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

 

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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

 

 

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