Contemplating the evils of jealousy and abuse

A friend of mine once accused me of having Jeff “on a long leash” because I did not want to let her (platonically) share a hotel room with him when they went to an SCA event together.

I was upset with her for thinking this, but I did not go on a smear campaign against her, did not try to separate her from Jeff (I knew there was nothing going on), did not try to destroy her.

I just finally accepted she had a different opinion of “appropriate” behavior, and got over it.

In my search online for answers and validation, I discovered that some people would agree with Tracy that I somehow “disrespected” her by telling Richard she was abusive, that she wasn’t treating him or the children right, that she wasn’t treating me right.  They would agree with her that I should be friends with her to be friends with Richard.

But I found far more support to the idea that friends are not good friends if they keep silent about abuse.  For example, the comment section for this Carolyn Hax column: Wife Asks if Husband’s Friends Dislike Her and They Do; What Now?

A few people in the comments section said the friends were “disrespecting” the wife and the letter writer needed to get new friends.

But plenty of other commenters turned that around, saying (paraphrasing), “What if it were a woman writing in?  Would you tell her, Ditch your friends for disrespecting your husband by telling you he’s spiteful and controlling?”

They showed how such advice would be unthinkable if the letter writer were a woman, to advise her to give up her support system and isolate herself from the people who did not like her abusive husband.

They showed how it was a sign of good friends–and people who could help the abuse victim get out of his/her situation–for the friends to speak up about what the abuser was doing.

And how on earth is one of the friends supposed to speak directly to the abuser about it?  I’ve seen for myself how the abuser will turn that around on you, start a smear campaign against you, drive a wedge between you and the abused, and proceed to abuse you as well!  How does that help the abused?

The friend Tracy drove away in 2008, Todd, also saw behind her mask, so it’s not surprising that she got so angry with him over nothing.  I think she just looked for an excuse, any excuse, to rage at him.  And that she did the same with me.

Also, over on the Shrink4Men website, which has a blog on Cluster B (histrionic, narcissistic, borderline) personality disordered women, one post and its commenters specifically stated that good friends will believe you, support you and speak up if you’re being abused.

I wrote in the comments of that post,

I was treated like the problem because I didn’t want to get too close to his abusive wife, or pretend that everything she did was perfectly fine or her ‘right.’ Even he treated me like I was the problem.

One of the regulars, who also had dealt with friends with Cluster B significant others, replied,

Your first and foremost obligation is to take care of and protect yourself and your loved ones first. I don’t mean that in a narcissistic way either. Without doing that first you won’t be good for anybody really.

You’re not in this world to take people’s abuse or twist yourself into knots to prove someone else’s idea of warped love.

Nobody in their right mind with a healthy value system would ever recommend to a friend that they stay to help a Cluster B or endure their abuse.

If your friend was a true friend to you, this person wouldn’t want you involved in his wife’s psychodrama, and he would be making plans to leave.

He expected you to be involved in a sick relationship. You were being manipulated by having your sense of obligation exploited. You absolutely made the right choice to leave both of them.

Thankfully you had enough mental health to do so.

 

Struggling to get past the abuse

I can get over what Tracy did, the more I learn about Cluster B personality disorders, how she fits them like a glove, and how this means that her treatment of me is her problem, not mine.

The more I learn about narcissism and BPD, the more I see that I did not deserve how she treated me.

I come to peace with my decision to leave her behind, as I realize that if I stayed, if I managed to preserve the friendship, she would just find some new reason to be upset with me and rage at me some other time.

It was impossible for me to satisfy her demands, which were apparently designed on purpose to be more than what I could actually achieve–especially when she kept sabotaging any efforts by snarking at me, or abusing the kids or her husband right in front of me.

I need to wash off all the nasty things she ever said about me, like so much sewer sludge.

“It’s a huge comfort to know it’s NPD….You realise it’s not you that’s the problem. It’s like being reborn.” —When Narcissism Becomes Pathological

But as for Richard–I don’t know that I’ll ever get over what he did, unless he stops justifying his behavior and comes to me, and repents.

Forgive perhaps, eventually, but lose the hurt feelings?  Stop feeling betrayed by my best friend?  Stop wishing that he would do the right thing?  Probably never.

For the time being, I feel like I’ve gone back into the shell which I had been emerging from:

–afraid to share too much,

–afraid that I’ll make new friends and love them only to find that they’re abusive as well,

–afraid about every move I make because maybe they’ll think I’m horrible for being so quiet, or they’ll accuse me of stalking or being annoying or some other horrible thing.

I didn’t use to be so scared of these things.

