Skip to content

The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Part Ten) “It’s All Right Here Waiting For Me”

Posted in Uncategorized

This is the penultimate post in this series because I’ll follow up on what happened in my friendship with Sam after all of these events took place. If you’ve missed out on the story so far, here are parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine.

There are mentions of rape in this installment.

Cathy being out of our lives was like a fifty-pound lead vest being taken off all of our shoulders. She remained in touch through phone calls, which I took out of a sort of morbid curiosity. She’d moved in with her MySpace boyfriend, Wallace, in Colorado and they’d made all sorts of plans. He would take her on ski weekends with his family, she wouldn’t have to work because he made plenty of money, and she could devote all of her time to her poetry, which he printed in his zine. I asked what he did for a living, that he could afford to support her, and she was cagey about it, finally admitting that he got disability benefits supplemented under the table by generous cash support from his wealthy mother.

As her calls became more infrequent, Cathy’s story about what was happening in Colorado was more difficult to follow. Though she was still dating Wallace, she’d moved out of his apartment and in with some of his friends. She was also suddenly in need of a job. I began to suspect that Mother Wallace had been unwilling to subsidize Cathy’s writing career. There were no more ecstatic boasts of luxury ski trips to be taken, either. Sometime later, she informed me that she’d applied for a job as a nanny. One of the requirements was that she must be fluent in Spanish, as the family did not speak English in the home.

“…you don’t speak Spanish,” I reminded her.

She laughed. “I know, but I took two years of college-level French. It’s basically the same thing. They’re not going to notice.”

Not surprisingly, she did not get the job.

Her next try at employment was working at a rape crisis call center. Allegedly, she was counseling people over the phone. I physically recoiled at that; I’d heard Cathy complain more than once about how ridiculous it was that so many of our friends had been raped and she hadn’t. “I don’t believe her. I’m prettier than her and I’ve never been raped,” she’d said of one acquaintance. She was the absolute last person anyone should have encountered when they called a rape crisis line.

Shortly after she began to work there, she called me and told me that Sam had repeatedly raped her during their marriage. Every boast she’d made about loving to be choked during sex, loving all of the kinky things she’d bragged about had just been a cover for when I’d asked questions about her bruises and the handprints around her throat. I had never once seen a bruise or a handprint. I’d never asked her anything that would have led to her zealous sharing of details I’d never wanted to hear about their sex life in the first place. But no matter how horrible she might have been to all of us in the past, I couldn’t bring myself to say, “You’re lying.” Because I didn’t know. Because it sounded plausible to me, not that Sam would rape someone, but that if someone was being abused like that, they might frame it as a consensual kink to survive. I was absolutely shocked to hear this about Sam. I questioned everything about their divorce and Cathy’s leaving. Had I been unsupportive of a truly good friend going through something terrible, something that had made her behavior understandably erratic?

Then she went on to say, “Yeah, I was doing my training for this job and I was reading about rape trauma syndrome and I kept seeing all of these symptoms that applied to me. Then I realized, I have rape trauma syndrome. I kept trying to think of who could have raped me, and I decided it was Sam.”

Those words gave me instant doubt, and I hated myself for it. I wasn’t supposed to doubt women who had been raped. Only bad people did that, right?

She went on to tell me an incredibly vivid, detailed story of one of the many times he raped her. It was horrific. It was brutal.

The story of the rape was true. It had happened.

But it never happened to Cathy.

Everything, from the very specific events leading up to the rape to the things “Sam” had allegedly screamed at her and the weapon “he’d” used, right down to the exact phrases she’d used to describe the incident, were taken from a story that had been told by another friend in confidence as part of a healing ritual in our Pagan group. Someone had shared their incredibly harrowing personal story of sexual violence at the hands of a former partner, had done so as an attempt at spiritual healing and cleansing, and now Cathy had parroted it back to me as her own experience, as though I wouldn’t remember or would just go along with it.

I immediately called the friend whose story had been stolen and told her what had happened. She was furious at the betrayal of her trust. She’d been one of the people who’d taken Cathy in after Cristin and I had turned our backs on her. Now, this friend had found that one of the most painful times in her life had not only been shared as Cathy’s story but that Cathy had also written about it on MySpace and was currently soaking up sympathy and attention from her new Colorado circle. I’m not sure if the friend ever followed through on reporting Cathy to the rape crisis hotline she worked for, but within a week, she no longer worked there.

When I told Sam about the things Cathy had been accusing him of, he just shrugged. His shoulders sagged. “What am I going to do about it?” He just didn’t have any fight left when it came to Cathy.

One thing he did stand firm on was that he would not ship her remaining clothing to her if she didn’t send him a money order, first. She complained to me that she couldn’t trust him to not just keep the money if she sent it and that she would be more comfortable if he shipped it first and let her pay him back later. Luckily, Sam wouldn’t back down. Unfortunately, this meant that Cathy––and Wallace––would come back to Michigan to pick up her things. She called Sam and told him when they would be arriving by Greyhound, asked for a ride from the bus station to their hotel, and of course, that he drop off her boxes. I volunteered to save him from having to see her again.

“We should all get together and go for dinner,” Cathy suggested, and by all, she meant me, Cristin, and the woman whose rape story she’d stolen. All three of us were totally in, again, out of morbid curiosity. We wanted to see if Cathy would be able to look our friend in the eye after such indefensible actions. We wanted to know who this mysterious Wallace was. Our lives had become a soap opera and we had a sick desire to see how it played out.

With Cathy’s things in tow, I met her and Wallace at the bus station. Cathy hugged me like we were great friends who’d parted on good terms. Like she’d never threatened to kill me. She threw her arms open and did a little spin in the bus station parking lot. “When I left, Kalamazoo completely stopped existing. But I come back and it’s all right here waiting for me.”

Because none of us, our lives, our families, the physical places where we lived and worked every single day, not of it existed without Cathy’s presence. Cathy saw herself as the force that animated the world.

As I drove her to the hotel, she described “the most racist thing I’ve ever seen.” At the bus station in St. Louis, police had taken aside and searched only black passengers before they boarded the bus.

“It was awful,” she said, shaking her head.

“Did you speak up?” I asked. “Did you say anything about it?”

She pressed her hand to her chest, as though she had been personally traumatized by the racism of those police. “No. But for the first time in my life, I thought, thank God I’m not black. I mean, that could have been me. If I had been born black, that would have happened to me.”

“You’re in your thirties, and this was the first time you noticed that it’s easier to be white than black?” I asked.

Very quietly, she said, “I think you’re being very racist toward me right now.”

It was going to be a long evening.

Wallace was overall a very quiet guy. We dropped off Cathy’s things at the hotel and I drove us over to a local pizza place to meet with Cristin and the friend whose story Cathy had stolen. There was a plan in place: I would get a phone call halfway through dinner that would require me to leave, so I couldn’t drive them back to the hotel. When that happened, the other friend would volunteer. This would give her privacy to call out Cathy about using such a painful personal memory for her own gain.

While we ate, we learned enough about Wallace to finally make sense of what was actually going on in Colorado, versus what Cathy had told us. Wallace was on disability because of a closed head injury sustained in a skiing accident a few years back. The ensuing brain damage had left him able to live on his own, but not hold down a job. When Cathy had moved in with him, his mother (“the bitch”) stopped giving him money and refused to give him anymore unless he broke things off with Cathy and never spoke to her again. Occasionally, Wallace would say something that didn’t quite fit with the conversation we were having and Cathy would be quick to shush him or laugh loudly and tell us he was joking. She talked incessantly about how intelligent he was, in a way that was incredibly patronizing because Wallace was intelligent. He just had some brain damage. It became clear very quickly that Cathy had seen Wallace as a source of income and had no trouble exploiting him, but was embarrassed to be seen with him due to his disability. It was no wonder that his mother had cut him off in an attempt to get him away from Cathy.

True to his word, my husband called me halfway through the dinner. “Oh, shoot. His car broke down and I have to go. It was good seeing you guys,” I said, and left as fast as I could.

The next day, while waiting for my son’s preschool to get out, I went to the coffee shop down the street. I was working and eating a bagel when the door opened. In walked Cathy and Wallace. I considered abandoning my food and making a run for the other door, but she spotted me right away.

“Oh my god, what are you doing here?” she squealed, sitting across the table from me.

“This is where I come while I wait for [my son] to get out of school,” I reminded her.

“Oh right.” She laughed. “I forgot you had a kid.”

She’d forgotten. I had. A child.

I checked the clock. Luckily, I only had about twenty minutes before I had to leave, but oh, what a twenty minutes it was. She and Wallace launched into breathless praise for a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and medium who’d channeled the ghost of a time traveler to write a book explaining that the attacks were planned and carried out by aliens with the full support of “lizard people” who had infiltrated our government. I sat open-mouthed as they explained all of this to me. Both of them were fully invested, but I couldn’t help argue a few points with them. For example, their insistence that “only alien technology would be capable of melting those steel beams,” which I refuted with the simple fact that normal, terrestrial heat capabilities had been used to manufacture those beams in the first place. But the discussion grew tiring, so I finally asked, “So…if this ghost was a time traveler…why didn’t he time travel back and warn us the attacks were going to happen?”

They had no answer.

They also had no coffee. The barista told them they’d have to buy something or leave, and Cathy looked down sadly. “We don’t have any money left.”

They were meant to be in the city for several days. They had a hotel room. I had no idea how they planned to pay for it or where their next meal was coming from. They’d clearly arrived believing that Cathy’s “friends” would foot the bill for the pleasure of their company.

I said, “That’s a shame.”

“Could you maybe give us a ride back to the hotel?” Cathy asked. “It’s like, pouring rain out and we don’t have bus fare to get back.”

I pretended to feel sorry. “Ugh, I would, but I have to go pick up [my son]. But have a safe trip back to Colorado.”

The last time I ever saw Cathy, she was walking with Wallace, head down in the rain as I drove away from the coffee shop. I was so relieved, I cried. Please, just never, never let her come back, I prayed.

A few weeks later, my wish was granted, as per gossip from someone who had stayed in touch with her. Though her parental rights to her son had been terminated, she still owed unpaid child support payments from the previous custody agreement. Her federal income tax refund was seized as a result, so she made a furious call to Martin’s father, demanding that he return the money he’d “stolen.” She insisted that since she didn’t have a job, she was no longer responsible for the previous balance owed. The State Of Michigan disagreed and issued a bench warrant for her arrest, which I personally believe will effectively prevent her from ever returning to the state.

The last I heard of her was a couple of years later, from someone who followed her on Facebook and thought I’d find the news funny: she’d remarried, had another child and was pregnant with a second. But I don’t find it funny at all. Shortly after she’d moved to Colorado, she’d joined several online support groups for parents whose children had died, I assume in an attempt to convince her new Colorado friends that she wasn’t a bad mother, but a grieving one. At the time, I’d just rolled my eyes, glad that she couldn’t hurt her son anymore now that she’d passed him off as dead to everyone in her new life. But now, she has a new family to eventually abandon. New children to chase after her, sobbing as she runs off to “find herself.”

