Ex, mental health, narcissists

This sentiment really resonates with me right now…

Last night, an online friend and I were chatting on Facebook instant messenger. We had started conversing on my Facebook page, offering our thoughts about the new abortion law in Texas. I had mentioned that I hate Donald Trump for his part in this… and for many other reasons. And yes, I know Trump didn’t act alone. He had a lot of help from Mitch McConnell and other MAGA asshats who just want to keep people trapped in poverty as they hypocritically lecture them about morals. But basically, Trump is the face of a lot of really horrible people who only care about themselves and everybody else can just go to Hell. That is basically the very essence of narcissism.

Yep… that’s about right. People with money will always be able to get abortions if they want or need them.

My friend had basically said that she doesn’t care about Trump enough to hate him. She sees him like she’d see a scorpion. It’s his nature to be cruel. He can’t help himself. So she doesn’t expend the energy to hate him. I, on the other hand, am not like that by nature. People irk me and I react to them more than I should. And before I knew it, our conversation had segued from Trump to Ex. I wrote:

I understand that mindset [of not caring enough about Trump to hate him]. I just can’t help myself. But there are people I dislike as much or more than Trump, like the Ex. Every time I try to feel compassion for her, remembering that she’s mentally ill, I am reminded that she stole from her own children, sexually abused my husband, and turns people close to her into her slaves. I just really hate narcissists.

I explained that I believe my husband’s ex wife is a narcissist. But I also think she is mentally ill. I’m not the only one. She has been diagnosed by professionals. But she’s also just a very manipulative, selfish, shitty person who has done real harm to others. Unfortunately, some good people are still struck in her sphere. There’s not much we can do for them until they help themselves. It’s an awful feeling to watch good people who are trapped, and haven’t figured out that they need to help themselves… or even that there are people who would gladly help them to help themselves. But, as they say, it is what it is.

My friend was skeptical that Ex is mentally ill. She asked me some questions about Ex, and why I believe that besides being a shitty person, she’s also got legitimate issues with mental illness. Some of it may be organic. Some may have been brought on by abuse and trauma. Some may be because she’s just a nasty person. I explained that I believe a person can be mentally ill, and they can also simply be mean. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive.

Then I PM’d my friend with some sensitive information that clarified things a bit. I didn’t go into specifics of what happened, because the specifics don’t matter. What mattered was that a few years ago, I might have simply excused Ex for being “sick” with mental illness. I can’t excuse her anymore, though, because she has done some things that are just beyond the pale and, I know they aren’t due to mental illness. In fact, she often uses mental illness as a crutch, excusing herself for being a shitty person. I didn’t find out about the personal stuff until a few years ago. When I did find out about what happened, I was absolutely livid. It forever changed my opinion about Ex– not that it was ever very high– and made me conclude that she’s plainly damaged beyond repair.

More wisdom.

The conversation with my friend continued, and she eventually took my word that Ex is probably both mentally ill, and a terrible person. But she’s not as bad as she could have been. Believe me, I have realized that she could have done more to make our lives hell. She’s no longer a threat to me personally, but she’s still a threat to Bill’s daughters and the family members who aren’t clued in to what kind of a person she is.

Personally, I am at a point at which I don’t really care much about Ex. I might feel about her the way my friend feels about Donald Trump. I might see her as a reptile who just hurts people because it’s in her nature to do that. But then Bill talks to his daughter, who isn’t quite ready to go no contact. If she goes no contact, there’s a good chance she will pay a dear price. She may lose contact with other family members, for instance. So Ex remains a topic of conversation, even though personally, I could probably move on from caring or talking about her at all.

And then, I noticed something posted by another friend. I don’t know this friend as well… but what I do know is that she’s been going through something with a narcissist. She’s been posting nothing but quotes about narcissism lately. I mostly don’t notice her posts, because I’m not big on posting quotes and memes without explaining the context. But every once in awhile, she posts a gem. Last night, she posted the below image.

This sentiment really resonates with me right now.

For most of my life, I have been trained to tolerate dysfunction. I’ve been conditioned to ignore bad behavior and be “nice” at all costs, so as not to upset the apple cart. I’m not as good at ignoring bad behavior as some people are. I do have a bit of a temper, and I will lose it when people go too far. Sometimes, when I feel like I can’t be assertive, I’ll be passive aggressive, which isn’t a good solution. But, for the most part, I do try to avoid conflict, and sometimes I give people too much power. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and will sometimes excuse them when they shouldn’t be excused. Or, I simply put up with bad stuff from people when I should let it, and them, go.

We’re living in some incredible times. The past five years have been awesomely hard for many people. Bill and I have been mostly fortunate, mostly because we haven’t been living in the United States. But we have been watching the turmoil from afar, and that has been very stressful and worrisome. I’ve found that living in Germany has given me some empathy for people who have come to America from countries where there’s a lot of strife. Bill and I are not in Germany illegally, but it’s still not our home. We love living over here, and we’re not in a hurry to leave. But we still have friends and family who are dealing with the strife as we look on from abroad.

Living in another country has its challenges, although things are pretty good for us. I’m not stupid enough to compare the United States with Afghanistan or El Salvador or Syria or Honduras… or any other place where things are just horrifying. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is plenty horrifying, though… and it takes energy to process it and what it might mean for the future. Why should I let some low level idiot who is up to no good upset me? Especially when there really are much bigger fish to fry? They don’t care about me. Why should I care about them?

I don’t have the energy or stamina to put up with people who deliberately cause chaos, especially if I don’t have an investment in them, and especially when the chaos is over something really petty or insignificant. At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot invested in most other people. It’s probably because I do live in another country. I haven’t seen most of my family since 2014. I haven’t seen friends in that long, either. The ones I’ve made in Germany, by and large, aren’t real friends. They are friendly for a short amount of time, then disappear. So why should I tolerate any disrespect from them? Why should I let them upset me?

Of course, it’s probably in my nature to get upset. Just like I can’t see Donald Trump as a mere scorpion, I can’t help but be irritated by people who go out of their way to be manipulative, disrespectful, or just plain mean. I react more than I should, but lately, I’ve been trying to learn to let things go. I’ve been making a concerted effort not to get into it with people… especially people I don’t know. People who don’t care at all about me aren’t worth the tears. Peace is important, and I am as entitled to it as anyone is. So, instead of addressing stuff that I know will turn into something dramatic, I just quietly take out the trash.

As I was telling my friend last night, there are some people in the world that want to deny you your vote. Yes, some people literally want to deny you your vote in political matters, but I’m also talking about your vote in interpersonal situations. Like, for instance, when Ex unilaterally decided to have Christmas at my in-laws’ house, and demanded that I show up there for two days of hell during the biggest holiday of the year. She never asked me what I thought of the plan. I was simply expected to show up and shut up, forfeiting my right to enjoy Christmas.

Well… I realized then that I had a vote. I had a right to vote “no” to her Christmas plan, and stay home. Yes, there was a price to be paid for voting that way. She decided to punish everybody else for my choice. On the other hand, those people– most of whom were adults– almost chose to accept her “punishment” and disrespect. What they really should have done was tell her to fuck off and kick her out of their lives. It’s hard to do that when kids are involved… I know that. But, even in that situation, there were choices that could have been made. Bill had the right to take the Ex to court, for instance. Or, the in-laws could have told her and #3 to get a hotel room. Or they could have refused to host her little drama altogether. In some way, they could have REFUSED to tolerate her bullshit and just plain not shown up or stuck around for it.

I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to me. As I have said before, I think the universe often gives us multiple chances to learn valuable lessons. This is one of those times. I got a lesson last week, as a matter of fact.

Last week, I got involved in some petty dramas that upset me quite a bit more than they should have. I was upset and frustrated, when I should have been enjoying the Black Forest, which was genuinely beautiful. The people who were causing the strife weren’t people I’m close to or care about. I was simply indulging them and giving them a lot more air time than they deserved. I’ve done that for too many people… Ex included. The vast majority of people are simply not worth the consideration.

I don’t like blocking, unfriending, or even unfollowing people… and I mostly don’t like it when people do that to me (although there are times when it was actually a mutual decision… they just acted first). But– I realize we all have our limits, and X amount of energy. The older you get, the more you realize that time and energy are precious. So it makes sense to spend those valuable commodities on people and issues that truly deserve them.

People like “Dick”, the wine group saboteur, Ex, Trump, and any number of other people with whom I can’t reasonably collaborate or cooperate, simply aren’t worth my time, energy, or attention. They don’t appreciate the sacrifice. And so, today I’m going to try to make a concentrated effort to kick those people out of my life as much as possible. I already feel a lot better having dumped a few of those folks… kind of like I did this morning, purging yesterday’s shit from my system.

And now… Noyzi and Arran are telling me it’s time for a walk. So I’m off to blow off some steam. Hope you have a good Friday… and as my friend Wilbur sings, “Don’t let life chew the sweet out of you.”

“Itty bitty problems” aren’t worth the stress. This song is non-sensical, but it makes me laugh.

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Police, social media

What would Jesus do?

I wrote a post yesterday that I decided to password protect several hours later. I didn’t share it on Facebook, as I usually do. I figured if I shared it, I might be inviting Internet infamy, and frankly my mental state right now can’t handle that. So, several hours after I wrote yesterday’s post, I decided to put it behind a password. I figured that if anyone wanted to read it, they would message me.

One person did want to read the post. I shared it with her. We disagreed, although we did so in a civil way. I appreciated that very much, since a couple of nights ago, I got attacked by two different people on Facebook for defending Amy Cooper. Now… when I say I “defended” her, I don’t mean I condoned what she did on Monday morning. I certainly don’t think her actions were right, but I don’t know much about her. All I know about her is what I’ve read in the papers and seen on video. I don’t like what I’ve read or seen, but I don’t know Amy Cooper personally. I think she’s guilty of acting like a racist. However, I don’t know enough about her to know if she is, in fact, a racist. She might very well be a racist. Or, she might have just lost all sense of decorum in a very stressful situation.

By stressful, I don’t just mean being confronted by a black man in a park. I mean stressful to include dealing with the global pandemic in a city that has been hit very hard by the coronavirus. Most of the world is under tremendous stress right now, and I wonder if that had anything to do with the way Ms. Cooper reacted on Monday.

A lot of people have concluded that by calling the police on birdwatcher Christian Cooper, the black man who confronted her in Central Park on Memorial Day morning, Amy Cooper is a horrible person to the core. She’s lost her job, her dog, and probably a lot of friends. Many people have said they think she should be arrested and spend time in prison, even though there is no law against calling the police. Granted, many people felt Amy Cooper was simply calling the cops because she’s a racist; but not having been there at the time, I can’t conclude that she didn’t feel scared or threatened. I honestly don’t know what she was feeling at the time. I can only make a presumption based on the video and news articles that have been shared and commented on repeatedly.

I have noticed that coming to a conclusion other than what the masses believe can be dangerous. Based on the hatred that was spewing Tuesday night and yesterday, it occurred to me that some self-righteous people wouldn’t mind if she just killed herself. That seems wrong to me, since Amy Cooper is a human being and I think most human beings are deserving of basic compassion and understanding, even when they don’t show it themselves. (and I will also admit that I can be hypocritical on this point, particularly when someone is hateful to me– but I am working on it)

I found the flow of vitriol toward Amy Cooper very depressing. It was bad enough that I considered getting off of Facebook. Between the constant back and forth preaching about social distancing and face mask wearing, the endless pictures of hateful white supremacists who have been toting their guns to state capitals and demanding their “rights”, and the shrill outrage expressed by thousands of people who don’t actually know anything about Amy Cooper or Christian Cooper or any of the other stories they were commenting on, it got to be too much… I was starting to feel horrible about myself, and I had nothing to do with any of these incidents.

Then I saw posts about George Floyd, the 46 year old black man who was arrested in Minneapolis and died handcuffed and begging for his life as a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the details about that case yet, but I did see the horrifying pictures. I do think the officers who are responsible for killing Mr. Floyd should be prosecuted. There are far too many black men being killed by people who are supposed to be protecting and serving everyone. Ditto to the three men in Brunswick, Georgia– Gregory McMichael, 64, Travis McMichael, 34, and William Bryan, 50,– who are responsible for killing Ahmaud Arbery in February. Those men absolutely should stand trial for taking the law into their own hands and killing a black man who was simply out for a run.

I think it’s a problem that someone like Amy Cooper gets mobbed and automatically labeled a racist for calling the police. I think people should be able to call the police whenever they think they need help. No one should be able to “weaponize” the police. The police should be there to help resolve conflicts, protect and serve all people, and enforce laws. The fact that people think a middle aged white woman can call the police, resulting in a black man being killed by them, is a serious problem and something that our society must address. I think the fact that so many black men in America are being killed by cops is a much bigger issue than a white woman calling 911 when she didn’t really have to.

Unfortunately, somehow some police officers in the United States seem to have lost their way, and now they’ve become people that we collectively can’t trust. When a middle aged white woman like Alison Ettel, Jennifer Schulte, or Amy Cooper calls the police on someone of color, they become targets of rage and symbols of racism. People then feel free to cheer when their lives fall apart on a very public forum. The public becomes as bad as the offender. Seriously… I don’t think people who are outraged against Amy Cooper, wishing death or poverty or any other misfortune on her are a whole lot better than the racist they claim she is. Hate is hate. God forbid you present a different viewpoint, either. If you do, be prepared to be attacked and maligned, as I was a couple of nights ago.

And that brings me to the title of today’s post. I have never claimed to be a very religious person. I’m especially not a fan of organized religion because I’ve seen it hurt a lot of people. However, I am a fan of Jesus Christ… or at least the idea of being “Christ like”. I have been fortunate enough to run into a couple of people in my life who radiated serenity. A few years ago, I even wrote about a man I didn’t talk to, but simply noticed in a restaurant. I was in a bad mood at the time… hungry, tired, and irritable, and I noticed this man sitting at a table with several other people. He seemed to be so calm, loving, and gentle… perhaps a mere essence of who I think Christ would be if I were to meet him. The people who were with the man in the restaurant seemed enchanted by his humble demeanor and easy kindness.

My German friend, Susanne, found out who the man was. It turned out he was a Japanese Buddhist monk named Toyoshige Sekiguchi who had been traveling around the world to promote peace and nuclear disarmament. I never spoke to him, but simply seeing him in a crowded restaurant while I was “hangry” had the effect of calming me down and imparting peace. It occurred to me that someone like Toyoshige Sekiguchi would not hate Amy Cooper. He would most likely wish peace for her… something to soothe whatever it was inside of her that made her say what she said to Christian Cooper on Monday morning and take actions that led to her life being destroyed in a matter of hours.

I am a very long way from being like Toyoshige Sekiguchi. I am an even longer way from being like Jesus Christ. I have my moments of hatred, outrage, and judgment, just like everyone else does, although mine most often seem to come out against people who injure me or Bill personally. Still, I would like to be a kinder, more understanding person. Hating Amy Cooper is not a step in the right direction to meet that goal, even if I condemn her actions.

A wise professor once told me, having been the wife of an abusive alcoholic– you have to separate the person from the action. Most people occasionally say and do bad things, but that doesn’t necessarily make them inherently bad people. And… just for the record, I can name several people off the top of my head whom I think are much worse people than Amy Cooper is, and none of them have ever been outed, let alone fired or arrested. But what they did was never recorded on a camera phone and leaked to the press. Most of us could easily find ourselves making a very public mistake that gets put on blast. I doubt very much that any of us would want to have our lives upended and wrecked for having a couple of bad minutes of our lives recorded for posterity and shared with and judged by the masses.

For his part, Christian Cooper has publicly stated that he doesn’t think it’s right for Amy Cooper’s life to be upended. He said:

“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake… And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.”

“I’m not excusing the racism,” he said. “But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”

He opened his mouth to speak further and then stopped himself. He had been about to say the phrase, “that poor woman,” he later acknowledged, but he could not bring himself to complete the thought.

“She went racial. There are certain dark societal impulses that she, as a white woman facing in a conflict with a black man, that she thought she could marshal to her advantage,” he said.

“I don’t know if it was a conscious thing or not,” he added. “But she did it, and she went there.”

Christian Cooper says he doesn’t want to reconcile with Amy Cooper face to face, but he has expressed regret that she’s received death threats and that her life is being “destroyed”. He has acknowledged that by making her go viral, he played a part in (hopefully temporarily) destroying her life… even though many people feel that by calling the police, she could have ended his life. He even almost called her a “poor woman” as he spoke to the New York Times about the aftermath of making her go viral. I commend him for having compassion for Amy Cooper. The world would be a better place if more people did. I hope someday that Amy Cooper recovers from this incident and even gets her dog back, as long as she’s willing to keep him on a leash.

What I think is especially sad, though, is that we don’t have more faith in the New York City Police Department being able to do their jobs without killing someone. And that our lack of faith in New York City’s police is due to the all too frequent stories about black men being killed by cops in places like Minneapolis, Minnesota. That, to me, is a much bigger issue than Amy Cooper deciding to call the cops.

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