Monday, July 23, 2018

The clothes on her back...

When I first met Bill online, back in 1999, he was fresh from separating from his ex wife.  I never had the chance to see his first apartment, but he did describe it to me as a tiny, cheap, drafty place.  Ex had not allowed Bill to take much more than the clothes on his back.  For two years, he got by on about $600 a month.  He sent the rest to Ex, who apparently squandered it on junk.  Bill told me stories of her collections of "depression glass", Disney plates (which she claimed she could later sell and make a lot of money from eager collectors), and fake designer handbags.

By contrast, the first time I visited Bill's studio apartment, after he'd moved and over a year after his divorce was final, he still had maybe a bowl, a plate, a single set of silverware, a cheap futon bed and couch, and a wok.  I remember insisting that we take a trip to Target to get him some basic kitchen supplies.  We bought a cheap set of dishes.  Later, we realized why they were so cheap.  The dishes had a metallic band on them that made them unsuitable for microwaving.  We also got him a few baking dishes, some of which we still own seventeen years later.  I remember he had a futon for sleeping on (really more like a wooden crate with a mattress on it) and a futon couch.  I told Bill to take the mattress from the futon bed and put it on top of the couch, which folded out into a bed.  He was amazed at how much more comfortable it was.

Those old memories sprang forth again recently, when Bill was Skyping with his daughter and she told him her mother hoards things.  She talked about the piles of junk at home that Ex refuses to part with or even useful items that she won't give to her adult children, who could actually use them.  Apparently, when younger daughter asked if she could have a few plates to take with her to college, Ex said no.

It was a reminder of when Bill left home.  Ex wouldn't physically stop him, but she would make leaving as unpleasant, inconvenient, and uncomfortable as possible.  And then, when he refused to do her bidding and went back on active duty, Ex divorced him.  Then she blamed him for the divorce.

We're hearing history repeating itself as Ex's adult children move out.  Younger daughter showed up at college with nothing... not even sheets for her bed.  She had no money for books.  She had to ask for help from her church.  Fortunately, there were people who were willing to help her.

Yesterday, I was remembering how angry I was (and still am) at Ex and (to a lesser extent) her kids.  Still, as angry as I was at the time, if one of the kids had called and needed help, I would not have objected to helping them.  Because while my writings in this blog may make me seem hard-hearted and uncaring, the fact is, they were more based on my perception of what was happening than reality.  Underneath that facade of hatred the kids were showing toward Bill was the naked truth.  Those kids have been caught in a mini cult formed by their mother.  Leaving any cult is, by design, very difficult to do and Ex was determined to make it painful for them.  Part of her plan was alienating anyone else in the family who could help the kids get out on their own.

Younger daughter described being "browbeaten" into parroting whatever hateful things her mother said.  She was punished when she deviated from that path and started using her own mind.  When she broke away from the mini cult, she was pressured by two of the three siblings still at home to acquiesce.  Her mother pulled out all the stops to try to suck her back into the home, including attempting suicide.  It's not until one escapes such a situation that it becomes clear that it's better outside of the sick system.  Yes, you can not only live outside of the cult; you can thrive.  A lot of healthy people who are willing and able to help you if you just ask.

What used to be my anger towards my husband's younger daughter has turned into compassion.  I now realize that as long as there is breath in her mother's body, younger daughter will be subjected to Ex's attempts to control and manipulate.  When younger daughter decides to give her mother another chance, she will be disappointed.  Having a narcissistic mother is a study in constant disappointment and selfish behavior.  Younger daughter had to find her grandfather's phone number on the Internet because her mother wouldn't give it to her.  She looked up his name and started calling the numbers she found until she finally reached him.  It would take another five years and a tentative outreach from Bill before she would feel she could reconnect with her other parent.

Ex had no right to deny her children access to their family.  In fact, she is the one who chose them to be her two daughters' family.   I suspect, though, that she couldn't bear the idea that they might prefer us to her.  I mean, as much as it might suck to live with one's stepmother, at least I wouldn't have made her give up her bed to a supposedly needier church family or give up her Christmas money to buy diapers for her little sister.  

I must admit, there's some poetic justice in seeing Ex grow old and desperate.  I had a feeling this would eventually happen.  Kids eventually grow up.  If your whole existence and identity revolves around being a mother, you will eventually lose your reason for being.  While she will always be their mother, her role is now diminished and she can no longer exert the control she used to have on them.  It was inevitable, but I guess she wasn't ready for it.

Some people who visit this blog may wonder why I seem paranoid and call out people from "Mesa, Arizona" for lurking.  It's not just because I'm crazy or bitchy.  It's because my husband used to be married to a person who is capable of great destruction.  There have been plenty of times during our marriage that Ex has sprung nasty surprises on us.  I have reason to believe her situation is becoming desperate and I know she will stoop to great lows to achieve her sick goals.  While I would like to think she's incapable of murder, I have seen enough episodes of Snapped to know that it's not outside the realm of possibility that she could kill.  She's already supposedly attempted suicide.  Is it really that far of a stretch that her rage might cause her to lash out at other people?  I'd hope she isn't that desperate, but I have seen some incredibly low behavior from this woman.

Also... I know from researching narcissists that they typically employ "flying monkeys".  They dupe innocent people into doing their dirty work.  They usually accomplish this by telling them sad stories about someone who has done them wrong.  I recently watched an episode of Locked Up, and a guy was featured who had committed murder because his girlfriend had convinced him that the man he killed, apparently an ex boyfriend and the father of her child, was a child molester.  The inmate did not know the other guy personally, he was just himself a child abuse victim who had enough rage toward molesters that he was capable of killing.  His girlfriend had told him a sob story and he had believed her without checking the facts.  It turned out the guy he murdered was not a child abuser.  The girlfriend had simply wanted him out of her life so she wouldn't have to share custody of their child.  Now, she's out of the murderer's life and he's rotting in prison.  Read true crime stories and you will find that plenty of otherwise decent people wind up in prison because they were duped into doing someone else's dirty work.

I don't know that Ex would go as far as murder, but I have noticed she shares characteristics with the likes of convicted murderers like Jessica McCord.  My husband's daughters are now adults, so she can't use them to control him anymore.  Instead, I see she's now using her children against each other.  I had a feeling this would happen.  She is a master of triangulation, pitting two people against each other and serving as their main conduit of information.  She's already trying to do it with me and younger daughter.  I know Ex has read this blog-- or at least parts of it.  I know she has told her daughter about it and said there were "terrible things" written about her in the blog.

If younger daughter were to ask me, I would tell her the blog is open and she's free to read it for herself.  Yes, it's true that I was furious with her, her sister, and her brother for years.  I won't deny that or change my blogs to imply anything different.  The truth is, I was pissed as recently as last year.  I resented having these ghost adult children in the background, waiting to spring out at any moment.  I figured the initial confrontation, and I knew there would be a confrontation, would be unpleasant and cause upheaval.  After all these years of marriage and dealing with extreme parental alienation, I simply wanted them to go away and leave us alone.  But I was never closed to a respectful confrontation.  I just deduced that it would be disrespectful, based on past experiences.  Even if I can come off as a hardass sometimes, the truth is, I am a pretty sensitive person.  I do have empathy.

If I could have helped younger daughter when she went to college, I would have.  I would have expected and encouraged Bill to help her, too.  As long as the request for help is basically respectful, I have no problem with it.  We are now in a position at which we can help, and that has been true for years.  What I can't abide is able bodied adult children demanding and expecting help, especially on their own terms.  So far, younger daughter hasn't done that.

If younger daughter had called us when she was 18 and asked for sheets or book money or anything else, we would have done our best to help her.  It would have been our pleasure.  It's so sad that those kids have grown up believing that they didn't have what was right in front of them.

Those of you who have come late to the party and wonder why I'm picking on "Mesa, Arizona", it's because of someone in our lives that will always loom over us for as long as she's living.  I have no way of knowing if Mesa is one of Ex's "flying monkeys" or just someone who is extremely curious about my earliest posts and wants to read for hours without making a comment of some sort.  He or she is a complete stranger to me, so I don't know why my old blog posts are so interesting.  I'm pretty sure s/he has seen my call outs because the stalking behavior has changed somewhat.  It seems to me that someone who is innocent would simply leave a comment or go away completely.  But, much like tenacious wasps intent on infesting, s/he keeps coming back.  This person reads every single post and spends more time on posts about certain subjects than others.  That makes me suspicious.

If you've come here after finding me in an obvious place like Cruise Critic, Facebook, or RfM, you don't have to worry.  I look for very specific behavior before I get suspicious.  Mesa's behavior is suspicious, and happens to be occurring at a time when I expect threats from the Ex.  Let's face it.  I have a lot of time on my hands, but no time for stupid bullshit.  So I do pay attention to who's reading what and for how long, mainly out of self-preservation.  I wish I didn't have to be so vigilant, but I don't want to end up the victim on an episode of Snapped.


  1. Holy crap! I found my way in from Alexis and found her from Ward Gossip (which I miss to this day). Your explanation precludes me from having to go back in your archives which is good because I don't have that much time. Quite a story, though. I think there are a lot more people like Ex than we would like to admit. Stay a bit wary and safe.

    1. Yeah... it's a long, long story. A lot of it is painful to read. This is probably a pretty good synopsis... or maybe as much as anyone needs to know.


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