And that’s what people like Cathy do. They destroy and move on. It’s the people left behind who have to deal with the aftermath. I’d like to say that after ten years, the damage has healed. But my friendship with Sam was ultimately destroyed due to the upheaval she caused in his life. I still sometimes doubt my own mind when dealing with new people. I constantly look for signs that someone might “be a Cathy.” That will probably never go away.

I once brought Cathy up to a therapist, to ask her if she thought the years of constant gaslighting might still have a lingering effect (duh). She told me something I’ll never forget: it’s not just romantic relationships that can be abusive. Friendships can, too.

But still, to this day, I feel guilty that I cut Cathy off. I feel guilty that I left her in the rain. I feel guilty that I called Martin’s father. And the reason I feel all of this is because that’s exactly what Cathy wants me to feel.

Next time: Epilogue or “What happened to Sam?”

103 Comments

  1. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    “But still, to this day, I feel guilty that I cut Cathy off. I feel guilty that I left her in the rain. I feel guilty that I called Martin’s father. And the reason I feel all of this is because that’s exactly what Cathy wants me to feel.

    No, you got out from the abuse. You had to do whatever it took to save yourself, Mr. Jen, and your kids. Your family would have been way worse off had you stayed in that relationship and enabled her further. You did the right thing. It was always Cathy’s responsibility to take care of herself, not yours.

    I’m so happy you let her walk away in the rain, Very fitting.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Cathy did and does want everyone to feel sorry for her. One of the books I read about sociopaths said that this is one if their key characteristics: manipulating others for pity. Other messed-up people might try to gain your admiration, provoke your rage, charm you so you forget their last offense, but sociopaths only vary their routine with these ploys. Milking pity is home base for them, and they always return to it.

      I’ll bet any money that even if the forecast clearly said it would rain, or it was already raining when Cathy and Warren left the hotel in the morning, she made no effort to get or even borrow an umbrella. Because walking away on the rain, with her head down, was supposed to make Jenny say, “Wait! I didn’t mean it! Here are my life savings, which I was saving for the child you didn’t remember I had, because I can’t BEAR to see you look so downtrodden!”

      https://goo.gl/images/S4akVB

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Actually, I wonder if they just “happened” to walk into that coffee shop at all….

        April 16, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          Of course not. They had no money, remember…

          April 18, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            So she didn’t remember Jenny. Had. A kid.

            But she damn well remembered where she’d be hanging out before it was time to pick him up.

            Classic.

            April 18, 2018
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        This seems to be about right when it comes to this woman. She said Martin’s father abused her first hence she was divorcing him, then she said Sam was abusing her(she was actually abusing him), then she stole the rape story and published it even as hers, and then as Jenny tells us she pretended that her son was dead(even tho she neglected him so much he was fantasising about murdering her). Because she has to be the ULTIMATE PERFECT VICTIM and for everyone to coo and call her poor thing. Yep. Pity milking is her ultimate agenda.

        April 19, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I’m so happy you let her walk away in the rain, Very fitting.

      Yeah, Cathy can’t melt and we’ve all had to get soaked at least once in our lives. Nothing makes her more human than getting drenched and after she dries off, she goes back to being a bitch. It’s maybe worthwhile to feel bad for making Wallace walk in the rain, but hopefully, after that trip, he reconsidered his relationship with Cathy and sided with his mother’s good common sense. I highly doubt they got married, since he wasn’t the bucket of money that he used to be, so that sounds about right.

      But you’re a kind woman, Jenny, and we all feel guilty sometimes, even if we know the other person was an asshole. 😛 🙂

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
  2. Gretel
    Gretel

    I knew she would want her “friends” to pay the bills during their trip.

    Did your friend, whose rape story she stole, confront her? I’m really curios about what Cathy said when confronted with her lies and abuse of trust.

    What remains, after reading all these stories, is a deep, burning hatred for Cathy. I hate her and all the other Cathys in the world. I had my fair share of Cathys and the devestating effects of their abuse is carved into my flesh, manifested as depression, self-doubt, self-hatred, and suicidal thoughts. And rage. So much rage.

    I feel so sorry for all the children she had. And I truly hope they got the help they needed and can become kind and functioning adults and not the new Cathys of the world. Poor kids.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • Zzzzen
      Zzzzen

      I bet you anything that if that woman did confront her about the rape story, Cathy insisted that it DID happen to her, and that she can’t be blamed if the circumstances are so eerily similar.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      I think she’d deny it to the friend, and say she never did any of that and call her paranoid or she’d call her supersensitive or say it happened to her but she just couldn’t talk about it so she only borrowed phrases to help her cope. But I’m more with the denial scenario. Since she’s an abuser and abusive people always deny they’ve ever done the bad thing they’re accused of.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • HerImperialMaj
        HerImperialMaj

        DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. First, “That never happened. Jenny’s lying. You misunderstood.” Next, “You’re being really unsupportive. Women are supposed to believe each other no matter what.” Finally, “You’re bringing up really painful memories. Why are you forcing me to relive this? I don’t ever want to talk about this again.”

        See also: A Narcissist’s Prayer

        That didn’t happen.
        And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
        And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
        And if it is, that’s not my fault.
        And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
        And if I did…
        You deserved it.

        April 16, 2018
        |Reply
    • E
      E

      Actually, she didn’t say anything. I didn’t confront her that night. I didn’t want to do it in front of Wallace. I did, however, send her a message later saying how dare she use something painful that happened to me as her own tragedy, that she was a terrible person, and I wanted nothing to do with her ever again. I honestly expected she would try to deny it or defend herself, but she never replied.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • jane dow
        jane dow

        All my sympathies to you. Did you report Cathy to the hotline or did she manage to get fired on her own?

        April 17, 2018
        |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Thank you for the update. I’m sorry this happened to you.

        April 17, 2018
        |Reply
  3. blackboardmonitor
    blackboardmonitor

    Just out of curiosity- did your friend end up confronting Cathy about stealing the story of her rape? I can’t imagine that it had any effect on Cathy, but even if it just allowed your friend the chance for expressing some much needed anger.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I’m not sure if she did or not. I didn’t pry, because that’s such a personal thing.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
  4. Caitlin Nolan
    Caitlin Nolan

    Holy shit. It’s impossible to decide which detail of this installment is the worst. It’s like being a kid in a candy store of badness.

    I truly hope she has no custody of any of those children. No kid deserves a mother like Cathy.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      There’s so much to choose from: abuse of family and friends, financial exploitation, active attempts to tear down the confidence of anyone who tries to achieve anything, co-opting of other people’s traumas as well as their celebrations.

      For some reason, the one that freaked me out the most was Cathy inviting who-knows-what entity into somebody else’s house. I’m a practicing Catholic and don’t know how effective rituals like that would be on people who don’t believe in them, or people whose belief system provides them with protection. The point is, Cathy DID believe in it, or pretended to believe and knew Jenny actually DID. I remember my Narnia: keep calling for Tash, and Tash just might show up, even if you don’t believe in him.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
  5. Zzzzen
    Zzzzen

    There are just no words for people like that. I mean, there ARE, but you could easily exhaust your vocabulary, and yourself, dishing them out. :/

    BTW what happened with the friend whose rape story Cathy passed off as her own? Did she actually confront Cathy after you left? How did it go down, and what was the outcome? Or did she never tell you? I would think that Cathy herself would have had something to say about it the next day.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I didn’t follow up on that because it’s none of my business how that shook out. I really hope that she did, though.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
  6. Mike
    Mike

    I know too many Cathy’s. I’ve seen them destroy too many people’s lives. And I have felt that very same guilt. They’re insidious and toxic. Knowing that she had two more children is frankly horrifying. I hope it at least wasn’t with Wallace. Taking advantage of a person on disability just feels so much worse…

    I am glad you’re not likely to ever see her again. At least you got away from her.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  7. Jo
    Jo

    I’m kind of baffled that Cathy made no comment about the confrontation the following day, as in “X TRIED to tell me that my rape actually happened TO HER, can you believe it?” Or maybe she didn’t say anything because she was with Wallace.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  8. Mel
    Mel

    All I can say is I’m so sorry you and your friends ever had to go through the horror of knowing this woman. I’m sorry for Martin and his father for being abandoned by her and traumatized as well. I’m sorry for Sam for getting sucked in and physically and emotionally abused by Cathy and then to be accused of rape. I’m just all around sorry and I hate that Cathy and people like her exist.

    What must it be like to be Cathy? Is she oblivious to the way she acts? Is she well aware and just that calculating? It’s fascinating to me how one person could just be so all around awful. Fascinating and horrifying.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  9. Crystal
    Crystal

    I admire you for cutting Cathy off. I admire you for leaving her in the rain. I admire you for calling Martin’s father. It took strength, compassion, and wisdom to do those things: compassion for Martin, and compassion for yourself. I respect that.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  10. Cris
    Cris

    “She told me something I’ll never forget: it’s not just romantic relationships that can be abusive.”

    This, this so much. While I haven’t known someone as bad as Cathy, I’ve been through toxic friendships and they definitely fucked me up. I often find myself internally doubting and second guessing inocous things my current friends do because of my former experiences. Like, I love my friends; but I’m always sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to discover they have used me, or that I’m not interesting or amusing anymore so they will leave. These are 100% my own issues that I have to work on, and I know now it will a while before I can completely ignore all the tiny negative voices in my head telling me I’ll never find people who like me.

    I wish someone had said to me when I was a teen-or that I had seen it somewhere- what your therapist told you. Realising friendships could be abusive sooner would have saved a lot of grief.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Yeah, the only thing (I think) that is harder to telling a friend that isn’t good for you to f**k off is learning how to tell your subconscious (the thing that allowed you to get involved with that person to begin with) to f**k off. Once you do that, then you can spot the Cathys of the world and never get involved to begin with. But learning that involves a lot of pain sometimes.

      My congratulations to Jen on surviving the long journey! And successfully, too!!

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
  11. Zoe
    Zoe

    You changed the kid’s name! In the beginning he was called Marvin and half way through he became Martin. It bothered my OCD on so many levels.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  12. HerImperialMaj
    HerImperialMaj

    She left Kalamazoo, ergo Kalazmazoo no longer exists. When she returns, it groans back to life for the duration of her visit.

    Yep, Cathy has no object permanence. Add this to the list of toddler behaviours, alongside her obsession with her own bodily excretions and holding her breath as a tantrum strategy.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      The textbook definition of solipsism.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
  13. T.
    T.

    My ex was very similar to Cathy. Toward the end of our 23 years together, she would tell our friends stories of things that had happened to ME as though they had happened to HER…and she did this RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Finally, I called her out on it. She got embarrassed and angrily said, “Fine! Then YOU tell it.” To which I replied, “Since it’s MY story, thank you — I will.” After we broke up, I saw she had started to participate in NaNoWriMo where she had put something in her bio that, again, happened to ME, claiming it was HER experience.

    Initially, I had always believed her stories — that she had met all these famous people (including The Beatles), that she had done all these fantastic things. When I began to catch her in lies, I started to question if anything she told me was real. She had also been gaslighting me (my definition of “irony” is when you move in with someone and she shows you one of her favorite movies, which turns out to be “Gaslight”…and two decades later, your therapist is telling you that you’ve been gaslighted).

