My Bullying Story: Resolving conflict: The difference between friends and frenemies
Jeff later pondered how another couple, close friends of ours for years, Catherine and her husband, would have responded to the e-mail. He concluded that it would have been turned into a joke that I could never live down.
Heck, Catherine is an outrageous flirt who’s always giving guys the wrong impression, and enjoys it. Heck, as my matron of honor, she flirted heavily with the groomsman–holding his hand, sitting in his lap–even though her husband was also there! People say, “That’s Catherine.”
The same as, according to Richard, another heavy flirter, people would say, “That’s just Richard.” When it comes to flirting, Catherine and Richard are the same.
(In every other way they’re different, because Catherine is not a narcissist, and is genuinely sweet, not as an act to pull you in.)
If Tracy had trouble with me, she would’ve hated Catherine, who probably would’ve started flirting with him immediately.
Jealousy doesn’t seem to be in Catherine’s nature at all. When she wanted to share a hotel room with Jeff for an SCA event in Minnesota (her husband was not in the SCA and I didn’t want to go), I didn’t want to allow it.
She thought I was being possessive for that, and for not wanting him to be friends, after we got engaged, with people he’d slept with before. So I can imagine she would find Tracy bizarrely possessive.
So not only did Jeff think she and her husband would have simply made the e-mail into a joke, but he also concluded that the incident wouldn’t have happened in the first place, because–unlike Richard–her husband understands boundaries.
He would have done nothing to me that he knew his wife wouldn’t approve of; if he hugged me the same way Richard did, it would have been in front of his wife.
Because really, there was nothing about that hug that was “inappropriate,” no groping, no kissing, no passionate embraces, just two close friends expressing caring and gratitude. In other words, hands stayed in the “friend zone.”
As he did it, I thought of it as gratitude to his family’s benefactress, not the hug of a lover.
Then Jeff went to an SCA event without me and spoke about my e-mail with Catherine and a few of our other old friends. He asked how they would have handled it.
They all said they would have teased me mercilessly and then let it go, because that’s what friends do.
So here’s the difference between friends and frenemies.
There is a huge difference between wrongdoing and a misunderstanding, and how a person needs to act to make up for such.
A misunderstanding of something you did with good intentions, is not even in the same league as seriously screwing up. If you did wrong, you need to apologize for what you did wrong, and turn away from that behavior.
If you were misunderstood, you need to apologize for giving the wrong impression and unintentionally hurting, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily did anything “wrong” that you must now repent of and turn away from. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to be scolded.
So many times, neither party has actually done anything “wrong” at all, but acted out of different opinions, value sets, codes of behavior, and the like, and should not be forced to change their opinions and values to satisfy someone else.
I believe love should be freely expressed, and I believe these hugs were in no way adulterous or “cheating.” I believe there was nothing wrong in me remembering them fondly or bringing them up to Richard.
Since this was a misunderstanding, since Richard and Tracy read in subtext which did not exist, and since I tried multiple times to make clear to Tracy that it was a misunderstanding–
I will not submit to being treated as if it were deliberate wrongdoing, as if I had seriously screwed up by trying to “get with” her husband, when I had spent the last few years trying my darndest to avoid all improprieties.
Imagine being married to someone who treats everything you do in this way, not just when you’re being a jerk, but when you meant well and have just been misunderstood! And most disagreements with most people are truly misunderstandings.
The success of any relationship–marital, familial, friendship, co-worker–depends on the willingness of both parties to forgive and accept misunderstandings, not force submission and groveling out of someone who did not intend to hurt you and simply has different opinions than you do.
Why should I take on the role of a caught criminal over a misunderstanding?
The manipulator tells you that you are selfish, that you are not caring enough, that you are hurting their feelings…and you find yourself high-centered on a big old boulder. Keeee-runch.
Suddenly you feel horrible about yourself and are scrambling to apologize, make amends, soothe the manipulator’s “hurt” feelings. You feel like a cad, and they walk away with whatever prize they were aiming for.
