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Talent and Fuckupedness

I’m sure I’m not alone in admiring the talents of many cheaters. I really can’t think of many great artists, leaders, or musicians that weren’t also total shits in their personal lives. Here’s a few I admire: Sam Cooke. Alice Neel. Jackie Wilson. Picasso. Gauguin. Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lyndon B. Johnson. Diego Rivera.

I wouldn’t want to be married to any of these people. Hell no. But I admire their gifts. They are the rare narcissists whose talents transcend their shittiness. Does anyone admiring a Gauguin painting consider that he left six children to paint topless women in Tahiti? How many people know that Sam Cooke was shot in a hotel room while cheating on his wife? Does anyone care that Jackie Wilson purportedly fathered 10 children out of wedlock before age 17? The man could DANCE and SING. “Mr. Excitement” was the Sparkliest. Man. That. Has. Ever. Existed.

(I love this clip, except for the part where he is consumed by a legion of square white people in bad sweaters trying to snuff out his coolness.)

As I wrote in an earlier post, I think you can enjoy the giftedness of some artists without boycotting them for their fucked up personal lives. Where you draw that line is your personal call. The point is that many people confuse talent with fucked up personal lives. “I have a fucked up personal life ergo I’m Very Special in a tortured kind of Greater Purpose way.”

Some rare creatures have both talent and fuckupedness. Most merely have fuckupedness.

My cheater must have imagined he was a great International Man of Mystery, with his secret spy phone, hidden bank accounts, and awesome powers of seduction. In truth, he was a paunchy, bald civil servant up to his eye sockets in debt. The OW was an aging alcoholic. The height of their romance was an afternoon fuck at a mid-priced hotel in Harrisburg, Pa.

I know. This is the stuff of celebrity. I did often wonder how I could compare with that kind of wonderful.

The myth that My Chaos Is Special and Destined for Greater Things seems to be all-pervasive in our society. Heck, I’ve been seduced by it myself, when I was younger, chumpier, and hadn’t been played yet by a cheater.

I’m a big fan of the portrait painter Alice Neel. She persevered as an artist for decades, completely unrecognized and stuck with portraiture while abstract expressionism reigned. She didn’t get her due until her 70s. But her personal life was a train wreck. Actually train wrecks are the model of sanity compared to Alice Neel. She lost one child to diphtheria. The other one was taken from her. She attempted suicide. She recovered and hooked up with an abusive sailor who burned nearly all of her art work. She was on the dole. She had two children out of wedlock, raised them quite heroically alone in Harlem, but one of her lovers beat the shit out of the kid who wasn’t his. Oh, and she was the Other Woman to one patron in particular. Helped destroy his marriage.

There’s an amazing film about her life, and Neel’s son (the one who got beaten) says painfully, “I don’t like Bohemian culture. I think a lot of innocent people are hurt by it. I consider that I was hurt by it.” The daughter that was taken from her never reconnects with her. At one point, she listens to a lecture Neel gives and doesn’t tell Neel she is her daughter. Later, she kills herself.

There was a time I thought this was romantic.

The rules do not apply to Alice Neel. She must’ve had narcissism of steel to persevere as an artist when nobody gave a shit. But innocent people paid the price for that narcissism — her children, her lover’s wife. Neel suffers and is rewarded in the end. Those innocent people just suffered.

It’s an incredible story of personal vindication of one’s talents. It’s a rare story. How many other people create chaotic lives, tell everyone it’s for a greater purpose, and are never vindicated as special. All the entitlement, none of the fairy tale ending. The banal narcissists with no talent who want special considerations for their self-inflicted “brokenness.”

You could argue that Neel’s accomplishments weren’t worth the people she hurt to achieve them. You could argue that about a lot of people.

What a seductive narrative to think that self destructiveness has purpose. Yes, people are going to get hurt, but it’s for a greater cause. A cheater imagines they are tortured and star-crossed, but hurting everyone is okay because it’s a Higher Love, that ordinary people can’t understand.

When you’re living in a chaotic whirlwind, the highs are high and the lows are low. There is an edge to the pick me dance. A win or lose excitement. This shit, the intermittent rewards, is even addictive. We are characters in a great romance! Will we be loving and all forgiving? Can we martyr ourselves for love? Or can we seduce our lover back from the Great Danger of the other person? We get hooked on the narkles. We get caught up in the game.

How much more sobering to step out of the drama and see it for the banal crazy that it is. You are not exceptional. Your cheater is not exceptional. There is no purpose to this chaos other than chaos. Most likely your cheater is not going to go on to Greater Things. It’s all third-rate fucks in Harrisburg and no Nobel Prize.

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  • Narcissists can be very talented because they do not appreciate others or have empathy. This saves them a lot of time and energy!! They can focus on their important plans and grandiose ideas. There is a researcher/psychoanalyst named Michael Maccoby who writes about “The Productive Narcissist.” He describes that they often have a great vision, and usually have a wing-man to help them complete their vision. We chumps know how to be a wing-man, don’t we? They just aren’t nice people to be around. Their vision comes first!

    • Nail on the head, Meg!

      Their uber-ego works for them in a big way, especially for those tasks where you need decisiveness and leadership. From an evolutionary, Darwinistic standpoint: they get the girls, they get cooperation from their string of chumps to free them up for all their accomplishments, they spread their seed, they succeed. While the less “viable” specimens fade into the background or away.

      Is society strong enough to turn away from our acceptance of this prototype, and value a talented, less ego-driven individual with integrity in a leadership position, or are we wired to be drawn to a veneer that hides the deceitfulness and braggadocio? If more were known of their character in REAL-TIME, could we turn our backs on them and their “talents.” Would they be as appealing a performer, SO, leader, preacher? So much of this behavior has become normalized… moral relativism and all that…. After my experiences, I’d like to say, “the buck stops here.” Hopefully my picker has improved.
      I think CL has it right about fixing our pickers, but it should become a global zeitgeist.

      • This researcher believes that while some people are full-out narcissistic from late adolescence, many people have some narcissistic traits. When that person does have special talent/brains/looks, and because of that gets treated as if their shit really didn’t stink, that’s when full-blown narcissism can develop in people who might have been a lot more pleasant and reasonable to be around, otherwise.

        The best explanation of this that I’ve seen is here, even though it’s an older article;

        http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/magazine/the-year-in-ideas-a-to-z-acquired-situational-narcissism.html

        I think this would go far to explain the Tiger Woodses (what IS the plural of a Tiger Woods????) of the world! And a lot of other talented, accomplished jerks. This is what our culture encourages.

        And I’m betting that the ‘good wingman’ is the one who keeps things on track when the narc is being a narc, and follows through when the narc doesn’t, makes it all possible.

        But more garden-variety narcissists usually end up being huge disappointments to themselves and others. All that potential … that they don’t have the strength of character to follow through on. All that charm … that is hollow in the end, and people gradually eventually realize it. Those gorgeous looks … that fade with time. That brainpower or talent … that acts so entitled it destroys its own career.

        I’ll keep on admiring their talent and the accomplishments … from afar!

      • I thought it was interesting that the movie “J. Edgar” portrayed President Hoover’s relationship with companion Clyde Tolson as a typical narc/chump affair.

  • When I list my favourite authors, so many of them are/were narcissists, leaving a trail of broken lives behind them. But in North American culture, at least, it seems to always be the narcissist who is glorified, admired, written about. The chumps who support, encourage, and clean up are ignored, an embarrassment, because after all “true wuv” is what really, really counts. Not loyalty, constancy, caregiving, childraising,….

    Last week STBX went over to Son’s place, in some kind of odd attempt to make contact. Son told him that he had never been much of a father and it was too late to start now. STBX just looked at him and said “I don’t know what to say to that”, emotionless, and left.

    Was it always like this? A society where it’s ok, even admirable, for people to just leave the complications and hard work behind when it doesn’t suit any more?

  • So true so true so true! My ex said, among other wack things, that he was no longer attracted to me, “because I didn’t go to drama school.” [I know, crickets,…right?] He wanted Creativity! Artistic Expression! Et Cetera! in his life.

    The fact that I had just written an award-winning book–eh, not so much. Didn’t count.

    Trust That They Suck.

    • OOPS! You outshone him. Narcissists hate that! They have to be one up, and you have to be one down. They are legends in their own minds!

    • Actually I agree with Meg, you outshone him so he talked you down. I got a masters but wasn’t allowed to put up my certificate without making room for his Rotary members certificate. Good thing I’m handy with a hammer 😉

  • FWIW,

    I think the stereotypes of the “tortured artist” , “mad scientist” or the “sociopathic CEO” and so on are largely mythical. Are there people who fit those stereotypes? Sure, but is the incidence of narcissism/borderline/bipolar/sociopathic disorders really that much different than it is in the population at large? I doubt it.

    I can’t find any longitudinal study that establishes this, so I suspect these stereotypes are largely the result of confirmation bias. I don’t doubt that certain professions would be attractive to particular abnormal personality types, but I do doubt they are any more capable of being creative, inventive, or disciplined, and more often than not… disordered behavior is an impediment to their success.

    I think that when you do have a talented and successful person who is so obviously flawed, it gets our attention. It even offers us the opportunity to say to ourselves, “Hey, my lifestyle may be unremarkable, but at least I am not a nut like Britney Spears”, and I see how with people of celebrity status the dysfunction can lead to more notoriety because of the public’s fascination for watching train-wrecks. I just think that the happy and contented lives of talented people don’t get our attention the same way as the lives of talented people who are total screwups gets our attention 🙂 Sort of the way safe drivers don’t get our attention, but the maniac cutting in and out of traffic and riding our bumpers sure does.

    Not sure how accurate my suspicions are, but it seems this is something that could be tested by good longitudinal studies.

    • I might concede on politics though. I am not sure, but the electoral process may filter out honest people and skew the population 🙂

      • TimeHeals, there was a brilliant documentary on BBC about the last of the aristocrats, a class of people who used to run Britain. They were driven quite a lot by noblesse oblige, or that they had a duty of care.

        At the end of the documentary, one old boy said that he didnt believe in democracy. When asked why, he said, ‘well, the voters just might like someone with a lovely smile’.

        And then we got Tony Blair…

  • My XH was quite driven and the only arena he was really successful in was his job because his personal life sucked. He’s the guy who told me I was his second wife only to find out after we were married that I was his fifth. Talk about lying by omission. I know he cheated on most of them. He told me one of them cheated on him but I’d like to hear her side of the story. (Not really because I don’t care)

    His M.O. He was faithful until he wasn’t and all it took was some women to bat her eyelash’s at him and he was a goner. If any woman paid attention to him that he found remotely attractive he just HAD to fuck her. Then he HAD to fall in love with her. I guess that’s how he convinced himself it was somehow okay. Then comes the love bombing. The women become convinced they’re Really. That. Special.

    What’s up with all the women who so willingly fuck another woman’s husband? They certainly seem to outnumber men who will fuck a guy’s wife. When I was first single I was on a dating site and I was legally separated (Only because I needed his medical insurance for the time being) and men Would NOT date me because of that. I’ve seen it all my life. There are women who will do anything to have a man. And I mean anything. Fuck your husband. Break up your home. And I know it’s the cheating ex’s fault but there is a never ending supply of Skank Women who will fuck someone’s husband.

    My predator Narc always looked for the same kind of woman. Someone educated, accomplished, employed with a house, so he could move in with her right away. He’s never been single more than 9 seconds in his life. He goes from woman to woman to woman. He left my bed and was in OW’s bed within 24 hours living with her and never blinked an eye.
    Who are these people??

    A lot of people thought my XH was successful. He gave many people in our community jobs and they thought he was a hero. When he pulled his shit on me, people quit talking to me. They thought they had to take sides. That was so painful. To have my XH and his Twu Luv nancing around goopey gooing each other rubbing my nose in shit sandwiches. ‘Our friends’ totally ignored me. Only ONE person sought me out to see how I was doing. I would walk down the street and if I saw someone we used to know they pretended they didn’t see me. Ouch.

    • ” I’ve seen it all my life. There are women who will do anything to have a man. And I mean anything. Fuck your husband. Break up your home. And I know it’s the cheating ex’s fault but there is a never ending supply of Skank Women who will fuck someone’s husband.”

      I know this isn’t politically correct, but I agree with you. There just seems to be more women willing to KNOWINGLY be the OP than men. I don’t know whether men are raised to be more possessive and unwilling to share or what, but there it is.

      You frequently hear about serial OW’s who are damned proud of it, but serial OM’s? Who are willing to give advice on how to be an OM? Not so much. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are filled with side pieces, jump off’s, mistresses and such proudly displaying themselves and picking fights with the wife or girlfriend. Don’t see that many OM’s doing that. So little of them that there aren’t any catchy little names for them.