    After we split up, she told people I had cheated on her. This, from the person who had been into open marriages and had had many affairs with married couples (threesomes) and married men (with their wives’ consent) and who informed me that she would continue to fuck whoever she wanted whether I liked it or not. During our time together, she had encouraged me to have an affair with a woman closer to my age (who now claims that I had raped her — yes, the person who was raped repeatedly as a child by her own father had consensual sex with someone who would rather claim she was raped than admit she had been intimate with another woman; this is why I now live alone and refuse to get romantically involved with anyone ever again). My ex had full knowledge of the relationship. She forced me to cut it off when she found I was becoming too attached to this other person. But then, she also cut me off from other friends and even family members as part of her narcissistic sociopathic behavior.

    Eight years after she walked out on me (she said I would be begging her to take me back within a year; I didn’t), my ex was diagnosed with cancer. I wanted to see her one last time, to forgive her for what she had done to me and make peace, but the people around her refused to let me see her. They all hated me. Some of them had been MY friends, too; after the split, they had followed her, and she had convinced them that I’m a monster. Even if I could not do so in person before she died, I still forgave my ex. I would not wish cancer on anyone, and I am sorry that she had to suffer.

    As an interesting post-script, I did find out that one of the people she had pulled into her circle toward the end — her so-called “shaman” (like me, she had been a Solitary all her life; we had tried to do the Pagan Circle scene but we never fit in so we just did our own thing) — was supposed to give her a funeral. Two of her friends (a shady character who had a habit of stealing from businesses where she worked before skipping town and moving to another state) had raised over a thousand dollars for funeral expenses. Most of the money went to the thief so she could fly in, stay at a hotel, rent a truck, and leave with most of my ex’s stuff (I was told it was like a Greek funeral, where people rushed in and started snatching up anything they could get their hands on). Some of the money WAS used for cremation, but it’s been over a year and there has never been a funeral. There wasn’t even an obit. As heartless as they think me to be, I am saddened by this.

    I will not forget the bad things my ex did to me, and I will share my experiences with others as a lesson and a warning (“Don’t let this happen to YOU!”). But even toxic relationships have a few untarnished spots here and there. I will remember the good times, the fun things we did together. I keep telling myself I’m a survivor — I survived my father, and I survived my ex. And I’ll have PTSD the rest of my life. But as Miss Celie said in “The Color Purple,” I’m here. For whatever reason, I’m still here.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • Nadia
      Nadia

      I have the same mantra. I’m here. For whatever reason I’m still here. Out of 4 children, i may as well say I’m the only one left. I’m the youngest. I lost my eldest brother first, then my sister. My father died one month after my parents 60th anniversary, and one year later, my remaining brother beat our mother to death. I’ve been on a guilt trip for 7 years, believing that there was something I could have done. Ive been assaulted by the friends I thought cared about me. Telling my other friends, she didn’t do anything, she could have seen something was wrong. Yeah I got State to State vision. I lost people I really care about because they believed those lies. I have PTSD, depression, insomnia and a whole host of other mental issues I’ve managed to keep inside. The worst one who betrayed me was my ex-husband. He never understood the pain I’ve experienced. And to this day tells people, I’m filled with drama and seeking sympathy. All I’m interested in is curing or finding a safe place, maybe making a good friend. I hate Cathy for adopting others pain for herself.

      April 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      (I was told it was like a Greek funeral, where people rushed in and started snatching up anything they could get their hands on)

      I’m absolutely sorry that you couldn’t have closure with your ex (or the friends that she manipulated into turning against you (it sucks, it happened to me once in high school, and it’s really hard to come to terms with it)). But—WHAT?! Even if it was Greek (which I’ve NEVER seen or read about because every book I read hammered in the fact that the ancient Greeks and Mycenaeans were all about MAKING SURE THE DEAD WERE REMEMBERED (so for your ex’s case, there should’ve DEFINITELY been an obituary or at the very least an open-casket procession before cremation)), that has GOT to be a bullshit excuse for robbing your ex.

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • ninyabruja
        ninyabruja

        There’s a scene in Zorba the Greek in which the women of the village watch Madam Hortense die and strip her home the minute she draws her last breath. Idk if that’s something that actually happened.

        April 17, 2018
        |Reply
        • MamaLich
          MamaLich

          WOW. Okay, I must admit I’ve never seen/read this story (I’ve only got a few stuff on the ancient greeks–plus I only took a 2-minute search about Orthodox Greek funerary traditions and couldn’t find anything like it either). But you could be right since Greece used to be various individual ‘states’ that do have various differences in terms of customs and beliefs (and since this Madam Hortense character lived and died in Crete, maybe that sorta thing happens there).

          I just find it amazing though that a pagan group would do a ‘Greek’ funeral which involves taking stuff, and still not even do one of the most important ancient rituals for the ex (seriously, it’s like doing a Catholic funeral which involves putting them in the ground facing east–and then not even doing the basic funerary rites let alone planting a cross on their grave). Pagan Greek funerary rituals just seem to be VERY intimate with the dead, like ‘washing and anointing the corpse no matter how long-dead and corpsey they are’ kind of intimacy. So even if there was any taking involved, there was so much effort usually involved with treating the body with utmost care and then publicly showing them to the entire city/town/village that it would pretty much okay any potential snatching of things.

          At the very least, I think those people should’ve lit a candle and left a coin on her for Charon if they were going *that* Greek. If you gotta half-ass it (be it weddings, funerals, or bachelor parties), at least make sure to leave in a bit of respect for your friend.

          April 17, 2018
          |Reply
          • T.
            T.

            When I said “Greek funeral,” I most definitely meant that scene from Zorba the Greek — and it’s something that has been parodied in TV shows (American Dad! comes to mind). My ex received no ceremonies of any kind, according to one of the people who was there at the end of her life. I have no idea who even has her ashes. I do know that she had always told me when she died she wanted to have them scattered at Stonehenge and in the streets of New Orleans, two places she loved.

            It should also be noted that they accused me of just wanting to get back into her life at the end so I could “get stuff.” I did ask for a couple of things that had no value to anyone else which she had taken with her when she left me, including the cremains of our cats (which I did receive). But all of her rare, first-edition books, all her antiques and collectibles, were taken by others. And let me tell you, it is so strange to see things that had been in MY home for 23 years now sitting on someone else’s shelves.

            I neglected to add that my ex and I had gone to Canada to be married in 2005, but it was not recognized here in Michigan until the SCOTUS ruling; we had already been separated, but since this meant we were still legally wed, I did not hesitate to file for divorce. I did not want to be responsible for my ex’s debts, especially with her owing the IRS thousands in unpaid taxes (it’s bad enough I found out she had used my personal information to open accounts and left them unpaid, and I’ve had to fend off collections agencies who have started to come out of the woodwork; now that she’s dead, it’s a little hard to file Fraud). In order for her to sign the papers, I could not ask for anything in the divorce (even my personal belongings) and she would not pay a dime (I had to pay for filing). Ironically, two weeks after the court date (the last time I saw her alive), she found out she had cancer.

            I have started to become friends with two of the people who were there in her last days. They have a lot of her stuff, including items that I knew to belong to other people. I asked if I could have these so they could be returned to their rightful owners, and they agreed. They also had one of our cats (my ex took her when she left). She was MY cat for the first 12 years of her life, and I thought I would never see her again. I am happy to say I got to spend time with her again for the first time in nearly eight years, and she remembered me. These people had promised to care for her for the rest of her days. Two weeks ago, she went into renal failure. They called me to join them at the vet on Good Friday, where I said goodbye to her. Because your kid (even your fur-kid) is still your kid, even if you think you’ll never see it again (someone Cathy doesn’t seem to understand!). So at least I got some closure, there.

            If this whole experience has taught me anything, it is to make sure I have a will in place so that no one can just come in and take my stuff. Yeah, okay — once I’m gone, why should I care what happens to it? Well, I think of the people who were friends with my ex for years and yet were not offered any personal mementos, and how being disregarded had hurt them. I want to make sure MY friends receive something, even if it’s just sentimental in value. Family photos and heirlooms, jewelry, et al…there are people who need to get those. The thought of people coming in and snatching up whatever they want is unnerving, and will always make me think of that scene in Zorba the Greek.

            April 17, 2018
  14. Catherine Hannah
    Catherine Hannah

    You showed nothing but kindness and compassion to that woman and she repeatedly abused your trust and revealed herself to be an incredibly entitled, unbelievably insensitive, manipulator. She hurt you and pretty much everyone else around her. And if she was called out on it, she tried to either gaslight people into seeing her as the victim or threatened to retaliate with violence. You don’t owe her a thing. You do not need to apologise for protecting yourself – that’s just a basic human instinct, to want to be safe! She’s toxic and dangerous and I’m glad that she’s out of your life. (I realise that this may come across as condescending and if that’s the case I’m sorry. I just – I have my own problems with a pervasive sense of guilt, and I know it helps me when other people confirm how nonsensical that guilt is. I know that you know all this already Jen and I’m sorry if it comes across as patronising! But I’ll say it again. Cathy is a toxic person and you don’t owe her a damn thing. So please try not to listen to the guilt! )

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Amen.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
  15. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “She’d forgotten. I had. A child.”

    I CHEW on my friends’ kids (always with parental permission, of course. One of my friends said as long as I “left the meat on the baby” so it was “sustainable,” there shouldn’t be a problem, unless the baby minded, which he probably wouldn’t, because his daddy was always chewing on his toes or double chin).

    My editor’s child was four when we all sang “I Wanna Be Sedated” a capella and she started bouncing around the room without any special instruction on moshing, then joined in on the “ba-ba-bas.” When she was six, I specifically coached her on pogoing to “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”

    My Honorary Nieces and Nephews are a major part of my life. Granted, I have no kids of my own.

    But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. She had little trouble forgetting her OWN child.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  16. A hirsch
    A hirsch

    Have you drawn on your experiences with Cathy when writing fiction?

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  17. Currently, I’m reading “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggressiveness in Girls,” by Rachel Simmons. Granted, I’m only about 100 pages in, but think –given the number of us who seem to have had one of our own personal “Cathies,”– everyone who’s been following this story might be into. FTR, I don’t know the author, and the rest of the book may be a sh*tshow from here on in. But, given this first chunk, I’m going to say it’s well worth checking out.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      It’s fantastic. I’ve read it myself.

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
  18. Trynn
    Trynn

    Poor Wallace 🙁 I hope she wasn’t the one he married.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply
  19. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    Oh my God. Cathy, rape does not work that way. At all. What the fuck. Poor Sam, and poor woman whose story Cathy stole.

    “oh this is horrific and racist, but thank God it’s happening to these other people and not me” WOW. Just WOW. I’m not the best person and even I’m galled at that.

    When Cathy had moved in with him, his mother stopped giving him money and refused to give him anymore unless he broke things off with Cathy and never spoke to her again. 
    ^ I mean, because of my history with exes’ parents, that would normally offend me, but Mrs. Wallace was right-on about Cathy.

