Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: red flags of abuse (page 1 of 26)

Reblog: “Dealing with Abuser”–and how it brings up memories

I just read the post Dealing with the Abuser by Pastor Jeff Crippen.  Lots in here reminds me both of my ex Phil, and of the ex-“friends” Richard and Tracy, especially Tracy.  It’s validation yet again, helping to reassure me that I was correct, that it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’t deserve it.  I’ll point out the parts which especially jumped out to me and why:

“This is a vital lesson to learn then in respect to dealing with an abusive person.  Such a person, like Sanballat, has only one pursue – to destroy, to discourage, to instill fear, to mock and rob his victim of any sense of self-worth and confidence.  Sanballat wants to control, to own, to exercise power, to be as God to his victims.  Therefore, it is not wise to enter into mediation with an abuser.  It is not wise to enter into couples’ counseling with an abuser.  Communication problems are NOT the problem.  The abusive person’s mentality is the problem, and it is his problem alone.”

“Like Nehemiah in his dealings with Sanballat, the Christian is NOT bound to meet with an abusive person. We are NOT obligated to maintain an abusive relationship, thereby permitting the abuser to continue in his power and control and abuse. …

“Mediation, communication, reconciliation and peace-making requires goodwill from both parties. But as we have seen, the abuser has no goodwill – he is malevolent toward his victims. He will only use such sessions to exercise more of his abuse, to work more of his deceptions, and to make it appear to the foolish that he is the one who truly wants to set things ‘right.’ Beware of Sanballat!”

…See it? We have already studied and learned about the abusive man’s tactic of making allies. That is, of deceiving people like relatives and friends of his victim into thinking that the VICTIM is really the problem. That the victim is crazy, or that it is the victim who is being unreasonable in not being willing to come to the negotiation table.  That is what had happened in Nehemiah’s people.  The enemy had cultivated allies from among Nehemiah’s own people!

While the paragraph specifically says couples’ counseling, the larger context is not an abusive marriage, but a man reviling Nehemiah (for wanting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem) and bringing in flying monkeys to help with the abuse.

Both Phil and Richard/Tracy had flying monkeys–the friend they sent to “friend” me on Facebook so they could spy on me, who then posted a scathing “profile” description, which ripped on the false and defamatory image that Richard and Tracy had given her of me.

Then there was Richard’s friend, who heard–from Richard, not me–what had happened, so he came in to try to get me to reconsider ending the friendship–and he had a false view of what was going on, as well.

Then there was Phil, who made his busy-body friend think that I was the abuser and he was the innocent victim.  The busy-body then came to me and gave me a long lecture on how horrible I was and how I needed to change to get Phil back.

This also reinforces that my husband and I were absolutely correct in refusing to have a “conference” with Tracy, that no good whatsoever could possibly have come from it–as evidenced by her further abuse when we refused.  Heck, my priest also said that no good would have come from it.

Instead, as the quoted blog post proves, it would have been about Tracy refusing to listen to anything I had to say, and continuing to abuse and abuse and defame my character until she felt spent, while telling other people how horrible I was as well.  This is how she behaved with me and with others, such as mutual friend Todd.

Then in the post we have the story of a woman who entered a passionate marriage–only to see, over time, his true colors.  I’ve noted that the literature usually says that people end up in relationships like their parents’, but my parents were not abusive.  This woman, too, did not grow up in an abusive relationship, defying the usual portrait of an abused woman.  Rather, this man took advantage of her giving nature, and twisted her brain around so much that she no longer knew what was right.

When she objected to his physical abuse, and said she’d leave if it happened again, he somehow managed to turn *her* into a horrible person, guilting her.

After that evening, he did abstain from hitting me; the physical violence in our relationship was limited to him shoving, grabbing, and pinning me up against the wall with his arm across my throat. He ratcheted up emotional abuse. At that time I didn’t recognize the red flags. I believed abuse only involved hitting and punching: now I know that abuse can be verbal and psychological.

