Category: shyness

Introvert shaming

I was just reading an article about introversion posted to Facebook by an introverted friend: So Apparently There Are Four Kinds of Introversion

(I was split about equal across all four kinds, by the way)

…And then, of course, in the comments to this article you find mean stuff accusing introverts who post on Facebook about introversion, of looking for pity and attention-seeking.

Sigh….

Once again, people really don’t understand introverts.

No, it’s people posting articles they find meaningful and helpful, the same as everybody else does on Facebook.  My husband’s Aspie cousin also posts lots of things about airplanes.

No, it’s about trying to understand yourself and explain it to others, after spending a lifetime of dealing with people who accuse you of being stuck up, or rude, or all sorts of other things, simply because you are quiet and introverted.

Who have abused you for it, or rejected you for it, or teased you for it, causing deep scars.

Who have scolded you out of the blue, when you were simply being yourself.

And it happens quite often.  It starts in childhood, when you have no idea why the other kids keep rejecting you and bullying you, or why you can’t please your teachers and other adults.

Most people want the approval of others, so telling us to just “shrug it off” won’t work.  No, stuff like this works deep in your psyche, a kind of introvert-shaming.

It causes you to feel like a freak, because not only can you not behave the ways that everybody keeps telling you, you “should,”–

but oftentimes you don’t want to.

Heck, I’ve just come through YEARS of fighting to recover from the emotional damage of being traumatized by Richard and Tracy for being introverted.  The whole story, the extent of how they abused me, starts here.  I recently realized that I finally made it through the darkness and have rebuilt my life again.

Another person in college, Shawn, also psychologically damaged me by criticizing all my introverted and NVLD traits.  I was in love with him, but he rejected me because of my introversion, while also sexually using me.  You can read about him here.  I had to go to counseling to untangle myself from him.  Yet years later, things he did and told me sometimes ring in my head.

If these things happen to me, then they happen to others.  I post my experiences to help other introverts and abuse victims get through the jungle of depression and self-pity, and to the point of accepting themselves–and not accepting abuse from others.

I had no such resource to help me, so I felt all alone.  But I can provide it for others so they don’t go through what I did, so they don’t feel alone.

Finally, we introverts have found a way, through Facebook, to quickly explain to all our friends that our behavior is actually normal and common.  We hope that finally, the judgment and criticism will STOP so we can relax more in social gatherings.

This is also a way to say, “We’re here, we’re introverted, get used to it!”

A way to reverse decades of emotional trauma by realizing we are OKAY.

To begin to empower ourselves.

To rebuild our confidence and become comfortable in our own skin.

To finally have the words we need and the gumption we need to tell people the next time they criticize us, “I’m an introvert, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

To STOP taking the criticism to heart and crying the rest of the day, or however each individual introvert deals with rejection and criticism.

To STOP apologizing for how we are.

To STOP trying to change ourselves and failing, destroying our confidence in ourselves.

To realize that we do indeed have something to offer, making us more attractive to employers, mates and friends.

To have a happy life of taking care of our own needs, rather than fighting against the grain of our own natures.  And that gives us the energy to take care of others’ needs as well.

…And we get accused of “attention-seeking” or looking for “pity.”

Or, another one I’ve seen, of trying to show that we’re “better,” or smarter or whatever, than extroverts.

Um, no.  This is just more introvert-shaming.  Quit it already!

(A Psychology Today article on reversing the effects of “introvert shaming,” on feeling self-worth instead of victimized, is here.  Another blog post from a kindred spirit on introvert-shaming is here.)

 

My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive; My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 6

My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive

I kept the engagement bird up on the living room shelf because I had nowhere else to put it.  Phil told me to keep it.

Though tempted to break the bird into a million pieces, I dreamed that I did and began to sob over the poor bird.  It wasn’t its fault.  So I didn’t break or even chip it.

I later put the game Crack the Case, which Phil had put in my safekeeping, into a cupboard below the sink.

At some point, Phil told me on the phone about things people thought of me and the “advice” they gave.  I objected.  He said, “Are you saying that Dave doesn’t know you?  That Peter doesn’t know you?”

What?  Peter’s problems with me were old and very petty, and Peter said he treated me the way he did because it was hard to deal with his feelings.  He hadn’t seen me much at all since freshman year.

As for Dave, he barely knew me.  He hadn’t seen me all summer, and before that he only saw me for a few months and only every once in a while, when Phil and I weren’t alone together.

He saw me in Botany class and labs, but that’s schoolwork, and I believe I was more into the class or the lab than into being sociable with him.  I still don’t see why he said “we don’t get along” when he had only just met me and I thought we got along just fine.

Dave told all sorts of lies about me, while barely knowing me.

Anyway, Phil used his statement (“do they not know you?”) to justify what his friends said about me: party pooper, Bible beater.

(Peter said nothing to him about breaking up with me, though, because Peter only knew we broke up, not why.  I don’t know when he found out or how he heard.  I believe he said in late winter that he hadn’t spoken to Phil in quite a while after the way the family treated him in early 1994.)

I said these people didn’t know me so well.  Also, what they supposedly said didn’t fit me at all.  I didn’t go to parties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, but usually to parties with my own friends.  I had a great time, so who would call me a pooper?

What did “party pooping” have to do with our relationship or anything else, anyway?  Nothing!  Marriage is not about partying.  (For him to even think so, shows he was not ready for it.)

And he only just said that I wasn’t a Bible beater “like Pearl.”  Even if I was, so what?  I was a Christian, and that was what mattered.  My lifestyle had kept me out of tons of trouble, and eventually, my life would be very happy because of it.

Neither of these so-called “problems” were any reason to break up with a person, and there were many people who wouldn’t consider them “problems” at all.

Phil was probably talking to one of those boring partiers who just wanted to get drunk and do harmful things all the time.  I had no patience with such people, screwing up their brains instead of protecting and using them.

My response was, “Maybe you don’t know me so well after all.”

He said, “Do you really want to be with a guy who doesn’t know you?”  But this is faulty reasoning.  The point is to get to know a person over time, not necessarily to know them very well at the outset.  How can you?  It takes time.

Now I understand that this is triangulation, as I describe here, a tactic used to make you think you’re the problem and that everybody agrees.  But at the time, it just came out of left field.

Phil said on the way back to Roanoke that this was the best summer of his life because he’d been with me.  Then, a few days later, THE END.  How could I believe anything he said to me that week?

I went through almost two weeks of trying to fight away the misery and trying to figure out whether or not we were ever really married.

Phil now said we weren’t after all, that now he wasn’t sure he even believed in marriage anymore, that he no longer thought sex was wrong if the couple loved and were committed to each other, that he was getting desperate and thought it possible he’d sleep with someone in the heat of the moment–all things that crushed me.

****

I heard tell, and could see for myself, that the freshman class was about as big as the three other classes put together.  And now the lunch lines went all the way back to the opposite wall, then doubled up and went all the way back to the outside doors!

The line seemed to take different routes every year: Freshman year, the line would go into the Muskie.  I think at times it had even gone around the other Bossard walls.  I believe sometimes it would also double up over by the Muskie.

Anyway, you had to be careful what time you went to Bossard for lunch, or else you’d get stuck in this line, whatever way it went.  Sometimes we would just sit down and wait for it to get smaller, because it would, eventually.  And what were we waiting for?  School food!  Ugh!  (Though it was better than public school food by far.)

I loved goatees junior year, but senior year–I don’t know, I guess too many guys were wearing them now.

Sarah, Tara, etc. used to say, “PEO-ple! It’s PEO-ple!”  (That came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, one with a tennis-shoed, orange-haired monster in a scientist’s castle.)  Now Tara got us all saying, “PEEP-hole!  We want a PEEP-hole!”

We wanted a peephole on our outside door for safety reasons.  The door didn’t have a window, and neither did that whole wall, so we couldn’t see who was out there before opening it.  When Mike came along and banged on it in his own peculiar way, we didn’t know if it was him or a crazed Zeta.

I loved the honks of the geese by the lagoon.  Though they would threaten me if I went near them, I considered them my friends: Their beautiful sounds consoled me.

Sharon said the choir director complimented her on never having “S– hair.”  S– hair, in those days, was big, curly hair.

****

Now my friends told me the many reasons why they didn’t like Phil.  I always thought they just found his jokes annoying.

I didn’t realize it was the way he treated me, that he treated me like a child, that he was too controlling and possessive.  A couple of years late, Cindy told me she witnessed him yelling at me, and later at the girl he married, and she hated that.

After the divorce, he said the drunk guys at the party called me possessive.  In reality, I only objected when he leered at–not just looked at–or made crass jokes about other women, and when he said he wanted two additional wives.

I never acted like he couldn’t be friends with other women.  It’s not “possessive” to be suspicious of someone who gives you good reason to suspect him.  Apparently, he was just projecting his own trait onto me.

My friends said nothing because they thought I could see it and was okay with it.  But I’d been too blinded by NVLD to notice the things my friends noticed.

I can tell you for sure that this was not just them comforting me after a breakup, like friends sometimes do, telling you all the bad things to get you over him faster.  As I describe later, one of my acquaintances–not one of my close friends–told a friend at dinner one day that she needed to “warn” Persephone about Phil.  I never talked to this person about Phil.

Even after I graduated and got engaged, and no longer cared who Phil dated, my friends saw a new girl date and marry Phil.  They saw him do the same things with her, hated him, even tried to warn her before she married him.

It wasn’t just our opinion, either.  Even Persephone later agreed that he treated his girlfriends like children.  “Sure,” she said, “he’ll be respectful to a girl when she’s just his friend, but as soon as they start dating, he treats her like a child!”  She said maybe it was because he considered his mother a child, and was disrespectful to her.

Dad said Phil was very unstable, and a yo-yo, always going back and forth.  In their talks together, Phil often seemed “stupid.”  Mom said he made too much noise at night, and that in all the time he spent with us, he never lifted a finger to help with the chores, or to pay them back for things they bought him for work.

My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues

One day, I sat in my room thinking, I’m so depressed and I think I’d like to go to church this Sunday.  The phone rang.  Out of the blue, Anna invited me to her church.  I thought maybe she did have a “direct line to God,” as Latosha used to tell her.

The most likely date we went to the church is September 11 (back when that day had nothing bad associated with it).

Anna’s church in S– was noisy, spiritual and full of activity.  I didn’t feel comfortable joining in with shouts or claps or any of that, being a Nazarene (though Dad told me once that Nazarene churches used to be a lot like that).  But a Pentecostal church is the perfect place to go when you’re upset.

Rather than the preacher leading them in prayer, for a time, the congregation was encouraged to pray privately–but out loud.  Anna knelt beside me and prayed in tongues.

I asked her later what the words meant, and repeated what I remembered.  She said she didn’t know, but she always looked them up afterwards in a special dictionary for people who speak in tongues.

I saw my old suitemate Tom there!  After the service, a man told me, “When he came to us, Tom was a messed-up Catholic!”  Then Anna brought him to her church, and there he was that day–a Pentecostal and (as they called it) full of the Spirit!  I couldn’t believe it.  He was so different from the partying suitemate I knew freshman year.

People found out I was a Nazarene (sort of a sister church), so they kept trying to convince me to turn Pentecostal, and that their doctrine on speaking in tongues is the correct one.  But they did this in a nice way, so I was more amused than annoyed.

I must admit, their stories were surprising–like young children speaking in tongues–and I was almost convinced.  But not quite.

Someone gave me a new King James Bible, the church’s usual gift for newcomers.

Anna and I went to school brunch together and talked about the breakup.  I asked what she thought of spiritual marriages, if they were real.  Her answer surprised me: She thought they can be more real than many “legal” marriages that are just a piece of paper.  But she also said we should follow the laws of the land.

Then we went down the Campus Center stairs and saw Phil in the foyer.  Anna left me with him, gushing about how wonderful it was that he was there and I could talk to him.

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:

 

A post to make my blogging worthwhile

I just found this in my stats:

January 23rd post, “Finally, Someone Who Gets It

This blogger just found my post tonight: On Being Judged For Shyness.  After she read it, she wrote, “I’m crying internal tears of joy knowing that there’s someone out there who understands how I feel on a daily basis.  Her closing paragraph really hit home:”

My closing paragraph:

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

If we still don’t say much, don’t take it personally; sometimes it takes a while for us to become comfortable enough with you to talk easily.  Or maybe we simply have nothing to say about that subject.  Because our brains have such a hard time coming up with conversational topics off the cuff, just give us a chance.

Let us be ourselves, and don’t make a big deal about our quiet natures.  It may take a few meetings, it may take 20 or 100, but eventually, we may begin to open up to you.  Even now I can be very quiet in a group of people I’ve known and been comfortable with for years, but one-on-one I can often be more talkative.

It does my heart good to see my posts connecting to others like this.  To know that all the clicking away I do all the time, is starting to reach out to others and make a difference.

 

“The Regime”: Left Behind Review, Part 3 (also goes into narcissism and shyness)

Previous Parts

On page 242, Chloe is described as “suddenly on the phone to her girlfriends all the time…”  LOL, how quaint, a phone.  This book was written in 2005, so the authors have no excuse!  Don’t they know kids these days would rather use their computers and text messaging to communicate with each other?

On page 247, we finally find out information we could’ve used back in the first few books: how th’ heck Rayford, just another airplane pilot, ended up the pilot for Air Force 1.  Turns out he saved the lives of his passengers in a dramatic near-miss with another plane which missed the instructions from the control tower.  And he was in ROTC.  So he ended up on the reserve list for Air Forces One and Two.

The time to explain to us how Rayford and Buck ended up in their high positions, was in the first few books, not now!  Sure the whole back story could wait, but summaries would’ve been helpful.  Otherwise, we just have Buck who never actually bucks much of anything or writes, either, and Rayford who suddenly becomes the pilot for the Antichrist.

Now we even find that Rayford and Tribulation Forcer Abdullah already knew each other, as on page 271 and after, Rayford becomes a consultant on arming commercial planes against terrorists.  On page 276, we find that Rayford is supposed to become a friend to Abdullah (“Smitty”), who is painfully shy, so that Smitty will open up to him about his ideas for arming planes.

On page 258, Rayford asks Irene, “VBS?  What’s that?”  She describes Vacation Bible School.  Now come on, why would Rayford not know what VBS is?  Lots of different kinds of churches host VBS and post signs all over the place, not just Fundamentalists!

On page 259, Irene complains to him about their church, saying,

Our church dances around the truth.  We sing, we read a few verses, pastor Bohrer doesn’t so much preach–and he never teaches–as much as he just shares thoughts.  Like a homily.

Listening to him is like reading those inspirational books full of partly true but mostly made-up stories of long-lost kitties finding their way home, orphans teaching some curmudgeon a life lesson, an elderly woman–“

Hey, wait a minute.  Like a homily?  What’s wrong with a homily?  Catholic and Orthodox churches often do short homilies rather than sermons; my priest can pack quite a bit of hard teaching in one ten-minute homily.

Heck, it’s better than what I had been getting in Evangelical churches as of late, because it skipped the prooftexting, theological errors,  skits, etc., instead getting to the heart of Christianity.

She complains that their church doesn’t get into the “real truth,” the “hard truth.”  Yet, in 2007, even in a Fundamentalist church–the Nazarene church where I grew up–I found a skit, a dinky Scripture reading which was then used to make some vague point about life rather than hard theological truth, and all the things that Irene here complained of.

This is not a “liberal” problem, but one that fills churches all across the spectrum, where “purpose-driven” Evangelical churches (the ones that teach the theology you find touted in these Left Behind books) do what feels good and gets people in the pews.

Even where I found preachers teaching in long sermons full of theology and sin, they used paraphrases such as the Message Bible, the theology was wrong, the Scriptures were prooftexted (i.e. pulled out of context to make a theological point).  I had to leave Evangelicalism and go to an Orthodox church, to find good, hard, Biblical and theological truth–in ten-minute homilies.

To my pleasant surprise, on page 276 when Abdullah is described to Rayford, the authors “get” shy, quiet people like me:

…[Abdullah] has a lot to offer in the way of ideas, according to his superiors.  He knows a lot, thinks things through, and is far and away their best pilot. The trouble is, he’s quiet and apparently painfully shy.  He’s best in one-on-one situations when he has learned to trust someone.  He suddenly becomes a fount of information.

They have put him in uncomfortable situations with dignitaries, diplomats, and the like.  He clams up.

We don’t want you to fake or manufacture anything.  We just want to see if you can become his friend.  And while that may take some time, you understand that terrorism is not on anyone else’s calendar or clock.  If this guy has as much to offer as we think he does, we need to start mining it.

Rather than force or shame him into opening up, they work with his natural temperament.  Bravo!  I can attest to the failure of trying to force a shy, quiet person to start talking, and then blaming that shy person for “not trying hard enough.”

On pages 291 to 292, Abdullah explains Muslim ritual prayers to Rayford.  Instead of appreciating the beauty of the prayers, Rayford finds them “terribly ritualistic and depressing,” reminding him “of his own feeble attempts at religion: the obligation to go to church when he could and guilt when he found excuses not to.”

It probably wouldn’t help to tell him that the Muslims got prostration from the Orthodox Church, some branches of which still do prostrations in services.

On page 310, now we get to see Cameron in action, the star reporter–unlike during the entire series before the prequels, when he barely seemed to care about his job.  The Slacktivist especially gets after him for never actually doing his job.

Nicolae’s narcissistic sociopathy is also finally showing up.  No more do we read that he’s evil, while he promotes peace and other things generally considered good; now we know that he truly is the kind of evil which hides itself behind goodness.

For just one example, on page 364, we read, “Nicolae had learned the art of humility.  Or at least of appearing humble.”  One huge red sign of narcissism is claiming to be humble.  (My ex-narc-friend Richard actually wrote on his Blogger profile that he’s humble.)  A truly humble person will never say so, or think so, because he’s too humble to think he’s humble.

But during the rest of the series, we were often told he was evil, while he tried to promote peace and harmony among all.  We should have been shown his pathology in a more convincing manner, such as getting into his head, because oftentimes very few people really know what’s going on in the head of a narcissist.

Only going into the heads of the Tribulation Force, was very limiting, often leading to questionable choices by the “good guys”–such as working for the Antichrist–so we can listen in to his private conversations without changing point-of-view.

I feel cheated because we are getting so much background information and rich characterization that was sorely missing from the rest of the series.

A scythe should have been taken to much of the series, cutting out all those boring phone conversations about logistics, sermons, and repeating what we already knew.  Then there would have been plenty of room for this background info, interspersed throughout maybe three books instead of twelve.

On page 366, Cameron notes that his coworker Lucinda is very religious, with Christian “artifacts” (picture of Jesus, etc.) in her office; he’s met other Christians at work, but “most were pretty laid-back about it, almost secretive.  It was as if they knew they were in the minority and didn’t want to look like weirdos.”

Um….Being a “person of faith,” as he terms it, I, too, wouldn’t talk too much about it or post a bunch of Christian stuff in my cubicle or office.  But I wasn’t hiding my faith, nor did I fear looking like a “weirdo.”  I was just at my job doing my work, not proselytizing.

I do believe the placement of Chloe’s skepticism in this paragraph is deliberate:

But on the negative side Chloe seemed to think the world revolved around her, that she answered to no one, and that she knew better than anyone else anyway–in particular, her mother.  She believed only in what she could see and touch.  To her God was okay as a concept, but He certainly didn’t really exist, not as a person.

I think atheists would object to skepticism being equated to teen-age self-absorption.

On pages 368 to 369, and 371, we find a power struggle between Irene and Chloe: Irene wants to dictate whether Chloe goes to church, and where she goes to college, even threatening to not pay for college if Chloe doesn’t go to church until she leaves home!  But Chloe has full scholarships, and wants to go 2000 miles away to Stanford, also against her mother’s wishes (it’s “too far”).

Fortunately, Rayford mediates, getting Irene to back off and let Chloe make her own decisions.  He doesn’t understand Irene’s trouble with Chloe, or with her going to Stanford; he’s proud of Chloe, considers her an ideal daughter.

The basic problem is that Chloe doesn’t want to follow Irene’s religion.  Since Irene loses that fight, she “had grown chillier than ever.”  It’s the classic problem of a parent not wanting to let go of her child, who is now nearly an adult and needs to make her own decisions.  I’m on Chloe’s side in this one.

On page 385, we find more clumsy dialogue: Buck says, “I am always busy, and though you are more than twice my age, you are busier than I.”  No contractions, and “busier than I” instead of “busier than I am” or “busier than me”?

These authors have no feel for how people actually talk.  It’s one thing to write that way, but even English majors and writers don’t follow precise grammar in speech.

On to the next book.  This is almost done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[9/2/13-10/1/13]

Struggling to Trust Again After Being Discarded by Loved Ones

Going through my college memoirs for publication on this blog, and adding all sorts of things which I kept private before, has brought something very forceful to mind: the experience of being repeatedly thrown away with disgust by people whom I opened up to and loved in special ways:

1. Shawn: I loved him, opened up to him my deep dark secrets, wrote him long letters over the summertime hoping that revealing my innermost thoughts would inspire him to love me back.

But he kept using my body in various ways, constantly pushing me to do more with him, taking all he could get, then verbally and emotionally abusing me afterwards.

Then he finally tossed me away in disgust and refused to have anything more to do with me for some time, because our religious beliefs told us we were sinners for having sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage.

2. Phil: He got me to forget about Shawn and Peter.  He was the love of my life.  I told him my secrets; we secretly formed a spiritual marriage; we passionately desired each other.

Then he, too, tossed me away because I refused to let him break my spirit and make me an obedient wife who did everything he wanted no matter how painful, degrading or disgusting, and refused to let him verbally and emotionally abuse me without my fighting back.

3. Richard: Because we were both already married, this was friendship and platonic love, no sexual elements at all.  But it was a deep, emotional and intellectual connection: my spiritual mentor, my best platonic friend, a roommate for a time, so I told him very personal things, all my secrets.  Those secrets included details about my exes and religious struggles.  I trusted him and called him my brother.

Then his own dark secrets began coming to light: physical violence, manipulation, child abuse, vindictiveness.

After seeing with horror just how violent he could become with his own best friends over misunderstandings, because his wife forced him to do her bidding and abuse his own best friends (my husband, me, and at least one other friend), my husband and I broke off the friendship–only to receive no attempts at all from Richard to reconcile.

No apologies, just the expectation that all apologies and changed behavior would come from me and me alone.  And, a couple of years later, the beginning of a year-long campaign of intimidation and stalking which continues to this day.

They just don’t want to face the fact that we broke off the friendship not because of me doing anything “wrong,” but because my husband and I both see them as abusive, histrionic, deceptive and manipulative.

Once I got out of the FOG during the process of writing about this, it was much easier to trace the lies and manipulations and put them all together, to recognize how they tried to gaslight me from the very beginning and still tried as recently as last year.

For them to admit that their own actions led to the breakup, would shatter their delusions and make them admit they behaved badly and wrongly.

I feel once again discarded with disgust by someone to whom I had opened up and shared my life story and secrets, to whom I told all the musings which my introverted mind usually keeps locked up for its own use.

I am quiet, shy, introverted, and have NVLD/Asperger tendencies.  Making friends has never been easy, finding dates was never easy, and for many years I’ve lived far away from family and the people I grew up with.

So while I have made many good friends over the years, some of whom I still keep up with, I have been through many periods of loneliness.

Outgoing people tell shy people to just “be more social” and “talk to people” as if it were something everyone can just do and if you’re not doing it you’re just being stubborn.  That isn’t the case at all.

Introverted brains work differently in social situations than extroverted brains do, and if shy people could just flick a switch and stop being shy, then they would never be shy in the first place.

When I open up to someone, and especially if I love him/her in some way, it’s because that person makes me feel safe emotionally.  My quietness ends as I begin pouring out my innermost thoughts in long letters/e-mails to that person, whether it’s a lover or a friend, male or female.  In person, the two of us can talk for hours.

When that person turns around and discards me with disgust, I feel that something about me is deeply unlovable, that the innermost thoughts people say they want to hear, must be bad somehow.  Then the next time, it’s even harder to open myself up to someone else, for fear that it will happen again.  I grow even quieter, even more reserved.

Extroverts and outgoing people should take note that these things do happen, that maybe that shy/quiet person is still like that because opening up to others keeps leading to pain and heartache.

This is why it’s been even harder after Richard’s discard of me, to move on to a new best friend.  The more pain you get from opening up to people, the harder it is to open up to someone new.  But I have opened up to three new people in the last year and a half, who have not discarded me.  I think I can trust them.

I need to focus on the ones who have not discarded me: My husband knows me intimately in every way, yet has not discarded me after 18 years.

My best friends from college are still there for me.  Mike still loves to hear from me.  Sharon still loves to visit me.  Catherine made it very clear on July 4 that she still loves me.

Old friends are still very kind on Facebook even though we have lived in separate states for many years.  Friends nearby with whom I lost touch, are there for me again.

I need to realize that the ones who discarded me, are abusive and probably narcissists as well.  That it is not a reflection on me, and does not make me unlovable in the least.  I just need to be more careful whom I care about.

You will find that you have changed during the course of the relationship with a narcissist. You will walk away completely far removed from the beautiful woman you were when you entered it.

You may have gone from soft, sweet and feminine to hardened and bitter. From trusting, open and receptive to suspicious and untrusting. From self-assured and confident to being full of self-doubt and insecurities.

It will take some hard work on your part to let this damaged part of you go and find your old self again.

A NARCISSIST HAS A CALLOUS DISREGARD – FOR YOU

For most of us breaking up with a narcissist can leave us feeling confused, devastated, and untrusting of all men in the future.

Usually, when a relationship ends both parties grieve some, both parties have regrets and both parties have done things that they feel remorseful for.

But not a narcissist! He walks away from you with a cold, callous disregard. He feels nothing.

……A narcissist can turn from loving you to discarding you almost abruptly as it took for him to ‘idolize’ you after his first meeting you. Uh, what was that? About one date would you say?…….

Truth is, you didn’t exist to the narcissist. He is so totally and completely self-centered to the point of his being the only person in his life – ever.

You simply were a temporary ego-boost. A narcissist supplier (an enforcer and validation of his self-love). His mirror.

You were taken in by his phony charm simply because you trusted men. And now you are left with doubts, insecurities, questions, and extreme hurt that one you cared for could so easily ‘dismiss you’ and then walk away completely unmoved and untouched by the experience.

You want him to hurt, too. To show sorrow. To feel remorse.

So that you can feel important again. Like you mattered.

But you didn’t. And it has nothing to do with you. He simply is unable to care for anyone other than himself, no matter whom they are.

And deep inside you know that you have just wasted years of your life on someone who is an empty fraud. It’s like you imagined everything; nothing was real.

He was a masterful actor when he was getting his ego fed; but now that he is not getting his narcissistic supply from you anymore he simply – and completely – has totally erased you from his life.

It is important to remember that narcissists are ‘plotters’ and he has been plotting the destruction of the relationship since the very first moment his charming, but fake persona met you.

Expect your world to fall apart whereas his world will remain unscathed – as will his emotions. OOPS, pardon me, I made a mistake! Make that “his ‘lack of’ emotions”.

Narcissistic men haven’t any empathy for others, and will never take any direct responsibility for any pain they may have caused. They will never acknowledge their wrongdoings, or apologize to you, because they truly believe themselves to be perfect.

They project all their faults and flaws onto you, accusing you of the very things that they, themselves, are guilty of.

In fact, throughout your entire relationship, you probably were lead to believe that you were the problem when in actuality it was their narcissism that was at fault. You have subconsciously learned to take his attacks personally, because he is so very good at manipulating the people around him….

Yet, the narcissistic ex continually acts in abusive, bewildering and confusing ways. He is not above committing destructive acts. When the breakup becomes a reality, it is likely that his ‘false persona’ will completely disappear all together and you will most likely experience the most hurtful of behavior from him.

He is completely lacking in empathy, and – since he is not receiving any admiration from you anymore – he will dismiss you and discard you as worthless to him, consequently dropping any fake front that he use to put up in order to keep you in the relationship. –SexandMiami’s How falling in love with a narcissist has changed me forever

The above quoted post applies in various ways to all my ex-relationships with probable narcs, both boyfriends and friends.

The same goes for friends. A Narc likes friends that are shiny and new. That are entertaining or amusing.

That are reliable, even though he won’t be reliable when they call for him, or if he is, it’s because he is trying to keep them staying loyal to him, not because he cares about them, but because of the benefits they bring to his life.

Also, the Narcissist will immediately size up his friends as either capable or incapable of dominating. The Narc is always aware of whether he is in the dominant or submissive role in his relationships and friendships.

This is instinct to the Narcissist, who understands only power, not love or empathy. –Comment in thread How are narcissists with their friends?

 

Yeah, don’t go around thinking everyone’s a Narcissist just because they’re putting their needs and wants above yours. So much of Narcissism occurs in the Narc’s own mind that it’s hard to pick them out.

Some clues: do they live a transient lifestyle, move from place to place, or from job to job? Do they dump friends a lot?

Do they think very highly of themselves without an objective reason to do so (i.e., do they think they’re smarter or more attractive than they are, or do they pride themselves in whatever ability they really do have to an unhealthy, egotistical extent)?

Do they have trouble getting close to people? Do they seem controlling or manipulative? Do they have trouble with boundaries being set between them and other people? Do they fear intimacy?

Do they start a new relationship by building the other person up and acting like they’re perfect, only to tear them down over time and then dump them? Do they get offended when you criticize them for even minor reasons? –Comment in thread How are narcissists with their friends?

Yep.  These last two quotes apply.

 

Extroverts bullying introverts; also, Letting go of Richard because he could not accept me as an introvert

Occasionally, I’ll find a search term in my blog stats which interests me, and go look it up myself.  (These are the terms people type into search engines, which bring them to my blog.)  Tonight, such a search term led me to this page:

Me: Extrovert.  She: Introvert.  Can this relationship survive?  Should it?

The title is self-explanatory.  In reading the question and the responses from introverts, I recognized myself in the girlfriend and the other introverts.

The writer’s feelings about her introversion, reminded me of all those irritating comments I get from extroverts: Why don’t you talk?  You’re so quiet!  Smile!  And, of course, the “helpful” advice on how to change myself and be more outgoing.

Or criticisms that I’m “not lively enough,” that my quietness/shyness is a character flaw that I must work to overcome, or else I’m “in my shell” or being stubborn or not pushing myself enough.

Or the manager at work who treated my shyness as a discipline problem, saying that others were “afraid” to talk to me because I was quiet, directing me to push myself, make more small talk, etc.  (I felt vindicated later on when the president of the company complained that people were spending far too much time socializing and needed to talk about work during work hours.)

Then, of course, my favorite, Richard telling me one night that maybe my friends get tired of me not wanting to leave my “comfort zone,” even though he did not know my friends, never met my friends, never spoke to my friends, and had no reason to think this.

The comments in the AskMetaFilter article reminded me of the early days of my relationship with my husband:

When we were first dating, my extroverted husband would take me to SCA events, but then run off and do who knows what, without telling me where he was going or for how long.

I’d spend quite a bit of time either standing around alone, or with people I barely knew, and feeling miserable, or looking all over for him.  I felt abandoned, bored, awkward.

He’d want to go there early in the day and stay for hours; I got drained, overstimulated.  I began to hate SCA events; this is why I stopped going for a long time, thinking it was the SCA itself which did not appeal to me.

The same thing happened once at a wedding dinner: After we finished eating, he just got up and left.  He went to chat with friends, but didn’t say where he was going or invite me along.

So I sat there at the table, with a stranger, and neither of us spoke; I felt miserable, abandoned, bored.  It wasn’t about him chatting with friends, but about me feeling abandoned.

Over time we worked things out as he discovered how I felt to be left alone among strangers, that I enjoyed SCA events much more if I was with him, that I wanted to be sociable but could only stand an event for a few hours.

The comments reminded me of my ex Phil, who during/after the breakup accused me of being a “party pooper,” told me other people considered me one because I am quiet, shy, and (allegedly) did not want to go dancing with him (even though we went to several dances, and even though I didn’t recall him ever asking me to go to a club before the night I had a concussion).

He twisted it into a character flaw and a good reason to break up with me, because my ideas of fun were different from his!

It is so very reassuring to read through these comments, and through various other blogs and articles I’ve found about introversion over the past several years, and find that I’m okay the way I am.  That it is not at all a “character flaw” to be introverted/shy.

For a while I thought it was selective mutism, but when I read about selective mutism, it seems more like extroverts pathologizing the more extreme introverts, and trying to “fix” them because they must be “wrong” and “unhappy” the way they are.  I read that “selective mutism” is not generally caused by abuse, and that it can run in families.  So…Couldn’t it just be extreme introversion?

This comment put words to one main reason why I could not be forced into friendship with Tracy, into jumping her hoops to please her:

You seem to be unwilling to let her be her. If she’s not comfy around your friends after six months, bitching to MeFi won’t change that. And neither will confronting her about it.

Now she’ll sit there quietly thinking “these are the friends I have to be OK with” the entire time. Sounds miserable to me, I’d stop seeing your friends ASAP if you told me that. –Brian Puccio, Comment

I’ve written about this in various other posts, and here (20,000-word version) and here (summary + option to read full story), so I don’t want to rehash it all.

But the above AskMetaFilter link reassured me that my husband and I made the right decision when we ended the “friendship” with Richard and Tracy.  Because they were extroverts who:

  1. showed zero empathy to my introversion, so much so that even my husband noted it
  2. would not accept me as I was
  3. insisted I was “making excuses” and needed to “push myself”
  4. insisted on pushing, guilting and punishing me into becoming extroverted, even accused me of being a “victim” by not becoming extroverted–but when I said “STOP trying to change me” said “I’m not trying to change you” and got petulant and said I needed to get over my hurt feelings before talking to him again
  5. even went so far as to go into narcissistic rages with cussing and fury and punishments and blame and physical intimidation and threats because I could not become the extrovert Tracy wanted me to be–so everything I did, even though Tracy was okay with other friends doing them, I was not “supposed” to do, (even after I was specifically told that I could do them)
  6. accused me of “false facts” and called me crazy for writing about all these things and calling them bullies, even though there is nothing “false” or “defamatory” about the truth

Because of all these things, I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my husband and I did the right thing in severing all relations with them.  Not just romantic partners, but friends, especially best friends, need to accept you the way you are.  If they can’t, then they don’t belong in your life.

I read through the comments in the AskMetaFilter article, and recognize so much of what Richard and Tracy did, and the things I tried to explain to them, that I see that no, what I wrote is indeed what happened, nothing “false” about it.  Tracy tried to force me to change to be an extrovert to please her, I resisted because at my age I knew it was impossible, so she punished and bullied me in various overt and covert ways.

Commenters in the AskMetaFilter article suggested ways to steer the introvert into conversations rather than leaving them to fend for themselves; Richard basically left me to fend for myself, with plenty of criticisms but no actual help at the times when I was around Tracy, and trying to force and guilt me into things I did not feel comfortable with, such as hugging Tracy.

Because Richard went along with her instead of actually listening to me and realizing that introverts cannot “push themselves” into being extroverts, that we’re not “making excuses,” that our quiet and introverted behaviors are not character flaws or deliberate attempts to annoy Tracy, that we need to be accepted as we are–

–He was not a good friend at all.  I think the more I accept and realize that he was not a good friend, the more I will let go of the false dream of him as my “best” friend.

I contrast it with how my husband has responded to my explanations of the introverted brain and how social situations tax me.  It is a huge difference.

 

Selective Mutism: Disorder or Extroverts Pathologizing Introverts?–Examining the Natural and Childhood Sources of my Quietness

I really struggle with this one.  I fit all or most of the selective mutism characteristics, because I am very quiet, even as an adult, and I’m also very shy.

But the more I learn about introversion, the more it sounds like quietness is a perfectly natural part of introversion, because of the way our brains process information and social situations, as contrasted to extroverts.

Since I am also very quiet most of the time even in groups of friends I’m familiar and comfortable with, my shyness is not the direct cause of my quietness.

Rather, it’s because I need time to process and come up with responses, which often leaves me left in the cold as extroverts talk over me when I try to talk, or the topic has already changed by the time I come up with a comment.

Or I just plain don’t have anything to contribute, because I don’t know enough about, or am not interested in, the topic.  Whatever I might say, others say before I get a chance.

I used to go to planning meetings for my church’s GreekFest, but stopped because I had nothing to contribute, and somebody even mentioned that I say nothing.

I’ll say almost nothing at a general assembly meeting for my church, then get home and e-mail thoughts to the parish council, thoughts which I could not properly formulate till I was at home with my keyboard.

While at home, with my husband or parents or roommate or best friend, I can be quite the chatterbox, though if I have nothing to talk about or my brain is taken up with my latest perseveration, I say nothing.

If I’m called upon to read aloud–at church, at school, wherever–I can do it with ease.  People have often complimented my reading skills, from as far back as at least middle school, and they do so when I read the Epistle at church.  I’m often called upon to read passages during Lenten services as well.

I do not have to think what to say; I simply read the text, make myself forget that a whole church is listening, and do not stumble over difficult names.

But I’m also very shy.  I don’t initiate conversation with strangers.  I struggle to speak to people who make me uncomfortable, especially if they are mean to me.

So is it selective mutism?  Or is it introversion?

Or have psychologists labeled an introverted trait as a “disorder” because we now live in a society which values extroversion, when in the olden days introversion was acceptable, and character was valued over personality?

I do know that research has shown that forcing a selective mute to speak, through shame or anger or punishment, is counterproductive.  I also know that research has shown that forcing an introvert to speak doesn’t work, since our brains are simply wired differently than an extrovert’s.  So–regarding the use of force, both are the same.

Susan Cain describes this eloquently in her new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Prior to the 20th century, we lived in what she terms “the culture of character.”  Individuals were judged primarily on the content of their character.

By the 1920’s, as America became more urbanized, and salesmanship became a vital part of the economy, people started being judged on their apparent personality. First impressions took on greater importance.

It was vital to be perceived as “captivating” and having a strong personality.  Winning friends and influencing people became the goal. –Greg Markway, PhD, Introverts Need Not Apply: The Problem With a World That Chooses Extraverts

I recommend Shyness is Nice, a blog about the value of shyness and quietness.  Some quotes:

The real revelation for me, though, is that being shy isn’t even necessarily a social handicap. Shy people have a great gift: their gut about whom to trust. It comes from years of observing people and a deep fear of being burned, and it pulls us away from the frigid, hateful and fake. –Celia Ampel, I’m Shy and I’m OK

Socially, I remained very reserved. I didn’t say much, other than to the small group of nerdy friends I regularly ate lunch with. I remember one day being stunned when a girl at school asked me, “Why are you so stuck up?”  –Greg Markway PhD, Introverted? Shy? How the World Misperceives Us

Yeah, I’ve gotten that one too, a few times.  It’s totally off-base.  I’m far too scared of people to think myself better than them, far too awkward and uncertain of myself, while they seem to know just what to do or say.

Today, Emily would be diagnosed with selective mutism.  The subtle, but significant, change of words from elective to selective represents a major advance in how we think about the condition.

Selective mutism is a variant of social anxiety disorder in which a child, who is normally capable of speech, is unable to speak in given situations, or to specific people.

Emily made progress even though I knew very little about what I was doing at the time. She had wonderful parents who accepted her struggles while also helping her gradually take tiny steps out of her comfort zone.

October is Selective Mutism Awareness Month, and I thought this would be a good time to discuss briefly some facts and myths about the disorder:

  • We now know that children with selective mutism desperately want to speak. Some children have described feeling that their vocal chords “freeze up.”
  • It is not a matter of will or stubbornness; it involves an underlying anxiety disorder that literally prevents speech in certain circumstances.
  • Children with this disorder tend to have shy, inhibited temperaments. They frequently are “highly sensitive persons.” –Greg Markway PhD, Scared Speechless: Children with Selective Mutism

In Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, she describes some extremely important research dealing with this issue of culture. The study, conducted by Xinyin Chen and Kenneth Rubin of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and Yuerong Sun of Shanghai Teachers University, compared children in both cities to determine what traits made children popular.

Among the group of 480 students in Shanghai, “shy” and “sensitive” children were the most sought-after as friends. In contrast, among the 296 Canadian children, shy and sensitive children were the least desirable.

This study shows that whether you’re accepted by others can have little to do with you personally and much to do with the prevailing cultural norms.  –Dr. Barbara Markway PhD, Quiet is Not a Four-Letter Word

Westerners tend to focus more narrowly on individuals, independence and on individuals taking action, while Asians are more likely to focus on context, harmony, and interdependence. –Greg Markway PhD, Shy and Popular? Depends on Where You Live

Recently, there was a letter to Dear Abby about a little girl who was too shy/anxious to talk with her aunt on the phone. When the aunt would visit, the girl would hide in her bedroom and not come out. The aunt asked Abby for confirmation that this girl was rude.

I thought for sure that Abby would suggest the aunt be more understanding of a frightened child. Instead, Abby labeled the girl as rude, but allowed that the child might need therapy.

What gives the aunt, or Dear Abby for that matter, the right to pin a negative label on a shy and sensitive child? Why does our society consider the shy and anxious to be defective? While I agree that this child may need help, what she needs most is to be accepted and understood.

As a therapist, I learned long ago that the quickest way to help someone change is to accept who they are first….

There is nothing wrong with being shy….

However, labeling this little girl as rude or obstinate will only compound the problem.

A healthier (and more effective approach) would be to accept that the child has a shy/anxious temperament.

Understanding friends and family members could tell the little girl that it is ok to feel anxious, that most people feel this way at times. They could help the child gradually practice small steps in being more sociable, to try things that take the child slightly out of her comfort zone. –Greg Markway PhD, Rugrats Vs. Dear Abby: The Wisdom of Chuckie

Michael Jones explains things this way:

It’s just not so. Children who are very quiet in school, and who are unhappy about it, are probably shy or are introverts. Children who are totally silent in school, but talk a lot at home with their family, may have selective mutism.  What’s the difference?

A shy child is keen to join in, but is anxious about how other people might react to them having a go at something, or talking in a group. Their anxiety can be so great that it stops them from joining in.

A child who is an introvert will enjoy being with other people, and may join in, but will be energised by being on their own: to think their own thoughts and to ‘do their own thing’.  Or they may operate best when working in pairs or small groups because they prefer the company of a few people at a time.

A child with selective mutism has developed an extreme anxiety about talking outside their home. They may have developed a dread of talking, or the possibility that someone will try and make them talk. They can be so anxious that they may ‘freeze’ physically and be unable even to move. —Shyness, Introversion and Selective Mutism Explained

So what is it if you’re just naturally quiet among friends and co-workers but not a bit shy, but shy and quiet with acquaintances and strangers?

I have no anxiety among friends and very little with co-workers with whom I have a good social relationship, yet I’m still quiet with them; that’s completely introversion.

But I’m shy with strangers and people I don’t know very well, speaking only when spoken to, so is that selective mutism?

Could my quietness be related to bullying, or is the bullying related to my quietness?

Hard to say in the early years.  I was always shy and uncertain.

I do recall a group of kids I tried to join in my early years of school, but they always ran away from me and made fun of me, and I had no clue why, so that helped teach me subconsciously that reaching out to make friends was “wrong.”  That it was bad to try to join a group.

In more adult terms, that me trying to make friends with somebody was stalkerish, that they had to invite me first.

This was reinforced in later years a few times when I would try to call a friend on the telephone, like other girls do, and they’d say I called too much, or ask in puzzled tones why I called.

I was always just as happy playing by myself with my dolls and imagination, as with other kids.  Even on the playground, if with friends I often played pretend games based on imagination, or played pretend by myself while surrounded by other kids.

To my friends and I, the brown tunnel (a drainage pipe painted like a log with a knothole) became the forest home of us, a family of foxes.

Yes, I did have friends, sweet and kind kids who didn’t care that the others called me weird; I could talk to them, while I was shy with other kids.

While the other kids simply played on the Kee-Klamp (a kind of twisted pipe with ladders), to me the Kee-Klamp was where the human settlers of the 10th planet from the sun (Spimpy) stayed to keep off the poisonous ground.

My imagination was fertile enough to keep me occupied even if I was alone.  That’s not anxiety, that’s introversion.  I often wish I could remember more of those games and worlds, so I could write them into children’s books.

I was bullied practically from birth by one of my brothers, who is still a bully to this day, so I have distanced myself from him in adulthood.  I live in a different state, making this easy.

I was also bullied all through school, starting in first grade, not ending until I graduated high school, so I had no reason to expect good things from new kids.

While most of my teachers were kind to me, I have had a couple of teachers who tried to shame and force me into being more outgoing: my teacher in 4th/5th grade, and my college German teacher.

Their shame and force did not work.  I couldn’t control which teacher I had in elementary school, and being in a MACPO school for gifted children, I expected to have the same teacher from 4th through 6th grade.

(I’d include a link, but all I get when Googling “MACPO” is a Minnesota group for probation officers.  MACPO was around in the 80s, but appears to have been replaced with PACE or Montessori schools.  My childhood school now has an entirely different structure.)

But when the structure changed in 6th grade, I was put in a class with just 6th graders and a brand-new teacher.  She had more rules of behavior, more structure, rather than the go-at-your-own-pace which had inspired me to slack off.  She was also kinder, gentler.  Both points helped me thrive under her direction.

I’ve always gravitated toward kind people, and been repulsed by fiercer personalities.  In college–as you can see in my college memoir posts about freshman and sophomore year–I was bullied by my German teacher, and could not understand why she was complaining about things which other teachers did not complain about.  I ultimately dropped German, and did much better with other teachers.

I was also very outgoing the first month of my freshman year of college (though my “friend” Shawn tore it all down by saying I was too shy).  I didn’t go up to random strangers and say hi (which Shawn told me to do), but I did quickly warm up to other students and my suitemates.  I knew why this was:

During orientation activities, we were told that we freshmen were all in the same boat, all among strangers, all by ourselves, so reach out to others.  Since I knew the other freshmen were just as alone as I was, I was able to break that reserve and make friends within the very first week.

I went into more regular patterns eventually, but that initial outreach gave me people to sit with at meals, leading to more familiarity with them, and their friends coming into my social circles.  It’s a lot harder to break in when everyone else already has established friendships and connections, and you’re the newcomer.

I also went through a couple years of counseling with a child psychologist in the later elementary grades.  I don’t recall precisely which years, though it started after 5th grade, on recommendation from my aunt (probably borderline because of all the people she’s pushed away recently), who tried to push me into social skills through force and criticism, then declared she could do nothing with me.

But with the psychologist, I made considerable improvement socially and in my attitude at home, according to my mother.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of NVLD and Asperger traits overlap with introversion, making me wonder at first if NVLD and Asperger’s were also pathologizing introversion.

But no, NVLD and Asperger’s are not just about social awkwardness.  NVLD includes such things as visual-spatial issues, math problems, handwriting problems, trouble with maps, novel situations, organization; Asperger’s includes various forms of stimming, perseveration, trouble driving, fixed routines.

Because I have all or most of those issues, overcoming handwriting and organization problems but still struggling with others, I still consider NVLD and/or Asperger’s to be extremely likely for me, even with the explosion of information about introversion in recent years.

I also am nowhere near the levels I was as a child.  While I am still very shy and very quiet, I did blossom somewhat as I got through my teens and early adulthood.

This is one reason why I’ve never gotten officially diagnosed: The times when it was truly a problem, when a psychologist or neurologist may have easily made a diagnosis because I exhibited so many traits of selective mutism, NVLD and Asperger’s, nobody had heard of such things, so I was never tested.

I was tested once for something, probably a learning disability, but nobody ever told me the results or what it was all about.  I just remember things about it that seemed unusual, and I believe I was the only kid in my class put through that test.  It was probably in 4th or 5th grade, with that teacher who criticized me all the time.

I always knew I was different from all the other kids (even in the “gifted” school which should have been full of socially awkward or imaginative kids), but didn’t know why, or even why they were not like me.

But in adulthood, when I finally discovered the probable source (NVLD), I had overcome and progressed in so many challenges that I no longer needed a diagnosis so much.

I keep reading about people with autism or Asperger’s or NLD or other social challenges getting early intervention and succeeding in school and life, so we are capable of improvement, and this does not negate a diagnosis.

Susan Cain has a blog, The Power of Introverts: Join the Quiet Revolution.  I intend to start following it.  This is good: After 40 years, I finally find that my way of being is not “wrong,” and have a way to explain why I am the way I am.  Whether it’s “selective mutism” or just introversion, it is the way I am, and I have a right to be so.

After all these years, I can finally be more comfortable with myself, and know that I have valid reasons to expect others to accept me as I am, rather than trying to change me or (as Richard did) accusing me of being a “victim” or (as Tracy did) accusing me of needing to “grow up and TALK.”

No, if you can’t accept me as an introvert, as the quiet one, if you want to force me to change to suit you rather than working with my natural temperament, then YOU are the one with the problem.

Selective Mutism: a collection of information on SM

Some more on the confusion about Selective Mutism, shyness and introversion, to help us answer the questions posed at the top of my post:

Is your child an introvert?

Selective mutism vs. shyness

Waiting (not so) patiently for my child to speak

Selective Mutism

Now to post this without proofreading because I really ought to get to bed: church in the morning…..

[Note: This post seems to have inspired some confusion here and here.  My response is here

Finding these criticisms of me for having questions and looking for answers and keeping a log of what I find and what I think of–That’s a good way to shut up someone who already struggles with speaking up.  If I’m just going to be beaten down for having questions, why speak?

I thought other people with SM would understand the questioning and confusion, not criticize someone for asking and searching.

In summary, I only bring up questions here which kept concerning me as I researched selective mutism between 2008 and the writing of this post.

I explore various possibilities as I ponder whether selective mutism describes me.  I quote articles which seem to help answer the questions.  I examine how the articles on selective mutism relate to my own experiences. 

Apparently I neglected to mention my childhood anxiety, which “froze” my vocal chords.  (Though I did mention my psychologist, which apparently got missed.)  And that in 4th grade, of all the class stuffed animals, I preferred one cat puppet, because through that I “spoke.”

And that the common response to my adult quietness–even from other introverts–was to make me feel like it was “wrong” to be quiet.  Making me sensitive to quietness being labeled a disorder, even severe shyness/quietness on the level of selective mutism. 

I instead wanted it to be called simply a variation which should be accepted, rather than forcing the quiet ones to speak through ostracism, pressure, scolding, etc. 

I wondered if half the problem with selective mutism is actually the reactions of others causing anxiety in the mute child.  If accepting it as a variation would help draw out the mute, who would feel safer.

Apparently you’re not supposed to have questions, just know all the answers.]

Some more of my posts on selective mutism, but not all:

Selective Mutism strikes at a Zeta party
Why I Struggle to Let Go of Richard; Also, Musings on NVLD/Asperger’s
NVLD (this page explains in more detail why I was offended by extreme shyness being labeled a disorder)
I must be accepted as I am–introversion, NVLD and all–or you’re out
How to bully an introvert–and assets of NVLD

Toxic Mix of Abusers and Introverts

In Introverts and emotional vampires–a toxic mix, just posted on Wednesday, Paula Carrasquillo writes,

Emotionally abusive people like the boy interpret an introvert’s desire to be alone as a personal insult to them.

Abusive people are VERY insecure and abuse others through asserting their control over them. They want to control what you do, who you know, who you talk to, and even what you think.

Because I like to be alone to refresh my brain, I was often accused of alienating him from my life and not loving him enough.

One of my activities that he especially disliked was me exercising on the elliptical machine for 20-30 minutes each evening after work. The boy HATED that I did this.

He interpreted it as me choosing some other activity in order to avoid him because I must not love him enough (or some such shit reason that he would pull from his pathetic ass).

She describes how giving in to her sociopathic ex’s demands for her to abandon her introverted ways, resulted in losing herself and being very stressed.

This matches my own experience with Richard and Tracy.  See here.