    She’d forgotten. I had. A child.
    ^ well, she is extremely self-absorbed.

    The State Of Michigan issued a bench warrant for her arrest, which I personally believe will effectively prevent her from ever returning to the state.
    ^ Thank God. And thank God she’s finally receiving some kind of consequence for her bad actions!

    I still sometimes doubt my own mind when dealing with new people. I constantly look for signs that someone might “be a Cathy.” 
    ^ Same. I had a less extreme Cathy who, thankfully, did grow out of her bad habits when she had a baby, and I’ve met several people since who have unpleasantly reminded me of her former self. It’s … unfortunate, but it’s good to be able to spot that now so you don’t get hurt again.

    I understand why you feel guilty and you absolutely have the right to feel whatever you feel, but at this point I think it’s…vestigial? Like, that guilt isn’t useful to you and it’s hurting you more than letting go of it would. She’s the one who hurt you, and even though she seems incapable of guilt, she’s the one who should feel it, not you. We all love and support you.

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Oatmeals
    Oatmeals

    If it’s not too much to ask, what happened when your friend confronted Cathy in the car about stealing her story?

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • Beth
      Beth

      She replied further up in the comments about it (user name is E).

      April 23, 2018
      |Reply
  21. MamaLich
    MamaLich

    Regarding Cathy’s job search, I’m a bit surprised that Cathy wasn’t trying to go for more tutoring jobs. Maybe this whole thing took place during the recession but—was Cathy seriously clueless on which jobs would’ve been inapplicable to her? She goes for a nannying job despite that she doesn’t even *like* being around kids (like, she’s physically repulsed by being around Marvin. How the hell is she supposed to care and socialise with someone else’s kid?!), and then she worked in a rape crisis center despite of her pathological need to be in the center of attention!

    She honest-to-god reminds me of someone who desperately wanted to work in CSI (she went to the community college for it, and then took a ‘top-up’ course at a university). Thankfully she totally flunked her third year because not only was she lazy and totally against the idea of working for more than an hour at a lab—but she had the WORST personality for the job (like Cathy, she believed that the whole world HAD to revolve around her—and she was a SERIOUS victim-blamer that would’ve been a nightmare if she had to handle rape or child abuse cases (she used to brag about how she forced her own kids to raise their own siblings, and was ‘so strict’ that if they didn’t keep the house spotless by the time she went home, then there’d be ‘hell to pay’)). Of course, now she’s pretending to be a hippie earth-mother who’s all about ‘letting kids do their thing’ and being all about family—despite that she used to hate the hell out of her own kids and only went home during late hours (and it’s funny that NOW she’s all about being a mom, when most of her kids were almost approaching their late teens (she had four, by the way. There was PLENTY of opportunities to be a mom, and she decided to only start now that the youngest’s 13)). She only ever cared about other people when it’s convenient for her, but I guess now that she’s reaching her 50s she’s probably terrified of winding up alone (like I imagine Cathy would. I’m glad that she won’t get her hooks on Marvin, but on the other hand—she now has two young kids might be forced to not only deal with her narcissism, but also her later desire to have someone unconditionally support her and wait on her hand-and-foot).

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • HerImperialMaj
      HerImperialMaj

      Narcissists need something to feed on. She 100% would have been that nanny that tries to turn the kids against the parents. She would have told anyone who would listen that the parents were neglectful and the kids loved her more. It would have been her “my son is my saviour” thing all over again, but now she’s also “rescuing” them from their “evil” parents.

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        And then there are all her (non-) hygienic practices….

        April 17, 2018
        |Reply
    • Landshark
      Landshark

      I’ve seen this before with an ex – “Cathy” probably didn’t want a job at all, but she needs to be looking for one to get sympathy. She talks about and applies for jobs she knows she can’t get or keep, just so she can pretend that she isn’t a leech.

      My ex had a back injury for most of our relationship, and was thus unable to continue working at his family’s liquor store. After he recovered, he kept talking about getting a job in IT somewhere (difficult without a degree and/or certifications, which he didn’t have), even spending his family’s gifts on expensive books. He refused to go back to the liquor store or look for any other kind of job, all the while eating most of the food I bought on my internship salary and occasionally begging his or my(!) family for money. After I dumped him, going back to work at the liquor store suddenly was an option again.

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jamoche
        Jamoche

        The utterly useless Stepbrat was the sort to think he ought to be handed a manager’s job at McD’s despite never having so much as swept the floor at one. My mom (his stepmom) told me he’d once asked her to ask me what it took to be a software engineer. (To Mom’s credit, she wasn’t asking, just relaying another “Stepbrat is useless” story.)

        I am utterly convinced he was one of those “it’s just sitting around and typing, *she* can do it, how hard can it be?” sorts.

        April 29, 2018
        |Reply
  22. Vix
    Vix

    I read this yesterday, but had to step away for a while before I commented. There are so many (10 installments’ worth!) horrible things she’s done, but this in this one, the hits just keep coming.

    She violated the trust of your healing ritual… She stole your friend’s rape experience for giggles… She appears to have been emotionally abusing her vulnerable boyfriend… She told you all that you only existed to amuse her…

    She joined groups for bereaved parents to make herself seem like a better person?!?

    This is something that normal parents have actual nightmares about. One of my friends lost a child ten years ago and he is with her EVERY day. She still winces when people refer to her being a “mother of two” or when people refer to her oldest living child as her “firstborn.”

    I can’t imagine the kind of awful nonsense that someone like Cathy was bringing to a group of grieving people just so she could lie about having abandoned her child. Seriously, I will pray for those other two children she brought in to the world, that they can somehow be spared her cruelty…

    Ugh. Sorry. I wanted to write something a little funny, but I just couldn’t. Jenny, I’m so sorry this person entered your life, and so happy that she’s gone from it, and so sorry again that she left you with such an awful legacy.

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
  23. Saint_Sithney
    Saint_Sithney

    Oh wow… reading this came on the heels of my first encounter with a person who would lie about being raped (like, she literally disclosed on Thursday). Only the person she’s accusing of rape is my health advocate and ex-boyfriend. My first instinct was to believe her, but adding up what I know of her and what I know of him, it doesn’t add up. I don’t have something clear like “She completely stole another person’s horrific rape story”, but considering:

    I have very severe dystonia. A raised heart rate can send me into a full locked-in state, which one ex-boyfriend used to continue sex very much against my will (we didn’t know what these attacks were at the time and considered they were seizures… how fucked up to you have to be to continue having sex with a person you’re sure is having a seizure?). When my HA and I dated, these dystonic attacks happened regularly during sex. The second he realized I was having an attack or about to have an attack, he would stop all sexual contact and begin working to bring my heart rate and body temperature down and help until the attack passed. He has an extreme reaction to hearing mentions of sexual violence against anyone, and 100% accepted things like “You can’t touch my neck during sex because my evil ex held me down by the back of my neck”. He could occasionally be a bit pushy about things he wanted to do in bed (outside of bed, like bringing up in conversation that he really really wanted us to do anal, despite my fecalphobia. He never suggested while we were having sex, unlike my ex, who fingered me anally during sex without asking and knowing my extreme reaction to anuses), but once he got a firm “No”, he’d back off. I put his pushiness down to his lack of social skills.

    I don’t know April very well, but in the time that I’ve known her, she’s bragged about petty theft, bragged about how much weed she smokes, bragged about how much smarter and sexier she was than anyone else, and then started apparently bragging about how many people have sexually abused her. Like… we’ve had literally one full one-on-one conversation, and it went from her trying to impress me that she was incredibly intelligent (I’ve always thought she was a bit on the dim side… she says plenty of things that are blatantly untrue and show an extreme lack of understanding of history, which she claims to be an expert in. Things like “Wiccanism is the oldest religion”. When she was corrected on that, she switched to “Astaruism is the oldest religion and without Astaru, there would be no Christianity”), to her claiming more and more abuse until she told me that my HA raped her.

    She constantly hangs out with him because he’ll give her rides places and have sex with her when her boyfriend doesn’t want to. I had a dystonic attack the other night, when she was grocery shopping with him, so he brought her over. My roommates both said they felt evil when she walked into the house – neither knew who she was or knew anything about her, just she filled them both with rage so strong they had to leave. When they got back, they insisted on cleansing and warding the house. One of my roommates doesn’t even like my HA, but I have never seen him have such a strong negative reaction to people within seconds.

    So… I have finally met that elusive person willing to lie about rape, and it all seems to boil down to she’s a fucking horrible person willing to ruin a person’s life for spite. I tried to figure out what she was spiteful about, and it seems it’s two things: my HA won’t drive her boyfriend around, and my HA is refusing to drive her 70 miles for a BDSM seminar on safe choking techniques because he has work that day. I told him about her stated plan to report him to the AMTA, blast him at the club they hang out at, blacken his name in the SCA, and tell the entire internet that he’s not just a guy with poor understanding of social cues and a lack of awareness of personal bubbles, but a monster who molests women on his massage table and then rapes his clients. He is currently doing his best to cope with recurring panic attacks over the idea that she would say he raped her, and is cycling on the edge of a complete breakdown over the idea that he could lose his beloved career, club, and hobbies all because he didn’t want to play taxi.

    Sorry for the long post, but he’s been a good health advocate for me, and so I’m helping him through this. But it’s really tough.

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • (Different) Rebecca
      (Different) Rebecca

      That’s REVOLTING!

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • Saint_Sithney
        Saint_Sithney

        I know. It’s just so incredibly hard to process anyone lying about rape. How monstrous do you have to be to lie about an atrocity happening to you – particularly an atrocity that many victims aren’t believed about in the first place?

        My HA a trusting and loving person, so when she told him that practically everyone she ever knew had been abusive and had raped her, he had nothing but sympathy. He didn’t think about how weird it was that this one person had apparently never known a decent human being in their entire lives, and apparently lived in a rape parade where she couldn’t have a sex partner without that partner ultimately raping her. Like… I know that former abuse victims are at a higher likelihood for being in more abusive relationships, and rape survivors are often re-targeted, but it seems statistically impossible that this girl who loves sex and will have it with many people has never encountered a non-rapist.

        I didn’t know that April was one of the Cathys of the world when I first met her, but they’re good at hiding it.

        April 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Some people are complete garbage. I hope your Health Advocate can get this horrible person off his back without any collateral damage and that she finds someone else as her free taxi, though I pity them. Blessings to both of you (especially since your ex was definitely evil: continuing to fuck someone who is having a medical emergency should count as rape, even if that’s not how you viewed it.) D:

          April 18, 2018
          |Reply
          • Saint_Sithney
            Saint_Sithney

            Thank you <3 It took me years to view it as rape, because he was a master at gaslighting, but once I did I was like "waaaaait…"

            The worst part about it was that he would brag about sending me into a seizure and egged me on to brag about it too, because it was triggered by an intense orgasm. I asked him to stop because I was overwhelmed, but he kept going, then I began to "seize", all the while crying and begging him to stop (I could still sort-of speak, since it was dystonia, not a true seizure). Instead he made me count the number of orgasms I had in total out loud (57. I'll never forget that number). For him, it was apparently exciting and made him feel super-manly and virile, but for me, it was torture.

