The Snuggle House in Madison: How sad to see this close because of closed minds

I just learned about this–and it’s already closed:

The Snuggle House

And it’s closed

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More descriptive article

and here

It sounds like a beautiful concept by beautiful people–but the city thought it was about sex.  And there are so many other haters against this concept.

What a shame that our society sees touching–even simple cuddling–as leading to sex.  This business recognized that many people don’t have someone to snuggle with.  And what’s wrong with cuddling with friends to watch a movie?

I have SCA friends like this, but also encounter people who think there’s something “wrong” or “inappropriate” about snuggling with people not in their family.  Why make a beautiful thing dirty?  Let’s abolish this mindset, open up, and lighten up!

Cuddle with your friends, not just your lover or children!  There’s nothing wrong with nuzzling the top of a friend’s head during a hug!

The uptight attitude of American society to such things, is why we have “snuggle houses” to begin with.  If more people were more open to this, nobody would need to pay $60 for a hug, not even someone without a family at home to snuggle with.

There is such a place in New York, and the Cuddle Party people have been around for a while.  But I guess this business was ahead of its time for Wisconsin.  From an AP report:

Madison’s concern seems to be deeper than in other cities where similar businesses have set up shop as cuddling has grown into a cottage industry over the past decade.

Police in Rochester, N.Y., said they’ve had no complaints about The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddle sessions.

Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colo., offers cuddles with “Snuggle Stars.”

Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco offers packages that “focus directly with your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch,” according to its website.

Police in San Francisco and Boulder didn’t respond to The AP’s inquires about those businesses.

The nonprofit organization Cuddle Party has trained about 100 people across five continents to run group snuggle sessions, said Len Daley, a psychologist who serves as executive director at Cuddle Party headquarters in Montgomery, Ala.

Betty Martin, a Seattle-based sex educator who facilities cuddle parties in that city, said she’s never had problems with government officials or police. Cuddle Party participants must keep their clothes on and go through a pre-session workshop on how to say “no,” she said.

“People think if there’s touch happening there must be sex happening. That’s not the case at all,” Martin said.

 

Hopefully, one day America will be more receptive to cuddling between friends and not just family or children.  This lack of touch is probably one reason why our society is so violent.

 

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Realizing how Richard manipulated me into doing things I shouldn’t

This video, “NPD and BPD” by Delusion Dispeller, on the differences between NPD (narcissism) and BPD (borderline) makes Tracy sound more narcissistic than borderline.  DD shows that the narcissist will just let you go, while the borderline will try to hold onto you.

She even goes into breaking the BPD’s rules without knowing what they are–which sounds very familiar.  She says you never know what will offend them because it will one minute, but not the next.

The danger of researching personality disorders, of course, is not just falsely labeling your friends and enemies (so I only say this after probably dozens of hours of research and reflection), but beginning to think you yourself identify with this or the other one.

But then, if I were these things, I don’t think Jeff would have stuck with me for so long, telling everyone he can what a great wife I am.  Things were rocky for us in the beginning because of the baggage left over from my exes (at least one of which also fits with this), but that has long since passed as Jeff and my desire for me to be a good person, worked together to eradicate the baggage.

I do recall things in my past that are very embarrassing, and cringe that I ever did them; maybe everybody has done such things, and the cringing is a sign that they are NOT actually crazy.  While if they didn’t cringe at all, maybe they really are crazy.

Perfectly normal people do have various traits that show up in the lists of abusive or personality disordered traits, because we are human, not perfect; what makes a person fit the criteria of an abuser is the number of traits, all working together as a whole.

Also, the things I did, were usually because I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know intuitively that they were bad ideas, a common problem with NLDers, who often either smother or neglect friendships or relationships because they don’t know intuitively how to proceed, don’t pick up on signs of what their friend or SO wants without being directly told, or if they do pick them up, don’t understand them.

I had no idea that the things I did would receive the reactions and consequences they did.  I never did them again.

While if it were a personality disorder, they would stay with me, and probably be done deliberately in order to gain control and dominance over others.

The people who know me best tend to say glowing things about me, though they do have criticisms from time to time.  But the thoughts still keep creeping in from time to time–maybe Tracy was right.

On the one hand I could be alarmed at this, and see it as evidence that she was crazy-making me, which is indeed something abusers do to take the focus off their own dysfunctions and accuse you.

But on the other hand, I can also embrace it as evidence that I’m not crazy, because if I were BPD or narcissistic or the like, I wouldn’t even consider the possibility that I might have done some things wrong.

Rather, there are things I look back on in this whole experience with Richard and Tracy that sometimes make me go inside myself and shiver inwardly in shame, while those around me probably think I’m just quietly watching a movie with them.

Friends and Jeff have at times scolded me for even considering anything Tracy said, telling me (friends) to consider the source, or (Jeff) that I did nothing wrong.  This is reassuring, but I have trouble releasing the occasional feelings of guilt or shame that let me know I am not a monster myself.

It should also be noted, that a person involved with a Borderline for even a limited time, will be prone to adopting psychotic (BPD) symptomology, due to proximal exposure. That’s why we call their behaviors, “crazy-making.” —The Borderline/Narcissist Couple

This explains some of the things I’ve done in dealing with the BPDs or narcissists or abusers who have come and gone in my own life, including Richard and Tracy.

For example, the narcissist abuser Phil who kept trying to tear me down and telling me it was all my fault, that I always had to get my way–while his way involved painful or disgusting sex positions that I didn’t want to do.

Or Peter, who may very well have been BPD because of his “chameleon-like” way of making a girl think he was her perfect man, before his true colors came out later and he treated her like crap for being upset at getting dumped.

Not only did he do this with me, but a few years later I was told–by a person who had no clue I had once dated Peter–that he was doing this very thing again and again to girls on a local BBS.

As for some of the crazy things I’ve done myself while dealing with these people, they’re things I felt driven to do out of desperation.  Later on, I usually felt ashamed of it and wondered how I could ever have done it, never doing it again.

I know from research that normal, healthy people don’t stay normal and healthy for long in dysfunctional marriages, or family relationships, so if I acted crazy myself a few times during dysfunctional relationships or friendships, it’s understandable even if not excusable–but doesn’t mean I will permanently retain the taint of their dysfunction.

I did a lot of research into abuse to see if I had been abused, validate my experiences, reassure myself that I did not deserve it, and hopefully learn to heal.  When I first came across Sam Vaknin’s site on narcissism, it was through his articles on abuse.

I had already used them when writing about my abusive ex Phil, and when researching abuse between 2008 and 2010.  (I did that because of Tracy’s behavior, and so I could make my own page on abuse.)

On one page was a list of narcissistic traits of abusers which sounded just like Tracy, so the lightbulb went on.  I also came across sites which pointed to borderline personality disorder in many abusive women.

But as I read Sam Vaknin’s articles on narcissism, an uncomfortable little voice kept saying: Oh my gosh, that’s Richard, too!

This cemented the idea that not only did I not deserve what happened, but I was targeted by two narcissists, one with BPD that made her abuse obvious, but one charming narc who makes you believe he cares–more dangerous because it is subtle.

Also, this sounds very much like Richard and Tracy.  Now, when it goes into the childhoods of NPDs (narcissists) and BPDs (borderline personality disordered people), I know Tracy came from a very dysfunctional family, while Richard said glowing things about his parents–even excusing it when he hinted at his dad abusing him in some way.

As for narcissism, the know-it-all traits under the subheading “What’s Love Got to do with It” sound very familiar, coming across as an absolute authority, one-upping, mansplaining, telling you what you’re thinking or feeling, and yes, it is very infuriating.

Then he’d wonder why I was getting upset over something he said.  “Where did that come from?  I was only….[etc. etc.]”

I can imagine the same thing happening with Tracy.  So no, I don’t believe the abuse was all one-sided in this relationship, and as much as I don’t want to see Richard as a narcissist, he fits far too well.

Not only from what I’ve seen, but from what Jeff has observed, from his Forum enemies calling him “arrogant” and him agreeing, and from things he has told me about his past–not just boasts, but also confessions of his own bad behaviors, whether with women or with people in general.

Not only did he overwhelm people with charisma, but he also kept overwhelming me with TMI that made me want to take an ice pick to get it out of my brain.

Then in June 2010, made some strange comment about needing to set some boundaries about his past relationships, even though he’d been the one volunteering all sorts of information to me–even stuff I really didn’t want to know.

But thanks to this, I can identify from the above link that he has a tendency of getting enmeshed with BPDs.

Also note that BPDs who have issues with their mothers (such as Tracy) can hate all other women.  This sounds very familiar, as well.  Also, people would note that Tracy was never satisfied, a trait which comes up again and again in articles on abusers and BPDs.

I believe Richard is a narcissist who used me for narcissistic supply, maybe unintentionally or without realizing it, but still did it.  He had told me enough about his past which seemed so different from the way he was now, that it was amazing he was talking about the same person.

It was an arrogant, abusive person who was a dog to women and violent to men, who would judge people based on their smarts.  I have to wonder now if that old Richard was really gone, or just hidden.

Based on how he would brag about his past and all the women who would chase him then and now, and how his exes would sit and talk to each other about how evil he was, and his outrageous flirting that was carried on with his various female friends (and male), even via text message while he proposed to his wife–I do believe he is a casanova figure.

He wants to be desired, wants to be the ladykiller even though he’s married and not allowed to touch any of them.  He wants to be the casanova even though he’s long since let himself go quite a bit and no longer looks anything like he did back in his youth.

So he toyed with me, played with my head, when he was separated from his wife for so long and they were having problems.  He told me beforehand that modern American society is far too prudish and reserved.  We should be freer!

(Months later, he even told me one day that I was prudish for wearing a robe over my nightgown around him, that they had another friend who just wore her nightclothes freely around both of them, no robe.)

Then one evening he took a few liberties with me, but holding back just enough that he could feign innocence when I called him on it later.  I won’t rehash that story; it’s already here, here and here.  From here on out I will just assume my reader has read those sections, so I don’t have to repeat what happened.

I’m not sure what exactly to make of it–I’ve seen him get flirty with everybody he knows, and ask for “huggles”–but the way he threw me to the wolf (Tracy) over it, suggests to me that his motives were not pure.

I told him not to put his head in my lap anymore, that if Tracy had trouble with just using each other’s shoulders as pillows then she’d really have a problem with that, and it’s a very questionable thing to do anyway.  (He only did it once.)  Though I really felt the “shoulder thing” was much ado about nothing.

Some part of me knew that he was only telling me part of the truth.  It was the best kind of lie: the one that is mostly true.  But I trusted him, became a good little acolyte, taking in my mentor’s instruction and making it my own belief.

It is indeed true that many people are far freer with flirting and nonsexual touch than the average American.  It is indeed true that these things can be completely platonic.  Everything he did could indeed be completely platonic, and some of my other friends do these things.

But there were the little things here and there, things he said or did, that tell me he didn’t mean them completely platonically at the time.  That he was going a little too far.  

He should’ve told me this honestly when I first confronted him with what he was doing, and I would’ve known what we needed to do: pull back, stop doing these things, not spend so much time together.  

But he didn’t, I trusted him to tell me the truth, I set aside the little suspicions, I trusted him that everything he did was platonic and innocent–and he let me take the fall for him.

While re-reading The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, a Gothic novel I first read many years ago while in college, I was also writing this account, and was struck by the similarities in one scene:

The black monk, Schedoni, is about to stab the heroine, Ellena, when he sees a miniature around her neck of himself as a young man.  She wakes up, and he soon tells her he is her father.

He doesn’t tell her why he was there, and after he leaves, she begins to wonder what he was doing in her room (where she was imprisoned) at midnight, anyway?

Then she finds the dagger lying on the floor.  The truth is right there staring her in the face, but she doesn’t want to believe that her own father would kill her, even though he didn’t know who she was at the time and was her captor.

Instead, she decides to believe that it was his henchman who tried to kill her, and that Schedoni rescued her.  She has no reason to believe this, but she wants to, and Schedoni lets her.  The mind can believe what it wants to even with much evidence to the contrary.

From his actions the day of the “incident,” from the things he said to Jeff, from the way he just threw me under the bus instead of explaining to Tracy what the e-mail was really all about, from the way that he justified her actions and words, it was as if he were now saying to me,

“You piece of f**king trash, how dare you remember the things I did to you, how dare you hold the memories close to your heart?  I wish I had never given you these hugs!  How dare you ever speak of these things I did as if I had ever actually done them?  I can do them, but you can’t speak of them!  I am a liar and will treat you like a liar and a manstealing whore for even bringing them up!”

…This despite the fact that we had discussed these hugs via online chat in the past, and back then he acted as if we had done nothing wrong, as if I had done nothing wrong by mentioning them, that he wanted to do the things again, that he was just avoiding them because of the way Tracy had been acting at the time, that in the future it would be okay with her.

And I had no reason to think that these hugs had ever been forbidden, but that he was just holding back for a while.

His actions the day of the “incident” proved him guilty, when if he had explained to Tracy the truth, he would have exonerated both himself and me….Unless, of course, what he told me was not the truth.

I gave him the opportunity to tell me the truth.  Why didn’t he tell me the truth?  Why didn’t he admit he’d gone too far and he shouldn’t have done those things and they needed to stop?

Why did he lead me to believe that they were perfectly normal things for close platonic friends to do, that they were done platonically, and didn’t need to stop?

Probably because he didn’t want to stop.  Probably because it fed his ego when he was at a very low point in his life.

I wish he would have been honest with me; it all would have stopped, I never would’ve brought it up again, and all this never would’ve happened.  My naïvete and gullibility stares me in the face and shames me.

I know enough about his past with women–a self-described “dog”–to think these things I write are probably true.  He says he respects women now, but I have plenty of reason to believe that the dog is still inside him, just taking a nap, waking up every now and then.

I wanted a friend who could be playful but without being dangerous.  He turned dangerous.  He became like Shawn from college, who lured and manipulated me into giving him what he wanted, then treated me like a cheap whore for it.

He became like Phil, my ex-fiance/husband, who wove a web of lies which I only believed because of NVLD, and wore me down until I did things with him that (in Christian morality) were wrong, but which he told me were perfectly fine and not wrong at all.

Because of the NVLD, I was far too trusting, thinking a pious Christian would never do such things.  I thought as a married woman I was beyond being so taken in.

But then another seemingly pious Christian man came along and started breaking down my reserves just as Shawn did, convincing me–just as Shawn did–that we were doing nothing wrong, then letting me drown in the fallout when (in Richard’s case) the wife found out.

Leaving me baffled as to what just happened because Richard had convinced me we were doing nothing adulterous or even out of the ordinary for close platonic friends.

I thought his days of going to Bible college while womanizing and being a violent “gumba” were over, that his days of faking piety and speaking in tongues for the congregation (as a Pentecostal preacher in his early 20s) were over, covered by the blood of Jesus.

When I asked how he was able to get over/forgive his ex–who was (from what I heard) a psychotic nympho who cheated on him all the time–he said he abused her too, as punishment; I thought this sort of behavior was all in his past.  Now I wonder if, when we watched Elmer Gantry together, it gave him ideas.

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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Describing Richard’s narcissism

They Believe What?–The NonVerbal Cues Argument: Alan Eisenberg started his own blog to share his stories of childhood bullying, but it grew into a crusade.

Here, he questions the argument that kids get picked on because they miss nonverbal cues.  While this may have some truth to it–I come across this all the time when researching NVLD–Eisenberg makes a very important observation: This does NOT excuse the bullying:

While there may be truth to the study, to say that the victim has brought on the bullying by their inability to read non-verbal cues is equal in my eyes in saying a woman who is raped should have been able to predict this based on the way they behaved with the rapist.

Part of Tracy’s bullying was–according to what she and Richard said–because I didn’t pick up on her cues to start conversations, and apparently other cues may have been missed as well.  Their response was to excuse her bullying and hound me to pick up on the cues.  Which doesn’t work if you’re missing the cues….

I don’t know how long the long-term effects will last for me.  But I do recognize these traits which have sprung up in me because of the Tracy situation:

lingering feelings of anger and bitterness,

difficulty trusting people (as much as I want to make healthy and lasting friendships),

avoidance of social situations to some extent,

drifting into being a loner again,

wondering if I’m somehow easy to victimize or overly sensitive,

thinking of myself as a worm or a tramp even though I know I’m neither.

It’s just stupid to give into such negative thoughts, especially since I know they’re not true.

I’d like to think that if she knew I felt this way, Tracy would repent, apologize and become a better person, a true friend to me.  But I fear the reverse is true, based on how she reacted when we broke off the friendship abruptly after she verbally abused me.

[Update 4/27/14: I was correct about this, as proven by the stalking and intimidation campaign she started when she found this blog two years ago, and which continues to this day!]

Even a month later, she still blamed the abuse on me and claimed that I should “grow up” and just accept it as a consequence of my own actions.

But I call BS.  If I told her how her bullying and abuse has affected me, she’d probably just sniff and think I was being stupid or childish, that she has nothing to apologize for or repent of.

[Update 4/27/14: Once again, I was correct.  See here.]

This is probably how she feels about her children crying when she abuses them, too.  And this is why she has been booted from my life, why she is blocked from my Facebook profile, no matter what she might think.

It doesn’t help that I have this aspie trait: “Perseveration and the Broken Record.”  For more information on how it applies to me, see here.  [This blog post by Aspie Teacher no longer exists, but I think it may have been moved here.]  Pertinent quote:

I especially have trouble derailing myself when I am having trouble processing something. This can cause me great stress. I can feel that I have gotten stuck in a feedback loop.

My husband has been known to get very irritated with me when this happens. This only makes it worse, because I end up feeling guilty, stupid, and helpless that I can’t do anything to break the feedback loop.

Since receiving my official diagnosis over a year ago, my husband has tried to think of better ways of helping my brain switch gears when it gets stuck. Usually I just need to talk and have him listen without him judging me or trying to solve any problems.

I have come to realize that verbalizing what in in my head helps me process it, but this is not always an easy thing for me. I can’t always find the words to convey what I need to say.

Writing has become my voice. It helps me process the chaos that can develop in my brain. I also have found that what I need is understanding and encouragement. These two actions can do so much for a person.

Another blog post by someone diagnosed with perseveration:

Sometimes it happens when I am trying to diagnose a problem and I keep barking up the same solution.  Other times, it happens  emotionally.

My brain can get stuck on something emotionally and I keep going over it again and again.  Ruminating over past incidents becomes a bit of a tape that gets played over and over again.  I find I can ruminate over unhappy or unfair things a bit excessively. —The Broken Record of Perseveration

The thing is, I don’t think I did anything all that terrible.  I just wanted to spend time with, have fun with, and confide in my BFF (“best friend forever”), just like everybody else does.  I just wanted my BFF to know I cared, same as everybody else does.

I didn’t violate my personal beliefs or principles.  I don’t believe I crossed any boundaries.  (For that matter, someone who abuses others verbally and physically, does not get to lecture me about boundaries.)

So I refuse to let her get the upper hand or cuss me out or make me feel like a whore just because she’s insecure.

Should I put up with her crap just so I can have an active social life?  Of course not!

She’s the kind of person who has, time and again, driven me into isolation from others so I don’t have to deal with them anymore.  It happened in elementary school, middle school, my first job out of college with all the drama llamas who kept taking everything personally and treating work like it was supposed to be social time–and here it is happening again, me feeling the pull back into isolation.

As Klank says, I don’t need no friends like that.

Jeff is so furious with both Richard and Tracy that he feels used and wishes he could get something–vengeance, a pound of flesh, money for damages (broken couch, broken futon) and other money we spent on them (food, utilities, something else later on).

(Though this memoir is not about vengeance.  It’s about expressing what I’ve been through, finding healing and release through my usual manner–words, and helping other abuse victims.)

Jeff hears about–

How Richard kept pushing the boundaries with me [with my NVLD gullibility], and then reassured me that everything was innocently meant and we didn’t have to stop doing it.

How I got treated like a slut for believing him, but then he seemed to conveniently “forget” that he’d been the instigator.

How the lines for what was “okay” for me to do were constantly shifting and I was somehow supposed to know where they were now.

How Richard used to be a dog with women (which neither of us knew about until Richard stayed with us and started telling me these things about himself).

How Richard and Tracy both would push the limits of flirting beyond what we were used to even in the SCA, online and off–then keep moving the lines for what was okay for me to say to Richard, making the lines far tighter for me than they were for Richard and Tracy….

And Jeff doesn’t believe that Richard was acting innocently with me.

Richard says that Tracy trusts him, but Jeff says that’s not true at all, as we saw, or she wouldn’t put those restrictions on him.  And that he himself would not have allowed Richard so much freedom with me if he knew that Richard used to be a dog with women.

I feel like such a fool.  Jeff and I don’t have a problem with friends being attracted to each other, since such things happen when you spend a lot of time with someone and get close to them.

Jeff and I don’t have a problem with the occasional light flirting, but there are certain lines you don’t cross–but Richard crossed them with me and used his persuasive powers to convince me they were perfectly fine.

The whole situation was a freaking mind game which both Richard and Tracy played on me.

Maybe he used that hypnotism he claimed to be able to use.  He never told me what he got me to say using it.  I don’t know if he used it to get me to do or believe anything.

I know that he formerly used it to get girls to dance with him, not just to get me to open up, and that this very same type of hypnotism is used to attract women.

Richard also convinced me that he was a pious man of God, a righteous man who had put his dog days and his violent days behind him–only to begin showing them again.

Saying you’re going to assault the woman who was just doing her job and probably had good reason to evict you, and that you’re going to make it look like you weren’t there…

excusing and defending abuse of your children

excusing and defending abuse of the person who has been your loyal and close friend for five years…

excusing and defending abuse of Todd, who was your loyal and close friend for six years…

then hacking into Todd’s beloved Forum, screwing it up, and letting Todd think that the resident troll did it….

That is no man of God.  That is a Pharisee.  A narcissist.  I never want him to darken my door again.

I also recall, a year or two before Richard moved here, watching online as he went to the forum of a female friend–where he was an administrator or moderator–and posted a message to the posters there.

Considering the nature of the forum, a place to delude yourself into thinking you’re descended from mystical beings who don’t even exist, most of it appeared to be deserved.

But there were also judgments of the characters of the posters which make me wonder how he could possibly know if they were true or not.

The friend was so offended that that friendship, too, ended–the post removed, Richard and Tracy booted from the forum.

She wrote on our Forum something to the effect of, he was the leader and we were the worshipful followers in lockstep doing whatever he wants.  (I don’t remember the exact wording, but that was the gist of it.)

It basically sounded like she was accusing him of being like a narcissistic cult leader.

Todd also complained that he didn’t get a fair hearing during his falling-out with Tracy, because everybody listened to Richard.

So you see history repeating itself with Richard, again and again–and more support for the idea of narcissism.  My husband, too, sees him as narcissistic, refusing to see other points of view, not just during our falling-out but in politics and other things.

This would frustrate me to no end whenever Richard told me what I should be doing–food, taste in movies, sexual preferences, religious ideas regarding pews and ecumenism and such, the troubles with Tracy–and I’d try to explain my point of view.

Or when he’d tell me I was wrong about NVLD without really listening to why I believe I have it.

Or when he’d tell me kids should be screamed at and I should “let” my husband get mad or cuss more.  But I feel kids should be nurtured not tortured, that my husband should treat me with kindness and respect, and by the way, Jeff would rather get mad and cuss less, not more!

Richard seemed to think I was keeping my husband from watching “The Passion of the Christ” because of my aversion to gore and violence, and that he had convinced Jeff that it was a good movie to watch.

When in reality, Jeff has no desire to see it, for the same reason I don’t want to see it, and it has nothing to do with me keeping him under my thumb.  (I bet Jeff did a lot of nodding and “uh-huh”‘ing during that conversation, but didn’t actually say he agreed.)

Richard seems to have lots of ideas about what other people are thinking and feeling, but that doesn’t make him right.

The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. —Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome

The above certainly applies to me, since I kept copying what Richard did as a guide to what was okay for me to do, but then got treated like some kind of slut for it.

The trouble with so many articles about abuse and personality disorders is that they focus on romance.  So if you’re dealing with another kind of relationship involving abuse–such as friendship, colleagues or family members–you have to ignore the parts about dating and sex, and adapt it in your head to your own kind of relationship.

But so much of this sounds familiar (adapting the parts about romance to platonic friendships), that I wonder if what I thought was a close, meaningful friendship, was really Richard’s means of seeking attention, narcissistic supply.

If what I thought was philia and emotional openness was actually manipulation and using:

Telling me things were okay that weren’t.

Trying to get me to open up to nonsexual touching I wasn’t used to.

Telling me it’s prudish to wear a robe over my nightgown when he’s around. 

Telling me that Jeff and I are prudish.

Telling me the horror stories behind the Democrats and Progressives and how they’ve ruined his home state.

Molding me, shall we even say grooming me through charm, testing boundaries, making me feel special, instructing me–until the drama at home became too much, and he began to devalue and discard me.

If he noted my trusting nature and lack of social intuition, and exploited it.  Nyssa is a sweet, innocent and nice person, and I’m slowly corrupting her. (He said that to somebody online.  What did that mean??)

I’ll remember his claims of hypnotizing me to get me to open up.  Of course, as usual, I don’t want to think these things about him, but keep getting this nagging feeling, given what I know about him, and things Jeff, also, has noted about him.

I’ll remember his bragging about past women, about how he used lies and deceit to get women, about his sexual prowess, about women chasing him even now.  I wasn’t sure if he was lamenting or bragging that his exes would sit around talking with each other about how evil he is.

I’ll read articles about abusers, narcissists and borderlines (such as Sam Vaknin’s extensive archive), thinking of Tracy when I start–then begin thinking, “Hey wait a minute, that sounds like Richard–and that–and that.”

Apparently, it’s common for narcissists to end up with borderlines.  One guy on the Forum, married to a borderline, was familiar with such a pairing from his research, and expressed compassion for Richard and Tracy’s children.

I’ll also hear people talk about Richard’s “heart” being so big–but remember that I, too, thought the same thing while he had me under his illusions.

There were many times when Richard could seem like a great person to talk to, but so many times when he seemed not to care about my needs or concerns, contrasted to what it’s like to deal with my other friends.

In the beginning Richard loved chatting with me, in person or on the phone or on the Net, but later on it would often be hard to tell if he wanted to talk to me or not.

You’ll have Richard getting short and suddenly disappearing from Facebook chat, for no reason you can think of–but then another friend (Mike) saying, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!” and chatting with you for an hour.

It makes you wonder if maybe the friends who live far away from you and you rarely see, are still far better friends than this one you see every couple of weeks.

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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E-mails proving my innocence, that Tracy lied in July/August 2010, that I respected boundaries, and that I asked for a “signal”

To provide some context for the following for latecomers:

(You can also read here.)

In my circles, ever since I left college, whether computer geeks or SCA or D&D or work or some of my college friends, it has always been considered perfectly normal and acceptable for even married people to flirt playfully and innocently, sometimes even shamelessly.  It’s okay with my husband, okay with me.

Richard, too, is a shameless flirt, saying naughty things not just to other women but to other men!  He also is a touchy-feely type who is free with his playful or affectionate gestures.

I have other friends, male and female, who are also free with their affectionate gestures to friends.  But always you know that it is only platonic affection, or playful flirting, and that it will never, ever cross over to infidelity.

I just wanted to join in on the fun my more extroverted friends have, who are so free with their shows of affection for friends.  Infidelity, on the other hand, I find disgusting.  The two are not at all the same.

Also, my flirtatious friends have tried to get me to open up with hugs and other gestures of affection and flirting, because of my Asperger-like reserve.

I see nothing wrong with what they do, and I don’t like being the odd one out, where it seems cold, lonely and boring.  So I have slowly learned to go along with them, and have been getting more open with them.

I have also described here how Richard also tried to get me to open up in this way, how he taught me that Americans are too uptight, and that it’s perfectly fine and appropriate for friends to do these things.

I basically followed his lead, but more awkwardly because people with social disorders like Asperger’s or NVLD can find it hard to naturally imitate what other people do:

The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. —Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome

Now, as my husband explained it, people see me as sweet and innocent.  It must be because I’m so quiet and religious.  The sweet image does not amaze me, but the “innocence” does, because I’m no virgin: I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years and have a wicked sense of humor.  People don’t realize that my quiet demeanor hides an active inner life.

Ever since college, I have occasionally shocked people with what I say.  Online and with people I feel comfortable with, I say such things more easily.  I used to have all sorts of wicked fun with my BBS friends in online chats, before BBS’s went the way of the dodo.

But it is just being playful, and the normal response is to laugh in amazement and appreciation that my sweet little head could come up with something like that.  Such as, one day on Facebook when a friend asked, referring to a song lyric, Why DO virgins taste better than those who are not?

(The song is about dragons and why do they always want virgins sacrificed to them.)  I wrote, “It’s the cherry flavor.”  I thought it was bleedingly obvious, but even my husband was shocked and amazed at that one.

Anyway, normally I could say or do something playful and Richard would laugh, but sometimes he’d act shocked, like I’d done something wrong.  Or sometime later, I would hear Tracy was upset.  Or I’d make some silly joke in a chat and couldn’t tell if Tracy was truly mad about it, or just playing around.  Or I couldn’t tell if I’d done something wrong or if he hadn’t even noticed.

Now that I’ve learned about narcissists, I believe he and Tracy were crazymaking me, because it is a common tactic of narcs and abusers to confuse you by being okay with something one day, even loving it, and another day treating it like a terrible offense, to keep you off-balance.

But it made me nervous and paranoid, especially since I never could tell if I was upsetting Tracy or if she was just joking, or, oftentimes, what she was upset about, or with whom.  This was also a small part of the discussions we had in June 2009.

Because of the NVLD, I couldn’t figure out subtle nonverbal communication, which is part of the reason why I needed verbal help where others can just know naturally what to do.  This was unfamiliar territory for an introverted NVLDer.

So I wrote the following, hoping to get Richard’s direct–kind, but direct–verbal communication if I crossed a line somewhere in my humor and trying to be playful like my extroverted friends.

The following e-mails prove that Tracy’s accusations of me on July 1, 2010 were all completely false, because I was her friend, I did respect boundaries, I was trying to please her and Richard, and all the playful gestures/going for coffee with Richard/etc. were okay with her. 

Part of the proof is that here I asked for a signal that she was okay with these things, and I later got the signal:

On July 31, 2009, I wrote to Richard on Facebook,

You don’t need to respond to this unless you want to. I just wanted to get out in the open how I’ve been feeling.

Tracy has responded favorably [to my request for a movie night], just needs some more recovery time [from childbirth]. I have high hopes that watching a movie or two will lead to conversation (probably about girl stuff and giggling over you husbands) and everything between us will be completely healed.

You probably have no idea how I’ve looked over old [forum] threads or remembered old conversations I had with her, or remembered the chocolate dainties and veggie stir fry she cooked for us all, and how I liked her, and cried inside my heart at how things ended up. You can tell her so if you like.

Now, if some gesture meant as sisterly (or cousinly) affection, or some light flirty thing, is taken badly or you don’t like it, please tell me directly!

I’ve just been so sick over the thought that things that meant so much to me, that I have often remembered fondly, have been the cause of so much trouble that I didn’t even know about. It makes me feel, well, squicky.

Jeff does know about them, BTW, and he seems okay with them.

I’m not going to be the one to ask her if sisterly gestures /going out for coffee/ and the other stuff–is okay, because it makes me really uncomfortable.

If/when Tracy’s okay with it, just ask me to go get some ice cream or something, and that will be the sign to me that everything is okay now.

Especially if you suddenly start responding favorably to my hugs on IRC [online chats] instead of screaming and dying (though I think I’d freak out if you started doing the kind of stuff you do to [female on IRC channel, whom he posted he was “sexing”] and the guys in [the IRC channel, whom he also flirted heavily with]; that’s a bit much for me).

I’ll stop feeling squicky over the past, and we won’t have to say one word more about a thing. And any paranoia I have displayed in the past will probably melt away as well.

In the meantime, if you really want to go out for coffee with somebody so badly, why not ask Jeff?  [He had told me, “I really want to go out for coffee!”]

Richard’s reply on 8/1/09:

I thought you were the one who wanted to go out sometime?

And my jokes about melting and dying were upsetting you? I am dense.

She knows about the hugs and whatnot. its all good. The asleep on the shoulder bothers her though. I respect that, as she sees that as a wife/husband thing and relative thing, not a friend thing. We are all wired our own way and I respect that.

But its all good.

My reply on 8/1:

1) Well, yes, I do want to, very much so, but you made it sound like you were dying to go out with somebody, *anybody*. So I suggested Jeff, your pookymunch.  😛 [inside joke]

2) Yes, I’ll hug you and such on IRC and you’ll just sit there or scream, when I was hoping for a bearhug back, etc. You know, signs that despite everything that’s gone on, our friendship is intact. It’s so hard for me to read people at times that words help a lot.

3) The “whatnots” are okay, too? Cool. (Especially since you know I won’t go too far with whatnots. 🙂 Just not that kinda girl….)

I just thought–From what you said, it sounded like she’d be okay with, say, [another friend] doing it [asleep on shoulder], and even join in a cuddle party.

I’ve read about people snuggling with their best buds while watching a movie, and it sounds like such a nice thing, especially since my relatives never did that sort of thing and I guess it left me far more reserved than is healthy.

My roommie Sharon tried to do that with my apartment-mate Tara whenever they were on the couch together, but Tara would cry out and move away, and Sharon would giggle.

Catherine is so free with stuff like that, that I envy her being able to flit around and do whatever she likes. One day she said that she’s been trying for years to get me to loosen up. LOL (She even kissed me on the cheek after we got back from a movie once, and called it our “date.”)

After you explained you do this with your family, I thought, oh, it’s all perfectly innocent and okay. So it makes me feel awful (and squicky) that it all blew up in our faces later. I feel just terrible that your wife keeps bringing it up.

It’s been dogging my thoughts for the past month or so, coming up when I am, say, just sitting around chatting with church members, and then I start feeling like a terrible person who has done terrible things and if these people only knew!–But I don’t want to keep feeling squicky about it. We stopped, after all, and won’t start again without her okay.

His reply 8/2:

No worries, Nyssa.

After these conversations in June 2009, I thought all our problems were over with, that it had all been resolved, that Tracy had calmed down and they had stopped judging me for being quiet and introverted.  I thought this was all part of the past, and worked to leave it there.

I had been sick of the subject for years; actually, it was Tracy who kept the issue alive, when I kept thinking it was resolved, but hopefully now it would be resolved for real.

Note that above, I asked him for a sign when Tracy was finally okay with me and all her restrictions on me were dropped and we could do everything he could do with his other friends (such as these sisterly gestures, going out for coffee/ice cream, etc. etc.).

Then one night, maybe December 2009, Richard and I were chatting online.  He said, hey, let’s go get sushi!  But it was about midnight and hardly the time for it.

This was the “signal” I asked for in the above e-mails!  Tracy was fine with me, considered me her friend, had dropped all the restrictions on me, now allowed me to do everything his other friends could do with him! 

I wrote that I couldn’t go out for sushi this time of night, but let me know when you want to go out for sushi.  He seemed to forget about it the next day, but I figured he was just on hard times again and couldn’t pay for it.  So I reminded him a few months later to let me know when.

Then I saw Tracy hit her youngest child in the head right in front of me, and began hearing her verbally abuse everyone again; I asked Jeff how much more of that I could take; troubles began stirring again.

As if these e-mails never existed, as if these conversations never happened, Tracy would once again claim, in July 2010, that she never “okayed” me as Richard’s friend or considered me her friend or allowed me to do everything Richard’s other friends could do with him. 

She accused me of not understanding boundaries. 

But these e-mails prove her the liar.  I have it all in writing that she “knows about the hugs and the whatnot” and “it’s all good.”

Neurotypicals (people who do not have Asperger’s, NVLD or anything else) are hard enough to figure out when they’re basically nice, pleasant people.

Throughout my life, at times I’ve wanted to scream at how confusing people can be, or how they don’t understand me, or how I don’t understand what I’m expected to do or not do when they do the very same things I’m trying to do, but they don’t get yelled at or get funny looks.

Many times in my childhood I preferred to lock myself away at home or in my room, where I didn’t have to deal with people.

But when they are narcissists/abusers, and are trying to make you think you’re crazy so you don’t realize they are abusers, it’s far worse.

And Tracy had reason to make me think I was crazy: because I witnessed her abuse of her husband and children.

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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