Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Time To Write

Le Sigh.

I do so wish I had more time to write. I've had an itch to write for months now - I don't have any particular subject in mind, I just long to have time to get pen to paper.

I've toyed with the idea of starting a new blog, one unrelated to narcissism. I have some story ideas bouncing around in my head but nothing even remotely concrete. There's just no time: Our house projects are numerous and all-consuming; school is coming to a close and I've been heavily involved in various pursuits to get my children the aids and services they need in school; and I go to bed with the kids these days to boot. Sometimes after I get the Littles snuggled into bed and we've completed our bedtime routine (teeth brushing, baths, reading - we're nearly finished with Book Six in the Harry Potter series), I sit in bed with a cup of tea and a book or my smart phone (and pinterest). And sure enough, 15 minutes in to my "do whatever I want" time, I generally fall asleep.

So, not much time for writing. But, I do have plans to turn one of our quirky unused rooms into a writing nook. So maybe once that project gets underway, I'll make the time to write again - even if it's at 3 A.M. (That's when I do all my best writing anyway.)

That's all for now!



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Move Along Little Doggy

I know, it's been a while. A lot has happened since I decided to stop blogging a few years ago - most of it good and exciting and I'm happy to say that, by and large, I don't have much to report that's all that bad. But something happened today that gave me an urge to write again - we had a slightly more than brief (but loaded) run-in with one of DH's FOO members.

But before I can get into that, first you'll need some background intel: We've recently moved. In fact, we've moved to a location that's near EFIL and L's residence, with full understanding that with the closer physical proximity, run-ins were possible. We are at the point in our lives and felt that DH was at the point on his mental and emotional journey that such proximity would not have any profound affect on us. We chose our new house based on a lot of priorities: EFIL and L did not factor in. Having said that, I suppose what happened today was not unexpected.

But lets back up a bit more for a second. During the summer of 2014 one of DH's step-siblings (on this blog, she's referred to as "Crabby") moved to our old town. Aside from seeing her a few times from a distance, this never posed an issue for us. But she is a real estate agent and when she moved to our (old) town, she was buying and selling houses in our area. So, fast-forward to 2016 when we put our house on the market and it would seem obvious that she very likely, at some point, found out that we were selling our house. We were aware that this was a possibility, but since we don't live our lives making choices out of fear of some repercussion from DH's FOO, obviously we went on with the business of selling our house.

After a few months, our house sold and we purchased our new house in a town where L is also a well-known real-estate agent. A few months after moving to our house, I happened to see L at a local grocery store. I don't know whether she saw me before I saw her, or vice versa, but as I continued shopping, at one point we crossed each other as we were both entering an aisle on opposite sides. I know she saw me, although she power-walked past me with blinders on, and I just smirked as she walked by, thinking to myself that it would have been pretty funny if she had tried to engage me in some way.

Add to all of this the fact that the agent representing the sellers of our new house left us a note that she "happened" to know another person sharing my husband's first and last name [EFIL], that L and ALL THREE OF HER ADULT CHILDREN ARE IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS, and we figure not only does DH's FOO know we moved, but it's likely they know our precise location.

So this evening, DH was working outside. I will not confirm whether he was working at our residence or the residence of a friend, acquaintance, or someone else, due to the fact that DH's FOO discovered our blogs several years ago, but it's safe to say that, when L's other daughter, Brainwashed drove by DH, she appeared to "assume" that DH lived at that residence. DH was loading up the back of a pick-up truck with yard waste when he heard three beeps and saw a red sports car drive past. He kept working and didn't think much of the commotion. A few seconds later, however, the red car drove by, this time on the opposite side of the road, and DH recognized Brainwashed as she called out her car window, "Hey, [DH's childhood nickname]! I thought that was you! I didn't know you lived in [town] now."

To this, DH responded, "I have an appointment to get to."

He said Brainwashed sort of sounded deflated as she said, "Oh." DH turned his back and kept working. A few seconds passed and Brainwashed tried again, "Sooo, are you good?"

DH said, "I'm busy."

Brainwashed muttered something unintelligible and drove away.

