Open Letter to

The following is a letter I sent to customer service this evening…

Hello fun people at Zappos,

I wanted to let you know that for the first time in all the many years I’ve been a customer, I truly felt your company has let me down.

Today I intended to shop for women’s swim separates on your site because I knew you’d have a large selection to choose from. Lo and behold, I was correct. When I hit the button to browse through women’s swim bottoms up popped 1,091 items. Hooray! But my excitement was short-lived, because when I applied the ‘Plus Size’ filter to my search, all of a sudden those 1,091 items dwindled down to 10. That’s correct. You have exactly TEN items I can choose from for my size 18 derrière.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself, my Zappos friends… I am a beautifully well-proportioned woman. Although, technically, my BMI would land me somewhere in the ridiculously exaggerated catagory of ‘obese’, my size does not define my attractiveness. At age 43, I am extremely comfortable and confident with my body just the way it is and I enjoy prancing around in my bathing suit far more nowadays than I ever did nearly 30 years ago when I was a size 10 and had a socially-induced negative self image. Sadly, the powers that be at don’t think my shapely size-18 body deserves to be clothed as nicely as someone who wears a size 0-12.

Whether the above statement is representative of your company values or not, the proof is in the product selection. Don’t get me wrong, Zappos, I wasn’t expecting you to grant me an equal 1,091 plus-size options, this isn’t Bernie Sander’s America. But I did presume that at least 10% of your merchandise might be suitable for the nearly 40% of American women who are currently labeled as obese (according to …not less than 1% of your total products.  Any savvy businessman could see that you are severely limiting your sales by not providing for a larger segment of the population (pun very much intended).

This incident makes me sad. Sad that I’ll have to take my business elsewhere – for lack of options, not for lack of interest. And sad that a company that I had grown to trust, whose praises I had sung to others, has shown me that they don’t care much for me…or for anyone who isn’t what the media deems to be the ideal size.

With sincere disappointment,

Kristin Williams (AKA 204lbs of Loveliness)

The Subtle Slave: Life with a Spouse with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

For the past year I have had this grand idea that I would blog about my experience being married to a person with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).  The problem is that every time I sit down to write about the topic I hit a wall.  It’s not writer’s block, per se, as I have a truckload of information and episodes just waiting to make their way to the page.  If anything, my problem is the opposite.  I want the blog series to be thorough, covering all of the bases of what it’s like to feel trapped in this kind of relationship.  I want to be a light in the fog to those who aren’t familiar with the disorder and a beacon of hope to the men and women who have or are currently being abused by someone with NPD. But with so much important material to cover, I am at a loss where to begin. The task seems both monumental and without end.

Worse yet, even if I were to find an organized way to relay all of the material to you, I don’t know that you’d believe me.  Not because you think me a liar, but because the kind of inhumane behavior I would be exposing does not compute within the context of the average human experience.  It would be like trying to describe an alien abduction to someone who doesn’t believe aliens exist. You will find it extremely difficult to accept that a seemingly innocuous human being could be so disturbingly duplicitous and still function successfully within society.  And I wouldn’t blame you. Your doubt would be rational.  But NPD is anything but rational.  And that is why I couldn’t wrap my brain around it either…until I experienced it firsthand.

Part of the baffling conundrum is that persons with NPD are chameleon-like in nature. They have an uncanny ability to adapt to their surroundings, putting on whatever persona will best win the favor of their current audience.  Not unlike sociopaths, persons with NPD are typically highly intelligent individuals.  Although they lack the ability to empathize or identify with other persons, they are gifted in their ability to fit in with the crowd and mimic appropriate actions and responses.  They can give academy award winning performances for “normal” and “decent” behavior that could fool even the toughest critic.  But it is all an act.  A ruse.  A long-con.

That’s why I fell for it.  That’s how he was able to manipulate me into dating then marrying him. He targeted me because I exhibited the characteristics that persons with NPD look for: I was popular and well-liked (ie: I was an excellent showpiece for his collection), I was bright and had connections (ie: I was an important tool for his personal advancement), I was easy-going (ie: I would bend to his will and be excessively tolerant of his bullsh*t), I was selfless (ie: I would give and give and give of myself long after he sucked me dry), and I had high moral integrity (ie: I would choose to honor my commitment to him even to my own detriment.)

He put on quite a show of courting me.  He said all the things he knew would win my heart, though they were just lies on top of lies on top of more lies. In hindsight, there were certain things about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time, things that seemed “off”.  But, because my brain wasn’t able to reconcile the delicately complex contradictory behaviors I was witnessing (and because outwardly he appeared to have all of the qualities I wanted in a husband) I foolishly elected to assume I was misreading the red flags.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  I chose to believe that he was everything he claimed to be.

Thus began my life as the subtle slave.

In the coming months, I will try my best to present my story with the least amount of bias I can muster (although, c’mon, how exactly does one remain perfectly neutral in their own story?)  I will share with you what I discovered from my personal research, what I  experienced firsthand, and what lessons I learned the hard way. I will list resources and I will try to answer any questions you pose.  And I promise that I’ll do my best to help expose this subtle yet soul-crushing form of abuse without playing the victim.  Because, honestly, the last thing I want is to be pitied.  What I truly want is to educate and empower others.

Here’s to the painful process of enlightenment!  – Kristin


P.S.  If you are the victim of an NPD abuser, know this: though you may be kept in isolation, you are not alone.  Though you may lose every battle, you can survive the war.  You have the strength to escape their snare and the power to rebuild your life.  God and I have faith in you!

For more information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, see the following resources:

Mayo Clinic: Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder

PBD Central – The Hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder