Articles from 2011

Left Behind Review: Desecration

Desecration by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414334982, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

On page 2, we read:

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.

[11/2/11-11/16/11]

 

Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard’s Conviction (Child Abuse Charges)

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.

(Update 11/13/11):
Another look at the case on the state’s free public database, reveals a page I wasn’t aware of before:

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:

28
03-01-2011
Signature bond set
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1
Event Party
Amount
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1Richard…
[I redacted]
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1
Additional Text:
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1
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?

“A feeling of condescension towards another person, or a feeling of moral superiority is the root of the emotion of contempt” –(http://www.facscodinggroup.com/universal-expressions).

 

“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.

[Update 7/16/13: To see what I mean, see this post.  I found a picture of George Zimmerman which matches Richard’s expression.]

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

 

Fighting the Darkness: Stockholm Syndrome?

Part of my trouble dealing with this issue is wondering how my best friend could turn on me like Richard did.

Stockholm Syndrome can explain it.  From a blog by Jennifer Kesler about the Hillary Adams video:

If you’re wondering how a woman could get to the point of helping her husband beat their child, you need to understand this: when you’re living with someone who gets that violent anytime anyone stands up to him, you don’t stand up to him.

You either become very passive, or you become his collaborator in hopes of mitigating the damage. That’s what we’re seeing here – a mitigating collaborator.

The mother calmly agrees with every argument the judge makes, because arguing with him would only escalate his temper. She takes over the beating not because she enjoys it – that’s clear from her demeanor – but because she’s hoping it will lessen his anger and protect Hilary from his more painful lashes.

Several times she says “That’s en…” and stops herself because that constitutes standing up to him. As hard as it is to stomach, this is clearly a woman doing the best she can under circumstances that are as FUBAR as any war situation. —Hillary Adams: child abuse on film

There’s also the FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) in which spouses of abusers are often kept.  Richard’s betrayal of me, even his intimidation of my husband for sticking up for me, could be seen as all part of trying to pacify his raging wife.

So I do hope that one day, he’ll come out of that FOG and realize just what he did, and come to us to make amends.  But there would still be the separate issues of threatening my husband several days earlier, which had nothing to do with Tracy, and nearly killing his daughter.

Hubby and I don’t know what we’ll do if he does come to us trying to make amends.  We decided we would just play it by ear.

There has been no church for a couple of weeks as my priest has been on vacation, so there have been no more surprises, no anxieties.  But this weekend, church starts up again, and as I do every time I go to church, I’ll be checking the parking lot for Richard and Tracy’s vehicle.

The initial shock, dismay and sadness stirred by seeing Richard again, has dissipated, and once again I feel anger at him for his abusive behaviors.  I want him far from me; I feel calmer.

I want to fight for the end of abuse of all kinds, of child abuse, of domestic violence; I read articles on people who did far less to their kids, but still ended up with jail time, or five years probation, and wonder, Why isn’t Richard in jail???!!!

I don’t want him to show up again like he did a couple of weeks ago and put me back in that dark place of depression and missing him.  I don’t want to miss him.

I want to remember him as a narcissist, Svengali and child abuser who duped me into believing all sorts of things that weren’t true, not as my BFF and spiritual mentor.

Seeing him brings it all back again and rips open the wound.  And if he had any sensitivity at all, he’d realize this.

The simple fact of the matter is, vaguely saying he blames himself for everything does not count as an apology for his violence or his betrayal, especially since right after he said this, he blamed me for Tracy’s verbal abuse, and lied to me, twice.

There are many who say that forgiveness is for when the offender asks for it.  When has he ever asked for it?  When has Tracy ever asked for it?  If they do not seek forgiveness from me, then I want them out of my life completely, leaving me in peace.

It is often easier for outsiders to see what’s going on because they’re not caught in the disorienting and invalidating mists of an emotional FOG.

To a mom, dad, sister, brother or best friend, it can be as clear as day, but when you have your mouth wrapped around the exhaust pipe of the Crazy Fogger 3000 night and day, it’s no wonder you can’t see the forest for the trees.

For anyone who’s ever walked or driven in atmospheric fogs, you know that being in a fog can play perceptual tricks on you. –Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, More Thoughts on FOG, Hoovers and No Contact When Ending a Relationship with a Narcissist, Borderline, Histrionic and/or Sociopath

The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended.

In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed “all their eggs in one basket”. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence.

The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive.

At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual. —From “Love and Stockholm Syndrome” by Dr. Joseph M. Carver, PhD

 

Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again

Some people may not understand why it’s so hard for me to see my bully and her accomplice (Tracy and Richard) at church or at Greekfest.  They may think it’s just something I have to get over.

Well, maybe those people have never been bullied or abused.

Every time I see them, several emotions swirl around in my head: fear, dread, missing Richard despite everything, anger.

Anyone who’s been friends with, married to, or related to a narcissist or abuser can relate to this, can understand feeling regret at losing them despite all the hurt they’ve caused, can understand still hoping that the abuser will repent for what they did, change, and be the friend/spouse/parent the abused has always wanted.

It’s a knife to my heart to see Richard at church, start hoping that he will come over and apologize for being Tracy’s accomplice and for his own sins against my husband and me–then he leaves without saying anything, as if he still believes I’m the one with the problem, as if he still thinks verbal violence and physical threats are perfectly valid ways of dealing with problems.

It also feels like intimidation.  Tracy acts all happy and goes up to the Eucharist as if she has no need to go to that Christian sister who has something against her and try to resolve it before putting her gift on the altar.

Throughout this whole thing, she acted as if she had the moral high ground and I was just the little stubborn jerk who wouldn’t do what she wanted.

It burns to see her act this way, to know that she thinks she did nothing wrong and I’m the one with the problem.  It’s like she’s rubbing it in my face; they ignore me completely, and when Tracy is there the children are kept close.

Only when Richard was there by himself did the children say anything to me.  In fact, while in the parking lot one time, my husband overheard the eldest child calling out his name, then Tracy scolding her for something.

It reminds me of my ex Phil, who is described in previous posts.  Even though he hated my friends (just as Tracy hated my church), after the breakup, Phil kept coming over and sitting at my lunch or dinner table, supposedly to be with his new girlfriend.  They’d get all lovey-dovey, and it made me sick.

It felt distinctly like he was trying to control me even after the breakup, by rubbing his new girlfriend in my face and not even letting me eat my meals in peace and surrounded by the love of my friends.  And after all the crap he put me through, he would say hi to me in the halls and act surprised that I said nothing, wanted nothing to do with him.

It also reminds me of a guy, back in 1999, who ticked off half the SCA shire by refusing to make the changes we requested on the shire’s new website, then accusing us of religious persecution for wanting to keep religion off our non-religious site.

Since Hubby was the chairman (seneschal) of the group at the time, he was in the middle of this and got most of the guy’s ire.  We made somebody else our web minister, and this guy soon vanished from our shire, though I see from a local web forum that he has made lots of enemies around the area since he left us.

He also would threaten to send people viruses, and is most likely the guy who e-mailbombed Hubby and me with 100 messages saying “karma,” since this was one of his favorite words.

According to online court records, he’s also been jailed more than once.  So he’s probably a sociopath.

Yet after all this, in 1999, just a few months after the website brouhaha, he came to our shire’s annual camping event, brandishing a sharp sword without a sheath.  He made no trouble, but was obviously silently daring us to confront him, daring Hubby (who was tending admission) to tell him to put away the sword.

So excuse me for not seeing Richard or Tracy’s presence at my church or Greekfest as being anything less than control and intimidation, when they know I’m going to be there.  You see I’ve dealt with narcissists, abusers and sociopaths in the past, and have seen them operate.

At the very least, I wonder if Richard and Tracy are trying to force a confrontation or are just extremely insensitive.  I don’t go to their church or any of their church’s functions, to keep boundaries between us, because I don’t want to see or be around them and am aware that my presence at their church would be seen as unusual and confrontational.

I’m not some drama queen to cause a scene, but I don’t expect such consideration from Tracy.

I’m amazed that Richard showed up at my church after being convicted, as if trusting that I won’t tell anyone there what he did.  I haven’t and don’t plan to, but it’s just as baffling as Tracy’s abusing Richard and the kids in front of me and Richard telling me he put them in the closet once.

In fact, I still can’t stand to see Phil’s friend from back then, his accomplice in trying to get me away from my friends, as described in earlier posts. I still cringe if I see his name in the newspaper or on Facebook, and especially when I see him friending my friends.

And that was 17 years ago! So why would I want to see Richard, even though he was mostly Tracy’s accomplice, rather than bullying me directly?

There’s fear, because I now know what Richard is capable of, that he nearly killed his own daughter.  I know that Tracy punches Richard, and that she almost killed me once, only holding herself back because she still needed my roof over her head.  So why wouldn’t I feel fear and dread to see them?

I know what Tracy posted on her Facebook wall the day of the breakup, I know the bad things Richard told me about his former friend Todd even though he wasn’t the one who started the argument with Tracy, and one mutual friend inexplicably vanished from my Facebook and life one day; why should I not wonder if they want to spread rumors at my church?

I tried apologizing for my own part in things, but it got nothing but more blaming and scolding and no mirrored apologies, no recanting of their own bad behavior.

And honestly, all I actually did was write a badly-worded e-mail, into which Tracy read subtext which was not there (things which I did not even hint at, so I don’t know where she got them from)–and be a shy, quiet person who preferred not to get close to my bully, but was still pleasant and kind to her as Richard’s wife.

I did absolutely nothing to intentionally offend or hurt her, even though for more than two years she kept pushing and pushing and bullying me so hard that I had to fight to not express my anger at her.

When I did try to say I was being mistreated, she bullied harder, treated me like a horrible person for not thinking she was wonderful.  All my complaints were further “reasons” for her to abuse and to put restrictions on me.  I could not stand her controlling ways.

She misinterpreted everything I did in the worst possible way.  There were things I did which among my circles of friends, are quite normal and acceptable, things which Richard actually got me doing and which to him were quite normal and acceptable, things which to my husband were quite normal and acceptable.

But to Tracy they were egregious sins which must be recounted again and again, even long after I had stopped doing them out of deference to her.

(Though, of course, I was told that their other friends were allowed to do those very things.)

And it was never entirely clear what was and was not acceptable to her, because the rules were constantly changing, one thing okay one day but not the next, or okay if Richard did it but not if I did, or okay if she did it but not if I did.

And there were rules which were absolutely ridiculous.

And frankly, I’m sick and tired of her ever-changing and draconian rules, and refuse to go back to a “friendship” which requires any of them.  If I can’t be myself, then screw it.  If I can’t be friends with Richard without being forced to be friends with her, then I’ll take neither.

It is a huge relief to be among family, friends and church members who do not judge me for being quiet, who do not tell their husbands that I hate her and can’t be trusted with him because I blend into the furniture, who may make a little joke once in a while about my quietness but nothing nasty.

To be among friends who freely do the things that Tracy once wanted to kill me for.

To not get snarked at or criticized for every little thing I do or say, not just by Tracy but by Richard.

To be myself, without being accused again and again of disrespecting her or snubbing her.

To relax and not worry about two people–one my best friend–ganging up on me because of my selective mutism/NVLD/Asperger’s/extreme introversion/whatever it is.  I can’t help the way my brain works, and I don’t want to; I just want to be accepted as I am, same as anybody else.

To have these two people just waltz back into my church and then back out again as if they’ve done nothing wrong and I deserve nothing but to be ignored–disrupts my life, disrupts the gradual loosening of tension that I’ve been feeling by being around decent people again.  I go to coffee hour to relax with my church family and work on understanding Greek, but if I see Richard and/or Tracy I feel tense, nervous, shaky.

Tracy made it very clear in August 2010 that I could contact them again–when I stopped being upset about her rage episode.  She implied that I deserved all her nastiness, yelling, screaming, cussing, ridiculing, blaming, humiliating, demeaning, etc. etc. of me, and that I had to accept that as well before I could contact her.

But how am I to stop being upset if she never says she’s sorry for it? if she just keeps justifying it?  If she thinks I ever will accept what she did, then she’s going to be waiting until Doomsday to ever hear from me again, because she never did manage to break my spirit, no matter how hard she tried.

Even if she got down on her knees and begged me to forgive her, I might forgive her, but I wouldn’t take her back again.  She treated Richard’s friend Todd just as badly, if not worse, and he wants nothing to do with her, either.

Just like every other abuser, she called this acceptance and not feeling hurt by her bullying and verbal abuse “growing up.”  She has an amazingly skewed concept of what it means to be a grown up.

