Peter’s Smear Campaign–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–April 1992

April 5 was probably the first time I finally got to go back to church. I may have called up the couple who led the church, told them of my situation, and set things up so they would come get me for the evening services.

On April 26, they changed the service to morning, and came to get me for that and Sunday School.  I forget what we did while the kids were being taught their Sunday School lessons; maybe we chatted.

At long last, I didn’t need Peter to take me to church.  Each week, it was like another oasis, like the one I had at home during Spring Break.  I was to find that, after a breakup, church was generally the most comforting place to be.

One evening, I sat in the suite lounge and watched a wonderful movie: Say Anything, copyright 1989, set in Seattle, starring John Cusack (Lloyd) and Ione Skye (Diane).  It was about dating, breaking up, and getting back together.

It spoke directly to my situation.  It had tons of similarities: It was about the class of ’88, who were seniors when I was a freshman, so it was close to my generation; since I had just graduated, the graduation scenes and summer afterwards were familiar; Cusack looked so hot (handsome, not warm) in that coat; it actually mentioned The 700 Club once, and in a good way….

One character, a guitarist, wrote 63 songs about her ex-boyfriend Joe and the pain he caused her.  She tried to kill herself over him.  (This made me feel better about writing several “Peter” poems for Poetry class.)  Joe was clueless and kept playing with her mind, until she finally said no more.

Lloyd was a kickboxer, which reminded me of the movie Kickboxer which Peter had shown me.  I would’ve liked to know that Peter cried after breaking up with me the way Diane cried after breaking up with Lloyd, but all I ever saw was a dry eye.  To this day, I have no idea if Peter ever cried about it.

What Lloyd went through was so familiar: sadness, looking around at places where they’d been and remembering her, calling her several times (he called her a lot more often than I called Peter), and trying to get her to remember their love (in his case, blasting the song “Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel).

My favorite line in the whole movie was when Lloyd said to a group of loser teens, “If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at, like, a Gas ‘n Sip, on a Saturday night, completely alone, drinkin’ beers, no women anywhere?”  That line rocks. (They paused for a minute and then said, “By choice, man!”)

I felt so much better after seeing that movie.  I was also hopeful because of the way it ended.  Cameron Crowe, who wrote it, has written other movies which are just as sensitive and insightful.

****

The fraternity and sorority Hell Week was April 5 to 11.  Peter was pledging Zetas, while a few of my girlfriends were pledging Phi-Delts.  Pledging was an odd time to go through even for spectators, as I would note in a letter to Stefan.  Refer to that (below) for some details.

Since frat pledges had to ignore women during this week, Tom told me I should torment Peter.  I didn’t, of course.  That just wasn’t my place, and it wasn’t wise, though the thought was delicious.

One day, two Zeta pledges had to wear beanies decorated in goofy ways.  I believe one even had a propeller.  One was Peter, hehehehe.  Some girl said, “Weanies with beanies!”

****

In late spring, or maybe even before, people (including Catherine) started wearing shorts while it was still cold.  Most of them may have been soccer players just arriving at dinner from practice, but Catherine did it to encourage summer and warm weather to come.

I kept seeing this in Wisconsin: The thermometer barely hits 60, and people start wearing shorts.

Here’s an English copy of the letter I wrote in German on or around April 14 to Stefan, as part of one of my Swiss meetings with Heidi:

How’s it going?  Here things are both normal and strange.  The food’s still bad, they still show movies in the Muskie, and all that.

But last week all the frats and sororities had their ‘Hell Week’ for the pledges.  Those poor pledges had to do so many humiliating things–singing kids’ songs in the cafeteria, yelling self-degrading things to actives, “wearing” the day’s menu, putting up with actives treating them like dirt.

They couldn’t even acknowledge the existence of members of the opposite sex except in class.

If they could get through the week, they got to be actives.  Otherwise, they were no longer in the frat or sorority.  Peter’s actually a Zeta now.

…Candice moved out a while ago because one of her friends needed a roommate.  She didn’t really want to, but her friend either didn’t know or didn’t like any of the people on the list given to her, and I wouldn’t have to pay for a single room.

Latosha had to move out, so she went into the new African suite across from us in Hofer.  Now it’s just Heidi, Tom and me.

I’ve started spending more time in the suite lounge, even though it looks like a waiting room.  At least we have a nice new floor lamp and a little round table now.

Candice’s fridge has been replaced by Tom’s.  I brought my TV and my now-better-working VCR from home after Spring Break.

I like having my own room to spread out in, especially since these rooms are so small, but next year we have to have eight people to a suite!

(This explains why Shawn and I watched the lounge TV instead of the one in my room: There was no TV in my room after Candice moved out, until Spring Break.)

Heidi reviewed my German and said I always used such long sentences!  In Germany, people were now encouraged to write much shorter sentences, and I was amazed because they seemed even shorter than many American sentences.  How did they avoid writing sentence fragments?  (Undine sentences tended to be far longer than mine.)

****

After the breakup, Peter kept denying to others and even to me just how serious we had been.  As I’ve already documented, from diaries I kept during our relationship, Peter was always saying how much he wanted to marry me, and making plans of our life together and what the wedding would be like.

My mom also saw how serious he was about me, and saw his expectations, as I wrote in my diary on April 12.  On the 18th, I spoke with the lady of the couple who ran the little Nazarene church, and I wrote,

She told me something Peter’d once said that I didn’t even remember: that we planned to wait until after graduation to marry.  This had caused her to think, Good, they’re not jumping into anything.  They’re going to be patient.

So I had witnesses to how serious he had been about me, but now he was spreading the story around–and even accusing me–of being pushy about marriage.

Not only was he gaslighting me, he was smearing me, and would continue to do so for some time, hurting my chances to find a new guy, and making me very angry with him.

He even told my future boyfriend Phil lies about me, and told Phil’s mom that I was obsessed with marriage, affecting advice she gave to Phil!

I was also angry because, when we broke up, he said he would have zero time for a social life, just work and school–and here he was pledging Zetas.  And a short time later, I discovered he had a girlfriend, which he told me he would have no time for.

What a liar!  If you’re going to break up with someone, at least give her the dignity of the truth!

****

On Easter, April 19, I had traditional Easter lunch with the couple who led the church.  They had a copy of the Sunday paper and comics, which I rarely got to see while at college, so it was a big deal.  We laughed because Sally Forth ate the ears off her kid’s Easter bunny, and called it an Easter chipmunk.

In the evening, some of the internationals (including Heidi) put together a little dinner for those of us in the suites who had to stay on campus.  This was the first Easter I’d ever spent away from home, and since the break for it was only four days long, I couldn’t go home.

As I walked to the Ley Chapel basement for dinner, I saw a rabbit by Chase.  This was another big thing for me, since back home I never saw rabbits except on the outskirts of town.

****

On April 27, I met Mona S, a sophomore and a couple years older than I was.  Bible class, led by Anna, was in the Main Suite Lounge each week.  I tried going there before, but hadn’t found anyone.

This time, I went to the lounge to watch Avonlea (based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novels) on the Disney Channel.  Since the Disney Channel was not supposed to come in on our cable system, it was scrambled, but if you caught it just right, you could still watch it.  It was easiest to see in the Main Suite Lounge.

Before the show finished, the Bible study group showed up.  Anna didn’t want to disturb me, and I guess I finished watching the show.  But after that, the group was still together, so I joined them.

I was amused and amazed to be led to the Bible study group through Avonlea.

The leader, a youth leader from Anna’s church who was probably near 30, looked uncannily like Shawn.  Mona, who knew Shawn or met him shortly thereafter, agreed.

The leader, being Pentecostal, began talking about speaking in tongues as a requirement for salvation.  Mona grabbed her Bible with both hands and said, “You are so wrong!”

They then began an argument, respectful but still an argument, about speaking in tongues; Mona with the usual objections from non-Pentecostals, the leader with the usual defenses from Pentecostals (“faith without works is dead,” etc.).

Afterwards, God put the idea in my mind to strike up a conversation with Mona, starting by asking her what her denomination was, since she obviously was not Pentecostal.  She told me she’d been praying or hoping for something like this, I suppose meaning an opportunity to start a prayer group.

We decided to meet the next day at 2 to pray together in my room.  The devotional said something about a vision for the spiritual future.  This campus, though called Christian, we saw as spiritually dead and in need of a spark.  I thought it was the responsibility of those of us students who were Christians, to light that spark.

That night, I imagined the college being transformed by the time I left there.   Though the campus did not turn into a Christian campus during my time there, attitudes did change: The college became a much nicer, more pleasant place to live even as early as sophomore year.

One of the many things Mona and I talked about over the next few weeks was the concept of cell groups sparking a new Great Awakening in the country.  She had a book about the spiritual Great Awakenings in America.

The first one happened in the 18th century.  The book said that cell groups, or young people (college students, especially) meeting together to pray about the country, were the sparks which started it.

We wanted to make our own cell group in this little prayer group we were now starting with just the two of us.  In a short time, Pearl and Anna heard about our prayer group, and in the last meeting they joined us.

I was already prayer partners with Shawn, but he wasn’t in this group.  He and I stopped being prayer partners because of Mona.

I remember sitting by the lake with Mona and her best friend late in May, as they talked about the campus’s summer beauty.  I thought maybe I should spend a summer there, working or studying.

Mona even knew Peter from high school, since she was from K–.

****

It may have been around this time when Peter stopped going to newspaper staff meetings.  I don’t remember if this disappointed or relieved me, but I do know it ticked off Darryl, who had to find a replacement Photo Editor.  Darryl didn’t know his reasons.

****

In April, as you may know, the L.A. riots broke out over the Rodney King trial verdict.  I was sitting in the lounge watching TV with several people when a news bulletin broke in.  The picture of L.A. in chaos filled the screen, shocking us all.

