Category: mutism

The Care and Feeding of Shy People

This was originally a Usenet post, posted to a large SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, medieval hobbyists) newsgroup back in the spring of 1998.  The newsgroup was called the Rialto.

This was before the explosion of Internet articles and blogs about how introverts need respect, too, for the way they socialize (or not) and the way their brains work.

I expected a lot of criticism for going against what I kept hearing from the extroverts all around me.  Instead, I got an amazing response from all sorts of other shy people who agreed with me, and suggestions such as carrying around M&Ms to offer to people as icebreakers.

I also got a helpful critique from someone who was not shy, which helped me revise it into a better form.

The chronicler (newsletter writer, guy named Folo) for one shire (SCA group belonging to a city/region) saw it and asked to publish it in his shire newsletter.  So this has actually been published before.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to my copy of the newsletter, so can’t reference it.  But I do have an e-mail with the updated version which I agreed to have published.  It was specifically addressed to SCA readers, but applies to everyone.  Here it is:

Sometimes comments are made to shy people, especially to scared newbies or recent newbies who still don’t know many people very well, that are thought to be helpful but are really not.  For example, “Well, if you’re bored / If you don’t know many people, then you should talk to people.”  Or, “Do you talk?”  Or greeting a person not with a hello, but with a, “Don’t talk so much today!”

Such comments may be well-intentioned, even considered humor.  To the speaker, they may seem reasonable and easy to act upon.

But they sound rude to the recipient, and can actually be counter-productive.  Instead of talking or smiling more or starting conversations, the shy person may grow increasingly resentful, talk less, and, instead of doing the things he naturally does to start friendships, ends up not even doing that.

He grows more uncomfortable and self-conscious than he would have been.  In effect, an outgoing person telling a shy person to talk more is like a well person telling a sick person to get better, or a cat telling a dog to be a cat.

Instead, be more understanding of the shy person’s natural manner of making friends.  Some are not sure how to make friends, but some have already developed strategies that work for them.

Maybe a particular person is quiet at first, but more talkative after getting to know you. I  have found myself going from quiet to talkative in a matter of minutes with a person I’ve only just met, because we seemed to “click.”

But often, the thought of talking with a complete stranger can make a shy person freeze up.  Let him ask for help, and don’t just assume he needs it.

Another thing to do is, if he appears bored or uncomfortable, you could invite him to join your group at a meal or whatever your group is doing.  Then don’t persecute him if he doesn’t open up right away.

(Our reasons for keeping quiet in a group discussion are varied: we don’t know the subject at all, we don’t have anything to say, all our points are already made by others, or we just can’t get a word in edgewise until the subject has already changed!)

If he thinks he would like to get to know you better, he might, after this icebreaker, seek you out.  Or need to be invited once or twice more.  That would help a lot.  Ask him for his opinions on conversation topics, too–make him a part of discussion.  Remember, you have the power here, in the shy person’s eyes.

Crowds can also be intimidating.  A relaxed setting (meaning, no one’s pressured to talk), such as a game of pente or watching TV, with a handful of people is an excellent way to get a shy person to “open up.”

Those are my observations after years (inside and outside the SCA) of seeing what works and what doesn’t.  What works is to accept the shy person as shy and/or quiet; what doesn’t work is to try to change this without being asked.

Nyssa of Iona

 

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On Being Judged for Shyness

[Note: This post was reblogged and praised here by another shy, quiet person.  And got a couple of likes.  🙂  ]

I am painfully shy.  Always have been, and despite all the scoldings I’ve received about it over the years, probably always will be.

The very last thing you should do with a shy person is scold about it, order her to talk more, bring attention to her shyness, punish her for it, or accuse her of rudeness.

It’s counterproductive, pushing us further into our shells.  A scolding will merely get you resentment, not the outgoing, talkative person you were trying to get.

Whether the shyness is from just shyness, a social anxiety disorder, NVLD, Asperger’s, or selective mutism (or all of the above), scolding will get you nothing at all, just make the shy person even quieter and more shy.

In college, I went to a frat party because they were going to show a movie which I had not seen before but all my friends had.  My friends didn’t show up, but there were a few other people there whom I knew, so I occasionally spoke with them.  But mostly I watched the movies.

One of them, a guy who was supposed to be my friend but kept criticizing me all the time, told me that after I left, the frat guys sat around joking about me, asking if I had said anything to anyone.  It made me feel like a freak.

In the beginning of my time playing in the SCA (medieval re-creation group), I was extremely frustrated because all people ever said to me was, “You’re so quiet!”  Yeah, whatever, tell me something I don’t know.  Or ordered me to smile when I didn’t feel like smiling.

I felt like an aberration because I wasn’t outgoing and chatty like them.

Meanwhile, people just seemed to leave me alone while they went off with their other friends.  I didn’t enjoy events at all because there was nobody to hang around with, nobody to make me feel like anything other than a sore thumb just wandering back and forth with nothing to do.

One guy even told me–completely unasked-for advice–that I needed to be “livelier.”  What the heck does that even mean?

I finally wrote an article which was published in an SCA newsletter, “The Care and Feeding of Shy People.”  I was amazed at how much support it got, that I wasn’t the only shy person in the SCA after all, that there were plenty of people like me.

In 1995 or 1996, my manager at work told me I was being too shy, and because of it people were scared to talk to me.

It didn’t change a thing: Instead of inspiring me to talk more, it merely made me resentful to be singled out yet again as the freak–and baffled at how anybody could be scared to talk to me when I was never mean to anyone, just the meekest person there.

What does my being shy have to do with my ability to do my job?  I did it quite well, in fact.

I can talk more easily around people I’m comfortable with.  There are those friends with whom I can talk easily for hours, even.  But they are few, because it seems like few people want to take the time to actually draw me out and make me into a friend.

Do you really expect someone who can barely croak out a “hello” to be able to just walk up to somebody and start a conversation, or invite you to coffee?  If I’m not comfortable with you, I can barely even think up a comment about the weather, let alone anything else.  It actually blocks off the conversational centers of my brain.

It has been scientifically proven that introverts don’t do well at conversation because their brains actually work differently than an extrovert’s in that situation.  We must think before we speak; we can’t just rattle off stuff.

If I know nothing about the topic the other people are speaking on, or have no experience with it, then I have nothing to say about it.  Or maybe the other people are talking so quickly, one after another, that I never get a chance to say what I do want to say, before the topic has changed.

I had finally found a friend who did take that time to get to know me and spend time with me.  I was able to talk to him easily for hours, and it seemed like it was never enough time to talk.  He said I was the most awesome person he knew.  But his wife absolutely refused to believe that my shyness and quietness around her was anything other than disrespect and rudeness.

I kept trying to plead my case to him and beg him to explain it to her, to get her to let me be me and not put so much pressure on me.  But he refused to believe I was doing anything but making excuses, and kept putting pressure on me to be all friendly and outgoing with her. 

And she refused to believe I was shy, just kept finding new ways that I was somehow “snubbing” or “disrespecting” her, while he kept accusing me of violating this or that conversational rule, giving her an excuse to take away normal friendship privileges with him.  He could do these things with all his other friends, but not with me.

And what I could or could not do with him kept changing all the time; I’d be punished without knowing what I was doing wrong this time.  She was abusive to everyone around her, and decided to abuse me, too, which made it impossible for me to get close to her or feel comfortable around her.

I finally had a friend, someone who lived near me, and had many interests in common with me.  Then he was taken away from me because other people chose to judge me instead of taking off the pressure and allowing me to be myself, helping me to get comfortable enough to talk with her. 

In fact, I have been more scared of people in the year and a half since she yelled and screamed at me online for no good reason, wondering who I can trust to not be judgmental.

Then he accused me of somehow being “more offensive” than her “harsh words” (which were foul and filthy) because at some point, I supposedly didn’t speak two sentences together to her for a month and a half.

(I have no idea what month and a half, since nobody ever said a word about it at the time.  And I certainly never heard of this “rule” that you’re supposed to speak two sentences in a row to be considered inoffensive.)

It still makes me angry.  No, not angry, furious.  Furious that even people in their late 20s/30s can be so judgmental about shy people.  It made me feel like a freak yet again.  And I bet those creeps still blame me for the end of the friendship, still think I’m the one with the problem.

Please, don’t be that person.  Don’t expect shy people to talk.  Draw them out instead by asking questions.

If we still don’t say much, don’t take it personally: Sometimes it takes a while for us to become comfortable enough with you to talk easily.  Or maybe we simply have nothing to say about that subject. 

Because our brains have such a hard time coming up with conversational topics off the cuff, just give us a chance.  Let us be ourselves, and don’t make a big deal about our quiet natures. 

It may take a few meetings, it may take 20 or 100, but eventually, we may begin to open up to you.  Even now I can be very quiet in a group of people I’ve known and been comfortable with for years, but one-on-one I can often be more talkative.

I am the son
and the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am Human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

–The Smiths, “How Soon is Now”

 

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Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends with the Abusers

[This is an outpouring of grief and anger I felt shortly after discovering that my former best friend was convicted of choking his child, and in the process of recovery from severe psychological trauma inflicted on me by this person and his wife. 

[The grief and anger were so difficult to contain or deal with that I took to writing about it, especially as I would get continually triggered just by seeing a mutual Facebook friend respond to something they wrote. 

