I thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.
A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.
It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.
They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before. (They go elsewhere.)
It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me. Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling. Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.
This time, Hubby Jeff and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Jeff stayed to give me moral support. (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)
(See here for reasons why I’d be scared of Richard: his huge size, his choking one of his kids, his past as a goomba, his almost physically assaulting a lady and saying he’d leave no trace that he was ever there, his threatening my husband with physical violence and saying he’s very easily triggered to it.
Also, he told me violent things about his past. He said he’d been arrested more than a hundred times, but I have no idea for what, or if he was acquitted; it was before he lived in my state, which has a public-access website with details of court cases.
And his wife Tracy is also a very scary person, much larger than I am, violent physically and verbally. Richard told me that once, in my house, she almost killed me over something, and I had no idea.
I have no idea if he meant it literally or as hyperbole, but for months afterward, my mind kept going to that, imagining what it would have been like to feel her fists, wondering if Hubby or Richard would have pulled her off me in time, imagining Hubby calling the cops. Just sitting and watching That 70s Show, one kid would hit another kid, and I’d flinch.
And yet I was expected to “befriend” her, be buddy-buddy with her, without so much as an “I’m sorry” from her, or else I was to “blame” for all the crap she threw at me.)
This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked. It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything. He didn’t even take communion.
During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids. One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens. She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl. The other one is 7, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.
Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out. I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.
She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.” Jeff also got her scolding eyes earlier.
My heart broke right there. I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons. I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.
I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her. All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry. I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.
I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Jeff and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t. I still keep hoping.
I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around. I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.
Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change. Let go of the hope for change. Accept that this is the way they are and will always be. Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”
But in my heart I just don’t believe that. I was angry. I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain. But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.
When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this. I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me. He never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.
One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized. This is certainly true. If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.
And if you are Richard and somehow found my blog, please, PLEASE work on yourself and get rid of the violence. For me, for Jeff, for yourself, for your children. And then feel free to get in touch with us. (It’s impossible to send any of these things directly to Richard because his wife is insanely jealous.) But these are the things you must do and say:
1) Assure me that you are not going to go all goomba on me.
2) Apologize for the things that went on the final week of our friendship:
- a) Threatening Jeff with verbal and physical violence for sticking up for me on 6/28/10.
- b) Throwing me under the bus when Tracy went ballistic, rather than explaining to her the truth of what happened and what I meant by my e-mail. Letting her go off on me. Giving in to her so I was not even allowed to explain and exonerate myself. You knew very well that I was referring to a sisterly/brotherly hug of gratitude, and that it had been your idea.
- c) Getting into Hubby’s face and intimidating him for sticking up for me.
3) Apologize for, a month later, justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse of me, blaming me for it, then lying to me about why you hadn’t seen my e-mail and why you blocked us on Facebook. Being so deceitful that I actually thought Tracy was going to finally apologize, when instead I was opened up to more verbal abuse and accusations from her. Treating me like this was all my problem that I had to get over, rather than admitting that Tracy had been bullying me and getting you to do her dirty work.
4) Admit to your violent tendencies and demonstrate that you are working on them, that you will not threaten us again, will not choke your daughter again, will stop lecturing us on how to discipline children. Take anger management courses, study the Philokalia and Ladder of Divine Ascent, take parenting classes.
As for Tracy–I don’t want to hear from or see you again. Don’t come to my church. Don’t call me on the phone no matter what you see my son doing. Unless, of course, you’re ready to forgive me for being naturally shy and quiet, and acknowledge your own share in the problems, your own abusive behaviors.
Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?