Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Living with Crazy” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Living with Crazy” (aka Painted_lady) whose emergency “Your Turn” column on Friday left a lot of us worried about her safety when she wrote about how crazy the guy her roommate’s dating is. After the jump, find out what transpired over the weekend.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting my letter up. Everyone’s comments were wonderfully reassuring and supportive. Because people seemed genuinely concerned about my safety, I thought I’d offer an update from the weekend

Fortunately, Crazypants was out of town this weekend, so my roommate Jane and I had some time to chill one-on-one. Carol – the friend of Jane’s I had called in concern – and I talked Friday night, and Jane had already told her about the divorced-not-widowed bit. She flipped out on Jane even worse than I did. She had some of the story I didn’t have, and I had parts she didn’t have, plus I’m the only one who’s met him. We both agreed that at this point if both of us started in on her, she would just feel attacked and dig in her heels. As I’m the one who’s met him and I’m directly affected by him in my house, we decided I should be the one to address it and to do so directly. Good part is, Jane isn’t pulling away from either of us (she spent the bulk of the weekend hanging out with one or both of us), so if this weirdo is trying to isolate her, it isn’t working yet.

I called my mom and my boyfriend yesterday and told them both I’m worried this situation may turn ugly, and they both took me very seriously. My parents actually have a small weekend place that my mom gave me the green light to stay at as long as I need, and she’s offered to keep my dog (their house is two hours from work, but the weekend place, which is closer, doesn’t allow dogs). My boyfriend and I were planning on moving in together at Christmas, but he said he can have the money together to put down a deposit on our apartment by the end of the month, and I found an apartment today that’s currently vacant. The landlord said I can move in as soon as next week if I really need it. As an extra added bonus, the place is amazing, and I can’t wait to live there.

And then there’s Jane. Last night, the subject of the guy came up sort of organically, and I set out all my concerns, which were clarified even more by everyone on here – thanks to EVERYONE, but huge huge HUGE thanks to AKChic for really breaking down some of the standard MOs of abusers. We were just chilling over drinks, so it was a really low-stakes setting and it couldn’t have been any more perfect for me to make sure she knew she wasn’t being attacked. She really did seem to listen and told me I had some really good points for her to think really hard about. She also told me as of about a week ago she’s been treading extremely carefully with how she looks at the relationship, and she said she could respect that I wasn’t comfortable with him in the house. I told her that if he escalated his behavior toward me any at all, I would be moving out immediately, and she said she completely understood. As of today, the couple of times she’s referred to him she’s used “if” statements, as in “if he’s around at Christmas,” which is a great sign.

So, it’s not perfect, but the immediate threat of this guy in my house is removed for the time being. I’ve got places to go at a moment’s notice should I need them, I have a permanent plan to leave for the very near future, and Jane is respecting my right to feel safe in my own home and seems to be coming to terms with who this guy really is.

The DW community’s concern for my safety was actually incredibly moving – I am so thankful I had this place to turn to. What Wendy and the rest of us have created here is something I am so happy to be a part of!

I’m so glad you’re safe and are moving out very soon. Hope Jane comes to her full senses sooner rather than later! Keep us posted.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

23 comments… add one
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    bittergaymark November 14, 2011, 11:43 am

    Well, happy to hear that all seems well. That said, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that this guy will STILL be around at Christmas. Frankly, I don’t think you guys made that much progress with your friend who still seems as clueless to me as ever. (Sorry, I just can’t get the totally bogus dead wife story out of my head — although Kudos to the Psycho for bringing to life one of my favorite scenes from the movie FARGO.) Again though, it amazes me how desperate some women are just to have a man.

    At any rate, I am VERY glad you already had plans to move out…

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      bittergaymark November 14, 2011, 12:56 pm

      Edit: The lack of progress isn’t a slam against you or your efforts with your friend. She just sounds a bit beyond help at this point in my opinion. Really… I don’t know what else you could do at this point to make things more clear to her.

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      • Painted_lady November 14, 2011, 1:06 pm

        Okay, thanks for the clarification. I was trying to figure out if I should be offended or not 😉

        Obviously I can’t control whether this guy hangs around, but my experience with previous abusive relationships I’ve seen friends live through taught me that if you speak up as a concerned friend, you generally get cut off, or at the very least an onslaught of defensiveness, which Jane didn’t do. Even so, it may just be wishful thinking on my part that she’s actually taking me seriously. Fortunately I only have to watch her running toward that cliff for five more weeks, worst-case scenario.

  • callmehobo November 14, 2011, 11:44 am

    I am SO glad that the situation is under control PL. I was literally worried about you all weekend. Us readers have to stick together!

    As an extra precaution, though, I wouldn’t let Jane be privy to the details of your new address. Just in case she does leave Mr. Crazy, and he thinks that YOU’RE responsible. Please, please, continue to be safe!!

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  • Taylor November 14, 2011, 11:56 am

    Sooooo…are you worried about Jane’s safety? Or perhaps more importantly, is Jane concerned with Jane’s safety? Does she have an awareness that it could range from unpleasant to downright dangerous if/when (I hope when) she breaks up with him?

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    • Painted_lady November 14, 2011, 12:59 pm

      I wrote a whole letter about how worried I am about her, actually. I don’t know for sure if she’s actually worried – if I could climb inside her head and walk around, I’d know for sure. All I know is she *seems* to be coming around, but of course I can’t be 100% sure. All the concerns I wrote about in the first letter – he seems to be really volatile and confrontational and aggressive toward me specifically – were the ones I told her. If you know how to force someone to take your concerns seriously, let me know, because otherwise all I can do is tell her and hope for the best, which sort of sucks.

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      • AKchic November 14, 2011, 1:23 pm

        Unfortunately, unless he does take it to super-extremes with YOU, there is nothing you can do to keep him from the both of you.
        If he actually did physically assault you, or started yelling at you to the point that it would be considered 4 degree assault (in AK, that is verbal assault with the victim feeling as if it could get physical), and you called the police – THEN you could get a restraining order and bar him from the premises (and by extension – your roommate) for the terms of the restraining order.
        I do NOT recommend you bait him into something like that. You never know if this kind of guy carries a knife on him, and believe me, knife wounds are painful and hard to heal if the knife is a serrated edge. If he hits anything vital, you can be dead in 30 seconds flat. A stomach wound – 15 minutes, and it is agony if untreated. Don’t ask how I know these things. I wish I didn’t know them.

        In any case – let’s HOPE that your roommate has listened and takes your concerns to heart. You’ll know soon enough if she does. If she doesn’t, expect her to be more secretive, and more absent from the home. If HE comes around, she will be glued to him the entire time to ensure that you two aren’t left alone. She will see the issue as a clash between the two of you. Yes, his fault, but she can’t get rid of him yet, so it’s best to avoid leaving you two alone. It will be more stressful for her.

  • AKchic November 14, 2011, 12:09 pm

    You’re welcome 🙂

    I’m glad that she’s at least listening. The problem is this: Abusers are charismatic when they are AROUND. Victims learn to say what you want to hear, so she may easily have been paying “lip service” to you as easily as she may have really been hearing you.

    You’ll know she has tried distancing herself if a few scenarios happen.
    A) A sudden hospital trip for him. Many abusers fake an emergency. A car accident, a really bad fall down the stairs, a slip on the street in the winter time to necessitate a trip to the ER to make sure there’s no head injury (or internal bleeding), a flu-bug that needs IV fluids (due to dehydration usually).
    B) A death in the family and he needs consoling.
    C) Friends calling saying that he’s suicidal or him saying he’s suicidal.

    I’ve had all three happen. The ex got “hurt” on the job. Funny thing was, he wasn’t even working at the time.
    His second son died in a fishing accident (the boy is now a freshman in high school – the mother and I are friends), he needed a ride to the funeral, then he got a call saying he wasn’t allowed at the private funeral.
    Multiple 18-20 year olds that he was buying alcohol for calling me, emailing me, IM’ing me, telling me that he was suicidal and that I needed to take him back or his death was my fault. Luckily, all of the individuals bugging me were soldiers, so I contacted all of their commanding officers and told them that they were helping my ex violate his restraining order and probation. They stopped calling and were restricted to base for 6 months for underage drinking.

    Good thing you have alternatives.

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    • Painted_lady November 14, 2011, 1:52 pm

      Yeah, the whole pity ploy was a huge part of my conversation with Jane this weekend. She kept saying she couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t mad at him for lying to her about his ex-wife still being alive, and my gut reaction was that it had something to do with how he had laid it all out for her. Your point about a caring person having difficulty being angry with or even questioning someone who’s been through so much really clarified why it felt all wrong to me. Dead wife+trouble with life insurance+lost job+eviction+second job prospect falling through has basically been all he’s talked about in the month he’s been hanging around our house, and she’s a natural caretaker. So even with the dead wife and life insurance out of the equation, he’s still a total mess and she doesn’t want to kick him when he’s down. I told her to fully anticipate another catastrophe this week or next…hopefully I’m right.

      My boyfriend was in a massively abusive relationship in college, and he told me it’s like living in two realities, and eventually you have to decide which one to live with, and very often it’s the reality the abuser sets out because that person is playing on all your insecurities about yourself and other people, ie, “If you leave me, you’ll be running away from anything worthwhile just like you always have,” or “Your friends aren’t really all that concerned about you. Do you think they’d put up with this crap?” so you stay because you want to prove you aren’t that person. The rest of the world doesn’t put conditions like that on anyone, so in a really fucked up way, you feel like that person is more right because they make you feel like what you’ve always secretly feared was wrong with you is true.

      What an awful way to live.

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      • GatorGirl November 14, 2011, 2:27 pm

        Painted-Lady, you’re second paragraph couldn’t be more right (at least in my experiance). I was in a very mentally and emotionally abusive realtionship for almost 3 years and he did that to me everyday. No matter what it was, I was the one who was wrong or going against the norm or just plain old crazy and he was the only one who would put up with me or understood me or believed me. It was all a giant crock-o-poo but I was so wrapped up in it I beleived him. Even when thing turned physically abusive, I still beleived he was “right”. It took a really good friend to help me realize what was going on and pull me out of it.

        And as AKchic said, he will come up with some grand reason why he needs your roommate back in his life NOW. I would suggest you tell your friend if he reaches out to her, she can call you any time to discuss before she does anything. That helped me a lot.

      • AKchic November 14, 2011, 3:05 pm

        Your boyfriend’s assessment of what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship is accurate. There is reality, and then there is the “reality” that is created for you. The “reality” your abuser wants you to think is true.
        A Druidic idiom is “The truth is what you believe”. Meaning, there are shades of truth, and our memories of the truth is subjective. Take a bank robbery for example. Interview 10 different people who saw what happened, and you will have 5-10 different descriptions of the one suspect, of how he got away, of what kind of weapon he had, etc. Our memories alter over time, and can be influenced.

        Abusers DO, as GatorGirl said, play on a person’s insecurities. I was 19 when I kicked my 1st husband out. Immediately, he told me that nobody else would want me. A 19 year old single mother of two who was ugly enough before kids, but with a body “wrecked” by two kids? Forget it – nobody would touch me. This, after him spending over a year accusing me of sleeping around. Me weighing in at 115lbs and in a size 2 after two kids. With some of the guys he was hanging out with telling me that as long as I didn’t tell HIM, they’d take me out for a drink – no problem.
        When those lines don’t work, then the BS tricks of trying to undermine the friendships with other friends. He’ll tell her that he “overheard” a phone conversation where maybe you said she needs to lose weight, or get laid more often, or even be less picky about guys. Anything to undermine the friendship so she will willingly distance herself and second guess her OTHER friendships (I mean, if she was wrong about you two, what else was she wrong about, right?).

        An abuser alters the reality of the abused. Many times, the abused suspects, but feels guilty about it, that they would be duped like that, and feel like they deserve what’s happened because they didn’t listen to their friends, or they didn’t see what was happening. These kinds of abusers are good at what they do, so it ISN’T noticable at first.

  • Carolynasaurus November 14, 2011, 12:24 pm

    I know this is a little off-topic, and maybe it’s because you’re a frequent DW commentor, but thank you for writing a letter and an update that’s not just one giant facepalm. You wrote a well-thought-out letter asking for actual advice, not just “poor baby”s and “it’s not your fault”s.

    I’m sorry you were put in this situation, but you are a woman of my own heart: plans, back-up plans, plan B’s, back-up back-up plans. Just keep your head up and you should have a relatively good handle on the situation.

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  • Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 12:51 pm

    I’m glad you’re moving out too, Painted_Lady.

    Unrelated: could someone remind me how to change my little picture? Addie Pray is ready for a new one.

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    • Christina November 14, 2011, 1:12 pm

      Addie Pray, I think it’s at the bottom of the comment box. It says click here to pick your own gravatar. You suggested that I should do it too (months ago) but I’ve been too ADD to commit to figuring it out completely yet.

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      • Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 1:22 pm

        I don’t see that prompt… Last time I thought someone posted a link to a site where you create the gravatar… I don’t know.

    • silver_dragon_girl November 14, 2011, 2:12 pm

      Just go to gravatar.com, sign in, and you can upload pics there. 🙂

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      • McLovin November 14, 2011, 2:22 pm

        As cute as your kitty is…..still waiting for you to do the same thing:)

      • Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 2:24 pm

        Thanks! Can you remind me in the future when I’m ready for a new gravatar? I’ll try to remember; it’s easy enough.

        Ok, I didn’t make too drastic of a change. Maybe I’ll do something daring soon, like put a *real* picture up!

      • Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 2:25 pm

        Ugh, spoke too soon. It’s clearly NOT easy enough (for me).

      • silver_dragon_girl November 14, 2011, 2:28 pm

        Heh, me too….one of these days…:P

      • Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 3:03 pm

        Lookit, it’s working. Ok, now back to work.

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    rainbow November 14, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Wendy, I think your RSS is not working. I’m not getting the posts in my reader today.

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  • Christina November 14, 2011, 1:22 pm

    Painted_Lady, I’m glad you have so many options and got to talk to your friend at a good time. I was going to suggest standing up to his comments to make him stop trying to get a reaction out of you but then I kept reading and saw much better advice from people who have seen this behavior in relationships before. I only had this with a guy at work who treated a few of the girls that way and needled them when he saw them. Once I stood up and told him I wasn’t going to answer his inane questions if they weren’t related to work he stopped talking to me and just called me names to other people. He stopped bugging the other girls and quit working there soon after.
    I’m also glad you found a new place you love. Moving to a new place is always exciting.

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