Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: saving letters (page 1 of 2)

My letter to Phil, Part 1–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1994, Part 4

October 8.  My parents, fearing I was the same way now as when Peter broke up with me, came up to see me.

I, of course, was surrounded by friends, unlike the first time when all my new friends and everyone in the suite had gone home for Winterim Break.  I forced myself to take it better and not go through the same crap I did when Peter broke up with me.

I was doing quite well.  Mom said I didn’t need them quite as much as she thought I would.

They took me to their hotel, where they gave me this cute, little, musical white bear, to cheer me up.  It had a diaper and a pillow, and its eyes were closed.  When you pressed the diaper, it played “Frére Jacques” and other children’s songs.

But it got accidentally pushed a lot, and then Sharon and I had to listen to “Baa Baa Black Sheep” or some other little ditty at times when we would rather not.

Other than this, my friends thought it was sweet of my parents to give me that, and cool to come up and see me during this difficult time.

Remember Pearl writing to me that I wasn’t invited to Florida over Winterim with them because of Phil?  Well, now with Phil out of the picture, I was invited.  Pearl’s parents were paying part of the way.  I talked to my parents about this now, but they didn’t have the money for me to go along.

On the morning of the 9th, I woke up to the sound of a TV infomercial for Gary Smalley tapes on how to save a marriage and/or make it better.  He said he’d even helped divorced couples get back together and build a stronger marriage than they had before.  (This is probably “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships.“)

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to get the number to order the tapes.  But Mom and I wondered at this strange coincidence, that this infomercial would be on now when I could see it, and if Phil and I were meant to get these tapes and rebuild our relationship.

We thought so even more when, a few months later, I found the infomercial again while at school and got the number for her.

Now, however, I know it wasn’t because we were meant to rebuild our relationship.  Perhaps it was a chance given me by God to put this idea of using the tapes in front of Phil, and see if he would go for it.

Perhaps it was to show me that Phil wouldn’t do it and that he was not worth pursuing.

Perhaps it was just to show me I was right that relationships can work if you work hard enough on them, even if they are what Phil would call a “dead horse.”

Perhaps it was so I could tell Phil this and plant a seed or two in his heart which, if paid attention to, would show him counseling is sometimes necessary.

Perhaps it was so I would know that a relationship can be saved even when it seems hopeless.  I got some ideas about why women act certain ways and why men act certain ways.  I used them in a letter I wrote to Phil.

After one of the breakups with Phil and during one of our talks, I told Helene I might be interested in James (though by now I probably lost the big crush I used to have).  She said, “Hmm! We’ll have to see if he’s available.”  It was someone besides Phil to think about, at least.  There was also Mike, of course, but Phil said Mike wasn’t interested.

Sharon thought James was distant from women, and noted he hadn’t had a girlfriend the whole time he’d been at Roanoke.  (I think he was a fifth-year senior, because sophomore year I heard he was a junior.)  She laughed and said, “I think he’s gay!”

In the winter, I discovered that James hated Phil.  Was that because Phil kept taking away his potential dates?  First I asked James to a Pictionary party in the fall of 1993, then started dating Phil.  Second, Persephone sent James a letter expressing her feelings in the fall of 1994, then started dating Phil.

Finally, another girl, Brigitte, liked James by Winterim and tried to get his attention; fortunately, Phil never dated her. (James ended up marrying her.)

I wrote a letter to Phil.  I proofread it before sending it, prayed a lot, and worked on it for three days; I believe this included time to let it sit a day or two.  I feared to let Sharon see it, thinking she wouldn’t approve.  But she did find out about it, and said,

“You have a right to write a letter and tell him what you need to tell him, get things out into the open.”

This was the letter:

Dear Phil,

I hope you’ll be receptive to what I have to say here.  And I also hope you won’t talk to Dirk about it (I really don’t want him to see some of the things I’m about to say in here–they’re not for his eyes), but, if to anyone, to someone older, someone who’s happily and successfully married, preferably a strong Christian.  Someone who knows what they’re talking about.

This isn’t a “beg” letter.  This is a letter to tell you that you’ve hit upon the problem–miscommunication–and I’ve been shown a solution.  Circumstances came together just right so I could see the following: an infomercial for a series of video tapes by a respected Christian counselor who I’ve heard of before.

My mom is planning to get more information about them so she can get them herself, and I have a strong conviction that they’re just what’s needed here.  These tapes teach couples how to communicate with each other, how to deal with and drain anger, and other problems that come up in a marriage.

The source of miscommunication for a couple (at least, a heterosexual one!) is that men and women speak two different languages.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t compatible–certainly not, or else the species would not survive–it just means they need to learn how to break down the gender barriers.  Those tapes teach that.

And if Mom can’t get them, there are other things available–tapes, books, seminars.  James Dobson, one of the most respected Christian counselors for years now, has tapes and books both, for example.

Dirk’s wrong when he says a couple should be able to work things out without counseling.  Sometimes they can, but, as was said on a program I heard today, oftentimes they just keep trying the same things in different ways, and get nowhere.

The counselor can look at things objectively, and has a bigger “bag of tricks,” fresh approaches that actually will work.  The counselor can listen and see what the couple is doing wrong and who needs to do what.

He doesn’t have an agenda, nor does he need to be the one who’s right, so he can see things more clearly than either person involved.

Working a problem out oneself is often futile.  Usually what’s needed is prayer, advice from people who know what they’re talking about, talking to people involved, looking at what the Bible says, reading books–whatever’s necessary to help a person see things more clearly.

Oftentimes the only way to successfully work a problem out is to give it up to God so He can work it out, and show you what you need to do. This may be going to a counselor.  Or watching certain tapes or reading certain books.  Or just listening to what God will tell you.

The goal of such tapes is to promote happiness so we can enjoy life like God intends.  Gary Smalley, who made the tapes we saw advertised, was asked, “Isn’t it mostly the women who want to do this? Aren’t the men more resistant to counselors?”–you know, the macho-manly attitude of, “I don’t need anybody’s help”–and he said,

“Not many men, when asked if they want to be unhappy and miserable, say they do.”

Who does want to, really?  I know I don’t, and I know you don’t.  But if we don’t both learn how to communicate better, then it doesn’t matter who we each end up with; we’ll be unhappy.

I can look to my parents now for how to communicate and get a better idea of what I need to do, but you sure can’t look to yours for a good example.

As you know, mine don’t live on arguing, but it seems like yours do.  As much as a person tries to do things differently than his parents, they can still rub off on him.  (I’m not saying “him” to be gender-specific; it’s just clearer that way.)

You’ve admitted yourself to at least one thing you’ve picked up from your parents: being intolerant at times.  If you’re receptive and willing to hear, I could tell you one or two other things, too.

And if arguing is all you hear at home, how can you be expected to know how to form a peaceful household of your own?  The chain must be broken, or else you’ll quite possibly end up like your parents, and unhappy no matter who you’re with.

I know you don’t want that.  And I don’t want that for you.

My own parents even had problems, especially around the time I left for school freshman year. …But they learned to communicate better….

Despite our differences, you and I are a lot alike, you know.  If our situations had been switched, I might’ve ended up more like you are, and you more like I am.  I might’ve wanted to be a nun for seven years.

We’re both the youngest, both stubborn, both with slow (usually) but fierce tempers [though the slowness of his is now doubtful], both intelligent (the points we got on that IQ test were very close)…

[Mine were only less because of math questions I missed.  That thing was full of math questions, which aren’t my strength.  A year or two later, I took another one, and got around 150 points, almost genius level by its chart, and Cugan got around 130.  This one only gave me around 130, and Phil around 140]

…, both role-players (you in acting, me in writing now that I’m too old to play pretend) [I used to play pretend all the time, but now I had to content myself with writing], both averse to having to go out and get work (you said so yourself once), both intolerant at times.

We both have struggled with self-esteem, trying to raise it after being teased as children; and we’re also both interested in serving God.

(By the way, I’m told that God doesn’t send His children to “destroy” others who are also His children, so that dream was just a dream.  It’s not my “purpose.”)

Our “different worlds” [as he’d said we live in] usually overlap somewhere, including these areas, and what talents you have that I don’t, I admire.  Different personalities is a good thing, as long as there’s that common thread I’ve just mentioned.

But I am the oldest of us and the female; maybe one source of conflict is the natural difference in maturity level.  I don’t know if it’s a very big difference.  We both agreed to a spiritual marriage when we weren’t even sure if it was a good idea.  Morally binding, spiritually binding, but not legally binding.

I tell you one thing, I don’t want to agree to one with anybody else or a spiritual re-marriage with you unless it’s legal.  Both my family and the law should know about it and enforce the vows.

[That’s why such marriages are no longer legal, even though they were in the Middle Ages and even pioneer days, because there was no way to “prove” a ceremony had taken place.]

And no sex without a legal piece of paper, either.  I don’t want to fall for the world’s lies, which say God’s laws don’t apply to today and love is enough of a bond for people to know each other that well.

No, like we’ve both always believed, a couple has to be married or it’s a sin.  God has a better plan for us.  He’s not a “cosmic killjoy” [popular Evangelical term]; He invented the act, and He knows what all is involved–a joining of both body and soul, and all its emotional and physical consequences.

It was made for married couples, who can handle sharing each other’s spirit.  So don’t expect me to agree to your “offer” [sex without commitment], because we’re no longer married and must remain chaste if we want to obey God.

Letter to be continued.

 

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Saving your letters is not one bit “creepy”: one of the ways I got gaslighted

One of the many things Richard told me to gaslight me, was that it was somehow “creepy” that I save letters I receive, and copy letters I write.  He even had his wife help him with this gaslighting, sat me down and the two of them told me how creepy and weird it was.  I describe this here.

I now recognize this as part of a campaign to make me think they were perfectly normal and I was crazy, to keep me from seeing his narcissism and her abuse and realizing how he’d been manipulating me and using me all along.

This is something narcissists and abusers do to you, to get you to stop complaining about bad treatment and start seeing yourself as the problem, while they change nothing and apologize for nothing.

Even if you know in your heart that you’re doing nothing wrong or weird, just by being your trusted friend, a narcissist can plant one of these “mind bombs” in your head to get your brain thinking subconsciously,

“What if he’s right?  What if I am a creepy clingy stalker type?”  (Just because you like to save old letters and keep a diary?  Oh pleeeaaase!)

I’ve been going through my old college diaries, letters, and the memoirs I wrote right after graduation, in order to update my online college memoirs.  Tonight I found that on June 19, 1994, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

My dad has an old copier now, and it makes letter-writing so much quicker.  I used to write a letter, then hand-write or type up a copy for myself.  Now I just take a few minutes to copy it.

It’s so odd to not have to pay a dime a copy [like at school], and bad copies aren’t such a problem when you don’t have much money to make more.

In “Clarissa” by Samuel Richardson, Clarissa and Lovelace are always copying letters or having their servants do it.  Then they sometimes copy other people’s letters so their friends can read them.  How they would have appreciated having copiers!

I started copying letters around the same time I started writing them: in the mid-80s, my early teens, to my pen pal in Luxembourg.  If I didn’t do that, my Mammoth Cave account would have been lost, never turned into this post.

So…Apparently I’ve been “creepy” for some 28 years….

I believe I wanted to record what I wrote to this stranger in a foreign country.  As I signed up for more pen pals in other countries, I also saved the letters I wrote them, as well as the ones they wrote me.  I had a different folder for each pen pal, with “to” on one side and “from” on the other.

Those folders are still in my fireproof vaults, along with letters written and received from my college friends all through college, and nearly all e-mails exchanged after we graduated, from then up until the present day.

(I recently began archiving e-mails on my computer instead, to save space, and I back up my e-mails periodically on a portable backup drive called My Book.)

There were some letters I didn’t copy here and there, but I later regretted this, because I would have loved to have that written account of everything that happened when my parents took me to college for the first time.

I wrote a church friend about the spires in Milwaukee, but I don’t have a clue what else, and now it’s lost to my memory.  The letters I did keep, have allowed me to write accurate college memoirs full of detail, making the scenes far more vivid than, “Well, we did this, then this, but I’m not sure what else.”

This is also why I’m confident that my story about Richard and Tracy is accurate, because I have this record of our interactions, not just e-mails and letters exchanged with them, but e-mails I wrote my mother, college friends and husband during those years.

When Richard accused me of somehow being “creepy” for saving letters people send me, and copying letters I send others–and when Tracy made fun of me for it like some mean girl in junior high–I knew this was absolutely frickin’ ridiculous.  I wrote to my college friends about it as well, to find out their thoughts.

They were all in favor of me doing whatever I dang well please with my letters.  They didn’t think it was one bit creepy, and one even questioned why on earth Richard would say such a thing.  Another said he didn’t save letters (except from his wife), but only because he didn’t have the room to store them all.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if saving letters like this, is a “writer” trait.  Writers journal; we write diaries; we save odds and ends; we want to remember so we can write about it later, or just to remember.  Some of us save for posterity, historians and/or biographers.

A lady brought in her journals to Writer’s Club last night, full of playbills, photographs, written accounts, even movie ticket stubs (I do that, too).  And that’s what I’m doing: saving it to write about it later.  Or to save the letters dear friends have written me, because they are dear friends.  Or simply to remember.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of people just chucking old letters, was when Richard told me it was creepy to save them!  I thought everybody saved their letters, simply because those are your friends writing you, they took the time to write you, and the letters are worth saving because of who they came from.

I also wanted to remember what I wrote to people, as a diary, so I saved those as well.

I call it all part of my journal; the letters and e-mails are saved with other mementoes, neatly organized in date order in file folders, many of which are stored in fireproof vaults.

These are all valuable memories which otherwise would be lost as my brain jettisons things over the years.  Even old letters, mementoes and pictures from my exes are still preserved.

(Anyone who gets jealous over their mates saving such things, I think they’re absolutely ridiculous.  I do not save these because of pining over my exes: I lost all romantic interest in these guys 20 years ago!  I save them for the same reason I save all my other letters: as a diary, reminders of something that was important to me once.  No one has any business telling their mates what to do with old letters from exes long gone!  That’s wanting to control your mate, even their memories!)

I don’t write diaries like I used to, because it’s much easier to save letters and e-mails: They cover many of the events of my life and what I think about them.  Also, nowadays I use this website as a diary/journal.

Come to think of it, my ex-friend-with-benefits Shawn, who used and psychologically abused me back in college, objected to, even scolded me for, keeping a diary about the things he would do with me:

He had also complained about me writing in my diary everything that happened between us.  He thought special memories should be kept in the head and not written down.

It was an odd idea that I’d never encountered before, because even special memories begin to fade over time.  In fact, if I hadn’t written these things down, these memoirs would be far less detailed, because I had forgotten so much!

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that. —March 1993, “Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits”

Shawn is the only person I’ve ever encountered who thought a diary was somehow a bad thing.

I’m convinced that anyone who objects to someone else keeping a diary or old letters, is afraid of discovery, that they are abusing that person and don’t want it known.

Also, if you keep records of your interactions with such a person, then you can one day have that “ah-HAH!” moment that means the narc/abuser has now lost all control over you–and that you have proof for others to see, as well.

Yet writers have always been hyper-aware their correspondence might have enduring literary merit. Hunter S. Thompson, for one, made carbon copies of many of his letters…..

One writer who systematically saves his e-mail is Nicholson Baker, whose book ”Double Fold” was a cri de coeur about what is lost when libraries convert newspapers and other rare materials to microfilm.

”I regret deleting things afterward, even sometimes spam,” Baker said. ”I’ve saved almost everything, incoming and outgoing, since 1993, except for a thousand or so messages that went away after a shipping company dropped my computer.

“That amounts to over two gigabytes of correspondence — I know because my old version of Outlook froze when I passed the two gigabyte barrier. When software changes, I convert the old mail into the new format. It’s the only functioning filing system I have.”

Salman Rushdie is also a saver. ”Yes, I have saved my e-mails, written and received since the mid-90’s when I started using computers regularly, and yes, I suppose any archive deal would include these (pretty extensive) e-mail files,” Rushdie said.

”I e-mail a lot, so there’s all sorts of stuff there, but don’t ask me to remember what it is. Private correspondence, texts, business mail, jokes, everything.”

Rushdie said he had backed up a lot of his correspondence on an external hard drive, where he had also transferred messages from old computers. –Rachel Donadio, Literary Letters, Lost in Cyberspace

The comments to this blog post are full of reasons why old letters and journals should not be destroyed, for sentimental reasons and for posterity:

  1. Regret over letters which were destroyed to de-clutter.
  2. Destroying letters and journals is sacrilege.
  3. Letters and journals are not clutter even if you have a lot of them (not a bit like old clothes or broken lamps).
  4. Regret over the destruction of letters between one’s parents.

Also see here and here and here. Look at the joy it brings so many people to save these things!  And the historical or sentimental value to much of it!

During my late forties, I began making copies of the letters I sent to my many epistolary friends. I typed those I’d written in longhand before mailing them, and made carbon copies or photocopies of those composed on the typewriter.

By that time the absence of such a record had on a number of occasions been a cause of my dismay, puzzlement, or keen regret.

It happens that I had become a devotée of the forth-and-back call-and-response pulsations of corresponding with souls of widely different temperaments, interests and points of view.

Each of them brought out another side of me: what was sacred to one might be anathema to another; what enthralled one was less than fascinating to the next; what entertained one, another found was not at all amusing.

When the spirit was upon me, I penned or typed long letters to my friends-in-writing in response to theirs. Because each of these epistolary friendships was sui generis, I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually begin saving both sides of each correspondence.

I had learned well that a good habit for indefatigable letter writers to cultivate is to review what was written to whom, and when, lest one weary or wound or offend through a slip of the pen….

The passion to preserve my own papers, strewn with the seeds of every living thing I have read or written, was born of the desire to honor the covenant between the generations. Who has not dreamed the impossible dream of imperishability of all we have loved well? –Audrey Borenstein, Saving Words: Old Letters and Journals

So go ahead, save your old letters and diaries.  And if anyone tells you it’s wrong, tell them it’s your life and you’ll do what you want!

Those memories will become more precious to you over time, as the ones in your head begin to fade.  And your descendants may find them precious as well.

Also, use my story to help you be on guard against narcissistic mindscrews.

Also see More support for keeping diaries and saving letters/e-mails.

 

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Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD traits; School Scandal–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1993, Part 1

School Scandal

On the 1st, I noted in my diary the one-year anniversary of the physical relationship with Shawn, since it started on Leap Day, 1992.

****

Crystal Pepsi came out around this time, and I tried it.  I believe it was much like Pepsi–but I didn’t like Pepsi.  I drank it just to find out if it truly tasted the same, despite being clear.  It soon disappeared from the market.

****

During one of my counseling sessions, I said Shawn always tried to change me, but I wouldn’t change unless I felt it necessary.  The counselor called that a healthy attitude.

I now read Hermann Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund, which I found in the Campus Shop.  This book was a great help.  I read it late at night, while Alternative Nation was on, the room was darkened, and my roommate slept without her hearing aid.  Sometimes, the window was open.

This late-night setting and the book itself took me to a place where boy trouble and other problems didn’t matter.  One character, Goldmund, made observations about life that I’d made myself, or agreed with.  I kept seeing myself in Goldmund, a budding artist looking for himself.  He wandered the German landscape, a metaphor for restlessness and wandering the landscape of life and self.

The book was set around the year of the Black Death, so Sting’s new video, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” was timely.  (This video was set in medieval times.)  Funny how I didn’t much care for the song when I first heard it on the radio, but after I saw that video, the song became one of my all-time favorites.

Goldmund’s passion sounded like mine: He loved to draw things, such as people’s heads, and make up animals, just as I liked to draw heads and make up alien languages.  Like me, he thought love was more important than anything else.

The swarming fish on page 186, poking their heads up to eat a piece of bread, reminded me of the fish at Indiana Beach.

(Those fish would eat anything you tossed at them–even spit.  This is Indiana Beach, though in those days it was just a little amusement park with short lines and cheap rides, no resort, no water park, no campgrounds, no Adventure Point.  Though I see they still have some of the same rides, such as the Seadragon and the Galaxi.)

On page 195, his tendency to forget everything about the world while engrossed by his drawing and endless walking, reminded me of myself when I was deep into reading, writing, or thinking.

After one of these late-night readings, I wrote this poem:

The music of the night
drifts through my window,
The gentle wind and soft, earthy smells,
the warmth and the insomniac birds’ songs.
Each note carries a hint of oneness
with everything.
The song of the ages,
the melting together of all experience,
The one song all romantics hear.

****

We often found chalk drawings and messages on the sidewalks, advertising campus events or put there as pledge pranks.

Once, the Zetas made chalk outlines showing some pretty horrific things: heads removed, limbs removed, hands or feet removed.  They were also pretty comical, since it was obviously a joke.  One of these chalk drawings was of Paul and his dog Maizie.

The college now had a young social sciences teacher named Craig.  One day, we found chalk protests written all over the sidewalks: “Save Craig!”  The college had decided not to allow him back the next year.

I didn’t know Craig or the reasons for his dismissal, so I didn’t get involved.  I heard rumors, but they weren’t confirmed for me until 2006:

Rachel knew a senior girl who got involved with Craig.  He was single, she was about to graduate, and he was fresh out of graduate school (therefore, they were close in age), but the college refused to relent.

****

Darryl decided to leave the Zetas over problems he had with them.  I don’t remember now what all they were, but he was upset that minors at parties would be given alcohol.  There were probably other things as well.

It was a big surprise, and even my sorority friends were glad.  A week or two before, he and Steve even came to Bible Study.

Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits

On March 20, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

But it seems like, in the past couple weeks, [Shawn’s] mood has darkened and he’s even avoided me a few times and gotten upset at me for one thing or another.  If we were going out, I’d say we were headed for a breakup.  Instead, the friendship is threatened with breakup.

I do find it interesting that this happened after our physical relations had ceased.

On Tuesday (the 16th), when I was telling him the good news about me finding myself–through my time alone at night reading, writing and listening to music, and something he’d wanted me to do–he somehow turned the conversation to yet another list of my “faults.”

He seemed to have a gift for that, even though he didn’t seem to be such a good judge of character as he thought he was.

It was a long list, and I must say he later apologized for unloading all those things on me at once.  He said these were the real reasons why he didn’t want to be my boyfriend, and that the reasons weren’t going to change to different things, like they had so often before.

The things were very much condemning of me as a person.  It devastated me because I wanted to be a good person who cared for others, helped them, was considerate, was sweet and kind….

But he made me sound like an evil bitch who treats people like dirt.  I felt like a terrible person, and thought I recognized those things in myself, but he gave me a hug of support as I tried to “change.”

He told me I should ask my friends for the specific examples he didn’t have time to give, and suggested things I should say.  So you see I was in a receptive mood, willing to accept and change faults, wanting the truth and not people’s consoling words.  He did this now, so he said, because I had an outlet in counseling.

So, after class when I went to see the counselor, I told her what he’d said.  Her reaction made me begin to doubt him, but I still felt like a terrible person.  I even tried to convince her that what he said was true.

She couldn’t see me being those things, but I still felt I had to see what my friends would say before I’d completely change my view.  If I really was an evil witch, then I wanted to change it, not listen to people tell me I wasn’t really like that.

I talked to Pearl for three hours in the Phi-Delt room after my night class (Astronomy), and really began to doubt his impressions.  She said maybe some things were based on misunderstandings.

He’d said other people had the same impressions but were afraid to depress me by telling me, even though they were still my friends; Pearl said maybe he misunderstood them, too.

I also spoke to Clarissa, who knew me better than anybody else on that campus, being my roommate for many months now–and even she disagreed, felt that he was being mean to me.

I asked, “Do you see anything wrong with the way I treat you?”

She said, shocked, “No!”  I think she even cried a little.  She couldn’t figure out why Shawn would say these things.

I tried talking to him on the phone the next day, to find out who I was supposed to talk to and what I did to make him think these things of me, but he accused me of badgering, and it turned into an argument.

So I stopped speaking to him.  I just couldn’t stand speaking to him when I didn’t even know why he was friends with such an evil person as me, if he even was my friend in the first place.

He said he was, but the reason he gave wasn’t enough to reassure me: He just said, because I wanted him to be, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered trying to be one.  So, I was such an evil witch that he wouldn’t have even been my friend in the first place if I didn’t want him to be?

And he couldn’t give me any concrete examples to make me understand what I did that was so evil, or give me any guidance on whom to talk to?

The one to speak to is the one I offended, not a whole bunch of people in a kind of Russian roulette to find them, that lets everybody on campus know what he said to me!  How is it “badgering” to get some answers so I can understand what I’ve done and how I can change it?

Because I had no intention of behaving so evilly to anyone, and had no clue how I possibly could have come across that way, no guidance, no memory of evil intentions or behavior to work with.  You can’t change if you don’t even know what you’ve done!

I needed the truth, I needed answers, I needed plain-speaking Rachel.  I didn’t want to get mad at Shawn for simply telling the truth, if it was indeed the truth.  If anyone would be blunt about my faults, she would be.  Even when everyone else would sympathize me about something, she would say, “Well, it was pretty stupid for you to do that.”

So next, I went to her, not telling her who the person was.  But she just widened her eyes at the list of faults and got upset, saying, “This person doesn’t really know you.  They’re probably trying to hurt you for some reason.”

