Saturday, June 27, 2015

It's Been A Really Long Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Magnetic To The Corruptible

"All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible."

-Frank Herbert, Dune

This. This is exactly right.