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The Nerve of me, interacting on social media like anyone else

14 Nov

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and tonight I reached the month’s official word count goal of 50,000 words. I posted not only to my Twitter account and my Facebook account the fact that I’d reached 50,450 words, but because I’d seen other people do it, I posted it to the NaNoWriMo Facebook group page.

This is what I posted:

“I just reached 50,450 words!

So… tomorrow I’m definitely going to wash the dishes and clean the living room. But I’m aiming for 90,000 words by the end of the month, since that’s standard novel length.”

That’s all I wrote. Nothing more. So what happens? A perpetual playground bully (PPB) commented: “50,000 is standard novel word count.”

I stared at that comment and was utterly flabbergasted. I had simply stated a fact, and here was a bully—like so many before—contracting my statement. I didn’t even post an opinion or a question about word count. So I went to the Writer’s Digest website and found an excellent article (I’ve read it before) by Chuck Sambuchino about standard word count, and I copied and pasted the url as a comment under my post.

Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post

Then I replied to the PPB: “That’s only the bare minimum.”

The PPB bizarrely acused me of saying that 90,000 is the minimum, even though that obviously was not what I wrote, as anyone could easily see by looking at my post. She added, “and that’s not true.”

I replied, “No, I didn’t write that it’s the minimum. I wrote that 90,000 is standard word count, which IS true.” Then I blocked the parasite… and started considering dropping out of the group, as I’ve done with quite a number of Facebook groups where I encountered drama thanks to PPBs.

Here are three things that push my buttons… and they also happen to be narcissist/sociopath red flags:

  1. Contradicting me—in particular, contradicting me when I state a fact, not even an opinion.
  2. False accusations.
  3. Attempts to gaslight me.
  4. Lies.

This perpetual playground bully whipped all these out in just a couple of comments! I include “attempts to gaslight me” is because this PPB accused me of claiming that 90,000 is the minimum, despite the obvious fact that I clearly stated that it is the standard. Her accusing me of that is a false accusation, a lie, AND an attempt to gaslight me, all rolled into one.

Yeah, I’m going to name a narcissist or sociopath Kerri in one of my stories, for certain. Coming to think of it, I could probably access a list of every bully I’ve blocked on Nazibook… that’s like a ready-made list of names for villains. If you’re a bully and you know I’m a writer, you’ve automatically given me permission to base a character on you.

The nerve of me, interacting on social media just the way other people interact on social media without being under attack. Am I shivering from cold, or am I shivering from shock? Hmmm. You’d think that a fact about word count would be one thing I can post on social media without being under attack, but… nope. There is absolutely nothing I can post on social media without being under attack from someone who has a shortage of empathy and should go back to the playground.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.