communication, Ex, family, narcissists, psychology

“Don’t lose touch with the important people in your life…”

Good morning, everybody. I had quite an interesting dream in the wee hours of the morning, just after Arran woke us up to be fed, at about 4:00 AM. Somehow, I managed to get back to sleep, and I soon found myself in a weird place in Asia, with Bill. I dreamt that we both got COVID, but it wasn’t a very bad case. We were over it quickly, and soon entering a familiar building, as in I felt like I’d been there before, or seen it before. It was deja vu in a dream. I don’t remember much else, except that I do know that the actor/musician/Facebooker Robbie Rist was also in the dream. He had bought a portable storefront building, which he’d had delivered to Key West, Florida. This is some random stuff, I know. I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe it was the tequila I drank last night.

It’s Thursday, which means I have to vacuum. I did some furniture rearranging yesterday, too. I moved our new wine/riddling rack into our dining room, and rolled away a kitchen cart that had served a purpose in our previous house. It’s now sitting in our foyer, next to another kitchen cart I bought for that house. In the old house, the two carts fit. In this house, they don’t fit so well and look out of place, although we do need the cabinet space and drawers they offer. We don’t have enough dedicated storage space in this house. German homes don’t usually have closets, which is a real pain.

I’ve always hoped to have my own house that I might make my own somehow, but we’ve moved so many times over the past twenty years, that it’s really hard to arrange that. So I have a hodgepodge of stuff, some of which has been in storage in Texas since 2014 and is probably in bad shape, thanks to the intensity of Texas heat. The storage facility is supposed to be temperature controlled, but that might not mean anything in a state with the power grid Texas has.

Somehow, I always figured I’d be living differently than I do, with connections to people and maybe a connection to one or two places. But I finally got the military nomadic lifestyle I missed out on by being born so late in my dad’s Air Force career. It’s not always a bad thing. It gives me a chance to see a lot. Like, for instance, sketchy tweets by a certain ex…

This week, I noticed that Ex posted a tweet with some surface wisdom in it. Part of it serves as today’s post title. She was having an exchange on Twitter with someone… I don’t know if this is a person she knows offline. Knowing her, it’s probably a stranger to whom she’s ingratiated herself. It looks like they have a love of a certain television show as their common thread. The person Ex was tweeting to is not a native English speaker, and a couple of weeks ago, she wrote that she had just said goodbye to someone. Ex had responded at the time, writing that her “best friend” had died a year ago, and she “[doesn’t] yet know how to live without her”.

Then she added another comment that gave me pause: “Be brave; everything will be ok. If you are more than friends… chase him down and pounce on him like a Tigger, though!!!!”

Yikes… for one thing, I cringe at the name, Tigger. You see, I once had a college roommate who went by that nickname. She was extremely loud, dramatic, and obnoxious– even worse than I am. She had super long, thick hair, and she used to swing it back and forth everywhere, dropping long strands of hair all over our dorm room. She was very much an attention seeker who was kind of fake. She also wasn’t much for showering, for some reason. Mary Beth, if you’re reading this, you know exactly of whom I write.

My ex roommate, Tigger, and I didn’t get along, and I’m sorry to say that my experience with her left me a bit traumatized, to the point of being kind of put off by a different woman I met a few years later who really reminded me of her. I wasn’t very nice to Tigger, or the other woman who reminded me of her. I did eventually apologize to the other woman… which was a shock to her. I genuinely felt badly about my annoyance, since it really wasn’t her fault that she bore such a strong resemblance to my ex roommate. And yet, I was also left legitimately scarred by my living experience with Tigger in college. In fairness, I probably traumatized Tigger, too. We just didn’t mesh at all. I do try to do better now. I don’t spend much time with people anymore. Anyway, that has nothing to do with Ex, except that it’s kind of strange that Ex would use that character– Tigger– to advise her online friend… It’s very cringey.

Oh my GOD. I’m more like Eeyore, myself. That’s probably why “Tigger” and I didn’t mesh.

For another thing, Ex kind of did what she advises her “friend” to do. She tracked down Bill in the late 80s, after her first husband ran into him on a military flight from Germany to the States. Ex, #1, and Bill all went to high school together, so they knew each other before the Army. When #1 told Ex that he’d run into Bill, she found out where he was in Germany and showed up on his doorstep with ex stepson, who was a toddler at the time.

Ex gave Bill the rush– pouncing on him, and taking advantage of his kind nature, inexperience with women, and vulnerability. She bowled him over with positive regard, attention, and manic energy. Next, she convinced Bill that #1 was an abusive asshole. Bill believed her, and decided to become a “white knight”. It didn’t occur to him, back then, that one day, she’d falsely tell #3 that Bill had abused her, too. We’re still dealing with the aftermath of Ex’s decision to chase down Bill and “pounce” on him like Tigger. (eeeew)

Anyway, Ex’s online friend thanked her, then praised her for being “so sweet”. Then she offered Ex her friendship, since Ex’s bestie had died, adding that her friend who had said goodbye was more like a brother to her. He left to make a better life for himself, so she accepted that he needed to do for himself.

It took Ex over two weeks to respond to her new online “friend”. But, when she finally did, this is what she wrote:

I understand that… you can still stay in touch! Don’t lose contact with the important people in your life, even if you only talk to them once in a #StrawberryMoon.

This advice doesn’t seem unreasonable. But then I ponder what Ex has actually done in her life. She’s divorced two men, having falsely accused both of them of horrific abuse. She’s forced her children to change their surnames and denied them access to their natural fathers. Two of her children have moved far away from her and actively avoid talking to her. One of her children doesn’t even call her “mom” in front of her kids, because she doesn’t want her mother to influence her children. And, based on Ex’s Twitter handle, it looks like she doesn’t even know that her latest grandchild has been born.

Once again, I caveat that, technically, none of this is any of my business, and I probably shouldn’t be looking at this stuff… Except I do, because Ex really doesn’t lose contact with “the important people” in her life. And by that, I mean she stays in contact with the families of her exes, even if she doesn’t talk to the exes themselves. However, when she “hoovers”, it’s not because she genuinely wants to be friends or family. It’s because she wants or “needs” something. Because I pay attention to what she does, I often catch her doing stuff she shouldn’t be doing, especially to people in Bill’s family.

For instance, Ex got in touch with #1’s family in 2009, when she decided to get ex stepson back in touch with his “abusive” father. She did that, not for generous or altruistic reasons, but to get back at Bill for allowing me to write her an email that gave her a severe narcissistic injury. In that email, I pointed out that she regularly emotionally abuses her children by forcing them to divorce their fathers. So, she retaliated by talking ex stepson into secretly changing his last name to what it was originally, and getting him in touch with his “real” dad, who never paid child support after Bill “replaced” him. Ex stepson was found out, and that resulted in his losing out on most of the last year of “child support” (for a 21 year old), and destroying the relationship with Bill. Actually, that was his choice. Bill would happily talk to his ex stepson anytime. Also, I suspect that the relationship would have been ruined, anyway, since it appears that ex stepson was only interested in money.

More recently, she got back in touch with Bill’s bereaved stepmother, showing up at her house with Bill’s long lost older daughter in tow, as well as her daughter with #3. She wasn’t there just to visit, though. She was there because she wanted money and “stuff”, even going as far as giving SMIL packaging materials so she could box up things to send to Ex– “to pass down” (or sell on eBay). Ex doesn’t have any shame, and she never forgets a previous source of supply. So she always shows up again, somehow. I feel pretty certain that if I were to divorce Bill or die, she would try to make nice with him. She is very practiced at trying to get back into people’s good graces, even when she’s practically blown up proverbial bridges with dynamite!

I know I shouldn’t be surprised that Ex knows what the “right” thing to say or write is. She’s always willing to “make amends”. It sounds wise not to lose touch with the “important” people in one’s life. And her two ex husbands, no doubt, were important people in her life, so she doesn’t lose touch… even if she doesn’t actually speak to them. Like most narcissists, she uses other people to do the dirty work. She stayed in touch with people in #1’s family and used him to hurt Bill when he dared to defy her orders. And she’s stayed in contact with Bill’s stepmother, so she can keep tabs on Bill and exploit her for money, material goods, and narcissistic supply. You can bet it will happen again, as long as these folks allow her any contact.

