The Snuggle House in Madison: How sad to see this close because of closed minds

I just learned about this–and it’s already closed:

The Snuggle House

And it’s closed

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More descriptive article

and here

It sounds like a beautiful concept by beautiful people–but the city thought it was about sex.  And there are so many other haters against this concept.

What a shame that our society sees touching–even simple cuddling–as leading to sex.  This business recognized that many people don’t have someone to snuggle with.  And what’s wrong with cuddling with friends to watch a movie?

I have SCA friends like this, but also encounter people who think there’s something “wrong” or “inappropriate” about snuggling with people not in their family.  Why make a beautiful thing dirty?  Let’s abolish this mindset, open up, and lighten up!

Cuddle with your friends, not just your lover or children!  There’s nothing wrong with nuzzling the top of a friend’s head during a hug!

The uptight attitude of American society to such things, is why we have “snuggle houses” to begin with.  If more people were more open to this, nobody would need to pay $60 for a hug, not even someone without a family at home to snuggle with.

There is such a place in New York, and the Cuddle Party people have been around for a while.  But I guess this business was ahead of its time for Wisconsin.  From an AP report:

Madison’s concern seems to be deeper than in other cities where similar businesses have set up shop as cuddling has grown into a cottage industry over the past decade.

Police in Rochester, N.Y., said they’ve had no complaints about The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddle sessions.

Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colo., offers cuddles with “Snuggle Stars.”

Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco offers packages that “focus directly with your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch,” according to its website.

Police in San Francisco and Boulder didn’t respond to The AP’s inquires about those businesses.

The nonprofit organization Cuddle Party has trained about 100 people across five continents to run group snuggle sessions, said Len Daley, a psychologist who serves as executive director at Cuddle Party headquarters in Montgomery, Ala.

Betty Martin, a Seattle-based sex educator who facilities cuddle parties in that city, said she’s never had problems with government officials or police. Cuddle Party participants must keep their clothes on and go through a pre-session workshop on how to say “no,” she said.

“People think if there’s touch happening there must be sex happening. That’s not the case at all,” Martin said.

 

Hopefully, one day America will be more receptive to cuddling between friends and not just family or children.  This lack of touch is probably one reason why our society is so violent.

 

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We’re Dating!–No, We’re Not. Yes, We Are. ACK!–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1992, Part 4

I wrote in my diary on the 11th that “the situation with Shawn is finally clear now.  We have different definitions of terms in our own minds; to me, we’re dating; to him, we’re friends; but we both have the same idea of what it is.  We’ll have to get the word out that we’re only dating…we’re not boyfriend/girlfriend!!

“Oh, yeah.  Anna said that just the fact that I’m here at school still, and not anorexic, is a testimony to God’s strengthening power.”

The next day, I saw Shawn, and we started walking together.  I was happy.  But then he said, “This is not gonna work.”  So much for dating.

Yet, despite getting rid of the term “dating,” things still went on the same as before.  He would still come over and see me or invite me over, oftentimes every weekend, we’d watch TV or talk about all sorts of things, and he’d start kissing me and touching me and fooling around with me.

So did we really stop dating?  And were we dating or not the whole time?

He also would call me late at night sometimes and we would talk for hours.  But it seemed like nearly every time he did fool around with me, after it ended he would go on and on about how he didn’t want me, and criticize everything about me.

It also seemed far too analytical of him, making things far too complicated: Calling someone your “girlfriend” doesn’t mean you’re practically engaged.

You can just be going on casual dates with a bunch of people and call them all girlfriends.  It just means you have some sort of continuous romantic involvement (as opposed to one-night stands); it doesn’t have to be serious.

And saying that we’re “friends”–um, “friends” connotes no romantic or sexual involvement at all.  Unless you want to call it “friends with benefits,” but we didn’t have that term back then.

A few years after I graduated college, I watched a call-in advice show on MTV called Loveline, hosted by Dr. Drew and Adam Corolla, along with a woman whose name I forget.  To my surprise one night, a guy called in about the very same kind of situation:

He had started by giving “kissing lessons” to a girl across the hall; these lessons continued, and progressed so far over time that they did the same things Shawn and I eventually did, though they had not had vaginal intercourse.  He said she had feelings for him while he had none for her.  He said it wasn’t a “relationship.”

Dr. Drew said that if two people are physically intimate on a regular basis, they are indeed having a “relationship”–and it would hurt the girl to break it off.  Drew said to stop and cut off contact for a while, to give her time to get over it.

He said there’s a lot of BS going around these days, people saying “this is just for convenience, we’re not really in a relationship.”  He did say girls need to realize that sometimes guys will kiss and carry on with girls they’re not interested in.

Yet testosterone-driven Adam, on the other hand, the one you’d think would agree, didn’t buy that this guy was not attracted to the girl.  He said, “Isn’t it funny how guys’ll go and bang someone every night and then say, ‘Oh, I’m not attracted to her.'”

He didn’t believe it was possible, but that if you’re physically intimate with someone it’s because you are attracted to them in some way.

Then there was Sharon Stone’s character on Basic Instinct, who said, “He wasn’t my boyfriend.  I just f**ked him.”

And my old friend Becky from South Bend, who was still in high school, told me about guys who’d tell her, “That’s not my girlfriend.  I just f**k her.”

I guess there are a lot of Shawns out there, when I once thought there was only one.

It was hard for anyone in my group of friends, least of all me, to understand Shawn, because we thought kissing meant something and you didn’t do that to someone you weren’t attracted to.  You didn’t want to, because that would be icky.

So we couldn’t conceive of Shawn telling the truth when he said he wasn’t attracted to me or didn’t want to go out with me.

And if he was telling the truth, then why did he keep coming over and starting things with me all the time?  I normally waited for him to call me over and to start things, to let him set the pace, since he was so ambivalent.  In fact, after I graduated, one day I visited Sharon and she referred to him as “Shawn, who you were going out with.”

After Shawn called me senior year and said he hadn’t had a girlfriend in two years (ie, since he left Roanoke, rather than since he left high school), Pearl said,

“That’s fishy.  Maybe it shows there was something going on there.  Maybe now he thinks of you as an ex-girlfriend?…I always knew there was something there he wasn’t admitting to.”

And Pearl would know better than anybody else, being the confidante of us both about our relationship.

This blog post, about people confusing each other with varying definitions of the same dating terms, sums up the whole thing very well.

In September, Shawn had said, “Do you want everyone to know we’re dating?”

So, why couldn’t he just tell me to use that term (or “seeing each other”) instead of the completely platonic term “friends”?  It would have meant we were more than friends, but available to date other people, and been far more accurate.

But no, he couldn’t simplify it like that.  No, he had to complicate things by telling everyone we’re “just friends” and make me feel like some tart because “just friends” aren’t supposed to be fooling around every weekend.  I didn’t want to be exclusive; dating around was fine.  But I was not just your “friend”!

When I hear the song “Ah Leah!” by Donnie Iris, I realize that was Shawn and me:

Don’t you know we’re playin’ with the fire? 
But we can’t stop this burnin’ desire, Leah! 

Ah! Leah! Here we go again! 
Ah! Leah! Is it ever gonna end?  
Ah! Leah! Here we go again!  
Ah! Leah! We ain’t learned our lesson yet!  

Baby, it’s no good. We’re just askin’ for trouble.  
I can touch you, but I don’t know how to love you.  
It ain’t no use! We’re headed for disaster. 
Our minds said, “No!” But our hearts were talkin’ faster, Leah! 

But if he’d let me, I could have loved him.  I could easily have forgotten Peter completely in Shawn’s arms if only he would have stopped pulling me toward him and then pushing me away.

We could’ve had a lot more fun, without all the guilt and shame.  And Shawn was more like what I was looking for: similar music, similar religious backgrounds (I was Nazarene and he was non-denominational evangelical), love of sci-fi such as Doctor Who, sharing each other’s religious convictions–He even liked Monty Python, unlike Peter.

***

Each year in October, Roanoke held a Writer’s Festival.  This year, we had Billy Collins (poet) and W.P. Kinsella (novelist).  Two guys stopped me once and asked where Krueger Hall was.  Only later did I discover they were Collins and Kinsella.

