bullying stories

Cribbage, Richard’s ongoing legacy, and long live the Forum

We just got back from a cribbage tournament run by one of our friends here in town.  Fun, fun, even though I don’t know how to play, and just spectate.  But it’s social interaction, gets me out of the house.  Because yes, even introverts need to do that, though not as often as for extroverts.  😉

The trouble is, Hubby keeps fearing that our friend is a narcissist, and believes he sees the same patterns as with Richard and me, only now Hubby is the target.  But I knew this guy years ago, before we reconnected through Facebook several years ago; I don’t think he’s a narc.  I think that Hubby is just nervous of it all happening again.

But it shows how abusive friendships can scar you.  Even though Hubby wasn’t the target of the abuse, he still is jumpy, fearing that it’s happening all over again with somebody new.

Meanwhile, I keep looking for signs that it is NOT like that at all, because this is one of the people I opened up to about the Richard/Tracy drama, giving him their names, and I want to be able to trust this is a good, kind person.

I want to relax and enjoy the friendship, not keep this wall around myself that I built up back when everything blew up in July 2010.

Another bit of news: In my Richard/Tracy saga, you will find occasional references to the online “Forum” where we met, run by Todd.

This is not the real name of the forum, of course.  This forum has somehow been connected to some of the most significant events of this past decade for me:

I met Richard and Tracy there, I met Todd there, I posted my religious questions there, Richard led me to Orthodoxy, Richard moved his family to my town, then Tracy abused me and Richard betrayed me, leading to a spiritual emptiness and depression.

So yeah, that’s some big stuff there–and it all goes back to the Forum, because that’s where I met Richard.

Anyway, the Forum has been up since 2002, has gone through several incarnations (one of which Richard screwed up as vengeance to Todd), and yet it’s still around.

There aren’t that many people left there, but we’re this core group that just doesn’t want to let go of each other or the Forum.  Todd was going to shut it down, but discovered that it means too much to us, so it’s staying up.

Awwwwww, how sweet….

 

Fighting the Darkness: A little thing that made me almost tear up….

Richard once called me his “dear, sweet Nyssa,” so I called him “my dear, sweet [his old Forum handle].”  Back then we were still dear, close friends, or at least, he made me think so.  (Whether any of it was ever real, or just him playing me for narcissistic supply, I now seriously doubt.)  But it was a special name, held dear in my heart.

I have another Forum friend, made in 2011 when I needed support after the abusive friendship ended and I found out about Richard’s criminal case.  He came on the Forum during the couple of years I was away from it (2009?-2011).  Just now, in a comments thread on one of his many Facebook posts, he called me his “dear, sweet Nyssa.”

It caught me off-guard.  Now somebody else has called me this.

It was bittersweet: opening old wounds in one way, but healing in another…..

[Update: Unfortunately, this friend died during the first wave of COVID, in April 2020 while he was living in China and unable to get back home.]

My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 2

Here is the inspiration for a couple of scenes in my novel Tojet.

Sunday, September 4.  Phil wanted to do nothing but play with Dave’s new sci-fi football game on the Nintendo.  It was a weird, funny and interesting game, but I didn’t want to sit around all day watching Phil play it.

I had nothing else to do, not with everything still packed and in the van.  My projects Undine and Jerisland and probably all my books were still in the van.

As for the game, it had all these different types of alien creatures, from which you chose for your team.  I believe the field was in the air, and the sides were either fire pits or nothing but air.  When you called up a picture of a player, some alien announcer spoke in gibberish, saying, “Bleh-BLAHH!  Bleh-bleh-BLAHH!”

Then Dave and his Pearl asked if we wanted to go to the S– County Fair.

Soon after we got to the fair, Phil and I walked by a booth with posters you could win.  Phil kept saying he wanted me to win him one of the babe-posters.  Fed up by this and his ogling of girls all summer, I pointed to a beefcake poster and said, “I want you to win me that.”

He, of course, said no, and shooed me away, good-naturedly.  Finally!  I found a way to get back at him instead of just getting mad at him.

I thought the fair would be fun, and bought enough tickets for twenty rides.  The first ride was Phil’s favorite, some sort of box that spins around as the big wheel goes around.

Sometime during the ride, not only did the stuff in my pockets fly out into the box, but the side of the box hit my forehead.  Or my forehead hit the side of the box.  I had no way of knowing what happened or how it happened.  I’m almost certain I had my hands on the bar at the time.

The box moved so fast that the G-force and the speed kept me from crying out.  I hated the ride and couldn’t wait for it to stop.  Endlessly, the box kept spinning and moving around.  Finally, it ended.  I picked up the things that fell out of my pockets, and stepped out.

