false victim

Fed-up, I decide to end the friendship if Tracy does not stop bullying me

The night of April 30, 2008, some hours after the incidents in the above section, and into the following day, I wrote this list in an e-mail to Richard which I never sent:

–last straw

–tired of getting rudeness in return for all my attempts at generosity and niceness

–you don’t treat friends this way; abusive

–don’t have to put up with this–will not be spoken to this way

–don’t want to deal with her anymore

–feel like for the last few months have been treated like “the other woman”–treated like dirt–more tears shed over this the last few months than for anything for the last year all together

don’t want to be enabler and lose all self-esteem and get damaged psyche

–tried to ignore and move on for sake of our friendship [with Richard]–very dear to me–but Jeff and I both are fed up

–mean to me almost since the beginning–didn’t seem to appreciate what we were doing, how much work I had to put into keeping the household running, how much money we had to spend to pay for groceries [about $340-$450/week in today’s dollars], how I had to give up some of the things I did for my health–lots of milk, healthier meals–in order to stretch the food budget, and exercise because of the little kids running around [didn’t want to hurt the little ones with the spokes of my exercise bike]

I feel like maybe I should never open my house up to strangers again, if this is how I get repaid for it–with suspicion and rudeness

–don’t like being treated as guilty until proven innocent; lived here for a month and a half–what else does she need to know–she’s gotten to know me a lot better than most people do–but has suspicion and mistrust that is not warranted and is not good for her–every other wife/girlfriend who has met me is fine with me, even after a short meeting–I just don’t go after husbands

–apparently suspicious because I don’t talk directly to her? well, I have in the past–don’t trust her, not “safe”–maybe I don’t talk directly to her and don’t want to be around her NOT because I’m out to get her husband, but because I don’t like how she treats people [I was scared of her]

I felt bulldozed–seemed to be all what somebody else wants, but none of what I wanted

The below quote sounds like Tracy–and also explains why I preferred to go through Richard when I had problems with her:

Confronting an abusive woman about her behavior only makes her nastier and you’re then subjected to a narcissistic rage episode and/or histrionic drama queen performance.

She’ll just blame you for everything or deny what she did anyway, so why bother saying anything? –Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, Signs your narcissistic or borderline wife/girlfriend is traumatizing you

Also, this comment from a Shrink4Men reader, “Mr. E”:

Another possible addition [to the Shrink4Men quiz, “Is she a crazy b**ch]:

Do mutual friends/roommates confront you when they’re upset with her?

I can recall several instances where a friend / roommate has come to me about her behavior (frequently with some hostility). I always figured this was because I was an easy target, and felt weak.

I definitely think poor boundaries on my part encouraged this behavior (I should have stopped them and told them to talk to her, not me), but I think the root problem is that they were afraid to confront her directly.

When I foolishly bring up whatever the friend/roomie complained about to her, I get interrogated and eventually raged at when I freeze up and stop talking. She’ll also hold a grudge against the person in question for ages.

The good news is, I’ve finally figured this out, and have started telling people to just talk to her. Curiously enough, they never do…

I’d love to know if this is a common experience.

The following evening, May 1, I wrote an e-mail which I don’t believe was sent to Richard, though I probably conveyed at least some of the message to him in other ways:

–When you say you want me to call, or you want to call, or you want to get together and do something, I put priority on that, rearrange my schedule, make myself available, and work as hard as I can to be ready in time.  If I can’t do it for some reason, I say so right away, or call as soon as I find out (as long as it’s a reasonable hour).

When you say you’ll call and don’t, or you want to get together but don’t show up, don’t let me know what’s going on, I try to call and can’t connect with you and nobody answers either phone, my messages aren’t returned, you call/I call at the last minute and you say something else has come up, I feel like you don’t value my friendship.

I have had other people do this to me, sometimes for years.  When this happens to Jeff, he assumes the person is sending a message that they don’t want to be friends anymore; he stops calling.

I know that sometimes people are just being flighty, but I get tired of it, and eventually scale back the friendship.  This is why I start getting worried.

–When someone doesn’t answer the phone, it’s normal and expected to call back later, especially if there is no answering machine.  It gives the person a chance to get home, get done in the bathroom, or whatever else they were doing that made them unable to answer the phone.

I personally detest answering machines when dealing with friends, because I know firsthand that they are even less reliable than e-mail: they can malfunction, be ignored, be erased accidentally, run out of tape….

At least if your e-mail doesn’t get through, the Mailer Demon bounces it back, and message trackers can tell you if a Personal Message was read. I’d much rather connect with my friend personally than talk to a machine, because I know my message got through.

So being chewed out for doing a perfectly normal and reasonable behavior–I do not appreciate being talked to in that manner.  

If Tracy keeps treating me this way, I will consider it to mean that she just does not want to be pleasant with me or even consider the option that I am no threat to her.  

I do not wish to deal with jealous spouses or abusive behavior towards me.

If it keeps happening, I will start considering all of my options, even though the last thing I want to do is end my friendship with you or [my son’s] friendship with the girls.

So here is proof that from the very beginning, I considered Tracy not only to be abusive to Richard and the girls (since I used those very words in e-mails to my mom in 2007), but to be abusive to me as well.  (There are more e-mails like this to come, speaking also of her bullying me.)

Despite the DARVO e-mail she sent me in 2012, this was not some crazy idea that came to my addled brain in 2012 to justify the breakup and make me feel better.  Nor was it taken from my imagination to write some blog full of lies to defame her character.

No, this was my feeling from the very beginning–showing that my mental state has been fine all along, and evidence that I have told no lies, because it is all my legitimate opinion since 2007, and my e-mails record the details of what happened.

No, Tracy just refuses to admit that she’s abusive, and would rather put the responsibility of it on other people–and tell everyone her target is crazy.  That’s what abusers do.  I just saw yet another example of it on Dr. Phil at the gym yesterday:

“My father is here to tell me what I remember, what I can say, what I can talk about,” she says.

“I have come to know that, in cases of abuse, when abuse has happened, very rarely does the abuser admit to that, and there’s nothing productive for me to be here with my father because I will not go back to that girl, to be silent, to be in my corner and to recant what I’ve said.” –Rebecca Musser, Dr. Phil episode, Facing Off with my Polygamous FLDS Father

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


Two Narcissists Tag-Team Bully an Introvert with NLD

I told Richard at various times and in various ways what I needed from Tracy to give her what she wanted:

  1. that I was obviously missing her nonverbal cues to chat; I may have said or implied that I needed more verbal cues (making it clear that you want to converse rather than you’re just making some little comment that only requires a yes or no answer), such as, “Hey, let’s chat”
  2. Tracy needed to stop treating me as an enemy, hating me, punishing me like a naughty child for everything she didn’t like
  3. stop pressuring me to talk on pain of losing my friend and being treated like a jerk
  4. I speak up far more during one-on-one conversations sitting next to each other, than in a group
  5. (not a need, but an aside: ) once, I mentioned that I would hug her back if she ever hugged me, and she said she wasn’t bothered that I offered hugs to Richard, that she understood that she and I were the same about hugs: giving them out to certain people, but not to everybody

But these things were not provided to me.  Instead, I got:

  1. a prickly person who would sit at her computer, hunched over and mumbling occasionally, never smiling at me or even saying “hello” or “goodbye” first
  2. constant pressure to talk through various changing rules and punishments
  3. ridicule, jabs, snarks
  4. still no, or very few, verbal cues
  5. no offers for hugs, and when I gave her one a couple of times, she made it into a joke or growled at me–then after I’d always been told that hugging Richard was okay, on 7/1/10, I start hearing through Jeff that they were now saying it wasn’t okay??
  6. never took me up on my offer to watch movies together, never offered to come visit or chat
  7. continued abuses–even in front of me–of her husband and children, making her friendship distasteful to me
  8. Richard’s own behavior, constantly changing, something okay one day and not okay later and then okay again after that, while he kept me constantly guessing as to whether certain behaviors were acceptable to him or not

(This webpage, by the way, demonstrates how, for children with NLD, a system of rewards and punishments for their social behavior is counterproductive–and how behavior problems in them are rarely manipulative.  I can imagine that an adult with NLD, being treated like a child, would react the same way.)

I have little trouble warming up to and opening up to my husband’s friends or spouses of my friends who are nice–which is most of them–if in a small-group situation, if I feel I can break into the conversation.

But Tracy was not nice.

I’m often quiet even when our friends are visiting, if there are more than one of them together and we’re all in a group.  Yet I feel comfortable being quiet around them, that they’re not judging me for it, that they just accept that as my way.

When Richard would mention times that I supposedly snubbed Tracy, I didn’t remember them at all, or Tracy ever trying to start conversations, and figured NVLD must be to blame for me missing her cues–if indeed she was telling the truth that she was trying to start conversations.

But as for me not opening up to her in general, she wasn’t “safe.”  I told Richard directly that I didn’t feel I could be good friends with her, that I was scared of her, that I couldn’t open up to her, that I didn’t like how she was treating him or me (and maybe the kids, though I forget if I mentioned that to him or not).

I never promised to be Chatty Cathy with her or take her into my confidences.  I told him I needed to feel “safe” before I could open up to anyone.

My husband says that I sensed she was dangerous, and did what any rational creature would do: tried to become invisible.

Blaming me for this and accusing me of making excuses or “being a victim” was hugely unfair–and wrong.  Self-preservation is instinctual, and I sensed that Tracy was not the Christian she claimed to be.  The Bible says to have nothing to do with such people (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

I tried and tried to explain things to Richard, that by constantly expecting me to perform social leaps with Tracy, or else I’d be punished by her–they were making things worse.  I had to feel comfortable, like she was not my enemy.  But it fell on deaf ears as they both kept attributing it to “excuses” or Tracy just plain not believing it.

Apparently they didn’t understand what I meant by feeling comfortable: Did they think it was about the temperature of the house or not cussing around me or not playing zombie movies or not sitting around in boxers?  Those things had nothing to do with it!

So the cycle kept continuing: The more Tracy punished me for not being talkative with her–

–the more I heard what terrible things she was saying to Richard about me–

–the quieter and more reserved I became with her out of fear and resentment–

–and the more she punished me for being quiet and reserved, by her hostility and by restricting my friendship with Richard (often in ways I wasn’t even aware of until long after an offense occurred).

I remembered every cutting remark she made about or to me; they were legion.  I tried to remember the compliments, but there were very few.

