Ex, narcissists

Sometimes, I think my name should have been Cassandra…

Which is funny, because when my sister was pregnant with my niece, she was considering calling her Cassandra. She ended up choosing a different name. My niece was sort of named after my mom, whose name is Elsie Lee (she goes by Else… my mom is the only “Else” I’ve ever known, although I know the name “Ilse” is popular in Germany). My sister named her daughter Elise, because that’s a more modern name. She probably figured my niece would get teased if she was called Elsie, even though my niece grew up in North Carolina and Elsie is a nice southern name. 😉

Ex named one of her daughters Cassandra, but that’s not the name she goes by. And I’m not sure if Ex knows the origin of the name, Cassandra. I realize Wikipedia isn’t necessarily the best source of accurate information, but for the sake of expediency, here’s a link… For those who don’t want to read the long tale of the name Cassandra, here’s a short take. Cassandra was, in Greek mythology, a prophetess who had a gift for accurately predicting impending disasters. However, people didn’t believe her predictions, which was part of a curse bestowed on her by the Greek God, Apollo.

Apollo had fallen in love with Cassandra, and tried to win her affections by giving her the ability to see the future. Initially she “promised him her favors”, but then went back on her word and rejected Apollo. When Cassandra rejected his advances, it enraged Apollo so much that he added a curse to her gift of foresight– that her accurate predictions of doom and tragedy would not be heeded. She would try to warn people of calamities; they wouldn’t take her seriously, and she would see them suffer.

I’m pretty good at predicting good and bad things. People don’t always take me seriously, probably because I’m the youngest in my family. Fortunately, Bill does listen to me, and he’s often said that he’s grateful that he does. So maybe I’m not so much like Cassandra, after all, since I don’t care too much if other people don’t listen to me. In any case, those of you who follow my blog might remember that back in the spring, I noticed that Ex was doing some “weird” stuff that raised my suspicions about her intentions toward my husband’s family. For instance, she visited my husband’s stepmother with Bill’s older daughter and her youngest daughter. While she was there, she asked SMIL for money, which she, thankfully, declined to give her. She also gave her boxes with postage paid, in case she wanted to hand down any family “heirlooms”, since Bill’s father died.

Keep in mind, Ex forced Bill’s daughters to change their last names. She refused to let Bill have any contact whatsoever with them when they were minors. Older daughter, age 31, still lives with Ex, and is the de facto mom to Ex’s youngest child with #3. So, one would think that my husband’s family would want nothing to do with Ex, right? But no… Ex is a very manipulative person, and she’s very good at using people. She’s used Bill’s daughters to maintain contact with Bill’s family, even though she has treated them horribly.

So anyway, we learned that Ex called up SMIL last spring and proposed letting older daughter visit her. SMIL, overjoyed at the thought of seeing her long lost step-granddaughter, said “You would let her get on a plane and come see me?” (again, this is a 31 year old woman we’re referring to– and yes, she is supposedly “on the spectrum”, but she’s certainly capable of flying on a plane by herself. She isn’t intellectually disabled.)

But Ex reportedly said, “Well, I was thinking I could come, too, although I’m sure you don’t want to see me.” And Ex was probably right about that, although SMIL wasn’t going to deny her with the prospect of seeing older daughter. And then Ex proposed bringing along #3’s daughter, who is NOT at all related to Bill’s family. Younger daughter, who has little kids to tend to, was not involved, but later heard all about it.

When I heard about this a few months ago, I figured Ex was trying to get money again, because she had been running a crowdfunding campaign. And I had a feeling she would be trying to separate SMIL from her money. I also had a bad feeling, especially in the weeks following that visit, that Ex was going to propose either moving in with SMIL, or SMIL moving in with her. I noticed her referring to SMIL on social media as her “mum”. I could see that this was Ex cozying up to my husband’s vulnerable stepmother, trying to slither in and take advantage of someone who probably reeks of prey to her.

Ex has already had her mother living with her, and her husband’s mother, a la Cousin Eddie and Aunt Edna in National Lampoon’s Vacation. In both cases, she used their Social Security payments to pay for her mortgage on her house and other bills. Ex’s mother died, and she disposed of her in the cheapest way possible, even keeping her ashes in a box in a closet. Her husband’s mother, who resisted Ex’s efforts to get her to move in for some time before relenting, is living there now. And now, we know that she asked Bill’s stepmother to move in with her.

What makes this development super fucked up is that this is Ex’s ex husband’s stepmother— not his mom, whom Ex hates. SMIL has no blood relation to Ex or even older daughter. But Ex has her eye on her… and would love for her to move in. Why? Because she has money, and she owns a house with lots of equity. I’m sure Ex would consider moving in with SMIL, if she thought she could get away with it. But my husband’s sister and other family members know about Ex… and if she moved in, she’d be moving into SMIL’s house. If SMIL moved into her house, she would be isolated, far from her family, friends, and familiar surroundings. And Ex would convince her to liquidate her assets and give her the money.

And this makes even more sense now, because recently, Ex has been posting about her marriage possibly being on the skids. If she’s planning to split from #3, or vice versa, that would mean that her MIL would be leaving the house, probably significantly poorer than she was. Ex needs to replace her, so enter SMIL… and SMIL has more money to suck away. Fortunately, SMIL has a daughter who is wise to Ex and won’t stand for her bullshit. However, I honestly believe it might be time to get a restraining order. I have told Bill as much, although since it’s not his mother who is at risk, it’s probably not his call. But if it was my mom, or even my stepmom, I would be taking legal steps to prevent Ex from contacting SMIL. I hope that’s what happens, because it’s pretty obvious that Ex is still up to no good. She hasn’t been publicly clamoring for money lately, but she HAS been posting about her marriage possibly falling apart. If and when that happens, she will be looking for support. But then, given that she doesn’t work and #3 does, she obviously assumes she would be keeping their home. Maybe that won’t be the case. Hopefully, #3 has been watching and knows to hire a lawyer, rather than letting Ex settle everything.

I actually hope I’m wrong… but I don’t think I am. I suspect that Ex will keep asking and pressuring SMIL until someone stops her by making it clear that there will be legal issues to deal with if she doesn’t back off and crawl back under her rock.

Yesterday, I wrote this:

Leaving Twitter might make it harder to watch Ex, but you know what? That may not be a bad thing, either. I’m always going to be getting updates about her, regardless, whether or not I want them. As long as younger daughter is talking to us and her mother, we’ll continue to hear about her antics. And most of what she posts just makes me cringe and causes anxiety.

Aha… once again, I predicted correctly. I quit Twitter, and promptly got an Ex update, which prompted a prophecy that I predict could easily come true.

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Ex, LDS, mental health, travel

Home again, and ready to write up our trip to Antwerp… but first, more on the wild world of Ex.

I’m sure I could write one of my usual testy manifestos right now, but the travel blog beckons. I had a great time in Belgium. and am looking forward to sharing what I learned about Antwerp. But rest assured, I’ll be back to complaining on this blog very soon. 😉

At the very least, I can add some more complaints about Ex, who now claims that she’s a “senior dog rescuer”… but she NEEDS a puppy to train for her “severely autistic son”. And she begs for money to put up a fence, but also lacks the $12,000 she says she needs to train a dog. What will she do when the dog needs to go to the vet? How will she afford to feed it?

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, yes, she did used to have an elderly poodle named Fifi… but Fifi was definitely not better off for the experience, since #3 kicked her so hard that she lost an eye. What’s even scarier is that #3 works as a CNA. Maybe he’s better now, after twenty years. I’d still be leery of him as a healthy person, let alone as someone who needs nursing care. I hope he’s gotten better about controlling his temper.

But anyway, this is what she says…

I wish I could adopt a senior dog; I’ve always been a pound puppy mama. I cant this time. I have to find a puppy for my autistic child that will be trainable to take care of his emotional needs.

😭

I am going to put a fundraiser on PayPal!! I tried once to get help but no replies

Um no, Ex, you’ve not always been a “pound puppy mama”. And your “child” will be a grown man in three short years. You have also unsuccessfully tried to raise funds on PayPal at least twice, not just once. Give it up.

Yes, I know I sound really bitchy, but I think I’m owed. My husband is still trying to mend the relationship he and his younger daughter missed because of Ex’s selfishness and stupidity. We’re losing hope for older daughter, who is still the caregiver of Ex’s “severely autistic child”.

And she’s still stuck on Star Wars, which hardly makes her unique, but maybe if she spent less time tweeting about celebrities and more time earning money, she might not need to crowdfund.

Personally, I am LOVING the attention to detail and the explanations of the backstory of not just Obi-Wan, but Leia and Anakin… just gives us more depth the Vader’s character, don’t you think?

I never got into Star Wars myself. I know it’s very popular. Of course, I grew up with people talking about it all the time, so I am basically familiar. But if I had big goals like building a fence or getting a service dog for my “autistic child” (teenager), I would hope I’d be more focused on that.

One last thing before I move on to happier topics on my travel blog…

Aww Chris, you’re so cute. Ok, you can marry my daughter. There… it’s between you and #keanureeves . Oh wait… there is one more,. His name is on the tip of my tongue. (Will edit when I recall.)

Oh!!! Och aye!!! The third is

@SamHeughan zzzzzzzzz I’m falling asleep!!! Good grief !!

Which daughter does she mean? Her 19 year old pansexual daughter who just started college? Or her almost 31 year old daughter who has basically been working as Ex’s scullery maid? I’d be interested to know… ETA: Not that there’s ANYTHING at all wrong with being pansexual… it’s just that the daughter might have something to say about it, right? Maybe she’d rather date someone without a dick.

Meanwhile, younger daughter still feels alienated because she’s a devout Mormon, a belief system that Ex forced on the family and later abandoned. Ex now ridicules younger daughter for being a believer, even though she’s the one who made her go to church in the first fucking place! And she did that only so she could control/alienate Bill.

Yep… it’s a hell of a world Ex lives in… and I wouldn’t want to visit it. But I would like to visit Antwerp again, so I’m going to head over to the travel blog to explain why. And yes, on Monday, we did enjoy plenty of wine. In other words, it was an ordinary day, save for the flaming torch I got when I had dessert last night. 😉

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ethics, Ex, narcissists, social media

The most excellent empress of excessive effrontery and extravagance…

All week, I’ve wondered if or when there will be a jubilant announcement from Ex regarding the latest addition to the family. So far, not a peep has emanated from Ex’s fingers to her keyboard about her new grandson. I find this to be unusual behavior for her. However, there is one thing she has been doing this week that is not unusual or unexpected at all…

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how Ex was, once again, begging for money from celebrities and strangers, ostensibly to pay for a new fence for her son, who has severe autism and apparently needs to be confined when he goes outside. She publicly posted a link on Twitter to a crowdfunding attempt, her second since early spring. In her pitch for funds, she wrote this:

Sounds like a pretty desperate situation, right? I know my heart is breaking.

It seems to me that if a crowdfund is necessary to raise thousands of dollars to erect a secure fence, one might also think that there isn’t room in the budget for extraneous stuff, like autographed books written by actors. And if one who begs for money does feel the need to make a purchase that might seem like an unnecessary extravagance to other people, one might hope they’d want to keep that purchase under their hat, so to speak. I mean, it’s in pretty poor taste to beg for money for a fence, but then gleefully cheer about the prospect of buying something that isn’t essential for living. But Ex isn’t like most people. Basic consideration and rules that might apply to other people, don’t apply to her. I should not have been surprised when I saw this on her Twitter feed…

According to her crowdfunding pitch, Ex’s household subsists on just one stream of income. She claims that she lives “paycheck to paycheck”, and is begging strangers to contribute $6000 for a fence… yet she has about $50 to spend on an autographed book. What should we conclude about this?

Actually, I don’t have to draw any new conclusions. I know that Ex will stoop to incredibly low levels to get her endless wants and needs satisfied at other people’s expense. She is not above shaming people, either, even when they are her own minor children who genuinely need something from her. For example, we have heard about how, when Bill’s younger daughter needed an orthopedic device for a condition affecting her feet, Ex would endlessly complain about how expensive it was. She would make a huge deal about having to spend money on her oldest three children, even though Bill was giving her $2550 a month in child support, and the children could have had full medical coverage through the military. Meanwhile, she also did things like force them to give up things they needed so that she would look kind and generous to other people– strangers, even.

As I was telling Bill about this discovery yesterday, he said he was reminded about something that happened soon after their divorce. Bill had gone to Arizona to see his kids. This was before she launched her extreme parental alienation campaign that would keep them apart for over fifteen years. At the time, Bill lived on about $600 a month, because he was giving Ex $2550 a month, plus paying the mortgage on their house in Arkansas, which she eventually let go into foreclosure after tenants stole the toilet out of it.

Ex had asked Bill about palm pilots, which were all the rage at the time. She said she might get one for her eldest son, a product of her first marriage. Bill happened to own an inexpensive Handspring Visor. He showed it to her, and said it cost about $125. He used it for work purposes.

Ex said, “So you can spend $125 on gadgets, but you can’t send more money for your children?”

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised or outraged. This is very normal behavior for her. Still, when I remember that back in those days, Bill lived alone in a drafty, sparsely furnished apartment… his main source of entertainment was nightly chats with me on Yahoo! Messenger and reading the stories I used to write. His one saving grace was that his job required him to travel a lot, so he would get per diem money. He never used all of the money he was given for food, so he was able to use that for extra things, like a cheap palm pilot. But that wasn’t enough for Ex. She wanted EVERYTHING. And yes, it does outrage me that she has the nerve to demand everything, as she simultaneously claims to be kind, generous, and wonderful… but only to strangers.

It would have been one thing if Ex actually spent the money on the children, but years of experience and observation tell us that she rarely did that. When they had needs, she would shame them. Or she would use them to prop up her own image. In fact, we heard a story about how she once made Bill’s daughters give up one of their beds to a family in their church. She wanted the family–strangers to her– to think of her as a good, generous person. Meanwhile, her daughters were the ones making the actual sacrifice. Because God knows, she wouldn’t be giving up her bed.

The other day, I happened to listen to Dr. Les Carter’s recent video about what happens when a narcissist realizes their target has lost interest. I like most of his videos about narcissism, but this one really resonated with me. I could practically hear the alarm bells going off. I would recommend his channel to anyone dealing with a self-centered, narcissistic, dishonest asshole in their lives. But this video is particularly good.

A great video… very revelatory and insightful.

As for Ex and her shenanigans… I know it’s not my business, and while I would love to call her out directly, I won’t be doing that. There’s no point in doing that, because she won’t stop. All that calling her out might accomplish is to potentially drive her behavior a bit further underground for awhile. Naturally, she would eventually reappear, because she thrives on attention and notoriety. She wants strangers to think highly of her. Those who really know her and can see through her bullshit can go pound sand.

As long as Ex doesn’t approach Bill’s family again, I guess it doesn’t matter if other people fall for her bullshit. Thankfully, at this point, it doesn’t appear that anyone has taken the bait. The crowdfund is still sitting at zero. When her efforts to grift inevitably fail again, she’ll probably engage in another familiar behavior– that of blame shifting. Les Carter talked about that, too…

It’s always someone else’s fault.

I actually find Ex to be a fascinating person. Although I have run into some pretty obnoxious, self-serving, narcissistic individuals in my time, she is one of the most extreme examples. I continue to be stunned by her complete lack of shame and endless gall. It really amazes me. For the longest time, I went to great lengths not to look at what she was doing, because I didn’t want to get angry or have her antics upset me in any way. But now that I do pay attention to her, I’ve genuinely found myself intrigued by her nerve. At the same time, I’m so glad Bill is no longer married to her, and I’m glad at least younger daughter got away from her, and hopefully, she’ll keep her kids away from Ex, too.

I suspect the reason Ex hasn’t boasted about her newest grandson is because she hasn’t yet been told about him. And honestly, I don’t blame younger daughter for that, if that’s the situation.

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ethics, Ex, family, money

She’s back “on the fence” about things…

This is going to be another frank, and potentially “inappropriate” post. Proceed with care. And if you think I’m a jerk for writing this, you’re probably right. But that may be the worst you can say about me.

It’s Memorial Day, but not in Germany, where it’s a normal workday for German people. It’s not a workday for Bill, though, so he’s home, sneezing because of all the trees having sex, as spring begins to turn into summer. Bill’s big plans today are to get himself on my cellphone contract, at long last, and to pay a visit to the local Telekom and speak to someone about the useless cable box we’ve been renting since late 2018.

A technician came by our house at that time, but was unable to hook up the cable to our television. He didn’t tell me why, other than to say “it’s not possible”. My guess is that it has to do with the phone line, which we don’t use, since we have cell phones. Anyway, we are technically subscribed to German cable TV, but we can’t watch it. I’ve been bugging Bill to do something about it, since his German skills are better than mine are. He’s decided that today is the day.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to recover from my restless night. I am not quite menopausal yet, in spite of my apparently ancient appearance to mean-spirited “pro-life” losers on the Internet. I spent all night having to go to the bathroom, because it’s that time of the month. Consequently, for the second night in a row, I didn’t get much sleep.

Then, when I finally did fall asleep, I had a nightmare about the singer, Anne Murray, and her daughter, Dawn. There were some aspects from my recent life that were in the dream, to include people moving (common in the military community at this time of year), and people committing suicide, which sadly has also been something in our lives recently. But, you know how dreams dissipate when you wake up, unless you’re very disciplined about remembering, like Bill is. He’s been working with a Jungian therapist for the past year, so he makes a point of remembering his dreams. He even writes them down and sends them to his analyst. Then, at their weekly meeting, they have fascinating discussions about what the dreams might mean.

I have no idea why Anne Murray was in my dreams this morning, or why she would be part of a nightmare. I like Anne Murray’s music. Remember, I am a child of the 70s and 80s, so her music was a big part of the soundtrack of my extreme youth. I find some of her songs comforting, even.

Once I was awake, and tried to tell Bill about my bad dream, adorable Noyzi, the street dog, decided to pay us a visit. He still hasn’t figured that he can push open doors by himself. Maybe he’s too polite to try that. It took him forever to realize that he can push open the screen curtain on the back door, which is poorly held together by magnets. Once again, I’m amazed by how different Noyzi is from the beagles we’ve had. He’s very well mannered, and doesn’t try to make trouble. Ironically, I’m sure our former landlords wouldn’t have wanted him in the house, because he’s a big guy. But he’s probably the best behaved dog we’ve ever had.

So, once we were awake and enjoying breakfast, I decided to check in on Ex, to see if maybe she knows about the latest grandchild. I would have expected her to mention it on her very public social media by now. But nope… she still advertises her “4.5 grandchildren”. She was actually pretty quiet over the past few days, but I guess she needs money again, because she’s posted another crowdfund request for people to help fund a fence for her youngest son, whom she’s said has severe autism. Now… I have no reason to doubt that her son has autism. In fact, I’m sure he does have severe autism. However, I have learned to take what she says and writes with a grain of salt. After twenty years of observing her, I have concluded that she’s not a very honest person.

Regular readers might recall that a couple of months ago, Ex was begging people to help her erect a tall fence for her son, whom she says has a bad habit of escaping her home. She’s said she’s been confounded by his efforts to run away, and she’s tried a whole bunch of things to keep him from taking off. All have reportedly failed. So now, she needs the help of strangers to pay for a fence to contain the young man, so he can “play” outside. She also wants to get a therapy dog for him, and that costs big bucks that she doesn’t have, because there’s only one paycheck coming in to her household– my guess is that it’s #3’s work as a certified nursing assistant that keeps their household going.

In March, Ex paid a manipulative visit to my husband’s widowed stepmother, and asked her for “financial help”, which SMIL wisely declined to offer. Then, Ex brought SMIL packing and mailing supplies, in case SMIL wants to give Ex anything to “pass down” to Bill’s MIA older daughter, who still doesn’t speak to Bill, and didn’t have much of relationship with Bill’s dad when he was still living. On the trip to see SMIL, Ex brought older daughter and her daughter with #3. I’m not sure what she did with her “escape artist” son with severe autism, who desperately needs a fence because he runs away. Perhaps #3 took some time off work. I’ve heard that #3’s mother lives with them, but I’ve also heard that she isn’t in the best of health. It seems unwise to have her watch a teenaged boy with autism who runs away.

Anyway, after that visit, I noticed that Ex quietly took down the link to her fundraiser. But yesterday, she put it up again. Or, she put up another one, and tweeted celebrities, begging for money. Looks like she’s leaving Mark Hamill alone this time, but George Takei got tweeted at, as did a couple of actors from a show she watches, and a famous author whose books she reads. This time, she’s asking for $6000, instead of $5500. Last time she did this, she contributed $500 to her own campaign, which didn’t result in inspiring anyone else to add any funds.

You’d think that Ex might try to come up with another way to get the money she claims to need so badly, given that the crowdfunding technique hasn’t worked in the recent past. I know it can be difficult to apply for grants and loans, and I know for a fact that Ex isn’t the most creditworthy person. She says that crowdfunding is her only recourse. But, as someone who has a master’s degree in social work, I call bullshit on that. I think she just needs money, and figures that her son’s situation is the best sob story to present.

Money provided by grants and loans would likely require accountability, or at least paying back the money, plus interest. Ex would rather depend on the kindness of strangers to take care of her family’s alleged financial needs, as she also plays fangirl to entertainers, artists, and authors. Does she access their works from the library? Or does she buy autographed copies of things… or monthly “gift” boxes of trinkets from Scotland? Seems to me she might have more luck funding the fence if she spent more time figuring out how to make the money herself. But… I don’t think she actually wants to build a fence. I think she has bills to pay, or burning desires that she wants to fulfill. And she rationalizes that if nice people who have money to spare can help her out, she won’t have to repay them, and they don’t have to know how she uses the money.

I also wonder what will happen if she actually manages to get a service dog for her son. Does she realize that dogs are a financial commitment? How does she intend to pay for all of the things a dog needs? And what will she do when the dog is more into her son, as is appropriate, than her? She’s not proposing getting a family pet. She claims she wants a service dog. But if they get a service dog, that dog will have to pay attention to the boy. Knowing Ex, I think that might be a real challenge for her.

Anyway… I realize it’s none of my business. I am lucky enough to be wise to her. I think that younger daughter is wise to her, too. I suspect that she hasn’t told her about the latest addition to her family being born. I’m sure that’s because Ex will make it about her, and might even threaten to visit. And I’m sure that younger daughter could use some peace and quiet, not to mention some rest. I do think it’s interesting, though… that the people who were denied access to younger daughter for so many years, are the ones who care the most about her baby being born. And they were evidently the first to know. Meanwhile, Ex is “back on the fence about things”, again. 😉 Come hell or high water, she’s gonna get that fence… maybe by the time her son is legally a grown man.

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Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology, relationships

I am the “eye in the sky”…

Today’s mood music…

Back in 1982, a fantastic song by the Alan Parsons Project came out… and forty years later, it’s still relevant and cool. In fact, I never realized how prescient the lyrics for “Eye in the Sky” would be for me, personally. And the intro, “Sirius” just makes this an epic jam. “Sirius” is like the dramatic storm before the realization of what you’re facing. Listening to this live version, I can understand why Eric Woolfson did a lot of the singing for this band. Still… these lyrics are so meaningful when you’re dealing with a narcissist.

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of Chances before
But I’m not gonna give anymore
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
Cause part of me knows what you’re thinkin’

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your Eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind

Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind

So find another fool like before
Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind

Sharing the official video, because this song just kicks ass.

I was an English major when I was in college. I wasn’t particularly good at being an English major, mainly because I didn’t enjoy analyzing fiction. A lot of the books we read didn’t interest me. I also didn’t want to be a teacher, and the program was really geared for English teachers. I probably should have changed majors. But, since I didn’t switch, I came out of college knowing something about looking at words and deciphering their meanings. One thing I learned is that you can make a strong case for a lot of things, even if your interpretation isn’t exactly what was meant by the person who did the writing. I think “Eye in the Sky” is one of those songs that can mean a lot of things to different people.

When I look at those lyrics, I think they mean that someone has either figured out how to manipulate someone else, or someone recognizes that they are being manipulated. Lately, I have been feeling a little bit like “the eye in the sky”, watching from afar what has been going on with my husband’s former wife and her sketchy dealings with his family. It turns out my instincts were correct. Ex went to see my husband’s stepmother because she was hoping to squeeze her for money.

Fortunately, it turns out that SMIL wasn’t as vulnerable as she might have seemed. My husband’s sister asked her mother about the visit, and she learned that yes, Ex did request financial help. SMIL wisely turned her down. But then Ex went out and bought a bunch of packing materials for SMIL and told her to use them to send her any items that she wanted to “pass down”. Naturally, this really hurt SMIL’s feelings. She was hurt that Ex so brazenly asked her to send her stuff, which, knowing Ex, would just end up being sold on eBay.

I admit that I was pretty upset with SMIL for trusting Ex and allowing her in her home, since she should have known full well what she’s about by now. I’m not close to SMIL at all, but I still don’t want to see her being taken advantage of, especially by my husband’s ex wife. I am very relieved that she didn’t give in… or, at least that’s what she says happened. I doubt she’s lying, though, since she admitted that Ex hurt her feelings by openly soliciting heirlooms from her ex husband’s family. Sheesh! The attitude of entitlement is just astonishing!

In any case, I’m not stupid enough to think we’re out of the woods. It concerns me that Ex was tweeting about her “mum”– a 71 year old woman who just visited the Golden Gate Bridge. That describes SMIL. And Ex was asking about how to buy a photograph to “send” to SMIL. I doubt she would actually send her anything, because Ex is very greedy. But, if by chance she ever did send her a gift like that, there would be an expectation of “reciprocity”.

Reciprocity is a concept I learned about when I was studying social work. It’s the idea that if someone gives you something or does something for you, you “owe” them something in return. Many people fall prey to this mindset, and people like Ex will exploit it to the hilt.

Don’t get me wrong. Reciprocity can be a very positive thing. It can help foster a sense of cooperation and community. Mutually beneficial relationships are at the heart of every successful collaboration where everybody wins. But– when someone toxic abuses that concept of reciprocity, it can be a very damaging thing. Suddenly, you might find yourself beholden to someone, even though you never asked them for “help”, or a gift, or anything else.

Narcissists can use reciprocity to get what they want. They extend a kindness and then, all of a sudden, they’re demanding a payback of some sort. You might hear things like “after all I’ve done for you” or “I gave you such and such; the least you could do is help me out with this”. Then there’s “negative reciprocity”, which is when someone “pays you back” with retribution of some sort. Ex is all about reciprocity, both the positive and negative types. Whenever someone has said “no” to her or held her accountable, her response is to do something damaging.

Take, for instance, Ex’s actions in 2006, after I sent her an angry email. She had gone on the warpath, having asked Bill to talk her son out of moving out of her house. She called up Bill and demanded that he withhold child support from former stepson. She didn’t want him to have the money, because he was planning to use it to move out of her realm of control. Bill refused, and then demanded to know what was happening with his daughters, since Ex had refused to allow him any contact with them. Ex’s response was to send a hateful email to Bill, along with all kinds of mean comments about me. At that point, I had only met the kids once– back in 2003 (and actually, to this day, that is the only time I was in their physical presence)– but she told Bill they hated me and thought I was a “bad influence”. Then she asked him not to tell me what she’d written, to “spare my feelings”.

Bill told me what Ex had written, so I wrote her back, and my email pointed out all of the toxic, horrible, abusive things she’s done. Ex’s response was to get her son to reconnect with his natural father. And actually, we weren’t that upset about that, since bio dad should have always had a connection to his son. But I think she was upset that this didn’t make Bill angry, so her next step was to get ex stepson to secretly reclaim his original surname, while he was getting child support from Bill (at age 21). I found out what was happening because, like I said, I am the “eye in the sky”. Bill busted the lad, whose response was to permanently cut off all communication. That was “payback” from Ex for not accepting her demands– negative reciprocity.

She is not above using positive reciprocity, though. Like, for instance, she will let SMIL see Bill’s long lost older daughter after years of no contact. But, in return, she expects to be treated like SMIL’s daughter. She expects SMIL to be loyal to her, instead of Bill, her stepson. She expects SMIL to give her money and heirlooms. And, if SMIL doesn’t comply, she will take Bill’s older daughter out of contact again. Older daughter, bless her heart, is at age 30, willingly going along with this. I suspect it’s because she knows that if she doesn’t, she will be cut off from her mom and Ex’s “severely autistic son”. And if older daughter isn’t there to look after her brother, who knows what might happen? Actually, I suspect that if older daughter ever leaves Ex, Ex will find a way to put him in some kind of permanent care. Sadly, that might actually be the best thing for him. Ex is just that toxic. Or maybe she’ll keep him at home and something terrible will happen. I suspect that Ex uses the fear of that to keep older daughter in line, even though her brother’s welfare is not her responsibility.

This situation could also be the beginning of Ex’s use of the “door in the face” technique, also known as “rejection-then-retreat” method. The “door in the face” technique is when a person makes an outrageous request that will almost certainly be turned down– say, asking for thousands of dollars for a new fence or a therapy dog– and then, after that, making a smaller, more reasonable request that might be granted, and that was the person’s actual target all along. Ex was rejected this time, but now that she’s given SMIL a taste of having older daughter back in touch, maybe she will weaken at some point and give Ex money or gifts. Or, it could be the beginning of the “foot in the door” technique, which is getting someone to agree with a moderate request (ie; allowing the visit), and then talking them into a larger request.

Personally, I think any exposure to Ex is dangerous for anyone who has ever given her supply. She is like an addict who is chasing a high. She’ll keep coming back for as long as she’s physically able. She doesn’t target Bill anymore, because she knows that he has me around to talk sense into him. Frankly, at this point, Bill would never help her again anyway, because his eyes have opened widely to who she really is. Even if I died or we got divorced, he’s DONE with Ex. He wants nothing to do with her. It wasn’t always like this. When we first married, Bill took pains to be kind to his ex wife. He wanted a civilized, amicable relationship with her. I remember him telling me on many occasions that he wished her no “ill will”. But then, as the years passed, and she treated him with contempt and did her best to ruin his relationships and sabotage his successes, he realized that their relationship was unsalvageable and could NEVER be amicable. And now that his younger daughter has told him what went on when she was growing up, that relationship is even more severed.

This morning, I read yet another AITA column on Reddit Ridiculousness. It was about a woman who had an affair, causing her to divorce. Her teenaged daughter was shattered by her mother’s infidelity. The woman married the man with whom she had an affair, then had a son with him. The daughter has been estranged for six years and has no desire to meet her brother or stepfather. She also shuns her mom, who has told her that she needs to meet her brother if she wants a relationship with her mom.

Yes… you are the asshole, Mom. Although I don’t think Daughter should hold Son accountable for their Mom’s actions. It’s not his fault Mom is an asshole.

Someone commented that she didn’t even need to read the responses, since her “narc” mom had done the same kind of thing with an ultimatum. Below is the comment she left, which really made my heart go out to her. Ex has the same “transactional” attitude, and is quite fond of the ultimatum– bartering valued family relationships for attention and supply, and money, of course.

I don’t even need to read this. My narc mother had a similar ultimatum with my whole family: they had to have a relationship with her in order to be allowed to have a relationship with us children. Everyone ended up having to choose not to know us kids anymore for their own safety. It caused me to have a HUGE extended family that I know nothing about, and now there are so many people that know and love me that I don’t feel like I can approach because even though they’re family and I know they’re great people, I just don’t know them.

I left the above poster a comment, and this was her response. It’s like these narcs have a fucking playbook! Tragic for her brother! Tragic for Bill’s older daughter, who is being held hostage and acts like a slave.

Yep. My dad lives across the country and we are slowly learning about each other every chance we get, and unfortunately my brother (who lives with mom in still another far corner of the country) hasn’t been able to make the choice to take any chances to try to do that.

Watching Bill reconnect with his long lost younger daughter has been a rewarding, yet heartbreaking, experience. Because she always had him… and if she was only allowed access to him, she could have had a very different life. Or, at least a very different childhood and adolescence. But, I am so heartened to see that younger daughter isn’t like her mom, and is determined not to be like her. She is stronger than Ex is. Ex used to complain about her adoptive mom using similarly damaging and abusive– transactional– tactics on her. But now, we see, she learned a lot from her mom. We also know this is learned behavior, as Ex was adopted. So, just because younger daughter has a narcissistic mother, she doesn’t have to follow in her footsteps. She has told Bill that she is not going to go that path. All I can say is BRAVO! Thank God she found better role models.

Well, once again, it’s time to bring this entry to a close. We have another lunch date today, and I need to get dressed. I am truly glad that Ex didn’t score any funding from SMIL, and I’m heartened to know that SIL is being vigilant. But I also know that Ex will try again. So I will continue to be the “eye in the sky”… although I would rather not be. Maybe it’s not my responsibility to be so vigilant… but I genuinely am concerned. Also, I genuinely despise Bill’s ex wife, and I want her to stay away from his family. If that makes me “mean” and “selfish”, so be it. I’m human, and I have personally had to pay for some of Ex’s bullshit myself, simply because I love her ex husband… a man who is, thankfully, very deserving.

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