[In italics are additions and explanations I have put in while revising this in following years.

[Directly below is an index to this post.  Click on the links if you want to skip to some section in particular.]

Do our mutual friends know the identity of my abuser?

When you have been abused by a friend, or when you have discovered that your friend is a narcissist, or when you have discovered that your friend has a dangerous personality disorder such as narcissistic borderline, mutual friends may or may not believe you.

I have posted on Facebook and my blogs what really happened, that Richard and Tracy abused me, abuse their children and abuse each other, and that Richard has been convicted of choking his daughter.  But I didn’t use their real names in these posts.

[I did NOT mention my blogs or include the extensive detail of my blogs in these Facebook posts.  I did not say who I meant.  E-mails to close friends and other private conversations had more detail.  It just did not feel right to use names etc. on Facebook with mutual friends reading. 

[My motives for posting on Facebook were twofold:

[1. I put friends and family on my Facebook, and desperately needed the support of all of them together as a group in this difficult time of grief and PTSD-like symptoms, and no money for professional therapy.  I didn’t want to talk to a therapist, anyway: I wanted my friends and family to know what happened. 

[2. If the mutual friends did figure it out, I hoped they would intervene by talking to Richard/Tracy about the abuse, that it is abuse and wrong, and to get them to lighten up on me.  But I couldn’t just come out and ask them to get in the middle.

[Also, on the day of the breakup, Tracy began posting snarky and exulting comments on Facebook about how she was having a GREAT day because she was yelling and screaming her foul, untrue, and Satanic rage at me.  I feared what kind of slander and smear campaign she was carrying on on Facebook against me after I unfriended her, having seen her already do this with Todd in an online game.]

Mutual friends have seen some of the Facebook posts, but only one has acknowledged figuring out who I was talking about.  That one, Todd, already knew what Tracy was really like, having been her target two years previous.  When he found out about the criminal case and saw the proof for himself, he dropped Richard on Facebook.  So somebody believes me!

The others–I don’t know if they even know who I mean.  Richard and Tracy are still on their friends list, so even though I can’t see the blocked posts, I can see the mutual friends responding to their posts.  If they do know who I mean, do they believe me?

One mutual friend dropped me from Facebook almost a year ago now, with no word at all of why; this was Chris, my replacement as Richard’s BFF when I kept thinking for myself instead of following everything Richard said about politics and everything else.  [Chris re-friended me in 2014.  Shortly before 2015, he appears to have deactivated his Facebook.]

Websites often warn that you can lose mutual friends after being abused and/or being caught in the web of a narcissist.  They’re still caught in the web, and don’t believe this person could do what you say he’s done.  Maybe one day they, too, will come to the truth about the narcissist, but for now they think you’re crazy, bitter, whatever.

I wonder how the mutual friends can possibly not know who I mean, since I haven’t posted on the walls of Richard and Tracy for a year and a half, when I used to post there all the time.  (These people are connected via Internet and don’t live near each other.)

The mutual friends may occasionally respond to my posts of what happened, but they don’t acknowledge knowing who I mean.  They never ask for proof of my assertions that Richard has been convicted of choking his little girl, and is now on probation for it.  But if they only asked, I would give them three links which would prove to them beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m telling the truth.

These are three publicly available links; one is from the website of the local newspaper, and two are free, public, state-run websites, one with court cases and the other an inmate/community supervision locator.  All the information is on those three links, including mug shots, name, birthdate, addresses, what happened over the course of the case, details of the choking incident.

Yet they never ask; they keep Richard and Tracy on their Facebook; apparently they are in denial.  Maybe they’re afraid to face the truth, that their friends are abusive, violent people who have hurt many and who have already lost many friends, both individually and together.  Yeah, well, the truth is right there if only you want to face it, the proof is all on the Web that he’s not the amiable, big-hearted person he pretends to be.

[Update: In 2012, one of these mutual friends did, indeed, ask for these links, and was convinced.  But this was on a private Web forum, not on Facebook, where I felt free to discuss Richard and Tracy’s criminal actions (stalking and threatening me, choking their kid) using their names, thanks to another mutual friend paving the way.]

Do they believe me?  Do they have any clue these people are child abusers?

It’s hard for me to deal with this.  I avoid poking around too much in the posts of mutual friends, for fear that I’ll see them reply to Richard or Tracy, because I get a sour feeling in the pit of my gut when I see that.

There is still too much grief; there is still too much disbelief that Richard is a narcissist, even though I see the proof in his mug shots, the lack of remorse, the contempt instead of shame.

There is still too much anger at the injustice of Tracy’s projection of guilt onto me, at her abuses of me, at her gaslighting and vicious, nasty behavior.

Hubby wants me to no longer care what she thinks of me, and that’s what I want, too, but the anger and feeling of injustice still burn hot.  But when I do accidentally see a mutual friend responding to a post that is blocked from me, as I did last night, I start wondering,

“Are Richard and Tracy acting like nothing has happened and they’re just normal, healthy people who wouldn’t hurt a fly?  Is Richard pretending to all his friends that he never got charged with choking his child, never got convicted?

“Are they pretending to all their friends that Social Services is not involved in their family, even though it says right there in Richard’s signature bond agreement that he was ordered to cooperate with Social Services?

“Or do the mutual friends know all this, but not care that Richard and Tracy claim to be Christians but are severely lacking in morals, just as Richard kept being friends with the creeps who sexually harassed me in 2009, and got upset when I suggested their morals were lacking?

“Do they believe Richard or Tracy if they say that I’m the crazy one?  Does Tracy still post things like she did on 7/1/10, when she posted on Facebook that she was having a GREAT day because she no longer had to sit back and be quiet and nice, that she finally got to say what she wanted to say?”

(My husband said to that, when I told him yesterday about her post, “Say about *what*?  When was she keeping quiet and nice, and about what?”  Which is what I wonder as well, because I really don’t know.  I tried to be polite and kind to her all the time.)

I wonder, “Is Tracy still staying with Richard even though he almost killed her daughter?  Is Richard still staying with Tracy even though she hits him and he once told me he had to hold himself back, but if she ever hit his face, he’d tell her, ‘You’re not a woman,’ and hit her back like she was a man?

“Doesn’t Richard realize that this never ends well, that if he doesn’t get out now, the violence will escalate over time, until one day he’s beaten her up or even killed her, and the law won’t care who hit first, and will throw him in jail?  Especially now that he already has a child abuse conviction against him!”

I’ve done all I can.  I told Social Services what I witnessed and what Richard told me.  I told my priest what happened, and though I did not tell him Richard’s identity, I believe he’s figured it out.  I’ve tried to tell my friends the truth, whether mutual friends believe me or not, or even know who I mean.  I suggested to my husband that he report the threat Richard sent to him back on June 28, 2010, but he doesn’t want to.

The rest has been done by their oldest daughter, who had the amazing courage to report her own step-father to the police, and by law enforcement and Social Services.  I really should let myself rest with that, but I keep feeling like there’s something else I need to do.  But what else would there be?

What if my abusers join my church??!!

Richard’s church and mine are both very small and in financial trouble; the archdiocese has suggested they merge.  The two churches don’t want to merge, since they’re in different counties, and somebody would have to move.  But the option is still on the table.

If the churches merge, I will have to go to the priest with my concerns, and show him the proof that Richard is a convicted child abuser, to establish my credibility and prove that he is violent.

Because Tracy has bullied and verbally abused me as well, I will have to also show him an article I found on a contract one church drew up with a member who had been charged with molestation, a contract which was meant to help the member find redemption, but also consider the needs and fears of the victims.  We could modify it for our own needs.

If Richard comes to my church again, my husband and I will have to address the elephant in the room (his unrepentant attitude for hurting me, and the conviction), and confront him with the child abuse case, tell him we know what he did and he can’t keep coming here, intimidating me and bringing up all my feelings of grief and anger all over again while I’m trying to worship God.

Realizing my former friend is truly a narcissist

I thought, the last time he came, that he was showing signs of repentance for what he did to his little girl.  I hoped again, hoped he was cooperating with Social Services, hoped they were making him go to anger management and parenting classes, hoped he was working on those violent tendencies that drove him to tell me he was going to kill the lady who evicted him in 2009, to want to hit his wife, to choke his little girl until she passed out just because she wasn’t cleaning up after herself.

Those violent tendencies that drove him to tell my husband that he’s easily provoked to physical violence, that he was ready to fight verbally and physically, that because my husband was sticking up for me against Richard’s bullying, Richard felt angrier than he had felt in years.

I hoped that Richard now realized, thanks to his conviction and nearly killing his daughter, that he needed help desperately.  I hoped he was full of shame.  I hoped he would finally come to Hubby and me, and try to make things right.  I hoped that good side I thought was there, would finally get him to do the right thing, and this grief would end, I would get my friend back….

But then I saw the five mug shots taken a few weeks after he came to my church, and they were full of contempt.  Hubby says Richard also looks like the cat who swallowed the canary, like he got away with something.

There are also the many things he himself told me which show him to be a narcissist: using conversational hypnotism to get me to open up to him, his boast of arrogance, his boasting about all his past women and getting them fighting each other, telling me that his exes would sit around at the same table talking about how evil he was, joking about his big ego, faking speaking in tongues to his congregation while preaching (many years ago)….

There were so many things he told me which painted a distinct picture of narcissism in his youth.  But he had led me to believe that he had turned away from such things, respected women now, was being saved by the Orthodox Church.

I had this image of him, this friend, that may never have truly existed.  In 2009 or 2010, he complained about having to “pamper” me, even though I never asked him to, said that Tracy actually got angry with him for not saying things she knew he wanted to say while I was visiting.

This makes me wonder, WHAT things?  How much of what I believed was his personality and character, was real?  Was it all an act?  Did the person I saw as my friend–Did he ever even exist, or was he just a persona invented by Richard to lure me as his narcissistic supply?

I’ve been a victim of narcissists in the past; now I was vulnerable because I’m very shy, have trouble making close friends, all my close friends were living so far away that I hadn’t seen them in some time, and I have always wanted one of those platonic friendships like Frodo/Sam, Bill/Ted, Anna/Clarissa, Anne/Diane, Gus/Shawn….

After all, in one of his favorite chat rooms, the other people were very surprised to hear that he wanted to be a priest.

I have every reason to believe that Richard is truly a narcissist, that I’m not just making up some idea in my head to make myself feel better.  The proofs are at least as clear as the proofs of Tracy being a malignant narcissist and/or borderline personality disorder.  The biggest proof is the look in his eyes in his mug shots.

I thought he had changed from the violence and “dog” days of his past, was now gentle and sweet, especially because he wanted to be a priest and we were always talking about theology, the Church and God.

But now I see him as just as much a predator as he was in his younger, “dog” days, just more subtle.  After all, why should I believe him anymore that he’s changed in this way, when he also claimed to have changed in other ways–turning away from violence in general, no longer abusing his kids–only to be proven a liar when he planned to kill that lady in 2009, threatened my husband in 2010, and choked his daughter a few months later?

I’m very disappointed in Richard, very disappointed to have to let go of the belief that he could still be saved from himself.  It’s very difficult because for all this time, I’ve hoped that the good in him would one day win out and I would have my friend back.

Even at my angriest, I’ve been sad over having to give up his friendship, and hoped it was only temporary.  It had been such an important friendship to me, and I had thought for so long that it was important to him as well, that he didn’t want to lose my friendship or my husband’s.

So why won’t he man up and talk to us, why won’t he fight for our friendship, apologize to us?  Why did he plead no contest and still show, in his pictures, contempt for law enforcement, which is only doing its job protecting our weakest citizens?

Somehow I must accept that I now have proof of his narcissism, that he’s not the man I thought he was, and somehow I must stop longing for his friendship back.  But I don’t know how I’ll do that.

When I speak of new evidence I’ve found for Richard’s narcissism, my husband doesn’t sound surprised at all.

I keep remembering things that make me think Richard really does have a good heart, but my husband keeps remembering things about Richard that rubbed him the wrong way, made him think that Richard is actually heartless, such as his politics, or that he lacked in empathy and wasn’t a good, caring friend, such as when Hubby tried to explain to him why I resisted Tracy and how I was being unfairly treated, but Richard did not listen.

My giving nature keeps looking for the good in Richard, despite all the evidence in front of me, or how angry I am with him.  But Hubby seems to just nod whenever I have some new revelation.  For example, when I showed Hubby the mug shots taken a month after the conviction and a couple of weeks after Richard seemed repentant and humble at church.

For him to act this way at church but act contemptuous while dealing with law enforcement over his despicable acts–I was shocked and dismayed, but Hubby didn’t seem surprised at all.

He saw Richard as complaining about his lot in life but unmotivated to do anything about it; he saw Richard as believing himself to be good, and having a superiority complex (that Tracy has one as well), having to be better than everyone else, smarter, knowing secret things, having the right religion, etc.

(He also believed Tracy envied me for having a better life and better husband, and couldn’t stand that.  I know she envied my husband because Richard told me how often she wished hers did as much around the house as mine did.  There was also the time when Hubby promised to rub my feet, and she said, “Can we switch husbands?”)

I saw Richard as practically a saint, a wise counselor, a fount of knowledge on the True Church.  I was the perfect narcissistic supply.

Realizing that I, too, stayed friends with these narcs after they were cruel to a mutual friend

You will note that I stayed friends with Richard and Tracy even though I knew they were both being asses to Todd.  Of course, Richard told me enough things about Todd to make him sound like a horrible person in general, even though he’d been close friends with Todd for years, so I began to disregard the crap being slung at Todd over the game.

So maybe it’s not so surprising that Richard’s other friends are still with him, even though I’ve exposed the abuse.  If they’re still caught up in his web, they may not realize just how badly he’s acted, even with the evidence in their faces.  I still stayed with Richard even though I knew he almost assaulted that lady.

As one person on the Forum (where we all used to post) wrote to Todd about Richard after finding out about the court case, “He always was an a–hole, but you were his friend and didn’t notice.”  Several people on the Forum also said that Richard is a narcissist.

How the narc made me feel inferior and deficient

As the loyal supply, there were times when he would tell me I was somehow deficient in some way, and I would object, but then strive to live up to his expectations.

For example, when I tried to explain that it upset me when he kept standing me up, he made me feel like I was being clingy, so I apologized and tried to not be clingy.

For another example, one day while his whole family lived with us, I was sick of looking on my living room floor and seeing the whole family’s dirty laundry, all in a huge pile.  So I asked him to please pick it up.  He said, “You’re pushy!”  So I said, “Sorry if I seem pushy.  It’s just–It’s my living room and I want it clean!”  Then he laughed at me.  Apparently, calling me pushy was some kind of joke.

Just as he called me a prude for not liking gory movies, I got very upset by this, he kept calling me a prude over the months because I don’t like gore, then one day he told me he was just teasing me.

Or another time when he lived with us, I kept giving him strong hints every other day that he needed to take a shower, and because I showered daily, he said something about how in Roman days, I’d be spending all my time in the baths.  Basically, he made me feel like I’m obsessive about showers just because I shower daily like most Americans, and don’t like how badly he smells when he doesn’t.

But then months later he told me he was just teasing me, that growing up he was actually quite clean, and was just trying to spare my water while he lived with us.

The narc and his loyal followers–whom he could drop and now they’re scum of the earth

And he sure did crave that narcissistic supply.  After he moved in, I noticed that his cell phone was constantly ringing, even though much of the time he’d put off whoever was calling so he could continue chatting with me.

Also, after he moved out, I also began realizing that he was far more into befriending people than anyone I had ever known: Instead of online friends staying online friends unless they happened to be in the area for a meetup, he would get phone numbers and call all his online friends, making them phone friends.  And since he was into all sorts of games and forums online, there were lots of people he befriended like this.

When I tried to chat with him online, he would tell me that ten other people were also chatting with him, and that’s why his responses were so slow.  Or we’d be having a heart-to-heart, and his responses would be quick–but then he’d tell me he’s also on the phone having a heart-to-heart with his ex-girlfriend.

Then of course, there were people he met in real life: He would talk the ears off pretty much anybody, and make them into friends.  He also still regularly talked to friends he’d made many years before.

I began to wonder when he’d ever have time for his BFF with all these other friends, when we could ever have a decent online conversation, how I was to have a phone conversation when his call waiting kept beeping.  I wondered how he could possibly maintain so many active friendships.

Most people, by the time they’re married and have a family, simply don’t have the time to be actively maintaining every single friendship they’ve ever made, including online ones.  These were the days before Facebook, when you could maintain long-distance or old friendships simply by posting on a Wall.

Now I realize that this is probably an indication of narcissism, that he had to get all that narcissistic supply, surround himself with followers.

I noted that he had several heterosexual guy friends, including Chris, who were just as loyal to him as I was, craving to be with him, calling him up all the time, wanting to move to the area just so they could be with him.

So his charisma could inspire that in anyone, not just females.  I don’t know how he did this.  But somehow Richard had woven such a spell that I would soon want nothing more than to be in his company, chatting with him or giving him a big hug.

Todd was one of those loyal friends, even though they lived far apart, and when he stayed with Richard on vacation, he wrote on the forum about how much he loved being with Richard, wanted to move in with Richard for good, was actually planning it for a time.

But then, a couple years later, the blowup and fallout happened, and he began to come out of the spell.  Now, he’s the only other friend of Richard I’m aware of who no longer wants a thing to do with him because of the choking incident.

If I had still been friends with Richard when it happened, I wonder if somehow he would have convinced me that he was being persecuted by the guvmint, and I would have stayed friends with him, even though he had done a despicable act that goes against everything I believe in (choking his kid).

Even though, during the time he lived with us, he made me feel like we had bonded and had a very special friendship, that I was standing in for his beloved sister since she was so far away–now I felt like just one of many.

He was my BFF, the one I confided in about everything, the one I most wanted to see, but I felt like he wasn’t confiding in me about much of anything anymore, like he wanted to see all sorts of other people at least as much as he wanted to see me.  I didn’t feel special to him anymore, like I had to fight for his attention, which probably fed into his narcissism even more.

Who will they hurt next?  Where can I find peace of mind?

Mutual friends, face the truth, or you’ll be next.  Richard and Tracy are both unstable people, and without me around, they need a new target.  Face the truth, try to get them to face the truth, do something!