And I’m also afraid every week of seeing Richard and/or his wife at church, because they do show up on occasion, leaving me nervous, shaken and afraid of what rumors they might try to spread, or of them wanting to make some sort of confrontation.

Church used to be my refuge, but because they are so close to it, I fear they will show up in my life again some time in the future in some way.  I stay away from their church, and wish they would stay away from mine.

Every day, I’m haunted by the memory of how they bullied me, how a trusted and beloved friend betrayed me, the abuses that I witnessed–

–and knowing that the person I respected and believed in as a pious man of God–

–choked his own daughter.

Whenever he told me the things his wife was doing, it wasn’t often, and I’d be amazed because I had no idea these things had been going on.

Since I now know for certain that it was not my imagination, that there was an abusive situation in that household, because of the criminal conviction, I wonder what else goes on there that I’m not aware of.

I only got a glimpse, and it’s often said that what outsiders know about abusive situations is just the tip of the iceberg.

I recall how various details–about the abuse, and about Richard’s violent past and current violent inclinations–just trickled out over the years, and shocked me, making me wonder what else I don’t know.

I haven’t even written here everything that I know or witnessed.  I can only hope that Social Services and the police know everything, because they can actually do something about it.

[Update 2/10/15: There appears to have been at least one domestic incident at their current residence in the past three years.  The local police beat showed one last May.]

 

Was he abused or a narcissist?

Was he an abused, cringing husband–or a narcissist weaving webs around me?

The trouble with narcissism is that once you’ve been a source of narcissistic supply, you’re addicted.  Online research into narcissism, borderline personality disorder and abusers, has shown me that my reactions have been normal, that it’s very hard for anyone to just “get over it” after dealing with people like this.

He wasn’t so perfect, because if he were, the image would have matched the reality, and he would’ve let nothing snap the friendship in two.  The true measure of his character has been demonstrated by his failure, even after a year and a half, to do anything to try to repair or reconcile, to make any show of sorrow or remorse over what happened.

I tried once, but failed because of his wife’s hard heart; it is up to him to do his part, to make apologies for what he himself did not just to me but to Jeff, and not leave this all on my shoulders to fix.

But he does nothing, absolutely nothing.  This shows a poor character and selfish, narcissistic qualities.

I had expected, believed so much more of him than that, thought he was a good person.  But his behavior, his lack even of basic Christian decency in this matter, proves that I was deceived.

And this after we had given sacrificially of our resources and time to help them in many different ways and situations, and after so many times I had given him someone to talk to in times of hardship and heartache.

Nobody can help me because the friendship I had was so rare, so hard to find again, and not something you ever get over.  You can’t just go out and find another one just like it; it takes time and coming across just the right person at just the right time.

And I don’t even know if he misses us or regrets what happened, if he only keeps away because he’s (justifiably) afraid of my husband’s anger at him over all the things he did, or if he just doesn’t care.

If he truly misses us, or just misses playing D&D with Jeff.  If he remembers all the kind things we did for him.

All I can do is hope that he only has narcissistic tendencies and not a full-blown disorder, that he does miss us and won’t stay away forever.  That he will one day get the courage to eradicate the violence and abuse from his life.  That he will stop enabling his wife’s bullying of others, eradicate the narcissistic behaviors, and make things right with Jeff and me.

If he does, I will give him full forgiveness.  But you can’t truly know another person’s heart, so I still hope that our friendship was not just a fiction, a web woven by a narcissist, but real.

That one day he’ll wake up and realize he shouldn’t have let it go, shouldn’t have allowed me to be bullied, that enabling his wife’s bullying was immoral.

Both of them fit the traits of narcissism.  I, of course, am not a psychologist, but like anyone else who must deal with narcissists in personal life, I need to understand what I’m dealing with.

And abusers tend not to get diagnosed because they think nothing is wrong with them, so the victims of their bullying and abuse have to go by the behavior they witness.

When I read the characteristics of a malignant narcissist, I could swear I’m reading about Tracy.  And it’s frightening how well she fits.

Who knows what the future holds.

I do want my friend back–not as an enabler of his wife’s bullying, but as he once was, 2006-2007.  And without being forced to be friends with his wife against my better judgment.

She used what she perceived to be society’s “rules” to guilt and bully me into being friends with her.

(I never heard of these rules and certainly don’t follow them in my own household; if I did, Jeff would fight it.  Yes, he has many female friends, and it doesn’t bother me.  I have many guy friends, and it doesn’t bother him.

We believe in faith and trust and treating each other like adults with personal autonomy who can tell for ourselves who to be friends with.  I’m not his mother, and he’s not my father.  But she didn’t even live by these rules herself, but made others live by them.)

I was polite and kind to her, but she was never satisfied, apparently wanted me to be buddy-buddy with her and share all my secrets, etc.

But I couldn’t do that with someone whom I observed abusing my friend, abusing her children, and bullying me.  Richard told me even more things she was doing behind closed doors.

But they both pinned the blame on me.  She imagined slights which I never gave, but refused to believe that her perception was not reality–

–which she also did to Todd, who’d been friends with her husband for 6 years, but finally walked away because of her rages.

(She then proceeded to lie and misrepresent what he “did” to everyone else, so that they believed her and thought he was crazy.)

It wasn’t just me, because Richard told me–in her presence–about other friends he’d lost because of her, about them coming to him and saying, “We just can’t handle Tracy anymore.”

When she bullied and verbally abused me in a narcissistic/BPD rage, giving me no chance to defend myself, and refused to apologize for being nasty, she lost all rights and claims to my friendship, whether I’m friends with her husband or not.

But this time, it would be on my own terms–which means, friends with him, but never with her.  But Jeff wants nothing to do with either one of them, is furious with them both.

And the most tragic thing is, I have no clue what happened.  The winter of 2009-2010, everything was fine between us all.  I don’t recall much bullying of me going on at that time, I was led to believe that Tracy had long since stopped holding her inexplicable and irrational grudges against me, and everything was fine.

But somehow, over the spring of 2010, for no reason I ever knew, they just both started being mean to me.  Though when I tried to bring it up with Richard, he acted like I was imagining it, and got angry with me.

And this from the guy who once begged me not to be mad at him.

Both of them started behaving like asses to me, on Facebook and off, even though we still went over to their house for D&D, and we still had birthday parties and holiday dinners together.

All I can figure is that it was an outgrowth of their own problems at home, as Jeff and I could both see them constantly snarling at each other and the kids in the months before the blowup on 7/1/10.  I witnessed two outright instances of physical abuse committed by Tracy, right in front of me.

And that in itself tells me the blowup had nothing actually to do with me, but with their own problems at home.  I just made a convenient scapegoat.

Just as she did with Todd two years earlier, Tracy took something I wrote, added reasons and motivations which did not exist, refused to believe that she misunderstood it–

–and made me the cause of all the problems that only existed in her own head.

Tracy painted everything I had ever done with a scarlet brush.  She tried to say her narcissistic rage was somehow going easy on me, even though I did nothing to deserve all that.

My “friend” Richard accused me of “not saying two sentences together” to her for a month and a half.  But I have no clue what month and a half, and I’m just a naturally quiet person who usually has no more than one sentence together to say to anybody.

That’s just the way it is: My mind doesn’t work fast enough in most social situations to say much.  My “friend” could see very well over the past two and a half years that it was just the way I was, that my chattiness with him was a rarity.  And I hadn’t been acting any differently than what’s normal for me.

Also, his own mother is just as shy and quiet as I am.  AND his other friend’s wife treated HIM the same way Tracy treated ME.

So you’d think he knew how it felt to be treated like crap and have someone try to keep you from your BFF because she didn’t like your personality. 

He had no excuse NOT to be empathetic to me.

Yet he twisted this natural part of my personality into somehow being “more offensive” than Tracy’s nasty, vicious, deliberately hurtful verbal abuse of me! 

He made up yet another social rule I had never even heard of (something he had done before as an excuse to chide me).  Then he waved it in my face to minimize and justify Tracy’s inexcusable behavior and verbal abuse!

What kind of sick, twisted people are they, anyway?

It also brought back old humiliations and insecurities:

  1. Being teased and ridiculed throughout my childhood with no idea why the kids kept calling me “weird.”  With no idea why they were mean when I was always a nice, sweet person who was far too terrified of people to be mean to them.
  2. My brother making me feel like everything I did or liked was “wrong” somehow.
  3. Going to college and finding yet more ridicule, bullying and rumors, from an ex-boyfriend, from the Zetas for being shy (see my account here), from a guy (“Shawn”) who I thought was my friend, but apparently was yet another narcissist, from a guy who said he loved me but just wanted to control me.  (See here.)
  4. Going out into the world, to be constantly accused of doing things I had not done.  To hear again and again about how shy I was and how “wrong” it was to be shy–as if it were a character failing rather than simply the way I was born, the way my brain works.

And now here it was again, someone bullying me just like the kids on the playground, making me feel like crap, like I hated her, like I was a horrible person who was just awful to her and trying to do horrible things–

when I was doing nothing of the kind, and her own behavior was driving me further and further into my shell.

And this after all the things we had done to help her and Richard both.

And now my best friend in the world, whom I trusted completely, whom I respected and told all my secrets to, whose friendship I valued like a rare gem, whose good opinion I always coveted–

–now agreed with her and let her bully me verbally, manipulate me, and try to control me.

She won’t even let me speak to Richard unless I go through her first, so it’s impossible to work anything out with him.

She’s like the ogre at the gate who’ll eat you up if you say one wrong word, and will not let you pass into the garden.  Yet Richard tried to tell me, “She’s not a monster.”

If he doesn’t see that what she’s done is terribly monstrous, then his own judgment is severely lacking.

It’s so devastating that I feel myself retreating back into my shell so far that I fear I’ve lost all sorts of ground that I gained over the years.

I wonder if I’ll ever feel safe enough to venture back into trying to make a close friend, except for the ones I’ve known for years.

And yet there she was on Facebook, telling everyone what a wonderful day she was having because of yelling all those horrible things at me.

When I discovered NVLD in 2000 (see here), it was an answer to everything I struggled with my entire life, not just socially but in other ways as well.  I discovered that it was not a character failing or “weirdness” or stupidity, but brain wiring which is different from the mainstream.

It was a huge lift to my self-esteem as I discovered there was nothing actually “wrong” with me.  It was just like having ADHD or Asperger’s or dyslexia or some other thing: It’s no one’s “fault,” just the way you’re made.

It explained everything.  But Richard decided not to believe in it, as if it were the Easter bunny, as if he could just proclaim me not to have NVLD, snap his fingers, and I would be all better.

Richard and Tracy both used the e-mail I sent Richard on 7/1/10 as an excuse to start making up all sorts of things to pin on me, all sorts of excuses for their own behaviors.

And why?  I have no clue.  I can only imagine that I was a convenient friend for a time, when they could get something out of me–money, food, shelter, free babysitting, narcissistic supply–then they made up excuses so they could toss me aside when they no longer needed me.

Which is something I could imagine her doing, but I never thought my “friend” was like that.  I trusted him, believed in him, thought he was an awesome person, considered him my best friend ever.

And that’s what hurts the most.

 

Richard the child choker

Richard the Mafia thug, potential lady-killer, child beater and child choker

This perfect friend, the saintly image I had of this person–

which was molded over the first two and a half years of our online/phone friendship–

diverges so much from the way he acted in real life, and the things which came out about him, and the way he treated me, over the two and a half years after that, that I wonder how much of this image was real.

The image I had in 2007, was not the kind of person to plan to assault a landlady, or choke a child and then act contemptuous of the cops who charged him with it.

Both things happened:

He called me up one day and said he was going to attack the woman who was evicting his family!  He would not let her see who was attacking her.  He would “make it look like I was never there.”

He claimed he used to be a Mafia thug, so he knew how to do this. 

It sounded like he was going to kill her!  And no, it was not a joke; he was serious!

He hung up, then called back a few minutes later to say his wife talked him out of it.

And a few months after our friendship breakup, he choked his eldest daughter until she passed out, and then she told police. 

He was convicted via plea bargain, declared guilty, put on probation for a year.  And this is on the public record, was published by the newspaper.

The saintly image was not the kind of person who betrays friends, bullies them, or threatens them with violence.  (He also betrayed Todd and wanted to beat him up.)

The saintly image was not the kind of person who puts politics higher than friendship.

The saintly image was not the kind of person to hang around with creeps online–

–and then tell me to “get over it,” and scold me for still being upset about them sexually harassing me.

The saintly image was not the kind of person to do various other things that caused me hurt and dismay.

Yet that’s what he turned out to be.

My image was of a righteous person trying to turn away from violence and sin, trying to stifle all the dangerous and destructive passions on his way to theosis.  Was any of this image for real?

The friend I knew in 2007 would never have choked his own child.  Yet there it is, plain as day, something he truly did and can be verified, can be proven with mug shots, details, newspaper reports.

For the past three months since I discovered what he did, my mind has been like the robots on the Harry Mudd episode of Star Trek, going in an endless loop between the truth and what I thought was the truth, until it finally blows up.

I knew by then that Richard still had a violent temper, though for most of the time I knew him, I thought this temper had been pushed down and dominated by Christian piety.

He had told me when he moved in with us that he had a violent past.  This scared me, and made me wonder if I should have let him move in, but I promptly forgot much of what he said.

I do recall something about his time as a border guard, and that when he was a kid he beat up another kid so bad that he still had the scar on his knuckle.

