Ever since my conversations with Richard first began two years before, they had been one-on-one. Our conversations for the past two months had gone on for hours, one-on-one.
There was a dynamic, a shared history of confidences, an understanding between us that made these conversations special. As a quiet, shy introvert, I could open up in a way I couldn’t when more people were added.
Introversion includes a preference for one-on-one conversations, and hating small talk. It also means you have trouble contributing to conversations with more people because it’s hard to process, think what you want to say, and then find a spot to say it, before the conversation has moved on.
It has nothing to do with our intelligence, willingness to speak, or what we think of the others in the conversation. It is, rather, how our brains are wired:
Our brain processes require us to think before speaking, going through our long-term memories for experiences and knowledge to find something to say. Extroverts think as they speak, using short-term memory.
It takes longer to go through the long-term memory. So small talk makes us very quiet, while an in-depth, interesting conversation inspires us to speak a lot more.
Now, you may say, if introverts have to take extra time to think of something to say, then why are your brains so quick in this case?
It’s simple: If we are already interested in a topic, then we study it and think about it a lot, so we already know what to say. If we don’t already know about a topic, then we have very little to pull from our experiences or knowledge, so there is very little to say.
The same goes for questions put to us by significant others or friends: Since this question has only just been put to us, we need time to examine it, and figure out what we think about it and the best way to answer it.
I have had people get upset with me for not answering yet, when they haven’t even given me a chance to think it over first. This is very annoying for an introvert, so stop doing that.
But Richard told Jeff that I needed to “push” myself. Uh, no. That reminds me of my second-grade teacher (I loved her otherwise because she was awesome, but this one thing annoyed me):
She complained that I did not participate enough in class. That’s because I didn’t always know the answer. One day I was in a little circle with the “smart” group; she asked us for types of construction equipment.
I said nothing because I was into “girl” things, like dolls and Cinderella, and had no clue what types of construction equipment there were. But she kept saying, “Raise your hand, Nyssa! Raise your hand!”
What was I supposed to say if I raised my hand–“I have no clue and don’t have an answer for you”?
That’s exactly how I feel if somebody–such as Richard–tries to push and force me into a conversation when I have nothing to say.
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days…..
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers.
That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.)
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ. —Carl King, 10 Myths About Introverts
So I resented it when Richard kept trying to make these into three-way conversations with Tracy, whose judgment, temper and humor I began to find questionable. The more I saw of her temperament, the less I wanted to open up to her. She put me off with crass humor. She also seemed to be very reactionary when someone disagreed with her, and conservative where I was liberal.
For example, she ripped on my priest for saying that their marriage had to be blessed in the Orthodox Church before they could take the Eucharist. She made all sorts of disrespectful and nasty comments about him, such as not listening to an “old man.” But this was an Orthodox requirement which somehow had been neglected after their conversion, so she was extremely unfair to this wonderful priest.
She also decided she hated my church and wanted nothing to do with it, because somebody told her there was a children’s area in the basement where she could take the kids when they get noisy.
(In fact, even though Richard loved my church when it was just him and me going, they both now came up with all sorts of reasons why they didn’t like my church, and chose a different church two counties away. My church is full of lovely people and has an awesome, wise priest.)
For another example, I felt comfortable talking with Richard about things that turned me off about fundamentalist Protestantism, such as the rejection of science. Some time long before, he and I looked over an Orthodox website which said that the obsession with Creationism was not Orthodox. But I mentioned this in front of Tracy one day, and she just went off on me.
Also on the Forum once, I posted some link that said the Catholic church was not concerned with biblical literalism, which to me showed that even the ancient Churches aren’t strict about this like Protestant Fundamentalists. I meant it as a refreshing change from what I’d grown up with, but she railed against the Catholic Church for this.
Richard had a far different view, from what I could see. Apparently she thinks that Christians must reject evolution (and global climate change) despite all evidence that it is true. I was not comfortable discussing religious issues with her after that.
Then–after all that insistence on biblical literalism–she supported shooting illegal immigrants on sight! Richard and I both found such a policy morally abhorrent–him because he once was told to do just that as a border guard, and was scarred by it. (At least, so he says, though I have trouble finding supporting evidence for such a policy.)
