Monday, January 30, 2012

So They Send To Me

Their hatred of me
outweighs any love
they might have felt
for their son

So they send to me daggers

Their weakness
slips through
in the words
they've left unsaid

So they send to me threats

Their pettiness
is apparent
with this pathetic
power-play

So they send to me blame

Their hypocrisy
bleeds red
when they tout themselves
as Christian

So they send to me evil

Their cruelty
becomes obvious now
that they've chosen
to stop pretending

So they send to me poison

Friday, January 27, 2012

Treasure Trove

I remembered recently that during the time that we were still allowing NMIL contact with us, I had forwarded some of her email correspondence to my mother. In most cases, I already knew how I wanted to respond or what our course of action was going to be in regards to NMIL, but it was nice to know that I had my mom's level-headed thinking as a back-up plan whenever I needed advice. DH was aware that I was sharing these emails with my mom and most of the time, even joined in the discussion. There were many times when we'd get an email from his NM, and we'd talk about it and then look at each other and say, "Okay, now let's call Mama Jonsi and Papa Jonsi and talk to them about it." It always made me feel better. And DH often said it made him feel better too.

Having said that, I asked my mom if I could go into her account and see if those old emails were still archived somewhere. I was really excited to find a few of them because I've always felt like my story is not complete without some of the superficial emails I've referred to at times. I was just as excited to find the old email from L a couple weeks ago because it just felt good putting those puzzle pieces in place.

I would like to share these with you, Dear Reader, not because they are particularly blatant in their demonstration of Narcissism, but because I'm truly devoted to showing you every bit of evidence I can. None of these emails from NMIL represents any sort of covert nastiness or manipulation. But there are a few subtleties that I'd like to point out. In particular, I find that the timing of each email is perhaps most indicative of NMIL's superficial and inappropriate communications with us. Most importantly, they are further proof that she has never engaged in self-reflection regarding her relationship with us and it's inevitable downfall. She can continue to have hopes that someday, she'll see us again. But as long as she maintains the facade, as long as she denies our requirement that she take ample time to self-reflect in order to accurately assess her role in this estrangement and in her life-long abuse of my husband, and as long as she refuses to change, she'll just keep hoping without us.

I must also point out, because you might notice that many of these emails were sent to both DH and I (Gasp! Shocking!), that her inclusion of me as a recipient of these select few emails to follow, was the ONLY aspect of DH's written declaration of needs that she ever even remotely attempted to fulfill. And literally, the few emails I will share with you here are evidence of all the effort she was willing to put in towards that end.

Here we go, in chronological order from oldest to newest:

Remember the email I've referred to from 2010 in which NMIL's brief mention of my birthday was the only acknowledgement she gave? Behold, NMIL's email and my response. (DH had had to forward it to me because she had only sent it to him. I took the liberty of responding because it was exactly what she was hoping wouldn't happen).

From: NMIL
To: DH
Subject: Happy Birthday Jonsi...
Sent: January 31, 2010 @ 4:37 PM


Hi DH and Jonsi –

Hope everything is going well with the house – you must be moving today. Did you get my VM DH? Me and NSIL left you a message.

Wanted to wish Jonsi a happy birthday and let you know we are thinking of all of you. How is Miss DD doing?

Love,

Ma/NMIL's First Name/Gram


From: Jonsi
To: NMIL
CC: DH
Subject: Re: Happy Birthday Jonsi...
Sent: February 1, 2010 @ 8:05 AM


Hi NMIL,

Thank you for the birthday wishes.

Yes, we moved this weekend and we've had a ton of help from family and friends so things are moving along.

Everyone is doing well - DD is 3 months old and she is healthy and happy and loving our new home.

Jonsi and DH


I left no room for a response from her because I didn't want one. I made mention of all the help we had gotten from our family and friends on the move to show her that we were well aware of her CHOICE to not be involved in the important events in our lives. It was my not-so-subtle hint to her that I knew she was neither interested in our special moments, nor happy for us because of them. It was a hint that we saw through her constant and obvious superficiality in regards to my well-being. Where she wanted to work as little as possible at proving her "love" for us and for me, I wanted to show her that we were not fooled by the facade, nor impressed by it. I slapped her in the face with the message: We get all the attention and help we need from the people who REALLY love us. She got the hint, Dear Reader. After I found this email, I remembered that, in a phone call she made to DH shortly after she received my response, she told him that she felt "Jonsi was being mean when she said how much help she got from everyone" when we moved. Sometime later, either during the course of that conversation or during a subsequent one, she offered us her old, used, and broken washing machine "just in case we needed it."

I saw through those manipulation attempts too. It's too bad she saw my truth-ringing as an attack. It's too bad she tried to make my husband feel guilty for it. And it's too bad she tried to offer us her busted up washing machine as a way to try and win my husband back after I clearly "brainwashed" him into thinking she didn't care about us at all.

The subtleties? We all know that NMIL's email was not about my birthday. She used my birthday, just like she has used my husband's, as a means to contact DH and get some Narcissistic Supply. Her email was also not about our exciting move into our first house, nor was it about our DD (whom she only ever inquired about in infrequent emails and occasional phone calls to my husband. She knew as little about DD as she did about me, and never made any real effort into getting to know her more than that). In this case, she merely wanted to feign interest in a day that she knew was important to us (purchasing our first house and moving in) because for so long, "feigning interest" was all it took to convince her well-trained son that she cared.

Her birthday wishes to me proved only that she didn't care at all about her son's future wife. And that part is harder to prove, although it's not impossible. Most people would say, "But isn't it good that she wished you a happy birthday at all? Isn't that acknowledgement? Aren't you being greedy to expect more?" My answer to those questions would be: No, Barely, and Not at all. Because THIS is what it should look like: No matter how a mother feels about the love of her son's life, it is still crucial that she put forth effort, which means thought and time, towards acknowledging, accepting, and being kind to that person. I would expect this of myself, I would expect this of my own mother, I would expect this of a stranger on the street. What should her acknowledgment of my birthday have looked like? It could have been as simple as a heartfelt birthday card or as extravagant as a dinner featuring my favorite home-cooked meal. It could have been a small gift, or a large one. It could have been an email sent directly to me or a gift-card to my favorite store. Even if she didn't know me well enough to purchase the right gift or bake the right cake, a mother-in-law who appreciated me and the love I so obviously have for her son would have done just fine in how she chose to acknowledge my special day. A mother-in-law with a genuine interest in my well-being and who cared about the happiness of others (particularly of those who are important to those she claims are important to her) wouldn't have had to do anything more difficult to acknowledge me than spending the time to craft a thoughtful message.

But we all know how NMIL really feels about me. Thus, the most superficial email she could have possibly sent. Choosing not to acknowledge my birthday at all would have amounted to the same message.
_____________________________________________

From: NMIL
To: Mama Jonsi
Subject: Jonsi's Bridal Shower...
Sent: February 28, 2010 @ 8:52 PM


Hi Mama Jonsi,

NSIL and I just got the invitations this evening and we look forward to attending Jonsi’s shower on March 21st.

I would be happy to bring something – perhaps an appetizer?

See you soon,

NMIL


From: Mama Jonsi
To: NMIL
Subject: Re: Jonsi's Bridal Shower...
Sent: March 1, 2010 @ 9:27 AM


Hi NMIL,

An appetizer would be great.

See you in March.

Mama Jonsi


There isn't a whole lot to say here, Dear Reader, except for this: LIES! We all know NMIL wasn't happy to attend anything regarding celebrations for Yours Truly. I'm not saying I would have expected to tell her the truth, even a person lacking all manners probably wouldn't have done that, but I will say that my mom was not fooled by NMIL's "enthusiasm" any more than I was. I also find it funny that NMIL did nothing for my wedding shower, save for bring a small dish of her "famous guacamole dip" for an appetizer...a course my mother didn't bother to tell her wasn't being served at the event.

And can I just say...I haven't added the elipses on any of these subject lines. That was all NMIL. It makes me laugh. It's like, even her subject lines can't escape the drama!
_____________________________________________

From: Jonsi
To: NMIL, Naunt, L, (my mother), (my aunt), (my best friend), DA, OG1, OG1's fiance, NSIL
CC: DH
Subject: Wedding Pictures
Sent: April 25, 2010 @ 4:33 PM


Hello,

DH and I would like to thank everyone who took pictures the day of our wedding! I'm sure everyone will enjoy looking back at them in years to come and remember how much fun our wedding was. Having said that, we would like to respectfully request that there be no pictures of either DH or I posted on any public website (such as Facebook, Myspace, Flicker, or Shutterfly), in order to protect our privacy.

Thank you kindly,

Jonsi and DH


The message of this email is obvious. I sent an immediate follow-up email to my mom, aunt, and best friend, informing them that the email was not directed at them and that they could disregard it. I would never have to ask my friends and family to protect my privacy - that's not a boundary they would ever cross, intentionally or not.

No one from DH's side responded or acknowledged the request. And when DH called his mother (who was my main target out of all of the recipients) to make sure she got the message, she was openly hostile and aggressive towards him. In my post, Ketchup, I wrote what she had to say to him: When DH called his NM to ask for the confirmation that she had received the email and would follow our request, NMIL responded with a nasty message: "Have you called everybody from that email? Or just me?" She added, "Why would I do that, after the big deal you made out of the pictures I posted on Facebook of DD?" That's right, Dear Reader, DH had dared to make an attempt to protect his privacy. We had dared to set a clear boundary. We had dared to single her out for being guilty of high-treason in the past. And she didn't like it. Her initial lack of response to my email was very telling: if she ignored the request, then it didn't exist. Her nasty response to my husband's follow-up was equally telling: She hated that we weren't going to let her get away with pretending our needs didn't matter.
_____________________________________________

From: NMIL
To: Jonsi
CC: DH
Subject: Mother's Day...
Sent: May 9, 2010 @ 11:33 AM


Jonsi and DH –

Thank you for the Mother’s Day card!

And Jonsi, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day and are enjoying it with your family.

Thinking of you both...

[NMIL's First name]


From: Jonsi
To: NMIL
CC: DH
Subject: Re: Mother's Day...
Sent: May 10, 2010 @ 11:10 AM


Thank you.


A couple things about this little exchange: 1. I picked out the Mother's Day card for NMIL. It was the first and only one we would ever send her. And it was so perfect a card that I was HAPPY to send it to her. It was obvious that the makers of the card had intended for it to be a joke. But I didn't send it as one and I'm fairly certain NMIL isn't so dense as to have not understood precisely what I was saying. The original card was meant for a child to send to his/her mother. The outside said simply, "Happy Mother's Day." The inside originally read something along the lines of "I just wanted to take the time to say...You're so lucky to have me!" I made the following changes: "I We just wanted to take the time to say...You're so lucky to have me us!" Yeah, I went there. And why the hell not?

2. Prior to this email, the last time we'd had contact with NMIL was during the wedding picture email nonsense, in which she initially ignored our request about the photos from our wedding and then responded with anger and nastiness when DH dared to address the issue further. So it was pathetically obvious to me that her little "Happy Mother's Day Jonsi!" was nothing more than another weak and superficial attempt at glossing over the major problems that were boiling under the surface. There's nothing wrong with niceties, and there's nothing wrong with wishing your daughter-in-law a Happy Mother's Day - except when you don't mean it and it's just part of an elaborate facade. This was all just a ticking time-bomb to me, and it was about to explode.
_____________________________________________

From: NMIL
To: Jonsi, DH
Subject: HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY TO DD!!!!!
Sent: November XX, 2010


Hi Everyone!

Hope DD had a fun Halloween – what did she dress up as? Would love some pictures when you have a chance.

And I hope she has a wonderful day today on her very first birthday – love to everyone.

Gram/Mom/NMIL


I tell ya, Dear Reader, the whole "I'm-going-to-feign-excitement-when-I-really-don't-give-a-shit" thing in regards to our birthdays got old real quick. What the hell kind of moron writes an email addressing a one-year-old baby? Why the hell would we think her sappy crappy email was anything more than a ridiculous show of her "affections" for the little girl she had only seen or even asked about less than half a dozen times during her first year of life? I find email to be a rather superficial means of inquiring about a loved one, especially an email that only took two minutes or so to write.

The timing of this email is particularly crucial to understanding the depth of NMIL's denial and her steadfast resolve NOT to change the status quo. History doesn't lie: From June of 2010 to October of 2010, NMIL gave DH the longest and coldest cold-shoulder he had ever experienced, as punishment for his Declaration of Independence. When October rolled around, she finally broke the silence by calling DH and asking him if she would be invited to DD's first birthday party. I wrote about this phone call in my post Ketchup: NMIL finally broke the silence and called DH. She left a message on our house phone, feigning sadness, and expressed her "interest" in seeing "us." The eventual meeting with her was a failure: She offered no sincerity, attempted to buy our love with gifts for DD, and never once inquired about my pregnancy. The above email was sent on DD's first birthday, a few weeks after that ridiculous ice-breaker of a meeting at NMIL's house. So what does it mean?

Well, do you see any indication that she felt remorse? Do you see any indication that she wanted to change? Do you see any indication that she had taken any time to reflect? Or do you see the same-old narcissist, willing to use yet another birthday to exploit my husband's loyalties, as I see?

I could not find my response to the above email, but I know that I completely ignored NMIL's inquiry about what DD was for Halloween and I never sent her any photos. I can't remember whether we even bothered to respond at all. My inclination is that we just ignored her completely.
_____________________________________________

Last one, Dear Reader:

From: NMIL
To: Jonsi, DH
Subject: Hi There!
Sent: November 9, 2010 @ 8:48 PM


How is everyone??? Thank you for the lovely party – DD is absolutely adorable and your house looks great!

First off – big new of the day – NSIL got her license today! Whoo-hoo!!!

Second - what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving? We are invited to OG2’s in [Town X] (Uncle X's girlfriend) and would love to see you if you are able to visit.

Thanks and hope to talk and see you guys soon.

Love,

Mom/Gram/NMIL


As far as this email goes, my mom's analysis is spot-on. Mama Jonsi wrote, "As far as his mom is concerned, I expected the e-mail. Nothing there is going to change. She is as phoney as a 3 dollar bill. Of course DD is adorable! She has been ALL these months!! Where was "Gram" then? Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean she has any deeper feelings for anyone, it's just what she is supposed to be doing."

And finally, I find it funny that NMIL said, "Thank you for the lovely party." In a weird way, she made it sound like the party was for her.

And in her mind, maybe it was...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Satan's Mirror Has Two Faces

Dear Reader, the following is an essay that I wrote for an English class in college in 2007. The reason I wanted to share it with you is because every time I read it, I am reminded that I had a firmer grasp on Narcissism before I met my husband than I had previously realized. I realize this essay is long and that many of my readers won't take the time to read it (I don't blame you, if you've no interest it will be quite dull!). I don't fancy myself the greatest writer in the world, but I know I do write well and I feel this is one of the best research essays that I did in my time as an English Major. I've re-read it a number of times since graduating, and I just have the urge to post it here. Perhaps I'll do a follow-up post later to share with you the connections I have made between Milton's Satan and DH's NM. I have found some rather striking similarities...and I do see the irony of such a statement. 

The piece also reminded me of a drawing I included on another of my posts that perfectly illustrated NM. HER mirror has two faces too. If you can get past the sort of tedious nature of this post, there are a couple of really great nuggets in here that pertain to all Narcissists, at least insofar as I can see. I'd be happy to hear criticisms, either on the writing itself or on the subject matter. It's all fair game to me!

Note: If you aren't interested in reading the whole thing (again, I don't blame you if you don't) I've highlighted some of the parts that I think can be related to narcissists in general, and to NMIL specifically.

Satan’s Mirror Has Two Faces: Using Satan’s Speeches
 In Books One, Four, And Nine To Prove 
That Satan Is No Epic Hero
by: Jonsi
            According to the traditional guidelines of classical epic, the hero is one who’s individual prowess both glorifies the deeds of men as well as represents self-sacrifice—before Roman rule, self sacrifice of the hero to suit his own needs; during Roman rule self-sacrifice for the good of the empire.  Readers were supposed to love the heroes of classical epics for their charisma and have faith in the valiant truth of their words.  In attempting to express his own beliefs that traditional epic heroism was not heroism at all, Milton used Satan’s character as a means to mock traditional epic values.  To accomplish the task of creating a pseudo hero, Milton created Satan’s character whose deceptive charm, false bravado, and ironic moral depth were all made clear through his powerful and effective public speaking skills, which could captivate even the most anti-Satanic audience.  Milton’s treatment of Satan as we know him from the Bible, in combination with his treatment of the classical epic hero presents a seemingly trustworthy and even likeable character.  Through the examination of several of Satan’s speeches through out Paradise Lost, it is apparent that Milton succeeded in writing a mock hero in whom audiences would be falsely lulled to trust and, at times, feel sorry for.  Satan’s speeches, however skewed in their logic, were meant to have this pacifying effect on audiences so that the narrator could eventually point out the dangers of trusting Satan in any context.
            One of Milton’s first attempts at making audiences and fellow characters feel sympathetic towards Satan’s plight is through the use of expressions which give Satan a highly humanistic quality.  Directly following Satan’s fall from Heaven, the band of fallen angels find themselves in the fiery pits of Hell where Satan addresses Beelzebub with his first speech.  Given that the epic begins immediately after the fall of the angels, the reader only has access to the description of Hell’s horrors and to Satan’s tormented thoughts at this point in time.  In his first soliloquy, Satan takes on the traditional role of rebel leader where he makes it clear to Beelzebub that the war has only just begun between the neo-rebel angels and the tyrannical God.  Satan tells Beelzebub “that fixed mind/ And high disdain, from sense of injured merit” are his reasons for rebellion (1:98).  According to Douglas Bush, “it is perhaps a fair guess that among the general reading public three out of four persons instinctively sympathize with any character who suffers and rebels…because in such cases the sinner is always right and authority and rectitude are always wrong” (Bush 66).  An audience is, in fact, very likely to sympathize with Satan because of empathetic feelings which reveal that one should not bow to a source of power that is tyrannical.  Tyranny is, after all, a highly unfair practice.  Milton’s first step in securing the sympathies of his audiences comes in part from the placement of this speech—being the first speech of any major character he ensured that the reader has only one side of the story—Satan’s.  In addition, he made certain to have Satan express emotions that most readers would feel if they found themselves in a similar situation —“We [fallen angels] may with more successful hope resolve/ to wage by force or guile eternal war,/ Irreconcilable to our grand foe,/ Who now triumphs and in the excess of Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven” (1: 121-124).  Satan argues well. After all, he points out that God’s “excess” of power should not fit in a world where equality reigns; he also implies that though God “now triumphs,” later, he may not.
            Despite Satan’s carefully navigated speech about staging a revolt together as angels who had been wronged by their oppressive God, the narrator warns us not to be fooled.  In his brief but loaded two lines directly following Satan’s soliloquy, the narrator dictates, “So spake the apostate angel, though in pain, vaunting aloud, but wracked with deep despair” (1: 125-126).  One must first set her gaze on the simple term “apostate” which, according to Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary, means “abandonment or falling away from what one believed in,” with synonyms including “traitor,” “renegade,” and “fugitive” (Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary 88).  Immediately this term is supposed to bring to mind the idea that if Satan is abandoning an ideology he once believed in then there may be something inherently wrong with his logic rather than the process against which he is rebelling.  And directly following a particularly moving speech from Satan we have a narrator who is subtly giving clues to indicate that Satan is not entirely what he appears to be.  It should be worrisome that, however faint the connections, the word “apostate” is related to the word “traitor.”  The latter of these two words implies that Satan was not being completely honest in his first speech but also that he had more-than-likely, abandoned principles he had once believed in simply because he was not truly honorable enough to remain loyal to them.  Through the use of this one word, the narrator implores the reader to question Satan’s accountability.  Furthermore, despite his brave façade, we are supposed to be enlightened with the knowledge that Satan, the rebel leader, is actually wracked with “deep despair.”  Certainly, no leader can lead effectively if the ethics of his wars are based solely on his troubled conscience.  According to Murray Roston, “we are lulled momentarily into a genuine admiration of Satan’s prowess [and] only when we reach the authorial comment a little later with its reminder of his villainy do we realize with a guilty start that we ourselves have been seduced by Satan’s wiles” (Roston 55).  So, after the audience has read Satan’s first speech and has been lulled by it, the narrator attempts to point out what he knows is obvious: one should not be pacified by the poetic words of a traitorous liar, particularly if that liar is Satan.
            However, even though the narrator is so careful to warn us against Satan’s deceit, suffice it to say that by book four many readers will still feel empathetic towards Satan’s plight.  And, that attachment only grows stronger due to the self-reflective depth and vulnerability Satan portrays in book four, much to the chagrin of the narrator who seems to expect such a reaction from his readers.  By the time we get to book four, a council in Hell as well as a surprisingly similar council in Heaven has already taken place.  Respectively in regards to the outcome of each council, Satan reaffirms his self-appointed role as leader of the plot to destroy mankind; and the Father and Son establish the need for divine justice and mercy in the universe.  The reader arrives at Satan’s next major soliloquy with the knowledge of man’s creation (though not yet of his fall) and with a deeper understanding of all that Satan has lost by leaving Heaven.  Book three introduces the principle of free-will—an important assertion where all creatures are concerned, no matter where their standing in the social totem pole.  In a soliloquy with only the readers as an audience, Satan admits, “…from what state/ I fell, how glorious once above [the sun]/ Till pride and worse ambition threw me down” (4: 38-40).  By admitting his faults and fears, thereby re-establishing the human qualities he shares with his readers, Satan once again (or perhaps simply continues) to capture the trust of his audience.  Satan, it seems actually acts as a voice of conscience.  According to Diana Trevino Benet, “Satan’s extended moral struggle belongs with the admirable qualities he sometimes exhibits, actions and attributes that serve the poem’s thematic contrast between epic and true, Christian heroism” (Benet 3).  In essence, Satan is such a complex character with his self awareness and candor that readers can’t help but believe him.  It is intriguing too that Satan would refer to his fall from Heaven in terms of having been “thrown” as though to imply that it was not a voluntary removal that led him to his current state.  And yet, he contradicts this implication earlier in the very same line by admitting that his own pride caused his downfall.  And here’s yet another contradiction: only a few lines earlier, he claimed to hate the beams of the sun because it reminded him of the light of Heaven where he used to live.  In these lines, however, he explains how glorious it felt to live above those very same beams of light.  Satan is a walking contradiction, and because of that he seems no different from so many of the people who make up his audiences.  Humans tend to believe that there is truth in things that are reminiscent of the complexities within themselves.  All of these complexities in Satan’s character “give us the impression that Milton, whether intentionally or not, went far beyond the needs of his theme in developing Satan’s character” (Wheeler 99).
            Equally important to Satan’s self-reflections in book four is Satan’s defiant courage, also evident in book four.  Shortly after declaring his regret and remorse at having lost his seat in Heaven as well as admitting to the wrongs he committed Satan inquires, “Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?/ Thou hadst.  Whom hast thou then or what to accuse,/ But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?/…/Nay, cursed be thou, since against his thy will/ Chose freely what is now so justly rues” (4: 66-72).  In this shameless lament, Satan makes a brave assertion: he feels that he was cursed because God willingly gave him free will and yet punished him for using it.  By posing his thoughts as questions Satan yet again appeals to his audience even if we don’t know for sure that he is asking these questions of us.  At first glance it would appear that this is indeed his intention to invoke a sense of injustice amongst his readers so that they might better understand why he chose to reject God’s power in the first place.  But furthering the notion that Satan is employing the readers’ support one might suggest that Satan’s questions are a direct challenge to God.  After all, while it is true that the only beings who can hear Satan’s words are the readers, it goes without saying that the ever-present and omniscient God must surely hear them too.  This means that in both actions and words Satan is openly defying God even after admitting that “behind the impressive façade of defiance and ambition, Satan knows that he is wrong…his pride is wrong…his ambition is wrong: everything that defines him is wrong” (Wheeler 102).  And yet, Satan believes that he is displaying great courage by defying the God who could give him free-will and then punish him for using it.
            Following this speech by Satan, the narrator once again steps in as though to say, “I’ve shown you what Satan has alleged; the following reasons are why you shouldn’t believe him.”  It seems interesting to point out now that this particular method: that is, of Satan’s speeches being followed by the narrator’s disapproving rebuttal, is effective mainly because the separation of voice allows for a distinct boundary to be created between truth and lies, good and evil, God’s will and Satan’s rebellion.  Without said distinction, it would be a great deal harder for the narrator to show how easily one can fall prey to the dangers of trusting the Satanic Voice.  That being said, after Satan’s soliloquy the narrator explains, “each passion dimmed his face,/…which marred his borrowed visage and betrayed Him counterfeit” (4: 114-116).  In just a few lines, we hear that Satan is “counterfeit”—a word denoting a loss of merit or value through deceit; and also that he has a visage which is not merely borrowed but marred as well—so that the features which are not even his to begin with are imperfect and unreal.  As his marred physical features betray him as being a fraud, so he betrays his audience with the mark of deceit.  According to Harold E. Toliver, “communication is a complex act, at once an exchange of information and a labeling of identity…the complicity of voice in Paradise Lost is thus reflected…in the ironies invented by the father of lies” (Toliver 134).  So in saying, every word that Satan speaks is a direct reflection upon his being.  By this critic’s opinion Satan is referred to as the “father of lies” because the words he speaks are so complex and contradictory that he creates a dialectical web of lies within his speeches. 
            Although by book nine most members of the audience no longer feel pity and sadness for Satan’s situation, they still must recognize that his speeches are a force that humans must reckon with.  Perhaps not for God, but certainly for mankind.  Leading up to book nine, the reader learns about life in Paradise and Adam’s love for his proposed equal, but supposedly inferior partner, Eve.  When Satan sneaks into Paradise the first time, he is struck by jealousy at the sight of Adam and Eve together.  He uses his opportunity to sneak into Eve’s mind while she sleeps and create within her a sense of unease, discord, and envy over the idea that she may in fact be unequal to the man from whom she was created.  Moreover, by recognizing a sense of egotism and narcissism within Eve that he himself contains, Satan makes the choice to target her, rather than Adam in order to destroy mankind.  After morphing into several creatures and finally, a serpent, Satan finds Eve alone in the Garden of Eden and tells her, “Fairest resemblance of thy maker fair,/ Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine/ By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore/ With ravishing beheld, there best beheld/ Where universally admired” (9:538-542).  Perhaps what stands out the most during this part of Satan’s dialog with Eve is his careful attention to that which interests Eve the most: her own personal appearance.  Satan knows that he can win a moral battle with Eve and set her up for a fall by appealing to the one thing that the two of them have in common, their narcissism.  It could be that Satan is able to recognize narcissism in others because he contains it in himself, which is why he also knows exactly the right things to say.  And, a bit later he explains to Eve that after eating the forbidden fruit, “ere long I might perceive/ Strange alteration in me to degree” (9: 598-600).  This phrase, followed by a description of all the changes he acquired, including the power to reason came at a time when Eve just a few hours before had to convince Adam that she was a perfectly rational, reasonable person and that she would be fine on her own.  Thus, the idea of having more reasoning skills, and more rationality, in short to just be superior to her partner greatly appealed to Eve.  Satan recognized this about Eve, and just as anyone would who was offered their greatest wish, she took the offered apple in exchange for that which she desired most. 
            Once again, the narrator comes to the rescue, having already proven Satan’s deceitful conduct but hoping to expose all the holes in his logic so that there is no doubt he is a fraudulent coward.  The narrator’s voice is dispersed through out Satan’s entire conversation with Eve, coming in short bursts in between nearly every exchange between woman and serpent.  After one particular section of Satan’s speech, the narrator says, “So glozed the tempter and his proem tuned;/ Into the heart of Eve his words made way” (9: 549-550).  The word “glozed” as David Scott Kastan defines it is, “flattered, lied.”  The word itself sounds like and resembles “glazed” and reminds one of being told a sugar-coated lie.  Somewhat desperately it seems, the narrator drives in the notion that Satan is deceitful many more times through out book nine.  More importantly however, he is finally able to render Satan’s true cowardice when he describes in candid detail Satan’s reasoning and approach for attacking his prey.  He explains, “[Satan sought them both but wished hap might find/ Eve separate” (9: 421-422).  Satan’s logic that Eve would be easier prey contrasts wildly with Eve’s argument from earlier that because she was technically created inferior to Adam, Satan would never come after her alone.  Doing so would have to mean that the “heroic” archangel is cowardly.  Here, the narrator says, is a fatal mistake for Eve, since Satan does take the easy fight rather than the challenge of attempting to defeat Adam.  Furthermore, the development of “spite” in Satan’s character, says Wheeler, is very appropriate.  Spite is “the shriveled, small-minded, weak man’s form of revenge…God is indeed omnipotent; consequently evil has no power of its own.  The angel who fought in heaven can no longer contend with a mere man” which means he must go after the weaker sex, woman (Wheeler 105).  This realization of his loss of power, this huge hole in the logic of Satan’s greater plan to destroy mankind…ends up being the very key to his cowardice.  Satan, the narrator has explained, is no hero; he is merely a cowardly deceiver in disguise.
            In conclusion, although Satan is portrayed at first as the classic epic hero, with time and plenty of hints from the narrator, we eventually see the truth behind the deceit.  It is true that Milton has created an in-depth and, at times, fascinatingly human character out of Satan, but he is not and never will be a true hero according to Milton.  Milton’s attempt to mock traditional roles of epic heroes, however, is highly successful—the Satan of Paradise Lost puts on such a false show of courage and skill that one can not help but laugh at Milton’s parody of the “heroes” of his time.  Indeed, Satan’s mirror has two captivating sides; on the one side, we have a character so richly developed with human qualities that it proves difficult for nearly everyone to abandon him at the end of the epic.  On the other side, there is the Satan we all know: evil and deceitful to the point where his jealousy binds him to his well-deserved fate.  Yet, without the two-sidedness, and without the contradictions, there would be no way for Milton to warn his readers of the dangers lurking behind Satan’s mirror.

Works Cited:
Benet, Diana Trevino.  “Adam’s Evil Conscience and Satan’s Surrogate Fall.”  Milton Quarterly, Vol. 39 (2005). 15 pages.
Bush, Douglas.  Paradise Lost in Our Time. Massachusetts: Cornell University, 1957.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2005.
Roston, Murray.  Milton and the Baroque.  New York: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1980.
Toliver, Harold E. “Complicity of Voice in Paradise Lost.” Ohio State University: 2002. 
Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary. 2nd Ed. Publishers Dorset and Baber. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.
Wheeler, Thomas.  Paradise Lost and the Modern Reader. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974.

Works Consulted:
Barbeau, Anne T.  “Satan’s Envy of the Son on the Third Day of the War.”  (2002).  14 pages.
Benet, Diana Trevino.  “Adam’s Evil Conscience and Satan’s Surrogate Fall.”  Milton Quarterly, Vol. 39 (2005). 15 pages.
Bryson, Michael.  “That Far be From Thee: Divine Evil and Justification in Paradise Lost.” Milton Quarterly, Vol. 36, issue 2. (May 2002). 19 pages.
Bush, Douglas.  Paradise Lost in Our Time. Massachusetts: Cornell University, 1957.
Cooley, Ronald W.  “Reformed Eloquence: Inability, Questioning, and Correction in Paradise Lost.” University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 62. (1992). 42 pages.
Emma, Ronald David and John T. Shawcross, eds. Language Style in Milton: A Symposium in Honor of the Tercentenary of Paradise Lost.  New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co, 1967.
Lieb, Michael.  The Dialectics of Creation: Patterns of Birth and Regeneration in Paradise Lost. Massachusetts: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1970.
McColgan, Kristin P.  “The Way to Pardon: ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ in Paradise Lost.” Christian Brothers University. (2002).
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2005.
Schaar, C.  “Satan as Deconstructor.”  English Studies.  Swets & Zeitlinger, 1989.
Toliver, Harold E. “Complicity of Voice in Paradise Lost.” Ohio State University: 2002. 
Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary. 2nd Ed. Publishers Dorset and Baber. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.
Wheeler, Thomas.  Paradise Lost and the Modern Reader. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pondering

My birthday is coming up at the end of January and today I found myself pondering what, if anything, DH's FOO will do. This isn't something that is eating at me, nor is it something I spent much time thinking about: It's more-or-less just a topic that intrigues me, given how inappropriately his parents behaved in regards to my birthday in the past.

