On February 10, 2008, I wrote an e-mail to my mother that said Richard told me they patched things up.  I wrote,

I had trouble with Tracy because I’d hear her pick at Richard and yell at him when he was trying not to argue; if she’s not doing that anymore, then a major barrier to our potential friendship is removed.

Unfortunately, this honeymoon period didn’t last, and I later witnessed her doing stuff like this at him and the kids again.

Tracy poked fun at anything I did or said, in real life or on Facebook.  Jabs from Richard and Tracy kept adding up over time and driving me crazy.

Richard told me I didn’t feed my family right because I didn’t do it like they did.  He got upset with me for being happy when a citywide controversy with a local business was resolved a way that I wanted but he didn’t.

He jabbed at me for bringing Kleenex to their house (I have always, always had a bundle of Kleenex in my coat pocket wherever I go, just like in the olden days people carried handkerchiefs).

He and Tracy criticized so many things I did that in 2010, I complained to Jeff that everything I did, said or thought was “wrong” somehow.

I kept in touch and tried to deal with things as well as I could online, but sometimes the chats led to their own misunderstandings and disagreements.  Especially when I’d see a ping from him and think, oh cool, Richard wants to talk to me–but he’d start ripping on me for having a different political opinion.

Or he’d make some personal remark late at night and out of the blue that I thought was unfair, but get upset that I wanted to talk this over and get it resolved right away.  Then I’d have trouble sleeping because it wasn’t resolved.

It was harder than heck to get him on the phone: Either Tracy answered and said he was in the middle of something and he’d call later, but he never did, or nobody would answer/return my calls.  That made me think she told him not to call, though he later told me that was not the case.

I kept telling him we needed to get together and talk about things in person.  I told him our issues were not getting properly resolved because we didn’t do this.

But it fell on deaf ears, and I was stuck with e-mail and the occasional phone call, which was not as effective–especially when Tracy was nearby, or he scolded kids every two minutes.

We were eventually “allowed” to get together and talk if he brought the kids along, but it was hard to get him to even do that.  You’d think he’d come over more often, since at my place the kids had room to roam inside and out that they didn’t have at home, and a playmate, my son.  And my son and Richard’s kids kept wanting to play with each other more often.

I have described the snotty comments Tracy made while living with us.  But there were even more after she moved out.

For example, one day, the eldest child saw Ronald Reagan on TV.  I told her I watched on a TV in my classroom as Reagan first went into the White House in 1981.  I was excited to share this with her, and had so much to tell her.

But as I began the story–Tracy suddenly snarked that I was really showing my age.  (She’s almost a decade younger than Richard and me.)

I was only about 36 years old!  Hardly ready for a cane and the nursing home just yet!

In shock and indignation at her rudeness, I could not say another word.  But, of course, since people say you’re supposed to ignore the bully to get her to stop, that responding will only feed the troll, I ignored her.

How amazing that they kept accusing me of rudeness, when I was polite to her but she was constantly rude to me!

I thought we had settled things: I believe this was in 2009, after Richard and I had a long phone chat that (I thought) sorted everything out.  But here she was being mean again.

Did Richard ever notice any of this?  He knew she insulted me several times on the phone while I was nearby, loud enough for me to hear.  Why did he act so surprised that I held her at arm’s length?

They basically told a sheep to befriend a wolf or the wolf would eat her up, wondered why the sheep was nervous around the wolf, and then blamed the sheep when the wolf devoured her.

In I think 2009, Richard asked me to please please help with a problem his wife had, by finding and sending any links I could find on it.  He said I had an amazing ability of finding things on the Net.

I did as he asked, and stayed up late that night, giving myself mouse-cramp from all the Googling and clipping/pasting of links.  I did this to please her.

But it made her furious.

She convinced him that he did an awful thing by having his friend send her links.  The next day, when he picked up my son for school, he asked me to stop sending links.

He was very apologetic to me, because he knew he asked me to do this.

He also seemed psychologically beaten down, upset, on the verge of tears.  This tells me that her fury must have been frightening and emasculating–over something meant to help her, to make her happy.

I saw him sad and crying once before because of her.  It made me feel protective of him and angry with her.

So not only could he not do anything right, but it was passed along to me, his defender.

Shortly after this, I found a “how-to” video on Youtube, how to deal with friends going through what Tracy went through.  One of the suggestions was exactly what I did!  (If I were more clear you’d understand, but due to the personal nature of the situation, I can’t be.)

And when Jeff was in the same predicament later on, she had no problem at all telling him how to search a certain website and find links etc., giving him all this information.  He found this hypocritical.

I’m talking about the kind of sensitivity we call “walking on eggshells” which describes how people act when they never know what will set that person off.

Which means that offense is taken where a reasonable person would never even think to get offended over such things.

Narcissists often pretend to be offended in order to steer the behaviors of those around them to suit their purposes. It is a manipulation tactic to constantly be looking for reasons to be offended as the narcissist does. –Anna Valerious, Do They Have Feelings?

Other examples of perverted behavior are:
–reacting with anger to what should please (such as finding some mysterious offense in an attempt to suck up)
–getting angrier in reaction to what should appease (Narcissistic Rage)

In short, whenever you see a backwards reaction to something, believe your eyes and ears. Accept this behavior’s perplexity and know what you know — that there is something seriously wrong with that person. And don’t forget about it tomorrow when he’s Dr. Jekyll again.

Are you in a relationship with someone who has made you want to pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming? Have you often found yourself confused, afraid, and distressed at this person’s inexplicable backwards reactions to things?

Please, please see this for the red flag this is and get the hell away from them. Carefully. Don’t threaten to leave. Just leave. Plan your escape and run away! Change your name if necessary. Seek a shelter if you know this person is unlikely to let you just leave. –Anna Valerious, The Reddest Red Flag of Narcissism

Another time, in 2010 I believe, somebody asked my height.  I answered the question the way I usually did: “5’4 and three quarters.”  To me, just a simple answer to a question.  But Tracy said, “Only little kids use fractions of an inch.  Are you insecure about being short?”

HUH????  My mother uses fractions of an inch all the time when giving her height!  In fact, if you say she’s 5’1, she gets indignant and says, “5’1 and three quarters!”  My mother is not at all childish.

When I told Jeff about this in 2011, he said, “Tracy just had it in for you, didn’t she?”

Tracy snarked at or got highly offended by things that Jeff either supported or shrugged at.  So he stuck up for me whenever he could.  He kept getting upset at her barbs or jealousies.

But you shouldn’t have friends who treat you so badly that your husband needs to stick up for you!  Several times over the course of that “friendship,” I researched “toxic friends” on the Internet.  (“Frenemy” is a good word.)

By the way, he is not a “yes man”: He tried to get me to see Tracy’s point of view in many things.  I respected that he didn’t just say what I wanted to hear.  (Of course, later on he discovered my powers of observation were greater than his, and told me wished he had listened.)

I suspected that saying what the other person wanted to hear, on the part of Richard and Tracy, was sabotaging our friendship, because they didn’t even consider my point of view.

Sometimes I’d discuss an issue with Richard (always on the phone) and then try to explain Tracy’s point of view to Jeff, but Jeff would still be upset with both of them.  So when Jeff got upset at Tracy, I knew it was genuine, not just keeping his wife happy.

The snarking really stepped up in spring 2010; more on that later, and how Jeff defended me.

More on this subject in the next section.

Why did I stay in this friendship?  Because Richard didn’t always act like this, and many times acted like he still cared about me.  If not for him, I’d have nothing more to do with Tracy.

His criticisms didn’t come as often as hers; I thought he was well-meaning, but flaky and know-it-all.  Many times, we had fun online or sharing videos or chatting while the kids played.

Just like any abusive relationship, if it were bad all the time, you’d flee at the first opportunity.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing