musings

The joy of writing…

Another week done, one more to go. A week from now, Bill will be home and I won’t have to eat my own cooking anymore. πŸ˜‰ I’m actually a pretty good cook. I just don’t enjoy cooking for myself and eating leftovers for days. I used to be a lot better at cooking for one. In fact, I used to enjoy cooking, even if it was just for myself. I was even paid to cook at one point in my life. Nowadays, I can’t be bothered. Of course, I miss Bill, too. I live a pretty solitary life these days. I don’t mind being alone, but being totally alone gets really old after a week. We’re now starting week three, and I am definitely over it. Good thing I have my dogs to talk to and give me a reason to get out of the house.

I never got around to posting new content yesterday. I meant to, but I just couldn’t think of anything earth shattering to write about. Writing takes energy, and sometimes I simply need a day or two to regroup. Sure enough, I got inspiration last night. Something happened that reminded me of why I bother to keep writing these posts.

I spent most of yesterday watching old movies. One of the movies I watched was a 1990 classic called Misery. I remember seeing that film when it was new. I was then a freshman English major at Longwood College. My friend and fellow English major Chris and I dreamt of being writers in those days. I had gone to Longwood thinking I’d get qualified to become a teacher, just to have something to fall back on in case the dream didn’t come true for me. Chris had gone in intending to be a plain old English major. Back then, Longwood didn’t offer as many majors or concentrations as it does today. If I were a student there now, I probably would not have majored in English. I probably would have majored in creative writing or maybe even music… but I digress.

What ultimately happened is that Chris ended up becoming qualified to teach. Conversely, I decided to forego trying to become qualified to teach. I realized that I didn’t really enjoy literature classes that much and didn’t want to have to teach English for a living. I mean, I did like some of the books I read, but what I really wanted to do was create. I figured there are enough mediocre teachers out there who went into the field because it seemed like the obvious thing for an English major to do. I have nothing against English majors who want to teach. I just realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. And, having taught English for two years in Armenia, I think I made the right decision.

Anyway, as I was watching Misery last night, I remembered all the time my friend and I spent in the computer lab at Longwood, composing our short stories and reading them to friends. We had so much fun, and those times brought us a lot of joy, if only because some of our stories were hilarious. Then I noticed something that, in the several times I’d seen Misery in the past, I had not noticed. Anytime you write something, you run the risk of pissing people off and becoming “enslaved” by worrying about public perception. Misery is an extreme and fictitious version of that phenomenon, but common bloggers like me experience it too.

The protagonist, Paul Sheldon, is a novelist who feels like he’s in a rut, writing the same wildly popular series about a character named Misery. Misery is making him miserable. He’s bored, and wants to branch into a new direction– find the joy of writing again. So he decides to kill Misery off and write another book with a different protagonist. But, before publishing his last Misery centric novel, he takes off in his Mustang during a snowstorm and has a car accident. He’s “rescued” by a psychopathic nurse named Annie Wilkes, who is a super fan of his Misery novels. She’s a great nurse, but she’s also batshit crazy. She torments Paul, forcing him to burn his manuscript because she doesn’t like it. Then, in a cringeworthy scene, she breaks his ankles with a sledgehammer when Paul tries to escape the hell she’s put him in. Paul is basically forced to write what Annie Wilkes wants him to write. He’s not free to write as he likes, and that is a special kind of hell for a writer. Maybe it’s even worse than having one’s ankles smashed by a sledgehammer.

While I was watching Misery, which I downloaded for a very reasonable $4.99 on iTunes, I noticed I got an email from WordPress. Someone had sent me a message through my contact form. The vast majority of people who write to me using the contact form are spammers, but I do sometimes get legitimate communications that way. And this one happened to be from the author of a piece I had read in The New York Times. I recently blogged about the piece, and the author was writing to thank me.

I felt compelled to write about Adam Barrows’ essay about falling in love with his wife, Darla, who had an eating disorder. I found his story fascinating, and I was dismayed by all of the negative comments he got from people who had focused on what I thought was the wrong part of the story. Commenter after commenter wrote about what a bad person they believed Adam Barrows was, because he evidently hadn’t encouraged Darla to seek treatment for her eating disorder. Many people were engaging in outright character assassination. I doubted that most of them had spent more than a minute thinking about what it would have taken to get Darla into treatment and the difficult position Adam was in, especially given that he was a young man at the time with his own psychological baggage to handle. It occurred to me that some of them also would have also criticized him for trying to force treatment on his wife.

As a fellow writer, I have a lot of empathy for Adam. Over the years, I’ve written about very personal subjects, some of which were controversial. Sometimes, it’s gotten me into trouble. I also don’t have a super thick skin. It’s thicker than it used to be, but I could definitely stand to develop more calluses. πŸ˜‰ I commend Adam for submitting his story to The New York Times. That took a lot of guts.

I’ve noticed that, as our culture has become evermore enslaved to devices and computerized communications, people have become markedly less civilized. It’s very easy to sit behind a computer screen and judge other people. We’ve all done it. Maybe because I came along during an era when we weren’t always online, I don’t feel comfortable casually popping off sweeping judgments about people who reveal personal things about themselves.

It made me uncomfortable that so many people were calling Adam Barrows a narcissist, especially since they are total strangers and were basing their psychological assessments on a single essay he wrote for a major newspaper. I have had dealings with actual narcissists. The ones I’ve known would not have been capable of writing an essay like the one Adam wrote. Narcissists are notoriously shallow people, and they aren’t capable of much introspection or any empathy. Adam might have been guilty of being an enabler, and he admits that freely. But I didn’t think he was a narcissist, and last night’s thoughtful email exchange proved to me that’s he’s not one.

This isn’t the first time someone has sent me a note of appreciation. It’s always a thrill when someone lets me know I’ve written something helpful or encouraging, or even when someone thinks I’ve written something funny. Those kinds of communications are what keep me going, even if I don’t get them all the time. I don’t do this for money. I do it because life has led me to a place where I can be a writer. It’s something I feel like I have to do.

I’ve also gotten occasional nastygrams from people. For instance, a couple of years ago, I got a message from a woman who had lived in our previous house before us. She was upset about some of the things I had written about our living situation in our former house and basically insinuated that I’m a “bad person” for the things I wrote– which were really just my opinions and perspectives, along with some justified venting about the situation. She also mocked me for thinking of myself as a writer and for calling myself “creative”. She felt the need to defend her “friends”, not considering that I have the right to share my perspectives. No one was forcing her to stalk me, either. If what I wrote was that offensive or upsetting, she could have simply scrolled by, rather than trying to shut me up.

I couldn’t help but notice that she’d been reading my stuff for over four years, even though she’d apparently only been doing it to monitor and gossip about me with the ex landlady and her daughter. I suspect that despite her haughty, shaming comment to me, she wasn’t as “high-minded” and noble as she pretended to be. My guess is that she was upset that I’d figured out that she’s a liar and was worried that I wasn’t going to tolerate the abuse anymore. I don’t know if she experienced the same things Bill and I experienced. She’s clearly a different type of person than we are, and she claims she’s friends with our former landlady. What stuck out to me, though, was that she wasn’t willing to let me write freely.

She probably doesn’t know or care that what she did was very damaging and hypocritical. But that’s alright… because I survived, and again, she did consistently read for over four years. That tells me my writing must not have sucked that much. It clearly made a difference to her, and was obviously interesting– enough to compel her to send me a message, trying to censor me. It was a negative communication, but it wasn’t based on the quality of my writing. She was trying to shame and silence me. She wasn’t strong enough to leave me alone and simply let me have my say on my space.

Writing is an incredibly courageous thing to do. Making your voice heard is brave, because you never know how you’ll be perceived. I don’t know what Adam thought the reaction would be to his piece. Did he think it would be well-received in our super “woke” society? Or did he know that people would blame him for not trying to “save” his wife? Did he realize that many people would not understand or empathize with his situation? Was he prepared for the fallout? I wonder if he felt driven to tell his story. I’ve often felt like I had to tell my stories, even when they don’t go off well. I’ve taken some lumps over the years. I still write because that’s what I do– for better or worse. Some people don’t understand it or me, and they don’t appreciate what I do. I don’t write for them. I mostly do it for myself, but I also do it for those who are searching for something– information, validation, entertainment, insight… or whatever else that causes people to search Google.

In my original post about Adam and Darla, I related the reactions I got from people after I blogged about how my husband’s ex wife reminded me of Jessica McCord, a woman I saw profiled on Snapped. That post was up for months before anyone reacted to it. But when it was discovered, I got many negative comments from total strangers who had no understanding of our situation. It wasn’t the first time that had happened, but it was probably the first time I got really pissed off about it. I wrote a follow up post which was much better received. I even got a comment from a man who had known Alan and Terra Bates, Jessica McCord’s victims. He got it, and validated what I was trying to convey, which was really gratifying. He generously took a moment to try to understand my perspective and realize why I came to the conclusions I did.

We’re all in this world together. There are real people behind the computer screens. Most people who know me offline, don’t think I’m a horrible person. I didn’t get the impression that Adam is a horrible person. I don’t completely understand his situation because we don’t know each other. I appreciated his bravery in sharing his story. He and his wife are still happy together, and apparently, they’re both healthy. Ultimately, his story is a happy one. I simply wanted to point that out to those who were so focused on his wife’s mental illness and the way Adam handled it that they missed that their story isn’t a tragedy. Ultimately, what I think matters most is that they love each other and have made their marriage work. What other people think of how he handled things means a lot less in the grand scheme of things. They’ve obviously done something right. They’ve been together for decades.

Adam’s email made my day… I love hearing from people. Even the negative comments give me inspiration and material for the next post. I get joy from writing and learning new things. Maybe some people don’t understand it and think I’m wasting my time. Maybe some people think I should go out and get a “real” job. Maybe some people judge me for what I write and how I spend my time. I’m reminded, once again, that we’re all in the world living our lives from our own perspectives. Not everybody sees what I see, just as I can’t see what others see. So sharing that perspective is useful, especially for those who will try to understand and appreciate it. That’s why I keep doing this. And I want to thank everyone who takes a few minutes to try to comprehend my angles.

Incidentally, nineteen years ago today, Bill put an engagement ring on my finger. We were “engaged” a couple months before he put a ring on it, but it became real when he officially asked me to marry him. I wish he was here today to share some bubbly with me, and not just because I haven’t had any wine since he left two weeks ago. I miss him so much. Glad he’ll be back in a few days. When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog if not for him.

Happy engagement anniversary.

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musings

I did it…

I wrote lyrics to a song called “Three Chords and the Truth”. But now I think maybe I want to change the melody. Maybe I might even make the song all mine, rather than just a parody of someone else’s song. For that, I’m going to need some more time and technique.

