Featured post

Running my abusers’ e-mail through the narc decoder

Back in May 2012, my abusers, Richard and Tracy, discovered this blog, then threatened and began to stalk me.  You can read their e-mail below.

Especially note that whichever of them wrote the e-mail (it “sounded” like Tracy’s “voice”), accused me of making things up and accusing Tracy falsely, downplayed Richard’s criminal conviction of choking his daughter, warned me not to go to the priest/church, and threatened to sue.

And yet–Through our own local version of a “police beat,” Crime Reports, published for all to see on the Fond du Lac city website, I have discovered that a domestic dispute occurred in May.  The report points to Richard and Tracy’s last-known address, at least according to Google Earth, which is used by the website to locate each crime event.  A follow-up occurred about a week later, so it appears that an investigation was begun into the incident, beyond the initial police report.

No charges have been filed as of yet, so I don’t know what happened, who was involved, or if charges ever will be filed.  But it–along with Richard’s conviction of choking his daughter–supports my statements that Richard and Tracy are abusive, and that I am not making up “false facts” out of a “not-all-there” brain.  And gives more strength to my mind to resist their attempts to gaslight me, and attempts to intimidate me into silence through constant surveillance of this blog.  This discovery has even more emboldened me to not be silent–and to laugh at their attempts to scare me.

It gets easier all the time, when reading old posts or remembering things that my abusers said or did, to laugh it off.  Yes, laugh it off.  I see how ridiculous it all is, and see right through it all.  Not only does it help pull me out of the pit and back where life is beautiful again, and I am no longer a “victim,” but it should help me identify such behavior in others, before I get pulled in again.

(Not that it is in any way a character failing to be a victim of someone abusing you.  Victim-blaming and -shaming is a huge problem these days.  The only one who should be ashamed of how the victim is affected by the abuse, is the abuser.)

Nowadays, when I remember what happened, it no longer affects me, just as it no longer affects me to remember what Phil, Peter or Shawn did back in college.  It’s become a story I revise for the masses to read, which may inspire a brief burst of anger, but then I forget about it again.  I see right through the things my various abusers did, and no longer let it worry and oppress me the way it used to for years.  Yes, it took me years to get past what those guys did, just as it has taken years to deal with what Richard and Tracy did.  But eventually I got through.  As Trent Reznor titled a song, The way out is through.

Because of this, and the discovery above which provides even more evidence that my abusers were full of bullsh**, I am now ready to turn my abusers’ threatening e-mail to me in May of 2012, into a piece of high comedy, by running it through my own brand-new narc decoder.

Blogger Tina Swithin has popularized the idea of a “narc decoder,” through which you run messages from your abuser.  This handy little “machine” translates those messages which fill you with fear, dread, anger, and the like, into what they really mean.

First, read the e-mail from Richard and Tracy:

Nyssa,

We read this in amusement. It gave us a good laugh to find
that almost 2 years later you are still fixated on something that we
forgot about a long time ago. As for your threats, promises whatever to
expose us you can take out a law book and read about defamation laws.
Richards’s court case may be public access and you are free to speculate
all you want without having all the information and facts. However the
rest of your writings about how horrible a person Tracy is and abusive
mentally deranged etc. have gone beyond statements of opinion. You have
represented in your writings false facts, not just opinions, about Tracy
that constitutes an actionable lawsuit. You are free to have your
opinion and feelings however the minute you go public to the members of
the church or community as you have threatened to do we will exercise
our rights to sue you for defamation against Tracy’s character.

You
talk about threats and bullies yet what are you doing? You are
threating to falsely accuse and expose lies about an innocent person if
they do not concede to your demands. We will not be threatened or
intimidated. We are free to go to church to worship our Lord God without
fear of retaliation from someone we see as not all there. You want
closure here it is. We are not sorry. We did nothing wrong. You will
never get what you want from us because we do not feel we owe you
anything. We will continue to be active in our church our community and
our town; if you cannot handle that then that us your problem not ours.
We will not move or change our faith to make you happy and comfortable.
As for the local parish being ‘your’ church. I think the archdiocese
would have a thing to say about that. The church is for everyone. We
have stayed away out of respect to give you time. We have gone to other
churches in town outside of our faith when gas prices or work schedules
prevented us from driving 40+ miles one way to church. However we miss
going to a church of our faith, participating in the mysteries having
that commune with our Lord, so we decided that when we can’t drive out
of town we will go to the local parish. We will not be pushed out of the
church by you, two years is enough time. So as fair warning for the
perceivable future our work schedules make long distance an issue as the
other parish is moving to summer hours and Divine Liturgy starts early.
So we will be attending locally A LOT this summer, we will even show up
on Saturday nights.

And now I run the e-mail from Richard and Tracy through the narc decoder…..

Snap, crackle, pop….

And here it is, all decoded:

Nyssa,

How dare you ever speak a word to anyone about how we bullied, abused and gaslit you for years?  How dare you ever speak a word about Tracy’s abuses of Richard, the children, and others?

Tracy tried her hardest to shut you up so that only you knew what was happening, so we could keep you under our control and even your husband wouldn’t know the truth.  We wanted even him to think you were crazy.  We wanted you to think you imagined it all.

How dare you break out of our control and think for yourself?  How dare you tell your husband and all your friends and family what we did?  How dare you have a mind and will much stronger than we gave you credit for?

You were so nice and easily intimidated that we thought for sure we could twist you every which way we wanted to, and continue to use you and get money/stuff/living space out of you.

It scared us when you showed signs of wanting to kick us out of your house years ago for bullying you and being generally abusive, so we had to re-assert our control and make you think you were in the wrong.  We had to make you think YOU were the one with the problem, so we could stay put till we were good and ready to leave.

Now, a few days ago, you actually stood up for yourself and told us to stay away from you.  But we don’t want to leave you alone.

We’ve always hated your church, and barely stepped foot in it even while we still pretended to be friends with you.  But we want to guilt you into thinking we’re pious Christians who long for the Mysteries, even though we have never lifted a finger to resolve this like Christians, have never behaved like Christians.

We have no interest in actually behaving like Christians, or in getting the Mysteries out of any sense of longing for Christ.  No, this is only so we can harass you and pretend to be pious, by making big shows of making the sign of the Cross, just like Pharisees!  We want to shove up against you, breathe down your neck and snarl in the Communion line.  We want to pretend to everyone at your church that we’re just innocent Christians, so that no one will believe you if you try to tell them what we really are.

We want free reign, so we can control you at church, too, by forcing you to keep quiet and telling everyone you’re a nutcase and not all there.

We know it’s a lie.

We still think you’re easily manipulated through threats.  The truth is that we are afraid of anyone else knowing what kind of people we really are.  We don’t want your priest to know, either, especially since you spoke of showing him Richard’s criminal records.  This is why we repeatedly threaten you and tell you to shut up.

We don’t want you to get help from the church.  We want you to be destroyed because you know what we really are.

We are well aware that you never made threats to retaliate against us.

But just as Tracy did with Todd, when she accused him falsely and smeared him all over the game forum years ago, we will try to make you think you made threats.  We will tell others that you made threats you never actually made, to get them on our side and turn them against you, make them think you’re crazy, just as we successfully got all those people thinking that Todd was crazy.

We have already done that, by telling some person Tracy goes to school with, Chia, that you did these things you never did, that you lied when you told the truth.  She never even met you before.  Then she changed her profile to a passive-aggressive diatribe against you, and “friended” you on Facebook.  But it was only so we can peruse your Facebook for posts about us.

Of course you never threatened to push us out of the church or Fond du Lac.  We just suffer from poor reading comprehension, combined with our fear of somebody exposing our real selves to the whole world.

We have worked very hard to suppress our real selves around other people in Fond du Lac, so that we can make inroads in politics and other circles, but your very knowledge of our true selves–and Richard’s conviction–threatens our feeling of security.

It is all a lie.  But you’re not supposed to recognize that.  You’re supposed to doubt yourself and come under our control.

The true threat is that because you know the truth about us, your very existence is a threat.  We are scared that because of you, that perfect image we want to present the community, will come crashing down as the facade that it is.

You have kept careful notes of our abuses, and that frightens us.  We want you to think even those records are fake.  Even though everything you wrote is the truth.  Even though Richard sent you an e-mail years back which proved your assertions.  This is why, years ago, we tried to make you think you were a stalker for keeping such notes, so you would stop doing that.  This is why we are now trying to gaslight you into thinking that Tracy has never abused anyone and that you’re just lying.

So we will ridicule you and make you think you’re the one with the problem (even though your reactions to being abused and seeing your abuser again are all perfectly normal), because we never matured past elementary school.

We will pretend to be amused by your blog, when in truth it scares us to death–or we never would’ve threatened you.  Especially your knowledge of Richard’s conviction.  We read that page of your blog constantly.

Though your pain, your desperate suffering, caused by us and our actions and words, so much so that only blogging could get it out, does amuse us, because we are sociopaths.

We like to cause pain and refuse to apologize for it, refuse to make it right, because we have no human feeling–except for our own selves.  We laugh at others for needing this strange thing called “closure.”  When we hurt someone else, when we cause them pain, it is hilarious to us.

Though we are so faulty with reading comprehension that we did not get that it’s not “closure” you need, but for us to recognize we have done wrong, and make it right, through apologies and changed behavior.  This would make a Christian restoration of friendship possible.  But that won’t happen, because we are superior to all others and never do anything wrong.  And because we were only pretending to be your friends to begin with.

We even laugh at the collapse of your faith, even though Richard claimed for years to want to be a priest.  Which shows our own faith is actually an act put on to fool you and others, to give us an air of respectability.

We want you to think that even your perception of Richard’s conviction is wrong, even though you have official, public information saying otherwise.  We want you to think Richard is innocent, even though he himself admitted to choking his daughter.  All to further gaslight you into our control.

We easily got over the breakup because you were blameless, so we had nothing to be angry about.  Well, other than the fact that you broke free of us before we could dump you first.

But you had been showing signs of breaking free from our control for years, which is why we let you go so easily.  We knew you would be trouble, that you already saw Tracy’s true nature and were beginning to see Richard’s as well.  We knew you may even report us to the police or Social Services–which you did eventually do.  That scared us.

We would never admit to being to blame for the suffering you’ve gone through.  It’s your fault, after all.  It’s never the abuser’s fault.  How dare you try to make us take responsibility for how we treat and hurt people, including our own children?  We are perfect, can’t you tell?  It’s never our fault when we abuse someone!  It’s always the fault of the person we abuse!

It infuriates us that you are sticking up for yourself and telling about what happened!  So we will make empty threats, hoping to shut you up, even though we know we could never have the legal basis to carry them through, and no lawyer would take us on because we have no case or money!  We talk about Constitutional Rights, but that’s for US, not for you!

How dare you insist that we never contact you?  Just by sending this e-mail we are violating your rights and request to be left alone!  Because we don’t care about anybody but ourselves.

–Richard and Tracy Doe

Ah, that was therapeutic.  This is a good way to turn the horrid e-mails/messages sent to you by your abuser, into a piece of see-through garbage that no longer bothers you.

Attempting to obtain closure with an abusive, narcissistic and/or borderline woman (i.e., Crazy) is almost always a maddening exercise in futility. You’re not going to get closure with this kind of woman for several reasons. First, she doesn’t meet the three most important prerequisites for giving and receiving closure:

  1. A reasonable degree of sanity
  2. A foothold in reality
  3. Empathy

Being able to give an ex closure means you’re able to accept your share of responsibility for the demise of the relationship and when has your BPD and/or NPD ex ever taken responsibility for her behavior, especially when she was clearly in the wrong?

…I hate to break it to you, but if you’re waiting for this to happen or, heaven forbid, an apology from this woman; IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. If you try to get closure from your NPD and/or BPD ex by detailing the many ways she hurt and tortured you, she’s unlikely to acknowledge what she did.–Shrink4Men, There is No Closure with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman

 

 

Featured post

On Ray Rice: Domestic violence is never justified

I’ve seen the long video of Ray Rice hitting his wife.  I’ve also read that some people associated with the Men’s Rights Movement are sticking up for Ray.

Now, I am firmly of the belief that abuse of men by women is a problem that needs to be taken more seriously.

My ex-friend Richard was and probably still is abused by his wife Tracy, including punches and slaps.

Mutual friend Chris also used to be abused by his wife (though current pictures/posts of them on Facebook as a happy couple, make me wonder if they got counseling and fixed that.)

But while I support the blog Shrink4Men, that doesn’t make me anti-feminist, and I do not agree with everything I see there.  I agree, basically, with the idea that women should not abuse, and that men need to get out of violent relationships.  I love the many extensive descriptions of how women abuse, because they helped me a lot, back when I was still reeling from the things Tracy did to me and to others.

I did agree with Paul Elam’s statements on Shrink4Men that women should behave like adults in disagreements, and that they should not be allowed to behave like a toddler having a tantrum.  I saw for myself how Tracy could act like a toddler having a tantrum, and it was validating to find that this is not right, and that many others have experienced this with the abusive females in their lives.

But I don’t agree that feminists are the enemy.  Feminism is not about women getting control over men, but about gender equality in every way.  Some bad apples should not be seen as spoiling the whole movement.  Unfortunately, it appears that some men who are actually abusers, are using the Men’s Rights Movement as a cover.

Men being victims of domestic violence, does NOT mean that men are more oppressed than women, or that men should raise their fists to fight back.

Simple fact of the matter, is that men are usually stronger than women.  You see in the video that Palmer does strike out at Rice, but that he barely flinches, while his blow knocks her unconscious.  I also see Rice cornering Palmer before she strikes, making me think she was afraid.

This ESPN article describes more details, which make it clear that Palmer was protecting herself, and not the other way around:

One former staffer said Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back, spat in his then-fiancée’s face twice, “once outside the elevator and once inside,” prompting her to retaliate with movements that were ultimately countered with a knockout punch….

“When she regained consciousness she said, ‘How could you do this to me? I’m the mother of your kid,'” that same staffer told “Outside the Lines.”

With his fiancée still groggy, Rice dialed somebody on his cellphone and said, “I’m getting arrested tonight,” the staffer said. Police arrived in 10 to 15 minutes.

Reviewing the video a bit more shows that yes, he was spitting on, harassing and trying to hit her while she was trying to protect herself, that she did not slap him until he spat at her, that she must have been afraid from being trapped with him in the elevator, that she was NOT the aggressor.  Apparently she spit at him right before he threw the punch–but that was after he’d been spitting on and attacking her.

It reminds me, also, of how Richard once told me that if Tracy’s slaps and punches ever made it to his face, he would hit back.  Richard is 6’5 and 400 pounds.  Tracy is nearly a foot shorter than he, and probably half his weight.  You do the math.

Richard said that no judge in Wisconsin would convict him.  Yet a huge outcry has raised up against Rice, and he is being disciplined by the NFL.

No, it is NOT okay for a woman to abuse a man.  But that does NOT mean a man should strike back.  He could kill her!

The way to deal with an abusive wife is to get out.  Sneak out while she’s asleep, if you have to.  Get help.  DON’T strike back.  That’s a quick route to a jail cell.

For men to actually defend Rice for what he did, sounds like any man defending his actions after he has abused his wife, and trying to make himself the victim.

I do NOT support abusers who pretend to be the victim.  I support true victims of domestic violence.

My husband and I would’ve been there for Richard if he ever tried to leave his wife and take his children away from her many abuses.  I would’ve even been a character witness in court if he needed it.

But instead, he kept saying he loved her and would keep trying.  Meanwhile, I kept witnessing and hearing about her abuses, while he kept making excuses for her.  It was Battered Spouse Syndrome, or Stockholm Syndrome, playing in front of my eyes.  Tracy disgusted and sickened me with her many abuses, which she kept defending.  I feared one day it would turn into worse.  And I felt helpless to do anything about it.  I am certainly no apologist for women who abuse men.

I wonder what else has gone on there that I don’t know about.  You hear that what you’re told about abuse is just the tip of the iceberg.  I wonder how long it’ll be before I hear that one of them has been charged with domestic abuse against the other.

Now Palmer is defending Rice.  It’s the same thing.  I’m not going to victim-blame her for staying with him and defending him, but rather wonder what drives someone to stay with and defend her abuser.  Knowing the answer would help us concerned bystanders, know how to help.

 

 

Featured post

Phil rapes me anally–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–July 1994, Part 2

[And Richard, you made fun of Todd and tried to make me feel like a prude, when I've been traumatized by being forced and coerced into oral sex.  For some of us, it makes us sick to our stomachs, along with any and every webpage, forum post, or day-to-day comment in conversation, that women must do this to make guys happy (I've seen a few of these), or that anybody should or must do this, or that if you don't like it then it's not being done right (what you said).]

Trigger Warning: Rape Described

Phil kept wanting to do my backside.  I didn’t want him to.  I let him once or twice, but it was too painful–like my horrible first time all over again.  He had never heard of lubrication or the need to wear a condom, but was obsessed with anal sex.

I didn’t (still don’t) understand how anyone would like it, but Phil’s last girlfriend (number six) said it was the most pleasurable way for a woman.  (Say WHAT?)  But it was not–it was some of the most excruciating pain–so she must’ve been a masochist.

I hated to hear Phil whisper in the middle of sex, “Please–give me your backside!”  No means no!

But one day, Phil said if I didn’t let him do that, he wouldn’t be able to have sex with me in any other way for several weeks: He wouldn’t be able to get excited enough.  He didn’t understand, but that hurt me emotionally just as bad as anal sex hurt me physically.  I still didn’t want to do it anally, despite what he said.  He was using emotional and sexual manipulation to get me to do this horrible, painful thing.

