Their doublespeak and double standards

As for the things that so upset Tracy, as described in chapter 2, she wouldn’t let either of us forget for the next couple of years that I did these things or wanted to do these things and was such a slut to even think of them in the first place.

If these things wouldn’t be okay with her, why did he do them with me in the first place?  (In case you don’t know and don’t look at the link, these things were all innocent and platonic.  But I don’t want to use up space by describing them yet again.)

If Richard didn’t complain about something, and especially if he acted as if it were perfectly fine and dandy to do it, and especially if he himself kept doing the thing–

I had no way of knowing if Tracy had a problem with it until I did something in front of her (to show her my intentions were pure and I had nothing to hide), and she got short with me, or he’d tell me about the drama he was dealing with at home.

Or the rules about what exactly was and was not okay, were extremely hard to understand because his own behavior kept changing, or because nobody ever explained them to me.  And Tracy’s reactions to things seemed extremely overblown.

An example: We were always having long chats online and off, and I never heard the slightest hint from Richard that Tracy might have a problem with it.

Then one day–several years into our friendship, which was online for two years before becoming in-person, and in person for at least a year–Richard told me Tracy said to him one night, “Were you just chatting online for two hours with that woman?”

Keep in mind modern online geek, Gen-X and Millennial culture, how it’s been for probably 20 years now: It’s quite common to find people online at all hours of the night, especially with different time zones, ages and work schedules.

I have often chatted with male and female friends in the wee hours of the morning, whether on BBS’es, IRC or Facebook.  Keep in mind that Richard and I were both night owls, that he called me or guy friends in the middle of the night, that late-night online conversations are quite common in online geek culture.

My friends are often male because I’m part of the geek subculture, and it’s more common to find males than females who share such interests.

Meanwhile, Jeff’s friends are often female because he can talk with them on the sidelines at SCA events while most of the men fight with sticks.  He often went to events by himself because I got bored with the SCA a while back, and stopped going for a long time.

I’ve read many crazy things on the Internet–probably by much older people who have nothing to do with geek culture–describing “signs of cheating.”

Things which show no understanding of modern culture among Gen-Xers and Millennials, especially computer geeks.  Things such as late-night conversations must be cheating, going on the Internet late at night must be cheating, etc.

When actually, in our crowd, such things are considered perfectly normal and appropriate behavior.

So I certainly didn’t expect Tracy to be upset about any of it, especially when we’d been carrying on such chats for years.  So her comment baffled me.

I was sick of her making innocuous stuff “dirty.”  Especially when I had no reason to think she’d be upset about it–and especially when Richard kept carrying on with it (such as late-night chats) with no indication that we were doing anything wrong.

Then another time he’d tell me she had no problem with us talking on the phone or him visiting me with the kids along or whatever.  I didn’t know what was going on.

Then there were things that Richard did many times, but if I did it, it was somehow wrong.  Then later on, he did it himself again.  It was all very confusing.  

I doubt that having a normal brain, no NVLD, would have helped me much: Abusers do this “crazy-making” with normal people as well, keeping you on your toes, being fine with one thing one day and then screaming at you for it the next.

Then there was the time shortly after they moved out, when I told Richard I had another bag of his family’s stuff waiting to be picked up.  He said he’d come over, but didn’t, didn’t even call to cancel, so I just waited and waited.  I was upset at his rudeness and lack of consideration for my time.

I finally wrote an e-mail asking him to PLEASE let me know when he can’t come over, rather than leaving me hanging.

He responded that she actually fought him “tooth and nail” every time he needed to come over just for ten minutes to get a bag of their own stuff!  She’d say I hated her and was biased against her.

That’s the first time I heard of this!  What, did she want us to keep their hair fasteners and mail and books and other crap that I kept finding all over the place?

Then when he finally did come over soon after to pick up those bags, I talked with him some more about it.  He said no, she was just upset because he promised to do something with the family right after work.

Wait–What?  So which is it?  Does she hate me or is she just afraid you’re going back on your word?  I later asked him by e-mail and he said, “It’s both.”  So the doublespeak drove me mad, because he did this all the time.  Jeff also complained about it.

More doublespeak: One day I hear something’s okay with Tracy, then another day I hear it’s not okay with Tracy.

Also: He called it “flirting” when he put his head in my lap, when he put his head on my shoulder, when he began flirting so shamelessly with me that I began thinking it wasn’t just innocent flirting, so I fled to my room to get away from it.

Then the next day and night he goes about life like nothing has happened, talking about his wife and kids coming to town in a couple of days, etc.

Then the following night he does these things again, making me think, What the heck is going on here?  Then the next day he acts normally again.

So that night I confront him with the “cuddling and flirting,” to confront him about it, get the truth out of him of what the heck he’s up to.  But he denies there was any such thing: No, it wasn’t cuddling, cuddling is something else, my family/relatives put our heads on each other’s shoulders, I was sleepy, and the teasing wasn’t flirting, it was “playful banter.”

In online geek culture, everybody, no matter what their marital status, flirts with anybody and everybody, often shamelessly, often with the same sex.  Jokes get raunchy, humor gets bawdy, and some really crass groups on IRC will have one guy (such as “Maverick”) greeting another guy (“Saetan”) with “Maverick is raeping Saetan.”  This “raep” stuff is too crass for me.  But it’s all just pixels on a screen.

I have participated in such exchanges ever since the days of BBS’s in the 90s, so much so that my college roommate Sharon once called me a “cyber slut.”  My husband, too, occasionally does this.  It’s just what you do for fun in chats.  Bawdy humor and flirting is also the norm in SCA groups.

So while some people might consider this shameful or even “cheating,” our groups would consider them “prudes.”  Nobody is swinging or switching beds here: It’s all just talk.

The double standards: Richard flirts shamelessly with the ladies.  Tracy sometimes flirts with Jeff (footsie, or asking me if I wanna switch husbands).  Tracy flirts shamelessly on IRC.

Richard posts a picture online (for those overgrown frat boys in the IRC channel!) showing his wife’s breasts.  He often flirts with me.

But I use my verbal wit on Richard in IRC one day and Tracy appears to get all upset.  (I say “appears” because I was never sure if she was upset or just joking.)

(I’m pretty sure Tracy had a little thing for Jeff; I found it cute.  Jeff also used to have a thing for one of my friends; I found that cute, too.  I just don’t have time for jealousy.)

Or Tracy makes some comment in the IRC channel, and one of the guys types, “fap fap fap!”  Or Richard acts like a stick-in-the mud, some days flirty and some days acting shocked at something I said, even though it’s just a bit of harmless silliness, nothing like the kind of stuff he says to people all the time.

He can “sex” ladies in the IRC channel with Tracy watching.  He can post to ladies on the Forum that he “may be married but has lots of love to go around, so call me.”

He can make orgasmic sounds in the middle of his music webcast, knowing full well that I’m listening along with the guys in the IRC channel.  My mind starts going places where I don’t want it to go, but when I complain he treats me like a prude.

He can hit on Jeff all the time and tell me he’s going to steal him away from me, so–even though it’s supposed to be a joke–Jeff complains to me, “Talk about crossing boundaries!”

Richard tells Jeff (with Tracy right there) that he’s going to invite us to a Christmas party and smooch me under the mistletoe, so Jeff says he won’t bring me to his party, then.

But when I playfully tease Richard about it later, he acts like I’ve said a horribly shocking thing, and says like a party pooper, “I think of you as a cousin.” Jeff’s response: a very cynical, “Uh-huhhh.”  So….It’s perfectly fine for you to make this joke, but it’s disgraceful for me to tease you about it?

But somehow (according to Tracy in July/August 2010) I’m the one who “doesn’t understand boundaries” or social convention or “appropriate behavior.”  Even though anything I ever do is extremely tame compared to the stuff they do, with me, Jeff and others.

She tells me how Richard flirted via text with one of his female friends from the Forum, while proposing to Tracy.  And she laughs about it.  She jokes about how he finds “girlfriends” online.  We all laugh, understanding that he’s a faithful husband and it’s all just a big joke.  But then she gets mad when it involves me.  Or another time, doesn’t get mad.

Richard flirting with me, especially in front of Tracy, is an obvious sign that she must be okay with him doing that now, just as she is with him flirting with other women.  But then several months later I can’t even tell him I’ll miss him on his trip out of state.  Okay, Sybil, who am I talking to now?

The lines keep moving back and forth so much that I can’t pin them down, what’s okay and what’s not.  Her approval for something, like getting coffee with him, is given one day, then at some mysterious point, without a word, is taken away again.

He’d say, “She knows you’re not trying to get with me,” but she acted as if she thought I was.

Tracy can go to a rock concert with Jeff, but I can’t get coffee with Richard.  (Both are in public places!)

I don’t wear revealing clothes around Richard, while Tracy wears extremely low-cut blouses and low-waist pants around Jeff–yet I still get treated like a slut.

Richard and Tracy can be jerks to others, but God forbid anybody be jerks to them.

One day he tells me something would be fine once I fulfilled Tracy’s obligations, but the very next day he tells me it would never be okay.  This is obvious crazy-making.

I think that even a “normal” (neurotypical) person would have trouble dealing with this doublespeak and the double standards.  But NVLD made it even worse because–since I already knew that I was socially inept and had trouble doing “normal” social things–I looked to Richard as my guide for proper behavior.  If he did a certain behavior, then it must be okay for me to do it, too.

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

Note a double standard in what Richard was allowed to do with male and female friends, vs. what Tracy was allowed to do:

All Richard had to do was meet a guy once, and he’d even let the guy go to a conference overnight alone with her.  Then if he hit on her, Richard would know whom to beat up.

In red because it’s a HUGE red flag of abuse:

But according to a phone conversation Richard and I had in 2008 or 2009, and a forum post she wrote in 2008, she insisted on approving all his friends.  This included male and female.

She had to meet them, put them through her “test.”  Her approval could be made in minutes, or–with me–it became a long, drawn-out, exasperating process that infuriated my husband and me.

She felt she had the right to say she didn’t want him to keep a friend, and it was “respect” for him to follow her wishes.

But she freely did things with Jeff that if I tried them with Richard, she’d scream bloody murder.  Like, for example, going to a concert alone with Jeff, telling me she was playing footsie with Jeff under the table, and joking about wanting to switch husbands.

If I did these things with Richard she would scream because I “hadn’t befriended” her.  Yet she did them with Jeff after making very little effort to ever befriend me.

I thought this meant I finally had more freedom to do simple friend things–like going for coffee–with Richard, since turnabout is fair play, but no, I didn’t.  (Or maybe I did, but she pulled her approval at some unknown time without a word.)

He could go out for coffee with, flirt outrageously with, and show affection to his friends, male and female, but if it involved me–I was a whore.  (She didn’t use that word, but the things she said and did added up to that.)

More doublespeak: He told me I was very dear to him, reassured me that we were friends.  But he was cruel and deceptive to me, allowing his wife to go off on me for things he did and convinced me were fine, getting angry at Jeff for saying it was wrong of her.

Richard tells me for the longest time, “Oh, yeah, hugs are fine.  Hugs are okay.”  So we hug all the time, including in front of Tracy, and I’m led to believe it’s perfectly fine.

Then on the day of the Incident, he gives Jeff the impression that hugs are NOT okay and were never okay until certain conditions would be met.

I’m told it’s not okay to go out for coffee with Richard.  Then one day, maybe December 2009, Richard asks me to go get sushi, but it’s like midnight and hardly the time for it.

This was the “signal” I had asked for in an e-mail just a few months earlier, to tell me that Tracy is completely fine with me, that we can go out for coffee now, do everything he does with all his other “okayed” friends, since I didn’t want to keep asking him again and again if these things were okay.

So I e-mail him, saying, let me know when you want to go out for sushi.

Then on the day of the Incident Jeff hears how “Yes, it’s okay to go out for coffee/hug/etc., when certain conditions are met which have not been met.”

It drove me crazy.  I felt like Alice in the rabbit hole, trapped in a world I didn’t understand, bombarded by contradictions.  And Jeff, too, recognized the doublespeak and double standards.

As “Dategirl” Judy McGuire wrote in a column a few years ago,

Lest you think that could never happen to you, if you look at any study of domestic violence, you’ll see that jealousy is the No. 1 predictor of domestic abuse. Some other adjectives used to describe a typical abuser include controlling, overly critical, hypersensitive, and isolating.  Sound familiar?

Yes–In fact, these describe Tracy, not just to me but to her husband and children.

But unfortunately, she and Richard gaslit me, scapegoated me, tried to pin the blame for everything on me.

I resisted as much as I could (as I do whenever someone bullies or abuses me), knowing there was plenty of blame to go around, to them as well as to me.  But the gaslighting still affected me, making me doubt my own eyes and ears.

It seemed they wanted me to think I was crazy and they were normal, as if I had no right to my own opinions, as if everything I felt was wrong.

Tracy seemed to want me to grovel at her feet, and think I was some kind of worm who didn’t deserve their friendship unless I jumped and danced to her tune.

Her demands seemed to be deliberately placed so high that I could not reach them, especially with someone as mean to me as she was.

And of course, when she first discovered that I found her behavior to everyone to be abusive, that her behavior to me was ungrateful and wrong (after I had gone out of my way to give generously to her and her family), that being jealous and controlling are wrong–

–Instead of changing or proving me wrong, she did everything in her power to prove me correct–and try to make me seem like the “wrong” one.

2. The brainwasher controls the victim’s time and physical environment, and works to suppress much of the victim’s old behavior. The victim is slowly, or abruptly, isolated from all supportive persons except the brainwasher.

Your partner might have insisted that you stop certain social, hobby, or work activities. You might have gotten moved to a new location, farther away from your family and friends.

Or you may have been asked (or told) to reduce or stop contact with specific supportive people in your life. –Barbara, The Process of Brainwashing (Mind Control)

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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