I learned a new guitar skill today. It’s a technique that involves the blues. Unfortunately, my hands are still too small and my fingers aren’t very flexible or dexterous yet. I’m still working on it. Learning to play guitar is very satisfying on many levels, although I’ve kind of been neglecting my vocals. Maybe I’ll work on those today, too. The more I work on music, the less time I have to sit and think about what’s wrong with the world.

Bill had to go into work again today, mainly because the Internet is still sucking pretty hard. It’s hard for both of us to work on the Net right now. I don’t know what’s going on with our ISP. Maybe they’re needing to do some upgrades. Anyway, we had a package waiting at the post office, so it’s just as well that he went in.

Not much else has happened today. I spent several hours washing the linens, took Arran for a walk, ran into a lady walking her horses, and did some writing on my travel blog. The writing and laundry took up the morning. I’m glad we went to the Eifel, although we probably aren’t interesting enough for most people to follow, especially in the midst of COVID-19. I’m finding that I don’t have much desire to go through the rigamarole required to visit a museum or some other indoor place, especially when not that many people seem to appreciate my efforts. For now, it’s probably better to blog mostly for myself. I do like to go back and read some of my memories, especially of many of the trips we’ve taken. I wish I were a blogger when we were in Germany the first time. We had some epic times when we were here from 2007-09.

I may take some time to do some music this afternoon… then try to finish my latest book so I can review it. Maybe I’ll think about where we can take our next long weekend, although I have a feeling we’ll be going to Stuttgart next, rather than a place we haven’t yet been. It’s way past time for us to see the dentist.

I guess the one thing I can mention is that SingSnap is about to launch a new Web site, since Adobe Flash is about to be obsolete. I’m not sure I’m going to like it. The Beta version is already available and I don’t like the layout much. People are also bitching about some policy changes that were made toward those who don’t choose to pay for a membership. It doesn’t affect me, since I am a paying member, although I have found that I’m kind of losing interest in the site. It could be because now I’m getting to the point at which I can accompany myself and maybe even play songs I never could before.

If anything good comes from a pandemic, it’s that I finally decided to pick up a guitar and learn how to play it. Now, I just need to learn how to play it well, so I rely less on karaoke and kind-hearted people to accompany me.

I do wonder, though… this is something that has crossed my mind a lot. Do people think it’s wrong to stay home? Do people think it’s wrong to stay home because of face mask requirements? Am I selfish for not going out and gamely supporting the economy? I don’t know. God help anyone who says anything anti-mask, though. Apparently, that’s what’s going to save humanity.

For the record… although I do comply with the mask requirements, I personally don’t think they do a lot of good. They make people feel better. Someone in RfM posted a rant about how they went to get ice cream. The girl who waited on them was wearing a mask and a face shield, but apparently neglected to wash her hands before serving ice cream or wear gloves. She touched her mask and her visor, prepared the ice cream, vanilla with almonds, and then “smooshed” it into the cup with her bare, unwashed hands.

The poster said nothing at the time, but was upset. S/he felt the ice cream was now contaminated. Maybe it was, although probably not by COVID-19, which I don’t think is a food borne pathogen… And, to be sure, it would not have been acceptable to “smoosh” the ice cream with bare hands even before the pandemic struck. But it just brought to mind the fact that a lot of people would not have noticed. They would have noticed her wearing the mask and the shield because it was obvious. But how many people actually watch when food handlers prepare food? That’s mostly why I’m not all that sold on the masks. Most people are simply not conscious of being scrupulous at all times. People get tired and careless, or they fall into old habits. The person who is dutifully wearing a mask might not have changed it in weeks. Or they might have been behind the counter picking their nose… You just don’t know.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for right now. Maybe I’ll be back if I get inspired, but I think I’d rather play guitar.

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divorce, Ex, narcissists, psychology

Vindication…

Today’s post is not going to be about current events. Frankly, I’m once again feeling a bit saturated by what’s been going on in the world. A friend added me to a group for military wives against racism (not the actual name of the group), and it’s very busy. I spent a good part of yesterday looking at the constant stream of outrage about racism, and I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all… So, I’m not going to write about that today. Instead, I’m going to write about vindication.

Those of you who used to read my original blog already know that I wrote many times about my husband’s ex wife. More than once, people told me I was “crazy”, “bitter”, “petty”, or “bitchy”, because I wrote the truth about her. I had more than a few people try to blame me or Bill for what happened in his first marriage.

I suspect a lot of the people who felt qualified to opine about our situation were projecting shit from their own lives. Because, let’s face it, a lot of times, when a heterosexual marriage goes south, the man does bear a large part of the blame for what went wrong. More often than not, both parties are equally to blame, but it’s true that men are statistically more likely to be abusers, for instance. And a lot of times, men are less emotionally mature than women are, especially when they’re involved with the military or another line of work that is typically “male-centric”.

There were times over the years when I wondered if I was being fair in my assessments about Ex and all that went wrong. I wondered if I could be more charitable and understanding toward her, and the way she treats people. I did, on a conscious level, understand that she had been severely abused and neglected when she was growing up. I could understand on an intellectual plane how she turned into someone as cruel and mean spirited as she always seemed to be.

After awhile, once the kids became adults, I stopped caring as much about her. I wrote less often about her, although I still wrote some posts that drew negative comments from the peanut gallery. As recently as late 2018, someone commented that I shouldn’t “trash” Bill’s ex wife and air so much TMI “dirty laundry” on my blog. They implied that writing about this stuff made me less “classy”… as if I really care if someone who doesn’t know me personally thinks I have “class”. The fact is, I don’t (either care or have β€œclass”). I know the truth about who I am, and what happened. I write about it for myself, and for those who can relate.

