Ex, narcissists, Twitter

Now she wants a “Funko”… I’m almost afraid to ask.

This is another inappropriate post. You probably won’t be interested.

Okay, if I’m honest, I couldn’t resist finding out what a Funko is. I will reveal it further downpost. First, I want to issue a report.

I need to write something kind of funny today, because I had a pretty rough night last night. Arran had his latest chemo treatment and seemed to suffer from side effects. I wrote about it here, for those who are interested. Now I’m suffering a bit. I’d make a terrible nurse. I’m glad Bill is coming home tomorrow.

I’m almost ready to write a new book review. I might even get to it today. First, I want to write about Funkos and other fuckery found on Ex’s Twitter. When last I posted about her, I wrote about how she’s convinced she’s a Scot by blood. Now, she’s back to hinting for stuff. One of Ex’s Twitter buddies posted a GIF from Outlander. Ex added her giddy response beneath it.

This isn’t too cringey, I guess. I mean, it’s definitely icky, but it’s not too bad, as Ex goes. What gives me a fright is the suggested post beneath it. This isn’t one that Ex posted on, but it is related to Outlander. I’m surprised Ex didn’t respond to this, to be honest. She’s into this kind of stuff, according to Bill.

Yikes! I know… some people enjoy this kind of attention. I think I’d probably reflexively kick the guy in the face. I’m very relieved that Ex didn’t reply to this post. I’ve already had one dry heaving session this morning.

The next post is a familiar one. Ex reveals a little about herself, and says she’d “kill” for a pool. Actually, she’d kill for a lot less than a pool. I know this for a fact.

I’d kill for a pool. I love to swim and can go for hours!! Alas, it is not anywhere in my near future!! Sigh but then, neither is a new Peaker subscription. Which is killing me!!

I already knew about Ex’s love of swimming. Bill told me all about it. Ex is also a Pisces, which is the sign of the fish. Hmm… that seems to go hand in hand with the above pic, doesn’t it? I know… that was mean. I’m usually only mean to people who ask for it. As far as I’m concerned, Ex’s conduct over the past 33 years or so have made her someone toward whom I don’t feel guilty about being mean. Anyway, she makes my head swim, so why wouldn’t she be a fan of swimming?

Bill and I had a pool at our last US based rental house. It was nice. I think if I ever have to live in Texas again, I will insist on having another pool. However, I know there is a drawback to that. In our last US neighborhood, one of the neighbors wanted us to let his kids use the pool That was a big, fat, awkward NO, for so many reasons, starting with liability and ending with the fact that I don’t like sharing and feel no obligation to, especially with a total stranger who has the nerve to ask for access to our backyard. The pool was kind of a pain, too, because a pipe broke, and it took the landlord forever to get it fixed.

The next part of her Tweet is a lament that she can’t afford a “Peaker” subscription. This is a reference to Sam Heughan’s “My Peak Challenge”, which I looked up because of Ex. Apparently, it’s a wellness thing. For $149 a year, you get videos, recipes, and a t-shirt. I can’t help but think about how I just ordered a new computer for a couple thousand euros, which I have the money to pay in full for, when the charge posts on my credit card. It wasn’t always like that. For a good portion of our marriage, Bill and I were strapped for money, too. We worked hard to get to where we are now, and we also know that but by the grace of God, we could easily wind up broke again.

For over ten years, Bill sent Ex $2550 a month for three kids, one of which wasn’t even his child. He also spent a long time climbing out of the financial hellhole Ex left him in, due to her outrageous spending habits. For that, she denied him any access whatsoever to his kids, and she tried to ruin his relationship with his own parents. And, she also had the nerve to shame Bill for buying a cheap palm pilot type device, back when they first split up, and she was still trying so hard to control him. Of course, now that the child support gravy train is long ended, Ex can’t satisfy her desires so easily. I’m sure she’ll find a way to buy her subscription for Sam Heughan’s “Peaker” club, though. She always does.

In fact, in the very next post, Ex posts this:

So… she doesn’t have money for a My Peak Challenge subscription, but she DOES have money for TWO signed copies of Waypoints, a book by her beloved ideal man, Sam Heughan. That’s not such a big deal, as I see that the books retail for less than $20. But two of those cost between $30 and $40, which is a significant chunk of the $149 she would need for her subscription. And a Jamie Fraser Funko Pop, which she says she wants for her birthday next month, is not so cheap, depending on who’s selling it.

What can a Funko Pop do, anyway? At least a subscription to the My Peak Challenge might contribute to Ex’s health and well being. This is just a fucking toy… and not even the FUN kind she can use between her legs. I’ve got nothing against buying “toys” to make one feel better about life. But we have it on good authority that Ex doesn’t cover her own needs before she buys this kind of stuff.

Of course, it’s none of my business or concern… except for the fact that all of this stuff is publicly posted. I am reminded of certain other women I’ve known who had serious problems with shopping addictions. They are people who must have what they want when they want it, no matter what. And a lot of them wind up with pretty dreadful credit ratings. Sadly, they often brazenly financially abuse their loved ones, too.

And finally, the last of her latest tweets are about Alexa “wake up” calls by Sam Heughan. I guess #3 isn’t doing it for her anymore… and obviously, based on her newfound interest in Scotch whisky, neither is Mormonism…

Well… that about does it for my latest Ex inspired snarkfest. I feel slightly cheerier now. It’s a dreaded Thursday, which means I get to vacuum. And then I expect I’ll finish my latest book, so I can write something more people will want to read. Have a happy Thursday.

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book reviews

My review of Unbreakable by Jelena Dokic, with Jessica Halloran…

January seems to be my month for reading true stories. Early this morning, because I couldn’t sleep, I finished reading 2017’s Unbreakable, the story of tennis phenom Jelena Dokic, ghostwritten by Jessica Halloran. I bought this book a week ago and finished it in less than 48 hours. Part of the reason I finished so quickly is because I’m alone this week, but I also found it a very compelling and interesting book. I don’t follow tennis at all, and had never even heard of Jelena Dokic before I read Unbreakable. But her story interested and frustrated me on many levels. I think anyone who has ever had to deal with a controlling, narcissistic, alcoholic person will relate to it.

Who is Jelena Dokic?

Born April 12, 1983 in Croatia, which was then part of the former Yugoslavia, Jelena Dokic once played tennis with the likes of Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, and both Venus and Serena Williams. But her earliest days in Osijek, Croatia, didn’t lend a hint to the fame and fortune she would eventually attain.

Jelena Dokic’s mother is from Croatia; her father was born in Croatia, but was of Serbian descent. She was an only child until 1991, when her mother gave birth to her beloved brother, Savo. From the very beginning, Jelena adored her brother and saw herself as his protector. His birth was at the time when the Iron Curtain was falling apart, and that included Jelena’s homeland, Yugoslavia, which was really just a conglomeration of different states with different languages and cultures cobbled together.

One day, when Jelena was still very young, she and her father, Damir Dokic, were in a rowboat fishing, when they saw a body floating past. As Yugoslavia was breaking up, people from the different countries were fighting among themselves. Murders were increasingly common as the area became a war zone. The obstetrician who delivered both Jelena and her brother was murdered, prompting the family to temporarily move to Serbia. There, Jelena had to learn the Serbian language as the civil unrest and ethnic and religion based violence continued.

During those early years, Jelena’s father got the idea to see if his daughter could play tennis. Boy, could she… Jelena was a natural talent. From the age of six, she showed everyone that she was born for the game. Reluctant coaches in Serbia didn’t think she could hang with the bigger girls, but she soon proved herself a formidable player. Before she’d hit puberty, Jelena had launched what would turn into a lucrative career.

Enter “Daddy Dearest”…

Besides dealing with the violence of war and the upheaval of moving from Croatia to Serbia, Jelena’s family was poor. For some time, Jelena, her mother, and brother lived in a garden shack owned by relatives. It was rat infested and freezing cold. Meanwhile, her father and other relatives were in Croatia. Jelena’s dad, Damir, came back when it became clear that his daughter had the potential to go far in the tennis world.

The family eventually immigrated to Australia, where Jelena rose in the ranks to become a great tennis player. But she would inspire jealousy among other Aussie tennis players, who weren’t a match for her. Her entire life revolved around winning tennis matches and making money for her abusive father. Jelena’s mother, beaten down by years of abuse, aided and abetted Damir’s tyrannical behavior.

Damir Dokic had a tragically effective way of “motivating” Jelena to succeed. He drove her to train constantly, berated her, called her vile, filthy names, and when she didn’t win on the tennis court, beat her with his leather belt. Damir was also a severe alcoholic with a weakness for white wine and whiskey. He would show up to Jelena’s games rip roaring drunk, screaming at her from the sidelines. Jelena was treated like a commodity. She wasn’t allowed to have friends, and her abusive father would threaten and humiliate her constantly, even when she did well.

Still, in spite of being called names like “whore” and “cow”, and even though her father would regularly terrorize Jelena, and tell her she was a disgrace, the young tennis phenom consistently rose to the occasion. At the pinnacle of her tennis career, Jelena Dokic was ranked number four in the world. For awhile, she was unstoppable, although her father never praised Jelena for her achievements.

But sadly, before Jelena was even twenty-one years old, it all began to unravel. She went through many coaches, endured a narcissistic boyfriend, and through it all, had to face her terrifying father, who leveraged Jelena’s access to her mother and brother to get what he wanted… which was basically ALL of her money and complete control over her career.

A familiar story, yet still shocking…

As I read Jelena Dokic’s story, I was reminded of several other stories of extremely talented and successful people. A couple of years ago, I wrote a review of a book written by Verona van de Leur, a former elite gymnast from The Netherlands who eventually went to prison and then became a porn star. Like Jelena Dokic, Verona was expected to perform and achieve in her sport, mainly because her parents were leeching money from her.

I don’t believe Verona van de Leur ever made as much money as Jelena Dokic did, as Jelena’s father eventually built a mansion with Jelena’s earnings, complete with a wine cellar and stables. He made her agree to keep sending him payments of $200,000, as well as most of her other earnings. Jelena’s father also forced her to sign over her rights to a house paid for with money she won. Naturally, she was also expected to pay the taxes on her winnings, which she soon couldn’t do as she stopped winning. Not winning meant making much less money playing tennis.

I was also reminded of Dominique Moceanu, an American former elite gymnast of Romanian descent, whose father abused her in order to motivate her to achieve. I remember how adorable Dominique was in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. I didn’t know, at that time, the price she was paying to be at the top of her game in gymnastics. I read and reviewed Dominique’s book, too.

Finally, Jelena’s crazy abuse story reminded a bit of Tina Turner, and her story of being mentored by her ex husband, the late Ike Turner. Although Tina is known for being a great singer, she shared the same tragic fate as Jelena, Verona, and Dominique did. All of these incredibly gifted and talented women basically served as “golden geese” for abusive men who exploited and terrorized them to get money and power from them.

Frustrating…

As compelling as Unbreakable is, I have to admit, I found it a frustrating read. Jelena Dokic was caught in a terrible abuse cycle. Over and over again, her father would abuse her in almost every way. He would make her run for miles after exhausting tennis matches or in extreme heat. He would verbally abuse her and terrorize her. Or he would beat her up, kick her with his pointy toed dress shoes, or whip her with his belt. When she became an adult, she would say “enough” and try to leave. But he’d always manage to talk her into coming back for more abuse.

Ditto to other abusers in Jelena’s life. She had a tennis coach who took advantage of her. He wasn’t very experienced in the game, but he was manipulative. More than once, Jelena tried to get rid of him, only to take him back later. She had an abusive, controlling boyfriend of the same ilk who was hard to shake.

On a conscious level, I understand that Jelena was trapped in a cycle of abuse. She was coping the only way she knew how. She didn’t have much help from other people, even though some had seen evidence of her father’s telltale abuse. Jelena was a valuable commodity to a lot of men, and I guess it was easier to allow the blatant terrorism to continue, rather than do something about it. I have had experience with an abusive alcoholic father myself, so I do have an inkling of what Jelena was facing. My dad wasn’t as bad as Jelena’s dad is, either. But still, it was frustrating to read about this very talented and successful woman being horrifically abused, and nothing being done about it. It’s pretty shameful, actually. Fortunately, the story ends well.

Jelena Dokic makes a comeback.

Overall

I think Jessica Halloran did a fine job writing this book. It’s in the historical present tense, which is kind of different. I never got the sense that I wasn’t reading this book from the source, though, which is a good thing. There are some photos included, too.

Like I mentioned up post, I don’t really follow tennis at all. I’m not into sports. But I could relate to and empathize with Jelena Dokic’s story in Unbreakable. It sounds like she’s gotten her life back on track, as she now works as a tennis coach and motivational speaker in Australia. Jelena’s story is horrific at times, but ultimately, she’s triumphed.

Yes, it took a long time for Jelena Dokic to get to where she is… and that may frustrate some readers, who will see her making the same mistakes repeatedly. I notice some comments on Amazon are about how Jelena didn’t ask for help and/or denied the abuse, and the stories of abuse became “tedious” and “repetitive”.

I think it’s helpful to remember that people who are caught up in abuse don’t have the benefit of clarity. They have been conditioned to accept bad treatment from their abusers, who isolate them and swear them to secrecy by using shame, violence, and fear for other loved ones. In Jelena’s case, it was her beloved brother who served as a bargaining chip. If she didn’t cooperate with her father, she would lose contact with Savo. When abuse victims are in that kind of a bind, it can be especially difficult to break free from tyranny. Yes, it’s frustrating to watch obvious abuse when it happens, but getting away from abuse and “stepping out of the F.O.G.” is legitimately hard.

In any case, I think Unbreakable is worth reading. I’d give it four stars out of five.

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

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divorce, Ex, family, narcissists

Maybe Ex did me more than one favor…

Apologies in advance for yet another post about Ex. Now that Donald Trump is going to be back on mainstream social media, my fixation on her could be coming to an end soon. Or maybe not. After all, I’ve been married to her ex husband for twenty years, and I still can’t seem to move past the awesome fuckery of it all… Luckily, Bill is worth everything and more.

I’ve often said that Ex did me a favor when she divorced Bill. He’s the best friend I’ve ever had. We are disgustingly compatible, except in the mornings and the evenings. Case in point, last night at barely 9:00pm, Bill was sitting at the bench in our dining room, eyes closed, head leaned back, mouth open, and practically in a REM state. I was still quite wide awake.

This morning at 5:45 am…

He was really animated, trying to tell me about some film… He got annoyed when he realized I was taking a photo, but it was mainly because he’d inspired me, yet again.

I wasn’t quite awake at 5:45 am. I had just read a letter sent to an advice columnist in The New York Times. It was written by a second wife whose stepson was getting married. She and her husband had reached out to the bride’s parents, hoping to form a bond. Stepson discouraged her from contacting the bride’s mom. She soon found out why…

My stepson is getting married this year. His father and I embrace our future daughter-in-law and looked forward to meeting her family. I began corresponding with her mother and expressed our interest in flying out to meet them. My stepson discouraged this; he said they would be visiting our area soon. But we weren’t introduced to them when they came. Later, I received a call from his fiancée’s mother, who clearly mistook me for my husband’s ex-wife. She said she loved meeting me and referred to “the new wife” — me! — as “not blood.” At Thanksgiving, my stepson and his mother flew to visit his fiancée’s family and made lots of wedding plans, including for a rehearsal dinner for which we will pay half. How can we get past all these hurtful exclusions, some affecting our pocketbook? (I note: My husband’s relationship with his ex-wife is frosty.)

I hadn’t yet read the columnist’s advice as Bill went off on his early morning tear. I also hadn’t had any coffee, and wasn’t quite ready for Bill’s insane early morning energy. I did, however, see some of the crappy comments on Facebook regarding the situation in the advice column. Lots of people were projecting their own experiences in their reactions to this letter. Some people were downright mean!

I wasn’t focused on Bill’s early morning chatter, because my sleepy brain was still processing the advice column and people’s tone deaf comments regarding the situation. Stepmothers so often get a raw deal… even as I will admit some stepmothers deserve it. But not all stepmothers are assholes. Just like any other group of people, it takes all kinds. I saw a lot of people saying the stepmom in the letter was “whining”. Others wondered about the circumstances regarding how she and her husband got together. I notice that few people assume stepfathers are “the other man”, but stepmoms often get that assumption, especially if the first wife is still living.

I’ve mentioned before that more than one person has asked me if I caused my husband’s divorce. Um… that would be a NO. I had NOTHING to do with it. I didn’t know Bill when he and Ex separated. I didn’t meet him in person until almost a year after their divorce was final. And, thanks to Ex’s extreme parental alienation tactics, I didn’t have a chance to fuck up what was left of his daughters’ childhoods, either. I only saw them once when they were still kids. Meanwhile, Ex got her very generous child support in full and on time every month.

It’s not a secret that I’ve been pissed off at Ex forever for being such a hateful, mean-spirited cunt. Sorry… not a nice word, but in her case, it’s absolutely warranted. And I don’t feel that way just because she severely alienated the children, which was bad enough. I don’t even feel that way because she “invited” me to my own in laws’ house for Christmas. I feel that way because she abused Bill in ALL ways… including the ways that are too horrible and humiliating to mention.

Put it this way. If she were a man, she could have gone to prison for what she did. She absolutely could have gone to prison as a woman, too, but that would have meant admitting to being a sexual assault victim and reporting what she did to the police. It also would have meant seeing what she did for what it really was, which, at the time, was much too horrifying to ponder.

That all being said… and I am being totally serious, here. I do realize that there’s a certain freedom in being so alienated from my husband’s daughters for so long. The wedding scenario in the letter above will never be a concern of mine. Bill wasn’t invited to his daughter’s wedding, which I gather was not official, as younger daughter and her husband are devout Mormons and no doubt did the religious ordinance sans the “unworthy”. Younger daughter did tell Bill she’d wanted to invite him, even though she got married before they started speaking again. I guess she figured inviting Bill would be more trouble than it was worth. I doubt Ex and #3 were there for the temple sealing, as they are reportedly not temple worthy. I doubt they got that way for a religious ordinance.

Because my husband’s daughters were so alienated, there wasn’t too much drama coming at us from them. I remember when we first got married, Ex ominously wrote in an email that she would never want the children to get in the way of our relationship. And then she did all she could to make it so they rejected Bill. That decision was calculated to hurt us, and it did. However, instead of breaking us up, it made us a stronger unit. Twenty years later, we still laugh at each other. We still inspire each other. Younger daughter speaks to Bill, and is now getting to know him again. And, aside from that one Christmas fiasco, I’ve never had to worry about any weird or awkward situations involving weddings, graduations, baptisms or other family events.

It’s hard to think of this as Ex doing me a favor. The truth is, it was all very hurtful. I totally understand the letter writer’s pain. What makes it even worse is that society, in general, has no regard or empathy for stepmothers. We’re often seen as interlopers, at best. While stepfathers are often commended for “stepping in” for bio dads who weren’t there… whether or not the bio dads wanted to be, stepmothers “can’t win for losin’.”

Over the past twenty years, I’ve heard that my husband’s kids are “none of my business.” I’ve also heard that I “must love them as if they are my own children”. I’ve been asked if I broke up my husband’s first marriage. I’ve been told that I should regard younger daughter’s children as “my grandchildren”. I’ve only met younger daughter in person once, and that was twenty years ago this summer.

I don’t think the vast majority of people really stop and think about the many scenarios that cause subsequent marriages. This is a subject that is so personal and painful for so many that people tend to come up with a narrative that they apply to all situations. It’s a type of prejudice. Many people who hear that someone is a subsequent wife wonder how she became a subsequent wife. I guess we can thank fairy tales for that image…

Stepmothers are presented as money grubbing evil shrews with no feelings. The bio mom is always innocent and sweet. The stepmom is a selfish bitch who steals other women’s men from them. It’s laughable, in my case. I barely ever dated before I met Bill. I’m definitely not a man stealing hussy, although sometimes I legitimately can be a bitch. 😉 I try hard not to be a bitch unless a situation calls for it.

In my case, being a second wife has been a weird experience. My parents never divorced. In fact, there’s very little divorce in my family, as a whole. I don’t have stepparents, and never expected to be one myself. So, when Bill and I decided to get married, I optimistically figured I’d just do the best I could. Bill had warned me that his ex wife was a mean person. In fact, he once told me she would “rip me to shreds.” Maybe she might have done that, if I took anything she says or does personally.

I don’t take Ex’s behavior personally, because I know that it wouldn’t have mattered to her who Bill married. She would have been nasty to ANYONE. She saw (and probably still sees) Bill as her possession, even though she threw him away, and she would have resented any subsequent spouse. I’m just glad I can see that for what it is and feel quite free to tell Ex to fuck off. She deserves it. Being nice to her would not have changed the way she would have treated me. In fact, it might make her feel even more threatened. If I was a “Snow White” type, all sweet and kind, she would have probably been even more spiteful and jealous, like the wicked queen in the aforementioned fairy tale. Ex doesn’t like other people showing her up, and being determined to fake keeping sweet for the sake of optics would have probably made her behavior much worse.

My husband’s ex wife is so incredibly dysfunctional that there was never a hope of my having a normal relationship with Bill’s kids. She treats them like possessions, rather than people in their own right. Fortunately, younger daughter claimed her own self-determination. Older daughter, I fear, is going to stay stuck. I don’t think my situation is necessarily the norm. Most mothers aren’t as hateful and selfish as Ex is. They don’t wish for their children to be mistreated or disliked by others. Ex talks a good game about being a good mom, but her actions are opposite to what she says. I was never going to get a chance, no matter what. So, I never had to worry about my feelings getting hurt by being snubbed by younger daughter’s mother-in-law. But we also didn’t have to contribute money toward her wedding.

Of course, now that she’s talking to Bill again, younger daughter does get financial and other help from her dad on occasion. Bill gave his daughter and her husband some money for the deposit on the place where they are now living. To her credit, younger daughter offered to pay Bill back. Apparently, Ex would make her older kids pay her back for things, even as she’d happily take their birthday money to buy diapers for their younger siblings. Bill was horrified, and told her to consider the money a wedding gift. She was very grateful and thanked him profusely.

I think, if I were the stepmother in the above scenario, and my feelings were really hurt, I might consider having my husband go to the wedding alone. Then I’d hit a spa, take a short trip, or do something else fun for me. So many people were commenting that the stepmother should just step aside and know her place. I figure in a situation like that, my “place” might be outside the wedding venue, somewhere where I’ll be welcomed. But that’s just me. And, in fact, this was the approach I took in 2004, when Ex invited me to my in-laws’ house for Christmas. I stayed home, and Bill went to see his kids… for the last time, it turned out, until 2020.

If going to a spa is too self-indulgent or ballsy, then maybe the stepmom should just enjoy the wedding like any other guest. Don’t offer to help in ANY way, unless it’s specifically requested. Let the moms do the heavy lifting. And then, if the wedding gets too boring, cut out and go do something more interesting. It sounds to me like the stepson doesn’t like her very much, anyway. She married his dad, not him. Let Dad handle the bullshit. Stepmom can detach and please herself. Some will say this is a self-centered solution, but it doesn’t sound to me like the stepmom can win in this scenario. Either she cares too much, or not enough. So she might as well please herself.

I am a very lucky woman. My husband is wonderful. He’s kind, generous, reasonable, and adorable to me. He’s his own person. He accepts me for who I am. In fact, he even celebrates it. Bill told me this morning that he enjoys my outspoken personality, because I often say the things he’s thinking. He worries a lot more about offending people than I do, so we balance each other out. If I were more like him, I doubt our marriage would have lasted twenty years. People would be constantly violating our boundaries.

Below is the columnist’s advice… which I think was pretty sound:

I totally understand your bruised feelings. That phone call on which you were mistaken for your husband’s ex-wife sounds awful! I suspect the explanation lies largely in that “frosty” relationship between your husband and his former wife. Visits seem to have been organized to keep them apart and to prioritize your stepson’s mother. (I get that: I happen to be a mama’s boy myself.)

Now, your stepson certainly could have handled introductions more deftly. But ceremonial occasions — like “meet the parents” — can be tough for children of divorce if their parents are antagonistic. So, unless I am misreading this situation, try to forgive your stepson and take the long view: Life won’t end at the wedding! Getting to know your stepson’s in-laws may simply take longer than you expected.

As for splitting the costs of the rehearsal dinner — which I assume was acceptable until you were treated unkindly — I would stick with that plan. If my assumption is wrong or if the price exceeds your budget, speak up. But don’t make a fuss on principle. Letting the small stuff slide in favor of building better relationships is often a wise strategy. I hope it works for you and your husband.

Again… if it were me, I might consider making other plans for the wedding day. It would depend on the level of disrespect shown to me, and my husband’s feelings on the matter. I don’t enjoy getting into conflicts with people or going to places where people don’t want me around. Stepmothers have feelings, too, and I’m not one to show up for things just to promote the status quo. But that’s me… and my husband is the type of person who understands. My focus is my relationship with him, because I married him. The stepson in this case is an adult, and presumably intelligent enough to understand that his perspective isn’t the only one that matters.

I know a lot of people read my rantings about Ex and think I’m the problem. I’m being honest when I say that I married Bill because I love him. I always hoped to have a good relationship with his daughters. I was definitely willing. At first, I was willing to be cordial to Ex, too. She made it very clear from the beginning that she saw me as a competitor and an adversary. She didn’t want her daughters to get to know me, and did all she could to see that we never interacted without her close supervision. I’m not Ex’s ass monkey, so I opted out of the arrangement she unilaterally made for me without my input. I think, as an adult, I have the right to opt out of her plans for handling me. She made it abundantly clear that the kids weren’t “mine”, and she would heavily moderate any influence I might have. So I figured the best thing to do was to let her have HER kids. I had no rights to them, but neither did I have any responsibility.

Now Bill’s daughters are adults, and they can theoretically decide for themselves what’s best. I’m glad that younger daughter gave Bill a chance and is now able to bond with him. Maybe if more stepmothers saw themselves as wives first, there might be some less pain in these situations. But then, sometimes stepmothers really are second moms. Like I mentioned above, everybody’s got a story, and not all situations are the same. The right way to handle any situation depends a lot on the people involved. In my case, Ex is so toxic that it’s best to simply opt out to the extent possible.

I will say, though, that opting out of Christmas 2004 was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. She tried to punish me for doing that… I guess, assuming that Bill would resent me for the way Ex retaliated. But Ex is an adult, and responsible for her own actions. If she wants to try to punish me for not dancing to her tune, she can certainly try. I don’t accept her punishment. And it’s clear that she never knew Bill, nor did she ever love him. I do love him, and because I love him, he probably won’t be alone when he’s an old man. Ex, on the other hand, probably will be. And now that the kids are grown, I’m having a good laugh at her. 😀

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narcissists, religion, royals, social media, songs, videos, viral

“Let’s all get loaded and go to a tent revival!”

Last night, I happened to see a hilarious TikTok video on Facebook. Someone shared it in the Duggar Family News groupwhite people having a good old fashioned “praise break”. The TikTok user muted the original music and replaced it with “Linus and Lucy”, by Vince Guaraldi. It’s perfect, if you’ve ever seen A Charlie Brown Christmas. Incidentally, my beagle, Arran, reminds me more of Snoopy every day. Especially at dinner time.