What she calls “growing up” is actually bowing down to your abuser, letting them break your spirit, giving your power over to them, and then opening yourself up to be abused over and over again.

She has no concept of what it really means to be “grown up.”  Or what it means to be a Christian.  I believe she has some kind of Cluster B personality disorder to think this way, just as every abuser must have to be able to abuse the ones they claim to love.

Sam Vaknin has equated Lundy Bancroft’s profile of the typical abuser with a malignant narcissist.  For me, Tracy is the verbal equivalent of Judge Adams, who belted and verbally abused his daughter in a now-infamous video.

And just like Judge Adams, who even after public outcry still blamed his daughter and defended how he treated her, Tracy refuses to see that this is abuse, that her deeds are evil, but instead continues to blame the victim and treat all her victims like they need to “grow up” when they finally run away from her.

Criminals and abusers are alike in this strange, deluded self-justification of their actions, this strange blaming of the victim.

The DSM IV-TR, the bible of mental health disorders, does not regard abusive behaviours as one of the criteria of NPD. It does, however, mention the precursors of abuse: exploitativeness, an exaggerated sense of entitlement and, above all, a lack of empathy.

So, I think it is safe to say that abuse does characterise the behaviour of narcissists. —Sam Vaknin

If you’re feeling as if you’re “walking on eggshells” around someone all the time, you’re probably dealing with a (narcissistic) abuser.

As the title of this post posits – I am not sure the term “narcissistic abuser” isn’t redundant as most abusers seem to have a very pronounced  narcissistic streak in their personalities – whether they are diagnosed narcissists, or not. —The Narcissistic Abuser: Is That Redundant?

Narcissist Is A Title Synonymous With The Label Of Abuser. —Description of interview with Sam Vaknin

Abusers and narcissists are almost synonymous. —Video on Dealing with Narcissists and Abusers

Healthy narcissism is at the core of the Self and malignant, pathological narcissism manifests itself in literally all known abusive, dangerous, and reckless behaviors: family violence, murder, genocide, addictions, corporate malfeasance, sexual abuse and paraphilias, incest, and more….

Strictly defined, a “narcissist” is someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Less than 1% of the general population are diagnosed narcissists, so your chances to come across one are 1:100.

But, as Theodore Millon observed correctly, there are many more people with narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, or a narcissistic personality who would not be diagnosed with NPD, but are still as deleterious and detrimental to their human environment as the “full-fledged” variety. —interview with Sam Vaknin

I know that I must learn to not take anything Tracy said personally, but reject it as the rantings of a Cluster B personality disordered person, because along with all the other things I’ve noted in these blogs, there are other things as well:

I witnessed something bizarre one day about a year ago.  This was either October 5 or December 7, 2010, according to the school calendar, several months after we broke off the friendship.  My son had a half-day, so I set off walking down the sidewalk past my house to fetch him around 11am, when who should I see driving past me on the street?

I had a clear view: They were facing me, so on my side of the street.  There are no trees in that area between the sidewalk and the street.  And no other cars were nearby.

I saw Richard driving that familiar minivan, and Tracy in the passenger seat.

Well, sort of in the seat: She was hanging half her body out the window

head, shoulders, upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist, turned with her shoulders pointing one above and one below, arms flailing, not holding on (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)

while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.

Obviously he was upset with her for hanging out the window.

I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me in those few seconds, since she was hanging out the window and facing me, with me just a few feet away from her.

I looked directly at them, rather than ignoring them as I usually do, because these few seconds were so unexpected.  If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman.  Did she try to yell at me?

What the heck was this about?  There was no explanation for why on earth she’d hang half out the window.  It was yet more bizarre behavior from this woman, and evidence that her behaviors toward me were from a Cluster B personality disorder, because I’m told Cluster Bs do things like this.

Other than on TV, I’ve never seen anybody else do anything like this in a moving vehicle.  The speed limit around there is 25mph, and in a van, the ground is farther down.

I’ve also been informed by mutual friend Todd that Richard said borderline and other personality disorders are indeed in Tracy’s immediate family.  So Todd believes she does indeed have at least one of these.

Todd also says that one day she’ll go off on you and get Richard to help and it’s all over, that Richard has lost other friends because of her.  I have this information in writing.  So this isn’t just my imagination, or just me.

Yet somehow she continues to stay out of jail, even though I know she has punched Richard on many occasions, and even though I saw her abuse her children and told Social Services about it.

Which, by the way, is another reason I feel nervous seeing these two people at my church, people who I’ve already witnessed being vindictive to other people in the past.

I took a huge risk reporting them, and wouldn’t have done it unless I felt justified, unless I felt those children were in grave danger both mentally and physically.  I feared that one day I would hear about Richard and Tracy on the 6:00 news.

Even if Richard assaulted me for it as he wanted to assault that lady two years ago, I would not regret reporting them.  His criminal conviction proves that my instincts were correct, especially since his daughter reported him long before.

And the audacity Tracy had to abuse the kids right in front of me, though of course she saved the worst of it for behind closed doors!  As if daring me to report her, and meanwhile she claimed the moral high ground when dealing with me.

More than one person had encouraged me in the previous year to report them to Social Services, but I was afraid to do it because Tracy and Richard are both physically scary.  I feared Tracy’s temper or that she would report me in retaliation; I feared that Richard would go goomba on me like he wanted to do to that lady in 2009 who got him so upset.

But then, in February 2011, I saw The Boondock Saints for the second time.  In the beginning we hear a sermon about evil triumphing because good men do nothing about it.

So I began writing an account of what I had witnessed, e-mailed it to an old friend who is in the social work field, and she told me: My concerns are very valid, Richard and Tracy both sound very abusive, she grew up in a similar environment and her family is still dealing with the consequences, so PLEASE report them–do it for Richard’s sake.

So I sent the letter to Social Services, and later confirmed with them that they received it.

I expected only that–if my report was even taken seriously–it would lead to the Department of Social Services (DSS) providing them with various services and helps.  First I checked the state’s public access website to see if either he or Tracy had been charged with domestic violence in the past few years, but nothing was there (though if I’d checked a few days later, it would’ve all been there).

Then, as I stated in the last paragraph, I checked with my friend who’s involved in social work in this state, to see if the things I witnessed, qualified as child abuse under state law.  She urged me to please report them, to help the children and to help Richard.

I filed the report with DSS, not with the police department, because I wanted them to get services, not to be charged with a crime.  I didn’t expect the children to even be removed from the home.

I expected they would work out a long-term plan, in accordance with DSS procedures, with anger management counseling, parenting courses, and various other services that would help them to stop the abuse and become a healthy, happy family.

I figured that if they knew what was in the report, they would know who made it.  But I saw a documentary on Youtube in which one couple said they’d been reported for abusing their children, and a year later, they were very grateful for that report, because they were now much better parents and spouses.

I hoped that this would be the same thing with Richard and Tracy, that in time they would forgive me because they knew I did the right thing, that they would realize it led to their family becoming healthy and happy, and that they would reach out to Jeff and me in friendship, forgiveness and repentance.

Also, when I made the report, it was Tracy who I saw as the principal abuser, with Richard being primarily the victim and the one who was trying desperately to keep her from harming the children as well.

No, this was NOT about vengeance, no matter how angry I was with them.  If it were about vengeance, I would have called CPS immediately after Tracy’s verbal abuse of me on 7/1/10, very easily and gladly, not waited many months after a great deal of reflection and soul-searching over whether it was the right thing to do.

In fact, a pastor friend who had done social work, told me during the weekend following 7/1/10 that I needed to report them for the sake of the children, but I said, “I don’t want to be vindictive.”  He had told me, Don’t let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right for those children!

I was bullied by one of my brothers for all of my childhood, and he still is a bully–even my mom says so, says he bullies my dad.  When he was about 18 or 19 and I was about 11 or 12, he was a Marine MP, and while home on leave, was getting ready to go on a date.

This was unusual, and I was excited, but didn’t know how to express it.  So like any little kid, I sang out, “— has a daaate!”

My brother’s hands flew around my neck as I sat in a chair, and he said while pressing, “I’ve been trained to kill.”  He let go before I passed out, but it was terrifying.

I was just a bit older than the daughter Richard choked, but Richard is much taller and larger than my brother was at the time.  I feel for that girl, knowing what it’s like to not know if you’re going to die because somebody is choking you.

If Richard and Tracy are just going to let things go for so long and let them fester,

if they’re not going to act like grown-ups who actually care about somebody outside themselves and apologize for the nasty things they did,

if Richard won’t man up enough to put my mind at ease and apologize for betraying me and threatening Hubby,

if they’re going to profess Christianity but act worse than godless heathens,

then I don’t want them going anywhere near me that they can avoid.

The occasional encounter at the store or the fair can be expected, but they can choose not to go where they know I’ll be.  They do have other options.

And this after all that we did for them and gave them, from money and food to baby supplies, free babysitting and taxi service, and all the things we put up with for their sakes, treating them like family, expecting nothing in return but friendship and kindness, but we didn’t even get that.

We feel used, manipulated.  Every time he sees Richard, Hubby wants to knock him out cold.

Nobody wants to see the person who bullied or abused or molested them, or the person who helped them do it.  Even years later, the sight of this person can bring it all back.  What I feel is perfectly normal, and I will not apologize for it.

Update 1/12/13:
A blog post and comments showing that my reaction is normal: Vanci’s Standing Ground (With Tired Feet)

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s MailboxNeeding to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers, and Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends.

Fighting the Darkness: Healing can take a long time (Healing from abuse)

I thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.

A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.

They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby Jeff and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Jeff stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

(See here for reasons why I’d be scared of Richard: his huge size, his choking one of his kids, his past as a goomba, his almost physically assaulting a lady and saying he’d leave no trace that he was ever there, his threatening my husband with physical violence and saying he’s very easily triggered to it.

Also, he told me violent things about his past.  He said he’d been arrested more than a hundred times, but I have no idea for what, or if he was acquitted; it was before he lived in my state, which has a public-access website with details of court cases.

And his wife Tracy is also a very scary person, much larger than I am, violent physically and verbally.  Richard told me that once, in my house, she almost killed me over something, and I had no idea. 

I have no idea if he meant it literally or as hyperbole, but for months afterward, my mind kept going to that, imagining what it would have been like to feel her fists, wondering if Hubby or Richard would have pulled her off me in time, imagining Hubby calling the cops.  Just sitting and watching That 70s Show, one kid would hit another kid, and I’d flinch.

And yet I was expected to “befriend” her, be buddy-buddy with her, without so much as an “I’m sorry” from her, or else I was to “blame” for all the crap she threw at me.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.  The other one is 7, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Jeff also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.  All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Jeff and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”

But in my heart I just don’t believe that.  I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.  If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

And if you are Richard and somehow found my blog, please, PLEASE work on yourself and get rid of the violence.  For me, for Jeff, for yourself, for your children.  And then feel free to get in touch with us.  (It’s impossible to send any of these things directly to Richard because his wife is insanely jealous.)  But these are the things you must do and say:

1) Assure me that you are not going to go all goomba on me.

2) Apologize for the things that went on the final week of our friendship:

  • a) Threatening Jeff with verbal and physical violence for sticking up for me on 6/28/10.
  • b) Throwing me under the bus when Tracy went ballistic, rather than explaining to her the truth of what happened and what I meant by my e-mail.  Letting her go off on me.  Giving in to her so I was not even allowed to explain and exonerate myself.  You knew very well that I was referring to a sisterly/brotherly hug of gratitude, and that it had been your idea.
  • c) Getting into Hubby’s face and intimidating him for sticking up for me.

3) Apologize for, a month later, justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse of me, blaming me for it, then lying to me about why you hadn’t seen my e-mail and why you blocked us on Facebook.  Being so deceitful that I actually thought Tracy was going to finally apologize, when instead I was opened up to more verbal abuse and accusations from her.  Treating me like this was all my problem that I had to get over, rather than admitting that Tracy had been bullying me and getting you to do her dirty work.

4) Admit to your violent tendencies and demonstrate that you are working on them, that you will not threaten us again, will not choke your daughter again, will stop lecturing us on how to discipline children.  Take anger management courses, study the Philokalia and Ladder of Divine Ascent, take parenting classes.

As for Tracy–I don’t want to hear from or see you again.  Don’t come to my church.  Don’t call me on the phone no matter what you see my son doing.  Unless, of course, you’re ready to forgive me for being naturally shy and quiet, and acknowledge your own share in the problems, your own abusive behaviors.

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?

 

 

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