communication, controversies, divorce, family

“Wicked” stepmothers are people, too!

It seems to be a very popular thing these days to ask people on Reddit if one is “an asshole” for acting in a certain way. The popularity of the “Am I the Asshole” (AITA) posts has spun into people turning them into very active Facebook posts or people even writing articles about them. The comedian behind “God” is no exception. Yesterday, “God” posted an AITA article about a woman who refuses to share sanitary products with her stepdaughter. She wanted to know if that made her an “asshole”.

Below is the Reddit post in question:

To be honest, I would probably be annoyed about this, too. The stepdaughter should have asked for the pads instead of just taking them. The last bit about not wanting to share things might make the OP a little bit of an asshole… especially under the very personal circumstances involved with having periods.

God’s article seemed to try, at least on the surface, to be fair to the stepmom, allowing that it’s difficult to try to “parent” someone who is only 13 years younger. But the rest of the article is decidedly slanted against the stepmother, making her out to be immature, petty, and mean. So I went to the comments, which was obviously a mistake, unless you consider that the comments gave me fodder for today’s post. 😉

From the get go, lots of people were chiming in with stories about their own evil stepmothers. Since I am “technically” a stepmother myself, I see the role from a different perspective. I decided to ask, “So, any woman who marries a man with children is evil?”

I did not provide any information about myself. I didn’t explain that I have two stepdaughters whom I have only seen in person once. I just asked a question, and I didn’t target anyone in particular. People could have just ignored me, but of course, they didn’t.

The first response I got was this: “My stepmother tried to poison me, so I have a different perspective.”

I was a little troubled that the guy who wrote that didn’t clarify that he only meant HIS stepmother was evil, not that all stepmothers are, as his first comment seemed to indicate. I fought the urge to write something angry to him. Instead, I tried to be measured. I wrote something along the lines of, “I am truly sorry that you were apparently so traumatized by that experience that your overall view of stepmothers is negative. That’s too bad.”

That comment triggered at least three other people, who each decided to take me on. One immediately called me a “karen”. One gave me an angry reaction and said I was “proving” the guy’s point somehow. The other wrote, “No one said that, but you sure made a leap.” To each of these folks– all apparently women– I wrote “Have a nice day.” I was not going to get into arguments with people who immediately start off their communications with insults and assumptions, with no attempt to even try to be empathetic. I have learned that getting into arguments with strangers is pointless. They won’t understand, because they choose not to. You can tell by the way they lob insults like “karen” and go right for the proverbial jugular with verbal nastiness.

Listen– I get that stepparents– especially stepmothers– are a contentious topic. A lot of people are traumatized by their stepparents, especially the women who dare to marry their fathers. However, the fact remains that a whole lot of marriages end in divorce, and a lot of people will either marry subsequent spouses, or they will become stepparents themselves. No one I have ever met has ever said their life’s ambition was to be a stepparent. And dammit, stepparents– including and especially stepmothers– are people too!

While no one specially stated that women who marry previously married men with children are “evil”, that was definitely the attitude that was coming across loud and clear. Insulting and making assumptions about perfect strangers, simply because they don’t go with the comment flow, is pretty lame. Critical thinking and mindful responding are good things in a comment section, rather than just popping off with stale 2019 era insults like “karen” and assuming the worst about every person one meets online.

It just seemed to me that instead of responding to the specific case in question, people were using that space to comment about their own “wicked stepmothers”. I’ll bet the vast majority of them have never once tried to see things from their stepmothers’ perspective. But I know better than outwardly making that assumption about people I don’t know. It would only open up a huge, unpleasant can of worms. I think posting “Have a nice day.” to people who are determined to argue and are immediately rude is a good policy. I’m going to try to do it more often… or, even better, just ignore the haters completely.

It’s funny, though, that some of those folks apparently think I am a “wicked” stepmother myself. For many years, maybe I kind of was. You see, I was legitimately livid with my stepdaughters because of the truly awful way they treated their father. I was angry with them because I know and love their dad so much, and I saw the devastating effect the estrangement had on him. They would not so much as speak to him on the phone, send an email, or even tell him to kiss their asses. And, for years, younger daughter in particular seemed to have a haughty, mean-spirited attitude toward Bill that I found insufferable. She was the one who, as a nine year old, was emboldened to slap Bill across the face for having beer in his refrigerator. I couldn’t abide the disrespect, especially given that my bio father was in my life and often treated me with contempt. Here these girls were with a father who adores them, and they just threw him away.

In retrospect, I have since realized that my reaction to younger daughter was based on limited information, and I was wrong. I have since found out that she and her sister were pretty much forced to behave the way they did. When she later reconnected with Bill, I learned more about younger daughter when she’s not influenced by her mother’s toxic craziness. I then realized that she’s actually a very nice– and surprisingly mature– young woman. It makes me sad that she had to become that way so young, due to the way she was raised. Her mother’s immaturity made it imperative that she step up and be an adult many years before her time. But she’s clearly a great wife and mother, and she’s made it clear that she will not be raising her kids the way her mother raised her. She even lets her kids call Bill “Papa”, which is absolutely adorable!

But here’s the funny thing, though. After many years of being angry with my husband’s daughters, and finding out that younger daughter is really not as awful as she seemed, I’m now actually being appreciated by her– even though I haven’t seen her in person since 2003. This morning, Bill got an email from his daughter. In it, she included two photos taken nine years apart. The first photo was taken for her LDS missionary packet. She has a pretty smile, but it seems kind of forced and contrived. She looks a little bit uncomfortable. In the second photo, she’s smiling, obviously relaxed, and looks genuinely happy.

Younger daughter wrote that many people who knew her nine years ago and have seen her recently have commented on her improved “countenance”. She’s really happy now, and it shows. She says she likes to think it’s her husband’s genuinely loving influence on her that has made her appear to be genuinely happy. And then she wrote to Bill, “I’ll bet Jenny has had the same effect on you.”

In fact, I did once see a photo of Bill, taken when he was in his 30s, still married to Ex, and working at a factory where, all day, he supervised men making refrigerator doors. It was a job he hated, coupled with the misery of being in a toxic, loveless marriage to someone who didn’t appreciate him at all. I told Bill that he looked much older in that photo than he does now, as a man in his late 50s. Nowadays, he does genuinely look happy. And I know that apart from getting away from a disastrous marriage to a narcissist, he’s happy because we’re compatible, comfortable, and genuinely love each other. Our relationship is not parasitic in nature. We work together to build our lives. It’s too bad that he didn’t meet me first, because if he had, he would not have ever been through divorce. But then, the divorce helped make him who he is today.

This was taken a couple of months ago. We were enjoying local wines.

I really appreciate younger daughter’s kind words. I am grateful that she understands that, just like her, I love her dad, and I want him to be happy. I do my best to make him happy, so we can both live our best lives. I think he has a similar attitude. That’s why we’re still happily married after almost 20 years. Ex, on the other hand, lamented today on Twitter that she will never have “true love”, because no man looks at her with “awe”. I guess she and #3 aren’t a match made in Heaven, after all.

That experience of changing my mind about younger daughter also reminds me of a few I’ve had with dogs. Yesterday, I posted about meeting a dog who usually snarls at me because I have Arran and Noyzi with me. But, when I met her at the weekly market, without my big dogs, she was perfectly sweet and gentle. Kind of like years ago, when one of the neighborhood kids on Fort Belvoir commented that she hated my beagles, Flea and MacGregor, because she thought they were mean. She based her opinion on their loud barks and baying when they were on their walks, catching scents among the old trees on post. But then another neighbor kid– our next door neighbor who knew my dogs well– explained that actually, my dogs LOVED kids. And then Flea went up to the girl and stood stock still so she could pet him. She looked up at me and BEAMED. Her opinion was changed, because now she had personal experience to the contrary to what she had previously believed. Ha ha ha… given these examples of minds being changed due to dogs, maybe I am kind of like a “bitch”. 😉 But anyway, the point is, with more information, one’s perspectives can quickly change.

Now… getting back to the AITA case that prompted this post. I want to comment on something I noticed in God’s “responses”. The person who wrote that article wrote it as if the stepmother was the girl’s parent. I know that all situations are different, but the stepmom specifically wrote that she doesn’t see herself in a “mom” role for that young lady. And, assuming the teenager has a real mother out there somewhere, I think that’s entirely appropriate. She is, after all, only 13 years older than the girl is. Given that she doesn’t see herself as a “mom”, she probably lacks the empathy a mom would have for a girl who needs sanitary napkins. Personally, I don’t think I would have blown up at the teen, but she did explain that her “hormones” were everywhere. And while wacky hormones aren’t really an excuse to be nasty and abusive, I do know from personal experience that they can affect a person’s mood. If I were the stepmom in this case, I would not appreciate it if the girl was in my room, going through my stuff, and taking things without asking first. That shows a lack of common and basic courtesy that, by age 16, I would expect in someone. Moreover, it actually IS her father’s, and her mother’s, responsibility to provide for their daughter– or at least provide her the means to obtain those items for herself. I know a lot of stepparents do become de facto parents, but it doesn’t sound like that’s how it is in this particular case.

Was the stepmom an “asshole” for blowing up at her stepdaughter? Well, yeah, she probably was. But I can see why she blew up. I think perhaps they need to have a serious chat about respecting each other’s space and belongings, particularly since there isn’t a “mom/daughter” dynamic in that relationship. Maybe they need to try to define what the stepmom’s role is, and act accordingly. Is she expected to be a mom? Or is she just a friend who happens to be married to dear old dad? If she’s a de facto “mom”, then yeah, I can see her talking to her stepdaughter about things like periods and helping her out when she needs supplies. That would be a kind thing to do regardless. But if she’s really just more of a “friend”, and the teen doesn’t see or treat her as a “mom”, then I would expect the teen to stay out of her “friend’s” bathroom cabinets, right? She wouldn’t dare brazenly go through a peer’s cabinets without permission, would she? Besides, stepmothers can’t seem to win for losing. A lot of people would blame them for trying to act like a “mom” to someone who already has a mother. And others would blame them for NOT acting like a mom and loving their stepchildren instantly and unconditionally. While it’s wonderful when stepparents can bond like that with their partners’ offspring from other relationships, the reality is, that simply doesn’t always happen, for a huge variety of completely legitimate reasons.

I am, technically, a stepmother myself, but I don’t feel like a mom to younger daughter. I’ve only met her once in person. On the other hand, she has made it clear that I probably have been more of the kind of mom she would have chosen for herself, if only because I don’t say or do toxic things, and I don’t interfere with her budding reconnection with her dad. In fact, unlike the stepmom in God’s article and Bill’s ex wife, I am delighted to share!

Seriously, though… I do know that some stepparents are truly awful, and I sympathize with those who are traumatized. But you know what? Some bio parents are awful, too. Regardless, most of us would do well to try to see things from another angle from time to time. And everyone should stop using the derogatory term “karen” as an insult. It’s a very stupid and unoriginal thing to do.

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Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology, scams

“Um… excuse me for noticing, but your slip is showing…”

Happy Friday, y’all. Tomorrow is the big day… we’re gonna load up the Volvo and drive south for a vacation in Switzerland, Italy, and Liechtenstein. I’m looking forward to going, although I always worry a bit when we leave home. I especially worry about Arran, who is getting pretty old, and doesn’t enjoy being boarded as much as he used to when he was younger. But one of the reasons we chose to live in Europe is so we could do some exploring of the continent. Because of the pandemic, we’ve been doing less of that in recent years. It’s time we got back to it, if only so I can justify keeping my travel blog going. I do still have a handful of readers there who don’t follow this blog at all, so I like to offer fresh and interesting content to them whenever possible.

I have some stuff to take care of in preparation for the trip. I still need to pack, and there are a couple of routine household chores I’d like to get done before we head off in the morning. But being busy hasn’t stopped me from checking in on Ex. I know a lot of people think I’m “obsessed” with her, and my preoccupation might even be “unhealthy”. I might agree with them; although at this point, I mostly find her intriguing, rather than personally threatening. As an occasional student of psychology, some of the things she does, and gets away with, are fascinating. I think I would find her interesting even if she hadn’t been married to Bill, and I didn’t know her backstory. As a somewhat “relatively normal” person, I am continually shocked by her gall and complete lack of authenticity.

