Early warning signs of Tracy’s abuse and volatility

Before I even met Tracy in person, I noted her immaturity and volatility on the Forum.  This is why I did not make moves to be friends with her off the Forum, like I did with Richard, exchanging e-mails and chatting with him online:

Several times, she flew into a verbal rage against somebody on the Forum who posted something she didn’t like.  One poster had left for a bit; I didn’t see what drove her away, but Tracy said she needed to “grow up.”

The poster, who was divorced now, came back, and said she was pregnant again (though she did plan to marry the father).  Instead of being kind like we other commenters, Tracy ripped into her for it.  I had nothing against Tracy, but thought that was unfair and uncalled-for.

Later on, I discovered it was even worse: Tracy ripped into this girl for doing the same thing she herself did.

Then there was the time she ranted on the Forum about her ex and called him a “stupid n***er.”

I was shocked that she said that word so freely (along with various other foul words), when my whole life I had been conditioned to believe (as we all have) that word is even worse than the f– word.  I’d grown used to occasional cuss words from Christians who were not Evangelicals, but her use of the n-word was disturbing.

Another time, I posted an article on the Catholic Church which had just come out, an article from the secular press which claimed the Catholic Church does not interpret the Bible strictly literally.

I thought it was great, because I was tired of dealing with literalism in Evangelicalism, how the earth had to be only several thousand years old because Adam and Eve were real people and evolutionary evidence was just wrong, etc.  Here was the biggest and one of the two most ancient churches saying the biblical account is not meant to be literal.

I forget what Richard posted, but Tracy surprised me: She commented vehemently about how terrible the Catholic Church is, how it’s against the truth, and various anti-Catholic things that I thought I left behind in Evangelicalism and Protestant Fundamentalism.  (At the time I had fled to the mainline, the liberal branch of the Presbyterian Church.)

It especially surprised me because Richard previously linked to an Orthodox theologian’s article; it said Orthodoxy does not view the Bible with the strict literalism of the Fundamentalists.

So even online I saw red flags, but chose to ignore them–especially since in those days we lived in different states, and I only interacted with her on the Forum.  Well, except for once: I pinged Richard in a chat program, and it was her, so we had a nice little talk.

After I met her in person, she would complain to Richard about a nurse or teacher or even our priest, saying how stupid or negligent they were.  Or, with the priest, vehemently saying she wasn’t going to listen to some old man and follow what he said.

I don’t like to assume that people are incompetent or malicious; doing your job properly is challenging for anybody.  I figured the nurse had different training/experiences.  I figured the teacher didn’t know there was a problem and wasn’t deliberately negligent.

As for the priest, he was right.  She was shockingly disrespectful in her words and tone.  He was a kind, decent, pleasant man who merely enforced a matter of official church procedure, which their previous priests had somehow neglected.  Even Richard was upset by how she spoke about the priest.

Throughout the time I knew her, it rankled whenever she accused someone of needing to “grow up”: She was much younger than Richard and me, yet I’ve known plenty of people, her age at the time (about 27), who are far more mature and even-tempered.

She reminded me of a girl I once clashed with on another forum, a 16-year-old who acted immature, made fun of people, took the most innocuous things as offensive, ridiculed and bullied and lied about people for imagined offenses, then claimed, “I AM mature!”

So even before things finally came to a head with Tracy, I had plenty of evidence that she was trouble, that she was volatile in general.  Normally, I don’t get close to people who are too volatile on forums.  I wouldn’t have gotten close to her at all, if not for Richard.

The more I saw, the more I felt that she was not at all the kind of woman I’d want for my presvytera.

Also, the more I found out about Richard, the less he seemed like a potential priest.  He was still the one who led me to the truth, but his status as my spiritual guru or mentor was cracking here and there–cracks which didn’t show right away, but eventually would split apart.

Among my concerns if Richard was ordained and she became some parish’s presvytera:

  • What would she do if she had trouble dealing with the parish board?
  • –or when her husband began doing confessions and counseling sessions for beautiful young women alone?
  • Would her vitriol attack the board, would her jealousy flare up?
  • And what kind of marriage counseling would he do if he could barely keep his own destructive passions (anger) in check, if he couldn’t get his own household under control, if he couldn’t deal with problems with friends without losing them one after another?
  • I feared he would give people terrible advice and break up marriages, or tell people child abuse is okay.

I had similar concerns when I heard she wanted to run for city council at some point.  She never did, thankfully.  But I feared she’d get into all sorts of fights and wars with the other council members, which only causes stalemates and nothing being done.

And God help anybody under her if she ever became a manager!  Based on how I’ve seen her behave with me and many others, I believe she would be the worst kind:

  • volatile,
  • cuts you down,
  • treats you like crap if you do something she doesn’t like,
  • takes everything you do as offensive,
  • uses threats to motivate.

Jeff’s boss (2009-2012) was exactly like her, and made Jeff miserable.  In fact, on the day of Tracy’s blowup at me, Jeff explained my plight to a co-worker: “My wife is dealing with the female version of our boss.”  The co-worker’s response: Oh, no.

This boss used threats to motivate, ignored the needs of the workers, and when he got some bug up his butt, he yelled and screamed at you with abusive, foul language: just like Tracy.

Rather than motivate, his “management” style led to mass exodus from the company, and a reputation so bad that unemployed engineers in the Great Recession refused to even interview with the company.

The female version of such a manager is worse, because women use psychological and emotional abuse, which wounds your spirit and is harder to prove.

Richard also talked about becoming a psychologist after he got his degree.  I wouldn’t want to go to a psychologist who just dismisses your concerns, struggles, and ideas of probable causes/sources of the problem, tells you to stop whining/being a victim and to push through it, and then keeps getting on your case for acting just like the learning disorder you suspect.

An effective psychologist or counselor would investigate these things with an open mind, then give you gentle suggestions to help deal with your problems, such as social tips, social scripts (such as what to do at a cocktail party), or how to make up for a lack of social intuition.

He wouldn’t scold you for not knowing these things in the first place, or allow his wife to punish you for not behaving the way she wants.

How on earth was I supposed to want to get close to Tracy with all this crap going on?  How could I be at “fault” for keeping her at a distance instead of doing everything she wanted me to do?

What person with a shred of decency would want to befriend a person they knew was like this, someone who constantly treats you like a naughty child who must be punished, no matter what you do or say?

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing