friends with benefits

Friendship, lust, doubt, Evangelicalism: response to Wondering Eagle

My friend Wondering Eagle just put up a blog post that covers a wide range of topics based on Evangelical culture, regarding friendship and loneliness and doubt and lust etc. etc.  I posted this in reply:

1) Years ago, songs like this one probably would have struck me as blasphemous, because of how Evangelicalism “trained” me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ijwj1xOLYY  Nowadays, after almost two decades of doubt and disillusion combined with stubborn refusal to give up on God, I can truly appreciate that Gary Numan is the Gothic Job.  (He’s an atheist, BTW.)  Every now and then, I get obsessed with this song; here we go again. 🙂  It helps a lot that Orthodoxy and Catholicism actually let you have doubts and the dark night of the soul.  In Evangelicalism, I felt like I wasn’t supposed to have doubts (“ye of little faith”) or question the moral values the elders passed down (“you just want to sin”).  And that made me harder on others than I should’ve been.

2) My church has usually been a fairly safe place, with both Republicans and Democrats.  I come back to church after getting vaccinated, and after church a newcomer is yelling at the church president and a couple others because everybody’s wearing “carnival masks.”  A few weeks ago, she wondered about a necklace I was wearing (I wear Gothy jewelry; this piece was based on Poe’s “Raven”) and said, “I thought, it couldn’t be Harry Potter!”  It’s put my spidey senses on alert: Is it a Trumper? Is she like the Evangelicals I used to go to church with?  Around that time, we’re told that TWO members of the board have submitted resignations, and I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes.

3) My narcissist ex-friend, at least according to the stories he told me and others, was once a promising up-and-coming preacher in Foursquare, packing churches.  Some TV celeb wanted to get him on TV.  Yet he told me that secretly, he didn’t believe any of it, and whenever he spoke in “tongues,” it was just a bunch of gibberish he made up.  Unlike the other preacher celebs, though, he finally got disgusted and walked away.

4) The messaging on lust doesn’t just destroy young men.  In college, I was in a friends-with-benefits “relationship” that never actually went “all the way.”  It was with an Evangelical; I was Fundie, influenced by Evangelicals.  For that reason, it was full of so much lust and guilt and blame that it almost destroyed me.  I had normal feelings and desires, which he did his best to stir up, but he made me feel like a slut who was driving him away from God.  And I thought demons were tempting me, and poured it out to my prayer partner.  I told the guy what was going on, hoping for his help–and he turned around and treated me like an evil temptress he had to avoid like the plague.

5) I was raised in the 80s, when nobody around me said opposite-sex friendships were somehow bad.  Both in the church and out, it was expected and normal that people, both single and married, would have whatever friends they like.  I didn’t encounter this part of purity culture until my friendship with that narc ex-friend in #3, during the naughts.  The wife was very controlling and believed it was her prerogative to tell him who to be friends with, whether male or female.  She decided I was a threat.

Apparently the purity culture affected Orthodoxy through converts, because I confided in some converts online and they treated me like *I* was the problem for wanting to have a close friendship with a man!  It shocked me.  For years I wrote about it on my website/blog, seeking out articles proving that I wasn’t some kind of deviant and that it isn’t right to tell your spouse who to be friends with.  And yes, I still maintain various friendships with men!  One is in my own church, which is mostly “cradle” Orthodox, and nobody has ever so much as given me a side-eye for being close friends with him.

In recent years I finally found out this attitude was coming from Evangelical purity culture.  Samantha Field, who is bisexual, would hear this and think, “Samantha, you can’t have any friends.”

Struggling to Trust Again After Being Discarded by Loved Ones

Going through my college memoirs for publication on this blog, and adding all sorts of things which I kept private before, has brought something very forceful to mind: the experience of being repeatedly thrown away with disgust by people whom I opened up to and loved in special ways:

1. Shawn: I loved him, opened up to him my deep dark secrets, wrote him long letters over the summertime hoping that revealing my innermost thoughts would inspire him to love me back.

But he kept using my body in various ways, constantly pushing me to do more with him, taking all he could get, then verbally and emotionally abusing me afterwards.

Then he finally tossed me away in disgust and refused to have anything more to do with me for some time, because our religious beliefs told us we were sinners for having sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage.

2. Phil: He got me to forget about Shawn and Peter.  He was the love of my life.  I told him my secrets; we secretly formed a spiritual marriage; we passionately desired each other.

Then he, too, tossed me away because I refused to let him break my spirit and make me an obedient wife who did everything he wanted no matter how painful, degrading or disgusting, and refused to let him verbally and emotionally abuse me without my fighting back.

3. Richard: Because we were both already married, this was friendship and platonic love, no sexual elements at all.  But it was a deep, emotional and intellectual connection: my spiritual mentor, my best platonic friend, a roommate for a time, so I told him very personal things, all my secrets.  Those secrets included details about my exes and religious struggles.  I trusted him and called him my brother.

Then his own dark secrets began coming to light: physical violence, manipulation, child abuse, vindictiveness.

After seeing with horror just how violent he could become with his own best friends over misunderstandings, because his wife forced him to do her bidding and abuse his own best friends (my husband, me, and at least one other friend), my husband and I broke off the friendship–only to receive no attempts at all from Richard to reconcile.

No apologies, just the expectation that all apologies and changed behavior would come from me and me alone.  And, a couple of years later, the beginning of a year-long campaign of intimidation and stalking which continues to this day.

They just don’t want to face the fact that we broke off the friendship not because of me doing anything “wrong,” but because my husband and I both see them as abusive, histrionic, deceptive and manipulative.

Once I got out of the FOG during the process of writing about this, it was much easier to trace the lies and manipulations and put them all together, to recognize how they tried to gaslight me from the very beginning and still tried as recently as last year.

For them to admit that their own actions led to the breakup, would shatter their delusions and make them admit they behaved badly and wrongly.

I feel once again discarded with disgust by someone to whom I had opened up and shared my life story and secrets, to whom I told all the musings which my introverted mind usually keeps locked up for its own use.

I am quiet, shy, introverted, and have NVLD/Asperger tendencies.  Making friends has never been easy, finding dates was never easy, and for many years I’ve lived far away from family and the people I grew up with.

So while I have made many good friends over the years, some of whom I still keep up with, I have been through many periods of loneliness.

Outgoing people tell shy people to just “be more social” and “talk to people” as if it were something everyone can just do and if you’re not doing it you’re just being stubborn.  That isn’t the case at all.

Introverted brains work differently in social situations than extroverted brains do, and if shy people could just flick a switch and stop being shy, then they would never be shy in the first place.

When I open up to someone, and especially if I love him/her in some way, it’s because that person makes me feel safe emotionally.  My quietness ends as I begin pouring out my innermost thoughts in long letters/e-mails to that person, whether it’s a lover or a friend, male or female.  In person, the two of us can talk for hours.

When that person turns around and discards me with disgust, I feel that something about me is deeply unlovable, that the innermost thoughts people say they want to hear, must be bad somehow.  Then the next time, it’s even harder to open myself up to someone else, for fear that it will happen again.  I grow even quieter, even more reserved.

Extroverts and outgoing people should take note that these things do happen, that maybe that shy/quiet person is still like that because opening up to others keeps leading to pain and heartache.

This is why it’s been even harder after Richard’s discard of me, to move on to a new best friend.  The more pain you get from opening up to people, the harder it is to open up to someone new.  But I have opened up to three new people in the last year and a half, who have not discarded me.  I think I can trust them.

I need to focus on the ones who have not discarded me: My husband knows me intimately in every way, yet has not discarded me after 18 years.

My best friends from college are still there for me.  Mike still loves to hear from me.  Sharon still loves to visit me.  Catherine made it very clear on July 4 that she still loves me.

Old friends are still very kind on Facebook even though we have lived in separate states for many years.  Friends nearby with whom I lost touch, are there for me again.

I need to realize that the ones who discarded me, are abusive and probably narcissists as well.  That it is not a reflection on me, and does not make me unlovable in the least.  I just need to be more careful whom I care about.

You will find that you have changed during the course of the relationship with a narcissist. You will walk away completely far removed from the beautiful woman you were when you entered it.

You may have gone from soft, sweet and feminine to hardened and bitter. From trusting, open and receptive to suspicious and untrusting. From self-assured and confident to being full of self-doubt and insecurities.

It will take some hard work on your part to let this damaged part of you go and find your old self again.

A NARCISSIST HAS A CALLOUS DISREGARD – FOR YOU

For most of us breaking up with a narcissist can leave us feeling confused, devastated, and untrusting of all men in the future.

Usually, when a relationship ends both parties grieve some, both parties have regrets and both parties have done things that they feel remorseful for.

But not a narcissist! He walks away from you with a cold, callous disregard. He feels nothing.

……A narcissist can turn from loving you to discarding you almost abruptly as it took for him to ‘idolize’ you after his first meeting you. Uh, what was that? About one date would you say?…….

Truth is, you didn’t exist to the narcissist. He is so totally and completely self-centered to the point of his being the only person in his life – ever.

You simply were a temporary ego-boost. A narcissist supplier (an enforcer and validation of his self-love). His mirror.

You were taken in by his phony charm simply because you trusted men. And now you are left with doubts, insecurities, questions, and extreme hurt that one you cared for could so easily ‘dismiss you’ and then walk away completely unmoved and untouched by the experience.

You want him to hurt, too. To show sorrow. To feel remorse.

So that you can feel important again. Like you mattered.

But you didn’t. And it has nothing to do with you. He simply is unable to care for anyone other than himself, no matter whom they are.

And deep inside you know that you have just wasted years of your life on someone who is an empty fraud. It’s like you imagined everything; nothing was real.

He was a masterful actor when he was getting his ego fed; but now that he is not getting his narcissistic supply from you anymore he simply – and completely – has totally erased you from his life.

It is important to remember that narcissists are ‘plotters’ and he has been plotting the destruction of the relationship since the very first moment his charming, but fake persona met you.

Expect your world to fall apart whereas his world will remain unscathed – as will his emotions. OOPS, pardon me, I made a mistake! Make that “his ‘lack of’ emotions”.

Narcissistic men haven’t any empathy for others, and will never take any direct responsibility for any pain they may have caused. They will never acknowledge their wrongdoings, or apologize to you, because they truly believe themselves to be perfect.

They project all their faults and flaws onto you, accusing you of the very things that they, themselves, are guilty of.

In fact, throughout your entire relationship, you probably were lead to believe that you were the problem when in actuality it was their narcissism that was at fault. You have subconsciously learned to take his attacks personally, because he is so very good at manipulating the people around him….

Yet, the narcissistic ex continually acts in abusive, bewildering and confusing ways. He is not above committing destructive acts. When the breakup becomes a reality, it is likely that his ‘false persona’ will completely disappear all together and you will most likely experience the most hurtful of behavior from him.

He is completely lacking in empathy, and – since he is not receiving any admiration from you anymore – he will dismiss you and discard you as worthless to him, consequently dropping any fake front that he use to put up in order to keep you in the relationship. –SexandMiami’s How falling in love with a narcissist has changed me forever

The above quoted post applies in various ways to all my ex-relationships with probable narcs, both boyfriends and friends.

The same goes for friends. A Narc likes friends that are shiny and new. That are entertaining or amusing.

That are reliable, even though he won’t be reliable when they call for him, or if he is, it’s because he is trying to keep them staying loyal to him, not because he cares about them, but because of the benefits they bring to his life.

Also, the Narcissist will immediately size up his friends as either capable or incapable of dominating. The Narc is always aware of whether he is in the dominant or submissive role in his relationships and friendships.

This is instinct to the Narcissist, who understands only power, not love or empathy. –Comment in thread How are narcissists with their friends?

 

Yeah, don’t go around thinking everyone’s a Narcissist just because they’re putting their needs and wants above yours. So much of Narcissism occurs in the Narc’s own mind that it’s hard to pick them out.

Some clues: do they live a transient lifestyle, move from place to place, or from job to job? Do they dump friends a lot?

Do they think very highly of themselves without an objective reason to do so (i.e., do they think they’re smarter or more attractive than they are, or do they pride themselves in whatever ability they really do have to an unhealthy, egotistical extent)?

Do they have trouble getting close to people? Do they seem controlling or manipulative? Do they have trouble with boundaries being set between them and other people? Do they fear intimacy?

Do they start a new relationship by building the other person up and acting like they’re perfect, only to tear them down over time and then dump them? Do they get offended when you criticize them for even minor reasons? –Comment in thread How are narcissists with their friends?

Yep.  These last two quotes apply.

 

Why post abuse stories? (Was: Wondering if my blog stalkers will read about Phil now….)

The story of my abusive ex Phil is just about to begin in my College Memoir posts.  There is some more yet about Shawn, but the psychological abuse and sexual using by him has ended….

I knew Shawn had sorely used and abused me, but I had seen nothing yet.  Phil’s manipulations hit a whole new level with the lies he wove, even more lies than Peter told.

I know Peter lied about things like his opinions on smoking, making me believe we were meant for each other, saying he wanted to marry me, then later casting me aside and denying it, complaining to everyone about my “marriage talk.”

I can’t tell for sure if Peter really believed it when he told me he set up a mental link when he hypnotized me, and all the special psychic abilities his ninja training gave him.  He could have been fooling me, as Shawn thought, but he also could have believed it, being the sort of person who believes in such things.

But Phil deliberately fooled and manipulated me, taking advantage of my gullibility.  He took my interest in psychic and psychological subjects and–practically from the beginning–began elaborate ruses which climaxed in the summer of 1994, having made me believe that he acted out his dreams.

He told me we were married before God, kept reassuring me when I doubted, but when he lost interest and no longer needed my parents’ hospitality, he quickly discarded me and said we were never truly married.

I’m no psychologist, but he was probably a narcissist.  Phil is the reason I first got interested in researching abuse, in the 90s, because it took me many years to recover from all he had done.

The reason to post these stories: It’s a public service.  All these stories–of Peter, of Shawn, of Phil, of Richard and Tracy–are not just about expressing myself or venting, but about warning and validating others.

I’ve long since been freed of those abusive relationships, but others could still be going through one much like it.  Abuse victims need to know they’re not alone, and that this is not normal treatment, so they can escape it.

Abusers try to make you think the abuse is your fault.  Shawn would coerce and try to convince me to do what he wanted, tell me there was nothing wrong with it–then after I did it, blame me for giving in, make me feel dirty and cheap, talk like I was seducing him.

Phil kept blaming me for his abuse, telling me I had to have my own way, always had to be right–because I did not want him to sodomize me.

Tracy abused and bullied me and tried to make me believe it was all my fault, that she had every right to do it and I had no right to complain.  Richard went along with it.

Not only that, but he even called me “ridiculous” for being psychologically affected when a couple of his friends began sexually harassing me online.  The harassment triggered feelings I had long since forgotten, brought them back up, alive, so that a year later I was still being triggered.

I had been sexually harassed by guys in high school, and sexually abused by Phil–and now Richard was calling me ridiculous for equating those incidents with what his friends said and did to me, for remembering those incidents because of what his friends did, and begging him to stop mentioning those guys around me so it would stop triggering me!

Abuse victims need help to get out of the gaslighting fog.

Reading stories and articles like the ones I post, and discovering the names for what I went through–emotional abuse, abuse by proxy, engineering impossible situations, sexual abuse, and the like–helped me realize it wasn’t me.

I used to say Phil was “borderline abusive,” because I thought abuse was physical–though I did write in a letter to him that he abused his authority as a husband.

But reading in women’s magazines in the mid-90s about emotional and verbal abuse, is when I realized he truly was abusive.  I now understood why it spooked me one day in 1995 or 1996 to think I heard his voice at my workplace, even though he had never hit me.  (I believe I actually heard the boss’ son.)

My husband’s observations on Phil’s behavior, helped me see that no, it wasn’t just me, he truly had mistreated me.  My husband is the first one who told me that even though Phil did not hit or beat me, he did things that could qualify as physical or sexual abuse (forcing me into disgusting things I did not want to do).

When you think about it, I was “rescued” by Phil himself: He decided I was not submissive enough, that I was the problem, and left.  But for a long time, I felt that his leaving was the ultimate form of abuse.

Though my friends told me he was controlling and possessive, my eyes were not fully opened until after I stopped grieving the relationship, met my husband, and started doing research and writing about what happened.

In those days, the Internet existed but in a much smaller form, and we did not have computers capable of using it beyond e-mail.  I had access to the Net my senior year through my roommate Pearl’s computer and a modem, but it was limited to AOL.

That was 1994; I had no idea just what the Net was capable of.  The explosion of websites and blogs on abuse had not yet happened.  We didn’t have Google.  After leaving college, I did not have a computer capable of doing much on the Net.  All I had were occasional magazine articles to open my eyes.

But now, you can search the Web for information and stories about abuse.  You can immediately identify what you’re going through.  You can learn how to leave safely.  You don’t have to wait years until you happen upon an article, book or TV program defining what happened to you.