My participation in three-way conversations was already limited because they kept going on about subjects I found boring, and because it was much harder for me to break in when two other people were talking.
But it was even more limited because I didn’t want her knowing my private thoughts. In the beginning I told her private things, but a few weeks later, I no longer trusted her enough to do that.
I kept telling Richard I wanted some one-on-one conversations, not just three-ways, but he just didn’t get it. I resented being forced into friendship with someone I found abrasive, whom I witnessed verbally abusing him and the kids. I told him, “I have to choose my own confidantes.” But it just kept falling on deaf ears, and I resented that.
How could he even think our awesome conversations should start including a third person? We could have three-way everyday conversations, but there was no way our special, hours-long, in-depth conversations were going to happen with a third person.
That destroyed the dynamic, the mutual trust, the similar interests and backgrounds. Did he want to ruin them? My husband didn’t even try to get in the middle of our conversations, but went to the basement (where the computer is) so we could talk.
It seemed Richard was one of those extroverts who think introverts should be just like them, that being introverted is somehow a fault that has to be corrected, rather than a different way of processing social situations. He often gave unasked-for advice that might work for him, but not for me.
The more is not the merrier: Not for me, anyway. If we make plans, please, please don’t invite other people to join us–at the very least, check with me first.
Introverts usually prefer one-on-one to groups and I’m bummed when the nice cozy visit I anticipated turns into a convivial racket. –Dr. Irene S. Levine, The Inside Scoop on Your Introvert Friends
I had no idea yet that Tracy actually required me to be an extrovert, to be Chatty Cathy with her all day long, along with socializing with her at night.
I CAN’T STAND SITTING ON MY BUTT FOR HOURS ON END WITH NOTHING TO DO BUT SOCIALIZE. It drives me absolutely batty. Except, maybe, for Richard or my mother or catching up with some girl friend from college. But these are people with whom I already have an established rapport and can keep up my end without trouble.
Even after she had been in my house for days, and I no longer could put off housework, and needed a quiet place to recharge, away from all these people.
I had no idea that otherwise she would not “approve” my friendship with Richard, would not consider me her friend despite how I put myself out to help her, would see every move I made as a move on her husband.
While if I were an extrovert, she would “approve” me instantly and I could go to the bar and grill with Richard, could chat with him alone for hours, could even put my head on his shoulder and she’d consider it cute and join in.
Even though she did indeed approve me within the first few days, and called me her friend, now she and Richard claimed she never approved me. I was so bewildered and angry by this, that I did not call them out on this big, fat, obvious lie.
It was my first red flag warning that they were manipulative, emotional cons, liars, doublespeakers and users–but I did not catch it. Down the rabbit-hole with me!
But when I found out about her secret rules, I resented that Tracy began treating me like I was out to steal her husband because I wanted to continue having one-on-one conversations with him, as I had been allowed to do for the past two years without anyone even suggesting this was “wrong” or “inappropriate.”
Because I wanted to go to the bar and grill with him, as I had been allowed to do for the past two months without anyone even suggesting this was “wrong” or “inappropriate.”
This constant insistence that I turn into Chatty Cathy with her (when it’s neurologically impossible for me to open up and be chatty with mean, abusive people), or else she would continue being hostile toward me and treating me like the Other Woman, infuriated me over the next couple of years.
It also enraged my husband. Both of us constantly complained to each other about her ingratitude, treating me like this when I had allowed her into my home for six weeks, and never threw her out, even though she forced herself into my house and was constantly rude to me.
Extroverts tell us to change, and the abusive types punish us and treat us like stubborn creeps for not changing. But introverts cannot change our behavior. This is the way our brains work, and the reason we are able to come up with creative ideas and works of art.
If we needed lots of social time like extroverts, and found it rejuvenating instead of draining, then we would not have enough alone time to write or invent.
Also, in February 2008, Richard claimed that he saw me ignore her attempts to make conversation, or saw me get up when she sat down. But I recalled no such attempts, so for all I knew, he was making this up to gaslight me.
I suggested that my NVLD kept me from recognizing these attempts, since I could not remember them, and had no idea what she had supposedly done or said that was my cue to converse.
Also, when I got up, maybe I had to do something. Or maybe I was so angry with her for some recent incident of hostility, jealousy or abuse, that I did not want to be around her right then. Or maybe they were driving me crazy with the PDAs and I just wanted to be by myself for a bit.
It felt like even my right to choose my own company was now supposed to be under Tracy’s control. Who the heck was she (or he) to tell me who my friends should be, or when I should hang out with someone?
In just a few weeks after she moved into my house, I felt a distinct jealous vibe off Tracy. She began to hover. If I sat next to Richard as he played on the basement computer, ten minutes later, there was Tracy.
I felt treated like a homewrecker for wanting to spend more than ten minutes just sitting down and having a nice chat with my best friend and roommate, as I had grown accustomed to.
She stared daggers at Richard or angrily whacked him on the arm if he dared to have a conversation alone with me, or do any number of things–WHAT things he did wrong, I had no idea.
I also had no idea just how bad it could be until one day I asked Richard to talk to me by himself about some things. It had been a few weeks since I last spoke to just him. Tracy was right there, so it was not sneaky. It seemed to me like a simple, ordinary request. He decided to take me with him to get cigarettes. Again, seemed simple and ordinary to me.
Then Richard said as we pulled out of the driveway that she was staring daggers at him. That surprised and baffled me. I said, “Why?” He said she feared we were going to talk about her.
Her ridiculous behavior shocked me. It had nothing to do with her, but we ended up talking about her anyway because of her jealous reaction. I don’t think I got much time to talk about what I really wanted to talk about. I don’t recall if I had noticed her jealousy towards me just yet, or if that was just beginning to catch my notice.
I also felt largely ignored by Richard, like my days were just housework and sleep and no joy or relaxation, in a crowded, noisy house with no way to get peace.
My routine was simple and, as an NLDer, I did not like deviations: housework, personal grooming and childcare in the morning/afternoon, my time on the computer for a couple of hours around the time my son took a nap and Jeff came home, then evenings for relaxing and–with these people here–socializing. (That meant about six hours every night spent socializing with Richard and Tracy.)
(I’ve mentioned a forum through which Richard, Tracy, Todd and I all met. I’ll call it The Forum to make things easy.)
The housework had to get done, especially with all the extra people and all the children running around. I did not want their health compromised by playing in a basement covered in cat puke/kitty litter, for example.
My child’s Pull-Ups had to be changed, since potty training abruptly stopped when everyone moved in.
And, as an introvert, I desperately needed time to myself in the basement (the “Dungeon”) on the computer. I needed that time to myself to recharge, to get my computer time before Jeff’s time on it began, to e-mail my mom, to check in at the Forum and an Orthodox forum, to complain on a Goth Christian forum about the noise, and to get away from all the children’s noise and Tracy’s annoying, grating, constantly yelling voice. Otherwise, I would go mad.
I had no clue that attending to my household and recharging in a quiet corner, was taken by Tracy as a personal, unforgivable, inexcusable offense to her.
That a host doing what a host must do, especially when guests stay for more than a few days, was an insult that cannot be borne, and proves me to be a loose woman of bad character who must never be allowed to be alone with her husband.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s because it IS ridiculous. Yet I was forced to accept it as a universal rule that EVERYBODY knows, even those with learning disorders.
I was often upset with Tracy because of her screaming at the kids all day long, or being mean to Richard, though I kept my mouth shut to her about it. Meanwhile, Tracy began making occasional snarky and jealous-sounding remarks to me.
During the two months it was just Richard, he occasionally took me to the nearby bar and grill for ice cream, where we talked until closing time.
One day near Christmas, I e-mailed him through the Forum (the only way I could say anything private to him anymore) that I was going crazy, that every time I tried to talk to him it was cut off, and asked him to please go to the bar and grill to get some ice cream with me like we used to. This way we could take a break, get away from all the people and sit and talk privately.
It seemed like a simple, ordinary request to me.
I asked him again later in person because he hadn’t responded, but he said no, and it sounded like we wouldn’t for some time. I don’t remember now what all he said, just that it made me feel like spending time with me no longer mattered much to him. Tracy came upstairs. I went over to do the dishes, but couldn’t control my tears, so I had to rush off to bed so they wouldn’t see me cry.
The next morning, I cried to Jeff in our bedroom that I felt like the friend (me) was being tossed aside now that the wife was here.
When Richard was here alone, he wanted to spend most of his time with me and talk with me, kept me up till three in the morning chattering away about anything and everything, showed me Goth music videos on the Net, told me I was the most awesome person he knew, and we told each other everything that was going on in our lives.
But now he didn’t seem to care if I was alive.
In fact, most evenings, while Jeff was on the computer in the Dungeon and I was socializing, it felt like Richard and Tracy constantly ganged up on me, making jabs at me, criticizing me, making fun of me.
They often did this after they moved out, too, when Jeff wasn’t there, so I hated it whenever she came along with him when he stopped over. I remember mentioning this once or twice in an e-mail to Richard.
Then they’d get all cuddly and kissy on the couch while I sat on the other end of it, feeling extremely uncomfortable (like I always do when people get all PDA around me).
I often felt like a third wheel in my own house, like I wasn’t welcome, not just during the cuddling but wherever Tracy was. Richard once asked me to join them in a card game in the basement, but I got a distinct impression that Tracy didn’t want me there.
I felt unwelcome in my own house, like Tracy wanted to tell me where I could and could not be in my own house!
The insults began coming, fiercer all the time; I felt closely watched; I had no moment’s peace. I couldn’t even take Richard out of the house for a ten-minute private conversation without her getting angry. Tracy had been okay with Richard moving in with us, and probably knew we were having conversations that lasted for hours.
Why was it okay for him to live with us by himself for two months, and spend hours talking with me every day, but now that she was here, he couldn’t spend ten minutes talking with me?
Why was it okay for him to take me out for ice cream while he lived here by himself, but now that she was here, it was horrendously disrespectful of me to even think of such a thing? (I’m not sure when, but I eventually discovered she was the one who said we couldn’t do this.)
It was like putting the cart before the horse. It was completely illogical and irrational, and baffling. But things really began to escalate around Christmas and New Year’s. I did not know why, because no one had explained anything, and all I saw was this increasingly hostile person who kept yelling at and bullying everybody (except Jeff).
I couldn’t stand the way she talked to Richard, and I kept wanting to stick up for him. I couldn’t stand the ways she kept cutting him down. I remembered a thing she had done while they were still separated, a thing I won’t tell here but which had filled me with so much empathy and sympathy for Richard that I broke down in tears on his behalf. I wondered how anyone could do that to him, and hadn’t forgiven her for it.
One day Richard would agree with me that Tracy’s treatment of him wasn’t right–that she was too jealous, needed to let him have time with his friends, ordered him around–when he had a few minutes while she was out of the room.
(This is when I began writing this page, trying to figure out why one spouse would require another to spend all his time with her and not with friends, why someone would put marriage so high up there that having friends seems completely unimportant. It eventually grew to include the problems with jealousy.)
Then another day he would excuse and justify her behavior and get mad at me for being mad at her nasty and controlling behavior.
I felt like she was steamrolling all over me, and he let her do it, like she could do no wrong no matter how horribly she treated people.
Sometimes I wonder if his defenses of her were not because he really believed I was wrong, but because she’d beaten him into submission verbally and/or physically, because he’d be punished if he didn’t agree with her and stick up for her no matter what crap she was pulling or how badly she treated me.
Even if she was a guest in my home, even if I was her benefactress at great personal and financial expense.
Basically, she bullied me and discriminated against me for having different brain wiring than hers, and for needing to take care of household business and have time to myself during a six-week home invasion.
She also bullied me because I wanted to spend time with my BFF, with whom I had bonded over two years of friendship and two months of him staying in my house, while I was naturally shy with her, as I am with everyone when I first meet them.
I believe that borderline personality disorder drove her to see insults where none existed, and that narcissism led her to continue insisting there were insults even when the truth was explained.
I believe that the need of abusers to control their victims, led to her insisting on her being right even when she was wrong, because she soon discovered that I saw her as abusing her husband and children. After all, if her husband listened to me and saw it, too, then he might leave, and borderlines are deathly afraid of abandonment.
Also, keep in mind that I did not know all her “reasons” yet. I write this from the perspective of what I learned over two years of dealing with her, things which were not revealed to me until later.
All I knew at this time was that she wanted to know me better. Not only did I think that spending 24/7 in a house with someone for several weeks was plenty long enough to get to know somebody, but I spent six hours each evening socializing with her.
After they moved out, I thought she’d finally be okay with me, only to find that she still wasn’t satisfied. In August I thought for sure she knew me well enough by now and was past this, only to find that she was not. But then shortly after, she did okay me finally.
Then in 2009 I thought this was long in the past, only to find that she had removed her approval at some unknown time.
At first, I thought she just wanted to know me better. But then in June 2009 I was required to have a certain kind of conversation with her. So one day I did so, and thought that settled it, that she had a conversation like that with me (again) and could relax. (It was weird, because Tracy told Richard that had never happened before, even though it DID happen back in early December 2007.)
Then I was told all the horrible things I supposedly did during her stay here, but I apologized and heard from Richard, shortly thereafter, that all the restrictions were gone and everything was fine.
Then in July 2010, she once again acted like she never had a conversation with me, never approved me, never removed her restrictions.
And now she demonstrated that it was my introverted nature that ticked her off so much, that it was impossible to satisfy her because she required my very personality be changed before she’d approve my friendship with Richard.
But not only that, but this is what she grabbed onto as a reason to give me, while the real reason was that I became more outspoken about how she and Richard were both abusing their kids.
So she had to make up offenses that did not exist, and pretend she never approved me, to justify her narcissistic rage against me–and push me away before I reported them to CPS. I base this on events that happened in 2010, as you will see here and here.
It was maddening, narcissistic crazy-making! The only way I can explain such behavior from her, is that she did it deliberately because (as you will soon discover) she knew that I saw her as abusing her husband and children. And if Richard didn’t go along with it, saying and doing all the right things, he would get punished.
From Oscar Wilde’s “Portrait of W.H.”:
Of course it is a hypothesis, but then it is a hypothesis that explains everything, and if you had been sent to Cambridge to study science, instead of to Oxford to dawdle over literature, you would know that a hypothesis that explains everything is a certainty.
And yes, this hypothesis explains everything.
The parts about not feeling “welcome” because I followed my schedule of housework and computer during the day, and personally insulted because as an introvert I had to carve out time to myself every day to recharge, that was not revealed to me until a year and a half later!
So I had no chance to explain what was really going on, until she dug in her heels and refused to budge an inch.
I also had no idea that I was required to carry on long conversations with her like an extrovert and share secrets with her and be best buds with her. I just thought that spending every night socializing with her for SIX HOURS should be plenty for her to get to know me, and that insisting on more was being controlling and petty.
I also felt that she put far too much pressure on me, trying to force me to talk when I didn’t know what to say. I felt that if she wanted so badly to chat with me and get to know me, then she needed to stop being so nasty to everybody:
Stop hovering over Richard, stop pressuring me, stop snarking at me, stop screaming at the kids, stop being possessive and controlling with Richard, stop smacking him and picking at him and ordering him around.
I’m also trying to recreate the events of 2007 in an easily digestible manner, and without remembering everything that happened (having shredded much of my records of it in early 2008). So keep in mind that our discussions/arguments on this issue, had not yet happened when the next sections occurred.
- limiting outside involvement
- making another avoid people/friends/family by deliberately embarrassing or humiliating them in front of others
Emotional and Mental Abuse
- putting another down/name-calling
- making another feel as if they are crazy in public or through private humiliation
- unreasonable jealousy and suspicion
- playing mind games
- making another afraid by using looks/actions/gestures
Using Privileges (perceived or cultural)
- treating another like a servant
- acting like the master or queen of the castle
Abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially. Geographic isolation includes moving the victim from her friends, family and support system (often hundreds of miles); moving frequently in the same area and/or relocating to a rural area.
Social isolation usually begins with wanting the woman to spend time with him and not her family, friends or co-workers. He will then slowly isolate her from any person who is a support to her. He dictates whom she can talk to; he tells her she cannot have contact with her friends or family. —Warning Signs of an Abuser
Table of Contents
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?
11. Struggle to regain normalcy
12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other
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