Adios, 2016!

Or “Good riddance!”, as so many of my friends have shrieked at the top of their lungs, or typed IN ALL CAPS on social media, whichever the case may be. Okay, yeah, I get it, sort of. Your favorite celebrity died, your preferred politician didn’t win, or your team lost their Big Game!  It’s HORRIBLE! It’s the end of the world as we know it! Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

I could go off on everything that was bad about 2016 easily enough. I could sob over still not finding a ‘traditional’ publisher for my novels. I could bemoan the fact that online sales suck and that I’ve typed my fingers to bloody stumps asking for folks to at least post reviews. I could go off on a tangent about how unfair it is that people who have held a very good paying job for 5+ years can’t afford to buy a house while other people who haven’t worked a lick in that same period of time get all these special treatments when it comes to housing. There’s a rant out there about a-hole bosses who take advantage of their employees to the point that they are driven to physical illness and end up having to quit a job they otherwise loved. I could cry over the deaths of a myriad of celebrities that I liked. I could cuss and stomp my feet over the unfairness of our elections. I could begrudge how the Carolina Panthers lost the Super Bowl and that the Cleveland Indians didn’t win the World Series. But, I’m not going to do that, because I’m an optimist and I’m pretty sick and tired of hearing the “Apocalypse Is Nigh” from every other person on Facebook. I refuse to be one of ‘those people’.

Instead, I’m going to look at 2016 as the year I made more progress on my writing career, with or without the advantages a publishing house could give me. I’d love to have help with advertising and promotions and setting up signings, readings, and sales. I could be a lot further ahead of the game if I had all that, sure, but I don’t. I did the best I could with what I DO have. I did a Book Club talk and I had three signing events where turnout was good and sales were more than I’d actually imagined they’d be. That’s more than I’ve ever had before and I’m truly grateful. I made some new friends and got some great advice and some much appreciated help from far more successful writers than I.

I got remarried! That’s pretty darned awesome. I met a man against a whole lot of odds who was willing to pretty much give up his whole life 1400+ miles away and move up to this Arctic Backwoods Wasteland so we could be together. After living together for almost three years, we tied the knot on a beautiful day in August down by my parent’s pond with an amazing view of the valley below. It was small, only forty people, simple, and very casual and laid back. I’m not even going to mention those few things that didn’t happened perfectly as planned because they don’t matter. The end result is the same.

Life has been very good to me and mine in 2016. Most of the time things went how we hoped. Sometimes, not so much, but at the end of it all, we are happy. We have a place to live, food to eat, and warm clothes for winter. We have family and friends that love us, support us, and encourage us with our dreams. We have love. We have happiness. We have hope.

That’s how I’m ending 2016 and that’s how I’m going to enter 2017.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2016 so amazing! May you all have a wonderful and prosperous new year!

Surviving Narcissism & Why Karma Won’t Work

There has been an odd influx of articles about Narcissism posted by friends of mine on Facebook over the past couple months. It seems dealing with these mentally ill monstrosities that pass themselves off as “normal” human beings is a lot more common than I thought. It’s good to know I am not alone. I find it empowering to know I have friends I can talk to about this who will know exactly where I’m coming from on the subject. I was lucky enough to escape a seven year relationship with a narcissist about five years ago. It derailed my trust in others for a while, but I’m happy to report the train is back on its track and I’m returning to the person I was before this madness all happened.

Wikipedia defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as “a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others.”

At PsychoCenter.com they state, “Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. … People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician.”

Those are great definitions, but they really don’t come close to describing what it’s really like to be involved in a relationship with someone who has NPD. Truth of the matter is, you’re likely not going to know until it’s too late. I had no idea there was such a thing as NPD until after I was out of the relationship. The first time I read about it I was stunned. Why had I never heard of this before? The stories and descriptions I read fit the man I’d been with all those years perfectly! It helped me finally get answers to the questions I’d been asking since it all came crumbling down, why? Why had this happened? Why had he done this? Were all the things he told me about how he felt and the things he did that appeared to be founded in love a lie? Did he ever really love me? How can someone be so cruel, heartless, and unfeeling? Had I done something wrong?

No, I had done absolutely nothing wrong. Yes, every word he said and every deed he performed to convince me he loved me was fake; a lie, to get what he wanted out of the relationship. He wanted the control. He wanted to be the one to decide what was what. When things didn’t go his way, it was everyone’s fault but his own. He was full of rage towards anyone that did not agree with his philosophy. He was right. Everyone else was wrong. The only time he was happy was when he could prove himself right or could use his intelligence to manipulate people into agreeing with him. Oh, yes, he is a very intelligent man. Make no mistake about it. Most narcissists are very smart people. They know exactly what they are doing – they just don’t care who it hurts in the process. They are incapable of empathy.

My anger and confusion has dwindled over the past five years, but I’d be lying to say I didn’t wish all sorts of nastiness to befall this man. I prayed Karma would kick his sorry ass to the curb more than I care to admit. I hoped he’d suffer the pain he’d dished out to me, my family, and Lord knows how many others. I know, we aren’t supposed to pray or wish for bad things like that, but damn it – I’m guilty as charged, but I doubt that Karma is going to do any such thing and here’s why.

Lady With A Truck recently posted an article on her blog about this very topic called, “Law Of Attraction and Why The Narcissist Seems Immune to Karma”. It makes a whole lot of sense to me. In a nutshell, Karma doesn’t work on a Narcissist because they have no sense of doing anything wrong. It’s believed that Karma and the Law of Attraction works based on some sort of ‘vibration’ level. The more positive the feeling, the higher the vibration and the more positive the Karma. Things like love, joy, peace and gratitude give off high vibes. Shame, guilt, fear, and anger give off low vibes. If that’s the case then how does that nasty, manipulative narcissist escape Karmic retribution when their whole life is devoted to hurting others for their own gain and that they don’t even feel love, joy, peace, or gratitude?

To quote from Lady With A Truck’s blog,”…the narcissist does not believe he is bad, he feels justified in the things he does, he does not fear anyone, nor is he ashamed, or feel guilty and even his anger he blames on someone else. The law of attraction doesn’t know if what it is attracted to is a lie or not, it responds to the vibrational level of the person. If that person is sick and has a distorted view of their value whether that distortion is good or bad, they will attract the vibration they send out to the world.”

What about love? Again, Lady With A Truck seems to have stumbled upon a theory that makes a whole lot of sense. She writes, “The narcissist’s brain is wired differently than a normal person so when he meets a new victim his brain releases the same chemicals our brains do when we meet someone who we think we could love, only he is excited because he sees a source of things he wants. He acts much like a person in love, but what he is drawn to is the prospect of being able to suck in another prey and bleed them dry. It is intoxicating to the narcissist much like love is intoxicating to a normal person.”

I really think she is on to something here, unless you go with the idea that Karma is set into action by a Higher Intelligent Being (aka God). Surely, a benevolent, All-Knowing God would be able to tell the difference between real love and false love, right? Maybe it’s a combination of the two. I don’t know. I’d still like to believe those who have NPD will be paid back somehow.

On the positive side, you can chose, as I did, to not be the victim once you realize what’s going on. During the period between this realization that I was with a very, very not-nice-at-all-person and the time he moved out, I treated him as if he were completely invisible. I did not speak to him or acknowledge his presence or existence unless absolutely necessary. It was a very uncomfortable few weeks. He got nothing from me. I put up the biggest, thickest emotional wall I could between the two of us. I admit, I smiled when I saw his pathetic post on Facebook during this time, “I think I know what if feels like to be a ghost.”

After he left, if he emailed me about things he’d left behind, he got the shortest possibly response. The freedom and joy I felt with his departure was intoxicating!! That is not to say I wasn’t emotionally hurt. My trust in others was shattered. It’s been almost five years now and I am happy to report that trust is coming back into my life slowly but surely. The wall is crumbling. I have a wonderful life filled with love, joy, and appreciation.

My hatred and rage has turned to pity. I feel sorry for that man. He’ll never know what REAL love and happiness feels like, ever. As for Karma and the Laws of Attraction, I have faith he will be rewarded in due time. When, by who or what or how it happens isn’t my concern. Enough of my time and negative energy was wasted on that man already. I have way too many positive, high vibes to share and enjoy with others and the universe. I intend to enjoy and appreciate every minute.

PS – I wrote this article five months ago. Recently I learned that Karma had indeed found him and struck with its mighty Karmic Hammer in the best way possible. So, maybe Lady With A Truck’s theory is wrong after all. I know I got my closure on the matter.

She’s Not The Nanny, She’s My Sister.

I had no idea I had something so unique in common with Fran Drescher. Or, maybe, in this day and age it’s not so unique as I once thought it was.

I was watching ‘Oprah, Where Are They Now?’ a little while ago and Fran was her guest. I was shocked when I learned that Fran had once been married to a man who came out first, as bi-sexual, and then as gay a short time later. Not only that, but when Oprah asked her about their current relationship compared to their married life, Fran pretty much echoed what I had thought and continue to think to this day.

Fran stated she and her husband had a very active and satisfying sex life. I can relate to that. My ex and I had great sex and were very happily married. We have two wonderful kids. I must have been doing something right, huh? I can’t pinpoint any precise moment or event and I can’t say, because I don’t know, what inspired my ex to step out of the closet. I just know that one day all was right with the world and the next, everything had changed – sort of.

There was one thing that has not changed though we’ve been apart for ten years and divorced for three. We still love, respect and emotionally support each other enormously! I must confess that there was a period of time that I felt very hurt and lied to. How could he NOT tell me? I was very angry for much longer than I cared to admit to anyone, even myself. It wasn’t like we’d never talked about our previous relationships. He had simply omitted a few key details. But, I loved him then as I do now. I wanted a life with him and our kids. Considering the nature of the world and its less than accepting qualities for people who are bi, gay or transgendered, what he did made perfect sense. He wanted a wife and children. He wanted to be ‘normal’. He wanted to be loved and accepted by his own family.

As the years went by and we worked together to keep our marriage and family intact, with some slight variations on things, it slowly became clear it simply was not working as we hoped. We still loved each other, but it took a lot for us to admit to each other and ourselves, that neither of us was really happy with the current arrangement. We had been sleeping in separate bedrooms for a while by then, making up once excuse or another to family and friends, including the kids. Living together and living this lie day in and day out, had become exhausting. As much as it hurt, we knew continuing this lifestyle was doing more harm than good to the friendship we still both desperately wanted to keep.

Eventually it came to pass that he moved out and got a house about ten miles away. As he was just outside the school system the kids attended, they lived with me and went to visit him as often as they liked. The rest is pretty much your standard story of separation. I still had bouts of anger. I still felt cheated of the fairy tale life I thought I was getting on our wedding day. I still cried into my beer and over spilt milk. And though every shadow of hope that I’d once had that we could make it work had been obliterated by the bright light of truth, I still loved him. And, I knew he still loved me.

We still faced life together. If there was a problem with the kids, we dealt with it as a couple. We went to school functions as a family. We spent Christmas mornings together as his place, as a family. When our son went off to college, we all went together to see him off. It was never a burden to work or be together because despite our differences, we had vowed to each other to be there for our kids and to both be parents to those kids. No one was to ever feel like a single parent, ever! We owed our kids that. And, in some odd way we have maintained our marriage vows to always continue to love and honor each other as people, to be there for each other, for better for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. It took living apart to grow together as friends. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lot more important than staying married for the sake of appearances.

My ex-husband is truly one of my dearest and best friends in the whole world. I feel like one of the most blessed people in the world and one of the luckiest, too. We may not have beat the divorced statistics, but I believe we have beat the odds in another way that is far more important. We entered the marriage with love. We left the marriage with love. Because of that, we’ve both been able to continue our lives in ways that have brought us greater happiness and a truer, deeper understanding of what it means to love someone unconditionally.

It was a very hard life lesson. I’ve since left the hurt and anger behind me. In doing so, I’ve been able to embrace completely the new and wonderful life (and man) I now have and to accept people much more easily for who they are. If your heart is full of love and acceptance, there just isn’t any room for hatred and bigotry.

As for Fran Drescher, she’s no longer The Nanny. She’s now become a kindred spirit and an emotional sister. How cool is that?