Category: depression

After his conviction, Richard comes to my church

To my shock, Richard showed up at my church today.  I hadn’t seen him there since last Christmas, and thought that–ever since I reported him to Social Services and he got convicted of choking his kid–he would never show up at my church again, out of shame, knowing or suspecting that I know what he did.  (The Forum was shocked as well.)

But there he was, so who knows when he could show up again.  Every week maybe?  And my church is TINY.  It’s hard to stay at opposite ends of the church in a church that small.  Staying at opposite ends means staying a yard or two apart.  Because of this, even though Jeff normally drops me off and leaves (he’s Lutheran), he stayed nearby as moral support–or a kind of bodyguard.

But I did note a few things.  They may mean nothing, or they may mean something, I don’t know: Richard was very quiet during the service, even during the Creed.  I didn’t hear him and he was just two or three pews back with nobody in between.  He did not go to get the Eucharist.

Only two children were with him: The child he choked was not there.  The youngest also was not there, and neither was Tracy.

He was right behind me in the line to get blessed bread from the priest, but said nothing to me.  Of course, I was sending out clear body language to “stay away.”

Unlike the first or second time I saw them at my church after everything went down, this time I’m given strength by the knowledge that I should not cower in shame from someone who did such a horrible thing to a little kid.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two children who were there.  Child #1 is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’ll pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Child #2 is older, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got Child #2’s scolding eyes.  She said things like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”

Jeff tells me he also got her scolding eyes.  But you can’t tell a little child, “Sorry, but we can’t come to your house anymore because your mother is nasty and your father choked your sister.”  So instead, I said, “We miss you, too.”

I hate to see children suffer from the sins of the parents.  I keep praying that the probation officer and Social Services are working to change things for those girls so they can break the cycle.

Jeff does not want to be friends with these people again.

[The case also showed up in the local newspaper’s printed listing of court cases, in November, showing his name, the ruling, and the amount of the fine.]

I posted on Facebook a dedication to Richard: “Suedehead” by Morrissey:

Why do you come here?  And why do you hang around?  Why do you come here When you know it makes things hard for me?  When you know, oh…Why do you come?

I also wrote:

Today I was put in the extremely uncomfortable and heartbreaking position of talking to a child who didn’t understand why I don’t come around anymore, and seeing the scold in her eyes.

“It was fun playing at your house,” she said.  “We miss you,” she said.

But you can’t tell a child that her parents’ disgraceful behavior is the reason.  “We miss you, too,” was all I could say.

I don’t get it–Why does he come to my church if he’s not going to try to make things right with us?  It’s supposed to be my refuge, my peaceful place.  But he keeps showing up there like a bad penny.

He has his own church.  What he did to me, has put me into my own Long Dark Night of the Soul; when he choked his daughter, I was horrified; and when I see him again, it’s a setback, when I’ve come so far along.

Every Sunday service, I’m afraid to go because he might be there.  Why doesn’t he leave me alone?

Dude, I don’t hate you, but I am extremely disappointed in you.  I expected much better of you…….

Then I posted a link to my blog post, Healing Takes a Long Time.  Some excerpts:

I had thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.  A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.  They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

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

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.

The other one is 7, and upset at Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Hubby also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.

I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.

All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Hubby and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

[5/4/14: Instead, he just spent the whole time ignoring us, making no move to make peace with us, instead telling one of my fellow parishioners about his conversion to Orthodoxy. 

His conversion–hmph–What a joke!  Was that an Orthodox way to treat us, Richard?  You’re no Christian!]

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”  But in my heart I just don’t believe that.

I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He had never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.

If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

[Below was added in spring 2014.]

Tracy accused me of breaking off relations with her because I needed to “grow up” and accept the “consequences” of my “behavior.” 

No, we broke off relations with her because she’s a screaming harpy, a child abuser, a husband beater, and an abusive friend who bullies shy, quiet, gentle people. 

We had already considered breaking off relations with her several times before that, even considered reporting her to CPS before the breakup. 

Her behavior on July 1, 2010 was the last straw. 

And now we have proof, in black and white, and in the state’s court records, that Richard is also a child abuser, making his loss no longer the tragedy I thought it was.

But I still suffered from residual pain and grief over his loss.

On October 31, 2011, the newspaper published this letter I sent to the editor:

I commend Jaymee Barton (“Surviving Violence,” Oct. 24) for speaking out on domestic abuse and [two local newspapers] for publishing stories about this issue over the past year.

An earlier article, “Injuries to Child Raise Questions” (Aug. 26), discussed sentencing for child abusers.  Recently, a local man who choked his young daughter was charged with two felonies.  But through plea bargaining, his sentence became probation, no jail time.

How can this happen with such a despicable act?  Is that child being protected?  Domestic abuse is far too common – husbands abusing wives emotionally, verbally and/or physically, wives abusing husbands in the same way, husbands and wives abusing each other, parents abusing children.

And keep in mind that “domestic abuse” [in Wisconsin] applies to anyone living together, including roommates.  People laugh at women abusing men, but it happens quite a bit, even physically.  Even going to counseling can be a way for the abuser to control the abused by manipulating the counselor.

I also commend Social Services and the police in trying to stop abuse.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects abuse should report it to the police or Social Services to help them do their job protecting those who can’t protect themselves.  And I hope the abused, even children, will have the courage to tell someone who can help.

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

 

 

The Light is Shining Through–Finding Faith Again After the Fall of a Spiritual Mentor: Fighting the Darkness

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.

[Update 8/11/13:]

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.

But he was emotionally, verbally and sexually abusive, manipulating my mind and heart.  He could have destroyed me if I had legally married him.

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.

My husband and I believe Richard and Tracy realized this as well.  We believe this is why they began abusing me again in the spring of 2010, after they had been nice to me for a while.

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.

[Update 8/12/13:]

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:

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood

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.

The long, dark night of my soul as I doubt God exists–because my spiritual mentor betrayed me

I have no interest whatsoever in reconciling with Tracy and don’t really care anymore what she thinks of me, because I consider her an abuser and a bully and the most horrid person I’ve ever known, and I believe she’s a false Christian.

As for Richard, this person I had dearly loved like a brother, respected, trusted and looked up to, this person I saw as a man of God, this person whom I saw as my spiritual mentor and guide, this person I supported emotionally through all his troubles while he lived with us, the person I told all my secrets to, has betrayed me and let me be verbally/emotionally torn apart like a wild animal.

Because of his connection to my spiritual journey, it’s been a struggle not to abandon all the things in Orthodoxy (or Christianity) that I associated in any way with Richard.

Because our friendship and his living here had seemed to be a direct and obvious answer to prayer, my faith in God has been damaged so much that I often doubt God even exists.

Because why would God answer my prayer with a curse, with an angel of light that turned out to be the devil?  The devil couldn’t have heard my prayer, because it was said to God by my mind, not by my mouth.

Two options rise up, both too frightening and repugnant to accept: that either

1) God did answer my prayer with a curse, or

2) God does not exist and it was all chance.

I keep hoping that one day a third option will make itself clear, but for now, I understand how even Mother Theresa could have gone through the dark night of the soul.

I knew the devil would try to get me out of Orthodoxy if I converted, as fellow converts speak of such things online, and he’d already been throwing various things at me, especially during Lenten periods.

But I had no idea he would do something like this that could sear me to my soul with a flaming sword, rip me away from the one whom I honored as the person who led me to the truth, damage me so much.

I had no idea that the person I honored as a man of God, had such crumbling feet of clay, would lead me to the truth and then be the means for shattering my faith.

I can only hope the following is true, taken from an earlier, more extensive version of the above Wikipedia link for “dark night of the soul“:

Rather than resulting in permanent devastation, the dark night is regarded by mystics and others as a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual is stripped (in the dark night of the senses) of the spiritual ecstasy associated with acts of virtue.

Although the individual may for a time seem to outwardly decline in his or her practices of virtue, in reality he becomes more virtuous, as she is being virtuous less for the spiritual rewards (ecstasies in the cases of the first night) obtained and more out of a true love for God.

It is this purgatory, a purgation of the soul, that brings purity and union with God.

From A Saint’s Dark Night by James Martin:

Even the most sophisticated believers sometimes believe that the saints enjoyed a stress-free spiritual life–suffering little personal doubt. For many saints this is accurate:

St. Francis de Sales, the 17th-century author of “An Introduction to the Devout Life,” said that he never went more than 15 minutes without being aware of God’s presence. Yet the opposite experience is so common it even has a name.

St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic, labeled it the “dark night,” the time when a person feels completely abandoned by God, and which can lead even ardent believers to doubt God’s existence.

During her final illness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is now widely revered as “The Little Flower,” faced a similar trial, which seemed to center on doubts about whether anything awaited her after death.

“If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into,” she said to the sisters in her convent.

But Mother Teresa’s “dark night” was of a different magnitude, lasting for decades. It is almost unparalleled in the lives of the saints.

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

 

 

Working through the grief, pain and anger

Others have emotionally abused and bullied me in the past, such as kids at school and my college boyfriends; then, as now, the experience left me very angry, and the anger lingered for some time.  Eventually, however, it went away, and I began to rebuild my self-esteem and build a new life without that baggage.

So I know the Tracy/Richard incident will heal eventually as well.  But for now, I feel furious at the bullying, psychological manipulation and gaslighting of me, and the spousal/child abuse Tracy inflicted, and want the pain to end.  (Keep in mind this was a very recent breakup after more than two years of covert and overt bullying.)

I’m having a lot of trouble trusting again or getting the gumption to try to build bonds with people, except for ones I’ve already known for years.  Even then, I keep wondering, “They seem to like me, but do they really mean it?  Or are they hiding something?  Do they secretly hate me?  If I tell them my deep secrets, will they betray and abandon me later?”

I feel lonely but keep crawling into my shell.  As a very shy person and introvert, it’s hard for me to make friends, so losing one is far more devastating than it might be for an extrovert.

I feel numb or gun-shy or cynical when I hear about anything connected to love or marriage or friendship, even though I have good friends (still connected via Internet) and a good, trusting, supportive marriage.

Despite apologies and confessions and absolution, the thoughts keep spinning around in my head.  Seeing Richard or Tracy on the street or at church, or even Tracy’s name on a mutual friend’s Facebook post, makes my heart race, and I feel shaky long afterward.

I’ve distanced myself from mutual friends on Facebook, out of fear they might mention Richard and Tracy to me.

Many times I’ve wished for death, in the first months of grief, but that’s finally abated.

This combined with an NVLD/Asperger’s tendency to ruminate long after everyone else has forgotten an incident.  Hopefully writing about it will help.

The way out of the morass of depression, and at times even feeling like I’m a whore who somehow deserved it, is slow, but I’m making my way up again.

Some people might think they have the right to treat a spouse like property and control the spouse’s thoughts and actions, and feel justified in bullying opposite-sex friends.  The spouse might even act flattered, like this must really be love.  But it’s never okay to bully, whether for jealousy or whatever reason.  

If you feel you have to monitor your spouse’s friendships to keep him/her faithful, if you feel you have to okay the friendships, check up on them, read their online chats and e-mails, etc. etc.–then either you’re an insane control freak or you need to divorce this person for not being trustworthy.  

If your spouse has no actual history of cheating, then don’t put your spouse and their friends through this hell because of your own insecurity and lack of trust.  

This behavior is NOT okay, and don’t expect your spouse to “respect” your feelings when you’re not respecting his ability to choose his own friends and stay faithful.

I felt very strongly that the Lord had removed me from a very toxic situation that he no longer wanted me to be a part of. So I did not call her or make any attempts to get back together.

I figured that she had been the one to end our relationship- if she had a change of heart, then she needed to be the one to restore it. I was heartbroken at first, but eventually I became at peace with it.

And after a while, I felt relief, joy, and profound gratitude.   I understood that my Father was protecting me, and that he loved me so much that he had taken this burden from me. –Rev. Renee, Desperate Measures–When they sense they’re losing their grip on you

This experience has made me appreciate my own marriage much more, with its trust and mutual respect.  Sure we’ve had our problems, but we’ve worked them out.  And we never, ever get jealous over opposite-sex friends or try to control each other.

I read online and in advice columns, about spouses suspecting affairs or blaming friends for trying to start affairs or whatever.  Commenters go on and on about how you can’t trust people, what’s “inappropriate,” etc.

But I can attest that just because you read one person’s letter to a columnist about a suspected affair, doesn’t mean there is one.  Just because the writer thinks they have reason to be jealous and suspicious, doesn’t necessarily mean they do.

I got a very strong impression that some of their friends had no idea of Tracy’s dark side, that she hid it from them, because they seemed too sweet to want to be around a mean, manipulative, aggressive person.  

But I knew of other friends who had broken off relations with Richard because of Tracy.  How many, I don’t know.  Many of their friends are through the Internet.

I bet Tracy has told people that I was after her husband and now she has proof, gives her reasons, and they nod their heads and say yep.  But there is another side of the story which is quite different.  Always take care who you meet through the Internet.

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

 

Fighting the Darkness (Depression After Abuse)

Times have gotten so dark lately…..

I used to be obsessed with studying my faith.

Now I don’t even have that anymore because the person who led me into the truth I’d been searching for, my spiritual mentor, the source of spiritual knowledge, wisdom and help–

turned around and betrayed me, and their spouse bullied and then verbally abused me (such horrid, horrid words) over misunderstandings–

and they both just kept excusing and justifying it, making me wonder what kind of people can excuse such things.

I haven’t had a moment of true happiness since it happened.

Due to my shyness and selective mutism, I have trouble making friends in real life, though online I have no trouble and I keep in touch with my old college group.

I remember praying in church one day, God please send me a friend right here in my own city and not far away, and this person came a few months later.

It seemed the Holy Spirit was leading us together, that we were meant to be friends, that our families were meant to be blessings to each other.

Then it all fell apart, they don’t seem to care if I’m alive anymore, my faith is in shatters, and I have these terrible headaches that just won’t–go–away!

How can God give me this friend in answer to prayer and use this friend to lead me into truth and then take the friend away again in such horrible circumstances?  How can this have happened?

Or is there no God to have done any of it?  Or does he just not care?  It’s hard to even get myself to pray or read my Bible.

I keep trying to make friends and extend invitations, but the phone doesn’t ring.  There is no story or novel burning within me to be written anymore, like there used to be.  There’s a whole slew of songs and albums I can’t listen to right now because of the memories they bring back about that person.

We struggle even to get basic health care because we don’t have a health plan through work or enough money to get something decent, our doctors have retired or changed practices, and new ones won’t take us without insurance.

I feel like it’s all falling out of my grasp until I have nothing left.

Ever since I came into Orthodoxy, the devil has been fighting harder than he ever has, to get me out of it.  So many things have happened.

My family (parents and siblings etc.) had a shakeup four or five years ago that almost ripped it apart.  My husband was doing well at work, promotion, salary increase, working with his best friend, then the economy hit, and he lost both the job and health insurance.

I hit turbulence inwardly as I began to fear death and wonder, can we really be sure there’s something after and we won’t just blip out of existence forever?  The thought of my hopes, dreams, memories, life, creativities all disappearing and me being nothing but a corpse, is too much to bear.

Then the trouble trying to find a decent, permanent position that pays enough for us to pay the bills and claw out of debt and provides a health plan.  My husband tries and does his best but he keeps being second pick.  How much more can one person take?–Oh, wait, maybe I’d better not ask that……

I know I’ve hit rock bottom when I constantly think, Maybe this headache is a brain tumor or aneurysm, or maybe I’ll get hit by a car taking my son home from school, and that will be that and my troubles will be over and my husband can use the insurance money to pay off the debts and get a housekeeper……

My bright spots are my husband and child and our serene household.

Please pray for me.

[Comment Added on : ]

(To those people if they read this: 6 months have passed, the break is now up, you’re allowed to call and make peace, but we hear nothing from you.

So that’s how much our friendship was really worth to you.  Is your ego worth more than peace?  Is your temper more important than apologies?  Were you just using us?)

[For an explanation of the backstory, see here.]

[I wrote this post after discovering that Richard’s friend Chris had unfriended me on Facebook without a word.  I had no clue why.

Three years later, he again–out of the blue–re-friended me, again without a word.  But at the time, he seemed to no longer want to be my friend, and I didn’t know why.

I feared that Richard and Tracy had been feeding him lies about me.  I was already in the midst of a deep depression, but this last straw sent me into a tailspin.

It was my first blog post on the subject, though I had been writing about it on my website for some time, in the “Abuse” section.  Sometimes I had the story online; sometimes I took it offline.

But this was the first time that I brought this subject onto my blog as well.  I didn’t write again for months, but it was the opening I needed to release the pain into my blog….

I posted a link on Facebook.  My friends read it, including one of Richard’s friends who had me on her blogroll, and maybe some other mutual friends.  They were all very supportive.]

Grief that my abusers keep coming to my church but not apologizing to me

Here is an article on dyssemia, a word coined in 1992 to describe the trouble people with NVLD have with social situations.  Here [in an earlier version of the page on Wikipedia] you’ll find a quote from the back cover of Helping the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In:

We’ve all known children like this:
–they stand too close and touch us in annoying ways;
–they laugh too loud or at the wrong times;
–they make stupid or embarrassing remarks;
–they don’t seem to get the message when given a broad hint or even told outright to behave differently;
–they mistake friendly actions for hostile ones, or vice versa;
–they move too slowly, or too fast, for everyone else;
–their facial expressions don’t jibe with what they or others are saying, or
–their appearance is seriously out of step with current fashions, they don’t dress well for the occasion, etc.
–they are known to stare at people, stalk people, or do something that annoys other people or makes them feel uncomfortable
–they have problems dating and interacting with the opposite sex in a romantic way. Many dyssemics are love shy.

There are many more descriptions of dyssemia below on that webpage.  This sounds very much like me, such as with fashions, hair and makeup, difficulty fitting in, lack of punctuality, social awkwardness, a difference in ability between receiving and expressing nonverbal messages, growing senses of grief and despair over loneliness, saying things in a way I didn’t intend and suffering consequences, and various other things you’ll read here.

Which makes it all the more angering that Richard didn’t listen to me, that Tracy acted as if it were just excuses for bad behavior, that Tracy and, eventually, Richard became the adult bullies targeting me.

Tracy would probably agree with “they don’t seem to get the message when given a broad hint or even told outright to behave differently.”  But no, Tracy thought I just needed to “grow up and TALK” as if it were something I could just do on command like a trained puppy.

She made jabs at a “self-diagnosed learning disability” as if that invalidated everything I ever said.  Richard talked as if my social troubles with Tracy, or with anyone, were just a simple matter of willpower.

It makes me very angry with the both of them for thinking they could judge me like this.  I have seen the face of wickedness in a supposed Christian: It is Tracy.  I have seen the face of betrayal and unfair judgment in a friend: It is Richard.  He is dead to me.

For some time, I put a message on my Facebook profile for him, saying that I hoped one day we’d be friends again.  I have long since removed it.

Though a part of me still longs for him to recognize what he’s done and make things right, and a part of me misses that BFF to whom I told all my secrets and day-to-day stuff and musings.

Since Richard was my roommate for three months, he was that for so long that I grew accustomed to having such a friend in my life, after so long without one (other than Jeff, of course).

From this blog post:

I regained a degree of confidence, and was able to reclaim the narrative of my life.

She had stolen that from me, repeating to me over and over again during the countless all-night “discussions” she’d make me have about how I’d done something wrong again, that I “don’t get to” have a reaction, a response, a reason, a say, a thought, a feeling other than one that was dictated by her perpetually warping delusions.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this is what Tracy’s “conference” would have turned into.

I had every indication from her that it would, not just from 7/1/10 but from the e-mails exchanged 8/1/10 and after, where she essentially beat me over the head for everything I ever did that she thought was somehow wrong–and also from the two and a half years before that, whenever I had an opinion about her actions towards me or anybody else.

I also know from the “conference” she had with Todd in June/July 2008 over that stupid game argument, that this is how it would’ve gone with me, because she did not listen to him at all, did not even try to understand his point of view, but just kept saying over and over again that he was wrong and childish.

More from the above link:

Finally, one thing that this exercise [the author blogging about his abusive ex] also helped me with was confronting false nostalgia.  “Maybe it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I was really to blame after all.”

For me, it’s been the same: the constant feeling for quite some time that maybe she wasn’t so bad, that I was the one who was bad–quickly diminishing as I write about what really happened.

They rarely come to my church, but they have a couple of times in the months since the Incident.  I felt a distinct cold shoulder, as if not only were they avoiding speaking to me, but their children had been instructed to avoid me as well.  (I might add that this is an extremely small church, so you can’t just melt into the crowd.)

It’s very much the impression that because I refuse to let Tracy yell and scream at me and dictate to and scold me like a child or an idiot, she’s decided to freeze me out and treat me like sh** on the bottom of her shoe.

Not at all Christian behavior, yet there she is at church taking the Eucharist like she’s right with God even while she’s treating those around her like crap.

But the reality is that she refused to accept that I’m not like her, that I’m my own kind of person, with a brain that seems to work differently than most other people’s, and will not change myself just to suit her, that she might as well ask someone who’s bad at math to be an astronomer, or a ballerina to be a truck driver, or a dog to be a cat.

Tracy treats me like sh** at church because I objected to her demeaning, belittling, cursing, verbally violent, deliberately hurtful behavior.

So now Richard and even the children cannot even say hi to me, or e-mail me or talk to me on Facebook, because:

  1. I demand to be treated with respect, kindness and understanding.
  2. I refuse to let her vilify me for believing my communication and social problems with her are not from stubbornness or meanness or childishness, but from either introversion or NLD/Asperger’s or (at the very least) selective mutism (or, even more likely, from her own crabby attitude).
  3. I can’t figure out what she’s so upset about all the time.
  4. I refuse to listen one more time to her grievances while my own are ignored or ridiculed or tossed aside yet again.
  5. I will not accept abuse for my brain processes being different from hers.  (I got quite enough of that in elementary school, and dealing with her is like dealing with those childish childhood bullies all over again.)

Why she comes to my church at all if she’s going to act this way, I can’t say, since they have their own church, do not like mine, and almost never came to it before the falling-out.

Is it to twist the knife in further?  Is she such a sadist that she’s not satisfied with going our separate ways?

How can I even want to be in the same room with her after she posted, “I’m having a GREAT day!” on Facebook because she was screaming at me online and cussing me out? because she no longer had to sit back and be “quiet and nice”?  (That was quiet and nice?)

She was happy because she was allowed to scream at me and cuss me out and make all sorts of accusations.  From FAQ about Verbal Abuse:

Why does it seem that after he abuses me verbally he is happy, like he feels relieved? Also, he will act like it never happened. It’s like he has no memory of it….

This is what verbal abusers do. Verbal abusers almost universally act like nothing happened, like they feel fine and the relationship is fine. This is because they feel they have more control.

Maybe they got you to back down, believe them or doubt yourself. If you doubt yourself then you might go with what they tell you, be more compliant and more slave-like. This makes them happy.

And from What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick:

When does she come close to being in a good mood or smile with pure pleasure? When she feels like she’s in the catbird seat because she’s gotten her way, pulled one over on you or pulled the rug out from underneath you. The size of her smile is in direct proportion to the number of times she twisted the proverbial knife.

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

 

I see Tracy hanging out of the window of their minivan, like a crazy woman

Tracy did not accept responsibility for her anger and abuse, but put it on others.

She accused others of being “childish” and needing to “grow up,” but was the pot calling the kettle black.

She wouldn’t respect others, not even clergy if they said something she didn’t like, but demanded respect from others, kept complaining loudly about how they weren’t respecting her–but how was it respectful for her to scream at adults and children who annoyed her?

And oh, how she criticized me for finally standing up for myself by cutting her loose!  How offended she acted when we broke off the friendship with them because of her, as if we were the ones being childish and throwing tantrums!

I thought she would be happy to have me out of her life, that I was doing her a favor and showing her respect.  But apparently it just made her angrier.

For some reason, she wanted Jeff and me to stay friends with her.  I really haven’t a clue why.  Why on earth did Tracy get so angry at me for ending the friendship?  I thought it was what she’d always wanted.

Was it the loss of Jeff as a partner in D&D?  Was it the loss of the support and free babysitting (at the drop of a hat) we’d given them? free taxi service? free meals?

(We were never reimbursed for the extra expenses incurred while they lived with us, or for the broken couch.  Jeff’s parents told him he should have ended things long before this, that they sounded like moochers, that as soon as Tracy started complaining about the food, we should’ve politely shown them the door.  One of my friends said they sounded like manipulators who were using us.  My pastor friend said that when thinking about what Tracy said about me, I should consider the source and disregard it.)

Was it because she didn’t get her way?  Because normally a jealous person is very happy to see the subject of her jealousy end a friendship with her husband.  This is the most baffling part.

There is another possibility I can think of: She had already cost Richard several friends.  He had often said how much he liked us, that I was a very dear friend to him, that I did so much for his family, that Jeff was fun to play D&D with, etc.  Maybe Tracy wanted to deflect responsibility and Richard’s anger onto somebody else for the loss of two more friends.

We heard through a third party that they miss Jeff at D&D, but Jeff wondered if they missed me.  He told me he won’t play with them until they stop holding grudges against me, his wife.

In order to not be a hypocrite, doing the same thing I found wrong in Tracy, I have told him he can be friends with them, play D&D with them, if he wants to, that I will not put restrictions on who his friends can be.  But he’s disgusted with both of them and doesn’t want to.

The trouble is that the city where we live is too small to avoid each other entirely.  Not only do they come to my church occasionally (oddly enough, more often now than they did when we were still friends), but I sometimes see their vehicles on the street.

Tracy drives her company cars, and their other vehicle has bumper stickers on it, so if I can see the back of the vehicle, or see who’s driving the company car, I know who it is.

Once, either October 5, 2010 or December 7, 2010, I set off walking past my house to fetch my son from elementary school, when who should I see driving past me on the street?

It was a residential zone and between a middle school and college, so the speed limit was 25.  I was near the middle school and its football field, where there were no trees or cars in between me and the street.

It was a long stretch with no obstructions before or behind it to block my view of them.

They passed just a few yards away from me, so I had time and opportunity to make a positive identification.

Since we’re in the same school system, they were probably out for the same reason, but a different elementary school, so they were going the opposite direction, facing me.

Tracy was hanging half her body out the window of their van–head facing me, shoulders turned so they were above and below, arms and hands dangling in the air.

She was hanging out the window by the entire upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)–while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.

It was hard to define the look in only a few seconds while they drove past, but I figured he was upset with her for hanging out the window.

I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me, since she was hanging out the window with me just a few feet away from her passenger-side window, and she was facing me.  So you see she was close enough to identify.

If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman.  I turned and saw her from the back as they passed, and most likely looked for the license plate and bumper stickers at this time.

There was no explanation for why on earth she’d be hanging half out the window, just yet more bizarre behavior from this woman.

I thought it was a psychotic episode.

Maybe they’d been arguing.

Maybe she threatened to jump out, which from what I’ve read, is common among people with borderline personality disorder, both the threatening and the doing.

Maybe she saw me from a distance and wanted to yell at me.

In any case, this incident proved to me that I was not crazy, that Tracy had something going on with her psychologically or mentally, that her problems with me came from inside herself.  I saw it as a gift from God.

Another time, Jeff and I were driving down one of the major streets of the city, while I looked out the passenger window, and who should I see unloading a big van at the local political headquarters, but Richard.

I saw out of the corner of my eye (trying not to look directly at him) as he saw us and stared after us.  He’s such a big guy that he’s easy to spot.

I have no respect anymore for either Richard or Tracy after all this.

It’s been a struggle just keeping in the same denomination as they are, especially when they have demonstrated that they will still come to my church on occasion–meaning I can never consider them to be completely out of my life unless they relocate.  

I came close to giving up on church because it reminded me too much of Richard, but I had too much strength in my beliefs to throw them away.  

I sometimes feel that the only way I can truly go on in Orthodoxy is if they either apologize for their crimes, or leave me alone to disconnect the Orthodox Church from Richard.

I still care about him and miss our friendship, remember the good times, and miss telling him all about the happenings at church or the latest news about local churches of various denominations.  But I can’t deal anymore with the crap that came along with it.

I don’t miss Tracy one bit, and don’t care to ever see her again.  Jeff doesn’t miss her, either, and doesn’t want to say anything to her when he sees her.

They are welcome to apologize at any time, though whether or not a friendship would be reinstated, after so much time and childishness on their part–would take a lot of reflection first.  Who knows what could bring on Tracy’s venom next time?  Abusers go in cycles:

If we reinstate a friendship, like a year before (after 2009 discussions) there will probably be a honeymoon period for a while.  But then she’ll start building up her anger yet again, and something else will set her off a year later.  You know, just like what had already happened.

So what’s the point?  Who knows; maybe at some point in the future, things will somehow come to a point where a friendship is possible again.  But I’m not holding my breath.

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

 

Grief over being abused–and the abuser getting away with it

I believe Tracy’s husband should have taken swift and decisive action to end her verbal and physical violence at home,

because by staying with her and not forcing her into counseling or some other thing,

he essentially taught her to believe it was okay for her to assault people and expect them to jump to her demands, accept her assaults, and not demand an apology or kindness from her.

That’s part of the trouble with Stockholm Syndrome.  How he can stay with someone who not only verbally but physically abuses him, and claim to still love her, I do not know.

How he could tell me that he deserved the way I saw her treat him during the weeks they lived with us, I do not know.

How he could blame her jealousies and rages on hormones, stress, or whatever, and not walk away, I do not know.

How he could endure all this crap from her, see the crap she threw at me, see what she did to the kids, and still call her “awesome” and “sweet,” baffles my mind.

How can he not be scared of her?  How can he not find her meanness a huge turnoff?  I didn’t even want to be in the same room with her most of the time!  Why would he want to be anywhere near someone like that?

I just don’t understand it, because if a man ever hit me, I’d lose any attraction and love I felt for him, real fast.

I was once with a guy who was emotionally and verbally abusive with the threat of physical abuse to come; we were together for less than a year, and it took only several months afterwards for me to realize he was no good, to move on and find somebody better.

But then, I should take care not to blame the victim, since Stockholm Syndrome is quite common among abuse victims.  Also, men especially have trouble with leaving or reporting abusive women because society, the police and the courts tend not to believe the man is the victim of domestic abuse.

Richard kept telling me how he was trying to get her to stop, how she’d act sorry and talk about changing; he kept telling me it was pregnancy hormones or whatever else was going on with her at the time.

But I saw this cycle going again and again, even when she was not pregnant.

And then for her to treat me like, my wanting to be buddy-buddy with her was a test to prove how trustworthy I was with her husband–it was just ridiculous.

I just don’t understand how Tracy can be so cruel and abusive to another person, then blame that person and shun her at church for ending the friendship.

Or how she can treat it all like it’s all about her and her being offended, when the truth is, Jeff and I both threw up our hands, decided that she and Richard were both being too violent and ridiculous, and apologies were not forthcoming from them, so we had to leave to protect ourselves.

For me it was finally a reason to stop being obliged to hang around with an abuser, someone who bullies everyone around her (except for the ones on her “approved” list) until they either leave or cower in submission.

(Before, our two families were so intertwined that I saw no way to extricate myself from her.  Forget the usual advice to just see your friend without the spouse if you don’t get along: She wouldn’t allow it!)

My husband and I finally decided we were better off being alone and lonely than having ungrateful and unkind friends like these.

I just don’t understand how she can live with herself, let alone take the Eucharist.  You’re supposed to confess at least occasionally–has she confessed these things?

And if so, then why doesn’t she try to make amends with me and be kind instead of carrying on this ostracism of me from her family?

Why doesn’t she come to me and apologize for all the things she’s done? the barbs, the false accusations, the knee-jerking, the ridicule, the ingratitude, the verbal abuse, the threat of physical violence?

I never even got so much as a thank you from her for providing her family with shelter and food despite great inconvenience to us.  I tried so hard to be nice to her, even while breaking off the friendship, but got venom back from her.

I said as little as possible to her during the breakup to try to avoid arguments because I knew I was no match for her abuse, but her angry words just kept coming and coming.

It’s hypocrisy like this that turns people away from the Church, and even I with all my strength of faith have had to struggle to hold onto it–and not abandon the Church completely–while dealing with this.

Richard, after all, had much to do with me finding my way.  He was my spiritual guru, my spiritual idol with clay feet, someone to look up to.  I thought he could show me the way to religious enlightenment.

I thought he was devout, but instead he was violent.  I thought his violence was in the past, tamped down by religion, but it was still there, waiting dormant.  I saw the verbal violence arising in political comments he made on Facebook.

(You’ll note from what happened to Congresswoman Giffords that such political verbal violence leads to crazy people carrying out physical violence.  This article has a disturbing resemblance to Richard drawing a middle finger on a letter he received from our senator Feingold, then returning it to him.  Is that any way for a Christian to act?)

With the way Richard and Tracy both are about politics, actively working with their favored parties, and Richard’s attitudes to the opposition (actually using the word “hate”), and how upset I am at what is going on in Wisconsin since the last election put their people in power–

–how all the things I love about my state government are being yanked away and civility is now dead–

–I think being friends with them now would have been impossible anyway.

I think they would have been unbearable, that they would have looked down on Jeff and me for disagreeing with them, called us “sheeple” and “socialists,” all that crap going around these days which is making me start to look at their parties as the Enemy because they have acted out of anger and set up my side as their Enemy, rather than working together.

The following clip from a website of personal abuse stories, reminds me of Tracy telling me I needed to “grow up” and get over hurt feelings from her verbal abuse (according to her, caused by my behavior), rather than breaking off relations with her, and of Richard telling me that saying little to her was somehow worse than so-called “harsh words”:

After I confronted her about her having no right to lay a hand on me and my fear of what she would do to our future children, she replied, “if you’re going to get your tiny feelings in a bunch over a little slap, you need to keep going to therapy TO WORK ON YOUR PROBLEMS.”

I bet Tracy says this to her children and husband as well when they get zinged by her for stepping out of line.

This sounds very much like how Tracy acted at the end–and Richard was getting this way as well near the end, which is where the problems between him and me started.

I am so fed up with all the cattiness, abuse and bullying Tracy has thrown at me over the years in return for all the ways I’ve helped her and her family (sometimes at great personal trouble).

I am so fed up with how I was expected to just take it and try to befriend her, and if I complained about how she treated me and her husband and children I was a horrible, horrible person who was “biased against” her and didn’t “respect” her and interfered with how she dealt with her husband (because I didn’t think she naturally had the right to treat him like property and act jealous) and was too lax with my son and wanted to steal her husband.  (I have a good one of my own; why would I want hers?)

I tried so hard to quell my resentment, to do nice things for her, to spend every Lenten period trying to forget it and her lack of apologies.

Meanwhile she just kept nursing her grudges and the things I had done that were supposedly so horrible, and saying things to Richard like, “Did you just spend a couple of hours chatting with that woman online?”  (What?  Since when were we not supposed to chat online?)

While blaming me for not being all open and outgoing with her, she kept ignoring the crucial things that would’ve changed everything: her apologies, her changing her own behavior not just with me but with Richard and the children.

I could never be close friends with a child abuser, a spouse abuser, an aggressive person, a mean girl.  Yet Richard complained to me that he couldn’t go get coffee with me, as if it were my fault.  Jeff was very angry with Tracy, and often got annoyed with Richard as well over the whole thing.

Three unexplained incidents happened.  I will present only the facts so you can draw your own conclusions.

The first incident, was the five disappearing e-mails.  We were all on the same forum and I would often send Richard private messages that way, about life or issues or books or movies or whatever.

He hadn’t been on the board for a while, so there were five messages waiting for him from me.  This was in early 2008.

I had gone to visit Richard and Tracy; I told him the e-mails were getting backed up and had been waiting for weeks so please check them.  Tracy was sitting next to him at the time.

A day or two afterward, I went on my account and the e-mails had vanished.  They were not in my sent box.  There was no trace of them in the message tracker, which would tell me if they had been read.  Richard said he never got them.

I feared my account had been hacked, and changed the password.  The owner-administrator, Todd, didn’t know what happened; we figured maybe it was our usual board stalker/troll, who had a bug in his butt about Todd and kept causing trouble.

But this guy would get blamed for everything that went wrong there, and I knew of one case (the forum hack) where he was blamed for something Richard did.

Tracy and Richard were both admins on that board.  Richard never got the messages….From what I recall, the messages were about books and some other things, nothing that would cause a wife alarm.  And I never heard of e-mails or any online communication being forbidden, never had any reason to think this.

The second incident, at the end of May and the beginning of June 2010, which was also right after Memorial Day, when Tracy was snarky with me about my backpack, and then in the following few weeks she continued to be snarky in response to posts I made on Facebook, and also there was lots of drama between her, Richard and the children whenever Jeff and/or I would visit–

All of a sudden, Richard’s Facebook account had blocked me and hers had unfriended me.  I don’t remember if Jeff had been unfriended by her account, but he was not blocked from either.

I kept trying to send her friend requests, but they didn’t seem to be getting through–some weird glitch, I thought, due to Facebook doing a major change in privacy settings.

I’d see “Awaiting Friend Request” keep changing back later on to “Request as Friend.”  So I kept re-sending them.  I certainly had no reason to think she was denying my requests.

Richard told Jeff he certainly wouldn’t have blocked me, and he couldn’t find my account either, so I should look at my account to see if there’s something weird on my privacy settings.

I sent him messages through Jeff’s account, saying that nothing was amiss in my settings.  I also tried setting up a new account with my business e-mail, on June 2, but even then I could see that Richard had an account, but I couldn’t look at his public profile or send him a friend request.

Then a few days later, he discovered he accidentally blocked me somehow, unblocked me, and my latest friend request to Tracy finally resulted in re-friending.  I thought it was because FB changed settings, but I did not have this problem with any of my other FB friends.

The third incident, on September 26, 2010, a few months after the 7/1/10 Incident, my innocent little boy went into Tracy’s cafe on Cafe World on Facebook.  He did stuff to help her out like people can do in their neighbors’ cafes, even after they’ve blocked your account.  (This time, not only was Richard’s account blocked from all three of us, but hers was too for a while.)  The game left traces of my son being there.

The following day, September 27, my son’s account was suddenly shut down.  The message said he was too young, but did not explain how they found out, who told them.  (We kept track of his account, who he friended, his privacy settings, so he was in no danger.  He was there so he wouldn’t keep using his daddy’s account to play Cafe World and the fish game.)

It hurt to hear my little boy cry.  🙁   (I later discovered that this was 6 days after Richard choked his eldest child, and 5 days after that child reported Richard to the police.)

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