Category: manipulation

Shock: Richard and Tracy at my church

A month to the day after the blow-up, August 1, 2010, I went to church expecting a normal Sunday.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I thought I saw Richard get out of a van, but pushed away the thought: I expected they’d never come near me again, after blocking me on Facebook, and certainly wouldn’t come to my church ever again.

But then Jeff said, “They’re here.”

!!!!!  It really was them!  The whole family, at my church!

I wondered, are they here to torment me or to make peace?  Why are they here when they prefer their own church?

The oldest kid started saying, “There’s Jeff!” and getting all excited.  Jeff told me later that Tracy seemed to yell at her for this.  Richard waved at Jeff, but Jeff ignored him.

I wanted to get away from there as soon as possible, especially since Jeff was going to his own church and I was there alone, without Jeff or my son as moral support.

I shook so badly that I feared I’d start a fire lighting my candle.  I trembled all through the service.

I spent it in torment, nervous, anxious, shaking, wondering what they were thinking, wondering if I’d make it through without fainting or crying, praying to God and Mary for help.  (We fast all night and morning before Eucharist, hence the fear of fainting.)

My emotional state was so bad that I had to go to the bathroom at least once, to deal with how my nerves were affecting my body.

Just a few days before, I dreamed the children came up to me somewhere and started begging me to come see them, but I was sad because I couldn’t.

And now here they were, in real life.  The kids avoided me and said nothing to me, looking very subdued, and it almost killed me.

In the lines going up to receive blessed bread from the priest, which were two lines coming from either side of the church, Richard and I ended up across from each other, at the head of our lines, receiving bread from the priest at the same time.

I looked at Richard, to try to transmit–at the very least–a silent message of no hate, but he avoided my eyes.  I knew it was on purpose.

I called Jeff to pick me up as soon as the service ended, told him I couldn’t take it much longer, and went to coffee hour to spend the ten minutes or so it would take for him to get there.

They came to coffee hour.  I can still remember that it was strawberry cake.

None of them spoke to me except for one or two of the children.  They said very little to me though, which made me wonder what their parents had told them.  Usually they jumped up and ran over to greet and hug me whenever they saw me, but now they were subdued.

It broke my heart.  I wondered if the parents were angry at me, or if they were actually waiting for me to make a move, when I’d been waiting for them.

Coffee hour was in the basement, such a tiny basement that I could sit on the opposite side and still hear every word they said.  I heard Richard say he’d been told the floor was brand-new; I thought, “Yes, because I’m the one who told you!”

The elderly lady next to me said how nice it was to see kids in the church, referring to Richard and Tracy’s kids.  (Nowadays, you see many children coming to this church again.  But back then, there were few.)  I just quietly agreed, saying nothing else, hiding my true feelings from her.

And the whole time, I kept one eye out for Richard to go off by himself, away from the shrew.  You see, ever since I sent the apology e-mail, I wondered if I should have Jeff say something about it if he ran into Richard at the grocery store, which was bound to happen eventually, and did on occasion.  I would have no peace unless I made sure he actually got it.

Finally, Richard went over to chat with some young men, one a member of the church and the others his friends.  So I went over and quietly asked, “Did you get the apology I sent you?”  He had not.

The others soon drifted off, as if realizing we had to talk privately.  I wondered if one of them, an altar server, had overheard the talk I had with my priest a few weeks before about this.  (In any case, I did eventually tell him everything, in I believe February 2012.)

Richard said, “It’s all good.  I blame myself for everything.”

I said skeptically, “You do?”  But this was promising.

He hadn’t gotten the e-mail.  He made it sound as if it had been lost among hundreds of political e-mails he’d been getting, and many e-mails about stuff that was going on in his family.

I had no idea he was actually lying through his teeth, in the church basement–and easy as you please. 

That in reality, he had blocked my e-mails. 

That his wife had made it impossible to even make peace with him. 

That she had his balls in a vice, controlled his every move with us, and he couldn’t even do the right and Christian thing by Jeff and me without her approval.

I said, “If you want to make peace, all you have to do is say so.”

I meant this as, if they wanted to apologize, but later realized he may have taken it as us apologizing, when it was no such thing.

He told me to call them later about it, and to re-send the e-mail so he could read it.  Which makes his lies even more infuriating, because he knew it was blocked, so why tell me to send an e-mail he can’t receive?

I told him I couldn’t take being spoken to the way Tracy had spoken to me.  This is when he made the ludicrous and appalling remark, described here, “Are some harsh words as offensive as not saying two sentences together to her for a month and a half?”

WHAT?  (“Harsh words” is extremely understated!)   WHAT month and a half? 

And I don’t count my sentences! 

What, ANOTHER rule nobody told me about? 

To this day I have no clue WHAT month and a half this was. 

I am naturally shy and quiet, always have been, and even when I’m not shy with someone, I still tend to say very little in common conversation. 

When we were in the same room, I behaved with her the exact same way I behave with most people, friends and strangers. 

This had not changed one bit in the past month and a half, or whenever the heck he was talking about. 

So I was being falsely accused and blamed for Tracy’s verbal abuse.

And he knew very well, from a conversation we once had, that this was my natural state:

Some time between 2008 and 2010, I told him my aunt just revealed that she always thought my father or brothers must have sexually abused me, because I am so quiet.  I said nothing like that ever happened.

Richard asked if I behaved then as I do now, “Never speaking except when spoken to?”  I said yes.  So he has no excuse for treating me this way and blaming me for Tracy’s abuse, because he knew this was my natural temperament and not meant to offend.

So being naturally quiet was somehow worse than being verbally abused???

Being wary of someone who’s been bullying you for two years and has recently upped the intensity, is worse than being verbally abused????

And this to a person they already knew to be extremely quiet in most social situations?

What kind of people are these two, anyway?

This was yet more proof that my e-mail was not the problem. 

That it wasn’t about me violating Tracy’s rules. 

That it was actually because they are prejudiced against introverts and people with NVLD

They couldn’t plead ignorance, because I made it very clear how my brain worked, how my socializing was, and what I needed, but they didn’t listen. 

In July 2010, August 2010 and probably for some time after, I shared a lot of articles on Facebook about how introverts are maligned and misunderstood, and posted that my ex-friends bullied and abused me for being an introvert.

But back to August 1.  Richard invited me to sit at his table.  I saw Tracy there and said, “Is it safe?”  He said, “She’s not a monster.”  He also said–showing that he obviously did get my good-bye message on Facebook–“She never hated you.”

I beg to differ.  I have to go by Tracy’s actions, not Richard’s lies.  And her actions made it very clear that she hated me for the past two and a half years.

But I reluctantly decided to trust him.  Big mistake.

I tried to be pleasant with Tracy, ask how her summer was going, relay a funny story about my son at T-ball.

She seemed pleasant, smiling and such, which I should have approached warily, but instead I saw it as a good sign that she was ready to apologize for her actions.

The kids were happy to see me and chat with me and the like.

Then Jeff showed up, very surprised–and displeased–to find me sitting with them.  He said nothing to me about it there, but he was very gruff, very reserved with Richard and Tracy.

Richard told Jeff his D&D character (Friday campaign) was “fighting monsters in the void.”  (He said nothing about our characters in the other campaign we’d been doing, with my character Phoena.)

It makes one wonder if he expected us to “come to our senses” and come back, so he kept the character waiting in the wings, rather than coming to us and apologizing.

Oh, no, an apology would be beyond him, because he’s a narcissist….

Jeff hugged the kids, since we missed them and they weren’t a part of this.  Richard told Jeff to give them a call later.

I complained to Richard for blocking us on Facebook, said the apology e-mail was sent three weeks ago but he never responded.

He said something about blocking us because he didn’t want a flame war, and the blocking being temporary until everyone cooled down.

Another lie, but I didn’t know this at the time, that the truth was Tracy had him by the balls and made him do this.

I had seen it as a sign that he didn’t want to speak to us, so we should leave him alone.

He told me we should let them know when/if we want to sit down and talk.  Then Jeff and I quietly left; I don’t remember saying good-bye.

At home, I re-sent the apology e-mail, cutting out the bits about reconciliation being impossible, maybe tweaking one or two things.

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

 

Struggling to process what the F**K just happened

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

On July 22, I sent this e-mail to Jeff:

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

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

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

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

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

I remember Tracy’s e-mail to you included something about “self-diagnosed learning disorder.” Which I thought Richard said should never be brought up to her.

I remember this sense that it could make her mad, that it might be dangerous to mention it to her. And I wonder when/why Richard mentioned it to her.

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

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

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

The thought of her possibly taking her fists to me has haunted me many times. I imagine you coming into the room, whether from the basement or your bed, screaming at her and throwing her out of the house. Me going to the hospital.

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

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

Jeff and I both feel that the e-mail that sparked the “incident” did not deserve the reaction it got.  Yes, he saw the e-mail, and when he told a group of our friends about it, they all agreed that it’s something that friends will tease you over and embarrass you over, but that would be that and everyone would move on.

But a woman who is so full of jealousy that she feels she has to approve her husband’s friends, who is so full of jealousy that saying “I’ll miss you dearly, but have fun” sparks a rage episode from her

–She’s not rational, and anything she says in such an irrational, raging state should be taken as just a bunch of BS that should never be taken to heart.  

She must have been reading this Wikihow-to on how to isolate your man from his friends.  (Check the comments, too: the later ones sound very familiar.  Here I link to a blog post about the Wikihow-to, but the original is here.)

More than one person has commented that Tracy is never satisfied; I saw this for myself because she was never satisfied with me.

My mistake has been going over the things she said again and again in my head as if they should be taken even slightly seriously, as if maybe there were something to my actions that was shameful.

But I know what was in the e-mail, what it was for, what it was about–and that it was all perfectly innocent.  My husband, too, has read that e-mail and the ones after it, and to him also it’s all perfectly innocent.

I did not deserve Tracy’s response.  

And Richard was Judas because he allowed her to do this, when he knew dang well that there was nothing about what I said that was in any way shameful or that in any way deserved her response.

There was nothing sexual in my e-mail, though it was treated like some sort of proposition.  Heck, I did not even want to see Richard naked, so why on earth would I proposition him?  My e-mail was that of one close friend to another.

Richard should be the one ashamed.  

Tracy should be ashamed of herself.  

I was sick of all the accusations coming from left and right when I had done nothing wrong.

But because I believed Richard, because I trusted Richard, Tracy treated me this way.

This made me feel set up by Richard, that he wasn’t telling her his part in the whole thing, but throwing me to the wolves for something that he did.

I thought Richard had eradicated the violence that had once been in his heart and actions, only to find it still there.

It makes me want to seek out the ones who love, and who want to stamp out all forms of violence, hate and suspicion, since I know they’re out there, finding traces of them on the Internet and in music by the Beloved, Shamen, and the like.

Even if they are some other religion than my own, they express the love for mankind that my own religion is supposed to be about,

instead of the hate I found here in two members of my own religion.

After all the loving things we had done for Richard and Tracy, to help them, to be there for them, things which I had been the one to initiate, Jeff the one to carry out–I was being treated like sh**.  I was told to f*** off.  I was treated like some hoebag slut.

After we had given them what they needed again and again and again, I was treated like some skanky tramp who steals husbands.

All because I reminisced over an innocent hug.  A hug!  A hug which had no groping, no kissing, no hands in the wrong places, no gazing into the eyes, nothing loverly, but was an expression of platonic love and caring for a dear friend who had helped Richard’s family!

I was full of rage, of fury.  Yet unlike Tracy, I did not throw f– bombs around, did not start cussing and screaming at her, kept myself in check, kept my tongue in check, though I was rapidly losing my temper and part of it was spewing into my messages.  I wrote, for example, “WHY AM I BEING TREATED LIKE A WHORE????!!!!!”

You’d think this would be a big huge flag that I did NOT see anything about my behavior that was whorish, that she should calm down and find out the true meaning of my message instead of reading all sorts of crap into it that wasn’t even there.

But no.  She’s always right about everything.  What she says your motives are, are indeed your motives.  If she sees your Facebook post of “I’ll miss you dearly, but have fun!” as moving in on her husband, then that’s indeed what it is.

Truth be d**ned.  The only truth is HER truth.  Whatever she dreams up in her pathetic imagination, is Truth.

–And don’t forget how cool Richard had become to me because I didn’t agree with his TEA Party politics, because I didn’t agree that Democrats and liberals were Antichrist, because I thought that Universal Health Care would be a good thing if Congress could get it to work.

My husband became furious with Tracy and Richard both for treating me like sh** over the e-mail.  

He was so furious with Richard and Tracy that he said to me that Tracy needs to go sit in a corner like a naughty child,

that there was no call for her to throw f-bombs at me,

that no she does NOT get her way this time,

and that he wouldn’t allow me to try to patch things up with them until Tracy got down on her knees and apologized to me.

When I was still in shock over everything and mourning what had happened, wishing the friendship would be restored, my pastor friend Mike asked WHY–saying that even if we did reconcile, this would always be between us, and that whatever friendship had been there in the past, “these people are TOXIC!”