Collins played the piano once in Krueger lounge, and Pearl hung out with him for a while.  When Counselor Dude and maybe Rachel took Collins to his room in Krueger, they found there’d been a mix-up: Some (unmarried) couple on campus had rented the guest room so they could have sex in it, which they were doing right then.

Collins joked about it, and Counselor Dude didn’t open the door.  Rachel thought it was sick.  Rachel and Counselor Dude wanted the flowers, at least, since they were for Collins.

The guy made a weird smile and almost threw the flowers at them.  Collins told Rachel to keep them, but it wouldn’t look good for the RA to have them.  He told her to come and get them later, I guess, and “slip into something a little more comfortable”–just a flirtatious joke.

So now Rachel had his pretty flowers.  Collins writes humorous poems; I could imagine him writing about this whole incident, and immortalizing RC (and maybe Rachel or Counselor Dude).

W.P. Kinsella wrote Shoeless Joe, the novel which inspired the movie Field of Dreams.  He read from Box Socials.  Every time he said the town’s name, Fark, he would pause and then say it significantly.  The readings were so funny that I bought the book from the Campus Shop, and loved it.

This, and a later presentation called “The Devil You Know,” became part of the backdrop for my story Alexander Boa, which was based on a dream.

***

One night, as we stood outside the suite after he had walked me home, Shawn said, “I would love to go on a date with you” (as opposed to just making out in our rooms all the time).  So one day, I went up to him in the cafeteria as he was at the salad/ice cream table where people would set down their trays before getting drinks and such.

I don’t believe anyone else was nearby, and I’d fallen behind my friends, who were leaving, so they weren’t nearby.  I asked if he wanted to go to Homecoming with me.

(Either that year or the year after, Pearl and I were talking about how we’d like to ask guys to the Homecoming semi-formal dance, and she said with a laugh, “I love you dearly, but I don’t want to go to the Homecoming dance with you.”)

He said he had to see whether or not he’d be going home over Homecoming weekend.  But a whole week apparently passed before he gave me an answer, and I believe I had to ask him for it.  He said he didn’t want to turn me down and embarrass me in front of my friends.  This is part of a diary entry I wrote about it:

I’ve never been that good at expressing myself verbally.

Maybe my status as a youngest child, not listened to as much, has caused me to concentrate more on developing my natural writing talent than on developing my speech, since on paper, at least, I can finally be ‘heard.’  [I got this idea from an article I read once on birth order, and it seemed to fit my own life.]

A pencil and paper–my form of eloquence.  Since I have a hard time organizing my thoughts, and making them understood, during conversations of an important nature, my journal is probably my best place for arguing my side of an issue, so here goes:

No matter how you tried to ‘do it right,’ you still forgot the number one rule of rejecting: a quick and painless death….

When I asked you to Homecoming, I wanted an answer right away.  Pearl had told me you like dances or dancing, and we’d agreed that we could go on dates, so I thought, Why not?  He’ll probably say yes, and we’ll have a great time.  If he says no, then so what?  If the Group doesn’t go, maybe we’ll all do something else together, or maybe I’ll do something else.  Or maybe another guy will ask me to go.  I’d just better ask him quick, before he asks someone else, or I might not be able to go at all….

You were alone; I’d fallen behind the Group while contemplating asking you.  A simple, ‘No, I don’t like dances,’ and I could stop thinking about the dance.  I wouldn’t feel personally rejected.

Why did you say you had to see whether or not you’d be going home that weekend?  Hogwash!  That just made me think, if he will, no; if he won’t, yes.  And what was the good of that?

Why do you feel you have to treat me so differently than everybody else?  A little special treatment is obvious, considering our past, but you act like I’m some bundle of neuroses, that’ll [be upset] if you don’t stop your conversation with someone else and give me attention for a while.

And the way you ‘assume’ things, just drives me crazy.  Did you think I sat with you at lunch because I have a crush on you?  I sat with you because I supposed you were my friend and wouldn’t mind, and because no one else from the Group was around yet.

I was soon quite glad I sat there, because a certain person–James–sat there that I’d been wanting to get to know.  As a matter of fact, I’d basically forgotten you that weekend, in favor of this person.

One week you said you’d love to go on a date with me; tonight, you said just the opposite, and made me feel like you didn’t even want to be around me.

You’ve confided things in me, and I’ve confided things in you; I don’t want you to blow me off, and I don’t want to blow you off.  Am I really beautiful, as you recently said, or am I totally repulsive to you?

No matter what other feelings I might have towards you that week, what I value most is our friendship.  Friends don’t hurt each other; they spare each other pain.

And friendship means I can sit by you anytime, talk to you anytime (without me suspecting or you expecting that we’ll probably end up making out), tell you anything.  Catherine made a flippant comment once about you not liking it when I talk about Peter (‘the other guy’)….

Remember, when I say I want to talk, it means I want to talk.  Making out was never my idea, even though I went along with it; you always started it.

Don’t make it into another ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ thing; one’s too much.  ‘Over’ Peter?  [Someone] told me you don’t ever really get ‘over’ someone you’ve loved.

But that doesn’t mean you’re always going to be on the rebound.  It’s been eight months, almost nine, and I’m sick of having no one to think of fondly.  It’s probably unhealthy for me to stay away from dating much longer.

***

On the 20th, I had a disturbing dream about a vampire, which I quickly turned into the first draft of my story Candida.

***

Darryl and Ned occasionally did comedy skits as “Virtual Reality.”  I don’t remember if they did skits the following semester; they did none the next year.  My friends in the Group thought they did too much Monty Python, but I loved the skits.

During a campus talent show, they did the famous Parrot Sketch from Monty Python, and a sketch about the Registrar’s office.  Ned played the guy working at the desk, and when someone pointed out that the sign was spelled “Registar’s Office” instead of “Registrar’s Office,” he said, “Well, this is Roanoke.”

Their sketch of the campus president was hilarious.  It featured Darryl playing a clueless president, constantly offering people coffee.  The “president” would get this dopey, open-mouthed grin on his face and kind of tilt his body a bit as he walked, a coffee pot in one hand and coffee mug in the other.

The most hilarious part of it was, the second time they did it, the real president was there to see it–and he loved it.  He must have been a good sport.

Also in that performance, Ned’s new girlfriend Melissa played Ned’s “Piece of Fluff,” or ditzy girlfriend.  (She obviously agreed to this, so don’t go crying sexism.)  At one point, Darryl picked up Ned’s glass of pop and noticed the backwash.  Darryl said, “I feel sorry for Melissa.”

***

No matter what I thought of Peter as a person, no matter if I loved or hated him, I felt he was my burden and I was supposed to keep praying for him until he finally realized that he needed God again.  It wasn’t about me so much; it was about God.  I thought he was just in a phase; I didn’t realize he never would return to Christianity.

One day, we heard a lecture on “Job and the Mystery of Human Existence.”  The speaker was impressed that Roanoke students all read Job our freshman year, so we already knew what he was talking about.

One day, Rachel and Sharon, both RAs, took a master key and got into Pearl’s room while Pearl and Cindy were gone.  They then hid behind furniture.  When Pearl came in, Rachel started lifting up a pillow.  Pearl stared with a blank look, thinking, “Oh-kaaay….”

A year or two before, this Clinton fellow seemed to have no chance of winning against the popular incumbent George Bush who had won the Gulf War.  His run was a waste of time.

Now, opinion polls showed him pulling ahead of Bush.  But I knew he would lose, because Pat Robertson had said so, along with other predictions for 1992.  He had said the same thing soon after the Gulf War.

Each New Year’s, Pat gave predictions for the year to come, things God told him during a time of fasting and prayer.  He never seemed to be wrong.

Since I taped the show, I copied down every word of what he said each New Year’s.  He and his co-host would name the previous year’s predictions, and say they had all come to pass.

The only prediction I wondered about came right before the Gulf War.  Had he really said the Stock Market would plummet, or had he said, rather, that gas prices would plummet?  Had I written it wrong?  Had he thought one thing and said another, which I often do?

Whatever it was, I wrote down one thing, another thing happened, and he claimed to have predicted what happened.

I thought MTV had gotten too political.  This, and the message that everyone should vote, wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t 1) shown political shows instead of getting back to videos, and 2) shown an obvious bias toward one candidate.

But here’s something good that MTV showed a lot that year: Joe’s Apartment, a comedy short about a guy whose apartment is overrun with cockroaches.  It’s hilarious; enjoy!

Even college students like a little trick-or-treating once in a while.  Since I wasn’t in the group who went that year, I don’t know where they went to (perhaps to houses on Prof Row).  Someone this year dressed as a mummy, wrapped head to toe in toilet paper.

The disgusting but funny antics of MTV and Nickelodeon’s Ren and Stimpy now came to MTV, and became popular at Roanoke.  We loved to imitate Ren’s “STEEEM-pee!” and “STEEM-pee, you EE-dee-uht!”

Ren and Stimpy’s song “Happy Happy Joy Joy” became popular to sing–and I believe WIXX played it.

One evening, while passing through the Campus Center lounge, I found a group of students all gathered around the TV, watching Ren and Stimpy.

This wonderful popularity, however, was shortlived: Ren’s voice changed, the cartoons began to be more for kids, and a new cartoon arrived on MTV: Beavis and Butthead.  But more on that one later.

I kept setting aside a tenth of my paycheck to be given either to the S– church, or to my church back home when I went home for vacations.  Some guy on The 700 Club (Benny Hinn) had predicted a dark economic time for the country, saying that only the givers in the church would survive.

Of course, in the fullness of time we see that though other parts of the world did see recessions in the 90s and the US went through its own recession for a time, it wasn’t so bad as all that.  Most people in the US seemed to survive, and I don’t think being a giver in the church affected that.  Heck, the 90s ended with a booming economy.

Clarissa and I heard awful stories about Krueger, that girls on the mostly-freshman third floor would get drunk and poop in the hallway instead of the bathroom, that somebody on the second floor puked or pooped in a shower stall….

It turned out that at least one of these stories wasn’t exactly true.  I believe the shower stall story (and possibly the other one as well) could be explained by someone taking peanut butter and putting it in a shower stall as a prank.

Some people didn’t even bother getting dressed for their 8:00 classes: They’d roll out of bed and go to class in their pajamas!

In high school, I had felt like an oddball for not wearing makeup like the other girls did.  That was the 80s, after all, when you were “supposed” to wear it, and lots of it.

But in college, I was no longer the only girl who didn’t wear makeup.  Rachel didn’t wear it, Catherine didn’t wear it, Clarissa didn’t wear it.  I finally felt normal.  In the late 90s, I’m told, college girls commonly went without makeup.

Clarissa and I hated it when our suitemates would hold seances in the lounge.  They’d turn off the lights and light candles, and Clarissa and I would hole up in our room until it was over, afraid to come out even to go outside or to the bathroom.  We feared what they might stir up.

We also heard that Carl, Dirk’s roommate, was a witch, and he and Dirk held a seance in their room in Grossheusch once.  Carl said he went to bed in his nightclothes.  When he woke up in the morning, his clothes were on, and all the drawers in the room were open.  (He assumed Dirk had been asleep.)

***

On Halloween, right before Hell Week started, Shawn called around 12:45am, asking if I wanted to watch a movie in the suite, in Maggie’s old room, which had been made into a guest room with the suite lounge’s old furniture after new furniture was delivered.  There was a big, old, comfy couch.

We used my TV and VCR.  He came around 1am, so I got myself ready for bed before he came, even in my nightgown.

We lay on the couch watching the movie, me about to fall asleep; afterwards, there was a little fooling around, though not much so I could go to bed.  He finally left around 4:30!

It was Saturday, but I had to get up in time for lunch, so didn’t get enough sleep.

It sounds very much like what a real couple would do, not just friends, just some simple little scenario of hanging out together all nice and cuddly.

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:

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Realizing how Richard manipulated me into doing things I shouldn’t

This video, “NPD and BPD” by Delusion Dispeller, on the differences between NPD (narcissism) and BPD (borderline) makes Tracy sound more narcissistic than borderline.  DD shows that the narcissist will just let you go, while the borderline will try to hold onto you.

She even goes into breaking the BPD’s rules without knowing what they are–which sounds very familiar.  She says you never know what will offend them because it will one minute, but not the next.

The danger of researching personality disorders, of course, is not just falsely labeling your friends and enemies (so I only say this after probably dozens of hours of research and reflection), but beginning to think you yourself identify with this or the other one.