Years ago, I used to love watching cartoons. When I think of Ex, I often think in terms of cartoons. On my original blog, I once famously compared Ex to Wile E. Coyote, because she often has “big” ideas that turn out to be harebrained schemes that eventually blow up in her face. When I wrote that post in the fall of 2018, I got a comment from a reader who felt my posts about Ex were/are completely inappropriate and in “poor taste”. This person, obviously not someone who knows me or the situation, probably assumed that Ex is a “normal” person and I’m just a mean, bitter, second wife. But she’s not a normal person, and if you know anything about her, that reality becomes very clear in a hurry. And I may be mean and bitter sometimes, but I have never once come close to doing some of the things Ex does on a regular basis to people she supposedly loves.

On the surface, she seems like a lovely, thoughtful, “normal” woman. But look closer, and you see who she really is. I often find myself comparing her to cartoon characters, maybe because some of her behavior is very cartoonish. In 2018, Ex’s antics reminded me of Wile E. Coyote… but in 2022, she reminds me more of Yosemite Sam.

“Your slip is showing.”

In 1955, Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam starred in a cartoon called “Sahara Hare”. Yosemite Sam comes riding in on a camel, yelling and carrying on. When the camel doesn’t “whoa” when Sam says “whoa”, he knocks the poor animal on the head with his rifle. Just your typical, garden variety bully, posturing for all the world to see, right?

Meanwhile, Bugs Bunny is bathing in an oasis, good naturedly singing as he steps out, in search of a towel. His eyes are shut when he encounters Yosemite Sam, who wears desert garb that covers his head. Bugs mistakes Sam’s head covering as a towel. Sam whirls around to confront the rascally rabbit, who is busily drying off with Sam’s garb. Bugs asks him what’s up, and wonders if he’s with the side show. Yosemite Sam responds by introducing himself in threatening terms… to which Bugs says, “Your slip is showing.” This makes Sam cower in shame as he tries to cover up something that embarrasses him.

Of course, Bugs was conning him…

Realizing that he’s been duped into shame and humiliation, and feeling determined to gain Bugs Bunny’s respect, Sam gets angry and starts firing his weapon at Bugs, who is calmly departing the scene and easily missing Sam’s bullets. But then Sam nearly misses Bugs, who takes off running. Sam gets back on the camel and screams at him to follow Bugs. The camel doesn’t move, until Sam hits him again… then he won’t stop running, again causing Sam to hit him over the head with his gun.

Yep… Sam is really nothing but a bully, putting on a facade that is meant to intimidate other people. But really, he’s just an abusive, foolish, buffoon, who doesn’t manage to sway the astute. Only the naive or unaware are impressed or intimidated by Sam– a cartoon character who cowers in shame when a rabbit tells him that his “slip is showing”, even after he’s postured this loud, obnoxious, ridiculous spectacle that is supposed to be scary.

Young people among us might not know that a slip is an undergarment, typically worn by women, underneath dresses or skirts made of sheer or otherwise revealing material. It’s intended to preserve modesty, and cover up panty lines and the “naughty bits”… or private parts, if you prefer. That a tough talking little turd like Sam is wearing women’s undergarments is also a statement about his status as a “beta”, trying to act like an “alpha”.

In these more “enlightened” times, this cartoon might seem hopelessly sexist and un-PC, but the point is, Sam is trying to be something he’s really not. He’s a coward and a bully, who preys on the weak, foolish, and gullible. In that way, he’s kind of like Donald Trump. I don’t know how many of us ladies are still wearing slips these days, but when they were commonly worn, just like underwear, slips weren’t supposed to be shown to others. And men, at least in 1955, weren’t supposed to wear slips at all. So, the fact that Sam rushed to hide his “slip” from the trickster bunny is especially embarrassing and shameful.

Now Ex does have her moments of acting like the fiery version of Yosemite Sam. When she gets angry, she’s reportedly kind of “scary”… not that I’ve experienced it directly. I have just been here in the aftermath of other people’s dealings with her. I believe them when they say that she has her “Yosemite Sam” moments, and is full of bluster that can be frightening to experience. Ex also doesn’t really bluff much. Call her on her bullshit, she will happily cut off her nose to spite her own face– or more often, other people’s faces– just to try to “prove you wrong”. While a lot of her antics are, at best, truly ridiculous, sometimes she does do damaging, and even dangerous, things in her efforts to command “respect”.

Like, for instance, she gave up Bill’s generous financial support of his adult daughters, which I know she could and would have used, even though, technically, it wasn’t her money. She realized that maintaining control of offspring, and the official narrative of what really happened, was more important to her than access to Bill’s money was. It also didn’t seem to matter to her that Bill’s daughters might have appreciated having that support, or even access to Bill’s 9/11 GI Bill for college expenses. She was much more focused on her own agenda and what suited her, not what was actually best for Bill’s daughters. I specify Bill’s daughters, because Ex’s other kids aren’t his responsibility, even if he did raise and pay support for Ex’s son with #1. She probably treats her kids with #3 somewhat similarly, although sometimes it seems like Bill’s daughters got the worst treatment– as if they needed to be punished for having his DNA. From what we’ve heard, #3’s daughter seems to be the current golden child.

But, even though Ex was proud to stop taking child support from Bill, and was all too ready to stop her daughters from getting the support directly, she still needs money. She also needs a lot of attention and narcissistic supply. So, she will do things like force her children to take out loans that she can skim from. And, for some reason, she feels compelled to present a completely false version of herself to the world. The opinions of strangers seem to be much more important to her than the opinions of family members. I find that very interesting, which is why I continue to watch her. Of course, I also watch her because she’s repeatedly proven that she’s very underhanded and not above trying to take advantage of people in Bill’s family.

So anyway, this week, after a period of relative calm and quiet, Ex resurfaced with more of her outrageous bullshit. On one social media platform, she shared several memes, accompanied by nonsensical blather that sounded good, but weren’t actually in harmony with specific actions that she’s taken. Click on the images to see what I mean.

Um… this was NEVER an issue with Ex. In fact, in over 20 years of observing her, I have seen that she’s not one to consider other people’s feelings or needs, at least not unless there is something in it for her. Other people are usually catering to her whims.

I really have no idea if she actually believes the crap she routinely spews to the masses. I know she hopes that other people will believe it, and she must get some kind of payback from affirmative comments, positive reactions, and validation she gets from total strangers. But people who really know her, or have even just been exposed to people who know her, realize that this is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors she puts out to the world for some reason. She is a very manipulative person, and it’s not wise to take anything she says or writes at face value.

Making things stranger is the fact that Ex puts out details that have an element of truth within them. Ex did, for instance, work as a university administrator for some years. But we know that Ex dropped out of high school and got a GED, just as her oldest kids did (not sure about her youngest daughter). Ex talks about her alleged goals that were thwarted by other people– her adoptive mom, her adoptive and step dads, her ex husbands, her children (especially her “severely autistic and non-verbal” son), or other entities that supposedly took advantage of her or ripped her off– ie. Mary Kay Cosmetics, Nutrisystem, the LDS church, etc. The list goes on and on. She never seems to be satisfied; she never takes personal responsibility; and her plans are always seemingly overtaken by events or the “bad actions” of other people.

Younger daughter told us that she was forced to leave public school when she was a teenager. Ex made her get a GED, then enroll in college classes, so she could get student loans, something Ex learned about in her role as an administrator, and possibly from her multiple attempts to get her own bachelor’s degree. Ex took the money that wasn’t used by tuition and spent it, leaving younger daughter to pay off the debt. Sadly, younger daughter didn’t even manage to finish the degree. Older daughter supposedly did get a degree, but still lives with her mother and has lots of debt. Ex has had multiple bankruptcies, but here she is dispensing advice as if she’s an expert on education. She did, supposedly get a master’s degree in education, but she’s never really used it professionally. In fact, she left her “university job” because she got fired… something about “mishandling funds”, which prompted her to move across country to a new place, where she hasn’t repeatedly shit in the local well of human forbearance and understanding.

One would think, looking at Ex’s public persona, that she’s a very loving, caring, and devoted mom and wife. But yet, instead of taking care of her family, as she claims she does, she’s posting crap for the masses… especially for celebrities. And there always seems to be a hook for money, narcissistic supply, and some kind of prestige or recognition by people who don’t even know her, and will never even meet her.

As I mentioned up post, I find Ex to be a fascinating character. If I were a practicing mental health professional, I would probably alternately be amazed and frustrated by her. A psychiatrist or psychologist (or both) could write quite an interesting book about her. But I think the personal price they would have to pay to create such a book would be much too high to justify the effort. Still, she really is something… and I must admit, I’m probably too wedded to watching her in action. Maybe our trip will help refocus my attention to things other than Ex’s slip… and the facade she constantly puts up that is always slipping to show the ugliness underneath.

It must be exhausting to have to constantly create this fantasy world she lives in, along with the constant framing of the narrative so that people will believe that she’s really who she claims to be. There’s a very human part of me that feels empathy for Ex, and a smaller part that is kind of amused by her. But then I remember what she did to Bill, who is the best person I know, and I get angry again. So here I am, processing this shit on my blog for anyone to read. Maybe I’m no better than she is, but at least I am not passing this crap on to my children… because in part, thanks to her, I don’t have any. Well, I’ll at least try to keep things real. You may not like what you see in me, but at least what you see is what you get. I try to be honest and authentic, even if the real me isn’t always a pretty sight. I find that being that way keeps most of the malicious fuckers away from me.

Anyway, I don’t mind if my slip is showing. Remember, I like to go to nude German spas. Speaking of which, it’s time I closed this post and got on with my chores, so we can get on the road tomorrow. Have a great Friday, y’all.

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Duggars, narcissists, poor judgment, psychology, religion

Ben Seewald is currently in the dog house. History shows it’s a familiar place for him.

Well… I thought I might have a non Duggar topic for today, but all I can think about this morning is that clip I saw of Ben Seewald and Jim Bob Duggar interacting at Jill and Derick Dillard’s 2014 nuptials. And since I’ve recently been watching videos about body language, I think I’ll just go with what’s in my head this morning. In a manner of speaking, writing about Ben Seewald is kind of a change of pace. I don’t usually pick on him. I’ll try to be gentle.

A little mood music for this post. It’s inappropriate and rude, so be warned. This song is stuck in my head.

Here goes…

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how Jim Bob Duggar is facing a “difficult season”. His eldest son, Josh, is sitting in the county jail awaiting sentencing for his crimes against children. He lost his bid to run for an Arkansas Senate seat. And now, his son-in-law, Derick Dillard, who is married to his formerly beloved Jilly Muffin, is slamming him publicly on social media. Derick Dillard had some very “choice” words for his wife’s father. I shared them in yesterday’s post, but for the sake of simplicity, I will share them again in this post.

Dayum, Derick… tell us how you really feel!

The other day, I wrote another post in which I commented on The Transformed Wife’s assertions that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are “very good parents”. Now, I don’t agree with that at all, and you “regulars” probably already know why. I’ve explained many times why I think the Duggar parents are frauds and grifters. They have been using their children to bankroll their hypocritical “fundie Christian” platform for way too many years. I think a lot of their “Christian” ideals are put on for the cameras. Christianity serves as a facade for what I believe is really Jim Bob’s narcissistic mini cult. Today’s post about Ben Seewald highlights an example of what I mean.

In the post I wrote two days ago about Jim Bob’s and Michelle’s alleged “very good” parenting, I included a video of Jill’s and Derick’s wedding episode on 19 Kids and Counting. When that video originally aired, I remember being absolutely floored as I watched Jim Bob, Derick, and the rest of the male part of the wedding party getting dressed. There was a subtle incident in that episode that I think pretty much sums up Ben’s relationship with Jim Bob and, quite frankly, his wife, Jessa. The interaction I’m referring to happened very quickly. It was so fast that a lot of people probably missed it. I haven’t seen anyone else bring up this incident prior to today. But, to me, it speaks volumes…

Anyway, here’s what happened. Jim Bob and Michelle were watching everybody getting dressed for the wedding. They both spotted Ben Seewald, who was, at that point, just “courting” Jessa. Ben was wearing a black tie. Michelle Duggar was wearing an absolutely hideous silver dress that I think makes her look like a fish. Not surprisingly, Michelle bragged about getting that dress from the clearance rack. It’s obvious to me why that dress was on clearance. Michelle then commented that Ben needed to iron his necktie. The tie, which appeared to be cheap and made of polyester, was a bit rumpled. Jim Bob agreed with Michelle…

I remember trying to find video of the above incident some time ago. I knew it was in Jill’s and Derick’s wedding episode, but I kept missing it. It’s very easy to overlook this interaction, since it lasts just a few seconds. However, given what has happened to this family since 2014, I think this incident is quite profound. Below is a YouTube video of the wedding episode. You can see this ridiculous and cringeworthy interaction for yourself at around the 41-42 minute mark.

