opposite-sex friends

Wife Vs. Secretary: Musings on Jealousy

I recommend the movie Wife Vs. Secretary  (also here, here and here), which I just watched tonight [August 25, 2012] for the second time since 2008, as an example of how jealousy can ruin a perfectly good relationship.

(I’m especially interested in this movie because I was a secretary before becoming a stay-at-home mother.  The wives of my two bosses never showed any sign of worry, even though I was young, slim, etc.  Apparently times have changed.  But imagine if they’d been jealous of me–that would’ve caused a lot of trouble, and potentially jeopardized a job I needed!)

The secretary, Whitey, is attracted to Gable’s character, Van, and if he never noticed his secretary’s charms (since she is, after all, played by Jean Harlow), you’d have to check his pulse.

But their relationship is strictly business, never once becoming improper: Van’s character loves his wife passionately, and his secretary–who has brains, not just beauty–also has good character.

Yet people begin talking.  Though Myrna Loy’s character is initially very modern-thinking, all this talk makes her suspicious–leading to all sorts of trouble which never would’ve happened if only she’d ignored all the talk.

She thinks a hush-hush business deal, is actually an affair between Van and Whitey.  Her jealousy practically drives Van into Whitey’s arms.  Van says, “There’s an old Chinese proverb that says if you want to keep a man honest, never call him a liar.”

Meanwhile, Whitey’s fiancé, played by Jimmy Stewart, is also jealous of Van, which estranges Whitey and her fiancé.

As Jimmy Stewart’s character says at the end of the movie, “Gosh, all the fighting and worrying people do, it always seems to be about one thing: They don’t seem to trust each other.  Well, I’ve found this out: Don’t look for trouble where there isn’t any, because if you don’t find it, you’ll make it.  Just believe in someone.”

I noticed during the dancing scene that nobody looked at the wife funny for dancing with other men, but everybody looked at Van funny for dancing with Whitey.

It also annoys me that Whitey’s fiancé objects to her job, telling her that her having a career she likes (even after marriage) is somehow “unnatural” and works against having a home, marriage, and kids; and pushing her to quit so they can marry.

It’s also sexist to assume that a beautiful secretary was hired because of her looks.

I am very anti-jealousy.  I was raised, and socialized in, very open environments which accepted opposite-sex friendships/working relationships/church relationships as the norm.

In college, if I had objected to my boyfriends having female friends, I would’ve been dropped like a hot rock; they had female friends, I had guy friends, it was accepted whether we knew each other or not.

My friends are usually like this as well, especially my SCA friends, who see open and playful flirting as normal no matter what your marital status.

I also tend to pick up behaviors from the people I spend my time with, so I follow their lead of what is acceptable, start to open up a bit on things I was more reserved on before.  (The exceptions are things I morally object to, such as smoking or drugs or getting drunk–or cheating, which normally I don’t see my friends doing, anyway.)

The only friends of my husband whom I ever objected to, were women he’d slept with before we met.  I didn’t even object to friends of his who didn’t seem to like me for some reason, since it seemed very inappropriate to tell him who his friends should be.

So when I encounter jealous people, I don’t understand them, don’t know what makes a person want to be that way.  Wouldn’t they rather just relax and trust and enjoy life instead of wasting their time and energy being angry, suspicious and vigilant?  Wouldn’t they rather be the person their spouse can’t wait to come home to, rather than making his/her life miserable?

If you’re providing a warm, comfortable, happy relationship for your spouse to come home to, then other women/men should not be a threat.  And if they are a threat, then your spouse is a cad/caddette whom you’re better off without, anyway, so let him/her leave.  I have written about this subject at length here.

Isolation of Abuse Victims

The latest blog by Shrink4Men is on-target as usual: Abuse Tears Families Apart: A Sister Mourns the Loss of Her Brother:

Being in an abusive relationship doesn’t just hurt the target of abuse, it hurts everyone who cares about and loves the target.

In my private practice, I find I am increasingly working with family members of men who are grieving the loss, or potential loss, of a beloved son, brother, grandson, etc.

These men all had the misfortune of getting involved with and committing themselves to “Crazy” (insecure, immature, abusive, high-conflict and/or personality disordered — diagnosed and undiagnosed — women).

The families members with whom I work either have already been estranged from their sons/brothers at the mandate of the abusive, controlling spouse or girlfriend or are in the process of powerlessly watching their loved one slip away as Crazy increasingly isolates and brainwashes him into believing the worst of his family and the best of her. Common lies and distortions include:

She lists such things as, your family is rude to me/hates me/wants to tear us apart.  It would violate copyright for me to quote much more, so please go over and read the rest of that excellent article.

