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As I Witnessed, Abusers Control Spouse’s Friends/Family

I’m not the only one to suffer isolation from loved ones as a tool used to force me to accept abuse.   As I wrote about in Emotional Blackmail, The Incident and The Fallout,

Emotional blackmail: That’s the term for Tracy’s demand that I accept her verbal abuse of me as my due, and sit and let her scream and yell at me in person about all my “faults” and all the “horrible” things I had done, or else I never am allowed to speak to or e-mail Richard again.  Basically, she was to change nothing about herself, while I was to change everything about myself and grovel at her feet, or else I lose what I thought was my best friend.

My ex Phil also tried various ways to isolate me from my friends, coming up with the excuse that they were dissing him for being Catholic, when in reality they hated the way he treated me.  When his constant complaints to me didn’t work, he got angry at me for not sticking up for him against them, when I never saw them dissing him.  He got angry at me for not supporting him, when they saw he was trying to passive-aggressively embarrass me, told him he was wrong–and I agreed.

He even got his best friend to help as his abuser-by-proxy, telling him that my friends were treating him badly.  The best friend then told me that not only was it the way to get Phil back, but a moral imperative, for me to distance myself from my friends!  My best friends, people who are still my best friends, good people, people I lived with, who had helped, supported and stuck up for me all through college!  This is all in my College Memoirs, junior and senior year installments.

And it matches up with Tracy’s treatment of Richard, involving me or his family or friends.  All I know about one of Richard’s old friends and Tracy, is that they were “at war” and Tracy got angry when she discovered Richard had been talking to her.  I know that this friend warned Richard before he married Tracy that Tracy was going to cause him trouble.

I know Richard felt he had to support Tracy when Tracy began abusing and smearing Richard’s close friend Todd.  I know that there was another friend who fought with Tracy and finally broke off her friendship with Richard because of it.

I know that Tracy complained about Richard’s family, especially when one day she was mean to him over the phone, they told her to stop it, and she got mad at Richard for not sticking up for her against them.  I know, also, in the situation I referenced above, that Phil did the same to me when he tried to embarrass me, my friends stuck up for me, and he got furious with me–and broke up with me for the second and final time–for not supporting him.

It all fits together, all follows the same playbook which abusers and narcissists follow, yet Tracy’s response to my writings about this is to accuse me of “false facts” and accusing an “innocent” person. That, too, is part of the abuser’s playbook, as abusers refuse to see themselves and their actions for what they are.  No, no, the victim is to blame!

Alex Grenier, whom I wrote about and quoted in Bully Victims of the World Unite (which has brought me all sorts of hits the last few days), is in the same place.  His father, like Tracy, refuses to accept that he has abused, refuses to repent and reconcile to his victims.

Instead, he has forced his wife, mother of Alex and his brothers, to cut them out of her life.  She is not allowed to contact them, just as I am not allowed to contact Richard (which, by the way, is precisely why I wrote these blogs instead of a letter to Richard).  Maybe if Tracy and Bob were to allow communication between their victims and abusers-by-proxy, Alex’s blog and mine would never have happened:

This comment was left by my mother (and grandmother to my kids and my brother Geoff’s daughter) who also told me and my brothers to our face that she hated us and didn’t have us as children anymore (years ago) when we confronted the abuses head on and wouldn’t back down.

This comment also comes from a grandmother who refuses to see her grandchildren who want to see her. I begged my mom to come and visit my premature son while he was in the NICU clinging to life over 5 years ago. She ignored my calls….

I’ve tried many times over the years to communicate with her, no response. Bob says it’s “disloyal” and forces the family member to pick sides. I know this to be true, because it’s what Bob did when my brother Geoff was kicked out of the home at 16-years-old after Bob punched him in the face and knocked him to the ground in one of his many many rages.

We were all specifically instructed to cut all communication with Geoff, despite all of our sadness in doing so. My mom followed those strict rules. I had to sneak around so as not to catch hell.

I couldn’t obey that command of Bob, it was wrong and against God. My brother needed communication from his loved ones. He was in a very vulnerable time and needed some sane communication and some love, encouragement and mercy. I used to have to remind Geoff over and over that the abuse wasn’t his fault, that it was Bob’s fault.

Bob always framed the abuse and his “temper problem” as being Geoff’s fault. Wrong and a lie from the devil.  http://calvarychapelabuse.com/wordpress/?p=662

Alex’s mother and Richard are obviously both afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome.  The abuser-by-proxy which Richard became of me over time, was so different from the sweet, caring, sensitive, kind, open man he was when he alone lived in our house, that I had to wonder if he was the same person.  The friend who used to share everything with me, called me the most awesome person he knew, loved to spend time with me, became closed, short, cutting, critical.  And I am also afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome, because I still care about him after the things he’s done.

Alex’s mother is also a victim of all sorts of abuse from Bob, according to Alex.  I have witnessed Richard being verbally abused and angrily smacked by Tracy, only to later hear from him those classic victim lines, “I deserved it.”  I also know, straight from Richard, that Tracy punches him and verbally abuses him and the children.

Yet he defends her to me, pretends that even when she verbally abuses me and even desires to physically assault me, she is somehow in the right, even accepts the ban on communication between him and me, because that is what Tracy wants.  Just as Alex’s mother tells her children that she hates them and refuses to communicate with them or her grandchildren, because this is what Bob wants her to do.  And no, this is NOT okay.

This is isolation.  Not only does it isolate Alex and his brothers from their mother, not only does it isolate me from Richard–it goes even further:

It isolates the closest abuse victim, the spouse, from those who see the abuser’s actions for what they are.  And when the spouse agrees with it, the abuser has won, gets the spouse into complete control.  After all, if the spouse were to still communicate with the ostracized, estranged family member or friend, he/she could open his/her eyes and see what’s really going on–and leave!  The abuser can’t have that, now, can she/he?

The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed “all their eggs in one basket”. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence. The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive. At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual.  Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser

The above is exactly what happened in my situation with Richard and Tracy.  First I recognized that what Richard had told me about Tracy, was true, as I witnessed it playing out in front of my eyes and ears in my own house for six weeks.

As soon as Tracy realized I recognized her for an abuser, I became her victim as well, as she tried desperately to control me–and Richard allowed it, even made excuses for her, became her abuser-by-proxy.

He seemed to forget everything he had told me as soon as she arrived, to begin making excuses for everything she did to him, the children and to me–except at isolated moments, when he admitted what she was doing was wrong.  I remembered those moments, remembered everything he told me, kept e-mails and made notes.  I even have a draft of an e-mail I wrote to my mother months after they moved out, complaining about some things he had just said that condoned screaming at children and yelling at one’s spouse.

And this after he’d complained to me many times about Tracy screaming at and verbally abusing the kids and breaking their spirits and making them cry, and her mother doing the same thing to the kids and the two of them yelling at each other to stop it.  And this before I heard him scolding Tracy for screaming at the kids, in May or June 2010, while we were at their house.  I felt gaslit every time he made me feel as if I’d imagined his words, but those isolated moments would remind me that I did not imagine a thing.

You see it also happening with Alex.  Even though Alex has witnessed his mother’s own brutal abuses at the hands of his stepfather Bob, she refuses to believe that Bob is an abuser.  She became Alex’s abuser-by-proxy, cutting him off from her even when he begged for her to communicate with him, just as I was cut off from my dear friend and spiritual mentor Richard–as Tracy said, with his consent.  Alex’s mother is obviously consenting, as well.  It doesn’t make it right.

The worst part is when the spouse makes this into some sort of perceived societal requirement.  For example, 1) If the wife tells you your friend is a horrible person and you must separate from her, you must do as she asks out of respect for her, even though your relationship with that friend is and has always been platonic.  She might spin in her head all sorts of reasons why that friend is trying to get her husband into bed, as justification.  Or maybe it’s a male friend she claims was rude to her.  (Such as in the latest episode of Big Bang Theory, when Amy became Director-Zilla, Wil Wheaton snapped at her, and she got angry with her boyfriend Sheldon for not automatically taking her side.)

For another example, 2) The husband is appointed by God as the head of the household, so the wife must submit and obey without question, even if that means cutting herself off from her own children and grandchildren.  To do otherwise would defy not only her husband, but God himself!

You see how easily such beliefs lead to isolation and abuse not only of the friend who was perceived as a threat, but of the spouse expected to follow these “rules.”  This is why I maintain that, while supporting your spouse is generally a good thing, if your spouse is abusing you or another person, you must refuse to support and participate in that abuse.  Otherwise, you gang up on the victim, and become an abuser yourself.  This is also the belief of Anna Valerious, author of the blog Narcissists Suck:

The narcissist appeaser, the self-anointed and so-called peacemaker, is as immoral as his master. He is a pagan priest who will gladly slice your throat or rip your heart out of your chest if it will buy time, peace or prosperity for himself. He is as demanding and capricious as his N god; he must in order to thrive in the narcissist environment. Know it and plan accordingly.  The Pagan Priesthood of Appeasement

As I write this, the example that I am reflecting on is my own father. He is a living representation of the ultimate cost of peace at any cost.

Don’t picture my father as a obsequious, weak man. He is nothing of the sort. He was a man of strength and forthrightness at one time…a long time ago. This was a man who would never stand by to watch some stranger get attacked and he not intervene. With fists if need be.

This was not true, though, with his own children. He seems to have had no perspective where it concerned how his wife was…and how she treated his own children. He saved his pity for her. He made allowances for her bad behavior because he believed her childhood explained (and justified) her bad behavior as an adult.

Because he made these allowances for the perpetrator, he was not able to see his way clear to protect his children from the beast. Because he pitied the perp, he ended up consigning helpless children to her abuses. He loved my mother above all else. His children were unwanted and annoying appendages to his idol, my mother. He tolerated us because he loved her. This also made it easy for him to demand of us better behavior than he expected from a full-grown woman, his wife. He only ‘loved’ us when we were invisible or when we performed as he expected us to.

My father today is a bitter, angry, cynical man. His mind gradually poisoned by Worm Tongue against his children and extended family. I have evidence in his own writing that he has surrendered his integrity in order to keep peace with the devil. His moral compass is so broken that he feels righteous and justified to demand of me, his grown daughter, that I too capitulate to the selfish demands of his infernal wife. He sees me as the problem because I will not bend over and grab the ankles in order to ‘make peace’…like he has.

Yes, indeed. The price for peace with a villain is very high indeed. It has cost my father much. He has lost every one of his extended family members. He has lost at least one daughter. All he has left is his evil wife. And, perhaps, the one daughter who greatly resembles his evil wife, my sister.

Was it really worth defending the indefensible all these years? I highly doubt it. I have seen clear indications that much of the time he can’t stand to be around my mother. They live separate lives. He speaks impatiently and angrily with her much of the time. There are times when he is tender and indulgent with my mother. These are rare times when she has managed to use enough of her feminine charms to soften him. He is not a happy man. He has paid out too much of his soul, though, to cash in his chips. He will stay with her to the bitter, ugly end.

Count carefully the ultimate cost of ‘peace at any and all costs’. It is very steep. In the end, all you will be left with is the cold comfort of your pretended integrity and righteousness minus your soul.  The High Price of Peace at Any Cost

Richard informed me once that Tracy insisted on being friends with his friends, that she had to put the friend through an approval process, that it wasn’t just me.  Most people, he said, she approved right away.  (Oh, it makes me feel special that I had to jump through all sorts of impossibly high hoops!  Especially when I was the one providing her with food and shelter while she was homeless.)  She got furious with him for contacting an old friend whom she hated.  To her, as she wrote, this was all perfectly normal, all part of “respecting” a spouse, and me submitting to it was expected and normal because “everybody knows” you have to befriend the wife as well.

Um…..I had never encountered such a rule, and in fact, when I twice tried to friend my pastor friend Mike‘s wife on Facebook (they live far away), she rejected me!  As Mike explained, she does not want to be friends with his friends just because they’re his friends, does not want to read his chats with me, and trusts him completely.

It’s the same thing between my husband and me.  I have also never forbidden my husband from being friends with someone just because I don’t like that person.  (There was a time, many years ago, when I felt justified in forbidding him from being friends with former lovers, but after dealing with Tracy, I realized how controlling that was, repented, and rescinded that rule.)

There’s also a huge difference between someone being deliberately rude to your spouse, and someone being naturally shy and quiet, and/or reacting to your spouse’s abuses.

No, feeling entitled to “approve” your spouse’s friends, or even family members, is just another element of control in the abuser’s toolbox.  It treats the spouse like a child, not a full-grown, fully-functioning adult capable of making his own decisions.  It shows a lack of trust in the spouse’s judgment.

Meanwhile, Richard only asked that he meet a guy friend of his wife once, did not require being friends with him as well, did not have to “approve” him.  And Tracy did not require of herself the same things she required from others, allowing herself all sorts of freedoms with my husband–going to a concert alone with, playing footsie with, flirting with–even though she had not befriended me first.  I did not mind or object, but did see the double standard.

 Many abusers try to cut you off from your family and your friends. And by doing this, they gain more control over you and how you think. Because they are well aware that your family and friends would not approve of how they are treating you.  And they also know that those closest to you would begin to see a huge difference in your personality, which is becoming more and more unsure of yourself on a daily basis. You realize that you are slowly becoming a “non-person” like a frog that is slowing boiling to death in hot water because the temperature is being turned up little by little so that they hardly notice it.

The abuser may contrive to move the target to another city or state, to limit contact. Once out of sight, it is much easier to control the amount of contact the target has with friends and family. These “outsiders” are often blamed for any problems the couple have. Before you know it, you are cutting ties with your family and with your closest friends.  You are afraid to have them and the abuser in the same room together for fear of what he might say to them and vice versa. He will use any number of excuses to keep you from seeing them. And if distance is involved he will use the lack of money for why you cannot visit your own family or even call them….

Everything in a relationship with an abuser is one-way- the abuser’s way. What an abuser requires of you, he does not expect of himself. The rules that he applies to you do not apply to him. When you do something to break the rules it is a “cardinal sin.” However, when he breaks the same rule he finds justification for it. Or so he thinks.

6.) A Deep Internal Rage

The abuser often has a very violent temper that will flare up over the most minor of things. You will be surprised at the intensity of their anger over something that you hardly even saw as a problem.. Many targets of abuse describe arguments with their abuser as being about “stupid” things.  This usually happens when you dare to disagree with or challenge something they have said. Or when you dare to voice your own opinion about something.  You find out that your opinions and suggestions don’t count, only theirs do….

Many times, an early indication of abuse is the use of verbal language designed to make you feel small, ugly, worthless or stupid. Cutting remarks are used whenever the abuser feels down and out. By making the target feel lousy, too, the abuser feels better. Even so-called pet names are often thinly disguised abuse.  Another name for this is verbal abuse.

9.) A tendency to blame others.

Abusers have a talent for twisting things around so it appears someone else is to blame for whatever goes wrong. If they get mad – it’s someone else’s fault. If they hit someone, it’s their fault. If the car breaks down, it’s someone else’s fault. Usually, the person an abuser blames is YOU,  the victim — the spouse or lover. Abusers are so good at this that the victim often comes to believe it is true. Then the victim feels guilty.  This is called “crazy making.”  Recognizing the Abusive Personality

 A frequent condition of abuse is seeking to socially isolate the partner. The abuser cuts off their partner from contact with other people, such as family, friends and children, by creating a social deprivation that leads the partner to be more reliant, or dependent, on the abuser. Social isolation also prevents the partner from seeking support from others or successfully leaving the relationship. Behaviors commonly used to impose social isolation include:

  • Blaming the partner’s friends or family for the couple’s “relationship” problems
  • Monitoring phone calls, mail or visits
  • Demanding an account of the partner’s daily activities
  • Insulting, threatening or assaulting the partner’s friends or family; driving them away
  • Forcing the partner to choose between the relationship and loved ones
  • Creating public scenes or disturbances when the partner is out with others
  • Stalking the partner and other forms of surveillance  Types of Domestic Abuse

Often the abuser will isolate his spouse from friends or family members in an attempt to keep her focused solely on him, and to maintain control. It is much easier to keep someone feeling worthless or crazy, if her contact with outside sources of reassurance or reality are limited.

The abuser may accomplish this by monitoring her actions, making her account for her time, checking up on her, and expecting that she go out only with people, or to do things, that he approves of.  He may accomplish this by creating strife between her [and] people he does not want her to be around.

Or, he might make it so unpleasant for her if she attempts to have a social life, that she cuts off contact with people on her own. This may happen because he calls incessantly when she is out, embarrassing her, or because he picks fights with her friends or family members, or he picks fights with her anytime she wants to go out. At that point, some women just give up trying to do certain things that would help her feel less isolated because it takes so much out of her.

There is also another kind of isolation that occurs when a woman who is allowed to be social, is still so quiet about her situation, out of fear or embarrassment, that she keeps it all to herself. This woman will feel just as alone and doubtful of herself and her situation as the woman who finds its to scary to try and have relationships with friends or family if the abuser does not approve. Domestic Abuse is Hitting Home

Tracy even picked fights with Richard for coming to my house for ten minutes to pick up bags of their stuff which I found while cleaning my house, after they moved out!  “Tooth and nail,” he called it.  I also heard her accuse him of not wanting to spend time with the family, when he’d be late coming home from work.

For those whose question really means, ‘why don’t you stand up to him?’ they obviously don’t understand what a woman who is being abused faces. The abusers absolute conviction that he is entitled to control, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to get it, means that standing up to him is dangerous. When the abuser is violent, that could mean being assaulted.

However, even in the absence of physical violence, a woman has to fear the consequences of standing up to him. Perhaps it’s the woman who insisted that it was okay for her to speak with her sister every now and then, who got her phone taken away. Perhaps it’s the woman who did push for them to go to her parents for Shabbat, only to have her husband purposely leave the clothing for the children at home, explaining to her parents when they arrive, that she had forgotten the children’s things, and that he is very worried because there has been something not right lately.

For those whose question really means ‘why don’t you get out?’, they aren’t understanding what a complex and difficult situation a woman in this marriage is facing. She often worries about her children, what a divorce will do to them; what hell do during a divorce process, whether they’ll be better or worse off if she divorces and isn’t around to see what happens when the abuser has visitation with them.

She is often ashamed because she has learned that shalom bayis is her responsibility and she feels a failure, even though there is no pleasing an abuser. She worries about her family’s and the community’s reaction.

Thinking about leaving can be scary. Although living with an abuser can be dangerous, most women sense that the danger can increase in trying to get out, something statistics have borne out. The abuser has usually done scary things and made threats, specifically about what he’ll do if she tries to leave him.

But probably the most compelling reason women dont leave is that they keep hoping things will get better. They got married to stay married. There are often children. There are good times, and the hope is that there is something they can do to keep the good times and get rid of the bad times.

The issue is that this is a very complex situation, one in which professional intervention, along with Rabbinic/community /parental support is needed. However, that support needs to be well informed and trained in understanding the different problems that can exist in marriage, and there needs to be an expertise in handling domestic abuse so that the help thats given is what is safe and appropriate to the situation.  Domestic Abuse is Hitting Home

Richard, you know I’m telling the truth.  You know you and the kids have been abused.  You know the things you’ve told me.  I know you’ve abused your kids, too, because the state convicted you of it.  But you can get out of this abusive situation.  You can change this.  We would help you.  There are resources here in town.

Taking the abuser’s perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them.

The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations to isolate the victim from others. Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts.

Victims then turn on their family – fearing family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse their parents and friends, tell them not to call and stop interfering, and break off communication with others. Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as “causing trouble” and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they continue to “interfere” or try to help the victim in their situation.

On the surface it would appear that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact situation that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations – the victim quickly realizes it’s safer if Mom stops calling. If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn’t work, for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand that she stop calling.  Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser

 

 

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Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1994, Part 6

I told Phil what I often thought over the years: that to us students who lived on campus, quarters were gold.  Only quarters were accepted in the laundry machines, so they were hoarded, and the more you had the better.  It beat having to run down to the Campus Center all the time to get a roll of quarters, especially since once or twice I couldn’t find anyone at the Information Desk to give me quarters.  So Phil began giving me quarters here and there as tokens.  The first time, he said I should know what it was for, but I didn’t.  I guess it was a token of his affection.

I didn’t remember this until years later when writing these memoirs, but I dreamed about Phil before I met him.  More details of that dream will soon make sense; for now, I thought Phil looked like Eric Idle.

I hated when he cut his hair, because whenever it got long, it curled up at the ends.

When I first started going out with Phil, the song “No Excuses” by Alice in Chains had just come out.  It became my new favorite song.

The beautiful song “Sweet Lullaby” came out around this time, and is associated in my mind with the winter part of spring semester.  I wondered how many people knew that Deep Forest also had the song “Deep Forest.”  I taped the video, too.  At the time I thought it was a little dull compared to “Deep Forest,” but I still liked it.  It fit right in with the creative songs of that time.

Sarah McLachlan came out with a new album during spring semester.  I thought it was her debut, but she’d done at least one other album before; I didn’t know this for several years.  I thought songs like “Good Enough” and “Hold On” were beautiful, that her voice was beautiful, and that she was beautiful to match.  Because of this, the occasional cuss word in her songs seemed out of place, ugly trolls among beautiful, graceful fairies.  (Not like cuss words in many alternative or hard rock songs.)

I first saw her on a video one day while at Phil’s house, Possession.  Her short nose reminded me of my aunt and mother, making her look much like them; her face looked British.  This would become one of my favorite songs of all time.

****

I told Phil my fears about Dungeons and Dragons, that The 700 Club had portrayed it as this evil thing which led to demonic activity and Satanism.  He said it wasn’t that way at all.  He said spells are not actually said; you say you’re casting a spell, and maybe wiggle your fingers or something, but you don’t actually cast any spells.  The 700 Club had made it look like a board game, but it wasn’t.  They had said all sorts of things about it that weren’t actually true (unless, of course, your DM, or Dungeon Master, was mean).  Phil invited me to watch him play a game with Dirk, and make up my mind about it then.  So I did.

I watched them as they played a D&D game called “Undermountain.”  Phil was the DM, and led Dirk’s dwarf character through caverns in a mountain.  He used voices and accents and made things amusing and exciting.  Dirk would jokingly say things like “oh great Dungeon Master” or “great DM,” and I picked up on this.  It all seemed perfectly harmless to me, so I decided to join in later on.  There were some pre-made characters, and I chose that of a sixteen-year-old.  I used a British accent, which was a lot of fun for me, and played her as a girl who wanted to try out the wine in a cask the characters found–which surprised Phil.  But hey, must my characters always be exactly like me?

Julie once told me she was impressed that Phil, as a DM, let people duck out to study or whatever.  She said there were DM’s who would make you come to each game, no matter what tests you had.

Another time, Dirk led us in a game of “Werewolf: The Apocalypse.”  My character warmed up quickly to Phil’s character, and I remember them cuddling by a fire after setting up camp.  It seemed really exciting as we rolled up our characters and chose tribes and totems and such, but the game itself was boring.  Phil said Dirk didn’t run it very well.  We never did play the game again.

D&D is what you make of it.  It doesn’t have to be bad for you.  You don’t have to play characters who go against your own beliefs.  You don’t have to end up so obsessed with it that you can’t do or think of anything else, that you think you are your character, and that you spend all your money on the books.  (Some people do.  But then, some people are obsessed with science fiction, chocolate or video games.  That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with the object of the obsession, just that the person needs to expand his interests.)

In the 90s, I played D&D with other Christians for years, and none of us became Satan worshippers; we all stayed Christians.  And since you don’t actually say any real spells, and the gods and goddesses are generally made up, there is no danger of accidentally calling up an unwelcome, demonic visitor.

I had told Phil that God gave me my name (my real name, not “Nyssa”), as my parents told me.  They said they both had the idea and then one mentioned it, and the other said they’d also thought of it.  They agreed that God put it into their hearts to name me that.  I never knew why, but my life had been a search for the reason, for my purpose.  (This is also a big deal in many fundamentalist/evangelical circles.)  Phil thought this was silly, and that hurt.  As we played “Werewolf,” one of us brought it up.

Phil began to ridicule my thoughts about the importance of my name.  Dirk came to my defense and said, “Hey, this is important to her.  Respect that.”

****

Soon after this, while we were alone in his room, Phil pretended to fall asleep, but let me believe he really was asleep.  (It was months before he told me the truth.)  He began to say things to me like, “I know your purpose.”  His mom came in the room and woke him up.  I feared he’d never be able to tell me now.  But he “fell asleep” again and said, “Your purpose is–to destroy me!”  I was horrified.

He later said it was because he decided not to be a priest, and God was angry with him.  I sat in disbelief that this could be my purpose, the reason for God naming me, which I’d sought for all my life!  I don’t think I did believe it.  I probably insisted it was just a dream.

So the gaslighting started very early, but I didn’t know what was going on until it was too late.

Another example: One night, Phil and I were in the lounge talking when it got to be really late.  He talked about leaving, yet didn’t get up.  He made no move to go for some time.  Then when he did, of course I wanted to kiss and hug him good-bye, and of course I wasn’t happy to have to part.

Whoever is, that early in a relationship?  Who ever wants to say good-bye–unless, of course, you don’t actually care about that person and could just as soon be away from them as soon as possible?  It’s an expression of endearment, but not at all the same as holding a person hostage: He can leave at any time.  Just say how much you will miss her and how much you don’t want to leave, give her a hug and a kiss, then leave.  I also don’t push people out the door: I let them decide when to leave, because they are grownups and I am not their mother.  It boggles my mind that I would even have to explain these things; you’d think it would be obvious.

He finally left, but didn’t get much sleep because he had an 8:00 the next morning; he may even have been late to class.  When I saw him later that day, he blamed me for everything!

How could he blame me for that?  It was his own fault, yet he complained that I didn’t let him go, when that wasn’t at all the case.  I explained this, and things seemed to be okay after that.  But it was the beginning of being blamed for things of which I was innocent; far more cases of this were to come over time, a series of gaslighting to make me think I was the bad one.

In the very beginning, it seemed there was no problem that Phil and I couldn’t work out between us, and every problem we had, we instinctively knew how to solve.  Phil had recently done a paper on problem solving between couples, and he said we did everything that he’d read we were supposed to do.  Though he’d written this paper, I hadn’t, so I hadn’t read the articles he did, but for me it just came naturally.  When he told me this, I thought it was amazing–and yet another reason why we were good for each other.

This is ironic, however, because in time it would seem that we didn’t know how to solve anything anymore.

****

I liked to read the Bible books in Phil’s house, especially one which explained the archaeological and cultural backgrounds behind the stories of the Bible.  He also had a Catholic Bible, of course, and I read some of the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books in that.  I found them fascinating.  I read the Additions to Esther and Susanna and the Elders, and maybe other books as well, as I sat next to Phil in the computer lab one day.  (He had his own computer at home so didn’t use the lab often, but this one time he did with me nearby.  It was weird to sit next to a guy in the computer lab again, like I did with Peter.)

One day, Phil showed me a tape of him acting in an elementary or middle school play of Treasure Island.  He towered over the other children, which was why he was cast as Long John Silver.  He was also far and beyond the best actor there (as his teacher told him), not sounding like he was reading his lines.  As a child, maybe as early as second grade when I played a whistling bird in a little play in my reading group (I couldn’t whistle and had to make these sort of tweeting noises), I had noted that many other children sounded like they were reading, and I fought hard to sound natural.  In fact, in 7th grade I wanted to be an actress.  Phil had a definite gift, and I hoped he’d become famous with it.

Very early in 1994, the song “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows came out.  I liked it at first, and the MTV Buzz Clip ad was cute: as a clip of the song played, one of those little constant-motion mechanisms that looks like a bird kept dipping its head to “drink” water.  But the song was overplayed so much that I just could not stand it anymore, and I still can’t listen to it.  In 1996, I heard on some TV program about the Counting Crows that it was played so much, even the band couldn’t stand it anymore!

I believe it was only about two or three weeks since we started going out when I spent one Saturday night at the house of Phil’s sister Maura, helping him babysit for his nephew, Taylor.

Taylor’s grandparents spoiled him terribly.  For examples, he would insist on having things his way, watching his tape of the 1993 Disney movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey AGAIN when Phil and I were in the middle of watching The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, staying up too late, eating this or that before dinner, and such.

Phil said he was like Taylor at that age (about four), throwing a temper tantrum to get a book he wanted and such like that.  (Uh-oh.  I hope Taylor didn’t grow up to be just like him.  Taylor would now be about 23, which makes me feel friggin’ old.)  Phil often said to him, “You can’t always get what you want.”  We felt he needed to learn this (though Phil apparently never did).  But Taylor could also be cute, and watching Phil play and roughhouse with him warmed my heart.  I thought he’d be a good father.

Maura had also given in to Taylor’s demands and gotten him a puppy, a big, yellow one which I believe was like Chance in Homeward Bound.  Chance was also the puppy’s name.  She was very young and hadn’t been housetrained.  Chance would bark all night because she didn’t like being locked up in a kennel in the kitchen, but if you let her out she would pee on the floor.  She did this once in the kitchen while we were there, and we had to clean it up, which was disgusting.  We had trouble sleeping that night because of her barking.

The downstairs-bathroom sink also had only cold water.  We slept on a sofa-bed downstairs, and Taylor slept in his room upstairs.

While in the kitchen, maybe while helping him heat up a pizza for dinner, Phil and I somehow got on the subject of the Rapture and Tribulation.  He’d never heard of it before, which I thought was unbelievable.  How could he grow up in the Church without ever hearing of the Last Days?  It was all in Revelations.  So I told him about it, and encouraged him to read the whole story in Revelations and Daniel.

(In 1999 I read a message from a Catholic on a newsgroup saying that the concept of the Tribulation and Rapture is Protestant, not Catholic.  That sounded ludicrous to me at the time because the concept comes from the Bible.  But it’s true.  In October 2001, some people on the Dark Shadows newsgroup discussed it, saying that only some Christians believe in a literal translation of all of Revelations.  I’d always thought that all Christians believed in it, since it was in the Bible.  In September and maybe part of October 2001, however, I did another reading of it myself, using two Bibles which gave various interpretations of it.  Before, I’d always read it as a description of the End Times.  Now, I discovered that most of it probably isn’t meant to be taken literally, but allegorically.  For example, 666 would probably be Nero, meaning that it already took place–and hardly in a literal fashion.  Further research uncovered that traditional interpretations hold Revelations to be highly symbolic, the Rapture to be a modern fabrication, and Christ’s reign to be here and now in the Church, not a literal theocracy–amillennialism.)

Once, after we’d been making out a bit, I got up to go to the bathroom.  When I came back, Phil was asleep on the couch.  I tried to wake him up, and he started kissing me and being playful with his eyes closed.  At first I thought he was awake, but then discovered he was still asleep.  I touched him with my hands, which were icy cold from the lack of warm water in the bathroom sink.  He cried out, put his hands to his face, and made noises like he was crying.  I tried to wake him up, distressed at this.

When I finally got him to wake up, he told me he’d dreamed that I had died, and it upset him.  He said everything he’d done with his eyes closed, he’d done while asleep.  Peter had often talked in his sleep or acted out his dreams, but this was even more intense than that.  I was shocked at this strange ability Phil had, and because of Peter and because of my trust in Phil, I believed in it.

I was to find out, many months later, that it was a trick to show me how much he’d be upset if I died, that he wasn’t really asleep.  But for now, he told me he’d been dreaming it.

That night, as we lay between the sheets of the pulled-out sofa bed, Phil and I started kissing.  We both got really turned on, and I thought I was going to give up my virginity only two weeks into a relationship–but didn’t care.  Finally, Phil said we had to stop.  He was right, of course, and I am glad that he stopped us from doing such an awful thing.  I’m glad for two main reasons: one, it was sin, and two, it would have been very disrespectful to Maura, who would possibly have wanted both to burn the sheets and to wring our necks for doing this with Taylor in the house.

The next morning, we got a call: Phil’s parents.  They said that somebody in the Roanoke Singers had called their house to give him a wakeup call, but he wasn’t there.  They thought Phil knew about it, and would be coming home soon to shower; they called when he didn’t show up there.  There was a concert that morning, and he was going to be late to it, but it had totally slipped his mind.

When we spoke of the weekend and when we’d leave Maura and Taylor’s house and how I’d get back to Roanoke and all that, this concert never entered the equation.  I didn’t know about it, of course, and I don’t know how he forgot about it.

But now I was stuck at Maura and Taylor’s house, and Phil was in trouble with the choir director, since the Singers group ended up leaving him behind to go to the church they were to sing at.  Phil came back again later that morning or in the early afternoon, told me what happened, and took me back to Roanoke.  He felt awful about it.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Featured post

Gaslighting

I’ve noticed quite a bit of hits from keywords referring to abuse.  This is, unfortunately, a common problem, and people need to find help.  There are also many hits from keywords referring to narcissistic or borderline personality disorders, disorders which often lead to abusive behaviors.  So I will make a series of posts from my webpage on abuse, which gathers together links I have found most helpful.  I have them arranged by category.  The first part is on the general topic of abuse.  The last section of the webpage, my own personal abuse stories, has already been posted here.

As I revise and sticky old posts on abuse, I realize: Now it’s about the writing

For weeks or maybe months, I’ve been revising old posts and sticking them to the front page, to bring them to the attention of my readers.  This is essential because my website and blog have been around for years, and have gone through a few format changes.  So there are hundreds of posts and pages, on various subjects, but the older ones are full of formatting issues.  Also, in the “olden” days I tended to write super-long paragraphs, which needed splitting for online readers.  A screen is not like a book….

I don’t have 16 hours a day to spend fixing the formatting, so instead I can do it one post/page at a time.  Slowly but surely, my pages and posts are looking sleek, with lots of white space, no weird formatting, and updated links.

And in the meantime, as I revise two- and three-year-old posts on the Richard/Tracy abuse story and their subsequent stalking of me, I notice something:

I don’t feel that way anymore.  I don’t connect with the grief-filled posts, except in memory.  Even the anger has tempered somewhat.  I have no fear of Richard and Tracy.  It’s just a reminder of how I once felt.

It’s amazing how far I’ve come since those posts were written.  And I can thank blogging for that.  It really does help heal.

So the reason for revising and reposting them, is all about the writing now.  It’s about polishing up the posts to make them more readable, and increasing their visibility through links to other blogs.  Because out there are thousands of people in the same spot I was two years ago, or three years ago, looking for stories like mine to help them along the way.

Perseverating on the abuse and feeling like I can’t move on, is in the past now.  It’s moving forward–but with all sorts of back-material which can still help many readers.  And I see them coming in all the time, along with the occasional subscriber.

 

 

Goewin the Bard

text and pictures copyright 1995 

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At the time of Beltane, near dusk, Goewin, daughter of Duncan, a young bard, sat on a tree stump to play her flute.  She was a fair maiden with golden hair and sky-blue eyes, and driven to play music on her whistle.  But, though certainly not destined to be a king, she had been given a personal geas by a druid, the seer who foretold her musical ability when she was born: She was not to play any song that would make herself cry.  Because of this, she was known throughout the land for her cheerful music and jigs, and never played sad songs.  (A geas is a taboo; breaking it brings death or dishonor.)

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“Brigit, give me a poem,” she said on this day of Beltane, “something to play my music to.”  Brigit was patron to poets.  Words began to flow from her mouth:

I saw my love on the field,
Newly back from war;
His sword shining in the sun,
His helmet gleaming,
Three heads hanging from his horse.

“Where is my brother Cadwallader?” he said
As he alighted from his horse.
I said, “He went to a feast
An hour past the time,
And therefore lost his head.

“There was great rejoicing when he died.
Whether rejoicing from the mead or dislike,
I do not know!”–”No matter,” said my love;
The land is better for his loss!”

–And there Goewin stopped.  She couldn’t think of how to go on, so she decided to wander around the fields and wait for inspiration.  In a wood, she saw a small shape flitting around.  Curiosity overcame her, and she followed it to discover what it was.

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The shape disappeared near a fairy mound.  Goewin had never seen such a mound before.  She’d heard about them, but with her mind so full of her poem, she didn’t recognize what this was.

A blackbird flew over and perched atop the sidhe (fairy mound).  Goewin said to it, “Is this mound meant to give me my song?”  It began to sing, which she took as a sign.  She sat beside the bird, which didn’t fly away, and began to play and to work on her song.

As she played, a beautiful, tiny young woman appeared before her.  She had slanted eyebrows and eyes, eyes of blue-green, a pointy nose and a small mouth.  Her hair hung in red-gold spirals.  A golden torque was around her neck, and her dress looked as if it was made of silken leaves.

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“Your music is enchanting,” she said, “and light and cheerful.  We have heard it within the sidhe.”

“Within the sidhe?” Goewin cried, finally recognizing the fairy mound.  Then hands reached from behind her and grabbed her.  The fairies carried her off and into the sidhe–their home.

So Goewin entered part of the glorious realms of the Otherworld.  At first she was frightened, but the fairies made her feel at home.  Elva, the beautiful elf with the red-gold hair, being the daughter of the king of the elves, gave her the title of chief bard to the fairies.  Goewin played for them as they desired; her happy and beautiful songs delighted them.  They had her play as often as she could without getting a sore throat or a light head, and nursed her throat so she could sing for them as well.

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Goewin found her home to be the sidhe.  Here was a place more wondrous than she’d ever imagined.  The sidhe looked so small from the outside, but within it was the kingdom of Elva’s father, Aubrey.  Goewin composed more lyrics within the sidhe:

An honor ’tis to be bard to the elves,
Fed by fairies, nursed by nixies.
Wander the world and you won’t find
The wonders of the Otherworld.

Birds of all types, birds with purple feathers, peacocks–
They flit here and there and sing with my flute.
Gold houses and a copper castle,
Green, fertile fields that know no blight.

No sweeter music is ever heard than this of the birds;
No sweeter song than the ones the gate-tree hums to you.
Tree of glass, topped with green glass leaves,
Gives you shade from a sun of gold.

And at night, a silver moon shines.
It shines on the doors of lapis lazuli
At the east, the west, the north and the south.
It shines on fairy feasts and dancing.

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I go to a feast, with tables laid
With wine, pork, mutton and bread.
The elves cover me with silken, leaf dresses, yellow and blue and red;
They give me jeweled torques with gold and red gold, laurels for my head, a gold branch for my hand.

As I play, the elves dance in rings in the fields,
Little lights leaping in the moonlight.
May Day every day
That they choose.

An elfin poet named Brí, son of the chieftain Bran, soon caught Goewin’s eye–a goodly youth with hair like flax and eyes of sea green, a long nose, and muscular arms; tall for an elf, but not gawky.  His eye was keen like that of the eagle that perched on his shoulder, little Craig as he called it.  Brí wore a leaf tunic, leather shoes and a magnificent tuigen (poet’s mantle)–the lower part made of swan skins, the neck of a swan hanging down from the collar and down the back.  In his hand he carried a gold branch.

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Though Goewin’s own tuigen was made all of swan and her dress was made of the finest silk leaves, this tuigen made her eyes widen.  Here was a chief poet, worthy of her; whenever she saw him, her songs turned to love ballads.  She hoped to work a kind of love charm on him through her music.

One day, Goewin saw Elva gaze after Brí when he passed by, and heard a sigh that showed she loved him, too.  Goewin knew it would be risky to compete with Elva, but she had never seen so worthy a youth as Brí.  She would fight for him, even with the daughter of the king of the elves.

Elva soon realized she had a rival, and that her rival was preferred.  This enraged her.  One evening at a feast, as Goewin played and the fairies danced, Goewin began singing a love song.  It described Brí, though it did not name him.  Brí recognized himself in it, and danced over to her.  After the song, he kissed her.

Elva leaped from her purple glass chair, rage in her eyes, and said, “I invite you to my father’s kingdom, and this is how you repay me?  You steal the man I wanted to make my husband!”

“No one, mortal or fairy, will do such a thing to my daughter,” King Aubrey said.

“Banish her forever from the sidhe, father!” Elva said.

“So I shall.”

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He called over a black horse, which carried Goewin out of the sidhe and dropped her onto the ground.  She began to sob when she saw the horse disappear into the mound, and the entrance hide itself from her.  Her silken clothes turned to the frock she’d worn before entering the sidhe.  Her head and throat ached with tears.

She found her way back home, and discovered that what had been months to her, were centuries to her people.  Her family and friends had long since died and turned to dust.  She ran back to the mound, all alone in the world, separate from Brí and even from the world of the sidhe.

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She calmed herself and sat top the mound as she had once before, and began to play her flute.  She hoped to comfort herself with music, but played along with her grief, until she began to play a melancholy melody.  She composed lyrics for it in her mind:

Gone, gone, all are gone;
All my life has gone with them.
My family’s gone, all from the earth;
I can look, but never find them.
I’ve seen their tombs.  My house is crumbled.
The people have all forgotten me.
Goewin daughter of Duncan, who is she? they say.
My cheerful, charming melodies have not survived.
I am the chief poet of the elves!
Or I was.  And my songs have gone with the wind to the Cailleach.

Oh, the agony of being forgotten as if I’d never been.
The elven world is closed to me–
My love is exiled from me.
No more shall I play for the elves–
For the fairies who loved me,
For palaces of purple glass,
For trees that hum my tunes.
I’ll die before a day is gone for them,
And I’ll be gone–gone–forgotten
By the elves I made happy–

And here a tear fell from Goewin’s eye.

Thus Goewin daughter of Duncan broke her geas, and died.

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Her body lay over the mound, and Brí carried it off to bury it.  Elva felt terrible about her death, and allowed the fairies of the sidhe to mourn for her.  In time, Brí forgave her because of her abject heart, and after a year they married.

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Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull–January 1995, Part 2

Sharon wrote in the Journal,

Nyssa, answering your inquiry about how I used to see you.  For a long time you were very quiet and never said anything.  You sat with all of us at meals but you never joined in the conversations.  We didn’t really know you.  You were a part of the group, but you were a stranger for a long time.

I asked you to room with me this year for a reason.  I didn’t know you and I could tell there was an extremely interesting person in that shy, reserved exterior.  And I was right.  You talk so much more than you used to.  You are a completely different person than I had once thought.  I love the ‘you’ that I have gotten to know this past year.  Meeting the real ‘you’ has been one of the highlights of my year :) .

I wrote,

I’m surprised you say you didn’t really know me before and that I didn’t talk much. It seemed different to me. I had long talks with you and Pearl and others, and I felt closer to you all than I did to almost everyone else. Like here were people that actually knew me. Now I’m a bit confused about the whole thing.

Sharon replied,

I didn’t mean to make you doubt yourself or the way you see yourself now or in the past. You really didn’t talk to me as much as you talked to Pearl (and Cindy when you lived in Krueger). You did talk a lot when you were with one person, but I usually saw you with the “group” and you really didn’t say much. But that’s not bad. Usually I don’t say much in the midst of a large conversation. I just can’t keep up and my mind goes blank.

****

I was the only one in the apartment with a Winterim class.  Sharon and Pearl were probably working at their work-study jobs, giving them an excuse to stay in the apartment during Winterim.  Tara had an internship, and also stayed in the apartment.

For me, the studying wasn’t at all bad, though, because I enjoyed the Celtic Roots class.  I think I often read the chapters at work in the morning.  In the afternoon, I practiced playing the tin whistle while my friends were out of the room.

Yes, studying the tin whistle was part of the class, since Dr. Bard, the teacher, played French folk music with his wife.  They even played at the campus Open Mike and at gigs around the area.

Dr. Bard, a 30ish, social science teacher with glasses, had red hair and a beard, and combed his hair down over a bald spot to look like bangs.

We had two textbooks, little paperbacks.  The Celts by Nora Chadwick was one.  The class and even the teacher agreed that this, though informative, was very dry.  Still, I found it useful when writing my novel Tojet.

We liked The Elements of The Celtic Tradition by Caitlin Matthews a lot better.  It was a fun book, going into the religion of the Celts, from pagan days to after they converted to Christianity.  She, a Druid, included exercises in the back of the book for such things as finding your totem or your destiny through meditations.  But in the rest of the book I noticed no bias for or against any religion.

Helene and Catherine had Celtic class along with me, and I would usually sit between them.  The class was held in the Honors classroom, room number 24 in Old Main.  We had a lot of fun in that class, and would talk about it afterwards.  It seemed everyone in the class had a good time.

I believe we all had to pay for our tin whistles, but once we did and Dr. Bard gave them to us, we’d practice simple songs for the first fifteen minutes of each class.  The tin whistle played like a recorder, with very little wind, which was good for me because I didn’t have enough wind in me to play anything more strenuous.  (It’s hard enough for me just to talk loud.)

When the course ended, Dr. Bard asked how many of us would continue to play our tin whistles.  Most of us raised our hands, including me.  However, though I still have the music sheets we used, along with sheets showing examples of knotwork, I haven’t played my tin whistle since 1998.

This class helped me get over Phil by giving me something fun to do that wouldn’t remind me of him, and by proving I didn’t need him to have a good life.

One day, in fact, Catherine and I and maybe Helene went to check mail in the Campus Center, as we did every day (though I, of course, couldn’t check mine there anymore).  We took out our tin whistles and practiced a particularly challenging and beautiful tune, which we learned in class that day.

The door to the Pub was across from the mailboxes, so I happened to see that Phil was in the Pub.  I hoped he’d see and hear us, that he’d realize I moved on and was now doing new and interesting things.  I wanted him surprised to see me standing there playing a tin whistle.  I wanted him to think he’d lost a talented, imaginative, and intelligent person, and would never get her back again.

We were supposed to practice our tin whistles outside of class.  One day soon after we started playing them in class, Brigitte said she was practicing hers in her dorm room one day when a girl went out into the hall and cried, “What is that?”

On probably the 18th or 19th of January, Dr. Bard taught us how to draw Celtic knotwork.  Mine wasn’t very good, but during class I began to practice.  During the lectures and while we listened to various types of modern Celtic music, I drew knotwork all over my plain Roanoke folder (which was my Winterim folder) and colored it with my yellow highlighter.

At night, I filled in the knotwork with other colors as well, using a set of markers.  I drew spirals, knotwork, snakes and torques, and I even filled in various letters and other things with the highlighter.  In the end, it was a folder to be proud of.  Of course, by then I was probably done with the course, so I used it for other things.

We sometimes listened to old- or new-fashioned Celtic music in class.  When we did, there was little else for us to do except listen.  Helene said to me once, “Dr. Bard should notice how uncomfortable people get during the music, and maybe play it in the background while we’re doing other things.”  We liked the music, but it would be more pleasant to listen to it that way.

At least several people in the class were Christians like us.  One girl, however, was vehemently anti-Christian.  She was bad-tempered and seemed to like nothing better than to sit there and rip on Christians.  She spoke of a Christian couple who used to live next door to her when she was a child, and treated her awfully.  We Christians wondered what they had done to her, and wished she’d realize that one couple did not represent all Christians or Christianity.  When a group of Wiccans spoke to the class, she was intrigued and asked many questions.  But religion should not be about running away from or rebelling against another religion.  It should be about true beliefs.

We learned about the head-cult of the Celts, that they displayed the heads of defeated enemies and sometimes even drank out of their skulls.  Dr. Bard also told us that the one who came late to a revel (or meeting?) got his head chopped off.  I looked at Catherine, and we joked that if we lived back then, we would be dead before we reached age 21.  I drew a stick-figure cartoon about this: First there were the feasters, then some guy came late and got his head chopped off, and then the feasters went back to their revel.  I wish I could find it now.

On the 16th, three speakers explained to us the modern-day Wiccan religion as it relates to the Celtic nature religions.  I wasn’t sure what to think about them at first because at least one of them wore a black T-shirt and an upright pentacle on a chain around his neck.  This one also had long, dark hair, and looked to be no older than his 20s or 30s.  (I knew nothing about the pentacle other than its supposed “Satanist” associations.)  The other two were a married couple, not yet middle-aged, who were Christian Wiccan.  Dr. Bard had invited them.  (I have no idea what Dr. Bard’s religious beliefs were, by the way.)

(For the truth about the pentacle and pentagram, click here.)

They gave fascinating information about Neo-Pagans and their beliefs, and how Celtic nature religions fit into the Middle Ages.  The class took notes.  The speakers said the Church Christianized certain holidays to help keep new, formerly pagan converts from turning back to their old ways.

Now, since then, I’ve heard various theories about why holidays and pagan deities were Christianized.  This is one; another is that the pagans-turned-Christians themselves made deities into saints and pagan holidays into Christian ones because they didn’t want to give up their beliefs.  Another view is that the Christian missionaries were wise and adaptable in incorporating the local festivals rather than just forbidding them.  And, of course, a view you commonly hear is that the Christian church just wanted to steal everybody else’s religious practices.  I reject that view wholeheartedly.

The speakers said some Wiccans, like them, actually believe in both Christianity and Wicca, and are called Christian Wiccans.  They also explained some of the magic they use, that it’s a science, that it isn’t always so much casting a spell as it is positive thinking and changing yourself to get what you want, just as a businessperson might wear power suits to be more successful.  They also explained other kinds of magic that actually used spells and the powers of creation.  They said love spells weren’t charms, but learning how to change yourself and your traits to be more attractive to the person you love, so he/she will want to date you.

One of the traditional students, a girl, her religion unknown to me, said, “But if you have to change yourself to be more attractive to this person, aren’t you better off finding someone else who appreciates you the way you are?”  She was right, of course, though I don’t remember what, if anything, the speakers said in reply.

One day, on Catherine’s request, a friend of hers from the SCA, Ayesha, came to speak to the class.  (I can use her name because she has long since passed away.)  She was about 35, with short, dark hair.

I’d just heard about the SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronisms, a medieval re-creation group, over Christmas.  A couple met in the South Bend SCA group, then the Shire of White Waters, and had an SCA wedding ceremony.  The South Bend Tribune ran an article about it.  I thought the SCA sounded neat.

Though my friends apparently knew all along, I had no idea that Catherine used to go to SCA meetings when we were freshmen.  Ayesha was a member of the Catherine’s group, which I later discovered was a certain shire, based in S– and M–.

After Ayesha spoke to the class, I went with Catherine as she helped Ayesha take her speech props back to her car in the Jubilee parking lot.  They tried to talk me into joining the SCA, and I thought about giving it a shot.

Catherine told me there were “hot guys in the SCA, and they love to flirt with you.”  This attracted me: Now that several months had passed since the breakup, the Vampire train had derailed, and neither of my crushes were interested, I felt ready to find a new man or two.

She said the meetings would suit me because they were always late and laid-back.  They’d go on for hours, constantly getting sidetracked, and then someone would say, “Hey, isn’t Star Trek:TNG on?” and turn it on.  (She hadn’t been to a meeting for some time, so neither of us knew they’d become more businesslike and boring.)  These SCA people were also like Catherine and loved to hug.

I wrote a story for my presentation, which was in place of a final.  I sat down with paper and my Iona (Christian Celtic) tapes, made a list of Celtic names I found, and wrote a story about a girl named Gwyn Duncan.  I thought Gwyn was a girl’s name, but later found out it was probably male.  The story was short and simple, with a few sets of lyrics and a typically Celtic, unhappy ending.  It was about a girl taken by the sidhe, or fairies.  It took a few hours to finish, and once started and put into a Celtic mood by Iona, I didn’t want to break the spell for anything.

Here it is, including my pictures.

I later revised the story, typed it up, and decorated it with various Celtic-style pictures.  I read it in class on the 27th.  As I read, I tried to forget myself and just read, because if I remembered I was reading in front of a classroom full of students I’d get nervous and self-conscious.

When I finished I passed it around before giving it to the teacher, so everyone could see the pictures.  I didn’t know what people would think of my story, and feared they’d think it was stupid, but this wasn’t the case at all.  Dr. Bard liked it and gave me 50 points out of 50, along with this note: “A good story integrating much Celtic terminology and imagery.  I enjoyed reading it.  Good work!”

Helene complimented me on it and its simplicity, though she didn’t like Bri marrying Elva at the end.  I think one reason for the sad ending was my own cynicism about love at the time.  Another reason was to make it seem more Celtic, since Celtic stories were typically depressing.

I’ve made a few minor changes: Gwyn Duncan became Goewin daughter of Duncan, the tin whistle became a flute–basically, grammar fixes and things which fit better historically.  I also added short definitions, since the story was originally written for a class familiar with the Celtic terms.

One of the non-trad women in the class made a variety of Celtic foods for her presentation.  She feared she hadn’t made them right, but I told her they were delicious.  There were different types of breads, including one that was called barmbrak or something like that, and there may have been other kinds of food as well.

Remember the girl who detested Christians?  She did a Celtic pre-battle ritual.  She even passed around a real, human skull full of sparkling grape juice.  She said it was clean, but I passed it on without drinking from it.  Ewww!  Catherine and Helene also took a pass.  But Dr. Bard took a big swig.

Brigitte did her presentation on her clan’s history (she had a Scottish last name).  She discovered that it was related to Kenneth MacAlpine.  After class I told her we were probably related, because my own ancestry goes back to MacAlpine through Duncan I.

Some people said Brigitte had a crush on James, whom she knew from Circle K.  James was sure popular that year!  He wasn’t a handsome stud, either, so you can’t blame it on that.  Some men don’t have to be handsome to be desirable.  I heard that she was amusingly obvious about her crush, and asked James to take her places all the time.  She succeeded, and the latest Roanoke alumni book shows that James married her and moved to Green Bay.

Dr. Bard showed us beautiful medallions his mother made, which were painted with figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from the Book of Kells.  They had metal loops at the back so they could be strung onto necklaces.  He told us we could buy them for about $3 (if I remember correctly).  I couldn’t get mine until at least Wednesday, February 15, after Winterim was already over, and he was afraid I would never buy it, but I was just in time to get the St. John.  I chose that one because I liked the eagle, and it was the prettiest.  Catherine bought the St. Mark.  (Anyone who knows us personally knows why this is ironic and funny.)

I strung the medallion on a spare chain.  Maybe it belonged to one of my old watches, or maybe it was a chain my Irish penpal sent me for Christmas 1991.  Later, Cugan cut me a leather thong for it instead, making it more “period” for SCA events.  (More about him later.)

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

 

When our abusers get honored: Dang newspaper tells me about my abusers

Recently, the newspaper told me Tracy graduated college, and her major.  I’ve also seen her back in town recently, right in the same parking lot I pulled into.  From various IPs linked conclusively to them, It looks like one of them has been in town this whole past year, even while she went to college on the other side of the state–even though her IP location came from a city near the college for much of the year.

Her main IP address is screwy, because the locations keep changing even though the IP does not.  Sometimes she’s in Eau Claire, or Madison, or Rochester MN….And now the same IP shows up as Fond du Lac, then Madison, then Fond du Lac, then Madison…. Other local IPs from that ISP, including mine, always show as Fond du Lac.  She recently used one other IP that showed Missouri, but it was identified by my stat trackers as her cell phone–and she used that same phone on my blog a short time later, from Fond du Lac.  And sometimes I get hits from Texas, someone who has used Richard and Tracy’s unique search terms.  I have no clue what’s going on.  All I know is that now she’s graduated and was in Fond du Lac again back in June.

I’ve heard of people leaving town to get away from their abusers, but that’s not possible here: We own this house, and were in this town long before they were.

The other day, I open up the newspaper and it tells me that Tracy got some kind of honor at her college.  A couple of years ago, it said she was in an honor society of some kind.  I did not want to see that.  She does not deserve honors after the way she has treated so many people over the years.  But unfortunately, academic-based honors often have little to do with the kind of person you are, and are based solely on grade point averages, so even sociopaths and various forms of abusers can get degrees and honors.

Abuse victims want justice.  We don’t want our abusers getting accolades.  Just ask the daughter of Woody Allen what that’s like:

After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime.

That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.

That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away.

But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Just ask any girl who’s been raped in college, but her abuser went on to get a degree.  Even a degree seems too good for our abusers.  This does actually happen, as a victim’s concerns are minimized and the rapist is allowed to graduate:

Woman is accused by college of harassing her rapist

A graduating senior at Central College who was found responsible for “non-consensual sex” with a fellow student was given a choice: be expelled a month before graduation or stay in school with the conditions that he not walk in the ceremony and allow the college to notify a future employer and other schools that he’d violated the code of conduct….

A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that students deemed “responsible” for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down. –Lee Rood, Central College lets rape suspect select punishment

 

Scott is a graduating senior, so some people may wonder why I care anymore. He’ll be gone soon enough, so what if the school didn’t do anything? When he was first found responsible, I was told that the purpose of these sanctions was to help him learn from this. It is clear to me he hasn’t learned anything, and that scares me. When he gets his diploma, he will officially be a representative of what Macalester stands for, and I fear that he will represent my school as a place that protects rapists at the expense of the people they victimize.

If I return to Macalester for my senior year in the fall and get my diploma next year, I will also be representative of Macalester. For better or worse, I will be tied to Scott forever. I will also be tied to what I see as a pattern of survivors of sexual assault who are forced to watch their school choose to protect the future of criminals over their own safety. My fear is that if I stay, I will become a silent accomplice to rape. Not just to my own rape, but to the future people I believe Scott will victimize. –Anna Binkovitz, Sharing a degree with your rapist

Just finding out that my ex Phil is a math teacher or professor, makes me cringe.  Him, molding young minds?  The guy who psychologically abused me and even tried to sexually assault me several times?  And of course, to be a math teacher, he had to get a couple of degrees.  Years ago, I told people I hoped he would become a monk, so he could not hurt more women or, as a priest, advise married couples.  Instead, he went on to marry, have two kids, and get divorced, making me wonder how that woman and her children have been abused.

My bullies, Richard and Tracy, denied the truth of what I wrote in this blog about their many abuses of me and others.  I had already told Social Services about the abuse in their home.  They threatened to sue, and began to stalk me at church for a while, then by keeping tabs on my blog.  And that’s despite the fact–or maybe because–Richard had been convicted of choking one of his kids, proving I wrote the truth.  I kept my blog up despite all the hell they put me through, because the truth needed to be told.  I told my friends and family about it, too.

The Forum we all used to belong to, was convinced of my credibility when they saw the facts of Richard’s case on the state’s and newspaper’s websites.  Yet still Richard and Tracy imagined they could somehow threaten and scare me into believing I was a liar.  Apparently they were the only ones who did not see Richard’s conviction as proof I was telling the truth about domestic violence in their household.

Yet I opened up the paper yesterday and read that Tracy had received some sort of honor at college this past school year.  I previously learned that Richard, while convicted, plea-bargained and got merely a fine and year’s probation.  So he’s out walking free despite nearly killing a 9-year-old girl, and I still see the kids with them both despite Tracy’s verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse, despite my detailed report describing how Tracy had been tormenting the children and exposing them to her domestic violence against Richard.

I want these people in jail for abusing their kids and terrorizing me.  I want Richard to have gotten the sentence he deserved: many years in prison, which he would’ve received if he hadn’t plea-bargained.  I want Tracy put in jail for punching Richard.  I want them to either shape up or get their kids put with better parents.  I want them to apologize to me on their knees.  I do NOT want them moving on with life, getting honors, manipulating and abusing other people, being told how wonderful they are, continuing to physically abuse and psychologically torture and scar their children.  (They have hurt a lot of other people besides me.)

One consolation is, while Richard wanted to become an Orthodox priest, my priest tells me that’s impossible because of the child abuse conviction.  And a friend who sometimes has to help hire people, was directed to screen out anyone with domestic abuse on their record, because of the nature of the job.

It boggles my mind (and my husband’s) that Tracy got a degree in business management.  HER, a MANAGER?  She can’t even manage her own household or temper!  I fear for anyone who, in the future, is put under her supervision–just as I fear for her children under her supervision.  I pray for her children’s safety nearly every day.

And I’m not the only one who has to deal with this.  I see the same frustrations, anger at the injustice of it all, permeating other abuse blogs.  For example, this one, because this woman, a PTSD sufferer, was spiritually abused by a predatory pastor, then reported him–yet now he’s been made senior pastor at a new church:

Just found out that Pastor Andrew Allison has been promoted to Singleton Baptist Church

I am really angry and I have a right to be. It is righteous anger.

Her backstory

Allison also occasionally checks up on her LinkedIn profile, which is creepy.  Yes, those of us who have been abused know how creepy it is to be “checked up on” by our abusers!  I get “checked up on” every week or so by mine!  Keeping my blog up has required a lot of courage, and has earned me a strength I did not have before.

Then there’s Alex Grenier, who has spread the word about his father’s severe physical and sexual abuses, yet Bob Grenier continues in his Calvary Chapel position.

This kind of thing happens in our churches, and it should not.  It’s not just a Catholic problem.

It’s also not just a Christian problem:

Narrow Bridge, movie addressing problem of Jewish leaders who are predators

Hopefully the more we spread awareness of these things, through our blogs or other means, the more things will begin to change.  Already there is an outcry about abusive pastors going on to other churches, or keeping their current posts.  Abuse victims of all kinds are spreading the word that this evil exists, so that hopefully society can begin to stamp it out.  “Narcissist” is becoming a household word, and Cluster B (abusive) personality disorders are becoming better-known.

Talk hard!

 

 

Blog Recommendation: Why are women so mean to each other?

This has been helpful in dealing with and trying to understand female bullies/malignant narcissists/sociopaths like Tracy and the “Avenger“:

Why are women so mean to each other?

This blogger also writes about dealing with bullies in the church:

How to handle church bullies

 

Reblog: Wisconsin Soapbox on Common Core State Standards

More on Common-Core State Standards

Joe Liebham Scrambling Again–This Time on Education

Really, We’re Going to Have This Fight AGAIN? Gov. Walker Now Calls For CCSS Repeal

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Common Core, such as that it’s a government takeover, Obama was involved, some weird paranoid crap about biometric screening….This writer goes into what the facts are, vs. the scare-tactics used by extreme right-wingers, such as the Tea Party.

 

 

Wondering just how many of Richard’s stories were lies….

Sometimes narcissists tell you all sorts of stories to make you think they’re the most interesting person in the world.  But a little digging proves them to be false, or taken from other people’s lives.

I have spent the last 6 years combing the Net for verification of Richard’s wild stories about his past.  (Yes, even while we were still friends, I doubted them.)  If they are true, they would reveal corruption in high places.  But if they are false, they would have been meant to make himself look more awesome in my eyes while brainwashing me into becoming anti-liberal.  Because after all, liberal presidents were doing horrible things while conservatives fixed them.

And, well, it provides some amusement when I’m bored.

Doubtful story #1: That his brother invented a car which runs completely without gas, which was about to be introduced publicly with the help of Bono, but Al Gore blocked it.  But for years I have searched the Net and found absolutely nothing to support this.  Rather, I discovered that such cars have been in development for decades, publicly–and without Al Gore blocking them.  Also doubtful because his brother supposedly would have a large salary because of this, but when Richard needed a large sum of money, I asked why his brother didn’t give it to him–and he said he didn’t have that salary yet.  This was two years after he told me his brother had been offered this salary.  This is one of the reasons I now highly suspect Richard of running a con job on my husband and me.

Doubtful story #2: That Obama changed policies dealing with a certain tribal group that plundered its wealth.  But research I uncovered told a different story in a tribal newspaper, that Obama had resolved this issue some time ago, to the tribe’s satisfaction.  I don’t go into more detail here, to hide identities, so sorry if this is too vague.  Also, apparently some tribal members were getting jailed for speaking out about this.  This violates human rights if true, but is it true?

Doubtful story #3: That Clinton signed an executive order that Border Patrol guards were to shoot illegally crossing immigrants on sight, but Bush rescinded it.  I have combed the Net for years, especially recently as some Border Patrol controversies have hit the news.  I discovered that yes, Border guards have indeed been doing all sorts of illegal acts, such as shooting people without justification.  But this has been an ongoing problem for decades, NOT starting with Clinton, NOR ending with Bush.  And I found absolutely no evidence of Clinton issuing such an order.

On the contrary, organizations such as Amnesty International have been quite vocal for years about any sort of mistreatment of illegals by border guards, and I think they would’ve been able to uncover if such an order justified the guards’ behavior.  Rather, the Border Patrol is often criticized because these actions are NOT legal and they are not being properly screened/trained/disciplined.  There are even people (usually the more radical right-wingers) who say the Border Patrol is hindered because it never has been allowed to shoot on sight, but should be.  A certain story which Richard told me, must have led to an outcry from somebody, a disciplinary process, a report to Amnesty, something, because everything I find says that he was NOT allowed to do that.  So yes, some border guards do these things, but not with the president’s permission.

 

This is the most frustrating part of his stories: the lack of a means to verify them.  Some I can toss aside as some fanciful BS he told me to see how gullible I was, such as that story about the sweat lodge…. (I won’t go into detail, but he knows what I mean.)  And I can chuckle at the very idea that he would be somehow connected to, or have stories about, every single interesting person/activity on this planet.

Let’s see…he knows ghost hunters with pictures that prove ghosts/chupacabra…AND knives were thrown at his ghost-hunting party by a spirit…AND he was related to an guy in the Freemasons who could prove their link to the Illuminati…AND made a successful movie…AND wrote a movie that was nearly made by a huge director but Richard never got around to a rewrite…AND gave ideas to a friend who turned it into a popular movie, but conveniently kept Richard’s name out of the credits…AND knew practically everybody in Hollywood…AND was personally addressed by a demon during an exorcism…AND some guy sicced demons on him when he was a kid….

I can just figure he was either lying or taking stories of other people’s lives, because these stories strain credibility and I have no one to confirm or deny them.  The people he grew up with, are thousands of miles away from me.

Some stories I can verify through Todd, who either witnessed them himself, or Richard told Todd these things as well.  This is why I am reasonably confident that Richard was indeed in the Mafia and was once a preacher–and that his previous residence was far worse than I ever saw.  Some other stories I can reasonably believe because of things Todd and I both witnessed, ie, that Tracy’s abuses got far worse than what I ever saw, and that she and Richard have domestic disputes.

I don’t know what to make of his hypnotism claims.  Was he just putting me on, or did he really do this?  Or was he like my ex Peter, truly believing in his ESP abilities, but that doesn’t mean he really could do this?

But the above stories have more sinister implications about the government, and would be easier to confirm or deny through news organizations or blogs, and that drives me to keep searching.  SOMEBODY out there should know if they’re true or not, without having to be connected with Richard.

If anybody has concrete evidence about these things, I would love to see it.  No, it won’t turn me conservative, because my liberal ideals are based on my system of morals and much research.  It’s more for curiosity.  And no, I won’t approve political rants.

More on narcissists and their personas.