business, careers, law, LDS, YouTube

I discovered a fascinating new YouTube channel…

Based on the recent topics I’ve been covering on this blog, some people might come away with the idea that all I care about is abortion, Trump, and COVID-19. But, the truth is, I have a wide array of interests. I am really interested in cults, and before the mess of the pandemic and Trump’s disastrous presidency, I wrote a lot about toxic organizations.

Before I revised my commenting policy, I heard from someone who had read the story of how I almost got sucked into a multi-level marketing business. Well, actually, that’s probably overstating things. The truth is, there was never any real possibility that I would ever get involved with an MLM. I did, however, get roped into seeing a presentation by people involved with the now defunct group, Equinox. It was a bizarre experience that was also surprisingly educational. I’m glad I went, although I am even more glad that I didn’t get sucked into the business.

As I discovered yesterday, when I found NOT THE GOOD GIRL’s YouTube channel, some people are not so fortunate. I found her channel yesterday, when YouTube suggested a video she made, interviewing a former Mary Kay director. It was late afternoon and I had time to kill, so I watched the whole thing, which ran for over two hours. I have to give her props. I very rarely have the patience to sit through a two hour video that wasn’t made by TV producers or movie makers. But I did watch the whole thing… and I found it thought provoking on many levels.

I watched this entire video… Elle could have been me, although she’s a lot bubblier than I am.

What I really thought was interesting about this video is how the two women talk about the culty tactics used to keep people in the business. At one point, they both mention that they used to be religious. Elle says she went to a Bible college. And Josie, the woman making these videos, also mentions that the tactics reminded her of being in church. I don’t know which religious bent either of these ladies followed, but I definitely could see the parallels.

I was raised mainstream Presbyterian, which was pretty benign. But Bill was involved in the LDS church, thanks to his ex wife. I have been studying Mormonism for years, and I recognized a lot of the signs and symptoms of “cult abuse” in this video that I’ve also seen in Mormonism. In fairness, those same signs and symptoms exist in other religious organizations. Mormonism is just the organization that directly affected me. They aren’t the only ones, nor are they necessarily the worst offenders. Actually, Elle mentions that being in Mary Kay reminded her of Scientology. I could definitely see that, having seen some of the videos showing members rallying, with Tom Cruise and his ilk at the helm.

Reminds me of some of the video footage of MLM rallies I’ve seen.

In the below video, Josie talks about her own experiences with MLMs, and how she got indoctrinated by multi-level marking companies. So many of the techniques used by culty religions and abusive people are used by MLMs. Josie talks about being “lovebombed” and groomed, sucked into the business model that so often preys on people’s hopes and dreams of prosperity and being their own bosses.

Josie explains how she got hooked by MLMs…

I noticed in both Josie’s and Elle’s stories, both women joined the MLMs when they were feeling desperate and/or trying to escape a bad situation. In Elle’s case, she was a new college graduate who had a degree in English. She was look for a “real job” and was not having much success. Mary Kay made it seem like she could be a legitimate business owner and build “experience” that might make her attractive to employers. She didn’t realize that a lot of people don’t like people who are involved in MLMs, because they are always looking for sales leads– either people to buy their products, or people they can recruit. Because recruiting new distributors is how people in MLMs make money, and most people are not successful.

In Josie’s case, the decision to be involved in MLMs followed a divorce when she was in her early 20s. She thought the MLM would help her change her life. But what it really led to was the loss of friendships and the loss of herself. She and Elle both describe incredible toxicity that occurs within these types of organizations. I can’t help but notice that a lot of people who join demanding religions also tend to lose friends and family members as they get more indoctrinated within the group. Maybe that’s less true with a religion like the LDS church, as many people identify as “cultural Mormons” and associate with non-LDS people. However, people who initially join and radically change their lifestyles often do lose contact with people who don’t want to join the religion.

Now, I know that some people join MLMs, not because they want to make money, but because they like the products and want discounts. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. What Josie and Elle are talking about are people who think they’re going to make a lot of money in MLMs. Some people do make money, but the vast majority of people never make so much as minimum wage. And they often end up exploiting people in the process of trying to succeed.

Josie also points out that some MLMs do offer good products. I remember that even Equinox had some good products that people wanted to buy, even after the company fell apart. I know a lot of people swear by Avon and Mary Kay. The issue isn’t necessarily the quality of the products. It’s the fact that the products aren’t where the money comes from. The money comes from getting people to basically join a cult, where toxic measures are used to keep people slaving away. The toxicity includes being told you’re not good enough; you don’t work hard enough; you aren’t positive enough, or sharing the company’s image in the best light.

I have visited this topic before. In my original incarnation of The Overeducated Housewife, I wrote several posts about LuLaRoe. I know a few people who were involved in that company, and some swore by how comfortable their leggings are. Deanne Brady Stidham and Mark Stidham are the founders of LuLaRoe, and they are LDS. People in the business referred to Brady as “Aunt Deanne”. I’m sure that was by design, as I pointed out in one of my posts that on the surface, it sounds good to be calling her “aunt”.

If you’re family, you’re supposed to be “loved” and cared for, in a sense.  Family members are supposed to have your back.  We love our family members and don’t want to disappoint them.  That’s what makes it easier to trust family members, and more devastating when family screws you over.  Lots of people think of a business that treats people like “family” as a good thing.  But there is a downside to being a figurative “brother”, “sister”, “aunt” or “cousin”.  Sometimes when you think of someone as “family”, you let your guard down when you really shouldn’t. And, in fact, some of the worst abuse and most toxic relationships happen at the hands of “family” members.

