Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

Both Richard and Tracy–first Richard when Jeff spoke to him, then Tracy in the e-mail to Jeff–claimed that 99% of everyone else in the world would have reacted even more fiercely than Tracy had done during the “incident” which ended the friendship, to the e-mail I had written.

What kind of horrid, abusive people do they normally hang out with, anyway, to think this?

Meanwhile, Jeff reacted very differently.  Do remember that he is Tracy’s counterpart, therefore the one to whom I compare her behavior.

The very same things that threw Tracy into furious rages, Jeff barely even raised an eyebrow about.  

What I actually did, did not deserve even half of the reaction it got.  To this day I look back on the “shoulder thing” and the hugs and I’m baffled at Tracy’s reactions.  Does she live in a bubble where no one can touch anyone with kindness and caring unless they’re family?

Also, note that here, as before when Richard told me that 90% of the world would disagree with me that the man is not responsible for all problems in a marriage, Richard and Tracy were now claiming that most of the world would agree with them–as if somehow this made their view right and mine wrong.

But what about the way men in much of the world think women should be treated, with women subservient, so any problems in the marriage can be solved by the man asserting his dominance and swacking her over the head?

What about the tyranny of the majority?

And how do they know most of the world disagrees with me?  Have they done a poll?

This is typical of abusers, claiming that their abuse is kind compared to what other people would have done to you for your “crimes.”  

The appeals to these hypothetical “others,” the Grand Society who would treat you far worse for what you have supposedly done, to make you think you should be grateful for the “mild” way he’s abused you.

The minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying of the abuse to make the victim seem like the abuser, or too sensitive, or too immature to accept responsibility for her behavior.  (Ironic, isn’t it?)  

He’s “only” yelled and screamed at you.  Or “only” hit you.  Or “only” cussed at and belittled you for your horrible behavior. 

The slaveowner in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl did exactly this to Linda, telling her other masters would have killed her on the spot for saying she despised him.

Don’t you dare go and tell anybody how I’ve treated you.  Don’t tell your mother I touched you like this.  

Or don’t tell the police I’m slapping you around.  

Or don’t go crying to your friends/husband/ boss/teacher about how I’m beating you down verbally or physically, because I don’t need the headache.

(That’s what Tracy wrote to me: “Don’t go crying to Jeff about this because we don’t need the headache.”)  

Don’t tell your teacher or the police that I nearly choked you to death.  You deserve what you got….

THESE ARE LIES!

Abusers of any stripe deserve to be brought into the light and their deeds exposed.

The major tactics we use in maintaining our denial are minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying. The effect of these tactics is to redefine what happened, what is acceptable, and what is harmful in such a way that ultimately any act, no matter how hideous, can be carried out.

Minimizing distances us from the damage we caused by claiming that the damage wasn’t as bad as it actually was. “I didn’t beat her up, I just pushed her.”

By minimizing the damage we have caused, we can then blame the victim for “exaggerating” the abuse or accuse the victim of simply making the whole thing up, depending on the nature of the evidence we face.

If there is enough evidence to prove that we have done something wrong, we can use partial repentance: “I’ll accept the responsibility of anything you can prove I did, and nothing more.”

Rationalizing is lying to oneself about what was done to make it seem acceptable — telling ourselves rational (sounding) lies if you will.

“She’s lucky I only hit her once. Anybody else would have beaten the crap out of her.”

This lying becomes more and more practiced until we can convince ourselves of anything — particularly when the pain of admitting the truth of what we’ve done becomes larger and harder to deal with.

Justifying is explaining why it was okay to do what was done. “It was okay for me to tell her that I would kill her (justifying) because she was becoming so upset and she had to shut up before she disturbed the neighbors (rationalizing) and I didn’t really mean it anyway (minimizing). She knows I could never hurt her.”

Part of the reason for maintaining denial is that when we are abusing others we are frequently incapable of separating ourselves from our behavior, and therefor to admit that the behavior is bad is to make us bad as well. Nobody wants to think of themselves as bad, so we don’t think about things that way. —Denial

Both of them were, basically, blaming me for Tracy’s actions.  But the responsibility for Tracy’s behavior is on Tracy, not me.  

She could have chosen to step back, calm down, and then find out what was REALLY going on, before (over)reacting.  This would have led to her getting the truth, (hopefully) accepting it, and then the preservation of the friendship.

This is DARVO, or deny, attack, and reverse victim-offender.  This is abusers trying to silence their victim.  Classic abusive behavior.

Despite the verbal barrage I received from Tracy over many e-mails on that day and on 8/1/10 (in the next chapter), I did my best to remain calm, make my own apologies, and be mature.

But, like the various cyberbullies I’ve come across on gaming forums and in chat rooms, there was no reasoning with her.  

Her rage just kept going and going, even a month later by which time most reasonable people would have calmed down and seen their own contribution to the problem.

She didn’t care about my feelings or hearing me out; as Jeff said, she just wanted to yell.

In fact, when I think back over the years I knew her, she never did want to hear me out about anything, never cared about my side of things.

A true friend would care, would cut you slack, try to get the full story, not treat you like a worm every time you did something she didn’t like, but she never even bothered to ask me.

A true friend would let you be yourself, but she criticized me for being naturally quiet and introverted.

She went on and on about me somehow hurting her again and again over the past couple of years, but Jeff and I both had no idea what she was talking about: Ever since they moved out, I had stopped doing the things that I knew bugged her, had been nice to her!

I joked with her at times, and held my tongue when she kept poking and prodding me with her snarks.  Yet I was somehow hurting her?

She blamed me for things which had been Richard’s idea, and even when we found out they upset her and stopped doing them, it was as if they had been all my idea and as if I kept doing them.

And of course, she wouldn’t allow me to defend myself or find out what the heck was going on, by replying to these e-mails.

She talked and acted as if it were horrible, selfish, disrespectful (to her and Richard), and stalker-y to respond to these e-mails, to defend myself, to find out what was going on and why I was being treated this way, and, later, to send Richard a good-bye e-mail that explained our decision and accused him of duplicity.

Then she later on used this as her excuse–er, justified reason, she would say–to block me from Richard’s Facebook and e-mail accounts, and forbid him from e-mailing or speaking to me.

It was truly BIZARRE behavior from her, and yet more evidence that she is a narcissist/sociopath.  Truth made no difference to her at all.  As Jeff said, “She just wanted to yell.”  As Anna Valerious writes,

Recognize the reality that the narcissist will never give you “permission” to defend yourself against them. Quit being confused as to your rights to self-defense when confronted by the threatenings and breathings against you by the narcissist for doing so.

Is it reasonable to expect the despotic ruler to grant you the right to mount a defense against his capricious demands? Hardly.

It is time to recognize your fundamental right to live which is connected to your fundamental right to defend your life against threats. This is as true in the emotional, mental and spiritual realm as in the physical. —Your Most Fundamental Right

Let’s take a look at this line that narcissists aren’t really bad, that they lash out at you because they feel “threatened.”  This idea begs the question “Threatened in what way?” and “Threatened by what?”

If you’re the victim of a narcissist, you know that this “threatened” excuse is a farce, because the narcissist attacks precisely when you are anti-threatening him or her.

Like when you are trying to please them, when you are saying you love them, when they are already mad at you and you are trying to appease them, when you try to get them to listen to you.

WHAM–you expect the normal reaction to these friendly behaviors, but what do you get instead? The PERVERTED reaction of an attack. It’s a shock tactic that takes you aback and makes you have to pinch yourself.

What on earth have you done to “threaten” the poor narcissist?  Let’s look at the last example–trying to get her to listen to you.  By doing that, you ARE “threatening” her, I’m afraid.

Yes.  Correction: No, you are not threatening her; you are threatening the imaginary her, the bogus “her.” You’re threatening her delusions of grandeur.

ANY honesty or reality does.

Remember that she is a mental child playing Pretend, and she wants all her playmates to play along. That means you are supposed to follow her script.

You are supposed to act unworthy of her attention or regard. When you don’t play that part, she stomps her little foot at you and gets mad, throwing a temper tantrum to be so obnoxious that you give in and do what she wants.

…But when your motive is to destroy the other, the other party backing down or trying to appease you has the opposite effect. Then it’s a sign of weakness that just emboldens the attacker to pour on the attack more furiously than ever.  –Kathy Krajco, The Poor Narcissist Feels Threatened

So after she sent that horrible e-mail to Jeff in response to his attempts to calm her down, which I saw before he did, I made up my mind that it was OVER. 

I couldn’t go to the game because I was too upset to see people.  When Jeff got home from the T-ball game, I told him, “I just can’t deal with that woman anymore!”

Jeff read the e-mail, then came back upstairs and asked me, So we’re going to break off the friendship?

He was on board with it now, now that he had full confirmation that Tracy was a nasty, horrible person who would never lighten up on me no matter what we said or what I did. 

He wanted nothing more to do with either one of them. 

He planned to watch the kids on the weekend, and at first didn’t want to back out on his word.  But after what Tracy wrote to him, he didn’t even want to do this. 

You know it’s serious and that he’s furious, for him to break his word. 

Screw Richard/Tracy and their plans for that weekend: If they couldn’t find another sitter and had to stay home, it was their own fault and their problem.  You just don’t treat friends the way they treated us, and expect those friends to stick around.

My husband and I had been so patient, so nice with them for so long, but after this, we finally had enough of their crap.

Tracy had made it clear that I was not allowed to speak to Richard–whether by phone, e-mail, Facebook, etc.–until we had this “conference.”  Basically, emotional blackmail.  I elaborate on this here.

Bullies find your weak spot, the thing or person that means the most to you, and keep it from you unless you give in to their demands.

In my case, it was my friendship with Richard, with all the privileges his other friends had; she always held it up like a carrot, always out of my reach, sometimes letting it down enough so I could nibble it for a while, then yanking it back up again.

Well, I was tired of dancing for Tracy, always at risk of her blowing up at me the way she did to Todd.  It was degrading.  That’s why I’m gone. 

“Best friends forever” phbbt–If Richard were really my friend, he never would have allowed her to manipulate me like this.  Instead, he tried to pull me into her quagmire and then beat me up emotionally when I was down.

I wasn’t going to sit and listen to an abusive witch lecture me on how I was behaving so “badly,” when she refused to recognize that she’s an abuser and a bully. 

I wasn’t going to let her go on and on about how I deserved her abuse. 

I was sick to death of getting lectured over and over again for being a quiet introvert with NLD, of everything I did being interpreted in the worst possible way and as a horrible offense against her,

while she got away scot-free with all the snarks and other abuses that she did constantly for the past two and a half years I had known her!

Now that I know about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I see that the BPD was coloring everything I did in her eyes, making it into an offense where none existed, and that it was nothing I actually did. 

But back then, I had never heard of BPD.  All I saw was a crazy woman. 

And whatever the cause, she was extremely abusive and cruel, not the kind of person I wanted for a friend.

BPD may be a reason, but no excuse for abuse. 

I didn’t have to put up with this.

I knew very well that I deserved none of her abuse. 

That I had done nothing wrong. 

That I had done NOTHING over the past two and a half years to hurt or offend her. 

That this was all a bizarre game she was playing to make me think I did things I didn’t do, deserved abuse I did not deserve. 

And for some unknown reason, Richard was playing along with it–probably so she wouldn’t beat HIM next and make his life miserable with her tirades.

The following quote describes her exactly and explains what she was doing with me:

Another highly effective device abusive women use to control you is denying approval and acceptance.

It’s natural to want to be liked and admired—especially by the person you love. Being criticized, demeaned, rejected and told repeatedly, “not good enough,” “you don’t measure up,” or that you’ve “failed again” is demoralizing.

It also spurs you on to try even harder to please her and herein lies the problem: These women are never satisfied. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. She will never bestow upon you the kind of love and acceptance you seek.

Why does your wife’s/girlfriend’s/ex’s approval mean so much to you? Do you actually respect her and the way she conducts herself?

A woman like this is an abusive, entitled and incredibly self-serving bully, so why do you care what she thinks?  Seeking approval from someone who takes pleasure in cutting you down is a recipe for disappointment and pain.

You’re perpetuating a sick dynamic by seeking approval from someone who’ll never give it to you. Why? Because these women experience giving approval to others as a psychological and visceral loss.

To tell you, “nice job” or “I appreciate you” somehow makes her feel less than and, as you well know, these women won’t tolerate that for a second. –Dr. Tara Palmatier, How Emotionally Abusive Women Control You: The Fear of Loss and the Need for Approval

I have speculated on why, and come up with probable reasons for their behavior: Richard was going into right-wing extremism while I was turning liberal, we had been financially generous but the economic downturn left us short of money, I spoke up against the way Tracy treated her husband and children. 

All of these are very plausible reasons why the two of them would conspire to carry out this gaslighting campaign against me, trying to convince me I was a bad person doing horrible things, when it was actually THEM doing the horrible things.

This is one of the ways that narcissists and abusers twist with your head.  You see it all the time when abused spouses say, “I deserved it.  I talked back/burned the dinner/talked to that person/etc.”

It’s called Battered Wife Syndrome.  And well, my mind was too strong for anyone to convince me that I deserved abuse.  I resisted it with Phil, and I resisted it with them.

I wasn’t going to let them bully me into submission, force me into believing that my natural temperament was somehow horribly offensive. 

These were bigots, not just your normal extroverts who don’t understand introverts, but bigots and bullies who set out to destroy you just because you’re an introvert with NVLD

I could not believe how loony, bizarre, fierce and overblown they were over such a small thing. 

The justification they later gave was connected to my being a quiet introvert–and is behavior not at all unusual for a person like me, and completely benign. 

With most people except for Richard, I don’t even like talking on the phone, even with my best friends, because it’s hard to find something to say. 

Which is another reason why I look at them now as con artists who no longer saw us as useful to them–because of our lack of money, moderate politics, lack of political connections and willingness to speak up when they were abusive–and had to latch onto some reason to make us believe I was the problem, not them. 

Then we wouldn’t notice how they kept siphoning money and other things from us while treating us like crap.

And you know what?  Finally refusing to give in to her, to chuck everything rather than keep dealing with her constant covert and overt bullying and abuse–That was my declaration of freedom.

I began to breathe more freely, felt greatly relieved to have her out of my life.  No longer was I made to feel like an evil witch simply because I am shy, quiet and refuse to let dangerous people into my confidences and inner circle.

Her insistence on this “conference”–my mother called her manipulative.  I have found references to the very same thing in reading this blog on emotional blackmail, and reading about people who have left spiritually abusive churches, but are told they have to attend a meeting with the elders.  They know they will be subjected to more abuse.

Tracy’s behavior and demands exactly match the abusive practices of these cult-like churches, as I describe here.  As for the blog on emotional blackmail, it describes a man being forced by his son to endure the son’s verbal abuse if he expects to see his grandchildren.

Jeff went straight over to their house with a borrowed book and a necklace–a gift to his hostess–that Richard gave me when he first moved in.

The book was the classic Orthodox work I had wanted to read, and that he had finally given to me a few weeks before, The Way of a Pilgrim.  I hadn’t even finished it yet, and was getting so much from it.

But I had to give it up.  I still haven’t read it.

In fact, I have blocked out the memory of it so much over the past four years because of its association with Richard, that I blanked on the name, and still didn’t recognize it even though I found it after Google searching.

That necklace, a tiger-eye bought at the mall, meant a lot to me, and I wore it all the time.  Once, I thought I had lost it, or that my son had lost it, and tore up my room looking for it until I found it.

It was a symbol of our friendship–which meant that it was a LIE.  I’m starting to tear up just writing about this, four years later.

Jeff said to Tracy, “Any hurt Nyssa has caused has been by accident.  But you, you’re being deliberately hurtful!”  He ended things right then and there while I watched over our son at home, not wanting to be near Tracy for obvious reasons.

I hoped to hear when he came back that Richard and Tracy were sorry for blowing up like that, that they valued our friendship as much as Tracy said they did, that they tried to apologize and change his mind.

But no, all they said was “I understand” (Richard) and a petulant “Give him the stuff you borrowed, Richard, so we can get back to our MO-vie” (Tracy).

I have found sources which say narcissists will often let you go like that, like you never meant a thing to them.  Because, well, you didn’t.  Richard had claimed to Jeff that he wanted to preserve the friendship, but this was obviously yet another lie.

Jeff brought back books I had lent to Richard, an Orthodox book on mystical theology, and Kafka’s The Trial.  We had seen the movie together when he lived with us.  They had also just used our cat carrier that day, so it still had a tape with the cat’s name on it.

While the book I returned to him was in pristine condition, mine were all covered in dried spaghetti sauce, which Jeff and I both had to scrub off!

Jeff came home and went on and on about how Tracy’s behavior was “just AWFUL!” and how she had to get down on her knees and apologize to me, and how glad he was to no longer have to go back to “that HOUSE” with its filth and “that SMELL!”

Then Richard posted a video on Facebook as an expression of what happened that day, “Birth School Work Death” by the Godfathers.

I won’t link to it, because that would require finding it, and while it’s an awesome song, it’s triggering.

That’s all Richard wrote about it, though Tracy had posted far more about what a GREAT day she was having (before I finally blocked her Facebook account that afternoon).

Jeff said, “They weren’t good friends,” and “Do you feel used?  I do.”

For days and weeks, I kept waiting and hoping for an apologetic phone call, but none came.

Jeff said I was sweet and everything that Tracy was not, and that was the real reason why she hated me.  

So after all Richard’s claims of how awesome a person I was and how dear my friendship was to him and how much he liked Jeff and me, he just let us go with a simple “I understand,” and he never called us even once after that to try to get us back.  Not even once!

Yeah, now I see how much his friendship was truly worth.  A real, true friend would have tried to call at least once, and not let us go so easily and then blocked us all on Facebook.

Is it necessary for me to state that I saw clearly that it would be a dishonour to myself to continue even an acquaintance with such a one as you had showed yourself to be? –Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis”

I wrote to Richard that evening on Facebook, giving him a chance overnight to respond to it.  But he wrote zilch back, so I unfriended him in the morning:

Goodbye

This is the only message I’ll send. I’ll just say that I bear you no ill-will and certainly never meant any trouble.

You know everything was innocently meant. We were having trouble and I simply wanted to go back to how things were before we started having any problems.

I’ve said before that I’m not comfortable being friends with someone whose wife hates me.

I certainly can’t be friends with you when your wife thinks such horrible things about me.

It’s ripping my heart apart to lose my best friend and brother and favorite theological conversationalist, but it’s probably for the best.

That night, I dreamed that Jeff was helping me escape an abusive husband.  We were running through an airport, down an escalator, to get away from him.  When I woke up I knew it was about Jeff helping me escape Tracy.

Because not only is she an abusive wife, not only is she an abusive mother, but she is also an abusive friend. 

She’s just as bad as any man who beats his wife or girlfriend.

The following day, Jeff wrote me this:

Well, just remember that it isn’t you. What they don’t seem to understand is that all friendship requires give & take.

When I considered how much I had to tolerate to maintain being friends with them, we more than earned a little tolerance and understanding from them.

Instead, while I drop off stuff, Richard is just “I understand”, while Tracy is barking to just give me your books so she can get back to her movie.

Oh yeah, they’re sensitive types and I can tell that my friendship just meant a ton to them.   🙁

I wrote back,

And all because we tried to be kind and give them a place to stay. Really turns me off on the idea of further hospitality for anyone else.   🙁 

I really felt that our good nature was being taken advantage of because it seemed like they just started planning for it and we had nowhere to put them.  🙁

He wrote,

The thought has occurred to me.  Through all our troubles, I put out an honest effort to be understanding of Richard and Tracy.

I spent a ton of time talking with you, trying to nurture understanding and tolerance in you to help smooth our relationships.

What was I thinking?

He later elaborated on how bad he felt about this, not putting more faith in what I was saying, because now he saw for himself that I was right about Tracy.

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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