mutism

Frustrating German Teacher–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1992, Part 2

Food Service and Classes 

Part of the Campus Center got converted into a pub, which was supposed to be a combination bar, grill, pool hall, and meeting place.  Dances were often held there, even though it was too small for that.

The voting for the new pub’s name was on the 14th and 15th of September.  One name suggested was Study, so you could tell your parents “I’m going to Study” without lying.    Unfortunately, the name for the new pub was voted to be The Pub.  We laughed because lack of creativity won.

That was the golden year of ice cream.  We had it all the time, and in various flavors: the new chocolate chip cookie dough, Elephant Tracks, even peanut butter chocolate, which was delicious but rare.

I now knew where the ice cream freezer was, and would go there when I had my early dinner.  I had my pick of full bins, so my preferred choices would not be empty or ice cream soup before I could get to them.

The fries were always good, but Muskie fries were even better, and wonderfully salty.  You could eat either kind without ketchup.

These hamburgers had real meat in them, not vile soy, and weren’t served on bread but on buns, contrary to high school and junior high burgers.  I even learned to love the cheeseburgers.  Wisconsin has this way of making even cheese-haters start to like some kinds of cheese.

My first night in Food Service, since Nancy had told me to come in after dinner, I stayed after the first shifters left and the football players (mostly black) came in, and until maybe 6:30.  There were a lot of flirts in there at that time.  One of them asked me if I had a boyfriend, and I said no.

He said in disbelief, “You don’t have a boyfriend?!  What kind of music do you like?”

“Nearly anything,” I said.

“So if you put on a slow song, she’ll dance with you,” he said to the others.

There was another black guy with a shaven head who liked to flirt with me.  He often worked the lunch shift with me during spring semester.

I loved the attention, which made me feel beautiful.  I had never really had much of that sort of attention in my life, and Shawn kept making out with me but insisting we were just friends, so I could certainly use it.

I got a roommate later in the month; she also worked Food Service, and for a time we worked together.

Remember James?  Now for more details.  He had very German features and a long nose (I have a fetish for long-bridged noses).

I sometimes spotted him working after my late shift on Thursday.  His job was sweeping.  He always seemed to look at me whenever I was nearby.

I’d walk around putting dishes away while glancing at him, and noticed him glancing at me as well.  I looked at his time card one day to learn his name.

I would pass him on the way to or from Food Service, and we would glance at each other.  I never quite got up the courage to say hi, I guess.  Oh well, he never said it, either.

The two good things about Food Service were higher paychecks and Muskie Inn coupons.

****

Carl and Dirk were freshman roommates who worked in Food Service on a different shift.  Nancy pointed at them once and told me that one had a crush on me.

I thought she meant Carl–whom I preferred–but she meant Dirk.

Dirk was just as much a know-it-all as Shawn, able to talk you into believing anything, and I eventually considered him obnoxious.  He wasn’t even cute.  So it’s just as well that Nancy said,

“I told him you were shy, but he didn’t like that.”  Yeah, well, who needs you?

I sat with Carl and Dirk a few times at meals.  Once, Dirk said,

“Half the guys here are probably in love with you.”

I think he was trying to inspire me not to be so shy, as if it would somehow make a difference on someone who was born that way.  I don’t know if guys were really saying this about me or if it was just Dirk’s theory.  If it were true, I wish that one of the guys would have acted on it.

Nancy told me once that Dirk would try to tell the football players how to do their jobs.  Now these guys had been in there far longer than freshman Dirk had, yet they seemed to take his commandeering with amused, patient faces.  But Nancy expected that any day now they would grab him and put him through the washer along with the dishes.

The freshmen in my shift kept complaining about Freshman Studies.  They said it had nothing to do with their major, so they shouldn’t have to take it.  I thought a liberal arts education meant a little of everything, not just what applied to your major.  It’s for expanding your mind, not just teaching you how to make money.

One of my first days back, while I was still feeling self-assured and happy, I had to face Roanoke reality again: Peter was back at school.

****

In a cold room in the basement of Old Main, my Fiction Writing class met with Terry on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  My final grade was a satisfying A-, just what a writer could wish for.  I wondered why Terry loved Flannery O’Connor so much, since she seemed to write such dark stuff.

We moved the desks so they were in a circle, making us much more comfortable talking to each other and reading our work.  We kept writing-journals.

One of the students also knew Peter.  She read one of her assignments in class, said it was about someone she knew–and she confirmed to me that it was Peter.

Her assignment was about a guy who takes dream trips while he sleeps, trips into the past where he studies with a ninja master.

Or maybe she talked about him traveling in time to other places; I don’t quite remember what she read, just that I knew about these dream trips as well.

One assignment was to write an argument between two people.  I based mine on stories I dreamed up in junior high, about Shyeskol, a Martian with a high-pitched voice, and Brian, the Earthling she loved–but he thought she was weird.

I used much of the Martian culture I had already developed over the years.  The class seemed to love it, and Terry especially loved my simple, beautiful-sounding alien names.

We soon had to sit down and write for an hour, just to see what we came up with.  I sat down at the computer at home for much longer than an hour, and came up with “Brian and Shyeskol.”

It was 25 pages, double-spaced.  Terry brought it to my suite to return it to me after he graded it.  He stood outside the door with an umbrella, and said, “This took me soooooo long to read, but I really enjoyed it.”

I first wrote my now-published story “Bedlam Castle” over the summer.  I had dreamed parts of it, only the characters were the cast of Are You Being Served? and Colin’s part was played by Spooner.

I don’t know why it was Spooner: I never had a crush on him or anything.  But that’s why Colin ended up average-looking.

I threw in ghosts to explain things that only made sense in a dream, such as clothes changing color.  I typed the story with the name “Bedlam” in maybe a day or two.  Now, in Fiction, I needed to submit stories to be workshopped, so this became one of them.

While home for Thanksgiving Break, I typed a revision into my parents’ computer.  It was about 20 pages, double-spaced, and I believe I had to print up 20 copies for everybody in the class.

That took forever, and then I had to separate the pages and remove the edges.  (It was a dot matrix printer with continuous feed.)

I submitted it to the class, and people joked that it was so long it kept them up half the night.  But they loved the story, and had all sorts of praises.

Rachel loved the humor.  One person, a man who was probably in his thirties or forties, loved that the focus and culmination was a kiss and not sex, unlike so many other stories and movies these days.

I took the copies back, along with the comments people had scribbled in the margins, and revised the story in my word processor.  It became much stronger.  I also changed the title to “Bedlam Castle” to address a concern that “Bedlam” didn’t fit.

I worked as quickly as possible, but revising and then printing the story took far longer than I expected.  I had to get it ready for finals, which were shortly after Thanksgiving Break, but I also had other classes.

The night before the final day of class, I stayed up until 5am revising it.  Then on the day of the final, which was to be held in Terry’s house on Prof Row, I was still working on it!  The 1991 Brother word processor printed dreadfully slow, and ink cartridges lasted for maybe 20 pages.

The time for the final arrived, and I was still printing out the revised copy for the teacher.  I ran out of ink at least once.  The final was just the class sitting in the teacher’s house and chatting, but we were supposed to turn in our revised stories as well, so this could not wait.

I didn’t get done printing it until 3:00, an hour after the final started, and everyone was waiting for me before they could start.  One of my classmates called and said, “Where are you?”

“I’m printing out ‘Bedlam,'” I said.

She and the whole class laughed.

When I finally got to the final and gave the story to Terry, I could sit down and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Terry had been a lead singer for a punk rock band in his youth, circa 1980, and played us a record made by his band.  I still remember the chorus to one song: “I want to kill for kicks!”  His punk persona was different from the Terry we knew, a soft-spoken, even-tempered man.

My friends giggled at the way he would talk slowly in class and that he was actually using a textbook this year.  But I liked him, and really missed him the next year when he moved and someone else took his place.

One day freshman year, Pearl had been sick and didn’t go to class.  He came all the way to her room to find out how she was.  Ever after that, people joked that he was her “man.”

****

Music History and Appreciation met in ugly room 14 of Old Main.  This room was painted in a 70s red-orange that looked good on the outside walls of the building, but not on the inside.

We listened to tapes of samples of the various types of music which appeared in each period of history.  We discovered that music notation wasn’t established until sometime in the Middle Ages, so it’s difficult to pinpoint just what songs sounded like before then.  Love songs were as prevalent then as now.  I learned to love plainchant and Baroque.

We read about Hildegard of Bingen and the music she wrote.  We learned a few other things about culture as they related to music, and that one woman intellectual in the eighteenth century wrote under a male penname so she’d be taken seriously.

She was one of those philosopher-types, such as Voltaire, which were around in those days.  I don’t remember what her penname was.

We learned that modern-day S– and other Wisconsin towns of similar or larger size were like the big and small towns and cities of the nineteenth century, with “its symphony association, organized by merchants, bankers, government officials, lawyers, and other members of the middle class” (page 243, Listen, by Joseph Kerman).

We learned that Franz Liszt was like a modern rock star: His concerts drew crowds, women wanted to tear his clothes off, he broke piano strings as he played (much like modern rock stars sometimes smash guitars), and he had a “flamboyant” lifestyle and affairs with noblewomen.

In the class with me were Tara, Pearl and Shawn.  I loved having them all in there with me, seeing them three out of the five weekday mornings and then being able to discuss the class with them.

Pearl and I loved hearing Chopin’s Etude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12, because David Meece had written a song, “This Time,” with this song incorporated into it.  It’s also used in an episode of Abbot and Costello’s comedy show, “The Music Lovers.”

On Wednesday and Friday mornings, my Sophomore Honors class met with Bill.  I read all the books, except for one.  Some I liked more than others; I loved Incidents in the Life of a Former Slave Girl, the diaries of women pioneers, and The Crucible.

I thought Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold was terribly boring.  It’s funny to occasionally find praises of it in newspapers and books.  I thought Gretel Ehrlich was obsessed with sex, since she saw phallic symbols everywhere in the Wyoming landscape.

By the way, the teacher in “Bedlam Castle” was written with Bill in mind.  Somebody in Fiction even noticed that he was like Bill.  Since the teacher didn’t show up much in the story and did nothing awful, I don’t think I should worry about libel suits.

Once, probably around October 16, Bill brought in two black students.  They spoke to us about the black experience, since nobody in the class was black.

They said that oftentimes a young black man would go to a white girlfriend and ask her for money all the time, knowing full well that he couldn’t do this with a black girlfriend because she would think he was nuts.

From what they said, black women sounded far more confident than many white women, and I envied that.

I also mentioned that I saw Boyz n the Hood in the Muskie, and sat there with tears in my eyes, blown away by what I had seen.  I had no clue that such things happened in this country.  Our guests nodded and smiled, confirming that yes, this movie was showing things the way they really were.

****

Humanities class would meet with my freshman year German teacher, Ruth.  I didn’t get along with her, but I loved reading the textbook, especially the part about Egypt.  I seem to recall getting an A.

I was especially entranced by the sad story of Abélard and Héloïse.  I wished the book had gone into more detail on it, or even reprinted some of their famed letters.

I mentioned the story to Pearl, and that I had been told Héloïse was twelve.  Pearl said she’d been told she was sixteen.  In 1999, I heard she was seventeen.  So how old was she, anyway?

I read Dante’s Divine Comedy over Thanksgiving Break, and loved it, though I really hoped that Hell wasn’t nearly that bad!  According to the Orthodox, this view is just his invention.

Frustrating German Teacher

As late as September 1, my schedule of the semester’s classes was fixed except for German Composition and Conversation, with Ruth, which was still marked “TBA,” or “To Be Announced.”  The room and teacher were decided, but not the hour.

As I did with every single other class I had during my college career which was marked TBA (and there were at least two or three others: German, probably Frontiers of Space, World Lit, possibly Expos), I waited for the Registrar’s office to send me a new form or a notice giving the time, place, and teacher for the class.

This was just normal procedure for classes which weren’t Independent Study, and Comp/Con was not Independent Study.  You were expected to wait for a confirmation of the time or room, rather than calling and annoying people about it.

I certainly hadn’t been told to do this any differently, and it had worked just fine in the past, as it would in the future as well.

It was probably just before Friday the 11th, when classes had been in session for a couple days and I still hadn’t heard anything about the class, when I saw one of my German classmates in my suite.  She was friends with some of my suitemates.  I asked her if she had heard anything yet about our class, because I hadn’t.

She said that she and the others had contacted Ruth about it and had started meeting or were about to.  I don’t remember if she gave me a time.  It’s just possible that she did and that it conflicted with something else I did and that I had to talk to Ruth about that, because I see in my day planner that I still planned to talk to her about it on the 11th.

So on the 11th I went to find Ruth and talk to her about the class time.  I certainly didn’t at all expect the reception I got.  I know she also talked to me on the 21st, so I may be confusing some of the things she said now with what she said then, but I do believe she chewed me out for not calling her before about the TBA like all the others did.

I thought this was totally unfair of her, because how the heck was I to know to do this, when with all my other TBA classes, I was just supposed to wait for an announcement?  Only Independent Study classes required contacting the teacher about it.

Whatever she said to me on this particular occasion, it upset me enough that I dropped the class and switched to Music History and Appreciation.  Pearl, Tara and Shawn were all in the class, so I believe I was happier in there than I would have been in Comp.

I have never regretted switching classes, though I have regretted how my love of German was soured by this teacher.

She seemed to like all three of the other students in German freshman year better than she did me.

I was a good student, already knowing many of the things taught first semester, and I loved German.  But I didn’t talk any less or any more in that class than I did in German class in high school, and I did have a life outside of German class.

I did well in the class, as I did in my other classes, and in my old German class I had been one of the best students and felt that the teachers really liked me.

But it seemed there was no pleasing this one unless you were extremely outgoing.  We can’t all be like that, nor do we all want to be.

On the 21st, probably in the morning, Ruth had me come see her.  I was doing well in Humanities class, I thought, which by now was the only class I had her for, and which should have been the only one she would concern herself with.

I didn’t know what she wanted to talk to me about, but I surely didn’t expect it to be the whole German thing again.

She sat there and chewed me out for several minutes, saying I wasn’t assertive enough, referring back to the TBA thing

(which didn’t have anything to do with how assertive I was but with my tendency to want to follow normal procedure–which is generally considered a GOOD trait),

my not going to her office with the high school student more than once to converse in German

(I considered it boring; this had nothing whatsoever to do with assertiveness).

She also said she didn’t think I had the knowledge or assertiveness or whatever to go to Germany junior year, as I had been hoping to do.  (It was the reason I chose Roanoke, the chance to go to Germany.)

Yet I was a good student!  I knew what German she had taught me!

I wasn’t a German major but had been considering a German minor; this only required six courses of German, and I didn’t have to take Comp for it.  It wasn’t even a prerequisite for other classes, so I could skip it altogether and it wouldn’t make any difference.

I only needed four other courses, one of which I could take spring semester.  By the time I took a semester in Germany, I could easily have had two more courses in German, probably from the literature and culture courses.

Since the course book says nothing about what year you have to be, I may even have done it senior year and had yet another course under my belt.  So what did it matter how much knowledge I had of German at the beginning of my sophomore year?

After all, you take a class because you don’t know what it teaches, not because you do, and by the time you get done with it, you do know what it teaches.

Her reasons for me not being able to go to Germany in a year or two were unfair and irrelevant.  She was biased against me long before it would have been time for me to show I knew German well enough to study in Germany.

I guess she just didn’t like shy people who were not go-getters.  She loved another girl in the class who was in all sorts of things, outgoing and ambitious, majoring probably in Business or Marketing.

(I was a writer from an easygoing middle-class family.  Many of my relatives were farmers, and my brothers ended up in the working class.  My big ambition was to write well enough to be published.)

I remembered her getting snippy at least once when I asked why pronunciation for a word (German or French) differed from what I’d previously been taught.

I remembered her getting mad at me for choosing not to do an optional activity because I didn’t want to.

And her harassment over my being introverted was insufferable.

So I decided I could not keep taking German with this woman, and wished I didn’t have to take Humanities with her as well.  At least I got an A.

I began pondering whether or not to pursue the German minor anymore.  It was undeclared, and Ruth would be my teacher if I did pursue it.

My ideas of becoming a translator apparently had faded.  She had destroyed my desire to continue my study in German.

Now all I wanted to pursue was my Writing major, which was soon to be declared.

Since she and Heidi were both German Swiss, I began to wonder if there was something about the Swiss that made it hard for them to get along with people like me,

if maybe they favored go-getters and had no patience whatsoever for the quiet, retiring sort of person, who has every bit as much right to exist as a go-getter does.

Yet I had a Swiss pen pal, and we seemed to get along all right.  But Heidi did say that a popular Swiss joke was, they’re a neutral country because they like to fight too much.

I took no more German classes after this.

I get the feeling, looking at my old response papers (written after attending lectures or performances), that she graded them unfairly.

Like for example, I wrote a favorable review of “Les Jongleurs”; the performers dressed in medieval garb and played medieval songs in the Bradley Building.  I wrote how boring it was that the guys all dressed in modern suits, when I would have liked to see them dressed in medieval clothes, like the girls were.

Ruth wrote on my paper that I should have taken issue not with that, but with the dresses the girls wore: She said they were in poor taste and not at all period!  Maybe that was HER opinion, but I thought this was supposed to be MY opinion!

Looking over my other response papers, it seems that nothing I ever wrote pleased Ruth.  She kept docking me for not saying this or that or saying too much of this and not that.  Maybe I just never thought of those things, or had those reactions, or maybe I really did think the lecturer made excellent points.

I’m not real sure why she didn’t like me: After all, it seemed like most of my teachers did.  I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious or a bad student; I was just me.

She took issue with things I had done all my life and had never ever heard of anybody having a problem with.  I was totally shocked to learn that anyone would.

Her criticism got personal.  It wasn’t for many years that I learned that the traits she complained about, are perfectly normal NVLD and introverted traits.

It’s too bad that Roanoke’s usual German teacher was gone at the school’s Japanese satellite school during my years at Roanoke.  HE was well-liked, and a native German.  Maybe I would have received my German minor and become a translator for banks.

****

As for television, that time period had some awesome shows–quirky, creative–which didn’t last more than one season, but also one that did, Picket Fences.  There were Covington Cross, Key West, Class of ’96.

There were other shows about college that came out at that time, yet Class of ’96 was the closest one to actual college life.

Oddly enough, though, Seventeen slammed it as being unrealistic, and it didn’t get renewed.  For my school, it was very realistic.  I think one of the things they complained about was the smaller class sizes and no TAs, but my school had smaller class sizes and no TAs.

They showed dorm life–guys playing their stereos too loud while one character needs to study–and the freshmen coming for orientation with their parents, unloading their cars, moving in, having no clue what was going on or what they were supposed to be doing.  It wasn’t all about sex like the summer’s Freshman Dorm.

This show, and the lack of realistic college shows, inspired me to write about college, the way it really was.  The idea for these memoirs was born.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

The Relief of Being With Friends Who Do Not Abuse You

After the trauma of being bullied for more than two years for being shy and quiet, of being hounded for it–

treated as if I had nefarious motives–

punished by withholding me from my best friend–

screamed at via e-mail in vicious, foul language–

and even turned on and blamed for this abuse by my own best friend–

then ridiculed by them both for being traumatized by this and not wanting to see either of them again–

then intimidated by them by sending me a nasty message and stalking my blog after being banned from it for malicious behavior–

then intimidated into silence through threats if I dare to tell my priest what they’ve been doing–

It is a balm to my soul every time I am with my friends, every time I am with nice people.  At church, I’m accepted as I am.  I am an introvert, mixed in with elements of selective mutism and nonverbal learning disorder, so I sit quietly as others around me at church chat with each other; yet they still smile at me and accept me as I am.

When I am with friends, real friends, good friends, such as I was yesterday for July 4, they accept me as I am.  I sit there quietly most of the time, listening to the conversation, contributing if I have something to say on the subject, but mostly just listening.

This is the way introverts are; it’s the way our brains work; it’s the way we were born to be.  And my true friends accept this.

I was with a friend of 20 years yesterday; she and my husband spoke far more than she did with me, but it was all okay.  She’s an extrovert, but she knows I am this way, always have been, always will be.

There was a time when some extroverted friends tried to get me to talk more, even to strangers, but they were gentle about it, just made a couple of comments they saw as helpful, and now they just know it’s the way I am.

Years ago, at my last job before becoming a housewife, one of the secretaries made some snarky comment about my quietness to the other secretaries.  I didn’t hear it, but I certainly heard of it, as all the other secretaries were incensed with her for what she said about me, as they considered me a sweet person who didn’t deserve it.

So even though there might be the occasional person like Tracy, bullying me for being quiet, most of the adults I’ve known since leaving school, have been far nicer about it.

The emotional trauma of being bullied for so long and so viciously is still with me, still affecting me every day.  But every time I am with people at church or my real friends, it is a huge help.

It reminds me that not everyone is like Richard and Tracy, that most people I know are not like Richard and Tracy, that most people, period, are not like Richard and Tracy.

This reminder helps a little in drawing me a bit out of that shell that’s been around me ever since they emotionally eviscerated me for being shy and quiet.

Why Are Women So Mean to Each Other?
Female Bullying
The Medium is the Message
Bullying in the Female World
Cyberbullying: The New Female Terrorism

The Care and Feeding of Shy People

This was originally a Usenet post, posted to a large SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, medieval hobbyists) newsgroup back in the spring of 1998.  The newsgroup was called the Rialto.

This was before the explosion of Internet articles and blogs about how introverts need respect, too, for the way they socialize (or not) and the way their brains work.

I expected a lot of criticism for going against what I kept hearing from the extroverts all around me.  Instead, I got an amazing response from all sorts of other shy people who agreed with me, and suggestions such as carrying around M&Ms to offer to people as icebreakers.

I also got a helpful critique from someone who was not shy, which helped me revise it into a better form.

The chronicler (newsletter writer, guy named Folo) for one shire (SCA group belonging to a city/region) saw it and asked to publish it in his shire newsletter.  So this has actually been published before.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to my copy of the newsletter, so can’t reference it.  But I do have an e-mail with the updated version which I agreed to have published.  It was specifically addressed to SCA readers, but applies to everyone.  Here it is:

Sometimes comments are made to shy people, especially to scared newbies or recent newbies who still don’t know many people very well, that are thought to be helpful but are really not.  For example, “Well, if you’re bored / If you don’t know many people, then you should talk to people.”  Or, “Do you talk?”  Or greeting a person not with a hello, but with a, “Don’t talk so much today!”

Such comments may be well-intentioned, even considered humor.  To the speaker, they may seem reasonable and easy to act upon.

But they sound rude to the recipient, and can actually be counter-productive.  Instead of talking or smiling more or starting conversations, the shy person may grow increasingly resentful, talk less, and, instead of doing the things he naturally does to start friendships, ends up not even doing that.

He grows more uncomfortable and self-conscious than he would have been.  In effect, an outgoing person telling a shy person to talk more is like a well person telling a sick person to get better, or a cat telling a dog to be a cat.

Instead, be more understanding of the shy person’s natural manner of making friends.  Some are not sure how to make friends, but some have already developed strategies that work for them.

Maybe a particular person is quiet at first, but more talkative after getting to know you. I  have found myself going from quiet to talkative in a matter of minutes with a person I’ve only just met, because we seemed to “click.”

But often, the thought of talking with a complete stranger can make a shy person freeze up.  Let him ask for help, and don’t just assume he needs it.

Another thing to do is, if he appears bored or uncomfortable, you could invite him to join your group at a meal or whatever your group is doing.  Then don’t persecute him if he doesn’t open up right away.

(Our reasons for keeping quiet in a group discussion are varied: we don’t know the subject at all, we don’t have anything to say, all our points are already made by others, or we just can’t get a word in edgewise until the subject has already changed!)

If he thinks he would like to get to know you better, he might, after this icebreaker, seek you out.  Or need to be invited once or twice more.  That would help a lot.  Ask him for his opinions on conversation topics, too–make him a part of discussion.  Remember, you have the power here, in the shy person’s eyes.

Crowds can also be intimidating.  A relaxed setting (meaning, no one’s pressured to talk), such as a game of pente or watching TV, with a handful of people is an excellent way to get a shy person to “open up.”

Those are my observations after years (inside and outside the SCA) of seeing what works and what doesn’t.  What works is to accept the shy person as shy and/or quiet; what doesn’t work is to try to change this without being asked.

Nyssa of Iona

 

On Being Judged for Shyness

[Note: This post was reblogged and praised here by another shy, quiet person.  And got a couple of likes.  🙂  ]

I am painfully shy.  Always have been, and despite all the scoldings I’ve received about it over the years, probably always will be.

The very last thing you should do with a shy person is scold about it, order her to talk more, bring attention to her shyness, punish her for it, or accuse her of rudeness.

It’s counterproductive, pushing us further into our shells.  A scolding will merely get you resentment, not the outgoing, talkative person you were trying to get.

Whether the shyness is from just shyness, a social anxiety disorder, NVLD, Asperger’s, or selective mutism (or all of the above), scolding will get you nothing at all, just make the shy person even quieter and more shy.

In college, I went to a frat party because they were going to show a movie which I had not seen before but all my friends had.  My friends didn’t show up, but there were a few other people there whom I knew, so I occasionally spoke with them.  But mostly I watched the movies.

One of them, a guy who was supposed to be my friend but kept criticizing me all the time, told me that after I left, the frat guys sat around joking about me, asking if I had said anything to anyone.  It made me feel like a freak.

In the beginning of my time playing in the SCA (medieval re-creation group), I was extremely frustrated because all people ever said to me was, “You’re so quiet!”  Yeah, whatever, tell me something I don’t know.  Or ordered me to smile when I didn’t feel like smiling.

I felt like an aberration because I wasn’t outgoing and chatty like them.

Meanwhile, people just seemed to leave me alone while they went off with their other friends.  I didn’t enjoy events at all because there was nobody to hang around with, nobody to make me feel like anything other than a sore thumb just wandering back and forth with nothing to do.

One guy even told me–completely unasked-for advice–that I needed to be “livelier.”  What the heck does that even mean?

I finally wrote an article which was published in an SCA newsletter, “The Care and Feeding of Shy People.”  I was amazed at how much support it got, that I wasn’t the only shy person in the SCA after all, that there were plenty of people like me.

In 1995 or 1996, my manager at work told me I was being too shy, and because of it people were scared to talk to me.

It didn’t change a thing: Instead of inspiring me to talk more, it merely made me resentful to be singled out yet again as the freak–and baffled at how anybody could be scared to talk to me when I was never mean to anyone, just the meekest person there.

What does my being shy have to do with my ability to do my job?  I did it quite well, in fact.

I can talk more easily around people I’m comfortable with.  There are those friends with whom I can talk easily for hours, even.  But they are few, because it seems like few people want to take the time to actually draw me out and make me into a friend.

Do you really expect someone who can barely croak out a “hello” to be able to just walk up to somebody and start a conversation, or invite you to coffee?  If I’m not comfortable with you, I can barely even think up a comment about the weather, let alone anything else.  It actually blocks off the conversational centers of my brain.

It has been scientifically proven that introverts don’t do well at conversation because their brains actually work differently than an extrovert’s in that situation.  We must think before we speak; we can’t just rattle off stuff.

If I know nothing about the topic the other people are speaking on, or have no experience with it, then I have nothing to say about it.  Or maybe the other people are talking so quickly, one after another, that I never get a chance to say what I do want to say, before the topic has changed.

I had finally found a friend who did take that time to get to know me and spend time with me.  I was able to talk to him easily for hours, and it seemed like it was never enough time to talk.  He said I was the most awesome person he knew.  But his wife absolutely refused to believe that my shyness and quietness around her was anything other than disrespect and rudeness.

I kept trying to plead my case to him and beg him to explain it to her, to get her to let me be me and not put so much pressure on me.  But he refused to believe I was doing anything but making excuses, and kept putting pressure on me to be all friendly and outgoing with her. 

And she refused to believe I was shy, just kept finding new ways that I was somehow “snubbing” or “disrespecting” her, while he kept accusing me of violating this or that conversational rule, giving her an excuse to take away normal friendship privileges with him.  He could do these things with all his other friends, but not with me.

And what I could or could not do with him kept changing all the time; I’d be punished without knowing what I was doing wrong this time.  She was abusive to everyone around her, and decided to abuse me, too, which made it impossible for me to get close to her or feel comfortable around her.

I finally had a friend, someone who lived near me, and had many interests in common with me.  Then he was taken away from me because other people chose to judge me instead of taking off the pressure and allowing me to be myself, helping me to get comfortable enough to talk with her. 

In fact, I have been more scared of people in the year and a half since she yelled and screamed at me online for no good reason, wondering who I can trust to not be judgmental.

Then he accused me of somehow being “more offensive” than her “harsh words” (which were foul and filthy) because at some point, I supposedly didn’t speak two sentences together to her for a month and a half.

(I have no idea what month and a half, since nobody ever said a word about it at the time.  And I certainly never heard of this “rule” that you’re supposed to speak two sentences in a row to be considered inoffensive.)

It still makes me angry.  No, not angry, furious.  Furious that even people in their late 20s/30s can be so judgmental about shy people.  It made me feel like a freak yet again.  And I bet those creeps still blame me for the end of the friendship, still think I’m the one with the problem.

Please, don’t be that person.  Don’t expect shy people to talk.  Draw them out instead by asking questions.

If we still don’t say much, don’t take it personally: Sometimes it takes a while for us to become comfortable enough with you to talk easily.  Or maybe we simply have nothing to say about that subject. 

Because our brains have such a hard time coming up with conversational topics off the cuff, just give us a chance.  Let us be ourselves, and don’t make a big deal about our quiet natures. 

It may take a few meetings, it may take 20 or 100, but eventually, we may begin to open up to you.  Even now I can be very quiet in a group of people I’ve known and been comfortable with for years, but one-on-one I can often be more talkative.

I am the son
and the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am Human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

–The Smiths, “How Soon is Now”

Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends with the Abusers

[This is an outpouring of grief and anger I felt shortly after discovering that my former best friend was convicted of choking his child, and in the process of recovery from severe psychological trauma inflicted on me by this person and his wife. 

[The grief and anger were so difficult to contain or deal with that I took to writing about it, especially as I would get continually triggered just by seeing a mutual Facebook friend respond to something they wrote. 

[In italics are additions and explanations I have put in while revising this in following years.

[Directly below is an index to this post.  Click on the links if you want to skip to some section in particular.]

Do our mutual friends know the identity of my abuser?

When you have been abused by a friend, or when you have discovered that your friend is a narcissist, or when you have discovered that your friend has a dangerous personality disorder such as narcissistic borderline, mutual friends may or may not believe you.

I have posted on Facebook and my blogs what really happened, that Richard and Tracy abused me, abuse their children and abuse each other, and that Richard has been convicted of choking his daughter.  But I didn’t use their real names in these posts.

[I did NOT mention my blogs or include the extensive detail of my blogs in these Facebook posts.  I did not say who I meant.  E-mails to close friends and other private conversations had more detail.  It just did not feel right to use names etc. on Facebook with mutual friends reading. 

[My motives for posting on Facebook were twofold:

[1. I put friends and family on my Facebook, and desperately needed the support of all of them together as a group in this difficult time of grief and PTSD-like symptoms, and no money for professional therapy.  I didn’t want to talk to a therapist, anyway: I wanted my friends and family to know what happened. 

[2. If the mutual friends did figure it out, I hoped they would intervene by talking to Richard/Tracy about the abuse, that it is abuse and wrong, and to get them to lighten up on me.  But I couldn’t just come out and ask them to get in the middle.

[Also, on the day of the breakup, Tracy began posting snarky and exulting comments on Facebook about how she was having a GREAT day because she was yelling and screaming her foul, untrue, and Satanic rage at me.  I feared what kind of slander and smear campaign she was carrying on on Facebook against me after I unfriended her, having seen her already do this with Todd in an online game.]

Mutual friends have seen some of the Facebook posts, but only one has acknowledged figuring out who I was talking about.  That one, Todd, already knew what Tracy was really like, having been her target two years previous.  When he found out about the criminal case and saw the proof for himself, he dropped Richard on Facebook.  So somebody believes me!

The others–I don’t know if they even know who I mean.  Richard and Tracy are still on their friends list, so even though I can’t see the blocked posts, I can see the mutual friends responding to their posts.  If they do know who I mean, do they believe me?

One mutual friend dropped me from Facebook almost a year ago now, with no word at all of why; this was Chris, my replacement as Richard’s BFF when I kept thinking for myself instead of following everything Richard said about politics and everything else.  [Chris re-friended me in 2014.  Shortly before 2015, he appears to have deactivated his Facebook.]

Websites often warn that you can lose mutual friends after being abused and/or being caught in the web of a narcissist.  They’re still caught in the web, and don’t believe this person could do what you say he’s done.  Maybe one day they, too, will come to the truth about the narcissist, but for now they think you’re crazy, bitter, whatever.

I wonder how the mutual friends can possibly not know who I mean, since I haven’t posted on the walls of Richard and Tracy for a year and a half, when I used to post there all the time.  (These people are connected via Internet and don’t live near each other.)

The mutual friends may occasionally respond to my posts of what happened, but they don’t acknowledge knowing who I mean.  They never ask for proof of my assertions that Richard has been convicted of choking his little girl, and is now on probation for it.  But if they only asked, I would give them three links which would prove to them beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m telling the truth.

These are three publicly available links; one is from the website of the local newspaper, and two are free, public, state-run websites, one with court cases and the other an inmate/community supervision locator.  All the information is on those three links, including mug shots, name, birthdate, addresses, what happened over the course of the case, details of the choking incident.

Yet they never ask; they keep Richard and Tracy on their Facebook; apparently they are in denial.  Maybe they’re afraid to face the truth, that their friends are abusive, violent people who have hurt many and who have already lost many friends, both individually and together.  Yeah, well, the truth is right there if only you want to face it, the proof is all on the Web that he’s not the amiable, big-hearted person he pretends to be.

[Update: In 2012, one of these mutual friends did, indeed, ask for these links, and was convinced.  But this was on a private Web forum, not on Facebook, where I felt free to discuss Richard and Tracy’s criminal actions (stalking and threatening me, choking their kid) using their names, thanks to another mutual friend paving the way.]

Do they believe me?  Do they have any clue these people are child abusers?

It’s hard for me to deal with this.  I avoid poking around too much in the posts of mutual friends, for fear that I’ll see them reply to Richard or Tracy, because I get a sour feeling in the pit of my gut when I see that.

There is still too much grief; there is still too much disbelief that Richard is a narcissist, even though I see the proof in his mug shots, the lack of remorse, the contempt instead of shame.

There is still too much anger at the injustice of Tracy’s projection of guilt onto me, at her abuses of me, at her gaslighting and vicious, nasty behavior.

Hubby wants me to no longer care what she thinks of me, and that’s what I want, too, but the anger and feeling of injustice still burn hot.  But when I do accidentally see a mutual friend responding to a post that is blocked from me, as I did last night, I start wondering,

“Are Richard and Tracy acting like nothing has happened and they’re just normal, healthy people who wouldn’t hurt a fly?  Is Richard pretending to all his friends that he never got charged with choking his child, never got convicted?

“Are they pretending to all their friends that Social Services is not involved in their family, even though it says right there in Richard’s signature bond agreement that he was ordered to cooperate with Social Services?

“Or do the mutual friends know all this, but not care that Richard and Tracy claim to be Christians but are severely lacking in morals, just as Richard kept being friends with the creeps who sexually harassed me in 2009, and got upset when I suggested their morals were lacking?

“Do they believe Richard or Tracy if they say that I’m the crazy one?  Does Tracy still post things like she did on 7/1/10, when she posted on Facebook that she was having a GREAT day because she no longer had to sit back and be quiet and nice, that she finally got to say what she wanted to say?”

(My husband said to that, when I told him yesterday about her post, “Say about *what*?  When was she keeping quiet and nice, and about what?”  Which is what I wonder as well, because I really don’t know.  I tried to be polite and kind to her all the time.)

I wonder, “Is Tracy still staying with Richard even though he almost killed her daughter?  Is Richard still staying with Tracy even though she hits him and he once told me he had to hold himself back, but if she ever hit his face, he’d tell her, ‘You’re not a woman,’ and hit her back like she was a man?

“Doesn’t Richard realize that this never ends well, that if he doesn’t get out now, the violence will escalate over time, until one day he’s beaten her up or even killed her, and the law won’t care who hit first, and will throw him in jail?  Especially now that he already has a child abuse conviction against him!”

I’ve done all I can.  I told Social Services what I witnessed and what Richard told me.  I told my priest what happened, and though I did not tell him Richard’s identity, I believe he’s figured it out.  I’ve tried to tell my friends the truth, whether mutual friends believe me or not, or even know who I mean.  I suggested to my husband that he report the threat Richard sent to him back on June 28, 2010, but he doesn’t want to.

The rest has been done by their oldest daughter, who had the amazing courage to report her own step-father to the police, and by law enforcement and Social Services.  I really should let myself rest with that, but I keep feeling like there’s something else I need to do.  But what else would there be?

What if my abusers join my church??!!

Richard’s church and mine are both very small and in financial trouble; the archdiocese has suggested they merge.  The two churches don’t want to merge, since they’re in different counties, and somebody would have to move.  But the option is still on the table.

If the churches merge, I will have to go to the priest with my concerns, and show him the proof that Richard is a convicted child abuser, to establish my credibility and prove that he is violent.

Because Tracy has bullied and verbally abused me as well, I will have to also show him an article I found on a contract one church drew up with a member who had been charged with molestation, a contract which was meant to help the member find redemption, but also consider the needs and fears of the victims.  We could modify it for our own needs.

If Richard comes to my church again, my husband and I will have to address the elephant in the room (his unrepentant attitude for hurting me, and the conviction), and confront him with the child abuse case, tell him we know what he did and he can’t keep coming here, intimidating me and bringing up all my feelings of grief and anger all over again while I’m trying to worship God.

Realizing my former friend is truly a narcissist

I thought, the last time he came, that he was showing signs of repentance for what he did to his little girl.  I hoped again, hoped he was cooperating with Social Services, hoped they were making him go to anger management and parenting classes, hoped he was working on those violent tendencies that drove him to tell me he was going to kill the lady who evicted him in 2009, to want to hit his wife, to choke his little girl until she passed out just because she wasn’t cleaning up after herself.

Those violent tendencies that drove him to tell my husband that he’s easily provoked to physical violence, that he was ready to fight verbally and physically, that because my husband was sticking up for me against Richard’s bullying, Richard felt angrier than he had felt in years.

I hoped that Richard now realized, thanks to his conviction and nearly killing his daughter, that he needed help desperately.  I hoped he was full of shame.  I hoped he would finally come to Hubby and me, and try to make things right.  I hoped that good side I thought was there, would finally get him to do the right thing, and this grief would end, I would get my friend back….

But then I saw the five mug shots taken a few weeks after he came to my church, and they were full of contempt.  Hubby says Richard also looks like the cat who swallowed the canary, like he got away with something.

There are also the many things he himself told me which show him to be a narcissist: using conversational hypnotism to get me to open up to him, his boast of arrogance, his boasting about all his past women and getting them fighting each other, telling me that his exes would sit around at the same table talking about how evil he was, joking about his big ego, faking speaking in tongues to his congregation while preaching (many years ago)….

There were so many things he told me which painted a distinct picture of narcissism in his youth.  But he had led me to believe that he had turned away from such things, respected women now, was being saved by the Orthodox Church.

I had this image of him, this friend, that may never have truly existed.  In 2009 or 2010, he complained about having to “pamper” me, even though I never asked him to, said that Tracy actually got angry with him for not saying things she knew he wanted to say while I was visiting.

This makes me wonder, WHAT things?  How much of what I believed was his personality and character, was real?  Was it all an act?  Did the person I saw as my friend–Did he ever even exist, or was he just a persona invented by Richard to lure me as his narcissistic supply?

I’ve been a victim of narcissists in the past; now I was vulnerable because I’m very shy, have trouble making close friends, all my close friends were living so far away that I hadn’t seen them in some time, and I have always wanted one of those platonic friendships like Frodo/Sam, Bill/Ted, Anna/Clarissa, Anne/Diane, Gus/Shawn….

After all, in one of his favorite chat rooms, the other people were very surprised to hear that he wanted to be a priest.

I have every reason to believe that Richard is truly a narcissist, that I’m not just making up some idea in my head to make myself feel better.  The proofs are at least as clear as the proofs of Tracy being a malignant narcissist and/or borderline personality disorder.  The biggest proof is the look in his eyes in his mug shots.

I thought he had changed from the violence and “dog” days of his past, was now gentle and sweet, especially because he wanted to be a priest and we were always talking about theology, the Church and God.

But now I see him as just as much a predator as he was in his younger, “dog” days, just more subtle.  After all, why should I believe him anymore that he’s changed in this way, when he also claimed to have changed in other ways–turning away from violence in general, no longer abusing his kids–only to be proven a liar when he planned to kill that lady in 2009, threatened my husband in 2010, and choked his daughter a few months later?

I’m very disappointed in Richard, very disappointed to have to let go of the belief that he could still be saved from himself.  It’s very difficult because for all this time, I’ve hoped that the good in him would one day win out and I would have my friend back.

Even at my angriest, I’ve been sad over having to give up his friendship, and hoped it was only temporary.  It had been such an important friendship to me, and I had thought for so long that it was important to him as well, that he didn’t want to lose my friendship or my husband’s.

So why won’t he man up and talk to us, why won’t he fight for our friendship, apologize to us?  Why did he plead no contest and still show, in his pictures, contempt for law enforcement, which is only doing its job protecting our weakest citizens?

Somehow I must accept that I now have proof of his narcissism, that he’s not the man I thought he was, and somehow I must stop longing for his friendship back.  But I don’t know how I’ll do that.

When I speak of new evidence I’ve found for Richard’s narcissism, my husband doesn’t sound surprised at all.

I keep remembering things that make me think Richard really does have a good heart, but my husband keeps remembering things about Richard that rubbed him the wrong way, made him think that Richard is actually heartless, such as his politics, or that he lacked in empathy and wasn’t a good, caring friend, such as when Hubby tried to explain to him why I resisted Tracy and how I was being unfairly treated, but Richard did not listen.

My giving nature keeps looking for the good in Richard, despite all the evidence in front of me, or how angry I am with him.  But Hubby seems to just nod whenever I have some new revelation.  For example, when I showed Hubby the mug shots taken a month after the conviction and a couple of weeks after Richard seemed repentant and humble at church.

For him to act this way at church but act contemptuous while dealing with law enforcement over his despicable acts–I was shocked and dismayed, but Hubby didn’t seem surprised at all.

He saw Richard as complaining about his lot in life but unmotivated to do anything about it; he saw Richard as believing himself to be good, and having a superiority complex (that Tracy has one as well), having to be better than everyone else, smarter, knowing secret things, having the right religion, etc.

(He also believed Tracy envied me for having a better life and better husband, and couldn’t stand that.  I know she envied my husband because Richard told me how often she wished hers did as much around the house as mine did.  There was also the time when Hubby promised to rub my feet, and she said, “Can we switch husbands?”)

I saw Richard as practically a saint, a wise counselor, a fount of knowledge on the True Church.  I was the perfect narcissistic supply.

Realizing that I, too, stayed friends with these narcs after they were cruel to a mutual friend

You will note that I stayed friends with Richard and Tracy even though I knew they were both being asses to Todd.  Of course, Richard told me enough things about Todd to make him sound like a horrible person in general, even though he’d been close friends with Todd for years, so I began to disregard the crap being slung at Todd over the game.

So maybe it’s not so surprising that Richard’s other friends are still with him, even though I’ve exposed the abuse.  If they’re still caught up in his web, they may not realize just how badly he’s acted, even with the evidence in their faces.  I still stayed with Richard even though I knew he almost assaulted that lady.

As one person on the Forum (where we all used to post) wrote to Todd about Richard after finding out about the court case, “He always was an a–hole, but you were his friend and didn’t notice.”  Several people on the Forum also said that Richard is a narcissist.

How the narc made me feel inferior and deficient

As the loyal supply, there were times when he would tell me I was somehow deficient in some way, and I would object, but then strive to live up to his expectations.

For example, when I tried to explain that it upset me when he kept standing me up, he made me feel like I was being clingy, so I apologized and tried to not be clingy.

For another example, one day while his whole family lived with us, I was sick of looking on my living room floor and seeing the whole family’s dirty laundry, all in a huge pile.  So I asked him to please pick it up.  He said, “You’re pushy!”  So I said, “Sorry if I seem pushy.  It’s just–It’s my living room and I want it clean!”  Then he laughed at me.  Apparently, calling me pushy was some kind of joke.

Just as he called me a prude for not liking gory movies, I got very upset by this, he kept calling me a prude over the months because I don’t like gore, then one day he told me he was just teasing me.

Or another time when he lived with us, I kept giving him strong hints every other day that he needed to take a shower, and because I showered daily, he said something about how in Roman days, I’d be spending all my time in the baths.  Basically, he made me feel like I’m obsessive about showers just because I shower daily like most Americans, and don’t like how badly he smells when he doesn’t.

But then months later he told me he was just teasing me, that growing up he was actually quite clean, and was just trying to spare my water while he lived with us.

The narc and his loyal followers–whom he could drop and now they’re scum of the earth

And he sure did crave that narcissistic supply.  After he moved in, I noticed that his cell phone was constantly ringing, even though much of the time he’d put off whoever was calling so he could continue chatting with me.

Also, after he moved out, I also began realizing that he was far more into befriending people than anyone I had ever known: Instead of online friends staying online friends unless they happened to be in the area for a meetup, he would get phone numbers and call all his online friends, making them phone friends.  And since he was into all sorts of games and forums online, there were lots of people he befriended like this.

When I tried to chat with him online, he would tell me that ten other people were also chatting with him, and that’s why his responses were so slow.  Or we’d be having a heart-to-heart, and his responses would be quick–but then he’d tell me he’s also on the phone having a heart-to-heart with his ex-girlfriend.

Then of course, there were people he met in real life: He would talk the ears off pretty much anybody, and make them into friends.  He also still regularly talked to friends he’d made many years before.

I began to wonder when he’d ever have time for his BFF with all these other friends, when we could ever have a decent online conversation, how I was to have a phone conversation when his call waiting kept beeping.  I wondered how he could possibly maintain so many active friendships.

Most people, by the time they’re married and have a family, simply don’t have the time to be actively maintaining every single friendship they’ve ever made, including online ones.  These were the days before Facebook, when you could maintain long-distance or old friendships simply by posting on a Wall.

Now I realize that this is probably an indication of narcissism, that he had to get all that narcissistic supply, surround himself with followers.

I noted that he had several heterosexual guy friends, including Chris, who were just as loyal to him as I was, craving to be with him, calling him up all the time, wanting to move to the area just so they could be with him.

So his charisma could inspire that in anyone, not just females.  I don’t know how he did this.  But somehow Richard had woven such a spell that I would soon want nothing more than to be in his company, chatting with him or giving him a big hug.

Todd was one of those loyal friends, even though they lived far apart, and when he stayed with Richard on vacation, he wrote on the forum about how much he loved being with Richard, wanted to move in with Richard for good, was actually planning it for a time.

But then, a couple years later, the blowup and fallout happened, and he began to come out of the spell.  Now, he’s the only other friend of Richard I’m aware of who no longer wants a thing to do with him because of the choking incident.

If I had still been friends with Richard when it happened, I wonder if somehow he would have convinced me that he was being persecuted by the guvmint, and I would have stayed friends with him, even though he had done a despicable act that goes against everything I believe in (choking his kid).

Even though, during the time he lived with us, he made me feel like we had bonded and had a very special friendship, that I was standing in for his beloved sister since she was so far away–now I felt like just one of many.

He was my BFF, the one I confided in about everything, the one I most wanted to see, but I felt like he wasn’t confiding in me about much of anything anymore, like he wanted to see all sorts of other people at least as much as he wanted to see me.  I didn’t feel special to him anymore, like I had to fight for his attention, which probably fed into his narcissism even more.

Who will they hurt next?  Where can I find peace of mind?

Mutual friends, face the truth, or you’ll be next.  Richard and Tracy are both unstable people, and without me around, they need a new target.  Face the truth, try to get them to face the truth, do something!

I’m sick of being afraid to run into them at church or on the street, for fear of what they’ll do.  If Richard doesn’t take his conviction seriously, if he keeps complaining about police states and the police and how we need to defend our own homes and get rid of the police and fight CPS–one day, he’s going to be the one shooting his wife or killing one of his kids.

Or Tracy will be the one killing him, because she’s violent, too.

Or at the very least, those kids are going to be so screwed up.

I don’t want to see that happen, but I’m so afraid that with the light sentence for the choking incident (one year probation), they’ll somehow fall through the cracks and the dysfunction will continue.

After all this time, I still worry like a mother hen over what will happen to Richard, what will happen to the children.  And now that he can no longer be a priest, and any political aspirations are no longer possible because of his criminal record–what will he go after next?  Will he be like Elmer Gantry and just move on to the next thing?

How can I fill that narc-shaped hole?

I feel like a shell of my former self.  Yet another sign that I’ve been targeted by narcissists.  That and the persistent feeling that I’m missing something, that Richard has to bring it back to me before I can be complete again.

It doesn’t help that he was the one I went to about religion.  He’s the one I found to help light my way when I was searching for the True Church, the original doctrines.

We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches.  We could sympathize with each other about having to go through happy-clappy modern services.

We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge; I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them; I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.

I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things; most people at church seem more interested in church functions and light conversation than with theology, and while I can discuss them with my priest, it’s not the same as discussing it for hours on the phone with a friend.

Richard was the one I always wrote to with details of church meetings or services which had been especially interesting.  Who else can I write these things to?  He and I went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy.  And he and I also had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres.

No other friend matches this.  It just seems impossible to replace him, even with his disagreeable violence and narcissism.  These were elements of our friendship which I found especially valuable and important, especially appealing, and these were the reasons I was so attached to him.

Where else am I to find someone like this?  I try to remind myself of all the violence, the narcissism, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else.

And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.  That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to us.

But that saintly version of the narc is not real

Except that this perfect friend, the image I had of this person, which was molded over the two years of online/phone friendship and the two months he alone stayed with us, diverges so much from the way he acted, and the things which came out about him, and the way he treated me, over the two years after that, that I wonder how much of this image was real, and how much was a carefully crafted persona used to attract me.

The image I had in 2007, was not the kind of person to joke about “sexing” his wife’s friends, or plan to kill a landlady, or laugh about helping the Mafia in his younger years, or defend the abusive behaviors of a wife, or be abusive himself even of little children, choking one and then acting contemptuous of the cops who charged him with it.

The image was not the kind of person who betrays friends, pushes them into questionable behavior, bullies them, or threatens them with violence.

The image was not the kind of person who puts politics and conspiracy theories higher than friends, or above the peace and serenity found in religion.

Yet that’s what he turned out to be.

Just as my ex Peter–so I was told a few years later by two guys who didn’t realize I had dated him–tailored his personality to fit the girl he was trying to attract.

Just as my ex Phil wove a web of deception which made me think he acted out his dreams, that his “subconscious” was coming out during sleep to talk with me.

Just as Richard himself once pretended to a girl that he believed in her religion, just so he could get into her pants.

Was any of it for real?  The Richard I knew in 2007 would never have choked his own child.  Yet there it is, plain as day, something he truly did.

My mind has been like the robots on the Harry Mudd episode of Star Trek, going in an endless loop between the truth and what I thought was the truth, until it finally blows up.

Before, I wondered why he stayed with Tracy, since she is so evil; now I also wonder why she stays with him after he nearly killed her child.

He was my idol with feet of clay, the saint who turned out to be a sinner.  And I’m left with this gaping hole in my life and heart where my idol, my perfect friend, once stood, with no clue how to fill it up again.  Nobody can help me because the friendship I had was so rare, so hard to find again.

And I don’t even know if he misses me or regrets what happened, if he only keeps away because he’s afraid of my husband’s anger (he must know I’d tell my husband what really happened), or afraid of Tracy beating him up if he talks to me.

Or if he’s the kind of narcissist who doesn’t care once a used-up supply is gone.  If he moved on from religion to politics and no longer wants friends who disagree with his views on, say, unions or Obama.

I hope he’s not so far on the narcissistic spectrum as to have the full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Then there’d be no hope for him at all.

Alice was unable to persuade either her mother or husband to seek proper diagnosis. But while Romero-Urcelay and Vaknin caution against self-diagnosis, Alice is extremely intelligent, and has spent many years researching her ordeal.

“It’s a huge comfort to know it’s NPD,” she says. “You realise it’s not you that’s the problem. It’s like being reborn” When Narcissism Becomes Pathological.

[Update 7/20/12:]

There may be minimal value in trying to explain their behavior to an abuser’s allies who’ve never seen it–and who wouldn’t believe it anyway. However, there is no reason to hide it either when the subject arises.

But be prepared when you do this because as I mentioned, abusers typically have an entire small city of allies (friends, coworkers, neighbors, church members, etc. who they show their pretentiously wonderful “public” persona to – and those people will never believe he’d ever do or say the nasty things he does to you (and only you).

If you try to tell them, then you may just look bad in their eyes and in their own ignorance, they’ll stick up for Dr. Jekyll because they think he’s so “wonderful” and nice. And he is nice, to THEM. Remember they only see his “nice” side – his “outside” self. Only you see Mr. Hyde – his “inside” self.

You may just end up hurting your own reputation trying to convince his allies he’s abusive. They may think you are the “crazy” one. So don’t try to convince them. Just calmly and flatly state that he’s an abuser or alcoholic or whatever the problem is, and leave it at that.” –Olivia, http://myemotionalvampire.blogspot.com/2012/07/un-masking-abuser.html

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s Mailbox, Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again, and Needing to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers.