Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Defense of Tiffany Sedaris: David Sedaris's sister

                                          [picture link]


Sister of famous writer David Sedaris commits suicide.

David Sedaris in response writes an essay about of how awful she is.

Is my theory that Tiffany had been the family scapegoat too far out?

I don't think so.

Read the essay here:


Now We Are Five

This is one of the meanest articles about anyone deceased I have seen.

So this wealthy academic writer whose relatives have money to spare and then some writes about a sister's suicide where they don't help her or provide any other support system, and leave her to die in poverty and squalor in a rented room "on the hard side of Somerville Massachusetts" , while he blathers on about the purchase of a family vacation homes and rentals and decides to put her down even in her death? Where was sister Amy Sedaris [of Strangers with Candy fame?]

One commenter here, brings up an interesting point:

"but I found her penniless death juxtaposed with him buying a beach house on a whim just heartbreaking."
After deciding Sedaris is a full blown narcissist--and yes I know I am not a psychologist,  I google "Sedaris and narcissist" and notice others have come to that conclusion as well:
"His reaction is revealingly narcissistic. Instead of wondering why she killed herself, he dotes on the fact that she 'ripped up the family pictures' and that this was 'melodramatic' (pot meet kettle!). Then he wonders how she could have 'left' such wonderful people (including himself!). No wonder she killed herself...it sounds like a family of people with narcissistic personality disorder." 
Going back to his article that basically trashes his sister: His comparisons to his sister dying with nothing comparing her to a toddler are disgusting.
"Compared with most forty-nine-year-olds, or even most forty-nine-month-olds, Tiffany didn’t have much. She did leave a will, though. In it, she decreed that we, her family, could not have her body or attend her memorial service."
Sadly her final wishes weren't respected either. This is an interesting admission:
"Lisa, Gretchen, and I treated the others like servants and did very well for ourselves."
Of course the obituary was written in a way so the family would not be questioned about the conditions they allowed their sister to die in. That stood out to be too. There is no empathy for her being shunted away for YEARS to a reform school [Elan] which was notorious for abuse. What kind of family sends off a daughter for two years? Maybe she talked "at" them because no one ever was interested in actually listening. Where was the kindness and compassion for her?  He admits he really didn't know her well. Well did he try to get to know her? It's as if she got thrown out of her own family, of course they will say she was the one that left, but then how and why did she leave? He makes her out to be a druggie, but a pot leaf drawn on a school folder in the 1970s means very little. He couldn't come up with more then that? He has an argument with her and doesn't talk to her for eight years?

In narcissistic families, material possessions are the measure of all things.
 “Just awful,” my father whispered. “A person’s life reduced to one lousy box.” I put my hand on his shoulder. “Actually, there are two of them.” He corrected himself. “Two lousy boxes.”
The "We are so wonderful" message here is sickening:
"How could anyone purposefully leave us, us, of all people? This is how I thought of it, for though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost it in my family, in my certainty that we are fundamentally better than everyone else."

This statement from the parents also is telling:

"We had other kids . . . You think we could let the world stop on account of any one of you?" 

I went and googled about Tiffany, from what I can tell while she had mental health and other struggles, she seemed like a nice person, she was an artist in the community and had friends.

Her art was beautiful. 

Others remember her.

I don't think so much of David Sedaris. Some may find his hipster-esque narcissism charming. I checked out a few books of his from the library and tried to read them. Something bothered me. The smug attitude? The humor at the expense of others?  But now I know why, I did not continue.

"Funny" and even "charming" people with "no heart" don't appeal to me. His sister deserved a lot more then that. 

Perhaps she summed things up regarding her family in this comment from years ago.

"Tiffany is the family black sheep, the one who was sent to reform school, the one who tells the family, early in the story: "Don't you get it? I don't like you people."

Looks like to me, she had reason NOT to like them.

108 comments:

  1. A cringeworthy myopic response from someone so ignorant and misinformed it would be laughable. Thanks Internet for the garbage.

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    1. Agreed. Did FiveHundredPoundPeep know Tiffany or is he just bashing on a famous person dealing with an immensely painful event for kicks? It appears that he didn't read or perhaps didn't understand David Sedaris' poignant essay in the New Yorker. Maybe without the benefit of reading David's other works, it is more difficult to understand the subtext. For example, anyone who has read or heard "The Ship Shape" would know how much owning a beach house had meant to David's mom and siblings - including Tiffany - and knows why he bought it when he did. No one reading "Put a Lid On It" could doubt his love and concern for Tiffany. And no one reading it could doubt that Tiffany struggled with major demons. Her death is tragic. Lashing out at her grieving brother because he is rich and famous is Schadenfreude.

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    2. Yes I read the essay, I quote it above. So a beach house for vacations means more then someone having a place to live full time and have to live the rented room life style? I don't go with the school of logic, that just because someone is famous and rich they are beyond criticism.

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    3. I didn't write this for kicks either, I wrote it, because I read that original essay, "Now We Are Five" and it disturbed the hell out of me. You don't have to agree with my theory that narcissism reigned in the family but something was very wrong.

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    4. man you really like projecting

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    5. the author of this article is pathetically projecting their own life experiences to the sedaris' family situation regarding tiffany's death. it is not only misinformed and shallow, but simplistic. most of their statements are based on utterly baseless assumptions. this was about as cheap and unintelligent as any tabloid.

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    6. i read this pretty late i know. pretty uncool to leave a comment now, but... i agree that this piece is quite "myopic."

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    7. Do you realize that she didn't WANT or ACCEPT help? Seriously...Miopic and ignorant is right.

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    8. Usually help from narcissists comes with a pound of flesh extracted. She probably didn't want to crawl on the floor and bow before them anymore. I've seen that one lobbed at the poor and other down and outers, but being poor myself and down and out, what it comes down to is people want to have some dignity and not be trashed or treated like a worm to get crumbs of help even if it means living in the streets or a flophouse. I lived in the ghetto streets in a mouse-filled 2 room apartment instead of going to bow down before my narc parents. Pretty sure they would have just slammed the door in my face. One thing about the narcs I notice they will throw a few crumbs but never anything life-changing [give someone a fishing rod instead of fish to eat] You telling me none of the entertainment bigwhigs couldn't even help her get an opportunity or a job or REAL step up?

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    9. Newsflash: it is not your family of origin's responsibility to take care of you and support you. Your parents did the best they could; your siblings are all trying to make their own way in the world as best they can and they are not your parents or your caretaker or responsible for you in any way. Grow up and stop playing the victim. We are talking about you here after all, and not this Tiffany, right? You have no idea from his article what took place over the years; the offers and refusals of help, the words passed between siblings, the deeds done, the misplaced anger, the wearing down. Sounds like perhaps this woman was troubled from early on. These kinds of people have a way of wearing a family out. And no amount of money or material "help" seems to really make any difference because 1) they either suck you dry and it's never enough, and 2) that's not even the real problem, is it? Sounds like you are missing so much of what is portrayed in his piece in the New Yorker. I could physically feel his pain through his words. Heck, he even comes right out and says something like: the blood of suicides splashes back on all of us. What do you think he means by that??

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    10. And by the way, successful people have NOTHING to apologize for to their less "successful" siblings. Nothing. And they don't owe them anything either. Ever see the movie 'Ordinary People'? I save you, we both drown. Sometimes you just gotta hang on and survive. Or read the poem 'The Journey' by Mary Oliver?

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    11. Where did I say he had to apologize for being successful? This is about how he spoke about her. I have seen the movie Ordinary People, funny you bring that movie up since the character of the mother was a narcissist [Beth] What you are writing here reminds me of this Bible verse:

      Genesis 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

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    12. Some parents did not do the best they could. Abuse always puts someone having to start from a lower point. On that point alone we disagree. I believe people should try and make their own way as much as possible, remember I'm the one who lived in the ghetto instead of crawling home or begging any relative to take me in. I believe the ideal for families is that they help each other but I know many do not believe that in our culture. American culture it is now the norm for family members to compete with each other rather then to share resources like other cultures. Sadly I think that is one reason for the growing disconnection in families.

      I can tell you are the voice of someone who has never faced financial troubles or the shame they can bring. You make assumptions too about Tiffany, and or anyone who may be in that place of needing help from a family as if every person without money, is in that position for being a "bad person". You write of them "wearing" them down.

      One thing I have noticed among the scapegoats who get a few crumbs of help. They are always throw fish but never a fishing pole. Of course the upbringing they were given, meant often a lot of fishing poles cracked over narcissistic parent knees.

      Anyhow a lot of the rich narcissists got rich because of the "hustle" not because they were "better" people. Sure some worked hard and had some talent like David S too and were able to break in some way along the way, but this idea in our society that those who don't have money are lesser beings is rather disgusting. It does cause family division. How he looked DOWN on her, is more than apparent. The blood of suicides comment, actually to me read as some "survivor's guilt" but it didn't make up for the guile in the rest of the article.

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    13. Nope, we're in agreement. I never said that "their best" was any good. Sometimes "the best they could" is just that... the best they could with what they had and what they knew and what the culture and society we're informing and urging them to do. I'm not making excuses for abusive parents or blaming the victim, but it is what it is. And spending your life blaming and being angry and expecting and waiting for them to make it right is a wasted life. It ain't gonna happen. Usually abusive parents came from a childhood of abuse and neglect. Or they are mentally ill. Or they sincerely believe what they are doing is what is best for their children and will benefit them in the long run, no matter how screwy it is. They could be stupid. They might be drunk or on drugs. They might just be really f'd up people. But accept it and move on. So your childhood sucked and you had shitty parents... welcome to the club! Some kids "survive" and do okay later in life and some don't. But it isn't the survivor's fault and they have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. I can't make you do one iota better by doing worse myself. Not a one.

      If a child does not receive love or feel loved and valued, there's a pretty good chance that child will grow up to be f'd up in some way. Angry, mentally ill, addicted, and on and on. At some point you have to stop blaming your family of origin for your predicament. Unless they are professionals trained in mental health or social services, they can't and shouldn't be expected to make you're life work. (I'm talking cases like Tiffany, who seemed like she suffered from mental illness. Every family's got 'em.) Go find your own fishing pole and stop waiting for your family to hand you one. There are plenty of resources in society to help you figure out how to get your own fishing pole. It's not your family's responsibility. If they do, great, but you are not their responsibility. And let's face it...if they did, you'd only complain that it's not the "right" fishing pole and it's not fair, they have a better fishing pole with more gadgets and prettier colors. How are you expected to catch as many fish as them. Selfish bastards!

      Is our society too materialistic and judgmental? Yep. Agree with you there too. But I don't get that AT ALL from David Sedaris' writing, that he is "looking down" on his sister. If anything, he repeatedly says she's funny and beautiful, etc. Most people just want their siblings to be happy. Or at least not to be miserable. And you sure make a lot of assumptions. You're totally wrong on the 'I never struggled' thing. But I would scrape gum off sidewalks for a buck fifty an hour before I would expect my family to give me their hard earned money. And NO, I am NOT my brother's keeper, not in the way your are implying. But then you clearly don't understand the meaning of that particular Bible passage, just as you don't understand David Sedaris' writing.

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    14. http://www.vice.com/read/remarkable-messes-0000671-v22n6

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    15. The best is associated with "good", don't try and reword that one. I don't make excuses for narcissists. I think that "but they tried their best" is a cop-out of the biggest measure. Mr. Sociopath "tried his best". [Barf!]

      I don't expect them to "make it right". You don't understand no contact do you? It means you know they will never make it right and walk away.

      It seems you want to make a lot of excuses for people who are abusive to their children and to others.. I'm not sure why. I do think people make the decision for evil or good. Someone who is willful in their abuse of their children has made a decision for evil.

      No, I'm not going to accept it.

      There is nothing I can do about it, but accepting this evil of abuse as business as usual. Forget that crap That's the problem right there all the drones, saying "accept it", that's why evil goes uncalled out, that is why abuse is skyrocketing. It has become more and more "acceptable".

      Can the Tea Party economics too. Who said for someone else to do WORSE? Who said not to go look for your own fishing pole?

      So you are telling me abuse creates pernament after shocks and effects, but that the abusers are not to blame?

      Can you explain that one?

      It's funny how so many in so many different ways rally around the abusers even 25 years after the fact!

      Anyhow Tiffany's best bet was to get the hell away which is sounds like she did, too bad she didn't have a loving family who didn't treat her with disdain. You can repeat over and over I didnt get his writing but a guy blathering on about his vacation home while his sister dies alone, isn't high up on my list of "nice guys". You can spin doctor that one til the cows come home.

      I don't share your opinions, sure don't look out for your brother but don't expect me to share your hard-assed sentiments. The whole "Screw you, I got mine, jack!" I also don't appreciate being talked to like I have lived in a relative's basement for most of my life. I left, remember?

      Hard earned money? WIth narcissists??? I'll give David S, this he earned his but a lot of the narcissists just ripped off the system. I know how this world works. But continue with your delusions....

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    16. The article actually backs up my outlooks.

      "Perhaps because of this, our mom never really liked Tiffany. Even as a child I looked at my sister and wondered what that would be like, not to feel the warmth of my mother's love. Tiffany didn't. There was always a nervous quality about her, a tentativeness, a desperate urge to be in your good graces. While the rest of us had eyes in the front of our heads, she had eyes on the sides, like a rabbit or a deer, like prey, always on the lookout for danger. Even when there wasn't any danger. You'd see her trembling and think, You want danger? I'll give you some danger..."

      So Tiffany wasn't liked by their mother.

      Tiffany wanted to be in people's good graces.

      It sounds like she was looking for love.

      It sounds like the classic scapegoat.

      ****************************************

      " I think of my older sister, Lisa, and how she used to pin me to the ground and spit into my mouth. At the time it wasn't a whole lot of fun, but I certainly don't hold it against her. Tiffany, on the other hand, retained it all. I think it felt like betrayal to her to recall a happy moment. The narrative was that we were horrible to her and nothing we said or did could change it."

      What kind of dynamics do these sound like? The hardened ones spit in each others mouths, [man that sounds extreme even for rough and tumble siblings] and wrestle and don't get too hurt, while the one who actually "feels" pays the price?

      **********************************************************

      When he talks about Lisa [his other sister being willing to laugh at herself] my thought is that is a way to say Tiffany was not.

      So he admits she has bi-polar. [Of course there could be other diagnoses as well]

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    17. Interesting comment from the vice article I agree with:

      "Bendi Bot
      For him to have helped Tiffany, he would have had to be a totally different person. One with enough empathy to realize that not being loved by your mother creates deficits in learning to communicate and feel that require extra love and patience from other family members to make up for that rather than the kind of person he was and apparently still is, a person who recognizes that wound and decides to take advantage of it. Using her as a servant when she was a kid, and ridiculing her, not protecting her? Your siblings are supposed to protect and love you, not side with an unloving mother against you for shits and giggles. The abuse she suffered at that "boarding school" is the kind of horror that people talk about every day. I sincerely wish David Sedaris gets to experience some during his lifetime - perhaps that would allow him to empathize. I doubt that he would be able to memoir-ize productively about it, though he might be Vichy French enough to make friends with the abusers."

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    18. It's so sad, even in her death they had to scapegoat her. It sounds like they threw her away when she was 14. He wasn't very kind or compassionate in his article about her. Families know who the scapegoat is and it makes the other siblings feel like shit, but they will join in. I really loved David Sedaris, but now I like Tiffany more for living in the life she wanted.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thought the exact same thing--it does sound like him!

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  3. It's pretty clear that you haven't read much (any?) of Sedaris' work. Either that, or you don't understand it. He is /poking fun/ at the idea that his family is so great that no one would ever want to leave it. He does that often: pokes fun at his own misconceptions, or weaknesses, or bad behavior. Contrary to your position that he is a narcissist, he seems to be hyper-aware of his own faults and shortcomings and writes about them honestly and often.

    You're identifying with Tiffany because you presume she would have preferred to be supported by her family. Tiffany was an adult. An adult who had difficulty holding a job, who /barely/ tolerated her family, and who may have been dealing with mental illness. What about the little we know of her life makes you think she would have accepted any sort of monetary help from her family? You assume she was a victim of her circumstances. Everything Sedaris has written about his sister suggests that she preferred living life on her own terms, no matter how desperate a situation those terms created. Some people want help, some don't. Tiffany seems to have been far too proud and headstrong to ever accept support from her family.

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    1. Perfectly stated. I was about to say the same thing. Thank you.

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    2. I've read his work before. Maybe I'll read more of it and post about. The word I think of when I have read his work is SMARMY. He may poke fun at his faults, but seems to have little room to accept the faults of others. Kind of like a class clown who would say, "Yeah I'm fat, let me sit on you!" to get his buddies to laugh but when a fat girl walked by would scream PIG! or Earthquake!

      So even if a narcissist points to a few faults it really doesn't impress me. Self-effacement can cover a LOT OF SINS!

      So what if she was an adult? Shouldn't an adult have a family that cares? That actually include them in her life? I know what it is to be the outcast, and her life had ALL THE MARKERS. Why didn't she barely tolerate her family? Think she may have had a reason? Like not wanting to be put down for the rest of her life? What does "living life on her own terms" mean? I think she would have rather had a loving family that accepted her rather then that threw her out like yesterday's trash, or treated her so abysmally she ran for the hills. One thing narcissists are so good at is making themselves look good, while telling the world the scapegoat got everything she "deserved" or supposedly "CHOSE" when in reality they just didn't want to be abused anymore.

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    3. exactly. Was this woman an adult or some helpless creature that was owed something? I would love to live my days following my creative impulses, but I chose a career with money and benefits and creative impulses when possible. That is not a choice for everyone. I do not judge her choice, but the reality of that choice is usually not financially rewarding. It is not her brothers responsibility to remedy her independent life choices. She can live her life as she wishes, but he is vilified for not sharing enough of his success? What juvenile thinking. Also, how are we so sure what he did and didn't offer? he is a humorist, by the way, his tone often involves sarcasm.......doesn't mean he didn't love her.

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    4. Spare us the tea-party brainwashing that tells America as jobs are sent overseas, that they only deserve the gutter under the "no one owes you nothing" crap as the wicked shovel their coffers full of money. She trained as a pastry chef and worked as one, she wasn't just an artist, but one reason our society is going to hell in handbasket is the utilitarian crowd that spit on anything that is idealistic or of higher culture. I'm not saying he had to buy his sister a mansion, but the lack of help stands out. At least he could have left her in peace instead of maligning her name in death. I don't see any love and considering the slam you made at me on another post, you don't have any either. I am glad your career had money come along with it. Sounds nice, as they have managed to destroy so many careers in America. What's left, I even found out the other day fast food workers are going to be made obsolete with order screens. Maybe if you lose a job or see your career go up in smoke, you'll develop something called empathy.

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  4. If the family was narcissistic enough, then I do not judge her for refusing their help. She probably was trying to protect herself from being put-down and further blows to her self-esteem. If you have read enough of my blog, you will know I just myself went "no-contact" from an abusive narcissistic family. I know the subtle signs and they are all there. Where you are treated as an outsider, where everything is your fault, where there is no mercy for your challenges and absolutely no empathy. She definitely was the scapegoat, in his writings his contempt for this sister shows forth, where she is considered an "outsider" from the start. He didn't even have the insight to understand why she may leave the family, and that insight is missing from mine. He may poke fun at his bad behavior but that doesn't change the fact it exists. Why claim Tiffany is the one at fault and the mentally ill one when the others obviously saw themselves as superior to her?

    Sure she may have refused help, but then one asks the questions WHY? Her family was no soft place to land, that offer acceptance and emotional support we can see that even in Sedaris writings. That is the crux of the matter. SHE DID NOT FEEL LOVED BY THEM. Look at the last line I posted that she said. "I don't like you people". It is one I relate to. Why wouldn't someone like their family? Is everything Tiffany's fault or is there something more going on.

    I'm glad she lived life on her own terms. Sounds like she had to be very strong for a long time. The lack of a family one were you are really included and loved, is a giant life long blow. At a self-help group I told them this was equal to having a family in a jet-liner crash and burn and no one being left. With narcissists you stay a stranger no matter the attempts you try. Tiffany obviously had friends so she was not some horrible person her brother made her out to be. I am so sorry her pain took her away from this world and I wish she had not given into the despair but I know these narcissist families take a toll on people, a massive one where your whole life you are told you are not good enough. Add in big time poverty and other struggles and one can end up in some very bad places emotionally.

    I've read some of Sedaris's writing, even the creepy animal story book which I didn't find funny but disturbing on a couple levels--that book was so bad, that only fame got it published. I even have read Amy Sedaris's books like Simple Crafts for Poor People. That book made me sick because it put down the poor, I love crafts but remember being angry, sure it was amusing at times, but I thought wow this is an elite type whose never gone to Michael's and gotten sticker shock. I love humor but this one had a very dark edge underneath it all.

    Tiffany was an adult, one who had no family she really was connected to or bonded too, and to be frank in his words, I could hear the subtle put-downs and rejection I became so familiar with in my family. I suppose while my sharks are connected to a point and have the 6 figure incomes, having famous sharks would probably be a far more of a challenge. Especially famous ones who put me down in their writings even upon death.

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    1. So you're identifying with Tiffany as the victim you yourself are?
      You don't know these people at all so your evaluations are useless.
      My advice to you is to stop telling yourself you're a victim & take charge of your own life

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    2. Do you know me? I have one blog, this guy has been out in the public eye writing about his family for years. Yes I know anyone who admits challenges is a "victim" to the "Think Positive and Be Rich and Healthy Patrol.". I know I'm breaking your rules. Victims are easily silenced, I'm not. Funny how they always take up for the famous no matter how rotten and let the underdog suffer. Yeah I said it!

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    3. So nice to have someone like you to explain a tragedy and the go on judge those involved, so thanks for that. But I suggest that in the future you work out your issues privately. You can access free or low cost mental health treatment in most major (blue state) cities.

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    4. So no one is to have a blog?

      None of us are to write about anything private or personal?

      Even in my case where no names including my own are attached?

      Didn't David write about his mentally ill sister?

      where everyone knew her real name and who was writing about her?

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    5. I'm reading your article and all of the responses late as I am researching narcissism. My mother is a narcissist and I recently went No Contact with her and my brother. I know they are on a smear campaign against me as we speak. Anyway, I have to whole heartedly agree with you about the article from David. I'm not quite seeing the point of his article other than to insinuate that his sister had "issues" that the family couldn't be bother with, and her fate was her own doing. This is exactly what narcissists do. They belittle and reduce your existence to nothing in an effort to make themselves look good. More than likely, Tiffany decided to go No Contact with a family who treated her like the scapegoat for years. Accepting help or gifts from a narcissist is the same as making yourself indepted to them in life. Perhaps she preferred to live her life on her terms instead of "oweing" them anything IF they'd even help her to begin with. In any case, David's article belittled his sister in death they way he probably did in life. What happened to the saying, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything." He could have done that instead of an article that reveals more about him and the family than he probably intended.

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    6. Thank you anon. I am glad you have learned about narcissism and are doing NC. yes the smear campaigns will continue. Thank you for agreeing with me, even the vice article someone linked to backed me up in that David himself wrote that Tiffany was not liked by their mother. I feel like they considered her "issues" a burden and her too. Yes they tell people that their fate is their own doing. I hear it often enough from detractors like the guy I posted to yesterday. They use scapegoats to make themselves look good and push them aside so when the scapegoat has problems it is all her fault. There is a pound of flesh for every gift given by a narc or help anyhow. I had my years of severe poverty in the ghetto but even when I got some help in my 30s, it wasn't worth it, it was just thrown back in my face, so yes I unerstand Tiffany being poor, maybe she refused their help if any was ever offered but there too they will blame her and say she is poor because she is "bad", the same that happened to me--Aspergers and severe physical disabilities notwithstanding in my case. Yes David definitely belittled his sister, even the Vice article interview showed his disdain for her. Narcissists belittle and reduce people to nothing. Even the comment about her having two boxes left in his essay made me want to vomit. Yes he revealed a lot there.

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  5. The denial in this "anonymous" (family member's) post rings familiar to every other story like this I've read. It's, in my opinion, a classic, textbook, 1st year psychology case of sexual abuse by a family member. She was acting out long before Elan, and one could argue it happened as a young child (see family photo). She was angry at all the family members who knew and did nothing. She was a volatile artist whose medium was BROKEN SHARDS OF GLASS. If it was anymore textbook I would think it was made up for a textbook.

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  6. I had the same thought when I saw that art "broken shards of glass". Something very bad happened to her and I believe sexual abuse could be a possibility beyond the emotional and other. One reason I hate Sedari's writing was the way he blamed her for being forced into Elan. If you read and study up on the abuses in the Elan school which sounds like a mindcontrol brainwash center, David Sedaris's lack of empathy for his sister is even more disgusting.

    http://www.elanschool.org/

    I agree it's textbook

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  7. David Sedaris is a humorist. He is attempting to deal with his loss through humor and sharing, his usual avenue. He is not a "wealthy academic" at all, and if you have read his work, you will know that he was a drug addict at one time and has been sober for many years. His mother was also an alcoholic and he has written about that with humor as a way of trying to deal with it. I can understand your response to this piece, but truly, if you read his work in it's entirety, you will note that he is a deeply empathetic person who deals with pain in a thoughtful, if irreverent, way. And, if you have ever loved an addict, you might empathize and understand that he might of felt he lost her many years earlier. Also, shame on you for taking the "servants" quote out of context: he was discussing their childhood and the status of older siblings.

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  8. If you guys want to know the real Tiffany read http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/39327. This is an amazing tribute to a great artist!

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  9. If others in the family had addiction issues, why were they so judgmental of Tiffany? I don't get that. I didn't see the empathy in that final piece, he would have at least pondered why she left...

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  10. Thanks for sharing that link anon, she sounds like she was a person I would have wanted to know. Wish I could have talked to her.

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  11. I think you're making a lot of assumptions based on a creative writing piece. First of all, Sedaris has been known to take creative liberties in his writing. It's not meant to be taken 100 percent literally. There are likely family conversations and histories that we're not privy to. I don't think it's right to judge an entire family and their history and their relationships based on a piece, or even a group of pieces of Sedaris's work.

    It is heartbreaking that Tiffany died apparently poor while she has wealthy immediate family members, but we don't know what help they did or didn't offer and what help she took or didn't take. There are some people who refuse help, no matter how badly they need it.

    There's a lot here that you don't know and aren't privy to. I'm sorry that you have had rejection in your family. That's tragic and awful. If Tiffany Sedaris felt rejection, either intentional or not, that is also tragic. But I don't think that you can say precisely what her family history was, who did what, who knew what, when did they know it, what did they do about it, etc. based on an essay, or even a collection of essays and one photo.

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  12. If you remotely understood the word 'satire,' this blog post would have been entirely unnecessary. You're obviously the sort of person who doesn't understand nuance but gets off on perceived insults.

    And the way you take everything he writes out of context, it's obvious you were hunting for them. You said he wrote "she didn't talk so much with us as at us" but neglected his description of it: "by turns funny, astute, and so contradictory it was hard to connect the sentence you were hearing to the one that preceded it."

    It's not as though he's never admitted to being "self absorbed." He's just a human, after all, and one who really captures the experience beyond the fluff. He just describes Tiffany and what it was like to interact with her - he's not vilifying her in the way you're looking for. And he didn't understand her? That gives you the right to misunderstand him? Why make the assumption she was sexually abused or that her siblings didn't care about her? Why negate the possibility of their grief or their love? Everything about this is heartless, too.

    "One day she’d throw a dish at you and the next she’d create a stunning mosaic made of the shards." Maybe that's just who she was to him?

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    1. You can hear him read it on This American Life and it really saddens me. I know some won't get his tone--people are tone deaf--but its not funny. Its derisive.

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  13. She said it herself. From a 2004 article published in the Boston Globe: "David has his own version of the truth, and it bumps into my version. His makes mine not true, and mine makes his not true," Tiffany says matter-of-factly. ''He said he wrote about our pain because we weren't doing anything with it. When I die, you can recycle me. Till then, it's mine."

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  14. That last quote, actually cements my position. Of course his "truth" within the family was different, their treatment within the family system was obviously quite different.

    We are not talking about average people here, but those worth over 10 million dollars + leaving a sister to die in severe poverty. I do not think I went out on a limb in saying something was very wrong with that picture. Did she refuse their help? It's possible but then why did she refuse it? Refusal like that would not come out of a vacuum. I see a lot of excuse making for basically to the rest of the world is a shameful treatment of a sister. Even if she refused, this tells me something was very wrong. She did not feel like "one of them" and faced ostracization. One thing too if he is going to write about his family using real names and put it out there in the public eye, the rest of us have the right to give our reaction to it. You seem to stress all the facts we are not privy to, but I ask myself what is the excuse for leaving a sister in poverty and illness and writing essays to me that seem to blatantly excuse her rejection from the family. I don't see it as so self chosen from her direction. Who would CHOOSE that? Most human being want to be loved. If he didn't see her for 8 years, I am not making assumptions in the fact that the relationship was fractured.

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  15. Where is the satire? That is one question I wanted to ask. HA HA HA "My sister committed suicide?" Maybe I didn't get "the joke".

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  16. To the person who wrote me and told me I had "problems" and this blog wouldn't fix them. Isn't that obvious I have problems. I write a blog on weighing 500lbs. I'm an impoverished aspie born into a culture that spits on everything I hold dear. Yeah I got problems but if Tiffany Sedaris had been my sister I would have loved her and visited her. I wouldn't have rejected her. I wish she had been my sister.

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  17. Here is my comment:

    His sister committed suicide, and in his article about her suicide he paints her as a 49 year old living in poverty in Somersville, MA, mattress on the floor, only two boxes to show for herself, and never mentions her art. He paints her as someone who broke away from the family early (drugs? There were those marijuana references in HIGH SCHOOL in the SEVENTIES (gasp).)

    And there was Tiffany sent to Elan - a house of horrors (apparently, as I've read further, she was tricked into going to Elan), and David writes that she brings it up in every conversation ever since, as if she's tedious and not playing the game. As if she's all about Tiffany, unlike the other Sedarises who are family-minded.

    Buddy, if people dealt with the reality that she was tricked into going to Elan, maybe she wouldn't bring it up every time.

    He's trying to paint her as a narcissist whose narcissism led her to a hard, cold, lonely, poor, nothing-to-show-for-it existence, and nobody in the rest of the family understood why it played out that way.

    Sure they don't. Sure they don't understand.

    Nobody is being "kind" about her art, painting it as art instead of bag lady hording because she's a Sedaris. Look up her art. She obviously had a huge talent. She wouldn't be the first artist whose emotional/psychological struggles prevented them from profiting in their lifetime. It's been clear in everything I've read about Tiffany that she could have made more than enough money from her mosaics if she'd been wired differently, but she wasn't. Maybe that was where David couldn't relate.

    The fact that he doesn't mention her art in his essay is a tell. He's too busy trying to paint her as someone who was a loser by choice. After I looked at her work on line, and looked a the response of the community to her death, his portrait of her in the New Yorker article becomes calculated, with a clear agenda. He's settling scores and protecting his hide. His family has been his material for his entire career. When people call themselves out (as he calls himself out) people automatically think they're painting themselves darker than they are, because really un-nice people don't tell the truth about themselves, and David appears to be very unsparing.

    However, if his family was darker than he pretends, and if a casualty was Tiffany, then he's going to have an incentive to put her down and pretend it was all on her, because his family has been his livelihood. Everybody can relate to a lovably dysfunctional family. Not everyone can relate to a family that's narcissistic and can't stand up to real damage caused.

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  18. Thanks Anon. I appreciate your comments

    He painted her the worse way he could.

    He never mentions her art, or time as a pastry chef which took professional training or a community of friends. He whittles her down to his vision of her in his own eyes...the scapegoat, the "nothing". I found the references to marijuana laughable, and these are people with Hollywood connections? Give me a break. That is best he could come up with to "prove" the horrors of her drug addiction? Even if she struggled in that area, or did early on, that would not excuse the behavior of the family.

    Elan looked like a cesspool from hell. There are many videos that even expose the place on line and youtube.Of course she would talk about it and ask Why did you let this happen to me? That is the code of dysfunctional families and especially the scapegoat who is the repository for everything bad, keep your mouth shut and we do not want to "hear you". Such a person is rendered invisible.

    I consider him naming HER as the narcissist, as classic narcissistic projection. Add in the attitude, that he believes she got the life she "deserved" and you see how utterly poisonous this all is. I wonder if he bothered to show up to any of the art shows, probably not.
    Such types don't want to understand. The family system refuses any understanding.

    I agree that weird stuff about all her art being "bag lady" stuff is just false. Sedaris could have ended up an unknown writer or his other sister an unknown actress and writer. Not every artist does profit in their lifetime. You are right she could have done well with her mosaics. Certainly her famous family paid no mind to her art, and did not help open any doors for her as they obviously did for each other.
    I agree the ignoring of the art is a "tell". His whole essay was to call her a "loser" in a more erudite fashion, thus off loading any possible guilt, and blaming her. Her community loved her, sadly her family did not. I agree with you about the desire to settle scores and cover his hide. Maybe no one will ask the obvious, what kind of multimillionaire star writers and actresses let a sister die in squalor?

    Sure he calls himself out for the art, but you are right about that too people automatically think they are painting themselves as darker or admitting all sins instead of the reality being that things are far worse then they'd imagine.

    "However, if his family was darker than he pretends, and if a casualty was Tiffany, then he's going to have an incentive to put her down and pretend it was all on her, because his family has been his livelihood."

    I totally agree.

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  19. Her suicide points to far more problems then just a quirky artistic dysfunctional family with a few foibles, that everyone can laugh at and relate to, but a far darker picture that she was a casualty of, from the very first day they put her in Elan.
    Narcissists care most about appearances, and well, while he could have let this one go, and not written about what happened to his sister at all, maybe he feared those future questions. Dear Mr. Sedaris why didn't you help your sister? Instead it's easier to fault her for his own shortcomings and those of his other family members. Where were they? Notice he doesn't question the rest of the family having nothing to do with his sister either. I didn't see any love here not at all. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate it.

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  20. A friend of TIffany's -- the last person to talk to her alive -- tears apart David Sedaris for his New York Times piece on his sister.

    www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/news/x800880748/Column-Sedaris-shames-sister-Tiffany

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    1. Hi Peep and friends, I noticed that this link has been deleted and was angry thinking David Sedaris and their siblings convinced Wicked local to take that page down. Hope somebody copied and pasted the story and could post it here.

      Narcs usually demand that websites or media to censor the truth about them. As a victim on narcissistic abuse who have been learning everyday what they had been doing that made them successful and well-loved at the expense of others, I stopped celebrating their success or supporting them when they complain about their victim. Keep up the good work on your page. Hope people who read this and have a copy of article will copy it soon.

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    2. A portion of that article is posted in another article...
      http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ReKdB92idBEJ:blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2013/12/a-friend-of-a-woman-who-took-her-life-stands-up-to-david-sedaris/+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

      Sorry to hear it is now down. I wonder if he demanded it be taken down. It could have aged out too since it is a newspaper website but wish there was a cache somewhere.

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  21. Great letter! Yes it should be named the House of Shame. I am happy she has a friend who loved her and has stood up for her.

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  22. Whatever horrors Tiffany went through at Elan, didn't show in the person I met in the 1980s in Somerville. She was pretty, funny, talented and a little outrageous.
    I believe that whatever doomed her happened later.
    I don't judge David Sedaris. We don't know how hard he may have tried to bring her back or help her financially. He had 5 siblings. Should he have ignored the other 4 and spent all his time on Tiffany? That's easy to say in hindsight.

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  23. I stumbled upon this accidentally, and I have to say that not only is this a poorly written, misinformed piece of garbage by someone who even admits to knowing pretty much nothing about David Sedaris and his writing, but like the so-called friend of Tiffany, who tried to "shame" David Sedaris in his equally poorly written bullshit on some local-yokel site, you're using this woman's death for your own personal goal. Did you want to get more than your usual 10 hits a month on this useless blog? Is that why you wrote something about which you have zero intimate understanding?

    I didn't want to waste my time responding to this piece of crap, but it's infuriating that some small-minded twit like yourself would try to pick apart a humorist, a brilliant writer who is dealing with the suicide of his sister the only way he knows how, with humor, and use it as fodder for some ridiculous diatribe.

    Go ahead and read more of his work, but I don't think it will change your ignorant thoughts on the matter. Clearly, someone like you who doesn't have the necessary intelligence or intellect to pick up on the self-deprecating humor and satire of David Sedaris will never "get it." Next time you launch into some half-ass blog post, I suggest you stick to something you know about... like donuts and Wal-Mart, or whatever it is Middle America is schooled in these days.

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    1. Amanda, you're a fangirl, secretly hoping your crush David will read this and thank you. Your reaction is no different than any Belieber fangirl's reaction to "Justin sucks!" Also, it was enjoyably hilarious to see you contradict yourself in each paragraph as you revealed your own prejudices and biases.
      Thanks for playing.

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    2. Hey mocker, it's way easier to stomp someone else's blog, than it is to take the bother and create your own. Peep's blog is number one. And YOU mocker, are a piece of crap. Have a nice day ;)

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    3. Thanks Sue. I found the comments about Walmart and Middle America, elitist as hell. Makes me wonder if you know who wrote it.

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    4. Thanks Sue. I found the comments about Walmart and Middle America, elitist as hell. Makes me wonder if you know who wrote it.

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  24. God help any one who dares to criticize a celebrity on a pedestal!

    Sorry but humor and suicide don't go together in my book.

    Did I strike a nerve in the above response?

    Hmm I detect a bit of East Coast extreme Elitism in your response, so Middle America is something bad?

    I don't like donuts and avoid Wal-marts like the plague.


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    1. Amanda's comments of Jan. 3rd are ill informed gibberish from someone who did not know Tiffany, does not know any insider information on the family and contrasting my decade plus of close friendship with Tiffany, likely knows nothing of what they are talking about other than being a fan or friend of David's. Anyone who knows me, knows that I , as was Tiffany, am virtually a total Luddite and could not care less about hits on blogs and uses my computer, mostly with great reluctance, because it forces me to encounter the likes of you. The word blog and other modern such phrases were looked upon by Tiffany and myself as poor English and was the type of shit that both Tiffany and I found generally offensive. I also have never been in a Wal-Mart, so there you go. case closed. Spew your ignorance elsewhere and good day! Michael Knoblach

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  25. Dissing the friend who loved Tiffany makes you look pretty bad. Talk about a blatant display of lack of compassion and empathy.

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  26. I think the vast majority of us didn't know Tiffany and don't know David, or any of the Sedaris family. I do not judge someones ideas but you seem to ignore the facts. David said in an interview with a dutch tv show that he lent Tiffany a large sum of money. He also pointed out that he lent his brother cash too and had not been repaid. His mother and father did not give money to there kids easily and they had to work for there money, so did I. Just because family members are well off doesn't mean they have to give money to often lazy and or irresponsible siblings. DS said that he invited family overseas if they could afford it, this might seem a little cold, but his parents insisted he get a job and a young age and his dad refused to lend him even $20.00 so why should he put on a Santa suit and help a sister who, when unemployed didn't find other work but spent money on cable and went hungry waiting for her boss to come back. Read "put a lid on it" a story she approved of but then complained about after he published it. All the family had issues but they also had the right to refute anything he wrote, something I don't think Tiffany ever did. As for the Elan school, David called the place "horrible" in one of his essays (Monei changes everything) and let's not forget Shannon who sent her there, like many misguided parents, believing the hype that the school would transform her rebellious teen into the perfect child, the mom was a victim too, she paid the large tuition. Many people don't like DS and are, no doubt, upset about his success ( I myself am profoundly disappointed Iron Man 3 did as well as it did, I hated that film) but much of the poisonous writing here smacks of angry people venting at someone when they clearly don't (and can't) know the facts.

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  27. I find it really weird that a post that is a defense of Tiffany Sedaris, and in fact in many ways an attempt to restore dignity to her memory that some felt lacking in her more-famous sibling David's remembrance of her, somehow became for some a defense of David Sedaris.

    Uh... can we please not make it yet again *all about David*? Isn't that the point of this blog post in the first place? Far and away most of us don't know her personally, don't know him except for his writing, granted -- is it really such a horrible thing to wonder and reflect on this woman's life and her decision to leave it? In consideration of what he wrote, sure -- but also the untold volumes of her life left unsaid.

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  28. Thank you last anon....What David has thousands of articles praising him on the internet and Tiffany has a few here, and the David defenders can't even allow Tiffany this article and few others? I admitted I never met her personally and I was going by what HE wrote about her and what I could find out otherwise as linked to here. There is nothing wrong with wondering about and reflecting on Tiffany's life or asking some of these hard questions. To be honest I am kind of weirded out, by the people upset that anyone would speak on behalf of Tiffany.

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  29. Thanks, Peep, for your perceptive comments. It's the lack of loving kindness coming through in David's writings about his sister that are disturbing, pure and simple.

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  30. Thanks Sugarbird. I appreciate it and totally agree!

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  31. Simply put after reading the essay and then the obituary, it appears that instead of “Now We Are Five”… they were always five!

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  32. Simply put after reading the essay and then the obituary, it appears that instead of “Now We Are Five”… they were always five!

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  33. Wow, people are making a lot of assumptions. I am a gay man who has a brother and 4 sisters, so I really love Davids books. I also have a sister who is indifferent to my family...She is angry, depressed and blames everything on us, her family. She has ruined holidays, vacations etc etc ..she feels there is nothing wrong with her, it "US" , her family...Her perception of how things happened in my family is unrecognizable to me. After so many years of her reaching out when she wants or needs
    something and then turning around and saying "You people have never done anything for me"!!! gets really tiring. Or when she tells us to stay the fuck out of her life and then wonders why no one makes contact. I know my sister is in pain and needs help but she doesnt see it and Im tired of her dragging us down and making my mother stressed and sick. Im sure something happened to her to make her that way, but if she isnt going to confront her demons, then I say, we should stay clear from her. I wont allow myself to get sucked into her shit. To all the people out there who are blaming the Sedaris family and claiming she had all these friends that cared about her...Where were you guys?? If you were all such good people, why did you let it happen? You know why, becasue just like her family, you didnt know or have a choice to help, your werent expecting it....Suicide is a decision that Tiffany made and it is extremely angry, selfish and unfair to everyone who loved and cared about her. I never met her and I feel guilty in a weird way. After learning & reading about her I thought "I bet if I had known her I could have stopped her"....I know thats silly, but thats the way I think. Anyway people, lay off the family.

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    1. I too have a similar family situation. People often don't know how difficult and destructive and selfish a family member can be. My sister forged checks in my name, abandoned her child for four years, demanded I pay for her schooling....and yes, we did it all. My mother and I drained ourselves dry for this exceedingly manipulative--and David does point out his sister was also very manipulative with the opposite sex--woman. She has said that we are the cause of her misery but can't even point to an example other than that she hates that I exist and was born first. So....people might ask me why I haven't helped my sister who is far poorer than I and my answer is: I did. I gave and I gave. I spent four years cleaning up her mess. I lost a job thanks to her. I got into an accident thanks to her. I had to redo my green card and passport thanks to her throwing them away. In return, I've had nothing but malice. Once, when she thought I was out of town, she sent me a text saying she was throwing all my stuff out into the street. And she did. There is probably a lot David endured. He may not be an angel but I doubt she was one either. I don't think he was airing dirty laundry and if he did, it was probably only the tip of the iceberg.

      Is she mentally ill? Yes, paranoid, definitely, bipolar, maybe. But mostly, she's selfish and blames others for her life. And that's hard to deal with.

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    2. The one and only thing Tiffany Sedaris wanted more than anything else from her family she knew she could never have was their love, understanding and acceptance. She didn't commit suicide because of her poverty she was depressed. Robin Williams committed suicide he was depressed. At least Robin wasn't demoralized after death and his wonderful being is still celebrated. Tiffany deserved a celebration of her life. Does the Sedaris family say anything about her that is good? Beautiful and funny is good but the love they should have given to her would have meant much more than monetary gifts or loans. Sad life story sad ending to her life.
      Having a family that treats me as an outcast and scapegoat I've found happiness with my 2 kids and spouse living in our functional family. Detached from the old narcissist that denied me her love and acceptance. To rise the above narcissist abuse took great strength and a deep desire to not let those people destroy my life and not let them win because my pain is their strength. Tiffany died and she took her power back. It's so sad she couldn't get her power and live a happy life.

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    3. Thanks for your post. You make a lot of good points. I agree she needed love and acceptance first. I am glad you have been able to overcome your narcissistic abuse in the past with your FOC, thanks for your post.

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  34. I know everyone may have their own opinion on this one. I am sorry your sister is angry at your family but have you ever wondered if from her end there is a reason? It may have nothing to do with you. If your family had any abusive narcissists in it, not saying it did, I wrote about this on one of my articles here, the parent you saw and dealt with could have been very different then the parent your sister saw or dealt with. There was a reason mine saved their worse abuses for when no one was around. Maybe seek to validate your sister's pain, say "I know you are hurting" without making excuses for those who have told you she is the only one in the wrong. One thing I know that happens with the scapegoats in a family is that your pain and depression can become so complete, the backstabbing behind the scenes, everyone sees you in a bad way and only under their label, so there only no contact is the solution. It worries me that you see your sister in such a bad way and I wonder if that is via others in your family saying your sister is the only one in the wrong. There were relatives in my family who got labeled as the "BAD ONES" and I remember how this worked to destroy people's lives even with my aunt. Do me a favor and even if your sister has faults step back and try and take a look at her outside of the families view. Yes for most normal people there are two sides to every story, I never said Tiffany was perfect here either but there are dynamics I at least am perfectly familiar with, and yes people can claim well you weren't there...sure, but then all of us deal with the information we have and what has been written and there were too many red flags that were shown. Your sister probably is upset because she feels invalidated, and when you refer to "her shit" that tells me, that the communication was barred off a long time ago. Maybe your sister has serious problems, I don't know, but families that write off a member or consider them the one that "ruins" all the vacations, well what happened to separate one from the group? Why not ask her what happened? I know there are all sorts of things out there that can happen from substance abuse to whatnot bringing trouble and turmoil but I get a little bit queasy when one family member is singled out as the "problem" with no redeeming qualities. I do agree with Tiffany suicide is a bad decision too, and she should have stayed around for her friends too, if I had known her I would have wanted to stop her too.

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  35. With your sister, it is like a cycle. I have faced facts that around my family I was barely even ME. I was so downgraded, put down, treated so horrible. I was not the best "me" around them but then I will take responsibility for what I did, but then took a clear look at how did things get to this point? Why did people stress only the negative about me? This is one reason I walked away, these people saw me as a specific way, and I wasn't that person they saw or maligned. I kept contact with those who saw some good and walked away from those who only saw bad. Think about that in regards to your sister.

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  36. People with mental illness easily cut family ties and break them beyond repair. Maybe she was bipolar. I've known plenty of bipolar people who totally burn bridges.

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  37. I can't believe I have to type this,all over again..my phone is acting up..ghosting really bad andttyping whatever it wants and often won't let me delete. typos..plus it freezes the screen.wordy yet the test to see if I'm not a robot..hs..what a joke..is the worse one to read ...its ridiculous..its lije they just make i
    t impossible to publish your comment.then after all that it deleted everything.
    so please bear with me.okay..all of u must absolutely read thesomervilletimes.com/archives/39327.....read all the comments from people like Erin Burley who knew her well....gonna try post this..and if hoes through maybe say what Burley wrote.

