Confronting Shawn’s Psychological Abuse; A Proposed Cool-Off–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–December 1992, Part 2

Confronting Shawn’s Psychological Abuse

On the 10th, I got up at 8:19 but had to lie down to not get overcome by nausea (the flu, you dirty-minded people), but Clarissa was probably at class by that time.

My first impulse was to call Shawn because we both had Music History that morning.  I could also have called Pearl, but Cindy might still be sleeping.  At least if I called Shawn, it would probably be a wake-up call, the only thing he’d found so far that got him up on time.

I brought the phone (just a receiver with a cord, no cradle) to my desk so I could lean against the backrest on my bed, and dialed his extension.  Two or three rings; then a weak, sleep-laden “Hello?”

“Shawn?” I said in a much stronger and more awake voice.


“Are you awake?”

“Just barely.  I only got three hours of sleep last night.  I didn’t get to bed until 5.”  (That was from studying, and had nothing to do with me.)

Five?  That’s even worse than four!”  (Referring to an earlier conversation.)

“That’s how long it took P– and me to get to bed.  I got my Calculus done!”

“Finally!”  That’s all I ever seemed to hear about–the Calculus homework he had to do.

“What time is it now?”


“So I have 36 minutes to get to class.  Thanks for waking me up.”

“Probably longer for you.” (This referred to his chronic lateness.)

“No, you’d be surprised what I can do when I have to.”  This is the same day that I later heard from Pearl: He got to class on time, highly unlike him, but some other kid was late.  He said, “I even got here on time.  Why didn’t you?”

He said, “My mom called me at 8 this morning.”  (I suppose he went back to sleep then.)  “Then you called.  I thought, ‘My alarm clock’s pretty loud this morning.  It’s never been that loud before.  Oh, it’s the phone.  Aw, man!'”

“What were we going to do in class today?”

“Turn in papers, maybe do some listening to music, etc.”

I said, “I hope it’s nothing too important for me to miss.”

“Why?  What’re you doing that’s so important that you’re skipping class?”

“That’s why I called you.–Probably barfing.”

“Oh!  Well, if you think barfing is more important than going to Music History and Appreciation….I only got three hours of sleep.  So, you see, there are people going to class in worse shape than you.”

“Could you tell him for me?”

“Yeah, I’ll tell him you’re going to be too busy barfing to go to class.”

“Don’t tell him that!  Tell him I feel sick and can’t go to class this morning.”

“Okay.  Anything else?”

“No.  I was going to keep the phone call short, just in case.

Clarissa was a good roommate, getting box lunches for me from the cafeteria.


That night, I wrote to a friend that I still hadn’t barfed yet, but sure felt like I would.  I wrote that Shawn kept talking about his old girlfriend all the time.  I wrote, “I feel like saying, ‘Quit bringing her up!  She’s engaged; she’s gone!  Start thinking about me!”

In another place I wrote that he was afraid we were on the rebound, but by then, we both should have been off the rebound.  It had been twice as long since the breakup than Peter and I had been together, and it was a year and a half for Shawn.

On the 11th, he said that, due to long and complicated reasons, “Let’s wait until after the break to talk about the things we have to talk about, because right now I just can’t handle that and finals.”

On the 13th, I noted that Shawn was overburdened and almost burned out.  This could have influenced what happened later.  It certainly meant that I was getting no visits from him; my arm and flu would also have affected that.

I prayed that he would figure out his true feelings for me, whatever they might be–though I also prayed that he would like me.

I played with him a lot when I saw him.  That day, when he walked up to my table, I said in a fake mean voice, “What do you want?”  He smiled at me.

On the 15th, I’d been studying for Music History finals with Clarissa, when Shawn called around 11 or 11:30.  Even though it was originally supposed to be about music, he asked me to tell him what I’d been wanting to say.  I began to say, “Why are you always criticizing me?  My friends don’t agree with you, and they like me just fine!”

This may have been referring to a time when Shawn told me things people had told him about me.  Since I didn’t record the things he said this time, I don’t remember them all now, but rather how they made me feel.  These things were nasty and untrue, yet he believed them!

