houseguests from hell

Tracy’s control-freak behavior–to me, in my house

I wrote to my mom on New Year’s,

Now I find there’s trouble with Tracy.  I mentioned in an earlier e-mail that she kept making these cracks which sounded jealous and suspicious, but I couldn’t tell if they were just jokes.

Well, I’ve been trying to spend some time with Richard, trying to talk like we used to, watch movies, etc.  We used to talk for hours about life, our histories, our marriages, our families, theology, Orthodoxy, cultural differences between [our regions], etc.

We’d sometimes stay up until 3 in the morning and end up exhausted the next day.  We’d go to a local bar and grill at around 9pm, find a table away from the smoke and chatter of the bar, and get so deep into conversation that we don’t realize it’s closing time already.

These were conversations that you can only have when it’s just two people; if you start adding people, somebody clams up (usually me) instead of opening up, and has no control over the conversation.

Richard and I have interests that we don’t share with Jeff or Tracy; for example, Jeff’s not Orthodox, and Tracy is not theologically inclined.  They’re all into roleplaying games and movie genres that I’m not interested in.

I have struggles and private things that I don’t feel comfortable telling other people.  Richard and I started exchanging e-mails and calling each other well over a year ago, so we’ve built up the kind of relationship where we can talk about those things.

Everybody needs that kind of friend, not just a spouse.  For me it’s been absolutely wonderful that my friend is no longer on the Internet or on the phone, but right here in person [because I don’t have a friend like that around here].

But every time we start getting deep into a conversation, or want to watch a movie, Tracy breaks in, gets upset, and tells Richard she wants to play a game or some other thing.  I leave the room or go to bed, and hear her chewing him out over something.

It’s gotten so bad that if I want to talk to him about anything private, I have to either slip him a note or ask him to step outside.  But when we step outside alone together, she chews him out.

On Sunday [December 30] I wrote him an e-mail about my concerns, how upset I was over things, my frustrations, but he hadn’t had a chance to read it, so on Monday [December 31] I printed it up for him.

All yesterday, [they were out until late taking care of some family business].  So last night, after we finished watching a movie and he’d had some time to relax, I asked him to step outside with me for a few minutes.  [Tracy was right there.]

I didn’t say so, of course, but I wanted to slip him the printout someplace where nobody would be looking over our shoulders.

He looked very uncomfortable [and fearful] and glanced over at Tracy.  He then said okay, and then Tracy says, “You’re going outside for a smoke?  Why don’t I go with you?”  NOOOOO!

I felt a sudden ice in the room [probably from Tracy’s scary, angry, threatening expression], and stepped into the bathroom.

When I came out, I didn’t know if Richard and I were going outside or not, or if Tracy was coming, meaning there was no point in me going outside.  But they apparently came to an agreement that he would go one way and Tracy would go another for a few minutes.

Once we got out of hearing range, I slipped Richard the printout, and he read it in the streetlights.  I hoped he’d tell me that I totally misunderstood Tracy, that she wasn’t jealous of me at all.  But instead, he told me that I had a correct understanding of what was going on.  She IS jealous and suspicious….

I’m told that in [their old region], it’s so hard to find a good man that women are out for themselves, not principled in who they go after.

Part of the problem is that I’m busy all day long, doing housework and taking care of [my son] and such, so I don’t talk with her much and she hasn’t had a chance to get to know me.

But I’ve been so annoyed over the noise, the crowded conditions, the scolding [by Tracy] of Richard and the kids, and this feeling of suspicion, that I’ve just wanted to be by myself.  That and it’s hard for me to get to know people.

It’s so frustrating that because I happen to be a woman, I have to feel cut off for a time from my best friend.  Sometimes I want to scream; sometimes I want to cry….

I have no intention of breaking up our families by trying to steal him away.

I’m careful to use the term philia, which is the Greek term for the love between best friends.  Jeff trusts me, and I’ve done nothing to betray his trust.  He and [one of our female friends] are great friends, and I have no suspicion about them.

He knows what’s going on, and understands.  He’s been trying to get Tracy into conversation or roleplaying games so that Richard and I can have our own conversations.

It’s annoying to be suspected of something I’m not doing.  I can’t wait until the rent money is saved up and their family can move into their own place.

Did Mom, in her wisdom, say that Tracy was somehow in the right and I was in the wrong, that I wasn’t respecting her as Richard’s wife, that she was allowed to be jealous?

No, she did not.  She said they needed to move out soon.

My priest said the same thing, because I confided in him, too.

Several months later, my mom said to me on the phone, referring to Tracy’s behavior during her stay at my house, “It sounds like that Tracy needs to grow up!”  (Which is funny and ironic, considering that Tracy accuses other people of this all the time.)

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

 

Tracy’s narcissistic/BPD rage episode at Richard (IN MY HOUSE)–and Richard reveals his own abuse

I wrote my mom detailed e-mails all during this time, because I badly needed to talk to SOMEBODY.  I told her that Tracy was controlling and possessive, everything she was doing, how jealous she was acting, how abrasive she was, and about the verbal abuse I witnessed every day.

I first tried to get these things sorted out with Richard and Tracy myself, but just kept feeling ganged up on, like I was being overruled again and again, as if my opinions and views and feelings held no merit and were of no importance whatsoever.

In one of those e-mails, written the afternoon of Wednesday, December 26, 2007, when everyone was at home for Christmas, I wrote that “I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this.”

As a considerate host who did not want to use up all the hot water before my guests could shower, I’d wait for hours for people to take showers before I could start the laundry or take my own.  But nobody would.

That morning, I was the first adult awake, and Jeff had to run some errands, so I had to wait until another adult would get up and watch the four kids, before I could take my shower.

Jeff came home and Richard and Tracy got up.  I told them I wanted to start the laundry, and asked who should take a shower first–them or me–but got no real answer.

Soon I overheard them talking about going somewhere, and it sounded like Richard was about to shower.  But then Tracy started ripping into Richard and screaming louder and louder, angrier and angrier, accusing him of things!

Now I know that I witnessed a narcissistic rage, a common means of intimidation and control used by narcissists and abusive borderlines, further proof that Richard told me the truth about her abuse of him and the children.

(Can you imagine being subjected to this as a child?  In 2010, I also witnessed her in a screaming rage against the children.)

The trouble is that, while borderlines are supposed to feel sorry later, I never witnessed her feeling sorrow for her rages against him, the children, me, or Todd.  This is why I tend to think of her as either a narcissist, or a narcissistic borderline, rather than just borderline.

(When I say “scream,” I don’t mean raised voices or yelling or shouting.  I mean “scream”: screeching, hysterical, high decibels, Exorcist-style, at the top of her lungs, wild, out of control.  This is also what I mean when I say she screamed at her kids.

(I thought everybody understood that “yelling” and “screaming” are two different things, but later discovered that some people think they’re the same thing.  Everybody yells from time to time, but screaming is verbal abuse and intimidation.)

A number of behaviors are considered verbally abusive, including angry outbursts, screaming rages, and name-calling. Verbal abuse often includes blaming, brainwashing, and intimidation.

Hidden aggression is a part of verbal abuse, as well. Verbal abuse is extremely manipulative, as insults are often disguised as caring comments. Verbal abuse can be overt or covert, but it is always about controlling and manipulating the victim. —What is Verbal Abuse?

I recall the basic nature of the argument, but won’t reveal it online.  I will tell you it had nothing to do with me or my house, and that her accusations sounded very unfair, that he was deceiving her.  He said it was a misunderstanding; she wouldn’t hear of it (sounds familiar); everything turned heated.

Richard just took it without arguing back.  He didn’t even try to defend himself.  He said little, even agreed with her at times.  Yet she just kept getting angrier and angrier and screaming louder and louder.

I was furious with Tracy for treating Richard like this, and furious that nobody was taking a shower.  Jeff and the kids were all in the basement, and the whole house could hear the screaming.

I wanted to scream at her to shut up.  I went upstairs to do some chores.  I screamed in my room for it to stop.  I slammed a door in frustration and anger, and was on the verge of breaking down.  But still she did not stop hounding him.

I wanted to rescue Richard, defend him.  I flew downstairs to the basement to Jeff.  The children were also there playing.  I complained to him about how Tracy was treating Richard, and how frustrated I was.

He would have more force and authority as the man of the house (and as the person who Tracy was not constantly insulting).  So I asked him to tell her to STOP treating Richard like this.

It was either that or go into the living room and scream at her to stop screaming at Richard.  Calling on Jeff to assume his role as man of the house and lay down some rules, seemed the most civilized thing to do.

He went upstairs and simply said that we’re not going to throw you out of the house, but please don’t do this in the house, and please take your showers now so Nyssa can take hers and start the laundry.  Tracy apologized to Jeff.

After that, she didn’t scream at Richard inside my house.  When she wanted to scream abuses and cuss at someone (like her ex), she took her cellphone outside.  But we should not have had to rescue Richard like that.  His own wife should be his partner, not his abuser.

I hid in the basement until they left with the kids about an hour and a half later, because I didn’t want to face them.

I described the whole argument to my mom.  I wrote,

For the last few weeks, I’ve been very depressed. I’ve already talked to Richard about this, but I’ve been feeling cut off lately.  I don’t have a lot of time to talk to him anymore.

I didn’t tell him that one reason I have trouble connecting with his wife is I often find her rather abrasive.  She orders him around and picks at the kids and picks at Richard.

At least twice during this time period, I saw him give her a look as if scared of what she would do if he stepped out of line.

My mom e-mailed back that things were getting out of hand, that we needed ground rules, that I shouldn’t wait for them to shower, just go ahead and start the laundry.

After they returned in the evening, I avoided both of them in my room, but finally had Jeff call Richard to me.

I was still furious with Tracy for abusing Richard, and for disturbing the peace of my household like this.  (In Shogun, the abusive husband had to grovel in repentance for doing this in the main character’s house.)  Note again that this conversation took place on the evening of December 26, 2007:

I said, “I can’t stand the way she picks at you and orders you around!”

She kept picking on him and getting mad at him for the slightest thing, making fun of him, ripping on him, ordering him to go get her some ice cream etc. without even a please, and one night he commented to me privately how annoyed he was at this.

He and I both noted that he had not argued back.  But to my shock, he began to say these things: “Actually, she’s being nice to me.”

“She’s being NICE to you????!!!!!” I cried in disbelief.  This is NICE for her?  What is she like when she’s not “nice”?

“…My father abused me as a child, but I was a little rat who deserved it, and it made me a better person….I’ve had to put the children in the closet before to get them to listen to their mother.  It looks like I’m going to have to do it again.”

WHAT????!!!!

I couldn’t believe he’d say such things, wondered if I’d misjudged him somehow.  How could my spiritual mentor, the same guy who complained to me for two months about how his wife verbally abused him and the children, about how she always screamed at the children and he had to be around to keep her in check, that she was jealous, that she got furious with him for talking to an old female friend she had been “at war” with–

How could he turn around and tell me these things?  How could he tell me that he, too, was abusing the kids, that he justified it with that tired old Stockholm Syndrome chestnut: that his parents did these things but he deserved it?

I expected him to be grateful for my support and sympathy, especially after he had courted it for two months.  But now that Tracy was here, he was like a totally different person, content to abuse and be abused.

He did once tell me over the phone that he recently abused the kids, but he gave no details, and said he was sorry for it.  But now he was excusing abuse?

Other times, too (during this time and in the following years), he told me she didn’t trust women, that pregnancy hormones made her jealous of any attention he paid to other women, etc.

So no, this wasn’t about me causing her jealousy, but about her being naturally jealous to start with.  If some other woman had been in my place, if he stayed with some other couple for two months, she probably would’ve treated her the same.

Jeff reacts quite differently to the same things that made her jealous and furious.

I think people online or in advice columns who just automatically assume the wife must have a reason to be jealous, don’t realize a wife can be so naturally jealous that she sees offense even in innocuous behavior, and drives everyone around her crazy with it.

Another shock: Now that I saw her abuse for myself, and no longer just took his word for it, he made excuses for what she did, and claimed she was being “nice” to him.

In other, later conversations, he told me she was justified in her anger at him during the time they lived with us, or that screaming at children was not abuse but necessary to keep them from being spoiled, and I could swear he told me that yelling at a spouse can be a good thing.  (My mother told me not to get any more childrearing or marital advice from him.)

I began to feel gaslit, a tactic of abusers of which I was already aware because of my 2006 research into my ex’s behavior.  But then one day in 2009, Richard told me things that proved I was not imagining abuse.  These things are here in my accounts.

Jeff wrote a Myspace blog about this: He wrote that with our son squeezed into the bed, a squirm who kept getting sick, he had only a foot or so of space for himself.  No raise for 2007, a 2% raise for 2008, and here we were trying to make that stretch for eight people.

The couch could not take the strain of Richard’s weight: One day, the kids jumped on this already-compromised frame, and it broke down.

We sat on the right side now, having no other chairs.  We were supposed to get together with some friends from out of town on New Year’s, but it was cancelled because of lice.

Yes, lice.  Yet another gift they brought us, along with the cockroaches.

The paperwork for a new apartment finally went through, but they still had to get rent and deposit money, so I had no idea when they were going to move out.

I complained about Tracy’s jealousy and controlling behavior to Richard through a letter, since letters and e-mails were now the only way I could talk to him.

First, he said it was indeed jealousy causing her to act this way, then he said it wasn’t jealousy but some other thing.  But whichever it was, her behavior was still that of a jealous wife who wanted to control her husband’s every move.

That rubbed me the wrong way.  Not only did it insult the hostess and benefactress helping her family and providing her with room and board.

But it raised my hackles because anyone who hurts my dear friend or child or husband, it’s as if they hurt me.  I have always been protective of family and friends, going back at least as far as middle school when my best friend kept getting harassed by other kids.

It demonstrated Tracy’s own insecurity and possessiveness, but when I spoke up about it, I was treated like I was somehow the one in the wrong.

It also seemed quite ridiculous and unreasonable to try to keep two roommates from speaking privately once in a while.  What are you going to do, shadow our every move?  She did try!

She looked ridiculous, and this gave a full picture of her abusive hold over the family, an emotional terrorist trying to keep her family under tight control.  It was like my abusive ex Phil all over again.

Don’t allow yourself to be isolated from others against our own better judgment. Insist on your right to have your own friends and family. —Gaslighting

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seemed like a simple, ordinary request to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yes, this hypothesis explains everything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isolation

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

Emotional and Mental Abuse

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

Intimidation

  • making another afraid by using looks/actions/gestures

Using Privileges (perceived or cultural)

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

Physical Abuse

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

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

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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

 

Houseguests From Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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

 

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