Every punishment she made, every judgment she made which was opposite to how I really felt or what I really meant by some action toward her or Richard, stung like a sock in the eye.  Especially after all the kind and loving things Jeff and I did toward her and her family at great financial or emotional expense.

It drove me crazy that Richard didn’t understand that you don’t just stand by and let somebody bully your friend, even if that bully is your own wife!  I understood this, and in my past had often stepped into the verbal fray to defend a friend.

So many things were kept from me, which I didn’t find out about until it was far too late to change Tracy’s mind or explain or make any sort of difference.  Imagine all the paranoia this inspired when, little by little, things trickled out to my ears.

Imagine being on the playground, getting pounded by the school bully, who with every blow of his fist screams, “Befriend me, you a**hole!  Befriend me, you a**hole!”–while your best friend just stands by and watches, even tells the bully to hit harder.  That was my situation.  And the following is, in every detail, my situation:

Once a potential victim exhibits social constraint, or responsibility, the bully knows he or she can safely maneuver the situation to the very brink of disgrace.

Counting on the integrity of the victim’s constraints to keep them both from tumbling over, the bully stands on the crumbling edges of socially acceptable behavior and demands that the victim either jump or submit.

This assumes that social, professional or familial circumstances force the victim [ie, me] into relationship with the bully. Otherwise, the victim would simply disengage.

It also assumes the victim’s world view and social skill level do not provide alternatives beyond submission or escalation….

This type of aggression uses the threat of social isolation to hurt the victim. The bully’s advantage resides in the value the victim places on belonging to a family, school, workplace or other group…. [ie, being friends with Richard]

Consumed by self-reliance and the need for control, relational aggressors project the source of their inadequacies and fears on to others.  Some have termed this projection as “hostile attributional bias” or paranoia.

Accordingly, relational aggressors [ie, Tracy] see provocation and, thereby, justification where it does not exist.

Typically, they [Tracy] take inappropriate revenge for imagined offense and externally impose on others the solutions to problems arising from within.

Surprisingly, bullies see themselves in a positive light, probably because they have so little awareness of what others think of them.

No one wants to suffer a bully’s wrath by telling them the truth, and so the bully’s confidence survives simply because they lack the feedback to perceive themselves correctly in social situations.

In fact, blindness to the feelings of others permeates the behavioral style and outlook of bullies. Lacking social awareness, they certainly don’t see the impact of their own behavior on themselves and others.

They abuse their spouses and children, creating a miserable family life and still another generation of bullies. In the end, bullies bring at least as much unhappiness upon themselves as upon their victims.  (Ken Cox, Relational Aggressor).


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


E-mails and phone call describe how Tracy abuses her husband and children

I have already described some of Tracy’s abuse in chapters one, two and three.

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.]

On March 22, 2009, I received an e-mail.  I won’t quote the e-mail, out of privacy and safety concerns.  It spoke of domestic disputes and child abuse, specifically using the terms “assaulting” the children with “verbal abuse.”

The next day I received a phone call, and took notes.  I saved the e-mail and the notes in case Richard needed me as a witness one day.

It is a smoking gun which proves I was not imagining abuse, or imagining his complaints of it.

It proves that Tracy went in cycles, which matches not only the cycle of abuse (“honeymoon” periods followed by abuse), but also borderline personality disorder.

Some of the things he described, I also find described by victims of abuse from BPD wives.

It was, finally, written proof that she had indeed been verbally and physically abusing him and the children, and its effects on him.

It is my proof that I am not lying, not “crazy.”  I hold fast to this e-mail as my anchor, so their gaslighting does not get into my head and make me doubt myself.

This is important because Tracy threatened me a couple of years ago, tried to make me think it was all in my addled head, and Richard has even been helping her in her intimidation and cyberstalking campaign against me.

Over the years, I witnessed things, and Richard told me things verbally and by e-mail.  This chapter is a summary of the abuse I know about.  If any of it is incorrect, blame the source for deceiving me: I have made a good-faith effort to make it accurate.

Considering how Richard had told me I should spank my son harder, and I simply could not spank hard enough to please him because it hurt my hand and I did not have enough strength–Just how hard was Tracy spanking the kids that even he said it was too hard?

She hit him.  I saw her smack his arm in anger on a few occasions, but when I wasn’t around, she punched him.  It sounded like she’d been physically battering him.  

He didn’t hit back because she’s a woman.

But he said if she ever hit his face, he’d tell her, “You’re no longer a woman,” and fight back.  He said you never hit a man in the face, and that in our state, she’d be the one going to jail because she started the fight and male judges would recognize that she started the fight by hitting him in the face.

This was frightening.  But I was still forced to be best buds with her, or else.

I saw her give him intimidating looks, treat him so that I caught him looking at her warily as if she would beat him (verbally at least) if he did something “out of line,” and verbally abuse both loved ones and perceived enemies.

I heard her scream obscenities at the ex over the phone, and once, while talking about him on the Forum, she called him a n***er–that horrid word most decent people can’t even say.

She comes from a very dysfunctional and extremely abusive family.

I caught Richard lying to me–in church–because of her.

She’s jealous, possessive, controlling; she was angry with me for thinking so, but she did everything in her power to prove me correct.

She nagged and nitpicked and ordered him around.

As for Richard saying that no judge in our state would convict him if she hit him in the face–What, had he been asking about this? considering whether or not to hit her back?  With his large size, he could kill her!

A quick online check of our state laws reveals that self-defense only allows him to use what force he needs to defend himself, not go beyond that.

One night while they lived in our house, I saw her hit him with an open hand–not in play the way women often do, the way that men like and laugh about, but an angry hit.

I often wonder if I’ll hear about them on the 6:00 news one of these days, if they’ll end up like another couple which recently ended with the girlfriend Josie raped, and James Cruckson dead of self-inflicted wounds, after shooting a policeman dead and severely wounding another.

Like her mother before her, Tracy broke her children’s spirits, though–unlike her mother–she didn’t do it on purpose.  

She would banter her children into a screaming frenzy, then scream and cuss at them, and spank them too hard. 

Then when Richard told her to STOP, she turned her ire on him: She used the excuse that he had abused them before, so she could do it, and (even though he no longer did the things she referred to) went on about how oh, he’s so perfect.

This practice is called echoing: Basically, the abuser finds a way to accuse the victim of doing what the abuser is doing, then uses it as license to continue the abuse:

Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as “echoing”. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an “attack” is detected by the abuser….

The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of.

Scenario 2:

Partner: Please don’t raise your voice at me.

Abuser (Screaming): You’re the one that’s yelling.


Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence.

Abuser (angrily): You’re the one who cuts me off all of the time.

When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground.

The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying “See, you do it too.” This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out.

Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a “win”. –Abused Judge, An Analysis of the Abuser’s Language

Also: “Are you an abused man?  Three Questions.”  Quote: “My wife thinks I’m being abusive and controlling when I tell her her behavior is hurtful.”

Sounds familiar: Tracy told Richard he was being controlling when he told her she was behaving very badly to the children one day (he used the word b**chy when talking about it to me, but I don’t think he used it to her).

This article sounds like Tracy:

Have you ever wondered why your abusive wife, girlfriend or ex blames others, makes excuses or rages when you question her behavior?

Does she often act like an out of control child? Does arguing with her seem like a losing battle? Does she have a comeback for everything you say that pushes your buttons? When she’s angry, does she say “not fair” and that nothing’s her fault?

Does it feel like she sets traps for you during arguments? Have you ever wished you could put her in a timeout chair just like you would a toddler?

Men who are in relationships with abusive women often say that they feel like they’re dealing with a child in an adult’s body in regards to their wife, girlfriend or ex.

Like many others in the same situation, Richard thought that loving her would change things.  But from what I saw, this did not work.  In 2010, I witnessed her cycling yet again.  His love could never be enough to change someone that damaged: She must want to change herself.

The drama started to wear him down.  This may explain why he betrayed me later: to get peace, because he was so beaten down by her that he had been betraying his own friends, first Todd and then me.

On April 2, 2009, I wrote to Jeff:

Yesterday, Carolyn Hax ran a column with a letter from a guy who’s been verbally abused constantly by his wife for the past three years…It has stirred quite the debate!…

I’ve been especially interested in light of what Richard told me [in the above e-mail/phone conversation], and encouraged by those who say it can be changed, and sometimes the marriage can even be salvaged in the process.

I have hopes for them, especially since they have 3 children and a 4th on the way. Though he told me things that make me seriously hope they don’t end up on the 6:00 news some night…..

He said it’s a power play. There should be no power plays in a marriage. That’s how you end up like Todd vs. Tracy on [the online game] last year…..

Jeff wrote back,

All behavior can be changed if the person in question wishes it, and no behavior can be changed externally.

If change is to take place, Tracy must be confronted about the matter, convinced of the destructive nature involved, so that she will buy in to the process of change.

If Richard submits to the abuse and bends to whatever Tracy wants, then the behavior is positively re-inforced. If he simply doesn’t fight back but rather becomes passive-aggressive, then the behavior is mentally justified.

Behavioral change comes when the subject (A) becomes aware of the need for change, (B) actively chooses to change, and (C) develops a means of supporting and encouraging change.

Just wanting to change isn’t enough: there must be something  providing internal and/or external leverage to empower that change.

In order for others to participate at all, changed behavior needs to be observed and promptly rewarded.  Negative re-inforcement, even if the individual is attempting change, does not benefit morale and therefore is not encouraging.

All behaviors are fundamentally based in positive re-inforcement. If Tracy is abusive, it is because it somehow makes her feel good.

That desire to feel good is fundamental, but must be given a different path to progress on.

See? I think about this kind of stuff – *a lot!*

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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


The emotional vampires suck me dry–and accuse me of being too sensitive

From what I saw, whenever anyone hurt Richard or Tracy, whether intentional or accidental, it was terrible.  But if they hurt other people, it was their right to do what they did and you should just deal with it.

At first, Richard apologized to me all the time for all sorts of things, so much that it annoyed me.  But over time, he began resisting apologies and got upset that anybody was upset with him.

It seemed that he and Tracy both saw apologies as confessions of guilt and utter remorse.  But I saw them as a way to show you didn’t mean to hurt anyone, a way to show that relationship is more important to you than pride, the “lubrication that keeps society moving smoothly,” as written here.

If you really go around intending to hurt people, then you must be a horrible person!  Most people don’t mean to hurt the people they love, but do it anyway because they don’t realize how they sound or what they’re doing.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that what they did is awful; oftentimes, it’s just a matter of point of view.

So when I saw Tracy doing things that bothered me, if I felt she was abusing and controlling her husband and children, if I felt she was bullying me, I was a horrible person who hated her and was biased against her.

But if she constantly made fun of me, or blew up at me and accused me of all sorts of horrible things and vilified, belittled and demeaned me, I was supposed to just bend over, take it, and say, yes ma’am, may I have another.  And if I didn’t see it as my due, then I was being childish.

Though–because she kept it hidden from me–I did not actually see the full extent of this until her narcissistic rage in July 2010, I did see some of it.

I finally refused to listen to Richard when he said not to apologize, and apologized to her for my own mistakes and for hurting her feelings (both in June 2009 and August 2010).  I tried to offer to do things that would make up for them.

But she used my apologies against me, as if they somehow justified what she did, as if they were capitulations and confessions of guilt rather than regret over unintentionally hurting her.

It’s affected my psyche so much that I sometimes wonder if I’m crazy to think these things have happened, that I start to feel guilty over the abuse she heaped on me.  I suffer from frequent, long-lasting headaches.

I have to remind myself of what really happened, or else I’ll sink into a morass of self-flagellation, or even try to go back to her and patch things up with no evidence that she’s repented of her own wrongdoing.

Even worse is knowing that Richard–a person I once thought of as awesomely devout and a devoted friend–lied to me, even excused and justified the abuse, my own personal Judas.

Richard kept conveniently forgetting important details at crucial times, details of his own part in things that upset her, which would’ve exonerated me to Tracy (if she were at all reasonable, that is).  So I was left looking pathetic, guilty, sheepish.  I was too afraid of Tracy to do anything but hope Richard would explain things and defend me to her.  At times, Jeff did defend me, but even he wasn’t listened to.

Richard once called me too sensitive after I got upset about something he said.  This is a common defense used by emotional abusers and gaslighters, to make you think you’re the problem.

(Also see The Perceived Threat Syndrome.  And see an awesome defense of sensitivity here.  It says, what’s so bad about being sensitive?)

How can you not be sensitive if an adult, supposed to be beyond such things, nitpicks you every chance she gets, even though you try very hard to ignore her snarks and not respond?  How can you not get upset, if your attempts to show love and concern are criticized as if you did something wrong?

You start getting jumpy and paranoid, afraid your bully is also influencing her husband, once your biggest fan, into thinking you’re just an annoying twerp.

Especially when even your friend nitpicks as well, acting like you do everything wrong and you should start doing things his way.

That’s everything from what you feed your child, to how to deal with social situations, to what movies or TV shows you watch, to which political party to support, to whether you should save all your letters, to whether you should abandon the mutual submission that’s been working so well for your marriage and put the husband in charge (and then bragging that his own marriage is like that when you know different), to what sexual positions and frequency you should enjoy (none of this, especially this last thing, being any of his business).

And then you get the comments like: “Even little children know that compliments are meant to start conversations!  How could you not know that just saying thank you is rude?”

Er–what?  Since when did it become rude to simply smile and say thank you to a compliment?  How would you know that more is expected, when you weren’t asked a question?  So the compliment isn’t real, but a means to get something out of the other person–a conversation–and obligate her to you?

Here you go, a time when Richard said, “I shouldn’t have to tell you!”–which people often say to the NLDer.  Here he was proving I had NLD, while thinking I didn’t.

But this was one way that Tracy considered me “rude” to her or “snubbing” her.  It was ridiculous.  I had never heard of such a thing, and here I thought I had always been graceful in accepting the very few compliments Tracy gave me.  (I remember maybe three, and that we were already in a conversation.)

Jeff, also, had never heard of such a thing, and always thought that smiling and saying “thank you” was all that’s required.  We could only conclude that it was a regional difference.  But of course, this probably made no difference to Tracy.

I had an etiquette book as a child (Manners to Grow On by Tina Lee), along with the many things I had since learned about etiquette.  So I wasn’t completely lacking in social skills.  But it specifically said the way to answer a compliment is to smile and say “thank you,” rather than “Oh, this old thing.”  It said absolutely nothing about how you have to start making conversation or you’re being rude.

It was affirming to see a Peanuts cartoon, originally run in 1998, re-run on May 6, 2011:

Little girl: “Those are nice shoes, Rerun.”

Rerun: “They feel good.  My other shoes were always a little tight..I like the color, and the soles feel bouncy, and the laces are easy to tie..”

Girl: “When you get a compliment, all you have to say is, ‘Thank you.’

Rerun: “I’m sorry…I’ve never had a compliment before.”

So it’s not a faux pas to simply say thank you–but correct?

Then I found this in a webpage about freeloaders:

If you compliment Rhonda on her dress, instead of saying “Thank you” and leaving it at that, the first thing out of her mouth will be that her sister gave it to her, or that she bought it at a 75% off sale.

Yet again, the assumption is that you are supposed to say “thank you”–but nothing is required beyond that.

A little Googling came up with the same thing, including from Miss Manners: All that is required is a simple “thank you.”  While you can use it to start a conversation (especially if some hot chick compliments you on the bus), it is not expected or required.

Then it showed up in Carolyn Hax’s column on 6-15-21, a conversation about compliments that made it clear that a simple “thank you” is all that anyone actually expects.

I suspect this was yet another way the two of them tried to gaslight me into thinking I was somehow “snubbing” Tracy when I was doing nothing of the kind, to mindscrew and scapegoat me and make me think I was the problem–taking the focus off Tracy’s bullying and abuses.

Then there’s putting down your opinions and one-upping your problems: Whatever problem you have, is not really a problem because he’s had it worse.

If you’re upset about some arguments at home, well, they’re not really a problem because he’s seen much worse, and you’re too sensitive because you should allow more yelling.

If you had a difficult, traumatizing childbirth–well, his wife had much worse childbirths and they considered it all wonderful just the same.  And Indian mothers used to birth all by themselves in the wilderness, so you don’t really need doctors to survive childbirth.  Even though you probably would’ve died in earlier centuries, because you were a small person giving birth to a baby of 10 and a half pounds, could not progress after 23 hours, and had to be cut open.

If a job loss or severe cut in pay (during the recession of 2008-2009) makes you fear you can’t afford food, well he’s gone through much worse so stop complaining, and (even though you have a mortgage and association fees and various costs that renters don’t have) how can you possibly not live on that much?

Even if your doctor calls it migraines, even if you often lie on the couch with a heating pad because of the pain, pain that won’t go away for days–well, unless you sit up at night unable to sleep because of terrible pain, then it’s not really a migraine.

You say you’ve been depressed in the past (depressed for months, wanting to die).  But he’s been depressed and knows what it’s like, so doesn’t let anyone else tell him they’ve been depressed.

My views on childrearing would spoil the child, while he knows the right way to do it (including screaming, smacking in the head, and, once or twice, sticking the kids in the closet).  And how ridiculous of me to think screaming is child abuse!

If he thought I didn’t have NVLD, I didn’t have NVLD and was just making excuses, and he wanted to strangle me for continuing to think so.  (How dare I keep believing something he thought was wrong!  He is all-knowing, after all.)

If I had a problem with him, my diplomatic way of dealing with it–taking three hours to craft a message–was wrong: It had to be blunt and not care about sparing his feelings.  But when I was blunt, followed the examples he gave, and took far less time to craft a message, he got furious.

Even though I always told him if there was a problem, and I stated my problem clearly while trying not to hurt his feelings, I wasn’t being “assertive” enough.  If I had a problem with him, I had to just deal with it–but why didn’t I tell him sooner that I had this problem?

Whatever comment I made to one of his Facebook posts, was wrong somehow.  Whatever comment I made on one of Tracy’s posts was also wrong somehow.  My responses kept disappearing and not showing up later.

By agreeing with my priest on ecumenism, I “just offended most of the Greeks” in our area.

When I found an article on a church website he showed me, by a priest who said that the husband had to take responsibility for everything that went wrong in his home/marriage, I told Richard that this wasn’t true: The wife should take responsibility for what she’s done, as well!

I thought that he, as an abused husband, would be very glad to hear this from me.  But no, he told me that I’m very liberal (to which I said “thank you”) and 90% of the world disagrees with me!

I thought he was more into equality–heck, he admitted his wife ruled over him, and claimed he married her because she was bossy.

But on other days he claimed he was in charge, that he married her because she believed in obedience, that I should abandon my practice of an equal marriage (which worked just fine for us) and adopt one like his (barf), that I should read that infamous passage in Ephesians about women submitting to their husbands (I had perused it many, many times already!).

He one-upped and mansplained me all the time.

(The mansplaining wasn’t necessarily because he was a man, but because of his arrogance due to his high intelligence.  It included everything from childrearing to politics to religion, and he did it to others as well, sparking arguments.)

I got the impression that I was supposed to just accept anything he said as true: One day in 2008, before the election, he told me there was a video of Obama saying he would force Wisconsin to use taxpayer money to fund abortions (which he never actually did).  I asked for a link so I could see it for myself.

Reasonable request, right?  But he got offended!

(Yet Tracy treated me like “the other woman”?  There was nothing but a harmless flirtation, such as I carry on occasionally with friends and which is considered normal in my circles–there was no attempt to be “the other woman”!

(Who would want to leave a husband like mine for someone who was revealing himself more and more to be the kind of person I wouldn’t want to be married to, no matter how good he was at charming people–and someone who didn’t even have a job?)

I had to admit that at times I could understand why Tracy got so mad at him, though she handled it poorly.

I finally began seeing this as a hopeless cause when, in June 2010, I tried to bring up a problem with him one day when I saw him on Facebook–but without even knowing what the problem was, he just tore into me via e-mail with such meanness that I would never have imagined him using with me.

Whether your friend has abandoned you or not, the bully’s verbal abuse begins to affect your psyche, a kind of psychological rape, or drawing and quartering, until you can no longer trust the friend and want nothing to do with the bully.

But of course, if you decide to put up boundaries between yourself and the bully, to protect yourself from the constant barrage of insanity, you get accused of being far more offensive than any harsh wordsdemeaning, humiliating, vile, filthy, belittling words–that have no business coming from a Christian woman’s mouth.

The abusers blame the victim for causing the abuse. For example, the abuser would say to the victim, ‘If you cleaned up more, I wouldn’t call you names'” (Love Shouldn’t Hurt).

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 almost break off the friendship because of Tracy

In late February 2008, Richard and I exchanged a series of e-mails which led to the revelation that she fought him “tooth and nail” every time he planned to come over to my house to pick up the bags of mail and stuff I kept finding as I cleaned.

I was horrified to find that she kept telling him I “hated” her, was “biased against” her–and that she gave him so much trouble just to come pick up their own stuff.

Didn’t she want her mail?  Didn’t she want her daughters’ little doodads?  I sure wasn’t going to keep them at my house!

I was also horrified to hear him back up her complaints against me and now scold me for doing things I did not even remember ever doing.  Or for not wanting to talk to her because I was angry at her for something she had just done.

I tried to explain that they kept misunderstanding me, but he refused to listen.  I thought my BFF, with whom I had bonded, who called me the most awesome person he knew–

–would give me the benefit of the doubt, and believe in me, know that I meant no harm–

–but no, even he judged me without a trial!

I told Jeff, “I just can’t deal with that woman!”

It was so distressing that I thought I had to break off the friendship.

Jeff wanted to go over there and give Tracy a piece of his mind, but they were getting ready to go down to their previous city, and fetch their furniture and other stuff from storage.

So he planned to straighten them out after they got back.

I spent a long, miserable weekend, crying a lot, barely sleeping, thinking the friendship was unsalvageable.

Jeff tried to reassure me and comfort me by making the decision for me, saying that I wouldn’t break it off yet.

We went to an SCA event to get me out of the house.  On the way home, I spent probably the better part of an hour describing all the abuse I witnessed Tracy committing against Richard and the kids while they lived in our house, so he would know what all was going on.

I wish I had written it all down at the time.  Or maybe I did, but shredded it later.

On February 22, I wrote but never sent an e-mail to Richard:

You want me to make an attempt to get past the things that happened while you guys were all staying here.  I want to, as well, and have been doing so.

But I tried and tried and tried and kept coming up against a roadblock: that you say Tracy feels herself justified in what she does and rarely apologizes.

Well, I can offer forgiveness; I can offer civility.  I can offer apologies for hurting her feelings or offending her at any point.  I certainly never meant to.

But I must assert my rights to dignity and to choose who my friends will be.

I was deeply hurt by things that happened, and no, it’s not okay.  It will NEVER be okay if all I get for each point is, “[Tracy] was justified for (whatever reason).”  No matter how reasonable the reasons may seem to her, it doesn’t erase how the action made me feel.

If I just pretend nothing happened and everything’s okay, I will get an ulcer [I had one in high school], and inside I will be miserable physically and emotionally.  I endured years of bullying as a child and in college; I’m far too old and have come too far to allow it to happen again.

In order for me to be her friend, to even consider confidences, I MUST insist that Tracy give in some and make apologies.  Otherwise it will be nothing more than civility.

I know it can be hard to do that when you feel you’re right, but to make it in this world, a person must learn how to make apologies even when she does feel justified.

There were some things that happened with the children that bothered me, but as time went on, I noticed that they seemed to lessen.  The children were also very difficult to deal with at times, so I’ve decided to cut her slack.

So these are the things that must be apologized for if she wants to be friends and not just acquaintances:

1) Doing these things in my house: Yelling at you, picking at you, accusing you of things I knew were not true [they had nothing to do with me, by the way], using a foul word [“bullsh**”] right in front of her children and [my son].

I know this was done to you and not to me, but it was done in my house and I will not have that kind of crap going on in my house.  It never affects just the couple when there are other people around.

2) Getting angry at you for talking to me, not just around New Year’s, but still getting angry at you just for wanting to come over here and grab the stuff you left behind when you moved out!  I don’t want to hear any more about it being a “respect” thing, getting to know her first–

It was deeply offensive and insulting to be treated like crap for wanting to talk to you privately about private concerns, after all that I had done for you guys, after opening my house to her.

3) Me overhearing a phone call to her mother criticizing the menu for that week.  I made that menu in the middle of the lice treatment.

Not only were we trying to deal with shampoo and nitpicking, not only did we need groceries, but I had an unbelievable amount of laundry to do, and it had to be done all in one day so as to kill off any lice in the sheets before we went to bed that night.

The menu had to be done quickly without much thought.  Sunday by necessity HAD to be fast food.

And we couldn’t incorporate lots of produce or meals made from scratch, because that takes a lot of money, and our grocery bills were already averaging $300-$400 a week.

4) Me overhearing a phone call to you as she criticized me for having a “routine.”  That “routine” keeps the house from turning into a pigsty. That “routine” keeps the house and the laundry clean.

I have been mistress of my own house for many, many years and will do things my own way.  My mother had a “routine.”

After Richard and Tracy got back with their stuff, I told Richard one day that Jeff wanted to talk with him.  They had this talk in the bar and grill on Friday, February 29.

Jeff had calmed down somewhat.  But he still tried his best to persuade Richard that I was being misjudged and mistreated, that I was naturally shy and quiet with everyone and could not be an extrovert, that my NVLD affected my social skills, that Tracy’s treatment of me was causing me to close up with her.

He came back home and said the results were very disappointing, that Richard and Tracy thought I was making “a mountain out of a molehill,” that I should just “push myself” to be more sociable with her, that the NVLD was just a crutch.

Jeff tried, but could not get Richard to feel any empathy for me at all.  Jeff was disturbed by this lack of empathy, not just then, but in the years following.

And not just for me, but in other areas, such as Richard’s “oh well” when Jeff told him that his political ideas would cause the poor to suffer for years.  A lack of empathy is also a sign of narcissism.

Lack of empathy is one of the most striking features of people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.

“Narcissists do not consider the pain they inflict on others; nor do they give any credence to others’ perceptions,” says Dr. Les Carter in the book Enough of You, Let’s Talk About Me (p. 9).

“They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings that conflict with their own.” Do not expect them to listen, validate, understand, or support you. –Randi Kreger, Lack of Empathy: The Most Telling Narcissistic Trait

And no, Sally Normal and Joe Regular, we can’t just ‘get over it’ and we can’t just ‘be normal’. The brain is a flexible organ and we do learn, but we will always be Aspies. –Rudy Simone, “Why are Aspies so Weird?  Why can’t we just “get over it” or act normally?

2. You just need to try harder. Sorry, but no. My brain does not work the way yours does. There is something the matter with mine. It’s not a matter of will, or effort.

It’s a matter of trying to figure out how to cope. You wouldn’t tell a blind person to try harder to see, would you? –Peter Flom, PhD, Things not to say to LD people (or their parents)

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

I thought Richard was my friend, that he understood me, that we were a mutual admiration society.

That he would have my back, and at least try to understand my point of view and validate it, even if he had to support his wife at the same time.

But no, there was no empathy at all.

Richard even gave Jeff the impression that it would be dangerous for me to apologize to Tracy, and that it would also be dangerous to tell her about the NVLD, because her mother had abused her while using some disorder as an excuse.

(Jeff thought it was a learning disorder, but he may have misunderstood, because I know her mother had borderline personality disorder.  Learning disorders don’t lead to abuse.)

Jeff found it very frustrating.

If it were even remotely possible for me to behave like an extrovert who didn’t have NVLD, don’t you think I would have already done so 20 years before, rather than always feeling like the odd one out, the one nobody paid attention to, the one rarely asked on dates?  Do you really think this is some sort of choice?

Unfortunately, I did not have research into introverts to show him at that time, because I did not know that the very makeup of my brain determines how I interact socially–even before you get into the problems that NVLD caused me academically, socially, athletically, and in various other ways as described here.

But who knows if even that would’ve made a difference with how he treated me, because he’s one of those extroverts who think that introverts only act the way they do because they’re stubborn, don’t like people, or aren’t trying hard enough.

Richard and Tracy probably would’ve bullied me on the playground if I knew them growing up.

It was also extremely insulting to me, putting my shyness, quiet nature, social understanding disability, and reaction to Tracy’s abuses, on the same level as the abusive actions and excuses of a crazy mother!

Most introverts experience various levels of discrimination in our extroverted society, but this was beyond the norm: It crossed the line from misunderstanding introverts, to abusing and bullying me, by trying to twist my behavior until I sounded like the bully!

It was gaslighting and echoing, both common tactics of abusers and narcissists to screw with your perception–to take the focus off their abusive actions and put it on you.

Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world. —Jonathan Rauch, Caring for Your Introvert

On March 3 I wrote an e-mail to Richard, but I don’t remember if I sent it or not:

I keep getting the impression and fearing that you have misunderstood something: I am NOT trying to get Tracy to ease up on her restriction of our going out to the bar and grill, for coffee, etc. alone.

I stopped fighting that weeks and weeks ago, I think after having a talk with Jeff [after they moved out] that calmed me down and helped me see things from the other perspective.

I know the topic came up on Friday, I’m not sure how, but he probably meant that merely to explain why I was upset and did not understand in the first place back in January, not to change anything.

I just want her to understand that I do not hate her, that she can trust me, so she can feel comfortable with me and ease up on her own time.

Okay, don’t tell her about the NVLD, if you think it’ll only cause trouble.  Just tell her that I never meant any harm to her and did not deliberately snub her.

Tell her I’m a little dense in social situations, if you think that’ll help.  I’d rather she think I was a bit thick than mean or hateful or devious.

I don’t mean the NVLD to be a crutch.  It is, rather, an explanation. I keep looking for ways to compensate for it.

The problem is that I don’t have a teacher, so oftentimes I’ll know I have a problem with something, but don’t know how to deal with it.

But nothing seemed to change.  I was still expected to change the most basic part of my personality, just as much a basic and unchangeable determinant of who I was, as my gender and race–if I ever wanted full friendship benefits with Richard.

While Tracy felt no need whatsoever to stop being an abusive bully, something which can and must be changed, because bullies violate other people’s rights to be treated with dignity.

‘And it is as fundamental a part of who we are as our gender is,’ [Susan Cain] insists. ‘Your tendency to be inward-directed [introverted] or outward-directed [extroverted] is huge; it governs every part of the way you live and work and love.’ –Jane Mulkerrins, The big noise in the quiet revolution, why introversion is in: Susan Cain on her bestseller about keeping life on the lowdown


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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