He used constant criticism and name- calling, telling me that I was a stupid, worthless woman who couldn’t do anything right, repeatedly. Over time, the Stockholm Syndrome (ie, Traumatic Bonding – being bound to one’ s abuser when the abuser alternates abuse and ‘kindness’) – set in.

Through humiliation and ridicule my partner taught me that to express my own feelings and needs was selfish. He made it clear that it was not safe for me to disagree with him.

If I said I wanted or needed something, he would withhold it. He was generous with other things, but not with what I wanted most – he deliberately withheld his love and acceptance.

My ex Phil also withheld the things I wanted and needed, making me feel like a shrew and a nag for them.  He made it very clear over time that I was not to object to anything he wanted, no matter how distasteful or painful it was, and that I was not to disagree with him.  Meanwhile, I was not to ask for anything.  He ultimately left me for not following these rules, then brought in his flying monkey, manipulating him into thinking everything I did and everything I said about Phil’s behavior was abusive and wrong.

Those who know my story often ask why I stayed. First, I stayed because I truly loved him. Then, because I had sympathy for him; I knew he had pain in his life, and I wanted to save him. [WRONG motives, as Hunter now realizes].

Then in the blog post, it finally all came to a head with witnesses, at a July 4 party.  The abused wife hesitated when her husband said it was time to leave, so he threw a violent tantrum, which led the witnesses to intervene.  And that’s when she left him.

He called me from the gas station a block away. ‘Are you coming with me?’ he demanded to know.

‘No.’

‘If you don’t come with me now, you can never come back.’

This reminds me of Phil, a time when he was so obnoxious at a party that the other partygoers got upset, but he just didn’t stop.   All evening, people kept saying, “Shut up, Phil.”  I was mortified at his behavior, and how he disregarded everyone else’s feelings.

Finally, he left the suite, and someone closed the door behind him, pretending to have thrown him out.  It was a game, though partly they meant it, being so very annoyed by him.  They thought he’d come back in a few minutes.

Instead, we got a phone call.  Mike answered and tried to talk to Phil, but Phil just kept plaintively wailing, “Nyssa.  Nyssa!”  So I had to come to the phone.

I said hello, but for a moment he said nothing.  I tried to get something out of him, but it was harder than pulling a tooth.  Finally he said, “I’m at the phone outside Krueger.  Are you going to come here, or stay there?”

I didn’t want to leave my friends, but didn’t feel I had much of a choice.  He wasn’t coming back to the party, either.  My friend Cindy had long since left the party with some others, and then returned to Roanoke after bowling; she found him there at Krueger.  He said to her,

“She’ll come here, if she knows what’s good for her.”

Whoa, whoa, I had nothing to do with his obnoxious behavior or the consequences it brought on him.  I had nothing to do with his leaving, and didn’t want to leave my friends over his own bad behavior.  If I’d known Phil said such a thing, I might never have gone back to Krueger for him.  But I didn’t, so I went, and spent long hours comforting him.  I don’t believe I told him that what he did at the party was okay, because I still thought he’d been obnoxious and annoying.  Mike thought he shouldn’t have made me leave the party like that.

Cindy told me his words a few years later (we were co-workers), and that they left not because of Phil being obnoxious, but because they planned to go bowling at a certain time.  It was a birthday party for Ralph, but he left it early, so we all thought Phil was the reason.  Well, okay, maybe he was partly the reason.

Not only is this blog post by Jeff Crippen validating for me (which is helpful ever so often despite the passing of many years), but it’s also a validating and helpful post for people who are caught up in abusive relationships.  Once again, see here.

 

 

 

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Running my abusers’ e-mail through the narc decoder

Back in May 2012, my abusers, Richard and Tracy, discovered this blog, then threatened and began to stalk me.  You can read their e-mail below.

Especially note that whichever of them wrote the e-mail (it “sounded” like Tracy’s “voice”), accused me of making things up and accusing Tracy falsely, downplayed Richard’s criminal conviction of choking his daughter, warned me not to go to the priest/church, and threatened to sue.

And yet–Through our own local version of a “police beat,” Crime Reports, published for all to see on the Fond du Lac city website, I have discovered that a domestic dispute occurred in May.

The report points to Richard and Tracy’s last-known address, at least according to Google Earth, which is used by the website to locate each crime event.  A follow-up occurred about a week later, so it appears that an investigation was begun into the incident, beyond the initial police report.

No charges have been filed as of yet, so I don’t know what happened, who was involved, or if charges ever will be filed.

But it–along with Richard’s conviction of choking his daughter–supports my statements that Richard and Tracy are abusive, and that I am not making up “false facts” out of a “not-all-there” brain.

And gives more strength to my mind to resist their attempts to gaslight me, and attempts to intimidate me into silence through constant surveillance of this blog.  This discovery has even more emboldened me to not be silent–and to laugh at their attempts to scare me.

It gets easier all the time, when reading old posts or remembering things that my abusers said or did, to laugh it off.

Yes, laugh it off.  I see how ridiculous it all is, and see right through it all.

Not only does it help pull me out of the pit and back where life is beautiful again, and I am no longer a “victim,” but it should help me identify such behavior in others, before I get pulled in again.

(Not that it is in any way a character failing to be a victim of someone abusing you.  Victim-blaming and -shaming is a huge problem these days.  The only one who should be ashamed of how the victim is affected by the abuse, is the abuser.)

Nowadays, when I remember what happened, it no longer affects me, just as it no longer affects me to remember what Phil, Peter or Shawn did back in college.  It’s become a story I revise for the masses to read, which may inspire a brief burst of anger, but then I forget about it again.

I see right through the things my various abusers did, and no longer let it worry and oppress me the way it used to for years.

Yes, it took me years to get past what those guys did, just as it has taken years to deal with what Richard and Tracy did.  But eventually I got through.  As Trent Reznor titled a song, The way out is through.

Because of this, and the discovery above which provides even more evidence that my abusers were full of bullsh**, I am now ready to turn my abusers’ threatening e-mail to me in May of 2012, into a piece of high comedy, by running it through my own brand-new narc decoder.

Blogger Tina Swithin has popularized the idea of a “narc decoder,” through which you run messages from your abuser.  This handy little “machine” translates those messages which fill you with fear, dread, anger, and the like, into what they really mean.

First, read the e-mail from Richard and Tracy:

Nyssa,

We read this in amusement. It gave us a good laugh to find
that almost 2 years later you are still fixated on something that we
forgot about a long time ago. As for your threats, promises whatever to
expose us you can take out a law book and read about defamation laws.
Richards’s court case may be public access and you are free to speculate
all you want without having all the information and facts. However the
rest of your writings about how horrible a person Tracy is and abusive
mentally deranged etc. have gone beyond statements of opinion. You have
represented in your writings false facts, not just opinions, about Tracy
that constitutes an actionable lawsuit. You are free to have your
opinion and feelings however the minute you go public to the members of
the church or community as you have threatened to do we will exercise
our rights to sue you for defamation against Tracy’s character.

You
talk about threats and bullies yet what are you doing? You are
threating to falsely accuse and expose lies about an innocent person if
they do not concede to your demands. We will not be threatened or
intimidated. We are free to go to church to worship our Lord God without
fear of retaliation from someone we see as not all there. You want
closure here it is. We are not sorry. We did nothing wrong. You will
never get what you want from us because we do not feel we owe you
anything. We will continue to be active in our church our community and
our town; if you cannot handle that then that us your problem not ours.
We will not move or change our faith to make you happy and comfortable.
As for the local parish being ‘your’ church. I think the archdiocese
would have a thing to say about that. The church is for everyone. We
have stayed away out of respect to give you time. We have gone to other
churches in town outside of our faith when gas prices or work schedules
prevented us from driving 40+ miles one way to church. However we miss
going to a church of our faith, participating in the mysteries having
that commune with our Lord, so we decided that when we can’t drive out
of town we will go to the local parish. We will not be pushed out of the
church by you, two years is enough time. So as fair warning for the
perceivable future our work schedules make long distance an issue as the
other parish is moving to summer hours and Divine Liturgy starts early.
So we will be attending locally A LOT this summer, we will even show up
on Saturday nights.

And now I run the e-mail from Richard and Tracy through the narc decoder…..

Snap, crackle, pop….

And here it is, all decoded:

Nyssa,

How dare you ever speak a word to anyone about how we bullied, abused and gaslit you for years?  How dare you ever speak a word about Tracy’s abuses of Richard, the children, and others?

Tracy tried her hardest to shut you up so that only you knew what was happening, so we could keep you under our control and even your husband wouldn’t know the truth.  We wanted even him to think you were crazy.  We wanted you to think you imagined it all.

How dare you break out of our control and think for yourself?  How dare you tell your husband and all your friends and family what we did?  How dare you have a mind and will much stronger than we gave you credit for?

You were so nice and easily intimidated that we thought for sure we could twist you every which way we wanted to, and continue to use you and get money/stuff/living space out of you.

It scared us when you showed signs of wanting to kick us out of your house years ago for bullying you and being generally abusive, so we had to re-assert our control and make you think you were in the wrong.  We had to make you think YOU were the one with the problem, so we could stay put till we were good and ready to leave.

Now, a few days ago, you actually stood up for yourself and told us to stay away from you.  But we don’t want to leave you alone.

We’ve always hated your church, and barely stepped foot in it even while we still pretended to be friends with you.  But we want to guilt you into thinking we’re pious Christians who long for the Mysteries, even though we have never lifted a finger to resolve this like Christians, have never behaved like Christians.

We have no interest in actually behaving like Christians, or in getting the Mysteries out of any sense of longing for Christ.  No, this is only so we can harass you and pretend to be pious, by making big shows of making the sign of the Cross, just like Pharisees!

We want to shove up against you, breathe down your neck and snarl in the Communion line.  We want to pretend to everyone at your church that we’re just innocent Christians, so that no one will believe you if you try to tell them what we really are.

We want free reign, so we can control you at church, too, by forcing you to keep quiet and telling everyone you’re a nutcase and not all there.

We know it’s a lie.

We still think you’re easily manipulated through threats.  The truth is that we are afraid of anyone else knowing what kind of people we really are.  We don’t want your priest to know, either, especially since you spoke of showing him Richard’s criminal records.  This is why we repeatedly threaten you and tell you to shut up.

We don’t want you to get help from the church.  We want you to be destroyed because you know what we really are.

We are well aware that you never made threats to retaliate against us.

But just as Tracy did with Todd, when she accused him falsely and smeared him all over the game forum years ago, we will try to make you think you made threats.  We will tell others that you made threats you never actually made, to get them on our side and turn them against you, make them think you’re crazy, just as we successfully got all those people thinking that Todd was crazy.

We have already done that, by telling some person Tracy goes to school with, Chia, that you did these things you never did, that you lied when you told the truth.  She never even met you before.  Then she changed her profile to a passive-aggressive diatribe against you, and “friended” you on Facebook.  But it was only so we can peruse your Facebook for posts about us.

Of course you never threatened to push us out of the church or Fond du Lac.  We just suffer from poor reading comprehension, combined with our fear of somebody exposing our real selves to the whole world.

We have worked very hard to suppress our real selves around other people in Fond du Lac, so that we can make inroads in politics and other circles, but your very knowledge of our true selves–and Richard’s conviction–threatens our feeling of security.

It is all a lie.  But you’re not supposed to recognize that.  You’re supposed to doubt yourself and come under our control.

The true threat is that because you know the truth about us, your very existence is a threat.  We are scared that because of you, that perfect image we want to present the community, will come crashing down as the facade that it is.

You have kept careful notes of our abuses, and that frightens us.  We want you to think even those records are fake.  Even though everything you wrote is the truth.  Even though Richard sent you an e-mail years back which proved your assertions.

This is why, years ago, we tried to make you think you were a stalker for keeping such notes, so you would stop doing that.  This is why we are now trying to gaslight you into thinking that Tracy has never abused anyone and that you’re just lying.

So we will ridicule you and make you think you’re the one with the problem (even though your reactions to being abused and seeing your abuser again are all perfectly normal), because we never matured past elementary school.

We will pretend to be amused by your blog, when in truth it scares us to death–or we never would’ve threatened you.  Especially your knowledge of Richard’s conviction.  We read that page of your blog constantly.

Though your pain, your desperate suffering, caused by us and our actions and words, so much so that only blogging could get it out, does amuse us, because we are sociopaths.

We like to cause pain and refuse to apologize for it, refuse to make it right, because we have no human feeling–except for our own selves.  We laugh at others for needing this strange thing called “closure.”  When we hurt someone else, when we cause them pain, it is hilarious to us.

Though we are so faulty with reading comprehension that we did not get that it’s not “closure” you need, but for us to recognize we have done wrong, and make it right, through apologies and changed behavior.  This would make a Christian restoration of friendship possible.

But that won’t happen, because we are superior to all others and never do anything wrong.  And because we were only pretending to be your friends to begin with.

We even laugh at the collapse of your faith, even though Richard claimed for years to want to be a priest.  Which shows our own faith is actually an act put on to fool you and others, to give us an air of respectability.

We want you to think that even your perception of Richard’s conviction is wrong, even though you have official, public information saying otherwise.  We want you to think Richard is innocent, even though he himself admitted to choking his daughter.  All to further gaslight you into our control.

We easily got over the breakup because you were blameless, so we had nothing to be angry about.  Well, other than the fact that you broke free of us before we could dump you first.

But you had been showing signs of breaking free from our control for years, which is why we let you go so easily.  We knew you would be trouble, that you already saw Tracy’s true nature and were beginning to see Richard’s as well.  We knew you may even report us to the police or Social Services–which you did eventually do.  That scared us.

We would never admit to being to blame for the suffering you’ve gone through.  It’s your fault, after all.  It’s never the abuser’s fault.  How dare you try to make us take responsibility for how we treat and hurt people, including our own children?  We are perfect, can’t you tell?  It’s never our fault when we abuse someone!  It’s always the fault of the person we abuse!

It infuriates us that you are sticking up for yourself and telling about what happened!  So we will make empty threats, hoping to shut you up, even though we know we could never have the legal basis to carry them through, and no lawyer would take us on because we have no case or money!  We talk about Constitutional Rights, but that’s for US, not for you!

How dare you insist that we never contact you?  Just by sending this e-mail we are violating your rights and request to be left alone!  Because we don’t care about anybody but ourselves.

–Richard and Tracy Doe

Ah, that was therapeutic.  This is a good way to turn the horrid e-mails/messages sent to you by your abuser, into a piece of see-through garbage that no longer bothers you.

Attempting to obtain closure with an abusive, narcissistic and/or borderline woman (i.e., Crazy) is almost always a maddening exercise in futility.

You’re not going to get closure with this kind of woman for several reasons. First, she doesn’t meet the three most important prerequisites for giving and receiving closure:

  1. A reasonable degree of sanity
  2. A foothold in reality
  3. Empathy

Being able to give an ex closure means you’re able to accept your share of responsibility for the demise of the relationship and when has your BPD and/or NPD ex ever taken responsibility for her behavior, especially when she was clearly in the wrong?

…I hate to break it to you, but if you’re waiting for this to happen or, heaven forbid, an apology from this woman; IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. If you try to get closure from your NPD and/or BPD ex by detailing the many ways she hurt and tortured you, she’s unlikely to acknowledge what she did. –Dr. Tara, Shrink4Men, There is No Closure with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman

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And one more lie from Wormtongue falls crashing to the ground (gaslighting)

I posted this on Facebook the other day.  I post it here as an example of how abusers gaslight you–but that you must not believe it:

Just had a Writer’s Club meeting on journaling/diaries. Also mentioned was the treasure trove of a deceased mother’s letters: both to and from people, because she saved drafts of the letters she wrote.

We were encouraged to keep journals of our lives, to save letters.

It was healing and affirming for me: I have saved journals and letters to/from people ever since I was a kid.

It’s a record of my life, a place to vent and sort out, a place to remember.

My letters to people record things I have done and thought, while letters from friends are to be treasured, not tossed out like trash. The letters are all part of the journal.

I am an introvert who needs to reflect.

I have always admired Laura Ingalls Wilder, but knew that I could not write memoirs like hers without keeping records.

I also want to have this record in case my memories fade in old age.

One day, my ex-friend Richard found out about this. So publicly on his blog, and then the next day in person, he called me “creepy” for saving all my letters. Tracy even made fun of me for it!

Then there was Shawn from college, who scolded me for keeping a diary. He said that important memories should not be written down. He also psychologically abused me, so I think these people were just scared of what might be in my journals.

As I heard today (and already knew), my archives/journals are perfectly normal–especially for writers–and encouraged. The saving of memories is considered valuable, whether for yourself or for posterity.

I must drain the poison of psychological abuse, not allow myself to take any of it to heart and spoil this wonderful thing I have always loved to do.

My friends said things like, “I do the same thing,” it’s beautiful to save letters/journals, who cares what other people think about what you do with your own life.  The president of the club wrote, “Nicely said, Nyssa.”

And THAT is what real friends say to you.  They encourage you, don’t try to tear you down.  Even if they criticize you, you can tell they have your best interests at heart.  Many times, good friends have criticized me, but they are still my friends, and I realize why they said what they did, even if I disagree.

Maybe once in a while a good friend has indeed been too harsh, but this was a rare event in a normally loving friendship, so I can let it go–and it does not repeat itself.

In the cases of Richard and Tracy, and Shawn, the “friendship” was abusive, so the attacks were repeated, whether covert (little things said or gestures that shake your confidence) or overt (rages, angry criticism).

It also demonstrates to me just how entrenched I was in Richard’s narcissistic web.

Somehow he had me so anxious to have his good opinion that when he’d gaslight me like this–tell me some normal behavior (for writers/introverts/NVLDers/Americans/Christians) was “creepy” or “wrong” or “offensive”–it would devastate me.

I would resist and feel the need to defend myself, while some small part of me would think, “What if he’s right?”

But right here is a perfect example that no, he’s NOT right.  That he did NOT have my best interests at heart, that he and Tracy were trying to warp my mind.

I post here so that others can see a real-life example of gaslighting, recognize it in their own lives, and resist the lies of Wormtongue.  Don’t let those lies hamper your resolve to get away from the abuse, or work their poison in your mind long after the abuser is gone.

For an excellent fictional example of what abusers do to your mind, see Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, and how Wormtongue spun a deceitful web around a king, until the king was emotionally crippled and unable to fight.  This is what your own abuser is doing to you, so slowly you don’t notice it.

Even now I sometimes feel the effects of all the Wormtongues I’ve encountered through the years.  But over time, their webs are disintegrating and falling away, leaving my mind clear and able to recognize what they were doing.

I no longer feel the need to defend myself in my mind against Richard and Tracy calling me “creepy” for saving my letters.  There is no need, because what they said was absolutely ridiculous.  If I could haul them in front of the Writer’s Club, they would get thoroughly chastised for spewing such rubbish.

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Friends tell me Phil is controlling–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 8

When we went to school events, Charles put his arm around me and I didn’t mind, but I feared other guys would see this as a sign that I was “off-limits.”  I wasn’t: We were both allowed to date anybody else we wanted.

That’s what we meant by not being serious, by taking it slowly, by being, as Charles told Pearl, “very casual.”  And I wanted to date at least two other guys at the time, including Mike.

Helene and her best friend Kay became my friends junior year through Phil, who liked to sit with them at lunch.  They met in Sophomore Honors and liked him then, but now they were my friends as well, and Helene didn’t like him so much.

Helene said, “Phil has been talking to Kay.  I think he sees her as a sister.”  That might explain why she got quiet when I said Phil was a jerk.  What truth twisting did he tell her?

Helene said Catherine told her Phil and Persephone were dating.  Helene’s thoughts:

“It shows he misses you….You shine compared to her….It confirms my worst fears about him.  I really think little of a person who–like a person who gets a divorce and then goes out and finds someone else right away.  They don’t want to work on the relationship they have, and they go out and find another one?…He’s going to regret it.” 

(Pearl said that Persephone’s going to regret it–which turned out to be true, a year later.)  I said Phil didn’t want a feminist; Helene noted that Persephone was extremely feminist.

Helene also said, “Last year, after you two got engaged, Phil came to us [her and Kay] once and said you had an argument but worked it out.  But he complained that you wouldn’t just do whatever he wanted.  We saw this as controlling, and hoped you would realize this before you married him.”

I remembered that argument.  It was over whether or not I could listen to a rock station in the minivan, one which only came in outside the campus and played better songs than any other station.  Remember, this was in the Stone Ages when college kids couldn’t just hook up to campus Internet and pull in a webstream whenever they wanted.

I found the following paragraphs in The Psychology of Romantic Love by Nathaniel Branden:

Imagine that an individual feels, perhaps beneath the level of conscious awareness, that he or she significantly lacks worth, is not lovable, is not a person who can inspire devotion for any sustained length of time.

Simultaneously, this individual desires love, pursues love, hopes and dreams to find love.

Let us suppose this person is a man.  He finds a woman he cares for, she seems to care for him, they are happy, excited, and stimulated in each other’s presence–and for a time it seems that his dream is to be fulfilled.

But deep in his psyche a time bomb is ticking away–the belief that he is inherently unlovable.

This time bomb provokes him to destroy his relationship.  He may do this in any number of ways.  He may endlessly demand reassurance.  He may become excessively possessive and jealous.

He may behave cruelly to ‘test’ the depth of her devotion to him. [Phil once told me this was why things had gotten so bad.  It’s in my diary.]

He may make self-deprecating comments and wait for her to correct him. [Phil did this all the time.]

He may tell her he does not deserve her and tell her again and again and again.  [Yep.]

He may tell her that no woman can be trusted and that all women are fickle.  [He refused to let me meet his “vampire friend S–,” with the fear that I’d fall for S–.  And he didn’t believe me when I said I would never leave him even if I found a “soul mate.”]

He may find endless excuses to criticize her, to reject her before she can reject him.  He may attempt to control and manipulate her by making her feel guilty, thereby hoping to bind her to him.  He may become silent, withdrawn, preoccupied, throwing up barriers she cannot penetrate.  [This whole paragraph sounds like Phil over the course of our relationship.]

After a while, perhaps, she has had enough; she is exhausted; he has worn her out.  She leaves him.

He feels desolate, depressed, crushed, devastated.  It is wonderful.  He has been proven right.  The world is the way he always knew it was.  ‘They’re writing songs of love, but not for me.’  But how satisfying it is to know that one understands the nature of reality!

Suppose that, despite his best efforts, he cannot drive her away.  Perhaps she believes in him, sees his potential.  [That was me.]

Or perhaps she has a masochistic streak that requires that she be involved with such a man.  She clings to him; she keeps reassuring him.  Her devotion grows stronger, no matter what he does.

She simply does not understand the nature of the universe as he perceives it.  She does not grasp that no one can love him.

In continuing to love him, she presents him with a problem: She confounds his view of reality.  He needs a solution.  He needs a way out.

He finds it.  He decides that he has fallen out of love with her.  Or he tells himself that she bores him.  Or he tells himself that he is now in love with someone else.  Or he tells himself that love does not interest him.

The particular choice does not matter; the net effect is the same: in the end, he is alone again–the way he always ‘knew’ he would be.

Then, once more, he can dream of finding love–he can look for a new woman–so that he can play out the drama all over again.

It is not essential, of course, that his relationship end so conclusively.  A literal separation may not be necessary.  He may be willing to allow a relationship to continue, providing both he and his partner are unhappy.  This is a compromise he can live with.  It is as good as being alone and abandoned–almost. –p. 128-129

(According to the author website, this book is now out of print, but you can find it at the above Amazon link.)

Around this time, I saw Phil with his head on Persephone’s shoulder in the cafeteria.  It made me sick.  I was glad to have Charles around.

Charles and I were taking things very slow and casual, while Phil just seemed to jump from one serious relationship to another.  The bed wasn’t even cold before he started dating her!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Different kinds of abuse–same feelings: How Mark Driscoll reminds me of Tracy, Phil, and others

One reason why I read blogs and articles of all different kinds of abuse, is that I find the reactions of the abuse victims are the same everywhere.

Of course you’ll have differences here and there: Being molested by a parent is not the same as being psychologically manipulated by an ex-boyfriend, for example.

But everywhere you find the same common themes: loss of trust, hurt, pain, confusion, longing for the abuser to acknowledge the abuse and make up for it.

The other day, I read this account of narcissistic abuse and a smear campaign at Mars Hill Church:

My Story by Jonna Petry

Her husband was a pastor with the church for a time, until he was abandoned and smeared by Mark Driscoll.

In this and in other stories I’ve read about abuse at Mars Hill Church, I was struck all along by things that sounded very familiar, in my own experiences with narcissistic abuse, from exes (especially Phil) and from Richard and Tracy:

  • A person/place who at first seemed like God’s gift to you.
  • Pressure to conform.
  • Shunning someone you are told is bad.
  • Abuse and getting kicked out for questioning, disagreeing, speaking up about problems.
  • A person who throws tantrums and verbally abuses you for the slightest offenses, even when the offense is only in his own mind.
  • A smear campaign.
  • Others encouraged to shun you.
  • A kangaroo court in which you have no real chance to defend yourself.
  • Others put through the same abuse if they stick up for you.
  • A “conference” which is meant not to hear your side or your grievances, but to coerce you into agreeing that the abuse against you is justified.
  • A refusal of the abusers to admit they’ve done anything wrong.  As Driscoll and his henchman wrote to Jonna and her husband, “We still believe we have done nothing wrong.”
  • Begging others to help, but no one will.
  • Discovering this abuse is a pattern, that it neither began nor ended with you.

The hurt, pain and confusion as you long desperately for reconciliation:

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation.

We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships.

This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends.

How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

The PTSD and shaking of faith:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated.

I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children.

If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.

I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork.

I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right?

But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this?

Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust.

Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

At the beginning, Jonna wrote,

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do.  But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.”

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

At the end, she wrote things which encourage me to continue telling the story of Richard/Tracy–and express the same hope I hold, that one day my abusers will recognize their abuse and change:

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock.

This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction.

We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God. As my husband stated earlier–if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

“People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials.

“It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification.

“In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically.

“Sometimes God in his providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.”

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included.  To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future.

We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse.

Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say nor do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots.

Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

We are all in this together, no matter what kind of abuse we suffered, or from whom.

We did not deserve it, and need to learn and remember this.  We need to put the responsibility for the abuse, and our subsequent hurt and pain, where it belongs–on the abuser–and take none for ourselves.

And we need to NOT look at each other and think, “I got it worse than you, so why should I bother with your story and pain?”

We also need to learn from each other, take courage from each other to speak up and tell our stories, and heal each other.

 

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