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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