A Method To My Madness

I recently read an article on a study researching the connection between narcissism and personal happiness. Let’s call it “stress tolerance.” The study found that narcissists could handle stress more effectively and were, overall, happier than those who didn’t display narcissistic characteristics.

I found this particularly interesting because, a long time ago, I was diagnosed as a ”narcissist with grandiose self perceptions.” I was given the Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory, the MMPI. It’s a 1000+ question test that is supposed to dig into the deep recesses of your psyche and reveal the “real you.” So, three hours later, I finished the test. One short interview by Army psychologists later, I was pronounced a narcissist. It changed my career but not for the worse. I thoroughly enjoyed my service.

The MMPI is a strangely transparent test for being a psychological tool. The symptoms the test is looking for are painfully obvious when reading the questions. After the first page or two, I picked up the pattern of the questioning and decided to remain consistent throughout the entire test. Because whack-jobs are all over the map, right? I took a “fuck everyone else, me first” approach to answering the questions. Not because I really felt that way, but because it was an obvious pattern in the questioning. Apparently it worked because that’s exactly what a narcissist would do.

As I’ve gotten older, I often ponder the results of that test and the experience in general. Was pretending to be a narcissist while taking the test mean that I am actually a narcissist? Trying to outsmart the system to make myself seem like something that I wasn’t? Maybe the test was correct since I had the idea in the first place. Maybe I was being just as transparent as the test in my attempt to game the system.

I haven’t gotten into the how’s and why’s of the MMPI and how it’s scored to determine a diagnosis. I suppose a clever test writer could leave obvious tropes for different people to pick up on and follow, thus revealing themselves. A less clever (i.e. an 18 year old budding narcissist) could, plausibly, miss the obviousness of the breadcrumbs and follow them. Congratulating himself on how clever he thinks he is for seeing right through the vail and figuring everything out on their own. Or, maybe, as an 18 year old, narcissism is just part of who you are as a teenager and I was/am completely normal.

Since then I’ve read more about narcissism and other anti-social personality disorders and see some of myself in many of the descriptions. I understand that most people have some of the traits, but not all of them. Or you will have tendencies, but not to a degree that would create a diagnosis. So, maybe I am. Or maybe I just over analyze myself and my motivations too much. I don’t usually advertise it, but it’s one of those voices you hear in the back of your mind on occasion.

After reading this article though, I’ve again revisited the inner me. The article struck chords I recognized. A lot. As a rule, I don’t second guess myself. Nearly every time I have, I come out worse than I would have with my initial response. I’ve learned that my “gut instinct” is reliable the majority of the time. This tends to give me a strange “peace of mind” that other people seem to always look for. I can let go of the stress connected to a situation easily.

My strategy is simple, at least to me. Any problem has three possible outcomes. You can make it better, make it worse, or have no effect on it. Only one of those outcomes involves action on my part. If I can make it better, I will. Once I’ve done what I can, the rest is out of my hands. If I can only exacerbate the problem, or not even impact the outcome, I’m wasting my time and efforts. The best I can do is prepare for the outcome of said problem, which is in itself, a huge advantage. I’ve identified the problem and sandboxed likely or plausible outcomes and have time, best case scenario, to prepare for the inevitable. Worst case, I’m aware of what’s happening and why.

Given all of this navel gazing, where does that leave me? Ironically, it leaves me stress free. Mental illness, specifically narcissism, isn’t “treatable” to my knowledge. Since I can’t make myself “uncrazy” my only move is to be aware of it and deal accordingly. I’m not a heartless psychopath. That much I’m sure of. Maybe, like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes, I’m a “high-functioning sociopath.” I doubt that as well. Although there’s a lot of overlap between narcissism and sociopathy, I don’t think I’m a sociopath. I can compartmentalize my feelings and emotions, but not to the degree of a sociopath.

Regardless of my mental functionality, I don’t believe I’m broken in anyway. I’m a conscientious and courteous person. I love my children and would do anything for them. That extends to people I consider my friends. Loyalty is important to me. Once you have my loyalty, I’m on your side no matter what. What side that actually is isn’t important to me. There’s probably not a small number of people that have it and don’t know it. It’s my own list that I don’t share as a general rule.

So, there you have it. A brief ride-along on my personal introspection. I’m not sure if it accomplished anything, or if I’m in a different spot than I was before. But that was really never the point.

-GK

Taking the “L”.

I recently had the pleasure of surpassing five decades of existence. An accomplishment? I suppose that remains to be seen. It wasn’t marked by much. Some birthday wishes, a pair of new socks. Birthdays aren’t what they used to be after the first couple of dozen.

Now at a half century, retirement is on the horizon. I’ve spent probably thirty plus years “living in the moment” only to realize I probably should have been planning for the future. I have a 401K that really isn’t that impressive unless I spend the next decade living a deliberately spartan life and saving every cent that doesn’t absolutely require spending.

The thought of that doesn’t really bother me all that much. My youngest child will be 18 in just over 3 years, and assuming he can keep his shit together long enough to get out of high school with a diploma, will join the military soon after.

Hopefully, that leaves me at roughly 53 years old with greatly reduced expenses and able to save a much larger portion of my income. Getting teenagers stood up and ready for life on their own is an expensive hobby and one I greatly look forward to.

On the positive side, I will start a new position in management in less than a month. The annual income will be a small reduction but the paychecks more consistent during the year I currently make a large portion of my money during the summer and fall months because of massive amounts of overtime. With the new position, my overtime goes away, but so do 60 hour work weeks. The other positive is that there is far more room for advancement, with both position and pay.

Currently, the rules, requirements, and the way forward in general are a vague, mostly undefined cloud that comes down to when the manager feels like handing out raises. And even then, there’s a cap. The new position as a more clearly defined (and encouraged) career path. Plus, in the short term, the ability to gain up to 30% more in salary.

Overall, I guess I’m cautiously optimistic about my future. Retirement scares the shit out of me more than turning 50 ever did. But, I’m feeling better about my investments and where they’re going. The important thing is to keep saving and getting rid of debt (and not acquiring more). Baring an unseen emergency, I think I’ll be fine.

The New Barbarians

I read a book a while back that claimed tribalism was the new way to go. Collecting people that were like you and sticking together. Not necessarily targeting others, just minding your own business and doing your own thing, as a group. I don’t really have an issue with the idea. I believe it has merit. The downside is that it can go in either direction. It can be a healthy outlet allowing people to do their thing among those that accept and enjoy similar things.

The other side of that coin is the very thing that makes it good can also make it bad. Being among a group of like-minded people can cause one to alienate those outside your group. An echo chamber forms and the separation becomes even more pronounced. Individuals become polarized as they adopt the group identity and the divide between “us” and “them” increases. Even to the point of supporting ideas that they themselves don’t agree with. Their reasoning is that while they, personally, don’t agree it’s not their place to make a decision on behalf of others.

While a noble thought, the eventual end is an “anything goes” system of moral decay. A society needs standards of behavior and a shared moral compass to help the individual weather the constant storm of needs, wants, and wishes we all have as human beings. In order to survive, a society needs to agree on what is encouraged, what is tolerated, and what is not allowed.

Much of Western society’s social mores and standards of behavior are based on Judao-Christian morality. If you’ve ever traveled outside of the West you’ll quickly notice significant societal differences. It’s not just in behavior, it’s in nearly everything they do and how they do it. Sometimes it’s cultural hand-me-downs, sometimes it’s religious based. Either way, things that are accepted and not even noticed in the U.S. can be interpreted entirely different elsewhere.

The United States is hopefully coming to the end of a culture war. In the last decade, self-declared agents of change have decided it’s time to dismantle our country’s social standards. The end goal isn’t really clear, but I can’t think of a positive outcome from the direction things are headed.

Relationships

Relationships are a strange thing. I see relationships as something beyond a friendship. It’s hard to describe it, but a friendship is lower on the ladder. You’ll help a friend out of a sticky situation. Help them move in a hurry, lend them money, etc. But a person you have a relationship with has greater value. The sacrifices you’re willing to make for them can be nearly without limit. They are, or should be, very important to you.

Like everyone, I’ve had a few in my lifetime. Both good ones and bad ones. Some have lasted years, decades even. Some have been much shorter. Sometimes the bad ones last too long and the good ones don’t last long enough. You never really know which ones will turn out good and which will end in a train wreck . Once in a while, you have one that surprises you. One of mine surprised me in the good way. Or at least in the positive way.

I got divorced a few years ago for… reasons. Some of which still escape me. I’d been married for somewhere around 15 years. We’d bought our second house and things were tight, but not impossible. Anyway, it blindsided me.

Being single again after 15 years was difficult. So rather than becoming a man-whore, I worked and took care of my boys. I changed positions in my job to make more money and things got better. Since then I’ve gotten pay increases and I’m making more money than I ever have in my life. My job isn’t too bad. I’ve done way more for way less. Generally, I’m pretty happy with that part of my life right now.

So, after the separation, the divorce, and all the rest of it, I was lonely. I threw myself into work and tried to keep busy. Avoidance becomes a way of life. There’s really no way to be a single parent and not have at least half of your life on the verge of a full-blown dumpster fire at any given moment. But as I said, I was lonely.

Because of the kids, cutting things off with my ex wasn’t an option and the more we talked, the more I missed her. I found myself focusing on the good times with her more and more and forgetting the less good stuff. As I said before, I was blindsided by the divorce and was still not 100% positive of the cause even 5 years later. Long story short(er), The ex moved back in after making a go of it on her own. I didn’t have a lot of positive feedback from those I told about the situation. Opinions ranged from “You’re crazy.” to “You’re stupid.” Even the positive opinions felt only “politely” positive. As in, they didn’t feel comfortable telling me I was crazy or stupid.

So, right after I made the decision to make another go of things with the ex, something unexpected happened. Almost like magic, women I knew became available or finally expressed interested in yours truly. Maybe they were there all along and I wasn’t paying attention (a distinct possibility). There were four, to be exact. All from different parts of my life, and all pretty unexpected.

One I had went to school with. I would have likely gotten into a lot of very enjoyable trouble with her, but distance was a big factor. The next was a long time acquaintance and would have definitely been awkward due to previous family interactions. Also, some distance issues there as well. After that was a lady from work. Someone I wasn’t even really friends with at the time.

All through this, there was the fourth. Or a first, depending on how you’re counting. She was someone who had become a very dear friend by necessity. And by necessity, I mean it was a situation that Karma didn’t want to let happen. As it turned out, our individual relationship statuses changed within about six months of each other. So there’s that, and a bit of an age difference. Well, not significant now, but early on it would have been problematic.

Anyway, she’s the relationship I was referring to at the beginning. The surprise. Although I thought she was attractive mentally and physically, I never seriously pursued her. I’d flirt, but in what I hoped was a silly and self-deprecating way. What started off as a casual “Hey, how ya doing?” friendship became an important and close relationship. One that is based on trust and respect.

In my life, I’ve had very few relationships with women like this one. Thinking about it, this is the only one, to include my marriage. So to say it was unexpected is an understatement. As I said, I was married so that’s a relationship. I’ve had girlfriends, so again, relationships. But this one was different and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly how.

She had a job where I saw her on a pretty regular basis and when that ended, so did the friendship for a while. We would IM on occasion, but nothing more than seeing what the other was up to. She briefly moved away and I had an opportunity to visit once, but other than the messaging back and forth, nothing really changed.

When I deployed to Iraq, I was pointed to social media and again was able to chat with her and keep in touch that way. After catching up with each other, our friendship grew beyond what it was originally. We became sounding boards for each other. Giving each other advice and opinions on current situations we found ourselves in. Having someone I am able to truly open up with is something I’ve come to treasure. I can count on her to give an honest opinion on whatever we’re discussing. She’s also very good at letting her silence be an answer as well.

I’m not sure when my feelings toward her shifted, or if they ever really did. It was more of an epiphany of sorts. It took years to recognize it. I don’t know if it developed or just was. It almost felt like it had been there the whole time and I finally found a name for it. It took years more to ever verbalize those feelings out of fear of damaging the amazing friendship we have.

I truly found myself in new territory. I’d never had a relationship with a woman that I didn’t want to be sexual. And then this. Let me clarify… It’s not that I don’t want it to be sexual, it’s that I cherish the relationship to a degree that I would not want to sacrifice what we have for a possibly short-lived physical relationship.

So, maturity rears it’s ugly head. Wanting what you can’t have and moving on with life. Or, being happy with the current situation even though it’s not what you believe you really want. There are lots of reasons to leave things as they are, and I’d say they’re all mature, valid reasons. Conversely, the reasons for pursuing things are mostly selfish. I suppose that’s how you know when you’re making the right decision.

If things ever change, I will celebrate it. But if they stay the same, it’s definitely not a loss. It’s the relationship I need. Even if it’s not the one I necessarily want.

What’s it all mean?

I follow quite a few military pages on Facebook. Being a veteran, I feel a great deal of kinship with those that have served. They’re my tribe. Lately, however, it seems like there’s a drift. There’s a new tribe forming, new lines being drawn.

The destroyers are making their way in to the military. When did it become chic to attack someone’s religion? I understand that people’s beliefs differ, even within the same denomination. Belief and faith are very personal things. As an atheist myself, I may not understand or agree with a person’s faith, but I respect their right to have it. They can’t change my mind (although many have tried) and I don’t try to change theirs.

Someone’s religion, belief, faith, what ever you want to call it, has little or no bearing on my dealing with them. If it does, then it’s possible a problem can arise, but normally nothing comes of it. I have yet to meet someone that won’t work with me because of my beliefs, and I have yet to meet someone I can’t work with because of theirs.

The thought of attacking someone due to their religion is personally offensive to me. (The notable exception to this is if they’re weaponizing their belief to hurt others.) Attacking someone due to their beliefs opens your own beliefs to attack. I have no problem discussing or even debating religion, but I won’t attack or belittle someone for having a differing belief system. I guess it’s the idea of treating others as you want to be treated. Have we lost that?

Being a godless heathen myself, I’m grateful to live in a society that is mainly a Christian culture. The current trend of tearing down our culture will end badly. I’m certain of that. We have created a society that is accepting of most everything. There are limits, but to have a functioning society, you need limits. There must be lines that can’t be crossed. Erasing those lines eventually destroys the foundations of the culture. Once that happens, it will collapse.

The point being missed by many of those trying to destroy or disrupt our society is that they will be the first victims of the collapse. They will bear the brunt of the violence that will follow. And believe me, there will be violence. I would even go so far as to call it righteous.

What I find strange is that the destroyers don’t seem to have a coherent goal in mind. And if they do, it’s not a single goal. It seems as though the only common goal they have is to watch the world burn. Each small group seems to have their own plan and their own goal. Occasionally, you can witness them clashing with each other because the only thing that seems coordinated is the destruction. Not the who or what or why. Some are calling for anarchy, some for a near police state. They want rights abolished, or meaningless new rights granted. Or unlimited acceptance while not tolerating differing views.

I suppose we shall eventually see the endgame and how it pans out for the destroyers. I doubt it’ll be what they want, because as I said, I don’t believe they know what they want themselves. In the meantime, I would like to see military members, current, prior, and retired, to respect each other. There may again come a time when you’re relying on that person again.

An introduction. Of sorts.

I’m The Goblin King. Or The Dirtgoblin. The name Dirtgoblin was given to me a long time ago in a country far, far away. I spent much of my time covered in diesel, which collects dirt like you wouldn’t believe. A black guy in my unit, whose name was White, thought it was funny that I could never get all the dirt off of myself. The diesel fumes had soaked into my clothes and skin and just collected dirt constantly. We didn’t have facilities to wash clothes very well and any showers we got were few, far between, and usually cold. So, about 27 years ago, I was dubbed “The Dirt Goblin.” Since I own my URL, I’m the king. So The Goblin King was a natural moniker.

Anyway. I was inspired to start a blog by a close friend who recently started her own. I find that I have a lot of things to say and have grown tired of not having a forum in which to speak them. Text message ranting is slow and often tedious for the receiver. Other social media forums are busy trying to out “Big Brother” each other and the SJWs still don’t have jobs that actually keep them busy and out of the adult’s hair.

I’m a dad to two teenaged boys. They are my finest accomplishment and my greatest source of pride. Children are a situation where they can be greater than the sum of their parts. Watching them grow and learn is endlessly fascinating to me. Seeing them take pride in their accomplishments is satisfying on a level I didn’t know existed. They are the absolutely most valuable things in my life.

I’m a Republican but reach into the Libertarian party for a lot of my thinking. Fiscally, I’m more conservative. If you can pay for it, then do it. If you can’t, then don’t. On social issues, I’m more of a “stay off my lawn” sort of person. If you’re not bothering me or destroying things I love, I give a shit less what you want to do. Once you start bothering me with your shenanigans, then we have a problem. I don’t want to pay for it, Utopia is a pipe-dream, and don’t come at me with hypocritical or fallacious arguments. If executing murderers is morally wrong, so is aborting babies. You can’t make a legitimate argument any other way.

As I said, keep your shit off my lawn and we’ll get along fine. Don’t ask me to play your silly reindeer games, then call me names when I refuse. Likewise, don’t ask my opinion and then try to bully me to change it. It’s my opinion. Change my mind with facts and proof. I take very little on faith alone. I have no problem being wrong, but I won’t take your word for it. Science isn’t infallible and anyone has power and/or is making money will tell you anything under the sun to increase either.

I am a fan of our Founding Fathers and the documents they’ve left for us. I believe in the rights described in the Constitution and agree that they need little interpretation. The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers give ample background on original intent. What Europe is doing or not doing is of little concern to me. Historically, they’ve created more problems than they’ve solved. I don’t see them as a useful guide on how to run a successful country. I’m a nationalist first, jingoist when necessary. We have what we have in this country because of us. Not because some asshat elsewhere in the world let us do it. Soverenty is something commonly taken for granted these days. Do not trust anyone who seeks to lessen it on any level. No good will ever come of it. There is no “right” or “better” way to subjugate people.

I served in the US military for 23 years and change. I enlisted under President Reagan and retired under President Obama. I am a supporter of all branches, but do have my favorites. I was deployed during the First Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and again in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I retired before I could deploy to Afghanistan. I can honestly contribute my sense of humor and my sense of loyalty to my time in the military. Both have served me well.

That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll add more later.

-GK