Lydia hid her thoughts like a cat
Behind her small eyes sunk deep in her fat

— “Donald and Lydia,” which was released by John Prine on his 1971 debut album

I first met her on Christmas day. The woman across the hall invited me to dinner and said she had some friends coming as well.

I had just recently moved in, it was my first living independently experience since having a stroke, 4 years previous. I had moved out of the hospital after 6 months on a recovery neuro ward learning to walk, talk, swallow, living with one non-dominate arm, progressing from wheelchair to walker to cane as my brain healed from its injury.

I had moved into a nice place with a former co-worker who gradually became more and more undervaluing and manipulative. So it was typical narcissist personality disorder or NPD.

I learned about this disorder during the lockdown. I was writing personal history books and as part of research exploring my childhood trauma I came across Dr. Tara who got me up to speed. I started applying for independent housing after describing my living situation to my doctor who sent it on to social services who called my situation, abuse of the disabled. Abuse wears you down over time. It erodes your confidence, independence, sense of worth and any good judgment you may or may not have had.

Most narcissists, borderlines and other characterologically disturbed people are chaotic, immature and psychologically stunted. — Dr. Tara Palmatier

Social services got me out of my lease immediately and my new place is subsidized as I am now a senior and my income is small but guaranteed and unconditional. My main social concerns were communication, companionship and sex, especially after 2 years in Covid lock down with a mentally ill person. So I agreed to Christmas dinner even though I’m non-religious and don’t tolerate their festivals. The lady across the hall and I share a political party, interest in art making, and as a former sales woman she had charm all figured out, so I was looking forward to dinner.

The other guests were Lydia, a sufferer of NPD as it turned out and her flying monkey, Doug. Flying monkeys are the supporters of abusers. Agents essentially carrying out the narcissists instructions and giving them narcissist feed, which is filling their over-need for attention.

Doug codependantly started out explaining to me that I could get more information on whatever we were discussing on YouTube and then spelled Y-o-u-T-u-b-e asking if I had been on the internet. So, undervaluing me right out of the gate, equating me, I suppose, my speech impairment with other forms of cognitive brain damage. I replied yes, and that I had my own YouTube channel promoting my art practice. He abruptly said he had to leave as he was expecting a call from family in Ontario. I was thinking, I haven’t heard that excuse since the days of landlines.

As the dinner progressed with Lydia drinking all the wine, her demands for attention increased by monopolizing the conversation with outrageous commentary, such as, “my interest in psychotherapy was bullshit and all I had to do was go into the bushes,” and then this short, fat, loud, and abrasive woman began making gestures simulating male masturbation.

I laughed and said, “That’s funny, equating a century’s worth of study and research with jacking off in the woods, I really like you.” I thought she would have made a great comedian as according to Mark Twain, inappropriateness is the basis of all comedy.

As the dinner wound to a close, she continued to monopolize it with more outrageous attention grabbing so I saw that my chances for intellectual stimulation and conversation were slim. I begged off to my hostess apologizing for an early night and went home to quiet and the companionship of a good book.

I put the pair of them, Doug and Lydia, on ignore and disassociated from them concentrating on my usuals, the coffee shop and the gym, to meet new and interesting people.

My professional art community is all on the internet since I had made my art practice digital after my stroke. Most of my former Profs and art school colleagues use the net only for email, porn and Facebook. They see my migration to the digital art world as disloyalty to their bricks and mortar lifestyle and devalue me and my art for it. Jealousy came into it as well as they get, if they have a rich family, a gallery show every 2 years on average with 20 viewers a week. I am getting a million views a week on the net, from home, with half my body paralyzed.

So, since Doug and Lydia monopolize the community gatherings of seniors in my building, I avoid the gatherings, preferring one on one conversation anyway. There are mostly women living here having lost their husbands to various disease and divorce and the stories of past abuse would break your heart.

Doug and Lydia’s attempt to discredit me and isolate within the building community include recently tearing down my art donated to the building and even yelling at me in public about various concerns such as how I place my assistive devices and claiming nobody likes me.

I respond with rational responses such as, it depends on who you talk to, and questioning their authority to tell me where to put my walking stick. I posted the assertive bill of rights and etiquette for dealing with the disabled on the community board. Why? Because 2 residents who were present at Doug’s latest abusive attack rant said they felt like prisoners afraid to leave their apartments as they didn’t wish to be abused emotionally.

The non-profit who manages this and 18 or so other buildings have a policy of non-interference, saying adults solve their own problems. I fully support this policy as contacting proper support agencies is what adults do if they need help physically, mentally or emotionally. I mean you don’t call the landlord if you need to change the oil in your car. I have kept the manager apprised because I like her, she listens and is supportive, and it turns out that after 20 years managing the building she is fully tuned into the granny-grapevine and gets my disassociating strategy as advised by professionals.