Germany, mental health, modern problems, narcissists, YouTube

Is America really as crazy as it looks from over here?

I recently mentioned that I stumbled across a couple of “Karen” channels on YouTube. And, in spite of my disdain for the derogatory hijacking of the name, “Karen”, some of the videos I’ve seen are like train wrecks. I was especially shocked by the video below…

This video actually shows several incidents, but the one that disturbs me the most is the one captured in the still above. It starts at 8:17.

As I was watching this video yesterday, I literally shrank back against the headboard on my bed. I’m disturbed by the sheer vitriol and rage pouring out of these people. Yes, the woman captured above seems angrier than the guy she’s talking to, but both are extremely distressed. I’m surprised this didn’t become a violent confrontation. Below are a few screenshots.

We do have some angry people in Europe, and there have been some unfortunate incidents of violence and rage reported. But it seems so much worse in the United States, especially given how many people own weapons. In fact, as I was watching this, I felt distinctly uncomfortable. I imagined the other people in that neighborhood being forced to listen to, or actually witness in person, this rage filled argument that was filmed and put on YouTube.

Later, I called my mom and we both lamented how crazy things seem lately. I swear, America is not like it was when I was growing up. People are acting like maniacs. I’m sure much of it is due to our political situation and the terrible polarization that has occurred over the past few years. The pandemic, and all of the new rules and restrictions don’t help. People are very stressed out and worried, and it seems like some people feel like the world is about to end.

I really think a lot of this behavior is driven by the pandemic. People resent the rules and restrictions, and the “holier than thou” and “entitled” behaviors that are prompted in response to the pandemic. Some people seem to have a very hard time adapting, and it doesn’t help that there’s all this doom and gloom news. Several of the incidents captured in the above video are about the mask rules and people not wanting to adhere to them.

I watched a video by Dr. Ramani yesterday. It was about “narcissists and transportation rage”– people who are freaking out on airplanes or in airports. She seems to think that the people who act like this are narcissists. I’m sure a lot of them are narcissists, but the sheer volume of people who are acting like this is disturbing. Are they ALL narcissists? Or are they stressed and scared people who have completely lost their ability to cope?

I know that some people are entitled assholes no matter what. But is everyone who is wigging out lately really a narcissist? I think everyone has a limit, and recently, Americans seem to be proving that their tolerances for frustration and adversity are not as high as they should be. On the other hand, life was pretty difficult even before the pandemic.

I remember having to work several part time jobs with no benefits just to get my bills paid. I remember being scared of the day when I couldn’t meet my own financial demands. I don’t even have children to worry about. Consider that so many people my age are dealing with their aging parents and children in college, or maybe they waited until later to have children and had one with “special needs” of some sort.

Those are stressful conditions under normal circumstances. Add in the pandemic and the hassles and fears associated with it, as well as inflation, lack of affordable housing, and the inability to take a vacation without being constantly reminded of the pandemic. Add in the challenges of taking care of younger children when schools close or go to distance learning, while meanwhile, your parents have dementia or require help taking care of their needs. Sometimes people just freak out because it all becomes too much. And then they get filmed and put on YouTube, where people mock them.

In some of these videos, both parties are acting atrociously. It’s obvious some of these people are fed up and stressed out, but some seem to be permanently unhinged and uncivilized.

I realize I am very lucky on so many levels. From where I sit, Germany is not nearly as chaotic as the US is right now. People are sick of the pandemic here, and there’s definitely some grumpiness. But I haven’t seen or heard of nearly as many people losing their shit as I have in the United States. Of course, in Germany, filming people and putting them online can lead to legal problems in a heartbeat. As a general rule, Germans are big on privacy.

My mom is 83 years old and still is pretty good health. She has enough money to take care of her needs, at least at this point. She is happy living alone, although she did say that she is probably going to move closer to my sister in North Carolina within the next year or so. But that’s mainly because the assisted living apartment where she’s lived since 2009 is getting too expensive. There’s another complex near Chapel Hill, where my sister lives, that is less pricey. She said she has to wait for someone to die before she moves. Apparently, there’s a long waiting list.

I know I need to watch some different videos on YouTube to change the algorithms of what ends up on my suggested videos list. I also need to change the algorithms on Facebook. Somehow, I get posts from Reddit Ridiculousness, where people share AITA (Am I The Asshole) posts. These posts usually consist of stories about people in certain situations that cause discomfort and questions about whether or not someone’s behavior ventures into “asshole” territory.

I will admit, some of the stories are pretty entertaining and/or interesting. But it’s hard to gauge whether or not someone is an asshole based only on an Internet anecdote, because you can only judge them by objective standards and whatever details they include in their stories. Not everyone has a way with words, so it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of a situation. You also have different personalities that come into play. Some people are better than others at hiding who they are, and some people have abrasive personalities, but aren’t necessarily assholes.

I know this, because many people assume I’m an asshole because of my many ventings about Ex. They assume she’s a “normal” person. I’m gratified, though, because now younger daughter talks to Bill and confirms that we aren’t the crazy ones. Aside from that, I’ve shared some of Ex’s public postings with a couple of friends, both of whom have expressed shock and dismay. If you don’t know her backstory, you’d never know that a lot of what she posts is a facade to try to look good. But then she’ll slip some things in that don’t go unnoticed by the astute. Like, for instance, her constant thinly veiled Twitter attempts to wangle money from celebrities.

Anyway… it’s been bizarre to sit over here and watch some of this stuff from afar. I am an American, but some of these videos make me feel kind of ashamed of that fact. I love my country, and I know that our people are capable of great things. But lately, it’s like everybody has gone off the deep end. And yes, it does seem worse there than it is here… although I did get flipped off in Austria a couple of months ago by a guy on a bike. I think the guy meant to flip off Bill, who was driving at the time, but I got the full brunt of his middle finger. I will admit that my instinct was to respond in kind. So I guess there is that. I probably wouldn’t have done that in Germany, though. Flipping people off, especially in traffic, is against the law. Why? Because finger gestures almost always make things worse and escalate situations that don’t need to be escalated. So does yelling, preaching, shaming, and flying off the handle. I feel like people all over the whole world, but especially people in the United States, need to take a deep breath.

Standard
condescending twatbags, narcissists, stupid people, videos, YouTube

The “Karen” channels: monetizing bad behavior on YouTube…

Yesterday, I got my third COVID shot. My arm is a little sore today. It was very sore yesterday, so this is an improvement. The sore arm is really the only side effect I’ve had, other than being a little chilled yesterday. I’m not sure if that was a result of the vaccine or a cold house. We turned up the heat and I felt better. My third shot, like the first two, was a Moderna vaccine. I wrote about the whole sordid experience on the travel blog yesterday. The one thing I learned is that the COVID lifestyle seems to have eroded my social skills.

After my vaccination “ordeal”, I came home and got in bed, which had nice, fresh sheets, then watched a couple of videos by my favorite YouTubers… and somehow, I ended up on a channel called Xenoshot. This channel features videos about people behaving badly in public. The guy who narrates the videos sounds like he’s channeling Donald Trump, complete with a disinterested, snarky, kind of snooty quality to his voice. To be honest, that vocal quality kind of turned me off, mainly because I think Donald Trump is the ultimate “Karen”.

I will admit, however, that a few of his videos are kind of interesting and entertaining… Like, for instance, the one below. I was especially glad to see it was about a man– I guess the male “Karens” are called “Kevins”. I have not made it a secret that I don’t like the trend of hijacking perfectly good given names to describe bad behavior. But I can’t deny that the woman in the below video got herself hooked up with a pretty terrible asshole. I would call him an asshole, though, not a “Kevin”.

She’s a pretty woman… she doesn’t need to give this guy another chance. What a psycho. He even got his mom to call.

I have noticed that most of this guy’s videos feature obnoxious women behaving badly. Below is one of the first videos I happened to see when it came on autoplay.

Actually, this makes me glad I’m not in the States. I think this behavior happens more often there than here.

The video below brought back flashbacks of my childhood in Virginia… not so much because of the yelling, but because of what the woman is wearing. Ugh… what a nightmarish situation. I would hate to have to live next to someone who acts like this. I don’t like neighbor (or landlady) drama.

This makes me want to move out to the woods. This one includes a lot of profanity.

Xenoshot’s channel led to other channels with similar content. I was suddenly reminded of my Italian friend Vittorio’s many frequent comments about the “weird-o-rama” culture in the United States. I’m sure that a lot of Germans would find this content amusing, but I can’t imagine a lot of people here acting like this here. For one thing, you can get in a lot of trouble filming or photographing people without their consent here.

And finally, there’s this lady, who called the cops because she didn’t like her son’s haircut. I like the barber, though. He seems like a nice guy. I got a kick out of his dialect. He sounds straight out of the northeast.

I can’t listen to too many of Xenoshot’s videos, mainly because his deadpan delivery is a turnoff. But, so is the channel’s content, which reminds me of just how out of control some people are in the United States. It also reminds me of how out of touch I’ve become with my own culture.

Seriously… I remember being in Europe the first time and feeling offended when Vittorio would comment on how strange the United States is. Now that I’ve been in Europe for seven years, I can totally understand how he came to that conclusion. And just to put things in perspective, Vittorio is a naturalized American and lived there for about 25 years. He moved back to Europe some time ago and married a German woman. I say, good on him for doing that. To be sure, Europe has its problems, but I can definitely relate to those who think the USA has a very odd culture compared to the rest of the world. It’s like a non-stop shit show.

I know for a fact that there are “Karen” types in Germany… even though I would never call them “Karens”. However, this is not behavior I see very often anymore. It actually makes a me a little scared of the prospect of moving back home someday.

So I think I’ll go mine for more mindless YouTube content…

Incidentally, I read that Jenna Ryan– Karen extraordinaire at last year’s insurrection– turned herself in to prison in Bryan, Texas on December 21, 2021. She’s already done a little over two weeks of her two month sentence. But she couldn’t enter prison without making a ridiculous comment comparing the treatment of “rioters” to treatment of Jews in Germany (I’m assuming during the 1940s). She whined:

“They’re making fun of my skin color. They’re calling me an ‘insurrection Barbie,’” she said.

“They have no idea who I am as a person, what my beliefs are, what I’ve been through, who I am,” she added. “They see me as a one-dimensional caricature. They don’t see me as a human.” 

“And so, that is the epitome of a scapegoat. Just like they did that to the Jews in Germany. Those were scapegoats. And I believe that people who are Caucasian are being turned into evil in front of the media.”

Are you serious, Jenna? Really?!

I’m all for trying to keep things in perspective when it comes to how the media spins a story. I am definitely against “mob mentality”. I don’t like “cancel culture”, and I totally believe that people should be allowed to redeem themselves. But Jenna repeatedly says and does ridiculous things, and justifies her very bad behavior. She is a very obvious narcissist, and narcissists are not good people.

What a dumbass.

I remember when Jenna Ryan made the news last year. She was promoting herself and her business very openly, as she also openly broke the law. And she and thousands of her Trump supporting “friends” did their best to overthrow the 2020 election results. Donald Trump LOST the election. He deserved to lose. And Jenna and her ilk had absolutely NO right to go against the will of the majority to try to keep him in office. She deserves to be in prison for what she did. It was a bad choice, and she should stop justifying her bad decision and the consequences that came out of it.

Comparing her situation to anything resembling what Jewish people in Europe faced 80 years ago is beyond ludicrous. Liberals haven’t been violently rounding up conservative voters and jailing or imprisoning them, simply for who they were, or their political or religious beliefs. They have been arrested and, in some cases, incarcerated, because they broke laws and put people in danger. And then I think back to what she said during her “two minutes” in the Capitol…

“You guys, will you believe this?” Ryan said on Facebook Live while inside the Capitol, according to the sentencing memo. “I am not messing around. When I come to sell your house, this is what I will do. I will fucking sell your house.”

Does this sound like someone who believes deeply in preserving the Constitution and maintaining the integrity of the election system? It doesn’t to me. Sounds like someone trying to make some money… and maybe a name for herself. She succeeded in making a name for herself, at least.

And then, according to NBC News:

On the Capitol steps, she declared that she was “tired of paying taxes” to “crooks,” prosecutors said in the memo. But she has not consistently paid her taxes over the years, according to the memo, and at the time owed $35,000 in back taxes. (She settled her debt in April.)

That doesn’t not even remotely sound like someone who cares about being a law abiding citizen. She’s just upset because she’s being held accountable and, rightly, is stuck in the federal jug for a few more weeks. She’s at a minimum security facility, too.

Was getting this photo worth it?

I won’t be surprised if Jenna doesn’t try to profit off her prison experience. She’ll probably write a book or something. People like her have no shame whatsoever. I’m sure she’s not 100 percent terrible. Few people are that awful. But I will say that in the year since I’ve “known” her name, she has shown incredibly bad behavior, extreme entitlement, some shockingly poor judgment and immense self-absorption. I truly hope she learns from her prison stint, but I have very slim expectations.

Anyway… I’m grateful that I don’t feel too poorly today. I usually vacuum on Thursdays, but I think I might wait until Saturday, which is when I plan to take down the Christmas trees. That will be messy, and I will need to get the vacuum out anyway, since the process of taking the trees down always results in dropped “needles” everywhere. And since vacuuming is basically a waste of time, I might as well save up my energy. Also, my arm does hurt a bit. Not a lot, mind you… and not as much as it did yesterday, but it is pretty sore. So I think I’ll fuck off and move on with the day. By tomorrow, I expect to be back to my old curmudgeonly self.

Standard
lessons learned, musings, narcissists

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth…”

Special thanks to singer-songwriter Facebooker extraordinaire, Janis Ian, who posted today’s featured photo on her Facebook page a day ago. I follow Janis Ian, but I’m not one to watch her obsessively. I think she’s often funny and thoughtful, but sometimes she’s a little too “woke” for my tastes. I know that comment might annoy some people. I know some people really think it’s cool to be super “woke”. I’m not there yet. I will probably never be there. I am definitely more left leaning than I once was, but I’m never going to be one of those people who is trying to be an “example” to others. Hell, I have enough trouble simply accepting myself as I am.

I do, however, see a lot of wisdom in Janis Ian’s recent “quote of the day” from an unknown source. There have been many times in my life when I’ve been left feeling terrible because of a regrettable exchange with someone. There have been times when I’ve said or done something that has upset or offended someone and have felt terrible about it forever. When that happens, I will self-flagellate, feeling like total shit, and withdraw from others. I think some people get the mistaken impression that I’m being a snob or that I feel like I’m “above” them in some way. That’s really not true at all. I just don’t like to feel like I annoy people. I feel like it’s better to stay home. This COVID-19 lifestyle, in some ways, is a good thing for me. I have a good excuse not to mingle.

From the time when I was a small child, I’ve gotten the message from important people that I wasn’t acceptable or “good”. Now… it IS true that some people love me for exactly who I am. Bill is one of those people. He doesn’t find me annoying at all. He never criticizes my laugh. He doesn’t tell me to lose weight or put on makeup. He doesn’t grouse about the fine layer of dust on the furniture or the fact that I can’t be arsed to get out of my nightgown if I’m not leaving the house. Instead, he’s kind and loving, and he never makes me feel like I’m worthless.

