I told Richard at various times and in various ways what I needed from Tracy to give her what she wanted:

  1. that I was obviously missing her nonverbal cues to chat; I may have said or implied that I needed more verbal cues (making it clear that you want to converse rather than you’re just making some little comment that only requires a yes or no answer), such as, “Hey, let’s chat”
  2. Tracy needed to stop treating me as an enemy, hating me, punishing me like a naughty child for everything she didn’t like
  3. stop pressuring me to talk on pain of losing my friend and being treated like a jerk
  4. I speak up far more during one-on-one conversations sitting next to each other, than in a group
  5. (not a need, but an aside: ) once, I mentioned that I would hug her back if she ever hugged me, and she said she wasn’t bothered that I offered hugs to Richard, that she understood that she and I were the same about hugs: giving them out to certain people, but not to everybody

But these things were not provided to me.  Instead, I got:

  1. a prickly person who would sit at her computer, hunched over and mumbling occasionally, never smiling at me or even saying “hello” or “goodbye” first
  2. constant pressure to talk through various changing rules and punishments
  3. ridicule, jabs, snarks
  4. still no, or very few, verbal cues
  5. no offers for hugs, and when I gave her one a couple of times, she made it into a joke or growled at me–then after I’d always been told that hugging Richard was okay, on 7/1/10, I start hearing through Jeff that they were now saying it wasn’t okay??
  6. never took me up on my offer to watch movies together, never offered to come visit or chat
  7. continued abuses–even in front of me–of her husband and children, making her friendship distasteful to me
  8. Richard’s own behavior, constantly changing, something okay one day and not okay later and then okay again after that, while he kept me constantly guessing as to whether certain behaviors were acceptable to him or not

(This webpage, by the way, demonstrates how, for children with NLD, a system of rewards and punishments for their social behavior is counterproductive–and how behavior problems in them are rarely manipulative.  I can imagine that an adult with NLD, being treated like a child, would react the same way.)

I have little trouble warming up to and opening up to my husband’s friends or spouses of my friends who are nice–which is most of them–if in a small-group situation, if I feel I can break into the conversation.

But Tracy was not nice.

I’m often quiet even when our friends are visiting, if there are more than one of them together and we’re all in a group.  Yet I feel comfortable being quiet around them, that they’re not judging me for it, that they just accept that as my way.

When Richard would mention times that I supposedly snubbed Tracy, I didn’t remember them at all, or Tracy ever trying to start conversations, and figured NVLD must be to blame for me missing her cues–if indeed she was telling the truth that she was trying to start conversations.

But as for me not opening up to her in general, she wasn’t “safe.”  I told Richard directly that I didn’t feel I could be good friends with her, that I was scared of her, that I couldn’t open up to her, that I didn’t like how she was treating him or me (and maybe the kids, though I forget if I mentioned that to him or not).

I never promised to be Chatty Cathy with her or take her into my confidences.  I told him I needed to feel “safe” before I could open up to anyone.

My husband says that I sensed she was dangerous, and did what any rational creature would do: tried to become invisible.

Blaming me for this and accusing me of making excuses or “being a victim” was hugely unfair–and wrong.  Self-preservation is instinctual, and I sensed that Tracy was not the Christian she claimed to be.  The Bible says to have nothing to do with such people (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

I tried and tried to explain things to Richard, that by constantly expecting me to perform social leaps with Tracy, or else I’d be punished by her–they were making things worse.  I had to feel comfortable, like she was not my enemy.  But it fell on deaf ears as they both kept attributing it to “excuses” or Tracy just plain not believing it.

Apparently they didn’t understand what I meant by feeling comfortable: Did they think it was about the temperature of the house or not cussing around me or not playing zombie movies or not sitting around in boxers?  Those things had nothing to do with it!

So the cycle kept continuing: The more Tracy punished me for not being talkative with her–

–the more I heard what terrible things she was saying to Richard about me–

–the quieter and more reserved I became with her out of fear and resentment–

–and the more she punished me for being quiet and reserved, by her hostility and by restricting my friendship with Richard (often in ways I wasn’t even aware of until long after an offense occurred).

I remembered every cutting remark she made about or to me; they were legion.  I tried to remember the compliments, but there were very few.

Every punishment she made, every judgment she made which was opposite to how I really felt or what I really meant by some action toward her or Richard, stung like a sock in the eye.  Especially after all the kind and loving things Jeff and I did toward her and her family at great financial or emotional expense.

It drove me crazy that Richard didn’t understand that you don’t just stand by and let somebody bully your friend, even if that bully is your own wife!  I understood this, and in my past had often stepped into the verbal fray to defend a friend.

So many things were kept from me, which I didn’t find out about until it was far too late to change Tracy’s mind or explain or make any sort of difference.  Imagine all the paranoia this inspired when, little by little, things trickled out to my ears.

Imagine being on the playground, getting pounded by the school bully, who with every blow of his fist screams, “Befriend me, you a**hole!  Befriend me, you a**hole!”–while your best friend just stands by and watches, even tells the bully to hit harder.  That was my situation.  And the following is, in every detail, my situation:

Once a potential victim exhibits social constraint, or responsibility, the bully knows he or she can safely maneuver the situation to the very brink of disgrace.

Counting on the integrity of the victim’s constraints to keep them both from tumbling over, the bully stands on the crumbling edges of socially acceptable behavior and demands that the victim either jump or submit.

This assumes that social, professional or familial circumstances force the victim [ie, me] into relationship with the bully. Otherwise, the victim would simply disengage.

It also assumes the victim’s world view and social skill level do not provide alternatives beyond submission or escalation….

This type of aggression uses the threat of social isolation to hurt the victim. The bully’s advantage resides in the value the victim places on belonging to a family, school, workplace or other group…. [ie, being friends with Richard]

Consumed by self-reliance and the need for control, relational aggressors project the source of their inadequacies and fears on to others.  Some have termed this projection as “hostile attributional bias” or paranoia.

Accordingly, relational aggressors [ie, Tracy] see provocation and, thereby, justification where it does not exist.

Typically, they [Tracy] take inappropriate revenge for imagined offense and externally impose on others the solutions to problems arising from within.

Surprisingly, bullies see themselves in a positive light, probably because they have so little awareness of what others think of them.

No one wants to suffer a bully’s wrath by telling them the truth, and so the bully’s confidence survives simply because they lack the feedback to perceive themselves correctly in social situations.

In fact, blindness to the feelings of others permeates the behavioral style and outlook of bullies. Lacking social awareness, they certainly don’t see the impact of their own behavior on themselves and others.

They abuse their spouses and children, creating a miserable family life and still another generation of bullies. In the end, bullies bring at least as much unhappiness upon themselves as upon their victims.  (Ken Cox, Relational Aggressor).

 

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