            April 19, 2018
        • Jamoche
          Jamoche

          I used to work with… call her Millie, for Milli-Cathy. She told us she’d left her previous software teams because of sexual harassment, and that’s a totally believable thing, though really unlucky to have so many of them, so we were all sympathetic.

          Then it becomes obvious she’s overstated her skills, to the point where our team lead is getting ready to write her up, when she blindsides him with a sexual harassment claim. Now, he was also my office mate and workout partner – there was literally never a day when I’d left work before him, though plenty of times she’d left before either of us. And our offices have glass walls and face each other – everyone on the team can see everyone else. So when HR calls me in to ask about her stories of him calling her into his (our) office, alone, unobserved, after hours…

          Yeah. That story of why she’d left every previous job didn’t seem so plausible anymore.

          April 29, 2018
          |Reply
  24. Cat
    Cat

    I dated a man whose ex-wife owed, at that time, something like $20K in child support. She went to jail for it, briefly, but was let out relatively early due to overcrowding. I can’t imagine that would be enough to keep Cathy out of MI, especially considering she doesn’t appear to drive so being caught is low risk for her.

    That being said, sounds like she has nothing to come back to MI for. That is one of the most tragic parts about this story. It went on for years but nothing and no one exists the minute the greyhound bus takes her away. She forgot her friend had a child. I’m willing to bet she didn’t see her own child during this visit.

    Out of everything you’ve said about this person, I find the most horrifying part to be that she’s had more children. I sincerely hope that Martin’s father has a partner in his life that fills the roll of mother for him. I don’t think you need two parents (I was raised by a single mother and the ex I mentioned above did a marvelous job raising his daughter alone from the time she was 2) but when you have a Cathy for a mother, it just breaks my heart and I want you to have so much love and support that you forget about her far more than she forgets about you. I also feel terrible for the other children she had.

    I’m sad these installments are over because they were very riveting and entertaining for someone completely outside, but I’m glad the story is, for the most part, over for you and your Kalamazoo friends.

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • Cat
      Cat

      Oh, also, shout out to Wallace’s mother who was clearly not taken in by this woman at ALL but saw through her bullshit.

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Indeed. She’s a better mother than Cathy could ever be.

        April 18, 2018
        |Reply
  25. Cristin
    Cristin

    I will never, ever stop being glad she’s out of our lives. She is an absolute travesty. I am thinking back to that dinner now. Man, I cannot believe I had forgotten it. I feel like my brain has purposely shut out a bunch of stuff from times with her. You know, I don’t think very often about how much how I look at other people changed because of my experiences with her, but they really, really have. How do you attempt to love and be kind to everyone when there are Cathy’s out there ready to succubus the fuck out of your life and the lives of everyone you love. There were so many times when I said nothing because I was not sure how she would retaliate, even when I knew stuff wasn’t right. Eventually, of course, I told her to fuck all the way off, but that dinner. It was so clear. She doesn’t care who she hurts, exploits, lies to. She doesn’t care. And I am so relieved that I don’t have to deal with her anymore. If she comes here? I would have no problem calling the police and letting them know, so they can arrest her on that bench warrant. I am 100% unafraid to do so now. The need to keep her from harming the son she abandoned and from harming any of us would be worth making the call.

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I’m just wondering how many people she pushed over the edge at that call center. There’s a Dorothy Parker story about someone who visits a friend recovering from an implied abortion with complications, and by the time she’s through “comforting” her, the woman is having a nervous breakdown.

      April 17, 2018
      |Reply
  26. When I got to the part about Kathy stealing someone’s rape for pity, I thought that was the most deeply loathsome thing she could do. And then I got to the part where she decided to pretend her child is dead.

    HOLY. FUCKING. HELLSHIT.

    I’m sorry she was a part of your life. In the past few years, I too came to the understanding that friendships can be abusive relationships. I think we’re all primed to understand and recognize abuse in romantic and familial relationships. But abusive friends can slide past all our defenses and the instincts we develop from our experiences with romantic/familial abuse.

    I’ve seen people–abuse survivors especially–really, really damaged by abusive friends. I, and so many people like us, develop strong instincts about whether or not someone is “safe” when we do the hard work of healing. That used to be a cold comfort for me. I’d been abused, but hey at least that abuse gave me the ability to sense if someone was harmful.

    And then I found out that a friend I trusted and loved with all my heart was a serial abuser who harmed and preyed upon many women in my community.

    It was devastating to realize that, no, my suffering had not gifted me with an ability to recognize abusive people after all. It was one of the most painful lessons I’ve ever learned. Friendships can be deeply abusive, and we are more vulnerable to that kind of abuse because it’s not a concept we’re taught to guard ourselves against.

    I’ve been reading this series of posts for all the bonkers drama, but damn, you’re telling a really important story. Friendships can be just as abusive and damaging as any other relationship. And it is not our fault that we can be and have been abused by our friends.

    April 17, 2018
    |Reply
  27. Kaiya
    Kaiya

    Does anyone else ever read these and have a little fear that they might be someone’s Cathy?
    I assume all Cathy’s are sure that they are the victims, none of them would think that they are hurting those around them. Right? Cathys don’t know they are Cathys. So I am a Cathy? How do I know?
    I don’t think I am. I haven’t done anything here but maybe I’ve done something. I am not good with social anything’s and step on toes sometimes, and whenever I notice or the person yelps I leap away and apologize, but maybe my apologies are shitty, and maybe I don’t know what it’s actually like to step on someone’s toes so I’m always doing it and can’t see it, and maybe I’m not trying hard enough to over come my social shittiness to be good to those around me in the way I want to be. And no list of shitty Cathy behaviors will ever be comprehensive because they’ll always invent new ways to be shitty in the same patterns, so it doesn’t matter if I can say that I would never do any of that, but Cathy would probabally say she never did any of that either.

    She was so horrible, no one should have to deal with someone like that. I’m really sorry you had her in your life (and that she was so horrible) and that she had tiny impressionable humans around her. It is very heartbreaking.

    April 18, 2018
    |Reply
    • Cat
      Cat

      Does everyone in your world exist to take care of your needs? Are you incapable of working due to medical issues that seem to only affect employment but not things you actually want to do (terrible knees that do not preclude steep high heels and lots of dancing, for instance). Are other people in our lives props for you to use for whichever personality you are presently portraying? If a friend comes to you with a grievance, do you turn it around on them? Do you take your friends’ stories and make them your own for attention? Do you tell lie after lie after lie?

      I absolutely think you would know if you were a Cathy. For one thing, you wouldn’t be worried about it but, imo, would most likely just feel superior to other people and smirk at stories like the ones Jenny has told.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      If you’re worried about it, you’re not a Cathy.

      Anyone can be a pain in the ass sometimes. If you’re a creative person, on the spectrum, had a dysfunctional background, etc., you may struggle with social skills. You may have trouble knowing what to do in certain situations or reading other people’s emotions.

      That is LIGHT YEARS away from being an amoral shit incapable of guilt or empathy.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
      • “if you’re worried about it, you’re not a Cathy.”

        This is a very important sentence and deserves to be emphasised. The primary marker of a Cathy is that they simply don’t care if others get hurt by their actions and they cannot understand why they should.

        April 20, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Cathys don’t know they are Cathys.

      Most Cathys do know. The denial is to absolve themselves. They might feel guilty, but they turn it around so that they’re never to blame or the other person is horrible, mostly to save face and to keep from having to accept that they’ve done something awful. Even though life is rarely black and white, they will never properly acknowledge any wrong-doing, offer lip-service at best, and give apologies that are more about misunderstandings than actual mistakes. They didn’t step on your toes: you got your foot in their way and now you’re just milking this fake pain that you feel. How dare you condemn them for being careless? Essentially, their reaction says a lot about how they view others and how they actually treat them. They’re paranoid because they assume other people are like them and are only trying to trick them or harm them somehow. They suck up everything good and only spit out garbage if someone asks for reciprocation. They prefer to surround themselves with good people who do care because other assholes are useless to them.

      If you can accept the responsibility for your actions and attempt to treat other people with respect, consideration, and genuine sympathy, then you’re a much better person. We all have flaws and make mistakes. If you can acknowledge them and truly want to improve, you’re not a Cathy. Especially since the Cathys of the world do know on some level that they’re lying. Even a Narcissist knows. They just won’t admit to it unless they’re feeling especially smug, secure, and think you can’t do anything about it, and even then many won’t admit, but they know. Most people think they’re the hero in their own story, it’s how we function, but a Cathy explicitly fabricates their own story to tell others so their villainy can be hidden because on some level they know their behavior isn’t acceptable. They don’t give a shit about other people but they care about what other people think of them because a Cathy can’t manipulate someone who is aware of what they are.

      To be a Cathy, you can’t care about anyone but yourself. Ever. If they express any sign of altruism, it’s only to make themselves look better.

      If you ever worry again, ask yourself in your own mind, using your name, some questions and maybe that can give you some perspective. “Did Kaiya do anything that could be considered illegal or psychologically damaging to this person? Has Kaiya gone out of their way to lie to save face? Is Kaiya doing the best they can?”

      And sometimes we don’t like what we find out but life is about progress.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
      • Kaiya
        Kaiya

        Thank you all for your responses. I can’t even understand what it might be like to step on someone’s toes and not say sorry. It eats me up to the point of can’t sleep. Which then makes me think that I lack the capacity to empathy to understand Cathy, which is…sort of part of the Cathyness of Cathy…and then it’s a rabbit hole of am I Cathy.

        It’s very odd to think that a narcissist knows. Why would you be that way if you know you’re that way…wouldn’t you want to be better? It makes me sad for them and angry for everyone they interact with.
        (It also makes me sad because it means for the primary Cathy in my life nothing I can do can help…and the right thing for me is to step away and stop fighting.)

        April 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Which then makes me think that I lack the capacity to empathy to understand Cathy, which is…sort of part of the Cathyness of Cathy…and then it’s a rabbit hole of am I Cathy.

          I think you’re overthinking things. Consider that there can be culture shock just from visiting another country. Is it possible to understand the differences between the two? Yes, of course! People all over the world are amazingly alike and also very dissimilar. Will you be able to fully understand their way of thinking? Not always. Sometimes you can know about something and never fully know the reality of it because it’s just so different from what you’re used to.

          As another example, compare an extreme extrovert and an extreme introvert. While it’s possible to recognize how each one works, they could never fully comprehend the other side. Extroverts are energized by being around other people and introverts are energized by being alone. Now, there is often overlap, most people aren’t utterly one or the other because, like many things in life, it’s really a sliding scale or spectrum, but its such a big difference in experiencing the world.

          And that’s not even considering that people have different experiences regarding sight, smell, taste, and sound, which can lead to different preferences regarding food, clothing, and music. Basically, there are a lot of people in the world that you might never fully understand and empathize with and that’s perfectly normal. Something as simple as vehemently hating strawberries could surprise and confuse you, so why is it that different when it comes to understanding Cathy? You’re never going to completely empathize with her or anyone else like her and that’s okay. 🙂

          Besides, people like Cathy understand empathy on some level. They manipulate through guilt and you can’t do that unless you understand how guilt works. You don’t seem like that kind of person, especially if you agonize over stepping on other people’s toes.

          (It also makes me sad because it means for the primary Cathy in my life nothing I can do can help…and the right thing for me is to step away and stop fighting.)

          Sadly, that is often the case. These people may feel regret and remorse, maybe, but unless they actively admit that they have a problem and they want to change, they’ll continue doing what they’ve been doing. Nothing is impossible, but it’s highly unlikely if they’re a serial abuser, and since they’re manipulative, there’s also a chance they’ll lie about wanting to become a better person too. You can hold onto hope but do so with a lot of discretion and from a safe distance. It’s possible you’ve done everything that you can and that this person is unlikely to reform. I’d suggest, before giving them any second chances, get some second opinions from people who know both of you, people who aren’t under their thumb. If your friends think it’s hopeless, that’s probably a good sign to give up and move on.

          You can’t change other people, even if it might be for their own good. They have to want to change! Then they have to find some methods that will work for them, and they need to put in the effort to see new results. If they can, it’s a much better achievement anyway, but not everyone is prepared to do that. Some people are going to be miserable assholes their whole lives and that’s just life.

          April 18, 2018
          |Reply
        • Audree
          Audree

          Kaiya, not to pry (or armchair diagnose, which I guess I’m doing anyway, sorry), but . . . you wouldn’t happen to have some sort of anxiety disorder, would you? Because this sounds a lot like the panic spirals I get into when I start worrying — sometimes I feel trapped inside my head — and I actually found myself thinking the same thing, reading these posts and comments. Because maybe I /am/ Cathy. It’s possible, right?

          Like I said, I’m not trying to sit here and tell you how you feel, but it struck me as familiar to my own experience as an Official Anxious Person. (And of course you’ve seen in these responses lots of good arguments that you’re not a Cathy; I don’t know if it helps you to be told that this fear isn’t rational — not invalid; validity and rationality aren’t the same thing — but it helps me when I start freaking. So if it does, and if you can’t stop worrying about it no matter what people say: that’s okay, but it doesn’t mean the things you’re worried about are true just because you can’t shake them. You can trust the objectivity of internet strangers on this one: you seem like a lovely person.)

          April 23, 2018
          |Reply
          • Kaiya
            Kaiya

            Yes, and on the spectrum. Which feeds the anxiety.

            It does help to know that I’m not the only one who worries about it. It won’t stop me worrying but it will give me ammunition to fight the spiral. Thank you.

            April 23, 2018
  28. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    It was your blog that made me realise I had an abusive friendship, it gave me the language to identify the issues that I couldn’t put into words and the realisation that I needed to end it. i still miss that friend, I don’t have many friends and losing one was hard, but I know I’m better off without them. Sometimes I think about restarting the friendship, but I know nothing will be different because they don’t think they did anything wrong, I’m the horrible person who mistreated them.

    Thank you for all the time you spend deconstructing books/shows and showing how things are good/bad/abusive etc. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. You shouldn’t feel guilty, and I hope one day you can be clear of that guilt.

    April 18, 2018
    |Reply
    • Cat
      Cat

      (((hugs))) I’m sorry you don’t have many friends but the abusive person was never really your friend. It might feel like you have a void left over caused by your separation/friend breakup, but really, you just cleaned house a bit and made room for more love and friendship to come in the future. And that is what you deserve, love and friendship unadulterated by abuse.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Contrary to what our elementary school teachers taught us when they used Group Work as a substitute for basic classroom instruction and basic classroom discipline, you don’t have to get along with everybody. You don’t NEED many friends. Like the Marines, a few good ones will suffice.

        April 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jemmy
          Jemmy

          Thank you both 🙂 I don’t have the knack for making friends, I’m not quite sure what I do wrong but there it is. It took far too long to realise what you said Cat, that they weren’t a friend at all. Gaining a friend was something unusual, I think I put up with being treated badly because I felt it was my failing. Reading Jenny’s 50SoG posts made me realise it wasn’t just me being a bad person, my friend was also in the wrong.

          Violetta – my husband has a need to have everyone like him and doesn’t understand how I don’t have that hang up. I pointed out I don’t like everyone so why would I expect everyone to like me 🙂 I thought I’d found someone who liked me for who I was (very rare), but I was wrong.

          April 19, 2018
          |Reply
  29. lfc
    lfc

    my incredibly toxic ex best friend has re-entered my life after I struggled to cut them out of my life and heal from their emotional abuse. they are now having a child with one of my partner’s siblings, so you know, there is no escape for me. I’ve been struggling a lot with this…we just recently had our first child, so the protection I feel over my life is even more so now that I have someone else to care for. your posts have been really helpful in terms of me figuring out how to voice this abuse and concern to my partner as well as given me strength to be firm in my boundaries. but, of course, this won’t be an easy situation to navigate, but I’m grateful for the space you’ve created and your openness with what you’ve been through.

    April 18, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Can you move to a place where visiting will be inconvenient, even if you can’t change jobs and get out of state?

      A suburb on the opposite end of the city is always good. No one wants to deal with the freeway at rush hour or on holiday weekends. Certainly better than having Strychnine Susie pop in from across the street whenever she likes.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Well, on the upside, if they’re truly terrible, it’s entirely possible the relationship won’t last. Toxic people have to move on if the situation is no longer favorable for them to exploit.

      Just stay strong, make sure your partner is firmly on your side, and figure out who else in the family can provide support for you if this asshole tries to cause trouble again. Your best bet is giving them enough proof of your integrity, when you can and if they don’t already know, that any future lies will be suspicious. Obviously, that’s kind of hard to get across but remain yourself, continue being as helpful and considerate as your busy schedule will allow, be friendly with the family members that you like, don’t force yourself to attend a family event that you have good reason to believe won’t turn out well for you (offer a reasonable excuse as needed), and be honest when you have their confidence but try to keep from sounding like you’re trying to turn them against this person.

      Also, if you feel like it, offer to be helpful when possible towards the sibling in question once the baby is born (but only to a certain extent, you have a kid and a partner to be with, no need to stress yourself out by shouldering every burden and interacting with the ex friend when you don’t have to.) If the sibling doesn’t actively dislike you, for whatever reason, they’ll probably need as much help as they can get (if they aren’t an asshole themselves.) But that’s only if it doesn’t conflict with your own well-being. It might be better to avoid them and let the rest of the family deal with any potential requests for assistance. I’m just thinking that if Toxic disappears and they’re left picking up the pieces, trying to help now might smooth out the wrinkles faster, especially if your partner is close to that sibling. But this is all pure conjecture on my part and obviously, circumstances determine how considerate it’s worth being.

      Regardless, I hope things go well for you and that you can safely limit the amount of interaction that you have with Toxic. No one likes shitty in-laws, especially if you already know the depths of depravity possible.

      April 18, 2018
      |Reply
    • You might find some good suggestions over at captain awkward’s advice column. She’s answered many questions from people on how to deal with toxic and abusive people.

      April 19, 2018
      |Reply
  30. Mary
    Mary

    “She told me something I’ll never forget: it’s not just romantic relationships that can be abusive. Friendships can, too.”

    This. This times a thousand. This story has been really healing for me. I cut out a toxic friend about five years ago, and still feel guilty about it every day. The girl was nothing like Cathy — she wasn’t vindictive. I don’t think she was aware of what she was doing. But because of her own insecurities, she just constantly set the people around her up to fail tests of friendships that they hadn’t been aware they were taking.

    It would go in a cycle: I would mess up in some unanticipated way, she would call me out on it, we’d go back and forth until I apologized, and then she would wait [x] amount of time to forgive me. It was NEVER just as simple as apologizing. No. I had to listen to why she was mad, what I had done that was so wrong, and admit to any number of personal failings.

    The last round was the end of it. She was upset because I’d started a new job and didn’t have as much time to talk to her. I was getting tired of constantly being the bad guy. I was putting in 14 hour days working with at-risk youth and didn’t have the emotional energy to defend myself from imagined slights. I found myself letting more and more of her calls go to voicemail. She defriended me on facebook, requested that I not contact her again. Then, when I didn’t immediately fall over myself apologizing for my negligence, she started to walk it back. After a couple months, she started to text me and say she hoped we could someday be friends again. Then, a few months after that, she sent an email saying she forgave me. No real apology. No reflection of her actions. Just — I forgive you. Let’s pick up where we left off.

    I never responded to her email. We’d become friends when I was in college. By the time she sent the last email, I was in my late 20s and was finally old enough to understand that there was a pattern to her behavior that was never going to change. There was a reason so many of her friends were online. There was a reason that, after seven years, I was her oldest friend. Eventually, people got tired of her tests. I got tired, too. And even knowing this, even knowing that I was being gaslighted and talked down to, I *still* feel guilty for stepping out of the cycle.

    IDK, man. Friendships can fuck you up. Thank you for sharing this story. It’s made me feel better about being so profoundly fucked up by a non-romantic relationship.

    April 18, 2018
    |Reply
  31. Zev
    Zev

    I was eager to read this and wondered if I should wave goodbye to my blood pressure. I didn’t need to, but I took nearly twenty-four hours to comment, which is a good move for me. I look forward to rereading these posts, along with your 50SOG ones, which I do each year or more.
    I just–I–Cathy makes me–I’m so glad you got out. What am I supposed to say that hasn’t been said on here? She’s a monster. Every time she does something awful and leaves me reeling, she swoops in to do something even more awful, and I increasingly lack sufficient words to how this makes me feel. She’s just–I–(shakes head)

    I recognized myself in small ways, in some of these posts. Others were shockingly different from me, for which I was grateful. Mine are the ‘passive-aggressive, refuses to ask for help,’ type ones. Not–lying about absolutely awful–or like, I’m never gonna be able to haunt someone’s house (that was terrifying. Laundry used to be my favorite chore), but–yeah, I see myself in her in some ways, and I’m trying to change.
    That noted.
    My closest friend for four years, starting when I was twenty-one, was a Cathy. I didn’t realize it at -all- until this post, when Cathy was twisting her reality around so much, and convincing herself–and using her friends–words fail me again. For years, I was convinced she had a mental illness, and I say this as a mentally ill person. My heart broke because her family insisted she pray her symptoms away, and insisted to her that she was fine and normal.
    CONTENT WARNING: MENTIONS OF SUICIDE
    I made the difficult choice of calling the cops at three in the morning when she said she was going to kill herself. I still feel deep shame. (Cops here aren’t friendly to anyone except those who look like and think like them.)
    Okay, “Lips of An Angel” by Hinder just started playing on my Pandora. That’s her favorite song and I’m sad.
    My friend called me later, laughing hysterically. “Are you feeling better from last week?” Me: “What?” Her: “When you said you were gonna hurt yourself till you died. I thought about calling the cops. (giggling). They’re going t–” Me: “(says her name sharply) I have to go.”

    She called me a few nights later in the middle of (what I thought until recently was a split with reality, which she tended to have a lot), then calmed down and started talking about dolls “because you’re afraid of them.” Me: “Yeah, I don’t like them and would rather not talk about them.” Friend: (cheerfully tells scary doll story, not understanding why I’m getting upset) Me: “(Friend), I want you stop.” Friend: (giggles and continues) Us: (repeat three more times) Me: (Friend)! If you don’t stop, I will have to hang up the phone!” Friend: (whines at me for being mean)

    Now I’m wondering–was it just really, really high-level manipulation? It–might be -because her family hasn’t said a damn word, and I’m still friends with her sister.- I’m a huge jerk for being friends with her sister still, I think. But her sister’s not–like her at all. I’m not sure, but I think I was manipulated somehow and am frustrated.

    April 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Passive-aggression is a relatively common coping technique. You’re not alone with that fault, so keep improving and consider it a general issue. 🙂

      Now I’m wondering–was it just really, really high-level manipulation? It–might be -because her family hasn’t said a damn word, and I’m still friends with her sister.- I’m a huge jerk for being friends with her sister still, I think. But her sister’s not–like her at all. I’m not sure, but I think I was manipulated somehow and am frustrated.

      It’s hard to know for certain. It’s possible it’s a double-whammy of mental health issues and a horrible personality combined, but it could be she was just pure evil all along. Regardless of the exact truth, she was clearly toxic and you don’t owe anyone friendship. It’s good that you cut her out of your life.

      As for remaining friends with her sister, don’t feel guilty about that. Your genuine friend can’t choose her family the way you can choose your friends. I consider it a blessing that this toxic person didn’t ruin your friendship with the sister. And wouldn’t this woman, who probably is a good friend if you were willing to stand by her, be upset if you’d abandoned her when she didn’t do anything wrong?

      Toxic people might be offended that you’re interacting with a mutual acquaintance while ignoring them, but that’s their own doing. She didn’t have to call you in the middle of the goddamn night to tell you a scary story and she suffered the consequences eventually. Whether it was mental illness or pure wickedness makes no difference. Her family apparently thinks she can be held accountable since they tell her that she’s normal, and it’s their fault if that’s incorrect and she needs help but they probably know her better than you do. Even if they’ve screwed Toxic over, that’s not your fault and not the fault of the sister either since sis isn’t an authority figure; the parents are. You’re just bystanders who suffered collateral damage.

      If you’re really curious, you can try gingerly bringing up the topic with the sister and without trying to place blame, see if you can uncover more clues that might hint at manipulation through-out this person’s life. Sister has probably seen the wheels in motion for a very long time, if that’s how this individual operates.

      April 20, 2018
      |Reply
      • Zev
        Zev

        I just want to say thank you for such a kind, thoughtful comment. I’ve thought about it in depth since you posted it, and just–thank you. I figured out what I will say in the e-mail C (the nontoxic sister) sent. She will type “my sister is sad you haven’t called” from time to time, and my forthcoming reply will include, “E must not remember the last conversation we had.” Equally cold and passive-aggressive, it’s–all I have at my disposal at this point, when it comes to friendships like this. Sigh. Thank you again for your support.

        April 30, 2018
        |Reply
  32. Athena
    Athena

    I’m kind of wondering if Cathy really did forget you had a child. When I first read that it felt more like an excuse to why she was there. Like she completely forgot you even had a son, so there’s no way she came there just to see you and hopefully bum money from you. She just happened to walk to a coffee shop without money to pay for anything. The only flaw in this is the fact most people would have just said that they’d forgotten you came to this coffee shop, but we’ve already established Cathy is not most people.

    All this has made me remember my own personal Cathy. At first, I just thought she was a little odd when things were off. Her whole family was that way in different respects, especially her mother, so I just figured she came by it honest, and it was nothing too bad. I worked third shift, still do, and if I had to cancel on meeting up too many times because of being tired, she’d accuse me of trying to avoid her. Her mother then sold me this sob story about how her daughter couldn’t keep friends because they couldn’t handle her chronic illnesses. Bad knees and severe allergies., those were the two main ones. I would come to learn what the real reason was.

    Then my Cathy would randomly shun the friends she did have because they’d offended her somehow. I got shunned for over a month because I’d forgotten to call her on her birthday. Actually, in her mind, she’s probably shunning me right now. She told me she’d call me but never did, it’s been at least five years. I was just relieved it was over at that point.

    I saw her through one “serious” boyfriend, and the man that became her husband. Serious Boyfriend apparently said that if they dated a year he could see himself marrying her. (I only met him once the entire time they were dating so I have no idea of his side of the story.) My Cathy started collecting things for the wedding. She went completely wedding crazy. Her room in her parents’ house was stuffed with decorations and doo-dads. She even had a dress. It was a prom/debutante dress that had been on sale, I’d been with her when she bought it, but it was white and princessy and just what she wanted. Then the year anniversary rolled around and guess what? No proposal. She dumped him that very night.

    Future Husband, I actually got to see a few times. My Cathy waited until she was actually proposed to before going wedding crazy this time. When I mentioned something about her acting like she had the last time, she got mad and twisted it to me saying that her fiance was like her ex, instead of it being a comment on her behavior. I just wanted her to take a step back and think. She was completely enamored over the wedding, and I got the impression she wasn’t thinking about what being married would mean after the big day.

    Turns out I was right, two years almost to the day after they were married, she tells me they had a big fight and she told him that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be married to him anymore. She didn’t give me any reason except they’d had one fight. No talk about abuse or anything like that. So, I replied, “Guess what? The honeymoon’s over and you’re still married.” I knew that’s what the problem was. She’d gotten bored, it wasn’t like what she’d expected. They went to counseling after that and as far as I know are still married.

    Towards the end of the friendship, I got the feeling I was being used as a chaperone. My Cathy had a lot of male friends, most of them ex-boyfriends. I don’t believe that men and women can’t be friends, but I started to get the feeling she enjoyed being around men that couldn’t have her for the attention.

    The thing that made me realize there might be something wrong with her came not long after the honeymoon talk. She called me ecstatic because she and her husband might be adopting a little girl. (She wasn’t able to have children.) She went on and on about how sweet the little girl was and how her father really liked her and her husband. Then she said, “Her mother’s in prison, but he told us not to worry. He’s going to trick her into signing over custody.”

    Nothing I could say over the phone could get through to her, she just wouldn’t hear me. A few days later, when I finally got to talk to her face to face, she told me that the father had decided on some other couple. I told her how fucking lucky she was, about how the mother might have been able to sue if she could prove she’d been tricked into signing away custody. Not to mention the fact that she had no idea what the mother was in for. She could be a very dangerous woman if she got out. My Cathy frowned at me and asked my why I didn’t say anything? I told her that I did and she wouldn’t listen. She told me that I needed to make her, making it my fault she didn’t listen to me.

    I stayed friends with her for another year or two, but my work schedule got in the way and we started to drift, which she took personally, and I’ve already told you how it ended.

    April 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Yeah, this woman sounds pretty immature with the wedding. She sounds like a little girl that buys and dress and wants to play pretend she’s having a wedding because she watched a Disney movie or an episode of her favourite show that has a wedding in it and she just wanted a dress up and a party and maybe the cutsey thing they show in the movies. But life is not like that, no matter what some poeple and internet would say even the most compatible people can have disagreement or a fight once in a while, because someone was tried or there was a rough patch in life, or they were stressed over something. If ONE, not continous BUT ONE SINGLE FIGTH is enough to end marriage, then it was a play pretend not relationship

      April 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        This is very likely how Jenny’s Cathy saw motherhood. Even after dumping her son & then pretending he was dead to get sympathy, she still sees herself as Earth Mother holding photogenic-but-organic Gerber Baby. Any baby who cries when she wants to sleep to support her smarter-than-Hawking brain, spits up sour milk on whichever sofa she’s using alternately for free-bleeding and cheating on her current relationship, has an attack of explosive diarrhea just after he’s been laboriously changed following the last one, or spews projectile vomit all over her broomstick skirt and pentacle jewelry interferes with that self-image, which she refuses to recognize as a fantasy. Between image and infants, you know which comes first.

        God only knows how she treated the four cats.

        April 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • HerImperialMaj
          HerImperialMaj

          What Jenny’s Cathy wanted was that Twilight baby. Das Sporking (great site!) talked a lot about how Bella wanted desperately to be a Mother Goddess, posing with her baby and having everyone around her (baby included) tell her what an amazing mom she was. But she also wanted to go hunting, wear her new designer clothes, and have days-long marathon sex with her husband.

          Hence, the Twilight baby: because she’s maaaaahjickal, she’s completely intelligent, can feed herself, sleeps through the night, never fusses or cries, entertains herself, will allow anyone to hold her, and most importantly, she adores Mommy more than anyone else in the entire world even though Bella has spent less time with her than anyone else in her life.

          That’s *exactly* what Cathy wanted. She wanted no responsibilities, no sacrifices, no stress – only an accessory that would praise her and win her praise.

          April 22, 2018
          |Reply
          • T.
            T.

            My sister was the same way (no surprise that she’s also a fan of both the Twilight books AND the bastardized 50 Shades of Vomit). When she was pregnant with her first child, she wrote in the baby’s book that the best part of being pregnant was all the attention she was getting. Not “feeling a life growing inside me” or any of that stuff. She would also tell me (who chose not to have kids), “Until you have children you have no idea what it’s like to be a parent!” To which I would reply, “You don’t need to be a pilot to see the plane is going down in flames.” Because her kids were an excuse to get attention. She wanted to be their best friend and act like a teenager with them, but when it came time to discipline, they pretty much gave her the finger. It should also be noted that most of her kids wound up repeating a year of school, and her eldest has turned out pretty much just like her — jumping from one guy to the next, fighting various addictions, and unable to hold down a job. Oh, but “do not tell me how to raise MY CHILD.” At least my sister isn’t as bad as Cathy — although I know someone else who comes close.

            When I shared the story of Cathy with my friend Sara, she gasped and said, “That sounds like Brittany!” Brittany is Sara’s friend; they have known each other over 13 years. Brittany is married and has two children. About two years ago, she decided that her daughter had ADHD. She has since upped it to Asperger’s. She also decided her son had it, too. Brittany joined all these online support groups and would use this as a tool to get attention for herself, making dramatic posts about how challenging it is to be the parent of a Special Needs Child (and would include photos of her kids in their designer clothes). Last year, she planned a trip to Disneyland and even contacted the park to make sure she and her kids would get to the front of the lines because they were “special.” Sara, who used to work at the park, said that they would just go into a separate line designated for OTHER “special” people, but that didn’t mean they would not have to wait their turn like everyone else. Sorry, Brittany!

            It should be noted that these kids were never OFFICIALLY diagnosed (Autism runs in my family; my half-sister has Asperger’s, so I take umbrage to people who lie about having it). According to Sara, who has known them all their lives, they are just over-privileged, under-disciplined little monsters who are now being brainwashed into believing they have a disability. Which, in the long run, will be damaging to these children.

            But, wait — there’s more! In the last two weeks, Brittany was caught cheating on her husband, Chris. She had insisted upon being a stay-at-home mom while Chris worked two jobs, but once the kids started school, she started screwing around. She used Sara, too. “Hey, I’ll come over to your house and we can hang out!” and then after about twenty minutes she suddenly had to leave…but oops, she had forgotten her phone. A few hours later, she returned to get it. Okay, that happens — but when it happens again, a week later? Mm-hmm. Sara isn’t stupid so when she confronted Brittany, Brittany confessed to having an affair. She was leaving her phone at Sara’s house deliberately so Chris would think that’s where she was. She then gave Sara her password and told her “pretend you’re me” and respond to Chris’ texts if he tried to reach her.

            Thankfully, Sara wasn’t going to play along, because she is also friends with Chris and hated seeing what Brittany was doing to him. So the next time it happened, Chris didn’t just text and call — he showed up at Sara’s with the kids in tow, having traced the phone. Of course, Brittany was not there. Chris got Sara to help him track Brittany down. He had Sara drive the kids while he took Brittany’s car (after finding it parked outside her lover’s house), since it’s in his name. Chris also had Brittany’s phone turned off, and said he was filing for divorce.

            Brittany came home that night. Sara got a text from Chris saying that she had apologized and “it will never happen again” and that they were going to patch things up. Yeah, right. Two days later, Brittany said she was “just going to the store.” Chris found her right back at her lover’s house. Now, he really is filing. I hope he gets sole custody of the children and I told Sara, “Make sure he informs the court of Brittany lying about the kids having all these disabilities,” because that? Is child abuse.

            (Side note: Folks, no matter how bad shit gets between you and your Sig O: do not sit there and talk trash about him/her in front of your children. Do not refer to your wife as a “cheating cunt” in front of them, especially when they’re under age of 10 and don’t know what’s going on or why Mommy hasn’t been coming home.)

            So, now Brittany will not have those children to use anymore to make herself look like Super Mom. Any mother who does that shit does not deserve kids.

            April 22, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            @T:
            “she wrote in the baby’s book that the best part of being pregnant was all the attention she was getting.”

            Wow. Some people have admitted that after all the morning sickness and bloating, at least it’s nice to have boobs and have their skin clear up, but I’ve never heard anyone blatantly admit that being catered to is the OBJECT, rather than a nice fringe benefit.

            April 22, 2018
  33. Gabi
    Gabi

    It did not hit me until this that I have a Cathy in my family.

    My godmother/aunt to be exact. She would lie to other family members, turning them against each other. Manipulated my grandparents (her in-laws) to a point that they would be afraid of even accidentally offending her.

    As for my godfather/uncle, she would keep her under her thumb all times. She wouldn’t work at all, not even housework, either her husband or later the kids would do it.

    She would call me whiny and spoiled when I was a kid – which I probably was, but her daughter was ten times the spoiled princess than I was.

    She had cheated on her husband over and over and he would still let her live in their shared home, whenever she would get bored and go back. I do not think either of the kids (or granddaughter! She has grandkids!) talk to her anymore. I do not know. Two of the three kids are pretty much Cathys in making themselves, and the middle one fucked off god knows where.

    My godmother would lie about how great her job was (I mean… She worked at a factory in a very harsh, exploitative enviorement but she would claim she is earning lots of money to save face I guess). To be clear this was not a case of shame of not wanting to disclose – she was proud and would be straight up lying to everyone and brag about what a great career is she having there.

    She would lie about her age – but as her children got older saying how many children does she have and how old they are that would be a hindrance. So she would straight up claim she only has one kid and when one day the eldest showed up unexpectedly, and called her mom in front of friends, she would claim that he is from her husband’s first marriage she just raised him and thats why he calls her mom.

    Needless to say, my godfather did not have a first marriage.

    April 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • T.
      T.

      This particular story about Cathy has been so therapeutic for so many of us. Thank you, Jenny, for giving us a chance to open a dialogue about our own Cathys.

      And I want to hug everyone. Seriously.

      (((((GROUP HUG.)))))

      April 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cris
        Cris

        *Enthuthiastically joins group hug*

        I too am super glad that you decided to share this whole very intimate story with us, Jenny. Much love :).

        April 22, 2018
        |Reply
    • Zoe
      Zoe

      Seriously, this was both upsetting and deeply cathartic, and I appreciate the posts. It’s actually convinced me to see a therapist about my mother, and to cut her out of my life – at least until I take time to heal. Like, so much of it was hauntingly familiar, but the thing that tipped me over the edge was towards the end – reusing your own phrasing, recounting very personal, VERY private traumatic moments as her own – *that* is the shit that stuck with me the most.

      It feels like Cathy Behavior is not about telling falsehoods in order to trick you. It’s about dictating what reality everyone around them must live in. Two examples:

      1. My mother is bizarrely obsessed with convincing me and my siblings that my father tricked us and we don’t know “her side,” regarding their divorce. The thing is – it was sorta my fault. Long story short, I accidentally uncovered some less-than-tasteful photos meant for a man who wasn’t my father, in front of the family. Yet she insists this never happened. She has told me during the divorce that my father isn’t my biological father. Yet she insists she’s never been unfaithful.

      2. Pretty much every interaction we have these days involves her “finding out” I’m queer, and bawling her eyes out, threatening suicide (more on that in a sec). I’ve been with my SO and pretty, well, visible for nearly two years now. They’ve met repeatedly. And yet, I’m freshly dead to my mother each and every time we speak. It’s fine that she does this to me, but I love my partner so, so much, and they don’t deserve this.

      I’ve had nightmares about my mother finding out about my PTSD. Once, as a teen, I confessed to her I was feeling suicidal, and her immediate response was to one-up me. She still regularly throws back my phrasing of those feelings, in relation to me not calling enough, or my dad ignoring her calls, or my being transgender. I’m so ridiculously AFRAID of her getting personal information about a certain event that happened to me, because I so desperately don’t want to relive what happened. It’s not like I got an arm blown off in a war, but like – it’s part of my life. I get anxious if doors aren’t closed and locked, or if I can’t see a path out of whatever building I’m in. The thought of my mom having that information and utilizing it scares the shit out of me.

      Reading about Cathy made me realize how unbelievably toxic this sort of relationship is. Sorry to give so much personal info! I started venting and I don’t quite know where to edit it down to a reasonable length! But this post was awesome and you’re all awesome and group hugs all around.

      April 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • HerImperialMaj
        HerImperialMaj

        You might want to check out JustNoMIL on Reddit. A lot of the posters are talking about narcissistic mothers, not just mother-in-laws. They’re very supportive, and they have tons of helpful advice about getting therapy and locking down your life so that she can’t weasel her way back in.

        April 24, 2018
        |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Zoe,
        First of all: ****hugs****

        We’re all family here. We’ll help you get through this as best you can with as much help you want from us. By all means, take whatever you need and ignore what you feel doesn’t apply for you.

        On your Mom’s suicide: if she ever says it again where (hopefully) there’s a witness, then call social services and say she’s threatened suicide. They’ll take her away for observation for 3 days. This happened to a friend of my wife: His elderly Mom wasn’t getting enough attention as his Dad was going blind with the onset of dementia. So his family re-arranged the furniture so Dad could get around easier. Well, Mom didn’t like this one bit so she arranged it all back to suit her, causing Dad to fall several times. The family complained, she felt ignored, so she threatened suicide. Rather than “buy into” mom’s crap, the friend’s brother promptly called social services and Mom had to be put into a hospital for 3 days for observation. Let’s just say she never pulled that s***t again.

        It takes a lot, but to be able to get away from Mom’s emotional crap is huge. It will take time, but you will get out from under her control. Once you do, there’s nothing she can do to hurt you and you can love your sweetie to your heart’s content.

        When you’re ready for it, one step will be to take your Mom’s statement when you’re ‘freshly dead’ to her as a deadline. From then on, she’s dead to you, too. When she calls, just tell her “Zoe isn’t here.” And that’s all. No matter what she says, Zoe isn’t there because to her, Zoe is dead. Never engage in any conversation or explanation. Zoe is dead (to her). Period. She’ll yell and scream, but you have to ignore it and not ‘buy into’ her crap as she’s trying to manipulate you. Don’t be. If she ever sees you in person, ask her, “Who are you?” When she says “I’m your mother!!!” you just say, “My mother told me I was dead to her, so she is dead to me. No matter what she says from then on, you can just respond “My mother is dead.” And turn and walk away.

        Don’t do this until you’re ready. But once you do, stick with it and you’ll be free of her.

        Of course, I may be full of it because I don’t have all the details, but get some professional help if you can. Maybe there’s a better way. But there’s more than one way.

        You deserve it.

        Best of luck.

        ****hugs*****

        April 24, 2018
        |Reply
  34. Oh…my…God. I thought my Munchausen friend who copied my endometriosis was bad! I can’t seem to find the last part, is it here?

    May 9, 2018
    |Reply
  35. Shazbod
    Shazbod

    Through your twitter comment I went searching worst person. Sat down on my bed with a brew at 9 and started reading. Its now 10.30 at night and i’ve become so entirley engrossed in your story that when i couldnt find the epilogue I went googling high and low. But part of me doesnt want to know. I’ve just, in reading this notices similarities in a long running friendship I have but have never been entirely comfortable with. I need to think. And i didnt even drink my tea!

    May 9, 2018
    |Reply
    • I’m here for exactly the same reason – searching Worst Person. I am absolutely gobsmacked, and a wee bit comforted. I feel like we’ve all had a Cathy on several different levels.

      May 10, 2018
      |Reply
  36. Jessica
    Jessica

    I’m hear because of your Twitter comment. OMG, she is truly the worst. Did you ever write Part 11, can’t seem to find that? I really want to know how Sam is doing…

    May 10, 2018
    |Reply
  37. Emma
    Emma

    I had a ten year abusive friendship. I’ll never forget when my own therapist said the exact thing to me, about friendships having the capacity to be abusive, as well as romantic relationships. It was like everything finally made sense. I have the same issues when meeting new people – panicking that they might turn out to be like *my* version of Cathy. But it did teach me a hell of a lot about human behaviour and what I will and won’t tolerate in future. I try to take that as a positive!

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
  38. NeoCleo
    NeoCleo

    I just read this in one fell swoop. I recently read a book about psychopaths that stated that one in every 25 people in the United States is a psychopath. It’s lower in most other countries. In England supposedly it’s one in every 100 people. Regardless, I feel like I’ve run into more than my fair share of them in a lifetime here in the US.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and especially for doing it in your delicious prose style. I feel validated somehow. Can’t wait for the last installment.

    June 21, 2018
    |Reply
  39. Melting in TX
    Melting in TX

    Ok I have to ask Jenny, what coffee shop were you in that told Cathy they had to order or leave? Out here in the incredibly hot state of TX I’ve been in several Starbucks and never seen them ask anyone to leave even if they clearly set up camp, brought their own food and drink, and planned to use the free WiFi all day. Lol I always wondered why they didn’t insist they order something or leave. I’ve seen it happen in some of our smaller locally owned coffee places too. So I’m dying to know what coffee place you were in that actually said something to her!!

    It’s prob weird that I’m hung up on that one tidbit of information but meh that’s me. 🙂

    July 31, 2018
    |Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *