To Richard if you find this: Why did you do it, man? Wasn’t I always a good friend to you? Didn’t I help you out of lots of jams? Didn’t I support you and listen to your problems and believe your claims of abuse? Didn’t I watch your kids at the drop of a hat?
Why did you betray me and throw me to the dogs?
[Update 7/17/13: I think the reasons are obvious: I believe he was a con man trying to get money and stuff from us, but the economy tanked and we had money trouble; they wanted to get political connections, but we were too “liberal” and not politically driven…
…I was his confidante of his wife’s abuses of him and the children, so she, who has a family history of personality disorders, smeared me to him to drive a wedge between us; and I spoke up against the way they both had been treating their kids.
I thought I had found a religious and spiritual mentor in my search for the True Church, and a best friend here in my own town instead of far away, one who would always be there for me throughout life.
But I believe I fell prey to a con man who eventually decided my husband and I were of no further use to him and his wife.
So instead of addressing the real issues, they made me a scapegoat, made up offenses and kept me always jumping over hoops.
Then because we no longer had much money to give them, I started doubting Richard’s wild stories, and I had let them know they abused their kids, they started treating my husband and I both very badly.
They found an imaginary complaint to skewer me over, so we would break off the friendship in disgust, but they would still be able to claim that it was my fault and not theirs.
Richard threatened my husband with physical violence and intimidated him. Then in 2010, I was proven correct about the abuse, when Richard choked his oldest daughter until she passed out. He plea bargained and served a year of probation.]
Warning: This page is 20,000 words, summarizing and venting a period of narcissistic abuse and mind control. I wrote it between December 2011 and April 2012. I am no longer in that dark place, but do not wish to censor my blog, which may have value for others in that dark place in their own lives.
You may want to click on the link at the bottom of the page to create a PDF.
Another option is the 4-page introduction here, a basic summary without all the details. It leads to a web book describing the whole story, but you can just read the intro if you prefer.
- That elusive bosom friend
- The evils of jealousy
- Tracy, the bullying, abusive wife
- Tracy: the narcissistic borderline abuser–and seeing her hang out of a van window
- The abuser refuses to feel remorse
- I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet
- Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural
- Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone
- Hoarder Houseguests
- Details of Tracy’s abuse of Richard and the children
- Tracy crazy-makes me
- Tracy refuses to allow cool-down period or apologize for verbal abuse
- Richard–though not the reason for the breakup–is also violent and volatile
- You say, “Shouldn’t you easily get over this a**hole?”–Here is why I could not
- Richard the Mafia thug, potential lady-killer, child beater and child choker
- Was he an abused, cringing husband–or a narcissist weaving webs around me?
- Struggling to get past the abuse
- Contemplating the evils of jealousy and abuse
- No epilogue of healing–yet
- Help from a website on abuse
Some friends just drift in and out of your life. Some hurt when they drift away, but you deal with it and move on. Some may anger you so much that losing them doesn’t bother you.
Losing a friend is not easy in any case, but it’s far more difficult when it was that one extra-special friend, the kind that’s so rare.
All my life I have wanted the elusive bosom friend that Anne Shirley spoke of. The friend who sticks with you for life, not a romance, not sex or marriage, which I already have, but a platonic friend. Frodo/Sam.
I’ve made close friends, but then somebody moved away, or classes/lunch periods changed. I wanted such a friend right here in my own town, not many miles away, separated for so many years that the friendship remains, but the closeness inevitably suffers.
I thought I finally found that friend when this one moved to my town. I had just prayed for a friend a few months before. “Jeff” and I both liked him and I thought he was that friend, an answer to prayer.
Gender makes no difference to me, never has, never will, and I believe that it’s ridiculous and old-fashioned to think that men and women can’t or shouldn’t be friends.
I have always believed that jealousy over opposite-sex friends is wrong and should not be tolerated. Life is much easier when you’re not freaking out over your spouse’s friends all the time, but just let him/her be a big boy/girl with personal autonomy and the ability to keep one’s pants on.
I’ve also always believed in freedom of personal expression; freedom to not hide that you care about your friends; freedom to send friends notes that read, “I miss you, let’s go out for coffee,” or “Your friendship is very special to me,” or whatever.
I will let no one tell me this is somehow “inappropriate.” Such an attitude sounds to me like unhealthy, puritannical repression.
Jealousy and controlling a spouse’s friendships are two major indicators of an abusive relationship. Even if the relationship is not abusive, jealousy is a poison that destroys it.
The wife, “Tracy,” forced my best friend and me apart, because she was always bullying everyone around her and blaming them for it, including me:
I saw her smack a tiny 3-year-old on the back of the head so hard the girl’s tongue flew out.
I saw her go nuts on two of the girls one evening, when they did nothing wrong that I could see. She just all of a sudden ran over and started screaming louder and louder, and yanking and throwing spanks around, so that even I was nervous and scared of her.
I’d hear her belittling the children.
When they lived with us, I heard her screaming at the kids all day long, ordering Richard around, making fun of him, making false accusations of him, even slapping him on the arm in anger.
One day, I heard her yelling and screaming at him louder and louder, making false accusations of him, while he just kept meekly saying “you’re right” and saying absolutely nothing in defense or argument back.
So I witnessed for myself some of what goes on behind closed doors, though I discovered later that she still tempered herself around me.
Richard told me later that she kept breaking the children’s spirits. He said he had to be there to keep her from abusing the kids. He said she cussed at the kids, and would yell and punch him as well.
He said if she ever hit his face, he would say “You’re not a woman” and hit her back.
Yet I was expected to be buddy-buddy with her.
She was never wrong; it was always me who needed to change behavior, or suffer the consequences. She constantly snarked at me.
She demanded respect but gave none to me; violated boundaries but accused me of doing this; needed to grow up but accused me of this.
At first I thought we were friends and liked her, but swiftly her mask fell and she began being mean to me, without apologies. However, she expected me to just overlook all this, blamed me for her own horrid behavior.
Several times, I considered breaking off the friendship with Richard so I wouldn’t have to deal with her, but his friendship was just too important to me.
My husband constantly got mad at her for how she treated me, said she has no trust in Richard, and got angry over how she kept screwing me over and bullying me.
Then she blew up at me with all sorts of filthy, unchristian profanity and false, filthy accusations. She vilified, ridiculed, belittled and humiliated me.
She called me stupid, said a 5-year-old could understand what I didn’t.
She blamed me for all her bad behavior, told me I deserved it, refused to take any blame on herself despite her obvious bad behavior.
She even posted on Facebook that because of this, “I’m having a GREAT day because I no longer have to sit back and be quiet and nice.” (HUH?)
Then Richard even yelled at and intimidated Jeff for saying that she had done things wrong as well.
After this, I just couldn’t take it anymore, so Jeff and I ended the friendship immediately.
Her post on Facebook proved that she enjoyed this, enjoyed my mistake, enjoyed her narcissistic rage, enjoyed flaying me alive with her tongue.
She even told me, after she started verbally abusing me, to not “go crying to Jeff” about this because “we don’t need the headache.” Just like any bully on the playground, telling you to tell no one what she’s done!
Tracy’s mother has been diagnosed and even hospitalized for borderline and multiple personality disorders. Richard told me he sees the traits in Tracy and all her sisters. He also told a mutual friend, Todd, that he sees some of her mother’s disorder traits in Tracy.
From this and the above evidence, along with supporting evidence from Todd, I believe that Tracy also has borderline personality disorder.
Todd also knows about Tracy’s family history, her mother’s disorder, and borderline traits.
He says that yes, Tracy has them all. Not just “some” as Richard said, but “all.”
So I’m not just grabbing some stuff off a couple of websites and making an armchair diagnosis: I have a whole slew of evidence that this is true.
Now some with this disorder recognize they have problems, and work with doctors/therapists to get it under control.
But a person with a disorder is an individual who can choose to handle it one way or another. Tracy blames her anger problems and abuse on others, and seems narcissistic as well. So while the disorder may not be her fault, her choices are.
I witnessed even more compelling evidence of borderline personality disorder in Tracy, one day about a year ago:
This was either October 5 or December 7, 2010, according to the school calendar, several months after we broke off the friendship. My son had a half-day, so I set off walking down the sidewalk past my house to fetch him around 11am, when who should I see driving past me on the street?
I had a clear view: They were facing me, so on my side of the street. There are no trees in that area between the sidewalk and the street. And no other cars were nearby.
I saw Richard driving that familiar minivan, and Tracy in the passenger seat.
Well, sort of in the seat: She was hanging half her body out the window—
head, shoulders, upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist, turned with her shoulders pointing one above and one below, arms flailing, not holding on (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)—
while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.
Obviously he was upset with her for hanging out the window.
I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me in those few seconds, since she was hanging out the window and facing me, with me just a few feet away from her.
I looked directly at them, rather than ignoring them as I usually do, because these few seconds were so unexpected. If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman. Did she try to yell at me?
What the heck was this about? There was no explanation for why on earth she’d hang half out the window. It was yet more bizarre behavior from this woman.
Other than on TV, I’ve never seen anybody else do anything like this in a moving vehicle. The speed limit around there is 25mph, and in a van, the ground is farther down.
I’m told that such behavior is common among people with borderline personality disorder.
This act is proof that I must consider the source before taking anything she said seriously.
It shows that it’s all her own issues, and not mine.
She fits many or all of the traits I find listed for malignant narcissist and/or borderline personality disorder, being from a family filled with abuse, yet refuses to take responsibility for them.
So it’s impossible for me to ever have a normal friendship with her.
There were times, shortly after the blowup, when I told Jeff I thought I was supposed to go to them and try to patch things up. But he’d say, “NO! SHE needs to apologize, not you!” He got furious with me for even thinking I had anything to apologize for.
To this day Tracy has expressed no remorse, guilt or repentance over what she did and said, which tells me very clearly that she’s not worth trying to be friends with.
In fact, when I tried a month later to patch things up, she said snottily, “You’re the ones who ended it and unfriended us on Facebook, not us,” and how Jeff had “stormed in” to their place (as opposed to her “rational” behavior, I suppose?).
Then, without any sort of apology for her rage episode, she started going on and on about all the supposedly horrible things I had done–things which were actually harmless, or things which I had actually been manipulated into with Richard’s lies. But she twisted them into something else entirely.
I kept trying to apologize and bite my tongue, but she did not relent, did not let up. I showed Jeff the e-mails; he got angry and said, “Oh baloney!” at what she wrote.
He said while she reacted one way to things I had done, he reacted completely differently, that I didn’t deserve how she treated me over it.
She obviously didn’t care about the truth, but only what she wanted to believe. So there was no point in trying to set her straight.
She refused to believe that I could act with pure intentions; she refused to see how she contributed to the problems.
She did the exact same thing two years previous with Todd (see below), who also found it maddening. So there was no reason to think she might be persuaded of the truth.
Also, she went over–yet again–things which were harmless, but which bothered her, so they hadn’t been done for more than two years. Yet she talked as if they constantly happened!
All I actually did was have a different philosophy and opinion to hers of what is okay behavior. All her bullying is not going to change that.
Then she wrote that there were even more things I supposedly did wrong. She wanted to tell me these things in person–or else I’d never be allowed to so much as contact Richard. I was forever barred from him–no Facebook, e-mail, or speaking to him–unless I allowed her to yell at me.
My mother called this very manipulative. Jeff was adamant that I should not let her do this.
(It is the same manipulative tactic used by cults, such as stories coming from Mars Hill Church in January/February 2012: Former members were shunned by all the other members. The only way to stop the shunning was to submit to either heavy-handed discipline, or meetings with leadership. In these meetings, they’d face interrogations about why they’re leaving the church. Who’d want to do that?)
I had no idea what else she could possibly be upset about.
But I was sick and tired of being blamed for everything, of being criticized by both of them for every little thing I did, of being expected to change everything about my natural personality to please her.
(Like being very quiet and shy, probably selectively mute. I was supposed to change this, rather than her accepting me the way I am–which would have allowed me to stop tensing up around her, in turn allowing me to open up to her.)
While she was allowed to have her way in everything, and I was expected to sit back and let her be as nasty as she wanted.
And whenever she did something hurtful or Richard was inconsiderate, I was expected to just “deal with it.”
Also, I saw what a “conference,” as she called it, with her was like:
Two years earlier, she pulled Todd into such a “conference” on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) because of what he did on an Internet game. She accused him of a power grab, working against her and being childish–when, in reality, he had been putting himself out trying to help her.
For hours upon hours, she yelled at him and made accusations. Meanwhile, he tried to tell her the truth. But she refused to listen to anything he said, ripping it apart instead.
When–out of frustration–he finally broke down and began to say bad things himself, she used this against him, and turned Richard against him as well.
Jeff saw nothing good coming out of a “conference” with her. He did not want to allow it, not when she first demanded it of me, nor a month later when she insisted on it again.
I did not know what supposed “behaviors” of mine were still left unsaid, what I did that was so horrible she couldn’t just let it go.
Her complaints were two years old and worn out already with retelling over the years. They had long since been dealt with. She said nothing new, and I knew of no other thing that could possibly be left to say.
Yet she insisted there was more.
She was not excluded. In fact, she was nearly always included in our get-togethers, especially since she did not allow Richard and me to even go out for coffee. So why did she keep saying I hadn’t “befriended” her enough to be allowed to go out for coffee etc.?
We invited her over for holiday dinners with the rest of the family. We went to their house to play Dungeons and Dragons with her and Richard. I invited her to do a movie night with me, but she never took me up on it.
I gave her things she desperately needed but couldn’t afford. I lent her my mixer, gave her fresh garden tomatoes, things like that. I occasionally paid her little compliments, or suggested local web forums. I gave her a lily cut from my garden.
Jeff said I behaved just fine when we were all together. He had no clue, either, what I had supposedly “done” that upset her so much.
But I have always resented being treated like my shyness and quietness is some kind of “choice,” when it’s been ingrained in me since birth. I’ve always been adrift in a world with social rules and requirements that I did not know or understand while all my peers did.
I always wondered how other kids seemed to just know what to say or do, or why the kids made fun of me all the time, or what I did that was so strange, or how other kids were able to sound outgoing and make their voices just the right level of loudness.
If you say, “They don’t just know what to do or say all the time, either–they’re just winging it,” well, I didn’t have the ability to “wing it,” whether it’s a social requirement or keeping up with conversation, and it never even would have occurred to me to do so.
I’ve always struggled even with simple greetings. It’s always been very hard for me to warm up enough to someone to talk freely to them.
While Tracy did everything she possibly could do to push me further and further into my shell, then blamed me for not being open and outgoing with her. And got Richard to help her do it, as he talked to me like I was just imagining my social problems and could change them any time I truly wanted to.
They basically stuck a sheep in with a wolf and forced the sheep to befriend the wolf, threatening that the wolf would eat her if she did not. Then blamed the sheep for being wary of the wolf, blamed the sheep for every bite the wolf took of her. This is bullying!
Richard used to be nice to me, even called me the most awesome person he knew, and his “dear, sweet Nyssa.” But whenever she was around, he became highly critical of everything I did or said.
With both of them, it didn’t seem to matter what it was, from big things to little things. But whatever I did, whatever I said, my tastes, my hatred of gory movies, political stances, childrearing, marital practices, it was all “wrong.”
(I got plenty of lectures on how I was wrong for disagreeing with Richard politically. Which is one reason why I want nothing more to do with his political persuasion, TEA Party, where such an attitude is common these days.)
Even things I posted on Facebook were “wrong.” It was bad enough getting this kind of bullying from her, but Richard doing it was heartbreaking.
He would actually lecture me about why I was wrong to do or say whatever it was, while she would just make fun of me.
He even complained that because I didn’t like mob movies or gory movies or action movies, he couldn’t show me all these great movies.
But if I don’t like such movies, and won’t enjoy them, then what is the point of showing them to me? Watch them with your guy friends! Show me something I will like instead!
His reasoning for criticizing me over this was very selfish. Even Tracy got after him for it!
She pushed me further into my shell by being nasty to other people, verbally and sometimes physically abusive to Richard and the children in my presence, making fun of me all the time, treating every single thing I did as either a slight against her or some horrible, awful thing.
She even ripped on me to her mother one day when she knew I was right there in the bathroom, with half-truths. (I was too feeding them vegetables! The kind of stuff they wanted was far too expensive for feeding eight people every day, while they provided no financial help at all. And that week’s menu was made up while we were cleaning up the lice they brought into the house!)
She ripped on things that were none of her business. (Who cares if Jeff did the cooking instead of me while our son was small?)
She angered and frightened me constantly. When Richard’s online friends–who I believe also hung out in 4chan (which spawned Anonymous), and found goatses (links to hardcore porn) to be funny–started making fun of me and making disgusting comments about my genitals, she came in the chat room and began joking around with them and invited them to her house!
The incident was sexual harassment and traumatized me, yet she treated it lightly.
(Then a year later, when I complained to Richard because their names kept coming up in conversation and he had invited them to his house again, he sent me a nasty e-mail. On the phone he said I was “being ridiculous,” the stuff online “isn’t real and I thought you knew that,” and told me to “get over it.” This guy wanted to be a priest?)
She pushed me further into my shell by making fun of me for putting bug spray and sunscreen in a backpack and taking it into the backyard with me so I wouldn’t have to run into the house for them from my comfy chair.
She pushed me further in by going into a bizarre, jealous rant over me wishing Richard a fun trip and saying I’d miss him. And by ripping on me about a Facebook post about Greekfest raffle tickets having to be sold in person.
These two things–which I believe happened in June 2010–made me decide to stop liking her posts or saying a word about any of them, because I was sick and tired of her either snarking on or deleting everything I said.
Then she blamed me for not being open, friendly and outgoing with her, which was one of her biggest rips on me the day of the blowup.
Tracy’s other rip was on things which Richard had originally done. Some of them at first freaked me out, so he convinced me they were perfectly fine and normal, natural things for platonic friends to do. He, my guru, taught me that Americans are too uptight about those things.
I knew I was too reserved, I’d experienced the openness of SCA culture, and I had a girlfriend who for years had been trying to get me to open up more to people.
Jeff also saw these things as harmless.
No, it was nothing “illicit”–basically things like hugs, using a shoulder for a pillow, going for coffee, or even talking in the parking lot, innocent things that close friends or siblings could do.
I always keep Jeff informed on my friendships, not out of compulsion, but voluntarily.
There was no affair, no professions of love, no sneaking around, none of that. And, to be honest, Richard had not aged well, was morbidly obese, and had poor hygiene, so he was not sexually attractive.
I also did not want to leave my employed (and in much better shape and hygiene) husband for him, and end up living dirt-poor.
Neither one of us had any intention of taking it beyond platonic friendship.
But “Tracy” talked as if the things above had all been my idea from the beginning, and treated me like some skanky ho.
To me they were completely harmless, now that Richard had woven his web on my NVLD gullibility and naivete, and made me believe whatever he told me, no matter what the subject (such as, that there would be martyrdom of American Orthodox believers in our lifetime, because of Obama’s election).
They also hadn’t been done for more than two years because we found out they upset her.
But her rules and requirements (as noted here) kept changing back and forth, back and forth, and were applied without any prior warning. So I never could get a handle on what they even were. They were apparently deliberately placed so high that I could not meet them, and she kept sabotaging them.
She even got angry when I did something to help her, which Richard had begged me to do, and which I thought would make her happy.
So it was impossible to please her, and she kept punishing me for it.
It did not feel like an equal relationship as friendships are supposed to be, but a constant attempt by Tracy to subjugate and control me, a power struggle, probably because I recognized her abuses of Richard and the children for what they were.
The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. —Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome
The above certainly applies to me, since I kept copying what Richard was doing as a guide to what was okay for me to do, but then got treated like some kind of slut for it.
I got the impression Richard wasn’t explaining to her that these things were his idea in the first place. See, he kept reporting to me how she would b*ch about me for doing or wanting to do them–even though these things were only done a few times, and never again after she complained.
It reminds me very much of Shawn from college, a “friend” who kept luring me and pushing me to do things I otherwise would not have done, and then afterwards treated me like a cheap whore who had lured him.
Yet in Richard’s case, these were just little things like wanting to go out for coffee, talk in the parking lot about my husband losing his job and me wanting a friend to cry to, or falling asleep leaning against a friend’s soft shoulder.
Going out to a nearby restaurant for ice cream, falling asleep on my shoulder, and giving me long, sweet hugs expressing his gratitude and friendship, had been his idea from the beginning.
He reassured me they were perfectly fine, nothing to worry about, all meant in platonic friendship, all perfectly innocent, things he does with people all the time.
Nothing even close to what Shawn got me doing, yet I was treated by Tracy as if it were, and by Richard himself as if it had been all my idea and what on earth could I have been thinking.
It’s very confusing, because I see my other friends doing all these same things and nobody treats them like cheap whores.
But Tracy seemed determined to make sure I felt like one for doing or wanting to do things that were harmless–
Even for wanting to get coffee with my best friend.
Even for wanting to chat with him about music for a bit while we were roommates, without her hovering over us like we’d start making out if she turned her back on us.
Even for wanting to go out in the parking lot for a few minutes with Richard so we could talk over the many problems that had arisen.
(I was astonished to see her actually give Richard an icy glare one night during our roommate days. He looked at her like she was going to beat him up, just because I asked him–in front of her, so hardly sneaking around–to go outside with me for a few minutes to talk! Then she insisted that she be nearby in the parking lot while we talked! It’s as if she expected us to start doing the nasty if she left us alone!)
I feel manipulated by Richard, that he identified my gullibility and naïvete and preyed on it, then let me drown in Tracy’s fury. The best lies are mostly true. It makes me very angry with him.
Tracy seemed to think that I would react the same way she did in her place. But no, I would act nothing like that:
Jeff has many good female friends whom I barely know; I trust him with them. I don’t need to hover, don’t need to “approve” them, don’t even need to meet them. And if something raises an eyebrow, I’d ask him about it without blaming. He would then reassure me, and that would be that.
If I saw some girl fall asleep on his shoulder in a bardic circle around a campfire at an SCA event, I would just think, Hey, it’s the SCA, and people are friendly here. Or the girl is passed out drunk.
In fact, when we were first going out, he had a friend who I was sure did not like me, even though I tried to befriend her. But I let him go off and talk with her, because it was not up to me to allow or deny him talking with his friends. He just did it, and I said nothing about it, because it was not my place.
I feel that marrying has made no difference in that, either: If she came around again now, I’d have no objections to him talking to her.
And Richard allowed Tracy to behave irrationally, to control him, to treat me in a manner I did not deserve–
rather than stand up to her and say her behavior was wrong and insulted their hostess and benefactress–
the one who had shown her friendship, by being so kind to them both as to let them stay in her house and find jobs in a new state.
Tracy kept trying to tell me I was wrong for wanting to chat with my best friend without her hovering, but I was not.
For one thing, Richard and I were Internet/phone friends for two years already before I even met her, and for two months in person, watching movies and chatting for hours.
To suddenly tell me that I was behaving “inappropriately” by wanting to continue doing this, that “everybody” knows this, was ridiculous, crazy-making behavior. It was changing the rules on me in the middle of the game.
It was making a behavior a “sin” when it never had been a sin, for the purpose of labeling me a sinner. And not because I really was one, but because it pleased her to make me seem like one.
For as long as we knew each other, she kept treating me like I was the problem, but I was not.
When, while they lived with us, she overheard me telling Jeff privately about her icy glare at Richard and all that was going on, and that Tracy was possessive and controlling (her behavior infuriated him), she got furious with me.
She told Richard I was manipulating Jeff. She made Richard think there was something wrong with me for not behaving as she wanted me to. She influenced him to actually accuse me of disrespecting and insulting her even though I did neither.
She began ripping on me to him or her mother on the phone when she knew I would overhear. She began driving a wedge between Richard and me by constantly going on and on and on to him about my horrible lack of character. She began making his life miserable as long as I was in it.
My mother told me that Tracy needed to grow up.
Jeff noted that Richard showed no empathy, no desire to see another side of things. He couldn’t get him to see that Tracy’s treatment of me was insulting.
This lack of empathy has continued for all the time I’ve known Richard in person. I also tried to get him to understand that Tracy was pushing me away and into my shell with her nastiness, that I couldn’t be blamed for that, but he just refused to see it.
Meanwhile, I felt pushed into letting them stay with us–and they were bad houseguests, complaining about the food and making it impossible for me to keep up the cleanliness of the house.
They brought their filthy habits into my house, such as dirty laundry constantly piled on my living room floor, and even brought cockroaches and lice.
For six weeks, I fought to keep up the place, and tried not to go crazy as an introvert with no place to go to recharge (it was winter)–while dealing with this jealous, hostile person in my house (Tracy) who complained about everything I did.
First Richard stayed with us for two months by himself, and that was fine. But then one day he just sprang it on us that the rest of the family was coming as well. He didn’t even have an apartment secured yet!
He didn’t ask either one of us, just said they were coming. We had zero room for them, and it was extremely inconvenient to put them all up, with no spare beds, no spare rooms, and no spare money–while they gave us absolutely no money for their own upkeep.
Then Tracy began acting mean all the time to the kids, to Richard, and to me. Tracy had the nerve to complain about the food we served, to say she felt “unwelcome,” and to become hostile to me.
Tracy was on very thin ice, bringing this filth into my house and treating me like crap. So I almost threw her out, but it was a cold, harsh winter, and there were three small children as well. Instead, I kept begging Richard to find a new place and get out.
In the weeks after they finally moved out, I kept finding their stuff and putting it in a bag with their mail, then asking Richard to pick it up.
Then one day, Richard told me that Tracy was fighting him “tooth and nail” just for wanting to come over for ten minutes and pick up their things! Even though supposedly we were all still friends who kept having get-togethers, and even though it was their own stuff!
In April 2008, she even yelled at me for trying to get ahold of Richard when he promised we were going to make plans to do something that day!
Just the night before, we had been at their house, socializing like friends, while dropping off/picking up my son for babysitting, but now she was yelling at me.
Yet somehow, they both expected me to forget all that, accept it as my due punishment, act like she was a wonderful, sweet person, and befriend her, have long conversations with her, share secrets with her, etc.
And somehow, on 7/1/10, when Jeff tried to sort things out with Richard, Richard got into his face, raged at him, towered over him, intimidated him, and got furious with him for even suggesting that Tracy held some responsibility for our problems!
Either Richard is so entrenched in Stockholm Syndrome and the FOG that he can no longer see things for how they really are instead of how he wishes them to be (out of fear of being beaten)–or he is an a**hole himself and just hid it from me really well so he could get free food/babysitting out of me.
It’s exactly the same kind of enabling behavior that so angers him about Tracy’s family and her BPD mother.
If you think any of what Tracy did is somehow “okay” or “her right” (as she thought), then switch roles and think how you would see a man treating his wife’s friend this way.
Wouldn’t you think he was a controlling, abusive b**tard? And wouldn’t you think the wife was behaving like a beaten-down, abused wife who thinks she’s to blame for everything he does?
And Richard knew what it was like to be in my shoes, because the wife of his friend Chris constantly fought Chris over being friends with Richard. She fought him “tooth and nail” over going out for coffee with Richard, kept trying to separate Richard and Chris!
On March 22, 2009, I received an e-mail. I won’t post the e-mail, out of privacy concerns for Richard, but it spoke of domestic disputes and child abuse, specifically using the terms “assaulting” the children with “verbal abuse.”
The conversation ended because right then, she came into the room. She got upset with him for shutting down the e-mail, because she was jealous of his friendship with me (even though we never so much as kissed and had kept up boundaries), and felt she had the right to see anything he wrote to me.
(I was upset by this, because my husband respects my privacy, and I didn’t want this woman who liked to bully me, snooping into and reading my e-mails about my private thoughts, painful history, hopes, fears, etc. etc.)
He reassured her that it wasn’t about her, even though it was. We were exchanging e-mails on a (now-defunct) online game, so I saw the green light go out that showed he was online. I wondered what happened to him.
At first I was going to let this message vanish automatically, because private messages on that game vanished after a certain amount of time. But then I realized it was evidence I might need some day, if Richard or Tracy were to go so far one day that the police became involved.
So I printed up the message and saved it, along with a record of the conversation Richard and I had the following day over the phone:
He told me that she hits him. I had seen her smack his arm on a few occasions, but this apparently was worse.
I asked if it was slaps or punches; I believe he said punches. It sounded like she’s been physically battering him.
He doesn’t hit back because she’s a woman. But he says that if she ever hits his face, he’ll tell her, “You’re no longer a woman,” and fight back.
He says you never hit a man in the face, and that in our state, she’d be the one going to jail because she started the fight and male judges will recognize that she started the fight by hitting him in the face.
He says it goes in cycles, where things are fine for a while, then problems begin again. Sounds like the classic abuse cycle.
This information was frightening. But I was still forced to be best buds with her, or else.
Tracy crazy-makes me
In June 2009, Richard said all his other friends could do all the things for which Tracy got mad at me.
Then Richard finally signaled me in late 2009/early 2010 that all these restrictions of the past had been removed. This made me believe that I had finally met her requirements and anything I did was perfectly fine with her now.
To explain, because it would be too embarrassing to keep asking if I had met them yet, I asked him to signal me that I had. The signal was to ask me to coffee/ice cream/etc., one of those things that had been forbidden. I told him the signal would mean that I was allowed to do all the things all his other friends could do.
He wrote back that “She knows about the hugs and the whatnot. It’s all good.” Basically, everything that was okay for him to do with other friends, such as hugs, he could do with me.
Then one night, he asked me to go get sushi with him. I wasn’t able to because it was frickin’ midnight. But he would not have done this if it were still forbidden. I told him to (except for such a late hour) just give me a day/time, but he apparently forgot about it.
It was a huge relief, and made me jubilant to know that I had finally satisfied all her requirements and could do all the things with him that any of his other friends could do, with her blessing.
We could hug, we could go out for coffee, whatever; it was all okay with the wife. And I have it in writing.
So the way she acted in late spring/early summer 2010 (snarks, jealousy, narcissistic rage over hugs) just came out of nowhere, and was obviously her trying to make me crazy.
I got the strong impression that Richard had never explained the truth to her. That even in July 2010 (the day of the blowup/breakup), he preferred to let her rage at me over an e-mail about something which (he convinced me) had been harmless (the hugs of gratitude), rather than tell her the truth and get raged at himself.
Either that, or she was engaging in gaslighting and classic crazy-making behavior, with which abusers are okay with something one day, then the next they get mad at you for it.
In any case, I don’t really know anymore what to believe, because I see my SCA friends doing exactly the same things and everybody thinks it’s perfectly fine.
And Richard really should not have done/asked me to do things which Tracy would not approve of, and then told me not to worry about his intentions.
Richard told me numerous times that hugs were perfectly fine with her. We hugged in front of her many times because of his reassurances.
On July 1, 2010, she now raged at me over the hugs of gratitude.
The hugs I referred to in my e-mail to Richard, were done out in the parking lot for all the neighbors to see. I thought for sure that Jeff saw us out the kitchen window.
I felt no shame from the hugs, no need to hide them from anyone, because they were purely platonic expressions of friendship, platonic love and gratitude.
In fact, I kept expecting that one day Richard would give me one of these hugs right in front of Tracy and she would be perfectly fine with it, because he said hugs were okay with her.
There was absolutely nothing wrong or illicit in what I wrote in my e-mail to Richard, no professions of passionate love, nothing to justify how she reacted.
It was all her own imagination, reading things in that were not there, because of her insecurity and possessiveness.