We should all move when the spirit strikes us. Maybe if I did that, my beer filled spare tire would deflate a bit.

Someone in the group wrote:

When I was in college we often would get loaded and go to listen to the music at tent revivals. It was an enlightening experience. We did lose one friend, who while under the influence of LSD went up to be saved. He came back a fews days later…

Bwahahahhaha! I had a good laugh at that. It actually sounds like a great way to spend time with friends. I wish I had thought of that when I was young enough to appreciate the entertainment value of a good tent revival. Now that I’m as old as I am, I know that there’s more to religion than praising a higher power. It’s also a hotbed of corrupt people who want to control others.

Still, what a hoot it must be to watch a bunch of rhythm challenged folks catching the spirit and dancing like… well, very inhibited white guys. I’m not the greatest dancer myself, but I do think that’s something we should all learn how to do. Or, at least learn not to be ashamed when the mood strikes us to bust a move. I know… I’m sitting here laughing at white people dancing in church on TikTok. Maybe that’s hypocritical of me. The video would be much less embarrassing if these folks had not been taught to be so inhibited in the first place.

Sore-y guys. The party’s over.

Dammit, why didn’t I find this last month? Guaranteed to make you smile! That is, if you like banjo… and I do. Someday, maybe I’ll learn to play.

These guys are smokin’ hot!

I’m not sure what got me on this topic today. Currently, I am reading two new books. I don’t usually read two at a time, but one of the books is a good, old-fashioned, honest-to-God book. Bill usually falls asleep before I do, and I can’t read regular books in the dark. A couple of nights ago, after I finished reading Spare, I started reading a new Kindle book. The new Kindle book has literally been waiting years to be read. It’s actually a pretty compelling book, too, and not at all like the physical book I’m reading.

The physical book is a true crime story about two terrible murders that happened in Middlesex County, Virginia, back in 1990. The book is very good so far, although I’m having some trouble reading it, because the print is very small. It’s not available on Kindle, which is surprising. People are still interested in reading about this case. I am personally interested, because I grew up in neighboring Gloucester County. I remember when the murders happened. Hopefully, I will finish the book quickly, both because I’m eager to write about this crime, and because reading tiny print is hard on my eyes.

I will also probably write more dedicated posts about Prince Harry’s book, Spare. Maybe I’ll even do that today. I just decided that my first post of today should be different. A whole lot of people are writing reviews and making YouTube videos about Spare. I watched a couple of them yesterday. Reactions to Spare seem mixed. I would say more people like the book than don’t, with many people sympathizing with Harry and Meghan. However, a significant number of readers seem offended by Spare.

Sky News in Australia seem to think that Meghan Markle can “smell” weakness on King Charles III and is “out for blood”. Personally, I wouldn’t give her that much credit. If the British monarchy crumbles, it certainly won’t be because of Meghan Markle. However, the controversies raised by Harry’s book, coupled with the “woke brigade” and people who think the Royal family costs too much, could spell the end of the monarchy. I don’t know.

Personally, I wouldn’t call myself a royalist. I am simply a child of the 80s, and I grew up watching the British Royal Family because they were always in the news. Also, my earliest memories are of living in England. I will admit, though, that Queen Elizabeth II was an exemplary monarch, and it will be extremely difficult to follow her. She had an incredible devotion to service, and she was mostly very appealing to the public. I don’t think King Charles III can come close to his mother’s popularity. However, I do think William might, which is why I think he will eventually be King. Beyond that, who knows? I’ll probably be long dead by the time George could be King.

Harry’s book doesn’t do William any favors at all. Harry makes William sound like an asshole. He describes his interactions with William and Catherine, at least post marriage to Meghan, as tense and angry. He makes William sound unfriendly and intolerant, and Catherine sounds cold and snobby. I, for one, am taking Harry’s comments with a huge grain of salt, though. Because I think his wife is a liar, and is pushing an agenda. Also, I never heard of any of this type of behavior until Meghan came on the scene. Catherine, in particular, has never put a step wrong in public.

Sky News Australia is notoriously anti-Meghan and Harry. I take what they say with a huge grain of salt, because their coverage regarding Harry and Meghan has been very obviously biased and negative. However, if Meghan is really a narcissist, then we can expect a relentless smear campaign. That’s what narcissists do.

I hope Harry prepares, too. If he and Meghan ever have a falling out, she will use his book to cast him in a bad light. He was very frank in the book, with multiple revelations about mental health issues, drug abuse, and questionable behavior (wearing a Nazi uniform, anyone?). If they split up, and there is a custody dispute, it stands to reason that Meghan will point to that book as evidence that he’s not a fit parent. I hope it doesn’t come to that… but I still hear those pesky “N” chimes.

Well, I suppose it’s time to do some housekeeping chores and get back to reading my new books. In the spirit of getting loaded and going to tent revivals, may you all have a blessed Thursday. I encourage you to dance, but try not to emulate the kids on A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Bwaahahahahaaha!

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celebrities, narcissists, poor judgment, royals

What makes my “N” chimes ring?

Last night, I was plowing through more of Prince Harry’s “bombshell” book, Spare. As is my custom sometimes, I decided to share a few excerpts from the book for a few friends. I realize that a lot of people are already sharing excerpts from Spare. Now, having gotten through about 80 percent of the book, I know the bits being shared are mostly about Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle. No one seems to be sharing the rest of the book, which I’ve mostly found compelling and enjoyable.

I will probably finish reading Spare today. I might start a review today, or maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow. One thing I do know is that this book is probably going to spawn a few posts. I’m wading through Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle and it’s very triggering for me. Many of the behaviors he describes– from the rush of the early relationship, to the way he describes frequently finding her sobbing and inconsolable, to the way she bullies him into psychotherapy– are very familiar to me. They make my “N” chimes ring.

What are “N” chimes, you ask? “N”, of course, equals narcissism. Chimes alert us to something in need of attention. Yesterday, I wrote about my husband’s ex wife, whom I think is a narcissist. Actually, I am SURE she is a narcissist, but I’m not qualified to diagnose anyone, so I hesitate to make that statement. I also realize that I could be wrong. That’s one of the many differences between Ex and me.

Likewise, I don’t know for certain that Meghan Markle is a narcissist. If I’m to go only on what I’ve read in his book so far, Harry thinks Meghan is the most wonderful, fantastic person ever born. And if that’s really true, then I am very happy for him. He’s apparently found the perfect woman. But, I think we all know that perfect people don’t exist. So, the fact that Meghan can apparently do no wrong in Harry’s eyes is one of the loudest “N” chimes.

I started to get that familiar feeling as I read about how Meghan and Harry met. Leading up to that point in the book, Harry had written about other girlfriends. In the years before he knew Meghan, Harry dated Chelsy Davy, a lovely young woman from Zimbabwe. Of the women he writes about, Harry seemed most compatible with Chelsy, but they broke up over lifestyle differences.

There were several other women, to include Cressida Bonas, a friend of Princess Eugenie’s. According to Harry, those women either weren’t compatible or were frightened off by the paparazzi. Harry notes that Cressida, in particular, managed to get him to “open up” and cry, following the death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. But Cressida apparently wasn’t exciting enough for Harry.

Meghan, on the other hand, excited Prince Harry from the moment he laid eyes on her. The way he describes it, seeing Meghan on Instagram was kismet. Below is Harry’s description of seeing Meghan for the first time…

I was sitting around Nott Cott, scrolling through Instagram. In my feed I saw a video: My friend Violet. And a young woman. They were playing with a new app that put silly filters on your photos. Violet and the woman had dog ears, dog noses, long red dog tongues hanging out. Despite the canine cartoon overlay, I sat up straighter. This woman with Violet…my God.

Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Prince. Spare (p. 267). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Harry sees Meghan on Instagram. Boom! Cupid shot him straight through the heart. That theory makes my “N” chimes ring. It wasn’t an accident that Harry saw Meghan and his friend on Instagram. Oh, I suppose it’s possible, but I highly doubt that’s what really happened. In my experience, narcissistic types are experts at seduction. They seem to have a special talent for knowing what a person wants or needs. Just like the best cult leaders, they figure out what their victim is seeking and they deliver… or, they make it seem like they’re delivering. Harry thinks he fell in love by chance, but to me, it seems like the whole meeting was contrived. And Harry, poor lad, was ripe for the picking.

Just before he and Meghan met, Harry describes being at several house parties in Los Angeles. Harry was at Courteney Cox’s house drinking tequila and consuming certain controlled substances. He didn’t know Courteney before he turned up at her house. He had a “trip” in her bathroom– the toilet and the trash can both turned into “heads”, complete with mouths. The next day, he went to another party, where he was smoking weed and apparently enjoying other substances. He met the man who wrote “Genie in a Bottle” for Christina Aguilera and made lots of money. Then, after yet another party, he went back to Courteney Cox’s house, where he seemingly had another drug induced trip– one that he apparently thinks of as an “epiphany”, of sorts. From the book:

Then I stared directly at the moon. It was speaking to me. Like the bin and the toilet. What was it saying? That the year ahead would be good. Good how? Something big. Really? Big. Not more of the same? No, something special. Really, Moon? Promise. Please don’t lie to me. I was nearly the age Pa had been when he’d got married, and he’d been considered a tragically late bloomer. At thirty-two he’d been ridiculed for his inability or unwillingness to find a partner. I was staring thirty-two in the face. Something has to change. Please? It will. I opened my mouth to the sky, to the moon. To the future. Aaaah.

Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Prince. Spare (pp. 263-264). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Based on the above passage, I know that Harry was actively looking for a woman to marry. I’ll bet he was lamenting to his “mates” about being single, too. Violet was one of his friends. She probably knew he was looking for a spouse. Meghan was single and available, and Meghan was looking, too. And, if I’m right about Meghan, she probably clued into the fact that Harry was feeling undesirable. She’s also from California and has obvious show business ties, even though she was working in Canada when she and Harry met. Perhaps someone who was with Harry at those house parties said something about Harry’s despondency about being bereft of a wife.

It seems very plausible to me that some people worked behind the scenes to make sure Harry saw Meghan on Instagram. He seems to think it’s “kismet”, but somehow I doubt it was. Add in Harry’s liberal use of hallucinogens and tequila at house parties, and the theory of Harry as a target becomes even more plausible to me. This certainly wasn’t a case of “ask and ye shall receive.” Moreover, illegal drug use and excessive alcohol consumption in strangers’ homes isn’t exactly the stuff of good decision making. Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and taking it seriously when one gets a “message” from the moon, also seems like questionable judgment to me.

Later, Harry further describes how he felt when he first saw Meghan, and all he got from that first look at her on Instagram. From the book…

But this woman’s beauty, and my response to it, wasn’t based merely on symmetry. There was an energy about her, a wild joy and playfulness. There was something in the way she smiled, the way she interacted with Violet, the way she gazed into the camera. Confident. Free. She believed life was one grand adventure, I could see that. What a privilege it would be, I thought, to join her on that journey. I got all of that from her face. Her luminous, angelic face. I’d never had a firm opinion on that burning question: Is there just one person on this earth for each of us? But in that moment I felt there might be only one face for me. This one.

Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Prince. Spare (pp. 267-268). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Again, it sounds like Cupid shot Harry in the heart. He was smitten by Meghan, gobsmacked by her beauty and “wild joy”. He could tell “she believed life was one grand adventure.” Harry got all of that from an Instagram video! But he didn’t even know her. This was more akin to infatuation than love. He asked Violet about Meghan. From the book…

I sent Violet a message. Who…is…this…woman?

She answered straightaway. Yeah, I’ve had six other guys ask me.

Great, I thought. Who is she, Violet?

Actress. She’s in a TV show called Suits.

Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Prince. Spare (p. 268). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Meghan certainly is an attractive woman. It’s very possible that six other guys really did ask Violet about her. Telling Harry that six other guys had asked about her, especially since he apparently hadn’t asked, seems like a manipulative move to me. It’s as if Violet was warning Harry to act now, or forever lose his chance with Meghan. But at that point, he’d only seen a video of her!

It’s like a salesperson setting up the illusion of scarcity by telling consumers that supplies are limited. I’m reminded of Martha Inc., a made for TV movie about Martha Stewart. Martha was selling pies, but she only had a couple set out on her table. Sure enough, people quickly bought them. She then set out more pies, but only a couple. Martha was pushing the idea that the pies were in high demand and supplies were limited, so those pie seekers had better act fast, or risk losing out!

I sense a similar dynamic between Harry, Violet, and Meghan. Violet works for Ralph Lauren and probably knows a thing or two about sales. Harry was shopping for a wife. Meghan was shopping for a husband. Violet connected them, and told Harry that other men were also looking. It may or may not have even been true. But Harry clearly got the idea that “supplies were limited”; moreover, he’d already lost out on other attractive women. Harry was determined to act fast, so he wouldn’t miss out on hooking Meghan. And Meghan and Violet, being savvy about sales, probably realized that. Meghan, after all, is an actress, and she’s obviously had to “sell herself” to get roles. She’s done commercials. She gets the concept of sales.

Harry implies in his book that, before he met Meghan, he was aimless and despondent. He’d dated several beautiful young women, but none of them were “the one”. He was 32 years old, and had seen his friends find spouses. He remembered how his own father, King Charles III, was 32 years old when he finally married barely 20 year old Diana. People had made fun of Charles for being single for so long. Charles actually needed to find a wife, because he needed to produce an heir to the throne. He couldn’t marry Camilla back then, so he “settled” for Diana, who was completely incompatible. We now know how that worked out for him. Likewise, Harry worried that he would never find a wife, even though the pressure to marry was probably much less for him than it was for Charles.

Harry also explains that in the palace, married couples are more prestigious than single people are. From the book…

Behind all this hand-wringing about me was something more substantive than “tittle-tattle.” It went to the whole underpinning of the monarchy, which was based on marriage. The great controversies about kings and queens, going back centuries, generally centered on whom they married, and whom they didn’t, and the children who issued from those unions. You weren’t a fully vested member of the Royal Family, indeed a true human being, until you were wed.

Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Prince. Spare (p. 231). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

So, based on the above passage, it’s clear that Harry was feeling the pressure to find someone to marry. He wasn’t a “fully vested member of the Royal Family”, because he was single. I hesitate to agree with his assertion that his family didn’t see him as a “true human being” because he was unwed. But obviously, the point is, he felt he was getting too old to be single. He was desperate to find “the one”. Meghan showed up at the right time. Boom! Cupid magically fired his dart. Bullshit.

In my experience, when someone feels that kind of pressure, they become vulnerable to a quick sale. That’s actually how Bill and I wound up living in our last house. If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that in spite of the little voice in my head telling me to steer clear, we moved into a home in which the landlady was a bit narcissistic. We had to sue her to get our deposit returned. If we hadn’t been feeling so pressured to find a house, we might have avoided that situation. But we settled for a quick sale. Former landlady saw us coming… She told us other people were looking, which was probably a “white lie”. Other people probably were looking, but they’d wisely passed. Under different circumstances, we would have passed, too. Hopefully, next time, I’ll listen to that voice in my head.

Is Harry in a similar situation as Bill and I were back in 2014 (and Bill was with his ex wife)? Obviously, I don’t know Harry personally, so I don’t know for sure. But the signs are pretty clear to me. The “N” chimes are sounding. I’m very rarely wrong when I hear those chimes. I’ve ignored them before and been very sorry. Hopefully, I’m wrong in Harry’s case, because I don’t want him to be unhappy. I like Prince Harry, and I’m enjoying his book, even though I’ve learned more about his penis than I ever thought I would (more on that in a later post). Moreover, I don’t cheer for people to have bad relationships. I just know the signs and symptoms of manipulative behaviors.

Time to wrap up this post, although I am definitely not finished writing about Spare. I’m only writing about my “N” chimes because of last night’s discussion, and because I know I have friends who are apparently offended by my impressions of Harry and Meghan. I don’t mean to offend. I’m being honest about how I feel. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my dealings with abusive, manipulative, narcissistic people, it’s that they want their victims to suffer in silence. They thrive on secrecy. So I’m not going to be silent. If I’m wrong, I’ll say so and apologize. But unfortunately, I don’t think I’m wrong about this.

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