Ex, mental health, narcissists

This sentiment really resonates with me right now…

Last night, an online friend and I were chatting on Facebook instant messenger. We had started conversing on my Facebook page, offering our thoughts about the new abortion law in Texas. I had mentioned that I hate Donald Trump for his part in this… and for many other reasons. And yes, I know Trump didn’t act alone. He had a lot of help from Mitch McConnell and other MAGA asshats who just want to keep people trapped in poverty as they hypocritically lecture them about morals. But basically, Trump is the face of a lot of really horrible people who only care about themselves and everybody else can just go to Hell. That is basically the very essence of narcissism.

Yep… that’s about right. People with money will always be able to get abortions if they want or need them.

My friend had basically said that she doesn’t care about Trump enough to hate him. She sees him like she’d see a scorpion. It’s his nature to be cruel. He can’t help himself. So she doesn’t expend the energy to hate him. I, on the other hand, am not like that by nature. People irk me and I react to them more than I should. And before I knew it, our conversation had segued from Trump to Ex. I wrote:

I understand that mindset [of not caring enough about Trump to hate him]. I just can’t help myself. But there are people I dislike as much or more than Trump, like the Ex. Every time I try to feel compassion for her, remembering that she’s mentally ill, I am reminded that she stole from her own children, sexually abused my husband, and turns people close to her into her slaves. I just really hate narcissists.

I explained that I believe my husband’s ex wife is a narcissist. But I also think she is mentally ill. I’m not the only one. She has been diagnosed by professionals. But she’s also just a very manipulative, selfish, shitty person who has done real harm to others. Unfortunately, some good people are still struck in her sphere. There’s not much we can do for them until they help themselves. It’s an awful feeling to watch good people who are trapped, and haven’t figured out that they need to help themselves… or even that there are people who would gladly help them to help themselves. But, as they say, it is what it is.

My friend was skeptical that Ex is mentally ill. She asked me some questions about Ex, and why I believe that besides being a shitty person, she’s also got legitimate issues with mental illness. Some of it may be organic. Some may have been brought on by abuse and trauma. Some may be because she’s just a nasty person. I explained that I believe a person can be mentally ill, and they can also simply be mean. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive.

Then I PM’d my friend with some sensitive information that clarified things a bit. I didn’t go into specifics of what happened, because the specifics don’t matter. What mattered was that a few years ago, I might have simply excused Ex for being “sick” with mental illness. I can’t excuse her anymore, though, because she has done some things that are just beyond the pale and, I know they aren’t due to mental illness. In fact, she often uses mental illness as a crutch, excusing herself for being a shitty person. I didn’t find out about the personal stuff until a few years ago. When I did find out about what happened, I was absolutely livid. It forever changed my opinion about Ex– not that it was ever very high– and made me conclude that she’s plainly damaged beyond repair.

More wisdom.

The conversation with my friend continued, and she eventually took my word that Ex is probably both mentally ill, and a terrible person. But she’s not as bad as she could have been. Believe me, I have realized that she could have done more to make our lives hell. She’s no longer a threat to me personally, but she’s still a threat to Bill’s daughters and the family members who aren’t clued in to what kind of a person she is.

Personally, I am at a point at which I don’t really care much about Ex. I might feel about her the way my friend feels about Donald Trump. I might see her as a reptile who just hurts people because it’s in her nature to do that. But then Bill talks to his daughter, who isn’t quite ready to go no contact. If she goes no contact, there’s a good chance she will pay a dear price. She may lose contact with other family members, for instance. So Ex remains a topic of conversation, even though personally, I could probably move on from caring or talking about her at all.

And then, I noticed something posted by another friend. I don’t know this friend as well… but what I do know is that she’s been going through something with a narcissist. She’s been posting nothing but quotes about narcissism lately. I mostly don’t notice her posts, because I’m not big on posting quotes and memes without explaining the context. But every once in awhile, she posts a gem. Last night, she posted the below image.

This sentiment really resonates with me right now.

For most of my life, I have been trained to tolerate dysfunction. I’ve been conditioned to ignore bad behavior and be “nice” at all costs, so as not to upset the apple cart. I’m not as good at ignoring bad behavior as some people are. I do have a bit of a temper, and I will lose it when people go too far. Sometimes, when I feel like I can’t be assertive, I’ll be passive aggressive, which isn’t a good solution. But, for the most part, I do try to avoid conflict, and sometimes I give people too much power. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and will sometimes excuse them when they shouldn’t be excused. Or, I simply put up with bad stuff from people when I should let it, and them, go.

We’re living in some incredible times. The past five years have been awesomely hard for many people. Bill and I have been mostly fortunate, mostly because we haven’t been living in the United States. But we have been watching the turmoil from afar, and that has been very stressful and worrisome. I’ve found that living in Germany has given me some empathy for people who have come to America from countries where there’s a lot of strife. Bill and I are not in Germany illegally, but it’s still not our home. We love living over here, and we’re not in a hurry to leave. But we still have friends and family who are dealing with the strife as we look on from abroad.

Living in another country has its challenges, although things are pretty good for us. I’m not stupid enough to compare the United States with Afghanistan or El Salvador or Syria or Honduras… or any other place where things are just horrifying. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is plenty horrifying, though… and it takes energy to process it and what it might mean for the future. Why should I let some low level idiot who is up to no good upset me? Especially when there really are much bigger fish to fry? They don’t care about me. Why should I care about them?

I don’t have the energy or stamina to put up with people who deliberately cause chaos, especially if I don’t have an investment in them, and especially when the chaos is over something really petty or insignificant. At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot invested in most other people. It’s probably because I do live in another country. I haven’t seen most of my family since 2014. I haven’t seen friends in that long, either. The ones I’ve made in Germany, by and large, aren’t real friends. They are friendly for a short amount of time, then disappear. So why should I tolerate any disrespect from them? Why should I let them upset me?

Of course, it’s probably in my nature to get upset. Just like I can’t see Donald Trump as a mere scorpion, I can’t help but be irritated by people who go out of their way to be manipulative, disrespectful, or just plain mean. I react more than I should, but lately, I’ve been trying to learn to let things go. I’ve been making a concerted effort not to get into it with people… especially people I don’t know. People who don’t care at all about me aren’t worth the tears. Peace is important, and I am as entitled to it as anyone is. So, instead of addressing stuff that I know will turn into something dramatic, I just quietly take out the trash.

As I was telling my friend last night, there are some people in the world that want to deny you your vote. Yes, some people literally want to deny you your vote in political matters, but I’m also talking about your vote in interpersonal situations. Like, for instance, when Ex unilaterally decided to have Christmas at my in-laws’ house, and demanded that I show up there for two days of hell during the biggest holiday of the year. She never asked me what I thought of the plan. I was simply expected to show up and shut up, forfeiting my right to enjoy Christmas.

Well… I realized then that I had a vote. I had a right to vote “no” to her Christmas plan, and stay home. Yes, there was a price to be paid for voting that way. She decided to punish everybody else for my choice. On the other hand, those people– most of whom were adults– almost chose to accept her “punishment” and disrespect. What they really should have done was tell her to fuck off and kick her out of their lives. It’s hard to do that when kids are involved… I know that. But, even in that situation, there were choices that could have been made. Bill had the right to take the Ex to court, for instance. Or, the in-laws could have told her and #3 to get a hotel room. Or they could have refused to host her little drama altogether. In some way, they could have REFUSED to tolerate her bullshit and just plain not shown up or stuck around for it.

I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to me. As I have said before, I think the universe often gives us multiple chances to learn valuable lessons. This is one of those times. I got a lesson last week, as a matter of fact.

Last week, I got involved in some petty dramas that upset me quite a bit more than they should have. I was upset and frustrated, when I should have been enjoying the Black Forest, which was genuinely beautiful. The people who were causing the strife weren’t people I’m close to or care about. I was simply indulging them and giving them a lot more air time than they deserved. I’ve done that for too many people… Ex included. The vast majority of people are simply not worth the consideration.

I don’t like blocking, unfriending, or even unfollowing people… and I mostly don’t like it when people do that to me (although there are times when it was actually a mutual decision… they just acted first). But– I realize we all have our limits, and X amount of energy. The older you get, the more you realize that time and energy are precious. So it makes sense to spend those valuable commodities on people and issues that truly deserve them.

People like “Dick”, the wine group saboteur, Ex, Trump, and any number of other people with whom I can’t reasonably collaborate or cooperate, simply aren’t worth my time, energy, or attention. They don’t appreciate the sacrifice. And so, today I’m going to try to make a concentrated effort to kick those people out of my life as much as possible. I already feel a lot better having dumped a few of those folks… kind of like I did this morning, purging yesterday’s shit from my system.

And now… Noyzi and Arran are telling me it’s time for a walk. So I’m off to blow off some steam. Hope you have a good Friday… and as my friend Wilbur sings, “Don’t let life chew the sweet out of you.”

“Itty bitty problems” aren’t worth the stress. This song is non-sensical, but it makes me laugh.

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obits

Touched by a stranger… who is now an angel.

I so often write about people whose comments irritate and annoy me in some way. Today, I’m going to do the opposite.

I frequent a forum called Toytown Germany (TT). It’s a place for English speakers in Germany (or even just people with an interest in Germany) to hang out. I joined that forum in 2008, when we were living in Germany the first time, but before I was on Facebook. I’ve always found it a useful place to find information about living in Germany that isn’t military-centric. I also find a lot of the people there interesting, since they come from all over the world and walks of life. It’s not unlike the Recovery from Mormonism board, which I also sometimes frequent, only there’s a lot less talk of religion, which suits me fine.

A few years ago, someone on Toytown Germany started a thread entitled “What Made You Cry Today?” At this writing, the thread had swelled to 135 replies. I just added one myself this morning. Last night, I happened to glance at the thread, having not read it from the beginning. I noticed someone calling themselves manly386 responding to a call out from another poster. This was what he wrote:

  On 4/9/2020, 3:02:19,  Acton said: 

Wow! What a sad thread.

For Manly386, who says he has only 5 months to live, this must be truly awful. Could you tell us something about yourself? I see you live in Vancouver. How did you latch on to this TT site? I’m sure we could all chip in to try and give some positive support.

Hi Acton:  I’ve nothing to complain about.  Lived a charmed life, blessed with loving parents, a loving girlfriend (to become my wife later), good health and a body that seemed to accept all the abuse I could heap upon it and come back in fighting form. A Policeman for 32 years, both in the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department.  on the side I dabbled in real estate and the stock market.  during those times 70″s 80’s and 90’s,  everything seemed to go up, couldn’t help but make money. By the 2000s I retired and got out of the market that’s when everything tanked. but I was okay.  We had a son, Warren,  who had pulmonary atresia, and died at 7.  8 was his favourite number, he could speak it in several languages.  He died nov. 28, at 8:00pm in 1988.  He was seven and a bit.  I counted up the months he lived,… it was 88 months.  go figure.

I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. Probly because I was too chicken to have an annual colnonoscopy. Have Your Colonoscopy ! !

The cancer spread and now its in my bones, lungs, liver lymph, and I’ve developed colono-rectal cancer.

My Dr. whom I trust absolutely told me  “Dave there’s nothing more we can do, if all goes well you have about 5 months to live,  you have absolutely no immunity to anything, the chemo took care of that.”  No visitors, no going out for walks etc etc. Fortunately I have a very caring wife, she does everything she used to do and all the stuff I used to do, frustrates the hell out of me ’cause I loved helping out.  ah well, such is life.  I have no complaints, I don’t feel cheated, I’m 75 and enjoyed my life.

I found TT by snooping around on my computer.  That encouraged me to travel, I never had before, too busy.  I chose to backpack through Austria, Switzerland and Germany.   Bavaria was my favourite, The people were very warm and helpful.  went to my first curry night in Munich.  Didn’t know anyone but had a good time.  Ive been to Germany three times since 2000 and three curry nights.  Slept in train stations, rode the trains and busses, slept in hostels and absolutely enjoyed myself. It took me out of my Policeman’s Hard Shell and turned me back into a human.