I could ignore her, like I did for years… but either way, she really won’t be ignored. As long as younger daughter is talking to Bill, she will be around… So like it or not, we will have to stay vigilant. Kind of like June in The Handmaid’s Tale.

“You will never be free of me.”
“You don’t deserve to make amends to anyone.”

But she also stays in touch with celebrities… and she has no shame about asking them for stuff, too…

…could you please share with anyone you think might be interested in helping us. Our next expenditure will be a service puppy’s training. I found a place to get a puppy (I hope), but need to pay $12k for the training! Och aye!!!! Our needs are great & friends few.

and

Can you help Autistic wanderer NEEDS fence on the Generosity Network? Every little bit helps!

and

Congratulations on this honor! Coach Sam, could you please, please, please, recommend a point of contact at the conservatory for my daughter who wants to do a study abroad in acting and learning to do more types of voices?

and

Puppy breath is the BEST!!! I cannot wait until we can afford to get a service puppy for my autistic son!!! I know it will be life changing. I just know it!

I really hope she doesn’t get a puppy. I know what happens to living beings who are under her care. They all end up abused and eventually discarded… then hoovered. Fortunately, I also know that most of her big ideas are either overcome by events, or usurped by other shiny passions and whims. That gives me some comfort about the puppy, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s sketchy as hell. When she tries to “stay in touch” or “make amends”, it’s never for friendship or familial love. It’s because people are tools for her agenda. It’s a chilling thought, isn’t it? Makes me cringe.

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advertising, LDS, religion

Repost: Selling church…

I was looking for some old commentary about the Duggar family yesterday when I ran across this post from August 24, 2016. It made me cackle as I read it, so I decided to preserve it for posterity’s sake. The post actually has little to do with the Duggars, but it is about religion, and how religion can screw up people’s lives on many levels. I tagged the Duggars, though, because at the time I wrote this, Jessa Seewald was pregnant with her second child, who went on to be named Henry. I commented that I hoped the second baby would have a name less obnoxious than “Spurgeon”. I guess the name Henry is less obnoxious indeed, so kudos to Jessa and Ben for that.

Every once in awhile, someone in our local Facebook group will ask about where to go to church.  Germany has many churches, of course, but most of us in the local Facebook group are English speakers.  A service conducted in German is not so useful.  Many people attend services on one of the local installations.  Not everyone has access to the installations, though.  And some people are looking for a specific type of service.

I had to giggle yesterday when a newcomer asked where she and her family could attend services.  She has three kids and wants to find an American style church that will be good for them.  Her family is not affiliated with the military, so they have no access to the installations.  And they are Methodists.  Well…  sure enough, there were quite a few folks who were willing to sell their church.

There are always folks from the two Baptist churches scouting for members.  The first time we lived here, we were invited to a Baptist church by a woman who was a lapsed Catholic.  Bill and I don’t attend church.  He’s too scarred from being Mormon and I just don’t give a shit about church that much.  I think Bill is actually a lot more spiritual and potentially religious than I am.  I’ve just never really cared too much about attending church one way or another.  I see church as a place to go for socializing and sometimes pretty music.  A good minister who isn’t too boring is a huge plus.

This is a picture of the closest thing my family has to a “family church”. My dad and his siblings were raised in this Presbyterian church in Natural Bridge, Virginia. I, too, was raised Presbyterian, but it hasn’t seemed to have stuck.

Someone also mentioned a church near one of the installations that is Pentecostal/Assemblies of God.  I knew a lot of folks who were involved in that faith when I was growing up.  I’d say it’s not much like Methodism.  Methodists are rather mainstream and moderate.  The AoG and Pentecostal folks struck me as being a lot more like holy rollers.   

One person mentioned an English speaking Anglican church.  I think if I were inclined to attend services, that’s the one I’d want to go to.  But the original poster says she’s wanting an American style church and my guess is that the Anglican church would not be very American.

And yes, sure enough, there was a plug for the local Mormon ward.  The folks who were plugging it touted the excellent youth program and said a person can be as “active as they want to be”.  It was all I could do not to comment that there is a HUGE difference between Mormonism and Methodism.  One brave soul did ask the question and I know he knew the answer:  “Is there a significant difference between your faith and the Protestant faith?” 

One of the LDS ladies selling the Mormon church advised him to visit one of the official church Web sites for information.  Right.  Because we can’t have people finding out the non whitewashed version of what Mormonism is all about, can we?  The person who advised the guy to visit LDS.org or Mormon.org took pains to empathize that Mormons believe in Jesus Christ and is a Christian faith.  She also mentioned “instantaneous friends”.

Now…  here’s one thing that maybe the LDS apologist hasn’t considered.  Real friendships aren’t formed “instantaneously”.  Real friendships take time to develop, and must be nurtured.  “Instant friendships” are most likely going to be assigned friendships.  Assigned friendships are almost always fake.  The LDS church is pretty much rife with assigned friends.  Home visitors, visiting teachers, Relief Society, and everything else…  They will be friendly until you start asking uncomfortable questions.  Aside from that, it may be pretty damaging for young women to be told that if they engage in sexual contact before marriage, they are akin to chewed pieces of gum or shattered vases.

The apologist also emphasized that newcomers are “welcomed”.  Maybe that’s so, at least the first time a person shows up to a meeting.  But if he or she starts coming regularly, there will be pressure to be baptized.  There will be pressure for the newcomers to get on board with the status quo– look the right way, dress the right way, drink the right liquids, pay the right amount of tithing…  I highly doubt that a person who comes to meetings for the three years a typical military tour lasts will simply be encouraged to attend casually.  Mormonism requires big lifestyle changes that the entire family is pressured to embrace.

And yet…  this is what the apologist says…

“…you will find a very welcoming group of individuals and families who simply wish to share the hope and happiness they find in following this faith.

If that’s true in Stuttgart, it would be the first time I’ve seen a group of Mormons take a laid back approach to their faith.  You’d think that people who are sincere about wanting to sell their church would want to be honest and upfront about what attending would mean.  And if they have nothing to hide, then why can’t an investigator take the time to read multiple sources to help them make up their minds?  Even if there are a lot of people with axes to grind posting about Mormonism, it seems to me that a person with strong faith and conviction could easily overcome those obstacles.  Moreover, if there are a lot of people with axes to grind, maybe that should tell you something about the church itself.

I guess I can understand being a member of a church you love and feeling like everyone misunderstands it.  On the other hand, if you expect people to join your church, you should be open to allowing them to make an informed decision.  Mormonism and Methodism are not much alike.  They have different beliefs.  The newcomer looking for a new church should do her homework for her own sake, and that of her kids.  I did notice, though, that she knew something about Mormons.  She responded to the one guy who asked about “significant differences in beliefs” and told him to “Google Mormons”.  I guess she got the message.

On a different note, yesterday I listened to a very interesting discussion/interview conducted by a guy who interviewed a woman raised according to Bill Gothard’s principles.  It was quite eye opening and really put a different spin on fundamentalism.

This guy, Chris Shelton, usually talks about Scientology, but in this video he talks to a woman who was raised in the Quiverfull movement.  Crazy stuff!

Edited to add in 2021: originally, I ended this post with my comments about Jessa’s second pregnancy. But since she’s now had four kids and is living in her sex pest big brother’s old house, I figure that commentary is no longer relevant. I think I’m just glad that I don’t care about going to church. Seems like it can cause a lot of problems for people. I wonder if Josh Duggar would have turned out more normally if he had been raised in a home where he was free to talk about sex. Maybe he wouldn’t have been normal in any case, but I really don’t think fundie Christianity and its many rules and regulations, as well as its clearly misogynistic bent, helped matters at all.

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