She and, later, Sharon did tell me what they personally thought were faults, but they were things done by normal people, not evil witch crap like what Shawn listed.

Sharon thought he was playing with my mind.  Sharon said she could only answer for her own feelings, not for his; Pearl pointed out possible misunderstandings and how I could prevent them.

I figured these were the main people who would know, the ones I spent the most time with.  They gave me enough things to work with already, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by going to people I didn’t know as well and telling them what Shawn said.

Rachel said not to take the things to heart, that he just didn’t know me very well, but I still cried myself to sleep Wednesday night.  

I loved him, both romantically and, most of all, as what I thought was my best friend.  But this made me feel so upset and betrayed that I couldn’t talk to him.  I didn’t want him to even come close enough to touch me.  

My heart was broken again.  I think I loved him far more than I ever had loved Peter.

He had also complained about me writing in my diary everything that happened between us.  He thought special memories should be kept in the head and not written down.  

It was an odd idea that I’d never encountered before, because even special memories begin to fade over time.  In fact, if I hadn’t written these things down, these memoirs would be far less detailed, because I had forgotten so much!  

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that.

After writing in my diary what happened between us Valentine’s Day and the following Monday, I wrote, as if I were addressing Shawn,

See, Shawn, I wrote both things down, finally.  And if you’re going to be like this, I hope they’re the last ‘rendezvous’ I’ll ever have to write about concerning you.

Maybe math-brains just don’t understand the writer’s need to record even the most special memories–which we don’t want to fade….

Besides, these memories are all a part of me–so I’m not about to burn them or let them fade.  I’d lose a part of myself that way….Let’s see what kind of a friend you really are, Shawn.

The things he accused me of, can also easily be explained with NVLD:

Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.

The child who cannot “read” these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant. This child is none of the above.

Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information. —Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

One of his complaints over the past many months was having to wait a long time for me to answer a question.  That would probably be the NVLD, Asperger’s, and/or introversion, all of which can cause this trait, which I had always had; I have to think of what I say before I say it.

There was the time he snapped at me and called me rude for not picking up his hints that it was time for me to go home–when I caught none of them, and only heard him continuously ask me, “So what else is up?”–making me feel obligated to come up with some answer, until I finally snapped back that I was going to bed now.

He was always criticizing my shyness and reserve, when to me this was all I had ever known, and it was just as impossible for me to change it, as it is for a horse to take on zebra stripes.

He was always criticizing my hair, when I wore it that way (plain and long) because I liked symmetry, hated the feel of bangs, hated short hair, loved long hair, and did not like perms or the other hairdos of the time.  (Hair back then was still very much 80s-big hair.)

He criticized me for not wearing makeup, as if my own face were not pretty without it, when I did not like the time it took to put on makeup, and felt fake with it on.  (This was coming out of the 80s, when makeup looked very artificial, unlike now when it’s more natural-looking.)

He criticized me for not dressing sexy, when I had always been so modest that even my mother told me I should show off my figure more.  I was raised Nazarene; I did not like to show too much skin.

He criticized me for not wearing jeans, when I found jeans to be too rough against my skin, and could not stand that (an NVLD thing, with hypersensitivity to clothes).  I also did not binding, constricting or tight clothes because of how they feel against my skin, so I could not dress “sexy” in the way he would like.

And because I was not just like all the other girls, did not look like the other girls, did not dress like the other girls, did not act like the other girls, I was somehow not attractive to him, this person who could not look beyond the surface and see my natural beauty and uniqueness–but would use my body whenever it suited him.

He could not appreciate me for me, a creative, sweet, smart, loving, caring, loyal person, with a different perspective on life, who would spend my summer drawing genies and reading books and writing about desert islands, rather than reading romance novels, hanging out at the beach, working on my tan, or partying.

He could not appreciate that I would not be the kind of girl to take all his money, or be jealous of his female friends, or spend all my time at the beauty parlor/spa, or yell and scream at him and blame it on PMS.

He could not appreciate that I could spend my summers happily translating German rather than running around on him, that I would be a cheap date happy with fast food and a movie rather than some expensive restaurant.

He could not appreciate that I had faith just as he did, that my mind was full of wonder and questions about that faith, that I would study theology for fun.  Instead he said he couldn’t love me because I believed in ESP (even my pastor believed in ESP) and was too “tolerant.”  He wanted me to be like all the other girls rather than like myself.

And now he was making me into a horrible, selfish, self-centered, spoiled brat as well.  All I knew was that I tried to be good, tried to be nice, tried to think of other people, left the biggest piece of cake for the next person, just went on my merry way thinking I was harming no one, only to get accused of all these horrible things by Shawn.

I knew that I tried to let him take the lead in our relationship because of his ambivalence, out of respect for him, but then he would come over or ask me over and want me to get physical with him, so I would give in to all sorts of things he wanted me to do, to please him.

Then he would accuse me of starting things and get angry with me and tear me down, treating me like some kind of evil seductress.

It felt like what he thought was me, was actually some other person, not me at all, no matter how much I tried to protest his unfair opinions and analyses.  And it was both baffling and heartbreaking.

So if his opinions of me were totally unfair and showed a lack of knowledge of who I really was, then the thing keeping him from dating me beyond a “friends with benefits” relationship, falls down flat.

I think Shawn, for all the times I thought we had talked about ourselves and connected, closed his mind to the kind of person I really was.  He rejected me for things he said I did, but which I didn’t do at all.  He was prejudiced against me for something I was not.

The biggest question is why he would do this: Was he afraid of falling for me and then having to leave me as he did his ex-girlfriend?  Was it because of his brother’s illness?

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–A Quiet Person With Lots to Say

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

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

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

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

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

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

But here is the post, with name removed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you ever wish you were an extrovert?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And his longtime ex also showed signs of BPD.

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

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

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

He felt my nutritional choices were open to his critique.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved him with pure philia and agape.

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

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

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

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

And now…

it began to dawn on me…

IT WAS ALL A LIE!

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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

 

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Richard gaslights me into thinking I’m a stalker

There were also the occasional snide comments from Richard that I never could tell if he was joking or not: Saying that my saving all my letters and e-mails to and from friends was somehow stalkerish, because of some Ally Sheedy movie he saw where a girl did that.

Making jokes like, “Are you stalking me again?” when I never did stalk him: I merely asked about some info that automatically showed up onscreen every time I opened a private chat with him on IRC.

It made me start feeling insecure, like I was somehow clingy or something.  But my behavior was perfectly normal: It was just his gaslighting that made me feel this way.

But Richard and Tracy both made me feel insecure when there was no need, over things that, often, they themselves would do, or that their friends did, or that I see other people doing all the time.

They made me feel like a stalker just for wanting to hang out with or talk to my best friend on a regular basis, made me afraid to do anything I normally would do to interact with my friends, for fear they’d see it as “creepy” or “stalkery.”

More gaslighting, basically, and it’s common for narcissists to take, take, take, then accuse the other of being too “clingy” or “needy.”

Sometimes I wonder if Richard started doing this after reading my book The Lighthouse.  I gave him a copy in 2008; the story “All Together Now” depicts a girl being gaslit and falsely accused of stalking by her ex-boyfriend.

Except that it actually started before that: When he first moved into my house, I pulled out a folder with pictures, which online friends (mostly on the Forum) would post so you could see what they really looked like.  I didn’t print every picture, but special ones from special people, including Richard and Tracy, since I had not met them yet.

But Richard adopted a tone and look to make it seem like this was “creepy” somehow.  I thought he was joking, but now it seems like part of one big campaign to keep me off-balance, questioning myself and my sanity, and that it started way back in October 2007!

One of the many things he told me to gaslight me, was that it was somehow “creepy” that I save letters I receive, and copy letters I write.  In late January 2009, he wrote on his blog that his water heater had just flooded, destroying some letters.

So I wrote, “If any of the letters you lost were from me, just let me know–I have copies.”

His response on his blog (so this was public to all his friends/family, just like some of his Facebook jabs of me “stalking” him, and some of his wife’s criticisms of me on Facebook):

LOL In a way Nyssa, its kind of creepy that you keep copies of letters you send to people.

I saw one movie in the 1980′s were a stalker kept everything they wrote down they kept as well as the person they were stalking and used the info to entrap them and force them into submitting to their whims. It was an awful movie, like one of those late at night Showtime 1.3 star flicks starring Ally Sheedy.

Not saying this is the case, but it sparked a bad memory when you mentioned that. :P

He even had his wife help him with this gaslighting: He sat me down and the two of them told me how creepy and weird it was, while asking me not to “take offense.”

Tracy then made fun of me for copying my letters before sending them.  She said you don’t do that unless you really like to write.  Well, I really like to write–and I often would use copiers, type copies of handwritten letters, or simply save a word processor file after using it to type a letter.  No biggie.

She and Richard both practically accused me of stalking because I have always kept all my letters and interesting e-mails to and from friends.  Isn’t that ridiculous?

I mean, come on, I like having a detailed record of my life.  They’re like a diary to me, for crying out loud!  They remind me of thoughts, hopes, and events not just in my life, but in the lives of my friends, memories that don’t fade over time.

I spent several years writing down everything that had happened to me, first college memoirs that filled hundreds of pages, then memoirs of the years following, then high school and childhood–until pregnancy, morning sickness and eventually having to watch over a small child, put this on hiatus.

I had always wanted such a detailed account, ever since I read the Little House series as a child.  These accounts, and all the diaries I filled and letters I saved, were meant so I could remember everything interesting that ever happened to me.

I also kept ICQ records if the conversations were interesting, and same thing for some IRC chats that gave details of the life or thoughts of the dear friend I was chatting with.

These were never to be used for stalking purposes, like Richard had seen in that movie.  These were for me and me alone, to help my memory, and also in case I wanted to base a story on events in my life (which I did on occasion), or wanted to write memoirs about a time or incident in my life (which I also do on occasion).  These are all perfectly normal things for writers to do.

I had noticed over time that while I could remember in surprising detail many things that had happened in the past few years, such as conversations or events or what people were wearing at a certain time, details farther back in the past began to fade, and I didn’t like losing them.

I do wonder if this desire to record everything is another sign of Asperger’s or NVLD, but there is nothing pathological or creepy about it.  That’s just absurd, and when I posed the question to my longtime college friends, they didn’t understand Richard, either.  They said it was my own business what I wanted to do with my letters.

In probably February 2010, Richard posted the results of one of those fake tests going around Facebook in those days, saying that I visited his profile the most.

Turns out those tests were fake because it was impossible back then to make such a tally, and you’ll note they haven’t been on Facebook for some time, for being security risks.

But he posted, “I have a stalker!” (referring to me).  Chris posted, “I thought it would be me!”–which softened the blow and made it seem more like a joke, but–I just couldn’t be sure.  Then my family went on a short vacation, but I spent the whole time worried about this.

I now recognize this as part of a campaign to make me think Richard and Tracy were perfectly normal and I was crazy, to keep me from seeing his narcissism and her abuse, and realizing how he’d been manipulating me and using me all along.

This is something narcissists and abusers do to you, to get you to stop complaining about bad treatment and start seeing yourself as the problem, while they change nothing and apologize for nothing.

Even if you know in your heart that you’re not doing anything wrong or weird, just by being your trusted friend, a narcissist can plant one of these “mind bombs” in your head to get your brain thinking subconsciously, “What if he’s right?  What if I am a creepy clingy stalker type?”  (Just because you like to save old letters and keep a diary?  Oh pleeeaaase!)

In fact, keeping diaries while you are being abused in some way and gaslit, is highly recommended, both for your sanity and as evidence in trials.

What did I actually do with my diaries/e-mails?  I used them to prove to myself that I was not imagining what happened.  I used them to write an authentic memoir, with changed names, to express what happened, try to heal, and help others validate their own experiences and heal.  I used them to prove to friends that I was telling the truth.

It seems that every other abuse blogger out there–from the biggies like Narcissists Suck, or One Mom’s Battle, to the little ones you come across while googling–posts e-mails and letters from their abusers.

They’re used to demonstrate how narcissists and abusers twist things around on you, so you can understand what’s going on in your own life.  They’re used to prove to readers what they’ve been dealing with.

And normally, the names are changed, so nobody outside of the blogger’s inner circle, knows who these people are.  Because this is about understanding what happened to you, dealing with it, helping others deal with their own issues, then healing.

There was no trying to get Richard/Tracy to submit to my whims, none of that kind of crap, or whatever the heck went on in that movie I never saw.

I used fake names and carefully kept out anything that would identify where they worked, where they used to live, forum handles, pictures, etc. etc.

Only a select few of my friends/family knew their identities, and they weren’t reading my blog, especially after I stopped linking to it on Facebook. (I wanted the freedom to write fully about what happened, without worrying what my friends will think.)

Their accusations of me in an e-mail in 2012 were so absolutely bizarre that I now wonder if it was more of Richard’s paranoia from that stupid movie, because it sure as heck was from nothing I actually wrote.

They came across my blog by accident, or maybe somebody told them, but it sure wasn’t me–and they certainly didn’t Google their names and find it.  (I have the stat records to prove this.)

Then when they did find it, I posted that if they apologized, I would remove what I had written from my blog and never speak of it to them again (as a sign of forgiveness).  And if not, then I wanted nothing to do with them, and I wanted them to stay away from me, stay out of my life, don’t contact me. 

That’s all I said.  Period.  Finis.

I’ve been going through my old college diaries, letters, and the memoirs I wrote right after graduation, in order to update my online college memoirs.  Tonight I found that on June 19, 1994, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

My dad has an old copier now, and it makes letter-writing so much quicker.  I used to write a letter, then hand-write or type up a copy for myself.  Now I just take a few minutes to copy it.

It’s so odd to not have to pay a dime a copy [like at school], and bad copies aren’t such a problem when you don’t have much money to make more.

In “Clarissa” by Samuel Richardson, Clarissa and Lovelace are always copying letters or having their servants do it.  Then they sometimes copy other people’s letters so their friends can read them.  How they would have appreciated having copiers!

I started copying letters around the same time I started writing them: in the mid-80s, my early teens, to my pen pal in Luxembourg.  If I didn’t do that, my Mammoth Cave account would have been lost, never turned into this post.

So…Apparently I’ve been “creepy” for some 28 years….

I believe I wanted to record what I wrote to this stranger in a foreign country.  As I signed up for more pen pals in other countries, I also saved the letters I wrote them, as well as the ones they wrote me.  I had a different folder for each pen pal, with “to” on one side and “from” on the other.

Those folders are still in my fireproof vaults, along with letters written and received from my college friends all through college, and nearly all e-mails exchanged after we graduated, from then up until the present day.  (I recently began archiving e-mails on my computer instead, to save space, and I back up my e-mails periodically on a portable backup drive called My Book.)

There were some letters I didn’t copy here and there, but I later regretted this, because I would have loved to have that written account of everything that happened when my parents took me to college for the first time.

I wrote a church friend about the spires in Milwaukee, but I don’t have a clue what else, and now it’s lost to my memory.  The letters I did keep, have allowed me to write accurate college memoirs full of detail, making the scenes far more vivid than, “Well, we did this, then this, but I’m not sure what else.”

This is also why I’m confident that my story about Richard and Tracy is accurate, because I have this record of our interactions, not just e-mails and letters exchanged with them, but e-mails I wrote my mother, college friends and husband during those years.

When Richard accused me of somehow being “creepy” for saving letters people send me, and copying letters I send others–and when Tracy made fun of me for it like some mean girl in junior high–I knew this was absolutely frickin’ ridiculous.  As I mentioned before, I wrote to my college friends about it as well, to find out their thoughts:

I was baffled today by what a friend meant as a teasing comment, but it made no sense to me that he would even make it. His apartment just got flooded by a broken water heater, and he lost some letters, so I wrote, “If you lost any of my letters, let me know because I have copies.”

He wrote that it’s “kind of creepy” that I save the letters I write to people, and then he recalled an 80s movie with Ally Sheedy in which somebody kept every bit of correspondence with a person, and then used it for blackmail.

He told me in person that it wasn’t meant to offend, he was just teasing me. But it shocked me when he said he doesn’t know anybody who saves their own letters.

His wife doesn’t do it, either, and Jeff told me he doesn’t, either. I always thought that EVERYBODY saves copies of their letters, not just the ones they receive but the ones they send.

I found a website here by someone who recommends copying/printing every letter/e-mail you write or send, because it will bring back memories and be very valuable to you many years later.

This has always been how I feel about it.  It never seemed “creepy” in any way, shape or form to me, and even as a joke, I don’t understand why anybody would say that.

Am I really in the minority here, or is it just because he’s a guy????

Sharon wrote:

I can only guess at why your friend said that. I keep letters I receive from people, somewhat compulsively….

But I know a lot of people who just experience and enjoy letters at the given time, and don’t keep them for later.  So, with this in mind, perhaps your friend has never heard or realized (as he said) that some folks do keep their correspondence.

And perhaps the first brain association he made was with the movie he talked about. With only that in mind it might seem creepy to him. Don’t’cha love the media?

Anyway, I really appreciate that you kept and made copies of the college journal, because it really is fun to look back and reread it.

So don’t feel bad about wanting to keep those memories; there’s nothing “creepy” about it.

Mike wrote,

If it means something to you to hold onto every letter you send and receive, go for it. The world will not, I suspect, become a better or worse place because of it. Do what makes you feel good.

He said he didn’t save letters (except from his wife), but only because he didn’t have the room to store them all.

Clarissa said it’s okay because it helps you keep memories.

Note the huge difference between the reactions of my true friends, and who I thought was my true friend, Richard.

As for Richard calling it a “joke,” another abusive trait is to say some nasty things about you and then say it was just a “joke.”  Usually you can tell a true joke from an insult.

After growing up with brothers and a father who could zing you with humor, I am used to guys zinging each other as a joke.  I know that zinging doesn’t work so well with girls, because they take everything personally.  And Richard and I did occasionally zing each other.

But this “stalking” and “creepy” stuff–It’s like he zeroed in on one of my fears, maybe from reading The Lighthouse, and then exploited it in his “humor.”  See, having NVLD makes you clumsy in social situations, so we are at risk of people calling us creepy, when we are well-meaning people just looking for friendship/love like everybody else.

It also didn’t feel funny.  In fact, he often criticized me in a deadpan for the oddest things–taking a shower daily, calling me a prude for my taste in movies–then I got upset, then he later claimed he was “joking.”

Not only that, but after “joking” with me in his blog comments, right where his family and friends could see him call me “creepy,” the next day he came over with his wife, sat down with me and then both began telling me how “creepy” it was.

Some “joke”!  No, this fits the narcissistic/abusive trait of trying to control you through gaslighting and fake “jokes.”

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if saving letters like this, is a “writer” trait.  Writers journal; we write diaries; we save odds and ends; we want to remember so we can write about it later, or just to remember.  Some of us save for posterity, historians and/or biographers.

A lady brought in her journals to Writer’s Club one night, full of playbills, photographs, written accounts, even movie ticket stubs (I do that, too).

And that’s what I’m doing: saving it to write about it later.  Or to save the letters dear friends have written me, because they are dear friends.  Or simply to remember.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of people just chucking old letters, was when Richard told me it was creepy to save them!  I thought everybody saved their letters, simply because those are your friends writing you, they took the time to write you, and the letters are worth saving because of who they came from.  I also wanted to remember what I wrote to people, as a diary, so I saved those as well.

I call it all part of my journal.  The letters and e-mails are saved with other mementoes, neatly organized in date order in file folders, many of which are stored in fireproof vaults.  These are all valuable memories which otherwise would be lost as my brain jettisons things over the years.  Even old letters, mementoes and pictures from my exes are still preserved.

(Anyone who gets jealous over their mates saving such things, I think they’re absolutely ridiculous.  I do not save these because of pining over my exes: I lost all romantic interest in these guys 20 years ago!  I save them for the same reason I save all my other letters: as a diary, reminders of something that was important to me once.  No one has any business telling their mates what to do with old letters from exes long gone!  That’s wanting to control your mate, even their memories!)

I don’t write diaries like I used to, because it’s much easier to save letters and e-mails: They cover many of the events of my life and what I think about them.  Also, nowadays I use my blog and website as a diary/journal.

Then in Writer’s Club in 2014, one meeting was on journaling/diaries.  One member found a treasure trove in his deceased mother’s letters: both to and from people, because she saved drafts of the letters she wrote.  We were encouraged to keep journals of our lives, to save letters.

I posted on Facebook,

As I heard today (and already knew), my archives/journals are perfectly normal–especially for writers–and encouraged. The saving of memories is considered valuable, whether for yourself or for posterity. I must drain the poison of psychological abuse, not allow myself to take any of it to heart and spoil this wonderful thing I have always loved to do.

My friends said things like, “I do the same thing,” it’s beautiful to save letters/journals, who cares what other people think about what you do with your own life.  The president of the club wrote, “Nicely said, Nyssa.”

Come to think of it, Shawn, who sexually used and psychologically abused me back in college, objected to, even scolded me for, keeping a diary about the things he did with me:

He had also complained about me writing in my diary everything that happened between us.  He thought special memories should be kept in the head and not written down.

It was an odd idea that I’d never encountered before, because even special memories begin to fade over time.  In fact, if I hadn’t written these things down, these memoirs would be far less detailed, because I had forgotten so much!

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that. –March 1993, “Shawn Rips Me Apart”

Shawn is the only person I’ve ever encountered who thought a diary was somehow a bad thing.

I’m convinced that anyone who objects to someone else keeping a diary or old letters, is afraid of discovery, that they are abusing that person and don’t want it known. 

I believe the real reason Richard and Tracy said these things was to make me feel just as creepy as they told me I was acting, so I would destroy all my letters and e-mails.  I believe they feared that I was writing down the things they were doing and saying, and that their house of cards would soon fall when I added it all up and realized they’d been deliberately deceiving and manipulating me.

As I record in more detail here, such records give the target of a narcissist and/or abuser more credibility with others, and also help the target keep straight what is real and what is gaslighting.

I have absolutely no fear of anyone keeping diaries or old letters/e-mails to or from me.  Also, if you keep records of your interactions with an abusive person, then you can one day have that “ah-HAH!” moment that means the narc/abuser has now lost all control over you–and that you have proof for others to see, as well.

Yet writers have always been hyper-aware their correspondence might have enduring literary merit. Hunter S. Thompson, for one, made carbon copies of many of his letters…..

One writer who systematically saves his e-mail is Nicholson Baker, whose book ”Double Fold” was a cri de coeur about what is lost when libraries convert newspapers and other rare materials to microfilm.

”I regret deleting things afterward, even sometimes spam,” Baker said. ”I’ve saved almost everything, incoming and outgoing, since 1993, except for a thousand or so messages that went away after a shipping company dropped my computer. That amounts to over two gigabytes of correspondence — I know because my old version of Outlook froze when I passed the two gigabyte barrier. When software changes, I convert the old mail into the new format. It’s the only functioning filing system I have.”

Salman Rushdie is also a saver. ”Yes, I have saved my e-mails, written and received since the mid-90′s when I started using computers regularly, and yes, I suppose any archive deal would include these (pretty extensive) e-mail files,” Rushdie said.

”I e-mail a lot, so there’s all sorts of stuff there, but don’t ask me to remember what it is. Private correspondence, texts, business mail, jokes, everything.” Rushdie said he had backed up a lot of his correspondence on an external hard drive, where he had also transferred messages from old computers.

–Rachel Donadio, Literary Letters, Lost in Cyberspace

The comments to this blog post are full of reasons why old letters and journals should not be destroyed, for sentimental reasons and for posterity. There is regret over letters which were destroyed to de-clutter.  Destroying letters and journals is seen as sacrilege.  Letters and journals are not seen as clutter even if you have a lot of them (not a bit like old clothes or broken lamps).  There is regret over the destruction of letters between one’s parents.

Also see here and here and here. Look at the joy it brings so many people to save these things!  And the historical or sentimental value to much of it!

During my late forties, I began making copies of the letters I sent to my many epistolary friends. I typed those I’d written in longhand before mailing them, and made carbon copies or photocopies of those composed on the typewriter.

By that time the absence of such a record had on a number of occasions been a cause of my dismay, puzzlement, or keen regret.

It happens that I had become a devotée of the forth-and-back call-and-response pulsations of corresponding with souls of widely different temperaments, interests and points of view.

Each of them brought out another side of me: what was sacred to one might be anathema to another; what enthralled one was less than fascinating to the next; what entertained one, another found was not at all amusing.

When the spirit was upon me, I penned or typed long letters to my friends-in-writing in response to theirs. Because each of these epistolary friendships was sui generis, I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually begin saving both sides of each correspondence.

I had learned well that a good habit for indefatigable letter writers to cultivate is to review what was written to whom, and when, lest one weary or wound or offend through a slip of the pen….

The passion to preserve my own papers, strewn with the seeds of every living thing I have read or written, was born of the desire to honor the covenant between the generations. Who has not dreamed the impossible dream of imperishability of all we have loved well? –Audrey Borenstein, Saving Words: Old Letters and Journals

So go ahead, save your old letters and diaries.  And if anyone tells you it’s wrong, tell them it’s your life and you’ll do what you want!  Those memories will become more precious to you over time, as the ones in your head begin to fade.  And your descendants may find them precious as well.  Also, use my story to help you be on guard against narcissistic mindscrews.

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

 

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