I’m sick of being afraid to run into them at church or on the street, for fear of what they’ll do.  If Richard doesn’t take his conviction seriously, if he keeps complaining about police states and the police and how we need to defend our own homes and get rid of the police and fight CPS–one day, he’s going to be the one shooting his wife or killing one of his kids.

Or Tracy will be the one killing him, because she’s violent, too.

Or at the very least, those kids are going to be so screwed up.

I don’t want to see that happen, but I’m so afraid that with the light sentence for the choking incident (one year probation), they’ll somehow fall through the cracks and the dysfunction will continue.

After all this time, I still worry like a mother hen over what will happen to Richard, what will happen to the children.  And now that he can no longer be a priest, and any political aspirations are no longer possible because of his criminal record–what will he go after next?  Will he be like Elmer Gantry and just move on to the next thing?

How can I fill that narc-shaped hole?

I feel like a shell of my former self.  Yet another sign that I’ve been targeted by narcissists.  That and the persistent feeling that I’m missing something, that Richard has to bring it back to me before I can be complete again.

It doesn’t help that he was the one I went to about religion.  He’s the one I found to help light my way when I was searching for the True Church, the original doctrines.

We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches.  We could sympathize with each other about having to go through happy-clappy modern services.

We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge; I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them; I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.

I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things; most people at church seem more interested in church functions and light conversation than with theology, and while I can discuss them with my priest, it’s not the same as discussing it for hours on the phone with a friend.

Richard was the one I always wrote to with details of church meetings or services which had been especially interesting.  Who else can I write these things to?  He and I went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy.  And he and I also had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres.

No other friend matches this.  It just seems impossible to replace him, even with his disagreeable violence and narcissism.  These were elements of our friendship which I found especially valuable and important, especially appealing, and these were the reasons I was so attached to him.

Where else am I to find someone like this?  I try to remind myself of all the violence, the narcissism, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else.

And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.  That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to us.

But that saintly version of the narc is not real

Except that this perfect friend, the image I had of this person, which was molded over the two years of online/phone friendship and the two months he alone stayed with us, diverges so much from the way he acted, and the things which came out about him, and the way he treated me, over the two years after that, that I wonder how much of this image was real, and how much was a carefully crafted persona used to attract me.

The image I had in 2007, was not the kind of person to joke about “sexing” his wife’s friends, or plan to kill a landlady, or laugh about helping the Mafia in his younger years, or defend the abusive behaviors of a wife, or be abusive himself even of little children, choking one and then acting contemptuous of the cops who charged him with it.

The image was not the kind of person who betrays friends, pushes them into questionable behavior, bullies them, or threatens them with violence.

The image was not the kind of person who puts politics and conspiracy theories higher than friends, or above the peace and serenity found in religion.

Yet that’s what he turned out to be.

Just as my ex Peter–so I was told a few years later by two guys who didn’t realize I had dated him–tailored his personality to fit the girl he was trying to attract.

Just as my ex Phil wove a web of deception which made me think he acted out his dreams, that his “subconscious” was coming out during sleep to talk with me.

Just as Richard himself once pretended to a girl that he believed in her religion, just so he could get into her pants.

Was any of it for real?  The Richard I knew in 2007 would never have choked his own child.  Yet there it is, plain as day, something he truly did.

My mind has been like the robots on the Harry Mudd episode of Star Trek, going in an endless loop between the truth and what I thought was the truth, until it finally blows up.

Before, I wondered why he stayed with Tracy, since she is so evil; now I also wonder why she stays with him after he nearly killed her child.

He was my idol with feet of clay, the saint who turned out to be a sinner.  And I’m left with this gaping hole in my life and heart where my idol, my perfect friend, once stood, with no clue how to fill it up again.  Nobody can help me because the friendship I had was so rare, so hard to find again.

And I don’t even know if he misses me or regrets what happened, if he only keeps away because he’s afraid of my husband’s anger (he must know I’d tell my husband what really happened), or afraid of Tracy beating him up if he talks to me.

Or if he’s the kind of narcissist who doesn’t care once a used-up supply is gone.  If he moved on from religion to politics and no longer wants friends who disagree with his views on, say, unions or Obama.

I hope he’s not so far on the narcissistic spectrum as to have the full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Then there’d be no hope for him at all.

Alice was unable to persuade either her mother or husband to seek proper diagnosis. But while Romero-Urcelay and Vaknin caution against self-diagnosis, Alice is extremely intelligent, and has spent many years researching her ordeal.

“It’s a huge comfort to know it’s NPD,” she says. “You realise it’s not you that’s the problem. It’s like being reborn” When Narcissism Becomes Pathological.

[Update 7/20/12:]

There may be minimal value in trying to explain their behavior to an abuser’s allies who’ve never seen it–and who wouldn’t believe it anyway. However, there is no reason to hide it either when the subject arises.

But be prepared when you do this because as I mentioned, abusers typically have an entire small city of allies (friends, coworkers, neighbors, church members, etc. who they show their pretentiously wonderful “public” persona to – and those people will never believe he’d ever do or say the nasty things he does to you (and only you).

If you try to tell them, then you may just look bad in their eyes and in their own ignorance, they’ll stick up for Dr. Jekyll because they think he’s so “wonderful” and nice. And he is nice, to THEM. Remember they only see his “nice” side – his “outside” self. Only you see Mr. Hyde – his “inside” self.

You may just end up hurting your own reputation trying to convince his allies he’s abusive. They may think you are the “crazy” one. So don’t try to convince them. Just calmly and flatly state that he’s an abuser or alcoholic or whatever the problem is, and leave it at that.” –Olivia, http://myemotionalvampire.blogspot.com/2012/07/un-masking-abuser.html

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s Mailbox, Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again, and Needing to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers.

 

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Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard’s Conviction (Child Abuse Charges)

First, the local newspaper reported Richard’s summons on their website’s weekly court cases.

Every week (except for the week Richard was convicted, naturally), they post mug shots and details of selected court cases in the county.

The week of 3/4/11, there was his mug shot for all to see, and what he did, along with his confession.  There was no mistaking that was Richard.

But the week of his plea/sentencing hearing, they posted nothing.  So I had to get details from the state’s court website.  Finally, today, 11/11/11, the newspaper printed in the “Day in Court” section:

Richard —-, [address], one year probation, [fine], battery.

It’s heartening to see that his sentence was actually worse than similar convictions in that section.  The person below him got battery (domestic abuse, repeater) and disorderly conduct (domestic abuse), and two years probation, but a much smaller fine.

Another person was charged with battery and also paid a smaller fine, no probation or jail.

Another person got battery (domestic abuse), one year probation, and a much smaller fine.

Apparently, the local courts are trying to keep people out of jail, getting money from fees rather than paying money for their room and board in prison.

When I look at his mug shot, I try to identify his demeanor: Angry at his daughter for turning him in?  Angry at the police?   Sheepish?  I just can’t figure it out.

I can pick up many body language cues these days, but nuances still can elude me.  Sometimes I think he looks upset with himself for getting himself into this mess, and hope that means he’s willing to change.

But lately, when I look at it, I think he looks angry.  My husband agrees.

And that disturbs me, because why should he be angry if he’s truly sorry for what he did?  Why did he plead no contest instead of guilty, even though the newspaper website stated that he did confess after his daughter reported him?  Is he or is he not taking responsibility for his actions?

My husband thinks he’s angry because he doesn’t think the government should be telling him how to raise his kids.  I wonder why it took five months for the police to charge him, when his daughter reported him the next day.

But she was a brave little girl, doing what so many abused children do not do, whether because they’re brainwashed into thinking their parents are just disciplining them and they deserve it, or because they’re too scared to report their parents and enrage them further.

But there you go.  The public knows thanks to the newspaper.  (No, “Richard” is not his real name.)  And because the public knows, he must know that Hubby and I know, and I hope the thought shames him.

I thought he was cool.  I thought he was awesome.  I thought he was gentle, godly and pious.  I thought he was fun to be around, and would never hurt his own children, other than one time when they were little.

But now everybody knows the truth.  How was I so fooled?

We are not to blame.  His wife is most likely borderline personality disordered/malignant narcissist, making all her opinions of me worthless. 

(Borderline is described by NAMI as a serious mental illness, her mother has it, and she was abused herself as a child, making her higher-risk for developing it.)

[Update 5/10/14: I have since learned of a borderline spectrum.  She is more likely to be high-functioning borderline, which is more under control but less likely to recognize one’s own emotional instability–and also more likely to be narcissistic as well.]

Besides her behavior which matches everything I read about borderline, I witnessed her hanging half her body out of their van as Richard drove along the street, very dangerous behavior which I’m told is common with borderlines.  One of the traits of BPD is impulsive and reckless behavior, and this may also be considered suicidal or self-harming behavior, another trait.

Richard, as well, could be personality disordered/narcissistic, especially from living with someone with BPD traits. 

Nobody who was not disordered in some way, would betray and threaten friends who had been extremely kind to him, or choke a child within an inch of her life.

My mind is still reeling from the juxtaposition of what I thought he was and what he’s been proven to be.

(Update 11/13/11):
Another look at the case on the state’s free public database, reveals a page I wasn’t aware of before:

I figured Social Services (or CPS) was involved, because they work together with law enforcement on child abuse cases.

