To provide some context for the following for latecomers:

(You can also read here.)

In my circles, ever since I left college, whether computer geeks or SCA or D&D or work or some of my college friends, it has always been considered perfectly normal and acceptable for even married people to flirt playfully and innocently, sometimes even shamelessly.  It’s okay with my husband, okay with me.

Richard, too, is a shameless flirt, saying naughty things not just to other women but to other men!  He also is a touchy-feely type who is free with his playful or affectionate gestures.

I have other friends, male and female, who are also free with their affectionate gestures to friends.  But always you know that it is only platonic affection, or playful flirting, and that it will never, ever cross over to infidelity.

I just wanted to join in on the fun my more extroverted friends have, who are so free with their shows of affection for friends.  Infidelity, on the other hand, I find disgusting.  The two are not at all the same.

Also, my flirtatious friends have tried to get me to open up with hugs and other gestures of affection and flirting, because of my Asperger-like reserve.

I see nothing wrong with what they do, and I don’t like being the odd one out, where it seems cold, lonely and boring.  So I have slowly learned to go along with them, and have been getting more open with them.

I have also described here how Richard also tried to get me to open up in this way, how he taught me that Americans are too uptight, and that it’s perfectly fine and appropriate for friends to do these things.

I basically followed his lead, but more awkwardly because people with social disorders like Asperger’s or NVLD can find it hard to naturally imitate what other people do:

The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. —Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome

Now, as my husband explained it, people see me as sweet and innocent.  It must be because I’m so quiet and religious.  The sweet image does not amaze me, but the “innocence” does, because I’m no virgin: I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years and have a wicked sense of humor.  People don’t realize that my quiet demeanor hides an active inner life.

Ever since college, I have occasionally shocked people with what I say.  Online and with people I feel comfortable with, I say such things more easily.  I used to have all sorts of wicked fun with my BBS friends in online chats, before BBS’s went the way of the dodo.

But it is just being playful, and the normal response is to laugh in amazement and appreciation that my sweet little head could come up with something like that.  Such as, one day on Facebook when a friend asked, referring to a song lyric, Why DO virgins taste better than those who are not?

(The song is about dragons and why do they always want virgins sacrificed to them.)  I wrote, “It’s the cherry flavor.”  I thought it was bleedingly obvious, but even my husband was shocked and amazed at that one.

Anyway, normally I could say or do something playful and Richard would laugh, but sometimes he’d act shocked, like I’d done something wrong.  Or sometime later, I would hear Tracy was upset.  Or I’d make some silly joke in a chat and couldn’t tell if Tracy was truly mad about it, or just playing around.  Or I couldn’t tell if I’d done something wrong or if he hadn’t even noticed.

Now that I’ve learned about narcissists, I believe he and Tracy were crazymaking me, because it is a common tactic of narcs and abusers to confuse you by being okay with something one day, even loving it, and another day treating it like a terrible offense, to keep you off-balance.

But it made me nervous and paranoid, especially since I never could tell if I was upsetting Tracy or if she was just joking, or, oftentimes, what she was upset about, or with whom.  This was also a small part of the discussions we had in June 2009.

Because of the NVLD, I couldn’t figure out subtle nonverbal communication, which is part of the reason why I needed verbal help where others can just know naturally what to do.  This was unfamiliar territory for an introverted NVLDer.

So I wrote the following, hoping to get Richard’s direct–kind, but direct–verbal communication if I crossed a line somewhere in my humor and trying to be playful like my extroverted friends.

The following e-mails prove that Tracy’s accusations of me on July 1, 2010 were all completely false, because I was her friend, I did respect boundaries, I was trying to please her and Richard, and all the playful gestures/going for coffee with Richard/etc. were okay with her. 

Part of the proof is that here I asked for a signal that she was okay with these things, and I later got the signal:

On July 31, 2009, I wrote to Richard on Facebook,

You don’t need to respond to this unless you want to. I just wanted to get out in the open how I’ve been feeling.

Tracy has responded favorably [to my request for a movie night], just needs some more recovery time [from childbirth]. I have high hopes that watching a movie or two will lead to conversation (probably about girl stuff and giggling over you husbands) and everything between us will be completely healed.

You probably have no idea how I’ve looked over old [forum] threads or remembered old conversations I had with her, or remembered the chocolate dainties and veggie stir fry she cooked for us all, and how I liked her, and cried inside my heart at how things ended up. You can tell her so if you like.

Now, if some gesture meant as sisterly (or cousinly) affection, or some light flirty thing, is taken badly or you don’t like it, please tell me directly!

I’ve just been so sick over the thought that things that meant so much to me, that I have often remembered fondly, have been the cause of so much trouble that I didn’t even know about. It makes me feel, well, squicky.

Jeff does know about them, BTW, and he seems okay with them.

I’m not going to be the one to ask her if sisterly gestures /going out for coffee/ and the other stuff–is okay, because it makes me really uncomfortable.

If/when Tracy’s okay with it, just ask me to go get some ice cream or something, and that will be the sign to me that everything is okay now.

Especially if you suddenly start responding favorably to my hugs on IRC [online chats] instead of screaming and dying (though I think I’d freak out if you started doing the kind of stuff you do to [female on IRC channel, whom he posted he was “sexing”] and the guys in [the IRC channel, whom he also flirted heavily with]; that’s a bit much for me).

I’ll stop feeling squicky over the past, and we won’t have to say one word more about a thing. And any paranoia I have displayed in the past will probably melt away as well.

In the meantime, if you really want to go out for coffee with somebody so badly, why not ask Jeff?  [He had told me, “I really want to go out for coffee!”]

Richard’s reply on 8/1/09:

I thought you were the one who wanted to go out sometime?

And my jokes about melting and dying were upsetting you? I am dense.

She knows about the hugs and whatnot. its all good. The asleep on the shoulder bothers her though. I respect that, as she sees that as a wife/husband thing and relative thing, not a friend thing. We are all wired our own way and I respect that.

But its all good.

My reply on 8/1:

1) Well, yes, I do want to, very much so, but you made it sound like you were dying to go out with somebody, *anybody*. So I suggested Jeff, your pookymunch.  😛 [inside joke]

2) Yes, I’ll hug you and such on IRC and you’ll just sit there or scream, when I was hoping for a bearhug back, etc. You know, signs that despite everything that’s gone on, our friendship is intact. It’s so hard for me to read people at times that words help a lot.

3) The “whatnots” are okay, too? Cool. (Especially since you know I won’t go too far with whatnots. 🙂 Just not that kinda girl….)

I just thought–From what you said, it sounded like she’d be okay with, say, [another friend] doing it [asleep on shoulder], and even join in a cuddle party.

I’ve read about people snuggling with their best buds while watching a movie, and it sounds like such a nice thing, especially since my relatives never did that sort of thing and I guess it left me far more reserved than is healthy.

My roommie Sharon tried to do that with my apartment-mate Tara whenever they were on the couch together, but Tara would cry out and move away, and Sharon would giggle.

Catherine is so free with stuff like that, that I envy her being able to flit around and do whatever she likes. One day she said that she’s been trying for years to get me to loosen up. LOL (She even kissed me on the cheek after we got back from a movie once, and called it our “date.”)

After you explained you do this with your family, I thought, oh, it’s all perfectly innocent and okay. So it makes me feel awful (and squicky) that it all blew up in our faces later. I feel just terrible that your wife keeps bringing it up.

It’s been dogging my thoughts for the past month or so, coming up when I am, say, just sitting around chatting with church members, and then I start feeling like a terrible person who has done terrible things and if these people only knew!–But I don’t want to keep feeling squicky about it. We stopped, after all, and won’t start again without her okay.

His reply 8/2:

No worries, Nyssa.

After these conversations in June 2009, I thought all our problems were over with, that it had all been resolved, that Tracy had calmed down and they had stopped judging me for being quiet and introverted.  I thought this was all part of the past, and worked to leave it there.

I had been sick of the subject for years; actually, it was Tracy who kept the issue alive, when I kept thinking it was resolved, but hopefully now it would be resolved for real.

Note that above, I asked him for a sign when Tracy was finally okay with me and all her restrictions on me were dropped and we could do everything he could do with his other friends (such as these sisterly gestures, going out for coffee/ice cream, etc. etc.).

Then one night, maybe December 2009, Richard and I were chatting online.  He said, hey, let’s go get sushi!  But it was about midnight and hardly the time for it.

This was the “signal” I asked for in the above e-mails!  Tracy was fine with me, considered me her friend, had dropped all the restrictions on me, now allowed me to do everything his other friends could do with him! 

I wrote that I couldn’t go out for sushi this time of night, but let me know when you want to go out for sushi.  He seemed to forget about it the next day, but I figured he was just on hard times again and couldn’t pay for it.  So I reminded him a few months later to let me know when.

Then I saw Tracy hit her youngest child in the head right in front of me, and began hearing her verbally abuse everyone again; I asked Jeff how much more of that I could take; troubles began stirring again.

As if these e-mails never existed, as if these conversations never happened, Tracy would once again claim, in July 2010, that she never “okayed” me as Richard’s friend or considered me her friend or allowed me to do everything Richard’s other friends could do with him. 

She accused me of not understanding boundaries. 

But these e-mails prove her the liar.  I have it all in writing that she “knows about the hugs and the whatnot” and “it’s all good.”

Neurotypicals (people who do not have Asperger’s, NVLD or anything else) are hard enough to figure out when they’re basically nice, pleasant people.

Throughout my life, at times I’ve wanted to scream at how confusing people can be, or how they don’t understand me, or how I don’t understand what I’m expected to do or not do when they do the very same things I’m trying to do, but they don’t get yelled at or get funny looks.

Many times in my childhood I preferred to lock myself away at home or in my room, where I didn’t have to deal with people.

But when they are narcissists/abusers, and are trying to make you think you’re crazy so you don’t realize they are abusers, it’s far worse.

And Tracy had reason to make me think I was crazy: because I witnessed her abuse of her husband and children.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing