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Yet Another Manipulator

24 Oct

I’m so tired of manipulative assholes. They’re very fortunate that I need time to process and that my default is to be nice to people…even when they’re manipulative assholes. Furthermore, I recently figured out that often when I meet someone with bad vibes, I tell myself I’m just nervous around them because I have social anxiety; it’s not until I’ve seen this person repeatedly that I finally realize they’re bad news. I have a history of putting up with bad people multiple times before I finally get fed up and can no longer be polite to them.

At least this time, I’ve managed to process on the same day as the incident. Perhaps some day it’ll take seconds after meeting the bad person, and I’ll turn around and walk out on them or hang up on them or have a great retort…whatever the circumstances warrant.

This Monday, I was at my second appointment at the gym and, after talking about my missing cat during my training, I spotted a pet supply store a few doors down. I happened to have some “Neko is Missing” fliers with me, so I decided I’d go in, ask if they’ll post the flier, and buy some cat food while I’m there. So I went inside the pet store.

The store owner approached me immediately, and I showed him the flier and explained that my cat is missing.

He asked how long she’s been missing. In hindsight, I should have said, “Six days,” since that’s when I discovered that she was no longer hanging out at a couple of neighbors’ houses and had wandered further away and was allegedly spotted at a nearby condo complex. Instead, I replied, “Since early September.”

He said, “That’s too long ago! It’s too late.”

Instead of punching him, I went into shock. “Actually, it’s more complicated than that. She was eating at a neighbor’s house for weeks and hasn’t been for the past week.”

He didn’t apologize for his callous and cruel remark. He glanced down at the flier he was holding and said, “Well, I’ll help you, but you have to buy stuff here.” He asked about my regular pet supply store, and I told him I go to The Healthy Pet; I didn’t mention that they’re very nice and respectful toward their customers and care about animals, unlike him.

I was in a stunned state and acting as though he was one of my toxic relatives, who wired my brain in early childhood to side with bullies against myself and to tip-toe around toxic assholes who are similar to them. Yet underneath that early childhood conditioning, upon which I acted, I already knew that he was devoid of empathy and compassion, didn’t care about animals, and was blackmailing and manipulating me.

I went into the store with the intention of shopping for cat food (if you have five cats, you can easily understand), so even if he weren’t blackmailing and manipulating, I would have done what I did: make a bee-line for the cat food aisle. I quickly discovered that he doesn’t sell any of the food that my cats are accustomed to eating, but I picked up a few cans of cat food that I thought they’d like, and I grabbed a cat snack, and I carried them to the front counter, never mind how ill at ease I was with this asshole.

As soon as I reached the counter, he said, “You shop only here from now on.” He pulled out a bag of dry cat food and tried to sell it to me, but it contained duck, and I doubted my cats would like that. “You only come to this pet store from now on.” He must have said that at least twice, and I was too stunned to tell him off and march out, as I wish, in hindsight, I had done. The seoond time I thought, I’ll alternate with both stores. I can’t stop going to The Healthy Pet. He kept offering me different dry cat foods, and when I agreed to buy one bag of cat food and get the other half off, he still wasn’t done: he gestured toward a freezer containing raw food for cats and dogs and gave me a used car salesman spiel about that, too, as he already had for dry catfood. I didn’t buy any of the raw cat food, but he gave me a couple of free samples and said, “From now on, you only shop at this pet store.”

He asked me about the cat food my cats normally eat, and he dismissed their favorite dry food by saying that those brands charge too much. Um, they’re quality organic and grain-free catfood from the Pacific Northwest. He asked about their wet food, and I told him; since he asked more about it, such as what size the pouches are, I searched on my smartphone and showed him an image of one pounch of my cat’s favorite food. He said he’d sell it to me at a lower price than The Healthy Pet, and he whipped out a binder that was falling apart and showed me lots of handwritten pages, claiming that he can special order the cat food and that he does that all the time. He wrote down the type of catfood and, unfortunately, took down my first name and phone number.

I spent $91 in that store, even though in the twenty minutes or so that I wasted there, the store owner had proved that he’s a manipulative sociopath. He didn’t even try to hide it. He fucking flaunted it. Sociopaths don’t usually flaunt their evil in front of someone they just met; they usually lure you into a false sense of security by doing a performance, pretending to be a wonderful human being, and you might know them for yealrs—you might even marry them—before it becomes obvious that they’re judging and manipulating you. They’re devoid of empathy and compassion and don’t even have a conscience.

As has happened so often with sociopaths and narcissists, I reacted to the manipulative store owner like a deer in headlights. I reacted as though I were at a family reunion, with the very relatives I describe in my novel Skeleton from the Closet.

After I was no longer at the pet store, I carried the catfood out to my car and soon found myself waking up. I realized that within minutes of my setting through the door, the store owner proved that he is callous and doesn’t care about animals. During the time that I was there, he proved that he’s evil.

I finally realized that there was no way in hell that I’m ever setting foot in that store ever again, and even if my regular pet store charges more than that store—which, judging by the price tags I saw, is not the case—I would continue going there. I got home and gradually shifted from deer-in-headlights to righteous indignation.

I’m getting quicker at seeing through the bullshit of toxic humanoids who are too similar to the evil side of my family (and incidentally, I’m No Contact with that side of the family, except my sister and some California cousins who weren’t successfully brainwashed). I’m getting quicker at noticing red flags but still need to reach a stage in which my immediate reaction is to turn around and walk away.

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Skeleton from the Closet on Kindle

14 Oct

My magical realism novel Skeleton from the Closet is now available on Kindle!

The trade paperback edition will be coming soon.

 

Bohemian and feminist Kezia moves into the charming Craftsman house her uncle left her…in Kansas, where she moves and finds herself surrounded by conservatives, including toxic relatives. Aunt Edith seemed so kind and loving when she was a kid, but now she’s scathingly contemptuous toward Kezia, who begins redecorating and meets a walking and talking Skeleton, more than willing to tell her dark family secrets.

The Assault on Healthcare Continues

15 Jul

…with remarkable incompetence. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so terrifying for the entire country.

I wrote this to my senators and representative:

Dear Senator,

The sociopaths have done it again. This new so-called health bill is just, well, pretty much the same as the last one. They’re determined to take away healthcare from women and the poor. Please do all that you can to prevent this.

Since writing the above, I’ve read that they’re doing away with Obamacare and not even replacing it with anything. Their incompetence is as vast as their absence of compassion.

Creepy Couple

7 Jul

Aside from the Creepy Vibes couple sitting to my left, The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was beautiful. The costumes! The Elizabethan stage! (Yes, it was different from the New Globe, particularly the modern seating, but the stage itself was quite elaborate and half-timbered).

I’m finally reading up on empaths and have confirmed that I definitely am one and that it certainly explains a great deal about me (and about the toxic people drawn to me). I do wonder if it’s common for empaths to have a lot of relatives who have Cluster B personality disorders (sociopathy, narcissism, and borderline personality), or if that was just bad luck and/or terrible karma. If it was karma, then perhaps I was a serial killer in a previous life. The people I most need to have No Contact with are the ones who are most drawn to me and the ones who are extremely easy to find.

But I digress, perhaps because I don’t want to write about those people and would rather write about anything else. But the book on empathy I’m currently reading emphasizes journal writing and such.

The seats are assigned (no groundlings in that theater), and as soon as I got to my seat and sat down, the woman seated on my left gave off hostile and judgmental energy. I didn’t hear her exact words, or I don’t remember her exact words, but she asked her husband if they could sit in the two empty seats to their left, despite the little detail that this was about half an hour before curtain and she knew, or should have known, perfectly well the seats were assigned. I clearly sensed that she didn’t like my sitting next to her. I didn’t do anything to her, and I took a shower and shampoo and put on deodorant before driving downtown from the hotel that afternoon. I had a creepy sense that she was judging me because I’m fat, and that she’s a fatphobic misogynist. Just because this narcissist is shaped like a twig doesn’t mean that all women should be shaped like twigs. Her husband did tell her that they were assigned seats. But that wasn’t the end of it.

 

Who knows, it’s possible that because of how I was dressed, she assumed I was a dirty hippie, despite my lack of stench or cannabis aroma. And maybe, especially with all my exposure to sun lately, she was hostile toward me because she’s overtly racist and/or anti-Semitic. However, I sensed that she was just overtly fatphobic, and life has taught me that I should take my instincts and impressions seriously. If I had done so while I associated with The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy, I would have dumped her years earlier than I did. (For that matter, one of these books on empaths says that empaths can almost seem to read minds. It’s not literal mind reading, and it doesn’t involve understanding the words going through someone’s head, but it’s more like a basic sense of what they’re thinking.)

 

As though the creepy narcissist beside me thought I was deaf, she said “her” a few times and made it openly clear that she disliked me for no valid reason whatsoever. She even switched seats with her husband at one point. Meanwhile, the last two people in our row were the ones whose assigned seats were to the left of the Bad Vibes couple; to make it easier for them to pass me, I sat up stiffly and pushed my Nepalese bag beneath my seat and generally made myself as small as possible. While her husband sat beside me, the cunt said something like, “She doesn’t seem to be in the way, after all,” (again, I didn’t catch the exact words), and so—to my dismay—they switched seats back.

 

The reason I call them the Bad Vibes couple rather than only describe her that way was because they both came off as negative, bitchy humanoids who complain about this and that, and they both struck me as misogynistic. Reading the program, he learned that, horrors, a woman would be playing the role of Falstaff, so he had a fit and ranted about it. She joined in. They both seemed to think that because it’s been a long time since women weren’t allowed to perform on the English stage, and this is the twenty-first century, that casting cisgender women in male roles is inappropriate. They clearly had an extreme belief in gender binary. They both kept going on and on about it, and she barked in her raspy, jarring voice, “We should file a complaint! We should file a complaint!” (Yeah, I’m sure the people who work at the theater wouldn’t think you’re close-minded assholes if you complained about such a thing.) If they had seen the all-female cast of Much Ado about Nothing that I saw at the New Globe in, they would have pissed their pants.

 

The narcissist wouldn’t leave me alone, either. While her husband was gone for a few minutes, she gave me a creepy look and didn’t say anything to me. She had no problem talking about me insultingly and in the third person right in front of me, as though she assumed I was deaf or hard of hearing, but she couldn’t talk to me while we were the only two people sitting in the row. I had my program open in front of me and found it difficult to focus on it, especially while the two of them were bitching. (Their harsh, hostile, negative voices drove me crazy.) While it was only the two of us, the tension made me very nervous, but I was not about to start a conversation with this toxic human. As long as her husband was there, she had no problem with talking to him about me and giving me nasty looks and giving off toxic vibes.

 

I sensed that she didn’t consider me a real human being, but something subhuman.

 

At the beginning of the performance, actors were on the stage and addressing the audience. They referred to audience members in certain parts of the audience. In response, I turned toward that part of the audience, as did many people, and I chuckled. The harpy next to me looked me up and down, from head to toe, in a very openly rude and creepy manner.

 

By then, the two of them had succeeded in putting me in a bad mood, since as an empath I am an emotional sponge. But that last bit creeped me out the most. I get nervous if someone just looks at me with a neutral facial expression rather than a smile. In contrast with this rude cunt, I never looked at her directly; though in hindsight, maybe it would have been satisfying if, while she was giving me this creepy and insolent look-over, I had suddenly turned and stared right back at her. I did see her well enough to know that in addition to being skin and bones, she had very plain features and obviously dyed too-bright titian hair, so I know for a fact that she’s no beauty queen herself.

She wouldn’t shut the hell up and frequently talked to her husband throughout the performance, as though to make absolutely sure she reminded me that her creepy and distasteful presence was right beside me. She even exclaimed aloud, as though she were a teenager, “This is so cool!” Indeed, she and her husband seemed like perpetual junior high brats.

