Category: introverts

I confront Richard with how he’s been treating me–so he stonewalls me and threatens to beat up my husband

On June 15, I wrote to my pastor friend Mike,

I finally got my friend [Richard] to talk to me [in Facebook chat].  I was waiting for him to ask what was wrong, since the last message I got from him made me think he’d yell at me if I brought it up again.  But I couldn’t stand waiting and wondering any longer….

I won’t go into boring details, but we talked. He apologized for hurting me [being so mean to me in his e-mail response when I had simply asked to talk with him about something that was bothering me], and we had a long discussion about what was bothering him, and how I felt about such things as what an apology is for.

Turns out his Facebook political messages are part of some political platform thing he’s doing.  For some reason, he made this seriousness part of his personal account, instead of making a separate, “professional” account to go with his position in the local Libertarian party.

AND he never told me.  I, naturally, assumed the same thing Jeff did: that whatever he posts on his personal account is fair game for anything anybody might want to say.

Agree, disagree, tease–as long as you’re not nasty, everything is fine.  Same as on anybody else’s Facebook account.  I find it very confusing and suggested he make a separate account for the political stuff, not go mixing it up like this.  But for some reason, he doesn’t want to.

Another problem is that he is very much the stereotypical guy in how he relates to women.  Jeff taught me that apologies are necessary and not an admission of wrongdoing.  My friend was taught that apologies should be made as little as possible.

And he also prefers bluntness and actually gets upset if somebody doesn’t use it.  He thinks it’s a bad approach, not “assertive.”

I prefer diplomacy, “I” expressions, not putting someone on the defensive, which IS assertive according to the reading I’ve done.  Not being assertive would mean either aggressiveness (treating people like crap to get your way) or passiveness (being a doormat and never saying what you want).

Jeff sometimes helps me with diplomacy, and I figure, he’s a guy so he should know how to talk to guys.  So I was amazed when my friend told me to stop being delicate and be blunt instead, even rude.  To talk to him even if he’s been nasty to me, hit him with a brick.

I just don’t understand why he thinks that’s better and my way is “wrong” or somehow annoying.

Anyway, our friendship is salvaged.  The other things are still annoying, however: the mansplaining, being “right” on pretty much every topic (not just politics), the stereotypical behaviors that make me sometimes wish he were a woman. 

And I don’t know what’s up with his wife.  Normally I get along just fine with wives, but this one is hard to get along with.  (Not just for me, either.  She has a history of not getting along with some of his friends.)

We see so much going on when we’re at their house lately, that I wonder what goes on when we’re not there.  My friend mentioned that when I tried to talk to him on Friday, he was tired of the drama going on in his own house and didn’t want to deal with any more.

I’ve seen so many of my friends get divorced in the past 10 years that I don’t just assume anymore that everything will turn out fine.

It certainly makes me glad to have the marriage I have.  My husband has flaws, but is not afraid to acknowledge them.  He doesn’t understand everything about women, but he knows how to deal with me pretty well. HE has no problem with diplomacy, and even encourages it.

And my son seems to be turning out okay, even though [contrary to Richard] I don’t believe that constant hard spanks or screaming is a good way to raise a child.

(As my mom said once, I shouldn’t be getting any more child rearing advice from Richard.  😛  Or marital, either, for that matter.)

Mike replied the next day,

What one says professionally speaks what they believe personally.  What one says politically speaks what they believe personally.

He knows that he gets more bang for his buck if he posts things on his personal account. On a professional account it would only be likeminded people reading his stuff.

By posting it on his personal page he gets to have people who disagree with him read his stuff too, which I am sure gives him some sort of thrill.  He wants you to become upset and comment on his postings.  It gives him a cheap thrill to know that he has gotten under your skin.

Being blunt is one thing, being rude is another.  Yes, there is a time for being blunt.  If I constantly were making sexist comments, or I was making rude comments about orthodox folks all the time, you might need to say, “Mike, I don’t appreciate it.  Please stop.” [Bolded because I used this approach in my e-mail to Richard later.]

I agree with you and Jeff though.  Assertiveness is speaking the truth with love.  It’s using I statements. Don’t assume that Jeff will know how to talk to guys….There are different species of men.  Jeff and I are one species….Another species is the kind who are aggressive and rude.

Richard told me his political friends were complaining about my posts.  This was ridiculous, because it’s a personal account, and I wish he would’ve stuck up for me instead of blaming me for something I had no way of knowing was a problem.

Making a separate page connected to your personal account is ridiculously easy and free to do, as I later found out when connecting a page to my Facebook for my books.  Yet he refused.

We seemed to have resolved the issues we had up until then, though I didn’t go into how Tracy had been treating me.

That night, I spent eyestrain-causing hours scouring my books and the Web on how women and men relate to each other. 

Most sites and books are annoyingly about love relationships, not friendships, so I had to wade through all the lovey-dovey stuff.  But I gleaned what I could.

On the 27th, after the events of this section, I wrote to Mike,

I keep feeling frustrated….Last night my friend wrote me e-mails that I found very distressing.

He used to be the one I turned to (other than Jeff) who could be the most comforting in times of trouble.  I started confiding all sorts of things in him, deep secrets, that sort of thing, believing he was safe, and hoping to help him understand me better.

But instead I find that he’s gotten these ideas in his head, opinions of me and my behaviors and opinions, which he refuses to deviate from no matter what I say.

Basically, he’s right in everything.  He’s right about politics, childrearing, the habits of introverts, life issues, etc. etc., and he won’t consider my opinions.

He greatly misjudges me in various things and what he wrote in his e-mails last night, was alarmingly OFF.

I spoke with Jeff about these issues, and he assures me that no, I’m not what my friend thinks I am.  I’m amazed because I’ve told Jeff most of the same things, along with many other things that have happened over the years, things which I never told my friend about–yet Jeff has a vastly different opinion of me.

After all the confiding I’ve done in my friend, I find this extremely disappointing and heartbreaking.

It’s hard to know what he’s thinking oftentimes because for whatever reason, he doesn’t respond to e-mails that often, and it’s often hard to get him on the phone.

I had been so looking forward to summer and having more time to call him and get our kids together to play, but now I just can’t bring myself to do it because I’m so disheartened….

He’s supposed to be studying psychology, on the way to becoming a priest.  But I feel he really needs to work on empathy if he’s going to do that.  😛

As you see above, Richard told me he didn’t like my diplomatic way of dealing with problems, that he didn’t want me sparing his feelings, that he wanted me to be blunt and “hit him with a brick.”

So when he sent me that e-mail about NVLD, equating it with Asperger’s, and accusing me of being a “victim,” I decided to honor his wishes and be blunt.  

On Sunday I wrote him an e-mail, and–using Mike’s recommended pattern above–told him I don’t appreciate it and to please stop.

I don’t remember exact wording because I later deleted the e-mail.

But I told him I put a lot of research into NVLD–researched it obsessively for many years, in fact–and to stop acting like he knew better than I did if I had it or not.

I said to stop telling me what to think,

judging me (because of the shy/quiet thing),

trying to change me (from being my own quiet self),

and scolding me for disagreeing with him on things (such as politics or NVLD or food choices).

The anger over these things had been building up for weeks as he kept yelling at me online even when I tried to bring up the problems we were having and how he was making me feel.

Since this was exactly what Richard told me to do, I thought for sure he would write back thanking me for finally “asserting” myself the way he wanted me to.  I thought he would be impressed and respect me. 

I know I felt released and relieved after sending this.

But even though he specifically told me to be blunt, he became furious at my bluntness. 

He denied trying to change me or judging me or calling me a victim or scolding me.  (What do you call saying “I want to strangle you for thinking you have NVLD”?)  

He said I had to get over my hurt feelings–essentially said I had to change my opinions of how he’d been acting–before talking to him again.

