Month: November 2012

Grief Continues Over False Friend

Why can’t I abolish the grief?  Everything I know about Richard says he is not worth it.  But the good times keep coming back to mind.  I keep wishing for a call, a knock on the door, something.

But why?  Why from someone who read all about my pain, anguish and anger, and laughed at it?  Why from someone who claimed to love me like a sister or cousin, then tore my heart out by betraying me?  Why from someone with a violent record who has told me chilling things that made my hair stand on end?

My husband wonders how I can still care about someone who’s done all the things Richard has done to me.  I see every evidence that Richard used me and was never truly my friend.  Yet I keep remembering things that made me think he was my true friend in the first place….

It must be Stockholm Syndrome.

I suppose it’s because they did even more just recently to hurt me, and he did nothing to stop it.  I saw him going along with it.

This is the one I loved like a brother, opened my home to, did anything for, stuck up for, was intensely loyal to, told my secrets to, called my best friend, called my spiritual mentor and guide?

It went against my long-held hopes, which had flared up after his quiet visit to church last October, that one day he would realize what he had done, and come to my husband and me to apologize and make peace.

I suppose it’s because he was my spiritual mentor and guide, the one who showed me the way and was there for me every step of the way through my conversion to Orthodoxy.  Not only did this form a special, unusual bond between us, but it has made his betrayal of me–and his criminal conviction–far more devastating.

It took me maybe a year or less to get over two of my ex-boyfriends after devastating and brutal breakups, to accept that a couple of my friends had drifted off (probably because of an argument they had with another friend), to get past the horrible way my boss quit one day.

Well…Maybe I get used to it, anyway.  I still miss the person and try to reconnect on occasion….

But this…this is not going away.  I still miss my friend, probably always will, still have a huge hole in my heart that nothing and nobody else can fill.  Such a friendship as (I thought it) was, does not just spring up overnight to replace it.

I was always a kind, sweet, good, loyal friend to him.  His welfare was always first on my mind, I cried when he had problems and tried to help, I cried when he gave me certain bad news one day in November 2007 [which I won’t describe on the Web] and I tried to comfort him, I got angry when I saw him abused.  He knows that I do not deserve all of this abuse.

I want to say to him, “Don’t fight against the pricks of conscience, Richard; your salvation is at stake.  Don’t defend and make excuses for evil.  Don’t do evil yourself.  Remember the monks falling from the ladder?

I heard every word of the priest’s sermon the last time you were there.  I think he meant to speak directly to us, since we’ve both been bothering him with this issue.  Remember what he said?  Stop poking each other, I think it was……Well, every time you act nasty and refuse to consider my feelings about anything, you poke me.  Every day without repentance and forgiveness is another poke.”

Also, whenever he reads my blog, it’s a poke.  It keeps me connected to him.  Keeps me wondering what he’ll read next, and why he’s reading.  It’s another reason I keep sinking into grief again.

Oddly enough, my son’s favorite cartoon, Phineas and Ferb, reminds me of this.  The poseur-evil mad scientist Doofenschmirtz, always fights against Perry the Platypus, his nemesis.  Yet at the same time, he expects Perry to show up to fight his schemes, scolds him when he’s late, even looks forward to him showing up.  He even has little get-togethers with him on occasion.

And in one episode, Doofenschmirtz declares that his best friend is Perry the Platypus.  I suppose seeing my blog stalkers in the stats, is much like this.  “You’re late!  I expect better from you, Perry.”  Oh, look, I have my own nemesis…..It made Doofenschmirtz so proud to have a nemesis.

In reading another abuse blog, I see that the writer has posted a few messages there to his dad, who reads it.  So I’m not the only one who posts messages to my abusers.  For example,

ONE FINAL APPEAL: [Abuser], your other option is to confess, repent, come clean and seek reconciliation and get help for your many issues and ask for mercy.

True repentance begins with acknowledging the sin and admitting you have a problem. You still may have to suffer some consequences for your sin, I can’t guarantee you won’t, but I’m pretty sure the consequences will be worse if you keep digging in.

[Abuser], stop this nonsense. Come forward and confess and repent. I’ll then help you to make amends, and help you ask for mercy, even though you may have to suffer some consequences, but it will go better for my Mom and your wife if you do the right thing now without this going further.

Call me, you know how to reach me. –Blog now defunct

I can only hope that my own such posts lead to better results than this blogger has found, though like him, I don’t mince words, don’t sacrifice honesty.  It is one of my most fervent desires, that one day Richard will prove me wrong, and show himself to be the kind of person I once thought he was, and come to us.

In abuse situations, the abuse victim cannot be forced to be the one to apologize, cannot be expected to make the first move.  It is not my place to reconcile with Tracy; it is not my place to make a move for forgiveness with Richard.

Tracy must repent for abusing me, her husband, children and Todd before any relationship between us could ever be possible; my husband will not allow me to make any more apologies to her, and for me to go to her, would be dangerous emotionally and physically.

This is the only way it can possibly be, or else I’d just set myself up for more abuse.  Richard must repent for abusing me by proxy, threatening and intimidating my husband, betraying me, and choking his kid; I can’t be the one going to him with more apologies until he has done these things.

Yet I keep finding complaints in articles and blogs of well-meaning spiritual leaders and friends telling abuse victims they should apologize, forgive and seek reconciliation, even though their abuser is not even sorry, thinks he/she did nothing wrong, and is pretending to be the real victim.

That is precisely what makes a victim a perpetual victim, what makes her a doormat.  People should back off and recognize that the abuser needs to apologize, repent and seek forgiveness, not the victim.

Over and over on abuse blogs, I find victims telling their abusers exactly what must be done before a reconciliation can happen.

I have come across one or two commenters on those blogs, who claim they were given such terms, met them, and are now restoring a relationship with their estranged loved one.  But among the bloggers themselves, I have yet to find a situation like this.

Instead, I find pain, grief, anger, as the bloggers try to deal with the fact that the ones they love, don’t love them enough to do what it takes to restore a relationship with them.  Not even their own parents.

All they find are parents who stalk them, refuse to admit wrongdoing, send them messages denying everything.  Or parents who just cut them off without another word.

It is sad and wicked to do such a thing to another person, to just ridicule and hurt them further, rather than doing the work to overcome abusive behavior and show love.

I find some bloggers still writing years later, while some others stop writing, leaving their blogs up for others to learn from.  I suppose the ones who still write, still feel deep pain, or it would no longer bother them enough to write about it.

That’s what happens when the one who hurts you, is someone you love.  As these bloggers keep noting when commenters accuse them of hate, If they hated their abusers, they wouldn’t need blogs to deal with the pain!

I’ve been reading One Mom’s Battle, a blog written by a woman in the process of divorcing her narcissistic husband.  First she wrote her story; now she writes about the constant custody battles and visitation issues.

And yes, her ex-husband and his family read her blog, and try to use it against her in court, even post comments on other blogs and articles, accusing her of libel and stalking.

In the post How to Forgive, she writes how she’s trying desperately to forgive her husband, about a sermon series her pastor did on this topic.  I’m impressed because the pastor seems to get it, saying, “2. Your heart has to be healed to get to a place of forgiveness.” 

He doesn’t repeat the cliche that so many abuse bloggers have exposed as false, that forgiveness precedes healing.  As the author, Tina, wrote,

Here is where my main struggle lies.  How does my heart heal when the wounds keep coming?  Every story I hear from my daughters breaks my heart- over and over.  Every week there is a new wound.

How does a wound heal when it is repeatedly injured?  You can bandage a wound and you can apply healing ointments but if something keeps striking the wound then it simply can’t heal.  It is impossible.

Heather writes in the comments,

We as a society expect people to forgive someone who does not deserve it, has not earned it, does not believe they have done anything to warrant it, and fully intends to continue the behaviors for which society preaches the offended party should forgive.

If the subject was financial security, or good health, we would describe someone else trying to give it to a person in those circumstances toxicly co-dependent.

From your post I’m going to assume you fall somewhere within the Christian continuum of faiths. Even the Bible expects repentance before forgiveness. Not even God gives free passes.

God even states, if you are going to make an offering to Me, but then remember you have offended your brother, leave your offering and go and get right with your brother. (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point.)

God even says you cannot be right with Him, while at odds with your family or friend due to *your* behavior and choices. You don’t get to be a monster pretending to be a person, and fully intend to continue in these behaviors, and get a clean slate with the man upstairs….

I’m going to say this again, because it bears repeating: There is a difference between accepting someone for who they are and what they are and are not capable of, and forgiving someone who does not believe they have done anything wrong and fully intends to continue doing things that hurt those around them.

It was also noted that Tina may never completely heal and forgive until after her children grow up and she no longer needs to deal with her ex.

Just the other day, Tina wrote about an e-mail her ex sent her, which accuses her of lying and mental instability, protests Tina calling him “disturbed,” “sick,” narcissistic, etc., accuses her blog of being “fiction” and an “ego trip,” and accuses her of needing to “move on.”

He even twisted facts, which she could document, such as accusing her of crying to Christie Brinkley when that was actually somebody else.

It sounds very much like the e-mail sent to me by Richard and Tracy, as posted in “Now I’m Being Stalked.”

The trouble with the Net is not being sure who’s actually telling the truth.  But her blog does not strike me as “fiction,” and many commenters on that post wrote that their exes send them similar e-mails, so don’t let it get to her.

Basically, all that I’ve been going through is extremely common, both in general and in the blogosphere.

It is NOT gossip or slander to tell the truth about how you’ve been bullied and abused.

I tried numerous times over 2007-2010 to deal with these problems directly with Richard and, through him, Tracy (since I was too scared of her to speak directly to her–and since I’ve always felt that husbands should deal with wives themselves, and not the friends of the husband).

Tracy’s repeated response over the years was to bully and verbally abuse, and do absolutely nothing to give me confidence that if I sat down with her, that she would give me a fair hearing and do anything but try to rip me apart emotionally, especially after she had just been cussing me out and sending me all sorts of abusive e-mails.

I also had the example, which I witnessed firsthand, of how she treated Todd when she had a problem with him, and it gave me no reason to expect fairness from her.

The full story of what happened, not a summary, was never read through by anyone until they saw it and read it 6 months ago, then after they read it, I removed it for a time.

But their response was hugely disappointing, a typical abuser’s response, to deny, twist facts, twist your words, threaten you into silence, refuse to repent, refuse to admit wrongdoing, blame it all on the victim.

It’s exactly the same as they did in 2010, only this time with the addition of legal threats, giving me a brand-new hump to get over in the recovery process.

I’ve told Social Services, back in 2011, coincidentally at the same time Richard appeared in court for a child abuse incident I was not even aware of.  So I have legitimately tried to address the things I saw going on and the things Richard told me were going on.

Richard has been convicted of that incident, which gives legitimacy to my impressions of other abuses.  (I don’t know what became of the SS report, since such information is blocked to the public, but I do know what I witnessed and what Richard told me.)

I’ve been to my priest about the situation between us as well, and I know he spoke to them about it at least once, because I observed the conversation.

I also know, being in the congregation at the time, that my priest, knowing all about this, preached twice, while they were in the congregation [Father’s Day and late August 2012], about men being examples of righteousness to their families, forgiveness, repentance, making peace with others, and “not poking each other.”  This was a few months ago.

Yet they have not repented, have not made a move for peace, have not ceased to read my blog.  So I am free to treat them as tax collectors, have no fellowship with them, tell my story here.

If they were repentant, if they showed an ounce of consideration for my feelings, there would never have been a need for these blogs.  Abusers do this over and over again, refusing to take responsibility for their abuse, blaming the victim for it, and then telling the victim it’s her problem and she needs to get over it.

This blog is my outlet until it’s all out of my system.  There is no arbitrary timetable for getting over abuse and bullying.

Life does go on, and blogging only takes up a tiny part of my time: Most of my days are about dealing with the stuff I have to do, deep-cleaning the house each summer, moving furniture, what I’m reading, favorite TV shows, going to church, interacting with friends on Facebook or occasionally visiting them, pondering where to go for Thanksgiving, traveling, learning Greek, reading, working out, bicycling, or whatever.

I have friends at church and a friend who throws a huge bash every year, based on the Highland Games.  This year we’re hosting Thanksgiving for Hubby’s brother and his wife and child.

But every once in a while, something brings back a feeling of anger or grief; I blog about it; then I feel better.  I also want to help others recognize abuse and get out of it; I also want to hold my abusers accountable.  So I blog.

And to be honest, it pretty much was out of my system, when my abusers found the blog 6 months ago and gave me brand-new abuses and denials to recover from.  The grief was refreshed because I saw nothing from Richard but a hard heart and refusal to stand up for what’s right and end the abuse, which was very disappointing.

Because he laughed at my pain, threatened and frightened me, and acted as if I had never meant a thing to him, ever, but was just a tool he manipulated and preyed upon.

Because I keep seeing him reading all sorts of things and wonder if he cares, but he still says nothing encouraging.

So that’s why I am back in the pit again, because this is ongoing, not something that ended a couple of years ago.

The other problem is that the whole situation had many repercussions throughout the rest of my life, affecting–sometimes severely–practically everything I deal with or encounter:

music, movies I watched with Richard, my faith and religion because it had become so interconnected with his through his mentorship, my NVLD, my selective mutism, how I interact with people as friends or acquaintances or strangers (because this was the most severe part of how I was traumatized by Tracy), trusting anyone enough to form new friendships, forums I went to on the Net….

Even hearing the words “I don’t understand” became a trigger reminding me of abuse, because when I said this, Tracy said, “You’re too stupid to understand!”  July 4 reminds me of them.  My favorite Thanksgiving movies remind me of them.  Lord of the Rings reminds me of them.  Cthulhu reminds me of them.  (This is a real problem in geek culture.)

As it has done for the past several years, just cleaning my basement causes echoes in my mind of Tracy’s jeering words ripping on my household “routine.”  Hearing the words “F— off” on TV is a trigger reminding me of abuse and putting me back in the pit.

It’s one thing to deal with a relationship breakup; it’s quite another when there was severe psychological or other abuse as well.  Especially since the abuser puts on such a good, charismatic front in the beginning that you can’t believe this wonderful person is an abuser.

That makes the breakup that much harder to deal with and get past.  That’s not the fault of the victim, who should not be blamed for having trouble.  The responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, and society must keep it there.

Though it helps tremendously that I did stand up to my bullies, told them the truth, told them to leave me alone, kept my blog up, kept going to my church despite them, went to my priest for help, told my friends, told my family.

While these past 6 months have been especially difficult, there is now the feeling that this could be the last gasp of a long-held grief, that standing up to them will eventually pull me out to the place where I can finally say, I’m a survivor.  I’m a thriver.

But because I still care, if Richard were to come to us and say, “I’m sorry, I screwed up, I was an a**hole, I’m working on being a better father, I’m working on being a better friend,” I would probably take him back.  Though Hubby might be a harder sell.

There is also the erroneous idea, which many people including my abusers/bullies apparently share, that you should just forgive and forget abuse, then act like it’s perfectly fine to interact with your abusers.

Sorry, no.  The appropriate response to an unrepentant abuser is to cut them out of your life.  No contact, or limited contact.  Forced niceties are just lying, fake, two-faced.

It’s one thing if an abuser/bully has expressed some sort of apology/repentance; past abusers/bullies do this on occasion with me.  They find me capable of letting them into some sort of relationship with them again, maybe friending them on Facebook or the occasional e-mail.

But if you don’t repent, despite my repeated attempts to demonstrate what you’ve done and how it’s affected me, then don’t expect me to give you so much as the time of day if we pass on the street/in church.  Don’t expect me to be happy to see you.

As the writer of One Mom’s Battle writes,

As I’ve said before, I don’t want to be seen as a victim.  I don’t want you to be seen as a victim because your story is my story.  My story is your story.

I have the privilege of authoring the next chapter of my life and you have the ability to write your next chapter.  Is it going to be a chapter where you are the victim or is it going to be the chapter where the victim finds her (his) voice and stands up to the bully?

Narcissists are the same as bullies– they have low self esteems yet portray themselves to be powerful and bigger than life.  I want to be that awesome kid on the playground who finally stands up to the bully and sets boundaries.

Cheers to setting boundaries and finding your voice!

I have set the boundaries.  I have found my voice and stood up to my bullies.  I am still grieving, but grief does not make you a victim.  It’s okay that I still grieve, especially since I do not oppress my family/friends with it, but let it out here on my blog.

Letting the bullies push you around, that’s what makes you a victim.  I did hit a low point a while back, but I’m rising above it and beginning to heal.

Paul later says in Galatians 5 “why” we are to rebuke: We want people to repent of their sins:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who have “selfish ambition”…who “lie”…are given over to “fits of rage”…have “hatred”…spread “discord”…are “jealous”…are “idolatrous” etc etc. All fruits of the flesh.

…I admit that I am a sinner and I actually literally confess and repent of those sins. …You can’t repent if you don’t cop to it. Big difference.

Everything has the potential for getting better with confession and repentance…a key ingredient all of us…and especially a Pastor who professes to “teach the Bible simply”…cannot skip…yet claims otherwise.

Relationships, hurts, offenses, abuses…all can heal with the Offender doing their God Instructed part of the equation. But, Pride and fear of losing one’s position as king of their kingdom…can be quite an obstacle. –Blog that is now defunct

“[Yes, true. Mercy would be swallowing your pride and admitting to your sins so that my brothers and I could have a mother again…and so my grandkids could have a grandmother. That would be both Just and Merciful come to think of it.

But no, you can’t cop to any sin…you’re an “anointed Prophet” and we all know anointed Prophets can’t cop to specific sins…just generalities and allusions to some nebulous undefined non-descript stuff that allows you to dodge accountability…and perpetuates your myth of piety…false piety. Inside and behind closed doors, you’re a ravenous unrepentant wolf].”–  From Blog that is now defunct, from person who–just as Tracy forbade me to contact Richard until she had her yell at me–is being kept from his mother for confronting his stepfather about his abuses.

I personally began to confront the abuses within our family, privately, over six years ago. I met stiff resistance from [abuser]. I asked him to repent and change his behavior toward all of us.

Instead of repenting, he denied the abuse and then continued more wrong behavior and began to lie and abuse further.

I was not afforded a Matt.18 meeting with him and his board and elders as witnesses to address the allegations. I was cut off from all communication with him and my mom when I pressed the issue of abuse and continued to ask him to repent and stop mistreating our family.

I was told to talk to Greg and Sue Dowds about it and to “put my thoughts in a letter”…instead of [abuser] communicating with me in person any longer. I resisted at first, and then met with [abuser’s] two right-hand surrogates) and gave *** his “letter”. *** did not like the “letter” very much. –Now-defunct blog

 

“The Juvenilization of American Christianity”: Orthodox Observer, Christianity Today

It’s on page 9 of the September issue of the Orthodox Observer:
http://www.goarch.org/news/observer/2012-09-observer/issuu

Fr. John S. Bakas, in the column “The Juvenilization of American Christianity,” remarks on a Christianity Today article by the same name by Thomas E. Bergler.

Both articles are worth reading.  From the one by Bergler:

Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults.

It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity.

But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.

In my days as an Evangelical, I actually liked modern praise choruses and poppy hymns.  I liked having more upbeat songs in church than “Just As I Am” and the like.

But then one day in 2004 or 2005, after singing one too many of the silly kids’ songs that had made it into adult services (either “Trading My Sorrows” or “Every Move I Make”), I realized this was just like modern radio pop: all fluff with no substance.

We used to have substance in these modern hymns, such as when Rich Mullins’ hits became hymns.  But over time they turned into a bunch of mind-numbing, hypnotic repetition of lines like “Jesus I love you,” cornball tunes, and no doctrinal meat.

“Awesome God” and “As the Deer” are examples of the heights modern hymns can rise to.  Dancing around to “Every Move I Make” is an example of a church service turning into a ball.  A song like that is fine for Sunday School or youth group, but making 50-year-olds do it, too, complete with hand motions?

Another thing Bergler points out, is that American Evangelical teenagers are turning their relationship with Jesus into the equivalent of a romantic relationship, or an “erotic, emotional attraction to a teen idol.”

Unlike many teens, adults are well aware that romantic love is very fragile and changeable.  You can be totally, passionately in love one month, then hate that person the next.  Or you can be married for 50 years, and spend most of it contemplating bills and doing housework and childcare, rather than getting butterflies as you stare at each other.

This is why you should marry based on how well you get along, rather than just on a warm, fuzzy feeling, because those warm, fuzzy feelings wax and wane over and over again over the years.  Should we really expect to have those same warm, fuzzy feelings for Christ, and have them last?

Bergler’s article goes even further, digging into the history of Christian youth culture from the 30s to now.  I had no idea that even in the 40s, they had Christian Big Band music, just as now they have Christian rock and pop.

The article also notes that there is nothing wrong with doing such things for the children and teenagers, as a way to interest them in the faith–especially since Catholicism did not, and later paid the price.  But this is not supposed to be carried on into the adult worship services.  It’s spiritual milk, kid stuff.  Adults need meat.  From Bergler:

When asked what they get out of their rock band-energized youth liturgies, Catholic teenagers report that they like the “intense experience” that serves as a “stress reliever” and they “love the music.”

Some African American church leaders are experimenting with hip-hop worship in order to reach young people who are alienated from traditional black churches.

The history of white evangelical youth movements suggests that over time these innovations will filter into adult church life. And that is not all bad. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is not a compelling theological argument.

Still, churches new to juvenilization would do well to consider its unintended consequences. Juvenilization tends to create a self-centered, emotionally driven, and intellectually empty faith.

In their landmark National Study of Youth and Religion, Christian Smith and his team of researchers found that the majority of American teenagers, even those who are highly involved in church activities, are inarticulate about religious matters.

They seldom used words like faith, salvation, sin, or even Jesus to describe their beliefs. Instead, they return again and again to the language of personal fulfillment to describe why God and Christianity are important to them. The phrase “feel happy” appeared over 2,000 times in 267 interviews.

…Today many Americans of all ages not only accept a Christianized version of adolescent narcissism, they often celebrate it as authentic spirituality. God, faith, and the church all exist to help me with my problems. Religious institutions are bad; only my personal relationship with Jesus matters.

If we believe that a mature faith involves more than good feelings, vague beliefs, and living however we want, we must conclude that juvenilization has revitalized American Christianity at the cost of leaving many individuals mired in spiritual immaturity.

…Teenagers can legitimately follow Christ in adolescent ways, including participating in age-appropriate youth ministries. But those ministries must also help youth catch a vision for growing up spiritually.

Churches full of people who are building each other up toward spiritual maturity are not only the best antidote to the juvenilization of American Christianity, but also a powerful countercultural witness in a juvenilized society.

Fr. Bakas adapted this to the Orthodox Church’s way of doing things.  Orthodoxy does not allow for such things as “rock liturgies” to replace the traditional way of worship.  There’s already enough controversy over Greeks allowing pews, organs and bare-headed women in their services, let alone putting in praise choruses!  This has kept us from juvenilizing the faith.

Not that it would be bad for Orthodox youth groups to take some tips from the other churches, though cornball substitutes for the “world” have always been a danger in youth ministries.

(Case in point: Christian rock that sucks, or youth pastors trying too hard to be “hip.”  My youth group respected our youth leader, who made no attempt to be “hip.”  I’ve also known a youth pastor who is young and legitimately hip, because that’s how he is, not a fake.  But my husband had a youth minister who tried too hard.)

Unfortunately, Fr. Bakas does not recognize the good points of adapting youth ministry to teenage culture.  As Bergler pointed out, the Catholic Church did not, either, and paid the price because

They had not learned how to create the emotionally satisfying, entertaining youth environments that would be needed to sustain religious interest among the young in post-1960s America.

We can keep adult worship adult, train our children how to worship in the adult service, but also have more vibrant youth ministries which not only attract the youth, but train them in the meat of the faith.

 

Sexual Relations with Shawn (sexual user): The Downward Spiral to a Crash; Counseling–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1993, Part 2

Sexual Relations with Shawn: The Downward Spiral to a Crash 

I discovered in February that the leader of our S– Nazarene church wasn’t actually a pastor.  He and his wife had full-time jobs, so trying to run the church was getting too taxing.  They closed the metaphorical doors of that church, so that was the end of my churchgoing for a while.

****

Around this time, Shawn asked for a wakeup call.  So I said, “This is your wake-up call, Shawn.  Do not, I repeat, do not roll over and go back to sleep, or you will die a horrible death, suspended by a string and by your fingernails over a pool of piranhas.–And with your weight, the string will immediately break.”

…So he rolled over and went back to sleep.  When I found out, I told him, “You know what I’m going to have to do to you now.”  As he talked with Frank, I said to Shawn, “I guess I’ll have to take you down to the lagoon–as soon as I get a string and some piranhas.”  He smiled, and Frank cracked up.

****

On the late night of the 6th, Shawn called me over to watch TV.  We played with each other for a while, then were enflamed with passion and did all sorts of things we shouldn’t have, oughtn’t have done.

In fact, when I read what had been going through our heads for the past several weeks, and what all we did do, which did qualify as sexual relations, what astounds me is what we didn’t do that night: go all the way.  I’m sure that one word from me, and it would have been done.

And our lives could have been irrevocably changed.  According to my calendar, I was probably not fertile, but–Pregnancy, change in life plans, married to someone who wanted to change everything about me, him dealing with this and his brother’s illness/eventual death at the same time….

Or if not pregnancy, then would he have hated me afterwards?  Or would he have fallen for me?  Who knows.  But if nothing else changed, then the end of the year still would have been that much harder to deal with.  And, as you will see, it already became excruciatingly painful to part because of the things we did do, because of the contempt he felt for me because of them.

Eventually we fell asleep in each other’s arms, and it was sweet.  But then he woke up around 5am, got angry with me for still being there, and unceremoniously tossed me out into the cold.  I hoped he was just cranky from being tired.

There was no “talk” afterwards this time, however.  In the days following, there was none of the usual tenseness when we saw each other around campus.

I felt good when he looked at me–which he did a lot–and his eyes showed so much tenderness, and some kind of love, though I wasn’t sure what kind.  Then on the 8th, we sat across from each other in Bible Study.  Not what you usually expect to be between two people sitting in Bible study….

Even Clarissa noticed something different about him.  He seemed happy and hyper when in my view, but Clarissa saw him walking with his head down a little.  She thought she saw something there that she didn’t see before.

He sat at my table a lot and also gave me little things, like red-hot candies or a certain picture.  I thought that, for sure, he must be in love with me now.

On Valentine’s Day, we were together in his room.  As we made out I thought he really meant it this time, that we were finally a “couple.”  But then, while I was still basking in the glow of my happiness, he told me he wasn’t attracted to me and I wasn’t what he was looking for, though he didn’t know what that was.  (Flashback to Ned and Catherine!)

This got me so upset that I decided to start seeing the campus counselor, someone older whom I could talk to.

Monday of the next week was intense.  The thing I did not want him to do to me during the scary scold session in January, he did now, suddenly and forcefully from what I recall, taking away my innocence and filling me with thoughts I could barely control.

(Not what is clinically called “coitus,” but another thing which I do not want to name on the Internet.)  And even though he himself had similar thoughts and told me about them, he judged me for mine when I confessed them to him.

My diary entries for late February and mid-March show that I felt as if demons had taken hold of my thoughts.  After Bible study one night, I confessed them to Pearl.  We prayed about it, and I confessed my thoughts to Shawn.  As if I’d snapped my fingers, the darkness flew away.

But this was the last time Shawn and I did anything physical for a while, to help me get those thoughts out of my head.  Sometimes we did spend time together and talk on the phone, but he started sitting elsewhere at meals.

People got mad at him for not being nice to me, but I didn’t agree and was indignant at them (probably Stockholm Syndrome).  He didn’t understand why they thought that.  For example, one of my friends was mad at him, and he complained to me about it.  I referred to this at a meal one day, so she got mad at him again for not keeping her opinion between them.

Counseling

I first met with the school counselor on February 23.

After Shawn had pulled so much crap with me over the past few months, as a sexual user:

He played with my head and my body,

took my innocence and led me into sexual experiences that I should not have done and convinced me they were not sinful and then spoke to me like I was a slut,

asked or begged me to do things that were consensual and enjoyable but then scolded me for doing them and made me feel like he was just doing it to humor me,

insisted or even coerced me into some things so I had to stop him or felt I could not stop him,

wanted to coerce me into more,

lusted after me and said he had fantasies about me yet told me he was not attracted to me,

led me on and tore me down over and over again–

So I became a wreck, and decided that only a counselor could help me get my life back together now.

Things he had said about me, and things he would say later on (in March, which I address in this paragraph, too), haunted me for years, even though all my friends and my counselor assured me they were not true.

I could not understand why he would accuse me of them.  They became some of the main bases for me to consider NVLD as a possibility, because those very things were listed as signs and misunderstandings of people with NVLD.

Such as, people with NVLD/Asperger’s are very concerned with accuracy, which sometimes exasperates others, makes them think we have to be right, when no, we just want to be helpful and keep you out of error.

We don’t understand why this upsets others, and become mystified when they get angry and accuse us of having to be right.  We think, Don’t you want to be accurate?

It’s also an introvert thing, since I have to think before I speak, and oftentimes need far more time to prepare a response than I get.  So I’ll think of something later on and say it.

To me this is perfectly valid, but apparently extroverts get annoyed by it at times.  But extroverts need to deal with it, because otherwise we introverts aren’t capable of giving them the responses and ideas they want.

It was one of the many things Shawn said he hated, that I took too long to respond to his questions.  But this was nothing I could help, and he needed to be more accommodating and patient.

Or, as Pearl did say, the time I didn’t ask Sharon how she was doing after her cousin died, but this was not because I didn’t care or was selfish (I did very much care about my friends and how they were feeling), but because I missed the social cues and did not realize I was supposed to say anything.  Until Pearl said something, I had no clue I had even offended Sharon!

I tried so hard to be nice and sweet to people, but again and again I’d be misunderstood and accused of things that were not in my mind; Shawn did plenty of this.  NVLD/Asperger’s explains why on earth people would think such things of me, and also why I had so much trouble understanding these social cues that others know instinctively.

The constant criticisms from Shawn haunted me years later when another best friend, Richard, did the same thing to me, telling me everything I did was wrong in some way, from what food I ate to how I socialized.

And I would have no way of knowing for sure if I was really as bad as these critics made me sound, or if there was something in them that made them find fault in others to an excessive, abusive degree.

Starting in January 1993, as I have shown, and continuing through May 1993, as I will show, I witnessed various outbursts from Shawn which scared or upset me greatly.  He increasingly said hurtful things.

I also noted during that time that he even criticized how I kissed him (while Peter said I was a great kisser, an expert, told Phil this, and Phil agreed); I wrote that if he didn’t like it, then teach me how to do it better, don’t cut me down.

There were also things related to his Winterim class which were serious and which I have not described, that caused him stress.

It’s also very possible that his brother’s health was deteriorating.  Could Shawn have been heading to another nervous breakdown and taking me along with his precarious mental state?

It was possible, especially with what happened in May 1993, and how it affected him.  But I had no way of knowing with my limited knowledge, could only think he was doing these things on purpose to hurt me.

I see from my day planner that I planned to ask the counselor the question, What in the world is making me depressed all the time?!  Shawn might say I wanted to be, but no, it was because of what was going on in my life freshman and sophomore year.

I had six counseling sessions free before my parents would have to pay for it, so I decided to take advantage of this.  It seems we only had 20 minutes to talk on the 23rd, but she called me that night to talk some more.

The first little session took care of things like insurance and stuff, and didn’t get into what I really wanted to talk about.  So on the phone, I told her my problems: the Shawn situation, as I called it, and the Peter situation.

She asked how often I thought of Peter still, and I said at least once a day.  She said that was a lot and we’d have to talk about that, too–but I neglected to say that I thought about him that often because I was praying for him every night.  These prayers were for his soul, not for our old relationship.

The counselor kept talking about shyness and how to break free of it, but this wasn’t my problem.  I kept trying to get the discussion back to the situation with Shawn.

All sorts of Christian denominations, from Orthodoxy to Baptist, say that Christians should only marry Christians.  Youth advisers naturally extended that to serious dating, and sometimes even casual dating.  The counselor said that part of my problem may have been that I didn’t have much of a pool to choose from (something I, ironically, had tried to avoid by going to a Christian college).

She didn’t suggest I change my beliefs; rather, she looked through the phone book and suggested some churches I could try going to.  However, they sounded very different from my own church, such as Baptist and Dutch Reformed.  S– doesn’t have a huge variety of churches, such as you might find in South Bend.

Though at times I wondered if they helped at all, in the end (April 6) I decided these counseling sessions had done me a world of good.  More on this later.

****

One day, I told Shawn that Peter never said anything to me, not even hi.

Shawn said, “Maybe he’s waiting for you to say it.”

That shocked me, since I had tried to start up a friendship with Peter a couple of times already, only to be spurned.  But I tried it anyway.

On the 19th, I saw us about to pass each other outside.  I didn’t know if I could do it, if he’d hear me, or if he’d even answer, but I looked back as we passed, and said hi.

For a moment I expected nothing, but then I heard, “Hi.”  Another time, he even said, “Hey, how ya doin’?”

****

On snow days (and on days when the water went out), paper cups, bowls, plates and utensils were used.  The RA’s helped in Food Service because the cooks and other non-student workers couldn’t make it to the campus.

On one snow day, Rachel helped us clean up in Food Service.  She stood next to me and said,

“Some people think you’ve gained some weight, but I don’t think so.”

“Nope,” I said, tugging on the leg of my pants.  I had been wearing them since I came to Roanoke; they now billowed around me.  Roanoke had made me 120 pounds, the perfect weight for a small-boned woman of barely 5’5.

I had no idea Rachel was testing me out.  I later discovered that, because I wrote a poem about a pregnant girl and usually wrote about my own life, people thought I was pregnant by Shawn.

Despite the things we did do, Shawn and I had done nothing to cause pregnancy, so it was funny.  And here I’d been afraid people would think my poem was about another girl on campus, who really was pregnant.

****

A Zulu dance group, Shikisha, performed in the Bradley in February.  They did African dances and original songs.  The first hour was just Shikisha (3 women) and their male drummer.

After the intermission, a rock band, with black members from such places as France, the U.S. and Nigeria, joined them, and we got a rock concert for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

I got so caught up in it that I felt sorry for people who didn’t come, and I had to get a tape of them.  I kept thinking of the PBS miniseries Shaka Zulu, especially with the way they were dressed.

Afterwards, I found Anna, Latosha and an exchange student from Nigeria.  Latosha wanted a tape for, as she called it, “my kid.”  That’s when Latosha told me she was pregnant by E—, the guy who had caused her so much grief freshman year.  I said I wanted a tape, but they’d already cleared them away.

Latosha said, “We can go backstage and get one.”

She led us back, and we got to meet all the performers–once they were dressed in normal clothes.  I got a tape, and the drummer said, “Don’t you want any more, for your family?”

“I can’t afford it,” I said.

“She can dub it,” Latosha said.

“Ohhh!” he said.

We met the three dancers a few minutes later, and they autographed our tapes.  We talked with them for a while, and found out the youngest one, who looked 12, was 19.

One dancer had a shirt in the first act that was cut differently from those of the other dancers; it kept slipping dangerously during the dances.  (They dressed in traditional Zulu clothes, so she didn’t wear a bra.)  Anna or Latosha said she was quick about pushing it back up.

The oldest dancer had long hair, maybe waist-length, put in tiny braids.  The youngest one asked for our names and made a little song out of them.

****

On the 27th, Shawn and I visited a student from Cambodia, S–, to play with his Sega.  Shawn and I beat up street thugs for a while, then S– and I watched Shawn get beat up by a gorilla in “Spiderman.”  Shawn insisted he used to be good at it.

Then he showed me Sonic The Hedgehog 2.  I did terribly at it, during a race against Shawn, since I had never played the game before.  “Two-year-olds play this better than you!” he said.  (I was playing with dolls at two.)

But, hey, I’ve never been adept at video games.  I think the whole coordination thing gets me, probably because of NVLD.

So obviously Shawn and I were still hanging out from time to time, still friends, despite everything.  I also wrote a long list of things to talk to him about, probably to do what we originally were going to do–back away from the physical and learn more about each other as people, not lovers.

****

Sometime that semester, the women of the campus were shaken up by stories of a rapist loose in S–.  Cindy said her mom saw him in the laundromat late one night, that he knew her and was after her for some reason.  I think he had kind of a Hitler-look, maybe with his hair.

There were rumors of him being spotted on campus, based on people seeing a guy who looked like him but was just some innocent husband of a non-trad.  He never actually did step foot on our campus, as far as we knew.

But the fear of him inspired warnings that we women shouldn’t go anywhere alone at night, and I would have Clarissa go with me just to do my laundry at night.

This may have been when the dorms were now locked up at all times, accessible only by key, meaning that I could no longer go from the suites to Krueger’s side door to get snacks or see people whenever I wanted to.

Mom had always worried that I would get raped at college, so I never did tell her about this rapist.  I told Dad, but with strict orders not to tell Mom or else she would be a nervous wreck.

I found a rapist warning in the school paper for April 30, and I don’t believe I found one any earlier.  But I keep thinking it was in February.  The May 7 paper explains that a “suspect,” though heavier and with glasses, in the rape cases was confronted in the Roanoke College library on May 5; this is probably the guy who was just somebody’s innocent husband.

Index 
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:

SWEET! Obama is Re-Elected!

We can keep moving forward into the future instead of backwards.  And hopefully, now that Obama can no longer run and be defeated for another term, the Republicans will stop fighting and start working together with him and the Democrats–for the good of the country.

[11/7/12]: I just saw Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, on CNN, being interviewed by John King.  She basically said that voters were taken up with “personality” rather than voting with knowledge–ie, that the voters were stupid.

No, we voted for Obama because the Republicans are getting farther and farther out of touch with reality.  Demographics are changing; more and more people want gay marriage, want women to make their own decisions, see global climate change as reality.

The percentages I’ve been seeing on the ticker show that the majority of Obama voters see the economy as improving.  We want the rich to give more so the rest of us aren’t continually squeezed.

Hubby was undecided right up until he was in the voting booth.  He admits he threw his vote away and just voted for the Constitutionalist.  I said, “Are you kidding?  The Constitutionalists are crazier than the Libertarians!”  Oh, well, Obama won the state anyway.  🙂

…And now I hear Boehner’s speech to the Congress.  To sum up, he’s saying, The Democrats are wrong, we’re right, and if the President wants to work together with us, he has to do what we want, because that’s the only acceptable form of “compromise.”

…Even though the American people have voted for Obama, not Romney, and half of us want Obama’s economic policies, so Congress needs to work together and compromise.  Not just the Democrats with the Republicans, but Republicans with Democrats.

 

Blogging as Therapy for the Abused/Bullied: Beginning to Heal from Richard/Tracy Stuff

Oddly enough, my blog stalkers finding this blog seems to have been a blessing in disguise.  For two years, I wanted so badly to tell them how I felt, how badly they’d treated my husband and me, that it was bullying and abuse, that I did not deserve this after all the kindness I’d shown and how much I’d put up with from them, etc. etc.–and Richard just how badly I missed him just the same.

But I felt there was no way I could do it safely, without getting beaten up or worse.  I didn’t know if I could trust mutual friends, and didn’t want to tell them all the gory details, or who I meant, fearing they wouldn’t want to hear it anyway.  You know how mutual friends tend to not want to get involved.

And my own friends/family did not know them, and could not do a thing to help, could not intervene.  They also had no clue what it was like to deal with traumas of this sort, without resorting to trite cliches that did nothing but make me feel at fault for having emotions, for not being able to turn them off at will.

Through blogging I could lay everything out, from beginning to end, without boring or annoying my loved ones.  Only those who really wanted to would read it; no one would feel they “had” to.

If anyone did read it, I expected it would be people who had been in my shoes and wanted the validation and comfort of reading that others have been there, too.

(That’s how I felt when I found Joyful Alive Woman’s blog about her narcissistic best friend, especially since such stories were much harder to find than stories about narc family/spouses.)

Sure enough, this blog has been such an outlet that I no longer post much of anything about it on Facebook, or talk about it at home.

I also missed running home after services and writing Richard an e-mail about all the things happening at church, since we went to different ones.

Nobody else could appreciate it from the same vantage point he had, being from a similar background and having seen me through the conversion.  I’d sit at my table while everyone was leaving to go home, feeling sad that I couldn’t tell him what had just happened.

But now I seem to have Richard and/or Tracy’s rapt attention.  Whatever I write, whether it’s the next day or a week later, unless they have no interest in the topic of a post, they read.

I have four trackers going, and glean all the information I need, to know when and what they read.  I have found all sorts of codes for IP blockers and could now conceivably block them, but decided to just open it up and let them read it all without worrying anymore.

Now, I just let it all out.  It’s my chance.  All they have to do is say, “I’m sick of reading this,” and ignore it all completely.  But they don’t.  Nobody’s forcing them to read, but they choose to keep coming back.

Since I have their attention, sometimes I rant, sometimes I rave, sometimes I mourn, sometimes I ponder.

Because, no matter how much all people take their problems to their friends, family, and whoever, what we really want to do–what is truly satisfying–is to take the problem directly to the source and tell them what a complete a**hole they’ve been.

Though, of course, if you want to keep the relationship, you do it more civilly and tactfully….

If they choose to ignore the truth and not work on how they treat people, if they choose to continue bullying me rather than repenting and making peace, it’s their salvation at stake.  They have to make that choice; I can’t choose it for them.

But I have told them what they’ve done, so it’s on their hands what they do with it, not mine.  They themselves have admitted to losing other friends besides me, because those friends couldn’t handle Tracy anymore.

If they want to keep losing friends, that’s their choice.  But they can’t keep blaming those friends for feeling traumatized, angry and/or damaged.

I finally get to say what I really feel about politics without fear I’ll lose my friend, because, well, that happened already anyway.  I even find it oddly satisfying that I can post about my church happenings and he’ll read it again…..

I know it keeps me connected to him, and that’s dangerous emotionally.  I know he’s shown every sign of not being the friend I thought he was, of me being duped with the gullibility and naivete that have served me ill time and time again throughout my life.

But sometimes I dare to hope that he still cares.  I don’t know what he’ll do with the outpourings of my heart, if it’ll lead to good or if he’ll rip my heart out again and twist and squeeze it until it turns to dust, like the Evil Queen does to hearts on Once Upon a Time.  All I do know is that I know it’s dangerous, and that I do it anyway, so I own it.

And another thing is, I finally had a chance to stand up to my bullies.  I told them to leave me alone, gave them the terms if they ever wanted to speak to me again.

I told them they were bullies.  I did not hide in a corner, afraid to tell, but told my husband, friends, family, the police and priest what was going on.

Actually, except for the police I had already told all these people two years ago what had happened before, but now there were more things to tell.

The blog stalkers knew I told my priest, seeing me go up there after they did; the policeman told me that I’m doing nothing illegal and they can’t sue me for talking to my priest.

Their threats are baseless; they would get laughed out of court, and fined for wasting the court’s time.  At first I felt scared and intimidated, but over time I gained strength to stand up for myself and not let them scare me.  I’d been scared for far too long already, and that’s just what a bully wants.

My anthem has been “Bully” by Shinedown.  Telling about how you’ve been abused and bullied is crucial, because abuse thrives in silence, in the shadows.  Telling takes you from being a victim to surviving, to eventually thriving.

It may even save you from worse, because if the bully carries out his threats, everyone will know who did it, and he knows this.  If you’re threatened with physical violence, tell the police.

Many of my blogs these days basically go into more minute detail on some topic I already covered in my stories of what all happened, so it’s not as if they’re reading anything new, but it’s for people who want to read about those specific topics in general.

Like the other day, when I saw in my stats that somebody in a library in some other state, read my page on abuse against husbands.  Based on the search term, I bet that was an abused husband looking for help, using a library so his wife wouldn’t find out.  It warmed my heart to think that I might be helping this man.

I’m so driven by the topic of abuse of all kinds, and wanting to stop it, that one of my oldest friends keeps urging me to turn it into a profession.

I’ve long since written off Tracy as a lost cause, and don’t want her back.  But if there is any way at all to break through Richard’s hard heart, I know I have tried it.  I know I have said all I needed to say to them both.  And while I still have moments when the anger flares up, I feel the angst starting to depart…..

I went back to Prozac Blogger’s blog the other day, and found an announcement that he has finally healed from his father’s abuses, that while he’ll keep the blog online for others who need it, he’s doing a new one on happier topics.

I also discovered a few posts a few months ago about directly confronting his father and cutting him out of his life–that he has “won.”  (“I Won! or: How I dealt with my father,” which I can no longer find, even in the Wayback Machine.  😛  ) Gee, could there be a correlation…..

So what festered for two (really, four, because there were so many things Tracy did back then and never apologized for) years in my head, I’ve spent the last six months finally getting out to the ones who put it there.

It’s like when I told my husband a dream I’d had, and he interpreted it as, me wanting to tell them to take their crap back.  Many people warn against confronting abusers, legitimately because it can be very dangerous.  But even so, it can be healing, so many others say go ahead and do it.

It’s just like when, in the past several years, I read over the copies of some letters I’d sent to abusive exes, and discovered that even if I did not then have all the knowledge I now have of abuse, I still confronted them with everything I needed to say.

Even though they reacted badly, I had this proof that it had been done, which suddenly released me from the feeling of unfinished business.  Since I had directly confronted the abusers, rather than just writing their actions into stories, journals, letters and forums–all forms of communication which were to others, not the abusers–I could feel peace at last.

Though I could still do the other forms as well, the chief need had been fulfilled.

….How odd.  It looks like, yesterday, unless somebody else is now matching their domain stats in one of my trackers, which is highly unlikely because nobody else ever has, they found my Mammoth Cave page through a Google search….Did they even realize it was mine?

[Update 7/26/14: In those days, my stalkers were the only ones showing up in my Google Analytics with the Network “mcore.”  Through a new category added to Analytics recently, the “User Bucket,” I was finally able to discover whether this reader of “Mammoth Cave” was my stalkers.  No, it was not.  But all other hits from “mcore” were my stalkers.]

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn But that’s all right because I like the way it hurts Just gonna stand there and hear me cry But that’s all right because I love the way you lie I love the way you lie  Rihanna/Eminem, “Love the Way You Lie”

I’ve pulled some quotes from the Net about blogging used as therapy, an intensely popular pastime this past decade:

Research has long backed the therapeutic value of diary-keeping for teenage girls and boys. But according to a new study, when teenagers detail their woes onto a blog, the therapeutic value is even greater. Blogging, it seems, can be good for you.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Services and conducted by Meyran Boniel-Nissim and Azy Barak, psychology professors at the University of Haifa, Israel, found the engagement with an online community allowed by the blog format made it more effective in relieving the writer’s social distress than a private diary would be….

In all the groups, the greatest improvement in mood occurred among those bloggers who wrote about their problems and allowed commenters to respond. –Pamela Paul, A Blog as Therapy for Teenagers

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings.

But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery….

Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situations, Morgan explains: “Individuals are connecting to one another and witnessing each other’s expressions—the basis for forming a community.” –Jessica Wapner, Blogging–It’s Good For You

When a 24-year-old woman who called herself “90DayJane” launched a blog in February announcing she would write about her life and feelings for three months and then commit suicide, 150,000 readers flocked to the site….

Few, however, questioned why she would share her deepest thoughts and feelings with strangers online. In the age of cyber-voyeurism, the better question might be: Why wouldn’t she?

…Roughly 12 million Americans have blogs, according to polls by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2006, and many seem to use them as a form of group therapy….

Writing long has been considered a therapeutic outlet for people facing problems. A 2003 British Psychological Society study of 36 people suggested that writing about emotions could even speed the healing of physical wounds:

Researchers found that small wounds healed more quickly in those who wrote about traumatic personal events than in those who wrote about mundane activities.

But it’s the public nature of blogs that creates the sense of support.  Reading someone else’s blog can be surprisingly beneficial….

“Blogging can create an instant support system, especially at a time when you might not have the energy or resources to seek out people who’ve shared your experiences,” says Mason, author of “No One Cares What You Had For Lunch,” a book on keeping a blog interesting. –Anna Jane Grossman, Your Blog Can Be Group Therapy

Some people have all the time in the world to have therapy sessions to talk about their feelings with a shrink who constantly asks about their “mommy” or “daddy issues”. Don’t get me wrong, I believe psychiatrists help a great deal in solving serious problems that their clients have.

However, everything does not require a professional to solve problems that persist in our lives. We sometimes just need to let it all out, whatever it is that bothers us.

Here’s something you can actually do to air out your issues – blog.

What I have learned from blogging is that it gives you time to reflect on the things you are writing down, giving you a clearer perspective on the real underlying issue. –Margaret Keely, How Blogging Can Serve as Therapy

The Internet is now teeming with some 15 million blogs. Although the medium first drew mainstream attention with commentary on high-profile events such as the presidential election, many now use it to chronicle intensely personal experiences, venting confessions in front of millions of strangers who can write back.

Nearly half of bloggers consider it a form of therapy, according to a recent survey sponsored by America Online Inc….

“I think it’s a way of validating feelings. It’s a way of purging things inside of you,” said Judith HeartSong, a 41-year-old Rockville artist.

As a child, she kept diaries filled with anguished accounts of abuse hidden under her bed, she said, but now she posts entries on the Web. –Yuki Noguchi, Cyber-Catharsis: Bloggers Use Websites as Therapy

David Sax once joked that I use my blog as cheap therapy. He was right. I use this space to unload all the angst, worry and pent up emotions from my life in the restaurant. From my personal life too.

It feels good. More than once I’d be tossing and turning in bed only to find relief at my keyboard. Not like that. Well, yeah, like that and by blogging too. –Zane Caplansky, Blogging as Cheap Therapy

One woman’s fight to divorce her narcissistic husband, here on a blog.

“Through sharing my personal battles in the California Family Court System, I have created a support group for thousands of women to share their stories and receive advice,“ states Tina Swithin, creator and founder of One Mom’s Battle blog and Facebook page.

Like most independent bloggers, Tina began writing without an audience, a clear direction, or an understanding of her potential impact:

“I began my blog for personal reasons. It was a way for me to purge the emotions and stress resulting from a horrendous, high-conflict divorce. I was tired of burdening my friends and family with my fears, vents and frustrations, and I sensed that they were equally tired of hearing about it.

What started as a simple online journal has turned into something healing, empowering, and sometimes overwhelming in a positive sense. To date, I have had almost 150,000 views on my blog and the numbers grow every day.” –Paula Carrasquillo, Can Facebook help us heal? | Washington Times Communities

 

Sign of Sociopathy: Taking Pleasure in the Pain of Others; I’ve Seen It Many Times; Why It’s Okay to Be Angry About Bullying

I have witnessed people taking pleasure in the pain of others.  For example, my blog stalkers sending me a message saying that they “had a good laugh” at my pain, anguish and anger over their many abuses of my husband and me, then threatening me if I tell about it (proving that they knew they did something wrong, or it wouldn’t bother them for the truth to be told).

Or one of those blog stalkers, Tracy, posting on Facebook right after ripping me to shreds over a misunderstanding complete with cussing and aspersions on my character, “I’m having a GREAT day!”

(And this after all the kindnesses I had shown her over the years, because she could not accept that introverts are different from extroverts, that I am quiet and that she is too scary and mean to draw out a person like me.)

My own brother (who I suspect is a narcissist) turning to me and laughing every time a villain did something horrible on TV.  My brother burning ants with a magnifying glass.  My brother ridiculing everything I did, said or liked, even if he himself liked it first.  Hearing from my mother that my brother tried to kill me once when I was a baby.

Bullies making fun of me on the playground.  My ex Phil passive-aggressively embarrassing me in front of my friends more than once, for doing something he didn’t like.  Richard, the other blog stalker, laughing about turning his former best friend, Todd’s, Internet forum into a Hello Kitty theme, out of vengeance.

Tracy ripping Todd to shreds and smearing him on the Internet, making people think he was crazy, because he did something to help her, and she interpreted it as an attack.

My 18-or-so-year-old Marine brother choking me (I was about 11 or so) and saying, “I’ve been trained to kill.”

A guy who called himself a light bringer, who openly admitted to being “on a campaign against Christianity,” turning a disagreement over my SCA group’s website, into a campaign against that SCA group, posting our names online and claiming he was being religiously persecuted by us–when we just wanted our group site to load quickly, be easy to navigate, and not make the non-religious, educational SCA look like a Pagan religious group.

A girl cyberbullying all sorts of different people on a little BBS, and bringing her friends along to help.

Being sexually harassed day after day my freshman year of high school, by one of my teachers, one of the guys in the cafeteria (who even put his penis on the table next to me), and two guys in the row behind me in Biology class.

Being sexually harassed in filthy words again by a couple of Creeps in an IRC chat room, while Richard and Tracy did nothing, while Tracy in fact egged them on, and later being told by Richard that I was “being ridiculous,” that I needed to get over it, that it wasn’t real sexual harassment.

My aunt constantly ridiculing and scolding her mother during visits.  My aunt, as my mother put it, “destroying” my grandmother, who is very old and losing her faculties.  My aunt alienating everyone in the family.  My aunt scolding me for everything I did or said, and accusing my innocent dad and brothers of sexually molesting me, because of the “way” I was (selective mutism, shyness).

I take no pleasure in writing about these things, only pain that’s being dredged up in order to release mine and help others.  But someone who enjoys the pain of others, would giggle while posting real names and/or pictures and clicking “post.”

Some sites I look at say that narcissists/psychpaths/sociopaths lack conscience and empathy.  But the blogger of Narcissists Suck puts it another way, that they do have conscience and empathy, but it’s malfunctioning:

How do we know the narcissist still has an operational conscience? Let’s ask the question another way. How do we know the narcissist is aware of the difference between right and wrong? Because of the multiplied and extensive efforts they make to hide their bad acts.

The truly insane person is defined as an individual who is unable to distinguish right from wrong and will therefore commit their crimes regardless of who is looking on.

Their lack of any attempt to hide their crimes is how we determine they are insane, i.e. they lack rational ability and conscience. (By this definition, psychopaths are not insane. Rarely will our justice system allow a psychopath to claim insanity when the evidence shows the psychopath’s many efforts to hide his crimes.)

We don’t see true insanity in the narcissist. We see them presenting an image of perfection to outsiders then going home to beat the wife and sexually abuse the kid.

Then they will pull your face close to theirs and through snarling lips and gritted teeth tell you that if you try to expose their bad deed they will destroy you. This person knows what they are doing is wrong.

They are careful as to when and where they commit their base acts. Only the helpless and the vulnerable get to see the fully unmasked narcissist. This is all the proof we need that they do indeed possess a conscience. Albeit, a perverted, abused and malfunctioning one.

The narcissist still has a conscience, as evidenced by their multiplied efforts to hide their bad acts. We have clear proof they know the difference between right and wrong. –Anna Valerious, Narcissist or Psychopath, Narcissists Suck

This writer would agree, then, that Richard knew that how he and Tracy were treating me was wrong, by the way he spit, hissed, threatened, yelled at, got into the face of and towered over, and tried to intimidate my husband for sticking up for me.

Psychopaths, sociopaths and malignant narcissists are not just high-profile criminals, SS officers, cult leaders, or colorful fictional villains.  They also can be otherwise ordinary people living next to us in the suburbs or apartment building.  The damage they do is mostly psychological or emotional rather than criminal, though many of them commit physical or sexual abuse as well.

From the two-part article “Who Does That?”:

But being able to spot pathology in less overt and even frequently hid, yet equally as damaging acts, is where most of us fall short-even professionals in the criminal justice and mental health systems.

It’s also where survivors of PLR’s are likely to trip up yet again since the ‘types’ of behaviors pathologicals perpetrate can vary causing confusion to the unsuspecting, highly tolerant and emotionally understanding survivor.

Low empathy is at the core of a cluster of pathological disorders that correlates to ‘inevitable harm’ when it crosses the paths of others. Low empathy has its roots in reduced conscience, remorse, and guilt. Without empathy pathologicals find pleasure in harming others.

While they might not cackle aloud in public when a dog is hit by a car, they no less live in the shadows of enjoying the physical or emotional destruction of others. –Sandra Brown MA, Who Does That?

 

The sociopath does not accept the blame for any of the harm and hurt they cause other people. In fact the sociopath is convinced that the blame for what happened belongs with someone other than themselves, even when this clearly is not the case.

They don’t care that they damage and destroy other people’s lives. Their only concerns are winning the game and getting what they want. —How to recognize a sociopath

A sociopath can do hideously cruel and immoral things to other people without feeling any guilt.How to recognize a sociopath

The victim of a sociopath may feel physical and/or emotional pain as a result of what has been done to them. The sociopath cannot identify with the misery they are causing for the other person. Instead they are derisive of the pain of their victims, and they may use the upset they cause to their own advantage. —How to recognize a sociopath

Bancroft’s PROFILE of the TYPICAL ABUSER (actually, of a malignant narcissist):

“The batterer is controlling; he insists on having the last word in arguments and decision-making, he may control how the family’s money is spent, and he may make rules for the victim about her movements and personal contacts, such as forbidding her to use the telephone or to see certain friends.

He is manipulative; he misleads people inside and outside of the family about his abusiveness, he twists arguments around to make other people feel at fault, and he turns into a sweet, sensitive person for extended periods of time when he feels that it is in his best interest to do so. His public image usually contrasts sharply with the private reality.

He is entitled; he considers himself to have special rights and privileges not applicable to other family members. He believes that his needs should be at the center of the family’s agenda, and that everyone should focus on keeping him happy.

He typically believes that it is his sole prerogative to determine when and how sexual relations will take place, and denies his partner the right to refuse (or to initiate) sex.

He usually believes that housework and childcare should be done for him, and that any contributions he makes to those efforts should earn him special appreciation and deference. He is highly demanding.

He is disrespectful; he considers his partner less competent, sensitive, and intelligent than he is, often treating her as though she were an inanimate object. He communicates his sense of superiority around the house in various ways.

The unifying principle is his attitude of ownership. The batterer believes that once you are in a committed relationship with him, you belong to him.

This possessiveness in batterers is the reason why killings of battered women so commonly happen when victims are attempting to leave the relationship; a batterer does not believe that his partner has the right to end a relationship until he is ready to end it.

Because of the distorted perceptions that the abuser has of rights and responsibilities in relationships, he considers himself to be the victim.

Acts of self-defense on the part of the battered woman or the children, or efforts they make to stand up for their rights, he defines as aggression against him.

He is often highly skilled at twisting his descriptions of events to create the convincing impression that he has been victimized.

He thus accumulates grievances over the course of the relationship to the same extent that the victim does, which can lead professionals to decide that the members of the couple “abuse each other” and that the relationship has been ‘mutually hurtful.”

It seems that CONTROL is the problem – not VIOLENCE.

Bancroft writes:

“A significant proportion of batterers required to attend counseling because of a criminal conviction have been violent only one to five times in the history of their relationship, even by the victim’s account.

Nonetheless, the victims in these cases report that the violence has had serious effects on them and on their children, and that the accompanying pattern of controlling and disrespectful behaviors are serving to deny the rights of family members and are causing trauma.

Thus the nature of the pattern of cruelty, intimidation, and manipulation is the crucial factor in evaluating the level of abuse, not just the intensity and frequency of physical violence.

In my decade of working with abusers, involving over a thousand cases, I have almost never encountered a client whose violence was not accompanied by a pattern of psychological abusiveness.”

“An abuser’s desire for control often intensifies as he senses the relationship slipping away from him. He tends to focus on the debt he feels his victim owes him, and his outrage at her growing independence.” —The Mind of the Abuser, Sam Vaknin

My blog stalkers can read these posts and enjoy all the attention, which I’m sure they’re doing, since they show such avid interest in my thoughts and life that they’ve been here several times this week.  But I don’t care.  And I’m certainly not talking “behind their backs,” because they’re reading everything and I’m well aware of it.

Because they are so interested and I have no other safe means of communication with them, they have made this blog into a vehicle for me to confront them with what they have done and how their behavior affects people, to show them how their actions fit in with the established behaviors of abusers, to show them that their salvation is at risk as long as they do not own what they’ve done, and change how they treat people.

I do this rather than sneak silently into the shadows as if I were doing something wrong, as if I were telling lies instead of the truth I have witnessed and can document.

These posts are for other victims of narcissists and sociopaths who need to understand that it’s not their fault these things have happened, that they’re not crazy, that it’s okay to speak out about what’s been done to them.

These posts are to help you understand what these behaviors look like, not just some clinical traits in an abuse list or the DSM.

Take courage.  There really are people who do these things, and quite a lot of them, from the keyword searches I see.

“Evil Is Taking Pleasure From Causing Pain or Harm”Happiness and Evil.

“He thrived on intimidating me.  He derived pleasure from causing me pain” —Taking Pleasure From Pain.

The next red flag is, “Hated for Mysterious Reason by People Close to Them”:

In fact, another red flag is being hated — I mean really hated — for mysterious reasons. And by people that hating is uncharacteristic of.

If, say, a person’s adult son or daughter doesn’t even visit him in the hospital or go to his funeral,* there is a heavy-duty reason for that. Fortunately, it’s not our responsibility to judge.

But we do need to appreciate the weight of such a startling fact. People do things for reasons. They are not always good reasons or just reasons, but people do things for reasons.

*Good examples: Abraham Lincoln did not go to his father’s funeral, and Barbara Bush did not go to her mother’s funeral. “What Makes Narcissist Tick”, pg. 79

This red flag is well understood by those of us who have been through hell with a narcissist and found ourselves loathing them and forcing no contact for our protection.

We would be very unlikely to judge someone else harshly if we found out they had inordinate hatred for a particular person even a parent or sibling. So this red flag is one most of us would readily understand.

Unfortunately, most people out there in the world do not have any of this understanding. They are far too quick to judge what they don’t know.

They are quick to condemn our hatred of a malignant narcissist as being wrong. They are naive to a fault about people who are capable of earning such hatred — so they condemn us.

This red flag should be put on billboards and written with sky-writing: Respect the fact that people do things for reasons therefore don’t be willing to judge what you know nothing of.

Remember, Kathy is talking about a mysterious, intense hatred for a particular person in someone whom you know doesn’t go around routinely hating people.

Narcissists, on the other hand, have a very long “enemies list” so it can’t be said it is uncharacteristic of them to hate others. It is their default and normal setting.

But when you meet someone who typically gets along well with most people then know for sure that if they hate someone there is a reason for it. It isn’t for you to judge whether or not the reason is “good.” Frankly, it isn’t anyone’s damn business. –Anna Valerious, More Red Flags, Narcissists Suck

 

The sensitive, tender little feelings that the narcissist has for themselves is an extension of the empathy they have for themselves. They refuse to feel your pain, but they expect you to feel theirs!

I use the word ‘refuse’ advisedly. It is a willful act on their part to unacknowledge the pain they inflict upon you. They know what they’re doing. Their empathy allows them to know how you feel. They simply refuse to feel anything for your sake.

I’m going to cast the net a bit wider than just narcissists here. Anyone who is in a relationship with an abusive person has seen how sensitive the abuser’s feelings are.

People who stay in abusive relationships seem to be those who can’t see the huge disconnect in their own thinking.

The disconnect is this wide gulf between the abuser’s lack of empathy for you at the time they’re abusing you and yet how carefully you have to step around the abuser’s feelings at all times! The common refrain among those caught in abusive relationships is “walking on eggshells”.

The abuser’s feelings rein supreme at all times. Everyone else is expected to cowtow to, step around, coddle, soothe, and respect the feelings of the abuser at all times.

Yet, when the abuser needs to unload, he or she reserves all rights to decimating and destroying your feelings and self-respect until they feel better.

It is a sick, sick dynamic. And it is perpetuated by largely by the victim’s non-recognition of the absolute unfairness of this system….

Every psychopath has feelings for himself. The same psychopath gets a total thrill from hurting your feelings.

Even if we’re only talking about someone who emotionally abuses you on occasion so they can feel better it is the same principle. Someone who ignores your pain but has all kinds of compassion for their own pain is a sick sonafabitch. Steer clear. —Do They Have Feelings?, Narcissists Suck

No matter the appearance of a mild-mannered nature — if a person excuses abusers it is because there is some space in their minds which accedes to the notion that in at least some cases abuse can be justified.

In the case of my father there was some evidence of aptitude for abuse, but it was rare enough that I could easily forget and thereby resume my opinion of him that he was not abusive.

His unmitigated support of my mother, his lack of having ever protected myself or my daughter from my mother’s abuses, his absolute demand I be the one to apologize, move on and forgive my mother in the absence of any sincere effort on her part to make things right, his unsubtle reminders of the sins of my youth to try to prove I had no right to hold my mother to any account…all these things proved to me once and for all that he is an abuser himself.

Only abusers are willing to grant other abusers the right to abuse! It is at its very root a pass they are giving to themselves. Excusing abuse is abuse in itself. It is a red flag that the person has themselves a propensity for abuse.

Granting absolution to abusers is always an extremely selfish thing to do; it ignores the humanity of the person abused and preserves compassion for the one doing the abusing and by doing so gives the person excusing the abuse a pass for the abuse they may decide to dish out themselves….

Allow yourself to really think about the selfishly evil use of empathy of the narcissist. They use it to know (and enjoy) exactly how they are making you feel as they use and abuse you. That is what we call sadistic.

They use it to manipulate you to their own ends. Or else they will use it to feel for their sorry-assed selves. These uses of their ability to empathize are profoundly selfish and often cruel.

There is no merit whatsoever for the fact that the narcissist is indeed fully in possession of the ability to empathize. In fact it is a solid basis for our condemnation of them.

They pervert their ability to empathize and use it to selfishly exploit others to their own ends, to find pleasure in the pain they inflict, as well as to grant themselves pity when they least deserve it.

If the narcissist was incapable of empathy we could grant them a pass for having some sort of disability.

We must acknowledge the reality that the narcissist is all the more evil because they do possess this ability but choose to use it for their own selfish ends against you. They have managed to completely pervert their ability to empathize. –Anna Valerious, They DO Have Empathy–Just Not For You

ProzacBlogger gets it, writing about his stepmother, who scolded him for cutting off contact with his father, and defended his father.  Heck, what he says about her is just what I want to say to Richard for sticking up for how Tracy treated me:

My father was a monster and she sticks up for him. I know she doesn’t know him that way, which is fine. But respect another person’s experiences, I DON’T CARE IF HE’S YOUR HUSBAND. —Writing to Exhale, Because F*CK! I Need It

From the same writer:

The world is filled with bullies such as the busdriver I ran into yesterday. Your abuser was one of them, bullies at schools are the same trash, my father is one of those idiots; pathetic people compiled of a bunch of failures and insecurities wrapped in a shiny box and coated with a bunch of wild fantasies and lies.

Understand this, these people NEED to do what they do in order to stay alive. Do you think they can look at themselves in the mirror and think: I’m such a nice, good looking person!

Or do you even think they can honestly say to themselves: I didn’t do anything wrong right after they beat the shit out of you or someone else? No.

Instead of that they don’t look in the mirror at all, but instead go with what any other person (besides you) says about them.

They will never look at themselves after they ruined someones life, instead of that they will come up with millions of reasons (lies) why YOU DESERVED IT! –Prozacblogger, How to Prevent Bullies and Abusers From Getting to You

Like ProzacBlogger and Anna Valerious, the writer of Narcissists Suck, I’m not concerned with hearts and flowers and how we should try to “understand” our bullies and sociopaths.

They don’t care about our feelings, so why should we care about theirs?  Trying to “understand” the bully and get the victim to “let go” is just defending the bully and letting him get away with what he did.

Stick up for the victim instead, acknowledge his pain and that he has a right to it, and hold the bully accountable.  As Anna Valerious writes,

You have the psychobabblers and do-gooder Christian types clucking their tongues if you happen to show a flash of anger when talking about the narcissist.

They immediately assume that you are not progressed yet to a place of ‘healing’ if, when talking about the evil narcissist and her evil acts perpetrated on your own life (which likely has ongoing effects on your life and is therefore a crime in progress), you dare display your outrage.

People are afraid of our anger. Why? One reason is because they are sloppy thinkers. They think that our anger is the problem when the real problem is the monster who inflicts pain every chance they get.

Our anger is an appropriate response to their inappropriate behavior. If the tongue-cluckers insist we should not let ourselves feel an appropriate emotion then they are, in reality, insisting we become like the narcissist–pretending our way through life and denying what we feel. I’m not going there for anyone….

I have always been aware that by expressing my anger and hatred toward people with ‘evil personality disorder’ I would be condemning myself in the eyes of those who choose to think that reaching a zen-like space is proof of having healed. I am willing to be seen as not having progressed to perfect equanimity with evil people. I’ll explain why as I go.

It would have been such a simple thing for me to talk about malignant narcissists completely dispassionately. Kind of like the droning of the boring professor in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” where, regardless of the subject matter, I would speak in one tone endlessly.

I’m sure many would be impressed with how strong I am to have gotten to where nothing rattles me. I could receive much praise for having perfectly ‘healed’ from my past.

I’m not going for any silly little awards like that because I don’t believe perfect calm in the face of evil is a goal to strive for. No matter how many people may praise me for it…

I’m all about being real here. Here’s how I see it. If I were to be completely dispassionate in the discussion of destructive narcissism it would send the message to you that I would not be provoked into defending you if I were to witness the injustices of the narcissist you’ve endured.

When you read my justified anger at the bad acts of the narcissist as it has affected me it gives you good reason to believe I would be just as outraged at what you’ve endured. You sense my empathy when you read my outrage.

To display only perfect calmness in the face of overt evil would not convince you that I give a rat’s ass about you.

I do give a rat’s ass. Which most of you ‘get’ when you read what I have to say. You sense I am one of your champions. You believe I would defend you against the indefensible acts of the narcissist if I were witness to them.

You believe that I would not condemn your own justifiable anger at the total injustice of the evil acts of the narcissist. If I give myself permission to express my anger at injustice…surely I would give you the same latitude. –Anna Valerious, An Accurate Measure of Mental Health ISN’T Lack of Anger

 

This blogger describes a sociopath as a child bully ganging up on anyone who disagrees with him or her, and giggling at them–but this is emotionally stunted behavior, not normal:  Healing from Complex Trauma and PTSD