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  38. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  39. ....that went through...maybe this Will.....I'm having problem w this phone ghosting n typing its own stuff n song let me erase some of it...so please bear w me.
    isomervilletimes. comments Burnley days she was talented zartist who used slot of glass and stuff people discarded.....found art .....she couldn't stand to be separated from her art...people offered her large sums cash for it.but she wouldn't sell any. in end she decided she should and ess,planning art exhibit.
    she had moved several times...maybe because she had 2 cats and s rabbit. she warned people she was an addict. a couple she lived w kept....stole all her art...she ended up.in that last one room place after that .Sounds like it crushed her spirit.
    plead read all comments...people describe her generosity,etc .I urged burnely get documentary made of her He's trying yo get her art from that rotten couple to get it exhibited .his email is erin.m.burnley@gmail.com he has photos her work..I want go sed them .if anyone had her art or knows whereabouts contact him...956 685 3974 .

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  40. I met Tiffany in the early 80's. She was funny, attractive, and friendly. I liked her a lot. She did say that she had been in an institution or school. She may have mentioned Maine.
    I don't think she mentioned exactly why, but I remember thinking it was reform school or even for mentally unstable types. Now I see this article. And so it was. Thinking back, from the way she acted at times, physical, sexual or emotional abuse from some source seems possible. I'm almost positive she mentioned lithium. But, I thought she was joking. Perhaps she was bipolar. Some of this has been mentioned by others as being possible. Of course these are all feelings I remember. I'm not saying for fact. If any of this was the case, she certainly didn't cause any of it. She was very attractive to me. She seemed to me to be someone who needed someone to care and perhaps love her. But perhaps had a hard time believing anyone could or would. I wanted to be that person. Sadly for me at the time, she was not interested in being involved with me or perhaps anyone. Now so many years later,it is truly upsetting to read that she has died. Our high school news letter listed her as passed. Even though our friendship was brief and many years ago, I will never forget her, or one of her favorite sayings..."Oh grow up!"

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  41. You might want to read David's Essay "Put a Lid on it," which is about Tiffany, before you continue to blast David and before you make up your mind completely. It's in his Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim book. She only let him write about her once, and she had to approve the story before it was published.

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    1. Sure I'll read it. Maybe I'll post on it. I have read some of his other writings, I could have read it already years ago.

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    2. Or "Let It Snow"

      www(.)newyorker.com/archive/2003/12/22/031222fa_fact3

      --- unrelated, but this is how many of us feel about the event, www(.)youtube.com/watch?v=IQTEsnfD7l8 ... she was tortured by her experiences, couldn't escape them and really, wouldn't accept help for them. Or help for much else.

      She'd be offended by all this "pity" for her as much of anything. And yes, I do blame her for that -- calling her temperamental would be kind.

      and let's be real here even the obit for Tiff dances around the fact she was pretty fk'd up -- as its said some of the comments there and elsewhere, even the people that liked her and tried to help her, it typically didn't work out -- the reason it typically didn't work out was because she was unstable -- she was a victim of many things, but mostly her own response to her own mental health.

      and even by her own admission, the events of Elan defined her life more than her own life did... she could never reconcile it - but it was a sword and a shield she wielded outward as much as in.

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    3. David's an easy scapegoat, most of the family is... some blame Amy -- to which some feel Jerri Blank was created as an exaggerated outline of Tiffany because there's fragments that fit and they don't necessarily have to be hammered or forced to fit -- of course, Amy probably wouldn't think so but it's impossible to say she wasn't influenced subconsciously by her experiences and reflections of Tiff too.

      And honestly, thinking about it -- my hopes would be for Amy to take up reviving 'night, Mother www(.)youtube.com/watch?v=KZPTDKKF4Io

      maybe something more adapted to this specific situation -- and maybe the proceeds heading to the Elan survivors.

      Tiff probably wouldn't like it so much.. she was desperate to be recognized in own her right -- maybe rites than being the sister of Amy or david or anyone else. You know, that was part of the reason she wouldn't accept money for her work -- though she did for a few pieces, when she believed people never heard, never knew, never looked it up her connection to her family...

      I won't profess to understand her or even to know her, but still, there's nothing here to make her into a martyr, vilified or risen to sainthood.

      but it seems more fk'd up that people have more respect for her dead than she was when she was alive...

      they want to look at the family, look at elan, look for some excuse to overshadow the number of reasons, like a thousand stings from wasps and bees, and who knows what other things to point to one and say that was the reason, the real reason she died..

      but I liken her more to Jesse in " 'night, mother " -- she was just tired and many of her 'fans' in the wake of her suicide are like her momma ... as worse as their lives might be suicide while it might be considered as a passing thought are still so far outside of their frame of understanding their grasping at straws trying to make sense of it.

      and the line that david uses in his now infamous piece about her death does actually sum her up beautifully

      "One day she’d throw a dish at you and the next she’d create a stunning mosaic made of the shards."

      or the bit from "Let it Snow"

      " She’d do just about anything in return for a little affection. All you had to do was call her Tiff, and whatever you wanted was yours: her allowance, her dinner, the contents of her Easter basket. Her eagerness to please was absolute and naked. When we asked her to lie in the middle of the street, her only question was “Where?” "

      but it's the space between that becomes more murky -- most of the time you'd never know why the plate was thrown, like all this, like her death, you can guess, you try to draw lines but you'd never know. I think she took pride in that - it was her secret and her secret alone, if you didn't get it, you were unworthy or that was the problem entirely.

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    4. -- though I don't think she got it most of the time either... she didn't like to get close to people -- it would be too simplified to justify her experiences broke her line of trust ... she was as much afraid of herself as anyone.

      personally, I think she just needed someone to talk to, that would shrug off everything that was thrown be it the roll of her eyes (-- it was her trademark, she seemed incapable of rolling her eyes without producing a small demure catty kind of grin) or something physical near by... but "professional" help, she tried a few times, she needed to "talk" but they just wanted to load her up on pills instead... some found their way into art projects - which despite it all was probably a better use instead.

      or there's the strange (strange to most people) she would have wanted to live on island or small cottage surrounded by a moat - that she could live in the heart of a city but be invisible too - she needed the city and people too much to be completely removed from them, it was her lifeblood in a way. - and it was true, in a way, up until the very end... you really couldn't see her in the city, in town, unless you were looking str8 at her... otherwise she was invisible, confused for being homeless.. hated it and loved it at the same time... our own li'l antihero

      www(.)lifeblood.net/songs/lyrics/lifeblood.html

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  42. I was at Elan. It was crazy. David really sickens me!!

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    1. I feel for anyone who has gone to those brainwash centers. I hope you came out okay and did not face abuse. At least my parents while better off, did not have money to send me away somewhere though I have very vague memories of a boarding school being discussed and a tour--remember seeing nuns and statues there and long staircases unlike my regular Catholic school and they decided they couldn't afford to pack me away. Yes I can see why David really sickens you. Have you ever heard of this website?

      http://www.fornits.com/

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    2. David didn't send her there. He had absolutely nothing to do with the choice of his parents to send his younger sister off to whatever place they were convinced -- rightly or wrongly -- would do her some good.

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  43. Seriously, if you haven't read Put A Lid On It, you really should. It addresses much of what's been mentioned in the comments--how brilliant of an artist Tiffany was (and how her self consciousness kept her from making more money from her art), her talent as a chef, how much her family (including David) had failed her, a bit of how terrible Elan was, etc. You could argue the essay demonizes Tiffany, since it doesn't portray her as a saint, but I always thought that in that essay, she was the good, quirky, independent spirit that her closed-minded brother knew he had and continued to fail to understand. David always came off as the bad guy in that essay, with his own knowledge of being the bad guy. Now We Are Five accomplishes less in this regard, but maybe he didn't want to repeat himself.

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    1. I will read it and then comment on it here. I think the "failure to understand" someone doesn't mean kicking them to the curb and treating them like trash. Obviously in my Aspie case I relate to that well too. Even if one admits wicked doings, why not make amends? Why not try? Sometimes I got tired of all the excuses in my own family, a few would even do mea culpas, but they NEVER WOULD CHANGE ANYTHING, they always went with the narcissists. How would he like to have been the family "throwaway"? Lives are lost because of this stuff. This is one reason I wrote this article.