He sent an e-mail to Jeff about me “biting hard,” though he didn’t want to “dump” us “as friends,” nor did he want us to “dump” him “as friends.”

Since Richard brought him into this argument, Jeff responded that Richard himself had been “biting hard” of late, and he’d give examples if asked.

Richard responded with an e-mail, dated June 28, 2010, 12:22am, that sounded very much like a threat of assault, highlighted emphasis mine.  A policeman who reviewed it in May 2012, also said it sounded very threatening:

I typed this out three times now, and it would be best if you said to me nothing about your opinion.

I do not want to hit you with a brick the next time I see you, as for some reason I am racing with adrenaline right now like back when I worked for the INS and was ready to open fire on the lineup with rubber rounds.  

I am pumped and psyched out at the moment, ready to fight, verbally and physically.

I have to admit I have not felt this for years, and if could apply it to working out I just might get my metabolism back in line, which would be a good thing.

Problem is I get physically violent easily if triggered.

It’s no excuse and wrong, I admit.  Hence why it would be best if you not say anything.  I am going to jog this off right now.

Cheers!  Contact me this week, and let’s drop the subject.  I cleared it up with Nyssa already anyways.  But you already know.

He hadn’t been so angry in years as he was then?  That seemed ludicrous, considering all the things that happened to make him far angrier in those years than a friend disagreeing with him:

his wife smacking him around,

getting evicted,

wanting to kill the manager for evicting him,

the arguments with Todd.

It was scary.

It was hard to say if he was actually threatening Jeff, but it was scary that he would even think that–and that there were at least two earlier drafts which could’ve been even worse.

I mean, WHY?  What about what Jeff wrote, or what I wrote, could’ve provoked him so much?

Richard was incredibly unstable.  Todd also described him later as “unstable.” 

I already knew Richard had a temper problem, but up until now, he kept it in check around me.  Supposedly he was trying to “quell his passions” with the tools of Orthodoxy–but lately, it seemed that his temper and politics had become far more important to him than religion or friendship.

The past few months had shown an entirely different Richard: the old one, the pre-Orthodox one, the agnostic Goth, the Richard who called himself Rlyeh, the one I only heard about in Richard’s stories of his old life. 

I saw Rlyeh once before, maybe 2006, when he decided to stop being Mister Nice Guy and rip into some guys on the Forum, and changed his handle to Rlyeh–but then he turned back into the usual version of himself on the Forum.

However, by this point I had seen several of his online personas:

One, used on Orthodox forums, was pious and gentle.

One, used most often between 2005 and 2009, was middle-of-the-road, charismatic and charming, fun but occasionally biting, sometimes crass, Libertarian, Orthodox, the one I was taken with, the one who seemed larger than life across the Net.

One was a game persona, leader of a certain alliance, of which I was part.

One was purely political, the TEA Partier.

Now in real life he had turned into Rlyeh, the psychopath.

What is this, multiple personalities?  Now Richard was Sybil, too?

The narcissist acts unpredictably, capriciously, inconsistently and irrationally. This serves to demolish in others their carefully crafted worldview. They become dependent upon the next twist and turn of the narcissist, his inexplicable whims, his outbursts, denial, or smiles.

In other words: the narcissist makes sure that HE is the only stable entity in the lives of others – by shattering the rest of their world through his seemingly insane behaviour. He guarantees his presence in their lives – by destabilising them.

In the absence of a self, there are no likes or dislikes, preferences, predictable behaviour or characteristics. It is not possible to know the narcissist. There is no one there.

The narcissist was conditioned – from an early age of abuse and trauma – to expect the unexpected. His was a world in which (sometimes sadistic) capricious caretakers and peers often behaved arbitrarily. He was trained to deny his True Self and nurture a False one.

Having invented himself, the narcissist sees no problem in re-inventing that which he designed in the first place. The narcissist is his own creator.

Hence his grandiosity.

Moreover, the narcissist is a man for all seasons, forever adaptable, constantly imitating and emulating, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a chameleon, a non-entity that is, at the same time, all entities combined.

The narcissist is best described by Heidegger’s phrase: “Being and Nothingness”. Into this reflective vacuum, this sucking black hole, the narcissist attracts the Sources of his Narcissistic Supply.

To an observer, the narcissist appears to be fractured or discontinuous.

Pathological narcissism has been compared to the Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly the Multiple Personality Disorder).

By definition, the narcissist has at least two selves, the True and False ones. His personality is very primitive and disorganised.

Living with a narcissist is a nauseating experience not only because of what he is – but because of what he is NOT. He is not a fully formed human – but a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic gallery of ephemeral images, which melt into each other seamlessly. It is incredibly disorienting. —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

 

Time to scapegoat me into thinking I’m the problem–and I realize my “BFF” is a fraud

On April 29, 2010, I read in Annie’s Mailbox,

Dear Annie: I’m a 14-year-old girl, and in my group of friends, there is one girl who never talks. “Nicole” sits at our lunch table because she has nowhere else to go.

The problem is, when we don’t invite her to our outings, she starts to cry. We don’t like including her because she’s no fun. I don’t know what to do.

We’ve confronted her many times and suggested many solutions, but she always uses the excuse that she’s shy. I’m — Out of Ideas

This letter burned me up.  It reminded me not just of growing up quiet, shy and introverted, but of being a quiet and shy adult, with people thinking all you have to do is talk more so why don’t you talk more?

The girl who wrote this letter was like so many girls I knew in school.  I wanted to give support to that quiet girl, and tell the world what it’s really like to be like us introverts.

My Facebook was also full of old classmates who I don’t think were mean to me, but probably didn’t understand my quietness.  So on May 4, 2010, I posted on my Facebook,

When I read the letter “Out of Ideas” the other day, I knew how the quiet girl felt, and was so upset I wanted to speak out on her behalf. So I sent this to Annie’s Mailbox:

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if, next year when the lunch schedules change, this quiet girl will be happy to switch tables to a more welcoming and accepting group, and wonder why she stayed with this one for so long.

I’m willing to bet she actually is an interesting person, but these girls never let her get a word in edgewise, and when she does think of something to say, somebody scolds her for not talking enough and she keeps her mouth shut instead.

All that pestering about her not “behaving” properly, saying her shyness is just an “excuse,” and constantly excluding her from fun activities, is probably making her feel like a freak and pushing her further and further into her shell.

The way to draw out a shy person is to ask for her opinion on a subject, maybe make a compliment or two, because maybe she just hasn’t been able to push into the conversation before the topic changed.

Another way is to have some one-on-one time with her, give her a chance to talk. If she’s included in activities, she may surprise them with being a fun person after all.

There is something called “social mutism.” I don’t like the term because it, once again, makes a quiet person feel like there’s something “wrong” with her, instead of just accepting that she has a different idea of when it’s time to speak.

Still, research done into social mutism has shown that pestering and scolding a quiet person is counterproductive. This person needs to feel safe enough to open up, or it just isn’t going to happen.

Also, the extrovert brain has also been shown to work differently in social situations than an introvert brain: The extrovert can easily make small talk, while the introvert simply cannot keep up.

The quiet person may actually despise small talk, but if allowed to mull over an issue, can come up with something brilliant to say. Is quantity really more important than quality?

–A Quiet Person With Lots to Say

On June 25, I posted on Facebook (NVLD=NLD):

I found this on an NLD (non-verbal learning disorder) support forum. It was posted by a parent of an NLDer as an example of what you can give teachers to help them understand your child. I think it’s so awesome, that I’m reposting here.

Much of it sounds so familiar. I wish I could’ve had something like this when I was in school, but nobody ever heard of NLD back then, so I was just the “weird” one that everybody misunderstood.

Two teachers, especially, were very hard on me, and I could never understand why because I was doing the best I could.

