Doing my best to calm down, peal myself off of the ceiling-coming back to planet Michele, after a trip of the light fantastic variety-harrowed after a brush with the oh-so-evil spirit of Jezebel. I try and remind myself that we are fighting unseen principalities and evil- the most demonic kind-not flesh and blood. My stomach churns and turns, the panic attack easing to the point of bearable.
Sheila and I have known each other for years. In my newfound sobriety, eleven years ago, at the bequest of my mother in law, I gave her a call. An attempt at friendship was squashed when she lashed out at me over something I didn’t do. Out of nowhere I was attacked, and the helpless and hopeless feelings, of which I know only too well, told me to end the experiment. I was a bit unnerved because Sheila had seen my testimony at a nearby church. She knew everything about my childhood emotional abuse, the chronic depression and anxiety, my fight for sobriety.
Two years ago, Sheila’s son was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. I reached out, and we kept in touch over the last few years via Facebook only. In the Spring I invited her over to see a movie-we had so much fun that I thought maybe, just maybe, I had been overly sensitive. She invited me to her exercise class, and I dove, headlong into a friendship that has been nothing but toxic since its recent re-inception. I let my guard down, allowed her back into my heart-a tragic mistake, at best. Over the years she has jumped me about things that never happened or were completely and utterly misconstrued.
Sheila told me she had a dysfunctional family. I believed her when her parents pulled a no show at her son’s funeral. In my mind, our families gave us a common bond. In the past few weeks I have felt the uneasiness, toxicity, but I found it hard to pinpoint. I had been walking on eggshells, and for a woman in recovery from severe CPTSD as a result of narcissistic abuse? That didn’t sit well. She raged when I didn’t sit next to her in class. If I am to be honest, I began feeling as if my personal integrity was at risk: I was people pleasing, and I knew that was more than just a huge, red flag. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but could not fathom a way out.
Happily ensconced in the same exercise class, Bands Across America, I have met absolutely lovely women here. I was so excited, as the girls have become a family of sorts, and it was a wonderful way to have female companionship. Never, in my wildest imagination, did I think my budding friendships with these women would push a sociopath to the very brink.
It began last week, when she snapped at me for making two of the girls in class lavender wreathes. I had mentioned that I was stressed about getting them done, that I hadn’t had the time.
“Don’t give them the wreaths, Michele. They will forget about them, it makes you look as if you’re trying to hard. I want you to be yourself.”
Those words sent me on a downward spiral, I can tell you. I questioned my friendships, motives and even sanity. Was I trying too hard?
I didn’t see it then, but as God is my witness, I see it now! The last time we text each other, I had poured out my heart-I literally bared my soul. Days went by, and not having heard from her, I text her that I was a bit worried, and that I was here if she needed me. Out of nowhere, the venom was spewed. She attacked me on every level, making little, if any, sense. She had misinterpreted almost every post I had recently made on Facebook. I don’t post often, and she rarely comments. But my God! She had been literally stalking me-I was unsettled, almost queasy.
Single. White. Female.
This morning, after reading yet another painful rant, I unfriended her from my Facebook account. This afternoon, she realized it. What followed was a maniacal, threatening and full on demonic tirade. She called me a liar, told me people in class were talking about me, made an ass of me about the wreaths. I told her that I would sue her fat white apple if word got back to me that she was trying to ruin a perfectly good reputation. I told her I didn’t appreciate the threats to go to my family with things I have said, as I have nothing to be ashamed of, to my way of thinking.
I put down my phone. I assumed the fetal position. Three hours later, I am shaky and exhausted from weeping. The trigger is brutal and unforgiving. I call my friend Bea. She prays over me and with me, she prays that God will give me the strength and grace to forgive her.
I put my phone on the charger, and again, I weep. Joyful tears flow freely down my cheeks, my heart swells with gratitude. I am unconditionally loved by a God so amazing, so incredible-the words escape me.
I am not less than. I am Bea’s friend.