My thoughts: I find it very interesting that Brainwashed would "assume" DH lived at the residence outside of which he was working - why assume this if she didn't already have some information to back up such an assumption? Why wouldn't she assume, for example, since when we last spoke with her we lived at a different residence, that he did NOT live there and might be in town doing a favor for a friend or perhaps was being paid to do yard work at this house? (Brainwashed doesn't know this, but DH does, on occasion, work for my brother, who owns a landscaping business). Without some prior knowledge that we had moved, it's unlikely she would have assumed DH now lived elsewhere. I think her initial attempt to engage DH was not as "blind" as she would have had him believe. In fact, I think it was a superficial, yet contrived attempt to get information out of him. Perhaps she was hoping he would either confirm or deny the assumption, but I do believe she had prior knowledge of the fact that we no longer live at our previous residence.

It also seemed unlikely to me that after the last six+ years of NC, she could possibly be that ignorant to the reality of the situation, or that oblivious. She's not particularly bright, but I don't believe she's dimwitted enough for these attempts to engage to have been wholly genuine.  She approached DH as though he were someone she attended high school with, whom she hadn't seen since graduation. Her, "Heyyyyyyyyy, there you are, I forgot about you, how you doin'" approach to attempting to engage with DH screamed phony, even if she wasn't being exorbitantly malicious. She did not acknowledge this lack of contact for an extensive length of time. DH described his feeling that Brainwashed was playing dumb in order to engage him and that she fully expected him to fall in line and respond the way he would have in the past. He also thought she was probably disappointed that he wouldn't communicate on her terms and probably drove away calling him an "asshole" under her breath. [I assured DH he is not an asshole and that he managed a brilliantly smooth, warranted, and polite dismissal of her attempt to engage him.]

To me, the whole encounter speaks to the fact that Brainwashed and her siblings never had a meaningful relationship with DH, and never saw him as more than an outsider to which they occasionally had to fulfill some necessary obligation. Our absenteeism since we went NC with DH's parents, step-parents, and half-sister was no great shake-up or cause for concern in his step-siblings' lives. So, when she "happened" to see DH in the town where she and her FOO reside, and "stopped to chitchat" with a step-sibling that she conveniently (and perhaps actually) forgot about for the last six+ years, and "assumed" that he lived at the location where he happened to be doing some yardwork, I will "happen" to call her bluff.

I loved that DH shut her down. I love that he brushed her off. I love that he didn't answer her subtle questions. I love that he turned his back on her. On the off chance that she didn't get the picture before (in which case, she'd have to be stupider than I imagined), she definitely got it loud and clear now: Move along little doggy.

Monday, November 9, 2015


DH and I have been taking the kids hiking the past few weeks - there are some fantastic trails in our town and I've been itching to get out there and check them out. These trails are seriously some hidden gems that most of the townfolk don't seem to know about. We started hiking one set of trails in particular that are fast becoming a part of my top ten fave places to be. When walking them, it's kind of easy to feel like we're all lost in the wilderness, exploring the great outdoors, far away from the daily grind. And there are so many different paths to take - we've been doing this most evenings for the past two months, once the littles get out of school and we haven't hiked all the trails yet.

But, the point of this post is unfortunately not to discuss the merits of these family adventures - instead, I want to talk about an incident that occurred today just as we were finishing up our hike. I want to preface this story by first saying that what happened this evening won't deter us from hiking in the future, nor will it spoil the rest of my night. But since I'm still ruminating on it and I want to let it go and move on, I'm going to spill it here.

As we were finishing up our hike tonight, we came out from the trails by the clearing that leads back to the parking lot and we could see a huge Doberman Pinscher loping towards us. It was not leashed, and I recognized him, and his owners, from a hike we went on just a few days ago. This is the second time I saw him without a leash. For the record, I consider myself a dog person and I do like dogs. I am not, in general, afraid of them. But some dogs, especially large ones, can be very intimidating - even to adults who like dogs. This one intimidated me, and since we just had an incident with another large, unleashed dog a couple of days ago (on the same hiking trails) that involved DS, I was a little more sensitive to this than I might have been in the past. Though I was fairly certain this Doberman tonight meant us no harm and just wanted to check us out, I was very uncomfortable with the idea that he was coming closer. And he came awfully close.