Also, someone had asked Shawn why I was sad all the time.  He said, “She wants to be.”  What kind of crap was that?

I was no longer depressed about the breakup, not since probably mid-October or early November, but I had plenty of other things to be depressed about: Peter kept playing with my mind, pretending to be friendly and then biting my hand every time I extended it in friendship.  He spread lies about me and even used the administration to try to force me to shut up about what really happened.

Shawn’s actions did not match his words, and he kept criticizing me.  Shawn should have said, “She’s sad because she’s dealing with some difficult stuff in her life right now.”  Anyone would have understood and cut me some slack.

But instead, his reply made me sound maudlin or morose, like I was too stubborn to be happy, like I wanted attention or enjoyed sadness, like I was a negative person who would always be a downer.  In fact, I am an optimistic person who is usually content.  We can’t be expected to be happy all the time, no matter what, just to please others.

I needed Shawn’s support, not his criticism.  I was being cruelly treated by my ex and needed someone there to help me through it, not criticize me for being upset about it.  This is a common problem for people being abused or bullied in some way, being treated like there’s something wrong with them if they don’t blow it off and pretend it didn’t happen.

I told him now that I wanted him to defend me against the character assassinations of his friends.  Who were these people, anyway?  I didn’t know.  He refused to tell me who they were.

He didn’t even tell me details or dates or examples or anything that could’ve supported his claims; there was nothing to jog my memory so I could say, Oh, that’s what happened, that’s what I did.  They could be people who didn’t even really know me, people who had some axe to grind for some unknown reason.

All my life, from babyhood through high school, I had been bullied by other kids, made fun of and called weird and accused of nasty things I did not do or think, with no clue why they treated me so cruelly when I was nice and meek to everyone, and far too terrified of everyone to do the things they accused me of.  So it was hardly a stretch to believe it was happening all over again with new bullies.

These people were calling me “just Nyssa” to Shawn, like there was nothing about me worth bothering with.  Maybe it was Heidi; I never could figure out what she had against me.  I was just late on occasion to suite meetings; I wasn’t mean or anything to her.

Maybe it was a friend of Peter’s, such as Dave O’Hara, who–I discovered the following year–just listened to whatever Peter said and decided I was a horrible person without even knowing me or interacting with me in any way.

Shawn said things that I could not imagine even doing, could not remember doing.  The only people I could be close enough to, to do these things, would be my close friends–including Shawn.  My old suitemates seemed to like me just fine; my current suitemates, some I liked, some I didn’t like so much after the pledging fiasco, but I mostly did my own thing and didn’t interact with them often enough for there to be disputes with them.

But other than Shawn, my close friends insisted the complaints were not true.

Some of the things may have been true for a little while freshman year, but those issues were situational, had long since stopped, and I no longer did that (such as incessant talking about Peter, which I stopped early in the spring after Sharon complained).

I lived by a code of niceness, sweetness and kindness to everyone, so that others would not suffer from me what I had suffered from others.

And most of the time, this is how people described me, even Shawn freshman year: nice, sweet, innocent, kind, caring.  And usually I was too frightened of others I did not know well, to do any of these things.

Everyone has faults, but Shawn made me sound like this horrible, mean, aggressive person who went around hurting people.

But when I perceived that someone was dangerous for me, such as a bully, I would avoid that person, not antagonize them, since I did not have verbal sparring capabilities.

I don’t recall ever yelling or arguing with anyone, not even Heidi.  My problems with Ruth did not include yelling, just her criticizing all the time and me quietly seething, because she was my teacher and not my equal.

Outside of Shawn, my only dispute was with Peter, and I rarely spoke to him.  I rarely spoke to most people beyond a few simple pleasantries or class discussion, and when I spoke to friends, most of the time it was pleasant and fun.

None of his criticisms made any sense; they did not sound like me at all.  This is one reason why I identified with the description of people with NVLD being accused of all sorts of things they don’t actually do, because their disorder makes them appear to be acting deliberately when they are not:

Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.

The child who cannot “read” these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant.

This child is none of the above.

Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information. —Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

As for him–What, was he upset that I would disagree with him and get angry at him for how he treated me?  Was this why he thought I had these faults?  Were these unnamed other people actually made up to validate his remarks?

Like, for example, he scolded me once for chasing him, but he kept letting me catch him, encouraged me by coming over and asking me over, then begging or encouraging me to do the things he wanted.

If he did not keep kissing and carrying on with me, I would have stopped “chasing” him and turned my attention to James.

Rather, I always let him take the lead, let him decide when to come over or ask me over, let him decide when he wanted to do more than talk, because I did not wish to force him into anything, to be blamed for any of it.  He could have stopped the physical relationship at any time.

When he used my body, led me on this way because every time he said he wouldn’t do it again so I thought this time he was doing it out of love, and then constantly criticized me afterwards, I had the right to be angry.

When he constantly analyzed our relationship, I felt I had the right to respond with my own perceptions, not just agree with his.

I also felt criticized, like I wasn’t worth dating, because some of my theological ideas were different from his.  He’d tell me he wasn’t so sure about dating me because I believed in ESP.

As if I had to agree with him on every doctrinal point or I wasn’t worth dating, no matter what my other qualities were.  Couldn’t I think for myself?

Yet even my Nazarene pastor, at my church back home in South Bend, believed in ESP.  I believe it was he who said we must have ESP for God to be able to speak to us.

Later, in March, Shawn kept asking me, “What else is going on?” so I kept thinking of something to say to answer his question, even though I was probably tired and wanted to go back to my room.  Then he complained that I was rude to keep him up so late that night.  !!!!!  Why did he keep asking me to keep talking if he wanted me to leave?

Was he actually projecting his own faults onto me still, as he once admitted to doing?  And all these supposed faults were his reasons for not making an honest woman of me, a legitimate girlfriend rather than a toy when he was bored.

He also kept comparing and contrasting me to his ex-girlfriend.  I was always found wanting for one reason or another, whether my appearance or the way I did things:

I was too reserved.  I didn’t do my hair like other girls.  I didn’t wear makeup.  I didn’t dress sexy enough.  I didn’t play around with friends enough (i.e., behave like an extrovert).  Everything I did was wrong.  Everything about me was wrong.

Even the first day we ever met, in September 1991, he scolded me for probably an hour, cutting down everything about the way I acted, saying I was too shy and needed to talk to complete strangers.  He’d say his ex was like this, making me think if he liked one girl like this, he could like another–but no, it became a fault he could not get past.

He screwed with my head so much that I wanted to scream.

I wanted him to see me as beautiful, sweet, smart, passionate, creative and pious.  I wanted him to know everything about me and like what he knew.

I wanted him to recognize what I did: that we both liked many of the same TV shows and music, had similar religious backgrounds; he had a nutty sense of humor which I could appreciate; and we could have a lot of fun together if only he would do what he kept admonishing me to do every time he got me to lie down next to him: relax!

But now I was having it all out with him in our phone call.  I didn’t record everything, not wanting to remember much of it, so I don’t remember what I said, what he said.

But there were tears on both sides (him about his past, me about something I did not record).  There were also things he did not want me to reveal to anyone, so I won’t.  He eventually told me I could forget everything he said before I began to cry.

Shawn asked, “Are you crying?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Tell me again what you want to say to me.  I’m listening.”

I told him that I’ve always been told I’m weird, that I’ve always believed it.  Probably from something he said, I said, “I didn’t realize it was more than a suspicion.”

“No, you are definitely not weird, no matter what you believe.  You’re one of the most normal people I know.  Now things you do and say make sense to me.  I’ve found out what it was I could never put my finger on.”

I told him how Peter had been making me feel.  I told him how an old admirer/crush in high school called me beautiful: He flirted with me all through Photography class.

When one day he finally asked me out, I had, unfortunately, discovered from my mom that I was not allowed to date till I turned 16.  This guy then put his hand to my face and said, “You are beautiful!”  Peter called me gorgeous and the most beautiful girl on campus.

But Shawn had torn that all down again, always saying he was not attracted to me, even after spending an evening acting as if he were, making me feel homely and undesirable, when my lack of dates and boyfriends back in high school had already made me feel this way.

Shawn said, “Maybe I’m shallower than Peter, then, since I couldn’t see your beauty.  A beautiful side to you is certainly coming out now.”

He realized how he’d harmed me by always criticizing me, due to my “demon,” the insecurity, the belief of being weird, and the not having found myself.  (I think the last is just psychobabble, frankly, but I had the idea I was supposed to do this.)

He told me to cry, get it all out, because he was there in my room with me, in spirit.  He’d finally broken down a barrier.  We talked until almost 4am!  (Test–Music History–9am, Tuesday!)

He said, “The phone is the best way for us to talk because it’s not physical.”  I agreed.  He said, “If I’d come over tonight, something else would’ve been happening instead.”

As for the “she wants to be sad” comment, he told me what he’d really meant, but that it didn’t come across the way he’d intended.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record the true meaning and have now forgotten it.

A Proposed Cool-Off

We spoke more after lunch on the 17th.  He gave me some brochures on self-esteem from a nearby table, since the campus kept various such brochures by Memadmin’s office.  He rolled them up together and handed them to me.

I tried to put them that way into my right coat pocket, so people wouldn’t see what they were about.  He said they weren’t going to fit, but they fit, and I buttoned them in.  I said, to use Shawn’s recent assessment of me, “I have a strong will.  I made them fit.”  He smiled.

I told him more things….

Then I had to type up “Bedlam Castle” for my final, and he had to finish some delinquent Physics homework.  (Geez–Physics and Calculus?  No wonder he was so swamped!)  But later on, we spoke again.

He said the physical things were going to stop because they felt wrong to him.  From that and other conversations later, it was clear that things were spinning way out of control; we were playing with fire.  I said, “You’ve said that before.”  He said, “Yeah, but this time it is going to stop.”

I felt relieved on one hand but depressed on the other.  It felt like a breakup because I enjoyed it so much.

I suggested we do more social things together, start getting to know each other, hobbies, likes, dislikes.  I hoped this would begin a new stage, that maybe he would eventually return my feelings.

He said, “I can’t be your boy friend, but I can be your best friend.”  Even that elated me, since I’d wanted him to be my best friend since February.

It felt we had turned a corner, that things would be different now.  He felt so sorry for the night that had scared me.  He recited the Epistle verse that we are to think on whatever is virtuous, whatever is pure (Philippians 4:8).  I said I no longer felt virtuous and pure; he said, “No, you are still virtuous and pure.”

The funny thing is, this whole weird twisted relationship lasted longer than the others I had before I met my husband: one year and two months.

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

Richard: The Collateral Damage

Currently reading this post on Upsi’s blog.  It’s heartbreaking to read this exchange and realize that two people who love each other (Upsi and her brother) are being kept apart because of Upsi’s situation with her mother.

I see a guy who really wants to re-connect with his beloved sister, but feels unable to.  I see Upsi wanting to re-connect, but feeling like he’s playing mind games and acting just like her mother….

Upsi’s blog has connected with me because her family found her blog, has been reading it for the past 3 years, and Upsi continues to deal with their responses to it.  It’s like she’s the trailblazer and I’m finding out how she dealt with it.

This post reminds me of how frickin’ screwed up this whole situation with Richard is.  My problem was not originally with him, it was with Tracy and only Tracy.  But because of the nature of everything, the friendship with Richard got screwed up as well, pulled into this crap as much as I wanted to keep it separate.

(I tried to post a little message to Richard but he never saw it.  As far as I can recall, it was, as posted in my Martian stuff, “I was going to show this stuff to you, Richard, before everything blew up.  My problem was not originally with you.  Peace.  Enjoy.”)

If I had my druthers, I would have jettisoned any sort of relationship with Tracy, but kept the friendship with Richard.  Apparently Todd did this at one point, around 2009 or 2010.

This is also what advice columnists and Net dwellers say to people who ask, What if I can’t stand my best friend’s spouse?  They say, Then hang out with your friend and not with the spouse.

It only seems fair, if you love two people (I mean different kinds of love) but they can’t stand each other, to let them stay away from each other and not irritate each other.  Why give the drama a chance to occur?

I certainly would never demand that my husband’s friends hang out with me.  He’s had friends I didn’t care for.  He had one female friend who I was sure did not like me for some reason, even though I tried to befriend her and chat with her.  But I just shrugged it off and did not force anything.

(I think this is one major reason why my marriage has gone for 15 years now with no sign of stopping.  In fact, I consider it more like 17 years, because I moved in with “Jeff” on July 4, 1995 and never moved out again.  We still enjoy being together, running the house together, are friends and partners, lust after each other–and give each other space.

(We have privacy; we have trust.  It’s easygoing.  I say God forbid anything happen to Jeff before we’re so old that I don’t need a husband anymore, because I hate to think of what would happen if I got widowed, married again, and found a very different situation.)

Of course, the fly in the ointment is the discovery of what Richard himself did to one of his kids.  The state had enough evidence to convict him, and he pled no contest rather than fight a charge which will keep him from the very thing he kept telling me he wanted to be (a priest).

That tells me he is guilty.  The state proclaimed him guilty.

When I asked my priest about it a year ago, having told him my former best friend had done this, he said that no, someone with such a conviction cannot be ordained an Orthodox priest.

He has screwed up his own life, his own dreams; but the feeling of contempt and justice I once had for this fact, has been replaced by a deep sadness….

Even if we had remained friends, as I had wished for so long, what would this have done to that?

Would I have felt forced, because of deeply held convictions about child abuse, to end the friendship anyway (since, with it published in the newspaper which I read cover-to-cover each day, I would have found out about it eventually)?

Is it possible to ever have it back again?  The likelihood of abusers repenting and reforming, is very small.  They have to truly want it.  But abusers tend to be narcissists, seeing nothing wrong with themselves, no reason to change.  I want very much to be wrong about the narcissism.

There’s also the nagging feeling of having somehow betrayed Richard, as well, by telling about the way he’d been treated, the way the kids had been treated.

But there are some secrets you should not keep, and I had always hoped that somehow, spilling these secrets would help him.  That any mutual friends who might read would intervene, now that I no longer could.  (Envying the mutual friends for still talking to him.  Feeling betrayed and abandoned.)

I was afraid for him, afraid for the children, worried I would one day hear about them on the 6:00 news.  He had told me things were going on, that made me fear that one day he would not be able to contain himself.  I keep hoping he will understand how scared I was for him, and forgive.

Originally, I did not realize that he was doing abusive things himself, did not expect to find he had a criminal case pending against him.  Now, it’s the hope that Tracy and/or Richard will somehow recognize in my words just what they have been doing, and change.  Because when one screwed-up generation raises another generation, that new generation gets screwed-up as well and the problems perpetuate.

I also had no idea when I started writing down what happened, that I would discover Richard’s narcissistic traits as well.  I saw him more as the bull with a ring in his nose keeping him docile.  The traces of violence I remembered and pulled up, became more disturbing the more I wrote.

But he seemed so–tame and controlled when I knew him.  The violence was still there, which he himself admitted to in a threatening e-mail to Jeff when Jeff dared to express a criticism of how Richard had been acting–and threatening, intimidating acts when Jeff dared to say that Tracy was also behaving very badly…..

Shortly after the “breakup,” Chris talked to me on Facebook chat.  I wondered if he’d been sent by Richard, or if he told Richard what I said.  Richard and I both gave him very little detail about what happened.  I was embarrassed because of what Chris thought the nature of the disagreement was….

I told him that wasn’t what was going on.  That I missed Richard and hoped that one day there would be forgiveness…..

He tried to get me to reconsider, to forgive, said it makes him sad to see longtime friendships end.  I wondered if Richard had anything to do with this.

But I felt my hands were tied: Without a change in Tracy’s behavior, without her allowing Richard to be my friend without her, without Richard and Tracy apologizing for and no longer blaming me for their many crimes against Jeff and me both, there could be nothing at all.

A year later, when I discovered the criminal charges and the nature of them, a friend told me that as painful as it was, God was protecting me by this breach.

Ambivalence.  That’s what I feel toward Richard.  A desire to reconnect still remains, a hope that in future years, this will all be behind us, that he and I will be friends again.  But there is also fear, knowing what I now know about him, wondering if he’s ever really going to change, ever going to eradicate the violence.

Forget that crap, a snide remark about not having all the facts–Nothing can excuse choking a kid, I don’t care what happened.  No additional “facts” can change that.

If it was an accident, they would not have called it “intentional causation of bodily harm” in the original charges.  Or amended it during the plea bargain to say,

Whoever causes bodily harm to another by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm to that person or another without the consent of the person so harmed is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor (battery; substantial battery; aggravated battery).

And he admitted to doing it.  If it were an accident or somehow he was innocent, then not only should he not have admitted to doing it, but he should have fought it.

So if he does try to tell me he was somehow persecuted by the police, or (again) that I don’t have all the facts, I won’t buy it.

I hope I wouldn’t have been gullible enough to believe him if I were still his friend when this happened.  I’ve been gullible with people quite often during my lifetime.  At least if we ever do reconcile, there will be no lie between us: I’ll know about this.

(Yes, I still remember the good times.  I remember how we talked all the time right before you moved up here.  I remember how you looked at me when we first met in person: like two people connected by philia (deep, true friendship) without ever having met.  I would’ve done anything for you just out of pure philia.  I would love to be wrong about the narcissism.)

I just don’t forget people so easily.  I’ve kept connected with my college group over the years, mostly by e-mail, occasionally with visits.  These days, I consider my best friends to be two old college friends who live too far away to see often.

I love Facebook because I’d always wanted to re-connect with people I once knew.  I still remember and mourn the loss of a girl who used to go to my church, we’d sit and chat every Sunday, and giggle through the services–until one day when I heard her family just picked up and left for another church.  That was back in my early teens!

When once a person makes it into my heart, they don’t leave.  I still think of Phil from time to time.  And Peter.  And Shawn.

Though the romances with them are long gone, and I don’t want to be with them now, I still remember them and wonder how they’re doing.  I save many of the gifts or letters they gave me, hold onto old diary entries about them, save their pictures.

One reason I wrote my private version of the College Memoirs was to hold onto all my memories of them.  As I wrote in my diary back in March 1993, after Shawn objected to me writing about the things he and I did,

Maybe math-brains just don’t understand the writer’s need to record even the most special memories–which we don’t want to fade….Besides, these memories are all a part of me–so I’m not about to burn them or let them fade.  I’d lose a part of myself that way.

For a time I distanced myself from Todd, after what happened between him and Richard, but it was painful (I couldn’t even listen to a song Todd liked), and I have since let him back into my life.  We have both been through the same thing with the same people, after all, giving us a certain bond and perspective nobody else can understand.

Old friends who for some reason slipped away, I found again on Facebook, and got to see them again in real life as well.

I am intensely loyal; speaking up about Richard did feel like a betrayal, and was excruciatingly hard to do.

I’m not sure people realize it, because I also have an introvert’s/Aspie’s tendency to not do things other people do to keep up friendships: I tend not to call people, for example, since I greatly prefer communicating either face-to-face or by the written word.

But they’re still in my hearts, even if I have not seen them for many years.  I write down memories of them, save the letters/e-mails they send me, hold onto them.  Richard will never leave my heart, either.

When Richard came to my church shortly after being convicted, at first I was repulsed just to see him.  I was furious with him, hated him, had long since stopped crying.  But after I got home, I cried, not just that day but other days as well, from missing the children and grief at losing Richard’s friendship.  As I wrote on my blog on 10/25/11:

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

(See Narcissistic Webs 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, there were violent things he told me 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 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 Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby 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.” Hubby 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 Hubby 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 had 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 Hubby, 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.)  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 Hubby 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 what I was referring to was 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.  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 ? Suedehead, Morrissey



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