karma, lessons learned, musings, narcissists

When “obsessed fans” are also obsessed with their own privacy…

Wednesday has arrived, and my nose has finally stopped acting like a faucet. So far– knock on wood– the skin under my nose isn’t completely destroyed. I’m a bit congested and tired. I slept for most of the afternoon yesterday, and then through the night, with one potty break. I ordered some tissues and ointment from Amazon, even though I live within walking distance of both a pharmacy and a grocery store. I threw in some mini Reese’s Cups to boost my morale, although maybe I should shop for a new Apple Watch. 😉

I am experienced enough with life to know that I should hold off on being too optimistic. Maybe this will turn out to be a brief cold, though. I hope it will. The weather is positively glorious in Germany this time of year. Very soon, it will turn to shit for months on end. I would like to enjoy the last days of summer 2023.

Last night, just to pass the time, I went Googling and soon ended up on LinkedIn. I haven’t used LinkedIn in years, and actually thought I’d deleted my account. But no, I do still exist on that site, albeit with a very naked profile using my maiden name. I went on the site because I was curious about someone I met only once in person, but who, along with his late wife, has had a profound effect on me since we moved to Germany. I don’t think I’ve ever written about him, mainly because I only met him the one time. I wasn’t all that impressed by him on that day in late August 2014. He’s former tenant’s husband, a guy who gave Bill a fake name and basically lied to our faces about how “wonderful” the landlords were.

I found him on LinkedIn last night, and for the first time since 2014, saw his face in a photo. He’s leaving the Army and looking for work. I would imagine retiring is now a necessity, given that he has a couple of kids to raise on his own. The specialized work he did required a lot of dangerous, classified travel to exotic lands. I took a look at his profile and passed it on to Bill, who basically deciphered it for me. Some of the words he was using were code for certain activities in the military… things that civilians wouldn’t necessarily understand at first glance, but Army folks know very well.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, in spite of my curiosity. Seeing that guy’s profile just made me feel icky. I do wonder, though… I think it’s only natural.

Ever since I found out that former tenant died by her own hand last year, I’ve been left with all kinds of questions. I’m sure a lot of people might think that’s weird, or I’m just being nosy. I guess that’s a fair enough assessment. On the other hand, since she left me with this weird legacy, I figured I’m owed a little wonder. Thanks to her, I went through some pretty significant psychological trauma. Yet, I barely knew her. She knew– or thought she knew— a lot more about me than I did about her.

The only reason I even know about former tenant’s death, or have any questions about her whatsoever, is because for the four years we lived in our ex landlady’s house, she was monitoring my blogs. She had led me to believe she liked my travel blog, but she’d also found her way to my main blog, and she regularly took issue on the rare occasions that I wrote anything about ex landlady or the absolute psychological shitshow our time in that house eventually became. Former tenant would leave me blog comments, then delete them. Later, she unabashedly wrote that ex landlady’s daughter was also reading my blogs, as she chastised me for my content. In her last missive to me, she insinuated that I was “unhinged”. And yet, here I am still among the living, with no young children mourning my absence in their lives.

She shamed me over some fiction I’d written, but not yet had the chance to develop. She thought I was going to “trash” the family… who, frankly, totally would have deserved it. But, for the record, that wasn’t my plan at all. It was a fiction piece— yes, based on people I know, but most of the people who read this blog don’t even know me online, let alone off. And the story itself was a complete and obvious fabrication. Aside from that, she presumed I was writing about the ex landlady’s daughter; a woman I have never met in person, and whose first name I never even knew, until former tenant mentioned it in her final message. Ex landlady had never deigned to introduce me to her daughters. I guess she didn’t want me influencing them. 😉

Just because I’ve written snarky stories in the past, that doesn’t mean I ALWAYS write snarky stories. Moreover, the piece I’d started writing was barely developed. There was no outline to the story. It was maybe a page or two, with no significant plot development. I didn’t even know what the plot was, myself. It also never entered my mind that my actions in late 2018– in my new home– were of any concern whatsoever to a woman I had met one or two times in 2014. If I wasn’t “unhinged” at that point, I sure started to feel that way in February 2019, when it felt like I still had a “bug” in my home.

All the while, former tenant would stress how important her “privacy” was. She used different names for every comment, most of which she later deleted. She apparently assumed a lot about me, and what kind of person I am, simply by reading and judging my blog entries. I think she also wildly underestimated my intelligence, as it soon became obvious.

When former tenant was still living, I didn’t stalk her online. I didn’t so much as look her or her husband up on Google. I tried to be respectful of her privacy, even as she clearly had contempt for mine. I tolerated her complaints and even edited for her at least once or twice. Meanwhile, she must have been assuming I am a complete lunatic. I wouldn’t mind that so much if she’d kept it to just thinking I was crazy. Lots of people who don’t actually know me have thought that about me, over the years. But she was, apparently, sharing her thoughts about me with the landlady, and then later boldly admitting it to me, as she shamed me for having the nerve to be pissed. Somehow, this was all supposed to be my fault.

It all came to a head in February 2019, when I read that final private message from former tenant about how cruel and hurtful I was to her “friends”, and demanding to know what they had done to deserve such “mean” treatment from me. The reality is, they were the ones who were cruel to me. All I ever really wanted was to be left alone. You don’t have to like me, or even respect how I live my life. Just leave me alone. Otherwise, yes… I may be inspired to write about you in an ambiguous way. The difference is, you don’t have to read what I write. It’s a conscious choice– one that is usually brought about by being a nosy busybody with a complete lack of respect for boundaries.

Folks… the reality is, I didn’t actually write that much about ex landlady. I vented a couple of times toward the end of our tenancy, mainly because she was driving me crazy. She kept accusing me of doing things I didn’t do, yelling at me in my own home, and treating me like a five year old. She’d complain about ridiculous things, like a clump of dog hair in a doorway, declaring it “filth”. She’d show up unannounced when I wasn’t prepared to receive her, then look at me with disdain when I wasn’t dressed properly. She was extremely rude to Bill, and when we moved out, she tried to rip off our deposit as she declared us the worst tenants she’d ever had. She refused to negotiate over anything, and then threatened us when we had a lawyer write to her, reminding her of German law. She also falsely accused us of theft. And all of this was happening as we were losing our beloved Zane, one of the beagles who kept me sane when I lived in that house.

Meanwhile, former tenant got a pass, because they were “friends”, even though I know very well that at least some of the stuff ex landlady was complaining about were things that happened when she and her husband lived in the house. Fortunately, I DID have those blogs, which served as a record of events, since ex landlady never did a proper check in or check out between us. I also had photos and a few comments from former tenant that helped us prove our case when we later successfully sued ex landlady. So, we were vindicated in the end, although it still left me fuming at the violation and the gall they all had. It could have so easily gone the other way, with us stuck with the bill for upgrading ex landlady’s rental house and looking guilty.

Bill and I have had a few less than stellar renting experiences, but we have NEVER been treated with the level of disrespect and unfairness as we were when we left our last house. And never before did I have someone affiliated with a landlord or landlady monitoring and reporting on my blogs. Especially not someone who simultaneously demanded privacy for herself.

I’m pretty sure former tenant had people in her family monitoring my blogs, too. I could tell by hits I was getting from certain parts of the country, which stopped when the case was settled. I imagine she told her family and friends that I was some sort of mad blogger, trying to ruin people’s lives. That’s not true at all. I just enjoy writing, and I write about things that affect me. It’s sort of my vocation. She made me out to be some kind of crazy person, when all we were doing is asserting our rights to be treated fairly under German law. I’m sure to those people, Bill and I are just crooks who ripped off a kindly elderly couple in Germany. I guess it doesn’t really matter, since I’ll probably never meet those people, anyway. It still smarts a bit, though… because former tenant accused ME of spreading lies, when the opposite was true.

I tried really hard to block former tenant from my mind, but it was hard. The lawsuit took about 18 months to settle, mainly due to COVID. By then, it was around August 2021, months after we reached an agreement– our lawyer had to send former landlady another letter demanding payment, because after she agreed to settle, she never bothered to pay. Hopefully, the lawyer charged her for that letter, too. Former landlady finally sent the money to the lawyer, who then forwarded it to us. Pure contempt, straight to the end!

Once all that awful stuff was finally over, I tried to put it behind me, even though it was pretty infuriating and left me feeling violated on many levels. For three years, I had former tenant blocked on Facebook, and never so much as did an online search of her name. But then in late May last year, Bill told me something that made me curious. Since former tenant had worked for the same company Bill did, he noticed when she was no longer on the roster of employees. He also didn’t see her working for the government.

I decided to search her name on Google, just to see where she was. That’s when I found several detailed obituaries for her in at least two states, as well as a couple of memorial services on YouTube. She’d committed suicide several months earlier. So much for her privacy. She left behind her husband and two sons, as well as a host of family and friends who obviously loved and missed her, and grieved her decision to end her own life.

Here I am, years later, still ruminating on this. I think it’s because it’s September, and that was the month we moved into that house. I remember thinking from the get go that we may be in for a difficult time, but I was so glad to be back in Germany and settled somewhere. The summer of 2014 had been absolutely terrible for us. So I was just glad to be in a home, even if the former landlady had seemed obsessed with monitoring us and was very untrusting. Never did I ever conceive of being in the situation we found ourselves in a few years later.

As a person who likes to read and write stories, maybe some people can understand why this situation is still in my head. It reminds me of a Lifetime movie. All we wanted was a place to live. We ended up with a situation that I could probably turn into a made for TV movie screenplay, if I was so inclined… and maybe if it was the 90s, and people still watched such things on TV.

Sigh… well, at least it’s Wednesday, which means it’s a light chore day. Maybe I’ll find another diversion. I started reading a new book, which promises to be interesting and fun to review. And there’s always trashy TV. That might cause me less trouble than writing blog posts. 😉

Anyway… as my literature loving husband, Bill, likes to say, “Murder will out…” Or, maybe in this case, “Self-murder will out.”


When monkeys fly…

Not long ago, I watched the 1976 version of the film, Carrie. It’s one of my favorite movies from the 1970s. I’m not sure why I like it so much, but I do. I haven’t seen the remake and don’t really care to because, to me, Sissy Spacek is the only Carrie. She played the part of a terrorized “freak” with special powers like no one else can.

There’s a scene in Carrie that comes to mind as I write this morning. It’s right before Carrie and Tommy get crowned Prom King and Queen. We can see Tommy’s girlfriend, Sue Snell, realizing what’s about to happen to Carrie and Tommy as they smile for the camera. Sue sees a rope leading to under the stage where Tommy and Carrie are standing, listening to applause. Her eyes follow the rope up the side of the stage, where it is eventually connected with a pail filled with pig’s blood. She can see Carrie’s tormentors under the stage, getting ready to pull the rope.

Sue tries to stop them from succeeding in their prank. If she had managed to stop them, the film would have probably had a much happier and less interesting ending. But the gym teacher, Miss Collins, catches Sue before she can do anything, throws her out of the gym, and saves Sue’s life… or, at least her physical life. She will be haunted by the horrors of prom night for the rest of her existence on Earth.

In January 2018, I wrote a post on my original blog about “flying monkeys” versus “abuser groupies”. Flying monkeys is a term frequently used in pop psychology to describe people who get co-opted into doing “dirty work” for narcissists and other personality disordered people. “Abuser groupies” is a term I made up to describe people who hang around abusers, admiring them, and not seeing them for who they really are, but they don’t necessarily do any “dirty work” on their behalf.

This is where “flying monkeys” come from… and they are scary as hell!

I can’t help but draw some parallels between what Bill and I have experienced in the last week to that scene in Carrie. Although thinking about it some more, I’m sure people will have differing perspectives.

I found out that the woman who lived in our former landlady’s house was monitoring my blogs and, perhaps, sharing them with the landlady and her daughter. I made no secret of my idea to start a fiction blog as a place for me to vent using fiction. To me, it seems like a good idea. I can express myself without involving “real” people. No one has to read what I write and, in fact, most people don’t read my fiction posts. I will admit sometimes I get kind of snarky and vindictive in my fiction, but I don’t get that way offline. It’s a harmless way for me to exorcise my demons. The worst that can happen is that someone’s feelings might get hurt.

I suppose if you’re obsessively reading what someone writes and you have an ego, then maybe the fiction blog idea seems cruel. Maybe, in the previous tenant’s eyes, I’m like Chris Hargenson on Carrie, the hateful bitch who fixes the prom so that Carrie wins the title of prom queen, and then, when the moment is right, plans to humiliate Carrie in front of the whole school. I guess in her eyes, my idea to write a fiction story that might include elements of my experiences with our ex landlady is a “mean” thing to do, especially since she knows the landlady’s daughter reads my blogs. She worries that the landlady’s daughter’s feelings will be “hurt” if she sees herself in one or more of my characters. Meanwhile, she has no empathy for how I might be feeling after dealing with our ex landlady’s abusive behavior for four years and then having her unfairly withhold our deposit. In fact, she doesn’t even know that’s what’s happened, at least not from my perspective. I didn’t explain it to her. Why not? Because it’s none of her damned business.

You see, while I can understand why someone might equate me to the character of Chris Hargenson on Carrie for writing fiction stories about people who irritate me, I think the former tenant is a little like Chris, too. In fact, if you take a look at the way she’s been behaving, her behavior is very much like that of a “flying monkey”. First off, I wonder who turned the landlady’s daughter on to my blogs? I wonder why she turned her on to them? I wonder who really is the “mean” person? And secondly, is it worse to write a fictional story about someone who has inspired me– negatively or positively– that most people won’t read? Or is it worse to yell at someone in their own home, be inconsiderate, domineering, and insulting, and steal money from them, then giving them no right to defend themselves?

What do “flying monkeys” do? They abuse people on behalf of a personality disordered person. Now, I don’t actually know if our former landlady has a personality disorder. I don’t know her well enough to see how she relates to other people. I have, however, been on the receiving end of her verbal abuse. Bill has received nasty emails from her. I also heard from our insurance agent when she was not happy with the settlement she got from them. I gathered that her emails and letters were not pleasant. On the day Bill handed over the keys to her duplex, she behaved as though she was very angry with us. According to Bill, even her husband was telling her to calm down. While I can’t know for certain how the landlady behaves with other people, I do know that people who are verbally abusive are usually habitual about it. In fact, her husband’s body language often belied a man who walks on eggshells every day. I don’t know if he does or not. That’s just how it appeared to me.

The landlady’s passive aggressive and hostile behavior is despite the fact that for four years, she got her rent money in full and on time every month. She had tenants who were reliable and basically respectful, even if I evidently don’t clean to her standards (not that I even knew what they were). We weren’t doing anything illegal or immoral on her property. We didn’t throw parties or antagonize the neighbors. We didn’t call the landlords at all hours, nor did we demand that they make repairs. We simply dared to live in their house rather than flutter around it without making a single fingerprint. Oh… and I guess she was upset because I apparently didn’t humble myself to taking her abuse. In the 51 months of our time in that house, by my calculations, they got at least 88,230 euros from us in rent and “other costs”. I’m sure it went a long way toward paying their bills. And what’s another 2500 from our deposit so the old couple can get themselves a new awning at our expense? I’m sure they assume we can afford it. We can, but that’s beside the point.

According to the former tenant, though, this lady is nothing but sweet and kind– akin to an angel. For all I know, that’s the only side of her that she’s seen. She may very well feel like she needs to defend her against me, because she can’t imagine that the landlady would be passive aggressive, hostile, and unfair to other people. Or, maybe she does realize that the woman has this unsavory side and doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter why she engages in this behavior. She may not even know she’s doing it. However, you won’t convince me that there’s not some triangulation going on. I get the feeling that the “flying monkey” is somehow being encouraged to silence me. Former landlady isn’t going to talk to me directly. She talks to the former tenant, who then talks to me and appeals to my sense of shame and decency to continue to accept this crap. I’m supposed to simply behave gracefully and accept that for the first time ever, ex landlords are going to rip me off. I don’t understand how or why she thinks we’re going to let them get away with it. If she were in my shoes, would she simply let this bullshit go without a word?

I will admit, I probably seem a bit obsessed about this. I usually get this way when someone behaves in an abusive manner towards me. You might say I’m “saturated” when it comes to abuse and I don’t take it lying down. However, I can promise that I’ve never so much as “Googled” ex landlady or her friend, the ex tenant. Meanwhile, they’ve been enjoying my admittedly public postings and talking and probably laughing among themselves. And after they’ve enjoyed themselves, they expect me to treat them differently than I treat anyone who annoys or abuses me.

I see creating stories, whether or not they’re good, kind, or even entertaining, as a constructive way to deal with my angst. I don’t force anyone to read the things I write. It seems to me that these people can grow up and show some self-control. Or, better yet, they can simply behave in a way that doesn’t inspire me to write snarky fiction.