So, I finally changed my theme.

Wow!  I changed to the Twenty Eleven theme!  Granted, it’s a similar theme to the Twenty Ten theme I was using.   But I’m proud of myself for taking this scary step.

It took me two years to work up the courage to change my theme at all.  I didn’t dare try anything too drastically different from Twenty Ten.  I was terrified of losing all my information, post counts, etc.

It wasn’t so bad.  In fact, I think it’s a much cleaner look, especially since I changed the color theme and background photo to something less dark and depressing, and more soothing and oceanic.   I changed the font as well.    The only thing I’m displeased with is the header menu.  I can’t seem to change the font in that.  I think it’s clunky looking, so I may get rid of some of the topic headings to make it more streamlined at least.

I was able to replace most of my old widgets (they do disappear when you change your theme, so you have to put them in again) but chose to leave a few out.  Again, I’m going for a cleaner looking, more readable blog.    I also changed the Sharing buttons to the stylized logos, which I think look better.   It appears my post counts weren’t lost, which I was afraid of, so that’s a relief.

I hope you all like my blog’s new look.  Please leave your (honest!) opinions in the comments.  Even if you hate the new look, please let me know.

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Changing things that already work — beetleypete (reblog)

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I have just been reading a post on another blog about the forthcoming ‘Gutenberg Editor’ change from WordPress. In case you are unaware of the impending change, here is a link to Worpress’s take on it. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ As you will see, it is quite technical, at least to someone with my level of computer knowledge. […]

via Changing things that already work — beetleypete

I couldn’t agree with this post more.  I do not want the Gutenberg Editor.   I like the Classic Editor just fine.  Why can’t we have a choice?  But we don’t.  As soon as Gutenberg is rolled out,  the classic editor will no longer be available (that’s what I hear anyway).  Hopefully WordPress takes the needs of ALL its users into consideration.

I really dislike the way WordPress continually makes changes without seeming to care about what its users think.    I’m really not keen on having to learn a new interface, especially when the current one is perfectly serviceable.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

If the earth was flat.

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The mystery ship.

This is quite possibly, my favorite post I ever wrote, or it’s in my Top Five anyway. Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Credit: Unknown photographer.  This haunting photo is very similar the way the old battleship appeared to me as a child.

I have a vivid memory of myself as a mosquito-bitten, golden-tanned and skinny little girl of seven and eight years old happily playing and exploring on the the tidal flats of  East Brewster, along Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts, where my parents had rented a vacation beach cottage for two weeks during two consecutive summers in the late 1960s.

The sandbars and  network of warm tidal pools and rivulets left behind by the retreating tide stretched far, far into the distance–so far that the deeper water where the sand was never exposed was only a thin royal blue line against the horizon and sometimes was not visible at all  (I read recently that the Brewster tidal flats actually can extend up to two miles at low tide).

I played out…

View original post 1,285 more words

John Lewis 2018 Christmas commercial featuring Elton John

I don’t usually get obsessed about commercials, but this is one I fell in love with.   It’s a commercial for the British department store chain John Lewis and Partners.

It’s rare to find a commercial with real meaning and depth, a compelling story that tugs at the heartstrings without being too cheesy — and also features one of the greatest rock & roll pianists/singers of all time.

Here we see Elton John playing “Your Song” over flashbacks of his career, the receding decades finally giving way to his childhood, when his mother, who recognized musical talent in her son, gave him a piano for Christmas — the very same piano he was playing as an older man reflecting on his life at the beginning of the commercial.

It gives me chills, in a good way.  It’s amazing the way one special gift at the right time can change the entire course of a person’s life.   Elton’s mom understood.

Enjoy! And please tell me what you think in the comments!

 

Narcissistic mothers never really change.

I started this blog over four years ago partly because of my discovery that I had been spending more than five decades of my life trying to please and win the unconditional love of a mother who simply wasn’t capable of giving me that kind of healthy love a normal parent has for a child.    Emotionally, I was still a child trying desperately to please a parent who could never be pleased, and in fact, resented me because of who I was.

I went No Contact with her at the same time I went No Contact with my malignant narcissist ex husband.  During the first two years of starting this blog, I wrote extensively about both of them, and learned so much about myself and also how to heal from the narcissistic abuse both of them had inflicted on me.

Distance made me think over a few things.    I also came to understand exactly what a malignant narcissist is, and after some time, I realized my mother is not one.    Malignant narcissism is a mixture of NPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder with paranoid or sadistic traits.   My mother, while highly narcissistic, is not at all antisocial or sadistic, but she does check off most of the criteria for NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).  She also fits much of the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Unlike a malignant narcissist, my mother does have a conscience and knows the difference between right and wrong.  She doesn’t “think like a criminal” and would never do anything illegal.  She has a sense of ethics.   She’s not sadistic and doesn’t enjoy seeing people suffer.  She likes animals and children.  She doesn’t have much empathy, even for her loved ones, but she isn’t the sort of person who enjoys watching others suffer or tries to cause them suffering;  she is mainly just cold and indifferent to the troubles of others, and fails to take responsibility when she has emotionally hurt someone.

Even so, as a parent, she was still very damaging.   Along with my borderline/narcissistic dad, who also was an active alcoholic during most of my childhood and adolescence (addictive disorders and alcoholism tend to exacerbate Cluster B personality types), there was lots and lots of drama, instability, fighting, screaming, accusations, gaslighting, hiding the truth from others, and abuse both physical and emotional while I was growing up, and it was mostly directed at me.  Needless to say, my growing up years were painful and traumatic.  As the only child in their marriage, I was constantly scapegoated and gaslighted and held to impossible standards, the implication being that I was never good enough and could never measure up.

Things could have been worse, but the damage was done.   I never felt like a full adult, and my self esteem took a beating.  I came to believe I wasn’t capable of very much in life.  My high sensitivity was used against me, treated like a defect or a weakness, instead of something that would ultimately become one of my greatest strengths.  I never really found my niche career wise, and I married an abusive, sociopathic husband who in many ways mirrored the emotional abuse I had suffered at the hands of both my parents as a child.

I felt especially uncomfortable, impotent, and childlike whenever I was with my mother, and this lasted into my fifties.  I’m not sure why this was so.  Perhaps because of my parents, she was the more narcissistic one, the one who seemed to always disapprove of me no matter what I said or did.   She would constantly gaslight me, give me “left handed” compliments that were really criticisms, find ways to embarrass or shame me in front of others (and then say I was being too sensitive or “imagining things” when I objected to this treatment), or blame me for things that weren’t actually my fault.   She never seemed to empathize whenever I was victimized at work or bullied at school and would instead tell me why I was bringing those things upon myself.

Going No Contact with her was necessary and freeing, and as I wrote about our relationship, I discovered many things about myself I never knew.   I discovered that I was not the failure and loser she’d always led me to believe I was, but my emotional growth had been stunted.   Anger followed but that passed.  Once it passed, I started to realize she was who she was because of the abuse she had suffered as a child.    I didn’t want to resume contact, but the more I read about narcissism, the more I realized she was simply a garden variety narcissist (which in a parent, is still very bad!) and did not meet the criteria for Malignant Narcissism.

For four years I avoided her phone calls (after awhile she stopped calling) and only sent cards on her birthday and Christmas.   But one day a few months ago, I took a phone call from her.   I figured it must be important since she rarely tried to call me anymore.  After all, she’s in her late 80s and it could be an emergency I needed to know about.   So I took the call (it turned out to be something pretty unimportant, though I can’t remember the specific reason she called).  She might have just been love bombing me, though there’s no way to know for sure.

Rather than tell her I had to get off the phone (as I would have earlier in my recovery), I decided to find a neutral subject that wouldn’t lead to an argument and we might be able to find some common ground on (a kind of grey rocking).  Since I was so caught up in (and disturbed by) the Trump presidency, I sent this up as a trial balloon and asked her what she thought about the latest debacle (which at the time was the cruel child separation policy at the border).   Politically,  we’re on the same side, and like me, she is horrified by Trump and what’s happening to this country (this is another way I can tell she’s not a sociopathic or malignant narcissist).   So for about half an hour, we actually had a pleasant (well, if you can call a conversation about the current political situation pleasant) conversation without any arguments or putdowns or gaslighting.    For once, I didn’t feel like a defective five year old.  For perhaps the first time, I felt like she was treating me like a fellow adult capable of thinking for myself.  It felt good!   We spoke for almost an hour, and right before we hung up, she said something she had never said to me before.

She said, “I have really missed you.  I love you so much.  You are such a good person.”

“You are such a good person.”   Whoa!  That’s simply not something a narcissistic mother would say to her child.   Nothing about my external appearance or my financial status, social class, worldly “success” or lack thereof.    Not only that, she sounded sincere, almost on the verge of tears.  I began to think that perhaps, I had misjudged her, and she wasn’t actually a narcissist at all.  Maybe she was just a borderline or maybe she had changed with age and was no longer a narcissist.

I didn’t speak to her again for another few months, but I began to toy with the idea of cautiously breaking my No Contact rule and going Low Contact.    It took me a long time to call her again, but the night before last week’s election, I finally shored up the courage to give her a call.

I decided to use the impending election as a way to start the conversation, since politics had worked the last time.    And it’s true we agreed about who we wished to see win the midterms and how much we both hated Trump and the GOP.   But this time the conversation wasn’t the same.   It felt forced and tense.   She kept interrupting me to say I was being too negative and dwelling on negative things too much, just like the old days before I went No Contact.   She seemed to want to change the subject, and kept asking me personal questions about myself.  I talked to her a little about the kids (her grandchildren) but when she asked me about myself, I clammed up.  I felt like she was prying and I didn’t want to tell her about myself (not that there’s much to tell).    Then she started saying she wanted to come visit me in the spring.  I don’t want her to come visit in the spring, or at all.   Just like in the old days, I felt diminished, put down, like a defective five year old again.   I realized nothing had really changed at all.

But that begs the question, what had made her say, with tears evident in her voice no less, that  I was a ‘good person’?  That’s just not something you hear someone with NPD say.   She seemed to mean it; I don’t think it was love bombing (though it could have been).    Perhaps for a fairly low level narcissist who isn’t malignant (but is still dangerous to others due to their disorder), the clouds occasionally part and they can actually see things clearly, the way they really are, without lying to themselves or others about what they see.     Perhaps she envies the fact I care about others, and am politically involved, and while normally such qualities might make her resent me,  at that particular moment, her guard was down and she realized she actually admired those qualities in me.

I’m pretty sure that on some level, my mother does love me.  At least I know she means me no harm.  And I love her too; she is my mother, so how can I not?    But the truth is, she is still a narcissist, and I simply can’t have any kind of serious relationship with anyone on the narcissism spectrum, especially someone I have so much unresolved childhood baggage with.   So it looks like it’s going to be just us exchanging cards on birthdays and Christmas, and we’ll see what happens as far as any future conversations go.  I just know for my own mental health, staying Very Low Contact is best.

 

My biggest takeaway from the midterm election.

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I’m condensing and editing this from a Twitter thread I wrote the day after the midterm elections.  

Now that the midterms are finally over (although they aren’t really:  there are still votes coming in in some places, and there may even be recounts in states like Florida and Georgia),  my biggest takeaway is this: we can never, ever take democracy for granted.  We can’t assume it’s a gift that once given, just stays.

Because that is not the way democracy works.   It must be constantly maintained, not by politicians, not by pundits on TV, not by activists.  It must be maintained by regular people like you and me.  Unfortunately, for many years, we took democracy for granted and thought we could stay uninvolved in politics and let others do the hard work.  But once a large percentage of the population ceases to care to the point that they don’t even vote,  democracy is in trouble.   The very term democracy indicates that its existence depends on The People.   It depends on us.

Republicans were able to seize so much power because we let them.  Although other factors played a part in Trump winning, in 2016, we didn’t turn out in sufficient numbers at the polls to overcome everything that was stacked against us.   But those things were never insurmountable.   There are just too many of us.   Yes, Hillary won the popular vote (and I’m one of those people who think the electoral college should be abolished), Russians may well have influenced the results, gerrymandering and voter suppression  in some states is out of control, etc.  But, in spite of all the obstacles the GOP tried to set against us, the results in 2016 were still close.   Had we all voted (and not voted for third party candidates like Jill Stein), Trump would have lost and instead of becoming POTUS, today he’d be just another washed up and forgotten reality TV star who once ran for president.

But he is president, and now that we are stuck with him (for now), we are all learning an extremely sobering lesson in just how fragile democracy is, and just how easily one despotic man with too much power can start to dismantle all our checks and balances, and destroy democracy itself.   Many Americans, including myself, used to think about Nazi Germany and wonder how it could have happened.    We are now seeing in real time how it happened:  specifically, how seemingly normal people could come to support a murderous fascist tyrant.

We woke up, perhaps at one minute before midnight, but still not too late to flip Congress back to Democratic rule, which will mean there will be some vital checks put back on this presidency.  As a result, Trump, though he will still rage and threaten and bully the free press, our institutions, and everyone he doesn’t like, won’t be able to push through his tyrannical and cruel policies the way he has been able to over the past two years.  We will be able to relax just a little.  But we can never again become complacent.

Were it not for the efforts of the Resistance, and even more importantly,  regular folks of all races, creeds, religions, income levels, and lifestyles, turning out in record numbers to vote (many voting for the first time because they realized democracy itself was on the line) and had this election drawn a tepid turnout like other recent elections, we would have lost the House.   Instead of feeling hopeful and relieved, we’d be staring down into a black abyss of unfettered tyranny right now.

Had we lost, we would now be freefalling into fascism and Trump would have unchecked power, free to do anything he wanted to do. We would have lost our democracy and would soon become a dictatorship.

Things are far from perfect. We still have a heavily Republican Senate and a Judiciary that is moving further to the right and will most likely continue to do so as long as Trump retains the presidency.  But the good news is, Trump can no longer just do anything he wants, and he can’t break the law, because the new Congress will hold him accountable if he does.  The Russia investigation will continue, and the new Congress will make sure Trump doesn’t get to run away from or obstruct justice, unlike our current GOP Congress, which enables his crimes and lack of ethics.  He can also be forced to show his tax returns.  So even though Republicans are still top heavy in the Trump White House, we are in much better shape than we were before the election. Trump can scream and toss insults and threatens all he wants, but at the end of the day, he simply  won’t be able to get much done.

A Democratic Congress can also start impeachment proceedings. Before last night, Democrats had no power to do anything. The only power we had was our vote. And we exercised it in record numbers. Had it not been for us using that hard won right, and sitting at home, democracy would have died.

We’re not out of the woods yet though.   This isn’t over.  We still have a lot more work left to to do. Trump has done incredible damage which may take generations to repair.  Republicans (which has become a fascist party since Trump) still have too much power. But we, the People, took back some of that power with our votes, and that is a good beginning.

I hope we all learned a lesson that democracy takes WORK.  We have the right to vote, and we need to use it — or possibly lose it!   Losing our right to vote can happen much more easily than you think.  There are people in high levels in government that would love nothing more than to take away our right to vote.   We can never assume others will do the work of democracy for us. The responsibility falls on us.  A government run by the People requires the input of the People.   There’s no way around it.   Voting in record numbers is essential.

If we continue to vote in the kinds of numbers we had on Election Night, we can eventually overturn this entire sorry regime  and finally have the kind of inclusive, compassionate, prosperous, caring, honest, and fair government WE, not the oligarchs and religious extremists, want: one that works for the People, not just the ultra rich and corporations.

If you voted, you should feel proud that you helped to save democracy. I think last night proved that no amount of voter suppression or GOP cheating is enough to overcome huge numbers of people voting.

We still have a long road ahead of us and a country to save.  Let’s get going!

I’m alive and well!

I know it’s been a week since my last post.  It’s just been a crazy week, and I haven’t had the time or motivation to write.

