Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How To Drive A Narcissist Nuts - Post Removed

This post has been removed due to request of author. Original post comments still available (see below).

Two Years

DH and I have been married for two years, today. It feels as though these two years have flown by, and that's probably because what I have now is what I've waited my whole life for, and good times always seem to move so much faster. In January of 2009, I remember saying to myself, "This is it. This is going to be my year, and things are really going to start looking up." I didn't know what that meant, whether I'd find my soul-mate or land my dream-job, whether I'd meet up with a new best friend, or just have the time of my life.

A month later, I got it all. I met DH and my life began: He's my best friend and soul mate, and together, we've got the best job of them all: parenthood. We really are having the time of our lives.

It's neither here nor there that DH came from such dysfunctional roots - together, we're fighting through the mess his parents left him with, and we're creating a life for ourselves. It's not a life I would trade for anything.

Last night, DH gave me an anniversary gift, and it was a meaningful one for me:


I've been wanting to start collecting these little figurines for years now. I love them because they appeal to my inner-cheeseball and because every piece has a ladybug on it somewhere (I collect ladybugs...it's a big deal.) I thought this piece was particularly cute - DH made a good choice. If he and I were the size of mice, we would TOTALLY sit in glasses of champagne, surrounded by pretty spring blooms, and kiss. But, as it is, this figurine reminds me of a photo that was taken of us in 2009, when I was pregnant with DD. In that photo, we were standing on the beach, with the sun setting behind us, and, with our noses just a fraction apart, we were smiling at each other.

DH, heres to two successful years gone, and many more on the horizon.

For you wake one day,
look around and say, 
somebody wonderful married me.
~ Fred Ebb ~

Monday, April 23, 2012

Methinks

The quotation "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act III, scene II. The phrase has come to mean that one can "insist so passionately about something not being true that people suspect the opposite of what one is saying."

The phrase's actual meaning implies the increasing likelihood of suppressed feelings for the contrary of that which is being argued. I.e., the more passionate and fervent the argument, the greater likelihood the cause is a suppression of belief for the contrary argument, and the subsequent confirmation that it is the (actual) truer statement.

Hamlet: Madam, how like you this play?
Gertrude: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

The Trolls aren't too crazy, Methinks.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

If You Can't Beat 'Em

The following blog post is more an observation on narcissistic behaviors than it is a criticism of DH's FOO. It so happens to be an observation about members of his FOO, but that's really just because they make for a great case study.

I'll start off with a picture, and then go from there.


On January 28, 2012, at 1:38 PM, a girl we'll call Crabby posted the image shown above on her Facebarf page, with no caption or commentary. Thirty-eight people "liked" the photo, and she received fifty-nine comments on it, most of them within two hours of the photo being posted. Judging by many of those comments, it was pretty apparent that Facebarf was the means the parents-to-be had chosen for sharing this information with the world. Fine, that's their prerogative. I may not choose to share such personal information in that way, or with that many people, but that doesn't mean no one else has the right to do so.

Who is this girl, and why is this photo so intriguing to me?

Crabby is one of L's daughters from her first marriage; and the reasons why this photo is so intriguing to me are many: For one thing, I already think of Facebarf as the breeding grounds for narcissism - narcissists and budding-narcissists alike seem to flock to it in droves. Where else can they get that much narcissistic supply? I mean, fifty-nine comments from people offering their over-the-top congratulations? In under two hours? Boy, you can't beat that for the ever-needy-narcissist. Moreover, it would seem that the more "private" I would judge information to be, the more likely a narcissist is to share it with others - in particular, weddings and pregnancies tend to top the list of personal information that a narcissist always seems to want to share with others...lots of others. When I saw this photo on Crabby's page, I couldn't help but think that this was a pretty big indication that she's a little budding narcissist, and that she'll likely chronicle every little detail of the pregnancy...and birth...and life of the poor child in a very public way. This poor kid doesn't have a piss of a chance to ever keep his personal life on the down-low, 'cause Mama's gonna exploit him 'til he's dead.

I'm all for people sharing this kind of news with their closest friends and relatives. By all means, tell yo' Mama and Papa and sister and brother. Tell your three best friends and your cousins. Maybe even tell that neighbor who's Christmas party you go to every year. But really? Is it really necessary to tell your three hundred Facebarf friends, who will likely pass the information around like the peace-pipe at a tribal dance? That's kind of a rhetorical question, but here's my answer anyway: It's only necessary for a person to share the news of her pregnancy in this way if she's a narcissist. 'Cause no one else needs that kind of attention but the biggest attention-whore of all, the narc.

So aside from my obvious contention with Facebarf, why else does this particular picture pique my interest? Because I can just see EFIL and L sitting there, surrounded by all the grandchildren L's brainwashed kids will pop out for them, thinking that they've somehow one-upped us. Thinking that they've got THOSE grandchildren, so they don't "need" ours. Thinking that we're the bad guys for not caring enough to know about what's going on in their lives.

