Archive | narcissists RSS feed for this section

Why I’m no Longer Identifying as Buddhist

24 Aug

One day last week, I noticed that Edith, an organizer for my Buddhist book discussion group, had left a message on my phone. Since this was shortly after our monthly meeting was canceled, I figured she wanted to talk about what date we’d meet up instead.

When I called, Edith explained why she had to cancel with the last minute: a sickly dog. After we discussed this, she said, “I was calling you because of this thing you wrote on the website.” I was in front of my computer, so I turned it on while she spoke. She was referring to the Buddhist book discussion’s page on Meetup.com. “You wrote, ‘Sociopaths and narcissists are excrement.’ That’s unBuddhist.”

I froze and knit my brow. “What?”

“It’s on the website for the Buddhist group. I think it might be scaring people away from the group. It’s very unBuddhist.”

I had no idea what she was talking about. She made it sound like I’d randomly vented on the group’s page. It admittedly sounded like something I would have written, but in a journal entry, not on a website for a Buddhist book discussion group. My computer is slow, but I managed to visit the website. She kept talking.

An idea occurred to me. “Are you talking about my Meetup profile?” This wasn’t specific to the Buddhist book group; I’m in numerous groups on Meetup.

“I don’t know, it’s something you wrote online. It’s very unBuddhist. Something about narcissists and sociopaths being excrement. Gavin didn’t think I should call you. He said that if you felt like saying that, then it’s fine.”

I was too flustered to reply, “And he’s correct.”

I visited my Meetup profile…and discovered that it indeed had two sentences, not just one. I introduced myself as a writer, mostly of fiction…and I grimaced as I read the next sentence: “Misogynists, narcissists, and sociopaths are excrement.”

While Edith continued talking down to me, the origin of this hit me. I said, “I see it. I have no memory of writing that, but obviously I wrote it right after breaking up with the frenemy. That was three years ago. I probably wrote it at two in the morning.” I pushed the “Edit” button, while I imagined sitting in front of my computer in a dark room and trying to decide how to revise my profile once I was no longer under the influence of a narcissistic sociopath.

“Well, you’ve changed since then. Narcissists and sociopaths deserve compassion.”

My shoulders tensed even more. I held my breath, while I deleted the sentence. I really didn’t want to hear about her creepy obsession. Edith was still talking at me.

As soon as she paused, I said, “Well, I deleted it. I’m sure I wrote it right after the breakup, and probably in the middle of the night. I haven’t looked at my profile in all that time. If I’d seen it, I would’ve deleted it sooner. Obviously, I wrote it because Meetup is how I met frenemies in Portland. I wrote it to scare off potential frenemies.”

I always need time to process, but my tense shoulders and short breaths told me: This feels like Evil Aunt Ethel gaslighting and victim-blaming me. Edith’s behavior was nothing compared to that of my aunt, but a stern and judgmental female in her seventies talking down to me was similar enough.

Edith didn’t express any compassion to me, no, “I understand. Of course you wrote it right after that break-up. It was a traumatic friendship.” No, she said nothing like that. She knew about my toxic relatives and about my worst ex-frenemy, because these topics were relevant to books we discussed. Buddhist books tend to be about emotions.

Edith repeated something she’d said at least a couple times previously, during our book discussions, and it made me uncomfortable every time. “Sociopaths and narcissists deserve compassion. For that matter, now that studies are suggesting that the brains of pedophiles are wired to be sexually attracted to children, we need to have compassion for them, too.”

I knit my brow and didn’t know what to say. I absolutely loathe confrontation and arguments; if I expressed disagreement, she’d accuse me of being “very unBuddhist.” My heart was racing. Edith continued talking along this vane, and I couldn’t think of anything agreeable to say. Wishing to hang up the phone, I recalled her saying basically the same thing at our last meeting. I tried to remember if she’d said this at previous meetings.

I’ve always prioritized feminism over Buddhism, as I should. I should have taken it as a sign that I can be myself around feminists and generally can’t be myself around Buddhists.

I was almost done reading Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates for my feminist book discussion group—my favorite book discussion group. I was so looking forward to discussing it with the regular group of feminists over dinner the following day. The book was full of statistics and personal experiences that included sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, incidents that happened not only to women but also to girls of all ages, even as young as four. I wasn’t in the mood to fucking listen to someone claiming we should have compassion for pedophiles.

Edith said more about pedophiles, including Epstein. I said, “I suppose… it’s possible that some pedophiles… can refrain from acting on their…inclinations.”

She said, “Well, I guess, but only if they have very strong will-power to go against their sex drive.”

I’m incapable of being convinced that it’s okay for pedophiles to go around raping children—which Edith seemed to imply. I was utterly speechless. I don’t remember saying anything in response. We hung up shortly afterward.

An hour later, I recalled a frenemy who’d given off bad vibes as she kept repeating, “I love my father,” after all the times she’d complained about her father because he was a pedophile and raped her and all her sisters and one of her nieces. When, shaking, I said, “You’re creeping me out,” she gave off even worse vibes and yelled at me, accusing me of being sociopathic and seeing people in black and white…just because I think pedophiles are creepy. Afterwards, I quietly distanced myself from her.

#

I remember in my thirties I was so enthusiastic about Buddhism and kept telling myself, like a “good Buddhist,” that there’s no such thing as evil people. Meanwhile, I was in Kansas, surrounded by unbelievably patriarchal and misogynistic people and constantly in contact with toxic relatives, including an aunt who was regularly breaking into my house, talking down to me, insulting me, slandering me, and gaslighting me. It wasn’t until I moved to Portland that I figured out that she was a narcissistic sociopath and that my mother was a narcissist.

Now I believe in evil people, especially after a “friend” gaslighted me for years while I bent over backwards for her. I believe sociopaths and pedophiles are evil. I’ve heard that brain scans have proved that sociopath brains are different than non-sociopath brains, but just because their brains are wired to be evil doesn’t make them not evil. And I don’t care if believing this makes me “unBuddhist.”

I used to take forever to break up with pschic vampires. No more. I remember how relieved I felt when I knew it was over between me and the frenemy. Organized religion, narcissists, and sociopaths are skilled at manipulation, shaming, and guilting people who are much nicer than pedophiles.

#

I imagined arriving at Gavin’s house for the next discussion…and Edith would yet again smugly announce, “We should have compassion for narcissists, sociopaths, and pedophiles.” I imagined replying, “I showered narcissists and sociopaths with compassion for years and years, and in exchange, they showered me with verbal and psychological abuse. I’m done with them. And you know what, I’m done with condescending and holier-than-thou Buddhists, so I no longer identify as Buddhist. And I’m dropping out of this group.”

A few hours after talking on the phone with Edith, I felt indignant and disgusted. It sank in that she had called me in order to bully me into changing my Meetup profile—something that was none of her damn business. I realize she’s twenty-two years older than me, but what the fuck. That doesn’t give her the right to bully me, to tell me what I can or can’t put on my Meetup profile.

And what makes her think she’s entitled to bully me? I’m an empathic INFJ who’s female, and I think that’s why people harbor a bizarre delusion that they’re entitled to bully me. This has been happening since my early childhood. This is why I live with cats, not humans.

Since Edith thinks she’s entitled to bully me, maybe she thinks pedophiles are more deserving of compassion than I am. Everyone should read Laura Bates’s book Everyday Sexism, which started as a website, the Everyday Sexism Project (which is still active). Though I’ve been acutely aware of misogyny since the age of four, every page inspired me with rage, and my coping mechanism was writing in the book—many methods of maiming and murdering misogynists. How unBuddhist.

I’d decided I should put the book down for at least one full day, and when I closed the book and set it down, I felt an ache in my heart and realized that underneath all that fury was depression. This brought dread: I’d been depressed almost nonstop throughout my childhood and adolescence, and I’d been depressed through much of my adulthood and had seemed to escape it as soon as I broke up with the frenemy. Bullies are depressing.

Since that breakup, most of my depression has been bereavement over the disturbing state of this country; we have a sexual predator white supremacist narcissistic sociopath would-be dictator in the White House, and he’s emboldened so many bigots across the nation to come out of the shadows like cockcroaches. I knew the country was overtly misogynistic and overtly racist…and yet I hadn’t known the extent until the 2016 presidential election. Bereavement doesn’t feel the same as the I-hate-myself major depression I’ve had since age five.

My heart hasn’t been in Buddhism since the 2016 election. My heart has been thoroughly immersed in feminism, not Buddhism. I’ve met feminist Buddhists, and I’ve read books by feminist Buddhists. Most of the feminist Buddhists I know haven’t given me condescending and sanctimonious lectures. However, they’re outnumbered by Buddhists like Edith, the ones who talk down to me if I lift my sore feet from the eggshells.

