Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Month: January 2013 (page 1 of 3)

Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars, Return of Rick, Adjusting to New Dorm, Spitball-Throwing Teacher–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1993, Part 3

Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars

Cindy, who’d moved twice in Krueger since the beginning of the year, quickly decided that the “horror stories” about her new freshman roommate, Tamara, weren’t true.

Then she had some “irreconcilable differences” with her, though Tamara seemed to like her, so she stayed with Rachel until she could get a new room.

Now she considered Tamara to be psychotic.

I liked Tamara because we both liked old movies, playing cards, and The Far Side.  Cindy said Tamara claimed to have a gun to protect herself against her old roommate, who threatened to kill her–but she didn’t actually have one.

Tamara was a tall, slender girl with short, curly brown hair.  I believe that, along with the gun thing, she said she didn’t drink, then would drink.  This may have also applied to smoking.

I got along with her and she seemed to like me a lot, especially since we had things in common, such as nightly flossing.  I believe she lived in that same room all year, though Cindy ended up moving in with Catherine.

Tamara would talk incessantly about the oddest things, though.  One night, I came into the bathroom and she was there; we got to talking even as she was in a stall.  She said she’d just been on a date and got stubble burn.  She asked if I’d ever had that before.

To the surprise of everyone, in January she broke up with a cute, nice guy (the one who gave her stubble burn) to go out with the not-cute, obnoxious Dirk!

(This is the guy who liked me until he found out I was shy, and told me that half the guys at Roanoke were probably in love with me.  This guy also became my abusive ex’s flying monkey senior year.)

We couldn’t figure this out.  But then, they were both a little strange.

Rachel and Ralph may have been engaged for a time, or maybe they just promised to be engaged; a bit later, they had problems and their relationship was on very shaky ground.  But they withstood it, and in 1998 got married.

As far back as 1993, we expected them to get married eventually, and their troubles bothered us as well.  I remember feeling in 1998 that it was about time they got married.  Unfortunately, Ralph got into drugs, changed, and had affairs, so the marriage ended a short time later.

One day, I drew my signature beetle on my door’s message board.  Then somebody, probably Rachel, drew a little shotgun and wrote, “Blood and guts!”  I wrote a message calling her cruel, and resurrected my beetle.  Then Rachel drew a can of RAID.  I think this war went on for a little while.

Catherine glued or taped many small, black, hard plastic spiders to Rachel’s door, because Rachel hated spiders.  It may have been a Halloween thing.  Rachel apparently liked the joke, because she left them there until the end of the year.

Return of Rick

On Saturday the 11th, Pearl and I went with Cindy and her friends to a dance, which actually played good music.  There was some pornographic dancing, too, which we didn’t like to see (called “freaking”).

In our group was, to my surprise–Rick, the guy who made a date with me in the spring at “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” but never called me.  I decided to get revenge the biblical way: by acting nice so he’d feel coals of fire.  That’s a way of getting revenge without taking revenge.

I didn’t realize until later that his girlfriend was also with us.  I think she was the same one he had broken up with, then gotten back together with, around the time he asked me out.

I did as I planned, so whether or not he remembered me and what he did, I still came out with dignity.  He did appear to look at me a few times.

He kept playing with my umbrella, with a handle in the shape of a duck’s head.  Once, he held a balloon and began contemplating it, so I started poking at it with my duck’s bill.  He looked at the balloon like he was shocked.

(By the way, years later, somewhere between 2003 and 2005, Catherine saw him in town.  He did still remember me, even though I’d barely said anything to him over the years.  He wanted to know how I was doing.  I have now friended him on Facebook.  LOL)

Rick and Pearl sat at a table and arm-danced to “YMCA.”

YMCA?

This was about the time disco came back in vogue, not just the good songs but silly ones like “YMCA,” even though the 70s had been considered uncool for years–especially disco.

Pearl liked it, and I think her old classmates from high school liked it, but I didn’t know what to think.

Later on, we went to the Phi-Delt suite for something, then walked back along the Hofer sidewalk.  Rick’s girlfriend felt cold.  He gave her his coat, the same long, black, classy one which had caught my attention sophomore year.

I felt a twinge of jealousy, but only a twinge.  I knew he wasn’t the kind of guy I wanted to date.  (This is good, since they’ve now been married for many years.)

Adjusting to New Dorm

Just as in the suites, our room had a full-length mirror on the door, only this time, we couldn’t see it from our beds.  The Krueger rooms were the biggest on campus.  Our beds were along the wall with the door and to the right when you stand facing the outer wall; there was plenty of room between them and in the rest of the room.

Along the outside wall there was little besides a big window.  I think we had the dressers along the wall to the right of this, and my TV and VCR went on top of the dresser closest to my bed along the same wall.

Along the wall to the left was a narrow, tall closet (mine), a long desk with two chairs, two sets of drawers, two overhead lights, and another small closet (Clarissa’s).

I put my usual papers in the left side desk drawers, though at the end of the year I discovered a yellowish stain across several of them that I suspected was pee.  Had someone peed into the drawer before we moved in?

It could have been something else, but I had no way of knowing what.  I had to cut the stains off my papers, which I didn’t want to throw away because they were full of valuable writing notes, made over many years.

Though Rachel said we weren’t allowed to leave the doors to our rooms standing open if we left, even if we went to the bathroom (which was right across the hall from our room), Clarissa and I didn’t like taking along our key cards at all hours of the day and night.  I think we’d get fined if we left our door open (it was supposed to discourage stealing).

So to get around this, I developed a way of closing the door with two or three fingers stretched out to catch it just right, making it look closed, but not letting the lock catch.  That way, I could go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to figure out where to put my key card without a pocket.

During the coldest days of that frigid winter, we also weren’t supposed to leave on our space heaters when we left the room.  We weren’t supposed to have space heaters in the first place, but Rachel let us because the heat in the building was old and faulty.  She would make us get rid of them if we left them on.  Clarissa and I borrowed one from Pearl, because her suite room was warmer.

People weren’t supposed to block open the side or front doors, but did it anyway with the big doormats.

Security gave us little notes with their extensions so we could call them for a new service: night escorts around campus.  Ever since the rapist incident, we were encouraged not to walk alone at night, especially if we were female, and we could call Security if none of our friends could come with us.

Rachel made different pictures all year for each of our first-floor doors, according to the season: one was a hang-up monster for Halloween, another was cute animals, and others I don’t remember.

Yes, my friend Rachel was now my RA.  I don’t think she was more lenient with friends, but I also don’t think her friends gave her that much trouble.  We weren’t loud and obnoxious, at least not during quiet hours.  She was the RA the year before, too.

In InterVarsity, Shawn and another guy were gone, supposedly to UW-Madison; I don’t remember if we saw Dori or another guy much.  Dori may have already dropped out of InterVarsity due to disagreements with Pearl.

But we did have me, Clarissa, Pearl, Sharon, Astrid, and now Mike, the brother of Wendy, who had been the pledge master.

Mike was strange, but in a lovable way.  He was sweet and kind, and got along better with us women than with many men.

Anna may have shown up a few times, and a certain young black man sometimes did as well.  I don’t remember if Anna’s Pentecostal friend Samuel was still at Roanoke.

We also had an Asian guy who spoke with a thick accent we could barely understand, but was kind.  He was older and married.

We also had Tara, and a popular, sweet couple who later got married, Tanya and Matt.  (We knew Tanya and Matt from Sophomore Honors.)  Tara often helped make posters.

Finally, IV was listed in the Organizations section of the student handbook.  The Statement of Mission and Campus Compact made my friends and I laugh when we read them because they didn’t seem at all true to what we saw at RC.

I think the Mission was less laughable than the Compact, though.  The funniest part was the statement that “Roanoke College is a Christian community.”

There was a new lecture series requirement.  This did not apply to present juniors and seniors, but it did to sophomores, so my junior friends and I narrowly missed it.

We could joke with our sophomore friends, such as Carrie, Clarissa, Astrid and Mike, because they had to follow the requirement and we didn’t.  Commuters and non-trads didn’t like the requirement, because they had a hard enough time fitting in work, school and family.

I would do my laundry at all hours on Saturdays, since no one would complain and it was always open.

Roanoke-TV was channel 23, and that year the operators began to show movies for us.  My TV picked up these movies in hushed tones, so Clarissa and I could barely hear them even with the sound turned all the way up.

One day, perhaps junior year, there was a family day or parents’ day.  Often, many black students gathered in the Muskie to watch MTV Jams; today, many of them sat in Bossard instead during one of the meals.

A little girl yelled out, “There’s a lot of black people here!”  (That part of Wisconsin was mostly white in those days, with just the occasional Hmong.)  I bet her parents were terribly embarrassed.

I’m not sure when my friends started using “obnoxious” to describe not just socially boorish behavior, but annoying things that happened.

Spitball-throwing teacher

The year before, when some of my friends took World Civ, they complained that Dr. Williams’ class was too hard.  I chose him anyway, possibly to avoid an 8:00 class.  Others chose different teachers.

I did not regret choosing Dr. Williams.  He knew history and many of its anecdotes, and though his lectures were fast, they were thorough.

Many students would just grab the textbook and start highlighting things as he lectured, rather than bothering to take notes.  I may have begun to do some of this myself, later on, only underlining instead of highlighting.

Many aspects of history fascinated me.  Much of it was new to me, because our textbooks described far more than White, Anglo-Saxon history:

They went into the histories of American and African civilizations, including North and South American Indians and the blacks of Africa, not just North Africa.  The books recorded the civilizations of India, China, Japan, and other parts of the globe.  We went all the way to 1714.

I read my textbook as I sat at the information desk in the library, since most of the time there was little else to do.  Seymour thought I was a History major.

During first semester, many of the people in the history lessons were in my family tree, so I would often go to Williams after class and talk about them.

The tests were all essay questions and identifications, but you could pick and choose which ones to answer.  For me, studying was mostly reading over my notes for the past several weeks, and this was enough to help me do well on the World Civ tests.

Though I had always preferred simpler, multiple-choice tests, I discovered these weren’t so bad.  My test scores were A’s, except for one B+ (with an amusing note from the teacher of: “OK but you can do better”).

In my notes, on December 1, I noted, “Force a Scotsman to do anything?  He fights (that explains myself [with my Scottish ancestry]).”

You may want to know what historical figures were in my family tree.  According to research done by me, my aunt and uncle, and my dad, they are:

Scottish King Duncan I and his son Malcolm of Macbeth, John & Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower, possibly Viking king Rollo, and Sir Francis Drake.  There are others, but these are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

GROSSNESS ALERT!  If you’re eating or about to eat, please wait until later to read the following:

There was one problem with Dr. Williams, however: He spit as he lectured, and a ball of it would gather in the corner of his mouth until he licked it off.  Absolutely disgusting, but true.

I knew from my friends to never sit in the first row, but I discovered on the first day of class that the second row was also bad.  I spent the whole class wiping off my face and neck and wondering if I just had overactive nerves causing tingles.

The next day of class, I sat in the third row and didn’t have this problem, so I knew it wasn’t just me.

At dinner, or at lunch the day after my first day of class, we had chocolate soft-serve ice cream, and I had trouble eating my ice cream cone as I fought to keep thoughts of Dr. Williams out of my head.  (Grossness puts me off my appetite.)

Within a short time, I was able to go through lunch without thinking of his spitballs, which kept me from wasting away from a lack of appetite.

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:

 

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

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

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

I held certain theological positions based on my Nazarene upbringing, which got him asking how any Christian could believe that way.

Those positions, by the way, also led me to Orthodoxy, because the search I started to show him I was not a heretic, led me to discover that many of the things my dad had taught me, were very similar to Orthodox beliefs.  (This is all related to the Harrowing of Hell and the meaning of Old Testament sacrifices, could Old Testament pagans be saved, that sort of thing.)

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

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

No, I can’t call a sweet, pious, loving Muslim woman, truly evil and depraved just because she happens to believe in Mohammed instead of Christ.

In Orthodoxy, I found prayers being answered as I prayed during Divine Liturgies and asked for the prayers of the Theotokos and saints alongside my own.

The doubts did resurface at times; I remember asking Richard about these questions during this time.

But friends I’d made over the years had drifted away, as they tend to when you change churches, or change jobs.

In one situation, I kept inviting to parties a friend with whom my other friends had problems.  My main group of college friends and I were still close via e-mail, but we were scattered around the state, too far to see each other often.

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

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

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

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

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

Richard and I had been friends for a couple of years, meeting on an Internet forum and also talking on the phone, so that I trusted him, believed in him, thought we had connected on a spiritual level.

He was my spiritual mentor, the one who led me to Orthodoxy and helped me every step of the way with my questions, who explained various parts of the faith to me.  He was the one to whom I spilled all the private details when my dad left my mom for a short time.  I didn’t even tell my college friends what I told him.

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

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

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

That he was keeping things from me,  deceiving me.

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

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

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

That he was using me for my generosity.

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

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

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

This wasn’t the only thing that brought it back up, however.  On June 9, 2009, I watched the movie The Seventh Seal; it explored the same feelings I had about death, that we can’t really be sure what will happen, that we are afraid of the void, of going into emptiness.

I e-mailed Richard about this, since I could safely talk to him about these fears.  I know from this e-mail that those feelings had been stirring again in me already in 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s kind of funny that he talks as if I have any sort of control over this.  I don’t.  God made me with a brain that always questions and thinks and reads and contemplates.  Even in elementary school, teachers noted it.

And these thoughts have been with me since at least 2005, have been with mankind forever.  I also see them in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, a work which my fellow Orthodox converts online love to talk about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little over an hour ago, around 1pm, I left my house for an errand which I won’t describe, for safety purposes.  As I walked up to an intersection, I saw a familiar-looking van with at least one familiar-looking child in it.

As they pulled up to the stop sign, I was close enough to see the oldest girl (the one who, according to the information in the newspaper report, was choked).  I recognized her; our eyes met.

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

In any case, I’m quite sure the driver knew it was me, because of the little girl telling him/her.  And well, one of them will be reading this post, almost for sure, so they’ll confirm it.

I couldn’t tell for sure if it was Richard or Tracy in the driver’s seat, but thought it was Richard.  They drove off, turning down the street I was walking down.

I now knew for sure it was them because of the back/license plate.  Oh, look, now there are even more bumper stickers on the back.

So just think: If I’d left off putting down salt on the walkway before leaving home, I would’ve left the house a few seconds earlier, and made it to the intersection right as Richard drove up.

I would’ve had to watch to make sure he was waiting for me to cross….Then again, because I had to cross the street twice, since the sidewalk ends on that side of the street, and he was turning that way.

He would have seen me, for sure.  It would have been…..awkward, to say the least.

I was shaken up all during the following hour as I did my errand.

But hey, it happens on occasion.  It’s weird that it happens so often, because we’re not some dinky little town, we have some 50,000 people, they live a couple of miles away, those kids go to a different school, and there’s a more direct route from their house to the street we were heading to.

No, I do not go out at the same time every day.  But I could swear it’s been happening more often since they found my blog.

But what really creeped me out was about an hour or so later, on my way home, they passed me AGAIN. 

There’s the back of the van with the political bumper stickers.

This was a different path than they took before, and leads right past my house.

Um…..

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

This time I made a little wave–half-sarcastically, half-for the little girl if she saw me.  And half to let him know that yes, I know it’s you, and yes, it’s me.  Yes, I will be blogging about it.

There is a gesture I really wanted to make instead, but I’m too much of a lady for that.  And you can’t see it through a mitten.

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

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

Blogs help people realize they aren’t the only one who feel this way. We can support one another.

And that is what I see as the real Body of Christ, yes even on blogs, even when we have not met in person or only know each other by a pseudonym.

Blogs are a powerful vehicle for processing abuse.Julie Anne Smith in a comment to the same post

Update 8:40pm: As my old friend Shawn used to say, it’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you.

And these two have threatened me, as I documented here, and they still watch my blog constantly; I have detailed records proving it.

Even my mother told me, when this first started last spring, to keep an eye out for them while walking, to protect myself.  (Hypervigilance or hyperarousal is also a symptom of PTSD.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So even if the oddly increased number of times their vehicle happens to go by at just the right moment to pass me, is just coincidence–

–Their established behavior and boundary violations make it necessary to keep an eye out–and to document it all here on the Net, just in case.

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

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

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

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

I still trigger on occasion. Perhaps it’s a song on the radio, a smell, or something I see that reminds me of him.

The difference is that now, after a great deal of hard work, I am able to recognize triggers for what they are, thereby disabling them from feeding what’s left of my own implant.

In fact, I have developed the ability to recognize it almost immediately and have caught myself laughing out loud while thinking, “Oh, there you are again! I know what you are!”

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

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

Grieving the loss of a relationship with a N has many layers. They are not the usual layers of grieving a healthy person.

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

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

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

I moved to the same town he lived in and for the almost 2 years we were together we spent a lot of time there. After he [devalued and discarded] me I found it hard to walk into town.

I would get nauseous and shake. I was constantly looking around thinking he would be there and I would have to see him. Once I was actually physically ill.  —Jewish Warrior Princess, PTSD

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

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

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

I know they’re still in town because I see them in my stats once in a while.  Did they get a new vehicle/license plate?  Or could they be doing this deliberately so as not to scare me anymore?

Or could it be related to a post (now removed) which they read on January 30, in which I posted part of an e-mail conversation which proved that either Richard and/or Tracy had lied to me about our sticking point, and falsely accused me?

 

Shawn Calls; Living with Friends in Krueger; Funny Library Stories–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1993, Part 2

Living with Friends in Krueger

Krueger was much different from the suites: The laundry room was in the basement and full of machines.  The machines were now computerized, so you could run them for only as long as you needed to and no longer.  The dryers and washing machines all cost 75 cents now.

I didn’t have to go outside in all kinds of weather to do laundry.  I could put my bike in the laundry room, as other people did, though I never actually used it (I told people it was a bad winter).

There was a small, closet-like kitchen, and vending machines in the lounge with chips, candy and pop.  Though the rooms seemed more soundproof, late at night I often heard squeaking beds, despite trying to drown them out with the fan.  The dorm could get noisy at times, especially when the Pi-Kapp next door turned up sexy rap songs which I hated.

First floor Krueger had few residents, since the lounge divided it up.  Big doors separated the lounge from the two bedroom wings.

The only people living on the right side (when you face the wall opposite the outside doors) were the Hall Directors, a young couple.  I believe they lived in a suite of rooms, made up of at least two regular bedrooms.  Opposite their door was the R.A. office.

On the left side were about six rooms.  Clarissa and I were in one room, an obnoxious Pi-Kapp and her sweet roommate (who had a sex light over her bed) lived in the room to our left, and Rachel lived in the R.A. room on the opposite wall, next to the kitchen.

The Pi-Kapp’s room was closest to the left corner; Cindy had the room adjacent to theirs for a little while, before she moved in with Catherine; Carol and our Bulgarian friend lived to our right, and Catherine’s room was to their right.

Most of us had dry erase message boards attached to the doors.  Clarissa got us a big, white one.  We felt fashionable.

I apparently told Catherine about the “Happiness Patrol” episode of Doctor Who, a corny thing with one good part: Whenever anyone said, “I’m glad,” another said, “I’m happy you’re glad.”  The first said, “I’m glad you’re happy.”  Or if someone said, “I’m happy,” the second said, “I’m glad you’re happy,” and the first said, “I’m happy you’re glad.”

So Catherine and I began an amusing war on my message board: One of us would write, “I’m glad” or “I’m happy,” and the other wrote the appropriate response.  Only ours extended to, “I’m glad you’re happy I’m glad” or “I’m happy you’re glad I’m happy you’re glad I’m happy you’re glad.”  Sometimes this took up the entire board before we finished.

Another great thing about that corny episode: the premise that it’s okay to be sad sometimes.  Sometimes I feel like I’m being judged by the Happiness Patrol.

Krueger lounge was big, with a piano, lots of waiting-room type couches, and a TV.  You’d go down steps to the front door.  Visitors had to use a phone on the outside wall to call up residents of the hall to let them in, since the doors were always locked now.

The side doors were double-locked at night so even the residents couldn’t use them.  If you tried, an alarm sounded.  Not only was there the S– rapist a few months before, but someone let a scary man into Krueger who caused what the R.A.’s only called “an incident.”  (They refused to go into more detail.)

After they started locking the front door at all times, it was common for residents to let in whoever was going in the dorm behind them.  But now, they were forbidden to do this.  Each resident had to let herself in; all non-residents had to call a resident to let them in.  It’s just like the safety rules at an enclosed ATM.

I don’t remember if we had a “loud floor” that year.  I do know it wasn’t mine.

Astrid lived in a room on the third, top floor–and Krueger had no elevators.  Astrid was Clarissa’s friend; they met sophomore year, Clarissa told her about InterVarsity, and she started coming.  She eventually became part of the Group.

Over the summer, somebody donated money to build improvements on Jubilee Hall, and the name was changed to William A. Krueger Hall.  So we had two Krueger Halls!

We had to say “KREE-ger” for the new Krueger and “KROO-ger” for the old–but usually, we rebelled and continued calling Jubilee “Jubilee.”

In the directory, Jubilee was referred to as WAK, or William A. Krueger Hall.  I found this funny because “wak” was rap slang for (I think) “bad,” and because it sounded like “whack!”

When my schedule allowed me to sleep late in the morning, which was often, I stayed up late at night (usually till about one or two a.m.), reading and writing stories and writing papers on my word processor.

I played MTV softly, when they showed the best videos.  (My roommate was deaf.)  They played rock, maybe some rap, alternative, metal, and pop music, a wonderful mix that appealed to my need for variety.

I turned off all the lights except the one beside the bed, so Clarissa could sleep, the two lights giving everything a dreamlike quality.  I loved this time best of all the day.

I still loved dance and pop songs.  Alternative and hard rock/metal provided wonderful music during this time, such as White Zombie’s debut “Thunder Kiss ’65,” Tool’s “Sober,” Boingo’s “Insanity,” Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” Ocean Blue’s “Sublime.”

The songs “Today” by Smashing Pumpkins and a remake of “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff were my anthems for the year, because they were about happiness: “Today is the greatest day I have ever known.”  “I can see clearly now; the rain is gone.”  

Peter and Shawn had no more power over me.  I, Mom, and even Shawn noticed that I got happy as soon as they both left Roanoke.

Now the Phi-Delts had their own suite to live in.  The frats had both living suites and meeting suites now, but the sororities still had to meet in the Krueger basement.

But it was about time that at least some of the inequity was mended.  People had wondered if it was a sexist thing, giving the fraternities suites to meet in and no suites at all to the sororities.

Pearl recorded an outgoing message on her answering machine in which she said she wasn’t there and as for Sharon–“Sharon?  Shaaa-ron!” she called.  Then she said Sharon wasn’t there, either.  We would call her room just to hear the latest answering machine messages.

The Phi-Delt suite was in Hofer and right under the Sigma meeting suite.  During pledging, especially during Hell Week, we could sit in Pearl and Sharon’s room and hear the whack! whack! of big, long Sigma paddles being used on pledges.  They weren’t really supposed to paddle pledges–it was against anti-hazing rules or laws–but they did, anyway.

From my room, I could now see what the suites looked like from Krueger.  I saw the back of Hofer and part of the front of Friedli.  I believe I could see my suite from sophomore year.

I saw what the frats did to their back doors: painted them with the Greek letters of each frat.  The Zeta door, for example, was black and painted with ZX.  I could also see trees beyond the tennis courts, and I might have seen some of the houses on Prof Row.

Funny Library Stories

My library job had the occasional perk.  For one, Wesley would bring in his Expos class to do the Library Skills Workbook.

He was no longer my teacher, and would have been fair game, except–he was married now.  Sigh.  I’m not sure when he started dating his wife, but it must have been very recent, and a whirlwind courtship.

Another perk was, cute guys kept coming in to the library.  One, a freshman, came in to get the Appleworks start-up disc for the library computers.  Then he later dropped off the disc and started to go out the exit gate, but the alarm went off and locked the gate (a bar that would drop).

Flora came over (as did several others, including James).  She said, “Do you have a Mead Library book?”  (That was the S– library.)

“No,” he said.

“Do you have one of our books?”

“I don’t think so.”

He looked through his bag, and a guy checking out some books said, “Strip-search him.”

I said maybe it was the disc.  Flora said he must have put it too close to the scanner, and let him go.  It was so funny.  We weren’t allowed to accuse anyone of stealing books, which was just as well because we were more likely to laugh instead.

The alarm would go off if someone took one of our books without checking it out, but unfortunately, Mead books also set off our alarm.  A sign taped to the desk  said to show us your Mead library books so you won’t get embarrassed.

People did this, or pushed their bags across the desk to avoid the sensor if they had Mead books.  The Appleworks start-up floppy discs were given out by workers at the desk so we’d know where they were.

Shawn Calls

On Thursday the 9th, Clarissa and I hung out in Cindy’s room with her, her roommate Tamara, and Pearl.  The phone rang.  Cindy answered.

It was Shawn.

She didn’t recognize him at first because he sounded nothing like himself: low, soft, on the verge of crying.  Usually he could get so hyper you’d want to shoot him.

He got her number from the switchboard.  He’d called Pearl during the summer, but only twice, and only to ask if she wanted to take him to Great America.  She happened to be planning to go with the Phi-Delts, but they all backed out, and even Shawn didn’t go.  That was odd timing, as was his call on Thursday with us all there.

He had a bad summer, with everything happening at once: his brother died of cystic fibrosis, and a whole bunch of other things which I won’t describe, happened–and he hadn’t been talking.

Normally, you could not shut him up.  Even Cindy, though she tried, could not get him to talk enough.

He was on the edge of another nervous breakdown.  I was very worried about him, but also angry with him for how he left things between us.

Cindy told him we were in the room, so he knew I was there.  Pearl and Felicia eventually left.  Later on, when it sounded like Cindy and Shawn were about to hang up, I had her ask if he had my number.

“He wants to know if you want to give it to him yourself, or if you want me to do it,” Cindy said.

I was nervous and uncertain what to do, but said, “You do it.”

“Did you want him to call you?”

“Not tonight; maybe tomorrow night.”

Cindy said to Shawn, “You don’t have to do it.”

I said, “I hope he does,” and she told him.

They hung up.  “It seemed like he might call you, though I’m not sure,” Cindy said.

“If he calls you again, could you tell him I don’t want to go out with him, so he shouldn’t worry?”

“Okay.  Don’t take it personally if he doesn’t call you.”

“How can I not, if he calls everybody else but me?”

He told her he might come visit some time.  I hoped so, since I didn’t have a picture of him–and as I wrote in my diary, “because I see him everywhere!”

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:

 

Selective Mutism: Disorder or Extroverts Pathologizing Introverts?–Examining the Natural and Childhood Sources of my Quietness

I really struggle with this one.  I fit all or most of the selective mutism characteristics, because I am very quiet, even as an adult, and I’m also very shy.

But the more I learn about introversion, the more it sounds like quietness is a perfectly natural part of introversion, because of the way our brains process information and social situations, as contrasted to extroverts.

Since I am also very quiet most of the time even in groups of friends I’m familiar and comfortable with, my shyness is not the direct cause of my quietness.

Rather, it’s because I need time to process and come up with responses, which often leaves me left in the cold as extroverts talk over me when I try to talk, or the topic has already changed by the time I come up with a comment.

Or I just plain don’t have anything to contribute, because I don’t know enough about, or am not interested in, the topic.  Whatever I might say, others say before I get a chance.

I used to go to planning meetings for my church’s GreekFest, but stopped because I had nothing to contribute, and somebody even mentioned that I say nothing.

I’ll say almost nothing at a general assembly meeting for my church, then get home and e-mail thoughts to the parish council, thoughts which I could not properly formulate till I was at home with my keyboard.

While at home, with my husband or parents or roommate or best friend, I can be quite the chatterbox, though if I have nothing to talk about or my brain is taken up with my latest perseveration, I say nothing.

If I’m called upon to read aloud–at church, at school, wherever–I can do it with ease.  People have often complimented my reading skills, from as far back as at least middle school, and they do so when I read the Epistle at church.  I’m often called upon to read passages during Lenten services as well.

I do not have to think what to say; I simply read the text, make myself forget that a whole church is listening, and do not stumble over difficult names.

But I’m also very shy.  I don’t initiate conversation with strangers.  I struggle to speak to people who make me uncomfortable, especially if they are mean to me.

So is it selective mutism?  Or is it introversion?

Or have psychologists labeled an introverted trait as a “disorder” because we now live in a society which values extroversion, when in the olden days introversion was acceptable, and character was valued over personality?

I do know that research has shown that forcing a selective mute to speak, through shame or anger or punishment, is counterproductive.  I also know that research has shown that forcing an introvert to speak doesn’t work, since our brains are simply wired differently than an extrovert’s.  So–regarding the use of force, both are the same.

Susan Cain describes this eloquently in her new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Prior to the 20th century, we lived in what she terms “the culture of character.”  Individuals were judged primarily on the content of their character.

By the 1920’s, as America became more urbanized, and salesmanship became a vital part of the economy, people started being judged on their apparent personality. First impressions took on greater importance.

It was vital to be perceived as “captivating” and having a strong personality.  Winning friends and influencing people became the goal. –Greg Markway, PhD, Introverts Need Not Apply: The Problem With a World That Chooses Extraverts

I recommend Shyness is Nice, a blog about the value of shyness and quietness.  Some quotes:

The real revelation for me, though, is that being shy isn’t even necessarily a social handicap. Shy people have a great gift: their gut about whom to trust. It comes from years of observing people and a deep fear of being burned, and it pulls us away from the frigid, hateful and fake. –Celia Ampel, I’m Shy and I’m OK

Socially, I remained very reserved. I didn’t say much, other than to the small group of nerdy friends I regularly ate lunch with. I remember one day being stunned when a girl at school asked me, “Why are you so stuck up?”  –Greg Markway PhD, Introverted? Shy? How the World Misperceives Us

Yeah, I’ve gotten that one too, a few times.  It’s totally off-base.  I’m far too scared of people to think myself better than them, far too awkward and uncertain of myself, while they seem to know just what to do or say.

Today, Emily would be diagnosed with selective mutism.  The subtle, but significant, change of words from elective to selective represents a major advance in how we think about the condition.

Selective mutism is a variant of social anxiety disorder in which a child, who is normally capable of speech, is unable to speak in given situations, or to specific people.

Emily made progress even though I knew very little about what I was doing at the time. She had wonderful parents who accepted her struggles while also helping her gradually take tiny steps out of her comfort zone.

October is Selective Mutism Awareness Month, and I thought this would be a good time to discuss briefly some facts and myths about the disorder:

  • We now know that children with selective mutism desperately want to speak. Some children have described feeling that their vocal chords “freeze up.”
  • It is not a matter of will or stubbornness; it involves an underlying anxiety disorder that literally prevents speech in certain circumstances.
  • Children with this disorder tend to have shy, inhibited temperaments. They frequently are “highly sensitive persons.” –Greg Markway PhD, Scared Speechless: Children with Selective Mutism

In Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, she describes some extremely important research dealing with this issue of culture. The study, conducted by Xinyin Chen and Kenneth Rubin of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and Yuerong Sun of Shanghai Teachers University, compared children in both cities to determine what traits made children popular.

Among the group of 480 students in Shanghai, “shy” and “sensitive” children were the most sought-after as friends. In contrast, among the 296 Canadian children, shy and sensitive children were the least desirable.

This study shows that whether you’re accepted by others can have little to do with you personally and much to do with the prevailing cultural norms.  –Dr. Barbara Markway PhD, Quiet is Not a Four-Letter Word

Westerners tend to focus more narrowly on individuals, independence and on individuals taking action, while Asians are more likely to focus on context, harmony, and interdependence. –Greg Markway PhD, Shy and Popular? Depends on Where You Live

Recently, there was a letter to Dear Abby about a little girl who was too shy/anxious to talk with her aunt on the phone. When the aunt would visit, the girl would hide in her bedroom and not come out. The aunt asked Abby for confirmation that this girl was rude.

I thought for sure that Abby would suggest the aunt be more understanding of a frightened child. Instead, Abby labeled the girl as rude, but allowed that the child might need therapy.

What gives the aunt, or Dear Abby for that matter, the right to pin a negative label on a shy and sensitive child? Why does our society consider the shy and anxious to be defective? While I agree that this child may need help, what she needs most is to be accepted and understood.

As a therapist, I learned long ago that the quickest way to help someone change is to accept who they are first….

There is nothing wrong with being shy….

However, labeling this little girl as rude or obstinate will only compound the problem.

A healthier (and more effective approach) would be to accept that the child has a shy/anxious temperament.

Understanding friends and family members could tell the little girl that it is ok to feel anxious, that most people feel this way at times. They could help the child gradually practice small steps in being more sociable, to try things that take the child slightly out of her comfort zone. –Greg Markway PhD, Rugrats Vs. Dear Abby: The Wisdom of Chuckie

Michael Jones explains things this way:

It’s just not so. Children who are very quiet in school, and who are unhappy about it, are probably shy or are introverts. Children who are totally silent in school, but talk a lot at home with their family, may have selective mutism.  What’s the difference?

A shy child is keen to join in, but is anxious about how other people might react to them having a go at something, or talking in a group. Their anxiety can be so great that it stops them from joining in.

A child who is an introvert will enjoy being with other people, and may join in, but will be energised by being on their own: to think their own thoughts and to ‘do their own thing’.  Or they may operate best when working in pairs or small groups because they prefer the company of a few people at a time.

A child with selective mutism has developed an extreme anxiety about talking outside their home. They may have developed a dread of talking, or the possibility that someone will try and make them talk. They can be so anxious that they may ‘freeze’ physically and be unable even to move. —Shyness, Introversion and Selective Mutism Explained

So what is it if you’re just naturally quiet among friends and co-workers but not a bit shy, but shy and quiet with acquaintances and strangers?

I have no anxiety among friends and very little with co-workers with whom I have a good social relationship, yet I’m still quiet with them; that’s completely introversion.

But I’m shy with strangers and people I don’t know very well, speaking only when spoken to, so is that selective mutism?

Could my quietness be related to bullying, or is the bullying related to my quietness?

Hard to say in the early years.  I was always shy and uncertain.

I do recall a group of kids I tried to join in my early years of school, but they always ran away from me and made fun of me, and I had no clue why, so that helped teach me subconsciously that reaching out to make friends was “wrong.”  That it was bad to try to join a group.

In more adult terms, that me trying to make friends with somebody was stalkerish, that they had to invite me first.

This was reinforced in later years a few times when I would try to call a friend on the telephone, like other girls do, and they’d say I called too much, or ask in puzzled tones why I called.

I was always just as happy playing by myself with my dolls and imagination, as with other kids.  Even on the playground, if with friends I often played pretend games based on imagination, or played pretend by myself while surrounded by other kids.

To my friends and I, the brown tunnel (a drainage pipe painted like a log with a knothole) became the forest home of us, a family of foxes.

Yes, I did have friends, sweet and kind kids who didn’t care that the others called me weird; I could talk to them, while I was shy with other kids.

While the other kids simply played on the Kee-Klamp (a kind of twisted pipe with ladders), to me the Kee-Klamp was where the human settlers of the 10th planet from the sun (Spimpy) stayed to keep off the poisonous ground.

My imagination was fertile enough to keep me occupied even if I was alone.  That’s not anxiety, that’s introversion.  I often wish I could remember more of those games and worlds, so I could write them into children’s books.

I was bullied practically from birth by one of my brothers, who is still a bully to this day, so I have distanced myself from him in adulthood.  I live in a different state, making this easy.

I was also bullied all through school, starting in first grade, not ending until I graduated high school, so I had no reason to expect good things from new kids.

While most of my teachers were kind to me, I have had a couple of teachers who tried to shame and force me into being more outgoing: my teacher in 4th/5th grade, and my college German teacher.

Their shame and force did not work.  I couldn’t control which teacher I had in elementary school, and being in a MACPO school for gifted children, I expected to have the same teacher from 4th through 6th grade.

(I’d include a link, but all I get when Googling “MACPO” is a Minnesota group for probation officers.  MACPO was around in the 80s, but appears to have been replaced with PACE or Montessori schools.  My childhood school now has an entirely different structure.)

But when the structure changed in 6th grade, I was put in a class with just 6th graders and a brand-new teacher.  She had more rules of behavior, more structure, rather than the go-at-your-own-pace which had inspired me to slack off.  She was also kinder, gentler.  Both points helped me thrive under her direction.

I’ve always gravitated toward kind people, and been repulsed by fiercer personalities.  In college–as you can see in my college memoir posts about freshman and sophomore year–I was bullied by my German teacher, and could not understand why she was complaining about things which other teachers did not complain about.  I ultimately dropped German, and did much better with other teachers.

I was also very outgoing the first month of my freshman year of college (though my “friend” Shawn tore it all down by saying I was too shy).  I didn’t go up to random strangers and say hi (which Shawn told me to do), but I did quickly warm up to other students and my suitemates.  I knew why this was:

During orientation activities, we were told that we freshmen were all in the same boat, all among strangers, all by ourselves, so reach out to others.  Since I knew the other freshmen were just as alone as I was, I was able to break that reserve and make friends within the very first week.

I went into more regular patterns eventually, but that initial outreach gave me people to sit with at meals, leading to more familiarity with them, and their friends coming into my social circles.  It’s a lot harder to break in when everyone else already has established friendships and connections, and you’re the newcomer.

I also went through a couple years of counseling with a child psychologist in the later elementary grades.  I don’t recall precisely which years, though it started after 5th grade, on recommendation from my aunt (probably borderline because of all the people she’s pushed away recently), who tried to push me into social skills through force and criticism, then declared she could do nothing with me.

But with the psychologist, I made considerable improvement socially and in my attitude at home, according to my mother.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of NVLD and Asperger traits overlap with introversion, making me wonder at first if NVLD and Asperger’s were also pathologizing introversion.

But no, NVLD and Asperger’s are not just about social awkwardness.  NVLD includes such things as visual-spatial issues, math problems, handwriting problems, trouble with maps, novel situations, organization; Asperger’s includes various forms of stimming, perseveration, trouble driving, fixed routines.

Because I have all or most of those issues, overcoming handwriting and organization problems but still struggling with others, I still consider NVLD and/or Asperger’s to be extremely likely for me, even with the explosion of information about introversion in recent years.

I also am nowhere near the levels I was as a child.  While I am still very shy and very quiet, I did blossom somewhat as I got through my teens and early adulthood.

This is one reason why I’ve never gotten officially diagnosed: The times when it was truly a problem, when a psychologist or neurologist may have easily made a diagnosis because I exhibited so many traits of selective mutism, NVLD and Asperger’s, nobody had heard of such things, so I was never tested.

I was tested once for something, probably a learning disability, but nobody ever told me the results or what it was all about.  I just remember things about it that seemed unusual, and I believe I was the only kid in my class put through that test.  It was probably in 4th or 5th grade, with that teacher who criticized me all the time.

I always knew I was different from all the other kids (even in the “gifted” school which should have been full of socially awkward or imaginative kids), but didn’t know why, or even why they were not like me.

But in adulthood, when I finally discovered the probable source (NVLD), I had overcome and progressed in so many challenges that I no longer needed a diagnosis so much.

I keep reading about people with autism or Asperger’s or NLD or other social challenges getting early intervention and succeeding in school and life, so we are capable of improvement, and this does not negate a diagnosis.

Susan Cain has a blog, The Power of Introverts: Join the Quiet Revolution.  I intend to start following it.  This is good: After 40 years, I finally find that my way of being is not “wrong,” and have a way to explain why I am the way I am.  Whether it’s “selective mutism” or just introversion, it is the way I am, and I have a right to be so.

After all these years, I can finally be more comfortable with myself, and know that I have valid reasons to expect others to accept me as I am, rather than trying to change me or (as Richard did) accusing me of being a “victim” or (as Tracy did) accusing me of needing to “grow up and TALK.”

No, if you can’t accept me as an introvert, as the quiet one, if you want to force me to change to suit you rather than working with my natural temperament, then YOU are the one with the problem.

Selective Mutism: a collection of information on SM

Some more on the confusion about Selective Mutism, shyness and introversion, to help us answer the questions posed at the top of my post:

Is your child an introvert?

Selective mutism vs. shyness

Waiting (not so) patiently for my child to speak

Selective Mutism

Now to post this without proofreading because I really ought to get to bed: church in the morning…..

[Note: This post seems to have inspired some confusion here and here.  My response is here

Finding these criticisms of me for having questions and looking for answers and keeping a log of what I find and what I think of–That’s a good way to shut up someone who already struggles with speaking up.  If I’m just going to be beaten down for having questions, why speak?

I thought other people with SM would understand the questioning and confusion, not criticize someone for asking and searching.

In summary, I only bring up questions here which kept concerning me as I researched selective mutism between 2008 and the writing of this post.

I explore various possibilities as I ponder whether selective mutism describes me.  I quote articles which seem to help answer the questions.  I examine how the articles on selective mutism relate to my own experiences. 

Apparently I neglected to mention my childhood anxiety, which “froze” my vocal chords.  (Though I did mention my psychologist, which apparently got missed.)  And that in 4th grade, of all the class stuffed animals, I preferred one cat puppet, because through that I “spoke.”

And that the common response to my adult quietness–even from other introverts–was to make me feel like it was “wrong” to be quiet.  Making me sensitive to quietness being labeled a disorder, even severe shyness/quietness on the level of selective mutism. 

I instead wanted it to be called simply a variation which should be accepted, rather than forcing the quiet ones to speak through ostracism, pressure, scolding, etc. 

I wondered if half the problem with selective mutism is actually the reactions of others causing anxiety in the mute child.  If accepting it as a variation would help draw out the mute, who would feel safer.

Apparently you’re not supposed to have questions, just know all the answers.]

Some more of my posts on selective mutism, but not all:

Selective Mutism strikes at a Zeta party
Why I Struggle to Let Go of Richard; Also, Musings on NVLD/Asperger’s
NVLD (this page explains in more detail why I was offended by extreme shyness being labeled a disorder)
I must be accepted as I am–introversion, NVLD and all–or you’re out
How to bully an introvert–and assets of NVLD

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