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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“The violent intimidate the gentle”: I found this poem on “my” narcissists

Every week, I back up my files onto an external drive called a My Book.  I just finished backing up my word processor files.  While scrolling through them, I found a forgotten little file which I last modified on September 27, 2010.  I opened it up to find out what it was.

It was just written to vent privately about this, and most of it is just a rant I want to keep private.  But I also found this poem I want to share, because for a first draft of a rant-poem, it was better than I expected.  I suppose fellow abuse/narcissist victims can find something in it for themselves.  Also, it demonstrates the fear I was in during that time period, and the intense feeling of betrayal:

the violent intimidate the gentle
my idol has feet of clay
the hitting could turn on us
your threats have turned us away
betrayal by one who was dearly loved
you know what really happened
my gosh what is she doing to the children
if we report it we will be beaten
where is the love?
where is the Christian charity?
where is the fight against evil passions?
why must I take all the blame?
where is the friendship that was lost?
it’s all been blown away
you hurt the ones you love
and the ones you hate
and they need to grow up and take it

 

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Reflecting on A Year Ago….

In preparation for the third Hobbit movie, my family has been watching the previous two installments.  Tonight, we saw movie #2.  As Bilbo went up against the dragon, I remembered where I was last year as I watched this in the theater:

I was just beginning to revise and re-post the story of Richard and Tracy.  I saw my depression, Richard’s betrayal, my loss of a best/close friend (Richard) because of this, discovering that my spiritual mentor (Richard) was never actually my friend, loneliness, doubts about God, and Tracy’s bullying and abuse, as the Dragon.

I was Bilbo fighting it, wondering how I would ever get out of it.  I was Bilbo telling my story now, so others can know what happened and glean their own lessons from it, for fighting their own dragon.

Tonight, as I watched the dragon again, and little Bilbo finding his courage to fight goblins, Gollum and the dragon, I realized that those feelings were no longer in my head.

(I also noted that I could understand people’s expressions much better now.  As a child/teenager, I often said I preferred books so I could find out what people were thinking.  Now I can see it better.)

Sure my story is still about the dragon I had to face with courage and fortitude.  But it is now a story that is done, just as Bilbo could relate his story years later without the fear he once felt as the events took place.

The dragon has been slain.  The depression is gone, nothing now but a distant memory, not even a recent one anymore.

The loneliness still comes up now and again, but is diminished because I am building various friendships and acquaintances at various levels now.

Somebody in the writer’s group called me his friend, and he and his dad cry out welcomes when I come in.  The president said he likes my quiet and respectful demeanor, and there is no reason to change that because some people don’t understand it.

Richard’s betrayal only stings a little bit now.  It still leaves me with sadness at times, but more and more over the years since, I have realized the magnitude not only of his betrayal, but of his deceptions.  I see only too clearly the Pharisee behind the false piety.

I just plain don’t care anymore.

Just as I used to feel so hurt after severed relationships that I wanted to die, but eventually, I forgot all about that person, and moved on.  I might e-mail an ex occasionally or friend him on Facebook, but all the pain, hurt and even desire for his company, is gone.

Just as I was sad when my former boss left the company in a spectacularly bad fashion, and I missed him, but now I barely ever think of him.  Especially after I found out his wife divorced him for being abusive, and he went to jail for threatening and violent behavior.

I still have many doubts about God, and often about Orthodoxy as well, but I have stayed put in my church.

In it are people, services and events connecting me to this church, as they have begun to depend on my husband and me for many things: Bible readings, making candles, running the website, washing dishes at Greekfest, etc.

I feel that if I left, many people would be not only disappointed, but in the lurch.

I was once scared of Tracy.  This is why I never spoke up to her face about her abuses of others or her treatment of me.  This is why I did not stand up when she smacked her toddler upside the head, or started yanking/spanking/slapping/screaming at two little girls who had done absolutely nothing wrong.

I feared what she would do to me if I did speak up.  This is why I went into a tailspin of fear after she found my blog, threatened and began stalking me.

Now I no longer fear her.

Heck, now she’s become more of a symbol to me than a real person: a symbol of a pathetically self-deceived abuser who tries to force everyone to see her as what she wishes she were.  But instead of fear and loathing, now I feel something else:

Sometimes, it’s a laugh at how pitiful her antics were, at her pathetic attempts to be superior and keep others under her control, at how obvious she was.

Sometimes, it’s fascination at how someone can act the way she does, as I study the Cluster B disorders which obviously drive her behavior, no longer as an abuse victim but like a curious scientist.

But it’s a feeling which is oddly divorced from the fact that her abuses happened to me.  It’s not forgiveness exactly, but more like when you’ve watched a movie: You feel pain, anger, joy, etc., while watching the movie, as if you were the characters.

But when the movie is over, these emotions are now detached from you because it was only a movie, and the characters live only in one’s imagination.

In my case, the events and things I described really happened, and they happened to me, but when I revise old posts or remember something, I feel as if it were only a movie I watched once long ago.

Basically, the same way I feel when revising or writing memoirs about abuse or other things.

If these people ever repent of what they did, my Orthodox faith compels me to forgive.  So I have one little window perpetually open for that, never closing it because that could condemn me to Hell. 

I know they will read this, and just want to be clear on that in case–maybe twenty or thirty years from now–they reflect on their actions and feel remorse out of fear of Hell. 

But forgiveness does NOT necessarily mean restoring friendship.  I no longer have that pull toward Richard which would make me desire friendship in the least.

But the healing has finally come, without forgiveness.  The moving on.  The dismissal of all former feelings of fear and sadness, with no trace left over.  Like when every last bit of snow is finally gone mid-spring, even from the mall parking lot.

The dragon is gone and nothing is left but the gold.

 

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We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–January 1995, Part 4

Mike started eating one banana per day, usually at lunch.  I think it was a health thing.  It seemed to make him bouncier than usual.

****

My dad sent us an old modem to hook up to Pearl’s computer.  It was 2400 baud, already ancient by then, when 14.4K was top of the line.  He also sent his old, outdated copy of Procomm, without all the fun perks of the later versions.  It was fine for Pearl’s 8088 computer, which didn’t have Windows.

We just needed a phone cord and someone to help us hook the thing up.  It wasn’t a simple box like our first modems were, but confusing and intimidating: you actually put it in the computer.

Mike’s friend Brent came over one night to install the modem, after January 27 and before February 7.  I had a lot of fun chatting with Brent about AOL and modems and such as he set everything up.

I think there were no problems putting the modem in, but when Brent tried to use his introductory AOL disc, it refused to work.  Mike tried calling the tech support number, but was put on hold for an excruciatingly long time.

When he finally got to talk to someone, it didn’t help.  Somehow, Brent finally figured out the problem and got the disc to work.

We were now in business.  Dad gave me two S– BBS numbers from one of his computer magazines.  One may have been for Spatula City, a once-popular BBS run by Jennifer’s boyfriend Jason.  The other was for TCB.

Spatula City was more an old-style BBS, but this TCB amazed us.  It amazed Pearl and Sharon because they’d never been on BBS’s before, but it amazed me because I’d never seen such a fun BBS before.  Even PanOptic Net (Dr. Who-based BBS in South Bend) had never been like this.

It also charged a fee, unlike any other BBS I’d ever used more than once.  The old-style, free BBS’s like Spatula City and PanOptic Net were now on the decline, because BBS’s were starting to include expensive Internet access and multiple lines.

TCB hadn’t yet gotten up to twenty-some lines, but it was already close.  Every other BBS I ever used, could only allow one user on at one time.

The commands were easy to use, much easier than on PanOptic Net.  You could go into Teleconference and find colorful letters, fun action words, and tons of people.

Sharon and Pearl sat there “oohing” and “aahing” as I set up a demo account and explored the BBS.  (In those days, TCB let you do almost everything in the short-term demo account, before you decided whether or not to set up a paying account.  Later on, the demo class allowed for very little, and wasn’t fun at all.)

Jason also helped us out, telling us about other BBS’s and giving us his Spatula City handle, Antilles.  Spatula City wasn’t working right for a few days, so we didn’t get to see why it was so popular.

Jason also told us my ex Peter ran a board named Dementia.  He warned us that if we found a Red Dwarf on TCB, it was him.  (This is a fake handle.  I think Peter got his actual handle from Babylon 5.)

He said all this with an ominous tone, as if he thought Peter was scary.  I don’t know if he knew about my history with Peter, but he might have, because he was now dating my old pledge sister Jennifer and used to date Cindy and Catherine.

****

Pearl, Sharon and I got home one night fall semester, possibly from an InterVarsity activity, and Tara said, “Pearl, some guy named Shawn called.”

We were all like, Shawn?  Shawn???  There’s a blast from the past!

We sure weren’t expecting to hear from HIM!

He probably called Pearl again, and must have gotten my number from her.  He called me later, and we had a long conversation about how our lives had gone since he left.  He said he was on Prozac now.  He sounded a slightly deranged sort of happy.

He said, “I haven’t had a girlfriend in about two years, and no one seems interested in dating me.”

When I told Pearl about this later, we both said, “Girlfriend?”  The only girlfriend he could have had two years ago was me!  I thought he always told me I wasn’t his girlfriend?

Pearl said, “That’s fishy.  Maybe it shows there was something going on there.  Maybe now he thinks of you as an ex-girlfriend?”

I said, “If he didn’t think of me as a girlfriend before, then why did he call me one, now?”

“I always knew there was something there he wasn’t admitting to.”

A few years later, I read an article in Mademoiselle or Glamour magazine about this very phenomenon. The author had been in several situations where the guy would never say, while they were dating, that they were actually dating or seeing each other or hanging out or anything, or introduce her to friends as anything but a friend.  But years later he’d refer to her as an ex-girlfriend!  So it happens.

But back to the phone call.  While I sat at the desk in my room, I told him about the spiritual marriage.  It came up because, when he mentioned things we’d done, I said it could have been much worse but it wasn’t.

I told Shawn we were common-law married, so he wouldn’t think less of me for “giving it up without a wedding ring.”

(I heard that phrase on The Cosby Show once, the fantasy episode in which the men started getting pregnant and not the women.  Hey!  The men in the opening news segment got pregnant in Oconomowoc, WI, close to where I live now!  🙂  )

Shawn said, “So now there are only a few virgins left at Roanoke!” Meaning a few of my friends–and not me anymore.

Shawn was one person I could talk to about these things.  We had stirred up the fire between ourselves; now I had gone on to another guy with that fire still burning.

Shawn didn’t try to get back with me now that I was single again, but that was just as well, because I had moved on–and would soon meet the love of my life.

Shawn called me again the week of January 22, at one in the morning.  Sharon was asleep at the time, and not too happy about having to jump down off her bed to answer the phone.  I took the phone into the hall, and whispered,

“You shouldn’t call so late, Shawn!”

He said, “You always stayed up late before.”

“But I’m not rooming with Clarissa anymore.  I have roommates now who can hear me talk on the phone!”  (Reminder: Clarissa was mostly deaf and took out her hearing aid at night.)

I talked low on the phone, so my roommates wouldn’t get woken up.

At some point he started asking me, “What is sex like?”

When I told him, I could hear in his voice that it was turning him on.  It creeped me out, like I was his 1-900-phone-sex operator.

He kept asking me questions about it, so I said, “Why do you keep asking me these questions?”

Finally, the conversation finished.  Of course, that was nothing compared to those conversations we used to have till 3, 4, or 5 am!

He had called us in the first place because I sent him a Christmas card; I believe he called the switchboard to get our new phone numbers.  He called again the next night because I couldn’t talk to him at one in the morning.

I asked, “Why are you calling me all of a sudden?  I thought you said you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”

He said, “After my brother died, I decided I’d better try to keep the friends I have.”

****

The Vampire never wrote me, though he said he’d try to write every week.  And I couldn’t write him unless he wrote me, because I didn’t have his address.  He shouldn’t have lost mine, since he wrote it in a notebook with all his BBS numbers, and he probably guarded that notebook well.  Oh, well, 20 years later I finally found him on Facebook.  🙂

****

We finally had another party in the apartment, possibly on January 21.  It was a big one, and fun.  We played games in two rooms, and had pizza and chips and pop.  (No, we never had wild, drunken revels.  Who needs those to have fun?)  Someone even brought Jenga.  We wanted the party to be big and take up several rooms, each with a different activity, just as Tanya’s Halloween party did.

I decided to sit out during Taboo.  Charles did the same because he didn’t like Taboo.  But I did because we played it every time we had a party at Roanoke, so I knew practically all the answers now.

I’d called one long-lost friend over Christmas Break.  Her mom answered and sounded shocked that an old friend from high school was calling.  I left a message; however, my friend never called back.  I don’t know why.

I wrote to her, my middle school friend Josh and another old high school friend; no letters came in reply.  When I found Josh online over Spring Break, he said he sent letters and cards to high school classmates, too, but none of them answered.

He said about my other friend, “I’m sure he’ll write ya,” but he didn’t–and neither did anybody else.  I wrote other letters to my male friend, but he didn’t answer those, either.

But funny how times change: I later found all of them on Facebook.  No longer do we have to depend on the old method of exchanging letters or phone calls to reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen in years, friends who may forget who you are or forget to call/write back, or never get your note.

It’s even better than the old Internet standby of e-mail, which can also be easily forgotten.  Facebook is much better because you can interact with your old friends with immediacy, even if you have not seen them in 20 years and live far apart.

****

Astrid began sending me letters because I mentioned that I wanted some.  I didn’t mean letters of the alphabet, but she began sending me one alphabet letter at a time through the on-campus mail, until all together they made up a quote from her new poster.  I’d have to find all the letters to tell you what the quote was.

Pearl and Sharon decided to stay another year and take on another major, because they didn’t want to leave Roanoke yet.  I, on the other hand, was sick of Roanoke, and didn’t want to do this.  And it would have meant more money to pay back in student loans.

****

On the 27th, I wrote to my friend Becky,

Sometimes these days I feel like several of my friends, who know about the common-law thing, are judging me.  The things they say–It’s as if they mean, “You’ve done a terrible thing–premarital you-know-what–and we thought you were more moral than us!  You’ve fallen, fallen!”

It makes me want to grab them and say, “Hey!  According to my research, it was a common-law marriage!  I didn’t sleep with him until we were c-l married, so it wasn’t premarital or anything!  Stop talking to me like I’m a fallen woman!”

–Since, after all, we began calling ourselves married, which is all you have to do. I’ve told them that, but they still talk this way.  I don’t believe I’ve broken God’s commandments because we were c-l married, but when they judge me, I feel like I have.  It really frustrates me.

I won’t write what Becky replied, because it’s private.  But she and Catherine were both far more understanding.

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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