Bill, mental health, Reality TV

A tale of two big CRASHES!!!!

Mornin’ folks. It’s a foggy morning here in Wiesbaden. The air is chilly and damp, and although it’s almost 8:00am, it’s still kind of dark outside. Yep… time for the time to change back to standard time. Bill came home yesterday, and this morning, when he went to work, I wished him a “good night.” Then I realized, it’s morning, and we still have the whole day in front of us. But, at least it’s Friday.

Arran had his second chemo treatment yesterday. I’m going to write the details of it on my other blog, but I will happily report that he tolerated the treatment just fine. While he’s not in remission yet– not that I was expecting him to be– his blood test results indicate that his body is fighting the cancer. And he is MUCH better this week than he was last Wednesday, the day before we started chemo. He was very happy to see Bill, too.

I was also happy to see Bill, because after two nights of very abbreviated sleep, I REALLY needed a full night’s rest. And that’s what prompted today’s blog post title, along with some news I read this morning. But first, I have to write about the “big crash”, because it’s kind of funny.

As some of my regular readers might know, Bill has been seeing a Jungian therapist for the past year or so. I can’t remember exactly when he started seeing his therapist, but the journey has been fascinating for both of us. Jungian therapy focuses a lot on dreams, which has always been an interest for Bill. And so, his work with his therapist includes a lot of talk about dreams and what they mean.

Because Arran has been on prednisolone for a week, he’s been suffering the side effects. And because he’s been suffering the side effects, so have I. The drug is wonderful in terms of how it helps him with his lymphoma, but it also makes him pee a lot and feel ravenous. So, during the two nights before Bill came home, Arran repeatedly woke me up to let him go outside, and for food. After I woke up the first time, I couldn’t fall asleep again. I was hoping for a nap yesterday, after we visited the vet for another dose of Vincristine, but there was no such luck. Just as I was about to doze off, Bill came home, and there was a joyful reunion between him and the dogs. I had to witness it.

Last night before bed, Bill told me he had some ZzzQuil, and maybe I should take some so I could get some rest. I often take an Advil PM before bed, but I ran out of them before Bill came home. I took a couple of those Zzzquil and, sure as shit, they knocked me out cold. At about 4:30am, Arran woke us up. I was in the middle of a very vivid dream that, apparently, had something to do with pastries and breads. I do remember trying to talk to Bill about the dream, which I thought was real. I was talking about a spinning wheel, made of breads with a bread handle on it. Even as I was mumbling about it, I knew on some level that I was talking about a dream, and yet it seemed very real at the time. I could not get the right words out to explain, despite trying several times.

Finally, I heard Bill say, “I think you’re coming out of a dream.”

I said, “I know… I’m not making any sense right now, am I?”

I tried a couple more times to explain what I was talking about, but then I went back to sleep and was out cold for another two hours. I woke up again at 6:20 when Arran flapped his ears. I know that I had a whole lot of dreams last night, most of which I don’t remember at all. But this is what happens when you finally sleep after not getting enough rest.

After I got up, I went down to the kitchen and Bill gave me some coffee that was vastly superior to what I made for myself while he was gone. He said he measures the beans by weight, rather than tablespoons. We talked a little more about what I had been trying to tell him about as I was recovering from my “big crash”. Then I looked at the news, and read the news about Kim Plath of Welcome to Plathville and her apparent “big crash”.

I’ve written about Kim Plath a couple of times. She’s the matriarch of the Plath family on TLC’s Welcome to Plathville, mother of nine living children, and owner of a dance studio in Cairo, Georgia, which is very close to the Florida border. I didn’t start watching Welcome to Plathville until it had been on for at least a season or two. I think I watched it because of pandemic boredom, and because huge, hyper-religious families are fascinating to me.

Anyway, in watching that show, I heard about how Kim had grown up with a neglectful alcoholic mother and, when she was in college, she partied way too much. Later, she met and married Barry Plath, who is very much a teetotaler. She then became sort of a fundie and, I guess, lost herself in being a wife and mother. During the most recent season of Welcome to Plathville, Kim announced that she and Barry were going to be ending their marriage. She opened a dance studio, then started drinking. I remember in one episode, she’s shown doing tequila shots with her model son, Micah. This was after years of abstinence.

The U.S. Sun was the first paper to report on Kim’s arrest for driving under the influence, property damage, and personal injury on October 20, 2022. She turned herself in at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office in Crawfordville, Florida at 2:08 am. The U.S. Sun reports that Mrskickstand on Tik Tok was the first to report of the arrest, which is not Kim’s first for an alcohol related offense. On April 7, 1991, Kim was busted for having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Sadly, it appears that she’s back to her old habits, but this time, someone got hurt.

@mrskickstand Replying to @aroszkuz #greenscreen #fyp #plathville #plathfamily #welcometoplathville #plathvilletiktok #plath #plaths #tlc #plathvillefamily #plathfamily #tlctv ♬ original sound – The Irrelevant Teen Mom

A link to the Tik Tok about this…

I don’t know a lot about what happened in this case. I haven’t had the chance to read much about it at this point, and I’m sure that people who care a lot more about this will write much more about it than I will. I do want to say that I feel kind of bad for Kim, not because I think there’s any excuse for driving drunk or that she shouldn’t be punished, but because I think she has a lot of internal baggage that she’s never dealt with. I am Kim’s age, and like Kim, I grew up with an alcoholic parent. I have an inkling of what that might have been like for her, although in her case, it was her mom who was the drunk. If memory serves, her father wasn’t around, so she had to rely on her mother to take care of her. And then, after some time being “crazy” during her college years, she hooked up with a man who promoted a lifestyle that would not be alcoholic.

