Skip to content

The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Epilogue): What Happened To Sam?

Posted in Uncategorized

So, we’ve come to the final installment of this series. This is probably the hardest one for me to write because it’s difficult to examine a person you once considered your friend, know all the reasons for the spiral out of control they experienced, and still not want to rekindle that friendship now that they’ve got their shit together. But people have been asking for this part. So, here I go.

If you’ve missed out on the story so far, here are parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.

After Cathy had finally left town for good, it was up to Sams’ friends to help pick up the pieces. The problem was, so many of us had our own pieces to pick up and not all of us were on the same side.

I did my part my part by being emotionally on-call fulltime. Eleven o’clock at night and Sam needs a shoulder to cry on? I’ll get out of bed and race right over. Middle of a family event? Sure, let me excuse myself to have a long phone call. Was this healthy or fair? Probably not, but there isn’t a handbook for how to deal with the wake left by such a toxic person. Plus, I carried an incredible amount of guilt over the fact that if it hadn’t been for me, Sam would have never met Cathy in the first place. I felt crushed by the responsibility.

Unfortunately, around the same time, I got sick. I developed Fibromyalgia shortly after the birth of my daughter and I had surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor from my neck and spine. My husband quit his job to care for our kids and myself. The fact that we were both at home all the time looked to most people like we were living in some kind of trouble-free paradise, so when Sam’s house flooded––he hadn’t realized his new rental was in a notorious floodplain––some of our other friends called on us to help move his things and to adopt his four cats.

“We can’t break them up,” one friend explained to me on the phone. “They were littermates and they need to stay together.”

At the time, I had three cats of my own. “I can’t afford to have seven cats. Not even temporarily.”

I was seen as unreasonable and uncaring for putting my foot down and stating that I would not take on four additional animals while I recuperated from surgery, struggled with an undiagnosed illness, and took care of a new baby, all while my husband was out of a job and I was the sole earner for the household.

We were also unwilling to help move him. Again, this was seen as unreasonable because Sam and Cathy had helped us move from our Grand Rapids apartment and into our house. But I’d already said that after having helped Sam and Cathy move from a house to an apartment to another house to Sam’s house, we were done. Even without my physical issues, I refused to engage in the near-constant game of musical rentals Sam had become mired in.

At least, he had a place to go. He’d begun dating a woman who owned her own house and had no issue with him moving into her spare room since her roommate had just moved out. I questioned the wisdom of this arrangement. The woman, we’ll call her Anna, had severe Cathy tendencies of her own, fuelled by the alcoholism that was enabled and encouraged by her own circle of friends. I hadn’t met her, and Sam asked if he could bring her to dinner at our house.

“She’s really, really allergic to cats. She’ll die from even a little bit of cat hair,” he explained.

I looked around at my three cats. “Maybe this isn’t the place to bring her, then?”

“No, it’ll be fine. Just clean up and vacuum the furniture.” Sam had begun to sound a little more like Cathy every day. But I wanted to stay friends and help him through his tough time, so I scoured the house and eliminated any bit of cat hair, closed my cats off in a room, badly burned my hand making a huge dinner, and waited for Sam and Anne. They came separately, with Sam arriving before Anne.

“I don’t get it. She was right behind me,” he said. He called her and found that she’d taken a wrong turn, despite never having to turn off the state highway to get to my house in the first place. Sam explained, “She’s really bad at directions.”

But it wasn’t the directions that had been the problem. Anne turned up reeking of alcohol. She’d gotten lost because she’d been driving drunk, and she’d brought an unopened 750ml bottle of Sailor Jerry rum with her, as well.

Sam passed it off as her being “buzzed.”

With my burned hand wrapped in gauze, we sat down to dinner, just Sam, Anne, my husband, and I. Anne barely ate anything, but she drank the entire bottle of rum in under twenty minutes, after which she ran to the bathroom to vomit. She came out and belligerently blamed it on my subpar cooking. She wanted to leave. Sam drove her back in her car, thank god.

When I tried to talk to Sam about Anne’s drinking and driving, he justified it by saying she did it all the time and had never had an accident or any trouble. I suggested that getting so drunk she’d gotten lost while following him was an instance in which she did have trouble, but he wouldn’t budge. He used the old “safer driving drunk than sober” excuse and I realized any further discussion on the subject would be fruitless.

Sam’s relationship with Anne didn’t last very long but he did continue to live with her. In the meantime, he had casual sex with some of our platonic friends, which was a thing that just happened and nobody really found weird; we’re all pretty sexually free people and before I was in a monogamous relationship with my husband, I’d had a lot of casual sex, myself. Never with Sam, though I was beginning to feel that he saw it as only a matter of time, even though I was married. I’d begun to grow uncomfortable with remarks he made about our female friends, but again, my guilt at having introduced him to Cathy forced those feelings aside. I had ruined his life, I reasoned. I had to stick it out and try to fix it.

While still living with Anne, Sam met a beautiful, funny artist who I am still friends with and very fond of to this day, and whom I will refer to as Becky because it’s a name that doesn’t fit her in any way and will protect her identity. She was everything Anne was not. Namely, sober and invested in Sam’s well-being. She encouraged him to draw, a passion that he’d had to somewhat abandon during his relationship with Cathy, as she’d dismissed his endeavors as pointless. He and Becky shared a sketchbook, passing it back and forth between them in funny art challenges.

But he kept having sex with Anne.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked when he admitted this to me. “Becky doesn’t deserve this. Anne is a mess. You need to move out and cut ties. And you need to be honest with Becky.”

I can’t remember if he ever told Becky that he’d been cheating on her, but he did move out, into a house with no roommates. Things seemed to be getting on the right track, but Becky realized that the relationship would be far more work than she was willing to invest. After trying several times to make things work, they broke up.

This set the stage for a parade of girlfriends that lasted a few weeks each at most. With each one came the expectation that I would become close friends, as close as I had been with Cathy. But I knew they weren’t going to last and frankly, I became very rude when faced with them. He brought one along to my house without warning me he was bringing anyone, then launched into a sales pitch for her. I cut him off and addressed her directly. “I’m sorry, but I have enough friends right now and I’m not looking for more.”

As expected, two weeks after they’d begun dating, Sam told me they were “working on their relationship.”

“If you’re two weeks into a relationship and it’s already requiring serious work, it’s not going to be a successful relationship,” I warned him. I found myself passing out that warning a lot. Everyone in our social circle was tired of the routine, and we were tired of trying to spend time with Sam only to have him glued to his phone in long text conversations with whatever woman he was dating at the time.

Going to breakfast? Sam was going to spend it obsessively checking his phone.

Going to the movies? Sam would have to excuse himself several times to check his phone.

Having a party? Sam would definitely be there, but if his flavor of the week couldn’t attend, he’d spend the entire time sulking on your couch, phone in hand, texting like mad and ignoring everyone around him.

But we all understood that he was hurting. We tried to ride out this self-destructive phase and offer support. For me, the fatigue of listening to his constant romantic woes was starting to outweigh the guilt I’d felt over introducing him to Cathy. It was clear that what he was looking for was an instant leap back into the level of intimacy he’d had in his marriage.

For a moment, it seemed like he would get better. He started a podcast and had success booking some fairly well-known comedians. He moved into a smaller apartment so he could afford the recording equipment and investment of his time. He went back to school.

Then he met Cathy Two.

“I met the most amazing woman online,” he told me. She lived in Seattle. She had a huge apartment downtown and an incredibly successful white-collar career. They shared many of the same interests and were already talking about a cross-country visit.

There was just one problem: Cathy Two was married. She was separated from her husband and in the process of getting a divorce, but they still lived together.

“How long have you been talking to her online?” I asked, expecting to hear that they’d known each other for weeks, or maybe longer. I wanted to think she was the reason he’d made so many positive changes.

“We met on a message board this last weekend and we talked on the phone last night for five hours,” he gushed. “We’re in love.”

The end of our friendship moved very fast from that point. Once again, he tried to force interaction between Cathy Two and I, only relenting when I accepted her Facebook friend request. He went to Seattle for three days to meet her. When he returned, he informed me that he was moving there to live with her.

I exploded. All my frustration at his recent bad choices poured out of me. I realized I was no longer supporting a friend through a difficult time but enabling someone who was making incredibly destructive decisions and I’d had enough.

“This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done,” I told him. “You want to break into comics or acting! If you want to make a big change, move to L.A. or New York. Not Seattle. Not to live with a woman who isn’t divorced yet and who you’ve only known for a couple of weeks!”

Then I hung up. Instantly, I started receiving Facebook message notifications.

A lot of them.

It was Cathy Two, scolding me for being a bad friend and hurting Sam’s feelings. I was trying to hold him back. I was jealous. I wanted him for myself. I’d never been a good friend to her (we’d never met in person and had never spoken, even to comment on Facebook statuses in the week since I’d friended her). I was unhappy in my marriage so I was trying to sabotage their relationship. She wouldn’t let me take Sam from her. Message after message, growing more and more frantic and threatening, at such a rate that the sound effect for the notification couldn’t keep up. It stuttered and interrupted itself until my computer crashed.

By the end of her tirade, she’d sent me over a hundred messages. In an hour.

I finally managed to get my computer to work long enough to block her. Then I called Sam, absolutely furious.

“She loves me and she’s trying to protect me. What you said was very hurtful.” His tone was incredibly cold.

“You’re really going to throw away fifteen years of friendship because I’m the only person who’s willing to tell you the truth?” I demanded. And in that moment, I realized that it didn’t matter anymore. He didn’t matter to me anymore. The person who was once my friend had become a one-sided obligation, wanting everyone around him to give him endless sympathy for the problems he continued to create for himself. And everyone was giving him that validation that he craved. We were no longer friends and hadn’t been for a long time. I’d just been a crutch.

A couple of weeks after that fight, one of our mutual friends tried to persuade me to patch things up with Sam. “I know that chick kind of Swim Fanned you, but he’s not even with her anymore.”

I was shocked, as you can imagine.

After our friend-breakup, I started hearing from some of his recent exes. One of them told me that Sam had made comments about how I would “eventually” have sex with him. Another said he referred to two of our mutual friends whom he’d slept with as his “mattresses”. This was a side of Sam that I probably had seen but simply hadn’t wanted to acknowledge. I’d been so caught up in blaming myself for bringing Cathy into everyone’s lives, I’d been making excuses for the cheating and the terrible, almost deliberately destructive choices he’d been making.

I closed the door on our friendship and never looked back.

Recently, someone told me that he’s gotten remarried to a woman who is great for him. He is healthier, mentally and emotionally. His life has completely turned around.

“That’s great,” I said. “I still don’t want to be friends with him.”

A few weeks after I started writing the series on Cathy, Sam sent me a message through my public Facebook. All it said was, “I miss you. I’m sorry.”

That’s great. If you’re reading this, Sam, I still don’t want to be friends. “I miss you. I’m sorry,” is not an apology. It’s saying that you want back into my life because of negative emotions you feel. You want to be rid of those negative emotions and absolved of your guilt. I don’t owe that to you by rekindling a friendship that became toxic and untenable. If you recognize and regret the behavior you displayed toward me and the other women in your life at that point, I’m glad. You should. Hopefully, you’ve corrected those attitudes.

I’m not angry at you. I’m sad that a person I considered a friend only considered me useful in his life until I acted the way a friend should act by cautioning you away from a bad choice. I’m sad that our friendship ended the way it did and that I brought Cathy into your life. I will forever be sorry for that, for the physical and mental abuse you endured from her. But you apparently spent most of our friendship seeing me as a sexual goal despite knowing I was happily married and despite the fact that my husband considered you a trusted friend. You degraded other women, ones who had trusted you enough to have sexual encounters and relationships with you. That means I can never trust you again, no matter how much you may have changed.

I still don’t want to be friends. Please, never contact me again and don’t come here to read my page. I found your timing creepy and invasive.

A note to my readers: I will forever be grateful to the friends I made through Cathy, the support we were able to show each other, and the friendships we have now. That chapter is thankfully behind us.

I wish I didn’t care about whatever Cathy is doing now, how she’s undoubtedly hurting other people. I heard through the grapevine that she’s had more children. Hopefully, she leaves them before they’re old enough to remember her, so they don’t experience the trauma her first son did. But I’ve learned a hard lesson through all of this: I can’t save the world from toxic people. Cathy is still out there. She’s probably still destroying lives. And there are millions of other Cathys doing the same thing.

I hope that next time, I’ll be able to recognize the signs. And I hope this story might help some of you recognize them, too.

61 Comments

  1. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a friendship is end it. Not every friendship has to last forever.

    It hurts and it sucks and it’s sometimes impossible to get over the ripples that continue, but it’s still sometimes the only option.

    <3

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
  2. Heather C Leigh
    Heather C Leigh

    I dumped a toxic friend once. It shocked me how much better I felt once she was gone. We met in college and our parents lived near one another, so during the summer, we also hung out.
    She was the most insecure person I’d ever met. Constantly freaking out about her boyfriend(s) cheating, how men will cheat no matter what, and always dropping hints that my boyfriend(s) were surely cheating too.
    She was shocked when I dumped her. I was shocked to find myself feeling lighter, like a shroud of misery lifted from my shoulders.
    Best thing I could have done.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Milady
      Milady

      Didn’t dump my toxic friend, we just slightly drifted apart. I sometimes still see her horrible facebook updates and all I can think is “not my problem anymore!”. It’s incredible how better I feel.

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • Caitlin Nolan
      Caitlin Nolan

      I dumped my “Cathy” somewhat by accident. By happenstance we didn’t see each other for a couple of weeks, and I realized I was strangely anxiety-free and in a way better mood during that time. Then I put two and two together and cut her off entirely. Best decision.

      May 15, 2018
      |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      I did the same and I was really surprised and shocked that I felt LESS guilty all the time than I did when I was constantly listening to him bitch and moan about how terrible his life was, and trying to help him through it.

      He did struggle with mental health problems, but adamantly refused to get help or help himself. Instead, he tried to force me to take on the role not only of a counsellor but also the stuff he really should have been doing to help himself. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% understand that depression is an absolute bitch for stealing your ability to do even the smallest thing some days, but this guy refused to entertain the idea of trying even when someone held his hand.

      I was 300 miles away, going through some pretty serious shit at work and was pregnant and not feeling great. But if I didn’t respond to his messages straight away, I’d come back to a tirade about what a terrible friend I was, who was never there for him. A couple of times he blew up, unfriended me on Facebook and blocked me. Then started messaging me a few weeks later as if nothing had happened. By this point I’d be feeling so guilty about being such an awful friend he didn’t want to be around me, that I’d redouble my efforts to be there for him. But it was never enough for him and I felt guilty all the time and believed him when he told me I was a selfish, lazy, terrible friend.

      I went off social media for a long time because I simply didn’t have the mental energy to spare. I was struggling with my new baby and her health issues, I’d lost my beloved grandmother and had a lot of other crap happening – the shitstorm that went down at work was so bad it was leaking into my maternity leave – and was having a really tough time.

      The day I returned to Facebook was my birthday, which happened to be a few days after my friend’s. Another friend had the same birthday as me, so I posted her a message: “Happy birthday, birthday twin!”

      My toxic friend saw it and all hell broke loose. He posted a long, shouty reply about what a terrible friend I was because I remembered this woman’s birthday but had missed his earlier in the week. For context, we were never close friends, had never acknowledged birthdays before and it apparently hadn’t even occurred to him that it was MY birthday that very day.

      That’s the moment when I realised how one-sided our relationship had been.

      He knew I’d been going through hell, but every time I tried to tell him what was going on, he’d change the subject back to himself. I never had a word of sympathy, support or acknowledgement of what I was going through from him, yet if he didn’t receive all that and more from me then I was a terrible person. He expected me to listen to his long midnight rants, yet ignored my messages about things that were happening in my life. Thinking about it, I realised he never once asked me how I was. Never mentioned or asked about my baby or my job. Never said he was sorry to hear about my granny. Never asked me what I was up to, what I had planned.

      His scolding message ended with the words, “You call yourself a friend. You’re no friend to me at all.”

      I replied, “You’re right. I’m not your friend. I’m just someone you use as a free counsellor. Well , I’m not one.”

      And I blocked him on everything and never spoke to him again. The funniest thing was I expected to feel guilty as all hell for rejecting him like he used to do to me. I did not feel in the slightest bit guilty at all.

      May 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        Damn, Xebi! Many cheers and hugs for you escaping that toxic relationship!! I hope you’re doing well now, and you deserve as much love and support as you gave to this friend. It’s too bad he wasn’t there for you the way you were for him. I’d count myself lucky to have you as a friend. ❤️

        May 16, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          Aww! Thank you!

          May 17, 2018
          |Reply
    • I dumped a toxic friend after a decade of being spellbound and gaslit by her profoundly excellent manipulations. Her husband, too. And the relief, the weight off my shoulders, was incredible. I had no idea.

      July 8, 2018
      |Reply
  3. Vince
    Vince

    Big hugs to you. You have handled this with maturity and grace – even your outburst was far nicer than it sounds like he deserved.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
  4. Gretel
    Gretel

    I hate that it ends like this…with broken friendships, deep trauma, and emotionally brutalized children. But that’s reality. The Cathys will continue wreaking havoc. The only thing we can do, in fact, the only thing we owe ourselves and the people we love is protection. Never ignore the red flags, never ignore the deep gutfeeling, never think you’re paranoid. People with years and years of experience with abusive people know instantly when they meet a new Cathy and we should trust that instinct.
    Not everybody deserves our doubt or second chances. Cathys do NOT deserve attention or the benefit of doubt.

    In all your entries with Sam I thought that he’s a perfect example of co-dependency. By being with a horrible, toxic person he himself becomes toxic. Usually, people like Sam already have emotional trauma that makes it possible for Cathys to be effective in the first place and then these deeply hurt people become abusers themselves because they cannot cope with problems unless it’s by being damaging to others themselves.
    He reminds me of my mother.
    Yes, she had a shitty childhood. Yes, she married a horrible man and was emotionally, sometimes physically abused. But so were we, the children. And she was, no, IS not only co-dependent, she’s highly abusive herself. She’s able to see all the flaws in my progenitor (I don’t call him father) but doesn’t see that she’s so, so much like him. In fact, to a certain degree, she was worse, completely unhinged (threatening to kill me or hurt me with knives, hot irons, scissors, etc.; breaking things, screaming at me at the top of her lungs for HOURS), suffocating, gaslighting, manipulative, narcissistic, etc. etc.

    My mother was a victim, yes. And in return, she became an agressor. And this is what I see with Sam.
    And sometimes these kind of wounds can’t heal and can’t be forgiven.

    I didn’t want to be so negative with my comments so I’ll end by saying that I’m sorry this has happened to you and that I’m glad that you were able to build a great support system. You and your family deserves happiness.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Adrienne
      Adrienne

      Gretel, I’m sorry you had to live through this, but I’m glad you lived. You are a blessing to the world. I wish I could hug you. My abuse came from friends, teachers, and family who took advantage of me, or tried to convince me I was nothing. I’m still trying to actually tune all the voices out. I admit that the worse abuse I’ve suffered is that which I did to myself. A horrible death in the family has changed my perspective on things. On one hand I want to join him on the other hand I want to honor him, by living and do what he believed I could do. Write and touch peoples hearts, make them feel loved, and less alone.

      I want you to know you are not alone, and that I thank you for your strength, and for sharing a part of you self with us. I love you.

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Zweisatz
        Zweisatz

        I’m not Gretel, but back at you, Adrienne. Stay strong, you can do it.

        May 16, 2018
        |Reply
        • Adrienne
          Adrienne

          Thank you Zweisatz, that means so much. Today is not a good day for me. I’m hanging in there though.

          May 16, 2018
          |Reply
    • It sucks when abused people become abusive in turn.

      My cousin was supposedly a funny, bright, interesting person before she met and married her abusive husband. After years of marriage and two children, she finally divorced him, but the damage had been done. Now she is horrible, angry, with a hair-trigger temper. She berates everyone and is incapable of seeing anything positive in the world.

      It sucks and i wish there was a way to help them, but sometimes all you can do is cut them out of your life and move on.

      May 15, 2018
      |Reply
  5. Jenny, I am so sorry you had to go through this—especially since it went on as long as it did. I would imagine that reliving it through writing these posts hasn’t been easy, no matter how cathartic it turned out to be. I hope all of your current friends have been there with extra hugs and extra words of encouragement for you while you’ve been reliving this.

    In my early/mid-twenties, I had a similar experience. I became friends with someone from work who turned out to be one of these toxic people and ended up incorporating her into my existing group of friends. Between faking an eating disorder; binge drinking; car accidents (due to the binge drinking); dating the sweetest, most inexperienced guy in the group and then cheating on him with another guy in the group; and many other all around toxic shenanigans, I felt so guilty over ever befriending her and introducing her to the group.

    That was until I figured out that the entire group was pretty toxic itself, feeding off of negative energy and unhealthy relationships with each other. Fortunately, I moved several states away after a couple of years and lost contact with all of them. There are still times now, twenty-odd years later, when I wonder if maybe I was the toxic one and they were all normal. And then I look at the relationships I’ve built since then, that have flourished with love and hope and support and encouragement, and I realize how fortunate I was to get away from that group when I did!

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • HerImperialMaj
      HerImperialMaj

      I congratulate you for having the self-awareness both to look inward and ask yourself if you were perhaps the toxic person and to recognise that no, you did your best and you’ve had better relationships since then. Many aggressors never stop to realise what they’re doing wrong, and plenty of victims never relent on blaming themselves.

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • I think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to toxic people–they have little to no self-awareness and never question their own actions to see if how they’re acting is hurting others.

        May 14, 2018
        |Reply
  6. Evil!Blonde Bitch
    Evil!Blonde Bitch

    Big hugs to you Jenny! This experience was clearly very difficult for you, but you handled these friendships with a grace I hope to someday achieve.

    I do not have a Cathy in my life, fortunately, but when you talked about Sam’s behavior, you reminded me of someone I have in my life. This woman — I’ll nickname her Sabrina — exhibits the same type of behavior. She constantly has several men and women that she’s in relationships with at the same time, and is often in a state of drama over them. She’ll have a “boyfriend of the month” but break up with him a week later. There is always drama with her. Last week, she blocked a member of our friend group that she was dating and refused to speak to him when he joins us on outings. She told me that it was because he cheated on her.
    Sabrina is dating nine different people at the moment, but it was apparently unforgivable for him to kiss another woman at a party.
    I don’t have patience for her drama and frankly don’t engage anymore. She wants attention, and I often feel bad for not giving it to her. I’m never openly hostile, but I try to make it clear that I don’t want her friendship. She’s in my friend group, though, and good friends with my best friend, so I can’t cut ties with her without splitting the group. I know Sabrina is a toxic person. My best friend knows it. But he has a soft spot for people who seem like underdogs, and many of his relationships (romantic and otherwise) have been very toxic. He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, and though I fight it, I pity Sabrina too. That kind of pathological need for attention and the reckless behavior she partakes in won’t end well for her. My only hope is that she’ll leave the group on her own once we all stop giving in to her demands.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      Please don’t feel guilty for not giving her antics attention. She doesn’t deserve your attention if she’s going to act out like that.

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        I know that, logically. You’re absolutely right, Sigyn. But, like Sam, Sabrina is very, very good at the pity/guilt tactics. I fight it with all my might, but at the end of the day, she’s good at making me feel bad for not giving her something she wants. Fortunately, I’ve leaned into my more “bitchy” side recently, in part thanks to Jenny’s fantabulous blog, and I’m reaching the stage where I’m starting to be plain fed up with her attention seeking bullshit. I’m trying to train myself out of the guilt things. But thank you for your support.

        May 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Adrienne
          Adrienne

          I can’t reply to your other comment for some reason. So I’m giving you hugs here. *hugs* *hugs* *more hugs!*

          May 14, 2018
          |Reply
  7. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    Oh wow. I’m sorry your friends sucked so bad.

    Re: Sam and Anna/Anne: yikes. I know people tend to have patterns in regards to their romantic partners, that whole “devil you know” thing. But still.

    the old “safer driving drunk than sober” excuse? Am not familiar with this.

    I’d begun to grow uncomfortable with remarks he made about our female friends, but again, my guilt at having introduced him to Cathy forced those feelings aside
    ^ and I’ll bet he was exploiting that.

    a passion that he’d had to somewhat abandon during his relationship with Cathy, as she’d dismissed his endeavors as pointless
    ^ I can’t stand people like that. What’s the point of being someone’s significant other if you’re not going to be supportive of them? I mean, yes I’ve been paying attention to the kind of person Cathy is, but it still grates on me.

    I don’t agree with Sam’s behavior, but I understand how he became the monster as a defense mechanism, or even just out of habit.

    Okay no, if he’s going to be on his phone all the time, it’s high time to start excluding him from things.

    …oh no, not Cathy Two.

    But you apparently spent most of our friendship seeing me as a sexual goal despite knowing I was happily married and despite the fact that my husband considered you a trusted friend. You degraded other women, ones who had trusted you enough to have sexual encounters and relationships with you. That means I can never trust you again, no matter how much you may have changed.
    ^ *APPLAUSE AND SUPPORT FOR JENNY!!!*

    Oh yes, this series has been incredibly enlightening. I’m working on a show that does basically the same thing about people who have been toxic towards me, and it also calls out my own bad behavior from the past. I think things like this are essential in helping others recognize what is and is not tolerable, and to help people come together & commiserate. I’m grateful that none of my Cathy’s lasted as long as yours did in my life, but I’m also sorry for your sake that you went through all of that. It sounds like you absolutely went out of your way to be the best friend you could be to people who didn’t appreciate it and whose negative reaction to you pulling back for your own health & safety says a lot more about them than about you.

    Thank you for trusting us enough to share this with Trout Nation. You’re a goddess.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • HerImperialMaj
      HerImperialMaj

      the old “safer driving drunk than sober” excuse? Am not familiar with this.

      ^ If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the same thing people say about driving high, that because you know you’re intoxicated, you’re going to be more careful than a sober person grown complacent.

      You may recognise this defense as NOT THE WAY THIS WORKS.

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yeah, it’s a flawed concept. If your mind is altered, you’re still at high risk for making stakes. Being extremely sleepy is similar to being drunk and people don’t recommend driving that way at all.

        The reason the saying could make any sense is that a drunk driver is so physically relaxed that when they hit another car or truck, they’re more likely to survive the collision… but they’re still going to kill the other person. So it’s better to be considerate instead of justifying bad decisions. 😛

        May 15, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Whoops, typo! I meant to say making mistakes.

          May 15, 2018
          |Reply
  8. T.
    T.

    “But I’ve learned a hard lesson through all of this: I can’t save the world from toxic people.”

    You have perfect timing. This chapter came out just as I’m dealing with one of the most toxic relationships in my life, which is (finally) coming to an end. For me, it’s my younger sister. We used to be close as children but after our parents divorced, and our abusive father remarried to a manipulative bitch who makes Sybil’s mother look tame, things were never the same. There is an almost 4-year difference in our ages; on my birthday, C. would always get presents “because she’s just a baby, she doesn’t understand” but on her birthday I would get nothing (“because you’re old enough to know better”). My mother would admit, about 15 years ago, “You went without so C. could have” and has apologized to me regularly for playing favorites and spoiling my sister so much that she grew to believe that the whole world owed her something and that her shit didn’t stink. C. was the one who, at 14, boosted a car and crashed it into a neighbor’s house. C. was the one sneaking booze and doing drugs and having sex with our much older stepbrothers before she was 16. But hey — I was the bad one because I spent all my time playing Dungeons & Dragons and writing science fiction stories (which was “boy” stuff). And don’t get me started on how I was mocked when I announced I was bisexual and did not believe in God.

    I had already left home and was with my then-partner when C. was still in high school. I had tried to make amends with our father, to forgive him for what he had done (physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually abusing me until I was 12). When my maternal grandmother (with whom I was very close) passed from cancer in ’88, my father ghosted me. I decided I would not waste another moment of my life on him and moved on. Around that time, C. had joined some rock-and-roll church (although she was still sleeping around and without protection; I once asked her, “What about AIDS?” and her reply was, “I was washed in the blood of Jesus, I won’t get AIDS!”). She began to preach to me about “honoring thy mother and father” while calling me a LIAR for saying our father had raped me. Later, our aunt — his younger sister — would come forward and tell C. “Believe her, because when he was 16 and I was 8, he did the same things to me AND our little brother.”

    Nevertheless, C. and I had stopped talking for a few years until the day she showed up on my doorstep, pregnant by a married man (and felon) and claiming that no one in the family supported her. The baby-daddy was leaving his wife (and their newborn son) for C. Well, I pulled her into my arms and told her all was forgiven, and on the night she went into labor, I drove from Grand Rapids to Flint to be there when she gave birth. (It should be noted that Baby-Daddy was not at the hospital for a few hours because he was back at their apartment, banging C.’s best friend, and later left C. for that woman when she got pregnant; there is a warrant out for him for not paying child support for any of his offspring.)

    While C. was still with Baby-Daddy, she came to visit me and met my friend and neighbor W.; after I went to bed, they wound up having sex on my sofa. C. soon moved out to Grand Rapids (with the baby). She and W. shacked up until they eloped to Las Vegas (because she just HAD to be married in the same chapel where Bon Jovi got hitched; she also told her daughter that Bon Jovi was her real dad, later admitting it was “all a joke”). Because she had to get a job and didn’t have daycare, my partner and I volunteered to help out. C. was happy to take us up on it because it meant free child care for her, but she made us swear “no witchcraft around MY CHILD because I am raising her to be Christian” (she also said that she would teach her daughter that women are to be subservient to men).

    Per our word, we never performed any rituals around my niece. But when the toddler became fascinated with dinosaurs, C. went off on us for encouraging her to believe in lies (to which I responded, “Then you better send her to a religious school because kids are going to laugh at her if she shows up claiming that dinosaurs never existed!”). C. stood outside my front door screaming at me until I threatened to call the police. Then, right around Christmas, we were on the phone and I heard her beating her little girl (she had put the phone down and I could hear her shouting, the child screaming, and the blows). This is a severe PTSD trigger for me, and I berated her for it. Her reply? “Until you have children, you have no idea what it’s like to be a parent.” Yeah, well, I know enough as a child abuse SURVIVOR (we BOTH are, and one of the reasons I didn’t have kids was because I feared I would turn into an abuser; C. fulfilled that prophecy on her own).

    Another few years of silence ensued. The only time I heard from C. was when she called to announce she was pregnant with her second child. I didn’t care. But when W. showed up one October morning in tears, we found out C. was having the baby — and that it might or might not be his, because C. had started sleeping with J., a co-worker (married, with four kids). And this guy was separated from his wife but living with C. and W. in their house. C. had barred W. from the hospital and J. was there for the birth and had claimed paternity, but to this day they don’t know for sure who the father is. C. kicked W. out and divorced him, and J. and his large brood moved in. For a while, even his first wife lived with them, until their divorce went through.

    One day, after reading “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay, I decided I would go to C.’s house and tell her that while I did not condone the things she did, I forgave her and set her free. I did not expect to reopen the relationship, just to have closure. C. burst into tears; she threw her arms around me and said she was sorry. Then she invited me in to meet my new niece. The reunion with my eldest niece was more emotional as this child — now six — never thought she would see me again (we were very close; it was a joke that she was so much more like me that I should have been her mother). I also met J. and his family. J. is very traditional Mexican and I could see the effect it had on my sister.

    Everything was okay for the next two years; C. got pregnant with her third and final child, and I (by then an ordained minister) married her and J. just before the birth. I was also there to help deliver my youngest niece, and I got to name her. Everything seemed fine. We had not had any issues, other than J. suggesting that I was playing favorites with C.’s eldest child (which was not true — HE treated her like shit because she was not HIS, and C. was so afraid to lose him that she would not defend her daughter; that girl grew to be a fucked-up adult with relationship issues and addiction problems). I should mention that J. is also bipolar but self-medicates with booze, and he’s a mean, violent drunk. Once, I had been called out to their house by a hysterical C.; I raced across town, got the kids out of the house to the neighbors’, and then had to work on calming J. down (he had C. by the throat at one point, and his teen son had to wrest a knife out of his hand). I told C. to call the police but she was so scared J. would be deported so, no cops. Yes, J. is an illegal — two of his children were brought over here as children from Mexico; one is now legal and the other is fighting for DACA. For the record, I support DACA and I have no problem with Mexicans — I do have a problem with abusers, and J. is very abusive.

    When a mutual friend AND my mother both reported seeing evidence of my eldest niece being mistreated, I was the one who called CPS to investigate. C. and J. found out and there was another period of silence. I don’t remember when it ended or why, but J. never trusted me again. Well, not until I came into a little money and shared my wealth. Suddenly, I was their favorite person. I also began to find out all the shady things C. and J. were into; the scams, etc. I saw how they would “borrow” money from their children (birthday gifts from grandparents), and spend it on stuff they didn’t need (the kids got to the point where they just handed over the cash). Their house was always moments from being snatched out from under them (I had to write TWO letters of hardship to the bank for C.), but they just HAD to have that big-screen TV and that new video game system! And all the kids had the latest iPhones, too. And they had to have new cars! Meanwhile, I was driving an old clunker my folks had given me and when it died, I had asked J. if he would handle the transaction for me because I was sick and the car parked by their house. I made a deal with a guy over the phone and he would give J. the money. Without calling me first, J. sold the car for $50 under the agreed price. I felt I had every right to be upset but C. and J. got angry and said I was overreacting, that they had been doing this for me out of the goodness of their hearts and I had inconvenienced them. They had offered to give me $50 from their own pockets but with a load of guilt attached. This led to yet another period of silence.

    Again, I don’t know what reopened communications between us, but we patched things up — except for one slight hiccup where C. got distant for a month until I confronted her and she hit me with accusations of “you think I’m stupid, you think I’m ugly!” (things I have NEVER said to her; I told her that these were coming from within her and she was using me as a scapegoat). But after that? Everything was great. Peachy. As long as I was buying food and gifts, and helping them out financially, and dropping everything to give my now-teenage nieces rides home from school or to football games…yeah. Super-duper. C. and I even discussed going into business together making jewelry and selling it on Etsy. I invested over $700 total in the venture, got cards printed up, etc. Then C. lost interest and I was facing credit card debt. Good times…good times…

    A few years ago, C. started getting chummy with our father again. They had a falling out when, on the day she graduated high school, he announced “my obligations as a parent are now fulfilled” and walked out of her life. That was around the time he won the lottery for $7M and C. was kissing up to him as much as possible to get whatever she could (I never wanted a dime) but then he cut her off, cold. When our paternal grandmother died, C. encountered him at the funeral and they started talking. After that, our father (and stepmonster) started visiting Grand Rapids every summer, staying with C. for the duration. I was alarmed, not understanding how she could have this predator of little girls in the house with her two beautiful young daughters. And worse, she would start talking to me about him, trying to humanize him, and relaying stories about ME that he had told her — stuff I do not remember but basically he was trying to rewrite my life. Did I mention my father was my first experience with gaslighting? Yeah. They were also talking trash about our mother, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (I saw it coming for years but C. said “Mom is faking for attention”). This made me angry, and I told C. she had no right to talk about me OR our mother to that man.

    When Grandma died, our aunt volunteered to move in and take care of Grandpa for the last three years of his life. My father owned the house; he had purchased it for his parents when he hit the lottery (a little three-bedroom ranch in Flushing). Grandpa passed last August; C. was there when our father told our aunt she had ten days to get out of the house (Grandpa was not even in the ground, yet). Our father “hired” C. and J. to handle cleaning out the house (taking possession of all the antiques and collectibles), and getting it ready for resale. Our aunt was devastated and said she could not believe how C. had treated her. I said she had become our father’s daughter and was just like him: cold, hateful, money-grubbing, and gloating over the misfortune of others.

    It was in late November when the shit really hit the fan. J.’s second son was in an accident, and while no one was hurt and the judge let him off, Immigration grabbed him. He was on the verge of getting his citizenship, had all his DACA papers filed and fines paid, and now he was facing deportation. C. said J. was asking his family for the money to help, and C. asked me for help. I started a GoFundMe that raised almost $2K in 24 hours. When I asked how J. was coming with his attempts, C. said, “Well, since you’re raising the money he isn’t asking his family.” Okaaay. Then one of my nephew’s friends offered $1200 cash, which I was to deliver in person. Knowing full well that my sister cannot be trusted with money (in fact, other people who know them said the reason they didn’t donate was because they knew C. and J. too well), I told her I was going to give her part of it and start an account strictly for her stepson’s legal fees. She agreed to this…but 20 minutes later, she got in my face and demanded to know why I would not hand over ALL the money. And I had no choice but to tell her the honest truth. Angry, J. took the money from my eldest niece (who had come back to Grand Rapids from out of state, quitting her job there to help the family that she herself had claimed “never gave a shit” about her) and threw it at me, saying, “We don’t want your help, we don’t want anything from you.” My niece took the money and insisted that they keep it for my nephew. I put the rest of the $1200 on the desk, calmly said, “I love you” twice, and walked out the door. I was going to have the fundraiser money transferred to my niece until I found out someone had reported me to GoFundMe for fraud (turns out it was a former friend who had it in for me) and they had refunded all the donations. My niece turned on me after that, telling me to “go fuck yourself.” Because whenever she’s around her mother for any length of time? She turns into her. Despite my failure to help, they still managed to get $6000 raised (they REALLY just had to get 10% of that to get my nephew released on bond, so what do you think happened to the other $5400 — and gee, why were they in Chicago a week after getting him home?).

    But that was that. One month later, I had a mini-stroke, brought on by all the stress. I did not want C. to know about this, and I had her removed from the contact list on my medical records. Side note: when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, C. scoffed and said, “It’s called ‘getting old,’ there’s nothing wrong with you.” Even though I can, you know, trace my symptoms back as early as grade school. C. also said, “Only soldiers get PTSD.” Wow — I cannot help but marvel at how she found the time to get her doctorates in both Rheumatoid AND Psychiatric medicine! Think of all the money, tests, medications (including those that gave me allergic reactions) and therapy sessions I could have avoided if I had only listened to my sister!

    Last week, I found out from Mom that she and Dad (my stepfather) were coming to town. C. had invited them over for Mother’s Day. This would not be the first time I would be excluded from celebrating Mother’s Day with my mom, because of C. and her “you’re not a mom, so you don’t count” attitude. They did agree to stop by and visit with me for an hour or so before heading to C.’s house for the rest of the day. I handed Dad a letter for C., wherein I requested a return of the items I had purchased for our defunct business, and a few other things she had borrowed but never returned. Today, I got a series of text messages from C. where she claimed I had “hurt” her, and named that incident with the car sale (how did THAT hurt HER?). She knew I had the stroke, too (but apparently did not care but she did try to make it sound like I had blamed her for it, which I never did). For my part, I did not respond to any of her audacious allegations. I just asked her to return my belongings, put them on my porch, we don’t even have to see each other, and I wished her happiness in life, adding that I am done. Seriously, I can no longer do this. Mom is upset because she doesn’t like to know that her girls are not getting along, but as I told Dad (who understands), sometimes people are toxic, and even if they are blood-related they are still not healthy to be around. I tried so many times to make things work with C.; I danced to every tune she played and did whatever I could to be accepted by her and her husband. I find it funny how they were able to forgive J.’s niece after she encouraged one of their daughters to start cutting, and his sister-in-law claimed it was C.’s daughter who suggested it; they have also forgiven other members of J.’s family who have done far worse to them. And C. can forgive our father and stepmother, who did horrible things to BOTH of us as children (including starving C. so she looked like someone who just walked out of a concentration camp) and then hosts them in her home, but she turns on me because I spoke the TRUTH? Yeah, this was pointless several years ago, I was just too stupid to accept it.

    Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 51. A year ago, my friends gave me a Croning and I became a wise woman. One thing I have learned is that Wisdom does not come easy — it can be very painful. I am through with caring for people who don’t care about me, who think nothing of hurting others. I am disconnecting myself from this slow drip that’s been poisoning me for too long. It’s hard, because I know I will never see my nieces again (unless, after they turn 18, they try to seek me out; for now, I have to let them go). But I can’t put myself through that anymore.

    Anyway…I am sorry this is so long but your story of Cathy and Sam hit a very raw, open wound for me, and I needed to bleed out the infection before it set back in again. I didn’t mean to hijack your space, but I had to share with someone who would understand exactly how this feels. Thank you so much for this opportunity, and for talking so candidly about your own experiences. Reading this account has given me the strength I needed to make the final cut and disconnect myself completely from these people. I send you virtual hugs of gratitude.

    Namaste!

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • T., I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this over and over and over with your family. Now that you’ve recognized the patterns and the toxicity, I hope that you’re able to avoid it in the future. Though I know just how hard that can be when it comes to families. My relationship with my sister is nowhere near this toxic, but I cut off all social media communication with her and her husband (we live in different states) due to their spiritual abuse of me several years ago. We see each other at holidays once a year and we’re polite to each other, but I have several female friends with whom I’m closer than I’ve ever been with my sister. You can always cut toxic “friends” out of your life completely and move on; it’s nearly impossible to do it with relatives.

      I’m so happy to see you’re finding the strength to disconnect from the toxicity. I hope that if you don’t already have it, you’ll develop a spiritual/emotional family of beloved friends who will be there for you with real hugs of encouragement and gratitude. You deserve it!

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • T.
        T.

        Thank you, and you are so right — I, too, have many female friends whom I look to as my “true” sisters, now. One has a similar problem with HER younger sister; the parallels are eerie. But again, that is one of the things that has drawn us together: we are survivors.

        My sister and her family live five minutes from my house. We shop at the same stores, which is going to mean I either have to go somewhere else or just do as one friend said and not alter MY life, but instead put on my Big Girl Panties and just ignore them if we happen to be at the store at the same time. I’ve already got social anxiety, and I still manage to get in, get what I want, and go. 🙂

        May 14, 2018
        |Reply
    • Adrienne
      Adrienne

      I don’t know what to say. Wow… just wow. Super big hugs for you T. You are a brave, wonderful being. Thank you for sharing your story. The world is better for having you in it. I love you.

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • T.
        T.

        Aw, thank you, Adrienne! Much love to you, too! 🙂

        And thank Jenny, too — I maintain that her story was the sign I needed, telling me “You are doing the right thing.” So many people have told me “But it’s your SISTER!” and that’s why I let it happen over and over. Jenny’s epilogue about Sam felt like a thumb’s up. I said it before, and I say it again: this tale has been cathartic for many of us.

        THANK YOU, JENNY!

        May 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Adrienne
          Adrienne

          Yes! Thanks to Jenny too! I thanked her earlier with my Twitter. Her story is a blessing for us.

          I’m glad you were able to get away. I wish you & yours many super blessings. *hugs*

          May 14, 2018
          |Reply
          • Evil!Blonde Bitch
            Evil!Blonde Bitch

            Thanks so much Jenny!
            I’ll pile onto this virtual dog pile of Internet hugs and give you one myself. You’re a brave person, and I hope someday to have the level of maturity, empathy, and wisdom you clearly exhibit. You deserve to live your best life, and you deserve all the love and support in the world. I hope you can find the peace and love you deserve.

            May 14, 2018
    • Mydog'sPA
      Mydog'sPA

      Oh wow T. I wish I could help, but I’m a thousand miles away. The hardest thing is going to keep C. out of your head even when she’s not there. I’d give advice, but it’s not my place to make suggestions other than to say we’re here to help when you want it. You’ve been through a lot. I hope you can get past this and grow to have a happy, (mentally) healthy life. Professional therapy really helped me get through something much more benign, so all I can say is that it worked for me, but I don’t want to come across as telling you what to do.

      Best of luck to you.

      **hugs**

      May 14, 2018
      |Reply
  9. Adrienne
    Adrienne

    Wonderful Jenny,

    It’s a me Mar… I mean, I’m Adrienne. In case you didn’t get my thank you https://twitter.com/AandM_OrisSira/status/996104628067618818 I just wanted to say it again. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing this deep part of yourself. For sharing your pain in hopes of helping others not suffer the same fate. It takes tremendous courage to open yourself up like that. You’re a bright light in this world, and it’s better for having you in it. Thank you. I appreciate you. I applaud you. I love you.

    I wish you & yours blessings forever *hugs*

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
  10. Ceiros
    Ceiros

    That “apology” from Sam… that reminded me so strongly of a toxic relationship that sadly, I did not end before it hurt me. I had a best friend in college who raped me. You know, because he’d been my friend for two years, therefore I owed him (apparently ME being HIS friend was not an equivalent exchange). And he wanted to show me how great we could be together. We had a few email exchanges after where I tried to explain how wrong he’d been in what he’d done… and he said I should be institutionalized and that I obviously didn’t view “making love” with the same gravity that he did. After that, I cut him out of my life.

    Two years later, he emailed me, simply saying, “I’m sorry. Can we be friends again now?” Like it was me being irrational that was the reason for the end of our friendship and that his (completely insincere and self-serving!) apology would fix everything. I wrote out everything I wanted to say to him: the dryly sarcastic, the honestly painful, the bitterly humorous. In the end, I sent him the response that I thought would most clearly indicate my desire to never hear from him again.

    A year later, he sent me a friend request on Facebook.

    Thankfully, it’s now been 9 years without hearing from him. A part of me is terrified that he’ll find out that I’m speaking about what he did to me, but a part of me is trying to stand up and be proud that I got through this. Not enough to write this without the cover of anonymity but I’m working on it.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      ‘We had a few email exchanges after where I tried to explain how wrong he’d been in what he’d done… and he said I should be institutionalized and that I obviously didn’t view “making love” with the same gravity that he did. After that, I cut him out of my life.’

      Holy. Smokes. I’m so sorry that you went through that (and the fact that he tore up your trust in him). I had a failed friendship with a male friend, for specifically the reason that I was his sexual goal and he wouldn’t accept that it wasn’t possible (even when I was dating his best friend). Luckily, he only tried to sexually harass me once (which I then had to excuse myself and leave the house) before he decided to disappear from my life (and me being a blind idiot, I thought I somehow ‘led him on’ just by being there and trying to be his friend. It was the time when the ‘friendzone’ spiel was hitting hard for the first time in the Geek/Nerd social circles–and I was trying so hard to recuperate our friendship and making myself as unattractive as possible so that he’d lose interest in banging me (turned out that he never wanted to be around me for any other reason)). Luckily, he was out of my life right after that (after a long, and excruciating 12 months of him being innapropes with me) but I have a feeling that he’s probably using me and his ex-fiancee (who he was engaged to marry YEARS before I even arrived) to get sympathy sex.

      I still can’t believe though that he’s STILL trying to half-ass his way into getting back into your life. He definitely deserves to be mentioned (even anonymously) because you’d be surprised how many people think they’re so entitled to whatever they wanted (even a ‘fixed’ relationship) while still being completely wrapped up in whatever movie that’s in their heads.

      May 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ceiros
        Ceiros

        Thank you so much. And ugh, the friendzone bullshit. That is one of the most rage-inducing things for me. Poor guys, how dare a woman return your kindness with JUST friendship! What a bitch, amirite?!?! *eyeroll*

        It’s crazy, we can be so good at ignoring those red flags in our desire to be good friends (and ONLY good friends!). One that I noticed but hand-waved at the time was his reaction to my depression. The year I met him was the low point for me with clinical depression. Then I got officially diagnosed, started taking antidepressants, and came back to life. That’s seriously how it felt to me at the time. It was like Dorothy walking into Oz and everything becoming technicolor! A friend would be happy for me, right? Nope! He seemed resentful of the fact that HE hadn’t been the one to rescue me. Such a normal reaction from a FRIEND.

        Side bonus, his name was Gray and another one of his excuses was that he thought I liked it rough. The whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon has not been fun…

        May 15, 2018
        |Reply
        • Zweisatz
          Zweisatz

          What a gross asshole. May he never resurface!

          May 16, 2018
          |Reply
  11. Ange
    Ange

    I could definitely see Sam turning out like that, he leaned into that aspect of himself a little too comfortably with Cathy.

    May 14, 2018
    |Reply
  12. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    To T : But “she’s your sister” is a bull shit excuse. My sis is married to a bag of dicks. If my husband talked to me like that, I’d kick him to the curb, never mind that we have two kids and we’ve been together forever, I would not put up with that. So I’m not putting up with it from her verbally abusive asshat of a husband. I get that my sis is the Sam in this situation and she’s going to keep going back to him until he puts her in the hospital. “He hasn’t hit me.” That’s not a ringing endorsement. First off, she said hasn’t not wouldn’t. Second, he gets drunk and throws her stuff around and I’m afraid one day it’ll be her. But I’m the bitch who won’t give him another chance. He used his last chance when he locked her out of their house for three weeks. And by locked out, I mean he changed the fucking locks because he was too much of a coward to end things.

    I get “she’s your sister” from my mom all the time. “Well, he’s a toxic saggy ball sack and since I want to verbally rips his head off, I shouldn’t be around him.” I know one day she’s going to get pregnant and I have no idea how to say “You’re and idiot and good luck getting child support from an asshole with no job and no desire to ever get one, because you know if he’s left you several times, it’ll happen again. You didn’t like growing up with and alcholic parent so good job on getting one for your kid.”

    I spoke with her today on the phone and realized I have nothing of substance to say to her. She may be my sister, but she’s not my friend.

    To Jenny, I’m so glad you got out of the situation and you knew when to let go. Stay strong.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  13. Bunny
    Bunny

    Hugs to you, Jenny. I hope this has been cathartic for you.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  14. Eneya
    Eneya

    Thank you for sharing this Jenny.

    I am amidst a weird situation myself. I have a friend whom I have known since we both were 15. She comes from an abusive family, has dated an abusive prick and she lived with me for a while when we finally managed to get her out from him. Since then she has had a bunch of bad relationships with people. The worst part is realising that she is lying about things and we have caught her in a lie repeatedly about events. She is manipulative and somewhat toxic, most recently she wants her nowbyfriend to move out. She claims physical and verbal abuse and though I am not questioning something is not right, she flatout asked me and another friend to go to her place and pack his things. Excuse me?? No? After that I had to cancel on an even at her place since I got the flu. After apologising to her, she complained that it is a date since her mother died. Wtf? She didn’t mention any of that prior to me telling her I am not well and I can’t leave my house. So I am on the verge of cutting her out of my life and I feel both guilty and giddy.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  15. MamaLich
    MamaLich

    It always hurts to see a friendship go downhill (especially when a friend becomes self-destructive). I don’t know Sam at all, but he…reminded me a lot of some of the men in my family (we sometimes joke and call it “Grandpa ___’s Curse’. Because of our family’s men’s tendency to wind up with very abusive relationships), so it really saddened me to find him jumping to multiple abusive relationships and actually using people that weren’t abusing him.

    I’m also just dumbstruck by why he asked so much help from you guys when you were recuperating from surgery (and having a NEW BABY) with strained finances. He must’ve spent way too much time with Cathy who would do exactly THAT, and then get the results she expected because she was used to demanding things (and believing that her demands, no matter how unreasonable, were ‘reasonable’). I’m also rather saddened that he’d excuse drunk driving (and throwing insults at their host),women sending crazy messages to his friends (and screwing around their ‘going to divorce’ husband, which was exactly what Cathy tried so hard to do to himself), but not when you couldn’t take his cats (or tried to wake him up before he dove into another abusive relationship).

    I do have to say though, I’m glad you wrote these entries because they really affirm what’s it like to experience being around destructive people–and I really wished I’ve discovered these entries before I went to college (where I met a LOT of destructive people, and I don’t think my parents could have any idea on how to prepare their kids on how certain people could be crazy, some people spiral into their own self-destruction and sometimes you don’t succeed in snapping them out of it). And you know what? I kinda wish there was someone like you writing about these experience back in the 1960s-80s, because I know so many relatives that would’ve really needed to read entries like this when they were young and blundering into relationships.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I think toxic people have been around forever but through-out the centuries they had different labels. During certain eras, those got lost, confused, or altered (or found to be partially untrue, like werewolves) and then people had to come up with new labels to get the idea across. I guess it also helps that psychology has come a long way and although it’s still uncovering new information all the time, it’s helping us come to terms with the fact some people are simply awful and need to be avoided. We just need a comprehensive manual or two that says relatives, lovers, and friends can all fall under the toxic heading and what sort of guidelines to consider when determining if they’re just an occasional jerk or a committed asshole.

      Jenny is definitely helping though. This was a truly eye-opening story. D:

      May 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        For the manual thing — it is not completely comprehensive, and refers mostly to romantic partners, but my mother gave me Beware the Red Flag Man when I was 13 or so, and it’s helped me massively to identify toxic people in my life. It lists the main red flags that identify a dangerous or abusive partner. I so wish every young adult would read this book. It’s so important to be aware of red flags in other people.
        Another useful book was Emotional Vampires. It wasn’t one hundred percent great, but it identified five of the most common personality disorders in people and talked about the hallmarks of each, and how to avoid and disengage with those types of people.

        May 16, 2018
        |Reply
  16. Harriet
    Harriet

    First of all: you are a fantastic writer. I’m not surprised you’ve been successful. I hope I get to read some of your stuff in the future.

    I don’t really know what to say about this series. Wow. What awful people. I hope this has been cathartic for you, it must have been terrible to live through.

    I don’t know if you’re still suffering from fibro. I expect so as while it waxes and wanes I don’t think I’ve met anyone who got rid completely. It’s shit. Something that I’ve found helps my joints is omega oil – I do get worse if I stop for a few weeks. Also Amatrypyaline.(not spelt that way!) Please be kind to yourself.

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry you had to live through it on order to do so.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  17. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “I have enough friends.” Someday, I hope I have sufficient cojones (metaphorical) to think that line, even if I don’t say it out loud.