He knew it hurt me, but thought it was like vaginal, and would only hurt the first few times.  But the anus doesn’t have a hymen, and is not meant to be used that way.  Also, the pain was a gift that kept on giving: I felt it afterwards, and bowel movements also hurt.  It was even worse than getting a rectal exam from a doctor.  At least a doctor knows how to do his job safely.

The next morning, I took my temperature and recorded it, but then started crying, wanting to throw the notebook aside.  What was the use of watching my cycle if we weren’t going to have sex for a few weeks?  I cried at least once more that day.  I told Phil about it, probably that night, and he said, “Is it really that important to you?”–like he was surprised.

But why wouldn’t it be?  I had my own desires, for normal sex and not some aberration, but these were not being recognized, just constant pressure for something bizarre and painful.  He said maybe anal is the “natural” way in some cultures, but I really doubt that.  I had to explain to him that the Clan of the Cave Bear’s “back entry” scenes didn’t involve anal sex, but rather an animalistic version of vaginal sex.

Once, before our marriage, he said he could go without sex if I didn’t want it.  If he could abstain from sex in general, couldn’t he abstain from anal sex if I didn’t want it?

After I told him how I felt and we talked about it, everything seemed back to normal.

But one night, what a horror!  In the middle of things he said, “Give me your backside.”

I kept saying, “No, not that way!” but he kept pressuring.

Before we finished, while still on top of me, he withdrew and moved down to my anus, not actually in but trying to get in.  I pleaded with him to move.  I clearly said no, and I also struggled, trying to push him away.  But he didn’t listen and didn’t move, and he ejaculated like that.  It got all over, and I got mad at him for not respecting my wishes.

At one point, as he sat hunched over on the side of the bed in the darkness, I said that rape could be grounds for divorce.

He said in a trembling, petulant, upset voice, “So are you going to divorce me now?”

I said no, but our reconciliation was probably painful.  It felt like a rape.  I still think of it as one.  He did to me sexually what I didn’t want him to do, despite my pleas.  The trouble is, in a situation like this, how would you even prove it in court?

At least, that’s how I thought at the time.  Current Indiana law would indeed consider it Criminal Deviate Conduct, Class B Felony.

However, it’s been almost 20 years and laws on all sorts of things have changed since then; I don’t know if this law was on the books back then:

  • Criminal Deviate Conduct, Class B felony: knowingly or intentionally causing another person to perform or submit to deviate sexual conduct* when:(1) the other person is compelled by force or imminent threat of force; …

* Deviate sexual conduct, according to IC 35-41-1-9, is any act involving “(1) a sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; …”

[Update 9/17/14: The laws were changed just since I posted this in December 2013, thanks to the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  Now it is indeed called "rape," rather than "criminal deviate conduct," and the law reads,

"Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a person who knowingly or intentionally has sexual intercourse with another person or knowingly or intentionally causes another person to perform or submit to other sexual conduct (an act involving a sex organ of one (1) person and the mouth or anus of another person) when the other person is compelled by force or imminent threat of force; commits rape, a Level 3 felony."]

As you can see, this also applies to unwanted oral sex.  This was another point of contention: It was gross, no matter who did it to whom.  I didn’t want him to kiss me afterwards, but he would whine that none of his other girlfriends said that.

I didn’t want to do it to him, didn’t want to put anything like that in my mouth, did not like the taste, would not do it long enough to get him to ejaculate, because it was absolutely disgusting.  But he kept trying to get me to do it.  (His “subconscious” tried to ease me into it.  More on that later.)  But I got no pleasure from it, was grossed out by the whole thing.

I may have been traumatized by this and the constant coercion: When the cafeteria served okra that fall, I couldn’t eat it, because it was slimy and reminded me of oral sex.  Ever since then, I have never engaged in this disgusting practice again, and have been blessed with a husband who also finds it gross and wants nothing to do with it.

Late summer, during sex, Phil sometimes tried to turn me over to do my backside–with a petulant, angry, stern look on his face, like he wanted to control me and I’d better do what he wanted or else.  I would refuse and resist his hands, and push myself back down.

But what really got me was that he’d pick a fight with me practically every time right after we’d made love.  This is the time to bask in the glow, not pick at the person you’ve just been sexually intimate with!  I would lie there naked and vulnerable, all satisfied and happy, and he would yell at me for one thing or another.  It really, really hurt.  Instead of being most satisfied and happy with me and our marriage, my “loving” husband would turn on me.  Yet another trauma.

I’ll jump on ahead to September to include another incident of sexual coercion.  In September, he broke off the marriage and spent a couple of weeks psychologically abusing me.  Then he came back to me.  I thought he wanted to be married again, but he just wanted sex and a submissive puppet.  By now, my will was broken, and I was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.  That meant even oral sex:

Soon, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants.  He got a strange, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not.  I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

 

Featured post

Trying to Explain the Wreck of My Faith to a Worried Husband

There is one very frustrating thing which made me glad, in the “old days,” to have Richard to talk to: Richard understood spiritual searching and questioning, while my husband seems to see every question or exploration I make into theological issues, as the sign of the End of My Faith.

For example, the questions I had about such things as Hell, who goes there, is it eternal, all led me to Orthodoxy–but along the way, he seemed to think my questions would lead me to atheism.

I held certain theological positions based on my Nazarene upbringing, which got him asking how any Christian could believe that way.  Those positions, by the way, also led me to Orthodoxy, because the search I started to show him I was not a heretic, led me to discover that many of the things my dad had taught me, were very similar to Orthodox beliefs.  (This is all related to the Harrowing of Hell and the meaning of Old Testament sacrifices, could Old Testament pagans be saved, that sort of thing.)

Ever since at least as far back as 2005, I’ve had occasional doubts that the supernatural and God even exist.  We have all sorts of evidence, yes, but where is the proof that cannot be explained away as hallucination, brain malfunction, lack of sleep/food, or other natural causes?

Then I found “The River of Fire” by Alexandre Kalomiros, and that doubt vanished for quite some time, as I finally found the pearl of great price, the evidence that God was not a stern judge, and that Hell was not filled to the brim with good people who happened to be Buddhists or Muslims instead of Christians.

No, I can’t call a sweet, pious, loving Muslim woman, truly evil and depraved just because she happens to believe in Mohammed instead of Christ.  In Orthodoxy, I found prayers being answered as I prayed during Divine Liturgies and asked for the prayers of the Theotokos and saints alongside my own.  The doubts did resurface at times; I remember asking Richard about these questions during this time.

But friends I’d made over the years had drifted away, as they tend to when you change churches, or change jobs.  In one situation, I kept inviting to parties a friend with whom my other friends had problems.  My main group of college friends and I were still close via e-mail, but we were scattered around the state, too far to see each other often.

My husband and I would try to make new friends, but it just wouldn’t work out.  He no longer did stuff in the SCA, because he kept having arguments with people, and our son was a toddler, making it more difficult to do much in the SCA.

As for another group of friends, he had a falling-out with one, the husband stopped coming to the gaming group as well, and the other couple had work schedules which did not work with ours.

So I was desperately lonely.  I was starting to get to know people at my new church, but I’m shy and introverted, so it is always a struggle, and I was alone because my husband did not want to be Orthodox.

During Divine Liturgy one day, I prayed for a friend.  It was in my head, not something that Satan could detect, because he can’t read minds the way God can.  So it seemed a safe prayer that only God could answer.

A few months later, God seemed to provide this friend, as Richard moved his whole family to my city.

Richard and I had been friends for a couple of years, meeting on an Internet forum and also talking on the phone, so that I trusted him, believed in him, thought we had connected on a spiritual level.  He had become my spiritual mentor, the one who led me to Orthodoxy and helped me every step of the way with my questions, who explained various parts of the faith to me.  He was the one to whom I spilled all the private details when my dad left my mom for a short time.  I didn’t even tell my college friends what I told him.

And now he was moving to my city.  A friend again at last!  An answer to prayer!  And for quite some time, it seemed that God had predestined us to be friends, that we were meant to help each other, bless each other.

…Which is why my faith has been so sorely devastated since Richard turned his back on me and betrayed me just two and a half years later.

More and more evidence keeps coming out that Richard was not at all what he claimed to be.  That he hasn’t reformed from his young and wild “evil” days as much as he claimed.

That he was keeping things from me,  deceiving me.

That he would convince me his liberties were all platonic, but I would be treated otherwise for believing and trusting him.

That he was a violent person, not just past violence which he claimed to be defeating with the tools of Orthodoxy, but was still violent and dangerous.

That he complained that his wife abused him and the children, when he himself turned out to be an abuser, beating one child mercilessly when she was little, then choking her to unconsciousness when she was 9.

That he was using me for my generosity.

He threatened my husband.  He turned on me.  He threatened me and has been stalking me online for months, when he knew very well I wanted him to go away and leave me in peace.

His cruelty has been unbelievable.  I never would have expected this from him.

How could God answer my prayer with a curse?  If, indeed, there is a God?  I suppose a deep question which I barely dare to admit even to myself is, not just how could Richard betray me, but How could God betray me?

This wasn’t the only thing that brought it back up, however.  On June 9, 2009, I watched the movie The Seventh Seal; it explored the same feelings I had about death, that we can’t really be sure what will happen, that we are afraid of the void, of going into emptiness.  I e-mailed Richard about this, since I could safely talk to him about these fears.  I know from this e-mail that those feelings had been stirring again in me already in 2009.

But the true test of faith did not come until Richard’s betrayal more than a year later.  Then everything just fell apart.  Then I no longer knew what to believe.  The first time I wrote about this was Fighting the Darkness.

My husband and I have discussed this before.  I try to put his mind at ease, try to explain that in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, this is called the Long Dark Night of the Soul.  I try to explain that saints have gone through this, that Mother Theresa suffered from it for 50 years, that it’s actually considered a mark of mature faith to go through this and yet keep at the faith rather than just chucking it all and becoming an atheist.

But he keeps bringing it up again and again.  He just doesn’t understand the constant questioning of an intellectual, that not only can I not help the constant questioning and analyzing my brain does of everything, but that I don’t want to.

If I were to lose all these constant questions and thoughts and the drive to research, I would lose what makes me creative, what makes me comfortable with my own company, what leads me to write and draw and lose myself listening to music.  I would feel lonely without my thoughts.

But he thinks I over-think.  He thinks I should be like him and just ask a question for a few minutes, resolve it and not think about it anymore.

But I don’t want to be like that.  It seems that if I became that way, I would lose my drive for life.  What would keep me going if not those endless questions and searches which keep me looking for answers?  Just day-to-day drudgery of housework, exercise and getting my son to school?

Yesterday, my husband became very concerned yet again, wondering how I could be so comfortable with questions and doubts in my head that never go away completely.  But this is what I live with.

Without those questions, I still would be a fundamentalist Nazarene who believes that dancing, alcohol, and going to movies is sinful, who believes that Catholics are not Christians and doomed to Hell, and various other beliefs which I have long since examined, found wanting, and replaced with Orthodoxy.

It’s kind of funny that he talks as if I have any sort of control over this.  I don’t.  God made me with a brain that always questions and thinks and reads and contemplates.  Even in elementary school, teachers noted it.  And these thoughts have been with me since at least 2005, have been with mankind forever.  I also see them in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, a work which my fellow Orthodox converts online love to talk about.

He wonders how I can just accept this if it leads to losing my faith?  But I can’t be scolded or argued into reassurance or an ending of questions.  That would just be denial.

It’s not my choice–It just is!  I can no more stop the questions than you can stop the tide from coming in.

And no, it has not led to loss of faith or atheism.  It has, rather, led to a period of spiritual blackness, where I hold onto the Church, hoping to one day be led back into the light of certainty, hoping that there really is an afterlife and I won’t just blip out of existence after death.

I don’t want to end.  I want to see what comes next.  I want to go to Heaven and find that Richard wants to make peace with me there.  I want to see if mankind ever goes past the moon.

I want to know the truth about religion, rather than just dying and knowing nothing, not even that religion is false–because if religion is false and there is nothing beyond the grave, none of us will ever know the truth, because when we find it, we’ll be dead.

And the simple fact of the matter is: If in any way Hubby can explain to me how God can answer my desperate prayer for friendship with a curse, giving me a couple of narcissistic sociopaths who destroyed my faith in humanity and God, and still exist, still be a loving God–then sure, I can stop doubting….

 

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How Extrovert Misunderstanding Turns Into Abuse–And Why Introverts/Extroverts Need to UNDERSTAND Each Other

A scolding from my husband which to me was completely out of the blue, groundless and mind-boggling, and which to him came from a definite reason, has illustrated the difference between an abuser and a normal, nonabusive person.  The actual cause of the scolding was not anything I actually did, but springs from the fact that he is (apparently) an extrovert, and I am an introvert.

He did not understand that my brain works differently, that I must think before I speak, that I must take a moment to comprehend what I’m being told, that it’s impossible for me to respond and make decisions instantly, that to me saying things like “uh-huh” and “okay” distract me from listening.

It reminded me of my German teacher scolding me like this in college–and that, since I never could please her no matter what I did, I dropped my German minor.  Old frustrations sprang up and angered me, because I had no clue what this was even about, and I get angry when people get angry at me when I’ve done nothing wrong, was minding my own business, or whatever.  While he felt he had a cause to be angry.

But talking about it led to understanding.  I told him how the introverted brain works and how it differs from extroverted brains, that scientists have proven this.  (For more information, I have several posts on this subject, complete with links.)  He realized he was expecting things from me which are foreign to an introvert.  He stopped being angry with me, I stopped being angry with him, and we went forward hoping to understand and make allowances for each other in future.

(Introversion is not shyness.  And extroversion is not being outgoing.  You can be a shy extrovert or an outgoing introvert.  My quiet nature has nothing to do with being shy; I can be just as quiet among people I know well, as I am with strangers.  For more information, just Google it, or see my many other posts on this subject.)

As I linked in this post, another abuse blogger, Paula, has written Introverts and Emotional Vampires–A Toxic Mix.  She, an introvert who dated a sociopath, shows how sociopaths, narcissists, and the like can really screw with introverts.

As noted in the comments by Margie, extroverts easily misunderstand introverts.  But as Paula noted, that does not make extroverts into emotional vampires.  Her husband is an extrovert, but he allows her to be herself, and they complement each other.

Extroverts and introverts can try to understand each other, learn from each other and move on from those misunderstandings and hurt feelings.  Especially now that psychologists and scientists are giving us proof that our brains do indeed work differently in social situations, and that it’s unreasonable to expect us to be able to change that.

Instead, it’s best to accept each other as we are, and recognize each other’s limitations.  This is how extroverts and introverts can be friends, family members, spouses, and still be happy with each other.

But with emotional vampires, it’s not about understanding each other.  No, what the introvert does is just “wrong” and has to change to suit the vampire.  And the more the introvert is unable to change, the more offended the vampire gets, the more everything the introvert does becomes an “insult,” and the more the vampire sucks the soul of the introvert:

He could never “get” that exercising and decompressing before we got together each evening had a direct impact on my energy level and mood. I tried to explain how exercising was a natural anti-depressant. (I thought that would be something he would embrace since he hated that I took Cymbalta at the time.)

But, like most things that defined who I was as a person, I was forced to give up this practice. It was him or the gym. Because I thought choosing my needs over him was a heartless and selfish thing to do, I chose him. In choosing him, I didn’t realize at the time that I was also sacrificing me. (Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? Thank you, “CoDependent No More“!)

I also enjoyed reading and writing, two more activities that I was accused of choosing above him because I “must not have enjoyed our time together or loved him enough.”

As a result of not being able to do the things that were essential for the health of my introverted core, I quickly lost myself. If I tried to retreat to a quiet room away from the boy, he’d follow me and demand that I talk to him. I’d try, but I had no energy to fight against his crazy-making arguments. I had no defense against all of his accusations. I relinquished all control and all boundaries to him. I was numb to it all.

This is what Tracy and Richard did to me.  My husband and I both tried and tried to explain to them, till we were blue in the face, how my brain works and that it’s not about snubbing anyone.  That I converse best one-on-one.  That I am an introvert.  That I’m not getting her cues to start conversations.  That I’m naturally quiet, and that I need to feel “safe,” not like I’m going to get jumped on for social mistakes.  But it didn’t do one bit of good.  No, I had to become extroverted or Tracy would never accept me as I was, and would treat me like I was trying to get into her husband’s pants.

My other friends just aren’t like this.  Over time, they just realize I’m quiet, and let me be.  Maybe at first they don’t get it, and make suggestions or criticisms which don’t work for me.  (“Talk to people!”  Seriously?)  But they don’t scold me, don’t punish me by withholding what I want most, don’t yell and scream and jump on me or treat me like an enemy.

As Margie wrote after reading Paula’s post about introverts,

We all have something to learn from one another, and all experiences are for our growth, if we are paying attention. It is all to grow our hearts in awareness and compassion–for ourself and for others. We can all get better at this, with time, and indeed, I believe that is what we are “here to do.”

Thank you, Paula, and others, for opening up an important conversation on a very tough topic, which affects probably most of us, one way or another. We all come from families, and we all have friends and significant others. Let’s keep talking, and let’s learn to accept differences and love in better, healthier ways!

And that is the difference between your typical extroverted friend/family member and an emotional vampire.  Though extroverts do need to realize how easy it is for the majority–in this case, in this part of the world, extroverts–to bully the minority.

Once, Richard said, “I’m not responsible for your emotions” because I was upset at something inconsiderate and/or hurtful that he had done:

8. “You are ‘choosing’ to feel bad about the upsetting thing I did or said.”
This is highly invalidating. The person who says this is not making any effort to empathize, is refusing to take responsibility for the impact of their behavior on others, and is trying to blame the person they have hurt.

Feelings aren’t even processed in the same area of the brain as thoughts. If someone threatens you, you will feel fear. You’re not “choosing” fear; fear is an immediate, natural and healthy response to being in a threatening situation. If someone you love dies, you will feel sad. You are not “choosing” to feel sad about their death. Sadness is a normal, healthy response to the loss of someone. If your sibling, partner or other person you are close to says something insensitive or cruel, you will feel hurt. You’re not “choosing” to feel hurt; it is a natural and healthy response to unkindness.

Telling someone who feels hurt that they have “chosen” to feel hurt is generally a way of avoiding responsibility by making the hurt person retreat in shame that they have done “wrong”. They’re supposed to “choose” properly by letting the person who hurt them off the hook, and instead, focusing on their own “bad choices”.

I had hoped that, when I explained how my brain worked, Richard and Tracy would understand, and realize they had completely misjudged me and treated me far too harshly for not behaving “extrovertly.”  But no, the bullying continued–and I can call it bullying because I did try to explain many times, but they rejected it as an “excuse.”

They did not even try to understand me, while I did try to understand them.  Instead, Tracy chose to consider my introverted behavior “snubbing,” and say nothing when I (supposedly; I think they were making it up to gaslight me) did something she didn’t like–while passive-aggressively punishing me, while Richard did not inform me whenever I was supposedly “snubbing” her–until far too much time had passed to even remember what had happened.

My frustration over the years was immeasurable and caused me many tears, until finally her abuse became too much to bear, she demonstrated unwillingness to work with me or hear my side, so my husband and I ended the “friendship.”  This is why I poured my feelings into these blogs: because I wanted someone to read and say, Hey, I get it!  If they didn’t, maybe other introverts, and also NLDers and Aspies, would read and understand.

I also hoped that if Richard or Tracy ever found these blogs, they would read and finally understand what I had tried so hard to tell them: 1) That I am an introvert and this is how my brain works; it is not a “snub.”  2) That their abusive behaviors, to me and to others, caused a wall between us that could never be broken down until they acknowledged and changed them.

But no, they still dismissed everything I said as the ravings of a madwoman, laughed at me, and began threatening me with legal action.  Thus proving that they have, and have always had, zero interest in understanding me, cutting me slack, or forgiving social missteps, things which true friends would do for you, things which all my other friends do, as I do for them.

And that is the difference between your typical extroverted friend/family member and an emotional vampire.  That’s how you can tell if you should keep trying with a difficult person.

Come to think of it, Shawn was probably an emotional vampire as well.  I know he had diagnosed mental illness.  He, too, accused me of all sorts of unfair, untrue things which shocked my friends, and baffled me.  I tried to be kind and sweet to him, did what he wanted me to do, to try to please him, but he accused me of all sorts of horrible things.

He even got angry with me for not responding to questions immediately, when this is the nature of an introvert, who has to think before speaking.  If we do like extroverts do and just open our mouths to see what comes out, it’ll be nothing but gibberish, babytalk: goo-goo-ga-ga-ba-ba.  This is why extroverts call us “quiet.”

Shawn, Phil’s friend Dirk, a guy I barely knew, and the Richard/Tracy conglomerate all criticized me for being myself.  You always hear that you’re supposed to “be yourself.”  I was being myself, but these people all told me that myself was not good enough, that I needed to change.

And when I think about what they said, they basically wanted me to stop being an introvert, and start being an extrovert.  Which psychologists and scientists can all tell us is impossible, that we are born this way,  that it’s not about being shy or not shy but about how our brains process situations, that it’s as much a part of our identities as gender or race.

The guy I barely knew, said I wasn’t “lively” enough.  Dirk said I’d end up an old maid, and asked, didn’t I want to go out my senior year with a bang?  (Uh, no.)

Shawn constantly criticized every little thing about me, things which I now see were directly connected to introversion or to NLD/Asperger’s, but back then I did not know about these things, could not explain why I acted as I did, or why others found it so different.  Richard/Tracy I’ve already explained.

While I kept wondering, “Everybody else is told to just ‘be yourself,’ but I keep being told be somebody else.  Why is myself not good enough?  Why can’t people just accept me as I am?”

For Shawn, I had to be my outgoing friend Catherine.  For Dirk, I had to be the life of the party.  For Richard/Tracy, I had to turn into their other, extroverted friends.  And when I wasn’t like this because that simply is not me, I was rejected and abused.

Just imagine what it’s like to be someone like me: You’re just doing things normally, minding your own business, or whatever, and over and over again people yell at, criticize, get angry at, fly off the handle at, or reject you, and you have no idea why.  This happens all your life, from birth through adulthood.

Whether it’s from introversion in an extroverted Western society, or NLD, or Asperger’s, or whatever.  Because you are gentle, kind and trusting, combined with being socially “different” from the mainstream, you are well-acquainted with the bullies, abusers, sociopaths and personality-disordered of the world, because you are often their target.

It doesn’t help that whenever you try to be “normal”–such as wearing fashionable clothes–you’re still pointed at and laughed at, or get funny looks, as if you can’t even do “fashionable” correctly.  Or you try to call up friends like other people do, and they act like you’re doing something odd.

If you weren’t shy to begin with, this teaches you to be shy, to withdraw from a world full of people you don’t understand, because they cause you pain and you can’t tell when they’ll go off on you next.  When people tell you not to be shy, this goes against how you’ve been trained all your life, because you keep getting burned by people, and can’t tell who will do it next.

You prefer the company of animals, call them your best friends: You just pet them, feed them, give them a cuddle, and they love you as you are.  Imagine what this is like, and be gentler with us.

I knew, from these past experiences and various encounters with mean girls/women throughout my life, that Tracy was the kind of person who is toxic to a quiet, retiring, socially awkward person like me.  But I was forced to be friends with her, to abandon myself, my feelings, my values, and change my very self, to please her.

I got the strong impression that it was do things as Tracy wants, or else, no meeting halfway with my needs–and I bristled at that.  My strong will resists control and force of any kind.  The results of this forced friendship, were disastrous.  If I had been allowed to follow my own inclinations, this never would have happened.

Lest anyone think I’m just a disgruntled introvert, most introverts in Western society probably feel just the same way I do.  I find plenty of articles on introversion which refer to us as misunderstood, maligned, and the like, showing that my frustration with extroverts is normal and common:

When psychologists Catherine Caldwell-Harris and Ayse Ayçiçegi compared U.S. and Turkish samples, they found that having “an orientation inconsistent with societal values” is a risk factor for poor mental health. The findings support what the researchers call the personality-culture clash hypothesis: “Psychological adjustment depends on the degree of match between personality and the values of surrounding society.”

To the extent that introverts feel the need to explain, apologize, or feel guilty about what works best for them, they feel alienated not only from society but from themselves.

Introverts, those quiet creatures that walk among you, are not as mild-mannered as made out to be. They seethe and even will lash out at those who encroach upon or malign their personal comfort zones. Here are a few emotional buttons to avoid with your introverted companions….–Laurie Helgoe, PhD, Revenge of the Introverts

Do check out the list Helgoe gives in “Revenge of the Introverts.”  My pet peeves with extroverts are there:

“Surprise, we’ve decided to bring the family and stay with you for the weekend.”

Don’t demand immediate feedback from an introvert. “Extraverts think we have answers but just aren’t giving them,” Laney says. “They don’t understand we need time to formulate them” and often won’t talk until a thought is suitably polished.

Above all, “we hate people telling us how we can be more extraverted, as if that’s the desired state,” says Beth Buelow, a life and leadership coach for introverts.

 

 

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Working on Healing from Richard and Tracy’s Damage…Day by Day, Crawling Upwards

It’s an uphill climb, but it’s getting there.  Occasionally, I feel sort of happy.  This was one of those days.

I spent part of the afternoon reading The Brothers Karamazov, the first 100 pages of which are so wonderful I want to savor every word.  The rich characterizations, the humor of the narrator, the character Alyoshev (Alexey)–whom I identify with….The father, Fyodor Karamazov, is a narcissistic sociopath…..

I saw the movie (with William Shatner as Alexey) a while back, but I don’t believe they went into the philosophical/religious parts of the story.  I recorded it recently so I can watch it again after reading.  The brothers and the people who visit the starets (elder), Father Zossima, have the same questions and concerns I do–the same overriding question: How can we prove immortality does or does not exist?  And the scenes from Russian Orthodoxy are very appealing to this convert….

The best part was knowing that yes, I was reading at home, but I could have easily been visiting friends.  My husband went to run his steampunk game, and I could’ve gone to visit the wife of the house, but neither of us were feeling well.  Hubby and I saw The Hobbit with her husband and stepson, and the couple has now invited us to a New Year’s Eve party.  We have other friends as well, old friends, though scattered in other counties, making it harder to see them often, but they are there.

Hubby just got me the latest Birthday Massacre CD for Christmas.  I opened it up on the drive to visit family for Christmas, looked through the liner notes, and said, “Oh, this time they’re dressed like axe murderers.”  (In earlier albums, it’s more of an emo/goth look.)  Hubby said, “And how do you know they’re dressed like axe murderers?”  I said, “One’s holding an axe and covered in blood.”  (See picture here.)  He liked that so much he posted it on Facebook.  My favorite song so far: the first, about a drowned girl….

The trouble is, this new album sounds so much like the “Walking With Strangers” album that a certain song, #8, “Remember Me,” keeps going through my head.  It bugs me, not out of dislike–that’s my favorite song from that album, and addicting–but because the whole album reminds me of Richard.  I got it when he lived with us on his own, and I played it over and over– So it reminds me of happy times, the “honeymoon period” of our friendship, when all was right with him and I thought our friendship would last forever, two peas in a pod, bonded in deep, abiding friendship, a platonic mutual admiration society, Frodo to my Sam.

Even while we were still friends, I often had trouble listening to that album because it reminded me of that time, of happiness which had later been tainted by Tracy’s abuses and bullying and Richard’s toleration of it.  Ever since the friendship breakup, I haven’t been able to listen to it at all.  Which really sucks because it’s one of those albums you can barely keep out of the CD player for weeks and weeks after you get it.  It’s just that awesome.  When one of the songs comes up on my random Windows Media Player playlist, or on Pandora, I skip past it.

The other day, in fact, it popped up on Pandora again.  I tried for a minute to listen to it, but it made me too sad.  But the song won’t leave me alone for long when the radio is off.  So I thought, Maybe my soul is trying to get me to listen to it again for some reason, maybe a kind of healing.  Just now I played it, thinking, Maybe if I play it once a day, I can handle it again…

I keep having to remind myself, I’m not lonely anymore: I have friends.  Sure I still miss Richard, but as time passes and he makes no move to repent to us, I grow firmer in my opinion that he was not at all what I once thought he was.  That he was indeed a narcissist using me for supply, a convincing con, not a true friend.  It’s disturbing to think that I could have been so deceived, but overwhelming evidence and proof of this, keeps staring me in the face.

And I remember how badly I was also deceived by my exes Peter and Phil, their systems of lies which did not begin to come to light until much later.  Of the complex web of lies Phil wove to keep me under his control, which you will see as I go further into my college memoirs, elaborate schemes which I believed until he finally confessed they were an act, little hints his friends began to give me after the breakup.  So I know my own gullibility, though I thought I had gotten more discerning over the years.

1. “I did nothing wrong. You’re just oversensitive.”

It’s not that there aren’t people in the world who are highly sensitive. It’s just that even if the person being spoken to were oversensitive, this comment is only going to make them feel much worse! It offers no help, and only rubs salt in the wound.

It is a critical statement of low empathy — there’s no effort to truly understand the other person’s feelings or to consider that maybe the speaker could possibly have done even one small thing a little more considerately to try helping matters.

In addition, it’s most often said by people who are not actually dealing with someone who’s “too sensitive”, but instead, someone who is actually expressing normal dismay about a valid concern.

More Here: http://lightshouse.org/lights-blog/top-ten-most-dysfunctional-things-people-say#ixzz2GnWw1ZBW

One thing that keeps this going in my head is false nostalgia, which is common among abuse victims: You start forgetting the bad, remembering the good, and thinking maybe it wasn’t all that bad and you were just overblowing it all.  You just don’t want to believe that you could be so deceived, that someone you loved so much is not what you thought they were.  This is one of the reasons abusers can reel a victim back in, so you have to watch out for it.  That’s one reason why keeping journals, letters, e-mails and the like, is crucial, so you can remember why you left.

Another thing is my natural desire to give people the benefit of the doubt, because I’ve been misunderstood and misjudged all my life due to introversion/NVLD/Asperger’s.  I don’t want to judge others wrongly.  But this natural desire, generally a good and honorable trait, is very dangerous when you’re dealing with an abuser/Cluster B personality disordered person/sociopath.  This is why it’s so important to recognize the traits of such people:

Let’s see: no professional was able to help the victims of Drew Peterson, Scott Peterson, Josh Powell, Michelle Michael and numerous other murderous sociopaths.

This blog isn’t about diagnosing someone to help the person with the disorder. It’s about helping potential and current and past victims stay away, get out, and NEVER go back. If we wait for a proper diagnosis, we’re all f*cked. I say, “F*ck the abuser. Assume the worst.”

Any experienced health professional will tell you that they even get fooled by these lying, cheating, and manipulative monsters.–Paula Carrasquillo

So I keep going back and forth in my mind, wondering if it could possibly be the way I remember, though my journals and e-mails and IRC conversations back it all up.  I have it all written down so I won’t forget.  My husband says that yes, going to my priest for help with the situation (as in Matthew 18:15-17, and as I described here and here) would be right, correct and absolutely necessary if they start going regularly to the same church as mine.  And that no, they can’t sue me for this, no matter how much they may threaten to do so.

A.2.The target of the narcissist or psychopath may be unaware that they are being exploited, and even when they do realize (there’s usually a moment of enlightenment as the person realizes that the criticisms and tactics of control, etc are invalid) – victims often cannot bring themselves to believe they are dealing with a disordered personality who lacks a conscience and does not share the same moral values as themselves.

Naivety is the great enemy. The target is bewildered, confused, frightened, angry – and after enlightenment, very angry.  http://neveraccept.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-do-ptsd-symptoms-resulting-from.html

My husband tried to set my mind to rest, saying, “I don’t think you’re wrong.  I believe you have [Richard and Tracy] both pegged correctly [as narcissists etc.].  For one thing, you ask Richard not to do something, and he does it.  I believe you scare him with all your records, and that’s why he keeps looking at your blog.”  (And just as he told me this, there was Richard on my blog again, checking out my re-blog of Paula’s post above.)

Everything I’ve seen, especially their behavior since finding my blog (typical abuser behavior to silence the victim), keeps proving that I’m correct, yet I keep doubting–but my husband does not.

I believe if I can stop doubting my own impressions and experiences and research and the cold, hard proof of the child abuse conviction, my mind will also be set to rest at last.  And then maybe I can set aside the crushing loneliness and depression, and get it into my head that I do have friends, good friends, sweet friends, caring friends.

Problems caused by bullying do not necessarily cease when the abuse stops. Recent research at the Universitiy of Stavanger (UiS) and Bergen’s Center for Crisis Psychology in Norway shows that victims may need long-term support.

This study of 963 children aged 14 and 15 in Norwegian schools found a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among bullied pupils. These signs were seen in roughly 33 per cent of respondents who said they had been victims of bullying.

– This is noteworthy, but nevertheless unsurprising, says psychologist Thormod Idsøe.
– Bullying is defined as long-term physical or mental violence by an individual or group. It’s directed at a person who’s not able to defend themselves at the relevant time. We know that such experiences can leave a mark on the victim.

…The study measured the extent of intrusive memories and avoidance behaviour among pupils. These are two of three defined PTSD symptoms. The third, physiological stress activation, was not covered.

High levels
Recent research on working life has found that 40-60 per cent of adult victims of bullying reveal high levels of these three defining signs. But few national or international investigations have been conducted on the relationship between being bullied and PTSD symptoms among schoolchildren.  Being bullied can cause trauma symptoms

On Tracy calling me (and one of her children) stupid, and saying I’m too stupid to understand:

6. “You’re not smart enough to do that/you’ll never amount to anything/you’re an idiot.”
This one needs no explanation. It’s just abusive, plain and simple. If this has been said to you, remember, it’s projection — people who say this have a tremendous fear that they themselves are the “stupid” one.

Everyone has something to offer. Everyone is good at something, and a comment like this is nothing but a reflection of the speaker’s own insecurities and fears.

Typically, abusive people will pick the moment of a mistake to utter this, but everyone makes mistakes, including the person saying it, and their comment means nothing about the listener. People are not their mistakes, and are not necessarily what other people say they are. 

9. “You wouldn’t understand”.
This kind of dismissiveness and condescension is seen in people who harbor the belief that they are superior and should ideally be the one in control, because of their supposed superiority. The arrogance of such a statement is more than rude and devaluing — it indicates that the person’s intention is to shut you out and shut you down so they can propagate the perception that they are “better” than you.

 

 

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Posted on Facebook 12/26/11: On Lost Friendship, God, Hell, and Repentance

(I posted this on my Facebook about Richard back in 2011.)

I understand now more than ever what it means for God to love us all, but turn away from the ones who hurt and destroy without repentance. Because they have done wrong and do not repent, He must turn away. But if only they will turn from hurting and destroying, and decide to do right, He will snatch them up in His loving embrace, even from the pits of Hell. I know how it feels to turn away from someone I love because I must. But if that person ever repented, I would take that person back to my fellowship in a heartbeat. Never think that God turns His face away out of hate; His eyes are full of tears.

 

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Why post abuse stories? (Was: Wondering if my blog stalkers will read about Phil now….)

The story of my abusive ex Phil is just about to begin in my College Memoir posts.  There is some more yet about Shawn, but the psychological abuse and sexual using by him has ended….

I knew Shawn had sorely used and abused me, but I had seen nothing yet.  Phil’s manipulations hit a whole new level with the lies he wove, even more lies than Peter told.

I know Peter lied about things like his opinions on smoking, making me believe we were meant for each other, saying he wanted to marry me, then later casting me aside and denying it, complaining to everyone about my “marriage talk.”

I can’t tell for sure if Peter really believed it when he told me he set up a mental link when he hypnotized me, and all the special psychic abilities his ninja training gave him.  He could have been fooling me, as Shawn thought, but he also could have believed it, being the sort of person who believes in such things.

But Phil deliberately fooled and manipulated me, taking advantage of my gullibility.  He took my interest in psychic and psychological subjects and–practically from the beginning–began elaborate ruses which climaxed in the summer of 1994, having made me believe that he acted out his dreams.  He told me we were married before God, kept reassuring me when I doubted, but when he lost interest and no longer needed my parents’ hospitality, he quickly discarded me and said we were never truly married.

I’m no psychologist, but he was probably a narcissist, maybe even a sociopath.  Phil is the reason I first got interested in researching abuse, in the 90s, because it took me many years to recover from all he had done.

The reason to post these stories: It’s a public service.  All these stories–of Peter, of Shawn, of Phil, of Richard and Tracy–are not just about expressing myself or venting, but about warning and validating others.

I’ve long since been freed of those abusive relationships, but others could still be going through one much like it.  Abuse victims need to know they’re not alone, and that this is not normal treatment, so they can escape it.

Abusers try to make you think the abuse is your fault.  Shawn would coerce and try to convince me to do what he wanted, tell me there was nothing wrong with it–then after I did it, blame me for giving in, make me feel dirty and cheap, talk like I was seducing him.

Phil kept blaming me for his abuse, telling me I had to have my own way, always had to be right–because I did not want him to sodomize me.

Tracy abused and bullied me and tried to make me believe it was all my fault, that she had every right to do it and I had no right to complain.  Richard went along with it.

Not only that, but he even called me “ridiculous” for being psychologically affected when a couple of his friends began sexually harassing me online.  Their harassment had triggered feelings I had long since forgotten, brought them back up, alive, so that a year later I was still being triggered.  I had been sexually harassed by guys in high school, and sexually abused by Phil–and now Richard was calling me ridiculous for equating those incidents with what his friends said and did to me, for remembering those incidents because of what his friends did, and begging him to stop mentioning those guys around me so it would stop triggering me!

Abuse victims need help to get out of the gaslighting fog.

Reading stories and articles like the ones I post, and discovering the names for what I went through–emotional abuse, abuse by proxy, engineering impossible situations, sexual abuse, and the like–helped me realize it wasn’t me.

I used to say Phil was “borderline abusive,” because I thought abuse was physical–though I did write in a letter to him that he abused his authority as a husband.  But reading in women’s magazines in the mid-90s about emotional and verbal abuse, is when I realized he truly was abusive.  I now understood why it spooked me one day in 1995 or 1996 to think I heard his voice at my workplace, even though he had never hit me.  (I believe I actually heard the boss’ son.)

My husband’s observations on Phil’s behavior, helped me see that no, it wasn’t just me, he truly had mistreated me.  My husband is the first one who told me that even though Phil did not hit or beat me, he did things that could qualify as physical or sexual abuse (forcing me into disgusting things I did not want to do).

When you think about it, I was “rescued” by Phil himself: He decided I was not submissive enough, that I was the problem, and left.  But for a long time, I felt that his leaving was the ultimate form of abuse.  Though my friends told me he was controlling and possessive, my eyes were not fully opened until after I stopped grieving the relationship, met my husband, and started doing research and writing about what happened.

In those days, the Internet existed but in a much smaller form, and we did not have computers capable of using it beyond e-mail.  I had access to the Net my senior year through my roommate Pearl’s computer and a modem, but it was limited to AOL.  That was 1994; I had no idea just what the Net was capable of.  The explosion of websites and blogs on abuse had not yet happened.  We didn’t have Google.  After leaving college, I did not have a computer capable of doing much on the Net.  All I had were occasional magazine articles to open my eyes.

But now, you can search the Web for information and stories about abuse.  You can immediately identify what you’re going through.  You can learn how to leave safely.  You don’t have to wait years until you happen upon an article, book or TV program defining what happened to you.

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Freaked out by spotting my blog stalker on the street just now

NOTE 9-15-14: This was posted because I wanted my stalkers’ antics to be on the public record.  I didn’t care that my stalkers would see it, that they did in fact read it.  What I cared about was that the rest of the world could know what these people were doing.

A little over an hour ago, around 1pm, I left my house for an errand which I won’t describe, for safety purposes.  As I walked up to an intersection, I saw a familiar-looking van with at least one familiar-looking child in it.  As they pulled up to the stop sign, I was close enough to see the oldest girl (the one who, according to the information in the newspaper report, was choked).  I recognized her; our eyes met.

Even though I was bundled up against the cold, I’m almost certain she recognized me, because she started twisting in her seat and crying out, the way she does when she sees Hubby or me.  I suppose I should have waved at her, but I was too stunned to think of it.

In any case, I’m quite sure the driver knew it was me, because of the little girl telling him/her.  And well, one of them will be reading this post, almost for sure, so they’ll confirm it.  I couldn’t tell for sure if it was Richard or Tracy in the driver’s seat, but thought it was Richard.  They drove off, turning down the street I was walking down.  I now knew for sure it was them because of the back/license plate.  Oh, look, now there are even more bumper stickers on the back.

So just think: If I’d left off putting down salt on the walkway before leaving home, I would’ve left the house a few seconds earlier, and made it to the intersection right as Richard drove up.  I would’ve had to watch to make sure he was waiting for me to cross….Then again, because I had to cross the street twice, since the sidewalk ends on that side of the street, and he was turning that way.  He would have seen me, for sure.  It would have been…..awkward, to say the least.

I was shaken up all during the following hour as I did my errand.  But hey, it happens on occasion.  It’s weird that it happens so often, because we’re not some dinky little town, we have some 50,000 people, they live a couple of miles away, those kids go to a different school, and there’s a more direct route from their house to the street we were heading to.  No, I do not go out at the same time every day.  But I could swear it’s been happening more often since they found my blog.

But what really creeped me out was about an hour or so later, on my way home, they passed me AGAIN.  There’s the back of the van with the political bumper stickers.  This was a different path than they took before, and leads right past my house.

Um…..

Probably just coincidence, but the timing was perfect–twice in the same day, just an hour apart.  I had to blog about it to get out the shakes and nerves.

This time I made a little wave–half-sarcastically, half-for the little girl if she saw me.  And half to let him know that yes, I know it’s you, and yes, it’s me.  Yes, I will be blogging about it.  There is a gesture I really wanted to make instead, but I’m too much of a lady for that.  And you can’t see it through a mitten.

Update 1:38am, 1/26: Blogging did help quite a bit.  I began to calm down shortly afterwards.  There’s just something so therapeutic about writing…..

I believe blogging and other means by which ordinary people get to speak their mind are in the process of revolutionizing our culture similarly to the way the printing press led to a change in medieval society.–Debra Baker

Blogs help people realize they aren’t the only one who feel this way. We can support one another. And that is what I see as the real Body of Christ, yes even on blogs, even when we have not met in person or only know each other by a pseudonym. Blogs are a powerful vehicle for processing abuse.–Julie Anne Smith

Update 8:40pm: As my old friend Shawn used to say, it’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you.  And these two have threatened me, as I documented here, and they still watch my blog constantly; I have detailed records proving it.  Even my mother told me, when this first started last spring, to keep an eye out for them while walking, to protect myself.  (Hypervigilance or hyperarousal is also a symptom of PTSD.)

I am also well aware of their vindictive nature, having witnessed Tracy’s revenge on Todd, and Tracy’s snarky and smearing revenge on me for telling my husband how she was abusing Richard, me and the children.

Having witnessed Richard’s revenge on Todd, and Richard actually calling me up one day in mid-2009 and telling me he was going to assault their apartment manager while she was in her office, for evicting them, do it so she’d never see who it was, “And I’ll make it look like I was never there.”

I got the impression that his past as a Mafia thug, which he had just described to me the day before, gave him the ability to do such a thing.  I got the impression that he would kill her.  Only his wife could finally talk him out of it.

Richard once physically threatened my husband for confronting Richard about his behavior toward me (e-mail documented here).

These are people who, after I made it very clear they were to stay away from me and not contact me, contacted me with still more of the sewer sludge that caused us to sever relations with them in the first place, because we don’t want to hear it anymore–and they added threats.

These are people who were well aware of how shaken and upset I felt whenever I saw them (having read it in my blogs), and that I did not want to see them anymore, and deliberately came to my church on purpose to upset me and force me to see them.

These are people who knew I blocked their static IP computer from my blog and website, so began using their dynamic IP cell phone to access them.

These are people who read my posts about fear and dread of seeing abusers again, who know I wish they would move away, and made snarks about that in the e-mail I documented here.

So even if the oddly increased number of times their vehicle happens to go by at just the right moment to pass me, is just coincidence–Their established behavior and boundary violations make it necessary to keep an eye out–and to document it all here on the Net, just in case.

Healing is work, the hardest you’ll ever do. It is not something that happens spontaneously as in the case of a scrape or bruise. It requires a great deal of conscious effort, research and help.

It is easy to become trapped in an identity of being his ex. It is HIS trap and his way of remaining in contact with you.

Imagine that your ex-pathological has implanted a device in your soul that feeds on your pain and fears. In essence that’s what they do. It’s a way of staying connected with you even if you never see or hear from him again.

The good news is that the device does have limitations and a life span. It malfunctions and becomes weaker every time we recognize that our pain and fear are his pleasure and reject them whole cloth.

I still trigger on occasion. Perhaps it’s a song on the radio, a smell, or something I see that reminds me of him. The difference is that now, after a great deal of hard work, I am able to recognize triggers for what they are, thereby disabling them from feeding what’s left of my own implant. In fact, I have developed the ability to recognize it almost immediately and have caught myself laughing out loud while thinking, “Oh, there you are again! I know what you are!”

Breaking contact with your ex-pathological means disabling his device. It’s an experience I hope all of you come to know.

I don’t think we ever totally get past what has happened to us, but I do believe we get to a place that our experiences take on a different light. One that feels more like a bad dream that has stuck with us for a long time. Who was that woman? Was she me? I believe that the woman I was with him was not me. Resurfacing is the final step toward living well.–Laura Kamienski

Grieving the loss of a relationship with a N has many layers. They are not the usual layers of grieving a healthy person. The problem is that some of the layers ARE the same as grieving a healthy person but then there are layers reserved only for the loss of a N relationship, which are not understood by the ‘civilian’ population and can ONLY be understood by those who have survived a significant relationship with a N….–Grieving the Narcissist, full post here in the left margin

At first I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. I was out of the horror that was the relationship and though he left me almost emotionally and monetarily bankrupt I was free of the lies, accusations, insults and comments. So why every night did I relive it all in my mind? Over and over again.

Then there was going to places we had been. I had chosen to move closer to my exN because I needed to move to a cheaper place but I also wanted to help out my partner as he kept complaining about how much the petrol cost to come see me as I did not have a car. The cost to come to him by train wasn’t cheap either but I never complained.

I moved to the same town he lived in and for the almost 2 years we were together we spent a lot of time there. After he [devalued and discarded] me I found it hard to walk into town. I would get nauseous and shake. I was constantly looking around thinking he would be there and I would have to see him. Once I was actually physically ill.  –Jewish Warrior Princess, PTSD

[UPDATE 8/17/13:] There has been no sign of them anywhere since they saw this post on January 29.  Before and after they found my blog, I would see them once in a while, on the street, at Greek Fest, or at church.  My husband would see them at the store.  Sometimes I saw their pictures in the newspaper, online or print.

After they found my blog, I could swear I was seeing them around more often: Last August, for example, they came to my church, then afterwards I saw them pass our car as we waited to leave a fast-food restaurant driveway.  Then another time that summer or fall, Tracy drove past me as I biked to an errand.

But since they saw this post, I haven’t seen them AT ALL.  Not at church.  Not at Greek Fest.  Not even my husband has seen them at the store.  I haven’t even seen them on the street!  Heck, I haven’t even seen pictures of them in the newspaper.

I know they’re still in town because I see them in my stats once in a while.  Did they get a new vehicle/license plate?  Or could they be doing this deliberately so as not to scare me anymore?  Or could it be related to a post (now removed) which they read on January 30, in which I posted part of an e-mail conversation which proved that either Richard and/or Tracy had lied to me about our sticking point, and falsely accused me?

 

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More Stuff From Crying Out for Justice Blog

A Cry For Justice looks to be a very interesting blog about how to deal with people who are being abused by church members.  It’s a brand-new blog which intends to be “Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst.”  Just in January I find:

You probably already know that Christians and pastors and churches (people like me, Jeff) readily start dumping what we are convinced is God’s Word to her.  Divorce is never permitted.  You need to submit to him.  You should forgive him if he is sorry.  And on and on.  In fact, what we need to do is (assuming we really know what we are talking about, which few of us really do) provide her with information, help, safety, and so on.  We Need to Stop Telling Abuse Victims What to Do

 

And that is how we need to handle abuse situations, because it is very, very common for the abuser to claim to be the victim – and his disguise can be pretty ingenious.  Many hostages are thrown in “jail” while the bad guys go free when it comes to how our churches are dealing with abuse in their midst.

It really is not that difficult to recognize an abuser.  Their mentality of power, control, entitlement and justification always betrays itself in their speech and you can hear it if you know what to listen for. How to Spot an Abuser Who Claims to be the Victim

The following is about the above quoted article and Learning the Language of Abuser.  If you read them first, you will understand what I mean.

I don’t know what Richard and Tracy told my priest when they spoke to him before I did three months ago.  But there are a few things I can tell you, regarding the points made in the above article about how to tell who the real abuser is, based on what they say:

I have been reticent to tell anyone the full details of what happened with them, except for my husband, who knows everything I’ve written about in my blogs.  My husband has been the only one I felt I could trust with everything.  Even when ranting on Facebook, I kept names out of it, and always felt like, Will anyone believe me or will they think I’m crazy?

I was afraid of being judged, having experienced this already, when opening up a little bit to a forum back in 2008 about things that had happened back then, and getting blasted instead of finding understanding.  I left that forum.

I was full of self-blame for the first year (2010-2011), simultaneously with feeling rage at the abuse.  I felt that I desperately needed to tell the full story, but trusted no one with it: not even my priest or a potential therapist.

I’d only open up a little at a time on Facebook, testing the waters among my old and new friends.  (My wall is set to private.)  Far more details were poured into letters to close friends, but even then I feared saying just how badly I had been deceived and manipulated by Richard.

So I began pouring it into my blogs and website, with fake names and a place to deposit all the anger and grief without worrying about what people will say.  Since I had no resources for therapy, my blog became my therapy.  I turned off comments, you see, made it impossible for anyone to contact me unless they knew who I was.

Of course I still worried about what people would think, and still do, but put the things up anyway, thinking that if they read the entire story, they won’t judge me for missteps along the way.

I think the article ignores the fact that many people, by the time they’re ready to truly open up about abuse, are very angry about the abuse.  Anger and rage is common in abuse victims.  We don’t all just sit back and take it, thinking we deserve it.  And sometimes our stories do seem unbelievable.  That doesn’t make us “fake” abuse victims.

I am concerned that the above article will make legitimate abuse victims seem like liars because they don’t have the right “victim mentality” of deserving what they get.  Anger and rage help legitimate victims realize they need to get help, get out.  And the last thing a victim needs, is to not be believed.

[Update 9/8/14: My concerns were addressed in this blog post, which was actually written in response to my comment on the original article:)  The author seeks to differentiate between legitimate, healthy anger of an abuse victim, and the narcissistic rage of an abuser pretending to be the victim.]

The charge that the abuse victim is guilty of gossip and slander against her abuser if she ever tells anyone what he is doing is very common, especially in a Christian environment.  I personally have had THIS wicked tactic played on me more than once by guilty, controlling, abusive men and women who desire to operate in secret.  I don’t play their secrecy games anymore.  I’m on to them!

In contrast however, announcing from the rooftops what the abuser is doing to his victims is not gossip or slander.  It is motivated by a desire for justice – a hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  It is the exposure of things done in darkness by the application of the light of Jesus Christ.  It is telling the truth where lies and deception have existed.  THIS IS NOT SIN!  It is right in every way!…

Therefore, to victims of abuse, I say TELL!  Tell someone.  BUT be wise and be careful in doing so in order that your safety is not compromised.  You are NOT guilty of gossip or slander or disrespect toward your abuser.  TELL about the awful things he has done to you.  As you do so, and as you read and learn more about the nature and tactics of abuse, you will be set free from his deceptive spell.  The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Secrecy

 

Christ truly changes us when He saves us. I mean, He really changes us so that though we are not perfect by any means, the fundamental nature of our being becomes one that loves God and loves others.  Have you been taught otherwise?  I was taught “otherwise” at a conservative Bible college for Pete’s sake!

When I faced up to this, I realized that a person who is an abuser simply cannot be a Christian.  It can’t be. He may look like it in many ways and at many times, but he is a fraud. I learned that good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people love to pretend to be good. Sheep don’t wear wolves’ clothing.

What is perhaps even more sobering is that this also means that many people in our churches who may not be classic abusers, nevertheless are not genuine Christians. Abuse victims in a church can really suffer at their hands too.  More Thoughts on Why an Abuser Cannot be a Christian

 

In several cases, the abuser, on his own initiative and usually at the start of a relationship with someone (say, they are new to a church for example), will “own up” to the fact that he once was an abusive man.  He will tell about how terrible he was to his wife, how he frequently raged at her, and so on.  He will do so right in front of his wife, and even to a group of people he is just getting to know.

And then comes the story of his “conversion.”  Suddenly he woke up to what he was doing.  He realized that it was wrong and that he needed to stop treating her that way.  His wife says nothing.

But the rest of the folks, well, they think it is just marvelous that a man can be such a fine Christian that he can humbly and opening admit his past sin.  What a great thing it is going to be to have these people in the church.  The Abuser’s Ploy of “Confessing” His Past Abuse

Richard did this.  He confessed to having abused his kids in the past, but I discovered–when he was charged with choking one of his children in 2010–that it was still going on.  How can a reformed person choke a child?  How can anyone just up and choke a child?  There must have been more going on than he admitted to.  He also told me other things about reformation which I now doubt.

This is why I have often told our church here that the pews of the Christian church are the most dangerous place in the world if anyone who sits in them, listening to Christ’s truth week after week, rejects it.

Yet this is precisely what the “Christian” abuser does! Right?  Many of you could give first hand accounts, and I have heard many of them, of how your abuser played the game in church.  How he deceived and even continues to deceive the church.  He is an apostate – having rejected what he knows to be the truth, but he remains in the church anyway.

What kind of mind does it take to do that and still be able to sleep at night?  It is the mind of the sociopath – the mind with no conscience.  In some way, this kind of person is especially wicked in God’s sight because he holds up Christ to open shame, just as the mockers did when Christ was crucified.  They mock him by their evil facade.

My point is this – the abuser who is pretending to be a Christian is the hardest and most treacherous of all abusers. The “Christian” Abuser

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Reblog: Pastors and Abuse: Confronting and Dealing With Abusers (All Parts Together)

 

Gathering this whole series together for the reader’s convenience:

Part 1

And that means abusers will take on the guise of being a Christian, very frequently of being an eminent Christian in a local church.  He may be a pastor or elder himself.  How can pastors effectively deal with these “hidden reefs” who creep in among us in the church?

First, and without doubt most importantly, pastors must take steps to correct their ignorance concerning the nature, mentality, tactics, and characteristics of this category of evil.  The persistent, nagging deficit that is plaguing our churches is the pervasive lack of understanding of abuse.

Great harm and injustice are being effected upon victims of abuse at the hands of the very church families that should be the chief protector of the widow, the orphan, and the weak.  Abusers are masters at using all kinds of deceptive means to gain allies to their side in their oppression of the victim and we have many documented case histories to support this conclusion.

Pastors become the ally of evil, all the while thinking they are standing for righteousness.  Abusers are embraced as brethren in Christ while their victims are falsely accused and rejected.  No true shepherd of Christ’s flock wants such travesty to continue.  He will be willing to take steps to familiarize himself with the psychology and methods of abuse.

Part 2

Pastors, like most other people, have a “default” reaction to abusers and their victims.  No pastor should think himself to be immune from this default setting.  If a pastor remains ignorant regarding abuse, he and his church will surely engage the appallingly common chain of events which regularly deals injustice and suffering to abuse victims who come to their church for help.

The same pattern will simultaneously enable and support the abuser in the torment of his victims.  The victim will not be believed when she tells her pastor about the abuse.  The seriousness of the abuse will be minimized by the pastor.  The pastor will take superficial steps to “fix” the problem, such steps serving only to make the situation worse and even endanger the life and safety of the victim.  And, in the end, it will be the victim who is driven from her church rather than the abuser.

This cycle of church abuse of abuse victims will engage unless pastors give themselves to arriving at a full understanding of the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse….

After taking diligent steps to familiarize himself with abuse (see part 1 of this series for suggested resources) the next thing a pastor must do — and in many ways perhaps the most important of all — is to believe the victim when she comes reporting the abuse.

This will sound unwise to the untrained ear.  After all, doesn’t every tale have two sides?  Shouldn’t the other half of this marriage be consulted before a judgment is made?

While that approach may be true in other kinds of conflicts, it is most certainly not true in the case of abuse.  Once a pastor educates himself about abuse, he will be able to identify common characteristics of abuse as the victim tells her story.

While abusers have quite an arsenal of tactics, that arsenal is really quite consistent.  Playing the victim, distorting history, instilling fear, utilizing a Jekyll-Hyde facade, sexual abuse, economic abuse, isolating the victim from family and friends are just a few of the weapons abusers typically use to shore up their reign.  A pastor can in fact become familiar with these tactics and learn to recognize them as a victim reports her plight.  These reports are worthy of our belief.

Abuse victims do not readily report their abuser, especially if the victim is a Christian and functioning within a church setting.  There is a huge amount of fear and trepidation on the part of such victims, and therefore pastors must realize that by the time the victim comes to him for help, she has resolved to take a very big and risky step.  Will anyone believe her?  What if her abuser finds out?

(One commenter notes that a church does have the legal right to ban a person from its premises, that if the church owns the building, it’s private property.)

Part 3

In summary, the pastor’s duty to the abuser is secondary to his duty to the victim.  Regarding the abuser, the pastor must 1) Be able to avoid being deceived by the abuser’s ploys, and 2) exclude the abuser from the congregation in order to protect the victim and the flock.  All of these actions will be costly.

Part 4

It would take an entire book to refute the errors of this booklet.  It is hard to imagine another such book I have read that more perfectly exemplifies all the things that are wrong in the evangelical church when it comes to dealing with abusers and abuse victims in its midst.  If any pastor desires to learn what NOT to say or do when an abuse victim comes to him, I think Priolo’s work would be the place to go.  Is that being to harsh on Mr. Priolo?  I think not. Because as is so typical of nouthetic counselors, may God have mercy on the abuse victim who goes to such a counselor, because that counselor certainly will show them none.

Part 5

Prevention is better than cure.  This applies to abuse within the church as well as to our physical health.  It is better for us to create an environment in our churches that is alien and hostile to evil.  A place where righteousness and truth reign to a degree that evil just has to leave because it is exposed.  The question is, why aren’t our churches such places?  And apparently it is not exaggerating to say that they are not because victims of abuse come with the same stories over and over about how their abuser was able to hide, was able to gain allies, was able to be enabled within a local church.  What has gone wrong?

(One commenter even discusses a behavioral contract given to her abusive husband.)

Part 6

When it comes to dealing with abusers, pastors must grow up and be wise!  We must be innocent of evil and yet as wise as serpents in regard to it.

Abusers are not like other sinners.  Oh yes, it is possible that we could come across a man or woman who, out of ignorance, is not treating their spouse well.  But such a person will be quickly and rather easily corrected through biblical rebuke and instruction.

Not so the abuser.  Abusers, remember, are people who have a fundamental mindset of entitlement to power and control. They are the very center of their universe and they deem themselves fully justified in using whatever means necessary against their victims to control those victims.  Such a person is often a full-blown sociopath.  He has no conscience and no ability to feel empathy for others.

If you approach such an individual in “love,” thinking that if you just paint them a clear enough picture of the harm they are doing to others that they will be heartbroken and repent, then you are going to fail.  They have no heart, you see, to be broken!  They are, in fact, evil….

Listen to these great words from Jan Silvious, author of Fool-Proofing Your Life:

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome with these instructions: Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:14-18, NASB)

Peace with everyone surely is the goal for us as believers. But it is not always possible. When you encounter a situation that has a one-sided peace, then living with the fallout can leave you exhausted and bewildered.

Over the years I have spent many hours “riding the ambulance” with too many people who have been wounded (and sometimes “left for dead”) by someone they loved or were tied to through blood. I have seen too many people locked in a grid of fright, guilt, and anger because of the “shoulds” and the “oughts” that have been used as weapons to force them into an uneasy peace. I have seen many of them turn to the church or to well-meaning, believing friends or relatives only to experience a total lack of understanding of what they are going through as they try to relate to a person who abhors peace.

So often, the person who is doing the “trying” is the one who is blamed if peace doesn’t work. This ought not to be! Well over fifteen years ago I began to see patterns in the people who crossed my path as I spoke around the country and as I worked in a counseling office. Their symptoms were the same, and the “methods” used by their difficult person were the same. In each instance, with very little deviation, I saw a person who wanted a decent relationship living as a hostage of someone who was unwilling to take personal responsibility for his or her actions.

I was amazed to note that it did not matter whether the hostage-taker was a mother, a husband, a child, a sister, a friend, or a boss; the behavior was the same, and the results were the same. One person held control and through open rage, passive anger, oily manipulation, or sullen silence stubbornly refused to release his grip.

Part 7

In the church, unrepentant sin is to be pronounced from the rooftops, in the hearing of the entire church.  It is to be exposed and dealt with openly, so that those who profess Christ’s name yet cause that Name to be blasphemed by unbelievers are expelled from the body of Christ, and Christ’s Name thereby is once more honored.  If a pastor is going to deal biblically and righteously with an abuser who is a member of his church, that pastor must resolve to do so in openness and in truth.  There can be no cover up, no minimization of the evil, no political maneuvering designed to save face or cover anyone’s tail end.  The evil must be exposed for all to see, and the unrepentant evil one delivered over to the realm of darkness, outside the church, in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Part 8

Do you begin to see the point?  The pastor has invested emotionally, socially, financially, and in other ways in his church and ministry. He has invested in this family, and often in the life of the abuser himself.  The abuser might be an elder or deacon or some other key figure in the church.  So the victim’s report sounds a dissonant chord in the pastor’s mind.  His temptation is going to be to change his thinking to some theory that will justify the abuser and support his long-held notion that the abuser is really who the pastor has assumed him to be.  The pastor will do this rather than believe the shocking and threatening alternative:  the victim’s account.

Part 9

The large majority of the readers of this blog do not need to be told that a false gospel, gutted of a call to genuine faith and repentance, is the abuser’s great ally.  This “gospel,” which the Apostle Paul says is no gospel at all (Galatians 1), only produces nominal Christians, meaning that they are Christian in name only.  Survivor after survivor will tell their stories of how their abuser hides in the pews, playing the role of “Christian” and enjoying the affirmation of his fellow church members.  Where a false gospel is preached, false Christians are produced, and an environment that is ripe for the practice of evil is cultivated.  Sadly, we must admit that such a false gospel is widely preached in our churches today, as it has been for decades now.

Part 10

Pastors and men: it is time we take to heart that our Lord calls upon us to effect justice and mercy.  When we are confronted with a victim of evil, then we are to be the Good Samaritan whether the bandits who beat up the victim like it or not.  This is what real pastors do.  It is what real men do.

 

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Repost: You Don’t Have to Dance for Them: Roles (How we bloggers have narcissists in different roles)

Upsi writes about how blogs are now helping victims of narcissists validate and support each other.  Such blogs have been exploding in recent years; we did not have these before:

I’m thinking today about readers like Insidesopen, who have a different story about the way narcissism has impacted their lives (she has an exNH), but tell me that they benefit from reading my story.  I know that I feel this way about other bloggers – even if the focus is an Nfather or Nsister or Nspouse, I learn so much from anyone willing to describe their experience.  The role is secondary to the underlying experience we all share: voiceless, confused, ashamed, blamed, and looking for some kind of peace.

For truth-seekers, hungry to heal and transcend the blindness and word-less-ness of pre-N consciousness, there is a growing world of forums like blogging on which we can exchange stories and learn from one another.  That is positively trans-formative.

The dark ages are over, let the light in.

You Don’t Have to Dance for Them: Roles:

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Why Not to Rush a Victim’s Recovery From Abuse

Insensitive remarks from others are quite common when victims of abuse try to share what’s happened and the pain of recovery.

But many people who have (thankfully) never been abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, or sexually often ask: “Why can’t you just get over it. Why can’t you just let it go already.”

The answer is simple: it’s impossible and defies science. Even if the last blow was inflicted weeks, months, or even years before, if the victim/survivor has not reacted, the last blow continues to inflict pain as if it happened seconds ago.

The act of communicating what happened IS a necessary REACTION to the ACTION of abuse. Allow your friend to communicate what happened. Do not judge your friend. Do not tell your friend to move faster or get over it faster.

It may take many days, weeks, months, or years of communicating the story before peace is found, because I believe the length of time a person suffers alone in their pain is proportional to the amount of time needed to communicate the pain and suffering. If they suffered alone for 20 years, it may take 20 years to purge themselves of the pain. If they suffered for 6 months, it may only take 6 months to purge themselves.

Recovery should never be rushed or forced. Like grieving the death of someone you love, the process is different for us all.

–Read more at Newton, Pinball and Abuse–Oh My! by Paula Carrasquillo

 

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Burke has a real shot against Walker

The latest poll shows Burke leading by 4 points among likely voters.  So she actually has a chance to get Walker out of office–finally–so she can start undoing all the damage he has done.  All the damage which he is likely to try to pull on the entire country if he runs for President in 2016.

Walker for President?  Do we really want the entire country to be polarized–friend against friend, brother against brother, much like the Civil War–as we are in Wisconsin after the crap Walker has pulled?

And also note that Wisconsin is lagging behind the rest of the Midwest in jobs and recovery.  We also are suffering because Walker bumped many off BadgerCare, but refuses federal funds for health care.  We lost many good teachers (who left) and are not attractive to new ones, because of Walker’s changes to their wages and benefits.  He gutted collective bargaining rights for public unions.  Minnesota, with liberal policies, is doing far better.  And recent revelations about where he gets his funding, sound very much like corporations buying political favors.

Get out and vote, and hopefully this time we will get a Democrat back in office to undo the damage he has done!

Tommy Thompson was a Republican.  He was cool.  But Walker is no Tommy Thompson.

 

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St. John’s Abbey’s Bible: First Handwritten, Illuminated Bible Since the Printing Press

I remember reading about this Bible back when researching my novel Tojet (the character Merkit joined a monastery after his wife died).  St. John’s Abbey had a very informative website about the modern life of the monks living there.  One of the monks even responded to my e-mailed questions.  It was awesome.  :)  Here’s their website now.  And they still have a section about their monastic life.

The St. John’s Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned since the advent of the printing press. It was commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of St. John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota to “ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world and to illuminate the word of God for a new millennium,” said Kate Candee, vice president for missions and retention at Marian [University, in Fond du Lac].

“It’s hard to describe the magnitude of this,” Candee said.

The Bible was created by a team of scribes, artists and craftspeople in a scriptorium in Wales under the artistic direction of Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers and the Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Crown Office at the House of Lords in London, England.

Marian University Receives Fine Art Editions of St. John’s Bible

More information

Video

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On the Fear of Driving: Why I First Looked Into NVLD

I don’t like to talk much about my fear of driving, at least not in person.  I prefer to only talk about it on my blogs, where I can be anonymous and really open up.  People tend to not understand, have various misconceptions about those who don’t drive.  They think we’re not facing up to our responsibilities, as if determination is all we need.  But people are also afraid of such things as heights, flying and spiders, and with reason because all these things can be deadly if not dealt with properly.

Yesterday I watched an episode of Laverne and Shirley in which Laverne reveals she’s afraid to drive.  I felt her pain because I have the same problem.  However, in typical sitcom fashion, her problem was resolved in 20 minutes by Shirley getting her to learn how to drive.  [sarcasm on] Yeah, because all we need to get over our fear is to learn how to drive. [sarcasm off]

I learned how to drive 22 years ago, took driver’s ed, got a license, drove to the next county to work for two and a half years, still keep my license up-to-date.  But that did not get rid of the fear.

In fact, the fear was reinforced with my first car, a beater with all sorts of problems: stiff gearshift, power windows which didn’t behave in cold weather, leaky oil, constantly needing to go to the shop and get more work done.  It would get worked on, and I’d drive it to work only to find some new thing wrong with it, like the time the steering wheel started shimmying at high speeds.

Another time, the darn thing just suddenly started slowing down on the highway, I couldn’t get it back up, and I had to pull to the side, check oil, etc., having no idea what was wrong with it, then it just started working again.  (I’d give more detail, but that was some 15 years ago or so now.)

With a drive of nearly an hour across a two-lane highway to get to work, in all sorts of weather (such as some pretty nasty blizzards), watching for deer and tractors, and occasionally getting scared by seeing road work ahead (detours terrified me because I could get terribly lost), I was constantly afraid of the thing breaking down along the way.  My husband didn’t understand until he had to drive the thing to another state one time, and then he realized just how bad a car I had.

But it wasn’t just that.  I had a terrible time maneuvering the thing, such as around curves and when making turns, and nearly got into accidents with it because of that.  I almost went off the road on a very curvy and narrow rural road.  I don’t think that was the car’s fault.  I got lost on the way to an interview in the next county.  That same day, I also got terribly lost when going to get my stuff from college and take it to my new apartment.  I should’ve known the way, having ridden that way many times over the past four years.  But I got so lost that I was terrified.

