[Written 1/27/14-4/17/14:]

For a long time after the breakup, I was a shadow of myself: often crying, barely sleeping, doing my daily chores/church like an automaton.

Something about Saturday and going to the store brought on the tears before I could even get back home, then after putting things away, I’d escape and weep in my room.

In the middle of the night, I’d leave my bed to sob where no one could hear me.

When I could sleep, I’d dream that everything was resolved–then wake to find it wasn’t true.  I kept longing for the phone to ring with their apologies.  I prayed every day that they would repent and reconcile with us.

I asked the Theotokos and Richard’s patron saint for help.  I asked my son to pray for reconciliation.

I posted on Orthodox forums about this, asking for prayer and help figuring out how this could happen, help with dealing with it.

Once, shortly after the breakup, my son told me Richard had called.  I was shocked–but soon discovered he was mistaken.  It was either Jeff or some other guy leaving a message, but wasn’t Richard.

It wasn’t Tracy I missed at all, but Richard, though I did want her to be sorry for her unconscionable raging and bullying, and stop falsely accusing me.

I was furious with her, but not at all sad to lose her.  It was, in fact, a huge relief to finally dump this crazy lady out of my life, no longer have to deal with her or see her on my Facebook wall.

If it were just her I lost, I’d be ecstatic.

But it was also Richard and the children: Them I missed.  They were the reason I even tried to make things up.  Without them, I wouldn’t have bothered.

In fact, after spending the month of July not having to deal with her at all, trying to deal with her in August felt like I had finally dropped a mountain off my back, rested and gotten used to the freedom of not having it there anymore, then took it back up again.

This was one reason why I asked for a six-month break, because I missed the freedom of her not being around, and could see a huge difference in my mood.

I could also see a huge difference between her last Facebook message, which showed up on my list of messages, and other messages above it from other friends.  Hers was so nasty, while theirs were so cheerful and friendly.

I would do nothing intentionally, especially not with a young child depending on me.  But I longed to get into an accident or find out I had some terminal illness, so I would die and the pain would cease.

The only way I could get through the day was to do housework and take care of my son.  There were also some people I could hang out with at school when I went to drop him off/pick him up.

When he had a T-ball game, I went, but just sitting there with little to occupy my mind was torment.

And being an introvert, it was impossible to get away from my thoughts for any length of time, no matter what I did: TV, chores, the daily trek to the school (a mile and a quarter, always on foot because I don’t have a car and don’t drive).

I avoided anything and everything that reminded me of Richard: Cthulhu, the music he liked, anything Goth because he’s a Goth, the songs that reminded me of him, Lord of the Rings (he was my Frodo)….

I could not avoid church or Orthodoxy without spiritual and household disruption, but I scaled back on my fervor because I just could not bear it.

All I could hear during services was Richard’s voice in my head, telling me over the phone of the church’s “mysteries.”  I could barely get through a service without tearing up.

Even an ode to friendship made me sad.  Or anything having to do with marriage, because jealousy caused the breakup.  In fact, I felt just like Stan in the You’re Getting Old episode of South Park, which aired on June 8, 2011.

I didn’t mind making new friends and re-connecting with old ones, but I wanted Richard back along with them.  Otherwise, everything just felt empty.  There was a Richard-shaped hole in my heart.

I felt lost and alone.  I was devastated; nothing could make me happy; I was torn to pieces, and questioning everything about myself and about our decision to end the friendship.

I’d read about Orthodox forgiveness, and it sounded like I was supposed to repent and beg for forgiveness even though I had done nothing wrong, even though it’s very wrong to require the victim of abuse to debase herself to her abuser.

Then there were the tracks: The train that kept running around and around in my head, constantly tormenting me as my mind tried to figure out what happened and who was to blame, what I should do, was I really a whore.

Everything I saw, everything I did, every movie, every song, even my faith, reminded me of Richard or of Tracy’s accusations, so I could not get away from them.

