false Christianity

Tracy turns jealous of and hostile toward me because I’m an introvert with NVLD

Ever since my conversations with Richard first began two years before, they had been one-on-one.  Our conversations for the past two months had gone on for hours, one-on-one.

There was a dynamic, a shared history of confidences, an understanding between us that made these conversations special.  As a quiet, shy introvert, I could open up in a way I couldn’t when more people were added.

Introversion includes a preference for one-on-one conversations, and hating small talk.  It also means you have trouble contributing to conversations with more people because it’s hard to process, think what you want to say, and then find a spot to say it, before the conversation has moved on.

It has nothing to do with our intelligence, willingness to speak, or what we think of the others in the conversation.  It is, rather, how our brains are wired:

Our brain processes require us to think before speaking, going through our long-term memories for experiences and knowledge to find something to say.  Extroverts think as they speak, using short-term memory.

It takes longer to go through the long-term memory.  So small talk makes us very quiet, while an in-depth, interesting conversation inspires us to speak a lot more.

Now, you may say, if introverts have to take extra time to think of something to say, then why are your brains so quick in this case?

It’s simple: If we are already interested in a topic, then we study it and think about it a lot, so we already know what to say.  If we don’t already know about a topic, then we have very little to pull from our experiences or knowledge, so there is very little to say.

The same goes for questions put to us by significant others or friends: Since this question has only just been put to us, we need time to examine it, and figure out what we think about it and the best way to answer it.

I have had people get upset with me for not answering yet, when they haven’t even given me a chance to think it over first.  This is very annoying for an introvert, so stop doing that.

But Richard told Jeff that I needed to “push” myself.  Uh, no.  That reminds me of my second-grade teacher (I loved her otherwise because she was awesome, but this one thing annoyed me):

She complained that I did not participate enough in class.  That’s because I didn’t always know the answer.  One day I was in a little circle with the “smart” group; she asked us for types of construction equipment.

I said nothing because I was into “girl” things, like dolls and Cinderella, and had no clue what types of construction equipment there were.  But she kept saying, “Raise your hand, Nyssa!  Raise your hand!”

What was I supposed to say if I raised my hand–“I have no clue and don’t have an answer for you”?

That’s exactly how I feel if somebody–such as Richard–tries to push and force me into a conversation when I have nothing to say.

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days…..

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers.

That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.)

Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ. —Carl King, 10 Myths About Introverts

So I resented it when Richard kept trying to make these into three-way conversations with Tracy, whose judgment, temper and humor I began to find questionable.  The more I saw of her temperament, the less I wanted to open up to her.  She put me off with crass humor.  She also seemed to be very reactionary when someone disagreed with her, and conservative where I was liberal.

For example, she ripped on my priest for saying that their marriage had to be blessed in the Orthodox Church before they could take the Eucharist.  She made all sorts of disrespectful and nasty comments about him, such as not listening to an “old man.”  But this was an Orthodox requirement which somehow had been neglected after their conversion, so she was extremely unfair to this wonderful priest.

She also decided she hated my church and wanted nothing to do with it, because somebody told her there was a children’s area in the basement where she could take the kids when they get noisy.

(In fact, even though Richard loved my church when it was just him and me going, they both now came up with all sorts of reasons why they didn’t like my church, and chose a different church two counties away.  My church is full of lovely people and has an awesome, wise priest.)

For another example, I felt comfortable talking with Richard about things that turned me off about fundamentalist Protestantism, such as the rejection of science.  Some time long before, he and I looked over an Orthodox website which said that the obsession with Creationism was not Orthodox.  But I mentioned this in front of Tracy one day, and she just went off on me.

Also on the Forum once, I posted some link that said the Catholic church was not concerned with biblical literalism, which to me showed that even the ancient Churches aren’t strict about this like Protestant Fundamentalists.  I meant it as a refreshing change from what I’d grown up with, but she railed against the Catholic Church for this.

Richard had a far different view, from what I could see.  Apparently she thinks that Christians must reject evolution (and global climate change) despite all evidence that it is true.  I was not comfortable discussing religious issues with her after that.

Then–after all that insistence on biblical literalism–she supported shooting illegal immigrants on sight!  Richard and I both found such a policy morally abhorrent–him because he once was told to do just that as a border guard, and was scarred by it.  (At least, so he says, though I have trouble finding supporting evidence for such a policy.)

My participation in three-way conversations was already limited because they kept going on about subjects I found boring, and because it was much harder for me to break in when two other people were talking.

But it was even more limited because I didn’t want her knowing my private thoughts.  In the beginning I told her private things, but a few weeks later, I no longer trusted her enough to do that.

I kept telling Richard I wanted some one-on-one conversations, not just three-ways, but he just didn’t get it.  I resented being forced into friendship with someone I found abrasive, whom I witnessed verbally abusing him and the kids.  I told him, “I have to choose my own confidantes.”  But it just kept falling on deaf ears, and I resented that.

How could he even think our awesome conversations should start including a third person?  We could have three-way everyday conversations, but there was no way our special, hours-long, in-depth conversations were going to happen with a third person.

That destroyed the dynamic, the mutual trust, the similar interests and backgrounds.  Did he want to ruin them?  My husband didn’t even try to get in the middle of our conversations, but went to the basement (where the computer is) so we could talk.

It seemed Richard was one of those extroverts who think introverts should be just like them, that being introverted is somehow a fault that has to be corrected, rather than a different way of processing social situations.  He often gave unasked-for advice that might work for him, but not for me.

The more is not the merrier: Not for me, anyway. If we make plans, please, please don’t invite other people to join us–at the very least, check with me first.

Introverts usually prefer one-on-one to groups and I’m bummed when the nice cozy visit I anticipated turns into a convivial racket. –Dr. Irene S. Levine, The Inside Scoop on Your Introvert Friends

I had no idea yet that Tracy actually required me to be an extrovert, to be Chatty Cathy with her all day long, along with socializing with her at night.

I CAN’T STAND SITTING ON MY BUTT FOR HOURS ON END WITH NOTHING TO DO BUT SOCIALIZE.  It drives me absolutely batty.  Except, maybe, for Richard or my mother or catching up with some girl friend from college.  But these are people with whom I already have an established rapport and can keep up my end without trouble.

Even after she had been in my house for days, and I no longer could put off housework, and needed a quiet place to recharge, away from all these people.

I had no idea that otherwise she would not “approve” my friendship with Richard, would not consider me her friend despite how I put myself out to help her, would see every move I made as a move on her husband.

While if I were an extrovert, she would “approve” me instantly and I could go to the bar and grill with Richard, could chat with him alone for hours, could even put my head on his shoulder and she’d consider it cute and join in.

Even though she did indeed approve me within the first few days, and called me her friend, now she and Richard claimed she never approved me.  I was so bewildered and angry by this, that I did not call them out on this big, fat, obvious lie.

It was my first red flag warning that they were manipulative, emotional cons, liars, doublespeakers and users–but I did not catch it.  Down the rabbit-hole with me!

But when I found out about her secret rules, I resented that Tracy began treating me like I was out to steal her husband because I wanted to continue having one-on-one conversations with him, as I had been allowed to do for the past two years without anyone even suggesting this was “wrong” or “inappropriate.”

Because I wanted to go to the bar and grill with him, as I had been allowed to do for the past two months without anyone even suggesting this was “wrong” or “inappropriate.”

This constant insistence that I turn into Chatty Cathy with her (when it’s neurologically impossible for me to open up and be chatty with mean, abusive people), or else she would continue being hostile toward me and treating me like the Other Woman, infuriated me over the next couple of years.

It also enraged my husband.  Both of us constantly complained to each other about her ingratitude, treating me like this when I had allowed her into my home for six weeks, and never threw her out, even though she forced herself into my house and was constantly rude to me.

Extroverts tell us to change, and the abusive types punish us and treat us like stubborn creeps for not changing.  But introverts cannot change our behavior.  This is the way our brains work, and the reason we are able to come up with creative ideas and works of art.

If we needed lots of social time like extroverts, and found it rejuvenating instead of draining, then we would not have enough alone time to write or invent.

Also, in February 2008, Richard claimed that he saw me ignore her attempts to make conversation, or saw me get up when she sat down.  But I recalled no such attempts, so for all I knew, he was making this up to gaslight me.

I suggested that my NVLD kept me from recognizing these attempts, since I could not remember them, and had no idea what she had supposedly done or said that was my cue to converse.

Also, when I got up, maybe I had to do something.  Or maybe I was so angry with her for some recent incident of hostility, jealousy or abuse, that I did not want to be around her right then.  Or maybe they were driving me crazy with the PDAs and I just wanted to be by myself for a bit.

It felt like even my right to choose my own company was now supposed to be under Tracy’s control.  Who the heck was she (or he) to tell me who my friends should be, or when I should hang out with someone?

In just a few weeks after she moved into my house, I felt a distinct jealous vibe off Tracy.  She began to hover.  If I sat next to Richard as he played on the basement computer, ten minutes later, there was Tracy.

I felt treated like a homewrecker for wanting to spend more than ten minutes just sitting down and having a nice chat with my best friend and roommate, as I had grown accustomed to.

She stared daggers at Richard or angrily whacked him on the arm if he dared to have a conversation alone with me, or do any number of things–WHAT things he did wrong, I had no idea.

I also had no idea just how bad it could be until one day I asked Richard to talk to me by himself about some things.  It had been a few weeks since I last spoke to just him.  Tracy was right there, so it was not sneaky.  It seemed to me like a simple, ordinary request.  He decided to take me with him to get cigarettes.  Again, seemed simple and ordinary to me.

Then Richard said as we pulled out of the driveway that she was staring daggers at him.  That surprised and baffled me.  I said, “Why?”  He said she feared we were going to talk about her.

Her ridiculous behavior shocked me.  It had nothing to do with her, but we ended up talking about her anyway because of her jealous reaction.  I don’t think I got much time to talk about what I really wanted to talk about.  I don’t recall if I had noticed her jealousy towards me just yet, or if that was just beginning to catch my notice.

I also felt largely ignored by Richard, like my days were just housework and sleep and no joy or relaxation, in a crowded, noisy house with no way to get peace.

My routine was simple and, as an NLDer, I did not like deviations: housework, personal grooming and childcare in the morning/afternoon, my time on the computer for a couple of hours around the time my son took a nap and Jeff came home, then evenings for relaxing and–with these people here–socializing.  (That meant about six hours every night spent socializing with Richard and Tracy.)

(I’ve mentioned a forum through which Richard, Tracy, Todd and I all met.  I’ll call it The Forum to make things easy.)

The housework had to get done, especially with all the extra people and all the children running around.  I did not want their health compromised by playing in a basement covered in cat puke/kitty litter, for example.

My child’s Pull-Ups had to be changed, since potty training abruptly stopped when everyone moved in.

And, as an introvert, I desperately needed time to myself in the basement (the “Dungeon”) on the computer.  I needed that time to myself to recharge, to get my computer time before Jeff’s time on it began, to e-mail my mom, to check in at the Forum and an Orthodox forum, to complain on a Goth Christian forum about the noise, and to get away from all the children’s noise and Tracy’s annoying, grating, constantly yelling voice.  Otherwise, I would go mad.

I had no clue that attending to my household and recharging in a quiet corner, was taken by Tracy as a personal, unforgivable, inexcusable offense to her.

That a host doing what a host must do, especially when guests stay for more than a few days, was an insult that cannot be borne, and proves me to be a loose woman of bad character who must never be allowed to be alone with her husband.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  That’s because it IS ridiculous.  Yet I was forced to accept it as a universal rule that EVERYBODY knows, even those with learning disorders.

I was often upset with Tracy because of her screaming at the kids all day long, or being mean to Richard, though I kept my mouth shut to her about it.  Meanwhile, Tracy began making occasional snarky and jealous-sounding remarks to me.

During the two months it was just Richard, he occasionally took me to the nearby bar and grill for ice cream, where we talked until closing time.

One day near Christmas, I e-mailed him through the Forum (the only way I could say anything private to him anymore) that I was going crazy, that every time I tried to talk to him it was cut off, and asked him to please go to the bar and grill to get some ice cream with me like we used to.  This way we could take a break, get away from all the people and sit and talk privately.

It seemed like a simple, ordinary request to me.

I asked him again later in person because he hadn’t responded, but he said no, and it sounded like we wouldn’t for some time.  I don’t remember now what all he said, just that it made me feel like spending time with me no longer mattered much to him.  Tracy came upstairs.  I went over to do the dishes, but couldn’t control my tears, so I had to rush off to bed so they wouldn’t see me cry.

The next morning, I cried to Jeff in our bedroom that I felt like the friend (me) was being tossed aside now that the wife was here.

When Richard was here alone, he wanted to spend most of his time with me and talk with me, kept me up till three in the morning chattering away about anything and everything, showed me Goth music videos on the Net, told me I was the most awesome person he knew, and we told each other everything that was going on in our lives.

But now he didn’t seem to care if I was alive.

In fact, most evenings, while Jeff was on the computer in the Dungeon and I was socializing, it felt like Richard and Tracy constantly ganged up on me, making jabs at me, criticizing me, making fun of me.

They often did this after they moved out, too, when Jeff wasn’t there, so I hated it whenever she came along with him when he stopped over.  I remember mentioning this once or twice in an e-mail to Richard.

Then they’d get all cuddly and kissy on the couch while I sat on the other end of it, feeling extremely uncomfortable (like I always do when people get all PDA around me).

I often felt like a third wheel in my own house, like I wasn’t welcome, not just during the cuddling but wherever Tracy was.  Richard once asked me to join them in a card game in the basement, but I got a distinct impression that Tracy didn’t want me there.

I felt unwelcome in my own house, like Tracy wanted to tell me where I could and could not be in my own house!

The insults began coming, fiercer all the time; I felt closely watched; I had no moment’s peace.  I couldn’t even take Richard out of the house for a ten-minute private conversation without her getting angry.  Tracy had been okay with Richard moving in with us, and probably knew we were having conversations that lasted for hours.

Why was it okay for him to live with us by himself for two months, and spend hours talking with me every day, but now that she was here, he couldn’t spend ten minutes talking with me?

Why was it okay for him to take me out for ice cream while he lived here by himself, but now that she was here, it was horrendously disrespectful of me to even think of such a thing?  (I’m not sure when, but I eventually discovered she was the one who said we couldn’t do this.)

It was like putting the cart before the horse.  It was completely illogical and irrational, and baffling.  But things really began to escalate around Christmas and New Year’s.  I did not know why, because no one had explained anything, and all I saw was this increasingly hostile person who kept yelling at and bullying everybody (except Jeff).

I couldn’t stand the way she talked to Richard, and I kept wanting to stick up for him.  I couldn’t stand the ways she kept cutting him down.  I remembered a thing she had done while they were still separated, a thing I won’t tell here but which had filled me with so much empathy and sympathy for Richard that I broke down in tears on his behalf.  I wondered how anyone could do that to him, and hadn’t forgiven her for it.

One day Richard would agree with me that Tracy’s treatment of him wasn’t right–that she was too jealous, needed to let him have time with his friends, ordered him around–when he had a few minutes while she was out of the room.

(This is when I began writing this page, trying to figure out why one spouse would require another to spend all his time with her and not with friends, why someone would put marriage so high up there that having friends seems completely unimportant.  It eventually grew to include the problems with jealousy.)

Then another day he would excuse and justify her behavior and get mad at me for being mad at her nasty and controlling behavior.

I felt like she was steamrolling all over me, and he let her do it, like she could do no wrong no matter how horribly she treated people.

Sometimes I wonder if his defenses of her were not because he really believed I was wrong, but because she’d beaten him into submission verbally and/or physically, because he’d be punished if he didn’t agree with her and stick up for her no matter what crap she was pulling or how badly she treated me.

Even if she was a guest in my home, even if I was her benefactress at great personal and financial expense.

Basically, she bullied me and discriminated against me for having different brain wiring than hers, and for needing to take care of household business and have time to myself during a six-week home invasion.

She also bullied me because I wanted to spend time with my BFF, with whom I had bonded over two years of friendship and two months of him staying in my house, while I was naturally shy with her, as I am with everyone when I first meet them.

I believe that borderline personality disorder drove her to see insults where none existed, and that narcissism led her to continue insisting there were insults even when the truth was explained.

I believe that the need of abusers to control their victims, led to her insisting on her being right even when she was wrong, because she soon discovered that I saw her as abusing her husband and children.  After all, if her husband listened to me and saw it, too, then he might leave, and borderlines are deathly afraid of abandonment.

Also, keep in mind that I did not know all her “reasons” yet.  I write this from the perspective of what I learned over two years of dealing with her, things which were not revealed to me until later.

All I knew at this time was that she wanted to know me better.  Not only did I think that spending 24/7 in a house with someone for several weeks was plenty long enough to get to know somebody, but I spent six hours each evening socializing with her.

After they moved out, I thought she’d finally be okay with me, only to find that she still wasn’t satisfied.  In August I thought for sure she knew me well enough by now and was past this, only to find that she was not.  But then shortly after, she did okay me finally.

Then in 2009 I thought this was long in the past, only to find that she had removed her approval at some unknown time.

