Trudging Through Five and a Half Years of Hell…..Do I See Light Up Ahead? (Surviving Depression After Abuse)

I thought I had found a religious and spiritual mentor in my search for the True Church, and a best friend here in my own town instead of far away, one who would always be there for me throughout life.  But I believe this is what really happened:

I fell prey to a con man who eventually decided my husband and I were of no further use to him and his wife.  He used to be a Mafia thug, and was easily provoked to violence.  He hypnotized me without my knowledge.

They wanted to get political connections, but we were too “liberal” and not politically driven; he kept getting money and stuff from us, but the economy tanked and we had money trouble; I was his confidante of his wife’s abuses of him and the children, so she, who has a family history of personality disorders, smeared me to him to drive a wedge between us; and I spoke up against the way they both had been treating their kids.

So instead of addressing the real issues, they made me a scapegoat, made up offenses and kept me always jumping over hoops.  Then because we no longer had much money to give them, I started doubting Richard’s wild stories, and I had let them know they abused their kids, they started treating my husband and I both very badly.

They found an imaginary complaint to skewer me over, so we would break off the friendship in disgust, but they would still be able to claim that it was my fault and not theirs.

Richard threatened my husband with physical violence and intimidated him.  Then in 2010, I was proven correct about the abuse, when Richard choked his oldest daughter until she passed out.  He plea bargained and served a year of probation.

I have often wondered why it has taken three years to get through this depression after abuse, despite functioning normally by carrying on with life, traveling, making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, taking care of my child and house like normal, helping out with my church.

It took many months for the occasional tears to stop, but they did stop eventually; however, I still feel sad often.  I have been depressed in the past, but it would pass within a year or two.

Then I remembered: This depression has not lasted for three years.  It has lasted for five and a half years, six years this December, and I know when and why it began:

My Hell began in the middle of December 2007, a few weeks after Tracy arrived in my house, when her fangs began to show and I saw that Richard’s claims of verbal abuse of him and the kids were true, along with the occasional smacks on his arm and a disturbing possessive and vindictive streak.

What seemed like a special friendship with Richard, a very dear friendship, began to deteriorate as he stuck up for not only his wife’s various snarks and other nasty behavior toward me, but her abuses toward him and the children, contradicting what he had told me before.

I felt alone, abandoned by the person I thought cared and had my back, like all my other closest friends through life had my back.

With my other friends, even though we disagreed on occasion, I could count on them sticking up for me whenever somebody dissed me.  But Richard joined in, not only allowing the dissing, but constantly criticizing me as well.  Nothing I did or said was right.

The depression began then.  I remember breaking down in tears more than once while they lived in my house.  I cried often during our friendship.

I spent a weekend in tears and sobs shortly after they moved out, because the way they were screwing me over made me think I had to break off my friendship with Richard.  My husband tried to ease my mind by making the decision for me, and saying I would not break it off.  (No, he’s not controlling; he was trying to help.)

I don’t want to go into detail because it’s all in my blog, and especially in the long version of the story.

But that weekend was repeated other times as well, as well as a time when I could barely get through walking my son to/from school without breaking into embarrassingly public tears on the sidewalk.

In between those times were constant tears, sadness, or resentment of Tracy’s lack of apologies for her nastiness.

This proves that the toxicity began in December 2007, dooming the friendship from the beginning of Tracy’s time in my city, because I was targeted by two very selfish, self-centered, abusive people, manipulators and users.  I thought Richard was a good person, but he, too, was toxic.

After my husband and I could not take the abuse anymore and broke things off, I had to tell my friends everything, so I could drain out the poison Richard and Tracy had filled me with over two and a half toxic years.  Also, for five years I had told Richard about things that upset me, but I no longer had him to talk to.

I vented on Facebook.  I told Todd everything.  I told high school friends.  I told college friends.  I told a few new church friends.  I told people on my favorite forums, begging for answers on how to keep in Orthodoxy, and how God could allow this.  I told my family.  I told my priest, starting back in December 2007.

I read and posted on blogs about narcissists and abusers, which showed me that my feelings and difficulties in healing, are all perfectly normal, that it often takes years to heal, that seeing the abuser again is traumatic.

I leaned on my husband, who recovered much more quickly because he was not the main target of abuse, but who became enraged at Richard and Tracy for putting me through this.

What our friends kept telling my husband and me: These people are toxic, manipulators, moochers, abusers, narcissists, a**holes; people on a couple of Orthodox forums used the word “evil” to describe Richard’s actions (choking his child).

But two and a half years of abuse, including both covert and overt verbal and emotional abuse, especially without physical abuse you can point to as proof, essentially gaslights you.

You wonder about your sanity, if you saw things correctly, especially when the abusers will tell you one thing then contradict it later on, and when only a few of their friends see the real them.

Every day I pray for Richard and Tracy’s children, that they be kept safe from abuse from their parents, because I worry about them and fear that the system has failed them by sending Richard back home with them instead of putting him in jail.

Richard’s lawyer ran for city council and won, but not with my help: I refused to vote for her, because I wondered about her character, getting such a sweet deal for him.

I have no way of knowing if CPS forced Tracy into counseling for abusing the kids as well.  I have no way of knowing if CPS finally convinced her that what she was doing to them was evil and would scar them for life, would cause them to want nothing to do with her when they grow up, just as she hates her own mother for treating her the same way.

If she doesn’t shape up, and if Richard doesn’t stop his own physical violence and narcissism, then their kids are going to grow up and write blogs of their own about Richard and Tracy.

I am an intensely analytical person.  I must know the hows, whys, whats.  Being targeted by narcissistic abusers is extremely hard to figure out, especially when you don’t understand why a person can act that way, how they can live with treating someone that way.

I am certain I have been depressed for five and a half years, starting in December 2007.  I am also fairly sure that I have had a form of PTSD, or a similar stress disorder, for the past several years, caused by the abuse and gaslighting of Richard and Tracy.

It was starting to heal, until they found my blog and began gaslighting me anew, adding threats as well, so I plunged back into the pit–in a year with several new emotionally traumatic experiences to add to the stress disorder.

Unfortunately, as a middle-class housewife and mother of a young child in the middle of the recession, with no health insurance provided by the husband’s job and no money to pay for it, and with heavy debt–professional diagnoses and trained counseling have been an impossible dream, at least during the worst of the depression and stress disorder.

All our money had to go toward physical necessities.  (This also explains why my 13 years of research into NVLD and Asperger’s has to suffice for now, because getting an actual diagnosis for NVLD is beyond our means.)

You can’t expect a pastor to know how to treat stress disorders.  My family and most of my friends live far away.  I have had to do this the hard way: by myself.  I’m sure that’s one reason why it’s taken so long to get through this.

Also, when you’re being abused, you don’t want to go to therapy to help you feel better about being abused.  First, you want the abuse to STOP, and justice of some kind to be done; then you can work on feeling better about being abused.

My abusers still justify their actions and haven’t stopped spying on me.  Rather than somebody telling me how to feel better about it, I want somebody to tell them to STOP, and to tell them their actions are wrong and sinful.  Not just me, but someone they’ll listen to.

That’s why, if they were to start going to my church full-time, I would be forced to request mediation from my priest or someone else in the church.  Because no one can expect you to be in the same church with your abuser/stalker for years on end without it causing all sorts of stress and anxiety disorders.

Not to mention, sharing the Eucharist with that person, contaminates the Eucharist.  There are Bible passages on how seriously we are to treat taking the Eucharist, lest we bring condemnation on ourselves.

Or is it depression now so much as it is anger, disappointment, and sadness?  Disappointment that as a shy introvert with NVLD/Asperger tendencies, I thought I had finally found a friend, one who lived here in my town, someone to talk to about everything and hang out with, only to find that friend was narcissistic, abusive and probably conning me the whole time?

I recall spending the entire 90s pondering and writing about the abuses of Peter, Shawn and Phil, analyzing everything, writing my college memoirs.  Then in the 2000s I would post about Phil on forums whenever the topic of abuse came up.

Maybe I’m at that stage now, moving out of wanting reconciliation, but figuring out what happened, labeling it, analyzing it, just as I did with my college abuse experiences, long after the trauma had passed.  Putting it into fiction or poems, posting memoirs, but seeing it as part of the past instead of the present.

Or, rather, it would be the past if my abusers would do as my past abusers did: make peace with me instead of stalking me, especially if their church closes.  [Update: Their church did close, but they did NOT start coming to mine after all.]

People disparage blogging, but sometimes that’s all you’ve got to really dig into what happened.  Not everybody can just go to a therapist, and even then, a therapist only gets an hour with you at a time.

(I also had a disappointing experience with counseling in college: I only had 6 sessions free, an hour each, and while I wanted to work on getting over Shawn‘s sexual and psychological manipulations and breaking free of him and Peter, the counselor kept talking about my shyness and how to fix that.  I didn’t go there to fix my shyness!)

People also don’t always realize that the Internet is the only way some of us have to communicate about these things, especially transplants into small cities where everyone has known each other since high school, and doesn’t think of inviting you out for coffee because they already have their circle of besties from Kindergarten.

Where, when you finally found someone to be your own bestie and go out for coffee with you, you were treated like a f—ing whore by that person’s spouse for wanting to go out for coffee, so even that concept brings back bad memories.

It’s the reality of modern life in a disconnected age where even neighbors don’t know each other: It takes time and breaking through cliques to get to the point of sharing such intimate details of your life with people.

So many of us have to use Facebook and e-mail to communicate with old friends, rather than just going out for coffee with a new friend to tell them everything you’re going through.

And even those friends don’t want to hear about it after a while, so if you don’t have a therapist, you have to get your emotions out somehow.  And sometimes even therapists recommend blogging; I occasionally visit an ACON (adult child of narcissists) blog which was started because the blogger’s therapist recommended it.

It’s also worth it when you see comments such as this one just posted on Paula’s Pontifications:

To Paula, Anonymous, and others who have described what it’s like to be subject to emotional abuse:

You are putting words to experiences that are most difficult to explain and it is immensely helpful to all of us trying to grapple what we’ve been through and why we weren’t able to understand what was happening at the time; how our vision was shrouded and our judgment systematically deluded by sociopathic influences.

Recognizing that the reactions of others have parallels to our own alleviates feelings of guilt or shame, and also, sharing your experiences helps us realize that we are not alone or impossible to understand and believe.

Thank you all for your efforts! You are making a big difference in the world.

Blogging is an outlet.  The names are changed because it’s not about revenge.  It is exposure, but if the subjects don’t out themselves, no one knows who they are.  (My close friends and some others know who the subjects are and what they’ve done, but they have not read the blogs.)

No, it is an outlet, a way to pour out all those feelings which bottle up inside, without annoying your loved ones.  A reader can read as much or as little as he/she likes, but be helped by whatever he/she reads.

For me, as a writer, blogging is also working through various ways of saying things until I find a gem: a book, a blog post with a thousand hits, a poem.  My blog is a writing journal, where the best way to figure out how to express a thought, is to keep writing it different ways until you find the best one, the best metaphor, the best wording.

I often repeat myself in my blogs as I think of a better or different way of expressing something, an insight I did not have previously, or just something that springs to mind that was not there when I wrote about this a year ago.

I see this in my old diaries as well, where I wrote endlessly about my experiences with Peter, Shawn and Phil until I finally got them out of my system, then later–when writing my memoirs–found these records valuable.  I would come across a passage or poem written 20 years before, and think, Dang, that’s beautiful.

I will write a post which gets a little attention, but not much.  Several months later I’ll write another one on a similar topic, which will get all sorts of hits.  It’s trial-and-error, see what works, what doesn’t, so that if I decide to turn all of this into a published book, I’ll know what to use.

Also, this record will be invaluable one day if I turn the emotions from this experience into fiction.  When writing stories for The Lighthouse, which drew on my college relationships for inspiration, I tried to, for example, write Jenny’s love letter to Scott, but could not write it authentically.

So I pulled out letters I wrote to Peter, and adapted them to my needs.  The result was an authentic-sounding love/grief letter.

If I wish to turn the Richard/Tracy experience into fiction as well, then these blog posts will help me write true emotions which readers can feel and identify with.

We blog because narcissists and abusers get their tentacles down deep into your psyche, so deep that it takes an enormous amount of work to pull them back out again–without damaging the rest of yourself in the process.

It takes an enormous amount of work to peel away the layers of two and half years of abuse and gaslighting, to figure out what criticisms may have been genuine, and which may have been the products of a (Tracy’s) deranged and/or personality disordered and/or bipolar mind (made that way by abuse, then spreading that abuse to everyone nearby).

It takes an enormous amount of work to get through the sadness of losing your closest friend due to betrayal, when everything around you reminds you of this person, so you have to give up beloved music/movies/activities which remind you of this person.

It takes an enormous amount of work for your heart to catch up with your head, for you to reconcile what you thought was a pious man, with the reality of his threatening your husband with physical violence and his almost murdering his little girl; and to do this while being endlessly stalked and threatened by this person because you dared to speak the truth and say it loud.

It takes an enormous amount of work to survive when every day you fight just to keep from stepping in front of a bus, and you fight this solely because your child needs a mother.  (It took me many months, possibly a year, to get past this stage.)

But I see the end coming.  I see the light up ahead.  I see the strength returning.  I’m beginning to stand and walk instead of crawling toward it.

I think it helps to write about it and to have confronted my abusers in this way, to have a church family, to realize my true friends are still there for me and love me, to have reconnected with a few old friends, to have made two new friends, to go from a daily walking/exercise bike routine to strength training at the gym, to buy a bike which widens my range of travel without a car.

It is coming.  I just have to keep going forward.

Maybe my faith will return as well.  Maybe that light is God’s beacon to me, leaving His light in the window so I don’t miss my destination as I fight through the darkness.

(As I titled another post which has long since been taken down, but was written in fall 2011, “The Light is Shining Through.”  I was going to revise it, but forgot about it.  But if you click on that link, you will see the revision I finally made in August 2013.)

Some time ago I answered a comment in which the commenter noted that the feelings surrounding the narcissistic injury still hurt after a considerable period of time.

That has had me thinking about why these injuries hurt us so deeply.  There are many kinds of hurt in our lives and people do mean things almost regularly.  Why do these seem to last longer than others?…

So, you see, there are several reasons why the pain continues.  Like a sore that never quite heals, narcissistic injury can last a long time.

But how do you move on then? …

You can move on with your life, even though the memory of the offense still brings pain. —For the answers to these questions, read Why Does It Still Hurt? by David Orrison.

Unfortunately, this is how many of us learned how to get through the tough times. We have learned to use denial as a coping mechanism. What we fail to realize is that the very method we thought was helping us is really killing us inside…..

When something hurts in life, we typically avoid it. We rarely think of it as something we are meant to learn from. In fact, we immediately try to find a way to get rid of the painful feeling. We run away thinking we can avoid our reality, but what we don’t realize is:

NOTHING EVER GOES AWAY UNTIL IT HAS TAUGHT US WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW.

We can lie to ourselves or run all we want, but the lesson will keep returning in different forms and manifestations until we learn what it is trying to teach us about our reality.

The very first noble truth the Buddha points out is that pain is inevitable in human beings. It is part of the human condition. We cannot avoid it.

We must accept pain and open our hearts to look at what we can gain by facing it. Only then can we discover that the very thing that terrifies us is in fact a way for us to reconnect with our true self and experience a rebirth.

Facing reality shows you who you are and what is true. Confronting our pain and fear tells us something about ourselves. We must get to know fear, become familiar and intimate with it.

It teaches us something. When we stop running and don’t act out, repress or blame, we encounter our true self. –Lisa E. Scott, Experiencing Your Rebirth After a Narcissist

 

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