Several years ago, I found papers from junior high that reminded me just how much trouble I had in school. I was supposedly smart, but my best efforts resulted in sometimes mean-spirited teacher comments scrawled all over my papers. Whatever the reason why I didn’t number my paper properly, oh French teacher, it certainly wasn’t to tick you off.

There’s another thing I could’ve added, because people in college kept saying I wasn’t assertive, and I couldn’t figure out what the heck they were talking about. The only thing I can think of, is that they mistook my rule-driven inner code of how to treat people nicely and properly, as a lack of assertiveness.

But here is the post, with name removed:

• *** is a bright student, but his slow processing speed means that, at times, he can become overloaded with new material, and appear not to be retaining it. We have yet to find anything that *** has not been able to learn given enough time and a supportive environment. He may take a little longer to grasp something, but once he learns it, he won’t forget!

• *** does not handle novel situations or material well. This manifests as an extreme reduction in his processing speed, and rigidity of thought that can appear to be “oppositional”. Since, by nature, much of what goes on in a teaching environment is the introduction of novel material, this can crop up again and again during the school year, not just at the beginning of the year. ***’s speed increases when material becomes more familiar.

• People with NLD often have problems with both judging time, and with visual/spatial tasks. Don’t be surprised if *** has trouble getting to the right class at the right time for the first few weeks of school. Please be patient with him, this will improve!

• *** is EXTREMELY literal, honest and rule driven. Sometimes things that are said in a joking manner are taken very seriously by him. Try to avoid saying things in jest that you don’t really mean. He often doesn’t “get” sarcasm and often will miss double meanings.

• Please watch for other students taking advantage of him, because he often does not realize it himself. Even if he does, he often doesn’t know how to deal with it. This has become a particular problem since he has become more interested in the “social scene” in the last 6 months.

• If something *** says appears to be a “wise crack” type response, think carefully about his response. Often you will find that it is simply a too-honest literal reply to the question asked. Other times, he may copy something he heard elsewhere, but doesn’t understand that it is inappropriate. We’ve found that if he is told that the response is inappropriate, and is given a better alternative, is he usually quick to comply.

• If *** is being argumentative, it may be that something in the conversation has been misinterpreted. Most arguments with him stem from a basic miscommunication, but he will sometimes become really rigid and “stuck”. In these cases, it’s usually best to just disengage and approach the subject a different way at a later time. If necessary, call in someone who knows him well and whom he trusts to talk through the problem.

• Assignments that include the wording “Choose your favorite” or “What do you like least” will almost always result in *** becoming stuck. Try to word things as “Choose something you liked” or “Name one thing you didn’t like”

• *** is a very hard worker, and avoidance behaviors are a sign that something is very, very difficult for him. He is rarely able to verbalize or even identify what these difficulties are, and we adults have to work together to figure it out for him.

• Many times, even with us, the misunderstanding at the root of a problem with *** is only clear in hindsight. Flexibility and humor are the best tools in dealing with these misunderstandings.

PLEASE feel free to call us any time you feel that you are having trouble.

But now, after all the things I confided in Richard over the years, all my trust in him with my innermost thoughts–

After I posted the above Facebook post, that evening he sent me e-mails talking about the NVLD suspicion as if it were somehow making me a “victim.”  (Do you accuse a blind person of playing the victim because they can’t see?)

He said he always had wanted to “strangle” me for still believing in it.

Apparently I should’ve bowed to his superior knowledge and wisdom back in 2007 when he laughed it off, because after some phone conversations, of course he knew far better than I did if I had struggled all my life with undiagnosed NVLD.

And apparently shaking it off would somehow make me more talkative so Tracy would be pleased.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as I was quiet long before I even heard of NVLD/NLD or Asperger’s.

Rather, discovering NLD in 2000 has meant discovering that I’m not a freak after all, that there are reasons why I have trouble driving, or crossing a busy street, or dealing with an automatic car wash, or talking to people, or knowing instinctively how to handle myself in new social situations like other people seem to do.

It explained why my college “friend” Shawn had so many criticisms of me that didn’t seem to fit or make sense.

It’s empowering to discover that you are not stupid because you don’t understand volleyball.

Discarding the NLD as a possibility would mean taking back on that lead cape of feeling like a stupid idiot and freak because of the problems I had dealing with life.

But apparently I was supposed to abandon all the research I had done into NVLD since 2000–

–obsessive research involving probably hundreds of hours, printed-up websites, books, surveys, and spending time on NVLD forums discovering my stories are like those of so many others with NVLD–

–because Richard said it was wrong.  Or else he would want to “strangle” me.  Such violent wording because I preferred to make up my own mind instead of listening to an arrogant know-it-all.

But for Richard to talk as if I were being a “victim” made me think back over all the things I’d ever confided in him, and wonder my gosh, what the heck did he actually think of me for these things?

I felt like he was judging me for not being an outgoing extrovert like him.  I felt like I couldn’t trust him anymore.

Why did he think I didn’t have NVLD and say he wanted to strangle me for continuing to think it and I was making myself a victim?

Because he read in a textbook that it was the same as Asperger’s and he didn’t see any autistic traits in me.

Um, no, while some do think it’s the same thing, there are many differences between Asperger’s and NVLD–autistic traits being one of the major ones.  NVLD is not the same as autism, is closer to Asperger’s than to High-Functioning Autism, and whether even Asperger’s is autistic, is debated:

It is a common mis-belief that individuals with AS are autistic–they are not. AS is a separate disorder and NOT just a form of higher functioning autism (as you will often hear). The deficit in social relationships in AS differ significantly from autism, as does the basis of the language disorder.

You can have both at the same time, with the Asperger’s diagnosis trumping the NLD diagnosis.  But if you have NLD traits and don’t fit Asperger’s, you’re NLD.  (An informative discussion on this very controversy is here.)

Here is an article by a director of neuropsychology which explains the many differences between NVLD and Asperger’s.  Also, from Byron Rourke:

Final Note. Many students of AS and NLD seem to think that they are one and the same. Of course, they are not. Reflections on the relevant sections above and the NLD and Neurological Disease section will show this assertion of identity to be absurd.

So Richard’s claim that he would not diagnose me NVLD because I don’t have autistic traits, was based on a faulty premise.

And I know far better than Richard does what goes on in my head and how difficult social situations actually are, even more so than for a typical introvert.

I felt incessantly badgered by him over the past two years about this, badgered for being shy, badgered for not having the social skills he had, badgered for not thinking the same way he did on this and many other things.  

Rather than assume my social problems were well-meant errors, Tracy would assume they were done on purpose to hurt her. 

Then Richard would scold and, as the one who knew “better” about socializing, lecture me, and say how could I not know these things when even children knew this?  This, by the way, is not the way to get an NLDer to behave the way you think is more socially acceptable.

In fact, the more I learn about NLD, add things to my NVLD page, and participate in NLD support forums, the more convinced I am that I have correctly identified this in myself: a mild or moderate form, but still there nonetheless.

The more I learn about NLD, the more I see things that could have contributed to my difficulties with understanding Tracy and her mysterious, always-changing rules:

  • Were there things I would’ve been able to figure out if I were better able to generalize?
  • Was it the fact that I only considered those things restricted that Richard actually told me were restricted, and didn’t apply it to other things as well?

Or was she crazy-making as an abusive person often does, so that even a neurotypical person would have had trouble with her?

It’s impossible for me to tell, to be honest, because I can see either possibility, especially since I’m not the only person she’s had problems with, or the only person whose friendship with Richard has been ended because of difficulties with her–and they can’t all have NLD.

But I did inform Richard of the NLD, so I did my part in helping them understand me.

(Jeff was told that it would actually be dangerous to mention a learning disability to Tracy because her mother had blamed her own abuses on something she had.  So even though I never abused Tracy, I never mentioned the NLD to her.  But she apparently found out about it somehow, since she ripped on me for it on 7/1/10.  But I did tell Richard what I needed from Tracy to open up.)

If they had taken my concerns seriously, my identifying it as NLD, and my requests for how to deal with it properly, this whole situation could have had a very different outcome.

Also, whether my quietness was due to selective mutism or NVLD or Aspergers–

–or if it’s just that so many extroverts told me over the years that I’m behaving badly by being myself, and made me feel like a freak for being quiet, when it was actually just natural introversion–

–I was not being a “victim” just because I don’t behave the same way as extroverts in social situations.

Scientific studies (easily found through Google) have shown that introverted brains actually differ from extroverted brains.

We don’t speak so much because we have to think before we speak, while extroverts speak to find out what they’re thinking.

We need to listen to what’s being said, then go through our long-term memories for knowledge and experience about the topic.  By the time we’ve done this, the extroverts have changed the topic.

We despise small talk because it’s empty and meaningless and our brain doesn’t start giving us things to say.  If the conversation is in-depth and interesting, then we attend and can speak just as much as anybody else.

So extroverts telling us to “try harder” is actually a form of bullying, because “trying harder” will make no difference whatsoever.

It is impossible to change an introvert into an extrovert, because it’s a fundamental part of who we are, just as much as gender, and cannot be changed, in fact will cause all sorts of frustration to try to change.

We need to accept ourselves as introverts, and extroverts need to accept us as introverts and stop getting upset with us for not being like them!

The world needs both our “kinds,” because extroverts are the doers and introverts are the thinkers.

Everything I read on scientific studies into introversion tells me that my behavior was perfectly normal for an introvert, and that Richard and Tracy trying to force me into extroverted behavior to please Tracy, was a very bad idea, doomed to failure–and without me having to be “stubborn” or “hating” Tracy.

I was truly tired of being scolded or lectured for not measuring up.

I got too much of that from Shawn, that college “friend” who criticized everything about me,

lectured me on how I should be more social/talk more/talk to strangers,

took away the measure of self-confidence I had gained at college from my friends,

and made me feel like a social freak who didn’t dress right or act right or do her hair right or wear makeup.

He apparently saw me as freakish because I didn’t act like a goofy college kid, like I wasn’t worth being his girlfriend because of this.

Then my ex Phil’s friend Dirk talked to me in a similar fashion later on, telling me I’d end up an old maid because I didn’t do the things other girls did “instinctively.”

In my adult life, I got sick of people giving me social advice I had not asked for, such as one person who cornered me and said I should be more “lively,” the random people who said “Smile!” when I did not feel like it, and the constant “you’re so quiet!” remark rather than trying to draw me into the conversation.

I got so sick of it that I wrote an essay about it for the SCA, which was published in a newsletter.

Now here I was getting more of it from Richard, who wondered why I got mad at him for it, and being treated like a creep by Tracy because I wasn’t the kind of person they were used to dealing with in their former social circles back in their old region.

Richard told Jeff that I asked him how to be more social.  But I never did, and can tell you this is nothing I ever would’ve done, not after how frustrated and annoyed I had been over the past 20 years at all the people telling me how to be more social!

“Mutism not only hijacks our words but also our ability to think.  To use the ‘needle on the record’ analogy, the needle gets stuck on the same unpleasant lyric, and we can’t shake it free to move on to the next line.” —Aspergirls by Rudy Simone

Above all, “we hate people telling us how we can be more extraverted, as if that’s the desired state,” says Beth Buelow, a life and leadership coach for introverts. Many introverts are happy with the way they are. And if you’re not, that’s your problem. –Laurie Helgoe Ph.D., Revenge of the Introvert

Do you ever wish you were an extrovert?

Not really. That may be because my “faking it” skills are pretty good.

But I do think a lot of us are tired of being told that there’s something wrong with us–of this lazy assumption that if you’re not an extrovert, there’s something wrong with you.

I think my article may speak to people in part because of its defiant message. It says, “No, I don’t wish to be an extrovert. Not everyone has to be one. And why don’t you people get it?” –page on Introversion

Richard acted like he knew better than I did what was going on in my head.  He became very short and cutting with me, when he used to be kind.

This was the weekend; I was going to go to a water park at the local fairgrounds with Jeff and my son, but Richard’s e-mails made me so upset that it affected me physically, so I couldn’t go.

They made me feel I had put my trust in the wrong person.  

After all the private things I confided in him, all the trust and love and concern I had shown toward him over the years, I now regretted ever telling him anything about myself at all!  

I wondered if the many things I confided in him, hoping he would understand me better, had instead made him think I was a freak.  

I lost my trust in him.  I no longer felt he had my best interests at heart.  I had no idea who else to turn to, but it sure didn’t seem like I could turn to him anymore.

In fact, when I ponder these things, and see more evidence that his other BFF Chris, while a nice guy, is clinically paranoid–I realize:

At first Richard idealized me, called me the most awesome person he knew, and made me feel like his BFF, and like he wanted to spend time with me more than with any of his other friends.

But now Chris seemed to have taken over that role, and I couldn’t help a twinge of jealousy that Richard never seemed to have time for me, but had plenty of time for Chris.

So he valued the guy with the crazy paranoid political rantings more than he did me, the sane one who helped him out financially and emotionally during very difficult times.

And he was married to someone showing all the signs of Borderline, Narcissistic or some other personality disorder.  

And his longtime ex also showed signs of BPD.

So–okay–apparently Richard prefers the company of personality disordered people. 

And then he and/or Tracy calls me crazy–yeah, that’s so ironic and ludicrous as to be hilarious.

Yet he kept criticizing everything about me, practically accusing me of stalking all my friends because I like to keep all my e-mails and letters to and from them, treating me like I was somehow clingy because I wanted him to have enough consideration of me to either keep to his appointments with me, or let me know right away when he couldn’t.

He felt my nutritional choices were open to his critique.

He treated me like a prude for not wanting to go around nude in my house, or for not wearing my nightgown around him without a robe.

He called me a prude because I don’t like sex-soaked TV shows like Sex and the City, or gory movies like zombie movies or Alien.  He even made it somehow personally offensive and inconvenient for him, because if he wanted to show me an exceptionally good movie like that, he couldn’t.  (So?  Show me something else, then!)

He talked like Jeff and I were prudes for our lack of sexual experience before each other, compared to his own extensive experience.

In the beginning he love-bombed me and treated me like I was wonderful, but now he kept criticizing me for things that were none of his friggin’ business.

One of his friends is a creep, but when this friend sexually harasses me, Richard makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me for being upset about it and considering this guy a creep.

I find conspiracy theories about government wanting to control us, to be a bunch of paranoid crap, so I’m the sheeple, the one who doesn’t care about personal liberties, who isn’t worth talking to about politics.  Okay….Sounds like the lunatics running the asylum.

Same thing with Tracy, who in her own way–considering how she accused people of insulting her, lacking respect for her, and needing to grow up, while she herself was doing the insulting and raging, lacked respect for them, and needed to grow up–is the lunatic running the asylum.

Shows me just how much stock I should put in the opinions and criticisms of both Richard and Tracy.

As I described here and here, I was a lonely person who thought I finally found the Frodo for my Sam.  We had bonded; we were a mutual admiration society; he was my brother, my friend, my BFF.

I loved him with pure philia and agape.

I trusted him with my deepest, darkest secrets, saw him as my spiritual mentor, leading me into Orthodoxy and helping me all along the way.

I saw him as the most awesome person I knew, and he once said the same to me.  I saw him as pious and loving.

We’d been close friends for five years; he was interesting; my life seemed more exciting with him in it.

When I wondered around April 1 if he was really still my friend or not, he reassured me that he loved me like a sister, and often wanted to come visit me–but kept falling asleep instead.

And now…

it began to dawn on me…

IT WAS ALL A LIE!

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

 

E-mails proving my innocence, that Tracy lied in July/August 2010, that I respected boundaries, and that I asked for a “signal”

To provide some context for the following for latecomers:

(You can also read here.)

In my circles, ever since I left college, whether computer geeks or SCA or D&D or work or some of my college friends, it has always been considered perfectly normal and acceptable for even married people to flirt playfully and innocently, sometimes even shamelessly.  It’s okay with my husband, okay with me.

Richard, too, is a shameless flirt, saying naughty things not just to other women but to other men!  He also is a touchy-feely type who is free with his playful or affectionate gestures.

I have other friends, male and female, who are also free with their affectionate gestures to friends.  But always you know that it is only platonic affection, or playful flirting, and that it will never, ever cross over to infidelity.

I just wanted to join in on the fun my more extroverted friends have, who are so free with their shows of affection for friends.  Infidelity, on the other hand, I find disgusting.  The two are not at all the same.

Also, my flirtatious friends have tried to get me to open up with hugs and other gestures of affection and flirting, because of my Asperger-like reserve.

I see nothing wrong with what they do, and I don’t like being the odd one out, where it seems cold, lonely and boring.  So I have slowly learned to go along with them, and have been getting more open with them.

I have also described here how Richard also tried to get me to open up in this way, how he taught me that Americans are too uptight, and that it’s perfectly fine and appropriate for friends to do these things.

I basically followed his lead, but more awkwardly because people with social disorders like Asperger’s or NVLD can find it hard to naturally imitate what other people do:

The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. —Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome

Now, as my husband explained it, people see me as sweet and innocent.  It must be because I’m so quiet and religious.  The sweet image does not amaze me, but the “innocence” does, because I’m no virgin: I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years and have a wicked sense of humor.  People don’t realize that my quiet demeanor hides an active inner life.

Ever since college, I have occasionally shocked people with what I say.  Online and with people I feel comfortable with, I say such things more easily.  I used to have all sorts of wicked fun with my BBS friends in online chats, before BBS’s went the way of the dodo.

But it is just being playful, and the normal response is to laugh in amazement and appreciation that my sweet little head could come up with something like that.  Such as, one day on Facebook when a friend asked, referring to a song lyric, Why DO virgins taste better than those who are not?

(The song is about dragons and why do they always want virgins sacrificed to them.)  I wrote, “It’s the cherry flavor.”  I thought it was bleedingly obvious, but even my husband was shocked and amazed at that one.

Anyway, normally I could say or do something playful and Richard would laugh, but sometimes he’d act shocked, like I’d done something wrong.  Or sometime later, I would hear Tracy was upset.  Or I’d make some silly joke in a chat and couldn’t tell if Tracy was truly mad about it, or just playing around.  Or I couldn’t tell if I’d done something wrong or if he hadn’t even noticed.

Now that I’ve learned about narcissists, I believe he and Tracy were crazymaking me, because it is a common tactic of narcs and abusers to confuse you by being okay with something one day, even loving it, and another day treating it like a terrible offense, to keep you off-balance.

But it made me nervous and paranoid, especially since I never could tell if I was upsetting Tracy or if she was just joking, or, oftentimes, what she was upset about, or with whom.  This was also a small part of the discussions we had in June 2009.

Because of the NVLD, I couldn’t figure out subtle nonverbal communication, which is part of the reason why I needed verbal help where others can just know naturally what to do.  This was unfamiliar territory for an introverted NVLDer.

So I wrote the following, hoping to get Richard’s direct–kind, but direct–verbal communication if I crossed a line somewhere in my humor and trying to be playful like my extroverted friends.

The following e-mails prove that Tracy’s accusations of me on July 1, 2010 were all completely false, because I was her friend, I did respect boundaries, I was trying to please her and Richard, and all the playful gestures/going for coffee with Richard/etc. were okay with her. 

Part of the proof is that here I asked for a signal that she was okay with these things, and I later got the signal:

On July 31, 2009, I wrote to Richard on Facebook,

You don’t need to respond to this unless you want to. I just wanted to get out in the open how I’ve been feeling.

Tracy has responded favorably [to my request for a movie night], just needs some more recovery time [from childbirth]. I have high hopes that watching a movie or two will lead to conversation (probably about girl stuff and giggling over you husbands) and everything between us will be completely healed.

You probably have no idea how I’ve looked over old [forum] threads or remembered old conversations I had with her, or remembered the chocolate dainties and veggie stir fry she cooked for us all, and how I liked her, and cried inside my heart at how things ended up. You can tell her so if you like.

Now, if some gesture meant as sisterly (or cousinly) affection, or some light flirty thing, is taken badly or you don’t like it, please tell me directly!

I’ve just been so sick over the thought that things that meant so much to me, that I have often remembered fondly, have been the cause of so much trouble that I didn’t even know about. It makes me feel, well, squicky.

Jeff does know about them, BTW, and he seems okay with them.

I’m not going to be the one to ask her if sisterly gestures /going out for coffee/ and the other stuff–is okay, because it makes me really uncomfortable.

If/when Tracy’s okay with it, just ask me to go get some ice cream or something, and that will be the sign to me that everything is okay now.

Especially if you suddenly start responding favorably to my hugs on IRC [online chats] instead of screaming and dying (though I think I’d freak out if you started doing the kind of stuff you do to [female on IRC channel, whom he posted he was “sexing”] and the guys in [the IRC channel, whom he also flirted heavily with]; that’s a bit much for me).

I’ll stop feeling squicky over the past, and we won’t have to say one word more about a thing. And any paranoia I have displayed in the past will probably melt away as well.

In the meantime, if you really want to go out for coffee with somebody so badly, why not ask Jeff?  [He had told me, “I really want to go out for coffee!”]

Richard’s reply on 8/1/09:

I thought you were the one who wanted to go out sometime?

And my jokes about melting and dying were upsetting you? I am dense.

She knows about the hugs and whatnot. its all good. The asleep on the shoulder bothers her though. I respect that, as she sees that as a wife/husband thing and relative thing, not a friend thing. We are all wired our own way and I respect that.

But its all good.

My reply on 8/1:

1) Well, yes, I do want to, very much so, but you made it sound like you were dying to go out with somebody, *anybody*. So I suggested Jeff, your pookymunch.  😛 [inside joke]

2) Yes, I’ll hug you and such on IRC and you’ll just sit there or scream, when I was hoping for a bearhug back, etc. You know, signs that despite everything that’s gone on, our friendship is intact. It’s so hard for me to read people at times that words help a lot.

3) The “whatnots” are okay, too? Cool. (Especially since you know I won’t go too far with whatnots. 🙂 Just not that kinda girl….)

I just thought–From what you said, it sounded like she’d be okay with, say, [another friend] doing it [asleep on shoulder], and even join in a cuddle party.

I’ve read about people snuggling with their best buds while watching a movie, and it sounds like such a nice thing, especially since my relatives never did that sort of thing and I guess it left me far more reserved than is healthy.

My roommie Sharon tried to do that with my apartment-mate Tara whenever they were on the couch together, but Tara would cry out and move away, and Sharon would giggle.

Catherine is so free with stuff like that, that I envy her being able to flit around and do whatever she likes. One day she said that she’s been trying for years to get me to loosen up. LOL (She even kissed me on the cheek after we got back from a movie once, and called it our “date.”)

After you explained you do this with your family, I thought, oh, it’s all perfectly innocent and okay. So it makes me feel awful (and squicky) that it all blew up in our faces later. I feel just terrible that your wife keeps bringing it up.

