So, M has been in another state working on a project that is being stored at the house of one of his oldest friends. The project started out with enthusiasm on all sides – M was thrilled to be working on it, his friends were happy to have him visit more to work on it, and they had even talked to another friend to get some specialized help. I will go back later and edit these posts to reveal M’s identity at some later date – he is well known among his circle on the internet and if our relationship goes sideways I will publish (with links) so his behavior can no longer be a secret. It might help him, it might help his next victim to avoid him.
He goes to work on this project once a month (April is month 3) and stays with his friends for a week or so. We have reached the withholding stage of our relationship – he refuses to tell me when he is leaving or when he will return because of my refusal to share my feelings with him. Nevermind that my feelings are always negated, minimized and rejected. This is a classic symptom of verbal abuse and he is a textbook abuser, as I am a textbook victim.
This month I took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and logged in to his e-mail account to see if he had told anyone else when he would return, and that is when I discovered that he has been having a Facebook affair with a woman in Italy. More on that another day, but it was the Final Straw that prompted me to take action and regain control of my life.
This month has not been going well. The specialized work has not been going according to plan, seems the friend is dragging his feet. I’m going to quote some e-mails in this post, edited to protect the nature of the project and the identity of all parties. Brackets designate where I’ve changed the text.
Not going so well here. Apparently I am Satan because now I have scared off Friend2 (F2), who won’t come out here to do [Specialized Work] (SW) unless Friend1 (F1) is here.
(F1) is going back to work tomorrow and Friday, so no more SW will happen this trip. F2 came over yesterday and [did one small bit of SW]. Then F1 and I moved [some heavy stuff] today. F1 did not like working with me at all. He says he has no idea about how to move heavy objects, but will not accept instruction and expects to try to figure it out for himself while I wait. I’m at a complete loss. I explain things several times, step by step and no comprehension, very similar to when you and I try to work together, so it must be me. I give up.
Anyway, it seems this project has died. I put down a deposit for storage starting May 20th, but there is no chance it will be ready if the [SW is not done]. I’ve spent about $1000 here, but the [objects in question] are legally F1’s, so I plan to walk away – he can sell it and get his money back.
This project has not been moving forward as fast as M would like, mainly due to weather and other factors that he can’t control and it is making him very cranky. A few days earlier he sent me this note:
This will all sort out in the end. F1 and I had a “chat” today and he claims I’ve been attacking him and so he is mistreating me in defense. I told him he’s been picking on me for a long time and I am the one on defense. He didn’t give, but agreed we need to sort it out and was a complete angel to me the rest of the evening. The two Fs are each hard to motivate which, as you know, pisses me off when someone has offered to do something for you, then makes you pay in blood (drawn with a slow needle).
Anyway, I expected that F1 would take care of [a large accessory for the project], because he likes to shop for this kind of thing. But it appears that the project is completely mine and I haven’t really budgeted time for waiting while these guys to decide when they might help, then jumping to help them when they are ready. The SW is going to be a trial, but in the end I’ll save some money.
Which will be spent on [storage]. The rates here are three times what they are at home.
Interesting! I have heard M make disparaging comments to F1 about his appearance, slovenly habits, lack of concern over things that M thinks are important, his spending habits and internet use. The two of them would sometimes banter about it, but it’s never gotten this heated before. They have been friends for 30 years and I would think they would have ironed out their differences before now, but it appears that their friendship is on the rocks:
Working with F1 is a lot like working with you. I talk in full sentences, giving every detail and repeat myself over and over and over. Still there is no communication and I am to understand that it is entirely my fault. If there is a better way, no one has given me any clues how to make it work. I am left to believe that I am so evil, no one can even stand to tell me what I am doing wrong, let alone any suggestions about how it all might work better. When F2 was here, I didn’t say a word that wasn’t encouraging, but the man can hardly move, let alone work, so his problem is probably not me.
I don’t want to let this [project] go, it’s a perfect [thing] for me. But I can’t afford it and if the work is not completed this summer, it will have to be stored. F1 and Wife have had enough of me, so I have run out of choices, the game is not in my hand unless I force it and that has gotten me less than nothing in my life. I’ll finish painting the [project] so it looks ok for Craig’s List. F1 is an expert at selling stuff. He’s been pretty critical of my paint work, so maybe he can do better.
Wife decided to not go ahead with [house changes], but take care of [a different project] first. I thought they were asking for my input on that, but I think I was mistaken. Hard to tell, everyone plays their cards pretty close. Anyway, all the work we did is recycling material. I had contacted a [specialist] in Seattle who was willing to evaluate the drawings and was embarrassed to have to tell him the project had died.
I’m still attending the [gathering in another town] this weekend. I think those people will be happy to see me, which will be a pleasant change. Then I’m coming home, which will be heaven.
I started an honest reply, speaking from my heart with surprisingly little rage in the background but did not send it for reasons that will become apparent with reading:
Actually, I have given you plenty of clues to make communication easier. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve told you many times that it’s not what you say but how you say it – you are brusque and dismissive of my abilities and intelligence. The second that I stop to think about what you are saying, to try to internalize your instructions, to actually learn what you are trying to teach me, you get irritated. You say things like, “can’t you just do what I said?” If I try to explain that I don’t have a clear understanding of what you’re saying (and you have to admit that at times you use language or terms that I’m not familiar with and in the back of my mind I am convinced that you do it deliberately) and start making frustrated gestures. Then you raise your voice and blame me for making you raise your voice. Then I get emotional – frustrated, angry – and I wonder why I wanted to help you in the first place if I’m only going to get this abuse, to be beaten with words over something that in the long run does not matter at all. When I try to explain to you that your yelling and anger are making my confusion worse, you escalate, so I’ve stopped even trying. On those occasions when I think I might have the words to explain to you what the problem is, you interrupt me, change the subject, deny what you just said, tell me that I’m crazy or stupid or have a serious memory problem. This is called gaslighting and is a tactic employed by people who verbally abuse others to enable the abuser to control them.
If you want to keep the project going, you need to apologize to F1, F2 and Wife for being a dick. I can see how it all went down. You want to be in complete control, you have your own ideas which have no room for discussion and which may not even match their original idea. You probably told them that you know best and what they want to do is not possible and/or practical. You dismissed their ideas/needs/input and that would put a normal person’s nose firmly out of joint. You do it to me all the time, but I’m surprised that it has overflowed onto someone else. You’ve had a bad attitude about their house change plans from the start. I don’t know why you took on that project. If it was to make F1 and Wife feel that they “owe” you, then I think you missed the mark and made both yourself and me (and now them) miserable in the process.
The reason that people “play their cards pretty close” is for fear of inciting your wrath or sarcasm or anger. You have a sharp tongue and you use it to hurt at every opportunity and then play the role of the victim if someone stands up to you. Forcing a game is what you do and it has worked out pretty well for you, if you ask me. You feel entitled and it shows. You have said that you demand respect from people for your abilities and knowledge, but then you dismiss their abilities and knowledge in some way, and that puts people off. You start out as Prince Charming, but then you turn into something quite different once you have some “power” to hurt the one you profess to love. You once described your father as the person you most hated in this world and the reasons you gave were the same ones now being used against you.
I doubt I will ever send this. Certainly not today when I know you are dealing with a big steaming pile of crap (of your own making, I have no doubt) and looking forward to a peaceful day among people who like and esteem you. When you have a good day, I have a good evening, and I’ve come to cherish a few hours of peace. I know that it won’t be long after you get here that you will start up with your insulting, hurtful behavior, and I am reluctant to give you a 6 hour drive to work on your strategy. I just felt that I had to get it out of my system, even if no one will ever read this.
Instead, I replied to ask when he will be home and this is the end of his note:
In a way, abandoning this project takes a lot of pressure off, but it is also very disappointing. Your man has had very little success in the last 12 months and no victories. Feels like a lot of very hard effort has been pissing into the wind.I am so glad I have you. The one bright star in a dark sky.
There’s the set-up, preparing me to be welcoming for his arrival. Wanting me to feel bad that he’s had such a hard time this week and nothing will soothe him more than my presence. It’s a load of horseshit, and I know it. The problem is how to handle it.