#

2007 was the first year that a smug and self-righteous Buddhist gave me a condescending and holier-than-thou lecture. Since then, I’ve repeatedly noticed myself feeling very comfortable and welcome with groups of feminists… and anxious with groups of Buddhists. Generally, since 2007, I’ve sensed that I can’t be myself around Buddhists.

2007 was also the same year that I dropped out of a Buddhist sangha that had no moderator. It was in Kansas, after I’d returned from a Buddhist pilgrimage in India and Nepal, where I enjoyed traveling with fellow Buddhists. In the Kansas sangha, I felt socially awkward but wanted to fit in… until they proved themselves to be smug and self-righteous anti-vegetarians.

That was the first of two such sanghas.

After both traumatic experiences with anti-vegetarian “Buddhists,” I felt intense dread and aversion at the prospect of returning and facing them. With the second sangha, in Portland, I did return. When it was my turn to share, I gave my speech about how last time I was there, I felt extremely unwelcome as a vegetarian, and that many great people are vegetarians, etc. However, I sobbed throughout my speech, and I rushed out of the room while all those “compassionate Buddhists” sat silently, with not a kind word for me.

That dread that I felt at the prospect of returning to either of those sanghas: that’s how I feel about returning to this book group. I know Gavin isn’t to blame and didn’t approve of Edith calling to bully me. But she would still be there, and that’s enough. I have no intention of returning. Edith wrapped a bunch of deal breakers into a tortilla and made a deal breaker burrito. Also, based on countless other relationships, her bullying would only escalate, even though she claims to be an empath. Maybe I expect all empaths to be like empathic INFJs and she has an extremely different personality type—who knows.

#

I know compassion isn’t like pie; it doesn’t have a limit. However, there’s an international epidemic of rape and violence against women and girls, and misogyny is the norm in this society. Sexual predators are rewarded, while survivors are victim-blamed. But Edith is obsessed with having compassion for sociopaths and pedophiles. Abusers.

Buddhists like Edith don’t like it when I say what I think, when I make sardonic jokes that they take seriously, or when I express my disgust and anger. They’ll chastise me for using labels, for having anger…even though my anger against patriarchy and misogyny and the people complicit in both is righteous indignation and is so much more important than pussy-footing around Buddhists.

I used to like Edith. I used to think she was nice and fun…. before I noticed that she’s stern, smug, and holier-than-thou. One time, I ran into her at a supermarket, and while we conversed, she brought up Donald Dump, and I started to joke about how he was born a year after Hitler died, and maybe after forty-nine days in the bardo, Hitler was reincarnated as a tape worm before he became Donald Dump. Before I got that far, Edith sternly announced that animals are different from humans, because animals don’t have any malice. I agree with that, but I was joking. I felt ashamed and shocked and remembered: Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be careful what I say around Buddhists.

#

When I first joined the Buddhist book discussion group, where I met Edith, we had numerous regular attendees; it was a good mix. We discussed one or two chapters a month, and I liked the book True Refuge by Tara Brach. But the next book was about death, and several people chose not to attend these discussions because they thought it would be depressing, which surprised me, since this was a Buddhist group. When we finished that book, two people (a couple) announced that they needed to devote their time to other things and had to drop out. Another member had missed discussions because he went to Mexico. Besides the two organizers, Edith and Gavin, I had the best attendance.

Edith and Gavin were concerned about getting more active members…so they deleted the original Meetup.com group and created a new one, inviting previous active members and changing the group’s name and description (adding something about only joining if you’re sure you’ll attend some discussions). Meanwhile, the group was on hiatus for a couple months. Since I was such an active member, they made me an assistant organizer.

For the revamped book group, we agreed to start with the novel Buddha by Deepak Chopra and discuss that during only one meeting. Then we’d return to the usual format, a few chapters of a nonfiction Buddhist book each month, and the book we agreed on was Real Love by Sharon Salzberg (my favorite meditation teacher). We were trying to lure more active members into the group with a bestselling novel and a book that has the word “love” in the title. Gavin chuckled over this, after we scared people off with a book about death.

I had no idea that I’d hate the novel Buddha. Deepak Chopra shows little understanding of Buddhism—it sounded more like Shaivite Hinduism (he’s an Indian, presumably brought up Hindu). It was also consistently obvious (to me) throughout the book that Deepak Chopra doesn’t consider women fully human (like…basically every Republican, white supremacist, and online troll), and it’s therefore exactly the kind of novel that I absolutely want to AVOID.

At the first meeting, several new people arrived. None of them read Buddha first. Only Edith, Gavin, and I read the book under discussion. One guy brought a stack of books about the Buddha, and I did the same, setting my stack down on the coffee table and mentioning that each of them, even the graphic novel, are far better than Deepak Chopra’s book. I chuckled nervously.

It mostly seemed like a good discussion, although when I mentioned something I disliked about the novel, Edith snapped at me. I was flustered and shocked and didn’t complain. I was also shocked that she seemed to like that book. Good thing I was too shy to mention that it’s misogynistic, although I hinted at it, saying I disliked things that Chopra made up that aren’t in the Pali Cannon.

I was hopeful that the new people would become regulars. Today, it occurred to me that although Edith accused my Meetup profile of scaring people away from the group (um, it was meant to scare away misogynists, sociopaths, and narcissists…), I wonder if the new members were scared off when they witnessed her snapping at me merely for saying something with which she disagreed. Perhaps I looked bad for not calling her out (because being a people-pleaser when you’re an empathic INFJ who grew up with a narcissist mother is hard-wired and I always need time to process).

Since we started discussing Real Love by Sharon Saltzberg, Edith, Gavin, and I have attended each meeting, and the member who’d been in Mexico has attended at least once. Maybe if several people witnessed Edith’s defense of sociopaths and pedophiles, they’d disagree with her aloud.

And now that I’ve had over a week to process, I’m entirely on my own side.

A Bad Taste in my Mouth

29 Apr

Oh, yeah, that’s the taste of psychic toxicity.

I have a podcast app called Castbox. It sent me a notification about a TED talk that Hannah Gatsby gave, so I clicked on it, opening the app.

The first thing I noticed was a couple of long-winded comments, and I skimmed through them… to discover that I can’t even use a podcast app without encountering trolls. I didn’t even know that Castbox had a comments section, let alone trolls.

This troll was accusing Hannah Gatsby of not being funny (even though I found her funny when it’s her intention to be funny), of just whining about her experience of abuse and trauma, and of being full of herself. In other words, this troll projected their own arrogance onto her and generally flaunted their narcissism in public.

The intention of trolls, of course, is to silence women. Misogynists have silenced–and attempted to silence–women for centuries. Time’s up. You can’t silence Hannah Gatsby, and you can’t silence me.

Joke’s on you, troll. Some of us have gone for decades being gaslighted and put down by misogynistic narcissists and narcissistic sociopaths. We’ve learned to see the signs for what they are.

Today’s Asshole Award Goes to: Mansplainer

3 Apr

Today’s Asshole Award goes to the arrogant white male directing traffic with confusing communication skills.

No, your delusions of entitlement don’t mean it’s okay to blame me for your bad communication skills. The way your arrogant white male ass held the stop sign combined with your confusing hand gestures meant I was having trouble figuring out when you wanted me to move forward.

When he seemed to be telling me to move forward, I began to do so–but then he abruptly directed me to stop. He not only stole my right of way, he also directed me to roll down my window, which I did, only for him to condescendingly say, “When I say move forward, you’ve got to move forward.”

I replied, “I DID move forward.”

The asshole talked over me and said basically the same thing. I was too shocked to yell, “YOUR BAD COMMUNICATION SKILLS ARE YOUR OWN FAULT!”

It wasn’t until I got home that it occurred to me that maybe he thought he was directing me to move forward before it was clear he was doing so. Wrapping your hand in a fist and holding the stop sign sideways in no way indicates that you want me to move forward. And of course I have no idea what he was saying until I rolled down the window.

Mansplaining, condescension, disrespect, and false accusations each push my buttons, and all simultaneously particularly infuriate me. Your shit communication skills are your own fault, fucking assfuckinghole.

After this asshole mansplained at me, a woman took his place, and I had no trouble understanding when she directed me to move forward. You can bet I fucking hit the gas pedal.

#

This is what I emailed the city:

At approximately 1:20 PM on Wednesday, April 3, while I was waiting to turn right out of the parking lot on Tyinn St. off West 11th, an arrogant white male was directing traffic with confusing communication skills. I sat waiting and trying to interpret what he wanted me to do; folding up your hand in more or less a fist and holding the stop sign sideways doesn’t make any sense when directing traffic. His lips were moving, but directing traffic is nonverbal, and I couldn’t hear him.

When he seemed to be telling me to move forward, I began to do so–but then he abruptly directed me to stop. He not only stole my right of way, he also directed me to roll down my window, which I did, only for him to condescendingly say, “When I say move forward, you’ve got to move forward.”

I replied, “I DID move forward.”

He talked over me and smugly said basically the same thing and returned to his post. I was too shocked to yell, “YOUR BAD COMMUNICATION SKILLS ARE YOUR OWN FAULT!”

It wasn’t until I got home that it occurred to me that maybe he thought he was directing me to move forward before it was clear he was doing so. Wrapping your hand in a fist and holding the stop sign sideways in no way indicates that you want me to move forward. And of course I have no idea what he was saying until I rolled down the window.

After he mansplained at me, a woman took his place, and I had no trouble understanding when she directed me to move forward. His terrible communication skills are his own fault, not mine.

Sociopath Detox

20 Jan

The following is, I’m fairly certain, the first poetry I’ve written since The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy dissed my poetry. This means it took over two years.

And…apparently this website doesn’t know that poetry exists, since apparently I can’t write here in single space, which is annoying.

SOCIOPATH DETOX

Did you truly think

Everyone except you deserves consequences

And that after you insulted and falsely accused

and yelled at me for fifteen hours

After my years of wasting time and energy

Practicing self-negation for your unworthy self,

That I’d continue tip-toeing

around you and waiting on you?

Your delusions of entitlement are limitless.

 

Inside it was already over

I’d been sick of you for two years:

Your endless criticisms and gaslighting and lies.

Whenever you cancelled our plans,

I exhaled in relief: I wouldn’t see you that day,

A day without your soul-sucking energy.

 

Three months earlier, my mother died

Along with her shouts, her withering scorn,

her false accusations, her cigarette stench.

 

After four and a half decades,

I finally have no vampires telling me who I “am”

And can finally start figuring out who I AM.

 

*

Closeness to you

Was like associating with someone who was gathering

blackmail material against me

While simultaneously trying to prevent me

From acquiring blackmail material against them.

 

Closeness to you

Was like constantly carrying a shield

I must hide behind and keep thickening

only to keep discovering that it isn’t sturdy enough.

 

Closeness to you

Meant never knowing which mood or personality I’d meet that day

And dreading every time we meet up,

Knowing you’d find anything and everything to use against me.

 

That’s not real friendship.

A Dream about Social Rejection and Gaslighting

27 Oct

I had a dream in which I was one of four young women, in our twenties, going to a convention. They kind of singled me out for ridicule while we were all sitting in a shuttle. One of them may have been in the military. They were all skinny and white, with long red hair or long blond hair; the one to my left had titian hair.

They were talking about something, and I was trying to follow. The one on my right said something about red-heads. I didn’t understand what she meant and asked. She spoke quickly and seemingly, and part of what she said was, “You’re rather a fool…”

I felt as though she slapped me. That may have been when I scooted further away from her and said, “You’re mean, and I don’t like you.”

She then accused me of being snobby and insulting, and I said, “You’re projecting,” though simultaneously I felt confused and was trying to figure out if that was true and wondering what I said or did to make her think that. (That clearly represented gaslighting.)

Meanwhile, I sensed that the other two were on her side against me they didn’t come to my defense.

At some point in the dream, I was standing with a bunch of luggage in front of an elevator in what looked like a hotel hallway. I’d been sent to another hotel, while everyone else was checked into the hotel where the con was taking place, so here I was being switched to the con hotel. Several people were standing there talking with me. The elevator was taking a long time.

Kay appeared, and I chatted with her. There was a high, long window to our right, and she pointed out how close we were to the ocean. We were in Hawaii. I stood on tiptoes and peeked, and I could see a beach and water rolling toward it, and I got excited about where we were.

The elevator finally arrived, and by then many people had been waiting for it. I may have been the person who made a comment about how we’d get all that luggage onto the elevator. Someone took the comment very seriously, and next thing you know, people backed off, and I was one of only a few on the elevator, and it was only half full. I felt guilty that I was one of the lucky ones.

Another scene, back in the shuttle: the vehicle was moving, surrounded by traffic, and I was seated on the left side and looking with my head turned toward a little front window–it was like riding a tuk-tuk in Nepal. I saw that we were about to drive through a tunnel.

My mind was full of self-doubt in this dream. I had thought I was sort of like a compassionate warrior, an activist working for the greater good, but right then I was wondering if I was evil, some selfish villain. It would explain why nobody liked or respected me. (Interestingly, that sounds like me when I’m being gaslighted.)

As if I haven’t had enough Gaslighting

5 Oct
Every woman and girl in every patriarchal country has been gaslighted since the day she was born. The past two weeks have been a nightmare, not unlike being in an abusive relationship.
Today I realized that, emotionally, the past two weeks have felt like being in an abusive relationship.
The abuser in this relationship is the Senate judiciary committee. The abuser is the government of this fucking country, which has told every woman and girl, and every survivor of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape, that they don’t matter and that they are invalid. It has told yet another sexual predator that he’s so fucking valid that he’s fucking entitled to be on the Supreme Court, taking away women’s reproductive rights.
This calls for a REVOLUTION.
Facebook had an event on September 27: a rally in Portland, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, across from the courthouse. It began at noon, and I didn’t get organized in time to leave by 10 am…so I posted a comment on the event page.
“It’s too late for me to drive the 2 hours, so instead of attending, I’ll be revising a story about sexual harassment. But I’ll be with you in spirit.”
Just this morning–days later–an entitled male troll fucking reacted with a “laughing face” and commented, “What do you mean revise? Make stuff up?”
I became so furious that my hands were shaking as I typed. At first, I was going to reply before blocking the fucking piece of shit, but I remembered my usual policy of not replying to trolls. I didn’t want this smug and arrogant misogynist and possible sexual predator to have the satisfaction of thinking he’d succeeded. So I deleted what I’d started to write with very shaky hands, blocked the parasite….yelled KILL ALL MISOGYNISTS a few times, and then found the event again and posted this comment:
“The only good troll is the one under the Fremont Bridge. “Revising” doesn’t fucking mean “making stuff up.” It means revising, asshole. As in adding more details. Your attempts to gaslight and invalidate me only prove that you’re devoid of any redeeming quality.”
 I then posted a variation onto my Facebook page:
“The only good troll is the one under the Fremont Bridge.
“Revising” an autobiographical story about sexual harassment doesn’t fucking mean “making stuff up.” It means revising, asshole. As in ADDING MORE DETAILS. Your attempts to gaslight and invalidate me only prove that you’re devoid of any redeeming quality.
And I really, really enjoyed blocking your evil, soulless, entitled ass.”
As a fiction writer, I do indeed make things up. I look forward to writing a story in which a group of vigilante feminists chop rapists, sexual predators, the politicians who gaslight us and reward sexual predators, and gaslighters. At the very least, I could post it on a fan fiction site as Dietland (by Sarai Walker) fan fiction.

Disappointing Cat-Sitter

6 Jan

In the past, I’ve had local friends to cat-sit for me or to exchange cat-sitting services. During my last few years in Portland, I had a frenemy who–though it was a nightmare to be close to her–was a good cat-sitter who spent hours with my cats. (True, because she was sitting in front of my tv much of that time, I received receipts from Amazon video for episodes of The Walking Dead, a show she knew I dislike.)

During my month with family in Phoenix this December and early January, a professional cat-sitter took care of my cats.

I was at the farmer’s market and was in the process of purchasing groceries, when my brother handed me his smartphone and said that my cat sitter called him. I found this very odd; why didn’t she call me instead of him? I also assumed it must be an emergency, since she had said she would communicate via texting.

I took the phone, and next thing I know, this human I hired was castigating me for not answering messages I never received. Meanwhile, I was trying to pay for my groceries via square, and the seller had to ask me at least twice what my zip code was. I must have missed half of what The Cat-Sitter from Hell said, because I paused to give him my zip code before I continued listening to her arrogant and condescending lecture.

At first, when she was blowing up at me for not answering my phone or text messages, I assumed she meant there was a huge emergency and she’d been calling and texting in the twenty minutes since I left the house and began walking my brother’s dog toward the farmer’s market. During that time, my phone was in the bag at my side. I don’t constantly, 24/7, keep my phone in my hand with the volume full-blast. I made the mistake of saying, “I didn’t know you were trying to contact me. My phone is in my bag.” I glanced down toward the purse I was carrying.

In response to that, the bully blew up at me, going on about how I’m her client (who would have guessed, since that’s not how you should treat people who are over-paying you) and should have read the guidelines and follow them and I shouldn’t be leaving my phone in a bag (as if I left it in my suitcase and ignored it since I arrived in Phoenix) and blaah blaah blaah. I went into shock and reverted to being the little girl whom my narcissistic and sociopathic relatives conditioned decades ago. It didn’t occur to me to tell her off right back.

When I said, “You said you would text me,” she continued her tirade, claiming that she’d been texting and calling and emailing. If someone texts me, I receive a notification. If I’d gotten any text notifications from her, I would have noticed. I double-checked my phone and confirmed it. “The last text message from you was on December 8.” She then started rattling off dates that she had allegedly texted me, but I definitely had no such messages, and I had no voice mail messages from her.

My brother then mentioned that he tried to call me yesterday and the call went straight to voice mail. Still in shock that someone I made the mistake of hiring was giving me a condescending lecture and lashing out at me, I quickly realized that I was having a phone problem, and I spelled this out to her. She was somewhat mollified but didn’t apologize. I repeatedly said I’d call Sprint and find out what was going on, and that it must be my phone service.

Throughout this phone call—outdoors in public, surrounded by people and attempting to purchase groceries—I was profoundly agitated. By the time I hung up, I was deeply shaken and wished to hide. I didn’t want to be around humans. I was in this state for the rest of the day, and the indignation and fury didn’t arrive until the evening. It takes a while for shock to wear off, something that toxic humans use to their advantage, because otherwise I’d be able to promptly tell them off.

It seems she was primarily trying to contact me because she didn’t find the huge plastic bin full of kibble, even though I put it in what I thought was an obvious spot.

My brother or sister-in-law suggested that I turn off my phone and turn it back on again, so I did that. Apparently by flying to a different time zone, I stopped receiving calls and text messages.

The cat-sitter eventually gave a gruff and brief half-assed apology in a text message that I did receive; that is, after I turned my phone off, waited a few seconds, and turned it back on, it was flooded with messages. Meanwhile, she should have apologized a lot more profusely than that…not that I’ll ever hire her again under any circumstances. Her arrogance and self-entitlement are extreme, like that of every narcissist and narcissistic sociopath I’ve known; ditto countless white males whether or not they have personality disorders.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me that my phone wasn’t working properly. I had been surprised she didn’t text more frequently, but I guessed it must be a good sign, that everything was going smoothly. I didn’t assume that she would text me every single day, so it didn’t seem suspicious. In short, I didn’t know that my phone wasn’t working, and my having a technological problem is no excuse to lash out at me. I had once or twice considered texting her to see how things were going, but I told myself that she had a very busy schedule and I didn’t want to come across as high-maintenance. I really, really dislike this person and can’t believe I hired her as my cat-sitter—but she had good reviews on Yelp and seemed highly qualified.

On the phone, I was too shocked and confused to point out that her behavior was inappropriate. Toxic people are very fortunate that they typically render me shocked and confused.

I didn’t dump a sociopath, move away from Portland, and practically become a recluse so that other arrogant bullies could give me condescending lectures and castigate me for things beyond my control.

People should treat you with respect if you pay them money…of course, they should do so whether or not you pay them. This should be a no-brainer. This situation further confirmed that humans who have little or no empathy think it’s okay to treat empaths, or at least empaths who are not white males, like crap. Good job making sure I remain jaded.

In hindsight, I should have asked more questions before scheduling with this cat-sitter. It wasn’t until the appointment one week before my trip that she said, “I don’t have time to stay this time of year. I have too many clients.” My outgoing cats need a lot of attention. When I returned, they’d gained a lot of weight and were desperate for attention, suggesting that they spent the month eating and sleeping.

It looks like it will be a long time before I leave town for more than two nights. I still don’t feel ready to make new, close friends; the very thought brings up horrible memories of that frenemy. When I get back into foreign travel–or just visit family in Phoenix: I need to either hire another professional sitter or have reached a stage at which I’m close enough to at least one or two local friends with whom I can exchange cat/dog sitting. But narcissists and narcissistic sociopaths are the humanoids who are drawn to me, and I absolutely want no more such monsters in my life.