And when DH and I expressed our feelings of discomfort, the couple - a man and a woman, (maybe in their sixties, though I didn't get a close look because I was too busy making sure my littles were all safe and accounted for during this exchange) immediately got defensive. The woman said, "He's okay. No, no, he's okay," when she heard DH attempting to herd the children closer to us and prevent them from bounding out into the open field until the dog was gone. (Like me, DH was thinking that the dog might chase the kids if they started running - obviously unacceptable even if the dog wasn't vicious). When I heard her say that in response to DH's concern that her dog might possibly be a safety issue for our children, I called out, "That dog needs to be on a leash." The lady repeated herself, "No! No! He's okay. It's okay, he's okay."

No. Not okay. It's not okay that this cunt's response to our concern for the safety of our children (because of HER pet) was to completely disregard it. It's not okay that she felt the leash laws in our state and our town that protect my family's right to demand that her dog be on a leash did not apply to her. It's not okay that she thinks it's acceptable to allow her very large and intimidating breed of dog to roam free where it could, however briefly, come in contact with other individuals who are not comfortable with that. It's not okay that she didn't take into consideration that some individuals are allergic to dogs and any form of contact with them could potentially be dangerous. It's not okay that, rather than invoke empathy towards myself and my children, she became almost instantly defensive, and it's not okay that she failed to ever take responsibility and acknowledge that her shitty choices effect other people. It's also not okay that she failed to accede to the many various reasons why leash laws are upheld in our state and our town - a few of which pertain to the safety and well-being of her own damn dog. It's not okay that they never once attempted to call the dog back to them or prevent him from approaching us. I said again, louder this time, "No. It's not okay. He needs to be on a leash."

All of this was being spoken loudly because DH and I were still, I don't know maybe forty feet away from the couple. The dog, at this point, was already closer to us than to his owners. After my second declaration that the dog needed to be on a leash, the man became very condescending and the woman pretty much just lost her shit. The man said something to the effect of, "As long as we have control of the dog, he doesn't have to be on a leash," to which I replied, "No, there are leash laws and all dogs in a public place need to be on a leash."

To that the woman said, "Well, I'm not leashing him." At this point, we all kind of started to converge on one another, as the couple with the dog were heading to their car, DH and the littles were passing them on their way to the field, and I was nearing our car, which was parked right next to theirs. The man said something that I couldn't hear and then followed up with this, directed at me: "Let me explain something to you, Honey," which immediately pissed me off. I replied, "Don't call me Honey" with the same kind of disgust I might have had if I'd stepped in some of his dog's poop. (DH told me afterwards that he responded to that comment, "Don't do that" and the woman's response was something like, "Oh no no, it was innocent, it was innocent" which I think was meant as a way to excuse her husband's comment towards me).

His wife didn't like my response, I guess, because after that she started dropping all kinds of F-Bombs and pretty vicious verbal attacks. She obviously wanted to get the last word in and it didn't seem to matter what I said, because she just kept at it, even though she was obviously preparing to leave. As she was walking to her car, she told me to "Shut the fuck up" and that she was "glad I wasn't her daughter." After the first, DH, sort of stunned, asked me what she had said and I told him she dropped the f-bomb on me. DH said, loudly, so the woman would hear, "Really? In front of the children? You have some nerve, lady."

When she told me she was glad I wasn't her daughter, I confirmed that the feeling was mutual. At least we had that in common. But other than our shared relief over not being biologically related to each other, I can't say we would have had much else to discuss that would have resulted in a pleasant outcome.

It was obvious that she has a seriously debilitating sense of entitlement and a total disregard for at least some societal and interpersonal boundaries. The last thing I remember the man saying was that he would "leave us alone" which I took to mean he actually wanted to back off and move on, even if his condescending tone was still present. If so, his efforts failed because his disgusting wife was totally running THAT show. She F-bombed her way to the car and into the car. Even as she closed her door, leaving her husband to round up the dog, she kept running her mouth - all of it directed at me. When I commented sarcastically to her husband, who had to call his dog to the car several times, that he "really had his dog under control," the woman said, "That's because he smells some shit."

In a matter of, what, three minutes, this woman f-bombed me several times, attempted to insult me on a very personal level, and essentially called me a piece of shit - all in front of my very young children, and all because I demanded that her dog be on a leash and her husband not speak to me in a condescending manner.

So now I'll tell it like it is: The shit that dog was smelling came from it's owners, not me. Anyone who thinks that their dog has more right to roam free than I and my family have to be and feel safe from that dog in a public space, is fucked in the head. Similarly, anyone who believes that they can break the rules because they claim ignorance to any given law, or who believes that they can break a given law because they are above it and it doesn't apply to them, is fucked in the head. Furthermore, anyone who can knowingly disregard laws that have been put in place so that situations such as the one illustrated above can be prevented, and then who dare to respond to their challengers in a way that is completely disproportional and irrational to the situation, are, you guessed it: fucked. in. the. head.

It would be remiss of me to say that this woman was crazy because, in spite of her completely irrational response to my declaration that her dog needed to be leashed, I don't actually think she was. When I say, "fucked in the head" I mean it in the most sane way possible. I think this woman was entirely sane. She's just a big dick. A big dick with a big dog.

I feel bad for the dog. No one should be forced into the company of people like them.

My kids asked questions about the situation, both during and after. It was difficult to answer their questions during the nonsense going on, but DH and I tried our best. DS asked me what the "ex-bomb" was, which I explained was a very nasty word. And while the dumbasses were still getting into their car and within clear sight and hearing-range, DD asked why "those people" were "being nasty and saying bad things." I told them, making sure to project my voice, that "unfortunately, some people are just very rude and nasty."

Then, DH took the kids to the field and I flipped the bird at the assholes as they backed out of their parking space. In hindsight, I REALLY wish I had turned and smiled at them as they drove off, as I think that would have irked them more than my one-fingered-solute likely did. I'm still working on that as a viable response to general asshole-ishness from people though - because I do think it's so much more effective as a defense technique. I have observed that assholes like that hate being laughed at. They hate it when their nastiness doesn't hurt the people they're aiming it at - so what better than to laugh in their faces while they are busy trying to pawn off their misery on the rest of the world?

The end.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nap Time

Greetings and Salutations, my beloved Blogger world!

I have a few blissfully quiet moments right now, while my babies are at school, napping, or otherwise quietly occupying themselves and I had a strong urge to write. Something. Anything. I thought maybe a blogging update was in order.

Our lives these days are contentedly hectic, as we settle into the Fall season (my favorite!) and I often find myself wishing I had just a little chunk of time somewhere in the day to write. Usually, the urge comes upon me after DH and I have gotten the kiddles all settled and in bed and I have finished up my chores (you know, the endless piles of dishes and dirty laundry that we never seem to get to the bottom of) but I'm generally too tired to do much of anything but fall into bed and maybe read a book or watch a movie on my Kindle. Last night, while watching the latest episode of Walking Dead, DH came home to find me with the Kindle laying across my chest, sprawled across the bed, sound asleep. I think he said he got home around 8:30. I'm usually that tired. And no, I didn't make it through the whole show.

I've had various school holiday parties to make treats for, and our own (new tradition!) Halloween party, as well as DD's sixth birthday party this past weekend. I also got hand-me-down clothes from a neighbor for my littles and bags of clothes for myself from a cousin, all of which had to be sorted, folded, washed, in some cases tried-on, and put away. My pile of laundry in the basement is still ridiculous. But then again, it always is. You wouldn't think tiny people could create so much extra laundry, but they do. Trust me, they do.

I've got so many things I want to write about, but again, so little time for writing these days. For now, I'll settle on jotting down a list of topics I WANT to write about, and maybe I'll try to set aside one night a week to write about them:

1. Our Fall walks, in which we jump in streams, drink tea from travel mugs, peep some leaves, and take ridiculous family pictures on our new selfie stick.
2. My dad being in the hospital, now in significantly improved condition in comparison to his condition just a few weeks ago.
3. The death of a loved one that I found out about a few weeks ago. (I started a post on this one when I found out but never had a moment to finish and publish it).
4. My thoughts on creating a new blog with a much "lighter" (in general) theme, in which I could talk about the daily goings-on of our family. I'm dying for an outlet to keep track of all the little moments of our days - things that I don't want to forget - so it would be a journal, of sorts. I did this for DH when he went on his foreign trip this past summer and I LOVED the results - I kept track of such tiny minutiae during the day for three weeks, which was tiresome but so, so awesome too. I think the kids will really appreciate it in the future.
5. I need a maid. And a personal chef. And a personal trainer. And can we throw in a butler for good measure? I'm not even sure what the point of a butler is, but it seems like one such character would complete the image. The only thing I don't need is a Nanny - if I had all these other people hanging around, I'd get to spend nearly every minute doing fantastic stuff with my littles. Ahhhh, a pipe dream.