    Contrary to everything my “work-with-a-partner” elementary school teachers tried to brainwash into me, quality usually does matter more than quantity.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  18. Anon
    Anon

    I’ve said it before and I will again: Sam and Cathy were two peas in a pod. You didn’t ruin his life. They clicked because they were alike. Sam was and is not a nice person. He may have been her victim in some ways, but only because she was the stronger of the two.

    I’m watching a similar situation play out between two people I went to high school with and really didn’t know were this terrible until recently. They found each other and are feeding off of each other. I know it’s going to end in a blaze of glory and she’s going to come out on top because that’s what she does. But the husband is also a scam artist and a terrible person and they’re both probably sociopaths and narcissists. I feel sorry for the seven children who are the victims of their awfulness, but I will not ever feel sorry for either of them.

    Your guilt over Sam is misplaced. He would have found Cathy (or someone like her) on his own eventually. Like attracts like, after all.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Your guilt over Sam is misplaced. He would have found Cathy (or someone like her) on his own eventually. Like attracts like, after all.

      Very true. Unlike EEL James’ portrayal, the subconscious is truly out of a person’s active thought process but is what keeps driving a person to find the destructive people again and again. The subconscious grew up with that badness, is accustomed to it, so seeks it out and rejects people who would be good to them because ‘good’ behavior is not ‘comfortable.’

      Going through therapy with professional help was the only way I could learn to tell my subconscious to “f**k off” and find someone who was good for me. (Married 18 years now). Yeah, it’s weird at first, but it’s worth it in the long run.

      Best of luck to all!

      **hugs**

      May 15, 2018
      |Reply
  19. Mel
    Mel

    That story was incredible. I’m so sorry you went through all of that but glad you got out.

    I’m counting myself fortunate that I never had anyone this toxic in my life. The most I had was a friend who was a bit unhinged and a mess who would try to draw me into arguments that made no sense. I cut her out of my life and feel so much better for it.

    Whoever came up with that “boyfriends come and go but friends are forever” line, needs to seriously reconsider that. Friends don’t always last forever either and sometimes they really shouldn’t.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Jane Doe
    Jane Doe

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this series!

    I am current divorcing a Cathy. It’s been a long, hard battle but thankfully I have a restraining order and no children.

    What you have described is eerily similar – some of the entries brought cathartic tears.

    The hardest part is seeing the red flags early in the relationship and second guessing your gut instinct. However, surviving the fire can show you how strong you truly are, although it’s one of the hardest life lessons to live through.

    Thank you again for sharing this.

    Many bright blessings to you and yours.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  21. BlackSwallowtail
    BlackSwallowtail

    Yeah…Sam is a creep. He’s a creep who has also been abused, but a creep nonetheless. It’s a hard thing to accept about someone you genuinely care for, who you used to be close with, but you’re well rid of him. I’ve had way too many male friends who turned out to be like that. He’s probably been like that since adolescence, it just wasn’t apparent before.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
  22. Another Amy
    Another Amy

    Jenny, I’m really curious about where you guys lived in Grand Rapids. I live on the SE side now, near burton and eastern, but I had an apartment on the NW side near stocking and walker for a few years starting in 2006.

    May 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      First I lived downtown at The Globe, then I lived out in Kentwood on Shafer between 44th and 32nd. So not far from Burton and Eastern!

      May 15, 2018
      |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I used to shop at Harvest Health and go to the Yankee Clipper branch of the library, LOL.

      May 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Another Amy
        Another Amy

        Harvest health foods is just a few doors down from me on Eastern!

        I kept trying to picture different places in GR that the story could’ve been taking place in as I was reading. I’m trying to figure out the audio store that you mentioned Sam worked for that was just down the road from you.

        Also, how lucky that you got to live downtown! I think it would be so amazing to have an apartment downtown during Art Prize so that you could be surrounded by art installments every time you walked out your front door or even looked out the window, but maybe Art Prize hadn’t begun yet when you were living in GR. I always thought those apartments downtown were ruinously expensive. Or maybe that’s just recently as so many medical professionals are living and working downtown. It seems like a new apartment/condo complex is opening all the time. They keep restoring and renovating old buildings and building new ones downtown.

        May 16, 2018
        |Reply
  23. Babs
    Babs

    I am so sorry for all you’ve went through.

    Reading this last portion, I had this moment where I thought “Wow, you gave this guy an inch and he took a mile! I’ve cut people out of my life for uncomfortable comments at brunch, that’s too generous!”

    And then I remembered that when I read the first part, my immediate thought was “oh god, I had a Cathy”. I’m a guarded person who chooses friends carefully, but it’s because I HAD someone who I cared about who took advantage of me and belittled me at every turn. There are still aspects of my ability to trust people that are shaped by the way I was treated so cruelly by a best friend – I was so hopeful that things would go back to normal, I’d wince through her passive aggressive jabs, and didn’t get out until I was a broken mess.

    Looking at the comments here, it’s clear that a lot of people had their own Cathys too.

    So, to everyone who’s been there: I’m so sorry. It’s a journey, and it really does affect you like any breakup would. The important thing is that you’re out of there now.

    Jenny, thank you for your story, it sounds like it was such a painful time in your life. I’d read your page when the Sarem drama was going on, but it wasn’t until halfway through reading this series that I finally made the connection that blogger Jenny Trout was the same person as urban fantasy author Jennifer Armintrout, whose shelf I stocked at my used bookstore job hundreds of times.

    There was something comforting there.

    May 16, 2018
    |Reply
  24. Zev
    Zev

    There is so much I wanted to say when I finished reading this, but as a rule, I take twenty-four hours or more to cool off from these posts. They’re still amazing and I plan to reread them every year like I do your 50SOG recaps (which I may have already pointed out but oh well. You’re still awesome).

    It is after the cool down period that all I can say on this post is: Jenny, I support you and hope to be like you in ways someday. I don’t have words for how horrible I think Sam is for doing all those things, and oh, I desperately had hoped this would end differently.
    Thanks for sharing.

    May 17, 2018
    |Reply
  25. Saint_Sithney
    Saint_Sithney

    Sam is what I’ve tried so hard never to become. It can be hard when you’ve been abused not to use other people as a crutch and to scream out that you deserve “a break”, because you were abused. This can really easily turn into abusive behavior on your part, which you’re unwilling to see, because all you can think about is how much worse you had it.

    I don’t think I ever reached that level of bad, but I know I became much harder to deal with for awhile after two of the worst abusers were out of my life. I wanted to wallow in my misery and didn’t want to have to feel anything besides self-pity. I wanted to be petted and loved and admired and be treated as the most important person in everyone’s life. I don’t know whether I ever became abusive in any way (I don’t think so, but it can be hard to judge), but I definitely pushed people away with my newfound fragility and my need for constant validation. I’ve apologized to everyone who was with me through that time period.

    For anyone getting past having an abuser in their lives, try to find professional help. Your friends are most likely wonderful and loving people, but it’s highly unlikely that they are equipped to help you through the complex emotions you’re dealing with. They simply don’t have the knowledge or the skills to glue you back together, and it’s not their responsibility. Best of luck to any of you dealing with abusers, putting your life back together after having one in your life, or helping a loved one who was abused.

    May 19, 2018
    |Reply
  26. jane dow
    jane dow

    I was wondering, was there a reason why Cathy couldn’t mooch off of her parents? Like, did they know what she was like or did they enable her life style too?

    May 21, 2018
    |Reply
  27. Jo
    Jo

    Thankfully, my Cathy showed up in middle school and I was sufficiently supported enough that I was able to see true friendship and decide fts by freshman year of college. We went to different colleges. I resolved to never call her and only answer her calls if it was truly convenient. We stopped talking in less than a year. And it was glorious. But also painful. The scars we carry…

    June 8, 2018
    |Reply

Leave a Reply

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