Bill’s daughter has been talking to him, and we’ve learned that the truth about what happened was actually even worse than we knew. I suspected on one level that things were probably bad in their house. I knew this intellectually, because of what I know about high conflict personalities. My husband’s ex wife definitely has one. It’s not as simple as dealing with someone who has a short fuse or is argumentative. She is seriously unable to cooperate, empathize, or relate with other people. She must have things her own way, even if it means messing things up for herself. She’ll go out of her way to set things up to prove people “wrong”, even if it hurts her or a loved one.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Back in 2006, Ex’s eldest child, a son from her first marriage, had turned 18 and wanted to move out of his mother’s house. Ex had set up the divorce decree (like, she literally wrote it up herself) so that the kids would get child support beyond age 18 if they met certain conditions. But when her son decided he wanted to move out, she realized that it didn’t suit her purposes for him to continue to get child support. So she called Bill and asked him not to pay child support for her son (and actually, Bill shouldn’t have been doing that anyway, since legally, he was not Bill’s responsibility).

Bill refused to honor her request and demanded to know what was going on with his daughters. She got very angry and sent him a hateful email full of bile about what an awful father he is, and how much the children hated me. Keep in mind, I have met Bill’s daughters just once. It was in July 2003, about seven months after we married. The girls were 9 and almost 12 years old. We got along just fine. After that, Ex would not let them visit. Before his visit this year to younger daughter, Bill had last seen them in December 2004. But here it was, April 2006, and Ex was claiming that they “hated” me. She also told Bill not to tell me what she wrote. In essence, Bill’s ex wife expected him to keep a secret from his current wife. Naturally, that didn’t sit well with me. One could argue that it’s not my business how she raises her children, but she had no right to ask Bill to keep secrets from me.

So I wrote her an email and basically ripped her a new one. I told her she was a terrible mother because every time she divorces, she forces her children to divorce their fathers. I also let her know that I would trust my own perceptions of what the girls thought of me over hers. Since we’d only met once, and I knew that we’d gotten along fine, I figured that if they truly “hated” me in 2006, it was not because of anything I did. I also lambasted her for denying her son access to his real dad and for changing her son’s original last name to Bill’s. Looking back on this, I realize that maybe I shouldn’t have written to her, although the one good thing that happened was that she quit sending Bill hateful emails and she never again tried to screw with me personally.

Three years passed. During that time, Bill was paying his former stepson child support. He was talking to him regularly, even though we were in Germany for a good part of that time. Then, on New Year’s Day 2009, I happened to make a discovery. At the time, I was a member of a messageboard for second wives and stepmoms. Sometime around Christmas 2008, someone in the group posted a link to a now defunct Web site called criminalsearches.com. You could enter people’s names into the site and it would show whether or not someone had been involved in criminal activity. This site actually went beyond the other, similar sites that make you pay. It was totally free, and even showed the official sites where you could find the information for yourself. Ex and her brood were in Arizona at the time, so the information was on Arizona’s court site.

One day, I was bored. I plugged in the names of all the adults in Ex’s household, to include ex stepson, Ex, and her current husband. Sure enough, they all had entries. But I got very worried because one entry was for someone with the same name as Ex’s husband (it’s a common name). The charges were very serious, involving crimes that would necessitate Bill’s intervention. After a little more sleuthing, I determined that the person with those crimes was someone who was actually two years younger than Ex’s current husband, but had the same name. I was relieved that it wasn’t Ex’s husband who was getting arrested for being drunk in public and stalking women. But then I came across a court entry for former stepson, indicating that he was going to change his last name. He had kept this big news a secret from Bill.

Let me state right now that neither Bill nor I had a problem with the young man’s decision to change his name. It never should have been changed to Bill’s last name in the first place. Moreover, her first ex husband should have been paying child support and having access to his son. He wanted to, but was not able to pay as much as Bill did. The issue was that the lad was changing his name without so much as a word to Bill about it. He was taking “child support” from Bill and sneaking around behind Bill’s back. It was very shady, ungrateful, and disrespectful behavior. So Bill called him out on it. Ex stepson’s reaction was one of anger. Clearly, he’d been led to believe that he could take this action and not be caught… and, in fact, he was only caught because I was bored and did some snooping. If the person in my group hadn’t posted that link, he probably would have gotten away with it.

It soon became clear that Ex had been working to get her son to detach from Bill for the past three years. She got her son back in touch with his dad, convinced him to change his last name to what it was originally, and led him to believe that he could do this and not be caught. And it was all because I told her she was wrong to deny him access to his real father. She was determined to make me “sorry” for telling her off in an email. I’m sure she hoped Bill would hate me for it, too. She probably suspected he would, because that would have been her reaction in the same situation. She seems to think everyone thinks the way she does.

I suspect she was surprised and even angry that Bill wasn’t upset that the boy had changed his name and reconnected with his real dad. She had intended to hurt Bill by doing that. She did hurt him, but not because the ex stepson rejected Bill in favor of his natural father. It was because Bill had been his “dad” for so many years, and the relationship all came down to money. In fact, the very last time Bill communicated with his ex stepson, it was in a message the lad had sent, begging for just one last payment of $500… and a promise that if Bill would only pay it, he’d never be “bothered” by ex stepson again.

Normal, loving, caring mothers would not do this to their children. They would welcome other people loving their children and helping them in life. But Ex deliberately screwed up her son’s relationship with Bill, which was mutually beneficial to both of them, because she was angry that I had told her off several years prior. Moreover, as the girls came of age, she refused to cooperate with Bill so that they could have valuable financial and emotional support from him. Younger daughter went to college with just the clothes on her back. If we had been in contact with her, she could have gotten child support and, perhaps, might have a college degree and less college debt now. Older daughter might not be saddled with as much student loan debt as she has.

So anyway… all of this leads up to why I titled today’s post “vindication”. Over the past months, it’s become clear that I wasn’t overreacting or being “petty” about Ex. I have suspected for a long time that she has serious mental health issues. Some of them are probably organic and could be helped with medication, but most are personality disorders. Personality disorders, unfortunately, are less likely to be curable because they are a part of a person’s psyche. A person with a personality disorder has to recognize that they have a problem and want to fix it. Sadly, most people with personality disorders, particularly those of the “cluster B” variety, do NOT want to get help. They think other people are the ones with the “problem”, even when it’s glaringly obvious that when problems arise, it almost always starts with them and their aberrant behaviors.

People love to hate “stepmothers” and second wives. I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed that I broke up my husband’s first marriage. Our ex landlady, who I think probably is a bit of a high conflict person herself, actually asked me point blank if Bill got divorced because of me. We have learned that Ex told her daughters that Bill cheated on her with me, which is a bald faced lie. In fact, if anyone was cheating, it was Ex. She moved her current husband into the house Bill was paying for before they had even divorced. I met Bill offline for the first time almost a year after he and his ex were officially divorced, and we didn’t even consummate our marriage until we were married for two weeks. Bill had to explain all of this to his younger daughter when they met in person back in March. Fortunately, she never entirely believed her mother’s lies and after meeting Bill again fifteen years after their last in person visit, realized that she’d been fed a lot of lies for years.

I’ve been on the receiving end of abuse from people who have commented on my blog posts, as well as people in RfM about my comments about Ex. Again, it’s usually people who are projecting their own situations onto ours. They don’t know me or Bill, but they know what happened in their situation. And somehow, they mostly figure it’s always the same story. The man is the one who screwed things up. The second wife/stepmom is an evil whore who wrecked the family home. And the ex wife is always just a victim, cast aside for a younger, prettier model.

Well… younger daughter has wisely been seeking professional help with what’s she’s been through as well as postpartum depression. And she has learned that her mother has real problems… mental health problems. The conclusion is much the same as the one I came to. Apparently, the therapist thinks the Ex is probably suffering from borderline personality disorder with psychosis. Originally, I thought maybe Ex had BPD too. She may very well have BPD, but personally, I think she’s also got full blown narcissistic personality disorder. I know that is a popular term right now and it’s being thrown around willy nilly by all kinds of people. I also know that I am not qualified to diagnose her. However, having done the work for master’s degrees in social work and public health, and having lived with the aftereffects of Bill’s relationship with his ex wife, this is what I’ve concluded about her. And it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion.

I am certainly not perfect. I have my own issues. I’ve sought psychiatric help myself in the past, mainly for depression and anxiety. Seeking help for a mental health condition is, by the way, a sign of strength, not weakness. But, as Bill often reassures me, I’m not at all like his ex wife. I don’t abuse him. I don’t cheat on him, squander his money, or sabotage his successes. In fact, I want him to do well, and I do all I can to support him. When he does well, we both reap the benefits. I love my husband very much and don’t see him as an adversary. I want him to be happy. I would wish for his happiness even if we split up someday, mainly because I know what kind of a person he is. He’s not an evil person, and honestly, he’s done so much for me I could never repay him anyway. But I don’t think we’ll split up, even though the state of the world has us both a bit stressed right now. We love each other too much. We are, in fact, pretty much perfect for each other.

I write about this because I know we’re not the only ones who have gone through this battle, as insane and farfetched as it may seem. Those who have never had to deal with someone who is legitimately mentally ill and refuses to get help will never know just how “crazy” it can be. I sometimes think my own dealings with mental health professionals just before Bill and I met were preparation for what was to come. Like I said, I do have my own craziness to deal with, but it’s on a much smaller scale than Ex’s is… and the fact that Bill divorced his ex wife is not a reflection on him. He tried for years to make the relationship work. She finally crossed a line that made it impossible to keep trying. And that’s when he ran straight into my arms.

I do feel somewhat vindicated as we’ve learned more about the truth of what happened. Hearing another perspective from another escapee of Ex’s crazy fantasy world has taught me that I’m not the one who’s crazy. I may seem bitter, petty, crazy, and wicked to those who read these posts without any backstory or insight. But the truth is, while I’m certainly not perfect, I’m also not the enemy… at least not to most people. I’ve only ever wanted to live my life in peace. Those who let me live in peace and don’t hurt me or the ones I love will get the same consideration. Those who don’t, at the very least, can expect that I’ll write about them. And the older I get, the more likely it is that I’ll take some other action, too. Even if it’s just to practice my guitar, which I’m going to do right now.

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Not so new anymore…

So… it’s been about a year since I took the WordPress plunge. How time flies!

I won’t lie. The change to WordPress was difficult. It was a necessary change, to be sure, but moving platforms definitely created a pain in the ass for me. My original blog, which started almost ten years ago on the Blogger platform, got a slow start. For the first few years of its existence, I didn’t really share it with friends, so it wasn’t read by many and got very few comments. I never thought I’d ever get to the point at which I’d need the extra features offered by WordPress. My blog was just a place for me to record my thoughts.

