[Originally posted here: https://nyssashobbithole.com/main/tracy-part-93/. This started out as a Facebook note posted in December 2011, meant to explain to my friends (including mutual ones with my abusers) why it was so hard for me to just forget Richard and move on. It turned into a much larger blog post when I began adding more and more to the note. At that time, my blog did not have the details of my story publicly posted, as it does now. Written Tuesday, December 27, 2011.]
Some friends just drift in and out of your life. Some hurt when they drift away, but you deal with it and move on. Some may anger you so much that losing them doesn’t bother you. Losing a friend is not easy in any case, but it’s far more difficult when it was that one extra-special friend, the kind that’s so rare.
All my life I had wanted the elusive bosom friend that Anne Shirley spoke of. The friend who sticks with you for life, not a romance, not sex or marriage, which I already have, but a platonic friend. Frodo/Sam.
I’ve made close friends, but then somebody would move away, or classes/lunch periods would change. I wanted such a friend right here in my own town, not many miles away, separated for so many years that the friendship remains, but the closeness inevitably suffers.
I thought I finally found that friend when this one moved to my town. I had just prayed for a friend a few months before. Jeff and I both liked him and I thought he was that friend, an answer to prayer.
I considered him my best and closest friend. He’s the one who helped light my way when I searched for the True Church, the original doctrines. He had already found it before I did.
We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches. We could sympathize with each other about going through contemporary church services.
We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge and interest; we could discuss the meaning of original sin, or whether River of Fire is a good source of Orthodox doctrine;
we could discuss what it means to experience the Holy Spirit;
I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them;
I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.
I could tell him what led me away from Western doctrines, without feeling judged for turning to “heresies.” I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things, at least not from the same background, baseline knowledge, amount of interest and same denomination.
I asked him about difficult points of Orthodox doctrine or practices; I asked him how to forgive people who had hurt me years before; I lamented to him about Net Orthodoxy and its legalism.
He was my spiritual mentor. He was the one I always wrote to with details of church meetings or services which had been especially interesting. Who else can I write these things to, who has the same level of interest? I wrote to him about my church because he was the one who led me there. And these things led to sharing about our life experiences and troubles.
I told him my secrets, and he told me his. He was my counselor, as I poured out my heart to him about various issues I was dealing with, and details of how I’d been bullied growing up, and how I’d been used and abused by college exes, including private details which I did not normally tell anyone, because of their nature. I told him these things because I trusted him completely, was comfortable with telling him.
I told him funny stories of things that happened day-to-day, or dreams. I shared with him thoughts about movies I watched, books I read, life stories. We talked for hours at a time.
He lived with us for a time, so became like part of the family, like an adopted brother, so I could tell him things I didn’t tell other people. We could joke back and forth with each other and play off each other so easily that one guy once said, “I love it when you guys are here!”
He and I went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy. And he and I also had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres, 80s, New Wave–and yet knowing some of the same Christian artists as well. He had actually been a Goth, while I was interested in Goth culture, did as much “Gothyness” as I could do in a small city in the Midwest.
Because of our similar backgrounds, we both knew about the Thief in the Night series, Left Behind, and other such things. We were even the same age, so had the same nostalgia for TV shows or movies we grew up with. We both liked watching EWTN. We were both interested in paranormal investigations.
It just seems impossible to replace him. These were elements of our friendship which I found especially valuable and important, especially appealing, and these were the reasons I was so attached to his friendship.
Every time something comes up that before I would write in a quick e-mail to him, I wonder, Is there anyone I can tell this to? Sometimes I can, but many times, I can’t. So I start wishing I could write that e-mail to him, because nobody else would understand, or nobody else is privy to those things.
Where else am I to find someone like this? I try to remind myself of all the violence, the self-seeking, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else, as if he were a car or a computer that can just be exchanged for something new and better.
And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.
That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to my husband and me, ready to abandon the violence and arrogance that pushed Jeff and me away, ready to start anew.
That’s why I’m filled anew with grief every time I see him at church, he says not a word to me, and I feel I must avoid him, push him away, because of his violence and betrayal, because I can’t trust him.
I barely make it through the service without collapsing in a puddle of tears. Trying to keep in Orthodoxy, also, has become very difficult, because everything about it reminds me of him. Sometimes I’m tempted to just give all of it up.
Nobody can help me because the friendship I had was so rare, so hard to find again, and not something you ever get over. You can’t just go out and find another one just like it; it takes time and coming across just the right person at just the right time.
And I don’t even know if he misses us or regrets what happened, if he only keeps away because he’s (justifiably) afraid of my husband’s anger at him over all the things he did, or if he just doesn’t care. If he truly misses us, or just misses playing D&D with Jeff. If he remembers all the kind things we did for him.
And the most tragic thing is, I have no clue what happened. The winter of 2009-2010, everything was fine between us all. I don’t recall much bullying of me going on at that time, I was led to believe that the wife had long since stopped holding her inexplicable and irrational grudges against me, and everything was fine.
But somehow, over the spring of 2010, for no reason I ever knew, they just both started being mean to me.
But as for him–I don’t know that I’ll ever get over what he did, unless he stops justifying his behavior and comes to me, and repents. Forgive perhaps, eventually, but lose the hurt feelings? Stop feeling betrayed by my best friend? Stop wishing that he would do the right thing? Probably never.
For the time being, I feel like I’ve gone back into the shell which I had been emerging from, afraid to share too much, afraid that I’ll make new friends and love them only to find that they’re abusive as well, afraid about every move I make because maybe they’ll think I’m horrible for being so quiet, or they’ll accuse me of stalking or being annoying or some other horrible thing. I didn’t use to be so scared of these things.
And I’m also afraid every week of seeing Richard and/or his wife at church, because they do show up on occasion, leaving me nervous, shaken and afraid of what rumors they might try to spread, or of them wanting to make some sort of confrontation.
Church used to be my refuge, but because they are so close to it, I fear they will show up in my life again some time in the future in some way. I stay away from their church, and wish they would stay away from mine.
Every day, I’m haunted by the memory of how they bullied me, how a trusted and beloved friend betrayed me, the abuses that I witnessed.
First, the local newspaper reported Richard’s summons on their website’s weekly court cases.
Every week (except for the week Richard was convicted, naturally), they post mug shots and details of selected court cases in the county.
The week of 3/4/11, there was his mug shot for all to see, and what he did, along with his confession. There was no mistaking that was Richard.
But the week of his plea/sentencing hearing, they posted nothing. So I had to get details from the state’s court website. Finally, today, 11/11/11, the newspaper printed in the “Day in Court” section:
Richard —-, [address], one year probation, [fine], battery.
It’s heartening to see that his sentence was actually worse than similar convictions in that section. The person below him got battery (domestic abuse, repeater) and disorderly conduct (domestic abuse), and two years probation, but a much smaller fine.
Another person was charged with battery and also paid a smaller fine, no probation or jail.
Another person got battery (domestic abuse), one year probation, and a much smaller fine.
Apparently, the local courts are trying to keep people out of jail, getting money from fees rather than paying money for their room and board in prison.
When I look at his mug shot, I try to identify his demeanor: Angry at his daughter for turning him in? Angry at the police? Sheepish? I just can’t figure it out.
I can pick up many body language cues these days, but nuances still can elude me. Sometimes I think he looks upset with himself for getting himself into this mess, and hope that means he’s willing to change.
But lately, when I look at it, I think he looks angry. My husband agrees.
And that disturbs me, because why should he be angry if he’s truly sorry for what he did? Why did he plead no contest instead of guilty, even though the newspaper website stated that he did confess after his daughter reported him? Is he or is he not taking responsibility for his actions?
My husband thinks he’s angry because he doesn’t think the government should be telling him how to raise his kids. I wonder why it took five months for the police to charge him, when his daughter reported him the next day.
But she was a brave little girl, doing what so many abused children do not do, whether because they’re brainwashed into thinking their parents are just disciplining them and they deserve it, or because they’re too scared to report their parents and enrage them further.
But there you go. The public knows thanks to the newspaper. (No, “Richard” is not his real name.) And because the public knows, he must know that Hubby and I know, and I hope the thought shames him.
I thought he was cool. I thought he was awesome. I thought he was gentle, godly and pious. I thought he was fun to be around, and would never hurt his own children, other than one time when they were little.
But now everybody knows the truth. How was I so fooled?
We are not to blame. His wife is most likely borderline personality disordered/malignant narcissist, making all her opinions of me worthless.
(Borderline is described by NAMI as a serious mental illness, her mother has it, and she was abused herself as a child, making her higher-risk for developing it.)
[Update 5/10/14: I have since learned of a borderline spectrum. She is more likely to be high-functioning borderline, which is more under control but less likely to recognize one’s own emotional instability–and also more likely to be narcissistic as well.]
Besides her behavior which matches everything I read about borderline, I witnessed her hanging half her body out of their van as Richard drove along the street, very dangerous behavior which I’m told is common with borderlines. One of the traits of BPD is impulsive and reckless behavior, and this may also be considered suicidal or self-harming behavior, another trait.
Richard, as well, could be personality disordered/narcissistic, especially from living with someone with BPD traits.
Nobody who was not disordered in some way, would betray and threaten friends who had been extremely kind to him, or choke a child within an inch of her life.
My mind is still reeling from the juxtaposition of what I thought he was and what he’s been proven to be.
I figured Social Services (or CPS) was involved, because they work together with law enforcement on child abuse cases.
But there on that page was proof that Social Services is indeed involved here, that they set rules which the court ordered to be obeyed as conditions for Richard’s bond:
Signature bond set
Follow rules of informal agreement of DSS. Fingerprints and photo.
[Update 2/2/15: DSS is an acronym for “Department of Social Services”: See here, where “DSS” is used in the address and e-mail address for the department, which includes protection of children.
The use of an “informal agreement” for a case that has been charged in court is confusing, because the description here is,
If the case is handled informally an Informal Agreement is signed outlining rules of supervision and appropriate services for the family. This signed contract means that the case does not go to court and is in effect for six months.
The family may or may not continue to work with the Dept. of Social Services beyond the initial six months depending on whether or not the informal agreement was satisfactorily met.
But the above does not fit the actual court case AT ALL. First of all, contrary to the above description, it DID go to court.
If the court has made following the agreement a condition of bail, and a criminal charge has now been made, it no longer fits the above description. It sounds more like Court-Ordered Supervision.
Since it took more than four months for the charges to be filed, I wonder if they made an informal agreement but broke it–then got charged and forced to follow it. I also suspect the rules of probation, which were not stipulated online, were to follow this agreement.
Also, the charges were formally made on the same day I sent a letter to Social Services describing Richard’s own abuses: He told me he put the kids in the closet and smacks them on the head. I often wonder if the results of the investigation into that letter, were used in the court case, which took seven months from initial appearance to conviction.]
So they’re working with the family, and Social Services also has a letter I wrote (completely separate from this case, which I did not know about at the time), so they know what I know.
So I do hope that in time, conditions will turn around in this family, that Richard and Tracy will learn how to control their anger and stop the abuse, and some sort of friendship will be possible between us again–though only if the past can be dropped and I can be allowed to be myself.
Because I want to be back in the lives of the precious little children whom I felt led to protect with that letter to Social Services.
Because I hate having enemies, especially ones who were once friends.
It helps that I have not used their real names, and that I did not publicly shame them. That Richard did it himself–and now his name is in the paper as convicted of battery, and on the newspaper’s website and the online database as a child abuser.
He screwed up his own life and dreams.
According to my priest, he’ll never be ordained now that he has this on his record.
Any political aspirations would be cut short as soon as the media dug it up, and any potential employers can Google his name and find his online case file on the very first page. [2/2/15: I’m told that employers are allowed to refuse to hire someone with abuse on their record, if it would affect the job.]
He has no one to blame for his public shame but himself.
(Update 11/15/11): Until October, I hadn’t cried over this for many, many months. But the depression is back. The sadness keeps weighing me down like a lead blanket.
Seeing his name in the newspaper court records on Friday, has put me into a funk again.
I can’t help crying at what he’s done, how many people he’s hurt: his former friend Todd, his little girl, Hubby, me, numerous people in his past.
The proof is there–I need no more evidence–that he has done a horrible thing, been convicted of it.
It’s no dream, no fantasy I dreamed up.
He did such a bad thing that Social Services was involved before they even got my letter, giving him rules that the court ordered him to follow.
This guy was my friend. I thought he was such a pious, gentle, harmless person, who loves his little children dearly and wants to protect them, who would never harm me, either.
I went to him with spiritual and religious questions, as a fellow searcher who had already found his path. He guided me every step of the way until I found my way into Orthodoxy, helped keep me there even when the fundamentalist converts on the Net made me waver.
He even offered to be my godfather if I decided to be chrismated (made Orthodox). (I said no because he was a man my age, so it would be too weird.)
He had a similar religious background to mine, so we both had dealt with many of the same things in our old churches. I saw him as my spiritual mentor.
Now I see someone I’m afraid of, whom I once loved as my best friend.
Someone who nearly killed his daughter, someone who went along with his wife’s abuse of me and began bullying me as well to save his own skin.
Someone whose circumstances I kept crying over and trying to help with, only to be tossed away like an annoyance for some petty thing.
Things like this don’t just go away overnight; you don’t just forget them.
Breakups with boyfriends in college and the funk they put me into, seem like nothing compared to the betrayal and loss of someone I considered my best friend forever, someone who had my back, only to turn around and stab me in it.
I still keep hoping that one day–especially if Social Services succeeds in helping him turn his life around, counsels him on anger management and parenting and such–that he will come to us and repent of what he’s done to us.
Because despite everything, despite my anger and disappointment with him, despite how I feel about his politics and his opinions on NVLD, a part of me still wants my friend back.
(Update 11/26/11): Another examination of the mug shot, along with some googling for how to identify facial expressions, reveals a more disturbing interpretation: not just anger, but also contempt.
The rest of his face looks angry, and one corner of his mouth curves down–but one corner of his mouth curves slightly upwards, causing just enough wrinkling to look like the beginning of a smile. In other words, a sneer.
The other basic emotions all have basic facial symmetry, but contempt shows on only one side of the face. And while both his eyebrows curve downward in the middle, one side of his face definitely looks different from the other, and he’s looking down.
Everything I read says this is a classic contempt expression.
Contempt? Contempt for whom? You’ve just been summoned to court for nearly killing your daughter, and your face shows both anger and contempt?
“Guilt, shame, and contempt are each based on meeting expectations: Guilt: I did not meet your moral standards and expectations, Shame: I did not meet my own standards of behavior, and Contempt: you did not meet my moral standards and expectations” —(http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/contempt.htm).
This is extremely disturbing! If he were angry at himself, his face would show shame, not contempt. Contempt means he’s angry at somebody else–but he’s the one who did the terrible deed! Who is he angry at? Who did not meet his moral standards and expectations?
Researching “contempt” also brings to mind Tracy’s claims of feeling snubbed. Well, if she felt snubbed or like I felt contempt because I was reacting to her many acts of abuse of Richard and/or the children while I was right there–well, it’s her own fault!
If you verbally or physically abuse somebody right in front of me, what other expression (other than surprise or fear or being appalled) could I rightfully assume, in all justice toward the victim of bullying and abuse?
(Update 12/4/11): It’s also baffling to see things turn out like this. In the beginning, Richard seemed like a good guy, a decent sort, gentle and god-fearing. He would get excited about theological points and articles just as I would, so we could talk about these and search out what Orthodoxy says about such topics as literal interpretation, End Times, original sin, and universalism. He was happy to read an article I lent him on what an Orthodox writer says about the salvation of all.
There is a part of him that desires the truth and could still lead to his salvation. But somewhere along the way, he got lost in all this violence.
I pray that he finds his way back Home again. Not just for his salvation, but because I miss the friend who once was.
Not what he turned into, which was a jerk, but the friend he was in 2005-2007, the one I told about my family crisis in 2007 even though I only knew him via phone and Internet, because we were that close and comfortable with each other.
But did that person ever really exist, or was it just the facet he showed me?
I pray for the social workers and probation officer, so that they can help this family stop the abuse and begin to heal. Otherwise the misery could continue for years, because these beautiful, sweet, innocent children will most likely carry it on into their own relationships and families.
(Update 12/20/11): In trying to find out what happened to a guy I went to school with, who still lives in my home state and is rumored to be in jail now, I discovered a multi-state inmate locator. So what the heck, I checked it for my state.
Two things I found out: The guy I mentioned a few posts back, who annoyed my SCA shire in 1999 and ended up getting charged with photographing teenage girls a couple years ago? His stayed sentence has been revoked, and he’s in jail now. He has to register as a sex offender for many years to come. LOL Guy’s a sociopath.
Also, I found that Richard took five updated pictures in November for the state, which were posted on this site. When he showed up at my church a week or two after the verdict, and showed some signs of repentance (for one, holding himself back from the Eucharist, which you do when you’ve committed some grave sin and need to do penance), I hoped he was sorry for what he did and working on it. These new pictures were taken after that.
I had hoped to see some evidence of repentance and change in his pictures; all I found was more contempt. More hatred being sent to the camera. More “you are scum” being sent to the camera.
More of it than before, because now he has his head up and cocked to one side (all the easier to look down his nose at the picture-taker), his mouth is curled upwards more clearly on one side, and he’s looking up instead of down, so the look in his eyes is much clearer to see. (Before, he was looking down, but his eyebrows were angry.)
Heck, I could swear it was my brother’s expression when he bullied me.
The old mug shot has more anger in the eyebrows; the new pictures have more raised eyebrows, making the contempt win out over the anger.
There are five pictures, not just one moment in time like the mug shot, so you can see it’s not just a posed half-smile; all three of the front-facing pictures have the same expression. It’s a scary look.
I spent so much time with him and got so comfortable with him that I could hold eye contact and pay far more attention than I normally do to people’s body language; I felt I could read him extremely well at times; I don’t recall ever seeing a look like this on his face.
I saw joy, sadness, religious devotion, humor, annoyance at his children, happiness to see good friends, playfulness, or anger with his wife, even anger at me once, but I never saw him look like this.
And I see it very clearly in these new pictures. I see that side of him that I never could quite believe in before, that violent side.
Hubby says he looks like the cat who swallowed the canary, like he got away with something.
I see that my suspicions of narcissism–as much as I hoped I was wrong about that–are confirmed.
I had hoped for better than that. I had thought he was better than that. What the heck has happened to him? Yuck.
Somehow I have to stop wishing he’d call me up and say he’s sorry, say he wants to make things right.
Lately, I’ve been missing him and wishing that would happen. Well, I don’t know if I can ever stop wishing for that; I’ve had bullies and exes do that, so why couldn’t it happen here, too? Even my abusive ex *Phil* apologized to me. I know Richard has made peace with people in his past before.
But to long for it, wish for things to be the way they were in October/November 2007–somehow I have to let go of that.
It does help to keep looking at these court records and pictures, because the contempt I see in them is disgusting. I do it again and again to try to drive the longing for reconciliation out of my heart.
What he did was disgusting. But still that part of me keeps hoping for change…..
But I am so frickin’ GLAD I sent that letter to Social Services in March.
I am so glad I told them he talked about putting the kids in the closet.
I’m glad I told them he might strike Tracy one of these days if she hits his face.
I’m glad I told them about the crap Tracy was pulling.
And I hope that the probation officer sees (or probably took) those pictures, sees the contempt in his face, and either makes him do the full sentence, or asks to have the stayed sentence revoked so he can go to jail for ten days. [Update 2/2/15: Richard served the full probation sentence.]
(Update 3/12/12:) After reading what the District Attorney said about my former boss, that he gave him a deferred prosecution agreement so he could have more control over my former boss than “if he had just pled to the felonies,” such as anger management, medication, etc.–I wonder if it was the same thing here.
Did the plea agreement result in probation so the District Attorney could have more control over Richard, get him into counseling and the like, make sure he followed the agreement with Social Services? I do hope so.
(My boss went ballistic when his wife wanted to leave him. It seems he’d been physically abusing her. He drove the red pickup truck I remembered, into the kitchen and did lots of damage to the side of the house; he resisted arrest; he caused damage when the police hauled him in.)
One of the most fascinating aspects of Zimmerman’s latest incident was that he himself called the police to counter his girlfriend’s call, and offered another dispatcher a separate set of facts. He said that the girlfriend had “gone crazy” and had broken a table in the apartment.
“I just want everyone to know the truth,” he tells the dispatcher. “She got mad that I told her I would be willing to leave.”
There’s no telling what exactly happened before their respective calls to police. But, if Zimmerman’s girlfriend is telling the truth, then his effort to turn the tables and make his girlfriend sound guilty is again a classic case of something domestic violence prevention advocates call “minimization, denial and blaming,” which is when abusers make the victim feel as though they are responsible for the abuse, or crazy for thinking any abuse occurred at all. –Annie-Rose Strasser, What George Zimmerman’s story can teach us about domestic abusers
Many months have passed since my “Fighting the Darkness” post. I believe I wrote it right after discovering that a friend of mine, who was also friends with Richard, had dropped me on Facebook, so I became paranoid and depressed, wondering why he dropped me, and what Richard had told him.
Things have come to light which I had no way of knowing when I wrote it.
In short, the ex-friend I spoke of, whom I’ll call “Richard,” whom I thought of as my best and dearest friend from 2006 to 2010, of whom I thought the world, has been charged with choking his own 9-year-old step-daughter until she passed out on September 21, 2010.
She told the police on September 22, 2010.
He admitted to the police that he did it because she was “not listening and cleaning up,” that he had “asphyxiated” her, and that he apologized to her when she woke up on a couch.
They summoned him to court and charged him on March 1, 2011.
The choking incident happened many months before my post, but for some reason he wasn’t officially charged until a few weeks after my post.
This devastated me as I began to realize the true character of this person I once put on a pedestal as an awesome man of God, the one who showed me the way to Orthodoxy, the one who answered my questions about Orthodoxy and helped me over the hurdles, the one I went to with questions and confessions about morality and spiritual struggles.
He was charged with intentional child abuse causing injury with high probability of great harm, and second degree recklessly endangering safety, both serious felonies that could have led to significant jail time.
But on October 3, 2011, he plea bargained it down to the child abuse charge being dismissed, but read into the record, and the reckless endangerment charge being amended to a class A misdemeanor of battery, with a year’s probation. Though if he screws up on probation, he could get 10 days in jail.
This showed me two things which I could no longer deny, even though on occasion I’d remember the old times and think maybe he wasn’t so bad, just a dupe of Stockholm Syndrome:
1) Richard’s own violent tendencies were not tamped down as I thought, but still there and capable of coming out, even to his own little 9-year-old girl.
2) He lied to me about the nature of the abuse in his household. I soon learned from mutual friend Todd that Richard had also beaten this same girl mercilessly when she was little.
Richard gave me the impression that his wife “Tracy” was the chief aggressor, that his own abusive episodes with the children happened a long time before and he had stopped them, that now he had to protect his children from his wife’s bullying moods.
But these charges showed that he himself was still an aggressor, that he was not reformed after all, that not only did the children need protection from his wife, but they also needed it from him.
He’s very tall and huge, so a slip of a girl would probably see it as being attacked by an ogre or a mountain she can’t escape from. Imagine the terror she must have felt!
He also told me once that Tracy didn’t like to get him angry because it scared her. It had happened before. He said he didn’t mean to scare her, but did anyway. That’s the trouble when someone as big as he is, doesn’t realize how physically intimidating he is.
I also began to realize that I was truly in the clutches of a narcissist. I had suspected it for a while, but thought he couldn’t really be that bad. But there were so many elements of narcissism that sounded very familiar….. (See here for details.)
Even though Richard was the one who brought me to Orthodoxy as an answer to my faith questions, and helped me all the way through, so that I looked to him as my mentor–Richard wasn’t the only reason I chose Orthodoxy.
That was also because of the influence of various Orthodox forums, such as The Ancient Way and OrthodoxChristianity.net (I was Nyssa). It was from reading Orthodox books and websites and the River of Fire, and speaking to the priest at the local Greek Orthodox Church, then attending there for more than two years before converting.
My former mentor Richard told me that I knew far more about Orthodoxy than he did when he joined.
While my faith has indeed taken a beating for the reasons I stated previously in Fighting the Darkness, I didn’t choose Orthodoxy to please him, but because I came to believe it.
Pulling it back again has been hard, but it’s slowly and steadily returning.
Ironically, it was his child abuse charges which helped me believe in God again.
Before, I was baffled why, if there truly was a God, He would go to so much trouble to get this person into my life, have him help me find my way to Orthodoxy, then yank him back out again in such horrible circumstances, leaving me a shell of myself, beaten down and battered emotionally.
In my limited sight, it made no sense at all, so I could only pray that this former mentor would repent of his many wrongs to my husband and me, get his wife to see the light as well, and the friendship would be restored.
I wondered how he could go so long without making any move whatsoever to restore a friendship which had provided him with so much help and love and moral support while his family was going through hard times, a friendship which he said was so dear to him.
But when I discovered these charges, that he could likely go to jail for many years for choking his own daughter, I realized that God had been there all along:
First, He put this person into my life for a time to help me find my way spiritually, but eventually I would have to “kill the Buddha” when I realized how screwed-up my mentor actually was, when I thought he was pious and righteous.
I was there to help him as well with various things, and influence him, try to pull him back from the brink of abuse and domestic violence. God wants him and his wife saved just as much as He wants me saved.
But ultimately the choice was his and his wife’s to choose abuse or salvation. They chose abuse.
And God pulled me out just in time, as the choking incident occurred just a little more than two and a half months after the blowup of the friendship proved to my husband and me just how selfish, self-centered and violent these two people are even to friends.
Now, I have killed the Buddha and gone on without him, but with my own church congregation still there. (No, Richard’s family normally does not go there, but to a different church, though they have visited on occasion even after the breakup.)
One day during Liturgy, while gazing at the icon of the Theotokos painted on the ceiling, I wondered again about reconciliation. I got the insight that No, not now, because they have their own problems which need to be resolved before I can even think about reconciling with them.
I can only hope that one day, Richard will repent and make amends. He needs to make them not just to me, but to my husband, and to his own children.
As for Tracy, she also needs to make amends, to Richard, to her children and to me, but it seems unlikely that she ever will, thanks to what seems to be a personality disorder (borderline, which her mother has, and/or narcissism).
I’ve now basically written her off as a lost cause, and taken everything she ever said about me and relegated it to the refuse pile as being cruel and ridiculous, not based in any sort of reality. Whenever my mind starts going there again, wondering if any of her words were true, I yank it back out again.
I think back over my college days and realize that, again and again, I was the dupe of narcissists. In those days, it was the search for romance that led me into their clutches; now, it was the search for friendship.
I read somewhere that narcissists are like a drug: You crave them, get high, feel drained afterwards, then when the drug is taken away from you, you have to go through detox. And that detox can be very long and painful.
I also realize that this is the second time I’ve been through this.
The first time was during my first Orthodox Lent, February 2007. My first spiritual mentor, from childhood and through college, was my dad. Then in 2007, my mom called me and began telling me some shocking things.
I won’t go into it, but a crisis nearly split the family, and things had been hidden from me (though not from my brothers) for my entire life.
I remember thinking then that if I didn’t have Orthodoxy (and, ironically, Richard, who was my spiritual mentor starting in 2006 and helped me through this crisis along with my priest), that my faith would have shattered. I was Nazarene for most of my life because of my dad.
On my favorite Orthodox forum is a common belief that when you convert to Orthodoxy, the Devil begins attacking you, trying to pull you out of it. Posters there talk about their own experiences with such things, such as car accidents and spiritual tests.
Maybe I am exactly where I belong, then, because if there is no God, or if there’s nothing of value in Orthodoxy, then why would the Devil so aggressively attack my faith?
It’s never gone through anything like this battering before. Before, any emotional or other crises only made my faith stronger. But now the core of that very faith is being attacked.
But now there is one thing I know: That I must stop mourning the loss of Richard’s friendship. That it wasn’t worth my grief. For a long time it seemed to be worth the work it took to keep it going, but that was an illusion.
I thought Richard was pious and righteous, but that, too, was an illusion. The time I grieved over the loss of his friendship, I was in denial over his own violence. I kept seeing the good in him, where others would have written him off long before.
But then I heard about the charges against him, and verified through his mug shot and address posted on the local newspaper’s website that it was, indeed, him. Through the newspaper website I also discovered what he had done.
Then I began to stop grieving over him, stop wishing he would repent and return to my husband and me.
I have been vindicated; my concerns over abuse have been confirmed. It has been proven to me and to the world that we were right to end the friendship, that the opinions of Richard and Tracy about me are not worth taking to heart, that my accusers were themselves the criminals.
It has been proven that Tracy has no business lecturing me about my behavior, because her own has been so egregiously bad and evil. I must consider the source every time my mind starts to ponder her words yet again, and reject them utterly as ridiculous.
Especially since the various things that she grabbed ahold of as being such foul behavior, are actually perfectly normal and acceptable behavior among my groups of friends.
I hoped that Richard would have a lot of time to think in jail, but now he won’t be going to jail. However, even if Richard does some day come to us, wanting to restore a friendship, he will have to not only be extremely contrite, but he will also have to prove that he has learned from his mistakes and has turned away from his violent, abusive ways.
He manipulated me into believing he already did this, but then proved that he had not, by doing something so horrible that his own daughter turned him in to the police to protect herself.
She was a very brave girl, and her actions have almost certainly drawn the attention of CPS (who knows about all these other things) as well as the police, so hopefully they will lead to positive changes.
Two years after I wrote this post, I still struggle with faith, but a few things came to mind today when I was supposed to be listening to Father’s sermon:
I don’t want to go into detail, but my husband and I have had some money disagreements in the past. I’m the “accountant” of the household, and he gave me authority to make financial decisions for reasons I also don’t want to go into. But there were disagreements about those decisions. Those disagreements were brought to a resolution.
Yesterday, he made some comments that made me think he was scolding me all over again, bringing up again what I thought had been settled. I let it pass without much comment, but poured out my frustrations to God last night, not knowing what to make of this.
Then today, out of the blue, my husband realized I took him seriously, and explained he was only teasing. I explained that the past disagreements caused me to take him seriously.
In short, it was a misunderstanding on my part, and now it was all resolved. This was a huge relief.
During the sermon, I realized that God had directly and swiftly answered my prayer. Then more things came to mind, times when God seemed to have abandoned me, but was right there all along:
1) My first breakup of a love relationship (not just a short puppy-love) was from Peter. He had used his own narcissistic webs to make me think we were meant for each other, so much so that we formed a mental Link with each other.
When he broke things off, he turned so cruel and changed so much from the person I fell in love with, that I actually wondered if demons had taken control of him. (I was very much influenced by Pat Robertson and Charismatic thinking about the spirit world, which is dramatized in This Present Darkness.)
I fell into a deep, dark depression that lasted for months. But as time proved, he and I would have been a terrible match: I wanted a clean-cut husband; he abandoned his clean-cut ways, and turned to drinking, smoking and weed. My beliefs demanded that I marry a fellow Christian; he also abandoned Christianity, and turned to Paganism.
2) My second major breakup was Phil, with whom I had exchanged marriage vows. Because we had gone so far, and because I had never been the outgoing kind of person who can easily find dates, I fell into another funk, believing that Phil and I were supposed to be together, that divorce would violate Christ’s command that the married stay married.
Our beliefs demanded that we not have sex before marriage, so we exchanged vows. If we had not done this, if we had either stayed virgins (technically, though not really) or eloped to make our vows legal, his dark side may never have manifested until we got legally married, maybe even had a child together.
Often, abusers don’t show their true colors until after marriage. So I do not regret the path I chose with Phil, because it led to his true colors showing before I became legally bound to him. His wife was not so fortunate: He knocked her up, so they “had” to get married. Now they have been divorced for several years.
Now, I believe that Richard and Tracy were put into my life so I could play an important role: the one to confront them with their abuses, and to report them to Social Services.
It was important, but also extremely difficult. It took a year of reflection and research before I even reported them, only to find that their daughter had already reported Richard for choking her.
But my report means that Social Services has another perspective on their abuses, a separate voice confirming whatever they came up with as they investigated the choking incident. I don’t know if I told them anything they didn’t already know, but I am another witness.
However, my role has put me into a challenging and emotionally taxing position. I have been threatened by Richard and Tracy, and stalked for more than a year. I have had to face the fact that the one I once revered as a beloved and righteous spiritual mentor, has turned against me for speaking out and telling the truth.
I don’t know why it had to be me. (Why me? Why not somebody else?) Maybe they behaved themselves around their other friends. Maybe I was the only one, outside of Richard’s family, to whom he told Tracy’s abuses.
Todd stayed with them but didn’t see Tracy’s abuses, so maybe they behaved themselves around him, or maybe the children were too young to start receiving her abuses. (I noted that the babies would be babied, but children 3+ would start being abused verbally and physically.)
I don’t think Richard told Todd the things he told me about Tracy, even though they were close at the time. I don’t know why he did not tell Todd these things.
Maybe their other friends had similar parenting views and didn’t see a whack on the head as abuse. Maybe their friends who broke off relations with them (we were not the first), either did not witness the abuse, or chose not to report it.
All I know is that I was the one who had to do it. Well, I and the child who was choked. That is why this person was put in my life when I prayed for a friend.
If it were easy to do the right thing, anyone could have done it. I guess God decided I was the one capable of doing it.
That this is why they lied, screamed, and abused me in various ways over a misunderstanding, then refused to apologize or admit wrongdoing or my innocence.
That it’s because they knew I was capable of reporting them, and wanted me out, where I could no longer witness their abuses.
There is no way to conclusively prove that God exists. But if He does, then I see his work here, his hand, leading and guiding me even in the darkness. And the light is shining through.
This blog post freaked me out just now, because it sounded so much like what Richard put me through, that I wondered if it was about him–a man who befriends fragile women, makes them trust him, then begins to devalue and discard them.
I came across it while reading through a blog by a suicidal BPD woman, who does want treatment for her BPD but is finding it hard to come by:
If someone with BPD admits to having this disorder and tries to get it treated, I am more inclined to compassion. It’s the person who destroys others but tells them it’s their fault, like I witnessed in Tracy, that I can’t abide.
Every week, I back up my files onto an external drive called a My Book. I just finished backing up my word processor files. While scrolling through them, I found a forgotten little file which I last modified on September 27, 2010. I opened it up to find out what it was.
It was just written to vent privately about this, and most of it is just a rant I want to keep private. But I also found this poem I want to share, because for a first draft of a rant-poem, it was better than I expected. I suppose fellow abuse/narcissist victims can find something in it for themselves. Also, it demonstrates the fear I was in during that time period, and the intense feeling of betrayal:
the violent intimidate the gentle my idol has feet of clay the hitting could turn on us your threats have turned us away betrayal by one who was dearly loved you know what really happened my gosh what is she doing to the children if we report it we will be beaten where is the love? where is the Christian charity? where is the fight against evil passions? why must I take all the blame? where is the friendship that was lost? it’s all been blown away you hurt the ones you love and the ones you hate and they need to grow up and take it
The announcement came out in the media this week. I voted in favor of the merger because it seemed to be in the best interest of both churches, and because people (at least in my church) were nearly unanimous.
But it will be interesting:
Tracy–from what Richard and a once-mutual friend have told me, and what I myself have observed–apparently has inherited an abusive form of Borderline Personality Disorder and/or other disorders from her mother. Her behavior interlaps with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well. She has caused trouble with other friends and in other churches, from what I’ve seen and what Richard has told me.
And Richard himself shows many signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He claims to have hypnotized me without my knowledge, and he manipulated me.
I admit a certain trepidation at the thought of the poison that could now enter my church. I hope they will not destroy it. Though I hope the priest would be able to stop any such thing.
Of course, I have no clue if my abusers are still involved in the other church. It hasn’t held services for three years, so they very well could’ve moved on to someplace they like better. These days, all I know about my abusers is that they still live somewhere in town, even though one of their regular, confirmed IPs shows up in my blog stat trackers as Missouri. Hubby believes he saw them walking a dog near our house three weeks ago.
Several years ago, one friend told me that church could be a good influence on my abusers, so not to be too upset about seeing them there. At this point, I can’t tell them to stay away if it’s also their church. But sharing the Eucharist and other church activities could be terribly problematic.
I also have many friends in my church. Then there’s my BFF at that church, a fellow convert-NOT-by-marriage, introvert, writer and German-speaker. 🙂 I haven’t felt lonely for a long time. Maybe they will help me feel safer.
I will have to play things by ear.
Hubby says they may not even come, but if they do and try to badmouth me, the people there know me way too well to listen to them. It would only go back on them.
Or who knows, maybe they’ll take advantage of tomorrow’s Forgiveness Sunday (Orthodox thing right before Lent) to make peace.
But in any case, if my abusers start coming to my church, things will get interesting. Please pray for me, or good wishes, or whatever you do.