Advice to a Friend

How do you prove a negative?  A professor once told me that you can’t… that to engage in such a debate will make you look insane. Let me ask you another question on this fine evening … how do you prove you’re not crazy? I get it.  We’re all a little weird. It’s just a matter of how high our freak flag flies. The problem is when someone describes you in a way that you can’t effectively disprove.

Usually, the purveyor of perceived personality problems is a narcissist … we’ve all encountered them, whether a colleague, boss, family member, significant other, an ex, and in this day and age, political figures.  If you think you can beat them at their own game, you’re wrong. It’s what they do, and they are really good at it. They have perfected their art. The only way to win is to not play.

You see, the worst part is, the more you try to defend yourself, the crazier you sound.

They’ll idly complain to their friends, “I was late coming home after work and she flipped out on me, started calling me all kinds of names.”  Well, that sounds like you are certifiably nuts with an out of control temper, right?  He won’t tell the rest of the story, though: he was late every day for a week, and you found his social media open with a stream of inappropriate messages to a coworker discussing their ongoing relationship and the so-called “dates” they’d been on that week.  Yet, when you try and explain this, you sound like a stalker with jealousy issues. Turning a situation like this around on the innocent party is a manipulation tactic. It’s a power play. It’s gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a favorite ploy among narcissists to control their victims.  It’s an abusive tactic that causes self-doubt, making the victim question their own memory and even reality.  Sadly, it works all too well. The term Gaslight comes from a film of the same name where a husband gradually made his wife think she was crazy.  Among the ploys he used was to constantly tell her friends and family that she was nuts, sowing the seeds of doubt and thereby giving her nowhere to turn.  Narcissists use gaslighting effectively in relationships and are usually unable to let go after the relationship ends.

Their need to control the narrative extends to their social circle, but it’s not enough to get others to believe your crazy. The successful gaslighter will make you question your own sanity.  Nothing sounds crazier than a sane person who has been driven to think he or she is insane fighting to prove they are, in fact, sane.

There isn’t really a way to argue the point without adding to it.  No matter what you say, you will sound insane. Which is kind of the point.

“I’m not crazy.”

“I never did that, I swear.”

“That’s not what (or, how) it happened.”

“He’s the crazy one.”

“I never said that.”

“Everyone wears tinfoil on their heads when using a microwave.”

Gaslighting in a relationship is very real, and make no mistake, it is a commonly used form of emotional abuse.  If your partner is making you feel that you can’t do anything, that you can’t accomplish anything, that you have no friends, that you have to walk on egg shells to keep from being criticized, or that maybe, just maybe, you really are crazy, let me be clear – get out. It won’t get better; these people are the sick ones, not you.  If you feel like you have no confidence around your partner, that you are never right, and that nothing you say will matter anyway, something is wrong. Love should build you up, not tear you down or make you feel less than.

Get Out.  Now.  If you need help, call a hotline.  Not all abuse leaves physical bruises you can see; some leaves a lingering scar on your mind and spirit.

Maybe you are a little crazy, like putting ketchup on pancakes crazy.  Our nutty quirks keep life fun.  If you are the victim of a sanity smear campaign, though, just let it go.  The only way to win this game is to not play.  Don’t drive yourself crazy proving you aren’t.

As for the tinfoil hat and the microwave?  I may or may not believe that alien technology radiates from the microwave on the “high setting.”   The voices in my head said so, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

Holiday Rationale

I got my annual, end-of-the-year fuck you “how ya’ doing” text from the ex today. He just wanted to let me know that everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of the entire world is still my fault. You know, in case you were wondering. Bless his heart. It’s just not the holiday season without this festive assault on my self-esteem.

I keep thinking to myself that one of these days I should write a cathartic, tell-all book, and then wouldn’t all hell break loose?  In the meantime, in a strange sort of way, I look forward to this unsolicited, if not predictable, bitchfest communiqué. It reminds me that all is right with the world.

Until recently, I had a personal trifecta, of sorts, in December … Christmas, my birthday, and my wedding anniversary, all three occurring within a week’s time.  I’m sure that the latter — or memory thereof — is in part responsible for my ex’s strict adherence to his twisted tradition.

I still have my trifecta … only it’s Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s Eve. And I’m good with that. Great, in fact.

Only now, apparently, I’ve reached the age … or mentality … where going out to celebrate anything is overrated. It’s just not worth navigating the roads or the overcrowded parking lots of bars that are as equally overcrowded, not to mention loud.

I could claim that having attained a certain level of maturity (Remember?? I did mention my birthday right off the top… ) allows me to reflect on the fact that I don’t really need the hustle and bustle of the pub scene or a fancy dinner at a restaurant with cocktails after in order to enjoy this trifecta of holidays. I could say that the exorbitant amount of money I would no doubt throw away on libations and obligatory feast would be better spent elsewhere. I could even explain that drinking followed by the carnival ride that is the commute through my neighborhood is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.

There are so many valid reasons for my lack of celebratory motivation.

The fact that there is a week-long Doctor Who marathon currently airing on BBC America is completely irrelevant. Irrelevant, I tell you! Now, where the hell’s my remote!?

the words every nerd girl wants to hear …

 

 

Science – 1, Mother – 0

I apologize for yet another round of radio silence on my part. To say this past week has been crazy is the biggest understatement of all understatements.

My family thrives on chaos and stress apparently, and, never to be outdone by my kids it would seem, my mother has done her share this past week to give me even more grey hairs. I really should have taken stock in Clairol back when my kids were growing up. Who knew my mother would eventually add to my investment regret.

Anywho, my dear little 75-year-old mother decided to test the physics of gravity last weekend … it seems she really wasn’t convinced in the science of it all. To that end, she tried to take a flying leap in her kitchen and instead just fell, like a lead balloon. While she called it an experiment for the greater good, I think walking simply isn’t her forte.

Instead of calling 911, she called me. I guess she just wanted me to join the party or perhaps she thought I’d be the one to help her suppress the results of her ill-fated experiment. Ever on the science-y side of things, I figured this was a job for the superheroes of the medical field. Da-da-da-dahhh!

After a quick ambulance ride and a not so quick fun-filled visit to the ER, I brought her home to her comfy recliner and there she sat for a few days. Or at least, that’s where I tried to keep her without actually tying her down (I was told that was elderly abuse).

It’s been a few days now and while she’s still sore and sporting some really very interesting bruises, she’s on the mend, I’m glad to say. Meanwhile, I’m back at my place content to regularly check in to make sure she’s still upright.

I just got a phone call from her this afternoon. She signed up for dance lessons. God help me. I can feel the grey hairs sprouting as I write.

 

So, What Do You Like To Do?

So, I will admit that I have been dipping my toe once again into the online dating world (don’t judge). After a dismal first attempt a while back, I thought, what the hell? I’m a glutton for punishment, might as well give it another whirl.

Well, I have learned so much about the new face of dating, and I have to say that I miss the “good old days.”  To say that things have changed just a bit is a massive understatement. However, I’m remaining hopeful that my dream guy will come along.  He’d better hurry up, though, before I join the convent and swear off guys forever. Why this harsh stance, you ask? Let me explain.

It seems that the new trend in “dating” has nothing to do with dating, exactly, and involves getting right to the point … if you get my point. Long gone are the days of sharing life stories, getting to know one another, moving slowly to the finish line.  More often than not, the first messages sent by a potential match pretty much sum up everything you need to know about them, and what you need to know, apparently, is the not-so-subtle art of “sexting.”

In my experiences so far with online matchmaking, I have found that “long walks on the beach and reading a book by firelight” is no longer the right answer to the question, “So, what do you like to do?”  Quite frankly, it’s hard to know what to expect; there is such a fine line between “oh, you know, normal stuff” and “well, I don’t want to get in to specifics, but it involves three live chickens, trash bags, oil, and a copy of the New York Times.”

Also, “send me a pic” means something entirely different than what I thought.  Thinking it was an innocuous request, when one guy ask me for a pic, I sent him three: one of me posing in front of Epcot Center in Disneyland, one with me hugging the mascot of my daughter’s school at a basketball game, and one of me with my cats (I figured he may as well know what he was getting into).  He replied with question marks, a confused emoji, and a picture of… things that I cannot un-see. Speaking of which, just how are you supposed to respond to these unsolicited pics? A thank you? A show of pity? A simple ewwww?

But I digress …

Now, I am not a prude by any means, but neither am I fourteen, hiding in my closet and giggling over dirty limericks.  What am I wearing?  A fuzzy bathrobe, mismatched socks, and a baseball cap; you can’t handle this much woman, dude.  Don’t tell me the things you want to do to me, tell me how you would come over to vacuum, take out the trash, and do the dishes.  And oh yeah, you’re bringing cheesecake. THAT is how to successfully sext a woman.

For myself, I can’t even think about sexting without picturing an old lady in her kitchen, sitting on a red lacquered bar stool hunkered up by the avocado green rotary wall phone, dressed in her comfy stained housecoat with her hair in curlers, fuzzy slippers and white socks against unshaven legs that would rival a bear’s upon emerging from hibernation, cigarette hanging out of her mouth, a Joe’s Diner coffee cup in one hand and the phone’s handset in the other, saying “Oh, baby, oh baby” – in that sexy, raspy 30-years-of-smoking-cigarettes-induced voice – to some paying customer on the other end of the line for just $3.99 a minute.

My version of sexting hasn’t gone over very well so far, either. “Oh, I want you like I want the new Dyson cordless vac, baby.”  “I’m wearing my favorite sweatshirt, the one without the stain on the front.” “I’m ready to spend the perfect night together, just be quiet because my shows are on.”

I haven’t entirely given up on finding “the one” via new-fangled means. I mean, who knows what might happen?  If I ever find a guy who answers, “what do you like to do?” with “binge old movies and eat cheesecake” and sends me an unsolicited dog pic, I’ll know he’s a keeper.

 

A Good Man

A good man died yesterday. I may write more about this another time, when the wound isn’t still fresh, isn’t still deep. In fact, I’m sure I will. It’s important to acknowledge the passing of a good man. To raise one’s voice to the universe and give thanks for the time one had with him.

The best portion of a good man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. 

– William Wordsworth

dad in his element

Relationship Goals

I apologize for the radio silence for the past couple of days. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, cancer sucks. In fact, fuck cancerand all of the insidious little ways it steals away your loved ones, even while they’re still here. No, it’s not me … but rather, my dad.  I may go into a long-winded rant about that another time. For today, seeing him and my mother together this past week (my whole life really, but especially in recent times of severe stress), I feel as though I might could be persuaded to dip a toe back into the dating pool yet again in an effort to find the kind of loyalty and love that my parents share. Yeah, yeah, I know my luck in that area has been less than stellar, but who knows? Maybe one of these times, it’ll all be worthwhile.

To that end, I found this nifty profile description that is really quite apt. Whatcha think? Is honesty really the best policy? Seriously though, if that special someone won’t share rainy days spent in our PJs while drinking God knows what and binge watching Netflix, are they really the one for me?