condescending twatbags, mental health, overly helpful people, poor judgment

You just used that word… and I don’t think you know what it means.

A couple of days ago, I was feeling a bit angry and depressed. I was sitting here alone, reading the local news, and there was an item about Angela Merkel’s latest desires. Mrs. Merkel wants to allow the federal government in Germany to employ an “emergency brake” lockdown for all of Germany. Normally, each individual state’s leaders make decisions for how things run. But because vaccination rollout has been excruciatingly slow here, and people are continuing to get COVID-19 and overrunning the hospitals, Mrs. Merkel and some of the public health leaders in Germany feel that this is a necessary move.

Germany has been in some form of “lockdown” since early November 2020. Apparently, closing everything and trying to restrict people from being in contact with each other has not been effective in slowing down the latest COVID-19 variants. Neither has forcing everyone to wear medical grade face masks. So, as each month passes, the end of the lockdown keeps getting extended. At this point, the estimate is mid June when we can have some semblance of normalcy.

Meanwhile, I watch as my friends back home are getting vaccinated and enjoying a more “normal” life. Actually, I think things have been relatively normal in the United States since the beginning. It’s just that Americans aren’t being allowed to come to Europe willy nilly, and vice versa. I still think Germany has handled the virus a lot better than the USA has… but the incredibly slow vaccine rollout is quite disastrous. Making matters worse is the fact that Bill and I were supposed to be getting our shots by the end of May. A large shipment was sent to German military installations for that purpose. But apparently, they’re Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and the CDC has just recommended holding off on using them until they can be investigated, since several women developed rare clotting disorders after being given the shot.

I was already in a crappy mood for a lot of reasons. The main one is that Bill is gone this week and will be gone for more than half of May on business. He hasn’t been vaccinated, yet he’s allowed to travel for work purposes while I sit here alone with my thumb up my butt– not literally, you understand. And I’m also pissed off because of some recent upsetting news we got regarding a close family member. Bill and I had a private chat about those matters. I finally had to ring off, because I was tired and in a really foul mood, and I didn’t want to talk anymore.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, I got a private message from another family member. This family member is a bit older than I am, and never seems to want to let me forget it. She also seems to assume being older means always being wiser. In her case, I don’t think it does.

Private messages are annoying under most circumstances, but since it was family, I indulged my relative. I was pretty upset after having read the news about the longer lockdown, Bill’s work schedule, and the news about our family member. She wanted to know why I was so irritated, so I explained. As usual, this particular family member starting giving me unsolicited advice, forgetting a number of things… like the fact that before too much longer, I’ll be pushing 50, and I’ve actually had some training in counseling and related subjects.

She immediately started telling me what she thinks I should be doing, even though I never asked for her opinion and was really more wanting to vent than seek advice. I really would like to have someone to talk to… someone who sees me as an equal and is willing to listen, rather than just offer unsolicited suggestions. She doesn’t seem to realize that most competent people don’t want advice or suggestions; they want insight and support.

On that night, I needed a friend, not a pseudo-therapist… especially not one who seems to think I’m naive and incompetent. I know I’ll always be a “squirt” to her, but I really am a grown adult, and I eventually assured her that I AM pretty competent in most things. I’m just fed up, most of all with this fucking COVID-19 lifestyle and Bill’s constant work schedule, as well as the fact that HE can travel for marathon work trips, but we can’t have any fun. It’s making life a colossal bore, and a drag, and I’m starting to hate being here… and my life in general.

Yeah, I know that sounds a lot like pathetic whining. Maybe, to some people, that’s what it is… After all, the bills are paid; we live in a comfortable house; and for now, we have our health. But being locked down, thousands of miles from home, sucks. Telling someone who is feeling upset to “buck up” or “calm down” is not really the best solution.

My situation doesn’t call for “toxic positivity” or invalidation, nor do I need an overly helpful person to suggest that I do things I’m already doing… like creative pursuits. My relative told me to take an online guitar course. Does she honestly think I’d be dumb enough to buy a guitar and not learn how to play it somehow? It’s like the morons who tell an infertile couple to consider adoption… as if that idea had never crossed their minds! And does she really think, as someone with advanced degrees in social work and public health, I need someone to tell me about narcissists and empaths? That would be like me telling her about her chosen field… which I will admit I know nothing about.

So anyway, all of this was the usual par for the course bullshit, when my relative dropped a bombshell. She’s been reading up on narcissists and narcissism, apparently not understanding that she’s a touch on the narcissistic side herself. She was telling me the usual spiel about narcissists, as if I had never read a single book or watched a single video about narcissism, let alone had many personal dealings with them. And then she said, “I really think you and I are empaths.

Well… I had to stifle a giggle at that. I wanted to respond truthfully, by saying “You just used that word… and I don’t think you know what it means.” Seriously. I love this relative very much… but I don’t think she has much insight into what an empath is. I also don’t think she has much personal insight as to what kind of person she is.

I think I am capable of empathy. I can definitely try to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I try very hard to see all sides of a situation. But I am definitely NOT an empath… and she is even less empathic than I am. How do I know this? Because I have been on the receiving end of MANY tirades from this particular relative. I’ve known her my whole life, and I’ve seen her lose her shit many times. One time, we were in a city park in Madrid and she got very angry with me for taking too long to find a newspaper. She’d had to pee, and didn’t speak Spanish. Silly me… I though at her age and with her world experience, she would be able to handle going to the potty by herself. But no… and she totally went off on me and called me a “motherfucker”. That is NOT the behavior of an empath.

This relative also has a habit of “glomming on” without much situational awareness… and will ask favors, yet show very little consideration. Like, for instance, the time Bill and I had dinner reservations for my birthday, and she asked me to drive her to a doctor’s appointment because she was going to be on Valium. I told her about the dinner reservations, but she assured me she’d be done in time. On the way home, she wanted to stop at a restaurant for dessert. I was worried about the time, but she promised she’d get the dessert to go. Next thing I knew, we were sitting in a booth. That is NOT the behavior of an empath.

She can be very manipulative and will throw epic temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. I’ve witnessed her being rude to wait staff and store clerks, as well as men who try to be overly friendly to her in bars. And she’s also been rude to me on many occasions. When we were a lot younger, she was occasionally legitimately abusive to me. I remember being verbally and physically abused by her, before I got big enough to fight back. She is capable of being an extreme bitch when the situation calls for it. There have been times when I’ve marveled at her ability to be a bitch… and, I must admit, even admired it. She’s not one to be fucked with by anyone.

On the other hand, she’s a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor. She’s also very smart and talented. She can be contrite and sympathetic, when the mood suits. When she’s in a good mood, she’s a delight and HILARIOUS. I do love her. But an empath, she is most definitely NOT.

However, in fairness, like I said, I’m not an empath, either. And that is not a bad thing. Empaths can often end up being taken advantage of by self-centered types. I do have a big heart and am fully capable of being empathetic to people. But that does not make me an empath. That’s a good thing, though, because Bill IS an empath. I think it would be disastrous if both of us were empaths. My being less empathic is good, because it balances out his tendency to be overly forgiving and kind.

I wanted to correct my relative’s thinking, but realized that if I did, it would probably lead to an argument. She thinks she’s an empath, though, and she’s wrong. And if she really thinks she’s the type of person who is constantly thinking of others and putting their welfare before her own, she’s also a bit delusional. She is definitely not one to take on other people’s problems. I have never seen her cry over someone else’s misfortunes. If anything, I think she’s on the other side of the narcissism spectrum. One time, I described a traumatic incident she and I had to my former therapist. He actually used the term “narcissistic” to define the behavior she had displayed to me.

Truly empathic people are unique and somewhat rare. My husband is an empath, and he attracts narcissistic assholes like his ex wife and his war time boss like flies on shit. These folks can smell it on people– those who will put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. Bill will bend over backwards for almost anyone, is very slow to anger, quick to forgive, and has a “red line” that is way further down the line than mine is. He is genuinely a kind and compassionate person who almost never raises his voice and feels extreme remorse whenever he hurts anyone, even if just by accident.

Neither my relative, nor I, are like that. I will fully admit that I don’t have much regard for people who are disrespectful to me. I don’t go out of my way to be nasty, but I don’t have tons of sympathy.

I think Bill comes by empathy naturally. Both of his parents and, I suspect, his daughters are also very empathic people. They want to please others and they have overdeveloped superegos and guilt complexes. That’s why Ex runs roughshod over them so easily. Bill fully admits to this, too. It’s not that he’s spineless. It’s just that he hates to disappoint people, wants to make them happy, and genuinely feels for people. But he’s come a long way in his people pleasing ways and has become more assertive, which is something empaths must learn to do or be sucked dry.

My relative has no problem telling people off, taking legal action, or making people feel shitty. I know this, because she’s done a lot of those things to me. I haven’t been sued by her– at least not at this point– but I wouldn’t put it past her if she felt it was necessary. That is not the action of an empath!

I do think I am more empathic than she is, though… and although I could have told her to STFU the other night, I indulged her need to advise me on what she thinks I need to do. And last night, when Bill messaged me, I told him about it and we had a good laugh. Because he also knows that she’s not an empath. And he has frequently told me that he’s glad he married me instead of her… although I think it would have been funny to see how this relative would deal with his Ex, former tenant, or the land bitch from Hell. 😀 My guess is that she would not have handled any of them with much empathy.

Anyway… I wish she’d have a little more empathy for me and stop trying to give me unwanted advice. I’m not 12 anymore. And I wish Mrs. Merkel and her minions would get their acts together so we can all have our lives back.

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Bill, musings

One night down…

I can’t think of anything earth shattering to write about this morning. I guess the one thing I can say is that I survived the first night of the first TDY in a year. This isn’t anything new for me. Over the past 18 years, I’ve spent a lot of nights alone. Bill has always had to travel for his job. This particular TDY is longer than most, though. He wont’ be back home until March is more than halfway done.

I think we’re both getting tired of these kinds of trips. I was very fortunate as an Army wife, though, since Bill’s one deployment was for just six months. Granted, he spent those six months with a narcissistic jerk of a boss who made his life a living hell, but he made it home in one piece and, more or less, mentally sound. Having grown up with a father who was tormented by PTSD after the Vietnam War, I am very grateful Bill isn’t similarly afflicted.

I probably wouldn’t be so bitchy about it this year if we hadn’t spent the last several months locked down. In previous years, we’ve been able to go on vacations or even just out to eat. Or we could plan something for the future. The current lockdown is set to expire on March 7, but Angela Merkel is talking about extending it even longer. People are getting PISSED, too. Businesses are suffering, and some are wondering how they will be able to keep afloat. Germans are generally very law abiding and cooperative, but even they have their limits.

Bill was allowed to travel because he’s on business. No doubt, the people who run the little hotel where he’s staying are happy for three weeks of revenue. However, Bill did tell me that last night, he had to wait for the proprietor to arrive and unlock the hotel. When Bill put on a mask, the guy shook his said it was “okay” because he’s already had COVID-19. Um… I’m not so sure that means he’s not still at risk. I did have a chuckle, though, since it just goes to show that even the notoriously anal retentive law abiders of Deutschland will still bend the rules sometimes.

Vaccine roll out has been extremely slow here, too. This is a rare time when I’m kind of glad to be American, because Bill and I will probably be able to get vaccinated sooner on post than we could on the economy. Bill has already told me he will be dragging me by the hair to get my shot… not that I would refuse it. One positive thing I got from being in the Peace Corps is that I don’t get too upset by needles, as long as no one tries to dig for a vein. I’m usually fine with shots.

Last night, I watched a live stream of Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett. I’m a big fan of both of these guys. I saw Vince play with the Eagles in 2019, and Lyle played Stuttgart in 2009 and we attended that show. It was a great show. Both Lyle and Vince were so normal and it was obvious to me that they’ve been friends a long time. I enjoyed the stories they shared and the songs, some of which were ones I hadn’t heard. Vince did one song that was a tribute to John Prine. I loved it. I don’t think he’s released it yet, but it was very witty and kind of poignant… the perfect tribute, really. John Prine was such a gifted songwriter.

I don’t play with quite this much style yet, but I’m getting better by the week.

What was especially cool, though, was the effect watching had on me. At the end of the streaming session, they played “If I Needed You” by Townes Van Zandt. Next thing I knew, I grabbed my guitar and joined them. I went to Chordify, figured out the easiest way to play (using a capo on the 6th or 8th frets), and played along. I did well enough that I might be ready to record it sometime soon. Maybe that will be my goal before Bill comes home next month. That, and finishing reading my latest book. It’s time for a fresh review.

Bill was sad to leave yesterday. I think Arran knew he was going. I got a few photos of them before Bill had to go. Yes, there were tears. Bill made me lunch before he went and had a few tears in his eyes before he kissed me goodbye. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a kind and loving man for my husband and life partner. But you can see why I really miss him when he’s not here. He’s the best. Arran sure loves him. Noyzi is slowly coming around.

I did tell Bill I hope he’ll do what he can to bolster his cybersecurity skills. He earned a second master’s degree in cybersecurity a few years ago, but he hasn’t had a chance to put it to use. It’s a hot field, and perhaps working in cybersecurity might help curb the lengthy separations that exercise planning requires. Granted, he’s in a niche field now, and has good job security, but there’s more to life than money. After 18 years of this, I think we’re both a bit tired.

Edited to add… I was inspired to make a video.

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law, musings, psychology

I don’t think curfews are the best idea…

Even though I never left the house yesterday, it turned out to be a somewhat action packed day. Bill bought himself a butterscotch yellow Fender Telecaster electric guitar. I was kind of active on social media, even wishing for marijuana at one point. To be truthful, I have only had exposure to cannabis for recreational purposes a few times. My first time getting stoned occurred on my 43rd birthday, when we visited Haarlem, a town close to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. I tried it a couple more times before we came back to Germany. I enjoyed the experience, and since COVID-19 is a stressful thing, I think I would enjoy having some pot again right now. But I don’t want it badly enough to go looking for it.

Then I read an article in The New York Times about the curfews that are being imposed in different cities around the world. After reading the article, I determined that I don’t think the curfews are a good idea. I’ll get to why in just a moment. First, as you must have already guessed, I read the comments. I noticed many people commenting probably didn’t bother reading the article. That’s not surprising, since after a few freebies per month, The New York Times puts up a paywall. Most people don’t seem to think that journalists should be paid for their work, so they refuse to pay for a subscription. But they still read the headlines and opine, and sometimes they make uninformed comments.

I responded to one person’s comment. What I wrote wasn’t stupid, derisive, or disrespectful. But then some yahoo comes along and laughs at me, then writes, “C’mon dude. That’s your rationale?” Then he wrote more to someone else, indicating that they should be grateful for curfews and lockdowns, since that will “fix” the COVID-19 situation.

My response to the random yahoo was that, actually, my comment came from content in the article. I asked him if he’d read it. Then I commented that I’m not a “dude”. About twenty minutes later, I found myself inexplicably pissed off… and before anyone decides to tell me I’m too sensitive, I know I should ignore the comments. But I’ve been pent up for weeks now. Germany has had a “lite lockdown” going on since November, and things have been significantly stricter recently. It’s wearing on my nerves. And sometimes, I just feel the need to lash out a bit. I try to keep my lashing out to my blog, which most people only read if they’re actually interested, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Anyway, against my better judgment, I followed up my comment with another asking the random yahoo why he feels it’s necessary to laugh at comments from people he doesn’t even know. Granted, a lot of people went to the “Google School of Public Health” and pop off their theories based on what they’ve read in the news and their own opinions. It’s always funny to me when someone asks a stranger for their credentials in a comment section, asking where they got their MD or PhD in epidemiology. How do they know the person they’re demanding credentials from isn’t actually qualified?

In my case, I legitimately do have a master’s degree in public health. I did not concentrate in epidemiology; my focus was health administration and policy. But I did used to work as a graduate assistant for the Bureau of Epidemiology in South Carolina. In that job, I did learn a thing or two about disease tracking and transmission. I also took courses in epidemiology and health promotion.

I also have a master’s degree in macro social work, so I know something about social problems, community development, and crisis intervention. I earned both degrees in 2002. They were awarded by fully accredited programs at the University of South Carolina. As I was reading the article about the curfews, it occurred to me that if I had actually pursued the path I was on when I met Bill, this COVID-19 situation could be a treasure trove of relevant work for someone like me. The average person doesn’t know this about me, though. I’m just a “dude” who posts something they think is “stupid”.

So why do I think the curfews are kind of a bad idea? For one thing, it’s because the COVID-19 virus spreads more when people are indoors. And the virus doesn’t care if you are indoors with your family. If one of them picks up the virus while out and about and brings it home, chances are good that everyone in the house is going to get sick. For more on that reality, here’s another New York Times article about a family in Los Angeles who share a tiny one bedroom apartment. Grandma got sick first, so she locked herself in the one bedroom, while everybody else slept in the living room. Sure enough, they all got sick too. Most people aren’t going to practice social distancing and masking in their own homes. If we’re lucky, they’re washing their hands, but that’s not a given, either.

Of course, if someone does get COVID-19, it makes sense for people to quarantine at home. But it’s a lot easier to social distance when people have the freedom to go outside, which is a lot bigger than inside spaces are. And since businesses are closed down in a lot of places anyway, particularly in places where there’s a curfew, it’s not like most people are congregating at a dance club or a bar. Why shouldn’t people be allowed to take a walk or a drive if they need to, even if it’s after 6pm? The curfew article cited one case of a woman walking her boyfriend, doggy style, and complete with a leash, with him on all fours, in Sherbrooke, a city in Quebec. Yes, they were stopped by the police and fined about $3100, which is absolutely insane. It would have been okay for her to walk a real dog, but not her boyfriend, who is much less likely to take a dump on the sidewalk. I think $3100 is an excessive fine, too, particularly when so many people can’t work.

Another reason I don’t think curfews are a good idea is because people who are locked down are more likely to be bored, depressed, drunk, or high on something. People don’t like being told what to do, even if it’s for their own good. But forcing people to adhere to a curfew could deprive them of the ability to get out of the house when someone becomes abusive. Even people who get along well might have trouble dealing with being stuck in the same house with someone for weeks on end. Imagine dealing with a violent drunk or someone who has an anger issue. An incident that might have resulted in a tongue lashing under normal circumstances might turn into something more violent or even deadly under the stress of a curfew.

Many people get frustrated and angry when they are confined, and they might turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve the stress, which will likely only make things worse. Yes, the argument could be made that leaving the house for one’s own personal safety could be considered an “essential reason”. But people who are stuck in abusive situations may still find it more difficult to leave under curfew conditions, even if they’re being threatened.

And finally, I think a lot of people already distrust the government. People are highly pissed off at government officials of all stripes. I have been reading about how public health officials, who normally don’t get too much hatred lobbed at them under regular circumstances, are being vilified in their communities. Some of them have been threatened with bodily harm or even death. Curfews make sense in situations where there’s rioting and civil unrest. But most people would prefer to be allowed to live as they see fit. Being forced inside for their “own good” may inflame people who are already highly pissed off and uncooperative. That could lead to hidden abuse behind closed doors, or it could lead to uprisings that land a lot of people in legal trouble or hospitals. And jailhouses and hospitals are not good places to be, particularly during a pandemic.

Personally, I haven’t had a problem staying home. Bill and I get along very well. He doesn’t have a violent bone in his body, despite his long military career. We have a fenced in backyard, two balconies, and plenty of space. If either of us got sick, it would not be a problem for one of us to move into the guest room in the basement. Bill can work at home as much as he needs to, and he makes enough money that we don’t have to worry about expenses… at least for now. But I’d venture to guess that most people aren’t as fortunate as we are, and this situation is causing real hardships for many people.

I imagine how I’d feel being forced into a curfew with my family of origin. My father was an alcoholic with PTSD who lashed out when he was under too much stress. When he was alive and we still lived together, we fought a lot. There were times when he occasionally got violent. I sure wouldn’t want to have to be locked down with him, if only because we didn’t always get along under normal circumstances. He could be a control freak, which didn’t sit well with my admittedly occasionally difficult personality.

There are people out there with even worse problems than alcoholism. I worry for those who are in those situations, particularly if there are children involved. People wonder how long they’re going to be expected to adhere to these oppressive new rules. I know I’ve been wondering. Sometimes, it makes me very depressed to think about it… enough that I wonder if I’d rather just find a way to check out early. I mean, Bill would miss me and so would the dogs, but I don’t have any children or a job, and plenty of people think I’m an asshole and laugh at me, or block me for reasons unknown. I’ve got to die someday, and this lifestyle genuinely sucks. I don’t know how long it will go on and what it will mean for the future. The present is already pretty shitty. Why stick around for what’s coming next?

You see? I have a pretty easy time of it, but even someone like me can easily fall into a pit of hopelessness and despair. I think about people who are dealing with joblessness, homelessness, drug and alcohol addictions, mood disorders, menopausal rage, and any of the other issues that have people on edge right now. And I think limiting a person’s liberties can cause a lot of unintended consequences. I base those concerns on my own experiences and the knowledge I’ve gained actually studying these issues. There hasn’t been a lot of research done about this specific topic because this is the first worldwide pandemic we’ve had in 100 years. Maybe that’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic. This is a perfect opportunity for some enterprising healthcare professional to do some research that will help the next time this happens. Hopefully, I will be long dead by that time.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for this snowy Sunday, which didn’t produce enough snow for the outside to be a winter wonderland, but has made the backyard more of a depressing morass of mud and soft dog crap. Tomorrow, Bill will take Arran in to have his tumor excised. Hopefully, it will go well and he’ll be okay.

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politics

We won’t get screwed again…

Okay… this song is “Won’t Get Fooled Again”… but the sentiment is the same.

As the last days until the election loom ahead, I’m feeling kind of hopeful. I feel this way, even though Germany has now ordered a new partial lockdown for the next month. Supposedly, this is being done to “save” Christmas. Christmas is a big deal in Deutschland. Unfortunately, this year most of the markets have been cancelled. Or, at least I haven’t heard of any going on.

The news of the partial lockdown means that our 18th wedding anniversary will not be spent in a hotel. Hotels and restaurants will be closed to anyone traveling for leisure purposes. Shops, schools, and churches will remain open, but no one can get their nails done. I guess I’ll have to clip Bill’s hair for him again. Good thing I got plenty of practice over the spring. He’ll be teleworking again, too.

All in all, I can’t complain too much. I don’t mind being locked down with Bill. At least we like being together. Thank God we managed to get down to Slovenia to get Noyzi, too. He’s a welcome addition to our home. Every day, I get to see his progress. He’s not the same dog he was on October 4th, when we picked him up in Kranjska Gora. He can now walk on the leash like a gentleman (most of the time, anyway). He does his business outside and often sits on command. He’s learned that the leash and harness aren’t torture devices, and he even had his very first bath in his whole life. He’s still a bit scared of Bill, but he’s getting better.

This is the truth!

I don’t know what the results of the election will be, but I did my part. Weeks ago, Bill and I both sent in straight blue tickets for Democrats. I’ve gotten some shitty comments from infantile men who are angry about my choices. I’ve gladly advised them to go fuck themselves. It’s been a lot of fun. Maybe Trump will win again, but I have hope that he won’t. I don’t love everything about Biden, but I think he’s got to be a better leader than Trump is. So I have hope that he will win…

I have to admit that I really enjoyed this op-ed in The Washington Post. Political analyst Philip Bump introduced me to the term “Trumpsplained”. Bump made me laugh as he wrote about how Trump hopes to appeal to suburban White women by telling them that he’s going to get their husbands back to work. Trump obviously isn’t living in the real world. He thinks it’s the 1950s. It’s been entertaining, infuriating, and downright scary to watch Trump’s increasing desperation to appeal to people he so obviously disdains. Some people still support him as rabidly as ever, but a whole lot of people are jumping ship.

And finally, it looks like a big pain in the ass that we have been dealing with for about two years is about to be resolved at long last. Justice was done. We learned a lot of valuable lessons. And now it looks like we will be able to close the book on this chapter very soon.

So I’m feeling alright today… hopeful for the future. Even if “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a cynical song, the energy of it resonates with me today, even though it’s Thursday and that is when I do my least favorite chore. Got to get the vacuum cleaner out and suck up all the dog hair on the rugs…

And since we can’t go somewhere for our anniversary, maybe I’ll spend some money on something frivolous, like a lightweight cordless vacuum that I don’t have to haul up and down the steps. Or maybe I’ll buy an electric guitar. Or two… Why not? Since we’re going to be locked down, I’ll have more time to become a better guitar player. So will Bill.

Maybe I’ll even learn to play this on guitar.
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Ex, narcissists

What if Bill were locked down with Ex?

The other day, Bill shared on Facebook what is today’s featured photo. The past few weeks have been very weird. Bill and I have been spending a lot of time at home together, as he works from home, and we’re not really able to go out and do stuff like we would ordinarily. Fortunately, we really get along. It’s been a pleasure to hang out with Bill every day since mid March. Neither of us are narcissists. That’s why this situation works out so well for us. It would not be like that if Bill were still with his first wife.

This morning, I listened to Jess Stanley’s latest video, “What Are Narcissists Doing in Lockdown? What Should YOU Be Doing?” For many reasons, I’m pretty certain Bill’s ex wife is a narcissist. I could present a list of reasons why I think she is a narcissist. It starts with her insistence on treating human beings like coveted objects who can be weaponized and ends with her dogged determination to be “right” at all costs, even at the point of cutting off her nose to spite her own face. Ex is a tyrant, and she will go to incredible lengths to maintain control of anyone unlucky enough to be in her sphere. It makes me sad, because unfortunately, good people are attracted to her. And she has a knack for trapping them in misery until they finally have to be “mean” and break away from her. She punishes anyone who leaves her sphere by turning others against them, spreading lies, and even coming up with elaborate schemes that could get people hurt or even potentially killed.

Jess Stanley’s latest video. She’s got a great channel about narcissists. I highly recommend it.

Seriously… those who have read my earlier posts about Ex might recall some of the crazy stories. She even got her eldest son back in touch with his bio dad (her first ex husband) because I pointed out to her in an email that she cuts her children off from their fathers every time she divorces. She claimed her first ex was a dangerous psycho (he wasn’t and isn’t), but just because I pointed out the obvious to her, it was okay for her to get her son back in touch with his dad (he never should have been separated from his dad in the first place). I’m sure that if #3 ever does anything egregiously insulting to her ego, she’ll do similarly desperate things to show him the error of his ways, even if it’s ultimately damaging and stupid and causes irreparable harm to her or her “loved ones”. I put loved ones in quotes, because I don’t think she is capable of what we think of as love. To her, “loved ones” are possessions.

So… this morning over breakfast, I asked Bill what he thought it would be like to be locked down in quarantine with his ex wife. He shook his head and said, “Oh, she’d probably come up with some stupid idea or big plan that would cost money but never come to fruition.” Then, as he sat down with his bacon and eggs, he said, “Or she’d sit there and complain non-stop about not being able to go out, whining about how the government is oppressing her.”

Ex has a habit of getting big ideas and putting them into motion. But she isn’t very good at planning things, so her ideas would often fall apart or be overcome by events. She was big on multi-level marketing schemes. When she put her mind to making them work, she was sometimes successful. But then she’d get bored or attracted to something else, and the whole thing would fall by the wayside, even after they’d spent thousands of dollars. Bill said they lost a lot of money when Ex sold Mary Kay cosmetics and then decided she didn’t want to anymore because it was oppressive to women, convincing them that they needed makeup. Ditto when she decided to try Nutrisystem and then gave it up after she concluded that the weight loss plan was all about forcing women to look a certain way. My guess is that these things were just harder than she’d planned or she got bored.

When Bill and his ex wife were on the verge of splitting, Bill would occasionally go on TDY trips. TDY, for those who don’t know, means “temporary duty yonder”. It’s basically a business trip. It can last days, weeks, or even months. Bill does them now, even though he’s retired from the Army, and he doesn’t enjoy them much unless I go with him. It basically means he does his work, eats alone or with co-workers, and goes to bed. But, when he was married to his ex wife, he enjoyed TDYs because it meant he’d have peace and quiet. He’d have extra money that she couldn’t squander. He didn’t have to worry about who he might be coming home to in the evenings. He really never knew what her mood would be. She might be in an okay mood and things would be alright. Or she’d be enraged about something. Or she would become enraged over some perceived, mysterious slight after Bill got home, and then he’d have to deal with the fallout of that.

Conversely, Bill and I get along great and enjoy a lot of the same activities. We have similarly eclectic tastes in music. We like similar movies and TV shows… or, maybe he is just very willing to let me watch what I want. That’s probably closer to the truth. We both like drinking wine and beer and eating good food. Ex doesn’t drink alcohol and eats a lot of crap from boxes. She’s not interested in culture, history, literature, or fine arts. She likes country pop, Disney, and hoarding things.

I respect Bill’s work. He respects mine. I give him peace and quiet during his work time so he can get things done and attend virtual meetings. He lets me write in peace and gives me privacy when I record music, although I don’t do much recording when he’s home. I’m too self-conscious. We eat meals together, happily, and when he’s done working, we hang out and listen to music. That makes being “socially isolated” easier to bear.

But if Bill was still with Ex, I have a feeling she would go out of her way to screw with Bill’s livelihood. Why? Because that’s what she did when they were married. Ex was jealous that Bill had a college degree and made all the money. So she would try to sabotage his work by not coming home in time for him to go to work. He’d be there with the kids, waiting for her to get home from her job or hanging out with friends. She’d often show up late, making him late for work. She’d deliberately do things that would threaten his work, even though she depended on his ability to make money. Then, when something bad would happen at work because he was late, she’d berate him for that, too.

I imagine if he’d had to telework with Ex around, she’d be doing the same kinds of stuff. She’d do passive aggressive things to make it impossible for Bill to be productive. Or she would allow the kids to make a lot of noise or bother Bill while he was working, chatting with colleagues, or engaged in virtual meetings. If he protested, she’d accuse him of being selfish or tyrrannical.

When Bill saw his daughter in March, they compared their experiences living with Ex and commiserated. It turns out that for all of her worry about Bill “taking the kids” from her and/or winning them over to his side, they pretty much figured things out for themselves and went that way naturally. And when they were able to, they split. Well… except for Bill’s older daughter, who has apparently been convinced that she can’t be on her own. She’ll be 29 this year, and Ex has threatened to throw her out of the house on more than one occasion. But she stays there anyway and takes care of Ex’s youngest child, a boy with severe autism who will probably never be able to live on his own.

Once her children get older and more independent, Ex treats them as badly as she does her spouses. Bill’s daughter spoke of being browbeaten into doing what her mother wanted, even when she knew it was wrong. It was simply easier to do what Ex said than try to fight back. It was much less trouble to give in to cognitive dissonance than do the right thing. When younger daughter finally decided she wanted to leave home and go to college, Ex did all she could to get her to change her mind, including overdosing on pills. And when younger daughter fell in love with a guy from Utah, Ex was against it. Utah is not near New Hampshire, so a marriage would mean her daughter would leave her sphere of influence and, likely, much better self-esteem and mental health. Sure enough, that is what came to pass. Getting away from the toxic fumes of narcissism was a real mental enema for younger daughter, as it also was for Bill.

I think about Ex awarding herself sole custody of the children and all but $600 of Bill’s salary when they first split up. Today, he probably would not have let her do that. He would have insisted on shared custody, and he would not have given her money for her eldest child, who wasn’t his kid and should have had contact with his dad… who should have also been paying child support. He would not have given Ex $2550 a month for years. He had the power to say no, even then. But Ex had convinced him that her word was law and there would be hell to pay if he didn’t conform to her wishes.

Another good video. I like his British accent.

We had started talking about being locked down with Ex… and I would imagine that the situation the world is in right now would have been unimaginably hellish for Bill when he was married to her. It was initially kind of a funny topic, but then it got pretty serious. Ex, and people like her, depend on people to do exactly what they want them to do. They get ugly in order to get their way. They rely on people who don’t want to make a scene and want to be seen as cooperative. Somehow, they convince people that they must do what they want. I’m sure when I said “no” to her demand that I spend Christmas with her in my in-laws’ house, it was a terrible shock. But she wisely realized that I wasn’t going to be her puppet. So then she started punishing the children for that, too. It would be easy for me to blame myself for what Ex chose to do. That’s what she relies on people to do. But this is all on Ex, who must be in control at all times.

You know who else I think would be hell to quarantine with? The Duggar parents. Yesterday, I read a story about how Ma and Pa Duggar monitor their children’s Internet usage, even the children who are legal adults. They put apps on the computers and phones that show every Web site the children access. And– they claim the adult children welcome this! She says they encourage the kids to come to them to talk whenever they have a “bad thought”. What’s a “bad thought”? Is that when teenaged Michelle mows the lawn in her bikini and the neighbor blows a huge load? As bad as Ex is, I think Jim Boob Duggar would be even worse. Imagine it… being trapped in a house listening to Michelle’s baby voice, not able to drink or watch porn. I think it would really suck.

I bet the Duggars don’t read this book… and I’d rather not think about Michelle’s beaver. Watch this for a good laugh.

Bottom line… it would not be fun to have to stay locked down with a narcissist. They are very controlling people and they manufacture drama under the best of conditions. I am grateful that Bill and I get along and that neither of us are narcissists. Otherwise, the COVID-19 crisis would be even worse that it is. I’m also grateful that unlike Ex, Bill doesn’t have any firearms in the house.

I don’t have any love for #3, but I don’t envy him right now. He’s already reportedly in poor health. I hope he can survive being locked down with Ex. She might just drive him out of the house with her batshit bullshit.

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