Fun times.

Now… the other day, I briefly mentioned this “necktie” incident, but that was before Derick wrote his Facebook post slamming Jim Bob for being a verbally abusive and manipulative liar, and a complete hypocrite. After Derick posted his strongly worded comments that directly called out Jim Bob, Ben came back with this rather “bitchy” and passive aggressive rebuke that sort of indirectly calls out Derick for being “rude”. He claims being “rude” is being “weak”. I don’t know how Ben finds the nerve to call Derick “weak”, when he can’t even address him by name and has to hide behind the Bible… and he literally lets their father-in-law lead him around like a dog while they’re on camera!

Um… don’t you think Derick has the right to be rude to Jim Bob, given what happened to his WIFE, Ben? Where are your balls? In Jim Bob’s dog house? Or in Jessa’s purse?

I don’t usually pick on Ben too much, although I remember thinking, when he and Jessa started “courting”, that Jessa could do better. He seemed so young, immature, and, frankly, kind of wimpy. I thought Jessa would go for someone a little more assertive. But hell, I don’t know Jessa or what turns her on. I have noticed that she tends to be snarkier than a lot of her sisters. It seems pretty clear to me that in spite of Ben’s alleged biblically “superior” gender and his supposed role as “protector” and headship, Jessa is the one who rules the roost. And you know, that’s fine, if that’s how it works best for them as a couple. But I do think that Ben made a fool of himself with the above post. He clearly lacks a spine and perspective.

Remember this, Ben? (and Jim Bob)

Instead of calling out Derick in a straightforward way, using his own words, Ben relies solely on scripture and a “bitchy”, peevish tone. He seems to have completely missed the point, hasn’t he? Jim Bob is partially responsible for the fact that Josh Duggar was allowed to abuse his sisters and a babysitter, along with God only knows how many other young females. Jim Bob, supposed headship, protector, provider, and megadick almighty, did not live up to the role that he claims is so important, according to Bill Gothard’s principles. Jim Bob failed to lead and protect his own family in his own household. Then Jim Bob had the nerve to try to inflict the rest of Arkansas with his spineless, self-serving, misogynistic and money grubbing agenda by running for public office, which thank God he did not succeed in winning.

And now, following his father-in-law’s toxic example, instead of standing up to Derick in an assertive way, Ben Seewald snivels, passive aggressively hiding behind Bible verses, and not directly addressing anyone in particular. But we all know he’s throwing shade at Derick for speaking out against Big Daddy Duggar. I can practically picture Ben’s pissed, humiliated facial expression captured in the screenshots above, as I see him posting the above rebuke to his brother-in-law.

What the hell, Ben? Where are your priorities?

Ben is supposedly studying to be a pastor. He works for Jim Bob. He lives in a house owned by Jim Bob. It’s too small for his growing family, but instead of going out and getting what he needs, he relies on Boob and sticks up for him when another son-in-law justifiably criticizes Jim Bob. Ben needs to grow up and reclaim his balls. He needs to get a life, “leave and cleave”, and stop being such a goddamned bitch, doing it “doggy style” for Jim Bob. Even if he doesn’t agree with Derick, Ben should own up to it and address Derick directly, like a man.

I’m not the only one who has noticed how wimpy Ben Seewald has a tendency to be. It’s being discussed in the Duggar Family News community. Katie Joy has also tackled it, although I started writing this post before I listened to her video. I pretty much agree with Katie on this. Ben has missed the point, and he’s totally calling out the wrong person. Ben doesn’t want to piss off Daddy Duggar, because Daddy Duggar is bankrolling his lifestyle. But what a yucky way to have to live! Who wants to kiss Jim Bob’s ass for the rest of their lives? Derick clearly is more mature and courageous than his brother-in-law, Ben, is. I think if Boob had tried to lead Derick by the tie, Derick would have knocked the hell out of him. Maybe he would have done it verbally instead of physically, but he would not have let Jim Bob treat him like that.

For more on this…

Again, I really don’t know what the dynamic is like between Ben and the rest of the Duggars. It almost seems like Ben should have taken Jessa’s last name, though. He’s definitely showing signs of submission, which is not necessarily a bad thing, even in a man. But I do think that if one is submissive, one should embrace that and OWN it. Ben’s attempt at being “manly” by calling Derick “rude” is PATHETIC. Either man up and be assertive, or keep being a submissive lap dog. If I could, I would say this to Ben…

Ben– for God’s sake, your WIFE was molested, as a young girl, by her brother in Jim Bob’s house. And Jim Bob did NOTHING to fix the problem! Look at where Josh is! Maybe if Jim Bob had gotten his son arrested as a teenager, he might still be in jail. Or, maybe if he’d hooked Josh up with a therapist, Josh might still have offended. But at least he would have TRIED!!!! Ben, why the hell are you defending Jim Bob? He didn’t defend your wife– his own daughter– when it was clearly his responsibility to do so, under your own religious beliefs! Derick may be “rude”, but at least he cares about his wife, and he clearly LOVES and protects her. That’s a real man who doesn’t do it “doggy style”.

I have repeatedly stated on this blog that abuse thrives in secrecy, especially child abuse. I know it goes against what a lot of people think of as “polite behavior” when other people air their “dirty laundry”, but abusers THRIVE on people who don’t want to make a scene, upset the apple cart, or rock the boat. Abusive people demand that their victims be silent and keep their secrets. They use shame and humiliation to keep their victims down so they can continue to manipulate, exploit, and abuse others. Jim Bob is clearly very narcissistic, and Ben has signed on as one of his “flying monkeys”… or, perhaps he’s more of a lap dog. Either way, it’s pathetic, and it will eventually lead Ben down the road to ruin. He’s following a loser, and the loser will not take him anywhere worth going.

People who speak out against bad behavior may seem “rude” and obnoxious. I have been called “bitter”, “petty”, and “snotty” myself, for calling out certain abusers in my life and writing about them in this blog. However, I’ve also noticed that fewer people try to abuse me because I simply don’t tolerate it anymore. I would rather suffer or cause someone else some embarrassment, than tolerate abuse, exploitation, and disrespect.

Being an abuse victim is unhealthy and unworkable. If not being silent means people like me less, so be it. I’d rather have genuine people in my life who have real regard for me, than someone who just hangs around because I keep their secrets and do their bidding.

It seems to me that Derick Dillard has similar opinions to mine, when it comes to showing and receiving basic respect. Good for him for being a real man, instead of acting like another one of Jim Bob’s lap dogs. And may Ben find and CLAIM his balls very soon, instead of just playing with them when Jim Bob and Jessa give him permission and hiding behind posting passive aggressive Bible verses on Facebook.

And here’s a link to Red Peters’ hilarious album that provided the “mood music” for today. As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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mental health, psychology, rants

I didn’t even know this was a thing…

Living in Germany for seven years has taken me out of the loop regarding certain American cultural mores. Like, for instance, Halloween etiquette. Germans are catching on to Halloween, but by and large, it’s not really a thing here. I do remember years past, when Bill and I were living in the United States. We would carve a jack o’ lantern (poorly) and wait for kids in cute costumes to ring the bell and yell “trick or treat!”. When we lived on Fort Belvoir, we would get dozens of kids on Halloween! But now, if we buy candy for Halloween, we mostly end up eating it ourselves.

Anyway, a friend of mine has three sons that she worked very hard for… When I say she “worked hard”, I mean it took a lot of effort for her to get, and stay, pregnant. She finally had a son and twin boys, and she’s really into raising them. We became friends at a time when I was also hoping to become a mother. I didn’t work as hard at it as she did, though.

One of my friends’ children has autism. I don’t know how high on the spectrum the lad is, but I do see his mom posting a lot about autism and the causes associated with it. Yesterday, she posted this image.

Wow… I wouldn’t have even known what to think if someone rang my bell and had a blue pumpkin bucket.

I think I had dimly heard of the teal candy bucket for kids with food allergies. I don’t think I ever knew anything about the blue buckets for people with autism. Either way, if someone comes to my house trick or treating, of course I’m going to give them candy. I can’t imagine why someone would give a person a hard time on a night that’s supposed to be about fun. I don’t even care if it’s an adult who’s got their hand out, looking for a sweet. Who cares? I also would never fat shame someone on Halloween– I do remember a few years ago, some woman getting in the news because she handed out fat shaming letters to fat kids on Halloween instead of giving them candy. That sucks!

But again, it’s been a long time since I last was expected to pass out any candy on October 31, and many of the places we’ve lived in the States haven’t been conducive to trick or treaters, anyway. In Georgia and North Carolina, we lived way out in the boonies and didn’t have many neighbors, and we never got Halloween visitors. So this is an issue I probably would have stayed ignorant to, if not for my online friend with a child who has autism.

I probably took more interest in the above post because I also recently got into it with a woman who is mutually friended to a lady I met on the Recovery from Mormonism message board. The woman who argued with me, took offense because I disagree with banning the word “retard”. I don’t think people should be using that word as an insult, but to ban it outright is a bridge too far, in my view. It has other meanings besides the insulting one.

In the course of that argument about why she thinks the word “retard” should be forbidden, the woman told me that one of my comments was “stupid”. I took that as hugely hypocritical and ended up blocking her, because she was being offensive and wasting my time. It seems to me that if a person doesn’t want to be insulted, they shouldn’t be insulting to others. But again, she said she has autism, and maybe people with autism lack the ability to practice what they preach. I honestly don’t know. I am ignorant on that topic.

I will totally admit that I don’t know much about autism. I probably would have known more if Bill had been able to raise his older daughter, who is reportedly on the spectrum. But the fact remains, I don’t know too much about this phenomenon… only that when I was growing up, we didn’t hear about it nearly as much as we do now. I’m sure it existed, and there were probably many undiagnosed people who had it and were trying to function in a world made for neurotypical people. Things seem to have been a lot more black and white when I was a kid.

Nowadays, it seems like everyone feels like all of the people in the world should automatically change their way of thinking and doing things. Many people seem to be loudly and aggressively demanding that change. Not surprisingly, they’re being met with resistance by people who don’t like to be told what to do. I’m not saying the change isn’t necessary. It often is. But expecting everyone and everything to change on a dime is unrealistic and unfair. Aside from that, people are going to occasionally fuck up and say or do something insensitive. That’s life.

I appreciate the people who feel the need to be educators and activists on the autism issue. I don’t mind being clued in on things I don’t know about. But I am a little bit confused about some things. First off– do people want special treatment or consideration because they have a certain disability? Or do they want to be treated like everyone else is treated? It seems to me that if they want to be treated like everyone else is treated, it’s not realistic to also expect special treatment.

If someone wants to be treated like everyone else is treated, autism or other issues must be irrelevant. Declaring a need for certain considerations means that a person isn’t like everyone else is. That doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of respect. It simply means that the person has special needs that need to be accommodated and, in fact, they aren’t like everyone else is. What’s wrong with that, as long the differences are handled with kindness, discretion, and sensitivity?

Secondly, do people want complete privacy? Or do they want special consideration because they have a certain condition? If they want privacy, how can they expect special consideration for a medical problem? If I don’t know anything about someone’s health challenges, how can I know what their needs are? How can I address them?

Take, for instance, the exchange I had last week with the woman who argued with me over disagreeing that the word “retard” should be banned. When she responded, she immediately qualified her first statement by saying, “I have autism.”

I thought to myself, “So?” So you have autism. Does that mean I don’t get to have an opinion about this? Like I said, I don’t know much about autism, but I do know that having it doesn’t mean a person has a poor intellect. Should I have felt sorry for her for having autism? Does it give her license to speak to me in any way she pleases? Or should I treat her the way I would treat anyone who aggressively attacks my opinions?

The woman who argued with me clearly was articulate enough. Do people routinely call her “retarded”? If so, that’s definitely wrong. But she’s obviously not someone with a slow intellect anyway. Based on what little I could tell about her, she should have been capable of understanding my point without attacking me and calling me “stupid”. We should have been able to have a calm discussion without her laying into me aggressively and sarcastically. Or is that not possible with a person who has autism? I honestly don’t know. If being unable to be respectful is a feature of autism, I hope someone will tell me. But even if it is a feature, how would I even know that a random person has autism if they don’t tell me? And if I don’t know, how can I give them special consideration?

I think everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and basic respect. That means giving people the benefit of the doubt if they disagree. Just because someone doesn’t share your views, that doesn’t necessarily always mean they’re a bad person or even in need of “education”. They might just have a different perspective, and maybe it’s one you’ve never even considered. Also, opinions aren’t facts. Everyone has a right to their opinions, but they should not be presented as facts.

My favorite color happens to be blue. When I was a child, I probably would have loved to have had a blue pumpkin as my candy bucket. And my mom, who wasn’t up on all the childhood trends, even in the early 1980s, probably would have bought it for me out of sheer ignorance. I would expect that if I went door to door looking for candy on Halloween night, the people in my neighborhood wouldn’t have given me any shit about having a blue pumpkin, but not having autism or some other disorder. It would not have been their business.

The comments on the original post about the blue pumpkin got pretty heated. I noticed some people were lauding the post, but others took huge issue with it. Things got pretty wild. Have a look.

Like I said, I don’t know much about autism. My guess, based on the above comments and my recent interaction with someone claiming to be autistic, is that people with autism are very sensitive about some things. I can see that none of the people commenting above have any issues with their intellects. They are all writing coherently and correctly. But they’ve all aggressively dog piled on this woman who disagreed with them, albeit in a rude and profane way, and are now engaging in some of the behavior that they were initially denouncing. I’ve seen similar behavior in other online discussions, particularly in military circles. I find this kind of behavior disturbing, and I highly doubt much came of this discussion, other than some raised adrenaline.

It seems to me that being kinder and less antagonistic would net better results than being accusatory and insulting… Yes, the first poster was wrong to say the post was “full of shit”, and she was wrong to write “only an idiot”. But then the mob descends upon her, questioning her parenting skills, saying she’s a poor example to her child, and making sweeping assessments of a perfect stranger’s character. It seems very hypocritical to me. What would have happened if most of them had responded in a calm, kind, and understanding manner, rather than resorting to lecturing, shaming, and insults of their own? But again, maybe this is a part of autism that I don’t know anything about. People with autism get to be shaming, but other people have to be “respectful” toward them.

In any case… I think the original poster, who’s been threatened with “banning”, should bow out of that group and find one that is less hostile. It doesn’t appear that she’s very welcome there, which is a shame. Maybe she DOES need to be educated. At the same time, the folks in the autism group are certainly right to try to educate people, but there’s a way to do so that won’t be alienating. Other people have the right to their opinions, too. And it’s hard to get anywhere in a discussion when it devolves into namecalling and insults. There’s no reason in the world why people in that group should have said such personally insulting things to a total stranger, even if the original poster did initially come off as rude and offensive.

And if people don’t want to be “outed” for having autism, perhaps they shouldn’t be using it as a pass for being so hostile and insulting to other people. I get wanting to be respected. Everybody wants that. But just because a person has autism or some other issue, that doesn’t give them the right to expect special consideration and engage in hypocrisy, particularly in an online interaction. I’ve found that people often mirror back to you what you put into the world. Besides that, everyone has challenges and difficulties. I don’t have autism, but people have been mean to me, too. I try not to let it get me down for too long.

That being said… anyone who knocks on my door on Halloween is welcome to candy, regardless of their age, weight, costume, or whether or not they say “trick or treat”. Because I don’t need any more presents for my ass.

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family, LDS, love, marriage

Discovering you’re wife #4…

Yesterday, someone wrote an off topic post on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. Or, she’d labeled it as OT. Personally, I didn’t think it was an off topic post at all. I’m sure a lot of people who are ex members of the LDS church can relate to the ultimate breach of trust and lack of respect she describes with this post.

I was aware of my husband’s previous marriage. What I didn’t know, until I recently discovered it, is that I’m actually wife #4, not #2, I thought. We discussed previous relationships before we got married, but he referred to them as relationships, not marriages. I also pulled out our marriage license application where you have to declare which marriage this is…he wrote “second”.

When asked why he did this, he replied, “it was along time ago, the marriages were so short, I thought you may not marry me, you didn’t ask”.

I’m really struggling with this. It feels kinda like discovering hidden church stuff all over again.

This lady’s post was up for several hours before someone responded to it. I happened to be that person. My comment to her was this:

I don’t blame you for being upset. I would wonder what else I wasn’t told in that situation. It’s a breach of trust.

I could have written more, but I was on my iPad and it’s a pain to type on the iPad. Also, I really just wanted her to feel heard and validated without having to wade through too much. Her instincts are correct. Her husband lied to her, and that’s a major betrayal. I’m not an ex Mormon, but Bill is. When we met, he claimed to be a devout church believer. However, we met in a place not typically frequented by church types. After awhile, I realized he was trying to convince himself that he was a believer. He wanted to save his first marriage– felt it was his duty to try to save it, even though it was a relationship built on bullshit. Those kinds of relationships pretty much never last.

A couple of hours later, another nevermo regular poster also replied. She agreed with me. Then, came the somewhat inappropriate responses from men. One guy wrote:

“Everyone with the ability to speak ‘edits’ their life story.”

That may be true… but glossing over two previous marriages is a bit extreme, in my view, even if they were super short and “meaningless”. At the very least, it means that her spouse once had little regard for the institution of marriage. He obviously didn’t take it seriously a couple of times in his life. I would have a hard time regaining trust for my husband if it turned out he’d hidden something this significant. I also think it says something when the spouse who lies by omission says something like “I was afraid you wouldn’t marry me if you knew the whole truth about me.” Cover ups are almost always worse than the truth. At least if you tell someone the truth, they have the ability to decide for themselves about the right thing to do .

I’m interested in the whole story… even the ugly parts. Sometimes, the ugly parts make the story more compelling.

