dreams, family, music, narcissists

Welcome to my nightmare… (with special thanks to Dolly Parton)

Warning– this is a rather personal rant… It may not be of any interest to people who don’t know me. Or, on the other hand, maybe some of you strangers can relate. Either way, I won’t accept any nasty or shaming comments from anyone who doesn’t know the backstory.

I had a bad dream this morning, just before I woke up. I feel pretty sure I know what prompted the nightmare, much of which I was able to remember. I haven’t historically paid a lot of attention to my dreams, but since Bill started studying Carl Jung, who was very much into analyzing dreams, I’ve been trying to pay closer mind to my own dreams. Bill likes to analyze them. Since I’m also a born storyteller, it makes sense that I’d pay mind to the “movies in my head”, even if they’re horrifying.

Perfect mood music for this post… and one of Dolly’s latest songs off her brand new album.

Here’s what I remember from this morning’s dream. I had just arrived at my alma mater, Longwood University. Or, that’s what I assumed, even though it didn’t look like Longwood’s campus. I was there with my roommate, a non-descript female. I was on basically friendly terms with her, but we weren’t best friends or anything. We were walking around the campus. It was hot and dusty, and in a weird way, the campus kind of resembled an open air airport terminal (no idea why). Maybe it’s because my adulthood took off from my years at Longwood.

We passed a business that looked like an airport bar, except there was no roof. My roommate needed to use the restroom, so we parted ways, and I was left alone. I decided to take a shortcut across campus. I was dressed in my usual outfit during my college days… shorts and a t-shirt, with tennis shoes.

Just as I was about to head into a hilly, wooded area, a huge, fat, anaconda type snake streaked out in front of me. It didn’t stop; it raced past with astonishing speed. It was quickly followed by another anaconda that was just as fast and slick. One might expect a person to pause continuing to walk into the woods after seeing two huge snakes. For some reason, I continued onward, in spite of being startled by the snakes.

I took a deep breath and stepped beyond the trees of the dusty street where I had been walking with my roommate. After I’d walked a few steps into the woods, I noticed there was a lot of detritus and junk in the woods. It was kind of trashy and uncultivated, with a lot of sticker bushes and weeds. It was not an area where a lot of people walked, but obviously, people threw a lot of trash in there. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to try to take a shortcut that way, but then I suddenly got this feeling of dread and danger…

What do you know? I swear, this is the first time I’ve heard this song… but it fits right in with what happens next in my nightmare.

As I was about to take another step, I was confronted by this very attractive woman in a long dress made of black satin. She had jet black hair and very pale skin. Her hair was perfectly arranged in a poofy bun. She wore bright red lipstick. The woman in the featured photo looks a little like her, except the woman in my dream had much paler skin and didn’t have bangs. Her face looked a bit more like the photo of Carmen Miranda, below… She was very attractive, but was also clearly evil and toxic. She immediately started attacking me.

Carmen Miranda kind of looks like the woman in my dream, minus the smile and sequins.
Based on my dream, I share this trait with Dolly…

I started fighting back. The woman in black gave a good fight, but in the end, I killed her with my bare hands. There was a lot of blood, and despite the fact that she fought back vigorously, it wasn’t actually that hard to kill her. As she surprised me with her attack, I found some kind of superhuman strength I didn’t know I had in me. And while I felt some pangs of regret at killing this attractive, beguiling, but very dangerous woman, I felt kind of vindicated and exhilarated…

She looked like her, except her hair was black, and in a bun.

Then I was attacked by a second woman. She seemed to be the sister of the first woman. She had a similar hairstyle– jet black hair in a bun, red lipstick, and a bun. But she wore a red sequined dress. I killed her with my bare hands, too. It was easier to vanquish the woman in the red dress, though no less bloody or horrifying.

I stepped out of the wooded area, breathless, panicked, and terrified. I am not a violent person at all, but I killed both of these women with surprising speed and strength fueled by rage. Of course, they attacked me first. But there I was with blood on my hands, having dispatched these attackers with my bare hands.

Then I woke up…

I told Bill about the nightmare, and together we figured out what it was probably about. Yesterday, we discovered that Ex, older daughter, and Ex’s daughter with #3 all went to see Bill’s stepmother this week. Ex just had a birthday, and has been clamoring for money in a crowd funder. At this writing, she’s managed to raise $500… but it was her own money that was contributed. She claims she needs the money to build a fence for her youngest child, a teenaged boy with severe autism. According to her fundraiser, the boy can’t go outside without at least three people surrounding him, because he runs away and winds up in dangerous situations or meets with “inappropriate people”– ie; homeless people, when he’s not wearing anything but his underwear. I swear, this is a story we’ve heard from a couple of good sources. I don’t know where the boy is right now, with his usual “caretakers” away from home. Maybe #3 is taking time off work, or they found a place to put him. Evidently, he did not go on the trip with Ex and two of her daughters.

Anyway… I figure that Ex decided to visit Bill’s stepmother, because she’s trying to maintain ties to Bill’s family, not because she loves them, but because she wants to exploit them. And Bill’s stepmother is an immature, needy person who will quickly condemn or forgive people on a whim. So, while Ex refused to let Bill’s daughters have a relationship with him, or his parents, she would, on occasion, let the girls and her eldest son see Bill’s dad and stepmother, as she told them lies about Bill. Stepmother told us during my last visit, which was years ago, that Ex had a habit of showing up at their house, letting her kids run amok, and treating her rudely. Stepmother and late FIL would give her expensive gifts or spend money on her, and Ex never appreciated it. She would make rude comments about Bill’s stepmother’s religion, or other things. Remember, Ex actually staged her divorce demand at the in-laws’ house over Easter in 2000. The in-laws have aided and abetted Ex in her schemes on many occasions.

I don’t get along well with Bill’s stepmother. I don’t think she’s as toxic as Ex is, but she is very manipulative and needy, and she will do things like send guilt mongering text messages to Bill, demanding that he come visit. She won’t visit people herself; the onus is on them to come to her. She used to do it to Bill all the time, but now she’s doing it to his youngest daughter, who is a busy mom of two young kids with another one on the way. Youngest daughter lives several states away from SMIL, and doesn’t really have the time or energy to drive several states to visit her.

Adding to this is the fact that SMIL’s adopted daughter doesn’t have children and has recently reconnected with her birth mom. I don’t know how much time they’re spending together, but if I know SMIL, I figure she’s probably feeling alone and betrayed… which would make her a sitting duck for Ex. FIL died in November 2020, so I’m sure SMIL has lost some of her resolve. And Ex needs money, and wasn’t invited to FIL’s funeral. I would not put it past her to try to get SMIL to give her money and/or give older daughter something from FIL’s estate, even though they shunned and disowned Bill and, off and on, his father and stepmother. They shunned Bill’s mother completely; younger daughter is only just now getting to know her grandmother, and they’ve apparently really hit it off.

Now… none of this is any of my business. I only know about it because younger daughter told Bill, and Bill told me. And, frankly, as far as I’m concerned, Ex and SMIL probably deserve each other. SMIL made it pretty clear that she’s on Ex’s side, even though Ex was extremely abusive and exploitative to Bill, and has done some things that, frankly, should have landed her in a prison cell. I know this upsets Bill, though, because it’s like Ex has hijacked his family. Ex wouldn’t even know Bill’s stepmother if they hadn’t been married. But he thinks that his stepmother has always resented him, because as a child, he needed and demanded attention from his father, on occasion. SMIL is a very possessive person. She’s immature, fickle, and treacherous. And even though she told me outright that she’s “just the stepmother”, she feels that Bill’s daughters are her grandchildren, when they’re really Bill’s mother’s grandchildren. The difference is, MIL was more than willing to share… SMIL wasn’t. She, like Ex, hates Bill’s mom. I think she probably hates me, too.

SMIL told me, years ago, that none of this was “any of my business”, since I was just Bill’s wife. However, I would submit that Bill’s kids and grandchildren are even less SMIL’s business, since she’s just the “stepgrandmother”. And she chooses to be involved with Ex, in spite of all of the truly nasty shit she’s done over the years. It wasn’t her husband’s income that went into keeping Ex’s household afloat while they were simultaneously and illegally denied any contact with the children. Why is it that SMIL can be as angry as she wants with anyone she pleases, but the rest of us have to cater to her bullshit and aren’t supposed to be upset with her?

So why is it me who “killed” the two women in my dream? Because I think they blame me for the divorce, even though I didn’t have anything to do with it. The truth is, I didn’t even know Bill when he and Ex split up. They had been separated for three months before I knew Bill was married, plus we were chatting online. I didn’t meet him in person until almost a full year after the divorce. However, Ex told her kids that Bill cheated on her with me, when actually, she cheated on Bill with #3. She also cheated with Bill on her first husband. And yet, I’m the one who is painted as a whore and an interloper.

I think SMIL resents the fact that I married Bill, making it impossible that he would get back together with Ex. She has trouble with change. She also doesn’t like my personality, because I don’t cooperate with her manipulative ploys or give in to her childish bullshit. I have a strong personality that a lot of people don’t enjoy. However, you will always know where you stand with me. I am who I am. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am basically a decent person.

SMIL asked me, last time I saw her, if Bill was ever abusive to me in the bedroom. She asked this, because Ex told her that he was abusive to her. I laughed and said, “no”… because Bill doesn’t have a single mean bone in his body. Anything they did in the bedroom was consensual on her part. However, it wasn’t always consensual on Bill’s part. More than once, Ex told Bill she should slit his throat and, in fact, she did violently sexually assault him at least once, and left scars that a doctor noticed during an exam. Still, even though I told SMIL that Bill isn’t an abuser, at least not to me, she chooses to believe Ex, who has taken advantage of her and FIL for many years.

Why were the two women in my nightmare so attractive? Ex and SMIL are not exactly sexy women, especially not these days. Well… I think it’s because even though I am horrified and angry about their conduct, particularly toward supposed loved ones, I find both of them fascinating characters. Like I said, I am a natural storyteller. I like to write fiction. I used to do it a lot, until a certain unrelated “snake in the grass” decided to get into my business. If I weren’t Bill’s wife, I think SMIL and Ex would make excellent villains in a novel. But, trust me, neither of them are the type to wear satin or sequins.

There’s nothing we can do about Ex and SMIL cozying up to each other. We don’t care about any inheritance from Bill’s dad. However, I do think it would be a real shame if Ex manages to swindle SMIL for money or property she can sell. She is not above doing that. She’s done it repeatedly in the past. I see her posting all sorts of shit on the Internet that makes her look like an empath, but she’s anything but that. She is a true wolf in sheep’s clothing… and some people, like SMIL, will simply never learn not to tangle with her. They deserve each other. They really do. I just hope younger daughter realizes that she doesn’t have any obligation toward them. She’s an adult with her own family, and she has plenty of her own problems to worry about. I hope the next time SMIL sends her a “guilt” text, but then refuses to answer the phone with younger daughter calls her, younger daughter just blocks her number. She doesn’t owe her, or her mother, a goddamned thing.

Hmm… maybe I’m in some of their nightmares, too… It wouldn’t surprise me. I’m everybody’s favorite scapegoat.


What if Bill were locked down with Ex?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another good video. I like his British accent.

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

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

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

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

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