 

If only I were in a position that I could, like Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, arrange to be the only audience member watching plays! (The closest I’ve experienced is being in the sparse audience during dress rehearsals.)

 

Respect is a very important need, not a luxury. Just because a pile of excrement sits beside me doesn’t mean I don’t deserve respect. Maybe if the parasite had any empathy at all, she’d know that treating an empath in such a hateful and rude manner means that the empath knows that you’re hateful and rude toward him or her.

 

I tried not to let this ruin my enjoyment of the play. I paid as much for my ticket as that narcissist did. Probably more, if her husband paid for it. And yes, I intellectually know I shouldn’t take things personally and that it doesn’t matter what toxic, arrogant, and judgmental humanoids think. But intellect and emotions don’t always match up.

 

I have decided that I need to not be around many people tomorrow. I’ll just check out of the hotel and head home to my cats, who will be happy to see me. Well, okay, three of them will be happy to see me. This is about taking in the energy and moods of other people and having a hard time in crowds and in public. I guess the real reason I need so much solitude is less about being introverted and more about being an empath. I had meant to take advantage of the hotel pool one more time before checking out and afterwards going downtown and having lunch at a pub, but now that doesn’t sound as appealing as being alone and heading home to my cats. Cats and dogs give you unconditional love.

 

Especially after all those years with The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy, I have had more than my share of soulless monsters projecting their soulless monsterhood onto me.  It may seem like the fate of empaths, but now that I’ve started reading up on empaths, I surmise that’s mostly if you don’t understand boundaries and know how to psychically protect yourself from toxic humans. I’d better keep studying up on empaths and learn quickly. That is more practical and wholesome than becoming a total hermit, with no contact with other humans, never mind how tempting that can be.

A Nightmare, Toxic Relatives, and a House

17 Apr

I had a disturbing dream in which I owned what appeared to be a large old house that was sparsely furnished, and I was planning on living there, but a woman who was present in the front room with me informed me that the reason my mother and aunts went out was because they were planning on…I forget the terminology used, but it was something to the effect of pretending that the house wasn’t mine and claiming it as theirs by requesting some sort of ticket or token.

I think in the reality of the dream, this was a house I bought and had nothing to do with these evil relatives. I felt utterly horrified and knew I had to act fast, but I didn’t know how.

These relatives returned and were having amiable, cheerful conversation among themselves while not acknowledging my existence. I was panicking. For the sake of someone else who may have been present, I started scratching a message in a rubber rug (like in a car, but larger and partially rolled up), but the message was not showing up well enough for someone else to read it.

In this reality, toxic relatives stole a house from me (after years of their talking down to me, verbally abusing me, and slandering me), a house that an uncle left me. I was in the room when he was talking with my mother about who should he leave the house to, and she suggested me because of my passion for old architecture. So he did.

Kind of a Nightmare

19 Feb

I had a very uncomfortable dream in which I was sitting at one end of a white couch with new friends and petting a large dog–a white poodle–in front of me. The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy was sitting at the other end, the left, of the couch, and sternly criticized how I was petting the dog (much as she criticized me for every little thing). “She wants you to pet her lower back.”

So I moved my legs further down. “Here?”

“No, lower!”

The friend to my right was a very tall and stout young woman, calm energy, and dressed in white; she was reminiscent of a friend I’ve known since the mid 90s. The friend on my left was petite and had long reddish-gold hair and a sort of round face. The one on the right was very quiet, in addition to being calm. We three were squeezed close together. The one on the left wiggled and whispered, “Is she the ho you can’t stand?” I thought she was referring to the big and quiet woman, so I shook my head slightly. I felt nervous because I didn’t want the Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy to find out that I told a new friend about her, and here was a new friend whispering about the subject in the monster’s presence. She didn’t give up and added something like, “I mean the ho who gaslighted you?” I was really getting nervous and subtlety gestured in the Frenemy’s direction by slightly tipping my head to the left and maybe raising my eyebrows.