Articles from 2012

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.

–Light’s House, The top 10 most dysfunctional things ever uttered, link no longer works

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. —How do the ptsd symptoms resulting from a narcissist or psychopath’s abuse and bullying meet the criteria in DSM-IV?

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. –Light’s House, The top 10 most dysfunctional things ever uttered, link no longer works


Jealousy Leads to Murder

From the article Husband Charged in Killing of Wisconsin Officer:

An Iraq war veteran told detectives that he stalked his wife for several days while she was patrolling the streets of the Milwaukee suburb where she was a police officer, then ambushed her in the early hours of Christmas Eve and killed her, according to prosecutors.

Ben Gabriel Sebena, 30, was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his wife, Jennifer Sebena, who was found dead in front of Wauwatosa’s fire station by her fellow officers before dawn on Monday. She was shot five times in the head.

During the interview, Ben Sebena “stated that he had been jealous of other men with regards to his wife,” the complaint said.  Less than three weeks before she died, Jennifer Sebena told a colleague that her husband had acted violently toward her and put a gun to her head, prosecutors said.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — An Iraq War veteran accused of fatally shooting his wife, a Milwaukee-area police officer, last year has pleaded guilty to a homicide charge.  Thirty-year-old Ben Sebena originally pleaded insanity to first-degree intentional homicide.

But two doctors agreed that while he has significant mental health issues, they don’t rise to the level of supporting an insanity plea.

Sebena was convicted Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors will recommend Sebena be eligible for parole in 50 to 60 years.

The criminal complaint says Sebena acknowledged ambushing 30-year-old Jennifer Sebena while the Wauwatosa police officer was conducting a pre-dawn patrol alone on Christmas Eve. Ben Sebena told investigators he was a jealous husband and had been stalking her.  —SOURCE


An Iraq War veteran who ambushed and killed his police officer wife last Christmas Eve was sentenced Friday to life in prison for gunning down the woman he called his “one love,” and the earliest he could be eligible for parole is in 35 years……

“What you did was the worst of the worst,” Borowski told Ben Sebena before handing down the sentence. “You took from this earth the person who probably loved you more than anyone, even more than your parents. You’ve shaken an entire community and destroyed two families.” —SOURCE


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”. –Light’s House, The top 10 most dysfunctional things ever uttered, link no longer works

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 this blog: 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.