Anywho, naptime is nearly over and I'm sure the littles will be popping their heads into the room any time now to ask about lunch or some other important thing.

Hopefully I can carve some time out in my schedule to get back to blogging again soon. I miss writing and I miss my blogging friends. I hope you guys are as fulfilled in your lives as I feel in mine and are enjoying the change of seasons.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

It's Been A Really Long Time

As I mentioned in my last post, DH received unwanted contact from a member of his NFOO during his recent three-week business trip. It came in the form of a voice mail message on his work phone from his Naunt on the date of his thirtieth birthday. I wrote about the last time she attempted to contact him in this post from October 2012 entitled Barrage of Bullshit. And if you'll allow me to do the math for you, that means the last time this shriveled up piece of festering dog snot tried to communicate with DH was 2 years, 9 months ago. This piece of communication also marks the first direct communication from DH's entire FOO since his NSIS's phony attempt at suicide in November 2012, EFIL and L's creepy Christmas cards (sent as an obvious "fuck-you" response to our own letter of NC to them just a few weeks prior) to our children in December of 2012, and the security breach both DH and I experienced on our blogs that same month. If you haven't been following my blog from the beginning, all the links I just provided give a pretty solid case history for our decision to go completely NC from every single member of DH's FOO (and all even remotely connected parties) that year. So the following transcribed message comes from Naunt 2 years, 9 months after her last personal attempted contact and 2 years, 7 months after attempted contact from any Narc or Flying Monkey. I feel the need to point out the length of time between attempts at direct contact from the Dark Side because such measurements of time illustrate well the idea that NC means something very different to both parties: the narcissistic abusers and the victims. In this case, the nearly three years between attempted contact has not changed DH's NFOO in even the slightest capacity, while DH on the other hand, has experienced lots of personal and emotional growth that is helping to further strengthen his desire to remain NC.

On June XX, 2015 at 5:35 PM, Naunt left the following message on DH's work voicemail:

[DH's childhood nickname]? It's your Auntie [Naunt]. I wanted to wish you a happy birthday. Me and [Naunt's daughter] are here, we were just thinking about you...Um...I hope you are doing and your family. And, we miss you. You can call us back at any time, at this number that we just called you from. This is [Naunt's daughter's] cell actually she wanted to call you and she was...nervous. So, I hope you're doing well [DH's childhood nickname]. It's been a really long time. Happy Birthday. Happy thirtieth birthday. Bye.

My thoughts on this bullshit-that-smells-identical-to-the-last-bullshit-birthday-correspondence from Naunt:

- Both DH and I agree that the likely motivation for Naunt calling from his cousin's cell phone was due to the fact that DH wouldn't recognize the number and therefore be more likely to pick it up, rather than because Naunt's daughter "wanted to make the call but was too nervous to do so," as Naunt stated. The logic in such a claim doesn't add up, and it's kind of funny that Naunt imagines either DH or myself stupid enough to overlook it. If you look at the message, she actually devotes about half of it to over-explaining why she called from her daughter's cell phone, as though such a detail would matter in a genuine happy-birthday message. In reality, it is irrelevant whether or not Naunt's daughter was "too nervous to call DH" and a grown-ass woman calling from her teenaged daughter's cell phone looks more like the act of a sneaky, creepy-ass stalker than a loving "Auntie."

- It is impossible to tell if there is a kernel of truth behind the claim that DH's cousin (who I believe is about sixteen now) was "thinking about DH" or "missing him." There may very well be some truth to that, although DH suggested that he had a hard time imagining that his young cousin (who was ten or so the last time we saw her and whom he had limited interaction with over the course of her life because of their more than fifteen-year age difference) spends a whole lot of time with such endeavors. Who knows if she was even aware that it was actually his birthday (let alone that it was his thirtieth birthday) without her NM pointing out such a fact, in order to orchestrate the "missing" she required from her daughter to partially legitimize the claim that DH is being "missed." What seems obvious to me though, is that Naunt is hiding her true motives for this attempt at contact behind either a partially legitimate or else completely illegitimate "desire" of her own child - an act that shamelessly manipulates and exploits that child while simultaneously sets up DH, once again, too look like the selfish, unfeeling asshole who can't be bothered to communicate with his "nervous" little cousin who "misses him" so much. And really, what person, being aware of these dynamics, would choose to accept these very limited and shitty options?

