This morning, I received an email message from someone named “Mrs. Stull”. She had filled out the now defunct “contact” form, reprimanding me for something I apparently wrote that seems to have upset her. This was the content of her message to me.
Sadly I know about this group too well, we lost many family members to this group.
What caught me was the comment about wealthy white people, when you say white, do you mean, Irish, French, German, Northern Italian, English, Scottish, Swedish, Russian, Slavic, the list goes on? Are you saying that people of colour are not wealthy? I looked at the article, but I was under the impression that you were educated, and a housewife. You have managed to insult everyone by that statement alone, please remove that blanket insult if you want to make a point.
I went looking to find the article to which Mrs. Stull was referring. Often, I can look on StatCounter and see where people have entered the blog and and filled out the contact form. I did not find a StatCounter clue for the article Mrs. Stull was referencing, so I still have absolutely no idea which post has so upset her that she felt the need to vaguely accuse me of racism.
I was about to respond to Mrs. Stull via email, but then realized that the contact form linked to my personal email address, which I would rather not provide to perfect strangers, especially ones who seem to have the impression that I’m a racist and are bold enough to state it. I may have some ingrained racist proclivities, as almost everyone does to some extent, but I don’t generally go out of my way to insult people based on things like skin color or other things they can’t help. And for the record, I certainly do realize that people of all shades and racial groups can be wealthy.
This post is number 1,151. It is not possible for me to go searching through my entire catalog to try to figure out which specific comment of mine offended Mrs. Stull. Therefore, I can’t remove or clarify the “blanket insult” she alluded to in her email, because I honestly don’t know where it is, or to what she is referring.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, I even recently wrote about the phenomenon of people writing to me about certain articles without providing a link to or the title of the post they are referencing. The comment form is also a convenient conduit for spammers, whose comments are always useless and annoying.
I’m writing this post at 6:11am and have only now had my first sip of coffee, so I apologize if this post comes off as a little pissy, but I really did not appreciate receiving that email. Nobody likes to wake up to a random insult from a complete stranger, particularly when what they’re complaining about isn’t clearly specified or referenced.
I was going to respond privately, but then realized that I’d rather address everyone as a whole about this policy change, since it affects all readers. It kind of weirds me out seeing people lurking on that page, anyway, as if they’re hunting for information. Folks, if you have a question or are curious about something, simply ask. There’s a good chance I’ll answer you honestly.
So, from now on, any readers who want to comment about something on this blog will need to do it on the post in question, rather than fill out the contact form. I am going “no contact” with the contact form. It doesn’t work as intended and often leads to confusion and irritation for me. Life is tough enough and too short as it is.
There’s also the Overeducated Housewife Facebook page, for those who wish to comment or contact me privately, but actually, I’m giving some thought to discontinuing that, too.
Beth Nielsen Chapman has a really moving song in her catalog called “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye”. I happened to hear it the other day while I was listening to my “comforting” playlist on iTunes. I have a bunch of playlists I made when iTunes was more functional and I was bored and feeling compulsive. One of the lists is called “comforting”, and it’s a collection of really poignant and beautiful songs that are easy to focus on as I write. A lot of Beth Nielsen Chapman’s songs are on that list. I think she’s a wonderful songwriter. I like to listen to her songs, but I also like singing them. “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye”, is one I would love to do someday. But I suspect that will have to wait until I get good enough at playing guitar to manage it.
I see from the comments on this video that this song appeared on Dawson’s Creek. I remember watching the first season of that show, but I got out of the habit because it was airing at around the time I was in graduate school and I didn’t have time to watch a lot of TV. I also seem to remember that show was on the WB network, and the cable provider in Columbia, South Carolina stopped carrying the WB at some point while I was living there.
This poignant song is about loss, but ultimately, there’s a promise that the separation isn’t forever. Someday, there will be a reconciliation. Maybe after death. It’s comforting to believe that after the pain of separation, there will be a reunion of some sort, whether it’s on Earth or in Heaven or wherever else we go after our time down here is finished. I know Beth Nielsen Chapman has experienced a lot of pain and loss in her life, to include the loss of her first husband, Ernest Chapman, to cancer. She’s managed to parlay those losses into the most beautiful music. Even now, having just listened to that song, I feel a bit verklempt.
You might have noticed that I changed the order of the words to Beth Nielsen Chapman’s song as my post title today. That wasn’t an error. Sometimes, it’s really best to just walk away forever. Most people are worthy of a reunion, if both parties are willing. But some people really aren’t. And sometimes they reveal themselves in really petty ways that are laughable. You realize that someone who is well into middle age or older has, emotionally speaking, never grown up beyond the age of twelve or so.
The older I get, the more I realize that some people are just not worth the effort. And I don’t have to go away mad… but I do have to go away. It hurts a bit– kind of like getting a vaccination, which is painful and inconvenient for a short time, but spares the worse pain that could come if one contracts the actual disease. Everybody has their own ideas of what’s beyond the pale in another person’s behavior. For me, it’s when a person is blatantly disrespectful to me or flies off the handle. I’ll forgive that reaction in people I know well. I don’t forgive it nearly as easily in people I don’t know well.
A few months ago, I had a casual acquaintance on YouTube. We had an okay rapport on the surface. It was friendly and complimentary, as we’re both music buffs and have similar tastes. We even had some successful collaborations. One day, I made an offhand and somewhat off topic comment on a music video he’d posted. He took huge offense to my comment. He proceeded to tell me off in a really over-the-top, insulting, embarrassing way. Then, he said he only wanted me to comment on the music and nothing else.
It wasn’t as if I knew that he had this policy regarding comments on his videos. He hadn’t specifically told me that he’d only wanted certain types of comments, nor was there any kind of notice on his channel that he didn’t like comments that weren’t simple praise for him. I had made the comment completely innocently and was truly shocked and offended by his reaction to it, which was to lecture and shame me about the genius of Paul Simon, and then demand that I ONLY comment on the music. I think it’s lame to get mad and tell people what their reactions must be or dictate what they can or can’t say.
Basically, he was saying that he didn’t want to hear from me unless it was to tell him what a great musician he is. That told me that he wasn’t interested in being friends or getting to know me. He just wanted adoring fans to up his subscribers and hit count. I thought it was overly controlling and ridiculous, but it’s his page; so I just left him to it. And since I was also a bit stung, I deleted my comment and quit interacting with him. I don’t think he realized or cared that what he said was humiliating, or that I was actually pretty hurt. And usually, when people are hurt, they tend to slink away and lick their wounds for awhile.
Time went on, and I quit thinking about the incident and kind of forgot about him. Then last night, I was sitting alone at my dining table, looking through some old postings. I remembered that this person had commented on a lot of them. Do you know that this guy went through and completely scrubbed every single comment? He didn’t block me, which I found interesting… but he did remove all of his comments, which seems like an awful lot of effort, especially since I didn’t even notice until months later. I was amazed… and then I was amused. Because obviously, my decision not to interact with him anymore had really upset him. Then after thinking about it for a moment, I also wasn’t surprised. I had a gut feeling that he would notice my absence and respond in such a way.
I started thinking about what this meant. I’ve spent many years of my life trying to appease people who think they have the right to say and do whatever they want, but they don’t want to grant the other person the same right. It’s happened to me over and over again. I’ve wasted a lot of time and effort on trying to smooth things over when I overstep some imaginary boundary that I never even knew existed. I now realize that people who are that high-maintenance are probably not worth the effort, even if they do play a mean guitar. Life is much too short to walk on eggshells. There are other mean guitar players out there who won’t act like that. In fact, with every passing day, I get better at playing guitar myself. Someday, I hope to get to a point at which I won’t need to collaborate with anyone, if I don’t want to.
Please note– I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with being assertive and telling someone when they’ve upset you or done something offensive. That’s how people get to know each other and determine what behaviors are acceptable. I’m writing about the practice of exploding at people over innocuous things, and then resenting them when they inevitably get offended by that over-the-top reaction. This would not have happened had he simply asked me what I thought of his music rather than belligerently shaming, belittling, lecturing, and demanding a specific response or deference to him. Especially when he never granted me the same courtesy. Let’s not have a double standard; one standard will do just fine.
There were other things I had noticed when we were still on “speaking terms”. Like, he’d often offer me unsolicited advice on how to run my channel. He’d tell me that I shouldn’t post more than one video a day, assuming that my goal is to get popular (it’s not). I often post videos that I make for my blog, so they go up when I need them for a post. Sometimes, I go weeks without posting anything. Sometimes, I’ll post more than one video a day. I also post them when I’m inspired. Would I like it if a lot of people liked my videos? I guess… although I have learned that being popular isn’t always a great thing. The more popular you are, the more shit you tend to get from trolls, creeps, stalkers, and negative people. In any case, I never asked for tips on how to run my channel. I suspect his goals are different than mine are, and that should be okay.
I also noticed that I would post every one of our collaborations on my page and promote his channel, but he only posted one of our collaborations on his page and didn’t promote mine. It got a lot of positive feedback, so I’m left thinking that maybe he didn’t want to share the limelight. It was a little Ike Turner-esque. And it’s not that he didn’t like our collaborations and was being polite by praising me but not sharing them. If that were the case, why would he keep doing them with me? He’d always leave me compliments on our collaborations on my page, but then he didn’t share the collaborations on his. So now I’m thinking he’s probably insecure and a bit jealous of any attention someone else gets, no matter how small. I’m sure it’s not just me, either. He probably does it to other people, too.
In any case, as I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the many videos I’ve watched by Les Carter, a therapist who specializes in dealing with narcissists. I don’t know if my former YouTube acquaintance is a narcissist because I don’t know him personally. However, I do think some of his behavior is a bit narcissistic and transactional. He wanted me to be loyal and deferential to him, but wasn’t going to reciprocate. I’ve had my fill of dealing with those types of people. It never ends well. I suppose I could try to “make up” with him by leaving praise on his videos. Maybe he would respond in kind on the few I’ve recently done. But I think it would only be a matter of time before I upset him again and the same thing will happen. I don’t have time for it, and frankly I deserve better.
Anyway, I made another video yesterday. I think it’s okay. I’ll keep working on learning how to play my guitar.
So… I’m saying goodbye, not goodnight. May we both have better and more satisfying interactions with others. There are plenty of wonderful, mature people in the world who aren’t simply about having transactional relationships. I’m going to focus on finding and interacting with those people.
This morning started like any other morning, nowadays. I woke up at about 4:00am. I thought maybe Arran needed to go out, but apparently it was just my internal alarm clock. About a half hour later, I got up to let the dogs pee and feed them. I prefer to feed them a little later, but they were obviously ready to eat. Then I went back to bed to read up on current events.
A couple of hours later, I came across a column in The Atlantic written by Lori Gottlieb, a therapist who has also written several books. I read one of her books years ago. It was called Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self, and it was a surprisingly entertaining account of her experiences with anorexia nervosa. Which isn’t to say that I think Gottlieb’s book is the best one on the subject. I do remember writing a review for Epinions.com and not giving it a glowing review, even though I thought the writing was kind of oddly quirky and sometimes even funny.
Anyway, Gottlieb, who grew up in California, is now a columnist for The Atlantic and works as a psychotherapist in New York City. This morning, there was a link to a column she posted on January 28, 2019. The post was entitled “Dear Therapist: I’m Dating a Divorced Man With Kids, and It’s Harder Than I Thought”. This was written in the days before the fucking COVID-19 pandemic happened. As such, it seems oddly normal.
The letter writer explains that she’s 33 years old and her boyfriend is 48. He is divorced, while she’s never been married. He has three kids from his failed marriage. Letter writer has none. Right off the bat, I connected. I am almost eight years younger than Bill is, and of course, he was divorced and had two kids with his ex wife. He also has an ex stepson that he’d always treated (and paid for) as his own son, although it later became clear that ex stepson didn’t see Bill the way Bill saw him. Maybe his sentiments have changed with age, but he hasn’t spoken to Bill since 2009, when he got busted red-handed trying to pull a fast one over Bill’s money.
The letter writer explains that she is fed up with her boyfriend’s ex wife, who is very needy, dramatic, and apparently a leech. Letter writer is having trouble coming to terms with having the ex in her life. She texts the boyfriend for all manner of things including discipline of the kids. Letter writer feels intruded upon and although she loves her man very much, the ex looms in the shadows. And every time the phone goes off, the letter writer feels violated.
I know how she feels. For most of my marriage to Bill, I have had a deep resentment and outright hatred for his ex wife. I’m not going to sugar coat it, because that’s truly how I’ve felt, and it hasn’t been without reason. However, unlike the ex in the letter writer’s situation, Bill’s ex was infinitely more toxic and hateful. She made it impossible for Bill to have any relationship whatsoever with his children as she bled him dry financially. She told baldfaced lies to the children about how Bill and I met and told his parents lies about his behavior toward her. For years, she had Bill’s stepmother believing that he was a wife beater. My husband’s stepmother actually asked me if Bill abused me like he did Ex. I actually laughed out loud at that notion because it was so ridiculous.
The first few years of our marriage were truly “broke” years, as Bill sent half his salary to his ex wife, who treated him like shit. I blame my husband’s ex wife for the fact that I never had children. I don’t think I’m wrong to blame her, either. Bill had a vasectomy because she demanded that he get one. Then she divorced Bill and had two more children with her third husband. Meanwhile, we were too broke to be able to afford reproductive assistance at the time when it would have been the most likely to be successful. Bill did, at least, have the vasectomy reversed by the Army. That felt like taking back a bad decision that Bill was bullied into making. I wish we could have had a baby together… but as I’ve said recently, maybe it’s a blessing that we didn’t.
As we’ve gotten older, our financial situation has markedly improved, but I had to let go of the idea of being a mother. Meanwhile, Bill’s daughters disowned him and refused to speak to him at all for about fifteen years. I can’t tell you how many times Bill cried over being shut out of his daughters’ lives. It was extremely painful and totally unnecessary. What can I say? She’s more interested in maintaining control and hurting people than doing the right thing for her children.
As time went on, the resentment simmered… until early 2017, when Bill and his younger daughter started to reconnect. I was beginning to think I would always have rage toward my husband’s ex wife and daughters. I didn’t trust younger daughter when she started talking to Bill. I didn’t want her in our lives, because I was under the impression that she was like her mother. For the first fourteen years of our marriage, they were always in the shadows, looming over everything. I was tired of the drama and the intrusions, especially on holidays. Ex had made it clear that she only wanted Bill’s money and to blame him for the way her life was. The children wouldn’t speak to him or even acknowledge him as their father. I wanted them to cut ties once and for all and just leave us alone.
It turned out that younger daughter isn’t like Ex at all. In fact, it turns out that she’s really Bill’s daughter in terms of her looks and her behavior. A year ago, Bill was in Utah visiting her for the first time since Christmas 2004. A year ago, I wrote a scathing blog post about the revelations that came out after that visit. I was seething with anger about what had happened… but this time, it wasn’t just for Bill. It was for his daughters, too… and everyone else who suffered because of Ex’s lies and manipulations.
The writer of the letter in Lori Gottlieb’s column doesn’t have it nearly as bad as Bill and I did. Although in her case, the ex is certainly a nuisance, it’s clear that the ex lets the children see and speak to their father. She may be needy and intrusive, but it doesn’t sound like she’s purely evil. I’m sure that column will get a lot of rude comments from the masses who have no empathy for women who date men with kids. People always expect women to have endless compassion, patience, and love for the children in a relationship, even if it’s impossible, undeserved, or even undesired.
Lori Gottlieb gave the letter writer sensible advice, letting them know that when you date a man with children, the ex is often part of the package. In most cases, so are the children. I remember being fully prepared to accept Bill’s children, although not being a child of divorce myself, I couldn’t necessarily relate to their trauma. But I had an open mind and an open heart, and I was prepared to do what I could… at least in the early years. When they were at their most alienated, I will admit I closed myself off. I was really fed up with the bullshit and it was the only way I could stand it.
I’m glad Bill didn’t close off his heart. A year ago today, he saw his daughter in person and they shared a long hug and spent two solid days talking. It was a very good visit, overall. Bill met his son in law and grandchildren. But, as it always is whenever Ex is involved in anything, there was a lot of time spent debriefing and clearing the air. I’ve visited Bill’s late dad’s house three times. All three times, we basically sat around and talked about Ex and her crazy shit. Bill’s dad never got a chance to really get to know me before he died last year. So much time and energy was spent trying to deal with the crazy shit she threw at us. The same went for Bill’s two short days with his daughter, with whom he faithfully Skypes and emails now. Older daughter remains estranged, to her detriment.
This morning, I changed the privacy settings on those two posts I wrote about last year’s visit. The first one is very raw and profane, because I was extremely angry about how Ex had gotten away with torturing her family for so many years. The second one is less intense, but I had it protected anyway. A year has passed and the pain is much less intense now… with a year, comes perspective. Bill and I know we can survive, and our love has stood some pretty horrible stuff. I’ve come to respect Bill’s younger daughter. I can’t say I love her yet, because we’ve still only met in person once. But I’m willing to try, because I know Bill adores his daughters. Nothing would please him more than to have both of them in his life.
I used to have a flaming hot rage toward Ex. I truly hated her with a passion. I was obsessed with my hatred for her and my outrage at how she got away with blatant abuse that other people tolerated. I know that hating her was harmful to me, but I just couldn’t help it. She was just a despicable, horrible, abusive woman. And people would blame me for her shit. I couldn’t even talk about it without risking comments from the uninformed, trying to blame it on me. Listen… I am plenty willing to accept responsibility when I screw up. But I honestly had nothing to do with my husband’s divorce from his ex wife, and I never had the chance to screw with his ex wife or their kids. All I did was encourage Bill to be strong and assertive. Abusive liars don’t like that, of course. It makes them angry.
I can say now that these days, I pretty much don’t care about Ex and rarely think about her anymore. I mostly see her as pathetic now. I hate what she did, and I was extremely angry to hear about the things she did… the lies she told… and the way she treated her children like possessions to be jealously guarded or cast out, as the mood suited her. Ex isn’t a threat to me personally anymore, though, so I don’t really give a shit what happens to her, as long as she stays the fuck away from us.
I pretty much feel the same way about toxic ex landlady, too. As long as she and her flying monkeys don’t mess with me, they are safe from ever having to see or talk to me again. It’s taken me a long time to move past these traumas, but at least I know it’s possible. For a long time, I wondered if I’d ever be able to calm down and stop feeling so agitated about the way we were treated.
I guess what I’ve learned from dealing with that type of person is that you can’t let them get away with their shit. Or, best case scenario, you have to leave them in the dust and go no contact. Sometimes it’s sad or difficult to do that– if the person is a relative or an old friend. Sometimes it’s impossible to go no contact, such as when you have to co-parent and your children haven’t been completely estranged. Other times, it’s nothing but a relief, even if you spend years waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.
It’s always regrettable when a relationship goes sour. In some ways, maybe it’s a blessing that Bill didn’t have to deal with his Ex much when the kids were growing up, other than a few very dramatic incidents and sending her so much money every month. But now the girls are women, well over the age of 21 and living their own lives. We don’t have to deal with Ex ever again. Bill and I finally have our peace… for the most part, anyway. I could do without these marathon TDYs.
I guess if I could advise the woman who wrote to Lori Gottlieb, I would tell her that eventually, children grow up and have their own lives. It may seem like the years are stretching ahead, but in our case, they flew by. I can remember thinking how, back in 2004, we would have so many years of dealing with Ex. Before we knew it, those difficult early years were gone. If you love your partner and are determined to hang in there, this situation can pass. It did in our case. In fact, it’s turned around in a very unexpected way. Ex used to infuriate me. I still find her infuriating, but I rarely think about her and mostly pity her on some level. She’s mentally ill and tragic. And she is not a threat.
On another note, I’ve been watching the whole Harry and Meghan drama. I didn’t see their interview with Oprah Winfrey, because I’m not in the USA. But I have read about it… I’m not sure where, exactly, the truth lies. I have a feeling there’s stuff from all sides contributing to the sad situation of today. I do think it’s too bad that Harry and Meghan felt they needed to leave Britain with Archie. All of this stuff is embarrassing and dysfunctional, but in a way, it sort of humanizes the British Royal Family. They have their family dramas, idiosyncrasies, and dysfunction too. It looks like Harry is very alienated right now, and whether or not it’s his fault, I feel for him. Bill’s situation with his daughters has given me more empathy toward children of divorce. It’s much worse when your life is as public as Harry’s has always been.
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