Alcoholism is an illness that leads to a lifestyle that vacillates between control issues and complete chaos. My father was often a very controlling person. He was also very neglectful and abusive at times, and sometimes he didn’t give a shit about things that were very important. When you’re a kid growing up with a parent like that, it’s painful, because while their behavior has nothing to do with you, you’re a child, and you internalize the bad things they say and do. You think there is something wrong with YOU, when really it’s your parent who has the issues and is passing them on to you. I know this firsthand.

This is what happened to me and my sisters. I have seen and heard about it from other people with alcoholic parents. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but I think the vast majority of us with alcoholic parents can agree that this is a common pattern. And it doesn’t really matter if the parent abstains from drinking, if they never actually explore the issues that come from that lifestyle. They still engage in the destructive behavior patterns that a drinker does.

I think it’s possible that Kim was a “dry drunk” for decades, which may account for some of her extreme control issues. But that’s just a wild guess from me, coming from what little I know from her reality show. I think the money from the TV show opened up some possibilities that she never thought she’d have. She dove in, head first, and is now finding that she’s been missing out on a lot. Unfortunately, she has a genetic link to drinking, and it appears that she has gone a bit off the deep end. I hope she gets the help she needs, and people show her some mercy. Because, while I don’t excuse what she did, I see this as a sign that she really needs help. She is clearly in distress. And she still has kids who need her to be around for them.

Lots of people who don’t know me well have negative opinions about me. For a long time, it bothered me a lot. Now that I’m 50, I’m not as bothered about it as I used to be, because I know the truth, and the people who matter to me, know the truth. But I would be lying if I said there aren’t residual effects from growing up in a family system where one of my family members treated me like I had little to no value. I think being raised like that can cause people to turn to negative behaviors that they somehow think will make them feel better. Or maybe it’s just easier to engage in dysfunction than be honest with themselves and face the pain and humiliation of having a parent who is abusive and neglectful, and chooses alcohol over their own flesh and blood.

I’m sure a lot of Kim’s issues stem from this neglect and abuse that she probably endured as a child… and she tried to make people who would accept and love her unconditionally. Sadly, one of Kim’s own beautiful children died due to her own negligence. And obviously, that loss still weighs heavily on her. She probably drinks because of that loss– and the loss of her marriage, as well as her son, Ethan’s, estrangement. She’s trying to find new ways to feel better. Booze is very sexy, but it’s not a way out of that pain. I know this, and write this, even though I drink booze, too.

I suspect Kim is one of those people that has a lot of detractors. I know how she feels, in that regard. It hurts. Anyway, I hope this situation doesn’t result in her having to go to prison for a long time. I think she’d be much better off in a residential rehab, with serious work with a mental health professional who can help her unpack the huge burdens she’s been carrying since childhood. Yes, she absolutely needs to be held accountable for what happened, but it shouldn’t ruin her life. Just my take. Sometimes crashes are beautiful things. When they lead to much needed sleep, or much needed therapy and accountability, they can be life changing for the better.

Well, that about does it for today’s post. I think I will write about Arran’s chemo on the travel blog… then maybe, if the weather stays yucky, record a new song, even if Noyzi demands a walk, like he did yesterday. Have a nice Friday, y’all.

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dogs, family, holidays

Christmas time’s a comin’…

Bwahahahaha… It’s that time of year again.

Last night, I was sitting on the bed, watching YouTube videos, and fretting about Arran, who has his first chemo appointment on Thursday. I got an email from my eldest sister. I haven’t heard from her in months; although in fairness, she also hasn’t heard from me. It was a message about Christmas. She wants to host it in her house, and has invited us to come to her home in North Carolina for it.

My sister is 13 years older than I am, so we’re not very close. Moreover, I haven’t celebrated Christmas with my family of origin since 2003. That Christmas, which was held at my parents’ former house, was a disaster. Bill and I ended up leaving after one night. The following year, Bill’s ex wife “invited” us to spend Christmas at Bill’s father’s house. Because of the previous year’s disastrous gathering with my own family, I wisely opted out of attending Ex’s holiday soiree. Although we did have Christmas dinner with my eldest sister in 2012, when Bill and I lived in North Carolina, it was not an overnight affair. Aside from spending Christmas in France a few years ago, Bill and I have done Christmas on our own. We both much prefer it that way.

This year, though, it would be difficult for us to go back to the States for the holidays. First off, Arran is starting chemo on Thursday, and that will entail needing weekly visits to the vet for nine weeks, then, if he survives, monthly visits. I don’t know how he’ll do on the chemo. It’s possible that it won’t work at all, and we’ll lose him very soon. Or, it may work beautifully, and we’ll have him for some time. Right now, my goal is to get him beyond Bill’s two TDY trips this month. I would love to see him make it to January, so he can celebrate ten years of being in our family. After that, any additional time would be golden. He’s an old guy, and he can’t live forever, especially with a lymphoma diagnosis. He is starting to get sicker, though, so I don’t know what will happen. Hopefully, we can get him some temporary relief, at the very least.

Also, since it’s almost mid October, my guess is that our usual boarding spot is already fully booked for the holidays. We would still have to board Noyzi, even if we lose Arran. And even if we don’t lose Arran, I don’t want to board him anymore. I think it’s too hard on him. We do have a trip to France planned next month, for our 20th wedding anniversary. But we plan to take the dogs with us for that trip. We have stayed in the apartment I booked several times before. The landlord is very dog friendly, and we know the area well. I think it will be okay to go, even if all we do is sit there and drink wine.

I find Christmas pretty stressful, anyway, especially when it’s spent with my family of origin. I am the youngest sister by eight years, and my family seems to find me burdensome and obnoxious. Although it might be hard for some people to believe, I don’t enjoy being around people who don’t enjoy being around me. I’m not one to put in an appearance, either, because at 50 years old, I’ve done it for too many years. From my earliest days, I’ve been told by my family members what a pain in the ass I am, and criticized for everything from my appearance to the way I laugh. Add in the fact that my sister’s husband seems to enjoy watching my family fight and is a Trump supporter. There’s a tendency for people to drink too much and be rude, and I just don’t think it would go well. I mean, who wants to be on a plane eight hours at the busiest time of the year for that?

I do love my family. I especially love my mom, even though she’s the source of a lot of trauma. She’s in her 80s, and I haven’t seen her since 2015. I’ve lost quite a few relatives since I was last “home”, back in 2014. I’m sorry that I’ll never see them on Earth again, but I don’t think any of them really wanted to see me again, anyway. And, to be frank, I don’t get the sense that my immediate family wants to see me that badly, either. Like I said… we’re not that close. From the earliest years of my life, I got the impression that I was a “mistake”, and that I inconvenience people. Christmas should be a time of peace, love, and joy. Frankly, being around certain family members doesn’t make it so for me. I’d rather sleep in my own bed, listen to my favorite music, and be with someone who loves me for who I am… cackling laugh and barrel butt be damned.

It was nice to be invited to the gathering. I do appreciate the invite. But I think I’ve sworn off family holiday gatherings. I’ve had enough dysfunction to last me the rest of my life. At least this year, I do have a valid excuse to skip the trip to the USA, though. I can’t just leave my dogs here. Especially Arran. But then, I also don’t know that he’ll still be with us at Christmas. I do know, however, that he’s been more of a loving presence in my life and a real family member to me than most of my relatives have been… especially my immediate ones. Sorry to make that statement, but it happens to be true. At least from my perspective.

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Ex, narcissists

The big, stinking, rotten onion…

This is another very personal and possibly distasteful rant. The title should give you a hint. If you don’t want to read negativity, you might want to move on to your next Internet station.

Onions have layers. When you cut into an onion, there are rings that easily peel off to a deeper layer. If the onion is good, you have a savory herb that can enhance the flavors in your favorite dishes. That is, of course, if you like onions. Not everyone does. Onions can also be rotten, though, and when they rot, they STINK to high heaven. They turn all mushy and moldy, and they make a big mess. Lately, I feel like there’s a big stinking, rotten onion in my life.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed that I sometimes write about my husband’s ex wife. I write about her for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that writing about this stuff helps me process some of the layers of shit she creates by being such a toxic person. Every time I think I’ve discovered the grossest and rottenest layer of yuck when it comes to her, another layer appears. Such is the case right now.

I’ve been married to Bill for almost 20 years. I have never met his ex wife in person. And yet, I feel like I constantly uncover layers of stinking rot from his first marriage. Now… it’s okay that there’s rot, because Bill is worth it. He’s the ripest peach in the bushel. But I am continually shocked by the stench of rotten that comes from his ex wife. We know about it because Bill finally has contact with one of his two daughters, both of whom were estranged from him for many years.

I remember being frequently outraged by Ex’s antics back in the early 00s. I was furious at her sense of entitlement, the totally cruel and disrespectful way she treated Bill, and the assumption that I would be dancing to her tune. This is a woman who expects people to treat her with kid gloves, because if they don’t, she’ll make them pay dearly. She has a very twisted way of taking any confrontation someone directs at her, and turning it into some kind of sick punishment. Her punishments always cause collateral damage.

In 2006, Ex sent Bill adoption papers, demanding that he give up his parental rights so that his daughters could be adopted by their current stepfather (Ex’s third husband). She got their daughters to send him hateful letters disowning them. They arrived just in time for Bill’s birthday. Bill refused to give the girls up, but when they turned 18, Ex got them to legally change their surnames to their stepfather’s last name. Younger daughter later confessed that the letters were dictated and forced, and she had finally succumbed to extreme pressure to change her name. She went along with it, knowing that she would be getting married and changing her name, anyway.

In 2009, I accidentally discovered that Bill’s ex stepson, who had been using Bill’s last name, was going to change his name to what it was originally. Bill never heard about these plans, even though he was paying the then 21 year old $850 a child support. Ex had apparently talked him into reclaiming his original last name, because we pointed out to her that she has a habit of denying the fathers of her children access to their dads. Her response was to reunite former stepson with his father, who hadn’t spoken to him in many years, and never paid child support beyond the boy’s early childhood years.

She had expected Bill to be very angry and hurt. But Bill felt that his former stepson should never have been distanced from his father. I felt that his father should have been paying child support, instead of Bill… but Bill made more money than “dad” did. In any case, when Bill wasn’t upset at the reunification, a further step was taken, and former stepson filed paperwork to change his last name. And that was fine… except he never said a word about it to Bill, and he kept demanding money from him.

Again, I think Ex was expecting Bill to be very hurt… and he was. But instead of begging for a relationship with former stepson, Bill told him that this decision meant he was an adult, and no longer needed Bill’s “child support”. He stopped paying him, and sure enough, that meant the end of their relationship. I was very angry with former stepson. I felt this action was very telling about his character. It was a pretty terrible time of “onion rot”.

A few years later, Bill was having some medical issues that required seeing a urologist. The doctor noticed signs of abuse in an intimate area and asked him about it. Bill let me know that his former wife had sexually assaulted him in a way that, had he been a woman and reported it, she absolutely would have been arrested and gone to jail. I was devastated by that revelation. It was probably the worst and stinkiest of the onion rot. It took a long time to process it and stop being outraged. It had taken him fifteen years to tell me, and I was absolutely livid when he told me about it. I wanted to kill her. I didn’t think it could get worse.

And now… dear friends, we have discovered another deep layer of rot in Ex’s stinking onion. I don’t want to get too far into specific and sensitive details, except that it involves another sexual violation, and Ex’s completely inappropriate response to it that focuses only on her, and not on the actual victims. Years later, when it seemed like the outrage over the violation had passed, she randomly brought it up again… probably to keep the people involved in line, and shame them into doing her bidding. Of course, Bill was never told about any of this. He wasn’t able to help, because she wouldn’t include him. She probably figured I would call CPS. I sure the fuck wish I had. It was absolutely warranted. But sadly, I didn’t, because I didn’t know. I only had suspicions of what might be happening.

Ex is the kind of person who makes other people work for her, especially her children. We already knew that she basically used her eldest children as indentured servants of sorts, as well as sources of college loan money, which she makes them repay. Meanwhile, any time her money was needed to pay for something her children needed or wanted, she would either use it as a carrot on a stick, or she would complain about having to spend the money. We’re talking about things like equipment to correct medical problems. Younger daughter once told us that she had to use her birthday money to buy diapers for her little sister, because her mother didn’t have any money to buy them. This, even though Bill was sending her $2550 a month, which was a significant portion of his income at the time.

We discovered the other day that Ex also used one of her daughters to fix her relationship with #3. One time, #3 had a fight with Ex, and he decided he’d had enough of her abuse. He packed a bag and called a friend to come get him. One of the children was very upset about the fight. Ex asked her what she thought she ought to do. The child begged her to give #3 another chance. Ex told her to go out and beg her stepfather not to go. The funny thing is, the kid is not on good terms with #3 now.

Ex also had a bad habit of berating her children when they didn’t know things. She’d tell them to go figure it out for themselves. Younger daughter learned to become very self-sufficient, resourceful, and resilient. But when she turned 18 and decided to go her own way, Ex’s response was to become pathetic and “attempt” suicide. More onion rot. That must have been very confusing, given how Ex treated her children like they were impositions to her. They were obviously useful to her, though. She didn’t want them, yet she did. They can be used, as long as they stay under her power and don’t make any waves.

It’s tragic that this woman is a mother of five, and they have to live with the fact that whenever something bad happens, as they always do in anyone’s life experiences, she’s going to weaponize it. These children have grown up with a mother they can’t count on or trust. She uses them for her own means, and employs shame to keep them in line. The only cure is to cut her out of their lives, as they might a rotten onion. But she’s their mother… and that’s hard to do.

Good people who are close to her invariably feel responsible for the fact that she does what she does. She’s surrounded by hyper-responsible people who have been conditioned to take care of her endless wants and needs. Meanwhile, she hangs out on Twitter, and acts like she’s the biggest fucking humanitarian in the world. See these recent tweets:

I dare say my week will be filled with physical therapy & Gardening in my flower beds, this takes a lot of time and patience to create new beds. Re-watching @MenInKiltsSTARZ … because anything that takes me to my homeland is a treasured moment. (Scotland is NOT your homeland, Ex.)

The teen years are difficult. It does get better… but by then you must learn to let them fly on their own and your heart will cry with sadness, joy, and pride! (Please. She doesn’t let her children “fly”. Older daughter is 31 and still lives with her.)

…the only place I’ve found where I can get a signed copy of your book won’t ship to the USA. I’m of Highlander descent myself (Frasers du Lovat) and I await your journey there with great anticipation. Could you (or anyone) PLEASE help me get a signed copy? (What about that fence for your son, Ex?)

I think Ex uses Twitter to get supply, because they people who respond to her are strangers. They can only judge her by what they see. It’s a very superficial connection, and most of the people don’t confront her with the truth about what a reprehensible person she is.

Lately, I’ve been watching H.G. Tudor’s interpretation of Tom Bower’s brand new book, Revenge, which is mostly about Meghan Markle. H.G. Tudor claims to be a narcissistic sociopath. I’m not sure if he is or not, as being a narcissistic sociopath would not make him the best narrator about facts. I will state, however, that I’ve found his analysis of Markle is very interesting and astute. I’ve heard a lot that reminds me of Ex’s behaviors, especially when he speaks of Markle attributing other people’s interests, characteristics, and abilities. There is no doubt in my mind that my husband’s former wife is a textbook narcissist. It’s like she follows the playbook.

I love Bill with all my heart, so I will certainly stay with him, in spite of the rotting onion. He’s the very best kind of person, and worth all of the stench that comes from his time with his former wife. I don’t know how it is that people like Ex are able to find the best people. I will keep writing about her, because people like her thrive on people who don’t want to expose the rot. I made it clear early on, that I don’t dance to her tune, and I’m not going to keep her secrets.

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disasters, divorce, Ex, narcissists, royals

How petty, toxic, narcissists take revenge, and the estrangement that follows…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having been married to a man with an apparently very narcissistic ex wife, it’s that narcissists love to take revenge. Many times, over my almost twenty year marriage to Bill, I’ve observed Ex being spiteful to those who dare to cross her in any way. On a few occasions, Ex has tried to take revenge on Bill by using his children and other family members as weapons. She doesn’t seem to care that her attempts to get even are usually not just hurtful to her targets. They also hurt innocent people, like her children. And now that she has grandchildren, I fear that they could also be harmed, unless their parents keep them far away from her, and her toxic influence.

I’m reminded of this truism as I watch and read the news about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, abruptly flying back to California on a private jet before the Platinum Jubilee even finished. I think it’s safe to say that their return to Britain was not particularly triumphant, as Harry and Meghan were treated like they’re now second class. They weren’t invited to the balcony to wave to the public. They didn’t sit with the Prince Charles or Prince William when they were in church. And the public booed them when they arrived and left the Thanksgiving church service. The couple did get to introduce their daughter, Lilibet, to Her Majesty the Queen, and their son, Archie, also got to be reunited with his British cousins. But there were no photographs of the event, and the “Harkles” were reportedly not given close access to their family members. It’s been hypothesized that they weren’t allowed to get close because of their deal with Netflix and Harry’s upcoming memoirs. The family wasn’t wanting any private moments to be exposed on Netflix or in Harry’s expected book of woe.

After the chilly reception the “Harkles” got in Britain, the family didn’t bother to stick around for the grand finale of the Platinum Jubilee. Maybe they had other urgent business to attend to back in California, but my guess is that they were really pissed. Or… maybe only Meghan was pissed, and Harry simply went along with her to keep the peace. That was how it often was with Bill and his ex wife. He’d do what she wanted to avoid the pain of what she’d do to get revenge. On the other hand, I suspect that Harry has a bit of a temper and can be a little spiteful, himself. I obviously don’t know him personally, but I’ve read the news, and I pay attention to body language, too. It probably wasn’t a hard sell to get Harry on board, if Meghan was the one who instigated the abrupt departure from the festivities.

Jesus Enrique Rosas talks about the potential reasons why Meghan and Harry might have decided to curtail their brief return to Britain.

Consider the circumstances of this situation, though. The Platinum Jubilee was a huge party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s remarkable 70 year reign. It wasn’t supposed to be a party to welcome back Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan. All of the working royals, to include Prince Charles and Prince William, their spouses, and the Queen herself, were going to be extremely busy. Also consider that the Brits can be delightfully snarky, and they have long memories. Did Harry and Meghan really think they could come back to Britain and not suffer some backlash? Of course people are upset with them, even if there is some truth to some of what they’ve said about the British Royal Family. To many people, Harry and Meghan are incredibly privileged people, and their behavior has come off as unbelievably petty and damaging. But– since I don’t know them personally, I will admit that it’s possible that Harry and Meghan felt the situation was toxic, and left only for that reason. I really doubt that’s what happened, though.

Narcissistic types don’t like it when people behave in ways they don’t expect, especially when they “push back” against the narcissist’s rude and entitled behavior. I suspect that the Harkles’ return to Britain was very humiliating, and it didn’t go off in the way they thought it would. And sadly, I think Meghan and Harry are going to try to make the rest of the British Royal Family “pay” for this treatment, which I think was probably deeply shaming to them. Why? Because I’ve seen the same shit in more ordinary circumstances with average, everyday people. And I know that narcissists, by and large, have a playbook that is uncannily familiar. It doesn’t matter if we’re discussing a royal family or trailer trash. Narcissists are capable of being unbelievably petty and spiteful.

Many years ago, when Bill and I were newly married, and Bill was trying to handle his business with Ex more assertively, he sent a “stern” and rather lengthy email to his ex wife. He was addressing the fact that she was alienating the children, insulting me, and being extremely greedy about money. She had demanded that he get another $500K life insurance policy, because she felt entitled to $1 million in coverage, in case he died before the children were grown. I wrote about that incident here, to include the actual emails that were sent. Bill was polite to Ex, but he made it clear that he wasn’t going to be her patsy anymore.

Ex was angry that Bill wasn’t going along with her demands without question. She sent a very brief and foreboding response, which I’ve posted below:

I would like to take a little while to absorb all that you have said.  It would seem my email to you was set in a very different tone that what I perceive is coming from you.  After all that you have done to the children, and me I find this …quite frankly …unbelievable and would prefer not to comment without having time to carefully choose my words.  You will hear from me again.

Bear in mind, this email was sent in 2003, just after the children had their one and ONLY unsupervised visitation with us. Bill saw them only once more when they were still children; that was at Christmas, in 2004. I famously opted out of attending that “celebration”, because I knew it would be a disaster, and I couldn’t see how my presence would make things better. We knew better than to tell Ex that I wouldn’t be attending the gathering, because my attendance was most of her whole purpose for setting up what amounted to a supervised visitation. She wanted to send me a message about my (diminished) place in the family, gather intel about me (the somewhat new and threatening wife), and still look like she was being generous by “sharing” the children. Most of all, she wanted to humiliate both of us, and shame us into doing what she wanted us to do. Of course, Bill had every right to see his kids, and now regrets not taking Ex to court and forcing her to allow visitation. But, unfortunately, that’s now water under the bridge.

As I figured it would be, that Christmas meeting was indeed a disaster. My conspicuous absence made things “weird” and awkward, and Ex ended up looking like a petty fool. Bill’s dad and stepmother were very embarrassed, although everyone basically fixed the blame on me for upsetting the apple cart. Ex decided to get revenge by completely severing Bill’s connection to his daughters and ex stepson. It didn’t matter to Ex at all that this would be very hurtful and damaging to her children. She just wanted to hurt Bill, and the children were the most effective weapons for that task.

A few years later, Ex wanted Bill to side with her, when ex stepson decided to leave home after turning 18. Bill was paying him child support directly, per the agreement he made with Ex in their divorce decree. As usual, Ex hadn’t thought ahead, and didn’t realize that having the kids paid directly when they became adults would give them the chance to rid themselves of her. So she called Bill in the spring of 2006 to ask– or really demand– that he not pay ex stepson any child support. Bill refused, and demanded to know about how his daughters were doing, since they refused to speak to him when he called.

Ex’s response was to send a nasty email that, once again, insulted me, even though I initially had nothing to do with ex stepson’s decision to leave home. Bill told me what she wrote, because although she had asked him to keep what she wrote about me a secret, Bill doesn’t keep secrets from his wife. I got very pissed off, and sent Ex an email of my own, which she promptly tried to weaponize. She spoke to Bill on the phone again, insulted me anew, told Bill that the kids hated him, and later sent him adoption paperwork, so that her loser third husband could legally adopt Bill’s daughters. She also forced her daughters to write letters disowning Bill, and sent several itemized packages of Bill’s possessions that she’d held on to for years. All of this landed on our doorstep, restricted delivery, as Bill and I were celebrating his 42nd birthday. It was very upsetting and TOXIC as fuck, but we handled it as best we could. Bill refused to sign the adoption papers, although he was tempted to for a minute. But there was no guarantee she would file them, and besides, he had no way of knowing if the girls had written those letters under duress (and younger daughter now confirms that they were, indeed, forced).

When her sick, manipulative tactics still didn’t work the way she’d expected, Ex doubled down even more, which led to ex stepson severing ties with Bill after we caught him changing his surname without telling Bill, as he was also accepting $850 a month in child support from him, and driving a used car that Bill gave him (as a 21 year old MAN, no less). That fiasco was, no doubt, very humiliating for ex stepson, who probably only did it because his mother influenced him to do it. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had a role model who has taught him that a little humility and contrition can go a long way in healing rifts. Instead of humbling himself, having an honest converstion, and apologizing to Bill, thus “mending fences”, he simply cut off all ties. The end result is that ex stepson is now quite estranged– not just from Bill, but also from the rest of his family. Younger daughter says he rarely has contact with Ex, or his siblings. He never liked #3, so it stands to reason that they wouldn’t speak. I don’t know if the estrangement makes him happy and gives him peace. Maybe, it does. Personally, I think it’s pathetic, especially since I know he once thought of Bill as his dad; but if being completely estranged from Bill pleases him, so be it.

When I look at Harry and Meghan, and the obvious estrangement happening within the British Royal Family, I can’t help but feel pings of familiarity. They may be a lot more famous than we are, but the petty dysfunctional narcissism playbook is very similar to what we’ve experienced. Sadly, in Her Majesty’s case, it’s all on display on an international stage, for everyone to see, and for everyone to speculate.

This is a pretty cheesy video that sounds narrated by AI, but it makes some sense. It sounds like her friends could see this coming.

I have great respect for Queen Elizabeth II. She has not had an easy time of it. She wasn’t even supposed to be the queen, and she had that duty thrust upon her at a very young age. She’s had to endure as her children and grandchildren and their spouses and exes have been embroiled in all sorts of embarrassing situations. Through all of the scandals over the years, the queen has managed to hold her head high with dignity. She’s a good sport, even appearing with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee. And even at age 96, when she’s no doubt easily tired, she still shows up for her people.

This is just adorable and makes me weepy every time I watch it… and I think I’ve already seen it a half dozen times. I used to own a Paddington Bear from the 1970s, complete with genuine Wellies. I wish I knew where he was.

I noticed that today, a new picture of Lilibet has been shared with the public. It’s a solitary photo, showing a smiling little girl with ginger hair and what appear to be blue eyes. She’s definitely adorable, and the public will eat up the coveted rare photo. I suspect that the Harkles’ children could wind up being their ticket to relevance, since it appears that neither the Royal Family, nor the British public, are going to stand for their manipulative bullshit. I suspect Meghan had visions of being like Harry’s mum, the iconic Princess Diana. Well, she’s no Diana… and it’s obvious that almost no one is going to indulge that fantasy for her.

Actions have consequences, and you don’t just marry into a hugely famous and powerful family, such as Harry’s, and think you can call the shots. That idea doesn’t always work for “normal” families, either. Especially when people have had enough bullshit and refuse to be indulgent anymore. Moreover, this behavior is clearly nothing new. Meghan’s own brother even tried to warn Prince Harry before the wedding.

I hope that Harry will eventually be able to reconcile with his family. Sadly, I suspect that if he does decide to go “home” again, he will probably have to sacrifice access to his children, on some level… and if it doesn’t happen soon, he may also lose his Granny. She’s 96, and no one lives forever. On the other hand, if anyone has access to good legal counsel, it’s the British Royal Family. So maybe Harry’s situation won’t be anything like Bill’s was. I sure hope not.

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divorce, Ex, lessons learned, mental health, psychology, YouTube

“Kicking the cat…” What happens when anger is displaced…

Many years ago, when I was a college student at what is now Longwood University, I took a course called Interpersonal Communication. I took it because I was pursuing minors in both speech and communications, and the course counted for both minors. I don’t remember being particularly excited about the class when I signed up for it, but it turned out to be an interesting field of study. I remember it to be an examination of how people communicate in different settings, and while it was not a psychology class, certain psychological terms and concepts were covered. In fact, even though I took Psychology 101 during my freshman year, I distinctly remember learning about the concept of psychological projection for the first time in my Interpersonal Communication course. It was also in that class that I first learned about “displaced anger”.

Although Dr. Nancy Anderson Haga, the professor who taught that class, has long since retired, I remember that she was among the very first professors I met at Longwood when I was a fresh high school graduate attending orientation. I was struck by how energetic, caring, and positive she was. Then a couple of years later, when I was about 20 years old, I was in her class, and she was teaching us about how we communicate with each other. I didn’t know then that one of her lessons would come back to me in bold relief, two weeks before my 50th birthday.

Last night, Bill watched a video his younger daughter sent to him. She was thanking him for a box of goodies he sent to her, with stuff we picked up on recent trips to France and Italy, as well as some very superior German chocolate. In the course of the video, younger daughter talked about how much she loves to cook. Bill also loves to cook. So do I… or, at least I did before Bill took over the job. I used to be a great cook, and always enjoyed it because it was a creative activity. There’s an art to making something taste good, look appetizing, and be nurturing. Actually, I’m not that good at making “pretty food”, but I am pretty good at making food that is comforting. Bill is also good at that, and he’s also a fan of good presentation. He’s been known to plate our dinners with flair.

Younger daughter talked about how one of her in-laws really loves fresh bread, and he likes to have it at every meal. She likes to bake, so she was thinking she might like to make some bread to take over to her husband’s family’s house. I like to bake bread too, especially when I’m in a bad mood and need to pound the shit out of something. Bread baking is great for that.

As she was talking about baking rolls from scratch, younger daughter stated that she wasn’t always sure if people appreciated her efforts. Then her face got very serious and pained, and she said, “The only person who has ever complained about my cooking is my mother.”

One time, she asked Bill if her mother (Ex) had ever complained about his cooking. Bill had replied, “Of course. All the time!” As he was telling me about talking to his daughter about this, he laughed. But I can imagine that when Ex criticized his cooking, it probably really hurt his feelings. Here he had taken the time and expended the effort to make something nourishing for his ex wife, and her only thought was to disdain it in a mean way. Younger daughter then related a story that, frankly, I found heartbreaking. I could also see that telling us the story was making her feel bad anew, even though the incident had happened years ago.

Younger daughter and her older sister were tasked to cook for the whole family. If they didn’t cook, food wouldn’t be made, and someone would probably get into trouble. She explained that Ex and #3 were going through a particularly lean financial period. Consequently, there was very little food in the house. And yet, it was younger daughter’s implied duty to make dinner every night. There she was, faced with the task of making dinner for seven people, but there simply wasn’t much food in the house to accomplish that goal.

Younger daughter looked around to see what there was on hand to make dinner. She found frozen pie crust, instant mashed potatoes, some frozen vegetables, and a single chicken breast. Perfect! She could make a shepherd’s pie, of sorts. That would have been what both Bill and I would have done in that situation. It was quite genius, and she was able to make something edible and probably even tasty.

Younger daughter put together the pie, and was feeling pretty good and accomplished. Then Ex came home from wherever she’d been during the day. Younger daughter proudly presented the pie she had created out of the few ingredients in the house. Ex’s response was to declare it disgusting, refuse to eat, and lock herself in her bedroom for the rest of the evening.

I could tell that relating that story was very painful for younger daughter. But then she brightened and said she was grateful for where she is now. Ex no longer has the power over her that she once had. Like Bill, younger daughter was able to escape the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt). But the scars remain, and I know how that feels. Sometimes, old memories still come up that bring on the pain from the past.

Of course, Bill was pretty angry when he heard that story. I don’t know exactly when the incident happened, but it sounds like it might have occurred when Ex was still being paid child support. I believe younger daughter got the hell out of her mother’s house as soon as she could after turning 18. Either way, it was Ex’s responsibility to see that there was food in the house, and to make sure her children had enough to eat. Complicating matters was the fact that she wouldn’t allow Bill to help his daughters. She was too angry with him for that. We didn’t know this was going on, because they couldn’t and wouldn’t talk to Bill during that time. If Bill had known about this, he would have taken action. In retrospect, we should have taken action when she refused to let him communicate with his kids, but it seemed like it would have been a waste of time, since they were teenagers.

And that’s where the lesson about “displaced anger” comes into play. I remember learning about the concept in that college class at Longwood, and that’s why I titled this post “kicking the cat”. Displaced anger– otherwise known as “misplaced anger”– is when a person deals with their anger by directing it at a less threatening cause. It can take different forms. For instance, a person who was raised in an abusive home, with a parent who beat them, might try to soothe themselves by saying that it was okay that their parent hit them, since “that was how things were back in the day”. Or they might say, “he or she was just trying to make me tougher.” Meanwhile, the righteous anger is boiling under the surface, and it comes out against someone or something that is less able to fight back.

I remember in my Interpersonal Communication class, as she was explaining “displaced anger”, Dr. Haga talked about a man who comes home from work, angry with his boss for acting like a jerk. Instead of addressing the jerk boss, since that doesn’t feel like a safe thing to do, the man kicks his cat. Or he gets drunk and verbally abusive, and beats on his wife. Or he snaps at his daughter that the dinner she made looks and tastes like shit. Or maybe, if he’s a really sick and violent person, he takes the family dog out to the desert and shoots it (sadly, I do remember hearing and writing about a man who did this when he was angry with his wife).

It doesn’t matter that expressing anger in this way is harmful to innocent people or animals. The anger feels like it has to come out, and it doesn’t feel possible for the man to direct it toward the appropriate person, so the man directs it at individuals who seem weaker and less threatening. I grew up in a home where I often got abused by angry people– especially my dad and one of my sisters. They would often take their anger out on me, because I was the youngest and, at least for a long time, the weakest. Usually, the anger doesn’t really dissipate, though, especially when there are consequences for expressing anger in such a way. I will also admit that I have expressed anger inappropriately by directing it toward the wrong source. I now try to do better, as much as I’m able. Therapy is a good thing.

Last week, I wrote a post about how I’ve gotten hooked on Code Blue Cam, a YouTube channel devoted to police work. In a lot of the videos, the perpetrators who get busted are clearly mentally ill or under the influence of something. A lot of times, they are also very angry and agitated. I watched a video this morning that featured a man who was extremely belligerent and defiant. The police were trying to be kind and helpful, but this man was consumed with rage. He was extremely abusive toward the police, as well as the civilians who were involved in the altercation which caused the police to be summoned in the first place.

This video begins with a drunk woman who gets hauled off to jail, but it ends with the belligerent man, whose tone goes from extremely rude and defiant, to desperate and pleading.

I found the above video kind of hard to watch… but it was also kind of fascinating, because before the guy was put in handcuffs, he was a complete asshole. I sat there wondering what in the world had happened to him that had caused him to seethe with so much rage. But then, when he was finally arrested and placed in handcuffs, his tone became pathetic. He openly said on more than one occasion that he hoped the police would just shoot him. This is a miserable person with deep problems and a lot of unprocessed anger, which was coming out inappropriately. It wasn’t that different than Ex being nasty to younger daughter for making something she didn’t want to eat for dinner.

Another video, this time involving young men who were in deep trouble and expressing negativity in a destructive way. One of the young men openly expresses disappointment in himself and how his life has turned out… and says he wishes the cops would kill him. He obviously needs help.

Maybe the teens in the above video were trying to be manipulative. I think the guy in the first video was very manipulative, and if these two young guys in the above video don’t get some real help, they will wind up like him and either spend a lot of time in prison or get themselves killed. But I could hear real anguish in their voices. Bad things happened to them that led them to where they are now, and unfortunately, they weren’t able to find the kind of help they needed to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the law.

I have no doubt in my mind that Ex has experienced some really terrible things in her life. I know that she suffered horrific abuse when she was growing up. I’m pretty certain that she’s an extremely angry person, and that anger stems from the people in her life who failed her when she was a child. I think she’s also angry with Bill. He probably had her thinking he could heal her and solve her problems. Bill is a very kind, nurturing, loving and gentle person. I know this for a fact, because I’m his second wife. He doesn’t have a mean or violent bone in his body. However, like most people, he does have a red line, and if you cross it, he’ll be done with you. I think Ex thought she would never reach that red line, because he is such a kind and patient man. But she did reach it, and he decided he was done. So, when she presented divorce papers to him in a very dramatic and manipulative drama held over Easter at Bill’s dad’s house, she never expected that he would agree that their marriage was over and offer to sign the papers. He went off script.

Ex was expecting Bill to say, “No, we won’t have any of that…” and try even harder to please her. That was what he’d done in the past. But, after almost ten years, he was just done. He had gotten away from her toxic influence while they were separated, and realized that there’s life beyond divorce. He found out that he didn’t have to live the way he’d been living. He knew he wouldn’t be alone, and that being broke was temporary. So he called her bluff, and fucked up her vision of what was supposed to happen. She had to adjust, and I think wound up with someone who was even less suitable for her. But she’s smart enough not to threaten divorce with #3, because it’s doubtful she’d find a #4. Or, at least she won’t be able to hook someone by having kids with them.

But she was still left with two tangible remnants from their marriage– their two daughters. So she decided to keep the girls away from Bill, as a means of punishing him for “abandoning” her. At the same time, she treated them particularly badly, because they probably remind her of Bill. As younger daughter got older, she started to develop the same kind of self-preservation skills that Bill has. She started to go off script, and she rebelled. Ex responded by being inappropriately angry. She “kicked the cat”– in this case, younger daughter– instead of finding a healthier and more appropriate outlet for her rage. Instead of being grateful that younger daughter had managed to cobble together dinner with very few ingredients, which were ultimately Ex’s responsibility to provide, Ex was angry and mean. And now, I think she’s paying a price, since it’s obvious that younger daughter is now alienated from her mom.

Younger daughter ended her video call on a happy note. She said she was so grateful to the other people in her life who are kind and considerate. She even said she was grateful to me, of all people. That made me feel really good. For years, I was angry with her and her sister, because I know their dad, and I know he was “kicked” by Ex for years. Now I have empathy for them, because I know they’ve felt the pain from Ex’s proverbial shoe, too. They have been on the receiving end of her misplaced anger. Thankfully for younger daughter, she’s managed to develop the skills to get out of the strike zone. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the people who have chosen to stay around Ex are paying for the independence of those who have left. I can only hope that someday, older daughter will get out of the strike zone, too.

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