Richard said he wanted a friend like Sam was to Frodo on Lord of the Rings, so I told him I would be. Finally I had a close friend in my own city whom I could see often, talk to often, someone who could get my normally quiet self to talk for hours, someone to understand me.
We had deep discussions, not about the weather but about music, religion, life experiences, movies, subcultures such as Goth (which he’d been heavily into while I had been interested in it), cultural attitudes, all sorts of things.
Because of my shyness, introversion and NVLD, and moving far from friends or family, it has been hard for me to make lasting friends in this city. I used to make geek friends through local BBS‘s, but the Internet rose and the BBS’s died. I changed jobs and churches; friends had squabbles and I became collateral damage.
I had always wanted a friend like Frodo/Sam or Anne/Diana or Bill/Ted, that one bosom friend who is closer to you than any other platonic friend, who wants to be with you all the time, but who is NOT your spouse or in any way a sexual partner. Finally, I found that Friend.
But then his wife got jealous of me and within a few years, it all fell apart. I thought Richard cared enough to have my back, since he said I was very dear to him, and showed in various ways that he loved me like a sister.
But in many things, he didn’t seem to want to understand me. He let his wife tease me for being different and bully me for being quiet. He refused to listen when both Jeff and I tried to explain my shy, quiet, introverted personality, that he was too hard on me.
In the moment of testing, he let me down. Majorly. He became my Judas.
So here I am alone again, wondering if I’ll ever have a friend like (I thought) he was again, someone who doesn’t live two or three hours away. It may have to be a socially inept or shy person, like I usually befriend, rather than an outgoing extrovert like Richard, the type who thinks that everyone can be just like him.
I hope it’ll be a woman, so I don’t have to deal with a jealous wife again, but finding a woman who’s into the same music I like, is into Orthodox theology and has grown up in the Fundamentalist/ Evangelical subculture–that could be hard.
No, I don’t want to hear about the evils of opposite-sex friendships, because it’s a bunch of BS. We’re liberated Gen-Xers; trust is a virtue. I treat the topic in greater detail here, along with flirting, displays of affection between friends, and jealousy.
My husband was perfectly fine with our friendship, was glad whenever I got a chance to chat with Richard for more than a few minutes, and Richard had all sorts of female friends, with whom he innocently flirted (guys, too).
People put far too many rules on their friendships and on each other, when they should just let things be.
Tracy was abusive verbally and physically to Richard and their children. I spoke up about it to him and shied away from her aggressive personality.
Instead of realizing she’s far too abusive and aggressive and needs to change herself, she tried to force me to accept her behavior as okay and twist mine into something it wasn’t.
She insisted on approving his friends, that she had veto rights; I know this because they both told me so. She said so in a forum post, calling it “respect” to give up friends your spouse does not want you to have.
While he told me at various times about the rules his friends had to live up to, that she had to meet them, approve them, be friends with them too. He said even his male friends were under this initial scrutiny, subject to her approval.
While he only wanted to meet her male friends before they went off to some political conference together. (He just wanted to know what they looked like so he could beat them up if they tried anything.)
He had to live by far stricter rules than she did, you see.
(12/19/13: Tracy also felt entitled to read Richard’s e-mails and chats, and got mad at him once when she found someone she hated in his cell phone records. Just tonight on Facebook, an old school friend asked,
If you are in a relationship does that mean that you have no privacy? Does that mean that your significant other is entitled to go through your phone, check your text messages and Facebook messages?
The response: a resounding NO! The various responders said you must have trust and privacy, and if your SO does not respect that, you’ve got major problems ahead.
One said if he doesn’t stop this in its tracks, it’s going to get worse; one said “STALKER”; one said he’s going to have female and she’s going to have male friends, so you have to trust each other; another said, Get out, run fast!)
As soon as I learned this, red flags sprang up because of my abusive ex Phil, and all the research on abuse I did while writing about him in 2006. As I explained above, Phil also tried to separate me from my best and dearest friends.
So I already knew about jealousy and control as forms of abuse. I did even more research because of Tracy, and began posting links and comments on jealousy and abuse on this page and this page. (They did not know about these pages.)
During this time, I also read a forum thread in which a woman described her abusive marriage. She said, “He had to approve my friends.”
Instead of becoming the kind of person Richard’s friends would like, Tracy treated them like creeps if they didn’t like her, thereby driving them away as one after another of Richard’s friends ended the friendship, or she forced him to end friendships, showing a huge lack of trust in him and his judgment. There was Todd; there were at least two more whom I know of.
Projection and projective identification play a part in her controlling behaviors. She maps her feelings onto you and controls you by inducing these feelings within you.
Her controlling facade masks her true internal experience. Deep down she feels frightened, out of control, incompetent and helpless.
Les Parrot (The Control Freak) writes, “People who want to exert control over everything can make those around them feel inadequate, insecure, nervous, angry, anxious and physically sick. Their message is: I don’t trust you to be able to do it right; I don’t respect your judgment; I don’t think you are competent; I don’t value your insight.”
Whether or not this woman is aware of it, this is how she feels about herself. Once you recognize the defense mechanisms at play, it becomes a little easier to take her hurtful behaviors less personally. She’d be like this with anyone.
My awkwardness in social situations can lessen around kind people, even if I don’t talk much. But it becomes far worse in the presence of a hostile person, which Tracy is not just to me but to many people.
Instead of doing her best to draw me out and be kind, Tracy just kept punishing me and sending hostile waves at me for being unable to open up to her, which pushed me further into my shell–yet she and Richard both blamed me for it.
This all made my husband furious, especially when Richard finally allowed Tracy to vent her fury on me in such horrible language and words (such as “f— off,” which nobody has ever said to me before) that made me wonder how any Christian woman could justify this treatment of any other person.
Jeff and I told others what she said; they were flabbergasted that anybody would cuss me out like that. Jeff and I finally threw up our hands and tossed her out of our lives for good.
Unfortunately, this meant Richard was tossed out as well, even though–at long last for me, who had been starved of good local friends for years–Richard had been my dearest and closest friend for 5 years.
He had been my spiritual mentor, the one who led me into the Truth I’d been searching for, the one who helped me decide on Orthodoxy and thirst for the Eucharist. He helped me find love for God and my faith once again. He helped open up the Scriptures for me, by leading me in the right direction.
But then he turned on me and betrayed me, threw me under the bus, letting Tracy tear me apart instead of giving her the key piece of information which would have proven to her my innocence.
Then, a month later, he said that not saying two sentences together to Tracy for a month and a half (WHAT month? and I don’t count my sentences! what, ANOTHER rule nobody told me about?) was somehow worse than being verbally abused???
Being wary of someone who’s been bullying you for two years and has recently upped the intensity, is worse than being verbally abused????
And this to a person they already knew to be extremely quiet in most social situations? What kind of people are these two, anyway?
This makes me struggle to keep in the same faith as him and Tracy, and even causes me to doubt the very existence of God (who seemed to place him into my life just as I prayed for a friend, and to cause our families to be there for and bless each other).
After their abuses of me, I also struggle to make social connections with anyone else who isn’t already in my circle of friends (friends I mostly keep in touch with via the Internet). I’m afraid of what’ll happen if I open up to anyone else the way I opened up to Richard, that they’ll hurt me like he did.
The problem first started with Tracy misunderstanding me, and me not having a clue about it until she was already digging in her heels and treating me badly and I had no idea why.
I noted over the years that she responds to problems by snarking at and being mean to the supposed offender, which she never so much as apologizes for. This offends the offender and leads to nothing but arguments and bad feeling.
I complained to Richard about it and then, finally, started hearing what she was so upset about. But trying to clear up the misunderstanding did no good at all because she was apparently determined to think badly of me.
Nobody informed me of a test I had to pass for Tracy to let me be friends with Richard, or what I was expected to do or know, until long after I already failed. And after that, it seemed that no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough to make up for it.
In fact, it reminds me of Hell Week during my short-lived stint pledging a sorority: having no idea how I’ve offended the actives or what rule I’ve broken until I see a roster that’s already in the hundreds below zero. And each day, more points are taken away, finding my points down in the negative thousands with no idea what rules I broke and no hope of getting back up.
I could concede that some of her rules seemed reasonable enough in normal circumstances–but we were not in normal circumstances, we were sharing a house.
When you live together for weeks on end, when you must keep in the good graces of the host and hostess who are doing you a huge favor that few people would do, getting in a snit fit about things that go against your usual rules, makes no sense.
And it makes no sense to say you don’t “know” somebody when you live in the same crowded house for six weeks, and spend nearly every night socializing with that person for hours.
When we shared a house, both our families for six weeks, it was a disaster. It was never part of the deal.
We lived in a tiny house, about 1100 square feet. The spare room (a library, not a bedroom) was filled with the changing table and baby supplies, so already Richard slept on the couch.
It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, helping out a friend until he found a job and a place to move into with his family, NOT an indefinite address for the entire family.