Pour Your Heart Out: Post-Drama Panic

Today I’m linking up with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out over at Things I Can’t Say. Names have been changed in this post to protect the identities of those who would like to remain anonymous. This post is long, so I don’t blame you if you don’t make it all the way through! <3

Cheryl stormed out of her backyard, screaming at Jed, and placing herself directly between him and the swing where Joe was. She screamed, “If you have a f – - – ing problem with me, you talk to ME!” and she chest-bumped him, hard. I couldn’t hear what Jed said to her, but I heard her say “I’m not afraid of you. I’ll kick your f- – - ing ass!” and she took a swing at him. Literally, truly, she tried to punch my husband, within inches of my 15 month old baby.

Jed caught her punch in his fist and readied himself to hit back if he needed to. I could tell he was trying to move her away from Joe, but I knew that if she tried anything else, he was going to fight back and defend himself and Joe.

About a month ago, I wrote about the Lemons in my life – those that I had trusted and loved as true friends that turned out to be completely disloyal and not friends at all. Basically, my perception of them as good friends was a mistake, and I was shocked by their betrayal and truly sad and defeated by the realization that they had never been true friends.

 

Toward everyone but one person, I have been able to adopt a

forgive and forget mentality with my “lemon” friends. All of us live in the same neighborhood, but I’ve been able to just act as if nothing ever happened with a pretty good success rate, and my husband has been helping me to forget about the betrayal and hurt that I felt at the decisions that these former friends made. The person that I had the closest relationship with before the attack and betrayal continues to be a contact of mine due to the fact that we work together on volunteer projects. And praise God, this relationship has been friendly and smooth post-drama. We work together the same way, just with a different dynamic. We’re not close anymore, but we can still be successful partners in our work, and I am happy about that.

So, the awful feelings that I endured and the betrayal that I felt is almost completely gone now. A month and a half later, I no longer worry about what will happen if I run into one of my former friends while putting out the trash or checking the mail. I just take a deep breath and avert my eyes if one of my former friends looks at me with disdain (after all, they have to blame someone for the drama that ensued, right?) or glares at me while I run past their back yard with Raven doing 5K training. . .What surprises and elates me the most is that I don’t feel that I miss the friendships that I had before all the drama erupted. I thought that my heart would hold onto the loss of these people who I thought were my close friends. . . but praise, God – prayer and acceptance have all but alleviated any sadness I had at losing these people from my life. Additionally, I have other friends that actually respect me – and that’s an immense help.

Not without some Bad news, though

But all this good news is not without some bad. Today, I had a bit of a panic attack at the park. At the sound of my former friend’s voice, I started shaking remembering the attack on my family that began all this ridiculous, unnecessary ugliness.

To understand what happened to me today, what I’m pouring my heart out about. . . you have to understand the attack that happened a month and a half ago. I think it’s finally time that I write about it. . .

so, here I go: pouring my heart out about my issuing friendly criticism that garnered a attack on my family. . . and how badly I want to be free of the memory of that day and the terror attached to it.

The Party, Rudeness, and Exclusivity

Our group of friends was planning a big Fourth of July Bash at the park between our house, Jessica’s house, and Cheryl’s house 1.

During the planning stages, I felt that Cheryl was being over-controlling and, well, bossy about things. She had started a facebook event to discuss potluck dishes on the wall, and was pretty quick to dismiss ideas from not only me, but a couple other ladies as well, and I thought her tone was rude. Usually, I would shrug this off as “Cheryl just being Cheryl. That’s just how Cheryl is.” But the bossiness was starting to get to me. It was as if she didn’t appreciate the comments and suggestions of others – it was her way or the highway. Aaaaand this was supposed to be a group event. A celebration of “the great families” of our neighborhood.

There’s more to this part of the story, but I’ll jump to the point:

I couldn’t condone her actions as I had done in the past many times.

Other times, I had defended her comments or statements to my husband and others, saying “Sometimes she comes off rude or abrasive, but really she means well. . . ” but this time, it felt wrong. So, after talking to my husband about it, I decided that we wouldn’t be participating in the party if Cheryl was going to be exclusive about guests and I decided to send her a facebook message detailing my concerns 2

There were several facebook messages back and forth, me trying to convince her to reconsider including the families that I had invited, and her spouting off ugliness and absurdities that I would expect of a 12 year old – not a mature, adult woman twice my age like Cheryl. I was hoping that being courteous and using friendly criticism, that she would change her mind, but completely the opposite. She declared that “this was never an open invite, public party – this has always been MY party at MY house and I can invite and exclude and say anything about anybody that I want!”

After I talked to my husband about it and we decided to let her know that we would not be attending the festivities because we couldn’t condone her exclusivity or rudeness. I explained that I was not trying to start any drama but that my opposition to her behavior was meant as a friendly criticism, and I hoped that we could talk about it and reconcile at a later time.

She reacted with anger and fire. Apparently, I was a hypocritical, backstabbing, awful excuse for a friend, and I “shouldn’t send any more facebook messages to her” because she wouldn’t answer them. And I was deleted from her facebook friend list.

Lets pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that this friend is twice my age, with lots of experience in life. And all I did was criticize her decision to exclude certain families from a community party. *sigh*

Life Goes On

No big deal. We just went on with life. Our mutual friend Emily had assured me that no matter what happened between myself and Cheryl, our relationship would not change, and honestly, that was my biggest worry about saying something to Cheryl about her absurd behavior regarding the party. If Emily and I were okay, I could care less what Cheryl thought of me, or if we were attending the (I’m sorry. . . “HER”) party or not. Life went on.

Then the day of the party came.

We had decided go have a family day at the beach that Saturday, but plans changed, and we found ourselves hanging out at home after nap time. My friend Courtney (one of the families excluded from the big Fourth of July party) texted and asked if we wanted to meet up for a walk to the park, and I replied that that would be great, and we headed out. That’s when I remembered about Cheryl’s party. . . and we decided to head the other direction for our walk. But Joseph had other ideas. He desperately wanted to go to our regular park (directly adjacent to Cheryl’s backyard, where the party was going on) but I really wanted to stay away from Cheryl, since she was so angry with me. Jed volunteered to take Joseph to the swings at the park while Courtney, her little girl, Abbey, and our dogs went on a walk in the other direction.

The Attack

We went about applying bug spray, and getting ready to walk, but something told me I should peek around the corner at Jed and Joe before we headed off. When I walked around the corner housing unit and looked around the bushes, I was shocked at what I saw and heard.

Cheryl stormed out of her backyard, screaming at Jed, and placing herself directly between him and the swing where Joe was. She screamed, “If you have a f- – - ing problem with me, you talk to ME!” and she chest-bumped him, hard. I couldn’t hear what Jed said to her, but I heard her say “I’m not afraid of you. I’ll kick your f- – - ing ass!” and she took a swing at him. Literally, truly, she tried to punch my husband, within inches of my 15 month old baby.

Jed caught her punch in his fist and readied himself to hit back if he needed to. I could tell he was trying to move her away from Joe, but I knew that if she tried anything else, he was going to fight back and defend himself and Joe.

I was too far away to do anything. I just watched this in horror. Someone stepped in between Jed and Cheryl and yelled at both of them that they should know better, and Cheryl stormed back off to her backyard.

Jed said that we should call the police if she came out toward us again, but she didn’t. She did sent one of our mutual friends’ husbands to chastise Jed for a not-so-nice name that he called Cheryl after she screamed at him and chest bumped him. . . but all of the drama that ensued after the attack was merely verbal of passive aggressive in nature, although the housing manager did instruct me to call 911 if Cheryl ever approached me, Jed, or my family ever again.

My Panic

Today, we were playing at the park as we always do, most mornings and most afternoons. A couple of other families were out with us, and after a while, we let our dog off leash to run and play with another dog. A totally normal morning. The dogs were playing and the kids were playing, and my husband was chatting with the other dog’s owner as I watched the kids and worked on my knitting project. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the puppy Raven was playing with dart off in a different direction, as Raven came running toward us. We turned toward his trajectory and saw that Cheryl had come outside to her back yard (not fenced) with her two dogs, and that the puppy had run over to engage her dogs to play (he doesn’t know any better). His owner called for him, but one of Cheryl’s dogs had snarled and barked at him, so he was barking back, and Cheryl screamed “Put him on a LEASH!”

As soon as I heard her voice, I started to shake. Literally, my hands started to go numb and tremble, and my heart dropped into my stomach. I flashed back to the memory of her putting her body between my husband and my child and physically attacking them, and her voice screaming “I’ll fucking kick your ass!” and I totally zoned out and started freaking out. I felt like I was going to end up having a full blown panic attack, until my friend shook my shoulder and asked me why I looked like I was going to faint. “Are you OK, Amy?” she said. I turned away from Cheryl, still in her backyard with her dogs – and snapped “She should be on a leash!” under my breath. Then, I apologized and tried to go back to my knitting.

I few minutes later, a representative from housing came by to instruct us that we needed to have the dogs on leash. Raven was lying at my feet, and I asked her if I really needed to put a leash on her if she was just lying down. But I put it on her, and laid the leash on the ground, and I apologized to her for being ugly.

“I don’t mean to be ugly, Melissa, but I know who called you to complain, and I can assure you that neither of our dogs did anything to her yard or to her or to her dogs. Our dogs were playing just fine on a verbal leash. . .”

I sighed.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you, Melissa, I just have a really hard time with anything regarding Cheryl since the attack on my family. I literally feel unsafe and worrisome. I’ve lived here for two years now, and never did we have any issues like this until she moved in. I can let most of the drama go, but every time I hear her voice, it’s like she’s attacking my family again, and that puts me on edge.”

I looked at my hands, and Melissa saw that I was trembling.

Seeking Closure

I hate the fact that I have been able to forgive and forget the betrayals and lost friendships that happened as a result of Cheryl’s attack on my family and my reaction to it, but I haven’t been able to release the terror and fear that I felt when I actually witnessed her attacking my family.

I probably should go talk to a counselor about it, because until I had a near panic attack today when I heard her voice, I really thought that I was 100% over all the drama. Obviously, I can say I don’t care about her or what she does or what she says about me all I want, and I can be totally normal around any of the other former-”lemon”-friends that I may run into around the neighborhood. . .

. . .but I am still deeply affected by the fact that she assaulted my family.

Technically, it’s the sound of her raised voice that is the trigger. I hear her shout, and it doesn’t matter what she’s saying – I’m right back there on that Saturday, helplessly watching her scream that she’s going to kick my husband’s ass while Joseph cries in the swing behind her.

Have you ever experienced panic like this over a past event?

 

A friend has suggested prayer to help me release what’s left of my fear and anger.

 

What are your suggestions?

  1. names have been changed
  2. Now that I think about it, the fact that I was afraid to bring this friendly criticism up to her in person was probably a sign. . .

Comments

  1. Whoa. That is just awful! It goes without saying that you’re better off without her friendship. I’m sorry that you still experience fear and anxiety because of her actions. It sounds like PSD to me, but I’m no counselor. I think talking to someone would be very beneficial. She doesn’t deserve to have such a hold on you.

    • Thanks for reading, Melissa! I know it was a long post! I’m definitely considering just going in to talk to someone about it. I think that would help alleviate the “hold” that it has on me – for a professional to say, “this is normal, but this too shall pass”

  2. I don’t think I’d want anything to do with Cheryl again. I can forgive a lot- often there’s just a misunderstanding or something deeper going on. But there’s no excuse for her behavior.

    • Thanks, Shell, for reading and your sweet comment. I had always given her the benefit of the doubt before, but her attack on my family was inexcusable. I’m working so hard on forgiveness, so that I can let go of the anger and panic that I have surrounding what happened – and I think that pouring my heart out today helped! Thanks for hosting the link up and inspiring all of us to say the things we need to!

  3. It is totally understandable to feel the way you do. I’m sure anyone who would witness any sort of attack towards their loved ones would need some time to forgive and forget. What the Cheryl lady did was wrong on so many levels. I truly hope you get closure and feel at ease soon.

    • Thanks, Jesse. I’m hoping that time, prayer, and a reminder that forgiveness is Holy will allow me to let go! :) Thanks for your kind words.

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