My e-mail was part of a series of e-mails Richard and I had been exchanging since an argument several days previous, and we were now patching things up. I was trying to remind him of how nice he used to be, because he’d been so mean to me lately.
I expected the e-mail to make him happy, that he would reply with an “Awww, yes, I remember that.” I often say sweet things like this to friends, male and female, and normally it pleases them.
But even Richard noted previously that Tracy was a jealous person in general, and how it affected him and lost him friendships.
In her rage over this e-mail, Tracy went on and on about how I should have known better than to do various things without “befriending” her first.
But once again, she obviously considered me a friend now or Richard would not have asked me to get sushi with him.
And they were all things that Richard had first done with me, several times for each thing (sleeping on my shoulder, going out for ice cream, hugs of gratitude), with no indication that they had to be cleared with her first.
But she made them out to be my idea from the beginning, treated me like some whore for even thinking of doing them, and gave Richard no responsibility at all for any of them.
Even though he influenced me with his smooth talk into thinking he did nothing wrong.
She twisted these things beyond recognition into some kind of dirty, sneaky cheating. She screamed about how I did not understand “boundaries.”
Um, I think you need to say this to Richard, not me. I’m not the one with the boundary problem. I merely followed his lead as he reassured me what he did was perfectly okay and not cheating at all.
But he threw me under the bus, allowing her to rage at me and even telling Jeff she was going “easy” on me.
When he knew DANG well that he was letting her tear into me over something that had been his own idea, something that he himself convinced me was perfectly innocent.
When he himself had committed two gaffes that I knew about, one of which had caused at least as big of an uproar, something he said or did that had been completely misunderstood by an ex-girlfriend.
His betrayal left me reeling.
I was now being falsely accused of something I had not and had never done, yet she refused to believe otherwise. In fact, as I said, Richard himself had done these hugs I referred to.
If she had only behaved like an adult and inquired into the truth before blowing up in a narcissistic/borderline rage like a toddler throwing a tantrum, she would’ve found this out.
Borderline personality disorder leads to seeing offense where there is none, and volatile behavior. So she saw things I did in innocence, without meaning to offend her, things which had nothing to do with her normally, as offensive to her. And she blew up in irrational, manipulative rages.
I can say this because I am not the only one. She has done this to Richard–and I have witnessed her doing it.
Two years earlier, I and an entire forum witnessed her blowing up at mutual friend Todd. She refused to believe that he did not do what she accused him of–even though it was quite plain from the original chat logs and forum posts that she completely misunderstood what he actually did.
She probably did this out of spite because he, too, saw her as abusive and avoided her. In those chat logs and forum posts, others also grew exasperated as they tried to intervene and reason with her.
Add that to:
- her very obvious overreaction to my wishing Richard a fun trip etc.
- her smacking a tiny 3-year-old hard on the back of her head
- her screaming at one of the kids for tucking her pantlegs into her snowboots (poor girl only did what you’re supposed to do in this climate)
- her blowing up at the kids just out of nowhere one day, and yelling and grabbing and spanking them for no reason at all
- and her hanging half out of a moving vehicle going 30 miles an hour one day
–and I have every reason to believe that her reaction to what I did was that of a narcissist or borderline.
Especially since my own husband saw nothing wrong with what I did, and got furious with her for how she treated me over it.
Note that borderline can co-exist with narcissistic personality disorder. While a borderline who is not narcissistic can recognize his or her own bad behaviors, and apologize and work to change them, a borderline who is also a narcissist is more likely to abuse you without remorse.
While a personality disorder can explain why a person behaves a certain way, abuse can be perpetrated by anyone, and must not be tolerated, no matter what the reason. Especially if the abuser feels no remorse.
I never noted a hint of remorse from Tracy for her abuses.
And also note that it’s very common for abusers, after they’ve abused you, to claim that they somehow went “easy” on you and that everyone else would have treated you much worse for your “misdeed.”
And to feel pleased and relieved that they have abused you, and act like it was nothing.
Linda’s owner, in “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” did this to her.
Richard and Tracy made that very same claim about Tracy’s overreaction and verbal abuse to me, saying “99%” of people would’ve reacted worse, even though I did not do what she pretended I did.
But when Jeff asked some friends how they would have reacted to the same thing, they all said they would merely have teased me mercilessly and then moved on, because that’s what friends do.
I certainly refuse to be lectured about “boundaries” and “appropriate behavior” by someone who constantly violated my boundaries and constantly behaved inappropriately to me. She talked as if she had never approved anything, even though she obviously had or Richard would not have asked me to go get sushi with him!
Right before the blowup that ended the friendship, Richard tried to tell me that I don’t have NVLD because NVLD=Asperger’s and I’m not autistic–
Dang it, NVLD is not autism! NVLD is also not Asperger’s! Asperger’s and NVLD are similar in many ways, but they’re not the same!
Then on the day of the blowup Tracy started ripping on the NVLD as well as if I were just making it up and had no actual social issues. This is bullying! It shows a huge lack of empathy on both their parts, and a refusal to even consider another point of view to their own.
Jeff’s response to Tracy’s behavior through all this: “No, Tracy does not get her way!”
Making a complete, permanent break was rough on me because I missed Richard. Though Jeff and I made the break ourselves, I was miserable, constantly crying and dragging through the days.
My solution was to take a six-month, amicable break, and come at things after we all had a chance to cool down. But this wasn’t good enough for Tracy.
This was a full month past the breakup, when they came to my church, and I took this as a possible sign they wanted to make peace. I discussed things for a bit with Richard, and it looked promising.
But in discussions later on with Tracy, I discovered that a month was not long enough for her to cool down one iota.
Now, most people would probably regret quick tempers and yelling at good friends, and apologize after a month. But not Tracy.
Apparently she wanted to have her chance to yell at me for being different from her, for being naturally shy and quiet, for believing her to be an abuser and a bully instead of a sweet, wonderful person surrounded by flowers and bunnies.
Well, Jeff wasn’t about to let that happen. He was sick of her abusing his sweet wife.
My priest said the idea for a break was very wise. Jeff was also on board with it.
But instead of taking the break, Tracy replied with a nasty e-mail saying,
“Have a nice life,” that I threw their “olive branch back in our faces,” and that I know where they live if I decide to “GROW UP and stop feeling hurt over the consequences of YOUR behavior.”
Essentially, making it clear:
- That I was not allowed to object to her nastiness and false accusations or have an opinion of my own.
- That she felt no regret whatsoever for abusing and bullying me.
- That she still blamed her lack of self-control on me.
- That I was not even allowed to be friends with Richard until I capitulated to her demands and agreed with her.
Essentially, she was extremely manipulative. My priest said that her response proved the true nature of her friendship.
My priest also said, “WHAT olive branch?”
Um, I’m the one who extended an olive branch, they dug in their heels, and then she threw it back at me.
Forcing me to submit to her abuse or else, and not letting me have a voice or opinion of my own, is her idea of an olive branch?
So even a month later, she still showed no signs of repentance, no acceptance of responsibility for her own part in things, no connection of our breaking off the friendship to her own rage episode.
All I saw was that she threw a huge temper tantrum and then, when Jeff and I reacted like grownups–breaking things off rather than engaging in a long, drawn-out crap-slinging fest–she accused us of having the tantrum and needing to grow up.
Say what? Have I toppled into Opposite Land?
In fact, both of them minimized her rage episode and pointed their fingers at me as being to blame for her lack of control–
as she took no responsibility whatsoever for her own bad behavior, and he enabled her abuse.
I was dismayed at her lack of repentance, but so desperate to regain my friendship with Richard that I almost gave in.
When at first she thought she was going to get victory and control over me at last, her sadistic pleasure was so obvious you could almost taste it.
But then I suggested the break, and she lost her control–and what remained of her composure.
She accused me of needing to “GROW UP” because I didn’t just roll over and say, “Thank you, ma’am, may I have another?” It was absolutely bizarre–and classic abusive behavior.
The only way to pacify her and satisfy her was to:
- beg forgiveness for all the “bad” things I supposedly did (even though they really weren’t so bad)
- accept all her abuse of me as deserved
- and become a totally different person who is never shy or quiet, and turns a blind eye when she abuses others.
I’d have to break down the shell I put up to protect myself after seeing her rage against others–and hearing how she raged about me when I wasn’t around.
Her gaslighting and scapegoating of me was sometimes subtle, but constant; I saw her do it to others as well.
The friendship breakup was because of her, not because of Richard.
It’s because of her that I had to leave to repair the psychological damage and restore/protect myself, because of her that I can’t go back.
Good riddance to her! I don’t miss her one bit, don’t regret having her no longer in my life.
If this were just about her, I’d have been over the grief a long time ago, would merely be working on the complex post-traumatic stress disorder that she caused.
If this were just about her, I’d shake off her poisonous words and move on.
Her friends may not want to believe it, because she can turn on the charm when she chooses, but she is indeed a predator. I witnessed her rages against me and against others far too often.
I will never let her back into my life: It’s hard enough trying to undo all the damage she’s already done, without letting her do more of it.
But even though Richard was not the main offender, he did threaten my husband for sticking up for me, and tell him he gets “physically violent easily if triggered.”
All because one day (shortly before the blowup that ended the friendship) I confronted Richard with how he had been bullying me of late, telling me what to think, etc.
I’d tried already to get him to talk with me about various issues for the past couple of months–
only to get nasty e-mails back from him that blamed me for being upset, accused me of not addressing the problems properly (even though I was trying to deal with them in a reasonable, adult fashion), and didn’t allow me to have legitimate concerns.
He instructed me to be blunt with him when he did something wrong. So I followed his instructions to a T, even though I preferred to use diplomacy.
Even though I did exactly what he told me to do, he sent an e-mail to Jeff claiming that I “bit hard.” Jeff replied, “You’ve been biting hard yourself lately, and I’ll give examples if asked.”
So Richard wrote a threatening e-mail of what would happen if Jeff gave his opinions/examples.
Once again, I was the one apologizing, and this time Jeff was as well.
Here is the e-mail verbatim, and I’ll highlight the parts you especially need to notice:
I typed this out three times now, and it would be best if you said to me nothing about your opinion.
I do not want to hit you with a brick the next time I see you, as for some reason I am racing with adrenaline right now like back when I worked for the INS and was ready to open fire on the lineup with rubber rounds.
I am pumped and psyched out at the moment, ready to fight, verbally and physically.
I have to admit I have not felt this for years, and if could apply it to working out I just might get my metabolism back in line, which would be a good thing.
Problem is I get physically violent easily if triggered.
It’s no excuse and wrong, I admit. Hence why it would be best if you not say anything.
I am going to jog this off right now. Cheers! Contact me this week, and let’s drop the subject.
I cleared it up with Nyssa already anyways. But you already know.
That last sentence was a rip on me confiding my problems in my own husband.
Over time I began to realize just how dangerous Richard is.
He also blamed me for and minimized his wife’s abuse, enabled her abuse, which was baffling and heartbreaking.
I saw him do the same thing to mutual friend Todd two years previous, the one whom Tracy raged at and chased away because of an Internet game. (I go into more detail about this in the full version of the story, which is here.)
Richard seemed to have a confused sense of morality: Bad was often good, good was often bad. Some examples:
- He thought assaulting a person for cheating with your wife was justified.
- He had no problem with hating his political enemies.
- He posted a picture online for his horny IRC buddies of his wife’s breasts. Only the lower parts with the nipples were covered.
- He’d post that he was “sexing” women in the chatroom.
- He often ran a music webcast. One evening, he knew I was listening, along with his IRC buddies, because we were all chatting at the same time. Yet he started faking an orgasm–well beyond the bounds of good taste, especially when he knew I was listening. But he complained when I complained. (Yet jokes I made, which were extremely tame compared to these things, sometimes got strange reactions from Richard and/or Tracy.)
- He called me a prude for not liking gory movies.
- He considered it my problem that I got upset that he kept saying he’d call, or bring the family and come visit our family, or whatever, and then stand me/us up.
- When he told me his wife had been punching him, he said he would hit back if she hit his face, and no judge would convict him–something he’d been researching! What he should have done was get out of that situation, not put her at risk of death and him at risk of jail.
And all sorts of evidence has piled up that he has narcissistic tendencies, including his claim that he hypnotized me without my knowing, manipulated me into saying things when I resisted saying them. (I still have a printout of the chat in which he told me this.)
He also manipulated me in other ways, then allowed me to be the scapegoat. If I told him he did something that hurt me, he put the blame on my shoulders, saying he wasn’t responsible for my feelings (which is an a**hole thing to say).
He was charming and arrogant, constantly bragging and telling some amazing stories that I had no way to verify. Even my husband noted that Richard lacked empathy for my social struggles.
He began to seem like a chameleon, behaving differently around different people, or behaving differently according to which handle he used on the Net.
For example, one handle was gentle and pious, one was pious but occasionally argumentative, while yet another handle was downright mean.
He acted one way with me. But eventually I noticed him behaving differently–more crass and less like a pious man–with friends who were crass and of dubious morals.
He did complain about “pampering” me, but not until several years had passed, making me wonder how much of what I knew of his personality and character, was even real.
This was before I suspected him of narcissism. “Narcissists are empty vessels; they reflect back your personality so as to attract you” (Adrian Tempany, When Narcissism Becomes Pathological).
Then there was the way he’d pull me in, tell me how awesome I was, want to spend time with me–
Then another time he’d devalue and discard, treat me like I was annoying him, disrespect my time and feelings, ignore my e-mails, poke fun at or criticize everything I did in real life or on Facebook, make me feel like a stalker for saving all my letters or wanting to spend time with him.
(Odd–Shawn also expressed “concern” once that I wrote in my diary everything he did with me. Is there fear of exposure? I have no worries about people writing in diaries about me or saving all their letters to/from me!)
Then he’d start treating me like a close friend again and want to chat with me.
This is classic narcissistic behavior, make someone feel very important to him, then devalue and discard the person; the cycle played out again and again.
You’re always kept on your toes; I always wondered where I stood with him, but he called me paranoid.
He used to call me all the time, want to chat with me all the time. Then he barely called at all except when he wanted something.
I also saw him begin to replace me with another friend, a bright new shiny friend, who agreed with all his wacky politics.
When he and his wife were both together, they would gang up on me and make me feel like everything I did was somehow “wrong” or “creepy” or whatever. For instance, he called me a stalker and she made fun of me because I save all my letters to and from friends!
Or she would rip on me or make some snide comment and he would just ignore it.
Or the time she exploded on me in a jealous rage publicly on Facebook for saying I would miss him on his vacation.
“I’ll miss you dearly, but have fun!” is exactly what I said.
Meanwhile, he just let her go off on me for that statement, leaving Jeff to have to stick up for me.
But then another time it would just be Richard and me chattering away, and I’d feel like a very important person to him, someone he loved like a sister and wanted to spend time with and confide in or talk with about religion.
It was crazy-making behavior, and gaslighting. But during the good times, I very much felt like he valued my friendship, wanted me around, considered me one of his closest and dearest friends.
But when he was my friend, I didn’t see the narcissism. I thought he was gentle and bighearted, and too hard on himself.
You’d think that would be enough to make me wash my hands of him. But it doesn’t help that I considered him my best and closest friend. That he was the one I went to about religion.
He’s the one I found to help light my way as I searched for the True Church, the original doctrines. He already found it before I did.
We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches. We could sympathize with each other about suffering through contemporary church services.
We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge and interest. We could discuss the meaning of original sin, or whether River of Fire is a good source of Orthodox doctrine. We could discuss what it means to experience the Holy Spirit.
I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them. I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.
I could tell him what led me away from Western doctrines, without feeling judged for turning to “heresies.”
I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things, at least not from the same background, baseline knowledge, amount of interest and same denomination.
I asked him about difficult points of Orthodox doctrine or practices. I asked him how to forgive people who had hurt me years before. I lamented to him about Internet-Orthodoxy and its legalism.
He was my spiritual mentor. He was the one to whom I always wrote details of church meetings or services which had been especially interesting.
Who else can I write these things to, who has the same level of interest? I wrote to him about my church because he was the one who led me there. And these things led to sharing about our life experiences and troubles.
I told him my secrets, and he told me his. He was my counselor, as I poured out my heart to him about various issues I dealt with, details of how I’d been bullied growing up, and how I’d been used and abused by college exes–including private details which I normally told no one, because of their nature.
I told him these things because I trusted him completely, was comfortable telling him.
I told him funny stories of things that happened day-to-day, or dreams. I shared with him thoughts about movies I watched, books I read, life stories. We talked for hours at a time.
He lived with us for a time, so became like part of the family, like an adopted brother, so I could tell him things I didn’t tell other people.
We could joke back and forth with each other and play off each other so easily that one guy once said, “I love it when you guys are here!”
We went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy.
We also had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres, 80s, New Wave–and yet knowing some of the same Christian artists as well.
He had actually been a Goth, while I was interested in Goth culture, did as much “Gothyness” as I could do in a small city in the Midwest.
Because of our similar backgrounds, we both knew about the Thief in the Night series, Left Behind, and other such things.
We were even the same age, so had the same nostalgia for TV shows or movies we grew up with. We both liked watching EWTN. We were both interested in paranormal investigations.
It just seems impossible to replace him. I found these elements of our friendship especially valuable and important, especially appealing, making me so attached to his friendship.
Every time something comes up that before I would write in a quick e-mail to him, I wonder, Is there anyone I can tell this to?
Sometimes I can, but many times, I can’t. So I start wishing I could write that e-mail to him, because nobody else would understand, or nobody else is privy to those things.
Where else am I to find someone like this?
I try to remind myself of all the violence, the self-seeking, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else–
–as if he were a car or a computer that can just be exchanged for something new and better.
And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.
That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to my husband and me, ready to abandon the violence and arrogance that pushed Jeff and me away, ready to start anew.
That’s why I’m filled anew with grief every time I see him at church, he says not a word to me, and I feel I must avoid him, push him away, because of his violence and betrayal, because I can’t trust him.
I barely make it through the service without collapsing in a puddle of tears.
Trying to keep in Orthodoxy has also become a struggle, because everything about it reminds me of him. Sometimes I’m tempted to just give all of it up.
Except that this perfect friend, the saintly image I had of this person–
which was molded over the first two and a half years of our online/phone friendship–
diverges so much from the way he acted in real life, and the things which came out about him, and the way he treated me, over the two and a half years after that, that I wonder how much of this image was real.
The image I had in 2007, was not the kind of person to plan to assault a landlady, or choke a child and then act contemptuous of the cops who charged him with it.
Both things happened:
He called me up one day and said he was going to attack the woman who was evicting his family! He would not let her see who was attacking her. He would “make it look like I was never there.”
He claimed he used to be a Mafia thug, so he knew how to do this.
It sounded like he was going to kill her! And no, it was not a joke; he was serious!
He hung up, then called back a few minutes later to say his wife talked him out of it.
And a few months after our friendship breakup, he choked his eldest daughter until she passed out, and then she told police.
He was convicted via plea bargain, declared guilty, put on probation for a year. And this is on the public record, was published by the newspaper.
The saintly image was not the kind of person who betrays friends, bullies them, or threatens them with violence. (He also betrayed Todd and wanted to beat him up.)
The saintly image was not the kind of person who puts politics higher than friendship.
The saintly image was not the kind of person to hang around with creeps online–
–and then tell me to “get over it,” and scold me for still being upset about them sexually harassing me.
The saintly image was not the kind of person to do various other things that caused me hurt and dismay.
Yet that’s what he turned out to be.
My image was of a righteous person trying to turn away from violence and sin, trying to stifle all the dangerous and destructive passions on his way to theosis. Was any of this image for real?
The friend I knew in 2007 would never have choked his own child. Yet there it is, plain as day, something he truly did and can be verified, can be proven with mug shots, details, newspaper reports.
For the past three months since I discovered what he did, my mind has been like the robots on the Harry Mudd episode of Star Trek, going in an endless loop between the truth and what I thought was the truth, until it finally blows up.
I knew by then that Richard still had a violent temper, though for most of the time I knew him, I thought this temper had been pushed down and dominated by Christian piety.
He had told me when he moved in with us that he had a violent past. This scared me, and made me wonder if I should have let him move in, but I promptly forgot much of what he said.
I do recall something about his time as a border guard, and that when he was a kid he beat up another kid so bad that he still had the scar on his knuckle.
But he gave me the impression that much of this happened during a period of agnosticism long before he converted to Orthodoxy. That he was using the tools of Orthodoxy to control his temper. To me he appeared to have a very even temper.
One day I heard him screaming at his wife on the phone and found it very disturbing, but that was the only time I witnessed his own temper, except for the occasional rant against some annoying kid on the web forums.
He seemed to take in stride things that would anger Jeff, so I thought he was gentle now.
Orthodoxy has all sorts of writings and tools, such as fasting and prayer, which people can use to fight the passions. He would talk or write to me about the books he was reading and how the Church was helping him fight his own passions. I thought he was too hard on himself.
I thought his wife was the one with the uncontrolled temper, since he told me about it and I witnessed it myself, but rarely witnessed his own.
But then he told me in 2009 that he wanted to kill the apartment manager.
He told me he used to run around with Mafia friends as a goomba (or, as he defined it, “thug”).
He helped out with their jewel smuggling.
He roughed people up (and was not sorry for it).
He told me in May 2010 that he’d been arrested more than 100 times for reasons I do not know.
Then he threatened Jeff in June 2010 and said he is easily triggered to physical violence.
Todd confirms this, that Richard told him he helped run smuggled Russian jewels from LA to Las Vegas.
I still have the printout of a chat in which Richard described the goomba activities to me.
He didn’t go into too much detail about what he did, but he was so well-known to the local Mafia in his home state (Italian and Russian) that they had nicknames for him.
The top of the chat got cut off before I printed it, unfortunately. But in that part he must have described being involved somehow in the smuggling itself, because in the printed part, he talked about how much he knows about gems.
More from that chat:
Richard’s girlfriend and some best friends were in Mafia families which smuggled jewels.
They made him their “goomba.”
He hung around with other goombas who witnessed and spotted while somebody retrieved stolen items or got information. He hinted that the information was gotten violently.
Since it involved jewels, not drugs, he felt he did nothing criminal–or which should be criminal, according to the Constitution and free market principles.
He never “killed” anyone while doing this goomba stuff.
Why did he put “killed” in quotes? And what exactly did he do? Not only that, but he saw it as something he openly and freely shared, not a secret. He was surprised I didn’t already know about it.
He didn’t seem at all repentant about it. He said his mother knew about it and didn’t seem to care, he did this while at Bible college (!), and he did worse things when he worked for the government (border guard). He said that Clinton’s government did some terrible things that nobody knows about (which I won’t divulge here without proof other than his word for it).
But there were these hints at illegal activities when he was a thug, and it didn’t sound so harmless to me. He hung around with Mafia people, Mafia people had nicknames for him, he helped them smuggle and rough people up, and he saw it as nothing more than a youthful lark?
He was also a dog with women back then, he says (which I’m not so sure has changed), but he saw that as worse than what he did with the Mafia?
But that is not the extent of his violence:
One day in winter or spring 2010, he even yelled in my face for taking out a wipe to clean something sticky (honey?) off his dinner table before setting down my D&D books!
In late 2007 or early 2008, he told me he put the kids in the closet once! He said his father abused him as a kid but he “deserved” it because he was a little rat, and it made him a better person. I still remember that conversation very clearly, and have written it down in detail as well.
You’ll often find such claims from the abused, that they “deserved” it, when their spirits are broken and the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in. Then the abuse gets carried on to the next generation because the abused thinks this is the proper way to act.
He also hinted at some form of abuse he had done to the kids; Todd later told me that when the eldest child (whom he choked) was very small, Richard got so angry once that he beat her mercilessly.
I also have an e-mail from Richard in which he says Tracy kept throwing his own abusive episodes back in his face when he tried to get her to stop abusing the kids.
Just a week or two before the breakup of our friendship, he posted on Facebook asking for suggestions of how to get the girls to clean
without beating them into bloody submission which only gets them flinching when I raise a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.
At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole. Though when I mentioned it to Jeff, he said it was about time Richard learned that lesson. Now I’m not so sure it was hyperbole.
And why, according to the newspaper, did Richard choke his daughter just a few months later? Because she wasn’t listening or cleaning up.
Richard told me in October/November 2007 that he had to be around to keep his wife from abusing the kids, physically and verbally.
But now it seems that he, too, needs someone to keep an eye on him.
I thought he was a gentle giant, reformed by the Church. But then he said these things, and then I discovered the criminal case, that he choked his daughter on September 21, 2010, nearly three months after we ended the friendship with him and Tracy.
He was my idol with feet of clay. And I’m left with this gaping hole in my life and heart where my idol, my perfect friend, once stood, with no clue how to fill it up again.
The trouble with narcissism is that once you’ve been a source of narcissistic supply, you’re addicted. Online research into narcissism, borderline personality disorder and abusers, has shown me that my reactions have been normal, that it’s very hard for anyone to just “get over it” after dealing with people like this.
He wasn’t so perfect, because if he were, the image would have matched the reality, and he would’ve let nothing snap the friendship in two. The true measure of his character has been demonstrated by his failure, even after a year and a half, to do anything to try to repair or reconcile, to make any show of sorrow or remorse over what happened.
I tried once, but failed because of his wife’s hard heart; it is up to him to do his part, to make apologies for what he himself did not just to me but to Jeff, and not leave this all on my shoulders to fix.
But he does nothing, absolutely nothing. This shows a poor character and selfish, narcissistic qualities.
I had expected, believed so much more of him than that, thought he was a good person. But his behavior, his lack even of basic Christian decency in this matter, proves that I was deceived.
And this after we had given sacrificially of our resources and time to help them in many different ways and situations, and after so many times I had given him someone to talk to in times of hardship and heartache.
Nobody can help me because the friendship I had was so rare, so hard to find again, and not something you ever get over. You can’t just go out and find another one just like it; it takes time and coming across just the right person at just the right time.
And I don’t even know if he misses us or regrets what happened, if he only keeps away because he’s (justifiably) afraid of my husband’s anger at him over all the things he did, or if he just doesn’t care.
If he truly misses us, or just misses playing D&D with Jeff. If he remembers all the kind things we did for him.
All I can do is hope that he only has narcissistic tendencies and not a full-blown disorder, that he does miss us and won’t stay away forever. That he will one day get the courage to eradicate the violence and abuse from his life. That he will stop enabling his wife’s bullying of others, eradicate the narcissistic behaviors, and make things right with Jeff and me.
If he does, I will give him full forgiveness. But you can’t truly know another person’s heart, so I still hope that our friendship was not just a fiction, a web woven by a narcissist, but real.
That one day he’ll wake up and realize he shouldn’t have let it go, shouldn’t have allowed me to be bullied, that enabling his wife’s bullying was immoral.
Both of them fit the traits of narcissism. I, of course, am not a psychologist, but like anyone else who must deal with narcissists in personal life, I need to understand what I’m dealing with.
And abusers tend not to get diagnosed because they think nothing is wrong with them, so the victims of their bullying and abuse have to go by the behavior they witness.
When I read the characteristics of a malignant narcissist, I could swear I’m reading about Tracy. And it’s frightening how well she fits.
Who knows what the future holds.
I do want my friend back–not as an enabler of his wife’s bullying, but as he once was, 2006-2007. And without being forced to be friends with his wife against my better judgment.
She used what she perceived to be society’s “rules” to guilt and bully me into being friends with her.
(I never heard of these rules and certainly don’t follow them in my own household; if I did, Jeff would fight it. Yes, he has many female friends, and it doesn’t bother me. I have many guy friends, and it doesn’t bother him.
We believe in faith and trust and treating each other like adults with personal autonomy who can tell for ourselves who to be friends with. I’m not his mother, and he’s not my father. But she didn’t even live by these rules herself, but made others live by them.)
I was polite and kind to her, but she was never satisfied, apparently wanted me to be buddy-buddy with her and share all my secrets, etc.
But I couldn’t do that with someone whom I observed abusing my friend, abusing her children, and bullying me. Richard told me even more things she was doing behind closed doors.
But they both pinned the blame on me. She imagined slights which I never gave, but refused to believe that her perception was not reality–
–which she also did to Todd, who’d been friends with her husband for 6 years, but finally walked away because of her rages.
(She then proceeded to lie and misrepresent what he “did” to everyone else, so that they believed her and thought he was crazy.)
It wasn’t just me, because Richard told me–in her presence–about other friends he’d lost because of her, about them coming to him and saying, “We just can’t handle Tracy anymore.”
When she bullied and verbally abused me in a narcissistic/BPD rage, giving me no chance to defend myself, and refused to apologize for being nasty, she lost all rights and claims to my friendship, whether I’m friends with her husband or not.
But this time, it would be on my own terms–which means, friends with him, but never with her. But Jeff wants nothing to do with either one of them, is furious with them both.
And the most tragic thing is, I have no clue what happened. The winter of 2009-2010, everything was fine between us all. I don’t recall much bullying of me going on at that time, I was led to believe that Tracy had long since stopped holding her inexplicable and irrational grudges against me, and everything was fine.
But somehow, over the spring of 2010, for no reason I ever knew, they just both started being mean to me. Though when I tried to bring it up with Richard, he acted like I was imagining it, and got angry with me.
And this from the guy who once begged me not to be mad at him.
Both of them started behaving like asses to me, on Facebook and off, even though we still went over to their house for D&D, and we still had birthday parties and holiday dinners together.
All I can figure is that it was an outgrowth of their own problems at home, as Jeff and I could both see them constantly snarling at each other and the kids in the months before the blowup on 7/1/10. I witnessed two outright instances of physical abuse committed by Tracy, right in front of me.
And that in itself tells me the blowup had nothing actually to do with me, but with their own problems at home. I just made a convenient scapegoat.
Just as she did with Todd two years earlier, Tracy took something I wrote, added reasons and motivations which did not exist, refused to believe that she misunderstood it–
–and made me the cause of all the problems that only existed in her own head.
Tracy painted everything I had ever done with a scarlet brush. She tried to say her narcissistic rage was somehow going easy on me, even though I did nothing to deserve all that.
My “friend” Richard accused me of “not saying two sentences together” to her for a month and a half. But I have no clue what month and a half, and I’m just a naturally quiet person who usually has no more than one sentence together to say to anybody.
That’s just the way it is: My mind doesn’t work fast enough in most social situations to say much. My “friend” could see very well over the past two and a half years that it was just the way I was, that my chattiness with him was a rarity. And I hadn’t been acting any differently than what’s normal for me.
Also, his own mother is just as shy and quiet as I am. AND his other friend’s wife treated HIM the same way Tracy treated ME.
So you’d think he knew how it felt to be treated like crap and have someone try to keep you from your BFF because she didn’t like your personality.
He had no excuse NOT to be empathetic to me.
Yet he twisted this natural part of my personality into somehow being “more offensive” than Tracy’s nasty, vicious, deliberately hurtful verbal abuse of me!
He made up yet another social rule I had never even heard of (something he had done before as an excuse to chide me). Then he waved it in my face to minimize and justify Tracy’s inexcusable behavior and verbal abuse!
What kind of sick, twisted people are they, anyway?
It also brought back old humiliations and insecurities:
- Being teased and ridiculed throughout my childhood with no idea why the kids kept calling me “weird.” With no idea why they were mean when I was always a nice, sweet person who was far too terrified of people to be mean to them.
- My brother making me feel like everything I did or liked was “wrong” somehow.
- Going to college and finding yet more ridicule, bullying and rumors, from an ex-boyfriend, from the Zetas for being shy (see my account here), from a guy (“Shawn”) who I thought was my friend, but apparently was yet another narcissist, from a guy who said he loved me but just wanted to control me. (See here.)
- Going out into the world, to be constantly accused of doing things I had not done. To hear again and again about how shy I was and how “wrong” it was to be shy–as if it were a character failing rather than simply the way I was born, the way my brain works.
And now here it was again, someone bullying me just like the kids on the playground, making me feel like crap, like I hated her, like I was a horrible person who was just awful to her and trying to do horrible things–
—when I was doing nothing of the kind, and her own behavior was driving me further and further into my shell.
And this after all the things we had done to help her and Richard both.
And now my best friend in the world, whom I trusted completely, whom I respected and told all my secrets to, whose friendship I valued like a rare gem, whose good opinion I always coveted–
–now agreed with her and let her bully me verbally, manipulate me, and try to control me.
She won’t even let me speak to Richard unless I go through her first, so it’s impossible to work anything out with him.
She’s like the ogre at the gate who’ll eat you up if you say one wrong word, and will not let you pass into the garden. Yet Richard tried to tell me, “She’s not a monster.”
If he doesn’t see that what she’s done is terribly monstrous, then his own judgment is severely lacking.
It’s so devastating that I feel myself retreating back into my shell so far that I fear I’ve lost all sorts of ground that I gained over the years.
I wonder if I’ll ever feel safe enough to venture back into trying to make a close friend, except for the ones I’ve known for years.
And yet there she was on Facebook, telling everyone what a wonderful day she was having because of yelling all those horrible things at me.
When I discovered NVLD in 2000 (see here), it was an answer to everything I struggled with my entire life, not just socially but in other ways as well. I discovered that it was not a character failing or “weirdness” or stupidity, but brain wiring which is different from the mainstream.
It was a huge lift to my self-esteem as I discovered there was nothing actually “wrong” with me. It was just like having ADHD or Asperger’s or dyslexia or some other thing: It’s no one’s “fault,” just the way you’re made.
It explained everything. But Richard decided not to believe in it, as if it were the Easter bunny, as if he could just proclaim me not to have NVLD, snap his fingers, and I would be all better.
Richard and Tracy both used the e-mail I sent Richard on 7/1/10 as an excuse to start making up all sorts of things to pin on me, all sorts of excuses for their own behaviors.
And why? I have no clue. I can only imagine that I was a convenient friend for a time, when they could get something out of me–money, food, shelter, free babysitting, narcissistic supply–then they made up excuses so they could toss me aside when they no longer needed me.
Which is something I could imagine her doing, but I never thought my “friend” was like that. I trusted him, believed in him, thought he was an awesome person, considered him my best friend ever.
And that’s what hurts the most.
I can get over what Tracy did, the more I learn about Cluster B personality disorders, how she fits them like a glove, and how this means that her treatment of me is her problem, not mine.
The more I learn about narcissism and BPD, the more I see that I did not deserve how she treated me.
I come to peace with my decision to leave her behind, as I realize that if I stayed, if I managed to preserve the friendship, she would just find some new reason to be upset with me and rage at me some other time.
It was impossible for me to satisfy her demands, which were apparently designed on purpose to be more than what I could actually achieve–especially when she kept sabotaging any efforts by snarking at me, or abusing the kids or her husband right in front of me.
I need to wash off all the nasty things she ever said about me, like so much sewer sludge.
“It’s a huge comfort to know it’s NPD….You realise it’s not you that’s the problem. It’s like being reborn.” —When Narcissism Becomes Pathological
But as for Richard–I don’t know that I’ll ever get over what he did, unless he stops justifying his behavior and comes to me, and repents.
Forgive perhaps, eventually, but lose the hurt feelings? Stop feeling betrayed by my best friend? Stop wishing that he would do the right thing? Probably never.
For the time being, I feel like I’ve gone back into the shell which I had been emerging from:
–afraid to share too much,
–afraid that I’ll make new friends and love them only to find that they’re abusive as well,
–afraid about every move I make because maybe they’ll think I’m horrible for being so quiet, or they’ll accuse me of stalking or being annoying or some other horrible thing.
I didn’t use to be so scared of these things.
And I’m also afraid every week of seeing Richard and/or his wife at church, because they do show up on occasion, leaving me nervous, shaken and afraid of what rumors they might try to spread, or of them wanting to make some sort of confrontation.
Church used to be my refuge, but because they are so close to it, I fear they will show up in my life again some time in the future in some way. I stay away from their church, and wish they would stay away from mine.
Every day, I’m haunted by the memory of how they bullied me, how a trusted and beloved friend betrayed me, the abuses that I witnessed–
–and knowing that the person I respected and believed in as a pious man of God–
–choked his own daughter.
Whenever he told me the things his wife was doing, it wasn’t often, and I’d be amazed because I had no idea these things had been going on.
Since I now know for certain that it was not my imagination, that there was an abusive situation in that household, because of the criminal conviction, I wonder what else goes on there that I’m not aware of.
I only got a glimpse, and it’s often said that what outsiders know about abusive situations is just the tip of the iceberg.
I recall how various details–about the abuse, and about Richard’s violent past and current violent inclinations–just trickled out over the years, and shocked me, making me wonder what else I don’t know.
I haven’t even written here everything that I know or witnessed. I can only hope that Social Services and the police know everything, because they can actually do something about it.
[Update 2/10/15: There appears to have been at least one domestic incident at their current residence in the past three years. The local police beat showed one last May.]
A friend of mine once accused me of having Jeff “on a long leash” because I did not want to let her (platonically) share a hotel room with him when they went to an SCA event together.
I was upset with her for thinking this, but I did not go on a smear campaign against her, did not try to separate her from Jeff (I knew there was nothing going on), did not try to destroy her.
I just finally accepted she had a different opinion of “appropriate” behavior, and got over it.
In my search online for answers and validation, I discovered that some people would agree with Tracy that I somehow “disrespected” her by telling Richard she was abusive, that she wasn’t treating him or the children right, that she wasn’t treating me right. They would agree with her that I should be friends with her to be friends with Richard.
But I found far more support to the idea that friends are not good friends if they keep silent about abuse. For example, the comment section for this Carolyn Hax column: Wife Asks if Husband’s Friends Dislike Her and They Do; What Now?
A few people in the comments section said the friends were “disrespecting” the wife and the letter writer needed to get new friends.
But plenty of other commenters turned that around, saying (paraphrasing), “What if it were a woman writing in? Would you tell her, Ditch your friends for disrespecting your husband by telling you he’s spiteful and controlling?”
They showed how such advice would be unthinkable if the letter writer were a woman, to advise her to give up her support system and isolate herself from the people who did not like her abusive husband.
They showed how it was a sign of good friends–and people who could help the abuse victim get out of his/her situation–for the friends to speak up about what the abuser was doing.
And how on earth is one of the friends supposed to speak directly to the abuser about it? I’ve seen for myself how the abuser will turn that around on you, start a smear campaign against you, drive a wedge between you and the abused, and proceed to abuse you as well! How does that help the abused?
The friend Tracy drove away in 2008, Todd, also saw behind her mask, so it’s not surprising that she got so angry with him over nothing. I think she just looked for an excuse, any excuse, to rage at him. And that she did the same with me.
Also, over on the Shrink4Men website, which has a blog on Cluster B (histrionic, narcissistic, borderline) personality disordered women, one post and its commenters specifically stated that good friends will believe you, support you and speak up if you’re being abused.
I wrote in the comments of that post,
I was treated like the problem because I didn’t want to get too close to his abusive wife, or pretend that everything she did was perfectly fine or her ‘right.’ Even he treated me like I was the problem.
One of the regulars, who also had dealt with friends with Cluster B significant others, replied,
Your first and foremost obligation is to take care of and protect yourself and your loved ones first. I don’t mean that in a narcissistic way either. Without doing that first you won’t be good for anybody really.
You’re not in this world to take people’s abuse or twist yourself into knots to prove someone else’s idea of warped love.
Nobody in their right mind with a healthy value system would ever recommend to a friend that they stay to help a Cluster B or endure their abuse.
If your friend was a true friend to you, this person wouldn’t want you involved in his wife’s psychodrama, and he would be making plans to leave.
He expected you to be involved in a sick relationship. You were being manipulated by having your sense of obligation exploited. You absolutely made the right choice to leave both of them.
Thankfully you had enough mental health to do so.
I don’t have a success story to report yet, because the struggle with the pain and bitterness is still new (unlike the college abuses or bullies in childhood), and a long, hard road for someone who has been abused. It’s not like forgiving someone for a nighttime barking dog or backing into your car.
I’m not quite sure how to relinquish the hurt and pain, or if it’s even possible. I still, when something reminds me of the abusers of the past, feel a twinge of anger and pain, even though I no longer live with it in my daily life.
I’ve also heard that people with Asperger’s/NVLD have a tendency to go over things in their heads long after people with “normal” brains would have stopped, analyzing things again and again.
I’ll get something sorted out in my mind, but then a few weeks later, something triggers a memory and I have to go through the sorting out, all over again.
My triggers permeate my entire life because I was friends with Richard for five years, because he’s a crucial part of my religious journey, because he lived with us, and because just the words “I don’t understand” are a trigger.
(When Tracy started raging at me, I wrote, “I don’t understand,” and she wrote back, “You’re too stupid to understand!”)
The abuse actually started late in 2007, and did not end until we ended the friendship in 2010. It was a constant undercurrent, mostly covert abuse and bullying that I had trouble even identifying, always wondering if I was wrong about it.
It helps that Jeff and I stopped the abuse by breaking off the friendship and giving them the cold shoulder if we run into them around town or at church. That makes me no longer a “victim” because I didn’t stay to get more of it all the time.
But I still miss Richard and long for him to apologize to Jeff and me for the ways he treated me, and his intimidating and threatening Jeff.
As for Tracy, I don’t want to hear from her at all. If she’d been a nice person, a sweet person, an ordinary person with foibles, I would’ve had no problem being friends with her, too–hugging her, talking with her, hanging out with her.
Normally I like the girlfriends/wives of my guy friends. Even if I don’t know them well (or at all), even if they don’t care about befriending their husband’s friends, they show no jealousy at all.
Normally, I see the wives/girlfriends of my guy friends as another potential friend. That’s how I saw Tracy until a few weeks after she moved in, when she started being nasty to everyone.
It may be hard for normal, ordinary people to understand what it’s like to have been abused, to be victimized and traumatized by a person who shows signs of Cluster B personality disorders. It may be hard for them to understand what it’s like to have Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But a little googling may explain just what the abused has to deal with, why he/she doesn’t just “get over it and move on.” You can’t just do that after you’ve been abused: You have to do a lot of long, hard work to get to that point.
The journey is different for different people. What works for one, may not work for another.
And I have no way of affording therapy from someone experienced with these things, so I have to do the work all on my own. Writing down, blogging about and talking about what happened to me, has been a good first step. It’s now time to move on to the next step.
On 2/27/12, I have written something down that I hope will help retrain my brain and break the cycle that continues even after the abuse has stopped:
I am not to blame for Tracy’s behavior. My own actions were based in love and concern for my best friend.
I cannot condone or turn a blind eye to abuse, for that would be wrong. I must not let her scare me anymore or make me feel like I deserved her abuse, or she will have “won.”
If I carry hate and bitterness forever, she will have “won.”
I have identified the problem, however, and it’s not lack of forgiveness. It’s something that I probably still need to deal with and work on before moving on to forgiveness.
Basically, I’m still grieving for the loss of friendship with Richard.
I know about the violence, I know what he did and said to Jeff, I know about the narcissism, I know how he treated me near the end, and the horrible deed he committed. But I still miss him and wish he would come to us and fix things.
But at the same time, I know that I can’t be friends with him as long as Tracy is in the picture.
I can’t be forced into friendship with someone like her, and if the positions were reversed and Richard was doing what Tracy does, would it be considered wrong for me to not want to be friends with the spouse of my friend? No, of course not!
I do resent her for being abusive, but is it really wrong to be angry with someone for that?
I do resent her for deliberately destroying what was to me the most important, most special platonic friendship I ever had. How is it even possible to not resent her as long as I still grieve for it?
Well, maybe it is, if I can turn that resentment into pity.
[Update 1/4/15: When I happen across one of his social media profile pictures, I cringe. Especially when it’s a saint, or some Joe Cool picture from his youth. I think, That should be his MUG SHOT!]
[Please note that the following was written in 2012. I have learned more about personality disorders since that time; maybe instead of “personality disordered,” we should simply say “abusive,” since many with Cluster B disorders don’t want to abuse. I have amended this post a bit.]
I came across this site:
This site is about abusive women. I found it very helpful in learning about, understanding, and recovering from Tracy’s bullying of me.
[Update 2/13/15: Some caution is needed, however, because of influence from anti-feminism and the men’s rights movement. Let’s not go too far in the other direction! I also discovered concerning things about Paul Elam. But if you can sift through the site, you can find all sorts of helpful material. Just be careful about what it says about the motivations of borderlines, or about women in general.]
Tracy is not unique: There are a lot of other people who have been through very similar situations with women much like Tracy. Some have been married to them, some have been friends with them, some have been family members of men and children who live with them.
There is also a support forum, but it’s pay-only, so others can get support through commenting on the blog.
The latest blog post, on Princesses, reminded me of Richard’s philosophy that “respecting wives” means giving in to everything they want, and agreeing with them. Basically, putting them on a pedestal. That’s not respecting them: That’s allowing them to control you.
Because of this philosophy, Richard not only allowed her to bully me, but he even joined in on the bullying–instead of standing up and doing the right thing by stopping the bullying and apologizing to Jeff and me for the things he did to us.
It is, of course, good and right to treat a wife/husband well. But the line is drawn at her acting like a spoiled brat, coddling her, her screaming at and hitting you when you displease her, and you allowing her to control you, isolate you, and force you into sinful behavior (such as bullying others).
Richard himself said Tracy is a “mean girl” and a “queen bee.” And you know what, I’ve never gotten along well with mean girls or queen bees. They’re the ones who ridiculed me at school; they’re the ones I stayed away from.
Being forced to be friends with one, violated my human right to choose my own friends and confidantes.
It was very reassuring to hear this Shrink4Men webcast on April 2, 2012 about women being put on pedestals:
In various points, such as around 45:00 and 25:00, Dr. Tara and Paul Elam noted that you have to get that woman off her pedestal not through cruelty or disrespect, but through no longer enabling her bad behavior. For example, refuse to talk with her while she’s throwing a tantrum, acting like a toddler, and blaming you for it.
They said she has to face the problem as an adult, as an equal, who’s willing to talk things over, listen to another point of view, problem-solve, etc.
Around 25:00, Dr. Tara and Paul said,
If another adult isn’t willing to engage with you like an adult, you end the conversation….If somebody is not being reasonable…if she is refusing to be reasonable, you are not going to get a reasonable solution to your problem, so you step away.
Dr. Tara noted that in her experience, people do their tantruming, verbal diarrhea, etc., not because they want a resolution, but because they want to be “heard” and have their feelings validated.
Divorce yourself from those circumstances until reason and maturity take over and you can fix the problem….They’re doing it because it works, because most of the time when they pitch an emotional tantrum, somebody lets them have their way. So this behavior is reinforced.
Around 19:00, and also in this article, Paul said:
If he is one of the few that can do it, though, the game changes. Indeed, it quits being a game and starts to resemble an honest, even if troubled, relationship.
All a man has to do is decide that he does not do pedestals, for any person, for any reason, and he, of course, has to follow through.
If he does that a troubled but honest relationship might have a better chance at working.
Even if it doesn’t, the guy is a lot more likely to leave on his feet and do better in the next relationship because he is prepared to see a woman be unhappy, even pissed off at him, but not prepared to even acknowledge her problems unless she is reasonable and mature.
It doesn’t matter if he really screwed up or if she is out of line from the start, she still has to wear her big girl britches.
Just like with anyone else in the world, “Come back and see me when you can be reasonable,” is a perfectly constructive and rational response to a partner who is out of control emotionally, and it is what you would expect to say to someone who was your equal.
Men who think it is out of the question to expect emotional maturity from women are the ones with the most trouble wrapping their minds around this.
And this is exactly what this is all about; treating yourself and your partner as equals. …
Your equal doesn’t get to demand spot answers and stand there with her toe tapping, waiting for an answer. When you see her as an equal, that sort of behavior looks pathetic. You reject being treated like a bad kid in the principal’s office….
Your equal has to be accountable for their mistakes, just like you do. “I’m sorry, but you made me,” is NOT accountable.
Trying to reason with someone who is blaming you for their own mistakes is a guaranteed waste of energy. Don’t do it.
Disengage and refuse them an audience until they pull themselves together. Til they “woman up,” if you will….
Your equal can’t expect you to entertain any of her concerns unless she is bringing them to you as an adult with agency, accountability and in a genuine search for a solution.
You know the difference between that and someone just mad and venting, don’t you? Well, do your business with the grown up and tell the little girl to respectfully go take a hike.
If she has been successful in getting you to lose your cool, this is a change you can make to stop that from happening.
But of course, Tracy’s response to this was to tell me “have a nice life” and how I can come see her when I “grow up” and accept her tantrums as my due.
Not even an attempt at respecting or hearing my point of view and accepting that tantrums are the wrong way to deal with a problem. Just the response of a woman who was used to being put on a pedestal and getting away with her nasty behaviors and attempts to shame others into doing what she wants.
The full, book-length story of Tracy’s bullying of me is here.
My Trip to Oz and Back is much like my own blogs, an account of two years spent by the writer with her girlfriend, which was actually a 50-page letter sent by the author to her ex-girlfriend.
That was in the late 90s, when the author had never heard of borderline personality disorder, so there had been no official diagnosis for her to point to. But the more she learned about BPD, the more she knew her ex-girlfriend had it, so she posted this letter to help others who are dealing with someone with BPD.
It has been on the Web since 2003, and by November 2006 had received 53,000 hits. As the author wrote on the main page,
Writing this was cathartic. It doubled as a form of therapy. I actually did send the letter; however, I doubt that it had much effect. The more I learned about BPD, the more I realized that the likelihood of this person ever really understanding, was probably close to zero….
Why would I want to put such a personal document online? There are several reasons. First, I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of what it is like to be in a relationship with a person with BPD. There are many books and websites on BPD, but relatively few from a significant other’s point of view.
Second, I am hoping that someone out there might read a bit and identify with it. When one is in a difficult situation, sometimes just hearing about another person’s similar experience can be affirming–as in, “I’m not the only one.”
Finally, I consider myself a success story–see the final chapter, the epilogue. My wish is to give hope to others.
Like me, the author changed names and identifying details. This is to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. Joyful Alive Woman also wrote about her abusive, narcissist, former female friend.
I hope this will be cathartic, get the truth out, so that I can heal from what has emotionally and spiritually traumatized me. I hope to make it (and my private account) a repository for all the hurt, pain, anger and bitterness, so that I can transfer it out of my heart.
I have dealt with previous abusive situations in this way, putting them into writing and then posting them on the Web, and it has been largely successful in helping me move on past those times.
I feel that if I just make it vanish, hide the story, it will do no more good than it did with my previous abuse stories.
For example, right after college I began writing College Memoirs, which were a combination of good things and life during that time, and the terrible things that happened with guys who used and abused (I hesitate to refer to them as “men”).
I was going to publish them, but feared libel suits, so I began putting the stories into my fiction instead.
But since the demands of fiction are that you don’t put your own life stories into your stories exactly as they occurred, or else your stories will appear pieced together like Frankenstein, I didn’t feel like my stories of abuse were quite dealt with yet.
I also read an article in Writer’s Digest about writing and publishing abuse stories, and the healing it can bring:
Harrison told her editor that she wanted to write a nonfiction book about her relationship with her father. Because the editor had published Harrison’s autobiographical first novel, she asked if she was sure she wanted to do that.
Harrison was sure. In fact, she’d been trying to write about her father in an essay but felt she was trying to do too much in too short a space. Feeling as if she’d betrayed herself and her story by first writing about the affair as fiction, she had a compelling need to set the record straight.
…“One of the solaces that art can offer you is the chance to make something out of what’s hurt you. You can objectify an experience, put it on paper, craft it and shape it. There’s perhaps an illusory control over it. But it is significant.” –Sandra Hurtes, Spilling Secrets
So I posted a public version of my College Memoirs, first in e-mails to friends, then on a Myspace blog, then on my website.
Even though they don’t get many hits, the stories have been read by some, and in the past several years, I feel myself finally moving past these things that happened 15-20 years ago. They are on the Webpages now and don’t have to be carried around inside me.
I also have a full account of what happened in this particular case, but it is so personal and private that I keep it locked away from anyone but myself. Just as with the College Memoirs, I have a personal and a private version.
My hope is that this blog will have the same effect as those public Memoirs. It has been said many times that the abused need to get their stories out into the open, not hide them for fear of “airing dirty laundry,” because that just victimizes them further.