- I love that she points out how it's "been a really long time," as though we might not have noticed. And again, the notion of time so obviously means something different to her than it means to us. DH and I have spent the last nearly three years growing - in so many different ways. We both have grown emotionally and spiritually, both together and separately. We have evolved. Our family has grown and continues to grow. And the longer DH remains willingly NC, the longer it seems he wants to remain so and the more realizations he makes about where he came from and where he wants to go. Naunt, on the other hand, is still spouting the same bullshit that she spouted three years ago - the tune hasn't changed at all. Instead, I imagine that the idea of it "being a really long time" to her is indicative of perhaps the guilt she thinks he should be feeling over not being in contact with her or the rest of his FOO. I celebrate the two years and fucking nine months silence from this bitch. I imagine that, while she would have him believe she's fucking emotionally devastated without him in her life, she likely only devotes time to thinking about him and the "long time" that he's been out-of-contact with her, when verbally pointing out such a thing warrants some emotional reward on her account. The "it's been a really long time" line from her is really nothing more than a not-so-subtle attempt to pluck DH's guilt-strings, which is particularly funny at this point because that "really long time" of which Naunt refers has actually made those guilt-strings two years and nine months more difficult to pluck.

-This phone call came as no surprise to either one of us. Prior to DH's business trip, we discussed the possibility that he might get some form of contact from some member of his FOO because this birthday was particularly significant. Or at least, socially significant in a way that DH's FOO might decide to pay attention to it because ignoring DH's thirtieth birthday might reflect badly on them (and that's all they really care about anyway.) When DH called me from his office to tell me about the message, I laughed about it. I continually find it funny (in a pathetic sort of way) that such little effort has ever been made towards my husband from his FOO. Like the best they could do was have the piddly "Auntie" call him up to wish him a happy thirtieth birthday, as though she's even kind of significant enough to elicit a strong enough emotional response from DH to warrant breaking a nearly fucking three year NC streak.

- Keeping that last point in mind, I find it intriguing that they use certain "significant" events as a way to occasionally attempt to pull DH back into the fold, but not others. THIS particular birthday of DH's was a potential means of manipulation for Naunt (and whichever other narcissists knew about it or were made aware of it) not because of the significance it holds for DH, but because of the significance it holds for them. Many events have passed in the last (almost) three years that they knew to be particularly significant to DH (his wife's birthday, our wedding anniversary - the most recent of which was our fifth, his children's birthdays) that would only have been on their radar if they thought any of said events could have been used to manipulate him. But they've already tried using his children's birthdays to draw him back in. Those attempts failed. They have already either ignored my birthday to show how little I mean to them in spite of how much I mean to DH, or else sent me nasty messages to illustrate how much they despise me. Those attempts failed. And they have never, even once, acknowledged our wedding anniversary, as I think even NMIL would have a hard time faking happiness over THAT. But DH's thirtieth birthday was apparently uncharted territory. So, Naunt gave it a go.

- A genuine birthday message requires no call back from the recipient. The notion that DH "could" [read: should] call his Aunt back is an emotional demand that doesn't sit well in the context of what is being presented as a "simple" birthday greeting.

- Any correspondence to DH at work has always been and continues to be really super inappropriate, especially now, given the length of time he's been NC and the context of the situation we are in. Do these fuck-tards learn nothing? [Rhetorical question]. Note to all narcs: Sending him a fucking birthday card to his house, where his wife will probably get to it first, is a better tactic, you losers. And if you can't figure out why, than you are either stupider, or lazier than I had previously imagined.

- It is an absolute guarantee that Naunt knows she is part of DH's declaration of NC, as evidenced by her observation in a voice mail message (among other things) to DH in 2012 that she was "aware DH wanted nothing to do with [her or the rest of DH's FOO]." It is interesting that said observation has since been ignored time and time again, whenever it served her purposes (or NMIL's) to do so. I find it creepy that all of the events of the last five years can so easily be swept under the rug for the members of DH's FOO, enough so that even the most explicit evidence of DH's boundaries can be violated by them time and time again. Like, what about the fact that his sister's (however phony) attempted suicide wasn't enough to make him come back into the fold makes any of them think that an insincere piddly little birthday message from someone with less emotional power over him would make him come back into the fold? I don't get it. The only motivation I can see in this for Naunt is that she was somehow hoping she'd get some pat-on-the-back from NMIL if she managed to get some sort of response from DH out of her weak attempt at manipulating him as she would have been able to do in days of old.

So, for the next time that some narcissistic asshole cunt abuser from DH's past rolls around to check up on my blog, I'll say this: Yeah, it has been a long time. And we've been celebrating it. Every single second.

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

DH recently went on a three-week business trip, from which he returned home a few days ago. Prior to the trip, I wanted to write about it here but opted not to because it wasn't information I wanted to make my occasional narc-readers aware of. My original motivation for wanting to talk about the trip was that I thought it would be a great way to illustrate the ways in which healthy, loving families behave during emotionally stressful times. But, since a member of DH's NFOO attempted to contact him during his absence, I now have other motivating factors for writing about this recent trip as well. [I have decided to write about it in two separate posts: With this first concerning the sometimes surprisingly positive effects the trip had on DH and our FOC, and a second post to address the unwanted contact DH received from a member of his NFOO].

This was not a trip that DH volunteered for, and in fact, he attempted to have the travel directive waived until a time that might be more convenient for our family. But when it became obvious that he was fighting a losing battle and that he likely would end up being sent on a trip in the near future that would be even more inconvenient for our family, we both decided he should bite the bullet and just get the trip over with.  During his absence, he missed both DD's and DS's last days of school, our niece's birthday, father's day, and his own birthday. But, as I had wanted to point out when I originally thought about writing this post, I did my best to let him know that we were still thinking about him everyday here at home, that his physical absence was not evidence of an emotional one, and that we could still celebrate those special occasions with him even though he wasn't actually present for them.

We wrote each other lengthy daily emails, chronicling the details of our days: On my end, I jotted down notes during the day about interesting things that had happened, funny or thoughtful things that the kids had said or done, and various thoughts I'd had about any of the many and varied things I tend to think about on a daily basis. I took pictures of things that I wouldn't normally take pictures of - my (second batch!) of failed cucumber plants, our toothbrushes "hugging it out" in their jar by the sink, drawings that the kids had made during the day. I also took lots and lots of pictures of the kids (and some of me) and included those as well. I titled my daily emails, "Daddy Journal Day X" and introduced each email with a variation of the same line, "Greetings and Salutations from this, [our shared whatever], on this [Nth] day of June in the year 2015 on the [Nth] day of your extended absence." DH titled his daily emails "Travel Diary Day X" and he too included pictures and interesting notes of all the things he had seen and done on that given day. The best part about these emails was that they were spontaneous and neither of us had known that the other planned to do it. I actually hadn't thought up the idea to do a daily diary of sorts (though I had known we were mostly going to be in contact via email) until the first day of his absence. The time difference was such that we were on nearly-exact opposite schedules, which made talking on the phone very difficult (and damn near impossible during the first week, when he didn't have access to WIFI in the hotel and the apps we had purchased for our phones that relied on WIFI were useless).

DH sent his emails to me, my Mom, my Aunt, and my oldest brother (whom DH calls "Best Friend [Oldest Brother]") and we all responded to him. My oldest brother shared his fishing exploits with DH, my aunt shared news of her daily activities and Major League Baseball happenings, and my mother kept him up-to-date on the goings-on of the rest of the family. It was fun to wake up to an email from DH and a pleasant way to end my day by uploading the day's photos and share my stories and thoughts with DH.

Prior to DH leaving, my mother had suggested that we make some videos of DH for the kids, where he could talk to them, leave them messages, or read them stories. We loved the idea and it proved to be very valuable when it turned out that talking to them on the phone during his absence was next to impossible. We made the videos a few days before he left and I planned out which ones I would play on what days. In them, he talked about how many days were left until he could come home (to help the kids visualize this, we talk about time in terms of "how many sleeps" until an event arrives), he sang songs to them, he read them stories, or he talked about what the kids were going to be doing that day (one day, it was going to their cousin's birthday party; another day was talking about what kind of donuts they were going to eat for our weekly 'donut day.') Even though DH has been back for several days now, one of the kids still asks to watch these videos everyday.

I also arranged for their to be small "prizes" for a few of the days that DH would be gone - these were small gestures but meant to be thoughtful ways to show the kids that Daddy was thinking about them. One day, Daddy left them bouncy balls that light up when you hit them. One day, they got a bucket of sidewalk chalk. Other days, they got a package of Mentos candies to share, purple nail-polish (because purple is Daddy's favorite color), a new book (Harold and the Purple Crayon) to read along with Daddy in that day's video, and purple tic-tacs. All of these prizes were small but, I think, meaningful to the kids. It was a way to keep Daddy present in their lives, even though he couldn't actually be here with us. I also made each of them a calendar, with the days of his trip blocked in purple colored pencil, on which they could put a sticker each day so that they visualize how long he would be gone for and how many days (or "sleeps") were left until he would be home.

Unbeknownst to DH, I also created a package of "Open When" gifts and envelopes for him to open during his trip. I spent a lot of nights prior to his trip working on this, including games for him to play, pictures of us, funny jokes and anecdotes, and things to do if he got bored. I'm currently still toying with the idea of doing a post (maybe with pictures) of some of the envelopes and their contents. I definitely plan on making a scrapbook or a smashbook of DH's trip, containing entries pertaining to both DH's side of the journey, as well as mine and the kids. The trip, which was initially something I was completely dreading (and honestly, it was very challenging at times for what are probably very obvious reasons) ended up being something that, oddly and perhaps stereotypically - you know, all that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" crap - brought us closer together. I remember, sometime during the middle of his trip, pointing out to DH how much I appreciated his efforts to write me a daily email because I thought they were really an exercise (for him) in seeing the world in a way that he doesn't normally see it: He had to really open his eyes to the world around him and notice details that he normally would overlook, in order to offer me something from his end that would keep us emotionally connected and show me that he was capable of putting forth an attention to detail that would satisfy my needs even while we couldn't be together. I was impressed with his efforts and I told him so.

I mentioned before that DH "missed" both Father's Day and his own birthday during this recent trip, but I made it a personal goal of mine to let him know he was being celebrated and appreciated, even in his absence. Included in his "Open When" packages were envelopes specific to these two occasions - in his "Open When it's Father's Day" envelope, I included two cards (mostly because one was funny and one was serious and I couldn't pick just one). And in his four "Open When it's your birthday" envelopes, I included two cards - one each from me and from the kids - a "birthday boy" pin (because HaHaHa), scratch-and-sniff stickers that smell like birthday cake, and, my personal favorite - "portable hugs" from each of the kids. [Note: A portable hug is traced cut-outs of a person's hands attached together by a length of string]. For DH's part, he took a picture with all of his birthday goodies on, including his hugs, and sent it to me in that day's daily Travel Journal. And at home, as surprises for when he returned, my mom came over to watch the kids so I could clean out the inside of DH's (disturbingly filthy, hadn't-been-cleaned-since-it-was-MY-car) car, and the kids and I could wash and decorate the outside of it. The kids had a blast helping wash the car and decorating the windows with purple window paint, and it took us nearly half a Saturday to accomplish the project. They were, true to form, genuinely excited to help.

I can't take credit for the idea to decorate DH's car, (the initial idea was my mom's - inspiration struck when she found a pair of purple fuzzy dice, which she said she "saw immediately and knew exactly what to do with") but I can take credit for expanding on it (cleaning the inside of the car and including baskets inside, one containing useful items - all of them purple - he might want or need; and the other containing activities or objects specifically for the kids). But the whole endeavor was definitely a joint effort, with my mom spending more than half a day at my house to help me with the kids while I meticulously (probably obsessively) cleaned the car's interior, both of my parents picking up various purple items to "decorate" the newly-cleaned vehicle, and the kids pitching in to do their part in "making Daddy's car so beautiful" as a fun surprise when he got home.

I think DH also genuinely appreciated the "Welcome Home" sign that the kids and I colored for the front door, as well as the many purple balloons we blew up and "decorated" the house with to celebrate his long-awaited homecoming a few days ago. I will say that, though I sometimes felt like I was just barely maintaining my sanity while DH was gone, this was the first time I have felt so emotionally connected to him during an extended absence in the six years that we have been together. I see our personal connection to each other strengthening daily, as a direct result of the hard work he has been putting into his own journey of self-discovery and due to the difficult situations that we have chosen to face, fight, and deal with together. And, as a final note, there is something to be said for the fact that DH's personal achievements and emotional-growth directly correlates to the amount of time he has chosen to genuinely disconnect from his toxic FOO. Keep that last thought in mind as you read my next post about DH's recent contact from the Dark Side.