For those of you who haven't been with me from the start, a brief synopsis:

In 2010, NMIL only made brief mention of my birthday to DH in an email she sent to him. The topic of the email was not my birthday, she merely stated something along the lines of, "By the way, happy birthday to Jonsi" at the end of it. EFIL and L sent me a belated birthday card with a twenty-five dollar gift certificate in it. We had seen them the night before my birthday for the big birthday bash that L threw for EFIL, and neither of them said anything to me.

In 2011, NMIL did not acknowledge my birthday at all, given that she was aware that DH, the person she would have been trying to impress, was not around. EFIL and L sent a card with twenty-five dollars in it and L wrote the message, "Happy Birthday Jonsi! I know you must miss DH. We planned to see you yesterday but guess DH's plans changed. - EFIL and L" The whole "guess DH's plans changed" thing was really pretty ridiculous to me, given the circumstances. Ultimately, the reason why they hadn't seen my husband the day before was because EFIL had revealed to DH that he was in cahoots with NMIL and that he had no intentions of discontinuing their sneaky partnership. When DH and EFIL had a confrontation the night before EFIL was supposed to pick him up and bring him to the airport so he could catch his plane for a two-week business trip (which happened to be the night before my birthday) DH and I decided it best that my mother bring him to the airport instead. L's inclusion of the statement "guess DH's plans changed" in a birthday card to me was really pretty childish and inappropriate.

So, given those past experiences, I spent five minutes today pondering the likelihood of being contacted by DH's Jonsi-hatin'-FOO for my birthday. Although DH and I have opted not to share his FOO's most recent attempts at contact on our blogs, I can say that it would seem that NMIL's tactics have changed slightly to the "See? I can play by your rules" approach. In other words, she's trying to make it look like she'll abide by the requests we have made. What she fails to realize at this point is that her pitiful attempts at convincing us she is not a bad person are far too little and far too late. And, they aren't even sincere.

But, I digress. In relation to my birthday, I think there is a smidge of a chance that she'll send a card or something. I'd say the chance of that is less than one percent, but she just might try it in the hopes that such an action will impress my husband enough to break his silence with her. It wouldn't, of course, since DH is much too far down the road of enlightenment to be fooled by that sort of thing, but given her most recent manipulation attempts, I can't entirely cross it off as a possibility either.

Basically, her possible acknowledgement could go one of two ways: She'd either try to hype the whole thing up with some sort of useless and over-the-top gift that I couldn't possibly use or want and that reflected her lack of insight about me (unlikely - that would be far, far too much effort on her part with very little possibility that she'd get a reaction from DH) or she'd make sure that it would reflect her hatred of me. And quite honestly, I think she'd be too afraid to try writing a message to me directly, even a one-liner in some cheap birthday card. No, my hypothesis is that, in that less-than-one percent chance that she even acknowledged my birthday at all, she would send a card with nothing but her name signed at the bottom. And the more I think about it, the more I think even that is unlikely.

Where EFIL and L take this is completely up-in-the-air for me. I really have no idea what they'll do. Actually, I'm leaning towards a card with no gift inside, or no acknowledgement at all. Given that they suffer from an extreme superiority complex, they may send a card so as to keep their head's inflated to the proper size. Until they give up on the idea that DH will respond to any of their shitty manipulation tactics, they may continue to "reach out" to us on important days.

Or not. After all, they think they've tried "so hard" already. At some point, they'll switch over to the "We did our best, it's time to give up now" mentality and leave us alone entirely.

Which would be splendid.

I plan on spending my birthday with family and friends who love me. I'm baking a fun rainbow cake for myself and we've invited my parents and siblings over to hang out. It'll be a small gathering in size, but a big gathering in love. We'll celebrate the same way we celebrated my mother's birthday a few weeks ago: It's just a laid-back gathering with good food and great company. My brother's birthday is a few weeks after mine and we'll all get together to do the same for him. And so on and so on it goes.

I'm happy that DH will be here this year for my birthday. It was a major bummer last year that he had to travel and was gone for two weeks (and that he left the day before my birthday! Pooey!) This year will be great, I can just feel it. Every year that passes has gotten better and better for me, and as our family continues to grow I can't help but feel this sort of warmth and comfort around me: I have everything I could have ever wanted in life. It just keeps getting better and better!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

People Help the People

This one is for you, my Dear Readers and Vigilant Friends. Thank you for reading and joining DH and I on this journey. Little by little, I believe we are all helping each other.


People Help the People
Birdy
(Original by Cherry Ghost)

God knows what is hiding in those weak and drunken hearts
I guess you kissed the girls and made them cry
Those Hardfaced Queens of misadventure
God knows what is hiding in those weak and sunken eyes
A Fiery throng of muted angels
Giving love but getting nothing back

People help the people
And if your homesick, give me your hand and I'll hold it
People help the people
And nothing will drag you down
Oh and if I had a brain, Oh and if I had a brain
I'd be cold as a stone and rich as the fool
That turned all those good hearts away

God knows what is hiding in this world of little consequence
Behind the tears, inside the lies
A thousand slowly dying sunsets
God knows what is hiding in those weak and drunken hearts
I guess the loneliness came knocking
No one needs to be alone, oh save me

People help the people
And if your homesick, give me your hand and I'll hold it
People help the people
Nothing will drag you down
Oh and if I had a brain, Oh and if I had a brain
I'd be cold as a stone and rich as the fool
That turned, all those good hearts away

People help the people
And if your homesick, give me your hand and I'll hold it
People help the people
Nothing will drag you down
Oh and if I had a brain, Oh and if I had a brain
I'd be cold as a stone and rich as the fool
That turned all those good hearts away

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Home Is Where Ever There Is You

Another one for my Dear Husband...


Home
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Not the way that I do love you

Holy Moley, Me-oh-My, you're the apple of my eye
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Man, oh man, you’re my best friend,
I scream it to the nothingness
That we got everything we need

Well, hot & heavy, pumpkin pie,
chocolate candy, Jesus Christ
ain’t nothin’ please me more than you

Ahh, Home
Yes we are Home
Home is wherever there is you (2x)

La la la la, take me Home
Mama, I’m coming Home

I’ll follow you into the park,
through the jungle, through the dark
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Moats & boats & waterfalls,
alley ways & pay phone calls
Boy, I’ve been everywhere with you

That’s true

We laugh until we think we’ll die,
barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you

And in the streets we're running free
like it's only you and me
Jade, you’re somethin' to see.

Ahh, Home
Yes we are Home
Home is wherever there is you (2x)

La la la la, take me Home
Daddy, I’m coming Home

“Jade?”
“Alexander?”
“Do you remember that day you fell out of my window?”
“I sure do, you came jumping out after me.”
“Well, you fell on the concrete
and nearly broke your ass
and you were bleeding all over the place
and I rushed you off to the hospital.
Do you remember that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, there’s something
I never told you about that night.”
“What didn’t you tell me?”
“While you were sitting in the backseat
smoking a cigarette you thought
was going to be your last,
I was falling deep, deeply in love with you
and I never told you ‘til just now.”
“Now I know.”

Ahh, Home
Yes we are Home
Home is wherever there is you

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home, you are me and I am you

Ahh, Home
Yes, I am Home
Home is wherever there is you.

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Moats & boats & waterfalls & pay phone calls

Ahh, Home
Yes we are Home
Home is wherever there is you

Ahh, Home
Yes we are Home
Home is wherever there is you

Friday, January 6, 2012

#uglyontheinside

More tweets from our most publicly available narcissist: Exhibit A! Is it just me, or is she complaining of some ailment every single day? And, pay particular attention to the section where she communicates with DH's sister (below, I've made them red). The person they are talking about is my husband.

Every time I make a list like this, I tell myself, "I'll just pick the best ones." (And by "best" I mean "most indicative of narcissism"). And every time I end up with far too many. This list represents only two months of various Exhibit A tweets, and look how many there are! (For previous episodes of Twitter Madness, click here, here and here.)

November 3, 2011
#imachild lol

November 6, 2011
i feel so sick right now ughh. :(

November 6, 2011
i love when people try and spoil my holiday spirit. #nevergonnahappen i love the holidays more than my birthday.

November 6, 2011
Oh hey long hair. November 2011 [Picture she took of herself, making fish-lips face, which she obviously thinks is attractive, and wearing her long hair down. Apparently, we're supposed to be impressed.]

November 6, 2011
Class is like money—those who have it don't talk about it.

November 6, 2011
tv in bed, and sleep. huge headache. :(

November 6, 2011
[Various tweets to wealthy celebutards]

November 8, 2011
Dr for my wrist... /:...I have to get a nerve test and they're going to stick needles in my arm & hand ):...not a fan of the whole "i'm gonna stick a bunch of needles in you" kind of thing... not excited.

November 10, 2011
I love getting compliments from my customers; it helps keep me going (:

November 12, 2011
Fuck dis bitch.

November 12, 2011
I don't have ugly friends.

November 13, 2011
EMG on the 21st ):

November 13, 2011
if i was a victorias secret model, my life would be set

November 13, 2011
wait, how many people have you slept with? and you're calling her a whore?! HAH. look in the mirror, dildo!

November 13, 2011
i dont live to please you.

November 14, 2011
all i want is a kitchen from @WilliamsSonoma and my house to look like @potterybarn.

November 15, 2011
you dirty bit.

November 15, 2011
Feeling yucky.. ):

November 16, 2011
i hate getting flashbacks of things i dont wanna remember

November 17, 2011
I wanna high five bitches in the face.

November 18, 2011
No it's cool. A sore throat is fine with me. #not

November 18, 2011
Oh ignorant people.

November 19, 2011
Happy birthday to my amazing daddy! Love you!

November 19, 2011
Feels like I was hit by a plane. Yep, a plane.

November 19, 2011
aaand home sick. yay.....

November 20, 2011
It's not fair..

November 20, 2011
God often removes someone from your life for a reason. Think before you chase after them

November 21, 2011
REALLY NERVOUS FOR MY EMG :'(

November 21, 2011
Diagnosis; carpal tunnel

November 22, 2011
wow you are so childish!...you act like YOU'RE the one who is in high school.

November 22, 2011
ps my belly hurts. :(

November 22, 2011
people will not tell me what i want for my wedding. keywords there.. #MYWEDDING

November 22, 2011
don't mess.

November 23, 2011
The girl across from me at the hibachi place is a bitchhh...It's like she knows I just tweeted that.... Now she's staring at me.

November 25, 2011
So dizzy wtf

November 25, 2011
getting sick.. wtf.

November 27, 2011
It's funny how ''friends'' forget us when they don't need any more favors.

November 27, 2011
Heartburn, ouch

November 28, 2011
i swear... the things that come out of your mouth..

November 28, 2011
You aggravate me to no end.

November 29, 2011
So tired. Must stay awake for #VictoriasSecretFasionShow...I want to be a #VSAngel or a #RadioCityRockette

December 3, 2011
@friend and i got our pictures taken in our underwear all day. #likeyado hahaha [Yes, she included a picture of this.]

December 4, 2011
Think I'm getting sick.

December 5, 2011
I hate when a song comes on and brings back memories that I don't want to be reminded of anymore #thingschangepeoplechange

December 10, 2011
What the fuckkkkkk

December 11, 2011
My joints hurt ):

December 12, 2011
Can't feel my fingers on my right hand... #ifeelsuperold

December 13, 2011
my ankles are so weak.. i'm surprised i haven't broken them.

December 13, 2011
extremely low blood sugar. can't get up.

December 13, 2011
#2011regrets None. I'm flawless.

December 14, 2011
ugh, withdrawal headache... :(

December 14, 2011
nah it's cool. leave me out.

December 15, 2011
I'm being set up to fail today.

December 18, 2011
wish i knew someone who was having a baby!!

December 19, 2011
So sore... Gonna be worse tomorrow ):

December 20, 2011
Yes, I did just fall up the stairs. Yes, my ribs feel broken. #clumsyasshit

December 20, 2011
Major hand cramps.. )':

December 21, 2011
When Karma Finally Hits You In The Face. I'll be there.... Just in case it needs some help.

December 21, 2011
oh, i see how it is. well FUCK YOU TOO.

December 21, 2011
can't even believe this. after all i did for you? really? #youareshitty

December 21, 2011
maybe i shouldn't be so offended, but i am. #ugh #seriously

December 21, 2011
you've lost my respect, support & kindness.

December 21, 2011
seriously, so done with being nice and trying to make other people happy. HAPPINESS DEPENDS UPON OURSELVES.

December 21, 2011
oh, the jealousy. mwahaha.

December 25, 2011
Love my Christmas gifts!!! [She actually tweeted a picture of her Xmas gifts. I'm still in awe of this.]

December 25, 2011
Best gifts ever! Love my familyyy!! [More pictures of her gifts...naturally, getting great gifts means love, right? Eeesh.]

December 25, 2011
Sad that christmas is over ): time for my birthday list!! Haha

December 25, 2011
@DH'sSister I'm sorry love ): when did you last hear from him?...[DH's sister responded but her tweets are currently private]...omg!!!! What the fuckkkk ): I'm so sorry!!!...sorry for swearing hah....

December 26, 2011
@DH'sSister love you, ladyyy. ❤

December 26, 2011
Revenge....

December 26, 2011
Closed minds should come with closed mouths.

December 28, 2011
Payback is a BITCHHH.

December 29, 2011
Just realized how many kick ass followers I have! #whatup

December 30, 2011
Seriously considering saying I have the flu so I don't have to work for a week.

December 30, 2011
Excited to get myself a birthday present! (: haha [I haven't posted many of her tweets about her upcoming birthday...there are too many of them].

January 2, 2012
Karma is a bitch only if you are. #suckit

January 4, 2012
Omg the juicy couture bathing suits are out. #need

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Home Is Where The Heart Is

When I made the comment to my husband on Christmas that, "I can't believe that anyone would be willing to give [our family] up," I wasn't considering one very major character flaw that can be attributed to all narcissists: they reject happiness. By their very natures, they repel it. Whether it's the potential for their own, or someone else's, they downright refuse every part of it.

I've been thinking a lot about happiness recently - How we can achieve it, the trials and tribulations we all face on the way there, and how happiness can never be found in that which is not genuine. There is no happiness in a facade. Much as narcissists walk around pretending that the sun shines out of their asses, the real truth is that they are not happy. I don't even really believe that they are happy when they have a thousand minions at their disposal, a hundred victims to control, or every last drop of their narcissistic supply fulfilled.

I'm not one to rejoice in someone else's misfortune, but when I hear unfortunate news about those who have tried so very hard to hurt me and who have succeeded in hurting those I love, it is very hard for me to feel pity. I recognize that NMIL must have a hurt and withered inner child that has been left neglected all these years. I also realize that in order to become the monster that she is, she had to have suffered at the hands of one or several abusers herself.

But, the difference between someone like her and someone like my husband lies in the choices they made with their own free will. Where NMIL became bitter, empty, and fake, my husband seeks to rebuild, renew, and be genuine. Where NMIL seeks to fill her emptiness with the pain and suffering of others, my husband fills his with kindness and compassion. Where NMIL was weak, my husband was strong.

I believe in the philosophies of karma; what goes around comes around; and in the idea that what comes to us in life is a direct result of what we send out. In other words, we get what we are looking for, we receive what we expect. If we don't value ourselves, if we attempt to seek happiness by destroying others, if we force ourselves to live in darkness rather than in light, in a facade rather than in truth, then the outcome of our lives is exactly what we've made it: sad, dark, shadows, a shallow grave.

When I hear that bad things have happened in a narcissist's life, I tend to think about those events in a pragmatic way: those things don't just happen - the narcissist made them happen. Or, at the very least, the narcissist did nothing to prevent them from happening, instead being too blinded by their games of power and control to see the devastation coming their way. The narcissists' game must be a tiring one: they desire happiness but have no means to access it, because it is their very natures that repel it. I know that people have different motivations and that there is more than one path that can lead to happiness, but I also know that on a basic level, there are only a few things required for true happiness to exist.

Money is honestly not one of them. It's true, money doesn't buy happiness and poverty doesn't buy anything, but our ability to surround ourselves with possessions of great material value is not a measure for happiness. Today, I was thinking back to the first (and only) time we visited NMIL in the mini-mansion she bought in early 2010. I was thinking about it because I saw her house as being a reflection of her: it was cavernous and cold. It was much too large to contain the being who dwelled inside. And it was just a house, not a home. There was no love in that house, no matter how much money she spent on frilly decorations. There was no character in it, no matter the fancy fireplace and great entry hall. Today, I found myself wondering if it is as empty today as it was when we saw it over a year ago. I'd bet my bottom dollar that it is.

In contrast, I see the home I share with my husband as also being a reflection. Of us. It's a modest home, with just enough square footage to suit our needs. When I first saw the house, I fell in love with it, warts and all.

And believe me, it had a lot of warts. It had been neglected for years by the man who owned it. It needed lots of cleaning and even more paint. The first time we saw the kitchen, there was a pipe that had burst and was leaking water all over the kitchen floor, which the owner hadn't bothered to even mop up. The walls were dirty from where the furnace had once backfired and left traces of soot in every corner. The bathrooms were disgusting. But I was still charmed. I stood on the sidewalk in front of the house before we even walked inside and whispered to my husband excitedly, "I want it." It was only the third house we looked at.

I could see past all of it's flaws, into the soul of it. When we walked through the front door, the dark seventies paneling and rugs covered in twenty years of dirt didn't bother me. I could see all of that, but I could also see where I was going to put my Christmas tree. I could see the potential. I could see where I would put my decorations, and our furniture. I loved the original moulding, even though it had been painted many times over the years. I adored the original glass doorknobs on the solid wood doors upstairs.

Would DH and I love to have more money so that we could fix things up faster and have "nicer" belongings? Of course! Who doesn't? But the difference I see is that, even if we'd had the money to buy a house like the one NMIL bought in 2010, even if we'd bought that exact same house, it would feel a thousand times different, a thousand times better than it felt to be in the house that she owned.

I remember being upset with DH after we visited his NM because he had seemed so impressed by her house while we were there. When we walked in, he seemed attracted to the superficiality of it, exclaiming, "Whoa, Jonsi, can we live in a house like this someday?" I told him, "Sure, if you like walking into a house where your voice echoes." Then I looked at him and said, "I love our house." I love that our house has character and warmth. I love that we've put so much work into it and that it has a story. I love that we're raising our beautiful children in it and that all sorts of memories are being made. I told DH all of this after we left her house, adding that it had hurt my feelings that he made such comments because I felt that he was blinded by her and her superficial charm, and that it felt like he wasn't happy with our own much smaller, much less fancy house. Where I had been disgusted by NMIL's abode, DH had entertained brief fantasies of living in one just like it. It was a topic we discussed at length many times after that visit.

Whenever we do major construction in the house, something we've been doing a lot of since we moved in, I make time capsules and leave them in the walls, under the floorboards, behind the stairwells. In them, I put pictures of us and our children. I leave notes talking about what is going on in our lives, how many children we have, and what kind of work we've been doing on the house. I've left some of the children's special things - one of DD's plastic bracelets, a toy car, a penny from the current year. In the attic, I have plans to pry up one of the loose floorboards and leave a box containing several of my own treasures: my dried wedding bouquet, pictures of DH and I, and other odds and ends that have held meaning for me. I see this house as being a time capsule itself, and we'll leave bits of ourselves behind for the next generation and it's future owners. For however long our house stands, I hope that at least part of our presence remains.

So what happens when you have no real presence? What happens when you can't possibly fill up your environment with love because you have no real love to offer, and you surround yourself with people who are too selfish to offer theirs? What happens when every choice you make is one that is carefully planned so that YOU are the only beneficiary?

You wind up like NMIL: forever alone, forever fraudulent, forever empty. No matter how many houses she owns, no matter how many times she marries and divorces, no matter how many flying monkeys she has in her control, she is the master of her own destiny and from where I'm sitting, hers ain't a happy one. Oh, I'm sure she'll put on a pretty face until the bitter end, but I believe in my heart that she'll never match us in terms of happiness. I can't say there isn't a feeling of satisfaction in that thought for me: that the person who hurt my husband so very much and for so long, is getting exactly what she's asked for, perhaps what she deserves.

I know that DH and I will face times where we're down on our luck. We'll have trouble with our children, we'll suffer heartaches. But what we'll always have that NMIL won't, is each other. We will make it through the tough times and still have the same love and respect for each other that we've always had. We'll continue to work at our relationship with each other and with each of our children. We'll continue to discover how to love stronger, love deeper, love better. NMIL can't see us because she lacks the capacity for love altogether. And where there is no love, there can be no happiness.

For My Husband

All About Your Heart
by Mindy Gledhill


I don't mind your odd behavior
Its the very thing I savior
If you were an ice cream flavor
You would be my favorite one

My imagination sees you
Like a painting by Van Gogh
Starry nights and bright sunflowers
Follow you where you may go

Chorus:
Oh, I've loved you from the start
In every single way
And more each passing day
You are brighter than the stars
Believe me when I say
Its not about your scars
Its all about your heart

You're a butterfly held captive
Small and safe in your cocoon
Go on you can take your time
Time is said to heal all wounds

Chorus

Like a lock without a key
Like a mystery without a clue
There is no me if I cannot have you

Chorus

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Old Email, Found

Happy New Year, Dear Readers! Oddly enough, I'll be beginning this year with a post about the past. DH and I recently found an old email that we previously thought had been lost to the voids of cyberspace and I wanted to share it with you. I referenced this particular email in my post Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. For those of you who haven't been following my blog from the beginning, the email you are about to read was written by L, my Enabling Father-In-Law's second wife. She wrote this to my husband while he was away on a two-week business trip because he did not call to wish his father a happy birthday. This email came after EFIL's major betrayal just several weeks before.

From: L
To: DH
Sent: February 9, 2011

Hi [DH]!

I left you a message on your voice mail earlier but I wanted to be sure you recieved it. I am disappointed that you did not call your dad for his birthday. If your intention was to hurt him it worked. Why would you be so upset with him that you would be so disrespectful? If it is because he spoke to your mom, that does not make any sense. I speak to [her ex-husband's name]. They will always have you and your children in common and they do not hate each other. It is the same for [her ex-husband's name] and I. Their marriage didn't work out but being bitter only destroys the people who harbor bitterness. They have chosen the higher road in life by not hating and hurting each other any more than their divorce did. I am sure if they hated and attacked each other over the past 20 years if would have not be pleasant for you and added unwanted anxiety.

What other reason could you have to not return any of his calls and want him out of your life? He is not perfect, nobody is. The same grace you show others will someday be something you WILL need as you and Jonsi are not perfect either. In closing you will find in others what you are looking for, if you want to find fault you will and if you are looking for the good in others you will find that. What kind of man do you want to be known for, a loving and gentle person or a critical, mean spirited one. That is only something you can decide. Life is short and I hope you will not regret decisions you are rashly making today.

Whatever you do, know you are loved by [EFIL] and I. You and your family are always in our prayers.

Matthew 7:1-2 Don't criticize and then you won't be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them.


Even though this email brings back some of my old anger, I'm glad I found it. I like having it as evidence of EFIL and L's ignorance and denial. I like having it as evidence of their stagnant mindset. These people have not changed even one iota, and they continue to place all of the blame for their estrangement from my husband on his shoulders, rather than looking inward to examine themselves and learn where their responsibility in all of this lies.

I've been going back and forth with myself about whether or not to dissect this email here on my blog, and I've decided to go for it. Every time I read it, I find myself analyzing L's words as one might conduct an autopsy. I ask questions that are perhaps rhetorical and have no solid answers: How can they think this way? Why won't they take responsibility? Where is the justice? Who said anything about wanting their parents to be perfect? Will they ever see how wrong this is? What the hell happened? But regardless of the answers, one thing is very clear: Where EFIL and L were in February of 2011 is exactly where they remain today. They have not changed.

I left you a message on your voice mail earlier but I wanted to be sure you recieved it. If anything screams overkill, it's this. There's nothing like saying how badly you want to drive your point home to the person you're needlessly attacking. Not only did L take it upon herself to call my husband and express her "disappointment" (and a whole lot of other things) but she felt the need to "make sure he got her message" by writing it down and emailing it to him as well. I want to say, "Message? What message? Oh, the message where you stick your nose where it doesn't belong long enough to speak for your husband and berate mine? You mean that message where you throw your Christianity in our faces as though it's all the evidence required to prove that you are just doing your "Godly duty" towards us? Wait, the message where you call my husband a "mean-spirited man" and where you draw the absurd conclusion that not calling his father for his birthday means he hates his mother?"

Yes, L, we got that message. Loud and clear.

I am disappointed that you did not call your dad for his birthday. If your intention was to hurt him, it worked. I'm not one to say that a person's feelings don't matter. But in this case, L's really don't. Her phone call to my husband and subsequent email were evidence of her apparent desire for control over the situation. It is acceptable to be upset for a loved one when you perceive that they have been hurt in some way. It is even acceptable to defend them in many of those cases, or at the very least, to WANT to defend them. But it is not acceptable to interfere in the relationship between your husband and his adult son, particularly when your communication takes the place of any communication between the father and son themselves. I mean, where was EFIL's voice in all of this and seriously: HOW DARE THOSE FUCKTARDS SAY THAT I'M THE ONE WHO'S CONTROLLING PEOPLE? I have NEVER spoken for my husband. I have NEVER emailed his father or mother or step-mother or siblings, or anyone else, in an attempt to speak for him. I have never called them to explain how my husband feels about them or the things they have done.

So, who is it who is really speaking for whom? Who is it who claims to know how others' feel? Who is it who continually gets involved in relationships not her own in an effort to control their outcome? I have seen many, many cases of these behaviors in the past two years and I continue to find it funny that these same people are the ones who call me controlling.

Why would you be so upset with him that you would be so disrespectful? If it is because he spoke to your mom, that does not make any sense. Oh, haha! I've had a hearty laugh! This is the crux of it all, isn't it Dear Reader? What an extraordinary leap to make, that not calling his father for his birthday not only has SOMETHING to do with his mother, but that it has EVERYTHING to do with his mother. L's commentary tells me two things: 1. That L is much smarter than I previously gave her credit for and 2. That L is much stupider than I previously gave her credit for. Smarter because there is, as we all know, a connection between DH's relationship with his NM and his relationship with EFIL; and it is not completely inaccurate to say that the one has an immediate effect on the other. Stupider because her analysis fails to account for one major thing: that they are playing right into NMIL's game by buying into the idea that EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HER. Though DH's actions towards his father, especially more recently, are partly the result of the connection that his NM and EF have with each other, this estrangement with his father has much more to do with the life-long strained relationship between father and son...a responsibility that I WILL NOT place on the shoulders of the child that my DH was or on the child that still remains inside of him. No, what they failed to understand is that EFIL and my husband have had a strained relationship since my husband was born. What they failed to comprehend is that my husband's lack of acknowledgement of his father's birthday had much more to do with his continued emotional distance from his father than it did any issues he had taken up with his NM.

I speak to [her ex-husband's name]. Well good for you L. I'd ask what this fact has to do with the situation at hand, but I already know the answer to that: Nothing. Your bringing up the fact that you speak to your ex-husband serves only to show that you are ignorant about what kind of person NMIL is, what kind of person your husband is, and how tightly she has wrapped her strings around you both. And, how ignorant of you to assume that all situations are exactly the same, that what works for one person should work for the rest? What a fool you are, L. What a fool.

They will always have you and your children in common and they do not hate each other. It is the same for [her ex-husband's name] and I. Their marriage didn't work out but being bitter only destroys the people who harbor bitterness. They have chosen the higher road in life by not hating and hurting each other any more than their divorce did. I am sure if they hated and attacked each other over the past 20 years if would have not be pleasant for you and added unwanted anxiety. Oh Dear Reader, for the love! All this talk of hatred! To the Narcs and their monkeys, that subject always seems to be the talk of the town! And really? It's completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and ridiculous to be bringing up the status of EFIL and NMIL's feelings for each other. DH and I neither want to know nor care about how EFIL isn't bitter towards his ex-wife. And DH did not ask his father to hate his mother, nor did he ask him to be bitter or attack her. What he asked was that his father stop communicating with his mother about himself and his FOC. Where the former is unreasonable, the latter is not. We never asked or expected of EFIL the expectations that L attributed us.

What other reason could you have to not return any of his calls and want him out of your life? At the time that this email was written, this assertion was more absurd than it would be if it were made today. Making the claim that DH "wanted his father out of his life," specifically because of his and NMIL's continued correspondence, was rather over-dramatic. Furthermore, again it just goes to show how unreasonable EFIL and L have been about taking a look at their part in the outcome of our relationships with them. I mean, really? What this statement really means is that L believes that there are literally no other reasons why DH didn't call his father. In their world, it's all or none. In their world, it's all about NMIL. In their world, it's NEVER their fault. How sick! What a crazy way of seeing the world around them.

He is not perfect, nobody is. The same grace you show others will someday be something you WILL need as you and Jonsi are not perfect either. I suppose this comment was inevitable, given L's pension for using the slogans of abusive parents everywhere. "Why do you hate us so much?" "It wasn't so bad." "We're not perfect you know!" Yeah yeah. We know you aren't perfect, and we never asked you to be. We know we aren't perfect either, no need to point it out. We don't want to be perfect and achieving perfection has never been a goal of ours. Being loving, compassionate parents, however, is. Being kind, considerate, and loyal to those we care about, is. Trying hard every day to overcome our dysfunctional legacies, most certainly. But being perfect is not something we long for.

And for the record? Please. Please show us the same grace we have shown you. We're still waiting for it. For the time being, we'll take your stone-hearted silence and refusal to change as evidence that the best we can hope for in terms of your "grace" is your ignorance of our existence.

In closing you will find in others what you are looking for, if you want to find fault you will and if you are looking for the good in others you will find that. In closing, WRONG. Sometimes, there isn't much good to be seen in others, or what little good you may find is far undermined by the bad. Sometimes, it takes more than rose-colored-glasses and a born-again-Christian mentality to be successful in life. Sometimes you look and look and look and don't find what you are looking for because it's just not there. Sometimes you have to close the door because people refuse to change or accept responsibility. Sometimes, these things happen.

What kind of man do you want to be known for, a loving and gentle person or a critical, mean spirited one. That is only something you can decide. Of the entire message, this was the part that bothered me the most. Anyone who honestly believes that my husband is critical and mean-spirited does not know him at all. My husband is the most gentle and loving man I have ever met. I hold him in the same regards that I hold my own father: whom I see as a jolly and loving being, who has found great internal strength to overcome his own dysfunctions in life. My husband has been so UNcritical in his past that he has let far too many people hurt and take advantage of him. Only now has he found the resolve needed to be analytical enough about the world around him to assess it more accurately: that is, based on what IS instead of what he hopes for. To call my husband mean-spirited is so ridiculous it's beyond the point of funny, it's hysterical (once I've gotten over the injustice of such a claim). It just floors me that this is how they think of him. When he's not being "controlled and manipulated" by me, you know, because of his "controllable spirit," then he's being critical and mean-spirited. My poor husband can't win in their vicious eyes.

Life is short and I hope you will not regret decisions you are rashly making today. Oh hey, "Life is short!" there's another one of those Abusive Parent Slogans. Anyway, I know you know well, Dear Reader, that our decisions regarding EFIL and NMIL could never be described as "rash." I can come up with a whole slew of adjectives to describe those particular decisions, and rash is definitely not one of them.

Whatever you do, know you are loved by [EFIL] and I. You and your family are always in our prayers. We get it, we get it already L. We get that you think this is all about being the bigger people and that you think you are it. We get it, we are infantismile to your giganticism. We'll just sit here hating all over you, while you love on us from afar and continue to keep us in your prayers that we don't end up in hell for disrespecting you.

Don't criticize and then you won't be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them. Your hypocrisy continues to astound me.