quiet

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”

After his conviction, Richard comes to my church

To my shock, Richard showed up at my church today.  I hadn’t seen him there since last Christmas, and thought that–ever since I reported him to Social Services and he got convicted of choking his kid–he would never show up at my church again, out of shame, knowing or suspecting that I know what he did.  (The Forum was shocked as well.)

But there he was, so who knows when he could show up again.  Every week maybe?  And my church is TINY.  It’s hard to stay at opposite ends of the church in a church that small.  Staying at opposite ends means staying a yard or two apart.  Because of this, even though Jeff normally drops me off and leaves (he’s Lutheran), he stayed nearby as moral support–or a kind of bodyguard.

But I did note a few things.  They may mean nothing, or they may mean something, I don’t know: Richard was very quiet during the service, even during the Creed.  I didn’t hear him and he was just two or three pews back with nobody in between.  He did not go to get the Eucharist.

Only two children were with him: The child he choked was not there.  The youngest also was not there, and neither was Tracy.

He was right behind me in the line to get blessed bread from the priest, but said nothing to me.  Of course, I was sending out clear body language to “stay away.”

Unlike the first or second time I saw them at my church after everything went down, this time I’m given strength by the knowledge that I should not cower in shame from someone who did such a horrible thing to a little kid.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two children who were there.  Child #1 is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’ll pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Child #2 is older, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got Child #2’s scolding eyes.  She said things like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”

Jeff tells me he also got her scolding eyes.  But you can’t tell a little child, “Sorry, but we can’t come to your house anymore because your mother is nasty and your father choked your sister.”  So instead, I said, “We miss you, too.”

I hate to see children suffer from the sins of the parents.  I keep praying that the probation officer and Social Services are working to change things for those girls so they can break the cycle.

Jeff does not want to be friends with these people again.

[The case also showed up in the local newspaper’s printed listing of court cases, in November, showing his name, the ruling, and the amount of the fine.]

I posted on Facebook a dedication to Richard: “Suedehead” by Morrissey:

Why do you come here?  And why do you hang around?  Why do you come here When you know it makes things hard for me?  When you know, oh…Why do you come?

I also wrote:

Today I was put in the extremely uncomfortable and heartbreaking position of talking to a child who didn’t understand why I don’t come around anymore, and seeing the scold in her eyes.

“It was fun playing at your house,” she said.  “We miss you,” she said.

But you can’t tell a child that her parents’ disgraceful behavior is the reason.  “We miss you, too,” was all I could say.

I don’t get it–Why does he come to my church if he’s not going to try to make things right with us?  It’s supposed to be my refuge, my peaceful place.  But he keeps showing up there like a bad penny.

He has his own church.  What he did to me, has put me into my own Long Dark Night of the Soul; when he choked his daughter, I was horrified; and when I see him again, it’s a setback, when I’ve come so far along.

Every Sunday service, I’m afraid to go because he might be there.  Why doesn’t he leave me alone?

Dude, I don’t hate you, but I am extremely disappointed in you.  I expected much better of you…….

Then I posted a link to my blog post, Healing Takes a Long Time.  Some excerpts:

I had thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.  A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.  They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Hubby stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.

The other one is 7, and upset at Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Hubby also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.

I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.

All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Hubby and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

[5/4/14: Instead, he just spent the whole time ignoring us, making no move to make peace with us, instead telling one of my fellow parishioners about his conversion to Orthodoxy. 

His conversion–hmph–What a joke!  Was that an Orthodox way to treat us, Richard?  You’re no Christian!]

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”  But in my heart I just don’t believe that.

I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He had never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.

If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

[Below was added in spring 2014.]

Tracy accused me of breaking off relations with her because I needed to “grow up” and accept the “consequences” of my “behavior.” 

No, we broke off relations with her because she’s a screaming harpy, a child abuser, a husband beater, and an abusive friend who bullies shy, quiet, gentle people. 

We had already considered breaking off relations with her several times before that, even considered reporting her to CPS before the breakup. 

Her behavior on July 1, 2010 was the last straw. 

And now we have proof, in black and white, and in the state’s court records, that Richard is also a child abuser, making his loss no longer the tragedy I thought it was.

But I still suffered from residual pain and grief over his loss.

On October 31, 2011, the newspaper published this letter I sent to the editor:

I commend Jaymee Barton (“Surviving Violence,” Oct. 24) for speaking out on domestic abuse and [two local newspapers] for publishing stories about this issue over the past year.

An earlier article, “Injuries to Child Raise Questions” (Aug. 26), discussed sentencing for child abusers.  Recently, a local man who choked his young daughter was charged with two felonies.  But through plea bargaining, his sentence became probation, no jail time.

How can this happen with such a despicable act?  Is that child being protected?  Domestic abuse is far too common – husbands abusing wives emotionally, verbally and/or physically, wives abusing husbands in the same way, husbands and wives abusing each other, parents abusing children.

And keep in mind that “domestic abuse” [in Wisconsin] applies to anyone living together, including roommates.  People laugh at women abusing men, but it happens quite a bit, even physically.  Even going to counseling can be a way for the abuser to control the abused by manipulating the counselor.

I also commend Social Services and the police in trying to stop abuse.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects abuse should report it to the police or Social Services to help them do their job protecting those who can’t protect themselves.  And I hope the abused, even children, will have the courage to tell someone who can help.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

Fear of it all happening again with new friends–but relief as well

This movie, Narrow Bridge, has its faults, but it’s an engaging story.  (Turns out the production values are because it was done by a film student with few resources.)

Not only do we get to see a sweet love story and be immersed into the Orthodox Jewish practices of the protagonist, but he has a terrible secret as well:

As a child, his rebbe, someone he looked up to and loved like a father, his spiritual mentor, the one who taught him to love his religion, molested him.

It has caused him to question his faith, despite sticking to it.  Now he needs to face up to what happened, do a mitzvah–good deed–by doing something about it.

Apparently the Jewish community has had to deal with the same problems as the American Catholic Church.

This movie depicts the struggles of someone who, like me, has to deal with some sort of betrayal or abuse by the very person who led him to truly believe in and love his faith.  [Written April 7, 2011.]

I’m trying to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  The trouble is I’m afraid to really open up to anyone except for old friends and family.

Just as I did back when I had a few traumatic romantic breakups in college, I start thinking, “Will this wonderful new friendship one day end in a nasty breakup and I’ll look back at these great new memories with sorrow?”  I wonder if I can truly trust anyone unless they’ve proven themselves over many years already.

This is because not only did Tracy bully me, but Richard–the one I trusted and told my secrets to–allowed the bullying, then eventually began snarking at me, embarrassing me publicly on his Facebook page, and yelling at me as well.

I want to feel safe enough to hug friends, but instead feel closed-off and physically reserved.

On the one hand I’m afraid I’m doing too little to establish friendships; on the other, I’m afraid of doing too much and smothering people.  On the one hand I want to have friends; on the other, I want to hide in my house from the cold, cruel world, full of unreasonable, jealous spouses and abusive people.

I still cringe when I hear Tracy’s name, or jump when I see their vehicle driving past me as I walk along the sidewalk.

I’m far more leery of speaking to a mutual friend, such as Chris; I’m afraid that what I say will get back to them, that Chris will tell me things that will hurl me back into my depressed, nearly suicidal state right after the breakup.

(2011 update: Of course, as of early 2011 that’s moot anyway, as he’s vanished from my Facebook friends list and hasn’t responded to my friend request.  I only have contact with him through Facebook, since he moved out of state.)

Old friends are finally starting to come out of the woodwork, thanks to Facebook reconnecting us.  I often chat with old friends and family on Facebook, as well, sometimes till the wee hours of the morning.

It’s comforting to the soul to read what people I’ve known throughout my life, say about me on Facebook or via e-mail: should be more people like me, a sweetheart, a nice person who deserves to have friends who are kind to me, etc.  No one is making them say these things, so I believe they are sincere.

It’s comforting to hear from one of my oldest and dearest male friends (Mike) that his wife is not jealous, doesn’t care to read his chats to his friends even if they’re female, doesn’t go through his cell phone, doesn’t care to friend his friends on Facebook just because they’re his friends, etc.

I know I have faults, and my missteps haunt me for years.  I constantly go back over things that happened even in college to examine and analyze them for my own faults.  But that doesn’t make me a bad person.

No, deliberately hurting people and being evil, not caring how you affect others, that makes a bad person.

This Memorial Day [2011], it was a great relief to have over to our house old friends, who did NOT snark at me for stupid stuff, who did NOT make fun of me, who did NOT make me feel like a jerk because of my quietness, but who instead gave me good, long hugs and understood that it’s just my way.  (Note the contrast to Memorial Day the previous year!)

It’s also good to go on Facebook and feel free to post political statements which are much different from Richard’s or Tracy’s.  To not hear from Richard how he hates Democrats, doesn’t see them as real Christians, etc.  To agree with the views of the opposing party without fearing that Richard will put me in the ranks of his political enemies.

It’s good to not hear him rail against things that do not actually happen: He thought the government would force his kids to get swine flu vaccine, and he said he would refuse even if his own daughter got sick from swine flu and died.

It never happened, and the swine flu vaccine is not in any way the danger the conspiracy theorists told him it would be.  My family took the vaccine and did just fine.

He said the credit card companies would raise their interest rates in the following year (2010) to 90%; it never happened.

Chris, a Constitutionalist, talked about a coming economic collapse that would be so bad that we would all be scratching out our livings from the land, and acted like I was being naïve for not believing this; it never happened.

It’s good to not hear Richard railing against NBC or CNN and how they must be boycotted.

To not hear him proclaim that his children will refuse to say that socialist pledge of allegiance if the schools try to force them into it.

To not see Facebook posts from him that seem to praise anarchistic militia groups, or treat unions and soldiers and policemen like they’re all universally evil (my brothers were soldiers), or claim that the flag is actually a military flag so the country is secretly keeping us under martial law by making us think it’s the correct flag….

When he sent me a link explaining this, I debunked it in in two minutes via Googling and told him so.  This was maybe a couple of months before the Incident, and about the time I noticed he wasn’t calling anymore except when he wanted something, had turned distant and sarcastic, even when we hung out in person.

I began to partially blame his wacko politics for him distancing himself from me and turning into a jerk, since it seemed like the way he began treating me and others, was behavior that was quite common in his political circles.

He didn’t use to post this tripe on his Facebook, but now he did, and treated me like crap for the things I posted in response, said people were complaining to him about what I was posting!  His posts used to be about more normal things, but he turned his personal Facebook account into a political platform, and even promoted anarchy!

I didn’t watch The Daily Show or Colbert Report much before, but in the past year I’ve been watching them faithfully, as a relief, a balm to the soul, a release from the angst of spending about six months to a year of dealing with Richard’s wackier and wackier political ravings.

Occasionally I post clips on Facebook from those shows; imagine the backlash from Richard if he were still on my friends list!

Imagine how he might have responded to my posts while our state was going through serious political infighting several months ago (thanks to the evil new governor, Walker)!  I’m almost certain we were on diametrically opposed sides during that time.  [This was written around the middle of 2011.]

It’s good to not hear his extremist views anymore, wondering how someone of such high intelligence can fall for conspiracy theories, how a religious person can tout such heartless and extreme changes in government and society that would cause chaos and suffering for years if they were actually put in place–and which would harm his own family….

It’s a relief to talk with the very same dear, old male friend (Mike) whom Richard called an “idiot” (for, incidentally, having the same views I did on the president and how well he’s doing his job), and hear sensible things from him about life, dealing with people, and politics.

Richard, on the other hand, was getting so clueless lately, seeing apologies as capitulation, acting as if he or his wife should be allowed to bluster all they wanted and their friends should just deal with it and take it….

In the beginning Richard had seemed so sweet and gentle, but now he was turning into a jerk.  While my other friend, the one he called an “idiot,” had always been sweet and gentle, and never changed from that over all the years I’ve known him.  Sure he has his moments of temper, but he realizes that apologies are necessary.  And he doesn’t let politics or a devotion to capitalism overrun his heart, his compassion.

It’s good to not have to interact with Tracy anymore.  Losing her from my life has not broken my heart.  

It’s good to not sit and watch/listen as Tracy verbally abuses Richard, picks on the eldest child, calls her stupid, ridicules the children, gets upset at the children for acting like children, smacks the little one upside the head, screeches at the kids, or goes off in fury on two of the children.

I noticed that when the little one was still a baby, she was a happy child, treated well by her parents.  But when she got a bit older, maybe around 3, she began getting the same abuses as the older ones, and even began acting out.  She and the oldest both were acting out in ways that I don’t want to post here.