At first, I thought she just wanted to know me better.  But then in June 2009 I was required to have a certain kind of conversation with her.  So one day I did so, and thought that settled it, that she had a conversation like that with me (again) and could relax.  (It was weird, because Tracy told Richard that had never happened before, even though it DID happen back in early December 2007.)

Then I was told all the horrible things I supposedly did during her stay here, but I apologized and heard from Richard, shortly thereafter, that all the restrictions were gone and everything was fine.

Then in July 2010, she once again acted like she never had a conversation with me, never approved me, never removed her restrictions.

And now she demonstrated that it was my introverted nature that ticked her off so much, that it was impossible to satisfy her because she required my very personality be changed before she’d approve my friendship with Richard.

But not only that, but this is what she grabbed onto as a reason to give me, while the real reason was that I became more outspoken about how she and Richard were both abusing their kids.

So she had to make up offenses that did not exist, and pretend she never approved me, to justify her narcissistic rage against me–and push me away before I reported them to CPS.  I base this on events that happened in 2010, as you will see here and here.

It was maddening, narcissistic crazy-making!  The only way I can explain such behavior from her, is that she did it deliberately because (as you will soon discover) she knew that I saw her as abusing her husband and children.  And if Richard didn’t go along with it, saying and doing all the right things, he would get punished.

From Oscar Wilde’s “Portrait of W.H.”:

Of course it is a hypothesis, but then it is a hypothesis that explains everything, and if you had been sent to Cambridge to study science, instead of to Oxford to dawdle over literature, you would know that a hypothesis that explains everything is a certainty.

And yes, this hypothesis explains everything.

The parts about not feeling “welcome” because I followed my schedule of housework and computer during the day, and personally insulted because as an introvert I had to carve out time to myself every day to recharge, that was not revealed to me until a year and a half later!

So I had no chance to explain what was really going on, until she dug in her heels and refused to budge an inch.

I also had no idea that I was required to carry on long conversations with her like an extrovert and share secrets with her and be best buds with her.  I just thought that spending every night socializing with her for SIX HOURS should be plenty for her to get to know me, and that insisting on more was being controlling and petty.

I also felt that she put far too much pressure on me, trying to force me to talk when I didn’t know what to say.  I felt that if she wanted so badly to chat with me and get to know me, then she needed to stop being so nasty to everybody:

Stop hovering over Richard, stop pressuring me, stop snarking at me, stop screaming at the kids, stop being possessive and controlling with Richard, stop smacking him and picking at him and ordering him around.

I’m also trying to recreate the events of 2007 in an easily digestible manner, and without remembering everything that happened (having shredded much of my records of it in early 2008).  So keep in mind that our discussions/arguments on this issue, had not yet happened when the next sections occurred.

Isolation

  • limiting outside involvement
  • making another avoid people/friends/family by deliberately embarrassing or humiliating them in front of others

Emotional and Mental Abuse

  • putting another down/name-calling
  • making another feel as if they are crazy in public or through private humiliation
  • unreasonable jealousy and suspicion
  • playing mind games

Intimidation

  • making another afraid by using looks/actions/gestures

Using Privileges (perceived or cultural)

  • treating another like a servant
  • acting like the master or queen of the castle

Physical Abuse

Isolation
Abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially. Geographic isolation includes moving the victim from her friends, family and support system (often hundreds of miles); moving frequently in the same area and/or relocating to a rural area.

Social isolation usually begins with wanting the woman to spend time with him and not her family, friends or co-workers. He will then slowly isolate her from any person who is a support to her. He dictates whom she can talk to; he tells her she cannot have contact with her friends or family. —Warning Signs of an Abuser

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Houseguests From Hell

This is not a hotel, nor is it a large house.  The only place we had for the two adults was the basement floor in sleeping bags; they didn’t want that.  So one slept on the couch while the other was in a sleeping bag on the living room floor.  Our house is plenty big enough for the three of us, but the living room is far too small for furniture and a sleeping bag.

The three children squeezed into my child’s twin bed while he squeezed in with my husband and me–making it hard to sleep, and giving me the ever-present dread of a wet bed.  There was no privacy for the adults.

We only have one full and one half bath; the bathrooms, to allow for more living space, are very small.

The basement was half full with our storage, and only half finished, with a painted floor and a vent from the furnace.  We “finished” it with dirt-cheap Wal-Mart rugs and some furniture to make a computer room/library.  I sweep, vacuum and dust it regularly, and vacuum it out once a year to get rid of webs.  It works for us, but there was no place to accommodate guests except on the floor.

I don’t know why on earth Richard did not listen to me and either keep them with his mother, or find a cheap motel to stay in.

Richard talked so much of Tracy’s emotional and verbal abuse while he lived alone with us, that for me to hear all this constantly, hear all the horrible things she was doing to him and the children, and then be expected to just accept her into my home with open arms and befriend her–Richard was in denial.

But I gave it my best shot anyway, hoping the abuse would end and she and I could be friends.

I had no idea I was being evaluated when Tracy and I first met and made acquaintance, since I don’t do that with my husband’s friends.

I thought we got along quite well, in fact.  I suggested that Richard buy her flowers when he met her at the airport.  I was very welcoming.  I smiled and chatted with her.

I was uneasy because of what Richard told me, but made my best effort to be friends with her anyway.  I told Richard we were getting along just fine.

I asked Jeff, who got coupons to fancy restaurants through work, if we could share one or two with Richard and Tracy so they could have a nice date.  All this to befriend her and to help her and Richard resolve their differences.

When we were alone together while I was stuck on the couch, too sick with a stomach bug to do housework, we had long conversations, and I confided one or two girly secrets in Tracy.  I asked her if Richard told the truth in his outlandish stories, but she didn’t seem to know.

I asked her to buy me some Coke from the corner grocery store because I needed fluids; somebody called her cell phone; she smiled at me as she told the caller that she was going out to do a favor for “a friend.”

So you see, she officially called me her friend within a very short time.  Which means I passed her private test.

But shortly afterward, she forgot these things ever happened, and treated me as if I never had a long conversation with her, never confided in her, never was her friend.  How soon she changed history and made Richard believe it!

By the way, I got sick quite often while they lived in my house.

One evening, when only Richard lived here, I had been feeling fine when all of a sudden I moved my head a certain way and got overcome with dizziness.  My eyes went back and forth, back and forth; I couldn’t control them; I now knew what it meant for the earth to spin around and around.  Eventually, I threw up.

Such a thing had never happened to me before and I had no other symptoms of illness, so at first we all thought I was pregnant.  (He said, “How will it look, Richard comes here and Nyssa gets pregnant!”  I about choked on something when he said that.)

Richard was very worried and attentive and Jeff put me in his care while out of the house–another reason I felt that Richard and I had bonded and become very close friends during these two months.

Then the vertigo left as mysteriously as it came, returning every now and then for the next year, with no other symptoms of illness, though not as intense as the first time.  Even cleaning out my left ear caused me to cough so hard I nearly threw up at least once.

I never knew what caused it, if it was a bug, if I had developed a medical problem, what.  I went to the doctor during one episode; he said it was probably an inner ear issue.  He saw no reason to do further tests, though I could see a specialist if I wanted to.  I took some medication and ginger pills.  Then the vertigo stopped bothering me, leaving just as mysteriously as it came.

Also, right after Tracy and the kids moved into the house, they brought in a nasty stomach bug.  Then another stomach bug went around the house a short time later.

I already expected the occasional illness from my young son picking things up at Sunday School.  But all these illnesses coming in such a short time, and all the same kind–stomach bugs, even the grownups throwing up–made me suspect poor sanitation.

I began cleaning the doorknobs every time a child used the toilet, and asking them if they washed their hands.  It was exhausting and disgusting to keep cleaning doorknobs and toilets, but the stomach bugs stopped going around.

I also–as the one washing the towels–noted their distinct lack of regular showers.  The house was saran-wrapped for the winter, so I couldn’t even crack a window.  I sprayed a lot of Febreze.

The filth described above–my own house began turning into this, as hard as I tried to fight it back.  I had to clean up after everyone who used the bathroom, because they didn’t do it themselves, and that got GROSS.

I spent day and night cleaning, doing laundry, and running the dishwasher.  Richard left his cigarette butts all over the parking lot.

We couldn’t afford to feed them, yet got no financial help, and then they complained about the food and how I ran the house.  They violated every rule of houseguest etiquette, and showed very little sign of trying to get full-time jobs or their own place.

They made me feel like sh** for going about my normal, everyday routine, taking care of business, and carving out time for myself.

Tracy considered it a personal offense to her, for me to try to get back to normal life, have clean towels/clothes/dishes, keep my son in clean diapers, and take a break from all the noise and crowding that went on for weeks.

I only did what any host would do, must do, with guests who stayed for more than a few days with no sign of leaving.

But she punished me for this through passive-aggression, forcing me over the years to jump through hoops to get her approval to be friends with her husband, giving her approval and then taking it back again and again without word or warning, smearing me to others, raging at me for imaginary offenses, and then claiming that she “owed” me nothing–not even apologies or kind treatment.

(Actually, they “owe” me well over $2000 for damages, food, utilities and various other things.  Kindness and hospitality were the only reasons I never presented them with a bill.  In other words, I was a sucker.)

I was also punished for being naturally shy around her (especially after her fangs came out), but wanting to spend time with my BFF, to whom I had grown close over the past couple of months.

Well, excuse me for caring about and wanting to spend time with my best friend!  I did nothing wrong here!

I finally gave up on vacuuming the living room, longing for the day when they would move out and clear that filthy mound of dirty clothes off my floor.  And of course, there were the cockroaches and lice they brought into the house.

At first, I thought Tracy and I were indeed friends.  I told Richard that when they found their own place, I wanted to visit her one day and him another day.  I did not notice her abusing the children or Richard.

But then little things started happening here and there.  First, one morning as we got out of the car at church, she screamed at her oldest (who was 6), “You tucked your pantlegs into your boots?  You know how to dress!  That’s tacky!”  The shrill tone of her screams was bizarre for what this poor girl did.

I mean, come on, the girl, who was now enrolled in a nearby school, probably saw all her classmates do the same thing.

I took it as personally insulting because I know how to dress, I’d been tucking my pantlegs into my snowboots for 34 years, and nobody ever called it “tacky.”  Everybody does that around here out of practical necessity, because it protects your pantlegs from the snow and mud, and your legs from the wind.

That poor girl had done just what she was supposed to do, but got screamed at and belittled for it.

I mentioned it to Richard that night, asking him to calm her down and get her to ease up on the poor child, because that’s how we wear boots here.  He already knew that the place where he grew up (no snow there) and this region have different ways of wearing boots.

He also said that I witnessed what his own family complained about, Tracy picking at the children.

Soon after, I began hearing Tracy scream at the kids all day long.  During the six weeks she lived with us, then the following two years, I witnessed her tirades, online and off.  I also recalled her rants on the Forum before she ever moved in.

Video Number Two made me think of Tracy, the way she goes off on people.  I heard her scream at the kids like this, only around me she kept out the cussing; I have it documented that she cussed at them, too.  Sometimes it frightened me; sometimes it angered me.

This is what I mean by screaming, not “scolding,” not even “yelling.”  Screaming like this is indeed child abuse.  I’ve also heard her scream at Richard like this.

I’ve heard her scream at others like this, only with all that cussing included for adults.  Her online tirades, both to me and to Todd, were exactly like this.

In fact, this video is indeed triggering me a bit, as the blogger warns can happen.  Not just the tirades, but the hitting, because I saw Tracy smack her kids around, and because Richard told me she almost killed me once.

(In the comments to the above blog post, I wrote about Tracy stalking my blog.  The blogger responded, “The fact she stalks your blog tells me she knows the truth, and hates the fact you tell it.”)

I’ve heard other parents yell at their kids, but not normally like this.  My mother yelled on occasion, but she sure never sounded like this.  It just is not right!  Screaming like this severely damages people, no matter how old they are, or what their relation to you.

Her very voice grated on my nerves so much that even a few years later, it still was like fingernails on a chalkboard whenever she even raised her voice at the kids.

(I couldn’t tell you if her voice aggravated me because of NLD making me more sensitive to loud noises and yelling, or because it would aggravate anybody, but the NLD certainly didn’t help.)

And the yelling and screaming seemed to happen every two minutes, often for reasons I couldn’t fathom.  It seemed the kids weren’t even allowed to act like kids!

I became convinced that she was at the very least a verbal abuser of her children and Richard, because I saw and heard it constantly.

On December 17, 2007, I wrote in an e-mail to my mother,

I already heard that Tracy can be hard on the kids at times, and I’ve seen some of it.  It seems her mom was emotionally abusive, her dad was abusive in other ways, and when she and the kids stayed with them the past few months, she started acting like her mom.

Richard and I really hope that being away from there, and around Jeff, Richard and me, will influence her away from that.  Poor Richard tries to get her to stop doing something, then gets an earful.

But I’m trying to look past that and remember that he loves her, he married her, so I can’t just judge her and reject her.  [Proving that I also made a good-faith effort to befriend her.]

She kept ordering around and making fun of and trying to control Richard.  He seemed like such a great person to me, yet she kept treating him like dirt and cutting him down.  She even said one of the children was cuter than he was, when with his weight and health problems, he needed his wife to say he was handsome.

She accused him of not wanting to spend time with his family, of staying away from the house just to get away from them, when for two months I saw how sad he was at being separated from them.

Then a few weeks in, she began to act jealous and hostile toward me.  I had no idea why, after all I had done for her and her family, and how nice I had been to her, even though she and her children invaded my house without my okay.

I had no idea how she could justify behaving this way toward her benefactress and hostess.  Didn’t she realize I could turn her out at any time?

She complained about not knowing me, but after living with me 24 hours a day for weeks, and socializing with me every evening for some six hours, how could she not know me, how could I still be a stranger to her?

This made everyday life in my own house ten times more stressful than it already was with all these people here.  I had nowhere to go to get away from the stress, except for the computer, in a long and bitterly cold winter.

And I had no idea when these invaders were going to leave.  But she even resented and hated me for that temporary respite on the computer, as if I were supposed to slowly boil away in all the stress and constant company.

Yet it wasn’t as if she arrived and I started spending a couple hours hid away on the computer every day.  No, that did not start until days had passed after they all moved in, and they became roommates instead of guests, so my job as hostess had relaxed a bit.

I believe I had already gone through a bout of stomach flu before that happened, so it had to be at least a week, long past the time most hosts would feel obligated to keep a guest entertained.

And I had no idea when they were going to move out.  It was not supposed to be for long, yet they ended up staying six long weeks!

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 finally find my Frodo–who moves in

As a shy, quiet person, I had the occasional friends in school but not always in my neighborhood, so when classes changed and lunch periods changed and the kids around me changed, my friends changed as well.

Since I was verbally bullied for being different from the other kids (somehow weird), I was glad to have these friends, but I longed to have that one friend who would stick with me through life.  Someone to be inseparable (but not lovers) with, like Bill & Ted or Anne & Diana or Frodo & Sam or Ofra HazaAndrew Eldritch or Gus & Shawn.

I made good friends in college who became friends for life, but after college we moved away from each other–separate cities, separate states.  It’s hard to maintain close friendships even when they live an hour away from you, so we’ve relied heavily on e-mail and now Facebook.

I did occasionally see friends who lived about an hour away, and occasionally did things in the SCA while Jeff was more involved in it for a while.

Male or female has never mattered to me.  I have two brothers and no sisters, so I was just as comfortable hanging out with boys as with girls.  Not the athletic type of boy who thinks burps are funny, no.  I mean the smart, geeky ones who watch British TV and play role-playing games.

My husband and I both have had opposite-sex friends, some close, all through our marriage, with no jealousy.

But it had been years since I’d had a close friend who lived right there nearby, when Richard and I became close over the Net and the phone, having met on a forum while I was searching for spiritual truth.

He was impressed by the theological section of my website, and wanted to befriend me.  He said his wife wanted to befriend me too, but I rarely heard from her, no e-mails or phone calls, just a web chat one evening.

I was surprised at how easily I could talk to Richard on the phone, and for hours, because with most people I just can’t do that, preferring face-to-face or e-mail/letters even for my closest friends.

Also, I can only talk on and on with people I “click” with.  That doesn’t happen with just anyone, either.  Jeff, too, found him easy to talk to when I was unable to come to the phone right away.

In those days, Richard called when he said he would, except once–and that time, he apologized and explained later.  (This all changed in 2008.)  He led me into Orthodoxy, where I found my spiritual home, and that’s mostly what we talked about, as I had lots of questions.  He seemed like a cool person.  But he lived far away.

I began going to the local Greek Orthodox church in November 2006, though–deliberately taking my time to make such a huge decision–I didn’t join it officially until January 2009.

I did what I could to connect with people there during coffee hour, but had to deal not only with my shyness but with the language barrier: Most of the parishioners spoke English just fine, but many of them spoke and understood very little English.  Also, most of them were much older than I was.

One morning during Divine Liturgy, in a fit of loneliness, I prayed that God would please send me a friend.  Just a short time later–within a few months, I believe–Richard e-mailed me that he needed a new place to live, and I suggested my hometown.  He hadn’t expected that, and was surprised to find how promising my hometown would be.

This was early fall 2007.  His wife and children were thousands of miles away with her parents while he cleared out their house, from which they’d been evicted.  He had no job, and hated the area.  He had no hope and nowhere to go.