I loved hunting, fishing camping and hiking.  Playing with my son and being a family man.  I truly was a fortunate man. 

Dave the Barbarian

ps  I’d love to make it to 100 “greenies” before the end !

Dave

“Greenies”– I think he was referring to the system of “likes” on the TT forum. At this writing, he has 39 on that post.

I decided to read his initial post, which prompted the call out:

What made me cry today?  My oncologist, a man I love and trust advised me that the chemo treatments were not working and there were no further meds available.  He’s given me 5 months at best.  I cry for my wife, the good woman that has stood by my side for 54 years.  Apparently I must leave her soon,  We lost our only son, and now she is losing me.  She is so trusting and good she is easily taken advantage of.  I fear for her.   These are chaotic times and so much is happening at once.  Despite my pretense of being a Barbarian living in a tent, that was me only in hunting season.  We are more than extremely well off financially and I’m trying to teach her there are sharks that will eat her alive.  A police officer for 32 years,  I was trained to protect,  now I won’t even be able to protect the one I love most. Christ, the world is both so beautiful and cruel at the same time. 

To all of you younger people in TT.  Shakespeare had it right,  “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”,  don’t go crazy,  but enjoy the world while you are able to,  It’s a beautiful place. 

Dave the Barbarian.  

Since the post was from about a year ago, and Dave said he had about five months, at best, I went looking to see if he had been around TT recently. I saw that his last visit was on July 19, 2020. This morning, I Googled his name and city to see if there was an obituary. Sure enough, I found one, complete with photos. His last visit to the TT forum was a week before he died.

I can see that Dave had many loved ones, family members, colleagues, and friends who are missing him. I never knew the man or even heard of him until last night, and yet I regret that I never had the chance to interact with him, even if it was just on a Toytown Germany forum. He must have been a special person, indeed. He was definitely wise. Reminds me a little of my Bill, who is downstairs making breakfast as I write this.

I hope his wife, Lucy, is doing okay.

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psychology

The wrong idea…

I saw the above photo this morning and decided I had to add it to my personal collection. There’s so much truth in it, especially for me. My whole life, I’ve been called “weird”, even by supposed loved ones. I suspect I have this problem because I have an outspoken personality and a rather well-developed vocabulary… (in English, anyway). Many people tend to chafe at anyone who doesn’t go along with the crowd. I don’t like hanging out in groups, nor do I enjoy having queen bee types trying to tell me what to do. I like having good friends, but I prefer to see them one on one or in small groups. I also have a very unique laugh that annoys some people. I can’t help it. It’s the laugh God gave me. It’s loud and distinctive and I’ve caught shit my whole life for it. Other people find it “infectious”. I like ribald, inappropriate humor. Bring on the fart jokes and oversharing. I’m all over it.

For many years, I tried to be more like the way other people said I should be. I can remember agonizing in grade school and high school, trying not to say or do such “weird”, offbeat things and trying to tone down my raucous laugh. Nothing worked, and I became really depressed because I didn’t think I’d ever find a tribe who accepted me for who I am. I also figured I’d wind up an old maid, since I didn’t have a lot of dates. But stifling my true self led to self-loathing and destructive habits. After years of trying to fit my square self into a round hole, I decided I needed to simply be the most authentic version of who I am.

The lovely thing about getting older is realizing that you’re never going to please everyone. Someone will always find something to dislike about you. Fortunately, in most cases, just as many people will find something to love. I have a number of wonderful friends, and even a few family members, who think I’m just great. My husband, who is himself one of those people who works hard at being liked, has told me more than once that he admires my ability to express myself. I have helped teach him that being “liked” isn’t always the best thing, especially when it causes you to compromise your own values. It’s still hard for him to stand up for himself, but he’s now better able to do it than he used to be. He’s told me that it’s partly because he sees that not being liked isn’t the end of the world, because in most cases, for every one person who dislikes you, there’s another who will get everything you are and love you for it.

I have a friend who is struggling with some life choices right now. She’s around my age and has decided to go back to school for a master’s degree. She’s been in other master’s programs and has never been able to finish, mainly due to the programs not being a good fit for her. Still, she has the drive to keep trying and one day succeed. Recently, she announced her decision to get a master’s degree in social work. I piped up to tell her that I have a MSW myself. I don’t use it, or either of my other two degrees, in a professional manner. However, I can’t say that I regret any of the degrees I’ve earned, especially now that they’re paid for. Each educational experience was worthwhile and each one left me with new skills and knowledge. I do use the skills and knowledge, just not in the manner in which I expected.

I told my friend that she’ll find that the emphasis in social work is encouraging clients toward achieving self-determination and adapting situations to work for specific clients. I encouraged her to look at herself as her very first client. The first step is to ignore the naysayers and do what works best for her situation. Social work is going to require a lot of hands on work, paper writing, group work, and hours. My program, had I not done a dual degree with public health, was 60 hours. With the public health degree, it was 81 hours. I actually completed 90 hours– 84 for the graduate degrees and two undergrad prerequisite classes. I took an extra graduate class because I was interested in the topic and thought it would be useful. It might have been, if my life had gone the way I planned it once I determined that I was an old maid. But then, it turned out I wasn’t an old maid, and I got swept into the globetrotting Army wife lifestyle. So now, here I sit, writing these sage words for those who care to read them.

There is more than one way to get through life. What works for one person doesn’t always work for the next. Each person is cut out for different things. You can’t control what people will say or think about you, so it does no good to worry too much about it. People have their own reasons for thinking and feeling the way they do, and you’ll never fully be able to know or understand the vast majority of those reasons. I’m sure that my personality triggers people positively and negatively, because I’m not particularly laid back and I tend to say exactly what I think. If I don’t say it verbally, it usually comes out on my face. I have very expressive eyes and facial expressions that often do my talking for me. That’s why I tend to be verbally direct. The eyes don’t lie.

If I don’t say something out loud, I’ll often write it. People read what I write and some people connect to it. Other people get angry or offended and try to silence me. I’ve gotten plenty of negative feedback on posts I write on my blogs. It always surprises me how upset people can get when another person dares to express themselves, even on something like a blog post. It’s like they can’t fathom how or why someone might want to write something down. They can’t seem to understand why I would write something so upsetting to them, seeming to forget that I don’t even know the vast majority of the people who read my words, and they don’t know me. I have no idea what most people’s personal situations are, or what will trigger them. Most of what I write isn’t for other people anyway. It’s for me. Moreover, while this is mostly a public blog, it’s still my space. Anyone who reads this has come into my space, the same way they might visit another person’s home. Everyone is free to leave my home anytime they want to.

I can be funny and entertaining for some people, yet others have told me I rub them the wrong way. I find that it’s usually “leaders” and controlling types who don’t like me, because I’m not much of a follower. I don’t take orders well, particularly if I sense that the person doing the ordering is not worthy of being followed. I do best when I work independently and am allowed to be creative.

I haven’t seen my friend in person in many years. We knew each other in high school and are now connected only on Facebook. She’s always struck me as smart, talented, caring and kind. While there’s a pragmatic side of me that would worry about trying so many different academic programs, there’s another side that thinks about how short life is… and how there are only so many opportunities to try new things. People are going to say whatever. They’re going to think what they’re going to think. It’s her life… and this is my life. When it comes down to it, deep down, most people know what’s in their hearts and what they can do.

There’s so much truth in this. The older I get, the more I realize that other people’s opinions, especially about me and what I do, are none of my business… because they are mostly formed by things that have nothing at all to do with me.

While I wish I were still as young, healthy, and pretty as I used to be– even though my love life is much better in my 40s– I would not want to relive any part of my life. Wisdom is a good thing. So is the ability to tell other people to fuck off without fearing repercussions. In my case, telling people to fuck off happens verbally or non-verbally. I can’t help it. But I really am a nice person deep down… I have a big heart and a great capacity for compassion. If people want to think I’m more of a bird flipping lion, that’s on them. Sometimes being thought of in that way is also advantageous.

Those are my deep thoughts for today. Now it’s time to watch Bill brew his latest homebrew.

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