language, modern problems, psychology, rants

A profoundly unhelpful comment…

Last night, I happened to notice that Carole King (or someone on her social media team) posted a picture of herself donning a turquoise colored face mask. She had typed “Just wear the mask” “#MaskUp” on her post. Many people were praising her for encouraging people to wear masks. I decided to hide her post because I’m tired of the constant social media face mask reminders and nagging from people. I mostly stay at home, but I do cooperate with the mask rules when I’m around other people. I neither want nor need the reminder to “#MaskUp”. If I want to be nagged, I’ll call my mother (although my mom, as a general rule, isn’t the type to nag).

However, just because I can’t help myself, I decided to read a few comments before I hid the post.

As to be expected, some people were posting that they can’t or won’t wear masks. I noticed that lots of people were arguing with them. I’ve written before that I don’t think arguing with these people does a lot of good, even though I expect to see them do it. I suppose it’s human nature. But one guy took it a step further. For each person who was not championing the idea that face masks will save us from doom, he posted “RIP”. On a couple of people’s posts, he added something along the lines of “and we’ll dance on your grave when you’re dead!”

After reading that same hateful comment from the same guy several times, I finally left one of my own. I posted, “What a profoundly unhelpful comment.”

I think wishing sickness and destruction on people is childish, stupid, and short-sighted. You think someone deserves death for not wearing a mask? Well, I think you’re an asshole for spreading hate and wishing the virus on another person. The virus is spreading just fine without your help. You don’t need to wish for it to affect more people than it already does. Every person who gets infected can potentially infect many other people… people who are completely innocent. It’s not productive to hope that someone who doesn’t cooperate gets sick and dies. I think it’s much more productive to hope that we can come up with a treatment, cure, or protocol that makes the masks unnecessary.

I do not, for the life of me, understand people who try to get cooperation by wishing bad things on other people. How is it helpful to wish illness and death on someone just because they don’t want to wear a face mask? Even if someone doesn’t wear a mask simply because they’re a selfish jerk, I wouldn’t want to wish illness and death on them. Their illness and death would certainly affect blameless people. Everyone from the healthcare professionals who must take care of them, to the people to have to handle their remains, to their friends, loved ones, and co-workers would be affected, along with any other person who happens to be nearby when they are infected with the virus. Those people would all suffer, to some extent, because someone got the virus, got sick, and died. But people who wish death on the uncooperative never seem to think about that part of the equation.

I get that people are frustrated and angry, but why in the hell would you want the virus to spread? Even if it’s to someone you think “deserves it” for not doing as they’re told?

Of course, this example is specifically about the coronavirus, but it can be applied to most other situations, too. Being mean to people isn’t likely to make them want to cooperate with you. Wishing death on someone and being hateful to them is more likely to make them hate you right back, rather than inspire an attitude of solidarity. If your goal is to change someone’s behavior, you have to make changing the behavior appealing. Posting #RIP to them is just unkind, and it does nothing to make things better.

Someone I knew in high school posted a comment to my thoughts on this issue. This person is now a lawyer. I met her when we took speech (public speaking) class together. She always impressed me as a very bright, empathetic, and kind person. I remember my ex bestie didn’t like her, though, because she was only at our school for a year and yet was ranked third in our class. Ex bestie was ranked fourth, hence the burning resentment (and likely jealousy).

My high school acquaintance wrote that the “gotcha” attitude has gotten way out of hand and has affected freedom of thought and freedom of expression. I thought that was an interesting comment, especially since I know she’s a lawyer and she’s always been very intelligent. Even if you think someone is wrong, it’s probably worth hearing what they have to say. At the very least, you should hear the arguments against something, so you can come up with a rebuttal. But if you just dismiss someone and wish they’d drop dead, you haven’t really learned anything and it’s likely that you’ve strengthened their resolve. It’s just a really antisocial attitude to take. It doesn’t help anything. In fact, it makes things worse.

Recently, I was hanging out on RfM and encountered several regular posters who often behave like bullies. A couple of the posters are females. Both are clearly bright people, and one is supposedly a brilliant attorney, but they both have a habit of shouting down anyone who doesn’t agree with them. One of the posters actually seeks out certain people she doesn’t like and leaves hostile, bullying comments. Granted, sometimes the people she targets deserve some derision, but it’s almost like it’s a sport for her. She gets to the point at which she doesn’t consider anything the other person writes. It’s all negative all the time– and she insults, belittles, and bullies them. I’m not yet one of her targets, yet even I find her constant badgering tiresome and unproductive. I know she’s intelligent and she might even be a nice person, but she comes across as overbearing and obnoxious.

I don’t think that insulting people and wishing bad things for them is a very good strategy, especially if they’re perfect strangers. I’m not impressed with people who claim to be very smart, but don’t consider other perspectives. It seems to me that someone who argues for a living would want to hear what others have to say, consider their points, and then come up with a counter argument. Moreover, if you value freedom– especially of speech and expression– then you should value and respect it for everyone, even those with whom you disagree.

In any case, I strongly disagree with posting RIP to people who are against wearing face masks, although I guess the person has the “right” to post that. I don’t think it’s helpful to wish death on most people, although I will agree that some people might “need killing”. But I usually confine my feelings about people “needing killing” to those who have deliberately and maliciously done something horribly wrong. Refusing to wear a face mask has not been a dangerous thing for that long. It takes time for people to change their opinions and habits. Yes, it’s been five months already, but that’s not very long in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think the constant nagging and shaming helps, although I can understand why people feel compelled to do it.

Coronavirus is going to kill a lot more people. Most of them won’t “deserve” death. Death, unfortunately, is part of living. It’s something that happens to everyone. Hoping someone gets very sick and dies a horrible death just because they don’t want to wear a face mask is petty, cruel, and makes you no better than the most disrespectful and egregious face mask protester. It serves absolutely zero purpose and makes things worse than they need to be. Just my opinion.

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psychology, true crime

What makes someone an authority?

Yesterday’s debate about the legitimacy of Mary Kay Letourneau’s relationship with her ex husband and former student, Vili Fualaau, made me do some thinking. The two women on RfM who insisted that Letourneau was irredeemable and deserved no mercy were actively shutting down anyone else’s opinion, even going to the point of accusing commenters disagreeing with them of being “rape apologists”. After awhile, a man joined in the fray, also agreeing with the women. He left me a comment, even though I was “out” of the active discussion.

The man who left me a comment claims to be a victim of sexual abuse. In his comment to me, his very first question was “Were you a victim of sexual abuse?” He followed it with several statements about his experiences as a sexual abuse survivor, as if that made him some sort of expert on the subject.

I’m not sure what he was expecting my answer to be. My guess is that he assumed I have not been abused, and therefore could not relate to the experience. But, in fact, there is sexual abuse in my past. I have written about some of it in this blog. The rest, I prefer to keep private, because it’s really no one’s business. I also suspect that some of my memories of it may be repressed. I don’t remember anything truly awful happening to me on the level of rape, but for some reason, I’ve always had a very hard time trusting men. I’ll just leave it at that.

The other two commenters qualified themselves too, as they rabidly took anyone to task who didn’t cheer about Mary Kay Letourneau’s death from colon cancer. They seemed to be working as a tag team. Perhaps they know each other offline. One of them claimed the other has a law degree from a very prestigious university out west. Maybe she does, although one might wonder why she spends so much time on a message board for ex Mormons if she’s a brilliant lawyer.

On the other hand, I’m “overeducated” myself for my lot in life. Maybe people don’t believe that I did any time in graduate school. It’s not like I carry my diplomas in my purse. Either way, I only know about them what they post, just as most people only know about me what I post. There’s no proof of their claims about their credentials, although both women (I assume, based on their monikers?) are clearly very articulate and intelligent. Both are quick to argue with other posters with an air that they’re always right, regardless of the subject.

For whatever’s it’s worth, Rolling Stone magazine also agrees with them that Mary Kay Letourneau was a terrible person who was romanticized by the press. I can agree that the press did kind of make Mary Kay out to be more sympathetic than perhaps they should have, particularly back in the late 1990s, when this was hot news. There was even a made for TV movie done about her.

Penelope Ann Miller was a good casting choice. As to the movie itself, it’s been years since I saw it.

A couple of years ago, there was a documentary about Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau. I remember watching it and thinking Mary Kay came off as less of a predator and more as someone with serious organic mental illness. However, given what she did, there is no doubt that legally, she was guilty of child rape, which is definitely wrong in the eyes of the law. For whatever reason, her victim didn’t see what she did as wrong, even if almost everyone else does.

I don’t personally know anyone involved in this case. I have no idea what any of them are like, other than what I’ve read about them. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I try to be open-minded as much as possible about most things. I often try to give people the benefit of the doubt, too, although I’m not always able to do that.

I can’t picture myself speaking to Vili Fualaau, who is now a grown man in his late 30s, insisting that he has no right to be sad about Mary Kay Letourneau’s death. I can’t see myself grabbing him by the lapels and shaking him, demanding that he see her the way that many other uninvolved people see her– simply as a child rapist. He was the main victim in this case, although others have rightly noted that others were also victimized– her ex husband, her children, her colleagues, and her other students, as well as extended family members who have had to live with the shame and notoriety of her crime.

But many of those same people who knew Mary Kay Letourneau privately also didn’t know her as simply a child rapist. Those people have the right to their feelings, whatever they may be. Ultimately, that was what I was trying to get at when I initially fell down the rabbit hole on RfM. I was not one of Mary Kay Letourneau’s victims. I don’t approve of what she did. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how and why it happened. I don’t have all of the facts. But when it comes down to it, she was a human being who had loved ones, including the man she victimized when he was a child. What right do I have to judge him for the way he says he feels? And what right do other people have to judge me for how I feel? Feelings are just that.

I have written in this blog about one of the men who sexually abused me when I was growing up. When I think about it, there were a number of instances involving people besides him, although they varied in severity and regularity. The man I have written about is the one who stands out the most to me. What he did wasn’t on the same level of what Mary Kay Letourneau did, although it was clearly abuse. I didn’t see it as abuse at the time.

It wasn’t until I spoke to mental health professionals that I realized that what he did was sexual abuse. Some people might see that as a problem. No one wants to be an abuse victim. In some ways, making that realization made things somewhat worse for me. It became something I felt like I had to hide. I never told my parents the full extent of what happened. Even if I had done that, back when it was happening, I’m not sure they would have done anything. I suspect they might have even blamed me for it.

I don’t know what Vili Fualaau’s life is like. However, it doesn’t appear to me that his life was ruined. He has two daughters. He was married for about fourteen years, which is longer than some marriages last. From what I can tell, he hasn’t turned to a life of crime. He’s not, to my knowledge, a sex pest himself. In spite of being a victim of child rape, it looks like Vili is doing somewhat okay. But I really don’t know. I only know what’s he’s told everyone.

I remember watching Montel Williams back in the early 00s, when he had a talk show. One time, he did a show on child sexual abuse survivors. I remember he got very emotional and shouted something along the lines of, “These victims’ lives are RUINED!” It bothered me that he said that. It seemed like an awful lot of power to give to an abuser, as it also seemed to diminish the power of the abused. Who is he to say whose life is ruined? It’s not his experience. He’s not an authority on their lives!

My life hasn’t been ruined because of what I went through as a child. I don’t give my abuser that much power, or really, that much regard anymore. I don’t even hate him, even though according to the women on RfM, simply based on what he did, he was someone unworthy of any compassion or sympathy. What he did was wrong, but that didn’t make him a person without any value. He had some good qualities. One thing I remember about him was that he was an incredible gardener. Also, our dog, Rhonda, loved him and used to run to greet him when he’d come home from work every day.

So… I guess my point is, I’m not an authority on anyone’s experiences but my own. I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings. No one necessarily has the right to tell me that my opinions are *wrong*, because they’re just that– opinions– not facts. You may disagree or disapprove of my opinions, but I still have the right to them. Shouting me down, either literally or in written form, doesn’t make you “right”. It makes you an insufferable blowhard. My experiences as a sexual abuse survivor don’t make me an expert on sexual abuse as a whole. They only make me an expert on my own experiences. Likewise, I think Vili Fualaau is the best person to determine if his experiences with sexual abuse ruined his life. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like they have.

Sigh… I probably need to stop spending so much time on RfM, too.

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obits, true crime

RIP Mary Kay…

I woke up to the news that Mary Kay Letourneau passed away on July 6th. She’d been suffering from colon cancer and spent the last month in hospice care. Her ex husband, Vili Fualaau, was at her side taking care of her. This would not seem like such a strange thing, except that Mary Kay Letourneau did seven years in prison for raping Vili when he was almost 13 years old. She’d been his teacher in both the second and sixth grades. Although Mary Kay Letourneau was regarded as an excellent teacher who, to my knowledge, was not a habitual sexual abuser, for some reason she couldn’t resist Vili Fualaau. It cost her everything, including her freedom and access to her four children from her first marriage.

Mary Kay Letourneau also had two children with Vili. They were married in 2005 and split up in 2017, finally divorcing in 2019. I remember reading that the split was mostly because Vili wanted to start a marijuana farm and couldn’t do so legally as long as he was married to a felon. In spite of their divorce, he was with Mary Kay until the end, even though she was technically his rapist.

