violence

E-Mails to Friends About the Incident, written in first two months

I wrote to my friend Mike, in whom I had been confiding,

Things are at an end now with my friend and me.  Mistakes were made and the wife said all sorts of angry things that showed how she REALLY feels about me.  I don’t understand how somebody can be so venomous.

It also makes me wish that, knowing as he probably did how she felt, instead of making me endure the agony of constantly trying to be friendly with her when I was afraid of her temper, the years of tears over finding out she’s upset over something I thought was resolved or okay–I really wish he had just ended the friendship a few years ago.

He and Jeff had hoped to try to get things smoothed over, and told me to lie low for a few days.  But she came out with such nastiness [the second e-mail she sent Jeff] that told me no, it’s time to go.

And now I feel so lonely and heartbroken, wishing I had a friend here in Fond du Lac who could take my friend’s place.  Preferably a woman.  😛

I wrote to my mother,

I don’t know if [my brother or niece] has mentioned anything, since I vented about it a bit on Facebook.  But things are at an end between Richard’s family and mine.  I’ve told you before about the troubles I had with Tracy.  They just got to a boiling point and became intolerable.

Just when I’d think everything was fine, I’d discover that she was still mad at me.  She’s been snipping and snapping at me for months just for little things I wrote on Facebook, or for taking a bag of sunscreen and bugspray with me when we sat outside on Memorial Day.

I wrote an e-mail that she misunderstood and now I realize that it was easy to misunderstand (even Jeff misunderstood it), but Richard should’ve been able to explain it to her.  If she had only asked, I could’ve explained it to her.

But no, she just went on a rampage and said it was time for us all to sit down and have a “conference” while she, essentially, yelled and screamed at me.  She said the friendship wasn’t over, we just needed to have this conference while she said things she’d wanted to say for a long time.

So Jeff and I both said, NO.  There will be no conference. This friendship is OVER.

Something about my personality must rub her the wrong way, because she says she has all these terrible grievances against me–things which are far worse than the fact that she swore at me–but I always tried to be nice to her.

I gave her things like lilies or tomatoes, said she looked pretty, invited her to come over some time to watch a movie, paid her electric bill once, joked with her, laughed about husbands with her, watched her kids, told Jeff when she needed a ride because their car broke down yet again, etc.

But apparently I was just horrible to her somehow.  I just don’t get it at all.  Neither does Jeff, who has nearly always been there whenever I was with her.

Neither does anybody he vents about it to.  They’re like, “Nyssa?  Why would anybody have a problem with Nyssa?  She’s not offensive!”  [One person was shocked that anybody would cuss at me like that.]

She blew up at me via e-mail and told me not to go “crying to Jeff,” told Jeff about it, he tried to calm her down and make apologies and stuff (since I was advised to lie low), she got even worse.  In the end, Jeff and I looked at each other and decided simultaneously, we can’t do this anymore.

We’re both heartbroken, me because I lost my best friend (Richard) after all the effort I’ve put into this friendship, Jeff because he thought our friendship was worth far more than to just let us walk away.

What did Tracy say when Jeff went over to tell them it was over and get some books I lent Richard?  “Give him the books so we can get back to our movie.”  ?!?!?!?!

We’re not the first friends she’s driven off.  We’re not even the second.  We wonder how long it’ll be before Richard realizes that she’s driving his friends away left and right.  They’ve only been married for several years and this has happened.

We’re going to miss the girls.  Our son probably will, too.  He’s always loved playing with them and making them little presents.

I’m heartbroken that Richard would let her get like this with me, that he keeps letting her drive off his friends. 

I thought our friendship meant more to him than that.  He once said I was the most awesome person he knew. 

But he just let his wife turn into a shrew and drive me away.  While he enabled it and listened to her and just would not listen to me.

Because of friend loyalty I didn’t want to breathe a word of this to anyone besides Jeff, before.  But they are FILTHY housekeepers.

Every time I went over there, I had to clean the bathroom floor and toilet seat and part of the toilet before I could even go to the bathroom!

[Jeff saw the filth, too, and made sure to never sit down when he used their toilet.]

And there was no wastebasket in there [to throw away the filthy paper after I cleaned the toilet seat, so I had to flush it].

And when her mother (who’s worse than her, I hear) [that refers to the BPD] comes over to visit and starts cleaning the filth, they get furious with her.

And the way Tracy treats those kids and Richard is just terrible.  I won’t be calling social services because that would just be vindictive.  But I am glad to not be dealing with THAT anymore….

Imagine what it was like for me trying to keep the mess at bay while they were here, while they just let their clothes pile up on the floor despite the clothes basket I bought.

It took me at least a week to clean up the house after they left.  And a cockroach came along with them.  Fortunately, the cockroach has long since disappeared.

Her family is so screwed up that I wonder if there’s something wrong with [Tracy] mentally. 

[Her mother had mental problems, and I did not yet know about narcissist and borderline personality disorders, which would both explain Tracy’s behavior.]

Based on what she wrote on her Facebook page right before I deleted and blocked her from my friends list, she’s probably feeling absolutely wonderful and telling her family how she finally said things that “needed to be said.” 

Yeah, whatever, lady.  And now you’re alone without the friends who would do anything for your family and once moved heaven and earth to [get money we didn’t have, to do a thing, that prevented catastrophe in her family].

I’m without a best friend in Fond du Lac now, and that’s lonely.  But we’re trying to reconnect with some people so we won’t be lonely for long.

Catherine’s husband has crazy work schedules, which is the only reason we don’t see them much, since it’s hard to accommodate them with a young child who needs an 8:30 bedtime.  We’re trying to see them again.

And my friend Mike still e-mails me and chats with me on Facebook.  Clarissa and Astrid sometimes do as well.  Sharon doesn’t have Internet, so she rarely shows up, but we were supposed to be getting together this summer.  I thought Richard was my bestest friend ever (besides Jeff, of course), but I guess these are far better.

Jeff is very supportive–well, heck, we’re going through this together….

Richard would tell me that screaming at kids is necessary, but his kids don’t even do housework when they’re told.  Our son needs only a list of chores written on a little slate each morning, and off he goes to do them.

So our household is nice and peaceful, and we’re leaning on each other through this.

I talked with Mike on Facebook chat around July 4, 2010.  I told him how Tracy would smack Richard around

and that Richard said if she ever hit his face, he’d say she’s no longer a woman, and hit back. 

Mike said things like, “Why would you want to be friends with them?  These people are TOXIC!” 

I told him how Tracy abused the kids, so he–a pastor and, at one time, a worker in a domestic violence shelter–urged me to report them. 

I said, “I don’t want to be vindictive.” 

He replied, “Don’t let friendship be more important than those children!”

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

 

Part Four: Their DARVO lies lead us to break off relations with our abusers

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

Both Richard and Tracy–first Richard when Jeff spoke to him, then Tracy in the e-mail to Jeff–claimed that 99% of everyone else in the world would have reacted even more fiercely than Tracy had done during the “incident” which ended the friendship, to the e-mail I had written.

