Articles from July 2010

I almost break off the friendship because of Tracy

In late February 2008, Richard and I exchanged a series of e-mails which led to the revelation that she fought him “tooth and nail” every time he planned to come over to my house to pick up the bags of mail and stuff I kept finding as I cleaned.

I was horrified to find that she kept telling him I “hated” her, was “biased against” her–and that she gave him so much trouble just to come pick up their own stuff.

Didn’t she want her mail?  Didn’t she want her daughters’ little doodads?  I sure wasn’t going to keep them at my house!

I was also horrified to hear him back up her complaints against me and now scold me for doing things I did not even remember ever doing.  Or for not wanting to talk to her because I was angry at her for something she had just done.

I tried to explain that they kept misunderstanding me, but he refused to listen.  I thought my BFF, with whom I had bonded, who called me the most awesome person he knew–

–would give me the benefit of the doubt, and believe in me, know that I meant no harm–

–but no, even he judged me without a trial!

I told Jeff, “I just can’t deal with that woman!”

It was so distressing that I thought I had to break off the friendship.

Jeff wanted to go over there and give Tracy a piece of his mind, but they were getting ready to go down to their previous city, and fetch their furniture and other stuff from storage.

So he planned to straighten them out after they got back.

I spent a long, miserable weekend, crying a lot, barely sleeping, thinking the friendship was unsalvageable.

Jeff tried to reassure me and comfort me by making the decision for me, saying that I wouldn’t break it off yet.

We went to an SCA event to get me out of the house.  On the way home, I spent probably the better part of an hour describing all the abuse I witnessed Tracy committing against Richard and the kids while they lived in our house, so he would know what all was going on.

I wish I had written it all down at the time.  Or maybe I did, but shredded it later.

On February 22, I wrote but never sent an e-mail to Richard:

You want me to make an attempt to get past the things that happened while you guys were all staying here.  I want to, as well, and have been doing so.

But I tried and tried and tried and kept coming up against a roadblock: that you say Tracy feels herself justified in what she does and rarely apologizes.

Well, I can offer forgiveness; I can offer civility.  I can offer apologies for hurting her feelings or offending her at any point.  I certainly never meant to.

But I must assert my rights to dignity and to choose who my friends will be.

I was deeply hurt by things that happened, and no, it’s not okay.  It will NEVER be okay if all I get for each point is, “[Tracy] was justified for (whatever reason).”  No matter how reasonable the reasons may seem to her, it doesn’t erase how the action made me feel.

If I just pretend nothing happened and everything’s okay, I will get an ulcer [I had one in high school], and inside I will be miserable physically and emotionally.  I endured years of bullying as a child and in college; I’m far too old and have come too far to allow it to happen again.

In order for me to be her friend, to even consider confidences, I MUST insist that Tracy give in some and make apologies.  Otherwise it will be nothing more than civility.

I know it can be hard to do that when you feel you’re right, but to make it in this world, a person must learn how to make apologies even when she does feel justified.

There were some things that happened with the children that bothered me, but as time went on, I noticed that they seemed to lessen.  The children were also very difficult to deal with at times, so I’ve decided to cut her slack.

So these are the things that must be apologized for if she wants to be friends and not just acquaintances:

1) Doing these things in my house: Yelling at you, picking at you, accusing you of things I knew were not true [they had nothing to do with me, by the way], using a foul word [“bullsh**”] right in front of her children and [my son].

I know this was done to you and not to me, but it was done in my house and I will not have that kind of crap going on in my house.  It never affects just the couple when there are other people around.

2) Getting angry at you for talking to me, not just around New Year’s, but still getting angry at you just for wanting to come over here and grab the stuff you left behind when you moved out!  I don’t want to hear any more about it being a “respect” thing, getting to know her first–

It was deeply offensive and insulting to be treated like crap for wanting to talk to you privately about private concerns, after all that I had done for you guys, after opening my house to her.

3) Me overhearing a phone call to her mother criticizing the menu for that week.  I made that menu in the middle of the lice treatment.

Not only were we trying to deal with shampoo and nitpicking, not only did we need groceries, but I had an unbelievable amount of laundry to do, and it had to be done all in one day so as to kill off any lice in the sheets before we went to bed that night.

The menu had to be done quickly without much thought.  Sunday by necessity HAD to be fast food.

And we couldn’t incorporate lots of produce or meals made from scratch, because that takes a lot of money, and our grocery bills were already averaging $300-$400 a week.

4) Me overhearing a phone call to you as she criticized me for having a “routine.”  That “routine” keeps the house from turning into a pigsty. That “routine” keeps the house and the laundry clean.

I have been mistress of my own house for many, many years and will do things my own way.  My mother had a “routine.”

After Richard and Tracy got back with their stuff, I told Richard one day that Jeff wanted to talk with him.  They had this talk in the bar and grill on Friday, February 29.

Jeff had calmed down somewhat.  But he still tried his best to persuade Richard that I was being misjudged and mistreated, that I was naturally shy and quiet with everyone and could not be an extrovert, that my NVLD affected my social skills, that Tracy’s treatment of me was causing me to close up with her.

He came back home and said the results were very disappointing, that Richard and Tracy thought I was making “a mountain out of a molehill,” that I should just “push myself” to be more sociable with her, that the NVLD was just a crutch.

Jeff tried, but could not get Richard to feel any empathy for me at all.  Jeff was disturbed by this lack of empathy, not just then, but in the years following.

And not just for me, but in other areas, such as Richard’s “oh well” when Jeff told him that his political ideas would cause the poor to suffer for years.  A lack of empathy is also a sign of narcissism.

Lack of empathy is one of the most striking features of people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.

“Narcissists do not consider the pain they inflict on others; nor do they give any credence to others’ perceptions,” says Dr. Les Carter in the book Enough of You, Let’s Talk About Me (p. 9).

“They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings that conflict with their own.” Do not expect them to listen, validate, understand, or support you. –Randi Kreger, Lack of Empathy: The Most Telling Narcissistic Trait

And no, Sally Normal and Joe Regular, we can’t just ‘get over it’ and we can’t just ‘be normal’. The brain is a flexible organ and we do learn, but we will always be Aspies. –Rudy Simone, “Why are Aspies so Weird?  Why can’t we just “get over it” or act normally?

2. You just need to try harder. Sorry, but no. My brain does not work the way yours does. There is something the matter with mine. It’s not a matter of will, or effort.

It’s a matter of trying to figure out how to cope. You wouldn’t tell a blind person to try harder to see, would you? –Peter Flom, PhD, Things not to say to LD people (or their parents)

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers.

That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.)

Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ. –Carl King, 10 Myths About Introverts

I thought Richard was my friend, that he understood me, that we were a mutual admiration society.

That he would have my back, and at least try to understand my point of view and validate it, even if he had to support his wife at the same time.

But no, there was no empathy at all.

Richard even gave Jeff the impression that it would be dangerous for me to apologize to Tracy, and that it would also be dangerous to tell her about the NVLD, because her mother had abused her while using some disorder as an excuse.

(Jeff thought it was a learning disorder, but he may have misunderstood, because I know her mother had borderline personality disorder.  Learning disorders don’t lead to abuse.)

Jeff found it very frustrating.

If it were even remotely possible for me to behave like an extrovert who didn’t have NVLD, don’t you think I would have already done so 20 years before, rather than always feeling like the odd one out, the one nobody paid attention to, the one rarely asked on dates?  Do you really think this is some sort of choice?

Unfortunately, I did not have research into introverts to show him at that time, because I did not know that the very makeup of my brain determines how I interact socially–even before you get into the problems that NVLD caused me academically, socially, athletically, and in various other ways as described here.

But who knows if even that would’ve made a difference with how he treated me, because he’s one of those extroverts who think that introverts only act the way they do because they’re stubborn, don’t like people, or aren’t trying hard enough.

Richard and Tracy probably would’ve bullied me on the playground if I knew them growing up.

It was also extremely insulting to me, putting my shyness, quiet nature, social understanding disability, and reaction to Tracy’s abuses, on the same level as the abusive actions and excuses of a crazy mother!

Most introverts experience various levels of discrimination in our extroverted society, but this was beyond the norm: It crossed the line from misunderstanding introverts, to abusing and bullying me, by trying to twist my behavior until I sounded like the bully!

It was gaslighting and echoing, both common tactics of abusers and narcissists to screw with your perception–to take the focus off their abusive actions and put it on you.

Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world. —Jonathan Rauch, Caring for Your Introvert

On March 3 I wrote an e-mail to Richard, but I don’t remember if I sent it or not:

I keep getting the impression and fearing that you have misunderstood something: I am NOT trying to get Tracy to ease up on her restriction of our going out to the bar and grill, for coffee, etc. alone.

I stopped fighting that weeks and weeks ago, I think after having a talk with Jeff [after they moved out] that calmed me down and helped me see things from the other perspective.

I know the topic came up on Friday, I’m not sure how, but he probably meant that merely to explain why I was upset and did not understand in the first place back in January, not to change anything.

I just want her to understand that I do not hate her, that she can trust me, so she can feel comfortable with me and ease up on her own time.

Okay, don’t tell her about the NVLD, if you think it’ll only cause trouble.  Just tell her that I never meant any harm to her and did not deliberately snub her.

Tell her I’m a little dense in social situations, if you think that’ll help.  I’d rather she think I was a bit thick than mean or hateful or devious.

I don’t mean the NVLD to be a crutch.  It is, rather, an explanation. I keep looking for ways to compensate for it.

The problem is that I don’t have a teacher, so oftentimes I’ll know I have a problem with something, but don’t know how to deal with it.

But nothing seemed to change.  I was still expected to change the most basic part of my personality, just as much a basic and unchangeable determinant of who I was, as my gender and race–if I ever wanted full friendship benefits with Richard.

While Tracy felt no need whatsoever to stop being an abusive bully, something which can and must be changed, because bullies violate other people’s rights to be treated with dignity.

‘And it is as fundamental a part of who we are as our gender is,’ [Susan Cain] insists. ‘Your tendency to be inward-directed [introverted] or outward-directed [extroverted] is huge; it governs every part of the way you live and work and love.’ –Jane Mulkerrins, The big noise in the quiet revolution, why introversion is in: Susan Cain on her bestseller about keeping life on the lowdown

 

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

 

Tracy’s smear campaign and emotional blackmail begin full-force

Eventually, we stopped sharing a house.  No apologies ever came from Tracy for the many insults and jabs she made.  When I begged Richard to get her to apologize and be kind to me, he talked like everything was somehow my fault and fat chance getting an apology from her, and I was just making a mountain out of a molehill.

Meanwhile, when I asked about making apologies to Tracy–because I felt bad about many things that happened during the six weeks they stayed with us, and wanted to try again–he told me not to, she only wanted that from him, it wasn’t necessary–and Jeff got the impression from him that it would actually be dangerous somehow.

I almost broke off the friendship right there and then, and once or twice afterwards, but Jeff dissuaded me from it and Richard didn’t want me to go.  My son loved playing with their children, Jeff loved playing D&D with them, Jeff had just as much trouble finding friends nearby as I did, and I loved Richard like a brother.

Since Richard claimed to care a lot about me, said I was “very dear” to him, said he loved me like a sister, I had hopes that somehow, the friendship could be salvaged.  Many times I got the impression it had been, that things were finally moving along at a nice, even pace.  But then something would come out that shattered my illusions, and made me feel like Tracy loathed me and would never accept me.

There were huge communication problems: I was open and honest with Richard about all sorts of things.  But Richard and Tracy constantly kept from me all sorts of things that I needed to know, such as ways I had offended Tracy, and then blamed me because we didn’t seem to get anywhere.  I couldn’t apologize or repent of something I did not know I had done.  We couldn’t resolve problems we did not talk about.

It was also exhausting, because I couldn’t just relax and be myself, and stop wondering if I’d done something to offend her yet again, or was she just joking.  I felt constantly on edge, on the spot, on trial around her, because as an introvert with NVLD (and possibly selective mutism) who had objected to her abuses of me and others, it was impossible to please her.

This made me feel resentful, especially since she never apologized for the things she did to me, or for her abuses and controlling behavior toward her husband and children–and I kept seeing her do more of these things all the time.

How could I be expected to forgive and forget when she not only did not repent of what she did, but kept committing more emotional crimes against me, Richard, the children, and others?

Yet I was somehow expected to make up for my “errors” and act just the way she wanted me to act, or else I’d be punished by losing the best friend I’d had in many years.

Except that I had no idea what the rules even were.  I’d think I was following them as well as I could, but many months later I’d find that she still wasn’t satisfied, that something I had always thought was perfectly fine with her, was ticking her off.  This was emotional blackmail.

I often trembled and shook and felt dizzy (panic attack?) before calling Richard, and had to psyche myself up to do it, unless I knew Tracy was at work.

Once, I called and left a message with her, and she was so nice and cheerful–rather than short or brusque–that I thought, finally, finally she likes me!  Then I found out later, to my disappointment, that it wasn’t her but the babysitter.

I told Richard once that I didn’t call him often because I didn’t want to annoy Tracy.  He said, “Go ahead.  Annoy her!”

He was my BFF, my best friend, so of course I wanted to do what best friends do, and talk with him often about everything.

I told Jeff everything, which inspired him to trust me, and if he had a problem or suspicion, he would’ve told me; he was okay with everything and didn’t mind.

So I was startled one day to learn from Richard that Tracy called me “that woman” when I wasn’t there.

And this despite the fact that our two families constantly did things together, them coming to our house, us going to their house, me babysitting their kids, us giving them presents at Christmas and birthdays, Jeff giving Tracy or Richard a ride, Jeff playing D&D with them–

So I was not some woman she barely knew and never saw socially.  No, I was a family friend.

I kept thinking things were hopeless, wondering if I should break things off, and told him straight-out one day in an e-mail that I didn’t feel comfortable being friends with a man whose wife hated me.

But Richard kept telling me things could be resolved, that she didn’t hate me.

In 2010, I sometimes wished he had ended things long before this, out of respect for his wife’s feelings.  While I was always out of the loop and clueless, always hoping and thinking that Tracy was now perfectly fine with me, he knew what was really going on in his own home.

Sometime in late January or February 2008 after they moved out, I discovered through a series of e-mails to Richard that–even though I thought for sure he could go get coffee with me–that he could not, that Tracy had restricted him from doing that with me, though he could do it with other friends.

See, I stopped asking to go to the bar and grill, because there seemed to be a stigma attached to going to a bar with him–even though it was actually a regular family restaurant with a bar, like Applebee’s, not a tavern.  Like there was something “affair-y” about going to a bar with a guy.  (Or, even more ridiculous, like there was something “affair-y” about going to a family restaurant with a guy.)

But I thought it was okay to ask him to meet me each week to get coffee and catch up.  Public place, and not a bar.

That’s when I learned that I wasn’t even allowed to go to a coffee shop with the guy!  What the–?

Restrictions kept trickling out little by little like this.

In August, I asked to meet him in a parking lot to talk, thinking that was a nice, safe place she wouldn’t possibly object to.  My husband had just lost his job, and I needed someone to talk to, preferably my BFF.

But no, even a frickin’ parking lot was off-limits.

Yet it was okay for him to visit me in my house by himself when the kids were along.  Like the kids were “chaperones.”  It was crazy!

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

 

 

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.

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

 

 

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 4

Previous parts

On page 162, Buck’s phone vibrates.  With our fetishist Buck, there are so many bad ways we can take that, especially if the phone is in his pants pocket.

On page 230, after a harrowing escape which leaves Buck fallen and injured on the ground, he feels “the bulge in his pocket.”  Er….

“Was it possible?  Had his phone survived?  He didn’t dare hope as he flipped it open.  The dial lit up.  He hit Rayford’s number.”

But of course it has!  Buck’s beloved phone has survived!  Oh, happy day!  After all, we want nothing to harm that bulge in Buck’s pocket.

On page 258, Chloe has been working on a business model to allow believers across the globe to share food and other resources after the Mark of the Beast becomes required for business transactions.

Buck asks what she’ll do when she has a baby to take care of.  She replies that she’ll teach her husband how to handle it.  He says, “Teach him what?  Your business or child care?”  She says, “Both.”

Oh, yeah, because the woman knows how to take care of babies and the man doesn’t, just because she’s a woman and he’s a man.  This is not a Christian thing, but a greater society thing that annoys me.

I hated this assumption when I was pregnant, and hate it now: Being a woman does not make you automatically know how to take care of children, and being a man does not automatically make you a bumbling idiot!

On page 259, I find another reminder that the LaHaye version of the Rapture/Tribulation doesn’t quite match what I Iearned, growing up as a PMD Christian.

For example, here we find that the Great Tribulation hasn’t started and won’t for another year and a half, and then will only be three and a half years.  I always heard that the Great Tribulation started immediately after the Rapture and went for 7 years.

In another place, the writers tell us that the Tribulation believers are not “Christians,” but “Tribulation Saints,” though everything I ever heard about it called them “Christians” or “believers.”

Then, of course, there is the disagreement in prophecy circles over whether the Holy Spirit will even be around during this time, whether anyone can become a believer during the Tribulation, or whether there are conditions to who can become a believer (ie, the Holy Spirit is gone, but you can become a believer, but it’s very hard, even impossible if you heard and clearly understood the Gospel and rejected it before the Rapture).

These books take the stance that anyone can become a believer, whether they rejected the Gospel or never heard it before the Rapture.

Isn’t it funny how these prophecies supposedly come from a literal reading of the Bible, and are supposed to be evident to anybody who reads it with a mind open to the leadings of the Spirit, yet there are so many different versions of what exactly the prophecies are?

This is one of many things which ultimately led me to Orthodoxy, where you are led by the general consensus of the Church, not by individual interpretation.

On page 261, Buck and friends try to badger–er, convince Chaim Rosenzweig to convert to Christianity.  Buck says, “God is trying to get your attention, Dr. Rosenzweig.  I hope it doesn’t take something drastic.”

Drastic, unlike the non-drastic events we’ve already seen: earthquakes, floods, famine, water turned to blood, etc….

On pages 296-298, we find the attitude that has riled up so many of the “heathen” and non-premillennial-dispensationalist Christians against these books, rather than just dismissing them as badly-written propaganda works:

An angel speaks from Heaven in Greek, and it’s heard throughout the earth, each person hearing it in his own language.  Radio satellite dishes and probes follow the angel to see what it is, and it says, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

We read,

Buck heard the angel and mistook it for the TV until he saw the look on Chaim’s face.  The old man was terrified.  How could he, or anyone, doubt the existence of God now?  This was no longer about ignorance.  It was about choice.

But Buck does not seem to realize that even such words from an angel can be very confusing to someone who, say, was raised Hindu and knows very little about Christian angels or Tribulation prophecies.

But the lines are being drawn here: If you don’t become a Christian, you have deliberately chosen to be against God.

On page 300, yet again we find one of the Tribulation Force–in this case, Rayford–falling into sinful behavior, and we read, “Rayford’s old nature took over.”  In this case, the sinful behavior is sarcasm and aggressiveness in dealing with an abrasive and aggressive guy named Bo.

(Bo, by the way, has just proclaimed the voice from the sky to be “those crazy fundamentalists again, playing with our minds.  Some kind of loudspeaker trick.”  Yet another example of the persecution complex in these books.)

On page 305, we see that a literal interpretation of Revelations leads to silliness in End-Times literature:

Can we really take it seriously when the characters encounter demonic insects with horse bodies, human faces, lion teeth, long hair, a kind of helmet-crown, and scorpion tails, that can speak human languages?  When Buck captures one (p. 319) and it starts screaming, “Abaddon!  Abaddon!” in a tiny voice?

(I can’t help remembering the end of the original The Fly, with the little fly with a man’s head screaming in a tiny voice, “Help me!  Help me!”  Rock, anyone?)  Though at least it’s not like the giant tail which lunges through doorways (1:22:45) in The Image of the Beast.

But then Buck wants to–open the window?  Sure he says it’s so he can trap one between the screen and the window to look at it more closely.

But is he mad?  Does he want them to get past the window and get to Chaim?  Chaim is sensible enough to say no, but Buck keeps insisting, saying that they won’t kill him (just make him want to die), isn’t he fascinated as a scientist….

And, of course, eventually Chaim gets stung.

To be continued….

Verge of nervous breakdown as houseguests from Hell abuse our hospitality

Tracy complained about the food we provided, even though they never gave us money or ideas for other food, we were financially strapped (paying for 8 people’s food and utilities with not a bit of financial help) and, with a small child running around (now four small children), didn’t have the time to prepare from-scratch meals every day.

If they found our food so offensive, why didn’t they plan, buy and then prepare meals for us?

I did two dishwasher loads a day, along with extra towels and sheets.  And of course, you can’t run a washer and dishwasher at the same time, because it strains the hot water.  I stayed up till 1 in the morning doing these things, then heard complaints from Richard and Tracy about how late I stayed up.

I’d overhear wailing children, arguments, and criticisms from the wife about how I run things.  I’d walk in on various things.  The TV was on all day and evening, which drives me crazy.  (I must have my music!)

I felt claustrophobic, wading through people and things just to get dinner or find a seat.  We did not have room for a proper dining room table (I told you this place is small), so people ate in the living room when they couldn’t fit around the little island.

The living room was full of STUFF.  I couldn’t believe what I found in each room as I began cleaning up after they moved out.

There were new illnesses all the time.  My son had to share his room and toys, and even had to give up his own bed, so he got pretty naughty for a while there and I had to lay down the law.  His behavior greatly improved after they moved out.

And with all that, I had this hostile, jealous, abusive woman in my house 24/7, and I was expected to excuse and accept her behavior.

Jeff didn’t like having to give the kids breakfast every morning because the parents were asleep.  He didn’t like never getting help taking out the extra trash.

And never a thank you from Tracy for putting up with all this, with her–just hostility.  Richard alone we could handle: He was far more gracious and easygoing.  But all these people, whom we didn’t know previously and who weren’t even family?

I also confided in my priest during this time about some of the things going on, especially since they kept neglecting to go to church with me, when Richard used to go with me all the time.  I felt stressed and sad even during the service, unable to get away from it in my head even at church.

My priest said that his own parents had once hosted family who arrived from Greece, that things got very tense after a while, and that it was time for Richard and Tracy’s family to leave.

Once I heard Tracy getting short with Richard on the phone while he was at work, then hanging up and saying “Bullsh**”–with kids nearby!

I did not just quietly seethe, but brought it up with Richard whenever I had the chance.  We agreed to chat with each other in the evenings while Tracy was on the computer and I was doing chores in the kitchen; this helped a bit.

Since I was not comfortable around her, she was too scary and hostile to safely confront, and he was my best friend, I felt it best to tell him I was upset so he could take things up with her in a way that she would respond to.

Also, it seemed proper to do things this way.  For example, the advice column Annie’s Mailbox typically advises to let your husband/wife/friend deal with his/her own family even when you have a problem with them.  Like, for example, here, on 1/26/15, when they say the writer’s husband should deal with his own grown son, not her.

I let my husband deal with his family, and I deal with mine.  So to deal with a friend’s wife, it seemed right and proper to go through him.  Something Miss Manners would approve of.

I told Richard every problem as it came up, through snatches of conversation grabbed when Tracy was on the computer, or letters, or e-mails, whatever I could manage, since she was being so overprotective about our time together.

But he did not tell me crucial information I needed to know, like the fact that she overheard my venting to Jeff, or that she had forbidden sleeping on shoulders.

I told Richard I was very upset about the complaints to her mother about the food while I was right there in the bathroom, but he didn’t tell me that she knew I overheard her, that she was deliberately being catty, that she felt herself justified in this cattiness.

It wasn’t until a year and a half later, June ’09, that he told me she knew I could hear her and that it was in response to my complaining to Jeff.

I was amazed that he scolded me in June ’09 for venting privately to my husband about real problems, rather than scolding her for being vindictive.

I wanted to throw them out–or, at least, her.  Keep Richard and the kids, but throw Tracy out on her ear.  But I felt bound by the rules of hospitality, and Jeff was being far too nice.

We didn’t realize that it was within our rights to go ahead and (kindly) show them the door, that if we didn’t, we were actually allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of by freeloaders.

I kept telling Richard from the very beginning that I wanted them to leave, but he didn’t until he made up his own mind that it was time to leave, after the events in the last section.  When he first told me this in June ’09, I thought it strange that he said they decided it was time to leave, when I had been telling Richard for four weeks that they needed to set a date and leave.

But this memory faded a bit until a few days ago, when it finally dinged in my head (after reading various comments online about freeloaders) what really happened: that they had it cushy here, we were not assertive enough about bills and pitching in and getting out, they were obnoxious houseguests whom we were sick of, but they wanted to decide when to leave.

We have cheap motels around here where people in their position often stay; they could have moved into one of those.  But no, instead of letting us decide how long they get to stay, they figured it was up to them, even though neither my husband nor I ever approved them all staying here to begin with.

Meanwhile, it seemed they never had enough money for a downpayment on an apartment, even though Richard had been working part-time for a few weeks before they all moved in, and they didn’t contribute to their expenses.

We were too nice, they were intimidating and forceful, they took charge and decided when to stay and when to go, meanwhile sponging off us and not contributing financially or getting full-time work.

And then they guilted me for making things “unpleasant” for them by disapproving of abusing spouses/children, and not being properly “welcoming.”

This letter to the Annies sounds very familiar:

Dear Annie: My brother and his wife recently stayed with us for nine months. He did some part-time work every now and then. His wife refused to find a job and mostly stayed home.

My wife and I work long hours. We also then had to do the grocery shopping, cooking and taking care of our kids afterward. During this time, my brother and his wife never spent a penny on food or anything else.

We politely said that we think it is time for them to find their own place and move out. A few hours later, they left screaming and shouting at us. We were speechless.

My brother says we are cheap because we asked them to leave. What do I tell him? Please help. — Cheap Brother

Dear Brother: Listen closely: You did nothing wrong. Your brother and his wife are first-class freeloaders. They took advantage of your generosity, making no effort to contribute to their upkeep.

They would have allowed you to support them financially for the rest of their lives.

They are angry because they couldn’t bamboozle you longer than nine months, which is plenty long enough. People who take advantage of others are always the first to cry “foul” when things don’t go their way.

We know you care about your relationship with your brother, but nothing will make him happy short of letting him move back in. Please ignore him. Do not defend yourself against his accusations.

Do not, under any circumstances, let him guilt you into helping him out again unless it’s to help him find a full-time job. Simply say as calmly as possible, “I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you.” Repeat as necessary.

Then this comment from a reader:

Listen very closely: The best defense is offensive attack (and as offensive as possible), especially when you’re dead wrong. What the Annies said – EVERYTHING they said.

We didn’t get screamed at for telling them to move out, but I did get chewed out (and, later, screamed at) for other things, as I show in this memoir–things related to how I was supposedly such a horrible host of these freeloaders.

I felt all along, for the next two and a half years, that Tracy should be making it up to me, NOT me making it up to her.  But she started throwing her weight around with Richard and making it sound like I had to suck up to her, or else I was a horrible person and couldn’t be friends with Richard.

This whole thing sounds very much like “echoing”: Basically, the abuser finds a way to accuse the victim of doing what the abuser is doing, then uses it as license to continue the abuse.

Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as “echoing”. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an “attack” is detected by the abuser….

The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of.

Scenario 2:

Partner: Please don’t raise your voice at me.

Abuser (Screaming): You’re the one that’s yelling.

or

Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence.

Abuser (angrily): You’re the one who cuts me off all of the time.

When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground.

The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying “See, you do it too.” This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out.

Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a “win”. —An Analysis of the Abuser’s Language by Abused Judge

I was criticized by them both for everything I did: not being harsh enough with my son, my habits, not eating right, not potty training right, standing and quietly waiting my turn in the little kitchen when somebody was in front of me rather than pushing them aside (apparently they like rudeness, and politeness “drives them crazy”).

If I wanted Richard to call me and let me know he was going to be late and not dead in a ditch during a snowstorm, I was being his “mother.”  (Actually, it’s one of the rules of being a houseguest, so your host doesn’t worry about you.)

Tracy may have overheard me complaining to Jeff that she was abusing the children as well, because during one conversation, she said she figures she’s not abusive if her children love her.  (Actually, that’s Stockholm Syndrome and a natural defensive tendency of children.)

I confronted her for telling my son that he’d better stop doing something if he knew what was good for him.  To me, that sounded like a threat of violence.  She said she meant that I would punish him.  But I don’t know whether to believe that or not.

Then the couch–not up to the strain of holding some 300 or 400 pounds every night–began leaning towards one side, then finally that side broke down one day when a few of the kids jumped on it.

We had to quick buy a futon, which cost us even more money we didn’t have and put us even further into debt.  I wanted to be paid back for the utilities/food/futon, but they never had the money to pay for it.

We had a futon when we were first together, and that couch had been a wonderful replacement when we finally had the money in 2001.  No more metal bars! no more springs hitting you in the butt!

But now our wonderful couch–complete with washable fabric (great for kids and pets) and end recliners–was broken after only six years.  We only had money for yet another wretched futon.  Well, actually, we had no money for that, either, but everybody sitting on the floor was not an option.

Then Jeff put the futon together when it arrived (mail-order), but Richard complained that it wasn’t put together right.  While “fixing” it, he broke it, and we had to buy another futon frame with money we didn’t have.  But then he turned his puppy-dog look on me and melted me into forgiveness.  He had a way of doing that, of getting me to not be mad at him no matter what the infraction….

After they moved out the next day, I believe it took me about a week to clean the place properly, systematically going room to room, filling grocery bags with stuff they left behind and mail they were still receiving.

Then when I asked Richard to come pick up these bags and get them out of my house, Tracy would fight him “tooth-and-nail” and make life extremely unpleasant for him if he came over!

Then in the springtime after the melt, my son and I had to go around the parking lot around our condo, picking up all the cigarette butts which Richard and Tracy never picked up after themselves.

While they were still there, I had at least two breakdowns, one a crying jag that must have lasted for hours, the other just shutting inside myself and sitting and doing nothing.  I wanted them GONE.  NOW.  But Jeff had to be on board or it would be just little, cringing me against two big, forceful people.

I did tell Richard in a letter I slipped to him, that I wanted him to get an apartment right away because I couldn’t handle all this anymore, told him how it was affecting me, and begged him to come up with a move-out date.

But kicking him and his little children out on the street in the middle of a long, cold winter?  I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

From What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick:

In order for me to win, you must lose.

Because this is a matter of psychological survival to her, she has to steamroll you in order to avoid feeling helpless. “To relinquish control is tantamount to being victimized and overwhelmed” (Schumacher).

Unfortunately, her fears also fuel her lack of empathy toward you and create the mindset: “Victimize or be victimized; dominate or be dominated.”

To the emotionally abusive woman, it’s not enough to merely control you. She only feels in control and good about herself if she makes you feel less than. Her mood becomes buoyant as she cuts you down. She has to make you feel useless, disoriented and helpless, so that she doesn’t feel this way.

This is evidence of a faulty belief system. She has a one-up/one-down mentality. She believes that in every interpersonal interaction there’s a winner and a loser and she will fight tooth and nail against being the “loser.”

This is why it’s virtually impossible for this woman to compromise or make concessions. To her, compromise and concession are humiliating defeats. She’d rather blow the house up and everything in it than compromise or take personal responsibility.

Her need to control, however, will come back to bite her on the backside. Instead of feeling and appearing in control, this woman comes across as out of control when trying to exert control and the people who are under her tyranny eventually stage a revolt and/or bolt from the relationship.

I did indeed feel steamrolled; this is the very word I used once to Jeff, and here it is in a webpage about controlling women.

Apparently it was “offensive” to Tracy for me to do housework, take care of my little boy’s needs, and take time to myself each day to recharge, rather than sitting on my butt talking to her day in, day out, for six weeks.  And she refused to see it any other way than as a deliberate, personal offense.

She decided that Jeff was “welcoming” while I wasn’t.  This despite the fact that I spent six hours socializing with her every evening/night, while Jeff spent that time in the basement on the computer.

What, was I supposed to let my son’s diaper stay wet and the house get filthy and the laundry stay undone?  You must allow your hosts to get back to normal life as soon as possible, because while you may be homeless and unemployed, your hosts are not, and have responsibilities, routines, and ways of doing things.

6. Let your presence interfere as little as possible with your friend’s normal routine, household duties, and career.

You friend may of course wish to take time out to hang with you, but you should never be the one to impose on their time. Do your best to conform your routine to the routine of the household, as to not get in the way or create an imposition….

13. Don’t overstay your visit. Try to keep your stay shorter than three days. Your host has things to do and they can’t put their life on hold forever. —How to be the Perfect Houseguest

I was very welcoming to her when she first arrived.  But I think even extroverts get tired of a small, crowded house after a few days, and want those houseguests to leave.  After all, Benjamin Franklin himself said that “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

We had no spare beds or extra couches.  We had debts, a child in diapers, and all the expenses of home ownership and association fees, so we had no spare money.

They left their dirty laundry in a pile on the living room floor.  They left messes in the bathroom for me to clean up, and didn’t shower more than once every two or three days, but it was too cold to open windows.

They criticized everything from how I ran the house to my various introverted ways.  (So what if I “don’t go anywhere”?  Maybe I don’t want to go anywhere.  And where exactly was I supposed to go, anyway, especially with a toddler and no car?  All my business was in the house.)

I didn’t let them into my house to tell me how to run my life and that everything I do is wrong!  Is there anyone (at least in our culture) who would still be “welcoming” for long in this situation?

Of course, we are not just animals but social animals. Social norms requiring politeness and hospitality usually override overt territorially defensive actions (e.g., “You have to leave my territory, NOW, or harm may come to you”).

Instead, hosts typically communicate feelings of invasion through social withdrawal and short-temperedness.

Primary territories are also the most private of territories. We can control others’ access to us, which reduces stress and promotes recovery.

Most of us need time at home alone or with a few trusted others to recharge before we go back into the world. This varies based on culture and individual differences. For example, introverts, like me, have high privacy needs.

Mack upped his fishiness quotient by inserting himself into private conversations, intruding in private spaces (my bedroom!), and being omnipresent (in spite of the fact that he was not a Holy Mackerel).

Altman’s privacy regulation theory would predict that houseguests are stressful to the extent that they create a “disconnect” between hosts’ actual and desired levels of privacy. —The trouble with houseguests

They really could have used this list of houseguest etiquette; they violated all sorts of things here.

I had no idea I was offending, only that she was suddenly acting very hostile toward me and also toward Richard and her children.  In the beginning I had no problem with her at all, wanted to befriend her, chatted with her, told her a few secrets, had no desire to upset her–but then her hostilities began.

I kept begging Richard to set a move-out date.  He finally set one, January 16, 2008, and I counted the days.  Then as the day got closer, I’d hear, “We may not be able to move out then after all.”  But when the day came, they left.

And there was much rejoicing.  Except that I was so used to having Richard around to talk with and watch TV with, that I missed him dearly.

But for the next couple of years, every time I cleaned the basement and otherwise went about my normal household routine, I heard Tracy’s snotty little voice ripping on my “routine” as if there were something wrong with an orderly household.

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