Margaritas and Bulges…

Margaritas

I got drunk and signed up for eHarmony.  Yes, I did.  That’s something you will never see in a Jane Austen novel.  I am apparently doing this whole online dating thing incorrectly. It’s been three weeks and I haven’t even been able to get one date.  So someone please tell me how to actually do it correctly and get, I don’t know…A date.  Just one.  One date is how I will know if I am ready to move on from the sociopath or not.

First, let’s start with eHarmony because my drunken self cost myself a lot of money and I have six months to figure this out and make it worth my money.  So far, three weeks into it, I am totally clueless.  So I check eHarmony every morning, and every morning it faithfully delivers me new matches.  I go through and select the ones I am interested in and send them my 5 stupid questions.  And then…usually they do not respond.  I have sent 25 requests.  Only two have responded and the other one, I got all the way through the system with, sent him an email and he did not respond to that, bizarre!!

The other guy, I got all the way through the communication process with, I gave him my phone number thinking that hey, he is a teacher so he has to be reasonably sane right?  For some reason, I am talking about margaritas and my love for them, and he then tells me he has a bulge in his pants.  WHAAAAT?  Then the next morning he texted that he woke up with an erection.  That is just disgusting.  I don’t want to know about that!  I’ve never met the guy.  So I told him it wasn’t going to work out and then he criticized me for not being able to take a joke.

I mean am I doing something wrong in contacting these guys first?  I mean I figure that we are all on the damn site paying so damn much for the same damn reason, so why the hell not?  Why play hard to get?  I don’t play games.  I want a date damnit.  Just one date!  Why is that so hard to achieve??

Plenty of Fish stories to come in the next post. I am still re-reading Emma so I am killing time before those posts!

Henry Tilney: The model man

Tilney

In thinking about my disastrous relationship with the sociopath, I am creeped out by all the ways he was able to seamlessly lie and manipulate me.  As I was re-reading Northanger Abbey, I began to really notice that Henry Tiley has every opportunity to take advantage of Catherine. But he doesn’t. Because he is a model man.

First of all, Tilney believes that “excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes”. And that, in a time where women were not allowed to vote, and looked upon as second class citizens, is sexy.  Tilney is able to see the good qualities in women. I am sure the sociopath noticed my good qualities. I am kind, trusting, and loyal.  Yet, the sociopath took advantage of that while Tilney does not.  Yes, I stupidly believed he was working one hour late.  Yes, I stupidly believed that he was at his friends house the weekend he was in a hotel with a girl.  Yes, I stupidly believed he had a degree, and money, and he would inherit his grandmother’s house. Yes.  I believed this.  Henry Tilney could take advantage of Catherine’s youth and innocence, but he doesn’t; he has honor.

In addition, Tilney takes an interest in women.  He knows gowns and he often helps his sister pick out gowns.  This is not a traditionally masculine job, yet he does not hesitate to discuss fabric and prices.  Gosh, I couldn’t even get the sociopath to read The Great Gatsby because it is a novel I love to teach.  It is 180 pages for goodness sakes!  I wasn’t asking him to read Gone with the Wind! In fact, I couldn’t get him to take an interest in anything other than sports.  He wouldn’t even be my date to prom (as a chaperone). As Tilney says “The person, be it a gentleman or lady, who has not the pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”  I really should have listened to Tilney’s advice right there!

In short, Tilney, is funny, kind, takes an interest in women, believes that women are equals, and likes to read.  I think I may be in love with Henry Tilney.  Does such a man exist in the modern world???

finding a man

My next adventure will be Emma.  Read it with me if you’d like and stay tuned!

I dated John Thorpe: the sociopath

liar

The DSM categorizes a sociopath as having all of the following according to Mcaffee at http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm
  • Manipulative and Conning
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
  • Pathological Lying
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
  • Shallow Emotions
  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
  • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
  • Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
  • Irresponsibility/Unreliability
  • Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
  • Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
  • Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility

When I first set out to read Jane Austen to see what it had to teach me about men and dating, I did not expect to find a sociopath within the pages of Northanger Abbey. Yet John Thorpe’s behavior is much like that of my ex-boyfriend.

Pathological Lying: Both Thorpe and my ex were guilty of this.  John repeatedly lies to Catherine so much that she “knew not how to reconcile two such very different accounts of the same thing.” He lies to her and tells her he sees the Tilney’s going on an excursion so that he can have her to himself.  This is very similar to my ex.  Every facet of his life was a carefully constructed lie. He told me he couldn’t drive because he got a DUI (the truth is he didn’t have his driver’s license). He told me he went to Kent State (he got kicked out due to poor grades).  He told me he was looking for engagement rings (he was cheating on me).  The lies went on and on…much like John Thorpe’s lies.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt: When Catherine sees the Tilneys and realizes that Thorpe lied to her, she asks him to stop, but he refuses.  He laughs at her and speeds up the carriage so that she cannot get out.  He has little remorse for lying and she is completely mortified.  My ex on the other hand would pretend to have remorse, but only after he got caught. And even if he got caught, he would lie about the circumstances.  When I confronted him about his infidelity, he lied and said it had only been going on a month when in reality, it had been going on almost a year.

Superficial Charm: The reason why Thorpe and my ex can get away with lying is because they are charming.  Thorpe endlessly flatters Catherine and calls her “the most charming girl in the world.”  My ex told me he would love me forever.  She does not know how to reconcile his “endless conceit” with the fact that he is “completely agreeable.”  This is because our society has such a distinction between good and bad that when they are blurred, it is hard to reconcile that bad people hide behind good words.  My ex told my whole family how much he loved me and didn’t want to lose me, yet at the same time, he was having sex with a girl in my condo.  He was good at what he did and so is Thorpe.

Callousness/Lack of Empathy : John shows this on numerous occasions throughout the book. He tells his younger sisters they look ugly. He tells Catherine that her brother’s carriage will break down, and doesn’t understand why she gets upset by this.  John does not rest his horse and claims to ride the horse 40 or 50 miles per day showing no empathy for the poor animal.  He also tells his sister she has thick ankles and will not go on an excursion with her.  This callousness and lack of empathy is very consistent with my ex boyfriend.  When he was drunk, he would call me a “fat fuck” or a “whore” and then claim to have no memory.  He would criticize my cooking and cleaning and have little to no concern for my feelings whatsoever.

Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature : John exhibits poor behavioral controls when he drives his gig.  He swears at the horses and he gets angry.  He blames their failure to reach Blaze Castle on James Morland’s driving.  Also, when Catherine gets upset and tries to chase after Tilney, John held her so that she could not leave. John also spends a lot of time talking about horse racing and gambling which suggests that he has an addiction.  Similarly, my ex I believe had an addiction to gambling, pot and alcohol. Whenever we were at a bar or a party, he had to be the last one to leave.

 

I think the point that I learned from re-reading Northanger Abbey is that unfortunately sociopaths are everywhere.  I wish I could have been smart like Catherine Morland and NOT fallen for my sociopath’s charms.  He roped me in so thoroughly with vague lies that I mistakenly filled in the blanks with my own optimistic vision of him. So never again will I fall for the charms of a liar.  Catherine is lucky that she escaped John’s grasp because she would never have been happy with him.  In all, I am lucky to have escaped my sociopath’s grasp without greater harm.

Rain on your wedding day and cat poop in your bed

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This is a non-Jane Austen post, but I had to write about my adventures this weekend. I was in a wedding in LA this past weekend.  It was lovely (but it did rain). I thought California was going through a drought but you wouldn’t know it from when I was there.  It rained for four days.  At the wedding, the groom’s grandmother asked me if I was pregnant while I was holding a beer.  I was completely mortified.  The thing that was so hard about that is that I lost 20 pounds in the two months since the breakup with the sociopath.  I feel much better and I look better (I do have about 20 more pounds to go, but up until the pregnancy comment, I was really proud of myself).  A few months ago, a student asked if I was pregnant as well.  It’s pretty heartbreaking and I wish that people would have a little more tact than that, but I suppose I can forgive an 80 year old I glared at the student and was pissed off at him for the rest of the period.

Secondly, I took a red eye flight from LAX to Cleveland.  I got in at 6:00 am and was so excited to sleep in my own bed.  I got my Uber with no problem (then he went the wrong fing way on the highway) and then when I finally got home, I went up the stairs to see my bedroom door was shut.  I knew exactly who the culprit was of that affair (Pumpkin, the buttercream cat in the picture).  He must have batted the door shut.  Luckily, I have a master bathroom so he had access to the toilet for water, but he pooped and peed in my bed.  I am already sleeping without a comforter (I threw it away hastily after I found out my ex-boyfriend had sex with a girl in my bed), so I am using a sleeping bag.  So now, I have no sheets, no comforter and only a few blankets on my bed.  I feel like a pauper.  Welcome back to Cleveland, oh and there’s snow in the ground…in APRIL!!

So thirdly, in conversations with people over the wedding, someone brought up a dating website called Plenty of Fish.  I have a friend who met a guy on that website and I am intrigued, but it got really terrible reviews.  I have used online dating websites in the past, and I didn’t like how I felt that there was no chemistry and it felt, I don’t know…artificial.  I think about Jane Austen’s day where men and women would meet and social events like balls and parties.  There is something about making eye contact with a guy, being introduced to him and dancing that produces more chemistry than a picture and a carefully worded profile ever will I think.  But maybe I am wrong.  Has anyone tried online dating?  I  would love to hear your experiences with it.

I Need a Hero: wait, I am one.

Superman-is-a-Hero

Okay, so I’m not talking about that kind of hero.  George RR Martin said “we are all the heroes of our own stories” and how true?  I mean, we are after all the centers of our own worlds.  At the beginning of Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen says “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.” Of course, here Austen is mocking the traditional heroine in novels, but what I like about Catherine is that she is rather ordinary.  But that is the reality in our own lives. I am not anything special, yet I am still the center of my own world. This is what I need to realize. No matter what the sociopathic ex-boyfriend did or said, I am in control of my life.  I don’t need a man to come and save me.  And certainly Catherine didn’t either.  

The Transcendentalists believed that we are all “minds of Gods” walking around.  So while we might be our own heroes and the centers of our world, we need to understand that other people are thinking the same thing about themselves.  It makes me sick the way that people treat each other.  The sociopath at times would verbally abuse me.  He would prey upon my deepest insecurities and expose them in subtle ways that I am just now beginning to understand.  He did not treat me as though I was a hero. Instead, he was (and still is) selfish.  He brought the girl to MY house when I was out of town and had sex with her, violating everything I stand for and believe.  We are all heroes in our own stories, but we must treat each other with respect and dignity.

I think Catherine’s main issue is that she fails to realize she is a hero so she imagines situations that are dangerous or violent.  In short, she wants excitement, but what she doesn’t realize is that she doesn’t really want those things.  Sure it’s easy to pretend you are something you are not.  Sure it’s easy to fantasize that your life is better.  But ultimately, it is your life and you can make the decision to change it if necessary. The white knight is not going to come riding on his horse to save us.  Darcy is not going to emerge from the pond in a dripping wet white shirt to enamor us.  I realize that it is up to me to make my own life worth living.  It is hard, and the road to recovering from being a victim is long.  I regressed quite a bit last weekend.  Then I was mad at myself for regressing.  But I am trying and that is what matters.  I will be my own hero.  I don’t have super-powers, and I am just an ordinary person, like Catherine Morland, but I will succeed in the end (and maybe, just maybe end up with a great guy like Catherine did!).  So just ask yourself, how are you your own hero?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

In addition, I am thinking I will do one more post on Northanger Abbey (I need to look at the male characters a little more) and then I will move onto Emma, which is one of my favorites!

Looking for danger in Northanger Abbey

One thing I think is interesting about Catherine from Northanger Abbey is that she actually looks for the dark side of people.  She looks for the hunted castles and the morbid secrets that might lurk at Northanger Abbey. Yes, she takes things too far, but she ultimately does what I wish I would have done: look past the glitz and glamour to see the true “man behind the curtain.”

I think that we all want to see the good in people.  I know with my ex-boyfriend, I wanted to see the best in him.  I saw him only through rose colored glasses and I didn’t see the true him.  But that’s because he is a sociopath and he showed me what I wanted to see.  He lied seamlessly and he hid his dark secrets from me, or when I did see his dark secrets, he lied and reassured me I was imagining things.  I wish I could have been a little like Catherine and at least tried to see through his darkness.  At least then, maybe I would have saved myself a little bit of pain.  Catherine is not wrong in thinking that bad things happen, because they unfortunately do.  While Catherine might have gone too far in thinking General Tilney murdered his wife, he in fact “acted neither honourably no feelingly–neither as a gentleman nor as a parent” (161). And thus Catherine is not completely wrong in seeing his dark side.  While he didn’t murder his wife, he treated Catherine very poorly by throwing her out of his house without so much as a chaperone to take her home.  Something very horrible could have truly happened to her because of that.  And Catherine is not foolish for thinking so.

Like Catherine, I wish I would have seen more of the sociopath’s dark side.  For four years I let him manipulate me and then, when the truth of his double life came out, it was so overwhelming and shocking that I am not sure I will ever recover.  Sociopaths are good at what they do.  They are good at making you believe what they want you to believe.  And they are good at tearing your heart out and pretending it is your fault.  So I do not think that Catherine Morland is foolish to look at the possible dangers in the world and to think the worst in people because there is danger in the world and some people really are unfortunately, really bad people.