Pay attention to the interaction. When you suddenly find yourself being sent on the Guilt Trip train to surrender, pull the brakes. Don’t let some lying and under-handed manipulator fight by using you against you.
There is something quite unseemly about a conscienceless creep using your fully operational conscience to further their selfish ends. Don’t be a patsy.
Don’t roll at the first intimation that you are too mean, too selfish, too uncaring. Know the truth about yourself even when someone is lying to you about you. —Guilt-Tripping
(You will note that the above does not refer to someone respectfully bringing concerns to you hoping for resolution, as I would do with Richard, whether about something he did or about how Tracy was treating me. It refers to someone repeatedly dealing low blows at you, as Tracy did.)
Well I was there and I saw what you did,
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been
It’s all been a pack of lies
—Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”
Table of Contents
- Bullying of an introvert and probable NVLDer
- My NVLD in a nutshell
- Richard dismisses my experiences
- Summarizing this story
- Why I put this story on the Web–at great personal risk
- I was Sam in search of a Frodo, Anne in search of a Diana
- I finally find my Frodo–who moves in
- Discovering they live in squalor
- Richard reveals his wife’s abuses
- Houseguests From Hell
- Tracy turns jealous of and hostile toward me because I’m an introvert with NVLD
- Tracy’s narcissistic/BPD rage episode at Richard–and Richard reveals his own abuse
- Tracy’s control-freak behavior–to me, in my house
- Tracy overhears me telling Jeff she’s abusive–and wreaks vengeance
- Verge of nervous breakdown as houseguests from Hell abuse our hospitality
- Richard gives me the fateful hugs good-bye
- Tracy’s smear campaign and emotional blackmail begin full-force
- I almost break off the friendship because of Tracy
- Tracy’s unreasonable jealousy even as I take pains to be above reproach
- Their doublespeak and double standards
- Tracy snarks and Richard nitpicks
- The emotional vampires suck me dry–and accuse me of being too sensitive
- My Friend Richard, the Narcissist
- Richard says he hypnotized me without my knowledge
- More on Richard’s hypnotism–and his narcissistic stare
- Richard’s past in the Mafia–and his plot to kill the apartment manager
- Tracy bullies me and tries to control Richard by weeding out friends she doesn’t like
4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children
- E-mails and phone call describe how Tracy abuses her husband and children
- More details of Tracy’s abuse of her children
- Early 2010: I speak up about Tracy’s child abuse–and ponder reporting her to authorities
- Early warning signs of Tracy’s abuse and volatility
- I get an inkling of Richard’s own abuse of his children
- How to Bully an Introvert–and Assets of NVLD
- Two Narcissists Tag-Team Bully an Introvert with NLD
- Tracy is nasty to me on the phone
- Fed-up, I decide to end the friendship if Tracy does not stop bullying me
- Tracy Mindscrews me with Constantly Changing Rules, “Okays” me then takes it back without telling me, Violates my Privacy by reading my e-mails to Richard
- I must be accepted as I am–introversion, NVLD and all–or you’re out
- Now Richard Screws with my Mind
- Tracy drives away another friend (Todd) with narcissistic rage, manipulation, lies and a smear campaign
- I discover the restrictions are still up after 7 months–and ponder ending the friendship
- Tracy tells Jeff a different story: I have already been “approved” as Richard’s friend
- Richard gaslights me into thinking I’m a stalker
6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends
- Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends
- Disturbing Revelations from Richard about Tracy and our time sharing a house
- Revealing e-mails I drafted to Richard: proving I felt abused and bullied, and witnessed abuse
- We seem to have things sorted out–and they seem to finally take responsibility for causing drama (but there’s more to come later)
- E-mails proving my innocence, that Tracy lied in 2010, that I respected boundaries, and that I asked for a “signal”
- Richard mansplains me, denies that his friends sexually harassed me, and refuses to respect my wishes
7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build
- Without warning or explanation, tensions build as Richard and Tracy both begin acting like lunatics
- I begin to wonder if the Richard I know–is real or a fake persona
- Richard decides I’m no longer worth his time or respect–because of POLITICS–as he gets into the TEA Party
- Richard goes off the deep end and disses us for not buying into his extreme right-wing politics
- Richard grows distant and Tracy’s insane jealousy flares up
- Richard rips into me publicly and I suspect our friendship is all a fake
- I feel increasing coldness from Richard and Tracy as I “unfriend” their Republican candidates and “friend” Obama and Feingold
- Time to scapegoat me into thinking I’m the problem–and I realize my “BFF” is a fraud
- I confront Richard with how he’s been treating me–so he stonewalls me and threatens to beat up my husband
- Resolution: I apologize–and write the fateful e-mail about the fateful hugs
- Part One: Tracy’s narcissistic rage against me–but I am innocent of all her charges
- Part Two: Tracy enjoys verbally abusing me, then tries to silence me–so I tell everyone
- Part Three: Jeff’s WTF moment: Judas (Richard) knows I’m innocent, but psychotically rages at Jeff
- Part Four: Their DARVO lies lead us to break off relations with our abusers
- Why we should tell everyone we have been abused
- E-Mails to Friends About the Incident, written in first two months
- 1. To Mike and my mother
- 2. E-mails describing pain of breaking up with a close friend
- 3. E-mails spilling all the abuse, to my closest friends
- 4. E-mails to Todd describing what happened
- Why we should not be forced to befriend a BFF’s abusive spouse
- Why I refused to “confer” with Tracy–and how Richard betrayed me
- Tracy refused to accept the NVLD and introversion–but they are real
- Resolving conflict: The difference between friends and frenemies
9. The fallout; a second chance?
- I send an apology–and we’re all blocked on Facebook
- Struggling to process what the F**K just happened
- E-mail to Mike: processing my pain
- Pondering forgiveness vs. giving in to the dark vortex
- Shock: Richard and Tracy at my church
- About Richard justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse because I am shy and quiet
- The monster comes back out: Tracy punishes me for long-dead issues
- How Tracy’s e-mails displayed narcissism
- I suggest a six-month break
- I refuse to give in to Tracy’s emotional blackmail
- Tracy blamed others for her abuse
- Tracy tried to force me to submit to her abuse
- Grief over losing my best and closest friend–for no good reason
- Written 2010: Grief over being falsely accused
- Written 2010/2011: Grief over being abused–and the abuser getting away with it
- Written 2010/2011: I see Tracy hanging out of the window of their minivan, like a crazy woman
- Written 2011: Grief that my abusers kept coming to my church but not apologizing to me
- Blog Post for my friends: Fighting the Darkness (Written in February 2011)
- Can we destroy something God put in place?
- An old friend shows me that Richard and Tracy were deceivers, never friends
- The long, dark night of my soul as I doubt God exists–because my spiritual mentor betrayed me
- I start doubting Tracy was ever truly a Christian–so it’s okay to separate myself from her fellowship
- Grief felt on 6/12/11
- 2011 Facebook post: Original form of Losing Your Best Friend?–Or, Narcissistic Webs
11. Struggle to regain normalcy
- Describing Richard’s narcissism
- Realizing how Richard manipulated me into doing things I shouldn’t
- Was Richard’s betrayal driven by Narcissism–or Stockholm Syndrome?
- Tracy: a woman who abuses a man
- Richard’s lack of action made him a passive abuser
- Fear of it all happening again with new friends–but relief as well
- Written early or mid 2011: working through the grief, pain and anger
- How Richard and Tracy’s views on parenting are wrong
- Running into Richard and Tracy at church/the store/Greekfest a year later
12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other
13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary
14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges
- Introduction to this section: Richard’s Criminal Charges
- UPDATE 7/26/11: Richard is charged with abusing his daughter; I report them to CPS
- UPDATE 9/14/11: I learn that Richard choked his daughter
- UPDATE 10/4/11: Richard is convicted of choking his daughter
- UPDATE 10/23/11: After his conviction, Richard comes to my church
Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing