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The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Part One) or, “I blame you, J.K. Rowling.”

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Last year, I wrote a post about the worst writer person I ever met, a person who started writing M/M romance for the money while being unabashedly anti-gay in her personal life. I named names, and everyone freaked out because I might hurt her career. And I was like, “I’m going to be a better person and not do that again,” despite my belief that someone who hides behind a pseudonym to profit from fetishizing gay men while voting and advocating against them in real life doesn’t actually deserve to have a career doing that and maybe that’s a position that a queer person is allowed to take and has a right to call out but whatever let’s not rehash that.

I’m not going to name names in this series of posts, not because I’ve grown as a person or I’m suddenly nice to wretched people, but because I’m legitimately afraid that speaking the name of evil will summon it forth. She’s also not profiting from the misery she causes, so revealing her identity wouldn’t be merited. However, I have been itching for a long time to tell you this story, and I know there are more of you out there who will have had similar bad experiences with people whose toxic and destructive behavior pushes the boundaries of that which can be believed.

It is the story of the worst person I’ve ever met.

Some of it is funny, in a “can you believe the nerve of this woman?” way. Some of it is sad, in a “what happened to this person that she’s like this,” way, and a “how horrible that she maimed so many innocent bystanders with her shitty, shitty behavior” way. Some of it is heartwrenching to me, because of the severe emotional and spiritual damage my brief association with her was. I guarantee you will not believe some parts of the story, either because they are too bizarre, or because they deal with spirituality and not everyone is into that. But I’m still going to tell it. Because it’s a doozy.

In the fall of 2001, I enrolled in what was to be a short-lived attempt at earning a college degree. My mortuary science major required a surprising amount of art history classes. That’s where I met Cathy. I saw that she had a copy of Vanity Fair featuring a young, not-yet-famous Daniel Radcliffe on the cover promoting the upcoming movie adaptation of Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone. I eagerly engaged her in conversation, and we hit it off instantly.

Cathy was only a couple of years older than me, but she really seemed to have her life together. She was engaged to Dan, the father of her one-year-old son, Marvin, and she lived with them in their own apartment in a decent part of town. As someone who had just quit two jobs on a capricious whim and had to move in with her grandparents, I was in awe that anyone so close to my age could go to college, work, and raise a kid at the same time. She also prided herself on her street smarts; she’d been homeless before, couch surfing and struggling to make ends meet when her Marvin was first born. She would come to campus straight from her job at a local daycare and change from her polo shirt and khakis into a broomstick skirt, long sweater, and pentacle jewelry. She stashed her work clothes in the baby changing station, because “I’ve never seen anyone use it.” Artistic, witchy, and unapologetically Cathy, she seemed like someone I should aspire to be, not someone to avoid.

I’ve since learned that people like Cathy are good at hiding the worst parts of themselves so that they can draw you in.

My first indication that something might be slightly odd about Cathy was her tendency to say hurtful things, then follow them up with “just kidding!” Most of these comments were related to my weight; my 140lbs.on a 5’8″ frame struck her as grotesquely obese–just kidding! of course–and she had an almost pathological need to compare our bodies. Once, when we were getting ready for a night out, she emerged from her bathroom completely nude and said, “Look how thin I am! If someone looked at the two of us side-by-side, they would think you were the one who had a kid, not me.”

Before this incident, I had disclosed to her that I was insecure about my weight and had been going on starvation diets with restrictions of five hundred calories a day. She had responded that she, too, had been struggling with an eating disorder, restricting herself to two hundred calories a day. I thought she was commiserating; I realize now that she was competing.

Cathy and I shared a love of community theater. She could rattle off an impressive list of starring credits racked up in her hometown: Sophie Scholl in The White Rose. Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ, Superstar. The Narrator in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (which I had once told her was a dream role of mine). When I mentioned I would be auditioning for a play at a small experimental theater, she asked if I would be too intimidated if she auditioned, too. I bristled at that question, but I’d learned at this point that Cathy wasn’t always good at being tactful. I didn’t think her question was mean-spirited.

At the audition, I realized that either Cathy had greatly exaggerated her theater resume or the theater scene in her hometown was very small. Maybe she was just having an off night. Either way, only seven people tried out for the six available roles, and Cathy got a part.

Also in the production was a longtime friend of mine, Sam. He was one of those guys who made it clear he wanted to date you, even after you made it clear you weren’t interested. I was naive enough at that point to think guys like that could still be good friends, and since he was supportive and fun to be around otherwise, I just brushed off any sexual comments he made. Sam and Cathy met at auditions; by the second week of rehearsals, Cathy called off her engagement to her Dan and abandoned Marvin.

In a matter of two weeks, Cathy went from being a working mom with an infant at home and a college degree on the horizon to a woman who only went home for a few hours once every three days. She believed doing so fulfilled a technicality that would prevent Dan from getting sole custody in family court. The child she credited with “saving my life,” and who was, “my whole world,” suddenly became a hassle and a pawn to punish her ex, who had gone from the perfect romantic partner and devoted father she bragged about to a selfish, abusive demon Cathy desperately needed to escape. The nights she spent on couches at friends’ homes–Sam lived with his parents, who wisely shut down the idea of her moving in with them–exhausted her; she lost her job at the daycare when she fell into a sound sleep in a room full of toddlers she was supposed to be supervising.

Cathy’s fall elicited nothing but sympathy from me. After all, she was fleeing an abusive relationship. When people pointed out that she had fled without her Marvin, I argued that women and children are most at risk of being killed when they try to leave the situation. When they countered that she had no problem returning to her alleged abuser’s apartment every third night–sometimes, with Sam in tow–I would insist that we might not know all the facts. And to this day, I don’t see this as an unreasonable position to take. I believe people when they say they’re being abused or are in a bad situation. Sam did, too, so I assumed he accompanied her to Dan’s house to protect both her and Marvin.

Later, I learned it was so they would have a place to have sex. On the couch, in the apartment Cathy had shared with Dan, while Dan and Marvin slept in the other room.

Cathy’s toxicity consumed not just herself, but the people around her. She got a job at the store where Sam worked when he personally vouched for her, but she called off on the first day, resulting in her termination. At a New Year’s Eve party, she had sex with a stranger in the bathroom of our castmate’s house while Sam slept only a few feet away. They had an “open relationship” that consisted mostly of Cathy seeking out anyone I’d ever dated in an attempt to have sex with them. “I would never betray a friend like that,” she’d sworn when her Dan started a relationship with a woman Cathy had considered a close friend. Yet, within months of knowing her, Cathy had coincidentally met and fucked four men I’d previously dated and whose existence she’d learned of through private conversations with me. She bragged about having sex with two married men, not out of attraction to them but as a victory over their wives, who’d committed the cardinal sin of not liking her.

While I wanted to be a good, supportive friend to someone going through a rough time, Cathy’s behavior was becoming difficult to rationalize or sympathize with. At a dinner with an acquaintance and one of his good friends, Cathy mocked the woman for being overweight, to the point of making pig noises at her–followed, of course, by “Just kidding!”

“Just kidding!” was always delivered in the same tone and rhythm, an obnoxious sing-song with an emphasis on the shrill, high-pitched “JUST” and a nasal, drawn-out “kid-DING”.

She constantly asked me for money, needing cigarettes, bus fare, coffee at the local, trendy coffee shop where she liked to sit and be seen reading important literature. She couldn’t apply for government assistance, citing her lack of a driver’s license and debilitating arthritis in her knees as the reason she couldn’t look for a job as the program required. Sam, however, scraped together enough money to put down a first month’s rent and security deposit so they could have somewhere to live together. While I was hospitalized with sepsis caused by a severe kidney infection, Cathy called my grandparents and asked if they could co-sign on the apartment she and Sam had found. That was the last straw. I made excuses to cancel our once weekly karaoke nights–I had been paying for their drinks more often than not, anyway–and stopped returning her calls. She told all of our mutual friends that I’d cut off our friendship because I was Pro-Life (which was true at the time) and she’d had an abortion (which I didn’t know about, but would have supported).

