Oct 14

The Poster Child for Narcissism

don't tread on me“Hey, you’re new in here.  What can I get you?”

“Oh, just water for me.  I don’t like to lose control.”  He sits on a stool a couple spots away from a woman seated at the bar.  “I think my ex-wife comes in here.  I was hoping to run into her.”

The bartender laughed, “That’s not something I hear very often.  You want to run into your ex-wife?”

“Yes.  I’m selling my car and I’m hoping she’ll buy it for our son.”

The bartender slides a glass of water across the bar.  “Tell me about this car.” Continue reading →

Mar 12

Narcissists in the Desert

We’re home.

The vacation zen is making it hard to focus.

I’m short on words but long on photos.

Looking through the 300-plus photos, I started laughing at how much cactus is like a narcissist. Continue reading →

Apr 11

I Hate Holidays

easter-eggAs I walked through Target looking for something to get the kids for Easter, I passed the poofy, over-the-top Easter Dresses.  I remember getting a couple Easter Dresses for Jenny.

She didn’t wear them to church.

She wore them in the garden while digging for worms.

She didn’t really need an Easter Dress.  I needed to be able to buy her one.  I needed to be able to take a picture of my little girl in a frilly, crinoline-stuffed, white dress, with a pink satin ribbon tied at her tiny waist.

That dress and the picture were on my list – the long, guilt-driven, impossible-to-achieve list of All Things Moms Do. Continue reading →

Feb 11

Narcissism Knows No Bounds

Jenny selected the shiny brown bowl circled by a ring of cobalt blue.  She hoped I would love it, and I did.   She was excited to give the bowl to me as a gift.  The ceramic bowl is the perfect size for almonds or pretzels.

Her older brother makes some unusual pieces, and when he has a bunch of new bowls fired, we get to pick whatever he hasn’t set aside for others.


Two days ago, Mark and Will came home from skiing.  They told us of the adventures of the day, the trees they narrowly missed, the jumps they landed perfectly, and the ones they didn’t land so well.  They made plans for the next skiing adventure and Mark headed for the door.

With his hand on the doorknob, Mark turned to me and said, “Hey Jess, you know that bowl that Jenny gave you – the brown with the blue stripe?  Can I have it?  I have a set of three and it matches my set.  I know Jenny gave it to you as a gift, but I wondered if you’d mind trading that for a different piece so I could have a matching set of four bowls.” Continue reading →

Jan 11

In Other News

Monday, I received an email from Mark. In the email he told me that Jen and Will are truly amazing children, and he thanked me for doing such a great job raising them.


I know.


Hard to believe, isn’t it? Continue reading →

Jan 11

Solving a Mystery

This morning I was getting ready to put the finishing touches on a  post about boundaries.  I’d been convinced that things were going well with Mark because we had put some boundaries in place that protected us from hurts, while allowing for a modicum of a relationship with Mark.

He has been quite pleasant.

In the back of my mind, I’d been wondering if it’s really about boundaries.

Everything I’ve read about narcissists would indicate that a narcissist doesn’t respect boundaries.  A narcissist goes through life looking for a source.  Boundaries be damned.  A narcissist doesn’t respect the needs of others, therefore, it would stand to reason that a narcissist would completely ignore any boundaries that a source might set.

I wanted to be able to explain this turn of events. Continue reading →

Sep 10

Trying Not To Get Burned

fireWill’s genetic coding includes a large dose of pyrotechnics. He was interested in matches at an early age. Because I liked living with a roof over my head, I opted to teach him about matches when he first asked. I figure the more kids have their curious natures addressed, the more they’ll learn, and the less potential problems we’ll have. Better he learn about matches while I’m with him, than while he’s sneaking around by himself in the garage, surrounded by gas cans and lighter fluid.

I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that most boys are fascinated by fire.

To this day, Jenny has not lit a match.  I’ve asked if she might be interested.  I have suggested that she even light her birthday candles.

She and I are a lot alike, we like a cozy fire, we don’t feel the need to light it.

I will admit that I have added fuel to fires – literally and figuratively.  When it comes to Mark, I don’t try to light anything on purpose.  I don’t call to rag on him.  I don’t send him nasty emails.  I don’t stop by his business to make a scene in front of his employees.  I want to avoid the chaos and the fire. Continue reading →

Jun 10

I Am The Stream

the-missouriI thought about posting the most damning quotes from the emails received from Mark in the last few days. I thought I might even write about how Mark is telling Will that while every boy needs a mom, they don’t need a mom who poisons them with the hate they feel for that boy’s dad. I thought I’d even post entire copies of those emails. (Trust me. They far exceed the 1000 word limit that a lot of bloggers prefer.) I thought of posting his criticisms and defending myself. His writings further prove his disorder, so it certainly would be more fodder for this blog.

And when I pictured myself typing those things, I saw battery acid oozing out of my finger tips. The acid flowed over the keyboard and cemented the keys, so that I could no longer type.

I can’t type that negative stuff.

I can’t give more life to his hateful words.

It was the night before Father’s Day, when Will read Mark’s recent email out loud. The kids didn’t cry. They didn’t pace the floor and exclaim that they don’t understand how their dad could write such things. They didn’t beg to sleep in my bed because they were so hurt or bruised by Mark’s words. Continue reading →

Apr 10

As The Narcissist’s World Turns

Dammit.  I don’t really want to write about this.  I so want to be done with all of this.  It is more of what I’ve already written.  It is more of what others have already written on the subject of narcissism.  But I have made a commitment to myself, and ultimately, to anyone who takes the time to read this blog – that person who, in the middle of the night, when sleep won’t come, desperately searches the internet in hopes of finding answers.  This is for those who still cling to the possibility that things could work out, that hope and goodness will prevail.

I have to write for them.

It started Sunday morning when the kids opened their in-boxes.   Mark wrote them each an email.  In Will’s email, he explained that I had indicated that Will would be calling.  Mark twisted things around, again, and made it sound like we were wanting the dust to settle, and would get in touch when we were ready.  He forgot the part about the kids expecting initiative and change on Mark’s part.  Mark’s email to Jen sounded like he was picking up where he’d left off, and that nothing had ever happened.

So…  the kids wrote emails saying they did not want to see him until he made it clear that he was ready to treat Jen like she’s seven years old, and that he demonstrates to Will that he is ready to make Jen and Will priorities.  The kids were pretty agitated that Mark would expect that he wouldn’t have to do anything, and that everyone would pick up where things had been left.

We’ve seen this too many times. Continue reading →

Mar 10


YCMTSU stands for You Can’t Make This Shit Up.

I just got off the phone with my dad.  To be honest, he called yesterday and I didn’t pick up.  I hear you gasping.   A couple months ago when I did pick up he was having some financial problems, so I was a little gun-shy yesterday.  But because I am a bad Catholic daughter, the guilt got the best of me today and I picked up.

He said he’d tried calling yesterday.  I said I was skiing.  That was a lie.  (Told you I was a bad Catholic.)  He said, “I didn’t know you were a skier.”  I said, “Dad, I’ve skied with you.  You know I’m a skier.”  He said, “I don’t have any short term memory anymore.”  I said, “Dad, I’ve been skiing for 37 years.”

He called to share a story with me.  It seems that yesterday he’d decided to “end it all”.  He’s sick of the weather, his car broke down, his renters aren’t paying and he’s done with the whole damn thing.  (Please understand that I have heard the “end it all” talk my whole life.  First, I heard it from my grandma, then my dad.  This talk is attention-getting at it’s worst.)   I reminded him that the Catholic Chrch wouldn’t really take too kindly to his committing suicide.    He said, “Well, yes.  I would go straight to hell.”  I said, “What’s the point of being a good Catholic all those years only to end it with suicide and go straight to hell?”  He said, “Well…….”

I said, “Geez, Dad, at least you could wait until the end of golf season.  You’ve got at least one more good season in ya.”  He said, “Yeah, you’re right.  I’ve been swinging really well.  I’ll rethink this thing in October.”

I said, “So did you call to give me the story of “Ending it all”?  He said, “Oh yeah, that’s right.  So I was walking to meet my buddies for lunch at Burger King.  You know, since my car broke down.  And as I was walking across the street I saw a big semi and some trucks heading for me and I thought, ‘I could do this right now.’  So I stopped in the middle of the road.  And you know what happened?  The truck in the front stopped and the semi stopped and everybody else stopped.”  I said, “Well, Dad, I guess God put his big hand down to direct traffic, huh?”  He said, “Guess who was driving the first truck that stopped.”  I said, “I don’t know, Dad, tell me.” Continue reading →

Feb 10

Narcissism and Annexation

I was up all night with Jenny.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but she was afraid of falling back to sleep for fear she’d get sick again.  I held her pretty much all night long while she drifted in and out of sleep.  I looked at her long lashes and perfectly arched eyebrows, her long delicate fingers and the wisps of hair around her forehead.  She’s not a baby anymore, but when she’s not feeling well, she seems as fragile and vulnerable as when she lived in my arms.

I had a lot of time to think last night, and Jen’s being ill reminded me of the scary time she spent in the hospital with pneumonia.  She was four years old.  It was the last weekend of ski season.  Jenny’s fever started Friday afternoon.   Mark worked his usual Saturday shift, and by Saturday morning I was running out of the fever fighting duo – Tylenol and Motrin.  I called him at the shop and asked if it would be possible for him to leave to bring us some medicine.  He said that he could leave long enough to run and get it, but that I would have to come down to the shop and get it from there.  So I got two kids out of bed, buckled them into their cold car seats and made the 20 minute drive to the shop to get the meds.

He did come out to the car to make a show of checking on his daughter, and then we zoomed back home.

That afternoon, he was able to get out of work early enough to head up to the ski hill.

When he got home from skiing, he found me sitting on the couch next to a lethargic Jenny.  I was able to manage the fever, so at this point I felt we were just letting the bug run its course.  Quite frankly, it was easier to care for an ill child if Mark wasn’t around demanding to be center stage. Continue reading →

Feb 10

It’s All Talk

Big hat, no cattle.

Feb 10

Narcissists and Rules

  • cowboy-hatDon’t touch a cowboy’s hat or a lady’s hair-do.
  • Don’t ask anyone how many acres they have, how many head of cattle they own, or how much money they have in the bank.
  • Do not ask a lady how much she weighs or how old she is.
  • Never ask a big lady when her baby is due.
  • Don’t tell anyone your social security number, your pin number or your locker combination.
  • If you eat the whole bag of Fritos, keep it a secret.

These are social norms or rules.  They aren’t laws, but they are so ingrained that they might as well be laws.  Some are as old as dirt, and some are relatively new.  The Frito rule might be specific to my little family.  There are a lot of rules that kids need to learn, and a lot of them can sound kind of silly.  Now that Will is older, he understands the one about a cowboy’s hat.  He still doesn’t get the one about a lady’s hair-do.  Maybe that’s because I don’t really have any sort of hair-do, and I don’t personally adhere to that rule about my own hair.  Will is a literal fellow, and I can remember that it took a lot of explainin’ to get across the point about not asking how many cows someone has, or how much money they have.  If he was quick to tell someone how many pennies he had in his piggy bank, why wouldn’t they say how many dollars they had?

Last night Mark was over.  The visit included the usual high-pitched, sing-song voice, the faked appreciation of the kids’ artwork, and tediously exaggerated tales of his grandeur.  When Mark left, Will told me, “Dad gave Bob our locker combination so Bob could wax my skis.”   I have met Bob only one time.

The kids and I have been invited to share a locker with some other family members.  (These family members are extended family, and they are not part of Mark’s extended family.)  The locker is not ours.  The locker combination is not ours.  Perhaps you may even be able to hear my fingers slamming the keys of my keyboard at this point?  At the beginning of the season, Will had gone skiing with Mark.  When Will couldn’t get the locker open, he shared the combination with his dad, hoping his dad would be able to get the lock to cooperate.  That was an innocent move that any child would make — even a child who is beginning to grasp the rule about not sharing your locker combination, pin number, or social security number.

Over the course of my ‘relationship’ with Mark, I have seen many instances where Mark has not followed rules.  It wasn’t so much that he fudged a little, or that he was in a hurry, or that he figured he could bend a rule just this one time, he firmly believes that rules don’t apply to him.  Just because a sign says “No Parking”, that doesn’t mean he can’t park there.  You would think there would even be some fine print on the bottom of the sign that read, “But it’s okay for you, Mark.” Continue reading →

Feb 10

Come And Tell Me Why Yer Leavin’ Me

The first time I set foot in our little house, I got teary.  Granted, I wasn’t very emotionally stable at the time.  I had decided to leave my husband.   I had been living at my mom’s for a couple months.  I had to get my kids settled, and the weight of the transition was heavy on me.  The realtor unlocked the maroon door and we stepped into the open living room/dining room area.  I took one look at the wood stove, glanced at the dark red walls in the kitchen, and I knew it would be our home.

I always wanted a wood stove at Mark’s house.  I’m always cold, and I wear layers, even in summer.  We deal with a lot of winter, and a wood stove provides a comfort that you don’t get from an electric blanket or forced air heat, or a narcissistic husband.  Besides, I love the ritualistic aspects of burning wood.  There’s the physical labor of finding and cutting and hauling and stacking the wood.  And there’s the continual feeding of the fire.  Will and I even cleaned our chimney this year.  I don’t care that it’s messy.  I love the smell as much as the warmth.  It’s basic to survival.  It connects me to the process of life.

Mark doesn’t like burning with wood because it’s messy, smelly, and hard to control.


It was our first winter here, and I jumped up to put another log in the wood stove.  Without realizing I was doing it, I started singing a song from my college days. Continue reading →

Feb 10

The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Narcissist

Eight years ago on Super Bowl Sunday, I was two months pregnant with Jenny.  I had round-the-clock morning sickness.  To this day, I tell Jenny that she was worth every trip to the bathroom.

One of my favorite pictures is a shot of me, looking awful from the morning all-day sickness, holding a gallon-sized container of Atomic Fireballs.  There’s something about the hot spicy jawbreakers that kept the sickness at bay.  They were an absolute lifesaver.  I had an Atomic Fireball in my mouth for 7 months.

Poor Will was going on four years old.  He got used to me hanging out in the bathroom.  In fact, after Jenny was born, I was doing something, let out a cough, and I heard Will say, “Mommy, are you throwing up again?”

Anyway, we had been invited to a Super Bowl Party.  I was sitting in a chair, trying to summon up the strength to put on my shoes.  I did not want to go to the party, but I didn’t want to disappoint Mark and Will.  I looked at Mark and said, “I’m so sorry, but I just can’t go.  I feel like all I’ve been doing is trying to simply exist.”  He looked at me, let out a sigh of frustration and said, “Well, that is all you’ve been doing.”

__________ Continue reading →