Consider this. If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, you know that I love my husband with all my heart. This year, we will have been happily married for 19 years. But if I’d relied only on my common sense, I never would have married him. He had a lot of baggage that would have sent a lot of women packing. Here’s a list of his “shortcomings” from those early days, over twenty years ago.

  • He had bad credit. He and Ex had gone through both a foreclosure and a bankruptcy. After getting to know him, I realized that Bill wasn’t the one with the problem handling money. But if I had been exercising common sense, I wouldn’t have gotten involved with him because of his financial issues.
  • He was broke. After his divorce, Bill was paying over half his salary to Ex in child support and alimony. It was really tough going for awhile, but I realized it was a time limited issue. And, based on our lifestyle, you can see that I was right.
  • His ex wife was (and still is) legitimately “crazy”. Those of you who have followed my blogs probably already know how crazy. She has no compunction about making insane demands on people and smearing them to others. She withheld visitation with the kids from Bill and completely alienated them after he married me. I strongly suspect she has a character disorder.
  • He’d had a vasectomy. Bill is not only my first husband; he’s also the only man I’ve ever been intimate with. I wanted to have children, and he’d already had them with Ex, who then asked him to have a vasectomy. He obliged. However, he was willing to have it reversed for me. That was enough for me, even though I never managed to have children. Now, I realize maybe not having children was a good thing, given how complicated his situation with Ex and their kids has been.
  • He was involved in a “weird” religion. Not everyone thinks Mormonism is “weird”, but coming from the South, where most people are Protestants, it was certainly different to me. Fortunately, Bill wasn’t that committed to Mormonism, nor did he feel compelled to convert me. If he had, our relationship probably would not have worked. I can tell you right now, I would never willingly be involved in a faith that dictates what undergarments I wear or what beverages I choose to drink. Other people’s mileages vary, of course.
  • I met him on the Internet in a chat room! I might as well have met him in a bar!

So why has our relationship worked, given all of these “obvious” shortcomings? It’s worked because Bill was completely honest with me. Three months after we started chatting, he sent me a long email explaining everything, even though he worried that I might reject him. Also, he stayed platonic in his conversations with me until he was legally divorced. He even wore his wedding ring until his split was official. We didn’t meet in person until about a year after his divorce was official. Even after the divorce was official, he wasn’t inappropriate with me. I realized that he was a decent, honest person and I could trust him. He also eventually learned that he could trust me, despite what he’d been through in his first marriage.

It took about five years before Bill completely trusted me with finances. He finally gave me access to his bank account when he deployed to Iraq and I had to handle the household bills. While he was gone, I made a point of paying off all of the horrible, high interest credit cards he had because he’d trusted his ex wife to pay the bills and she hadn’t. A year later, USAA, which had taken a loss in his bankruptcy, granted him a new credit card. PenFed let him refinance a car loan, saving us hundreds of dollars. He’s never missed paying a bill the whole time we’ve been together. He now has an excellent credit score.

When Bill goes on business trips, he is incredibly reliable about contacting me. In fact, it’s almost annoying… I’ll be watching a movie or something and he’ll want to chat. But I appreciate it, because I know he’s thinking of me and is faithful. I don’t worry about him fucking around when he goes TDY. He is extremely respectful and faithful, and I knew he was when he was still married to his ex wife. Meanwhile, she was shacking up with her now third husband in the house Bill was paying for and she later let go into foreclosure. I was certain he was trustworthy when I met him, and so far, he’s proven me right.

Over the years, Bill has been incredibly brave about telling me pretty much everything about his life, even some things that are completely embarrassing and potentially humiliating. And he has had quite a life… and a lot of weird stuff has happened to him. He could write a book. Every day, I’m amazed at how balanced, reliable, and decent he is, despite everything that has happened in his past. He could have chosen not to tell me about the embarrassing things in his past and risked being rejected by me. But, it turns out I was willing to trust my instincts, rather than common sense. I knew he was the best kind of person, and I was right. It would devastate me if he’d hidden something as major as prior marriages, no matter how short. It would mean he didn’t trust me, and that would make me wonder if I should be trusting him.

I don’t think strong relationships start with deception, either outright untruths or lies by omission. When I married Bill, I was taking on a new relative. That means he’s family… family I CHOSE. I wouldn’t voluntarily choose to make someone a family member if he didn’t trust me enough to tell me the whole truth about who he is. Likewise, I would expect my partner to know everything there is to know about me. But I also realize that I have been extremely lucky. Bill is an honest person who doesn’t hide skeletons in the closet. I am also an honest person. We told each other the truth. A person who can’t handle hearing the whole truth about serious issues before agreeing to marriage is probably not the best candidate to be husband or wife.

A good example of times when honesty is NOT the best policy…

Now… it’s true that I do believe in being completely honest about the major things, like prior marriages, criminal history, health situations, and finances. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s always a good thing to be completely honest about everything. Like, for instance, if Bill thinks my ass looks especially dumpy one day, he doesn’t have to be honest about that and tell me so! That would hurt my feelings unnecessarily, especially since there’s nothing I can immediately do about having a dumpy ass. Fortunately, he’s not the type of guy who is overly hung up on looks. 😉

But yes… if I found out that I was wife #4, rather than wife #2, I would be very hurt and feel betrayed. I think it would be difficult to trust a partner who hid something major like that from me. And I would not think too highly of someone who tried to brush it off by saying the marriages were short or insignificant and, therefore, unworthy of being mentioned. Marriage, to me, is a huge deal. The fact that someone got married twice, but doesn’t see them as significant is a huge red flag, in my opinion. I have a lot of empathy for the lady on RfM who is making this discovery now. I wish her luck and strength. She might even feel like she doesn’t even know this man anymore.

At least at this point, Bill and I are a team. We work together to achieve common goals. He supports what I do, and I support what he does. We trust each other, and, for the most part, we’re completely honest. We don’t hide things. Like… I can say whatever is on my mind and, for the most part, Bill doesn’t judge me for them. The same goes for Bill. Because I think we both know that neither of us wants the other person to be hurt. That being said, though, I also think I hit the husband lottery. Bill is an unusually mature and respectful person. Most people aren’t like him, including myself. I never forget that, and I try not to abuse it.

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