Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Mysterious Abandoned Twitter Account Sounds Like My Troubled Friend — So I Have This to Say

Stuart K. Hayashi


 

Years ago at Hawaii Pacific University, I was close to someone who turned out to be dangerously mentally ill. By this, I mean that she was a danger to self and others — and remains so. In her teen years back in her country of origin, she posted online her fantasies about stabbing her romantic rival to death and even doing the same to her own mother. She left that material up for posterity. She insisted to me that by 2009 in Hawaii she was all better. I greatly wanted to believe that was true. And so I went with it. But she wasn’t all better. Nor is she. I have recounted these events before. Before getting to the main topic of this post, I will give a briefer recap.





 

The Background
In February of 2010, my friend told me that an acquaintance of hers had threatened to kill her. I completely believed that accusation. She also repeatedly told me, unsolicited, about how, through her teen years, she maintained a strong desire to kill herself. And she repeatedly brought up her fascination with the topic of child molesters but never elaborated on the source of this fascination. She discussed a series of incidents with someone when both she and the perpetrator were 13 years old, but I didn’t think it explained why she kept talking about adult men being with prepubescent children so specifically.

Finally, she told a very odd story about how, after learning a particularly unhappy family secret, her American-born father legally changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name. My friend said, “ ‘My mum said to him, “How do we know you won’t change your name again? We’ll give our daughter my last name. That’s simpler.’” My friend laughed as she repeated that, and this was her explanation for sharing her last name with her mother and not her father.

Then in April, she once again brought up the acquaintance she had said had threatened her life. This time, she talked of him just being a flirt who was fun to have in the immediate vicinity. In May, she switched her opinion on him every one or two days. Even completely in private, she alternated between those two contradictory interpretations. She returned to saying he threatened her. Then she resumed talking about him just being a flirt. A day later, she went back to saying he threatened her. Every time my friend switched, she sounded as though she didn’t remember what she said previously — even when it was just a single day prior.

Later, my friend uploaded images of herself photoshopped to resemble a dead body with a chalky white face. In this time, I learned that her paternal grandfather and two of his brothers — my friend’s grand-uncles — were all credibly accused of abusing little girls over whom they were supposed to care. One of those cases has even been documented publicly by journalists. In the accounts directly addressing the abuse, the alleged abuser’s name isn’t given, but the victim’s is. The victim is the one who gave the account, and she mentioned what her relationship was to the man she accused of abusing her. When the abuse is not mentioned directly, though, the abuser is not so anonymous.





 

As I have said, because I knew the context behind my friend’s obsession with suicide, I couldn’t write off her public displays of her corpse images as just her “being a goth.” In 2015, my friend stopped uploading pictures of herself as a dead body. She once again started uploading photos of herself as someone who is alive. But she did something else. She legally changed her last name to that of her father’s. I have been told of how my friend’s paternal grandmother — the one whose maiden name is now my friend’s last name — was informed about the abuse going on in the family. Apparently, to her dying day in late 2016, this grandmother unconvincingly denied knowledge of it or that it ever happened.

My friend legally changing her last name to her father’s last name is not a healthy sign. Once again, my knowing the context behind her actions is what prevents me from writing off this gesture as something harmless or benign. It’s presented as some touching tribute. But, knowing the context of what has gone on her father’s side of the family, I don’t interpret it as a loving one. It’s much subtler than the previous one, but this comes across as yet another morbid gesture in public.

Because of all the manipulative behavior, I told my friend that I wouldn’t be in direct contact with her until such time as she returned to regular psychiatric care. She refused. She also responded by feigning memory loss. She pretended to hold no memory of her telling me anything of her past.

She also put up numerous social-media accounts where she puts on this act, trying to pass off the image that she is happy, with her life together and with her being placed in positions of authority and responsibility — the implication apparently being that such high-ranking positions would never be held by someone who’s dangerously mentally ill. To no one’s surprise, putting on that façade became much easier after she stopped uploading her photoshopped-as-a-corpse pictures next to her résumé and proclamations about being professional all the time.

I was therefore surprised, one day, to stumble upon what looks like another one of her social-media accounts, this one on Twitter.


 

Discovering This Strange Twitter Account
This one isn’t like her two other Twitter accounts — self-consciously unrevealing, bland, and milquetoast — trying to sound professional. This one’s tone is very personal and confessional, much like those older LiveJournal accounts where she posted her homicidal fantasies.

This other Twitter account makes some very half-hearted attempts to have some plausible deniability. I mean my friend can deny that the account is hers. The account consists of only eleven tweets and they are only from two days. The first nine tweets are from July 25, 2017, and the last two are from August 4, 2017.

My friend doesn’t have her real photo up. Instead, the profile photo is a crudely drawn image by an obscure social-activist cartoonist. As an aside, when I looked up that cartoonist for the first time ever, I found that on Twitter she already had me autoblocked. The drawing is of a faceless blonde girl. On the Twitter bio, the “location” listed is an American city that I doubt my friend has visited. And the name given on that account is my friend’s original legal name with her mother’s surname. This account went up two years subsequent to my friend already legally changing her last name to her father’s.

I have good reason to suspect that this mysterious, inactive account was indeed created by my friend. It uses — almost verbatim — a disturbing and inaccurate sentence that my friend repeated to me in our final telephone conversations when she was still in Honolulu. I had not directly quoted that sentence on this blog or to anyone, and yet it’s almost exactly the same on this Twitter timeline. The tweets also have the same idiosyncratic grammatical errors that my friend makes habitually in her typing.

In the tweets, the mysterious Twitter account’s owner addresses only one person, someone it does not name. If, as I suspect, this Twitter account was made by my friend, then I think the tweets are referring to me in particular. I conclude as much because the tweets addressing the unnamed person happen to sound just what my friend told me in our telephone exchanges. If this Twitter account was made by my friend but, for some reason, made to address someone other than me, then she is talking to that other person in the same manner that she claimed was exclusive to me. Hence, I am going to respond to these tweets.

These tweets sound as if their authoress wants emotional reconciliation with the unnamed person that they address. And, after all these years, I would like such reconciliation as well. But there are many problems. The last time we spoke over the phone, my friend wanted only a pretense of reconciliation. My participation in that pathological sham would have been dangerous for both my friend and me.


 

The Real Reconciliation That Is Needed, Versus the Empty “Reconciliation” She Demanded Years Ago Over the Phone and Again Pines Over in These Tweets
That is, my friend wanted to go on making her morbid gestures — including going back and forth in repeating and then withdrawing her accusations about violence — and for me to play along with her flimsy pretense at leadership, mental health, and success at life. She wanted me — like many people in Hawaii and in Norway whom I mistook for my friends — to pretend not to be disturbed by the morbid gestures. She wanted me to be an enabler and sycophant reinforcing the pathology rather than confronting her compassionately about getting the psychiatric treatment she needs. This was the perfect rehearsal to Donald Trump surrounding himself with sycophants in the White House and the GOP who are very aware of his obvious pathology and yet feign ignorance of it.

What I am about to describe wasn’t the worst aspect of my friend wanting to help her live this lie. But I will tell you right now what was personally insulting about it for me. Throughout 2009 and 2010, my friend heard me give public speeches about the urgency of embracing objective reality and holding to the principle of not helping anyone live a lie. I explained how people seeing something obviously pathological, and yet just going along with it, was a major cause of injustice and even history’s biggest atrocities. I quoted the principle, “Do not help them to fake reality.” In turn, my friend gushed to me about how the principles I espoused were so meaningful to her.

And now, here was my friend trying to pressure me to do exactly what I preached not to do. And the obvious rhetorical question to pose to her is, “When I gave those speeches about the importance of honesty and refusing to fake reality, do you think I was reciting lines with no comprehension of what I spoke? Did it not occur to you that I am interested in my actions being consistent with my professed ideals?”

But that insulting implication behind my friend’s expectation wasn’t the most important consideration. What was most important was, and is, my friend’s well-being. And that means not to be another one of the sycophants and enablers with whom she had surrounded herself in at least two different countries.

I already knew what the consequences would be if I capitulated to what my friend expected. The “best” case scenario, then, would be that, for a fleeting duration, she would return to her previous state as Dr. Jekyll. She would go back to being affectionate. She would “miraculously” rediscover her memory of what she had previously told me of her past and her family.

But that would not last. Mr. Hyde would return as well, and the devaluation and abusiveness with him. And I wouldn’t just have to help her live this lie by itself. I would also have to pretend not to remember how my friend kept changing her story when it came to whether or not some acquaintance violently threatened her. I would have to be that citizen of Oceania acting as if he didn’t remember that what Big Brother says today contradicts what Big Brother said yesterday. And, to make a comparison with something more recent, I would have to be that White House staffer pretending not to notice President Trump taking several mutually contradictory positions at once.

This is because, contrary to what my friend insisted, she doesn’t have a Jekyll side that can be separated from Mr. Hyde. Those are the same person — even though, as she often said, she feels as if she has no stable concept of her own identity anyway. Contrary to what my friend said, it is not a reprieve for her or anyone else around her simply to pretend that the ugly side of her psyche and her past just doesn’t exist. For her to have true peace, she has to confront that ugliness head on. 

Instead of trying to wish the sadness and anger and fear away through play-acting as “a professional,” the sadness and the anger and fear have to be integrated into a one true self. That is, literally, what it is to have integrity — integrity as in having a single face where one’s behavioral traits are integrated with consistency. That is the reconciliation my friend must have with herself before she can truly reconcile with anyone else, whether a member of her family or not.

And that does mean directly confronting the abuse in the family to which she and her aunts alluded. This is abuse to which she alluded indirectly — in the form of raising the issue of child molestation without obvious explanation — and to which her aunts alluded directly.

And until she begins to make an effort at such an inner reconciliation — necessarily with psychiatric guidance — my friend’s Dr. Jekyll side, as much as it may seem sweeter and more pleasant, is not less manipulative or abusive than the Mr. Hyde side.

I would not be surprised if, upon somehow reading this blog post today, my friend slapped on a smile and proclaimed, “I was in a dark place when I wrote that. But I’m all better now. Life is great. These days I don’t miss Stuart at all.” But we’ve already heard and read that false and comically grandiose announcement many times — at least the falsehood within those first three sentences. Absent of the compassionate intervention required, my friend will continue her accursed cycle. She will pronounce herself confident and a great success, only to return to despair months later — feeling forlorn and crying over what she tells herself is lost to her.


 

Second Person: Addressing My Friend Directly 
I feel sorry for you. And when I read these tweets, I want to hug you — I do care about necessary rules against spreading COVID, of course — and wipe away your tears and remind you I don’t want your hurting to continue. The hurting will not stop — a part of you already knows this — from your continuing to pretend to ignore the pain, as though that were enough to make it go away for the long term. It is to be mitigated by facing directly the pain and its domestic origins. 

 You say, “From the start I've known that keeping my feelings to myself is the safest choice.”

That was never safe. And, on some level, you know that. Your refusal to be open and upfront is the source of your loneliness and yearning. It is precisely the reason why everything came pouring out of you and into your old LiveJournal accounts and this series of tweets from you. And I’m sure that mere days after you sent out those last two tweets in August of 2017, you probably switched back to your other mode. I know that, since then, you have made additional social-media postings once again to put on the ploy that your life is safe and fine. But I’m equally sure that all of the pain and loneliness has returned to you many times since that last tweet, probably hitting even harder than before. The inept attempts at maintaining an illusion of stability and strength will always fail you in a matter of months. They are not what will give you strength and peace.

And then there is this series of tweets:
  • I felt like myself with you. I didn't have to hide who I was. I was so comfortable. 
  • but one day you left me so fast. 
  • I still don't understand why because nothing went wrong. Everything was perfect actually.
Every one of those three tweets displays a lie you have been telling yourself. The first and last one contain lies you have told yourself throughout  the entire duration in which we were speaking face-to-face.

First, you did hide the truth. You blamed all of your fears and paranoia on that series of incidents when you and that friend were thirteen. That friend should have made a real effort to understand informed consent; there is no excusing what he did. What we know is that, as you and your aunts have conveyed, that manipulation by someone you trusted was not without precedent even then. That the long-term harm inflicted upon you started years prior — and much closer to home — was much-needed context that you withheld.

Had you been upfront about this, I would not have turned you away. I would only have had more knowledge and insight in helping you get through your flashbacks and panic attacks and anxiety.

Second, we both know that I never left you. Because you let your fears override your judgment and happiness, you ghosted me. You withdrew all affection. You decided only to address me with a rediscovered air of condescension and dismissal, the same tone you originally used with me when we were first speaking in the autumn of 2009. And then your insistence that we maintain “friendship” at the price of my subordinating myself to your pretenses of normalcy — knowing completely well, by then, the principles by which I try to conduct myself — was your initiation of the dissolution of what we had together. You know it.

Thirdly and finally, you describe what we had as “perfect actually.” No, it was not. The situation seemed happy for a time. But because you weren’t getting the professional psychiatric help you need, and because you refused to face the aspects of your family that are still traumatizing you, all the pain and fear regained its hold over you. Rather than you managing the pain, it was pain that was managing you. That is why what we had together had melted down — and you with it. And if I did what you wanted — resume a “friendship” by playing along with your act — the cycle would have repeated.

This is a curse, but not a supernatural one. There is no supernatural. This is far worse. It is a curse that began with unhealthy attachment dynamics in the generations preceding yours. These unhealthy family dynamics were taught from one generation to another. Much of the traumas you have experienced are the logical consequence of that. And that elder people have imposed it on you is not your fault. But with years of effort, you can break that curse. Freedom does not arrive from your running from contemplation about what has been going on in your home. Freedom is attained through running toward that contemplation — with courage and resolve.

And you need not face it alone. Nor even can you. You need regular psychiatric guidance. Recognition of the need to return to regular psychiatric care — and to stick with it this time — was nowhere mentioned in your series of tweets. But that — not real-estate investing, putting up images to insinuate that you’re doing awesomely, or continuing to have your morbid gestures reinforced by the same circle who lauded your corpse pictures — is what is most worthy of consideration and public acknowledgment from you.

And I had not “left” you. For valid reasons, I did not make any direct replies to your demand that I accommodate your pathology. But my spirit, my heart — my concern for your true lasting happiness — was with you all these years, even oceans apart.

Stop putting on this pretense on social media about your life being together. Everyone knows, deep down, that it is not. Stop trying to use your legal name and social media to put on this illusion of family harmony. For those who come across you, even casually, be upfront about your psychiatric condition and the risks involved. In consideration of the violent threats and dubious accusations about crime that you have made, people in your acquaintance do have a moral right to know about your mental illness — for your safety and theirs.

Those who write you off upon learning about your psychiatric condition are people who are wrong, and that is their problem. The people you need around you are the ones who, upon learning of your condition, will reciprocate honesty and support your courage in getting regular psychiatric care and in healing that little girl inside you who suffered that abuse in secret, the little girl who cried out in the form of these morbid public gestures.

Even before I knew the full truth about you, I was saddened that you spoke disparagingly of those lyrics from Jon Bon Jovi: “It’s my life/now or never.” Sneer as much as you want, but those lyrics are true. And they are about you. It is your life. It has been many years and, to this day, I still wish that you valued yourself at least as much as I do you.