Articles from November 2012

Why I Struggle to Let Go of Richard; Also, Musings on NVLD/Asperger’s


Why I Struggle to Let Go of Richard

Others may not understand but it’s all quite simple, really.  My struggle to let go is because a huge part of me does not want to.

I have no trouble letting go of Tracy; if it were just about her, I would no longer struggle with anything.  I have long since processed what she did, seen that her behavior was not my fault and nothing I deserved, and that it’s all her problem and not mine.

I am so happy to have her out of my life that if it were just about her, I’d have been feeling free and happy for the past couple of years.

Seeing her try to get into it again with another nasty e-mail and nasty behavior and trying to intimidate and stalk me–well, I expect that out of her, and it only confirms my decision was correct.

I could never be friends with someone who thinks behavior like hers is somehow okay and justified, who deliberately hurts people.

Such behavior–ripping someone apart and then laughing at their pain or if misfortune befalls them–is disgusting and reminds me of the mean girls and other bullies from elementary/middle school.  And yes, it’s just as mature as elementary school.

My part is to have nothing to do with her and treat her like a tax collector and heathen.  Because even after getting a full account from me of what she had done to me, how she made me feel, and the truth of what had happened and what had been happening, she laughed, and demonstrated a clear lack of regard for the truth or my feelings, or for anything but destroying me.

This is, in fact, exactly how “Edna” on a now-defunct blog claims to have been treated by an abuser:

A few days later, we were summoned to a meeting with B** where I was chastised very harshly and talked to as if all of his assumptions/assessments were right.

When I tried to speak up to let him know what had transpired, I was quickly hushed and told not to speak. He instead spoke AT me, and told ME what had “happened” and what HE supposed out of all of it.

To him, what he was saying was fact and therefore, I needed to listen and just agree that he was right in his assumptions. I was not allowed to share anything regarding the matter.

I have never, ever been treated this way by a secular boss, let alone a Pastor. I just sat there and cried, as my husband squeezed my leg to let me know to be quiet. That was hard.

So, I just sat there and and listened to his version of how he believed the situation had occurred, what he believed the motives were, and it was like B** was the Judge and Jury: case closed. At the end, I was told to drop it and never bring it up again.

Tracy threatened, intimidated, verbally abused yet again, and began to stalk me.  That proved her to have no interest in anything but hurting me deliberately, something which she had already done many times to me.  So I have no interest in having her around.

God (or karma, if you prefer) will deal with her.

Amazing how such people will treat you in such a fashion, then threaten you away from telling about it.  That shows they do realize their behavior is wrong, and don’t want anyone else to know what they’ve done.

Not only did she try to threaten me into silence several months ago, but she tried to threaten me into silence two years ago as well, telling me not to tell my husband about all the nasty things she had been saying and doing to me that morning.

Then she switched into “reasonable, mature mode” (just as she did with Todd when she ripped into him then told the rest of the forum her version of what was going on), and used that to write an e-mail to my husband.

Obviously she wanted to get to him first.  Same as she apparently wanted to get to my priest before I did.  That’s a way to make everyone else think the victim is the crazy one.  Smearing you to others and threatening you if you tell, is called isolating your victim, and is a common abuse tactic.

There’s also the question of, if you think your victim’s pain is so funny, then why do you feel the need to threaten your victim into silence?

I witnessed her smearing all the time: Richard would tell me things she was telling him about me, or I overheard things she told her mother on the phone about me, things that were lies, exaggerations or cuts on my character.

These smears drove a wedge between Richard and me, and I’m sure it was on purpose; meanwhile, I was forced to be friends with her even though I saw all this going on.  I saw her smear Todd, telling everyone on the game forum lies which I could document and trace, because I had it all printed out.

Then there is what she posted on Facebook right after she sent me those vicious e-mails, about how she was having a GREAT day because she finally was allowed to tell somebody things she’s wanted to tell her for a long time–even though her accusations of me were all false.

I know she smeared me to her friend “Chia,” the flying monkey she sent several months ago to spy on my Facebook, because Chia had something in her profile about standing up for her friends when they’re attacked.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she also smeared me to my priest that same day, when I saw them up there talking with him for quite some time.  Probably telling him I was a liar, crazy, and who knows what else.

Smearers adopt the attitudes and behaviors of legitimate abuse victims, making it hard for the hearer to know the difference, because of course people want to help abuse victims.  But the difference is that smearers are lying and distorting, while legitimate abuse victims are telling the truth.

(You will note that I use fake names, and after long reflection and advice from others, reported my concerns to Social Services, long before my story was posted.)

Tracy even falsely accused me yet again, not just in the many e-mails she sent me between 7/1 and 8/4/10 which severely distorted the truth and did not allow me to protest, but in the e-mail she sent me several months ago.

It falsely accused me of threats I never made, and then threatened to smear me as high as the court system if I did not give in to her demands not to tell my story!  A “Christian” threatening another Christian with a lawsuit for telling how she’s been abused!  (See Now I’m Being Stalked for the e-mail and a fuller explanation.)

Because her tactics are so obvious and juvenile, at this point she’s become nothing more than a fly buzzing around the house: just wave it off on occasion.

She can’t touch me, can’t harm me.  I have strengthened my will and my self-esteem, strengthened myself against her, put up a wall against her attacks, so that it no longer bugs me to see them reading my blog, so that she can no longer scare me. She has no more power over me, no control over my healing.  She cannot and does not define me.

She has no business telling me my “faults” until she stops blaming others for her own temper tantrums.  Everything she accused me of, was false.  Every criticism she made of me, was false.  I am not that person she tried to convince Richard I was.

She tried to break my will, but it did not work.  She’s welcome to come here and learn about her abusive behaviors, so she can abandon them.  She’s also welcome to close her eyes to the truth and ignore my blog–and me–completely.  As long as she keeps coming here, I will keep holding her accountable for the damage she has done.

Though my husband and I are both very puzzled why they’re so interested, why they don’t just shrug their shoulders and leave it alone.  They do realize that this counts as contacting me, right?

I’m not contacting them; I do not go to their church or church functions; I do not try to find out what they’re saying on the Net; I avoid online games or IRC chat rooms where they could be; I did not tell them the blog posts were there; but they’re contacting me, repeatedly, by checking my blog all the time.

Okay, they know my version of events and how I feel about them; what else is there for them to look at?  I’ve already stated that I have no interest in using real names here.  Maybe they enjoy reading my rambles, then.  Wouldn’t they soon tire of poking me, since they know I know they’re reading?

What kind of sick game is this, anyway?  Do they get off on the attention, even negative?  Are they trying to annoy me?  They do realize I took off all the IP blockers and it’s no challenge, right?  Is Richard using me as the subject of a psychology thesis?

It’s actually kind of funny because they were never so interested in my point of view about this before…. Could he, by any small, far-off chance, be actually, finally trying to understand my point of view?

So hey, give the readers what they want!  Please my fans!  It increases my blog hits!

Musings on NVLD/Asperger’s

At this point, these blogs are mostly a combination of catharsis and a ministry to others in my situation.  And it’s also a combination of Asperger and introvert traits:

We tend to mull over things quite a bit, and from what I’ve read about Aspies, they can mull over things much longer than other people do.  Here is a conversation on Wrong Planet about this subject.  Here is an article about Aspie rumination over hurtful things that have happened.

Part of it is our long, detailed memories of events and conversations.  They also have certain favorite subjects which they can learn and talk about incessantly, and keep diving into, or perseveration.

Aspies are analytical; I need to analyze it from every angle, just as I do with NVLD, Asperger’s, Orthodoxy, previous abusive relationships, or whatever else is my current special/obsessive interest.

And those interests change, sometimes returning later, sometimes not.  I used to be obsessively interested in Goth for at least four years, for example, but that’s died down since I had a child and couldn’t fit into the clothes anymore.

Over the past 10 years, I have repeatedly, and still repeatedly, analyze whether or not I have NVLD at some times, Asperger’s at others (since I have no resources for an official diagnosis).

I analyzed Orthodoxy for a year before I started going to an Orthodox church, filling a box with Web printouts on the subject (yes, I read them all), and continued analyzing it for two and a half more years before finally making a decision whether to be chrismated Orthodox.

As written in the blog I linked above,

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.

As is written here,

  • 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.

As is written here,

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…..

And here:

Guilt or Regret over Past Actions

There is some truth to the phrase “this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you”. When an Aspie is stirred to the point of outburst and/or meltdown, they can temporarily lose control.

When this happens, invariably something is broken, or something best left unsaid is said. At worst, someone may get hurt or a friendship may be damaged.

The aspie will agonize over this for a long period, often years after the event. The event does not have to be particularly nasty or even large to warrant long term Aspie guilt.

often, I will continue to blame myself for conflicts which others, particularly the victims or aggressors, have long forgotten. It is quite a surprise to me that they no longer think about the event however it still usually isn’t enough to make me lose the guilt.

Carrying an ever increasing amount of guilt around constantly is a fast road to depression.

Heck, ten years after the breakup with Peter back in college, I was still mulling over his behavior vs. my behavior, who was right, who was wrong, did I do anything wrong, etc. etc.  Still talking about it at times with the Hubby.

Then I finished my college memoirs, and–started making edits to them as I kept mulling things over more.  I still go back from time to time.

And not just with Peter, but also with Shawn and with the biggest abusive relationship I was ever in (before Tracy came along, that is), Phil.

Years later, I still revisit those issues on occasion.  I will read about abuse in magazines or on the Web.  I will edit my memoirs, which basically means I’ll put something in or take something out of the public version, or make a new observation in the private one.

I’ll make a comment about Phil on a forum in a thread about abuse or spiritual marriages.  I used to tell Richard about Phil, so he’d know where I came from.

I’ve long since healed from these situations, but because they were so major in my life, I want to write about them.  They go into my fiction as well, in various disguised forms, as all writers do with their experiences.

Though I’m not sure how to fictionalize this experience, because it seems like whatever I could do with it, I’ve already done in previous stories.  Maybe I’ll just let it stand as this nonfiction version.

The more I learn about abuse, the more I reflect on my past experiences, and realize what was going on.  Now, I’m looking back and wondering if Peter or Shawn were narcissists; maybe, maybe not, but Phil was one for sure.

Extroverts and non-Aspies may not understand, but this is just the way my brain works.  I don’t want to change this about myself, either, for several reasons:

  1. It’s the way I am, the way I’ve always been, something about my brain chemistry.
  2. It allows me to continuously reflect on my own behavior and make improvements, while also learning how to recognize abusers sooner.  Because of this, I recognized Tracy’s abusive behaviors right away; I only kept interacting with her because Richard kept forcing me to.  If allowed to follow my own inclinations, I would have severely limited my interactions with her, long before she caused me so much harm.
  3. It allows me to connect with and give validation and comfort to others who have been abused.
  4. It gives me good material for my fiction, makes it more authentic.
  5. It keeps me from sinking into that nostalgia that causes others to reconnect with old boyfriends and then have affairs with them.  No, I do NOT want these guys back as more than friends, even when I do find them on e-mail or Facebook.

It could also be simply what happens when people are abused, because it is traumatic, because many of us are naturally very sensitive, because it’s not what is supposed to happen in loving relationships.

I find so many blogs from others who have been abused and do the same thing, even years later, still reading about abuse, still writing about it, still processing what happened to them and trying to make sense of it, even though they’ve said nothing about Asperger’s.

“Things that are hard for us to understand: manipulation, disloyalty, vindictive behavior, and retaliation.” —Aspergers Traits (Women, Females, Girls)

Part of it is because this is so unfathomable to me, how anyone can be so cruel and abusive to someone who had gone out of her way time and again, had put herself out, to help these people, people who are not even family, but whom I had “adopted” as family.

To someone who has always been described as “kind and caring,” “sweet,” not the kind to hurt others intentionally.

To someone who had been so loving and intensely loyal to my best friend, a best friend who seemed to return my regard.

I certainly could not understand how my best friend could suddenly turn on me.  I remember wanting to scream “WHY?” at him over and over.  The whole day was just so baffling and mystifying.  But then, I have been informed that

They complained about the food you were giving them while they were staying at your house and you helped them with their bills? wow. That’s some kind of arrogance, Nyssa. Real opportunists and users without an ounce of gratitude. Always always watch for “gratitude and remorse.”

Sounds like they used up your resources and instead of expressing gratitude for your generosity, they Put You Down.

They looked for reasons why your gifts weren’t good enough, or why you were mean, or whatever reasons they could find to diminish your generosity.

When people are narcissistic, they resist being seen as needy or dependent. So they “devalue” whatever people have done or given to them and then they don’t feel weak or dependent anymore. —CZBZ

I have to agree with a couple of Aspie bloggers–Aspergers Child [update: link no longer exists] and Woman With Aspergers–about the misunderstandings that arise from saying Aspies lack empathy.

The same is also said about psychopaths and narcissists, so–as I see just from doing Google searches–people keep confusing Aspies with narcissists.  They think we’re dangerous because we “lack empathy” and so do narcissists.

But that’s not it at all.  People “with empathy”–ie, neurotypicals–abuse and bully and misunderstand Aspies all the time.  Sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists are supposedly “without empathy,” when actually they know how we’re feeling–it helps them manipulate us–they just don’t care.

While Aspies may not understand from your nonverbal cues what you’re feeling or why, but once explained, they can greatly empathize with your struggles and pain.

I remember one of my friends in college got upset with me because I did not say “I’m sorry” to her when her cousin died.  I had no idea she was upset with me until weeks later when another friend told me.

My reason for saying nothing was not at all narcissistic or self-absorbed: I cared a great deal for all my friends, and did not want any of them to suffer.  No, I just had no clue I was supposed to say anything.

And, well, men often have trouble knowing how to deal with sad, crying wives; does that mean they lack empathy?  No, I do not lack empathy.

Neither does Tracy seem to lack empathy; she just doesn’t care that her actions and words continually hurt me, and it even obviously brings her pleasure.

(It’s pretty obvious when she writes, “I’m having a GREAT day!” on Facebook, basically smearing you to her family and friends over something you didn’t even do, because she’s just been ripping into you and cyber-screaming at you and now you’re upset and crying and devastated.

(It’s pretty obvious when she writes that “we had a good laugh” at your chronicle of all the fear and anger and pain they put you through.  With her own words, she has pegged herself a sociopath.)

This is why I will never let her back into my life, no matter how much she accuses me of needing to “grow up” and accept her behavior as deserved, no matter how much she says I can’t be friends with Richard without being friends with her.  I will only be friends with Richard, or with neither of them. 

And I will not let Richard back in, either, unless and until he admits that what Tracy did to me was wrong, cruel and undeserved, rather than dismissing it as “a few harsh words” like he did. 

I am so frickin’ disgusted by the way Richard treated me during this whole thing, too, that I’m not sure why I don’t hate his guts like my husband does.  I should, I really should. 

It’s extremely hypocritical of Tracy to treat me the way she has done for speaking up in anger, after the way she treated me, me whose only “crime” was to be shy, quiet, and frightened of a bully.

I felt like poison was being spewed at me but at the same time, I was surprised how calm and rational I was able to remain. I refused to accept the abuse and told them as much.

I was able to stand up for myself in a way that I never could have before I began to heal. I could see that what they were doing to me wasn’t my problem.

I didn’t ask for it or deserve it. I was just the current target but, they soon discovered, no longer an easy one. As difficult as it is to realize that some people can no longer be in my life, if they can’t give me the basic respect that I deserve as a human being—they don’t belong there. —Standing Up For Myself: Reclaiming My Self-Worth

I could swear I’m regressing into old behaviors.  I’m escaping into special interests and spend most of my free time with them as they cycle from one to another.

The special interests don’t expect me to talk when I have nothing to say; I can speak when I wish, and I have much to say on those special interests.  I used to chat with friends a lot more on Facebook; now I barely speak to anyone.

Orthodoxy had waned because of the breach with Richard making it all remind me of him, until I found a friend at church who brought it back out again.  I would speak with this new friend on Facebook about Orthodoxy and remember again why I loved it.  But now I barely even say anything to him.

It reminds me of when I was in school, before I went to college.  Even my mother noticed that I was far more relaxed in the summertime.  During the school year, I’d have to deal with social issues every single day, which was very taxing.

During the summer, I stayed at home all day, away from the mean people, where it was safe–after my bully brother left home, that is.  This retreat is basically a very old means I’ve used to get away from the stress of socializing.

I struggle even more with eye contact even with my own husband.  It used to be fairly normal with him, except when he’s angry and I’m too scared to look at him.  But lately I can barely look at him even when he’s speaking in a normal conversation.

My eye contact is regressing to old ways, when I could barely look at anybody at all.  It was highly unusual that I could hold eye contact for so long with Richard, which is probably why I–back in 2007/2008–felt I could “read” him so well.  I could hold eye contact so well with him, more like a “normal” person, while with most people it’s a struggle.

I have to remind myself to look.  I recall back around 2000, reading an article about how to properly hold eye contact, since I knew I had a severe problem with that long before I ever heard of NVLD or Asperger’s.

I used my newfound knowledge while discussing each day’s task list with my boss (I was a secretary).  I was so proud of myself for holding eye contact with him, but without staring: You have to break it once in a while so you don’t freak out the other person.

With Richard, I still would usually look away while speaking so I could concentrate on thinking of what to say and saying it, then look at him as he spoke.  But I’ve read this is how people normally do it.

Struggle with how Richard and Tracy treated me because of my NVLD/Asperger’s/Selective Mutism

Another thing that was different with Richard, was that somehow, my selective mutism vanished with him.  When we first met in person, my usual chattiness on the phone froze up, but a day or two later, he broke through my reserve and we could talk normally again.

He got me going on music, then all of a sudden we just looked at each other like, “Whoa.  We broke the ice.”

My give-and-take in conversation was perfectly normal with him, is perfectly normal with my husband.  If I could talk to a guy on a first date, I considered him a keeper.

For me to talk with normal give-and-take with anyone, tells me I’m with a kindred spirit.  It doesn’t happen often, you see.  It’s a huge relief, and I want to be with that person a lot, whether it’s a friend or a boyfriend, because I can talk to him/her.

And Richard enjoyed the conversations as much as I did.  It was like a miracle.

Which is one reason that Tracy’s wall-like refusal to allow me to have selective mutism around her, was so frustrating.  Not only did her angry insistence and constant punishments and bullying of my silence cause me to freeze up even more from the pressure and the resentment it caused in me….

But she seemed to think that because I could do normal give-and-take conversation with her husband, who shared most of my special interests and much of my background and seemed sweet and gentle to me, that of course I must be capable of doing it with her.  But I was not.

Normally I can warm up to people over time, while still being generally quiet in a group of even close friends, but she was far more frightening than your average person.  Back in school, I had avoided girls like her, making friends among the nice, sweet, gentle kids of both sexes.

She had no appreciation or understanding for the fact that by forcing me to be friends with her or I lose Richard, that I could only be friends with him on her good pleasure, she was taking away the most precious, most “normal” friendship I had with anyone since college graduation scattered my friends around the state.

She was taking away the one person in my city, besides my husband, to whom I could talk normally.

(Even my college friend Catherine in the next county, despite our years of friendship, I never could speak to with such fluidity.  My college friends to whom I could talk like that, had moved far away.

(My other local friends, though I e-mailed them on occasion, had drifted away around 2002, probably because I refused to shun another friend they had trouble with, and kept inviting him to parties and games.  I used to make fellow local geek friends easily through local online BBS’s, but those vanished with the rise of the Internet.)

It was so ludicrous as to be ridiculous that Richard and Tracy would refuse to believe I had NVLD or Asperger’s, that I was anything but stubborn, simply because Richard could pull out the “normal” side of me.

The side that was so normal that I could not only manage to talk to him on the phone, I would willingly call him wanting to talk for hours, and would actually often make arrangements with him for get-togethers!

You realize how extremely rare it is for me to easily talk on the phone with anyone, even longtime friends? to call someone regularly to make arrangements for anything?  Did they really think that the way I was with Richard, was somehow “normal” for me?

(In high school, just calling to order a pizza was beyond me!  In college I finally was able to do this, but imagine how hard it was to use the phone at my jobs: school library, first clerical job, second clerical job!  For routine calls, I soon got used to it, but if I was dealing with an unusual situation, the old terror began to creep in again.)

Richard also seemed blinded by the common assumption that to have Asperger’s you have to be a severe Sheldon-type, to have visible autistic behaviors, when researchers are now finding that Asperger’s in females presents very differently than in males (I identify with a majority of the traits on the lists on that site).

Females are more socially adept and their obsessive behaviors more diverse and “normal” (ie, a mix of unicorns and fairies and other “girly” things, rather than being obsessively fixated only on trains).

I also took that Baron-Cohen Autism-Spectrum Quotient test in August 2010, and scored 33–much higher than neurotypicals are supposed to.

As the results read, “32-50 is very high: Most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 35.”  “Average” was 11-22, with most women scoring 15.  Above average was 23-31.  In fact, NVLD and female Asperger’s sound so similar that I often wonder if they’re related.

In my teens, I did have the occasional girlfriend who would tell me some tip, such as that I needed to say thank you after she gave me a ride, or point out my lack of eye contact, clues which would help me start to do better.

But for me, being told by my psychologist (who also gave me social tips) in 6th grade to “have a slumber party,” made me think, “And who am I supposed to ask?”

This list of female Asperger traits fits extremely well with me: I match a large number of points in each section.  For example, “Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything continually.”  My results are A–90%, B–100%, C–85%, D–62.5%, E–76%, F–78.6%, G–90%, H–78.6%, Exec–25%.

Teachers called me “unique.”  Having Asperger’s/NVLD is not an unwelcome label for me; it’s far more welcome than “weird,” which I got labeled with in school.

It helps me understand why I act differently than others, that I’m not “weird,” just wired differently, and helps me recognize the many gifts that come with Asperger’s/NVLD.  It’s not “dysfunction,” it’s just Linux rather than Windows.

The funny thing, the poetic justice, is that despite all Richard and Tracy’s pooh-poohing of the NVLD/Asperger’s, my webpage on NVLD is getting hits practically every day–people who will spend quite a bit of time on it, look at it several times in a day, then come back again and again in following days to the same page, either bookmarked or typing things in Google such as “nvld,” so I know they’re looking specifically for it…..

Obviously people are connecting with it and finding it very helpful.  It gives me the same thrill as seeing keywords like “hobbitholes blog” for my blog, showing that people are connecting with things I post here.

So the struggle is not about Tracy, but about Richard

No, my struggle to let go is not about Tracy.  It’s about feeling forced to break off a special, important, golden friendship with my best friend for the one mere fact that he’s married to Tracy, and Tracy’s behavior had become intolerable.

The break wasn’t about him.  His friendship was far too special and important to me to want to lose for any reason.

In fact, the arguments arose during a time when I was trying my dangdest to fix the friendship with him because he was suddenly being mean to me and I didn’t know why.  I would try to talk to him, spend hours late at night talking to him or reading books trying to understand why males behave the ways they do, hoping that it could be fixed.

I had no clue why Richard was being so mean to me lately, just that it had been going on for weeks when I’d thought all our past problems had long since been resolved (including Tracy’s issues with me), and made me doubt our friendship, made me say to Hubby, “Are they really my friends or is it all just a facade?”  (This article on gaslighting might explain things somewhat.)

No, the friendship with him was only broken because of Tracy’s rule that friends with Richard must hang out with and be best buds with her, too, and she was just not the sort of person I wanted in my life.

She was ruining my self-esteem and peace with her constant little snarks at me and deliberately mean treatment of me and of others, my loyalty to Richard would flare up when I saw her bully him, my love of the children would burn when I saw her doing things like smacking them on the head, and I could not have her around anymore.

So you could say the friendship with Richard was only broken out of respect for Tracy and her rules.  If it hadn’t been for her rules, we only would have broken relations with Tracy.

So that’s why I can’t let go of Richard: Because he was not, was never, the one I wanted to let go of.

No, if I felt I had the option, I would have continued to fight to restore the friendship with him.  I had no clue why he was being so mean to me lately, and it seemed that we were finally getting to the point where things between us were back to how they used to be.

The morning Tracy spewed her venom all over me and crowed in orgasmic pleasure over it on her Facebook wall because of a misunderstanding which she refused to believe was not what she wanted to think it was, I had only just been ecstatic because it seemed Richard and I had finally patched up our problems.

But no, this was a huge WTF moment, her pleasure over my mistake and all the vicious crap she pulled that day and afterwards, a moment when I looked evil full in the face.

For two years I have cherished a hope that one day, things would be different, and Richard would come to my husband and me looking for reconciliation.  Why should I do any different?  He was not the reason we broke off the friendship, though his behavior that day, and the threatening e-mail a few days prior, contributed to it.

I had no desire to end the friendship with my best friend and spiritual mentor.  We had been close friends for five years!  I had no reason to think that the breach between him and us had to be permanent; he was the collateral damage.

It’s perfectly normal for friends to miss each other even long after a breach and want it to be repaired.  It just means that you cared that much.  I’m also aware of old girlfriends coming back to him years later.  He has that effect on people, whether male or female, platonic or romantic, of getting a tight hold on their hearts.

I’d like to go to him, always wanted to, but I can’t.  Before, I couldn’t because Tracy was so insistent on being right and getting her way and not allowing me to even tell her she had it all wrong, that she wouldn’t even allow me to talk to him unless I allowed her to rant and rave and verbally abuse me even more than she already had, without letting me have a say.

(Yes, extremely controlling behavior–and exactly like the shunning that many abusive churches use to “discipline” members who speak out and/or leave.  Such as Beaverton Grace Bible Church.)

I was sure that if I did try to repair things with Richard, she would hit me with a restraining order.

Now, I can’t go to him because he has shown no signs of repentance or remorse for the things he himself did, and no signs whatsoever that he has any compassion at all for me for how Tracy continues to treat me.  He has to show those signs before any reconciliation would even be possible.

So basically, he has to be the one to make the move, or I will just be set up for more abuse.  You’re better off alone than with friends who abuse you.  This repayment for my many kindnesses to them, makes me want to hold my purse strings much tighter and not let anyone crash at our house.

I tried very hard to forget him.  His own betrayal of me was both shocking and angering.  Then his criminal case after the breakup, and his behavior several months ago, were very disappointing, very angering, showing that maybe I had been deceived in his character for the five years I knew him.

(He had admitted to abusing the kids, but he said it was in the past, that he didn’t do that anymore, that he was now protecting the children.

(Though it is true that when his friend Chris complained about his own wife smacking his kid on the head, Richard and Tracy both began joking about smacking kids on the head being “normal” discipline, which gave me pause, especially since I saw a teeny girl being smacked and then Tracy said she does this to her all the time!

(And especially comparing the enormous size and strength of the father compared to those young children!

(Just because some people in some cultures have abused their kids in the past out of ignorance of what it does to the kids, doesn’t mean modern generations should copy them.  Lucy asked on Room With a View how Italians can be so kind but so violent.  I suspect it’s because their mothers smack them on the heads!  Violence breeds violence.

(I discovered from an episode of Donna Reed that even back in the 60s, they knew fear is no way to discipline children: Their son Jeff complained, did they really want him to start jumping to do what he’s told the first time he’s told?  He said the kids he knew who did that, were afraid of their parents.  This is not how Donna and Alex Stone wanted to raise their children, in fear.

(Also, the common response that “I was abused/belted/got my brains smacked around, and I turned out fine,” or “I deserved it,” is actually Stockholm Syndrome, and not the truth.  Not only is it Stockholm Syndrome carrying on abuse to the next generation to scar it as well, but no, you did not turn out fine.  You turned into a mean, selfish person who bullies people much smaller than you are, to get your way.)

How can you know a guy so well for five years and still not know him?  It is hard to imagine.  It’s also hard to imagine why someone who hates me for being a whistleblower, would–for the last several months–be reading my posts which have absolutely nothing to do with the situation between us and them.

Why would he care what my politics are?  Why would he care that Thanksgiving went well, or that my son broke his wrist, or how my birthday went?  Why would he care that I finally found out the titles of some shows I watched in childhood (which I had asked him about)?  Why is he so interested in my story about Shawn from 20 years ago?

It brings me hope again, hope that maybe somewhere in his heart he recognizes I got shafted.  That I was mistreated and abused.  That it’s hypocritical of him to expect me to just take whatever Tracy throws at me, but I’m not allowed to be hurt or offended or angry or tell her to leave me alone.

That I’m telling the truth and never made the supposed “threats” Tracy accused me of.  That I had no intentions of revealing their names on my blog.  That anyone would react the way I did to the criminal case.  That I did the right thing in order to protect him and his children.

It brings me hope again that he wants to find peace with my husband and me one day.

I don’t know how else to take it, because I clearly mark those posts as having nothing to do with them…..

Why is he showing so much interest in my life?  (Not that I can be absolutely certain that it’s him, but I can’t imagine Tracy being at all interested in those posts.)  I hope it’s because he still cares.  If so, I hope he will soon try to make things right with us.

But if not, if he’s not at all the kind of person I used to think he was, if he’s actually heartless and evil and violent and vindictive, then I hope that he goes away, because it’s cruel to keep me hanging on, to keep me connected to him, cruel to keep me imagining that he is a good person when he’s not.

Stalking like this is one thing narcissists do to their prey; I see this happen to other abuse bloggers all the time.

I suppose it’s like so many parishioners or congregants who hear that their beloved priest/pastor is a molester, or abused his children, or is spiritually abusive, or is dipping into the funds: They don’t want to believe it, and instead turn on the whistleblower as being an evil gossip who wants vengeance, or money, or whatever.

I see this in two ways: as Richard’s response to me, and as my response to Richard.  Richard turning on me, the whistleblower, as an evil gossip.  Me having a hard time believing that Richard is actually evil, even when a mountain of evidence stares me in the face.

Such as when he came to my church right after being convicted, and I watched close for any signs that he might have repented of nearly killing his daughter, and be working on changing his abusive ways.

Because even though several times I thought for sure he was out of my heart, even though that day last October I hated him severely for choking his kid, reacted the way anyone of any decency reacts to someone doing such a horrid thing–just seeing him brought the grief back again.

Even though his behavior these past several months, going along with his wife’s revenge schemes and displaying sociopathic tendencies, made me so furious with him that I thought for sure he was out of my heart for good, a few months later the grief came back.  After trying so many times to root out any philia I still felt for him, I finally just gave into it.

The question, of course, is what I should do about this.  I really don’t know.  One thing, of course, is to get more active about trying to get together with friends and chat with them on Facebook, as tempting as it is to dive into yet another website about Asperger’s or whatever I’m obsessing over at the moment.  We are planning on getting more social with a couple we really like, one of them an old friend whom we lost track of for a while.

But giving up hope of Richard one day realizing just what he’s done and that I was a kind, sweet, loyal, giving friend who deserved absolutely none of his or Tracy’s nasty treatment? of him remembering just how good and kind of friends we were, that we went far beyond the norm in helping his family, and realizing how he screwed it up and then kept stabbing in the knife?  I don’t think I can, nor do I want to.

(I mean, come on, I’m just writing stories of my life and what I’m going through, no different from when I or Richard or anybody else would post on a forum about life or problems.  It’s also no different from an autobiography or abuse memoir, just on the Web instead of in a book.)

Even my old high school bullies and abusive exes have apologized to me eventually and restored some sort of amiability.  If they can do it, so can he.  And I also know some things about his history that show he does occasionally try to make peace with ex-friends or girlfriends.

So it could still happen…eventually.  My husband is a huge pessimist, but I’m an optimist, and don’t ever want to become a pessimist.

It is comforting to read more about Asperger’s and find that not only do I most likely have it along with NVLD, but it also explains why I–for my entire life–have ruminated over past abuses, traumas and breakups so long that others start getting annoyed with me.

It’s comforting to find that no, there’s nothing “crazy” about this, there’s nothing “wrong” with me or my character, it’s simply one of the natural drawbacks to having Asperger’s.  And writing has always helped me, especially writing which is meant for others to read, such as my college memoirs and little bits of my life which I stuck into my fiction.

I see his interest in my life in what he reads, things which he must know, from the title, have nothing to do with him.  If Richard really wants to lay down his arms and make peace with my husband and me, he’s welcome to do so any time. 

We can talk it out and work things out if he wishes.  Then he won’t have to stalk my blog to find out what’s going on in our lives. 

If not, then I wish he’d just leave me alone to heal in peace, so I can recognize his true nature and forget about him.

We adopted our dog from a shelter.  He’d been abused as a puppy.  He adjusted well into our family, but it took time and love.  He still is nervous if a stick is held near him or if someone touches his tail.  He can’t forgive and forget. —Asperger’s Child: I can’t just forgive and forget [link no longer exists]

One of the most troublesome aspects of autism and Asperger’s can be the tendency toward repetitive thoughts, also referred to as stuck thoughts or ruminations.

While this trait is probably tied to the ability toward extreme focus that can be such a strength for those on the spectrum, it’s a problem when individuals can’t shift away from thinking about things that are not of their choosing.

Often, individuals get caught up in worries, dwelling on past slights from others or their own mistakes or have problems letting go of past traumas. —Repetitive Thinking and the Autism Spectrum

2) We are innocent, naive, and honest. Do we lie? Yes. Do we like to lie? No. Things that are hard for us to understand: manipulation, disloyalty, vindictive behavior, and retaliation.

Are we easily fooled and conned, particularly before we grow wiser to the ways of the world? Absolutely, yes.

Confusion, feeling misplaced, isolated, overwhelmed, and simply plopped down on the wrong universe, are all parts of the Aspie experience. Can we learn to adapt? Yes. Is it always hard to fit in at some level? Yes. Can we out grow our character traits? No….

We may have sought out answers to why we seemed to see the world differently than others we knew, only to be told we were attention seekers, paranoid, hypochondriacs, or too focused on diagnoses and labels.

Our personhood was challenged on the sole basis that we “knew” we were different but couldn’t prove it to the world and/or our personhood was oppressed as we attempted to be and act like someone we were not….

We may hold grudges and feel pain from a situation years later, but at the same time find it easier to forgive than hold a grudge. We might feel sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt us. —Asperger’s Traits (Women, Females, Girls)

Support groups, especially in anonymous weblogs, are the first step to diffusing the power of abusers. Others who have experienced covert abuse, know the truth. We share experiences and validate each others’ stories.

Abusers expect their victims to keep the secret of the abuse, colluding with them to hide the truth. They know that hiding the victimization gives more power to a shameful experience.

By hiding the abuse, the victim takes the shame of being abused, owns it, and becomes ashamed. Conversely, unveiling shame gives it right back to the perpetrator, where it belongs.

Of course, abusers will try to scapegoat the victim and portray themselves as the injured party, sometimes successfully. That’s why it’s so important to understand the scapegoat mechanism,to recognize it in all its disguises….

It helps to ruminate over the experience and turn those WTF? moments into AHA! moments. Once you understand the basics of shame and envy, you remember each memory from a different perspective.

The lies are revealed and the life you thought you had lived is reinterpreted. Memories become a new experience, filled with new meaning. Reality gives you back those years you had lost to lies.

The blog community, again, is a great source for triggering memories and helping to separate the truth from the lies you once believed….

Perhaps what psychopaths envy most, is our connection to God and community. Competition and rivalry is what they understand, but how do you appropriate someone’s ability to trust?

Psychopaths have a solution for that: If they can’t have it, nobody can. They plot to disconnect us from our ability to trust: in God and in humanity. They understand that if they can take away our faith, we become as alienated and soulless as they are. That’s their goal. —Steps to Healing From Domestic Abuse [Psychopaths]

Here’s a very helpful comment, from SlimOne, to the above quoted blog post:

I find it interesting that after so many years (about 5) I continue to think about the sociopath that gave me the reality slap. I am OK with it. And find, as you describe, that reframing continues to take place.

Initially I tried to keep myself from thinking about him. I worried that my rehashing was crazy and obsessive, and an indication that he was ‘winning’ and I was, conversely, losing.

Plus, in the beginning it was SO painful. But over time I found myself in a therapeutic place with it and many of the puzzling and WTF? moments WERE transformed into Aha’s!

I like that you included this as part of the healing path. It can often be overlooked, or seen as self-inflicted pain, that is simply ‘not getting over it’, and obsessing over the loss. And don’t get me wrong, it FEELS that way, initially. But with more knowledge about these pathologies, it takes on a different function.

Yelling and Swearing at Children is Emotional Child Abuse


Why I keep my blog up despite threats

You can start a blog tomorrow entitled “**** is a big, ugly jerk”, and devote that entire blog to expounding upon your belief that I am a shiathead, asshole, and motherf**ker.

But unless you actually say I did something bad that I didn’t do, and I can prove you knew it was false, and that your intent was malicious, and that I was harmed – I have no case against you. —Comment from Fark article about lawsuit against Julie Ann Smith

Exactly.  This is why I’m safe: I don’t go spreading lies about people.  I certainly don’t go posting lies on my blog.  I also don’t go naming people even though what I say is true.  If that’s what they’re looking for, they’ll never find anything, so they might as well quit.

For an abuser to actually win such a case would have a chilling effect on abuse bloggers all over the Net–and on free speech itself.  No, we need to keep speaking out on what’s happened to us.

From Recovering Grace, a blog about abuse, addressing the question bloggers often get, “Why don’t you just move on and stop being a victim?”

 Sound familiar? What I want to know is this: Who says that those of us who write against spiritual abuse, using our own pasts, aren’t moving on?

Do they think that writing about what happened, about our own stories, means that we’re still stuck in that place? -That we cannot “get past it?” Why does it have to be either/or?…

Think about it…

How can you write about healing without first talking about brokenness?

How can you proclaim victory without first speaking of defeat?

How can you claim freedom without first describing bondage?

How can I “comfort those who are in trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” if I cannot speak of how God has comforted me?

How can I speak of salvation without talking about what I was saved from?

How I praise God for His forgiveness if I cannot remember for what I was forgiven?

I cannot. It just doesn’t work that way. —My Personal Response to Why Don’t You Just Move On?

Justice suffers from flashbacks.  Sometimes Justice would read a story from my blog and it would trigger his/her own memories from the past.  Justice would re-live what had happened to him/her all over again.

Sometimes it would take days to get rid of the memories so that the day could begin fresh.  This has happened time and again since reading my blog.

It’s hard, but it’s pushing him/her one more step to healing.  As time goes by, the flashbacks will diminish and be replaced with a calm peace with only a distant memory of the pain.  But at least the pain will not overwhelm anymore.

When you have experienced emotional trauma in your life, one of the most scary feelings is the sense of being alone.

The cycle of triggering memories and re-living the pain has been difficult, but it was very helpful to finally realize that while Justice had once felt alone in these memories, reading the stories of others made him/her realize that he/she was not going crazy and imagining these situations.

These experiences he/she read about really did happen to others and it made Justice realize he/she was not alone.  Even though the stories I have posted may not have occurred at the same time as Justice’s experiences, there was an emotional connection with the person in the story….

That is what this blog is about and I have been wonderfully thrilled to have a small part in this “gathering” place and discuss what was never, ever to be discussed.

People, if you have never experienced spiritual abuse, you need to really get this part of the picture – the emotional scars of spiritual abuse can take years and years to heal and only prolong in silence.  In order for healing, the truth must be exposed and the heart needs to feel safe to heal. —Justice: Becoming Free

It’s true: Reading abuse/narcissism blogs and even just living my daily life, hearing a song, hearing a phrase, will bring flashbacks to the horrible experiences with Richard and Tracy.

But at the same time, as Julie Anne wrote, it’s leading to healing.  Repression keeps you stuck; pushing through the pain eventually leads to healing.  It happened with my past abuse experiences.

Or is it just normal after narcissistic abuse, and not NVLD/Asperger’s?

But here’s a blog by someone who has been in my place with a former narcissistic friend, and three years later, is finally in a place of not caring anymore: Missing Pretend Guy

From reading that and the comments, maybe it’s not about Asperger’s at all, but simply what happens when you’ve befriended a narcissist.  They’re a lot harder to get out of your system than a “normal” person, because, as the writer put it in a comment,

I appreciate your friends telling you to get on with life…but what they don’t realize is that the N has sucked the life out of you, it is hard to know where to start.

It is like when the Dementors (a Harry Potter analogy here) suck the life out of a victim. No, this was no normal relationship, and the break ups keep happening.

It is certainly true that I feel the life was sucked out of me.  Before Richard came, I was in a period of loneliness and isolation, having left my job to take care of my child, and all the people I knew there.

We also changed churches because my husband felt spiritually abused, and the doctrine had turned very Calvinistic.  Nobody contacted us afterwards.

My husband had a falling-out with one of our friends, her husband stopped coming to D&D games, and my husband struggled to keep a game going with the couple who was left.  We struggled to make friends at our new church.

Yet in general, my psyche was in a fairly normal state.  I had my usual hobbies and household tasks keeping me busy and contented.  I had a new obsession, Orthodoxy, and Richard and I had become great friends over the phone; I would tell him about my new Orthodox church and the experiences I had in the process of converting.

I began to make friends at my new church, because of the way coffee hours are done there, making it easier for introverts.  I was getting better at body language and conversation, though I was still quiet.

Then Richard moved in, and everything seemed absolutely wonderful, because now I had a close friend who would be living right here in my town!  It had been many years since that happened.

But at the same time, the constant dramas in his life put me on an emotional roller coaster.  I was very empathetic, crying when he cried, listening to his many complaints of being abused, not just then but while he lived with his wife and family.

He also started criticizing little things that were simply the way we do things in our house, or little things about me, things that were none of his business.  Then Tracy moved in and the drama stopped being outside of my house, and now all came into my house.

It was all very draining.  Yet when he moved out three and a half months later, I cried and felt like I’d lost a huge part of what made my house a home.  I couldn’t stand to watch TV, couldn’t stand to go online, just wanted him here with me, to talk with.

Over time that got better, but I still felt constantly drawn to be with him, like a magnet.  I thought it was because he was such an awesome person and we were two peas in a pod, drawn to each other, close and dear friends, like brother and sister.

But then he began to act–different.  He didn’t seem to treat our friendship as quite so important as he used to.  Little things made me paranoid.  He became more cutting and critical.

In 2009 or 2010, he complained about having to “pamper” me and began telling me things I did not know about him before, say there were things he’d want to say but not say.  It made me really begin to wonder who he really was.

And when the friendship breakup came as a result of Tracy’s verbal abuse, I felt lost and alone.  I was devastated; nothing could make me happy; I was torn to pieces, and questioning everything about myself and about our decision to end the friendship.

I’d read about Orthodox forgiveness, and it sounded like I was supposed to repent and beg for forgiveness even though I had done nothing wrong, even though it’s very wrong to require the victim of abuse to debase herself to her abuser.

Everything I saw, everything I did, every movie, every song, even my faith, reminded me of Richard or of Tracy’s accusations, so I could not get away from them.

The slightest trigger would send my brain into a constant spinning of wheels, like a mechanized track it had to follow until it worked its way back out again to a conclusion; I had to remember, ponder, figure out.

I think it took about a year for these tracks to stop, probably around the time I finished writing my account of what happened and could just re-read it if I started on a track again, and again find the conclusion I found before.

I trusted only the people I already knew, constantly afraid to make new friends, because they might turn out to be just like Tracy, or rip out my heart as Richard did.  I even had terrible migraines that didn’t go away.

As they say, I felt like the life had been sucked out of me and nothing was left to keep me going.  And it wasn’t just because of him, since I had two narcissists preying on me, him and Tracy.  It’s no wonder I’m still processing it two years later.

Often you read about escaping a narcissistic lover or family, but here, finally, is an account of escaping a narcissistic friend.  She suffered just as I suffer, but now the suffering is over.  So it can happen, given time.

Like one of her commenters, I often wonder if I only suspect my ex-friend of narcissism to make myself feel better, if he really is what I thought he was, sweet and gentle and loving and such, but he’s got Stockholm Syndrome so that’s why he’s been acting the way he has.

But then, it’s often noted that a narcissist, in the “honeymoon period” of your relationship (romantic, platonic or work-based), will mirror yourself back at you, which hooks you.

I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt–if he ever asks for it.  But be more watchful and careful after that–and not allow either one of them to watch my child again.  Tracy, on the other hand, I have no doubts to be a malignant narcissist, so she would never get a second chance with me.

Shrink4Men on the removal of the Psycho Ex-Wife blog:

One of the things abusive bullies, high-conflict people (HCP) — whatever you want to refer to them as — fear most is exposure. They will fight tooth and nail against having their misbehavior exposed.

These types equally fear the loss of control. PEW probably represents both fears for Ms Morelli; exposure and loss of control.

Imagine the rage if your abusive ex, wife or girlfriend discovered that you read Shrink4Men and posting comments describing her toxic behavior here.


Who knows, maybe the flashes of pain and sadness and grief over Richard, rather than anger, are actually part of a process of forgiveness.  As Christina Enevoldsen writes:

I continued to write and talk about my anger, fear and pain. One day, after months and months of processing, I woke up and actually wanted to forgive my mom and dad. I was shocked. The day before, I hadn’t felt anywhere near being able to forgive. Suddenly, I was prepared to drop of the baggage of offense.

Once I made that decision, I felt lighter, freer. I wouldn’t have believed how much of a difference it made.

Forgiveness didn’t mean the end of my pain. Actually, once I forgave them, I felt the most intense pain of my journey so far. Forgiveness opened my heart to compassion and understanding of them (not excuses for their behavior) and a view of them in a more balanced way.

In my anger and hatred, I only saw them as evil people without any redeeming qualities. Since nobody is all good or all bad, that was one of the lies I used to try to protect myself.

Once I admitted to myself that my parents actually do have good qualities, I started missing them terribly. I really wanted my mommy! This is a journey of finding the truth, so even though the truth brought pain, I welcomed it since it also brings healing.

I’ve worked through that pain now and I know the forgiveness brought me more strength. I don’t feel tied to the abuse like I used to. I always had the knowledge that I was stronger than the abuse, but the forgiveness process left me actually feeling stronger than it.


My Translation of a French Section of a Letter From Peter Abelard to Heloise

The same year as my friendship with benefits with Shawn, 1992-1993, I discovered the story of Abelard and Héloïse in Humanities class.

Short form, the great medieval lecturer and thinker Abelard fell in love with beautiful and brilliant young Héloïse,

ingratiated himself with her uncle,

became her live-in tutor,

got her pregnant,

married her secretly,

stuck her in a convent for a reason I don’t quite understand,

then her uncle thought he’d cast her aside, and had him castrated.

Abelard’s passion still went on for a time, but eventually subsided for obvious reasons, while Héloïse still burned for him.  They both entered monastic orders, and exchanged a few love letters which were preserved for the ages.

I felt kinship with Héloïse for burning with a passion she was not able to satisfy, because of Abelard’s castration and their monastic vows.

I felt kinship because Shawn and I believed in no sex before marriage, but we were doing things which are meant to lead up to it–so I burned with passion I was not supposed to satisfy.

Yet, just as for Héloïse, it was hard to repent of things which I still remembered with pleasure.

For almost 20 years, I longed to read the letters themselves, not just about them in a textbook.  Finally, I found them on the Internet.

My translation came from Letter III in the Editorial Appendix, which included a section which had been kept out of the English translation for being too racy (it was a 1722 translation)–but this section was in French.

As I wrote on Facebook on October 20, Why do old-fashioned English texts not translate French for us?  I have to translate an entire passage of one of Peter Abelard’s letters myself and I need a dictionary for it, dagnabit.  But then, it is revealing some interesting stuff: He and Héloïse did what in the corner of the convent’s refectory?

Here is the translation at last:

However, to sweeten the bitterness of your sorrow, I would still like to show that what happened to us is also useful and just, and that by punishing us after our marriage and not during our living in sin, God has done well.

After our marriage, as you know, and during the retreat to the convent at Argenteuil, I came secretly to return your visit, and you returned the excess of passion I bore toward you in a corner of the refectory (dining hall).

You know, I say, that our immodesty was not stopped even out of respect for a spot consecrated to the Virgin.

Had we been innocent of all other crimes, did not that one deserve the most terrible of punishments?

I now recall our ancient stains and the shameful sins which were before our marriage, the indignant, guilty betrayal of your uncle, by me, his guest and dinner companion, so shamelessly attracted to you? Wasn’t his treachery just?

Who would be so rotten as to judge otherwise, on the part of the one whom I first outrageously betrayed?

Do you think that an injury, a suffering of a moment, is sufficient punishment of such huge crimes? What do you think? Do such sins deserve such grace?

What injury could expiate to the eyes of divine justice the profaning of a place consecrated to His holy mother?

Indeed I greatly deceive myself, or an injury so beneficial does not expiate these faults as much as the ceaseless afflictions to which I am subject today.

You also know that at the time of your pregnancy, when I made you go to my country [Brittany], you had put on the sacred habit, taken the religious role, and that, by this irreverent disguise, you pretended to be of the profession to which you belong today?

See, after this, if justice, if divine grace had reason to spite you by thrusting you into the monastic state; she who profaned the habit had to expiate the profaning.

You know to what base acts the fury of my passion willed our bodies; neither respect for decency, nor respect of God, in the very days of the Passion of Our Lord [Holy Week] and of more holy days, could tear me away from the cesspool I wanted.

You didn’t even want it, you resisted all my force, you reprimanded me, and when you had protected yourself from the weakness of your sex, did I not eventually use threats and harshness to force your consent!

I burned for you with such a heat of desire, that, for this foul sensual pleasure of which even the name makes me blush, I forgot all, God, even myself:

May divine leniency save me in another way than by forbidding all sensual pleasure? Compare the malady to the remedy. Compare the danger to the deliverance.

Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters; I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him; the Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke: Or, How NVLD Affected My Life–March 1993, Part 2

Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters

Spring Break was Saturday, March 20 through Sunday, March 28.  I had a lot of homework over the break, including a paper for my Space presentation.  But I also had time to start reading First Love by Turgenev, which I found in the Campus Shoppe in the textbook section, and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, the same woman who had written Mysteries of Udolpho (from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey).

I drew pictures of the characters.  For The Italian, I based Vivaldi on pictures I found in a World Book encyclopedia article on Italy, and I based Ellena’s nose on a picture of a Grecian nose.  (This matched her description.)

My friend Becky saw the picture of Ellena and said she looked just like Eleni Andros Cooper, a beautiful, Greek character on the soap opera Guiding Light.  I had never seen this woman before.  (Cooper, by the way, was played by Melina Kanakaredes, who later starred in Providence.)  My pictures are below:






I didn’t want to go back to school.  I didn’t know why.  Maybe I was just tired, and one week was not enough rest.  I was sick of my problems.

I wanted a guy, but at the same time I didn’t.  I wanted James, but at the same time I wanted to wait for things with Shawn to work themselves out.

Since Peter and I could now say “hi” to each other again, that wasn’t the spirit-zapper.  The culprit was probably the whole Shawn-situation, from start to present.  As I wrote in my diary, part of the problem was his judgmental attitude about me:

judging me to be what I’m not and/or certainly don’t intend to be, and saying his own opinion of me turns him off, even though his own opinion sounds so faulty to me and to so many others…

but just the fact that he’ll ask me over to play let’s-pretend-we’re-going-out, then tell me, as soon as he’s gotten what he wants, that he doesn’t want me.  How does he expect that to make me feel?!

Then he’ll criticize me for this and that, even when his own so-called ‘advice’ is probably not appropriate or even adapted to me!  How can he know what’s right for me?  I just get so angry.  I cry out to God for help and comfort.

So finally, I was furious at Shawn, which was necessary to help me break free of him.

I was so depressed that I didn’t want to do much of anything, except escape to the world of books.  Except for music, videos and probably writing, no other worlds appealed to me now.  I wished I could put studying and working on hold for a while.

But back to school I had to go.

It was time to apply for a work-study job for junior year.  To apply, you checked off the jobs you wanted out of a list on a form.  I did not check off Food Service.  I preferred the library, but had to apply for two other things as well.

I interviewed for all three.  The two clerical jobs didn’t interest me as much after the interviews.  I interviewed for the library job on April 27.  I was one of the first people to interview, if not the first.  The head librarian said she usually gave the job to the first six people who showed up.  So I was in, and of course, I took it.

It was just what I wanted: a job with my beloved books, where I could do homework when nothing was going on.  When I did have something to do, it usually involved books, magazines or newspapers.  And I could wear whatever I wanted to, even shorts.


MTV came out with a new cartoon, Beavis and Butthead.  Ren and Stimpy became more of a kids’ show, and was soon supplanted.

At first, I didn’t like Beavis and Butthead, especially after they executed a grasshopper with a chainsaw and sliced up Beavis’ hand.

I saw the infamous episode which supposedly inspired some kid to set fire to his house, and was never aired again.

It was funny to hear the fire-obsessed Beavis say, “Fire!  Fire!  Fire!”

In another episode, he watched a video of a fire-engulfed guy running down a street (“California” by Wax).  He could only sit there in convulsions.  After the show got censored, he said, “We’re not supposed to say that word.”

The show drew lots of criticism, even though it wasn’t meant for kids, so it soon got censored heavily.  Nowadays, after so many years of shows like South Park, you wonder what the fuss was about, why they gave in so readily to criticism.  So somebody didn’t like the fire references–so frickin’ what?


One day, in an 80s flashback show, MTV showed the Police video “Don’t Stand so Close to Me.”  Now I was old enough to understand it, and even knew that “the famous book by Nabokov” was Lolita.

The VJ said that when the song came out, there had been a big controversy about whether or not students should date teachers.  The final decision was that it’s okay if the teacher doesn’t have that student in a class.

This was only one warning sign against pursuing Wesley.  Along with what happened to Craig, there was another: An episode or two of Class of ’96 showed one character sleeping with her teacher and getting in trouble for it.

I don’t know when my friend dated Wesley–it could have been fall semester–but it’s funny to think I had so many warning signs, while she just went ahead and dated him.


On Friday, February 12, I wrote in my Media class journal about a new video Clarissa and I had just seen: “Funky Ceili” by Black 47.  VJ’s said the song was popular with young people, though I only heard it on MTV and Chicago’s Q101.

Clarissa and I loved it because Black 47 was an Irish band.  Here we’d just been learning about Irish culture over Winterim, and this video comes on using words like “da,” “porter,” “stout,” and “jigs and reels.”

The music mixed traditional Celtic folk instruments with modern rock stylings.  And the song was funny.  Clarissa and I got to watch the video quite a bit over the next few months.

The song was about the lead singer’s ex-girlfriend.  He lost his job, found out she was pregnant, and had to tell her “da.”  The da gave him two choices: stay in Ireland and get castrated, or go to New York.  (What about a third option: marrying Bridie?)  At least, that’s the story in the song.  The singer lamented over losing Bridie and wanted her to come to New York.

I thought it was sweet; I hoped the video would get them back together; I wondered if Bridie was the girl in the video.

Years later at Summerfest in Milwaukee, though, I picked up another CD by Black 47, and read in the lyrics to “Green Suede Shoes” that “Bridie” got the singer into deep trouble with Bridie and her family.  Also, reading the real story in the singer’s autobiography, showed that the only resemblance to reality was her name.

I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him

Diary entry for March 30:

I’ve, just today, recorded “Jeremy” and “Ordinary World” (the videos), back to back.  Why do I like them so much?  Because they’re me, for one thing.

I like the second one because of Clarissa, first of all, but maybe my subconscious picked up on the personal meaning before my conscious did.

“Jeremy” is me in my childhood, especially elementary school and junior high.  “O.W.” was me right after Peter, but now it’s me with Shawn.

You should’ve seen Shawn tonight at Bible study.  I was half-hoping he would come.  About twenty minutes into it, he came, and I cringed.  I kept my jacket closely wrapped around me in the cold room, to hide my figure.  I had trouble looking at him or laughing at his jokes, especially at first.

Then he started a long speech that started off with, “The big trouble on this campus is acceptance.”  I looked at him as he talked–right into his eyes, because most of the time he was looking right at me.

I remember this more than what he was saying, but I think he was talking about such things as people wanting to be accepted, and people avoiding and not wanting to talk to certain individuals (even then, I didn’t see the connection).

Clarissa tells me that another time, when she thinks I was looking down instead of at Shawn, out of the corner of her eye she saw him staring at me.  Then he saw her, and looked away.  I might’ve caught this, even, by glancing up once.

I never greeted him or said good-bye.  I was thinking and hoping he might either try to talk to me afterwards or call me up later, but it’s 12:34 and he didn’t do either.

When I told a friend my plans to avoid him, she said, Yeah, treat him like you did Peter, and see if he comes after you; if he doesn’t, you’re better off….I think he might.

And she also said, when I said I thought I saw signs that he liked me, “You probably did.”  But she can’t figure him out, either.

Why do I believe him so easily?  I feel so gullible….Once, when I rushed downstairs (where he was) to go to the bathroom, he said “hello” (maybe to be funny; we’d been in the same room for 45 minutes already), and I said nothing.  –12:43am

It doesn’t matter how long you pray, but that you do it and that you get something out of it….

I have to act this way so I can see if Shawn comes after me and proves to truly be my friend.  But I hope he does so soon!

Oh, the agony of my heart, seeing him help Pearl with her crutches without being asked, and hearing them talk about a couple weeks ago when he lifted her scooter out of a snowdrift, with them not being around to tell him a much easier way to do it, pushing a certain button.

Seeing a guy do such helpful things, like when Peter helped the blind girl, seems to be high on my subconscious list of what makes my heart go pitter-patter….

Sometimes, the friends you’re always with know you better than you know yourself, or else why bother asking them what your faults are?  So I trust the opinions of my closest friends.

But Shawn isn’t with me so much, and he’s proven himself and admitted himself to be wrong about me in one way or another, so why trust him over Pearl, Rachel, Sharon or my roommate Clarissa?   –1:59am

Diary entry for March 31:

I saw Peter yesterday [by the Campus Center] and said hi, and I think he smiled and said, “Hi, how ya doin’?”–except I had my headphones on, and I don’t think I caught it in time to answer.

What I want is for Shawn to realize how much he’s hurt me and that it’s going to take something special to fix that.

Tonight at dinner, Shawn was sitting at the same table as I went to sit at.  When I got to my strawberry shortcake, everyone but him and Clarissa had left.  Then she got up, probably to take her tray up.  She thought I might not like being left alone with him.  She seemed to be away for a long time.

After a silent minute or two, during which I ignored him and ate my cake, he said, “So how ya doin’, Nyssa?”

I sat silent for a moment, contemplating whether or not I should answer, then I shrugged my shoulders as a half-answer.  Then, to make sure he knew I had answered, I mumbled, “not too good.”

After all, I’d just come from a meeting with the counselor, which mostly dealt with my relationship with him.

Then Clarissa came back, and she thought he seemed to want to get away.  (She also didn’t see him stare at me during dinner; it seemed to her that he was trying to avoid me.)

He said to her, “Are you going to stay here and keep Nyssa company, Clarissa?  ‘Cause I have to go.”  I grumbled, “Don’t let me keep you.”

Yes, I was offended.  [My translation of it was] “You’re not secure enough to eat by yourself; somebody has to keep you company.”

It’s not just what he said, but a compound of things he’s said in the past in different situations, that gave me such an impression, such an interpretation of what he said now.    –1:03am

My counselor wanted to talk with Shawn to get his side of the story, and he agreed it was a good idea.  He was supposed to show up at one of my counseling sessions, but never did.  He later gave some reasons, I forget what, but it upset me.

The Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm

On Wednesday, March 31, there was an ice storm.  At about 9:30 and right in the middle of the latest episode of Star Trek: TNG, most of the power went out, leaving on only our two desk lights.  Then even they went out.  Soon after that, the water went out because it came from a well and required a pump.  The rooms grew cold.

We all gathered into the suite lounge.  I brought my afghan and can of pop, put away the bag of M&M’s I was eating, and sat on the couch with my rechargeable flashlight ready for use.  Our suitemates put on coats and snuggled into blankets.

Daphne, the RA, got freaked out all alone in her suite, and came over to ours.  My suitemates lit candles, contraband but useful.  A couple of guys dropped by and kept going in and out of the suite.

Some guy we didn’t know looked in the window and said something.  Daphne told Clarissa to shine her flashlight in his face and ask what he wanted.  Clarissa did; he said something else and left.  It was funny.

I’ve mentioned before that Georgina, a sweet and beautiful girl with a gorgeous soprano voice, was unfortunately still hung up on her ex-boyfriend, the brother of my pledge sister Jennifer.  He called and told her about a tornado warning, so we searched for information on the radio.  We found none, so we assumed there wasn’t one.

This was Hell Week; the fraternity and sorority pledges kept shouting their little chants and making noise.  Somebody probably yelled at them to shut up, a common thing.

The ice storm had trampled down a wire, and a transformer blew up.  Only the emergency lights in a few buildings were on.  We were told the transformer probably wouldn’t be fixed until three or four the next afternoon!

We prepared for a night and morning of no electricity or water.  At least Clarissa had two milk jugs of spring water, so we could wash our hands after using the toilets.  The toilets started filling up and getting really nasty.

We played a game called Outburst, then went to bed, Daphne staying over.  I went to bed a little after 12, and had been asleep for about half an hour or more when light woke me up.

Was it morning already?  I looked at my watch–it was only 12:56am!  The power had come back on, after all.  I went and flushed one of the toilets, Clarissa and I plugged a few things in, and we went back to bed.

We expected our classes to be cancelled, the same as for the local public schools, but they weren’t.



Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:


Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD traits; School Scandal–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1993, Part 1

School Scandal

On the 1st, I noted in my diary the one-year anniversary of the physical relationship with Shawn, since it started on Leap Day, 1992.


Crystal Pepsi came out around this time, and I tried it.  I believe it was much like Pepsi–but I didn’t like Pepsi.  I drank it just to find out if it truly tasted the same, despite being clear.  It soon disappeared from the market.


During one of my counseling sessions, I said Shawn always tried to change me, but I wouldn’t change unless I felt it necessary.  The counselor called that a healthy attitude.

I now read Hermann Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund, which I found in the Campus Shop.  This book was a great help.  I read it late at night, while Alternative Nation was on, the room was darkened, and my roommate slept without her hearing aid.  Sometimes, the window was open.

This late-night setting and the book itself took me to a place where boy trouble and other problems didn’t matter.  One character, Goldmund, made observations about life that I’d made myself, or agreed with.  I kept seeing myself in Goldmund, a budding artist looking for himself.  He wandered the German landscape, a metaphor for restlessness and wandering the landscape of life and self.

The book was set around the year of the Black Death, so Sting’s new video, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” was timely.  (This video was set in medieval times.)  Funny how I didn’t much care for the song when I first heard it on the radio, but after I saw that video, the song became one of my all-time favorites.

Goldmund’s passion sounded like mine: He loved to draw things, such as people’s heads, and make up animals, just as I liked to draw heads and make up alien languages.  Like me, he thought love was more important than anything else.

The swarming fish on page 186, poking their heads up to eat a piece of bread, reminded me of the fish at Indiana Beach.

(Those fish would eat anything you tossed at them–even spit.  This is Indiana Beach, though in those days it was just a little amusement park with short lines and cheap rides, no resort, no water park, no campgrounds, no Adventure Point.  Though I see they still have some of the same rides, such as the Seadragon and the Galaxi.)

On page 195, his tendency to forget everything about the world while engrossed by his drawing and endless walking, reminded me of myself when I was deep into reading, writing, or thinking.

After one of these late-night readings, I wrote this poem:

The music of the night
drifts through my window,
The gentle wind and soft, earthy smells,
the warmth and the insomniac birds’ songs.
Each note carries a hint of oneness
with everything.
The song of the ages,
the melting together of all experience,
The one song all romantics hear.


We often found chalk drawings and messages on the sidewalks, advertising campus events or put there as pledge pranks.

Once, the Zetas made chalk outlines showing some pretty horrific things: heads removed, limbs removed, hands or feet removed.  They were also pretty comical, since it was obviously a joke.  One of these chalk drawings was of Paul and his dog Maizie.

The college now had a young social sciences teacher named Craig.  One day, we found chalk protests written all over the sidewalks: “Save Craig!”  The college had decided not to allow him back the next year.

I didn’t know Craig or the reasons for his dismissal, so I didn’t get involved.  I heard rumors, but they weren’t confirmed for me until 2006:

Rachel knew a senior girl who got involved with Craig.  He was single, she was about to graduate, and he was fresh out of graduate school (therefore, they were close in age), but the college refused to relent.


Darryl decided to leave the Zetas over problems he had with them.  I don’t remember now what all they were, but he was upset that minors at parties would be given alcohol.  There were probably other things as well.

It was a big surprise, and even my sorority friends were glad.  A week or two before, he and Steve even came to Bible Study.

Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits

On March 20, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

But it seems like, in the past couple weeks, [Shawn’s] mood has darkened and he’s even avoided me a few times and gotten upset at me for one thing or another.  If we were going out, I’d say we were headed for a breakup.  Instead, the friendship is threatened with breakup.

I do find it interesting that this happened after our physical relations had ceased.

On Tuesday (the 16th), when I was telling him the good news about me finding myself–through my time alone at night reading, writing and listening to music, and something he’d wanted me to do–he somehow turned the conversation to yet another list of my “faults.”

He seemed to have a gift for that, even though he didn’t seem to be such a good judge of character as he thought he was.

It was a long list, and I must say he later apologized for unloading all those things on me at once.  He said these were the real reasons why he didn’t want to be my boyfriend, and that the reasons weren’t going to change to different things, like they had so often before.

The things were very much condemning of me as a person.  It devastated me because I wanted to be a good person who cared for others, helped them, was considerate, was sweet and kind….

But he made me sound like an evil bitch who treats people like dirt.  I felt like a terrible person, and thought I recognized those things in myself, but he gave me a hug of support as I tried to “change.”

He told me I should ask my friends for the specific examples he didn’t have time to give, and suggested things I should say.  So you see I was in a receptive mood, willing to accept and change faults, wanting the truth and not people’s consoling words.  He did this now, so he said, because I had an outlet in counseling.

So, after class when I went to see the counselor, I told her what he’d said.  Her reaction made me begin to doubt him, but I still felt like a terrible person.  I even tried to convince her that what he said was true.

She couldn’t see me being those things, but I still felt I had to see what my friends would say before I’d completely change my view.  If I really was an evil witch, then I wanted to change it, not listen to people tell me I wasn’t really like that.

I talked to Pearl for three hours in the Phi-Delt room after my night class (Astronomy), and really began to doubt his impressions.  She said maybe some things were based on misunderstandings.

He’d said other people had the same impressions but were afraid to depress me by telling me, even though they were still my friends; Pearl said maybe he misunderstood them, too.

I also spoke to Clarissa, who knew me better than anybody else on that campus, being my roommate for many months now–and even she disagreed, felt that he was being mean to me.

I asked, “Do you see anything wrong with the way I treat you?”

She said, shocked, “No!”  I think she even cried a little.  She couldn’t figure out why Shawn would say these things.

I tried talking to him on the phone the next day, to find out who I was supposed to talk to and what I did to make him think these things of me, but he accused me of badgering, and it turned into an argument.

So I stopped speaking to him.  I just couldn’t stand speaking to him when I didn’t even know why he was friends with such an evil person as me, if he even was my friend in the first place.

He said he was, but the reason he gave wasn’t enough to reassure me: He just said, because I wanted him to be, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered trying to be one.  So, I was such an evil witch that he wouldn’t have even been my friend in the first place if I didn’t want him to be?

And he couldn’t give me any concrete examples to make me understand what I did that was so evil, or give me any guidance on whom to talk to?

The one to speak to is the one I offended, not a whole bunch of people in a kind of Russian roulette to find them, that lets everybody on campus know what he said to me!  How is it “badgering” to get some answers so I can understand what I’ve done and how I can change it?

Because I had no intention of behaving so evilly to anyone, and had no clue how I possibly could have come across that way, no guidance, no memory of evil intentions or behavior to work with.  You can’t change if you don’t even know what you’ve done!

I needed the truth, I needed answers, I needed plain-speaking Rachel.  I didn’t want to get mad at Shawn for simply telling the truth, if it was indeed the truth.  If anyone would be blunt about my faults, she would be.  Even when everyone else would sympathize me about something, she would say, “Well, it was pretty stupid for you to do that.”

So next, I went to her, not telling her who the person was.  But she just widened her eyes at the list of faults and got upset, saying, “This person doesn’t really know you.  They’re probably trying to hurt you for some reason.”

She and, later, Sharon did tell me what they personally thought were faults, but they were things done by normal people, not evil witch crap like what Shawn listed.

Sharon thought he was playing with my mind.  Sharon said she could only answer for her own feelings, not for his; Pearl pointed out possible misunderstandings and how I could prevent them.

I figured these were the main people who would know, the ones I spent the most time with.  They gave me enough things to work with already, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by going to people I didn’t know as well and telling them what Shawn said.

Rachel said not to take the things to heart, that he just didn’t know me very well, but I still cried myself to sleep Wednesday night.  

I loved him, both romantically and, most of all, as what I thought was my best friend.  But this made me feel so upset and betrayed that I couldn’t talk to him.  I didn’t want him to even come close enough to touch me.  

My heart was broken again.  I think I loved him far more than I ever had loved Peter.

He had also complained about me writing in my diary everything that happened between us.  He thought special memories should be kept in the head and not written down.  

It was an odd idea that I’d never encountered before, because even special memories begin to fade over time.  In fact, if I hadn’t written these things down, these memoirs would be far less detailed, because I had forgotten so much!  

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that.

After writing in my diary what happened between us Valentine’s Day and the following Monday, I wrote, as if I were addressing Shawn,

See, Shawn, I wrote both things down, finally.  And if you’re going to be like this, I hope they’re the last ‘rendezvous’ I’ll ever have to write about concerning you.

Maybe math-brains just don’t understand the writer’s need to record even the most special memories–which we don’t want to fade….

Besides, these memories are all a part of me–so I’m not about to burn them or let them fade.  I’d lose a part of myself that way….Let’s see what kind of a friend you really are, Shawn.

The things he accused me of, can also easily be explained with NVLD:

Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.

The child who cannot “read” these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant. This child is none of the above.

Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information. —Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

One of his complaints over the past many months was having to wait a long time for me to answer a question.  That would probably be the NVLD, Asperger’s, and/or introversion, all of which can cause this trait, which I had always had; I have to think of what I say before I say it.

There was the time he snapped at me and called me rude for not picking up his hints that it was time for me to go home–when I caught none of them, and only heard him continuously ask me, “So what else is up?”–making me feel obligated to come up with some answer, until I finally snapped back that I was going to bed now.

He was always criticizing my shyness and reserve, when to me this was all I had ever known, and it was just as impossible for me to change it, as it is for a horse to take on zebra stripes.

He was always criticizing my hair, when I wore it that way (plain and long) because I liked symmetry, hated the feel of bangs, hated short hair, loved long hair, and did not like perms or the other hairdos of the time.  (Hair back then was still very much 80s-big hair.)

He criticized me for not wearing makeup, as if my own face were not pretty without it, when I did not like the time it took to put on makeup, and felt fake with it on.  (This was coming out of the 80s, when makeup looked very artificial, unlike now when it’s more natural-looking.)

He criticized me for not dressing sexy, when I had always been so modest that even my mother told me I should show off my figure more.  I was raised Nazarene; I did not like to show too much skin.

He criticized me for not wearing jeans, when I found jeans to be too rough against my skin, and could not stand that (an NVLD thing, with hypersensitivity to clothes).  I also did not binding, constricting or tight clothes because of how they feel against my skin, so I could not dress “sexy” in the way he would like.

And because I was not just like all the other girls, did not look like the other girls, did not dress like the other girls, did not act like the other girls, I was somehow not attractive to him, this person who could not look beyond the surface and see my natural beauty and uniqueness–but would use my body whenever it suited him.

He could not appreciate me for me, a creative, sweet, smart, loving, caring, loyal person, with a different perspective on life, who would spend my summer drawing genies and reading books and writing about desert islands, rather than reading romance novels, hanging out at the beach, working on my tan, or partying.

He could not appreciate that I would not be the kind of girl to take all his money, or be jealous of his female friends, or spend all my time at the beauty parlor/spa, or yell and scream at him and blame it on PMS.

He could not appreciate that I could spend my summers happily translating German rather than running around on him, that I would be a cheap date happy with fast food and a movie rather than some expensive restaurant.

He could not appreciate that I had faith just as he did, that my mind was full of wonder and questions about that faith, that I would study theology for fun.  Instead he said he couldn’t love me because I believed in ESP (even my pastor believed in ESP) and was too “tolerant.”  He wanted me to be like all the other girls rather than like myself.

And now he was making me into a horrible, selfish, self-centered, spoiled brat as well.  All I knew was that I tried to be good, tried to be nice, tried to think of other people, left the biggest piece of cake for the next person, just went on my merry way thinking I was harming no one, only to get accused of all these horrible things by Shawn.

I knew that I tried to let him take the lead in our relationship because of his ambivalence, out of respect for him, but then he would come over or ask me over and want me to get physical with him, so I would give in to all sorts of things he wanted me to do, to please him.

Then he would accuse me of starting things and get angry with me and tear me down, treating me like some kind of evil seductress.

It felt like what he thought was me, was actually some other person, not me at all, no matter how much I tried to protest his unfair opinions and analyses.  And it was both baffling and heartbreaking.

So if his opinions of me were totally unfair and showed a lack of knowledge of who I really was, then the thing keeping him from dating me beyond a “friends with benefits” relationship, falls down flat.

I think Shawn, for all the times I thought we had talked about ourselves and connected, closed his mind to the kind of person I really was.  He rejected me for things he said I did, but which I didn’t do at all.  He was prejudiced against me for something I was not.

The biggest question is why he would do this: Was he afraid of falling for me and then having to leave me as he did his ex-girlfriend?  Was it because of his brother’s illness?

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

As I Witnessed, Abusers Control Spouse’s Friends/Family

I’m not the only one to suffer isolation from loved ones as a tool used to force me to accept abuse.   As I wrote about in Emotional Blackmail, The Incident and The Fallout,

Emotional blackmail: That’s the term for Tracy’s demand that I accept her verbal abuse of me as my due, and sit and let her scream and yell at me in person about all my “faults” and all the “horrible” things I had done, or else I never am allowed to speak to or e-mail Richard again.

Basically, she was to change nothing about herself, while I was to change everything about myself and grovel at her feet, or else I lose what I thought was my best friend.

My ex Phil also tried various ways to isolate me from my friends, coming up with the excuse that they were dissing him for being Catholic, when in reality they hated the way he treated me.

When his constant complaints to me didn’t work, he got angry at me for not sticking up for him against them, when I never saw them dissing him.

He got angry at me for not supporting him, when they saw he was trying to passive-aggressively embarrass me, told him he was wrong–and I agreed.

He even got his best friend to help as his abuser-by-proxy, telling him that my friends were treating him badly.

The best friend then told me that not only was it the way to get Phil back, but a moral imperative, for me to distance myself from my friends!  My best friends, people who are still my best friends, good people, people I lived with, who had helped, supported and stuck up for me all through college!

This is all in my College Memoirs, junior and senior year installments.

And it matches up with Tracy’s treatment of Richard, involving me or his family or friends.

All I know about one of Richard’s old friends and Tracy, is that they were “at war” and Tracy got angry when she discovered Richard had been talking to her.  I know that this friend warned Richard before he married Tracy that Tracy was going to cause him trouble.

I know Richard felt he had to support Tracy when Tracy began abusing and smearing Richard’s close friend Todd.  I know that there was another friend who fought with Tracy and finally broke off her friendship with Richard because of it.

I know that Tracy complained about Richard’s family, especially when one day she was mean to him over the phone, they told her to stop it, and she got mad at Richard for not sticking up for her against them.

I know, also, in the situation I referenced above, that Phil did the same to me when he tried to embarrass me, my friends stuck up for me, and he got furious with me–and broke up with me for the second and final time–for not supporting him.

It all fits together, all follows the same playbook which abusers and narcissists follow, yet Tracy’s response to my writings about this is to accuse me of “false facts” and accusing an “innocent” person. That, too, is part of the abuser’s playbook, as abusers refuse to see themselves and their actions for what they are.  No, no, the victim is to blame!

Another unnamed blogger is in the same place.  His father, like Tracy, refuses to accept that he has abused, refuses to repent and reconcile to his victims.

Instead, he has forced his wife, mother of this man and his brothers, to cut them out of her life.  She is not allowed to contact them, just as I am not allowed to contact Richard (which, by the way, is precisely why I wrote these blogs instead of a letter to Richard).

Maybe if Tracy and this man’s abuser were to allow communication between their victims and abusers-by-proxy, this man’s blog and mine would never have happened.

This man’s mother and Richard are obviously both afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome.  The abuser-by-proxy which Richard became of me over time, was so different from the sweet, caring, sensitive, kind, open man he was when he alone lived in our house, that I had to wonder if he was the same person.

The friend who used to share everything with me, called me the most awesome person he knew, loved to spend time with me, became closed, short, cutting, critical.  And I am also afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome, because I still care about him after the things he’s done.

The other blogger’s mother is also a victim of all sorts of abuse from his abuser, according to the blogger.  I have witnessed Richard being verbally abused and angrily smacked by Tracy, only to later hear from him those classic victim lines, “I deserved it.”  I also know, straight from Richard, that Tracy punches him and verbally abuses him and the children.

Yet he defends her to me, pretends that even when she verbally abuses me and even desires to physically assault me, she is somehow in the right, even accepts the ban on communication between him and me, because that is what Tracy wants.

Just as the other blogger’s mother tells her children that she hates them and refuses to communicate with them or her grandchildren, because this is what the abuser wants her to do.  And no, this is NOT okay.

This is isolation.  Not only does it isolate the blogger and his brothers from their mother, not only does it isolate me from Richard–it goes even further:

It isolates the closest abuse victim, the spouse, from those who see the abuser’s actions for what they are.  And when the spouse agrees with it, the abuser has won, gets the spouse into complete control.

After all, if the spouse were to still communicate with the ostracized, estranged family member or friend, he/she could open his/her eyes and see what’s really going on–and leave!  The abuser can’t have that, now, can she/he?

The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended.

In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed “all their eggs in one basket”. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence.

The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive.

At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual. –Joseph Carver, Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser

The above is exactly what happened in my situation with Richard and Tracy.  First I recognized that what Richard had told me about Tracy, was true, as I witnessed it playing out in front of my eyes and ears in my own house for six weeks.

As soon as Tracy realized I recognized her for an abuser, I became her victim as well, as she tried desperately to control me–and Richard allowed it, even made excuses for her, became her abuser-by-proxy.

He seemed to forget everything he had told me as soon as she arrived, to begin making excuses for everything she did to him, the children and to me–except at isolated moments, when he admitted what she was doing was wrong.

I remembered those moments, remembered everything he told me, kept e-mails and made notes.  I even have a draft of an e-mail I wrote to my mother months after they moved out, complaining about some things he had just said that condoned screaming at children and yelling at one’s spouse.

And this after he’d complained to me many times about Tracy screaming at and verbally abusing the kids and breaking their spirits and making them cry, and her mother doing the same thing to the kids and the two of them yelling at each other to stop it.

And this before I heard him scolding Tracy for screaming at the kids, in May or June 2010, while we were at their house.  I felt gaslit every time he made me feel as if I’d imagined his words, but those isolated moments would remind me that I did not imagine a thing.

You see it also happening with that other blogger.  Even though he has witnessed his mother’s own brutal abuses at the hands of his stepfather, she refuses to believe that he is an abuser.

She became the blogger’s abuser-by-proxy, cutting him off from her even when he begged for her to communicate with him, just as I was cut off from my dear friend and spiritual mentor Richard–as Tracy said, with his consent.  The blogger’s mother is obviously consenting, as well.  It doesn’t make it right.

The worst part is when the spouse makes this into some sort of perceived societal requirement.

For example, 1) If the wife tells you your friend is a horrible person and you must separate from her, you must do as she asks out of respect for her, even though your relationship with that friend is and has always been platonic.

She might spin in her head all sorts of reasons why that friend is trying to get her husband into bed, as justification.  Or maybe it’s a male friend she claims was rude to her.

(Such as in the latest episode of Big Bang Theory, when Amy became Director-Zilla, Wil Wheaton snapped at her, and she got angry with her boyfriend Sheldon for not automatically taking her side.)

For another example, 2) The husband is appointed by God as the head of the household, so the wife must submit and obey without question, even if that means cutting herself off from her own children and grandchildren.  To do otherwise would defy not only her husband, but God himself!

You see how easily such beliefs lead to isolation and abuse not only of the friend who was perceived as a threat, but of the spouse expected to follow these “rules.”

This is why I maintain that, while supporting your spouse is generally a good thing, if your spouse is abusing you or another person, you must refuse to support and participate in that abuse.  Otherwise, you gang up on the victim, and become an abuser yourself.

This is also the belief of Anna Valerious, author of the blog Narcissists Suck:

The narcissist appeaser, the self-anointed and so-called peacemaker, is as immoral as his master. He is a pagan priest who will gladly slice your throat or rip your heart out of your chest if it will buy time, peace or prosperity for himself.

He is as demanding and capricious as his N god; he must in order to thrive in the narcissist environment. Know it and plan accordingly. —The Pagan Priesthood of Appeasement

As I write this, the example that I am reflecting on is my own father. He is a living representation of the ultimate cost of peace at any cost.

Don’t picture my father as a obsequious, weak man. He is nothing of the sort. He was a man of strength and forthrightness at one time…a long time ago. This was a man who would never stand by to watch some stranger get attacked and he not intervene. With fists if need be.

This was not true, though, with his own children. He seems to have had no perspective where it concerned how his wife was…and how she treated his own children.

He saved his pity for her. He made allowances for her bad behavior because he believed her childhood explained (and justified) her bad behavior as an adult.

Because he made these allowances for the perpetrator, he was not able to see his way clear to protect his children from the beast. Because he pitied the perp, he ended up consigning helpless children to her abuses.

He loved my mother above all else. His children were unwanted and annoying appendages to his idol, my mother. He tolerated us because he loved her.

This also made it easy for him to demand of us better behavior than he expected from a full-grown woman, his wife. He only ‘loved’ us when we were invisible or when we performed as he expected us to.

My father today is a bitter, angry, cynical man. His mind gradually poisoned by Worm Tongue against his children and extended family.

I have evidence in his own writing that he has surrendered his integrity in order to keep peace with the devil. His moral compass is so broken that he feels righteous and justified to demand of me, his grown daughter, that I too capitulate to the selfish demands of his infernal wife.

He sees me as the problem because I will not bend over and grab the ankles in order to ‘make peace’…like he has.

Yes, indeed. The price for peace with a villain is very high indeed. It has cost my father much. He has lost every one of his extended family members.

He has lost at least one daughter. All he has left is his evil wife. And, perhaps, the one daughter who greatly resembles his evil wife, my sister.

Was it really worth defending the indefensible all these years? I highly doubt it. I have seen clear indications that much of the time he can’t stand to be around my mother.

They live separate lives. He speaks impatiently and angrily with her much of the time.

There are times when he is tender and indulgent with my mother. These are rare times when she has managed to use enough of her feminine charms to soften him.

He is not a happy man. He has paid out too much of his soul, though, to cash in his chips. He will stay with her to the bitter, ugly end.

Count carefully the ultimate cost of ‘peace at any and all costs’. It is very steep. In the end, all you will be left with is the cold comfort of your pretended integrity and righteousness minus your soul. —The High Price of Peace at Any Cost

Richard informed me once that Tracy insisted on being friends with his friends, that she had to put the friend through an approval process, that it wasn’t just me.  Most people, he said, she approved right away.

(Oh, it makes me feel special that I had to jump through all sorts of impossibly high hoops!  Especially when I was the one providing her with food and shelter while she was homeless.)

She got furious with him for contacting an old friend whom she hated.  To her, as she wrote, this was all perfectly normal, all part of “respecting” a spouse, and me submitting to it was expected and normal because “everybody knows” you have to befriend the wife as well.

Um…..I had never encountered such a rule, and in fact, when I twice tried to friend my pastor friend Mike‘s wife on Facebook (they live far away), she rejected me!  As Mike explained, she does not want to be friends with his friends just because they’re his friends, does not want to read his chats with me, and trusts him completely.

It’s the same thing between my husband and me.  I have also never forbidden my husband from being friends with someone just because I don’t like that person.  (There was a time, many years ago, when I felt justified in forbidding him from being friends with former lovers, but after dealing with Tracy, I realized how controlling that was, repented, and rescinded that rule.)

There’s also a huge difference between someone being deliberately rude to your spouse, and someone being naturally shy and quiet, and/or reacting to your spouse’s abuses.

No, feeling entitled to “approve” your spouse’s friends, or even family members, is just another element of control in the abuser’s toolbox.  It treats the spouse like a child, not a full-grown, fully-functioning adult capable of making his own decisions.  It shows a lack of trust in the spouse’s judgment.

Meanwhile, Richard only asked that he meet a guy friend of his wife once, did not require being friends with him as well, did not have to “approve” him.

And Tracy did not require of herself the same things she required from others, allowing herself all sorts of freedoms with my husband–going to a concert alone with, playing footsie with, flirting with–even though she had not befriended me first.  I did not mind or object, but did see the double standard.

Many abusers try to cut you off from your family and your friends. And by doing this, they gain more control over you and how you think.

Because they are well aware that your family and friends would not approve of how they are treating you.

And they also know that those closest to you would begin to see a huge difference in your personality, which is becoming more and more unsure of yourself on a daily basis.

You realize that you are slowly becoming a “non-person” like a frog that is slowing boiling to death in hot water because the temperature is being turned up little by little so that they hardly notice it.

The abuser may contrive to move the target to another city or state, to limit contact. Once out of sight, it is much easier to control the amount of contact the target has with friends and family. These “outsiders” are often blamed for any problems the couple have.

Before you know it, you are cutting ties with your family and with your closest friends.  You are afraid to have them and the abuser in the same room together for fear of what he might say to them and vice versa.

He will use any number of excuses to keep you from seeing them. And if distance is involved he will use the lack of money for why you cannot visit your own family or even call them….

Everything in a relationship with an abuser is one-way- the abuser’s way. What an abuser requires of you, he does not expect of himself. The rules that he applies to you do not apply to him.

When you do something to break the rules it is a “cardinal sin.” However, when he breaks the same rule he finds justification for it. Or so he thinks.

6.) A Deep Internal Rage

The abuser often has a very violent temper that will flare up over the most minor of things. You will be surprised at the intensity of their anger over something that you hardly even saw as a problem..

Many targets of abuse describe arguments with their abuser as being about “stupid” things.  This usually happens when you dare to disagree with or challenge something they have said. Or when you dare to voice your own opinion about something.  You find out that your opinions and suggestions don’t count, only theirs do….

Many times, an early indication of abuse is the use of verbal language designed to make you feel small, ugly, worthless or stupid. Cutting remarks are used whenever the abuser feels down and out.

By making the target feel lousy, too, the abuser feels better. Even so-called pet names are often thinly disguised abuse.  Another name for this is verbal abuse.

9.) A tendency to blame others.

Abusers have a talent for twisting things around so it appears someone else is to blame for whatever goes wrong. If they get mad – it’s someone else’s fault. If they hit someone, it’s their fault. If the car breaks down, it’s someone else’s fault.

Usually, the person an abuser blames is YOU,  the victim — the spouse or lover. Abusers are so good at this that the victim often comes to believe it is true. Then the victim feels guilty.  This is called “crazy making.” —Recognizing the Abusive Personality

 A frequent condition of abuse is seeking to socially isolate the partner. The abuser cuts off their partner from contact with other people, such as family, friends and children, by creating a social deprivation that leads the partner to be more reliant, or dependent, on the abuser.

Social isolation also prevents the partner from seeking support from others or successfully leaving the relationship. Behaviors commonly used to impose social isolation include:

  • Blaming the partner’s friends or family for the couple’s “relationship” problems
  • Monitoring phone calls, mail or visits
  • Demanding an account of the partner’s daily activities
  • Insulting, threatening or assaulting the partner’s friends or family; driving them away
  • Forcing the partner to choose between the relationship and loved ones
  • Creating public scenes or disturbances when the partner is out with others
  • Stalking the partner and other forms of surveillance —Types of Domestic Abuse

Often the abuser will isolate his spouse from friends or family members in an attempt to keep her focused solely on him, and to maintain control. It is much easier to keep someone feeling worthless or crazy, if her contact with outside sources of reassurance or reality are limited.

The abuser may accomplish this by monitoring her actions, making her account for her time, checking up on her, and expecting that she go out only with people, or to do things, that he approves of. He may accomplish this by creating strife between her [and] people he does not want her to be around.

Or, he might make it so unpleasant for her if she attempts to have a social life, that she cuts off contact with people on her own. This may happen because he calls incessantly when she is out, embarrassing her, or because he picks fights with her friends or family members, or he picks fights with her anytime she wants to go out.

At that point, some women just give up trying to do certain things that would help her feel less isolated because it takes so much out of her.

There is also another kind of isolation that occurs when a woman who is allowed to be social, is still so quiet about her situation, out of fear or embarrassment, that she keeps it all to herself.

This woman will feel just as alone and doubtful of herself and her situation as the woman who finds its to scary to try and have relationships with friends or family if the abuser does not approve. —Domestic Abuse is Hitting Home

Tracy even picked fights with Richard for coming to my house for ten minutes to pick up bags of their stuff which I found while cleaning my house, after they moved out!  “Tooth and nail,” he called it.  I also heard her accuse him of not wanting to spend time with the family, when he’d be late coming home from work.

For those whose question really means, ‘why don’t you stand up to him?’ they obviously don’t understand what a woman who is being abused faces.

The abusers absolute conviction that he is entitled to control, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to get it, means that standing up to him is dangerous. When the abuser is violent, that could mean being assaulted.

However, even in the absence of physical violence, a woman has to fear the consequences of standing up to him.

Perhaps it’s the woman who insisted that it was okay for her to speak with her sister every now and then, who got her phone taken away.

Perhaps it’s the woman who did push for them to go to her parents for Shabbat, only to have her husband purposely leave the clothing for the children at home, explaining to her parents when they arrive, that she had forgotten the children’s things, and that he is very worried because there has been something not right lately.

For those whose question really means ‘why don’t you get out?’, they aren’t understanding what a complex and difficult situation a woman in this marriage is facing.

She often worries about her children, what a divorce will do to them; what hell do during a divorce process, whether they’ll be better or worse off if she divorces and isn’t around to see what happens when the abuser has visitation with them.

She is often ashamed because she has learned that shalom bayis is her responsibility and she feels a failure, even though there is no pleasing an abuser. She worries about her family’s and the community’s reaction.

Thinking about leaving can be scary. Although living with an abuser can be dangerous, most women sense that the danger can increase in trying to get out, something statistics have borne out. The abuser has usually done scary things and made threats, specifically about what he’ll do if she tries to leave him.

But probably the most compelling reason women don’t leave is that they keep hoping things will get better. They got married to stay married. There are often children. There are good times, and the hope is that there is something they can do to keep the good times and get rid of the bad times.

The issue is that this is a very complex situation, one in which professional intervention, along with Rabbinic/community /parental support is needed.

However, that support needs to be well informed and trained in understanding the different problems that can exist in marriage, and there needs to be an expertise in handling domestic abuse so that the help thats given is what is safe and appropriate to the situation.  —Domestic Abuse is Hitting Home

Richard, you know I’m telling the truth.  You know you and the kids have been abused.  You know the things you’ve told me.  I know you’ve abused your kids, too, because the state convicted you of it.  But you can get out of this abusive situation.  You can change this.  We would help you.  There are resources here in town.

Taking the abuser’s perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them.

The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations to isolate the victim from others. Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts.

Victims then turn on their family – fearing family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse their parents and friends, tell them not to call and stop interfering, and break off communication with others.

Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as “causing trouble” and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they continue to “interfere” or try to help the victim in their situation.

On the surface it would appear that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact situation that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation.

If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations – the victim quickly realizes it’s safer if Mom stops calling.

If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn’t work, for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand that she stop calling. —Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser


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