Not only does she say what the abusers do, but why they isolate their victims from those who could help them see the abuse for what it is, and get out.

Removing friends and family from her prey’s life who would speak up and say, ‘The way she treats you is wrong’ and help him reality test is imperative.

 

If you are watching this happen to a family member or friend, it is incredibly painful. You want to intervene and help, but Crazy probably twists your love and concern into something bad.

Yep!

From Shrink4Men:

Many of my clients often have difficulty after ending their relationships with an abusive and crazy ex. These men and women torture themselves with self-doubt (Am I doing the right thing?),

self-recrimination (Why am I so stupid? Why did I put up with her/his behavior for so long? Why did I have kids with that sadistic lunatic?)

and second-guessing (If only I’d done this; What if I’d said that?)

These thoughts and feelings are a natural byproduct of being in an abusive relationship. It’s no secret that abusive personalities groom their targets to — you guessed it — take their abuse.

They do this through a variety of methods, however, in order for any of their unconscious and conscious manipulations to work, they first need to envelop you in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt).

I also work with individuals who are distraught over seeing a beloved son, brother, grandson and/or friend willingly remain in an abusive relationship. They just don’t understand why their loved ones tolerate the abuse and stay in the relationship.

FOG is the intangible glue that keeps many men and women stuck in abusive relationships.It is often easier for outsiders to see what’s going on because they’re not caught in the disorienting and invalidating mists of an emotional FOG.

To a mom, dad, sister, brother or best friend, it can be as clear as day, but when you have your mouth wrapped around the exhaust pipe of the Crazy Fogger 3000 night and day, it’s no wonder you can’t see the forest for the trees.

For anyone who’s ever walked or driven in atmospheric fogs, you know that being in a fog can play perceptual tricks on you.

I also talk about this in Stockholm Syndrome.  I’ve seen this stuff firsthand, and how the abusers can screw up not only the lives in their own families, but the people orbiting around them.

We need to be there so that when the abused man or woman or child escapes, they can also escape the destructive message of the abuser: “You deserve this!”

But the pain and abuse affects not just the spouse, but the family and friends as well, who have to watch the abuse and feel helpless to stop it, and/or try to speak up but get rebuffed, and/or become targets of abuse as well–or even used as pawns.

Exposing your abuser is a liberating experience. Abusers use every physical and emotional tactic to isolate, intimidate and terrify you into keeping your mouth shut — it’s about power and control. When you expose your abuse by a woman it’s an empowering experience….

Exposing your abuser empowers others to do the same. Most criminologists and sociologists feel that domestic violence against men may be one of the most underreported and under prosecuted crimes in the United States.

Police ignore the problem, DA’s often refuse to prosecute the crime, then judges throw-out the charges. If a woman ever is found guilty her sentence is minimal if she receives one at all.

The more information that is out there on these women, the more difficult it is for the justice system to ignore the problem….

It helps other abused men know that they are not alone. When this writer watched the YouTube videos on a Marriage in Plano it caused physical illness.

At the same time, however, it was important to know that other women operate off the same identical script. For the first time, this blogger knew that another man shared a similar experience.

There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. —Top Ten Reasons Why Men Should Expose Abuse by a Woman  [link no longer works, so try this one instead, about documenting abuse]

 

These women lie, connive, and extort. To insult and humiliate their partner, some argue and use offensive language in the presence of others including their children. Many steal or destroy their partner’s possessions.

These women are driven by jealousy and view others as rivals. They treat their partners as possessions and strive to isolate them from friends and family.

These abusive women falsely accuse their partners of infidelity while they have affairs. These women often abuse children or animals. Nearly all exhibit erratic mood changes, feign illnesses or injuries, and most are practiced actresses.

They are not sick; they simply play the multiple roles of the terrorist, the tyrant, the fiend, and the victim….

Once your spouse or companion has chosen abuse, end the relationship promptly and irrevocably before she or he blames or accuses you of their own behavior.

Get a restraining order and change the locks, sue in civil court now and, when the assailant is your spouse, file for divorce….

When faced with the breakup of a relationship, especially a marriage, some women become vindictive, and abusive women become very dangerous.

When others (friends, relatives, police, attorneys, and judges) believe her, they join in, and the frustrated husband or partner finds himself a victim of undeserved hatred, defamation, and abuse. –Edward Steven Nunes, Abusive and Violent Women in Relationships: Recognizing the Signs of a Bully

 

Jealousy–In the beginning of a relationship, jealousy may seem like an expression of love or concern. As time passes, however, jealousy turns to entitlement and possession.

This can include falsely accusing you of having sex with others. Jealous behavior begins to isolate the victim, who may stop seeing friends, family, and spiritual advisers in order to please the jealous partner. —What are the warning signs (of abuse)?

BELIEVE JEALOUSY EQUALS LOVE

A common sign of domestic abuse is jealousy. The abuser doesn’t want his partner to speak with or form relationships with other men and women. This jealousy usually leads to the isolation of the victim from her friends.

The victim of abuse frequently defends their partner’s jealousy and confuses it with love. –Hope Wilbanks, 5 Signs of Domestic Abuse

1.Jealousy:  At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love: jealousy has nothing to do with love, it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness.

The abuser will question her about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of time she spends with family, friends, or children.

As the jealousy progresses, the abuser may call her repeatedly at work (or home) or drop by unexpectedly. The abuser may refuse to let her work for fear she will meet someone else, or exhibit other strange behaviors (like checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her).

4.Unrealistic Expectations:  The abuser becomes dependent on the woman for all needs. He expects her to be the perfect wife, mother, lover, and friend. The abuser will say things like “If you love me, I am all you need, you are all I need.”  The woman is automatically expected to know each emotional and physical need of the abuser.

5.Isolation: The abuser attempts to isolate the woman from all personal and social resources.  If she has men friends, she is a “whore”; if she has women friends, she is a lesbian; if she is close to family, she is tied to apron strings.

The abuser claims that people who are supportive of her are troublemakers and may want to live in the country without a phone, or may not let her use the car, or try to keep her from working or going to school. —Signs to Look for in an Abusive Personality

 

Isolation

The abuser will control whom the victim sees, where she goes, whom she speaks to and what she does.

This can take the form of simply not allowing her to use the phone, have her friends round or visit her family, or ensuring it simply isn’t worth it by being in a bad mood because she left some housework undone, making her feel guilty that she was out enjoying herself while he worked, or even encouraging her – theoretically – to make friends, and then discounting them or complaining that she cares more for her friends/family/hobby than she does him or is neglecting him.

Some abusers may move home frequently to prevent their victim from building a social support network.

Many abusers justify their control over their victim by stating that it is proof of their love, or that they worry about their safety when out, etc.

In reality however, the abuser needs to isolate his victim to feel secure themselves, they feel as though any relationship, be it family, friend or colleague, will undermine their authority over and take their partner away from them, i.e. poses a threat.

The effect of this isolation is that the victim feels very alone in her struggle, doesn’t have anyone with whom to do a ‘reality check’, and is ultimately more dependent on the abuser for all her social needs.

Forms of Isolation include:

* checking up on you

* accusing you of unfaithfulness

* moving to an isolated area

* ensuring you lack transport or a telephone

* making your friends or family feel uncomfortable when visiting so that they cease

* punishing you for being 10 minutes late home from work by complaining, bad moods, criticism or physical abuse

* not allowing you to leave the house on your own or taking away your passport

* demanding a report on your actions and conversations

* preventing you from working

* not allowing any activity which excludes him

* finding fault with your friends/family

* insisting on taking you to and collecting you from work

–Emotional Abuse

 

 

Contrary to what you seem to think, your average, sane guy won’t be jealous of his girlfriend’s friends. He may not like all of them, but if he values your relationship, he’ll at least be civil.

Not only that, but men who try to isolate the women in their lives often wind up beating the crap out of them once they’ve successfully driven away friends and family….

Lest you think that could never happen to you, if you look at any study of domestic violence, you’ll see that jealousy is the No. 1 predictor of domestic abuse.

Some other adjectives used to describe a typical abuser include controlling, overly critical, hypersensitive, and isolating. Sound familiar? –Judy McGuire, He’s Such a Jealous Guy!

 

The new blog The Good Wife describes being kept so isolated by her husband that it was strange for her to reach out to a friend, any friend, new or old.  [Update 6/6/15: The blog has stalled out; this explains why.]

In my Gothic story collection The Lighthouse, the stories “Candida” and “Jarkin” both describe abusive marriages; in “Candida,” the husband threatens the friend who tries to help Candida, while in “Jarkin,” the husband keeps his wife from male friends and tries to keep her from the practicing witch next door–a girl who also tries to help her.

Jarkin rages at and about the girl, while the girl tells the wife that she saw a family member get destroyed by an abusive husband who isolated her from family and friends, and will not sit back and watch it happen again.

In my College Memoirs, junior year, I detail how my ex Phil constantly complained about my friends.  They were mostly girls, and good, decent people, but he kept saying how terrible they were, that they hated him, that they were persecuting him for being Catholic.

But the truth was, they didn’t like him because they saw him treating me badly, felt he treated me like a child, though none of them mentioned this to me.

Once, I began to hang out with my friends after a meal as I usually did, with him right there beside me.  But he became petulant and angry at me for this, wanted me to leave right away.

His next girlfriend told me that he acted the same way with her, only with her job on the newspaper staff.

I also describe that, senior year, he came over to talk with me about something, but my roommates were just sitting down to watch My So-Called Life, and I wanted to join the party.

I didn’t know he was coming at that time, had already planned to do this, and I felt we could put the discussion off for one hour.  I invited him to join us.

With the lack of seating in a dorm room, my friends offered a cushioned milk crate which was used as a chair.  But he found this offensive, and walked off in a huff, later telling me that I should have defended him because they were disrespecting him.  (HUH?)

One of my friends revealed in a letter around this time, that I was not invited on some event over the summer, because nobody wanted him to come with me.

He tried to isolate me from them all the time, giving me the excuses that they were disrespecting him for being Catholic.

He even told his best friend this, and that friend, Dirk, told me–after the breakup–that an enemy of Phil’s was an enemy of his as well.

He gave our group (we were also members of a Christian group on campus) a month to shape up, or else he’d go to the school president and tell him what we were really like, and we’d be banned from the campus.  The president would be surprised because our group was his darling.

But Dirk said I was not to tell Pearl who told me this, or he’d be my enemy as well: He was a powerful foe, as well as a powerful friend.  He said I should distance myself from the group, one reason being that “our friends are reflections of ourselves.”

But how could I do such a thing?  They were my dear friends (and three were my roommies now), with me long before Phil ever was, and IV was my church when I couldn’t get into town.  I’d been called one of the “core” members, and I didn’t think IV or the people in it were bad at all.

My friends supported me now and tried to help me out now that Phil had dissed me; why would I want to be ungrateful and walk away?  And how on earth were these good people a bad reflection on me?

No, they hated Phil because he abused me, was possessive, treated me like a child.  They were witnesses one evening as he began ticking people off at a party (“drunken stork” story), then left in a huff, then called me from my dorm, making me leave the party and go be with him.

One of my friends, who had left early for a bowling party, witnessed him while he made that call, told me in 1996 that he told her, “She’ll come here, if she knows what’s good for her.”

So Phil’s true reason for hating these friends and isolating me from them was to cut me off from my supporters.  But no, he started a smear campaign against them, tried to convince me that they were bad people.

To sum up, we were publicly engaged, while secretly married, not legally but spiritually, with vows made in front of God and no one else.  So he felt entitled to my wifely submission, while I refused to say “obey” in the vows, a constant source of tension.

I felt I was equal to him and could make my own decisions, while he kept trying to force me to do what he wanted in everything, even if I found it distasteful, disgusting or painful.

For practically our entire relationship, he had me believing that he would act out his dreams and talk in his sleep, and during the summer, he even got me believing that his subconscious was “coming out” and telling me his secrets while he slept.

If there’s any doubt that I have either NVLD or Asperger’s, which have marked gullibility, my belief in these lies should quell such doubts.  Finally, he admitted that he was awake the whole time he did all these things, and made me feel like a fool.

He was controlling and emotionally abusive; my friends saw this and hated him, though they said little to me because they thought I knew he treated me like a child, and that I must be okay with it to stay with him.  But no, I didn’t realize it at the time.  I wished they had spoken up about it.

Because my friends hated him, Phil hated them, badmouthed them to me, and kept using various means to get me to spend less time with them.  He blamed me for not defending him against them.

He broke things off–which I’ve come to realize was probably not meant to be permanent, but a power play to get me to give in to all his wants, because two weeks later he was back and I was finally his crushed and subservient woman, afraid to lose him again.

During those two weeks, Dirk came to me, told me how terrible my friends were, said “Friends are a reflection of yourself,” and told me to distance myself from them to get Phil back.  I didn’t do this–heck, I lived with three of them–but I did promise to speak to one of them.  So Phil was using his friend to control me, too.

Shortly after, Phil and I got back together for a week.  But it ended abruptly when he asked my friends a “hypothetical” question which they knew was meant to chide and embarrass me, they stuck up for me, and he became furious with me for not “supporting” him.

When he met the girl he would eventually knock up and marry (then divorce later on), she had joined my old group of friends, who were still at school after I graduated.

They were surprised when she brought him to a restaurant with them one day, and all sat at another table so as not to be with him.  They saw the same patterns repeating themselves, only worse.  They even tried to get her to not marry him.

But it was all for naught, and eventually they divorced.

See the comment section for this Carolyn Hax column:  Wife asks if husband’s friends dislike her, and they do; what now?

There were a few people in the comments section saying that the friends were “disrespecting” the wife and the letter writer needed to get new friends.

But plenty of other commenters turned that around, saying (paraphrasing), “What if it were a woman writing in?  Would you tell her, Ditch your friends for disrespecting your husband by telling you he’s spiteful and controlling?”

They showed how such advice would be unthinkable if the letter writer were a woman, to advise her to give up her support system and isolate herself from the people who did not like her abusive husband.

They showed how it was a sign of good friends–and people who could help the abuse victim get out of his/her situation–for the friends to speak up about what the abuser was doing.

And how on earth is one of the friends supposed to speak directly to the abuser about it?  I’ve seen for myself how the abuser will turn that around on you, start a smear campaign against you, drive a wedge between you and the abused, and proceed to abuse you as well!  How does that help the abused?

If you’re in this situation, or know somebody who is, please see my page on Abuse.  It’s full of helpful links, arranged by category.

 

Blogging the Parasite out of my Head: Writing about the abuse

[Update: The full web book is here: The Darkness Engulfs Me: Abuse by Two Narcissists–and Betrayal by a Best Friend and Spiritual Mentor.  A summary is here.]

 

The narcissist blames others for his behaviour, accuses them of provoking him into his temper tantrums and believes firmly that “they” should be punished for their “misbehaviour”.

Apologies – unless accompanied by verbal or other humiliation – are not enough. The fuel of the narcissist’s rage is spent mainly on vitriolic verbal send-offs directed at the (often imaginary) perpetrator of the (oft innocuous) offence.

The narcissist – wittingly or not – utilises people to buttress his self-image and to regulate his sense of self-worth. As long and in as much as they are instrumental in achieving these goals, he holds them in high regard, they are valuable to him. He sees them only through this lens.

This is a result of his inability to love others: he lacks empathy, he thinks utility, and, thus, he reduces others to mere instruments.

If they cease to “function”, if, no matter how inadvertently, they cause him to doubt his illusory, half-baked, self-esteem – they are subjected to a reign of terror.

The narcissist then proceeds to hurt these “insubordinates”. He belittles and humiliates them. He displays aggression and violence in myriad forms.

His behaviour metamorphoses, kaleidoscopically, from over-valuing (idealising) the useful person – to a severe devaluation of same. The narcissist abhors, almost physiologically, people judged by him to be “useless”. —The Soul of a Narcissist by Sam Vaknin

I hope this will be cathartic, get the truth out, so that I can heal from what has emotionally and spiritually traumatized me.  I hope to make it (and my private account) a repository for all the hurt, pain, anger and bitterness, so that I can transfer it out of my heart.

I have dealt with previous abusive situations in this way, putting them into writing and then posting them on the Web, and it has been largely successful in helping me move on past those times.

I feel that if I just make it vanish, hide the story, it will do no more good than it did with my previous abuse stories.

For example, right after college I began writing College Memoirs, which were a combination of good things and life during that time, and the terrible things that happened with guys who used and abused (I hesitate to refer to them as “men”).

I was going to publish them, but feared libel suits, so I began putting the stories into my fiction instead.

But since the demands of fiction are that you don’t put your own life stories into your stories exactly as they occurred, or else your stories will appear pieced together like Frankenstein, I didn’t feel like my stories of abuse were quite dealt with yet.

I also read an article in Writer’s Digest about writing and publishing abuse stories, and the healing it can bring:

Harrison told her editor that she wanted to write a nonfiction book about her relationship with her father. Because the editor had published Harrison’s autobiographical first novel, she asked if she was sure she wanted to do that.

Harrison was sure. In fact, she’d been trying to write about her father in an essay but felt she was trying to do too much in too short a space. Feeling as if she’d betrayed herself and her story by first writing about the affair as fiction, she had a compelling need to set the record straight.

…“One of the solaces that art can offer you is the chance to make something out of what’s hurt you. You can objectify an experience, put it on paper, craft it and shape it. There’s perhaps an illusory control over it. But it is significant.” –Sandra Hurtes, Spilling Secrets

So I posted a public version of my College Memoirs, first in e-mails to friends, then on a Myspace blog, then on my website.

Even though they don’t get many hits, the stories have been read by some, and in the past several years, I feel myself finally moving past these things that happened 15-20 years ago.  They are on the Webpages now and don’t have to be carried around inside me.

I also have a full account of what happened in this new case, but it is so personal and private that I keep it locked away from anyone but myself.  Just as with the College Memoirs, I have a personal and a private version.

My hope is that this blog will have the same effect as those public Memoirs.  It has been said many times that the abused need to get their stories out into the open, not hide them for fear of “airing dirty laundry,” because that just victimizes them further.