I moved to another city with Mr. Jen and wrote her off as a learning experience. But I didn’t learn anything because two years later, I allowed her into my life again.

Stay tuned for Part 2, or “No, it’s my wedding day.”

 

43 Comments

  1. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
    Had a “friend” like that when I was a teenager. I wondered why she bothered with someone a year younger and considerably less KEWL, but that was my sole purpose.
    She kept me around so someone could admire and envy her. I felt guilty for envying her, but of course, that’s what she wanted.
    See “It Felt Like Love”: she was my Chiara, and I was her Lila. We drifted apart, but years later, when I was in college, she called me, and during the conversation, she told an out-and-out lie–nothing important, just something she claimed to have done when she clearly knew nothing about it. It made me wonder how many other things she’d lied about over the years.

    November 14, 2017
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  2. “despite my belief that someone who hides behind a pseudonym to profit from fetishizing gay men while voting and advocating against them in real life doesn’t actually deserve to have a career doing that and maybe that’s a position that a queer person is allowed to take and has a right to call out but whatever let’s not rehash that.”

    AMEN

    “because I’m legitimately afraid that speaking the name of evil will summon it forth”

    I’ve got rock salt, the symbols of 84 religions (at least 8 of which I may have made up), and an entire herb rack. I got your back. just don’t say their name three times in front of a mirror

    “just kidding! ”

    That’s up there with “I’m not a racist, but…”

    “I don’t see this as an unreasonable position to take”

    Ultimately, the damage caused by persistent non-belief to abused people is such that I agree it’s less harmful to extend a huge benefit of the doubt even when we wouldn’t necessarily in other cases. There’s so much societal pressure to disbelieve that swinging the other way is the safer option

    “She bragged about having sex with two married men, not out of attraction to them but as a victory over their wives, who’d committed the cardinal sin of not liking her.”

    She’s… a YA villain. this woman is the inspiration for all those terrible mean girl tropes we see over and over again! She’s the Mary Sue in her own story!

    November 14, 2017
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  3. Amanda
    Amanda

    Hoo boy I think she moved cross country and had a kid with my brother. My niece’s mom has been coming and going since their daughter was born (now 11 and increasingly stressed about why mom vanishes for months at a time). She’s gone through every identity phase you can think of (I’m gonna join the military! No, that sucks, now I’m Born Again and way better than you! No, they suck, now I’m a poly pagan and way enlightened and better than you!). Of course it falls apart because everyone’s out to get her.

    The only consistency: she’ll sleep with anyone to get free rent, lie about her experience to get jobs and then quit 2 months later, weasel tuition money out of some new sap to go back to school and get her act together (then of course drop out), uh what else? Been engaged like 4 times but it falls apart cuz of cheating. Anyway, her long absences are such a relief, thank goodness she rarely takes advantage of the weekend custody she’s suppose to get, cuz the “life advice” she gives her kid is usually how to get people to do stuff for you. :/

    November 14, 2017
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  4. Maya B.
    Maya B.

    Ugh, I hate people who say hurtful things and hide behind “Just kidding!”. I had a classmate who did this. Every freaking time she said something hurtful to which I would respond accordingly, she was saying, “Maya relax, don’t you see, I’m just kidding!”. Even though we were in the same class for 5 years I tried to have as limited contacts with her as possible. And I definitely don’t regret it.

    November 14, 2017
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  5. People who say “just kidding!” are up there with people who say “I just have to say what I think” as the ones I run very hard from in the other direction.

    November 14, 2017
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    • Helen
      Helen

      Ugh. A colleague of mine constantly makes really rude tactless comments and defends herself with “I have to speak my mind” and “I tell the truth, that’s the kind of person I am”. This ranges from comments on whether people are following the (very conservative) dress code to their relationships and living arrangements. I finally snapped and had it out with her when she told someone they shouldn’t be planning a family because of their financial situation. Now we don’t talk.

      November 15, 2017
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  6. Anon
    Anon

    I don’t really see a problem naming names and ruining careers that probably deserve ruining, but I’d be concerned about being sued for libel — even if the person doesn’t have a chance of winning. Just a hassle not worth having.

    November 14, 2017
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  7. Toxic insecurity. It’s astounding how much pain these people can cause others because of it.

    November 14, 2017
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  8. Siobhan
    Siobhan

    People think sociopathy = axe killers, but I swear the most toxic people in my life have been sociopaths (narcissism being one flavor). I’m sorry.

    November 14, 2017
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  9. There are two friends that I’ve had over the years who were almost exactly like Cathy. One of whom got involved in the blog that I contribute to, and all of her posts became suspiciously similar to mine. I called this out because after years of letting shitty behavior go, I’d finally achieved a backbone. Then she suddenly got some “better” writing gig on a site that didn’t appear to be any great shakes. She demanded that my friend remove all of her posts on the blog. That was pretty much the last we heard of her, thankfully.

    A year or so after that, I came across an article about a woman who made a friend online via some breast cancer support group and how it turned out to be a bunch of lies. All of the stuff this “friend” of mine had told me about her very serious and near-constant medical problems came back. She would bounce between being life-threateningly ill but then be able to go to concerts out of state (we met through a music LiveJournal group). Just a lot of stuff that never quite added up, but I hadn’t heard of Munchausen’s at the time or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (that’s more the other former friend).

    November 14, 2017
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  10. mydogspa
    mydogspa

    Wow. I’ve been fortunate and never interacted with anyone like this. How does one 1) recognize this is happening as early as possible and then 2) extricate themselves from it as soon as possible with minimal damage to one’s self? (No, this is not a sarcastic question, I”m serious, just in case I ever get into the same situation later in my life.)

    November 14, 2017
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    • JoanOfBark
      JoanOfBark

      I think your best bet is to become familiar with the signs of narcissistic personality disorder, which it sounds like this person probably has. Once you know what that looks like, it’s easier to sense when something’s off about a new acquaintance. This list is pretty good: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/14/signs-of-narcissism_n_4696772.html

      You should also read a book called The Narcissist You Know, if you’d like more details.

      If you find yourself in a relationship with someone like this, you should use something I’ve read about called the “gray rock” method. Basically, you make yourself so boring to the person that they give up on you. There’s lots of info about this floating around online.

      November 14, 2017
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      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        Caveat: if they know you well enough, even becoming boring won’t work. I finally got rid of my clingy, stalky narcissist by blocking him on every conceivable platform and moving out of state.

        November 15, 2017
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  11. Vix
    Vix

    Jenny, I love your writing so much – I can’t imagine how shitty it must have been to live through this, but I’m sitting on the edge of my seat asking “what happened next?!?”

    Maybe because I’m lucky enough that, while I’ve known and befriended people who I’ve been better off without, they’ve been amateurs compared to Cathy. Kudos on escaping, and looking forward to the next installment.

    November 14, 2017
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  12. Errapel
    Errapel

    Gods, I’ve met her. Well, I’ve met women with the same MO as her. (I imagine guys do this shit too, but I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t met any yet). Both fabricated abuse stories (usually quite outlandish), both had to ‘one-up’ everyone. One liked to imply she was a forensic anthropologist, until she was a doctor, until she was researching cancer… etc… They’ll lie to get what they want, and when you cut them off, they can get really nasty.

    November 14, 2017
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  13. fluffy
    fluffy

    I’m sorry, that sounds awful!

    November 14, 2017
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  14. Xebi
    Xebi

    My mother is a covert narcissist and one of her favourite things is to taunt and bully me exactly as Cathy did and then follow it with, “Why can’t you take a joke, what’s wrong with you? You take everything so seriously, it’s BORING. God I can’t say anything around you, you’re so oversensitive” and so on. To put this into perspective, one of the things she mocked me about was that I had attempted suicide a few months previously.

    November 15, 2017
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    • Chris
      Chris

      Holy fuck, that’s awful. I’m so sorry your mother is like that.

