Articles from March 2012

Blogging the Parasite out of my Head: Writing about the abuse

[Update: The full web book is here: The Darkness Engulfs Me: Abuse by Two Narcissists–and Betrayal by a Best Friend and Spiritual Mentor.  A summary is here.]

 

The narcissist blames others for his behaviour, accuses them of provoking him into his temper tantrums and believes firmly that “they” should be punished for their “misbehaviour”.

Apologies – unless accompanied by verbal or other humiliation – are not enough. The fuel of the narcissist’s rage is spent mainly on vitriolic verbal send-offs directed at the (often imaginary) perpetrator of the (oft innocuous) offence.

The narcissist – wittingly or not – utilises people to buttress his self-image and to regulate his sense of self-worth. As long and in as much as they are instrumental in achieving these goals, he holds them in high regard, they are valuable to him. He sees them only through this lens.

This is a result of his inability to love others: he lacks empathy, he thinks utility, and, thus, he reduces others to mere instruments.

If they cease to “function”, if, no matter how inadvertently, they cause him to doubt his illusory, half-baked, self-esteem – they are subjected to a reign of terror.

The narcissist then proceeds to hurt these “insubordinates”. He belittles and humiliates them. He displays aggression and violence in myriad forms.

His behaviour metamorphoses, kaleidoscopically, from over-valuing (idealising) the useful person – to a severe devaluation of same. The narcissist abhors, almost physiologically, people judged by him to be “useless”. —The Soul of a Narcissist by Sam Vaknin

I hope this will be cathartic, get the truth out, so that I can heal from what has emotionally and spiritually traumatized me.  I hope to make it (and my private account) a repository for all the hurt, pain, anger and bitterness, so that I can transfer it out of my heart.

I have dealt with previous abusive situations in this way, putting them into writing and then posting them on the Web, and it has been largely successful in helping me move on past those times.

I feel that if I just make it vanish, hide the story, it will do no more good than it did with my previous abuse stories.

For example, right after college I began writing College Memoirs, which were a combination of good things and life during that time, and the terrible things that happened with guys who used and abused (I hesitate to refer to them as “men”).

I was going to publish them, but feared libel suits, so I began putting the stories into my fiction instead.

But since the demands of fiction are that you don’t put your own life stories into your stories exactly as they occurred, or else your stories will appear pieced together like Frankenstein, I didn’t feel like my stories of abuse were quite dealt with yet.

I also read an article in Writer’s Digest about writing and publishing abuse stories, and the healing it can bring:

Harrison told her editor that she wanted to write a nonfiction book about her relationship with her father. Because the editor had published Harrison’s autobiographical first novel, she asked if she was sure she wanted to do that.

Harrison was sure. In fact, she’d been trying to write about her father in an essay but felt she was trying to do too much in too short a space. Feeling as if she’d betrayed herself and her story by first writing about the affair as fiction, she had a compelling need to set the record straight.

…“One of the solaces that art can offer you is the chance to make something out of what’s hurt you. You can objectify an experience, put it on paper, craft it and shape it. There’s perhaps an illusory control over it. But it is significant.” –Sandra Hurtes, Spilling Secrets

So I posted a public version of my College Memoirs, first in e-mails to friends, then on a Myspace blog, then on my website.

Even though they don’t get many hits, the stories have been read by some, and in the past several years, I feel myself finally moving past these things that happened 15-20 years ago.  They are on the Webpages now and don’t have to be carried around inside me.

I also have a full account of what happened in this new case, but it is so personal and private that I keep it locked away from anyone but myself.  Just as with the College Memoirs, I have a personal and a private version.

My hope is that this blog will have the same effect as those public Memoirs.  It has been said many times that the abused need to get their stories out into the open, not hide them for fear of “airing dirty laundry,” because that just victimizes them further.

I’ve been revising a full account of the abusive situation with Richard and Tracy–book-length–which I wrote before I wrote these smaller summaries and blog posts.  I intend to post a link to it when I’m done, because it’s far too long for a blog post.

[Update 1/22/14: It’s been up since May 2012, and now I’m revising it again, and putting it in small chunks on this blog as well.]

As I work on it, it answers questions that come up.  For example, I was starting to feel like Tracy was right and the disagreements were my fault.  But as I reviewed the details of the time we lived in the same house, I began to remember:

No, what really happened was that I saw her behavior as a mix of jealousy and abuse, of control, and it was part of a full picture of abuse, not just about her objecting to a couple of things I wanted to do.

It was about all the crap I saw her doing to Richard and the kids every day.  It was about a battered man defending his battering.  It was about her smacking his arm and giving him looks so full of anger and threat, that he looked scared.

It was about her overhearing me telling my husband not just about her jealousy, but about her abusive behavior of Richard and the children.

It was about her starting a smear campaign against me, deliberately to drive a wedge between Richard and me.

Because it was never about me being a woman friend of her husband (he has lots of those), but about me recognizing that she is indeed a domestic abuser and violent.

Jealousy was just her red herring, the thing she seized upon so she could make Richard and anybody else think it was all about me behaving “inappropriately.”

Even though the things she objected to were all perfectly harmless, and Richard’s idea to begin with, she twisted them around to make me look bad, because she couldn’t let anybody think that she is abusive, controlling and possessive.

The things I wanted to do were perfectly harmless, and there was nothing wrong with me wanting to do them.  Richard does them, my friends do them, people do these things with their friends.

She actually accused me of disrespecting her by wanting to go out for coffee/ice cream with Richard, but that’s ludicrous BS, as anyone can see.  As long as the wife knows you’re going out for the coffee/ice cream, that’s all you need for it to be perfectly “respectful,” so she knows her husband isn’t sneaking around having an affair.

No, she had to put the spotlight all on me with all her ridiculous “rules” which I couldn’t possibly meet–

–so she could continue doing her bad behaviors in the darkness–

–so that Richard would never break free of her control.

The trouble is, she so successfully convinced Richard of her smears, and so successfully turned things around on me, that on 7/1/10, she still made it all about me, still tried to insist that I was the one in the “wrong”–

–not because I was actually wrong–

–but to take the focus off her and her own abuse and bad behaviors.

The other trouble is that abusers can so worm their way into your head, that even though a part of you screams that you’re not the one in the wrong, you’re not the one behaving badly–another part of you keeps thinking, “What if she’s right?  What if I really am the one behaving badly?”

I’ve been fighting this for years, not since 7/1/10 or the e-mails she sent me 8/1/10, but since January 2008.

It gets imbedded so deeply that it almost seems impossible to get out.  It’s like a parasite.

Blogging is helping me to get it out, finally, because:

  • not only can I write about what happened,
  • but I have all sorts of private writings which I can look back at later and see what I wrote,
  • and I also have this foundation already written, on which I can build with more memories and insights as they come to me.

I thought maybe I shouldn’t blog about this, just keep it under wraps.  But now I see that it must come out, that silence is just what bullies want out of their victims.

And if Richard or Tracy sees it, so be it.  This is what Richard and Tracy are truly like.  I am not lying. 

And I have online court records and newspaper reports to prove that I am telling the truth about them. 

[Update: They found it just two months after I posted this, and both accused me of lying and threatened me, as you can read here.]

I must keep blogging to get the parasite out of my system once and for all, so I can be free at last of Tracy’s influence.

Step 1

Learn more about the dynamics of what happened to you by reading the personal accounts of victims recovering from similar abuse. When you find out that you are not alone and how others are coping with the same type of abuse, it will assist your recovery progress significantly.

With severe abuse, often the abused individual is locked into a fixed and rigid perspective about what has happened to them and what will happen because of the abuse.

From the personal stories of other similar abuse victims in the recovery process, you will begin to unlock your perspective of things and see your abuse from other new and important perspectives.

This simple change of perspective and seeing new perspectives has amazing healing powers.

These personal stories are not professional “How to” recovery manuals. They do what professional abuse recovery manuals simply cannot do, because no matter how expert the professionals are (unless they were also similarly abused), they cannot see the specific abuse experience from the complex inside dynamics as only another abuse victim can.

For example, at FACTNet we suggest that an individual who was sexually abused as a child by a cult that condones the sexual use and abuse of children should read the stories and recovery debriefings of other victims of that cult or similar cults who were sexually abused. Read and heal! –Lawrence Wollersheim, How I healed the psychological injuries from my abuse in a cult

I have all parts of this story now up and running.  Here it is, the whole ugly story, here for various reasons:

  • to defend myself and my innocence
  • to break the silence which abusers want their victims to keep
  • to get Tracy’s parasite out of my head
  • to have peace and remove Tracy’s destructive poison through this surgical removal (ie, writing about it) out of my heart and onto the [digital] page
  • to warn others about how narcissists and other personality disordered persons can work
  • to sympathize with those with NLD, Asperger’s and introversion who are bullied by those who do not understand them
  • to stick up for all abused and bullied people
  • to provide help for those abused people who feel driven to read the abuse stories of others

I recall how hard it was to find stories of people who had been abused by friends or spouses of friends rather than by family, co-workers, classmates or significant others; this adds one more.  I know what it’s like to constantly search the web looking for stories of other people, in various stages of their healing journey, who have been through abuse in some way.

They may rage at their targets in verbally and emotionally abusive ways. Yet they have the gall to blame the target for the abusive language and emotions they are showing. This is known as projection.

It seems they want to distract from their own questionable behaviors, so they will blame somebody else for doing worse. And they love to play victim of imagined hurts and spites from their targets.

Borderlines are often very controlling, frequently while accusing a victim of theirs as being controlling or uncaring.

Using emotional blackmail and threats of false reports to the police or others who might be duped into taking their side are some of the ways they establish and maintain control.

The discussion is primarily about them and their inner emotional turmoil, not so much about the target. They are upset and somebody else has to be blamed for it whether it’s accurate or not.

Imagine living with these kinds of exchanges on daily basis. The frequent unpredictability, jabs, blaming sessions, and insults make you feel insecure and cut down your self-esteem over time. You’re being abused, but are at the same time are being falsely accused of being the abuser.

This is particularly difficult for men to handle as they are socially conditioned to try to take responsibility for fixing problems. Yet BPD is not a problem a significant other can solve. –Rob, Talking with a borderline

My Trip to Oz and Back is much like my own blogs, an account of two years spent by the writer with her girlfriend, which was actually a 50-page letter sent by the author to her ex-girlfriend.

That was in the late 90s, when the author had never heard of borderline personality disorder, so there had been no official diagnosis for her to point to.  But the more she learned about BPD, the more she knew her ex-girlfriend had it, so she posted this letter to help others who are dealing with someone with BPD.

It has been on the Web since 2003, and by November 2006 had received 53,000 hits.  As the author wrote on the main page,

Writing this was cathartic. It doubled as a form of therapy. I actually did send the letter; however, I doubt that it had much effect.  The more I learned about BPD, the more I realized that the likelihood of this person ever really understanding, was probably close to zero….

Why would I want to put such a personal document online?  There are several reasons. First, I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of what it is like to be in a relationship with a person with BPD. There are many books and websites on BPD, but relatively few from a significant other’s point of view.

Second, I am hoping that someone out there might read a bit and identify with it.  When one is in a difficult situation, sometimes just hearing about another person’s similar experience can be affirming–as in, “I’m not the only one.”

Finally, I consider myself a success story–see the final chapter, the epilogue.  My wish is to give hope to others.

Like me, the author changed names and identifying details.  This is to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.  Joyful Alive Woman also wrote about her abusive, narcissist, former female friend.

The contents of the web-book:

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build


8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Finding out people you love have a dark side

Finding out someone you loved (romantically, or friendship, or family member) is not what you thought they were, brings a unique pain.

First, there were two guys I loved in college.  I thought they were wonderful; as it turned out, one (Peter) was apparently pretending to be more religious than he really was, and the other (Phil) was a manipulative, deceitful abuser.  But they were exes, and it’s expected that exes will let you down and leave your life eventually.

But when it’s a friend or family member….

First, in 2007, I found out that my family had been hiding things from me about my father for my entire life.  He had a whole secret habit that I knew nothing about, that I had always been taught was sinful, but everyone but me knew about it.

Then the same day I found out about it, my mom thought he had left her, and considered divorce.  That turned out to be a misunderstanding, but the secret was out, and I had to deal with discovering that my dad was not what I always thought he was.

Then there was my former best friend Richard.  I just got an e-mail today from a forum we used to go on together to defend Orthodoxy.  I couldn’t stand getting these reminders anymore from a forum we haven’t been on for nearly three years, so I went to try to delete my account.  However, there is no way to do that.

It reminded me of how religious and righteous he always seemed to be, and how the truth was that he’s showing traits of narcissism, that he’s a violent man who did an evil, evil deed, nearly killing his 9-year-old daughter by choking her to unconsciousness.

Then there was finding out what my former boss did.  I thought he was a good person, despite his temper, and I liked him.  But no, he’s so violently abusive that he went to jail for 9 months, drove away the wife he loved, and lost custody of all his children.

I’m still mourning for him and for Richard, as if they had died, because the person I thought I knew, is dead–or never existed.

How do you get past finding out that people you love, are not what you thought they were?  That they’ve been deceiving you, or that they’re actually evil?

And how do you stop wishing they would come to you and apologize for what they’ve done, or prove that they’ve changed so you can be friends again?

I suppose there are many people out there who feel the same pain: former mates of narcissists, abused spouses, people who were mentored by priests who turned out to be molesters.

Can you ever get over it?

 

Who’s the Neanderthal here?: On Jealousy and Opposite-Sex Friends

Just read the latest Annie’s Mailbox and the comments made by readers.  That poor woman, Betty–sends an old friend and co-worker a nice Christmas card, trying to get back in touch, and now people who don’t even know her are saying such things as,

HE IS OBVIOUSLY IS 5CREWING AROUND WITH THIS 5TINKING VVHORE.  ANYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE IS  BLIND, RETARDED NEANDERTHAL. (commenter on the Arcamax link [now removed])

People are saying things like, the note was too personal.  One commenter said,

Sorry I don’t know any woman outside of a formal requirement who would send a card to a married man she wasn’t plowing, missed plowing, or was wanting to plow for exactly the reasons listed here.

I feel sorry for this poor Betty.  For one thing, it’s been three years and, from what she wrote, it sounds like they haven’t seen each other in those three years.  We have nothing more to go on than a jealous wife’s claims–and even her children are telling her to let it go, already.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Fortunately, most of the commenters on these two sites are far more reasonable, and modern, and see this as an innocent note which the wife is blowing way out of proportion.  They’re far more concerned about the husband’s actions.

But as has also been noted, while his actions could be those of a guilty party, they’re also likely to be those of a guy who knows he’s innocent and doesn’t want to get into a fight with his jealous wife.

An affair is not at all the only reason why some people hide things from their spouses: Some people will fly off the handle about things that do not deserve it.  So either way, Bill and his wife need counseling.

I mean, geez, I send notes like that to people all the time.  Maybe a Christmas card, maybe a letter, Facebook post, an e-mail.  Male, female, married, single, it makes no difference.  And I’m a respectable woman who does not go around trying to “plow” anybody but my own husband.

My husband, too, looked at the column, and said that Betty did nothing wrong.  He said it’s quite likely that “Bill” just feels like he’s doing nothing wrong, does not want to be forced to drop an innocent friend–especially if he’s feeling lonely and missing his old co-workers–and doesn’t want to get into an argument over it, so that’s why he hides it.  And note that he did try to display the Christmas card; why would he do that if Betty were his mistress?

It just burns me up that there are still people who think that jealousy without actual cause (this card from Betty is hardly cause) and trying to control their spouses is somehow “right.”  That people are accusing this Betty of things that she probably was not doing.

People need to lighten up already.  The circles I’m used to, are far more relaxed about opposite-sex friends.  I’ve even been accused of keeping my husband on a “long leash” because I didn’t want him to share a hotel room with one of our female friends for an out-of-town medieval recreation (SCA) event.  (I’m still scratching my head over that one, but it shows the general mindset of faith and trust of the people I’m used to being around.)

Faith and trust leads to long marriages.  If your spouse still cheats on you, it’ll all be on his own head, not yours for being a shrew who drove him away.  It’s often been noted that jealousy can actually drive your spouse into the arms of somebody else.  Be the one he wants to come home to, not the one he wants to get away from.

As commenter #76 stated, and as I have stated myself in the past, marriage does not equal ownership.  You’re not the jailer keeping your spouse under lock and key, only letting them do what you okay.  You are two partners, and two individuals.  Jealousy is actually the number one indicator of a potentially abusive marriage.

See here for Carolyn Hax’s view on the subject.  Control is also a crucial element of spousal abuse, as is isolation from family and friends.  Controlling your spouse’s friendships, having to “approve” friendships, is a huge indicator of abuse.

Imagine Bill being in the place of the wife; would jealous behavior seem so appropriate if his wife had received this card from a friend?  Of course not!

And imagine if it had come from a same-sex friend.  The wording is exactly the same, but now it seems perfectly innocent.

People are reading in subtext when they should be looking at the actual words, not their imaginations.  Subtext gets you into trouble–as is evident on Internet forums when people often start getting into fights over things that nobody actually said.

A few commenters had a much better idea: The wife should be pleasant about it all, ask to meet the friend, maybe make a day of it while she goes off shopping afterwards and lets them catch up for an hour, then wife and Bill go see the grandkids.

Being aware of a friendship is perfectly fine; you don’t have to be best friends with the person yourself, but it’s good to know what’s going on, and to meet the person.  If Bill balks at that, then you can smell trouble.

Besides, it may turn out that Betty is older than him, or hasn’t aged well.  Or even if she’s young and pretty, maybe she has zero romantic interest in a guy old enough to be her father, sees him as a father figure or mentor, and misses their long talks about her problems with her boyfriend/in-laws/abuse/etc.  Or maybe she’s a lesbian.  Or very plain.  You can’t tell just from one card.

If it’s a mirror you want, just look into my eyes
Or a whipping boy, someone to despise
Or a prisoner in the dark
Tied up in chains you just can’t see
Or a beast in a gilded cage
That’s all some people ever want to be

If you love somebody, set them free

You can’t control an independent heart
Can’t tear the one you love apart
Forever conditioned to believe that we can’t live
We can’t live here and be happy with less
So many riches, so many souls
Everything we see we want to possess

If you need somebody, call my name
If you want someone, you can do the same
If you want to keep something precious
You got to lock it up and throw away the key
If you want to hold onto your possession
Don’t even think about me

–Sting, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

If you never give him room
You’re gonna lose.
He’s feeling like he’s tied up in a knot
Ev’ry time he comes home late he’s on the spot.
Trust him to be the kind of man he wants to be
You aren’t gonna keep him long if you give him
The third degree.

Let him go
Let him go
Do the things he’s got to do

Give him the freedom that he needs even though it worries you.
Let him go
Let him go
Have the faith that he’ll be true
It’s the only way you can be sure he’ll come back to you.

You want your life with him to work so well
You forget the love you need to give yourself.
I understand your desire to keep him near
But you poison love when you mix it up with fear.
Trust yourself to be the woman that you want to be
If you both have room to grow
Then you’ll live in harmony.

–Animotion, Let Him Go

 

My boss of 4 years was a narcissist, too, and wound up in jail

Checking CCAP to see if people I know are on there, is not something I normally do.  Most people I know are normal, law-abiding citizens, and I have no interest in poking around in their divorce or parking ticket information.  But now that I’m aware of this resource, there are people in my past with questionable characters whom I wonder about.

A while ago, I checked to see if my abusive and malignant narcissist ex-fiancé, Phil, had ever done anything that got the attention of the law.  Turns out he did, back when he was married.  There are no details, but there was some sort of disorderly conduct in 2003.  There was a victim who gave an “impact statement.”  He had to fulfill a deferred prosecution agreement, which then got the charges dismissed a year later.

Then I thought, You know, my former boss, an insurance agent, did have questionable character, and lately I’ve been thinking he was probably a narcissist.  He wasn’t my main boss, but gave me supplemental income with 2-5 hours a week if I would do his changes and filing.

I considered him a friend, liked him, chatted with him sometimes, thought he was funny–but he could also be an ass at times.  (No, there was no boss-secretary hanky panky going on; it was strictly platonic.  But, as I told my main boss, he was my “favorite person” at the office.)

One day, the office secretary told me he was in the hospital.  I was horrified, but it turned out to be something involving an ear infection that went bad.  It was probably something like mastoiditis or malignant otitis, not your typical ear infection, very serious but the doctors got it under control.

The office secretary said they were not going to send him flowers or a card, so I got the information from her and sent him a get-well card.  It included a little note about how boring the office was without him talking about nose hair etc. (referring to something he had recently said).  It was sweet, and I later saw it in his office, which told me that it meant enough to him to bring with him as a keepsake.

I did my best to get his files in order, which was quite a feat because they were a huge mess before I started working for him.  He had no secretary for a while, since his wife no longer wanted to do it for him, and he just threw papers into files without any regard for how home office wanted them organized, making it horrible to try to keep up with the policies properly.

I updated the computer, did his changes and applications, stamped and processed the mail from home office, even remembered to update his no contact list along with my main boss’s (the home office sent this list to all agents after the state No Contact List was established for telemarketers and business owners).

And I did all this in an office which was perpetually a disaster area, papers and things strewn all over the place.  He was amazed at how well I fixed up the files, and he’d tell me and clients about our little “team,” “You’re the brains and I’m the face.”

One year, he gave me a little Christmas present, a Santa candy jar.  I told him Santa “has a big ole’ butt,” and he laughed.  I still use that candy jar, and my son likes it.  When he was gone while I worked, I’d play Radio Free Abattoir, a Goth music webstream; when he was there, he’d assault my ears with blues or AC/DC played excessively loud, which annoyed the nearby secretaries as well.

But he also had a wacky sense of humor which nobody but me seemed to “get,” so I’d be chuckling while the other secretaries chided him (like when he complained about people with long nose hairs).  He was always running late, so his friends (who were also clients) would tell us they always told him an earlier time than they actually wanted him to be there.

Sure he had a temper, which got on my nerves occasionally, but I thought he was harmless, just an unmotivated goof.

But on the other hand, he was difficult to deal with, rarely paid me on time, kept docking my hours, occasionally yelled at me for nothing, made me clean his office.

Because he kept docking my hours, I often had a backlog of filing to do along with all his changes, which often didn’t have enough information, so I’d have to call him on his cell because he’d gone off again.  Because of the backlog in filing, the files themselves often did not have updated information.

But when I asked for more hours, he wouldn’t give them to me, saying they cost too much–even though he was only paying me $7/hour for two to five hours a week.

There were complaints from some of his clients about how they should’ve known better than to do business with a friend.  He had so little business that the office secretaries wondered how he paid his bills, and wished he would work harder to get more clients.  And he kept arguing with one of the underwriters, a lady who he felt had it in for him.

But it got even worse after he spent time in the hospital for an ear infection, and his temper seemed to turn foul, so that for months he was nothing like the fun-loving guy he’d been before.  He complained of constant headaches.  The ear infection was early in 2002.

I recall overhearing, probably in late 2002 or early 2003, sometimes while in his office and sometimes while out of his office, as he yelled and screamed on the phone at people in the home office.  I recall as he screamed “Merry Christmas” at some guy.

One day (whether before or after the ear infection I can no longer remember), he was trying to deal with a credit card company, but because it was under his wife’s name and not his, they wouldn’t let him do anything.  He actually asked me to impersonate his wife and talk to them.

!!!!

I said NO.

He said, “Nyssa, come on, please!” and acted like I was being unreasonable.

NO!

Then he called up the card company again, and began speaking in a falsetto voice, impersonating his wife himself!  And they bought it!

Also, after he’d been at war with an underwriter for weeks, in early 2003 she came to audit his files, and they weren’t complete because–even though I did my part and gave him all the information he needed to get his own work done, such as cost estimators and pictures of the various properties that were missing–he had not done his part.

I wasn’t there at the time, since I only worked a few hours a day and hadn’t come in yet.  But I was told there was quite a blowup, with him raging all over the office and finally quitting in a huff.

I gave him a note to try to get him to change his mind, but it was made up.  He was also in the doghouse with his wife over it, but one of the other secretaries told me that if he hadn’t quit, the office manager was going to fire him anyway because of things he’d been doing lately.

As for the note, it was an e-mail I sent to his work computer, but it had already been locked; he had no e-mail at home.  So I printed up the e-mail and brought it to work.  When he came back to pack up his office, I gave him the e-mail.

I’d have to dig it up to recall what all it said, but I remember something about considering him a friend and wishing he would reconsider quitting.  From the way he acted, he seemed pleasantly surprised, had no idea I felt that way.

He thought it was sweet and said he would miss me, too, said I should be his secretary if he set up his own office.  (I made sure when I wrote it that it was worded so his wife would not object to anything in it, in case she saw it.  It was platonic.)

The office secretary did not like him at all.  She claimed to be a good judge of character as she told another secretary why she did not like him.  I thought she was too hard on him, while I was more willing to see him as a good person underneath his gruffness.

She was always arguing with him, and when he left, she wondered if he would violate the contract he had signed, which had something to do with not getting a job with a competitor.

But I did like him, and was so upset that I cried when he quit.  I was so miserable that for months afterwards, I would see his empty office and sigh.  I was also miserable because I had fun working for him (except when he was being an ass), and now all I could get to supplement my income was a couple of hours of just filing.  No changes, no fixing files, because the other agent already had another secretary; just filing.

That whole period was very distressing, because a couple of months later, our church terminated the youth pastor position for financial reasons, the youth group disbanded, and my wonderful time being a helper in the youth group was suddenly over.

I did contact my former boss on occasion during the following year, but I didn’t hear anything from him after that.  The first year, 2003, and maybe 2004, he and his wife sent us a Christmas card, as did my main boss and his wife.

But there was nothing after that, and I wondered if it was because, with the baby, I had gotten too busy to send Christmas cards, and you know how people will cut you off their list if you don’t send cards.

I wondered why he didn’t contact me, but I was too busy with my little boy to worry about such things too much.  I had since moved on from the disappointment of his quitting in 2003–especially since I didn’t work there anymore, either, since my other boss retired and I was now a stay-at-home mother.

I did occasionally check social networking sites such as Facebook to see if he was there, like I do with all my old friends (including my other boss), but he wasn’t.

Now I find that in 2005, his wife complained of domestic abuse and harassment! filed a restraining order! divorced him!  There’s a note that the court found him to be unemployed in 2006 because of his own conduct; I remember how he had trouble finding and keeping jobs after he quit.  There was a psychological evaluation; there are suggestions of child abuse, because he could only see the kids with supervision.

During the long, drawn-out divorce, he got into even more trouble through some sort of violent domestic disturbance that involved spousal and, possibly, child abuse, even broken lights of a detention center, and damages to a car and his ex’s residence and, apparently, even the children’s school, leading to multiple charges, a few convictions, and jail time!  So, of course, his ex got sole custody of the kids.

Some more searching in the archives of his hometown newspaper, revealed that one night, he left several threatening messages for his wife, who had recently filed for divorce and a restraining order because of domestic violence. 

Then he drove the car into their house, causing extensive damage to the kitchen and totaling the car

–the same car that he used to drive to work every day, the same car I’d look for in the parking lot to see if he was going to be there while I worked for him, the same car I think he used once or twice to give me a ride home on a stormy day because I walked to work.

Then he came to the door, and while his wife tried to call 911, he confronted her.  Eventually, she was able to call 911 from a neighbor’s house.  He resisted arrest; kicked one officer in the groin several times; had to be dragged to the squad car.  He even broke lights at the detention center.

There was

extensive damage to the kitchen area, including water running from broken pipes, kitchen cabinets strewn throughout the kitchen and dining room, water pouring into the basement and the front end of the car lodged in the siding of the house.

He faced extensive charges, $50,000 bail, even 22 years of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines if he’d been convicted on all counts, but as there often are, there were plea bargains and other deals which lessened the sentence.

The District Attorney said, “My biggest concern was the protection of the public.  And there are a lot of incentives built in for him to get his behavior back to normal.”  He said the purpose of the deferred prosecution agreement was “that I’ll have more control over him rather than if he had just pled to the felonies.”

My former boss was ordered to stay on his medication, take domestic violence and anger management counseling, and was even sentenced to nine months in jail and three years probation.

I didn’t really know his wife, only seeing her on occasion, such as at office Christmas parties.  But she seemed like a nice person.

Neither of the wives of my bosses showed any sign of jealousy about their husbands’ secretary, and seemed like nice people.  When I told this boss, a few months after he quit, that my husband and I were finally going to have a baby after trying for a while, he told his wife, and said, “She couldn’t believe it!” and how happy she was for us.

I know he had occasional issues with her, but they seemed like nothing more than normal marital tiffs.  But I do recall saying to my husband on occasion, “I’m glad I’m not married to [my boss],” because of something he’d say (like, part of the whole point of going to a bachelor party was to not behave himself), or that I overheard him saying to a friend (complaining that women are great at spending too much money).  So I can’t imagine her doing anything to deserve this kind of behavior from him.

The office secretary was right about him!  And why do I keep liking people who turn out to be abusive narcissists?

Most of my friends are normal, but my ex Phil was an abusive narcissist, the guy Shawn whom I loved but used me, was probably a narcissist, my favorite boss was an abusive narcissist, and now my best friend of five years, Richard, turned out to be an abusive narcissist!

How do I keep attracting these people?  And why do I find myself drawn to them?

 

Whether and when to forgive an abuser

Wednesday night, All-Merciful Saviour Monastery posted a link on Facebook: The Morning Offering.  They were referring to the blog for Tuesday, February 28, 2012, “Rejected: When People Don’t Forgive.”  [Also on their new site here.] 

I need to print this out because it refers to abusive people who live their lives with a chip on their shoulders, taking it out on you–but neither do they forgive you for your “offenses” against them, whether real or imagined, but they refuse to apologize themselves.

Apparently three of the things I did were correct according to the Church, even though counselors may disagree:

  1. apologizing for what offended Tracy, even though it was only in her own head and she was the actual abuser
  2. walking away when she not only did not forgive (at least, not without an ultimatum that required me to submit to even more of her abuse and control), but did not apologize for her own abusive behavior
  3. and praying that she come to repentance.

The thing I haven’t done yet is forgive.  It’s a lot harder to do that without an apology, and I’ve still been using anger to distance myself from her and Richard so it doesn’t hurt as much to give up Richard’s friendship.

I still keep wishing he would apologize and we would be friends again, and this disturbs me because I know very well now that he has a violent, scary side.

I don’t intend to go forever without forgiving.  But I have also come across blogs and blog commenters who have been abused, and say that forgiveness is impossible until you’ve healed; otherwise, it’s premature and false forgiveness.  But I do want to come to forgiveness eventually.

This monk’s blog says that if I forgive the abuser, I will be justified before God, and I am only responsible for my own response, not the abuser’s.  It also says that forgiveness is only possible through Christ: It’s not something humans just naturally do.

Reconciliation is a different thing from forgiveness, and is only possible if Richard and Tracy apologize and end their abusive and violent ways–not just to me, but to each other, the children and other people as well.

Currently, I’m going through this blog and its many comments, when I have time: Forgive the Abusers: A Bit of a Rant

I keep going back and forth about whether or not to blog about these things publicly.  But I see all sorts of other blogs on the Net about personal abuse stories.  It’s one way people are using these days to deal with it.  It’s part of that “if you’re silent, the abusers will get away with it” way of thinking.

And songwriters and poets have always done this in their own way as well (i.e., Linkin Park, Adele, Eminem, Carly Simon, Alannis Morissette, etc.).

I do like reading such blogs and finding I’m not alone, whether it’s reading a story of a narcissistic friend, or a note about how hard it is to forgive any kind of abuser, or forum posts about seeing the abuser again at a restaurant or in family get-togethers.  It’s far more real than, say, reading some magazine article about what you’re supposed to do to forgive/get over abuse.

And if such a writer can talk about some horrible abuse story and how she was able to get through the pain and forgive her abuser, then I know it’s possible for anyone.

Because while the anger is necessary for a time, if you hold onto it for too long, it can begin to twist you into an abuser yourself.

There’s no way I want to be like Tracy.  I DO NOT WANT TO BE ANOTHER TRACY.  I must not let her poison work its way through my system until I become like her. 

I want to continue keeping my husband happy, and help my son grow up healthy and happy. 

And I want that salvation that leads to eternity going from one level of bliss to another, getting ever closer to God–not an eternity of self-imposed darkness as the bitterness consumes me.

As you can see from reading my posts on Richard and Tracy, I have a lot of crap to get out of my system and deal with.

It’s a lot harder when the perpetrators act like their treatment of you was somehow deserved by you, that you just need to “GROW UP” and “stop feeling hurt over the consequences of YOUR behavior.”

When one of the perpetrators even posted on her Facebook wall that she was having a “GREAT day” because she was yelling and screaming at you.

When these perpetrators occasionally show up at your church and, instead of trying to make peace with you and apologize as you had hoped, they freeze you out as if you were scum who still needs to “GROW UP” and apologize to them, and then leave without saying a word of kindness or apology to you.

When one of them was a very close, very dear friend whom you trusted with your darkest secrets.

It doesn’t just go away, and I fear the pain that would grip me if I let go of the anger too soon.

Certain religions, cults and spiritual practices encourage you to avoid emotions, particularly anger. They stress forgiveness and are not likely to support you in confronting your abuser.

These attitudes do not promote healing. If you are involved in a practice that denies your needs as a survivor in an active healing process, you are not helping yourself. —What AA Does for Survivors of Abuse or Trauma

Therapy for abuse survivors will guide them to experience feelings which are 180 degrees the opposite of the ones promoted by the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. (namely anger & rage to name a few) As an example, here’s a checklist of healing stages for survivors of sexual abuse. Note how many feelings run counter to the AA way!

  • anger
  • rage
  • discarding the wrongful belief that the abuse was somehow the survivors fault (instead of “looking at one’s part! -which is entirely inappropriate!)
  • confronting the abuser (if the survivor wishes to); holding the abuser accountable for his/her behavior
  • forgiveness at the END of the healing process (NOT the beginning!), and as an option rather than a requirement! Note that forgiveness makes sense in cases where perpetrators have made restitution, have expressed remorse and have demonstrated rehabilitation, otherwise, forgiveness simply excuses perpetrators for harms done. An exception, in the absence of these criteria, is if s/he is dead.

For battered women (or men) who need to break the cycle of domestic violence, counselors will advise them to feel these “forbidden” feelings, which will impel them to leave the dangerous scenario.  Acceptance is the WORST advice they could be getting.

They will be guided to feel angry at the abuse and to work toward “rebellion” which will be the motivator for leaving. These feelings and behaviors are temporary, and they serve to HEAL FROM OR TO GET THE INDIVIDUAL OUT OF THE PATTERN OF ABUSE.

Only after s/he has worked through the abuse, or has gotten out of the pattern itself, can a more relaxed personality can be adopted.

It is those individuals who do not respond to mistreatment with the “forbidden feelings” that act in a psychologically unsound way. Sadly, this is the ideal set before the recovering alcoholic by the program itself.  Deviation from this ideal is regarded as “not working the program”. —Anger, Rebelliousness and Other Forbidden Feelings

I don’t think those people who tried to sell me forgiveness were trying to hurt me. I’m sure they were only trying to help and were speaking from their own fears. They may not have intended harm, but it was harmful.

Forgiveness is a personal issue and one of the most sensitive in dealing with abuse. Forgiving my parents was one product of my healing, not the means to it. –Christina Enevoldsen, What About Forgiveness?

This post is about discussing the issues of forgiveness within the context of abuse. There is no need to define the type of abuse because all forms of abuse cause the same issues and damage.

It also discusses forgiveness within the contexts of no confession; no repentance; no admission of fault; betrayal; defiance; lies; denials and injustice….

As a victim of crime and a survivor of the most appalling sexual, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and religious abuse I find myself grappling with issues to do with deliberate cruelty, betrayal, lies, denial, play-acting, justice, injustice, defiance and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard at the best of times, but is certainly easier if the person admits their fault, confesses and repents, maybe even apologises.

Forgiveness becomes virtually impossible when the guilty are faced with the truth, faced with the legal consequences, but do not respond with humility but with defiance, denials, play-acting and lies.

By doing so they evaded justice. By doing so they evaded exposure of their crimes. By doing so they stuck 2-fingers in front of my face and in front of the face of God. By doing so they showed no comprehension of the way their actions, lies and denials when confronted with the truth tore my life apart.

I’m left wondering how on earth can I forgive when my abusers deny any wrongdoing, carry on their lives hard faced, glorying in their win, going about as if cruelty is normal and as if it is normal to have nothing to do with your daughter?

I’m left wondering how God who hates injustice can allow such injustice to happen on top of all the injustices of all the other abuses. I’m left feeling that my life is just injustice piled on injustice until there is nothing left but injustice and devastation….

Speaking the truth of what they did helps to put the blame and guilt where it lies and that is on the shoulders of the person who did the wrong not on the person who is struggling to forgive and honestly grappling with the hurt and lack of closure. …

It’s very hard when people are deliberately and defiantly non repentant and hard faced – turning up in church as if nothing is wrong and nothing has happened.

Having to cope with your abusers turning up in church whilst deliberately sticking 2 fingers up at God is beyond the capacity of describe.

Having to cope with your abusers continuing to use the church as their cover story is beyond awful and beyond hypocrisy. Having them do all of that on that back of having lied and denied to prevent justice and to prevent exposure is disgusting and distasteful at the very least.

It is utterly appalling for me as a victim, for those who gave evidence against them to the police and for the church leadership who now know the truth about them. It’s totally ghastly and repulsive to be brutally honest.

It is as if they have no conscience at all. Sometimes when people have lied and denied for long enough they actually believe their lies and denials to be absolute truth regardless of evidence to the contrary. Thus they worm their way out of it and can be incredibly and frighteningly convincing in their true lies…

Without confession, repentance, admission of guilt or other things which lead to closure surely it will always be there at the back of your mind.

Having to watch your abusers behaving as if nothing untoward happened and all is normal fuels the fire. When people have been so deliberately cruel to you and are so defiant when faced with the truth where can you go?

How can such defiance be coped with, processed and gotten out of your mind. It is in reality and in all truth extremely difficult.

It’s almost impossible to forgive cruel people who lie, pretend all is normal and do all they can legally to silence you and keep their evil deeds secret. –Princess Fi, BETRAYAL, DEFIANCE, LIES, DENIAL, INJUSTICE, FORGIVENESS ISSUES

Why is it that so many Christians don’t get that you can be a Christian and be in such a mess. Why is that?

Instead of coming alongside me, giving me space to tell my story and helping, it was oh just forgive, forget, move on, it happened so long ago, stop harping on about it, stop dragging it up from the past. WHY IS THAT?

How can I ever forget 20 years of abuse and torture? It may have happened a long time ago, but I live with it every minute I’m awake and then in my nightmares when I do sleep. For me it’s not in the past but very much in the present.

How can I forgive when my abusers deny anything ever happened? How can I forgive when my abusers say anything bad that ‘might’ have happened was because I such a bad person, they did nothing wrong?

Why are churches and so many Christians so closed minded about the realities of living with past sexual abuse? Why are churches and so many Christians so closed minded about the realities of the deep damage of childhood abuse and the complexities of the healing processes?

Why do so many churches have systems in place to prevent abuse happening, but provide little or no support to REALLY help victims heal? Why is it that so many Christians tell you that as you are a Christian, you are a new person so your past is gone, so all the stuff from your past abuse should be gone too?

Why is it that so many Christians tell you that you are doing something wrong if you aren’t healing from the damage of the abuse or if you don’t have joy etc?

Why do so many Christians tell you that if you read your bible enough and pray enough you should be fine? Thereby implying that you cannot be reading your bible or praying enough because you are a screwed up mess!

Why is it that so many Christians think you don’t need counseling or anything; you just need to get over it, forgive your abusers and forget it? WHY IS THAT?” –Princess Fi, Spiritual + Religious Abuse

Also see: What About Forgiveness?
A Thought On Forgiveness