Tomorrow I’ll be adding two new original posts, and who knows what else!

Stay tuned.

5 Essentials for Defeating Trump.

Here’s an extremely sobering article about the Trump regime’s true diabolical agenda: an unholy merging of white male privilege and authoritarian religion disguised as evangelical Christianity (also known as Dominionism).   What this regime isn’t telling anyone is they are working in the shadows toward an intolerant, legally enforced, violent, misogynistic theocracy very similar to radical Islam in everything but the specific religion it’s using to disguise itself.  In fact, this movement isn’t a true religion at all; it’s a religious cover for a fascist political agenda, and is the opposite of anything Christ ever stood for.

Dominionist Christianity is an unholy mix of the prosperity gospel and forced sexual conformity (especially for women).  It tends to attract the selfish and the uncompassionate; the smug, self righteous, and sanctimonious; the greedy, the abusive, the sociopathic, and those who need, due to their own narcissism, to feel superior to others based on their white heritage, their false piety, or their personal wealth.

Qualities like compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses that need to be eliminated.   Financial wealth and the power that comes with that is seen as the only true measure of God’s approval.   Misfortune, illness, and poverty is inflicted only on those who God does not approve of.    Human beings are regarded as useful objects to achieve one’s aims or exploit for financial gain, rather than as individuals with needs (slavery is acceptable).   The desire for human rights and to be treated with dignity are considered to be the work of Satan.  The end always justifies the means, so evil acts and cruelty are all acceptable as long as they help to bring about the endgame, which is a theocracy based on Old Testament Law and unfettered (unregulated) capitalism where the wealthy and privileged can rule like feudal kings over the hordes of serfs and slaves under their rule.  Adherents believe God has given certain people (modern day prophets and apostles) license to force their will on others to achieve the movement’s agenda.   Dominionist Christianity is a sociopathic, violent, religiopolitical movement and is eating America like metastatic cancer.

I have already written a number of posts about dominionism, so I won’t list sources here, but a quick Google search will direct you to them. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s absolutely real.

Trump is the key this Christofascist movement is using to open the Pandora’s box of horror and suffering they have kept under wraps for years and are just now beginning to unleash in all its ugliness and hypocrisy, the intention being to inflict it on anyone who can’t or won’t conform.   Many Trump supporters aren’t aware of the regime’s real agenda,  and can’t be convinced they have become part of a cult of personality that in many cases, will do them or their loved ones harm or even kill them.   But as in Hitler’s Germany, by the time they finally realize the danger they are in, it will be too late.

Trump, though apparently not religious himself (and definitely unrepentant of his past sins) is helping this diabolical movement realize their fascist agenda (which is why its adherents insist he is anointed by God) in return for their support of him. That’s why there are so many dominionists in his cabinet and why they seem to think of Trump as a kind of savior.

To save America and the world (because it’s their intention to eventually take over the planet), their dark agenda must be exposed and brought into the light.  Author Chris Kratzer outlines how this can be done in this terrifying (but also hopeful) article.

5 Essentials for Defeating Trump 

 

Your vote does matter!

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In recent years, voting has become a low priority among many people, especially young people.   They believe their one vote doesn’t matter and some even believe elections are rigged and voting doesn’t count.

But it does.  It’s true there has been some unfair rigging of the elections in recent years, due to Republican gerrymandering, attempts at voter suppression, purges of the voter rolls (this has been a big problem this year but it’s also being caught and dealt with), huge donations to GOP politicians from SuperPACs, billionaire oligarchs, and probable help from other countries too.

But there are a lot more of us who hate what the Trump GOP has been doing and the way they have been lining up behind Trump and enabling his destructive policies and rhetoric, instead of providing a check on what he does.   The Republican Party has lost many people in the past two years, including some notables like George Will, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace (the last two formerly worked in the George W. Bush administration).  In spite of their conservatism, they have become voices for the Resistance.    Most of these former Republicans have decided to vote a straight blue (Democratic) ticket in the midterms to save our democracy from encroaching authoritarianism — even if that means they have to hold their nose about ideological issues that are too liberal for their taste.

These conservatives realize that at this juncture, a politician’s specific ideology is less important than where they stand about Trump vs. democracy itself — and the Republican Party is no longer the freedom-loving party of Lincoln, Reagan, or even John McCain.  It’s become a party that goes against most core American values, and celebrates racism, hatred, violence, ruthlessness, misogyny, corruption, misinformation, lies, greed, and exclusion.  Since Trump’s election, it has moved to the extreme right, into fascism.  This is not hyperbole;  it is the new reality.  Trump can do a whole lot less damage to our American way of life when there are some much  needed checks and balances put back into place, and right now, that means we need a majority of Democrats in the House and hopefully the Senate too.   It’s not ideological or partisan; it’s just common sense,  since the Republican Party has become so extreme and untrustworthy (and having all three branches of government under the control of one party is never a good thing anyway).

Smart conservatives realize all this, and will be joining Democrats and voting for Democratic politicians in this election.   Polls are also saying that many more Millennials are planning to vote than have in past elections (even though many still plan to sit it out).   They don’t want to inherit the bleak future that looms should Republicans maintain complete power.

So, in spite of attempts to suppress our votes, gerrymander districts, spread disinformation and lies about Democrats (that’s a whole other topic I may or may not write about), and fix electronic voting machines (this has been a problem in Texas in particular, with straight Democratic voters saying their votes were changed to Ted Cruz), I’m almost certain if we show up in great enough numbers, we can beat all the GOP’s efforts to cheat their way into a win (and cheat they must, since this party no longer offers anything of value to We, the People).

If you’re thinking about skipping voting, think about the future that awaits with an all- Republican government that’s in lockstep with Trump and lets him do whatever he wants.     Think about having no checks and balances on this president, and what that could (and probably will) mean for all of us, for humanity, and for the planet itself.    Even if you don’t care about yourself, think about the kind of future such an America holds for your children or grandchildren.

Elections have actually been won on one or two votes.   Your vote carries a lot more weight in a midterm election than in a presidential one, since you’re voting for people at the state, rather than national, level.   There are services offering rides to the polls, if it’s difficult for you to get there.    Don’t feel guilty about calling in to work that day (Election Day really should be a national holiday) if they don’t allow time off for you to vote.   Or vote early, if you still can.  If you’re not registered, in most states you can register the same day you vote.   So don’t let that hold you back either.

It may be more tempting to sit home than go out in the cold or the rain and stand on line waiting to do something that seems like it might not matter.   Don’t!   Your vote does matter.  If all of us who normally might sit out the midterms (I always did until now) give into what’s easiest and requires the least amount of effort in this election, all three branches of government will remain under Republican control and you or your loved ones could lose many if not all of the rights and freedoms you take for granted right now.    The safety net (including Social Security and Medicare) would also be decimated and possibly abolished at some point.  Do you want that for yourself?  Do you want that for your loved ones, who may be elderly or disabled and depend on those services (which are earned benefits, not entitlements) for their survival?  I know I don’t!   I have paid a portion of my paycheck into those services almost every year since 1976 and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them steal my investment out from under me, to pay for the trillion dollar deficit they caused by their ridiculous and destructive tax cut for the rich!

Think of this too:  people have fought and even died for your right to vote.   Women and black people couldn’t always vote.   That right wasn’t won easily, and many people died fighting for it.   So to not exercise your right to vote is to disrespect the people who sacrificed their lives for you.

So, taking all this into account, if you haven’t already voted, please get to the polls on Tuesday, November 6th.   It costs you nothing except the gas, and requires only a few hours out of your day.  Isn’t that worth it to save democracy and prevent fascism from completely taking over?   If you don’t vote, you are voting against democracy, against progress, against our American way of life.  If you don’t vote, you are actually voting for unchecked power of a dangerous, despotic leader who has already done enormous damage and is only just getting started.

This is the most important election in a lifetime.   VOTE!

*****

Further reading:  

13 Ways to Get the Most Out of Voting in the Midterm Election