narcissists, poor judgment, psychology, YouTube

Gearing up for the big smear…

This morning, I watched a very interesting video by famed YouTube personality, Dr. Les Carter. I’ve written about his videos before, and I’ve reviewed two of his books. In fact, I am in the middle of reading another book by Dr. Carter that I hope to review before long. Maybe I’ll even finish it today, since the weather is dependably shitty for late fall in Germany.

The video I watched this morning is called “How Narcissists Build A Case Against You”. It’s all about the dreaded “smear campaign” that usually happens when a narcissist either wants to discard you, or get you back in line. Never forget that narcissists crave control, and they want to be in charge of the narrative, which will always be that they are never wrong, don’t make mistakes, and when something unfortunate does inevitably happen, it’s never their fault, and they are always the victim. On the exceedingly rare occasions when a narcissist takes responsibility, they will virtually always try to shift the blame somehow or make an excuse.

Really interesting viewing for a Sunday morning.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might know that Bill and I have both had our ins and outs with narcissists. Bill has had a worse time of it than I have, mainly because he has a tendency to be a people pleaser. I am not as nice as he is, so I don’t tend to attract narcissists, or if I do attract them, I turn them off pretty quickly. But because I’m Bill’s wife, I’ve had dealings with narcissists who have been attracted to him. Our most recent narcissistic dealings happened in our last town, where we were caught in an incredibly weird predicament in which our landlady and her former tenant were working together to shame us into letting the ex landlady illegally rip off our security deposit.

We were in a unique situation, because I am a blogger and I tend to be pretty open in the topics I write about. The former tenant was monitoring me, posing as someone who was actually interested in the subject matter, rather than just a common spy/flying monkey. But in retrospect, when I first met ex landlady and former tenant, I had a bad feeling. I ignored that feeling because the summer of 2014 was especially difficult for us.

Bill had retired from the Army that year, and we had been uncertain about his job prospects. Then we made an international move. My father had suddenly died, and we had somewhat fresh memories of our first move to Germany, which had involved living in a very basic and pretty horrible hotel for six weeks. We just wanted to settle somewhere and get back to a normal life. So, when we met ex landlady and former tenant, even though I noticed some things were “off” about them, I brushed those thoughts aside. A couple of months ago, we passed our anniversary of having moved into that house. I had posted on Facebook “The new landlords seem nice. Let’s hope it’s not just an act.” In retrospect, that was pretty damning… and even then, I pretty much knew that we were going to be in for a hard time.

It started off subtly and slowly, just as Les Carter describes it. Former landlady and ex tenant were both nice at first. However, I noticed from the outset that ex landlady was not trusting, and had some apparent control issues. I mostly chalked it up to the local culture. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. There was even a period during which I could even say she was likable. Former tenant had come off as a bit “oily”, selling us the stuff she didn’t want to take with her, which for all I know, was left there by former tenants. But she was otherwise basically pleasant, even if she was a bit weird about money. Bill had asked her about an energy bill and she was very adamant that it wasn’t her responsibility. Maybe it wasn’t, but her vehement reaction to his innocent question was more over the top than was necessary.

As time went on, I started making more connections and noticing things. Former landlady was becoming less reasonable. Some things went wrong in the house. I had been on the receiving end of more than one screaming tirade, rife with accusations about what an irresponsible person I was, how terrible my housekeeping is, and how they’d NEVER had problems like that before– which I don’t believe, and now know can never be true again. If ex landlady ever tells another tenant that, she will be lying. But it’s now my guess that she lied to me repeatedly, and unabashedly. Former tenant joined in the fun and games with lies of her own. A big red flag was that she’d often leave me comments on my posts, but then delete them. She didn’t want them biting her in the ass later. But she didn’t delete all of them, and her undeleted comments later came in handy.

Ex landlady’s behavior was very disrespectful and more than a bit puzzling. My husband is a well-regarded, highly responsible, and kind person. He was the one dealing with ex landlady, but she would often direct her abusive diatribes toward me. So yes, I was confused and anxious about the situation, because at first, I wondered if I really was the problem. I later realized that ex landlady was just trying to justify taking our money, and she and former tenant had both obviously learned from prior experiences that being accusatory and shaming toward “kind” people is an effective way to get what they want. And that was especially infuriating, because although landlord/tenant situations are almost always kind of awkward, we had never before been accused of the things ex landlady accused us of. Certainly not as a married couple.

The only exception for me, personally, was when I lived in Armenia and rented an apartment for about a year from a lady who had worked for the Peace Corps. As I was about to finish my Peace Corps service, she tried to accuse me of not paying her rent one month. That wasn’t true, and I could prove it, but she thought she could strong arm me into paying her for an extra month, because in those days I was a lot more easily upset than I am now. One Friday night, I came home from a night out to find her and her father waiting for me. They had let themselves into the apartment and were sitting there smoking when I came home, waiting to confront me over the month’s rent they claimed I didn’t pay. But her father came every month and I always paid him. I had proof, because I kept a daily journal and mentioned his visits. I also had receipts of the money I collected for rent from teaching English at an NGO.

She asked, “How do I know you didn’t just spend the money the NGO paid for the rent?”

But I could have asked her and her father the same thing. I gave him the money on her behalf, because she was studying in Hungary. He didn’t give me receipts, because that wasn’t how things were done at that time. How do I know what he did with the money after I paid him? The amount of rent we were discussing was just $100 a month, and she probably figured that as an American, that was chump change for me. But in those days, that was a lot of money for me, since I only got paid about $5 a day as Peace Corps Volunteer. My parents weren’t giving me money, and I didn’t have savings. And besides, she HAD been paid. She was just trying to intimidate me by shaming and humiliating me.

I think she saw me as a rich American who would simply pay her to shut her up. She did get me so upset that I hyperventilated in front of her, which made her so uncomfortable that she left. She obviously saw me as weak. But she was definitely wrong about my alleged weakness, and she did not get an extra month’s rent from me. Come to think of it, ex landlady acted a lot like my former Armenian landlady did. I heard the same complaints from both women about my housekeeping, since I’m admittedly a bit of slob.

Now, I’m not a dirty slob. I do take the trash out, wash the dishes, clean the toilets, sinks, and showers, change the sheets, mow the lawn, and pick up the dog crap (when I can see it). But I don’t dust compulsively, wash windows, vacuum every day, put my clothes away, or make my bed each morning. Ex landlady is evidently compulsively neat, and I think she was upset that I’m not like that. Former Armenian landlady had also noticed I’m not compulsively neat, because she would let herself in the apartment when I wasn’t there and let her son eat my food… and leave dirty dishes in the refrigerator, no less. If either of these women were that concerned about neatness, they should have mentioned it before agreeing to rent out their property. Or, they could have simply respected my privacy. That way, we both could have avoided heartache.

Anyway, one day, I wrote about the weird situation with ex the landlady on my old blog. It wasn’t so much that I had a habit of writing about former landlady. I would say that, until things went really south, on the rare occasions when I mentioned her, I mostly wrote positive things about her. It wasn’t until she started verbally abusing and accusing me that I wrote anything negative. But when she really started to behave offensively, I was legitimately confused and wondered about it. I mentioned it offhand in a blog post. I wrote about two or three sentences about the situation– mildly questioning and hardly accusatory, now that I think about it.

I thought about the sketchy story former tenant told us about why she and her husband were moving mid tour. They had a brand new baby, and claimed they needed to be closer to work. That, I could understand, since the house was pretty far out from the installations. But then she’d added that they needed to be closer to their babysitter, which sounded like a lame excuse. I probably would have been less suspicious of her story if she’d just said she needed to be closer to work.

At the same time, I noticed the former landlady was doting on the baby, and I knew, having been an Army wife for years, that the military typically doesn’t pay for people to move mid tour unless there’s a damned good reason, and it involves health, safety, or mission readiness. Also, she swore the landlords were “excellent” and like parents to her… and yet they couldn’t help her find a suitable local nanny so their very functional and family like business relationship could continue? Hmm…

After thinking about her story, I realized it was probably at least 95% bullshit. So I mentioned it casually in a very brief way in a blog post. I didn’t realize ex tenant was still reading the blog at that point. I didn’t even blame her for moving. Having dealt with the frequent unannounced visits and uncomfortable interactions I had with the ex landlady, I figured ex tenant had dealt with similar issues and wanted more privacy and professionalism. Nothing wrong with that.

Former tenant left me a sternly worded comment, which she later deleted, claiming that my speculation was all wrong. She shamed me for doubting her, and asked me to delete references to her involvement in our declining situation. I didn’t fight her on it, because I wasn’t wanting to argue with her. I just didn’t think things added up. But, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I knew she was concerned about her online footprint. In retrospect, I should have seen what she was doing for what it was… classic gaslighting. She was asking me to deny what I was seeing with my own eyes and knew from personal experience. She was very firm about it, and didn’t even seem to understand how I could have possibly come to the conclusions I had. But because I didn’t want a conflict with her, I allowed her to do that, and edited my post. That doesn’t mean I believed her story, or didn’t see that she was clearly up to no good.

Former tenant also claimed she didn’t want me to involve her in my speculation about what was happening. However, even though she didn’t want me to involve her by even casually mentioning her in a blog post, she was actually choosing to be involved and actively meddling in our business. She was sharing my blog with ex landlady and her daughter, and the three of them were probably gossiping and smearing the hell out of me, and coming up with ways to screw with us. She later even admitted to me that she was doing that, and was bold enough to think I would feel ashamed instead of extremely pissed off at her. She must have really taken me for a sucker. I could probably forgive her for gossiping, but having the audacity to admit it to me was a bridge too far, especially since she was so concerned about her own privacy and reputation.

The fact that she continued to monitor my blog, even years after she’d moved out of the house is a red flag, especially since she made it clear that she doesn’t like me and apparently doesn’t even think I’m a good writer. I base that last bit on the nasty private message she sent me, again shaming me for daring to object to the ex landlady’s abuse and false accusations, and the sarcastic remark she left about about my creative pursuits. If that’s how she actually felt about me and my writing, why was she still reading?

I think it’s because she wanted to deflect scrutiny from herself. I think ex landlady let her get away with not paying for damages that occurred on her watch. Ex landlady never did a check in with us, and I don’t think she did a check out with the former tenant, since we literally took the keys from her. She was still moving out as we were moving into the house. Ex tenant was likely worried that my speculations would cast doubt on her false persona as an honest and decent person, when it’s pretty clear to me that she’s a liar.

I also think that it’s possible that former tenant doesn’t respect me because, for whatever reason, she doesn’t approve of my lifestyle. I don’t have children or a regular job, so she probably thinks that makes me worthy of contempt. I suspect ex landlady agrees, and in fact, was probably put out that I was always at home, so she couldn’t come over at her leisure and snoop. More than once, she suggested things for me to do outside of the home, even though I never asked her for that kind of help. Neither of them seem to think that writing is a valuable use of my time. But I’m not sure why it matters, as long as the rent was being paid on time. What I do with my time is my concern, right? And even if someone thinks I’m a no-talent hack, shouldn’t I still be entitled to basic courtesy, respect, and privacy? Why is it their business if I write a blog? Of course now I know why they felt it was their business… but it’s pretty easy to stay out of my crosshairs if you aren’t someone who’s in the news. You leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.