What kind of horrid, abusive people do they normally hang out with, anyway, to think this?

Meanwhile, Jeff reacted very differently.  Do remember that he is Tracy’s counterpart, therefore the one to whom I compare her behavior.

The very same things that threw Tracy into furious rages, Jeff barely even raised an eyebrow about.  

What I actually did, did not deserve even half of the reaction it got.  To this day I look back on the “shoulder thing” and the hugs and I’m baffled at Tracy’s reactions.  Does she live in a bubble where no one can touch anyone with kindness and caring unless they’re family?

Also, note that here, as before when Richard told me that 90% of the world would disagree with me that the man is not responsible for all problems in a marriage, Richard and Tracy were now claiming that most of the world would agree with them–as if somehow this made their view right and mine wrong.

But what about the way men in much of the world think women should be treated, with women subservient, so any problems in the marriage can be solved by the man asserting his dominance and swacking her over the head?

What about the tyranny of the majority?

And how do they know most of the world disagrees with me?  Have they done a poll?

This is typical of abusers, claiming that their abuse is kind compared to what other people would have done to you for your “crimes.”

The appeals to these hypothetical “others,” the Grand Society who would treat you far worse for what you have supposedly done, to make you think you should be grateful for the “mild” way he’s abused you.

The minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying of the abuse to make the victim seem like the abuser, or too sensitive, or too immature to accept responsibility for her behavior.  (Ironic, isn’t it?)  

He’s “only” yelled and screamed at you.  Or “only” hit you.  Or “only” cussed at and belittled you for your horrible behavior. 

The slaveowner in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl did exactly this to Linda, telling her other masters would have killed her on the spot for saying she despised him.

Don’t you dare go and tell anybody how I’ve treated you.  Don’t tell your mother I touched you like this.  

Or don’t tell the police I’m slapping you around.  

Or don’t go crying to your friends/husband/ boss/teacher about how I’m beating you down verbally or physically, because I don’t need the headache.

(That’s what Tracy wrote to me: “Don’t go crying to Jeff about this because we don’t need the headache.”)  

Don’t tell your teacher or the police that I nearly choked you to death.  You deserve what you got….

THESE ARE LIES!

Abusers of any stripe deserve to be brought into the light and their deeds exposed.

The major tactics we use in maintaining our denial are minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying. The effect of these tactics is to redefine what happened, what is acceptable, and what is harmful in such a way that ultimately any act, no matter how hideous, can be carried out.

Minimizing distances us from the damage we caused by claiming that the damage wasn’t as bad as it actually was. “I didn’t beat her up, I just pushed her.”

By minimizing the damage we have caused, we can then blame the victim for “exaggerating” the abuse or accuse the victim of simply making the whole thing up, depending on the nature of the evidence we face.

If there is enough evidence to prove that we have done something wrong, we can use partial repentance: “I’ll accept the responsibility of anything you can prove I did, and nothing more.”

Rationalizing is lying to oneself about what was done to make it seem acceptable — telling ourselves rational (sounding) lies if you will.

“She’s lucky I only hit her once. Anybody else would have beaten the crap out of her.”

This lying becomes more and more practiced until we can convince ourselves of anything — particularly when the pain of admitting the truth of what we’ve done becomes larger and harder to deal with.

Justifying is explaining why it was okay to do what was done. “It was okay for me to tell her that I would kill her (justifying) because she was becoming so upset and she had to shut up before she disturbed the neighbors (rationalizing) and I didn’t really mean it anyway (minimizing). She knows I could never hurt her.”

Part of the reason for maintaining denial is that when we are abusing others we are frequently incapable of separating ourselves from our behavior, and therefor to admit that the behavior is bad is to make us bad as well. Nobody wants to think of themselves as bad, so we don’t think about things that way. —Denial

Both of them were, basically, blaming me for Tracy’s actions.  But the responsibility for Tracy’s behavior is on Tracy, not me.  

She could have chosen to step back, calm down, and then find out what was REALLY going on, before (over)reacting.  This would have led to her getting the truth, (hopefully) accepting it, and then the preservation of the friendship.

This is DARVO, or deny, attack, and reverse victim-offender.  This is abusers trying to silence their victim.  Classic abusive behavior.

Despite the verbal barrage I received from Tracy over many e-mails on that day and on 8/1/10 (in the next chapter), I did my best to remain calm, make my own apologies, and be mature.

But, like the various cyberbullies I’ve come across on gaming forums and in chat rooms, there was no reasoning with her.  

Her rage just kept going and going, even a month later by which time most reasonable people would have calmed down and seen their own contribution to the problem.

She didn’t care about my feelings or hearing me out; as Jeff said, she just wanted to yell.

In fact, when I think back over the years I knew her, she never did want to hear me out about anything, never cared about my side of things.

A true friend would care, would cut you slack, try to get the full story, not treat you like a worm every time you did something she didn’t like, but she never even bothered to ask me.

A true friend would let you be yourself, but she criticized me for being naturally quiet and introverted.

She went on and on about me somehow hurting her again and again over the past couple of years, but Jeff and I both had no idea what she was talking about: Ever since they moved out, I had stopped doing the things that I knew bugged her, had been nice to her!

I joked with her at times, and held my tongue when she kept poking and prodding me with her snarks.  Yet I was somehow hurting her?

She blamed me for things which had been Richard’s idea, and even when we found out they upset her and stopped doing them, it was as if they had been all my idea and as if I kept doing them.

And of course, she wouldn’t allow me to defend myself or find out what the heck was going on, by replying to these e-mails.

She talked and acted as if it were horrible, selfish, disrespectful (to her and Richard), and stalker-y to respond to these e-mails, to defend myself, to find out what was going on and why I was being treated this way, and, later, to send Richard a good-bye e-mail that explained our decision and accused him of duplicity.

Then she later on used this as her excuse–er, justified reason, she would say–to block me from Richard’s Facebook and e-mail accounts, and forbid him from e-mailing or speaking to me.

It was truly BIZARRE behavior from her, and yet more evidence that she is a narcissist/sociopath.  Truth made no difference to her at all.  As Jeff said, “She just wanted to yell.”  As Anna Valerious writes,

Recognize the reality that the narcissist will never give you “permission” to defend yourself against them. Quit being confused as to your rights to self-defense when confronted by the threatenings and breathings against you by the narcissist for doing so.

Is it reasonable to expect the despotic ruler to grant you the right to mount a defense against his capricious demands? Hardly.

It is time to recognize your fundamental right to live which is connected to your fundamental right to defend your life against threats. This is as true in the emotional, mental and spiritual realm as in the physical. —Your Most Fundamental Right

Let’s take a look at this line that narcissists aren’t really bad, that they lash out at you because they feel “threatened.”  This idea begs the question “Threatened in what way?” and “Threatened by what?”

If you’re the victim of a narcissist, you know that this “threatened” excuse is a farce, because the narcissist attacks precisely when you are anti-threatening him or her.

Like when you are trying to please them, when you are saying you love them, when they are already mad at you and you are trying to appease them, when you try to get them to listen to you.

WHAM–you expect the normal reaction to these friendly behaviors, but what do you get instead? The PERVERTED reaction of an attack. It’s a shock tactic that takes you aback and makes you have to pinch yourself.

What on earth have you done to “threaten” the poor narcissist?  Let’s look at the last example–trying to get her to listen to you.  By doing that, you ARE “threatening” her, I’m afraid.

Yes.  Correction: No, you are not threatening her; you are threatening the imaginary her, the bogus “her.” You’re threatening her delusions of grandeur.

ANY honesty or reality does.

Remember that she is a mental child playing Pretend, and she wants all her playmates to play along. That means you are supposed to follow her script.

You are supposed to act unworthy of her attention or regard. When you don’t play that part, she stomps her little foot at you and gets mad, throwing a temper tantrum to be so obnoxious that you give in and do what she wants.

…But when your motive is to destroy the other, the other party backing down or trying to appease you has the opposite effect. Then it’s a sign of weakness that just emboldens the attacker to pour on the attack more furiously than ever.  –Kathy Krajco, The Poor Narcissist Feels Threatened

So after she sent that horrible e-mail to Jeff in response to his attempts to calm her down, which I saw before he did, I made up my mind that it was OVER. 

I couldn’t go to the game because I was too upset to see people.  When Jeff got home from the T-ball game, I told him, “I just can’t deal with that woman anymore!”

Jeff read the e-mail, then came back upstairs and asked me, So we’re going to break off the friendship?

He was on board with it now, now that he had full confirmation that Tracy was a nasty, horrible person who would never lighten up on me no matter what we said or what I did. 

He wanted nothing more to do with either one of them. 

He planned to watch the kids on the weekend, and at first didn’t want to back out on his word.  But after what Tracy wrote to him, he didn’t even want to do this. 

You know it’s serious and that he’s furious, for him to break his word. 

Screw Richard/Tracy and their plans for that weekend: If they couldn’t find another sitter and had to stay home, it was their own fault and their problem.  You just don’t treat friends the way they treated us, and expect those friends to stick around.

My husband and I had been so patient, so nice with them for so long, but after this, we finally had enough of their crap.

Tracy had made it clear that I was not allowed to speak to Richard–whether by phone, e-mail, Facebook, etc.–until we had this “conference.”  Basically, emotional blackmail.  I elaborate on this here.

Bullies find your weak spot, the thing or person that means the most to you, and keep it from you unless you give in to their demands.

In my case, it was my friendship with Richard, with all the privileges his other friends had; she always held it up like a carrot, always out of my reach, sometimes letting it down enough so I could nibble it for a while, then yanking it back up again.

Well, I was tired of dancing for Tracy, always at risk of her blowing up at me the way she did to Todd.  It was degrading.  That’s why I’m gone. 

“Best friends forever” phbbt–If Richard were really my friend, he never would have allowed her to manipulate me like this.  Instead, he tried to pull me into her quagmire and then beat me up emotionally when I was down.

I wasn’t going to sit and listen to an abusive witch lecture me on how I was behaving so “badly,” when she refused to recognize that she’s an abuser and a bully. 

I wasn’t going to let her go on and on about how I deserved her abuse. 

I was sick to death of getting lectured over and over again for being a quiet introvert with NLD, of everything I did being interpreted in the worst possible way and as a horrible offense against her,

while she got away scot-free with all the snarks and other abuses that she did constantly for the past two and a half years I had known her!

Now that I know about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I see that the BPD was coloring everything I did in her eyes, making it into an offense where none existed, and that it was nothing I actually did. 

But back then, I had never heard of BPD.  All I saw was a crazy woman. 

And whatever the cause, she was extremely abusive and cruel, not the kind of person I wanted for a friend.

BPD may be a reason, but no excuse for abuse. 

I didn’t have to put up with this.

I knew very well that I deserved none of her abuse. 

That I had done nothing wrong. 

That I had done NOTHING over the past two and a half years to hurt or offend her. 

That this was all a bizarre game she was playing to make me think I did things I didn’t do, deserved abuse I did not deserve. 

And for some unknown reason, Richard was playing along with it–probably so she wouldn’t beat HIM next and make his life miserable with her tirades.

The following quote describes her exactly and explains what she was doing with me:

Another highly effective device abusive women use to control you is denying approval and acceptance.

It’s natural to want to be liked and admired—especially by the person you love. Being criticized, demeaned, rejected and told repeatedly, “not good enough,” “you don’t measure up,” or that you’ve “failed again” is demoralizing.

It also spurs you on to try even harder to please her and herein lies the problem: These women are never satisfied. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. She will never bestow upon you the kind of love and acceptance you seek.

Why does your wife’s/girlfriend’s/ex’s approval mean so much to you? Do you actually respect her and the way she conducts herself?

A woman like this is an abusive, entitled and incredibly self-serving bully, so why do you care what she thinks?  Seeking approval from someone who takes pleasure in cutting you down is a recipe for disappointment and pain.

You’re perpetuating a sick dynamic by seeking approval from someone who’ll never give it to you. Why? Because these women experience giving approval to others as a psychological and visceral loss.

To tell you, “nice job” or “I appreciate you” somehow makes her feel less than and, as you well know, these women won’t tolerate that for a second. –Dr. Tara Palmatier, How Emotionally Abusive Women Control You: The Fear of Loss and the Need for Approval

I have speculated on why, and come up with probable reasons for their behavior: Richard was going into right-wing extremism while I was turning liberal, we had been financially generous but the economic downturn left us short of money, I spoke up against the way Tracy treated her husband and children. 

All of these are very plausible reasons why the two of them would conspire to carry out this gaslighting campaign against me, trying to convince me I was a bad person doing horrible things, when it was actually THEM doing the horrible things.

This is one of the ways that narcissists and abusers twist with your head.  You see it all the time when abused spouses say, “I deserved it.  I talked back/burned the dinner/talked to that person/etc.”

It’s called Battered Wife Syndrome.  And well, my mind was too strong for anyone to convince me that I deserved abuse.  I resisted it with Phil, and I resisted it with them.

I wasn’t going to let them bully me into submission, force me into believing that my natural temperament was somehow horribly offensive. 

These were bigots, not just your normal extroverts who don’t understand introverts, but bigots and bullies who set out to destroy you just because you’re an introvert with NVLD

I could not believe how loony, bizarre, fierce and overblown they were over such a small thing. 

The justification they later gave was connected to my being a quiet introvert–and is behavior not at all unusual for a person like me, and completely benign. 

With most people except for Richard, I don’t even like talking on the phone, even with my best friends, because it’s hard to find something to say. 

Which is another reason why I look at them now as con artists who no longer saw us as useful to them–because of our lack of money, moderate politics, lack of political connections and willingness to speak up when they were abusive–and had to latch onto some reason to make us believe I was the problem, not them. 

Then we wouldn’t notice how they kept siphoning money and other things from us while treating us like crap.

And you know what?  Finally refusing to give in to her, to chuck everything rather than keep dealing with her constant covert and overt bullying and abuse–That was my declaration of freedom.

I began to breathe more freely, felt greatly relieved to have her out of my life.  No longer was I made to feel like an evil witch simply because I am shy, quiet and refuse to let dangerous people into my confidences and inner circle.

Her insistence on this “conference”–my mother called her manipulative.  I have found references to the very same thing in reading this blog on emotional blackmail, and reading about people who have left spiritually abusive churches, but are told they have to attend a meeting with the elders.  They know they will be subjected to more abuse.

Tracy’s behavior and demands exactly match the abusive practices of these cult-like churches, as I describe here.  As for the blog on emotional blackmail, it describes a man being forced by his son to endure the son’s verbal abuse if he expects to see his grandchildren.

Jeff went straight over to their house with a borrowed book and a necklace–a gift to his hostess–that Richard gave me when he first moved in.

The book was the classic Orthodox work I had wanted to read, and that he had finally given to me a few weeks before, The Way of a Pilgrim.  I hadn’t even finished it yet, and was getting so much from it.

But I had to give it up.  I still haven’t read it.

In fact, I have blocked out the memory of it so much over the past four years because of its association with Richard, that I blanked on the name, and still didn’t recognize it even though I found it after Google searching.

[Update 1-16-24: I finally read it for a Bible study class in 2023.]

That necklace, a tiger-eye bought at the mall, meant a lot to me, and I wore it all the time.  Once, I thought I had lost it, or that my son had lost it, and tore up my room looking for it until I found it.

It was a symbol of our friendship–which meant that it was a LIE.  I’m starting to tear up just writing about this, four years later.

Jeff said to Tracy, “Any hurt Nyssa has caused has been by accident.  But you, you’re being deliberately hurtful!”  He ended things right then and there while I watched over our son at home, not wanting to be near Tracy for obvious reasons.

I hoped to hear when he came back that Richard and Tracy were sorry for blowing up like that, that they valued our friendship as much as Tracy said they did, that they tried to apologize and change his mind.

But no, all they said was “I understand” (Richard) and a petulant “Give him the stuff you borrowed, Richard, so we can get back to our MO-vie” (Tracy).

I have found sources which say narcissists will often let you go like that, like you never meant a thing to them.  Because, well, you didn’t.  Richard had claimed to Jeff that he wanted to preserve the friendship, but this was obviously yet another lie.

Jeff brought back books I had lent to Richard, an Orthodox book on mystical theology, and Kafka’s The Trial.  We had seen the movie together when he lived with us.  They had also just used our cat carrier that day, so it still had a tape with the cat’s name on it.

While the book I returned to him was in pristine condition, mine were all covered in dried spaghetti sauce, which Jeff and I both had to scrub off!

Jeff came home and went on and on about how Tracy’s behavior was “just AWFUL!” and how she had to get down on her knees and apologize to me, and how glad he was to no longer have to go back to “that HOUSE” with its filth and “that SMELL!”

Then Richard posted a video on Facebook as an expression of what happened that day, “Birth School Work Death” by the Godfathers.

I won’t link to it, because that would require finding it, and while it’s an awesome song, it’s triggering.

That’s all Richard wrote about it, though Tracy had posted far more about what a GREAT day she was having (before I finally blocked her Facebook account that afternoon).

Jeff said, “They weren’t good friends,” and “Do you feel used?  I do.”

For days and weeks, I kept waiting and hoping for an apologetic phone call, but none came.

Jeff said I was sweet and everything that Tracy was not, and that was the real reason why she hated me.  

So after all Richard’s claims of how awesome a person I was and how dear my friendship was to him and how much he liked Jeff and me, he just let us go with a simple “I understand,” and he never called us even once after that to try to get us back.  Not even once!

Yeah, now I see how much his friendship was truly worth.  A real, true friend would have tried to call at least once, and not let us go so easily and then blocked us all on Facebook.

Is it necessary for me to state that I saw clearly that it would be a dishonour to myself to continue even an acquaintance with such a one as you had showed yourself to be? –Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis”

I wrote to Richard that evening on Facebook, giving him a chance overnight to respond to it.  But he wrote zilch back, so I unfriended him in the morning:

Goodbye

This is the only message I’ll send. I’ll just say that I bear you no ill-will and certainly never meant any trouble.

You know everything was innocently meant. We were having trouble and I simply wanted to go back to how things were before we started having any problems.

I’ve said before that I’m not comfortable being friends with someone whose wife hates me.

I certainly can’t be friends with you when your wife thinks such horrible things about me.

It’s ripping my heart apart to lose my best friend and brother and favorite theological conversationalist, but it’s probably for the best.

That night, I dreamed that Jeff was helping me escape an abusive husband.  We were running through an airport, down an escalator, to get away from him.  When I woke up I knew it was about Jeff helping me escape Tracy.

Because not only is she an abusive wife, not only is she an abusive mother, but she is also an abusive friend. 

She’s just as bad as any man who beats his wife or girlfriend.

The following day, Jeff wrote me this:

Well, just remember that it isn’t you. What they don’t seem to understand is that all friendship requires give & take.

When I considered how much I had to tolerate to maintain being friends with them, we more than earned a little tolerance and understanding from them.

Instead, while I drop off stuff, Richard is just “I understand”, while Tracy is barking to just give me your books so she can get back to her movie.

Oh yeah, they’re sensitive types and I can tell that my friendship just meant a ton to them.   🙁

I wrote back,

And all because we tried to be kind and give them a place to stay. Really turns me off on the idea of further hospitality for anyone else.   🙁 

I really felt that our good nature was being taken advantage of because it seemed like they just started planning for it and we had nowhere to put them.  🙁

He wrote,

The thought has occurred to me.  Through all our troubles, I put out an honest effort to be understanding of Richard and Tracy.

I spent a ton of time talking with you, trying to nurture understanding and tolerance in you to help smooth our relationships.

What was I thinking?

He later elaborated on how bad he felt about this, not putting more faith in what I was saying, because now he saw for himself that I was right about Tracy.

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

 

Part Three: Jeff’s WTF moment: Judas (Richard) knows I’m innocent, but psychotically rages at Jeff

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

When Jeff went over to talk to Richard alone after work, Richard claimed that Jeff didn’t know the half of how he and Tracy had been “bending over backward” for me–and Jeff considered this a load of BS.

If that’s what Richard and Tracy consider to be “bending over backward” to be nice to somebody, then I hate to see what they’re like when they’re not trying to be nice.  (Oh, wait, I did.  Dang, these people are evil.)

What happened to Richard reading the Philokalia? the Ladder of Divine Ascent? books which describe the Orthodox way of treating people kindly and with respect?  I’m sure those books don’t describe what Richard and Tracy were actually doing: demanding respect and kindness from others while showing no respect or kindness to them!

Is it really so hard to be kind and decent that you find it such an imposition? 

Is it so awful to accept that some people are naturally quiet and introverted, and that it has nothing to do with trying to tick you off? 

Is it so horrible to let your friends have their own ideas of what is proper behavior?  Yet another sign of sociopathy! 

Everyone else has to be nice to you, Richard and Tracy, but we’re supposed to let you treat us like crap!  Because treating others with respect is so frickin’ hard for you that you call it “bending over backward”!

Richard also acted in such a manner during the face-to-face conversation with Jeff–repeatedly getting up and into his face, raging, using his much larger height and girth–that Jeff felt very physically intimidated. 

This infuriated Jeff, especially after the threats he received from Richard in that e-mail several days earlier.

And why did Richard rage at him?  Because Jeff told him that there are two sides to this issue, that they kept putting all the burden and blame on me when there was plenty to go on Tracy’s shoulders.

So–No side is worthy of a hearing but Tracy’s?  No side is legitimate but Tracy’s?  I had been listening to her side and Richard’s side all these years, but they wouldn’t do the common decency of listening to MINE?

As for intimidating Jeff–It’s bad enough for schoolyard bullies to make you afraid, but for someone who’s supposed to be your friend–that’s unconscionable.  

Jeff finally yelled at him to STOP intimidating him and SIT DOWN.

Also, Jeff says that he tried to say things like, we needed to get into a circle and listen to each other, that all that swearing and verbal abuse was making things worse, but Richard would start hissing and getting angry.

Jeff left with a very bad taste in his mouth.  As for Richard, what a jackass.  And he wants to be a priest or a psychologist with an attitude like that?

If you don’t listen to any side but your own, not even when it’s your own friends,

if you defend your wife using swearing and ad hominems against your own friend, against someone you say is very dear to you and whom you know to be sweet, nice and sensitive–

–then you have no business counseling others on how to deal with relational problems or how to exorcise your own passions.

I gave him the Ladder of Divine Ascent; he said he read it; but did he really comprehend it?  Did he really comprehend why monks in the Divine Ascent icon are falling into Hell?

Jeff says Richard is like the Pharisees, that he doesn’t listen to anyone but himself, has a superiority complex (that both Richard and Tracy do), thinks the world revolves around him, is indeed a narcissist.

Note how Richard’s reaction to Jeff’s remarks, match exactly the following about telling an evil narcissist the truth:

So today’s dose of truth and reality is this: Evil must mask itself with good in order for it to make a living. Evil must hide itself by hiding the truth of who and what they are.

Therefore, full truth (light) is anathema to evil.  You know this is true. You’ve tried to bring just a smidgen of truth to the table with the narcissist and you saw the hissing, spitting and reviling it invoked.

The extreme reaction is the narcissist’s attempt to get you to drop the holy water before he gets burned.

That is not the moment to fumble or drop the truth. Thrust that stake deep into his heart and then put him in the ground. Metaphorically speaking, of course. –Anna Valerious, They Hide from Truth Because Their Deeds Are Evil

Also, Jeff is offended that they treated me as they did, saying “don’t go crying to Jeff because we don’t need the headache,” for confiding problems in my own husband.  He says it’s his job to listen to my problems and be there for me.

It sounds very much like the schoolyard bully saying don’t tell the teacher or we’ll beat you even worse.

Or the sexual molester saying, don’t tell your parents about our little secret.

Or the spouse saying don’t tell anyone I beat you or I’ll kill your sister.

But then, after the bizarrely jealous and possessive rant Tracy made publicly against me on Facebook a few weeks before this, after I posted a simple “I’ll miss you dearly, have a nice trip” on one of her posts about a possible family trip out of state–

–can I really expect any less than such an overblown and verbally abusive reaction from her to that misunderstood e-mail?

I have made many comments to people in the past which were not meant as offenses, but were received that way (i.e. foot-in-mouth disease), yet in their angriest reactions, they never, ever spoke to me the way she did.

There were so many things she did that day and in the following month that were just bizarre, over-the-top, ridiculous, incredibly insulting.

All because of what she thought the e-mail was about, but it really wasn’t.

And Richard just sat back and let her do it, while she crowed on Facebook that she was finally allowed to.  She seemed to think she was entitled to do this because she’s the wife of Richard.

Yet based on what I’ve seen him do in other situations with other people, if someone did the same thing to her, Richard would be all over them for it, want to beat them up.

And just because you’re married to a person doesn’t mean you “own” them like some piece of property.  They’re not a dog or a couch or a house.  They’re a human being with their own rights to think for themselves and decide for themselves what is right and who they should be friends with.

Jeff and I were both disgusted with Richard’s behavior.  When I heard of it later that evening, I began to sob and said, “That makes me never want to see him again!”

Tracy judged and sentenced me without a trial, without giving me a chance to defend myself.

And Richard knew full well the truth behind my e-mail, but pretended to Jeff and Tracy that he didn’t, that I was making a pass at him, when he knew full well that I wasn’t–probably to avoid a beating from Tracy.

For all his claims that I was very dear to him and he loved me like a sister, he showed me then just how much his friendship was worth.

I find it rather telling that Richard–

–when he showed Jeff the e-mail in question, along with Tracy’s e-mails–

–rather than telling Jeff what he told me when I questioned the gestures he made while he lived alone with us,

that they were done in friendship only,

and explaining how the hugs had been meant in friendship and brotherly love rather than romance,

he said he’d been distancing himself from me lately.

(Distancing himself?  As of when?  And–WHY?  Was he ever going to tell me?  What kind of a BFF does that without a word?  Yet more lack of communication from him to me!)

Why didn’t he tell Jeff they were innocent gestures and that my e-mail was equally innocent?

Was it because he was lying to me when he said we were doing nothing wrong?

This makes it sound as if they were not innocent, that he had more in his head than he’d admitted to me, and had been backing off for that reason.

While I had put my full faith and trust in him for more than two years that he had meant the gestures solely in friendship and would do this with any of his closest friends and relatives.

I feel manipulated by him, betrayed, used, played for a naïve and gullible fool, toyed with.  I’m furious with him for all of this.

Richard’s allowing Tracy to go off on me like this, and then defending it, made him into Judas, so that I can never trust him again–

–and it also appalled and disgusted Jeff, who is used to true friends laughing off gaffes or waiting to get more information before blowing up.

Then a month later I caught Richard in an outright lie (more on this later).

As for the gaffe–Richard himself had made at least two gaffes of his own, just like this:

One was an issue with someone close to him, which I won’t get into because it’s private.

The other was when he was living with us and put his head on my lap and shoulder, called it “flirting” when he did it, and gave me some very affectionate hugs, making me think he was making the moves on me.

But according to him, both times, he was innocent of the charges, hadn’t been “flirting,” had been acting with me as he would act with relatives such as sister, mother, cousins, sisters-in-law, had been misunderstood, and these were things which platonic friends could safely and innocently do with each other.

Yet when I made a gaffe, when I was innocent and misunderstood, instead of explaining to Tracy what it was really all about (which he knew very well), or giving me a chance to explain first, he allowed his wife to tear me apart over it.

Hypocrisy!  I bet he’d looove to find out what Jeff thinks of Richard’s “gaffe” with me after how he treated me over mine: Basically, he believes that Richard’s actions during the Incident reflected a guilty conscience.

Another time in the mid-90’s, you cried publicly on M.B.’s shoulder when you thought I had revealed something personal about your marriage in public (something about the possibility of your marriage breaking up).

It was stated offhandedly in a vague way, and no one had overheard it. You made sure that everyone–especially M.B.–knew I had committed a horrible gaffe against you, and you humiliated me in front of him and others at dinner.

(More traits of the Narcissist: payback for perceived slights; public humiliation for perceived slights; hanging on to excuses for committing character assassination.) —Joyful Alive Woman, “Abusive Female Friend”

I’d like to insert at this point that abusers will act like they care about your feelings. This is strategic, intermittent, and shallow.

Whenever the rubber hits the road, for all the times the abuser has acted concerned about how you feel, you find yourself once again treated like crap on his or her shoe when you most need a kind word or some concern.

They will sometimes, maybe even often, mouth words of caring and concern about you and your feelings, but it never seems to translate into something real when you most need them to give a damn.

Remember my maxim: when the words stand in contradiction to the behaviors you must believe the behaviors!  What we do (or refuse to do when action is called for) is the measurement of our character and our intentions.

Our words don’t mean jack if they are not followed through with and supported by our action. –Anna Valerious, Do They Have Feelings?

I’ve told Jeff the things that happened, how Richard kept pushing the boundaries, how I told him he was freaking me out,

then Richard said, Don’t worry, it’s all done in friendship, I do this with relatives, it’s not romantic, we didn’t “do anything,” we can keep doing it.  

I told him how persuasive Richard was.  

Then when Tracy found out, guess who got blamed?  Me.  Guess who got accused of not understanding boundaries?  Me.

But back to 7/1/10.  Jeff had earlier instructed me to say nothing more to Tracy for the time being, to lie low and let him deal with things.

After Jeff spoke with Richard, he sent Tracy an e-mail trying to calm her down and say that I was sorry for having done something stupid and didn’t mean to hurt her feelings, that apparently Richard had been very unclear on what was and wasn’t okay over the years.  He also said that “f-bombs” are not helpful.

In response, she sent him an e-mail full of the worst barrage of verbal abuse of me yet.

Richard once told Jeff that we shouldn’t mention the NVLD to Tracy, that it could actually be dangerous for me.

But now here she was, somehow knowing about it, and saying horrible things about me in the e-mail to Jeff,

because I believed that it

(and, though Jeff didn’t say this, a lot of doublespeak from Richard and double standards from them both)

was the reason I had trouble figuring out her social requirements, rather than me just being childish and deliberately hurtful and hateful.

It was humiliating, demeaning, belittling.  She even said that Richard told me things that a 5-year-old child could understand, basically making me into some stupid idiot.  

But I knew myself and I knew that I never deliberately hurt her, that when I was upset with her it was because of her own hateful behavior toward me, Richard and/or her children.

Tracy pounced on NVLD as yet another reason to vilify me and falsely accuse me.  She went on about a “self-diagnosed learning disorder” and how I needed to “grow up and TALK.”

To quote Klank, “You don’t know what it is to be me.”

Tracy doesn’t know what it’s like to have a brain that makes most social situations extremely difficult, if she thinks I can just change because she wants me to.

She also has no idea what it’s like to be an introvert, that we’re born this way, born being quiet and eschewing small talk.

This shows the huge bias against introverts among extroverts, thinking our lack of speech has anything at all whatsoever to do with our maturity level,

and also shows Tracy’s unwillingness to understand anything at all about me, that there are other ways of being than hers.

Also, Jeff complained to me during this time about Richard’s doublespeak, because Jeff also dealt with it all the time.  It frustrated him just as much as it did me.

The narcissist’s sense of self, which has not progressed past that of a very young child, they cannot deal with the reality of a mirror being held up before them.

Unlike the alcoholic who may in due course “see the light”, a narcissist simply does not have the emotional skills to step outside of themselves and glimpse the truth in the mirror.

The essence of NPD is that the sufferer lives in a bubble that can only accommodate themselves. Self-reflection is definitely not in the narcissist’s bag of skills and expecting them to be capable of doing so can court disaster.

Be prepared for rage and aggression to be aimed at you. Be prepared to not be heard.. Be prepared to have everything that you claim about them, to be reassigned to you. When and if you are strong enough to cope with this treatment, then you may decide to go ahead.

If you are hoping for recognition and a change for the better, more pain is in store. –Beth McHugh, Should You Confront a Narcissist About His Narcissism

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

 

Without warning or explanation, tensions build as Richard and Tracy both begin acting like lunatics

TENSION BUILDING –

  • Tension starts and steadily builds
  • Abuser starts to get angry
  • Communication breaks down
  • Victim feels the need to concede to the abuser
  • Tension becomes too much
  • Victim feels uneasy and a need to watch every move –Kim Eyer, The Cycle of Abuse

Something I read on 1/5/14 which made me go hmmmmm:

To draw you closer, the psychopath creates an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers.

They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement.

Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).

Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically.

They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities. This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default.

Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love.

This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.

…The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them.

Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite.

They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.

….The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy. In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you.

You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target. –Peace, Torture by Triangulation

Richard’s relationship with me was a platonic friendship, but the same dynamics were at work: The first couple of months he stayed with us, his cell constantly rang with all sorts of friends.

He’d ignore them to talk with me, or answer and then say he was in the middle of a conversation, and get back to me.

He’d tell me about all the women he had to fight off–not just in his single days, but after getting married.

After this love bombing phase ended, the criticism began and I was discarded for a month, I could do nothing right, and he didn’t want to spend time with me anymore.

Then he gave me bearhugs–throwing me a bone to keep me thinking that things would be as they were at first.

But after that, despite the occasional bone-throwing, he kept me off-balance.  Other friends were constantly clamoring for his time, and I became lower on the totem pole than they were.

Then a new friend, Chris, came along, and got all the attention that I used to get.  They’d go out and do things, talk, etc., and I would be the one sitting at home, or abandoned at the picnic table while they went walking along the beach.

The last part also reminds me of mid-2010, when I could feel things were going wrong, but when I tried to discuss it with him, he shut me down, made me feel paranoid.

He also told me that his political friends were messaging him on Facebook complaining about the things I posted on his Facebook threads (which is ridiculous because it’s Facebook, where you’re supposed to have fun with your friends, and that’s what I did, rather than getting all political like him).

This article also makes me wonder how much of this whole situation was Richard manipulating me to make Tracy jealous, to keep her from leaving him.  If he played each of his friends, family, spouse, the way he played me, on purpose to control us all.

In the last month or two of our friendship, after the bullying had been mostly confined to the occasional snipe, it ratcheted up all of a sudden; was it because of several comments I made on Facebook and at Tracy’s house about what constitutes child abuse?

Of course, bullies will say you deserve it.  You don’t ever deserve it.

(I just read an article about a girl who beat up another girl, kicked her in the head, caused a concussion and bleeding on the brain, and then bragged on her Facebook page that the girl she beat up, had it coming.  Despicable.  She’s been sentenced, though it’s a slap on the wrist.)

Friends are supposed to relieve your stress, not cause it.  They’re supposed to be there for you when you have problems, not cause your problems.  Imagine being forced–on pain of losing your dearest friend–to confide in someone you don’t trust because they keep bullying that friend.

I remember getting very sick at the end of April 2010, so sick that for a time I wondered if I would survive (swine flu?).

When I finally found out it was just a bad flu and then got better, Jeff drove my son and me to the grocery store.  In the car, I pondered whether my friendship with Richard was worth fighting for, and decided it was.

So things must have been going on then, too, that I don’t remember now.  Though I do remember chatting online with Chris during the winter or spring and asking him if Richard treated him the way he treated me: unreturned phone calls, suddenly dropping out of a chat without a word, things like that.

Early in the winter I had every reason to believe that my friendship with Richard was cemented, that Tracy was perfectly fine with it and we had freedom to do what he could do with his other friends, and that Richard was starting to remember just how good of friends we had been, all the jams I helped him out of, all the emotional support I gave him.

But sometime in the late winter or spring, I began feeling fed up, that he was treating me very badly.

So one day in April I figured our friendship was worth fighting for, while in early May I felt like it was all falling apart, and I had no clue why.

I had not changed; I still treasured the friendship.  I had no clue why Richard would act so differently toward me.

You may recall the incident I described before, of Tracy smacking the 3-year-old upside the head around the turn of the year, and the inner turmoil this sent me into.  Also, other abusive incidents I witnessed during 2010.

On April 15, 2010, is this blurb in an e-mail from Richard: “and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and getting yelled at for not cleaning when I do clean.”

During these few months before July, I’d hear about “drama” in his house, and see it as well.  It seemed like things were getting worse and worse all the time, so bad that Jeff and I could even see it for ourselves, and discussed it. 

Jeff thought Tracy was bipolar.

He also thought the trouble at their house, and how they started treating me, was caused by stress and sleep apnea, and hoped that would change with treatment. 

But even if it did, it wasn’t soon enough to salvage our friendship, as their own personal drama spilled over onto Jeff and me.

On May 30, 2010, Jeff was about to drop me off at church when we saw Richard and his children in the parking lot.  Richard’s priest was gone at some conference, so he came to my church, only we then discovered that my priest was in the hospital!  (He recovered, by the way.)

So we discussed going over to this Episcopalian church which Richard liked to visit.  But when Jeff dropped me off there, I got this weird vibe off Richard.  What, he invites me but doesn’t want me there?

Still, we both seemed to enjoy the service together.  Then he took me around the church, showed me the various awesome things they had there.

People kept thinking we were married, so we had to say NO.  So I joked about it, but Richard didn’t laugh, which was weird.

But then when I asked if he could take me home–a reasonable request, I thought, especially since there was plenty of room in his van, and there was no point in making Jeff come all the way back to the church–he got this look on his face like I was being weird or annoying somehow.

It made no sense at all, and I couldn’t figure out what the heck I could’ve possibly done to deserve these reactions, especially from the guy who normally enjoyed spending time with me and liked driving me to/from church.

During this time, on May 8 or 9, 2010, at a birthday party in the park for one of the children, Richard told me about a silly dream he had.  Tracy got upset at him for this, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me about that this morning when we were laughing and bonding?”  I couldn’t tell if she was really upset or just joking, but as usual, it made me very uncomfortable.

She did that sort of thing a lot, jabbing at him in front of me with what seemed to be anger, though I wasn’t sure if it was anger or a joke.  And the possessive, jealous tinge of the “joke” also bugged me.

Simultaneously with her increased bullying of me, Jeff and I noticed their own family stress increasing and erupting into screams and jabs and spanks whenever we went over there.  

Not only did Tracy scream at the kids, but she screamed at Richard as well.  Then he’d turn around and yell at her in the kitchen for “screaming at the kids all the time.”  It made me extremely uncomfortable for them to do this with me right there in the room.

Every time we visited, they’d be bickering, worse than I had seen it, and occasionally the kids got something as well.  

I saw Richard’s face when he got yelled at, like he was seething inwardly but checking out. 

While Tracy did already occasionally yell at Richard with me in the room, I don’t recall seeing Richard yell at Tracy in front of me before this.

(Well, there was that time when he screamed at her on the phone in the basement back in November 2007….But I never saw him do it when she was actually in the room before.)

Something was stirring them up to a boiling point, and had been for weeks.  And it had nothing whatsoever to do with me.  I just became the convenient scapegoat a couple of months later, the lamb sacrificed for the peace of the household.

Probably early in June 2010, Jeff and I went over there; I forget if this is when we went to watch the kids while Richard took Tracy out on a birthday date, or when we went there to play a game of D&D.  I seem to recall her wearing a dress as if for a date, but I also recall being there with Richard and Tracy all evening, so it must have been for D&D….

Anyway, I sat on the couch, vaguely watching as two of the kids (the older ones, I believe) began dancing around and being joyful.  They did absolutely nothing wrong, and looked sweet and happy.  It was cute; they were being children.

Then all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, and for no reason I could possibly fathom, Tracy stormed over and went from 0 to 60 in two seconds: She flew over and began screaming and whacking fury at them. 

She screamed her head off at the kids, yanking and jerking them around by the arms, and screaming louder and louder at them as she threw spanks left and right. 

I had no idea what on earth the kids could have done wrong.  They didn’t say a word or fight back, just seemed to go limp.  Even their faces were blank.  Yet Tracy grew madder and madder, screamed louder and louder, yanked their arms around, and whacked spanks every which way.

It reminded me of the time they were living in my house and she started yelling and screaming louder and louder at Richard, even though he did not fight back and agreed with everything she said.

Helplessness: Children are inherently helpless and subordinate.  They cannot escape a dangerous situation and are easily taken advantage of.

When a child realizes they cannot protect themselves they believe they are helpless and eventually stop trying to protect themselves.

They often withdraw, go limp, or dissociate, or a way in which some children survive abuse by escaping mentally. 

While the abuse is occurring, the body and the mind seem to separate and while the body is being hurt; the child no longer feels it and is disconnected from the abuse. 

There are many ways to dissociate and each child may do it differently.  One may seem to leave the body floating overhead where the abuse is occurring or one may be able to completely withdraw or go inward and not mentally exist therefore not experiencing anything. —Source

This incident of child abuse right in front of me was frightening even for me, an adult, and also infuriated me.  

I was too frightened of her in general to do anything (she’s bigger than me, violent and nasty).  For the rest of the evening, I was very nervous and scared of her.  Unfortunately, Jeff wasn’t there to see this, having stepped out to buy some things for dinner.

Or should I say, of course he wasn’t there–she kept doing these things when he wasn’t there or wasn’t looking.  So I’d have to tell him later just what happened.

Shortly after, when things calmed down a bit, Richard started playing a song for me, a song which he had just posted about on his Facebook page.  I didn’t really know the song, had heard it maybe once or twice before (one of the times being when I clicked on his link).

It had been popular several years back, a dance song, something about a train, by a lady singer.  He had compared her to Lady Gaga, whom I also didn’t know at all, since I swore off ever-increasingly banal popular music about 10 years before.  I was surprised he knew about Lady Gaga, either, since he was a Goth fan….

Anyway, he played this song for me because it had been his earworm the past couple of days.  But then Tracy began yelling at him because he’d already played it numerous times over the past couple of days.

I’m sitting here thinking, Geez, lady, he’s a grown man and you’re not his mother!  Can’t he play it 100 times if he wants to?

I could understand being annoyed, but her yelling and screaming at him was way out of proportion, especially dealing with her husband, not a child.

He got an angry, henpecked look on his face, and told her to turn it off if she wanted to.  

(This may have been the same day when she began yelling at him for undermining her when he popped in Fifth Element for me to watch, while apparently she had just told the kids not to watch a movie.  He got the same look on his face and kept the movie running.)

More arguing….

Later in the evening, probably during dinner, he apologized, but even the apology quickly turned into an argument as they started picking at each other again.

Also during dinner, Tracy was in the kitchen asking or talking about something.  My son, who sat eating pizza beside me at the dining room table, made a comment about it.  She snapped at him for it, telling him to be quiet.  He got an angry look, and I was furious at her for yelling at my son.

Tracy started constantly ripping on me and bullying me no matter what I said or did, including on Facebook. 

It was absolutely nothing I did or said: It was something going on in her own head that I had nothing whatsoever to do with. 

It was probably her cycling again, going into an abusive phase where nobody was safe and nobody could do anything right. 

In other words, it was not my fault, but all hers, yet I was the one blamed for it in July and August, when imaginary complaints about me were brought up by both Richard and Tracy as “reasons” for her actions. 

This is what abusers do to try to justify their abuse, and Richard, as her abuser-by-proxy, went along with it–probably to keep the peace in his own house, keep the abuse away from himself.

She ripped on me on Memorial Day 2010 simply because I put bug spray, Kleenex and sunscreen in a bag and brought it with me to sit outside.

She talked as if a “normal” person would go back and forth into the house every time they wanted something.

Well, I didn’t want to bother with all that running all over the place when I could just put everything into a bag!

And what the heck difference did it make to her?!  Jeff stuck up for me, because he saw how ridiculous she was.

Richard started treating me like crap, as well:

One day, probably late winter or early spring 2010, while preparing for our latest D&D game, I saw what looked like honey on the table.

So rather than be stupid and put my books on honey, I did what any sensible person would do, and acted like any guest who wants to do for herself and not overburden her host by being a princess:

I pulled out a wipe from my purse and started wiping off the honey.

But then Richard, who was sitting right next to me, stunned me by screaming in my face for cleaning his house! 

(This was one of several WTF moments I had with him.)

Then Tracy said, “Oh, come on, you’ve always known she’s weird.”  I didn’t know whether Tracy was getting after him for yelling at me, or snarking on me again.  Or both.

They keep their house in filth most of the time, say they “clean it” before I come which makes me wonder how bad it is when I’m not coming over, and I’m the weird one for not wanting to get honey on my books?

Somebody must have made a crack about the stash of wipes in my purse (just one 15-piece travel package, not a ton), because I said, “I’m a mother.  Of course I have all sorts of things in my purse.”

(My mother had all sorts of things in her purse when I was growing up: Kleenex, gum, etc.  A married, pregnant woman, a non-traditional student, in one of my college classes whipped out a bottle of aspirin when somebody needed it, and commented that because she’s a mother, she has a well-stocked purse.  And at a Little League game in 2011, when a little girl had a nosebleed, three mothers–including me–rushed over to her parents with wipes to clean her up with.)

Then Tracy got huffy and said, “Are you saying I’m not a mother, then, because I don’t?”  Even though I hadn’t said a word about her, having no clue what was in her purse.

So…You can call me weird but I can’t say this is a motherly trait without you getting upset?  Jeff stuck up for me, saying he often wishes he had my stash with him when at his church alone with our son.

I felt like running out of the room or crying or something, but tried to be the adult and suck it up.

But oh, how it hurt (and shocked and appalled) to be yelled at out of the blue by my best and dearest friend for such a silly thing, and to be ripped on by Tracy just for being an organized mother.

The WTF moment is when the non-abusive partner, typically after weeks, months and sometimes years of love bombing, hoop jumping, guilt, manipulation, obligation, fear, self-doubt and blaming and shaming tactics, has a moment of clarity.

It’s when you finally realize, “Wait a minute. Something’s wrong here, but it isn’t me.” Shrink4Men

Jeff tells me that when they only expected him and a few other friends for D&D, they didn’t bother cleaning up much at all–so the filth I saw, got even worse when I wasn’t there.

It made Jeff feel like he wasn’t worth cleaning up for, because he was used to a clean house and didn’t appreciate the filth, either.

When Richard’s mother-in-law visited for three weeks and did some housework, Richard got mad at her, too–even though the MIL was probably just of my own mother’s school of thought, that if you stay for a few weeks, you should help with the housework or you’re a lazy bum.

(When we stayed with our in-laws for several days in 2011, I made our bed, my son made his bed, and I cleaned up after us in the bathroom.)

They didn’t clean their own house, but nobody else was allowed to, either?  How on earth could they expect her to just grin and bear living in a place so filthy without trying to clean some of it?  I couldn’t have lasted one night in that place without scrubbing down the bathroom!

And I’ve since learned that Richard also yelled at Jeff for this on nights when he went over there alone to play D&D.  Jeff said Richard yelled just as nastily as he did at me for cleaning honey off the table, and that made Jeff angry.

He went over there around 9pm, yet the kids would still be up, the house and table a mess, and they’d still be cleaning for quite some time after he got there.  So Jeff would grab a rag and start cleaning stickiness off the table before putting his books down, or do other things to help clean up, so they could get to the frickin’ game already.  And he’d get screamed at.

You’re supposed to say “thank you” when somebody helps you clean.  Yet somehow, they were the ones who felt that I didn’t know proper etiquette and behavior and had to be lectured on it by them?

I have since learned from hoarding shows that this is a common reaction when someone tries to help clean a hoarder house.

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

 

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