communication, family, mental health, narcissists, psychology

Going “no contact” with rude and hostile people…

It’s Thursday! We had quite a lot of severe weather last night. In our area, there was just a big thunderstorm with lots of rain that refilled my rain barrel. However, in our former town of Jettingen, I’ve seen that a lot of people’s cars and windows were damaged by hail.

During our four years of living in Jettingen, I noticed there was more severe weather there in all respects– more snow, more rain and hail, more wind, and yes, hotter days in the summer! Jettingen is at a higher altitude than some other areas. Consequently, it gets some interesting weather. I remember in 2015, we got snow that hung around for weeks after it was long gone from Stuttgart.

In spite of the weather, I did like Jettingen, mainly because it was right next to a beautiful forested nature park. On the other hand, the nature park was full of ticks, and any time we walked through it, we came out with the little bloodsucking pests. I was forever pulling ticks off of our dogs. We also had a landlady who was a bit of a leech, as we found out upon leaving her house. Where we live now, the weather is milder. So is our landlord’s disposition. That’s a good thing, too, since he’s also our neighbor.

Speaking of non-literal “leeches”… I could also use that metaphor for some of the people I run into on Facebook. I’m sure anyone who uses social media has noticed how hostile and rude people are these days. You post a comment– especially one that goes against the status quo– and chances are good someone is going to come at you with negativity. There’s a pervasive “shoot first and ask questions” later attitude on Facebook.

Lately, I’ve been blocking people like crazy, mainly because I’m tired of being confronted with that level of disrespect by strangers. I know some people think blocking people is “cowardly” or “immature”. However, I think being nasty to people you don’t know, simply because you disagree with something they’ve said or written, is also cowardly and immature. If we were in person, I wouldn’t stick around to listen to that shit. I’d walk away. So that’s what I’ve been doing a lot more of on Facebook. I don’t post on Twitter or X or whatever… and I don’t really use Instagram, either. I stick to Facebook and YouTube, and lately I’ve been upping my YouTube consumption, because I mostly find it a more pleasant place to spend my time.

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that yesterday, I read an AITA post on Reddit Ridiculousness that triggered me. I mostly confined my comments about that post to my blog, because it’s a place where I can write everything I want to, and have some control over the responses I get. But, even though there was a little voice in my head telling me not to comment, I didn’t resist leaving a short statement on the post. I basically wrote a much shorter version of what was in yesterday’s blog post. It went against most of the other comments, praising the OP in yesterday’s post and saying he’s “not the asshole” for looking after his mental health by going “no contact”. My verdict was that “everyone sucked”.

The gist of my comment was that if a person wants to go “no contact”, they should stop being in contact with pretty much everyone connected to their target. In my social media post, I specifically wrote that the no contact thing makes “funerals and weddings awkward”. Which it does. Don’t kid yourself thinking your passive aggressive “silent treatment” toward certain family members doesn’t affect everybody else at a family function. It totally does, even if no one says that out loud.

I got several angry comments from people who told me my comment was “rubbish”. I blocked the first two or three people who responded to me in that way, because I figure if they’re automatically hostile because I’ve disrupted their version of reality, they aren’t mature enough to have a discussion. Frankly, I neither have the time nor the crayons to explain this concept to them, and I don’t want to get into a heated online confrontation with a stranger who hasn’t bothered to put on their thinking cap or employ basic civility.

I know sometimes comments on Facebook are very triggering, but most of the time, when I post on social media, I try to take a deep breath first. I wish others would try to do the same. I don’t like getting into contentious arguments with randos.

I’m sure the people who responded to me in anger were triggered because other people, whose opinions they might actually value, have admonished them for “taking care of their mental health” by going no contact with family members. And they feel that no one has the right to deny them their right to go no contact with others. What they really want is to have their cake and eat it, too, and it upsets them when someone has the nerve to suggest to them that “no contact” doesn’t work that way.

Here I am, a total stranger behind a computer screen whom they feel “safe” to attack, having the audacity to write that if you want to go “no contact”, you have to be all in and really commit to it. So attack they do… and I’m sure it temporarily makes them feel better. But I don’t usually respond to their angry comments. Lately, more often than not, I simply block them without any other response. I have the right to express my views, too, and I don’t owe anyone a conversation or an explanation, especially when they tell me my opinions are “rubbish”. If they want an explanation, they can find my blog. 😉

For the record, I have never claimed that people don’t have the right to go “no contact” if that’s what they want to do. What I wrote yesterday is that if you claim to be going “no contact”, but then you hang around with people who are communicating with your “no contact” target, you’re not really going “no contact”.

Going no contact is not just about giving people the silent treatment. Going no contact means just that. You don’t communicate with them at all. Communication isn’t just about talking to people, because not all communication is verbal. So, that means you don’t stalk them on Facebook; you don’t drive by their house; you don’t ask others about them; you don’t talk or think about them at all. And you don’t give other people in their circle of friends and loved ones the opportunity to share information about you to them. To do that effectively, you will probably have to cut off more than the target person.

If you cut off speaking to your father, but you’re still talking to your siblings, and they are still speaking to your dad, there will be communication and, likely, some triangulation. Your name will probably come up. You can’t expect your siblings to honor your desire to keep all of your communications private, especially when they are talking to someone as significant as a parent. You can certainly ask them to do it, but chances are good that, ultimately, they won’t honor your request.

It might even be by accident that they let something slip. See yesterday’s AITA post for proof of that. The OP claimed to go “no contact” with his brother and parents, but he still spoke to his cousin and grandmother. Sure enough, that eventually put him back into contact with his parents and brother, because the parents pressured the cousin to give them his phone number. And I’m sure when Granny died, if the OP went to the funeral, there was communication, even if he didn’t say a single word to his parents or brother. A large percentage of communication is nonverbal. Maybe nonverbal communication is not the mythical 93% that has been claimed for so many years, but it’s a very large percentage.

So, that’s why I wrote that if you want to go “no contact”, you have to go all in and commit to it, which means not talking to other people in the family. If you’re still speaking to family members, and they’re still speaking to your target, you haven’t really gone “no contact”. You’ve gone “low contact”.

Going low contact can also be effective for mental health purposes. Plenty of people who have to co-parent with a narcissist do just that, for the sake of their children– that is, if they’ve been able to arrange a co-parenting scenario. Not everyone can do that in every situation. My husband couldn’t do that with his ex wife; she flatly refused to cooperate, and he lacked the means to legally force her to comply with his requests to share the kids.

But if you’re not speaking to certain people, except to rudely tell them you’re not speaking to them… or you tell someone you obviously know that they have you mixed up with someone else. Yep… that is, indeed, a form of communication. You haven’t actually gone “no contact” with them at all. It’s petty as fuck and really stupid, to boot.

After a few indignant responses from irate people about how my comment was “rubbish”, I decided to respond to the last person who challenged me. I was feeling rested, because I had just taken a nap. And I was tired of being tagged in angry responses by people who were trying to “correct my opinions”.

I calmly explained that it seems to me that the guy in the Reddit article had not actually gone “no contact”, and I included reasons why I believe that. Then I briefly explained why I think anyone really going no contact needs to quit talking to other people in the group or family unit. At the end of my response, I wrote “That’s just my opinion, and I’m entitled to it. If you respond to me with rudeness or hostility, I’ll be going ‘no contact’ with you.” And I added a winking smilie, even though I was dead serious, not that I think the guy cares one way or the other if he ever has a Facebook exchange with me again.

I doubt most random people care when I block them. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know, because I don’t so much as interact with them. I just notice their online conduct and “schwack” them… as Bill would say. Because I’ve seen the trailer and I’ve determined that their show isn’t one I want to watch… or be sucked into for binge viewing. I do it for MY mental health. Sure, it hurts more when a person is blocked by someone they “know”. So, I figure it’s better to spare them the pain by not engaging and just sending them to Facebook’s proverbial round file called the “block list”. I’m sure other people still love them anyway, even if things didn’t work out between us. 😀

It’s very difficult to truly go no contact with people you somehow know. I would love to be able to do it with Ex, but it’s been impossible, especially since Bill and his daughter reconnected. I used to make a point of not searching for information about Ex, because I figured it would disrupt my peace. But then I’d hear about her latest antics or past shenanigans, or some other disgusting layer of toxic crap would come to light. I’d need to unpack it, so I’d write a post in my blog.

Then I noticed her trying to mess with the vulnerable in Bill’s family. I don’t directly intervene, but I do raise the alarm so the more easily affected can protect themselves from the craziness. At this point, I just embrace watching what she posts online. At the very least, it helps warn us if she’s planning something sinister; and at best, sometimes she’s entertaining. I know she watches what I do; she always has, even long before I started paying attention to her. I know, because she mentioned my blog to Bill’s daughter. So yes, I realize I’ve been “Googled”. Turnabout is fair play.

I figure that if you’re reading my blog, seething because I’ve written something you don’t like, or you think is unfair, but then you lack the courage to have a conversation, you’re no better than I am. At least I watch Ex because I know for a fact that she can be dangerous, if not to one’s health, then certainly to one’s finances. I may not be the most likable person, but I’ve never used family members (especially children) as weapons; I don’t threaten or abuse people; I don’t manipulate others; and I’ve never been the direct cause of anyone’s severe financial or emotional problems. I’ve also never left any physical scars in private places on another person’s body.

I suspect people in the family read yesterday’s post, as well as several others. I pay close attention to who reads my blogs and where they come from. There were some suspicious hits yesterday. Allow me to go on record in saying that I truly don’t care if my husband’s former family members read my blog. Maybe it will help some of them wake up and grow up. Or maybe it won’t… either way, it doesn’t matter to me, because they’ve all supposedly gone “no contact”. 😉

Life is short. I don’t like the bloodsucking ticks in the naturepark, or the extortionate behaviors of our former landlady. I also don’t enjoy having my time and emotional well-being sapped by hostile people on Facebook, who don’t bother to consider more than their own perspective before popping off with disrespectful comments to perfect strangers. I choose not to waste my time with those people. I simply go “no contact”. And because they are complete strangers and we have no shared experiences, relatives, or friends in common, it’s super easy to do.

For more information on how to REALLY go “no contact”, have a look at this excellent post by the folks at Psych Central. It offers good advice, but again… it’s not easy to do.

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Uncategorized

Love bombing 101… lather, rinse, repeat…

Happy April Fool’s Day, y’all… In honor of the day, I’m about to write about a real fool. I know some people won’t understand why I’m writing this. Some might even think I’m a terrible person for writing this. I don’t care. I’m going to write it anyway, because I feel like I’m watching a train wreck in progress, and I need to process it.

Some readers might know the backstory, which is easily found here on this blog. Other people don’t know the backstory, and maybe they don’t care. As my friend Weird Wilbur says, “that’s very fine.” And some clueless people might want to tell me this is none of my business. And, in fact, they would be right. It isn’t my business, really… other than the effect it has on people in my husband’s family and, to a lesser extent, my husband himself.

For those who need a backstory primer, click here and here. Really, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the history of this sad tale of woe. It’s just the most recent, heartbreaking chapter of a very long, dramatic, poorly written novel of toxic, narcissistic abuse. This story began in the early 1980s and it continues to this day.

So anyway, about a month ago, I wrote a post called “The seaglasshole is at it again”. In that post, I noted that my husband’s ex wife had started a crowdfund. Below are some screenshots. You can easily see how the crowdfunding effort went.

You can see that no one, besides Ex, contributed any money to her fence building campaign. Ex also had a birthday last month, and it came to our attention that she, my husband’s estranged older daughter, and her daughter with #3 (her current husband) all took a trip down to Tennessee to see my husband’s stepmother. Ex lives in New Hampshire, and gas prices are at an all time high. I suppose it’s possible that she and the girls took a flight, but knowing Ex, I’m guessing they took a road trip. I find that to be an interesting decision on many levels. She needs $5500 for a fence, but she has enough money to donate $500 to her own campaign, and she has the money to go to Tennessee, along with two of her daughters. Either way, it’s telling. Obviously, she didn’t need the money that badly.

I noticed that after her “visit” with my husband’s stepmother, Ex quietly removed the link to her crowdfunding campaign from her very public social media accounts. I have a feeling she did that because she talked my husband’s bereaved stepmother, whose beloved husband died in November 2020, into giving her some money. And you know… I don’t think that is a wise decision on SMIL’s part, especially since SMIL has, on more than one occasion, told us sad stories about how she’s given Ex money or gifts that were never appreciated. But I don’t know what SMIL’s situation is right now. I suspect she’s lonely and needs attention. And Ex is all too happy to give it to her in the form of a love bomb.

Well… last night, Bill took a look at Facebook, which he doesn’t do very often, because he can’t seem to log into it on his iPad. He’s only able to see Facebook on his phone. He noticed that his SM had unfriended him. And then I found the below tweets on Ex’s public Twitter account.

Oh Ex… how low have you sunk this time?

Notice the very first tweet. She refers to her “mum”, who is 71 and just crossed an item off her bucket list. SMIL, who is 71 years old, just went to California, where I suspect she saw the Golden Gate Bridge. The photo Ex was reacting to was of the Golden Gate Bridge. Also… Ex is 55 years old, and we know that her adoptive mother is dead, and her bio mom was a married woman who had an affair. So, I can assume that Ex is now claiming Bill’s very Italian stepmother as her “mum” (Ex fancies herself a Scot).

Now… I don’t actually give a shit if Ex and SMIL have become “chums”. I can’t control who SMIL invites into her home, and she’s supposedly a functioning adult. She does have an adopted daughter who is a very good person, though, and I am worried that Ex will do her best to take advantage of SMIL. And then, SMIL could potentially end up in a situation that might make her a burden to other people.

Think this is a far fetched theory? Consider that Ex compelled Bill’s daughters to drop out of school when they were teenagers and get G.E.Ds. Then she got them to enroll in college and take out massive student loans, which she then proceeded to skim money from. My husband’s younger daughter has only just recently managed to pay off the debt, and she does NOT have a degree to show for it. Older daughter, we’re told, went to a very expensive private school, but she’s 30 years old, still lives with her mother, and takes care of her brother… the one Ex claims they need to erect a fence for. We’ve also heard that #3’s mom also lives with Ex and probably serves in an “Aunt Edna” capacity (reference National Lampoon’s Vacation). Maybe she looked after the boy while Ex and her adult daughters were visiting Bill’s stepmother.

My husband’s former wife has a very long history of being a parasite. She uses people for money and narcissistic supply, and anyone who figures out who she is and what she does gets cast out. But she never completely lets go of anyone. She’s still engaging with Bill’s family, even though she’s made false accusations about Bill, and they have been divorced for 22 years. I think if I weren’t around, she’d try to engage with Bill. Again, she never totally burns bridges.

Ex kept in contact with her first ex husband’s family, too. She used them to try to hurt Bill in 2009, when we busted her then 21 year old son trying to change his last name in secret, as he was also being paid child support by Bill. Bill never legally adopted his former stepson, but Ex somehow changed his name to Bill’s and convinced Bill to pay child support for him. She alienated her son from his bio dad and he didn’t pay child support for his son; that was up to Bill, who legally, was never more than his stepdad and, at this point, is now just an acquaintance. Bill loved that boy as his own and didn’t mind paying support for him. But he did feel that since he was paying support and the lad was calling him “Dad”, he should have been informed of his decision to reclaim his original last name.

SMIL knows all about this. She knows that Ex is capable of incredibly low depths. Apparently, she doesn’t care. Either that, or she has dementia. I don’t think she has dementia, though. I think she’s feeling angry and abandoned, and engaging with Ex is her self-destructive way of lashing out at her family– Bill and, perhaps, her daughter, who I know has recently connected with her bio mom. But, I’m afraid she’s only hurting herself, and perhaps her daughter.

Now, there’s really nothing we can do about SMIL’s decision to be Ex’s “flying monkey”/ally. That’s her decision, and her business. My only concern is that SMIL is going to wind up burdening innocent people.

I don’t like to see people being victimized and manipulated… and I have seen the abuse cycle enough times to know what’s going on here. If things go as usual, eventually SMIL and Ex will have a falling out. She will be discarded AGAIN, and her family will be left to pick up the pieces in the wake of Ex’s latest campaign. You can bet on it.

I’ve seen this before. Photo is public domain.

It’s at times like these that I’m so glad we live on another continent. But, I have to give props to Bill, who has told me that this time, he is disinclined to be a “white knight”. He won’t be climbing up on his figurative horse, riding in, and saving the day this time. This time, he’s going to detach. So I hope SMIL knows what she’s doing. And I hope her daughter does what she can to protect herself from the fallout from Hurricane Sabrina.

I am watching an old episode of Dr. Phil this morning. I don’t really like Dr. Phil per se, but I do think this episode is an interesting one, mainly because the dynamic between the guests is somewhat like what we’ve dealt with. Bill was never in arrears with his child support obligations, though. In fact, he went above and beyond. And Ex is still trying to exploit his resources by glomming on to his family. Shame on her.

I relate to the guy in this story. To Bill’s credit, he never went as far as this guy has. But his anger is understandable.
When will the next phase in the cycle of abuse begin…

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condescending twatbags, mental health, music, narcissists, psychology

Say goodbye, not goodnight…

Beth Nielsen Chapman has a really moving song in her catalog called “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye”. I happened to hear it the other day. 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 wish I’d stuck with piano lessons.

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 (ETA in 2023: she also recently lost her second husband, also 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.

I notice a number of red flags…

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.

I did this in one take. I kind of wish it had taken more time.

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.

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narcissists

Whatever…

Sometime in the early 1990s, it became popular to answer people with a single word– “Whatever”. I remember being in college and people were suddenly saying, “whatever” in a sarcastic tone of voice when someone said or did something stupid or rude. This morning, I’m reminded of that as I just finished watching Dr. Les Carter’s latest video about the one word all narcissists hate. Can you guess what it is?

Dr. Carter is right. Narcissists hate to be dismissed by the word “whatever.” Frankly, it’s not a word I use very often, except to people who really deserve it. I used it the other day, when someone was giving me grief over sharing a Rolling Stone article about Donald Trump. She basically said that Rolling Stone isn’t a valid source of information about the world. I responded that it’s a legitimate magazine with real journalists. When the teasing continued, I wrote “Whatever.” Fortunately, this friend isn’t a narcissist. However, there have been times when I really upset someone because I said “whatever” to them.

I was listening to Dr. Carter talk about how narcissists behave– they want you to dance to their tune and jump when they say “jump”– and if you don’t, there’s an implied threat that there will be hell to pay. But if you respond to them like a grey rock, in a bland, detached, unaffected way, it drives them crazy. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, since narcissistic people are infuriating.

Back in October 2013, I wrote on my old blog about the word “whatever” and its significance. Because it was a pretty good post, and includes an anecdote from my past about the use of “whatever”, I’m going to share it again now.

One of my Facebook friends asked what the word “whatever” means in her friends’ hometowns.  My friend is presently in Oregon, visiting her husband who is there on business.  Her husband said “whatever” to someone out there and they were very offended.  My friend and her husband are from the Philadelphia area and in Philly, saying “whatever” is not that rude.  I mean, yeah it’s kind of snarky and dismissive, but it’s not the kind of thing that would bring that much offense to most normal people. 

The responses to my friend’s query were interesting.  Most of her friends said it was a little disrespectful, but not “fuck off and die” territory.  A couple of folks commented that it would depend on the tone and the context.  One mother said she would wash her kid’s mouth out with soap if she ever heard her say it.  Apparently, out on the left coast, “whatever” is highly offensive and actually is akin to saying “fuck off and die”.  Someone can correct me if my friend’s impression is wrong.

Anyway, I was suddenly reminded of an incident that occurred back in 1998 or 99… can’t remember exactly when.  I was working as a waitress at a nice restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was dinner time and someone in my section had ordered a cheeseburger, an item on the dinner cafe menu, while everyone else was having food off the regular dinner menu.  The crappy computer at the restaurant had a course numbering system that usually worked fine.  However, for some reason, burgers were not automatically designated second or main courses.  You had to enter it manually.

In my haste to take the order, I forgot to designate the burger as a main course; so I had to go back and talk to the chef.  I went to the kitchen and explained that I had forgotten to course sequence the cheeseburger and that I wanted to note that it was intended to be a main course.  The chef was very rude about it and made some nasty or sarcastic comment to me.  I no longer remember what he said, but it was offensive.  And I said in response, “whatever”.  Actually, given my emotional state in those days, he’s lucky all I said was “whatever”.  At that time, I was trying to find the right antidepressant and was even edgier than usual.

Well… the chef got pissed, and complained to the manager that I had been “rude” and disrespectful to him.  So she cornered me and bitched me out, which got me really upset.  I was pretty non-functional for about an hour.  I’m kind of surprised I never got fired from that job, actually…  though I was generally a hard and dependable worker.  Once I got my meds straightened out, I was a lot more even tempered.  For some reason, a couple of the managers actually seemed to like me and kept me around.  Also, they were chronically understaffed.  Anyone with a high enough tolerance for abuse and decent work ethic could work there as long as they wanted to.

Later, I told my shrinks about what happened. The psychiatrist, who was a bit of an ass and used to patronize me by calling me “kid” and constantly harassed me about my weight, asked me if I had apologized to the chef. And my response was that the chef should have apologized to me. I had made a simple error and immediately went back to fix it. I was polite when I approached him. He got shitty with me first. It wasn’t even like the error was a big deal. All the chef had to do was make a note of it on the order chit, but instead, he decided to start shit with me when neither of us had time for the drama.

My psychologist, whom I suspect was not really all that impressed with the drug pushing psychiatrist, applauded me for being so assertive and said the chef was acting like a prima donna!  A couple of years later, his daughter worked at the same restaurant.  I’m sure he heard even more horror stories from her.

Restaurant work is hectic and frustrating and, if you work in a nice place, it’s likely you’ll have to deal with egomaniacal chefs who act like assholes…  and that chef who was rude to me was a major asshole who thankfully rarely worked on the line because he had been promoted to “executive chef”.  I vividly remember the few times he did work on the line and he would throw tantrums that, if you were sitting in a dining area close enough to the kitchen, you could easily hear.  He was very unprofessional and would often get weeded because he was out of practice and easily overwhelmed.  And when he messed up, he took it out on the staff, who were forced to address him as “sir”.  No, I’m not still bitter…  😉

I actually hated that job, but I’m very grateful for the experience.  I learned so much there and it did propel me to a better life.  I made several good friends working at that restaurant, too.  Some of them are still friends today.  Indeed, 17 months of misery in fine dining literally changed my life for the better and, I think, made me a much higher quality person.  At the very least, I learned to have respect for people who work in the service industry.  I will never purposely stiff someone who works as a server, unless their behavior is so egregiously rude and unprofessional that they make it obvious they don’t care if I tip them. 

That restaurant experience also gave me a lot of stories… and taught me a bit about fine food and wine. It helped me find a very easy and decently paying job when I moved to South Carolina and needed something that wouldn’t interfere too much with grad school.  I ended up working at a country club where I didn’t have to rely on tips, had flexible hours, and they would let me take home leftovers.  I also learned to try new things and enjoy really good food instead of processed boxed crap or casual dining chains.  I may not be skinny, but at least I get fat on the good stuff.

In 2020, I still have a lot of friends from that restaurant job. Some of them are chefs. Not all chefs are assholes, but restaurant work is a stressful job which can lead to some bad habits like smoking and drinking way too much. The chef who was rude to me had worked his way up to executive status, so he was no longer used to expediting. I always hated it when he had to work, because he would often throw tantrums that involved yelling, screaming, and occasionally throwing things. He’d had to work that night because one of the regular chefs got sick and needed to take the night off. The executive chef was pissed off that he had to work as a lowly expeditor, and he took his angst out on me.

Incidentally, the chef who called in sick is still a friend of mine. He was one of my favorite chefs to work with back in those days, because although he did occasionally throw the odd tantrum, he didn’t smoke or drink and very rarely fucked things up. He was also very funny. At the time, he had a mohawk, and he enjoyed my raunchy sense of humor. I still like him today, although it looks like he’s now a manager, rather than a chef.

I recently read that the restaurant where this happened, which had opened in 1980 and had once employed my sister back in its earliest days, closed for good just a couple of weeks ago. The restaurant that existed during my employment there actually ceased to exist in 2009. The original owners sold it to another local chef. The “new” owner was never able to get the restaurant to the level it was back in its heyday. So now he’s going to start over, and turn that restaurant into an Italian eatery. Williamsburg, Virginia actually has a number of Italian restaurants… but this new place will have a lower price point and be more family friendly. It will also have a retail side. We’ll see how it turns out and, if indeed, it survives the COVID-19 nightmare.

As I posted on my travel blog– which is now more of a German social isolation lifestyle blog– I’m picking up new skills every day.

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