But then, if I were these things, I don’t think Jeff would have stuck with me for so long, telling everyone he can what a great wife I am.  Things were rocky for us in the beginning because of the baggage left over from my exes (at least one of which also fits with this), but that has long since passed as Jeff and my desire for me to be a good person, worked together to eradicate the baggage.

I do recall things in my past that are very embarrassing, and cringe that I ever did them; maybe everybody has done such things, and the cringing is a sign that they are NOT actually crazy.  While if they didn’t cringe at all, maybe they really are crazy.

Perfectly normal people do have various traits that show up in the lists of abusive or personality disordered traits, because we are human, not perfect; what makes a person fit the criteria of an abuser is the number of traits, all working together as a whole.

Also, the things I did, were usually because I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know intuitively that they were bad ideas, a common problem with NLDers, who often either smother or neglect friendships or relationships because they don’t know intuitively how to proceed, don’t pick up on signs of what their friend or SO wants without being directly told, or if they do pick them up, don’t understand them.

I had no idea that the things I did would receive the reactions and consequences they did.  I never did them again.

While if it were a personality disorder, they would stay with me, and probably be done deliberately in order to gain control and dominance over others.

The people who know me best tend to say glowing things about me, though they do have criticisms from time to time.  But the thoughts still keep creeping in from time to time–maybe Tracy was right.

On the one hand I could be alarmed at this, and see it as evidence that she was crazy-making me, which is indeed something abusers do to take the focus off their own dysfunctions and accuse you.

But on the other hand, I can also embrace it as evidence that I’m not crazy, because if I were BPD or narcissistic or the like, I wouldn’t even consider the possibility that I might have done some things wrong.

Rather, there are things I look back on in this whole experience with Richard and Tracy that sometimes make me go inside myself and shiver inwardly in shame, while those around me probably think I’m just quietly watching a movie with them.

Friends and Jeff have at times scolded me for even considering anything Tracy said, telling me (friends) to consider the source, or (Jeff) that I did nothing wrong.  This is reassuring, but I have trouble releasing the occasional feelings of guilt or shame that let me know I am not a monster myself.

It should also be noted, that a person involved with a Borderline for even a limited time, will be prone to adopting psychotic (BPD) symptomology, due to proximal exposure. That’s why we call their behaviors, “crazy-making.” —The Borderline/Narcissist Couple

This explains some of the things I’ve done in dealing with the BPDs or narcissists or abusers who have come and gone in my own life, including Richard and Tracy.

For example, the narcissist abuser Phil who kept trying to tear me down and telling me it was all my fault, that I always had to get my way–while his way involved painful or disgusting sex positions that I didn’t want to do.

Or Peter, who may very well have been BPD because of his “chameleon-like” way of making a girl think he was her perfect man, before his true colors came out later and he treated her like crap for being upset at getting dumped.

Not only did he do this with me, but a few years later I was told–by a person who had no clue I had once dated Peter–that he was doing this very thing again and again to girls on a local BBS.

As for some of the crazy things I’ve done myself while dealing with these people, they’re things I felt driven to do out of desperation.  Later on, I usually felt ashamed of it and wondered how I could ever have done it, never doing it again.

I know from research that normal, healthy people don’t stay normal and healthy for long in dysfunctional marriages, or family relationships, so if I acted crazy myself a few times during dysfunctional relationships or friendships, it’s understandable even if not excusable–but doesn’t mean I will permanently retain the taint of their dysfunction.

I did a lot of research into abuse to see if I had been abused, validate my experiences, reassure myself that I did not deserve it, and hopefully learn to heal.  When I first came across Sam Vaknin’s site on narcissism, it was through his articles on abuse.

I had already used them when writing about my abusive ex Phil, and when researching abuse between 2008 and 2010.  (I did that because of Tracy’s behavior, and so I could make my own page on abuse.)

On one page was a list of narcissistic traits of abusers which sounded just like Tracy, so the lightbulb went on.  I also came across sites which pointed to borderline personality disorder in many abusive women.

But as I read Sam Vaknin’s articles on narcissism, an uncomfortable little voice kept saying: Oh my gosh, that’s Richard, too!

This cemented the idea that not only did I not deserve what happened, but I was targeted by two narcissists, one with BPD that made her abuse obvious, but one charming narc who makes you believe he cares–more dangerous because it is subtle.