While Richard couldn’t figure out why, I held my tongue, because I knew exactly why: because of the way Tracy was treating them.

Now there’s another baby, who also is being treated well, but I just know that in another year or so, she’ll start getting it as well–unless, of course, the actions I took to change things, are having a positive effect.  [This was written before July 1, 2011, when I learned about Richard’s criminal charges.]

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

An old friend shows me that Richard and Tracy were deceivers, never friends

I found my old high school friend Becky on Facebook in February 2011.  On the 2nd, I sent her this message:

What a year it’s been.  I actually saw a friendship crash and burn last year because of Facebook posts and messages.

I had a very close, dear friend, R., who I met on an Internet forum about 5 or 6 years ago.   I was searching for a spiritual home, a church which I could believe in, and he helped me find my way, so he became my spiritual mentor.

A few years ago he needed to find a better life for his family, and couldn’t stand [old states] anymore, so he came to stay with us for a while until he found a job around Fond du Lac.

We were getting along great, he finally found a job, but then somehow the rest of his family followed and ended up staying in our tiny condo before he had the means to get an apartment lined up.

I don’t remember okaying it; one day he just told us they were coming, though it wasn’t part of the agreement.   Wife and 3 little kids.

So we’re talking 4 adults and 4 small children in one 1100-square-foot condo.  Who don’t clean up after themselves.   For a month and a half. !!!  And the wife, T., turned out to be abusive of her family and very jealous of me.  Argh!

I kept wanting to toss her out on her ear for the things she said and did, but instead I was stuck with her 24 hours a day for weeks.   I didn’t want anything more to do with her, but didn’t want to give up my friend R., either.

It had been so long since I had a good friend right in town to talk to.   That, and my son loved playing with their kids, and Jeff loved playing D&D with them.

So I tried to tolerate her, even though she kept bullying me for being quiet and shy.  The more she bullied me, the less I was able to speak to her.

But eventually, I thought everything was finally sorted out.  Then early last year, R. started getting snarky with me on Facebook, especially over politics, and T. even more so; he and I had some arguments via e-mail.

Just when I thought he and I finally had things sorted out, T. saw something I sent him and completely misinterpreted it.  (Remember the bit about her being jealous.)

The resulting fallout led to Jeff and me saying that’s it, we’re through with her drama, and we’re not too happy with R., either, for throwing me under the bus.

You’d think she’d be happy to have me gone, but no, she got mad at us for breaking things off and had quite a few choice words to say about it.   I don’t get her at all.

Both of them seem to think that I should just roll over and take all the verbal abuse she threw at me, even though when I tried in a far more polite way to discuss the problems I had with him, he talked as if I should just shut up about it or leave him alone.  It’s a huge double standard.

And after all we’ve done to help them out, too….

It’s been 7 months now and I’m still trying to recover from it. 

It’s affected me spiritually as well because R. had so much to do with me choosing the Orthodox Church, and now I get so cynical about religion at times, especially when I see T. going up for communion without ever apologizing for the things she’s done to me.

(I’ve apologized to her, because I know I did some things wrong as well, but never got [an apology] from her.)  When I met R. online I thought he was a different person from what he actually turned out to be.  I thought he was pious, but it’s like he never quite left his old life behind….

I just keep hoping T. will realize her own part in things and apologize, but Jeff says it’s not likely.  Until she does, the friendship is over….

Then while I was still reeling from that, one of my old high school friends suddenly remembered who I was.  When I first friended him on Facebook, he didn’t recognize my name because it had changed.   But then he figured out, “Oh, it’s YOU!”

Turns out he had this major crush on me senior year.  We talked every day in class, but he never said a word about it, so I thought we were just friends.  He tried to find me after graduation, but didn’t know how.

It makes me wonder how many other guys had a thing for me but never said anything.  And I keep thinking that the summer of 1991 could’ve been like Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court (Say Anything)…..

Seeing me on Facebook brought it all back.  He was going through a separation from his wife, so he didn’t have a stable marriage to keep him grounded.

He couldn’t deal with the feelings, since I’m happily married and can’t return them, so he finally unfriended me.  It was very sad, surprising, shocking….I miss seeing his posts in my news feed…..

I had told him about the problems I had with R. and T., and he said, “Don’t take it personally.  You’re beautiful and intelligent and any woman would consider you a threat.”

Of course, I had never thought of myself as a threat, but far too shy and reserved for that.  I certainly never had problems with friends’ wives before this.

Becky responded on the 9th:

This whole thing with the friend is horrible!  I think you are so much sweeter than me because the minute the rest of the family would have showed up … they all would have been dismissed and your friend would have received a full lesson on proper boundaries and etiquette.

You are very gracious because his wife sounds like a manipulator and he sounds like a mess so you are actually better off without him.. because he sounds like he was a manipulator too and he was using you and your husband.

I am surprised your husband didn’t throw them all out and I really can’t believe he let a man come live with you guys.  Most men would never allow that.  I am amazed.  He is either just a very nice guy or he trusts you completely or both.

You have always been shy and kind and it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Those are very rare qualities -especially in today’s world and you should not feel bad about that.

I replied:

Yeah, Jeff’s parents told him he shouldn’t have let things go so far, that as soon as I started hearing T. complain about the food etc., we should’ve politely shown them the door.

I remember getting Jeff alone in a spot on the stairs while they were in the basement one night, and telling him everything that was going on.  He was so upset that I thought he was going to kick them out, but instead he just put on his mad face to them and said nothing….

After that I started overhearing some really catty remarks about me while T. would be on the phone….It was a year and a half before anybody told me she overheard my conversation with Jeff and got furious.

I noticed these last few years that I was always supposed to suck up to her and befriend her and such or else I wouldn’t be allowed to do much of anything with R. that his other friends could do with him.   But she never apologized for her own behavior or admitted that it was in any way wrong….

She was mean, a bully, catty, crass….If it weren’t for R., I would’ve wanted nothing to do with her at all.  But he had wrapped himself around my finger somehow and kept saying I was a very dear friend to him.

Yes, Jeff is both very nice and very trusting of me.  He’s also used to SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) culture, where people crash at other people’s houses all the time when going to events far away from home.

At first he did wonder, Wait a minute, I’ve never met this guy and I’m letting him stay here with my wife and child?  But after the first meeting, he decided he was harmless.

And at the time R. seemed very sweet.  We’d talk for hours upon hours about life, religion, music.  He was planning to become an Orthodox priest.

But over time it seemed like conspiracy politics started taking over his good sense, and he’d tell me things that showed a violent underside…. He gave me every reason to believe when he lived here that he had conquered it, but it started coming back out again.

I’m torn because on the one hand I keep hoping they’ll try to work things out with us.  I keep dreaming about it.  I keep missing R.

On the other, I just can’t stand T.! I never could. And she won’t allow R. to have friends who don’t like her.   She made him block Jeff and me (and even our son) on Facebook and blocked my e-mail from him as well.

The thought of making nice with her to be allowed access to him again, just turns my stomach.

I’ve been writing all this stuff down [on my website] and trying to process it.  I’ve been trying to determine, should I pray for reconciliation or decide I’m better off?  The religious part is especially hard.  I read some articles about narcissists and thought, dang, he’s a narcissist cult leader.  lol

He was so integral to my conversion to Orthodoxy that everything about it reminds me of him, but I came here looking for what I didn’t find in any other church.  I can’t just leave because of him.  But my heart in it has gone, making it hard to pray or anything else.

The other thing is that twice since the blowup, his family has shown up at my church for a service.  AND my church is dying, his church is dying, and our two churches have been discussing merging to survive.   Or sharing the work at Greek Fests.   (We live in the same city, but he prefers the church in A—.)

So the possibility of seeing them at church again in the future is rather high.  I would prefer some sort of peace to come about, instead of the whole family completely ignoring me. The kids aren’t even allowed to speak to me, though they do look.

I feel sick when I see T. go up to the Eucharist, after she bullied me, humiliated me, and made me feel like a wretched whore.   Somehow I have to keep from losing my faith no matter what happens….

Becky’s reply got me thinking that maybe Richard was a liar and manipulator, never actually my friend:

If you want my honest opinion Nyssa.. I believe you are better than them and I don’t think R was as good of a friend as you think. 

I am an outsider but from reading the situation and between the lines, it sounds like you were a very good friend to them and they used and betrayed that friendship to get where they wanted and then made you feel bad after you gave so much and that is called SIN any way you turn it hon.

If it were me, I would ask the Lord to send someone genuine and true to replace that friendship you had with R…. You can appreciate the good things that came from you befriending R and let go of the poisonous things….

I would also suggest ignoring them but be polite to the children if they ever cross your path because T does not deserve your friendship or respect.  You are special and scripture also says you do not have to cast the pearls (of your friendship, concern, or kindness) before swine, and she acts like a pig so if the shoe fits… you know the rest.

I also understand how your husband could allow that now that you explained about the SCA.  I think maybe from now on you will have more wisdom in these situations with these type people so at least you can look at this as a learning experience you know?

In my reply, you can see the wheels turning as I pondered the possibility of Richard being deceptive:

When I think about it and the fact that I do know other people who know them, I don’t think R. was out to get us or use us up or anything.  [This changed the more I pondered it, however, now that Becky got the wheels turning.]  (T., however, I don’t trust in the slightest.)

However, he has told me so many outlandish stories over the years that I had no way to verify, that I think he may be a habitual liar….I do see ways he could very easily have been manipulating me, whether to get us to help him or just to feed his ego.   He has a very big ego, after all, and his wife keeps beating him down….

T., on the other hand, struck me from the very beginning as someone I did not want to be around.  She’s chased off other friends as well, male and female, with her temper.

Here’s one of the strange things he told me: Some time after they moved out, he told me that during our talks while he lived here, he sometimes used hypnotism to get me to open up to him.

That he learned it from a hypnotist, it was something about eye tricks and psychology, and he used to use it to get girls to go out with him.  He said he would do it without even meaning to.  Then some time later, he told me he didn’t do it anymore.

So…he can control it, or he can’t?   Which is it?  When did he use it, and what did he make me do or say?  Was he some Svengali or Rasputin?   And is he telling the truth about hypnotizing in the first place?….

I have trouble believing that everything was a lie; I think there’s a good chance that some of it was genuine, at least from him.  (Not from her.) However, too much stuff just doesn’t add up. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to unravel it….

 

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

Grief that my abusers keep coming to my church but not apologizing to me

Here is an article on dyssemia, a word coined in 1992 to describe the trouble people with NVLD have with social situations.  Here [in an earlier version of the page on Wikipedia] you’ll find a quote from the back cover of Helping the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In:

We’ve all known children like this:
–they stand too close and touch us in annoying ways;
–they laugh too loud or at the wrong times;
–they make stupid or embarrassing remarks;
–they don’t seem to get the message when given a broad hint or even told outright to behave differently;
–they mistake friendly actions for hostile ones, or vice versa;
–they move too slowly, or too fast, for everyone else;
–their facial expressions don’t jibe with what they or others are saying, or
–their appearance is seriously out of step with current fashions, they don’t dress well for the occasion, etc.
–they are known to stare at people, stalk people, or do something that annoys other people or makes them feel uncomfortable
–they have problems dating and interacting with the opposite sex in a romantic way. Many dyssemics are love shy.

There are many more descriptions of dyssemia below on that webpage.  This sounds very much like me, such as with fashions, hair and makeup, difficulty fitting in, lack of punctuality, social awkwardness, a difference in ability between receiving and expressing nonverbal messages, growing senses of grief and despair over loneliness, saying things in a way I didn’t intend and suffering consequences, and various other things you’ll read here.

Which makes it all the more angering that Richard didn’t listen to me, that Tracy acted as if it were just excuses for bad behavior, that Tracy and, eventually, Richard became the adult bullies targeting me.

Tracy would probably agree with “they don’t seem to get the message when given a broad hint or even told outright to behave differently.”  But no, Tracy thought I just needed to “grow up and TALK” as if it were something I could just do on command like a trained puppy.

She made jabs at a “self-diagnosed learning disability” as if that invalidated everything I ever said.  Richard talked as if my social troubles with Tracy, or with anyone, were just a simple matter of willpower.

It makes me very angry with the both of them for thinking they could judge me like this.  I have seen the face of wickedness in a supposed Christian: It is Tracy.  I have seen the face of betrayal and unfair judgment in a friend: It is Richard.  He is dead to me.

For some time, I put a message on my Facebook profile for him, saying that I hoped one day we’d be friends again.  I have long since removed it.

Though a part of me still longs for him to recognize what he’s done and make things right, and a part of me misses that BFF to whom I told all my secrets and day-to-day stuff and musings.

