Ex, narcissists, royals

“All I got was a rock!”… a look at the narcissistic sense of humor, or lack thereof…

This morning, over buttermilk pancakes, bacon, and coffee, Bill and I had an interesting discussion about narcissists and their “humor”… or lack thereof. Our discussion started because I had been reading a thread about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. Yesterday, someone started a thread about shunning, and how Christmas is when a lot of people get excluded from family events. And, in what appeared to me to be a rather one-sided take on the Prince Harry/Meghan Markle situation, the person pointed out that a lot of people are going to be treated badly by their families this holiday season.

Since Harry has a book coming out, and Meghan and Harry have just dropped their Netflix series, a lot of people are buzzing about them. Some people have seen the series and said it was very boring and rehashed. Others have come away with a renewed sense of sympathy for the couple, who are now outside of the British Royal Family, seemingly “shunned”. Someone else started a thread likening their situation to having left a “cult”– referring to British Royal Family as the cult.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the viewpoint that Meghan Markle has been that badly treated. She probably has suffered due to the press, and she probably has experienced racism. But I don’t think she’s been a complete angel, and the constant complaining about how Harry’s very famous and established family members have treated her is getting pretty tiresome… at least to me. It’s hard to feel sorry for an attractive, healthy couple living in a beautiful mansion in a very expensive and exclusive part of the United States. Because they are rich and famous, they have a platform, and they haven’t hesitated to use and abuse it to their hearts’ content. A lot of the regular folks living in the real world are about tapped out on Harry and Meghan’s sad tale of woe, even if there is some truth to their story.

I’ve mentioned before that Meghan makes my “cluster B chimes” go off. I don’t know her at all, and it’s possible that I’ve completely misread her. However, I have found that my instincts are usually pretty accurate when it comes to spotting behavior that is self-centered and narcissistic. I don’t know enough about Meghan Markle to comment on her sense of humor. I know that she tries hard to present herself as a kind, considerate, loving person, even if there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that she’s not really like that. But honestly, I don’t know… all I know is that I get a lot of familiar vibes that tell me she’s probably not a very funny person… at least not when it comes to humor that isn’t at someone else’s expense. I did notice, for instance, that she Meghan had Mariah Carey on her Archetypes podcast, and Mariah said that Meghan gave off “diva vibes”, Meghan seemed unamused. She didn’t laugh and say, “you’re right, Mariah.” She later clarified the “diva vibes” as something powerful and positive, when that clearly wasn’t what Mariah meant. Mariah owns being a diva. Meghan doesn’t.

As we were talking about Meghan and Harry, we somehow got on the subject of the narcissistic sense of humor, or lack thereof. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to spot a narcissist is to observe whether or not they can take a joke, and what they find funny. And, I suddenly remembered some of the best examples of the narcissistic sense of humor I’ve seen in my lifetime.

I’ve mentioned before that when Bill went to Iraq, he had the burden of serving with a very narcissistic boss who used to make humiliating jokes at Bill’s expense. During their sixth month stint in Iraq, he’d send me pictures of Bill, literally buried up to his neck in paperwork and make jokes about his work or even his physical stature. I remember at one point, he referred to Bill as a “welterweight”. Later, Bill told me that his boss used to laugh at his “nasty artistic streak” that needed to be “quashed”. When he found out I’d served in the Peace Corps, he had a good laugh, because he saw it as a “wimpy” and “woke” thing to do. I’ll bet he wouldn’t have enjoyed the living conditions I experienced over there. He also implied that another soldier’s wife was stupid because she didn’t catch his “humor”, quipping to Bill “Your wife would have gotten [the joke] right away.” He tried to ingratiate himself to me, telling me that Bill missed me very much. I totally could see that he missed me, on so many levels, mainly because every week he would call me from Baghdad and tell me about how much his boss reminded him of Ex.

A few years later, this very same colonel, who had been slated to pin on as a brigadier general, was very publicly fired for abusing troops. There was a huge expose about it in which his behavior was described in detail. I can no longer find the whole article, since it was published in 2011. But I have found snippets of it, such as the quotes below:

Bill often told me about how his boss enjoyed humiliating people in front of their peers. He thought it was “funny” to embarrass his soldiers, while they were in a war zone. When Bill went to Iraq with this man, it was both of their first times at war. The boss wasn’t running a brigade that time, so Bill got most of the abuse. I was very angry when I heard about it, because it seems to me that being in a war zone is hard enough without some asshole boss getting their kicks out of belittling and humiliating their underlings. But because it was just Bill in this situation, he didn’t feel that he could speak up about it on his own behalf. A couple of his “brothers in arms” spoke up instead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop Bill’s ex boss from leading a brigade in Iraq and abusing them. And, like most malignant narcissists, he had a very embarrassing and public fall. We see the same thing happening to Donald Trump right now… as he pitches his ridiculous NFTs.

Then I remembered Halloween 2021, when I read about the costume Ex’s teenaged son with “severe autism” wore to go trick or treating. Ex is a big fan of children’s movies from the 70s and 80s, as well as child friendly characters. I know she is a great lover of all things Peanuts. In fact, Bill has told me that she reminds him a lot of Lucy Van Pelt, especially when she offers to hold a proverbial football to be kicked.

Well, Ex’s son, who is reportedly non-verbal, wore a Peanuts themed costume in 2021. Ex dressed him up like Charlie Brown. Not as the usual Charlie Brown with the striped shirt, but in the ghost costume Charlie Brown wore. If you’ve seen It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, then you probably know that Charlie Brown famously got rocks for Halloween. And his ghost costume was full of holes.

Looking at the images on Google, I can see that this isn’t a particularly original idea. A lot of people dress up in a Charlie Brown style ghost costume on Halloween. The difference is, they probably chose that costume themselves and understand the snarky humor behind it. Ex’s son, from what I’ve heard, is not quite at that level of thinking. I wrote about this incident last year, and in my post from November 2021, I noted:

Ex dressed her son up like Charlie Brown on Halloween. He carried a sign that said something along the lines of, “All I got was a rock.” Ex wrote that people didn’t seem to get the joke. That’s probably a good thing, when you consider that she was parading her apparently severely autistic son around– a boy who is supposedly “non-verbal” and may never live on his own– as Charlie Brown, the butt of everyone’s jokes who can’t make a simple ghost costume and always gets rocks from his neighbors.

I doubt that Ex’s son came up with the “joke”. I think this was something Ex dreamed up and decided to have a little fun at her son’s expense. And while some people probably didn’t get the context of Charlie Brown wearing a holey ghost costume and getting rocks from his neighbors on Halloween, others probably thought the costume was in extremely poor taste. I continued in last year’s post:

As I mentioned before… I have never met her son. I don’t know what level of functioning he’s attained. She did publicly state that he was capable of uttering a carefully rehearsed line to anyone who asked about his costume– “I had some trouble with the scissors.” She implied that it took some time to teach him that line, which makes me wonder if there are issues with his intellect. But again, I don’t know. I do think it’s kind of strange to publicly declare so much love for a child, but then dress him up as an obvious “loser” for Halloween, laugh at the spectacle of it, and then tweet it publicly. Maybe Ex thinks of it as “harmless fun.” And, to her, it surely is– maybe it also is to strangers who don’t know anything about her or her children. For the boy, I’m not as sure… If he gets the joke and agrees with it, okay. But if he doesn’t get it, and has just been unwittingly made the butt of a joke– scoring laughs for his mother at his own expense– maybe not.

See… this is the kind of “humor” I’m referring to when I reference “narcissistic humor”. It’s belittling, sarcastic, mean-spirited, and rude. Some people find that kind of humor funny. And for some folks who have narcissistic bents, it’s the ONLY kind of humor they find funny or understand. I went into a lot more detail about this situation in last year’s post, but the one other thing I want to reiterate for this one is that what makes the Charlie Brown costume so insidiously offensive is that the slight isn’t obvious. It’s a subtle dig. If she’d been more obvious– say put her son in blackface or some other obviously offensive costume– that would have put a lot of negative attention on her. But with the Charlie Brown ghost costume, she can be mean, but not seem obviously so. It’s not cool to be obviously mean to someone who has severe autism, and other people would call her out for doing that. However, those who aren’t severely affected by autism are fair game for her meanest and most humiliating digs. That’s what she thinks is funny. Last year, I wrote:

The Charlie Brown costume is more subtly humiliating, especially for a boy who may not realize that he’s being made the object of derision by his own mother. Now… if the boy chose the costume himself and has the capacity to understand the implication of wearing it, okay. But I doubt he does or did… I think, once again, Ex used someone else to get her jollies… to make herself feel better for what, apparently, hasn’t turned out to be the fantastic life she envisioned for herself.

Dr. Les Carter made a great video about this subject. If you would like to learn more about narcissistic style humor, I would highly recommend that you watch this video. As almost all of Les Carter’s videos are, it’s very insightful.

Dr. Les Carter talks about narcissistic humor.
Piers Morgan is pretty narcissistic himself, but I enjoyed hearing his guest talk about Meghan’s “Hallmark card” wisdom. I’ve seen the same thing in Ex’s platitudes on Twitter and Instagram. And I’ve seen very little humor.

Well, that about does it for today’s blog post. It’s still extremely cold here in Germany, but at least the sun has come out. Tomorrow, the temperatures are supposed to rise, so maybe that will mean Noyzi’s water bowl won’t be constantly frozen. Our neighbor has invited us over for an hour of Gluhwein this evening. Glad I have some heavy sweaters now!

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celebrities

Lori Loughlin now has an inkling of what I went through…

Happy New Year, everybody. Here’s a quick post before I head off to enjoy the first day of 2021.

This morning, I noticed an article about the actress, Lori Loughlin, who very recently got sprung from prison after serving nearly two months for her part in in the nationwide college admissions scandal. Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California on false pretenses. They, along with actress, Felicity Huffman, and a bunch of other well-heeled parents, got busted in 2019.

Huffman chose to plead guilty and do her 11 days of time at a federal lockup in Dublin, California in October 2019. Loughlin and her husband, however, continued to fight the charges. They finally admitted to their crimes in May 2020, and settled over the summer, probably when it became clear that if they went on trial, they might have to go to prison for years. Loughlin reported to prison on October 30 and was released December 28, 2020, a couple of days shy of the two months she was supposed to serve.

Lots of people were very disappointed that she’s out of prison. I, for one, am glad the ordeal is over for her. I don’t think prison was appropriate for this crime. Our culture locks people up for everything, and we have so many citizens incarcerated for non-violent crimes. It’s turned into a for profit racket. In any case, it’s over for Lori, and now she can focus on living her life and maybe getting back to her career. She won’t repeat this crime, so I think we can all feel safe that she’s been released and she’ll put this behind her.

Anyway, as I was reading about Lori Loughlin, I noticed that the article mentioned that she’s now focused on her husband’s eventual release. Thanks to COVID-19, Giannulli can’t have visitors. But he should be getting out of the joint by April 2021.

It occurred to me that Lori and her daughters now have an idea of what military spouses go through when there’s a lengthy deployment. My husband went to Iraq for six months, starting in January 2007. I was alone for six months in a brand new house we had just moved into on Fort Belvoir. I couldn’t visit Bill, and like Lori Loughlin, we kept in contact by phone and email. An added stressor was the fact that Bill’s boss’s predecessor was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, just a couple of weeks before he was scheduled to come home. I knew that was highly unlikely to happen to Bill, but it was still a grim reminder that things can still go wrong, even when it seems like you’re home free.

When he was at war in Iraq, I missed Bill terribly and worried about him constantly, but the time flew by… and one thing Lori won’t have to worry about is getting a visit by two uniformed service members there to tell her her husband has been killed. I mean, it’s possible Mossimo could die in prison, but it’s highly unlikely that will happen. If it does happen, she won’t be informed in person by conspicuous bearers of bad news, although I’m sure it will be all over the news. Military spouses with deployed husbands and wives have to worry about that possibility all the time. Mossimo is also in California, rather than a far away Middle Eastern nation.

I’m sure she’ll be okay. It won’t be long until springtime is here, and she’ll have her husband home with her again. They can work on rebuilding their lives after this mess. And– perhaps an added positive. I don’t have to see the constantly recycled stock photos of Lori in her tan pantsuit or grey dress with a sweater anymore.

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Trump

General Mattis becomes the “Meryl Streep” of generals!

As the world watches Donald Trump’s ridiculous daily antics, this morning I got the opportunity to hear former Secretary of Defense General James Mattis speak. Mattis is a retired Marine general, and he is very well respected among most veterans of every stripe. I have never met Mattis myself, but I can tell from listening to him that he is a great leader. He balances strength and resolve with care and appreciation for his followers. I can easily tell why so many veterans– particularly Marines– really respect this man.

Donald Trump hired Mattis to be the Secretary of Defense in January 2017, and he lasted until December 2018. Mattis was probably one of the only people Trump appointed to his cabinet who was actually competent. In fact, Mattis was so competent and suited for the job that he realized he couldn’t do it properly with Trump as his boss. So, instead of sticking around and messing things up by following Trump’s orders, Mattis decided to resign. Although he responsibly gave Trump plenty of notice when he decided to resign, Trump responded to the general’s decision by ousting Mattis immediately, completely dismissing what Mattis did in the almost two years he served in his role as Secretary of Defense.

Mattis, God bless him, wasn’t at all crushed by Trump’s sudden dismissal. In fact, I’m sure he was relieved to be able to go sooner than he planned. It sucks to have to deal with supreme narcissists like Trump. They are completely unreasonable and have no regard for other people. If you aren’t completely with a narcissist’s agenda, you are completely against them, and they declare you an enemy. Narcissists are terrible bosses; they aren’t capable of delegating authority and they don’t work well in teams, because they don’t cooperate. Trump has a LOT of enemies, and I’m sure most of them have suffered greatly at his tiny orange hands. Good for General Mattis for handling Trump with so much wit and aplomb. I’m sure working with 45 was a daily trial, and I commend Mattis for doing his best and staying for almost two years. I consider him a true patriot and a hero.

As a veteran, Mattis has no doubt met a lot of people like Donald Trump. Obviously, General Mattis knows exactly how to deal with these people. It’s a skill I’m sure he’s had to hone over decades in a career that is rife with people who are in the business of war. Narcissists are attracted to positions of leadership. In fact, most leaders have some narcissistic traits because otherwise, they’d never survive the role. But while good leaders draw the line at being confident and having great self-respect, toxic narcissists like Trump and his ilk go beyond that line and use other people to push their agendas. It’s very damaging, and sometimes even dangerous, to be in close proximity to these types of people.

“I’m not just an overrated general; I am the greatest– the world’s MOST overrated!” Mattis reminds everyone that Trump also called Meryl Streep an “overrated actress”. Meryl Streep is, of course, fucking brilliant.

There are many, many narcissistic, power hungry types like Trump in the military. Bill went to war with one of them– a colonel who was slated to be a general. I remember getting phone calls from Iraq and listening as Bill compared his boss to his former wife. I knew things were seriously miserable for him when I heard that.

Bill’s ex wife put him through many years of hell, mainly because she refused to cooperate, collaborate, or compromise, and would not listen to reason. Even though she had never served in the Army, she used to try to tell Bill how things are run in the Army. She would unilaterally make major decisions about things like household finances and family planning, and took “my way or the highway” stances regarding her decisions. She would never include Bill in her plans, so he would be perpetually kept off balance. Here are just a few examples of crazy, self-defeating things she did:

  • She traded in his car without his knowledge and bought two new ones.
  • She once bought a house in very poor condition because she thought it looked like one she’d seen in a snow globe.
  • She used Bill’s pay stubs to get a mortgage, which she let go into default after they divorced.
  • She insisted on handling all of the finances, then royally fucked them up.
  • She stopped using birth control without telling him, resulting in a “surprise” pregnancy when they could ill afford a new baby. She later claimed her birth control “failed”.
  • She used the money for their mortgage to take a trip to the LDS temple.
  • She bought new furniture, carpeting, and landscaping while Bill was away at Army training, even though his job was temporary.

Bill could never argue with his ex, because she was so domineering and controlling, and he was so kind, considerate, trusting, and empathetic. She’d wear him down with the usual narcissist’s bag of tricks– yelling, insulting, giving him the silent treatment, alienating the children and his parents, threatening, and even engaging in physical and sexual abuse. When I met Bill, his ex wife was happily taking all but $600 of his monthly pay and had him convinced that he totally deserved this wretched lifestyle. She made him believe that the failure of their marriage was entirely his fault, and that God would never forgive him for leaving his family, even though SHE had presented him with divorce papers and was shacking up with her current victim in the house she’d bought without Bill’s consent. Bill lived for TDY assignments, because it meant he’d get per diem pay, which he could save up to pay his bills. Fortunately, that job required a lot of travel.

Life with a narcissist…

Then Bill started dating me, and I helped him change his mind about letting his ex wife take all of his money. He stopped giving in to her ridiculous demands and took back his power. It’s taken a long time and a lot of effort, but Bill has almost completely recovered from his time with his ex wife. His finances are vastly improved, and he has work that he enjoys and at which he excels. Even one of his previously estranged daughters has started talking to him again. But it took many years to get to where we are.

When Bill told me his boss in Iraq reminded him of his time with his ex wife, I knew things were really bad in the war zone. Bill wasn’t that worried about being “at war”. Instead, most of his stress came from dealing with his narcissistic boss, who was doing his best to drive him crazy while they were in a war zone. He would do things like force Bill to hang out with him when he should have been resting, insult him in front of his peers, force him to practice golf when he had no interest in golf, and make personal, disparaging comments about Bill’s likes and dislikes. Naturally, I was furious about what his boss was doing, because war is hard enough when all you have to do is fight the enemy. It’s much worse when a so-called comrade and leader gets his kicks by being a complete asshole.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. Bill survived his time in Iraq, and we moved to Germany the first time. Bill’s war zone boss interfered with Bill’s career while we were in Germany, which forced us to move back to the States a year early. However, Bill did well enough in his first Germany job and subsequent positions that he was remembered after he retired from the Army. In 2014, when Bill left the Army, he was quickly hired to come back to Germany. As for Bill’s ex boss– he was very publicly fired from the Army in 2011. He never did pin on as general.

Although Trump is the king of malignant narcissists, he’s also very foolish and incompetent. This week has been particularly cringeworthy, as we’ve watched Trump crumble in the face of potential impeachment. He’s made some ridiculous and embarrassing mistakes in his dealings with other world leaders. And while there are still a lot of people who remain duped by him, I’ve seen some hopeful signs that some folks are finally waking up to reality. And people like Jim Mattis, who is probably one of the few people who don’t have a problem cutting Trump down to size, are voicing their contempt for the so-called “stable genius”. A lot of Trump supporters also support Mattis, so it’s good to hear someone on “their side” shining the sunlight of reality on who Trump is and why he’s so horrible for the world.

I have some hope that we will survive the madness of Trump’s presidency. I hope that people are jarred out of complacency and will vote. I just filled out my absentee ballot last night. It’s not for a major election, but watching the shitshow of the past few years has reminded me of how powerful and important voting is, even if I do it absentee in a state where voting against Republicans seems futile. This is a practice run for next year. I don’t know if we’ll still be in Germany in 2020, but I will likely be voting for everyone BUT Republicans. Unless, of course, General Mattis ever decides he wants to be president and runs as a Republican… I might consider voting for him. In fact, I will continue to vote for decent human beings over big names, unless the people behind the big names have truly done something great to deserve their big name. Trump never achieved anything without screwing someone else over… so I predict that someday, we’ll be calling him the world’s most overrated president. And given that so many already think he’s a complete disaster, I’d say being called an “overrated president” is really saying something. He’s overrated for being called the worst president, EVER.

General Mattis is absolutely right. It’s not really an insult to be compared to someone like Meryl Streep. Trump may think Mattis and Streep are “overrated”, but they have both proven their greatness. As Mattis said, “I earned my bone spurs in battle. Trump earned his in a doctor’s office.” On his very best day, Trump isn’t fit to scrub the shitstains out of Mattis’s shorts. And Mattis has proven that by the graceful and skillful way he’s handled himself post Trump.

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