I know this: That L's other daughter, the one who's baby shower I was invited to but did not attend, had her baby sometime in October and that she got married this March. I know that Crabby is now pregnant and will be finding out the sex of her baby around May 4th. All of this information was made publicly available on Facebarf and was not shared with us directly by the people who would have, under different circumstances saw fit to include us in their special days. I'm also fairly certain that EFIL, L, and their kin don't know that we know, and that they probably think we don't care. But, more importantly, I know that when people don't have the knowledge or inner-strength required to break away from their dysfunctional roots...then they wind up like Crabby - who never seemed to put up any kind of fight against the narcissism and toxicity surrounding her. She must live by the philosophy, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I doubt she even thinks she has anything to fight. She'll likely live her whole life exploiting others.

I feel bad for that little person that she'll bring into the world. I do believe that having a child is ALWAYS a reason to celebrate, no matter what the circumstances, and I do wish that little guy the best of luck. In the atmosphere he'll be living in, he's definitely gonna need it.

Our Prerogative

On April 22, 2011, one year ago today, DH put his letter of NC in the mail. His letter read,

Mother,

You will no longer be allowed access to my family. You have expressed yourself quite clearly about my marriage and my wife. Your behaviors have shown me that you are either unwilling or incapable of change. I am happy and satisfied with my life choices. You need to deal with that. You have taught me tremendously destructive and evil behaviors that I have to fix. I will not forget this. I gave you many chances to treat me as an adult, as a loved one, as a human being. You chose not to. You have not respected me or my family and I will not allow this any more. Do not contact me.
 

Lifesizevision

Unlike NMIL, DH and I have the capacity, strength-of-will, and desire to keep our promises. And the promise that we made that day, that she would no longer have access to us, is being upheld. She has tried to contact DH anyway. She may even continue to try, since she has never had an interest in respecting our needs or boundaries. But, try as she may, we will stick fast to our resolve. No one, neither family or friend, has the right to hurt us. No one has the right to slander our names or break our trust. No one has the right to make promises that they have no intention of keeping. No one has the right to try and come between us. No one has the right to abuse us, physically, mentally, or emotionally.

It is our prerogative to step away from anyone who tries to do these things to us. We have chosen to say goodbye to DH's entire FOO and all of his past acquaintances because, through their own choices and behaviors, they have proven that they mean to do us harm.

And that is not acceptable.

In the words of the Great and Powerful Fan-of-Mulder,

FUCK 'EM

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mother Knows Best

DH and I recently watched Disney's Tangled and I finally realized why my fellow blogger Kiki chose Mother Gothel as the pseudonym for her NM. I will admit, I was not up on my Rapunzel well enough to fully appreciate Kiki's choice, until now. And Disney, in my opinion, hit that particular narcissistic nail  right on the head throughout the movie. In particular, her major soliloquy in the film is the perfect illustration of a narcissistic mother.

Mother Knows Best
performed by: Donna Murphy

Mother Gothel:
You want to go outside? Why, Rapunzel...!
Look at you, as fragile as a flower
Still a little sapling, just a sprout
You know why we stay up in this tower

Rapunzel:
I know but...

Mother Gothel:
That's right, to keep you safe and sound, dear
Guess I always knew this day was coming
Knew that soon you'd want to leave the nest
Soon, but not yet

Rapunzel:
But --

Mother Gothel:
Shh!
Trust me, pet
Mother knows best
Mother knows best
Listen to your mother
It's a scary world out there
Mother knows best
One way or another
Something will go wrong, I swear
Ruffians, thugs
Poison ivy, quicksand
Cannibals and snakes
The plague

Rapunzel:
No!

Mother Gothel:
Yes!

Rapunzel:
But --

Mother Gothel:
Also large bugs
Men with pointy teeth, and
Stop, no more, you'll just upset me
Mother's right here
Mother will protect you
Darling, here's what I suggest
Skip the drama
Stay with mama
Mother knows best
Go ahead, get trampled by a rhino
Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead
Me, I'm just your mother, what do I know?
I only bathed and changed and nursed you
Go ahead and leave me, I deserve it
Let me die alone here, be my guest
When it's too late
You'll see, just wait
Mother knows best
Mother knows best
Take it from your mumsy
On your own, you won't survive
Sloppy, underdressed
Immature, clumsy
Please, they'll eat you up alive
Gullible, naïve
Positively grubby
Ditzy and a bit, well, hmm vague
Plus, I believe
Gettin' kinda chubby
I'm just saying 'cause I wuv you
Mother understands
Mother's here to help you
All I have is one request
Rapunzel?

Rapunzel:
Yes?

Mother Gothel:
Don't ever ask to leave this tower again.

Rapunzel:
Yes, Mother.

Mother Gothel:
I love you very much, dear.

Rapunzel:
I love you more.

Mother Gothel:
I love you most.
Don't forget it
You'll regret it
Mother knows best

Celebration

Kiki, over at The Hardest Battle is posting her very first Annual (Re) Birthday Party, in celebration of the one-year anniversary of her first stand against her NPs. DH and I will be celebrating our own Annual (Re) Birthday Party tomorrow, as April 22nd marks the one-year anniversary of our decision to go No Contact with DH's FOO. (I'll likely do a special post tomorrow, though it probably won't be as fantastic as Kiki's own).

I want to say thank you to Kiki, for all the work that she is doing, has done, and will continue to do. Like so many of our fellow bloggers, Kiki is a representation of beauty and strength, and I, for one, very much appreciate the time and effort she put into planning her (Re) Birthday Party. Joining in her special day made me feel like I'm part of such a special group of people - Though we're all separated by physical distance, we are joined by emotional closeness. I am so thankful to be a part of this group, this family. And people like Kiki continue to amaze me: You are all proof that, though dysfunction often breeds dysfunction, there are MANY exceptions to the rule.

You, my dear friends, are true diamonds in the rough.

Diamonds in the Rough
by: Social Distortion


Well I've been up, yeah,
And I've been down.
Been kicked around, yeah,
This god-forsaken town.
So many faults, so little time.
I've gotta find my piece of mind.
Piece of mind. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I was looking for somethin',
Anything at all.
Something to believe in,
Spray painted on the walls.
I've made mistakes, yeah, I've payed for them too.
What's a punk boy supposed to do?

Then she said you're like a diamond in the rough.
You're dirty and you're damaged,
All you need's a little love.
But inside there's a sparkle, like the stars above.
You'll be there in the morning, when the going gets tough.
There was a time when, I could not say,
I got a reason to live another day.
I'll pick my fights, yeah, I'll pick some more.
Won't you help me up from the floor?

I've been chasing you like a diamond in the rough.
You're damaged and you're dirty,
All you need's a little love.
But inside you sparkle, like the stars above.
You'll be there in the morning, when the going gets tough.

I've been chasing you like a diamond in the rough.
You're dirty and you're damaged,
All you need's a little love.
But inside you sparkle, like the stars above.
You'll be there in the morning, when the going gets tough.

Yeah, yeah, like a diamond in the rough.
Yeah, yeah, all you need's a little love.
Yeah, yeah, like the stars above.
You'll be there in the morning, when the going gets tough.

Diamond in the rough, yeah, yeah.
Like the stars above, yeah, yeah.
All you need's a little love, yeah, yeah.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grey's Dilemma

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is your power to choose your response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

My dear friend Upsi recently posted a reader inquiry and has given me permission to tackle it on my own blog. The following is Upsi's original post about her reader's situation:

I heard from a reader today who asked me to do a post about the pernicious win/lose dynamics of dealing with narcissism in our families of origin. First I'll briefly sketch our Gentle Reader's situation, then I'll offer a few thoughts in hopes that you all have some words of wisdom (you always do!).

Our fellow ACoN, who we'll call Grey, went NC with her parents a little over a year ago. They (she and her FOC) had moved away to create some distance, and lo and behold, suddenly her parents wanted to move there, too. She told her parents that if they moved to the same area they would have no further contact. That did not stop them, and they now live in their area, though they do not know exactly where they live. Without going into too great of detail, they have harassed her and her family to the point of exasperation and at one point the authorities were called to put a stop to it.

Which brings us to the dilemma: Grey is always looking over her shoulder, worried she'll run into one or both of her parents. She has tried to communicate the issues, she has tried to set boundaries, all of which was met with "I don't understand" and "We don't know what we did" - the usual routine. NC was her only choice because of the level of engulfment and harassment. In working through her feelings about running into her parents, she isn't sure what exactly she'll do if it does happen. If she engages, she feels like she "loses" by giving them control, and if she just leaves the situation, she also feels like she "loses" because they are still dictating her choices. This is the way the dilemma was posed to me, so I'm trying to give you a sense of the landscape - I'm sure many who read this blog can relate.

This win/lose bullshit runs so deep that sometimes we can't even see ourselves getting caught up in it. I know that if I were in Grey's situation, I would have absolutely no problem walking away should I run into my parents, and I wouldn't feel like it made me the "loser." My mother works hard to drive home that I have to lose in order to be part of her orbit. My need for space - after being disrespected and invalidated to the Nth degree after trying to be open and work through how I really feel - is my right and my need. She wants me to believe I have to choose one or the other - win or lose. She wants to narrow the choices into a limited set, and she wants to come out the victor. And that's why we're estranged. Because she can't live in the grey. I wonder how any parent could think that moving across the country to "follow" their adult child, who expressly asked them not to, was anything other than stalking.

I open the floor to you, Gentle Readers, to share your thoughts on dealing with this win/lose dynamic we've lived with for so long. How do you cope with it, how have you found ways to transcend it, and what advice would you give Grey as she struggles to find peace in a very un-peaceful situation?


In my opinion, as long as Grey maintains her boundaries to the best of her ability, there is no way this will end up a lose/lose situation for her. It is true that she has most likely "lost" a relationship with her FOO - an unfortunate effect of her FOO's behaviors - but in no other way do I see Grey on the losing end of her parents' malicious game. The way I see it, the only people who are really "losing" anything, is Grey's FOO: They are losing the opportunity to show their daughter (as well as her FOC) that they can be loving, compassionate, and respectful, and that they can pursue a healthier relationship. They are also losing what could only be a fruitful relationship with Grey, who I assume (based only on the fact that she contacted Upsi with such a heartfelt inquiry) is as kind and loving a human being as my own husband. And that's saying something because I think very highly of my husband.

But the issue at hand is not how I feel about Grey's situation. The issue is that Grey is feeling the pressure that her FOO has trained her to feel, probably from the time she was an infant: the pressure that they inflict, even from a distance, has backed Grey into a corner. And that pressure says, "Grey, no matter what you do, you will lose. If you come back into the fold, you lose because we will never respect you or give you the love you deserve. If you remain in a state of NC, you lose because we will continue to hunt you and paint you as the bad guy to everyone we know. If you ignore us, you lose because you will appear weak. If you stand up to us, you lose because you will be giving us the attention we so crave, and at the end of the day, we STILL won't have the love and respect for you that you are looking for."

My first question for Grey would be this: Why help them hurt you? When you put yourself in the mindset that you lose no matter what, what you have effectively done is allowed your training to set in and given your narcissistic parents permission (though they may not realize it) to continue haunting you.

But, it's easy for me to say this. I didn't come from a family that manipulated me. I didn't come from a background of abuse, of secret-keeping, of blame-and-shame games. I didn't have parents who were unable and unwilling to love me or respect that I am a person with feelings and needs. The reason why I can relate to Grey's feelings of frustration, disappointment, and confusion is, of course, because of my husband's background. And believe me, he's dealt with the same kinds of issues, and will be for some time yet (probably even for the rest of his life, on some level or another). For what it's worth, I do have some suggestions for Grey, and others in a similar position, but please know that I do not fancy myself all-knowing, and that the suggestions I offer are merely that: suggestions. I know how hard this is - I see my husband struggle every day to maintain healthy boundaries, to be assertive, to keep predators at bay. He's doing it...but it ain't easy.

Grey's dilemma has many solutions. I'd like to offer a few of mine. The dilemma, according to Upsi: In working through her feelings about running into her parents, she isn't sure what exactly she'll do if it does happen. If she engages, she feels like she "loses" by giving them control, and if she just leaves the situation, she also feels like she "loses" because they are still dictating her choices. Boy-oh-boy, can DH and I relate! I'd like to offer my solution as a sort of steps-based notion. It's the very same solution (to the very same problem) that I have offered to DH, and it looks like this:

Step One: Prepare
One of my biggest battle strategies lies in the steps I take in preparation for what I foresee as being a challenging situation. I hate to go into things blind. And, while it is true that I may come up with ten or twenty possible scenarios that never pan out, I would rather feel that I've spent time thinking up a plan of attack (or, a defense strategy) than walk into a challenge completely blind. There is some ground to be gained in preparing, even if you never end up needing the tools you garnered. Preparing for the possibility that you'll eventually bump into a member from your FOO or past life will automatically give you TWO things that they are hoping you won't have: a plan, and the tenacity to back it up. For me and DH, preparing means that we're reading lots of self-help books (DH more than me, although I often choose to read the books he's reading so that we can act as a functioning team and so that I can help back up the skills he is learning). DH's current reading list includes a plethora of books about how to create and maintain healthy boundaries, as well as books about being assertive. Preparing also means that I regularly come up with "surprise" scenarios. Generally, I'll declare a "pop quiz" out of the blue and ask him what his current plan is for how he'd deal with a run-in with [fill in the name of anyone from his past]. And then we talk about it for a while: where the plan is strong, and where it is lacking, as well as suggestions to strengthen it. In doing these things, I feel that DH is getting a great head-start. Even if his FOO attempts to use the "element of surprise" by sneak-attacking him, he won't truly be at his weakest, because he will have already anticipated their moves at least one step ahead.

Step Two: Understand the difference between a healthy response and an unhealthy one
It is true that all families are dysfunctional - even mine. As human beings, it is not possible to avoid the effects of all dysfunctions. However, some families as well as some individuals are more dysfunctional than others. On the sliding scale of dysfunction, my husband falls into the more dysfunctional end of the disordered spectrum, while I consider myself on the less dysfunctional end. My point in saying this is not to make anyone feel as though I am somehow better or stronger; instead, I use that fact to point out that there are some crucial differences in what feels "right" and natural to me, and what feels "right" and natural to DH. In my experience, the more dysfunctional the FOO, the more dysfunctional a person's responses are to unhealthy, disturbed, or otherwise unsafe stimuli. For instance, when approached by a person who lives a life filled with drama and who doesn't seem to understand (or respect) my boundaries, it feels very natural to me to do any of the following: speak up for myself to reinforce my boundaries, communicate my needs, or walk away. But for DH, it feels more natural to allow that unhealthy person in. His knee-jerk response is to allow his boundaries to be crossed, to share too much information, and to keep his mouth shut about his own wants and needs. The reason we are so different is that, in my less-dysfunctional FOO, I was taught that the response to drama can ONLY be action, assertiveness, and rejection. In DH's more-dystfunctional FOO, he was taught that his response to drama should be either complete acceptance, or a passive-aggressive front. DH has had to unlearn much of what feels natural to him in order to understand that, if he is ever approached by those assholes, he has every right to stand up for himself, walk away, or better yet: stand up for himself and THEN walk away. There is no wrong answer, when those are the options.

Step Three: Practice
As dorky as it sounds, I've asked DH many times to play out the scenarios in his head (or brainstorm with me aloud) and, either with me or alone, practice what his responses and defense techniques would be. What this helps to accomplish is give him an exit strategy, a self-esteem boost, and the "muscle memory" required to act in a way that helps fortify his new-found boundaries, rather than crumple under the stress invoked when and if a person from his dysfunctional past resurfaces. So, I've asked DH to practice - in the car, in the shower, while he's working on a house project. Whenever, where-ever he has a few minutes to spare. Sometimes it takes a nudge from me (thus the "pop quizzes) but practice, he must.

The reason why DH sometimes needs a nudge to think, anticipate, practice, and prepare is because he does not want to deal with the possibility of a run-in with anyone from his past (see: unhealthy trained response). But the question I often pose to him is: What's better: being afraid and unprepared, or being afraid and prepared? As I've said, I personally would rather deal with whatever discomfort I was going to experience in the safety and privacy of my own home, than have to deal with it for the first time while being accosted by my enemies.

My next thought for Grey has to do with the fact that her parents actually believed there would be something to gain by moving to her hometown, even after she expressly told them not to. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Narcs don't play where they think they won't win. A narcissist won't waste the time, money, and effort required if they anticipate losing. In fact, "losing" isn't a word in their vocabulary (unless, of course, they are describing someone else). So, in this equation where her disordered parents have purposefully crossed Grey's (verbally communicated) boundaries and moved to her home-town, I am going to assume that one of the variables is her parents' assumption that there is something to be gained.

Grey, what is it that they hope to gain? What is it that they think they will win? What is it that they are hoping you will give up, either willingly or unwillingly? The obvious answer is that they want to see you cave; they want you to stop fighting and step back into the fold; they want you to lose any foothold you've gained in creating a stronger Self; they want to control you. But, what are the less obvious answers? What would they stand to gain by bumping into you at the grocery store, the library, the park? What, in any given chance encounter, would their five or ten minutes with you give them? I feel that if you can answer those questions, you may find some of the answers that you seek. To me, the grey areas are not necessarily found in the obvious or in the broad-spectrum; they are found in the minutiae, in the details, in the moments where you allow your fears and their training to give them a foothold on YOUR precious and newly founded self-hood.

To Grey and the rest of my Dear Readers: You can determine for yourself what it is you have already lost, as well as when and where you'll win in the future. Don't leave that power in anyone else's hands. 'Cause baby you've got the right and the capacity to decide that for yourself. Keep fighting the good fight my friends - I have faith you will succeed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Eighth Circle Of Hell

According to Dante, there is a special place in Hell for narcissists. There are some narcissists out there to whom I'd love to send this information, but I think the insinuation, as well as the insult, would go over their heads. WAY over. From Wikipedia:

Eighth Circle (Fraud)

The last two circles of Hell punish sins that involve conscious fraud or treachery. These circles can be reached only by descending a vast cliff, which Dante and Virgil do on the back of Geryon, a winged monster traditionally represented as having three heads or three conjoined bodies, but described by Dante as having three mixed natures: human, bestial, and reptilian. Geryon is an image of fraud, having the face of an honest man on the body of a beautifully colored wyvern, with the furry paws of a lion and a poisonous sting in the pointy snake-like tail (Canto XVII).

The fraudulent—those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil — are located in a circle named Malebolge ("Evil Pockets"), divided into ten Bolgie, or ditches of stone, with bridges spanning the ditches:

Bolgia 1: Panderers and seducers march in separate lines in opposite directions, whipped by demons...Just as the panderers and seducers used the passions of others to drive them to do their bidding, they are themselves driven by demons to march for all eternity. In the group of panderers, the poets notice Venedico Caccianemico, who sold his own sister to the Marchese d'Este. In the group of seducers, Virgil points out Jason who gained the help of Medea by seducing and marrying her only to later desert her for Creusa. Jason also seduced Hypsipyle, but "abandoned her, alone and pregnant" (Canto XVIII).

Bolgia 2: Flatterers also exploited other people, this time using language. They are steeped in human excrement, which represents the words they produced. Alessio Interminei of Lucca and Thaïs are seen here. (Canto XVIII).

Bolgia 3: Dante now forcefully expresses his condemnation of those who committed simony. Those who committed simony are placed head-first in holes in the rock (resembling baptismal fonts), with flames burning on the soles of their feet. One of the simoniacs, Pope Nicholas III, denounces two of his successors, Pope Boniface VIII and Pope Clement V, for the same offence. Simon Magus, who offered gold in exchange for holy power to Saint Peter, is also seen here. The simile of baptismal fonts gives Dante an incidental opportunity to clear his name of an accusation of malicious damage to the font in the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (Canto XIX).

Bolgia 4: Sorcerers, astrologers, and false prophets here have their heads twisted around on their bodies backward, so that they "found it necessary to walk backward, / because they could not see ahead of them." While referring primarily to attempts to see into the future by forbidden means, this also symbolises the twisted nature of magic in general. In this Bolgia, Dante sees Amphiaraus, Tiresias (whose double transformation was also referenced), Tiresias' daughter Manto, Aruns, Michael Scot, Alberto de Casalodi, and Guido Bonatti, among others (Canto XX).

Bolgia 5: Corrupt politicians (barrators) are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals. The barrators are the political analogue of the simoniacs, and Dante devotes several cantos to them. They are guarded by devils called the Malebranche ("Evil Claws"), who provide some savage and satirical black comedy--in the last line of Canto XXI, the sign for their march is provided by a fart: "and he had made a trumpet of his ass." The leader of the Malebranche, Malacoda ("Evil Tail"), assigns a troop to escort Virgil and Dante safely to the next bridge. The troop hook and torment one of the sinners (identified by early commentators as Ciampolo), who names some Italian grafters and then tricks the Malebranche in order to escape back into the pitch. The promise of safe conduct the poets have received from the demons turns out to have limited value (and there is no "next bridge"), so that the poets are forced to scramble down into the sixth Bolgia (Cantos XXI through XXIII).

Bolgia 6: In the sixth Bolgia, the poets find the hypocrites listlessly walking along wearing gilded lead cloaks, which represent the falsity behind the surface appearance of their actions – falsity that weighs them down and makes spiritual progress impossible for them. Dante speaks with Catalano and Loderingo, two members of the Jovial Friars, an order which had acquired a reputation for not living up to its vows, and which was eventually suppressed by Pope Sixtus V. Caiaphas, the high priest responsible for ordering Jesus crucified, is also seen here, crucified to the ground and trampled (Canto XXIII).

Bolgia 7: Two cantos are devoted to the thieves, who are guarded by the centaur Cacus who has a fire-breathing dragon on his shoulders and snakes covering his equine back (in Roman mythology, Cacus was not a centaur but a monstrous fire-breathing giant slain by Heracles). The thieves are pursued and bitten by snakes and lizards. The full horror of the thieves' punishment is revealed gradually: just as they stole other people's substance in life, their very identity becomes subject to theft here, and the snake bites make them undergo various transformations. Vanni Fucci is turned to ashes and resurrected. Agnello is blended with the six-legged reptile that is Cianfa. Buoso exchanges shapes with the four-legged Francesco: "The soul that had become an animal, / now hissing, hurried off along the valley; / the other one, behind him, speaks and spits." (Cantos XXIV and XXV).

Bolgia 8: Two further cantos are devoted to the fraudulent advisers or evil counsellors, who are concealed within individual flames. These are not people who gave false advice, but people who used their position to advise others to engage in fraud. Ulysses and Diomedes are condemned here for the deception of the Trojan Horse. Ulysses also tells the tale of his fatal final voyage (an invention of Dante's) where he left his home and family to sail to the end of the Earth only to have his ship founder near Mount Purgatory. Ulysses also mentions of his encounter with Circe stating that she "beguiled him." Guido da Montefeltro recounts how he advised Pope Boniface VIII to capture the fortress of Palestrina, by offering the Colonna family inside it a false amnesty, and then razing it to the ground after they surrendered. Guido became a Franciscan in 1296, and died two years later. Guido describes St. Francis as coming to take his soul to Heaven, only to have a demon assert prior claim. Although Boniface had absolved Guido in advance for his evil advice, Dante points out the invalidity of that, since absolution requires contrition, and a man cannot be contrite for a sin at the same time that he is intending to commit it (Cantos XXVI and XXVII).

Bolgia 9: In the ninth Bolgia, a sword-wielding demon hacks at the Sowers of Discord, dividing parts of their bodies as in life they divided others. As they make their rounds the wounds heal, only to have the demon tear apart their bodies again. Dante encounters Muhammad, who tells him to warn the schismatic and heretic Fra Dolcino. Dante describes Muhammad as a schismatic, apparently viewing Islam as an off-shoot from Christianity, and similarly Dante seems to condemn Ali for schism between Sunni and Shiite. In this Bolgia, Dante also encounters Bertran de Born, who carries around his severed head like a lantern (a literal representation allowing himself to detach his intelligence from himself), as a punishment for (Dante believes) fomenting the rebellion of Henry the Young King against his father Henry II (Cantos XXVIII and XXIX).

Bolgia 10: In the final Bolgia, various sorts of falsifiers (alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and imposters), who are a "disease" on society, are themselves afflicted with different types of diseases. Potiphar's wife is briefly mentioned here for her false accusation of Joseph. The Achaean spy Sinon is here for tricking the Trojans into taking the Trojan Horse into their city (Sinon is here rather than in Bolgia 8 because his advice was false as well as evil) and suffers from a burning fever. Gianni Schicchi is a 'rabid goblin' for forging the will of Dante's relative Buoso Donati. Myrrha is here for disguising herself to commit incest with her father King Theias and suffers from madness. In the notes on her translation, Sayers remarks that the descent through Malebolge "began with the sale of the sexual relationship, and went on to the sale of Church and State; now, the very money is itself corrupted, every affirmation has become perjury, and every identity a lie"; so that every aspect of social interaction has been progressively destroyed (Cantos XXIX and XXX).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jerk Wads

A very dear reader and fellow scapegoated DIL asked me the following question on this post:

...this is random but I was re-reading some of your older entries...and was wondering why you were not invited to Pig's wedding? I was surprised to read that. Why would he leave out his best friend's gf from his wedding? What were his "reasons"? I mean, I know he is a jerk wad but that was so blatant. Sorry, that was just a burning question!

Thank you for asking, Just Another DIL! Your question actually sparked another memory that I'd like to share with you as well, that might help to clarify the possible motivations behind Pig's attempts to hurt his "best friend." So, here we go...

Pig's fiance, whom we'll call Babs, was having her wedding shower around the same time that I was having my baby shower. In fact, I believe our showers were in the same month (but not on the same weekend). Now, as etiquette called for, I sent Babs an invitation to my baby shower, even though I didn't know her well and didn't particularly like the little that I did know. But the fact was that she was the fiance of my husband's best friend, and it wouldn't have made much sense not to invite her. She received a formal invitation at the same time the rest of my guests received theirs.

Apparently, the same consideration was not owed to me. Babs herself never responded to the baby shower invitation. The day before her wedding shower, which was taking place a week or two before my own shower, Pig called my husband and asked if I was going to be attending. I happened to be standing right beside my husband, so he turned and asked me, "Are you going to be going to Babs' wedding shower tomorrow?" I must have looked at him like he'd sprouted two heads. I replied, "No, why would I? I wasn't invited." DH looked confused and asked Pig if they had sent me an invitation to the wedding shower. Pig's response was something along the lines of, "I don't know. I don't know who Babs invited."

I smelled bullshit. First of all, I think Pig knew exactly who his fiance had invited (and didn't invite). Secondly, it seemed awfully strange that he'd be calling to see if I'd be attending his fiance's little party if he truly had no idea whether or not I'd even been invited. I also think he was calling to ask if I was going to attend because:

1. He knew I couldn't possibly say yes (The chance that I'd be able to attend a shower that I was informed about less than 24 hours in advance and that I'd received no official invitation for was slim to none) and 2. He wanted to ensure that they could turn down my baby shower invitation, since I had turned down their wedding shower invitation.

Pig and Babs were playing a rigged game. It was called, "Let's try to make Jonsi look like the asshole."

At the time, DH defended his friend, saying that "When they first started planning their wedding, we hadn't been an official couple" so maybe that was why I hadn't been invited.

I told DH that he was excusing his friend's poor treatment of me, and that their non-invitation was downright rude, given the context of his current relationship with me. It shouldn't have mattered that, when Pig and Babs got engaged, DH didn't know me. Pig and Babs had chosen to ignore what DID matter: the fact that DH and I were in a committed relationship, that we were having a baby together, and that we had extended an invitation to them for our special event out of courtesy. Here's what it should have looked like: Pig should have acknowledged DH's serious relationship with me and had enough respect to invite his best friend's significant other to their wedding festivities.

I followed up that statement by saying, "But, it's really a blessing in disguise, given that I don't like Pig or Babs and would have had no interest in going to their little party." Had I been invited, I would have attended, as a way to represent DH, but I would not have been happy about it. So, even though they intended to hurt us by not inviting me to Babs' wedding shower, they actually just did me a huge favor. Not only did I not have to go to their shit-show party, but I didn't have to entertain Babs at my special event either.

My non-invitation was a sure sign that Pig and Babs had zero respect for my husband, and did not value his friendship. The fact that Pig had rigged the game for his benefit was further proof that he was playing the same game NMIL played: the "Get Rid of Jonsi at all Costs" game. By this stage of the game, Pig had already made it known to DH that not only did he despise me, but he hated that DH was beginning to extricate himself from his old role as everybody's favorite doormat. Personally, I also think he was sour about the fact that DH could no longer fill his obligation as Best Man. Whereas it was once possible for DH to emotionally and financially fulfill that duty, his capabilities in that regard became limited when he and I began our relationship and then became pregnant. Pig simply couldn't stand that I was in his way of manipulating my husband.

When we received the wedding invitation, my name was not on the envelope. The invitation was sent to our apartment but only addressed to my husband. I didn't realize this was so until I remembered back to when DH sent in the response card: He had had to add my name to indicate that I was going.

Now, wedding etiquette states that if your name is not on the envelope, then you are not invited. And, if you are not invited, it is considered rude to add your name to the response card. Proper wedding etiquette also states that the same rule applies if your significant other has not been invited...even if it seems rude that he/she was not invited. According to The Knot: Unfortunately, you can't RSVP for both of you, because only you are invited...you can't dictate how someone else puts together their guest list. Technically, yes, engaged guests should be invited with their future spouses...Try to look at it that way: it most likely wasn't an intentional slight. Now you must decide whether you want to attend the wedding solo or not.

Of course, my problem was that, in this case, not inviting me WAS an intentional slight. No further proof necessary.

So, why would Pig and Babs choose to behave this way? Why would they intentionally leave my name off the guest list, in spite of the fact that DH was supposedly Pig's best friend, and that I should have been invited by proxy, even though they didn't know me very well? Why would they invite NMIL and SIL but not DH's significant other? Why would they ignore the context of their current relationship with DH and expect him to fulfill obligations to them when they refused to show him the same courtesy?

Because they could.
Because Pig didn't like that he could no longer commandeer all of DH's time and energy, whenever he felt like it.
Because he wanted to hurt DH and tear us apart.
Because he wanted me out of the picture, and would do so literally by not including me in his festivities, thereby forcing DH to separate himself from me and make him choose between his "best friend" and his pregnant fiance.
Because they are inconsiderate, desperate, manipulative pricks.
Because, from the beginning, they sided with NMIL and were willing to be her puppets.

In short, because they are assholes.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thoughts At Random

- It is my belief that NMIL wants DH and I to get a divorce. I would go so far as to say she's hoping our marriage won't last, and that we won't make it as a couple. This is not a new thought; she's been showing her hand from the very beginning. Recently, my mother came up with the perfect analogy for what NMIL is currently doing: she has been "keeping one finger in the pie" in the hopes that, if DH and I don't make it, she can easily reel him back in. What she and her cronies fail to realize is that their behaviors only make me want to fight that much harder to make my marriage work. Call it incentive, call it motivation, but whatever you do, don't label her constant play for power a successful endeavor on her part. The only thing she is succeeding in doing is bringing my husband and I closer together. The further away he gets from her and his destructive FOO, the more clearly he is able to see that his old way of life was completely unhealthy and not worth returning to. If she is waiting for his return, then she will be waiting in vain. He's not going back. Not ever.

- My dear friend Upsi came up with yet another great observation: that NMIL is being willfully ignorant of all that is real, including my husband, in order to play the "everything is peachy" game. She is pretending that she is just oh-so-nice, which is really funny to me, given that we know she's really a rancid bitch...and I'm pretty sure she knows we know it. Her depth of denial is substantial, but not so much that I would call her crazy. To call her "crazy" would be remiss of the fact that she knows exactly what she's doing and, despite the irrational of her behaviors, her actions are meticulous in their design.

- DH no longer blinks an eye when I refer to his mother as evil. He is not offended when I call her names. I take this as a great sign that he is coming to accept the sad truth about his mother: that she is an awful human being who is about as close to evil as one can get without sprouting horns and a pointed tail. He hasn't yet reached the point where he can say the same truths aloud; but I attribute some of that to the fact that I am a little more crude in my speech than he is. DH simply prefers not to swear.

- Good things are happening over here at the Jonsi household. Though DH and I have chosen not to share our most recent good news publicly, we would like our readers to know that, in spite of all of their efforts, NMIL and Co. have not managed to destroy our spirit, our home, our family, or our love. Our love and respect for each other grows exponentially each day. A faithful reader recently asked me where is the justice when it comes to how we've been treated by the narcissists in our lives. And to that end, I have to say that my justice is right here: in my happiness, in my home, in my family. There is no narcissistic mother-effer on earth who can take that away from us.

- I found a couple of really awesome quotes recently that I'd like to share with you: 1. "Contrary to what the dictionary tells us, pretending is potentially the most serious form of deception because it involves living a lie, rather than just telling one." - Harriet Lerner 2. "No disguise can long conceal love where it exists, nor feign it where it is lacking." - La Rouchefoucauld 3. "Many people today don't want honest answers, insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want, instead, a soft answer that turns away anxiety." - Louis Kronenberger