Articles from October 2013

Fighting the Darkness: Coming out of the darkness, or, life without narcissists

Last night my husband, son and I went to a showing of Young Frankenstein in an old-fashioned theater in Sheboygan, Stefanie H. Weill Center.  Beautiful theater, with balconies, curtains, ornate moulding all over the walls, you know the type.  The ceiling was made to look like the night sky, complete with realistic stars.

Here is a link to a picture of that auditorium.

Here are more pictures.

And to watch this movie on the big screen, with other people laughing, and your good friend of 20-some years right beside you…. Catherine was there, along with another of our old friends, and another couple as well.

It was so…wonderful.  To be with people who do not cause drama.  Who have jobs, but are not the type who are so ambitious that they use, step on and discard others on the way to the top.  Just normal, laid-back, Midwestern geeks.

And during the whole movie, I could feel that inner joy, that love of life, that had been buried for so long.

This is normalcy.  This is what I missed for so long when the toxins from Richard/Tracy’s abuse were still in my spirit.  This is life without drama queens and narcissists.

Life is good again.  The toxins are finally getting flushed out.  The darkness is finally going away.

I am healing at last.

My son’s pet flock of finches

My son now has a “pet flock” of finches. Not only does he have his two spice finches, but there’s a flock which will sit on the fence and watch the house. Then when he gives them bread, they swoop down before he’s even done. They’re so fat now that I’m surprised they can still fly. Sometimes, bunnies feast as well; yesterday, a chipmunk nommed on the bread.

 

Phil’s Emotional Manipulation and Gaslighting Begin in Full Force–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1994, Part 3

On Tuesday, March 8, I began reading Samuel Richardson‘s novel Pamela.  It was a lighter version of Clarissa, not as psychological but still good–for the first half.  Unfortunately, the story was all in the first half, and the second was basically Pamela getting used to life as her master’s wife.  The parts with her trying to convince others that they were really married, that much was interesting, because they had a private wedding, but the family did not believe it ever occurred.  I didn’t even try to read the sequel, because it appeared to be more of the same.

The first half, however, was a great story, with Pamela attracting the attentions of her young master, refusing them because he wanted sex, and then him locking her up in a room until she would agree to have sex with him (which she didn’t).  I loved that part.

It was astonishingly kinky for an eighteenth-century novel!  (Of course, I hadn’t read Dangerous Liaisons yet, but then, that was French.)  It also fit the definition of Gothic, the woman-locked-up definition.  I told Barb about that one day as we waited for World Civ to begin, and she said, “I’d better read that book!”

One night, Phil and I went to the movies.  I said I wanted to see Schindler’s List, which Phil hadn’t heard of, and he went along with it.

During the scenes with the incinerator towers, I discovered the wonders of wide screens in the theaters: The stacks filled the screens vertically, and I actually had to put my head back and look up and up to see the tops of them.  It was as if we were really there.  This part amazed me the most.

The movie was a masterpiece, an instant classic, because of the story and the various elements: music, coloring (black and white except for the little girl’s coat), filming.  I came back to school and raved about it as often as possible for the next day or two.

Soon after this, on an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry went to Schindler’s List with a new girlfriend.  They could barely keep their hands off each other, and somebody saw them.  This somebody knew his parents, and told them.  His parents went to Jerry and berated him with, “You made out during Schindler’s List??!!”

I saw this episode in my room with Phil and probably my roommate Clarissa, and was so glad that I’d already seen the movie and could understand the references–and why making out during it would be considered gauche at best.

****

Phil began telling me I should cut my hair short, and in the summer he would even say that he liked my hair at Christmas at Roanoke (two braids wound around my head) because it looked short!  (I’d often wear it that way because he liked it, but I thought he liked it because it looked elegant.)

I loved my hair long, and hated the look of short hair.  My hair had been my pride and joy for the past several years.  I had waited a few years for it to grow down to my waist like I wanted it to, and there was no way I wanted to have to wait that long again.

I only had it short once, in Kindergarten, when my mom heard it would grow back thicker.  She held me up to a mirror; I frowned at the sight.

Telling me to cut my hair was, to me, the same as telling me he didn’t like me for me, because long hair was me and short hair was so not me.  I was hurt by it, but he kept on hounding me.

At my house over Spring Break or Summer Break, Mom showed Phil all my school pictures.  He said the Kindergarten one was his favorite because of my short hair, though I hated how I looked in it and preferred one in which I had long hair and a little cut from the cat on my face.

(I liked it despite the cut, not because of it.  I thought I looked cutest in it, and liked the smile.)

One day, when I stood at the full-length mirror on the back of the door and he was on my bed and Clarissa was somewhere in the room, Phil said to Clarissa, “Wouldn’t she look good with short hair?”

“No, she wouldn’t,” Clarissa shot back.

I was grateful to Clarissa, who knew how I felt about my hair.

Another time, he got upset because my friends wanted to all dye our hair red at the same time, and I almost went along with it.  I don’t recall if anybody actually dyed her hair, but he claimed that if I dyed mine red, it would drive him crazy sexually, so he didn’t want me to do that.

****

One night, Phil and I rented Men In Tights and Much Ado About Nothing at Blockbuster.  We watched Much Ado first–big mistake.  Much Ado was a masterpiece of comedy and class, with Kenneth Branagh directing and his wife, Emma Thompson, playing his character’s love interest (how cute).  Phil gushed over Branagh’s genius, such as when two of the characters sat down at the same moment in perfect comedic timing.

Then we saw Men In Tights.  Though it was funny in its own right, after Shakespeare it just looked awful.  We started telling people to never see it right after Much Ado.

Though I loved pickles, Phil hated them–like he hated practically every food, it seemed, except for mac and cheese and fast food.  (Yes, he was unhealthy: skinny somehow, but anemic, always getting nose bleeds.)  Once, I even chased him around the kitchen with a pickle.  I forget who was standing there laughing, but it was either Dave or his mother.  I believe even Phil thought it was funny.

In March, Pearl and Sharon told me they and Tara were trying to get into one of the new apartments, and they needed a fourth person (you had to apply in groups).  They needed someone who might actually qualify, since the requirements were very strict: They were honors apartments.  You had to have a certain number of points, which were based on things like grades and activities.

I agreed to try.  The applications were available around the fourteenth.  I feared I might not be socially active enough to qualify, but I was, and we all got into an apartment.

****

During this time, Phil began showing me his true colors, bit by bit.  He’d blame me for things that weren’t my fault, or chew me out for not doing something that I had actually done.

The things he said to me should have been huge hints that he was emotionally abusive and manipulative, but I didn’t see them.  Maybe I just didn’t know any better; maybe I was blinded by NVLD or love.

For example: Phil and I went to the IVCF Lock-In in the Ley Chapel basement, March 18 to 19. As we walked over to the chapel, I don’t remember what we’d been talking about before this, but Phil said,

“If you’d been more assertive, Tracy wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

Basically, he blamed me for his playing with Tracy’s affections!  He talked like Tracy had been more forthright with her feelings and more assertive, and that if he’d known how I felt, he would never have gone out with her.

For one thing, he already had feelings for me, and he certainly could have asked me out himself.  For another, I had asked him out–a huge thing for a shy girl to do–and told him, when he asked me, that yes, I meant for the date to lead to a relationship.

I was hardly ambiguous, and all this happened before Tracy asked him to have a relationship with her.   (See here and here.)  How much more assertive–how much plainer–was I supposed to be?

He said a date wasn’t considered more than a friendship date unless somebody says so, but I’d never heard of this.  On the contrary, unless two people had already been good friends for a while, I and others I knew considered it to be an actual date-date when one of them asked the other out.

And besides, before the date was even over he asked and heard exactly how I meant it.  If he’d had any doubt at all–which was hardly likely–he could have waited for me to come back from Christmas Break to ask me.

He was trying to gaslight me for some reason I still can’t fathom; what could possibly be the purpose of making me doubt my memory, of putting the blame for his own failing on me?  Or was this just part of a larger campaign of gaslighting, each part meaning nothing on its own, but all together meant to make me think I was crazy?

Over the summer, he even said I shouldn’t have chased him while he was with Tracy–as if they had been exclusive, as if he had feelings for her instead of me, and as if he had nothing to do with it.  He talked as if it were a character flaw, “stealing” him away from someone who never held him.  I’ve already told you how things actually happened.

The whole blame thing was ridiculous, and infuriated me, because my mind was strong enough to resist it–especially when I had recorded everything in my diary right after it happened.

It may have been just before the Lock-In that I told him some information about Catherine’s wedding.  I’d been invited, saw that I was allowed to bring a guest, had no idea that she wouldn’t want Phil to come with me (since she didn’t like him), asked him to come with me, and answered the invitation by marking the return card to say that two people were coming.

He had agreed to drive Clarissa and me there.  I forget if the point of contention this time was the time of the wedding or that we were going to the reception.  I know both were at some point.  He may have complained that I hadn’t told him before what time the wedding was, or (I think this is more likely) that I hadn’t told him we’d be going to the reception.

But to me, the very idea of having to tell him about the reception was silly.  It’s generally assumed that if you’re invited to a wedding, you’re also going to go to the reception.  I seem to recall Phil threatening to not take Clarissa and me there at all, which would have left us without a ride because our other friends were in one car and it was full.

At the Lock-In, the group may have taken care of some IV business, but what I really remember are games, such as everyone naming their favorite things or their pet peeves.  The first one I answered with, “My favorite thing is Phil.”  Phil answered the second with, “My pet peeve is when people don’t give me information about things that involve me.”

That was so obviously directed at me and so very unfair, that it infuriated me all over again.  How could he embarrass me in front of my friends like that, and in such a passive-aggressive manner?

(I think my pet peeve was probably people spelling my name wrong all the time.  Absolutely nothing to do with our relationship.)

Somehow, this got smoothed over enough that he still drove us.  The ceremony was at five and the reception was right afterwards, in the church basement.

(I’d never heard of the popular Wisconsin practice of waiting a few hours for the reception, which in Indiana would have resulted in people leaving in disgust before the reception actually started.  Fortunately, Catherine and Glen didn’t do that.  In the late 90s, after I’d been to a few of those weddings which had the reception a few hours later, and wondered what th’heck we were supposed to do or where to go before it started, a friend explained that Wisconsinites like to go bar-hopping before they even get to the reception!  Dang, what a hard-drinking state!)

Apparently in Wisconsin, several hours are scheduled between the ceremony and the reception so that the wedding party (and significants) could “bar hop” to the reception location.

What the heck were the other people supposed to do between the ceremony and the reception? Why would you want to get your nice white dress all mucky in a bar? Are bars even open at 11am?

It all seemed kinda weird to me, but I went along with it. We ended up only going to one bar, and thankfully, it was fairly clean with lots of other activities to partake in besides drinking. Weirdness I tell you, WEIRDNESS! —Blog post by a lady who got married in Fond du Lac’s Galloway Village, and is just as baffled as me at WI wedding traditions

 

We got lost on the way there, trying to find the Lutheran church, so the three of us walked in a few minutes late.  We walked past Catherine, who was already standing at the door of the sanctuary with her beautiful gown and train billowing around her, her mother and family members all around her.

She looked at us, and I hoped she wasn’t mad at us.  We didn’t mean to be late, but you can’t help it when you get lost.  I believe we found some side door through which to go in the sanctuary.

The wedding was pretty.  The bridesmaid dresses, worn by Rachel, Cindy and at least one other girl, were kind of a velvety red or magenta, with puffed sleeves.  At the reception in the basement, Clarissa, Phil and I had to sit separate from Pearl and Sharon and the others because there wasn’t enough room at their table.  (That seemed to happen a lot when I dated Phil.  Hmmmm……

(In 1996, Cindy reported to me that in the year after I graduated and some people stayed at Roanoke, the group went to a restaurant.  Cindy went along because she was in S–.  A transfer student who was now in the group brought Phil, to their shock.  She and Phil ended up alone at one table while the others sat at a different one.  They later married, but are now divorced.)

We sat across from an old woman who smiled as Phil and I talked on and on about what we’d do at our own wedding.

****

Phil said that when he married he wanted to use Natural Family Planning, a more elaborate and (according to him) much more accurate form of the Rhythm Method.  He’d done a paper on it once, and through his research read an article that claimed it was as effective as the IUD.

He and I believed the IUD tore you up inside, not knowing that improvements in its safety had been made.  I believe the stat given for Natural Family Planning was about 99% effective, when done right.

It sounded good to me, since I didn’t want to use artificial means: They scared me.  The condom would be a barrier between my husband and me, and the Pill might do weird things to my system.  I may have already known that the diaphragm wasn’t as effective as other methods.

Eventually, he would tell me that if I used birth control, he wouldn’t have sex with me, because he would see it as causing me to sin–even though I was Protestant and did not see it as sin.

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:

 

Article “Domestic Violence Strikes Home”

Agnesian HealthCare Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Tiffany Wiese said many victims are often hesitant to call police because they fear that their abuser will retaliate against them.

“Until our systems become more consistent in dealing with abusers through prosecution and rehabilitation, victims will probably continue to be fearful,” Wiese said.

“Victims should report in order to hold abusers accountable and keep their families safe, but the reality is that this may put the victim and their family in more danger.”

Many victims of domestic violence stay in a relationship out of fear, said Lindee Kimball, executive director of Solutions Center of Fond du Lac. Last year Solutions Center assisted 225 victims of domestic abuse.

“Victims try to leave their partners about seven times. They go back thinking things will be good for a while,” said Kimball.

“It’s all about the power and control that the abuser exerts over the victim. They think it’s easier to go back and deal with it, hoping it won’t happen again. The scariest part is when they do leave. The abuser hates the fact that the victim is taking that power back. That’s usually when something happens.”

….Under Wisconsin law judges don’t know if domestic abusers own firearms. And if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

….Last year a relatively high number of children — nearly 25 percent — were killed by their fathers or other adult male household members.

“The male abuser knows what’s dearest to a mother — her children. They know they can hurt her most by taking them or harming them,” Kimball said.

….The Fond du Lac Police Department launched an enhanced victim follow-up protocol this summer led by the Domestic Violence Intervention Team. Officers accompany victims to meetings with counselors/advocates at Agnesian HealthCare or Solutions Center to obtain additional information or offer counseling services victims may need following an assault.

….Kimball said friends and neighbors can also assist domestic violence victims, especially those who try to hide the abuse.

“After Nicole Anderson died, many folks started second-guessing themselves, wondering if they had missed signs of abuse. If you’re friends with someone and you suspect abuse, don’t be afraid to ask them because just maybe they’re waiting for you to ask so they can open up that gate,” Kimball said.

“And if you think someone is being hurt address it, don’t ignore it. It might be too late next time.”

Domestic Violence Strikes Home by Colleen Kottke

 

“The Regime”: Left Behind Review, Part 3 (also goes into narcissism and shyness)

Previous Parts

On page 242, Chloe is described as “suddenly on the phone to her girlfriends all the time…”  LOL, how quaint, a phone.  This book was written in 2005, so the authors have no excuse!  Don’t they know kids these days would rather use their computers and text messaging to communicate with each other?

On page 247, we finally find out information we could’ve used back in the first few books: how th’ heck Rayford, just another airplane pilot, ended up the pilot for Air Force 1.  Turns out he saved the lives of his passengers in a dramatic near-miss with another plane which missed the instructions from the control tower.  And he was in ROTC.  So he ended up on the reserve list for Air Forces One and Two.

The time to explain to us how Rayford and Buck ended up in their high positions, was in the first few books, not now!  Sure the whole back story could wait, but summaries would’ve been helpful.  Otherwise, we just have Buck who never actually bucks much of anything or writes, either, and Rayford who suddenly becomes the pilot for the Antichrist.

Now we even find that Rayford and Tribulation Forcer Abdullah already knew each other, as on page 271 and after, Rayford becomes a consultant on arming commercial planes against terrorists.  On page 276, we find that Rayford is supposed to become a friend to Abdullah (“Smitty”), who is painfully shy, so that Smitty will open up to him about his ideas for arming planes.

On page 258, Rayford asks Irene, “VBS?  What’s that?”  She describes Vacation Bible School.  Now come on, why would Rayford not know what VBS is?  Lots of different kinds of churches host VBS and post signs all over the place, not just Fundamentalists!

On page 259, Irene complains to him about their church, saying,

Our church dances around the truth.  We sing, we read a few verses, pastor Bohrer doesn’t so much preach–and he never teaches–as much as he just shares thoughts.  Like a homily.

Listening to him is like reading those inspirational books full of partly true but mostly made-up stories of long-lost kitties finding their way home, orphans teaching some curmudgeon a life lesson, an elderly woman–“

Hey, wait a minute.  Like a homily?  What’s wrong with a homily?  Catholic and Orthodox churches often do short homilies rather than sermons; my priest can pack quite a bit of hard teaching in one ten-minute homily.

Heck, it’s better than what I had been getting in Evangelical churches as of late, because it skipped the prooftexting, theological errors,  skits, etc., instead getting to the heart of Christianity.

She complains that their church doesn’t get into the “real truth,” the “hard truth.”  Yet, in 2007, even in a Fundamentalist church–the Nazarene church where I grew up–I found a skit, a dinky Scripture reading which was then used to make some vague point about life rather than hard theological truth, and all the things that Irene here complained of.

This is not a “liberal” problem, but one that fills churches all across the spectrum, where “purpose-driven” Evangelical churches (the ones that teach the theology you find touted in these Left Behind books) do what feels good and gets people in the pews.

Even where I found preachers teaching in long sermons full of theology and sin, they used paraphrases such as the Message Bible, the theology was wrong, the Scriptures were prooftexted (i.e. pulled out of context to make a theological point).  I had to leave Evangelicalism and go to an Orthodox church, to find good, hard, Biblical and theological truth–in ten-minute homilies.

To my pleasant surprise, on page 276 when Abdullah is described to Rayford, the authors “get” shy, quiet people like me:

…[Abdullah] has a lot to offer in the way of ideas, according to his superiors.  He knows a lot, thinks things through, and is far and away their best pilot. The trouble is, he’s quiet and apparently painfully shy.  He’s best in one-on-one situations when he has learned to trust someone.  He suddenly becomes a fount of information.

They have put him in uncomfortable situations with dignitaries, diplomats, and the like.  He clams up.

We don’t want you to fake or manufacture anything.  We just want to see if you can become his friend.  And while that may take some time, you understand that terrorism is not on anyone else’s calendar or clock.  If this guy has as much to offer as we think he does, we need to start mining it.

Rather than force or shame him into opening up, they work with his natural temperament.  Bravo!  I can attest to the failure of trying to force a shy, quiet person to start talking, and then blaming that shy person for “not trying hard enough.”

On pages 291 to 292, Abdullah explains Muslim ritual prayers to Rayford.  Instead of appreciating the beauty of the prayers, Rayford finds them “terribly ritualistic and depressing,” reminding him “of his own feeble attempts at religion: the obligation to go to church when he could and guilt when he found excuses not to.”

It probably wouldn’t help to tell him that the Muslims got prostration from the Orthodox Church, some branches of which still do prostrations in services.

On page 310, now we get to see Cameron in action, the star reporter–unlike during the entire series before the prequels, when he barely seemed to care about his job.  The Slacktivist especially gets after him for never actually doing his job.

Nicolae’s narcissistic sociopathy is also finally showing up.  No more do we read that he’s evil, while he promotes peace and other things generally considered good; now we know that he truly is the kind of evil which hides itself behind goodness.

For just one example, on page 364, we read, “Nicolae had learned the art of humility.  Or at least of appearing humble.”  One huge red sign of narcissism is claiming to be humble.  (My ex-narc-friend Richard actually wrote on his Blogger profile that he’s humble.)  A truly humble person will never say so, or think so, because he’s too humble to think he’s humble.

But during the rest of the series, we were often told he was evil, while he tried to promote peace and harmony among all.  We should have been shown his pathology in a more convincing manner, such as getting into his head, because oftentimes very few people really know what’s going on in the head of a narcissist.

Only going into the heads of the Tribulation Force, was very limiting, often leading to questionable choices by the “good guys”–such as working for the Antichrist–so we can listen in to his private conversations without changing point-of-view.

I feel cheated because we are getting so much background information and rich characterization that was sorely missing from the rest of the series.

A scythe should have been taken to much of the series, cutting out all those boring phone conversations about logistics, sermons, and repeating what we already knew.  Then there would have been plenty of room for this background info, interspersed throughout maybe three books instead of twelve.

On page 366, Cameron notes that his coworker Lucinda is very religious, with Christian “artifacts” (picture of Jesus, etc.) in her office; he’s met other Christians at work, but “most were pretty laid-back about it, almost secretive.  It was as if they knew they were in the minority and didn’t want to look like weirdos.”

Um….Being a “person of faith,” as he terms it, I, too, wouldn’t talk too much about it or post a bunch of Christian stuff in my cubicle or office.  But I wasn’t hiding my faith, nor did I fear looking like a “weirdo.”  I was just at my job doing my work, not proselytizing.

I do believe the placement of Chloe’s skepticism in this paragraph is deliberate:

But on the negative side Chloe seemed to think the world revolved around her, that she answered to no one, and that she knew better than anyone else anyway–in particular, her mother.  She believed only in what she could see and touch.  To her God was okay as a concept, but He certainly didn’t really exist, not as a person.

I think atheists would object to skepticism being equated to teen-age self-absorption.

On pages 368 to 369, and 371, we find a power struggle between Irene and Chloe: Irene wants to dictate whether Chloe goes to church, and where she goes to college, even threatening to not pay for college if Chloe doesn’t go to church until she leaves home!  But Chloe has full scholarships, and wants to go 2000 miles away to Stanford, also against her mother’s wishes (it’s “too far”).

Fortunately, Rayford mediates, getting Irene to back off and let Chloe make her own decisions.  He doesn’t understand Irene’s trouble with Chloe, or with her going to Stanford; he’s proud of Chloe, considers her an ideal daughter.

The basic problem is that Chloe doesn’t want to follow Irene’s religion.  Since Irene loses that fight, she “had grown chillier than ever.”  It’s the classic problem of a parent not wanting to let go of her child, who is now nearly an adult and needs to make her own decisions.  I’m on Chloe’s side in this one.

On page 385, we find more clumsy dialogue: Buck says, “I am always busy, and though you are more than twice my age, you are busier than I.”  No contractions, and “busier than I” instead of “busier than I am” or “busier than me”?

These authors have no feel for how people actually talk.  It’s one thing to write that way, but even English majors and writers don’t follow precise grammar in speech.

On to the next book.  This is almost done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[9/2/13-10/1/13]

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