The slightest trigger sent my brain into a constant spinning of wheels, like a mechanized track it had to follow until it worked its way back out again to a conclusion: I had to remember, ponder, figure out.

Then I’d get a question all sorted out as I remembered everything that happened–but some snatch of conversation, a situation on a comedy, a letter to an advice columnist, or just a memory or song–and off the train went again on its track, around and around, never stopping.

I think it took about a year for these tracks to stop, probably around the time I finished writing my account in this web book of what happened, and could just re-read it if I started on a track again.  The process of writing and revision took from late 2010 to May 2012.

I felt like I did not deserve friendship, was not worthy of happiness, until Richard and Tracy forgave me and snatched me off the track.

I trusted only the people I already knew, constantly afraid to make new friends, because they might turn out to be just like Tracy, or rip out my heart as Richard did.

I feared what people must think of me, because Richard and Tracy had so bullied me for being shy and quiet that I now felt like everyone must be judging me and secretly cruel.

I feared that I’d make new friends, only to find that they were also narcissists, also abusive, and all my sweet new memories with them would turn sour just as they did with Richard.

I feared that old friends would turn out to be narcissists after all these years.

In short, I was scared of people.

I even had terrible migraines that didn’t go away.

As they say, I felt like the life had been sucked out of me and nothing was left to keep me going.  And it wasn’t just because of him, since I had two narcissists preying on me, him and Tracy.  It’s no wonder I was still processing it two years later.

I could not stop talking about the situation with a few of my friends.

In fear and anxiety, I kept looking for Richard and Tracy’s van or Tracy’s work car on the street or in parking lots.  I did see them occasionally, because they lived nearby and the Republican party headquarters was on one of the main arteries.

I could barely stand to hear political talk, especially from the TEA, GOP, Libertarian or Anarchist parties.

All that extreme right-wing foaming-at-the-mouth deceitful rhetoric and hysteria I’d been hearing lately from Richard, was filling the airwaves and reminding me of Richard, constantly.

It also reminded me of Tracy, who worked for the Republican Party, as I remembered her gleefully thinking that Global Warming had been proven wrong.

(Say what?  Um, no.  Global Warming is very real.  Anything that says it is not, is fake science meant to delude people, so businesses don’t get regulated into more environmentally friendly practices.  Meanwhile, the human race gets more and more at risk as people deny the truth and refuse to change their ways.)

The lying crap coming out of the Republican Party made me sick.  (It still does, especially after digging to find it all goes back to wealthy industrialists trying to make more money for themselves.)

I used to be fine with the Republican Party, but the influence of the TEA Party and the GOP’s tendency to go along with Bush’s atrocities, made it unconscionable for me to have anything more to do with it.

Even our local Republican congressman, who’s been in office about as long as I’ve been alive, is now being called too “moderate,” with people in his own party planning to run against him as being more appropriately “conservative.”

The only relief I had was to flee to the Democratic Party, and watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert every night.  Our boys, at least, could refresh my politics-weary spirit with humor by skewering and laying bare the bullsh** that was coming out of the TEA Party and the GOP.

But still, every time I heard yet another Republican or TEA Party lie, it reminded me of Richard and Tracy and all their lies and abuse.

I know some of my readers will disagree with me on the politics, but in my mind it all went together with Richard and Tracy’s abuse of me and their children.  It seemed that the right-wing parties and Richard/Tracy had somehow merged and become the same:

The right-wing parties began saying that compromise is wrong, began calling the other side morons; Richard and Tracy did the same thing both politically and personally.

As the right-wing became more and more entrenched in refusing to give even an inch to the left-wing, Richard and Tracy refused to even remotely consider that they did anything wrong with Jeff and me.

As the right-wing started railing against things like food stamps, CPS or the growth of non-violent parenting, Richard and Tracy did the same.

As the right wing told lies about the left wing to sway the public, Richard and Tracy told lies–about Todd, then about me–to justify their abuse.

So fighting the right-wing became, to me, the same as fighting Richard/Tracy and all they believed in, because their attitudes on behavior, politics, childrearing, all came straight from the Evil One.  So it became the right thing to do.

…These many things fit many of the traits for PTSD.

Also, I have already written here and here about my lifelong struggle, as an NVLDer and introvert, to fit in and make friends.

I have also discovered, through various conversations with other “outsiders” and even a whole forum thread on the Web, that the town I moved to in 1995 (to be with Jeff) is very closed-off to new people.

Many in that thread disagreed, and gave their own experiences, which is okay.  But the ones who posted insults and diatribes against the outsiders, whom they don’t even know, accusing them of being the problem–I think I found the real source of the trouble!

Another thread is here, not just about that town but about the area and small towns in general.

Somebody on another thread wrote,

Some magazine even listed it as one of the toughest places to fit in in America.  Now, I don’t go out and try too hard to make friends.  But the fact I didn’t make one friend while I was here should tell you something.  There is a reason every outsider hates this town.  It is one of the most unwelcoming unfriendly places anywhere….

Making friends and connections is da*n near impossible.  These people will shut you out and do so fairly easily.  Trying to network with people about any thing is a total hassle.

I disagree with those who think the people are deliberately unfriendly or mean: I think it’s more of a cultural thing, the Upper Midwest combined with German ancestry.  The way people describe it on these forums, it sounds much like a cultural introversion.

People are nice and helpful here, not mean or nasty.  (If they were mean, it wouldn’t hurt so much to be alone.)

And I am married with a child, so I’m not sitting all alone in an empty house on New Year’s, so I don’t have that added incentive.  And I do have the introvert’s tendency to forget to reach out with invitations.  But it would be nice to get invitations from others, too.

As it has been explained to me and also on this forum thread, it’s a small city, everybody already knows everybody, their family is here, their BFFs from high school are all here.

They don’t mean to, but their lives are so full of friends and family that they don’t think to include the newcomer in their social plans.

I also don’t like bars, football or alcohol, so that cuts off a huge swath of social opportunity.  One person told me that she had to make friends with another newcomer like her!

My husband, who came here for work, has the exact same problem I do, and he talks more easily and is more extroverted.

I’ve tried to make friends, only they would make social plans right in front of me and not even ask if I wanted to join in.  I see people post on Facebook about get-togethers, and think, “Why didn’t they invite me?”

I’d change churches or jobs, and feel like the people I knew there, dropped off the face of the earth.

Sure we have Wisconsin friends, good friends, made through college and the SCA, but they live so far away that–especially with work schedules and children–it’s a hassle to get together often.

So after the breakup, when people tried to cheer me up with, “You’ll make new friends soon,” I’d think, “Yeah right!  I’m going to die alone because the only friends I could make in this town were outsiders I had to pull in myself, and they turned out to be narcissistic abusers who were only using me!”

Not only that, but how do you just go out and replace a five-year close friendship, and the depth of emotional intimacy, sharing and caring that goes along with that?

I did try to reach out more through Facebook, where I re-connected with some local people I’d lost touch with over the years.  But again, the same problem arises: You’re not part of the high school circle or family, so they keep forgetting you’re there other than to invite you to big parties full of strangers.

And you enjoy the parties, but you’d like to be the one they call when their car breaks down or somebody goes to the hospital or they need to vent about a problem.  But they have 10 other people to call, family or friends they’ve known for 30 or 40 years.

Richard inspired me to talk and keep talking, which is hard for me except with certain people.  Some of my old friends I can talk to like this; for some others, it’s hard.  This made his loss especially acute.

For years I’d missed having a confidante in my town (other than my husband); then I finally had one, had a social life like other people; then it was all ripped away again.

I’ve joined a writer’s club, so hopefully things will get better.  And I have other friends in other cities who have the same problem: Sharon, who’s lived in the same city her whole life but is an introvert, and Mike, an outgoing extrovert who keeps moving as a preacher, but finds it easier in some places and harder in others to make friends.

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