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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In later drafts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even later drafts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on this here.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

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

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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


In August 2008, I ponder ending the friendship, but discover Tracy has long since “approved” me

I discover the restrictions are still up after 7 months–and ponder ending the friendship

In late August, I thought all of the crap was long over with and Tracy was now fine with me, that surely she knew me well enough by now (after 9 months!) to relax all the restrictions.

From what I recall, at this point I don’t believe I knew that I was supposed to be good friends with her as well; I thought friendly acquaintances was enough.  In our interactions, I had done my best to forget the things she had done and kept doing, and be pleasant.

Jeff lost his job early that month due to downsizing.  Like a huge chunk of the local businesses, his employer depended on Mercury Marine, which suffered during the 2008 downturn.

Actually, Mercury had been suffering for a while, because they make recreational equipment (outboard motors, that sort of thing), the economy had been dragging for several years, and when that happens, people don’t buy boats.

So Mercury didn’t go to my husband’s company for parts for their equipment.  So his company suffered, mandated unpaid vacation time, and let people go, even this one whom they once called their “go-to guy.”

We were already living paycheck-to-paycheck; a lack of inflation-based raises over the past several years, debt that kept us in chains, and added hardship from paying for Richard and Tracy living with us, meant no savings whatsoever.

And unemployment paid only a fraction of what it took to run the house and pay our debts.  We relied on Jeff’s family just to keep out of bankruptcy.  And it was a couple of months before the big crash of the national economy, making this a horrible time to be out of work.

I was stressed out, trying to be strong for Jeff, so I naturally wanted a shoulder to cry on.  There was nobody close enough to me for this except Richard: I had no girlfriends in town to talk to.

Shortly before August 24, I asked Richard for some time to just sit and talk with him in the parking lot about my troubles, expecting that Tracy’s restrictions were long gone by now and we could do this.

So I was shocked to learn from him that all the restrictions were still up!  This is probably when I learned she wanted me to be buddy-buddy with her and have deep conversations with her.  All this time, I thought I just had to let her get to know me first.  Now there was more!

During our daily walks, I explained the situation to Jeff, since he’s my husband, so I naturally tell him everything that troubles me.  He grew furious and made remarks about how Tracy could take herself back to [their original state], etc. etc.

I wrote an e-mail to Richard on Sunday, August 24, 2008; this is a compilation of the drafts, not what the e-mail finally looked like, and shows how I worked with different ways to say the same thing:

I have to be honest with you: If it’s true that Tracy still won’t let us go somewhere and talk, just talking in a public place, maybe even just taking a walk, even when I really need to talk to my friend about difficult times, after all this time, then I have to say I’ve given up on trying to please her.

It sounds like other people have gotten her approval with far less.  She lived here under my roof for a month and a half; she knows all she needs to know.  If she doesn’t trust me now, she never will.

The more she resists my friendship with you, the more of a wall gets built up between us, and she won’t get this buddy-buddy friendship she seems to want.  We also just don’t have enough in common for that: Our personality types just don’t mesh well together.

After all we’ve done for her family, to be cut off from you feels insulting, unnecessary and ungrateful.

The primary reason why I get paranoid when you don’t call me back when promised, is that I fear what’s going on on the other end: Is she getting mad at you for the very thought of calling me back, no matter how urgent the matter?  Is that why we have to talk to each other when she’s at work?

I am the way I am, and she has to take it or leave it.  I don’t feel comfortable with this situation, and it’s depressing.  The last thing I want is to be forced to give you up because the wife doesn’t like me.  You’re one of my dearest friends, part of the “inner circle.”

It’s very hard for me to find friends as close as we’ve gotten, so when I find one, I try to hang on.  But most of my close friends are in other cities and our primary communication is by e-mail.

Here I finally had a close friend right here at home again.  I’ve missed that since [an old] crowd drifted away and the youth group was disbanded.  I want it to stay that way.

I don’t know why she doesn’t like me and is putting me through all this; I don’t buy the reasons given.  I want to be there for you for everything, and I want you to be allowed to be there for me.

feeling bullied….


I’ve been feeling heartsick, and after talking about it with Jeff, he’s just as upset.  I feel like I’m being bullied.

Tracy and I DID have good conversations in the beginning, while I was lying on the couch sick or we went to church while you were at work, and after living here for more than a month, she knows all she needs to know about me.

We were there for her when she was in a tough situation.  It sounds like others have been given free reign after far less.

I’ve been watching her kids and being nice and offering her free meals and supporting her and chatting with her occasionally, so I thought we were getting along now.

I thought she would be okay with you and I going somewhere to talk, especially while I’m going through tough times and need an outlet outside of this house.

I’m Melanie, not Scarlett O’Hara.  If she’s not okay with it by now, I’m afraid she never will be.  I don’t believe the reasons.

I wanted to be her friend, but there’s a wall that is impossible for me to breach.  I don’t feel it’s my fault.  I don’t call that often because I’m always afraid she’s going to yell at me again.

I can understand and respect that you don’t want trouble at home, but is it right to allow a good friend to be bullied?

I don’t feel comfortable with this situation.  It makes me feel like some blasted “other woman.”

The last thing I want to do is to end our friendship, but things have got to change because I can’t take much more of this distrust and suspicion and fear of somehow transgressing.


I do love you [philia] dearly, and that’s the reason why I’ve put up with this for so long.  But I can’t let it keep going on like this.

I do believe I earned the right long ago to be cut some slack, and I don’t feel I’m being treated fairly.  I did not create this situation.

I don’t appreciate being treated like some “other woman” who can’t be trusted.

I’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to put her family back together, and should not keep getting treated like I’ll try to break it apart as soon as her back is turned.  I don’t want to go to extremes or put up an ultimatum I’m sure to lose.

But if Jeff were bullying one of my friends, I would stick up for him/her.


About our conversation the other day, this is difficult for me….You are very dear to me and I don’t want to hurt or upset you.

But I’m not sure you realize the stress I’ve been under since I discovered Tracy still has me under “restriction” after all this time.  I want the stress to end.  I want to find some way where we can all get what we want, but things have to change.

I claim my right to protest that this is very unfair to me.  This “restriction” I’m still under is far more appropriate for someone she’s just met who dresses provocatively and has a history of manstealing.

On the contrary, I happen to think she knows me quite well, I dress modestly, respect boundaries, and have tried to help you guys out any way I can.  I earned the right to be cut slack because of our generosity.

We were roommates for more than a month, so she DOES know everything she needs to know about me.  I have never understood why she keeps saying she doesn’t.

I’ll hear her say things about me that I don’t even recall mentioning.  I don’t remember telling her I don’t like shopping.  I don’t remember telling her I’m a nervous driver.  Yet somehow she knows both things.

I have indeed tried to be friends with her, and I thought we were now, that the past was gone and she was learning to trust me.

When Jeff and I first met, he had a group of friends which I felt uncomfortable around, but they were his friends.  However, I claim the right to choose my own confidants.

I am also a shy, quiet, private person; she has to take me as I am.  I opened up to her about many things in the very beginning.

While I was sick and could not move off the couch, and when we went to church, we had long conversations.  You were at work at the time, so did not witness them.

We could do what women do and poke fun at you when you were in the room.  Things were going fine.

I seem to recall wanting to watch chick flicks with her–finally, someone to watch them with!

But then distressing things happened that caused me to put up boundaries.  I would like to be able to take those boundaries away again.

But there is only one way this can happen: I MUST BE MADE TO FEEL SAFE.  To elaborate, I must be accepted the way I am: an introvert.

There must be no harsh words, just gentle treatment; I must not be punished for wanting to talk to you; I must not be pushed or criticized or punished for not talking more to Tracy, because this will cause me to clam up.

This is not stubbornness.  Honestly, my brain will freeze up, I will feel very uncomfortable around her, and I will not be able to speak to her.  This always happens when people tell me I should talk more, tell me to smile, or whatever.

I have been able to make friends with some difficult people, but they inspired my loyalty through compliments and gentle treatment.  For example, my former boss [the narcissist], who had a temper, kept cutting my hours without pay, and kept “forgetting” my paydays.

Once he wanted me to talk to a credit card company for him, and impersonate his wife, who had to call them herself but wasn’t able to.  When I refused, he called them up himself and began speaking falsetto.  It was the strangest thing I ever witnessed.

The day he quit, he was like a dragon, spewing flames out all over the building because he thought the underwriter had treated him badly.

But he normally spoke gently to me; he joked around with me; I poked fun at him for his messy office; he kept telling me how smart I was and what a help I was, putting his files in order.  (“Disorganized” is far too light a word to use to describe his office.)

This inspired my loyalty, so when someone told me I should threaten to stop working for him if he didn’t pay me on time, I didn’t do it.

I want everything to be the way we dreamed it would be back in the beginning.  It just can’t go on the way it has been.  But if I’m accepted the way I am and made to feel comfortable, you will see that things can change.

I am skittish and sensitive.  This must be taken into account.  If it is, then we can finally get somewhere and everyone will be happy.

The way things are now, is very distressing, because I start getting anxious if I need to call you (for fear of Tracy getting upset with me), and I do occasionally need to talk to you in person–not just over e-mail or the phone–like friends DO.

I want the freedom to do so, because I will not stand for this forever.

From what you said, I got the strong impression that others have been “okayed” for far less.  I do feel I earned the right to be cut slack because of all the trouble I went through for you guys.  I feel she already knows all she needs to know about me after living under my roof for more than a month.

Now we’re the ones going through difficult times, and I feel I have the right to go out and talk with a friend.  I’m not going to make some ultimatum which I’m sure to lose, and I don’t want to put you in a tough spot.

But I will say this just is not right, not the way to pay back someone for helping.

The final e-mail had some things about, I didn’t feel comfortable being friends with a man whose wife hates me, and explaining that the pressure needed to be taken off me to talk.

I didn’t find a copy of it, and I think it was sent through an online forum, so I don’t remember what it said, or which version above it most resembled.  But it was probably similar to the last.

Tracy tells Jeff a different story: I have already been “approved” as Richard’s friend

Afterwards, Jeff drove Tracy to work or the airport, and had a little conversation with her about all this.

She told him that she actually was perfectly fine with me now, that Richard could do anything he wanted with his friends as long as he cleaned the house first–He just hadn’t been cleaning the house.

They were all going out of town for a bit and would return the day of an Alice Cooper concert.

Richard had to run an errand after they got back, which I won’t describe here, just that it was necessary and would take him out of town during the concert.

Tracy suggested that she and Jeff go to that concert, while Richard would take the kids to my house and watch them there, while he and I hung out together and watched The Apostle.

I don’t remember when exactly he was first allowed to bring the kids to my house and hang out with me with them around, like little “chaperones” (or maybe spies, for all I know).  But that was usually a couple of hours in the afternoon, not hours and hours in the evening.

This was a gracious sign, a direct message from Tracy, that all her restrictions on me were gone and I had nothing more to fear from her.

Turnabout is fair play, after all: For her to go to a concert alone with Jeff, she must be willing to let me go out for coffee/ice cream/cry on a shoulder with Richard.

I told Jeff that Richard should not be telling me tales about his wife, telling me she was still against me when she wasn’t at all.

Jeff and I were both thrilled at this news.

For many months I operated on the understanding that all the restrictions were gone now.  I just figured that Richard wasn’t going out for coffee with me after that simply because he had no money for such things, being too poor.

It wasn’t until June 2009 that I discovered she had withdrawn her “okay” yet again, without telling me when or why.  I still have no clue when it was withdrawn.  This was maddening!

Unpredictable Responses
This includes emotional outbursts and extreme mood swings on the part of the abuser.

If your partner likes something you do today and hates it tomorrow, or reacts to the extreme at an identical behavior by the victim, this is an unpredictable response.

This behavior damages the victim’s self esteem, self confidence and mental well-being because they are constantly on edge, wondering how their partner is going to respond to their every move. –Mary M. Alward, Inside the Mind of an Abuser

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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


I must be accepted as I am–introversion, NVLD and all–or you’re out

In order to be my friend, a person MUST accept me the way I am.  I just ask for acceptance of introversion and quietness, not bad behavior like angry outbursts and cussing at people.  I always try to cultivate kindness and gentleness; I’m not going around being mean to people.  Mostly I sit there quietly, laughing at jokes but that’s about it.

Most people seem to like me.  They consider me innocent, unoffensive.  They call me “Trouble” or tell me to “Behave” the same way that you call a big man “Shorty.”

About 20 years ago, I finally decided I had enough of people telling me that I had to be more outgoing or talk louder or smile more.  I decided that there was nothing wrong with being shy, quiet and soft-spoken.  I figured that if somebody doesn’t like it, that’s their problem, not mine.

And I won’t change myself in any way just for other people: I have to see a good reason for the change.  Since I was not being mean or unkind, I saw no reason to change my basic personality.

I certainly felt far too mousy to be a threat to anybody’s marriage, but rather just the kind of person who inspires confidence in wives.

But Tracy expected me not only to be her friend, but to change myself, who I was, the basic way I communicate with people–

–or else she wouldn’t consider me her friend–

–or let me have a normal friendship with Richard, with all the normal things friends do with each other (going out for coffee, or even having a private conversation standing on the grass outside the house).

I’m certainly not talking about going out to dinner or dancing, “date” things, but just talking with a friend!

As I wrote here, there were even times in early 2008 that she fought him “tooth and nail,” because he needed to come over–for ten minutes–to pick up some things they’d left at my house, or mail that arrived for them!

She acted like her reactions were somehow normal and accepted by society and my objections were wrong.  But if I acted to Jeff’s friends like she did to Richard’s, Jeff would have divorced me years ago, and vice versa.

Jeff had far more trust in me and allowed far more freedoms even when he had just met Richard: His basic sizing-up took a very short time.

Our trust in each other has meant very little drama with each other over friends, very little drama with friends, and must be a far happier life than assuming suspicion of every one of your SO’s friends until they have passed your “test.”

Even though Richard was in my exact same situation–

–the wife of his friend Chris hated Richard and Tracy, and “fought tooth and nail” to keep Chris from meeting with Richard–

–this inspired neither compassion nor understanding in Richard and Tracy toward me.

If you have some constructive criticism and couch it in gentle language, I can listen to you and appreciate your help.  Sometimes even if couched in annoyed language, if I know you have my best interests at heart, I’ll listen, see your point and change.

But to base the very friendship on how well I adopt your neurotypical or extroverted ways of doing things?  To call me unfriendly for not following your demands?

That’s no friendship: That’s a dictatorship.  Normally you hear that you should just be yourself; I was being myself, but ordered to be somebody else or I was a terrible person.

In this hostile environment, I could not relax or feel comfortable with Tracy, which made it impossible to become any more outgoing with her than I already was.  And Richard just enabled Tracy’s dictatorship, rather than getting her to lighten up and let me be me.

Over time I began to discover that he hid various things from me.  That he expected me to change my basic self which had so delighted him in the beginning.

Meanwhile, he complained that he had to change things when around me–which I never asked him to change: He just assumed I couldn’t handle these things in someone else, because I did not do them myself.

I had to change myself to satisfy Tracy, but now he told me if I didn’t like something he did, I had to just deal with it.  He spoke about making people “just deal with it” as if it were a virtue, but it’s a vice for me to tell them to just deal with my introversion?

This also demonstrates a problem my husband and I have noted in society of late: People have lost civility, have forgotten how to work with instead of against others. 

Instead of thinking about another person’s feelings, it’s become a virtue (seen on Facebook memes) to refuse to apologize for offending someone or hurting someone’s feelings.  It’s a very narcissistic view that breeds bad feeling and hate.

Richard gave me excuses for her bullying, her snarks at me: pregnancy hormones, various life stresses, jealousy, tactlessness, the way she was raised, or even that she was upset at something I had done.  I was cut no slack for never intending to upset or hurt her, while they expected me to cut her all sorts of slack for intentionally hurting me.

It reminds me of a friend I had in college, who was very socially inept, more so than I was.  She had some physical disabilities that apparently affected her social understanding, and there may have been one or two learning disabilities as well.  So because we were close, she upset or annoyed me at times.

But she was still my friend, she was a sweet person and meant well, and I’m friends with her to this day.  I’ve long since forgotten or pardoned the things that upset me, and felt bad about my own actions, for which I have apologized to her.

I can recognize the difference between intentional and unintentional hurts, and will cut people slack if I know them to be good-hearted.  I also know better than to assume someone hates me just because they don’t say much to me, because it’s far more likely that they’re just shy and/or quiet.

There is a huge difference between a socially inept but well-meaning person making gaffes and asking for understanding and acceptance, and an abuser with a bad temper ripping on you again and again and saying, “It’s just the way I am and you have to accept it.”

There’s also a huge difference between a normal person messing up once in a while in how they treat people, and a physical, sexual or emotional abuser doing things over and over again on purpose.

That’s why with most people we can accept their claim of a misunderstanding, while with an abuser it’s, “She’s trying to make me crazy and justify bad behavior.”

Everyone has faults and little ways of being selfish.  With most people it’s best to let it slide, but with some, it becomes a pattern of behavior manifesting itself in many different ways that shows this is indeed an abuser.

Everyone is rude at times, for whatever reason, but the abuser is deliberately rude and nasty again and again.  You don’t blame a kid for saying naughty words if he has Tourette’s, but you punish a child who beats up his sister.

There’s a difference between being clueless or obnoxious, and being a narcissist.  Otherwise, we would be cutting people out of our lives simply for having faults, and end up alone.  Richard had plenty of faults of his own that I chose to ignore for the sake of the friendship; I hoped he would do the same for me.

But there’s a huge difference between Asperger’s or introversion, and narcissism or abuse.  There’s a huge difference between a differently-wired brain, mental disorder or personality type, and a personality disorder based on behavior.

Extreme shyness and quietness has always been my way, ever since childhood, only diminishing if/when I feel comfortable enough to open up to somebody.

Some people really can stop their abusive behavior if put on the proper medication or treatment.  Some people have no medical problems to excuse what they’re doing.

Being afraid to talk to someone is not the same as screaming abuse at them or calling them names.

While we can excuse and put up with the occasional bad behavior from most people, we eventually discover we can’t do the same with an abuser.  The trouble is that the abuser treats a target like she’s the abuser, like she’s the one with the problem.

Not only did I feel that Tracy did nothing of the kind for me that I did for my old friend, even though I demonstrated kindness and generosity toward her in many different ways–

–but I recognized her as a bully.  I saw that she hurt me on purpose.

I knew this for certain because of things that Richard told me: For example, when I overheard her ripping on me on the phone to her mother, he later told me she knew I was in the next room–and did it on purpose!  She and he both found a way to justify her actions!

Or the time she yelled at me over the phone, Richard found out about it and made excuses for why she did it, but I never heard that she was sorry for it.  I thought there was no excuse for her to do that, when they were the ones being inconsiderate of me and my time.

Basically, there was always some justification for hurting me, and never an apology, so I knew she meant to hurt me.

I have always resisted the idea that shyness or quietness are somehow defects or personality flaws that must be changed.  No, they are personality differences.

We can’t all be the life of the party, or else everyone would talk and nobody would listen.  Shy and quiet people mean nothing at all harmful and will welcome attention from nice people.

But while Tracy was being deliberately hurtful by finding any reason to hate me or be upset with me, and then coming up with one way after another to punish me or hurt me, I was the only one expected to change my behavior or even so much as apologize?

I got sick of this, of apologizing to her and getting nothing back.  Or wanting to apologize and hearing I had no need to do so–but there was no evidence of Tracy pardoning me.  Of explaining to Richard that no harm was meant, and what I needed, but getting very little understanding from him, and no understanding at all from Tracy.

It’s one thing to say “I can’t help it” if your extreme shyness, introversion, selective mutism or Asperger’s/NVLD makes it hard for you to make small talk.

It’s quite another to say “I can’t help it” if you smack or yell at someone, or rip them to shreds verbally.

One means well; the other means harm.  Therein lies the difference.

For me to deal with social ineptness and extreme shyness that got far worse the more hurtful Tracy became…

For her to keep ripping on me in one way or another…

For her to treat me like I was the one being deliberately hurtful, while she was the nice, patient one being hurt again and again–

–It was gaslighting and projecting, plain and simple, common tactics for abusers.

But I never saw Tracy be rude or nasty to people she wanted to impress, to people she liked.  I never saw her make snarky comments on Facebook to anyone else but me.

Outside of her husband and children, I only saw her pull out the claws with her ex, school officials who annoyed her, people she disliked or saw as rivals, and Todd, the other family friend she chased away.

By the way, like me, (as she said) Todd also preferred to talk to Richard instead of her, because (as Richard said) Todd was wary of her, and (from what Todd said) saw many of the same things I did in her.

When they are with outsiders they are such a charming, friendly person. People tend to like them and admire them.

You are continually amazed at how rational they are with these people, how phony it is, and different it is from the person you know privately. In other words, they treat you differently than outsiders. –JoyfulAlive Woman, Behaviors and attitudes of the narcissist

How ludicrous that while Tracy got furious with me for telling my husband all the things she did to hurt me, her husband and children, for seeing her behavior as controlling and possessive…

…she could say all manner of things about me and do anything she liked to me–

–while I was supposed to just suck it up, take it, and be meek, mild and accepting toward her.

I spoke out against the evil being done to me and to people I loved!  But she got even worse when she discovered what I thought about what she did, and pinned the blame and bad behavior all on me!

I wonder where folks get the idea that Christians have to be meek and mild, silently enduring mistreatment, tolerating anything anybody else does, and timidly standing by while abusers trample all over them and other innocent victims. Since when is it a sin to speak out against evil?

This is what our abusers want us to believe, and they just love throwing it back in our faces anytime we protest their behavior. They provoke us to anger, they cause untold pain and suffering, and then when we finally speak up, they smugly inform us that we’re not acting like “good Christians”.

This is hogwash. Abusers would just love for us to back off and be quiet while they do anything they want and get away with murder.

Satan will always try to use our righteousness against us, to get us to question our faith, and to separate us from God. This is just another one of his tricks.

What kind of awesome, wonderful, All-Good God would our Father be if he actually wanted us to allow wickedness to operate unchecked in our families and our lives?

This concept is preposterous, and contradicts the perfect goodness of the Lord. Our God is All-Good, and the devil is all-bad. They are diametrically opposed for all eternity.

God instructs his saints to take a stand against evil and fight the good fight, not to keep silent and hide in the closet.  It is God’s plan that good will triumph over evil.

We are the Army of God.  We must put on the full armor of God and stand against Satan and his army.  That is our assignment, and our destiny as a child of God….

When dealing with Abusers, it is always best not to expect the appropriate reactions to rebuke that you would get from a normal person, such as apologies and improved behavior.  Be prepared! –Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc., Rebuking

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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


Two Narcissists Tag-Team Bully an Introvert with NLD

I told Richard at various times and in various ways what I needed from Tracy to give her what she wanted:

  1. that I was obviously missing her nonverbal cues to chat; I may have said or implied that I needed more verbal cues (making it clear that you want to converse rather than you’re just making some little comment that only requires a yes or no answer), such as, “Hey, let’s chat”
  2. Tracy needed to stop treating me as an enemy, hating me, punishing me like a naughty child for everything she didn’t like
  3. stop pressuring me to talk on pain of losing my friend and being treated like a jerk
  4. I speak up far more during one-on-one conversations sitting next to each other, than in a group
  5. (not a need, but an aside: ) once, I mentioned that I would hug her back if she ever hugged me, and she said she wasn’t bothered that I offered hugs to Richard, that she understood that she and I were the same about hugs: giving them out to certain people, but not to everybody

But these things were not provided to me.  Instead, I got:

  1. a prickly person who would sit at her computer, hunched over and mumbling occasionally, never smiling at me or even saying “hello” or “goodbye” first
  2. constant pressure to talk through various changing rules and punishments
  3. ridicule, jabs, snarks
  4. still no, or very few, verbal cues
  5. no offers for hugs, and when I gave her one a couple of times, she made it into a joke or growled at me–then after I’d always been told that hugging Richard was okay, on 7/1/10, I start hearing through Jeff that they were now saying it wasn’t okay??
  6. never took me up on my offer to watch movies together, never offered to come visit or chat
  7. continued abuses–even in front of me–of her husband and children, making her friendship distasteful to me
  8. Richard’s own behavior, constantly changing, something okay one day and not okay later and then okay again after that, while he kept me constantly guessing as to whether certain behaviors were acceptable to him or not

(This webpage, by the way, demonstrates how, for children with NLD, a system of rewards and punishments for their social behavior is counterproductive–and how behavior problems in them are rarely manipulative.  I can imagine that an adult with NLD, being treated like a child, would react the same way.)

I have little trouble warming up to and opening up to my husband’s friends or spouses of my friends who are nice–which is most of them–if in a small-group situation, if I feel I can break into the conversation.

But Tracy was not nice.

I’m often quiet even when our friends are visiting, if there are more than one of them together and we’re all in a group.  Yet I feel comfortable being quiet around them, that they’re not judging me for it, that they just accept that as my way.

When Richard would mention times that I supposedly snubbed Tracy, I didn’t remember them at all, or Tracy ever trying to start conversations, and figured NVLD must be to blame for me missing her cues–if indeed she was telling the truth that she was trying to start conversations.

But as for me not opening up to her in general, she wasn’t “safe.”  I told Richard directly that I didn’t feel I could be good friends with her, that I was scared of her, that I couldn’t open up to her, that I didn’t like how she was treating him or me (and maybe the kids, though I forget if I mentioned that to him or not).

I never promised to be Chatty Cathy with her or take her into my confidences.  I told him I needed to feel “safe” before I could open up to anyone.

My husband says that I sensed she was dangerous, and did what any rational creature would do: tried to become invisible.

Blaming me for this and accusing me of making excuses or “being a victim” was hugely unfair–and wrong.  Self-preservation is instinctual, and I sensed that Tracy was not the Christian she claimed to be.  The Bible says to have nothing to do with such people (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

I tried and tried to explain things to Richard, that by constantly expecting me to perform social leaps with Tracy, or else I’d be punished by her–they were making things worse.  I had to feel comfortable, like she was not my enemy.  But it fell on deaf ears as they both kept attributing it to “excuses” or Tracy just plain not believing it.

Apparently they didn’t understand what I meant by feeling comfortable: Did they think it was about the temperature of the house or not cussing around me or not playing zombie movies or not sitting around in boxers?  Those things had nothing to do with it!

So the cycle kept continuing: The more Tracy punished me for not being talkative with her–

–the more I heard what terrible things she was saying to Richard about me–

–the quieter and more reserved I became with her out of fear and resentment–

–and the more she punished me for being quiet and reserved, by her hostility and by restricting my friendship with Richard (often in ways I wasn’t even aware of until long after an offense occurred).

I remembered every cutting remark she made about or to me; they were legion.  I tried to remember the compliments, but there were very few.

Every punishment she made, every judgment she made which was opposite to how I really felt or what I really meant by some action toward her or Richard, stung like a sock in the eye.  Especially after all the kind and loving things Jeff and I did toward her and her family at great financial or emotional expense.

It drove me crazy that Richard didn’t understand that you don’t just stand by and let somebody bully your friend, even if that bully is your own wife!  I understood this, and in my past had often stepped into the verbal fray to defend a friend.

So many things were kept from me, which I didn’t find out about until it was far too late to change Tracy’s mind or explain or make any sort of difference.  Imagine all the paranoia this inspired when, little by little, things trickled out to my ears.

Imagine being on the playground, getting pounded by the school bully, who with every blow of his fist screams, “Befriend me, you a**hole!  Befriend me, you a**hole!”–while your best friend just stands by and watches, even tells the bully to hit harder.  That was my situation.  And the following is, in every detail, my situation:

Once a potential victim exhibits social constraint, or responsibility, the bully knows he or she can safely maneuver the situation to the very brink of disgrace.

Counting on the integrity of the victim’s constraints to keep them both from tumbling over, the bully stands on the crumbling edges of socially acceptable behavior and demands that the victim either jump or submit.

This assumes that social, professional or familial circumstances force the victim [ie, me] into relationship with the bully. Otherwise, the victim would simply disengage.

It also assumes the victim’s world view and social skill level do not provide alternatives beyond submission or escalation….

This type of aggression uses the threat of social isolation to hurt the victim. The bully’s advantage resides in the value the victim places on belonging to a family, school, workplace or other group…. [ie, being friends with Richard]

Consumed by self-reliance and the need for control, relational aggressors project the source of their inadequacies and fears on to others.  Some have termed this projection as “hostile attributional bias” or paranoia.

Accordingly, relational aggressors [ie, Tracy] see provocation and, thereby, justification where it does not exist.

Typically, they [Tracy] take inappropriate revenge for imagined offense and externally impose on others the solutions to problems arising from within.

Surprisingly, bullies see themselves in a positive light, probably because they have so little awareness of what others think of them.

No one wants to suffer a bully’s wrath by telling them the truth, and so the bully’s confidence survives simply because they lack the feedback to perceive themselves correctly in social situations.

In fact, blindness to the feelings of others permeates the behavioral style and outlook of bullies. Lacking social awareness, they certainly don’t see the impact of their own behavior on themselves and others.

They abuse their spouses and children, creating a miserable family life and still another generation of bullies. In the end, bullies bring at least as much unhappiness upon themselves as upon their victims.  (Ken Cox, Relational Aggressor).


Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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


How to Bully an Introvert–and Assets of NVLD

Over the years, I never knew what Tracy was thinking or when she would go off next to whomever around her was annoying her.  But somehow, she kept blaming me for all our problems.

And Richard kept refusing to listen when I tried to tell him (not direct quotes):

I’m not making excuses; I really am unable to change my quiet nature or recognize her attempts at conversation without some sort of verbal help.  So you both need to LIGHTEN UP and let me be ME.  You’re making it worse!  You’re pushing me further and further into my shell!  Let me be quiet when I feel like it, since I don’t speak when I have nothing to say, and if I have something to say, I’ll say it.

If I’m so capable of being socially “normal,” or outgoing and talkative like he is with everyone (rather than just with certain people)–Why did my aunt think I was molested, based on how I acted when I stayed at her house for a couple of weeks at age 10?  Why did everybody I knew growing up think I was weird, even if they liked me?

Instead of labeling me a “victim” or accusing me of making “excuses,” how about noting that I was clueless to whatever Tracy did (if anything–Jeff never noticed it, either) to befriend me.  So shouldn’t that tell you that I truly am socially clueless and not doing anything deliberately?  Shouldn’t that tell you I need your verbal help, rather than you just getting mad about every little thing, and not accepting me or telling me what was going on?  (not quotes, but what I felt like telling them)

I thought he knew me better than this.  Did he really think I would deliberately hurt Tracy or treat her like dirt? or that I would dislike her without cause?

I tried to tolerate and be nice to her, and did all sorts of things to be nice and/or help her out, such as

  • changing a poopy diaper unasked while she was in the shower
  • babysitting
  • telling her she looked gorgeous the other day
  • joking with her about husbands
  • giving her a flower or tomato from my garden
  • sending the baby to Richard instead of her for a diaper change
  • offering to watch movies together (which she never took me up on)
  • asking for recipes for that wonderful dish she makes
  • our two families doing all sorts of things together
  • giving them shelter when they needed it
  • giving generously when they needed our help
  • giving Christmas and birthday presents
  • and various other things which are too personal to post on the Net.

But apparently it just wasn’t enough for her.

Once, Richard claimed that Tracy tried to ping me on IRC but I never responded, that they both saw me ignoring her….Um, I racked my brain when he told me this, racked and racked and racked, but no such incident ever came to mind.  Even after my brain had years to ponder it on the backburner, no such incident ever came up.

So for all I know, it never actually happened, but was Richard gaslighting me again into thinking I was causing trouble and snubbing her, which I most certainly was not doing.

Or even if it did happen, I must have been doing something else at the time, not paying attention to IRC, or maybe I was in the middle of a conversation with Richard and did not see her pings.

But did she believe me?  Probably not, because that would threaten her image of me as a horrible person who hated her and must be pushed out of Richard’s life.

Just like the other time in February 2008 when he e-mailed me with all these things I supposedly did to snub her while she stayed at my house.  I read the list but could not remember any of it ever happening.

Or for the one or two things I could remember, it was because she had just done something nasty to somebody, so I was too angry to speak to her.  Or they were getting all mushy and PDAing on the couch, so I had to get up and leave.  (Maybe it’s the Asperger’s/NVLD, but I can’t stand people doing that next to me.)

It seemed like he just made up all this stuff I was supposedly doing, that I never actually did, to justify making me feel bad for something I did not even do.

So somehow it kept being my fault that Tracy kept treating me like crap and didn’t let me go to coffee with Richard, or any of the other stuff his other friends could do.  More of the psychopathic mindscrew.

Richard said they weren’t used to dealing with shy, quiet people in their circles; well, is that my fault somehow?  Learn now how to deal with shy, quiet people, and stop treating them like they must be loud, boisterous extroverts to be trustworthy with your husband–or worthy of your time!

You will discover that shy, quiet people can be great friends, if you let them relax and be themselves, rather than your idea of what they should be.  People with NVLD or Asperger’s can also be wonderful, loving, loyal, empathetic friends, if only given the chance.  I have been called “kind and caring” and “loyal” by many friends.

Many of us shy, quiet people think we’re fine just the way we are, and see no need to change just to please you.  In fact, we often think you chatty types can be too loud, too chatty, and that you often talk so much we can’t get a word in edgewise, or stop to think about what we want to say before you’re already on the next subject.

Scientific research shows that introverts actually have different thought processes than extroverts, that extroverts are great at small talk–can just blurt things out–while introverts need time to sit and think about what to say next.  It’s not just personality difference, but the way our brains work.

And honestly, I’d much rather make an occasional comment that means something, than blabber on and on about nothing just to fill the air.  And well, if I have to change my personality to be your friend, then you’re not worthy of being my friend.  This quote puts to words what I’ve always felt:

Either way, quiet people typically do not like to be the center of attention.

They also don’t like to be pitied….Don’t ever make a big deal out of me being quiet and/or shy. I F**KING HATE THAT. It’s embarrassing and makes me feel like a freak in a side show….

The preferred way to get to know me is to do something with me and let the conversation flow from that.

Like most introverts, I detest small talk. Not because I’m some super brilliant intellectual who looks down on people who enjoy it, but because frankly I find it to be mundane, forced, and awkward…

If you are dealing with an extremely shy type of quiet person, you may be better off just being polite and non-threatening.

That means NOT jumping all over that person with questions and chatter or being all weirded out because they can’t finish a conversation. They simply may not have the skills to interact in the way you want. Just let it be.

Just smile and say something like, I enjoyed talking with you. Do not be sarcastic. Be kind and sincere.

No pressure. Over time, when they see that you’re nice and not some pushy extrovert who is out to make them feel horrible about themselves, they may open up to you. The Shytrovert, How to talk to quiet people

But no, to Tracy it was a horrible insult, not to be forgiven, that I was naturally quiet and shy, a reason not to trust me around her husband.

And Richard kept pushing me in order to please her, making me feel like some mannerless freak just because I didn’t have a long, drawn-out small talk response to whatever remark she mythically would make to start a conversation with me.

I say “mythically” because I don’t recall any such thing ever occurring more than maybe once or twice.  Yet every year or so I heard that it was supposedly happening all the time and I was supposedly rebuffing/snubbing her all the time.  Hogwash!  All I remember is maybe some occasional little joke or comment (or snark), but no conversation starters.

I didn’t know about narcissists yet, since it was the late “naughts,” and information about them had not yet exploded all over the Net.

[Update 2/15/14: Nowadays, everywhere you go–forums, Facebook fan pages for Breaking Amish, TV, your Facebook news feed, The Colbert Report–somebody mentions “personality disorders,” narcissists, sociopathic smiles, and the like.  It seems like everybody has heard about these things now, even people who haven’t had reason to research abuse.]

But I did know about abusers and bullies, especially as I began to research abuse for my College Memoirs and the “Abuse” section of my Life pages.

(Not only did I start the Abuse page in 2008 to blow off steam from my own experiences with her and her behavior to Richard and the kids, but I’ve been abused by exes, not physically but in other ways.  The “Abuse” section was a way to deal with all of that by advising others, without directly mentioning her.  Those stories of exes are in my College Memoirs.)

From a Dictionary of Psychology article on selective mutism, which–though it speaks here about children–also notes that selective mutism does not necessarily improve with age:

Contrary to popular belief, people suffering from selective mutism do not necessarily improve with age, or just “grow out of it.”

Consequently, treatment at an early age is important. If not addressed, selective mutism tends to be self-reinforcing: those around such a person may eventually expect him or her not to speak.

They then stop attempting to initiate verbal contact with the sufferer, making the prospect of talking seem even more difficult. Sometimes in this situation, a change of environment (such as changing schools) may make a difference.

In some cases, with psychological help, the sufferer’s condition may improve. Treatment in teenage years may, though not necessarily, become more difficult because the sufferer has become accustomed to being mute.

Forceful attempts to make the child talk are not productive, usually resulting in higher anxiety levels, which reinforces the condition.

The behavior is often viewed externally as willful, or controlling, as the child usually shuts down all vocal communication and body language in such situations, which can often be wrongly perceived as rudeness.

[Update 2/15/2014: I deal with selective mutism here, pondering in a more recent blog post if my quiet nature is from mutism, NVLD, or introversion.  But whichever it is, it is my natural temperament, not “willful,” and cannot be forced into extroversion or being outgoing–especially through pressure and punishment.)

I see NVLD not only as a great relief–I’m not an idiot or a freak after all–but it also has given me many blessings, assets which I’d much rather focus on, than whether I’m outgoing enough for Tracy, or having to constantly explain my quirks to Richard.

I love having a great memory, catching details, typing fast, proofreading and spelling well, things like that. These things serve me well in clerical or writing-based tasks.

Though I do have trouble remembering details of books and articles I read, and tend to retain impressions instead.  (This goes along with the reading comprehension deficit, a trait of NVLD, which a college placement test confirmed in 1991.)

For Richard to tell me to stop believing it’s NVLD because he told me to stop, that would mean going back to the way it was before, wondering what’s wrong with me, why do I have trouble with these things other people do easily, why am I such a freak, why can’t I even use an automatic car wash?

But he actually told me in an e-mail near the end of June 2010 that he wanted to “strangle” me for continuing to believe that I wasn’t just eccentric, that it was NVLD!  (Yes, he even tried to tell me I was just “eccentric.”)

That sounded like a threat to me, like telling me what to think, yet when I confronted him about it, he denied it, told me not to talk to him again until I had sorted out my problem!

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

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

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

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

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