Family members have that advantage of being in the group… they have access to you that other people generally don’t.  They know you better than most people do.  And when something unpleasant needs to be done, family members feel okay about asking other family members for help.  If you go against the grain, you run the risk of being cast out… lovingly, of course, because you need to see the error of your ways.  While I don’t know for sure, I get the sense that LuLaRoe and some other multi-level marketing businesses are kind of culty like that.  You toe the line so you won’t be towed outside of the group. 

If you watch the video with Elle, the Mary Kay director, you’ll hear her talk about the $400 suits she felt compelled to buy for the sake of her business. She talks about how, as a Mary Kay consultant, she was expected to wear panty hose, even when she was on a plane going to a convention. She talks about all of the gear and merchandise she was pressured to buy, all in the name of promoting the business. Below is a screenshot I took of a now defunct blog post about a woman who got burned by LuLaRoe. You can see how appearance and dressing for success is very heavily promoted. But it also has the effect of creating a “uniform”, which psychologically gets people to think they’re part of a larger, more powerful group. While there may not be anything wrong with being in a group, I do think it’s important to understand how being conditioned to look, think, and dress a certain way is a conduit toward being a part of a cult.

LuLaRoe dress rules.

I loved this lady’s hilarious anti-LuLaRoe video. It bears another share!

She gets it… and is spilling the truth.

I’ll probably spend some more time watching Josie’s videos today… or maybe even a few by other people who have learned the truth about being involved with MLMs. I know some people think MLMs are great. In fact, I remember one acquaintance got very defensive when I shared a negative news article about LuLaRoe. However, I could not help but notice that less than a year later, she was trying to unload her entire inventory after LuLaRoe got very publicly sued. Amazon even has a new docuseries going on about LuLaRoe.

I don’t like MLMs, and it’s sad to hear and read stories of people who get caught up in them. On the other hand, I find that topic less depressing than COVID-19, Trump worship, and abortion… So, since it’s Friday, I’ll probably explore some more. Josie’s channel on its own has hours of content! I could totally fall down a rabbit hole. I’m watching the below video now.

High drama!

I notice that Josie’s early videos get very few views. But now that she’s exposing MLMs, she’s probably making some legitimate bank on YouTube!

Standard
bad TV, Duggars, videos, YouTube

It’s Josh Duggar, not Josh DOO-gar…

Okay… since Bill is gone again, I’ve been filling my hours by watching lots of YouTube. As I’ve been watching, I’ve been shocked by how many people have been turning a buck by making live stream videos and shit. They clearly monetize their efforts, and judging by the sheer numbers of videos done about Josh Duggar, they must be making some bank. Which brings me to the title of today’s post…

I ran into this guy’s video this morning. I don’t know a thing about him, but I had to stop watching after hearing him mispronounce Josh’s last name three or four times within just a minute or two. At this point, I don’t know if Scott Reisch means to be taken seriously, or this is just a joke.

This guy, Scott Reisch, made this video called “Crime Talk Busy Docket Friday: How Much Trouble is Josh Duggar Really In?” to talk about Josh Duggar. But you can see Josh’s name is misspelled on the thumbnail above, and within just a few minutes of talking, Reisch keeps mispronouncing the Duggar name, saying “Doo-gar”, accent on the first syllable. I can see in the comments that some people find this mispronunciation funny. Personally, it makes me think Reisch is unprofessional and probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If he were a real journalist, he’d get the name right. If he were an expert in crime talk, he’d also get the name right… and well, it just grates to hear him fuck up a name that has been all over the news for over a week now, not to mention all over reality TV for years.

On the other hand, I’m glad to know there’s at least one person who doesn’t know the Duggars. Maybe there’s hope that Josh will get a fair trial, if it comes down to that (and it probably will). But if Scott Reisch doesn’t know Josh’s name, how can I expect he knows anything about the case or take him seriously? And why would I want to spend my time generating ad revenue listening to that, especially when hearing the mispronunciation is so annoying to a stickler like me?

I also discovered Emily D. Baker’s channel. Emily D. Baker, as you might know, does the Lawyer Reacts channel on YouTube, and she covers legal issues of all kinds. I kept seeing her videos suggested and, last night, finally decided to actually view one to hear what she had to say about Josh. I kind of liked Emily’s video, although it ran for over two hours. She was a prosecutor for some time and is still now a licensed attorney, although I get the sense that she isn’t practicing law right now. In any case, I found her a lot more professional than Scott Reisch, despite her liberal and unapologetic use of profanity. Actually, I kind of enjoy her use of profanity. She’s a woman after my own heart.

Emily D. Baker was present on the Zoom call and heard all of the gritty details of what kind of bad stuff was found on Josh’s computers.

Emily D. Baker was present on the Zoom call that served for Josh’s bail bonds hearing. She said it was a very lengthy session. I liked that Emily took the time to explain, rather emphatically, that even if we all hate what Josh Duggar has allegedly done and are sick of his smug, smarmy face, he does have Constitutional rights that must be protected. And so, although the requirements surrounding his release and continued time out of custody are very onerous, so far he has managed to arrange a situation that satisfies the court’s conditions. Because he’s been able to do that, he’s entitled to be out of jail for now, even though the prosecution is against it. We may not like it, and he may end up failing spectacularly, but his rights were preserved. That’s a good thing, since I’m sure Boob will do all he can to minimize Josh’s accountability in this matter. For some reason, he seems to think of Josh as “golden”.

I don’t know if I’ll keep watching Emily’s channel, although she does say it’s for “legal nerds”. I don’t know if I’d call myself a “legal nerd” per se, but I do find the law interesting. I wonder sometimes if I should have gone to law school… but then, if I had married Bill, I might still be in the situation I ultimately landed in, only with a lot more student loan debt. 😉 Frankly, at this point, I wish I’d just studied music. At least I really enjoy music, and I’m naturally good at it. If I was destined to be Bill’s wife, it would have landed me in the same place, and maybe I could have used those skills the way my mom used her organ playing skills for so many years.

And finally, I’ve gotten re-hooked on Without a Crystal Ball, which is “Katie Joy’s” Duggar focused channel. Katie Joy seems to be a rival of Pickles– of the Duggar Family News Facebook group and page. I’ve noticed some in Pickles’ group don’t seem to like Katie Joy, and Katie Joy herself has said on her channel that she knows Pickles doesn’t like her. I’m not sure why that is. It could be because they’re rivals. Maybe one or the other thinks she knows more about the true Duggar scoop and resents having competition. Personally, I think both enterprises have some value.

Katie Joy is good on camera. She almost always has pretty eye makeup and a good presence. I admire her for being good on video. I don’t like being on video myself, which is one reason why The Overeducated Housewife is a blog instead of a vlog. I get super self-conscious about my appearance, plus I hate putting on makeup unless I’m going somewhere. However, I do have a pretty good speaking voice… maybe someday I’ll try doing a podcast. Katie Joy does have a pronounced Midwestern accent. I heard her say that she lives in Minnesota, which is probably why she has such an accent. It cracks me up.

Katie Joy’s videos are pretty professional, a lot of the time. When she does live streams, sometimes, there’s a bit of dead air. But I am impressed by how together she is on camera, and her ability to do her eye makeup. She seems to have real sources, too.

I found Katie Joy some months ago, watched a few of her videos, but then moved on. Now that I’m stuck here alone for the next two weeks, I’ve fallen back down the rabbit hole. I don’t know why I’m so interested in the Duggars. I don’t watch their show anymore and haven’t in years… I guess it’s the whole fundie Christian narcissism bent that has me interested. Jim Bob Duggar is a MASSIVE control freak who has been selling the public on his brand of sick theocracy for years now. I’m sure he and his ilk would love to see the entire country living the way he does… with lots of guns, religion, and oppression of women. I probably should be disgusted enough by him not to pay him any mind, but I can’t help finding him fascinating… kind of in the same way I’ve found Ex fascinating for so long.

On another note, I’ve noticed a WHOLE LOT of people writing about the Duggars lately. I know they’re topical right now, but some of the stuff that’s being put out there is pure crap. Someone shared an article in the Duggar Family News group the other day. I had to quit reading it, though, because the reporter didn’t know the difference between “flouting” and “flaunting”. And y’all know that’s one of my *many* pet peeves. I guess the Duggars are bankable, though, if only through clicks and ad revenue. I personally don’t care if anyone reads the crap I post. This blog isn’t monetized.

What else have I been watching besides the “Doo-gars”? Well, I found a very interesting and entertaining channel called History Scope. The guy who makes these animated videos about world history is often funny and educational, and he picks topics that I am curious about. So I have watched a few of his videos and subscribed to his channel. So far, in the past week, I’ve learned more about the breakup of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, the breakup of Yugoslavia, how alcohol was discovered, and why North and South Korea were divided into separate countries.

This was a particularly good video. I really enjoyed it.
This one is good, too.

I think I especially enjoyed the above two History Scope videos because I remember when both of these major historical events happened. I was still a teenager, and had been raised during the Cold War. Later, I lived in what was once part of the Soviet Union and is now the Republic of Armenia. And now, I live in reunified Germany and have actually visited what was once East Germany more than a couple of times. Bill even used to guard the border of what was once West Germany and Czechoslovakia, back in the beginning of his Army career in the late 80s. He was living in Bavaria when the wall came down. So yes, the German Reunification video is a winner for me. I’d love to know where the guy who makes these videos is from. He sounds like he might be from Eastern Europe, but I also see he’s done a bunch of videos about the Dutch. In any case, his accent charms me.

In other news… I undercooked a chicken yesterday. I was disappointed about that, since I used to be a really good cook. I also found myself watching Drink TV, which is a service I subscribed two a couple of years ago, but never used because we had an old Apple TV in our bedroom and couldn’t add apps to it. I have a newer Apple TV in our entertainment room, but that room lacks proper seating. So I ordered a new Apple TV and it got to us recently… and now, as you can see, I’m getting my money’s worth, watching videos. I probably should be power walking, trying to lose my beer gut and loosen up my sore, chronically stiff back.

Seriously… I am so fucking tired of these ridiculously long TDYs Bill keeps doing. I probably wouldn’t be so pissed about them if we had a chance to travel and he wasn’t working his ass off, but we’ve been locked down for six fucking months. I’m fucking over it. But in saying that, I know I have it a lot easier than others do… so there’s no need for anyone to send any toxic positivity my way. I can do that by myself.

I know I shouldn’t care about Josh Doo-gar or Josh Duggar… I know caring about them only adds to their “importance” in American pop culture. But I’m bored and, if I’m honest, a bit depressed. I figure watching videos about fundies is better than getting loaded or mingling with people who might pass along COVID-19 germs. In another month, I’ll get my second shot and maybe… just maybe… we can do something fun and/or interesting before I do something drastic. Right now, the high point of my day will probably be getting the new power supply for our lawnmower. Tragic.

Edited to add: New parts arrived and I switched them out with the old ones. I’m still getting the dreaded flashing blue light, which means there’s a fault loop signal issue on the robot mower. But I am not getting a message that there’s an issue on the display, and I notice the mower is now charging. Since it’s been plugged in for two weeks now, I would have expected there to be no need for charging, if the power supply wasn’t the issue. So I’ll let it charge for awhile and try again. Hopefully, that will do the trick and Bill won’t have to re-lay the boundary wire again in two fucking weeks when he’s home.

Standard
condescending twatbags, mental health, overly helpful people, poor judgment

You just used that word… and I don’t think you know what it means.

A couple of days ago, I was feeling a bit angry and depressed. I was sitting here alone, reading the local news, and there was an item about Angela Merkel’s latest desires. Mrs. Merkel wants to allow the federal government in Germany to employ an “emergency brake” lockdown for all of Germany. Normally, each individual state’s leaders make decisions for how things run. But because vaccination rollout has been excruciatingly slow here, and people are continuing to get COVID-19 and overrunning the hospitals, Mrs. Merkel and some of the public health leaders in Germany feel that this is a necessary move.

Germany has been in some form of “lockdown” since early November 2020. Apparently, closing everything and trying to restrict people from being in contact with each other has not been effective in slowing down the latest COVID-19 variants. Neither has forcing everyone to wear medical grade face masks. So, as each month passes, the end of the lockdown keeps getting extended. At this point, the estimate is mid June when we can have some semblance of normalcy.

Meanwhile, I watch as my friends back home are getting vaccinated and enjoying a more “normal” life. Actually, I think things have been relatively normal in the United States since the beginning. It’s just that Americans aren’t being allowed to come to Europe willy nilly, and vice versa. I still think Germany has handled the virus a lot better than the USA has… but the incredibly slow vaccine rollout is quite disastrous. Making matters worse is the fact that Bill and I were supposed to be getting our shots by the end of May. A large shipment was sent to German military installations for that purpose. But apparently, they’re Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and the CDC has just recommended holding off on using them until they can be investigated, since several women developed rare clotting disorders after being given the shot.

I was already in a crappy mood for a lot of reasons. The main one is that Bill is gone this week and will be gone for more than half of May on business. He hasn’t been vaccinated, yet he’s allowed to travel for work purposes while I sit here alone with my thumb up my butt– not literally, you understand. And I’m also pissed off because of some recent upsetting news we got regarding a close family member. Bill and I had a private chat about those matters. I finally had to ring off, because I was tired and in a really foul mood, and I didn’t want to talk anymore.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, I got a private message from another family member. This family member is a bit older than I am, and never seems to want to let me forget it. She also seems to assume being older means always being wiser. In her case, I don’t think it does.

Private messages are annoying under most circumstances, but since it was family, I indulged my relative. I was pretty upset after having read the news about the longer lockdown, Bill’s work schedule, and the news about our family member. She wanted to know why I was so irritated, so I explained. As usual, this particular family member starting giving me unsolicited advice, forgetting a number of things… like the fact that before too much longer, I’ll be pushing 50, and I’ve actually had some training in counseling and related subjects.

She immediately started telling me what she thinks I should be doing, even though I never asked for her opinion and was really more wanting to vent than seek advice. I really would like to have someone to talk to… someone who sees me as an equal and is willing to listen, rather than just offer unsolicited suggestions. She doesn’t seem to realize that most competent people don’t want advice or suggestions; they want insight and support.

On that night, I needed a friend, not a pseudo-therapist… especially not one who seems to think I’m naive and incompetent. I know I’ll always be a “squirt” to her, but I really am a grown adult, and I eventually assured her that I AM pretty competent in most things. I’m just fed up, most of all with this fucking COVID-19 lifestyle and Bill’s constant work schedule, as well as the fact that HE can travel for marathon work trips, but we can’t have any fun. It’s making life a colossal bore, and a drag, and I’m starting to hate being here… and my life in general.

Yeah, I know that sounds a lot like pathetic whining. Maybe, to some people, that’s what it is… After all, the bills are paid; we live in a comfortable house; and for now, we have our health. But being locked down, thousands of miles from home, sucks. Telling someone who is feeling upset to “buck up” or “calm down” is not really the best solution.

My situation doesn’t call for “toxic positivity” or invalidation, nor do I need an overly helpful person to suggest that I do things I’m already doing… like creative pursuits. My relative told me to take an online guitar course. Does she honestly think I’d be dumb enough to buy a guitar and not learn how to play it somehow? It’s like the morons who tell an infertile couple to consider adoption… as if that idea had never crossed their minds! And does she really think, as someone with advanced degrees in social work and public health, I need someone to tell me about narcissists and empaths? That would be like me telling her about her chosen field… which I will admit I know nothing about.

So anyway, all of this was the usual par for the course bullshit, when my relative dropped a bombshell. She’s been reading up on narcissists and narcissism, apparently not understanding that she’s a touch on the narcissistic side herself. She was telling me the usual spiel about narcissists, as if I had never read a single book or watched a single video about narcissism, let alone had many personal dealings with them. And then she said, “I really think you and I are empaths.

Well… I had to stifle a giggle at that. I wanted to respond truthfully, by saying “You just used that word… and I don’t think you know what it means.” Seriously. I love this relative very much… but I don’t think she has much insight into what an empath is. I also don’t think she has much personal insight as to what kind of person she is.

I think I am capable of empathy. I can definitely try to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I try very hard to see all sides of a situation. But I am definitely NOT an empath… and she is even less empathic than I am. How do I know this? Because I have been on the receiving end of MANY tirades from this particular relative. I’ve known her my whole life, and I’ve seen her lose her shit many times. One time, we were in a city park in Madrid and she got very angry with me for taking too long to find a newspaper. She’d had to pee, and didn’t speak Spanish. Silly me… I though at her age and with her world experience, she would be able to handle going to the potty by herself. But no… and she totally went off on me and called me a “motherfucker”. That is NOT the behavior of an empath.

This relative also has a habit of “glomming on” without much situational awareness… and will ask favors, yet show very little consideration. Like, for instance, the time Bill and I had dinner reservations for my birthday, and she asked me to drive her to a doctor’s appointment because she was going to be on Valium. I told her about the dinner reservations, but she assured me she’d be done in time. On the way home, she wanted to stop at a restaurant for dessert. I was worried about the time, but she promised she’d get the dessert to go. Next thing I knew, we were sitting in a booth. That is NOT the behavior of an empath.

She can be very manipulative and will throw epic temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. I’ve witnessed her being rude to wait staff and store clerks, as well as men who try to be overly friendly to her in bars. And she’s also been rude to me on many occasions. When we were a lot younger, she was occasionally legitimately abusive to me. I remember being verbally and physically abused by her, before I got big enough to fight back. She is capable of being an extreme bitch when the situation calls for it. There have been times when I’ve marveled at her ability to be a bitch… and, I must admit, even admired it. She’s not one to be fucked with by anyone.

On the other hand, she’s a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor. She’s also very smart and talented. She can be contrite and sympathetic, when the mood suits. When she’s in a good mood, she’s a delight and HILARIOUS. I do love her. But an empath, she is most definitely NOT.

However, in fairness, like I said, I’m not an empath, either. And that is not a bad thing. Empaths can often end up being taken advantage of by self-centered types. I do have a big heart and am fully capable of being empathetic to people. But that does not make me an empath. That’s a good thing, though, because Bill IS an empath. I think it would be disastrous if both of us were empaths. My being less empathic is good, because it balances out his tendency to be overly forgiving and kind.

I wanted to correct my relative’s thinking, but realized that if I did, it would probably lead to an argument. She thinks she’s an empath, though, and she’s wrong. And if she really thinks she’s the type of person who is constantly thinking of others and putting their welfare before her own, she’s also a bit delusional. She is definitely not one to take on other people’s problems. I have never seen her cry over someone else’s misfortunes. If anything, I think she’s on the other side of the narcissism spectrum. One time, I described a traumatic incident she and I had to my former therapist. He actually used the term “narcissistic” to define the behavior she had displayed to me.

Truly empathic people are unique and somewhat rare. My husband is an empath, and he attracts narcissistic assholes like his ex wife and his war time boss like flies on shit. These folks can smell it on people– those who will put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. Bill will bend over backwards for almost anyone, is very slow to anger, quick to forgive, and has a “red line” that is way further down the line than mine is. He is genuinely a kind and compassionate person who almost never raises his voice and feels extreme remorse whenever he hurts anyone, even if just by accident.

Neither my relative, nor I, are like that. I will fully admit that I don’t have much regard for people who are disrespectful to me. I don’t go out of my way to be nasty, but I don’t have tons of sympathy.

I think Bill comes by empathy naturally. Both of his parents and, I suspect, his daughters are also very empathic people. They want to please others and they have overdeveloped superegos and guilt complexes. That’s why Ex runs roughshod over them so easily. Bill fully admits to this, too. It’s not that he’s spineless. It’s just that he hates to disappoint people, wants to make them happy, and genuinely feels for people. But he’s come a long way in his people pleasing ways and has become more assertive, which is something empaths must learn to do or be sucked dry.

My relative has no problem telling people off, taking legal action, or making people feel shitty. I know this, because she’s done a lot of those things to me. I haven’t been sued by her– at least not at this point– but I wouldn’t put it past her if she felt it was necessary. That is not the action of an empath!

I do think I am more empathic than she is, though… and although I could have told her to STFU the other night, I indulged her need to advise me on what she thinks I need to do. And last night, when Bill messaged me, I told him about it and we had a good laugh. Because he also knows that she’s not an empath. And he has frequently told me that he’s glad he married me instead of her… although I think it would have been funny to see how this relative would deal with his Ex, former tenant, or the land bitch from Hell. 😀 My guess is that she would not have handled any of them with much empathy.

Anyway… I wish she’d have a little more empathy for me and stop trying to give me unwanted advice. I’m not 12 anymore. And I wish Mrs. Merkel and her minions would get their acts together so we can all have our lives back.

Standard
Ex, narcissists, psychology

Sometimes you simply have to call bullshit…

This morning, I read an article about Olympic swimmer, 36 year old Ryan Lochte. He’s currently estranged from his mother Ileana Lochte. In an interview with Graham Bensinger, Lochte explained that in 2011, when his mother had divorced his father, Steven Lochte, everyone had been on her side. But then when Ryan told his mother she was going to be a grandmother, she apparently said some very hurtful things and refused to apologize for them. And now, Ryan and his mother have been estranged for a few years. He hasn’t spoken to her. By contrast, he and his father and stepmother are now on very good terms.

I’ve often reflected on how perspectives change as we grow older. When I was a child, things were a lot simpler. Or, at least they seemed that way. I saw things in more black and white terms. All of my friends and relatives were “good”. All of the kids in school who bullied me were “bad”. But then, as I got older, I started to see everyone in a different light. At some point, people I thought were all good developed some very noticeable character defects. Or really, I just noticed them for the first time. By contrast, people I had thought were all bad all of a sudden seemed more human and decent to me. This expanded vision is ultimately a good and necessary thing, but it’s also kind of heartbreaking. Especially when I have good memories of some of these folks, but I know that we’ll probably never speak again.

I think this phenomenon happens to most people who are at least somewhat psychologically healthy. But it’s disconcerting and sometimes very sad when the whole truth comes out about someone we love, or even just like. I think that’s what might be happening with my husband’s children right now.

Last night, Bill talked with his younger daughter, who is struggling with some stuff. She and her husband are in their mid 20s, trying to survive in this pandemic craziness and pay their bills. They have two small children, and as Mormons, are very much involved with their family. Fortunately, younger daughter inherited a lot of Bill’s character and she’s committed to being a good mom.

All of the years, when younger daughter was growing up, Ex’s story was that she was all about taking care of her family. In fact, some years ago, I remember reading a bullshit news story about Ex that appeared in a local newspaper. She claimed that she’d arrived in Arizona in a used van with just $3000 and a dream. She didn’t mention that she was getting child support faithfully every month and that my husband could see to it that the children had medical care. Nope– her narrative was that she was a supermom, doing it ALL alone and handling everything brilliantly. It was such a load of shit!

Bill was faithfully paying her $2550 a month in child support, more than what a general officer would have paid for three children at that time. One of the children he was supporting wasn’t even legally his child. Because Bill was in the military, his children were entitled to military ID cards. They also had access to full medical benefits and free care at military treatment facilities. And yet, Ex chose not to avail herself of these valuable benefits for her children. In fact, she evidently acted as if she didn’t care when younger daughter needed medical attention.

Younger daughter had some physical problems that needed care. Her mother made a huge deal out of the inconvenience and expense of seeking care and implied that she couldn’t afford it. Consequently, those issues went neglected, and now younger daughter is paying a price that may cost her for the rest of her life.

Some people might read this and wonder where Bill was. Well… he tried to stay in touch with Ex and asked her repeatedly about the children. Once she realized that he was going to persist in being involved with the children, she went on a very effective alienation campaign. He really tried to be a good father as best as he was able. But Ex had so effectively alienated Bill’s daughters and ex stepson that no one would speak to him. She moved them to a different state and neglected to inform Bill. We found out about the move through Internet sleuthing. In any case, when these issues were occurring, younger daughter was almost an adult anyway, and wouldn’t speak to Bill. But her mother was freaking out over having to pay several hundred dollars for special equipment that would have helped her daughter function better. She implied that she wasn’t getting any help from Bill, which was patently untrue.

Later, when younger daughter was offered a job in Utah, Ex did her best to get her to stay home. She offered her all kinds of stuff– everything from music lessons that she’d always wanted to more money than what younger daughter would make in Utah. Fortunately, younger daughter was smart enough to see through the bullshit and valued her freedom from the craziness more than a few extra bucks (which would not have materialized, anyway). When younger daughter made her decision, Ex did what she always does… sent a long, scathing, insulting letter full of shaming, empty promises, pleading, and berating. Then, in a true act of apparent desperation to maintain control, she allegedly attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. And when that didn’t work, she brutally cut off her daughter (temporarily, of course– in retrospect, permanently cutting her off might have been the kindest thing to do).

Of course, Ex never totally lets anyone go. The beautiful thing about COVID-19, though, is that it makes it much harder for her to travel. Ex, who once told Bill she would never put the children on a plane to see us in Virginia (because of terrorism), would not hesitate to drive or fly thousands of miles and drop in on people unawares. If she ever got a sign that younger daughter was weakening in her resolve, she would absolutely take the opportunity to insert herself and poison her daughter’s relationships or even alienate her own kids from her. That’s how toxic people operate, and I have been watching Ex do it from afar for many years now.

For many years, I was very angry with my husband’s daughters. I thought they had treated Bill unfairly and were not very bright for rejecting him. Now that we’re hearing the other side, I can see why they did what they did. They were told a lot of lies and raised by a master manipulator who only thinks of herself and her own needs. This morning, Bill said that he used to think that his Ex did these things to be mean and hurtful to him. But now, after comparing notes with his daughter, he realizes that she simply doesn’t care, and that’s even worse than her trying to be hurtful. Because Bill DID care and would have helped them if he’d only known. Those girls didn’t have to suffer as much as they did when they were growing up.

It’s amazing how perspectives change as we age. Five years ago, I never believed I would be writing this about Bill’s daughter. Five years ago, she wouldn’t speak to or about Bill. Now, I realize that she must have been scared. Her mother had built up this image that Bill is an awful man. She told outrageous lies about him and me… things like he abandoned the family to have an affair with me (even though she had moved her boyfriend– now husband #3– into the house while she was still married to Bill) or that the Army was more important than his family (the Army provided excellent pay and benefits he couldn’t get working in a factory– much of which he was sending to Ex as child support).

One of the nice things I have discovered since moving my blog from Blogger is that I get fewer people reading… and leaving me shitty comments because they assume I’ve either made up this story or I’m just a bitter second wife. It’s true that I’m bitter about a lot of things. I despise Bill’s ex wife. That is not a secret. I certainly wouldn’t like her for the way she treated Bill and his kids and other people, but there’s another reason I despise her. It’s because she’s a cruel person. She was very cruel to Bill when they were married. When I say “very cruel”, I mean criminally so… as in, I think she should go to prison for what she did. If she were a man, there would be no question, as long as the crime was reported. Suffice to say, my husband was a victim of domestic violence in his first marriage.

More than once, random people have told me that I have no right to write about these things. They tell me how I “come off” to others and try to silence me from speaking the truth. It’s happened to me repeatedly throughout my life, not just in terms of my husband’s ex wife, but in other situations, too. I’m looking at certain people who have been “interested” in my writing and not wanted me to write about my experiences because they are friends with the other person or because they themselves don’t want to be cast in a bad light. You know what? If you’re doing dirty, dishonest things, you totally deserve to deal with the repercussions of being outed, and I’m done trying to be “positive”, “fair”, and “forgiving” toward people who don’t warrant the consideration. My days of putting up with that shit are over, and it’s a very liberating way to be. Like everyone else, I deserve to be heard and validated, too, even if no one wants to listen to what I have to say (or write). This doesn’t mean, though, that I agree with mobbing people or deliberately trying to ruin their lives. I just think they should have to deal with the natural and inevitable consequences of their bad behavior.

My husband’s daughter, to her credit, has figured this all out a lot younger than her dad and I have. She realizes that some people are simply full of shit and she doesn’t have to waste her time on them. She knows that her mother is full of shit and doesn’t care about her. Her mother couldn’t be bothered to buy inserts for younger daughter’s shoes so she wasn’t in so much pain. Her mother couldn’t be bothered to have her daughter’s spine checked by a doctor and braced so that she didn’t suffer from scoliosis that caused her back problems. She couldn’t be bothered to get in touch with Bill so that those kids could get healthcare. The one time she did contact Bill about their healthcare needs, she asked him to send HER money instead of paying the provider directly. Why? Because that way, she could ask for as much as she wanted and it would go into her pocket… hell, we don’t even know if there ever was a bill that needed to be paid because she wouldn’t send it. Instead, she just tried to demand the money.

The other day, I watched an excellent video by YouTube psychologist, Dr. Ramani, who specializes in talking about narcissists. The video was about “toxic positivity”, which is a real problem in our society today. We have many people who think we always need to be “positive” and “understanding” at all costs. These toxic positivity folks are perfect “flying monkeys” for narcissists, because they always harp on giving people the benefit of the doubt, even when it’s clear that they don’t deserve it.

Well worth watching, if you have the time and inclination.

I have been on the receiving end of a lot of that shit from people… people who have tried to gaslight me into doubting my own instincts and observations in favor of their well spun bullshit. You know what? Letting this kind of thing go– just giving people a break all the time– always leads to being screwed. If you’re a chronically nice and understanding person, you’re are just begging to be screwed over by this type of person. They thrive on people who are always “nice” and “fair” to them. Anyone who has a well-developed sense of shame and a tendency to be forgiving is at risk of being exploited by people like Ex. A little bit of forgiveness is a good thing; don’t get me wrong. But sometimes, you simply have to call bullshit. And bravo to younger daughter for being smart enough and BRAVE enough to do just that. Her dad and I are now working on the same thing.

Standard
mental health, rants

Here’s a cookie.

I could so easily write about Donald Trump’s latest nonsense, but I figure enough people are already doing that. Besides, as the campaign season heats up, I’m sure I’ll feel like ranting about his stupidity. So, for now, I’m going to write about gaiters.

Before the stupid COVID-19 pandemic, I had never heard of gaiters. I didn’t know what they were. Yes, I had seen people wearing them, but I wasn’t aware of the term for them and I never wore one myself. One of my friends mentioned that she liked to wear them instead of face masks because they make her feel less claustrophobic than face masks do.

I thought of my friend last week, as the news media reported about a simple study done by researchers at Duke University’s medical school. They were trying to find face coverings for the at-risk and underserved populations in Durham, North Carolina. Having been a student of public health and social work in neighboring South Carolina, I know that there are a lot of poor people in that region and one great mission of the universities down there is to provide assistance to people in poor and rural communities.

So anyway, one of the study’s co-authors, Warren S. Warren, a professor of physics, chemistry, radiology and biomedical engineering at Duke, was quoted as saying “There’s a lot of controversy and people say, ‘Well, masks don’t do anything.’ Well, the answer is some don’t, but most do.”

It was in the news, too.

Then, the news reported that the researchers had found that wearing gaiters might be worse than not wearing a mask at all. Naturally, this finding immediately caused controversy. Gaiter manufacturers, no doubt enjoying the increased sales of their products, rushed to clarify that not all gaiters are created equally. For about a week, people wondered if they should be changing their face coverings… and I’m sure some busybodies wondered if they needed to be confronting strangers about what they were covering their noses and mouths with.

And then yesterday, there was a news article in The New York Times called “Save the Gaiters!”. Sure enough, this was a piece about how people should not be so quick to toss their gaiters. Apparently even more studies are being done that show that gaiters are alright after all. The upshot was that any covering is better than none.

Naturally, I was annoyed by this news… but I was even more annoyed by some of the comments. Some of the comments were very good and insightful. For instance, one mom wrote that gaiters were the only covering her autistic son could tolerate. Another wrote that he preferred wearing gaiters because he wears hearing aids and they cost $6000. When he’s worn the usual face masks, the over the ear loops have knocked out his expensive hearing aids. Someone else wrote that they like the gaiters for exercising, since they are easy to pull up and down. I thought these were all good points, worthy of considering.

But then, not surprisingly, along came the virtue signalers… people who seem to think that face coverings are awesome and should be something we all wear forevermore. One person wrote about how the mask they wear is five layers thick and passes the “Bill Nye candle test” (if you can blow out a candle while wearing a mask, it’s no good). I felt like handing the person a cookie. The same commenter wrote that he or she was about to correct someone in a store who was wearing a gaiter because the news had reported the gaiters were no good. S/he wrote that in the end, s/he didn’t say anything to the gaiter wearer and was glad for that. You know what? Me too. Who appointed that person “mask police”, anyway? I can pretty much imagine how I would have reacted if some busybody stranger gave me unsolicited advice over my face covering. My eyes would have said it all.

Other people pointed out that the constantly changing guidelines about COVID-19 are very frustrating to people, causing a lot of them to just “throw up their hands”. I agree with that comment. The guidelines have been changing constantly ever since this became an issue months ago. The fact is, most people have no idea what to do. Not even the scientists do. That’s why the advice is constantly changing. Oh, but try and tell that to some people… (which I don’t because that’s a big waste of time).

More people were acting like experts– good students of Google, who think they are up on all the COVID-19 research. But opinions seem to differ on whose opinion one should take seriously. According to Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times reporter who wrote the piece on saving the gaiters, it’s Dr. Linsey Marr of Virginia Tech, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and one of the world’s leading experts on aerosols. But I’m sure other people have their favorite experts on this topic… and some people fancy themselves as more knowledgeable about this subject than they actually are.

I know that I’ve already covered this topic extensively. I still hate wearing masks and I hope that something better comes along that makes them obsolete. They do cause problems for a significant number of people, and they are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and a reminder of how much things suck right now. I wore a mask this morning when I went to turn in a new passport application. As I left the building where we turned in the paperwork, I noticed how the mask obscured my vision. I had to pull it down from my eyes so I wouldn’t trip on the stairs and face plant in the parking lot. I do that enough when I’m not wearing a fucking mask.

I do cooperate with the rules, but I’m not particularly happy about it. And I don’t think I have to be happy– which is yet another attitude about masks that I find irritating. Some people are going around preaching about the wonders of face masks and how we should all cheerfully do our parts. But the reality is, face masks suck for a lot of people. Some people can’t stand to wear them. Some people can’t communicate as easily because of them. Wearing them is definitely not the ideal, and not something that we should just accept from now on. If we simply accept the masks as the status quo, what incentive do we have to find a way to beat COVID-19?

People have every right to be upset about what’s going on right now. We’re all in this together, that’s true, and maybe griping or being grumpy about face masks isn’t productive. But neither is “toxic positivity”. Sometimes, things just plain suck, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. It’s okay to hate face masks, and to be irritated by cheerleaders who insist that face masks will save humanity (they won’t). It’s alright to be pissed off that people are dying alone in hospitals, even if they don’t have the virus. It’s alright to be angry that people have lost their jobs, and some are losing their homes, and young people are being denied rites of passage like attending college, going to football games and dances, hanging out in cafes, and being with their friends. Acknowledging how much this blows isn’t a bad thing. Hell, maybe it might spur some smart people into action so that this era will be in the past sooner, rather than later.

There’s even a good article about “toxic positivity” in the Washington Post today. It’s basically about how people should have the right not to be okay if they’re not okay. It’s okay not to give in to cognitive dissonance. It’s also okay to realize that we don’t always have to be cheerful and upbeat. I will grant that staying in a cranky place isn’t helpful, but neither is ignoring the pain within ourselves or in other people.

I’m getting pretty tired of the relentlessly cheerful folks. I’m tired of people who have no tolerance for naysayers and feel like they need to school them. Sometimes the naysayers have valid points and ought to be heard. I think the guy who prefers gaiters due to his hearing aids is a perfect example of someone who should be heard. People who don’t wear hearing aids probably don’t consider why the ear loops might present a problem for those people. People who are neurotypical probably don’t consider why a parent with an autistic child outfits their child with a gaiter instead of a face mask. But they sure have no problem judging others.

I have a friend who wrote a “delightful” post about how she had met a friend for lunch. She wrote about how she didn’t bother with lipstick because of the mask. Then she posted a picture of herself and the other person, grinning behind their masks as they sat in front of food and coffee. Naturally, this picture was simply for show, since as soon as the camera was put away, they took off those masks so they could eat and drink. So what the fuck was the point of that post? Here’s a cookie. You did your part. Good girl. *Sigh*

The fact is, people are going to get sick whether or not they wear a face mask, a gaiter, or nothing at all. Sometimes, shit just happens. When shit happens, it sucks. I did read that South Africa has reported a much diminished flu season this year due to the widespread use of face masks, and that’s a great thing. But COVID-19 is a lot more contagious than the flu is. It’s going to be a problem for a long time. It’s okay to acknowledge that and realize it sucks. Positivity has its place, and I’m not saying it’s good to dwell in the bad. But trying to force people to be positive is a toxic habit. And if people are doing anything at all to show solidarity– even if the media says they’re “wrong”– people should appreciate it and leave them alone.

I’m glad to be in Europe, where people seem to be a lot more pragmatic about this stuff. People cooperate for the common good, but they don’t crow about it incessantly. They don’t nag people to be happy when they don’t feel happy. And I’ve found that in Europe, people seem to understand that some things just suck. We have to get through them somehow, but no one is handing out cookies for having a great attitude.

Standard