He was grateful to me because he actually felt happy now, hopeful.  He checked out the links I sent him about my city, then later in person, and loved the town.

He asked to stay with us for a few days while looking for a job; he began calling at least once a day, talking my ear off so much that my ear actually began ringing.

I already felt bonded with him, that we had a close friendship, even though we never met, because he was the only person (besides my priest and Jeff) to whom I told all the details when my family was shaken up during Lent 2007.

It was a disturbing event, full of embarrassing details, things that had been hidden from me by my family for my entire life.  He and my priest heard them all, but even my college friends didn’t hear them at first.

But he had never told me certain personal details about himself and his life, which now, in September 2007, he began telling me, things which just started pouring out without me prompting him.  I worried a bit about his violent past, and was uncomfortable with some of the things he said, because I felt they should be kept private from most people.

But we’d been on the same forum for about two years, we’d been phone friends for maybe a year or so, Todd (the owner of the forum) had stayed with him twice for a month each time, Richard’s wife was on the same forum, and another poster had been his phone friend for several years and had glowing praises for him, so I figured–hoped–he was safe.  And hoped that he would arrive while Jeff was around, which he did.  The day he arrived was, I believe, around October 5, 2007.

Despite pouring out my soul to a forum friend online, in person for the first time, he or she seems a complete stranger.  So I turn into a turtle, hiding in my shell.

It took me a bit to get used to Richard’s physical presence, to connect the forum guy and the voice on the phone with this hulking stranger in my living room.  We had shared so many things already, I had confided things in him, called him when my family went through a terrible upset–but now he was like a stranger.

He was happy to meet me, but after waiting anxiously for him all day long, now I wanted to run away from him.  Until one afternoon when we started chatting about music, the conversation began to flow, and then we just looked at each other all of a sudden like, “Whoa!”

Everything began coming together and falling into place.  Despite Tracy’s aggressive personality–which he had been telling me about and which I soon began seeing for myself–our families seemed to be blessings and helps for each other over the coming years.

It all seemed to be an answer to prayer, the moving of the Spirit, God’s will for Richard and I to be friends and help each other spiritually and materially.

Richard lived with us for two months, during which time we bonded even more, as I did with two of my college roommates.  There’s just something about living with a person, day in day out, and them being there through all the things you deal with from day to day.  We told each other everything.

Though it wasn’t supposed to drag on for so long, I didn’t mind.  I finally had someone to watch TV with, since Jeff spent most evenings on the computer or watching other things.  I was sure we would be friends for life.  At long last, I had somebody outside of the family to talk to again.

Richard became my family, more like a twin brother moving in than a stranger.  Jeff was not some Neanderthal macho man threatened by this.  He, a far more enlightened being than that, usually spent evenings in the basement so Richard and I could talk.

He trusted us both so much that twice he went out of town overnight, once for work and once for a D&D game in the next county on the same day as a blizzard.

And we were careful not to see each other in undress, yelling out warnings when necessary, since we had no spare bedroom and had to stick him on the couch.  I wore my robe over my nightgown; I wore a tank top under revealing shirts; I never wear low-waist pants or high-waist shirts.

I considered him my best and closest friend.  He was the one I went to about religion.  He’s the one I found to help light my way when I was searching for the True Church, the original doctrines.  He had already found it before I did.

We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches.  We could sympathize with each other about going through contemporary church services.

We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge and interest.  We could discuss the meaning of original sin, or whether River of Fire is a good source of Orthodox doctrine.  We could discuss what it means to experience the Holy Spirit.

I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them.

I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.  I could tell him what led me away from Western doctrines, without feeling judged for turning to “heresies.”

I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things, at least not from the same background, baseline knowledge, amount of interest and same denomination.

I asked him about difficult points of Orthodox doctrine or practices.  I asked him how to forgive people who had hurt me years before.  I lamented to him about Net Orthodoxy and its legalism.

In short, he was my spiritual mentor.

He was the one I always wrote to about interesting church meetings or services.  Who else can I write these things to, who has the same level of interest?  I wrote to him about my church because he was the one who led me there.

And these things led to sharing our life experiences and troubles.  I told him my secrets, and he told me his.  He was my counselor, as I poured out my heart to him about various issues I dealt with, how I’d been bullied growing up, and how I’d been used and abused by college exes.

This included private details which I did not normally tell anyone, because of their nature.  I told him these things because I trusted him completely.

I told him funny stories of things that happened day-to-day, or dreams.  I shared with him thoughts about movies I watched, books I read, life stories.  We talked for hours at a time.

Since he lived with us for a time, he became like an adopted brother, so I could tell him things I didn’t tell other people.  He became “Uncle Rich” to my son.  We could joke back and forth with each other and play off each other so easily that one guy in an IRC chat room said, “I love it when you guys are here!”

We went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy.  And we had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres, 80s, New Wave–yet knew some of the same Christian artists as well.  He had actually been a Goth, while I was interested in Goth culture, and did as much “Gothyness” as I could do in a small city in the Midwest.

Because of our similar backgrounds, we both knew about the Thief in the Night series, Left Behind, and other such things.  We were even the same age, so grew up with the same pop culture.  We both liked watching EWTN.  We were both interested in paranormal investigations.

It seems impossible to replace him.  These elements of our friendship I found especially valuable and important, especially appealing, and these were the reasons I was so attached to his friendship.

I was quite certain, from how he acted and what he said every day, that the feeling was mutual, that we both felt bonded to each other in a special, lasting, close friendship.  I wanted to be like his sister or cousin, to whom he was also this close.

I had no idea he was love-bombing me, bonding me to him emotionally with so much attention and praise that it became addictive.  He must have seen how vulnerable I was, since I so badly needed a friend, so badly wanted that One True Friend.

Even though he lived in my house and I knew his gross and annoying habits, I was so devoted to his friendship that I could overlook this.  He had such charisma that I saw the same bond and devotion in Todd and in Richard’s best friend from his hometown.  I craved his good opinion, and felt devastated when he criticized me.

It wasn’t about a lover: I already had one.  It was about that One True Friend, whom I had always dreamed of, and would think I had found, only one of us had to move away so things drifted off.  I felt my life would not be complete without that One True Friend, that Frodo, in addition to my husband and child.  I was a ready victim:

  • Loneliness. If you’re lonely, your unmet social and emotional needs can create an opening for a psychopath to enter your life. Many lonely people are also bored, which elevates risk.

According to Brown, some victims don’t even know they’re lonely, bored, or living a small, confined life, but the psychopath knows. –Psychopaths & Love, Traits of the Psychopath’s Victim

In this part, I explain about Richard’s claim to have hypnotized me.  I knew nothing of this until 2009, when he told me he used conversational hypnotism to get me to open up with him while he lived here.

He told me Americans are far too reserved, so he gets upset whenever people say Frodo and Sam are gay lovers.  He said it used to be seen as perfectly normal and NOT sexual to hug or hold hands or whatever with friends as well as family members or spouses.

I told him that in the book Two Towers, second in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frodo and Sam held hands, fell asleep cuddled up with each other, and the like, and that’s why I joked about them being lovers.

But he said the fuss in America over Frodo and Sam’s supposed homosexual relationship was silly, that no one would have dreamed they were homosexuals back when the book was written.

Which is true, but also made me more susceptible to Richard breaking down my own physical reserve.  It took me a while just to hug him.

I don’t have a problem with opposite-sex friends innocently flirting: My husband does it, I do it, my geek friends do it, my SCA friends do it, my old co-workers did it.  In time I learned that Richard did it, too, with everybody, including male friends!  My husband and friends also consider it perfectly natural to get crushes now and then, as long as you don’t act on them.

At first, Richard behaved like a prude about innocent flirting, but then he got freer.  One Sunday morning, we visited the brand-new Catholic church building–and he put his head on my shoulder right there in the middle of Mass.  He muttered a playful “sorry” and sat back up.

Then he went in the opposite direction of “prude” one night all of a sudden, after Jeff went to bed.

He didn’t put hands in forbidden zones or try to kiss me or profess undying passion, no, nothing like that.  But he confused me greatly by putting his head in my lap, then on my shoulder.

I was used to flirting with words, such as the occasional double entendre.  Or Richard calling up a female friend right after calling his wife and saying, “Hey, what are you wearing?”  He demonstrated it was all meant in fun.

But this–What was this?  He had also started giving me long, affectionate hugs good-night.

The alarm bells went off.  I wanted a platonic friendship, not an affair; we were getting in too deep!  I finally fled to my room to go to bed and get away from this.

Then the next day and night he went about life like nothing happened, talking about his wife and kids coming to town in a couple of days, etc.

Then the following night he did these things again, making me think, What the heck is going on here?

Then the next day he acted normally again.  I also felt like the scum of the earth for letting him do these things.

So that night I found a way to bring up the “cuddling and flirting,” to confront him about it, get the truth out of him of what the heck he was up to.

But he said, No, it wasn’t cuddling, cuddling is something else, my family/relatives put our heads on each other’s shoulders, I was sleepy, and the teasing wasn’t flirting, it was “playful banter.”

Now I see him as using me for affection after a long, tumultuous period with his wife, but holding back just enough that he could feign innocence when I called him on it later…when he realized I thought he was making moves on me, told him they were freaking me out.

I see him as manipulating me through his covert hypnotism and the trust he gained with me, doing these things when Jeff was not there, preying on my NVLD gullibility–which has also made me susceptible to elaborate hoaxes played on me by exes.  But at the time, I just saw him as a well-meaning bumbler.

But now that I called him out, it was time for him to backtrack: I’m sorry if I violated your boundaries.  No, no, I do those things with my sisters-in-law! cousins! sister!  They’re gestures of friendship and caring!  And those things I said–that was just “playful banter,” not even flirting.  No, we did nothing wrong.  You can look your husband in the eye.  And no, we don’t have to stop doing these things…..

I never would’ve thought of doing these things, with my American and possibly Asperger-ish reserve, if it had not been for Richard mentoring me on how they’re perfectly fine for platonic friends to do.

I was never quite as comfortable with it as he was, but he taught me there was nothing to worry about, and made me feel silly for ever thinking he meant anything more than friendship.  Then I began advocating such things myself.  I discovered the Cuddle Party website:

One problem with finding comforting touch is that if you believe that touch is about sex, then either you are afraid it might lead to sex, or you are afraid it might not lead to sex.  Not so helpful.

We humans need touch and affection. It’s no longer a question. Nurturing, welcome consensual touch is good for you.

Good for your body, heart and spirit. Good for your blood pressure, your nervous system, your emotional health, your ability to connect with and trust people, your ability to respect and care for yourself, your creativity, sense of safety and comfort and belonging.

Infants who are deprived of touch fail to thrive; we never outgrow the need.

Why is it so hard to find? Because for the most part, we think it has to do with sexual relationship, or at least romance, hooking up or ‘attraction’.

What if it just has do with being a human being who cares about other human beings? Kindness, compassion, comfort and nourishment.

Cuddle Party is a movement to reclaim this option in our lives.

I discovered that other cultures and time periods have been freer than our own with nonsexual touch, discovered that I have SCA friends who are just as free with their friends as Richard is with his friends.

We set up some boundaries to stay out of trouble, “forbidden zones” and the like, and agreed that any “playful banter” would be done in platonic friendship only, that any gestures would be in platonic friendship only.  I knew that if he ever tried to kiss me, I’d have to end the friendship right there and then.  I thought that was that.

Oh, by the way (he said the day his wife moved in with us), don’t do these things when she’s around.  She’s very jealous of other women.

Then, of course, when wifey finds out–I don’t know what he told her, but from the way she kept blaming me for everything, I get the impression he didn’t give her the full story, that he was the instigator telling me it was all innocent.  So who gets in trouble?  Me.

It makes me feel like such a naive, gullible fool, putting my trust in his words more than in his actions, which told me something other than what his words said, but for the sake of friendship I chose to believe him and trust him.

I now realize my own blame here was to not call him out on the discrepancies I noted even then (how one day he called it “flirting” then re-named it to “playful banter” when it was convenient for him).  To fail to notice that he didn’t do these things in front of Jeff, that he told me not to do them around Tracy.

But I wanted to believe he was telling me the truth because I didn’t want to be some scumbag cheater.  And you just don’t want to accuse your BFF of lying to you.

I wanted a One True Friend, not a lover, did not want to turn my beautiful friendship into a stinky, dirty, filthy affair.  I did not want to be barred from the Eucharist through carnal relations with the one who led me to the Eucharist in the first place.

He was not sexually attractive, with his repulsive hygiene (bathing every two or three days) and morbid obesity.  But we had a connection of the mind and spirit, a rare jewel of friendship, the Platonic ideal and philia.

Oscar Wilde also discusses this ideal in his Portrait of W.H. (pages 62-67 in this copy, near the end of part II of the full text).  He explains that Renaissance thinkers resurrected the Platonic ideal of friendship, and used terms for their bosom friends that made Victorian readers think they were lovers, even though they were not.

The lack of Frodo/Sam-type friendships in modern American society is described here:

Why is The Lord of the Rings such a powerful myth? Why did the final installment earn almost half a billion dollars in its first eighteen days?

Because all of us want the fellowship illustrated in the films. Because we want relationships that last. Because we want to feel super-glued to family and friends, like the glue that bound Sam and Frodo. Because we want involvement. Because we want shared creativity and wonder, because we want loyalty and commitment.

And yet we don’t have this feeling. Oh, if we are lucky we have it in one relationship, maybe a spouse. But in general we don’t have it.

In general we tend to be atoms bouncing around the eternal void, occasionally bumping into another atom, exchanging a curse or a smile.

Ought we not create our own Fellowship of The Ring? Ought we not create relationships that will last a lifetime? Ought we not build delightful things, even at some risk to ourselves? Ought we not discover something with ourselves that demands eternal loyalty and commitment?

I thought Richard was that kind of friend for me.

I wanted to believe we were simply expressing caring for each other as just friends.  I didn’t realize his instructions to not do them around Tracy gave them a dirty tinge.  I believed him, and saw nothing wrong with giving him the same gestures that I would to my son.

I did not do to him gestures that I only do to my husband, did not do the kinds of cuddling I only do with my husband or son.  No, for us “cuddling” meant sleeping on a shoulder, with arms folded only around yourself.  Like in a recent viral Internet picture in which a man let a tired stranger sleep on his shoulder on a subway train.  Or John sleeping on Jesus’ shoulder during the Last Supper (John 13:23-25).

It was sweet, innocent, a beautiful symbol of platonic friendship, which Americans could do well to adopt, instead of labeling it “gay” or “inappropriate.”  We had distinct boundaries in place.

So I thought we were safe and everything would be fine.  However, he needed to move out soon, before anything did happen.

But moving in his family was not the answer: No, he finally had a job now, and should have saved up a down payment, then moved out immediately after.  You know, like we planned all along.

But then one day, he told me the plans had changed and his family was coming to stay at our little condo.  !!!!

You may already have noted that I am much like Anne Shirley.  I always identified with her inner life: full of romantic ideals and loyalty, expressive on paper even if (unlike Anne) I am not in speech, willing to tell my friends I love them and how much they mean to me, identifying kindred spirits and longing for a Bosom Friend.

One of my friends, Mike from my college memoirs, believes we should say “I love you” to anyone–friends, co-workers–without fear that it’s somehow “inappropriate.”  I also identify with Marianne in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

While Tracy was always angry at somebody or something, always ready to fight.  Whenever I picture her, her face is twisted in fury as she yells and screams or hits.  Tracy does not understand people like me.  She is not a kindred spirit.

Here are articles written by people who believe that physical affection between platonic friends is not wrong at all–not even if your friend puts his head in your lap.  So no, it’s not wrong to behave this way with a friend, just different from the current culture:

Platonic Love and its Revealing Secrets

Is Flirting Cheating?

Touch Much: Why is Platonic Affection so Taboo?

 

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 was Sam in search of a Frodo, Anne in search of a Diana

Richard said he wanted a friend like Sam was to Frodo on Lord of the Rings, so I told him I would be.  Finally I had a close friend in my own city whom I could see often, talk to often, someone who could get my normally quiet self to talk for hours, someone to understand me.

We had deep discussions, not about the weather but about music, religion, life experiences, movies, subcultures such as Goth (which he’d been heavily into while I had been interested in it), cultural attitudes, all sorts of things.

Because of my shyness, introversion and NVLD, and moving far from friends or family, it has been hard for me to make lasting friends in this city.  I used to make geek friends through local BBS‘s, but the Internet rose and the BBS’s died.  I changed jobs and churches; friends had squabbles and I became collateral damage.

I had always wanted a friend like Frodo/Sam or Anne/Diana or Bill/Ted, that one bosom friend who is closer to you than any other platonic friend, who wants to be with you all the time, but who is NOT your spouse or in any way a sexual partner.  Finally, I found that Friend.

But then his wife got jealous of me and within a few years, it all fell apart.  I thought Richard cared enough to have my back, since he said I was very dear to him, and showed in various ways that he loved me like a sister.

But in many things, he didn’t seem to want to understand me.  He let his wife tease me for being different and bully me for being quiet.  He refused to listen when both Jeff and I tried to explain my shy, quiet, introverted personality, that he was too hard on me.

In the moment of testing, he let me down.  Majorly.  He became my Judas.

So here I am alone again, wondering if I’ll ever have a friend like (I thought) he was again, someone who doesn’t live two or three hours away.  It may have to be a socially inept or shy person, like I usually befriend, rather than an outgoing extrovert like Richard, the type who thinks that everyone can be just like him.

I hope it’ll be a woman, so I don’t have to deal with a jealous wife again, but finding a woman who’s into the same music I like, is into Orthodox theology and has grown up in the Fundamentalist/ Evangelical subculture–that could be hard.

No, I don’t want to hear about the evils of opposite-sex friendships, because it’s a bunch of BS.  We’re liberated Gen-Xers; trust is a virtue.  I treat the topic in greater detail here, along with flirting, displays of affection between friends, and jealousy.

My husband was perfectly fine with our friendship, was glad whenever I got a chance to chat with Richard for more than a few minutes, and Richard had all sorts of female friends, with whom he innocently flirted (guys, too).

People put far too many rules on their friendships and on each other, when they should just let things be.

Tracy was abusive verbally and physically to Richard and their children.  I spoke up about it to him and shied away from her aggressive personality.

Instead of realizing she’s far too abusive and aggressive and needs to change herself, she tried to force me to accept her behavior as okay and twist mine into something it wasn’t.

She insisted on approving his friends, that she had veto rights; I know this because they both told me so.  She said so in a forum post, calling it “respect” to give up friends your spouse does not want you to have.

While he told me at various times about the rules his friends had to live up to, that she had to meet them, approve them, be friends with them too.  He said even his male friends were under this initial scrutiny, subject to her approval.

While he only wanted to meet her male friends before they went off to some political conference together.  (He just wanted to know what they looked like so he could beat them up if they tried anything.)

He had to live by far stricter rules than she did, you see.

(12/19/13: Tracy also felt entitled to read Richard’s e-mails and chats, and got mad at him once when she found someone she hated in his cell phone records.  Just tonight on Facebook, an old school friend asked,

If you are in a relationship does that mean that you have no privacy?  Does that mean that your significant other is entitled to go through your phone, check your text messages and Facebook messages?

The response: a resounding NO!  The various responders said you must have trust and privacy, and if your SO does not respect that, you’ve got major problems ahead. 

One said if he doesn’t stop this in its tracks, it’s going to get worse; one said “STALKER”; one said he’s going to have female and she’s going to have male friends, so you have to trust each other; another said, Get out, run fast!)

As soon as I learned this, red flags sprang up because of my abusive ex Phil, and all the research on abuse I did while writing about him in 2006.  As I explained above, Phil also tried to separate me from my best and dearest friends.

So I already knew about jealousy and control as forms of abuse.  I did even more research because of Tracy, and began posting links and comments on jealousy and abuse on this page and this page.  (They did not know about these pages.)

During this time, I also read a forum thread in which a woman described her abusive marriage.  She said, “He had to approve my friends.”

Instead of becoming the kind of person Richard’s friends would like, Tracy treated them like creeps if they didn’t like her, thereby driving them away as one after another of Richard’s friends ended the friendship, or she forced him to end friendships, showing a huge lack of trust in him and his judgment.  There was Todd; there were at least two more whom I know of.

From What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick:

Projection and projective identification play a part in her controlling behaviors. She maps her feelings onto you and controls you by inducing these feelings within you.

Her controlling facade masks her true internal experience. Deep down she feels frightened, out of control, incompetent and helpless.

Les Parrot (The Control Freak) writes, “People who want to exert control over everything can make those around them feel inadequate, insecure, nervous, angry, anxious and physically sick. Their message is: I don’t trust you to be able to do it right; I don’t respect your judgment; I don’t think you are competent; I don’t value your insight.”

Whether or not this woman is aware of it, this is how she feels about herself. Once you recognize the defense mechanisms at play, it becomes a little easier to take her hurtful behaviors less personally. She’d be like this with anyone.

My awkwardness in social situations can lessen around kind people, even if I don’t talk much.  But it becomes far worse in the presence of a hostile person, which Tracy is not just to me but to many people.

Instead of doing her best to draw me out and be kind, Tracy just kept punishing me and sending hostile waves at me for being unable to open up to her, which pushed me further into my shell–yet she and Richard both blamed me for it.

This all made my husband furious, especially when Richard finally allowed Tracy to vent her fury on me in such horrible language and words (such as “f— off,” which nobody has ever said to me before) that made me wonder how any Christian woman could justify this treatment of any other person.

Jeff and I told others what she said; they were flabbergasted that anybody would cuss me out like that.  Jeff and I finally threw up our hands and tossed her out of our lives for good.

Unfortunately, this meant Richard was tossed out as well, even though–at long last for me, who had been starved of good local friends for years–Richard had been my dearest and closest friend for 5 years.

He had been my spiritual mentor, the one who led me into the Truth I’d been searching for, the one who helped me decide on Orthodoxy and thirst for the Eucharist.  He helped me find love for God and my faith once again.  He helped open up the Scriptures for me, by leading me in the right direction.

But then he turned on me and betrayed me, threw me under the bus, letting Tracy tear me apart instead of giving her the key piece of information which would have proven to her my innocence.

Then, a month later, he said that not saying two sentences together to Tracy for a month and a half (WHAT month? and I don’t count my sentences! what, ANOTHER rule nobody told me about?) was somehow worse than being verbally abused???

Being wary of someone who’s been bullying you for two years and has recently upped the intensity, is worse than being verbally abused????

And this to a person they already knew to be extremely quiet in most social situations?  What kind of people are these two, anyway?

This makes me struggle to keep in the same faith as him and Tracy, and even causes me to doubt the very existence of God (who seemed to place him into my life just as I prayed for a friend, and to cause our families to be there for and bless each other).

After their abuses of me, I also struggle to make social connections with anyone else who isn’t already in my circle of friends (friends I mostly keep in touch with via the Internet).  I’m afraid of what’ll happen if I open up to anyone else the way I opened up to Richard, that they’ll hurt me like he did.

The problem first started with Tracy misunderstanding me, and me not having a clue about it until she was already digging in her heels and treating me badly and I had no idea why.

I noted over the years that she responds to problems by snarking at and being mean to the supposed offender, which she never so much as apologizes for.  This offends the offender and leads to nothing but arguments and bad feeling.

I complained to Richard about it and then, finally, started hearing what she was so upset about.  But trying to clear up the misunderstanding did no good at all because she was apparently determined to think badly of me.

Nobody informed me of a test I had to pass for Tracy to let me be friends with Richard, or what I was expected to do or know, until long after I already failed.  And after that, it seemed that no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough to make up for it.

In fact, it reminds me of Hell Week during my short-lived stint pledging a sorority: having no idea how I’ve offended the actives or what rule I’ve broken until I see a roster that’s already in the hundreds below zero.  And each day, more points are taken away, finding my points down in the negative thousands with no idea what rules I broke and no hope of getting back up.

I could concede that some of her rules seemed reasonable enough in normal circumstances–but we were not in normal circumstances, we were sharing a house.

When you live together for weeks on end, when you must keep in the good graces of the host and hostess who are doing you a huge favor that few people would do, getting in a snit fit about things that go against your usual rules, makes no sense.

And it makes no sense to say you don’t “know” somebody when you live in the same crowded house for six weeks, and spend nearly every night socializing with that person for hours.

When we shared a house, both our families for six weeks, it was a disaster.  It was never part of the deal.

We lived in a tiny house, about 1100 square feet.  The spare room (a library, not a bedroom) was filled with the changing table and baby supplies, so already Richard slept on the couch.

It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, helping out a friend until he found a job and a place to move into with his family, NOT an indefinite address for the entire family.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

Why I put this story on the Web–at great personal risk

I keep putting up this story and taking it down again and putting it back up again.  I take it down because I wonder how much I really want to post on the Web.

Then I put it back up because the issues in here–child abuse, domestic violence, bullying, women who abuse men–are very important and need to be addressed.

It’s a risk which sometimes I do and sometimes don’t want to take, but there are many things in here that need to be said about modern society–and it’s hard to make a complete picture of what happened without posting all of it.  However, there are some private details which must be kept private.

1. This page is for NLDers, introverts, fellow bullying victims, fellow abuse survivors and friends of abuse victims.

2. I want to help raise awareness that women do abuse, too, not just men.  If the roles were reversed and Richard did the things I saw Tracy do and heard that Tracy did, nobody would question that he was a jerk and abuser and that she needed to get out.  But because the woman was the abuser, Richard kept trying to hold it together.

It takes great courage or stupidity to post this, because I’m scared the bully Tracy will find it and retaliate.  She is, after all, physically violent when she chooses to be.  (But then, she thinks I’m stupid anyway.)

There’s also still the faint hope that one day soon Tracy will regret the things she’s done, apologize and try to change.

But if she does find it, or Richard finds it–who knows, maybe reading this will show them just what they’ve done and that theirs are not the only opinions that matter.  Maybe it will inspire them to make amends and changes in their own lives.

If they just look and laugh and make no apologies, then that would be childish and prove they have no business coming back into our lives.  If Tracy beats me up, I’ll finally have physical proof of her true character.

[Update: The above was written somewhere between 2010 and 2011.  They did indeed find this in May 2012; see here.]

3. But I’ve read other people’s accounts of how they’ve been bullied and abused.

So my story burns within me to be told as well, expressing to the ether what happened, hoping other abuse victims will be helped by it and learn from it–especially people who deal with NVLD, Asperger’s or selective mutism, or who are introverts, and whose social understanding is hampered.

I have been betrayed and thrown to the wolves by the very person I thought had my back.

4. You will see that it’s useless to deal with someone who is jealous, controlling and/or abusive, but won’t deal with her issues properly.

You will hopefully learn that it just isn’t worth trying to pacify such a person, that it’s best to just cut them out of your life early–before they infect you with their emotional damage and leave you to deal with the pain, the post traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms, the lies they spread about you, etc.  Even a dear friendship isn’t worth that.

5. I hope to demonstrate the evils of jealousy, to make a plea for all those who are judged by advice columnists and bloggers and the like as whores and “inappropriate” based simply on one side given us by an upset wife in a short letter.  There may be more to that story than you realize.

6. I hope to help NLDers realize their naïveté can make them far too trusting, far too easily taken advantage of.

7. As a writer, I am driven to tell stories, even and especially my own stories, whether positive or negative.

8. There’s a huge lack of stories, even on the Net, about the friends and families of people who are involved in domestic or child abuse situations; friends who are being abused by friends; the friends of friends who are being abused by friends.

You read about them, but mostly a sentence or two about how friends and family are driven away by the abuser and/or subjected to abuse as well, because they object to how the abuser treats their friend.

I searched and searched to find stories about friendship abuse, but kept finding very little (except occasionally in comments to blogs or advice columns).  There are plenty of survivor stories from people who were abused by parents or romantic partners.  The dynamics are obviously different, making it hard to relate if you’re the friend being abused.

So that’s another reason I put these stories here, because this is about a friend who sees her best friend’s verbally and physically violent marriage, objects, then finds herself subjected to abuse and accusations because she objected, until finally she cuts these people out of her life at great personal grief.

This story is for people who are abused by friends, or the spouses of friends, or who feel helpless as a friend or family member is domestically abused.  Perhaps you will see that while the abuse of me did anger me quite a bit, what angered me the most was how Tracy abused Richard, the children, and others.

9. I want to help raise awareness of different types of domestic abuse.

10. I want to help raise awareness of bullying and abuse in other contexts.

11. We need to get our stories out there so others learn how to recognize bullying and abuse–to get away from it, to stop doing it, to help others out of it.  Despite decades of attention, this problem persists.

12. I want to help others learn from my mistakes, of which you will probably find many.

13. I want to record my struggle with loss of faith and trying to hold onto it, after the most significant person in my conversion to Orthodoxy, became my betrayer and manipulator.  The fall of a spiritual mentor into some kind of sin does happen now and then, shaking the faith of the ones who looked up to him, so this story is universal.

14. I want to raise awareness for what it’s like to be an introvert, or to have NLD/Asperger’s/selective mutism, and how people like us are constantly bullied in today’s American society, which values extroversion and looks down upon introversion.

15. And, well, this story is true from my perspective (that last bit added for legal reasons).  I wouldn’t be so confident with a lie.

Here is another story of a woman abused by a friend, as seen through the eyes of another woman who eventually became subjected to abuse as well, for sticking up for the abused.  And here is what appears to be the story of the friend being abused.

Here is another story of a woman being abused by her female friend, who is a narcissist.  From what I have observed, Richard and Tracy both have narcissistic traits.  Note the following paragraph from this link, from JoyfulAliveWoman’s blog.  Note that her friendship was heterosexual, that there was nothing sexual about it, and yet this woman hooked in JAW so much that she wrote this:

I was under H’s spell. I couldn’t get enough of her. I became Codependent with her. It was pathetic.

No one else had that effect upon me, nor had they ever. My relationships with others were different.

That isn’t to say those relationships weren’t challenging, but there was a “hypnotic and obsessive quality” to the relationship with H (strong characteristics of a codependent, dysfunctional relationship).

H had her so enthralled that, even though she didn’t acknowledge that JAW had wisdom and insight of her own, and her own superior attitude sometimes inspired JAW to rebel, JAW was always the one to go crawling back, contrite, while her objections were swept under the rug.

It wasn’t like this in the beginning between Richard and me, not until later on, but it was always that way with Tracy and me.

Although it is a common belief that grooming is most relevant to children, the same or similar psychological processes are used by perpetrators to exploit adults.

In the case of adult grooming, the victims family and friends are also manipulated into thinking the perpetrator is a “nice guy” and that he can be trusted.

It is not only a perpetrator’s victims that are groomed (which would be considered emotional abuse), but the victims’ family and friends, the perpetrator’s own family and friends, and even public servants and medical professionals (in which case it is purposeful manipulation). –Mel Stewart, The Fine Art of Grooming

I’ve described the Richard and Tracy story in little bits and pieces, interspersed here and there in my reviews of Gone With the Wind, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Mysteries of Udolpho.

For more than two years I was bullied for being different by a grown adult, bullied by Tracy by proxy through Richard, verbally abused by Tracy only to have both of them act like what I did (basically, being shy, quiet and wary of Tracy, who bullied me, Richard and her children) was somehow worse than her bullying and abuse of me.

At first, Richard and I bonded over religion, music and Goth.  He was my spiritual guide.  He was my best, closest and dearest friend, the one I trusted so much that I told him things I hadn’t told anyone else.  We were like a mutual admiration society.  He told me I was the most awesome person he knew; I felt the same about him.  But he betrayed me.

The first thing is, you were born this way. It is in your nature, and thus cannot be wrong.  On average, one out of every three people is an introvert, if being quiet was wrong, that would make 1/3 of the total population born lesser. –serjicaladdict, Why are you so quiet?

16. [This part was written somewhere between late 2010 and early 2011.]  Another reason is to try somehow to understand this perplexing situation.  Only over the past several months, as I’ve been writing and adding to this story, have I started to see the whole picture and make connections and understand little bits of pieces of it.

I noticed the same thing over the past 15 years as I wrote memoirs about my life: Certain events that upset me greatly, long-term abuse and other such things, I wrote about as they happened, and put them into my memoirs several years later.  I began to understand, but not quite yet.

Then several years after that, I put these memoirs online in public versions.  As I did this, and did more research into abuse, I saw connections I never saw before.  Things began to make sense, how guys would manipulate me, and that sort of thing.

I see this happen now as I write about this horrible situation.  I see clues to what may have happened, that I didn’t see before.

All my life I’ve written diaries, letters, e-mails, journals, memoirs and other accounts describing my life, its various events, my emotions.  This may be related to NVLD, being confused by life, not seeing the whole picture for the details, and needing to journal about it to figure things out.

It may also be related to Aspergers, having a long memory, going over things again and again in your mind long after other people have forgotten about it.

Or maybe I simply want to be a modern Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick sounds to me very much like Tracy, and you will recognize various elements of it as you read my story, such as:

  • her being happy as she cuts you down
  • having to be in control (which she did to me, to Richard, to an ex-family friend named Todd)
  • histrionics I witnessed when she dealt with her ex
  • steamrolling me time and again, no compromise or concession, this coming back to bite her as people kept bolting from friendships or other relationships with her
  • two or three of the emotional states listed under “Losing Control” (when I challenged her for raging at me and she realized Jeff and I were ending our friendship with her).

Todd, who was friends with Richard for six years–from before Richard and Tracy got married–and stayed with them twice, for a month each time, said she yells at you but does nothing to work on her own part of the problem.

I witnessed a few arguments between her and Richard that got nasty, so I knew it wasn’t just me.  If she were this way with nobody else, I’d have to look harder at myself, but this was not the case.

17. Tracy did her hardest to make me think I was the problem, but I knew this wasn’t true, and wrote this to remember why.

As the above article states,

Yes, this woman is deeply troubled, but it is NOT your responsibility to tolerate, accept or change her. The only way to gain mastery over a relationship with this kind of woman is to end it. Otherwise, you’ll begin an endless replay loop of your own misery.

18. This article, and my story, should help you recognize such people in your own life, and that it’s not worth waiting around for change.  Take warning from what happened to me.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

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