Category: fleas from narcissist

Phil Spreads Lies About Me–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–December 1994, Part 2

This probably happened between December 5 and 12, though not the Friday before December 12: My choir friends went to a church to practice for their upcoming tour.  They would perform Handel’s Messiah in churches, including the Hallelujah chorus–most impressive of all.  They weren’t going to do it at Roanoke, so this was my only chance to hear them.

I came along to help Pearl with her wheelchair, because my friends said I should come and watch the practice.  I believe they first practiced in the sanctuary, but for some reason I wasn’t in there.

Instead, I stayed nearby and wandered around a bit.  It’s quite possible they went there just to do the Hallelujah chorus, and I wasn’t able to go in there, but went looking for the bathroom.

Later, they moved to a choir room.  Just as my friends suspected, the choir director didn’t mind me watching.  Somebody said she’d love it.

I felt a bit uncomfortable having to face the choir as I listened, the only place I could sit, and I flipped through a Life magazine while I listened to keep from looking at them and feeling weird.

But the singing was lovely.  I don’t think I’d ever heard the choir sing better.  The choir director asked me, and I told her how wonderful it sounded.

(Phil wasn’t in the choir this year, so I didn’t have to deal with him.  He had been trying to get away from the Singers and the choir, though the director wanted to keep him in.)

Remember Ned, the tall blond who flirted with every girl who moved, dated Catherine for a while, then dated Melissa, and did Virtual Reality shows with Darryl?  He was there, though he’d graduated, because he was in the S– Symphony Orchestra that accompanied the choir during the tour.  He came over once and hugged Pearl.

****

One day, Clarissa showed me a weird cartoon called Two Stupid Dogs.  I’m almost certain that’s where this line came from for Dolphin Philosophy: “I’m your friend.  You don’t eat your friends!”

****

We had InterVarsity meetings every Tuesday in the Muskie conference room.  We ate dinner there together.  On December 6, Persephone said at the meeting,

“I’m going to break up with Phil.  His parents have been harassing me.  They keep calling every half-hour looking for him when he’s not in my room.  I’ve had mono, but they act like I’m not really sick because I’m up and around now.”

Mike said at one Tuesday meeting that he got a totally unexpected letter from a high school friend he hadn’t heard from in years.  This made me think I should start writing letters to my old high school friends, just out of the blue, like that girl did.  So I wrote a few, though none of them wrote back.

****

Cindy wanted to set up Tara with Randy, but was afraid to because she also tried to set up two people back in freshman or sophomore year.  I didn’t know much about that, but heard it was a big fiasco, and the two people ended up hating each other.

To our surprise, Tara had never met Randy before.  One night during Winterim, Sharon and I tried to reassure her that he was cute and a nice guy.

I had all my Roanoke yearbooks there in my room, so Sharon and I went through them to find pictures of him to show to her.  We finally found his freshman year Cross Country and Track picture, the best we could find.

Tara and Randy decided to meet in the computer lab one night before going out on a date.

They liked each other, and Randy said to Cindy, “She’s so sweet!”  Cindy asked Tara for Randy, “Do you like Bryan Adams?”  Tara loved Bryan Adams.

They had a few other things in common, too.  I said with a smile, “Sounds like a perfect match!”

They decided to start dating, and Tara dressed up for her first date in great anxiety.  She still feared they wouldn’t like each other.  Pearl and Sharon went to her and Pearl said,

“Tara, we’ve decided to live vicariously through you.”  They, like me, had trouble getting dates, and wanted to know everything that happened on Tara and Randy’s date.

The first date must have gone well, because not only did they become a couple, they got married in 1997.  For the rest of senior year, Randy was a common guest in the apartment, which we welcomed–since, after all, Tara never had to kick her roommies out of her bedroom.

****

On the 10th, I wrote a paper for American Lit titled, Richardson and Dickinson–Two “Feminist” Writers.  I noted that both writers–though Samuel Richardson had a different idea of what a proper wife “should” do–depicted

women as capable on their own, and happiness in marriage does not necessarily occur.  Both portrayed women as quite able to be equal to men, if only given the chance.  Such concepts were quite unusual for the day.

Though Richardson’s view of a wife’s role was more traditional, he hardly expected women to be just ornamental or silly, unreasoning creatures.  His novel Clarissa depicted an intellectual and pious young woman, who often acted wisely, though at times she was trapped by her own piety.

For example, her friend Anna Howe noted that if she had not been such a dutiful and sweet-tempered daughter, her family would never have thought they could force her to marry “the odious Solmes.”  She said, in modern terms, that you teach people how to treat you.

Clarissa’s mother, though a perfectly submissive wife, was also trapped by her submission, because she became a doormat, depended on by the rest of the family to submit to anything her husband required her to do.

She felt obliged to go along with her husband when he decided, on his son’s advice, to force Clarissa to marry a contemptible man who offended all her sensibilities.  (Think Wormtail from the Harry Potter series, only with money and land.)

Clarissa agreed that she would have to submit to her husband–but she at least wanted a husband who was worth submitting to and trusting.  Richardson obviously felt women should decide whom to marry, and not just have it decided for them.

Dr. Nelson wrote on my paper, “I’m impressed by your reading–the amount you’ve read and your impassioned condemnation of standards women had to live up to in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

He also wrote that I needed to expand my analysis.  He wrote, “There’s definitely a senior honors thesis to be done here–‘Rebellious women in 18th and 19th century Anglo-American Literature’ or some such.”

****

On the 11th, Anna told me she was wrong about the guy she thought God planned for her to marry!  She had all these “proofs” that God was telling her to marry him, yet he was going out with other girls, not her.

Still, for the past couple of years, she believed he would one day be hers.  Then she found out in November that he was engaged–to someone else.

That’s when she realized it was the Devil’s lies and not God at all.  This also shook my faith in my own fleeces about Phil.

****

By December 15 I sent Mike the following note:

Querido Miguel,

¿Tienes mucho hambre?  ¿Tienes mucha cumtha?  Tienes muy guapos ojanaddiz.  No estas un dorcos pero un uchasosio.

Estrella

I signed it “Estrella” to hide who I was, since you don’t need a return address for on-campus mail.  The meaning was,

“Are you very hungry? Do you have a lot of (Nonsense word: food)?  You have very handsome (nonsense word: eyes + nose).  You are not a (nonsense word: dork) but a (nonsense word: U.C.C. member).”

Yes, it was a joke, something he couldn’t translate.  Pearl told me he went mad trying to translate it, and wondered why someone would send him that.  He soon found out who sent him the message.

I also sent this to Astrid around the same time, and signed it with the name I picked for myself in German class in high school:

Liebe Astrid,

Guten Tag, meine Freundin!  Bist du gut aufgelegt?  Hoffentlich hast du ein guten Tag.  Und hier ist ein gutes Lied:

Mein Hut, er hat drei Ecken,
Drei Ecken hat mein Hut.
Hat er nicht drei Ecken,
Er ist nicht mein Hut!

Jutta-Uschi

It meant, “Hello, my friend!  Are you in a good mood?  Hopefully you’re having a good day.  And here is a good song:”

The following is an actual, German drinking song, which Frau taught my German class:

“My hat, it has three corners, / Three corners has my hat. / If it doesn’t have three corners, / It is not my hat!”

I received many Christmas cards with wonderful messages.  My favorites:

From Sharon: “I really enjoy having you as a roomie.  You’re a great person–one of the most unique people I know.  I thank God for friends like you.”

From Mike: “Who hatched the egg that [our teacher] laid?  We did!”

****

Charles knew Phil, who kept trying to be friends with him, but Charles thought he was trying too hard.  Charles didn’t like people pushing to be his friend.

I talked with Pearl the night of the fifteenth, and she told me that Randy had started to be good friends with Phil now.

Randy used to be friends with Peter freshman year, before Peter started smoking weed and embarrassed Randy at a family function by bragging about it.

It seemed like some sort of requirement that my exes be friends with each other and with Randy at some point, and that they join the Zetas (which Charles did in the spring).  It was weird.

But then, I guess that’s small-college life for you.  Fortunately, Randy didn’t seem to like or stay friends with Phil for long.

I feared that Randy’s friendship with my exes explained why he didn’t want to date me, that they poisoned his mind against me with lies.  But Cindy set him up with Tara, and they eventually got married, so it no longer mattered anyway.

Cindy told Pearl that Randy told her that Phil said I forced him to go to Indiana and stay there for the summer, that my parents wanted to check him out and see if they wanted him to keep dating me.

This blatant lie shocked me.  I wanted to confront him about this as soon as possible.

I already wanted him to get out of my life and go far away where I would never see or hear of him again.  I did not want him back anymore.  But this was the last straw that sent me over the edge; I wanted the controlling and abuse to stop once and for all.

I didn’t see him, so I wrote a note.  Furious, I mailed it without letting it sit for long, which I shouldn’t have done, since I wrote some things that were mean, not just righteously angry.

I still regret them, and did later apologize for them, when I found him online years later.

But among the mean things, I wrote many things I never regretted, because they confronted him with the lies he kept spreading about me.  Sometimes such letters must be sent to get closure.

I told him what I just heard, that he knew it was a lie, and if he kept lying, I would report him to Memadmin.

I said I’d been trying to forgive him, but he wasn’t making it any easier.

I said I was sick of his abuse and being his scapegoat for what went wrong.  

I did give him a chance to tell me if the report I heard was wrong, but I also wrote, “Leave me and my life alone.”  Though I didn’t think of calling him a stalker, I probably could have justifiably.

Over Christmas Break, I worried whenever I thought of the note, whether it was really justified, and what would be the results.

When I got back to school, I kept expecting to open my mailbox to a scathing reply, but got nothing.  No defense, no cries of being unjustly accused.  Just complete and utter silence–not even to say hi or nod when we passed on the sidewalk.

I later learned that the school counselor (bless her heart) told him to stay away from me.  Finally, peace!

He told Pearl he didn’t say those things.

But I don’t believe him because, as I told you in the July & August 1994 chapter, one day over the summer he went on and on, reproaching me about the things he gave up to stay with me over the summer.  Though I never forced him to stay with me, he talked that day as if I had.  

And I’ve also shown you in the September 1994 chapter how he pretended to be depressed and lied to Dirk because he wanted Dirk and his roommates to feel a certain way.  He told his friends lies about me, lies which kept coming back to me, so why wouldn’t I believe he said this as well?  

I knew he used his acting ability to lie and manipulate.  Why wouldn’t he do the same to Pearl?

Once, right after I got back in January, I saw him sitting alone with Persephone, in a solitary part of the cafeteria.  He saw me.  He sat all hunched over and upset-like, his head down and his fists up to his shoulders.

Ever since then, he gave me weird looks when he saw me.  Like he felt guilty or was mad at me or just didn’t know what to say to me–I really don’t know which.

For a while, even Persephone seemed to look at me oddly, almost as if she feared to talk to me or something.  Then she talked to me sometimes, but I tried to avoid her.

I didn’t trust her.  I felt like she and certain others could be kind of like spies, whether they knew it or not: Anything I said or did around them could get reported to Phil, so I tried to guard myself around them and avoid them.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Struggling to move on despite the pain–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 1

At an Open Mike session one night, Dr. Nelson read a story, a long one with tons of pages, but very funny.  It was a conversation between two people.

He read quickly through each page–not too fast for comprehension, and apparently on purpose.  When he finished reading through a sheet, he tossed it on the floor.  That, as well as the story itself, was part of the hilarity and amusement of the story.

The Open Mike gatherings seemed to be quite popular that year.  I’m not sure how long they’d been around, but I believe they started in my underclassman days, when they were held in the Muskie.

They’d been well-attended in past years by students and teachers, but maybe even more now, probably because they were in the Pub where people liked to hang out day and night.

Many different people participated now, and it was no longer just a treat for writers: Singers and musicians were now welcome.  Two married teachers, who also had a band, played Celtic music one night, when the husband taught my Celtic class over Winterim.

One night, as my friends and I found seats, I caught a glimpse of Persephone sitting at the bar and Phil standing or sitting next to or behind her, his hand on her shoulder.  THAT was something I didn’t need to see!

I suppose I don’t even need to mention how incensed and upset and sick this made me.  But I just walked by them, ignoring them both, and went to a table with my friends and enjoyed the readings and performances.

I didn’t want Phil to think he could spoil my evening just by showing up with another girl.  I had to be stronger than that.

****

Most of my friends didn’t hang around with Peter much and didn’t know him very well, so didn’t often talk about him.  With Phil, however, things were very different.

My suitemates and possibly Astrid all went to town one day, Mike driving.  We stopped in a parking lot and Mike said before we got out,

“I’m mad at Phil O’Hara.  You know what he told me?  He said I shouldn’t wear my key chain necklace because it makes me look like a girl.”

This was the Roanoke Key Chain Necklace, a big blue thing, which was “high fashion” around campus.  You know, the sort of thing you see in any club or institution which gives out key cards.  Lots of people wore them, both male and female.

Pearl said, upset, “I wouldn’t trust anything Phil says about what’s manly.  What does he know about it?”

Another time, Charles said he didn’t like people forcing friendship on him.  He said Phil did this.  I believe he meant Phil always trying to talk with him when he didn’t want him to, or things like that, and people trying to be friends with him even though he sent out signals that he didn’t want to be.

****

We started giving Mike time-outs.  Whenever he got too weird and his jokes got way too weirdly dirty, someone called out, “Time out, Mike!” and he was supposed to settle down.  I didn’t do this myself, maybe because I have a high tolerance for oddballs–so much so that I married one.  🙂

A popular college myth, which we all believed, got exposed as a myth one day, probably senior year.  It was, if your roommate dies, you get straight A’s because of the emotional anguish.  It may have been the Mirror which revealed this wasn’t at all true.

I learned in 1998 that this is apparently a popular myth in colleges all over the country, because a comedy movie came out about a kid who tries to kill his roommate and make it look like a suicide so he can get straight A’s.

One Sunday evening, when snow covered the ground, Mike drove Pearl, Sharon or Astrid, and me to a church in S–.  We got lost.  Finally we found the church, but the service was already halfway done.

We found the congregation watching a movie (an actual projector-movie, not a VCR tape) about Dave Roever, who lost half his face in Vietnam but now uses this as a witness to how Christ helped him go on.

Since the lights were off, we could sneak in and hope nobody noticed us.  When the movie ended, people saw and greeted us and asked who we were.  They were excited to hear we were college students.  Did they know we came late?

Some guy called Mario became the target of cafeteria tray jokes.  I think he was in a frat.  I don’t know if he was a freshman pledge or what.  But people kept writing these awful, explicit jokes about him on the cafeteria trays.

My group tried to avoid the “Mario trays,” but it wasn’t always possible.  When we failed, we’d say, “Uh-oh, I’ve got a Mario tray.”

Our InterVarsity sweatshirts, ordered earlier in the year, now arrived.  They were dark blue with gold lettering.  The front said “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship” and had an alpha, cross and omega.

The back said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.–Isaiah 9:2.”

They seemed to be a fashion statement for our group: One day I went to a meal and found everybody at the table wearing one, even Charles.

****

Apparently, a lot of things bugged me that semester.  I guess Phil put me into a bad mood that lasted until December: I could feel myself getting dark and maybe even turning into less of a nice and caring person than I was before.  I didn’t like it, but didn’t know what to do about it.

Phil kept sitting at our table at meals–surrounded by people who he knew disliked him–and getting cutesy with Persephone, rubbing his new relationship in my face.

Apparently his ex-wife was not worth what respect and sensitivity he once showed to his ex Tracy when he was with me.

I was mad at Phil and getting madder, a typical response to abuse of any type, and it seems this affected my attitude toward life in general.

It took time to pull out of this, and the help of a man who treated me much better, teaching me I didn’t have to be on the defensive all the time in case another guy turned out to be a Phil.

By 1999, I started to feel more like the type of person I was supposed to be.

****

As you may have noted with the story of the Halloween party in the last chapter, Pearl was finally back, but now she had to use the wheelchair again.

When she could use her scooter she was very independent, but this was the second time she had to depend on other people to get her around the campus.  Sometimes it was hard to correlate schedules to get someone to push her wheelchair.

We’d do it for her because she was our friend and we loved her, but it did make it harder for us and, I’m sure, for her.  I know I wouldn’t like having to be dependent on somebody else every time I wanted to go across campus or even to the next building.

She couldn’t go anywhere on her own because she just wasn’t physically capable of using her scooter until she got better.  (I believe this is the time they removed one of her hips, and later they gave her a replacement.)  And that wheelchair was heavy and hard to push!

I hated seeing her in this situation, and I’m sure everybody did.  We worried about her because she had to go through so much.

She was able to walk once, long ago, and she was supposedly going to be able to walk again by this year, but there were complications and it didn’t turn out that way.

(I believe her problem was rheumatoid arthritis in the legs, which caused her not only to need crutches and the scooter, but also kept her at a childlike height.)

****

It was sometimes painful to work on my novel Jerisland, but I had to because it was now my Senior Writing Project.

When I broke up with Peter, I couldn’t work on it because I had imagined the hero Stefan was like Peter.  Stefan and Jeri were supposed to be happy together forever.  Now, all summer I had imagined Stefan was like Phil.

Before, I put the breakup with Peter in Jerisland and made things happen the way I wished (at the time) that they would have happened.  Though Stefan did awful things to Jeri, he apologized and made up for them.

In this latest rewrite, Jeri became the dumper, not Stefan.  She listened to Stefan’s best friend, who tried to convince her she belonged with Stefan.

Since Stefan reminded me of Phil, and some of the things I wrote in the story came from my relationship with Phil, it was hard to write that Stefan and Jeri had a happy marriage that lasted forever.

But I had to because there was no way I wanted those two to break up.  It seemed I could never have a happy relationship that lasted for the rest of my life, but dang it, I wanted Jeri to have one with Stefan!

****

Apparently we were supposed to read shelves in the library.  I had never heard of this rule before, or that any of us had been assigned to certain shelves.  But Sharon and I started doing this together.

We basically scanned the Dewey decimal numbers to make sure the books were in order.

It could get boring quickly, but we talked about life, and the cool and old and weird and German-language books we’d find.

We even found one on Egyptian hieroglyphics.  We checked it out of the library.  We were supposed to draw up our own copy of the Egyptian alphabet, but never got around to that.  I loved working with Sharon.

I enjoyed re-shelving books.  Pulling or pushing along the book cart, going upstairs in the elevator (the only one on campus besides the one in the Wehr Center), going in among the stacks putting books away–it all made me feel so important: “I work here!”

We put the books in numerical order before taking the cart away from the circulation desk, to speed up re-shelving.

Re-shelving took me away from the desk and from life in general, sticking me in among the stacks, where I wanted to be.  I still had no clue where Tara and Sarah’s “haunted bookshelf” was.  (They said books would fall out of it.)

Sometimes I felt a little creeped out in the juvenile section, a tiny room at the very top of the building.  My friends told stories about it being haunted.

But I’d find the most wonderful and obscure books in the library, and often come back with books on the cart, to be checked out.  I loved checking my own book out rather than waiting for a clerk, writing my name on the card, putting it in the card box, and putting a date due card in the book.

Sometimes I felt light-headed and dizzy in this room.  Sometimes I wondered if I felt this way because I was pregnant.  At various times in my life, I’ve had these sudden bouts of dizziness, though they don’t last long, and I go years without feeling it again.

Of course, nowadays I am aware that my dizziness in that room could’ve been caused by elevation and an old structure.  This can also explain dizziness people sometimes feel in old houses, which they attribute to ghosts.

But it wasn’t as bad as when he first divorced me and I could barely get through my two hours (dazed or numb, Helene called it), trying to go through the card catalog doing a project we’d been given, and not go crazy with the pain, fear of losing my husband forever, and sadness.  The working day took forever in those days.

But in November, trying to get through the work day wasn’t quite so bad anymore.  Being in the stacks alone or with Sharon, though sometimes hard to handle when sad thoughts returned, was often a solace, reminding me that I belonged among books.  My purpose and calling was to read and write.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 15

My friends were disgusted with how Phil had been treating me.  This included at least two guys–Mike and Charles–so it wasn’t just the female perspective saying he was an a**hole.

I later learned that James, too, thought he was a creep, and that Phil and Persephone deserved each other because she was the most negative person he ever met.

Sharon said Phil was domineering and possessive.  It was funny because he or his “friends” had been saying I was possessive!  I sure couldn’t remember being possessive.  She (the Psych major) said he had a psychosis, and that his whole family was psychotic, so she tried to stay away from them all.

Though I still had trouble letting go of all my feelings, I think this time I got so angry that I lost all the love I ever had in my heart for him.  Though at times the feelings returned, in my heart it was over.

The times I wanted him back, were probably denial of the truth, or fear of ending up alone.  His true self had been shown to me in vivid technicolor.

I hope I haven’t done too much ranting in these blogs, but I felt I needed to show what happened, just in case one of you finds yourself in similar situation.  You don’t have to stay there.  I also wanted to tell people what really happened.

I’ve read that women who’ve been abused in some way often have trouble with anger management.  That might explain why I got incredibly angry with Phil–more angry than I ever was with Peter or Shawn–and to this day still struggle with residual anger.  My friends and family heard me say things about Phil that they never heard me say about anybody else, and it shocked them.

Quoted from Abuse in a Christian Marriage:

“The feelings you’re likely dealing with Crystal are anger, pain, betrayal, fear, trauma, sadness, shame and more. These are very common feelings for abuse victims, and in order to get past them they have to be acknowledged and dealt with.”

Also see later on, “Healing from past abuse.

What also didn’t help me get over the anger: Recently [this was written in 2006], Dr. Phil McGraw said on his show that if a woman does not feel heard, she keeps saying it over and over until she does feel heard.

I did not feel heard, so I said what I needed to say in letters.  Still, I got no apology, just a guy who acted like I had nothing to be angry about.  Why on earth did I not want to say hi to him when he said it to me?  Gee, why do you think?

It’s hard to forgive and let go when someone never acknowledges they did something horrible to you, when they never show remorse.  Years later, it still burns you up, no matter how much you pray for the strength to forgive.

The only thing to make forgiveness easier is to finally receive an apology.  Even if it takes many years, that’s still better than never.

Bullying causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, lower self-worth and feeling helpless.  It is a psychiatric injury, which traumatizes a person.  

When a bully is supported by his friends, when authority figures aren’t interested in stepping in–even resorting to blaming you for the bullying, when the bully “gets away with it”–this makes it much harder for the bullied to reach “closure.”  

Here are listed traits of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and of psychiatric injury; I especially identify with these traits:

  • An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience

  • A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice

  • A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty

  • A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does

  • A constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people

  • An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimisation or possible victimisation, often wrongly diagnosed as “persecution”

  • Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable

  • A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible

  • An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those close to you

  • The person is by now obsessed with the situation (or rather, resolving the situation), cannot switch off, may be unable to sleep, and probably has nightmares, flashbacks and replays

These things either have affected in the past, or still do affect, me.  [This was written in 2006.]

Sometimes Always” by The Jesus and Mary Chain played often before, during, and after the second time Phil and I were together: A guy breaks up with his girlfriend.  He comes back, she refuses at first, then takes him back.

I liked to mentally sing along with the female singer when she said, “You went away; you can’t come back.”  When Phil came back to me, I identified with the line, “You went away, but now you’re back.”  I also liked the image of the groveling ex-boyfriend.

On the 29th, I wrote in the new Journal my friends and I started,

There’s also this emptiness, like a part of me is missing.  Especially when I’m alone and doing mechanical, everyday things.  “Meaningless, everything is meaningless.”  (Ecclesiastes)

It makes friends and (Mike will recognize this) “future hope” so important.  [I think “future hope” must have been a term from Intro to Christianity class, probably meaning Heaven, hope that things will get better.]  The emptiness starts to go away a little bit.

Maybe this is really a cry for help.  You guys’ll have to keep an eye on me.  I’ve found myself not caring how close the cars are on the drive[way]s, and it’s scaring me.

I’ve been through bad times before but gotten through them.  [namely, Peter and Shawn]  Things always get better.  But how long until they do?

…Someone who accused InterVarsity of being a clique [Dirk] also said that maybe I should pull away from it.  He couldn’t have been more wrong.

I need InterVarsity–an oasis of spirituality and learning how to get closer to God.  My faith is really being tested since a couple nights ago.

I feel like God told me one thing but the exact opposite is true.  Which can’t be, because God doesn’t lie.  He wants me to trust Him, even in all this when I can’t figure out what He’s doing or if He’s even doing anything.  I’m sure somebody should be able to relate.

For years, He’s been telling me time and time again, “Trust Me.”  Which is so hard to do, when it should be so easy to trust someone as trustworthy as God is.  That Psalm 13 really fits.

(For those of you who weren’t at Pearl’s Bible study last week, that’s what we studied.  David crying out to God in desperate circumstances, and finally saying that he knows God will help him.)

I saw a poster in Counselor Dude’s office that asked, If you couldn’t write, would you die?–In my case, I think so.  There’s just something about putting words on the page that makes life worthwhile for me.  Another reason why I think this journal is such a good idea.  Probably also a reason why I write such long letters!

Written October 2011:

After doing more research into abuse and narcissism, thanks to dealing with two narcissists who abused and maligned me in 2010, I now believe that Phil’s first breakup with me was not intended to be permanent.  

I believe it was actually his attempt to control me.  Because I wasn’t submissive enough, he wanted to force me to submit, to show me that the consequences of not submitting meant losing him–to break my spirit.

And it worked, for a time.  For the week he was back with me, I was afraid to do anything that would make him go away again.  I was very submissive, giving in to anything he wanted, no matter how baffling (going to Thailand for a year), outlandish or distasteful (oral sex, which he knew I hated, and he had not washed himself, so it smelled awful).

Even during the two weeks between the first breakup and week back together, I was submissive during our negotiations:

For example, he asked if I would object if he started smoking and drinking, and I said I would not.  During the negotiations, if I started saying or doing things he didn’t like, the rage wall went up again, and he would ditch me, go off and tell Dirk what I was doing wrong, etc.

During those two weeks, Dirk (Phil’s puppet) came to me and told me to distance myself from my friends.  So Phil was, once again, trying to control me by separating me from my friends, the ones who saw him for what he really was.  

And when we got back together but I “screwed up” by not “supporting” him as he bashed me to my friends, he left again.  It disgusts me to think of how submissive I was just to hold onto this controlling man.

(For more on the above-described situations, see here.)

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Phil cuts off contact–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 8

That night was awful.  I tried to talk to Phil about what the counselor said.  I didn’t yell or scold or anything.

But he stonewalled, suddenly abandoned me for a time to talk to Dirk, treated me like a stupid witch who had nothing worthwhile to say, then treated me like I had no right to wonder when we were going to get back to our conversation.  These are abuse tactics.

They sat in the foyer of the library, while I was inside the library, on the other side of the wall/windows and glass door.

So Dirk, who knew absolutely nothing about marriage, became Phil’s choice of marriage counselor.  So Dirk became privy to who knew what, while I was given no chance whatsoever to tell Dirk my own side of things, and was left out of the conversation about me.

Dirk basically was put in the middle of everything, and probably fed Phil all sorts of bullcrap.

But I wasn’t even supposed to wonder how long this conversation was going to keep us from our own conversation, because when I went to the windows/door and looked at them, he made a gesture toward me as if to say to Dirk, “See what I mean?”

What on earth he meant by that, I had no clue, because I’d been left waiting by myself for quite a long time already, and this was extremely rude of Phil.

Earlier, he had given me every reason to believe that reconciliation was possible.  But now, after talking with Dirk, he suddenly said we couldn’t even be friends.  It is interference like this that led to me loathing Dirk, so much so that 20 years later, I still won’t even friend him on Facebook.

This stunned me.  I can’t remember why he said this.  I doubt that I knew then what changed the course of the conversation, because he only communicated through yelling and stonewalling.

But now as I look back over this, I’m certain it was Dirk’s doing.  I don’t know why on earth Dirk was so determined to split us up, since he did not want me for himself.  Unless, of course, Dirk was actually Phil’s pawn, manipulated into believing that I was the abuser instead of Phil.

I have every reason to believe this is why.  Abusers recruit others to help with the abuse, by making them believe that the victim is the abuser.  This is called control by proxy.

When I first made notes of this argument a couple of years later for my memoir, I wrote that Phil probably either overreacted–or was only acting.  He’d done a lot of acting those few days, as he told me a few days after this event–and as I realized when I contrasted his words to his actions.

All I could do was leave him and not talk to him again.

I didn’t realize yet that his actions proved he had never loved me, no matter what he told me before or his insistence that he still loved me.  When you truly love someone, you don’t treat her this way.

In 1996 or 1997, as I worked with Cugan’s friend Laura on ideas for my wedding dress, she told me she knew Phil.  He used to come into the gaming shop where she was a clerk, and buy dice and other Dungeons and Dragons items.  She knew that Phil had to marry his girlfriend.  And that shop was in M–, not S–!  Small state, eh?

He used to go there with his high school friends, with whom he kept in touch after high school.  Laura told me they were upset with him over something, and that he’d been ostracized for it, but she didn’t know what the thing was.  I always wondered if they finally saw how he treated his women.

Laura used to think he was a nice guy, but she had been an abused wife herself, and stopped liking him as soon as I told her he was “borderline abusive.”

I’ll say this as well, in case any of you finds yourself in a similar situation.  I have heard and read other stories of emotional abuse.  In one, the guy made a date with another woman while lying in bed with his girlfriend, and then told his girlfriend she deserved that.

Many times, an abuser will hit his wife because she did something he thought she shouldn’t have done.  She will then start to believe she deserved what she got.  Don’t let yourself get into this trap.

In the following months, my friend Helene said, “It sounds like he’s trying to control you even after the relationship is over.”

Did he break up with me because he couldn’t control me?  (Sort of like in the song “Control” by Puddle of Mudd: “I can’t control you/ You’re not the one for me, no.”  Or in “Special” by Garbage: “I have run you down into the ground/ Spread disease about you over town/ I used to adore you/ I couldn’t control you.”

Also, in a letter to the editor in the 9/28/98 edition of US News and World Report, speaking of the Clinton/Lewinsky/Starr scandal and Hillary’s insistence on standing by her adulterous husband, a reader wrote, “Even women battered and bloodied will defend their abusers.”  A typical response of an abused woman is, “He was right and I was wrong.  I deserved what I got.”

In one way I was typical, in that I didn’t see the abuse for what it was.  In another I wasn’t, in that I refused to say I deserved what I got and that Phil was right to treat me the way he did.  This refusal to be a victim, to just sit back and take it, to act like a victim, may be a subconscious reason why Phil left me–which was actually a mercy.

Of course, some people might say I did sit back and take it like a victim, because I didn’t just tell him to leave.  But it’s common for abused women to say, as I did, that I loved him and didn’t want to leave.  After all the trouble I had finding a Christian man at a Christian college, and one who actually wanted to be with me, where else would I find one, especially one I had so much in common with?

Also, during the summer, even when I felt like telling Phil, “Go back to Wisconsin,” I didn’t because we were married.  I saw marriage as a lifelong commitment that was not to be broken lightly.

This may be why he married the new girl, who had been abused by a boyfriend before.  (We see the common trend of a woman subconsciously seeking out abusers, and finding them.  Cindy said she probably thought Phil wasn’t abusive because he didn’t seem as bad as the previous abuser.)

Years later, April 9 and 10, 1998, what can I say?  That he treated me like the bad guy when, all along, he was the bad guy.  He was emotionally abusive, and didn’t listen to a word I said, didn’t treat my feelings or ideas or words like they were worth his attention or care.

He’d said he’d be my husband, said we were meant for each other, even said he was my husband–yet had no respect for his commitment, or for me.  All he cared about was himself.  Just before the breakup, he told his friends that he still loved me–but he didn’t show it.

He also didn’t talk to me about whether or not a breakup was necessary, or even try to work out the misunderstanding of the night before the breakup, but to other people.  And then told me after he had already decided, all by himself.

(When did he talk to them?  There wasn’t much time in between Thursday night and Friday afternoon.  And how long did he take to process the things they said?  Did he even give himself enough time?)

He talked with my parents on the phone, at their request, but didn’t listen to them; he didn’t even want to go to a counselor for help.  It was all what he wanted, and he didn’t listen to any of my suggestions for what we could do to fix things.

He seemed to think I was the problem, but was too blind to see that very similar things would happen all over again with other girlfriends.  He refused to see his own failings, while I was willing to see mine.

But when you look at why I did them–because he was so hard to deal with and I didn’t know how else to get through to him, and he was so irresponsible that I was forced to nag at him for things–you can easily see they were tiny compared to his own failings.  (It’s called catching fleas from your abuser.)

Being forced to act like a mother and make a guy get up in time to go to his own job, being forced to nag at him until he gets his brakes fixed because this is the last day he’ll have a chance (before you go on a long road trip back to campus) and he just wants to be a slugabed–

These are nothing compared to the sin of emotional abuse, sexual abuse by forcing someone to do unnatural acts, and the threat of physical abuse if he finally decided to carry out his threats to hit.

He threatened me once or twice with physical violence (I have described at least one such instance to you), and really did slap Persephone while they were together.  (She slapped him right back, and he never did it to her again.)

And my second husband, Cugan, considers some of the sexual abuse to be physical as well, because after all, it took physical force to do the things he did.

Phil said he was a better person when not around me–a convenient phrase taken from Mrs. Doubtfire–but this was not true.  He was no better with Persephone, as I describe later.

Sharon said in 1996 or 1997, that watching him and his new girlfriend was like watching him and me all over again, only worse because she would lie about where she was when she missed Phi-Delt meetings for him.

Cindy heard him yelling at her the way he used to yell at me, and she was not happy with him at all.  When the new girlfriend got pregnant, Pearl tried to warn her not to marry him; she didn’t listen.  And in 2007, they divorced.

At a Christmas party at Sharon’s house in 1997, my friends, not me, brought up the subject of Phil, soon after somebody said they saw Dave working at Dunham’s Sporting Goods.  Pearl said with a laugh that Phil and his new wife’s kid should be taken away by the SPCC, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

My friends told me he treated me like a child, and that’s one reason why they no longer liked him soon after we started dating–besides the fact that they considered him annoying.

But back to September 1994.  When you’ve been married to and living with someone all summer and they suddenly cut off all contact with you, even though they’ve been abusing you, you feel like a part of you is lost.

Wednesday, September 14.  On one of these early days of the week, Helene came to the library and saw me.  That’s probably when I told her about the breakup, while updating the card catalog.

She said she had been engaged three times since her husband died in a plane crash, and each engagement had been broken.  She was numb for the first few days afterward.

I felt similar, and could barely get through my shifts at the library.  Time was molasses, so slow I could hardly bear it.  Everything I did at the library, including updating the card catalog, made me restless.

I confided in Helene, called her on the phone once, and often sat with her at lunch during the next several months.  I talked about my feelings and got her advice; we discussed a book she lent me about dealing with a divorce.

For both of us, a favorite part of the book described a counselor’s experience in his support group for divorcees.  One woman saw her ex-husband having a picnic with a new girlfriend.  She ran her vehicle over them.  The people in the group said, “Ooh!  Did she back up and run over them again?”

While I confided in Helene, Phil confided in her best friend Kay.  He seemed to think of her as a sister.

I think it was Helene, or maybe Anna, who first said Phil seemed like good marriage material, but needed to grow up.  But later on, Helene said his turning to Persephone confirmed her worst fears about him, that he would go on to somebody else right away rather than trying to work out problems.

I told her how Phil treated me during the marriage; she liked him less every time I talked to her about him.

I spent most of my time with my friends or working or in class or eating or alone in the apartment, trying to do homework and deal with things and get on with life.

As much as possible, I wanted to go on with my daily life without grief interfering.  I lost very little, if any, sleep, and kept eating properly.  I dealt with things much better than when Peter broke up with me.

And after what Phil said on Tuesday night, I kept my distance from him.  No, I was never the stalker-type; if somebody told me to stop talking to them, I stopped.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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Catching FLEAS from Narcissists and Abusers

I have caught my own FLEAS while dealing with Tracy.

Sometimes, we who have been targeted by the abuses of a narcissist, wonder if we, too, are now narcissists.  It can be catching, especially if we are raised by narcs.

But the recovery community uses the term “fleas” to describe our own harmful behaviors, picked up from the narcs, but which do not mean we ourselves are narcs.  The trick is to figure out whether you are a narc yourself, or just have “fleas” which you can kill off with a good flea bath.

As posted in FLEAS – Bad Behavior Patterns and Habits Picked Up from Living or Dealing with a Narcissist by Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers:

Now, you may not have NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Some children of Narcissists do, and some don’t. Let’s say you don’t, but you were raised by someone who did/does. Therefore you have some issues that can take the shape of NPD – like a shadow or a snow angel, or even an echo.

You’ll have some issues in the same sorts of areas that Narcissism occupies, because you picked up these fleas FROM a Narcissist.

…..But you don’t have NPD.

What you have is the shadow – “maladaptive behaviors”, as psychologists call them, the unhelpful patterns you have been taught, and which you have had to resort all your life.

And they are glued in, most often, by the shame you have been made to carry.

What you have is nicknamed “FLEAS.” They’re the bad behavior patterns and habits we picked up from living with a nutcase who had total and unhealthy control over us. They are the pain and guilt and crazy patterns we had to take on as children in order to just survive. And they’re completely un-learnable.  (Meaning, you can un-learn them!)

One of the most common issues that newbies demonstrate is a tremendous fear that they themselves have NPD.

It’s a perfectly understandable fear. All human beings do Narcissistic things, and when DoNM’s who don’t have NPD recognize and acknowledge their own self-centered behaviors, they sometimes worry that they have NPD.

They feel guilty about possibly having hurt someone’s feelings, been self-centered, etc., and they panic. It can really be upsetting, even terrifying. And they beat themselves up mercilessly for it – because that’s what they’ve been taught to do.

You’ll notice that I said, “Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers who don’t have NPD”…

In order for someone to recognize, acknowledge and feel guilty about their own Narcissistic behaviors, they first have to have a level of empathy and sense of emotional responsibility that Narcissists, by definition, do not possess.

On the DoNM forum, the usual response to such a person is, ‘If you’re that worried about the impact of your behavior on others, and you’re willing to publicly share your fear of being NPD, trust us — you don’t have NPD… you just have FLEAS.’”

Violet writes in Am I a Narcissist, Too?  All About Fleas:

We can pick up fleas anywhere. I have seen things on FaceBook, people saying really hurtful, mean things about LGBT people, about people of colour, about the poor and disadvantaged, about women, and they are absolutely shameless about it.

Some of these people are narcissists, but others have picked up fleas from narcissistic politicians, pastors, or other authority figures they either revere or fear. Taken out of that environment and shown how their words and attitudes actually hurt other living, breathing human beings, some of these people will feel shame for what they said and the hurt they caused.

Others will not, and they will rationalize and justify what they said, even blame their victims for their hurt (I have actually seen someone say that feeling hurt by the words of a bully is a choice, that you can choose not to be hurt and therefore what the bullies say and do is OK!) : these people are most likely narcissists.

I’ve seen versions of this as well.  For example, statements that we choose to be offended by others; that we can simply stop being offended.  Or, “I’m not responsible for your emotions.”

There are different ways people mean this, however.  The first was said in the context of, Yes, what they said is offensive, but you can choose your own reactions–thereby not giving the offender power over you.

The second, I’ve seen used as an excuse to do whatever you want, because it’s the other person’s fault if they’re offended.  It was said by Richard to me, after I told him he was doing some things that hurt me.  I forget what they were, just that it was close to the time we broke off the friendship, and that he basically took the responsibility for my being hurt off his shoulders, putting it on mine.  ???!!!

I’ve seen it in other places as well, the excuse that if we hurt somebody, it’s their fault for being hurt.  That’s very narcissistic, and goes against everything my husband and I were taught growing up.  It’s yet another sign that I’ve pegged Richard correctly as a narcissist.

If you’ve hurt and offended someone, the very least you can do is apologize for hurting them, even if you don’t feel your action was wrong in and of itself.  You can listen to how you can avoid hurting that person again.

Sure there are times when that person was offended by an innocent action which should not be offensive (ie, offended by a gay man kissing his partner in public, or offended by an introvert who means well but is quiet, or offended by a woman breastfeeding her baby at the mall).

But oftentimes, the offensive act could simply be avoided next time.

(Also see this post.)

Tracy, too, as I saw time and again, would justify whatever she did, even though it hurt others.  She hurt Todd, so she justified it as his fault.  She hurt me, so to this day she justifies her actions as “nothing wrong” and talks like my being hurt is somehow “childish.”

Even Richard told me back in February 2008, Good luck getting an apology out of her, because she rarely apologizes to anyone, thinking whatever she does is justified.  I don’t have the e-mail in front of me and don’t recall if I kept it, but I still remember it.

(I remember thinking when I got it, “I don’t want to deal with that woman anymore!”  This was the first time I seriously thought about breaking off the friendship.)

She used Richard’s past abuses of the children to justify her own abuses of the children (I have an e-mail proving this).  Which means she’s like this to everybody: me, Todd, even Richard.  And this is one of the signs of a narcissist, according to the above.

There is more good stuff in that blog post, explaining how we can tell if we’re narcissists or have just picked up some “fleas”–and how to eradicate those fleas.

From the website Out of the Fog (Fear, Obligation, Guilt):

Fleas – When a non-personality-disordered individual (Non-PD) begins imitating or emulating some of the disordered behavior of a loved one or family member with a personality disorder this is sometimes referred to as “getting fleas”….

Sometimes, when a person has been exposed to an abusive situation for a sustained period, they will look for ways to escape – and sometimes they will experiment or resort to behaviors which are not characteristic but serve as a mechanism to demonstrate their anger.

These behaviors are often destructive and counter-productive and rarely get the abuse victim what they want. These behaviors usually result in regret, shame and apologies from the abuse victim towards their perpetrator. Some perpetrators may seize on such incidents as justification for their own abusive behavior or as a diversion from it….

However, most Non-PD’s are more accustomed to “keeping the peace” than being aggressors and most of us are not comfortable or accomplished in winning arguments or fights.

We will often back down or feel remorse after lashing out. We may begin to compare our behavior to that of the person with the personality disorder and wonder if we are the ones who have “the” problem.

It is common for Non-PD’s to begin to question if they are the one who suffers from a personality disorder. It is also common for Non-PD’s to greatly fear retribution after an angry outburst and engage in a manipulative campaign, similar to hoovering to try to deflect consequences or payback.

That link also gives ways to avoid catching “fleas.”

When looking back over and writing about the situation with Richard and Tracy, I discovered my own “fleas” caught from dealing with Tracy’s abuses and Richard’s abusive enabling of her abuses–or, as a mutual friend once put it, coddling her BS, just as Richard complained people did for Tracy’s mentally ill mother.

I was angry with her abuses and bullying, and trying to fight and resist them.  Tracy would then pounce on these fleas or other mistakes and bring them up, whether to Richard and/or to me, again and again and again, as proof of my “bad” character.

I grew up with a narcissistic brother, but the rest of my family (except for an aunt by marriage) is not narcissistic.  I was bullied as a child, but this is common for anyone who is in any way different from the “norm,” and I was an imaginative, socially awkward child who struggled to fit in, who did not understand why everyone called me “weird.”

But ever since I left my childhood bullies behind and entered adulthood, moved away from my brother, and found a husband who is not a narcissist, who is willing to face his own flaws and improve on them–I was not used to being so relentlessly bullied by anyone.

I thought most adults were far too mature to do this, that most childhood bullies and “mean girls” grew up eventually.  (In fact, this belief allowed me to forgive my childhood bullies.)

The things Tracy said to and about me, cuts on my character, snarks at anything I did or said, cutting on the most innocuous of things (like my husband being the cook), even outright lies (like that I did not serve vegetables or that I manipulated my husband or that I never tried to befriend her or that I was never allowed all the privileges of Richard’s other friends), startled and appalled me: a definite smear campaign.

Even worse was that I occasionally did do things were wrong, “fleas” which I picked up in desperation to try to somehow deal with and fend off her many attacks.  And when I did, she grabbed onto them and would not let them go–the proverbial dog with a bone.

I’d apologize, and/or never do those things again, thinking that was enough–but they would be brought up again and again anyway, as if I did them continuously and never stopped.

There was a serious power imbalance, power struggle.  Friendships are not supposed to be one person in charge, making all the rules, which the other has to obey.  They’re supposed to be give and take.  And I was sick of trying and trying only to get more bullying and abuse all the time.

She also complained about things I did which were not wrong, such as when I told my husband in what I thought was a private conversation, how she was abusing and bullying me, Richard and the children.  I could stand up in righteous indignation and know that she was being unjust.

But when I did do something wrong, it became something she could use against me in perpetuity.  She did the same thing to Richard, from things he has told me.

There’s nothing you can do to make up for these things.  There’s no way you can get a narc to back off from your faults.  When you commit the mistake, she goes into orgasmic glee as she smears you on Facebook and says what a wonderful day she’s having.  When you apologize, she uses this chance to beat you over the head about what a worm you are for having done it.

Meanwhile, the many abuses she has committed against you and others are forgotten, never apologized for because you “deserved” them, and you better “grow up” and accept these abuses as your due because you’re so horrible, so it does you no good to point them out to her.  All you can do is escape and lick your wounds till they heal–far away from the narc.

For an example of how completely a narcissist can justify, excuse and forget her own many abuses, just see what Tracy wrote to me here.

If you can look with regret on your own mistakes and sins without justifying them, maybe understand why you did them but without excusing yourself, then no, you are no narcissist: You have just caught fleas.

 

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Realizing how Richard manipulated me into doing things I shouldn’t

This video, “NPD and BPD” by Delusion Dispeller, on the differences between NPD (narcissism) and BPD (borderline) makes Tracy sound more narcissistic than borderline.  DD shows that the narcissist will just let you go, while the borderline will try to hold onto you.

She even goes into breaking the BPD’s rules without knowing what they are–which sounds very familiar.  She says you never know what will offend them because it will one minute, but not the next.

The danger of researching personality disorders, of course, is not just falsely labeling your friends and enemies (so I only say this after probably dozens of hours of research and reflection), but beginning to think you yourself identify with this or the other one.

But then, if I were these things, I don’t think Jeff would have stuck with me for so long, telling everyone he can what a great wife I am.  Things were rocky for us in the beginning because of the baggage left over from my exes (at least one of which also fits with this), but that has long since passed as Jeff and my desire for me to be a good person, worked together to eradicate the baggage.

I do recall things in my past that are very embarrassing, and cringe that I ever did them; maybe everybody has done such things, and the cringing is a sign that they are NOT actually crazy.  While if they didn’t cringe at all, maybe they really are crazy.

Perfectly normal people do have various traits that show up in the lists of abusive or personality disordered traits, because we are human, not perfect; what makes a person fit the criteria of an abuser is the number of traits, all working together as a whole.

Also, the things I did, were usually because I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know intuitively that they were bad ideas, a common problem with NLDers, who often either smother or neglect friendships or relationships because they don’t know intuitively how to proceed, don’t pick up on signs of what their friend or SO wants without being directly told, or if they do pick them up, don’t understand them.

I had no idea that the things I did would receive the reactions and consequences they did.  I never did them again.

While if it were a personality disorder, they would stay with me, and probably be done deliberately in order to gain control and dominance over others.

The people who know me best tend to say glowing things about me, though they do have criticisms from time to time.  But the thoughts still keep creeping in from time to time–maybe Tracy was right.

On the one hand I could be alarmed at this, and see it as evidence that she was crazy-making me, which is indeed something abusers do to take the focus off their own dysfunctions and accuse you.

But on the other hand, I can also embrace it as evidence that I’m not crazy, because if I were BPD or narcissistic or the like, I wouldn’t even consider the possibility that I might have done some things wrong.

Rather, there are things I look back on in this whole experience with Richard and Tracy that sometimes make me go inside myself and shiver inwardly in shame, while those around me probably think I’m just quietly watching a movie with them.

Friends and Jeff have at times scolded me for even considering anything Tracy said, telling me (friends) to consider the source, or (Jeff) that I did nothing wrong.  This is reassuring, but I have trouble releasing the occasional feelings of guilt or shame that let me know I am not a monster myself.

It should also be noted, that a person involved with a Borderline for even a limited time, will be prone to adopting psychotic (BPD) symptomology, due to proximal exposure. That’s why we call their behaviors, “crazy-making.” —The Borderline/Narcissist Couple

This explains some of the things I’ve done in dealing with the BPDs or narcissists or abusers who have come and gone in my own life, including Richard and Tracy.

For example, the narcissist abuser Phil who kept trying to tear me down and telling me it was all my fault, that I always had to get my way–while his way involved painful or disgusting sex positions that I didn’t want to do.

Or Peter, who may very well have been BPD because of his “chameleon-like” way of making a girl think he was her perfect man, before his true colors came out later and he treated her like crap for being upset at getting dumped.

Not only did he do this with me, but a few years later I was told–by a person who had no clue I had once dated Peter–that he was doing this very thing again and again to girls on a local BBS.

As for some of the crazy things I’ve done myself while dealing with these people, they’re things I felt driven to do out of desperation.  Later on, I usually felt ashamed of it and wondered how I could ever have done it, never doing it again.

I know from research that normal, healthy people don’t stay normal and healthy for long in dysfunctional marriages, or family relationships, so if I acted crazy myself a few times during dysfunctional relationships or friendships, it’s understandable even if not excusable–but doesn’t mean I will permanently retain the taint of their dysfunction.

I did a lot of research into abuse to see if I had been abused, validate my experiences, reassure myself that I did not deserve it, and hopefully learn to heal.  When I first came across Sam Vaknin’s site on narcissism, it was through his articles on abuse.

I had already used them when writing about my abusive ex Phil, and when researching abuse between 2008 and 2010.  (I did that because of Tracy’s behavior, and so I could make my own page on abuse.)

On one page was a list of narcissistic traits of abusers which sounded just like Tracy, so the lightbulb went on.  I also came across sites which pointed to borderline personality disorder in many abusive women.

But as I read Sam Vaknin’s articles on narcissism, an uncomfortable little voice kept saying: Oh my gosh, that’s Richard, too!

This cemented the idea that not only did I not deserve what happened, but I was targeted by two narcissists, one with BPD that made her abuse obvious, but one charming narc who makes you believe he cares–more dangerous because it is subtle.

Also, this sounds very much like Richard and Tracy.  Now, when it goes into the childhoods of NPDs (narcissists) and BPDs (borderline personality disordered people), I know Tracy came from a very dysfunctional family, while Richard said glowing things about his parents–even excusing it when he hinted at his dad abusing him in some way.

As for narcissism, the know-it-all traits under the subheading “What’s Love Got to do with It” sound very familiar, coming across as an absolute authority, one-upping, mansplaining, telling you what you’re thinking or feeling, and yes, it is very infuriating.

Then he’d wonder why I was getting upset over something he said.  “Where did that come from?  I was only….[etc. etc.]”

I can imagine the same thing happening with Tracy.  So no, I don’t believe the abuse was all one-sided in this relationship, and as much as I don’t want to see Richard as a narcissist, he fits far too well.

Not only from what I’ve seen, but from what Jeff has observed, from his Forum enemies calling him “arrogant” and him agreeing, and from things he has told me about his past–not just boasts, but also confessions of his own bad behaviors, whether with women or with people in general.

Not only did he overwhelm people with charisma, but he also kept overwhelming me with TMI that made me want to take an ice pick to get it out of my brain.

Then in June 2010, made some strange comment about needing to set some boundaries about his past relationships, even though he’d been the one volunteering all sorts of information to me–even stuff I really didn’t want to know.

But thanks to this, I can identify from the above link that he has a tendency of getting enmeshed with BPDs.

Also note that BPDs who have issues with their mothers (such as Tracy) can hate all other women.  This sounds very familiar, as well.  Also, people would note that Tracy was never satisfied, a trait which comes up again and again in articles on abusers and BPDs.

I believe Richard is a narcissist who used me for narcissistic supply, maybe unintentionally or without realizing it, but still did it.  He had told me enough about his past which seemed so different from the way he was now, that it was amazing he was talking about the same person.

It was an arrogant, abusive person who was a dog to women and violent to men, who would judge people based on their smarts.  I have to wonder now if that old Richard was really gone, or just hidden.

Based on how he would brag about his past and all the women who would chase him then and now, and how his exes would sit and talk to each other about how evil he was, and his outrageous flirting that was carried on with his various female friends (and male), even via text message while he proposed to his wife–I do believe he is a casanova figure.

He wants to be desired, wants to be the ladykiller even though he’s married and not allowed to touch any of them.  He wants to be the casanova even though he’s long since let himself go quite a bit and no longer looks anything like he did back in his youth.

So he toyed with me, played with my head, when he was separated from his wife for so long and they were having problems.  He told me beforehand that modern American society is far too prudish and reserved.  We should be freer!

(Months later, he even told me one day that I was prudish for wearing a robe over my nightgown around him, that they had another friend who just wore her nightclothes freely around both of them, no robe.)

Then one evening he took a few liberties with me, but holding back just enough that he could feign innocence when I called him on it later.  I won’t rehash that story; it’s already here, here and here.  From here on out I will just assume my reader has read those sections, so I don’t have to repeat what happened.

I’m not sure what exactly to make of it–I’ve seen him get flirty with everybody he knows, and ask for “huggles”–but the way he threw me to the wolf (Tracy) over it, suggests to me that his motives were not pure.

I told him not to put his head in my lap anymore, that if Tracy had trouble with just using each other’s shoulders as pillows then she’d really have a problem with that, and it’s a very questionable thing to do anyway.  (He only did it once.)  Though I really felt the “shoulder thing” was much ado about nothing.

Some part of me knew that he was only telling me part of the truth.  It was the best kind of lie: the one that is mostly true.  But I trusted him, became a good little acolyte, taking in my mentor’s instruction and making it my own belief.

It is indeed true that many people are far freer with flirting and nonsexual touch than the average American.  It is indeed true that these things can be completely platonic.  Everything he did could indeed be completely platonic, and some of my other friends do these things.

But there were the little things here and there, things he said or did, that tell me he didn’t mean them completely platonically at the time.  That he was going a little too far.  

He should’ve told me this honestly when I first confronted him with what he was doing, and I would’ve known what we needed to do: pull back, stop doing these things, not spend so much time together.  

But he didn’t, I trusted him to tell me the truth, I set aside the little suspicions, I trusted him that everything he did was platonic and innocent–and he let me take the fall for him.

While re-reading The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, a Gothic novel I first read many years ago while in college, I was also writing this account, and was struck by the similarities in one scene:

The black monk, Schedoni, is about to stab the heroine, Ellena, when he sees a miniature around her neck of himself as a young man.  She wakes up, and he soon tells her he is her father.

He doesn’t tell her why he was there, and after he leaves, she begins to wonder what he was doing in her room (where she was imprisoned) at midnight, anyway?

Then she finds the dagger lying on the floor.  The truth is right there staring her in the face, but she doesn’t want to believe that her own father would kill her, even though he didn’t know who she was at the time and was her captor.

Instead, she decides to believe that it was his henchman who tried to kill her, and that Schedoni rescued her.  She has no reason to believe this, but she wants to, and Schedoni lets her.  The mind can believe what it wants to even with much evidence to the contrary.

From his actions the day of the “incident,” from the things he said to Jeff, from the way he just threw me under the bus instead of explaining to Tracy what the e-mail was really all about, from the way that he justified her actions and words, it was as if he were now saying to me,

“You piece of f**king trash, how dare you remember the things I did to you, how dare you hold the memories close to your heart?  I wish I had never given you these hugs!  How dare you ever speak of these things I did as if I had ever actually done them?  I can do them, but you can’t speak of them!  I am a liar and will treat you like a liar and a manstealing whore for even bringing them up!”

…This despite the fact that we had discussed these hugs via online chat in the past, and back then he acted as if we had done nothing wrong, as if I had done nothing wrong by mentioning them, that he wanted to do the things again, that he was just avoiding them because of the way Tracy had been acting at the time, that in the future it would be okay with her.

And I had no reason to think that these hugs had ever been forbidden, but that he was just holding back for a while.

His actions the day of the “incident” proved him guilty, when if he had explained to Tracy the truth, he would have exonerated both himself and me….Unless, of course, what he told me was not the truth.

I gave him the opportunity to tell me the truth.  Why didn’t he tell me the truth?  Why didn’t he admit he’d gone too far and he shouldn’t have done those things and they needed to stop?

Why did he lead me to believe that they were perfectly normal things for close platonic friends to do, that they were done platonically, and didn’t need to stop?

Probably because he didn’t want to stop.  Probably because it fed his ego when he was at a very low point in his life.

I wish he would have been honest with me; it all would have stopped, I never would’ve brought it up again, and all this never would’ve happened.  My naïvete and gullibility stares me in the face and shames me.

I know enough about his past with women–a self-described “dog”–to think these things I write are probably true.  He says he respects women now, but I have plenty of reason to believe that the dog is still inside him, just taking a nap, waking up every now and then.

I wanted a friend who could be playful but without being dangerous.  He turned dangerous.  He became like Shawn from college, who lured and manipulated me into giving him what he wanted, then treated me like a cheap whore for it.

He became like Phil, my ex-fiance/husband, who wove a web of lies which I only believed because of NVLD, and wore me down until I did things with him that (in Christian morality) were wrong, but which he told me were perfectly fine and not wrong at all.

Because of the NVLD, I was far too trusting, thinking a pious Christian would never do such things.  I thought as a married woman I was beyond being so taken in.

But then another seemingly pious Christian man came along and started breaking down my reserves just as Shawn did, convincing me–just as Shawn did–that we were doing nothing wrong, then letting me drown in the fallout when (in Richard’s case) the wife found out.

Leaving me baffled as to what just happened because Richard had convinced me we were doing nothing adulterous or even out of the ordinary for close platonic friends.

I thought his days of going to Bible college while womanizing and being a violent “gumba” were over, that his days of faking piety and speaking in tongues for the congregation (as a Pentecostal preacher in his early 20s) were over, covered by the blood of Jesus.

When I asked how he was able to get over/forgive his ex–who was (from what I heard) a psychotic nympho who cheated on him all the time–he said he abused her too, as punishment; I thought this sort of behavior was all in his past.  Now I wonder if, when we watched Elmer Gantry together, it gave him ideas.

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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Seeing abuser again: Running into Richard and Tracy at church/the store/Greekfest a year later

[Edited since first written]  It’s been a few years, but from what I can recall, after the sudden appearance on August 1, 2010, Richard and Tracy came to my church once more.  Maybe twice, but this is the time I remember:

I came to my church’s Christmas service in 2010, and sat in my usual spot.  I heard a voice like Tracy’s, saying the hymn on the handout was all in Greek.  But I didn’t turn to look, and just assumed it was somebody else.

I wasn’t able to partake in the Eucharist because I was not aware one was offered during the Christmas service, being a new convert.  So I had not properly fasted from all food and drink, which you have to do for many hours.

As I stood waiting for the communion line to go through, I happened to look to see who passed me, as I often do absent-mindedly.  My usual spot is right next to the aisle.

There, right next to me, was Richard and Tracy!  In disgust, I drew myself up and turned away.  Just who I did NOT want to see while celebrating the birth of Christ.

The anger and bitterness filled me, especially as I saw Tracy, that unrepentant abuser, that bully, take the Eucharist without ever having lifted a finger to apologize for her disgraceful, unChristian actions against me.  She was the worst hypocrite I had ever known.

I felt, basically, the same way so many other abuse victims feel when they see their abusers again, especially their abusers pretending to be good Christians.

Fortunately, they all cleared out of there so quickly after the service that they were already gone when I left my pew.  So I did not have to encounter them yet again.

Why did they do this?  Why did they keep coming to my church without even trying to make peace?  How could they violate my right to be left alone by them?

Heck, Tracy forbade Richard and me from even talking to each other unless I allowed her to scream all my “offenses” at me, so why would she take him anywhere near me?

How could she tell me I’m so horrible, treat me like a whore, treat me like a stalker because I made the horrible “offense” of sticking up for myself against her rages, then come to my church?

How could they so transgress every rule for dealing with your fellow Christian, yet still take the Eucharist as if they were in good standing?  You’re not supposed to do that without trying to make peace, because the Bible actually warns that you’ll bring condemnation on yourself for partaking in “an unworthy manner.”

They had listened to the still, small voice of Satan, and tainted the Eucharist with their actions, so it’s a good thing I did not share it with them.  (Whether you believe Satan is a person or the evil within humans, it still applies.)

[The following was written, some of it taken from e-mails to my mom, between June 19 and 30, 2011.]

I doubt that Tracy would have acted the way she did if she thought I was ugly or plain.  This thought does make it easier to start forgiving her, as it makes her seem less like a monster and more like a deeply flawed and scared human being.

But extreme jealousy is still wrong, and recovering from abuse is still a long and hard road of anger, hurt and pain.

It also makes our decision to break off the friendship seem ever wiser.  We were caught up in a bad situation, with two people in a tumultuous marriage.  Being involved with them just drew us into their own quagmire, and we couldn’t help them at all.

I never had a problem with Jeff being friends with beautiful women, even though I know people will look no matter how happily they’re married.

You just have to accept that your husband will look, and realize that getting upset and jealous will annoy him and make him feel like he might as well do the thing if he’s being punished for it anyway.  I feel secure in our marriage and trust him implicitly.

It must be horrible and exhausting to feel like you have to keep vigilant with your husband to make sure he never strays, but I have far too many and far better things to do with my time.

I hope that one day Tracy learns how to trust Richard–before he finally loses his resolve and she pushes him into the arms of another woman.  Or at the very least, out the door.

Jeff saw Richard and Tracy at the store on June 12, 2011, almost a year after the Incident.  He knew this would happen eventually, since they and Jeff go there a lot.

They said nothing to each other, but Jeff did make sure the kids knew this wasn’t about them: He saw the three younger children in the store’s daycare, hugged them and talked with them, and let our son play with them.

Then he went off to find the items we needed, passed the adults and the oldest child (who quietly and secretly waved at Jeff), and nobody said a word to each other.

Jeff did not want to speak to these people, gave them the cold shoulder on purpose.

The oldest child was sitting with Richard while Tracy went off and got some stuff.  [This became a lot more shocking after I learned that Richard had been charged with choking this same child.  But that’s for later.]

But sure enough, Richard was getting henpecked again, for who knows what reason.  Jeff hated the sound of Tracy’s criticizing voice: “Bark bark bark bark RICHARD!”  Jeff wondered how Richard can stand that.

Exactly one week later, I ran into them at my church’s Greekfest.  Almost literally.

I didn’t go to their church’s Greekfest and hoped they wouldn’t go to mine, but there they were.  I was passing through the crowd to get to work in the kitchen, at a distance behind my son and Jeff because I had to throw away our lunch trash.

Because of the crowd, I didn’t see Richard and Tracy and the kids until I was right upon them.  And suddenly, there was Richard, just inches from me. 

Though I couldn’t look in his eyes, he appeared to have seen me.  I had heard that you should coldly nod at your enemies in passing, but I couldn’t even bring myself to do that.  All I could do was pass by without saying a word.

By the way, I had only just checked with Social Services to make sure they got my letter about Richard and Tracy’s child abuse.  They reassured me the letter had been received.  So that was on my mind as well.

There was no shrinking away as if I were ashamed–no, I kept my head up, and may have changed my expression to one of disgust, though I’m not sure now.

There, Richard, that is what snubbing is.  It’s not about being quiet around Tracy.  A real snub is this.  And it has been done to you because of what you’ve done to me.

[Note written 5/3/12: This was after the choking incident and after Richard was formally charged and posted bail, but before I heard about it.]

Is it necessary to view the narcissist as evil in order to go no contact? Is just seeing the situation as being a case of incompatibility enough rationale to make an escape?

I am sure there are people who can justify leaving a relationship based on simply calling on incompatibility as justification. My blog isn’t for those people. They don’t need to read what I have to say.

In fact, this person is very unlikely to go to Google to type in some search in order to demystify what they’ve gone through or are going through. They have simply shrugged off the parasite and moved on. No damage done. The person you describe has likely never even seen my blog….

If someone doesn’t call the narcissist’s so-called good what it really is…evil…then there is likely little hope of helping the victim out of their victimhood.

They will continue on believing that the evil is centered in themselves, that they are the one who is crazy, that they are the problem. You know, all the lies the narcissist has taught them to believe in order that the narcissist can escape accountability….

If someone was able to just cite “incompatibility” as a rationale for leaving the situation do you think they’d need to come to my blog for insight? People who come here are suffering. There is a reason for their suffering and I’m not afraid to name that reason. —Calling Narcissists Evil: Stumbling Block or Life Line?

I hesitate to call Richard “evil” or even a full-blown narcissist.  Perhaps the evil he’s done has been because of Stockholm Syndrome, not narcissism.  Maybe he has narcissistic tendencies but not full-blown NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).

But Tracy is the reason I began Googling to find out what the heck was going on here, first in 2008 to research abusers and jealousy because of her treatment of Richard, then in 2010 and 2011, to find out how anyone can be so cruel to the same person who had put herself to great financial and personal trouble to help Tracy find a better life.

I do not hesitate to consider Tracy “evil,” a malignant narcissist, maybe even a psychopath.  Who portrayed me as the evil one and herself as the offended, virtuous one.  While Richard was the lackey doing the bidding of the narcissist, and also doing sneaky things of his own.

If this had been of the more common variety of disagreements between friends, even breakups between friends, I would have had no need to Google it, as noted in the above quote from “Narcissists Suck,” and I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to write such a long memoir about it.

Most of the time, it really is a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion, nothing “evil” that can’t be resolved either by not being close friends anymore, or by dropping the subject and moving on.

But Tracy has a history of blowups and ended friendships, of “wars” with people.

If I saw her as a basically good person with whom I had a difference of opinion, this could’ve been resolved, especially with the amount of guilt and reflection I’ve dealt with over the past year [July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011].

I’m willing to deal with my own issues, and tried very hard to do so all through this relationship.  My apologies were sincere, and I tried to mend what I could.

But it has to go both ways, and Jeff and I both saw nothing but more pain and fighting in our future if we didn’t write her off and go no-contact.

Well I was there and I saw what you did, 
I saw it with my own two eyes 
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been 
It’s all been a pack of lies 

–Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”

You wear a Sunday suit and tie
Everybody thinks you’re such a guy

You’ve got the glow, a shining face
Respectable man with holy taste
Got that family pew reserved
When the hymns are sung your voice is heard

But late one night you got your plan
You’d be religious on demand

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Christian, it’s a mask you wear to hide
Got a notion God’s a potion and it works most every time

I really think you do believe
Yet you use religion to deceive

–Whiteheart, “Dr. Jekyll Mr. Christian”

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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Resolution: I apologize–and write the fateful e-mail about the fateful hugs

This is jumping the gun a bit, but here’s an e-mail I wrote Jeff on July 22, 2010, after I finally read the threatening e-mails for myself:

Actually, near the end of “The Burning Bed,” I was suddenly inspired to go into the e-mails and find out just what Richard wrote you on Facebook on about 6/28, when we were arguing about NLD and such.

I saw 3 messages he wrote to you that night, including the one about hitting you with a brick and not having been that mad in years and being easily provoked to physical violence.

It was…scary.  It was hard to say if he was actually threatening you, but it was scary that he would even think that–and that there were at least two earlier drafts which could’ve been even worse. 

I mean, WHY?  What about what you wrote, or what I wrote, could’ve provoked him so much?

It reminds me, also, of how Tracy blew up a few days later, and that when she was living at our house, there was a time when she got so mad at me that she, according to Richard, almost killed, or could’ve killed me…I forget the exact wording. I don’t know if he meant it literally or verbally.

I remember Tracy’s e-mail to you included something about “self-diagnosed learning disorder.”  Which I thought Richard said should never be brought up to her.  I remember this sense that it could make her mad, that it might be dangerous to mention it to her.  And I wonder when/why Richard mentioned it to her.

These are violent people. And something seems to have been stirring them up, because I don’t know what we could’ve done to inspire the verbal tirades we were getting those few days.

Or what I could’ve said in my e-mail to him, near the end of March, about [the Creeps on IRC], because that also provoked him to write a rather nasty e-mail (the final draft of many).

All I know is that for the past year, I’ve really struggled with getting friendly with Tracy because on some night that I can’t identify, she could’ve attacked me in my own house–for something that seemed to me perfectly innocent.

The thought of her possibly taking her fists to me has haunted me many times.

I imagine you coming into the room, whether from the basement or your bed, screaming at her and throwing her out of the house.  Me going to the hospital.

This has gone through my mind many times for the past year, since it was a year ago that Richard told me about this.  And yet, somehow, *I* am painted as the one who has just been too stubborn or mean to treat Tracy right.

Right now, rather than wishing to have my friend back, I just feel this weird sense of having escaped but still dealing with the traumatic fallout…..

But back to the evening on June 27th, 2010.  All this came while I was reading the last few chapters of Gone With the Wind, which are dark, surreal and depressing.  As I wrote in my review for Mysteries of Udolpho,

It amazes me how, lately, the books I’m reading keep matching my mood.  I read the last chapters of “Gone With the Wind” on the night of a terrible e-mail argument with my former best friend.  I apologized and we tried to patch things up, but it left a pall over the evening, and the next few days as well.

(Incidentally, in an attempt to finally fix things and restore our friendship to the kind and sweet way it used to be, several days later I sent an e-mail–which, unfortunately, got taken wildly out of context and misunderstood, and left me vilified and the friendship in shambles, much like Shirley Sherrod without the later apologies [from Obama].)

At the same time, in between e-mails that evening, I was reading about Scarlett’s devastating last night before Rhett left her for good.

First Melanie dies, just as Scarlett realizes she loves her and Melanie has been her strength.  Then she finds out that Ashley was only infatuated with her, that his true love was for Melanie.  Then she realizes that her own true love is Rhett, and she’s been terrible to him.

She goes out into the night, which is foggy and appears supernaturally terrifying.  Her long walk finally leads her to her safe place, Rhett–only Rhett is fed up and leaving her.

I didn’t know yet about the threatening e-mail Richard sent Jeff.  I didn’t want to lose my BFF, my Frodo.

It seemed the only way I could get anywhere with Richard was to apologize–even though that meant my complaints were tossed aside as if I had no right to make them, while Richard made petulant little remarks to Jeff that we had resolved things, but Jeff already knows.

I was getting the distinct impression, from this and other times, that I was not supposed to confide in Jeff, my own husband, about my problems with them.

Jeff then discussed the e-mails with me, though I did not see them myself for nearly a month.  To calm him down, he sent Richard an apology.  On the morning of the 28th, Jeff wrote to me,

( He tells me that an apology wasn’t necessary.  He says he wants to hit me in the head with a brick, but I don’t have to apologizeI trust when he talks about “Drama”, he’s talking about *himself*. )

It was unbelievable.  It also shows another way that NLDers need to be careful in choosing friends, because if your friend arrogantly dismisses your NLD without knowledge, tells your husband that you just need to push yourself harder, warns you not to mention the NLD to his wife because it could be dangerous, and dismisses your explanation of what you need to help you socially, then this “friend” is no good for you.

Especially if he’s married to a very abusive person who could turn around and rip you a new one because of these social problems which you could not help being born with, which she took personally.

Who could demean, humiliate and belittle you with filthy language and unChristian words for having social problems with her that you could not help.

Leaving you with a huge, gaping wound emotionally, lasting for years because people with Asperger’s or NLD tend to ruminate over things long after other people have moved on.

It was always me who went crawling back.  It was always me who was contrite.

There was no winning with H–not that I was the one making it a competition…far from it.  Rarely did she acknowledge that I had wisdom or insight.

Occasionally we would spar when I began to push back on her superior attitude.  More and more often, there were periods of estrangement, yet there was always that “makeup session” followed by a brief “honeymoon period.”

Yes, those “makeup sessions,” where everything was glossed over or more often simply ignored altogether, never to be discussed!

Those “honeymoon periods,” during which our respective motives for being in the friendship were quite dissimilar–even though a trained therapist would probably conclude that at the time, I was an Invert Narcissist and Codependent–therefore possessing some of the same characteristics as H.

Recently I came across a comment on a message board:  “Sometimes I believe a Narcissist can almost cause these other defects in people who fall for them.”  How true that is!  How insidious it is.  It’s called FLEAS.

Neither of us understood the extent of our dysfunctional relationship, nor did we want to.  We had many things in common.  We had a history together that was unique.

We had many long and deep discussions about spirituality, various esoteric methods, and the history and intricacies of our spiritual community. We had similar music tastes.  We had children the same age. 

We were both married to men who eschewed the spiritual life.  We needed each other (she would probably deny that).  Still, there was an ever-present undercurrent of tension and conflict. —Joyful Alive Woman, “My former [platonic] girlfriend, the cunning abusive narcissist”

But after the apology, it seemed that we were starting to make headway.  I thought he wanted to take a break from me for a day or two, and didn’t say much to him, though I missed him terribly.

Then I pinged him, wondering if we were still “estranged.”

He was surprised and said that was over with already.  We had a conversation that demonstrated that we were still good friends and that he wasn’t angry with me anymore.

He sent me a link to a video, since we often shared music videos with each other from the genres we both liked.  I sent him a heart and a rose on Facebook as a demonstration of goodwill:

After thumbing through my Language of Flowers book and reading that white roses stand for innocence and purity and in no way mean romance or passion, I sent him a white rose for peace.

To show restoration of goodwill, I sent a simple friendship heart, one of those Facebook hearts that people were constantly sending to their friends and family at that time.

(By the way, I have never sent these flowers or hearts to anyone since, when I used to send them all the time to my friends and family, because they were now associated in my mind with Richard.)

I don’t know if he saw the white peace flower, but he posted the heart on his wall saying, “From me Nyssa [sic].”

Then the following morning, July 1, 2010, I woke up happy that our friendship issues were finally resolved, happy for the first time in weeks.

When he lived with us and the day he moved out, he gave me some sweet bearhugs which I took as being meant strictly in friendship, and in gratitude for what I had done to help out his family in their distress.

Therefore, there was no harm either in mentioning them, or in doing them again, including in front of others, including Tracy. 

Especially since a year earlier, Richard wrote to me, “She knows about the hugs and the whatnot.  It’s all good.” 

I thought Jeff or the neighbors had seen these hugs, as well, and I had felt no qualms about this, because the hugs were completely innocent.

I always wondered why Richard hadn’t hugged me that way since.  Once, in maybe late winter or early spring 2008, I asked him online about them, and he said he’d been holding off because of how jealous Tracy had been acting.

But that was long since in the past, we had been sharing quick hugs in front of Tracy for the past two years, and in that e-mail a year earlier, he said the hugs and “whatnot” are good with her. 

Also, through a signal I had asked for in late 2009, he showed me that Tracy was completely fine with me doing all the things his other friends could do with him. 

In some old posts to friends on a web forum, friends whom I believe he knew in person, he asked them for and they offered “huggles,” showing me that he’s just a “huggy” type of guy.

Yet he still had not hugged me like he did in November 2007 and January 2008, making me feel like our friendship had lost that bond.

I desperately needed reassurance that our friendship was still like it was back in 2007, which I think you can understand after all I’ve described.

His friendship was so special to me because he was my spiritual mentor, my “brother from another mother,” the Frodo/Diana/Ted/Gus I had always wanted.  I was scared of losing his friendship.

Those hugs were like a symbol of our special friendship.  You can see this in the e-mail I wrote him a year earlier, which said,

“Yes, I’ll hug you and such on IRC and you’ll just sit there or scream, when I was hoping for a bearhug back, etc.  You know, signs that despite everything that’s gone on, our friendship is intact.”

So I wrote a Facebook message to him the morning of 7/1/10, reminded him of those specific hugs and said they had meant a lot to me.

I was happy after sending the message, because I knew he would say something like “Awwww, how sweet.  Yes, I remember those hugs” or–like he did to an e-mail I sent him a few months before about how much his friendship meant to me–“You’ve made me cry–like a chick!”

Since he gave me those hugs many times,

and since we had already spoken about them without him acting like there was something wrong with me bringing them up,

and since he had never, ever said they were “verboten” now, and

since he talks like that with his friends all the time,

and since he specifically told me many times that hugs are okay with Tracy,

I expected this to be a perfectly fine topic for an e-mail.

I went on about my day, exercising, doing housework, and the like, expecting the day to be absolutely wonderful, full of caring and friendship.

Then maybe a couple of hours later, I checked Facebook, hoping to see some wonderful little message from Richard.

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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Revealing e-mails I drafted to Richard: proving I felt abused and bullied, and witnessed abuse

I wrote these drafts of an e-mail to Richard, after the phone conversation I describe above, which was not quite finished–and left me with all sorts of complaints:

You said you’d talk to Tracy….Did it do any good?

It’s ripping me apart inside but it feels like the efforts I have made have been forgotten, the nice things I did for her and little things I said here and there and conversations I had with her….

I was hurt deeply by many things that happened, but for your sake I tried my hardest to get past them and forget them.

It hurts not only that these things have been forgotten but also that you seemed to believe so many bad things about me, too, or think anything she did to me was in any way justified.  I thought you knew me better than that.

I KNEW something was up but you kept insisting I was just paranoid.  I have lost so many hours and so much sleep to this issue.

Nothing I do is ever good enough.  I am not this evil person she seems to think I am.  I would never snub her.  I would never manipulate Jeff into anything.

To be honest, I haven’t cared about “going for coffee” or “going to the Bar & Grill” or whatever the point of contention is, for some time.

I care only about being trusted and not fearing my head’ll get bitten off.  I don’t think it’ll ever get better.

You seem to have forgotten various details which will put that overheard conversation into perspective.  Especially if you think you were working too hard to “keep the peace.”

I’m not sure you’re aware of all the abusive behavior I’d been witnessing for some time before I had that conversation [with Jeff]. My primary concern was not myself but how you and the girls were being treated. Also, I felt like the abuse was beginning to get directed toward me, and I had no clue where that was coming from.

I think you’ve also forgotten the series of letters I used to try to talk things out with you, because I wasn’t allowed to talk with you one-on-one.  

It wasn’t about going out for coffee, it was about not being allowed to discuss important things with you in private.  It was about feeling cut off and forgotten, like my best friend had been taken away from me.

Jeff was well aware of all of this; he had already comforted me as I sobbed over how it felt like I was being pushed aside.

[On the day I spoke to Jeff about everything and Tracy overheard] It wasn’t me manipulating him into it; I merely told him what was going on and how I felt;

[Jeff’s suggestion to show Tracy a movie so I could watch a movie with Richard for once] was his fix-it response to a problem [and he had already done this a few times before we had this conversation].

He never would’ve done it if he thought it was some sort of manipulation to get a man alone with his wife [for nefarious purposes]–are you kidding?

[This shows how I was guilted and manipulated as my/Jeff’s actions were twisted way out of proportion into the worst possible interpretations–same as they did to Todd in 2008.] 

He trusted us both enough to leave us alone for long periods of time.  He did it deliberately.  He was happy I had found a friend.

As for the shoulder thing–You and I had those conversations already [Richard had started the practice and taught me it was perfectly innocent and appropriate];

we both knew it was completely innocent; we had established firm boundaries of what was and was not acceptable.

And–“don’t know you”?  She’d been living in my house for a few weeks already!  I was no stranger!

[He told me that she got upset over the “shoulder thing” because she didn’t know me, but that if a certain other friend did it, Tracy would think it was cute, and join in.

It was also distressing to hear about this yet again, because I hadn’t done it since January 2008, because it upset her so much.  Yet it kept getting brought up over and over and over!]

I KNEW things weren’t quite right.  I got worried when you didn’t call me [whenever he promised to].  I thought a number of things: You were being yelled at, you thought I was acting weird….

You told me I was just being paranoid…told me you were trying to find the right time is all….Now come to find you were getting yelled at because it was “THAT woman”….Like I was the one with the problem.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  Jeff says he would’ve ended the friendship a long time ago, that he would have exploded by now.

In later drafts:

I worked hard to remember details and put that overheard conversation into perspective.

My primary concern was how you and the girls were being treated.  I had already witnessed various incidents of abuse.  I felt like I was now being abused and did not deserve it.

I already felt cut off and forgotten, like my best friend was pushing me aside.  Now I felt my best friend was being taken away from me for no good reason.

Jeff was already aware of this.  I wasn’t manipulating him into anything; I merely told him what was going on and how I felt; it was his fix-it response to a problem.

Do you think for a moment he would’ve done it if he thought we were going to do something we shouldn’t?

Do you think for a moment he would’ve done what he did without the best of intentions?  He wanted to befriend Tracy!

And about the “incident”–You and I had those conversations already; we both knew it was completely innocent, that Americans are too uptight; we had established firm boundaries.  And–“don’t know you”?  She’d been living in my house for a few weeks already!  I was no stranger!

Things we both did [either Richard and me, or Jeff and me, not sure which] with the best of intentions and innocent motives are being painted with an evil, underhanded light, and that hurts deeply.  This talk of violent thoughts [Tracy almost killing me] is very troubling.

I don’t need you to “bend over backward” because of my shyness/quietness; I merely ask for understanding.  It hurts that you’d even think I’d be deliberately rude.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  My illusions that things were now fine have come crashing down and I don’t know where I stand with you.  You say you don’t want to lose a friendship over it.  Neither do I, but I also can’t take any more sleepless nights and endless crying jags.

Even later drafts:

I worked hard to remember details and put that overheard conversation into perspective.  I had already witnessed various incidents of abuse.  My primary concern was how you and the girls were being treated.  I felt like I was now being abused and did not deserve it.

I felt cut off and forgotten, like my best friend was pushing me aside.  Now I felt my best friend was being taken away from me for no good reason.

I merely told Jeff what was going on and how I felt.  He responded by trying to fix the problem.

Various things we both did with the best of intentions and innocent motives are being painted with an evil, underhanded light, and that hurts deeply.  This talk of violent thoughts is very troubling.

I don’t need you to “bend over backward” because of my shyness/quietness; I merely ask for understanding.  It hurts that you’d ever think I’d be deliberately rude, or that you’d let these things build on themselves without talking with me about it first.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  My illusions that things were now fine and the past was left in the past, have come crashing down and I don’t know where I stand with you.  You say you don’t want to lose a friendship over it.  Neither do I, but I also can’t take any more sleepless nights and endless crying jags.

I think I know what she meant about being too worried about “keeping the peace.”  If you knew what Jeff was doing (and I remember telling you about it) and it bugged you, you should’ve said something.  Now it’s festered.

If you knew about an “incident,” [her seeing the shoulder sleeping one afternoon when I was sick and desperately needed a nap] you should’ve told me.

You also should’ve told me, “It’s not okay right now, even when she’s out of the room, but it’ll be perfectly fine once she gets to know you.  I will tell you when that day comes, so you don’t have to guess.”  All I remember hearing is something about jealousy.

I keep hearing “you ignore it when she tries to start a conversation,” but I have no clue what you mean because all I remember is being kind and pleasant and smiling where appropriate and occasionally saying something.  If you see something happen, come to me and say, “THAT’s what I mean.”  Then I can say, “What?  I had no idea!” and be more watchful.

In my childhood, I had absolutely no clue that I was supposed to say “hi” and “bye” when people said it to me, until my mom and aunt pointed out that it was rude not to.  I think I was something like 10 or 11 by then.  Here I had no idea I was ticking people off for all those years, so I started forcing myself to say it.  Of course, it was still many years before I started initiating the “hi/bye,” but at least I knew to say it back.

In my teens, I had no idea that I was supposed to thank a person for a ride until a girl in my youth group chewed me out.  While it was embarrassing and I felt bad, I was also grateful to her for pointing this out.  I became a very gracious ride-taker after that.

I also didn’t see the point of saying “thank you” to a waitress because she was just doing her job, not a favor.  But in time I began to see how  much better it is to do so.

I am not intentionally rude.  I just never picked up on some of the social rules that other people figure out instinctively.  If nobody ever points it out, I miss it completely.

I don’t want to be chewed out, just have it gently mentioned.  Now Jeff never heard of the “compliments starting a conversation” rule, either,  so it may very well be a difference between [their region and our region] culture.

I didn’t actually send this e-mail because I spoke to Richard on the phone between the last draft at 3pm and an e-mail to Jeff at 4pm.  But I wrote it because our talk got interrupted before it could be finished.

So you see, old stuff was being drudged up again that I thought had long since been put to bed because nobody was doing them anymore, and because Tracy had made it very clear back in August of 2008 that the old restrictions on me were gone!

But when I called him about it after 3pm, I said I was tired of the whole thing (had been for a while, in fact).  I said I had a list of defenses but wanted to just drop the whole subject, and he said he did as well.

(The only one who actually kept the subject going in the first place, was Tracy.  Richard and I had wanted to drop it a long time ago.)

I told him I was sorry for my own part in things, and said so, to him and in an e-mail to her, which she accepted.  It sounded like he and I had so resolved things that their misunderstandings of me were cleared up.

More on this here.

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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