****

During one of my adviser meetings with Counselor Dude that semester, he asked me, “Are you happy?”  I said yes, so maybe I was more content by then.

I don’t see much about Shawn in my diary from this time, so there were probably no “make-out sessions” during this month, but things sure picked up in May.

Index
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

Shawn: Just Friends (with Benefits) or Dating?–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1992, Part 2

Part 1

Stefan was a lawyer, not a student, and he soon went back to Germany.  Travis rarely went to Swiss meetings, even though he stayed in the German suite all year.  Latosha did not attend Swiss meetings, so she eventually had to leave–and chose the African suite, which was just being established.

So when Candice left, it was just Heidi and me.

One day, Heidi and I decided to make some cheese.  You’d put the cheese in salt baths, let it sit, cut off bad parts, etc.  I don’t remember how the cheese itself was originally made; maybe it was milk in a mold or something.  Whatever the case, this was a fun project over the next few weeks.

When it was time to get salt for the salt bath, I went to dinner and sat with Shawn.  Shawn soon said goodbye and left me sitting there all alone.

Some guy I’d never met before got upset at Shawn, and invited me to sit with his group instead.

At some point, I began shaking salt from a salt shaker into a napkin for the salt bath.  He and his friends laughed and asked what I was doing that for.  I told them about the cheese, and they thought it was cool.  They also said the people in Food Service would probably give me whatever salt I needed.

I don’t remember if I got to try the cheese before it turned moldy and became something it wasn’t supposed to.

For Swiss meetings, Heidi would pick out German folk tales for me to read.  Or she read them to me, and I tried to understand.

I had a bit of trouble getting everything, though I seemed to get the gist of the story, and that frustrated her.  She said I shouldn’t try to translate every word in my head, because that affected my understanding.

She said that when she came here and had to understand native speakers, she wouldn’t try to understand every single word, and that helped her to grasp the main idea of what was being said.  Otherwise, she would have been lost.  Now, by the way, she spoke much more quickly and fluently.

The stories came from a big, old library book of German-language stories.  One was Undine by Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué.  Heidi told me to read the chapters and then report on them.

I used her big, Langenscheidt German-English dictionary to translate it, but many of the words were obsolete.  I don’t remember if they were in the dictionary.  It took me quite a while to read the chapters because of this.

When the end of the year loomed close, Heidi decided to read the remaining chapters and report on them to me.  She wrote and read the report in (modern) German.

Undine was a water fairy who had to marry to acquire a soul.  When I heard the report, I thought it said that Undine was evil and turned on her adoptive parents and her husband Huldbrand.  When Huldbrand tried to escape to a girl named Bertalda, Undine killed him and, I believe, her parents.

When I wrote my story “Bedlam Castle” the following summer and mentioned Undine, my descriptions of her and what she did were based on this understanding.

In 1994, I found the big storybook in the Roanoke library, copied Undine, and began to translate it page-by-page.  Though I still could not translate many of the words, I understood what happened.

As it turned out, Undine was actually a good person, betrayed by her husband.  I had to change a few details in “Bedlam,” including the name of the water fairy who harassed Beth.

The story in English is here.  (I sure would’ve liked to have that translation back in 1994!)

****

Spring Break was a time to get away from school and be safe at home.  The four-and-a-half-hour drive home was usually enjoyable.  Of course, this time I was depressed on the way home because of Peter and possibly Shawn.

But usually, it was fun to sit there listening to my jam box with headphones, the radio tuned to whatever station was coming in: first WIXX from Green Bay, then Hot 102 in Milwaukee, then B96 in Chicago, and U93 on the way to South Bend.  B96, the dance and rap station, especially seemed to fit the big city of Chicago.  As I listened, I would stare out the window and daydream.

Often, the drive home would be at night, and I talked on and on to my dad (usually the person driving me) about happenings at school.  Then if we had to stop in Racine for the night and drive on the next morning, in the morning I listened to music and gazed out the window.  I guess I got all talked out.

I loved looking at the sights in Milwaukee and Chicago.  I was also quiet on the way back to school again.

In some ways, Milwaukee seemed cooler than Chicago, with its German spires and churches, and Laverne and Shirley feel.

In other ways, Chicago seemed cooler, with its clean-looking, futuristic architecture downtown, the Sears Tower, the triangular-shaped roof of that one building, culture, and the best radio stations.  It would take about an hour to drive through it, longer if the traffic was backed up.

My parents liked to take the quickest way around the city, but to humor me they would often drive through it so I could see the sights.  It didn’t take three hours to get through downtown back then, like it does now.

Whether or not my cat Hazel acted happy to see me depended on her mood, and how much she wanted to punish me for leaving her for so long.  But she usually warmed up to me eventually, and I had my kitty to pet and get my cat-fix from.

Now that Peter no longer wanted to even be friends with me, I couldn’t go to his house and pet all the cats.  I kept going through major kitty withdrawals.

I believe it was over Spring Break when Dad told me he had already installed a new Windows program on the computer.  It was probably Windows 3.1.

Peter had just put Windows on the computer over Christmas Break, but it was already obsolete.  Dad was always upgrading and putting more memory into our computer–and buying new computers.

Some people tried to tell me that I should be over Peter by a certain time.  You can’t tell a person when they “should” be over someone.  A heart takes however long it takes, and will not be rushed.  It’s an individual thing.  And, well, it had only been two months.

During Spring Break, I found my high school yearbook and flipped through it.  I especially wanted to see if S.G. signed it, and he did.  I was sure he had.  S.G. was a friend in my Economics/Government class.  We sat near each other all year, and chatted a lot before class started.

I always wondered why he didn’t ask me out, and figured he just saw me as a friend.  In 2010, I found out I was very wrong about this, because on Facebook he told me he’d been deeply in love with me.  He didn’t have the courage to ask me out, then after graduation, he didn’t know how to find me, then went into the Navy.

It’s sad because I would have gone out with him if he’d only asked, and it would have been wonderful to be with a guy I liked who liked me, because I had very little besides unrequited love and no dates in high school.  I have been told by many different people that I’m pretty, so it was probably because I was painfully shy, socially awkward, and dressed very modestly, hiding my curves.

****

On the 29th, when my parents brought me back to school, we brought my TV and VCR back with me, now that both were fixed.  After Dad hooked them up and my parents left, I watched a movie version of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, satisfied to do something I enjoyed which finally took me away from my troubles.

It was also good to watch this VCR because, for years, it had been good for nothing but changing channels on my TV, which was not cable-ready.  (The VCR became mine when it got old and my family got a new one.)

But Dad had finally figured out how to clean it, and it could not only change channels, but could also record, play back, rewind, and fast forward.  It was fixed so well that it still worked when I graduated from college!

Of course, it occasionally got hungry for tapes, so Dad would have to fix it again to keep my tapes (especially rented ones) from getting ruined.

During the deep winter, Candice and I wrapped up in blankets during the day, and shivered under the covers at night.  Now that Candice was gone, her pillows no longer blocked the heating vent–and that room would get hot, even on cold nights.

I believe the heater control was broken–or maybe we didn’t even have one–so I couldn’t turn it down or off.  Instead, I had to open a window.  This was weird, sleeping with the window open on cold nights, but it was also wonderful to smell the winter air and hear birds singing.

I mentioned to Tom once how strange it was to hear birds that time of year, and even at night.  I couldn’t remember hearing winter birds or even night birds back in South Bend.

One time that Shawn came over to visit, he said I was always so sad, that “It looks like you just lost your best friend and your dog–and your best friend shot your dog.”  He smiled when he said that.

He didn’t seem to realize that, with what I was going through, I had every right to be sad all the time.  I wasn’t the “negative” person he thought I was: I was just going through depression.

I had lost my best friend, Peter, and less than two months previous.  What did he expect me to do, dance, laugh and sing?  That would be unnatural!

Shawn didn’t help when he refused to say–to the world or to me–that we were seeing each other, despite acting like we were.

Now that I often went places alone after dark, such as to get dinner, I had to keep an eye out.  I’d watch the bushes and everywhere where someone might hide in wait.  Nothing ever happened to me, but at least I was watchful in case anything ever did.

I made several note cards and printouts to hang on the little bulletin board above my desk, with inspirational sentences and quotes.  They weren’t the typical “Hang in there, baby” clichéd phrases.  There were two note cards about God working, and one page full of quotes about the relationship between Catherine and Valancourt in Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.

To some extent, this relationship mirrored the one between Peter and me, since it seemed perfect and then broke up.  Catherine broke up with Valancourt when she heard he was doing various immoral things, such as gambling and visiting a certain woman who I believe was married.  An old woman chastened Catherine and told her that since she and Valancourt wanted to be together, they should be.

Catherine went through so much pain after the breakup that you would’ve thought he broke up with her, not the other way around.  The ending gave me hope.  I also identified with Catherine, who was called “melancholy.”  However, for her “melancholy” was a compliment, not a criticism.

By the way, this book was about 600 pages long, roughly 300 pages per volume.  I read it because the heroine of Northanger Abbey filled her mind with it.  An old copy was in the Roanoke library.

I’m not sure if the song “Just Another Day” by Jon Secada came out in spring or summer of 1992, but I identified with it.  The persona wondered how he could make it through another day without his love.  And the music was lovely.

Every once in a while, all during this time, I heard the sound of a plane overhead.  Since I had been born in the 70s, I had heard and loved this sound all my life.  It connected me with the years of my past.  (This made 9/11 even more poignant, when the planes stopped.)

***

What were Shawn and I to each other?

On the one hand, much of our relationship was a horrible mistake.  Christian Girls, be careful of guys who keep trying to push you to do things you don’t want to do, physically or through persuasion, telling you it’s not sinful as long as you don’t do such-and-such–especially if they don’t even love you.  My next boyfriend, Phil, did not like Shawn at all because of what he did.

On the other hand, however, it was a perfectly ordinary rebound relationship spoiled by too much talking and analyzing.  We were both lonely and kept visiting each other alone, so it’s no wonder we kept making out.

The problem was, afterwards, he would go on and on for hours about how he didn’t want a relationship with me, and seemed to blame me for starting the make-out sessions–even though I never did.  He seemed to use me for a couple of hours and then treat me like a cheap whore.

He kept trying to change me: my hair, my clothes (which other people complimented), how I spent my time, my lack of makeup, how I acted.  I got sick of it.

We had no name for our weird, twisted relationship, having never heard of “just friends” making out.  Now, I hear, it happens all the time in the younger generations.  Many probably would see nothing wrong with it (except for the overanalyzing and criticisms).  There is even a trend of “just friends” having sex, or “friends with benefits.”

Were we officially “boyfriend/girlfriend”?  No.  But if Shawn had realized how much simpler it would be, that it would not require a commitment or passionate love, “seeing each other” would be a perfectly fine description.  There was never any doubt that we could see other people.

Sure, I had a huge crush on him, but at the same time I got crushes on other guys.  One was a young and single teacher; one, James, I didn’t know but he seemed to know everybody I knew; and one was part of a little group I had breakfast with each morning sophomore year.

I figured the teacher was off-limits, especially after another (single) teacher lost his job over a relationship with a senior girl.

As for James, since I didn’t know him, I didn’t get much chance to say anything.  We both worked in Food Service sophomore year, but not together, and just passed each other occasionally.

As for the third guy, we were always with two other girls, so the subject never came up.  (I should have spoken up when he asked if any of us wanted to go see Bram Stoker’s Dracula with him.)

Once, I even met a guy at a campus play; he asked me out, and I said yes.  He was Cindy’s friend, and went to a different school.  Unfortunately, he got back together with his ex-girlfriend, and never called me to set up a date.

But then, maybe it was “fortunately,” since I heard he was into the same things as Peter (drinking, smoking).

I saw him occasionally, since he knew Cindy; I’m sure he remembered what happened between us, because he would always look at me when I walked by.  I could tell he was still attracted to me.

But I had decided no, not again, so I didn’t talk to him much.  (He seems to know all my Roanoke friends, and now we’re Facebook friends.  LOL)

But back to Shawn.  Shawn once said he would love to go on a date with me, but when I asked him, said no.

If he had just stopped hedging and said, “We are seeing each other, we can go on dates like normal people, and we can see anybody else we want,” this would have been much simpler.

Instead, he strung me along for the next year, never putting a proper label on things.  I never said we had to get married; I just wanted our relationship to have a more respectable name, to let things go however they would go.

The whole campus seemed to know there was something going on.  People would ask if we were going out; guys would go to Shawn and say, “You should see Nyssa today.  She looks really pretty.”  It would’ve been nice to tell people, “Yeah, we’re seeing each other, and we can see other people, too.”

Do I regret kissing him?  No, though I do regret certain things that happened.  (Once again, be careful, girls: Guys, even Christian ones, can use all sorts of persuasive arguments to convince you that it’s not a sin to do what he’s asking for.)  Before things turned bad, we had a lot of fun, and he helped me get over Peter.  (The funny thing is, our twisted relationship lasted longer than my serious relationships with Peter or Phil.)

Neither of us drank, so we did this with all our faculties working.

I do regret the constant arguing and overanalyzing.  (Heidi knew Shawn, and told him he was too analytical.)

We never had vaginal intercourse, because that was “wrong”–but he lured me into doing plenty of other things.  Every weekend he would come over, or ask me over; he would start cuddling up with me as we watched a movie, or massaging me, then eventually turn it into doing other things, getting me to do the things he wanted.

His hand would go places that Peter’s never went, shocking me because Shawn was a Christian who should know better; then Shawn would tell me how it wasn’t wrong, that his ex-girlfriend told him breasts were just another part of her like her arm.

Through it all, and because the last time we had met he always told me it wasn’t going to happen anymore, I believed that now, at last, he was in love with me and this was proof of it.

Then finally he would stop and it would turn into a long session of blasting me for everything, blaming me for what happened, treating me like some cheap whore, telling me all the faults in my personality, telling me how he wasn’t attracted to me and didn’t want to date me because of these faults.

He was very manipulative, but kept turning it around on me, making me into the manipulative one.

Things got so dysfunctional between Shawn and me that I eventually had to see a counselor to find out what was “wrong with me.”

I think if he had stopped hedging and analyzing, there never would have been anything “wrong with me” (other than nonverbal learning disorder, which probably fueled everything from my failed relationship and horrible post-breakup with the liar Peter to my troubles with Shawn).

We probably would not have gotten married, since we were incompatible, but there wouldn’t be nearly so many regrets or hurt feelings.  There probably would still be some, since his attempts to change me made me feel like crap:

Why should I have started wearing makeup if I didn’t want to?  Catherine didn’t wear makeup, but she was popular with the guys.

What was wrong with how I dressed?  I dressed in attractive and modest clothes, which–from what I read in the Bible–is far more becoming to a Christian woman than dressing sexy, which Shawn said I should do.

His changes to my hair did not look so great day-to-day, because of my face shape and low hairline.

I was proud of myself for being more outgoing at college, but he said I was too shy and reserved, making me feel like the weird little girl in the corner all over again.

Shawn told me to stop watching the ground as I walked.  I had only heard this complaint once before in my life; I thought it normal to watch the ground.  It could be me compensating for NVLD by making sure I stepped properly, or it could be the state of the neighborhood sidewalks where I grew up, or it could be the threat of stepping in dead things and various forms of dung.

In any case, though I tried to fix this for Shawn’s case, I still do it.

As things dragged on, Shawn’s criticisms also showed a deep misunderstanding of the kind of person I was.  He accused me of things I would not dream of.  He told me things other people said, but I discovered these people didn’t know me well, either.

Yet he had a way of talking you down until you believed him.  I had to talk to friends and my roommate to remind myself of my true character.

One of the articles I referenced in my page on nonverbal learning disorder lists things that NVLD people are often accused of, things that are not true at all.  Others don’t understand the disorder, and the NVLD person does not understand where the accusations come from.  I found at least a few things in that list that Shawn accused me of, things which were not true.

One was a manipulation of time.  A reading of NVLD materials shows that he probably gave me nonverbal cues that he wanted to end a conversation and go to sleep, but I missed them completely–hence, I got labeled manipulative or rude.

This paragraph from Sue Thompson’s Nonverbal Learning Disorders sounds much like what I went through with Shawn:

Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.

The child who cannot ‘read’ these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant.

This child is none of the above. Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information.

Apparently, Shawn’s ultimate rejection of me was based on misperceptions–misperceptions he stubbornly held to even when I tried to set him straight.  NVLD strikes again, ruining another relationship.  After a particularly heinous criticism (which even plain-speaking Rachel vehemently disagreed with), I broke things off with him.

We did get back together, but not until after I told him how I felt.  Things finally just blew up, and were not resolved before he left school early.  (He was already going to be there for only two years before going to engineering school, but family issues forced him out several weeks early.)

For years, I saw this as a guy preying on my low self-esteem of the time.  But after watching Dr. Phil and getting older, I realize it wasn’t just that.  What was I getting out of it?  Why did I let him treat me that way?

Apparently, even though I wanted his love, it didn’t matter.  He helped me pass the time and stop thinking about Peter until I found a real boyfriend.  Good boyfriend prospects were not so easy to find.  So rather than low self-esteem, it may have been teenage hormones.

But Shawn found me an easy person to manipulate because of the NVLD.  As I look back over my life, and remember people like Shawn, Phil (my fiancé junior year, story to come), and my ex-best-friend Richard (who manipulated me with half-truths and persuasion, and whom I trusted because I thought he was a pious Orthodox Christian)–it’s horrifying to me just how easily I was manipulated by these men.

I wish I had been less susceptible.  I think it is my NVLD which makes me that way.  I’m trusting, especially if the person claims to be a Christian.  I thought this had all been behind me, until Richard’s deceptions became clear.  I must be more guarded in future.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1992, Part 1

I carried around my secret, Shawn and I acting around others as if nothing had happened, me telling none of my friends.

It made me happy and amused me to have this secret, not just around my friends but around Peter as well (since I had to see him at meetings for the school newspaper staff).

But there were still fits of crying which I couldn’t explain:

Had my heart grown cold?  Had my love for Peter finally left?  Was my heart now made of stone?  Was I sad that my relationship with Shawn would probably go no further than friendship?

Even while I was with Peter, I was attracted to Shawn, and occasionally pondered asking Peter if we could have an open relationship so I could date Shawn as well as Peter.

I also had thought that whole time that Shawn was attracted to me, that it made him uncomfortable because I–as he told me once–reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, and I was with another guy.

So it would make sense for it to sadden me that our makeout session ended as “just friends.”

Here is an interesting little tidbit in my diary, considering that “friends with benefits” was not a widely known concept back in 1992:

I wonder if I should suggest to Shawn the possibility of filling his occasional want of a girlfriend without actually being one: ‘blowing off steam,’ going to the dances?

The trouble was, for all the times Shawn would scold me over the following year of being hung up on Peter for so long, Shawn himself was still hung up on the girlfriend he had the summer of 1991.

And it was his idea to break up because he didn’t like that she–like me–had trouble opening up and talking to people, including him.

Yet I had no trouble opening up to him.

The summer of 1992, he even tried calling her up to get back together, but she had another boyfriend she was happy with and could talk to.

I think the biggest problem between us is that not only did I believe Peter was meant to be my husband, but Shawn was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend.

I wish we would’ve just forgotten about those two exes and had fun together.  Don’t let the past keep you from living in the present.

Most of the following diary entries were about Peter, talks with Latosha about Peter, trying to get “words from God” (as Pat Robertson termed it on The 700 Club in his Charismatic heresies) about Peter, drama with seeing him around campus and various other crap that was going on, his new off-campus girlfriend, my emotions going here and there, wanting a break from serious relationships so I could “find myself” as Latosha recommended–

–stuff that interested me at the time but is rather boring now (especially since that “word from God” was totally bogus and hindered me from moving on, as I so desperately needed to do–so mark that, all you lovelorn teenagers).

Peter was treating me like scum, while I had not been through this kind of heartbreak before and had no inner intuition telling me what I should or should not do, so kept making mistakes and relying heavily on the support and advice of my friends.  There was drama with his new off-campus girlfriend, but I don’t want to get into that.

I saw him at newspaper staff meetings and around campus, he was cussing like a sailor again, my friends kept telling me he had started smoking and underage drinking–When we were together, he had stopped cussing and thought smoking and underage drinking was stupid.

Also, my Nazarene faith was very strict, saying that cussing, smoking and drinking (period–even of age) were sins; up until college, I had always just assumed that all Christian faiths taught the same thing (he was Episcopalian).

But because these were not just “sins,” but bad for your health, my friends and I saw him as going down a path of teenage rebellion into things that would hurt him.

I was still struggling with my feelings for him, and now saw him as backsliding (as Nazarenes call it) from Christian behavior into a life of sin and depravity which could lead to his eternal damnation.

So he was no longer the kind of guy I wanted to be with anyway (I wanted a good Christian–like Shawn), and my feelings for him were starting to wane and transfer to both Tom and Shawn, but I was afraid to let my love for him go because I might stop praying so fervently for him to turn away from his sins.

But that wasn’t my only problem.  On 3/10, I wrote the following, which I believe is directly related to either NVLD/Asperger’s, selective mutism, and/or introversion.

Keep in mind that all my other teachers liked/loved me and never spoke to me this way, even though I was quiet in their classes, too, only speaking on occasion.

But my favorite teacher, my World Lit teacher sophomore year, told me that teachers would talk about their students, and they said about me that “She doesn’t say much, but when she does, she says good things.”

So apparently Ruth was the only one who took my quietness as some sort of stubborn behavioral problem:

Ruth [my German teacher] said something about how she keeps telling me to participate, and it’s her final warning.  I’m so sick of this.  That’s why I always hurry out of class when it’s over.  

I mean, does she know how many times I’ve been about to say something when someone else says it?  My mind just doesn’t work as quickly verbally as it does when I write.  

I try and try to give her what she wants, whatever it is, but I never get any credit for that.  I’ve gotten better, I tried to tell her once, but she didn’t seem to listen.

I’m glad I’ve begun to confide in T— about my frustration, especially today when Ruth left the room soon after the “incident.”  She gives me advice, and now someone else can know how I feel so dumped on (or whatever).

What is this “final warning” stuff, anyway?  I wasn’t aware of any punishment.  I’m not acting up in class.  I never saw it as a warning.  I won’t be referred to the Dean.  And it’s so unfair.  I don’t know if I can stand it much longer.

I guess I’ll have to study T— and R— and see what it is they do to keep “her” off their backs.  What is this magic formula?  What am I doing that’s so wrong??

Oh, by the way, last Friday, I began to say what a word meant just as she turned to me and said “—,” so I didn’t even have a chance to say anything before she’d started up again!  Just as I began to say something to keep her off my back, she got on it!!

I hope [usual German teacher, who was in Japan setting up a satellite campus] comes back next year.  I feel so threatened.

I have to keep telling myself, “She’s got her good points,” to keep myself from hating her.  It usually works, especially when she’s in a good mood.

But today, as she said those things to me, I was so angry I couldn’t even look at her, just kept flipping through my German dictionary to find words.

I was so glad for the chance to talk to T—, who, by the way, has been a victim too just recently.  I guess I just have a trait that doesn’t want to let people think they’re forcing me to do something, but that what I’m doing is what I independently think is best.

Again on the 14th, at 2:52 am, I wrote, “I have no idea what the German teacher’s problem was today [Friday, 3/13].  I’m not conscious of having done a thing to get her on my back again.”  Then,

Shawn stopped over unexpectedly, and we chatted for a while.  I said when he came, “I didn’t expect to see you here tonight,” and he said, “Neither did I.  I was out walking….”

… I didn’t mind the company at all.  He looked terrible; I don’t know if he’s been sick, or what.  He was about to leave, when I asked him when he’d like to meet [for prayer partners], and he decided to do it right then.

We chatted for a bit–we were both into similar TV shows and science fiction–then he left.

I’ve also found references to giving the proper “noises” when someone is speaking, to show that you’re listening.  Ruth, who was Swiss, also scolded me because I never made these “noises” while she was speaking, that I was the only person she knew who didn’t, and she couldn’t tell if I was listening.

I was indeed listening, but had absolutely no clue what she was talking about with these “noises.”  I thought it was her problem, because nobody ever mentioned such a thing to me before.

I wondered if there was something about Swiss culture that made her (and my suitemate Heidi, who was also Swiss) keep getting annoyed with me when other people were usually nice to me.

Heck, just having to stop and remember to nod your head or say uh-huh or any of these other things, can be rather distracting when you’re trying to focus and keep your mind from wandering.

Heidi once asked me why I didn’t say “hello” to everyone in the lounge whenever I came into the suite.  It just never occurred to me.

At home with my family, I never did it there, either, or responded when people came home and said hello.  It just never occurred to me.

And well, it seems like at home, you should be able to relax some of those social rules that are so exhausting because you have to keep remembering them and forcing yourself to do them.

****

On Saturday the 14th, in the evening, Shawn happened to stop in the suite with Heidi and at least one other person.  I was in the bathroom at the time, but had been sitting in the lounge watching TV, so I had gone back to the couch.

Shawn walked through the lounge and said something to me.  He was leaving, but I stopped him to ask if I could tell anyone what happened between us on the 29th.

We had a “longish” conversation, but afterwards he stuck around, watching some documentary with me.  It was on PBS during a pledge drive, so it lasted two or three hours.

Yet he still stuck around, finding the last part of a James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever.  Heidi came along and gave us a carton of Rippin’ Good cookies, saying to leave her one, and they’re not expensive like bread, so we could eat as many as we wanted.  As I wrote in my diary,

Once she said “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” and Shawn [remarked that] a man’s best friend is a dog–warm and fuzzy, etc.–and a girl’s is cold and hard.  You don’t say things like that to Heidi!  She got after him, and I threatened to throw my (half-eaten) cookie at him.

Latosha came in once and remarked on the cozyness of having cookies, etc.  Heidi came in several times and remarked on how late it was.

Once, while the girl in the movie wore a bikini, Shawn asked if I looked like that.  I asked him what he meant, and acted shocked at such a question.

Once, probably during the documentary, I fetched two Hershey’s kisses, and offered him one.  That was probably when he asked whose boots those were (mine, in the corner by the door), and threw his balled-up wrapper in one!  He didn’t think it went in, but I found it when I shook my boots out later on, giving him a look.

After the movie, he found Mad Max, and we kind of watched that (a channel-flipper, he is [though not as bad as my suitemate Tom, who flipped so fast you couldn’t see a thing]), and, later on, another movie about a post-apocalyptic car race (a stupid comedy).

The latter movie had a “scene” in it, and another movie we saw a few minutes of had upper nudity in it.  I kept looking away and making faces, remarking on the kind of things they have on late at night, but Shawn kept looking, not even turning the station.

[I kept noting how late it was, almost 3am, but he didn’t get the hint, and I finally got so hungry for chocolate that I got a couple more Hershey’s kisses and offered him one.]  “Want another one?” I said.

“Is there a message in this?” he said, and I acted like he’d said some shockingly funny joke (which I considered it).

However, I did subconsciously mean it another way, which I knew as I offered the kiss and said what I did.  After all, I was longing for him to kiss me again….

Around 3, I got so sleepy that I moved so I could rest my head on the couch cushion and close my eyes during commercials….Once, he leaned back against my legs….

About 3:00, he got up, lifted me up–afghan and all, carried me into my room, and put me on my bed, me crying, “What’re you doing?!”  Then I got up and began folding the afghan….

He said, “Need a hug?”  I took it, then wondered, “What a long hug.”  It wasn’t much of one on my part, I guess, since I was so tired.  I didn’t know he was waiting for me.

[He had a guy-view of hugs–short and pound the back–while I had a girl-view–hugs can last as long as either person wants and be platonic.]

I ended it, thinking it had gone on long enough.  But he didn’t move.  “I could’ve left several hours ago,” he said, then began stroking my sides.  He does like me now? I thought.

He went up too far, so I crossed my arms as protection.  I could hardly look at him, because I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Somehow, we ended up sitting on the bed, me trembling as his talk turned to something ambiguous–the “scenes.”  He asked me about them, and I said I turned away because they were disgusting and I didn’t want them to affect me.

He said, “So you’re afraid you’re human after all?”  [Er–no, I was trying to follow my Christian values and not think of sex before marriage!  Which you should know, fellow Christian!]

He saw me trembling.  I told him I felt nervous and anxious.  He checked how fast my heart was beating, but it wasn’t as fast as he wanted.  Somehow, we ended up sitting like before, his arms around me, me resting my sleepy head against his chest.

He asked, “If I kissed you, would you kiss me back?” and I said, “Maybe,” and did.  He kept trying to stir me up, trying to get to second base, while I tried to stop him….

I finally made him stop, saying I didn’t feel comfortable with him doing [that]–and he said he didn’t feel comfortable, either, though he meant he didn’t feel comfortable doing it to me.

We tried to sort things out until after 5 in the morning!  Then he left me to think and to sleep, saying to look in my [Bible] concordance for what was making me so gloomy.  Now, I think it’s quite obvious I’m just upset and stressed and loaded down.

Once, I said, “I just want to know what you want!”  “I want to be friends,” he said, but we’re both totally confused.  What do we want?  (He did tell me I’m kind and caring.)

The next day at lunch, I found Shawn sitting with Pearl, Julie and another girl.  No trouble figuring out who to sit with!  I saw Shawn looking very tired, and wondered if anybody noticed that we both were, or how strangely we acted around each other–uncomfortable.

He had specifications of what he wanted in a girlfriend; apparently I didn’t meet them.  He said if he went out with me, it would ruin his chances to go out with someone else.

He said I was gloomy and had lost my joy, but that was because of what I’d been going through lately.  A 30ish lady from church, whom I’d known for years, said I’m not a gloomy person, but serious.

He had this idea that he was more mature than I was, but he had two siblings with cystic fibrosis and suffered breakdowns because of it, so how could I possibly reach his level of life experience?

On March 26, shortly after a long talk I had with that church lady about Peter and Shawn, I wrote,

V– was so right when she said I’ve got a guard up against love relationships right now.  I’ve known it for at least a little while, but she’s the first person to say it so concretely….

I don’t want anything serious [with Shawn] because I don’t want to be hurt again, but a friend is “safe”–he wouldn’t leave me.  I want someone male who’ll always be there, though not necessarily a boyfriend….

A deeper relationship is, for the moment, undesirable and unwanted because of the possibility of future rejection and hurt, which would probably cause the guy to leave me.

To be continued…..

Index

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Left Behind Review: Armageddon

Armageddon by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414335008, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

On pages 1-2, we learn the darkness is only over New Babylon, not the whole world.

On page 13, apparently Rayford has changed a lot since the first book: Back then, he just hurried through the suffering people on the tarmac after the Rapture when planes fell out of the sky.  Now, he’s moving through the darkness of New Babylon, surrounded by suffering people, and he’s desperate to help them.

He finds a lady who has the Mark of the Beast, but has always despised it; she’s praying in her agony; on page 16, she says,

“I’ve been praying that God will save my soul.  And when he does, I will be able to see.”  Rayford didn’t know what to say.  She had said herself it was too late.  “In the beginning,” she said.  “For God so loved the world.  The Lord is my shepherd.  Oh, God…”

Too late?  This woman is still alive–It’s not too late!  Whether you believe souls can still be saved after death, they can certainly be saved before death, and she’s still alive!

This screwed-up Left Behind theology makes things needlessly hard and tragic.  Don’t discourage her when she is repentant!  On page 18, we read,

Rayford knew the prophecy–that people would reject God enough times that God would harden their hearts and they wouldn’t be able to choose him even if they wanted to.

But knowing it didn’t mean Rayford understood it.  And it certainly didn’t mean he had to like it.

He couldn’t make it compute with the God he knew, the loving and merciful one who seemed to look for ways to welcome everyone into heaven, not keep them out.

Yeah, go with that, Ray!  No, it doesn’t compute.  But whether this woman can be saved or not, she has become an ally for the Tribulation Force–as long as she still lives.

This is mentioned again on pages 36 as Ray thinks, “But she was beyond help now,” then his “counseling” the woman (telling her she’s beyond hope) on this question on page 40.

But how do you know she’s beyond help?  Just because Tsion thinks so?

And on page 40, when she says, “This hurts.  It hurts worse than the pain from the darkness.  Just learned it too late, I guess, that you don’t mess with God.”  This makes him sound like the Mafia or an abusive person!

On page 23, our newest young lovers, Ree Woo and Ming Toy, want to get married, but everyone tries to talk them out of it.  Everyone, that is, except Chloe, who understands that despite all the hardships of being married and having children during the last year of the Tribulation, it’s all worth it.

And, well, there’s the issue of, you know you only have one year left, there’s no guarantee you’re going to live to see the Millennium, and it’s your last chance to have sex in a religiously-approved union before you die horribly.  Go for it!  Though, of course, the author doesn’t mention this….

On page 45, Rayford and his new friend Otto board an elevator with three executives who–unlike them–can’t see in the darkness.  One executive says to the other that he took the crystal off his watch so he can feel what time it is.

But Otto taps the guy on the shoulder and rubs his thumb against the guy’s watch at the same time, moving the hands.  When the executives leave, Otto laughs that “that was the last time he’ll have the time right.”

Well, that was a dirty trick!  This is our book’s Christians?  Playing nasty little tricks like gremlins?

On page 86, we find Albie in Iran, and that without so many Christians in the world, the cities of Abadan and Al Basrah have gone totally Sodom and Gomorrah-like, with “every form of sin and debauchery” “displayed right on the street.”

You’ve got “bars, fortune-telling joints, bordellos, sex shops, and clubs pandering to every persuasion and perversion teemed with drunk and high patrons.  Hashish permeated the air.  Cocaine and heroin deals went down in plain sight.”

And this is not “the seedy side of town,” but the town itself.  Yeah…Because only Christians are concerned about law and order or morality.  This is Iran, right?  Where is the Muslim influence?

Page 97 is confusing.  Albie, who is in a hurry and trying to make a deal with an old “business” associate who can bug Carpathia’s meeting room, sees a tattoo artist come in the room.  The associate tells him, “She has neither ears nor tongue.”  But on page 97, she speaks to the associate.  What?  Continuity!

On page 102–Bye, bye, Albie.  I liked you.  🙁

On page 111, oh, sure enough, there it is: Carpathia’s government is the “New World Order.”  Gotta fit that old conspiracy in there somewhere!

Add the “lady’s” name–Krystall–who is Carpathia’s secretary; on p. 203, they talk more about poor doomed Krystall, saying she

“made her decision, took her stand, and accepted the mark….She’s going to die anyway…and when she does, she’s not going to like what eternal life looks like.  That doesn’t mean we can’t befriend her and be grateful for her help.  Or that we can’t feel sorry that she waited too long to see the truth.”

Argh!  Can’t you at least try to save her?  She’s not even dead yet!  What if you’re wrong and she can still be saved?  Wouldn’t you just kick yourself if you didn’t give her the chance?

There’s more of this on page 253, only with other people who are about to be executed for not taking the mark, three people who “looked miserable” and who Chloe assumed “were among the hard-hearted who may have been desperate to change their minds but had waited too long.”

But–if they’re so desperate to change their minds, they still can!  They’re not dead yet!

On page 273 is an interesting little observation by Tsion: “When people hear the truth of God preached on the Carpathia-owned networks, well, it is like taking the gospel into the very pit of hell.”

Actually, the gospel message was already taken to the pit of Hell when Christ preached there during the three days when his body was lying dead on Earth–and his message included even the people you Trib Force people think are irrevocably damned!  (Since all people of all times were present at his preaching, according to my priest.)

On page 278, Tsion gives a sermon and says to those who have not yet taken the mark, “it may still be too late, because you waited so long.  You pushed the patience of God past the breaking point.”

While he does give some hope that it’s not yet too late, this statement still makes me want to cry out, No!  God is so patient that he even comes to us after death (Christ preaching in Hell).

On page 318–which comes after Chloe has been executed for not having the mark–Kenny hangs onto his father Buck when Buck has to leave.  This is impressive in its poignancy, as we see a child who has lost his mother and doesn’t want his father to leave him, too.

On page 357, Armageddon has begun, and there are actually horses with riders for some reason, even though you’d think Carpathia–with 90% of the world’s weapons, tanks, etc.–would have no need for such primitive tactics.

The “good guys” set up 100 DEW (directed energy weapons) operators, who “fire invisible beams of directed energy at the enemy.  In essence, they heated soft tissue past the tolerance point in less than a second, and if the rider or horse didn’t elude the ray, their flesh would burn.”

On page 364, the DEW operators zap “the black rim of horses and horsemen surrounding Petra.”  George cracks that “Some of that horse meat is probably well done.”  Poor horses.  🙁  They didn’t ask to be the horses of the Antichrist; they’re just horses.

Then on page 366, George says, “..wasn’t it fun to attack with the directed energy weapons?”  What–FUN?  Okay, are you Shaka Zulu, enjoying killing?

On page 393, Buck is mortally wounded–while he’s on his cell phone.  So he dies while doing what he loved most in life.  I hope there are phones for him in Heaven.

On page 403, an addendum called “The Truth Behind the Fiction” (which is funny in itself), talks about the rise of China and its possible role in the End Times.

I had to laugh because back in the 80s, the prophecy pushers said Russia was the big player.  Now they’re changing it to China.  Really, the only way you can know for sure is for the End Times to come: Nations rise and fall all the time.

[6/28/12- 7/25/12]

 

Another Blogger Who Refused to Back Down From Abusers’ Threats

Some years ago, Pump up the Volume inspired me to keep writing my truth.  This may have been back in the early 2000s, or it may have been in the mid-2000s, I don’t remember now.  Maybe even both.  As the reclusive main character said at the end,

I’m calling for every kid to seize the air. Steal it, it belongs to you. Speak out, they can’t stop you. Find your voice and use it. Keep this going. Pick a name, go on air. It’s your life, take charge of it.

Do it, try it, try anything. Spill your guts out and say s*** and f*** a million times if you want to, but you decide. Fill the air, steal it. Keep the air alive. TALK HARD!!!!

I’m discovering many other people with blogs much like mine, who have been threatened with lawsuits or have been stalked, but have overcome this.

The blogs are diverse: victims of narcissistic family members, sexual abuse victims, people who went through divorce, people who were married to/living with abusers/the personality disordered.  They give their stories, then the abusers find their stories and begin to stalk them online.  Or even threaten them with lawsuits.

There’s Mikalee Byerman (was sued over her blog), Malignant Love (being stalked in real life by her ex), and Christina Enevoldsen (threatened with lawsuit by her parents for speaking out about sexual abuse).

Because they were telling the truth and they knew it, they kept going, kept telling their stories, kept speaking out.

Byerman’s blog is still up.

Here is Christina’s story of how she dealt with her parents’ threats:

http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2012/07/08/truth-about-my-abusers-threats/

One quote:

My mom did everything she could to appear as powerful as possible. That’s as much as she had and it was nothing. She meant to intimidate me into silence as though I was still that little girl that she could manipulate and control. She did her worst but she can’t shut me up.

Comment #9 is an addendum to this story.  Basically, her mother sent her a letter accusing her of lying about her father’s sexual abuse, calling it a “fantasy,” and threatening to sue her if she wrote a book about it.

The second comment to her blog, by Darlene Ouimet, who runs the popular blog “Emerging From Broken” (see comment #35), describes her own dealings with her mother, who threatened to sue her, as well.

Comment #5, by PS, also tells a similar story of her abusive family finding her website and threatening to sue.

Comments #6 by Stanley, #8 by Kylie, #23 by Cynthia, #24 by Getting There, #28 by Andrea, and #37 by g, show that more and more people are finding the courage to tell their stories (such as through blogs and books) because of those who have already told.

In #11, Caden says to “take our power back.”

In #12, Netty says, “I find it so interesting that often the abuser threatens legal action for slander to try and keep the victims quiet.”

The Net–and a change in attitudes toward people who speak out–is giving a voice to so many of us who were silent before.  More and more of us–abused, bullied, and/or targeted by narcissists–are speaking out and telling our stories and validating each other.  It’s a revolution that cannot be stopped.

For my own situation, I have gone into detail in I Will NOT Be Silent and Now I’m Being Stalked.

I also have my husband as a witness, various chat logs and e-mails, and Todd as proof that it’s not just me.

These narcissists continue to spy on my blog, have been doing so at least once a week, and I have the logs.  They will most likely read this post as well.

The courage of these other bloggers to keep on telling their stories, exercising their right to free speech, and not backing down to the threats of the abusers–not allowing the abusers to bully and intimidate them into silence again–is inspiring.

We must keep on telling what’s happened to us.  It is the truth, and telling the truth “sets us free” by taking us from victimhood to being survivors.  The more of us have the courage to stand up to our bullies/abusers and tell what they’ve done, the more the victims begin to “win” and the abusers finally become the “losers.”

I have not allowed my bullies to threaten and intimidate me into silence, have not allowed them to gaslight me into doubting my own senses and thinking that lie was truth and truth was lie, have not allowed them to twist my words into saying what they never did say and make me into the bully; don’t you do it, either.

We must stand up for ourselves and stop the cycle of abuse.  TALK HARD!

This isn’t a blogger, but a Tweeter who insisted on her right to tell the truth about what happened to her: Savannah Dietrich, 17-Year-Old Sexual Assault Victim, Faces Charge for Naming Attackers

My Trip to Oz and Back is much like my own blogs, an account of two years spent by the writer with her girlfriend, which was actually a 50-page letter sent by the author to her ex-girlfriend.

That was in the late 90s, when the author had never heard of borderline personality disorder, so there had been no official diagnosis for her to point to.  But the more she learned about BPD, the more she knew her ex-girlfriend had it, so she posted this letter to help others who are dealing with someone with BPD.

It has been on the Web since 2003, and by November 2006 had received 53,000 hits.  As the author wrote on the main page,

Writing this was cathartic. It doubled as a form of therapy. I actually did send the letter; however, I doubt that it had much effect.  The more I learned about BPD, the more I realized that the likelihood of this person ever really understanding, was probably close to zero….

Why would I want to put such a personal document online?  There are several reasons. First, I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of what it is like to be in a relationship with a person with BPD. There are many books and websites on BPD, but relatively few from a significant other’s point of view.

Second, I am hoping that someone out there might read a bit and identify with it.  When one is in a difficult situation, sometimes just hearing about another person’s similar experience can be affirming–as in, “I’m not the only one.”

Finally, I consider myself a success story–see the final chapter, the epilogue.  My wish is to give hope to others.

Like me, the author changed names and identifying details.  This is to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.

It’s the most baffling part of Richard and Tracy threatening a lawsuit, because I never used and never intend to use their real names in these blogs–and anything I would tell my priest about this, would be the truth, and not in any way actionable.

Joyful Alive Woman also wrote about her abusive, narcissist, former female friend.

There is also The Angry Daughter.  This one is full of sustained rage and makes even my own angriest posts look like Care Bear Land.  But from what I read there, the author and her mother–both of whom use real names in their competing blogs–have been trading threats of lawsuits for defamation.  Yet TAD’s blog is still up after 6 years.

[Update 6/9/14:] Now Christina Enevoldsen’s parents have made good on their lawsuit against her.  But as PS writes in comment #3,

An attorney I talked to years ago when my birth family threatened to sue me said most of these cases get thrown out.

Judges feel it’s “he said, she said” and unless someone’s lost a job, suffered serious financial problems, been denied housing, etc., based on what’s been said about them, then there’s nothing to really compensate – and that’s even if the complainant declares emotional distress.

I get the feeling whatever lawyers they talked to probably told them the same thing because they never pursued it.

I’m hoping and praying that will be the case here with you. You have the right to speak your truth.

That she’s trying to use legal means to silence you does NOT alter the truth, it only reflects her desire to suppress it and it only reflects what a vindictive woman she is.

Even if she wins the suit and you have to close this site, it still will NOT change the truth.

The result: Christina won.

Shawn Makes His Move–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1992, Part 2

One of Candice’s friends lost her own roommate somehow.  The school gave her a list of new roommates to choose from so she wouldn’t have to pay for a single room (double price).  Unfortunately, she either didn’t know or didn’t like anyone on it.

Since she was a senior and didn’t want major disruptions, she asked Candice to room with her.  Candice didn’t want to move, but wanted to help her friend.  By the way, just before she left, Candice said I was a good roommate.  So don’t think it was me.

To the shock of me, Candice, and probably everybody else in the suite, E– began visiting Latosha’s room–and she didn’t turn him out.  I don’t remember if they argued, which they probably did.  Latosha often giggled.

Sometime during Spring Semester, on a Sunday, I turned to Masterpiece Theater on PBS.  The movie that night came from what they called a Gothic novel from the 18th century, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.  I hadn’t heard of it before, but wanted to check out those old Gothics, after reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Unfortunately, I only caught the second half of Clarissa, a two-parter, so I didn’t understand everything.  Alastair Cooke explained in the beginning what had happened in the first part, so at least I wasn’t totally lost.  One kind of Gothic novel, especially in those days, dealt with a girl being locked up, and that’s what happened to Clarissa.

The movie enthralled me; the ending almost brought me to tears.  This movie, by the way, was British; Lovelace was played by Sean Bean–now known to many as Boromir in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.

And this book was referred to in the notorious French novel Dangerous Liaisons.  There are many similarities between DL and Clarissa, though Clarissa was not married and never, ever gave in to Lovelace’s desires.  Clarissa inspired DL.

Sophomore year I read the (abridged) book; in 1996, I finally found my own, unabridged copy in Barnes and Noble, and read all sorts of things which I missed the first time.

The story of Clarissa–paragon of virtue but treated as undutiful by her family for not marrying a lout with money, and then mistreated by a man who claimed to love her–touched me deeply.  She became my favorite heroine of all time.

****

In the New Group, life centered around meals, at least for us.  We’d meet at the cafeteria or go there together.  We’d sit around chatting until we all had classes or got tired of sitting in the cafeteria, so after dinner we could be there for quite some time.  It was a fun group, too, often breaking out in uproarious laughter.  Rachel and Catherine soon joined this group, bringing their own demented humor to it.

The jocks sat together at a long table near the doors, acting obnoxious.  They were usually the ones who clapped when a glass was dropped–this we didn’t mind–but also, at least once, one of them burped loud enough to carry across the room.  “Oh, lovely,” I muttered.

Pearl often talked about a friend named Dave O’Hara.  I may have met him once freshman or sophomore year.  I think he was skinny, with blond hair and blue eyes.

We didn’t talk much–Pearl was talking to him in passing–but I remembered him because he was also Peter’s friend.  I don’t know what half truths and lies Peter might have told him about me.  I hoped Pearl would tell him the truth.

Early in the Spring Semester, Sharon and Pearl began talking about joining a sorority.  They finally decided on what I thought were the Phi-Dells.  (It was actually “Phi-Delts,” Phi-Delta-Omega.)

Then Sharon and Pearl went through pledging and Hell Week and getting initiated.  I’m not sure what “rush” means at other colleges, but RC sororities had nothing called that.  You just came to a little party and decided if you wanted to pledge.

Pledges were people who wanted to be members; actives were members.  Hell Week was when pledges of frats and sororities had to act like “evils” (members of the opposite gender) didn’t exist, and do whatever other forms of initiation the actives wanted them to do.

Shawn Makes his Move

On Leap Day, I dreamed that Peter and I were talking amiably, but he kept trying to get me to go somewhere else.  Eventually, a beautiful blonde holding a drink walked into the room.  She was the reason he wanted me to go elsewhere: He didn’t want me to know they were dating.

In real life, a short time later, I discovered that he had a new, blonde girlfriend.

On Leap Day, things turned weird:

It all started at lunch.  I sat with Julie and Dan, and we were soon joined by Shawn and Steve (the guy who dressed like Satan for Halloween, but normally looked like Jesus with his long, brown hair).  We all had lots of fun, then Julie and Darryl left.

Shawn asked if he could eat some of my fries because the cafeteria had run out of everything he wanted before he got there.  He chatted with Steve for a bit, then we all left the table.

We were supposed to put our trays in a window to the dishwashing room.  It was closed by then, and I stood pondering whether or not opening it would cause Steve’s tray to fall on the floor.

Shawn walked up and saw me.  He led me around into the dishwashing room and put his tray down on the other side of the window, then started walking away as I put mine down.

I turned around to leave: He’d turned to see if I was coming.  I thought he just wanted to make sure I found my way out.  Maybe he did, but he also wanted to find out what happened between Peter and me.

We started talking about it, and ended up standing at the bottom of the Campus Center stairs for a while.  As I watched his blue eyes, I detected a tenderness, though I wasn’t sure what kind.

He asked me if he should talk to Peter if he ever slowed down from all his busyness, and I said, “If you think it would help.”

He said he would tell him, “I got you two together.”  He asked me how I was doing; I said I still cried every now and then.  He offered a listening ear if I wanted to talk more in some private place, which I didn’t at that time.

He asked if I needed a hug, and I said, “Every once in a while.”

As I smiled at him, he said that with my big brown eyes, I reminded him of a deer caught in headlights.  I laughed.  He was about to go, and spread his arms, but I glanced at the lounge doors, and he said someone could walk in on us.  We said good-bye, and I went to pick up a Mirror (which I’d helped lay out), feeling good.

I decided I wanted to talk to him again later, in my private room, since he had a roommate and Candice had already moved out.  I thought about this as I swept up all the dust bunnies under Candice’s recently vacated bed, and about things I wanted to tell him about.

An earlier fantasy probably came to mind, even though I didn’t plan on such a thing ever happening: A few weeks earlier, I imagined Shawn coming to my room to talk with me and comfort me, and kissing me.

I didn’t dare expect him to make a pass at me.  All I really wanted was to talk to a guy about the whole thing, and especially him, since he was the devoted Christian I’d admired all year.  I wanted a guy’s perspective, especially a Christian guy’s.

After dinner, I hesitated.  I told myself, “I’m sure his offer still stands.”  I called him up and asked him to come over.  He said he’d be over in a few minutes.

I hung up and prepared the room for a visitor.  I decided against chewing gum just in case it would look suspicious; after all, how could I talk with gum in my mouth?

I had so much to say, but when he came in and sat on a corner of Candice’s old bed and I sat hunched over on mine, I began to blank out, not knowing where to begin.  The discussion started out slowly, Shawn constantly looking at his watch and making me wonder if he was pressed for time.  That only increased the pressure on me, which made it even harder to think of words or to speak.

He finally had me sit beside him, which made it somewhat easier for me.  We had a much better discussion, me finally discovering what kinds of things could’ve been going through Peter’s mind.

All of a sudden, Shawn had me sit in front of him, me facing out, with his arms around me.  “This is an interesting position,” I said, trying, unsuccessfully (I thought because of his silence), to make a joke.  He said certain kinds of physical contact make it easier to talk.

I talked about the misgivings I’d had about Peter.  There were still a few silences, especially when things got stranger:

Shawn began to stroke my hair and nuzzle the top of my head with his chin.  Once he asked me if I was ticklish, and proceeded to find out where.

Shawn asked if I knew how to give a back rub, said he’d been looking for someone to give him one, and then gave me one.  He even rubbed my neck.

He asked if I was blind without my glasses, and took them off.  He took off his own glasses, looked through mine, and said, “You are blind!”

He said he’d like to know how I’d look in a fishtail or bun, and piled my hair on the top of my head.  He bent to look at me, said “Nah,” and let it fall back down.

He began to stroke the lower side of my cheek and chin.  Was my fantasy coming true?  To encourage him, I said I wondered if I should start dating again.  He began rubbing his cheek against mine.

“Who would you date?” he said.

“Anyone who’d ask me, I guess,” I said, then, “With discretion, of course.”

He bent down to the right to look at my clock, which was set on military time, taking me with him.  He moved his head so his lips were closer to mine.  I turned my head toward him slightly.

He moved the fingers of his right hand around my mouth, touching my lips on the right side.  I was nervous.  He said, “What would you do if I kissed you?”  I said, “I don’t know.”  He kissed me then–for a long time.

I was so stunned that this was actually happening, that I could barely remember to kiss back.  He kissed me at least once more.

I didn’t know what to think of things.  If ever I looked like a trapped deer, it was probably then.

He said he was being flame-broiled by the heater, and the bar at the head of the bed bothered him, so we moved to my bed.  He said he didn’t want to be serious, and I said, “It doesn’t have to be serious.”

(I was thinking of the various dating relationships: dating but can see other people, serious and can’t see other people.)

He laid half-on and half-off the bed, and tried to get me on top of him, but I kept rolling off to one or side, and once or twice pulled my legs up so I was, as he termed it, in a ball.  He said once while I was still on him, “Now you kiss me,” but I couldn’t.  He said once, “Am I that grotesque?”  I said, “No!  I’m just used to Peter.”

I was right!  Shawn had a crush on me!  And I had a crush on him!  But he was moving way too fast!

He sat on top of me and began massaging me all over, telling me to relax.  I expected a Christian guy to stop before touching my breasts, but he didn’t, so I tried to block him.

He kept saying, “Relax, don’t worry,” and asking why I tried to stop him.  I thought a Christian should know why; I was too embarrassed to explain.

There was more massaging, more kissing, and more of him trying to touch or kiss me in that area.

Then he began doing other things, which are explicit in my diary but I won’t describe them here, you voyeurs–

“What’re you doing?” I cried.  I told him I had to go to the bathroom.

He sat up.  He tried to pull up my shirt, but my hands flew down over it.  I got up and smoothed my hair, then fled to the bathroom.

I sat there a few minutes longer than I needed, putting my head in my hands.

When I came back, he seemed to have vanished.  I looked around; he walked toward me from the corner by the closet.  I closed the door.

We sat on the bed, apart this time.  He lamented not being in control; he said he screwed up.

“What did you think it meant when I kissed you?” he said.

“I thought it meant you liked me,” I said.

“I do like you.”

We talked for a bit; we both had conflicting thoughts about each other.

I described mine as being attracted one day, then wanting to be friends the next.  He thought we were just “playing around,” “blowing off some steam,” that he was making me feel more attractive.

“You should have explained your reasons before you acted,” I said.  “When you said you didn’t want to be serious, I thought you meant you didn’t want to date exclusively.  Not, you don’t want to date at all.”

“I don’t deserve you,” he said.  “So what are we going to be: casual acquaintances, friends, or a one-night stand?”

We laughed, since “one-night stand” was a joke.  (No, no sex–don’t go there.)

We finally decided to be prayer partners, meeting every Saturday for about half an hour.  We shook hands, agreeing to be friends.  We agreed to keep this whole thing a secret.  Then he left.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

The Great Zipper Caper–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1992, Part 1

My New Life Begins

In my diary, I referred to the Old Group and the New Group.  The Old Group was made up of some international students I’d sat with during dinner in fall semester and Winterim.

I never felt connected enough with them to stay with them, though, and Spring Semester, I joined the New Group.  This was Sharon, Pearl, Cindy, Catherine, Rachel, and whoever else happened to come along and sit with them, such as Tara, Carol, and Sarah.

But for a while, I still sat with the Old Group for some meals.  Gradually, by sophomore year, I felt so much an outsider with them and so much an insider with the New Group that the New Group became my main group, and I stopped sitting with the Old Group entirely.  I wonder if they even noticed.

I now had Persuasive Writing with Bill.  This guy was obsessed with maps.  I don’t remember if he brought them into Persuasive much, but he did in Sophomore Honors.

He had also written a book about the Lincoln Highway, which got published, and loved to talk about that.  He passed it around one day; there were a lot of pictures, and the map showed that the highway went through or around South Bend.

Persuasive was no longer the bugaboo it once had been, the tale to scare young freshmen with.  I liked this class, which was quite different from the horror Candice and her friends thought it was with Christina as teacher.

In this class I learned how to write persuasively (of course), that there was a Donner Party who got stuck in the snowy mountains of California in the pioneer days and ended up eating each other, how to research papers, and how to summarize the research you find.

The main objective of the class was to write a long, persuasive paper which would be turned in near the end of the semester.  All semester, you worked on researching it, and in April you did a short presentation on the subject.

My paper was on ESP, since Peter had sparked my interest in it.  I tried to persuade that it does exist.  It was such a relief to turn the paper in late in April; after that, I just had to revise it, which wasn’t nearly as time-consuming or nerve-wracking.

A young Maura O’Hara was in that class with me, a pretty redhead with cat eyes who was maybe a couple years older than me.  Her mother may also have been in that class, also a Maura O’Hara, but much stouter.  I would get to know these two women better in about two years, when I became engaged to Phil O’Hara.

The Great Zipper Caper

My adviser, Counselor Dude, taught my Poetry class.  We workshopped poems.  This meant that we each had to write about twelve poems over the semester, turn in enough copies for the whole class in Counselor Dude’s mailbox, and then later go and pick up a completed poetry packet for the next class period.  Then we sat at the table, the writer of a poem read it, and we made comments on it.

As for Counselor Dude, he used cuss words I had never heard before (such as “jack sh–“).  Many times each session, I had to think of the euphemism for a cuss word he used.  If I didn’t do this, the memory of the word he said would keep playing through my brain; if I did do this, I would lessen the chance of slipping up and using the word myself one day.  I still use this trick, and it works.

To Counselor Dude, it seemed, every poem had something to do with sex.  When he talked, it would be slow and low, even drawling the f– word.  Julie loved the “classy” way he said f–.

