Wednesday, February 27, 2013

100 Signs And Traits Of Narcissism

From Think Like A Blackbelt: 100 Signs and Traits of Narcissists by Lori Hoeck. This is a decently extensive list, which is something I tend to look for when I'm re-posting something. I like lists. I like lists that contain a whole lot of information even more. If you're new to the idea of narcissism and are just doing preliminary research about it, this is a general but informative place to start:

- A sense of superiority places them above others
- Must be the center of attention, constantly seeking approval, acknowledgment, kudos, accolades, praise
- Act like they are the lead character in all things in life
- Dominate conversations because they believe they have the only worthwhile things to say
- Want others to give into their demands, request for favors, and put their needs first
- Have inflated egos, inflated sense of entitlement, inflated sense of importance, inflated need to be center stage
- Envious of other people’s accomplishments and will steal, lie, or sabotage others to get attention back to them
- Envious of other people’s possessions, they will put such ownership down or minimize it to make themselves look more noble
- Search for constant approval and praise to reinforce their false grandiose sense of self, they’re “on- stage,” dominating the conversation, often exaggerating their importance
- (Since the self is so fragile — an ever crumbling construction of their ego) — use power, money, status, looks, supposed past glories (or supposed future glories) to boost their image
- See criticism as baseless attacks or betrayal and countered with cold-shoulder anger or rage or chilly stares or verbal attack.
- Can never accept blame. Others are always to blame.
- Feel being center of attention is good, right, and proper
- Have a grandiose sense of self-importance
- Think they are special, God-touched, or privileged
- Think they can only be understood by other special or high-status people
- Have unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment
- Believe they are beyond the rules. Laws do not apply to them and remorse is only felt when someone catches and confronts them.
- High maintenance because they need your attention, praise, and deference
- Fake sweetness, honor, and good intentions, but deprive them of something they want and look out as they reveal their true selves.
- Express grand, exciting plans, but rarely can make them happen
- Blame others rather than take personal responsibility
- Lack of empathy colors everything they do.
- May say, “How are you?” when you meet, but they are not interested
- Their blame-shifting creates defensiveness. Then they belittle the defensiveness: “Why are you so angry?”
- Since they shift blame so well & seamlessly, your guilt/insecurity issues stay raw and over-sensitive.
- Lend you a hand up, then subtlety cut off at the knees to keep you indebted & coming back.
- If you point out an error they made, they go into defensive mode counter any such notion with anger, venting, rage, cold-shoulder, or withdraw
- Give you a metaphorical rug & then keep pulling it out from under you
- They are: blowhards, braggarts, blusterers, brow-beaters, bullies, big-headed, and ultimately bogus.
- Help you gain certain skills/info/connections, but then forever make you feel beholden to them.
- Extremely skilled at making anyone under their influence crave their approval.
- Make you feel special & then emotional distance themselves in ways that keep you unsure of yourself.
- Use a judgmental “you’re OK”/”you’re not OK” yo-yoing to keep you off-balance & “blameworthy.”
- Groom people via manipulation (charm/rage combo) to sell their reality/rationalizations to others.
- Virtually all of their ideas or ways of behaving in a given situation are taken from others, people they know and perhaps think of as an authority.
- Their sense of self-importance and lack of empathy means that they will often interrupt the conversations of others.
- Expect others to do mundane things, since they feel too important to do them
- Constantly use of “I”, “me,” and “my” when they talk.
- Very rarely talk about their inner life, memories and dreams, for example.
- Lie, using subterfuge and deception as tools
- Are stuck in one level of maturity where growth is not an option
- Only have eyes for “me, myself, and I” instead of “we”
- Don’t understand empathy, except to fake it as a tool
- Play “Give to get” by being nice or helpful only to expect reciprocation
- Put on the air of “having it all together” and will not readily admit failure or weakness
- Jump to defensive mode readily and frequently
- May apologize, but it doesn’t mean a real change in behavior
- Run from their own problems rather than tackling them
- Demand your trust rather than being transparent and earning it
- See you as extensions of themselves and resist your freedom
- Create stories, euphemisms, sayings, definitions, rules they hold up as Truth. Their world is false.
- Must talk about themselves & be in control. They want you to just be an ego-stroking entity for them.
- Find personality weaknesses & exploit them as easily as you & I ride a bicycle.
- Will rarely listen to or respect your “No”
- Take advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
- Appear tough-minded or unemotional
- React to criticism with anger, blame-shifting, shaming or humiliating others
- Fail to recognize people’s emotions and feelings
- Exaggerate achievements, personal history or talents
- Are unpredictable in mood and behavior
- Become aggressive, hostile, verbally vicious, or withdraws when threatened
- Can vocalize regret for a short time when found out, but soon rationalizes it away
- Appearance is important, so primping or fastidiousness is common
- Withdraw or a cold shoulder is used as a tool to make you do what they want
- Rationalize everything to make sure they always come out on top
- Will steal an idea, quote, lesson plan, piece of wisdom — call it their own
- Groom underlings and create organizational or business environments to suit their need for ego stroking
- Create Employment Hemorrhage — narcissists drive people away with inconsistent, raging, and arrogant actions.
- Tend to be a lot of talk — fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Can suck up to bosses while talking down to those they think inferior
- Expect others to go along with them because their plans are better or special
- Expect constant praise and attention
- When work or plans fail, will blame others and make it sound plausible
- Will take advantage of co-workers
- Will be jealous of others’ success but wear a face of confidence
- Play the “If you don’t like it I’m taking my ball and going home” game
- Exaggerate abilities and uses blame-shifting to cover deficits
- Can’t understand “There is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’.”
- Often argumentative, but arguments are convoluted, emotional, irrational
- They feel that the rules at work don’t apply to them.
- They will always cheat whenever they think they can get away with it.
- If you share workload with them, expect to do the lion’s share yourself.
- They love to delegate work or projects and then interfere by micro-managing things
- If things go well, they take the credit; if the work turns out badly, they blame the person they delegated it to.
- There tend to be higher levels of stress with people who work with or interact with a narcissist, which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.
- They get impatient and restless when the topic of discussion is about someone else, and not about them.
- Value religiosity’s rules or business protocol over spiritual growth.
- Take pride in their own righteousness and rightness.
- Attempt to belittle any version of reality that conflicts with theirs.
- Can’t believe they make mistakes.
- Have an inability to feel or process or truly understand shame.
- Create scenarios to discover your weakness or fears to manipulate later.
- Don’t use language as communication. It’s for hiding, deflecting, avoiding, masking, & manipulating.
- Their charm is false. Contradict them a few times & you’ll feel their out-of-proportion narcissistic rage.
- Their conversations & interactions aren’t meant to enlighten, but to confuse, control, & create drama.
- Are black holes, working to get time, money, or talent from you.
- Expect you to lend a listening ear and give votes of approval.
- Use emotional withdraw to create guilt and compliance.
- Will use the parental or child role to get what they want.
- Will betray secrets to feel more powerful.
- Can use flattery or sickly-sweet protests of innocence like a stealth weapon.
- Use verbal skills to block or deflect being confronted.
- Impact our lives negatively despite appearing to have some positive effect.
- Their subconscious creates a false ego from which to relate to the world. They are their own avatar!
- Subconsciously real relationships don’t exist for them. We’re all just players on the narcissists stage.
- Their sole subconscious pursuit is to be seen as God’s gift to the world in a certain area or skill set.
- Early emotional trauma freezes their worldview at that age, making them immature, impatient, inconsiderate.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Are Today's Tom Sawyer

"Tom Sawyer was a collaboration between myself and Pye Dubois, an excellent lyricist who wrote the lyrics for Max Webster. His original lyrics were kind of a portrait of a modern day rebel, a free-spirited individualist striding through the world wide-eyed and purposeful. I added the themes of reconciling the boy and man in myself, and the difference between what people are and what others perceive them to be - namely me I guess."
- Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist, 1985)

Tom Sawyer
by Rush

A modern-day warrior
Mean mean stride,
Today's Tom Sawyer
Mean mean pride.

Though his mind is not for rent,
Don't put him down as arrogant.
His reserve, a quiet defense,
Riding out the day's events.
The river

And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society.
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift.

The world is, the world is,
Love and life are deep,
Maybe as his eyes are wide.

Today's Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the space he invades
He gets by on you.

No, his mind is not for rent
To any god or government.
Always hopeful, yet discontent,
He knows changes aren't permanent,
But change is.

And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society.
Catch the witness, catch the wit,
Catch the spirit, catch the spit.

The world is, the world is,
Love and life are deep,
Maybe as his skies are wide.

Exit the warrior,
Today's Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the energy you trade,
He gets right on to the friction of the day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Mind Is Not For Rent

I don't like to spell the word "god" with a capitol "G" so usually, I don't. Not only do I not recognize god as a "capital G" kind of dude but I've never seen evidence that he exists. I also don't think there is anything wrong with questioning the existence of a greater power, though I may very well be in the minority in that regard. Generally speaking, I have always considered myself to be agnostic, but the more I think about religion the more I come to realize that I lean more towards being an atheist. The one thing that had always stopped me from classifying my beliefs in such a way prior to now was that I had always thought atheism was sort of extreme. I didn't want to put an absolute on the idea that there is no greater power out there somewhere in the universe. These days, I guess I would consider myself an agnostic with atheistic leanings. But unlike many bible-thumping Christian fanatics out there, my mind is open to change. If someone came along with empirical data to prove that god exists, it would not be impossible to convince me.

I have committed myself to a lifetime of research and questioning authority; I will die an anarchist, with no allegiance to any master but myself. One of the many problems that I see with religion is that all too often, followers are either willingly or unknowingly stripped of their own free-will and that is not a state of mind in which I ever want to be chained. It is my experience that any authority which claims to have all the answers yet doesn't allow room for any questions is a dangerous one, and my opinion that religion is about control: control of the minds, bodies, and allegiance of it's followers. I believe that children should be taught how to think, not what to think, and that they should be allowed the freedom of mind enough to make their own choice as adults about which if any religion they want to follow: this means not exposing them to any religion save for the introduction of all religions in a strictly analytical sense, until they are of a consenting age. In other words, religions could be taught without the shoulds, presented as systems of belief and not as fact. I was raised without religion in my life and the freedom to choose any path I wished to take. If I had wanted religion in my life, that was my prerogative. It is that same freedom of choice that I am passing down to my children.

When I was about eight, I asked my dad where god was. He told me that if there was a god, he was all around us, in all things. I found that to be a little creepy. When dad went back inside the house, I stood out on the deck calling out, "Hello god!" and listening to the sound of my voice stretching out into the great woods in my parent's backyard. I imagined what it meant for god to be in everything and I pictured tall, skinny men with great long beards living in every single one of the trees, and tinier versions of those same men in each blade of grass. I wasn't convinced, it seemed ridiculous.

When I was about eleven I remember having a short conversation with my cousin who is ten years older than me. I remember telling her that I thought god was made up by people who were afraid of lightening and other phenomena that they didn't have answers for. She told me that I had made a very intelligent observation. All my life, I have had moments like these. Atheism was a natural state of being for me; no one had to convince me either way whether god did or did not exist. I didn't see the evidence and so I didn't believe. I don't think there was ever a time when I believed in god. And I know there was never a time I believed in religion, though I've never begrudged anyone his or her own right to one.

What I don't like is what people do with religion; what the powers that be do with religion; how religion is used and for what purposes. In more recent years, I came into contact with people who, had they not been related to my husband in some way, would have disgusted and outraged me on the sole basis of their extreme religious beliefs and world-views. People like EFIL and L, who either knowingly or unknowingly set themselves up as god-like figures to their offspring repulse me with their condescending, ignorant, and hypocritical vision of the world around us. I recognized this in EFIL and L early on in my relationship with DH and I never stopped using their behaviors as clear evidence that their vision of life, so colored by their Jesus-tinted-lenses, were unhealthy for us and our newly created family. If god does exist, theirs was not one I wanted in my life or in the lives of my children.

I've explored my Narc In-laws' behaviors many times on my blog and I've been struck by a few mind-blowing observations: 1. That EFIL had set himself up as god to DH; expecting DH never to question his authority, to be eternally grateful to him for all that he had "sacrificed," to have faith in him blindly, and to offer respect where there was no promise for it to be returned in kind. And 2. That NMIL's religious beliefs are no more genuine than her love is unconditional. These observations have lead me to the theory that narcissists, like many religious leaders, use religion as a form of manipulation and control. In EFIL's case, it's likely because he is such a weak person that he required the rigid thinking that his Christianity could provide for him - his mind was for rent to god and only god; in NMIL's, it's because she wishes to appear loving and pious in the eyes of the people she is constantly trying to impress. In a world where god is a capital-G kind of fellow, it really doesn't look good to swim against the stream.

So okay, whatever, right? Team NMIL can belong to whichever cults they wish, for whatever reasons they see fit. The problem I had with their system of beliefs was in how I felt it effected DH and I. It is very possible, if not probable, that their religious beliefs alone would have caused an estrangement eventually, even if they were not abusive, narcissistic assholes. I had found that their religion was a side-effect of their small-mindedness and in-general mindlessness. In my life, I have encountered some religious folk who are quiet in their faith and unshaken in their beliefs even in the face of my disbelief, but DH's parents were not a part of such a system.

I've been collecting a bunch of quotes recently that, besides reminding me of my disdain and disgust for EFIL and L's ignorance and bigotry are excellent commentary about religious extremists in general:

"You can safely assume that you've created god in your own image when it turns out that god hates all the same people that you do." - Anne Lamott

"Morality is doing what's right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right." - Unknown

"Your ignorance is their power." - Unknown

"The bible should be one sheet of paper. And on that sheet of paper, it should say, 'Try not to be a cunt. If you do that everyday, you are being a good person." - Jim Jeffries

"Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe. If you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Religion: No question. No doubts. Never admits when it's wrong. When challenged becomes hostile."

"Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god's infinite love." - Bill Hicks (I told DH, this one could read, "Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions dad's infinite love." as a way to illustrate to him how I believe EFIL has set himself up as the very same kind of god that he worships).

"The basis of religion isn't faith, it's fear."

"I guess the all-powerful, all-knowing god of the bible never expected anybody to 'Google that shit!'" - Dusty Smith

"The time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion." - Dalai Lama

"If god doesn't like the way I live, let him tell me, not you."

"I don't want to believe. I want to know." - Carl Sagan

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow.
And I am in them, and that is eternity."
- Edward Munch

"I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

"They swallow god without thinking.
They swallow country without thinking.
Soon they forget how to think.
They let others think for them."
- Charles Bukowski

"Your beliefs are a magnet that create your reality."

"You only need a shepherd if you are a sheep."

"The mind of one freethinker can possess a million ideas. A million fanatics can have their minds possessed by a single idea."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dare To Disturb The Universe

"I'm reasonable as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore.
Unless you can convince me otherwise with a rational argument."
- Unknown

"Speak your mind
even if your voice shakes"
- Maggie Kuhn

"Ignorance is not just what you don't know,
it's what you won't know."
- AronRa

 "One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled
you have been in your life,
the more open your mind becomes to new ideas."
- Neil DeGrassa Tyson

"Most people are other people.
Their thoughts are someone else's opinions,
their lives a mimicry,
their passions a quotation."
- Oscar Wilde

"We make our lives significant
by the courage of our questions
and the depth of our answers."
- Carl Sagan

Friends Of Narcissists

At least two of NSIL's "friends" were recently spotted sneaking 'round these parts. We can only assume the suddenly widespread discovery of our blogs had something to do with DH's recent email to Exhibit A. The reason why their presence intrigues me is because I find it astounding that all these people can read our blogs, yet not a single one of them feels the need or has the desire to communicate with us directly about what they see here. While writing my 2013 "catch-up" post the other day, I was acutely aware of the indirect approach to communication that NMIL maintained at every step. By definition, emotional or psychological manipulation is a process wherein one person influences another in a devious or sneaky manner. There is no such thing as above-board manipulation. This clearly means that anyone who intends to maneuver another human being by way of deceit and trickery is not going to openly, directly, or clearly communicate with her intended target. That would not serve her purpose at all.

But what of the friends of the narcissists, who aren't necessarily narcissists or manipulators themselves but are considered to be "close" to the narcissist? Why would they choose indirect over direct communication? Why would they skulk in the shadows and watch from a distance? Why are they content to gossip in the safety of their own bubble world, but never venture out into the open in clear defense of their narcissistic Masters or in defiance of the Truths spoken by one or two little rebels? Their army is large in comparison to ours, and by their own definition - wherein love and support can be shown by the number of followers a person has, regardless of where their loyalties lie - they should easily be able to dampen our rebellion. And yet they can not. We have only a few people speaking truths, they have armies of Flying Monkeys spread far and wide, and yet their numbers are incapable of muting our small revolution.

I have several theories on why their masses stay silent in the face of our modest truths.

1. It could very well be that they just don't care. I am fully aware that they may be bored and disinterested in what DH and I have to say; that it's no more enlightening to them than intelligible words to the village idiot. It's true that I had imagined that there would be something of intrinsic value here to the people who once claimed to have 'cared so much' about my husband, but I realize that it's more likely there is nothing here that holds any value to them, save for scraps of grist for their constantly-running mills. The majority of those ex-friends who have already stopped by didn't spend much time here, which is either because they've already been fed information from a spy and therefore don't feel the need to step onto our turf on their own accord, or because what they've seen when they stepped a feeble toe in the water was not enough to hook them into wanting more. These are not people known for having a thirst for knowledge, and most of them seem to pride themselves on how blissfully ignorant they can appear. Overall, I'd say that some of our newest readers from NMIL's clan fall into this disinterested category: they simply can't be bothered to read all these...words.

2. It could also be that some of our FMRs (Flying Monkey Readers) can't take the heat. The truth here is, afterall, pretty fucking scorching. So they've drudged up the interest enough to take a little looksy, but when they see how extensive this shit is, they turn tail and run. They'll say I'm "obsessed." They'll say I "must not have a life." They'll say I've "created this blog to talk about how much I hate them all." They'll say I'm "a loser." None of that really matters to me, both because I believe they are entitled to their opinions and because I think they're opinions are intentionally perverted, misinformed, uneducated, and obtuse. They, the blind followers of the Mistress of deceit and illusion; the ones who either can't be bothered with the truth because it's too boring for their tastes, or who simply can't face the truth because they don't like how it illustrates their flaws, can say all they want about how "obsessed" or "crazy" they think I am. My beef is that they've never said it to my face. This second theory points to the observation that they remain silent because they can't stand up to the enormous evidence I've detailed on this blog which is in direct contrast to that which they have always believed. Their faith is blind. Opening their mouths here would likely prove that. And I submit that they know it.

3. I also wonder about the various allegiances of any of these people. I believe that, while they maintain a facade of staunch advocacy for NMIL and for the entirety of their flock, they are not actually loyal to anyone. When one of NSIL's very "bestest" of friends showed up here the other day, I sat back and watched, wondering what she was up to. As it turned out, she spent little over an hour on my blog and a mere five minutes at DH's before turning in for the night and going back to her dorm room. Maybe she got what she came for. Or maybe she found nothing here of interest. But whatever the case, DH and I are sure that if NSIL didn't already know about our blogs, she's aware of them now. And still. A roaring silence. Here, I submit the possibility that no one is speaking up because they have no vested interest in the individuals about whom we write - even if they've identified themselves in our subjects. Funny that they seem to spend so much of their time tweeting to each other or making endless proclamations of superficial looooooooooove; yet when they see a threat to "one of their own," they sew their own lips shut. But like the troll who cried BULLY a few weeks ago, it would seem that they may just be paying lip-service to a cause they don't really believe in, for the sake of being awarded a badge of honor when the time comes. They all want the reward for having been the ones to "jump to the aid" of their "best friends" without ever having to actually do anything for the recognition. No doubt, they spent two minutes consoling NMIL and NSIL, reassuring each that DH and Jonsi are really the bad ones, not her, before going back to whatever mind-numbing tv show they had been watching before they were disturbed.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my previous posts about this topic: I welcome commentary on my blog, both from those who agree with me and those who do not. The only rule I adhere to when publishing comments is that identities remain protected and as long as that is the case I always publish what my readers have to say. I am willing to entertain conversation with any individual who wishes to come here and discuss their thoughts. I am even willing to entertain conversation via email, if a commenter chose not to submit their commentary as a public comment, so long as they understand that eventually, I may hold it up to the public as evidence. I had even been looking forward to a little showdown.

Which brings me to my last theory, 4. No one from NMIL's camp will ever want to have a conversation if it's on our terms. They're perfectly happy flinging shit behind their private twitter accounts (good for them) and whispering behind closed doors. They're content with ambushing us and stalking us and leaving vaguely threatening comments while hiding behind anonymity. What they aren't going to do is walk in when they've been invited. Exhibit A? Voluntarily join a potentially enlightening and certainly heated debate about who is right and who is wrong, what is truth and what is lies? That, my friends, would be an epic comedy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's Your Truth

"When writing the story of your life,
don't let anyone else hold the pen."
- Harley Davidson

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ketchup - 2013 Edition

Since I'm such a fan of fact-checking and history-recording, and since it received a positive review the last time around, I've decided to do another Ketchup post, in which I lay out all of the major events that have lead DH and I to where we are at this precise moment in time in terms of the narcs and their treatment of us. I find that it's very beneficial to have this clear and concise list of reasons why we initially went NC with DH's family and I detailing why we chose to remain in such a state.

- March 2009 - Upon meeting NMIL and SIL, I discovered their extreme immaturity and attraction to drama, as they spent the entire lunch dual-texting and behaving in an immature, unhealthy, and superficial manner.

- March 2009 - I witnessed my first "NMIL guilt-trip" on DH, when she manipulated him into house-sitting for her.

- May 2009 - We shared our pregnancy news with NMIL and found her reaction to be lacking in the Genuine-Happiness-Department. She spent her time making comments about how she was "too young to be a grammy" and asking if she could text the news to all of her friends. She never congratulated us or showed sincere happiness for our happiness.

- May 2009 - We shared our pregnancy news with EFIL and L. They told us that they "Had hoped we would have gotten married first." DH was disappointed with the responses we got from both of his parents about our exciting and life-changing news.

- May 2009 - NMIL showed her "interest" in our pregnancy by questioning DD's paternity and suggesting we get a paternity test. She then disguised her resentment of me by claiming during a conversation with DH to know what I wanted, concerning my own wedding.

- June 2009 - NMIL tried to manipulate us with lies and trickery with her offers to "help" us out by letting us rent the apartment she owns. When we discovered her lies and DH addressed them, she responded with the typical blame-and-shame garbage that all Narcs like to use. She did not apologize. She did not show remorse. She never brought up the subject again, except when she was trying to use it as a means to prove that we had somehow lied to her.

- June 2009 - NMIL had an email exchange with DH in which she blamed him for her lies and made it clear that she disapproved of his relationship with me. She concluded the chain of emails with the sentiment: "It's not all about her DH."

- June 2009 - Naunt told me I was not welcome to live with DH in the apartment he was renting from her. She made it very clear that she wanted me gone, and that her offers to "help" us were no better than her sister's. She tried to scare me away and continued to try and win DH's loyalties.

- June 2009 - NMIL hosted a party that she told DH was a birthday party for him. She behaved in a cruel and manipulate manner, showing no remorse for her past behaviors, and rewarding DH for coming by sticking two-hundred dollars in an envelope for him. No one wished him a happy birthday or gave him any presents. It was really just a party for NMIL.

- July 2009 - We attended SIL's birthday party and I was treated with as much disdain as ever. NMIL busied herself by taking photos of her "family" and making sure those photos did no include me. She blamed DH for his sister's bad feelings about her party because he didn't invite his friends so that she would be surrounded by tons of people that day.

- July 2009 - NMIL used tactics of triangulation in an attempt to undermine my authority when she invited us on vacation with her. She was not forthright with the details of the trip that would be taking place an entire year later, but it was clear that she wanted my husband to accept her offer. She never once mentioned these plans to me (either directly, indirectly, in person, or via email) which made it obvious to me that she was hoping I wouldn't have a say in the matter. Though she feigned understanding when we declined her offers to vacation with her on two separate occasions, both DH and I have reason to believe that she was actually angry and disappointed, even if she didn't have the courage to voice those feelings. When we asked her to inform us of her travels when the time came to actually go on the trip since we did not feel comfortable promising our time a year (or even six months) in advance, she agreed. But she never did.

- August 2009 - NMIL did not RSVP for my baby shower until three days before. When she finally called, she told my mother her reason for RSVPing so late was because, "She was so excited [about my shower], she forgot to call." She bought the biggest gift on the registry, even though she already knew it had been purchased, because she wanted people to think she has "so much love" to give.

- October 2009 - DH's "friend" Pig proved that his loyalties lie with NMIL, and that she's got him wrapped around her pinky finger. Pig called DH to express his disapproval of DH's recent life choices, his disgust with "how terribly DH was treating NMIL," and to share his thinly-veiled hatred of me.

- October 2009 - NMIL emailed DH to inform him that she thought "SIL felt left out a little." That may have been so, but DH and I decided it was not healthy to be including her in our marriage, which was what NMIL was implying that he do.

- October 2009 - J, NMIL's second ex-husband, called DH to ask him to check-in on his sister. His "request" was in fact a demand that DH act as SIL's father, as he had been expected to do his whole life. When DH told J that he could only be her brother, rather than a parent to her, J responded: Sorry I asked you to check on your sister, I will never again ask you to do any thing that is a inconvience for you. You so selfish it is just amazing...I don't expect you to be her parent. She misses her brother thats it, so if you could be a big brother that would be great. Second I don't deserve any lip from you, I have always treated you with respect and encouragement. I have never asked you for anything before nor will I again. I am being same dad to her as I was to you!!!!! And you turned out OK!!!! I wish you luck with your new Family, just don't forget your old one!!!! We don't need to meet, I don't want to take up your precious time!!! There's no explanation needed, is there, Dear Reader?

- November 2009 - NMIL disregarded our needs concerning the birth of our DD. She risked DH's life, my life, and the life of our unborn child when she kept DH on the phone while I was in labor en route to the hospital. She proved that she cared more about the pictures she took that day than she did about the people in them.

- November 2009 - For the ultimate NS, NMIL posted photos of DD on her Facebook page without our knowledge or consent. When I requested that she remove them and ask permission in the future, she responded with feigned concern. Always keep in mind, Dear Reader, that NMIL is a liar. A promise means nothing to NMIL.

- November 2009 - DH's old "friends," all of whom are closely linked to NMIL, spent much of their time weighing in with their thoughts and opinions about me, DH, and our DD. What they had to say and how they chose to behave proved that none of them had our best interests at heart.

- November 2009 - NMIL was willing to risk the health and life of our newborn, when she exposed herself to the swine flu and then expected us to visit for Thanksgiving.

- November 2009 - Conveniently forgetting the way she had chosen to behave concerning her apartment offers in June and that there was no way we could trust her, NMIL sent an email to DH, informing him that she'd would love to help us financially with the purchasing of our first house, and that she had "secretly hoped" we would still end up "down the street" from her.

- December 2009 - We declined three Christmas party invitations. L tried to guilt-trip DH into feeling badly about not going to theirs.

- December 2009 - NMIL showed up to our apartment to celebrate the holidays with us and came bearing gifts of guilt, shame, manipulation, lies, and a no-doubt-re-gifted scarf for me. SIL was not in attendance.

- December 2009 - After NMIL left from her Christmas visit, DH got a call from SIL, in which she asked him, "How could you do this to Mom?" She proceeded to tell DH that, "No one else will tell you this, but someone has to say it. You're wrong. We all think so, but they just won't say it. You're wrong!" She cried. She told him he was hurting their mother. It was the first and last time DH ever heard her tell the truth.

- January 2010 - I witnessed NMIL bully a small, innocent child. It was horrible, and the fact that I did nothing to help that little girl will haunt me forever.

- February 2010 - DH told NMIL his truths and that he would no longer accept or tolerate her lying. She responded with every manipulative tactic she could. She refused to accept responsibility for any of her actions. She refused to offer up a sincere and heartfelt apology. She blamed, shamed, and guilted. She excused herself and all of her lies. She tried to turn DH and I against each other. The topic was never discussed again.

- February 2010 - NMIL continued to pretend that everything was "fine" and acted phoney in my presence. She asked to look at my wedding dress before our wedding, as though nothing she had ever done mattered and she expected me to say yes. I said no. My "no" in the moment was symbolic of my "no" to her.

- March 2010 - We discovered that NMIL was in contact with EFIL and L. EFIL took DH out for lunch to discuss NMIL, after disguising the date as a "father-son-bonding-time." Once there alone together, EFIL opened up a can of festering worms. He told DH that he didn't have to marry me, if he didn't want to. He asked why NMIL had been "treated so terribly" at our wedding shower. Most of all, EFIL and L exposed themselves as flying monkeys and proved to us where their loyalties remained.

- March 2010 - L sent DH a chain email about how much mothers do for their thankless children.

- April 2010 - NMIL wore white to our wedding. She was uninvolved in it, and never once offered up a sincere and heartfelt offer to help us with it. She never took photos of DH and I, as a means of "cutting me out of the picture." Aided by her cut-from-the-same-clothe siblings and ex-husband, she took photos of DH prior to our wedding, in an act of desperation. It was as though they were saying, "We aren't going to taint our memories of this day with photos of HER." She also gave DH a card that was addressed only to him, riddled with guilt-inducing commentary about how she wanted things to "go back to the way they were before." Her card begged the question, "Before, what, Mommy-Dearest? Before Jonsi?"

- April 2010 - After our wedding, I sent out a mass email requesting that people not post pictures of our wedding on the internet, out of respect for our privacy. No one from DH's FOO responded to the email. 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?"

- May 2010 - EFIL and L gave us their "Forgiveness / Judgement Talk" and insinuated that we should be offering forgiveness to whomever they deemed worthy of it. They told us we shouldn't judge anyone because it wasn't our right to do so. They thumped their invisible bibles at us throughout the entire conversation.

- June 2010 - We did not attend SIL's birthday party, as a result of her continued lack of interest in DH's existence, so long as he was married to me. She offered up her tantrum in the form of an email to DH in which she informed him that she "didn't want him to come" to her birthday party since he wasn't willing to give up the whole day for her. NMIL called DH and left a message on his voice mail. Full-fledged underhanded guilt-trip over his decision not to attend the party ensued.

- June 2010 - We informed NMIL over the phone that we were pregnant again. She responded with fake surprise. We now have reason to believe that she already knew the news, having heard it from EFIL. She did not ask for details about the pregnancy or offer up any sincere congratulations.

- June 2010 - EFIL offered to help DH with our car, which needed a new engine. EFIL picked a weekend and said he would come pick up the car and take DH to his house so they could look at it together. The day before, he called DH to tell him he had found something better to do and would be doing that instead. EFIL and L went on a mini-vacation to go snowmobiling out of state with friends. EFIL didn't call DH to make good on his promise until one month later, when he finally came and picked up the car.

- June 2010 - DH invited NMIL over to read his Declaration of Independence to her. True to form, she responded with guilt-trips, denial, blame, and lies. Also true to form, she did NOT respond with kindness, sincerity, apologies, understanding, or respect. Like DH's last REAL talk with her, it was never discussed again. Nothing from his list of what he needed from her was respected. She then gave him the cold-shoulder for four months.

- August 2010 - NMIL's best friend called DH to tell him she "missed him" and "loved him so much." She asked him if he wanted some old television set that he had lended her five years before. There is no doubt she was acting under the orders of NMIL, who was hoping to find out about us through a third party, since she was too busy ignoring us to find out herself.

- October 2010 - 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. SIL ignored us, except when NMIL asked her to take photos of DD with the camera. Then she sat in a chair, robotically carrying out her mothers orders. Neither NMIL, nor SIL could look me in the eye for the entire visit.

- November 2010 - EFIL and L decided that attending a concert was more important to them than DD's first birthday party. They bought tickets for the concert, despite the fact that they were informed three months ahead of time about the party. When we addressed our concerns, both responded with guilt-peddling nonsense and asked us to disrupt our plans for theirs.

- November 2010 - NMIL sent a big bouquet of flowers to DD for her first birthday, as a way of "showing" her puny love. The act did not impress any of us.

- November of 2010 - DH attempted to schedule a visit with SIL. SIL accepted our invitation for lunch. But, once NMIL was through manipulating her, SIL cancelled, stating that she "didn't feel comfortable" going out to lunch with us without her mother.