It was my husband’s younger daughter who initially prompted me to start blogging. Back in 2010, she was sixteen years old and extremely alienated from Bill. Her mother raised her in the LDS religion and she had swallowed the whole thing with gusto. Back then, blogging was popular pastime for Mormons and Bill’s daughter had embraced the hobby. Bill found her blog by accident; it was full of religion and sanctimony, and her tone was offensively arrogant. She wrote a lot like her mother does, which greatly distressed Bill, because his ex wife is very narcissistic and toxic. He didn’t want his daughter to be the same way. Still, Bill had been kept completely in the dark about his daughters since Christmas 2004. He missed his girls and wanted to know how they were doing. As their father, he felt he had the right to know, especially since his younger daughter was still a minor. So he kept reading his daughter’s blog, and he told me about what he’d read. I chose not to read the blog myself, because I knew it would upset me.

Then, in March 2010, when I started the original incarnation of this blog, I was making some money writing online. I had been doing it for years, was good at it, and I enjoyed the process. Since I had a lot of free time and writing is something I like doing, I decided to start a blog of my own. I figured if Bill’s daughter could blog, so could I. My blog started off kind of boring, but as time passed, I started finding more things to write about. I also found it a good place for venting, especially since no one really read the blog in those days.

Four years after I started blogging, the places where I wrote for money all went *poof* pretty much simultaneously. Then, a few months after that, we moved back to Germany, where my travel blog became somewhat popular. Although I mostly just advertised the travel blog, people in the military community eventually found my main blog, although not as many as I would have expected.

Some people seemed to like the blogs. A vocal few hated my blogs, and told me so. I think most of them were either threatened or jealous, since they mostly complained about the name of the blog and not the content. Most of the haters eventually moved on, but there’s always at least one asshole in every crowd. A few of the assholes felt the need to invade my privacy. A year ago, we left that community, and I finally got sick of the intrusions. So, since we had just moved house, I decided my blog would be moving, too. It was definitely time.

I had been thinking about moving the blog for awhile. Blogger is a great platform for starting out, but it has limited functionality. Quite a lot of the functions Blogger did offer were consistently wonky. For instance, regular commenters were having trouble using their screen names and were coming up as “Unknown” when they’d leave feedback. Comments couldn’t be edited easily; I’d make a typo and have to copy and paste, edit, then repost. The search function was terrible; it would only go back a couple of years, when I had almost nine years worth of content.

I didn’t like having Google as my “landlord”, either, since I cherish the ability to be free to write as I like. WordPress is great for that, since I can password protect posts that are “troublesome”, and I paid for the domain, so I don’t have to worry about offending Google advertisers. I also like that there are more options for controlling comments, which means I get a whole lot less spam and/or inappropriate comments.

Still, the old blog was easy to find, free to use, and had regular readers. It was helpful for many people, with book reviews, commentary on current events, and discussions about mental health and other topics. More people liked the blog than disliked it, as far as I could tell. It made me some money, and I had been there for years. There was a lot of history there. Some of the history wasn’t pretty, but it was still important.

I didn’t like the idea of moving my blog just because of a couple of intrusive, dishonest, bullying snakes in the grass who wanted to silence me and refused to mind their own business. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for being less popular. I missed the peace and anonymity I enjoyed before people cared about my writing. I missed feeling free to express myself without a bunch of backlash from people who weren’t interested in my side of the story and just wanted to be shitty. I knew resetting the blog would make it easier to go back to basics.

Ultimately, the positives of changing venues outweighed the negatives, and I made the move. I think I’m better off for it, because most of the people who now read regularly have gotten to know me and don’t seem to think I’m the devil simply because I speak my mind. A few of them have even become friends, of sorts. I still don’t feel free to write the way I’d like to, but it’s getting better. I don’t care that this blog doesn’t make money. I don’t write for money or popularity. I write for my sanity. Some people don’t understand that and judge me, but I guess everyone judges, and everyone gets judged. That’s life. You don’t approve of me or my lifestyle? Build a bridge and get over it.

There are days when I don’t even get ten hits on this blog. When I was on my old platform, I’d get a whole lot more traffic. Sometimes, the hits were gratifying, but after awhile, they made me feel kind of paranoid, particularly when it became clear that some people simply wanted to paint me as someone I’m not and use my writing against me. Hang around narcissistic people and you’ll soon find out what a smear campaign is. I could tell one was brewing because I refused to be silent and tolerate their bullying.

2020 is going to be a better year. I already feel a lot better this year than I did a year ago, which is typically what happens when one leaves a destructive environment. It takes awhile to “detox”, but then things are better. That’s how I feel now. I’d like to write about last year in more detail, and I probably will at some point, although obviously I can’t make it public. At least not until some more time has passed.

I don’t think the people who prompted my “move” understand or care about the damage that was done to me by them. As far as I can tell, they are squarely focused on themselves, putting all the blame on me, and are completely unwilling to take any responsibility. Clearly, they don’t care about my perspective because, as usual, I make a convenient scapegoat– just like I once did to my husband’s ex wife and daughters. To them, harassing me was about safeguarding dishonest, unscrupulous, abusive people who seemed determined to make my life hell. Story of my life. Well, at least one of my husband’s daughters has discovered the truth. The truth always comes out. I’m optimistic that this is the year it will happen on several levels. 2020 is the year of clarity, after all.

So I’m going to keep writing, and although I won’t be reopening my old blog, I will keep reposting some of the better content to this one. I don’t know how long I’ll keep writing here… maybe I’ll move on at some point. Maybe I’ll even rejoin the work force at some point. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and be struck by lightening so I can escape this existence. All I ever really wanted was to be left alone, anyway.

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Ex

Using my words…

Sorry… I wish I had a really lighthearted and less rambling topic for today. On the positive side, I am almost finished reading my latest book and the review will likely be positive. I might even get to it today. In fact, I’m certain I will. It’s dark and rainy outside and I doubt I’ll be arsed to do much more than read and continue binge watching Under Arrest on Netflix.

Last night, as I was sitting there watching the Canadian cop show, it occurred to me that for most of March, I’ll be here by myself. I’ve done this before, of course. My husband went to Iraq for six months back in 2007. But when he deployed, I lived on an Army post and had local friends. I knew my surroundings very well and could even go home to see my parents or other relatives if I wanted to. I never did do that, except in July 2007 when my Granny died.

Yes… this song is originally by Eric Carmen, not Celine Dion… with a nod to Rachmaninoff. Kudos to Eric for not lip syncing here. It’s rather obvious. Hmm… maybe today will be a music day.

Here in Wiesbaden, I don’t know anyone, and I’m still learning my way around because I don’t like driving in Germany. I mean, I can definitely do it. I drove my Mini from Stuttgart with no problem. I just don’t enjoy it if I don’t have somewhere specific to go and/or someone to go with. I’m not sure what happened to me. When I was a social worker, I had to drive all the time and I got to know rural South Carolina pretty well without a GPS or a cell phone. But here, I have to deal with narrow streets, limited paid parking, and obnoxious Staus. Then, once I park and pay, I have to deal with my terrible German skills. Of course I know the solution is to get out more, but it’s hard to work up the enthusiasm for that, especially when the weather sucks.

In Stuttgart, I knew where things were and how to get around. I did drive sometimes, but not very often. We lived in an area where getting my basic needs met wasn’t a problem, but Bill was also never gone for as long as he will be this time. Getting my needs met is not really a problem here, either. I can walk to the grocery store and the bakery. There’s even a small restaurant within stumbling distance of our house. There’s always Amazon.de, too. And if I really needed to, I could drive my car. I wish I wanted to.

So anyway… it’s now March 10th, and Bill will be gone until March 26th. The whole month is stretched ahead of me. I lost the momentum of my old blog, which still gets visitors every day and even the odd message. Now I have this new blog that I’m slowly introducing. It’s hard work launching a new blog, especially when the old spot was well-established. This is overall a nicer place to write, but it’s not quite broken in yet.

I’ll be honest. I was feeling kind of down about writing as recently as yesterday, wondering why I continue to do it when it causes so much drama and grief. Then I noticed I was getting a lot of hits on a post I wrote on my travel blog back in May 2018. A pizzeria in the German city of Ludwigsburg found a glowing review I wrote of their restaurant and shared it on their Facebook page. Then, very early this morning, my dogs woke me up and I checked Facebook. Yesterday’s post didn’t get any visitors at all, because I didn’t share it. But a friend read my post about Bill’s next grandchild and said she loved it. She described my writing as “refreshing” and “poignant”. Well… that got me in the feels, even if I realize my writing is definitely not always refreshing. Sometimes, I am a true wet blanket… and I overshare, especially when I’m angry, anxious, or depressed.

I read a blog post on a different site yesterday advising bloggers that they shouldn’t write when they’re angry. I can’t say I agree with that viewpoint. I think it depends on what your goal is. If you’re writing a blog for business purposes, then yes, I think it’s best to write when you’re not pissed off. But if you write for your own purposes– to share yourself and your thoughts, then I think writing when you’re angry can be an interesting thing to do, as long as you’re not committing libel or writing hate speech. It beats slashing tires, getting in fights, and driving drunk, right?

I need to write. I realize not everything I write is fun or interesting to read. Sometimes I do write some good stuff that gets people excited. I have many posts on my old blog that people come back to again and again. Some of those posts are positive or funny. A few posts got people upset, but generated good discussion. I’m pretty proud of those posts. The trouble is, sometimes people expect the same qualities every day. They don’t seem to understand that my writing is affected by my mood, and these posts are always off the cuff. That’s what a blog is for. It’s not a book or something that gets edited umpteen times before it’s published.

They’ll read something I’ve written when I’m angry or sad about something and stop “liking” me, or leave me a nasty comment. For instance, I think the mess with the former tenant was very telling in many ways. You see, I wrote many posts on my old blog– over 3200, I think. Most of them had nothing to do with the ex landlady or my husband’s ex wife. My old blog had posts about true crime, books, living in Germany and other places, and even old stories from my childhood or early marriage. Some posts were about nothing. Those posts were obviously not interesting to her. In fact, I doubt she read them. She focused on my venting posts and, apparently, came to the conclusion that I’m “unhinged”. Then she sent me a private message to complain, after having seen how I deal with people who complain about the contents of my blog. Here’s a big hint. Complaining about my blog is a waste of time. If you don’t enjoy it, just move on.

Same thing goes for “Wondering Why”, who complained about how “bitter”, “petty”, and “negative” I am. She read for a much shorter period of time and happened to catch a couple of posts I wrote about my husband’s former wife. They were prompted by conversations my husband had with his younger daughter, who was revealing some heavy and disturbing stuff, which was shared with me. “Wondering Why”, who clearly didn’t know the convoluted backstory, left me a chastising comment about my bad attitude and “negativity”, as well as “advice” on what and how I should write.

I usually respond to people like “Wondering Why” with an open letter and, in fact, that is what I did. I’m sure “former tenant” was also expecting an open letter when she wrote to me. In former tenant’s case, I determined that trying to explain or even just responding would not work. She had clearly taken a side and come to a conclusion about me. Also, I know that she’s very concerned about her privacy, so if I called her out on my blog, even though it really didn’t get that much traffic, she would probably not react well, and the drama would continue. So I did something that I think was ultimately a most “healthy” thing to do. I removed her from my audience.

It occurs to me that both of these readers probably meant well. They both reacted in very typical ways people act when they encounter someone whose opinions make them uncomfortable. How many times have we encountered someone who is upset and suggested that they, “Calm down!” Let me ask you this. Does it usually work when you suggest that someone should “calm down” when they’re emotional? Does it usually help when you advise them to “let it go”? It seems like the obvious thing to say, but in my experience, it usually pisses the upset person off even more. Even if that is ultimately the pathway to peace, they may not be ready to take that step.

Both “Wondering Why” and “former tenant” criticized me for airing my thoughts on my blog. I thought having a place to air my thoughts was the whole purpose of writing a personal blog. “Wondering Why” went as far as to tell me that I don’t need to share everything I’m thinking (duh). I’m guessing that she was herself someone’s first wife and my comments hit too close to home. She probably assumes my husband’s ex wife is a normal person. The fact is, she’s not. If she were, I certainly wouldn’t be writing about her. I wouldn’t need to. Normal people don’t unilaterally refuse to let the fathers of their children have relationships with their kids. It might be one thing if she only did it to one man, but she’s done it to two, and we have it on good authority that she treats number three pretty badly, too. Aside from that, since Ex falsely decided she was “done” having children, I didn’t even get to have children of my own. While I understand that I might not have had them anyway, it does feel like that choice was “taken” from me. Life isn’t fair… I get it. It still sucks. Mind if I vent about it on my personal blog?

It upsets me that my husband is only now rebuilding his relationship with his 25 year old daughter, when they should have had access to each other all along. It saddens me that when he sees her in person, it will have been about fifteen years since they last saw each other. But all I’m doing is writing about it. What’s wrong with that? This blog isn’t about anyone’s situation but mine!

I can’t explain the situation with the former tenant. She clearly has a good relationship with the ex landlady. I don’t know enough about her to know for certain why she has a good relationship and I don’t, although what I do know is that she’s much younger than I am, has young children, and is very attractive. When she lived in Germany, she had a job, which got her out of the house. That meant ex landlady could come over and check things out to her compulsive heart’s content without causing upset. Ex tenant didn’t stay as long as we did, and she befriended ex landlady’s daughter. By contrast, I never even met ex landlady’s daughter, don’t have kids ex landlady can play Oma to, and, perhaps most importantly, didn’t try to buddy up with the landlady. It’s not necessarily because I didn’t want to be friends. It’s more because we just didn’t click.

I also get the sense that maybe former tenant is very concerned about what people will think, whereas I am mostly less concerned about that. I think people who are overly concerned with image tend to be less authentic because they’re always concealing things. It might be because I’m a lot older than she is, or it may be because I have a very different personality. In any case, she seems to have come away with the idea that I’m the sole source of the whole problem. I will accept responsibility for being part of the problem, but I won’t take all the blame.

I don’t have girlfriends to gossip with, so I will write about this stuff. No one has to read it. She should have stopped reading it before complaining about my content. The first couple of times she complained, I edited for her. This last time, she forced me to take action. It felt like she was trying to censor me in my own space. I also really resented her condescending tone toward me. It was clear to me that she doesn’t take what I do seriously. She’s not the first person who hasn’t taken me seriously, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to continue to entertain that kind of disrespect on my space.

Now… if this makes me “unhinged”, “unhealthy”, “bitter”, “petty”, “angry”, “mean-spirited”, “bitchy”, “obsessive”, “snarky”, “condescending”, or “sarcastic” (all adjectives people have used to describe my persona on my former blog), alright… I can even own some of those adjectives. However, I’m also a basically nice person with interests, talents, and even a couple of loved ones. When I complain about people like Ex or former landlady, I do so with cause. I think most people would be upset if their spouse was denied access to children from another marriage. Most people would be angry if their former landlord withheld three quarters of their security deposit to upgrade their property, rather than to pay for actual damages. Like I said… better to vent about it than slash tires.

I am far away from my family and friends, and my culture… and I often feel like a lot of those people aren’t really in my life anymore and never will be again. I spend a whole lot of time alone, while, at the same time, not wanting to engage with anyone because so many of them end up not “clicking”. It takes a toll on my mood. Writing is one way I sort things out for myself. It’s basically a healthy thing to do, too, especially since it doesn’t involve drugs or violence. If my writing doesn’t do it for other people, I wish they’d simply move on, rather than try to dictate to me what my subject matter should be. I’m sure former tenant felt compelled to stick up for her friend. I can understand and respect that. But she had no right to act like a “minder”, imply that I’ve got “issues”, and try to censor my writing.

I realize that ultimately, moving the blog is probably for the best, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in mourning somewhat. This mourning comes at a time that would have already been difficult. I’ll get through it, but truthfully, being here sucks sometimes. It would suck much worse in other places, I know… but acknowledging that doesn’t change the situation much. I’m still going to be here all by myself for the next 16 days… two down already. See? I’m already looking on the bright side.

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