abuse by proxy

Without warning or explanation, tensions build as Richard and Tracy both begin acting like lunatics

TENSION BUILDING –

  • Tension starts and steadily builds
  • Abuser starts to get angry
  • Communication breaks down
  • Victim feels the need to concede to the abuser
  • Tension becomes too much
  • Victim feels uneasy and a need to watch every move –Kim Eyer, The Cycle of Abuse

Something I read on 1/5/14 which made me go hmmmmm:

To draw you closer, the psychopath creates an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers.

They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement.

Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).

Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically.

They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities. This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default.

Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love.

This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.

…The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them.

Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite.

They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.

….The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy. In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you.

You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target. –Peace, Torture by Triangulation

Richard’s relationship with me was a platonic friendship, but the same dynamics were at work: The first couple of months he stayed with us, his cell constantly rang with all sorts of friends.

He’d ignore them to talk with me, or answer and then say he was in the middle of a conversation, and get back to me.

He’d tell me about all the women he had to fight off–not just in his single days, but after getting married.

After this love bombing phase ended, the criticism began and I was discarded for a month, I could do nothing right, and he didn’t want to spend time with me anymore.

Then he gave me bearhugs–throwing me a bone to keep me thinking that things would be as they were at first.

But after that, despite the occasional bone-throwing, he kept me off-balance.  Other friends were constantly clamoring for his time, and I became lower on the totem pole than they were.

Then a new friend, Chris, came along, and got all the attention that I used to get.  They’d go out and do things, talk, etc., and I would be the one sitting at home, or abandoned at the picnic table while they went walking along the beach.

The last part also reminds me of mid-2010, when I could feel things were going wrong, but when I tried to discuss it with him, he shut me down, made me feel paranoid.

He also told me that his political friends were messaging him on Facebook complaining about the things I posted on his Facebook threads (which is ridiculous because it’s Facebook, where you’re supposed to have fun with your friends, and that’s what I did, rather than getting all political like him).

This article also makes me wonder how much of this whole situation was Richard manipulating me to make Tracy jealous, to keep her from leaving him.  If he played each of his friends, family, spouse, the way he played me, on purpose to control us all.

In the last month or two of our friendship, after the bullying had been mostly confined to the occasional snipe, it ratcheted up all of a sudden; was it because of several comments I made on Facebook and at Tracy’s house about what constitutes child abuse?

Of course, bullies will say you deserve it.  You don’t ever deserve it.

(I just read an article about a girl who beat up another girl, kicked her in the head, caused a concussion and bleeding on the brain, and then bragged on her Facebook page that the girl she beat up, had it coming.  Despicable.  She’s been sentenced, though it’s a slap on the wrist.)

Friends are supposed to relieve your stress, not cause it.  They’re supposed to be there for you when you have problems, not cause your problems.  Imagine being forced–on pain of losing your dearest friend–to confide in someone you don’t trust because they keep bullying that friend.

I remember getting very sick at the end of April 2010, so sick that for a time I wondered if I would survive (swine flu?).

When I finally found out it was just a bad flu and then got better, Jeff drove my son and me to the grocery store.  In the car, I pondered whether my friendship with Richard was worth fighting for, and decided it was.

So things must have been going on then, too, that I don’t remember now.  Though I do remember chatting online with Chris during the winter or spring and asking him if Richard treated him the way he treated me: unreturned phone calls, suddenly dropping out of a chat without a word, things like that.

Early in the winter I had every reason to believe that my friendship with Richard was cemented, that Tracy was perfectly fine with it and we had freedom to do what he could do with his other friends, and that Richard was starting to remember just how good of friends we had been, all the jams I helped him out of, all the emotional support I gave him.

But sometime in the late winter or spring, I began feeling fed up, that he was treating me very badly.

So one day in April I figured our friendship was worth fighting for, while in early May I felt like it was all falling apart, and I had no clue why.

I had not changed; I still treasured the friendship.  I had no clue why Richard would act so differently toward me.

You may recall the incident I described before, of Tracy smacking the 3-year-old upside the head around the turn of the year, and the inner turmoil this sent me into.  Also, other abusive incidents I witnessed during 2010.

On April 15, 2010, is this blurb in an e-mail from Richard: “and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and getting yelled at for not cleaning when I do clean.”

During these few months before July, I’d hear about “drama” in his house, and see it as well.  It seemed like things were getting worse and worse all the time, so bad that Jeff and I could even see it for ourselves, and discussed it. 

Jeff thought Tracy was bipolar.

He also thought the trouble at their house, and how they started treating me, was caused by stress and sleep apnea, and hoped that would change with treatment. 

But even if it did, it wasn’t soon enough to salvage our friendship, as their own personal drama spilled over onto Jeff and me.

On May 30, 2010, Jeff was about to drop me off at church when we saw Richard and his children in the parking lot.  Richard’s priest was gone at some conference, so he came to my church, only we then discovered that my priest was in the hospital!  (He recovered, by the way.)

So we discussed going over to this Episcopalian church which Richard liked to visit.  But when Jeff dropped me off there, I got this weird vibe off Richard.  What, he invites me but doesn’t want me there?

Still, we both seemed to enjoy the service together.  Then he took me around the church, showed me the various awesome things they had there.

People kept thinking we were married, so we had to say NO.  So I joked about it, but Richard didn’t laugh, which was weird.

But then when I asked if he could take me home–a reasonable request, I thought, especially since there was plenty of room in his van, and there was no point in making Jeff come all the way back to the church–he got this look on his face like I was being weird or annoying somehow.

It made no sense at all, and I couldn’t figure out what the heck I could’ve possibly done to deserve these reactions, especially from the guy who normally enjoyed spending time with me and liked driving me to/from church.

During this time, on May 8 or 9, 2010, at a birthday party in the park for one of the children, Richard told me about a silly dream he had.  Tracy got upset at him for this, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me about that this morning when we were laughing and bonding?”  I couldn’t tell if she was really upset or just joking, but as usual, it made me very uncomfortable.

She did that sort of thing a lot, jabbing at him in front of me with what seemed to be anger, though I wasn’t sure if it was anger or a joke.  And the possessive, jealous tinge of the “joke” also bugged me.

Simultaneously with her increased bullying of me, Jeff and I noticed their own family stress increasing and erupting into screams and jabs and spanks whenever we went over there.  

Not only did Tracy scream at the kids, but she screamed at Richard as well.  Then he’d turn around and yell at her in the kitchen for “screaming at the kids all the time.”  It made me extremely uncomfortable for them to do this with me right there in the room.

Every time we visited, they’d be bickering, worse than I had seen it, and occasionally the kids got something as well.  

I saw Richard’s face when he got yelled at, like he was seething inwardly but checking out. 

While Tracy did already occasionally yell at Richard with me in the room, I don’t recall seeing Richard yell at Tracy in front of me before this.

(Well, there was that time when he screamed at her on the phone in the basement back in November 2007….But I never saw him do it when she was actually in the room before.)

Something was stirring them up to a boiling point, and had been for weeks.  And it had nothing whatsoever to do with me.  I just became the convenient scapegoat a couple of months later, the lamb sacrificed for the peace of the household.

Probably early in June 2010, Jeff and I went over there; I forget if this is when we went to watch the kids while Richard took Tracy out on a birthday date, or when we went there to play a game of D&D.  I seem to recall her wearing a dress as if for a date, but I also recall being there with Richard and Tracy all evening, so it must have been for D&D….

Anyway, I sat on the couch, vaguely watching as two of the kids (the older ones, I believe) began dancing around and being joyful.  They did absolutely nothing wrong, and looked sweet and happy.  It was cute; they were being children.

Then all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, and for no reason I could possibly fathom, Tracy stormed over and went from 0 to 60 in two seconds: She flew over and began screaming and whacking fury at them. 

She screamed her head off at the kids, yanking and jerking them around by the arms, and screaming louder and louder at them as she threw spanks left and right. 

I had no idea what on earth the kids could have done wrong.  They didn’t say a word or fight back, just seemed to go limp.  Even their faces were blank.  Yet Tracy grew madder and madder, screamed louder and louder, yanked their arms around, and whacked spanks every which way.

It reminded me of the time they were living in my house and she started yelling and screaming louder and louder at Richard, even though he did not fight back and agreed with everything she said.

Helplessness: Children are inherently helpless and subordinate.  They cannot escape a dangerous situation and are easily taken advantage of.

When a child realizes they cannot protect themselves they believe they are helpless and eventually stop trying to protect themselves.

They often withdraw, go limp, or dissociate, or a way in which some children survive abuse by escaping mentally. 

While the abuse is occurring, the body and the mind seem to separate and while the body is being hurt; the child no longer feels it and is disconnected from the abuse. 

There are many ways to dissociate and each child may do it differently.  One may seem to leave the body floating overhead where the abuse is occurring or one may be able to completely withdraw or go inward and not mentally exist therefore not experiencing anything. —Source

This incident of child abuse right in front of me was frightening even for me, an adult, and also infuriated me.  

I was too frightened of her in general to do anything (she’s bigger than me, violent and nasty).  For the rest of the evening, I was very nervous and scared of her.  Unfortunately, Jeff wasn’t there to see this, having stepped out to buy some things for dinner.

Or should I say, of course he wasn’t there–she kept doing these things when he wasn’t there or wasn’t looking.  So I’d have to tell him later just what happened.

Shortly after, when things calmed down a bit, Richard started playing a song for me, a song which he had just posted about on his Facebook page.  I didn’t really know the song, had heard it maybe once or twice before (one of the times being when I clicked on his link).

It had been popular several years back, a dance song, something about a train, by a lady singer.  He had compared her to Lady Gaga, whom I also didn’t know at all, since I swore off ever-increasingly banal popular music about 10 years before.  I was surprised he knew about Lady Gaga, either, since he was a Goth fan….

Anyway, he played this song for me because it had been his earworm the past couple of days.  But then Tracy began yelling at him because he’d already played it numerous times over the past couple of days.

I’m sitting here thinking, Geez, lady, he’s a grown man and you’re not his mother!  Can’t he play it 100 times if he wants to?

I could understand being annoyed, but her yelling and screaming at him was way out of proportion, especially dealing with her husband, not a child.

He got an angry, henpecked look on his face, and told her to turn it off if she wanted to.  

(This may have been the same day when she began yelling at him for undermining her when he popped in Fifth Element for me to watch, while apparently she had just told the kids not to watch a movie.  He got the same look on his face and kept the movie running.)

More arguing….

Later in the evening, probably during dinner, he apologized, but even the apology quickly turned into an argument as they started picking at each other again.

Also during dinner, Tracy was in the kitchen asking or talking about something.  My son, who sat eating pizza beside me at the dining room table, made a comment about it.  She snapped at him for it, telling him to be quiet.  He got an angry look, and I was furious at her for yelling at my son.

Tracy started constantly ripping on me and bullying me no matter what I said or did, including on Facebook. 

It was absolutely nothing I did or said: It was something going on in her own head that I had nothing whatsoever to do with. 

It was probably her cycling again, going into an abusive phase where nobody was safe and nobody could do anything right. 

In other words, it was not my fault, but all hers, yet I was the one blamed for it in July and August, when imaginary complaints about me were brought up by both Richard and Tracy as “reasons” for her actions. 

This is what abusers do to try to justify their abuse, and Richard, as her abuser-by-proxy, went along with it–probably to keep the peace in his own house, keep the abuse away from himself.

She ripped on me on Memorial Day 2010 simply because I put bug spray, Kleenex and sunscreen in a bag and brought it with me to sit outside.

She talked as if a “normal” person would go back and forth into the house every time they wanted something.

Well, I didn’t want to bother with all that running all over the place when I could just put everything into a bag!

And what the heck difference did it make to her?!  Jeff stuck up for me, because he saw how ridiculous she was.

Richard started treating me like crap, as well:

One day, probably late winter or early spring 2010, while preparing for our latest D&D game, I saw what looked like honey on the table.

So rather than be stupid and put my books on honey, I did what any sensible person would do, and acted like any guest who wants to do for herself and not overburden her host by being a princess:

I pulled out a wipe from my purse and started wiping off the honey.

But then Richard, who was sitting right next to me, stunned me by screaming in my face for cleaning his house! 

(This was one of several WTF moments I had with him.)

Then Tracy said, “Oh, come on, you’ve always known she’s weird.”  I didn’t know whether Tracy was getting after him for yelling at me, or snarking on me again.  Or both.

They keep their house in filth most of the time, say they “clean it” before I come which makes me wonder how bad it is when I’m not coming over, and I’m the weird one for not wanting to get honey on my books?

Somebody must have made a crack about the stash of wipes in my purse (just one 15-piece travel package, not a ton), because I said, “I’m a mother.  Of course I have all sorts of things in my purse.”

(My mother had all sorts of things in her purse when I was growing up: Kleenex, gum, etc.  A married, pregnant woman, a non-traditional student, in one of my college classes whipped out a bottle of aspirin when somebody needed it, and commented that because she’s a mother, she has a well-stocked purse.  And at a Little League game in 2011, when a little girl had a nosebleed, three mothers–including me–rushed over to her parents with wipes to clean her up with.)

Then Tracy got huffy and said, “Are you saying I’m not a mother, then, because I don’t?”  Even though I hadn’t said a word about her, having no clue what was in her purse.

So…You can call me weird but I can’t say this is a motherly trait without you getting upset?  Jeff stuck up for me, saying he often wishes he had my stash with him when at his church alone with our son.

I felt like running out of the room or crying or something, but tried to be the adult and suck it up.

But oh, how it hurt (and shocked and appalled) to be yelled at out of the blue by my best and dearest friend for such a silly thing, and to be ripped on by Tracy just for being an organized mother.

The WTF moment is when the non-abusive partner, typically after weeks, months and sometimes years of love bombing, hoop jumping, guilt, manipulation, obligation, fear, self-doubt and blaming and shaming tactics, has a moment of clarity.

It’s when you finally realize, “Wait a minute. Something’s wrong here, but it isn’t me.” Shrink4Men

Jeff tells me that when they only expected him and a few other friends for D&D, they didn’t bother cleaning up much at all–so the filth I saw, got even worse when I wasn’t there.

It made Jeff feel like he wasn’t worth cleaning up for, because he was used to a clean house and didn’t appreciate the filth, either.

When Richard’s mother-in-law visited for three weeks and did some housework, Richard got mad at her, too–even though the MIL was probably just of my own mother’s school of thought, that if you stay for a few weeks, you should help with the housework or you’re a lazy bum.

(When we stayed with our in-laws for several days in 2011, I made our bed, my son made his bed, and I cleaned up after us in the bathroom.)

They didn’t clean their own house, but nobody else was allowed to, either?  How on earth could they expect her to just grin and bear living in a place so filthy without trying to clean some of it?  I couldn’t have lasted one night in that place without scrubbing down the bathroom!

And I’ve since learned that Richard also yelled at Jeff for this on nights when he went over there alone to play D&D.  Jeff said Richard yelled just as nastily as he did at me for cleaning honey off the table, and that made Jeff angry.

He went over there around 9pm, yet the kids would still be up, the house and table a mess, and they’d still be cleaning for quite some time after he got there.  So Jeff would grab a rag and start cleaning stickiness off the table before putting his books down, or do other things to help clean up, so they could get to the frickin’ game already.  And he’d get screamed at.

You’re supposed to say “thank you” when somebody helps you clean.  Yet somehow, they were the ones who felt that I didn’t know proper etiquette and behavior and had to be lectured on it by them?

I have since learned from hoarding shows that this is a common reaction when someone tries to help clean a hoarder house.

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

 

We *seem* to have things sorted out–and they *seem* to finally take responsibility for causing drama (but there’s more to come later)

But then an hour after the last draft I wrote of the above e-mail, I wrote to Jeff,

I *finally* got to finish that talk with Richard.  I had things all written down to say, then when I got the chance to say them, realized I was sick of the whole thing and just said maybe one or two things and that “nobody meant any harm.”  He noted that our two families just do a lot of things differently.

From what he says, it sounds like there’s been a LOT of miscommunication going on that has fueled everything, things that would have made a difference if I knew about them at the time.  Like, I was being protective of him at times, thought he was being mistreated, and had no idea he agreed with Tracy.

I told him that what Tracy overheard was not the whole story; I reminded him how he scolded me later, how I told you about it and we both relented on some things.  He says that things are now coming out in the open that should make a huge difference in how everybody interacts.

I told him I’m often clueless on social matters and to PLEASE let me know when I screw something up, that I might get upset but I’ll be better for the hearing.

He also says they’re going to go look at a duplex.  Here’s hoping!

Then I sent this to Richard on June 13:

(By e-mail since it’s probably far too busy this weekend for you to be taking another phone call.) I can’t help feeling this enormously icky feeling over some of the things we did that you guys were offended by….

I start thinking, “And all this time he felt this way and I had no clue. I hope he didn’t think less of me because of it, or that I was any less dear to him.”

It makes me feel like a huge heel even though we never, ever, ever meant anything the way that these things apparently came across. I guess we just were blinded by our emotions (I was feeling mistreated and pushed aside, Jeff was upset that his wife was upset) and didn’t think things through.

So I’m sending an apology to you as well. Oh, and you also have my permission to launch something soft and fuzzy at me (pillow, stuffed animal) if I miss a conversational cue.

In response Richard wrote,

There is nothing to fret about. No need for an apology and nothing to worry over. Both you and Jeff are Godsends who extended arms of love and support for a family down in the dumps.

If anything we apologize for causing drama. Our only excuses for any drama is that we lived in [old region] far too long to get it out of our systems before coming out here. 😛

So have no worries, luv.  Stop dwelling! No more worrying!

I wrote,

[happy cry]

I will try to stop dwelling/worrying.  It’s hard for me to do.  😛  One of the introverted traits: We ruminate.

One of the NVLD traits: We tend to latch onto something, like an interest or a hobby or a situation, and it won’t leave our heads for days no matter what we do.  (If you doubt it, just look at the size of my “Orthodox Theology” file.  Now it’s broken; I think I need a box….)

So I get hit with a double-whammy.

But knowing that we are *OKAY* will be a tremendous help.  Hopefully I will be able to latch onto something else soon–say, trying to get through Sho-Gun at last.  Less than 300 pages left!

I do have a problem, though: I can’t go to confession, at least with my own priest, for weeks.  He’s gone for two weeks, and when he comes back, the first Divine Liturgy will be at the site of Greek Fest.  No confessions there, not in the Rec Center with no Jesus icon and people already banging down the doors and milling in for the good eats.

Now I see why confession is so important: Even with the best of intentions, you can still hurt people.  I long to hie myself there ASAP.

It seemed like all our problems were now resolved, like they had FINALLY taken responsibility for causing this drama, instead of always putting it on my shoulders.  Now that I finally got my apology, I felt I could move on.

You also see that I took much of the responsibility on myself.

At some point, I told him I hoped it wasn’t the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.  I thought it was the end of the beginning.

You’d think that was the end of it.  I had also sent an apology to Tracy, despite Richard telling me I didn’t need to.  I decided not to listen to him anymore, and just do it anyway.  I asked if we could start over, and we did.  Next time I saw her, I felt the wall was gone, and chatted with her easily.

But a year later–after I had been led to believe for some months that Tracy’s restrictions on me were all dropped again (more on this later)–I discovered this “apology” was a lie.  That it *was* the beginning of the end. 

I discovered that Tracy refused to drop her grudges no matter what I said, no matter what I did, that nothing I did ever satisfied her. 

That this was all a big con game she played to screw with my head and drive me insane.

It made me wonder if, when he said “we apologize for bringing drama into your house,” by “we” he meant “I.”  If she even knew he had written this.  If I could consider it to be an apology from her, or just from him.

But I was dealing with a woman who probably has borderline personality disorder and/or is a narcissist.

Richard himself said that she goes in cycles, fine for a while, then abuse starting up again.

I did my darndest to fight off bad memories and bad feeling, and forgive.  And for a while it worked.

But then at some point–I believe during the following winter (2009/2010)–she started cycling again, abusing the kids in front of me, snarking at me, sniping at Richard.  And it all went downhill from there.  But more on that to come.

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

 

Revealing e-mails I drafted to Richard: proving I felt abused and bullied, and witnessed abuse

I wrote these drafts of an e-mail to Richard, after the phone conversation I describe above, which was not quite finished–and left me with all sorts of complaints:

You said you’d talk to Tracy….Did it do any good?

It’s ripping me apart inside but it feels like the efforts I have made have been forgotten, the nice things I did for her and little things I said here and there and conversations I had with her….

I was hurt deeply by many things that happened, but for your sake I tried my hardest to get past them and forget them.

It hurts not only that these things have been forgotten but also that you seemed to believe so many bad things about me, too, or think anything she did to me was in any way justified.  I thought you knew me better than that.

I KNEW something was up but you kept insisting I was just paranoid.  I have lost so many hours and so much sleep to this issue.

Nothing I do is ever good enough.  I am not this evil person she seems to think I am.  I would never snub her.  I would never manipulate Jeff into anything.

To be honest, I haven’t cared about “going for coffee” or “going to the Bar & Grill” or whatever the point of contention is, for some time.

I care only about being trusted and not fearing my head’ll get bitten off.  I don’t think it’ll ever get better.

You seem to have forgotten various details which will put that overheard conversation into perspective.  Especially if you think you were working too hard to “keep the peace.”

I’m not sure you’re aware of all the abusive behavior I’d been witnessing for some time before I had that conversation [with Jeff]. My primary concern was not myself but how you and the girls were being treated. Also, I felt like the abuse was beginning to get directed toward me, and I had no clue where that was coming from.

I think you’ve also forgotten the series of letters I used to try to talk things out with you, because I wasn’t allowed to talk with you one-on-one.  

It wasn’t about going out for coffee, it was about not being allowed to discuss important things with you in private.  It was about feeling cut off and forgotten, like my best friend had been taken away from me.

Jeff was well aware of all of this; he had already comforted me as I sobbed over how it felt like I was being pushed aside.

[On the day I spoke to Jeff about everything and Tracy overheard] It wasn’t me manipulating him into it; I merely told him what was going on and how I felt;

[Jeff’s suggestion to show Tracy a movie so I could watch a movie with Richard for once] was his fix-it response to a problem [and he had already done this a few times before we had this conversation].

He never would’ve done it if he thought it was some sort of manipulation to get a man alone with his wife [for nefarious purposes]–are you kidding?

[This shows how I was guilted and manipulated as my/Jeff’s actions were twisted way out of proportion into the worst possible interpretations–same as they did to Todd in 2008.] 

He trusted us both enough to leave us alone for long periods of time.  He did it deliberately.  He was happy I had found a friend.

As for the shoulder thing–You and I had those conversations already [Richard had started the practice and taught me it was perfectly innocent and appropriate];

we both knew it was completely innocent; we had established firm boundaries of what was and was not acceptable.

And–“don’t know you”?  She’d been living in my house for a few weeks already!  I was no stranger!

[He told me that she got upset over the “shoulder thing” because she didn’t know me, but that if a certain other friend did it, Tracy would think it was cute, and join in.

It was also distressing to hear about this yet again, because I hadn’t done it since January 2008, because it upset her so much.  Yet it kept getting brought up over and over and over!]

I KNEW things weren’t quite right.  I got worried when you didn’t call me [whenever he promised to].  I thought a number of things: You were being yelled at, you thought I was acting weird….

You told me I was just being paranoid…told me you were trying to find the right time is all….Now come to find you were getting yelled at because it was “THAT woman”….Like I was the one with the problem.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  Jeff says he would’ve ended the friendship a long time ago, that he would have exploded by now.

In later drafts:

I worked hard to remember details and put that overheard conversation into perspective.

My primary concern was how you and the girls were being treated.  I had already witnessed various incidents of abuse.  I felt like I was now being abused and did not deserve it.

I already felt cut off and forgotten, like my best friend was pushing me aside.  Now I felt my best friend was being taken away from me for no good reason.

Jeff was already aware of this.  I wasn’t manipulating him into anything; I merely told him what was going on and how I felt; it was his fix-it response to a problem.

Do you think for a moment he would’ve done it if he thought we were going to do something we shouldn’t?

Do you think for a moment he would’ve done what he did without the best of intentions?  He wanted to befriend Tracy!

And about the “incident”–You and I had those conversations already; we both knew it was completely innocent, that Americans are too uptight; we had established firm boundaries.  And–“don’t know you”?  She’d been living in my house for a few weeks already!  I was no stranger!

Things we both did [either Richard and me, or Jeff and me, not sure which] with the best of intentions and innocent motives are being painted with an evil, underhanded light, and that hurts deeply.  This talk of violent thoughts [Tracy almost killing me] is very troubling.

I don’t need you to “bend over backward” because of my shyness/quietness; I merely ask for understanding.  It hurts that you’d even think I’d be deliberately rude.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  My illusions that things were now fine have come crashing down and I don’t know where I stand with you.  You say you don’t want to lose a friendship over it.  Neither do I, but I also can’t take any more sleepless nights and endless crying jags.

Even later drafts:

I worked hard to remember details and put that overheard conversation into perspective.  I had already witnessed various incidents of abuse.  My primary concern was how you and the girls were being treated.  I felt like I was now being abused and did not deserve it.

I felt cut off and forgotten, like my best friend was pushing me aside.  Now I felt my best friend was being taken away from me for no good reason.

I merely told Jeff what was going on and how I felt.  He responded by trying to fix the problem.

Various things we both did with the best of intentions and innocent motives are being painted with an evil, underhanded light, and that hurts deeply.  This talk of violent thoughts is very troubling.

I don’t need you to “bend over backward” because of my shyness/quietness; I merely ask for understanding.  It hurts that you’d ever think I’d be deliberately rude, or that you’d let these things build on themselves without talking with me about it first.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  My illusions that things were now fine and the past was left in the past, have come crashing down and I don’t know where I stand with you.  You say you don’t want to lose a friendship over it.  Neither do I, but I also can’t take any more sleepless nights and endless crying jags.

I think I know what she meant about being too worried about “keeping the peace.”  If you knew what Jeff was doing (and I remember telling you about it) and it bugged you, you should’ve said something.  Now it’s festered.

If you knew about an “incident,” [her seeing the shoulder sleeping one afternoon when I was sick and desperately needed a nap] you should’ve told me.

You also should’ve told me, “It’s not okay right now, even when she’s out of the room, but it’ll be perfectly fine once she gets to know you.  I will tell you when that day comes, so you don’t have to guess.”  All I remember hearing is something about jealousy.

I keep hearing “you ignore it when she tries to start a conversation,” but I have no clue what you mean because all I remember is being kind and pleasant and smiling where appropriate and occasionally saying something.  If you see something happen, come to me and say, “THAT’s what I mean.”  Then I can say, “What?  I had no idea!” and be more watchful.

In my childhood, I had absolutely no clue that I was supposed to say “hi” and “bye” when people said it to me, until my mom and aunt pointed out that it was rude not to.  I think I was something like 10 or 11 by then.  Here I had no idea I was ticking people off for all those years, so I started forcing myself to say it.  Of course, it was still many years before I started initiating the “hi/bye,” but at least I knew to say it back.

In my teens, I had no idea that I was supposed to thank a person for a ride until a girl in my youth group chewed me out.  While it was embarrassing and I felt bad, I was also grateful to her for pointing this out.  I became a very gracious ride-taker after that.

I also didn’t see the point of saying “thank you” to a waitress because she was just doing her job, not a favor.  But in time I began to see how  much better it is to do so.

I am not intentionally rude.  I just never picked up on some of the social rules that other people figure out instinctively.  If nobody ever points it out, I miss it completely.

I don’t want to be chewed out, just have it gently mentioned.  Now Jeff never heard of the “compliments starting a conversation” rule, either,  so it may very well be a difference between [their region and our region] culture.

I didn’t actually send this e-mail because I spoke to Richard on the phone between the last draft at 3pm and an e-mail to Jeff at 4pm.  But I wrote it because our talk got interrupted before it could be finished.

So you see, old stuff was being drudged up again that I thought had long since been put to bed because nobody was doing them anymore, and because Tracy had made it very clear back in August of 2008 that the old restrictions on me were gone!

But when I called him about it after 3pm, I said I was tired of the whole thing (had been for a while, in fact).  I said I had a list of defenses but wanted to just drop the whole subject, and he said he did as well.

(The only one who actually kept the subject going in the first place, was Tracy.  Richard and I had wanted to drop it a long time ago.)

I told him I was sorry for my own part in things, and said so, to him and in an e-mail to her, which she accepted.  It sounded like he and I had so resolved things that their misunderstandings of me were cleared up.

More on this here.

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

 

Disturbing Revelations from Richard about Tracy and our time sharing a house

On June 10, 2009, I was still smarting from the sexual harassment, and thought relations between Tracy and me had long since been resolved.

This was a rough couple of weeks:

  • On June 1, I learned that Richard (claimed to have) secretly hypnotized me while he lived with us.
  • Probably between the 1st and the 5th, the sexual harassment occurred.
  • On June 5, I learned that Richard used to be a Mafia thug.
  • On June 6, he told me they were about to get evicted again, and he was plotting to kill his apartment manager in retaliation–then called back and said his wife told him not to.

I believe it was also around June 6 when I discovered Tracy’s old restrictions on me were back up again, and I had no idea how long they’d been back up.

I didn’t even know that going out for coffee was verboten again, until Richard now told me on the phone that it was–and that, as he fervently put it, “I want to go out for coffee!”

(This did come up once during the fall or winter of 2008/2009, when I wanted to do something and Richard said he couldn’t.  I forget what it was.

(Exasperated, I sighed and said we could make sure the kids were with us so we weren’t alone–but he said, no, it was NOT about me, but because Tracy was pregnant and hormonal–and would have the same reaction to him doing the same thing with ANY woman.

(Basically, no, the restrictions were NOT back up on me: He couldn’t do this with anyone during her pregnancies or she would get jealous.  That was a relief.)

Now on June 6, however, he told me the restrictions were up.

Again?  Not only that, but the way he talked, it seemed like they never had been taken away.

???!!!

He said something about Tracy wanting to have a certain kind of conversation with me.  It’s hard to remember his words now, but basically, a kind of easy back-and-forth conversation–which is notoriously difficult for both NLDers and introverts.

I believe the next day was my church’s name-day celebration; they attended that and the reception afterwards.

I carried on such a conversation with her, because for once there was something to talk about (her hair color change)–and things naturally flowed out of that.

I later asked him how I did; he said I did well–and she told him we never had a conversation like that before.

But that was another lie, because we had such conversations back in December 2007, before she turned on me.

So–

What the heck was WITH this woman????!!!!

Now I know this is a common trait of narcissists and abusers, called gaslighting or crazy-making.  Because yeah, it’s meant to make you feel like you’re crazy.

He said that if they couldn’t find a place, they’d go back to their previous state.  I couldn’t bear the thought of my BFF Richard leaving, so I offered to let them stay with us, but done differently this time:

I told Richard I would be a better host and treat Tracy differently.

I came up with ways to make things run more smoothly, such as pooling laundry and setting up a makeshift room in the basement.

You see, I didn’t just say everything I did before was right and Tracy just had to suck it up: I felt bad about the past, and said I would do better.

On June 10, I called Richard to ask what he thought about my ideas and offer.

That’s when he shocked me with the revelation that Tracy spit on my hospitality: Even with all the offers I made to make things easier on everybody, and saying I would be a better host, Richard said Tracy refused to do this because of how “badly” I supposedly had behaved to her before.

This is when I discovered that Tracy spit on my hospitality because I hadn’t spent all my time chattering away with her instead of keeping up with the house and getting time to myself.

