Before Ellen leaves, Linda is able to see her and say good-bye. But after this, she hears nothing for months; even Mr. Sands in Washington won’t respond to her letters asking what has become of Ellen.
A little girl in the family finally writes that Ellen is safely arrived, is welcome and eventually will go to school–but also that she’s to be the eldest daughter’s waiting maid.
Linda doesn’t know what to make of this. Is this a temporary arrangement, or is she a slave again? Is it possible to trust Mr. Sands, or has slavery perverted him, too?
In chapter 28, we read that slaves could not legally be married. They would get the consent of their masters and be married by clergy, but it was not legally recognized and their masters could annul it at any time.
And if a master wanted a slave to sleep somewhere other than beside her husband, to perform her usual duties, he could require it.
Linda’s aunt was required to sleep on the floor near Mrs. Flint’s bedroom, and slept there through her own six pregnancies, summer and winter. She was on-call to bring Mrs. Flint anything she needed during her own pregnancies, and tend to her babies at night.
This hard bed and lack of rest, after working all day long as housekeeper and waiting-maid, led to the premature loss of every one of her own six babies.
When Dr. Flint finally realized what this was doing to her, and that such a valuable slave could die, they let her sleep in her own room in an outhouse except when someone in the family was sick. She had two more babies, but still, none lived.
Now, Aunt Nancy dies while Linda is in the hiding place. The Flints are actually affected by her loss; Mrs. Flint even takes to her bed in grief.
But then Dr. Flint tries to use this grief to get Aunt Nancy’s mother, Linda’s grandmother, to get Linda to come home and take Aunt Nancy’s place. But her grandmother replied,
“It was not I that drove Linda away. My grandchildren are gone; and of my nine children only one is left. God help me!”
After breaking her slave down with years of “cruel selfishness,” “incessant, unrequited toil, and broken rest,” Mrs. Flint now wants to make “a beautiful illustration of the attachment existing between slaveholder and slave”: She wants Aunt Nancy to be buried at the feet of her own spot in the Flint family burial-place.
Linda writes that “It had never occurred to Mrs. Flint that slaves could have any feelings.” The clergyman suggests she consult Nancy’s mother first, and the mother wants her in the slaves’ graveyard with her own family.
After a “mighty grand funeral,” Nancy is buried, and Linda notes,
Northern travelers, passing through the place, might have described this tribute of respect to the humble dead as a beautiful feature in the ‘patriarchal institution’; a touching proof of the attachment between slaveholders and servants; and tenderhearted Mrs. Flint would have confirmed this impression, with handkerchief at her eyes.
We could have told them a different story. We could have given them a chapter of wrongs and sufferings, that would have touched their hearts, if they had any hearts to feel for the colored people.
Chapter 29: Linda stayed in that hole for almost SEVEN YEARS: August 1835-June 1842. Imagine having been in a cramped hole since 2003, getting wet during storms, only occasionally getting to come out and stretch your legs. And the effects of being in there for so long, continued in her body ever afterwards.
Now, a chance arises finally for her and another escaped slave to flee in a ship. Linda’s grandmother doesn’t want her to go–fearing the chance of seizure more than what being in the hole is doing to Linda–but then someone gets careless and Linda is at risk of being ratted out. So even her grandmother tells her to leave.
In time it’s discovered that the suspected betrayer did not actually see Linda. But for now, they have to assume she did, and Linda flees.
Chapter 30: And she’s out and off! Off she goes with her friend Fanny on a ship headed to Philadelphia.
Chapter 31: She’s in Philadelphia. Exercise and rubbing her limbs with salt water have nearly restored their use. She’s taken in by a black minister and his wife, and they also find neighbors to take in Fanny.
She meets with members of anti-slavery societies, and things are going well for her and Fanny–until she goes on a train and discovers that blacks are not allowed in first-class cars for any money.
Chapter 32: Linda finds her daughter Ellen, but discovers that Mr. Sands did not emancipate her as he promised, but actually gave her to his cousin’s eldest daughter. Ellen is supposed to be her waiting-maid when she grows up, so Ellen has not even been sent to school.
So Linda writes to Dr. Flint and his daughter, asking the price at which he would sell Linda so she can be free. Only through her own freedom can she protect her children. But instead he responds that she should go back and submit herself to her rightful owners, “and then any request I might make would be granted.”
Chapter 33: Linda’s health is much better, but her limbs still swell up when she does a lot of walking. She finds a job as a nurse to a baby, which is supposed to last for a month, but her legs bother her so much (from going up and down stairs all the time) that she can no longer work.
Instead of firing her, Mrs. Bruce makes some changes to save Linda steps, and gets her a doctor. Mrs. Bruce is kind and helps thaw Linda’s heart, but Mrs. Hobbs is reluctant to give up little Ellen, making Linda suspicious that she might sell Ellen if times get too hard.
So her distrust for white people begins to go away, but not completely. But Linda’s brother William comes home from the sea, so they are finally reunited.
Chapter 34: It’s amazing when a bully of any type claims to have treated their target very well, basically playing the victim. I’ve had this happen to me–with the bully claiming to have bent over backwards for me, even though they had been making my life miserable with covert and overt persecution and gaslighting–and here it is happening to Linda:
The girl who owns her has received her letter asking for permission to be sold; the girl’s brother writes back, saying how Linda had never been treated badly or like a slave, but as one of the family, so they thought she was above disgracing herself by running away.
Somehow the family has taken her letter to mean she wants to come “home,” and the brother writes how she will be received with open arms, with no resentment, and made happy, etc.
But Linda recognizes that the young boy could not have written this himself, and the disguised hand of Dr. Flint. So she does not respond. As she recounts,
“I did not return the family of Flints any thanks for their cordial invitation–a remissness for which I was, no doubt, charged with base ingratitude.”
I’ve seen the same thing myself, the bully making demands that cannot be met without psychologically destroying the target, then petulantly claiming that their olive branch was thrown back at them.
Her son Benny is sent to her, to her great joy. Dr. Flint, meanwhile, has come North looking for her, but can’t find her, because she has heard about his visit and gone to Boston for the duration.
In the summertime, as a nurse she needs to take her employer’s baby outside for exercise, but Southerners are everywhere. She writes,
“Hot weather brings out snakes and slaveholders, and I like one class of the venomous creatures as little as I do the other. What a comfort it is, to be free to say so!”
Chapter 35: Unfortunately–and showing a detail that Margaret Mitchell got right–the North has segregation and prejudice, despite having no slavery. Linda encounters it on a steamboat, in a cab, on a train, in various places.
On a train she gets put in a Jim Crow car. Rather than sitting in a decent seat in a cab, she’d have to sit on top of the trunks in a truck.
As a servant her employer, Mrs. Bruce, could save her from some of these indignities, but she still finds “cruel prejudice, which so discourages the feelings, and represses the energies of the colored people.”
Finally, at a luxury hotel, she follows the other nurses–all white–into a long hall with her charge. A man, who is in charge of ordering everything, points her to a chair; she sits down, but he says the baby is to sit there, while she stands behind the chair and feeds her. Then she is to go to the kitchen for supper.
Linda sees the other nurses eyeing her “with a defiant look, as if my presence were a contamination,” even though many of them are only a shade lighter than she is (her parents were mixed race).
She says nothing, but picks up the child, goes to their room, and refuses to go back to the table. Her defiance is not that of a drama llama, but quiet, polite and dignified–and thereby probably far more forceful than a rant or tirade.
Mr. Bruce has her meals sent to the room, but after a few days, the white waiters complain, “saying they were not hired to wait on negroes.” The landlord wants Mr. Bruce to send her down to her meals, and “the colored servants of other boarders were dissatisfied because all were not treated alike.”
Linda really shows her mettle in the following:
My answer was that the colored servants ought to be dissatisfied with themselves, for not having too much self-respect to submit to such treatment; that there was no difference in the price of board for colored and white servants, and there was no justification for difference of treatment.
I staid a month after this, and finding I was resolved to stand up for my rights, they concluded to treat me well. Let every colored man and woman do this, and eventually we shall cease to be trampled under foot by our oppressors.
…And may we all stand up to our own bullies with such quiet dignity.
Young Mr. Flint is about to get married. Linda writes,
I knew that the young wives of slaveholders often thought their authority and importance would be best established and maintained by cruelty; and what I had heard of young Mrs. Flint gave me no reason to expect that her rule over them would be less severe than that of the master and overseer.
Truly, the colored race are the most cheerful and forgiving people on the face of the earth. That their masters sleep in safety is owing to their superabundance of heart; and yet they look upon their sufferings with less pity than they would bestow on those of a horse or a dog.
The wife of old Dr. Flint is an example of someone who goes through the motions of piety, but has a hard heart. Even though Linda was in no way at fault for the attentions of her master, Mrs. Flint has been jealous of her, sometimes going into Linda’s room as she slept, suspecting Linda’s baby belongs to Dr. Flint, and having murderous thoughts toward her.
In fact, to Mrs. Flint, Linda’s pregnancy is proof that Linda has been sleeping with Dr. Flint, and she refuses to believe otherwise–even though the baby’s father is actually Mr. Sands. She threatens to kill Linda.
We must always check our jealousy, whether it has no basis in fact or we actually find our love in bed with someone else, lest it lead us into violent, sinful thoughts and deeds, and bar us from the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, we read that Linda dreads the day’s dinner party. She is to wait on Dr. Flint and his wife along with the other guests. Mrs. Flint has not been to the plantation since Linda moved there, and Linda has not seen her face-to-face for five years; she
had no wish to see her now. She was a praying woman, and, doubtless, considered my present position a special answer to her prayers. Nothing could please her better than to see me humbled and trampled upon. I was just where she would have me–in the power of a hard, unprincipled master.
She did not speak to me when she took her seat at table; but her satisfied, triumphant smile, when I handed her plate, was more eloquent than words.
The old doctor was not so quiet in his demonstrations. He ordered me here and there, and spoke with peculiar emphasis when he said ‘your mistress.’
I was drilled like a disgraced soldier. When all was over, and the last key turned, I sought my pillow, thankful that God had appointed a season of rest for the weary.
You see how jealousy–and believing it to be justified, even when it’s not–causes ugly self-righteousness.
Mrs. Flint believes she has the proof that Linda has been sleeping with Dr. Flint, and lords it over her with great smugness; since the truth is quite different, she looks like a spiteful, vindictive shrew instead.
When Linda is forced to be servile to her, handing her a plate of food, Mrs. Flint shows that she considers it her due, that Linda deserves all she’s gotten, that Linda has been just terrible to her.
But Mrs. Flint has judged without true knowledge, without even trying to find out the truth. She is unapologetic for it. And that is true ugliness.
The wife of young Mr. Flint soon shows her colors. When the monthly slave rations of meat are handed out, a faithful, very old slave hobbles up to get his;
the mistress said he was too old to have any allowance; that when ni****s were too old to work, they ought to be fed on grass. Poor old man! He suffered much before he found rest in the grave.
Yet Scarlett O’Hara said that no one would treat their slaves the way the abolitionists and Northerners had represented…..
Young Mrs. Flint and Linda get along very well for a week. Then old Mrs. Flint comes over and has a long conference with young Mrs. Flint. Linda is allowed to leave the plantation “on one condition,” but old Mrs. Flint doesn’t want her to leave it at all.
“If she had trusted me, as I deserved to be trusted by her, she would have had no fears of my accepting that condition.”
Jealousy clouds our eyes and distorts our reason so that even the innocent seem guilty; it leads us to commit sinful offenses against others.
Young and old Mrs. Flint and old Dr. Flint decide to bring Linda’s children to her; Linda sees right through this, and knows the real reason is not to get her family back together, but to break them all in to “abject submission to our lot as slaves.”
A friend of Linda’s family visits the plantation, and innocently mentions to her that the children are coming; Linda writes that this information “nerved me to immediate action.”
In the middle of the night, Linda runs off. Her children are with her grandmother. She soon finds refuge in the home of a woman who owns slaves but is kind to them. Hidden away in a little attic, Linda can see Dr. Flint going to his office each day.
Thus far I had outwitted him, and I triumphed over it. Who can blame slaves for being cunning? They are constantly compelled to resort to it. It is the only weapon of the weak and oppressed against the strength of their tyrants.
However, in revenge, Dr. Flint thrusts her brother William, her aunt and her two children into jail, swearing that her grandmother will never see them again until Linda is returned. Linda wants to go to them, get them freed, but William sends her a note begging her to stay put.
One day, Linda hears Dr. Flint and the constable in the house, and is terrified when her door opens. But it’s just her benefactress, telling her that Dr. Flint borrowed $500 to go to New York to find her. So for the moment, she is safe.
After Dr. Flint has spent quite a bit of money going on a wild goose chase to find Linda, and on jail costs for Linda’s brother and children, he decides to accept the offer of a slave trader–who is actually there on behalf of Mr. Sands, Linda’s lover. But Dr. Flint doesn’t know that Mr. Sands is involved. The slave trader then rushes to sell them to Mr. Sands, safely out of Dr. Flint’s hands.
Linda’s friends and relatives help her hide in various places, out of Dr. Flint’s hands, for months. Nobody else has any idea where she is, and she’s so well hidden that everyone thinks she’s long gone to the Free States.
She acknowledges that many slaves have had even rougher treatment than she did: cruelly overworked, branded, beaten, bruised, whipped, heel-strings cut, chained to a log while working, torn by bloodhounds.
Still, from street conversations she overhears from her hiding place underneath a roof, Dr. Flint is considered even by white people to be a “d**ned brute.”
Dr. Flint goes off to New York again to find Linda, comes back empty-handed, and when her little boy Benny asks if he found his mommy, threatens to cut off his head.
It’s terrible when someone is so used to raging and using his temper to control people that he (or she) will even scream at a child he thinks is somehow offending him.
Months and seasons pass, yet Linda still stays in her tiny hiding place, barely able to move, exposed to much of the weather, because no chance for safe escape has yet come. She gets very sick, and then her grandmother “broke down under the weight of anxiety and toil.”
Her grandmother is very popular in the neighborhood with the white women because of her baking business; now these women attend on her needs during her illness. Not to be outdone, old Mrs. Flint goes to see her as well, and makes a big show of being so condescending.
Linda’s son has just been badly bitten by a dog, and his wounds sewn up. When Mrs. Flint is informed of why Benny is lame, she says,
“I’m glad of it. I wish he had killed him. It would be good news to send to his mother. Her day will come. The dogs will grab her yet.”
Can you imagine such words from someone who claims to be Christian? and all because she imagined Linda to have designs on her husband, when the truth was she did not?
Linda finally gets some good news: Her grandmother recovers.
Linda’s lover–whom she hasn’t spoken to in a few years–is elected to Congress as the local Whig candidate, despite Dr. Flint’s attempts to turn voters against him. Linda finds a way to get his attention and plead with him to free her children. He promises to do so, and to look for a way to buy her as well.
Linda has been living scrunched up in this tiny part of her grandmother’s house for several years now. She arranges for two letters written by her to be carried up to and mailed from New York, to Dr. Flint and her grandmother. She claims to be living at a certain address in Boston. Her grandmother knows about the ruse.
Dr. Flint goes to her grandmother with the letter addressed to her, and reads it to her–only it’s not Linda’s letter. It’s actually a fake letter he wrote, saying that Linda regrets running away and wants to return. Dr. Flint wants to send Linda’s uncle to find her, but he doesn’t want to go.
Dr. Flint prefers not to go, either, since the laws in Massachusetts make it a difficult place to retrieve a runaway slave. He writes to the mayor of Boston, but gets no response.
Meanwhile, after almost 5 years of living cramped in that tiny dark hole between the slanted roof and the inside wall, Linda is in danger of becoming permanently crippled. So she begins going down to the storeroom for a few hours every morning.
She passes over the years so quickly in her writing, but imagine how long and grueling they must have been for her! She can only hear her children’s voices, not see them or cuddle them or kiss them goodnight.
In her hiding place, she is so cramped she can barely move, has to stay in bed, and is exposed to heat and cold. She suffers illness because of this, and now is in danger of losing the use of her limbs permanently.
Yet her friends and family still have found no way for her to safely escape.
Linda’s former lover, Mr. Sands–after she’s been in the hiding place for several years–has now gotten married to somebody else. I wonder if it broke her heart, but she says nothing about this.
Instead, she wonders if he’ll still keep his promise to free her children, especially now that her brother William, his servant, has gotten his freedom while they traveled up north.
William soon writes to his family that Mr. Sands always treated him kindly, but he always wanted to be free. Mr. Sands is a bit miffed, though not bitter or resentful, since he planned to set him free in five years anyway. But William knew plans could change, and wanted to take his chance while he could.
Linda records a longer note for Mr. Sands, including good wishes, God’s blessings for his kindness, begging forgiveness, etc. William’s own record of the note says, “Sir–I have left you, not to return; when I have got settled, I will give you further satisfaction. No longer yours, John S. Jacobs [his real name].” I especially love how he signs it.
Dr. Flint’s family heard about this, of course, and laughed.
Mrs. Flint made her usual manifestations of Christian feeling, by saying, “I’m glad of it. I hope he’ll never get him again. I like to see people paid back in their own coin.
“I reckon Linda’s children will have to pay for it. I should be glad to see them in the speculator’s hands again, for I’m tired of seeing those little ni—rs march about the streets.”
Such a spiteful woman–I hope she plagued Dr. Flint’s heart out.
Mrs. Flint’s spite and vengeance know no bounds: She decides to tell the new Mrs. Sands who is the father of Linda’s children (thereby stirring up trouble and jealousy in the Sands household as well as her own).
She also wants to tell her “what an artful devil I was; that I had made a great deal of trouble in her family; that when Mr. Sands was at the north, she didn’t doubt I had followed him in disguise, and persuaded William to run away.”
It’s a clear case of the bully claiming to be the victim and engaging in a little character assassination.
Mr. Sands beats her to it, however. He and his wife meet little Benny in the street, he tells her he’s the father of Benny and Ellen and that the mother is dead, and now she wants to see them.
She and her sister want to adopt the children, but Linda is so scarred by slavery that she trusts neither of them; she fears that they would eventually sell the children if they fell on hard times.
Linda sends a message through her grandmother to Mr. Sands that she is not dead and wants them freed; he says they are indeed free, but they’d be better off in the north, because Dr. Flint is saying they still belong to his young daughter, who was not old enough to consent to the sale.
So they send Ellen to live with Mr. Sands’ relatives in Long Island, and go to school, with Benny going to the North with his uncle soon after. Mrs. Flint, of course, is not happy.
Harriet A. Jacobs was a negro slave in the 19th century, using the fake name “Linda” for herself.
Page 40 is making me angry on Harriet’s behalf. After all the sexual harassment he’s made her put up with, and other psychological abuses as well, her master has refused to allow her to marry the free black man she loves.
She’s upset; he hits her; she cries, “I despise you!”
In response he says,
Do you think any other master would bear what I have borne from you this morning? Many masters would have killed you on the spot. How would you like to be sent to jail for your insolence?
And he accuses her of ingratitude for all his supposed “kindness and forbearance.”
Harriet, I’ve never been a slave, but I have been where you are. I just want to slap that slaveowner.
Some of us have truly done favors out of the kindness of our hearts, only to have those favors spat upon; we have a right to claim ingratitude. But this guy is the type who wants to make you think you owe him something so he can have control over you.
And appeals to these hypothetical “others,” the Grand Society who would treat you far worse for what you have supposedly done, to make you think you should be grateful for the “mild” way he’s abused you.
He’s “only” yelled and screamed at you. Or “only” hit you. Or “only” cussed at and belittled you for your horrible behavior. This guy is a real piece of work. 😛
And she has no one to go to for help, of course, since she’s his property.
Don’t you dare go and tell anybody how I’ve treated you. Don’t tell your mother I touched you like this. Or don’t tell the police I’m slapping you around.
Abusers of any stripe deserve to be brought into the light and their deeds exposed.
Here we have a real-life depiction of slavery, from a real-life slave. So incredibly different from the fictional Gone With the Wind, written at a time far removed from slavery, from the point of view of slave owners, even though it was based on stories told to Margaret Mitchell by relatives who lived during that time.
So when Mitchell writes that slavery was nowhere near as bad as the abolitionist propaganda, whom are you going to believe?
And here’s the meat of it: The slaveowner, Dr. Flint, says,
I will be lenient towards you, Linda. I will give you one more chance to redeem your character. If you behave yourself and do as I require, I will forgive you and treat you as I always have done; but if you disobey me, I will punish you as I would the meanest slave on my plantation.
Then he proceeds to forbid her even mentioning her love’s name again. And we know what he means by obeying him: Not only must she shut out of her life the one she wanted to marry, but we just know Dr. Flint is going to expect her to become his mistress.
Contradicting Gone With the Wind, this real-life slave writes on p. 49-52,
I could tell of more slaveholders as cruel as those I have described. They are not exceptions to the general rule.
I do not say there are no humane slaveholders. Such characters do exist, notwithstanding the hardening influences around them. But they are ‘like angels’ visits–few and far between.’…
I can testify, from my own experience and observation, that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks. It makes the white fathers cruel and sensual; the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters, and makes the wives wretched.
And as for the colored race, it needs an abler pen than mine to describe the extremity of their sufferings, the depth of their degradation.
On pages 58 to 62, after she has become pregnant from Mr. Sands, a white friend of her family–hoping to so enrage Dr. Flint that he will sell her to her lover–Linda once again stands in front of her master after an estrangement.
He says that though she has been criminal towards him, he can pardon her if she obeys him. She says, “I have sinned against God and myself, but not against you.” In response, he curses her.
As the classic abuser, he claims that he has been lenient, that he might have whipped her to death. He says that her “mistress, disgusted by your conduct, forbids you to return to the house.”
Because, apparently, sleeping with a man she loves, after her master has forbidden her to marry, is just so disgusting, and because she deserves whatever she gets.
He says her “ingratitude chafes me beyond endurance. You turn aside all my good intentions towards you. I don’t know what it is that keeps me from killing you.”
Then he negotiates with a “friendly proposition” which is far more advantageous to him than to her: If she will cut off all communication with the father of her child, her master will “forgive” her “insolence and crime” and take care of her and her child; she must promise at once, and this is the last act of “mercy” he will show her.
Her lover is willing to buy her and take care of her child, which would be a far better state than the one she is in now, and Dr. Flint has cursed her and her child, so of course she scorns the “friendly proposition.”
He says that “a woman who had sunk to my level had no right to expect anything else. He asked, for the last time, would I accept his kindness? I answered that I would not.”
Very well, then take the consequences of your wayward course. Never look to me for help. You are my slave, and shall always be my slave. I will never sell you, that you may depend upon.
So her hopes are dashed because she refuses to give in to her master’s cruel demands. And, of course, her master considers it to be her fault, not his for making such unreasonable demands on her.
She is bedridden for some time. Forbidden to have any doctor but her master, she has no doctor at all; when her illness grows worse, he is sent for, but she screams as soon as he enters the room. So he leaves again.
She finally gives birth to a boy, who is premature–4 pounds–and both mother and child are sick for the following year. Yet he lives into his 30s, which is far more than we could have expected for a child like him of his time.
Dr. Flint looks after her health, and does not fail “to remind me that my child was an addition to his stock of slaves.”
He sends her brother William to bring constant notes to her. Since the subject of his notes in the past has been the various ways she could please him sexually, she doesn’t need to tell us what these notes are about.
One day, she hides herself from Dr. Flint when he comes to see her. He leaves, sending William with a note demanding to see her, and she goes. He
demanded to know where I was when he called. I told him I was at home. He flew into a passion, and said he knew better. Then he launched out upon his usual themes,–my crimes against him, and my ingratitude for his forbearance.
The laws were laid down to me anew, and I was dismissed. I felt humiliated that my brother should stand by, and listen to such language as would be addressed only to a slave.
Because her brother, powerless to defend her, begins to weep for her, the doctor is irritated.
Just as with any abuser, because the third party–friend, family member–feels for the abused, in the eyes of the abuser he can do nothing right.
The master’s abuse of Linda now spills over onto her brother simply because he sees and recognizes the abuse. William is yelled at and put into jail for coming later than usual to the office.
William asks to be sold, which incenses his master, who says he was put there to reflect and has shown no evidence of repentance. Because his master can’t handle the office work without him, he lets him out, but “with many threats, if he was not careful about his future behavior.”
It is dangerous to show any sign of contempt or shock at an abuser’s behavior. I have seen for myself what can happen, and have been punished for it, so I feel for William as well as Linda.
The baby finally grows healthy after a year. Linda writes,
His father caressed him and treated him kindly, whenever he had a chance to see him.
He was not unwilling that he should bear his name; but he had no legal claim to it; and if I had bestowed it upon him, my master would have regarded it as a new crime, a new piece of insolence, and would, perhaps, revenge it on the boy.
O, the serpent of Slavery has many and poisonous fangs!
In Chapter XVI, Dr. Flint gives Linda a choice between a cottage for herself and her children–supposedly “merciful,” but she knows better, that there would be no escape from him there–or his son’s plantation and slavery for her children.
Typically putting the responsibility for his lack of anger management on other people, he claims that her willfulness drove him to be harsh with her before, and, “You know I exact obedience from my own children, and I consider you as yet a child.” (Note that Linda was already in her early 20s.)
She chooses the plantation. In the editor’s notes to the book, we read:
Norcom [Flint] was a loving and dominating husband and father. In his serious and sophisticated interest in medicine, his commitment as a physician, and his educated discourse, he appears unlike the villain Jacobs portrays.
But his humorlessness, his egoism, his insistently controlling relationships with his wife and children, and particularly with his daughters–for example his obdurate response to the disobedience of his beloved daughter Mary Matilda, mentioned in Chapter XLI–suggest the portrait Jacobs draws.
This impression is supported by his quarrelsomeness with his neighbors and his unforgiving fury against those he viewed as enemies. It is underscored by his admitted passionate responses to women. (p. 274)
Flint’s son, Mr. Flint, is no better. In fact, he says that his father should have “broke her in long ago.” He whips women and children slaves so much that the spirits of the mothers have been too broken to intervene.
Linda’s son was left behind due to illness; she was obliged to bring her daughter along, but was not allowed to take proper care of her. The poor little child was left alone.
Keep in mind that her brother was not even five, so she was no older than a toddler. Finally, Linda sent the child to her grandmother, and excused this to Mr. Flint by claiming the girl was sick.
But through all of this, Linda had a plan she would not disclose to anyone: of securing freedom for herself and her children.
For most of the last week (August 4-9, 2011), my husband Cugan, my son Daniel and I were in Knoxville, Tennessee visiting Cugan’s parents. This is the travelogue:
We are now down in Tennessee visiting Cugan’s parents. Daniel got his first ride on a plane yesterday, but hated it: First our flight was so delayed that we couldn’t possibly make our connection, so we were switched to a different flight. Then they switched us back with a different connection, but we’d lost our seats–and ended up in steerage, next to the engine, no window, but tons of racket. Made my travel-migraine much worse, our stomachs went up and down with the plane–just awful. 😛
But the second plane was much better, right behind first class, very little airsickness, and Daniel got to watch out a window as the nighttime lights fell away below us…and the moon rose….
The layover was also much better than originally planned. We originally had only an hour to get through the massive Atlanta airport, not enough time for dinner. That airport is lots bigger than the one in Milwaukee, requiring trains to get from one concourse to another. But this time, we got to have dinner and recover from our airsickness in the cool AC.
And I saw sitting across from us a little boy about Daniel’s age. I encouraged him to go over and play, and the two became fast friends: The other boy, Jonathan, was like Daniel’s Spanish-speaking counterpart. They spoke different languages but played the same things the same way, had similar toys.
And it showed Daniel the value of learning Spanish, which he’s been working on with my BYKI.com software. They both had lego guys, cars, DS game systems. LOL
It’s funny that I just digitized one of Cugan’s Blue Öyster Cult tapes onto the computer, because this state reminds me of “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” with its mountains, hillbilly history and Lover’s Leap on Lookout Mountain.
Today we went to Gatlinburg, an hour from Knoxville, where Cugan’s parents live. Kitschy establishments everywhere! There’s even a “Hatfield vs. McCoy” dinner theater, the building made to look like a couple of hillbilly shacks. They really play up the hillbilly thing in these parts.
But we weren’t there for the kitsch. First we went to–what was it called, Bubba Gump Shrimp or something like that. It’s a restaurant based on Bubba’s shrimp business, which later became Forrest’s, on “Forrest Gump.”
Not only do they have Forrest Gump stuff everywhere–quotes all over the tables, Gump memorabilia, menu items named after characters–but the server does movie trivia as you eat. You put up a sign saying “Stop Forrest Stop” if you want service. If you don’t, you put up a sign saying “Run Forrest Run.”
After that, we went to the aquarium. Usual aquarium stuff, but the shark tank was set up with classical music and a moving sidewalk (very disorienting, especially with my nasty migraine, but if you’re feeling healthy it’s supposed to fill you with awe), and the tank actually went over your head. You could look up and see sharks resting over your head and swimming over you.
The African penguin section allowed children to go in these tubes to see the penguins up-close, but still from protective glass, so of course Daniel went in there. There were two petting areas: One for horseshoe crabs, the other for stingrays.
I got to pet a horseshoe crab, but the stingrays were just too far away. It was hard to bend over the wall, and the stingrays always went just beyond my reach, though some of them did seem to come over to me on purpose.
And, of course, to get out of the aquarium you HAD to go through the gift shop. It was actually a rule: You were blocked from going anywhere else but through the greatest part of the gift shop. Yeah, we knew why that rule was there. LOL
We’re talking Chattanooga tomorrow. I hope to go to Lookout Mountain and the Civil War display there, along with the cave and Lover’s Leap.
I went there with my family as a kid, though I forget how old I was. Possibly teens or late childhood. I also remember going to the Coca-Cola museum; I’m not sure where exactly it is in Tennessee, but hope to show it to Daniel.
I must show him a cave before we leave this state! Not only do I want him to see the awesomeness that is caves, but I haven’t seen a cave for probably 10 years. Here in the mountains there are probably lots of caves!
Too bad the airsickness and migraine have combined to make the trip more grueling than it otherwise would have been. It’s also very hot here right now: The car thermometer read 98 degrees at one point. 😛 I like cooler weather. I don’t want to ever move down South or West.
Turns out Chattanooga is some four hours away, so unfortunately, we won’t be going there.
Today we went to the Cherokee Caverns, a cave near Oak Ridge where they did the Manhattan Project during WWII. It’s not far from Knoxville, out in the wilderness.
They do public tours only four times a year, and today was the day for this time of year. There were a bunch of people there. A cute young guy led our group through the little cave.
It was pretty, and has some interesting history. There is evidence that Cherokees used it, such as river cane torch marks (stoke marks) in places where they would have rubbed their torches to relight them, and they would have found flint and other things they needed in there.
The cave is also made into a Haunted Cave periodically, so they also have two manmade wonders: a “vortex tunnel,” a spinning black tunnel with colored spots which makes you feel disoriented, and an alligator-shaped formation.
It was used for filming during one of the Christy movies, when she was lost in a cave. The guide showed us where the crew filled up a part of the cave with water and then drained it.
He also told us that during the 80s, a biker gang used it for parties and hanging out. They damaged it in various places, such as one spot where some idiot shot a stalactite (did it hit him in the eye when it fell, I wonder?), another spot where they burned a bunch of tires as a last hurrah before leaving the cave, and tiremarks here and there.
Also, when one large floor was excavated to make the cave handicap accessible, they found some bear skeletons.
After that we went to the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum. It wasn’t just a play area, but had actual museum pieces and log cabins to show how people used to live in the Appalachians, and how people lived who worked on the Manhattan Project.
Through this display, I learned why some of the Weather Channel people pronounce “Appalachians” so strange: In the North, it’s “AppaLAYshuns,” as we say it around here. In the South, it’s “AppaLATCHans,” as they say it on the Weather Channel.
Daniel had a lot of fun playing with various displays, especially the toy boats and trains, and didn’t want to leave, but it was almost closing time. We got caught in a sudden rainstorm on the way out.
The clerks at the Children’s Museum told us about the houses nearby, which Cugan’s dad asked about, saying they looked a lot alike. They were used by the workers in the Manhattan Project–A houses, B houses, C houses, etc.–and are now private dwellings which people modify as needed. To this day people refer to them as A houses, B houses, C houses, etc.
The government kept the town a secret until after WWII. Workers on the Manhattan Project didn’t even know it had anything to do with the atomic bomb.
Today we visited the Museum of Appalachia near Knoxville. It has relics and actual or replicated buildings from old Appalachian settlements.
With all the steep pathways and the heat and humidity, it’s not surprising that Daniel started to complain. But it wasn’t surprising that they spent most of their time outside: The stifling buildings were even worse.
One hut, belonging to an old bachelor, was a teeny tiny room that just fit a bed, a stove and some other things. A dorm room was palatial compared to this, even the closet-room belonging to a friend of mine who lived in the men’s dorm at Roanoke College.
One cabin belonged to Mark Twain’s parents, and was only a bit larger, with a loft. Yet another cabin had large rooms and two stories, along with a richly-carved mantel.
There were peacocks running around and filling the air with their cries. There were sheep and large roosters. Inside the display buildings you could see various pieces used by actual mountain people from the late 1800s and early 1900s, from toys and beds to musical instruments, caskets, a hearse….
There was a tiny church, making you wonder how they could sit in that stifling room dressed in 19th-century Sunday best. There was a one-room schoolhouse with two outhouses, one for boys and one for girls.
The outhouses were big enough to move around comfortably, though one-seaters, and could easily hold a coat and a water basin. I always wonder about such things.
We stopped at the little restaurant/cafe for refreshment, and found Coke in old-fashioned 8-oz. glass bottles.
There was, of course, a hut with a still and other whiskey-making implements. The write-up told about a guy called Popcorn Sutton, a mountain man who was famous for making moonshine. The dates given were in the 2000s! He died only two years ago!
So I asked, and was told that some people still live like this in the mountains, that these aren’t just relics from the past like the Galloway House.
After a little Googling it appears that there have been many improvements and modernizations in the rural areas of the region, there are now trailers and more modern houses and cars and schools and modern clothes and household implements, but the mountain people are still desperately poor.
So the same lack of running water and electricity, ramshackle houses, outhouses, poor medical care, and other such things still exist among many. And they still carry on the culture and music of their ancestors.
In the evening, Cugan and I went on a little date by ourselves, first dinner at a restaurant then the latest Harry Potter movie. On the way home, finally I could see the Appalachian mountains at night, a beautiful scene I haven’t seen since my family visited my brothers in North Carolina in 1990: the mountains black, lurking shadows against the dark gray of the night sky.
Today we went to Dollyworld, an amusement park which was bought out by Dolly Parton and made into a big marketing thing for her: her music playing everywhere, Dolly’s fashions sold in a shop, things like that. The narcissism was amusing.
But there was lots to do, shops to visit, rides for Daniel, a candy shop, a train going through the park but also around the mountain with various replicas of hillbilly life/buildings (including a moonshine still) circa the 19th century.
There were also various shows; we went to a 40-minute musical with dancers, which went through local history from Cherokees to the Scottish-Irish settlers to the 19th century culture to Depression-era changes. There were even 4 guys, playing Cherokees, who flew over the audience and ended up right over us on a stage contraption. Daniel was amazed at that part.
Rayford and his extended Tribulation Force would continue what he called Operation Eagle. The name was inspired by the prophecy in Revelation 12:14:
“The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah, spiritual mentor of the Tribulation Force, taught that the “woman” represented God’s chosen people; the “two wings,” land and air; “her place,” Petra–the city of stone; ” a time,” one year–thus “a time and times and half a time” to be three and a half years; and the “serpent,” Antichrist.
But according to the Orthodox Study Bible, this passage is both historical and futuristic at the same time. The woman’s flight in verse 6, which describes her place prepared by God in the wilderness, where she will be fed for 1260 days,
may refer to the flight of the Jerusalem church (embodying true Israel) to Pella before the outbreak of the Roman war. It illustrates there is no place for the Church in this age.
The 1260 days, or three and a half years, is the classic period of apocalyptic woe (see 11:2): as bad as it is, it is temporary, not the end of things.
At verse 11:2, the OSB also explains that “time, times and half a time” or “42 months” or “1260 days” is one-half of seven and symbolizes “what is not full or final but temporary, incomplete.” The wings in v. 14 refer
to the original Exodus, as the flood [verse 15, sent by the dragon] may also be the threat of drowning in the Red Sea. However, Satan is unable to prevail.
The Jewish Church safely completes its exodus and is preserved during its apocalyptic period. And the Church in general will be preserved: the gates of hell cannot prevail against her.
So what Ben-Judah interpreted so literally and minutely to refer to leading all the believers to Petra by land and air transport, where God will tend to them while Nicolae sends troops against them, was really just meant as an allegory to show that God will ultimately prevail in Satan’s attacks on the Church.
But somehow, Ben-Judah sees a specific place (Petra) and airplanes, helicopters, cars, etc. in these verses.
On page 15, somehow Buck and Chaim start reciting the Genesis passage in which God calls Moses to be his mouthpiece, with Buck as the voice of God and Chaim as Moses. It’s a weird passage, with no justification I can see for why Chaim would be Moses. It just seems to be a sudden conviction for the both of them.
But why Moses? Where does it say in Revelations that some guy will be chosen to be Moses? Moses was already reincarnated, his own self, as Moishe, one of the prophets at the Wailing Wall.
It seems rather presumptuous to presume that Chaim is Moses and this Genesis passage should apply to him, or that Buck should speak for God, or that Chaim should do miracles like Moses.
At the end of The Mark, we read that Chaim is supposed to “lead the remnant of Israel and additional tribulation saints to the promised land of safety” as “a latter-day Moses.” The authors are really stretching here.
On pages 231 to 236 of The Mark, Tsion tells Chaim about his calling to be Moses and stand up to the Antichrist, that he’ll be provided manna, his clothes will not wear out, and God will protect him as he leads the people.
This takes the above-referenced Revelation passage to an extreme, and as usual, Tsion is strangely sure of something that is nowhere so explicitly laid out in the Bible.
He’s just stringing together passages that have nothing to do with each other, over something that’s meant to be allegorical. On the one hand he’s taking that passage far too literally, but on the other hand not literally, because he’s adding all sorts of things to it.
The funny thing is, after Tsion and Buck have convinced Chaim that he’s Moses, we read on page 18, after Chaim has asked (like Moses) for somebody else to be sent, “But there was no Aaron. Tsion was at the safe house, not having felt led to help in person.”
Easy excuse! (“Sorry, I don’t feel God’s leading. You have to do it, though it was my idea.”)
Then we read further: “The only other member of the Trib Force with Jewish blood, though he had grown up in Poland, was David Hassid, and he had his own special skills and assignment.”
Which may be true, but why does the “Moses” have to be Jewish? And what does being Polish have to do with it? Tsion just seems to be pulling stuff out of his butt lately.
On page 19 is more unintentional humor as David–probably referring to his laptop–tells Leah to pull over because he has a message from Tsion, one to send to Chang, and “It’s too hard with this thing bouncing in my lap.” Excuse me, what’s too hard?
Hey–page 25 has another “Buck was struck”! Haven’t seen those for a while.
On page 55, Hattie the whore-turned-annoying saint has now turned into a prophet, confronting the Antichrist in the same way any woman wants to confront the jerk who impregnated her, promised to marry her, and then tossed her aside like some clingy lady obsessed with marriage:
“Liars! Blasphemers! Antichrist! False Prophet! [etc. etc.]…Yours is the empty, vain tongue of the damned!”
And just like any man who doesn’t want to take responsibility for what he’s done, he has Fortunato point his finger at her, call down a fireball, and burn her to a crisp.
So much for any shippers who wanted Ray to be with Hattie now that both his wives are gone/dead and it wouldn’t be an affair.
On page 151-3, we find an interesting letter sent from Hannah Palemoon to David Hassid. David has just lost his fiancée when she got burned to a crisp, so the relationship between them is just friendship, but a close friendship.
He decided to go one way while the group went another, but didn’t even mention it to her first; she wrote him an e-mail about it, then she anxiously awaited his reply….
I know how she feels, after being left out of so many things by a person I considered my best friend for several years, or, as Hannah put it, “My friend, my buddy, the one I assumed I would lean on, is gone, just like that.”
But David is a much better friend than mine, because he responds to her e-mail, and does it kindly, reassuring her of his friendship. However, tragically, she gets the response after he’s already been killed by GC Peacekeepers. This is a little subplot which got me anxiously turning pages to see what happened.
On page 162-4, Nicolae has allowed a new Jewish temple to be built–just so he can desecrate it by riding and then butchering a large pig right in the Holy of Holies, then flings blood at the altar.
The Slacktivites, or regular commenters on the Slacktivist’s Left Behind blogs, have mentioned and laughed about this scene many times, so now, finally, I can read it, in all its bloody grotesqueness.
On page 168, Nicolae–who has, of course, offended a mob of Orthodox Jews by desecrating their temple–is now facing a riotous, “mutinous multitude.”
But Chaim, who has taken on the new persona of “Micah” (an anagram) and the powers of Moses, tells the mob in his strangely stilted and melodramatic wording, “It is not the due time for the man of sin to face judgment, though it is clear he has been revealed!”
Of course not, because–as Slacktivist reminds us from time to time–it doesn’t fit with the prophecy.
We see more of this stilted language on page 245, when an angel says to Rayford, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? Be of good cheer! Do not be afraid.”
It’s as if the authors (and many other authors as well) expect angels, prophets, etc. in modern times to speak in King James language, even though the language of the King James Bible fits the time in which the translation was written.
I would expect an angel in the 21st century to speak in the language of 21st century people so they can understand him more easily: “Why are you so afraid? Why don’t you have faith? Cheer up, and don’t be scared!”
On page 233, Tsion has written another missive to his Web flock, and he writes,
If you choose Christ, pray this prayer with me: Dear God, I am a sinner and separated from you. I believe Jesus is the Messiah and that he died on the cross to pay for my sins. I believe he rose again the third day and that by receiving his gift of love I will have the power to become a son of God because I believe on his name. Thank you for hearing me and saving me, and I pledge the rest of my life to you.
But–but–where is the repentance of those sins, and asking for forgiveness of them? As for Christ dying on the cross to pay for our sins–I won’t get into that, but the theology is not quite Orthodox. I do, however, go into this subject in depth here.
On page 263, the seas have turned to blood, so now every “species of aquatic life” is dying. So we have more death, even of innocent animals. These books are an orgy of death!
On page 315, we have yet another scene of a believer, Chang this time, being snotty to unbelieving co-workers. These scenes do get old after a while. What part of being a believer makes it okay to treat your fellow man like crap?
On page 324, Chaim pulls out an urn full of Hattie’s ashes, and gives it to Rayford for safekeeping, saying that he hopes to one day toss them into the wind from a high place at Petra, as “We do not worship the remains of those who go to God before us.” This is obviously a dig against the Catholics and Orthodox, who venerate relics of saints.
On page 363, Chaim gets to do his Moses thing some more by prophesying and raising his arms as quail, manna and water are provided to the Christians at Petra, same as to the Israelites in the desert.
On page 365, as the Tribulation Force gathers to count its losses (Hattie and David), Rayford shows the urn and Hannah passes around David’s phone. (She passes around his phone? Why would she do that? What, more phone worship?)
On page 366, Carpathia happily proclaims himself in a high-level meeting to be Anti-Jew. On page 369, he describes what are, essentially, concentration camps for Jews found without the Mark.
But would the world actually stand for this? Certain Middle Eastern countries would, but much of the world sees anti-semitism as evil, sees anything associated with the Nazis as evil.
On page 385, there is a little disagreement during a Trib Force meeting, between Chloe and Rayford. We read, “Rayford looked to Buck, not wanting to be parental when Chloe’s husband was right there.” Then Buck takes her hand and says, “Don’t talk yourself out of an interesting assignment.”
So–the men had to keep the unruly woman in line, the woman who had other opinions on what should happen, the woman who disagreed with the leader, and since her husband was there, he had the job to squelch his wife’s objections? Otherwise Daddy had to do it, to a grown woman? Ugh!
On page 405, Carpathia’s minions are about to wipe out all the believers at Petra. We won’t find out what happens until the next book.
First, the local newspaper reported Richard’s summons on their website’s weekly court cases.
Every week (except for the week Richard was convicted, naturally), they post mug shots and details of selected court cases in the county.
The week of 3/4/11, there was his mug shot for all to see, and what he did, along with his confession. There was no mistaking that was Richard.
But the week of his plea/sentencing hearing, they posted nothing. So I had to get details from the state’s court website. Finally, today, 11/11/11, the newspaper printed in the “Day in Court” section:
Richard —-, [address], one year probation, [fine], battery.
It’s heartening to see that his sentence was actually worse than similar convictions in that section. The person below him got battery (domestic abuse, repeater) and disorderly conduct (domestic abuse), and two years probation, but a much smaller fine.
Another person was charged with battery and also paid a smaller fine, no probation or jail.
Another person got battery (domestic abuse), one year probation, and a much smaller fine.
Apparently, the local courts are trying to keep people out of jail, getting money from fees rather than paying money for their room and board in prison.
When I look at his mug shot, I try to identify his demeanor: Angry at his daughter for turning him in? Angry at the police? Sheepish? I just can’t figure it out.
I can pick up many body language cues these days, but nuances still can elude me. Sometimes I think he looks upset with himself for getting himself into this mess, and hope that means he’s willing to change.
But lately, when I look at it, I think he looks angry. My husband agrees.
And that disturbs me, because why should he be angry if he’s truly sorry for what he did? Why did he plead no contest instead of guilty, even though the newspaper website stated that he did confess after his daughter reported him? Is he or is he not taking responsibility for his actions?
My husband thinks he’s angry because he doesn’t think the government should be telling him how to raise his kids. I wonder why it took five months for the police to charge him, when his daughter reported him the next day.
But she was a brave little girl, doing what so many abused children do not do, whether because they’re brainwashed into thinking their parents are just disciplining them and they deserve it, or because they’re too scared to report their parents and enrage them further.
But there you go. The public knows thanks to the newspaper. (No, “Richard” is not his real name.) And because the public knows, he must know that Hubby and I know, and I hope the thought shames him.
I thought he was cool. I thought he was awesome. I thought he was gentle, godly and pious. I thought he was fun to be around, and would never hurt his own children, other than one time when they were little.
But now everybody knows the truth. How was I so fooled?
We are not to blame. His wife is most likely borderline personality disordered/malignant narcissist, making all her opinions of me worthless.
(Borderline is described by NAMI as a serious mental illness, her mother has it, and she was abused herself as a child, making her higher-risk for developing it.)
[Update 5/10/14: I have since learned of a borderline spectrum. She is more likely to be high-functioning borderline, which is more under control but less likely to recognize one’s own emotional instability–and also more likely to be narcissistic as well.]
Besides her behavior which matches everything I read about borderline, I witnessed her hanging half her body out of their van as Richard drove along the street, very dangerous behavior which I’m told is common with borderlines. One of the traits of BPD is impulsive and reckless behavior, and this may also be considered suicidal or self-harming behavior, another trait.
Richard, as well, could be personality disordered/narcissistic, especially from living with someone with BPD traits.
Nobody who was not disordered in some way, would betray and threaten friends who had been extremely kind to him, or choke a child within an inch of her life.
My mind is still reeling from the juxtaposition of what I thought he was and what he’s been proven to be.
I figured Social Services (or CPS) was involved, because they work together with law enforcement on child abuse cases.
But there on that page was proof that Social Services is indeed involved here, that they set rules which the court ordered to be obeyed as conditions for Richard’s bond:
Signature bond set
Follow rules of informal agreement of DSS. Fingerprints and photo.
[Update 2/2/15: DSS is an acronym for “Department of Social Services”: See here, where “DSS” is used in the address and e-mail address for the department, which includes protection of children.
The use of an “informal agreement” for a case that has been charged in court is confusing, because the description here is,
If the case is handled informally an Informal Agreement is signed outlining rules of supervision and appropriate services for the family. This signed contract means that the case does not go to court and is in effect for six months.
The family may or may not continue to work with the Dept. of Social Services beyond the initial six months depending on whether or not the informal agreement was satisfactorily met.
But the above does not fit the actual court case AT ALL. First of all, contrary to the above description, it DID go to court.
If the court has made following the agreement a condition of bail, and a criminal charge has now been made, it no longer fits the above description. It sounds more like Court-Ordered Supervision.
Since it took more than four months for the charges to be filed, I wonder if they made an informal agreement but broke it–then got charged and forced to follow it. I also suspect the rules of probation, which were not stipulated online, were to follow this agreement.
Also, the charges were formally made on the same day I sent a letter to Social Services describing Richard’s own abuses: He told me he put the kids in the closet and smacks them on the head. I often wonder if the results of the investigation into that letter, were used in the court case, which took seven months from initial appearance to conviction.]
So they’re working with the family, and Social Services also has a letter I wrote (completely separate from this case, which I did not know about at the time), so they know what I know.
So I do hope that in time, conditions will turn around in this family, that Richard and Tracy will learn how to control their anger and stop the abuse, and some sort of friendship will be possible between us again–though only if the past can be dropped and I can be allowed to be myself.
Because I want to be back in the lives of the precious little children whom I felt led to protect with that letter to Social Services.
Because I hate having enemies, especially ones who were once friends.
It helps that I have not used their real names, and that I did not publicly shame them. That Richard did it himself–and now his name is in the paper as convicted of battery, and on the newspaper’s website and the online database as a child abuser.
He screwed up his own life and dreams.
According to my priest, he’ll never be ordained now that he has this on his record.
Any political aspirations would be cut short as soon as the media dug it up, and any potential employers can Google his name and find his online case file on the very first page. [2/2/15: I’m told that employers are allowed to refuse to hire someone with abuse on their record, if it would affect the job.]
He has no one to blame for his public shame but himself.
(Update 11/15/11): Until October, I hadn’t cried over this for many, many months. But the depression is back. The sadness keeps weighing me down like a lead blanket.
Seeing his name in the newspaper court records on Friday, has put me into a funk again.
I can’t help crying at what he’s done, how many people he’s hurt: his former friend Todd, his little girl, Hubby, me, numerous people in his past.
The proof is there–I need no more evidence–that he has done a horrible thing, been convicted of it.
It’s no dream, no fantasy I dreamed up.
He did such a bad thing that Social Services was involved before they even got my letter, giving him rules that the court ordered him to follow.
This guy was my friend. I thought he was such a pious, gentle, harmless person, who loves his little children dearly and wants to protect them, who would never harm me, either.
I went to him with spiritual and religious questions, as a fellow searcher who had already found his path. He guided me every step of the way until I found my way into Orthodoxy, helped keep me there even when the fundamentalist converts on the Net made me waver.
He even offered to be my godfather if I decided to be chrismated (made Orthodox). (I said no because he was a man my age, so it would be too weird.)
He had a similar religious background to mine, so we both had dealt with many of the same things in our old churches. I saw him as my spiritual mentor.
Now I see someone I’m afraid of, whom I once loved as my best friend.
Someone who nearly killed his daughter, someone who went along with his wife’s abuse of me and began bullying me as well to save his own skin.
Someone whose circumstances I kept crying over and trying to help with, only to be tossed away like an annoyance for some petty thing.
Things like this don’t just go away overnight; you don’t just forget them.
Breakups with boyfriends in college and the funk they put me into, seem like nothing compared to the betrayal and loss of someone I considered my best friend forever, someone who had my back, only to turn around and stab me in it.
I still keep hoping that one day–especially if Social Services succeeds in helping him turn his life around, counsels him on anger management and parenting and such–that he will come to us and repent of what he’s done to us.
Because despite everything, despite my anger and disappointment with him, despite how I feel about his politics and his opinions on NVLD, a part of me still wants my friend back.
(Update 11/26/11): Another examination of the mug shot, along with some googling for how to identify facial expressions, reveals a more disturbing interpretation: not just anger, but also contempt.
The rest of his face looks angry, and one corner of his mouth curves down–but one corner of his mouth curves slightly upwards, causing just enough wrinkling to look like the beginning of a smile. In other words, a sneer.
The other basic emotions all have basic facial symmetry, but contempt shows on only one side of the face. And while both his eyebrows curve downward in the middle, one side of his face definitely looks different from the other, and he’s looking down.
Everything I read says this is a classic contempt expression.
Contempt? Contempt for whom? You’ve just been summoned to court for nearly killing your daughter, and your face shows both anger and contempt?
“Guilt, shame, and contempt are each based on meeting expectations: Guilt: I did not meet your moral standards and expectations, Shame: I did not meet my own standards of behavior, and Contempt: you did not meet my moral standards and expectations” —(http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/contempt.htm).
This is extremely disturbing! If he were angry at himself, his face would show shame, not contempt. Contempt means he’s angry at somebody else–but he’s the one who did the terrible deed! Who is he angry at? Who did not meet his moral standards and expectations?
Researching “contempt” also brings to mind Tracy’s claims of feeling snubbed. Well, if she felt snubbed or like I felt contempt because I was reacting to her many acts of abuse of Richard and/or the children while I was right there–well, it’s her own fault!
If you verbally or physically abuse somebody right in front of me, what other expression (other than surprise or fear or being appalled) could I rightfully assume, in all justice toward the victim of bullying and abuse?
(Update 12/4/11): It’s also baffling to see things turn out like this. In the beginning, Richard seemed like a good guy, a decent sort, gentle and god-fearing. He would get excited about theological points and articles just as I would, so we could talk about these and search out what Orthodoxy says about such topics as literal interpretation, End Times, original sin, and universalism. He was happy to read an article I lent him on what an Orthodox writer says about the salvation of all.
There is a part of him that desires the truth and could still lead to his salvation. But somewhere along the way, he got lost in all this violence.
I pray that he finds his way back Home again. Not just for his salvation, but because I miss the friend who once was.
Not what he turned into, which was a jerk, but the friend he was in 2005-2007, the one I told about my family crisis in 2007 even though I only knew him via phone and Internet, because we were that close and comfortable with each other.
But did that person ever really exist, or was it just the facet he showed me?
I pray for the social workers and probation officer, so that they can help this family stop the abuse and begin to heal. Otherwise the misery could continue for years, because these beautiful, sweet, innocent children will most likely carry it on into their own relationships and families.
(Update 12/20/11): In trying to find out what happened to a guy I went to school with, who still lives in my home state and is rumored to be in jail now, I discovered a multi-state inmate locator. So what the heck, I checked it for my state.
Two things I found out: The guy I mentioned a few posts back, who annoyed my SCA shire in 1999 and ended up getting charged with photographing teenage girls a couple years ago? His stayed sentence has been revoked, and he’s in jail now. He has to register as a sex offender for many years to come. LOL Guy’s a sociopath.
Also, I found that Richard took five updated pictures in November for the state, which were posted on this site. When he showed up at my church a week or two after the verdict, and showed some signs of repentance (for one, holding himself back from the Eucharist, which you do when you’ve committed some grave sin and need to do penance), I hoped he was sorry for what he did and working on it. These new pictures were taken after that.
I had hoped to see some evidence of repentance and change in his pictures; all I found was more contempt. More hatred being sent to the camera. More “you are scum” being sent to the camera.
More of it than before, because now he has his head up and cocked to one side (all the easier to look down his nose at the picture-taker), his mouth is curled upwards more clearly on one side, and he’s looking up instead of down, so the look in his eyes is much clearer to see. (Before, he was looking down, but his eyebrows were angry.)
Heck, I could swear it was my brother’s expression when he bullied me.
The old mug shot has more anger in the eyebrows; the new pictures have more raised eyebrows, making the contempt win out over the anger.
There are five pictures, not just one moment in time like the mug shot, so you can see it’s not just a posed half-smile; all three of the front-facing pictures have the same expression. It’s a scary look.
I spent so much time with him and got so comfortable with him that I could hold eye contact and pay far more attention than I normally do to people’s body language; I felt I could read him extremely well at times; I don’t recall ever seeing a look like this on his face.
I saw joy, sadness, religious devotion, humor, annoyance at his children, happiness to see good friends, playfulness, or anger with his wife, even anger at me once, but I never saw him look like this.
And I see it very clearly in these new pictures. I see that side of him that I never could quite believe in before, that violent side.
Hubby says he looks like the cat who swallowed the canary, like he got away with something.
I see that my suspicions of narcissism–as much as I hoped I was wrong about that–are confirmed.
I had hoped for better than that. I had thought he was better than that. What the heck has happened to him? Yuck.
Somehow I have to stop wishing he’d call me up and say he’s sorry, say he wants to make things right.
Lately, I’ve been missing him and wishing that would happen. Well, I don’t know if I can ever stop wishing for that; I’ve had bullies and exes do that, so why couldn’t it happen here, too? Even my abusive ex *Phil* apologized to me. I know Richard has made peace with people in his past before.
But to long for it, wish for things to be the way they were in October/November 2007–somehow I have to let go of that.
It does help to keep looking at these court records and pictures, because the contempt I see in them is disgusting. I do it again and again to try to drive the longing for reconciliation out of my heart.
What he did was disgusting. But still that part of me keeps hoping for change…..
But I am so frickin’ GLAD I sent that letter to Social Services in March.
I am so glad I told them he talked about putting the kids in the closet.
I’m glad I told them he might strike Tracy one of these days if she hits his face.
I’m glad I told them about the crap Tracy was pulling.
And I hope that the probation officer sees (or probably took) those pictures, sees the contempt in his face, and either makes him do the full sentence, or asks to have the stayed sentence revoked so he can go to jail for ten days. [Update 2/2/15: Richard served the full probation sentence.]
(Update 3/12/12:) After reading what the District Attorney said about my former boss, that he gave him a deferred prosecution agreement so he could have more control over my former boss than “if he had just pled to the felonies,” such as anger management, medication, etc.–I wonder if it was the same thing here.
Did the plea agreement result in probation so the District Attorney could have more control over Richard, get him into counseling and the like, make sure he followed the agreement with Social Services? I do hope so.
(My boss went ballistic when his wife wanted to leave him. It seems he’d been physically abusing her. He drove the red pickup truck I remembered, into the kitchen and did lots of damage to the side of the house; he resisted arrest; he caused damage when the police hauled him in.)
One of the most fascinating aspects of Zimmerman’s latest incident was that he himself called the police to counter his girlfriend’s call, and offered another dispatcher a separate set of facts. He said that the girlfriend had “gone crazy” and had broken a table in the apartment.
“I just want everyone to know the truth,” he tells the dispatcher. “She got mad that I told her I would be willing to leave.”
There’s no telling what exactly happened before their respective calls to police. But, if Zimmerman’s girlfriend is telling the truth, then his effort to turn the tables and make his girlfriend sound guilty is again a classic case of something domestic violence prevention advocates call “minimization, denial and blaming,” which is when abusers make the victim feel as though they are responsible for the abuse, or crazy for thinking any abuse occurred at all. –Annie-Rose Strasser, What George Zimmerman’s story can teach us about domestic abusers