Bill and I made convenient scapegoats for the fact that the house was in desperate need of renovation. The truth is, it was not very clean when we moved in. And because there was never a check in protocol done, when we moved out, there was no way to prove we hadn’t done the damage she claimed. On the other hand, there was also no proof that we had done the damage. I also had proof that ex landlady made false and defamatory accusations against us– again, because I blog, keep journals, and take many pictures. So much for being a no-talent hack. 😉

So… Bill sued, and ended up prevailing. But the whole situation was very stressful and upsetting. It brought us no joy to pursue legal action. It was the first time Bill had ever sued anyone, and it was definitely not something he enjoyed doing. However, we felt we needed to take that action, because it was so very obvious that we were being taken for suckers. The way we were treated was absolutely terrible and completely undeserved, and we did not want to let her get away with it, for our own sakes and those of people who came after us. Even now, three years after we moved, I’m still angry about it. Those people obviously had no compunction about blatantly ripping us off and defaming us, while trying to deny us the right to respond or process. We bent over backwards to keep the peace in that situation, and we gave the ex landlady every opportunity to settle the situation fairly without involving lawyers and court. She refused to cooperate, and in the end, it cost her.

It’s a mistake to assume someone is weak and stupid simply because they are kind and sensitive, and don’t like conflict. Especially if they make their living planning military exercises, which is what Bill does. It’s literally his job to plan battles. Moreover, while I don’t have a fancy business title, I am not a stupid person, and I’ve done a lot of work over the years to get over the need to “people please”. Anyone who requires “pleasing” and constant appeasement is probably, at best, an asshole who would never return the favor. They certainly aren’t worth the effort of pleasing. For all of her spying and compulsive study of my blog posts, former tenant apparently didn’t realize that. If she’s smart, she will not engage me again. Meanwhile, I will hold on to the lessons I learned in this situation and try to recover from the blows to my psyche that occurred because of this ordeal.

I realize that most people who have dealings with narcissists deal with them on a more personal level. A lot of people get involved in romantic entanglements with narcissists. I can’t even say for sure that we were dealing with two narcissists, or just one narcissist and someone with a different kind of mental health issue. What I do think is that at least one of the people we dealt with was not behaving in a normal or businesslike manner. If that’s the way she treats people who are in a business relationship with her, I can only try to imagine the psychological beating the people who are supposed loved ones likely suffer.

One last comment before I close this post. Former tenant tried to frame a narrative that I habitually drag people through the Internet mud. It’s true that sometimes I do vent, although I very rarely name names. I don’t go out of my way to harass people. You’ll also notice that I don’t write about my current landlord. That’s because he doesn’t give me a reason to vent. He’s our next door neighbor, yet he never bothers us, and as long as he gets his rent money, he doesn’t have a need to meddle. When we eventually move out of this house, I don’t think we’ll have any issues. If we do, I have every faith that they can be settled amicably and fairly. And hopefully, the next time we move, it will be into a home that we own.

Standard
narcissists, overly helpful people, psychology

“Spanx” for the psyche– when your friends and family members don psychological shapewear…

Almost a month ago, I wrote a blog post about manipulators who insist that they’re straightforward and honest. In that post, I wrote about how I’d seen a meme on social media that really spoke to me. I saved it, and three days later, was presented with a real life situation that pretty much described the wisdom of that truism someone shared on Facebook. I will repost it below for those who don’t want to read the older post.

So true…

Bill and I were talking about this subject again this morning over breakfast. It’s Veteran’s Day, and he’s a veteran, so he’s at home. I asked him if, looking back on his experiences with people who turned out to be toxic and manipulative, if they had started off trying to look like they were “above reproach.” He said they mostly had… and in fact, thought of a few people in my life who had acted that way at first, and then turned out to be controlling, manipulative, deceptive, and underhanded. It’s as if someone designed Spanx for the psyche, put them on, and then tried to sell it to the unsure.

You know what Spanx are, right? Spanx are foundation garments designed to make people appear to be thinner and more shapely than they actually are. While Spanx may make a person look more attractive by compressing and smoothing out those trouble spots, people who wear them are basically hiding their true selves. Just as today’s featured photo implies, that’s all well and good until it’s time to get more intimate. Then, the truth comes out, and you find out if your partner only loves you for the illusion of your “perfect” body instead of your personality.

I don’t think shapewear can help me. I am who I am, like it or not. Have you ever noticed that the people who model shapewear don’t actually need to wear it? I think they should get someone who looks like me to model their products. But I don’t want to do it myself… love me, love my fat rolls.

To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a person covering up their physical flaws if it makes them feel more comfortable with themselves. I do, however, think trouble starts when a person hides their authentic selves with “shapewear for the psyche”. That’s when a person behaves like someone they’re not for the purpose of shaping or manipulating your opinion of them. Then, when you realize who they really are, you find out you were duped. It’s like the person wore psychological Spanx to hide their unsightly ego bulges, sagging virtue, and flabby morals. The next thing you know, you’re wondering if you’re crazy or stupid. Surely this person is as good as they first seemed. You wonder if you’re the problem. But nope… they were just hiding their true selves in psychological shapewear, designed to trick people with an illusion.

This type of behavior is a form of “gaslighting“. According to Medical News Today:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.

A person who comes on strong, and tries hard to make a great first impression on you, is trying to shape your opinion of them. Then, when the behavior changes for the worse, as it always does, you will think back to that initial strong and positive first impression and be more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt. You will wonder if they’re just having a bad day. You will assume that someday, they’ll be that person with the warm, winsome personality who insisted that they are above reproach, and would never lie, cheat, steal, or do anything that isn’t for someone other than themselves. The reality is, they were never that person. They just wanted you to think they were. They want you to second guess yourself as you start to realize that they deceived you.

These folks are the ones who take it upon themselves to set a good example for others to follow. To give a recent and relevant example, there’s a woman I know casually who, when the pandemic was first in the news, made a point of posting pictures of herself wearing face masks while she was hanging out with her friends. She added a “PSA” of sorts about how important face masks are and– oh look!– she’s wearing one! Obviously, she was putting it out there that she’s a “caring” person, and you should try to emulate her. She sacrificed wearing lipstick so we could see her taking one for the team, dutifully wearing her face mask and being an example to all.

Later, I noticed that she deviated somewhat from that initial caring for the masses message she put out on her Facebook page. I got a taste of her control issues and the underhanded ways she tries to rope people in to doing her bidding. I realized that the first impression I got of her was just a facade. The reality is, she was wearing “Spanx for the psyche” and I had bought into that initial false image of her. I don’t think she’s a bad person, per se. I just think she tries to put forth an image that isn’t quite authentic or accurate. I find myself being more careful in my dealings with her.

Looking back, I can think of other people who made dynamite first impressions on me. I came away from meeting them thinking they were amazing. They were cordial, witty, charming, funny, and entertaining. Then, after awhile, the mask slipped, and I realized the first impression was just their version of a sales pitch. They were just trying to sell a false version of themselves so that when their real personality inevitably came out, I might cut them more of a break.

This phenomenon reminds me of that old joke about the man who visited Heaven and Hell to see where he’d like to spend eternity. Heaven is quiet, serene, beautiful, and comfortable. Hell looks like a raucous party, with sexy people having a blast with endless games. The man likes how Heaven looks, but ultimately chooses Hell, because it looks like it would be more fun. Then, when he shows up on this first day of eternity, he sees how miserable and awful Hell really is. He asks the demon who is showing him around what happened to the fun version of Hell he’d seen. The demon says, “Yesterday, we were recruiting you. Today, you’re committed.”

It’s easier in hindsight to acknowledge that sometimes people cover up who they really are. When you’re actually meeting them for the first time, it may not occur to you that they would be deceptive about their real selves. Most of us want to give people a chance, and try to see at least some good in others, especially when we first meet them. That’s kind of what our culture teaches us. If we let a negative impression cross our minds, we might hear the stern reproaches of someone from the past, chastising us for being “prejudicial”. However, I have found that that initial gut impression is often correct. There have been many times when I’ve regretted not heeding that impression. Because, once the more “intimate” part of a relationship begins, and the “Spanx for the psyche” is peeled off, the real ugliness sets in… and the person tries to sell that fake version of themselves again. I’m left wondering if I’m crazy or they’re just lying to me.

I’ve often discovered that people who need “psychological Spanx” also tend to be surface acquaintances. They aren’t interested in getting to know other people as much as they want some dirt on them so they can use it to their advantage at some point. Most of the fake people I’ve known are much more concerned about their reputations and images than they are in forming solid and honest relationships with other people. They’re more worried about how they look to others than they are in caring for friends and loved ones who have already committed to them. They don’t value deep relationships; they just want people to submit to their control tactics. Once someone is on the hook as a supporter, they aren’t going to go to the effort of covering up their flaws anymore. And if that’s not acceptable to you, the person who was duped, they’ll make it painful for you to object.

It’s kind of like when we first met our ex landlady. She tried hard to present herself as caring, understanding, and decent. But there were a number of signs that she was being deceptive. We chose to ignore them, even though I know I picked up on the signals from the first meeting. Her words and actions weren’t congruent. And later, after we heard many assurances from her about what a good and responsible person she is, she became the worst landlady we’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Over the course of our relationship with her, she made a number of external improvements to the house, but they were mostly cosmetic and meant to make the house more appealing to people on the street. She couldn’t have cared less about the comfort and convenience of the people who actually lived in the house and paid rent to her. That’s why she replaced the driveway and put up a flimsy fence instead of replacing the weird toilet that repeatedly backed up and required her husband to give me a tutorial. That’s also why she didn’t get rid of the disgusting carpet that reeked of cat piss. People on the street can’t see those things and don’t have to deal with them. But tenants have a contract, and are subjected to seeing her as she really is when things go wrong.

I have also seen how these types of people, when they have a commitment with others in their lives, feel free to mistreat them. I always pity people who are born to manipulative liars. It’s much easier to get away from someone who is a not a close blood relative. When it’s your parent or sibling, the stakes are much higher, and people tend to tolerate their bad behavior for longer. Then, when they can’t take it anymore, other people judge them for escaping the clutches of their tormentors. More often than not, the judgmental folks have only seen the charming, appealing, “psychological Spanx” wearing versions of the relative who is being abusive. They haven’t see them when the Spanx come off and the person lets everything unattractive about their true selves hang out.

Now… I’m not saying that it’s wrong for a person to try to make a good first impression. To some extent, most of us try to do that. What I am saying is that when a person tries too hard, or, when you first meet them, they insist that they’re “good, honest people” who never have problems with others, that’s a red flag. Nine times out of ten, they’re going to turn out to be the opposite of what they claimed to be. Or, at the very least, you’re going to find out that they aren’t authentic.

Authentic people don’t have to tell you how good they are. It shows in the honest way they behave and how they relate to other people. They don’t need “psychological Spanx”, because their personalities are naturally attractive. It’s possible to meet someone who is lovely and that’s who they really are. Usually, those types of people don’t give you a bad feeling. You don’t have that little voice in your head, warning you. The authentically good people don’t need to bowl you over with charm. They have no need to impress. They’re just good people who are real. No psychological Spanx or shapewear required.

Standard
narcissists, psychology, royals, videos, YouTube

The Body Language Guy takes on Meghan Markle…

Some time ago, I ran across some entertaining videos by a heavily accented man named Jesus Enrique Rosas, otherwise known as “The Body Language Guy”. Rosas regularly makes videos about celebrities and analyzes their body language. I get a kick out of him, because he’s got great energy and charisma. I must admit that his accent is also interesting. I probably listen to him longer than I might someone with a less exotic (to me, anyway) accent.

I don’t know much about Rosas. I have no idea what his qualifications are. But I have noticed that he has an awful lot to say about Meghan Markle, and most of it isn’t very complimentary. He’s also kind of witty, which I definitely appreciate. It’s not hard to make me laugh, but if you manage to do so with style, you get extra points from me!

The below video was the first one I saw Rosas make about Meghan Markle. He thinks he has her pegged as a narcissist. Behold…

Is he onto something? This is a fascinating video.

Certainly, Rosas isn’t the only one who’s noticed that something seems a little off kilter about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. He’s focused on their body language, but I focus more on what she says and does. I watched the Apple+ series Meghan and Harry did with Oprah Winfrey. I thought it was very interesting. But I was mainly more interested in hearing from Harry, than Meghan. He comes off as very generous. Meghan comes off as less so… at least to me, anyway. I think I’m pretty sensitive to narcissistic types, mainly because I’ve unfortunately had a lot of exposure to them.

Harry has always struck me as a sensitive, kind, and decent person. I know he was legitimately devastated by his mother’s death in 1997, when he was just 12 years old. I also think he’s a protective person. Meghan, by contrast, is very much a go-getter. I remember reading about how she wrote to an advertiser about sexist language used in promoting their products.

Meghan probably doesn’t need Harry’s protection, but if she is a narcissist, she might exploit those tendencies to keep him doing her bidding. Also, check out today’s featured photo. Some years ago, I used to follow Dr. Tara Palmatier’s blog, Shrink4Men. “Dr. T”, as she went by, frequently mentioned how high conflict, narcissistic typed women were hung up on being “princesses”. She refers to it as a “princess mentality”. The quote above came from Markle’s now defunct blog. She obviously watched William and Kate get married on television… and yet she says she never Googled Harry? Seriously?

But it seems that being in the British family was more than Meghan bargained for. I won’t dispute that the British tabloids can be brutal. They certainly can! And I won’t dispute that racism is a real problem, even in 2021. It certainly is! But I don’t believe that Meghan was treated as egregiously badly as she claims.

In fact… thinking about Harry’s and Meghan’s great exodus from England last year, it reminds me of how Bill’s ex wife pressured Bill into getting out of the Army. The Army provided Bill with an identity, and she had to live by the Army’s influence. She didn’t like that, so she pressured Bill into quitting. That action deprived Bill of his livelihood. She also separated him from people outside of their sphere who might influence Bill, or threaten her power over him.

I see a similar dynamic between Harry and Meghan. Obviously, staying in England would mean the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William would have MUCH more influence over Harry than they would in the United States. So Meghan says the British press was too “hard” on her. Harry, being sensitive to mental health issues because of his mother’s difficulties, is quick to acquiesce. Before you know it, the couple has left royal life. But… they still complain about being “cut off” from the British family’s riches. Apparently, Meghan didn’t realize that being married to a high ranking British royal entailed doing some work. And she was quite firm about doing things her own way, British tradition and expectations be damned!

A video Rosas made in August about Meghan Markle… He pays very close attention to what Meghan says, how she dresses, and her behavior.

In the above video, Rosas says he’s “not a Meghan hater”. But minutes before he says that, Rosas calls her a narcissist. Later, he says she’s fake. Aside from that, he admits that Meghan has good public speaking skills. But then he reiterates that she’s a fake narcissist and a snob. He ends the above video with the hilarious quip, “At least Harry found his balls and he’s allowed to play with them.” Bwahahaahaha.

Interesting… and I have my own opinions about Meghan Markle. I probably agree more with Rosas than disagree with him. I have noticed some discrepancies in some of the things Meghan has said, as opposed to her actions. I also notice that Meghan seems to have isolated Harry from the life he’s always known. I don’t know if Harry is truly happy in California. I have no idea how he and Meghan get along. But I do recognize that Harry and William, who were always very close, are not very close anymore. And this is perhaps evidenced by the somewhat chilly birthday greetings sent out to Harry via the Cambridges’ social media.

Yesterday, I happened to catch The Body Language Guy’s video about the recent Time Magazine cover of Meghan and Harry. I was oblivious to the cover until I saw the below video. Then, I noticed that a lot of people were talking about it, both on YouTube and Facebook.

I have to admit, Rosas brings up some very interesting points.

In the above video, Rosas points out how Harry is fading into Meghan’s shadow. She is presented as equal to or even larger than he is. She stands with her legs apart, wearing white, as he wears black and seems to “hide” behind her. She looks powerful, but he looks a bit cowardly. And we all know that Harry, who served the British military in Afghanistan, is no coward by any stretch of the imagination. At one point, Rosas says Meghan is “emasculating” Harry.

Honestly, if I had seen that cover without having watched Rosas’ video, I probably would not have noticed all of the weird stuff he points out. It would not have occurred to me to linger on the photograph, mainly because I’m not that interested in Harry and Meghan. I wouldn’t say I actively think about them much… I probably think a lot more about William and Kate, and especially their adorable children.

I’ve always liked Harry, though. He strikes me as a very kind, funny, and empathic person. And unfortunately, having married a man like that, I know he is fresh meat to narcissists. I don’t know if Meghan is a narcissist, but I do think she tells untruths. Like, for instance, I don’t believe that she didn’t know anything about Harry when she was growing up. Harry is the son of the most photographed woman in the world, the late Princess Diana. In the 1980s and 90s, Diana was everywhere. And, as Meghan is a modern woman living in the Internet age, as well as an actress, I don’t believe for a second she never Googled Harry.

When Meghan says “I never Googled Harry”, I’m reminded of a similar whopper Bill’s narcissistic ex wife told him. She said that she was accepted to several top flight universities, to include the United States Military Academy (AKA West Point) and Rice University in Texas. But… take a look at Ex, and you’ll quickly notice that she’s never been particularly physically fit or academically gifted. Then you realize that she wouldn’t last five minutes at West Point. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. Likewise, Ex dropped out of high school and got a GED. Bill went to high school with Ex and doesn’t remember her to be an academic superstar. Those types of students– the ones who go to colleges like Rice– don’t usually drop out, especially in the 1980s, before homeschooling was as popular as it is now.

Then I look at other things about Meghan that seem a bit “off”. Like, for instance, the stories about how she treated palace staffers… The awful drama involving Meghan’s father and half siblings from his side of her family, just before she married Harry… The way she and her first husband, actor Trevor Engelson, abruptly split up after just two years. I remember reading about how William was concerned about the speed at which Harry committed to Meghan. William took forever to marry Kate, and their marriage seems pretty solid. But Harry started dating Meghan in 2017, and was married to her in 2018. By 2020, he’d pretty much decided to quit being royal, and he and William, who once enjoyed a close relationship, now seemingly have very strained relations.

Another feature of narcissism is a lovebombing rush, and very quickly “hooking” the victim into permanent commitments like marriage and conception. My husband, for instance, was confronted by his ex wife when she traveled all the way to Germany from Texas with her eldest son in tow. She showed up on his doorstep and gave him a sob story. They very quickly married and, within two months of their wedding, she was pregnant with Bill’s older daughter. I noticed the same pattern when she married #3. Married within two months of Bill telling her he was going to propose to me. Pregnant within four. And… Meghan did have baby Archie less than a year after marrying Harry, although I might cut her some slack on that, since she’s an older woman.

And finally, how does Meghan really feel about Queen Elizabeth II?

Remember, though…. Meghan Markle is an actress. Maybe she’s not the best actress there ever was, but she was trained to convincingly portray someone she’s not. And so, it’s possible that her relationship with Harry is the biggest acting job she’s ever taken on. Or maybe not… but I can understand why people are concerned. At any rate, regardless of whether or not Harry and Meghan are really happy (and if she truly is a narcissist, I would guess not), I do hope that someday, Harry and William can repair their relationship. I think their difficulties are the saddest part of this situation.

Interestingly enough, I don’t see any videos about Donald Trump by the Body Language Guy. If he really knows anything about narcissists, he should be covering the orange turd. But then, maybe Rosas is a Trump fan. Or maybe politics bores him.

Standard
book reviews

Repost: My review of Sarah Tate’s Web of Lies…

I read this book years ago, when we lived in North Caarolina. I thought it was a surprisingly interesting story about a narcissistic relationship, although I think it might have been self-published. It offers a revealing look at the welfare system in Switzerland, of all places! I am reposting it as/is today.

Swept off her feet… right into the Dumpster!

Lately, I’ve been discovering books written by “lesser known” authors on Amazon.com and have ended up finding several good memoirs.  I have a special interest in memoirs about narcissists because my life has been “singed” by my husband’s time with one.  Sarah Tate is a British woman living in Switzerland who spent several years married to a narcissist.  She got out of the relationship, but not without a lot of stress, heartache, and financial ruin.  Tate chronicles her experiences in her book, Web of Lies- My Life with a Narcissist (2011).  

Sarah’s story

In 2001, Sarah Tate was a 30 year old single woman who had just moved to Switzerland for work.  She was excited about the move and her job, which she truly enjoyed.  One day at work, she met Bill, a man in his late 40s who radiated charm and charisma, even though he wasn’t particularly attractive to her.  Bill was balding and somewhat paunchy, but he talked a really good game.  When he asked Sarah out on a date, she accepted.

Bill showered Sarah with attention.  He took her to very expensive restaurants, cooked her lavish meals, bought her gifts, and took her on amazing holidays.  It wasn’t long before Sarah was securely under Bill’s spell and they were talking marriage. 

Sarah was aware that Bill had been married twice before.  With his first wife, he’d had three children who had become somewhat distant from him.  His second wife was a German woman who was supposedly a friend.  Bill explained that he and his second wife, Sofia, had a “business relationship” and had gotten married purely for tax and business reasons.  They’d had no children; in fact, Bill said he wasn’t sure if they’d even consummated the marriage.  Sadly, Bill’s second wife had killed herself, leaving Bill with the failing business.  As Bill told it, Sofia had screwed him over and now he was dealing with the legal and financial aftermath.

Bill impressed Sarah with his stories of being able to command huge sums of money for his work.  He always had big plans that would make him wealthy.  Although some of what he said seemed too good to be true, Sarah pushed those thoughts out of her head.  She was still caught up in the fairytale romance.

In 2002, Sarah and Bill were married in a lavish ceremony in a castle in Yorkshire, England.  Sarah writes that as she was about to walk down the aisle, a little voice in her head warned her to “get out now!”  But she got married anyway, and it wasn’t long at all before she was pregnant.  Wanting to be a stay at home mom, Sarah decided to quit her job rather than just take maternity leave.  Meanwhile, Bill decided he wanted to go into business for himself.  He also quit his job.

It was about at this time that the fairytale romance started to slowly but inexorably turn into a nightmare.  In her very well written and gripping account, Sarah Tate explains what it was like for her to be married to a narcissist.  As the years passed and her three babies were born, Sarah Tate found herself trapped in a web of lies spun by her husband.  He lied about his relationships, financial dealings, legal dealings, and work prospects.  As she was confronted by each falsehood in the form of legal summonses and collections notices, Sarah fell into despair.  As each lie eventually unraveled, Sarah became more and more determined to extricate herself and her children, escaping Bill’s web of lies, once and for all.

My thoughts

I read Web of Lies in one sitting because I had a hard time putting it down.  Though I have been fortunate enough to avoid having an intimate relationship with a narcissist, my husband Bill was married to one for almost ten years.  The aftermath of their marriage has been difficult to overcome and has resulted in some significant financial and personal losses.  Like Sarah, my Bill had a little voice in his head begging him not to go through with the marriage.  Like Sarah, my Bill ignored that little voice to his great detriment. 

Anyone who has been involved with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder will likely recognize themselves in Sarah’s story.  Anyone who has not been involved with a narcissist should count themselves lucky and read this book as a warning.  That old adage about if things seem too good to be true, they probably aren’t, really rings true when you’re dealing with a narcissistic person.  They lie, cheat, and steal, and they have no thought for anyone but themselves.  They think no one else sees how brilliant they are as they try to execute their big plans, then wonder why eventually no one cuts them a break when they ultimately foul things up.  When they get to that point, they have to move to a place where people don’t know them and start over.  Eventually, they aren’t able to fool people anymore.

Overall

I spent about $2 on this book and I think it was worth every penny. Even as I sighed at Sarah’s naivete and moaned as I read about how easily she was swayed by what seemed like Bill’s wealth, I could also see how such a shower of attention and flattery could sway her.  Most people would be overwhelmed by a person who seemed so taken with them and appeared to just want to take care of them, no questions asked.  There are very few people who in the world who are genuinely like that, though, so anyone who is that intent on bowling you over is probably up to no good.  If they are bombarding you with love, gifts, and attention, they are probably trying to blind you from seeing something ugly.

Sadly, Sarah’s three kids have a father who is a narcissist and they will have to live with that legacy.  But at least their mother was able to get out of the marriage and is now rebuilding her life.  As someone who came along post narcissistic relationship, I will tell you that rebuilding is possible, but difficult, and it doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone who loves you… especially if there are children involved.

This book gets five stars from me.

Edited to add: Here’s a very interesting Amazon review… apparently, this woman almost fell for the same guy.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
complaints, musings

Silencing the critics…

Well hello there, folks. It’s another snowy day here in Wiesbaden. This year, we’re getting a lot more white stuff than we have over the past couple of years. Bill and I now live in a town that is kind of in a valley, so when it does snow, it tends to be light and not hang around for long. When we lived in Jettingen, down near Stuttgart, we would get snow that would hang around for weeks, because we were higher in elevation. I kind of miss the deeper snows. Right now, our backyard is positively sodden with mud.

Now, with the obligatory weather discussion done, on with today’s topic. As you know, if you’ve read my stuff often, I often torture myself with comments on Facebook. I also get comments on my blog posts. I do publish the vast majority of non-spam comments I receive, even if they’re critical. I am a believer in people being able to speak up if they feel inclined to voice an opinion. I do not publish comments that are insulting or abusive, unless I’m turning that comment into a rant… which I feel fine with doing when someone is an asshole. Hey– if you don’t want me to rant about you, be very careful what you post.

One thing I’ve noticed a lot of is that people seem to get very upset when someone takes an opposing or unusual view. For instance, a few days ago, I got a comment from a “stranger”– that is, someone who had never commented on my blog before. This person, name of Judy, felt the need to correct my opinion about Skylar Mack’s punishment in the Cayman Islands. Although her comment was written, and therefore didn’t have an audible tone, per se, I could tell that she felt I was wrong and needed to be put in my place. She seemed to think I should be silenced, perhaps.

Frankly, it seemed to me that Judy’s comment probably came more from an emotional reaction than rational thought. Yes, she seemed angry that Skylar Mack had gone to the Cayman Islands and broke quarantine. As an American, maybe she was embarrassed on Skylar’s behalf. Or maybe she was jealous that Skylar got to travel to “paradise”, but then didn’t have enough respect for the rules. Or maybe she was just virtue signaling; that is, showing everyone what a “good and respectful” person she is by siding with the morality police. There’s nothing wrong with being good and respectful, unless, of course, you’re only doing it “for show”.

I wrote back to Judy. My comment was kind of long and involved, and I doubt Judy ever read it, but Skylar Mack’s case is one I’ve thought about a lot. It’s not so much that I think so highly of her or what she did. It’s more because the public response to her case happens to be a recent one that outlines a problem I’ve noticed lately. It seems like people have become more black and white in their thinking. And a lot of people seem to have lost their capacity for forbearance and mercy. We’re all very quick to turn on each other and become completely unreasonable.

I’ve noticed the same thing on other comment sections, especially on Facebook, but also on news sites. Someone will post a comment that isn’t the status quo, and people will just glom on, often with insults or derision. I can understand doing that when someone is obviously being snarky about a serious topic. However, I’ve also seen people do it when a person has obviously put some thought and effort into their comment and hasn’t been rude. If what the person has written doesn’t follow the common thinking on a topic, he or she will get trounced by others.

I wonder where this comes from. Are we all so afraid of other viewpoints that we have to “silence the critics” who dare to think outside of the box or say something that isn’t the party line? And why, if we feel the need to offer a rebuttal, must it so often be done in a disrespectful, derisive way? Why is it necessary to insult people when they disagree? Especially if you don’t even know the person?

I like to read thoughtful comments. Sometimes, people present perspectives I haven’t considered, or they have knowledge that I don’t have. But so often, intelligent comments on Facebook or news sites are diluted by rudeness or insults or outright spam. That makes me wonder if people ever think beyond their own opinions. Are we just interested in being in echo chambers, confident and comforted that we all agree? Or do people like to learn from others?

Of course, sometimes people attack and shame people online because of nefarious reasons. For example, one of the reasons I moved my blog from Blogger is because I had a persistent “stalker” (for lack of a better word) who was monitoring my posts and stirring up trouble with other people. This person also had the nerve to send me private messages and leave comments on my blog, which she later deleted. Her comments were often in support of what I’d written. But then after I responded to her, she’d remove them, because she no doubt was singing a different tune to the other side. I didn’t confront her about the deletions, but I knew something was off about it. Clearly, she was trying to play both sides and remove proof– classic triangulation.

My theory is that she was doing these things, not so much because she truly believed I was wrong and needed to be “set straight”, but more because she knew I was right and was about to bust her for being the dishonest snake she is. I had figured some things out about her and the person with whom she had shared my posts. I had voiced them on my blog. She didn’t want the other side, with whom she was sharing my posts, to see that she had agreed on some level, nor did she want me to jar the other side into thinking differently about her. For some reason, she valued a relationship with the other side, and she didn’t want to be outed for being a liar. Of course, the other side was just as dishonest as she was, and they both had a lot to gain by forcing Bill and me to literally pay for their shady behavior.

I also realized that she and her accomplice had lied to Bill and me. She thought we were suckers, and probably figured she could pressure us into taking the fall for things she did, while maintaining a facade of innocence. So she’d send me these shaming comments and private messages, hoping I’d be scared into silence.

She may not realize, or even care that what she did was very damaging to me on a personal level. It may not seem like it to everyone who reads my blogs, but I’m a very decent and responsible person. I try to be fair and open to different perspectives on most matters. I tend to think long and hard about most of my opinions, although I can’t say that I don’t sometimes “pop off” when I get upset about something. I can and do change my mind when new information is presented, though, and I am willing to apologize when I get something wrong. I was very upset when she made some damning insinuations about my character, especially since she was totally wrong.

Then, after the dust had settled a bit, I started to think more about what had actually happened. I remembered meeting her in person. I remembered her body language and things she and her husband said, as well as the way her accomplices behaved. I started thinking about all of the interactions we’d had online. And then I realized, she obviously thought I was a sucker and was playing the other side, too. She had recognized me as a kind, understanding, conscientious person, and she thought that giving me negative and shaming feedback would scare me into being quiet. I wonder how she feels now, since it was proven that Bill and I were not the ones who were doing things wrong. She’d just wanted to “silence the critics”, so she could get away with being a completely irresponsible creep.

I was initially hurt by her accusations and attacks. Now, I’m left here still feeling angry, but vindicated. Because in the end, she and her toxic buddy were not successful in what they were trying to do. She picked the wrong person to screw with, if only because Bill and I have had years of experience dealing with dishonest, toxic people like her who lie, cheat, and steal. But I won’t say that the experience wasn’t hurtful for us. We lost about two years of our lives to it. And going through an experience like that can make it much harder to be a “truth teller”.

I realize that the last few paragraphs might seem kind of cryptic. You might blame that on what that person did. She spent several years monitoring me from afar, causing trouble behind the scenes, and finally trying very hard to get us to pay for her dishonesty and duplicity. Maybe others have had similar experiences, and that’s why so many of us are so afraid of views that are disagreeable. Maybe it feels “unsafe” to disagree.

So, when someone posts a comment that is, for example, not 100% in favor of wearing face masks until death, lots of people will feel free to pile on. And they disagree by being insulting, rude, or just flat out disagreeing with no attempt to even consider why the other person came up with a different perspective. If you’re strongly in favor of the status quo, people are less likely to attack you. Right now, face masks are many people’s panacea against COVID-19. If you’re not 100% for them, you must be part of the problem AND you must also support Trumpism. But that’s not really true, is it? Could there be more to that issue than just black or white? I think so.

It doesn’t seem to occur to some people that you can have a respectful and thoughtful discussion with another person. Maybe you won’t change the other person’s mind, but you will have offered some food for thought. I like those kinds of discussions. I’d like to have more of them, especially with thoughtful people who can talk about things without trying to silence the critics..

Standard