      November 16, 2017
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  15. Mike
    Mike

    As someone with a low level autism spectrum disorder, I can’t *stand* the whole ‘just kidding!’ phrase. Even when it’s not thinly veiling vicious intentions. I seriously struggle to pick up normal social cues so a lot of jokes go right over my head and if someone says something that comes off as mean that’s how I take it, and saying ‘just kidding’, even if you legitimately didn’t mean it, doesn’t erase that because my hackles are already up. In fact it tends to result in me just getting more frustrated because then I can’t tell if you’re just covering up your genuinely mean intentions or if you just have a cruel sense of humour. But then people get upset with me for not being able to take a joke, and it just becomes a mess. This is why I hate social interactions. If people would just say what they mean then they wouldn’t be so damn complicated and I could exist in society without feeling like everyone is speaking a language that I can’t seem to learn no matter how much I try!

    Sorry, just had to get that out there…

    I do actually know someone distressingly like this. If you weren’t for time and location discrepancies, and her definitely having never worked taking care of toddlers (thankfully) I would wonder if maybe you’d somehow met the same woman. I very much pity you for having had to interact with someone so terrible. People like that are soul sucking monsters who do nothing but hurt the people around them. They’re also a danger to themselves and others, as they will consistently fuck up their own security and the financial security of others, but it’s also not terribly uncommon for people that delusional to get physically violent when things are going especially wrong. I really hope that by the end of your story her ex got the kid away from her…

    November 15, 2017
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  16. Lovell
    Lovell

    Oh man. I had a Cathy. Not a Cathy with a kid (at the time I knew her) but… woah does your story bring back memories. Including the dating/ sleeping with anyone you liked/knew as some sort of twisted one-up-manship. She also, two years later, tried to come back into my life but fortunately for me, I was halfway around the world by then. She was a learning experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I’m sorry you went through your own Cathy!

    November 15, 2017
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  17. HeidiAphrodite
    HeidiAphrodite

    Holy crap. This hit home on a lot of levels. I totally cut someone like this out of my life almost 12 years ago and I’ve never regretted it. One of our mutual friends asked how I could do something so drastic and “cruel,” and all I could say was, “that’s the only way she’ll leave me alone. It’s the only thing she’ll pay attention to.” That mutual friend is still friends with her, and I’m pretty sure she still thinks she’s going to convince him to marry her…ugh. I kind of want to throw up remembering all of that. I’ll never forget the last conversation we had. She criticized something I was wearing, so I said, “well, if it bothers you that much, fix it.” She laughed and said no, and I looked her dead in the eyes and said, “then leave me alone,” and walked away.

    Barf barf barf. I’m so glad I did that. It took a lot of courage, but I’m so glad I cut her out of my life.

    November 15, 2017
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    • HeidiAphrodite
      HeidiAphrodite

      One story that always comes to mind: She made a big deal out of throwing me a birthday party and playing hostess to our friends. BIG deal. Then, halfway through, she faked a migraine and sent everyone home…because she was mad at me for spending time with the mutual friend in my comment above. She FAKED a MIGRAINE and sent people home from the PARTY SHE PLANNED for ME. Because she was MAD AT ME. Ew. I feel like setting something on fire now.

      I was engaged to an emotionally abusive, manipulative, mean, jealous, closeted bastard who probably lied to me from the beginning. My neighbor’s narcissistic ex-husband tried to drag my family into their nightmare of a divorce by accusing us of terrible things after my brother called the cops on him for stealing my neighbor’s lawnmower. I’m so so so sorry anyone has to deal with people like this. So sorry.

      November 15, 2017
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  18. I had someone like Cathy in my life but it was my sister. She is a compulsive liar beyond anything most people can understand. She’d constantly rip into me over any stupid little thing, insisting she was better. I was the scholar in the family, she skated by on C’s and D’s, yet in her mind she was the brilliant “street smart” one.

    It’s a weird form of both abuse and gas lighting you’re saddled with for years. I got out by never seeing her. I don’t talk to her, or her kids. She loved getting knocked up for the attention a new baby gives, then turning around and claiming she had cancer, had her uterus removed, then boom pregnant again.

    There were so many cancer claims it’d make the boy who cried wolf tell her to tone it down.

    The hardest part of late is I grew up around that shit, so seeing Trump bamboozle so many grown adults really pisses me off. I can’t understand how they don’t all see the same lying, gas lighting, rewriting history that my sister did. That all compulsive liars do because they feed off attention and don’t care a whit if that attention is born from misery.

    Oh and my parents are always supporting her, insisting she’s a good person, she’s getting better. There’s a reason I stay home for the holidays.

    November 15, 2017
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  19. Saint_Sithney
    Saint_Sithney

    She has a few traits in common with my sister. Though my sister doesn’t usually fabricate abuse stories, she makes everything so that she is the victim of an unfair system and bad people who hate her for no reason.

    Also, instead of “just kidding”, she’d punch me if I didn’t laugh. She wanted a worshipful slave, not a family, and that’s how it’s remained to this day. I don’t usually mind people self-diagnosing as autistic, but I feel nothing but fury when my sister claims to be. In large part because to her “autism” seems to mean “my behavior is the fault of allistic society not being able to understand my methods of communication”, completely missing “it is shitty and abusive to hit people, call out their deepest fears and insecurities, threaten suicide whenever anyone calls out a bad behavior, and get angry when people don’t follow my orders or read my mind to see what orders I wanted to give them”. Autistic people can be abusive, but she believes claiming the diagnosis (which she has never gotten – so she fires her therapists as soon as they give her another diagnosis) gives her a free pass.

    See… she never would have beaten the dent into my skull if I could just communicate with her on a level she could process. It’s my fault, really, for being allistic.

    November 15, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “call out their deepest fears and insecurities, threaten suicide whenever anyone calls out a bad behavior, and get angry when people don’t follow my orders or read my mind to see what orders I wanted to give them” doesn’t sound like Spectrum behavior. People on the Spectrum may lash out in frustration when they can’t read others’ emotions or communicate their own, but she sound only too skilled at figuring out exactly how to inflict the most emotional damage.

      I’m going to guess Borderline Personality, because reeling people in with one crisis after another seems to be their specialty, but maybe it’s NPD, Whatever it is, I doubt it’s ASD. She can read people jiiiiist fine.

      November 15, 2017
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      • Mike
        Mike

        “People on the Spectrum may lash out in frustration when they can’t read others’ emotions or communicate their own, but she sound only too skilled at figuring out exactly how to inflict the most emotional damage.”

        THIS.

        It is incredibly frustrating to constantly not understand the people around you and have them not understand you either. And that frustration has caused me to get snappy at people. But it is in no way shape or form an excuse for abuse. My own snappy outbursts were always inappropriate and I have always made a point to apologize because just because I think differently than everyone else does not mean they deserve to be shouted at, and I’m a goddamn adult who is capable of knowing the difference between right and goddamn wrong. Using it as an excuse to hurt people is victim blaming bullshit, and she knows exactly what she’s doing. If she’s aware enough to make the argument that society is at fault for her behaviour then she’s aware enough to take responsibility for her own actions. And clearly she doesn’t think so drastically differently that she can’t understand that hitting people is unacceptable.

        I *do* mind people going around self-diagnosing when they’re using it as an excuse to get away with bad behaviour. They’re giving actually autistic people a bad name. This disorder isn’t some ‘get out of jail free’ card. It fucking sucks. It makes any kind of relationship difficult, it makes basic human interactions significantly harder, and it makes you feel painfully alone. Not to mention that touching something with the wrong texture can really just fuck up your entire day :p Taffeta is just offensive to me on a deeply personal level.

        November 15, 2017
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        • Tez Miller
          Tez Miller

          I *do* mind people going around self-diagnosing when they’re using it as an excuse to get away with bad behaviour.

          I see a lot of this when reporting-and-blocking on Twitter. I’d advise actually autistic people to be wary of the gaming, streaming, and right-wing politics communities. If anyone needs my BlockTogether list, let me know.

          November 16, 2017
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          • Mike
            Mike

            …Gaming and streaming I get. I’ve worked in the gaming industry. I know that community is toxic. But, right-wing politics? That one genuinely surprises me. Not that they’d be terrible people, but that they’d claim to be autistic. Aren’t they the ones who think liberals getting all these labels are whiny cry-babies who just want to be special snowflakes?

            November 16, 2017
          • Tez Miller
            Tez Miller

            Generally comes from the crossovers of gamers and streamers who support Trump.

            November 16, 2017
    • Anha
      Anha

      Person with autism here.

      From what you’ve said, and co-signing with Mike, your sister certainly doesn’t sound autistic to me. Not that I have any real authority on the subject, but It wouldn’t surprise me if a significant number of those with cluster B PDs adopt the autism label, not because they believe they have it, but for purely manipulative purposes. That’s what these types live for: manipulating their way through life and trying to destroy anyone who they see impeding them. In fact, I had my own NPD (probably of the ‘malignant’ strain) who sounds virtually identical to your sister (and to ‘Cathy’), who also claimed to have Asperger’s, and I was too naive and also desperate for friendship to cut her out of my life before she did her damndest to ruin it. Strangely, I only came to learn about NPD and cluster B PDs via the fallout from her. Since then, I’ve met someone else who’s experienced the [NPD posing as ‘Aspie’ con] thing with his ex-wife.

      To reitterate what you and Mike have so eloquently said (thus possibly not telling you anything you don’t already know), people with higher fucntioning forms of autism can be abusive, but it comes from an entirely different place than that of an NPD. With autism, mostly everything is reactionary. It’s largely hitting out (physically or psychologically) due to frustration of being unable to communicate and to be understood. That I’m aware, many or most people with autism lack the innate social understanding to properly comprehend what constitutes abusive behavior; they literally know not what they do. What is more, few are genuinely spiteful; they don’t go out of their way to make other people upset, even if they show zero remorse for it. It’s more that they are unable to link their actions to someone’s unhappiness, so they don’t understand why any remorse is called for on their part. NPD’s are the polar opposite.

      I hope someday you are somehow able to remove your sister from your life, however difficult that may seem. NPD’s (well, all cluster B’s) are absolute nightmares, and I feel for you having to endure her.

      November 16, 2017
      |Reply
      • Artemis
        Artemis

        Hi friends! As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder who’s a request reader of this blog, I’d really love it if we could maybe not make huge, sweeping generalizations about every single person who has a particular diagnosis. BPD is NO FUN AT ALL, and a lot of folks with the diagnosis can have a really difficult time with relationships and reigning in our emotions. I myself can be a deeply shitty human being when I’m not doing well. However, LOTS of people with BPD work really hard to get better and it’d be awesome if maybe people didn’t say things like “…all cluster Bs are absolute nightmares.”

        xoxo Thanks!

        November 16, 2017
        |Reply
        • Artemis
          Artemis

          Goddamn it, that should say “frequent” not “request.” Sorry.

          November 16, 2017
          |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          Thanks. If I wasn’t in the middle of a mental health crisis at the moment, I would have stepped in to say the same thing. You made better words.

          November 16, 2017
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          • Artemis
            Artemis

            Jenny, I’m so sorry you’re in crisis right now and I hope you feel better soon.

            November 16, 2017
        • Heatherbell
          Heatherbell

          Thank you for saying this and I hope you are in a good place right now with your BPD. I’m speaking as a non-sufferer so apologies and please educate me if I’m speaking out of turn. My flatmate is in her 30s and has BPD. As much as her condition has disrupted my life in the past and as much as I’ve had to train myself to not give into her manipulation, it’s obvious that her actions are a result of mental illness and extreme emotion. Just because her condition affects me does not mean that she is evil or that I don’t care about her despite how she makes me feel sometimes. Suicide is a huge concern for BPD sufferers so I guess what I’m asking is if we could avoid labelling people with BPD as ‘toxic’ or whatever because reading something like that could trigger an emotional crisis. Again, apologies if I’m speaking out of turn or sound like I’m preaching, that wasn’t my intention.

          November 16, 2017
          |Reply
          • Saint_Sithney
            Saint_Sithney

            Thank you all for your understanding and comments.

            My experience (and her official diagnosis) is that she has cluster BPD. This alone would not make her abusive (one of my dearest friends is BPD and autistic), but she has always looked for a way to make her abuse the fault of the people in her life, rather than actions she must own up to.

            That’s really the thorniest problem of BPD. BPD can cause abusive actions to seem reasonable or necessary to the sufferer… which traumatizes the people on the receiving end of the abuse, and causes them to be extremely wary of other sufferers. Even ones who have a control or an understanding of their potentially abusive behaviors, and are actively seeking to keep from being abusive, or to do as much palliative care as possible for anyone they may have harmed during the extreme emotions. Those of us who love or are related to an abusive BPD sufferer are told for a long time that it’s not them speaking/hurting. It’s the disorder. So it creates a phobia that does have a logical progression (like the survivor of a same-sex child molestation being deeply uncomfortable around, or actively afraid of gay people), but is also unfair to other sufferers of the disorder because it comes from a sample size of one. A person with BPD may or may not abuse, but a person who has been abused by a BPD sufferer is frequently counselled to blame the disorder, which creates this horrible loop.

            I personally have paroxysmal dyskinesia – a rare neuromuscular disorder that can cause extreme flailing. I have punched, kicked, and headbutted loved ones and medical personnel trying to care for me. I do my best to apologize for the actions after the episode has passed, because while I did not mean to hurt anyone, I did. Most of the people I know with severe mental illnesses understand this concept. My sister has never understood it, and she began abusing me when I was 2 1/2, and she was 4.

            November 19, 2017
  20. I’ve known people like that. Almost ended up dating a couple.
    Sociopaths. They aren’t good people. The only way to protect yourself is to cut them out of your life as much as possible. It seems harsh, but it’s true. Cut them out. They won’t even care.

    And I’m going to take a wild guess and assume ‘Cathy’ never even had an abortion.

    November 15, 2017
    |Reply
  21. My grandmother had NPD, and my father still has some narcissistic behaviors. I was never ever allowed to say any of it was bad, and it led to me having a long string of narcissistic friends and acquaintances that I’d just put up with, because I’d been taught over and over that if you care about someone, you put up with abusive behavior.

    November 15, 2017
    |Reply
  22. Jordan
    Jordan

    Hey Jenny, I just wanted to say a) thanks for your amazing books and b) thanks for these honest and personal essays. I know you get a lot of flack for both but they have been really important to me and I appreciate reading the essays from an “oh my god I’m not alone, someone else met a person who did x” perspective.

    November 16, 2017
    |Reply
  23. Anha
    Anha

    Echoing the sentiments of others who say Cathy could likely have narcisstic PD. These people are everywhere (at least 1 in 25 have some sort of cluster B PD, and that’s not taking into account the masses of undiagnosed ones), so best equip yourself with knowledge lest you encounter one again, because much as I hopeand pray you won’t, chance are you probably will.

    November 16, 2017
    |Reply
  24. Lily
    Lily

    Ah, narcissism. Both parents ( and mom was also a screaming punching stabby cluster B nightmare), one husband (because that’s what I had been trained for…), and one close friend who tried to destroy me. Thank God for Buddhism and intense therapy. Now I’m uninvolved and only amused when I see a narc reveal him/herself; I mean to others, I catch on really fast now.

    November 16, 2017
    |Reply
  25. Artemis
    Artemis

    Could we actually just generally maybe not diagnose people we’ve never met with…anything? Like…it’s 100% reasonable to say “Wow, that person sounds terrible and abusive, I’m so sorry you had to deal with them” without speculating about what mental illness that person might deal with.

    It is really bloody exhausting to come to a space that I generally consider safe from ableist bullshit (especially since there have been posts here about dealing with suicidality and other really difficult mental illness stuff) and finding a whole comment thread where people are demonizing folks with BPD and other cluster B disorders. This is not cute, y’all.

    November 16, 2017
    |Reply

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