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    2. Original commentator here: I absolutely agree with you that people should never be cast out because of their disabilities. For what it's worth, many of my friends are on the autism spectrum and most of them are involved with the neurodiversity movement (the founder of ASAN has been one of my closest friends since middle school), so I'm pretty familiar with the issues surrounding the autism and other disability movements through them. I myself have a mood disorder (recently changed from a bipolar II diagnosis to mood disorder nos), and I've spent many years fearing discrimination because of my mental illness. That said, I'm just not convinced that David Sedaris abandoned his sister because she was different. From the sounds of it, she deliberately forced him and the rest of her family out of her life. Was it justified? Probably. But it's not his fault for not supporting her if she refused his help, regardless of her reasons for doing so. Would you want your worst enemy supporting you financially, constantly making you feel indebted to them?

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  44. (BTW, I'm also really into the body acceptance movement and issues surrounding that, so am looking forward to reading more of your blog. :-) )

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  45. You have obviously never had to deal with a mentally ill relative. Don't judge.

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    1. are you kidding me?

      http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2013/10/aunt-scapegoat.html

      http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2014/09/aunt-confused.html

      Not even including the narcissists in the immediate family?

      and I lived with both above too.

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  46. If you had grown up in a dysfunctional family, you would recognize that dark humor as your coping mechanism. It's called survival.

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  47. I agree with the last post. It's a coping mechanism and mentally ill people are exhausting. You just can't devote your entire life to making sure they care for themselves. I'm sure there is more to her story, I'm sure they urged her to take her medication and she wouldn't.

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    1. A millionaire family had more resources, and how mentally ill was she? Often scapegoats are labeled as mentally ill when within the dysfunctional family, the mental illness of other family members to many other counselors and psychiatrists would be even extremely higher. Sure there are parts of the story we don't have. But she was obviously considered a "throwaway" from the family.

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  48. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now, I suppose you're going to presume that this was a conspiracy of some kind. But, for a moment, let's say it's not. Let's say she really did struggle with being bipolar...

    Have you ever tried to help someone with this disease who is not managing it? Have you personally ever tried to "save" someone in this dreadful circumstance?

    It's a terrible, terrible illness and it affects those closest to the patient as much as the patient herself. If a mentally ill person (myself included) does not learn to manage his/her illness they can very easily destroy the lives of those who try to help them. Sometimes it is simple self-preservation to walk away.Sometimes you have to. It's tragic. But the insidious part of that particular illness is that it causes behavior that will alienate the person from those in his or her safety net. And yes, it often results in suicide.
    And yes, the survivors are left to blame themselves.

    We should let them know not to bother though, because you will do the blaming for them.

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    1. Yes I have tried to help people with it. You don't throw them away like a scapegoat. I do volunteer work and am part of a support group in my community with those with bipolar and other forms of depression. I have had major depression myself not bipolar but am very educated in bipolar and what it does as a result of my being part of this group. The worse thing for a bipolar or depressive is throwing them away and ostracizing and basically saying you don't matter anymore. Telling me they destroy lives is a bit of hyperbole, sure if someone struggles with substance abuse issues and other problems, one has to protect themselves, but being cast out of a family sucks. So I am supposed to cry copious tears for the famous millionaires now? Sorry no can do.

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    2. Anonymous - you have restored my faith in humanity. I had a mentally ill son who committed suicide in 2012 - everything you say is absolutely accurate. All the family resources were spent trying to help him over many years and, no matter what, it was never enough, and certainly not ever "good enough" as far as he saw it. I did everything I could think of for many years, but in the end, he wrote me this note "Mom, you took my life from me. I can have no further contact with you." And then he cut himself off from all the people who loved him forever. When people say "you don't throw them away like a scapegoat", fivehundredpoundpeep - you have absolutely no comprehension of how far off base you are. Thank you, anonymous, for all you've written - and you, too, FHPP. I have referred my daughters to this conversation so they can read and, perhaps, be comforted by these words.

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    3. Your son committed suicide and your response is to come on here, and complain about how he said "nothing was ever enough". That tells me all I need to know about you. I don't see love there, I see shaming and blaming someone even in death.

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  49. Even in this picture, her eyes look haunted, haunting and fearful. My heart breaks for her, not the people who left her behind to rot.

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  50. I know I'm very late to this discussion. Last night I stumbled across Tiffany's obituary (not the one that David wrote in the New Yorker, though I did read that one after... more on that in a minute).
    Long story short - I was reading some online comments about an old friend of mine that died. He was heavily drugged at the time, crashed his car into a pole, survived momentarily, and was then killed by a passing car when he tried to cross the freeway on foot. Back when I knew him, he didn't do drugs. I hadn't seen him in years. In reading the comments about him online, I ended up on fornits.com (like Tiffany, my friend was sent to one of those horrible boarding schools about 5 years before I met him in the mid-eighties). I ended up on the webpage below and that's how I learned about Tiffany. Scary stuff.

    http://wiki.fornits.com/index.php?title=Victims

    Anyway, back to Tiffany, I agree wholeheartedly with the author of this blog (Five Hundred Pound Peep). Her comments were dead on about how atrociously David handled this. I found his New Yorker article distasteful and appalling. Textbook narcissist. So desperate to find fault with his dead sister that he quotes the scribbles in her high school yearbook?!?! Really David?!! That's absurd. Everybody, listen up, you will now be judged on what TEENAGERS wrote in your yearbook 20+ years ago. You've been warned.

    Tiffany definitely deserved better.

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  51. Hey anon, thanks for your late contribution. :)
    So sorry about your friend and what happened to him and his descent into drinking. I know about fornits and have read over there. There's a lot of brain washing and mind control school for the normal teens too, or ones they consider too "out of control", or "rebellious" and these places all focus on 'breaking wills' which they use mental, physical and emotional abuse to carry out. Thanks for agreeing with me. This article was a tough one. Celebrities will get their defenders.

    His article alarmed me so much, I remember writing this right after I read it. Yeah he went to go dig up the yearbook, gotta find something on sis, shows a bit of desperation.

    I agree Tiffany deserved better. They made me sick dishonoring her in death, hmmm even like the commenter above I had to take to task, if you saw that other post anon.

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  52. People defending writer Sedaris are narcissists who probably exist in a pampered cocoon of acceptance by mom and dad, or deny such by self medicating. They may have many narcisstic traits or they may be golden children with full blown NPD.

    They will never be able to empathise with the plight of the artist Tiffany because she did not follow the 'rules'. As they did, probably after their own trauma now buried.

    Let us hope that the more light shed on this disgusting and crippling disease in society the sooner people will go no contact with the suspects and raise a new generation in a nurturing,creative atmosphere.

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  53. I adore David Sedaris and my family is acutely dysfunctional. My mother is a narcissist and I haven't spoken to her for 20 years. I'd trade my family for the Sedarises in a second. Having actually read the story DS wrote about Tiffany while she was alive - which she approved - she sounded troubled and difficult. I have a friend with a bipolar sister who refuses to take medication, runs off to other countries spending tens of thousands of other people's money on credit and then needs to be rescued. And she hates anyone fussing over her ... bipolar people are not easy to help. I got the impression from the earlier DS story that he did try and help her. There are plenty of details that are not public. I can't believe anyone would comment on this without reading the earlier story. When I read that Tiffany had committed suicide, I was sad but not surprised.
    So to summarize, I think David Sedaris is great, my family is vile and I would swap with the Sedarises in a second. Something obviously went wrong when Tiffany was a child, but we don't know what that is. We know her mother spent a lot of money trying to fit it. And so many people on this blog are hung up about money, so yes, worth putting that out there. I do not believe Tiffany was sent to that school to be tortured, DS has said they didn't know. Anyway, there comes a point when you have to stop blaming your parents for everything. My sister is a difficult pain in the ass with a BMW. Would I expect to rescue me? No.

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  54. Thanks for your words and thoughts FHP Peep - appreciate the time and energy your spend in clarifying difficult subjects, and most importantly, your ability to articulate a defence for many circumstances where the popular perception is likely to be that a defence is not needed.

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