(See here to find out what really happened, however:

Part 1,

Part 2,

Part 3,

Part 4,

Part 5,

Part 6

At this distance, away from the FOG machine, I see more clearly–and believe that they finally gaslit me into thinking I had been the problem, when they actually had been horrible guests, taking advantage of us and manipulating us.)

Richard told me some revelations that floored me, that devastated me, that overshadowed the sting of sexual harassment which I was still dealing with.

These things went all the way back to the time they stayed with us–

things they never told us–

things that would have made a huge difference, if only we had known and had a chance to discuss them as a group–

things that explained why Tracy had turned so hostile to me.

Yet they had decided to mention none of them to me!

One of the revelations was that she eavesdropped when I vented to Jeff.  I always thought this was a private conversation.

Richard said she “heard every word.”  This wording and his tone were like she caught me lying.

She even told him I was “manipulating” Jeff.

Note that she was the one listening; she then told Richard what she heard.

Which tells me now, very clearly, that she actually lied to Richard about what I said to Jeff, just as she lied to everyone in the game forums about what Todd did a year earlier. 

Every word I told to Jeff was the truth.

I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT MANIPULATE HIM IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.

Especially since my husband is the type to resist and resent any form of manipulation.  And he says that no, I did NOT manipulate him.  The very accusation offends him, because it’s his JOB to listen to my complaints.

As you can see if you click on this link, what I really told Jeff, then and at other times during those few weeks, was how Tracy had been abusing everyone, including me, and how it made me feel.

He then, like a man, came up with a way to help the situation.  I probably hoped he’d lay down the law with our offensive houseguests, but instead he suggested a way to make things better.

This and the following revelations prove to me now that Tracy had motive all this time for psychologically abusing me, manipulating me, constantly changing her rules, and giving me permission/taking back permission to be friends with her husband:

(see chapter 5, which starts here)

Her motive was that I saw her for the abuser that she was. 

So she had to destroy me, had to drive a wedge between me and her husband–

so I couldn’t wake him up to the truth of her abuse. 

But in June 2009, I didn’t yet recognize this, did not yet understand the mindscrew capabilities of abusers and narcissists.

Apparently they thought it was somehow wrong of me to even talk to Jeff about what was happening!  So, of course, I objected about that to Richard.  (How dare they tell me not to tell my own husband how they were bullying me!)

Richard and I had long, revealing talks on the phone that made tears of remorse run down my face, that made me shut down and be quiet and thoughtful all evening long, until finally our son was in bed and I could tell Jeff something of what had happened.

This is when I discovered how they reacted to what I told Jeff and the solution he came up with.

Yet they never mentioned it to us, never got it out into the frickin’ open,

just dealt with it passive-aggressively instead, through Tracy’s constant punishments of me and remembering what I “did.”

(Yet somehow Jeff wasn’t punished for this at all, even though it had been his idea and I just passively went along with it.  Why is that?  Just how badly did Tracy paint me when she misrepresented me to Richard, I wonder?)

Now I discovered that she knew full well that I overheard the snarks she made on the phone to her mother about me–and that this was why.

So it was on purpose!

This is when I discovered that she almost killed me one night–

which made me shake and wince, every time I saw someone on TV get beaten up, at the thought that it could have happened to me–

and over something which was nowhere near worth this reaction.

Over and over again the following year, I imagined her fists coming at me, Jeff coming into the room (whether from the basement or his bed), screaming at her and throwing her out of the house.

Me going to the hospital (or grave).  Her going to jail.

All because I, who was very sick and very sleepy, desperately needed a nap but couldn’t sleep on that crowded couch until I found a soft shoulder.  Heck, I did the same thing one night while she was right there on the couch, but she said nothing then!

Also, at some point–I’ve long forgotten when–Richard wrote to me in a chat that he’d tell Tracy I was just shy, and she’d say I wasn’t shy because of sleeping on his shoulder.

Um…

  • For one thing, I am indeed extremely shy, but why on earth would I be shy with my besties?
  • For another, I know people who do things like this with their friends.
  • And for another, HE TAUGHT ME that sleeping on shoulders is perfectly innocent and appropriate among friends.
  • And for yet another, ever since I learned in January/February 2008 that it upset her, I NEVER DID IT AGAIN.

But this was not enough for Tracy, who refused to ever let me live it down–

or stop reminding Richard of it, since Richard told me she’d bring it up periodically to him–

which you can see was meant to smear my character to him.

Now, hearing that she actually wanted to kill me over it, the depths of her violence troubled me greatly, and I told him it was probably impossible for her and me to ever be close friends.

He was surprised to hear that I was scared of her.  (Why would that surprise him?)

He said that he was telling me these things because he now felt he could be more open with me.

This shocked me, because for the last year and a half, I thought he could be open with me about anything!

I was open with him about everything, after all, and encouraged him to do the same.

During the two months he lived here by himself, we bonded; he opened up his heart about all sorts of things, even things that scared me.  Also, whenever he told me a complaint about me, I listened.

As I later told him, I may get upset about it at the time, but I need to hear it, and afterwards I would think it over and try to make changes.

But now he said he’d been keeping things from me this whole time? that he didn’t feel he could be open with me?

It felt like our entire friendship for the past year and a half had been a lie! 

That he treated me like some China doll instead of being honest with me, and I had no clue WHY, when I always tried to be the person he could talk to about anything!

Unlike narcissists, normal people are willing to acknowledge wrongdoing, and get distressed at the thought of hurting somebody.  Through Richard’s smooth words and manipulation of this natural tendency, he got me to feel like a horrible host, when in reality they had been horrible guests

I believe they used and abused my hospitality, were freeloaders taking advantage of my generosity–not just when they stayed with us, but for the following two years–then used these weasel words to make me think I was the problem, not them.

When I caught their narcissistic FLEAS and did something I shouldn’t have (the solution Jeff came up with), to them it was somehow far worse than all the insults and bad behavior they were themselves guilty of.

(In reality, the solution seemed okay to me because Jeff had already been doing this on his own–

his own idea, which he told me about AFTER he started doing it–

as I describe in earlier e-mails to my mom.) 

This is a form of gaslighting which narcissists and abusers are good at.

These revelations made me feel like a horrible person.  I did not yet see how they were manipulating and gaslighting me into thinking the problem was all mine, and that they had behaved above reproach. 

When I could finally bring myself to tell my husband what they said, he could see this better than I could, and got angry again. 

But I was so into a remorseful funk that I could see nothing but my own sins, that I was nothing but a worm who deserved to be punished for what I did, that I was lucky they were so graceful and forgiving with me so far as to still be friends with me.

When a non-personality-disordered individual (Non-PD) begins imitating or emulating some of the disordered behavior of a loved one or family member with a personality disorder this is sometimes referred to as “getting fleas”.

Sometimes, when a person has been exposed to an abusive situation for a sustained period, they will look for ways to escape – and sometimes they will experiment or resort to behaviors which are not characteristic but serve as a mechanism to demonstrate their anger.

These behaviors are often destructive and counter-productive and rarely get the abuse victim what they want. These behaviors usually result in regret, shame and apologies from the abuse victim towards their perpetrator.

Some perpetrators may seize on such incidents as justification for their own abusive behavior or as a diversion from it. Lie Down with Dogs & You’re Bound to Get Fleas

I wrote down some things I was upset about, my side of things, for a later conversation, because we weren’t able to finish before he had to hang up.

More on this here.

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

 

In August 2008, I ponder ending the friendship, but discover Tracy has long since “approved” me

I discover the restrictions are still up after 7 months–and ponder ending the friendship

In late August, I thought all of the crap was long over with and Tracy was now fine with me, that surely she knew me well enough by now (after 9 months!) to relax all the restrictions.

From what I recall, at this point I don’t believe I knew that I was supposed to be good friends with her as well; I thought friendly acquaintances was enough.  In our interactions, I had done my best to forget the things she had done and kept doing, and be pleasant.

Jeff lost his job early that month due to downsizing.  Like a huge chunk of the local businesses, his employer depended on Mercury Marine, which suffered during the 2008 downturn.

Actually, Mercury had been suffering for a while, because they make recreational equipment (outboard motors, that sort of thing), the economy had been dragging for several years, and when that happens, people don’t buy boats.

So Mercury didn’t go to my husband’s company for parts for their equipment.  So his company suffered, mandated unpaid vacation time, and let people go, even this one whom they once called their “go-to guy.”

We were already living paycheck-to-paycheck; a lack of inflation-based raises over the past several years, debt that kept us in chains, and added hardship from paying for Richard and Tracy living with us, meant no savings whatsoever.

And unemployment paid only a fraction of what it took to run the house and pay our debts.  We relied on Jeff’s family just to keep out of bankruptcy.  And it was a couple of months before the big crash of the national economy, making this a horrible time to be out of work.

I was stressed out, trying to be strong for Jeff, so I naturally wanted a shoulder to cry on.  There was nobody close enough to me for this except Richard: I had no girlfriends in town to talk to.

Shortly before August 24, I asked Richard for some time to just sit and talk with him in the parking lot about my troubles, expecting that Tracy’s restrictions were long gone by now and we could do this.

So I was shocked to learn from him that all the restrictions were still up!  This is probably when I learned she wanted me to be buddy-buddy with her and have deep conversations with her.  All this time, I thought I just had to let her get to know me first.  Now there was more!

During our daily walks, I explained the situation to Jeff, since he’s my husband, so I naturally tell him everything that troubles me.  He grew furious and made remarks about how Tracy could take herself back to [their original state], etc. etc.

I wrote an e-mail to Richard on Sunday, August 24, 2008; this is a compilation of the drafts, not what the e-mail finally looked like, and shows how I worked with different ways to say the same thing:

I have to be honest with you: If it’s true that Tracy still won’t let us go somewhere and talk, just talking in a public place, maybe even just taking a walk, even when I really need to talk to my friend about difficult times, after all this time, then I have to say I’ve given up on trying to please her.

It sounds like other people have gotten her approval with far less.  She lived here under my roof for a month and a half; she knows all she needs to know.  If she doesn’t trust me now, she never will.

The more she resists my friendship with you, the more of a wall gets built up between us, and she won’t get this buddy-buddy friendship she seems to want.  We also just don’t have enough in common for that: Our personality types just don’t mesh well together.

After all we’ve done for her family, to be cut off from you feels insulting, unnecessary and ungrateful.

The primary reason why I get paranoid when you don’t call me back when promised, is that I fear what’s going on on the other end: Is she getting mad at you for the very thought of calling me back, no matter how urgent the matter?  Is that why we have to talk to each other when she’s at work?

I am the way I am, and she has to take it or leave it.  I don’t feel comfortable with this situation, and it’s depressing.  The last thing I want is to be forced to give you up because the wife doesn’t like me.  You’re one of my dearest friends, part of the “inner circle.”

It’s very hard for me to find friends as close as we’ve gotten, so when I find one, I try to hang on.  But most of my close friends are in other cities and our primary communication is by e-mail.

Here I finally had a close friend right here at home again.  I’ve missed that since [an old] crowd drifted away and the youth group was disbanded.  I want it to stay that way.

I don’t know why she doesn’t like me and is putting me through all this; I don’t buy the reasons given.  I want to be there for you for everything, and I want you to be allowed to be there for me.

feeling bullied….

OR

I’ve been feeling heartsick, and after talking about it with Jeff, he’s just as upset.  I feel like I’m being bullied.

Tracy and I DID have good conversations in the beginning, while I was lying on the couch sick or we went to church while you were at work, and after living here for more than a month, she knows all she needs to know about me.

We were there for her when she was in a tough situation.  It sounds like others have been given free reign after far less.

I’ve been watching her kids and being nice and offering her free meals and supporting her and chatting with her occasionally, so I thought we were getting along now.

I thought she would be okay with you and I going somewhere to talk, especially while I’m going through tough times and need an outlet outside of this house.

I’m Melanie, not Scarlett O’Hara.  If she’s not okay with it by now, I’m afraid she never will be.  I don’t believe the reasons.

I wanted to be her friend, but there’s a wall that is impossible for me to breach.  I don’t feel it’s my fault.  I don’t call that often because I’m always afraid she’s going to yell at me again.

I can understand and respect that you don’t want trouble at home, but is it right to allow a good friend to be bullied?

I don’t feel comfortable with this situation.  It makes me feel like some blasted “other woman.”

The last thing I want to do is to end our friendship, but things have got to change because I can’t take much more of this distrust and suspicion and fear of somehow transgressing.

OR

I do love you [philia] dearly, and that’s the reason why I’ve put up with this for so long.  But I can’t let it keep going on like this.

I do believe I earned the right long ago to be cut some slack, and I don’t feel I’m being treated fairly.  I did not create this situation.

I don’t appreciate being treated like some “other woman” who can’t be trusted.

I’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to put her family back together, and should not keep getting treated like I’ll try to break it apart as soon as her back is turned.  I don’t want to go to extremes or put up an ultimatum I’m sure to lose.

But if Jeff were bullying one of my friends, I would stick up for him/her.

OR

About our conversation the other day, this is difficult for me….You are very dear to me and I don’t want to hurt or upset you.

But I’m not sure you realize the stress I’ve been under since I discovered Tracy still has me under “restriction” after all this time.  I want the stress to end.  I want to find some way where we can all get what we want, but things have to change.

I claim my right to protest that this is very unfair to me.  This “restriction” I’m still under is far more appropriate for someone she’s just met who dresses provocatively and has a history of manstealing.

On the contrary, I happen to think she knows me quite well, I dress modestly, respect boundaries, and have tried to help you guys out any way I can.  I earned the right to be cut slack because of our generosity.

We were roommates for more than a month, so she DOES know everything she needs to know about me.  I have never understood why she keeps saying she doesn’t.

I’ll hear her say things about me that I don’t even recall mentioning.  I don’t remember telling her I don’t like shopping.  I don’t remember telling her I’m a nervous driver.  Yet somehow she knows both things.

I have indeed tried to be friends with her, and I thought we were now, that the past was gone and she was learning to trust me.

When Jeff and I first met, he had a group of friends which I felt uncomfortable around, but they were his friends.  However, I claim the right to choose my own confidants.

I am also a shy, quiet, private person; she has to take me as I am.  I opened up to her about many things in the very beginning.

While I was sick and could not move off the couch, and when we went to church, we had long conversations.  You were at work at the time, so did not witness them.

We could do what women do and poke fun at you when you were in the room.  Things were going fine.

I seem to recall wanting to watch chick flicks with her–finally, someone to watch them with!

But then distressing things happened that caused me to put up boundaries.  I would like to be able to take those boundaries away again.

But there is only one way this can happen: I MUST BE MADE TO FEEL SAFE.  To elaborate, I must be accepted the way I am: an introvert.

There must be no harsh words, just gentle treatment; I must not be punished for wanting to talk to you; I must not be pushed or criticized or punished for not talking more to Tracy, because this will cause me to clam up.

This is not stubbornness.  Honestly, my brain will freeze up, I will feel very uncomfortable around her, and I will not be able to speak to her.  This always happens when people tell me I should talk more, tell me to smile, or whatever.

I have been able to make friends with some difficult people, but they inspired my loyalty through compliments and gentle treatment.  For example, my former boss [the narcissist], who had a temper, kept cutting my hours without pay, and kept “forgetting” my paydays.

Once he wanted me to talk to a credit card company for him, and impersonate his wife, who had to call them herself but wasn’t able to.  When I refused, he called them up himself and began speaking falsetto.  It was the strangest thing I ever witnessed.

The day he quit, he was like a dragon, spewing flames out all over the building because he thought the underwriter had treated him badly.

But he normally spoke gently to me; he joked around with me; I poked fun at him for his messy office; he kept telling me how smart I was and what a help I was, putting his files in order.  (“Disorganized” is far too light a word to use to describe his office.)

This inspired my loyalty, so when someone told me I should threaten to stop working for him if he didn’t pay me on time, I didn’t do it.

I want everything to be the way we dreamed it would be back in the beginning.  It just can’t go on the way it has been.  But if I’m accepted the way I am and made to feel comfortable, you will see that things can change.

I am skittish and sensitive.  This must be taken into account.  If it is, then we can finally get somewhere and everyone will be happy.

The way things are now, is very distressing, because I start getting anxious if I need to call you (for fear of Tracy getting upset with me), and I do occasionally need to talk to you in person–not just over e-mail or the phone–like friends DO.

I want the freedom to do so, because I will not stand for this forever.

From what you said, I got the strong impression that others have been “okayed” for far less.  I do feel I earned the right to be cut slack because of all the trouble I went through for you guys.  I feel she already knows all she needs to know about me after living under my roof for more than a month.

Now we’re the ones going through difficult times, and I feel I have the right to go out and talk with a friend.  I’m not going to make some ultimatum which I’m sure to lose, and I don’t want to put you in a tough spot.

But I will say this just is not right, not the way to pay back someone for helping.

The final e-mail had some things about, I didn’t feel comfortable being friends with a man whose wife hates me, and explaining that the pressure needed to be taken off me to talk.

I didn’t find a copy of it, and I think it was sent through an online forum, so I don’t remember what it said, or which version above it most resembled.  But it was probably similar to the last.

Tracy tells Jeff a different story: I have already been “approved” as Richard’s friend

Afterwards, Jeff drove Tracy to work or the airport, and had a little conversation with her about all this.

She told him that she actually was perfectly fine with me now, that Richard could do anything he wanted with his friends as long as he cleaned the house first–He just hadn’t been cleaning the house.

They were all going out of town for a bit and would return the day of an Alice Cooper concert.

Richard had to run an errand after they got back, which I won’t describe here, just that it was necessary and would take him out of town during the concert.

Tracy suggested that she and Jeff go to that concert, while Richard would take the kids to my house and watch them there, while he and I hung out together and watched The Apostle.

I don’t remember when exactly he was first allowed to bring the kids to my house and hang out with me with them around, like little “chaperones” (or maybe spies, for all I know).  But that was usually a couple of hours in the afternoon, not hours and hours in the evening.

This was a gracious sign, a direct message from Tracy, that all her restrictions on me were gone and I had nothing more to fear from her.

Turnabout is fair play, after all: For her to go to a concert alone with Jeff, she must be willing to let me go out for coffee/ice cream/cry on a shoulder with Richard.

I told Jeff that Richard should not be telling me tales about his wife, telling me she was still against me when she wasn’t at all.

Jeff and I were both thrilled at this news.

For many months I operated on the understanding that all the restrictions were gone now.  I just figured that Richard wasn’t going out for coffee with me after that simply because he had no money for such things, being too poor.

It wasn’t until June 2009 that I discovered she had withdrawn her “okay” yet again, without telling me when or why.  I still have no clue when it was withdrawn.  This was maddening!

Unpredictable Responses
This includes emotional outbursts and extreme mood swings on the part of the abuser.

If your partner likes something you do today and hates it tomorrow, or reacts to the extreme at an identical behavior by the victim, this is an unpredictable response.

This behavior damages the victim’s self esteem, self confidence and mental well-being because they are constantly on edge, wondering how their partner is going to respond to their every move. –Mary M. Alward, Inside the Mind of an Abuser

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