Catherine, when I told her Tracy took my quiet nature as a personal attack, laughed and said, “How long has she known you?”  She also said that it sounds like Richard talked a lot but didn’t really listen to me.

Jeff even got upset with me during the week or two after the “incident” for even considering making apologies and reconciling, for thinking this is what the Orthodox Church says I should do:

Though he missed the children, as far as he was concerned, it was good riddance to Richard and Tracy after the way they’d treated me (and him for sticking up for me).  

He felt that if anyone was to apologize, it was her to me.  

He wouldn’t let me anywhere near her.

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

 

Why I refused to “confer” with Tracy–and how Richard betrayed me

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

I knew from the way Tracy had already laid into me, and from the way I heard/read her deal with other people (such as Todd), that respectfully presenting her concerns and then listening to my own point of view, explanations and needs, was not how she was going to approach me in her “conference.”

And getting yelled, screamed and cussed at by her was not going to have the effect she wanted.

Since my husband tried to calm her down with a kind e-mail with apologies, but ended up receiving an e-mail full of the worst verbal abuse of me yet, I could tell very well that Tracy had no interest in hearing what she herself was doing wrong.  So I had no interest in hearing what I had supposedly done wrong.  

I knew from how she treated Todd, just how interested she was in hearing any side but her own.  Their arguments had mostly been carried out in posts all over an Internet game forum, so I could see what happened.

I knew very well from all the bullying she’d been giving me, Richard and the children the past few months, that she had no interest in fairness or kindness or listening to anybody else but herself.

I also knew that if anyone treated her this way, she would not accept it as her due and just shut up and take it passively, as she expected me to do.

I knew because Todd, when she verbally abused him over a misunderstanding, eventually gave it right back to her, and it turned into a lot of back-and-forth screaming, cussing, ripping to shreds.

Yet she expected me to just take it all passively like a child who knows she deserves punishment?

She forbade me from even speaking to Richard to sort things out–the truth, what was not true, find out what the **** was he thinking letting her go off on me when he knew **** well that I was innocent–until I had this “conference” with her.

I knew I deserved NONE of it.  (Richard knew I deserved none of it, the rat.)

Jeff knew I deserved none of it, because he witnessed how I behaved with her, and he knew I was never mean or rude to her.  

Jeff knew that I gave her a flower recently, paid her a compliment recently, watched her kids, helped her out of a bind time and time again….

I was sick and tired of her bullying me, either herself or by proxy (Richard).  I would not have some fake friendship with her after all this crap, not even for the sake of staying friends with Richard.

Why was she so afraid of people that no one (men or women) could be friends with her husband without also thinking Tracy was this wonderful sweet person?

Was she afraid that if somebody saw her for what she was, she’d lose Richard?

I don’t know where she gets the idea that this is the way to solve problems with friends, that threats, intimidation, manipulation and control tactics–essentially, emotional blackmail–are somehow the “proper” way for her to behave.  

I don’t know where Richard got the idea that it was somehow okay for her to do that.

I don’t know how either of them could think we were going to take this and still be friends with them, how they could act afterwards as if we were the ones acting insulting or like children by leaving.

I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil’s mantra that “You teach people how to treat you.”  That sounds like victim-blaming.  However, if we had stayed friends with Richard and Tracy, we would have taught them it was okay to use tactics like this with us.

Tracy obviously wanted to have the upper hand and complete control over her husband and me.  She treated marriage like a prison, with her the jailer, deciding when to turn the key.

But I wasn’t going to play that game.  If she was going to put conditions on friendship, then our friendship was over.

Even my priest said, there should be NO conditions on friendship, but mutual respect.

As my husband said, “No, Tracy does NOT get her way!”  Just like you do when any child throws a tantrum: You go away and refuse to give in.

The most ludicrous part about it all was that I had seen far too much of Richard’s filthy habits, and his change from a sweet and pious guy to somebody I half-expected to join a militia organization and hole up in the woods with a gun arsenal, to think of him now as anything but a brother.  But I was being treated as if I wanted to jump his bones and was deviously trying to find a way to do so.

The biggest mistake I made, the most wrong thing I did, was not disentangling myself from this violent and deceitful couple much sooner.

But I loved Richard as a brother and loved the children, and wanted to be there for Richard as support in whatever way he needed.

I wanted to be a safe place for the children, show them that not every child lives the way they do, that they didn’t have to accept screaming abuse as their due.

But no matter what I did, Tracy colored it with her green-tinted glasses so that it was some sort of move on her husband.

I do believe that Tracy’s hostility and jealousy toward me wasn’t just that she felt uncomfortable with the close friendship Richard and I developed, but that I saw and recognized her abuse for what it was.

While I was sweet and laughed at his jokes and looked up to him.

If I’d kept my mouth shut about the abuse and jealousy, she probably would’ve liked me just fine.  But I felt I should tell him exactly what I thought about her behavior, that it was my duty as a friend.

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

 

 

Why we should not be forced to befriend a BFF’s abusive spouse: My story of abuse

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

Here is a blog comment describing an article by Richard Skerritt (an article which I could not find on the Net) showing the difference between a disordered adult’s tantrum and that of an angry child.  It basically says that comparing the two is unfair to children, because the adult’s tantrum lasts longer and is far worse:

Usually, despite the anger etc. the reaction was the result of some easily understood stimuli, like taking a toy away or something. Whereas, the triggering of the disordered can come about as the result of something that, to a normal person, is completely innocuous.

He also pointed out that a tantruming child can be comforted, eventually and , once the tantrum is done, the child is soothed and reverts to normal.

But, the raging disordered person can not be soothed and continues to go ballistic even if the offender tries to remove the offending stimuli.

Anna Valerious writes:

But today’s thought is simply this: the narcissist/abuser has tender feelings that they coddle and caress and expect you to do the same for their poor little feelings. Conversely, they will trample, disregard and spit on your feelings.

This is a sign of their basely selfish and corrupt natures and isn’t your cue to capitulate. Expect them to be ‘hurt’ when you state reality. Expect them to look wounded to the core when you don’t perform properly your “duty” by them.

Remember ’til your dying day that the narcissist and the abuser are filled with the tenderest sympathy for themselves, but can spare none or little for you.

This is a grotesque reality you mustn’t pretend away. Stop the crazy bus and get off!

There is something seriously wrong with a person who has feelings only for their own pain. Period. Every psychopath has feelings for himself.

The same psychopath gets a total thrill from hurting your feelings. Even if we’re only talking about someone who emotionally abuses you on occasion so they can feel better it is the same principle.

Someone who ignores your pain but has all kinds of compassion for their own pain is a sick sonafabitch. Steer clear. —Do They Have Feelings?

And this is from an article about communicating with people with disorders which make it hard to understand others.  The article is about people on the autism spectrum, but some of the NVLD social issues overlap with Asperger’s and autism:

Presume honesty. We may fail to make eye contact because it makes us feel anxious. We may be nervous in social situations with new acquaintances.

Some may construe our symptoms of anxiety as related to lying, and may not believe or trust us. If anything, however, most of us are honest to a fault. ….

Tell us if we are making you uncomfortable. For example, if we invade your personal space, and you just move away, we may not understand why.

If you say something like, “I am not comfortable with someone standing that close, but six inches farther apart feels good to me,” we will generally be very willing to do that, and not feel hurt. —Learning Each Other’s Language: Strategies to Improve Communication Between Neurotypicals and Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

It’s ludicrous the way Tracy lectured me in the 7/1 and 8/1/10 e-mails about “proper” behavior, saying that I was “wrong” and how “everybody knows, learning disability or not” that you’re supposed to befriend the wife if you want to do anything with the husband (playful banter with, going for coffee with, etc. etc.). 

No, I was NOT “wrong.”

1. It’s ludicrous because she knows absolutely nothing about what it’s like for people with NVLD or Asperger’s to struggle with social rules.  For example, until my mother explained it to me when I was maybe 11, I had absolutely no clue that you’re supposed to say “hi” back when somebody greets you in the hallway.  I had no idea I was offending people this way.

Social rules had to be explained to me or I would not know they existed.

2. It’s ludicrous because it’s not true: There is no such rule as the one Tracy stated.  This is a do-as-you-want society, where fixed social rules have long since been set aside.

I’ve had other friends whose spouses do NOT require this, such as my old college friend Mike.  I don’t know his wife, who won’t even friend me on Facebook because she doesn’t want to friend his friends.  Ever since they got married, they’ve lived too far away for me to get to know her.

Yet she has absolutely no objection to me chatting with him on Facebook, occasionally (innocently) flirting with him in those chats, exchanging e-mails, or, several months ago, having lunch with him when he happened to be in town.  No, she was NOT there, and neither of us had a “wing man” which some people think is “proper.”

I’ve also seen post threads on a local social network which showed that many people find “wing men” to be unnecessary, that all you need to do is let your hubby know you’re meeting this friend, and it’s totally proper.  Assuming your intentions are honorable, of course.  Your husband does not have to know the guy, you don’t have to know the woman he’s meeting.

Other people I’ve known and all sorts of comment threads I’ve found on the Net, tell me that Tracy’s rules are far from fixed, that it’s incredibly common to have the more trusting, do-as-you-want attitude I have lived and encountered.

Here’s one right here, Is She “His” Friend or “Our” Friend on Chocolate Vent:

I have a girlfriend who swears that married men should no longer have female friends once he’s married. Instead of just being his friend that woman should then become “our” friend.

I think that’s ridiculous, but I wonder how many women & men actually enforce that.

I mean why should I have to be friends with some woman just because my husband was friends with her first?

And same with my male friends – why should my husband be forced to make a new friend just because I was friends with him first?

….I don’t think that anyone should be forced to be friends with someone that they don’t know.

If my husband has female friends before we marry then those should be his friends & his friends alone. Of course, I’m sure I’ll end up meeting all of my husband’s female friends, I just wouldn’t want to be forced to befriend them just because we’re married.

After all, if I couldn’t trust him I should’ve never married him.

A commenter wrote,

I have friends my husband has no interest in socializing with, in fact he would rather cut his own throat than be forced to attend any event with. He has friends I feel the same about.

This includes both single and married friends, those we knew prior to our marriage and those we have met since our marriage, those of the same gender and of the opposite gender.

Also, throughout our marriage, my husband has had many female friends whom I did not know, but I had no objection to him going to SCA events alone, chatting with them, wandering off to chat with them when we visited, e-mailing them, meeting them for coffee, that sort of thing.

TRUST IS NECESSARY in a marriage, or it will degenerate into suspicion and controlling behavior, which ultimately will drive you apart, the opposite of what you intended. 

Also, I want to be friends with people because we get along and have things in common, NOT because I am or she is forced into it because of whom we’re married to.

3. It’s ludicrous because Tracy focused so much on what she demanded of other people, but gave them nothing, gave me nothing, gave no apologies for nasty behavior, no acknowledgement of how her husband is charming and easy to be friends with, but she turns people off from friendship with her.

4. It’s ludicrous because it violates my own rights to choose my friends, choose my confidantes, put up boundaries against people like her, and be able to tell for myself when someone is not good to be around.  

5. It’s ludicrous because–from Richard’s own words–she did not live by the same rules which she imposed on Richard and everyone else.  She did NOT befriend me before chatting with, playfully flirting with, or going to a concert with my husband.

Richard did NOT require that all her friends be friends with him as well, nor did she impose such a rule on herself.  Only Richard’s friends had to follow this rule.

6. It’s ludicrous because it takes the focus off the true offender–her, the one who abuses her husband, children, and anyone else she chooses–and puts it on a scapegoat.  

I knew just a few weeks into her rooming with us that she was a bad and emotionally dangerous person.  She was also bigger than I am and violent.

Forcing me into friendship with her was bullying and controlling behavior from both her and Richard, from the very beginning.

So when I think back, it’s not at all surprising that I dug in my heels and refused to go beyond polite hellos and responses to her comments or questions.

Jeff thinks one reason for her jealousy was that she knew I could easily steal away Richard, just by being nice and sweet to him, hanging on his every word and laughing at his jokes, a huge contrast to Tracy’s treatment of him.

But Jeff feels the real reason for her seeing me as a threat to her marriage, was not as a potential affair-partner, but as a confidante, someone who could open Richard’s eyes to just how badly Tracy was treating him and the kids, especially since I didn’t keep my mouth shut about it.

But of course, Tracy wouldn’t want to admit to this, so she conveniently fell back on the “moving in on my husband!” angle.

After all, Richard flirted with lots of people, who also flirted with him, but she didn’t seem to mind that.

And also, after she spouted on Facebook that she finally got to say what she wanted to me and no longer sit back and be “quiet and nice” (she doesn’t even know the meaning of “quiet and nice”)–

Which is far more socially acceptable, far more likely to get the approval of her friends and family: saying I was the person most likely to convince Richard that she’s abusing him and the kids, and that for his own safety and his kids’ safety, he needs to get out NOW–

or saying that I was “violating boundaries” and “moving in on” him?

I found this in Dear Abby on April 11, 2012:

DEAR ABBY: My sister, Beth, and I are very close, but a constant source of contention is her boyfriend, Brody. Beth and Brody have broken up several times, and each time it happens, she fills me in on every horrible thing he has ever done.

They always seem to get back together, and then Beth expects me to like him despite everything I know. Does the fact that she forgives and forgets mean that I have to do the same? –TOO MUCH INFO IN OHIO

DEAR TOO MUCH INFO: No, it doesn’t. But you should be civil, even if you’re not warm and friendly. Then cross your fingers and hope your sister recognizes less drama is healthier and the relationship ends soon.

See?  Even Dear Abby says you don’t have to be more than civil with your friend’s abusive significant other!

And I was always civil with Tracy, always polite and kind, saying hello and good-bye, responding to her questions, occasionally asking her things or paying her a compliment, occasionally chatting with her, giving her things, smiling at her, even biting my tongue when I had to, not mentioning the state of the house, not complaining when she snarked at me.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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

 

E-mails spilling all the abuse, to my closest friends

To my college friends, to whom I wrote a bit in 2008 about how Tracy treated me while living in my house, I wrote on August 29, 2010:

First, some bad news.  It seems the trouble from a few years ago, when Richard’s whole family was staying with us, never really went away.  I kept thinking it had, only to find–months later–that it hadn’t.

It seems his wife holds grudges like nobody’s business, and she targeted me.  I tried apologizing a year ago and thought things were fixed, but no.

Earlier this year, she’d been snarking at me for weeks until it seemed I could do nothing right, that everything I did was worthy of ridicule. (It reminded me of my younger brother, because he did that to me all the time growing up.)  Some of her snarks seemed downright possessive.

It finally turned into a massive blowup.  It sounds like a bunch of misunderstandings, but the trouble is, from e-mails Jeff and I exchanged with her, she’s just not willing to admit that she did things to contribute to the problem.

Won’t forgive, won’t apologize for ANYthing, thinks that I should just sit down and take all the verbal abuse and bullying she wants to throw at me, that I should admit that I deserve it, be the scapegoat for all our problems, and submit to her.

While Richard allows it, either because she’s talked him into agreeing with her and not listening to anything I say, or he’s afraid of what she’ll do if he opposes her.

I just plain don’t like her because I see her treating other people like this, too, including her kids and Richard.

Heaven help the person she gets mad at, because she throws tantrums (swearing, screaming, belittling, etc.). 

Richard has lost other friendships because of her.  I actually watched one friendship die over the Internet, as they argued with a guy [Todd] who’d been Richard’s friend (online and in real life) for 6 years, on a game forum.

It sounds like she didn’t like him in the first place, and when he did something in the game she didn’t like, she went on the warpath rather than talk about it first.  He was offended and has a bad temper of his own, so things went very badly.  This happened two years ago.

And now they’ve lost us, because I’m sick of being bullied for 3 years and won’t take verbal abuse, and Jeff is furious over the whole thing.

Richard had also been intimidating and practically threatening Jeff.  So we looked at each other and decided this was nuts, we can’t take this anymore.

I was and still am heartbroken because Richard was a very dear friend.  He was the cool and awesome [his main online persona] of my favorite online forums and games, and he enjoyed my company and told me I was the most awesome person he knew.  We’d talk for hours upon hours about religion, music and life.

But he seems to have changed quite a bit in the last 6 months or so.  I don’t know what happened, but there have been problems between us for a while, too. 

It may be his heavy involvement in politics, including the TEA Party and some Anarchy and conspiracy theories he’s been getting into.  I don’t agree with it, and he started getting rude to me on Facebook postings.

He used to be sweet, but lately he would just rip into me whenever I tried to bring up some problem and get it dealt with.

He started getting rude with Jeff as well whenever Jeff would post something political.

There were just so many little things that were adding up and getting very annoying and making me question the state of our friendship.

I do hope that one of these days, they will realize their own part in the break and apologize.  At least Richard did apologize to me for some things [this comes in the next chapter].

But there can be no reconciliation between our families until they apologize for their harshness and are willing to put the past aside and be friends, to stop the power struggle. 

I made my apologies, because I recognized I did some wrong and nutty things myself.  But instead of calming down Tracy, they just seemed to spur her on and make her feel more righteous.  Then she wondered why we finally said we need a 6-month (or more) break instead of a conference.

We’re not going to move to end the break.  We want to know that we will find softened hearts, not make a move and get our noses bitten again.

My priest said it was wise to offer a break instead of having this conference, because it would’ve turned into a slinging of anger and resentment that would have done absolutely nothing to repair the friendship, but only make things worse.  He said to be happy in the decision I made and not second-guess it.

My mom says not to contact them again, that Tracy’s manipulative. 

They’ve blocked our entire family on Facebook, even our son.  From things she said, that was probably Tracy’s doing, with Richard going along to have peace in his household, which has drama enough already. What kind of person blocks a 6-year-old child?

I do hope and pray her heart will soften.  Not just for our sakes, or to restore a friendship, but for her sake and that of everyone around her.

She grew up in a horrific environment.  It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it does explain where it comes from.

Other people who hurt me in the past have apologized to me over the Net, many years later, so I know it can happen.  I’ve done all I can do to try to repair things, so it’s her turn now.

I’m tired of trying to be her friend while she snarks at me and screams at the kids and/or Richard right in front of me.  I’m tired of being to blame for not getting close to her when she, frankly, scares me.

It means I’ve lost a very dear friendship, but we had to walk away or I was going to be slowly destroyed.

Jeff–who, by the way, is not in any way controlling, so he wouldn’t do this lightly–won’t let me talk to them.

You see, they showed up at my church exactly one month after the blowup.  I had some unfinished business with Richard, so I spoke to him. Our conversation made me believe that reconciliation was finally possible.

But, as usual, he was the agreeable one, but Tracy turned out to be immovable (a word which, by the way, he himself uses to refer to her in other situations).

Jeff was not happy to find me sitting at their table at coffee hour.  So now he tells me if they show up at my church again, don’t talk to them, since I finished my business with Richard. 

In this whole thing, I’m the weak one, Jeff’s the strong one.  So I’m letting him protect me.

I’ve been reaching out to people we know in the surrounding communities, trying to reconnect.

Before Richard brought his family here, I was feeling very lonely because it was hard to find people to hang out with, what with church switches, different work schedules and friends who kind of faded away.

Finally we had a family to hang out with, friends for us, friends for our son.  But now they’re gone again.

With the emergence of Facebook, it’s gotten much easier to find people I lost touch with, and start arranging movie nights and such.

The A– SCA group has started dance practices again, every other week, with about an hour of social time afterwards at a local bar and grill.  It’s a late night for our son, but we figure he can sleep in the car on the way home, and we NEED social time.

Today I asked a woman at church (one of the very few who are my age) out for coffee, and she agreed.

So I’m working on connecting with old and new friends so that I won’t feel desperately lonely with the loss of my (former) best friend and all the things we used to do with his family.

I’m still grateful to him for leading me into Orthodoxy, and miss the good times, but he just doesn’t seem like the same person I used to know. 

I sometimes wonder how much of the guy I used to know, was real, and how much was an act put on for me because he didn’t want to scare me off. 

I wonder how much of the change is from him getting obsessed with politics and dealing with a wife who keeps going through abusive cycles. 

He said he loved me like a sister, and that I was very dear to him, so I know that much was real.  [Now I doubt that.]

I know he didn’t want to lose our friendship, because he told Jeff that a few days before the blowup (during an argument with me), and because Jeff heard through a mutual friend that he and Tracy miss playing a certain roleplaying game with Jeff.

[She asked what happened, Jeff was vague, she said, “So it’s high school drama?”  Well, I suppose so, when you’re dealing with a 29-year-old who acts like a teenager.  Now, Jeff and I also doubt that they ever missed either of us or ever cared to preserve the friendship.]

So who knows, maybe one of these days they’ll regret their harshness.  But I can’t count on that, so I have to move on.  This has been a very rough summer, so I look forward to the school year, hoping it will get my mind off things.

I also desperately hope that my church survives, and that Richard’s church survives.  Because if either of our churches folds, we will all have to go to the same church.

(They go to the — church, which is tiny and struggling, and I go to the — church, which is tiny and struggling.  They’ve been in talks with each other about things they can do to survive, such as merging.)

For right now, while there is a risk they’ll come to my church again, most of the time we’re still at different churches and can worship in peace.

My friend Cindy wrote,

I agree with Mike, someone that is so hurtful to you is not really a friend you want to have in your life. Friends accept us for who we are and support us. You are a nice person and should be treated kindly by your friends.

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