This may be because of NVLD.  My trouble driving, in fact, is the reason why I looked into NVLD in the first place, in 2000.  I’d been well aware of my social problems for years, had even seen a psychologist to help me with them back in elementary school.  I discovered in an old diary entry from 1992 that I had some knowledge even back then of an NVLD-like disorder which I identified with:

First, for so many of my school years I felt ostracized.  I made friends easily [or so I thought, though looking back I didn't], but still people would tease me about the way I walked, or being weird, or playing with my hands until about the end of the fourth grade, or whatever.  Even my best friend from down the street ended up treating me bad.

This is probably why I closed off around fifth or sixth grade and had to go to a psychologist (who, by the way, was the first person to hypnotize me).  I’ve never fully recovered from a sense of weirdness, even though I’ve made great progress.  I actually felt “not weird” for a time senior year, until those guys in art class shot me back down and humiliated me.  I still get this sense of insecurity every once in a while.

Second, part of the reason for my “ostracism” was probably the type of child I was.  I’ve read about it in the newspaper.  There’s a type of child that never picks up on all of the rules of body language, and their peers think they’re weird because they can’t relate to each other.

That was me.  I was, in a sense, in my own little world.  I never even learned the basics of social interaction and common courtesy, which I didn’t start to pick up on until I was going to my psychologist.  Even saying “hi” was foreign to me.  I finally got myself saying “hi” and eventually “bye” whenever someone said it to me, but I’ve only recently been able to start saying it first.

I’m still studying my peers to see what you do in certain situations.  Also, just ask my mom, she always had trouble getting me to say “thank you.”  As I said, I was in my own little world, and I didn’t learn these things, not even when my parents tried to teach me.  I’m still often uncertain what to do.

Third, I don’t always know why I do things.  I don’t know for sure why I refused to go up to [my friend's] house that night [when I was with Peter in South Bend].  I think maybe my subconscious was afraid her parents would think, “What in the world are you doing out at this hour?  And who’s he [my boyfriend]?  [She's] not even here.”

[Actually, it's quite simple: I figured social conventions would be against me showing up late in the evening unannounced, especially if she didn't know I was in town.  Here, the boyfriend was probably the one in the wrong about social rules.]

… I don’t know for sure why I’m so afraid of driving.  Maybe I’m just afraid of cars; I don’t know.

I also don’t know for sure why I didn’t want to go “midnight sledding” with my friends last Friday night.  I guess I’m just not one for spontaneity.  If I’ve already planned or expected my day or evening to go one way, a sudden change is unwelcome, no matter what it is.  If it’s a dance not announced previously, I probably won’t go.  If it’s a change of plans for a date, such as rollerskating instead of the movies, I’ll probably choose the original plan, no matter how much I like rollerskating.

I don’t even know why this is.  Maybe I just like to know what’s going to happen. 

Now, some people with NVLD can drive but can’t ride bicycles, though they might have navigation problems.  I learned late, but can ride a bicycle just fine.

But driving terrified me so much that even after getting a license (which was a feat in itself), I avoided driving whenever possible.

If I were just shy, then why did I have so much trouble with driving that I felt like the only teenager in the country who didn’t want a license?  If I were just introverted, then why did even the introverts find me hard to get to know, why did I get lost so easily while driving, why did my aunt proclaim to my mom that she couldn’t do anything with me, why did my mom take me to a psychologist in the mid-80s?

Why did I make so many stupid mistakes while driving that I sometimes feared for my life, why did I have so much trouble maneuvering the car into a car wash that I swore off automatic car washes and stopped going to that place out of shame, why did I have so much trouble maneuvering the car, period, why did I get so lost while driving even on roads I thought I knew, why did I study the map over and over yet still go the wrong way, why did I have to give up driving just to restore my shattered self-esteem?  (I’m not an idiot, yet driving made me feel like one, again and again and again.)

I knew introverts and shy people who didn’t have these problems!

In February 2000, I read an article in U.S. News and World Report about adults with learning disorders (Not just kid stuff anymore: Many adult Americans find that they, too, have learning disabilities, February 21, 2000).  One woman, Sheila Price, described how she was always getting lost while driving, that she has lived in Richmond, VA all her life but doesn’t “know how to get from one side to the next.  My world is very small because of it.”

I lived in South Bend, IN for the first 18 years of my life, but college boyfriends who visited my home noted that they could find their way around the city better than I could.  Price discovered she had a visual-spatial disorder.

So I googled visual-spatial disorders, and found NVLD.  While reading articles by Pamela B. Tanguay and Sue Thompson, I felt like I was reading about my entire life, all my problems, everything that had ever happened to me–and I finally had an explanation.

I never felt weird on my own, but only because other people labeled me that.  I thought I was perfectly normal, and didn’t understand how other people acted differently, and so easily.  It wasn’t me trying to be defiant or difficult or weird.  It just was the way my brain told me to act.  Now I knew why, that I wasn’t “weird,” that my brain was wired differently than the mainstream, and that was okay.

While I don’t match every symptom of trouble with visual processing, long before I knew about NLD, I noted problems with speed, sports, understanding everything that was going on around me socially, adapting to routine changes or novel situations, getting lost while driving even if I’d been that way many times as a passenger, everything about driving from keeping on the correct part of the road to finding my way around to reading a map during road construction to paying attention to traffic markings/signs/signals, even with correctly interpreting instructions given by teachers.

Over time I lost the rubber legs from driving home from work, as I grew more familiar with driving that route, and knew what traffic signals/lanes to expect where.  But the thought of driving anywhere else filled me with dread and anxiety, actually gave me panic attacks at times.

While I’m not so disabled in NLD-related things that it affects everything I do, being quite capable in many ways and able to learn how to do many things–it’s still enough that I identify with NLD.

I was already afraid of driving before I started, but my lack of ability to do the maneuvers or find my way or obey the signals or deal with unexpected circumstances without a great amount of difficulty, even when I’d been driving to work for a couple of years, made me even more convinced that I should not be doing it, for everyone’s safety, no matter how much it has hamstrung my ability to do much of anything that requires leaving the house.

In driver’s ed, I did well on written tests, so even though I had trouble getting through the reading every night (which took me hours), I must have been retaining the laws–probably because of lectures the following day and in-classroom quizzes.  The teacher told my parents that I knew the laws.  But the driving instructor, on the other hand, only grudgingly gave me a waiver of the state’s driving test, after I took the class’s final driving test twice and passed the second time.

So even though some people (such as my ex Phil or my brother) would say, “Don’t you have a license?”–that wasn’t really enough to make me comfortable or competent behind the wheel.  This was long before the days of graduated licenses or more stringent laws on required hours of driving instruction, and the instructor never used one of those driving simulator machines before putting us on the streets.  He just spent fifteen minutes teaching each of us to drive around the parking lot, then after that took us straight onto the busy streets around the school.

This was fine for the two guys in my car who had already been driving illegally, but not for us two girls who had been following the laws.  (Oddly, those two guys did not get waivers, but probably because they were cocky and liked to make fun of pedestrians, which annoyed the instructor.)

When I took driver’s ed, we were supposed to fill in a map of street names and other landmarks while in our assigned car and waiting for our turn to drive.  I did very poorly on this map.

My car’s instructor took our permits away (to make sure we never showed up without them), so I got very little practice.  He was always hitting his brake when I drove.  I was frustrated to no end because he’d tell me to go, I’d look and see cars coming, hesitate maybe a few seconds, start to pull out–and he’d hit the brake, saying I waited too long.  Which I most likely did, but it demonstrates that I had trouble figuring out when it was safe to turn, how far away the cars were, etc.

I’m not blind, and don’t have any other visual problems such as lack of depth perception, color blindness, tunnel vision, etc.  But I do have trouble determining how soon the cars will bear down on me, so people (in other cars or in my own) have gotten frustrated with me as I sit and wait.

This also causes me trouble crossing streets on foot, though you could argue that because this has made me especially cautious, it’s also kept me alive.  It has also made me more compassionate with other drivers, because it is my philosophy (and what I will tell my son) that only that driver can tell if it’s safe to turn or not, not the people behind who don’t see what he sees.

I’ve always had trouble explaining why I don’t want to drive; people usually think I should just be able to get in the car and drive.  One ex-boyfriend, Phil, talked down to me like I should be able to just get into the car and drive, and he’d yell at me for not doing it. He’d refuse to drive me someplace, even when I had no other way of getting there.  He said he wasn’t a taxicab.  As Dr. Phil said on one show, if you try to do “therapy” by making a person “face her fear,” you’re really just being a bully.

It didn’t help that with my first car, I was trying to learn stick on an old car with stiff gears.  By the time I got a decent car, the damage had been done.  My work commute became familiar, but when I stopped working at my first job, I started driving less and less until, now, I don’t drive at all.

Once, I planned to drive myself to a party when hubby was out of town, but got so panicky that it affected me physically and I had to stay home.  It helps to have someone with me or in the car ahead of me to help me navigate, but without that, I don’t even want to try.  I don’t want to kill anyone, you see.

My hometown was a scary city to navigate, because not only did I have to concentrate very hard just to do the driving halfway decently, but there were so many cars doing unpredictable things, and so many lanes, so many signs, so many one-way streets, so many twists and turns to get to a destination.

When I moved away from home to a much smaller city in another state, there were different traffic laws, lights which would turn to blinking red or blinking yellow after 10pm–even streetlights were positioned differently over the intersections.

I was confused by many things: I had an awful time parking; I did not know that it was illegal to turn left on red (I could swear the driving instructor said you could turn left on red, but you had to do it very carefully [update: actually, in Indiana, left turns on red from one one-way street to another are legal, so maybe that was the context]); I had the rules for four-way stops backwards (that it goes “to the right”–i.e., the person on the left goes first and then the car to the right of that car, counter-clockwise–rather than the person on the right, clockwise).

The driver behind me would see an empty space for turning, where I saw a wall of cars–hence, I got honked at a lot, which startled me and upset me for hours afterwards.  I often tried to use maps, but they made little sense to me, I could not retain what I saw, and I got so confused by whether to turn right or left, that I often got terribly lost.  Getting lost frightened me.

I had no clue why I had such a hard time driving, and could only think that I should just get off the road.  But of course, even though people say bad drivers should get off the road, if one does so, they chide him for not driving when “everybody has to do it.”

Even before I started driving, cars scared me: I was fine as a passenger, but I always crossed the road extra carefully.  One year, I had to cross a busy street to get to my bus stop–yes, I know, poor planning on the school’s part.  The kids would stand at the bus stop and jeer at me for not crossing, saying I had plenty of time, when all I saw were cars coming right at me very quickly.  Trying to turn as a driver felt like that all over again; the honks were the jeers of my classmates.

I walked to my next job, only ten minutes away, walking in all sorts of weather despite having a car.  It was wonderful.

Fear of driving is more common than you might think in this car-obsessed nation.  But while many people can overcome it through baby steps and practice, I still have mine–despite driving from one county to another every week-day for two and a half years.  Too much happens at once, I get lost easily, I have to navigate while following road rules and trying not to run into anything, and unexpected situations cause panic.

It is not a phobia, or irrational fear, if it is linked to NVLD; maybe it’s better for everyone if I don’t drive, at least until I find someone who can teach me how to compensate for my weaknesses while driving.  The last letter here sums up my feelings quite well:

Also, when I did drive, I was always scared that something would go flat, the battery would go out, etc. etc. I was always scared when I drove and that is not good when on the road. I found that by taking myself off the road, that I am being considerate of other people and their lives.

However, it is very frustrating when you “take yourself off the road” and people accuse you of immaturity or not doing what you need to do as an adult.  (Maybe if they saw you drive, they’d feel differently.)  Yet another time you will hear them complain about “bad drivers” and people who shouldn’t have been given driver’s licenses!

There are times when I see how it can affect my life to not be able to drive, especially if something were to happen to hubby.  But I don’t feel I have a choice.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered that trouble with and fear of driving is common with learning disorders, as is being misunderstood by “normal” people.  Lots of people, men and women, are afraid of driving; I don’t know how many of them have learning disorders, but I have found some of them in real life and on the Internet.

It makes sense, when you think of how lethal a car can be, that some will refuse to do it despite the inconvenience of not driving.  Even Barbara Walters–a wildly successful and well-respected woman–is afraid to drive.  (She said this on Oprah one day when I just happened to flip on the program.  The episode aired on September 16, 2004.)  Quincy Jones also does not drive.  Shep of the Three Stooges also was too scared to drive.

It also helps to know that people with NVLD can eventually master driving, so if I must do it again, I may still be able to do it.  “Some will drive, some will not” (source).

My husband has noted that I’m methodical: I like to know how something is going to end before I start it; if I don’t, I tend to freeze up and stand still rather than risk things going wrong.  I like to know what’s going to happen and have a good idea of how I’m going to deal with it.  I need plans, routines, schedules.  If I don’t know what’s going to happen, if something unexpected happens, if something disrupts the routine, I panic.  (One reason why driving is so stressful for me.)

My terror at driving never left, except after many months of driving to my first job, I finally felt comfortable doing that–as long as I did not have to do a detour.  Detours meant I could get hopelessly lost.  If I could follow a car, I’d be okay, but not alone.  My main route was torn up for quite some time, and various detours would be set up.  These detours confused me considerably, and I often found myself quite lost, unable to read the map.

When driving, I’d make various errors that seemed to make sense at the time, but someone would honk and I’d feel like an idiot for not realizing that was dangerous or seeing what was really going on with the roadway.  A curved, two-lane, one-way street appeared to be becoming one lane, so I desperately tried to get over, one day on a detour.  The cars honked; I soon discovered the lane was not ending at all, but was an optical illusion.

One day, I thought I could drive to my interview in the next county, then to a fast-food restaurant for lunch, then to my old campus to get some stuff I’d left in storage….This is when I got turned around and was an hour late to the interview, because I kept misinterpreting which direction I was supposed to turn onto Johnson.

I kept getting confused on which way to turn onto Johnson St.  I studied the map and thought I now knew exactly which direction to go on Johnson St.  But I still went the wrong way for quite a while before realizing my mistake.  But I got there, explained what happened, and still got the job.

I then went to my campus in that county to pick up some belongings I had stored there.  I figured I’d been on that road so many times that I knew it like the back of my hand.  But I ended up hopelessly lost, scared, afraid I’d run out of gas and die on one of the back roads I was wandering.

When I did find a gas station, I couldn’t even get around without hitting the building.  I asked for directions and got back on the highway, finding my way all right after that.

There were other things: A time my then-boyfriend, now-husband, asked me to drive to a place on 4th Street to get an extra key made.  I never did find the place, and went back home, distraught and scared.

I tried to use an automatic car wash: First the automatic windows froze in the frigid weather on my 10-year-old car, and I couldn’t get them back up before my ticket expired.  Then I couldn’t get my car centered on the risers on the ramp, so the car wash didn’t work.  An attendant finally had to help me get my car in the right spot.

I went home and cried in mortification and devastation to my fiancé, wondering why on earth I had so much trouble with a car wash.  He didn’t understand it, either, but fortunately this fiancé did not judge me like the first one, Phil, did.  Instead, he showed me a different, manual car wash where you simply hose down your car, so I never drove through an automatic car wash again.

Other things happened that led to accidents, or my judgment was somehow so screwed up that I didn’t know what to do after an accident.  I felt like an absolute freak, because my brain just wouldn’t let me act like “normal” people in these situations, and kept failing me again and again when I was supposed to be so smart.

I had so much trouble with driving that I finally decided I was too incompetent to keep putting myself and others at risk. Unfortunately, that decision has led to much shame because people don’t understand why a grown adult can’t do such a “simple” thing as drive a car, and think it’s some sort of immature refusal to do what must be done.  (At least, that’s what it feels like to me.)  I couldn’t understand it, either, and wished people would stop judging and just let me be a non-driver.

My ex-fiancé stayed a summer with my parents and me.  He took a few jobs while there.  He scolded me for not knowing how to get around the city I grew up in.  He said he knew his way around much better than I did after only a few months.

Google Maps has been a Godsend: Not only do you get a map right in the area you need, but you get routes mapped out for you, verbal directions, and a photo of the intersections.  I like to print them all up to ensure that I find my way.  I don’t drive anymore, but do often read the directions for my husband when we’re going someplace.  That is, when he hasn’t already looked at the map once and memorized where to go.  [grumble]

Recently, however, I was able to buy a new bicycle.  Here is new freedom!  For much of the year, until the snow falls and the ice forms, I can ride my bike to all sorts of places that otherwise would take an hour to walk.  I can ride it to church, since my husband goes elsewhere.  I can ride it to vote, now that our polling place has been moved from its convenient spot next door.

In that rare case when hubby’s not able to take me someplace I need to go, I can use my bike, call a cab (we have several different cab companies at reasonable rates in this town), or use the bus (if it happens to be running).  The bike is also a lot of fun, now that–after 20 years–I have gotten over my rustiness.  I got a simple one, no gears, no different speeds, just push back on the pedals to stop.  I never liked ten-speeds, never wanted to deal with that.  I like simple machines that I can understand and operate simply.  Unlike a car.

Featured post

My Mental/Visual/Touch Stimming: Could it be Asperger’s?

To me, NVLD and/or Asperger’s is a fascinating look into the differences in how our brains work.  I find the differences awesome, and hope that one day they will be accepted, not labeled “disorders” which must be “fixed.”

They also explain many things about myself that never made sense before, make me “normal” among people who have these same “abnormalities.”  It makes me okay the way I am.  They’re also not related to introversion, so can’t be explained away that way.

NVLD/Asperger’s quickly became, back in 2000, one of my many long-term, obsessive interests, because finally I had a reason for why I do the things I do, why my brain works the way it does, why others don’t do these things that seem perfectly normal and logical to me, or which I’ve always done but not known why.

For example, I have various little things I do which I’ve done since childhood, but they’re so subtle that I doubt anybody notices but myself.  They seem to increase when I’m going through anxious periods.

For example, sometimes I’ll feel my heel strike a crack in the sidewalk, and I don’t feel right until the opposite heel strikes a crack in the sidewalk as well.  I’ll stare at tiles and find patterns.  I alphabetize my music and movies.  I’ll stare into space, or my eyes will cross, as a form of relaxation when visuals are getting a bit overwhelming.

If I’m folding laundry and a sock or towel hits my leg, oftentimes I won’t feel right until I hit one against the other leg as well.  I do the same thing with my fingers.  I keep nibbling on the inside of my mouth without realizing it.

It doesn’t always happen, but as I noted, seems to increase in times of anxiety.  For the past 2 years, while dealing with a very emotionally traumatic situation, I’ve been doing these things more often, and added a couple of new ones.  Now my eyes vaguely cross a lot, intentionally.  Not sure why.  I try to stop it because it gives me a headache, but do it anyway.

I recall, as a kid, one day just looking at the ceiling and deciding I would start doing one of my stims, which I have never stopped doing: counting, looking for even numbers in things, such as tiles on the ceiling.

I count letters in words in titles or signs, hoping for even numbers of letters or words as my eyes sweep back and forth over the word in various patterns, doing this until it “feels finished.”  I look for symmetry.

I prefer round letters and numbers because they make easier patterns; I’ll even make a pattern with an individual letter or number.  As a child, my favorite number was 8 and numbers related to 8, such as 16–because 8 is a round number.

I’ll do the same thing with letters or numbers or pictures or other objects, my eyes sweeping over an object back and forth an even number of times to form an even pattern.  I do it to titles on books, to words on a page I’m reading, to tiles on the floor, to the iconostasis (wall with all the icons) at church, to the golden objects (crosses, etc.) on the altar, to the incense holders hanging.  I count them, see there’s this number on one side, this number on the other, back and forth, until finally the service begins.

I see a line or a word and think of the capital letters opposite other capital letters, the lowercase letters in contrast, try to form a pattern with the capitals on the outside.  An embedded web video stuck on an endless loop (such as in forum avatars or on page 3 of the below-linked forum discussion) can drive me crazy, as I start wanting to see it go through the loop a certain number of times before I turn it off.  I don’t even know how many times; just until it “feels finished.”

I’ll often look at a word or phrase again and again after having just read it, until I’m “done.”

And my brain has done these things for as long as I can remember.  It’s usually not at all related to anxiety, though anxiety can increase the frequency of some of them.

Riding in a car also sometimes drives me crazy as I start forming patterns with every sign and wire I see.

Sometimes I will sit and stare, a kind of “rest,” or just let my eyes go unfocused (crossing them, apparently) because it’s restful.

As a child in Kindergarten, and even now, I see numbers as male or female.  Male: 0, 1, 4, 5, 7.  Female: 2, 3, 6, 8, 9.  Yet 16 is female, and so is 20, even though they are mixed.  It’s something about the way they look.  I’m not sure what, exactly, because 0 and 5 are round, same as 3, 8 and 9, and 2 has a straight line just as most of the “male” numbers do.

Thoughts will circle in my head until they’re said in just the right way or I feel them in my throat the right number of times (something about, I haven’t really “thought” it unless I can feel the word in my throat).

Certain phrases will go through my head again and again and again until they interfere with other thoughts and activities and seem about to drive me crazy.  (These are not “voices in my head,” but my own thought-voice.)  It’s words I hear or read, or a few near-constant stock phrases which have been with me for years/decades (such as “Lord have mercy” since I became Orthodox, and “please forgive me” before that).  (In fact, Orthodoxy encourages stimming on “Lord have mercy” as a spiritual exercise.)  Sometimes I’ll start humming to get an unpleasant thought out of my head.

Up until now, no one has known about these mental/visual/tactile stims which I have done all my life.  Because they’re mostly in my head, nobody knows they’re going on.  Only recently have I told my husband these things go on in my head constantly.

I’m not sure if NLD has traits like these, but Asperger’s does; a quick Google search on “mental stimming” brings up a forum discussion on this very thing.

Some of these things will go endlessly through my head so much that I barely notice it, or they die down for a while, but start up again in periods of depression or anxiety or deep thought.

A blogger with Asperger’s describes stimming here, and one of his commenters described my thing with sidewalk cracks here.  Apparently people with normal brains stim too, so I don’t know what the difference is between “normal” and “Asperger’s” stimming.  Needs more research….If what I do is normal, then NLD is more likely, as it’s more mild than Asperger’s.

Everybody stims, Aspies and NTs alike and usually they’re unaware of it.  Aspies tend to stim more often than NTs and it tends to be more for stress/anxiety relief. Most aspies won’t be aware that it’s a relief mechanism, they’ll probably just tell you that it feels good.  Virtually any kind of repetitive behaviour without a specific point other than “feel-good” can be a stim. The difficulty involved in stopping the stim and the frequency at which it occurs is what distinguishes an aspie stim from a neurotypical stim. Gavin Bollard’s comment, Life With Aspergers: What is Stimming

 

Here a blogger, who after her children were diagnosed realized she herself had grown up undiagnosed with Asperger’s, writes that she can never stand still.  She shifts her weight back and forth from one foot to another.  She was sure lots of people do this, until she started watching, and saw almost nobody doing it.

I do this in church.  Since I go to a liturgical church, I can say with certainty that I’m not moving to upbeat praise and worship music (which tends to make me want to avoid swaying, anyway, in defiance at musical manipulation).  When I’m not in church, but standing at a corner waiting to cross the street, or standing in line, I rock back and forth on my feet.  I just can’t stand still without a lot of effort.

My husband does this too, so the question arises: is this common or isn’t it?  Some comments I find on blogs are that everybody stims; it’s just a question of how socially acceptable the stimming behavior is: making strange noises vs. tapping your pencil, for example.  Here the same blogger goes into detail about stimming and where she thinks the line is drawn between “normal” and autistic/Asperger’s stimming.

I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve done most of these stims since childhood.  I am getting some new ones, however, due to excessive anxiety, which is quite annoying.

Threads on this from the Asperger’s Wrong Planet forum, with which I identify so strongly that I keep saying, “Yes!  Yes!”:
Mental Repetition of Phrases/Words?
Mental Stimming

I started watching Mozart and the Whale and I realized that the guy in the movie, Donald, when he is looking around he notices things and makes combinations and associations in his mind, which is also what I do. I do it at home and also when I am sitting somewhere in public. While seeing him in the movie, I realize that when I am doing this my eyes must be moving in a way that must come across as very bizarre to other people. …Anyway, do u have the same thing? do you look around and make combinations all the time and observe lines, numbers,colors etc How do you move your eyes?

Why, yes, yes, I do.  Yes, I trace things with my eyes, as well.  From that same thread, I also identify with this:

For instance, looking at a sentence on a billboard, I end up counting the letters and spaces so I can find the figure or space that is the middle of the sentence, the fulcrum of symmetry if you will. Or if say a sentence has an odd number of words, like 3 or 5, i cut the sentence in half and count how many letters I’d have to add to one side or the other to make them symmetrical. In case you didn’t notice, I have huge issues with symmetry and constantly striving to achieve it in everything I observe.

You’ll note these threads also comment on perseveration, which is related to the same things going around in your head all the time, or a child with Asperger’s getting so latched onto a subject/interest that you can’t get him off it.

I do that constantly, whenever I’m going through some emotional issue, or I’ve gotten interested in some new thing, such as ancient Egypt when I was 12 (or re-interested in some old thing, such as my curiosity in NVLD/Asperger’s taking a rest for months and then popping up again and I have to do more research on it), or I’m so deeply interested in a writing project that I think about it while doing other things.  It keeps going whether I want it to or not.

It’s always been this way.  No matter what it is–perseveration, or mental stimming, or visual stimming–my mind is constantly very busy.  It makes it hard to fall asleep sometimes.

Perseveration is the reason I would research as much as I could into whatever I was writing about; of course, before the Internet exploded, it was hard to find good materials.  Now, I have them at my fingertips.  It’s a perseverator’s dream!

When I got curious about Orthodoxy in 2005, I became so obsessed with it that I bought books, printed hundreds of website pages, went on forums, spent months–maybe a year–researching it heavily before visiting the local Orthodox church in November 2006.  My research filled a whole box when it became far too thick for its accordion file.

Related to perseveration and thoughts constantly replaying in the head:

Inability to get over it.
I blame the long term aspie memory for this. Many of my present actions are shaped by my past experiences. I find the past very difficult to let go of and it permeates into everything I do.  I’m terrified to let people near my stuff because of something that happened when I was in year 5 at school.  I’m difficult and resentful in certain situations at work because of a problem that happened four years ago (that everyone else has forgotten).  It’s even becoming something of a catchphrase of my wife’s; “Get over it!”. Of course, that’s just the point… I can’t.
  Life With Asperger’s

One of the most effective coping mechanisms I employ is “conversation recording” where I attempt to remember an event in its entirety for later analysis.  In aspies with particularly well-developed coping mechanisms (typically, older aspies), event recording is virtually “second nature”. It often occurs without any conscious decision on our part.

When an event is “recorded”, a lot of things, particularly tone and body language which are not accessible at the time are retained. The funny thing about this type of retention is that although a lot of input is captured, it usually isn’t available to me until I review the “recording”. Something I may not do until hours or days later – and often, unless I have a reason to do so, not at all.

I’m in the habit of reviewing “recordings” whenever I get an unexpected response from people or whenever I deem that a conversation is important and could be carrying more information than is immediately obvious.  Life With Asperger’s

Yep, I do that.

A lot of things come back to the aspie memory. Aspies often have very clear memories of events and quotations. In conversation, they may drop a remark which links back to a particular memory but even if the NT was present at that event, it could have been years ago, or the particular part of the event to which the Aspie is referring may not form a large part of their memory.  Life With Asperger’s

There’s no doubt that vivid memories (trauma) are remembered both by animals and people. There’s also little doubt that these memories, both negative and positive affect our future actions. Where I think the aspie differs is that key memories don’t necessarily need to be large or traumatic in order to be “vivid”.

“Can’t move on” is a phrase that is often associated with Aspergers. In fact, I’m sure it appears somewhere in the official criteria.

The inability to move on is due to a number of factors including; change resistance, routine, insecurity and memory. Children with aspergers seem to take things in like sponges and retain them forever. They revisit those memories over and over again and after a time, even the smallest and least traumatic of them can become a major influence on their lives.  Life With Asperger’s

How can a having a good long-term memory be responsible for depression?

The key to understanding this is to approach it from the point of view of an NT [neurotypical, or "normal" brain]. Most of the time, it seems to me that detailed memories just aren’t available for NTs without external assistance. By external assistance, I mean the use of video cameras or photo albums.

In the movie One Hour Photo, Robin William’s character says, while looking at birthday snaps, “Nobody takes a picture of something they want to forget”. I think that this is particularly relevant to the issue because it means that NT’s tend only to remember the good things in any detail.

The Aspie however, with their long term memory often has perfect recall of past events and conversations. They will spend hours analyzing a conversation that occurred years ago and will often take negative feedback on board even if it was provided in the heat of the moment.
The long term memory of the Aspie therefore can be their worst enemy for dredging up guilt and other negative emotions.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m not entirely where the lines are drawn between Asperger’s and Obsessive Compulsion. It is obvious that people can suffer from Obsessive Compulsion without having Asperger’s Syndrome but I’m not convinced that it works the other way around. To be specific, I think that the Asperger’s condition carries with it certain obsessive compulsive influences which manifest themselves in different ways.  Life With Asperger’s

Featured post

Poisonous Friend: Dedicated to my Stalkers

Sometimes I watch her kill
Cold eyes and no restraint
And I wonder how it feels
To annihilate a friend

You frighten me
It’s getting harder to conceal
You spy on me
All my secrets are revealed

You’re scaring me
A play on words for us to see
You care for me
I find this harder to believe

–Seabound, “Poisonous Friend”

This is obviously about a narcissist/sociopath.

Buy here.

 

Featured post

My Pictures of Martians: Middle School

Martian Characteristics

Shilva, a Martian. Ancient Era, I think, though it’s hard to remember exactly–My Martian drawings and histories were lost in the Great Accident of 1991 (described here).  :P  :

Shilva




Shilva Akika: a doodle on Astronomy notes, college, 1993:

As a child, I made up various planets and civilizations for my stories.  Back around middle school, I developed my own alphabet for the characters and drawings I was always making for Martian stories.  These gentle creatures had their own eras, fashions, customs….They used orange to match their planet.  The women even painted their faces like Mars, with orange and white patches for the poles.  They believed in God, and did not sin, never had a Fall, as hypothesized by Jonathan Swift centuries earlier.  The alphabet was based on the International Phonetic Alphabet.  One day, I made a document based on the Rosetta Stone: English (for the planet Spimpy, colonized by Earthlings) on the top, Martian (Shah-Lee) in the middle, and some other language (Uranus, maybe?) on the bottom.  I’m glad I made this, because several years later, my mother inadvertently tossed a whole bunch of my Martian pictures and stories, including the alphabets.  Here it is:

MartianRosetta#2



Featured post

The Domestic Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–July 1994, Part 1

As usual for the past few summers, we had a family reunion in Three Rivers, MI.  It may have been sometime around the fourth of July, but that’s only a guess.  For the first time, I had a boyfriend and/or fiancé to bring.  He annoyed people, though, like Mom and my brother Jake.  He begged for a Mountain Dew and even offered to pay for one, which embarrassed Mom.

****

I was glad I waited for marriage before having intercourse.  From what I could tell from my limited experience, it was much better to wait, as I did.  Marital sex was wonderful and freeing–I could give my body over to Phil in trust and freedom, knowing my body would belong to him for as long as we both should live.  I was sure it pleased God, too, that we waited, and I also praised Him that we waited.  I felt He blessed our union and the love we made.

****

Soon after quitting his job selling vacuum cleaners, Phil found a job at a factory, second shift.  Second shift in Wisconsin, he said, usually meant two to ten p.m., but in South Bend it meant three to eleven.  (I think those were the times, but my memory could be a little off.)  Since he now missed Picket Fences on Friday nights, he had me tape it for him in my room.  When he wanted to watch he said, “Ficket Pences?”

One night, the Judge presided over a child molestation case.  The sheriff’s daughter thought her best friend was having a baby by her own father, and that she didn’t even realize how wrong this was.  But to prevent prosecution, the “father” finally had to admit they were Mormons, and this girl was not his daughter, but the second of his two wives.  The first wife, whom the people of Rome, Wisconsin had thought was the girl’s mother, was about his own age.  (Rome was supposed to be a fictional town, but I found two Romes on the Wisconsin map.)  This caused a problem, of course, because bigamy is outlawed in this country.  But the Judge said,

“Common-law marriages exist all over.  There’s nothing to stop them from having a common-law marriage.  They must dissolve one of the marriages on the books, but they can still consider it common-law, and live as they have been living.”

And common-law marriages, of course, are not legally recognized in Wisconsin, so he wouldn’t legally be a bigamist.

It seemed Providential that this was on “Picket Fences” at just this time.  I also read in the newspaper about someone in California who lived with a woman he considered his wife, though she wasn’t legally, and the paper called her his “girlfriend.”  But as far as he was concerned, she was his “wife.”

These are two examples that I believed showed my marriage to Phil was truly legitimate, even if the local law didn’t recognize it, so we were truly married before God.  It seemed like God was trying to show us, through two examples so close together that summer, that it was OK.  They showed these marriages were common and real, not just our own idea.

The porcelain bird, my “engagement ring,” sat on my dresser all summer next to a picture of Phil; both got dusted regularly and lovingly.

****

I wrote these things in a letter to a pen pal on 7/3/94:

Thanks for the two cards!  They were cute.  And the bunnies were really appropriate, considering I have a stuffed rabbit that we call our ‘son.’

He wanted to name our first son Benjamin, or Benny.  We gave this name to the rabbit, which he gave me in the spring.  I saw one of the bunnies sold in the Campus Shop, and thought how nice it would be to have one.  They were cute and cuddly and wore T-shirts that said, “Cuddle up with someone from Roanoke.”  I didn’t say a word about it, but Phil got me one.  Phil now has two sons; he named one Benny.  More from the letter:

Interesting all the attention the World Cup is getting.  In the comic strip ‘Cathy,’ Cathy’s new boyfriend has been watching it, but I don’t think they really understand what’s going on.  My brother has been talking about it, but I don’t think my dad has been watching.

The TV Guide had articles on it, wondering if soccer could ever catch on with Americans.  Phil, of course, doesn’t watch because he’s not into sports.  I don’t know if it will catch on, but one thing’s for sure: American football will probably remain the sport of choice in this country….

We haven’t set the date, but probably next summer.  My parents plan to pay, it being the tradition even though nowadays the groom’s family might help or the couple might pay for it themselves.  My parents intend to use our local church for the ceremony, which was what I’d hoped to do.

So you see, my not converting to Catholicism would not be an issue.

My parents apparently like the engagement.  It means two of their children married off–my older brother is getting married in a few days–and only one [left]…to find somebody.

P.S.: Phil’s not selling cable anymore.  His pay was hardly enough for the work he did or to cover the gas he used.  Now he’s working in a factory.  Hopefully this one will work out.

The factory was in Mishawaka, but Phil thought the people there sounded Southern!  I knew some people from Mishawaka who did have an accent different from the rest of us.  Or it may have been a Michigan accent, which it did sound much like; we’re so close to the border that we share the county, and the whole area is called Michiana.  Maybe Mishawaka people do talk differently than South Bend people, which would be weird because we’re literally across the street from each other, and South Benders don’t have an accent.  (We used to be one city, but Mishawaka wanted to be by itself.)

Phil noticed his co-workers, my dad and, I believe, Hoosiers in general, said “Wes-consin” instead of “Wisconsin.”  It always used to sound like “Wisconsin” to me, but after he and/or Peter mentioned it, even I thought Dad said “Wes-consin.”

****

Phil and I, since I wanted to match his schedule, got into a routine of sleeping in Sunday morning, having Sunday lunch at home (sometimes warmed up if we slept too late), going to the evening service, then getting our own fast food dinner, because Mom never made dinner on Sunday evening.

Our traditional Sunday dinner was at lunchtime, then we’d have ice cream (sometimes cake or brownies a la mode, too) in the mid- to late-afternoon, and popcorn after the evening service.  But this no longer satisfied me and often made me a little sick.

We used to go to the morning service, and people complimented Phil’s deep singing voice.  But when Phil began working second shift and we took on later hours, we decided we’d rather sleep and go to the evening service.

****

On July 3, I wrote to Pearl,

Oh, by the way, did you have any idea what Dave thinks of me?  Phil told me some things Dave said to him that really upset me, especially since they’re untrue–though Dave believes them–and one is based on faulty information that he took as the truth.

Phil, of course, didn’t listen to them, which I suppose is what really matters, but after all, Dave will be my brother-in-law.  (Isn’t that an odd thought?) I thought we got along well enough, but I was told that Dave called me a name.

Then I had to see him in Botany.  He started talking to me about something, and I couldn’t forget what Phil had told me, and wanted to get away.  At least the semester was about over then.

I’ve gotta wonder if his opinions of me are based on things Peter might’ve told him while we were still at odds.  If so, that might explain why Dave would tell Phil we don’t get along at a time when I’d just met him for maybe the first time and thought we did get along.

****

But all did not stay rosy.  The factory seemed to change Phil’s personality.  Even his language began to change, with more cuss words than before.

As the summer wore on, I felt like Phil always had to be right, yet he accused me of this.  He kept taking my different views as attacks, turning them into arguments when they were not meant to be.  He said once that it’s a guy thing–that they don’t like to be wrong.  Basically, that they get mad or act hurt because it hurts their pride.  I felt forced to defend my position because he cut it down so much and refused to let me have a legitimate point.  It frustrated me to no end when he acted like this then pinned all the blame on me.

It seemed I wasn’t allowed to disagree with Phil about things, or have a good point or idea, or a legitimate feeling or reason.  It didn’t seem fair, him accusing me of what he did himself.  Then he shut down emotionally or left the room.  (Some people leave the room to cool down.  But to me it felt like a manipulation tactic, not allowing me to have my say: also known as withholding, the silent treatment, or stonewalling.)

As an example, once, when we were about to make love (if you can call it that), Phil wanted my backside.  I didn’t want to do it that way because it was not just disgusting, but also excruciatingly painful.  He got mad and yelled, “It’s always your way!  You’re right.  You’re always right!”  Then he stormed out of my room.  But as his next girlfriend Persephone  would say, it is my body.  I shouldn’t have to do something I’m not comfortable with.

I hated having to beg Phil to take showers–and use soap.  I shouldn’t have had to.  One day, he said he would use both soap and shampoo.  At one point, I turned on the water upstairs for a second or two to wash or rinse my hands, probably after going to the bathroom (without flushing), then I turned it back off again.

A few minutes later, Phil came upstairs, complaining.  He said that he didn’t use soap after all because the water got cold.  He waited and waited for it to warm up again, but it never did, so he stopped his shower.  I said I did turn on the water for a few seconds, but I turned it off again.

He yelled at me for having sabotaged my own desire for him to use soap in his shower.  I said I had to wash my hands.  I said it was only a second, and hardly long enough to cause a problem.  (I knew how the water worked in that house, since, after all, I’d lived there for twenty-one years.  Running the water or using a dishwasher or clothes washer may make someone’s shower cold or hot, but only for as long as you have the water on–not after you turn it off.)

He said it was cold for a long time–like several minutes.  If it was, then it sure wasn’t my fault, but he just wouldn’t listen to me.  (Maybe Dad was running some water downstairs.  Or maybe the hot water ran out.  Or maybe he was just plain exaggerating or impatient and couldn’t wait two frickin’ seconds.)

This wasn’t a good enough reason to stop showering, because it happened to me all the time, and I didn’t come out and yell at people for ruining my shower.  I just waited it out and then finished up when the water warmed up.  Or I shut off the water while soaping up, and turned it back on again to rinse off.  He was so unreasonable.  He even scolded me for using too much shampoo, when he barely used any, and I had waist-length hair!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Featured post

Phil’s Mr. Hyde comes out: controlling, manipulative, verbally and emotionally abusive–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 6

There were two distinct parts to the day: One part was my family and me, and not Phil.  The other part was Phil and me alone, because of his second-shift work schedule.  I kept going back and forth between them.  During the day, if things went wrong or were boring, I longed to be with Phil alone.

As the summer wore on, at times I preferred to be either alone or with my family, not with him.  He was just too hard to deal with after a while, and it was harder and harder to have any peace with him around.

I loved sitting in my chair, alone with All in the Family and Undine in my room upstairs, though I’d wait and often look forward to Phil coming home at 11:30.

By that time, I had spent hours translating a page of Undine.  I also spent hours writing the latest draft of Jerisland (a major rewrite, and my desert island novel which I’d worked on since high school) for my Senior Writing Project, and reading Gothic novels for my Senior Honors Project.  (The topic: how Gothic novels have changed from pre-Gothics, basically Clarissa from 1748, and Castle of Otranto, the first and supposedly a bad Gothic novel, to modern ones, such as Anne Rice’s vampire books.)

****

Some traits which came to light about Phil over that summer, though infatuation blinded me to them: stubborn, manipulative, controlling, emotionally abusive, used his acting talent to play tricks on me, picked fights.

He yelled at me and tore me down for not wanting to do things his way, then accused me of always having to get my way.

But we had made solemn promises before God to each other which I was determined to keep, so rather than telling him to go back to Wisconsin, I tried to work things out instead.

I found this book Mom had–something from the seventies about being a good Christian wife who pleases her husband so much he doesn’t want affairs or to leave.  It was written by a woman who discovered for herself what works.

It said not to nag about things like taking out the garbage, because the guy isn’t a child who won’t do these things without reminding.  But though I tried to hold to this, as the summer went on, it got harder and harder, because Phil didn’t do these things whether you nagged him or not.  I mean important, basic things which adult men should know to do on their own, without anybody’s reminder, such as:

He wouldn’t brush his teeth, wouldn’t shower.

When he worked at the factory, he set his clock for 1pm but slept until 2 or so.  I begged him to get up so he could have time to shower and eat a proper breakfast, but he yelled at me, later accused me of lowering his self esteem by “telling him when to get up” (what a load of BS) just for trying to get him up on time, rolled over, and deliberately slept so late that he could only throw on his work clothes and scarf down a Little Debbie snack.

Which meant he rarely showered.

When he came home, he didn’t wash off the soot.  Sure the full bathroom was in my parents’ bedroom, but he could at least wash his hands and arms.  The soot permanently stained the sheets, so I eventually had to throw them away.  I asked him to please clean up when he came home; he did it, but complained about it.

He neglected his worn-out brakes, until I finally had to beg him and drag him out of bed–on the last possible day before he drove me back to school–to get them fixed so we wouldn’t get killed on the long drive through Chicago and Milwaukee.

Though I asked him for reasonable things, he treated me like a nag.  (By the way, hubby Cugan constantly praises me to me, his father and others for not being a nag.  He says that even if I do nag occasionally, I do it nicely.  Of course, hubby is also a grown adult who knows to shower and brush his teeth daily, and get up on time to do all these things before work.  Nobody needs to remind him, which was such a relief that it was a big part of me falling for him!)

On November 13, 1998, a young woman on Montel told her ex she hated him because he physically abused her and cheated on her.  She said something chillingly familiar: that she got called many names–slut, whore, f-word, b-word, “and that was just to wake you up every day so you could go to work!”  Phil rarely used profanity, but his yelling and putdowns were just as bad when I woke him up for work.  It was another element of verbal abuse and control.

I wanted us to go to Sunday School together.  He refused–no room for discussion–because he feared they’d try to “convert” him from Catholicism.  I just wanted to go to Sunday School with my husband, and highly doubted they would try to “convert” him.  Sunday School was usually a time for studying issues and socializing.

Since I went to church with him now rather than with my parents, this meant, no Sunday School.  And I loved Sunday School.

(This was the last chance I had to go to Sunday School, because other churches I later went to when I moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, did not have adult Sunday School.  This was always strange to me, to have only the Sunday morning service, and no adult Sunday School, no evening service, and no Wednesday service.  Yet whatever denomination I went to in Fond du Lac, none of them had these things!  If they had more than one service, it was just a copy of the Sunday morning service, maybe changing the music to fit “contemporary” or “traditional.”)

One Sunday evening, the congregation (usually smaller for evening services) divided up into little classes in the Sunday School classrooms (I forget why–we had never done this before).

I was excited about it and wanted to go to one, but Phil refused to go with me.  I didn’t want to go alone.  He said he didn’t want to go, maybe for the same reasons he didn’t want to go to Sunday School–avoiding indoctrination or confrontation?  So paranoid!  If Catholic adults did Sunday School, I would have gone with him to his!

He said we should either leave, or he’d wait in the van for me as I went to a class.  I said people would wonder why he wasn’t with me.  He didn’t care.

I got frustrated, and really wanted to go to a class, but I refused to let him make a scene and embarrass me by sitting outside in the van, and said we might as well leave.

This was spiritual abuse, using verbal abuse and the threat of embarrassment to keep me from practicing my religion.  (Also see here, here, here and here.)

Christians believe that mixed skinny dipping is immoral, because you’re not supposed to disrobe in front of the opposite sex unless you’re married.  Yet Phil, the one who was once going to be a priest, told me that he skinny-dipped in mixed company in the campus lake once.  I think it was in the summer after his senior year of high school, which would make it the summer after my freshman year of college, when I was getting over Peter.  (He wasn’t even a student here, and neither were the people with him.)

I was not happy about this.  The thought of him skinny dipping with female classmates–seeing their naked bodies–them seeing his naked body–it horrified me, but he didn’t understand why.  He said they didn’t touch each other, didn’t do anything.  But that made no difference: It was still sinful, and he should’ve known that.  The thought of my own husband, with whom I was one flesh, thinking it was okay to skinny-dip in mixed company–I began to lose respect for him as a man and as a husband.  I thought he had more morals than that.

I told him a Roanoke student died in that lake one year.  I don’t know when it was, but it was during a picnic the college held for the students and faculty.  Counselor Dude rode in a boat, while this boy swam.  The currents took him under, and he drowned.  C.D. was distraught; this had been his favorite student.  Soon after this, the “No Lifeguard on Duty–Swim at Your Own Risk” sign was put up at the lake.  I think it was long before I came to Roanoke.  Phil said, “And I was skinny-dipping in that lake!”

He also said once that porn was not wrong/sinful.  Christians believe porn is also sinful for the same reason–disrobing in mixed company–and because it encourages lust, not love and respect for your sister in Christ or fellow human being made in God’s image.  The kind of man I had always expected to marry, wouldn’t just call himself a Christian, but actually live it, following Christian moral standards.

In September, he complained about us going to get lunch or dinner “just because you’re hungry.”  If I recall correctly, we got meals at a normal time or late.  If I don’t eat in a timely manner, I get migraines, and feel lightheaded and nauseated.  So he even wanted to control when I ate, no matter how hungry or sick I felt?

Once, when I pulled out a heating pad for menstrual cramps or a sore muscle, Phil said, “I hope you’re not going to end up like my mom, always sitting on a heating pad.”  So even using a heating pad for cramps is wrong somehow, and I have to be guilted into not doing it?  So I’m supposed to be in pain because you don’t want me using a heating pad?

By the way, his mom had health problems which caused her pain in that area, making his remarks not just knee-jerk (emphasis on the “jerk”) for me using a heating pad one night for cramps, but extremely insensitive to his mother.  Even if she didn’t have constant pain, if she wants to sit on a heating pad all the time, so what?

I eventually wondered why I kept ending up with the wrong kinds of guys, when I specifically looked for the right kinds.  I’d only date Christians, whom I expected to be godly men, but even the Christians turned away from the faith and/or mistreated me in some way.  I looked for nice, sweet, romantic guys; I ended up with guys who seemed that way at first, but turned mean.

I didn’t grow up in an abusive home, so why did I keep dating mean guys?  I thought I couldn’t trust my own judgment, that if I found another guy I wanted to get serious about, I’d have to ask my friends what they thought of him first:

Because of my nonverbal learning disorder, I was an easy target for these guys, and easily fooled with my trusting nature.  So they acted like what I wanted until I fell for them, then showed their true colors as time wore on.

My friends and family disliked the guys early on, but said nothing.  After the breakup, they gave their opinions, and I realized they were right, that I’d been blind.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

 

 

Warning: Freeloading houseguests could be “legal residents” of your house

Thanks to various sources–a friend who manages apartments near my house, various letters to advice columnists (such as last night’s Annie’s Mailbox), and Google searches–I discovered that it was very risky for my husband and I to allow Richard and his family to live in our house.

They were homeless, so this was their primary residence for a time, and their mail was sent here.  Since Richard had previously lived in another state, had nowhere else for that mail to go, and had lost his driver’s license, this was the only way that Richard could get a new license–and, thus, a job.  He couldn’t get a job without a license.  Turns out that in many states, this could mean I would’ve had to give them 30 days’ notice, or go through the courts to evict them, if they did not finally leave on their own.  It looks like, for Wisconsin, this was a “tenant at will.”

This is particularly troubling because many times I asked–even begged–Richard to set a date and move out, but he did not do it until he and Tracy decided it was time to leave.  (!!!!!)  Meanwhile, we were cramped and my husband and I were going crazy, because we had ZERO room (not even a spare bedroom) in our 1100-square-foot house, and I am an introvert who MUST have time by myself.  Lots of it.  Daily.  Which Tracy took as a personal affront that meant I could not be friends with her husband without her constant supervision/chaperoning because obviously I could not be trusted alone with him. (!!!!!)

Argh.  Yet because they stayed here for six weeks, and Richard for three months, and this was their primary residence, I couldn’t legally just throw their stuff outside, kick them out, change the locks, and be done with it?  I may have had to send them an eviction notice by registered mail when they lived right there with me?  Or at the very least give them a written notice 28 days in advance?  It’s hard to be sure, because I’ve Googled for hours and can’t get much Wisconsin-specific information for this particular informal situation.

I’m not sure exactly how it applies when neither of them got an actual okay from us for the whole family to move in: From what I recall, I expected them to find some place else, such as a motel.  I seem to recall Richard telling me they were going to do that.  Then I discovered they were all coming to stay, which is not what my husband and I originally agreed to when Richard first asked for a couch on which to crash.  No, he was supposed to stay for a couple of weeks, find a job and apartment, and THEN bring up the family, who were staying with relatives.  Then he tells me his family is coming to stay with us, too, but neither my husband nor I can recall giving him permission.

The very thought of abusive and bullying freeloaders who don’t clean up after themselves, don’t often bathe, don’t give you money for their keep, constantly argue and yell at each other and their children, who have overstayed their welcome with too-nice hosts, being able to control when they can leave, and even sue you if you kick them out and change the locks, is appalling.

And with the state of the economy, and many people hosting homeless friends and relatives for weeks or months at a time, this is an important thing to keep in mind.

Research laws for your state before letting them stay with youHave a written agreement and move-out date before they even move in.

Then I found this post by “aardvarc” on a legal forum:

I know this goes outside the spirit of the holidays, but as someone with a lot of experience with and exposure to situations like this, the reality is that when you have friends or casual acquaintances who are needing a place to stay, putting them up in your own residence really is NOT usually the best option.

You have to keep in mind that there are REASONS why they are being kicked out, and even more reasons why they don’t have ties with parents, siblings, other family members to turn to – and often its because those bridges have already been burned.

If they are turning to friends to take them in, particularly in open-ended situations (ie don’t already have something lined up), it really needs to be a BIG red flag and if you wish to assist, you need to do so ONLY after getting some very fundamental things (like a lease agreement) IN WRITING.

Allowing others to live under your roof often comes with the consequence of providing those others with unintended rights, and resulting legal nightmares should you want them out before they are ready to leave.

Your BETTER option is to get them to a program in the area who can assist them, or give them enough cash for a few nights at a motel until they can get in contact with programs/agencies. Those programs have MUCH more in the way of legal protections (they can toss people out, without eviction) and are MUCH more versed in providing aid (and motivation) to make positive change than most individuals.

It’s really a shame that trying to help others so often results in the helper being taken advantage of – but those with the biggest hearts sometimes get the biggest heart ACHES.

My situation is astoundingly common.  So this–as another poster wrote on a forum–is why so many people don’t take in friends and family who are down on their luck.  :P

Here is a website on Wisconsin law about this, though these are not lawyers.

And this is a general page on letting friends stay in your apartment.

I post this to warn others because it could happen to you, too.