      • I have to disagree on this one. There are just as many men who will screw a married woman as well. I’ve been told many times the old line “I’m not interested in your husband…”

      • You know, I don’t think it’s a matter of political correctness to say more women chase married men. I think it’s an issue of gender politics. If you buy into a certain mindset, men are this Valuable Commodity. A Scarce Resource that must be had by any means. Your economic and social status depends upon a man. (Which historically has been true for women.) So you have to compete for these precious commodities and trade up to gain status.

        I think more enlightened, self sufficient women are revolted by this. And yet, weirdly, OW often cast themselves as way more enlightened than chump women. Oh so sophisticated. When really they are just projecting: I Am Nothing Without A Man. And if I can’t get one honestly, I’ll steal one. Because I’m kind of desperate.

        • Right on, CL. That’s what the OW in my situation is exactly. She has no college degree, was happy to marry a guy who made six figures and took care of her quite nicely, and then when he got too boring/fat/bald/whatever her stupid complaint was, she jumped onto AM to get her thrills while still enjoying her husband’s fat paycheck. Not a surprise that she married my XWH one month after our divorce was final– she needed a new man to take care of her once her marriage imploded, and now, not only does she have her new source of income and health insurance, she cleans up pretty well by getting a hefty chunk of child support from her first husband! Oh, but I’m sure she’s socking that all away for her children’s college funds… *eye roll*

          That’s the truly sad thing– this stupid creature procreated. Her son and daughter will now grow up watching her as their primary role model (and my XWH as their stepdad). They are the true victims in all of this. At least my children have me.

      • I wonder then whether that explains how a 22 year old bisexual ended up with my x. She was willing to go with who ever would have her , poor lonely lamb, and then when she thought there was some interest, she got herself pregnant to clinch the deal.

  • “(I love this clip, except for the part where he is consumed by a legion of square white people in bad sweaters trying to snuff out his coolness.)”

    Still laughing CL, still laughing, thanks!!

  • My XH has said, even when he was trying to reconcile with me, that his career was the most important thing to him (he’s a surgeon). Is that a sign of narcissism? Is it too much to ask that his family come first?

    • Never any question about my ex’s career coming before anything else. He was good at what he did. I always tried to tell him that his job wouldn’t take care of him in his old age and he needed to realize it was his family that was going to be there for him. He always invested more in his job and the women who worked with than in our family.

      • My ex’s job (not career) ALWAYS came first.
        He worked overtime the day after our first son was born rather than visit the hospital.
        I should have known then.

    • It takes a certain personality to be a surgeon. A friend’s sister is one, and I think they have to lack a certain amount of empathy and be self assured, etc.

      • Well, at one point, XH acknowledged to me that having an affair was a terrible thing and said was going to make it up by performing some free surgery on the needy or something to show that he was a good a person.

        I also find it interesting that it was only after XH finished his residency, became board certified and started building a successful practice that he began his affair (perhaps there were others before, who knows). It’s like now that he felt “successful,” it was time to trade up to a newer, shinier model 20 years younger than me.

    • I think it’s a double-whammy – this type of narc over-values their work, it comes before EVERYTHING else in their lives. (At least in my ex’s case, that seemed to be about some desperate need to prove he could succeed.) But they also seriously under-value the ‘everything else’. My ex took me, his kids, our friends, our families, our home, the life we had together COMPLETELY for granted, and didn’t think he should ever have to lift a finger to sustain those things.

      All gone now. Sure hope he enjoys the career.

    • My STBX left me for another married resident. Said that I didn’t understand since I didn’t go to medical school. Barf! I got the whole “my career is the most important thing” garbage. Insane. That is just sad. The two cheaters can have each other. Two narcissist together… We’ll see how that turns out. My heart breaks for our child who didn’t deserve this.

  • Are there different “brands” of narcissism, I wonder?

    From the basically self-absorbed (in amounts greater than the average population) on one end of the spectrum, to “I am so damn great that I can and will do anything I please no matter who or how many I hurt in the process?”

    Also, CL, on a side note, I’ve wondered about your ex and your regular skewering of him on here (not that I mind one bit 🙂 ). He must be aware of what you write. He must squirm nearly daily. Does he rant and rage? Change his name? Go into hiding?

    • No idea. I’m not in contact with him (mercifully).

      He’s something of a cyber stalker, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he read the blog. But as he’s a nonentity in my life — why should I care? If speaking the truth about him upsets him, oh well. Don’t control that.

      He’s a wing nut though, so if he reads at all, he’s probably delighted to be the center of attention. I really don’t try to write much about him, other than to illustrate some point. However, I confess his low brow tastes make for comedic fodder.

      • I had to laugh at your X’s choice of romantic rendezvous. I was just thinking this morning about yesterday’s blog post on respect, and how I’d really lost respect for STBX–not just because he is a liar and hypocrite, but also because he set his bar so low.

        OW is a bit like plastic imitating cubic zerconia, and while I’ll admit that STBX has taken her to a couple of cute restaurants, for the most part, it’s dinner at Chili’s or breakfast at Denny’s. I am sure that partly this is due to the fact that STBX can’t take her any place where we used to eat frequently, but also partly these are OW’s idea of nice places to eat.

      • Yes, he does make for comedic fodder, and I’m thankful that you’re a source of rational inspiration for all of us here.

        Wish you’d been around when the first asshat cheated on me in ’08. He made my recent cheater look like an angel by comparison, but at least dealing with his crap made it very easy for me to walk away and not look back at this last one. I went NC immediately purely out of anger and spite, but found this blog very soon after, and then knew without a doubt that NC meant I turned the tables on him.

        As you so aptly state, “poor sausage.”

  • Such a timely post, CL. A dear friend (who turned me on to your site, btw) and I were just talking about those Ns who lead what could be called “charmed lives.”

    They revel in their fabulousness, chase the drama train when not actually conducting it, and are totally untouched by all the havoc they cause. When it all comes apart and for lack of a better word, there is the chumps’ resentment or jealousy that the N can move on so seemingly seamlessly and continue on his yellow brick road while the chumps are left holding the bag and healing for what seems like ages. Yes, there is a lot of fantasy greatness that buoys the N (see mid-priced hotel in Harrisburg), but there is also a lot of reality greatness, too (see accomplishments of celebs listed above).

    Yes, we can talk about how we are the ones who are better off because unlike the Ns, we can feel deeply and interact with the world with honor, truth and responsibility. But the N’s inability to feel (unless it is to feast on a self-pity party) also means that they have a block — a defense mechanism — a special forcefield that prevents anything from tarnishing the high opinion they have of themselves. It’s maddening that so many of them can sail through life AND get what they want by fair means or foul — without consequences.

      • My counselor told me my ex didn’t feel the depth of emotions I did. I have no doubt that he’s happy and on to the next phase of his life. I’m certainly not going to invest any time waiting for the karma train to hit him, my job is to rebuild my life and live as happily as I can. He checked out of our marriage long before I realized, but he traveled so much for his job it was hard to tell. He’s definitely a person who was living two lives. Once our kids were grown the life he valued more won out.

  • I’m not sure any here have a bigger disconnect between their reality and their delusions of grandeur as my ex. These days, he’s “on a mission from God to wipe out bullying and suicide”! You can’t get much bigger than that. Of course, his reality is not quite so grand, unless by some miracle, the sasquatch children’s show that’s in the works really becomes a hit.

    The entertainment world, arts, politics, big business, religion and sports are filled with narcs. These fields all provide a lot of attention and a lot of admirers, just what narcs need. My ex wrote in his book about himself that he “always knew he was destined to be famous.” Narcs are so hungry for fame, but my guess is even the ones who really DO become famous are still just as hungry and empty inside as before.

    I admit that I am very thankful my ex is a nutjob, however. It would be hard to take if he really did achieve the fame he believes is his birthright. I feel for those chumps here who have seemingly “successful” ex’s, cheaters who truly appear to have it all. That would make the whole process so much worse, although of course CL is right, and even the successful cheaters are still POS, and most disordered are nowhere near the success they pretend to be.

    • Oh Glad, You have a unique high status in this Chump Nation. I’m so glad you are free of him and that you are now in a position to see him (and let us all see him) from this angle. I hope you’re healing 🙂 Hugs!

  • I never saw my XH cry ONE tear over what he did to me while I shed millions. He never apologized to me in any meaningful way. After he left me I had a breakdown. I had what they call ‘broken heart syndrome’ and ended up in ICU for three days. I lost my job.
    Him and her? They were promoted and got raises.
    Eventually they got fabulous jobs at Yale and bought a house on the ocean! I just.don’t.get.it.
    I seriously don’t think either one suffered for a second over destroying me. I found some emails once between them and they made fun of me.

    • Gio, I am saddened by your post. I do hope that you have recovered from your breakdown and moving on with your life. Don’t worry, your ex husband and the bitch who now occupies his world will eventually part. It may not be tomorrow but it will happen one day. As for the emails making fun of you, whilst soul destroying to think that the person you loved has stooped so low, the problem is theirs to own. Cruel rotten rats that is what they are. Please let me know that you are okay now. Kindest regards.

        • Gio, I am not sure that the person who is dumped, be it a woman or a man, whilst we get on with it, I am not sure that we ever fully recover. I spent 37 years loving and supporting my ex husband but I literally had to shut down my mind and heart where he is concerned or it will kill me. He made it easy for me to do that once he undid his zipper for a 20 year Asian prostitute and he is 61 years old. The thought makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. I was the best thing that ever happened to him and he threw me away. When you are a good and decent person, being discarded like a pair of old shoes is soul destroying. My best wishes to you.

          • Maree…I have wondered many times if you ever ‘really get over it.’ It was the worst pain imaginable. I know it shaved years off my life. If I ever find the person who said, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…’
            Double bullshit on that one.

            • Gio, that would be Nietzsche and don’t worry, he lived a very short life and he was not as profound as many philosophy students would like to believe. You survive because you are strong, the suffering or pain doesn’t make you stronger. It weakens you, BUT, you are strong so you will overcome it and regain that strength. Fuck Nietzsche, he didn’t live long enough to know. Keep on keepin on Gio – Jedi Hugs

        • Gio, I understand about broken heart syndrome because my heart hurt so bad after my ex left. I kept holding things to my chest to try and soothe it, anything that represented connection with others like my cell phone, gifts I’d received throughout our marriage, my kids’ stuffed toys. It was brutal and it’s true that people can die from a broken heart. We are survivors and we’re going to be a lot better off without people in our lives who are so callous and cruel.

  • Sometimes I wish I did have a heart of stone and was able to disassociate myself from feeling empathy for others and caring about how my actions affect those around me – it would certainly have prevented all the emotional pain I felt after my Ex left and took up with his adoring, passive little mistress. (My children describe her as very quiet, very short, and that she looks at him before she speaks…my mind pictures her as a little chihuahua gazing up at it’s master for approval.) I wish sometimes that I could truly believe it in my heart when I say f**k him and who cares what he thinks or does!? In reality, I am still hard-wired to CARE – to wish that things were different – to wonder sometimes in moments of weakness if he is OK. Are narcissists really better off than chumps in some twisted way? They certainly don’t have to live through the pain so many of us have felt. They just blithely go on about their lives whistling a happy tune over the graves of those who loved them and were left behind. Is it better to be a grave dancer or a chump who glues their heart back together and tries to get on with life despite the cracks and scars? In my dark moments when I occasionally cry myself to sleep – I would give anything to just not FEEL.

    • No, No, No! If you stop feeling or caring then he wins! I feel sad sometimes, but then I focus on all of the things I gave up and I work on my plan for my NEW life. Spring will be here soon so I’m working this body to get to the new me. He fired me and to be honest I’m glad to have his foot off my neck. I can finally breath, eat, sleep, exercise, and even pick my nose if I want to without a second thought given to his controlling ways.

      He messed up, but now I get a fresh start, a second chance, to create a new life. I’m preparing my self for a better life, a better love, and even better sex…yyay! hehehe.

    • I know what you mean, Nicole, but don’t deny who you are. You just need to find someone who appreciates your feelings instead of ignores them.

    • Nicole, with time you will find that your caring is directed more and more to other people, other important things in your life. Then it will again be a source of joy in your life, not of pain.

      Sending you Jedi hugs!

    • Your comment made me think of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. She has done tons of research on shame and vulnerability and has discovered in her research that it is being vulnerable that is the key to living a full life. The book is really interesting and is not boring or difficult to read. I am about halfway through and have underlined all over it. I decided to read it because after my ex left me, I was worried I would close myself off in the future. The book is encouraging me that an emotionally closed off life is not the kind of life I would want to have… She also has some great YouTube videos.

    • Yes, NC I think the cheaters have a very easy time moving on.
      I always told people, that, ‘yes my, XH looks like a REAL person, but he isn’t.’ I honestly don’t think these Narcs are ‘real people’ in any real sense. They’re fake people with fake lives and they couldn’t care less who they hurt or destroy as long as they get want they want or need. They’re like tornadoes roaring through our lives.

  • Sigh. My ex is talented, and has been rewarded for it with all sorts of media attention, album/book contracts, and millions of dollars. I am a struggling student. (Btw, with this type of economic disparity, you might imagine I was treated to dinners during the relationship, but, nope, all expenses had to be split 50/50, cause my ex wanted an “equal partnership”…which included, for some reason, one-way infidelity)

    • Ugh BP–same thing here. Mine made BIG BUCKS and never hesitated to flaunt it, being a big tech brain who is well connected. When I quit my job to take the summer off (at his urging btw), he would give me the side-eye when I would ask him to pick up more dinners than usual because I didn’t have a paycheck (funemployment lasted all of 4 months, and he acted like he was burdened as the sole breadwinner). Which btw, I paid my entire way of my funemployment—insurance, bills, groceries, he paid for nothing over and above except the odd night out. I paid for everything else 50/50 when he could have easily forgone buying that $1k piece of luggage for himself…..narkles sparkles. Oh that piece of luggage he was going to take to San Fran to be with the AP skank until he got caught….oh my what a boner killer that was for him 🙁

  • The only talent my STBXH has IS his fuckedupness. He is a master at seemingly having his life on track, then starts searching for side pussy, and then blows everything out of the water. He does this while sobbing and crying about what bad choices he’s made. 45 years old and he’s got nothing to show for his life and has given away two houses. Way to go, dumbass.

    • LOL. At a distance… and if you haven’t made the mistake of getting caught up in their screwedupness, you can almost feel sorry for people who keep blowing up their lives, agonizing over it, and then repeating it over and over. It’s almost like they believe in the multiple images they try to project and don’t know who they really are either.

      I said, “almost” feel sorry for them. After you’ve been in a relationship with somebody like that, what you mostly feel is repulsion, but still… it’s sort of pitiful in a “blow up everybody’s life including your own” kind of way.

      • Yeah, I don’t feel too sorry for him. He mixes feeling sorry for himself with blaming me for the choices he made, because you know, had I been a better wife-y, he wouldn’t have felt the need to stray. Repeatedly. Over and Over again. lol

  • “The end justifies the means.” As in, our twu wuv is so special, it doesn’t matter who we hurt along the way. As in…I’m so talented, it doesn’t matter that I’m abandoning my children to follow my career. etc. etc. Ugh. Any push-back is just a sign that people are trying to stand in the way of progress.

  • My Ex is also talented. He and his brother (business partner) divorced their wives at the same time. 3 months later his brother died, leaving him the sole owner of the business which he promptly sold for millions. He and his secretary/girlfriend now live waterfront with over $250,000 worth of cars in the driveway and fly to the second ski home frequently. Lied to the kids and got off scott free. He’s such a great guy! (Gag) It sucks to watch. I’m not living on the curb and am happier w/o his controlling ways but it’s still frustrating knowing the business was built during our 24 year marriage and the “I’m not sleeping with her” secretary gets the financial gain.

    I have learned that peace of mind is more valuable then money can buy. He may get looks while driving the fancy cars but he has to stand in front of a mirror and be at peace with how he has treated others. I have a hard time believing that has no effect on him, physically or spiritually. On some level, they have to know…

    • I wasn’t married to my cheater, so no finances to split or fume about him leaving me without. My cheater is well-off, and with his brother’s recent passing, he now has two beach-front condos and a nice home with a business in PA.

      He has begged and begged (in some really embarrassing ways) for me to take him back, and I’m sure he thought the lure of what he has would do the trick, especially considering how cold the winter has been where I’m at (he’s spending the winter at the beach, of course). I work hard for what I have, and I get by, but I’ll never have his wealth. So what. I’d rather be in my humble home, living an honest life than live with him or his cheating.

      I came into this world with nothing, and will leave that way, too. You are right, Mel. We chumps, by the virtue of who we are, have things that money can’t buy. Peace of mind is just the beginning.

  • After much thought i have concluded that the end never justifies the means .NEVER.
    (by the way i would prefer less swearing) these people do great harm and while we can possible “forgive” them, talent and genius are no excuse for soul murdering .
    all best muriel schnierow

  • “How much more sobering to step out of the drama and see it for the banal crazy that it is. You are not exceptional. Your cheater is not exceptional. There is no purpose to this chaos other than chaos. Most likely your cheater is not going to go on to Greater Things. It’s all third-rate fucks in Harrisburg and no Nobel Prize”
    __________________________________________

    None of those celebrities leaders etc are exceptional either Chump Lady -not in the greater scheme of things….

    Things happen for a reason…. to help us grow spiritually, before we are born in the physical world, our life is with God.

    We are brought here for a short time to make our choices and destiny for the after life.

    After crossing over the first time and many times after if we haven’t leant our lessons and fulfilled what we suppose to do, we have the choice to come back into the physical world to correct our mistakes and grow from them.

  • Muriel, I would prefer less swearing too.I agree with you on that one! Yes!
    My father is a narcissist, and very accomplished and talented (musically) and smart. he has a phd. What he did for a living-his career and job position- he had picked on purpose and worked towards, only because he would have status and power and admiration. And he did have all that-the admiration and the status and the power. But the lights are on and no one is home with him. He is crazy. He has borderline personality disorder with narcissism, is a sadist, an evil unsafe person, and abused my brothers and I. He really is not a human being. I grew up adamantly believing that I didn’t care at all how powerful or talented someone was. The only thing that matters to me is if they are a nice person (the opposite of my horrible father.) Anyone who is talented but crushes other’s soul as he does-he is the kind of person who leaves the bodies behind as he goes through his life-is a loser to me. I adamantly know this and think this. It doesn’t stop me from liking their music, or talents, but these kinds of people are losers as far as I am concerned. They just are. Even though they might be talented-it doesn’t matter. What matters is the heart of someone-if they are good people or not. They are not good people, and anyone who treats the people they are close to like dirt is a loser. Talents, shmalents. Nice music-ok. Whatever. I am so not impressed with their personhood. In fact-the opposite. I would never have contact, be friends with or want to hang out with anyone who is a loser like that. I could listen to their music and love it, but that is because I am not friends with them, in the same room with them, and chatting with them. Yuch! I prefer to be around people who have souls, and are kind. Those kinds of people are winners and wonderful and light up my life.

  • I think it’s important to remember that being a jerk is not required for being successful or creative. In fact, being messed up often interferes with your art – look at Alice Neel’s paintings that were burned.

  • My ex is the oldest child and grandchild, male, and comes from an ethnic group where males clearly have higher status than women. Living in the US, I did not think this would be an issue. But in hindsight, adding to this the facts that he is clearly smart (skipped a grade in school), he never had to work for pay for school, and he only excelled in classes he was interested in… It explains his entitlement.
    He was the Golden Child at home growing up, and he was the Golden Child at work (for reasons I will not go into he)

    But that period when life was tough, when he had to work hard for the first time in his life and found it difficult… Turns out that was the time he was engaged in affair #1.

    So talented and smart, but he internalized it and truly believed he deserved whatever he wanted, never mind wedding vows and children.

    A real waste.

  • I almost wish that my cheater would be accomplished (professionally) because then I wouldn’t feel as much embarrassment admitting to the fact that not only I picked and had children with someone morally bankrupt, shallow, empty and broken, but also someone who is all about mediocrity at best.

  • I watched a Netflix movie recently called “For Ellen”. I started laughing when he screamed into the phone to the bandmate that just fired him(about 20 minutes into the movie). It was my exH to a T. And then “I own half that house!” “Have you been sending her money to pay the mortgage?”, the lawyer asks. “Well, no… but its still half mine!” They may use the “tortured artist” to draw people in, they may actually have some talent, but they’re still scumbags.

  • For what it’s worth, Dr. Seuss’ writing really went downhill without his wife. Helen Geisel was the one who got him started as an artist and then as a children’s book writer.

    Helen Geisel was a children’s book writer and editor herself. It’s easy to imagine the two of them reading each other’s work and critiquing it.

    Helen Geisel had cancer, Dr. Seuss cheated on her with a family friend, and Helen committed suicide. Seuss felt bad, but married the bitch anyway.

    On the surface, the bitch got what she wanted – Seuss married her, they were rich, they gave away money and her name was on things. She did nothing for his career (she wasn’t a writer or a partner-style wife), but she profited from it. She traded in a doctor husband for a famous rich husband.

    I keep coming back to this, though – Seuss’ books just weren’t as good without Helen Geisel. Did he ever notice this and wonder?

  • On this topic of artists, narcissism and womanizing, a must see movie is “Surviving Picasso.” Many abandonments have been rationalized by the quest for the muse of the moment. Picasso devoured women as creative fodder. The film is from the perspective of Francoise Gilot who got away with her spirit intact.

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