Mary Kay Letourneau’s story was certainly unusual. In the late 1990s, she was a fixture in the tabloids. Lots of people had, and still have, very strong opinions about her. Just this morning, there’s a thread on RfM about Mary Kay Letourneau’s passing. A couple of posters are steadfastly taking people to task for expressing sadness that Mary Kay died. I am one of those they’re judging. They claim I’m a “rape apologist” because I expressed condolences. Incidentally, I remember a few months ago, someone else on RfM implying that I’m a racist because I described the people who punctured our tire in France as “swarthy”.

The person who implied I’m a racist is also among those claiming that anyone who empathizes with Mary Kay Letourneau is a “rape apologist”. I guess this puts me right down there with Donald Trump. Actually, I think these folks, both of whom are very intelligent, but sometimes quite rigid and argumentative, are guilty of extreme black and white thinking. And they seem just fine with telling other people how and what they should think, too. I’ve learned that there’s no point in having discussions with people of that ilk because it goes nowhere. Their minds are made up, and they simply aren’t willing to consider other viewpoints.

I often get into trouble with people because, for the most part, I try not to engage in black and white thinking, even when it comes to what should be done with rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Perhaps it’s because of my social work training, although maybe if I had actually had to do a lot of work with victims, that “open-mindedness” might have gone out the window. I see most people as capable of being and doing good things, even if they’ve committed a heinous crime. I like to hope that most people are redeemable on some level, even if I know some of them aren’t.

Anyway, my thinking about this case is what it is. I don’t tend to think of most people as all good or all bad. For instance, I despise Bill’s ex wife, but even she has her redeeming qualities if I stop and think about it for a moment. She could have been much worse than she was, although she was certainly bad enough. She did some really terrible things to people– to include rape. But I can still think of worse people in the world. I also realize that whatever I think of her, she still has loved ones who wouldn’t want to see her dead. Or, I assume she does, anyway.

I had a social work professor who did a lot of work in prisons with domestic abusers and child molesters. While that work is certainly considered distasteful to a lot of people, it’s very necessary, just as defense attorneys are necessary to advocate for people who are accused of crimes. My professor explained what it was like to work with pedophiles and child molesters (there is a difference). I remember thinking how difficult it must have been for him to work with that population, but I later came to realize that working with them was a kindness. He provided a much needed service for the offenders, but also for anyone who has to deal with the offenders, including their families and other incarcerated people.

A person can be a pedophile, but not a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have molested children. It could be that they’re just attracted to them and have fantasies. A child molester molests children, but may or may not find them sexually attractive.

Many people think that someone who victimizes children should simply be executed. I can understand why people feel that way. Children are innocent and powerless, and they are never in a position of strength over adults who victimize them. I agree that people who harm children must be punished and prevented from harming other children. However, many people also have issues with the death penalty. Although I grew up being all for executing criminals, my mind changed as I came of age and saw the death penalty unfairly administered. I read horrifying accounts of innocent people being exonerated, sometimes after they had already been put to death. So now, I’m mostly against executing people, unless it’s a matter of public safety, there is absolutely no doubt of the person’s guilt, and there is certainty that given the opportunity, they would offend again. I think it’s something that should be done exceedingly rarely.

What should we do with someone who confesses to being a pedophile, but never actually harms a child? If someone dares to admit to those feelings, especially to someone with training in counseling, should we just round them up and shoot them? Or should we offer them some kind of help? Do pedophiles have any intrinsic worth as human beings, despite their attraction to children? Can they be salvaged? Do they deserve compassion and understanding? As my professor said, people who are attracted to children are dealing with a very powerful drive. If they are brave enough to seek help before they hurt anyone, and even after they’ve hurt someone, I think that should be encouraged.

I also don’t think that all sex offenders are created equally. What Mary Kay Letourneau did was certainly very wrong. She did rape a child. But she was not on the same level as someone like Warren Jeffs, who repeatedly victimized scores of women and children for many years.

From what I have read about the Letourneau case, the relationship Mary Kay had with Vili wasn’t violent. He could not legally consent to having sex with her when they first got together, because he was a child. She certainly abused her power by giving in to having sex with him when she was his teacher. But he was, apparently, her one and only victim, and for whatever reason, he later married her and willingly stayed with her for years.

Did Vili have the right to make the decision to marry his rapist as a consenting adult? Yes he did, even if I don’t agree with his decision. It would not have been right for the government to say that he couldn’t marry his abuser, even if most people think it’s icky and wrong. Americans value their freedoms, as we’ve especially seen during the coronavirus pandemic. And Vili, evidently, did not consider Mary Kay Letourneau abusive, even if the law says differently. Mary Kay was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which may have had some bearing on her behavior, too.

I don’t see Mary Kay Letourneau as a monster, even if I definitely don’t condone what she did. I think what matters most is what her victim thinks. Vili Fualaau was Mary Kay Letourneau’s victim, not me, and he hasn’t been a child in many years. Apparently, he loved her, despite what she did. Mary Kay Letourneau went to prison for her crimes against him. She did her time, and to my knowledge, did not reoffend. She can’t ever hurt anyone else because she’s now dead. Colon cancer is also not a very pleasant way to die.

I don’t understand Mary Kay’s and Vili’s relationship, but since Vili is an adult, I respect his choices, and yes, I am sorry for his loss. That does not make me a “rape apologist”. Aside from that, Mary Kay Letourneau was still the mother of six people. I don’t know what her children think of her, although I did read that she managed to “mend fences” with her eldest children. Her daughter, Mary Claire, was even the maid of honor at Mary Kay’s wedding to Vili. They’re probably sad that she died. Or maybe they aren’t sad. They’re entitled to whatever their feelings are. As a fellow human being, I have empathy for them. It’s not my place to demand that they hate her or be glad she’s dead. It’s not my place to demand that anyone thinks or feels the way I do. It doesn’t mean I admire Mary Kay Letourneau or think she was a paragon of virtue. It means I see her as a flawed human being who suffered and is deserving of basic compassion. There are people who loved her and will miss her, in spite of her shortcomings as a person. And I am sorry for their loss.

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condescending twatbags

Overbearing people are hard to bear…

Yesterday, I was on RfM and noticed that someone had bumped up an old post of mine from 2011. It was a rant I posted about “overly helpful” people. In those days, I had frequent dealings with a woman I only knew online who rubbed me the wrong way on a regular basis. I knew her from a message board that is now defunct, but the drama followed me to Facebook. Finally, in 2014, I blocked her. That decision wasn’t without drama, either. I remember when I finally made the decision to banish her from my online world, I said to Bill, “You just wait. Sometime today, I’ll get an email from her.”

Sure enough, later that day I did get an email demanding to know why I had blocked her. I don’t know about you, but to me, when someone uses the block button on Facebook, it means they don’t want to talk to you or hear from you. As I recall, I ignored her message. In earlier times, I had patiently responded to her, even though she bugged the shit out of me. I had finally had enough of her passive aggressive digs and obnoxiously overbearing comments, and realized that responding to her would only prolong the pain.

I was kind of amused to read that thread, especially since I remembered how I was feeling that day in 2011. She had pushed me to my wit’s end. At that time, the message board we were on was still active and I hadn’t wanted to abandon it, because I liked most of the women there. We were also both admins on the board, so we kind of had to “work” together. A few sympathetic people commented. I noticed that the person who bumped that thread to 2020 had similar issues as mine, which was why the thread was reactivated. These were the behaviors I had observed from her that were making me nuts:

* Chiming in with a “more informed” opinion whenever I’d try to express an opinion.

* Usually having some kind of unsolicited “helpful advice” or “fake concern” for me.

* Playing “devil’s advocate” or presenting a contrary opinion to any given subject I raise.

* Was rarely just supportive, but instead seemed to feel the need to “one up” everybody else and be the “voice of reason”.

* Doesn’t seem to understand or care how condescending and annoying she is to others.

In 2012, that message board where I had regular dealings with that overbearing woman mercifully went kerfluey, and most everyone moved to Facebook. It wasn’t long before I needed to unfriend the woman who had irritated me so much. I just couldn’t take her shit anymore, especially since I tried very hard not to engage her. Fortunately, that wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t seem to notice that I’d unfriended her, probably because we had so many mutual friends. She did her thing. I did mine. It wasn’t until November 2014, when she went too far with her disrespect that I finally pushed the block button. She’s been blocked ever since, and I don’t miss her at all.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about people like that woman. Overbearing people… especially overbearing women… really and consistently grind my gears. I’m not sure why I react to them the way I do. It could be because some of my family members are overbearing, domineering, and disrespectful to me and treat me like I’m stupid when I know I’m not. It’s gotten to the point at which I can barely stand to be around them. So now, when someone is like that to me, I tend to react negatively. If the behavior doesn’t change very quickly, the negative reaction turns into outright contempt. I may be obnoxious and opinionated, but I try not to dictate to people what they should or should not be doing in their own lives, especially when whatever they’re doing doesn’t affect me personally. I don’t like overbearing behavior in men, either, but they seem to annoy me somewhat less than women do. I find controlling women very offensive.

This morning I was thinking of all of the women who have been in significant conflict with me over my lifetime and I’ve noticed that the vast majority of them were very controlling and dictatorial, and quite a few employ manipulative, passive aggressive methods to get others to do their bidding. When those ploys don’t work, they become openly hostile, aggressive, and rude. And… I tend to respond in kind, because I resent being told what to do by people who aren’t necessarily any more qualified than I am in knowing what to do.

Maybe I’m just as bad as they are, though. It’s no secret that I’m loud and opinionated, and my father used to criticize me a lot for being “arrogant” and “bitchy”. Personally, I don’t think I was that arrogant as much as I was strong-willed and independent. My dad was a control freak, and he passed that trait on to a couple of my sisters. As a child, I put up with it because I had to in order to survive. As an adult, to some extent, I don’t really have to put up with it anymore. But I have found that I now have an unusual sensitivity to it… and if a woman is particularly bossy or intrusive to me, it’s a fair bet we’ll eventually have a conflict. Most of the time, it’s not worth trying to work things out with this type of person, because they think they’re right and refuse to compromise.

I remember back in 2011, when I was having regular dealings with the woman who had prompted that thread on RfM, she was pushing me close to the end of my patience. After she’d left me a shaming, demeaning comment on some topic we were discussing, I wrote something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, but whether or not you realize it, some of your responses to me are very offensive and condescending. It’s upsetting to me, and I feel like you’ve provoked me to respond in kind.”

The thing is, I had really thought about this response before I posted it. I tried hard to be assertive rather than aggressive. I wanted to enforce my boundaries without making things worse. I hoped she could see my side. But she was offended anyway, and didn’t see where she’d done anything wrong. Sure enough, I got a nasty private message in which she spat, “What was the point of apologizing if you were just going to insult me?!”

I remember taking a deep breath and trying, once again, to respond in a way that would not offend her, yet make her realize that I didn’t appreciate her condescending tone toward me. It didn’t work, and the bullshit continued apace for a few more years, with her continuing to feel free to send me private messages and unsolicited emails. The funny thing is, I don’t remember ever inviting her to correspond with me in such a way. She simply felt emboldened to do so.

Finally, about three years later, we reached the straw that broke the camel’s back. She’d left a nasty little passive aggressive dig in a Facebook comment to me. A mutual friend had posted about legalizing marijuana and asked her friends what we thought of it. The conversation was going well until I mentioned that Bill had lived with “pot head roommates” in college and hadn’t liked the way marijuana had affected them. He doesn’t like smoke, and as someone who works with the government, he’s not allowed to use recreational drugs, anyway.

So the passive aggressive bitch writes, “He’s never lived with alcoholics? 😉 😉 “

It’s possible that her comment was completely innocuous, but usually winking smilies imply a hidden meaning… and I had a feeling she was, once again, subtly insulting me, while trying to appear friendly and innocent. And truthfully, by that point, I had become very sensitive to her communications. Like… it was at the point that almost anything she posted irritated me, no matter how inconsequential. But I got the impression that my “frenemy” was trying to imply that Bill is currently married to an alcoholic, and that’s worse than dealing with potheads.

You see, it’s not a secret that I come from a long line of drunks. I drink, too. Maybe I’m even an alcoholic by some people’s standards. However, I have never met this woman in person and we have certainly never hung out over alcoholic drinks. Maybe my personality is because I drink. Maybe it’s simply the way I am. I don’t see how she’d know, since we never met offline. She seemed to be making an assumption or even a declaration that I have a drinking problem, even though we’ve not met and she’s not a mental health professional.

This wasn’t the first time she’d commented on my drinking habits– alcoholic or not. For some reason, she was unusually concerned about what I drink, even when the beverages weren’t boozy. This same woman often used to lecture me because I used to drink a lot of Diet Pepsi. She said that wasn’t healthy, and would frequently offer me an unsolicited laundry list of why it wasn’t something I should be doing. She’s right that diet sodas are bad for one’s health. I have since given up diet sodas, though not because of her “advice”… and I actually rarely drink non-diet sodas now. I mostly stick to bubbly water, if anyone’s curious. But yes, I do enjoy alcohol, and I admit it. Seems like that’s my business and Bill’s, unless I do something that affects other people negatively.

In any case, I’m certain that she knew her comment was shitty, demeaning, and insulting. It might have been one thing if we were friends and she was legitimately concerned. We weren’t really friends, and she was being rude, yet cowardly, as she was trying not to appear like she was insulting me. I didn’t appreciate it, and decided it was finally time for me to drop kick her off my social media once and for all. Even if she hadn’t meant it as a dig, that’s still the way it came across, and I was so tired of fielding those kinds of comments from her. And then predictably sending me an email demanding to know why I’d blocked her– as if that was some kind of serious affront because, according to her, she never does anything wrong— pretty much made me decide that we don’t need to speak again. I might have reacted differently if her approach had been more respectful, but demanding to know why she’s not allowed to harass me in my space is not cool. Taken alone, that comment was easy to ignore. Taken with all of her other little barbs and subtle insults over the years, it was just too much.

The funny thing is, that happened about five years ago, and I have found that I have even less patience and tolerance for overbearing women. I just feel like I don’t have to take orders from people to whom I am not somehow beholden. In other words, if you’re not paying me to work, someone I live with or love, or someone who has the power to arrest me or do something else life altering, I don’t have to do what you tell me to do. I don’t have to accept abusive criticism, insults, or covert hostility. And if you feel entitled enough to issue orders, act holier-than-thou, be hostile, or otherwise act like a passive aggressive creep, you can just fuck right off. Life is too short to deal with people who can’t be straightforward and civilized.

Anyway… I rarely think about her anymore, which is a good thing. I just thought it was funny that thread from 2011 was revived and so many people seemed to relate to it in 2020. I’m surprised it didn’t get more attention when it was a current concern. Clearly, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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divorce

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, part two…

I wrote a very long, convoluted post to the man who asked for help on RfM yesterday. It was basically a condensed version of the last twenty years I’ve spent with Bill regarding his situation with his ex wife and daughters. I had posted it describing it as a “hopeful” story… but having re-read it and gotten his response, I realize it doesn’t sound like a hopeful story to the average person. Let’s face it. My husband, who is normally a super responsible, kind, decent, hardworking man, allowed his ex wife to push him out of his children’s lives. Many people either assume he’s a total wimp or completely irresponsible and uncaring. Neither of these conclusions are true.

Bill makes his living in the business of war. He’s actually been to war. He’s definitely not a wimp, and he’s neither irresponsible nor uncaring. He works hard every day to support both of us, and when his children were growing up, he paid generous child support without fail for over eleven years. To pay child support, he had to go to work. He didn’t have the time for lengthy court battles in states far away from where we were living. Thanks to the financial havoc wreaked on him during his first marriage, there was no money for lawyers or court fees or the travel that would have been involved in fighting his ex wife in court, not to mention the time off of work all of that would have required. Abused women have a lot of resources available to them, but abused men don’t. They had even fewer resources in the 90s and 00s, when Bill’s children were coming of age. Besides, many people erroneously assume that men can’t be abused by women, which is a patently false notion.

Most people think they would fight tooth and nail to stay involved with their children, especially when they’re very young. The reality is that life happens, and situations intervene that can make the goal of staying totally involved much harder or even impossible for non custodial parents, especially when a highly controlling religion like Mormonism is in the picture. If you’re a financially strapped man in a job that requires as much as the Army does– with all the moves, job changes, and demands that come from deployments to war zones, it’s harder to fight crazy exes in court. The Army is Bill’s profession, even post retirement. He tried giving it up for a few years and wound up working for a pittance in factories. The Army provided him with a living that made it possible for him to support his family. Staying in was the responsible choice, even though he could have stayed a civilian. As a civilian, he either would not have been as successful, or it would have taken him too much time to become adequately successful and potentially would have driven him further into financial ruin.

I still think of our story as “hopeful” and “positive”, because for many years, I had assumed that Bill would never see or talk to his daughters again. They had seemed so brainwashed and alienated to me, and I saw absolutely no indication that they weren’t as crazy as their mother is. Believe me, I am delighted and relieved to know that my husband’s younger daughter hasn’t turned out like her mother. I don’t know about his older daughter, although according to younger daughter, she does have a clue that her mom is crazy. Hopefully, someday she’ll be able to get out of the situation she’s in and launch her own life. I think she’ll be much happier on her own. But ultimately, that’s a choice she has to make for herself.

The man I wrote to is obviously concerned about his ex wife’s decision to become LDS. He said outright that he’s afraid he’ll be ostracized because he’s not Mormon. The truth is, parental alienation happens all the time in all kinds of families. There is a special risk in the LDS church, though, because of the strong emphasis Mormons put on traditional families. His ex wife will not be treated as well as a divorced, single mom. She will be pressured to remarry and possibly have more children, and it’s likely that her pickings will be slim.

In Ex’s case, she found a non-Mormon man and convinced him to convert. This happened in the days before there was as much information about Mormonism on the Internet, not that her husband is necessarily a “reader”, per se. Aside from that, Ex has an overwhelming personality and can be very persuasive, particularly to the unaware. She’s the type of person who can talk people into things they would ordinarily never agree to, either by overwhelming them with her flattering bullshit or by flat out bullying them. I liken the experience of being with her like being in a can of soda that has been shaken violently and not given the chance to settle. Things are always on the brink of exploding. To be fair, I have never met Ex in person, but I have seen and heard enough about her from people who have spent a lot of time with her to understand what she’s like.

The guy I wrote to yesterday is not familiar with Mormonism. He writes that his ex is in her mid 30s and may be too old to consider having more children. But if she gets involved with another man and he’s LDS, they will be pressured to present as a “family unit”. Her potential husband will be pressured to be the head of the family and treat her children as if they were his, which could include pushing out their real father. And since real dad isn’t LDS, an LDS husband will likely want to be “sealed” to his ex wife, and there will be pressure to have the children “sealed” to him. What that would mean is that in the eyes of the LDS church, the children would belong to their stepfather in the afterlife. They will also be be pressured to have more children, since Mormons believe that there are “spirit babies” waiting to be given bodies on Earth.

Of course, sealings are pretty much bullshit. There’s no need to really get upset about what they’ll mean after everyone is dead, since they aren’t real. However, while everyone is still living, sealing can have a dire effect on the relationships between LDS children and their non-Mormon parents. Bill was sealed to his ex wife, their daughters, and Ex’s son from her first marriage. I’m not sure if she ever got sealed to her third husband, since the church usually lets the ex husband know when this happens, even if he’s resigned. Temple divorces/sealing cancellations aren’t easy to get, even when someone has resigned, since the person could come back to the church. But in the case of the guy posting on RfM, he’s not LDS at all and can’t be sealed to his ex. So if she remarries to a guy in the church, she could be sealed to him… and if he’s not very careful, the church could seal his kids to the new husband. It really means nothing in terms of the afterlife, but here on Earth, it can mean a big change in the attitudes between children raised as Mormons and their parents.

Sometimes there can be tragic consequences when LDS couples split and one quits the church. A few years, I posted the sad story of a Mormon woman who killed herself and her two young children. Her ex husband, who shared custody with her, had left the church and she was upset that he was leading them away from the Mormon religion. I posted that story in my old blog, and I will repost it on this one for the curious.

Obviously, the guy knows that he has a reason to be concerned about this situation. He wouldn’t have come on RfM if he didn’t realize that his ex is involved in a highly controlling religion that could damage his relationship with his children. His response to me seemed a little defensive and naive, but it was totally understandable. I was with Bill from the beginning of his journey after divorce. He used to say the same things to me that the guy on RfM said… there would be “hell to pay” if anyone ever came between him and his daughters… he would fight his ex wife for his daughters no matter what. I’m sure he believed it wholeheartedly at the time. But, as I pointed out earlier in this post, life happens. Things get complicated. Good intentions turn into the road to hell, or they end up being completely unfeasible.

Most of us would like to think that people are generally reasonable. When it comes to religion, particularly in culty religions like Mormonism, reason can sometimes go out the window. The guy on RfM has already fought his ex in court, which is a good thing. He has a lawyer and is obviously willing and able to assert his rights. He has enough money and time to go to court. Not everyone has that luxury. And even those who do go to court may find that it’s futile, because it’s very difficult to get people to comply with every legal stipulation when they live in a separate household and have equal access to the children.

It would have been much better for Bill’s children if he’d had joint or even sole custody of his children, but given his job, that would have been very difficult. Bill is the more stable parent by far, and if he had had custody of the children, they would have had an easier start into adulthood. I admire that two of Ex’s children were able to break free of their mother early. Bill’s older daughter is still at home with Ex, but she has a lot going for her. She has a college degree and is a talented artist, despite having learning disabilities and possibly autism. But if Bill’s daughters had grown up with him, they would have had very different lives, whether or not he had also married me.

The guy on RfM obviously isn’t military and hasn’t been financially destroyed. He’s obviously young, healthy, and determined. Hopefully his ex wife isn’t as crazy and cruel as Bill’s ex is. Hopefully she doesn’t have narcissistic personality disorder, as Bill’s ex probably does. Hopefully, she’s smart enough to see what she’s gotten herself into and removes herself before any lasting damage is done. Or maybe the guy can get sole custody of his daughters… although that seems unlikely. I truly wish him luck. He’s smart to find out about Mormonism. I hope he sticks around and learns more.

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