disasters, divorce, Ex, narcissists, royals

How petty, toxic, narcissists take revenge, and the estrangement that follows…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having been married to a man with an apparently very narcissistic ex wife, it’s that narcissists love to take revenge. Many times, over my almost twenty year marriage to Bill, I’ve observed Ex being spiteful to those who dare to cross her in any way. On a few occasions, Ex has tried to take revenge on Bill by using his children and other family members as weapons. She doesn’t seem to care that her attempts to get even are usually not just hurtful to her targets. They also hurt innocent people, like her children. And now that she has grandchildren, I fear that they could also be harmed, unless their parents keep them far away from her, and her toxic influence.

I’m reminded of this truism as I watch and read the news about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, abruptly flying back to California on a private jet before the Platinum Jubilee even finished. I think it’s safe to say that their return to Britain was not particularly triumphant, as Harry and Meghan were treated like they’re now second class. They weren’t invited to the balcony to wave to the public. They didn’t sit with the Prince Charles or Prince William when they were in church. And the public booed them when they arrived and left the Thanksgiving church service. The couple did get to introduce their daughter, Lilibet, to Her Majesty the Queen, and their son, Archie, also got to be reunited with his British cousins. But there were no photographs of the event, and the “Harkles” were reportedly not given close access to their family members. It’s been hypothesized that they weren’t allowed to get close because of their deal with Netflix and Harry’s upcoming memoirs. The family wasn’t wanting any private moments to be exposed on Netflix or in Harry’s expected book of woe.

After the chilly reception the “Harkles” got in Britain, the family didn’t bother to stick around for the grand finale of the Platinum Jubilee. Maybe they had other urgent business to attend to back in California, but my guess is that they were really pissed. Or… maybe only Meghan was pissed, and Harry simply went along with her to keep the peace. That was how it often was with Bill and his ex wife. He’d do what she wanted to avoid the pain of what she’d do to get revenge. On the other hand, I suspect that Harry has a bit of a temper and can be a little spiteful, himself. I obviously don’t know him personally, but I’ve read the news, and I pay attention to body language, too. It probably wasn’t a hard sell to get Harry on board, if Meghan was the one who instigated the abrupt departure from the festivities.

Jesus Enrique Rosas talks about the potential reasons why Meghan and Harry might have decided to curtail their brief return to Britain.

Consider the circumstances of this situation, though. The Platinum Jubilee was a huge party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s remarkable 70 year reign. It wasn’t supposed to be a party to welcome back Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan. All of the working royals, to include Prince Charles and Prince William, their spouses, and the Queen herself, were going to be extremely busy. Also consider that the Brits can be delightfully snarky, and they have long memories. Did Harry and Meghan really think they could come back to Britain and not suffer some backlash? Of course people are upset with them, even if there is some truth to some of what they’ve said about the British Royal Family. To many people, Harry and Meghan are incredibly privileged people, and their behavior has come off as unbelievably petty and damaging. But– since I don’t know them personally, I will admit that it’s possible that Harry and Meghan felt the situation was toxic, and left only for that reason. I really doubt that’s what happened, though.

The Royal Grift’s video showing Peter Phillip’s chilly reaction to Meghan is referenced in Rosas’ video; I happened to see this two minute video yesterday, before I watched The Body Language Guy’s video today.

Narcissistic types don’t like it when people behave in ways they don’t expect, especially when they “push back” against the narcissist’s rude and entitled behavior. I suspect that the Harkles’ return to Britain was very humiliating, and it didn’t go off in the way they thought it would. And sadly, I think Meghan and Harry are going to try to make the rest of the British Royal Family “pay” for this treatment, which I think was probably deeply shaming to them. Why? Because I’ve seen the same shit in more ordinary circumstances with average, everyday people. And I know that narcissists, by and large, have a playbook that is uncannily familiar. It doesn’t matter if we’re discussing a royal family or trailer trash. Narcissists are capable of being unbelievably petty and spiteful.

Many years ago, when Bill and I were newly married, and Bill was trying to handle his business with Ex more assertively, he sent a “stern” and rather lengthy email to his ex wife. He was addressing the fact that she was alienating the children, insulting me, and being extremely greedy about money. She had demanded that he get another $500K life insurance policy, because she felt entitled to $1 million in coverage, in case he died before the children were grown. I wrote about that incident here, to include the actual emails that were sent. Bill was polite to Ex, but he made it clear that he wasn’t going to be her patsy anymore.

Ex was angry that Bill wasn’t going along with her demands without question. She sent a very brief and foreboding response, which I’ve posted below:

I would like to take a little while to absorb all that you have said.  It would seem my email to you was set in a very different tone that what I perceive is coming from you.  After all that you have done to the children, and me I find this …quite frankly …unbelievable and would prefer not to comment without having time to carefully choose my words.  You will hear from me again.

Bear in mind, this email was sent in 2003, just after the children had their one and ONLY unsupervised visitation with us. Bill saw them only once more when they were still children; that was at Christmas, in 2004. I famously opted out of attending that “celebration”, because I knew it would be a disaster, and I couldn’t see how my presence would make things better. We knew better than to tell Ex that I wouldn’t be attending the gathering, because my attendance was most of her whole purpose for setting up what amounted to a supervised visitation. She wanted to send me a message about my (diminished) place in the family, gather intel about me (the somewhat new and threatening wife), and still look like she was being generous by “sharing” the children. Most of all, she wanted to humiliate both of us, and shame us into doing what she wanted us to do. Of course, Bill had every right to see his kids, and now regrets not taking Ex to court and forcing her to allow visitation. But, unfortunately, that’s now water under the bridge.

As I figured it would be, that Christmas meeting was indeed a disaster. My conspicuous absence made things “weird” and awkward, and Ex ended up looking like a petty fool. Bill’s dad and stepmother were very embarrassed, although everyone basically fixed the blame on me for upsetting the apple cart. Ex decided to get revenge by completely severing Bill’s connection to his daughters and ex stepson. It didn’t matter to Ex at all that this would be very hurtful and damaging to her children. She just wanted to hurt Bill, and the children were the most effective weapons for that task.

A few years later, Ex wanted Bill to side with her, when ex stepson decided to leave home after turning 18. Bill was paying him child support directly, per the agreement he made with Ex in their divorce decree. As usual, Ex hadn’t thought ahead, and didn’t realize that having the kids paid directly when they became adults would give them the chance to rid themselves of her. So she called Bill in the spring of 2006 to ask– or really demand– that he not pay ex stepson any child support. Bill refused, and demanded to know about how his daughters were doing, since they refused to speak to him when he called.

Ex’s response was to send a nasty email that, once again, insulted me, even though I initially had nothing to do with ex stepson’s decision to leave home. Bill told me what she wrote, because although she had asked him to keep what she wrote about me a secret, Bill doesn’t keep secrets from his wife. I got very pissed off, and sent Ex an email of my own, which she promptly tried to weaponize. She spoke to Bill on the phone again, insulted me anew, told Bill that the kids hated him, and later sent him adoption paperwork, so that her loser third husband could legally adopt Bill’s daughters. She also forced her daughters to write letters disowning Bill, and sent several itemized packages of Bill’s possessions that she’d held on to for years. All of this landed on our doorstep, restricted delivery, as Bill and I were celebrating his 42nd birthday. It was very upsetting and TOXIC as fuck, but we handled it as best we could. Bill refused to sign the adoption papers, although he was tempted to for a minute. But there was no guarantee she would file them, and besides, he had no way of knowing if the girls had written those letters under duress (and younger daughter now confirms that they were, indeed, forced).

When her sick, manipulative tactics still didn’t work the way she’d expected, Ex doubled down even more, which led to ex stepson severing ties with Bill after we caught him changing his surname without telling Bill, as he was also accepting $850 a month in child support from him, and driving a used car that Bill gave him (as a 21 year old MAN, no less). That fiasco was, no doubt, very humiliating for ex stepson, who probably only did it because his mother influenced him to do it. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had a role model who has taught him that a little humility and contrition can go a long way in healing rifts. Instead of humbling himself, having an honest converstion, and apologizing to Bill, thus “mending fences”, he simply cut off all ties. The end result is that ex stepson is now quite estranged– not just from Bill, but also from the rest of his family. Younger daughter says he rarely has contact with Ex, or his siblings. He never liked #3, so it stands to reason that they wouldn’t speak. I don’t know if the estrangement makes him happy and gives him peace. Maybe, it does. Personally, I think it’s pathetic, especially since I know he once thought of Bill as his dad; but if being completely estranged from Bill pleases him, so be it.

When I look at Harry and Meghan, and the obvious estrangement happening within the British Royal Family, I can’t help but feel pings of familiarity. They may be a lot more famous than we are, but the petty dysfunctional narcissism playbook is very similar to what we’ve experienced. Sadly, in Her Majesty’s case, it’s all on display on an international stage, for everyone to see, and for everyone to speculate.

This is a pretty cheesy video that sounds narrated by AI, but it makes some sense. It sounds like her friends could see this coming.

I have great respect for Queen Elizabeth II. She has not had an easy time of it. She wasn’t even supposed to be the queen, and she had that duty thrust upon her at a very young age. She’s had to endure as her children and grandchildren and their spouses and exes have been embroiled in all sorts of embarrassing situations. Through all of the scandals over the years, the queen has managed to hold her head high with dignity. She’s a good sport, even appearing with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee. And even at age 96, when she’s no doubt easily tired, she still shows up for her people.

This is just adorable and makes me weepy every time I watch it… and I think I’ve already seen it a half dozen times. I used to own a Paddington Bear from the 1970s, complete with genuine Wellies. I wish I knew where he was.

I noticed that today, a new picture of Lilibet has been shared with the public. It’s a solitary photo, showing a smiling little girl with ginger hair and what appears to be blue eyes. She’s definitely adorable, and the public will eat up the coveted rare photo. I suspect that the Harkles’ children could wind up being their ticket to relevance, since it appears that neither the Royal Family, nor the British public, are going to stand for their manipulative bullshit. I suspect Meghan had visions of being like Harry’s mum, the iconic Princess Diana. Well, she’s no Diana… and it’s obvious that almost no one is going to indulge that fantasy for her.

Actions have consequences, and you don’t just marry into a hugely famous and powerful family, such as Harry’s, and think you can call the shots. That idea doesn’t always work for “normal” families, either. Especially when people have had enough bullshit and refuse to be indulgent anymore. Moreover, this behavior is clearly nothing new. Meghan’s own brother even tried to warn Prince Harry before the wedding.

I hope that Harry will eventually be able to reconcile with his family. Sadly, I suspect that if he does decide to go “home” again, he will probably have to sacrifice access to his children, on some level… and if it doesn’t happen soon, he may also lose his Granny. She’s 96, and no one lives forever. On the other hand, if anyone has access to good legal counsel, it’s the British Royal Family. So maybe Harry’s situation won’t be anything like Bill’s was. I sure hope not.

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Ex, narcissists, YouTube

How to effectively handle the “creators of misery” in the world…

This morning, I was watching Les Carter’s most recent video, and I had a flash of insight. Les Carter, for those who don’t know, is a psychologist in Texas who makes excellent videos about narcissists. And in the video I posted below, he describes narcissists as “creators of misery”. He says upfront that narcissists are not healthy people, and they don’t function on a rational plane. And unfortunately, narcissists “create misery” with maddening efficiency. They don’t seem to care at all about how awful they are. I think the worst thing about narcissists is that their behavior can be contagious. They infect people with their miserable behavior, and that makes people want to react in kind. Pretty soon, non-narcissistic people find themselves being dragged down to the narcissist’s level.

Once again, Les Carter shares wise counsel to those of us who are confronted by “creators of misery”…

Dr. Carter rationally explains why it’s best not to try to get “revenge” on the narcissist. They don’t care about your misery, and if you treat them the way they treat you, they’ll just ratchet up their usual tactics and continue to smear you. The best thing to do is to go “no contact”, or if that’s not possible, “grey rock” them– that is, be totally bland and boring, like a rock. It doesn’t seem fair to have to do that, though. I know that I, for one, don’t have the personality of a “grey rock”. It’s really hard for me to act like one.

Fortunately, the narcissist in my life doesn’t affect me personally. Instead, Ex visits her misery on people Bill and I care about. We are legitimately worried about people in Bill’s family who may fall prey to Ex and her usual grifting tactics. She’s grifting for money, sure, but she’s also looking for supply. It would be bad enough if she was just after money, but she also spreads misery and toxicity when she comes around. She causes pain. So this time, something does need to be done, rather than just ignoring her. But how can we effectively handle the “creator of misery” that is Ex?

I’ve mentioned more than once that my husband is a bit of a “white knight”. He tends to take responsibility for things that aren’t his responsibility. He tries to save people who don’t appreciate or deserve his efforts to save them. When he was married to Ex, he got dragged down to her level, not in terms of behaving like her, but in terms of enabling her toxicity. When she decided she wanted to conduct “ye olde surprise visit”, he went along with it. When she demanded that he allow her to handle the bills and manage the money, he let her do it, even though she created a huge financial hole that took him years to recover from. When she alienated the children and tried to sever his ties with his family of origin, he protested only slightly more. He didn’t avail himself of the law, or document her abuse. He simply sucked it up and drove on, which left her free to continue her misery creating fuckery with other innocent people.

While I can see that stooping to the narcissist’s level is ineffective and pointless, I do think there’s a difference between getting even with someone and holding them accountable when they do harm. Ex has done a LOT of harm over the years, not just to Bill, but to people connected to him. In fact, I have mentioned before that some of the things she does have “ripple effects”. I even wrote a blog post about that– calling it “Ripple eff-Ex” (see what I did there?). I don’t think I reposted the original blog post, but I did write a sequel. Since today is a light chore day, I think I’ll repost the original incarnation of that post. I think it was a pretty juicy one.

Les Carter’s video is the second one I’ve seen this week about how it’s important not to try to “get revenge” on a narcissist. The video directly below was done about a month ago by Jess Stanley, who has a great channel that is based on her experiences dating a narcissist. Jess reminded her viewers that narcissists don’t care about your feelings, and they don’t “learn lessons” when you try to “show them”. Really, all trying to get revenge does is bring you down to their level and give them narcissistic supply/attention. Always remember that attention– good or bad– is what the narcissist needs for survival.

To a narcissist, you are just a list of goods and services. No form of revenge is effective against a narcissist.

The below video was posted in February. It’s very similar to the one above, which was posted this week. Basically, Jess says that in order to hurt a narcissist, you have to just go on with your life. And even that isn’t going to hurt them much, because they can always find someone to replace whatever you brought to them. And she’s right about that… however, I don’t think that should mean not holding them accountable when they do things that are illegal or egregiously outside the boundaries of morality.

“You cannot win…”

I think there’s a big difference between holding someone accountable and exacting revenge. There’s a difference between aggressively fighting against someone or something, trying to “smear” them the way they smeared you, and being assertive and setting boundaries. We think it’s time Ex left Bill’s family alone. She has her own family, as well as her own in-laws. She should focus on them. And while Bill’s older daughter does have a legitimate claim to Bill’s family, she’s only a family member because of Bill.

Of course, just because we have these feelings, that doesn’t mean other people agree with us. And as they are supposedly competent adults, there’s nothing we can do to force Ex to leave them alone, or stop them from talking. The only thing we can control about this situation is how we react to it. So what do we do?

I’m not going to be specific about what our plans are, because I’m not stupid. I know Ex has stalked me online, and she probably still looks in. That’s kind of why I’m unabashedly writing about her now. I hope she reads this and gets super upset and …miserable. But we do have a plan, and what I’ll say about it is that the plan involves making Bill feel better about himself. He does have an action planned, but it’s not meant to hurt Ex or even protect anyone against Ex’s shenanigans. Ultimately, we accept that whatever happens will depend on what the other adults decide to do. We will simply do what we can to avoid the fallout and the guilt associated with her continual attacks.

Like I said… she’s like a bad case of herpes. Just like herpes, she pops up whenever she senses weakness in the immune system. In this case, it’s Bill’s dad’s death, the COVID nightmare, and perhaps feeling isolated and lonely for reasons other than the pandemic. Ex obviously smelled blood and came running.

Elton John has a really good song about this… Given Ex’s love of movies, I think the lyrics are especially appropriate.

“Keep your auditions for somebody who hasn’t got so much to lose…”

Lyrics

I can see by your eyes you must be lying
When you think I don’t have a clue
Baby, you’re crazy
If you think that you can fool me
Because I’ve seen that movie too

The one where the players are acting surprised
Saying love’s just a four letter word
Between forcing smiles, with the knives in their eyes
Well their actions become so absurd

So keep you auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
That I’ve seen that movie too

So keep you auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
That I’ve seen that movie too

It’s a habit I have, I don’t get pushed around
Stop twinkling your star like you do
I’m not the blueprint
For all of your B films
Because I’ve seen that movie too

The one where the players are acting surprised
Saying love’s just a four letter word
Between forcing smiles, with the knives in their eyes
Well their actions become so absurd

So keep you auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
That I’ve seen that movie too

So keep you auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
That I’ve seen that movie too

So keep you auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
That I’ve seen that movie too

So keep you auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting
That I’ve seen that movie too

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musings, racism

Repost: Is Liam Neeson guilty of a “hate crime”?

Here’s a repost of an article I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. It originally appeared February 6, 2019. I’m sharing it again, because last night, I watched Liam Neeson’s Taken series– three movies worth– because Bill had to work very late. As I watched Liam’s character, Bryan Mills, kicking the crap out of bad guys in a very satisfying way, I was reminded of this post I wrote just before I had to shut down access to my old blog. I think it’s worth another look.

I believe that old song in Avenue Q.  I think everyone’s a little bit racist, even though some people believe that you can only be racist if you’re a member of the “dominant” racial group.  Actor Liam Neeson is a White man who recently confessed that after a friend was violently raped by a Black man, he prowled the streets with a club, looking for a Black man to beat up.  He said he was actually “hoping” to be approached by someone giving him an excuse to beat the shit out of them with a “cosh” (British word for club).

Neeson’s violent revenge fantasy occurred about forty years ago.  He never did beat anyone up. He was simply very angry about the violent crime committed against his friend and he wanted to avenge her.  He says he’s ashamed of how he reacted to the rape and sorry for having those violent impulses to hurt other people.

Liam Neeson talks about that controversy from 40 years ago. I think he should be commended for his honesty and integrity.

Naturally, the papers have been having a field day with the story.  Lots of people seem to think Mr. Neeson needs a good public flogging for something that happened 40 years ago.  I don’t condone Neeson’s violent impulses to hurt just anyone who happened to be Black.  However, I do feel like he should be commended for his honesty.  It’s not an easy thing to do, admitting those feelings publicly, as hateful and hurtful as they are.  It’s awful to hear about them, but it does get people thinking and talking.  Is that a bad thing? By the way, I HIGHLY recommend listening to Neeson speak in the above video. He makes a lot of sense.

Neeson eventually came to the conclusion that violence begets violence.  He found more constructive ways to deal with his rage, to include power walking for two hours a day.  He spoke to his friends and a priest.  He also said that if the man had not been Black, he still would have had those same feelings of primal rage and wanting to get revenge. In this case, it was apparently a Black man who perpetrated the crime against his friend.  It could have been anyone, though.  Also, consider that this happened in Northern Ireland forty years ago, during “The Troubles”.  It was a pretty violent time all around, particularly between English people and Irish people.  I’m sure that contributed to Neeson’s state of mind.

In my opinion, Liam Neeson’s situation isn’t really the same as Governor Ralph Northam’s situation in Virginia.  He’s under fire for having been in a racist photo 35 years ago.  Governor Northam is in a leadership position, though, and is a physician.  The photo was taken when he was in medical school.  And it had nothing to do with being justifiably angry.  That photo was about simple mockery of people not like him.  To my knowledge, it wasn’t prefaced by violent crime or anything that would cause a person to feel “passionate”.  It was just plain stupidity.

I can understand being so angry that one becomes blinded by rage.  I don’t condone acting on that rage. It turns out, Neeson never did. He never hurt or killed anyone in reaction to his friend’s rape.  Soon afterward, he was ashamed of himself and took active steps to mend his ways. Forty years later, people want to cancel him for simply admitting that he had these dark thoughts after a dear friend was raped.

Is it awful that Neeson had those violent and racially biased fantasies?  Yes, I believe it is, although I think having them is pretty “human”.  Is it awful that he publicly admits to having those fantasies?  I don’t think so.  Why punish the man for simply being honest?  At least he’s worked on his issues.  At least he acknowledges them.  Apparently, that incident from Neeson’s past has also been used as a tool in his movies, like Taken and Ransom.  That just goes to show that even the worst impulses can be used for something positive if we’re careful.

Another perspective from the other side of the pond. Quite interesting and refreshing.

I do think people should be able to live down the things they did in the past, particularly if they acknowledge them and show that they’ve tried to make amends. We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done or said or thought… or, at least I believe we should be. I think Neeson has taken steps to make amends for having those violent, racist impulses over forty years ago.  Northam, to my admittedly limited knowledge, has also apparently tried to change his ways.  He supposedly has a good reputation as a physician and as a governor, aside from this unfortunate relic from his past. 

Of course, now there’s been talk of a sexual assault claim against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would be poised to take Northam’s place if he resigns.  Personally, I think the hullabaloo in Virginia is more about people upset about Northam’s comments on abortion and desperate folks wanting to get the Democrats out of office in Virginia.  The timing of this is just too funky.

As for Liam Neeson… I think people should stop and think before they pick up their torches and pitchforks.  Should we be more concerned about people who are honest about having racist feelings or those who hide them?  Truly, I think everyone has prejudices.  No one is immune to preconceived notions about other people.  I, for one, think Neeson was brave to share his story, knowing how public backlash can happen and what it can lead to.  It’s good to think and talk about these things.  But then, Liam Neeson is probably in a position where he can talk about these things and not fear losing everything.

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religion

Fat women don’t go to heaven?

Them’s fightin’ words in Brazil. A viral video recently surfaced showing a woman shoving a priest off a stage mid sermon because he’d allegedly said “fat women don’t go to heaven”. The incident took place in Sao Paolo before thousands of followers, who all shrieked as the priest went flying. He was reportedly unhurt and able to continue his sermon once he recovered.

The controversial statement cannot be heard in the video that was shared, but some followers have said the priest had made the comment before the heavyset woman suddenly sent him sprawling off his pedestal. Others have said the priest never made that comment and they don’t know what possessed the woman to run up on the stage and knock his block off. Friends of the woman have said she has “mental health issues”. Boy, I’ll say. Edited to add, Snopes has “weighed in” on this. Apparently, the man hadn’t said anything about fat women and Heaven. He didn’t press charges and is reportedly “okay”, aside from suffering a few aches and pains.

Dayum… she should play football! That was quite the sack!

To be honest, I found the clip hilarious on many levels. I had to watch it several times, because it was just so ridiculous and gave me a much needed laugh. I must confess, there are a few people I dream of doing this to myself. But, because I am a civilized person who isn’t typically violent, I would never actually consider doing this to anyone. I suppose this is what Germans would call Schadenfreude.

I’m pretty sure these folks are the ones we saw when we saw Avenue Q in England.
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