- November 2010 - DH offered our time to EFIL and L for Thanksgiving. They refused the offer. He asked them to join us in our own festivities. They ignored him. EFIL attempted to guilt-trip DH into promising to spend the upcoming Christmas eve with them, as DH had always done in the past. When DH declined due to the impending birth of our DS, EFIL told him that "The holidays are about family" (as in DH's FOO) and in not-so-many words, showed us that he didn't care about my well-being or the well-being of our babies.

- December 2010 - NMIL and SIL came to the hospital after the birth of our DS and spent all of fifteen minutes with us. The only gifts she brought were a pair of useless baby socks, a useless trinket, and a bag of candy for DH.

- December 2010 - NMIL forfeited her Christmas visit with us when she decided to call DH the day of and blame him for being such a big fat meanie. She tried to get us to change our plans, in the hopes that her guilt-tactics would work.

- December 2010 - NMIL Fed-Exed some gift-cards from Naunt to us and included a note card from herself that said she was holding onto her Christmas gifts for us until she saw us in person. We never saw her in person. She never sent the gifts. We doubt that she ever had any gifts in the first place.

- December 2010 - EFIL and L made an obligatory one-hour visit to us so that they could prove to the world that they had done their "duty." L offered underhanded commentary about how their were "no pictures of NMIL in our wedding album." EFIL asked to take pictures with DH and our two children at the exclusion of me.

- January 2011 - EFIL pretended he wanted to have dinner with us once a week so that he could spy on us and report back to NMIL. He spent his time during his one and only visit with us confusing our one-year-old daughter with our one-month-old son. At some point after the visit, he shared with NMIL DH's travel plans and called DH to suggest his "great idea" that NMIL be involved in them. He informed DH that he speaks with NMIL at least once a month. We all know that they aren't talking about the weather.

- January 2011 - When DH informed EFIL that he would no longer be needing EFIL to give him a ride to the airport, as a result of his continued communication with NMIL, EFIL left a message with DH, asking him "Why he hated his mother so much."

- January 2011 - NMIL chose to ignore my birthday as a clear indication that she either doesn't care enough to remember it in the first place, or that she wanted to send the message to DH that she hates and resents his wife.

- February 2011 - L attempted a guilt-trip on DH for not calling his father for his birthday. She sent her guilt-trip in a voice mail, as well as an email.

- March 2011 - DH offered his mother a golden opportunity. He invited her to therapy with us. Instead of graciously, respectfully, and thankfully accepting, she chose to turn her nose up at it. SIL tweeted, "We're all starting to forget [DH] was ever a part of this family" the day after DH asked his mother to therapy.

- March 2011 - Naunt reared her ugly face in a sappy and superficial email to DH, no doubt attempting to see if he would engage with her, in spite of his most recent request to disrupt his mother's abuses by inviting her to therapy.

- March 2011 - NMIL called to leave a message on our answering machine about the supposed death of DH's childhood cat. The message was superficial and guilt-ridden.

- April 2011 - DH's entire FOO ignored our one-year wedding anniversary.

- April 2011 - NMIL friended DH's college ex-girlfriend on Facebook as a way to show her very public support of DH's life before it included me, and her continued lack of respect for DH's choices.

- April 2011 - DH informed NMIL we were cancelling our therapy session with her. We did not offer any reasons for the cancellation. NMIL responded immediately with a phone call to our house, where she left a message addressing ONLY DH. Then she sent a follow-up email demanding that we call her back. She pretended to ask, but we knew she wasn't.

- April 2011 - I made a heinous discovery about a promise that NMIL had broken a thousand times over. It represented the worst kind of intrusion of my privacy and her complete lack of respect for me as a human being. I can not share what that discovery was, Dear Reader, in case NMIL shows her face here on this blog someday. All anyone must know, however, is that her behaviors towards me were the biggest indication of her feelings, no matter how much she pretended to DH that she "liked" me.

- April 2011 - DH sent his letter of NC to NMIL. She did not respond directly. Instead, she sent out multiple feelers through her Flying Monkeys.

- May 2011 - Attack of the Flying Monkeys! DH and I learned that his best friend's obnoxious girlfriend, OG1, may have had some contact with NMIL and was drinking the kool-aide. OG1 showed her bizarre connection to NMIL when she offered her opinions to DH that he was being controlled by me, he was a coward, and that he was losing people in his life who "really cared about him." She packaged her rant with an "I care about you" bow.

- May 2011 - OG1 excluded me from her wedding invitation in a sign of open contempt to DH, thereby sealing her stance as a Flying Monkey and an all-around disrespectful and rude snob.

- May 2011 - DH's ONLY remaining "friend" from his past refused to stop communicating with NMIL. He had done so in the past on numerous occasions and even felt comfortable enough to go to her holiday parties even when DH wouldn't be attending. This so-called "friend" informed DH that NMIL had contacted him via email twice prior to our wedding "out of desperation." He refused to share with DH what was discussed. This "friend" offered up non-apologies for his behaviors, blamed me for DH's "bad relationship" with his mother, and claimed that "missing important events like NMIL's Christmas parties two years in a row" meant that DH didn't want to reconcile with his NM.

- May 2011 - When EFIL told DH that he wanted to have dinner alone with him and drop off some gifts for our kids, DH's red flags went up. Suspecting foul-play, DH started inquiring into EFIL's intentions, to which EFIL and his wife responded defensively. We believe EFIL wanted to get DH alone to discuss NMIL. Both EFIL and L's behaviors at this time proved to us that they were acting under NMIL's direction, that they had no intention of backing down, that they did not respect me, and did not have DH's best interests at heart. When we called back and put him on speaker phone, he ended the phone call by saying he was "DONE WITH JONSI!" and that he had things he wanted to tell DH that he didn't want me to know about. L attempted her own brand of manipulation when she spoke with DH and I on the phone after her husband's temper tantrum. Our communications with them were very much like conversing with the wall.

- May 2011 - J randomly called DH to "check in" with him.

- June 2011 - EFIL and L put their "Easter gifts" in the mail. The Easter gifts were wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. There were two cards shoved in the box as well. The one to DD read, "Have a very happy first Easter, DD. From Grampa EFIL and Grama L. With all our love, be blessed." The problem with L's message was that it was DD's second Easter, not her first. I wrote a one line thank you note that read: "Thank you for the gifts. -DH & Jonsi."

- June 2011 - EFIL called DH and left the following voice mail: Hey DH, it’s dad. uh I just called to say hi and let you know that I love you very much and I miss talking to you. Ummm call me back if you like, alright? You know the number. Love you. Bye. It was an obvious attempt to get back to the status quo and further proof that he expected a "get out of jail free" card for his most recent behaviors.

- June 2011 - L's daughter, who has no relationship what-so-ever with DH, g-chatted him online to say she wanted to "wish him a belated father's day and ask how the kids were." It was obvious to us that EFIL and L were sending her to do their dirty work. Five minutes later, EFIL sent DH a letter stating how wrong DH is, how disrespectful and controlling I am, and how DH should be accepting God into his life. The letter was filled to the brim with condescension, denial, and tactics of control. DH put his response to that letter in the mail on June 20, 2011.

- June 2011 - DH received an email from his Naunt, a voice mail from his NM's friend Toast, a voice mail from J, and a voice mail from EFIL in regards to his birthday, in spite of his recent request for NC with his NM and just a few days after he sent the response letter in the mail to his EF. Naunt's message was full of her typical guilt-inducing vomit, and Toast sounded like the NMIL incarnate, most likely because she was acting as a puppet for NMIL. In her message, she promised to send us a gift for DS, whom six months after his birth she had still not met. Unsurprisingly, no such gift ever came, as it had many strings attached that we had refused to accept. J's message was obligatory and short. It was unclear, based on EFIL's voice message if he had yet received DH's response letter, but what was clear was his continued effort to guilt/manipulate/con/or otherwise force DH to "come back" to his "blood family." All Flying Monkeys made it very clear that they were going to continue to ignore the very real consequences of their behaviors, as well as the reality that they faced. The onslaught of phoney, insincere, and otherwise manipulative communications made it abundantly clear that DH's FOO cared more about their own needs than DH's.

- June 2011 - DH received two emails from his father on his work email address; the first containing yet another copy of his original letter, the second containing a request that DH "send his response to the letter" via email so that he could "respond to them easier." The smiley face at the end of the second message was not only creepy but begged the question, did EFIL even read what DH had written? That rather ambiguous and odd message was the only even remotely-direct response DH got from his father.

- July 2011 - We sent NSIL a birthday card, and DH called her twice the day of her birthday to leave messages on her voice mail wishing her well. As we expected, there was no acknowledgement from her.

- July 2011 - DH received a voice mail from his EF on his cell phone while he was at work, in which his father expressed his "hope" that DH would "respond to his email" but that it was "up to him" whether or not he did. It was unclear to which email EFIL was referring: his first, containing his long letter to DH, or the second, in which he requested that DH send his own responses back via email. The voice mail made it abundantly clear that he was not going to communicate any further with DH about the issues that had been brought up in either letter. EFIL ended the voice mail under the sentiment that he "loved" DH and he would talk to him later, as though we had no choice in that matter at all.

- July 2011 - DA sent DH an email informing him that NMIL had contacted him via Facebook inquiring about the Jonsi family. DH and I saw NMIL's behaviors as an obvious act of intrusion and a loophole in the laws of NC. DA revealed himself (yet again) as a Flying Monkey, making it very clear that his loyalties did not lie with us. When DH did not respond, he sent another email a few days later informing him that he had gone against DH's previous requests and responded to his NM anyway.

- August 2011 - Out on a date, DH and I bumped into Exhibit A's friend, K.B. She very obviously recognized us but said nothing and DH decided to leave without a confrontation. We imagined the surprise run-in was the talk of the town for a while.

- August 2011 - NMIL directly broke NC when she sent DH an email containing a form letter of amends that she nabbed from Dr. Coleman. It was a typical narcissistic form of communication, bearing no resemblance to an act of unconditional love. Instead, it show that she was empty, barren of empathy, and pathetically lacking in the creativity department.

- August 2011, DA sent DH an email stating, "I'm still here. I still care," implying that because DH had been the one to pull away he was the bad guy.

- August 2011 - I received an invitation in the mail to Brainwashed's baby shower, to which I responded via voice mail to L hat I would not be attending.

- August 2011 - NMIL directly broke NC again when she sent DH an email with a loaded subject line and the message that we could contact her if we needed anything during the hurricane that was about to pummel our state. The message was absurd, both because it was apparent that NMIL would use anything as a means to break NC, and because it was ridiculous to think we would ever call the most unreliable person on earth, whom we had already declared no contact if we needed something.

- September 2011 - DA sent DH another email stating that he had been going through old pictures and that, upon coming across some of DH, he was "hoping all was well with DH and the family." As with everyone that DH had known, DA was no different in his willful ignorance of the situation and of the needs DH had hoped to express.

- October 2011 - NMIL directly broke NC again when she called DH's cell phone (just one hour before I acted on impulse and had his number changed) to tell him about some bad dream she had supposedly had the night before, in which he had the starring role. Whether true or not, I used it as a talking point with DH to discuss how any reason to break NC was a legitimate one for NMIL, no matter how absurd, far-fetched, or ridiculous.

- November 2011 - EFIL and L sent DD a birthday card with a savings bond in it, even though I had asked in years past that if they were going to gift our children with money, that it be cash or check. My wishes had never been regarded before, for any circumstance or for any reason, so it wasn't a surprise that they would overlook that particular preference again. NMIL sent DD another ridiculous bouquet of flowers, which did nothing but give further evidence that she still hoped to impress DH enough for him to contact her; and that she would continue to ignore the fact that we had told her not to contact us again.

- November 2011 - A few days after DD's birthday, we received a phone call from EFIL's cell phone on our house phone, followed by a second phone call from L's cell phone just a few minutes later. They could not leave a message because we had intentionally turned off our answering machine for the holiday season. We never found out what they wanted.

- November 2011 - We received an invitation to EFIL and L's annual Christmas party, the date of which was a day before DS's birthday party. It felt to us that they were acting out of obligation and it smacked, once again, of their impartiality to hearing DH. It was frustrating that more and more time passed since DH's response letter to his father, without any real acknowledgment on EFIL's part on the valid points that DH had made. As determined as we were to be heard, they were equally determined not to hear us. DH and I ignored the invitation, having grown tired of the games they were playing.

- December 2011 - The night before their Christmas party, we received another phone call on our house phone from EFIL, though he could not leave a message because we had still not turned on our answering machine. We imagined that it was in regards to either DS's upcoming birthday, or EFIL's Christmas party invitation that we had not responded to. That same day, the day before DS's birthday, NMIL sent a delivery from the same local flower shop she had used to send DD flowers. It was painfully obvious that she was just continuing to use our children as a reason to contact DH. EFIL and L sent a birthday card and one Christmas card each for DD and DS, a few days after DS's birthday. Each contained more savings bonds and messages that made it clear L wasn't even quite sure how old our children were. NMIL sent our children nothing for Christmas, which was odd considering that she had blatantly disregarded NC in order to send them some shitty and inappropriate birthday gifts but spoke to her dark motives and arbitrary use of our children as pawns (in whatever capacity she was able to use them).

- December 2011 - We received a hand-written note from DA's wife, Freckles, in the mail that saddened me because she was someone I had for a short time considered a friend. In the note, she insinuated that a reconciliation between her husband and mine was inevitable and equated DA's sense of loss over his uncle's death as being equivalent to his sense of apparent loss of DH's friendship. I chose not to respond because I felt it would not be in DH's best interest to do so.

- January 2012 - NMIL directly broke NC yet again when she sent DH an email at his work which contained a lot of information about both her and her daughter's life that we had not expressed any interest in knowing; thereby making it clear that her effort to communicate with him had everything to do with her desires and nothing to do with his.

- January 2012 - More evidence of NMIL directly breaking NC when she sent DH yet another email at his work, this time where the entirety of her message to him was in the subject line. The email read first as a ploy to get his attention: "Is there anything I have that you could possibly want" and second, once again, as a mix of answers to questions he was not asking. With the vague offer of use of her timeshare over the summer that came with obvious and endless strings-attached, DH and I were very aware that there was no way in hell we would ever accept such a proposition. As my very Dear Friend Upsi put it, "Is everything barter-able in her world? Timeshare for love?"

- January 2012 - EFIL and L sent me an absolutely cruel card for my birthday that sent the clear message that they see me as the enemy. It labeled me controlling and spoke to their need to paint me as some sort of "picture-nazi." It was no more a birthday wish than sending someone a bag of flaming shit on their birthday, but the message it contained was just as toxic.

- February 2012 - EFIL sent DH a scathing (and poorly written) email which was framed as a "loving" message yet contained nothing but guilt-inducing drivel and harsh putdowns. In it, he intentionally spelled my name wrong (thereby passive-aggressively acknowledging DH's letter to him from several months before where one of the points DH had made was that his father didn't care enough to spell my name correctly) and briefly illustrated the kinds of physical abuses he and his wife had suffered, supposedly as being clear evidence that DH could not have been abused. The message was a loaded one and it strengthened the line in the sand between us and them - he declared war on us, claiming that DH had "made us their enemies."

- March 2012 - (Are we surprised?) NMIL directly broke NC again when she sent another email to DH at his work, again including the entirety of her message in the subject line, as was her new M.O. The message indicated that "time flies!" and included trivial and dishonest sentiments about our well-being. It also included an ad for NSIL's yearbook that we didn't give a shit about but that managed to subtly take a dig at DH's place in his NM's life. It was a reminder to DH of what he was "missing" out on and a way of sending the message that they are only proud of the loyal offspring who continue to worship NMIL and do her bidding. I was struck by the notion that NMIL was keeping her finger in the pie, just in case DH were to "come back" to them. She continued her obnoxious and toxic game of willful ignorance with each correspondence.

- May 2012 - Another email from NMIL to DH's work email, with the entirety of the message in the subject line and nothing but fluff in the body; inviting us to NSIL's graduation.

- June 2012 - Another email from NMIL, this one with the over-the-top proclamation that she was wishing him a happy birthday. Indeed.

- August 2012 - Expecting more attacks from his parents and growing tired of the constant barrage of emails there, DH and I sat down and set up his work email so that we could block emails from undesirable sources coming through. If anyone from his FOO attempted to send emails after that, we are unaware of them.

- October 2012 - DH received a letter at work from his Naunt. The envelope was addressed to him but the letter inside addressed the both of us. It was an invitation to both his cousin's graduation and one guilt-trip. We put a "return to sender" sticker on the envelope and sent it back, unopened.

- November 2012 - EFIL showed up at our house, unannounced and unwelcome, under the guise of dropping off a gift for DD's birthday. DH wouldn't find out until the next day that EFIL had left a message o his work phone informing him that he would be coming to our house that night. After asking him to leave several times, I finally had to threaten to call the police when he would not comply. As soon as the police were mentioned, he was off the porch and back in his car in seconds. The gift he dropped off contained a stuffed animal and an envelope with the message, "Happy Birthday DD...we have started a savings account for you." Both the invasion of our home territory and the intended message of the "gift" were clear: EFIL and L had no intentions of backing down, addressing the obvious issues between us, respecting our needs, or treating us with any kind of caring, consideration, or respect. The monetary gift was about two things and two things only: power and control. Fed up with their constant overstepping of boundaries and apparent disregard for our desire for authenticity, we took pictures of the "gifts" as evidence, then "responded" by shredding up the birthday card, put it in an envelope and sending it back to them in the mail. Our message to them was a resounding NO: no to the guilt-tactics, no to the manipulation, no to the blood money. We wanted nothing to do with any of it.

- November 2012 - After the showdown on our front porch, EFIL again called DH at work later that night, leaving a voice mail where he complained to DH that I had treated him poorly and that I had given no valid reason for doing so. He insinuated that I had no right to ask him to leave or to threaten him with the police, and he flat-out said that DH had no valid reasons to have cut off contact with his FOO.

- November 2012 - Just a few days later, J showed up on our doorstep demanding entry into our house and refusing to leave because DH wouldn't hear him out. The message he brought was that NSIL was in the hospital for attempted suicide. The police were called and a report was filed; J was informed that we could have him arrested if he ever came back. I believe that J's purpose in coming was not merely to inform DH of the news, but in fact to make an attempt at blaming and shaming DH back into his old role as substitute father and emotional care-taker for his sister.

- November 2012 - The same night that J showed up, NSIL called DH on his work phone after hours and left a vague message about how she was in the hospital because "something happened" and with the promise to keep the phone call to him a secret from their NM. It was unclear whether she had been manipulated into calling him or what her true motives were for the call.

- November 2012 - EFIL left yet another voice mail message for DH on his work phone, this one more threatening than the previous two. In it, he acknowledged his receipt of the ripped-up birthday card and expressed his intention to stalk my husband for all eternity.

- November 2012 - We sent official letters of NC to EFIL and L and J, via certified mail with return receipt indicating in no uncertain terms that they were never to contact us again in any way, shape, or form, and that doing so could result in legal action on our part. Both letters were signed for and received by the intended recipients.

- November 2012 - Congruent to the letters of NC he was sending to EFIL and L and J, DH also sent out a letter to NSIL, containing reading material he'd hoped she would read and the sentiment that he cared about her but would not be responsible for saving her. He sent it to her via email as well as via snail mail to the hospital in which she was staying. He made multiple attempts to get these messages to her but due to the circumstances, we were not sure whether she got the letter and we attempted to have it forwarded on to her residence though there was less of a guarantee that she'd get it there if it fell into NMIL's hands. It still remains unclear whether she ever received the original letter, as she never directly acknowledged it.

- November 2012 - During the hours prior to NSIL's departure for the mental hospital where she'd stay for two weeks as part of her treatment for her mental disorders, NSIL again called DH's work phone several times both during and after business hours. She did not leave any messages, but the sheer volume of her attempts to reached him spoke to some kind of desperation on her part. DH and I are uncertain what, exactly, she wanted or what she would have said had she made contact. We do find it odd that, if she was so insistent in her attempts to reach him, she wouldn't leave a message. Couldn't have been that important, if she wasn't willing to say it to his voice mail, thereby basically ensuring that he would get it.

- November 2012 - A few days before Thanksgiving, DH received a delayed letter from NSIL, that she had written while in a mental hospital where she was being treated for her attempted suicide. The letter was an emotional sucker-punch to the gut, wherein she blamed DH for all of her physical and emotional issues and tried to blame and shame him into letting his inner "childhood nickname" out again. Both DH and I worked on responses to that letter for several days. When we were satisfied with our responses, we attempted to contact her via email informing her that we had already tried once to contact her using several mediums, and that we had a response to her letter that we were putting in the mail and which we'd send to her in email form if she was interested. She responded only to say that she had never received anything from him before and wanted to know if it had been sent to her home address. We responded that yes, it had. She did not directly respond again, either via email or snail mail. We had no confirmation that she ever read any of our correspondence. We only know that NMIL signed for the package delivered by certified mail which contained both a letter from DH and a much shorter note from me.

- November 2012 - NSIL's only "response" to both DH's and my attempts to communicate was the following, which she tweeted just a few weeks before shutting down her Twitter account: "It is so strange to me that my brother is literally a different person completely...and evil and insane and I will never talk to again." Whether she got our messages or not, it was clear that she was not interested in the kind of help, love, or support we were offering.

- December 2012 - Both DH and I experienced a security breach on our blogs when an anonymous commenter with indisputable ties to NMIL and NSIL left messages containing our real identities as well as the personal and somewhat bloated opinion that I was leaving cyber crumbs that would eventually lead NMIL and Co. to our blogs. The self-important Anon also managed to insinuate that I was crazy, that both DH and I were cruel for "dissecting" NSIL, and that I am a bully. DH and I removed the identifiers in the commentary and published it alongside our individual analyses. 

- December 2012 - Just a few weeks after having received out letters of NC, EFIL and L sent both DD and DS Christmas cards (and DS an additional card for his birthday) containing more attempts to induce guilt and the repeated messages that they had opened up a savings account for each of them. This move was in obvious contempt of our recent request for NC and spoke very clearly to their (ever-present) desire to control. Everything and everyone.

- December 2012 - Our blogs were discovered by several members from NMIL's camp who carefully combed through our entire blogs and continue to check in almost every day.

- January 2013 - I discovered, on a relatively obscure internet article, a comment left by someone by the name of "Sara" that contained both my real name and a link to my anonymous blog. We suspected foul play, as the message seemed to have come from a non-friendly source, rather than someone who meant well.

- February 2013 - In an attempt to battle the demons of his past, and bearing in mind the knowledge that we had already been discovered, DH sent an email to none other than Exhibit A which contained an invitation for her to read the truths on our blogs. She did not respond directly, but she did make her twitter account private a few days later, which lead us both to believe that she understood the directive and was intimidated by it.

Talking Turds Are Bullies

My sisterfriend Vanci McPantsy wrote a post the other day titled, "Bullies Are Talking Turds" that got me thinking (as all her posts generally do). In the post, she discussed how both she and her youngest daughter are handling the issue of bullying. If you've never read the works of Miss McPantsy, I highly recommend you check it out because she exudes a sense of peace, generosity, and calm even while she talks about some really, really tough subjects (like bullies, and narcissists, and the abuse that she and her loved ones endured at the hands of her FOO). McPantsy is a gentle soul and she moves mountains with her words.

So, her post sparked a great conversation with DH last night, in which we discussed our high school experiences and how our vision may have changed in the years since we graduated. We discussed the context of the choices we'd made in our teens and what our interpersonal skills looked like at the time. Last night, after re-reading Vanci's post, I turned to DH and asked, "DH, did you enjoy high school?" Who would have thought that question might spark a two-hour long conversation? (Well, besides me, that is. I sometimes think I'm not capable of holding a conversation that's LESS than a half hour in length). Our debate got lively pretty quick because DH couldn't seem to answer me. I chuckled as he stood there pondering the question, mostly because it's been over ten years since he graduated high school and I had figured that would have been plenty of time to lump the memory of that particular experience into a "mostly good" or "mostly bad" category.

So I tried asking him another way, "If you had to go back in time and re-live your high school experience over again, for an indefinite length of time, with the knowledge you have now, would you enjoy it? Would you make different choices?" For a while, we laid out the rules of this hypothetical world: He'd be forced back in time, for an unknown length of time, with the body of his, say, fifteen-year-old self, but with the knowledge and experiences of his present. He'd also be living with his NM again and would not have the means (mostly financial) to extract himself from that living situation. (Scary, I know). Bearing those thoughts in mind, DH imagined such a scenario and tried to work through how differently he would see the world. He said he would still date his high school girlfriend, mostly because she was one of the few who had not seemed to fall under his NM's thumb at the time, which was an intriguing concept. He would still play sports, but he would avoid Pig and Double Agent in those endeavors and would no longer be friends with them. He was not sure whether he would yet have the skills to be able to avoid developing relationships with people who meant him harm, but he knew that he would, at the very least be able to avoid people his present-self has already labeled "dangerous" or "harmful." We tried to imagine what it would look like for him to have to live with his NM again, and that was a very difficult task; mostly because we both know that it would be impossible for him to survive using the same tactics he'd used originally, but that she would never "allow" him to achieve independence in any way. That, my friends, is a topic for another day.

For the time being, DH and I stuck to the specific topic of high school and the various experiences directly linked to it. Now as for me, I've had a clear opinion about my teenage years since my years living as one; and my opinions have not really changed that much over time. In her post, Vanci talked about bullies, specifically the ones we (all) encounter in high school, and how subtle they can be in their attacks:  

How does one protect a child from the asshole sitting next to her in Math who makes snide comments to the rest of the teens in the class about her breast size?  He didn't touch her, after all, he didn't call her a racial epithet and he wasn't even directly speaking to her .  What's punishable there?...How does one protect a child from the little twit who makes it a point to invite an entire established circle of friends to a party but excludes her?  And then talks about said shindig at length and within intentional earshot?  It's not as if a police report can be filed for Willful Exclusion from a Private Social Function with Aggravated Flaunting.

What Vanci described so well has probably happened to everyone at some time or another, and will surely happen to our children too. No one is immune to it because there is always someone out there, utterly lacking in self-esteem, who gets off on cutting other people down, with no greater purpose in life than to cause pain. Who are bullies? Bullies are bored, boring, aggressors who are driven by their own unrelenting desire to separate, subjugate, and conquer both those they consider "weak" and those they consider "better-than." They exaggerate their nothingness to prove a point. They want to "look" bigger than they are, stronger than they are, smarter than they are. And personally, I think the hardest kind to catch are the ones just like Vanci described: the ones who stand behind the girl they are most threatened by and pretend to "snip-snip" her long hair; the ones who pass notes around the class about her and leave them in a place she'll be sure to find; the ones who whisper whisper behind their books every once in a while, but only when the teacher is not looking. It's a kind of subtle bullying - it's not right out in the open and it's not covert, so what is anyone in a position of authority going to do about it?

When I think about high school, I remember a brief time in which I was bullied; in which I felt that I didn't have enough friends (because social standards said "more is better than less"); in which "different" was a very, very bad word and it was a struggle to find a place to "fit in." I remember both yearning to fit in, but also being decidely happy that I didn't - because mostly, I didn't like those people I was supposed to be fitting in with. They were ignorant, or rude, or cruel, or stupid, or pathetic, or creepy, or vapid, or immature. I didn't want to be like them, I wanted to be like me. I just wanted to be happy with who "me" was. That was my biggest struggle.

So DH and I talked about that. I told him that, though I would have thought he was quite the hunk (ohmygod, that guy over there is so cute!) I would have been disgusted in his choice of friends and his immaturity (but look who he's hanging out with). I would have had no time for his social-fluidity - I would have seen his group of friends as a very real reflection of who he was and walked in the opposite direction. Because I didn't like his friends, not a one. And who he was when he was with them was ugly. When I look back on my time in high school, that was largely what I remember: the cliques and the gossip and the annoying judgments passed by our teachers who insinuated we hadn't yet made it to the "real world" - an idea I had always rejected and took great offense to because I didn't like the implication that our world, though quite different from there own and perhaps not bearing as many responsibilities, was any less real. I had always been the kind of student, the kind of girl, the kind of person to stand up and say, "Excuse me, but this isn't right." I said "no" to authority figures when I thought it was necessary, and I was often the only one. My friends counted on me, when the rules seemed unfair, to speak up for them. And I did. But it wasn't easy.

My experience with high school was quite different than DH's: I largely did not enjoy it because I had already realized that my world in high school wouldn't be all that much different than my world outside of it. I'd go to college with the same people, I'd get a job with the same people, I'd live on a street with the same people, my kid's would go to school with the same people. The bullies and the creepy clowns and the assholes. They're out there, they are always out there. Those people sucked then and they suck now and they'll suck when they're attempting to bully our children too. But like Vanci, I'm trying to teach my kids how to handle them; how to look at them and say, "That is nothing more than a talking turd and it can't hurt me." And those teachings have already started: Hey kids, see that woman? That's DH's NM, and she's a talking turd. Let's just step over her and keep right on going."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Roger That

I consider the following to be evidence that Exhibit A not only received DH's recent email, but that she felt threatened by the truth within it: Sometime, either late last night or early this morning, she made her tweets private and I know without a doubt that it was in direct relation to DH's message.

Well, Hallelujah friends. She got the message. Whether or not she accepts the invitation to have a dialog about her thoughts on what either one of us has to say is up in the air, but I'm content just knowing that our statement has been received. Some of my satisfaction is due, in part, to the unconscious desire I had to take the devil by the horns; for it wasn't truly Exhibit A personally we were after, but what she stands for. And now we can say we've done that: we've offered our truths to an entity that is mindfully ignorant on it's best day, and maliciously cruel on it's worst. Exhibit A is a fair representation of DH's past - a past he will have to fight off for the rest of his life.

I don't know how long she'll keep that shit under wraps - my guess is she's too narcissistic to keep it that way for long (you know, there's not much attention to be garnered from an account that's closed off from the entire world) but I just want to say that I count this as a big fat win in my book: short of her actually voicing an opinion to one of us directly, that was about the closest thing to confirmation that we could have gotten. She knows we've seen her and more importantly, she knows we've seen through her. Add to that the fact that she's now contained her noxious verbal vomit to the confines of her friends list and I'd say we've got a double win on our hands, not so much because she's likely to keep that shit private forever, but because she felt intimidated by our truths enough to privatize it at all.

Is she going to take a direct bite here? Doubtful. Instead, I'm sure she's out there whispering behind her hands and talking shit on her now private twitter account about whatever it is she thinks is going on here. Gossip is what she does best, after all. When it comes to conflict resolution, like NMIL, there is none to be had. In fact, her response to DH's invitation was very reminiscent of the way NSIL responded to her invitation from DH not too long ago. DH invited both of these girls to see his truth for themselves and they both openly ignored him. With NSIL, we had clear and visible proof of exactly what she thought of his attempt to communicate. With Exhibit A, I'm certain her [vapid] thoughts are not far off that mark. And, as with any fart in the wind, each thought she entertains stinks up the air for a few seconds and then quickly passes us by. And just that quick, she'll go back to pretending like this whole thing never happened; deceitfully blissful in her self-induced emotional coma. In fact, I propose that she already has. She couldn't very well admit to her cronies that any of this is actually true. That would just shatter her image.

And what I feel I need to say now is that I'm at peace. I am at peace with the idea that this bitch is never going to step up to the plate in order to have a conversation on our terms. I am at peace with the knowledge that they will continue talking their shit until the end of time because they have nothing better to do. I am at peace with the chance that the entire cast of characters from DH's past will never stop pretending that their old pal DH-the-Doormat is still in there somewhere and that he'll come out someday if they can just free him from the dungeon I must surely have him locked up in. I am at peace with the fact that it is not my job to talk sense into the senseless or reason with those who cannot be reasoned with. I feel our declaration has been delivered and duly noted. As with all the narcissists we've ever attempted to communicate with, what Exhibit A does with it is her prerogative.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tie Me To The Hitchens Post

"If someone tells me that I've hurt their feelings, I say, I'm still waiting to hear what your point is.

In this country, I've been told 'that's offensive' as if those two words constitute and argument or a comment. Not to me they don't.

And I'm not running for anything, so I don't have to pretend to like people when I don't."
- Christopher Hitchens

I admire this man. I love his work. I love his words.