Why we should not be forced to befriend a BFF’s abusive spouse: My story of abuse

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.

Here is a blog comment describing an article by Richard Skerritt (an article which I could not find on the Net) showing the difference between a disordered adult’s tantrum and that of an angry child.  It basically says that comparing the two is unfair to children, because the adult’s tantrum lasts longer and is far worse:

Usually, despite the anger etc. the reaction was the result of some easily understood stimuli, like taking a toy away or something. Whereas, the triggering of the disordered can come about as the result of something that, to a normal person, is completely innocuous.

He also pointed out that a tantruming child can be comforted, eventually and , once the tantrum is done, the child is soothed and reverts to normal.

But, the raging disordered person can not be soothed and continues to go ballistic even if the offender tries to remove the offending stimuli.

Anna Valerious writes:

But today’s thought is simply this: the narcissist/abuser has tender feelings that they coddle and caress and expect you to do the same for their poor little feelings. Conversely, they will trample, disregard and spit on your feelings.

This is a sign of their basely selfish and corrupt natures and isn’t your cue to capitulate. Expect them to be ‘hurt’ when you state reality. Expect them to look wounded to the core when you don’t perform properly your “duty” by them.

Remember ’til your dying day that the narcissist and the abuser are filled with the tenderest sympathy for themselves, but can spare none or little for you.

This is a grotesque reality you mustn’t pretend away. Stop the crazy bus and get off!

There is something seriously wrong with a person who has feelings only for their own pain. Period. Every psychopath has feelings for himself.

The same psychopath gets a total thrill from hurting your feelings. Even if we’re only talking about someone who emotionally abuses you on occasion so they can feel better it is the same principle.

Someone who ignores your pain but has all kinds of compassion for their own pain is a sick sonafabitch. Steer clear. —Do They Have Feelings?

And this is from an article about communicating with people with disorders which make it hard to understand others.  The article is about people on the autism spectrum, but some of the NVLD social issues overlap with Asperger’s and autism:

Presume honesty. We may fail to make eye contact because it makes us feel anxious. We may be nervous in social situations with new acquaintances.

Some may construe our symptoms of anxiety as related to lying, and may not believe or trust us. If anything, however, most of us are honest to a fault. ….

Tell us if we are making you uncomfortable. For example, if we invade your personal space, and you just move away, we may not understand why.

If you say something like, “I am not comfortable with someone standing that close, but six inches farther apart feels good to me,” we will generally be very willing to do that, and not feel hurt. —Learning Each Other’s Language: Strategies to Improve Communication Between Neurotypicals and Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

It’s ludicrous the way Tracy lectured me in the 7/1 and 8/1/10 e-mails about “proper” behavior, saying that I was “wrong” and how “everybody knows, learning disability or not” that you’re supposed to befriend the wife if you want to do anything with the husband (playful banter with, going for coffee with, etc. etc.). 

No, I was NOT “wrong.”

1. It’s ludicrous because she knows absolutely nothing about what it’s like for people with NVLD or Asperger’s to struggle with social rules.  For example, until my mother explained it to me when I was maybe 11, I had absolutely no clue that you’re supposed to say “hi” back when somebody greets you in the hallway.  I had no idea I was offending people this way.

Social rules had to be explained to me or I would not know they existed.

2. It’s ludicrous because it’s not true: There is no such rule as the one Tracy stated.  This is a do-as-you-want society, where fixed social rules have long since been set aside.

I’ve had other friends whose spouses do NOT require this, such as my old college friend Mike.  I don’t know his wife, who won’t even friend me on Facebook because she doesn’t want to friend his friends.  Ever since they got married, they’ve lived too far away for me to get to know her.

Yet she has absolutely no objection to me chatting with him on Facebook, occasionally (innocently) flirting with him in those chats, exchanging e-mails, or, several months ago, having lunch with him when he happened to be in town.  No, she was NOT there, and neither of us had a “wing man” which some people think is “proper.”

I’ve also seen post threads on a local social network which showed that many people find “wing men” to be unnecessary, that all you need to do is let your hubby know you’re meeting this friend, and it’s totally proper.  Assuming your intentions are honorable, of course.  Your husband does not have to know the guy, you don’t have to know the woman he’s meeting.

Other people I’ve known and all sorts of comment threads I’ve found on the Net, tell me that Tracy’s rules are far from fixed, that it’s incredibly common to have the more trusting, do-as-you-want attitude I have lived and encountered.

Here’s one right here, Is She “His” Friend or “Our” Friend on Chocolate Vent:

I have a girlfriend who swears that married men should no longer have female friends once he’s married. Instead of just being his friend that woman should then become “our” friend.

I think that’s ridiculous, but I wonder how many women & men actually enforce that.

I mean why should I have to be friends with some woman just because my husband was friends with her first?

And same with my male friends – why should my husband be forced to make a new friend just because I was friends with him first?

….I don’t think that anyone should be forced to be friends with someone that they don’t know.

If my husband has female friends before we marry then those should be his friends & his friends alone. Of course, I’m sure I’ll end up meeting all of my husband’s female friends, I just wouldn’t want to be forced to befriend them just because we’re married.

After all, if I couldn’t trust him I should’ve never married him.

A commenter wrote,

I have friends my husband has no interest in socializing with, in fact he would rather cut his own throat than be forced to attend any event with. He has friends I feel the same about.

This includes both single and married friends, those we knew prior to our marriage and those we have met since our marriage, those of the same gender and of the opposite gender.

Also, throughout our marriage, my husband has had many female friends whom I did not know, but I had no objection to him going to SCA events alone, chatting with them, wandering off to chat with them when we visited, e-mailing them, meeting them for coffee, that sort of thing.

TRUST IS NECESSARY in a marriage, or it will degenerate into suspicion and controlling behavior, which ultimately will drive you apart, the opposite of what you intended. 

Also, I want to be friends with people because we get along and have things in common, NOT because I am or she is forced into it because of whom we’re married to.

3. It’s ludicrous because Tracy focused so much on what she demanded of other people, but gave them nothing, gave me nothing, gave no apologies for nasty behavior, no acknowledgement of how her husband is charming and easy to be friends with, but she turns people off from friendship with her.

4. It’s ludicrous because it violates my own rights to choose my friends, choose my confidantes, put up boundaries against people like her, and be able to tell for myself when someone is not good to be around.  

5. It’s ludicrous because–from Richard’s own words–she did not live by the same rules which she imposed on Richard and everyone else.  She did NOT befriend me before chatting with, playfully flirting with, or going to a concert with my husband.

Richard did NOT require that all her friends be friends with him as well, nor did she impose such a rule on herself.  Only Richard’s friends had to follow this rule.

6. It’s ludicrous because it takes the focus off the true offender–her, the one who abuses her husband, children, and anyone else she chooses–and puts it on a scapegoat.  

I knew just a few weeks into her rooming with us that she was a bad and emotionally dangerous person.  She was also bigger than I am and violent.

Forcing me into friendship with her was bullying and controlling behavior from both her and Richard, from the very beginning.

So when I think back, it’s not at all surprising that I dug in my heels and refused to go beyond polite hellos and responses to her comments or questions.

Jeff thinks one reason for her jealousy was that she knew I could easily steal away Richard, just by being nice and sweet to him, hanging on his every word and laughing at his jokes, a huge contrast to Tracy’s treatment of him.

But Jeff feels the real reason for her seeing me as a threat to her marriage, was not as a potential affair-partner, but as a confidante, someone who could open Richard’s eyes to just how badly Tracy was treating him and the kids, especially since I didn’t keep my mouth shut about it.

But of course, Tracy wouldn’t want to admit to this, so she conveniently fell back on the “moving in on my husband!” angle.

After all, Richard flirted with lots of people, who also flirted with him, but she didn’t seem to mind that.

And also, after she spouted on Facebook that she finally got to say what she wanted to me and no longer sit back and be “quiet and nice” (she doesn’t even know the meaning of “quiet and nice”)–

Which is far more socially acceptable, far more likely to get the approval of her friends and family: saying I was the person most likely to convince Richard that she’s abusing him and the kids, and that for his own safety and his kids’ safety, he needs to get out NOW–

or saying that I was “violating boundaries” and “moving in on” him?

I found this in Dear Abby on April 11, 2012:

DEAR ABBY: My sister, Beth, and I are very close, but a constant source of contention is her boyfriend, Brody. Beth and Brody have broken up several times, and each time it happens, she fills me in on every horrible thing he has ever done.

They always seem to get back together, and then Beth expects me to like him despite everything I know. Does the fact that she forgives and forgets mean that I have to do the same? –TOO MUCH INFO IN OHIO

DEAR TOO MUCH INFO: No, it doesn’t. But you should be civil, even if you’re not warm and friendly. Then cross your fingers and hope your sister recognizes less drama is healthier and the relationship ends soon.

See?  Even Dear Abby says you don’t have to be more than civil with your friend’s abusive significant other!

And I was always civil with Tracy, always polite and kind, saying hello and good-bye, responding to her questions, occasionally asking her things or paying her a compliment, occasionally chatting with her, giving her things, smiling at her, even biting my tongue when I had to, not mentioning the state of the house, not complaining when she snarked at me.

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