Military, narcissists, politics, Trump

Losers and suckers…

We know there’s a telephone… of course Trump said those things about wounded and killed veterans.

Phew… sorry about all of the reposts today. Bill and I were sitting outside on the patio last night. Somehow, we ended up talking about the incident that occurred in the “It’s graduation season” post I reposted today. Much to my surprise, as we were talking about that, I actually got a little emotional. I told Bill that I had felt betrayed when he was trying to “make nice” with my parents. It was yet another incidence of sweeping shit under the rug. Certain people have done this my whole life, leaving me to take the blame for almost every bad situation. I understood why Bill didn’t want to defend me more vigorously at the time, but it really did feel like I got dumped on yet again– even though I was doing my sister and my parents a favor. But then, as I have learned, sometimes sweeping stuff under the rug the best thing to do.

Like, for instance, when I got angry with another sister for sending me a picture of my dad on his death bed, I wanted to tell her off. But it wasn’t the right time to do that because it would have made a bad situation worse. The incident that prompted the “It’s graduation season” post involved several innocent people, and my telling off my dad or that rude woman who prompted my public humiliation would not have made a positive difference. It was my sister’s graduation day and we couldn’t easily leave, so it was more effective to just be a little passive aggressive and run up a big restaurant bill instead. Maybe no one “learned anything” (not that I expected them to), but I felt better– even if talking about that situation still riles me up a bit. I also learned that it pays to always have your own transportation so you can escape if things get bad.

So now, it’s time to move on to another topic. Thanks to Donald Trump’s daily circus, there’s no shortage of things to write about. And today, I’m going to address the article in The Atlantic (of which I am a paid subscriber) that made huge waves yesterday. The article to which I am referring is entitled, “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’”.

Lots of people who were sharing this piece yesterday seemed surprised by it. I, for one, am not at all surprised. I completely believe the claims that Trump called American war casualties “losers” and “suckers”. I’m surprised that this is being called “fake news” by anyone, including Trump himself. Donald Trump has never made a secret of his disdain for people he deems deficient in some way. And someone who dies in war– something that he probably sees as nothing but a game– is, in his view, a “loser”. He doesn’t have any empathy, and probably doesn’t see the servicemembers who die as anything more than toy soldiers– as meaningless as an Asteroid in a video game.

I have yet to see Donald Trump express any real empathy for anyone. Instead, he wishes people like Ghislaine Maxwell well, as he shits on people who tried to be loyal to him and believed in him. I’m sure there is a long list of people who made the mistake of falling for Trump’s bullshit and lived to regret it. He is a narcissist, and as such, he lives in his own little fucked up fantasy world where he can’t be held accountable for anything. People who have never had a close encounter with a narcissist don’t understand that these folks are emotionally stunted as if they were still toddlers. You can throw the proof of their bullshit in their faces, but they will still stubbornly deny it.

Think about this, though. Donald Trump was recorded speaking “in private” about his approach to women. He uses the most vulgar terms to describe his relentless pursuit of a woman he knew full well was married and likely uninterested in him. This recording was made public in October 2016. In my opinion, it should have knocked him out of contention for office. He basically admits that he sexually assaults women.

Here he is, “privately” admitting what a creep he is.

But when this was made public, Trump downplayed its significance. He dismissed it as “locker room” talk, even though he plainly and proudly said it. If he can speak about women in this way, why wouldn’t we believe that he can talk about veterans dying in war zones in that way? Of course he can, and of course he did! Hell, he openly mocked John McCain, who was shot down while serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War and subsequently incarcerated for seven years.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said [of McCain] in 2015 while running for the Republican nomination for president. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Even if Trump’s comments about John McCain were the only thing he ever said about veterans who were captured or killed, this quote alone would qualify as proof of his disdain toward people in the military. And we all know this is NOT the only thing. Trump tweets daily, and his tweets are often derisive, insulting, and full of lies and distortions. So I am not at all surprised that there are claims that Trump called military servicemembers as “suckers” and “losers”. Duh!

But lots of people haven’t gotten the message and refuse to believe what’s right in front of them. For example, a friend of mine shared this post yesterday. She is not a Trump fan, but wanted to share it with people who can commiserate with her…

I don’t know who Jessica Clark is, but I did visit the original post. I see that she’s very proud that this nonsense went viral. Also… Trump was a frequent guest at Epstein’s island and, as I posted above, actually BRAGS about molesting women!

For the life of me, I do not see how Donald Trump does anything to protect her right to praise God. Trump is not exactly a decent Christian. The American Dream is a fallacy that only works out for a few… it is, indeed, just a dream. So many people are barely making it, especially in the wake of the pandemic. And the Republican Party doesn’t want to help people who have been knocked down by sudden poverty. Maybe they are against abortion, but they sure the hell aren’t for helping those babies once they’re born. Instead, they’re all about slut shaming and judging people who legitimately need help when they encounter financial hardships.

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard about how Louis DeJoy, the Postmaster General and a Trump supporter, has done his best to help Trump cheat in the upcoming elections by taking mail sorting machines out of commission and not allowing mail carriers overtime, which causes mail to be delayed. I have heard about the Stars and Stripes, a renowned independent military newspaper, getting less funding by the Pentagon, a move that could have shut it down after 159 years in operation. Trump has since stated that the paper will get funded, probably because there was a huge uproar. But it’s no secret that Trump only likes the press when they have good things to report about him. Anything less than a glowing report is “fake news”. He fails to see how freedom of expression and the press is an important part of democracy that all Americans are entitled to have. Yet people like Jessica Clark, pictured above, still think Trump champions their causes. The mind boggles.

In any case, Fox News, of all outlets, has confirmed the reports that were in The Atlantic.

And yet many military folks LOVE Trump and will vote for him again.

But Trump would love to have those same veterans marching in a grand parade celebrating him, a la North Korea or Soviet Russia. What an ASSHOLE.

Donald Trump isn’t special, either. This world is full of creeps like him. And this could be Trump’s theme song.

Don’t we deserve better for our nation? Doesn’t the WORLD deserve better than this narcissistic toddler in the White House? I just want to shake people like the Trumper above, who keep cheering on Trump’s disrespect and disdain for people who can’t do anything for him.

It must be nice not to have had any direct contact with a narcissist like Donald Trump. It must be awesome not to worry about the damage he has already done and will continue to do if he’s allowed to stay in office. But if you’ve had any exposure to this type of person and been stung by them, you develop a keen ability to pick them out at twenty paces. Trump is a narcissist. He is not capable of caring about anyone but himself. He has NO empathy whatsoever. Don’t you understand that even if you’re a booster, he doesn’t give two shits about you? Don’t you think we should have someone in charge who does? Isn’t that what would be best for EVERYONE?

Ah well… I’m tired of writing about Trump. I think I’ll practice my guitar. Hope everyone has a good Saturday.

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book reviews, narcissists

Repost of my review of The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell

Another repost of a book review. I originally reviewed this book on Epinions.com in 2009. I reposted it on my old blog and am reposting it again as/is, because narcissism is a hot topic.

Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way… I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cuz I get better lookin’ each day…” (Mac Davis, “It’s Hard To Be Humble”)

According to authors Jean M. Twenge Ph.D and W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D, Americans have a serious self-esteem problem that needs prompt attention. Look around and you might see what they’re talking about. Today’s babies wear bibs that say “Supermodel” or “Chick Magnet” on them. Today’s children win sports trophies just for showing up to play the game. Today’s adults live in huge, well furnished homes and drive luxury cars, yet they’re drowning in consumer debt. Yes, many Americans have a self-esteem problem, but despite the conventional thinking that our collective self-esteem is too low, Twenge and Campbell, authors of the 2009 book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, propose that it’s too high. They write on page 14, “American culture has embraced the value of self-admiration with a big, warm hug.” And now that I’ve read their book and considered their observations, I’m inclined to agree with them.

I purchased The Narcissism Epidemic while shopping for Stepmonsters, the subject of my last book review. Amazon.com quite brilliantly offered The Narcissism Epidemic as a suggestive sell and I took the bait. I am fairly pleased with the purchase, since psychologists Twenge and Campbell have written a very timely book about a problem that plagues a lot of Americans and may well be causing our downfall.  A growing number of people in our country think that rules don’t apply to them because they are somehow exceptional.  Too many people lack empathy and are too willing to put their needs above everything else.

Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, former fellow postdocs at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, first started thinking about the narcissism problem back in 1999, when they were both working in well-known social psychologist Roy Baumeister’s lab. The authors claim that there’s not much to do in Cleveland, especially in the winter. One day, as they were chatting with a fellow postdoc, the two came up with the idea of looking at trends related to narcissism. However, in 1999, the standard measure of narcissism had only been around for about ten years, which wasn’t long enough for them to do a solid study of change over time (6). They both eventually became college professors and decided to revisit the idea in 2006. The end result is this book, which focuses much of its discussion on narcissism in the United States, but also explores global trends of the narcissim epidemic in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

What this book is about

This book is about the collective “me first” attitude demonstrated by so many people today. Twenge and Campbell point out how the “me first” can attitude start out in the womb, as parents go to great lengths to come up with “special” names for their unborn children. When their babies are born, they’re photographed and fawned over and dressed in little t-shirts that point out how cute and “special” they are. As pre-schoolers, they sing cute little songs like “I Am Special, Look At Me”, a song that no doubt was written as a way of celebrating individuality and self-esteem, but may actually result in cultivating narcissism.

As kids come of age, some of them may be overvalued by their parents, who may refer to them as “little princesses” or “little princes”. Young girls may find themselves wearing makeup and attending spa appointments before they’ve left elementary school. Kids of both genders may aspire to be rich and famous over anything else when they grow up.

The authors explore how reality TV shows can entice ordinary people to dream of fame and fortune. Public figures like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears promote the shallow message that it’s more important to be rich, beautiful, and famous than it is to be a decent person. MTV’s highly obnoxious show, My Super Sweet 16 gets a lot of discussion, as the authors show how teenaged girls are encouraged to be shallow and haughty, as their parents scramble to throw them the best sweet 16 party ever, complete with $100,000 cars, exclusive invitations, and top of the line entertainment.

The authors even step into the church sanctuary, pointing out how megachurches take a tradition that once reined in narcissistic impulses and turn it into something that promotes it. For many people, going to church used to be a humbling exercise, where people came to be reminded of the consequences of acting like jerks. People drank bad coffee or Kool-Aid, ate stale donuts, and depending on the faith, might be given a stern warning about how sinners will end up in Hell. With the advent of megachurches, that warning message may well have gone away for a large segment of the population. Parishoners can listen to messages inspired by the prosperity gospel, where they will be told how special they are and how much God loves them. They can listen to high quality music, drink high quality coffee, and later purchase feel good books from the church bookstore. The prospect of going to Hell barely gets a mention.

I wasn’t surprised to see the authors take on college students. They write about students who have the audacity to demand better grades and expect passing grades simply for showing up to class. They quote students as having said to their professors, “You work for me.” On the other hand, they also explore how being a college professor can promote narcissism, too. After all, people tend to take notes on everything a professor says.

After college, it seems a lot of young people expect to get a fulfilling job that immediately pays six figures a year. Many of them lack the ability to fail with grace and handle disappointments. Some of them may sink into depression. I have to admit, having been through that myself after college and graduate school, I can relate. On the other hand, I have never expected to make a six figure salary in my lifetime.

Along with the expectation of a high paying job after graduation, some of these young people also expect to be able to wear the very best clothes, drive the best cars, and live in fine homes. They may succumb to easy credit, running up huge debts in their efforts to look successful and live the sweet life… only the sweet life is soured by the burden of huge bills they can’t hope to pay. No wonder America’s economy is in the toilet.

What I liked about this book

The Narcissism Epidemic is a good example of how research doesn’t have to be presented in a boring way. The authors present their case in a clear, logical, and very entertaining manner, often adding cleverly pithy comments that are fun to read. I liked the fact that the authors explored many different aspects of society to make their case about how narcissistic we’ve become. They cover everything from the adulation kids may get during early childhood to the school shooting sprees perpetrated by young people who felt the world owed them something. They also devote a lot of discussion to how the Internet promotes narcissism through Web sites like YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook… hell, I guess even Epinions could be included in that list. How many of us reviewers live for ego-boo through this site?

What I didn’t like about this book

As much as I enjoyed reading The Narcissism Epidemic, I couldn’t help but realize that the authors may be a little guilty of narcissism themselves. After all, their lofty academic achievements are clearly presented on the book’s dust jacket. They presume to offer suggestions on how people might become less narcissistic. I thought their suggestions were good ones and was glad to see them attempting to “solve” the problem. The irony is, in their attempt to solve narcissism, they seem to perpetrate it themselves. But again, I guess it really is hard to be humble sometimes.

I also felt the authors got a little carried away with this book. They include a huge range of examples, which while interesting to read about, made this book a little longer than it might have been. Some topics got mentioned more than once. For instance, I remember reading about the babies with the “Supermodel” bibs, Paris Hilton, and My Super Sweet 16 more than a couple of times as I made my way through this book.

Nevertheless

I really did enjoy reading The Narcissism Epidemic, especially since I happen to agree with a lot of the authors’ points. Even if most Americans aren’t suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a lot of us could stand to take a good look at they way we’re living. We work so hard to protect ourselves and our children from hardship and disappointment. We surround ourselves with useless toys and status symbols. We may even start to look at fellow human beings as “trophies” of sorts, caring more about what another person can do for us rather than who they are as people. All of this can lead to depression over a dull, meaningless, existence, not to mention the potential shame of bankruptcy and foreclosure when the fantasy of artificial wealth comes crashing down into reality.

I think The Narcissism Epidemic is a fine book and hereby recommend it with four stars.

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

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Duggars, narcissists, politicians, Trump

What the Trumps and the Duggars seem to have in common…

I’ve been reading Mary Trump’s new tell all book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, all about growing up Donald Trump’s niece. I’m probably about halfway through it at this point. I also fell down a couple of YouTube rabbit holes yesterday. I found this lady’s Duggar centered channel…

Okay… it’s not actually Duggar centered. But she does have a lot of Duggar content.

Without a Crystal Ball is run by a dark-eyed, light-haired woman named Katie Joy. She has videos about a lot of shows, but I found her because she does a lot of Duggar videos. Somehow, YouTube knows I’m a sucker for Duggar videos.

As I was reading more of Mary Trump’s book this morning, it dawned on me. JimBob Duggar is probably a narcissist. So was Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father. So is Donald Trump. You can see by the way these men handle(d) their business that they are extraordinarily controlling, and they think they know more than they actually do. They don’t take counsel from other people, and those who are in their sphere know better than to cross them.

About an hour ago, over breakfast, I read a passage in Mary Trump’s book about how she had wanted to go to boarding school. Mary’s parents, Linda and Freddy Trump, had divorced, but even before their divorce, they were pretty much governed by Fred Trump, right down to Freddy’s being pretty much ostracized and disowned for deciding to be an airline pilot instead of going into the family’s real estate business.

The decision to allow Mary Trump to go to boarding school was to be decided by Fred Trump Sr., not Freddy Trump and his ex wife, who were Mary’s parents. Freddy served as a living warning to Fred and Mary Trump’s other children, not to cross Daddy. Freddy managed to get his father to consent to allowing Mary to go to boarding school (which was paid for with Freddy’s trust fund). The day before she was to go off to school, Mary went to her grandparents’ house to say goodbye to her dad. He was staying with his parents because, since the failure of his career as a pilot and disastrous stint in the real estate biz, Freddy had become an alcoholic. The alcoholism was so bad that it had destroyed his health. He got very sick and, with nowhere else to go, was forced to live in his old childhood bedroom.

When Mary reached the familiar back door to her grandparents’ house, she was greeted by her grandmother, who said her father wasn’t there. She was acting awkward and weird. Mary noticed, but didn’t press. Grandma Trump said she’d have him call her. Freddy never did call. Two weeks later, Mary was told she needed to call home. Her grandfather basically told her nothing was wrong and that she should call in the morning. Not believing her grandfather, Mary called her mom, who told her the sad news that Freddy had died of a heart attack at age 42.

When it came time to bury Freddy, Mary tried to let her elders know of her father’s final wishes. He had not wanted to be buried, and was very adamant about that. She had also wanted to see her dad before he was cremated. Not only was Mary denied the right to see her dad one last time, but after he was cremated, Fred Trump buried the ashes, despite Freddy’s wishes not to be buried. And when it came time to distribute his personal effects, Mary got nothing. Her brother, Fritz, got Freddy’s Timex watch.

So what does this story by Mary Trump have to do with the Duggars? Well… I have heard and read from many sources that Duggar kids go against their father’s wishes at great risk. Derick Dillard has gone against JimBob quite publicly and he and Jill quit Counting On, and Jeremy Vuolo has whisked Jinger away to Los Angeles. Sources reveal that both couples are a bit on the outs with Boob. Jill and Derick, for instance, are not allowed to go to the Tinker Toy Mansion without JimBob’s permission or presence. Jill had once been Daddy’s “favorite”. Now, she’s an outcast, but it looks like she’s embracing a more mainstream lifestyle. Same thing with Jinger. However, it appears that freedom comes with great cost.

I think Derick Dillard may contribute to Boob’s inevitable downfall.

If you’ve been reading my blogs over the years, you know that my husband was kept from seeing his daughters for many years, due to their narcissistic mother’s insistence that they disown him. In March of this year, Bill finally saw his younger daughter. It had been fifteen years, and younger daughter, now 26 years old, is finally able to make her own decisions. She seems to have come to terms with the idea that if she wants to live her own life, she may have to do so without contact with her siblings who are still on their mother’s side.

This is a common tactic narcissists use to stay in control of their relatives and others who are close to them. They handle the money, the major decisions, and set things up so that if you go against their wishes, disaster will strike. Or, even if disaster doesn’t have to strike, they train their relatives so that it seems like there will be a disaster that will befall anyone who leaves the fold. It’s not unlike being in a cult. That perception of impending doom can be very powerful. It takes a lot of courage and will to leave a narcissistic family system. It basically means you have to strike out on your own. And if you come from a really powerful family and have limited access to money or transportation, that can be an extremely daunting task.

In Freddy Trump’s case, being Fred Trump’s son meant that he couldn’t get loans, because his father was buddies with all of the powers that be at the local banks. That meant that instead of buying himself a nice house in Long Island, he was forced to live in a shitty, slummy apartment building owned by his father, that his father refused to fix. It meant that instead of doing the work he wanted to do, Freddy Trump was forced to work for his father, doing work that didn’t interest him. The hopelessness of it, along with those Scottish genetics from his mother, probably contributed to his severe alcoholism and eventual early death.

Jim Bob Duggar is probably not as powerful as Fred or Donald Trump, but he does have a lot of power. He owns many properties in Arkansas, has plenty of lawyers and money to pay them, and has trained an army of children, over half of whom are now young, healthy, strong adults. He also has their spouses, many of whom were kind of brokered into the Duggar family by their parents. It takes a certain type of person to marry a Duggar child… someone who will toe the line.

However, it’s plain that Boob failed to notice that Derick and Jeremy, and probably Austin Forsyth (Joy Anna’s husband), aren’t going to take his shit forever. But JimBob clearly sees as people in his family as slaves. He tries to “own” them. I can see that getting out of his clutches isn’t an easy endeavor, especially as the adult children have children of their own. Those children and their total dependence on their parents make it much harder for the Duggar adults to escape Boob’s narcissistic clutches and strike out on their own. There are a few exceptions, though. I think John David pretty much tells his dad to buzz off when he feels like it.