Phil saw the bruise on my forehead, and said a bump was rising.

Though I felt okay at first, a few minutes later my head started aching worse and worse.  I turned lightheaded and queasy.  Phil got me a cup of water from a vendor, and sat me down at a picnic table under the vendor’s big awning.  At first, he seemed attentive and sweet.

I said I needed to rest for a while.

“Should we go home?” Phil said.

“I want to wait a while before deciding that, to see if I feel better,” I said.

Dave and Pearl soon knew about my injury.

I kept feeling worse and worse–more painful headache, more powerful nausea.  Finally, I said I wanted to go home.  I had to get away from the fairgrounds and into some quiet, comfortable place where I could be tended to.

On the way out, we passed a parked ambulance.  I asked to go there, but we didn’t.  Phil even smiled and said,

“Are you sure you need to go to an ambulance?”

I wanted to find a first-aid station, but all I saw was the ambulance.  Phil and the others thought there was no need for either.

If I’d known just how serious a concussion can be, I probably would’ve insisted they take me more seriously and get help or take me to a doctor.  Of course, a person with a concussion is in no condition to be forceful.  Just check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.

This page recommends emergency medical attention if the bump results in a worsening headache and other symptoms I experienced.

According to a doctor I consulted by e-mail in 1999, I had the symptoms of a Grade II concussion!  Cugan also said it sounded like a secondary concussion.

My headache got worse and lasted at least until the next day, possibly longer; I should have been closely watched and, because of my severe headache, taken to a doctor immediately.  But none of the people with me took me seriously, not even Phil, my own husband!  They actually called me a party pooper:

We left the park and went to Dairy Queen for dinner.

During dinner, Phil told them about Undine, that I had been translating it, and how big it was and how difficult.  Dave said, “You’re nuts!”  Contrast that to a person from a German-speaking country who said to me in 1998, “I tip my hat to you.”  Apparently Dave didn’t understand the value of taking on a difficult project just to challenge yourself.

They began to talk about going dancing that night, and asked if we wanted to go.  I said I’d better stay home: I thought I had a concussion.  Phil said he would go.

What?  Here I was, injured with a Grade II concussion, needing someone to watch over me and take me to a doctor, and he wanted to go dancing?  Not only did he refuse to take me to a doctor, but he showed no sign of concern for my condition!

Through my pain, I was upset.  I turned very quiet.  Phil tried to say something to me once, but got no response.

Back at his house, I confronted him about this, but he insisted he wanted to go out dancing.

“My parents will be here, and you can lie on my couch, watch cable on my TV, and relax.”

I don’t think anyone told his parents about my concussion, because they never came into the room to check up on me.  With my nausea and overpowering headache, I was in no condition to go walking around telling people I was hurt; Phil should have told them himself.

Phil went on, “You can find things to do, as you always do.”

Yeah, like I could do anything but sleep or watch TV with my head pounding.  But that wasn’t the point.

I would’ve gone dancing, if I were feeling better.  It sounded like fun.  I hadn’t gone to a dance in a long time.  We later planned to go to the Friday dance at Roanoke so I could finally see Phil’s dancing.

It was such a major and odd part of Phil’s personality that Pearl, on the way to the fair, said she was surprised I hadn’t seen him dance yet.  She said you have to see him dance to really know him.  I hadn’t had the chance because the junior year dances had no good music.

Phil whined, “Other people always say, ‘Oh, you go ahead and have your fun.  Don’t mind me.'”

Oh, yeah, I wanted him home with me because I was a selfish twit.

I was miserable.  Phil was my husband: He wasn’t supposed to go out and enjoy himself while I lay on his couch, suffering from an untreated injury.  He was supposed to take me to a doctor!

His parents had just gotten two new puppies, little black and white ones, and kept them in a cage when they were inside.  I sat beside them.  Their names were something-Dave and something-Phil.  They loved the attention and wanted my petting.  I tried to comfort myself with them, and tried to hide my tears.

After Phil left, I watched some true-life TV movie about sharks attacking servicemen whose plane went down in the ocean.  In one scene, a man seemed to be asleep while floating in the water in a life preserver; it turned out his lower half had been bitten off.  The whole movie horrified me, especially since it really happened.  Watching this all alone sure didn’t help.  I tried to rest, but couldn’t with my awful headache.

This movie was probably Mission of the Shark, about the USS Indianapolis in WWII.

Phil later told me that Dave and Pearl thought I was a party pooper for wanting to leave the fair early!  They didn’t know how I could have gotten hurt.  They blamed me for getting hurt!

