abuse by proxy

Tracy refused to accept the NVLD and introversion–but they are real

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

As I described above, Tracy ripped into me (via an e-mail to Jeff) as if the NVLD (also NLD) were all in my head, just an excuse, like I could just choose to be as sociable as anybody else and it would be so.

Her criticism was so profoundly ignorant as to be laughable.

She has no clue what it’s like to be me, what it’s like to have high intelligence but struggle just to drive a car or use an automatic car wash, what it’s like to not know how to get around in the city you grew up in, what it’s like to struggle to figure out why somebody is acting mad at you or what you’re supposed to say next (if anything), what it’s like to feel paralyzed because you’re faced with a new situation and don’t know what to do.

Part of my struggle was from introversion, and where introversion ends, NVLD begins.

Comments on this blog go into self-diagnosis and whether it can be taken seriously.  This is a blog about Asperger’s, but you can easily extend the comments on “self-diagnosis” to NVLD.

I especially love Amber’s comment, #83, that people who “get on you” for that are “obviously ignorant.”

And #88, who was professionally diagnosed years ago, wrote, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s professionally or self, it’s all the same.  The first anonymous is so ignorant, it’s amazing.”

Anonymous wrote,

I have been very much an advocate of getting a clinical diagnosis — not because I believe my wife’s symptoms are made up, but as a way of shutting down some of the ignorance we’ve seen posted here….

It is important to understanding AS that many people will not see it as “real” without some professional validation.  Those folks should never take an asprin or cold medicine again without a REAL doctor confirming that they actually have a headache or a cold 🙂

Chris wrote eloquently,

My name is Chris. I am “self-diagnosed” as well. I’m growing more comfortable each day, though the fine line of self/professionally diagnosed sometimes leaves me feeling at odds.

To those who wish to degrade the “self-diagnosed” – I do not know what to tell you.

We do not diagnose ourselves in an attempt to outrage anyone, nor do we do so in some vain attempt to fit in.

But when an answer to a long asked question comes along and not only answers the question but makes us feel more at ease with who we are and why we are that way… it’s an answer warmly welcomed.

Something that helps us understand why we are the way we are, why we’ve done/said/felt things the way we had, why we can’t turn our focus away easily or why we focus on something so much or why the thoughts have taken permanent residence floating in our head…

So a lot of people can fit this descriptor or that as far as Asperger’s goes. It’s not just this descriptor or that one which makes us feel a self-diagnosis is relevant.

I believe I can safely say that virtually everyone who is self diagnosed can say that they spent time searching – the internet, books, and themselves – before just “jumping to a conclusion”… they didn’t see the word “asperger’s” and go “that’s me!”… they learned what it entailed.

I’m sorry for those who are so terribly uncomfortable with that sort of diagnosis. We’re not prescribing medications nor are we prescribing some ridiculous label just to show off…

it gives us a chance to be better armed – when dealing with society, when dealing with friends and family, and when dealing with doctors. For those who choose to seek professional diagnosis, this is a much better starting point than we had before.

Some of us have needed an answer. Not just some answer, but one that will help us feel comfortable with who we are and will help us deal with daily life.

Note that for adults, it can be quite expensive to get tests done (I’ve seen numbers in the thousands of dollars), you have adult obligations to tend to, you don’t have a school paying for this, it can’t be “cured” like a disease, and things you may have done as a child that would fit the diagnosis, you’ve since learned to stop doing because of social pressure.

I’m almost certain that if you told my elementary or middle school classmates or teachers that I have NLD, they’d say, “That explains a lot!”

Matt also writes, “I am self-identified, and I have no need for diagnosis.  Diagnosis is prohibitively expensive for adults, and not necessarily reflective of the diagnosis I might have had as a child.”

It doesn’t matter what Tracy (or Richard) thinks about the NLD because the behaviors and brain processes on which I base this “self-diagnosis” are still there, still exist, and it’s the way my brain works, no matter if I have NLD or Asperger’s or not.  

My brain is not telling me the things I need to know and do, things which I read and see that other people can do instinctively–and calling me a “victim” or a liar does not change that, just vilifies me for something I can’t help and didn’t ask for.

Since I had tried time and again to explain to Richard why I behaved the way I did, and what would get me to feel more comfortable around Tracy, and her knowledge of the NLD shows that he must have told her about it, her words qualify as bullying and intolerance.

If I had never explained to either of them, it might make more sense for her to take it personally, but since I did explain it, and told Richard what he needed to tell her to do to help me, she has no excuse.

She also has no excuse because multiple adults in my life have quickly learned it’s just the way I am, decided I’m sweet and nice and “just quiet,” and let me be, not bullied me as if they were still in middle school–and that’s without ever hearing about the NVLD.

(Because Tracy is his wife, and I did not feel comfortable speaking with her on these things, it seemed appropriate to tell him.  From what I’ve gathered over the years, from life and from advice columns such as Annie’s Mailbox, this is the proper way to deal with issues with the wife of a friend, or your husband’s mother, or whatever. 

(I also see the wives on My Five Wives–a polygamous family–deal with each other through their husband, and if forced to deal with it themselves, bad things happen.)

I have to wonder if some of this bullying came from an honest letter to Annie’s Mailbox, which I copy here, something I posted on Facebook on May 4, 2010 because it didn’t get printed in the column, if maybe instead of listening to what I had to say about dealing with shy, quiet people, Tracy somehow took offense to it.  Since, after all, she takes offense very easily.

But I was very upset at how the original writer had been treating the poor quiet girl at her lunch table, knew exactly how the quiet girl felt because it happened to me so many times growing up, so I wrote in to stick up for the girl.

Then my letter was never printed, even though I wanted it to be printed for all the quiet kids out there.  So I posted it on Facebook for my friends to read.

It also was a kind of explanation for all my old classmates, since my Facebook friends list is full of people I knew growing up who would have recognized someone like me in that girl.

Tracy may have taken it as yet another offense toward her, but it was impossible to know for sure, because she never said anything about it–just as she never said anything about anything, it seemed, just kept me oblivious.

Being told that just being myself was offensive, could hardly open my mouth or get my brain working.  The quietness that already exists when I’m with most people, becomes even worse with hostile people.

So for Tracy to scold me for not following dictates that she claimed a 5-year-old could understand–how could she possibly think that would make me want to run and bow down at her feet and beg her to forgive me and be my dearest friend?

How could she possibly think that would open my tongue and get my brain paths working when she was around?

How could she possibly think that would magically make me able to understand what she wanted when she wanted it?

My inability to do so, rather, is very strong evidence that I have “self-diagnosed” myself correctly!  Also, introversion and NVLD often overlap socially; introversion also explained much of my quietness, and it’s perfectly acceptable to “self-diagnose” that!

And here is more strong evidence: Richard’s various behaviors confused me to no end, yet I was somehow accused of base motivations for accepting his explanation that everything he did was just in friendship and it was okay for me to do it as well.

Then he would say a certain thing wasn’t okay anymore, or he would never say it wasn’t okay, but then all of a sudden there was Tracy yelling and screaming over it.

Or he would say something wasn’t okay and then he’d turn around and do it himself.

Or I’d see him do something with another friend and think it must be okay for me to do it, but then Tracy would find out and get upset.  And then of course he let me know that all the restrictions were now gone, but now they acted as if they never were…..

If I had actually sent this e-mail with nefarious intent, if I had actually meant to start some sort of affair, as it was apparently taken–then sure, I would’ve needed to get down on my knees, apologize profusely, etc. etc.  I would’ve deserved a scolding.  I would’ve needed to cite my crimes, etc. etc.

But it was not: It was all a misunderstanding.  My e-mail was innocently meant as an expression of friendship, and nothing more.  

It was meant to inspire Richard to write, “Awww, how sweet,” and then go on about his day with a warm fuzzy.

In no way, shape or form was there “suggestive” subtext.  

(I wondered where on earth Richard, of all people, knowing the context of the hugs, would see suggestive subtext, and could only assume that he was lying to Tracy and to Jeff to cover his butt.  This, by the way, is also what Jeff thought.)  

This was a misunderstanding between a more literal-brained person speaking literally, and neurotypicals expecting and reading in subtext where there was none.

I take people at their word, don’t expect them to lie, don’t expect them to add nonverbal shades of meaning.

I did not expect anyone to read subtext into my e-mail, especially Richard who knew the truth of the hugs, since at that time I wasn’t even aware that other people use so much subtext!  (I only just heard about neurotypical subtext in 2011!)

I expected only Richard to read it, and for him to take it literally with full knowledge that the hugs were innocent.  If there was any subtext at all, it was the unstated question of, “Why haven’t you hugged me this way since you moved out?  Aren’t we close friends anymore?”

My e-mail was literally written and literally meant, with no hidden meanings other than what I just stated.

To be honest, human beings lie. Some people tell outrageous lies, adding juicy details to enhance their fabricated facts.

But most of us are more apt to lie by remaining silent, telling “lies of omission.” Neurotypicals almost expect this to occur on a regular basis and we tend to forgive “little white lies” very easily.

Mary was quick to help me understand that all lies are a violation of trust for individuals on the spectrum. If someone with ASD asks you a question, there are only two good choices to consider.

First, you can answer the question directly. It is best to provide the clearest explanation possible, leaving out any subtext. Or you can say, “I’m not comfortable answering that question.”

Some individuals with ASD may not understand your desire to keep certain information to yourself and may ask why you are not comfortable answering the question. This situation may present its own unique challenge, but at least you have not violated their trust by telling a lie….

While misunderstandings can arise in conversations between any two people, they are more likely to occur in a conversation between an individual with ASD and a neurotypical.

Why? Because neurotypicals often speak using idioms and abstract concepts. In addition, our conversations sometimes have underlying subtext–unspoken opinions and emotions that can be easily misinterpreted or misunderstood, even by neurotypicals.

Mary understands that we neurotypicals often speak this way without being aware of it. Yet, these are exactly the communication issues that most challenge people on the autism spectrum.

We can improve communication by better monitoring these patterns in our own speech when we interact with a person with ASD. —Learning Each Other’s Language: Strategies to Improve Communication Between Neurotypicals and Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

(Note: Though these refer to people on the Autism Spectrum, they can also apply to people with NLD, since even though NLD is not autistic, it does share many of the same traits as Asperger’s.  Also note that Asperger’s is not Kenner’s Autism, not classic autism, though it is on the Autism Spectrum and shares some autistic traits.)

I always expected Richard to tell me the truth, no lies, no little white lies, very few lies of omission.  I don’t expect people to lie to me at all, especially not on a regular basis!

After reading this passage, which sounds exactly like me, I have to wonder if there was a lot of this subtext going on, being transmitted from Richard to me, but with me picking up none of it, because there was a serious lack of communication over these few years.

I was constantly surprised by things he did tell me, things I’ve already mentioned in this account.  I “read” verbal far more than nonverbal communication, and expected him to always tell me the truth.

And I communicated mostly by words myself, without subtext, but telling him directly how I felt about various things, though sometimes trying to do it diplomatically if it was a sensitive issue and I feared I would hurt his feelings.

Table of Contents 

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


Why I refused to “confer” with Tracy–and how Richard betrayed me

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

I knew from the way Tracy had already laid into me, and from the way I heard/read her deal with other people (such as Todd), that respectfully presenting her concerns and then listening to my own point of view, explanations and needs, was not how she was going to approach me in her “conference.”

And getting yelled, screamed and cussed at by her was not going to have the effect she wanted.

Since my husband tried to calm her down with a kind e-mail with apologies, but ended up receiving an e-mail full of the worst verbal abuse of me yet, I could tell very well that Tracy had no interest in hearing what she herself was doing wrong.  So I had no interest in hearing what I had supposedly done wrong.  

I knew from how she treated Todd, just how interested she was in hearing any side but her own.  Their arguments had mostly been carried out in posts all over an Internet game forum, so I could see what happened.

I knew very well from all the bullying she’d been giving me, Richard and the children the past few months, that she had no interest in fairness or kindness or listening to anybody else but herself.

I also knew that if anyone treated her this way, she would not accept it as her due and just shut up and take it passively, as she expected me to do.

I knew because Todd, when she verbally abused him over a misunderstanding, eventually gave it right back to her, and it turned into a lot of back-and-forth screaming, cussing, ripping to shreds.

Yet she expected me to just take it all passively like a child who knows she deserves punishment?

She forbade me from even speaking to Richard to sort things out–the truth, what was not true, find out what the **** was he thinking letting her go off on me when he knew **** well that I was innocent–until I had this “conference” with her.

I knew I deserved NONE of it.  (Richard knew I deserved none of it, the rat.)

Jeff knew I deserved none of it, because he witnessed how I behaved with her, and he knew I was never mean or rude to her.  

Jeff knew that I gave her a flower recently, paid her a compliment recently, watched her kids, helped her out of a bind time and time again….

I was sick and tired of her bullying me, either herself or by proxy (Richard).  I would not have some fake friendship with her after all this crap, not even for the sake of staying friends with Richard.

Why was she so afraid of people that no one (men or women) could be friends with her husband without also thinking Tracy was this wonderful sweet person?

Was she afraid that if somebody saw her for what she was, she’d lose Richard?

I don’t know where she gets the idea that this is the way to solve problems with friends, that threats, intimidation, manipulation and control tactics–essentially, emotional blackmail–are somehow the “proper” way for her to behave.  

I don’t know where Richard got the idea that it was somehow okay for her to do that.

I don’t know how either of them could think we were going to take this and still be friends with them, how they could act afterwards as if we were the ones acting insulting or like children by leaving.

I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil’s mantra that “You teach people how to treat you.”  That sounds like victim-blaming.  However, if we had stayed friends with Richard and Tracy, we would have taught them it was okay to use tactics like this with us.

Tracy obviously wanted to have the upper hand and complete control over her husband and me.  She treated marriage like a prison, with her the jailer, deciding when to turn the key.

But I wasn’t going to play that game.  If she was going to put conditions on friendship, then our friendship was over.

Even my priest said, there should be NO conditions on friendship, but mutual respect.

As my husband said, “No, Tracy does NOT get her way!”  Just like you do when any child throws a tantrum: You go away and refuse to give in.

The most ludicrous part about it all was that I had seen far too much of Richard’s filthy habits, and his change from a sweet and pious guy to somebody I half-expected to join a militia organization and hole up in the woods with a gun arsenal, to think of him now as anything but a brother.  But I was being treated as if I wanted to jump his bones and was deviously trying to find a way to do so.

The biggest mistake I made, the most wrong thing I did, was not disentangling myself from this violent and deceitful couple much sooner.

But I loved Richard as a brother and loved the children, and wanted to be there for Richard as support in whatever way he needed.

I wanted to be a safe place for the children, show them that not every child lives the way they do, that they didn’t have to accept screaming abuse as their due.

But no matter what I did, Tracy colored it with her green-tinted glasses so that it was some sort of move on her husband.

I do believe that Tracy’s hostility and jealousy toward me wasn’t just that she felt uncomfortable with the close friendship Richard and I developed, but that I saw and recognized her abuse for what it was.

While I was sweet and laughed at his jokes and looked up to him.

If I’d kept my mouth shut about the abuse and jealousy, she probably would’ve liked me just fine.  But I felt I should tell him exactly what I thought about her behavior, that it was my duty as a friend.

Table of Contents 

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



E-mails to Todd describing what happened

Some parts of my Facebook messages to Todd, starting July 3, 2010:

Yeah, you figured it out…I don’t want to say much about it.

Just that I think Tracy felt threatened by me because Richard and I got close while he was staying here by himself for 2 months.

And that she was determined not to like me no matter what I did. I did try to be nice to her, but it was never good enough.

My relationship with Richard was strictly brother/sister, a very dear friendship but no more than that. You know how he flirts with everybody, male and female, but it’s just for fun. But I don’t think she was ever comfortable with our relationship.

She greatly misunderstood something the other day and blew up, and he threw me under the bus.

They said they didn’t want to end the friendship, but Jeff and I figured it was best to just say goodbye and never go back, rather than deal with more drama.

[I referred here to Tracy writing to Jeff that they “value” our friendship, and, when Jeff went to talk to Richard, Richard saying he still wanted to be friends.  Also, Richard writing Jeff a few days earlier that he didn’t want us dumping each other as friends.  But their behavior that day and for the subsequent four years, has belied their claims.]

It makes me wish Richard had ended things two years ago, because of all the struggle and tears. I think the relationship was doomed as soon as he walked in the door, and there was no way to help that.

I miss him but jealousy is poison and hers was killing me. So it’s over.

…She didn’t like my personality. I guess she doesn’t like shy, quiet people who don’t like noisy houses and need to spend some time alone and need to spend time cleaning the house.

She didn’t understand that just because I’m open and verbose with Richard, that doesn’t mean I’m like that with everyone, or that it’s easy for me with everyone. Everyone who’s ever met me will tell you, “Yeah, she’s nice but she’s so quiet!”

Richard brought me out of my shell. We talked about everything from life histories and day-to-day crap to theology and music. I wanted to be like that with Tracy, and we started out getting along and chatting.

But then she started yelling at Richard and the kids all the time over stupid stuff, and I got turned off by it.

And because I was put off, I wanted even more to get some time in the basement away from the noise.

I became the bad guy and Richard was apparently directed to get me to change MY behavior, even though MY behavior was caused by HER behavior.

I also kept getting confused because the rules kept changing. I’d be told one thing and then another thing. Richard would tell me something’s okay and well within boundaries, and then I’d hear she saw me do it and wants to kill me for it.

For example, all along I hear, I can hug Richard. Hugs are okay. I’m not a huggy person and figure if she wants a hug she’ll ask for it. She even tells me she’s not a huggy person herself and it’s all right. Now I hear hugs were not okay and she was put off by it???

I kept trying to explain to Richard what I needed for Tracy to help me feel more comfortable so I could open up to her more. And that I seem to be having trouble recognizing when she’s trying to start a conversation.

But no, everything was still my fault and I needed to try harder and push through the shyness and it’s ridiculous to think I may have trouble reading people’s body language.

He got hung up over me thinking it might be a learning disorder which causes social issues. Yeah, well, whether I have an actual LD or not, I still have these social issues and they are not a personal attack on Tracy. And her getting so mad all the time is making it even harder for me to get close to her.

She started snarking at me no matter what I did or said, whether in person or on Facebook. I’ve spent so many nights crying myself to sleep because of just discovering some other thing that Tracy’s mad about, or that Richard and I are still not allowed even to go to a coffee shop or stand outside to have a private chat about Jeff losing his job, or whatever.

I don’t know if you saw it, but several weeks ago she posted that they might be going to —- to visit in September. Or at least Richard and the kids. They’ll see who can go. I posted, “I’ll miss you dearly, but have fun!” Richard said, “Um, it’s only for a week.” Which seemed like an odd response, but I said, “What difference does that make? 🙂 ”

Then Tracy just went OFF on me. She said you miss someone who’s going away for a while, going off on a mission trip, etc. etc., but you don’t make a fuss over a man going on a vacation with his family for a week. What the HECK? It sounded so–possessive.

Jeff stuck up for me by saying, “But we fuss over you all the time!”

I promptly removed my post because I was so weirded out.

This snarkiness tells Jeff and me that it doesn’t matter what I did to set her off this time. She was fuming and building up for a while and SOMEthing would’ve set her off eventually.

I’m also sad because my son and [daughter #2] were always cuddling and such, [daughter #1] wants to marry him, and I had this hope that one day, he would marry #2 or #1 and we’d be a big happy family for real.

I’m just so sick and tired of everything I do being wrong somehow, some personal attack on Tracy, of my quiet nature being put in the worst possible light.

I miss Richard and genuinely liked him and still like him, but he’s got to learn to lighten up on people.

…Yeah, things aren’t much better here. [This referred to the state of their dwellings in Fond du Lac vs. their last city, which Todd saw.  He told me just how bad their house was in their last city, and that the state had to intervene.]  There is some attempt to clean, and no roaches or mice that I’m aware of, but the house is still filthy. When it was just Richard living here, I could keep things under some amount of control, but all of them….

I enjoyed having Richard here. The girls are adorable. Tracy, I wanted to throw out on her ear. All the insults I had to put up with, and the yelling.

And, of course, it was all “my” fault. She complained that I was always cleaning instead of sitting and talking with her, that I was snubbing her and should give her some chores.

Well, I had to clean constantly to keep up with 8 people: all the laundry, all the dishes, and of course they had laundry, too, so the machines had to get cleared out for them.

I’m not a neat freak but I am a bit of a clean freak, so I was slowly going crazy. And I didn’t trust her to clean because I’d already heard how “well” she cleaned their house. I wanted her to watch the kids so I could concentrate on cleaning…..

Another thing I noted was that when Richard was here by himself, he was sweet, accommodating, open, a bit eccentric, but treated me like a sister. Not an annoying sister, but like I was taking the place of his favorite sister or his favorite cousin. He loved spending time with me and talking with me for hours upon hours.

But shortly after Tracy arrived, he got critical. Kept telling me over the years about all the things I was doing wrong. Became hard to get ahold of (except when she was at work). Just–different.

I do have a streak of paranoia already, but normally I don’t worry about how my friends feel about me; I just know things are okay even if I don’t hear from them for a while.

But with him, I got worried all the time because he just didn’t act the same as he used to. I was even afraid to call him because Tracy might answer and get all cold.

But normally I still felt he cared. When I got the chance to speak with him on the phone or in person, things felt okay again.

He’s been acting funny lately, though. The last few weeks, he kept getting snarky with things I posted and sending me snarly e-mails. Then he complained about me getting “vicious” with him because one day I used the “assertive bluntness” he told me I should be using. But he had been really ticking me off.

We were always open and honest with each other about all sorts of things, deep dark secrets and the like, things that had happened while he stayed with us, and it was all okay. But lately, he’s been closed off.

And an e-mail I sent him–something that he should’ve immediately understood the way it was intended–got wildly misunderstood and misrepresented and turned Tracy into a rampaging machine. And he didn’t stop her. That’s the part that feels like a betrayal.

Like my dearest non-familial friend in the world just betrayed me and left me for the dogs to rip apart.

I think there was something going on over there that I’m not aware of, something that turned him against me. What a mess. They have to sort it out for themselves now. And I hope I don’t run into them anytime soon….

I just don’t understand how anybody could get so mad at my quiet, unassuming nature as to want to yell and scream and cuss at me. She even makes the kids I grew up with and my bullying brother seem loving.

Jeff was there most of the time when I was around Tracy, and he said my behavior was just fine.

I feel like a part of me has been ripped out. By my own choice. The pain is just staggering….

My husband is also letting me vent as much as I need to. He also feels hurt and rejected by this.

Posted on Facebook more than a year later, on September 24, 2011, after discovering from Todd that my suspicion–

that Tracy behaved this way because of Borderline Personality Disorder–

was not only valid, but probable:

For the first time in nearly four years, I’m finally free:

I was dealing with someone who really got into my head and twisted it around. For nearly four years, I was made to feel like everything wrong was my fault.

I was wrong, I had to change, or I’d be punished. Even if you resist, they can still get to you.

But now I discover that what I suspected and have been researching for the past year was probably true: a personality disorder. Meaning, it’s nothing I did; it’s all in her head. So I’m ejecting her from my head and no longer care what she thinks of me.

Table of Contents 

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


E-mails spilling all the abuse, to my closest friends

To my college friends, to whom I wrote a bit in 2008 about how Tracy treated me while living in my house, I wrote on August 29, 2010:

First, some bad news.  It seems the trouble from a few years ago, when Richard’s whole family was staying with us, never really went away.  I kept thinking it had, only to find–months later–that it hadn’t.

It seems his wife holds grudges like nobody’s business, and she targeted me.  I tried apologizing a year ago and thought things were fixed, but no.

Earlier this year, she’d been snarking at me for weeks until it seemed I could do nothing right, that everything I did was worthy of ridicule. (It reminded me of my younger brother, because he did that to me all the time growing up.)  Some of her snarks seemed downright possessive.

It finally turned into a massive blowup.  It sounds like a bunch of misunderstandings, but the trouble is, from e-mails Jeff and I exchanged with her, she’s just not willing to admit that she did things to contribute to the problem.

Won’t forgive, won’t apologize for ANYthing, thinks that I should just sit down and take all the verbal abuse and bullying she wants to throw at me, that I should admit that I deserve it, be the scapegoat for all our problems, and submit to her.

While Richard allows it, either because she’s talked him into agreeing with her and not listening to anything I say, or he’s afraid of what she’ll do if he opposes her.

I just plain don’t like her because I see her treating other people like this, too, including her kids and Richard.

Heaven help the person she gets mad at, because she throws tantrums (swearing, screaming, belittling, etc.). 

Richard has lost other friendships because of her.  I actually watched one friendship die over the Internet, as they argued with a guy [Todd] who’d been Richard’s friend (online and in real life) for 6 years, on a game forum.

It sounds like she didn’t like him in the first place, and when he did something in the game she didn’t like, she went on the warpath rather than talk about it first.  He was offended and has a bad temper of his own, so things went very badly.  This happened two years ago.

And now they’ve lost us, because I’m sick of being bullied for 3 years and won’t take verbal abuse, and Jeff is furious over the whole thing.

Richard had also been intimidating and practically threatening Jeff.  So we looked at each other and decided this was nuts, we can’t take this anymore.

I was and still am heartbroken because Richard was a very dear friend.  He was the cool and awesome [his main online persona] of my favorite online forums and games, and he enjoyed my company and told me I was the most awesome person he knew.  We’d talk for hours upon hours about religion, music and life.

But he seems to have changed quite a bit in the last 6 months or so.  I don’t know what happened, but there have been problems between us for a while, too. 

It may be his heavy involvement in politics, including the TEA Party and some Anarchy and conspiracy theories he’s been getting into.  I don’t agree with it, and he started getting rude to me on Facebook postings.

He used to be sweet, but lately he would just rip into me whenever I tried to bring up some problem and get it dealt with.

He started getting rude with Jeff as well whenever Jeff would post something political.

There were just so many little things that were adding up and getting very annoying and making me question the state of our friendship.

I do hope that one of these days, they will realize their own part in the break and apologize.  At least Richard did apologize to me for some things [this comes in the next chapter].

But there can be no reconciliation between our families until they apologize for their harshness and are willing to put the past aside and be friends, to stop the power struggle. 

I made my apologies, because I recognized I did some wrong and nutty things myself.  But instead of calming down Tracy, they just seemed to spur her on and make her feel more righteous.  Then she wondered why we finally said we need a 6-month (or more) break instead of a conference.

We’re not going to move to end the break.  We want to know that we will find softened hearts, not make a move and get our noses bitten again.

My priest said it was wise to offer a break instead of having this conference, because it would’ve turned into a slinging of anger and resentment that would have done absolutely nothing to repair the friendship, but only make things worse.  He said to be happy in the decision I made and not second-guess it.

My mom says not to contact them again, that Tracy’s manipulative. 

They’ve blocked our entire family on Facebook, even our son.  From things she said, that was probably Tracy’s doing, with Richard going along to have peace in his household, which has drama enough already. What kind of person blocks a 6-year-old child?

I do hope and pray her heart will soften.  Not just for our sakes, or to restore a friendship, but for her sake and that of everyone around her.

She grew up in a horrific environment.  It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it does explain where it comes from.

Other people who hurt me in the past have apologized to me over the Net, many years later, so I know it can happen.  I’ve done all I can do to try to repair things, so it’s her turn now.

I’m tired of trying to be her friend while she snarks at me and screams at the kids and/or Richard right in front of me.  I’m tired of being to blame for not getting close to her when she, frankly, scares me.

It means I’ve lost a very dear friendship, but we had to walk away or I was going to be slowly destroyed.

Jeff–who, by the way, is not in any way controlling, so he wouldn’t do this lightly–won’t let me talk to them.

You see, they showed up at my church exactly one month after the blowup.  I had some unfinished business with Richard, so I spoke to him. Our conversation made me believe that reconciliation was finally possible.

But, as usual, he was the agreeable one, but Tracy turned out to be immovable (a word which, by the way, he himself uses to refer to her in other situations).

Jeff was not happy to find me sitting at their table at coffee hour.  So now he tells me if they show up at my church again, don’t talk to them, since I finished my business with Richard. 

In this whole thing, I’m the weak one, Jeff’s the strong one.  So I’m letting him protect me.

I’ve been reaching out to people we know in the surrounding communities, trying to reconnect.

Before Richard brought his family here, I was feeling very lonely because it was hard to find people to hang out with, what with church switches, different work schedules and friends who kind of faded away.

Finally we had a family to hang out with, friends for us, friends for our son.  But now they’re gone again.

With the emergence of Facebook, it’s gotten much easier to find people I lost touch with, and start arranging movie nights and such.

The A– SCA group has started dance practices again, every other week, with about an hour of social time afterwards at a local bar and grill.  It’s a late night for our son, but we figure he can sleep in the car on the way home, and we NEED social time.

Today I asked a woman at church (one of the very few who are my age) out for coffee, and she agreed.

So I’m working on connecting with old and new friends so that I won’t feel desperately lonely with the loss of my (former) best friend and all the things we used to do with his family.

I’m still grateful to him for leading me into Orthodoxy, and miss the good times, but he just doesn’t seem like the same person I used to know. 

I sometimes wonder how much of the guy I used to know, was real, and how much was an act put on for me because he didn’t want to scare me off. 

I wonder how much of the change is from him getting obsessed with politics and dealing with a wife who keeps going through abusive cycles. 

He said he loved me like a sister, and that I was very dear to him, so I know that much was real.  [Now I doubt that.]

I know he didn’t want to lose our friendship, because he told Jeff that a few days before the blowup (during an argument with me), and because Jeff heard through a mutual friend that he and Tracy miss playing a certain roleplaying game with Jeff.

[She asked what happened, Jeff was vague, she said, “So it’s high school drama?”  Well, I suppose so, when you’re dealing with a 29-year-old who acts like a teenager.  Now, Jeff and I also doubt that they ever missed either of us or ever cared to preserve the friendship.]

So who knows, maybe one of these days they’ll regret their harshness.  But I can’t count on that, so I have to move on.  This has been a very rough summer, so I look forward to the school year, hoping it will get my mind off things.

I also desperately hope that my church survives, and that Richard’s church survives.  Because if either of our churches folds, we will all have to go to the same church.

(They go to the — church, which is tiny and struggling, and I go to the — church, which is tiny and struggling.  They’ve been in talks with each other about things they can do to survive, such as merging.)

For right now, while there is a risk they’ll come to my church again, most of the time we’re still at different churches and can worship in peace.

My friend Cindy wrote,

I agree with Mike, someone that is so hurtful to you is not really a friend you want to have in your life. Friends accept us for who we are and support us. You are a nice person and should be treated kindly by your friends.

Table of Contents 

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


E-Mails Describing pain of breaking up with a close friend

I wrote to Mike,

Another former friend [Todd] of [Richard and Tracy] sympathizes.  He also found himself at the mercy of the wife’s temper.  He stayed with them for a little while a few years ago.

He knows how hard she is to deal with, and that what she says, goes.  When she goes off on you, she is brutal.  And my (former) friend [Richard] stands with her rather than trying to buffer things.

I don’t know how many friends he’s already lost because of his wife, but we’re not the only ones.

He’s told me of others, that people will say they can’t be friends with him anymore because of her, that he’s had friends who were at “war” with her.

She comes from a very abusive home, you see, and some of the traits were passed along to her.

My (former) friend is well aware of these things….And she keeps chasing his friends away.  If it weren’t for her, I would never have given up my friend.

Fine, my friend “Richard.”  I might as well say it [his name], now that you won’t ever be meeting him and he won’t be on my Facebook page anymore.

I had to deal with two very hard breakups in college.  You weren’t around for the first one.  Each were hard in their own way, the first because it was a new experience and I didn’t know what to do.  In both cases, I thought I’d be with this guy forever.

I see that breaking up with a friend is much the same as breaking up with a boyfriend: It hurts. 

Your heart aches when you see something that reminds you of your friend. If you’ve been together a while, then practically everything you see, hear (such as songs) or do will remind you of them for a while.

You have movies you watched, songs you enjoyed, TV shows you watched together, even grocery stores or restaurants that you went to together. Even going to church reminds you of that person if you went to the same church. 

My very faith reminds me of him because he helped lead me into it and I thought (briefly) about making him my godfather.  [He offered, I had already thought about it, but he’s my age and the opposite sex, so I thought it wouldn’t be a good idea.]

Every other time we had a problem, we’d talk on the phone or in person or by chat or e-mail and make it all better.  But that won’t be happening this time.

He was my confidant about so many things, so many problems I was dealing with, like when my parents were having problems and my dad (we thought) had left my mom.

And now he’s gone, not because he wanted to be–Jeff says he wanted to work things out [at least, that’s what he said, though he didn’t act like it]–but because Jeff and I looked at each other and realized we had to end it.

I suppose in time I’ll get past it like I did my breakups with exes.  But I’ve only had to break off one other friendship in my whole life, and that was with someone who had, himself, treated me horribly [Shawn].

I never before had to break up with a friend because of who they were married to.  Friends are supposed to be there forever. Even if they fade away, you’re supposed to be able to get in touch with them again years later and it’s like they never left.

I have to send this e-mail off without checking it for errors, because I had a hard time getting through the writing of it…  🙁

On the 13th, I wrote to Jeff,

Had a thought…. The thought struck me today….

When I think of all the gaffes Richard has made, things I’ve witnessed and that he’s told me about….We discussed them and moved passed them calmly and rationally, and forgave. 

I make one and I’m treated like the Antichrist. Can we say unfair?

Jeff replied,

Indeed. It seems we live with a different definition of ‘friend’ than they do.

Table of Contents 

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


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