I’m mostly enjoying Mary Trump’s book… some of it is very sad, though. I get the sense that the malevolent streak in the Trump family doesn’t even so much come from Friedrich Trump, who ironically died in the last major world pandemic, back in 1918. He got Spanish Flu. It seems to me that the real culprit of the Trump nastiness came from Fred Trump’s mother, Elizabeth Christ Trump. She was the one who really got the business going, and, according to Mary Trump, she treated Fred’s Scottish wife, Mary, like dirt.

I’m sure it was tough for Mary Trump to decide to write this book. She basically reveals her family’s dysfunction for all that it is. Her Uncle Donald is, for now, one of the most powerful men on the planet, and he is royally fucking things up. It’s probably very embarrassing for her. She seems like a good and decent person with empathy and, in fact, it appears that most of the Trumps aren’t terrible people… just a few of them who have that malevolent, narcissistic streak that compels them to enslave and exploit people. I’m sure that Mary Trump might even fear for her safety after having written her book. I think she was brave to do it.

Likewise, I hope Derick Dillard or Jill, or someone else in the Duggar family spills the tea about JimBob. But then, I have seen his type enough times to recognize the behavior. I know he’s a narcissist and that his family members are mostly neatly under his thumb. I even remember someone on their reality show– can’t remember which one– saying that you don’t say no to JimBob. If you do, you might live to regret it. He’s a bully.

As for Without A Crystal Ball… I don’t know if I’ll keep watching her videos. I just happened to stumble across them a couple of days ago and they fit with today’s post. Hopefully, I’ll be able to review Mary Trump’s book soon.

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narcissists

She just wanted me around for the “likes”…

This morning, I’m listening to a great video by narcissistic behavior guru Dr. Ramani. She is one of several experts on narcissism that I follow on YouTube. She’s wise, insightful, and helpful, although I probably watch videos by fellow expert Dr. Les Carter more often.

Today, the video I stumbled across is on the topic of regret. I’m writing about it now, because I happened to be talking about this very same topic with Bill before I found Dr. Ramani’s video. Bill and I have both had our fill of interactions with narcissists. And we have both experienced regret in the wake of them.

She’s a very kind woman with good insight and better advice.

In this video, Dr. Ramani says “Narcissistic relationships waste time.” And they do. In my case, one of the most damaging relationships of my lifetime lasted about 33 years. I have countless memories of my time with this person. I grew up with her. The friendship probably died before we graduated high school. If it didn’t die in high school, it was definitely in its death throes when we were in college. But I still hung on to it for years, even though I knew that it was a ghost of the “friendship” we’d once had.

I repeatedly resisted the healthy side of me telling me to break off my ties with her for good. Why? Because we’d known each other for so long. I’d invested a lot in the relationship. I didn’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I hoped that one day, we could be friends again, more like we were when we were kids.

Then one day, it became painfully clear that she wasn’t my friend and hadn’t been for many years. It became obvious that she saw me as a source of supply and a possession… just one more soul on her Facebook friends list count. She wasn’t interested in being friends with me. She just wanted me for the “likes”. How did I discover this? Well, as it so often happens in my life, it was completely by surprise.

In the fall of 2013, I was sitting in my house in Texas when I got an email from a woman who used to sit next to me in the church I grew up attending. Like my former friend, she had known me since I was eight years old. Her husband was in the choir. My dad was in the choir. Her husband and my dad were both graduates of Virginia Military Institute, so they were like “brothers”. My mom was a church organist at another church, and my three sisters were pretty much grown and out of the house. So there I was, eight years old, with no one to sit with in the forced church services every week. And there she was, a middle aged woman whose children were either grown or in boarding school (she and her husband are wealthy). I spent years sitting through church services with her while her husband and my dad sang in the choir. She was my “special friend”, who even took me for summer outings every year.

Anyway in 2013, this lady, then about 80 years old, had known that my ex friend and I had been “besties” as kids. My ex friend was also the maid of honor at my wedding, which church buddy had also attended. So she probably figured I’d known that ex friend had a baby, and had been attending my former church. She’d had her baby baptized there, and apparently forgot that I was raised in that church and still knew people there.

Church friend wrote to me about the blessed event, probably expecting me to already know about it; but it really was news to me. The revelation that my former friend had kept the news of her pregnancy from me put me in a delicate position, since it didn’t seem appropriate to explain to this elderly lady that apparently my “bestie” and I not only weren’t “best friends” anymore, we weren’t even mere acquaintances. And it was she who had made it abundantly clear that we were no longer “friends” with this bombshell news about my ex friend’s baby’s baptism at the church I had attended as a child.

I think what I ended up doing was telling church friend that I hadn’t known about the baby, since ex friend and I were no longer friends. I didn’t elaborate as to why. I later heard that the church lady asked my mom what happened and my mom couldn’t tell her. When she sent more news to me about ex friend, I reiterated to her that the friendship was over, and I think she finally got the message. It was very awkward, though.

After I got that first email about my ex friend’s shady business, I went looking on her Facebook profile. We were still “friends”, but I had noticed some time earlier that I couldn’t tag her in a photo a mutual friend had shared. I didn’t think much of it at the time, because frankly, we hadn’t been chatting much anyway and I had unfollowed her so her posts didn’t show up in my feed. But after I got the news about the baby, I realized that all of her Facebook posts were public and none were about her baby. It was then that I realized she’d put me on her restricted list, which allowed her to see my page, but restricted what I could see on hers to her infrequent public posts.

She did this, even though we’d known each other since we were eight years old and I have actually met members of her family who are long dead– people like her father, her grandparents, and her great grandmother– most of whom have been gone for decades. I doubt anyone else she knows has ever met these people personally unless they are family members. I would have had a lot more respect for her if she’d just unfriended me, or even blocked me. But no… I was “restricted”, so she could keep tabs on what I was doing and still count me as a “friend”.

Naturally, I was hurt, because there was a time when I genuinely thought we were “best friends”. In fact, she was the one who had first declared us “best friends”, way back in the early 1980s. Honestly, even though we were not as close as we once were years ago, if I had known she was expecting a baby, I would have wished her well. But I have feeling that she didn’t want me to know about her baby because she was afraid I’d somehow steal her thunder. I got married before she did and remember that she’d made a lot of mean-spirited, passive aggressive digs toward Bill and me. I think it upset her that I beat her to the altar. I think she was afraid that if I knew she was pregnant, I’d go out and get pregnant too, or something. She is a competitive person who tends to get jealous and insecure about some things.

I went and talked to Bill and it, and he said, “Well… you know, at our wedding rehearsal, she did and said some inappropriate things.”

Then he proceeded to tell me about how she’d basically hit on him while standing in for me at the rehearsal. She looked at him seductively as she reassured him and told him to relax and pretend she was me. After the rehearsal of the vows was finished, she batted her eyes at him and whispered, “Don’t forget your vows, Bill.”

Bill, being a good guy and knowing that she was my long term “best friend”, figured he’d misinterpreted her behavior. He never mentioned it to me. If he had, I think I would have asked her to leave. Because that behavior on the day before my wedding was extremely disrespectful. I know that if I had done that at her wedding, she would have been furious and there would have been ballistic outrage.

After hearing about her shitty behavior at our rehearsal ten years after our wedding and then discovering that she had me “restricted” on Facebook, so she could see my posts, but I couldn’t see hers, I realized that she was most definitely NOT a friend. I was just something to be used… for narcissistic supply, moral support, adoration, or whatever. It was all on her terms. So, although I really wanted to tell her off, I decided the best thing to do was block her on social media and say nothing. And that’s what I did.

About a year later, I got an unexpected message from her ex boyfriend from our high school years, a guy I hadn’t talked to in well over twenty years. He had a book that I had lent my ex friend, back when we were teenagers (also when they dated, although I think they both carry a torch for each other). He wanted to know how to return it to me. It had been well over twenty years and I had already replaced the book, so I told him to keep it.

I’m sure she put him up to messaging me. There’s no reason he would have otherwise. We weren’t close when we used to know each other. I think she wondered if I’d dish to him. I kept it polite and non-committal because I expected he’d return and report to her. This is what’s known as “Hoovering”. Just like the vacuum cleaner, it’s an attempt to suck someone back into a relationship. Narcissistic people never really let anyone go completely. One way to tell that someone you had dealings with is narcissistic is that they “Hoover”. I suspect that her ex boyfriend was unwittingly serving as a “flying monkey”… doing dirty work on her behalf.

A lot of narcissists will try to Hoover.

Several more years passed. Then, in February of this year, I got an unexpected private message from my former friend’s brother. Again– while we were Facebook friends at one time, I hadn’t spoken to him in years and he wasn’t active on Facebook, so I unfriended him. Out of the blue, I got this message, supposedly from him, with an update on ex friend’s life, including news about the daughter she never told me about. I was tempted to respond to that effect– that I hadn’t even known she’d been pregnant, so I figure we aren’t friends anymore. But I’ve learned that the best thing to do is not respond. No contact is essential.

Moreover, I had a feeling that it might have actually been her sending the message. Maybe she got access to his account and sent me the message because I didn’t have him blocked (I did have her blocked at that time). Either way, I was certain that even if it was a message from her brother– not a bad guy, by the way– she put him up to it. And it had NOTHING to do with her wanting to be friends with me. I was just a possession to her. She was just looking for supply. It didn’t need to come from me. It could have come from anyone. She hasn’t changed. Narcissists never do.

I wrote the below passage in a blog post I wrote back in 2013. I sure called it, didn’t I?

Something tells me she will eventually pop up on Facebook again or send me an email to tell me about her baby or whatever other news she feels compelled to share.  Or she’ll want to take advantage of my super long memory or knowledge and she’ll contact me for that reason.  I’ve watched her do it to other people over and over again.” 

But… I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret the loss of the “friendship”, or at least the illusion of the friendship. The truth is, we had many good times together. We spent many days and nights together playing. We went on trips together– shared books, movies, music, and many Saturday mornings playing with our Barbies together. And, at least until we got to high school, we genuinely liked each other, and it felt like a real friendship, even if people close to me didn’t like her and repeatedly warned me about her self-centered behavior.

But then it started to become clear that she just wanted me around to make herself feel better. There was no reciprocity in our relationship. I was doing most of the work to keep the relationship going, and many times, after talking to her or messaging with her, I was left feeling really angry and upset. She has a way of making cutting remarks that are intended to make the other person feel small. She never misses the opportunity. I also noticed that she wasn’t interested in my successes or triumphs. She only liked to see my failures, vulnerabilities, and heartbreaks. And not because she wanted to offer support.

In fact, I noticed that a lot of her friends were people I wouldn’t necessarily put as her “equals”. Most of them were people who had significant problems of some sort– obvious ones. I suspect it made her feel better to have people around who were worse off than she perceived herself. I came to that conclusion because I noticed that she became distant whenever I had successes. She didn’t want to hear about my triumphs, like a real friend would. She only wanted to hear about the bad stuff or, if she was in the mood, to have someone to gossip with and/or badmouth others to. I noticed she generally had shitty things to say about people we grew up with… she accused one woman who was in a happy marriage of being a “Stepford Wife”. She accused another woman who looked youthful for our age as having had cosmetic surgery. She was gleeful as she told me about another “friend” who had gained a lot of weight and seemed to be gaining more. It was just toxic and mean, especially since she claimed to be friends with some of them. I realized that she was probably saying the same nasty shit to people about me, too.

This could be her theme song. This was the cast we saw when we saw Avenue Q in England in 2016. They cleaned up the language in this version.

Personally, I like it when my friends succeed. I especially like it when Bill succeeds. I don’t feel jealous or slighted when he does well at work, nor am I jealous of my friends who are doing well. I like to be around people who are successful. I try to learn from them.

Yes, I have regrets. I’m sorry I wasted so many years with someone who didn’t value me or my friendship. I’m sorry that I wasted time with someone who kept me from making friends with people who were real friends. I’m sorry that I willingly subjected myself to years of her toxic crap. I’m sorry that she was my maid of honor and that she’s in my wedding pictures. I’m sorry that I put Bill in the position of having to wonder how to handle her inappropriate behavior at our wedding rehearsal. I regret that so many childhood memories involve my times with her, instead of times with other people who might be real friends with me today. I regret that her treatment made me a worse friend to other people. I really regret ever comparing myself to her and thinking that I wasn’t as “good” as she was, simply because of the things she said and did to try to make me feel that way. And I’m sorry that my experiences with her make it hard for me to trust people and make new friends.

But I don’t regret learning the truth about her before it was too late. I have the rest of my life to make real friends, and I’d rather be alone than be “friends” with fake people, anyway. Life is short, and it’s often not a lot of fun. However, it’s always better when it’s not spent wasting time with people who just want to bring you down and watch the world burn. I may regret decisions from the past, but I still have a great future to look forward to… if I survive this pandemic, anyway.

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Ex

Truth tellers…

Last night, just before I drifted off to sleep, I watched a really excellent YouTube video by Doctor Ramani, a psychologist who makes videos about narcissists and narcissism. The subject was “truth tellers” in family systems.

Really great video!

She begins by talking about family roles and how they can follow a person from childhood into adulthood. She explains that in every family system, there is ALWAYS a child who “gets it”. They see everything clearly and tell the truth, sometimes in a naive way. In most families, they’re the kid who blurts out observations about the way things are, whether or not those observations are flattering. The family may “train” the child not to be so blunt, but ultimately, they’re the child who doesn’t get on the bus to Abilene.

In a narcissistic family system, being a “truth teller” can be very dangerous. Narcissists expect the people close to them to keep secrets and tell lies. Keeping secrets and telling lies is anathema to what a truth teller is. And so, being the type of person who is naturally honest, but living in a narcissistic family system, can be hell for a truth teller. They tend to do desperate things to get out of that sistuation.

I wasn’t raised by narcissists, but I think I’m kind of a truth teller. I related a lot to what Doctor Ramani said, especially the part about moving far away from their families and doing “desperate” things to escape it. I think Bill’s younger daughter is also a truth teller. When I first met her, back in 2003, she seemed to be more like a “golden child“. But years later, when she started talking to Bill again, it seemed more like she was very observant. She recognized that she grew up in a really fucked up family. Her mother has had three husbands. Her mother’s adoptive mother had seven husbands. Younger daughter didn’t want that for herself.

When she turned 18, younger daughter decided she had to go her own way. She got no help from her mother, so she struck out on her own, and sought help from church members. The church helped her out, and she was able to go on a LDS mission. She met her husband when he was on his mission in Boston.

Ex wasn’t very happy about younger daughter’s decision to date a missionary from Utah. She wanted younger daughter to stay close and remain under her control. But younger daughter wasn’t having it. She left, even though her mother went to some extreme and dramatic lengths to change her mind. Eventually, younger daughter started talking to Bill again, even though Ex had tried to convince her that he’s an abusive monster.

When Bill went to see his daughter a few months ago, they talked, and younger daughter said, “Wow. Look at you helping me clean the kitchen. I’ll bet when you and Mom were married, you did all the work, didn’t you?”

Bill nodded, telling her about what that time was like.

“When Mom visits, she usually sits on the couch, plays with her phone, and complains. She never helps.” younger daughter said.

Bill in action… he’s good about helping. Ex isn’t, but she’ll still try to convince everyone that she’s a saint and Bill is a bastard, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary.

More revelations came up over that visit. Younger daughter revealed more truths about what it was like to grow up with Ex, without Bill in her life. To her credit, despite all of the cognitive dissonance Ex tried to create, and even though it was easier to just “believe” and get on with things, younger daughter was never able to stop being a truth teller. She continued to see through the bullshit and, on occasion, she must have called it out.

For instance, Ex had told the kids a wild and completely made up story about how Bill and I had a torrid affair when they were still married. Younger daughter never really believed it, but she still wanted confirmation. She asked Bill how and when we met, and he told her. She said her mother had said Bill was cheating on her… conveniently forgetting that she had moved her third husband into the house Bill was paying for before the divorce was final. And yes, they were having sex outside of marriage, despite being so-called ” devout Mormons”!

By contrast, Bill and I lived together from May 2002, almost two whole years after the divorce was final. We did not have sex for the first time until about two weeks after our wedding day, in November of that year. In fact, Bill even wore his first wedding ring until the day his divorce was final. But, in Ex’s eyes, I’m nothing but a homewrecking whore who weakened Bill’s resolve, and if it wasn’t for me, she and Bill would not have divorced. That is a lie, but I know it’s not personal. She would have hated any woman who married Bill. It wouldn’t have mattered how kind, cooperative, and forgiving she was. And I am not the kindest, most cooperative or forgiving person. Like younger daughter, I am also a bit of a truth teller.

The more I learn about younger daughter, the more respect I have for her. I know it wasn’t easy to pull off what she did. She grew up sheltered, and was told a lot of lies. Ex did everything she could to sabotage her kids and keep them from abandoning her. She tried to cripple younger daughter. But younger daughter saw through the bullshit and had enough resilience and strength of character to break away from that mess and get out on her own. As Dr. Ramani says in her video, younger daughter was willing to do the extreme to escape a situation in which she had to suppress her need to be truthful and authentic. She turned to the church for help, went off to college with nothing but the clothes on her back, went on a mission, and made up her mind to get married and start a family. And now she can make her own choices.

However… I do wonder if Bill’s visit wasn’t traumatizing to her on some level. I wonder if she looks at him, clearly the more stable parent, and realizes that if he had raised her, her life would have been completely different. I wonder if it makes her sad that they didn’t speak for fifteen years, and she missed out on having him in her life. Having a mother who is mentally ill and narcissistic is a huge burden, but God forbid she say that out loud. She’d be called disrespectful. But it’s the truth, isn’t it?

We now know that Ex’s current husband was not a substitute for Bill. Even though Ex tried to convince Bill that #3 had fallen right into the “daddy” role and it fit like a glove, the truth was, #3’s attempt to fill Bill’s shoes was a failure. The kids were forced to call him “Dad”. Why? Because during their one and only visitation with Bill, older daughter was holding Ex’s first child with #3 ,and she pointed to Bill and said, “That’s Daddy.” #3 got very upset and jealous, and Ex told the kids that henceforth, #3 would be “Daddy”. Why? Because she didn’t want another marriage to fail… so they all had to buy into a fantasy that Bill and #1 had never existed. They’d always been a happy, cohesive family, just like the fucking Brady Bunch! It was all a crock of shit. And younger daughter knew it, even from a tender age.

These days, younger daughter doesn’t have much to do with #3. She says he isn’t in the best of health, and Ex isn’t very nice to him. But they’re still together, probably by sheer will and lots of threats on Ex’s part. She knows that finding husband #4 might be hard, and she’s done having babies. Ex’s youngest child has severe autism and may never be able to live on his own. She’s been trying to coerce her other children into promising to take care of him, even though he’s not actually their responsibility.

Years ago, I predicted that Bill would hear from his younger daughter. I knew that one day, she would approach him. I didn’t think it would be on such good terms, though. I originally suspected that because she’d been the first to reject Bill and because she was so young when Ex divorced Bill, younger daughter was the most brainwashed. However, I also suspected that she had a strong will, and she and Ex would eventually clash. And when that happened, younger daughter would approach Bill, if only to piss off her mother and rebel.

It turns out that younger daughter initially didn’t want to upset her mother. She didn’t tell her that she was talking to Bill until some time had passed. Ex eventually found out and hit the roof. She still thinks she can dictate to her adult children who they are allowed to speak to and associate with. She still thinks she has the right and ability to tell them to avoid the man she chose to make their father, even though Bill’s daughters are well past 21 years old. She sees them as extensions of herself, subject to her command, even though they’re grown women.

It must be very frustrating for Ex to lose control. It must be very sad for younger daughter to have a mother who is more interested in being in control than being a mother. For someone who feels compelled to call bullshit, it must be difficult to keep toeing the line. That’s why younger daughter got the hell out of Dodge while she could. I really can’t blame her at all. I suspect we’ll soon be hearing more truths as time passes.

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