I’ve been revising a full account of the abusive situation with Richard and Tracy–book-length–which I wrote before I wrote these smaller summaries and blog posts.  I intend to post a link to it when I’m done, because it’s far too long for a blog post.

[Update 1/22/14: It’s been up since May 2012, and now I’m revising it again, and putting it in small chunks on this blog as well.]

As I work on it, it answers questions that come up.  For example, I was starting to feel like Tracy was right and the disagreements were my fault.  But as I reviewed the details of the time we lived in the same house, I began to remember:

No, what really happened was that I saw her behavior as a mix of jealousy and abuse, of control, and it was part of a full picture of abuse, not just about her objecting to a couple of things I wanted to do.

It was about all the crap I saw her doing to Richard and the kids every day.  It was about a battered man defending his battering.  It was about her smacking his arm and giving him looks so full of anger and threat, that he looked scared.

It was about her overhearing me telling my husband not just about her jealousy, but about her abusive behavior of Richard and the children.

It was about her starting a smear campaign against me, deliberately to drive a wedge between Richard and me.

Because it was never about me being a woman friend of her husband (he has lots of those), but about me recognizing that she is indeed a domestic abuser and violent.

Jealousy was just her red herring, the thing she seized upon so she could make Richard and anybody else think it was all about me behaving “inappropriately.”

Even though the things she objected to were all perfectly harmless, and Richard’s idea to begin with, she twisted them around to make me look bad, because she couldn’t let anybody think that she is abusive, controlling and possessive.

The things I wanted to do were perfectly harmless, and there was nothing wrong with me wanting to do them.  Richard does them, my friends do them, people do these things with their friends.

She actually accused me of disrespecting her by wanting to go out for coffee/ice cream with Richard, but that’s ludicrous BS, as anyone can see.  As long as the wife knows you’re going out for the coffee/ice cream, that’s all you need for it to be perfectly “respectful,” so she knows her husband isn’t sneaking around having an affair.

No, she had to put the spotlight all on me with all her ridiculous “rules” which I couldn’t possibly meet–

–so she could continue doing her bad behaviors in the darkness–

–so that Richard would never break free of her control.

The trouble is, she so successfully convinced Richard of her smears, and so successfully turned things around on me, that on 7/1/10, she still made it all about me, still tried to insist that I was the one in the “wrong”–

–not because I was actually wrong–

–but to take the focus off her and her own abuse and bad behaviors.

The other trouble is that abusers can so worm their way into your head, that even though a part of you screams that you’re not the one in the wrong, you’re not the one behaving badly–another part of you keeps thinking, “What if she’s right?  What if I really am the one behaving badly?”

I’ve been fighting this for years, not since 7/1/10 or the e-mails she sent me 8/1/10, but since January 2008.

It gets imbedded so deeply that it almost seems impossible to get out.  It’s like a parasite.

Blogging is helping me to get it out, finally, because:

  • not only can I write about what happened,
  • but I have all sorts of private writings which I can look back at later and see what I wrote,
  • and I also have this foundation already written, on which I can build with more memories and insights as they come to me.

I thought maybe I shouldn’t blog about this, just keep it under wraps.  But now I see that it must come out, that silence is just what bullies want out of their victims.

And if Richard or Tracy sees it, so be it.  This is what Richard and Tracy are truly like.  I am not lying. 

And I have online court records and newspaper reports to prove that I am telling the truth about them. 

[Update: They found it just two months after I posted this, and both accused me of lying and threatened me, as you can read here.]

I must keep blogging to get the parasite out of my system once and for all, so I can be free at last of Tracy’s influence.

Step 1

Learn more about the dynamics of what happened to you by reading the personal accounts of victims recovering from similar abuse. When you find out that you are not alone and how others are coping with the same type of abuse, it will assist your recovery progress significantly.

With severe abuse, often the abused individual is locked into a fixed and rigid perspective about what has happened to them and what will happen because of the abuse.

From the personal stories of other similar abuse victims in the recovery process, you will begin to unlock your perspective of things and see your abuse from other new and important perspectives.

This simple change of perspective and seeing new perspectives has amazing healing powers.

These personal stories are not professional “How to” recovery manuals. They do what professional abuse recovery manuals simply cannot do, because no matter how expert the professionals are (unless they were also similarly abused), they cannot see the specific abuse experience from the complex inside dynamics as only another abuse victim can.

For example, at FACTNet we suggest that an individual who was sexually abused as a child by a cult that condones the sexual use and abuse of children should read the stories and recovery debriefings of other victims of that cult or similar cults who were sexually abused. Read and heal! –Lawrence Wollersheim, How I healed the psychological injuries from my abuse in a cult

I have all parts of this story now up and running.  Here it is, the whole ugly story, here for various reasons:

  • to defend myself and my innocence
  • to break the silence which abusers want their victims to keep
  • to get Tracy’s parasite out of my head
  • to have peace and remove Tracy’s destructive poison through this surgical removal (ie, writing about it) out of my heart and onto the [digital] page
  • to warn others about how narcissists and other personality disordered persons can work
  • to sympathize with those with NLD, Asperger’s and introversion who are bullied by those who do not understand them
  • to stick up for all abused and bullied people
  • to provide help for those abused people who feel driven to read the abuse stories of others

I recall how hard it was to find stories of people who had been abused by friends or spouses of friends rather than by family, co-workers, classmates or significant others; this adds one more.  I know what it’s like to constantly search the web looking for stories of other people, in various stages of their healing journey, who have been through abuse in some way.

They may rage at their targets in verbally and emotionally abusive ways. Yet they have the gall to blame the target for the abusive language and emotions they are showing. This is known as projection.

It seems they want to distract from their own questionable behaviors, so they will blame somebody else for doing worse. And they love to play victim of imagined hurts and spites from their targets.

Borderlines are often very controlling, frequently while accusing a victim of theirs as being controlling or uncaring.

Using emotional blackmail and threats of false reports to the police or others who might be duped into taking their side are some of the ways they establish and maintain control.

The discussion is primarily about them and their inner emotional turmoil, not so much about the target. They are upset and somebody else has to be blamed for it whether it’s accurate or not.

Imagine living with these kinds of exchanges on daily basis. The frequent unpredictability, jabs, blaming sessions, and insults make you feel insecure and cut down your self-esteem over time. You’re being abused, but are at the same time are being falsely accused of being the abuser.

This is particularly difficult for men to handle as they are socially conditioned to try to take responsibility for fixing problems. Yet BPD is not a problem a significant other can solve. –Rob, Talking with a borderline

My Trip to Oz and Back is much like my own blogs, an account of two years spent by the writer with her girlfriend, which was actually a 50-page letter sent by the author to her ex-girlfriend.

That was in the late 90s, when the author had never heard of borderline personality disorder, so there had been no official diagnosis for her to point to.  But the more she learned about BPD, the more she knew her ex-girlfriend had it, so she posted this letter to help others who are dealing with someone with BPD.

It has been on the Web since 2003, and by November 2006 had received 53,000 hits.  As the author wrote on the main page,

Writing this was cathartic. It doubled as a form of therapy. I actually did send the letter; however, I doubt that it had much effect.  The more I learned about BPD, the more I realized that the likelihood of this person ever really understanding, was probably close to zero….

Why would I want to put such a personal document online?  There are several reasons. First, I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of what it is like to be in a relationship with a person with BPD. There are many books and websites on BPD, but relatively few from a significant other’s point of view.

Second, I am hoping that someone out there might read a bit and identify with it.  When one is in a difficult situation, sometimes just hearing about another person’s similar experience can be affirming–as in, “I’m not the only one.”

Finally, I consider myself a success story–see the final chapter, the epilogue.  My wish is to give hope to others.

Like me, the author changed names and identifying details.  This is to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.  Joyful Alive Woman also wrote about her abusive, narcissist, former female friend.

The contents of the web-book:

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

 

Who’s the Neanderthal here?: On Jealousy and Opposite-Sex Friends

Just read the latest Annie’s Mailbox and the comments made by readers.  That poor woman, Betty–sends an old friend and co-worker a nice Christmas card, trying to get back in touch, and now people who don’t even know her are saying such things as,

HE IS OBVIOUSLY IS 5CREWING AROUND WITH THIS 5TINKING VVHORE.  ANYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE IS  BLIND, RETARDED NEANDERTHAL. (commenter on the Arcamax link [now removed])

People are saying things like, the note was too personal.  One commenter said,

Sorry I don’t know any woman outside of a formal requirement who would send a card to a married man she wasn’t plowing, missed plowing, or was wanting to plow for exactly the reasons listed here.

I feel sorry for this poor Betty.  For one thing, it’s been three years and, from what she wrote, it sounds like they haven’t seen each other in those three years.  We have nothing more to go on than a jealous wife’s claims–and even her children are telling her to let it go, already.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Fortunately, most of the commenters on these two sites are far more reasonable, and modern, and see this as an innocent note which the wife is blowing way out of proportion.  They’re far more concerned about the husband’s actions.

But as has also been noted, while his actions could be those of a guilty party, they’re also likely to be those of a guy who knows he’s innocent and doesn’t want to get into a fight with his jealous wife.

An affair is not at all the only reason why some people hide things from their spouses: Some people will fly off the handle about things that do not deserve it.  So either way, Bill and his wife need counseling.

I mean, geez, I send notes like that to people all the time.  Maybe a Christmas card, maybe a letter, Facebook post, an e-mail.  Male, female, married, single, it makes no difference.  And I’m a respectable woman who does not go around trying to “plow” anybody but my own husband.

My husband, too, looked at the column, and said that Betty did nothing wrong.  He said it’s quite likely that “Bill” just feels like he’s doing nothing wrong, does not want to be forced to drop an innocent friend–especially if he’s feeling lonely and missing his old co-workers–and doesn’t want to get into an argument over it, so that’s why he hides it.  And note that he did try to display the Christmas card; why would he do that if Betty were his mistress?

It just burns me up that there are still people who think that jealousy without actual cause (this card from Betty is hardly cause) and trying to control their spouses is somehow “right.”  That people are accusing this Betty of things that she probably was not doing.

People need to lighten up already.  The circles I’m used to, are far more relaxed about opposite-sex friends.  I’ve even been accused of keeping my husband on a “long leash” because I didn’t want him to share a hotel room with one of our female friends for an out-of-town medieval recreation (SCA) event.  (I’m still scratching my head over that one, but it shows the general mindset of faith and trust of the people I’m used to being around.)

Faith and trust leads to long marriages.  If your spouse still cheats on you, it’ll all be on his own head, not yours for being a shrew who drove him away.  It’s often been noted that jealousy can actually drive your spouse into the arms of somebody else.  Be the one he wants to come home to, not the one he wants to get away from.

As commenter #76 stated, and as I have stated myself in the past, marriage does not equal ownership.  You’re not the jailer keeping your spouse under lock and key, only letting them do what you okay.  You are two partners, and two individuals.  Jealousy is actually the number one indicator of a potentially abusive marriage.

See here for Carolyn Hax’s view on the subject.  Control is also a crucial element of spousal abuse, as is isolation from family and friends.  Controlling your spouse’s friendships, having to “approve” friendships, is a huge indicator of abuse.

Imagine Bill being in the place of the wife; would jealous behavior seem so appropriate if his wife had received this card from a friend?  Of course not!

And imagine if it had come from a same-sex friend.  The wording is exactly the same, but now it seems perfectly innocent.

People are reading in subtext when they should be looking at the actual words, not their imaginations.  Subtext gets you into trouble–as is evident on Internet forums when people often start getting into fights over things that nobody actually said.

A few commenters had a much better idea: The wife should be pleasant about it all, ask to meet the friend, maybe make a day of it while she goes off shopping afterwards and lets them catch up for an hour, then wife and Bill go see the grandkids.

Being aware of a friendship is perfectly fine; you don’t have to be best friends with the person yourself, but it’s good to know what’s going on, and to meet the person.  If Bill balks at that, then you can smell trouble.

Besides, it may turn out that Betty is older than him, or hasn’t aged well.  Or even if she’s young and pretty, maybe she has zero romantic interest in a guy old enough to be her father, sees him as a father figure or mentor, and misses their long talks about her problems with her boyfriend/in-laws/abuse/etc.  Or maybe she’s a lesbian.  Or very plain.  You can’t tell just from one card.

If it’s a mirror you want, just look into my eyes
Or a whipping boy, someone to despise
Or a prisoner in the dark
Tied up in chains you just can’t see
Or a beast in a gilded cage
That’s all some people ever want to be

If you love somebody, set them free

You can’t control an independent heart
Can’t tear the one you love apart
Forever conditioned to believe that we can’t live
We can’t live here and be happy with less
So many riches, so many souls
Everything we see we want to possess

If you need somebody, call my name
If you want someone, you can do the same
If you want to keep something precious
You got to lock it up and throw away the key
If you want to hold onto your possession
Don’t even think about me

–Sting, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

If you never give him room
You’re gonna lose.
He’s feeling like he’s tied up in a knot
Ev’ry time he comes home late he’s on the spot.
Trust him to be the kind of man he wants to be
You aren’t gonna keep him long if you give him
The third degree.

Let him go
Let him go
Do the things he’s got to do

Give him the freedom that he needs even though it worries you.
Let him go
Let him go
Have the faith that he’ll be true
It’s the only way you can be sure he’ll come back to you.

You want your life with him to work so well
You forget the love you need to give yourself.
I understand your desire to keep him near
But you poison love when you mix it up with fear.
Trust yourself to be the woman that you want to be
If you both have room to grow
Then you’ll live in harmony.

–Animotion, Let Him Go

 

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”