But it was a traveling fair, getting taken down and put up all the time, and people do get hurt on amusement park rides, especially in traveling fairs.  This fact was given on an episode of the Sally Jessy Raphael show in 1998.

Also, the September 13, 1999 edition of US News and World Report stated on page 59, “[G]etting banged on fingers or head by a safety bar are common.”  The article Fatal Attractions described the risk of injury at amusement parks, especially at traveling carnivals, which “are constantly dismantled and reassembled” (p. 58).

A few weeks after the incident, my friend Pearl said their remarks were uncalled for.  She and my other friends would have respected that I was injured.

I did ask that Phil not drink while dancing, at least.  If he came back with alcohol on his breath, that would finish me.  I was already upset enough.  I didn’t want him getting drunk while I ached both inside and out.  Besides, as I’d joked before with him and Dave, he was still underage.

He recently told me that he drank or smoked whatever people passed around at parties (never mind his health or if it was illegal).  I would never do that.  He called me a pooper.  I lost more respect for him.

After Phil came back from dancing, I told him I needed to talk.  But instead of staying with me in his room, he left again and disappeared for a long time.  I finally went looking for him, and found him talking alone with Pearl in the computer room.  I asked if he’d come back soon so I could finish talking with him.  Then I turned and left.

He soon came back, a smile on his face, and said, “Jealous?  She’s a nice person, but Dave’s fiancée.”

I knew he liked her back before he dated me, but I thought this was over now.  Still, seeing him there with her made me uneasy.  Besides, how is it “jealousy” to want to finish a discussion about how he’d been treating me?

That night or maybe the next day, Phil said, “I would love to be allowed to have three wives instead of just one.  You’d be one, Dave’s Pearl would be another, and that high schooler who likes me and keeps calling me at the wrong time–she’d be the third.”

Did he think I’d find this funny?  It only made me feel worse.  So he did still want Dave’s Pearl!  And I wasn’t enough for him!

Just like all summer long, he’d tell me he lusted after this or that girl, and when I got upset, say that other people’s girlfriends just laugh when their men do this.  He’d see a young woman and say he wouldn’t mind taking her in the back of his minivan.  A big-breasted and blonde high-school girl would hand him Dairy Queen sundaes through the drive-up window, and he’d tell me how much he loved the sight.  I’d say my breasts were big enough, and he’d say he saw bigger on previous girlfriends.

How dare I object?  As some drunken guys later told him, I was so “possessive”!

Phil also told me, “Dave and Pearl think you’re a party pooper for not wanting to go dancing tonight.  They think you’re a pooper because you never want to go dancing with me.  They remembered a time last semester when they asked us to go dancing, and you didn’t want to go!”

HUH?  What time was that?  I didn’t even remember it.  If it even happened, I probably just wanted to spend a quiet evening alone with Phil.  Or maybe I wasn’t feeling well or had a lot of homework.

Phil went on, “I used to go dancing every weekend, but I gave that up for you.”

This was news to me!   He never mentioned going dancing every weekend.  He never asked me more than once or twice–if at all–to go dancing on the weekend.  We went to Roanoke dances whenever possible, but they never had good music.

But then, abusers will make up things you’ve done or said that you never actually did or said, to make you the bad guy.  The gaslighting from this guy was unbelievable!  Did he really think I would fall for it when I knew it was a lie?

When I wrote the first draft of this account of the S– County Fair in 1995 or 1996, I showed it to my future husband Cugan and asked if I was being unreasonable.  He said,

“No.  Yes, people do often say, ‘Go ahead and have your fun,’ but they’re rarely taken at their word.  Usually they don’t really mean it.  Tell me something: What did you really see in this guy?  He didn’t seem to take this marriage seriously.”

Not only that, but I had a Grade II concussion and they were calling me a party pooper because I needed to go to a doctor, not dancing!

All during our relationship, Dave, obviously influenced by what Peter had told him about me, said nasty things about me to Phil.  When Phil said he wanted to date me, Dave said, “Don’t date her.  We don’t get along.”

Don’t get along?  But I didn’t even know the guy!  We’d never met before Pearl’s party, and got along quite well, flirting all evening!

Dave also kept telling tales about me to his parents.  This started way back in the spring.  His Pearl did it sometimes, too.

They accused me of all sorts of things: calling Indiana on the O’Hara dime (I always used a phone card), telling Phil not to take a one-day job (Phil decided not to and I supported his decision because of a major history test the next day), and probably other things I’ve forgotten now.

Dave’s parents seemed to listen to them far too much, because I began to get the feeling that they didn’t like me as much anymore.  For example, one day during the spring, as Pearl and I both sat in the living room, Maura called Pearl her favorite future daughter-in-law.  Was Maura trying to make me feel like dirt?

Phil thought Pearl was nice, but I considered her just as mean as Dave.  Not only did she go along with Dave’s smear campaign, but she did something else nasty as well:

I don’t remember when this was, May or September, but probably May.  It was a Saturday, no classes, nobody with work.  It was the middle of the afternoon, and long after I heard Dave take his shower.  I found a deserted bathroom, so I took a shower.  Because it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone else had already showered (including Dave), and because there were two bathrooms, I saw no reason to hurry.

I did the various things I always needed to do after a shower, such as shaving, moisturizing, putting cover-up on my face, combing my hair.  I didn’t dilly-dally around in the bathroom: I only took as long as I needed to do what I needed to do, and then I got out.  I was just about done.

All of a sudden, Pearl banged on the door and yelled meanly, “Hurry up and get out of there!  Dave needs to take a shower!”  No, she did not politely knock and ask if I could please hurry up.  She screamed as if I were deliberately holding up Dave.

How could I possibly have known that he needed to take another shower for soccer practice or whatever it was, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, when nobody else was around when I started my shower?

I’m so glad to be out of that family: too many nasty people with absolutely no respect or consideration for others.  And I was being bullied by everybody together, a mob bullying!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

The healing of getting it all out

Going into my college memoirs and publicly exposing the abuse that my exes put me through (without revealing their names because this is not about revenge)–This does seem to be helping a lot.  There’s just something about getting it all out into the open.

Going through the Phil files to post them has been draining and exhausting, but it’s good to get it out there.

As I do so, I see new things I did not know before, based on my research into abuse, and I can validate that former, scared self I was 20 years ago.  And I know that countless readers could identify with my story.  (See here.)

The same thing is happening with posting the Richard/Tracy story here in the blog section of my website.  I did that already, a year and a half ago, but it got few hits.  My blog wasn’t so big back then.

It’s on my website, but except for a few pages, my website doesn’t get many hits in general.  [Note 1/3/15: When I posted this, I had not yet combined my website with my blog, as it is now.]

But now that I’m rewriting the story and posting it here in little chunks, the writing is improving, and people are starting to read parts of it because they can see the chunks are relevant to their own experiences.  [Note 8/21/15: I am moving these “chunks” to the 2010 and 2011 archives.]

I’m also adding things and making connections which I didn’t get before, because I had not yet done the research into abuse which I have done since I finished it in 2012.

Exposing the story like this is scary–the usual, “What will people think of me?”  It wasn’t quite as scary when few people were reading it.

But writing our stories of abuse is not about being judged by others, or about vengeance: It’s about the healing journey.  The first part is to get out the story, and not worry about what others think of us.

We MUST tell our stories in some way.  Keeping it secret will kill our spirits, even if not our bodies.  We must expose what our abusers did, not keep the secret for them, as if we owe them a favor.

This extensive rewriting and posting of both the Richard/Tracy and Phil stories has been very draining and exhausting.  But I can feel the healing come into my spirit.

I see new connections and insights which I did not have before, from three years’ distance and research.  I see red flags and lies which I did not see before.

I see that I can forgive myself, both for fleas caught from my abusers, and for falling for the lies of the narcissists.

I see how I was being used and manipulated from early on.  I see that my theories of what happened with Richard and Tracy, make a lot of sense, answer all the questions.

The more I rewrite and revisit these experiences, the more I see how Richard and Tracy both manipulated, used and deceived me, how their lies were woven.  The more I see that my husband and I do not need these people back in our lives, no matter how much grief I held over losing my supposed “BFF.”

I see that it’s not my fault I was abused by Richard and Tracy.  I see that it was not my fault I was abused by Phil, or that he lied to and manipulated his flying monkey Dirk, and then sent him to break my spirit and get me under Phil’s control at last.

And hopefully I can recognize such people if they come into my life again.  And help others recognize such people as well, after they read my stories and get validation for their own experiences.

I have also read of people telling their abusers what they have done to them, and how healing that is, even though normally the abusers call them crazy and refuse to apologize.

We can’t expect apologies or depend on them for our healing, though we do deserve apologies and they would be a healing bonus.  We can’t let the abusers keep us under their control, as if they get to decide whether or not we can heal.

Well, my abusers have been reading my blog and website for the past year and a half.  Let them read what I’m posting now.  It’s healing for me to lay it all out here, and in small chunks, hoping they will actually READ it this time.

(They went over it so quickly last year, and got such bizarre interpretations of what it said, that I doubt they truly *read* it.)  Maybe now they’ll finally GET it.

Or not, because that requires empathy, and the willingness to admit to doing wrong, abusive things to me and to others.  I saw very little of that when I knew them, but a whole lot of justification for every nasty word, every act of vengeance.

They’ll probably just find some way to call everything I write “baloney” again, or say it never happened that way, or that they never did that, or that they were justified, even though everything I write is true and this is how it all happened.

Which is exactly why we broke off relations with them.

That’s how abusers act when you confront them with the abuse, so you can’t expect apologies or even acknowledgement that you tell the truth.  It’s extremely common for abusers to call their victims “liars,” “crazy,” and continue the abuse, even when faced with documentation proving their abuse.

I hope that the current bitter cold weather will inspire them to say as soon as Tracy graduates, “Screw this, we’re going back home where it’s warm!”  (You know it’s been cold when you consider 15 degrees and an above-zero wind chill “springlike.”)  Then they’d be thousands of miles away from me.

They’re banned from former mutual friend Todd’s Forum, I don’t see them on my other forums anymore, and I dropped current mutual friends on Facebook to protect myself.

While I do see the mutual friends sometimes on the Forum, or on Todd’s Facebook, there’s no chance of interacting with them in the same threads as Richard/Tracy.  So even online is much safer now.

The emotional pain of seeing them at my church and fearing what they will do there, or what they will say to whom to smear me (such as my priest, which they did already do), no longer happens.

It’s the same as when Peter and Shawn stopped going to my college two years in, so I no longer saw them around every day.  Or when I graduated and moved away from S– and to Fond du Lac, so I no longer saw Phil, Persephone or Dirk every day.

Not seeing your abusers around, and not hearing their names all the time, is incredibly helpful when you can manage it.

It also feels like the events I write about here–even though they still can stir up anger at times–are becoming just another part of my past, something that happened long ago.  The more I write, the more it seems like just words and pages on a screen, and no more real than fairyland.

I spent the 90s still smarting over the things that Peter, Shawn, Phil and others did in college, but the more I wrote about it, the more it seemed to fade.  And then so much time passed that, even though I can channel old feelings long enough to write a blog post on abuse, after I’m done writing about it and tweaking the posts, it fades away again as if it never happened.

Now that the threat is gone and Richard and Tracy have finally turned into nothing but an IP address in my blog stats, I feel like revising and re-posting the book I wrote about that experience, is all I need to do.  Maybe even publish it on Lulu for those who prefer that form.

Then after that, it will all fade as if it never happened.  Much faster than it did with the exes, because I didn’t have a blog back then, just a private journal and occasional e-mails or forum posts…..

Yet More Validation to Writing My Stories of Abuse

The benefits are coming in:

Not only has writing about my abuse experiences been a healthy purge, a catharsis, but I see validation in my blog stats:

People are connecting with my posts, printing them, downloading them as PDFs, e-mailing them, sharing them, subscribing.  (And not just for these posts, but for others as well, such as the ones on NVLD or introversion.)

In real life, I took two poems I wrote about my blog stalkers, this and this, to Writer’s Club in the past 6 months.  (Yes, my blog stalkers have read them.)  They were barely beyond the first draft, just something scrawled in an afternoon.

Yet people loved them, found them beautiful.  Those who have experienced abuse and narcissism, connected with my poems, said they were correct in describing it.  A few weeks later, one person even said she’d been thinking about me and the poem I brought in.  (Too bad she hasn’t been back since, because she seemed like a potential friend.)

In a recent workshop, one middle-aged man, who was abused as a child, said that he is now encouraged to be more open in his own writing about what he has been through.

Such writing really does have value!  We are not being “victims”; we are expressing ourselves, and thereby helping others as well.  This helps us all get through the pain, move past the abuse, and move on with our lives, far healthier than if we had pushed it down and ignored it, pasting on a happy face.

The very posts which inspired my stalkers to laugh and to threaten me, are bringing comfort and validation to thousands.

And that makes my stalkers’ cut-downs, threats, denials, minimization, invalidation, derision, all just a bit of meaningless fly buzzing in the background.

So what if they constantly check what I write?  Who cares what they think about any of it?

What I care about is what I see here in my stats, the evidence that my writing is indeed helping people, bringing comfort and validation to others.  It brings meaning to my writing and joy to my heart.  It is also very healing.

Because when you:

  • write in your own personal journal,
  • or write on a blog,
  • or write letters about your stressful situations to a friend,
  • or send emails to your therapist,
  • or write your own songs,
  • or write poetry,
  • or write short stories,
  • or write to your other insiders about your thoughts and feelings of today, or your memories of yesterday,
  • or write creative comforting stories for your little ones,

your writing will benefit you and your health.
–Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation, The Therapeutic Value of Writing

 

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