But there on that page was proof that Social Services is indeed involved here, that they set rules which the court ordered to be obeyed as conditions for Richard’s bond:

28
03-01-2011
Signature bond set
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1
Event Party
Amount
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1Richard…
[I redacted]
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1
Additional Text:
Fighting the Darkness: Newspaper Blurb: Richard's Conviction (Child Abuse Charges) 1
Follow rules of informal agreement of DSS. Fingerprints and photo.

[Update 2/2/15: DSS is an acronym for “Department of Social Services”: See here, where “DSS” is used in the address and e-mail address for the department, which includes protection of children

The use of an “informal agreement” for a case that has been charged in court is confusing, because the description here is,

If the case is handled informally an Informal Agreement is signed outlining rules of supervision and appropriate services for the family.   This signed contract means that the case does not go to court and is in effect for six months.

The family may or may not continue to work with the Dept. of Social Services beyond the initial six months depending on whether or not the informal agreement was satisfactorily met.

But the above does not fit the actual court case AT ALL.  First of all, contrary to the above description, it DID go to court.

If the court has made following the agreement a condition of bail, and a criminal charge has now been made, it no longer fits the above description.  It sounds more like Court-Ordered Supervision. 

Since it took more than four months for the charges to be filed, I wonder if they made an informal agreement but broke it–then got charged and forced to follow it.  I also suspect the rules of probation, which were not stipulated online, were to follow this agreement.

Also, the charges were formally made on the same day I sent a letter to Social Services describing Richard’s own abuses: He told me he put the kids in the closet and smacks them on the head.  I often wonder if the results of the investigation into that letter, were used in the court case, which took seven months from initial appearance to conviction.]

So they’re working with the family, and Social Services also has a letter I wrote (completely separate from this case, which I did not know about at the time), so they know what I know.

So I do hope that in time, conditions will turn around in this family, that Richard and Tracy will learn how to control their anger and stop the abuse, and some sort of friendship will be possible between us again–though only if the past can be dropped and I can be allowed to be myself.

Because I want to be back in the lives of the precious little children whom I felt led to protect with that letter to Social Services. 

Because I hate having enemies, especially ones who were once friends.

It helps that I have not used their real names, and that I did not publicly shame them.  That Richard did it himself–and now his name is in the paper as convicted of battery, and on the newspaper’s website and the online database as a child abuser. 

He screwed up his own life and dreams.

According to my priest, he’ll never be ordained now that he has this on his record.

Any political aspirations would be cut short as soon as the media dug it up, and any potential employers can Google his name and find his online case file on the very first page. [2/2/15: I’m told that employers are allowed to refuse to hire someone with abuse on their record, if it would affect the job.]

He has no one to blame for his public shame but himself.

(Update 11/15/11):
Until October, I hadn’t cried over this for many, many months.  But the depression is back.  The sadness keeps weighing me down like a lead blanket.

Seeing his name in the newspaper court records on Friday, has put me into a funk again.

I can’t help crying at what he’s done, how many people he’s hurt: his former friend Todd, his little girl, Hubby, me, numerous people in his past.

The proof is there–I need no more evidence–that he has done a horrible thing, been convicted of it.

It’s no dream, no fantasy I dreamed up.

He did such a bad thing that Social Services was involved before they even got my letter, giving him rules that the court ordered him to follow.

This guy was my friend.  I thought he was such a pious, gentle, harmless person, who loves his little children dearly and wants to protect them, who would never harm me, either.

I went to him with spiritual and religious questions, as a fellow searcher who had already found his path.  He guided me every step of the way until I found my way into Orthodoxy, helped keep me there even when the fundamentalist converts on the Net made me waver.

He even offered to be my godfather if I decided to be chrismated (made Orthodox).  (I said no because he was a man my age, so it would be too weird.)

He had a similar religious background to mine, so we both had dealt with many of the same things in our old churches.  I saw him as my spiritual mentor.

Now I see someone I’m afraid of, whom I once loved as my best friend.

Someone who nearly killed his daughter, someone who went along with his wife’s abuse of me and began bullying me as well to save his own skin.

Someone whose circumstances I kept crying over and trying to help with, only to be tossed away like an annoyance for some petty thing.

Things like this don’t just go away overnight; you don’t just forget them.

Breakups with boyfriends in college and the funk they put me into, seem like nothing compared to the betrayal and loss of someone I considered my best friend forever, someone who had my back, only to turn around and stab me in it.

I still keep hoping that one day–especially if Social Services succeeds in helping him turn his life around, counsels him on anger management and parenting and such–that he will come to us and repent of what he’s done to us. 

Because despite everything, despite my anger and disappointment with him, despite how I feel about his politics and his opinions on NVLD, a part of me still wants my friend back.

(Update 11/26/11):
Another examination of the mug shot, along with some googling for how to identify facial expressions, reveals a more disturbing interpretation: not just anger, but also contempt.

The rest of his face looks angry, and one corner of his mouth curves down–but one corner of his mouth curves slightly upwards, causing just enough wrinkling to look like the beginning of a smile.  In other words, a sneer.

The other basic emotions all have basic facial symmetry, but contempt shows on only one side of the face.  And while both his eyebrows curve downward in the middle, one side of his face definitely looks different from the other, and he’s looking down.

Everything I read says this is a classic contempt expression.

Contempt?  Contempt for whom?  You’ve just been summoned to court for nearly killing your daughter, and your face shows both anger and contempt?

“A feeling of condescension towards another person, or a feeling of moral superiority is the root of the emotion of contempt” –(http://www.facscodinggroup.com/universal-expressions).

 

“Guilt, shame, and contempt are each based on meeting expectations: Guilt: I did not meet your moral standards and expectations, Shame: I did not meet my own standards of behavior, and Contempt: you did not meet my moral standards and expectations” —(http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/contempt.htm).

This is extremely disturbing!  If he were angry at himself, his face would show shame, not contempt.  Contempt means he’s angry at somebody else–but he’s the one who did the terrible deed!  Who is he angry at?  Who did not meet his moral standards and expectations?

Researching “contempt” also brings to mind Tracy’s claims of feeling snubbed.  Well, if she felt snubbed or like I felt contempt because I was reacting to her many acts of abuse of Richard and/or the children while I was right there–well, it’s her own fault!

If you verbally or physically abuse somebody right in front of me, what other expression (other than surprise or fear or being appalled) could I rightfully assume, in all justice toward the victim of bullying and abuse?

(Update 12/4/11):
It’s also baffling to see things turn out like this.  In the beginning, Richard seemed like a good guy, a decent sort, gentle and god-fearing.  He would get excited about theological points and articles just as I would, so we could talk about these and search out what Orthodoxy says about such topics as literal interpretation, End Times, original sin, and universalism.  He was happy to read an article I lent him on what an Orthodox writer says about the salvation of all.

There is a part of him that desires the truth and could still lead to his salvation.  But somewhere along the way, he got lost in all this violence.

I pray that he finds his way back Home again.  Not just for his salvation, but because I miss the friend who once was.

Not what he turned into, which was a jerk, but the friend he was in 2005-2007, the one I told about my family crisis in 2007 even though I only knew him via phone and Internet, because we were that close and comfortable with each other.

But did that person ever really exist, or was it just the facet he showed me?

I pray for the social workers and probation officer, so that they can help this family stop the abuse and begin to heal.  Otherwise the misery could continue for years, because these beautiful, sweet, innocent children will most likely carry it on into their own relationships and families.

(Update 12/20/11):
In trying to find out what happened to a guy I went to school with, who still lives in my home state and is rumored to be in jail now, I discovered a multi-state inmate locator.  So what the heck, I checked it for my state.

Two things I found out: The guy I mentioned a few posts back, who annoyed my SCA shire in 1999 and ended up getting charged with photographing teenage girls a couple years ago?  His stayed sentence has been revoked, and he’s in jail now.  He has to register as a sex offender for many years to come.  LOL  Guy’s a sociopath.

Also, I found that Richard took five updated pictures in November for the state, which were posted on this site.  When he showed up at my church a week or two after the verdict, and showed some signs of repentance (for one, holding himself back from the Eucharist, which you do when you’ve committed some grave sin and need to do penance), I hoped he was sorry for what he did and working on it.  These new pictures were taken after that.

I had hoped to see some evidence of repentance and change in his pictures; all I found was more contempt.  More hatred being sent to the camera.  More “you are scum” being sent to the camera.

More of it than before, because now he has his head up and cocked to one side (all the easier to look down his nose at the picture-taker), his mouth is curled upwards more clearly on one side, and he’s looking up instead of down, so the look in his eyes is much clearer to see.  (Before, he was looking down, but his eyebrows were angry.)

Heck, I could swear it was my brother’s expression when he bullied me.

The old mug shot has more anger in the eyebrows; the new pictures have more raised eyebrows, making the contempt win out over the anger.

There are five pictures, not just one moment in time like the mug shot, so you can see it’s not just a posed half-smile; all three of the front-facing pictures have the same expression.  It’s a scary look.

I spent so much time with him and got so comfortable with him that I could hold eye contact and pay far more attention than I normally do to people’s body language; I felt I could read him extremely well at times; I don’t recall ever seeing a look like this on his face.

I saw joy, sadness,  religious devotion, humor, annoyance at his children, happiness to see good friends, playfulness, or anger with his wife, even anger at me once, but I never saw him look like this.

And I see it very clearly in these new pictures.  I see that side of him that I never could quite believe in before, that violent side.

Hubby says he looks like the cat who swallowed the canary, like he got away with something.

I see that my suspicions of narcissism–as much as I hoped I was wrong about that–are confirmed.

[Update 7/16/13: To see what I mean, see this post.  I found a picture of George Zimmerman which matches Richard’s expression.]

I had hoped for better than that.  I had thought he was better than that.  What the heck has happened to him?  Yuck.

Somehow I have to stop wishing he’d call me up and say he’s sorry, say he wants to make things right.

Lately, I’ve been missing him and wishing that would happen.  Well, I don’t know if I can ever stop wishing for that; I’ve had bullies and exes do that, so why couldn’t it happen here, too?  Even my abusive ex *Phil* apologized to me.  I know Richard has made peace with people in his past before.

But to long for it, wish for things to be the way they were in October/November 2007–somehow I have to let go of that.

It does help to keep looking at these court records and pictures, because the contempt I see in them is disgusting.  I do it again and again to try to drive the longing for reconciliation out of my heart.

What he did was disgusting.  But still that part of me keeps hoping for change…..

But I am so frickin’ GLAD I sent that letter to Social Services in March. 

I am so glad I told them he talked about putting the kids in the closet. 

I’m glad I told them he might strike Tracy one of these days if she hits his face. 

I’m glad I told them about the crap Tracy was pulling. 

And I hope that the probation officer sees (or probably took) those pictures, sees the contempt in his face, and either makes him do the full sentence, or asks to have the stayed sentence revoked so he can go to jail for ten days.  [Update 2/2/15: Richard served the full probation sentence.]

(Update 3/12/12:) After reading what the District Attorney said about my former boss, that he gave him a deferred prosecution agreement so he could have more control over my former boss than “if he had just pled to the felonies,” such as anger management, medication, etc.–I wonder if it was the same thing here.

Did the plea agreement result in probation so the District Attorney could have more control over Richard, get him into counseling and the like, make sure he followed the agreement with Social Services?  I do hope so.

(My boss went ballistic when his wife wanted to leave him.  It seems he’d been physically abusing her.  He drove the red pickup truck I remembered, into the kitchen and did lots of damage to the side of the house; he resisted arrest; he caused damage when the police hauled him in.)

One of the most fascinating aspects of Zimmerman’s latest incident was that he himself called the police to counter his girlfriend’s call, and offered another dispatcher a separate set of facts. He said that the girlfriend had “gone crazy” and had broken a table in the apartment.

“I just want everyone to know the truth,” he tells the dispatcher. “She got mad that I told her I would be willing to leave.”

There’s no telling what exactly happened before their respective calls to police. But, if Zimmerman’s girlfriend is telling the truth, then his effort to turn the tables and make his girlfriend sound guilty is again a classic case of something domestic violence prevention advocates call “minimization, denial and blaming,” which is when abusers make the victim feel as though they are responsible for the abuse, or crazy for thinking any abuse occurred at all. –Annie-Rose Strasser, What George Zimmerman’s story can teach us about domestic abusers

 

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Fighting the Darkness: Stockholm Syndrome?

Part of my trouble dealing with this issue is wondering how my best friend could turn on me like Richard did.

Stockholm Syndrome can explain it.  From a blog by Jennifer Kesler about the Hillary Adams video:

If you’re wondering how a woman could get to the point of helping her husband beat their child, you need to understand this: when you’re living with someone who gets that violent anytime anyone stands up to him, you don’t stand up to him.

You either become very passive, or you become his collaborator in hopes of mitigating the damage. That’s what we’re seeing here – a mitigating collaborator.

The mother calmly agrees with every argument the judge makes, because arguing with him would only escalate his temper. She takes over the beating not because she enjoys it – that’s clear from her demeanor – but because she’s hoping it will lessen his anger and protect Hilary from his more painful lashes.

Several times she says “That’s en…” and stops herself because that constitutes standing up to him. As hard as it is to stomach, this is clearly a woman doing the best she can under circumstances that are as FUBAR as any war situation. —Hillary Adams: child abuse on film

There’s also the FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) in which spouses of abusers are often kept.  Richard’s betrayal of me, even his intimidation of my husband for sticking up for me, could be seen as all part of trying to pacify his raging wife.

So I do hope that one day, he’ll come out of that FOG and realize just what he did, and come to us to make amends.  But there would still be the separate issues of threatening my husband several days earlier, which had nothing to do with Tracy, and nearly killing his daughter.

Hubby and I don’t know what we’ll do if he does come to us trying to make amends.  We decided we would just play it by ear.

There has been no church for a couple of weeks as my priest has been on vacation, so there have been no more surprises, no anxieties.  But this weekend, church starts up again, and as I do every time I go to church, I’ll be checking the parking lot for Richard and Tracy’s vehicle.

The initial shock, dismay and sadness stirred by seeing Richard again, has dissipated, and once again I feel anger at him for his abusive behaviors.  I want him far from me; I feel calmer.

I want to fight for the end of abuse of all kinds, of child abuse, of domestic violence; I read articles on people who did far less to their kids, but still ended up with jail time, or five years probation, and wonder, Why isn’t Richard in jail???!!!

I don’t want him to show up again like he did a couple of weeks ago and put me back in that dark place of depression and missing him.  I don’t want to miss him.

I want to remember him as a narcissist, Svengali and child abuser who duped me into believing all sorts of things that weren’t true, not as my BFF and spiritual mentor.

Seeing him brings it all back again and rips open the wound.  And if he had any sensitivity at all, he’d realize this.

The simple fact of the matter is, vaguely saying he blames himself for everything does not count as an apology for his violence or his betrayal, especially since right after he said this, he blamed me for Tracy’s verbal abuse, and lied to me, twice.

There are many who say that forgiveness is for when the offender asks for it.  When has he ever asked for it?  When has Tracy ever asked for it?  If they do not seek forgiveness from me, then I want them out of my life completely, leaving me in peace.

It is often easier for outsiders to see what’s going on because they’re not caught in the disorienting and invalidating mists of an emotional FOG.

To a mom, dad, sister, brother or best friend, it can be as clear as day, but when you have your mouth wrapped around the exhaust pipe of the Crazy Fogger 3000 night and day, it’s no wonder you can’t see the forest for the trees.

For anyone who’s ever walked or driven in atmospheric fogs, you know that being in a fog can play perceptual tricks on you. –Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, More Thoughts on FOG, Hoovers and No Contact When Ending a Relationship with a Narcissist, Borderline, Histrionic and/or Sociopath

The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended.

In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed “all their eggs in one basket”. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence.

The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive.

At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual. From “Love and Stockholm Syndrome” by Dr. Joseph M. Carver, PhD

 

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Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again

Some people may not understand why it’s so hard for me to see my bully and her accomplice (Tracy and Richard) at church or at Greekfest.  They may think it’s just something I have to get over.

Well, maybe those people have never been bullied or abused.

Every time I see them, several emotions swirl around in my head: fear, dread, missing Richard despite everything, anger.

Anyone who’s been friends with, married to, or related to a narcissist or abuser can relate to this, can understand feeling regret at losing them despite all the hurt they’ve caused, can understand still hoping that the abuser will repent for what they did, change, and be the friend/spouse/parent the abused has always wanted.

It’s a knife to my heart to see Richard at church, start hoping that he will come over and apologize for being Tracy’s accomplice and for his own sins against my husband and me–then he leaves without saying anything, as if he still believes I’m the one with the problem, as if he still thinks verbal violence and physical threats are perfectly valid ways of dealing with problems.

It also feels like intimidation.  Tracy acts all happy and goes up to the Eucharist as if she has no need to go to that Christian sister who has something against her and try to resolve it before putting her gift on the altar.

Throughout this whole thing, she acted as if she had the moral high ground and I was just the little stubborn jerk who wouldn’t do what she wanted.

It burns to see her act this way, to know that she thinks she did nothing wrong and I’m the one with the problem.  It’s like she’s rubbing it in my face; they ignore me completely, and when Tracy is there the children are kept close.

Only when Richard was there by himself did the children say anything to me.  In fact, while in the parking lot one time, my husband overheard the eldest child calling out his name, then Tracy scolding her for something.

It reminds me of my ex Phil, who is described in previous posts.  Even though he hated my friends (just as Tracy hated my church), after the breakup, Phil kept coming over and sitting at my lunch or dinner table, supposedly to be with his new girlfriend.  They’d get all lovey-dovey, and it made me sick.

It felt distinctly like he was trying to control me even after the breakup, by rubbing his new girlfriend in my face and not even letting me eat my meals in peace and surrounded by the love of my friends.  And after all the crap he put me through, he would say hi to me in the halls and act surprised that I said nothing, wanted nothing to do with him.

It also reminds me of a guy, back in 1999, who ticked off half the SCA shire by refusing to make the changes we requested on the shire’s new website, then accusing us of religious persecution for wanting to keep religion off our non-religious site.

Since Hubby was the chairman (seneschal) of the group at the time, he was in the middle of this and got most of the guy’s ire.  We made somebody else our web minister, and this guy soon vanished from our shire, though I see from a local web forum that he has made lots of enemies around the area since he left us.

He also would threaten to send people viruses, and is most likely the guy who e-mailbombed Hubby and me with 100 messages saying “karma,” since this was one of his favorite words.

According to online court records, he’s also been jailed more than once.  So he’s probably a sociopath.

Yet after all this, in 1999, just a few months after the website brouhaha, he came to our shire’s annual camping event, brandishing a sharp sword without a sheath.  He made no trouble, but was obviously silently daring us to confront him, daring Hubby (who was tending admission) to tell him to put away the sword.

So excuse me for not seeing Richard or Tracy’s presence at my church or Greekfest as being anything less than control and intimidation, when they know I’m going to be there.  You see I’ve dealt with narcissists, abusers and sociopaths in the past, and have seen them operate.

At the very least, I wonder if Richard and Tracy are trying to force a confrontation or are just extremely insensitive.  I don’t go to their church or any of their church’s functions, to keep boundaries between us, because I don’t want to see or be around them and am aware that my presence at their church would be seen as unusual and confrontational.

I’m not some drama queen to cause a scene, but I don’t expect such consideration from Tracy.

I’m amazed that Richard showed up at my church after being convicted, as if trusting that I won’t tell anyone there what he did.  I haven’t and don’t plan to, but it’s just as baffling as Tracy’s abusing Richard and the kids in front of me and Richard telling me he put them in the closet once.

In fact, I still can’t stand to see Phil’s friend from back then, his accomplice in trying to get me away from my friends, as described in earlier posts. I still cringe if I see his name in the newspaper or on Facebook, and especially when I see him friending my friends.

And that was 17 years ago! So why would I want to see Richard, even though he was mostly Tracy’s accomplice, rather than bullying me directly?

There’s fear, because I now know what Richard is capable of, that he nearly killed his own daughter.  I know that Tracy punches Richard, and that she almost killed me once, only holding herself back because she still needed my roof over her head.  So why wouldn’t I feel fear and dread to see them?

I know what Tracy posted on her Facebook wall the day of the breakup, I know the bad things Richard told me about his former friend Todd even though he wasn’t the one who started the argument with Tracy, and one mutual friend inexplicably vanished from my Facebook and life one day; why should I not wonder if they want to spread rumors at my church?

I tried apologizing for my own part in things, but it got nothing but more blaming and scolding and no mirrored apologies, no recanting of their own bad behavior.

And honestly, all I actually did was write a badly-worded e-mail, into which Tracy read subtext which was not there (things which I did not even hint at, so I don’t know where she got them from)–and be a shy, quiet person who preferred not to get close to my bully, but was still pleasant and kind to her as Richard’s wife.

I did absolutely nothing to intentionally offend or hurt her, even though for more than two years she kept pushing and pushing and bullying me so hard that I had to fight to not express my anger at her.

When I did try to say I was being mistreated, she bullied harder, treated me like a horrible person for not thinking she was wonderful.  All my complaints were further “reasons” for her to abuse and to put restrictions on me.  I could not stand her controlling ways.

She misinterpreted everything I did in the worst possible way.  There were things I did which among my circles of friends, are quite normal and acceptable, things which Richard actually got me doing and which to him were quite normal and acceptable, things which to my husband were quite normal and acceptable.

But to Tracy they were egregious sins which must be recounted again and again, even long after I had stopped doing them out of deference to her.

(Though, of course, I was told that their other friends were allowed to do those very things.)

And it was never entirely clear what was and was not acceptable to her, because the rules were constantly changing, one thing okay one day but not the next, or okay if Richard did it but not if I did, or okay if she did it but not if I did.

And there were rules which were absolutely ridiculous.

And frankly, I’m sick and tired of her ever-changing and draconian rules, and refuse to go back to a “friendship” which requires any of them.  If I can’t be myself, then screw it.  If I can’t be friends with Richard without being forced to be friends with her, then I’ll take neither.

It is a huge relief to be among family, friends and church members who do not judge me for being quiet, who do not tell their husbands that I hate her and can’t be trusted with him because I blend into the furniture, who may make a little joke once in a while about my quietness but nothing nasty.

To be among friends who freely do the things that Tracy once wanted to kill me for.

To not get snarked at or criticized for every little thing I do or say, not just by Tracy but by Richard.

To be myself, without being accused again and again of disrespecting her or snubbing her.

To relax and not worry about two people–one my best friend–ganging up on me because of my selective mutism/NVLD/Asperger’s/extreme introversion/whatever it is.  I can’t help the way my brain works, and I don’t want to; I just want to be accepted as I am, same as anybody else.

To have these two people just waltz back into my church and then back out again as if they’ve done nothing wrong and I deserve nothing but to be ignored–disrupts my life, disrupts the gradual loosening of tension that I’ve been feeling by being around decent people again.  I go to coffee hour to relax with my church family and work on understanding Greek, but if I see Richard and/or Tracy I feel tense, nervous, shaky.

Tracy made it very clear in August 2010 that I could contact them again–when I stopped being upset about her rage episode.  She implied that I deserved all her nastiness, yelling, screaming, cussing, ridiculing, blaming, humiliating, demeaning, etc. etc. of me, and that I had to accept that as well before I could contact her.

But how am I to stop being upset if she never says she’s sorry for it? if she just keeps justifying it?  If she thinks I ever will accept what she did, then she’s going to be waiting until Doomsday to ever hear from me again, because she never did manage to break my spirit, no matter how hard she tried.

Even if she got down on her knees and begged me to forgive her, I might forgive her, but I wouldn’t take her back again.  She treated Richard’s friend Todd just as badly, if not worse, and he wants nothing to do with her, either.

Just like every other abuser, she called this acceptance and not feeling hurt by her bullying and verbal abuse “growing up.”  She has an amazingly skewed concept of what it means to be a grown up.

What she calls “growing up” is actually bowing down to your abuser, letting them break your spirit, giving your power over to them, and then opening yourself up to be abused over and over again.

She has no concept of what it really means to be “grown up.”  Or what it means to be a Christian.  I believe she has some kind of Cluster B personality disorder to think this way, just as every abuser must have to be able to abuse the ones they claim to love.

Sam Vaknin has equated Lundy Bancroft’s profile of the typical abuser with a malignant narcissist.  For me, Tracy is the verbal equivalent of Judge Adams, who belted and verbally abused his daughter in a now-infamous video.

And just like Judge Adams, who even after public outcry still blamed his daughter and defended how he treated her, Tracy refuses to see that this is abuse, that her deeds are evil, but instead continues to blame the victim and treat all her victims like they need to “grow up” when they finally run away from her.

Criminals and abusers are alike in this strange, deluded self-justification of their actions, this strange blaming of the victim.

The DSM IV-TR, the bible of mental health disorders, does not regard abusive behaviours as one of the criteria of NPD. It does, however, mention the precursors of abuse: exploitativeness, an exaggerated sense of entitlement and, above all, a lack of empathy.

So, I think it is safe to say that abuse does characterise the behaviour of narcissists. —Sam Vaknin

If you’re feeling as if you’re “walking on eggshells” around someone all the time, you’re probably dealing with a (narcissistic) abuser.

As the title of this post posits – I am not sure the term “narcissistic abuser” isn’t redundant as most abusers seem to have a very pronounced  narcissistic streak in their personalities – whether they are diagnosed narcissists, or not. —The Narcissistic Abuser: Is That Redundant?

Narcissist Is A Title Synonymous With The Label Of Abuser. —Description of interview with Sam Vaknin

Abusers and narcissists are almost synonymous. —Video on Dealing with Narcissists and Abusers

Healthy narcissism is at the core of the Self and malignant, pathological narcissism manifests itself in literally all known abusive, dangerous, and reckless behaviors: family violence, murder, genocide, addictions, corporate malfeasance, sexual abuse and paraphilias, incest, and more….

Strictly defined, a “narcissist” is someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Less than 1% of the general population are diagnosed narcissists, so your chances to come across one are 1:100.

But, as Theodore Millon observed correctly, there are many more people with narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, or a narcissistic personality who would not be diagnosed with NPD, but are still as deleterious and detrimental to their human environment as the “full-fledged” variety. —interview with Sam Vaknin

I know that I must learn to not take anything Tracy said personally, but reject it as the rantings of a Cluster B personality disordered person, because along with all the other things I’ve noted in these blogs, there are other things as well:

I witnessed something bizarre one day about a year ago.  This was either October 5 or December 7, 2010, according to the school calendar, several months after we broke off the friendship.  My son had a half-day, so I set off walking down the sidewalk past my house to fetch him around 11am, when who should I see driving past me on the street?

I had a clear view: They were facing me, so on my side of the street.  There are no trees in that area between the sidewalk and the street.  And no other cars were nearby.

I saw Richard driving that familiar minivan, and Tracy in the passenger seat.

Well, sort of in the seat: She was hanging half her body out the window

head, shoulders, upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist, turned with her shoulders pointing one above and one below, arms flailing, not holding on (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)

while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.

Obviously he was upset with her for hanging out the window.

I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me in those few seconds, since she was hanging out the window and facing me, with me just a few feet away from her.

I looked directly at them, rather than ignoring them as I usually do, because these few seconds were so unexpected.  If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman.  Did she try to yell at me?

What the heck was this about?  There was no explanation for why on earth she’d hang half out the window.  It was yet more bizarre behavior from this woman, and evidence that her behaviors toward me were from a Cluster B personality disorder, because I’m told Cluster Bs do things like this.

Other than on TV, I’ve never seen anybody else do anything like this in a moving vehicle.  The speed limit around there is 25mph, and in a van, the ground is farther down.

I’ve also been informed by mutual friend Todd that Richard said borderline and other personality disorders are indeed in Tracy’s immediate family.  So Todd believes she does indeed have at least one of these.

Todd also says that one day she’ll go off on you and get Richard to help and it’s all over, that Richard has lost other friends because of her.  I have this information in writing.  So this isn’t just my imagination, or just me.

Yet somehow she continues to stay out of jail, even though I know she has punched Richard on many occasions, and even though I saw her abuse her children and told Social Services about it.

Which, by the way, is another reason I feel nervous seeing these two people at my church, people who I’ve already witnessed being vindictive to other people in the past.

I took a huge risk reporting them, and wouldn’t have done it unless I felt justified, unless I felt those children were in grave danger both mentally and physically.  I feared that one day I would hear about Richard and Tracy on the 6:00 news.

Even if Richard assaulted me for it as he wanted to assault that lady two years ago, I would not regret reporting them.  His criminal conviction proves that my instincts were correct, especially since his daughter reported him long before.

And the audacity Tracy had to abuse the kids right in front of me, though of course she saved the worst of it for behind closed doors!  As if daring me to report her, and meanwhile she claimed the moral high ground when dealing with me.

More than one person had encouraged me in the previous year to report them to Social Services, but I was afraid to do it because Tracy and Richard are both physically scary.  I feared Tracy’s temper or that she would report me in retaliation; I feared that Richard would go goomba on me like he wanted to do to that lady in 2009 who got him so upset.

But then, in February 2011, I saw The Boondock Saints for the second time.  In the beginning we hear a sermon about evil triumphing because good men do nothing about it.

So I began writing an account of what I had witnessed, e-mailed it to an old friend who is in the social work field, and she told me: My concerns are very valid, Richard and Tracy both sound very abusive, she grew up in a similar environment and her family is still dealing with the consequences, so PLEASE report them–do it for Richard’s sake.

So I sent the letter to Social Services, and later confirmed with them that they received it.

I expected only that–if my report was even taken seriously–it would lead to the Department of Social Services (DSS) providing them with various services and helps.  First I checked the state’s public access website to see if either he or Tracy had been charged with domestic violence in the past few years, but nothing was there (though if I’d checked a few days later, it would’ve all been there).

Then, as I stated in the last paragraph, I checked with my friend who’s involved in social work in this state, to see if the things I witnessed, qualified as child abuse under state law.  She urged me to please report them, to help the children and to help Richard.

I filed the report with DSS, not with the police department, because I wanted them to get services, not to be charged with a crime.  I didn’t expect the children to even be removed from the home.

I expected they would work out a long-term plan, in accordance with DSS procedures, with anger management counseling, parenting courses, and various other services that would help them to stop the abuse and become a healthy, happy family.

I figured that if they knew what was in the report, they would know who made it.  But I saw a documentary on Youtube in which one couple said they’d been reported for abusing their children, and a year later, they were very grateful for that report, because they were now much better parents and spouses.

I hoped that this would be the same thing with Richard and Tracy, that in time they would forgive me because they knew I did the right thing, that they would realize it led to their family becoming healthy and happy, and that they would reach out to Jeff and me in friendship, forgiveness and repentance.

Also, when I made the report, it was Tracy who I saw as the principal abuser, with Richard being primarily the victim and the one who was trying desperately to keep her from harming the children as well.

No, this was NOT about vengeance, no matter how angry I was with them.  If it were about vengeance, I would have called CPS immediately after Tracy’s verbal abuse of me on 7/1/10, very easily and gladly, not waited many months after a great deal of reflection and soul-searching over whether it was the right thing to do.

In fact, a pastor friend who had done social work, told me during the weekend following 7/1/10 that I needed to report them for the sake of the children, but I said, “I don’t want to be vindictive.”  He had told me, Don’t let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right for those children!

I was bullied by one of my brothers for all of my childhood, and he still is a bully–even my mom says so, says he bullies my dad.  When he was about 18 or 19 and I was about 11 or 12, he was a Marine MP, and while home on leave, was getting ready to go on a date.

This was unusual, and I was excited, but didn’t know how to express it.  So like any little kid, I sang out, “— has a daaate!”

My brother’s hands flew around my neck as I sat in a chair, and he said while pressing, “I’ve been trained to kill.”  He let go before I passed out, but it was terrifying.

I was just a bit older than the daughter Richard choked, but Richard is much taller and larger than my brother was at the time.  I feel for that girl, knowing what it’s like to not know if you’re going to die because somebody is choking you.

If Richard and Tracy are just going to let things go for so long and let them fester,

if they’re not going to act like grown-ups who actually care about somebody outside themselves and apologize for the nasty things they did,

if Richard won’t man up enough to put my mind at ease and apologize for betraying me and threatening Hubby,

if they’re going to profess Christianity but act worse than godless heathens,

then I don’t want them going anywhere near me that they can avoid.

The occasional encounter at the store or the fair can be expected, but they can choose not to go where they know I’ll be.  They do have other options.

And this after all that we did for them and gave them, from money and food to baby supplies, free babysitting and taxi service, and all the things we put up with for their sakes, treating them like family, expecting nothing in return but friendship and kindness, but we didn’t even get that.

We feel used, manipulated.  Every time he sees Richard, Hubby wants to knock him out cold.

Nobody wants to see the person who bullied or abused or molested them, or the person who helped them do it.  Even years later, the sight of this person can bring it all back.  What I feel is perfectly normal, and I will not apologize for it.

Update 1/12/13:
A blog post and comments showing that my reaction is normal: Vanci’s Standing Ground (With Tired Feet)

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s MailboxNeeding to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers, and Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends.

 

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Fighting the Darkness: Healing can take a long time (Healing from abuse)

I thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.

A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.

They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby Jeff and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Jeff stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

(See here for reasons why I’d be scared of Richard: his huge size, his choking one of his kids, his past as a goomba, his almost physically assaulting a lady and saying he’d leave no trace that he was ever there, his threatening my husband with physical violence and saying he’s very easily triggered to it.

Also, he told me violent things about his past.  He said he’d been arrested more than a hundred times, but I have no idea for what, or if he was acquitted; it was before he lived in my state, which has a public-access website with details of court cases.

And his wife Tracy is also a very scary person, much larger than I am, violent physically and verbally.  Richard told me that once, in my house, she almost killed me over something, and I had no idea. 

I have no idea if he meant it literally or as hyperbole, but for months afterward, my mind kept going to that, imagining what it would have been like to feel her fists, wondering if Hubby or Richard would have pulled her off me in time, imagining Hubby calling the cops.  Just sitting and watching That 70s Show, one kid would hit another kid, and I’d flinch.

And yet I was expected to “befriend” her, be buddy-buddy with her, without so much as an “I’m sorry” from her, or else I was to “blame” for all the crap she threw at me.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.  The other one is 7, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Jeff also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.  All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Jeff and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”

But in my heart I just don’t believe that.  I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.  If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

And if you are Richard and somehow found my blog, please, PLEASE work on yourself and get rid of the violence.  For me, for Jeff, for yourself, for your children.  And then feel free to get in touch with us.  (It’s impossible to send any of these things directly to Richard because his wife is insanely jealous.)  But these are the things you must do and say:

1) Assure me that you are not going to go all goomba on me.

2) Apologize for the things that went on the final week of our friendship:

  • a) Threatening Jeff with verbal and physical violence for sticking up for me on 6/28/10.
  • b) Throwing me under the bus when Tracy went ballistic, rather than explaining to her the truth of what happened and what I meant by my e-mail.  Letting her go off on me.  Giving in to her so I was not even allowed to explain and exonerate myself.  You knew very well that I was referring to a sisterly/brotherly hug of gratitude, and that it had been your idea.
  • c) Getting into Hubby’s face and intimidating him for sticking up for me.

3) Apologize for, a month later, justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse of me, blaming me for it, then lying to me about why you hadn’t seen my e-mail and why you blocked us on Facebook.  Being so deceitful that I actually thought Tracy was going to finally apologize, when instead I was opened up to more verbal abuse and accusations from her.  Treating me like this was all my problem that I had to get over, rather than admitting that Tracy had been bullying me and getting you to do her dirty work.

4) Admit to your violent tendencies and demonstrate that you are working on them, that you will not threaten us again, will not choke your daughter again, will stop lecturing us on how to discipline children.  Take anger management courses, study the Philokalia and Ladder of Divine Ascent, take parenting classes.

As for Tracy–I don’t want to hear from or see you again.  Don’t come to my church.  Don’t call me on the phone no matter what you see my son doing.  Unless, of course, you’re ready to forgive me for being naturally shy and quiet, and acknowledge your own share in the problems, your own abusive behaviors.

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?

 

 

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