This is a fascinating video.

Certainly, Rosas isn’t the only one who’s noticed that something seems a little off kilter about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. He’s focused on their body language, but I focus more on what she says and does. I watched the Apple+ series Meghan and Harry did with Oprah Winfrey. I thought it was very interesting. But I was mainly more interested in hearing from Harry, than Meghan. He comes off as very generous. Meghan comes off as less so… at least to me, anyway. I think I’m pretty sensitive to narcissistic types, mainly because I’ve unfortunately had a lot of exposure to them.

Harry has always struck me as a sensitive, kind, and decent person. I know he was legitimately devastated by his mother’s death in 1997, when he was just 12 years old. I also think he’s a protective person. Meghan, by contrast, is very much a go-getter. I remember reading about how she wrote to an advertiser about sexist language used in promoting their products.

Meghan probably doesn’t need Harry’s protection, but if she is a narcissist, she might exploit those tendencies to keep him doing her bidding. Also, check out today’s featured photo. Some years ago, I used to follow Dr. Tara Palmatier’s blog, Shrink4Men. “Dr. T”, as she went by, frequently mentioned how high conflict, narcissistic typed women were hung up on being “princesses”. She refers to it as a “princess mentality”. The quote above came from Markle’s now defunct blog. She obviously watched William and Kate get married on television… and yet she says she never Googled Harry? Seriously?

But it seems that being in the British family was more than Meghan bargained for. I won’t dispute that the British tabloids can be brutal. They certainly can! And I won’t dispute that racism is a real problem, even in 2021. It certainly is! But I don’t believe that Meghan was treated as egregiously badly as she claims.

In fact… thinking about Harry’s and Meghan’s great exodus from England last year, it reminds me of how Bill’s ex wife pressured Bill into getting out of the Army. The Army provided Bill with an identity, and she had to live by the Army’s influence. She didn’t like that, so she pressured Bill into quitting. That action deprived Bill of his livelihood. She also separated him from people outside of their sphere who might influence Bill, or threaten her power over him.

I see a similar dynamic between Harry and Meghan. Obviously, staying in England would mean the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William would have MUCH more influence over Harry than they would in the United States. So Meghan says the British press was too “hard” on her. Harry, being sensitive to mental health issues because of his mother’s difficulties, is quick to acquiesce. Before you know it, the couple has left royal life. But… they still complain about being “cut off” from the British family’s riches. Apparently, Meghan didn’t realize that being married to a high ranking British royal entailed doing some work. And she was quite firm about doing things her own way, British tradition and expectations be damned!

A video Rosas made in August about Meghan Markle… He pays very close attention to what Meghan says, how she dresses, and her behavior.

In the above video, Rosas says he’s “not a Meghan hater”. But minutes before he says that, Rosas calls her a narcissist. Later, he says she’s fake. Aside from that, he admits that Meghan has good public speaking skills. But then he reiterates that she’s a fake narcissist and a snob. He ends the above video with the hilarious quip, “At least Harry found his balls and he’s allowed to play with them.” Bwahahaahaha.

Interesting… and I have my own opinions about Meghan Markle. I probably agree more with Rosas than disagree with him. I have noticed some discrepancies in some of the things Meghan has said, as opposed to her actions. I also notice that Meghan seems to have isolated Harry from the life he’s always known. I don’t know if Harry is truly happy in California. I have no idea how he and Meghan get along. But I do recognize that Harry and William, who were always very close, are not very close anymore. And this is perhaps evidenced by the somewhat chilly birthday greetings sent out to Harry via the Cambridges’ social media.

Yesterday, I happened to catch The Body Language Guy’s video about the recent Time Magazine cover of Meghan and Harry. I was oblivious to the cover until I saw the below video. Then, I noticed that a lot of people were talking about it, both on YouTube and Facebook.

I have to admit, Rosas brings up some very interesting points.

In the above video, Rosas points out how Harry is fading into Meghan’s shadow. She is presented as equal to or even larger than he is. She stands with her legs apart, wearing white, as he wears black and seems to “hide” behind her. She looks powerful, but he looks a bit cowardly. And we all know that Harry, who served the British military in Afghanistan, is no coward by any stretch of the imagination. At one point, Rosas says Meghan is “emasculating” Harry.

Honestly, if I had seen that cover without having watched Rosas’ video, I probably would not have noticed all of the weird stuff he points out. It would not have occurred to me to linger on the photograph, mainly because I’m not that interested in Harry and Meghan. I wouldn’t say I actively think about them much… I probably think a lot more about William and Kate, and especially their adorable children.

I’ve always liked Harry, though. He strikes me as a very kind, funny, and empathic person. And unfortunately, having married a man like that, I know he is fresh meat to narcissists. I don’t know if Meghan is a narcissist, but I do think she tells untruths. Like, for instance, I don’t believe that she didn’t know anything about Harry when she was growing up. Harry is the son of the most photographed woman in the world, the late Princess Diana. In the 1980s and 90s, Diana was everywhere. And, as Meghan is a modern woman living in the Internet age, as well as an actress, I don’t believe for a second she never Googled Harry.

When Meghan says “I never Googled Harry”, I’m reminded of a similar whopper Bill’s narcissistic ex wife told him. She said that she was accepted to several top flight universities, to include the United States Military Academy (AKA West Point) and Rice University in Texas. But… take a look at Ex, and you’ll quickly notice that she’s never been particularly physically fit or academically gifted. Then you realize that she wouldn’t last five minutes at West Point. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. Likewise, Ex dropped out of high school and got a GED. Bill went to high school with Ex and doesn’t remember her to be an academic superstar. Those types of students– the ones who go to colleges like Rice– don’t usually drop out, especially in the 1980s, before homeschooling was as popular as it is now.

Then I look at other things about Meghan that seem a bit “off”. Like, for instance, the stories about how she treated palace staffers… The awful drama involving Meghan’s father and half siblings from his side of her family, just before she married Harry… The way she and her first husband, actor Trevor Engelson, abruptly split up after just two years. I remember reading about how William was concerned about the speed at which Harry committed to Meghan. William took forever to marry Kate, and their marriage seems pretty solid. But Harry started dating Meghan in 2017, and was married to her in 2018. By 2020, he’d pretty much decided to quit being royal, and he and William, who once enjoyed a close relationship, now seemingly have very strained relations.

Another feature of narcissism is a lovebombing rush, and very quickly “hooking” the victim into permanent commitments like marriage and conception. My husband, for instance, was confronted by his ex wife when she traveled all the way to Germany from Texas with her eldest son in tow. She showed up on his doorstep and gave him a sob story. They very quickly married and, within two months of their wedding, she was pregnant with Bill’s older daughter. I noticed the same pattern when she married #3. Married within two months of Bill telling her he was going to propose to me. Pregnant within four. And… Meghan did have baby Archie less than a year after marrying Harry, although I might cut her some slack on that, since she’s an older woman.

And finally, how does Meghan really feel about Queen Elizabeth II?

Remember, though…. Meghan Markle is an actress. Maybe she’s not the best actress there ever was, but she was trained to convincingly portray someone she’s not. And so, it’s possible that her relationship with Harry is the biggest acting job she’s ever taken on. Or maybe not… but I can understand why people are concerned. At any rate, regardless of whether or not Harry and Meghan are really happy (and if she truly is a narcissist, I would guess not), I do hope that someday, Harry and William can repair their relationship. I think their difficulties are the saddest part of this situation.

Interestingly enough, I don’t see any videos about Donald Trump by the Body Language Guy. If he really knows anything about narcissists, he should be covering the orange turd. But then, maybe Rosas is a Trump fan. Or maybe politics bores him.

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careers, Ex, marriage, music

Partial repost: “Slogging” through life… or “I’ve never had what it takes to be a woman…”

I’m having some trouble getting into the mood to write this morning. I did, however, find this post from October 2018 that I think is pretty interesting. And it has nothing to do with the horrors of the news these days, either. It has to do with the horrors of life… “slogging” along in a job that pays the bills. We’ve all done it. Most of us keep doing it. Why? Because unless we live alone, we have responsibilities to other people. And so, a lot of us are truly “slogging” through life. I have edited this a bit, since things have changed for us since 2018. That makes it more of a “partial repost”. Maybe later, I’ll write something fresh.

This song cracks me up… Listen until the end to get the second half of my title.

The comments on this song are pretty interesting.  There were quite a few from men who were offended by the notion that they’re selfish and self-absorbed.  Clearly, they aren’t the ones Garfunkel and Oates are singing about, right?  Not all men are inattentive to their partners, obsessed with their jobs, and expecting women to wait around for them and follow them as they pursue their dreams.  Not all women are being forced to give up their aspirations for their men, either.  Hell, in my case, I wound up doing what I’d always wanted to do anyway, albeit not for a real paycheck. 

Actually, what really stuck out to me was a comment made by a man who presented the other side of this reality.  Behold…

The insinuation being that men don’t sacrifice their dreams to support their family? Maybe not in show business, but sacrifice is very much the norm for the working class (which constitutes the majority of the population). Nobody ever dreamed of working in a coal mine or in sanitation, but millions of people (mostly men) do it on a daily basis to support their family.

Lots of people, including many men, are just “slogging through life”.  It’s not just women who give up their dreams for a relationship.  Plenty of men do it, too.  How many guys do you know had dreams of being in a band or creating art for a living, only to wind up doing a job they hate simply for the money?  It takes money to raise a family, run a household, and make the world go around.  Not everyone has the talent, luck, or ability to pursue their dreams.  That’s true for everyone.

I can’t think of a single person I know who, when they were kids, said they wanted to empty port-a-lets for a living.  And yet, you can bet there are people out there who do it, simply for the money it brings.  I don’t know too many people who had aspirations of making refrigerator doors for their life’s work.  And yet, before Bill got back into the Army full-time, he worked at a Whirlpool factory and supervised men who had been doing just that for over twenty years.  They’d show up every day, punch in, and spend their shifts standing on the line, putting three screws into refrigerator doors all day.  Then, at the end of the day, they’d clock out, go home, and sleep until it was time to come back and do it all over the next day.

I don’t know anyone who, when they were kids, dreamt of waiting tables for a living, nor have I ever heard of any parents wanting that job for their adult children.  And yet, I know several career servers and bartenders.  Some of them stay in that work because it sometimes pays better than sitting in a cubicle all day.  Some stay because it’s a portable skill.  Some truly enjoy the work and find it more stimulating than an office job.  Personally, I hope I never have to wait tables again.  It wasn’t work I particularly enjoyed.  But I might do it again if I had no other choice.  I’d rather wait tables than shovel dog shit, which is another job I did back before I became an overeducated housewife.

I think this song probably resonates more with the stereotypical career woman.  That’s the woman who went to college, busted her ass in an entry level job, climbed the rungs of success, got promoted, and became unwilling to let that success go, simply for the sake of a relationship or motherhood.  Not that I necessarily blame them for doing that.  It’s hard work to succeed in the work world.  It’s not usually enough to simply be good at what you do.  There’s usually a certain amount of social engineering involved and a willingness to kiss up to the right people.  That takes a certain kind of person… the kind of person I’m not.  So although I am fairly intelligent– or so I’ve been told– and I might have gotten a career going if I’d worked at it, it’s probably a blessing for me that I latched on to Bill.  It’s also a miracle that we’re as compatible as we are.    

Of course, Bill is also lucky enough to be doing work at which he excels and finds interesting.  When he was married to his first wife, she had a vision of what her life was going to be, and she expected Bill to conform to her vision.  In the 90s, the Army was downsizing.  Bill’s military career, in those days, was not so good.  He lacked confidence, and didn’t have the “killer instinct” that is highly prized among some military leaders. Ex also didn’t like the Army dictating to Bill over her, nor did she enjoy having to move all the time.  She was not a fan of the “mission first” mantra to which all people in the military and most of their families adhere. She wanted her wants and needs to come first.

So, when Bill had the chance to get out of the Army early, he took it, along with severance pay (that he eventually had to pay back).  Then he joined the Army Reserves, and he and Ex moved from Washington State to Arkansas. They bought a money pit of a house that Ex liked, because it reminded her of one she’d once seen in a snow globe. Ex proceeded to then spend money they didn’t have on furniture, carpeting, and landscaping. She said she didn’t want her children growing up in a trashy house or living like poor people, even though they were legitimately poor! 

Because the Army Reserves didn’t pay enough to cover all of the bills, Bill also worked in a couple of factories.  He did this only for the money.  He had looked into becoming a parole officer, which was work he thought he might enjoy, but the money was not enough to support the family.  So he worked in a hellish toy factory for awhile, making very little money and doing extremely dull, soul crushing work, simply so his family could eat.  He eventually got another, much better paid job at Whirlpool, where he was a supervisor.  He hated it; but he did it.  

Here Bill was, a guy who had gone to a great private university in Washington, DC and earned a degree in international relations, watching old codgers put refrigerator doors together.  It was not the stuff of his dreams.  He worked hard during the times when his young daughters were awake, so he didn’t get to see them much.  Meanwhile, Ex continued to treat him poorly, and work turned into an escape from his home life.  

Bill’s whole existence revolved around that factory job– a boring, soul draining, exhausting position that made it hard for him to properly support the family, let alone ever see the sun. And Bill is very much a morning person, so those swing and third shifts were pretty hard for him. His brain goes down with the sun; that is a fact! I remember seeing a picture of Bill in those days. He was in his early 30s, but he looked at least twenty years older. In fact, he looked older then than he does today, over twenty years later!

Then, an opportunity arose for Bill to go back into the Army with the Arkansas National Guard.  He could be in the Title X program, which would mean he’d be a full-time officer, same as he was when he was in the regular Army.  He’d just be paid from a different pot and serve at the pleasure of the governor of Arkansas.  It was a real blessing for him, because he was finally ready to excel in the Army. Yes, it would mean the regular Army lifestyle, but it beat the ever living hell out of factory work and never having enough money to pay the bills, or enough seniority to score a day shift.  

But Bill’s ex wife wasn’t on board with that decision.  She was presumably pissed off that the Army would, once again, dictate the course of their lives so much, and give Bill someone else to answer to besides her. She was not willing to let him go back into the Army to do work that was more appropriate for him, yet forced them to move all the time. She wanted instant gratification and total freedom to do what she wanted… although it’s hard to enjoy total freedom of choice when one is broke.  

It didn’t matter to Ex that the Army paid more, offered much better benefits and more prestige, and was work that Bill found interesting and fulfilling.  Bill’s decision to go back into the military wasn’t what Ex wanted. She resented that he’d made that choice for himself, and wanted him to get back in line.  So she tossed out the “d” word.

Ex later admitted she hadn’t wanted the divorce. She had meant for it to be an idle threat. But Bill went off script and agreed when she presented her ultimatum, which also included the false accusation that Bill hates women (I’ve been with him for almost 19 years, and it just ain’t so).  

Ex didn’t want to give in and be a good partner, and let Bill’s career disrupt her vision of what her life was supposed to be.  She expected him to keep working in that factory, living in podunk Arkansas, strictly so that she could maintain the status quo of that vision she had.  Bill realized that he didn’t want to live that way; so, when Ex demanded the divorce, he agreed.  She was supposedly shocked, and very upset. She locked herself in the guest room at my in-laws’ house and cried.

Instead of owning up to what was supposed to be an idle threat, Ex was determined to make Bill pay dearly for not doing her bidding. She still thought he’d eventually cave, even after they drove to the notary she’d tracked down who would work on Easter Sunday morning. She truly believed he’d come crawling back to her. She even told him he’d always know where his family is; which, of course, was a lie.

They had their ugly divorce, and then Bill and I found each other.  We weathered some difficult years financially, but I’d say our lifestyle is a lot more like what Bill’s dreams were for his own life. I’m relatively contented, too, even if I do worry about someday living in a refrigerator box– perhaps even made for a Whirlpool fridge— under a bridge. Ex, on the other hand, is reportedly still unsatisfied.

I had my own “dreams”, back when I was a lot younger, although to be honest, I’m not sure how they would have worked out for me.  I got through my graduate programs just fine, but if I had taken work in those fields, I’d probably truly be “slogging through life”.  It would be work I was doing to put a roof over my head.  I’d probably be waiting to die.  

But then, I probably would have also liked the career I trained for more than shoveling dog shit or waiting tables.  Maybe I’d feel better about myself… although if I know myself, I doubt that’s what would have happened.  I would always be coveting something else and kicking myself for not following my elusive dreams.  My real dream, by the way, is to be a writer and a musician who actually gets paid regularly, not a public health social worker.  Right now, I’m fortunate enough to be able to chase my dreams with little hope that they’ll come true… but I also don’t have to slog away in a job I hate just to maintain my existence. 

It’s hard for a lot of people to be satisfied, though.  Even though I do pretty much get to do whatever I want most days, I still feel a bit unfulfilled.  I do sometimes feel like I’m just waiting to be done with this life.  Listening to “50/50” and reading the comments reminds me that I’m not alone in this reality.  I probably shouldn’t complain.  

Edited to add:  I played this song for Bill and he immediately got what Garfunkel and Oates were singing about, even before they got to the punchline.  Then I shared the comment I quoted in this post and he was about to protest, until I reminded him that many people aren’t lucky enough to pursue their dreams.  They’re simply trying to keep the lights on and the fridge full.  Often, accomplishing that involves slogging away at a job they don’t enjoy.  

So while I get the point of the song and enjoy it– I also realize that it really applies to a relatively small segment of privileged people who had the opportunity to even try to chase their dreams.  Many people are not that lucky.  That being said, as much as I complain, I do realize that I’m very lucky, and luck can be a fleeting thing.  

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Ex, mental health, narcissists

This sentiment really resonates with me right now…

Last night, an online friend and I were chatting on Facebook instant messenger. We had started conversing on my Facebook page, offering our thoughts about the new abortion law in Texas. I had mentioned that I hate Donald Trump for his part in this… and for many other reasons. And yes, I know Trump didn’t act alone. He had a lot of help from Mitch McConnell and other MAGA asshats who just want to keep people trapped in poverty as they hypocritically lecture them about morals. But basically, Trump is the face of a lot of really horrible people who only care about themselves and everybody else can just go to Hell. That is basically the very essence of narcissism.

Yep… that’s about right. People with money will always be able to get abortions if they want or need them.

My friend had basically said that she doesn’t care about Trump enough to hate him. She sees him like she’d see a scorpion. It’s his nature to be cruel. He can’t help himself. So she doesn’t expend the energy to hate him. I, on the other hand, am not like that by nature. People irk me and I react to them more than I should. And before I knew it, our conversation had segued from Trump to Ex. I wrote:

I understand that mindset [of not caring enough about Trump to hate him]. I just can’t help myself. But there are people I dislike as much or more than Trump, like the Ex. Every time I try to feel compassion for her, remembering that she’s mentally ill, I am reminded that she stole from her own children, sexually abused my husband, and turns people close to her into her slaves. I just really hate narcissists.

I explained that I believe my husband’s ex wife is a narcissist. But I also think she is mentally ill. I’m not the only one. She has been diagnosed by professionals. But she’s also just a very manipulative, selfish, shitty person who has done real harm to others. Unfortunately, some good people are still struck in her sphere. There’s not much we can do for them until they help themselves. It’s an awful feeling to watch good people who are trapped, and haven’t figured out that they need to help themselves… or even that there are people who would gladly help them to help themselves. But, as they say, it is what it is.

My friend was skeptical that Ex is mentally ill. She asked me some questions about Ex, and why I believe that besides being a shitty person, she’s also got legitimate issues with mental illness. Some of it may be organic. Some may have been brought on by abuse and trauma. Some may be because she’s just a nasty person. I explained that I believe a person can be mentally ill, and they can also simply be mean. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive.

Then I PM’d my friend with some sensitive information that clarified things a bit. I didn’t go into specifics of what happened, because the specifics don’t matter. What mattered was that a few years ago, I might have simply excused Ex for being “sick” with mental illness. I can’t excuse her anymore, though, because she has done some things that are just beyond the pale and, I know they aren’t due to mental illness. In fact, she often uses mental illness as a crutch, excusing herself for being a shitty person. I didn’t find out about the personal stuff until a few years ago. When I did find out about what happened, I was absolutely livid. It forever changed my opinion about Ex– not that it was ever very high– and made me conclude that she’s plainly damaged beyond repair.

More wisdom.

The conversation with my friend continued, and she eventually took my word that Ex is probably both mentally ill, and a terrible person. But she’s not as bad as she could have been. Believe me, I have realized that she could have done more to make our lives hell. She’s no longer a threat to me personally, but she’s still a threat to Bill’s daughters and the family members who aren’t clued in to what kind of a person she is.

Personally, I am at a point at which I don’t really care much about Ex. I might feel about her the way my friend feels about Donald Trump. I might see her as a reptile who just hurts people because it’s in her nature to do that. But then Bill talks to his daughter, who isn’t quite ready to go no contact. If she goes no contact, there’s a good chance she will pay a dear price. She may lose contact with other family members, for instance. So Ex remains a topic of conversation, even though personally, I could probably move on from caring or talking about her at all.

And then, I noticed something posted by another friend. I don’t know this friend as well… but what I do know is that she’s been going through something with a narcissist. She’s been posting nothing but quotes about narcissism lately. I mostly don’t notice her posts, because I’m not big on posting quotes and memes without explaining the context. But every once in awhile, she posts a gem. Last night, she posted the below image.

This sentiment really resonates with me right now.

For most of my life, I have been trained to tolerate dysfunction. I’ve been conditioned to ignore bad behavior and be “nice” at all costs, so as not to upset the apple cart. I’m not as good at ignoring bad behavior as some people are. I do have a bit of a temper, and I will lose it when people go too far. Sometimes, when I feel like I can’t be assertive, I’ll be passive aggressive, which isn’t a good solution. But, for the most part, I do try to avoid conflict, and sometimes I give people too much power. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and will sometimes excuse them when they shouldn’t be excused. Or, I simply put up with bad stuff from people when I should let it, and them, go.

We’re living in some incredible times. The past five years have been awesomely hard for many people. Bill and I have been mostly fortunate, mostly because we haven’t been living in the United States. But we have been watching the turmoil from afar, and that has been very stressful and worrisome. I’ve found that living in Germany has given me some empathy for people who have come to America from countries where there’s a lot of strife. Bill and I are not in Germany illegally, but it’s still not our home. We love living over here, and we’re not in a hurry to leave. But we still have friends and family who are dealing with the strife as we look on from abroad.

Living in another country has its challenges, although things are pretty good for us. I’m not stupid enough to compare the United States with Afghanistan or El Salvador or Syria or Honduras… or any other place where things are just horrifying. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is plenty horrifying, though… and it takes energy to process it and what it might mean for the future. Why should I let some low level idiot who is up to no good upset me? Especially when there really are much bigger fish to fry? They don’t care about me. Why should I care about them?

I don’t have the energy or stamina to put up with people who deliberately cause chaos, especially if I don’t have an investment in them, and especially when the chaos is over something really petty or insignificant. At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot invested in most other people. It’s probably because I do live in another country. I haven’t seen most of my family since 2014. I haven’t seen friends in that long, either. The ones I’ve made in Germany, by and large, aren’t real friends. They are friendly for a short amount of time, then disappear. So why should I tolerate any disrespect from them? Why should I let them upset me?

Of course, it’s probably in my nature to get upset. Just like I can’t see Donald Trump as a mere scorpion, I can’t help but be irritated by people who go out of their way to be manipulative, disrespectful, or just plain mean. I react more than I should, but lately, I’ve been trying to learn to let things go. I’ve been making a concerted effort not to get into it with people… especially people I don’t know. People who don’t care at all about me aren’t worth the tears. Peace is important, and I am as entitled to it as anyone is. So, instead of addressing stuff that I know will turn into something dramatic, I just quietly take out the trash.

As I was telling my friend last night, there are some people in the world that want to deny you your vote. Yes, some people literally want to deny you your vote in political matters, but I’m also talking about your vote in interpersonal situations. Like, for instance, when Ex unilaterally decided to have Christmas at my in-laws’ house, and demanded that I show up there for two days of hell during the biggest holiday of the year. She never asked me what I thought of the plan. I was simply expected to show up and shut up, forfeiting my right to enjoy Christmas.

Well… I realized then that I had a vote. I had a right to vote “no” to her Christmas plan, and stay home. Yes, there was a price to be paid for voting that way. She decided to punish everybody else for my choice. On the other hand, those people– most of whom were adults– almost chose to accept her “punishment” and disrespect. What they really should have done was tell her to fuck off and kick her out of their lives. It’s hard to do that when kids are involved… I know that. But, even in that situation, there were choices that could have been made. Bill had the right to take the Ex to court, for instance. Or, the in-laws could have told her and #3 to get a hotel room. Or they could have refused to host her little drama altogether. In some way, they could have REFUSED to tolerate her bullshit and just plain not shown up or stuck around for it.

I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to me. As I have said before, I think the universe often gives us multiple chances to learn valuable lessons. This is one of those times. I got a lesson last week, as a matter of fact.

Last week, I got involved in some petty dramas that upset me quite a bit more than they should have. I was upset and frustrated, when I should have been enjoying the Black Forest, which was genuinely beautiful. The people who were causing the strife weren’t people I’m close to or care about. I was simply indulging them and giving them a lot more air time than they deserved. I’ve done that for too many people… Ex included. The vast majority of people are simply not worth the consideration.

I don’t like blocking, unfriending, or even unfollowing people… and I mostly don’t like it when people do that to me (although there are times when it was actually a mutual decision… they just acted first). But– I realize we all have our limits, and X amount of energy. The older you get, the more you realize that time and energy are precious. So it makes sense to spend those valuable commodities on people and issues that truly deserve them.

People like “Dick”, the wine group saboteur, Ex, Trump, and any number of other people with whom I can’t reasonably collaborate or cooperate, simply aren’t worth my time, energy, or attention. They don’t appreciate the sacrifice. And so, today I’m going to try to make a concentrated effort to kick those people out of my life as much as possible. I already feel a lot better having dumped a few of those folks… kind of like I did this morning, purging yesterday’s shit from my system.

And now… Noyzi and Arran are telling me it’s time for a walk. So I’m off to blow off some steam. Hope you have a good Friday… and as my friend Wilbur sings, “Don’t let life chew the sweet out of you.”

“Itty bitty problems” aren’t worth the stress. This song is non-sensical, but it makes me laugh.

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condescending twatbags, Ex, memories, narcissists, nostalgia

“Dick”… a man who doesn’t know dick! On not “suffering in silence” anymore…

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.

A little 90s era mood music for people like “Dick”…

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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