But he gave me the impression that much of this happened during a period of agnosticism long before he converted to Orthodoxy.  That he was using the tools of Orthodoxy to control his temper.  To me he appeared to have a very even temper.

One day I heard him screaming at his wife on the phone and found it very disturbing, but that was the only time I witnessed his own temper, except for the occasional rant against some annoying kid on the web forums.

He seemed to take in stride things that would anger Jeff, so I thought he was gentle now.

Orthodoxy has all sorts of writings and tools, such as fasting and prayer, which people can use to fight the passions.  He would talk or write to me about the books he was reading and how the Church was helping him fight his own passions.  I thought he was too hard on himself.

I thought his wife was the one with the uncontrolled temper, since he told me about it and I witnessed it myself, but rarely witnessed his own.

But then he told me in 2009 that he wanted to kill the apartment manager.

He told me he used to run around with Mafia friends as a goomba (or, as he defined it, “thug”). 

He helped out with their jewel smuggling.

He roughed people up (and was not sorry for it).

He told me in May 2010 that he’d been arrested more than 100 times for reasons I do not know.

Then he threatened Jeff in June 2010 and said he is easily triggered to physical violence.

Todd confirms this, that Richard told him he helped run smuggled Russian jewels from LA to Las Vegas.

I still have the printout of a chat in which Richard described the goomba activities to me.

He didn’t go into too much detail about what he did, but he was so well-known to the local Mafia in his home state (Italian and Russian) that they had nicknames for him.

The top of the chat got cut off before I printed it, unfortunately.  But in that part he must have described being involved somehow in the smuggling itself, because in the printed part, he talked about how much he knows about gems.

More from that chat:

Richard’s girlfriend and some best friends were in Mafia families which smuggled jewels.

They made him their “goomba.”

He hung around with other goombas who witnessed and spotted while somebody retrieved stolen items or got information.  He hinted that the information was gotten violently.

Since it involved jewels, not drugs, he felt he did nothing criminal–or which should be criminal, according to the Constitution and free market principles.

He never “killed” anyone while doing this goomba stuff.

Why did he put “killed” in quotes?  And what exactly did he do?  Not only that, but he saw it as something he openly and freely shared, not a secret.  He was surprised I didn’t already know about it.

He didn’t seem at all repentant about it.  He said his mother knew about it and didn’t seem to care, he did this while at Bible college (!), and he did worse things when he worked for the government (border guard).  He said that Clinton’s government did some terrible things that nobody knows about (which I won’t divulge here without proof other than his word for it).

But there were these hints at illegal activities when he was a thug, and it didn’t sound so harmless to me.  He hung around with Mafia people, Mafia people had nicknames for him, he helped them smuggle and rough people up, and he saw it as nothing more than a youthful lark?

He was also a dog with women back then, he says (which I’m not so sure has changed), but he saw that as worse than what he did with the Mafia?

But that is not the extent of his violence:

One day in winter or spring 2010, he even yelled in my face for taking out a wipe to clean something sticky (honey?) off his dinner table before setting down my D&D books!

In late 2007 or early 2008, he told me he put the kids in the closet once!  He said his father abused him as a kid but he “deserved” it because he was a little rat, and it made him a better person.  I still remember that conversation very clearly, and have written it down in detail as well.

You’ll often find such claims from the abused, that they “deserved” it, when their spirits are broken and the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in.  Then the abuse gets carried on to the next generation because the abused thinks this is the proper way to act.

He also hinted at some form of abuse he had done to the kids; Todd later told me that when the eldest child (whom he choked) was very small, Richard got so angry once that he beat her mercilessly.

I also have an e-mail from Richard in which he says Tracy kept throwing his own abusive episodes back in his face when he tried to get her to stop abusing the kids.

Just a week or two before the breakup of our friendship, he posted on Facebook asking for suggestions of how to get the girls to clean

without beating them into bloody submission which only gets them flinching when I raise a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.

At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole.  Though when I mentioned it to Jeff, he said it was about time Richard learned that lesson.  Now I’m not so sure it was hyperbole.

And why, according to the newspaper, did Richard choke his daughter just a few months later?  Because she wasn’t listening or cleaning up.

Richard told me in October/November 2007 that he had to be around to keep his wife from abusing the kids, physically and verbally. 

But now it seems that he, too, needs someone to keep an eye on him.

I thought he was a gentle giant, reformed by the Church.  But then he said these things, and then I discovered the criminal case, that he choked his daughter on September 21, 2010, nearly three months after we ended the friendship with him and Tracy.

He was my idol with feet of clay.  And I’m left with this gaping hole in my life and heart where my idol, my perfect friend, once stood, with no clue how to fill it up again.

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