In February of this year, I finally got around to reading about Lori and Chad Daybell, when I reviewed John Glatt’s 2022, The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family. For a long time, I had purposely avoided reading about this horrific murder case, because it was just one of those stories that had the potential to give me nightmares. But I finally got around to reading the whole, comprehensive story about Lori Vallow, who was born Lori Cox. She’s a woman who has had many husbands, all of whom have eventually ended up alienated. More than a couple of them are now dead. In fact, many people with dealings with Lori and Chad Daybell have died, either due to medical conditions, or foul play.
Lori Vallow Daybell’s daughter, Tylee, was one of the two children who were allegedly murdered by Lori’s current husband, Chad Daybell, and buried in a pet cemetary on Chad’s property. The other murdered child was Lori’s adopted son, J.J., who was her ex husband, Charles Vallow’s, grandnephew. Charles Vallow was killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, who shot him twice in the chest. Chad’s first wife, Tammy, was poisoned until she died. As I mentioned… a whole lot of people who have had dealings with Lori and her associates are now dead or suffering.
Even a woman who had taken part in a 2007 radio contest run by Alex Cox, who had been a morning disc jockey at the time, wound up dead because she “held her wee for a Wii” and became afflicted with water intoxication. Alex Cox is now himself dead, having died of natural causes just a couple of weeks after getting married. His alleged crimes against Charles Vallow were still being investigated when he perished. There was some speculation that Alex may have also been involved with the murders of Tylee and J.J.
It seems like most everything that has been touched by Lori Daybell has turned into tragedy. That includes her one living child, Colby, who was born to Lori and her second husband, William Lagioia. As was Lori’s habit, she alienated Colby from Lagioia, then got her third husband, Joe Ryan (father of Tylee) to adopt him. Ryan, of course, was later alienated from his biological daughter Tylee, when he and Lori split. After surviving an attempt Alex Cox made on his life, Joe died alone of heart disease. Of course, if there is such a thing as an afterlife, perhaps Joe Ryan and his daughter have reconciled in the great beyond… Who knows?
This morning I read that 26 year old Colby Ryan is now in jail in Arizona, having been arrested for sex crimes. According to county public records, this past weekend, Ryan was booked into Maricopa County Jail on two counts of domestic violence sexual assault.
The woman who complained to the police about Colby Ryan’s alleged sexual deviances, explained that he had visited her last week, two days before she went to the police. They had watched television, and Colby had apparently decided he wanted to have sexual intercourse. The victim tried to rebuff him, but Colby was determined, even after she clearly said “no”. She claims he forced her to have sex with him. After the assault, the woman locked herself in her bedroom, and Colby slept on her couch.
The next day, the victim secretly recorded a conversation she’d had with Colby Ryan. In it, he admits that he raped her. She later sought medical attention and a nurse completed a rape exam kit. The victim’s clothing was tested for DNA. On Saturday evening, police arrested Ryan, who allegedly admitted several times that he had sexually assaulted the woman after she had said “no” to his advances more than once.
Colby Ryan is expected to appear in court next week. He’s now in jail on a $10,000 cash bond. Given that most of his immediate family is either dead or incarcerated, my guess is that he’s going to be sitting in jail for awhile.
I’m not sorry to hear that Colby Ryan in in jail for what he allegedly did. The woman did all the right things, particularly in seeking medical attention promptly and reporting the crime to the police. Clearly, if what she’s said about Colby’s behavior is accurate, he belongs in jail. Rape is a felony, and it’s important that rapists are held accountable. The judge did tell Colby Ryan that if he is released, he will have to wear an electric monitor.
On the other hand, it does make me kind of sad to read that another member of Lori’s family is going down a dark road. I know some families have their share of tragedies, and clearly Lori’s has, even though most of the tragedies have been caused by her incredibly selfish and criminal behaviors. I do think Lori Vallow Daybell is mentally ill, but I also think she’s a criminal. And unfortunately, sometimes criminals share their proclivities with people who are close to them, either through genetics, or by setting a very poor example. I don’t know why Colby Ryan did what he did. It does sound like he had some remorse. However, he still has to be punished.
I feel sorry for all of the children who were raised by Lori, even Chad, who was the only one to survive, but has apparently turned into a criminal himself. His start in life was racked with instability, to include being alienated from his biological father, adopted by his stepfather, and then alienated from him, too, as his mother moved on to Charles Vallow. Chad has lost so much in his 26 years– his bio dad, his stepdad, his sister and adopted brother, and another stepdad, are all dead. His mother and current stepdad are now sitting behind bars. And now Chad is behind bars, and will likely do some time in prison.
I’ll probably keep an eye on this case, even though the whole Lori Vallow Daybell drama gives me the creeps. Talk about a fucked up family…
Another Labor Day has come and gone… and we didn’t do much of anything. Historically, Bill and I would go on a short trip for the last official summer weekend. But in 2019, we lost our Zane over Labor Day weekend and were in mourning. In 2020 and 2021, we had the damned pandemic to deal with. In 2022, we still have the pandemic, and were too late to book accommodations for our dogs so we could go see the dentist in Stuttgart. So our next trip is scheduled for the end of the month. Hopefully nothing will screw up our plans, but just in case, I purchased “cancel for any reason” travel insurance, because the hotel I booked in the Black Forest is kind of a special, and expensive, place. It will soften the blow of visiting the dentist, who is very good at his job, but sometimes winds me up.
Bill had to go out of town this morning, and he will be gone until Friday. On Friday, he will take our Arran to the vet, because I suspect he may need some help with his hormones. Or, at least I hope that’s what’s causing him to act kind of weird lately. Recently, Arran seems to be kind of lethargic… sleeping a lot, slow to eat his food in the mornings, and just kind of “off”. I don’t think he’s really sick, but he’s about 13 or 14 years old, which makes him an old guy, and it may be time to see if he has hypothyroidism or something like that. He’s gained significant weight over the past year or so, and I don’t think they’re just pandemic pounds. I once had a dog with hypothyroidism, and a little daily medication fixed her right up. I also correctly diagnosed it in a former friend’s dog. We’ll see what happens. The boys are both getting dentals this month, too, which will be a good thing, especially for Noyzi. It will be his first time, and he really needs it.
Yesterday, Bill was talking to me about how some Republicans think we should rewrite the Constitution, no doubt to suit their agendas. Just hearing about that made me feel depressed. I’ve about had it with the constant upset the country has been going through over the past few years. I’m especially tired of so-called “Christians” claiming that no one who believes in Jesus would vote for Democrats. From what I learned about Jesus as a churchgoer, Jesus would have been a total blue voter.
What is especially distressing, though, is watching the comments from poseurs, like my husband’s former spouse. I have mentioned before that, on the surface, we are in political agreement. However, I know something about her and how she actually behaves when she’s offline. So it’s kind of jarring when she tweets things like this:
To be clear… what she says regarding MAGA politics makes plenty of sense to me. I actually agree with her 100 percent. BUT… I also know that her behavior toward my husband and his family has been anything but Christlike. I know that for all of her “pretty words”, she is actually a very cruel and hateful person. She talks a good game, but when it comes down to it, what she says and types is complete bullshit. And, I guess, knowing this about her, and seeing what other people put out there, makes me wonder about other people. How many people are full of shit? I’d like to think her level of delusion is rare. But is it?
This is a woman who denied my perfectly decent husband access to his own children, simply because he stopped letting her control his life. She denied her children access to things they needed for success in life. She raised her kids to think they owe her, which I suspect, has led to my husband’s daughter being overly concerned about “burdening” people. In fairness, younger daughter might come by this tendency honestly, since Bill is kind of the same way. However, I know that both Bill and his daughters were “parentified”, in that when they were growing up, they were expected to be much more mature and responsible than their years, and be a “parent” instead of a developing child.
Pulled into arguments or issues between caregivers
Felt like you were given responsibilities that were not appropriate for someone your age
Often compliments for being “so good” and “so responsible”
May feel that being self-reliant is better than trying to trust others
Don’t really remember “being a kid”
Parents had trouble caring for themselves or others and placed the responsibility on you
Often find yourself becoming a caregiver for others
Being a caretaker feels good, even when you are sacrificing parts of yourself
Heightened sense of empathy and an ability to more closely connect with others
Feel like you need to be the peacemaker
Feel like your efforts aren’t appreciated
I haven’t spent much time with younger daughter myself, but I have spent the past twenty years with Bill. And to me, this list is pretty much spot on about how he behaves. He’s told me that younger daughter has expressed concern that she’s “burdening” Bill. While a little of that is understandable, given that they’re having to rebuild their relationship, he’s still her father. He wants to help her, and he knows a lot about what she’s experienced, because he’s experienced it, too.
I was there to see my husband try to reason with his ex wife. I saw him cry many times, because he was so distraught over the loss of his children. I was there when he told me about the scars a doctor noticed on a private part of his body, put there by Ex. Bill was much too embarrassed to explain how he got the scars. He didn’t even tell me about them until we’d been married for many years. I watched as he recovered from years of abuse at her hands. Now we’re hearing about what happened after the divorce, and a lot of it is very disturbing.
I was there when Bill was a Mormon, having adopted the faith at Ex’s behest, then watching it being used to alienate him from his children. Now, it seems that Ex has mostly abandoned Mormonism, except for when she wants or needs something. Being LDS ended up blowing up in Ex’s face on many different levels. First, she wasn’t able to get her sealing canceled so she could be sealed to #3. And then, her daughter got help from church members when she decided to escape her mother’s clutches.
And yet, there Ex is on Twitter, acting like she’s the voice of reason, telling off some stranger and claiming to be a “devout Christian”, preaching about Christ’s love. She’s not wrong in what she types, but those comments don’t match up to her actions as a human being in real life. Offline, she’s a monster, who doesn’t hesitate to lie, manipulate, and exert control over anyone unfortunate enough to be in her sphere. And then she accuses them of doing things that she does.
Last night, Bill told me that his life didn’t start to get “good” until he was in his mid 30s. That was around the time we met online. I remember, he was 35 years old then, and his email address even had the number 35 in it. He’s 58 now. I have to admit, my life improved a lot when I turned 30, except it sometimes feels like I’ve kind of wasted a lot of time. But then I realize that maybe my time hasn’t actually been wasted… I just haven’t spent it working in a cubicle. I never thought I had the “right” to such a life, though.
Sometimes, I feel like my life’s mission changed when I met my husband, who is truly a remarkable man. I thought I would embark in a rewarding career, but it just went a completely different way. It’s been my pleasure to help Bill get things back on track and enjoy his life. But it’s tragic that there are people he has to watch out for, simply because he’s a kind, empathic person, and he’s quick to take people at their words, rather than observe the way they behave.
Well… I’m going to miss having Bill around the next three nights, but at least it will give my liver a chance to rest. Maybe I can catch up on my beauty sleep. As it is, I’ve been up since about 4:30am. I’m probably going to need a nap today.
Yesterday, I wrote my first post about Jennette McCurdy, a former Nickelodeon star who just wrote a book called I’m Glad My Mom Died. I bought that book on August 9th, and started reading it a few days ago. I just finished it a few minutes ago. Before August 9th, I didn’t know the first thing about Jennette McCurdy. Now, I feel like I know her. We have some things in common. Actually, if I’m honest, I think she has things in common with my husband and his younger daughter.
A couple of hours after I shared my first post about Jennette McCurdy on Facebook, an old friend commented that she looked forward to my review. She wrote that she had to read the book. Now that I’ve finished it, I agree with her. She should read it. I think she will relate to Jennette McCurdy’s story, too. I think a LOT of people will, in spite of the shocking title that some will feel is in poor taste. Some people think that anyone who gives birth is automatically some kind of angel. And some are just as quick to judge someone who has given birth. Our society tends to look at mothers as people who are always either way above reproach, or people who can be condemned to the depths of hell for making the simplest mistakes. A lot of us forget that moms are people, too. In fact, they are just people, first and foremost.
Jennette McCurdy grew up thinking that her mother was amazing in all ways. Debra McCurdy had a vision for her only daughter’s life. From the age of six, Jennette was expected to share in the dream, as her mom made her audition for commercials, take acting and dance classes, and be cute and charming for casting directors. Debra McCurdy had breast cancer; it was diagnosed with Jennette was two years old. Debra was not above using cancer to get sympathy and preferential treatment, either for herself, or her daughter. Jennette loved her mother, and she hated to disappoint the people she loved. She was a natural people pleaser, trained since early childhood to make other people happy, regardless of her own needs or desires. Later, when she became an adult, she became co-dependent, settling on bad relationships with toxic people instead of holding out for people who were better, and weren’t abusive to her.
So Jennette went along with her mother’s vision for her life. She smiled for casting directors, and put up with her mother’s intrusive and weird behaviors. She didn’t complain when her mother hoarded things, and forced her and her three brothers to sleep on mats. She wasn’t confrontational when her mother used the money she earned to pay her mortgage. And even though she didn’t like being an actress, she didn’t want to upset her sick mom. She she acted and became successful, portraying Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam and Cat. It almost destroyed her. Life in show business is toxic. Add in a toxic mother, and you have a recipe for lifelong issues. People don’t realize it, but fame and money aren’t tickets to happiness. Some of the most miserable people are wealthy, famous people.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a few of the more shocking things that happened when Jennette was growing up. Here’s a quick and dirty list.
At age six, Debra McCurdy forced her daughter to audition for agents. She had a knack for acting, but she hated it. Her mom made her act, anyway.
At age eleven, Jennette started growing breasts. Breasts weren’t good, because they made her look mature. Looking young was good for Jennette’s career, especially on Nickelodeon. So Debra taught her eleven year old daughter how to restrict calories. She noticed when Jennette gained weight and chastised her. She wouldn’t let her eat pineapple, because it was high in sugar.
As a young teenager, Jennette still sat in a booster seat in her mother’s car.
As a teenager, Jennette’s mother showered her, using her prior experience as a beautician as an excuse– to make sure her hair was pretty for the casting directors. Sometimes, one of her brothers would be forced to join her in the shower.
Jennette’s mother discouraged her from being a writer, because she said writers dress frumpy and get fat. She didn’t want Jennette’s “peach butt” to turn into a “watermelon butt”.
Jennette’s mother criticized Jennette’s father, Mark, for not working hard enough and being lazy. And she said it was hard for her to have to rely on a child to pay the bills.
Jennette’s mother sent her endless abusive text messages, emails, and voicemails calling her filthy names and accusing her of “giving her cancer”. Then, she signed off with “love”, and demanded money for a new refrigerator.
Jennette’s mother didn’t have an appreciation for her daughter’s likes and dislikes. She bought her inappropriate gifts and expected her to be delighted with them.
Jennette’s mother never told her who her “real” father was, or that the man she thought was her father, wasn’t actually her dad. She never told her that her biological dad had wanted to be in her life.
Jennette’s mother was a NARCISSIST.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I write a lot about narcissists. I strongly suspect my husband’s first wife is a narcissist. I’ve written many– some would say– inappropriate blog posts about my husband’s ex wife. I probably shouldn’t do that. It might put me at risk. But, I figure that there’s not much more she can do to us, since she deprived Bill of a relationship with his daughters for many years, and she tried hard to ruin his relationships with his family of origin. If I hadn’t immediately recognized her as the abuser she is, she probably would have tried to ruin our marriage. This is another thing that Jennette has in common with Bill and his daughters. You see, Jennette’s dad– Mark– was not actually her father. Debra McCurdy had an affair with a trombonist and he was the biological father of three of her four children. She never told her daughter. And, just as Ex did her best to sever the relationships her first two husbands had with Ex’s three eldest children, Debra McCurdy did the same to Jennette’s bio dad.
Jennette McCurdy doesn’t mention the word “narcissist” until the very end of the book. I was glad to see she recognizes that extreme behavior for what it is. But, as I read the book, even recognizing that she was a celebrity, I could relate so much. Not because I was raised by narcissists, but because I’ve been the second wife of a man whose ex wife is almost assuredly one. The behavior is VERY familiar. It’s also not hard to see where Debra McCurdy’s behavior came from, as Jennette writes about her equally narcissistic grandmother, whose levels of entitlement are off the charts.
It may seem I’ve given a lot away in this post. Actually, the meat of the story really comes after Debra dies, in 2013. As I sit here, reflecting on that year, I realize that 2013 was some time ago. It doesn’t seem like it was nine years ago. I guess that’s what happens when you turn 50. Nine years doesn’t seem like it was so long ago. Jennette is now only 30. She lost her mom when she was just launching into true adulthood. Debra’s death came after many false alarms– “dress rehearsals”– as Jennette puts it. When her mother died, she was devastated. She still believed the fake version of her life story. It wasn’t until later that she got the truth, and that’s when Jennette’s life was endangered. She turned to bulimia, alcoholism, binge eating, and anorexia. She had lots of bad sex with inappropriate partners, and engaged in codependent behaviors. She abandoned Mormonism, for the most part. I wouldn’t necessarily think that was such a bad thing, except it was the one place where she got comfort as a child and had a few somewhat healthy role models (and knowing what I know about Mormonism, that is, in itself, a sad statement).
I think the part where I was the most stunned and gleaned the most insight was when Jennette’s very first therapist– an earth mother therapist/life coach named Laura– delivered a truth bomb that Jennette simply could not handle at the time. Laura was the first person to point out to Jennette that the idealized version of her mother– a fantasy version that did not exist– was fake. And that all of the things Jennette believed her mother did to “help” her, were in fact, toxic, abusive, and exploitive. Laura was right, of course, but even though she delivered the truth very gently, Jennette still couldn’t take it. It wasn’t until later that she was ready for therapy, this time with a male eating disorder specialist named Jeff. I think I would have liked Jeff more than Laura. Women who act like nurturing “earth mothers” usually annoy me. I seem to relate better to men… as long as they don’t try to control me.
I read a large portion of this book aloud to Bill. It spawned a very interesting and insightful conversation. I think his daughter should read I’m Glad My Mom Died, but I know she’s very busy with Mormonism and her young family. I also fear that reading this book could be triggering for her, because I suspect she will identify with a lot of it. I, for one, found this book very enlightening. I don’t share all of Jennette’s issues, but I relate to much of what she writes about eating disorders and alcoholism. And again… I’ve been married to a man whose Ex is a lot like Debra McCurdy on MANY levels. Ex wasn’t my spouse or my mom, but she’s affected my life, just the same. And it’s all so familiar. As I read this story to Bill, he agreed that it was all so very familiar.
One thing I liked about this book is that Jennette’s chapters are short, well-edited, and easy to digest. I think the short chapters are good, because she drops a lot of “bombshells” that could be shocking for many readers. Her writing is sometimes brutally honest. She uses profanity, and there are some very frank descriptions of sexual encounters, bulimia episodes, and alcoholic escapades. I would caution anyone who has suffered from eating disorders to be cautious about reading this book, because some of Jennette’s stories might be triggering.
My heart kind of broke for Jennette, as she wrote about giving her very first blow job as a consolation to a much older boyfriend, because she wasn’t ready for sex. It broke again as she wrote about her actual first experience with intercourse, with someone who didn’t deserve the honor. And then the guy with whom she had much chemistry turned out to be not so good, either. All I could do was think about how useful it would have been for Jennette to have had a good, stable, loving role model in her mother… or, at least someone who saw her as more than a wallet and status symbol. I’m sure that when the truth hit Jennette, she realized that she wasted a lot of time, money, and affection on someone else who didn’t deserve it… and how heartbreaking it is that the person who probably deserved her love the least, was the person who was responsible for her very existence.
Most of the Amazon reviewers have given I’m Glad My Mom Died good ratings. I’m glad to see that. I think we live in a time now when more people are seeing mothers as fallible, and we’re learning that they can be held accountable. However, I have a feeling there will people who will dislike this book only for the title. They will see it as disrespectful, mean, and shocking. It’s kind of “in your face”, not unlike the Reddit “Am I the Asshole” columns. I would urge anyone reading this book to forget that Debra McCurdy was Jennette’s mom and “deserves” respect and love simply for being her mom. Debra McCurdy was an abusive liar, grifter, and leech. And while she no doubt had mental health issues to go with her cancer, that’s no excuse for stealing her daughter’s childhood and encouraging her to be unhealthy and unhappy. Mothers, ideally, should always put their children ahead of themselves– at least as long as their children are actually children. Debra failed in her mission, and it’s a blessing that her daughter has recognized that she’s worthy of better while she’s still young and can recover her health.
I give I’m Glad My Mom Died a full five stars and a hearty recommendation. But please be advised… this story isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be triggering. It can be offensive. You will probably find yourself gasping in shock, surprise, and dismay a few times. And you will probably laugh a few times, too.
As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.
At the end of yesterday’s post, I shared two videos by Mr. Atheist. On those videos, Jimmy Snow, aka Mr. Atheist, reacted to videos put out by anti-abortion activist, Kristan Hawkins. I watched the videos and cringed pretty hard. I thought maybe I would offer my own thoughts on them today, but I think that maybe I’ll postpone that plan. I had written I would comment on them if people were interested. It seems that no one was… or, at least no one is at this point in time. And frankly, I just don’t feel like writing about Kristan Hawkins today. I don’t think I can stomach listening to her talk about why abortions should be outlawed in all cases. Besides, Jimmy already does a pretty good job of explaining why Kristan’s opinions are wrong.
Nope. Today, I think I’d rather write about the book I’m reading right now. I’m finding it much more compelling than I did my previous book, The Case for Heaven, which really didn’t interest me much at all. I was glad to finish Lee Strobel’s book about what comes after death. I moved on to my favorite type of book– a celebrity memoir. I’m currently reading Jennette McCurdy’s new book, I’m Glad My Mom Died. The title alone is very compelling, isn’t it? You just KNOW there’s gonna be a trainwreck.
I’m not quite ready to review this book yet, as I’m only about halfway through it. What I will say for now is that Jennette McCurdy’s story reminds me a little of Melissa Francis’s book, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir. Melissa Francis is, of course, much older than Jennette McCurdy is, but the two have a lot in common. They both suffered stage mothers from hell. Both were actresses, not necessarily because they wanted to be, but because their mothers wanted them to be. Both suffered extreme abuse on all levels. I think Melissa’s mom was more sadistic, while Jennette’s mom was more manipulative and emotionally abusive. Also, to my knowledge, Melissa’s mom is still living, while Jennette’s mom succumbed to breast cancer in 2013.
Before I bought her book, I didn’t even know who Jennette McCurdy is. I’m well beyond the years of watching new Nickelodeon shows– not that the show she was famous for is all that new anymore. Jennette was on iCarly, but she also did guest roles on other shows, commercials, and other stuff. McCurdy’s story is also interesting to me because, besides being raised LDS, she also had problems with eating disorders (which her mother enthusiastically encouraged), anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The chapters are very short, so even though I’m only halfway through the book, I’ve already gotten to chapter 44 or so. And each chapter is more shocking than the last, as McCurdy shares the sheer nuttiness of her mother, the craziness of being a child actress, her mental health issues, and the religion aspect that complicates everything. The crazy thing is, she NEVER even wanted to be an actress. She just happens to have a talent for acting, and her narcissistic mother exploited it to the hilt.
I have never been LDS myself, but Bill was LDS for awhile. His daughter is still a very active church member, and the LDS church– which was Ex’s idea– has had an impact on my life. I know a lot about the church, its practices, and what its members believe. However, I have never been a member, nor would I ever be one. McCurdy seems to have gotten a lot of comfort from church when she was growing up. I relate to that, because I know Bill’s daughter has also gotten comfort from the church when things were especially crazy as she was growing up. In some ways, I also see a lot of similarities between the way Ex behaves, and the way Jennette’s mother did. She is extremely manipulative, possessive, controlling, and just plain weird. But I’ll get more into that when I review the book, which at the rate I’m going, should be within the next few days. I’m finding the book a real page turner, but in kind of a trainwreck sort of way. I’m simultaneously fascinated by the story and horrified by what this poor young woman had to cope with when she was a child.
I know some people will take issue with the title… It sounds horrible. However, I can totally understand why she used that title. Her mother sounds like she was true nightmare to have to deal with. For just an example– imagine your mother sending you dozens of emails, text messages, and voice messages after she’s seen pictures of you on TMZ, taken by a paparazzo. You are an adult, in Hawaii with your boyfriend, but you feel you have to lie to your mother about where you are. You come up with a ruse to trick her, only to have it foiled by a photographer, hungry for a sale. Your mom sends you all manner of abuse, accusing you of giving her cancer, bringing her shame, and calling you things like “filthy whore” and “all used up”. Then, as she signs off with “love”, she adds a P.S.– “Please send money for a fridge. Ours broke, and the yogurt is going sour.”
Imagine your mother explaining how to engage in eating disordered behaviors when you’re still a child, in the midst of becoming a woman. Imagine being fourteen years old and still sitting in a booster seat in the car. Imagine your mother insisting on showering you when you’re sixteen, sometimes also with your brother; her excuse is that she’s a former beautician and wants to make sure you wash your hair “correctly”, so it will impress a casting director. Imagine your mom using your money to pay the mortgage, and being forced to sleep on a mat in the dining room, because the bed you purchased for yourself is covered in your mother’s miscellaneous crap.
I know that Melissa Francis and Jennette McCurdy aren’t the only ones with stage mothers from hell. Wil Wheaton has also spoken openly about his own abusive, money hungry, fame whoring parents, who forced him to act when he didn’t want to do it. I’ll probably read his book next, since it’s been in the queue for awhile, and it will probably dovetail nicely with I’m Glad My Mom Died. I love a good tell all memoir, especially when it involves questionable parenting. Shirley MacLaine’s daughter, Sachi Parker, wrote a pretty good one some years ago. It seems the kids who grew up in show business had it the worst, especially in the days before child welfare advocacy was less of a thing than it is today. If a parent was also a celebrity, then the chances for massive dysfunction go up exponentially. Christina Crawford started it when she wrote Mommie Dearest, but there have been some real whoppers since her book was published in 1978. Gary Crosby wrote a pretty shocking book, too.
Anyway… I am looking forward to finishing the book and writing a review of it. I think it will be interesting on many levels to several of my regular readers, as well as new ones who haven’t found my blog yet. So stay tuned. I’ll sign off now and get back to reading.
Today, I’m thinking about how it’s common for narcissists to give and take things away, especially when they are in an intimate relationship with someone. The old “carrot on a stick” is a common technique narcissists use to keep people in line. They make promises, and even provide things, in exchange for power and control. And then, once they get what they want, they take away what they gave. Or, they take away what they gave as soon as their victims assert themselves or don’t do what they’re ordered to do. Narcissists are extremely selfish people who want to appear respectable, so they will put up a facade that makes them look decent. Underneath it, though, there are a lot of people who suffer. Pity the children and spouse of a narcissist; they can never please them and are constantly trying to survive the ups and downs of life with a narcissist. All of the scrambling that comes with that life, ultimately leads to people who are just trying to keep their heads above water, let alone focusing on their wants and needs for their own lives.
Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about Ex. In fact, it seems like I write more about her now than I ever did. Why would I do such a thing, especially since she hasn’t been Bill’s wife since 2000? It’s because I’ve been coming to some conclusions. Maybe it’s hard for people to understand this, but it’s been quite strange to be a witness to my husband’s relationship with his two children, especially since, given the chance, Bill would have been a loving, involved, and devoted father to them. But, when he and his ex wife divorced, he was denied that chance, and he didn’t have the financial resources to fight in court with her. So, for that reason, he and younger daughter– the one who will speak to him– are having to get reacquainted from afar. Thankfully, technology makes that possible.
Bill and his daughter were physically kept apart for about fifteen years. They had no contact at all until late 2016 or so. They have only seen each other in person on one occasion, since Christmas 2004. Their last meeting was in March 2020, just before COVID shut down the world. They regularly Skype and send videos to each other. I’ve been watching them get to know each other again, hearing the stories of what life was like for younger daughter, growing up with no contact with her natural father. I often get really pissed off when I see the damage that was done, especially since #3 was obviously not a good replacement for Bill in his daughters’ lives. We also know that #3 treats his kids– probably his daughter, specifically– differently than he does Bill’s girls. He calls them his “daughters”, but obviously he doesn’t see them in the same way that he does his natural daughter with Ex (who has five children by three husbands).
Yesterday, Bill watched a video his younger daughter sent him. In the video, which she paused at least three times, due to having to tend to her very young children, she talked about a number of things and asked questions. She wanted to know what Bill’s favorite country was. Younger daughter has never had the chance to go abroad, at least not beyond Canada and Mexico. She’s always been a curious person. I remember when I met her in 2003, she told me she wanted to be a LDS missionary in Russia. Bill sent her language CDs for Christmas to encourage her. Naturally, Ex took them away, along with any pictures or other reminders of Bill.
Younger daughter is about to celebrate her sixth wedding anniversary. She has three children, all of whom are under five years old. She’s also a devout Mormon, having been brought to the church by Ex, who tried to use it as a means of controlling Bill and ostracizing him from his kids. The LDS church keeps its members very busy. I listened to younger daughter speak as she was making dinner for her family. I heard her kids squealing in the background. Then, the baby, who was born in late May, began to cry. As she tended to the baby, younger daughter talked about a musical performance she had been asked to do for church.
As a musical person myself, I realized it would be hard to prepare a song for church with everything younger daughter has going on. She said it would be a solo, and she doesn’t like to sing solos, because she gets really nervous and her voice cracks. Younger daughter never had the benefit of lessons. At one point, Ex had let her take piano lessons, but then she stopped them. Younger daughter learned more about piano from YouTube videos, but isn’t as trained as she would have been if she’d been allowed to keep taking lessons from an in person teacher. But that’s how Ex rolls. She gives… and then she takes away.
She said, “I don’t think I can sing as well as Jenny (that’s me) does.”
I told Bill, “There are some techniques she could learn that would help her with nervousness and the cracking voice. I could have taught her a few tricks myself.” But, like Bill, I was denied access to Bill’s daughters. Their mother saw me as too much of a threat. I guess, some might see that as a natural thing, given that I write so many negative posts about her. But, I wasn’t doing that when the kids were minors. I had respect for Ex’s role as their mom, even if I found her behavior reprehensible. Back then, I also didn’t know the extent of the abuse she perpetrated against Bill and their children.
Now that younger daughter is a grown, married woman, with children of her own, I can’t help but reflect. She is very bright, courageous, assertive, and naturally resourceful. I wonder what her life would have been like if she hadn’t been raised the way she was. I feel pretty certain that she would have earned a college degree or two. She would have been able to travel… to develop skills and talents beyond homemaking. She could have had someone teach her how to sing properly, and become proficient at playing piano, or any other area of study she wanted to explore. I also strongly doubt she would be LDS.
It’s not a secret to my regular readers that I don’t like the LDS church. However, since Bill and I have become reacquainted with younger daughter, my “anti-Mormon” views have softened somewhat, mainly because I’ve seen that younger daughter was able to escape her mother because of people in the church. I have always known there were good people in the church. It’s the institution itself, and many of its practices, that I don’t like. In the church, there is a popular saying “The gospel (or church) is perfect; the people aren’t.” My view is that the LDS church is, by no means, “perfect”.
There are a lot of problems with the LDS doctrine, as far as I’m concerned. I think it holds some people back from what they could achieve in life, mainly because they’re expected to give so much time and money to the organization. And yet, just like the Army gave Bill an escape, the church gave younger daughter an escape. So I can’t blame her for loving the church… but I also think there will come a day, maybe years from now, when her children are older and less needy, that she will realize all of the things she could have done as a young woman. Which isn’t to say that LDS women can’t or don’t do those things. But they usually have the benefit of supportive, loving, and non abusive parents to help them. Younger daughter, regrettably, didn’t have that. So now, she’s 28 years old, with no college degree, three very young children, and expectations to serve the church.
Not all is lost, though. Because she was able to escape Ex’s mini cult, she’s been able to reacquaint with Bill and his mom. Access to both were denied to Bill’s daughters when they were growing up. Older daughter, at age 31, still lives with Ex. According to Ex, they are a “single paycheck” household, which is earned by #3, who works in a field for which he is probably poorly suited. Older daughter, who is a talented artist with a college degree, is basically raising her “severely autistic” brother, who is going to be 16 this year. Ex, on the other hand, recently tweeted this:
Ex is praising this lady on Twitter, who apparently has a remarkably insightful seven year old child… (and my guess is that he didn’t actually say what she claims he said, but who knows?). She brags about her five children and “grandbabies”, and calls herself “nearly an expert”. But I happen to know that Bill did most of the hard work when his daughters were babies and toddlers. As they got older and he was devalued and discarded, their care was taken over by ex stepson. And then, when Ex had two more babies, Bill’s daughters basically took care of them, and did all of the housework. It still goes on today, as Ex’s youngest gets closer to physical adulthood. I recently looked at open posts on older daughter’s Facebook, where, in 2021. she had publicly posted a loving comment about her brother, to whom she’s obviously the “mommy”. She clearly inherited Bill’s kind heart, even though she can’t seem to extend it to Bill.
Steve, Joe, and Blue have brought so much light, love, and laughter to my family for many years.
Blue’s Clues brought me closer to my little brother.
We would watch Blue’s Clues every day, while drawing the many clues that filled the Handy Dandy Notebook. At first he would watch me draw each clue (over and over) until he memorized every one. If I messed up, he would take the paper away, show me the correct way to draw it, and then hand me a clean sheet of paper to draw the clue(s) again.
He’s 14 years old and has severe autism. He knows every clue (in order) by heart.
This afternoon, he drew three clues on our driveway; naming each one from the episode with the Treasure Hunt and Steve’s Grandma.
Blues Clues will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.
#bluesclues 25th Anniversary
I look at older daughter’s photos, and I can see that she looks a lot like Bill’s mother, a woman she barely knows exists. When she was about eleven or twelve, I spoke to her on the phone, and thought she sounded just like Bill’s mom. Bill’s mom could have given her so much… but her mother had to take that away from her. She was too selfish to let her have access to her loving father, and his side of the family. She’s too selfish to let her live her own life.
Sometimes I get angry with older daughter… but then I realize that being totally estranged from Bill is probably the only way she can stand to be in the situation she’s in. Because if she knew what she was missing now, and what she has missed for years, it would probably really hurt a lot. It might be unbearable. So I suppose she sticks with what she knows, because ignorance is bliss.
Which brings me to #3. This morning, I thought about what he’s doing for money. He works as a certified nursing assistant. I know that wasn’t what he had planned for his life. But life with Ex doesn’t allow for pursuing one’s own passions. Somebody has to bring home the money, and I know from Bill’s stories, the breadwinner is expected to give all for the family… or really, for Ex. It’s up to Ex to spend the money, you see. And we’ve seen what she spends it on… crappy boxes from Scotland, autographed books, and trinkets. Then she pressures other people in the family to give her things in their wills.
When Bill was married to Ex, he was an active duty Army officer. But then she pressured him to leave active duty, because he wasn’t doing well as an officer. It’s hard to do well as an officer when you have kids, and your wife sabotages you by going out alone, leaving you with the kids, and not coming back home in time for you to get to work on time. It tends to have a bad effect on one’s job evaluations. Never mind all of the hurtful comments she made, tearing down his self-esteem. The 1990s was a time when poorly performing officers were encouraged to leave the service, so Bill got off active duty, joined the National Guard and they moved to… ARKANSAS.
Here was a man who has a degree in International Relations from American University. He’s intelligent, kind, well read, and eager to work. He joined the Army, not just for the financial assistance, but because he had a desire to serve, and be part of something bigger than he is. But in the mid 90s, he found himself in po dunk Arkansas, working swing or third shift in a toy factory, where he made about $23,000 per year, with which he was expected to support seven people (Ex, himself, three kids, and Ex’s sister and daughter, who had moved in). He later got a better job at the Whirlpool factory, supervising guys making refrigerator doors all day. That paid about $40,000, which was better money obviously, but the job was pretty soul sucking and boring for a man who had studied International Relations at a good school. He was simply doing what he could to bring in money. I remember seeing his ID from Whirlpool. He looked about 20 years older in his photo than he was at the time. I would say that at his age now, he still looks younger than he did in that photo, taken when he was in his early 30s.
Ex promptly bought a house in poor condition, which she said reminded her of one she’d seen in a snow globe. Severe financial problems ensued, and Ex then decided to become a Mormon, where people are expected to pay 10% of their income, while they allow other people to dictate what kind of underwear they put on every day.
When I met Bill, he had just gone back on active duty, having figured out that he couldn’t continue living that life. But he was fresh from bankruptcy and foreclosure. He supported himself on $600 per month. Meanwhile, Ex was working on victim #3, whom she moved into that house Bill was paying for. She replaced Bill with #3. And #3 now works in a field in which he’s probably not particularly passionate, doing it for the money, not the joy of taking care of people. It’s an important job, but probably one for which he is wholly unsuitable. I mean, he did, years ago, reportedly kick the eye out of Ex’s father’s little poodle. Should he really be tending to the sick? I dunno.
If you read my blog, you know that Bill and I have a good lifestyle now. It took awhile to get where we are, but working together, we have managed to accomplish things he never could have done with Ex. We have minimal debt. Bill now has a well paid, challenging job, in a safe, interesting, and pleasant country. He’s earned two master’s degrees, and I’ve paid off the debts for my two master’s degrees. We travel, stay in beautiful hotels, drive nice cars, and don’t worry about supporting ourselves in this manner. I have no doubt that if Bill had had those girls with me, we would still be living like this, and they would be living life on their own terms. Younger daughter would have had music lessons, or access to whatever else interested her as a child. Older daughter would be making art instead of taking care of her brother. Both of them would have seen Europe, and even lived here for awhile.
As sad as this is, it’s not as sad as it could be. At least younger daughter has broken free. But I think that as her kids get older, and she has more time to think about things, she might get angry. Because she got a very raw deal. It was unfair. I wish we had done more about it during their childhoods, when it was happening, even as I know that she and her sister aren’t my kids. There was very little that I could do, personally… but still, it’s like I have a sense of survivor’s guilt. I had access to their dad, who is clearly the better, more adjusted, more qualified parent. I’m not sorry we’re together, because I know he’s happier with me, than without me. I just find it heartbreaking that he’s such a good man, and he got tangled up with Ex. At least he escaped, though, and was able to reclaim his life. #3, I fear, is probably not going to be as lucky. And if older daughter doesn’t wake up, she’s going to miss out on a lot… even more than she already has.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.