How to Bully an Introvert–and Assets of NVLD

Over the years, I never knew what Tracy was thinking or when she would go off next to whomever around her was annoying her.  But somehow, she kept blaming me for all our problems.

And Richard kept refusing to listen when I tried to tell him (not direct quotes):

I’m not making excuses; I really am unable to change my quiet nature or recognize her attempts at conversation without some sort of verbal help.  So you both need to LIGHTEN UP and let me be ME.  You’re making it worse!  You’re pushing me further and further into my shell!  Let me be quiet when I feel like it, since I don’t speak when I have nothing to say, and if I have something to say, I’ll say it.

If I’m so capable of being socially “normal,” or outgoing and talkative like he is with everyone (rather than just with certain people)–Why did my aunt think I was molested, based on how I acted when I stayed at her house for a couple of weeks at age 10?  Why did everybody I knew growing up think I was weird, even if they liked me?

Instead of labeling me a “victim” or accusing me of making “excuses,” how about noting that I was clueless to whatever Tracy did (if anything–Jeff never noticed it, either) to befriend me.  So shouldn’t that tell you that I truly am socially clueless and not doing anything deliberately?  Shouldn’t that tell you I need your verbal help, rather than you just getting mad about every little thing, and not accepting me or telling me what was going on?  (not quotes, but what I felt like telling them)

I thought he knew me better than this.  Did he really think I would deliberately hurt Tracy or treat her like dirt? or that I would dislike her without cause?

I tried to tolerate and be nice to her, and did all sorts of things to be nice and/or help her out, such as

  • changing a poopy diaper unasked while she was in the shower
  • babysitting
  • telling her she looked gorgeous the other day
  • joking with her about husbands
  • giving her a flower or tomato from my garden
  • sending the baby to Richard instead of her for a diaper change
  • offering to watch movies together (which she never took me up on)
  • asking for recipes for that wonderful dish she makes
  • our two families doing all sorts of things together
  • giving them shelter when they needed it
  • giving generously when they needed our help
  • giving Christmas and birthday presents
  • and various other things which are too personal to post on the Net.

But apparently it just wasn’t enough for her.

Once, Richard claimed that Tracy tried to ping me on IRC but I never responded, that they both saw me ignoring her….Um, I racked my brain when he told me this, racked and racked and racked, but no such incident ever came to mind.  Even after my brain had years to ponder it on the backburner, no such incident ever came up.

So for all I know, it never actually happened, but was Richard gaslighting me again into thinking I was causing trouble and snubbing her, which I most certainly was not doing.

Or even if it did happen, I must have been doing something else at the time, not paying attention to IRC, or maybe I was in the middle of a conversation with Richard and did not see her pings.

But did she believe me?  Probably not, because that would threaten her image of me as a horrible person who hated her and must be pushed out of Richard’s life.

Just like the other time in February 2008 when he e-mailed me with all these things I supposedly did to snub her while she stayed at my house.  I read the list but could not remember any of it ever happening.

Or for the one or two things I could remember, it was because she had just done something nasty to somebody, so I was too angry to speak to her.  Or they were getting all mushy and PDAing on the couch, so I had to get up and leave.  (Maybe it’s the Asperger’s/NVLD, but I can’t stand people doing that next to me.)

It seemed like he just made up all this stuff I was supposedly doing, that I never actually did, to justify making me feel bad for something I did not even do.

So somehow it kept being my fault that Tracy kept treating me like crap and didn’t let me go to coffee with Richard, or any of the other stuff his other friends could do.  More of the psychopathic mindscrew.

Richard said they weren’t used to dealing with shy, quiet people in their circles; well, is that my fault somehow?  Learn now how to deal with shy, quiet people, and stop treating them like they must be loud, boisterous extroverts to be trustworthy with your husband–or worthy of your time!

You will discover that shy, quiet people can be great friends, if you let them relax and be themselves, rather than your idea of what they should be.  People with NVLD or Asperger’s can also be wonderful, loving, loyal, empathetic friends, if only given the chance.  I have been called “kind and caring” and “loyal” by many friends.

Many of us shy, quiet people think we’re fine just the way we are, and see no need to change just to please you.  In fact, we often think you chatty types can be too loud, too chatty, and that you often talk so much we can’t get a word in edgewise, or stop to think about what we want to say before you’re already on the next subject.

Scientific research shows that introverts actually have different thought processes than extroverts, that extroverts are great at small talk–can just blurt things out–while introverts need time to sit and think about what to say next.  It’s not just personality difference, but the way our brains work.

And honestly, I’d much rather make an occasional comment that means something, than blabber on and on about nothing just to fill the air.  And well, if I have to change my personality to be your friend, then you’re not worthy of being my friend.  This quote puts to words what I’ve always felt:

Either way, quiet people typically do not like to be the center of attention.

They also don’t like to be pitied….Don’t ever make a big deal out of me being quiet and/or shy. I F**KING HATE THAT. It’s embarrassing and makes me feel like a freak in a side show….

The preferred way to get to know me is to do something with me and let the conversation flow from that.

Like most introverts, I detest small talk. Not because I’m some super brilliant intellectual who looks down on people who enjoy it, but because frankly I find it to be mundane, forced, and awkward…

If you are dealing with an extremely shy type of quiet person, you may be better off just being polite and non-threatening.

That means NOT jumping all over that person with questions and chatter or being all weirded out because they can’t finish a conversation. They simply may not have the skills to interact in the way you want. Just let it be.

Just smile and say something like, I enjoyed talking with you. Do not be sarcastic. Be kind and sincere.

No pressure. Over time, when they see that you’re nice and not some pushy extrovert who is out to make them feel horrible about themselves, they may open up to you. The Shytrovert, How to talk to quiet people

But no, to Tracy it was a horrible insult, not to be forgiven, that I was naturally quiet and shy, a reason not to trust me around her husband.

And Richard kept pushing me in order to please her, making me feel like some mannerless freak just because I didn’t have a long, drawn-out small talk response to whatever remark she mythically would make to start a conversation with me.

I say “mythically” because I don’t recall any such thing ever occurring more than maybe once or twice.  Yet every year or so I heard that it was supposedly happening all the time and I was supposedly rebuffing/snubbing her all the time.  Hogwash!  All I remember is maybe some occasional little joke or comment (or snark), but no conversation starters.

I didn’t know about narcissists yet, since it was the late “naughts,” and information about them had not yet exploded all over the Net.

[Update 2/15/14: Nowadays, everywhere you go–forums, Facebook fan pages for Breaking Amish, TV, your Facebook news feed, The Colbert Report–somebody mentions “personality disorders,” narcissists, sociopathic smiles, and the like.  It seems like everybody has heard about these things now, even people who haven’t had reason to research abuse.]

But I did know about abusers and bullies, especially as I began to research abuse for my College Memoirs and the “Abuse” section of my Life pages.

(Not only did I start the Abuse page in 2008 to blow off steam from my own experiences with her and her behavior to Richard and the kids, but I’ve been abused by exes, not physically but in other ways.  The “Abuse” section was a way to deal with all of that by advising others, without directly mentioning her.  Those stories of exes are in my College Memoirs.)

From a Dictionary of Psychology article on selective mutism, which–though it speaks here about children–also notes that selective mutism does not necessarily improve with age:

Contrary to popular belief, people suffering from selective mutism do not necessarily improve with age, or just “grow out of it.”

Consequently, treatment at an early age is important. If not addressed, selective mutism tends to be self-reinforcing: those around such a person may eventually expect him or her not to speak.

They then stop attempting to initiate verbal contact with the sufferer, making the prospect of talking seem even more difficult. Sometimes in this situation, a change of environment (such as changing schools) may make a difference.

In some cases, with psychological help, the sufferer’s condition may improve. Treatment in teenage years may, though not necessarily, become more difficult because the sufferer has become accustomed to being mute.

Forceful attempts to make the child talk are not productive, usually resulting in higher anxiety levels, which reinforces the condition.

The behavior is often viewed externally as willful, or controlling, as the child usually shuts down all vocal communication and body language in such situations, which can often be wrongly perceived as rudeness.

[Update 2/15/2014: I deal with selective mutism here, pondering in a more recent blog post if my quiet nature is from mutism, NVLD, or introversion.  But whichever it is, it is my natural temperament, not “willful,” and cannot be forced into extroversion or being outgoing–especially through pressure and punishment.)

I see NVLD not only as a great relief–I’m not an idiot or a freak after all–but it also has given me many blessings, assets which I’d much rather focus on, than whether I’m outgoing enough for Tracy, or having to constantly explain my quirks to Richard.

I love having a great memory, catching details, typing fast, proofreading and spelling well, things like that. These things serve me well in clerical or writing-based tasks.

Though I do have trouble remembering details of books and articles I read, and tend to retain impressions instead.  (This goes along with the reading comprehension deficit, a trait of NVLD, which a college placement test confirmed in 1991.)

For Richard to tell me to stop believing it’s NVLD because he told me to stop, that would mean going back to the way it was before, wondering what’s wrong with me, why do I have trouble with these things other people do easily, why am I such a freak, why can’t I even use an automatic car wash?

But he actually told me in an e-mail near the end of June 2010 that he wanted to “strangle” me for continuing to believe that I wasn’t just eccentric, that it was NVLD!  (Yes, he even tried to tell me I was just “eccentric.”)

That sounded like a threat to me, like telling me what to think, yet when I confronted him about it, he denied it, told me not to talk to him again until I had sorted out my problem!

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