Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
Part 15: Richard gives me the fateful hugs good-bye
The rest of the family had gone to their new apartment, while Richard finished packing the car. Before he left, Richard gave me three bearhugs–hugs which I took as being in friendship, in gratitude, in platonic love and caring, as a huge “thank you for all you’ve done for my family.”
Jeff was there in the house during the first two. The last was right out in the open, by the garage. The line of garages faces the front doors and windows of our condo building. I saw my husband in the kitchen, and thought for sure he saw us through the kitchen window. There was a streetlight nearby.
The neighbors could easily see us, yet I did not fear what they thought, because we did nothing wrong or inappropriate. I think I even told my mother about these hugs. Hugs just like the ones he gave me good-night numerous times while he lived here alone.
But he had reassured me his actions were all in platonic friendship, so that’s how I took these hugs the day he moved out. They were sweet, special, and treasured in my heart.
One day, I saw him give the exact same hug to one of his little daughters. She was small, so he cuddled her in his lap, which, of course, he never would’ve done to me. But he gave her a long bearhug and nuzzled the top of her head.
It was cute and sweet–and the proof I needed that this was just a loving and affectionate kind of guy, who probably gave this exact same kind of hug to his mother, his sister, his female cousins, his platonic female friends. That it never had a hint of romantic feeling, and was totally appropriate.
(It also made me believe that he never could hurt one of these little ones. So it was a shock to learn that he later choked one of them.)
I figured this was common where he grew up, which was thousands of miles away, and supposedly a more laid-back and open culture.
(I recently read an abuse blog by a woman over there, whose male friend also gave her hugs like this. He had no romantic interest in her; the hug was for support because of her abusive marriage.)
Richard made it sound like over there, flirting is more blatant even when it’s innocent and just being playful, and people put their heads on the shoulders of their friends to go to sleep….
Also, unless you’re a pervert, you don’t do anything “romantic” with your own daughter, so those hugs he gave me, had to be perfectly innocent and appropriate.
I also have SCA friends who do things like this, while being faithful husbands. One in particular can get very huggy and nuzzly with you, but his wife is right there, laughs, and makes it clear that this is as far as it goes.
(I also just found a blog post by a girl with a platonic male best friend; he has a girlfriend, and they don’t think of each other romantically at all, but they will chat for hours, each with an arm around the other.)
So I have been in both very reserved and very open groups of friends/family. I am typically more reserved, but my friend Catherine–another very huggy, flirty and cuddly kind of person, despite being a faithful wife–has always wanted me to open up.
I see nothing wrong with it, and wanted to be more open like she is. I didn’t want to be the one with Asperger/NVLD reserve, the odd one out, because it seemed so lonely and cold in comparison to what my extroverted, “normal” friends did.
But I had no clue that Tracy would one day use these hugs as justification for a hysterical narcissistic rage episode.
I did absolutely nothing wrong here. Richard had always reassured me that hugs were okay with Tracy, and I even have an e-mail from him saying so.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with our hugs, or with my reminding him of them or remembering them fondly as a sign of our close friendship and his gratitude.
But Tracy was so entrenched in the idea that I must be destroyed at all costs, especially after I began speaking up about their child abuse in 2010 (and I must have shown obvious shock and distaste the few times she abused the kids right in front of me in 2010), that she used anything she could grab ahold of as justification to bully and verbally abuse me in May, June and July 2010.
So on July 1, 2010, she had her revenge. (More on this in chapters 7 and 8.)
She did the same thing to Todd, as I will demonstrate later, because–according to the story told to me–he once beat her (or nearly beat her) at Risk. He also preferred talking to Richard instead of to her, was wary of her. So one day in June 2008, she had her revenge by publicly humiliating and smearing him.
As I have explained above, I believe this is all because she is abusive and wants to isolate her husband from anyone who could point that out to him.
But more on that later. Back to January 16, 2008.
I was depressed not just since they moved in, but for at least two weeks after they moved out, because I got used to Richard being around all the time, and missed him dearly.
I was also distressed because of how Tracy treated people, and how she had twisted a good, pure friendship into something dirty. I could no longer listen to a couple of CD’s which I got while Richard was here alone, because those two pleasant months were now tainted with Tracy’s suspicion and abuse.
After they finally moved out, a day or two later Tracy stopped over to get something. My son saw her, thought she was moving back in, and curled up into a whimpering ball.
Coincidentally, when she stopped over, I happened to be blasting “Let Him Go” by Animotion. I had no idea she was coming, and she may have walked right in, so I found this quite ironic, considering the anti-jealousy message of that song and how badly she needed to hear it:
Let him go
Do the things he’s got to do
Give him the freedom that he needs even though it worries you.
Let him go
Have the faith that he’ll be true
It’s the only way you can be sure he’ll come back to you.
I understand your desire to keep him near
But you poison love when you mix it up with fear.
Trust yourself to be the woman that you want to be
If you both have room to grow
Then you’ll live in harmony.
For a short while after that, Richard kept bringing Tracy along when he came to visit. Jeff would be at work. I felt like they were ganging up on me, ripping on me, telling me what I should or should not be doing (potty training, meals, whatever), making fun of me, helping each other do that.
Memories of the hugs and other signs of his friendship, I held close to my heart, hoping he would do these things again, and stop joining in on Tracy’s bullying. It was a strange disconnect between how he acted while here alone, and how he ganged up on me and criticized me with Tracy around. It hurt deeply, and confused me.
When Richard was by himself (whether on the phone or online or here with his kids), I relaxed. He was pleasant and fun, or empathetic, or supportive as I dealt with religious questions, or whatever. But Tracy kept tagging along, and I hated that because of her nasty attitude and their ganging up on me.
The same thing happened online as well, with them starting to pick on me. I have often wondered if–the times I talked with just him in a chat room–his moods depended on whether she was nearby.
Even though this situation was forced on me, even though I was forced to be hostess to people we had no room for, even though I was never asked if I wanted to host them, I was accused of not being properly “welcoming.”
Looking back, Jeff and I wish we had been more assertive. Friends and family tell us we should have been more assertive, that these were freeloaders using us and only pretending to be our friends.
But we thought it our duty as Christians and friends to be obliging and let them stay instead of kicking them onto the street in the bitterly cold, snowy, northern winter.
No, we never got a thank-you from her. Ever. From him, but not from her.
–Something I read on 1/5/14 which made me go hmmmmm:
To draw you closer, the psychopath creates an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers.
They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement. Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).
Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically. They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities.
This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default.
Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love.
This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.
…The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them.
Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite.
They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.
….The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.
They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.
In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.
Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.–Torture by Triangulation
If you take away the focus here on marital relationships, and adapt it to friendship, the same thing applies. Richard’s relationship with me was a platonic friendship, but the same dynamics were at work:
The first couple of months he stayed with us, his cell constantly rang with all sorts of friends. He’d ignore them to talk with me, or answer and then say he was in the middle of a conversation, and get back to me.
He’d tell me about all the women he had to fight off–not just in his single days, but after getting married.
After this love bombing phase ended, the criticism began and I was discarded for a month. I could do nothing right, and he didn’t want to spend time with me anymore.
Then he gave me special hugs–throwing me a bone to keep me thinking that things would be as they were at first.
But after that, despite the occasional bone-throwing (kind words etc.), he kept me off-balance. Other friends constantly clamored for his time, and I became lower on the totem pole than they were.
Then a new friend, Chris, came along, and got all the attention that I used to get. They’d go out and do things, talk, etc., and I would be the one sitting at home, or abandoned at the picnic table while they went walking along the beach.
(It sure wasn’t about Richard getting less drama by spending time with a male BFF instead of female, because even though they were the same sex, now Chris’ wife caused trouble with her jealousy and controlling behavior, trying to separate them. She behaved the exact same way with Richard, as Tracy did with me!)
The last part also reminds me of mid-2010, when I could feel things were going wrong. But when I tried to discuss it with Richard, he shut me down, made me feel paranoid. He also told me his political friends were messaging him on Facebook complaining about the things I posted on his FB threads.
This article also makes me wonder how much of the whole situation was Richard manipulating me to make Tracy jealous, to keep her from leaving him. If he played each of his friends, family, spouse, the way he played me, on purpose to control us all.
I think back and remember little things he did, which individually may not mean much, but taken together make one big picture of him playing people off each other.
He did once say that being fought over gave him a big head. Another time, he deliberately skewed what I said to make Tracy jealous:
Somebody on TV used the phrase “love on.” It’s a new Evangelical phrase which sounds soooo wrong, but they’ll say, “we’ll love on you.” I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I think it’s about showering people with agape love.
I commented on how weird it sounds, and said, “I don’t say ‘love on you,’ I say ‘love you.'” Then Richard turned to Tracy and said, “She just said she loves me!” So Tracy started hissing at me.
I think it was a joke, but I’m not entirely sure. Or if she knew it was a joke.
I also remember him complaining to me privately about her jealousy over women friends, at various times over the years. He complained to me about her jealousy over another friend when she first moved into my house.
But while sitting on the couch with both of us, he’d tell her the jealousy was sexy, a compliment. Meanwhile, she drove me crazy with her jealousy toward me in my house.
He complained to me about her being mean, then in front of her would tell the kids that he married her because she’s mean.
Individually these things may not seem like much, but taken all together, they become a big picture of control and manipulation, playing people off each other to gratify his ego.
originally written 2010-2012