Tracy is nasty to me on the phone

I find it not just undesirable, but morally repugnant to be friends with someone I know to be mean and abusive, whether to me or to others.

I have always felt this way; when I heard that my abusive ex Phil, for example, had lost all his high school friends for some reason unknown, I wondered if it was because of the way he treated me and the girls who came after me.  I was glad for it, because if I were one of his high school friends, I would’ve objected and severed ties with him if I saw how he treated his girlfriends in college.

(Persephone, who came after me, had some howlers to tell of how Phil treated her, as well, and my friends told me things he did to the girl after that, whom he married and later divorced.)

It very seldom happens that one of my longtime, dear friends is revealed to me to be mean or abusive.  I can’t imagine it being the case with most of them, but if it did happen, I’d like to think that I would confront that friend and try to get them to change their behavior, rather than just accepting it.

Now, I was being told to befriend–on pain of my best and dearest friend being withheld from me–someone who was mean and abusive to me, to her husband, to her children, and to others who annoyed her.

I recoiled from the thought, and refused to do more than be polite and kind to her.  I would not tell her my deep secrets.  She frightened me too much to do more than I did, and I was appalled every time she snapped at my son.

But I was polite and kind, never mean.  But it just wasn’t good enough: She and Richard kept pointing the finger at me, saying I needed to befriend her, saying my “behavior” was the reason I couldn’t go out for coffee or even stand in the parking lot discussing my husband’s job loss with my best friend.

My husband said I behaved just fine, that I was sociable.  He never saw problems with how I acted.

But it was never good enough for Tracy.  It was a moral quandary.  I kept telling Richard what the problems were, that Tracy’s behavior was putting me off, that otherwise I’m just a quiet person even with people I’ve known and been friends with for years.

But he just kept saying I had to change, that I had to befriend her, even though I told him I didn’t like the abusive ways she acted.

I finally relaxed in the winter of 2009/2010 when Richard gave me the signal I’d asked for that showed she was finally okay with me, that we were free to engage in anything he could do with his other friends.

But then he began snapping at me for stupid stuff like me wiping some honey off the table, she began snarking again, the two of them began bickering right in front of me again, and she began physically and verbally abusing the children right in front of me.

On April 24, 2008, I wrote an e-mail to Richard which included the following paragraphs.  They were about Tracy, though I did not come out and say so.  I wrote them to him because he was, as I called him in this e-mail, my “father confessor,” my spiritual mentor, and I wanted prayer:

It’s been a long Lent.  I’m still having trouble getting back into the old prayer and Bible rules, so I’ve been trying to focus on my Lenten project.

My Lenten project has been to forgive somebody who, from what I can tell, refuses to see they did anything wrong, doesn’t care how they upset me, someone who has major philosophical differences with me so I doubt we can get along.

I’m quite certain that this person thinks their behavior was justified, while I feel it was totally unjustified and quite harmful and ungrateful after all I did for them.

But you know how it is sometimes, when you have problems with somebody but it’s impossible to just cut them out of your life.

It makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to forgive like I wanted to. Then we say the Lord’s Prayer in church.

I always understood “as we forgive our debtors” to mean “while we forgive our debtors.”  But at the beginning of Lent the visiting bishop told us that it means “in the same way we forgive our debtors.”  Which means dang, I’m screwed.

If somebody apologizes, my forgiveness is usually easy to obtain. Normally I remember how easy it is to be misunderstood.  But if they never think they did anything wrong, it feels like I can never get over it.

I’ll try to deal with it in my writing because I just can’t get it settled with them.  Maybe I’ll put it in my journal or in a story.  Maybe I’ll write a letter to them and then shred it or burn it, but the feelings still remain.

Sometimes I’ll be friendly with them again, but in the back of my mind there’s still that memory of that Thing.  So friendliness is as far as it goes; trust will never come back, I will never be close to them.  My mother-in-law, for example, or ex-boyfriends.

I usually hear that forgiveness means you have let go of the anger and wish that person well, but you don’t have to let them back into your life if that means they’re just going to hurt you again.

For example, someone who has abused you and refuses to see he’s done anything wrong.

I once saw two girls on Dr. Phil who struggled with forgiving their father, who to that day still acted like his sexual abuse of them was okay.  Even Dr. Phil’s intervention couldn’t sway him.  Letting him back into their life would be unwise and open them up to more hurt.

But on the Orthodox Net I keep finding references to ascetic writings and other sources that say forgiveness means letting them back into your life, good graces and fellowship.

But that makes no sense.  You can let go of the anger.  You can wish them well.  But if you don’t trust them, if you know they’re just going to do it again, if you know they feel justified in what they did, how can you let them back into your fellowship?????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These same Orthodox writings caused me a moral quandary two years later, as I struggled with forgiving Tracy for abusing me, but she refused to apologize or even admit she did anything wrong.  But you see the struggle went as far back as 2008.  Heck, it’s been 6 years and I still struggle with it, and for the same reasons.

Then she yelled at me over the phone on Wednesday, April 30, 2008, when I was trying to get ahold of Richard.

Richard had a habit of promising to call, but never doing it, leaving me waiting all night by the phone, rearranging my schedule, not doing other things I wanted to do, waiting for a call that never came.  It was infuriating how he did not respect my time or feelings.

The night before, he babysat for our son while Jeff and I went on an anniversary date.  When we went to pick up our son, Richard said he wanted to do something–him and me with our children–on Wednesday afternoon.

(We were allowed to visit each other when the kids were around, like the kids were “chaperones.”)

He promised to call Wednesday morning at a certain time and arrange the details.  Then, yet again, he neglected to call at the appointed time.  Hours passed and it was getting too late to do anything.

It was extremely rude of Richard to promise this, then not call.  It showed no respect whatsoever for my time.  He left me hanging, wondering what household chores to do that day and when, what time should I shower, etc. etc.  None of these things could be done until I knew the details of our get-together.

I kept trying to call, since the more time passed, the more urgent it got to know exactly when this was going to be, because very soon the whole get-together would be shot.

My entire frickin’ LIFE was on hold as I tried to get ahold of him.  I wondered where the heck he was, why he hadn’t called back, why he didn’t FRICKIN’ ANSWER THE FRICKIN’ PHONE ALREADY!!!!!

Now that it was the middle of the afternoon and too late to do anything, I was furious.  I had a few things to tell him when he finally picked up the #%Y#*%@(*$@( phone.

I was sick and tired of how he kept promising he’d call or come over, but didn’t do it.

Finally, I heard somebody pick up.  I had a script in my head and was about to speak my mind, when Tracy answered.  I asked for him, but instead she yelled at me, told me not to call anymore.  No, I did NOT respond in kind.  I forget what I said, if anything.

So Richard was the rude one, the inconsiderate one, yet oh, there was something wrong with me for trying to get ahold of him, somehow.  I was furious with her for this, but yet again, never got an apology from her.

I wrote an e-mail to Jeff about it, because I was upset and, after the way she spoke to me, I thought that both she and Richard wanted nothing more to do with me.  It was so sudden, heartbreaking and devastating.  I thought that “don’t call anymore” meant ever.

No explanation as to why the friendship was over, just one mean little snit fit.  When I had done NOTHING wrong, but rather, Richard had been rude yet again, and I was sick and tired of it.  I was also sick and tired of how Tracy treated me all the time.

Jeff called me shortly after getting the e-mail.

I was SICK of crying my eyes out because of her.

Jeff was sick of it as well, complaining about people yelling at his “sweet wife.”  I started crying while talking to Jeff on the phone.

To my surprise, Richard called me right after Jeff hung up, while I was still crying.  Tracy had told him she was “kinda rude” to me.  (Kinda?)

He was more even-tempered, and said he was not mad at me.  I told him my piece and how upset I was over being yelled at.  I said I called and called because I thought nobody was home.  I had no idea they were just ignoring my calls, which infuriated me even more.

He said she’d been trying to put the kids down for a nap.  But I didn’t care, because all it took was for her to pick up the phone or call me back the first or second time I called, and tell me kindly that Richard was not feeling well.  If she had done that, I would understand and not call again.

Heck, for that matter, all it took was for him to call me, or have her call me, at the appointed time and say he wasn’t feeling well, because he was online and awake at the time he promised to call!

He asked to come over with the girls as planned, which surprised me.  But then he called back again shortly after and said he couldn’t after all.  (Frickin’ typical.)

I e-mailed Jeff, and wrote, “So it sounds like he and I are fine.”

Jeff wrote back,

“So it sounds like he and I are fine.”

Which just leaves me.

People are being flaky, rude, and downright nasty to my wife … something I do not take kindly to at all. 

I would prefer this foolishness ceases before I pop a blood vessel somewhere that I *can’t* just put a band-aid over.

If he’s got time to go online, he’s got time to keep his word [to call me in the morning as he’d promised].  It’s either that, or you find a way to settle your schedule in a way which accounts for the erratic nature of socializing with [them].

Either way is fine with me; but one more crying fit will put me through the roof – seriously.

This is why I haven’t called Richard over going to ‘Forbidden Kingdom’.  I see the trouble you have talking with him, trying to schedule anything with him, and I say *smoke that!*  He wants to do something: he knows my number.  I am not going to bust a body part trying to work with that mess.

I wrote back,

Well, I forgot to mention that he did tell me he could barely stay awake long enough to call me this morning.  He had an awful headache last night that he was still dealing with.  So I decided to let it go.

As for Tracy….I’m hoping he smooths things over with her, tries to get her to go easier on me.  I also thought she might be feeling a little bad about what she said.

But yeah, there’s a reason why I tend to call Richard’s cell first before calling the landline: hoping he’ll answer instead of her.  😛  There’s also a reason why I don’t specifically talk to *her*. 

I recall that a few months ago, she seemed to think my not talking to her directly meant she couldn’t trust me with him.  But actually, it’s because she scares me.  He’s so much nicer and easier to deal with.

After that incident, I searched the Net for websites on setting boundaries with flaky and rude friends.  I read about ways to enforce boundaries with friends who keep standing you up.

I also decided it was my prerogative to set up personal boundaries with Tracy: no getting close to her, no telling her secrets, I’ll be polite and nice to her but that’s it.  I didn’t need her nastiness and drama constantly affecting me, making me cry, so I was going to hold her at arm’s length.

(Meanwhile, on July 4 of 2008 or 2009, we were all at the park for fireworks, but still waiting for their friend Chris.  Tracy kept calling him again and again on her cell phone, trying to find him.  Richard also did that to us a few times when we were out shopping.  So–They can do it but I can’t?  Yet more double standards!)

At the time I did not yet know that I was required to be friends with her.  I thought it was my right to say no to anything more than acquaintances!

Jeff praised me for coming up with such a sensible course of action.  I was happy putting up such boundaries, but found out much later that I wasn’t allowed to put them up without her punishing me.  So I was supposed to just take whatever crap she dished out at me, and be her bestie anyway.  Forced friendship with a bully?  Seriously?

Because I set up and enforced personal boundaries, it became my “fault” that she was so angry at me all the time and that Richard couldn’t get a cup of coffee with me.

But I had no reason to believe that she would stop ridiculing and being angry at me if I talked to her more.  I wanted to be allowed to keep my distance from a queen bee who was like the mean girls from childhood.

By the way, Richard himself described her with those terms.  He even said that he married her because she’s a mean girl!  What’s wrong with this man?

It was very damaging because I wasn’t allowed to trust my own perceptions of other people’s characters.  I once told Richard that I couldn’t take her on as a confidante just because I was told to, that “I have to choose my own confidantes.”

I confided things in her at first, the first few weeks she lived with us, but over time I found her far too scary, and couldn’t possibly trust her.

But it just didn’t seem to sink in for them that they were bullying me, that they needed to back off.  But of course, it was “my fault.”  I was “being a victim” hiding behind introversion or possible NVLD.  That’s how they saw it, but it’s not how it really was.

Inherent in your sense of obligation to give someone you distrust or dislike a ‘second chance’ is that you believe they are entitled to be in your life simply for the asking. Here’s my thought.

No one is entitled to have a relationship with me. I get to choose who I let in. I don’t have to justify my choices to anyone. They don’t get an automatic pass into my life simply because of what church they belong to or simply because they are in any particular proximity to me.

You have the right to determine on what basis people can have a relationship with you. YOU GET TO CHOOSE and you don’t have to justify your choice to them or anyone.

If you get the sense that someone is a you have the complete right to decide they won’t get a second chance to B.S. you.

Our lives are finite. This means our time, energy, resources, etc. are all finite. This means we must make careful decisions on how to spend ourselves.

If you don’t have the time, interest or energy to invest in B.S.ers then where is the fault in that?  You have a husband and children who deserve your first and best self.

If you start granting access to draining, unkind, selfish, or otherwise bent people you’re going to have a lot less to give to those whom you are obligated to serve…i.e. your nearest and dearest.

No one is entitled to a second chance. You get to decide whether or not to grant a second chance on a case by case basis. –Anna Valerious, How to Relate to the Badly Behaving and Other Questions

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