On June 15, I wrote to my pastor friend Mike,

I finally got my friend [Richard] to talk to me [in Facebook chat].  I was waiting for him to ask what was wrong, since the last message I got from him made me think he’d yell at me if I brought it up again.  But I couldn’t stand waiting and wondering any longer….

I won’t go into boring details, but we talked. He apologized for hurting me [being so mean to me in his e-mail response when I had simply asked to talk with him about something that was bothering me], and we had a long discussion about what was bothering him, and how I felt about such things as what an apology is for.

Turns out his Facebook political messages are part of some political platform thing he’s doing.  For some reason, he made this seriousness part of his personal account, instead of making a separate, “professional” account to go with his position in the local Libertarian party.

AND he never told me.  I, naturally, assumed the same thing Jeff did: that whatever he posts on his personal account is fair game for anything anybody might want to say.

Agree, disagree, tease–as long as you’re not nasty, everything is fine.  Same as on anybody else’s Facebook account.  I find it very confusing and suggested he make a separate account for the political stuff, not go mixing it up like this.  But for some reason, he doesn’t want to.

Another problem is that he is very much the stereotypical guy in how he relates to women.  Jeff taught me that apologies are necessary and not an admission of wrongdoing.  My friend was taught that apologies should be made as little as possible.

And he also prefers bluntness and actually gets upset if somebody doesn’t use it.  He thinks it’s a bad approach, not “assertive.”

I prefer diplomacy, “I” expressions, not putting someone on the defensive, which IS assertive according to the reading I’ve done.  Not being assertive would mean either aggressiveness (treating people like crap to get your way) or passiveness (being a doormat and never saying what you want).

Jeff sometimes helps me with diplomacy, and I figure, he’s a guy so he should know how to talk to guys.  So I was amazed when my friend told me to stop being delicate and be blunt instead, even rude.  To talk to him even if he’s been nasty to me, hit him with a brick.

I just don’t understand why he thinks that’s better and my way is “wrong” or somehow annoying.

Anyway, our friendship is salvaged.  The other things are still annoying, however: the mansplaining, being “right” on pretty much every topic (not just politics), the stereotypical behaviors that make me sometimes wish he were a woman. 

And I don’t know what’s up with his wife.  Normally I get along just fine with wives, but this one is hard to get along with.  (Not just for me, either.  She has a history of not getting along with some of his friends.)

We see so much going on when we’re at their house lately, that I wonder what goes on when we’re not there.  My friend mentioned that when I tried to talk to him on Friday, he was tired of the drama going on in his own house and didn’t want to deal with any more.

I’ve seen so many of my friends get divorced in the past 10 years that I don’t just assume anymore that everything will turn out fine.

It certainly makes me glad to have the marriage I have.  My husband has flaws, but is not afraid to acknowledge them.  He doesn’t understand everything about women, but he knows how to deal with me pretty well. HE has no problem with diplomacy, and even encourages it.

And my son seems to be turning out okay, even though [contrary to Richard] I don’t believe that constant hard spanks or screaming is a good way to raise a child.

(As my mom said once, I shouldn’t be getting any more child rearing advice from Richard.  😛  Or marital, either, for that matter.)

Mike replied the next day,

What one says professionally speaks what they believe personally.  What one says politically speaks what they believe personally.

He knows that he gets more bang for his buck if he posts things on his personal account. On a professional account it would only be likeminded people reading his stuff.

By posting it on his personal page he gets to have people who disagree with him read his stuff too, which I am sure gives him some sort of thrill.  He wants you to become upset and comment on his postings.  It gives him a cheap thrill to know that he has gotten under your skin.

Being blunt is one thing, being rude is another.  Yes, there is a time for being blunt.  If I constantly were making sexist comments, or I was making rude comments about orthodox folks all the time, you might need to say, “Mike, I don’t appreciate it.  Please stop.” [Bolded because I used this approach in my e-mail to Richard later.]

I agree with you and Jeff though.  Assertiveness is speaking the truth with love.  It’s using I statements. Don’t assume that Jeff will know how to talk to guys….There are different species of men.  Jeff and I are one species….Another species is the kind who are aggressive and rude.

Richard told me his political friends were complaining about my posts.  This was ridiculous, because it’s a personal account, and I wish he would’ve stuck up for me instead of blaming me for something I had no way of knowing was a problem.

Making a separate page connected to your personal account is ridiculously easy and free to do, as I later found out when connecting a page to my Facebook for my books.  Yet he refused.

We seemed to have resolved the issues we had up until then, though I didn’t go into how Tracy had been treating me.

That night, I spent eyestrain-causing hours scouring my books and the Web on how women and men relate to each other. 

Most sites and books are annoyingly about love relationships, not friendships, so I had to wade through all the lovey-dovey stuff.  But I gleaned what I could.

On the 27th, after the events of this section, I wrote to Mike,

I keep feeling frustrated….Last night my friend wrote me e-mails that I found very distressing.

He used to be the one I turned to (other than Jeff) who could be the most comforting in times of trouble.  I started confiding all sorts of things in him, deep secrets, that sort of thing, believing he was safe, and hoping to help him understand me better.

But instead I find that he’s gotten these ideas in his head, opinions of me and my behaviors and opinions, which he refuses to deviate from no matter what I say.

Basically, he’s right in everything.  He’s right about politics, childrearing, the habits of introverts, life issues, etc. etc., and he won’t consider my opinions.

He greatly misjudges me in various things and what he wrote in his e-mails last night, was alarmingly OFF.

I spoke with Jeff about these issues, and he assures me that no, I’m not what my friend thinks I am.  I’m amazed because I’ve told Jeff most of the same things, along with many other things that have happened over the years, things which I never told my friend about–yet Jeff has a vastly different opinion of me.

After all the confiding I’ve done in my friend, I find this extremely disappointing and heartbreaking.

It’s hard to know what he’s thinking oftentimes because for whatever reason, he doesn’t respond to e-mails that often, and it’s often hard to get him on the phone.

I had been so looking forward to summer and having more time to call him and get our kids together to play, but now I just can’t bring myself to do it because I’m so disheartened….

He’s supposed to be studying psychology, on the way to becoming a priest.  But I feel he really needs to work on empathy if he’s going to do that.  😛

As you see above, Richard told me he didn’t like my diplomatic way of dealing with problems, that he didn’t want me sparing his feelings, that he wanted me to be blunt and “hit him with a brick.”

So when he sent me that e-mail about NVLD, equating it with Asperger’s, and accusing me of being a “victim,” I decided to honor his wishes and be blunt.  

On Sunday I wrote him an e-mail, and–using Mike’s recommended pattern above–told him I don’t appreciate it and to please stop.

I don’t remember exact wording because I later deleted the e-mail.

But I told him I put a lot of research into NVLD–researched it obsessively for many years, in fact–and to stop acting like he knew better than I did if I had it or not.

I said to stop telling me what to think,

judging me (because of the shy/quiet thing),

trying to change me (from being my own quiet self),

and scolding me for disagreeing with him on things (such as politics or NVLD or food choices).

The anger over these things had been building up for weeks as he kept yelling at me online even when I tried to bring up the problems we were having and how he was making me feel.

Since this was exactly what Richard told me to do, I thought for sure he would write back thanking me for finally “asserting” myself the way he wanted me to.  I thought he would be impressed and respect me. 

I know I felt released and relieved after sending this.

But even though he specifically told me to be blunt, he became furious at my bluntness. 

He denied trying to change me or judging me or calling me a victim or scolding me.  (What do you call saying “I want to strangle you for thinking you have NVLD”?)  

He said I had to get over my hurt feelings–essentially said I had to change my opinions of how he’d been acting–before talking to him again.

He sent an e-mail to Jeff about me “biting hard,” though he didn’t want to “dump” us “as friends,” nor did he want us to “dump” him “as friends.”

Since Richard brought him into this argument, Jeff responded that Richard himself had been “biting hard” of late, and he’d give examples if asked.

Richard responded with an e-mail, dated June 28, 2010, 12:22am, that sounded very much like a threat of assault, highlighted emphasis mine.  A policeman who reviewed it in May 2012, also said it sounded very threatening:

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.

He hadn’t been so angry in years as he was then?  That seemed ludicrous, considering all the things that happened to make him far angrier in those years than a friend disagreeing with him:

his wife smacking him around,

getting evicted,

wanting to kill the manager for evicting him,

the arguments with Todd.

It was scary.

It was hard to say if he was actually threatening Jeff, but it was scary that he would even think that–and that there were at least two earlier drafts which could’ve been even worse.

I mean, WHY?  What about what Jeff wrote, or what I wrote, could’ve provoked him so much?

Richard was incredibly unstable.  Todd also described him later as “unstable.” 

I already knew Richard had a temper problem, but up until now, he kept it in check around me.  Supposedly he was trying to “quell his passions” with the tools of Orthodoxy–but lately, it seemed that his temper and politics had become far more important to him than religion or friendship.

The past few months had shown an entirely different Richard: the old one, the pre-Orthodox one, the agnostic Goth, the Richard who called himself Rlyeh, the one I only heard about in Richard’s stories of his old life. 

I saw Rlyeh once before, maybe 2006, when he decided to stop being Mister Nice Guy and rip into some guys on the Forum, and changed his handle to Rlyeh–but then he turned back into the usual version of himself on the Forum.

However, by this point I had seen several of his online personas:

One, used on Orthodox forums, was pious and gentle.

One, used most often between 2005 and 2009, was middle-of-the-road, charismatic and charming, fun but occasionally biting, sometimes crass, Libertarian, Orthodox, the one I was taken with, the one who seemed larger than life across the Net.

One was a game persona, leader of a certain alliance, of which I was part.

One was purely political, the TEA Partier.

Now in real life he had turned into Rlyeh, the psychopath.

What is this, multiple personalities?  Now Richard was Sybil, too?

The narcissist acts unpredictably, capriciously, inconsistently and irrationally. This serves to demolish in others their carefully crafted worldview. They become dependent upon the next twist and turn of the narcissist, his inexplicable whims, his outbursts, denial, or smiles.

In other words: the narcissist makes sure that HE is the only stable entity in the lives of others – by shattering the rest of their world through his seemingly insane behaviour. He guarantees his presence in their lives – by destabilising them.

In the absence of a self, there are no likes or dislikes, preferences, predictable behaviour or characteristics. It is not possible to know the narcissist. There is no one there.

The narcissist was conditioned – from an early age of abuse and trauma – to expect the unexpected. His was a world in which (sometimes sadistic) capricious caretakers and peers often behaved arbitrarily. He was trained to deny his True Self and nurture a False one.

Having invented himself, the narcissist sees no problem in re-inventing that which he designed in the first place. The narcissist is his own creator.

Hence his grandiosity.

Moreover, the narcissist is a man for all seasons, forever adaptable, constantly imitating and emulating, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a chameleon, a non-entity that is, at the same time, all entities combined.

The narcissist is best described by Heidegger’s phrase: “Being and Nothingness”. Into this reflective vacuum, this sucking black hole, the narcissist attracts the Sources of his Narcissistic Supply.

To an observer, the narcissist appears to be fractured or discontinuous.

Pathological narcissism has been compared to the Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly the Multiple Personality Disorder).

By definition, the narcissist has at least two selves, the True and False ones. His personality is very primitive and disorganised.

Living with a narcissist is a nauseating experience not only because of what he is – but because of what he is NOT. He is not a fully formed human – but a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic gallery of ephemeral images, which melt into each other seamlessly. It is incredibly disorienting. —Sam Vaknin

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

 

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