When choosing poetry books to read for class, we weren’t supposed to read anything by Jim Morrison or Bob Dylan because they were “lyrics,” and Counselor Dude didn’t consider them poetry.  Catherine, who loved Jim Morrison, disagreed, thinking that Morrison wrote poetry, not just lyrics.  As I saw on a Morrison documentary several years later, this was true.

Catherine sat next to a guy named Christopher, a non-trad, probably in his thirties, with a non-conformist, joker attitude.  He was also very nice.  The following year, he was in my astronomy class, and sat cracking jokes the whole time.  (I loved that because the class was very boring).  He had a jean jacket, shaggy brown hair, and glasses.

His poems amused us and became infamous; some people called him Penisman.  He did “The Great Zipper Caper” about a guy who got his penis caught in his zipper and had to go to the hospital, one merely titled “8-5-91” which described a demon onslaught, and “Montezuma’s Revenge” about the “demons of the toilet.”  I’d copy them for you, but don’t have the rights to them.  I think I can copy this part of “Montezuma’s Revenge,” however:

Demons of the toilet,
Leave my a– alone. 
I just came here to take a sh–, 
Not for my sins atone. 

One day during class, Counselor Dude picked up a pen, pointed it upwards, and said, “Talking about the male member….”  He said it slowly and drawled the last word, as was his wont.  The pen, pointing up like that, appeared to represent–well, the male member–but he didn’t do it on purpose.  He didn’t even realize it until everyone started laughing.

When I first signed up for the Mirror Practicum course, which basically was an hour of credit for working on the Mirror newspaper staff, I expected to have particular duties.  Peter and I wanted to be on the staff together, and I was going to be the darkroom assistant, getting credit now for what I had done for fun before.

Counselor Dude asked if I wanted to be a reporter.  I didn’t want to because I had very little interest in journalism: Being forced to write nothing but facts about other people bored me, and I was too shy to go out and interview people or find news.

But Counselor Dude grabbed Bill and asked him if I could write articles without being a reporter.  Bill said, “Yeah, she can be a newswriter, and get stuff that comes through the wire instead of doing leg work.”  I didn’t know what “through the wire” meant, but it sounded good to me, so I agreed.

The Mirror Practicum class and Mirror staff met in the Mirror suite every week.  Peter was in there, as were Dan, Julie, Pearl, and others.

In one of these first meetings, while Peter wasn’t around, Darryl said, “I know about you and Peter, and if you don’t want to be his darkroom assistant anymore, I understand.”  (Darryl and Julie were the editors and “in charge.”)

I was stunned that Darryl already knew about the breakup, the first week in February.  I still wanted to be Peter’s assistant, and I expected I would be since the Mirror staff was set up that way.  That didn’t have to end just because we broke up, since this was school, not a relationship thing.

In one of the following meetings, Peter announced that one of his friends was now the darkroom assistant.  I found this extremely distasteful and insulting.

For one thing, Peter never asked me if I wanted to give it up; for another, it insulted my abilities as a darkroom assistant.

This sudden switch basically said I was darkroom assistant not because of my abilities but because I was Peter’s girlfriend, and that I couldn’t hold the job on my own merits if we were to break up.  That was humiliating.

No one ever gave me newswriting assignments or told me where this wire was or how I was supposed to get stories from it.  They knew I had signed up only on condition that I wouldn’t be a reporter, so they didn’t assign me stories from around campus.

I no longer was darkroom assistant.  So now my main duties were helping out wherever I was needed.  Julie said I could be a typist; since I loved to type, that would be perfect.  I went to the library, bought an Apple disc at the main desk, and typed up articles on one of the Apple computers on the first floor.  (In those days, we still used 5″ discs; the 3 1/2″ discs for my word processor were newfangled.)

At least once, I also helped the Layout staff by proofreading.  I was told to highlight every mistake I saw while reading the proofs, and write the correction above it.  I had wanted to do this for a long time, since the Mirror‘s typos were legendary, and nonverbal learning disorder heightens your attention to detail.  But to my dismay, none of my corrections made it to the final copy.

As for Peter, he missed a lot of meetings, and stopped being listed in the paper as Photo Editor as early as March.  So Mirror meetings got much less stressful.  One semester was enough for me, however: My career aspirations did not include newspaper work.

****

According to Counselor Dude, my Roanoke placement (SEED) tests had shown problems with reading speed and comprehension, though I was skilled at reading/understanding individual words, spelling and punctuation.

I didn’t know then that this is a common problem with nonverbal learning disorder.

Counselor Dude recommended that I take Reading Workshop at some point.  (According to a test I did in Reading Workshop, I read 286 words per minute–which a little Googling shows to be average for college students.  So apparently I wasn’t as slow as everyone told me I was.  I just didn’t have a “good” reading speed.)  So I signed up to take it Spring Semester.

When I told Candice and Peter, they were surprised, wondering why I would need such a course when I did so well in other ones.  Now, when I began to take it, Sharon said that even if I was a slow reader, it didn’t really matter because I did so well in my courses.

When I first walked into class, I saw that nearly everyone in it was an international student, trying to improve their skills in English as a second language.  (I don’t remember Counselor Dude cussing so much in here; maybe he didn’t want to teach the international students the wrong vocabulary words.)

I felt uncomfortable, since it seemed like the class was more for non-native speakers and people who didn’t do as well in school as I did.

As for the material, it often seemed below my skills.  For example, at least two of the books were on vocabulary building, and I had just come out of three years of AP English classes teaching college-level vocabulary.  After two or three days of classes, I decided Reading Workshop wasn’t for me, and dropped it.

Mystery Science Theater: 3000 helped keep me going during this time, too: It was an oasis I could go to every weekend, someplace that had nothing whatsoever to do with Peter.  Not only had I never watched it with him, but he didn’t even get the Comedy Channel.  It was my own thing; it was a cool thing.  The Comedy Channel, by the way, would be renamed Comedy Central early sophomore year.

Early in February I thought of transferring to Adrian College in Michigan.  That had been my second choice of colleges.  Mom knew someone who went there and loved it.  I would be able to build my own major; though there was no Writing major (just Journalism), I could take English and Literature.

They sent me a letter saying if I had second thoughts about the choice I made, they would love me to transfer there.  The letter also included a business card for the college.

I pondered and pondered it, and told my parents.  I wondered if this other college, which was Christian, would be more along the lines of what I had expected a Christian college to be.  I wondered if the guys would be nicer, the people less likely to make fun of my beliefs, the dances more likely to play Christian music.  I had chosen a Christian college because I didn’t want to go to a secular college.

One day, I told Julie how I felt.  She said the college president had just addressed the students about problems on campus.  He wanted to improve the school and make it more Christian.  I decided to stay and give RC another shot.  I gazed at the beautiful campus as I walked around; I did not want to leave it.

As it turns out, my parents wouldn’t have let me transfer anyway: They didn’t want to change financial aid.

On February 24, I wrote in my diary everything I’d want to say if Peter ever came back to me.  And it is full of NVLD traits–and reminds me that I knew about NVLD before I knew what it was called:

I think there are some things about me you should know so you’ll stop this nonsense about me doing so many insignificant things [one of my friends called his breakup reasons “so petty!”], and cut me some slack, as they say nowadays.  

First, for so many of my school years I felt ostracized.  I made friends easily [or so I thought, though looking back I didn’t], but still people would tease me about the way I walked, or being weird, or playing with my hands until about the end of the fourth grade, or whatever.

Even my best friend from down the street ended up treating me bad.

This is probably why I closed off around fifth or sixth grade and had to go to a psychologist (who, by the way, was the first person to hypnotize me).

I’ve never fully recovered from a sense of weirdness, even though I’ve made great progress.  I actually felt “not weird” for a time senior year, until those guys in art class shot me back down and humiliated me.  I still get this sense of insecurity every once in a while.

Second, part of the reason for my “ostracism” was probably the type of child I was.  I’ve read about it in the newspaper.  

There’s a type of child that never picks up on all of the rules of body language, and their peers think they’re weird because they can’t relate to each other.  

That was me.  I was, in a sense, in my own little world.  I never even learned the basics of social interaction and common courtesy, which I didn’t start to pick up on until I was going to my psychologist.

Even saying “hi” was foreign to me.  I finally got myself saying “hi” and eventually “bye” whenever someone said it to me, but I’ve only recently been able to start saying it first.  I’m still studying my peers to see what you do in certain situations.

Also, just ask my mom, she always had trouble getting me to say “thank you.”  As I said, I was in my own little world, and I didn’t learn these things, not even when my parents tried to teach me.  I’m still often uncertain what to do.

Third, I don’t always know why I do things.  I don’t know for sure why I refused to go up to Becky’s house that night [when I was with Peter in South Bend].  I think maybe my subconscious was afraid her parents would think, “What in the world are you doing out at this hour?  And who’s he [my boyfriend]?  Becky’s not even here.”

Actually, it’s quite simple: I figured social conventions would be against me showing up late in the evening unannounced, especially if she didn’t know I was in town.  Here, the boyfriend was probably the one in the wrong about social rules.

… I don’t know for sure why I’m so afraid of driving.  Maybe I’m just afraid of cars; I don’t know.  I also don’t know for sure why I didn’t want to go “midnight sledding” with my friends last Friday night.  I guess I’m just not one for spontaneity.

If I’ve already planned or expected my day or evening to go one way, a sudden change is unwelcome, no matter what it is.  If it’s a dance not announced previously, I probably won’t go.  If it’s a change of plans for a date, such as rollerskating instead of the movies, I’ll probably choose the original plan, no matter how much I like rollerskating.

I don’t even know why this is.  Maybe I just like to know what’s going to happen.

This is who I am, and you’ll have to take me this way.

 

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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