Since Richard was my roommate for three months, he was that for so long that I grew accustomed to having such a friend in my life, after so long without one (other than Jeff, of course).

From this blog post:

I regained a degree of confidence, and was able to reclaim the narrative of my life.

She had stolen that from me, repeating to me over and over again during the countless all-night “discussions” she’d make me have about how I’d done something wrong again, that I “don’t get to” have a reaction, a response, a reason, a say, a thought, a feeling other than one that was dictated by her perpetually warping delusions.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this is what Tracy’s “conference” would have turned into.

I had every indication from her that it would, not just from 7/1/10 but from the e-mails exchanged 8/1/10 and after, where she essentially beat me over the head for everything I ever did that she thought was somehow wrong–and also from the two and a half years before that, whenever I had an opinion about her actions towards me or anybody else.

I also know from the “conference” she had with Todd in June/July 2008 over that stupid game argument, that this is how it would’ve gone with me, because she did not listen to him at all, did not even try to understand his point of view, but just kept saying over and over again that he was wrong and childish.

More from the above link:

Finally, one thing that this exercise [the author blogging about his abusive ex] also helped me with was confronting false nostalgia.  “Maybe it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I was really to blame after all.”

For me, it’s been the same: the constant feeling for quite some time that maybe she wasn’t so bad, that I was the one who was bad–quickly diminishing as I write about what really happened.

They rarely come to my church, but they have a couple of times in the months since the Incident.  I felt a distinct cold shoulder, as if not only were they avoiding speaking to me, but their children had been instructed to avoid me as well.  (I might add that this is an extremely small church, so you can’t just melt into the crowd.)

It’s very much the impression that because I refuse to let Tracy yell and scream at me and dictate to and scold me like a child or an idiot, she’s decided to freeze me out and treat me like sh** on the bottom of her shoe.

Not at all Christian behavior, yet there she is at church taking the Eucharist like she’s right with God even while she’s treating those around her like crap.

But the reality is that she refused to accept that I’m not like her, that I’m my own kind of person, with a brain that seems to work differently than most other people’s, and will not change myself just to suit her, that she might as well ask someone who’s bad at math to be an astronomer, or a ballerina to be a truck driver, or a dog to be a cat.

Tracy treats me like sh** at church because I objected to her demeaning, belittling, cursing, verbally violent, deliberately hurtful behavior.

So now Richard and even the children cannot even say hi to me, or e-mail me or talk to me on Facebook, because:

  1. I demand to be treated with respect, kindness and understanding.
  2. I refuse to let her vilify me for believing my communication and social problems with her are not from stubbornness or meanness or childishness, but from either introversion or NLD/Asperger’s or (at the very least) selective mutism (or, even more likely, from her own crabby attitude).
  3. I can’t figure out what she’s so upset about all the time.
  4. I refuse to listen one more time to her grievances while my own are ignored or ridiculed or tossed aside yet again.
  5. I will not accept abuse for my brain processes being different from hers.  (I got quite enough of that in elementary school, and dealing with her is like dealing with those childish childhood bullies all over again.)

Why she comes to my church at all if she’s going to act this way, I can’t say, since they have their own church, do not like mine, and almost never came to it before the falling-out.

Is it to twist the knife in further?  Is she such a sadist that she’s not satisfied with going our separate ways?

How can I even want to be in the same room with her after she posted, “I’m having a GREAT day!” on Facebook because she was screaming at me online and cussing me out? because she no longer had to sit back and be “quiet and nice”?  (That was quiet and nice?)

She was happy because she was allowed to scream at me and cuss me out and make all sorts of accusations.  From FAQ about Verbal Abuse:

Why does it seem that after he abuses me verbally he is happy, like he feels relieved? Also, he will act like it never happened. It’s like he has no memory of it….

This is what verbal abusers do. Verbal abusers almost universally act like nothing happened, like they feel fine and the relationship is fine. This is because they feel they have more control.

Maybe they got you to back down, believe them or doubt yourself. If you doubt yourself then you might go with what they tell you, be more compliant and more slave-like. This makes them happy.

And from What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick:

When does she come close to being in a good mood or smile with pure pleasure? When she feels like she’s in the catbird seat because she’s gotten her way, pulled one over on you or pulled the rug out from underneath you. The size of her smile is in direct proportion to the number of times she twisted the proverbial knife.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing