I must be accepted as I am–introversion, NVLD and all–or you’re out

In order to be my friend, a person MUST accept me the way I am.  I just ask for acceptance of introversion and quietness, not bad behavior like angry outbursts and cussing at people.  I always try to cultivate kindness and gentleness; I’m not going around being mean to people.  Mostly I sit there quietly, laughing at jokes but that’s about it.

Most people seem to like me.  They consider me innocent, unoffensive.  They call me “Trouble” or tell me to “Behave” the same way that you call a big man “Shorty.”

About 20 years ago, I finally decided I had enough of people telling me that I had to be more outgoing or talk louder or smile more.  I decided that there was nothing wrong with being shy, quiet and soft-spoken.  I figured that if somebody doesn’t like it, that’s their problem, not mine.

And I won’t change myself in any way just for other people: I have to see a good reason for the change.  Since I was not being mean or unkind, I saw no reason to change my basic personality.

I certainly felt far too mousy to be a threat to anybody’s marriage, but rather just the kind of person who inspires confidence in wives.

But Tracy expected me not only to be her friend, but to change myself, who I was, the basic way I communicate with people–

–or else she wouldn’t consider me her friend–

–or let me have a normal friendship with Richard, with all the normal things friends do with each other (going out for coffee, or even having a private conversation standing on the grass outside the house).

I’m certainly not talking about going out to dinner or dancing, “date” things, but just talking with a friend!

As I wrote here, there were even times in early 2008 that she fought him “tooth and nail,” because he needed to come over–for ten minutes–to pick up some things they’d left at my house, or mail that arrived for them!

She acted like her reactions were somehow normal and accepted by society and my objections were wrong.  But if I acted to Jeff’s friends like she did to Richard’s, Jeff would have divorced me years ago, and vice versa.

Jeff had far more trust in me and allowed far more freedoms even when he had just met Richard: His basic sizing-up took a very short time.

Our trust in each other has meant very little drama with each other over friends, very little drama with friends, and must be a far happier life than assuming suspicion of every one of your SO’s friends until they have passed your “test.”

Even though Richard was in my exact same situation–

–the wife of his friend Chris hated Richard and Tracy, and “fought tooth and nail” to keep Chris from meeting with Richard–

–this inspired neither compassion nor understanding in Richard and Tracy toward me.

If you have some constructive criticism and couch it in gentle language, I can listen to you and appreciate your help.  Sometimes even if couched in annoyed language, if I know you have my best interests at heart, I’ll listen, see your point and change.

But to base the very friendship on how well I adopt your neurotypical or extroverted ways of doing things?  To call me unfriendly for not following your demands?

That’s no friendship: That’s a dictatorship.  Normally you hear that you should just be yourself; I was being myself, but ordered to be somebody else or I was a terrible person.

In this hostile environment, I could not relax or feel comfortable with Tracy, which made it impossible to become any more outgoing with her than I already was.  And Richard just enabled Tracy’s dictatorship, rather than getting her to lighten up and let me be me.

Over time I began to discover that he hid various things from me.  That he expected me to change my basic self which had so delighted him in the beginning.

Meanwhile, he complained that he had to change things when around me–which I never asked him to change: He just assumed I couldn’t handle these things in someone else, because I did not do them myself.

I had to change myself to satisfy Tracy, but now he told me if I didn’t like something he did, I had to just deal with it.  He spoke about making people “just deal with it” as if it were a virtue, but it’s a vice for me to tell them to just deal with my introversion?

This also demonstrates a problem my husband and I have noted in society of late: People have lost civility, have forgotten how to work with instead of against others. 

Instead of thinking about another person’s feelings, it’s become a virtue (seen on Facebook memes) to refuse to apologize for offending someone or hurting someone’s feelings.  It’s a very narcissistic view that breeds bad feeling and hate.

Richard gave me excuses for her bullying, her snarks at me: pregnancy hormones, various life stresses, jealousy, tactlessness, the way she was raised, or even that she was upset at something I had done.  I was cut no slack for never intending to upset or hurt her, while they expected me to cut her all sorts of slack for intentionally hurting me.

It reminds me of a friend I had in college, who was very socially inept, more so than I was.  She had some physical disabilities that apparently affected her social understanding, and there may have been one or two learning disabilities as well.  So because we were close, she upset or annoyed me at times.

But she was still my friend, she was a sweet person and meant well, and I’m friends with her to this day.  I’ve long since forgotten or pardoned the things that upset me, and felt bad about my own actions, for which I have apologized to her.

I can recognize the difference between intentional and unintentional hurts, and will cut people slack if I know them to be good-hearted.  I also know better than to assume someone hates me just because they don’t say much to me, because it’s far more likely that they’re just shy and/or quiet.

There is a huge difference between a socially inept but well-meaning person making gaffes and asking for understanding and acceptance, and an abuser with a bad temper ripping on you again and again and saying, “It’s just the way I am and you have to accept it.”

There’s also a huge difference between a normal person messing up once in a while in how they treat people, and a physical, sexual or emotional abuser doing things over and over again on purpose.

That’s why with most people we can accept their claim of a misunderstanding, while with an abuser it’s, “She’s trying to make me crazy and justify bad behavior.”

Everyone has faults and little ways of being selfish.  With most people it’s best to let it slide, but with some, it becomes a pattern of behavior manifesting itself in many different ways that shows this is indeed an abuser.

Everyone is rude at times, for whatever reason, but the abuser is deliberately rude and nasty again and again.  You don’t blame a kid for saying naughty words if he has Tourette’s, but you punish a child who beats up his sister.

There’s a difference between being clueless or obnoxious, and being a narcissist.  Otherwise, we would be cutting people out of our lives simply for having faults, and end up alone.  Richard had plenty of faults of his own that I chose to ignore for the sake of the friendship; I hoped he would do the same for me.

But there’s a huge difference between Asperger’s or introversion, and narcissism or abuse.  There’s a huge difference between a differently-wired brain, mental disorder or personality type, and a personality disorder based on behavior.

Extreme shyness and quietness has always been my way, ever since childhood, only diminishing if/when I feel comfortable enough to open up to somebody.

Some people really can stop their abusive behavior if put on the proper medication or treatment.  Some people have no medical problems to excuse what they’re doing.

Being afraid to talk to someone is not the same as screaming abuse at them or calling them names.

While we can excuse and put up with the occasional bad behavior from most people, we eventually discover we can’t do the same with an abuser.  The trouble is that the abuser treats a target like she’s the abuser, like she’s the one with the problem.

Not only did I feel that Tracy did nothing of the kind for me that I did for my old friend, even though I demonstrated kindness and generosity toward her in many different ways–

–but I recognized her as a bully.  I saw that she hurt me on purpose.

I knew this for certain because of things that Richard told me: For example, when I overheard her ripping on me on the phone to her mother, he later told me she knew I was in the next room–and did it on purpose!  She and he both found a way to justify her actions!

Or the time she yelled at me over the phone, Richard found out about it and made excuses for why she did it, but I never heard that she was sorry for it.  I thought there was no excuse for her to do that, when they were the ones being inconsiderate of me and my time.

Basically, there was always some justification for hurting me, and never an apology, so I knew she meant to hurt me.

I have always resisted the idea that shyness or quietness are somehow defects or personality flaws that must be changed.  No, they are personality differences.

We can’t all be the life of the party, or else everyone would talk and nobody would listen.  Shy and quiet people mean nothing at all harmful and will welcome attention from nice people.

But while Tracy was being deliberately hurtful by finding any reason to hate me or be upset with me, and then coming up with one way after another to punish me or hurt me, I was the only one expected to change my behavior or even so much as apologize?

I got sick of this, of apologizing to her and getting nothing back.  Or wanting to apologize and hearing I had no need to do so–but there was no evidence of Tracy pardoning me.  Of explaining to Richard that no harm was meant, and what I needed, but getting very little understanding from him, and no understanding at all from Tracy.

It’s one thing to say “I can’t help it” if your extreme shyness, introversion, selective mutism or Asperger’s/NVLD makes it hard for you to make small talk.

It’s quite another to say “I can’t help it” if you smack or yell at someone, or rip them to shreds verbally.

One means well; the other means harm.  Therein lies the difference.

For me to deal with social ineptness and extreme shyness that got far worse the more hurtful Tracy became…

For her to keep ripping on me in one way or another…

For her to treat me like I was the one being deliberately hurtful, while she was the nice, patient one being hurt again and again–

–It was gaslighting and projecting, plain and simple, common tactics for abusers.

But I never saw Tracy be rude or nasty to people she wanted to impress, to people she liked.  I never saw her make snarky comments on Facebook to anyone else but me.

Outside of her husband and children, I only saw her pull out the claws with her ex, school officials who annoyed her, people she disliked or saw as rivals, and Todd, the other family friend she chased away.

By the way, like me, (as she said) Todd also preferred to talk to Richard instead of her, because (as Richard said) Todd was wary of her, and (from what Todd said) saw many of the same things I did in her.

When they are with outsiders they are such a charming, friendly person. People tend to like them and admire them.

You are continually amazed at how rational they are with these people, how phony it is, and different it is from the person you know privately. In other words, they treat you differently than outsiders. –JoyfulAlive Woman, Behaviors and attitudes of the narcissist

How ludicrous that while Tracy got furious with me for telling my husband all the things she did to hurt me, her husband and children, for seeing her behavior as controlling and possessive…

…she could say all manner of things about me and do anything she liked to me–

–while I was supposed to just suck it up, take it, and be meek, mild and accepting toward her.

I spoke out against the evil being done to me and to people I loved!  But she got even worse when she discovered what I thought about what she did, and pinned the blame and bad behavior all on me!

I wonder where folks get the idea that Christians have to be meek and mild, silently enduring mistreatment, tolerating anything anybody else does, and timidly standing by while abusers trample all over them and other innocent victims. Since when is it a sin to speak out against evil?

This is what our abusers want us to believe, and they just love throwing it back in our faces anytime we protest their behavior. They provoke us to anger, they cause untold pain and suffering, and then when we finally speak up, they smugly inform us that we’re not acting like “good Christians”.

This is hogwash. Abusers would just love for us to back off and be quiet while they do anything they want and get away with murder.

Satan will always try to use our righteousness against us, to get us to question our faith, and to separate us from God. This is just another one of his tricks.

What kind of awesome, wonderful, All-Good God would our Father be if he actually wanted us to allow wickedness to operate unchecked in our families and our lives?

This concept is preposterous, and contradicts the perfect goodness of the Lord. Our God is All-Good, and the devil is all-bad. They are diametrically opposed for all eternity.

God instructs his saints to take a stand against evil and fight the good fight, not to keep silent and hide in the closet.  It is God’s plan that good will triumph over evil.

We are the Army of God.  We must put on the full armor of God and stand against Satan and his army.  That is our assignment, and our destiny as a child of God….

When dealing with Abusers, it is always best not to expect the appropriate reactions to rebuke that you would get from a normal person, such as apologies and improved behavior.  Be prepared! –Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc., Rebuking

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