Also, this sounds very much like Richard and Tracy.  Now, when it goes into the childhoods of NPDs (narcissists) and BPDs (borderline personality disordered people), I know Tracy came from a very dysfunctional family, while Richard said glowing things about his parents–even excusing it when he hinted at his dad abusing him in some way.

As for narcissism, the know-it-all traits under the subheading “What’s Love Got to do with It” sound very familiar, coming across as an absolute authority, one-upping, mansplaining, telling you what you’re thinking or feeling, and yes, it is very infuriating.

Then he’d wonder why I was getting upset over something he said.  “Where did that come from?  I was only….[etc. etc.]”

I can imagine the same thing happening with Tracy.  So no, I don’t believe the abuse was all one-sided in this relationship, and as much as I don’t want to see Richard as a narcissist, he fits far too well.

Not only from what I’ve seen, but from what Jeff has observed, from his Forum enemies calling him “arrogant” and him agreeing, and from things he has told me about his past–not just boasts, but also confessions of his own bad behaviors, whether with women or with people in general.

Not only did he overwhelm people with charisma, but he also kept overwhelming me with TMI that made me want to take an ice pick to get it out of my brain.

Then in June 2010, made some strange comment about needing to set some boundaries about his past relationships, even though he’d been the one volunteering all sorts of information to me–even stuff I really didn’t want to know.

But thanks to this, I can identify from the above link that he has a tendency of getting enmeshed with BPDs.

Also note that BPDs who have issues with their mothers (such as Tracy) can hate all other women.  This sounds very familiar, as well.  Also, people would note that Tracy was never satisfied, a trait which comes up again and again in articles on abusers and BPDs.

I believe Richard is a narcissist who used me for narcissistic supply, maybe unintentionally or without realizing it, but still did it.  He had told me enough about his past which seemed so different from the way he was now, that it was amazing he was talking about the same person.

It was an arrogant, abusive person who was a dog to women and violent to men, who would judge people based on their smarts.  I have to wonder now if that old Richard was really gone, or just hidden.

Based on how he would brag about his past and all the women who would chase him then and now, and how his exes would sit and talk to each other about how evil he was, and his outrageous flirting that was carried on with his various female friends (and male), even via text message while he proposed to his wife–I do believe he is a casanova figure.

He wants to be desired, wants to be the ladykiller even though he’s married and not allowed to touch any of them.  He wants to be the casanova even though he’s long since let himself go quite a bit and no longer looks anything like he did back in his youth.

So he toyed with me, played with my head, when he was separated from his wife for so long and they were having problems.  He told me beforehand that modern American society is far too prudish and reserved.  We should be freer!

(Months later, he even told me one day that I was prudish for wearing a robe over my nightgown around him, that they had another friend who just wore her nightclothes freely around both of them, no robe.)

Then one evening he took a few liberties with me, but holding back just enough that he could feign innocence when I called him on it later.  I won’t rehash that story; it’s already here, here and here.  From here on out I will just assume my reader has read those sections, so I don’t have to repeat what happened.

I’m not sure what exactly to make of it–I’ve seen him get flirty with everybody he knows, and ask for “huggles”–but the way he threw me to the wolf (Tracy) over it, suggests to me that his motives were not pure.

I told him not to put his head in my lap anymore, that if Tracy had trouble with just using each other’s shoulders as pillows then she’d really have a problem with that, and it’s a very questionable thing to do anyway.  (He only did it once.)  Though I really felt the “shoulder thing” was much ado about nothing.

Some part of me knew that he was only telling me part of the truth.  It was the best kind of lie: the one that is mostly true.  But I trusted him, became a good little acolyte, taking in my mentor’s instruction and making it my own belief.

It is indeed true that many people are far freer with flirting and nonsexual touch than the average American.  It is indeed true that these things can be completely platonic.  Everything he did could indeed be completely platonic, and some of my other friends do these things.

But there were the little things here and there, things he said or did, that tell me he didn’t mean them completely platonically at the time.  That he was going a little too far.  

He should’ve told me this honestly when I first confronted him with what he was doing, and I would’ve known what we needed to do: pull back, stop doing these things, not spend so much time together.  

But he didn’t, I trusted him to tell me the truth, I set aside the little suspicions, I trusted him that everything he did was platonic and innocent–and he let me take the fall for him.

While re-reading The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, a Gothic novel I first read many years ago while in college, I was also writing this account, and was struck by the similarities in one scene:

The black monk, Schedoni, is about to stab the heroine, Ellena, when he sees a miniature around her neck of himself as a young man.  She wakes up, and he soon tells her he is her father.

He doesn’t tell her why he was there, and after he leaves, she begins to wonder what he was doing in her room (where she was imprisoned) at midnight, anyway?

Then she finds the dagger lying on the floor.  The truth is right there staring her in the face, but she doesn’t want to believe that her own father would kill her, even though he didn’t know who she was at the time and was her captor.

Instead, she decides to believe that it was his henchman who tried to kill her, and that Schedoni rescued her.  She has no reason to believe this, but she wants to, and Schedoni lets her.  The mind can believe what it wants to even with much evidence to the contrary.

From his actions the day of the “incident,” from the things he said to Jeff, from the way he just threw me under the bus instead of explaining to Tracy what the e-mail was really all about, from the way that he justified her actions and words, it was as if he were now saying to me,

“You piece of f**king trash, how dare you remember the things I did to you, how dare you hold the memories close to your heart?  I wish I had never given you these hugs!  How dare you ever speak of these things I did as if I had ever actually done them?  I can do them, but you can’t speak of them!  I am a liar and will treat you like a liar and a manstealing whore for even bringing them up!”

…This despite the fact that we had discussed these hugs via online chat in the past, and back then he acted as if we had done nothing wrong, as if I had done nothing wrong by mentioning them, that he wanted to do the things again, that he was just avoiding them because of the way Tracy had been acting at the time, that in the future it would be okay with her.

And I had no reason to think that these hugs had ever been forbidden, but that he was just holding back for a while.

His actions the day of the “incident” proved him guilty, when if he had explained to Tracy the truth, he would have exonerated both himself and me….Unless, of course, what he told me was not the truth.

I gave him the opportunity to tell me the truth.  Why didn’t he tell me the truth?  Why didn’t he admit he’d gone too far and he shouldn’t have done those things and they needed to stop?

Why did he lead me to believe that they were perfectly normal things for close platonic friends to do, that they were done platonically, and didn’t need to stop?

Probably because he didn’t want to stop.  Probably because it fed his ego when he was at a very low point in his life.

I wish he would have been honest with me; it all would have stopped, I never would’ve brought it up again, and all this never would’ve happened.  My naïvete and gullibility stares me in the face and shames me.

I know enough about his past with women–a self-described “dog”–to think these things I write are probably true.  He says he respects women now, but I have plenty of reason to believe that the dog is still inside him, just taking a nap, waking up every now and then.

I wanted a friend who could be playful but without being dangerous.  He turned dangerous.  He became like Shawn from college, who lured and manipulated me into giving him what he wanted, then treated me like a cheap whore for it.

He became like Phil, my ex-fiance/husband, who wove a web of lies which I only believed because of NVLD, and wore me down until I did things with him that (in Christian morality) were wrong, but which he told me were perfectly fine and not wrong at all.

Because of the NVLD, I was far too trusting, thinking a pious Christian would never do such things.  I thought as a married woman I was beyond being so taken in.

But then another seemingly pious Christian man came along and started breaking down my reserves just as Shawn did, convincing me–just as Shawn did–that we were doing nothing wrong, then letting me drown in the fallout when (in Richard’s case) the wife found out.

Leaving me baffled as to what just happened because Richard had convinced me we were doing nothing adulterous or even out of the ordinary for close platonic friends.

I thought his days of going to Bible college while womanizing and being a violent “gumba” were over, that his days of faking piety and speaking in tongues for the congregation (as a Pentecostal preacher in his early 20s) were over, covered by the blood of Jesus.

When I asked how he was able to get over/forgive his ex–who was (from what I heard) a psychotic nympho who cheated on him all the time–he said he abused her too, as punishment; I thought this sort of behavior was all in his past.  Now I wonder if, when we watched Elmer Gantry together, it gave him ideas.

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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