Author Archives: Aunt Alex

The Friday Five: July 12, 2013



Five Things That Are More Useful Than a Narcissist During Stressful Times:

1. A chocolate teapot.  Can be eaten with a spoon after it melts all over your stove.

2. A car made out of sugar.  Good for starting conversations.


3. A chia pet named after your ex-toad. Can be thrown against the side of a toolshed, which makes a very satisfying thud and crashing sound.

4. A hand-drawn $4 bill.  Can be crumpled and used to start a campfire.


5. A burned-out lightbulb.  Can hold it over your head and make jokes about how your ideas were so brilliant that they blew out the lightbulb over your head.


It's like talking to a brick wall, only worse.


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Book Review: The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags

Mucho Grande Red Flags


The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted… But Chose to Ignore, by Natasha Burton, Julie Fishman and Meagan McCrary.

Ah, those red flags, those glimmers and hints of bad intent and very bad behavior, flags that indicate there is, underneath that princely exterior, a very toady man, waiting to exhaust, frustrate, use and abuse you all he possibly can. Red flags are signs that your prince is too good to be true, that you’re wasting your energy, and that he’ll certainly break your heart.

I like this book.  Straightforward, wise, and gives specific examples and missions to help you identify red flags — and know what to do about them.  Of course, identifying red flags and responding to them wisely is something lots of people don’t do — love has that effect on people.  Which is wonderful for the rest of us, because then those poor gals will keep the toads (those red-flag-waving assclowns) busy and far away from the rest of us.  Thanks, gals!

The main message of the book is something Aunt Alex believes in with all her heart, which is about cutting your losses.  As this book says, the best way to keep a toad from breaking your heart is not to get involved with him in the first place.  And how, you might smartly ask, should you do that?  You aren’t left to wonder what to look for, or how to interpret his adorable little moves that upset you so.  No, this book tells you what to do to help set things straight.

An example of this: Ask.  You’ve met a guy, you like things about him, you’re interested in a future with him.  You’ve been seeing him for a while, and your stomach feels twisty, like something is wrong.  Maybe it’s just butterflies, right?  Well, if you feel yourself becoming more emotionally invested, and you aren’t sure of where the two of you stand, ask him.  Yes, ask the poor doofus if you’re his girlfriend, and if the two of you have a future.  Then listen to the answer.  Here’s Aunt Alex’s contribution to this excellent suggestion: Any answer that isn’t “yes”, is “no”.  If, after two months together, you ask him if the two of you are a couple, and he says, “maybe”, or “I’m not sure”, or “I need more time”, or “we’re really cool friends”, then you’re his back-up plan, and he’s waiting for someone better to come along (or isn’t “waiting” at all, and just wants to be a stupid player all his life).  So, what to do then?  Cut your losses.  Move on.  Buh-bye, toadface.

Does he still have his Internet dating profile up?  Does he sleep with you and take up your time, but never really helps?  Does he treat you like a booty call, always putting the sex as the #1 most important thing in your relationship?  Does he say he loves you, while he’s dating someone else?  Does he make a lot of promises for the future, but ignore you in the present?

Men get away with hooking up because women let them.  Devaluation hurts, and so sometimes women put off the inevitable indefinitely.  They don’t want to hear it, or feel it.   They assume the deception hurts less than a break-up.  Those women couldn’t be more wrong.

Real men have the strength to be held accountable, to talk about relationships, to share honestly their intentions, and to be monogamous and committed.  They fall in love and stay in love.  They don’t take advantage of people, or lie to get what they want, or take far more than they give.  Toads are never going to change, and so the best thing we can do is to stay away from them.

Is going to the gym his idea of “getting his life together”?  Is he embarrassingly immature and inappropriate?  Does he make fun of your body?  Is he an addict?  Is he passive aggressive?  Does he trigger your “caregiver” instincts?  Does he leave after sex?  Does he say marriage is “just a piece of paper”?  (It’s not.)  In hard times for you, is he nowhere to be found?  Has he accused you of cheating, only because he “feels like you might”?  Does he say he can’t commit right now, because he’s “going through a lot”?

What does your gut tell you — do you deserve better?  As the book exquisitely puts it, “If you have to think twice about whether or not your man is treating you right, you’re already thinking too hard.”

And a red flag from Auntie Alex: Does being with him impact your credibility as a smart, balanced gal? Yes?  Sweetie, cut your losses.

Have confidence.  Don’t pay attention to his BS instead of your own future.  Cut your losses.  It’s the Army Way.

Five out of five Army stars.


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On cutting your losses.

Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes Visit Broadway's "American Idiot" - April 12, 2011


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I think, therefore I am sick of you.

Beautiful verse always brings a tear to Aunt Alex’s eye.  *sniff*



But remember, Cadets, conviction and determination only count if you mean it.  A great life doesn’t fall on you and bring you peace and joy; you have to live it.  So, walk away from toadcraft — and never look back.


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It’s OK. I’m Used To It.

Whenever Aunt Alex hears this, a little part of her soul dies:  “It hardly even bothers me anymore.  I’ve gotten so used to it.”

used to it


Friends, if you find yourself saying this and staying with a narcissist because you’re numb to some of the abuse, please — hie thee to the Army Boot Camp. It is not healthy to be adjusted to an unhealthy situation.  And situations don’t get any unhealthier than trying to work with a toad.

If you’re used to bad treatment, that’s a soul-crushing place to be in your life, and I for one won’t have it.  Get to work on your exit strategy, and soon, you’ll be toad-free, relaxed, and fulfilled, saying, “You know, this good life, I’m getting used to it.”


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Dear Aunt Alex – 4/17/13


Dear Aunt Alex,

In my head, I know that my narcissist ex will never love me. Why can I still not get him out of my head?  I just don’t know how to move on. Knowing he hurts me isn’t enough. any ideas please? I haven’t been out in two months and am suffering.



despair signs

Dear Missy,

Oh, Sweetie.  ::hugs::  This is the whole reason The Army has a base camp on the Internet: The devaluation hurts so bad.  It’s confusing and devastating and dismissive, and feels like you’re being abandoned and thrown away.  There is nothing festive about that.

despair 2

The psychiatrists in cheesy movies say, “Tell me about your parents,” and it’s funny because it’s cliche’ and feels useless.  But it turns out the parents are a superb place to start.  The first cut is the deepest, and the kids of narcissists have a primal, very early punch to their boundaries that most other people don’t.  When a child is ignored and gaslighted by a screwed-up toad parent, it feels confusing and devastating and dismissive, and feels like abandonment.


The boundaries get distorted by the tiny, tender psyche so that the poor kid can survive, and the longing for healthy care and bonding is never forgotten.

Let’s be perfectly clear:  These adult children do not, do NOT, deliberately seek out narcissists so that they can replay the childhood abuse and “fix” it.  That victim-blaming, offensive theory can’t die soon enough for Aunt Alex.  The adult children are more vulnerable to these buttholes because the boundaries are pretzel-twistied.  The narcissist parent punched a hole in the boundaries and that hole remains, and the future toads in her life smell that vulnerability from a mile away.  And those future narcissists stomp, waddle and slither through that hole in her boundaries and munch away freely on her heart and soul.

Now Missy, before Auntie Alex gets quicksanded by her own metaphors, let’s talk about your moving on, and let’s start here: Either you had a narcissist for a parent, or you didn’t.  But the process of moving on and getting him out of your head is essentially the same.

It’s going to take time.  Your heart doesn’t have an on/off switch.  Your affection doesn’t have an “uninstall” feature.  Just like a broken ankle or a case of mono needs time to heal, so does the damage caused by the narcissist.  It runs deep, and it takes more than two months to heal because it’s not superficial and trivial, it’s about betrayal and love and being told you’re a loser and it’s all your fault.  This stuff is A Big Deal.  So, step one: Forgive yourself for being a normal, healthy human being who’s been through a trauma.


Forgive yourself for being kind and vulnerable and emotionally generous and loving.  What happened isn’t your fault.  It’s his.

Step two: Get mad.  He killed your hope.  He lied.  He manipulated.  He tried to stomp down your self-worth so he could feel better about himself.  He did all of this on purpose, and he doesn’t care that you’re hurt.  He’s hurt others before you, and he’ll hurt others after you.  He’s like an opportunistic mosquito: If he’s shooed off of one host, he moves to another.  And then maybe goes back to suck off the first host again.  He doesn’t care who he’s sucking at the moment.  He just wants blood.  And he’ll suck off of hosts for as long as he lives.  Those damaged boundaries make you feel at least partially responsible for the failed bonding in the relationship, but you’re not.  He is.  He fucked the whole thing up.  He wasted your time and your effort, he devalued your love and your appeal, and he insulted and used you and continues to take up real estate in your head.  Ask yourself: Why aren’t you furious?  If someone treated your child or your sister like this, would you be sad, or murderous?  YOU GOTTA GET MAD BEFORE YOU CAN GET OVER IT.

mad baby

Step three: Clear your head (Man, those yoga mindfulness meditation people have got this down pat),  and replace the gross, useless thoughts of the narcissist with MUCH more pleasant things (which is pretty much anything).  No one can just “stop” thinking about something that’s been grinding at them for years.  It leaves a void in your head, and the old, familiar thoughts rush in to fill the space.  What do you love?


Your familyfriends, hobbies, work?

friends on beach

Do you love animalsreadingmovieswriting?  Drawing on your fingers?

friends fingers

If you say, “I tried to go out, to do things, to pick up a paintbrush or write a card to someone, and I just can’t,” that’s your mild, understandable depression lying to you.  You can; the mild depression just doesn’t want to because it wants to be, well, depressed.  It wants you to be uncomfortable so that you’ll try harder to bond with the narcissist, because depression isn’t very smart.  It’s primal and only knows how to “feel”.  You most certainly can start folding real, sweet, enriching things into your day, and getting over that feeling of weakness, getting over that “failure barrier”, is going to take practice.  You have to force yourself to do it the first couple of times, and once you see how doable it is and how much better you feel, it’ll get easier and easier.  For those first couple of times, you have to force yourself to get up, clean up, get out, and DO.  GIVE your brain other things to think about.  Those fresh thoughts and feelings aren’t going to plant themselves in there all by themselves.


You’re doing just fine, Sweetie.  This is how it’s done, with doubt and discomfort and reaching out; it feels futile, but you’re doing beautifully.  Keep up the good work, stay away from the toads, and you’ll have a bright, fulfilling future.







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Seen Around Town

Or a shove off a cliff.


When the narcissist shamelessly, pathetically begs for your attention and admiration, that’s your cue — to run fast, run far.  But it’s OK if you want to push him down a flight of stairs first.  Who wouldn’t?


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Guest Post: Lindsay’s Story


I would never hurt you.

The murder of your soul starts slowly, so slowly you may not even notice it. Notice that you give up yourself so willingly to appease, to seek approval, to make him happy, to get his approval, his kindness – if just for a few minutes, you feel good because you made him feel loved, good, and special. But, then where did you go? Your soul seeps out slowly as he pulls you toward him and then pushes you away. Turns you on like a switch when he wants you. When he is done playing with you, he will put you in a box on a shelf and shut the door, taking you out only when he wants to play again – only when he needs you to make him feel good about himself. Slowly and insidiously your soul is sucked from you, pulled away from your true self and placed in a container. A container he holds. He doles out pieces, pieces of you, and you grab at them and try to hold onto them as if they were gifts of love, compassion, and your ‘one-ness’ with him. Soon he doles out criticisms, anger, and judgmental comments. These are the negative pieces from the container, but you still grab at these as if they were gifts of love because these criticisms are followed by the words you so want to hear “I love you. I am so sorry. I am only trying to help you. I can only think analytically. I am not good at this or showing you or telling you that he I love you….that’s just who I am” he says.

The isolation begins. You start to lose sight of who you are, who you have been, who you used to be, and who you want to be. You only want to focus on how to manage him, manage his feelings, so he is happy, contented, pleased – so he won’t leave. Because if he left his first wife, what makes you think he won’t leave you? Why do you think you are immune to his behaviors? You need him to approve of you, so that he will not be angry with you, and so you won’t lose anything else – no other pieces or parts of your soul will be murdered or sucked from you. All the while you are losing pieces of yourself and your soul to this black hole of confusion – to this vortex of evil and darkness until you can no longer see a way out, no longer see the light, joy, and the goodness of life. Everywhere you look you see losses. You lose touch with your family, with your children, with yourself. You tell yourself that you are doing this for them – the children, the family – to give them a ‘better’ life. You are living a false and painful life. You isolate yourself because you feel so badly about yourself and who you have become – your false/inauthentic self. You do not want anyone to know. You are ashamed. He isolates you more because he wants to own you and possess you. You are his property. You hide because you are living a lie, and you are afraid that your loved ones will see the false self. See that you are acting. You have just become the perfect pawn in his game. He will divide, conquer, and consume you. Your loneliness and isolation becomes palpable. He can feel it, almost taste, and it gives him power! Make no mistake – this is his game and he will win at all costs – that is his goal! He is not pursuing a healthy, nurturing loving relationship – he is playing the game, and you my dear, are the ultimate prize!

Isolation leads to a fragmented self, a loss of self as you are further beaten down into submission.

You start to believe that it is your fault he cannot give you more….give you what you need. But, if you listen really close, you will hear his true words – he cannot give you more because he IS incapable – does not matter why or why not – it’s truly not you. It is him. You are not innocent here. You gave yourself up earnestly, but you did it in the name of being good, kind, and loving – and because you wanted to protect yourself. Protect yourself, so that he would not take any more of you, so that he would not yell and scream at you, so that he would not belittle you or steal your last bit of self-respect. Ironically, you give up pieces of yourself (and ultimately all of yourself) in order to hold onto some semblance of self-respect and a shred of self-esteem. Why? Because YOU love him. But, he told you and showed you ALL along what he could and could not give – these are the signs – the warning signs you should have seen them. So, then is it really your fault because you were not ‘schooled’ in his game. You thought you would help him and love him, and then he would give you the safety and love you so craved. But, he could not and never will because he IS incapable!

With that realization – the realization of the TRUTH – the isolation takes you deeper into the pain and confusion.

His game is always to confuse, to catch you off guard, and to startle you. Confusion is his power.


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And Now For Something Completely Different.


GF cover 3-6-13_edited-1


Sometimes life doesn’t give us Hollywood endings, so we have to create our own.  This fictional memoir introduces Clarissa Daring, whose granddaughter Olivia abruptly went missing from her cottage in the little village of Gales Ferry.  Clarissa is warm, gentle, and loves her family; she also isn’t altogether all too fond of toads.  Toadcraft is something to which Clarissa is no stranger.  From her youth in the rural mountains of New Hampshire to the boys her granddaughters bring home to dinner, Clarissa is able to put into words that sense we all have that something just seems off about a toad.  This is a story of how Clarissa ended up saving not only Olivia, but Olivia’s sister Anne as well.

We’ll post an excerpt soon.


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Freedom means doing a hard thing.

Bridge du Toad

Bridge du Toad

It’s hard for emotionally generous people to burn bridges.  And yet, that’s what you gotta do to get rid of the embarrassing rash on your life known as the narcissist.  It burns like iodine on a knife wound, and I assure you it makes no more sense to keep a toad in your life than it does to deliberately infect and pick at that knife wound in order to keep it sore and in your life as long as possible.



Bridges keeping alive a relationship with a toad benefit the toad, and only the toad.  They’re really unhealthy for you.  So, whether you blow it up in a blaze of fireworks, quietly burn it in a private bonfire, or reduce it to a pile of rubble in a final earthquake of ceremony and pomp: Get rid of the bridge allowing the toad access to your heart.  That bridge leads to Misery, and Gaslighting, and Lies and Manipulation and Torment — all places where he lives, and where sane folk don’t wanna go.  Look at it, closely: it’s not even that great of a bridge.


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