But even though my husband loves me for who I am and that makes me feel good, sometimes I do have trouble with my self-worth. I’ll give you a ridiculous “for instance”. Those of you who have been following me for awhile may know that Bill and I had some real trouble with a previous landlady. This lady seemed to have a real problem with me. She clearly didn’t like me, and seemed to judge me negatively for my lifestyle.

At first, her criticisms were couched in pleasantries and niceties. But, as time went on, she became more hostile and negative. I started to feel badly about myself. I remember feeling anxious, living in her house, as she would come over and I would watch her face as she took in the “appearance” of our house. It’s true, I am not an obsessive housekeeper, but I’m certainly not a filthy person. I don’t spend all of my free time polishing glassware, wiping down baseboards, or using a microfiber dust rag to clean the dust between the pipes on the towel warmer or heaters. I just can’t be bothered to be that detailed. It’s not worth my time. But I do empty the garbage, wipe down the counters, clean the toilets and shower, wash dishes, and do laundry. And I do vacuum, clean up the dog shit, and do other chores as needed.

However, she’s the type of person who would do those extremely anal retentive cleaning chores on a regular basis. I would see her expression darken when she noticed a pile of leaves that was left unswept. One time, I watched her aggressively shovel snow off the driveway. I had made a walkway for the postman, which was what was required, but since I wasn’t going anywhere and was feeling sick, I put off shoveling the whole thing. She came over, unannounced as usual, and got visibly pissed that I hadn’t done the whole driveway. I could feel her radiating disapproval. Naturally, that made me feel bad, because I don’t like to disappoint people. I resolved to make sure the driveway was perfectly shoveled after other snowstorms, even if I was sick.

Another time, she read me the “riot act” when she saw a “dust bunny” consisting of Arran’s hair that was caught in the doorway. She yelled at me that the hair was “encrusted”. Of course it wasn’t, and it took maybe two seconds to wipe it up. I hadn’t noticed it because it really was insignificant, but she saw it and freaked out. Then she screamed at me about it, and even mentioned it in an email to Bill. She asked him at one time if we’d like her to find us a housekeeper, nastily adding “Don’t you want to live in a clean house?”

Wow… I’ll tell you what. The very LAST thing I would want is to hire a housekeeper that she found for us. Especially since it later became very clear that she wasn’t respecting our privacy. Aside from that, she wasn’t living in the house, so I didn’t feel that I needed to keep the house cleaned to her standards. Especially since we were paying her too much for the “privilege” to live there. And also, the house wasn’t that clean when we moved in, but then she and former tenant were “buddies”. I guess she got a pass.

Now, a lot of people might tell me that I should just ignore those comments, but I genuinely felt bad when she’d send Bill emails about my deficiencies as a housekeeper. I felt terrible and, at first, very ashamed, when she would yell at me for things that she felt weren’t “up to snuff”. I didn’t know what her standards were when we moved in. If I had known, we certainly would not have taken that house.

But, at least at first, I really tried to do things more to her standards. I dutifully cleaned the white plastic panels on the new doors she’d had installed. They were exposed to the elements and doomed to become discolored at some point, but I knew she wanted them to look nice, even if no one would care about that but her. She asked me more than once to clean them off regularly, so I did. I would attempt to clean the windows in the living room, so she wouldn’t freak out about the nose prints left by our dogs. I would try to be presentable, at least when I knew she was coming. And I tried to be cordial. For a long time, I was as pleasant as I could be, even when she inconvenienced me by showing up randomly or was intrusive.

One day, she reached the end of my patience by screaming at me in the living room about an awning that had collapsed on my watch. It was seventeen years old. I had pointed it out to her that the thing was leaning. She had her husband “fix” it. It appeared to be repaired, so I used it a few times after he did the work. On one very hot day, a gust of wind blew, and the awning collapsed.

Fortunately, I was not sitting under the awning when it collapsed, although ex landlady claimed that the fact that I wasn’t sitting under it was a sign of my “gross negligence”. She immediately blamed me, and yelled at me in my own home, not just for the awning that she failed to have properly repaired, but also for the fact that one of the electric rolladens was not properly installed and would not go down. She claimed it wasn’t working properly because I didn’t use it often enough, even though a repairman later said it wasn’t installed correctly. She had no thought at all for the fact that I could have been seriously injured or perhaps even killed if that seventeen year old awning that she hadn’t fixed properly had fallen on my head. Instead, I was the one who was “negligent” for using a supposedly “fixed” awning on a hot day and not being able to predict the wind.

It may be hard to believe, but I did feel bad that the awning fell on my watch. I knew money was an object for the landlords. I was sensitive to their not wanting to spend money. I didn’t object when she had her husband fix it instead of a real repairman. But I was not willing to accept the claim of negligence when I used something that was part of the house on a hot day, as she and her husband had actually said was appropriate use. All I did was unroll it. I wasn’t hanging on it or playing on it or anything like that. And sorry, I can’t predict the wind. I don’t think I’m “negligent” for not being under the awning when it suddenly fell. I think I am damned LUCKY. So is she.

After that exchange, Bill asked her not to speak to me about her concerns. That seemed to piss her off even more, since apparently I made for a convenient scapegoat for her frustrations. But she did leave me alone, for the most part, probably because she could tell I was frighteningly close to losing my shit the last time she yelled at me. I think she could also tell that I could easily match her in intensity and nastiness, if I was really pushed to go there.

It may seem hard to believe, but I genuinely felt terrible when things went wrong. By the time I left that house, I really felt pretty awful. She had done a good job making me feel “guilty” about how “terrible” I am. Even though I was LIVID by the way she treated Bill and me– especially me— the truth is, her comments made me feel bad about myself. I wondered if she was right that I’m a shitty housekeeper and a lazy, worthless person. She didn’t actually say those words to me, and yet that was the message I got– repeatedly.

It took weeks in our current home before I finally felt comfortable. I was anxious for so long, expecting her to come over and complain about some aspect of my housekeeping that displeased her. I knew that she was not our landlady anymore, but yet I expected our new landlord to be like her. I dreaded talking to him because of her. She did real psychological damage to both of us. She falsely accused us of theft and trashing her house, and when Bill asked for a fair accounting of why she was keeping most of our security deposit, she became hostile, nasty, and really laid on the shame and guilt in an attempt to get him to back off. It was absolutely infuriating, especially since Bill is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and is generous, respectful, and fair to a fault!

I think of so many people whose homes I’ve been in that were genuinely dirty and cluttered far worse than mine ever was. I think of all of the people I know who would have blown up with profanities at ex landlady the first time she yelled at them. I think of the people who would think nothing of paying rent late, or not at all. And then I think to myself… “I’m the worst tenant she’s ever had? Really? She’s been lucky.” Karma will fix that.

What she was doing was egregious bullshit… and I can’t help but wonder if we’d been less “nice” and “kind” about her blatantly disrespectful behavior, maybe she might not have so blatantly tried to take advantage of Bill’s good nature. Like, maybe if I’d given into the instinct to yell back at her, she might have not been so totally horrible to us, and we might not have had to sue her. Even after a settlement was reached, it still took months and a nastygram from our lawyer before she finally gave us our money.

But we were both trained to accept abuse. I have a much lower threshold than Bill does, but I still have the capacity to overlook bad behavior in the interest of keeping the peace. Maybe that’s not a good policy. I have already told Bill that I don’t ever intend to tolerate that kind of living situation again, but the truth is, sometimes you kind of have to… a lot depends on money, doesn’t it?

Now I am mostly recovered from that experience, aside from some residual anger. There are scars, of course, and I think it’s a pretty fair bet that I won’t be forgetting her. But I realize now that her apparently very negative opinions of me don’t necessarily reflect reality, nor do they apply to how others see me. No matter what, I have basic worth, just as everyone does. Even the worst people in the world usually have at least one person in their lives who love them on some level. And that is as true for me as it is for most people.

There have been other instances in my life where I have left a situation feeling awful about myself. I recently wrote about ghosts of traumatic Christmases past. One of the reasons I swore them off is because so many of them left me feeling horrible. I had to detox from the toxicity for days or weeks, ruminating about the dramas that would erupt among so-called loved ones. All I ever wanted was to live in peace, on my own terms, and as my authentic self. If other people can’t stand me, so be it. But so many people want to change their friends and loved ones, not recognizing their worth and uniqueness. If one has a conscience or any sense of shame, this can be devastating to one’s self-esteem and self-image.

I think this is a skill that is essential for living, learning to accept oneself for being a unique person and having basic worth. But, as we’ve seen, especially since the pandemic started, people are really BIG on judging and shaming others. Judging and shaming people, lecturing them, and not trying to empathize with them is a great way to alienate them and cause them to be even more entrenched in their beliefs. A lot of the judging behavior comes from frustration, of course. In terms of the pandemic, we’re all tired of hearing about sickness and death, being subjected to restrictions, rules, and talk of overwhelmed healthcare facilities. Many people are truly frightened, especially those who have lost loved ones and friends to the sickness.

I’ve read so many comments from people who say that they have no more empathy. They have no more patience. And when someone dies of COVID, especially if they were unvaccinated, some of them even LAUGH about it. I guess I can understand why people feel like that and act that way, but I don’t think that attitude does anything to change behavior or inspire cooperation. People tend to focus more on their egos and injured pride than the frustration and despair that drives some of the more judgmental behaviors. I’m as guilty of that as a lot of people are, although I try not to be that way. I just don’t think it helps. We’re all human, though…

I’m even sure that, on some level, our former landlady believed the lies she told herself. Or maybe, from her perspective, we really are filthy, dishonest, thieving, unhygienic people who don’t respect other people’s property. But no one else has ever said that about us. And our current landlord has cheerfully told us we’re welcome to stay as long as we want. That’s a nice vote of confidence.

I felt good yesterday when I fixed the faucet in the downstairs bathroom all by myself. It was easy to do. But as I was doing the work– descaling the tap with white vinegar and removing the calcium buildup that had blocked the spigot– I couldn’t help but think of the way the landlady made comments that were intended to make me feel small, negligent, and incompetent. I know that they weren’t a reflection of reality. It was gaslighting, intended to make me more inclined to accept her abuse and her assessment of me and my “shortcomings”.

Fortunately, I’ve already been through therapy. 😉 It’s hard to believe we paid over $2000 a month for that treatment from the former landlady. We should have “fired” her after the first year. Life is short. Lesson learned.

Quote Investigator says that Twitter user debihope apparently constructed this popular quote, which has been falsely attributed to Sigmund Freud and William Gibson, among others.

So… if you take anything valuable from today’s post, I hope it includes the idea that other people’s apparent negative views of you might not be rooted in reality. In fact, they may be their attempts to train you to accept their abuse. Take their comments and opinions for what they’re worth… definitely with a grain of salt. Do what you can to protect yourself, and protect your sense of self-worth. After all, as Janis Ian shares in an unattributed quote, “Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth…” Wise words indeed. Don’t forget them.

Standard
Ex, family, rants

This letter in Carolyn Hax’s column really hits home…

This post has brought out some of my deeply ingrained, still raw anger toward Ex. It comes out in this post, and there is profanity… Proceed with caution. And please, if any readers feel compelled to lecture me about how inappropriate my anger is, do me a favor and buzz off. My anger is perfectly reasonable and justified, and I can write about it on my blog if I want to. That’s what blogs are for.

As some readers know, I like to read advice columns. One column I read fairly regularly is Carolyn Hax’s. I think she’s very sensible and gives good advice. A recent letter in The Washington Post gave me pause. Here it is.

Dear Carolyn: We never spent time with my dad’s extended family, but one of his siblings and I have a lot of similar interests. I emailed her once to ask something, and we now exchange emails regularly. We haven’t spoken since I was a teen and I’m in my 30s now.

My parents are Not Pleased. My mom is actually really upset that I am talking with her; in high school she made me stop talking to her completely. My father just tells me she will eventually hate me, give it time, she’s a horrible person and not really interested in me at all.

Let’s skip over the emotional baggage that comes from all the times my parents told me people have no interest in me and are just using me. There’s clearly something that really bothers my mom but she won’t openly discuss it with me, so I can only guess what the issue is. I would not be surprised if my mom actively sabotaged my relationship with this person in ways I don’t know about when I was younger, and now she’s afraid it’ll come up.

Am I wrong to continue talking with her?”

I was glad to see that Carolyn gave this writer good advice (in my opinion). She reminded the writer that she’s in her 30s, and she has the right to speak to anyone she wants. If her parents have a valid reason to discourage the connection, they need to explain themselves honestly. And even then, it should be up to the letter writer, who is in her 30s, for God’s sake, to make the choice as to whether or not she should speak to her relatives.

If you have followed my blog for any time, you probably know why I feel the way I do. It’s mainly because my husband and his daughters were estranged for many years. Ex wanted to punish Bill for agreeing to her divorce demands, so she sabotaged his relationship with his daughters. That was absolutely wrong for her to do, although it was not surprising that she did it. She did it to her first husband, too. Then, she claimed that both of her ex husbands were awful people and she was simply protecting the children from their “shitty fathers”.

In the one and only email I ever sent to Ex, I explained that if she was being truthful about her exes being shitty fathers, then she clearly has bad judgment terrible taste in men, and she should not have married a third time and had more children. Every time she divorces, she forces her kids to be estranged from their fathers and their families. That’s very hard on them, and totally unfair. If she was really as good of a mother as she claims she is, her focus should have been on raising her “traumatized” children, and helping them recover from her poor choices in fathers for them. Otherwise, she’s just a liar, and is simply being spiteful and mean. And that makes her a shitty, toxic mother. Having been married to Bill for 19 years, I know, without a doubt, that Bill is definitely not an irresponsible father, as Ex tried to make him out to be. His ex wife just hates her exes more than she loves her kids.

When a person becomes an adult, they have the perfect right to make their own choices. But having parents who impose their petty bullshit grievances with other people on their children, simply because they’re their children, and they demand “loyalty” from their children, can cause making those decisions to be difficult. I know Bill’s daughter didn’t summon the courage to speak to Bill until she was about 23 years old and married. And even then, she was terrified to speak to him, even though she remembered him to be kind and loving.

Bill and his younger daughter missed out on about twelve precious years together, all because Ex imposed her hateful craziness on her own children. Younger daughter could have lost Bill forever when he went to Iraq, or when 9/11 happened. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and now they can bond. Younger daughter is also talking to her grandmother again, after Ex tried to ruin that relationship. Younger daughter and MIL have a lot in common, and they clearly love each other. They never should have been forced into estrangement simply because of Ex’s manipulative and toxic ploys.

I remember when younger daughter and Bill started talking again. She said she didn’t want to tell her mother about it. She said it would be an “unhappy conversation”. Ex eventually did discover that younger daughter and Bill were in contact. Quite predictably, Ex gave younger daughter a ration of shit, telling her that Bill had really “hurt” her and that the divorce was “so painful” for her.

But Ex is the one who initiated the divorce in Bill’s father’s house over Easter. She’s the one who shacked up with #3 in a house Bill paid for. She’s the one who practically forced Bill to join a restrictive, culty religion, and caused him extreme financial distresses in the forms of bankruptcy and foreclosure. She’s the one who tried to ruin his relationship with his family of origin. And she is the one who sexually assaulted him. She has some nerve claiming that Bill ever “hurt” her. She was not the one who was left with literal scars in private areas of her body.

I think it’s interesting that Ex seems to have absolutely no concept of how painful it was for Bill to be divorced, forced to pay her half his salary for years, and was STILL prevented from having a relationship with his daughters, whom he has always loved very much. There was no reason why Bill should have been denied visitation with his daughters. I have often wish he’d taken her to court and either forced her to comply, or taken custody of them. But he allowed her to leave his finances so depleted that that option was out of the question.

Ex told outrageous lies about Bill to those girls, and even forced them to write hateful letters to him, disowning him. Yes, I am still pissed off about it. I was there to witness the pain she inflicted with her lies and vengeance. She lied about me, too, and made me out to be a horrible person… or maybe just a whore. And yes, I know the truth about myself, and I know that being angry about what’s already done isn’t productive. But I can’t help it. Reading letters like this one bring up the pain again, and piss me off anew.

Older daughter is still estranged, and continues to miss out on knowing her wonderful father. Maybe older daughter wouldn’t think he’s as wonderful as I do, but she’s never tried to find out for herself. She just takes her mother’s word for it. And, you know what? It’s her loss. All I can do is hope she’s happy.

It’s hard to tell why the letter writer’s parents have such an acrimonious relationship with the writer’s extended family. Whatever it is, it’s obviously between the parents and the relative, and the letter writer has never been clued in to what happened. Seems to me the parents need to come clean and offer a *rational and provable* explanation as to why there is so much strife, if they expect their daughter to consider heeding their wishes.

If they aren’t willing to explain what the problem is, then she should tell them to mind their own business. I did that with my own dad when he tried to involve himself in my personal affairs. It was very liberating for me, and shocking for him.

Either way, the letter writer should still initially proceed with caution, in case there was a good reason for the split. But my guess is that the rift was due to someone being stubborn, offended, or just plain petty. And there’s no reason why an adult should be compelled to choose a side in a situation like this one, especially when the person who is imposing the shunning can’t or won’t offer an explanation.

I also don’t think there’s any reason why the writer’s parents need to know who she talks to, particularly if she isn’t living in their home. It’s simply none of their business.

I wish this letter writer well. I understand her dilemma. It sounds like she’s doing some healing within her family, which is a great thing to do. She may find that reconnecting with this long estranged extended family member brings her much joy, and new insight into her own origins. As an adult, she has the perfect right to seek this healing and potential joy. Her parents need to butt out… or, as I frequently like to put it in my profane way, they need to fuck off.

Standard
Duggars, Ex, narcissists, psychology

“You’re not disloyal when you change…”

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might know that I’m a big fan of Dr. Les Carter’s excellent YouTube channel, Surviving Narcissism. This channel, which he runs with narcissistic abuse survivor, Laura Charanza, is all about healing from narcissistic abuse. I’ve read and reviewed several of Les Carter’s books, and Bill and I have both gained insight from watching his videos. Dr. Carter has a calm, friendly, reassuring demeanor, and while I don’t know if he’s still engaged in private practice in Texas, I do know that he’s helped so many people by being available on YouTube.

All of the recent drama involving the Duggar family has really caused me to reflect on the real damage that narcissistic parents do to their children. While it’s impossible to know when Josh Duggar really started going off the rails, or whether or not his deviant attraction to harming children is something natural or nurtured, what is very clear to me is that Josh and his siblings no doubt suffered abuse from their parents. It’s easy to see that Jim Bob Duggar has narcissistic proclivities. He clearly runs that family like his own mini cult, and there are a lot of conditions set upon the children. The ones who don’t toe Jim Bob’s line are pretty much cast out of the family.

Jim Bob has a public persona that is carefully crafted to fool people. He comes off as “nice”, albeit very much in charge. But behind closed doors, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s got a very different personality. And children who grow up under the control of someone as controlling as Jim Bob clearly is, will definitely struggle as they become adults. The public can see this phenomenon in action as the oldest Duggar children are breaking free of Jim Bob’s mini cult. I noticed that Joy Anna Forsyth appeared to be extremely distraught last week during Josh’s trial. It was as if she was finally learning some truths that she found overwhelming and upsetting. But I think it’s important to understand that she grew up in a family system in which information was tightly controlled and filtered. And now, she’s realizing that she’s been kept in the dark and fed a lot of shit for years.

Dr. Carter explains how narcissists who are parents can hurt their children by sharing their pain in abusive ways.

Yesterday, Dr. Carter visited an interesting topic on his channel. The video, titled “How Narcissists Transfer Their Pain Onto Their Children” really hit home for me as I watched it this morning. All of the familiar tactics narcissistic parents use to desperately maintain control of their children were spelled out in Dr. Carter’s video. Then, he explains, in a comforting and kind way, that adult children have the power to make changes. They can make their own choices, even if it feels like they can’t. They just need to find the courage to do it. It’s not unlike the discovery Dorothy makes in The Wizard of Oz, when she’s told that all she has to do to go home again is click her heels three times. She always had the power. She just had to find the courage to use it.

Of course, making adult choices means living like an adult. And that can be extremely hard to do when you’re an adult child of a narcissist. First off, children who are raised by narcissists are never taught healthy ways to enforce boundaries. They are subjected to abuse, which can encompass everything from verbal rages to physical blows, as well as mind games, threats, and using other people to promote agendas. I would imagine that in a family like the Duggars, there were plenty of mind games played– tactics meant to keep everyone off balance and unsure of their place. Children who grow up with that kind of a family system never learn to trust themselves, and after awhile, they become numb to the abuse, which only sets them up for more of the same treatment.

Secondly, children who are raised by narcissists are taught that if they try to go their own way, they’re “disloyal”. Narcissistic parents are in a lot of pain, and misery loves company. So the narcissistic parent will do all they can to make the children feel like they can’t leave that system. They will try to make their children feel incompetent. If that doesn’t work, they will call into question their children’s love and loyalty. Children raised by narcissists who don’t become narcissistic themselves will feel guilty if they move away from that system. Their parent(s) may accuse them of abandoning them or being disloyal. But one of the first things every child should learn is that they should always be loyal to themselves, first. And if changing is a healthy thing to do, they should be able to do it without being made to feel guilty.

Jim Bob Duggar controls his children– especially the adults– by holding things like money and housing over their heads. In the wake of Josh Duggar’s conviction, we’ve seen several of the children make statements. It’s very telling which of Jim Bob’s adult children are free of his financial constraints. They are the ones who are making it clear that they condemn Josh’s actions. The children who are still depending on Jim Bob have to be publicly loyal to him. They aren’t allowed to criticize their brother or their father. I am sure the most important Commandment to Jim Bob is “Honor thy Father and they Mother”– especially thy father. Katie Joy, of Without a Crystal Ball, covers this topic regarding the Duggars.

Joy Anna is not dependent on Jim Bob anymore.
But Jessa still is…

As many readers also know, my husband was married to a woman whom I very strongly suspect is a narcissist, and she has five children who have been subjected to her abuse. For years, my husband was prevented from speaking to his daughters. One of the daughters broke free from her mother’s grip and moved clear across the country from her. They are still on speaking terms, but it’s pretty obvious that she’s learning the truth about what happened. Likewise, Bill is also learning about what happened during the time he wasn’t in contact.

My husband’s older daughter still chooses to live with her mother. My guess is that she does it because she feels like she must. I think she’s been led to believe that she can’t survive on her own. But she also takes care of her profoundly autistic younger brother, because Ex doesn’t do it. I suspect that she might speak to Bill if circumstances were different. I met her, and she struck me as a very loving person. I think she mainly doesn’t connect with Bill because she knows that Bill is strong enough to survive. He isn’t alone. He’s got me, his mother, and his younger daughter. I think she might also fear facing up to the fact that she and her siblings have been controlled, lied to, and abused by their mother. I know from personal experience that recognizing that someone has abused you can lead to anger and depression. It’s not a nice feeling to realize that you’ve been victimized. I suspect that older daughter might wish to spare herself that pain.

Also, if older daughter was to leave her situation, her brother could suffer the consequences. It would legitimately cause serious problems for him, and for Ex, because older daughter reportedly does all of the work. It’s possible that she can’t live with the potential guilt of forcing her mother to take care of her own son. I think she also legitimately feels for her mother, too, even though she really should be focused on living her own life on her own terms. She’s an adult, though, and that is her choice to make. I just wish she understood that all she has to do is click her heels– pick up the phone– and there are people who would gladly help her get out of her predicament. Bill would be at the front of the line. Again– she should be loyal to herself before all others, because she is the only one who has to live with herself and her decisions.

I highly recommend Dr. Carter’s video to anyone who has known the pain of growing up with a narcissistic parent. Adult children of narcissists have been raised to believe that they aren’t their own people. They have been raised to act as objects– tools to be manipulated and used by their narcissistic parents. Children lack the ability to control what happens to them, but adults can deviate from the paths they are set upon. It just takes courage and some planning, and the knowledge that choosing one’s own path can be painful. I’m sure that Jim Bob’s adult children who aren’t kowtowing to him anymore are denied access to their younger siblings, who are still trapped in the Tinkertoy Mansion. With every passing day, total freedom is closer– because eventually narcissists lose their psychic fiefdoms. Either it crumbles very publicly, as it is for Jim Bob right now, or it ends because the narcissist eventually becomes incapacitated or dies.

No one should have to wait until the death of a narcissist to reclaim control of their lives. I would love to see some of the independent Duggar siblings completely break free and start their own family traditions, perhaps even with each other. There’s nothing to say that they have to tolerate control from their parents– or really, their dad. They’re adults, and those of them who don’t rely on Jim Bob’s money can do whatever they want, within legal boundaries, anyway. It doesn’t make them bad people to live their lives on their own terms, either. It makes them healthy adults.

Standard