It’s been dogging my thoughts for the past month or so, coming up when I am, say, just sitting around chatting with church members, and then I start feeling like a terrible person who has done terrible things and if these people only knew!–But I don’t want to keep feeling squicky about it. We stopped, after all, and won’t start again without her okay.

His reply 8/2:

No worries, Nyssa.

After these conversations in June 2009, I thought all our problems were over with, that it had all been resolved, that Tracy had calmed down and they had stopped judging me for being quiet and introverted.  I thought this was all part of the past, and worked to leave it there.

I had been sick of the subject for years; actually, it was Tracy who kept the issue alive, when I kept thinking it was resolved, but hopefully now it would be resolved for real.

Note that above, I asked him for a sign when Tracy was finally okay with me and all her restrictions on me were dropped and we could do everything he could do with his other friends (such as these sisterly gestures, going out for coffee/ice cream, etc. etc.).

Then one night, maybe December 2009, Richard and I were chatting online.  He said, hey, let’s go get sushi!  But it was about midnight and hardly the time for it.

This was the “signal” I asked for in the above e-mails!  Tracy was fine with me, considered me her friend, had dropped all the restrictions on me, now allowed me to do everything his other friends could do with him! 

I wrote that I couldn’t go out for sushi this time of night, but let me know when you want to go out for sushi.  He seemed to forget about it the next day, but I figured he was just on hard times again and couldn’t pay for it.  So I reminded him a few months later to let me know when.

Then I saw Tracy hit her youngest child in the head right in front of me, and began hearing her verbally abuse everyone again; I asked Jeff how much more of that I could take; troubles began stirring again.

As if these e-mails never existed, as if these conversations never happened, Tracy would once again claim, in July 2010, that she never “okayed” me as Richard’s friend or considered me her friend or allowed me to do everything Richard’s other friends could do with him. 

She accused me of not understanding boundaries. 

But these e-mails prove her the liar.  I have it all in writing that she “knows about the hugs and the whatnot” and “it’s all good.”

Neurotypicals (people who do not have Asperger’s, NVLD or anything else) are hard enough to figure out when they’re basically nice, pleasant people.

Throughout my life, at times I’ve wanted to scream at how confusing people can be, or how they don’t understand me, or how I don’t understand what I’m expected to do or not do when they do the very same things I’m trying to do, but they don’t get yelled at or get funny looks.

Many times in my childhood I preferred to lock myself away at home or in my room, where I didn’t have to deal with people.

But when they are narcissists/abusers, and are trying to make you think you’re crazy so you don’t realize they are abusers, it’s far worse.

And Tracy had reason to make me think I was crazy: because I witnessed her abuse of her husband and children.

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

 

Revealing e-mails I drafted to Richard: proving I felt abused and bullied, and witnessed abuse

I wrote these drafts of an e-mail to Richard, after the phone conversation I describe above, which was not quite finished–and left me with all sorts of complaints:

You said you’d talk to Tracy….Did it do any good?

It’s ripping me apart inside but it feels like the efforts I have made have been forgotten, the nice things I did for her and little things I said here and there and conversations I had with her….

I was hurt deeply by many things that happened, but for your sake I tried my hardest to get past them and forget them.

It hurts not only that these things have been forgotten but also that you seemed to believe so many bad things about me, too, or think anything she did to me was in any way justified.  I thought you knew me better than that.

I KNEW something was up but you kept insisting I was just paranoid.  I have lost so many hours and so much sleep to this issue.

Nothing I do is ever good enough.  I am not this evil person she seems to think I am.  I would never snub her.  I would never manipulate Jeff into anything.

To be honest, I haven’t cared about “going for coffee” or “going to the Bar & Grill” or whatever the point of contention is, for some time.

I care only about being trusted and not fearing my head’ll get bitten off.  I don’t think it’ll ever get better.

You seem to have forgotten various details which will put that overheard conversation into perspective.  Especially if you think you were working too hard to “keep the peace.”

I’m not sure you’re aware of all the abusive behavior I’d been witnessing for some time before I had that conversation [with Jeff]. My primary concern was not myself but how you and the girls were being treated. Also, I felt like the abuse was beginning to get directed toward me, and I had no clue where that was coming from.

I think you’ve also forgotten the series of letters I used to try to talk things out with you, because I wasn’t allowed to talk with you one-on-one.  

It wasn’t about going out for coffee, it was about not being allowed to discuss important things with you in private.  It was about feeling cut off and forgotten, like my best friend had been taken away from me.

Jeff was well aware of all of this; he had already comforted me as I sobbed over how it felt like I was being pushed aside.

[On the day I spoke to Jeff about everything and Tracy overheard] It wasn’t me manipulating him into it; I merely told him what was going on and how I felt;

[Jeff’s suggestion to show Tracy a movie so I could watch a movie with Richard for once] was his fix-it response to a problem [and he had already done this a few times before we had this conversation].

He never would’ve done it if he thought it was some sort of manipulation to get a man alone with his wife [for nefarious purposes]–are you kidding?

[This shows how I was guilted and manipulated as my/Jeff’s actions were twisted way out of proportion into the worst possible interpretations–same as they did to Todd in 2008.] 

He trusted us both enough to leave us alone for long periods of time.  He did it deliberately.  He was happy I had found a friend.

As for the shoulder thing–You and I had those conversations already [Richard had started the practice and taught me it was perfectly innocent and appropriate];

we both knew it was completely innocent; we had established firm boundaries of what was and was not acceptable.

And–“don’t know you”?  She’d been living in my house for a few weeks already!  I was no stranger!

[He told me that she got upset over the “shoulder thing” because she didn’t know me, but that if a certain other friend did it, Tracy would think it was cute, and join in.

It was also distressing to hear about this yet again, because I hadn’t done it since January 2008, because it upset her so much.  Yet it kept getting brought up over and over and over!]

I KNEW things weren’t quite right.  I got worried when you didn’t call me [whenever he promised to].  I thought a number of things: You were being yelled at, you thought I was acting weird….

You told me I was just being paranoid…told me you were trying to find the right time is all….Now come to find you were getting yelled at because it was “THAT woman”….Like I was the one with the problem.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  Jeff says he would’ve ended the friendship a long time ago, that he would have exploded by now.

In later drafts:

I worked hard to remember details and put that overheard conversation into perspective.

My primary concern was how you and the girls were being treated.  I had already witnessed various incidents of abuse.  I felt like I was now being abused and did not deserve it.

I already felt cut off and forgotten, like my best friend was pushing me aside.  Now I felt my best friend was being taken away from me for no good reason.

Jeff was already aware of this.  I wasn’t manipulating him into anything; I merely told him what was going on and how I felt; it was his fix-it response to a problem.

Do you think for a moment he would’ve done it if he thought we were going to do something we shouldn’t?

Do you think for a moment he would’ve done what he did without the best of intentions?  He wanted to befriend Tracy!

And about the “incident”–You and I had those conversations already; we both knew it was completely innocent, that Americans are too uptight; we had established firm boundaries.  And–“don’t know you”?  She’d been living in my house for a few weeks already!  I was no stranger!

Things we both did [either Richard and me, or Jeff and me, not sure which] with the best of intentions and innocent motives are being painted with an evil, underhanded light, and that hurts deeply.  This talk of violent thoughts [Tracy almost killing me] is very troubling.

I don’t need you to “bend over backward” because of my shyness/quietness; I merely ask for understanding.  It hurts that you’d even think I’d be deliberately rude.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  My illusions that things were now fine have come crashing down and I don’t know where I stand with you.  You say you don’t want to lose a friendship over it.  Neither do I, but I also can’t take any more sleepless nights and endless crying jags.

Even later drafts:

I worked hard to remember details and put that overheard conversation into perspective.  I had already witnessed various incidents of abuse.  My primary concern was how you and the girls were being treated.  I felt like I was now being abused and did not deserve it.

I felt cut off and forgotten, like my best friend was pushing me aside.  Now I felt my best friend was being taken away from me for no good reason.

I merely told Jeff what was going on and how I felt.  He responded by trying to fix the problem.

Various things we both did with the best of intentions and innocent motives are being painted with an evil, underhanded light, and that hurts deeply.  This talk of violent thoughts is very troubling.

I don’t need you to “bend over backward” because of my shyness/quietness; I merely ask for understanding.  It hurts that you’d ever think I’d be deliberately rude, or that you’d let these things build on themselves without talking with me about it first.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  My illusions that things were now fine and the past was left in the past, have come crashing down and I don’t know where I stand with you.  You say you don’t want to lose a friendship over it.  Neither do I, but I also can’t take any more sleepless nights and endless crying jags.

I think I know what she meant about being too worried about “keeping the peace.”  If you knew what Jeff was doing (and I remember telling you about it) and it bugged you, you should’ve said something.  Now it’s festered.

If you knew about an “incident,” [her seeing the shoulder sleeping one afternoon when I was sick and desperately needed a nap] you should’ve told me.

You also should’ve told me, “It’s not okay right now, even when she’s out of the room, but it’ll be perfectly fine once she gets to know you.  I will tell you when that day comes, so you don’t have to guess.”  All I remember hearing is something about jealousy.

I keep hearing “you ignore it when she tries to start a conversation,” but I have no clue what you mean because all I remember is being kind and pleasant and smiling where appropriate and occasionally saying something.  If you see something happen, come to me and say, “THAT’s what I mean.”  Then I can say, “What?  I had no idea!” and be more watchful.

In my childhood, I had absolutely no clue that I was supposed to say “hi” and “bye” when people said it to me, until my mom and aunt pointed out that it was rude not to.  I think I was something like 10 or 11 by then.  Here I had no idea I was ticking people off for all those years, so I started forcing myself to say it.  Of course, it was still many years before I started initiating the “hi/bye,” but at least I knew to say it back.

In my teens, I had no idea that I was supposed to thank a person for a ride until a girl in my youth group chewed me out.  While it was embarrassing and I felt bad, I was also grateful to her for pointing this out.  I became a very gracious ride-taker after that.

I also didn’t see the point of saying “thank you” to a waitress because she was just doing her job, not a favor.  But in time I began to see how  much better it is to do so.

I am not intentionally rude.  I just never picked up on some of the social rules that other people figure out instinctively.  If nobody ever points it out, I miss it completely.

I don’t want to be chewed out, just have it gently mentioned.  Now Jeff never heard of the “compliments starting a conversation” rule, either,  so it may very well be a difference between [their region and our region] culture.

I didn’t actually send this e-mail because I spoke to Richard on the phone between the last draft at 3pm and an e-mail to Jeff at 4pm.  But I wrote it because our talk got interrupted before it could be finished.

So you see, old stuff was being drudged up again that I thought had long since been put to bed because nobody was doing them anymore, and because Tracy had made it very clear back in August of 2008 that the old restrictions on me were gone!

But when I called him about it after 3pm, I said I was tired of the whole thing (had been for a while, in fact).  I said I had a list of defenses but wanted to just drop the whole subject, and he said he did as well.

(The only one who actually kept the subject going in the first place, was Tracy.  Richard and I had wanted to drop it a long time ago.)

I told him I was sorry for my own part in things, and said so, to him and in an e-mail to her, which she accepted.  It sounded like he and I had so resolved things that their misunderstandings of me were cleared up.

More on this here.

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

 

In August 2008, I ponder ending the friendship, but discover Tracy has long since “approved” me

I discover the restrictions are still up after 7 months–and ponder ending the friendship

In late August, I thought all of the crap was long over with and Tracy was now fine with me, that surely she knew me well enough by now (after 9 months!) to relax all the restrictions.

From what I recall, at this point I don’t believe I knew that I was supposed to be good friends with her as well; I thought friendly acquaintances was enough.  In our interactions, I had done my best to forget the things she had done and kept doing, and be pleasant.

Jeff lost his job early that month due to downsizing.  Like a huge chunk of the local businesses, his employer depended on Mercury Marine, which suffered during the 2008 downturn.

Actually, Mercury had been suffering for a while, because they make recreational equipment (outboard motors, that sort of thing), the economy had been dragging for several years, and when that happens, people don’t buy boats.

So Mercury didn’t go to my husband’s company for parts for their equipment.  So his company suffered, mandated unpaid vacation time, and let people go, even this one whom they once called their “go-to guy.”

We were already living paycheck-to-paycheck; a lack of inflation-based raises over the past several years, debt that kept us in chains, and added hardship from paying for Richard and Tracy living with us, meant no savings whatsoever.

And unemployment paid only a fraction of what it took to run the house and pay our debts.  We relied on Jeff’s family just to keep out of bankruptcy.  And it was a couple of months before the big crash of the national economy, making this a horrible time to be out of work.

I was stressed out, trying to be strong for Jeff, so I naturally wanted a shoulder to cry on.  There was nobody close enough to me for this except Richard: I had no girlfriends in town to talk to.

Shortly before August 24, I asked Richard for some time to just sit and talk with him in the parking lot about my troubles, expecting that Tracy’s restrictions were long gone by now and we could do this.

So I was shocked to learn from him that all the restrictions were still up!  This is probably when I learned she wanted me to be buddy-buddy with her and have deep conversations with her.  All this time, I thought I just had to let her get to know me first.  Now there was more!

During our daily walks, I explained the situation to Jeff, since he’s my husband, so I naturally tell him everything that troubles me.  He grew furious and made remarks about how Tracy could take herself back to [their original state], etc. etc.

I wrote an e-mail to Richard on Sunday, August 24, 2008; this is a compilation of the drafts, not what the e-mail finally looked like, and shows how I worked with different ways to say the same thing:

I have to be honest with you: If it’s true that Tracy still won’t let us go somewhere and talk, just talking in a public place, maybe even just taking a walk, even when I really need to talk to my friend about difficult times, after all this time, then I have to say I’ve given up on trying to please her.

It sounds like other people have gotten her approval with far less.  She lived here under my roof for a month and a half; she knows all she needs to know.  If she doesn’t trust me now, she never will.

The more she resists my friendship with you, the more of a wall gets built up between us, and she won’t get this buddy-buddy friendship she seems to want.  We also just don’t have enough in common for that: Our personality types just don’t mesh well together.

After all we’ve done for her family, to be cut off from you feels insulting, unnecessary and ungrateful.

The primary reason why I get paranoid when you don’t call me back when promised, is that I fear what’s going on on the other end: Is she getting mad at you for the very thought of calling me back, no matter how urgent the matter?  Is that why we have to talk to each other when she’s at work?

I am the way I am, and she has to take it or leave it.  I don’t feel comfortable with this situation, and it’s depressing.  The last thing I want is to be forced to give you up because the wife doesn’t like me.  You’re one of my dearest friends, part of the “inner circle.”

It’s very hard for me to find friends as close as we’ve gotten, so when I find one, I try to hang on.  But most of my close friends are in other cities and our primary communication is by e-mail.

Here I finally had a close friend right here at home again.  I’ve missed that since [an old] crowd drifted away and the youth group was disbanded.  I want it to stay that way.

I don’t know why she doesn’t like me and is putting me through all this; I don’t buy the reasons given.  I want to be there for you for everything, and I want you to be allowed to be there for me.

feeling bullied….

OR

I’ve been feeling heartsick, and after talking about it with Jeff, he’s just as upset.  I feel like I’m being bullied.

Tracy and I DID have good conversations in the beginning, while I was lying on the couch sick or we went to church while you were at work, and after living here for more than a month, she knows all she needs to know about me.

We were there for her when she was in a tough situation.  It sounds like others have been given free reign after far less.

I’ve been watching her kids and being nice and offering her free meals and supporting her and chatting with her occasionally, so I thought we were getting along now.

I thought she would be okay with you and I going somewhere to talk, especially while I’m going through tough times and need an outlet outside of this house.

I’m Melanie, not Scarlett O’Hara.  If she’s not okay with it by now, I’m afraid she never will be.  I don’t believe the reasons.

I wanted to be her friend, but there’s a wall that is impossible for me to breach.  I don’t feel it’s my fault.  I don’t call that often because I’m always afraid she’s going to yell at me again.

I can understand and respect that you don’t want trouble at home, but is it right to allow a good friend to be bullied?

I don’t feel comfortable with this situation.  It makes me feel like some blasted “other woman.”

The last thing I want to do is to end our friendship, but things have got to change because I can’t take much more of this distrust and suspicion and fear of somehow transgressing.

OR

I do love you [philia] dearly, and that’s the reason why I’ve put up with this for so long.  But I can’t let it keep going on like this.  

I do believe I earned the right long ago to be cut some slack, and I don’t feel I’m being treated fairly.  I did not create this situation.

I don’t appreciate being treated like some “other woman” who can’t be trusted. 

I’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to put her family back together, and should not keep getting treated like I’ll try to break it apart as soon as her back is turned.  I don’t want to go to extremes or put up an ultimatum I’m sure to lose.

But if Jeff were bullying one of my friends, I would stick up for him/her.

OR

About our conversation the other day, this is difficult for me….You are very dear to me and I don’t want to hurt or upset you.

But I’m not sure you realize the stress I’ve been under since I discovered Tracy still has me under “restriction” after all this time.  I want the stress to end.  I want to find some way where we can all get what we want, but things have to change.

I claim my right to protest that this is very unfair to me.  This “restriction” I’m still under is far more appropriate for someone she’s just met who dresses provocatively and has a history of manstealing.

On the contrary, I happen to think she knows me quite well, I dress modestly, respect boundaries, and have tried to help you guys out any way I can.  I earned the right to be cut slack because of our generosity.

We were roommates for more than a month, so she DOES know everything she needs to know about me.  I have never understood why she keeps saying she doesn’t.

I’ll hear her say things about me that I don’t even recall mentioning.  I don’t remember telling her I don’t like shopping.  I don’t remember telling her I’m a nervous driver.  Yet somehow she knows both things.

I have indeed tried to be friends with her, and I thought we were now, that the past was gone and she was learning to trust me.

When Jeff and I first met, he had a group of friends which I felt uncomfortable around, but they were his friends.  However, I claim the right to choose my own confidants.

I am also a shy, quiet, private person; she has to take me as I am.  I opened up to her about many things in the very beginning.

While I was sick and could not move off the couch, and when we went to church, we had long conversations.  You were at work at the time, so did not witness them.

We could do what women do and poke fun at you when you were in the room.  Things were going fine.

I seem to recall wanting to watch chick flicks with her–finally, someone to watch them with!

But then distressing things happened that caused me to put up boundaries.  I would like to be able to take those boundaries away again.

But there is only one way this can happen: I MUST BE MADE TO FEEL SAFE.  To elaborate, I must be accepted the way I am: an introvert.

There must be no harsh words, just gentle treatment; I must not be punished for wanting to talk to you; I must not be pushed or criticized or punished for not talking more to Tracy, because this will cause me to clam up.  

This is not stubbornness.  Honestly, my brain will freeze up, I will feel very uncomfortable around her, and I will not be able to speak to her.  This always happens when people tell me I should talk more, tell me to smile, or whatever.

I have been able to make friends with some difficult people, but they inspired my loyalty through compliments and gentle treatment.  For example, my former boss [the narcissist], who had a temper, kept cutting my hours without pay, and kept “forgetting” my paydays.

Once he wanted me to talk to a credit card company for him, and impersonate his wife, who had to call them herself but wasn’t able to.  When I refused, he called them up himself and began speaking falsetto.  It was the strangest thing I ever witnessed.

The day he quit, he was like a dragon, spewing flames out all over the building because he thought the underwriter had treated him badly.

But he normally spoke gently to me; he joked around with me; I poked fun at him for his messy office; he kept telling me how smart I was and what a help I was, putting his files in order.  (“Disorganized” is far too light a word to use to describe his office.)

This inspired my loyalty, so when someone told me I should threaten to stop working for him if he didn’t pay me on time, I didn’t do it.

I want everything to be the way we dreamed it would be back in the beginning.  It just can’t go on the way it has been.  But if I’m accepted the way I am and made to feel comfortable, you will see that things can change.

I am skittish and sensitive.  This must be taken into account.  If it is, then we can finally get somewhere and everyone will be happy.

The way things are now, is very distressing, because I start getting anxious if I need to call you (for fear of Tracy getting upset with me), and I do occasionally need to talk to you in person–not just over e-mail or the phone–like friends DO.

I want the freedom to do so, because I will not stand for this forever.

From what you said, I got the strong impression that others have been “okayed” for far less.  I do feel I earned the right to be cut slack because of all the trouble I went through for you guys.  I feel she already knows all she needs to know about me after living under my roof for more than a month.

Now we’re the ones going through difficult times, and I feel I have the right to go out and talk with a friend.  I’m not going to make some ultimatum which I’m sure to lose, and I don’t want to put you in a tough spot.

But I will say this just is not right, not the way to pay back someone for helping.

The final e-mail had some things about, I didn’t feel comfortable being friends with a man whose wife hates me, and explaining that the pressure needed to be taken off me to talk.

I didn’t find a copy of it, and I think it was sent through an online forum, so I don’t remember what it said, or which version above it most resembled.  But it was probably similar to the last.

Tracy tells Jeff a different story: I have already been “approved” as Richard’s friend

Afterwards, Jeff drove Tracy to work or the airport, and had a little conversation with her about all this.  

She told him that she actually was perfectly fine with me now, that Richard could do anything he wanted with his friends as long as he cleaned the house first–He just hadn’t been cleaning the house.

They were all going out of town for a bit and would return the day of an Alice Cooper concert.

Richard had to run an errand after they got back, which I won’t describe here, just that it was necessary and would take him out of town during the concert.

Tracy suggested that she and Jeff go to that concert, while Richard would take the kids to my house and watch them there, while he and I hung out together and watched The Apostle.

I don’t remember when exactly he was first allowed to bring the kids to my house and hang out with me with them around, like little “chaperones” (or maybe spies, for all I know).  But that was usually a couple of hours in the afternoon, not hours and hours in the evening.

This was a gracious sign, a direct message from Tracy, that all her restrictions on me were gone and I had nothing more to fear from her.

Turnabout is fair play, after all: For her to go to a concert alone with Jeff, she must be willing to let me go out for coffee/ice cream/cry on a shoulder with Richard.

I told Jeff that Richard should not be telling me tales about his wife, telling me she was still against me when she wasn’t at all.

Jeff and I were both thrilled at this news.

For many months I operated on the understanding that all the restrictions were gone now.  I just figured that Richard wasn’t going out for coffee with me after that simply because he had no money for such things, being too poor.

It wasn’t until June 2009 that I discovered she had withdrawn her “okay” yet again, without telling me when or why.  I still have no clue when it was withdrawn.  This was maddening!

Unpredictable Responses
This includes emotional outbursts and extreme mood swings on the part of the abuser.

If your partner likes something you do today and hates it tomorrow, or reacts to the extreme at an identical behavior by the victim, this is an unpredictable response.

This behavior damages the victim’s self esteem, self confidence and mental well-being because they are constantly on edge, wondering how their partner is going to respond to their every move. –Mary M. Alward, Inside the Mind of an Abuser

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