I’m an emotional girl, God bless me. So when I get hurt…oh it feels like my whole world has fallen apart. This latest episode of “Drama in the life of Janet” with Craig taking a load of money from me has really wound me up. I’m still reeling from it.
I get all in my head about things and I “catastrophise” (psych word) so that in my head, a small injustice turns into a huge ordeal. I upset myself more and more and in times like these when I’m physically unwell, tired, emotionally vulnerable and struggling…then sometimes it can lead to suicidal thoughts. That’s how bad I get.
My strategy when I can at least recognise I’m starting to slide is to “Katniss Everdeen” myself…to sit in a calm, quiet space and list the facts of the situation that’s made me feel so upset.
These are the facts:
Craig took $200 from me.
4 days later, he took another $230 from me.
3 weeks later, he begged and pleaded for another $50 from me.
2 days ago, he called asking for another $300 where I relented and sent him $50 because I was bullied and manipulated into it.
What I’m struggling with is letting it go because now that it’s happened…I can go back through time and re-examine the events that took place and I’m beginning to realise there is a darkness there.
Something very wrong.
The 1st time it happened, Craig pretended he wanted to say goodbye privately to me on the last few days before my hospital discharge. A red flag was raised when he said to me in a whisper “Come meet me under our tree before everyone else comes out to join us”. I nodded. At the time, I ignored the anxiety in my stomach. He’s a private dude I told myself it’s going to be fine.
Away from everyone under the huge tree in the patient Courtyard that day, Craig pleaded for money. He wrote the loan out on a slip of paper and dated it. He promised that by Friday – the day of my discharge from the Psych ward – I would have the loan of $200 back in my account. Craig made it look so official that I really was fooled by his “genuine desire to pay the loan back” by the date and time HE listed. On paper. None of that was my idea.
That money never appeared.
In group therapy days later, (no explanation of why he hadn’t paid his promise back) Craig slid a note over to me “Don’t tell anyone” it read “but I need to speak to you privately after class, ok?”
Ngl guys, I was worried. I didn’t know what he was going to say or why the first few words highlighted secrecy. I felt ill at ease but like the fucking idiot I am, I just went along with it.
Again, we met “in secret” at a table at the back of the Courtyard. When I sat across from Craig that day, he first looked around to see if anyone was around. I didn’t think much of it then but now? Now that’s a huge red flag.
Craig pleaded with me: “I need more money – just $230 for a hostel so I’m not homeless”. I remember very clearly squirming in my seat. I was too anxious to remind Craig he already owed me money. I feel sooo uncomfortable when it comes to money and as a people pleaser I try to avoid conflict – so I remember saying I just didn’t have anything to give him.
Craig moved closer to me. Cornered me. Was physically intimidating. He spoke in a hushed, urgent voice that made me incredibly uncomfortable at the time. I look back on it now and I recognise the look on my face as I see that afternoon from an outside view…I was scared.
I told Craig about 6 times that I didn’t have the money and could NOT give him anything more. I remember he pushed and pushed. “Surely you have something in your account” and looking back on it now, I was frightened. Why wasn’t he listening to me? Why was I having to explain myself over and over? Why was this so hard?
A good friend respects boundaries.
A true friend understands “no”
This was not the case with Craig.
He kept arguing with me. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I look back now and I see tears in my eyes that day. I see myself almost pleading my case – my hands held out, palms up, literally demonstrating that I had nothing left to give.
I look now at Craig’s eyes and there is steely determination there. Not love. Not compassion or understanding. Certainly not friendship or care. Just a cold, cruel drive to force me to give him money. Every time I tried to explain I didn’t have it, he met my distress with force. He gaslit me. I see it now as clear as day. When I clearly said “I can’t this time” he shook it off “You can though” Craig insisted. Again and again.
“Look! Look at this” and again, the crumpled piece of paper with the original loan appeared. “I’ll add the extra $230 to this” and he scribbled the added loan to another line, totalling both amounts even though I had repeatedly said NO to the 2nd request.
“In 24 hours, you’ll have $430 back in your savings, Janet. I swear. I swear on my life. You can trust me. Come on. Get your phone out” Craig was controlling me. Coercing me.
“I haven’t been working” I pleaded. “I have to support my Mom in the Philippines and when I loaned you money just the other day – that came from my savings” I was desperate now, hoping someone familiar would walk by. I just wanted it to stop.
At this point, a friend drops the ask, right?
If it was me and I saw a clearly distressed friend…I’d immediately stop what I was doing.
“But you can pay your Mom tomorrow” he insisted “you can put it all back, I just need the money now” and now Craig was so close, I could smell his aftershave. It made me feel sick. In a hurry to end my discomfort, I transferred the money.
As if that wasn’t enough…before I got up from the table that day – grateful to get away – Craig grabbed my wrist.
I was beyond terrified. I don’t know how my mind glossed over this at the time because as I’m recalling it, my skin is crawling.
“Listen. Listen!” Craig was pulling at me. Manhandling me. Hurting me. I followed the direction he was pulling me – to sit back down. Miserably I sat. I looked around, hoping for Cam, Ron or one of the girls from our group to walk into view.
“Listen” Craig was desperate now. A hungry wolf. He had a crazed look in his eye. “It’s very imporant you don’t tell anyone” he instructed. Anxious to get away, I nodded. I tried again to leave. He didn’t release his grip. “Janet” his voice was firm. I felt like I was suffocating “You can’t tell anyone about this, ok? Not even your husband. Please don’t tell anyone because…it would…embarrass me. So promise me you won’t tell”
And something right then and there…felt like I was being abused.
“Promise not to tell” echoes painfully off the walls around me and honesty now that I look at it with open eyes…it made me feel really dirty at the time and really betrayed now as I write about it.
Every time Craig has forced money from me, he’s asked and asked, again and again, pleading, begging, manipulating me, coercing me and hurting me until I gave in. Hes rung over 10 times and left messages “answer my call”. That’s not a friend. When I’ve said no, Craig’s used my insecurity against me “I thought you were a nice girl” and he’s pushed beyond the limits of friendship – particularly a few days ago when he highly suggested I either max out my credit card or get a loan. He was willing to put ME in debt to get what HE wanted.
What’s the very worst in this is that I told my friends I’d blocked him. I lied! I hadn’t. I’d just stopped replying to his barrage of calls and texts in the last 48 hours.
Why did I feel like I had to defend Craig?
Up until I’d posted about it on Facebook the other day, I’d kept it secret – just as Craig made me promise to.
I was talking to my friend “K” about it today…about struggling to let Craig go. I posted on my Facebook about Craig ripping me off and my beautiful friends jumped to my defence. All of them said to block him. Immediately.
Craig’s friend. “Masie” – who was also in hospital and part of our group leapt to defend Craig. She adores him and attacked me for having a go at Craig “low blow on a social platform” she wrote under my post. She sent a slurry of nasty comments through private messenger. I didn’t respond apart from to say “feel free to unfriend me” to her 1st comment…then just blocked her. Easy.
Why was it so hard to do the same and also block Craig? Why did I struggle so much to let go of my abuser?
I don’t understand. I just know it’s left me unsettled and uncomfortable.
It took an afternoon of loving texts back and forth this afternoon between “K” (another girl from our Hospital friendship group at that time) and I to remind me that I actually needed to get away from this man.
Craig was told I’m supporting my Mom and 14 other relatives in the Philippines. He took that money anyway.
Craig knew I’d sent him my savings and that I’d given him all I had at the time – and took it anyway.
Craig knew I was really uncomfortable giving more money to him…and forced me to give it anyway.
I paid for safe accommodation for Craig when he left hospital but he moved back home with his wife & children! Craig was never homeless. He lied to me. Used me.
Each request for a bank transfer was always followed by “Don’t tell anyone. Please keep this a secret. Promise not to tell”
So yeah. Craig is now blocked.
A lovely guy commented on my previous blog that losing that $530 to Craig was actually an investment in a lesson learnt.
I think it was the biggest investment I’ve had to make but that this entire…experience…has cost me more than just money.