Category: abusive friendship

My NVLD in a nutshell

I have always been quiet and shy.  My college adviser and writing teacher told me to not change my quietness, my not being a “great talker,” because what I write says a lot.

I believe I have NVLD (also NLD, nonverbal learning disorder).  If you go here, you’ll see a full treatment of why (and what NVLD is), ranging from my clothing preferences to social ineptness, such as my difficulties even in making small talk or modulating body language while speaking to a stranger.  (I haven’t a clue if I modulate it even when I’m not speaking to a stranger; I just don’t think about it.)

My constant loneliness is a big, red sign of it.  My brain works differently from other people’s, so differently that common, normal social situations–which “normal” people can navigate with ease–often leave me feeling awkward, exhausted, embarrassed.  After a while, I got sick of people giving me weird looks or criticizing me for not knowing what to do in a given situation.

I believe I have either NLD or Asperger’s, since I hear that many of my problems are not common to introverts but are common to NLD or Asperger’s (though the more I learn about Aspies, the more NVLD seems more appropriate).

I can’t get an official diagnosis because I have adult responsibilities, don’t have the time, don’t have a school to help pay for it, don’t have a way to pay for such a huge expense when I have so many other things clamoring to be paid for: bills, debts, food, health problems.

After all, the NVLD can’t kill me, but skipping health tests could.  So self-diagnosis is my only way to find out why I’ve always been so weird–I always knew there was something different about me and how my brain works, long before I heard of neurological disorders–and what possibly can be done about it.

And hey, bonus, NVLD also brings assets, such as being detail-oriented, excellent with punctuation, spelling, reading, typing–all useful if you’re a writer or clerk.  We can’t all be the outgoing insurance agents or salesmen or politicians or lawyers; somebody has to do the filing!

An old friend once said I’m great at befriending the “fringe people”; this is probably because I accept the oddballs and geeks, after my own experiences with being misunderstood and bullied.  I embrace NVLD, since to my neurological differences, it gives a name, a reason–and a community of people just like me.

As an aside, not only have I obsessively researched this since 2000, but researching this also led me to learn about Asperger’s–long before the public had heard of it–and reject it as a possibility.  NVLD is still not known to most.

I started with the symptoms and worked outward; I knew from childhood that I was different from other kids, but did not know why.  I found notes written in diaries 20 years ago which describe things I did without knowing why, but which I later discovered fit with NVLD.  I also looked it up because I had so much trouble with driving.

Reading about NVLD was like reading my entire life story, not just some social issues but handwriting, learning to ride a bike late, getting lost even with a map while driving, the same driving problems I have, and all sorts of other things–academic, social, visual-spatial–which I don’t have room to list here.

Before Richard moved in, I told him I believed I had NVLD, and explained it a little, so he wouldn’t think I was weird because of my physical and social awkwardness, trouble catching many social cues, and various other things.  I expected he would understand, cut me slack, verbalize more if I missed a social cue, and be fine with my idiosyncrasies.

I had no idea he would later use this against me and accuse me of being a victim, say I just needed to “push through it.”

And no, Sally Normal and Joe Regular, we can’t just ‘get over it’ and we can’t just ‘be normal’. The brain is a flexible organ and we do learn, but we will always be Aspies. –Rudy Simone, Why people with Aspergers seem so awkward around others

2. You just need to try harder. Sorry, but no. My brain does not work the way yours does. There is something the matter with mine. It’s not a matter of will, or effort. It’s a matter of trying to figure out how to cope. You wouldn’t tell a blind person to try harder to see, would you?  –Peter Flom PhD, Things not to say to LD people (or their parents)

I hoped that as he learned about learning disorders while working for a Psych degree, he would understand me better and begin to realize what I needed.  Instead, he just got more adamant that he was right and I was wrong, based on a bit of questionable information in his textbooks which does not match the latest research or the opinions of NVLD experts.

I, on the other hand, already spent almost a decade and probably hundreds of hours researching NVLD, using documents from NVLD experts such as Sue Thompson, and reading accounts by people officially diagnosed with NVLD.  He based it on a tiny part of knowledge of what I had experienced in my own life, when I had a far more comprehensive knowledge, based on a long memory and things I pondered over the past decade or so.

This video, a lecture on social emotional learning disorders, talks about differences in learning disorders, levels of difficulty, classification, etc.

(This is from the 2004 UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute Summer Series on Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  The lecturer is Meryl Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., on “Social Emotional Learning Disorders: The Dyslexia of the 21st. Century.”  Note: The URL no longer works, but I’m having trouble finding another one.)

The lecturer notes that a lack of clear diagnoses affects how people perceive those who have NVLD or Asperger’s, unlike if you have, say, a broken leg.

Even professionals have an awful time telling the difference between Asperger’s and NVLD, and whether or not they’re autistic, so being scolded by Richard was not going to make me think I must be wrong.  I knew far better than he did what I struggled with.

I never had a chance to put all this evidence before him: After he laughed it off and disregarded everything I said about it, I never trusted him enough to say more than a small bit of what I dealt with.

One big piece of evidence was my lack of social connection, which Aspies and NVLDers struggle with the most.  Since I left school, I found it extremely difficult–even more so than in school–to make friends of any kind, let alone close ones.

Also, around age 10, I had enough problems that my mother took me to a psychologist for a while.  First, I went to stay with my aunt for a week or two.  The whole time, she picked at everything I did or said (which drove me nuts), then threw up her hands and told my mom, “I can’t do a thing with her.”

I’m not sure what my “problems” were that bugged her so much, only that I had troubles at school with the work and with the verbal bullies.  I mean, come on, this is the same woman who verbally abused and criticized her own mother when she came to visit that week.

I had some trouble with etiquette, because my aunt got after me for not saying “goodbye” when people said it to me, and for taking a book when going to visit people–though I was a little kid visiting adults and needed something to do besides sit there listening to boring adult conversation.  I didn’t realize you’re supposed to say “hello” when somebody greets you, or they think you’re a snob.

But otherwise, I was just being me, and wasn’t aware I had “issues.”

My aunt, who was married to my dad’s brother, and constantly at odds with my dad, thought my dad was somehow to blame for my “issues,” that he or my brothers probably molested me, even though they never did any such thing and had nothing to do with this.  Now, she didn’t say anything about that until my mom and dad had some issues in 2007.

But when I was ten, my aunt thought spending a couple of weeks with her would somehow “help” my “problems,” whatever they were.  When it didn’t make a difference that satisfied her, she suggested a psychologist in Michigan.

Every week, my mom drove me all the way up to Michigan, where I saw the psychologist for an hour, then we got dinner from a McDonald’s drive-through or a Jack-in-the-Box.  My mom says the psychologist helped me a lot.  I’m not sure what he did, exactly, but apparently he gave me social pointers.

He was also somebody to talk to, not just about my problems, but to whom I showed my series of “Space Blimp” stories (based on a dream in second grade).  For a time, I also did group sessions with a young teenage boy and his little sister, where I read the stories.

Still, in middle school I was so closed off that one classmate termed it years later (during a Facebook chat) as “a wall” around myself, but I didn’t even know I was closed off.  I just was the only way I could be, with all the bullies around me who criticized everything about me, and just a few nice kids to talk with.

This same kid wondered why I dressed so oddly; I had no idea what the fashions were, and just wore whatever my mom got at garage sales, caring only for what was comfortable.  But I got teased for how I dressed, without knowing why.  I hated school so much in seventh grade that I counted the days till summer–while it was still fall.

How could this just be me being an introvert who’s otherwise normal?  NVLD would explain all of this, because these traits are quite common with NLDers, while an introvert can still keep up on fashions, wear things that aren’t as comfy if they look good, know the basics of social situations, and the like.  I examined various learning disabilities and the like, such as ADD and Aspergers, and this one fit like a glove.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

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Bullying an Introvert and Probable NVLDer

I thought I had found a religious and spiritual mentor in my search for the True Church, and a best friend here in my own town instead of far away, one who would always be there for me throughout life.  But I believe this is what really happened:

I fell prey to a con man who eventually decided my husband and I were of no further use to him and his wife.  He used to be a Mafia thug, and was easily provoked to violence.  He hypnotized me without my knowledge.

They wanted to get political connections, but we were too “liberal” and not politically driven; he kept getting money and stuff from us, but the economy tanked and we had money trouble; I was his confidante of his wife’s abuses of him and the children, so she, who has a family history of personality disorders, smeared me to him to drive a wedge between us; and I spoke up against the way they both had been treating their kids.

So instead of addressing the real issues, they made me a scapegoat, made up offenses and kept me always jumping over hoops.  Then because we no longer had much money to give them, I started doubting Richard’s wild stories, and I had let them know they abused their kids, they started treating my husband and I both very badly.

They found an imaginary complaint to skewer me over, so we would break off the friendship in disgust, but they would still be able to claim that it was my fault and not theirs.

Richard threatened my husband with physical violence and intimidated him.  Then in 2010, I was proven correct about the abuse, when Richard choked his oldest daughter until she passed out.  He plea bargained and served a year of probation.

For two and a half years, I was bullied, gaslit and abused by a likely personality disordered person, “Tracy,” who saw me as a threat to her marriage because I was her husband’s confidante about her abuses of him and the children.

Though he, “Richard,” had been my friend for two years already, she made him her abuser-by-proxy, and insisted on forcing her friendship on me, or else I was not “respecting” her, was “moving in on” her husband, and was somehow violating society “norms” which I had never heard of before.

In my circles, friendship was allowed to happen naturally.  Nobody I knew complained about husbands making female friends, playful and innocent flirting, or going out to lunch with a female friend.  I had never encountered jealousy.

In fact, I was the most “jealous” person I knew, simply because I did not like my husband sharing a hotel room with a female friend for an SCA (like Ren-Faire) event, which that friend called having him on a “long leash.”

My husband and I trust each other and have no requirements whatsoever on our friends.  So Tracy’s behavior shocked and made no sense to me or to my husband, who felt she did not trust Richard.

If she had not been abusive to her husband and children, and if she had not begun snarking at me and telling falsehoods about me to her husband and mother, I would have had no trouble whatsoever being her friend.

But because of the abuses, I did not want her in my life.  However, I felt forced to let her be there, or I would lose a friend who was very dear to me.

I tried to get along with her–friended her on Facebook, gave her things she needed, gave her a flower, asked for recipes, chatted with her on occasion, joked with her on occasion, agreed with her on occasion on childcare, smiled at her during conversation, played games with her, changed her baby’s poopy diaper while she was in the shower, visited her in the hospital, held my tongue whenever she snarked at me, even gave her money and a place to stay–but nothing I did was enough.

My husband thought my behavior was fine.

I did not monopolize the conversation when she was in the room, mostly letting them carry it; if Richard and I sat next to each other, I might chat with him for a while, but usually my husband was there for her to talk to, or she was on the computer or doing some other thing.

She did not start conversations with me.  She did not even try with me, but instead expected me to come up with conversation when I have trouble with this in the best of social situations.  Most of the time there was something else going on in the room, or she was talking to everyone or to somebody else or screaming at a kid, so I didn’t see it as a time for starting conversation with her.

She criticized everything I did.  She refused to accept that I was a shy, quiet introvert with probable NVLD, who had always been that way and always would be, that making conversation with her–especially with someone who bullied me and whom I had maybe just witnessed verbally abusing her husband, kids or somebody else–was practically impossible for me until she stopped the abuse and accepted me for who I was.

I needed to be accepted as a quiet person who will not say much most of the time, even among my best friends.  I tried to explain all of this to Richard, hoping that he would explain it to her and they would help make it easier for me to relax around her.  But nothing ever changed, while I got blamed for everything and continuously punished for not being extroverted.

When we were roommates, I figured there was nothing wrong with spending 10 minutes talking with just Richard, when that evening we would all be together on the couch talking or watching TV for hours.

It’s not the same as visiting somebody, or they’re visiting you, because, well, we were roommates, and people who live together do this all the time.  And since she lived with me for six weeks and I spent every evening socializing with her and Richard for hours, I figured this was plenty to help her get to know me.

Also, in college my friends hated my fiancé Phil, whom they saw as controlling and possessive.  In turn, he tried to distance me from them, because he saw how they felt about them.  I did not see it until Pearl admitted it to me in a letter over the summer; he told me it was because he was Catholic, trying to make me see them as religiously bigoted.

To me, this was true friendship, and I saw his attempts to keep me from them as isolation and control.  This was my model for friendship, my model for what a controlling spouse acts like.  With Richard, I was now being like my friends, while Tracy behaved like Phil.

I am an introvert with probable NVLD (which socially is like Asperger’s), and cannot carry on conversations with the ease of extroverts.  Introverts must think before they speak, or they will say gibberish, and their brains use long-term rather than short-term memory to come up with something to say during group conversation.

But this takes longer, while extroverts think as they speak and use short-term memory during conversation.  So by the time an introvert comes up with a comment, or finds an opening to say it, the conversation has already moved on to some other topic.

I catch some social cues, but from the way this woman acted with me, I must have missed a whole slew of subtleties, because most of the time I thought our relationship was okay.

Tracy decided that until I turned into an extrovert (which researchers say is absolutely impossible) and someone without NVLD (which is also impossible), then she would treat me like I was trying to steal her husband away.

I had to court her favor before she would “approve” my friendship with Richard (even though he and I had already been friends for two years before I heard anything about this) and “allow” us to go out for coffee, have one-on-one conversations, or do anything at all that he could do with his other friends.

I do not believe in such restrictions put on a grown adult; I believe they are controlling and a red flag of abuse and isolation.

Because of the restrictions my brain put upon me since birth, it was maddening, an impossible requirement I was never able to fulfill, and extremely insulting, yet Richard and Tracy talked like I was making a “mountain out of a molehill,” and blamed me for not changing into an extrovert.

It was bullying and psychological abuse.

If I dealt with social situations with ease, it would have been different.  But I could not, so the motives for my behavior were all benign.

And they gave me none of the cues I asked for to tell me when she wanted to have a conversation with me, so I never noticed her doing it.

Also, I was extremely timid, scared by her aggressive personality, and felt it immoral to be friends with my best friend’s abuser.

But this was 2007, before the Internet exploded with information on how introverts are misunderstood and should be respected, so it was hard for me to explain–or to point to experts to back up my statements.

Every person I have ever known in my entire life has described me as “quiet.”  It’s the first adjective anyone uses to describe me, whether as someone they’ve just met or someone they remember from the past.

Second after that comes “nice,” “sweet,” “loyal.”  Richard called me “sweet, innocent and nice.”

So to me, Tracy’s behavior was like the mean girls and bullies from childhood, bullying me for being different, treating my quietness as if it were evidence of sneakiness and ulterior motives, laying into me with all sorts of horridly abusive, filthy words because I’m quiet–while my best friend let her do it, even talked as if she had every right to!

For two and a half years they tried to bully me into not being the way I’ve always been, treating me as if it were all my fault and Tracy had nothing to do with it, nothing to change in her own behavior.  I struggle to come up with conversation in the best of social situations; pressure like this constricted my throat and cut off my thoughts.

But it got worse: My NVLD has made me extremely gullible.  My classmates in middle school teased me for it; in college, boyfriends used it to manipulate me in ways that other people would see right through.

But my “best friend,” Richard, manipulated me also, getting comfort during a difficult time with his wife by convincing me that putting his head on my shoulder and giving me long, sweet hugs was an innocent expression of friendship and caring, NOT romance.  He told me Americans are too reserved.

So I thought Tracy did these things with friends, too–then he told me, “Don’t do them around Tracy.  She’s very jealous.”  But I was too naïve and trusting to see this as a huge red flag that he’d been lying to me.  (My best friend would never lie to me!)

And then he let Tracy flay me alive for these things, as if they’d been all my idea, as if he had nothing to do with them.

Meanwhile, he threatened my husband for sticking up for me, and wrote to him that he gets “physically violent easily if triggered.”

Just as obeying our parents is good except if they command us to do evil, the same is true with sticking up for our spouses.  While it is good and right to stick up for our spouses and stand by them, if our spouse is doing or saying something abusive or evil to anyone, then it would be evil for us to stick up for them and stand by them.

This means you, too, Richard: It was evil for you to allow your wife’s evil treatment of me, and you became its participant.

Digging out from the psychological damage–which some sources on the Net call Complex-PTSD as described here–has been long and difficult.  Though you might say I started trying to dig out from it soon after I met her, the worst of it wasn’t until a day when she finally spewed her poison, her venom, all over me.

(Fellow introverts, this will really burn you up: She actually accused me of needing to “grow up and talk“!  Talk about being bigoted against and refusing to understand introverts!  Talk about being mean and nasty to someone who’s different from you!  Doesn’t that just make you furious?  And that wasn’t all she said!  Some people need to “grow up” and learn how to treat others, to start being more accepting of other people’s differences!)

I’ve seen her do this to others, too, including a mutual friend, so I know it’s not just me.  Her mother is personality disordered, and has been officially diagnosed and hospitalized for it.  Even Richard noted some of the same traits in Tracy and all her sisters; these things can run in families, whether from some genetic trait or from the effects of being abused.  I am not a psychologist, but I believe Tracy has picked it up as well.

This disgraceful treatment by who I thought was my best friend, the best friend I’d ever had, caused me to build a wall around myself so that for a long time, I barely even went on Facebook anymore to communicate with my true friends.  I do still try to get out and among people, but it’s gotten even harder than it used to be to let people get inside that wall.

Especially during the first year of recovery, I would hide inside it as they chattered away, not revealing my inner life to them, all the pain and anguish and guilt, the things that Tracy said still revolving around in my mind almost a year later.

I got disgusted to see them go up to the Eucharist when they visited my church, how they acted as if I was the one with the problem, how Richard was able to manipulate me as he does others into thinking he’s this cool, loving person–when I have seen the dark side of them both.  How he manipulated me into thinking his wife was the abusive one, but little by little, he began to show that he is also abusive, violent and manipulative.

Then something happened that finally got the attention of the authorities, and proved to me that I did not imagine the abuse in their household:

According to the local newspaper and online public access court records, Richard choked his eldest daughter on September 21, 2010 until she passed out, because she was misbehaving.

Yet in his mug shot, which was posted on the website of the local paper for well over a year, he wears an expression of contempt rather than shame.  (Because of my NVLD, it took a while, and online research, but I finally identified the expression.)  And I’m told that once, when she was very small, he beat her mercilessly.

Also, I have an e-mail and record of a phone conversation which prove I’m telling the truth.  (I held onto them just in case Richard would need an ally in court.)

I also have my husband and Todd as witnesses/character witnesses, the printouts of Tracy on a game forum doing the same things to Todd that she did to me, several of her abusive e-mails to me, the abusive posts she made to Todd on that game forum, printouts of IRC conversations in which Richard claimed to have hypnotized me and been a thug for the Mafia, posts by Todd confirming the Mafia story, e-mails from Todd describing the things he himself witnessed, and a public blog post by Richard from 2007, all confirming my story as true and not the ravings of someone who is “not all there,” as Tracy called me in 2012 when she found my blog and this website.

I have copies of e-mails I sent to friends and family describing the situation from 2007-2010.  I have a file, started in mid-2010, in which I wrote everything I witnessed while I could still remember it well, just in case I would be needed as a character witness for Richard.  I am also witness of and privy to some things which I did not post online because of their sensitive nature.

These records give me confidence that I write the truth, that I was indeed bullied and abused, and that there was also abuse in Richard and Tracy’s household.  Though for legal reasons, I must note that my writings are all opinion based on my understanding of the facts, and others may disagree with my assessments.

The first thing is, you were born this way. It is in your nature, and thus cannot be wrong.  On average, one out of every three people is an introvert, if being quiet was wrong, that would make 1/3 of the total population born lesser. –serjicaladdict, Why are you so quiet?

My Trip to Oz and Back is much like my own blogs, an account of two years spent by the writer with her girlfriend, which was actually a 50-page letter sent by the author to her ex-girlfriend.

That was in the late 90s, when the author had never heard of borderline personality disorder, so there had been no official diagnosis for her to point to.  But the more she learned about BPD, the more she knew her ex-girlfriend had it, so she posted this letter to help others who are dealing with someone with BPD.

It has been on the Web since 2003, and by November 2006 had received 53,000 hits.  As the author wrote on the main page,

Writing this was cathartic. It doubled as a form of therapy. I actually did send the letter; however, I doubt that it had much effect.  The more I learned about BPD, the more I realized that the likelihood of this person ever really understanding, was probably close to zero….

Why would I want to put such a personal document online?  There are several reasons. First, I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of what it is like to be in a relationship with a person with BPD.  There are many books and websites on BPD, but relatively few from a significant other’s point of view.

Second, I am hoping that someone out there might read a bit and identify with it.  When one is in a difficult situation, sometimes just hearing about another person’s similar experience can be affirming–as in, “I’m not the only one.”

Finally, I consider myself a success story–see the final chapter, the epilogue.  My wish is to give hope to others.

Like me, the author changed names and identifying details.  This is to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.  Joyful Alive Woman also wrote about her abusive, narcissist, former female friend.

The narcissist blames others for his behaviour, accuses them of provoking him into his temper tantrums and believes firmly that “they” should be punished for their “misbehaviour”.

Apologies–unless accompanied by verbal or other humiliation–are not enough. The fuel of the narcissist’s rage is spent mainly on vitriolic verbal send-offs directed at the (often imaginary) perpetrator of the (oft innocuous) offence.

The narcissist–wittingly or not–utilises people to buttress his self-image and to regulate his sense of self-worth. As long and in as much as they are instrumental in achieving these goals, he holds them in high regard, they are valuable to him. He sees them only through this lens.

This is a result of his inability to love others: he lacks empathy, he thinks utility, and, thus, he reduces others to mere instruments.

If they cease to “function”, if, no matter how inadvertently, they cause him to doubt his illusory, half-baked, self-esteem–they are subjected to a reign of terror.

The narcissist then proceeds to hurt these “insubordinates”. He belittles and humiliates them. He displays aggression and violence in myriad forms.

His behaviour metamorphoses, kaleidoscopically, from over-valuing (idealising) the useful person–to a severe devaluation of same. The narcissist abhors, almost physiologically, people judged by him to be “useless”. —The Soul of a Narcissist by Sam Vaknin

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

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