Play Misty for Me: Feminine Psychodrama and Restraining Orders

Posted on May 4, 2018


“The first time ‘Misty’ broke into the backyard to pound and scream at the bedroom window, the police handcuffed her and said—her face pressed to the hood of the idling black-and-white—that she was not to return. I figured we would never see her again after that early morning in 2012. But the next night, around 1 a.m., I was in bed with my new boyfriend, ‘Scott,’ and we heard the bedroom door slowly crack open. Scott jumped up. ‘No! You can’t be here!’ he shouted, all high-pitched.”

—“This Restraining Order Expires on Tuesday

Here’s a fascinating look at the female drama behind restraining orders. Its author is a gifted writer, and it’s an engaging read.

The subject of the piece, who’s called “Misty,” actually responds to it in the comments section—repeatedly—and calls some of its details into question, including ones that suggest speculation by the author (which, while imaginative, is nevertheless scrupulous and plausible). The writer, Natasha, was Misty’s rival in a love triangle. She apparently replaced Misty before Misty was prepared to relinquish her man.

That first night, [Scott and I] stayed at my house, and after having an intimate conversation in bed, we noticed his phone had 41 missed calls from Misty.

Then came the texts. She was at his house.

12:03 AM: Where are you? I’m staying here

12:05 AM: Please come back. I’m not going to lose you. I’m not going to give up. Please come back I want to see you. I love you

12:06 AM: I’m too drunk to drive home, can I please stay?

12:10 AM: Ok I’m staying.

Scott turned off the phone. The next morning when we checked again there were 16 more:

6:41 AM: By the way the pup tore the shit out of the house, but don’t worry I cleaned it up. If you can’t take care of him then you need to put him up for adoption.

To judge from Misty’s not contradicting the meat of the story (see the comments that follow it), its more titillating details are substantially accurate—and include serial calls and text messages to a nonresponsive ex, camping out in his yard, and even entering his house uninvited.

Hollywood representations like this one are seldom mirrored in real life. True “fatal attractions” are rare. High-conflict people, though, aren’t as rare as most imagine, which would be better known were their spiteful urges literally murderous (or even significantly violent). Attacks are typically insidious in their effects rather than bloody.

I tried to relax in Scott’s bed and just as I did, Misty appeared in the doorway.

“No! You can’t be here!” Scott cried, as he scrambled out of the sheets.

“I just came to see about the dog!” Misty shouted, rushing towards Scott.

Scott managed to wrangle Misty backwards away from the bed but she broke through and, before I could get fully to my feet, her arm swung back and I felt a fleshy thud against the side of my head.

She looked me in the eye, her nose ring glinting in the lamplight. “That’s what you get, you fat c[—],” she said.

She swooshed around, threw open the door (she had broken in through the window), and ran away into the night.

There was another series of confrontations with Misty but most of them took place in a courtroom, or through the unregulated space of fake Facebook profiles and anonymous emails. In the days after our first six-month order expired in 2013, Scott’s phone buzzed at 1 a.m.

It was a text message from Misty that just read: “Hi.”

Misty’s claim that her rival engaged in some passive-aggressive payback after a restraining order was procured also sounds credible:

Did you tell the people reading this article that you sent me a blank text from your boyfriend’s new phone during the restraining order period? I responded asking “who is this?” Natasha then proceeded to call the cops and told them I had violated the order. The judge laughed at it.

I’m no more a psychologist than Natasha, who chronicles the escapade, and I don’t know that her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) would be confirmed by a clinician, but I think there’s more than a hint of personality-disordered aggression in Misty’s conduct (that reported and that on display in the comments section beneath the story). Of the various personality disorders that typify high-conflict people, what’s more, BPD seems the best fit.

The individual with BPD demonstrates a wide range of impulsive behaviors, particularly those that are self destructive. BPD is characterized by wide mood swings, intense anger even at benign events, and idealization followed by devaluation. The BPD individual’s emotional life is a rollercoaster and his/her interpersonal relationships are particularly unstable. Typically, the individual with BPD has serious problems with boundaries. They become quickly involved in relationships with people, and then quickly become disappointed with them. They make great demands on other people, and easily become frightened of being abandoned by them.

Most suggestive of a disordered personality is the lack of shame or remorse in Misty’s responses. Her impulse is to blame, derogate, and punish:

One day I will laugh at her and said moron’s obese, ugly children and thank the lord they are not mine. I will defend myself to the end! A gigantic f[—] you to all is well deserved. I really can’t help the fact that she’s ugly. Jealousy is a horribly disease. I can’t really think of any other reason why she’d carry this drama on so long, they clearly talk about me. I’m flattered.

A high-conflict person may act impulsively—i.e., in hot blood—but having a personality disorder doesn’t mean someone is insane or psychotic. After an outburst of pique, rage may cool to mute hostility—which may nevertheless endure and continue to flare for years. (It’s perhaps telling, though, that wrathful women are often portrayed brandishing knives. It’s our go-to image for invoking vengeful malice.)

There’s a temptation to wonder whether all of this couldn’t have been resolved by talking things through. The reactions of the couple, like the behavior of Misty’s that motivated it, might be considered hysterical. On the other hand, had the man in the middle shown empathy and tried to assuage Misty’s feelings, he might have been the one who ended up on the receiving end of a restraining order.

This happens.

People like Misty are on both sides of restraining order and related prosecutions. Dare to imagine what Misty would be like as an accuser—the absence of conscience and the vengeful vehemence—and you’ll have an idea of what those who are falsely fingered as abusers are subject to. They’re menaced not by repeated home intrusions but by repeated abuses of process (false allegations to the police and court), which are at least as invasive and far more lasting and pernicious in their effects and consequences.

Something the story significantly highlights is feminine volatility. Feminism (itself often markedly hostile) would have us believe women are categorically passive, nurturing, and vulnerable. It’s men who are possessive, domineering, and dangerous.

The active agents in this story are the women; the guy (the “bone of contention”) is strictly peripheral.

Copyright © 2018

*The author of alleges his accuser is a borderline personality.